homemaking, Uncategorized

What’s for dinner? Trader Joe’s Edition

I followed through with making dinner tonight (one of my DO items for 2017, but getting an early start).  My daughter and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some premade burger patties for my husband to put on the smoker and I always taste test (and usually buy whatever it is).  Tonight, we seemingly hit the holy grail!  My daughter’s favorite soup is the black bean soup at Panera and they were serving their Latin Style Black Bean Soup with their precooked pork carnitas.  So, we bought the supplies for both the hamburgers and the soup and came home.  BTW, for hamburger patties (4), hamburger buns (8), pork carnitas and black bean soup, along with a bag of fuji apples – and a second bag to boot because there were a few bruised apples in it, so the cashier said he would have to damage it out anyways and we could just take them, SCORE! – it was only $26.  Not bad for two meals plus (we have a ton of leftovers from tonight).  I let my daughter decide which meal for tonight and she chose the soup.  I thought it was a little watery when we tasted it (I like thick black bean soup), so I added a can of black beans and a can of corn (both drained of liquid), heated up the carnitas in the microwave for three minutes and shredded it into the soup and heated it all up again in the microwave.  Total prep time, probably 10 minutes!  I took three of the hamburger buns (since we only have four patties for tomorrow) and made those into garlic bread and served them with the soup.  It was all very yummy, super easy and pretty cheap.


Little box of magic


I do feel like if I went to Trader Joe’s every day just to do the taste test, I would be a better cook.  They always have super easy recipes and all the fixins right there.  Sometimes they are serving something I would never eat, but most of the time, it is tasty and somewhat healthy.

If you are interested in a few other recipes for the Black Bean Soup, you might want to try the following.  I probably will!

Black Bean Nacho Soup

Another one similar to mine


Thursday Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up Thursday #19 – Food, not foodie, Edition

Today’s Thursdays Thumbs Up will be focused on food items.  Note, these are NOT foodie items, but quick, easy and delicious foods that keep me sane.  I am not a cook, but I like to put together tasty things at home.  I just want them put together in short order.  Fast food without the trip to the fast food place.  So, here are some of my recent faves that fall into this category:

1.  Bake in Tray Foster Farms Seasoned Chicken Breasts.

bake in tray chicken

I will admit that at one point in the process, I was really frustrated with these.  But, in hindsight, I think the problem was probably my oven and not the chicken.  The box said they should take 30 minutes to bake, but they ended up taking close to an hour and I was already hungry when I started, so that frustrated me.  And, I was so paranoid by the lack of cooking that was taking place in the first 30 minutes that I ended up slicing the breasts up and throwing them in a frying pan to make sure they were completely done.  In the end, they tasted great and from all the other reviews online, this was my problem and not something with the product.

Since I had to throw them into a pan anyways, I ended up making a little bit of a burrito bowl with the chicken, item number two below for rice and some cheese melted on top.  So, so good.  Next time, I would toss in some black beans and corn as well, but it was good with just the three items.  The chicken is juicy, the sauce was tasty and not to spicy so my 5 yo ate it without complaint and the combo of the chicken, rice and cheese were perfect flavor-wise.  So, I will definitely be getting these again.  If I was making this for a large group, I would just make my own with a Max Pac of chicken and some verde salsa in the slow cooker, but for just two of us, this was perfect.  There were two well-sized breasts and plenty of sauce for the two of us.

2.  “>Uncle Ben’s Spanish Style Ready Rice.

My daughter loves this rice and you can’t beat the ease with which you can make it – pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds after venting and serve.  It has great flavor, it is not to “wet” (my husband hates “wet” rice, so its perfect for us) and the 5 yo eats it.  So, its perfect.  When mixed in with the chicken in the frying pan and then sprinkled with Mexican shredded cheese, it was extremely tasty!  I can’t recommend it enough.

3. “>Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’s Clean Up Time.

This is a late addition.  My daughter just finished spending 30-40 minutes cleaning up the living room of her myriad of toys and art supplies and shoes and clothing and everything else from the last couple of days.  All inspired by this episode of Daniel Tiger.  She did it without being asked.  She recycled what should be recycled.  She threw away what should be thrown away.  It. was. awesome.  So, thanks Daniel Tiger!

4.  Swim lessons.

Bean passed her Level 1 swim lessons today.  We’re taking the next two weeks off because we will be traveling a lot in the next couple of weeks.  Then, I’ll get her in Level 2 and hopefully she will be water safe by the end of the summer.


5.  Last, but not least, I want to give a thumbs up to Bay Area weather.

I am spending the holiday weekend at my mom’s place (her first fourth of July without my dad being alive).  I am happy to be able to be there with her, but as an extra added benefit I am happy to be spending the weekend in temps that will be approximately 30-40 degrees cooler (yes, that zero does belong there) than here at my house.  So, big thumbs up for that!

What about you?  What are your thumbs up for this week?