Matches for: “trader joe's” …

Trader Joe’s Panko-Breaded Tilapia

trader Joes, tilapia, panko breaded, frozen, bulldog sauceIt’s been awhile since I’ve talked about Trader Joe’s…

Last month, Naoto brought home a box of frozen fish. I’m not usually a fan of frozen fish, but I agreed to try this because it was Panko-breaded tilapia filets. Panko breadcrumbs are the best breadcrumbs. (Panko could have its own Japan Does It Better post!) And tilapia is my favorite fish because it’s not too fishy and it has a nice texture. I’ve eaten several meals of panko-breaded tilapia since then. I’m a fan.

trader joe's The box comes with four filets, each individually wrapped, making it perfect for work widows like me. I just take one out, pop it on a cookie sheet and bake it for twenty-five minutes, flipping once at twelve minutes. The panko breading is thick and crispy and the fish is moist. We love it topped with our favorite Japanese condiment, Bull-Dog sauce. Bull-Dog sauce is used most often for tonkatsu (panko breaded pork). It is kind of like America’s Heinz 57 sauce but fruitier and tangier…it’s hard to explain, but it’s delicious, especially on fried foods because the tanginess complements the heaviness of the breading. Trader Joe recommends topping the tilapia with their corn salsa, but trust me…nothing is going to beat Bull-Dog sauce! (You can find it in Asian markets.)

We had this for dinner on Sunday night along with couscous and a tasty salad (painstakingly chopped by Naoto-the-slicing & dicing-perfectionist.)

If you’d like to see more Trader Joe’s posts, go here.

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Coffee Talk | Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

IMG_3005Our local Trader Joe’s (the Oak Park location) put their new Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate on the shelves last week and sold out instantly. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising, since cold brew is the latest craze in coffee brewing right now. Nonetheless, I was mad at Naoto for not snagging some up sooner. When it arrived again in the store shipment a few days later, Naoto pulled a couple of bottles for me. (One of the many, many perks of being married to a TJs guy.)

Last week, I was hitting the afternoon slump–the time of the day when, if I look at the napping cat for too long, I tend to join her. Instead, I pulled the concentrate out of the fridge with high hopes.

It’s good. Very good.

The bottle recommends one part concentrate to two parts water or milk. I like my iced coffees with cream (hot coffee is to be drunk black, unless it’s Dunkin Donuts!), so this is what I mixed up:

2 oz Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

3.5 oz water

0.5 oz cream

splash of simple syrup

Serve over ice.

Lately I’ve been too lazy (seriously, so lazy) to make simple syrup, so I’ve been substituting with agave syrup. It’s surprisingly good!

I’ve been drinking iced coffees in the mornings and in the afternoons thanks to the conveniently chilled bottle in the fridge. And at $7.99, it’s done wonders for our coffee budget (which includes constant trips to Panera, Dunkin Donuts and Caribou throughout the week!) And it’s made us curious to try making cold brew of our own…one of these days!

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mail art with a trader joe’s bag

We have a LOT of Trader Joe’s bags around here. I know, I know…we SHOULD be taking our many reusable bags to the store, but somehow, we always forget. Or they are in the car and we are walking… We always reuse our bags. Some hold donations ready for Goodwill, some hold recycling, some go back to the store for another round. We still have a lot though. Then one day I was noticing the fun, foodie graphics on the bag and I thought hmmmm….mail art!

All I needed were my tiny scissors and a glue stick, but I added some gold stars, rubber stamping and washi tape (of course!)

Donovan’s letter is ready to go, because I had a fun stamp for it (silverware with silverware). I have a ton of the Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps, and I find that they work on almost any letter.

My mom is a tea drinker, so I thought she might enjoy the tea envelope. I wanted to use the 5 cent teapot stamp on it (you know, to beat the theme to death), so I just used a mishmash of stamps that added up to forty-five cents (although, I bet she enjoyed the Foxglove stamp!)

I haven’t decided who will be the recipient of the “man” envelope yet…but I do know he won’t be going in the mail until this stamp is in my hands. I’m loving that ship!

Not bad for a humble grocery bag.

