Blog

DIY Trader Joe’s Cheese Board Guide

In order to properly celebrate National Cheese Day, I wanted to share with you my ultimate Cheese Board Guide so you can celebrate today (& any other day) with a cheese board of your very own!

This guide is strictly a Trader Joe’s shopping guide but in the future I’ll be sharing guides that can be used at other grocery stores.

The purpose of this guide is to give you an idea of what you can buy from Trader Joe’s, in order to make your very own cheese boards. It will help with planning, shopping & most importantly, budgeting. Cheesed boards can get expensive but having this guide as a resource can help you understand how to manage the cost, depending on what you’re wanting on your board. My intention is for you to use this guide as a “build your own cheese board” tool to help you navigate a possibly confusing arena. Ideally you’ll want to choose between 2-5 items from each category, but this is dependent on number of people, size & budget!

While I didn’t catalog every single item at Trader Joe’s that could possibly make its way onto a cheese board, there is a good variety of items ranging in price.

*I have not personally tried every single item on this list, but I wanted to show you what is available to you & I will add notes to the items I have tried! I have also highlighted my personal favorites that I use frequently on my boards for inspiration! At the end of the guide you can find pictures of some of the boards I have made in the past!

I hope this is helpful to your cheese loving soul!

Cheese:

  • Unexpected Cheddar – $3.99 / 7oz
  • Double Cream Brie – $5.99 / lb*
  • Cherve Goat Cheese – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Goat Milk Brie – $2.99 / 4.4oz
  • Goat’s Milk Creamy Cheese – $3.29 /4.5oz
  • Boursin – $3.79 /5.2oz
  • Double Cream Gouda – $7.99/ lb*
  • Cracker Cut Cheddar Cheese – $4.49 / 10oz
  • Dorothy’s Comeback Cow – $6.99 / 7oz
  • Cave Aged Blue Cheese – $6.99 / 7oz
  • Manchego – $9.99 / lb*
  • Chevoo (Marinated Goat Cheese) – $4.99 / 4oz
  • Le Gruyére – $14.99 / lb*

*Cheeses sold using ‘per pound’ prices are usually sold in portions ranging from 5-10oz so pricing will vary depending on location & availability.

My Favorites – Unexpected Cheddar: it’s my favorite cheese sold at Trader Joe’s & it’s great for cheese boards because its familiar enough being a cheddar, but it’s a little elevated in look & flavor! This cheese always makes it onto my boards! Double Cream Brie: it’s simple. People. Love. Brie. & this one is fabulous, great flavor & creamy texture. Cherve Goat Cheese: this goat cheese is mild in flavor but just tangy enough to add interest to your boards! You can also dress it up nicely with garnish since it’s basically a blank canvas. Boursin: it’s a very familiar cheese which makes it great for a crowd that’s new to fancy cheese! It also spreads wonderfully. Cracker Cut Cheddar: when you want something familiar & simple, this is the way to go. Bonus, it’s already cut for you! Cave Aged Blue Cheese: this is a mild blue cheese, it’s similar to gorgonzola which a lot of people love & has amazing flavor & creaminess!

Meats:

  • Prosciutto – $4.99 / 5.29oz
  • Peppered Salame $5.99 / 10oz
  • Chianti Salami – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Turkey Summer Sausage – $3.99 / 8oz
  • Sopressata Salame – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Calabrese Salame – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Italian Dry Salame (Sliced) – $4.49 / 8oz
  • Italian Dry Salame – $4.49/ 8oz
  • Pepperoni – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Salame de Parma – $4.99 / 4oz
  • Salame Secchi – $7.49 / 9oz

My Favorites – Prosciutto: it tears nicely into small pieces great for cheesed board snacking & it’s not too highly flavored so it goes well with stronger cheeses. Chianti Salami: this is a red wine salami with a really deep flavor & good chewy texture. Calabrese Salame: this salame you’ll notice has a more red color because its heavily spiced which is really nice when you want to add a spicy kick to your boards! Italian Dry Salame: it’s a classic! Everyone knows it & loves it. Always a safe choice. Salame de Parma: this salame is thinner & longer in shape which I love using to add interest to the boards. It’s always nice to add ingredients of different sizes & shapes! Salame Secchi: this salame comes with a white casing (totally edible) which gives it a great contrast to the colorful red interior. It slices into nice rounds & has a wonderful meaty flavor with a harder texture.

