Really Eating

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Everything

Posted in Grocery Shopping, Ingredients by Bethany on October 22, 2011

I didn’t grow up a huge fan of pumpkin-anything. I never understood (or even noticed) that pumpkins were for more than pie (yuck) and decorations (eh). Maybe it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the color orange? Who knows.

As I’ve been growing and adjusting more and more to the idea of eating seasonally, I was strangely intrigued by one of the pumpkin products in the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” we get in the mail–super premium pumpkin ice cream (what can I say, I love ice cream).

Quick background: I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe’s, mainly because I find myself annoyed at how quickly I can spend money on things that aren’t *necessary*. Ex: sparkling pink lemonade. Water would be just fine, but I can’t resist their sparkling lemonade! Does anyone agree with this sentiment?? I do find myself buying some actual ingredients there from time to time (mushrooms are typically cheaper than any other grocery store), but a lot of times I feel underwhelmed. For example, bread I buy at TJ’s often molds more quickly than I would expect (even more quickly than the expiration tags dictate). Another example, a lot of their products aren’t that much better for you than those at a conventional grocery store (when it comes to meat/produce/etc).

That being said, I LOVE their ready-made salads as lunch alternatives to eating out at work when I don’t have leftovers to eat. I am constantly tempted to buy their chicken tikka masala frozen entree (it is SO. GOOD. I think the free sample lady sold me on this one too…). I am also constantly amazed by all the unique things they can cover in chocolate–soy nuts/sesame seeds/potato chips/______(fill in anything here)… and you get the picture.

Anyway, in true Trader Joe’s fashion, I was lured in to buy super premium pumpkin ice cream ($3.99, d-e-licious) and then the free sample lady sold me on pumpkin bread/muffin mix (I swore off cake mixes but couldn’t… resist… the… pumpkin… bread…). BTW: the pumpkin bread is delicious. I bought some canned pumpkin the other day at Albertsons and am committed to using it to bake something or other before the season’s out. I have yet to actually buy a pumpkin and do anything with it (big. orange. scary.), but so far, my taste buds are telling me that they like pumpkin flavored things. More to (hopefully) come!

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Pioneer Woman Asparagus

Posted in Grocery Shopping, Ingredients, Recipes by Bethany on February 2, 2011

This is a quick, simple post to accompany an equally simple recipe.

Asparagus is technically a spring vegetable, but since we live in the great desert of Southern California, it’s available much more often. At the farmers market I believe they were $2.50-$3 per bundle and generally thinner (although they may thicken as the spring comes). At the conventional grocery store, I only buy asparagus when it’s on sale, even though it is imported from Mexico. This week it was $1.49/lb (the lowest I’ve seen it) and it’s $1.99/lb every so often. Since we’re always trying to frugal and I do my best to keep track of prices and sales, I thought it’d be helpful to include those prices and will do my best to continue to do so when appropriate!

I actually haven’t cooked asparagus any other way than the way below. I think it’s super easy and quick (minus the preheating oven time). I give myself bonus points for the days when I’m already baking something in the oven and I can multi-task-bake.

Original recipe & pictures here: Pioneer Woman Oven-Baked Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1-2 bunches Asparagus
  • 4 Tablespoons (up To 5 Tablespoons) Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash asparagus thoroughly, then snap off the ends. Ree (PW) cuts them, but I kind of enjoy the snapping. A lot of people have opinions and theories on this… but whatever. Do whatever you’d like!

Spread out the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat it as dry as you can, as you don’t want any water to “steam” the asparagus in the oven. I’ve actually put more than one layers worth of asparagus and it turned out fine.

Begin by generously drizzling olive oil all over the asparagus and then sprinkle the asparagus generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. It’s better to be cautious at first because once or twice I’ve put too much and then it ended up being too oily.

Roast the asparagus for about ten minutes. The secret here is for the oven to be very hot so the asparagus can begin to brown on the outside without overcooking and getting too flimsy. You want the finished asparagus to still have a bite to it. Delicious!

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