Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Quick, Easy Grilled Veggies and Sausages

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a dinner recipe. Summer got me off track and now I’m in warp speed with school activities and soccer practices. It’s hard to get motivated to cook a meal that requires sautéing or the use of multiple pots and dishes when your after-meal activities involve baths, homework and bedtime book reading—all within an hours time. After my boys go to bed, I’m desperate for 30 minutes to myself—not an hour of clean-up in the kitchen.

Last night I was faced with the reality of putting together a healthy meal in about 20 minutes. Two nights a week, my oldest has soccer practice and by the time we all return, my three-year-old will instantly start climbing the pantry, trying to grab any snacks he can reach. Yesterday I had planned to bake a chicken and accompany it with grilled veggies, but the evening got away from us and by the time we got back home, I didn’t have the time to bake a whole chicken—but why not the grilled veggies? And, since I had pre-cooked chicken sausages from Trader Joes in the fridge, I realized I could put together a complete meal in one pan, with little clean up. If you’re a fan of Jamie Oliver, (the naked chef), like I am—this meal is very similar to his side dishes for winter roasts. So who says you can’t make side dishes the main attraction? And, you know what? My boys ate it up! Even the brussel sprouts. There’s something about roasted garlic and onions with a touch of salt that makes everything yummy. I hope you enjoy this last-minute creation as much as we did!

Ingredients:

2 sweet (Maui or Vidalia) onions, cut into wedges

1 pack of 6 pre-cooked sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, cut into 1 inch slices

6 cloves of garlic, sliced.

1 pack of cut brussel sprouts

1 small bag of fingerling Russian potatoes or variety pack of gold and purple potatoes, cut in half

Marcona almonds with rosemary (This is optional, but add them, or other nuts, afterwards before serving for a bit of a crunch)

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Instructions:

– Preheat oven to 410 degrees Ferenheit

– In one grilling pan, add brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, potatoes and sliced sausages

– Coat with olive oil

– Add sea salt and pepper to taste

– With clean hands, toss and coat well

Cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are brown

– Cool for 5 minutes

– Add a handfull of marcona almonds for extra crunch

– Serve in bowls and enjoy!

A Vegetarian Meal Your Kid Will Love

Guest Post by: Megan Madeux, author of the blog Shop, Eat, Yoga

I reached out to Megan after a friend lamented to me that her daughter suddenly announced that she would never eat meat again. Well, I remember doing that to my parents when I was a little girl. I was the only one in my family of six who stopped eating meat and my mom refused to be a short-ordered cook … So I often ended up making meals by picking from side dishes such as potatoes or green beans. If your child has stopped eating meat—or if you’re just seeking a delicious way to introduce more vegetables to your kiddos—Megan came up with a great all-in-one meal. Here is a delicious and nutritious Lentil Curry recipe that your picky little ones just might eat!

Lentil Curry by Megan Madeux:

For this recipe feel free to use any version of the ingredients that you have on hand! It can be easily thrown together from your pantry. I have provided my suggested variations in the ingredient list below. It serves about 5 hungry vegetarians and meat eaters alike. There are usually some leftovers that can be gobbled up the next day, hot or cold! Kids love the flavor and they don’t even realize that it is packed with super healthy immune boosting ingredients.

Ingredients:

5-7 green onions

1 Tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic or 3 garlic cloves

2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola Oil

1  8 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (I like Contadina. For chunkier curry you can use diced or whole peeled tomatoes)

1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (If you use a 28 ounce can of diced or whole tomatoes, use a 14 ounce can of tomato sauce here)

1 package of prepared lentils from the refrigerated section in Trader Joe’s (You can start with the dry lentils as well, about 3 cups. Prepare them according to package directions. They usually need to soak for a few hours or overnight)

1 head of cauliflower or 1 prepared package from Trader Joe’s

Sea Salt

Black Pepper (Black pepper aids digestion!)