Crackers:

  • Savory Thins – $1.69 / 3.4oz
  • Pita Bite Crackers – $2.49 / 6oz
  • Water Crackers – $1.39 / 4.4oz
  • Bite Size Everything Crackers – $2.49 / 10oz
  • Brioche Toasts – $1.99 / 5.26oz
  • Golden Rounds – $1.99 / 12oz
  • Organic Salty Squares – $1.99 / 5.5oz
  • Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers – $2.29 / 10oz
  • Fig & Olive Crisps – $3.99 / 5.3oz

My Favorites – Savory Thins: these crackers have a mild sesame flavor that pairs really nicely with Brie & Goat cheeses! The crunch is also amazing! These are usually my go-to for boards. Pita Bite Crackers: these crackers are great because they have a nice pita like flavor & they have layers giving them a good crunch. These pair nicely with Cheddar & Gouda! Fig & Olive Crisps: these crackers always make an appearance on my boards because they’re so different than regular crackers. They have a deep dark brown color with specks of fig & olive which are two things that go amazingly with cheese! These crackers pair nicely with strong cheeses like Goat or Blue!

Dips:

  • Fig Butter – $2.49 / 16oz
  • Multi-Floral & Clover Honey – $3.49 / 12oz
  • Mostly Mesquite Honey – $6.49 / 24oz
  • Pink Grapefruit Marmalade – $3.99 / 13oz
  • Honey with Honeycomb – $6.49 / 16oz
  • Pepper Jelly $2.49 / 11oz

My Favorites – Fig Butter: this stuff is amazing I could just eat it with a spoon, but it’s even better on cheese! This fig butter almost always makes it onto my boards! I bought a jar & it lasted through 4-5 cheese boards! Honey: honey pairs incredibly well with cheese so I always recommend adding any kind of honey to a cheese board!

Crunch:

  • Pistachios – $6.99 / 16oz
  • Walnut Halves – $5.99 / 16oz
  • Pecan Halves – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Almonds, Roasted & Salted – $5.99 /16oz
  • Mixed Nuts, Dry Roasted & Salted – $7.99 /12oz
  • Truffle Marcona Almonds – $5.99 / 6oz

My Favorites – Pistachios: they’re so salty & so crunchy, they add a nice contrast to the really creamy cheeses! Walnuts: they’re my favorite nut so they’re usually on my boards & they pair well with Brie! Truffle Marcona Almonds: they have a great truffle flavor that goes well with the stinkier cheeses & they really elevate any board.

Extras:

  • Dried Persimmons – $3.49 / 5oz
  • Dried Apricots – $3.99 / 16oz
  • Black Mission Figs – $4.99 / 12oz

My Favorites – Dried Apricots: they’re pretty familiar to people so they’ll naturally gravitate towards them & they always add a really pretty colorful contrast to boards! Plus, they’re delicious!

Garnish:

  • Rosemary – $1.79 / .75oz
  • Mint – $1.79 / .75oz
  • Basil (Potted) – $1.99
  • Arugula – $1.99 / 7oz
  • Blackberries – $3.99 / 12oz
  • Raspberries – $2.99 / 6oz
  • Pomegranate Seeds – $4.49 /5.3oz
  • Blueberries – $2.99 / 11oz
  • Granny Smith Apples – $0.69 / each
  • Green Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz
  • Red Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz

My Favorites – Rosemary: it’s pretty much my go to garnish because its so beautiful & fragrant. It’s not consumed so I pretty much only use it for the look & smell, plus its always available! Blackberries: they look really great as a garnish on top of Brie because the color contrast really makes them both stand out, plus they’re delicious & go pretty well with most cheeses! Pomegranate Seeds: these look really beautiful scattered across a finished board to add a pop of color & they’re especially great on a fall or winter board! Granny Smith Apples: apples are usually my go to because they’re pretty much always in season & always taste great. Its another familiar item you can use on your boards & you can’t beat Brie on an apple slice drizzled with honey!

I’ve added some pictures of completed boards I’ve made in the past to show you how all of these ingredients come together! I hope all of this inspires you to make your very own cheese boards! Feel free to tag me (on instagram) so I can see all of your hard work! @millennial_kitchen_

Blog

Bottlerock’s Best Bites 2019

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend Bottlerock Music Festival, which is held every May in Napa Valley. The festival features a plethora of amazing musical artists, a bounty of incredible wines (it is Napa after all!) and most importantly, an abundance of overwhelmingly delicious food, served up by some of Napa’s most talented. There were over 80 restaurants, food trucks, & vendors in attendance, serving up delicious festival eats, elevated to match the Napa Valley crowd. With so many options you were really able to acquire whatever you were craving whether that be a classic burger, some delicious tacos, or even Paella. There was something to please every palate.

