Posts tagged ‘garlic’

April 26, 2011

macarons a la trader joe’s

Ever since a Fresh & Easy market opened up right next to my house, I haven’t gone back to Trader Joe’s – not once! I felt bad, but I guess I was just in the Honeymoon stage with Fresh & Easy.

Today, I finally took a trip to Trader Joe’s, and I think I’m “back.” I compared some more prices between Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy, and it seems in GENERAL, Trader Joe’s is usually cheaper than Fresh & Easy. I’ll keep going to Fresh & Easy for items such as Key Limes and cilantro, but will probably be sticking with Trader Joe’s for my regular grocery shopping.

To celebrate my “come back” (yeah, nice excuse!) I purchased a couple goodies on top of my regular old purchases.

Strawberry Ice Cream made with coconut milk and French Macarons!

I REALLY hemmed and hawed over whether I should buy these French Macarons. I never really was a fan of French Macarons, but I think that was because I never had a REALLY GOOD French Macaron. They were usually stale and generally not very well made. I didn’t KNOW that it wasn’t well made though, because I had never had a WELL MADE Macaron.

That all changed on Sunday. My friend bought a box of French Macarons from Miette Bakery and let me have a couple, and my goodness, I was converted. THIS was a well made Macaron, and it just tasted so fresh and perfect.

Macarons have been on my mind since then. So when I saw these Macarons in the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s, I was extremely tempted. In the end, I decided to give them a try.

2 Vanilla Macarons for me, and 1 Chocolate and 1 Vanilla Macaron for Jeff. I didn’t care to try the Chocolate Macaron.

I was really, really impressed with these Macarons. Sure, they’re not exactly Miette or Laduree and I am not a French Macaron connoisseur by any means, but as a product of Trader Joe’s and from the FROZEN aisle, I enjoyed these. A LOT. All the vanilla ones are gone. I guess I’ll have to try a chocolate one tomorrow.

They say to defrost from the freezer for about 30 minutes or so, but I find they’re perfectly good straight out of the freezer. Unless you have a super buff freezer, then you may want to defrost. Defrosted or undefrosted, I loved these and will definitely be getting them again!



Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the other “goodie” – the Strawberry Ice Cream made with Coconut milk. I didn’t taste any coconut very much at all and just wasn’t a fan of the flavor very much. Jeff liked it though, so he can have the rest. =)

(By the way, I bought this OXO ice cream scooper from TJ Maxx (along with Kitchen Aid tongs, which I am now weirdly obsessed with). I think TJ Maxx is my new favorite place to buy Kitchen tools! I do try to look up the reviews of the tools on my Amazon app before buying them though because sometimes the tools sold there have less than stellar reviews (which may be why they’re at TJ Maxx now), but so far I’ve had a really good experience with these products sold for less from TJ Maxx!)

The Macaron helped the ice cream a little though!



In other news, I made my VERY FIRST batch of hummus today! Jeff has found recently that he really likes hummus so I decided to try my hand at making it. I didn’t want to buy tahini though because it tends to be a bit pricey so I decided to try to make it without the tahini.

Simple ingredients, simple recipe!



In place of the tahini, I decided to use sesame oil. If I’m not mistaken, I think tahini is sesame paste, so I thought it wouldn’t be missed too much if I used sesame oil.

And I ALWAYS have sesame oil in my house. Always, always, always. It is hands down my favorite oil.

I have a huge container of sesame oil and just refill this bottle. One day I plan to get a oil dispenser just for sesame oil because I use it so often! And because it does tend to get oily and messy.



Anyway, back to the hummus! Just blend those 5 ingredients (I used a single-serve blender because I don’t have a blender or food processer and it worked great!).

You can add some of the juice from the canned chickpeas if you want it to be a thinner consistency.

And serve with pita chips or your favorite veggie!

Yum. Sesame-y and garlicky – 2 of my favorite flavors! (Those are Garlic Gold Nuggets sprinkled on top.)

I’ll definitely be making my own hummus again and experimenting with different flavors!



Hummus made without Tahini

Makes: 1 medium bowl of hummus



Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup sesame oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1-4 cloves garlic, peeled (depending on how garlicky you want it)



Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processer. If you want a thinner consistency, add in a little juice from the canned chickpeas. Serve with pita chips or veggies.