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Snow Mail, No Mail

The weather has been insane in Chicago lately. After a very snowy weekend, we had sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday with wind chills of 45 below. It was colder here than it was in Alaska. It was so cold, the entire area was pretty much shut down. No school, no work for many people, no Metra trains, even no Trader Joe’s and no mail service since Tuesday! (Update: mail arrived Saturday night!) It was almost as cold on Thursday and it snowed some more Thursday night, but now this weekend it’s warm and rainy. Now every thing is a mess of slush and dirty snow. (Dirty snow is my least favorite part of winter.)

I took some inspiration from the weather and used some of my wintry Japanese stationery to kick off the Month of Letters. The snowflakes are an old Midori set I bought a few years ago and the polar bears are from Maruzen. And the washi tape is old mt and I was kicking myself because I have other snow washi, but I packed it away with the Christmas stuff…

I sat under a blanket right next to my space heater while I wrote the letters…a cup of hot tea and a warm kitty nearby. It was a cozy to kick off the month.

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Write On Party

Photo on 4-23-17 at 4.26 PM, Write On GuestsLast Sunday I had a few people over for a letter writing party. I ordered the Party Pack, which was kind of a party-in-a-box with pens, confetti, and Write On packs for everyone, along with other goodies like a printable invitation, a letter writing themed playlist, and a Write On calendar and tote. air mail envelope garland, Write On party set-up 4, National letter writing monthI hung some vintage air mail envelopes and a Japanese air mail kakejiku (hanging scroll) from the ceiling and I strung up a few more air mail envelopes to make a garland. Write On party set-up 1, National letter writing month Write On party set-up 1, National letter writing monthI covered the table in kraft paper and sprinkled the confetti along with some mail things from my collection. Each person got a Write On kit and a little brochure about letter writing. Write On party set-up 3, National letter writing monthOn the stereo, I had all of my mail themed rubber stamps and washi tapes along with some extra air mail envelopes, postcards, and my new Mr. Zip book. (He deserves his own blog post!) Write On Party, envelope pies, letter writing treatsFor snacks, I made a pot of tea and put out some Trader Joe’s truffles, some Japanese Happy Turn crackers, and I made these little envelope pies. I found the idea here–they were so easy and even though mine looked rather imperfect, they were a really fun addition to the simple menu. write On party guests, National letter writing month write On party guests, National letter writing monthIt was a relaxing afternoon of chatting and letter writing. We all really wrote letters! (I finished two!!) My only regret is that we didn’t have Naoto take a picture of us writing in action, but we got a fun group shot using Photo Booth (at the top.) I think I’ve said this before, but I love letter socials. Obviously letter writing is a good solitary activity, but sometimes it’s interesting to get together and share our hobby in person.

I’m a little sad Write On is over, but the letter writing shall continue! I managed (thanks to a solid push to the finish line last night) to finish 31 postcards and letters and I’ve replied to everyone from my pile of overdue mail…whew! I need to give myself a pep talk to keep that momentum going in May!

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Ringing in 2016 

Golden Steer, Forest Park, new years eve We spent yet another New Year’s Eve at the Golden Steer with our friends. It’s become a tradition that I start looking forward to as soon as I turn the calendar to December. Naoto and I talk about the French Onion soup and the steaks we will order all month. New year's Eve preparationsAfter dinner, everyone came back to our apartment for drinks, snacks, and dessert. It’s always nice to ring in the new year in the comforts of home and with the laughter of friends. I made a simple cover for our island with the leftover wrapping paper from Phantom Flight Night™. I taped on some glittery dots that I punched out of gold glitter paper from my stash. It was simple and sparkly. Trader Joe's float, Rose Bowl Parade 2016New Year’s Day was lazy! We watched part of the Rose Bowl Parade–I only watch for the Trader Joe’s float, pictured above. It’s always fantastic. toshikoshi soba, New Years 2016For supper we ate (our version of) toshikoshi soba. In Japan, toshikoshi soba is eaten as the last part of the meal on New Year’s Eve, but since we had dinner plans already*, we decided to eat it on New Year’s Day. We topped our noodles with roasted chicken, scallions, and cabbage, but this recipe has more traditional ideas. And I picked up some special New Year chopsticks last time we were in Japan so it was fun to actually find them in time to use them for New Year’s dinner!

How did you spend your New Year’s Eve?