I started the weekend like any good foodie & did my research. I looked into the food that was to be at the festival & mapped out all the spots I wanted to hit over the course of the weekend. Some of the places I was most excited for: Bling Bling Dumpling (my go to at any festival is Bling Bling), Gerard’s Paella, Ad Hoc (I can’t pass up a chance to eat Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken), Johnny Doughnuts, Izzy’s Cheesesteaks & Itani Ramen.

Turns out I wasn’t able to eat ALL the food at the festival so I had to make some tough decisions over the course of three days. Luckily I did pretty well & ate some incredible food. Here are my favorites of the weekend!

Day 1:

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Celadon

Kobe Beef Corn Dog & Fries:

This corn dog was unlike any other corn dog I’ve ever had. It was a classic corn dog with the volume turned way up with the use of Kobe Beef in the hot dog. The beef had such a deep, rich, meaty flavor. The breading had just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect crunch. Paired with crispy, salty French fries, Celadon produced the perfect festival meal!

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The Farmer’s Wife

Tuna Melt

This tuna melt was my first meal of the festival & it really set the standard for the level of quality I was going to expect. It was the perfect tuna melt. The tuna was so moist but not soggy & had great flavor & crunch from red onion & celery. The bread was a really great locally made sourdough that was toasted perfectly which resulted in a great crunch when biting into it, & it also had great stability for such a hefty sandwich. The Farmer’s Wife really knows how to make a solid sandwich!

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Taqueria Rosita

Steak Burrito

This burrito kept it simple. Rice, beans, cheese & perfectly tender steak. It was served with fresh made chips, a bright tomato salsa & everyone’s favorite, guac. This burrito may have been simple but it was done just right, made with great ingredients & it was just what I needed to munch on while watching my idol, Iron Chef Morimoto, at the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage!

Day 2:

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Shawarma Point

Beef & Lamb Gyro

I’m a total sucker for shawarma & gyros. Whenever I see them on a menu I can’t help myself so I was really excited to hear a place called ‘Shawarma Point’ was making an appearance at the festival. I ordered the beef & lamb gyro which came loaded on pita bread & topped with lettuce & tomato. Off to the side were a few DIY sauces you could add to your gyro. I opted for the classic white sauce of course. After my first bite, I knew I made the right choice stopping by Shawarma Point. The pita was warm & fluffy with the perfect amount of chew. The meat was seasoned perfectly & was so juicy. The veggies were crisp & fresh which was the perfect balance to offset all the warm, meaty goodness inside the pita. And the white sauce was refreshing & creamy, the perfect topping for such a great gyro. This was one of the meals I had this weekend that I couldn’t stop thinking about!

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Johnny Doughnuts

Vanilla Old Fashion & Maple Old Fashion

The smell of these doughnuts alone was enough to drive customers into the line. These doughnuts were being served out of an adorable & updated van, alone side some fresh, made to order coffee! I tried the vanilla old fashion & the maple old fashion. These doughnuts were huge! Almost the size of two regular doughnuts, but you won’t see me complaining about that. These doughnuts were unbelievably fresh, they had such great flavor & the glaze was to die for. Doughnuts can be so simple but when they’re made well, with good quality ingredients, by people who love what they do, you get something really special.

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Beef Birria Taco

This taco was just what I needed to end my day on a great note. It was two small corn tortillas overflowing with tender beef birria, that was so juicy I needed several napkins, topped with pickled red onion, arugula & queso fresco. The meat was so tender & flavorful it tasted like it had been cooking for DAYS. The pickled onion & arugula gave the taco a great fresh bite to cut through all the richness of the meat & the queso gave the taco the perfect salty bite. It was a simple taco executed perfectly! What else could you want out of a taco?

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Ristorante Allegria

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich & Garlic Fries

All weekend I was seeing people walking around with big plates of some kind of sandwich accompanied by a mound of garlic fries. I knew I had to get to the bottom of this. I finally figured out these plates were coming from Ristorante Allegria & the sandwich was a chicken parm. My fiancé is a sucker for chicken parm sandwiches so naturally we had to get ourselves one & see what the hype was about. It was delicious! The bread was soft, the chicken was juicy & there was just the right amount of marinara & pesto to flavor the sandwich, without drowning it & making a mess on the plate. It was executed very well for a grab & go meal. The fries though, the fries were the real kicker. It was a mound of perfectly crispy French fries loaded with fresh garlic, parsley & parmesan. Do I even need to go on?

