May 28, 2013

Trader Joe's Product Review No. 4-Sweet Treats

This is what happens when you go to Trader Joe's with my mom. You get a lot of treats. Boy was this a good trip! One of our best yet!

1. Pita Chips with Sea Salt: ***** 
I've become a pita chips addict and loved these. I'm used to Stacy's Pita Chips, but I liked how these were much thinner than Stacy's.

2. Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies: *****
These were so good! Completely different than I expected, but perfectly sweet and crunchy!

3. White Cheddar Popcorn: ***
Of course my mom couldn't go without buying some white cheddar popcorn (her personal favorite) and it was really good. I'm not as big of a lover so I probably won't buy it again, but I know she would.

4. Pita Bite Crackers: *****
Holy moly these were so yummy! I've heard they are some of the best crackers and they really are! So good with hummus!

5. Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels: ***********
These deserve way more than 5 stars because they are so dang good! I seriously could not stop eating them! You must buy them.

6. Roasted Red Peppers: *****
I mostly love these because of the price. They worked so perfectly in my roasted red pepper alfredo, too.

7. Coconut Strips: ***
I've recently been really drawn to coconut, which is weird, so I really liked these. I never finished the bag so I don't know if I'd buy them again, but they were good while they lasted.

8. Tuscan White Bean Hummus: *****
This is THEE hummus of all hummus! I don't like every flavor of hummus, but I could eat this by the spoonful! It's blended with sun-dried tomatoes and basil and it just got better with every bite. I just couldn't get enough. This is a definite must buy EVERY time I make a trip.

May 22, 2013

Cinnamon Banana Pancakes

It seriously amuses me how many pancake recipes I've posted on this blog due to the fact that I used to hate pancakes. However when you actually make pancakes from scratch and add fun things like cinnamon and bananas, pancakes can be absolutely delicious.

Such as these pancakes that are extremely fluffy, moist and tasty. I could have had 10 or more of these in one sitting, but decided to control myself.
Add some strawberries or extra bananas on top for good measure and you've got yourself a tasty meal.

Cinnamon Banana Pancakes
Slightly Adapted from The Novice Chef Blog
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 over ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tsp. cinnamon
maple syrup & butter for serving

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whip mashed bananas, sugar, egg, vegetable oil and cinnamon together until smooth. Add flour mixture, alternating with milk and stir until combined.
3. Pour 1/4 cup of the regular batter onto a heated griddle. Once little bubbles have started popping up, flip pancake and cook through. Continue process with all pancake batter. Serve warm with maple syrup and butter.

May 13, 2013

Tortilla Pizza Cups and Easy Garlic Green Beans

As you could probably guess by now, I am a certified pizza lover and love anything "pizza."

While I recently made these mini bread pizza bites, which were a hit on Pinterest, I decided to make another version after having some inspiration from fellow bloggers.

Man I could go on and on about how versatile tortillas are in a muffin tin. I've made about 5 different recipes now and I can't wait to share them with you!
I also wanted to share an easy green bean side that I make almost every week. It sure is tasty and so simple to make for any meal.
Tortilla Pizza Cups
Adapted from Dashing Dish
3 flour tortillas (or whole wheat), cut into fourths
3/4 cup pizza sauce
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 slices of pepperoni, cut into fourths

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12-count muffin tin with non-stick spray.
2. Using the cut tortilla pieces, press one into each tin. (These will not fit perfectly and the corners will stick up as pictured above)
3. Drop 1 Tbsp. pizza sauce onto each tortilla piece followed by 1 Tbsp. of mozzarella cheese and 4 pieces of pepperoni.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted. (I would start watching at 8 minutes to make sure the tortilla does not burn.)

Easy Garlic Green Beans
1 can french sliced green beans, drained
1 Tbsp. butter
garlic powder
1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in green beans until heated through. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder according to taste (About one or two shakes of each will do.) Stir in 1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese until melted and serve hot.