 

*I think next year we should serve the noodles as a close-to midnight snack!

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Phantom Flight Night™

wine tasting guests, Phantom Flight Night Table, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, wine tasting table settingThis week Naoto and I hosted Phantom Flight Night™, a little wine tasting party featuring a Trader Joe’s fall-favorite wine, Bogle Phantom. We have been accidentally collecting (hoarding?) Phantom since 2012 and we had bottles from 2008, 2011, and 2012 (available this year at your friendly local Trader Joe’s) so we thought it would be fun to compare the different years. Because Phantom is a blend, each year the grapes vary, so they end up being slightly different wines*. I love an intimate party, so we invited a handful of fellow wine-drinkers to help us polish off three bottles of Phantom. Phantom Flight Night Table runner, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, Paper Source wrapping paperEven though it was a small gathering, I was determined to decorate a tiny bit. I love making paper table runners for parties. I usually use my kraft paper but I wanted something dark for PFN™ so I used black wrapping paper and wrote on it with a chalk marker. Someday, maybe I’ll learn calligraphy and I will be able to make the runner really fancy! Phantom Flight Night Table runner, Bogle Wine, Phatom WineI added a big candle nested in old wine corks at the end and labeled the wine bottles in the center. Then I went through all of our wine glasses and found a group of three alike for each person. (I didn’t realize how many wine glasses we have around here. I think we need to have more wine parties and use them more often!) Phantom Flight Night Table, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, wine tasting table settingI labeled each glass with a year marker made from black cardstock cut with a 2-inch circle punch and tied on with twine. (This may have been overkill since we stayed at the table for most of the party.)  Phantom Flight Night Table runner, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine About a half hour before our guests came, I poured three ounces of wine from each year into our glasses to give the wine a little bit of time to breathe. I figured three ounces was a decent pour for comparison, and then we could fill our glasses with more as needed, and open a new bottle of 2012 if we really wanted to get crazy. (It was a weeknight so no one got crazy, sadly.) Phantom Flight Night Table, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, wine tasting table settingWe tasted each wine in order of year and wrote little notes on the paper at our place setting. It was fun talking about the wines even though we were all far from wine experts! Next time, I’ll have copies of tasting notes for everyone–something like this one–to help us express ourselves more, but as it was, we had a fun time laughing about our comments while we tasted. We all loved 2011 the best and we decided that the 2008 was beginning to “turn”. (I guess I won’t be saving our last bottle of ’08 for Phantom Flight Night™ 2016.)simple wine tasting snacks, Phantom Flight Night, Bogle WineIn the kitchen, we served cheeses, dried figs, salami, grapes, fruit, nuts, chocolates, and a Trader Joe’s shrimp appetizer–simple bites to complement the wines. wine tasting toast, Phantom Flight Night, Bogle WinesI’m already dreaming of Phantom Flight Night™ 2016…in October, with a Poe reading by Naoto. Look for that blog post next year!

P.S. Unfortunately, this post was not sponsored by Bogle or Trader Joe’s, even though it kind of sounds that way. Extra special thanks to James for coining the name Phantom Flight Night™!

*Phantom 2008 is made from 51% Zinfandel, 47% Petite Sirah, and 2% Mourvedre and 2011 is made from 46% Petite Sirah, 40% Zinfandel, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Mourvedre. I couldn’t find the grapes used in 2012, but I’ll update the post if I find that information!

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Community Gardening at the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Forest Park St. Patrick's Day ParadeOn Saturday, Naoto and I walked in the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the Forest Park Community Garden float. We haven’t been to the parade in a couple of years and I have to say, it was loads more fun walking in the parade than it was watching. Our float, pictured above, was a garden plot in full bloom…isn’t it charming? Forest Park St. Patrick's Day ParadeSix of us walked alongside the float and passed out little packets of sugar snap pea seeds. At first I was a little nervous about handing out non-candy treats to a bunch of drunk people and sugar-hungry kids, but it turned out most people–especially kids–were excited when they heard we were handing out seeds. People briefly shared that they had gardens or were excited to try gardening…it was really heart-warming to see so many hopeful gardeners in our community! The time passed quickly…it felt like we were rushing around handing out seeds and all of a sudden I looked up and we were at the end.Forest Park St. Patrick's Day Parade Naoto was especially popular along the parade route because people always remember him from Trader Joe’s…he even got a kiss from a customer! He was such a great ambassador for the garden (and for Trader Joe’s!) Forest Park St. Patrick's Day ParadeBy the end of the parade, we all handed out a thousand packets of seeds with little information cards about the garden and our upcoming Seed Swap (March 22, 2-4PM!) It was a bright and beautiful day…perfect for a hometown parade!