2 cups of Jasmine Rice (White, brown or your personal favorite)

For spicier curry:

Add 1 can of Diced Tomatoes for Fire Roasted Tomatoes from Trader Joe’s

Directions:

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Once hot, add the sliced green onions. I like to trim them over the pan using scissors for less clean up. Use the white, light green and dark green parts.

Let the onions simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add the curry powder, garlic and salt and pepper.

Stir and let simmer for another 3-5 minutes until the spices and the onions become integrated.

Add the can of crushed tomatoes, lentils, and the cauliflower. Let simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the rice that you have chosen according to package directions.

Add the can of diced tomatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes more until the cauliflower begins to soften and you can break it up into smaller pieces with your spoon.

Must-Haves For Your Pantry

Single parents always watch their budgets—so I know it’s a hard sell to convince us to stock up our pantry with expensive items. But believe me, it will make life SO much easier if you do. With certain go-to items always on your shelves, you can whip up a last-minute pasta, chicken or fish dish that is healthy and flavorful for your kiddos. And from an expense perspective, stocking up the pantry with these items each month will save you money in the long run. Ordering pizza or grabbing fast food two or three times a week isn’t as cheap as you think. If you haven’t read this New York Times article, “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?” I highly recommend it!

Even if you don’t go out to eat much during the week, serving your children processed foods like chicken nuggets and hotdogs or frozen or canned meals— loaded up with sodium—sets them on the path to obesity, or a limited palate at the very least. My time living in Europe inspired me to try to always serve one meal and eat with my children—helping them to develop healthier, broader tastes—and letting us enjoy more quality time together. Trust me, kids will eat what you do, eventually. I saw my son when he was three (now 10) eating chicken curry pie with beats and parsnips at his nursery school in London. It’s eye-opening, but for another blog post.

So, as I was saying, I know it’s exhausting after a long day at work to come home and cook and then have clean-up later. But I promise you if you can aim to do it five nights a week, it will improve your health, your waistline and your children’s health dramatically. Here are my monthly must-have pantry items. They have been lifesavers on many evenings as I’ve been able to throw together tasty pasta or add more flavor to veggies, sides or invent a quick pork or chicken dish. If you have a Trader Joe’s or a CostCo near you, you can really save money stocking up on these. And if you have any to add to my list, please chime in! I’d love to know your favorite staples.

Laura’s Must-Haves In the Pantry:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Capers
  • Whole Grain Mustard
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Olives (I’m in love with spanish green with whole garlic cloves in the center at the moment, but also have canned black, green and mixed on hand.)
  • Canned White Tuna Fish in Water. (Only eat once a week, at the most, due to methyl mercury. Read this article I wrote about the top pollutants for our children.)
  • Crushed Ginger Paste
  • Dried Oregano
  • Pitted Prunes
  • Dried Apricots
  • Lazy Chopped Garlic
  • Mango Chutney
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts
  • Jar of marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • Pine nuts
  • Marcona almonds
  • Can of large white beans
  • Chopped walnuts
  • All fruit spreads: raspberry, blueberry, apricot
  • Soy sauce
  • Figs
  • Good Large can of cream Tomato Vodka Sauce
  • Cans of Chopped Tomatoes.

Wild Salmon with Gyoza, in 15 Minutes

Trader Joe’s to the Rescue!