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Gerard’s Paella

Classic Spanish Paella

I’ll start by saying I will try to not get carried away here. I grew up eating paella & I’ve had some really amazing paella in my life both locally, and when I was fortunate enough to visit Spain a few years back. I know, I’m very blessed to have eaten this much Paella. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish filled with seafood, chicken, meat & veggies. It is a pretty complex dish that even calling it a ‘rice dish’ seems unfair. It’s truly an art, making Paella. Traditionally, it’s made using a very specific process of cooking & arranging the ingredients & it’s made in a large Paella Pan (accurately named) that’s similar to a very large cast iron. The Paella pan is designed to give the food great color & flavor, but its size is because Paella is usually served as quite a show because of the way its arranged. This version, which was served in a take away container, was not short on authenticity or flavor. I’ll admit this now, I had this Paella twice over the course of three days because it was so unbelievable. Behind the pickup window of Gerard’s was a sea of large Paella pans cooking away this delicious chow. That was the first moment I knew this was going to be good. I also had seen people walking around the entire first day of the festival holding these containers overflowing with beautifully colored rice, chicken, seafood & veggies. When my Paella was handed to me it was still steaming from being served fresh off the Paella pan, but that didn’t stop me from digging in immediately. At first glance I noticed the color of the rice. It was a beautifully deep orange color, most likely a result of saffron (classic Paella spice). I also noticed several large pieces of chicken & shrimp. I was excited about this one. I took my first bite & was overwhelmed. The flavor was so deep & so intense. This really was festival food, elevated. This was some of the best Paella I had ever eaten. The rice was cooked perfectly, there were parts of the rice with really crispy browned bits from where the rice sat on the pan, the shrimp was tender & the chicken was juicy. The second I finished the bowl I wanted more. It was so good I passed up trying something new the following day just so I could have this Paella one more time.

Day 3:

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Itani Ramen

Chicken Ramen

On the third day it was raining for a majority of the morning so when I arrived at the festival, dressed in my windbreaker & boots, a hot bowl of ramen sounded incredible. The noodles were so chewy & the broth had so much depth of flavor it was borderline creamy. I don’t know how they make their broth but they’re doing something RIGHT over there! It was such a great bowl of ramen I forgot for a second that I was at a music festival in the pouring rain.

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Itani Ramen

Spicy Katsu Sandwich

I normally wouldn’t order two items from the same restaurant because my goal is to try as many spots as possible. But, when there is a spicy chicken Katsu sandwich on the menu, I literally cannot say no. I’m glad I broke my rule because this sandwich was WORTH IT! I don’t even know where to begin. The bread was so tender & soft, making it very easy to bite into. Some sandwiches come on rolls or buns that are too hard you feel like you’re destroying the roof of your mouth (you allllll know what I’m talking about). This bread was perfectly soft but held up well to all the amazingness inside. The slaw was super crunchy which paired well with the creamy, spicy sauce & soft bread. The best part? The chicken obviously. The chicken was so tender on the inside but perfectly crispy on the outside, it had great balance. There were parts of the chicken that were extra crispy & other parts that were meatier. It was truly a perfect sandwich. One of the best things I ate the entire weekend, I contemplated going back.

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John’s Juice

Watermelon Juice

You really can’t beat fresh watermelon juice served to you inside of a watermelon. This juice was the best refreshment & palate cleanser after a day full of eating. It was really enjoyable to have something so light & refreshing to cut through all the fatty foods I had been eating all weekend!

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Izzy’s Cheesesteaks

Classic Cheesesteak

I am a sucker for cheesesteaks. They’re probably my favorite food & I haven’t even been to Philly yet to have a REAL one. Meat & cheese inside of bread is just the pinnacle of deliciousness & a well-made cheesesteak is one of the best meals out there. When doing my research, I found there were going to be two cheesesteak spots at the festival so I wanted to make my choice wisely. The first day I decided to try a different cheesesteak because their description said they used Amoroso Rolls which is a classic cheesesteak roll. I couldn’t pass up authenticity, right? What I failed to notice was that they were making their cheesesteaks with shaved roast beef rather than a more classic ribeye steak. The sandwich was definitely lacking in flavor. The meat didn’t taste like it had been seasoned well & the cheese sauce was a little flat. There weren’t any veggies to give a nice crunch to the sandwich either. The bread was okay, it wasn’t warmed enough so when I went to eat it, it started to crumble & fall apart. Overall I felt disappointed & knew I chose the wrong cheesesteak spot. The next day I knew I had to fill my cheesesteak craving so I headed to Izzy’s after doing a deep dive into their Instagram & seeing how delicious their sandwiches looked. Let me tell you, this was a good cheesesteak. Izzy’s really knows what they’re doing! The bread was so soft & help up beautifully to all the yummy meaty cheesiness inside. The meat was so flavorful, so tender with just the right amount of crispy bits from direct contact with the flattop. The cheese was sooooo gooey & melty it became one with the sandwich. This baby was also loaded with delicious onions as well as sweet & spicy peppers that gave it a nice kick and bite of acidity to cut through the fattiness of the meat & cheese. Basically, this cheesesteak was the bomb.

