Baby Goat

As you might have read several times in my blog(s), Trader Joe’s is one of my two favorite grocery stores (Wegmans being the other). The other thing you might have read is that I am a lactard (thanks Caroline for giving me that term, as you are also one), but can eat goat or sheep’s milk (cheese).

While strolling through TJ’s recently I was just really wanting some cheese. Stood there staring at the cheese section for several minutes then my eyes fell upon these ‘baby goat’ (as I like to call them) cheese discs. They are just the goat cheese logs divided into smaller pieces, or as they more appropriately term them Medallions. Each package is 1oz., very nicely sealed and there are about 5-6 per container. Of course I can’t remember the price, but I’m fairly certain it was less than $5.

Handy to have around and they will definitely be making it to my kitchen more frequently.

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Smokin’ It

I love seafood, I love smoked seafood. So on my weekly or bi-weekly trip to Trader Joe’s I of course swung by the demo station. Had a bite of what they were serving (I think it was a egg salad). And at the station, they had a stack of Smoked Trout. While I have had their (and others’) vacuum packed/sealed stuff, this one was canned. Think of a sardine can, with a pull-top lid. It’s farm raised (not my favorite), skinless and in canola oil.

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So I grabbed some and used it on a salad.  Simple arugula, tomatoes, kalamatas, hearts of palm and baby Brussels sprouts. Just delicious blend of flavors. So as long as you’re not totally against the farm-raised, this is great stuff to have on hand. Stack it in the cupboard with the tuna and the other stuff and you’re good to go.

Getting Nuttier

Pretty much my favorite place to do grocery shopping is Trader Joe’s. Well, that is because there isn’t a Wegmans close by (DC residents, have you heard the latest rumor about the Fannie Mae building on Wisconsin Ave and them looking at the space??).

Anyway, there is of course point-of-purchase stuff at TJ’s and one I opted to grab recently was their Mixed Nut Butter. It’s a blend of Dry Roasted & Salted Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts & Pecans. Sounds great. I’m just not a huge fan of the Brazil nuts, but I’ll eat them. It doesn’t say smooth anywhere, which is cool, too.

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The flavor was ok, but it was almost too many flavors fighting with each other. When you buy mixed nuts you can taste each one on its own. I also love chunky nut butter and it was a bit too smooth, for me. Not much salt in it, though salt was an ingredient. Not something I’ll buy again, but glad I tried it. Price was $5.99, I think. Not cheap, especially for the size. Totally worth the test.

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Oh Ewe Cheese

Was on just a normal shopping trip the other day so had to stop at Trader Joe’s. That also meant I was required to stop by the sample and coffee counter.  They had a cheese sample out, so at first I didn’t think I could have some as the lactard.  Then I saw that it was goat cheese, cool. It was a new one — Chevre with Honey.   Just a little bit of sweet taste. I used to not like goat cheese but it has gotten so much better.  Ok, bad idea to try it… Effective work TJ’s… I left with one of the 8 oz. packages. We’ll see how long it takes me to get more.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Over a month ago I was strolling through Trader Joe’s and saw this frozen riced cauliflower and just had to grab it, why not?  Then last week I was going to a friend’s place for a potluck dinner and (1) wanted to try something new and (2) she is gluten intolerant. I remembered I had the riced cauliflower so had to see what I could use it for. Started looking stuff up and came across some recipes for Cauliflower Crust Pizza. That sounded great! Especially since my cauliflower was already riced.  The recipe I ended up using was from the Lucky Penny Blog.  It’s both gluten and dairy free.

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Ingredients

1 medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield close to 3 cups once processed (this is where I used the riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons almond meal (my friend has a Vitamix — this took 2 seconds to make)
1 tablespoon (or more if desired) nutritional yeast (you could also omit this entirely if you like) — didn’t use it
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

Directions

-Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil or brush the parchment with olive oil.

*I skipped these next 2 steps with the riced cauliflower.

[Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with about 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the water out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.]

-Dump cauliflower into a bowl. Now add all your spices, your almond meal, your nutritional yeast (if using), and your olive oil. Mix the mixture to incorporate all the ingredients. Now add your egg and mix away again. Hands tend to work best.

-Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.

-Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden brown and the edges crisp up. Remove from oven.  *It took a bit more time to cook that it called for.  This is likely because I forgot to heat the baking sheet before I put the pizza in the oven.  So I cooked it a bit longer, probably about 10 more minutes.

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-Add your toppings and slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 minutes until the toppings are warm. If using cheese for a topping, you can pop the pizza under the broiler to get the cheese melted fast without burning the crust.

I put manchego, olives and tomatoes on the pizza, then topped it with arugula when it came out of the oven.  It was a bit moist, but nice and crisp on the edges.  Very tasty and I’ll have to try it again.

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New find

Was at Trader Joe’s the other day (not like that was something new) and they have done their typical thing of moving products around.  So now the hummus is pretty much right in front of you as you walk in the door at one of the locations I go to.  Had to check it out just in case I needed to pick some up.

