Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Thanksgiving 2012

It was good to have the family together after too many years and to celebrate with some flexibility in my eating habits.  😉

For breakfast I made pumpkin-cranberry scones from a mix from Trader Joe’s (had to get some pumpkin in somewhere)

My Dad made a ham, so I tried to think of hearty vegetarian entrees that would complement that.  I decided that pineapple would go well with sweet potatoes (much better than the classic/gross marshmallow topping) and then found this lovely recipe for pineapple upside down sweet potatoes.  It was wonderful!


I also made my Nine a Day Salad, which is always a hit. 

and some collard greens with pecans



some simple garlic mashed potatoes (made with soy milk)

cornbread stuffing mix from Trader Joe’s to which I added sauteed onions and celery + corn kernels

My sister made the classic/delicious green bean casserole: a huge crowd pleaser.  My Mom made Pilsbury crescent rolls and 2 pies: apple and pecan.

Everything was absolutely delicious!  I was thankful for an abundance of good food and family.


Breakfast-for-Dinner Potluck

Our latest potluck theme was Breakfast for Dinner.  Yum!  Sara graciously hosted and made mimosas!  Thank you, Sara!

I made Herbed Whole-Wheat Drop Biscuits with Smoked Almond Gravy from a cookbook called Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskovitz.

Jenny brought amazing vegan cinnamon rolls from the health-food store.  A new friend brought spinach-artichoke quiche (not vegan but I don’t care)!

Another friend brought French toast (also not vegan), and somebody else brought chocolate-pumpkin muffins that just happened to be vegan!  They were made using a low-fat recipe that calls for mixing a box of cake mix with a can of pumpkin.  The result is moist and delicious.  Kate brought one of her famous pies, which also happen to be vegan.   Her crust is always light and flaky, just about the best I’ve ever had!  The strawberry filling was perfect too.  She also provided some super flavorful home-grown strawberries from her garden.

Breakfast for Dinner was a delicious carb-fest success!  We definitely need to fit in at least one more potluck before I leave.  We’re thinking maybe Italian food or maybe a nachos bar.  The food is always great, but it’s really the company that makes these lovely affairs.

Herbed whole-wheat drop biscuits

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet.  Mix:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I used fresh and added it with the wet ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cut in:

  • 3 tablespoons cold non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons cold non-hydrogenated margarine (I didn’t have any shortening, so I just used 5 tablespoons of margarine)

Stir in:

  • I cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk.  I used soy)

Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough on baking sheet in mounds (about 1/4 cup each.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until firm.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

Smoked almond gravy

In your food processor or blender chop:

  • 2 cloves garlic

Then add:

  • 1 cup smoked almonds (I was disappointed to find that Trader Joe’s didn’t have smoked almonds.  No problem.  Instead I used regular almonds and added several grinds of TJ’s South African SMOKE Seasoning Blend.  This was probably even better because I was able to control the amount of smoky flavor, and this stuff is gonna be great on lots of vegan foods)

Then process the almonds into fine crumbs.  Add:

  • 1 1/4 cups water (I used unsweetened soy milk instead)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Process until smooth.  Don’t worry if it seems thin right now.  Pour it into a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened.  That’s it!

Girls’ Night: Korean Potluck

Our Korean potluck was a smashing success!  There was a LOT of amazing food (and we ate ALMOST all of it!)

I made Korean Fried Tofu, using this recipe I found on the Web.  It didn’t exactly say how much tofu to use.  I went with 1 pound and doubled the sauce for extra deliciousness.  I “dry-fried” the tofu, using this method.  I love to cook tofu that way, because after you’ve cooked out most of the water, it is ready to really soak up your sauce or marinade.  Kate said that this sauce would also be good on salads, and she’s right.

I was disappointed to find that the Trader Joe’s kimchi was temporarily out of stock, but they did have the frozen Kimchi Fried Rice.  That stuff is delicious!  And easy!

Jenny made a fresh Asian salad, and Kate added homegrown greens from her garden!  Kate also brought homegrown catnip for my kitties and Jenny’s kitty, so they weren’t left out of the festivities.