May 8, 2013

Copycat IKEA Swedish Meatballs and Roasted Asparagus

So I have to admit, I've never actually had IKEA's meatballs. My husband has and he wasn't a fan so I decided to make this copycat recipe. According to him, these were much better and I enjoyed them as well.
The best part though was the asparagus. Goodness gracious the asparagus was to die for. I absolutely love roasted vegetables and have tried roasting asparagus before, but this was the best recipe I've ever tried. Delicious!
Copycat IKEA Swedish Meatballs
Adapted from Food Network
For the meatballs:
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup minced white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 pound lean ground beef
1 large egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
Vegetable oil, for brushing

For the gravy:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lingonberry jam, for serving (optional)

Make the meatballs: Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, 2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Pour the milk mixture over the breadcrumbs and stir to make a thick paste; let cool. Add the beef, egg and egg white to the bowl and mix until combined.

Brush a baking sheet with vegetable oil. Roll the meat into 1-inch balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the meatballs until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Make the gravy: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth. Whisk in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the cream and meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the gravy thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving dish; serve with lingonberry jam, if desired.

Roasted Asparagus
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten
1 bunch fresh asparagus
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.
3. Sprinkle grated parmesan over top of asparagus and serve warm.

May 6, 2013

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

I don't even know where to start with these. You already know how I feel about homemade pretzels, but these take it to a whole new level. 

These are easily lunch worthy. Possibly dinner and even breakfast...maybe, maybe not. Why not stuff yourself with tons of crispy, salty, buttery bread, ham and cheese all day long? 

These would at least make a perfect appetizer and you'd be the hit of the party.

If you're in love with homemade pretzels as much as I am, you must try these.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
Adapted from Pip and Ebby
4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/2 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
kosher or sea salt, for topping

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. (If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. If it’s too sticky, add some flour.)
3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each piece of dough into roughly a 12x4-inch rectangle.
6. With the long sides facing you, place the following ingredients onto the bottom third of each piece of dough: a quarter of 1/2 cup finely chopped ham, quarter of 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
7. Roll the dough as tightly as you, starting with the long edge holding the ham and cheese. 
8. Cut each roll into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the pieces to a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
9. Dissolve baking soda into hot water and brush onto each piece.
10. Bake in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
11. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. 

May 3, 2013

Trader Joe's Product Review No. 3 - Going Green

As you can see, we were attracted to almost everything green in Trader Joe's this trip. We got a pretty good loot and I'm excited to share some of my favorites with you.

1. Popcorn with Herbs and Spices: **** 
I really liked the lightness of this popcorn and it had a really good flavor. It reminded me of a white cheddar popcorn my mom always used to buy. The reason it only got 4 out of 5 stars is because I don't know if I'd buy it every time.

2. Green Plant Juice: **
So I know this juice looks absolutely disgusting, but it wasn't completely horrible. For some reason, my husband really wanted it, but he only drank a couple glasses worth. It's a mixture of fruit juice and spinach I believe, but it was a little too "green" for us.

3. Dark Chocolate Honey Mints: ****
I really liked these although my husband thought they were too sweet. The honey added a nice flavor to the mint and they were nice to snack on every once in a while.

4. Thai Green Curry Sauce: ****
This sauce was really good simmered with shredded chicken over rice, but was a little too spicy for me. I liked the other curry sauce we tried better. My husband loved it though and would definitely buy it again.

5. Salsa Verde: ****
This was a really good salsa verde and I recently used it in a avocado salsa verde sauce that tasted great. It's a definite buy if you love salsa verde.

6. Frozen Brussel Sprouts: ***
I love the idea of having frozen brussel sprouts that makes it easy to have them all year round. They were a decent price and came with a good amount. I do have to say, fresh is always better, but these worked just fine.

7. Coconut Body Butter: *****
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this stuff! I've seen several good reviews on it so I had to try some out. It's the only non-food item I've tried at Trader Joe's so far and I was very impressed. It's perfectly creamy and the smell is to die for. And it's only 5 bucks!

8. Dorot Frozen Chopped Basil
I've yet to try these, but I love how they come in perfectly portioned sections that would be great for dropping into a homemade sauce.

9. PB&J Milk Chocolate Bar: *****
This was one of the most random things I've ever seen, but I was obsessed with it! It was gone in about two bites and I will definitely be buying more. Who knew the combination of peanut butter, jelly and chocolate would be so dang good?

10. Trader Joe's Fruit Strips: *****
I really loved these fruit strips. The flavor was great, didn't taste too earthy if you know what I mean, and they were really soft, too. Definitely a great snack.