Friday, October 26, 2012

Trader Joes to the Rescue

I am a Trader Joe's fanboy.  I can't help it - there are so many meals that practically make themselves by shopping just a few ingredients and, for the most part, are healthy and wholesome.  If you have perused the shelves of a Trader Joe's, you what a fun and different experience it is as compared to a typical supermarket.  Because I shop TJ's so often, I have many-a-meal in my repertoire that I depend on, made solely with TJ's specific ingredients.  These meals are tasty, quick, and inexpensive.  There are no measurements because you won't need them - these meals are so easy and fail proof, you simply add as much of an ingredient as you like, unless noted.  Bear in mind I don't eat red meat or pork, so even within my limited scope, there are a ton of dinner options.

A typical TJ's haul
Chicken Andouille Sausage with Potato and Vegetable Hash
TJ's shopping list: Chicken andouille sausage, frozen potato hash, green beans, mushrooms
How to:  Cut sausage in half and pan fry.  Empty frozen potato hash bag into skillet, saute with extra green beans and mushrooms.

Mixed Greens with chicken, pepitas, goat cheese, orange cranberries
TJ's shopping list:  Baby greens, just chicken (precooked in the deli section), pepitas, 4oz goat cheese, orange cranberries, Tuscan balsamic dressing
How to:  It's a salad for pete's sake.  Mix together and serve.

Polenta with Sausage Mushroom Ragout (based on this recipe)
TJ's shopping list:  premade polenta roll (near the pasta), parmesan cheese, chicken andouille sausage, red wine, pasta sauce (marinara), mushrooms, bell peppers
How to: Slice polenta and sausage into rounds.  Put polenta rounds on a oiled baking sheet, cover with a scoop (tbsp) of grated parmesan, broil until browned and toasty.  Saute sausage rounds in skillet until browned.  Add chopped mushrooms and bell peppers, then cover with a cup of red wine.  Add bottle of marinara and heat until warmed.  Top polenta with ragout, then more parmesan.
Ingredients for shrimp risotto
Chilean shrimp risotto with peas
TJ's shopping list: Chilean frozen shrimp, boxed mushroom risotto (in the pasta and rice section), chicken broth (I always buy the one WITH fat, not fat free), an onion, extra mushrooms if you so desire, frozen peas.
How to:  Cook the risotto according to the directions on the package (add mushrooms to rice when sauteing), throw in defrosted shrimp  as well.  Add peas at the last moment and warm through.
Chicken and Vegetable Yellow Curry
TJ's shopping list: Yellow curry simmer sauce, chicken breasts, frozen vegetable medley, frozen garlic naan, frozen samosas
How to:  Heat your oven up and started baking the samosas.  Keep the oven hot so you can throw your naan in at the last moment (side note, I also found you can put the naan in the toaster and it turns out well without heating up the kitchen).

            Cut up raw chicken into bite sized pieces.  Salt and pepper, then saute them in a nonstick skillet until almost done.  Pour in the simmer sauce and veggies and cook until veggies are heated and chicken is cooked through.

Pollo Asada with Salad and Quesadillas
TJ's shopping list:  Pollo Asada, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, black  beans, limes, homemade tortillas (homemade by TJ's), shredded cheddar blend
How to:  Grill up their asada.  Pair with a salad with bell peppers and black beans (vinaigrette with lime and shallot goes really well here).  The way I make my quesadillas is to salt the bottom of a non stick skillet, put in a tortilla then add cheese, crank it up to very hot until it gets toasted and the cheese starts to melt, then stick the other tortilla on top and flip so the other side can toast and get crispy.

Baked Cod with Roasted Veggies
TJ's shopping list:  Frozen breaded cod, blend of broccoli and cauliflower (or any other veggies you like),  rice pilaf
How to:  Crank up the oven.  Place your cod on a baking sheet and bake per the instructions.  Toss your veggies with olive oil and S&P, put them on a separate jelly roll pan and into the oven.  Your veggies will be done just about the same time as the fish. 

Our Favorite Italian Sandwich
TJ's shopping list:  French Baguette, Olive Tapenade (the refrigerated one near the hummus),   magically sliced fresh mozzarella, basil leaves (you can add proscuitto if that's your gig)
How to:  Slice the baguette.  Take out some of the white part so your sandwich is not so bread-y.  Slather the tub of tapenade on the bottom piece and use the whole tub for one baguette.  Peel the cheese pieces and layer across the sandwich, then do the same with the basil and proscuitto, if using.  Salt and pepper.  Would also be great as a panini.  Serve with a salad and/or TJ's salt and pepper chips.  SO GOOD.

Soy Marinated Cod Fillets with Green Beans
TJ's shopping list:   Wild Marinated Frozen Cod, green beans, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, white or brown rice
How to:   Pan fry the defrosted cod.  Steam the green beans until not quite tender.  Meanwhile, saute a knob of ginger and a couple cloves of garlic in a tbsp or two of sesame oil in a skillet.  After a minute, add in a couple tbsp of soy sauce (more if you're me).  Let it boil and reduce for a few more, then toss in the green beans and cook for just another minute.  Serve both over rice.

There are so many more options.  What are you favorite meals made from TJ's ingredients?

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