Posts Tagged ‘Trader Joes’
Hallelujah…we’re finally done our Christmas shopping!! Wrapping those little buggers will be a whole different story…but that can wait until tomorrow! Tonight’s post is about celebrating life’s small achievements – NOW! On the 21st day of this Christmas countdown, what better way to end a nightmare day of standing in long lines, sitting in slow moving traffic, and having no damn place to park, than with some BUBBLY and your honey!
Woohoo! Pop those corks, baby!!
Last night, we decided to celebrate the Tuesday before Christmas. Why, you ask? Why not, I say!
To ring in the New Day, I decided to pop open two badass sparklers from California: the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (Sample, MSRP: $20) and the Mumm Napa Brut Rose (Sample, MSRP: $20). But wait…we need dinner too!
One of my favorite combinations of flavors is Sparkling wine and any foods that have an Asian flare. I find that the wide range of spiciness, sweetness and textures of Asian-infused dishes, or even some Chinese takeout, really complement a refreshing glass of bubbly. Each play well with one another and nobody is starving for attention.
In preparation for the gluttony to come in the next week, I decided to keep things clean, simple and light by preparing a tossed salad with a little twist to have with the sparkling wines:
- 1 Part Trader Joe’s “Champs Elysées Salad” *Green leaf lettuce, frisee, radicchio and carrots mixture
- 1 Part Spring Mix Salad
- A sprinkle of fully-cooked lentils (Also from Trader Joe’s)
- Diced salad beets (Also from Trader Joe’s)
- A sprinkle of chopped walnuts
- A sprinkle of crumbled bleu cheese
- Drizzle with Trader Joe’s Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette
The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige was absolutely brilliant! An assemblage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, it’s crisp and refreshing with flavors of pear, fig and sweet spices, enveloped by creamy vanilla. This sparkler is fruity, spicy and delicious!
My favorite with the salad, though, was the Mumm Napa Brut Rose.
This bubbly, made from 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay – with its fresh and lively strawberry and zippy flavors – played terrifically off the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette, beets and lentils in the salad,
Cheers to celebrating EVERY day!
Ambulance Driver: We had to dig him out from under the most peculiar things I ever saw.
Dr. Hill: What things?
Ambulance Driver: Well, I don’t know what they are, I never saw them before. They looked like great big seed pods.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956
It’s official – I have a serious problem: it’s called edamame obsession.
My first experiences with these beautiful green pods were by way of visits to local Japanese Fusion restaurants. Now, I make regular trips to Trader Joe’s to keep an endless supply in my freezer! Since my indoctrination into the pod people cult, I’ve been popping these cheap, salty little buggers in my mouth every chance I get. However, there are two problems with this:
- ADDICTION (duh!)
- They produce hallucinogenic images in my mind of what is supposed to come next…an amazing assortment of sushi!!
Well, I’m screwed there – take note: Poor Man’s Chef, not Sushi Chef. Miso soup? Umm, nope. Bento box filled with beef and chicken teriyaki? No dice there, either. On most days I usually have some beef or chicken lying around just waiting to be lacquered with coats of teriyaki, but not tonight – our little minka had zilch.
So what did we have?
Much like every other weeknight, I rummaged through the fridge and freezer, searched through cabinets and spice racks to find something good enough to satisfy the craving. I was in dire need of finding something that would fulfill the fantastical images that were floating around in my head of what should come next after sipping on a well-deserved gin and tonic and devouring a 20-inch high pile of steaming hot edamame covered in garlic salt and black pepper.
In my search, I discovered:
- 1pkg. of frozen grilling chorizo sausage
- 1 yellow onion
- ¼ bag of mixed frozen peppers
- 2 handfuls of fresh snow peas
- 1 handful of sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 ready cooked Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links
- 3 slices of deli-sliced sweet honey ham
- Dry cilantro, fresh black and white pepper, and salt from the spice rack
Wine? Hell yeah!! I always have some of that sitting around.
Ok, so not exactly sushi delight, but you‘ll definitely find this three-step dinner to be pretty tasty:
- Grill chorizo sausage.
- Char all the other ingredients on the list in a hot pan coated with olive oil.
- Lay a couple of pieces of grilled chorizo sausage down on a plate and top with the charred ingredients from step 2.
Hoping that it would hit the mark, like the 2007 Calcu Red Blend, I paired my Spanish-inspired dish with the 2008 Calcu Carmenere Reserva (Sample, MSRP: $15 US). Made from 100% Carmenere grapes grown in Chile’s central Colchagua Valley, this tight red needed a shot of coldness to loosen up its smoky grip. So I decided to take it with me on the deck while I was grilling the sausage, and fed it a cool autumn breeze for about 20 minutes.
After giving it a little jolt, the 2008 Calcu Carmenere Reserva expressed penetrating flavors of blackberry, raspberry, and black currants, along with gripping tannins.
3 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Calcu Carmenere Reserva.
Cheers! I’m off for my next edamame score!
The flowers were in a full and glorious bloom in the backyard of our friends, Paula and Ryan Barry, this past 4th of July weekend.