 

Here are some other non-food pictures to really show you why this festival should be your new favorite summer party

 

If you liked this, check out my reviews from Life is Beautiful 2018

Recipes · Uncategorized

Classic Blue Cheese Dressing

Makes: about 1 1/2- 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 6oz blue cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients, reserving 2oz of the blue cheese, using a whisk.
  2. Add remaining blue cheese & gently mix into dressing.
  3. Store dressing in a container in the fridge for up to a week.

 

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Recipes

Falafel Pitas

One of my absolute favorite things to eat is a falafel pita. Crunchy balls of crispy falafel, topped with cool, crisp veggies, all dressed up with fresh & creamy tzatziki. There are a lot of really great places to get one, but I love trying to make my favorite foods at home. I’ve bought the frozen falafel from Trader Joe’s before & I love them, but I wanted to try making them from scratch! There are two types of falafel, the traditional style which are fried, or a healthier option, which are baked.

Initially I wanted to fry my falafel because nothing beats that crunch you get when frying them. At first, I made my falafel into patty shapes to shallow fry them because I am not a fan of deep frying, it’s just way to much of a mess.  but after the first attempt, I realized this was not going to work. Maybe I had the oil at the wrong temp, or didn’t cook them long enough. Either way, they did not come out as planned!

That’s the fun part of cooking at home, you get to try new things & adapt to what works best for you & yields the best result. So I quickly realized frying the falafel was not working & decided to bake them instead. Spoiler alert, they were still delicious!

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The first step to delicious homemade falafel? Make tzatziki from scratch. It’s really easy to throw together using very common ingredients (many of which you probably already have) & really elevates this dish. Tzatziki is a yogurt based sauce that goes great with falafel, chicken, gyros & basically anything else. You won’t have any trouble getting through the leftovers & it keeps great in the fridge. Start by scooping the yogurt into a bowl. Then add in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & let it rest in the fridge. The longer it sets, the more delicious it will be! I let mine sit for the amount of time it took to get dinner on the table & it was great. If you have the time to assemble it earlier in the day, by all means, go for it!

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Falafel time! This mix comes together insanely easily using a food processor. Start by combining the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro & mint. Pulse until it begins to come together.

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Next comes the flavor! To the chickpeas, add paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic & baking soda. Mix on high until all ingredients are combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.

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Spoon mixture into a bowl & let it rest for 20-30 minutes before forming. While the mix is resting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pitas. I like to top mine with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion & cucumber. I chopped up all my veggies & set them aside so they’re ready to use when the falafel come out of the oven.

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To bake the falafel, form them into small balls & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bruch the tops with olive oil & bake the falafel in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the outside becomes crisp & the inside is still tender.

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When the falafel come out of the oven let them rest for a few minutes while you heat your pitas & gather your toppings.

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Dress up your pitas to your liking & boom! Not too difficult right?

Falafel Pitas

Prep time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 85 minutes
Servings: 20-23 falafel (depending on the size)

Ingredients: 

Tzatziki-

  • 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grated cucumber, drained of all liquid
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Falafel-

  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • oil, for brushing onto falafel

For serving-

  • pita bread
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • pickles
  • red onion
  • cucumber

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start by scooping the yogurt into a bowl. Then add in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & let it rest in the fridge.
  3. In a food processor, start by combining the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro & mint. Pulse until it begins to come together.
  4. To the chickpeas, add paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic & baking soda. Mix on high until all ingredients are combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon mixture into a bowl & let it rest for 20-30 minutes before forming. While the mix is resting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pitas.
  6. To bake the falafel, form them into small balls & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bruch the tops with olive oil & bake the falafel for about 30 minutes, until the outside becomes crisp & the inside is still tender.
  7. When the falafel come out of the oven let them rest for a few minutes while you heat your pitas & gather your toppings.
  8. Dress up your pitas to your liking & boom!
Recipes

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

It’s meatless Monday once again! This week I opted for a simpler take on a meatless dish and went with a vegetarian classic. This dish utilizes mushrooms as its main source of protein.