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Homemade Granola

trader joes, homemade granola, blueberry almondI hosted book club on Saturday morning. I knew, since we were going to get home late from the Blackhawks game Friday night, that I wouldn’t feel like getting up to bake muffins or something in the morning. So, I tried to think of something tasty that I could make a day in advance, that would still taste fresh and “homey” the next morning. Then the idea of a yogurt bar popped in my head and I decided that would be easy enough, even if I made homemade granola instead of serving store-bought.

This Martha Stewart recipe for Blueberry Almond Granola looked like a winner and -best part ever- I could buy all of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s!! (That’s always a bonus for me…I like my tiny Trader Joe’s and hate having to go to a second grocery store for one ingredient.)

On Friday afternoon, I whipped up a batch of granola and even though I followed the directions to the letter, the granola was over-toasted. It wasn’t really burnt. (I still liked it, but I also like my toast one step below blackened.) But the coconut was really toasty and it kind of affected the taste of everything else. I didn’t feel like I could serve it to guests. So, I gave it another go and so I’m sharing the recipe and method that worked best for me in hopes that no one else will burn their coconuts.

Blueberry Almond Granola

2 cups rolled old fashioned oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1 cup dried blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Place the oats and the almonds in a large bowl. Mix oil and honey in a small bowl and drizzle over the oats and almonds. Stir to coat evenly. Spread the oats and almonds on a large baking sheet and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. (Mine was done at 15. Keep an eye on it.)

Place shredded coconut on baking sheet and put in oven to toast separately. I left my oven door open and stirred every minute or so for about 4 minutes. You can also toast the coconut on the stove using the method explained here.homemade granola, trader joes Once the coconut is toasted, add it to the oats and almonds and allow to cool. trader joes, homemade granolaStir in the dried blueberries and it’s ready to eat! I served mine with vanilla yogurt and fresh raspberries and blackberries. I think the book club enjoyed it, too…either that or they’re a bunch of good actors!

The granola is a lot less sticky sweet than store-bought granola but you don’t really miss the sugar because the toasty, oaty deliciousness is enough. And I have to say, even my coconut-hating husband liked it!

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Holiday Cards 2014

holiday cards with presley, christmas cards 2014Siiiiigh…our holiday cards are out…most made it by Christmas. Others didn’t. And that’s okay (she says, begrudgingly.) chirstmas cardsI worked on my cards over two days–one with my friend Jackie and her cats (Eskimo is shown above…she finally warmed up to me on this visit and now that she’s rested on my cards, I’m for sure we are best friends), and the other at home with Presley overseeing my progress (top picture). I took some people off of my list this year, and added some new friends, totaling forty-four cards for the season.Hasui Kawase christmas cards Hasui Kawase christmas cardsI found these Hasui Kawase cards at the Book Table in Oak Park. I love that they are peaceful and snowy. Some people may say they lack “Christmas” but with their “Season’s Greetings” message inside, they worked for a variety of people. 16 Sparrows Chicago winter card, letterpressI also had a few 16 Sparrows Chicago Snowflake cards that I sent to a few former and current Chicagoans on my list. (It’s their interpretation of the Chicago flag.) And since twenty-eight cards were not enough, I mixed in some of last year’s leftover cards and some from a Cavallini kit that I’ve had for a few years. Trader Joe's stickersNot a single piece of washi tape was used for this year’s cards, but I did put a Trader Joe’s sticker on each one. (I often ask for a few stickers when I’m checking out at the store. I like to use them on my mail and my calendar. On a recent visit, the manager gave me the whole roll. Trader Joe stickers forever!!)

So, they weren’t perfect, but I wrote a personal message in each one, so hopefully that part was appreciated, even though the envelopes were a little plain. And now…onto New Year’s cards…I only have a few but the clock -again- ticks…

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