Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Loving: Whole Foods (again)

                                                           "Whole Foods Parking Lot"

I've never hidden the fact that I am in love with Whole Foods, which is like admitting to everyone that I also like to breathe fresh air. So you can imagine how high I jumped when I heard that a Whole Foods was opening up just a few short blocks from my home. I almost keeled over from happiness. Fact #48:  Having a Whole Foods open up near your home signifies that the gentrification of your neighborhood is complete.

I would drive by the construction site on my way to the gym just about every morning and watched it progress from a gigantic pit of dirt to a gleaming storefront in just under a year. The store has been all over Facebook with its fan page and when they offered behind the scene tour, my neighbor and I jumped at the chance to walk around it before it opened up last week. I didn't take any pictures (I wasn't sure if I was allowed to), but the store is bigger than any other Whole Foods that I know of and the selections is jaw- dropping. I know many call it Whole Paycheck, but all I can say is thank you for coming to our neighborhood.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dinners for August 12 - 18, 2012

This week should be the calm before the storm since school starts next week. However, we have three birthdays within 18 days of each other and as a result we are busier than ever this week with a 3-year-old, a 41-year-old and a 70-year-old all celebrating birthdays.With family commitments, birthdays and appointments all colliding at once, we have a rare only-three-dinners-eaten-at-the-table kind of the week.

To make things easier on myself this week I chose two dinners from the Dinner: A Love Story cookbook. I'll post my review of last week's choice later this week. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the recipes as well.

Sunday: Kale, Sausage and White Bean stew <---- DALS Cook-A-Long selection of the week

Monday: My birthday girl requested "Sammin, a vegahble, bread, an a pupcake." For those not well-versed in preschooler, it translates into "Grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, some nice bread and a cupcake for dessert." Your wish is my command, Colette.

Tuesday: Out with family

Wednesday: Out with family

Thursday: Spinach, tomato and feta frittata <---- BONUS DALS Cook-A-Long selection of the week (p.117)

Friday: Out with family

Saturday: Out with family

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trader Joe's Salad Hack

One of the nice perks of my office location is that I am a two block walk away from Trader Joe's and can pick up some last minute items for dinner. Alternatively, one of the not-so-great perks of working so close to a Trader Joe's is that I also pick up things that I really shouldn't be buying - like my favorite sea salt and turbinado sugar covered dark chocolate almonds or a prepared salad for lunch while I am at the store under the guise of "getting something for dinner." More often than not, I will find any excuse to go in there on my lunch hour (more on my lunch hour grocery shopping trips here).

When my husband and I play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who wins the previous night's leftovers for lunch that day and he wins, then I just go to Trader Joe's for lunch. (Note to self: Watch linked video on how to win Roshambo every single time.) I try to find a healthy salad that isn't a total calorie bomb but will keep me filled for the afternoon. So while I am technically eating a salad almost every day for lunch, I am also paying about $4-$5 for these packaged salads which any person in their right mind would know is a royal waste of money. As I ate my favorite Vegetable & Grain Country Salad at my desk the other day, I took a quick look at the ingredients and realized that I was paying $4 for a whole lot of packaging and not a whole lot of salad. I resolved right then and there to make my own Country Salad (what, pray tell, makes it a 'Country Salad' Trader Joe's?).

This salad has simple ingredients and could not be any easier to make. The packaged version came with cooked bulgur wheat, garbanzo beans, two or three sad cherry tomatoes, some diced roasted red bell pepper and cucumber mixed together and placed on top of shredded cabbage.

Mine was the same but I threw in some basil and some edamame because I had it in the fridge. 

Vegetable & Grain Country Salad Hack
(Note: I cooked 1 cup of dry bulgur wheat in 2 cups water which yielded 4 salad servings for me)

Bulgur Salad:
1/2 cup bulgur wheat, cooked = .49 cents
1 Persian cucumber, peeled and diced = .17 cents (Six for a $1 at the farmer's market)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (I didn't roast it) = .25 cents (2 for $1 at the farmer's market)
1/3 cup garbanzo beans = .33 cents
6 cherry tomatoes = Free from my garden
1 cup shredded cabbage = .15 cents ($1 per cabbage at the farmer's market)

(no measurements, just did it to taste)
Exrta virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Squirt of lemon
Salt and Pepper                                                                                 

Total Cost:  $1.39

Crazy, right? All I did was cook 1 cup of bulgur wheat in 2 cups simmering water for about 15 minutes and  added extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper as it cooked. I added a little more oil after it was done cooking, threw in the diced vegetables, mixed it together and put the mixture (about 1 cup total) on a bed of shredded cabbage. I made about four salads with 1 cup of cooked bulgur and then used the remaining ingredients for other things in our dinners that week.

This was a successful Trader Joe's salad hack in my book. I love that I can easily make this and can add in whatever vegetables I have in the fridge at the moment. I've added shredded carrot, minced shallots, green onions, edamame, etc. It's very adaptable and quite tasty. Hope you like it!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dinners for August 5 - 11, 2012

It took me close to a week after our vacation to get back into the groove of things. I had a menu for last week but I can't even remember where it is or what we ate. Now that we are back into our old routine I was more than happy to go make a menu early Sunday morning while my kids slept and then shop for it that same day the way I usually do. It feels like I got into a rather bad habit of going to the store nearly every day to pick up this or that and it was driving me crazy! Who wants to go to the store every single day? I like to get it done in one day and then not have to think about it for the rest of the week.

This week's DALS Cook-A-Long meal is Fried Fish Sandwiches with Zucchini Fries. I love this kind of meal because it's a modified Twofer. I can use the breading from the fries for the fish as well and not have to clean up another plate.  

Sunday: Out with family

Monday: Fried Fish sandwiches with zuchinni fries <------ DALS Cook-A-Long Selection of the Week

Tuesday: Pork stir fry

Wednesday: Shrimp, bacon and corn pasta toss

Thursday: Yogurt-marinated chicken with zucchini fritters

Friday: TBD

Saturday: TBD