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta is a one-pot meal that comes together in the time it takes to boil some pasta! What else could you want on a Monday night? It’s filling, creamy & cheesy!

As I mentioned in a previous post, mushrooms are a fantastic meat substitute & they pair wonderfully with pasta. When they’re tossed in cream they reach a new level of delicious.

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Cover the whole mess with parmesan cheese & you’ve got yourself an insanely delicious meal! I served this up with some French bread & a delicious crisp white wine.

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Check out Girl Gone Gourmet for the full recipe!

Recipes

Lentil Soup

In my efforts to put a meatless dinner on the table every week, I have been researching & trying out new forms of protein. I work with beans a lot because there are so many different varieties that they can be used in almost any cuisine. I also use mushrooms a lot because they give a dish a real meatiness that can be lacking in vegetarian foods. Another ingredient I have been really excited to work with lately is lentils. They are also very versatile and work with a lot of different cuisines. I’ve used the cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s in salads & wraps but I was curious about using lentils that have not been pre-cooked.

Enter, lentil soup. It’s something I grew up eating out of a can & ordered frequently when I saw it on restaurant menus. I was excited to try making lentil soup from scratch. When researching recipes to figure out exactly how to put the soup together I realized quickly this was going to be an easy dish. You basically sauté some veggies, throw in lentils, diced tomatoes & a few spices, then let the stove do all the work. Sounds good to me!

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Start by gathering all of your ingredients & heating a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

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Next you want to prep the lentils. Just rinse them under cold water & let them dry slightly while the oil heats up.

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Once the oil it hot, cook onions, celery & carrots until they start to soften & onions become translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

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Once veggies have cooked, throw in the lentils, diced tomatoes & spices. Stir to combine.

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Next, add the broth & bring the whole mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer & cook, covered, for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.

I served my lentil soup with cheese toasts. To prepare the toasts, slice the baguette on a diagonal into a few pieces then spread them with softened butter. Divide the cheese among the toasts & broil until cheese is melted & bubbling.

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Once the toasts are ready, let them sit for a few minutes before serving up.

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While the toasts are resting, finish the soup. You can serve it up as is, if you like the texture, but I like my soups to be a little thicker so I used my immersion blender & blended about 1/3 of the soup so it had a thicker consistency, but still had a good number of whole lentils.

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Serve up with the toasts & a sprinkling of parmesan cheese & enjoy!

 

Lentil Soup

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • half a large baguette
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded

For the full recipe, visit Food Network

Recipes

Jackfruit Enchiladas

I heard about Jackfruit for the first time about a year ago when I saw a Tasty video for Vegan Pulled Pork. Since then, I was so enthralled by this ingredients & wanted to know more. I watched so many cooking videos of people working with Jackfruit. I wasn’t really sure where to get Jackfruit & working with the entire fruit seemed a little daunting. They’re also very large so I would feel wasteful buying a whole one. Fast forward to just a few weeks ago & I was at a party where someone had brought a whole Jackfruit (I’m still not sure why but I got to go home with some so I never questioned it again).

I was so excited to be going home with this Jackfruit because I finally got to try cooking with it, without having to deal with the whole fruit. All of the videos & recipes I looked at said the same thing, to treat the Jackfruit like any other pulled meat. So I shredded it up, tossed it in a pan & covered it in barbecue sauce. It was delicious.

I knew I wanted to cook with it again but still had no intention of buying a whole Jackfruit. And thats when it happened. I was strolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s, as I usually do on a Monday morning, when I saw something magical in the canned foods section. Canned Jackfruit. It was already broken down & preserved in a brine so all I had to do was take it out of the can & boom, it was ready to use. That is, the detailed version, of how these enchiladas came to be.

Start by gathering all of your ingredients. Drain the Jackfruit & rinse lightly with water to remove any excess brine. Break up the Jackfruit as you would a chicken breast, so it becomes smaller shreds.

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To dry the Jackfruit, line a quarter sheet pan (or a large plate) with paper towels. Cover the paper towels with shredded Jackfruit & lay another paper towel on top. Press down lightly to remove any excess moisture. The dryer the Jackfruit is, the better it will brown when sautéed.

Cook the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Cook until the onions begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Next add the garlic & spices & stir to combine. Cook for another minute until the spices become fragrant. Next add in the dried Jackfruit & stir it all up. Cover the mixture with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce & stir. Cook for another 5 minutes, then set aside on a plate.

