field trip friday

back in THIS POST I explained how I shop at many different stores for different things.  These day , most of us have options, and to make the most of your money by utilizing these options just makes plain ol’ sense.   One of my favorite stores is none other than 

none other than Trader Joe’s..   Now some of you may be thinking… really a post about Trader Joe’s?

 

yes.

 

because I happen to know that some of you who read this have the luxury of living not to far from one and still have not yet been.

 

in contrast, I know many of you who do not live near one and would give anything to be able to go.

so yes, folks…  On Friday I went to Trader Joe’s… and this is my story ❤

~it all started one dreary Friday morning…  Lol.. jut kidding * giggle*

 

Tj’s is not your typical grocery store. In fact it is hard to describe. For those of you who think it is a high-end store, such as Whole Foods, you would be wrong. Tj’s is not a big store, but what is packed into each location is soe wonderful things.

They have tons of cheeses…  a food near and dear to my heart. I actually decided this past halloween that trick or treating would be MUCH more fun if it were trick or cheesing.

 

I’m serious. a different cheese at every house? how brilliant would that be?

but really.. it’s true.  they have a whole wall of cheese and it is the best price that you will find around… They have cheeses for all over the world! and often times some seasonal specials…see what I mean?  If you are lucky then you will go on a day that the cheese lady is making the rounds.. ( what a great job that must be 😉  This was a lucky day for me 🙂 cheese snack while shopping?

 

yes. please.

 

Next is the NUTS..  you will not find a better price on nuts anywhere.  And next to the nuts are the dried fruits.  if you are into making your own GRANOLA then tis is your haven….

 

and again…  you wont beat the prices.

 

They have a little counter where an employee is always cooking something to sample.. and a coffe urn for coffe samples. ( the free food samples is a great way to entice kids to go with you 😉

 

the frozen fruits and veggies are also a great deal here ( no pic… I’m sorry)  You wont find any name brands in here.. it is all their own brand … but trust me, the quality is second to none.  On the shelves above the frozen items are all sorts of snacks…  from mini sugar cookies shaped like cats to Ryan’s favorite, chocolate covered orange candies, seasonal crackers, etc….

 

you will find all sorts of canned items at fabulous prices… and lots of ‘meal starters’

 

you will find the friendliest of employees here. .. They truly love their job… love to talk food and recipes.  If you bring your own recyclable bag ( which y’all should be..) then you can enter a ticket into a drawing for a weekly Tj’s Gc!

let’s see.. have I forgotten anything….. probably… I’ll think of it at 3am…

 

so here’s my haul from Friday

 

* please forgive the carpy pics.. I’m currently having camera issues.. hopefully it will be fixed soon…*

 

I wont go over everything… but will talk a bit about what I bought..  The tube of tomato paste? 99 cents.  In the regular grocery store it is around 4 bucks. I bought parsnips… beacause Ry and i had parsnip puree somewhere and it was soo good! I need to work on a solid recipe so that when he comes home for Christmas, we can have it again:)

 

The chocolate bar… to die for!

Dark coconut caramel! yum!  and only 1 points plus per square for those who may be following weight watchers…

 

I bought 2 bags of the inner peas..  and I’m so glad that I did… they are a great snack!

Tjs almond butter is the best. I love this stuff.  Banana and almond butter on toast? yuminess.

 

and B12.. just because 🙂

 

 

the rosemary raisin crisps are one of my favorite things here! so. dang. good.  I think they are only available this time of year.. but I could be wrong.

pomegranate Kefir? yes. please.

 

the cheeses? both brie rounds and goat cheese rounds… each 2 pp and perfectly portioned.  Cute little mushrooms to stuff…  snow peas to steam right in the bag..

 

here is something else that you will find here…  great spice blends… with built in grinders…  all 2 bucks. beat that!

 

*do you see what I see?*

 

* the sugar, coffee bean and chocolate blend is amazing on hot chocolate! *

 

so there you have it… I hope that if you have not been to this store yet, you will find time in your future to do so. it really is like a little field trip;)

 

on lastly.. on my fb page ( like much of the free world) I have been posting what I am thankful for during this month of gratitude.  Today, I am thankful not only fo the extra hour of sleep this morning, but also that my pup, Fenway, is thankful for it as well..

happy Sunday friends 🙂

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banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!