Jenny also made a FANTASTIC “beef”-and-broccoli dish with seitan and white rice.

Our friend Sara brought steamed shumai.  Kate had been craving these for weeks!  Elena brought Kung Fu Girl wine.  What a feast!

For dessert I made Green Tea Soy Ice Cream.  It was loosely based on this recipe.  What I did was mixed in the blender:

  • 2 cups soy creamer
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons green tea powder (matcha)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon Ener G egg replacer

Then let that chill in the refrigerator until I was ready to put it in my ice cream maker for half an hour.  It came out a little bit soupy, but after this picture was taken I put the leftovers in the freezer, and it firmed up perfectly after an hour or so.

Jenny said that vegan green tea ice cream was her “dream come true.”  Then she asked me what my dream was, since she and Kate had both gotten exactly what they’d been craving.  I had to think about it overnight, but then I was inspired.  Breakfast for Dinner.  I think that’s going to be our next potluck theme.  I might even try to make vegan biscuits and gravy.  I’m going to flip through my Vegan Brunch cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz for inspiration.

PS: Good news!  I get to spend the whole summer in San Francisco!  YAY!!!!  I couldn’t be more excited, and I will eat well out there, but I will miss these delicious meals and especially the girl talk that goes with them.

Easy Homemade Sushi Bowl

In the past I have tried to make veggie sushi rolls at home and been very disappointed.  My boyfriend will be the first to tell you that it’s because I have terrible knives.  I could go out and buy new knives so that the sushi roll doesn’t just squish when I try to cut it.  OR I could leave the fancy stuff to ACTUAL sushi chefs and just throw all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Done and done.  Actually the inspiration came from this post on Veggie Wedgie, which I discovered through Pinterest.  I didn’t really follow the recipe, though, just stole the concept.

Here’s what I did:

I cooked 1 cup of short-grain brown rice in my rice cooker.  I then stirred together 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon of agave nectar in a little bowl and then stirred that mixture into my rice and let it sit while I prepped the other ingredients.

For the toppings I used 1/4 cup frozen shelled edamame (cooked in the microwave), 1/4 cup chopped cucumber, 1/2 of a small carrot (chopped), and 1/2 of an avocado (chopped).  You could use absolutely any veggies your heart desires.  Then I made an optional spicy sauce by mixing 1 teaspoon Vegenaise and 1 teaspoon sri racha and drizzled that on top.  I served this with one packet of Trader Joe’s Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks.  You could also just buy regular sheets of nori at the Asian market and cut them to whatever size you like.  You could crumble the nori on top of the bowl, but I like to scoop up the rice and veggies with the little nori sheets.  Serve with soy sauce.

  • 1 cup of short-grain brown rice: $0.22
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar  :$0.08
  • 1 teaspoon of agave nectar: $0.08
  • 1/4 cup frozen shelled edamame: $0.33
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber: $0.17
  • 1/2 of a small carrot: $0.04
  • 1/2 of an avocado: $0.31
  • 1 teaspoon Vegenaise: $0.02
  • 1 teaspoon sri racha: $0.02
  • 1 packet of Trader Joe’s Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks: $0.99
  • soy sauce: We’ll say $0.05

=$2.31 for one really good sushi meal!

I don’t claim that anything about this is authentic, but it is easy, versatile, nutritious, delicious, fun, and certainly cheaper than going out for sushi!

More Midwestern Travels: Vegan Comfort Food in Chicago

I just returned from a road trip to Chicago!  I’ve been dying to see the Post-Impressionist masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago for ages, and I also wanted to eat at the Chicago Diner ever since my friends Alison and Joe made that wonderful Thanksgiving Tofu Roulade from the Chicago Diner Cookbook.  I actually got to travel with a fellow vegetarian (and fellow art historian), my good friend Kristin, and we stuffed ourselves silly with good food.

On the road we snacked on goodies from Trader Joe’s: roasted garlic hummus, mini whole-wheat pitas, a veggie tray, fresh fruit, dried mandarin oranges (those are amazing!), and sodas.  All of this was less than $30.