This week has been INSANE!! Trying to cook healthy meals for my little ones has been an incredible juggling act between all of my kid’s activities, my oldest son’s tests and homework projects and my just-turned 3-year-olds hunger and temper tantrums. Let me back up. I think many cook books, magazines, food shows, etc. forget to cater to the reality of today’s frazzled single mom—who on some nights, has literally only minutes to get a meal on the table. On nights with extra-curriculars, I have a finite amount of time to feed my kiddos, sometimes only 15 minutes. Any excess chopping needs, can throw me off due to the crazed demands of my toddler who behaves like a terrorist at dinner time. My three-year-old must eat by 6/6:30 or he will nosh his way through my cooking time and then not eat the healthy, nutritious meal I worked so hard to prepare. He literally climbs the shelves in my pantry (that won’t lock!), grabbing crackers, chips or breakfast bars, and has temper tantrums when I say no—delaying my meal prep even more. So when I’m rushing home from soccer practice at 6:15 this past Tuesday, I started to panic. The coach went over and I didn’t get home with my two little guys until 6:30. I was desperate to have them eat a healthy meal and not succumb to the ease of pizza delivery or a fast food drive through —especially after my youngest’s bday party on Monday! So with that in mind, I quickly put baby carrots and apple slices around some hummus for the boys to snack on, popped in a Fireman Sam DVD, and raced to put together a meal in 15 minutes. I have to say, it was an amazing success! Both boys ate all of it, and my oldest even said he’d like it again. I’m thrilled that I found another quick, yummy meal that gives my boys: Omegas, calcium and protein from the salmon as well as vitamins K, C, A & Bs from the snap peas. And the confetti rice, with ginger, baby corn and lemon grass, is scrumptious.

Ingredients from Trader Joe’s:

Gyoza sauce, wild salmon sockeye fillets I bought on Sunday for $8.99 a pound, frozen confetti rice, a bag of snap peas and ginger dressing.

Prep: 4 minutes Bake: 10 – 15 minutes

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F

2. Place 2 – 3 salmon fillets in a glass baking dish and pour TJ’s Gyozo sauce on top and place in oven. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets.

3. Steam TJ’s snap peas 5 – 7 minutes, then transfer to small bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of TJ’s ginger sauce if desired.

4. Place one bag of TJ’s frozen confetti rice in microwave. Take frozen rice out of bag and into microwave safe bowl. Follow microwave cooking directions. (I microwaved mine for 3 minutes, then fluffed it with a fork, and microwaved again for 2 more minutes. )

5. Serve and Enjoy!

Stuffed Shells: What’s NOT to Love?

This week my son and I made stuffed shells together. (Don’t you love the picture taken by my son?! One might get the idea that I’m June Cleaver … Ha! We all knowbetter!) While my two-year-old was in school, my oldest and I set up an assembly line in the kitchen and stuffed shells, shredded Parm and made a bloody mess. This is such an old-school, yummy recipe, and you can make enough for two dinners and freeze some for another time. (Which should be some consolation for all the clean up involved!) I served mine with a mixed salad, but you could add sauteed spinach to your sauce to make a complete meal. Sorry, this isn’t fat, gluten or dairy free, but so good for a special treat!

Prep: 50 min. Bake: 30 min. Oven: 350 F

Ingredients:

12 oz dried jumbo pasta shells

3 – 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, organic preferred

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped, or two teaspoons pre-chopped lazy garlic

2 28-oz cans peeled and diced tomatoes, or whole and squeeze and chop yourself. (Doctor this with Italian spices, basil, pepper.)

2 handfuls of garlic-marinated mini button mushrooms (found at Trader Joes or other stores in section with olives)

1/3 medium red onion chopped.

1 15 oz carton ricotta cheese (low fat if preferred)

1 1/3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking pan or two, as you may want to freeze a batch.

2. Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to boiling. Add shells and cook until slightly tender, 5 minutes. Drain and arrange a single layer in baking pans.

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and salt and pepper to your liking. Stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef and continue to stir 5 minutes or until no longer pink.

4. For tomato sauce, in a second skillet over low heat, combine remaining olive oil, garlic and undrained tomatoes and mushrooms. Season with Italian spices: a dash or oregano, pepper and basil. Simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture into ground beef, add ricotta and 2/3 cup of the Parmigiano cheese; combine well.

6. Fill each pasta shell with approximately 1 tablespoon meat and cheese combo. Arrange shells into prepared baking dishes and spoon sauce ontop and around. Sprinkle remaining shredded Parmigiano cheese on top.

7. Bake 30 minutes. Enjoy!