NEEEEXXXXTTT…

I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…

OR

2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

English Toffee Squares

you had me at ‘English’

I love tea…

I love trifle…

I love toffee..

not so sure about Scotch Eggs but Ryan insists that they will be delicious…..  we’ll see.

someday.

maybe.

back to the cookie~ when I came across this recipe,  I knew this HAD  to be my cookie of the day.

English Toffee Squares

you will need :

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped nuts ( I used almonds, because that’s what  I had )

(pesky elf optional)

so remember butterbutt from last year? She did it again.

I pulled out the ingredients to get to room temperature before I went to the gym & when I came home, a stick of butter was missing.

Guess who is  in the doghouse

and guess who learned her lesson about how high to store the butter 😉

Ok.. start by preheating the over to 275 degrees & lining a small cookie sheet  (15 x10 ) with parchment paper ( I was out of parchment paper, so I used aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray)

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter & sugar until creamy; scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Separate the egg

and mix the yolk into the butter mixture.

In another bowl, sir together flour & cinnamon. add to the butter mixture & mix until blended.

Dump the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet & with oiled hands, press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan. It takes a few minutes to get it all flattened out, but trust me, it will lay out nicely.

Quickly whisk the egg white( I used the flour bowl, one less bowl to wash) then brush the egg white over the dough mixture

sprinkle the chopped nuts on top

and gently press into dough

Bake at 275 for 1 hour. Remove from oven & let cool just a bit, then cut into squares.

*note* using the parchment/ foil makes it easy to lift the entire bar out & trnasfer to a cutting board to make easier cutting. The foil seemed to stick to the back a little, but I was able to peel the part that stuck off. I think that with parchment this wouldn’t have been an issue.

I was astounded at how delicious these are.

when I first read that there was cinnamon in the dough I was a bit unsure, but seriously.. without the cinnamon & nuts & butter, they taste just like Baklava!!!

These will be on my cookie list every year for the rest of my life.

in the meantime, would someone please come over & eat all of these for me? like immediately? So that I don’t

thanks!

xoxoox

Oatmeal

I like LOVE oatmeal.  Like really, really love oatmeal.  So much in fact, that if I could MARRY oatmeal, we’d have been to Vegas YEARS ago!

And the best part…. it is SO good for you!!I’ve been hearing about ‘overnight oats’ for awhile now, but it took me until last month to google it to see exactly what they are…

I’m so glad that I did… I need up finding   Kath eats real food.  Kerf for short.  Not only is she an inspiration for her weight loss story, but her blog is very informative!!!!

So what did I learn there? All about overnight oats  😉

They are basically a oatmeal that you don’t cook!  You start by mixing your oatmeal with whatever liquid that you like the night before you want to eat them …

you can use any kind of oatmeal, but for me, I think that these are my Favorite!!!!

I mix 1/3 of a cup of TJ’s quick steel cut oats with 2/3 cup fat free milk.. I mix it in my cute little rubbermaid container, ( with the top on) give it a little shakey-shake and put in  them in the fridge and head off to sleep.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In the morning, take the oatmeal from it’s cute container and that is your base for your oatmeal. The oats will have absorbed the liquid & are now ready to be topped with endless varieties!

I start by defrosting some frozen raspberries

then add the oats, milk & all

I topped it with a little bit of  ♥almond butter ♥ ( you could use peanut butter, but if you have the opportunity, & you like almonds, try the almond butter 🙂

This time of year, I am enjoying it cold, but if you prefer it warm, just warm it in the microwave!

This was yesterday’s breakfast..

This morning I topped my awesome oats with

Coconut butter!!

This is a new product to me. It is SOO cool.. It is stored at room temperature, & is the consistency of melted peanut butter but when it gets cold (like when added to my overnight oats) It gets a sort of ‘shell’ like the chocolate shell on an ice cream cone!! It is sooo tasty!! A bit on the pricey side, but I’ve been looking into a way to make it at home, making it far more affordable.

I also have my standard raspberries, 1/2 of a banana, a bit of almond butter & a sprinklin’ of slivered almonds

YUM!!  if you look closely you can see how the amazing coconut butter has hardened 😉

I can’t wait for tomorrow morning!

♥♥♥♥overnight oats♥♥♥♥

xoxox~shel

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