And with nothing but clear blue skies, amber waves of cool night air, and a few shades of Spanish wines to taste test, we all agreed that dining al fresco would be a perfect and relaxing way to ease into the holiday weekend.
To kick things off, we started with a few cocktails…
…and made our way through some tangible heaven that consisted of Spanish Manchego cheese, Extra Sharp Provolone and a little something from Trader Joe’s that I personally never had before called Samosas.
If you’re not familiar with this popular TJ’s appetizer, it’s a flaky layer of pastry crust that houses a dollop of tangy, Indian-inspired vegetables in the center. These crusty little triangles are totally addictive and if you’ve never tried them, you should definitely pick some up on your next visit to Trader Joe’s.
Before we could all just sit back, kick-off our shoes and bark at the moon, we decided to collectively review a few Spanish wines that I received as samples.
First up, was the 2008 Recorba White Wine from Rueda, Spain ($11 MSRP).
This white wine is a blend of 60% Verdejo and 40% Viura grapes that are from 60 year old vines located in La Seca, which is a small location in the heart of the Denomination of Origen Rueda.
So, what was everyone was sayin’ about the 2008 Recorba White Wine?
“A little bit effervescent, great fruit acidity. Reminds me of a really good Sauvignon Blanc.”
“Awesome, razor-sharp acidity. Really great lime and orange peel/tropical flavors.”
“I like this wine a lot and would definitely recommend it to a friend.”
“Clean, fresh – a perfect Spring or Summer white wine. Very good.”
Personally speaking, I’d hook myself up to an IV and have it pumped through my veins on a hot summer day if I could. I gave it – 4 Stars out of 4. Paula was also a big fan of the 2008 Recorba White Wine and wanted to give it 3.5 Stars. Unfortunately, we don’t do half stars here, so Paula opted to go with 3 Stars out of 4. Both Ryan and Mrs. WineLife365 were in agreement and awarded our Spanish delight 3 Stars out of 4 as well.
Verdict: We all loved the 2008 Recorba White Wine. Some a little more than others, but in this case, majority rules: 3 Stars. It’s a terrific buy!
Our second wine of the night was from the same producer – it was the 2008 Recorba Red Wine ($11 MSRP). This particular wine comes from Spain’s well-known Ribera Del Duero wine region. The 2008 Recorba Red Wine is made of 100% selected Tempranillo grapes.
So, did everyone love the 2008 Recorba Red Wine just as much as the 2008 Recorba White Wine? Here’s what we had to say about it:
“Nice vanilla and red berry flavors with a soft finish. Good ‘starter’ red.”
“No flaws. Just a more light-bodied wine than I was hoping for.”
“Doesn’t quite excite me in the same way that the white did.”
“If you enjoy a nice, clean, mild red wine for warm weather sipping – this is nice. Should serve at 58 degrees F. It’s a red wine drinker’s white wine for the summertime.”
This wine was a hit with Ryan – he gave it 4 Stars out of 4. Paula, Mrs. WineLife365 and I all gave it 3 Stars out of 4.
Sorry Ryan…majority rules: 3 Stars. The 2008 Recorba Red seems best suited for many as a starting pitcher rather than a closer.
Ok, I’m starving! Can we eat now?
Thanks Paula and Ryan for a fantastic evening!
You gotta love Trader Joe’s! I recently came across their Tilapia Citronette, and it has quickly become one of my favorites. If you’re not familiar with this dish – its marinated tilapia fillets topped with grilled asparagus and sliced carrots. However, I just have one little problem with it – the cooking directions. The peeps at Trader Joe’s say that you can either nuke this dish or cook it in the oven. Nuking this entree, per the instructions, makes the fish taste more like rubber chicken and the oven directions take way too long.
Luckily, I did not give up on this tasty dish even after having less than stellar results using their instructions. I think that I may have struck gold, though, by using a combination of both suggested methods with my own little spin on them!
First, poke a few holes in the plastic and cook it in the microwave for about six minutes. This will thaw it out a bit and get it ready for oven cooking.
I have 2 different recommendations for completion:
1. Pan sear it a bit on the stovetop and then finish it off by placing it in a 385 degree oven for about 12 minutes.
2. After taking it out of the microwave, cook it up on a medium/high heat stovetop for about 2 minutes on each side.
Either way works perfectly and yields the warm, white, flaky decadence that’s pictured on the packaging label. Just remember, with either option, to coat your pan with plenty of olive oil to keep the fish from becoming permanently affixed to it forever!
Finally, to give this dish the Love TKO, serve this up on a dinner plate over an arugula salad. While you’re at Trader Joe’s pick up a bag of baby arugula. In a mixing bowl – Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt –n- pepper, and the arugula. Mix together.
On a dinner plate, place a portion of the “arugula salad” down first. Then top it with the Tilapia Citronette. Pair it with an Argentinean Torrontes like the 2009 Alamos Torrontes and you’ve got a party! If you want a little something extra, you can also add your choice of steamed vegetables.