Nutritional Information for 2 T hummus: 52 calories, 4g fat, 0g saturated fat, 110mg sodium, 3g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 0g sugar, 1g protein

April 19, 2011

new-to-me ingredients

Today, I made the trek to Whole Foods to get some ingredients for a couple recipes. It’s been a while since I’d been there! Actually, that’s a lie. I was just there on Sunday, but it was somewhat of a failure of a trip because I didn’t find what I was looking for at that particular Whole Foods. So of course, I went again today to a different Whole Foods. And I made sure to go Jeff-less – so I could take allll the time I wanted.

These are some of the things I came home with.

There is a common theme with all these ingredients (except for the whole wheat pastry flour in the back) – this was the first time I ever bought any of these products!



Ginger Chews: Deliciously chewy!


Garlic Gold nuggets: I’ve been wanting to try these but only saw them online, so I was ecstatic to see them on SALE at Whole Foods! They are crunchy and perfectly garlicky. I could finish this container in one sitting – so good!


Garbanzo Beans: I was surprised to find how hard chickpeas are!


Curry Powder: There were quite a few curry powders to choose from, but this one had the deepest color and just looked so delicious! It also helped that it was on sale (thought it still wasn’t cheaper than the cheapest one).


Nutritional Yeast: I’ve heard people describe this looking like fish food. And, it REALLY does.


The last three products, Garbanzo beans/chickpeas, curry powder, and nutritional yeast, I bought specifically for this recipe – Mama Pea’s MMMM sauce!

It’s strange, I’ve never heard of Yummm sauce, and never tasted yet alone seen/smelled/heard/touched nutritional yeast before, but I had a very strong urge to make this sauce. I guess Mama Pea just puts something into her writing that lures whoever reads it into making whatever she’s writing about.

And the magic worked!

This sauce is MMMMMMMM.



And this is what it’s made of:

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except made a few changes out of convenience and what I had on hand. Here are a few changes that I made from the original recipe:



-I used nut butter (Nuttzo specifically) in place of almonds because I didn’t have any. I could’ve easily bought almonds but I was making this sauce in a single-serve blender and thought that the nut butter would blend in better than the almonds.

-I used lime juice in place of lemon juice because I have a lot of limes.

-I used extra virgin olive oil in place of canola oil (Mama Pea says any oil is fine)

-I used fresh cilantro in place of dried cilantro because I had fresh and I am OBSESSED with cilantro. I put about 1/4 a cup.

-I didn’t use dried oregano because I didn’t have any.

-I used about 3 times as much garlic because I’m obsessed with garlic too.



And now, I need to find more recipes including nutritional yeast.

Because it sure made a beautiful sauce…



I drizzled the sauce on veggies…and said MMMMMM….



And drizzled it on my dinner…and continued to say MMMMM….



Which reminds me, I tried Wild Alaskan salmon for the first time tonight! (boy, there really were lots of new ingredients for me today!)

The verdict? I was pleasantly surprised! It wasn’t toooo different from farm-raised salmon, and it was still delicious. The texture was a little different though – not sure how to describe it – not as flaky and more meaty? It definitely had less fat than the farm-raised salmon because when I went to sautee the spinach, which I usually sautee in the leftover salmon fat, I had to add in more oil because there was hardly any in there from the Wild Alaskan salmon!




That’s a clean plate. But it’s not cleaned with a sponge – it was cleaned with my tongue. Yum. I mean, oops!

Head to Mama Pea’s blog for the original recipe!

April 18, 2011

the steak method

A few weeks ago on Amazon, I bought these two items:

An instant-read digital thermometer and a 10-inch cast iron pan.

Of course, there are a multitude of uses for these 2 tools, but the main reason we bought them was for these:

Jeff and I love a good steak, and we really love the idea of making it at home to save some money. We’ve wanted to try the method of searing it in a pan and then finishing it off in the oven, which is hard to do without a cast iron. Friday night’s dinner became the day we made it happen!

So after my Fresh & Easy market trip the other day, we took a bottle of this,

and used it to marinate the steaks.

Some sources say to marinate it for about 6 hours, but we ended up just marinating it for 24 hours.



This is what we did with the steaks (which we got off of a Good Eats episode):

-Preheat the oven to 500F and stick the cast iron pan into the oven for about 5 minutes.

-Season the steak with kosher salt & pepper, then rub a little oil with a high smokepoint (we used Grapeseed oil) onto the steaks.

-Take the cast iron pan out of the oven and place the steaks onto the pan.