When we got to Chicago we checked in to the HI Chicago Hostel, which was cheap but clean, safe, centrally located, and included free breakfast!

For dinner we walked down the street to The Berghoff Restaurant, recommended by Noor.

Now, a German place might not seem like the best bet for two herbivores, but Kristin LOVES German food, having been raised in Germany, and we made the most lovely meal of appetizers and sides!

From top-left: spinach-stuffed mushrooms, dark beer (house recipe), red cabbage, spaetzel, pierogies, potato pancakes with apple sauce, hot tea, bread basket, house salad (fresh greens, tomatoes, asparagus, shaved fresh fennel and amazing vinaigrette of some sort).  We left full and very, very happy for only about $40.

This place had a lot of Old-Chicago charm.  I loved the murals of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (where they debuted their beer).

…and the beer-stein stained-glass windows

The next day we had waffles at the hostel, granola bars at the museum, and then a nice, large linner (lunch+dinner) at the Chicago Diner.  This place exceeded my built-up expectations!

It’s a cute little all-vegetarian place that features local artwork and friendly service.

I ordered the hazelnut coffee, which came with vegan whipped cream!

Then I chose the Chicken Fried Steak.  It was seitan (high-protein wheat gluten) with a heavenly, crispy batter coating, served with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy, plus veggies with pesto.  YUM!

I have to say: this was better than most of the ACTUAL chicken-fried steak I’ve ever had.

Kristin ordered the nachos: house-made chips with vegan cheese made by Chicago company Teese, house-made vegan chorizo and sour cream and salsa and guacamole and other goodies.

WE CLEANED OUR PLATES!  That’s right!  We even impressed the waitress.  For about $30, we were full for the whole 8-hour trip home (although I did polish off the veggie tray anyway).  Next time we need to remember to save room for dessert.  I did buy the Chicago Diner Cookbook as a souvenir.  I can’t wait to try the Stroganoff recipe.  I love that even the vegan fare is hearty in the Midwest.


I can’t seem to get enough of the new kimchi from Trader Joe’s.  Unlike the stuff I’ve seen in jars at the Asian market, it’s vegan, all natural (no preservatives or MSG), and it’s only $1.99 for a zipper bag that supposedly contains 11 servings.  For me it ends up being 2 or 3 servings.  It’s not super spicy, but it is fresh and flavorful and makes a good meal with some ramen or rice and tofu.

PS: Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage, a staple of Korean cuisine.  Some people love it; some people hate it, but if you haven’t tried it, you should.

Spaghetti Bolognese

This week I was craving a nice, comforting bowl of pasta.  I turned to an old favorite recipe for vegan bolognese sauce:


The secret weapon here is textured vegetable protein (TVP).  It provides a remarkably meaty texture and soaks up whatever flavored liquids you use to re-constitute it.  The soy sauce here gives it a dark color and meaty depth of flavor.  Best of all, TVP is a CHEAP source of protein.  It doubles in size when re-constituted, and a cup of dry TVP, at just over a dollar, is certainly cheaper than a pound of ground beef (and I seriously doubt that your family would notice the difference).

This time around I added a stalk of celery along with the other veggies; I used one tablespoon of Italian seasoning in place of the herbs listed; and I subbed a can of Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce for the crushed tomatoes + tomato paste.  Mushrooms would be a good addition.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil: $0.05
  • 1 onion: $0.25
  • 1 carrot: $0.08
  • 1 stalk celery: $0.12
  • 2 garlic cloves: $0.10
  • Italian seasoning: $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes: $0.05
  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein: $1.08
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce: $0.18
  • 1 cup vegetable stock: free (homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast: $0.30
  • 1 (28 ounce) can marinara: $1.79
  • ½ cup fresh parsley: $0.59
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti: $1.39

=$6.13/6 generous servings


Can you imagine how much you would pay for this big plate of pasta in a restaurant?

Enjoy with a glass of red wine.  It pairs well with a cheap merlot, like 2-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s

Also, here’s an old photo from when I first made this a couple of years ago:

It’s a photographic dish, and it tastes even better than it looks!  Buon appetito!