I saw a new one…it’s not actually hummus but Green Tahini Dip and Sauce.  The ingredients: Tahini (Ground Sesame Seed), Water, Lemon Juice, Parsley, Green Onion, Dill, Mint, Dehydrated Garlic, Cilantro, Sea Salt, Cumin, Citric Acid.

It has some nice tang to it, great with veggies and the normal pita chips, etc.  Totally worth testing.  And, it’s lactose free and gluten free!

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Hummus, oh my hummus

There are so many varieties of hummus out there!  They can cause problems…aka addiction.

I didn’t know until a couple weeks ago that Boar’s Head (like the meat people make it).  Picked some up…new addiction.

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There is also the Humm! by Fountain of Health.  They aren’t my favorite but twist my arm if needed.

Sabra of course is way up there. Sooo smooth! And so many flavors!  They and Boar’s Head are tied now for the leaders.

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Cava is darn good.

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Trader Joe’s ranks up there pretty high and they have both ‘normal’ and smooth.  The price is good.

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Then you get Tribe, Whole Foods, Wegmans and so many more.

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I also love making the stuff at home.  Do you have a favorite hummus — by brand and/or flavor?  Or, is it the homemade stuff?

Then the next most important question — what’s your favorite pita chip?

Oh My Cod

Another new recipe, of course.  What would I do if cooking magazines went out of publication?  I love posole and normally it’s made with chicken.  But in a recent edition of Bon Appetit (can you see what I get often?) there was a recipe for Green Posole with Cod and Cilantro (Duh on the last ingredient!!! How can you live without that stuff?).

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided (skipped these, see below)
8 medium tomatillos (about 1¼ pounds), husks removed, rinsed (Lazy on these because I use green salsa.  I usually just get the ‘normal’ stuff from Trader Joe’s.  Well they just came out with some super spicy green stuff — Hatch Valley.  So I used one jar of the normal and one jar of the spicy, which replaced the chiles, and oh I am glad I only used one jar!)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
1 pound cod fillet (frozen chunked from Trader Joe’s)
1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed (used a bigger can, because that’s what I had — 25 oz)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
3 small radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (skipped them because it was garnish)
Lime wedges (for serving) (ditto as above)

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Preparation:

-Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Cook shallots, garlic, and half of chiles (this is the part I skipped, chile-wise because of the salsa), stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 6–8 minutes.
-Meanwhile, purée tomatillos in a blender until smooth. 
(didn’t have to do this because of the ease of green salsa)

-Add half of tomatillo purée to pot and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside. 
(I just chopped the cilantro very well and added it a step down).

-Add cod, hominy, clam juice, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into large chunks; season with salt and pepper. 
 (If you used the cubed stuff from Trader Joe’s or elsewhere, you don’t have the break down the cod, already done — simplicity in the kitchen!).

-Divide stew among bowls and top with radishes, cilantro, and remaining chile. Serve with lime wedges.

IMG_4232[1]This stuff was good!  Pretty thick/heavy, too.  A bit spicy for me, but my friends inhaled it and loved the spice.  Love getting variations on posole.  Definitely recommend giving this a try.

Rice Salad with Pecans, Fennel, and Herbs

Was flipping through a (sort of) recent Bon Appetit issue the other day (January 2015) and came across a recipe that looked tempting.  With the ‘warm’ weather — I’m talking upper 50s and sunny after 8″ of snow last week — it was just far too appealing.  It’s essentially a no-cook recipe, which was a bit off for a January recipe.

Red Rice Salad with Pecans, Fennel, and Herbs

1 cup red rice (I used the priceless Trader Joe’s microwave rice)
1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2/3 cup pecans, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and finely chopped tender stems
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Toasted pistachio oil or almond oil (for serving; optional)

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Directions

Cook rice according to package directions. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool.

Meanwhile, toss fennel and onion with 2 tablespoons lime juice in a large bowl and let sit, tossing occasionally, until lime juice is almost entirely absorbed, 10-15 minutes.
So at this point, since it had to be thinly sliced, it was time to pull out the V-slicer/mandolin.  Had such a great time!

IMG_2511[1]IMG_2512[1]Coarsely chop 1/3 cup pecans; finely chop remaining nuts. Laziness here, bought them that way — and, a heck of a lot cheaper for some reason.  Cook in olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low until golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Let cool.

Add rice and pecans to fennel mixture along with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and toss to combine. Gently fold in cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with pistachio oil, if desired.

*Do ahead: Rice salad (without cilantro) can be chilled up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

This salad was mouthwatering.  I did not expect it to be this good.  Wow.  It could also easily be made with quinoa and/or another nuts.  Will be a perfect summer recipe.  Wow, delicious.

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Say Cheese!

I’m always on the lookout for cheese I can enjoy.  Saw the mention of a new goat cheese at Trader Joe’s in their Fearless Flyer the other day.  A goat cheddar (though I realized later it might not have actually been the one advertised — oh well).  So, had to check it out.  It’s a white cheddar, a bit soft, and lots of flavor.  It had a bit of the goat-cheese ‘flavor,’ but definitely a great option for those who are lactose intolerant can’t take cow’s milk cheese.  It paired very nicely with red wine, crackers and veggies.

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