While the Jackfruit is cooking, grate the cheese & pour another tablespoon of enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce in the pan that cooked the Jackfruit & heat it on medium low.

To assemble the enchiladas, start by dipping the tortilla into the heated enchilada sauce until it’s coated. Lay on about 2 tablespoons of the Jackfruit & top with about a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the enchilada and place it, rolled side down, in your baking dish. Keep doing this unit you are out of Jackfruit & cheese. Depending on how big the enchiladas are you should get between 7-9.

Once all the enchiladas are rolled, cover them with any remaining sauce & the remainder of the grated cheese. I like to dot the top of my enchiladas with sliced black olives but that part is optional!

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When you’re ready to eat the enchiladas, bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes until the cheese is melted & the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let the enchiladas cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving them up. Serve up with any desired toppings (I love to top my enchiladas with fresh guac, which you can find on this post) & enjoy!

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Jackfruit Enchiladas

Total Time: 1 hour (includes baking time)
Servings: 7-9 Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (about half an onion)
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (2 medium cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 can Jackfruit in brine*
  • 1 bottle red enchilada sauce
  • 7-9 medium corn tortillas
  • 3 cups grated monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Drain the Jackfruit & rinse lightly with water to remove any excess brine. Break up the Jackfruit as you would a chicken breast, so it becomes smaller shreds.
  2. To dry the Jackfruit, line a quarter sheet pan (or a large plate) with paper towels. Cover the paper towels with shredded Jackfruit & lay another paper towel on top. Press down lightly to remove any excess moisture
  3. Cook the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Cook until the onions begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Next add the garlic & spices & stir to combine. Cook for another minute until the spices become fragrant.
  5. Then add in the dried Jackfruit & stir it all up. Cover the mixture with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce & stir. Cook for another 5 minutes, then set aside on a plate.
  6. While the Jackfruit is cooking, grate the cheese & pour another tablespoon of enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish.
  7. Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce in the pan that cooked the Jackfruit & heat it on medium low.
  8. To assemble the enchiladas, start by dipping the tortilla into the heated enchilada sauce until it’s coated. Lay on about 2 tablespoons of the Jackfruit & top with about a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the enchilada and place it, rolled side down, in your baking dish. Keep doing this unit you are out of Jackfruit & cheese.
  9. Once all the enchiladas are rolled cover them with any remaining sauce & the remainder of the grated cheese.
  10. When you’re ready to eat the enchiladas**, bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes until cheese is melted & sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let the enchiladas cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving them up.

 

*If you are using fresh Jackfruit it would be about 3 cups, shredded.

**These enchiladas are a fantastic make-ahead dish. When you have the time, cook & assemble the enchiladas, then cover them with plastic wrap & store in the fridge until ready to bake. Remove enchiladas from the fridge about 20 minutes before baking to allow them to come to room temperature for more even cooking.

Recipes

Sunday Pot Roast

With temperatures dropping and days feeling shorter, quick & easy dinners that warm you from the inside out are a necessity. There is no dish more comforting than Pot Roast. With just a few simple steps & a slow cooker, this delicious rib sticking Pot Roast can be on your table in just a few hours.

Fall is the time to bust out the slow cooker & let it do all the hard work. Think of all the fun things you can spend your time doing instead of working on dinner! Carving pumpkins? Watching a scary movie? Finishing up those pesky chores you couldn’t get to over the weekend? Spending quality time with a loved one? The list is endless! Make yourself this Pot Roast & see what extra fun things you get to accomplish…

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Start by gathering all of your ingredients & heating 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season all sides of the meat with salt & pepper then coat the meat in flour. Once the oil is hot, brown the meat on all sides. This step is not necessary but it is definitely worth it. Browning the meat adds a really nice texture to the finished dish as well as a much deeper flavor.

While the meat is browning, prepare the vegetables. Toss the potatoes & carrots into the slow cooker with the garlic & dried thyme. Place the browned meat over the carrots & potatoes, then pour in the broth.

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Cover the slow cooker & cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 9-10 hours. About an hour before the Pot Roast is done, mix up the water & cornstarch until it becomes slightly pasty. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker & stir around. Finish cooking the Pot Roast for the last hour. When the time is up, remove the meat & either slice it up or shred it to serve. Enjoy!