-Sear one side of the steak for 30 seconds, flip and sear the other side for 30 seconds.

-Flip the steaks over again before sticking the cast iron pan with the steaks into the oven for 2 minutes.

-Flip the steaks over for the last time and leave in the oven for 2 more minutes. (We took the temperature of the steaks at this time and it was around 130F, which is about medium-rare, which is what we wanted.)

-Take out of the oven and let the steaks rest.



Yum. It was a littttttle more medium than we would’ve liked but that might’ve been because we let it rest for quite a while. Next time, we might leave the steaks in the oven for 1 1/2 minutes on each side instead of 2 minutes. Of course, it also depends on the thickness of the steaks.

But I will say that these were the best steaks we have made at home yet!

We had the steaks with brown rice, roasted carrots, roasted garlic, and sauteed spinach.

Jeff’s favorite vegetable is carrots. And he told me about 5 minutes before we were going to cook the steaks that he wanted carrots with dinner. I was slightly annoyed because carrots take a little longer to roast in the oven and wished he had told me earlier. But I found out from Friday night’s dinner that carrots will cook in almost no time when an oven is set to 500F and the carrots are cut into tiny, tiny pieces. The carrots were perfect, drizzled in a little grapeseed oil with salt & pepper.

I also halved a bunch of garlic cloves and stuck them into the oven with the carrots. I find that I like “roasted” garlic this way better than this way:

Of course this way is absolutely delicious, but all the garlic cloves turn out soft and mushy. Whereas we find that the garlic gets crispy on the outside and soft on the inside when we just halve a whole clove and stick it in the oven (with a little oil, salt & pepper). Plus, it is 100% easier and 100% cleaner, especially if you have those huge bags of already-peeled garlic from Costco.



Dessert was just as amazing and it included this:

Shouldn’t be toooo hard to figure out. ;D

Did you have any good eats this weekend?

April 14, 2011

you say salmon, i say salmon

I’ll be honest, I say salmon incorrectly. I pronounce the “l” and for that, Jeff is ashamed of me. Ah well, now I say it just to annoy him!

Yesterday, I went to Trader Joe’s.

-organic baby spinach

-organic baby carrots

-frozen brown rice (ugh why does this have to be so convenient?!)

-chicken sausage

-2 buck chuck

-and salmon, the reason for the Trader Joe’s trip!



Everything for $22.67 –



This particular grocery trip happened after I asked Jeff if he felt like having salmon for dinner. And after he said oh yes please!

We LOVE fresh salmon. I like to prepare fresh salmon in the simplest way possible – just seared for a few minutes on each side on a fry pan. The absolute worst thing to me is 100% fully cooked salmon – it just tastes so dry and blah. I like it to be slightly undercooked in the middle. And no salt or pepper is needed because the salmon is just so delicious on it’s own!

I have a question though. Is farm-raised salmon really not good for you? I think I’ve heard from places here and there that Wild Alaskan salmon is a much healthier choice. I’ve never tried Wild Alaskan salmon, but I kind of sort of have a huge feeling that it is not as delicious as farm-raised salmon. I’d love your input if you have any idea!

Anyway, our dinner last night (and tonight!) was 1/2 of one salmon fillet each, brown rice, and sauteed spinach with garlic.

That pile of spinach is 1/2 the bag of the spinach. It’s my most favorite way to eat spinach! After the salmon is seared in the pan, there is the perfect amount of the fish’s oil left in the pan. Then to the pan, I add a bunch (6 cloves, but that might be a little excessive) of minced garlic, and then the whole bag of spinach. then I season with a little salt and pepper. So simple and so good!

For a while, I really wanted to love having spinach in my smoothies so that I could get more spinach in my diet. And to be honest, it’s not that bad, BUT I really prefer my smoothies to be purely fruit based, like this. And THEN when I made this sauteed spinach, any desire to have spinach smoothies flew out the window. It’s so easy and delicious to get spinach into my diet this way and I don’t have to sacrifice my smoothies for it! In fact, I need to save my spinach so I could eat it like this more often!

Plus, supposedly you get more of spinach’s nutrients when the spinach is cooked!

This is one of Jeff and my favorite meals. Usually, we douse all our meals with crazy loads of spicy sriracha sauce, but this is one meal we don’t put on any. The flavors are so simple and delicious, we just want to taste that!



For dessert, we had this:

An equally perfect ending.