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Pot Roast

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 3lbs Chuck Roast
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks (or baby fingerlings)
  • 1lb carrots, peeled & cut into 1 inch chunks (or baby carrots)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Season all sides of the meat with salt & pepper then coat the meat in flour. Once the oil is hot, brown the meat on all sides.
  3. While the meat is browning, prepare the vegetables. Toss the potatoes & carrots into the slow cooker with the garlic & dried thyme.
  4. Place the browned meat over the carrots & potatoes then pour in the broth.
  5. Cover the slow cooker & cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 9-10 hours.
  6. About an hour before the Pot Roast is done, mix up the water & cornstarch until it becomes slightly pasty. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker & stir around.
  7. Finish cooking the Pot Roast for the last hour. When the time is up, remove the meat & either slice it up or shred it to serve.
Recipes

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

When it comes to meatless Monday, I focus a lot on dinner recipes because most of the meals I cook are dinners. I like to mix things up from time to time so this week’s meatless Monday recipe is a lunch recipe. I also like to appeal to all types of diets so it’s important to incorporate vegetarian meals for every time of day!

This sandwich is quick & easy to throw together. The chickpea salad can be made in advance which makes it great for taking to work or school. This sandwich is completely customizable so you can top it with whatever veggies you have on hand!

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Start by gathering all your ingredients. Drain one can of chickpeas & put them into a shallow bowl.

Using a potato masher or fork, smash the chickpeas until they’re about 75% mashed, leaving a few still whole. Remove any large clumps of the chickpea skin that comes off while smashing the beans. Next add the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Then add the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon at a time until the salad reaches a consistency you like. I used 2 tablespoons.

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While making the salad, toast your bread. Then prep your veggies. I used mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, micro greens & avocado.

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Top your bread with the chickpea salad & veggies. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz can Chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • Bread of choice
  • Veggies of choice

Instructions:

  1. Drain one can of chickpeas & put them into a shallow bowl.
  2. Using a potato masher or fork, smash the chickpeas until they’re about 75% mashed, leaving a few still whole. Remove any large clumps of the chickpea skin that comes off while smashing the beans.
  3. Add the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon at a time until the salad reaches a consistency you like. I used 2 tablespoons.
  5. While making the salad, toast your bread & prep your veggies. I used mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, micro greens & avocado.
  6. Top your bread with the chickpea salad & veggies.
  7. Enjoy!
Recipes

Chocolate & Walnut Pumpkin Bread

As I mentioned in a previous post (Pumpkin Pancakes), pumpkin bread is something I like to make every fall. I like to try different recipes every year to keep things interesting in my kitchen. This year, as I do every year, I scoured Pinterest to find this year’s recipe. I knew I wanted to add chocolate chips because the combination of pumpkin & chocolate is truly magical. I came across Sally’s Baking Addiction & knew this was the one.

After making pumpkin pancakes last weekend, I realized that not only do pumpkin & chocolate go incredibly well together, but adding walnuts created the most delicious, deeply autumnal flavor that I was really excited about. So naturally, I threw some walnuts into the pumpkin bread.

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It’s a fairly simple recipe that uses ingredients you probably have in your pantry or fridge already! It’s a great recipe to have on hand during the holidays because it’s simple to throw together, easy to make multiple loaves & travels well to bring to all your holiday parties!

I recently started baking using my kitchen scale to measure ingredients. Most recipes these days will have two measurements to go off of. You’ll see ingredients measured in teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups. Then you’ll also see ingredients measured in grams or milliliters. I made this recipe using my scale to weigh the ingredients. Weighing your ingredients gives you a much more accurate measurement & ensures your baked goods come out perfectly every time. Start by measuring out your dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Next, you’ll measure out your wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Then add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & stir to combine using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir until just combined making sure not to over mix the bread.

The recipe doesn’t include this step, but whenever I’m adding chocolate chips or nuts of any kind to a batter, I like to mix the chocolate or nuts with a tablespoon or so of flour. Mix together to coat the chocolate & nuts in the flour before tossing them into the batter. This step ensures that the chocolate & nuts don’t sink to the bottom of whatever you’re baking. The flour helps to keep the chocolate & nuts suspended in the batter making sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the bread. I recommend doing this anytime you have chocolate chips or nuts in any baking recipe!

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Pour the batter into a greased 9X5 loaf pan & bake in a 350 degree oven for about 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, cover the bread with foil so it doesn’t get too brown. Once the bread is finished baking, set it on a wire rack (in the loaf pan) to cool completely before removing it from the pan.

I made two versions of this recipe. One with chocolate chips & walnuts (pictured above) to take to a work meeting. And a plain version (pictured below) to keep at home.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) orange juice
  • 2/3 cup (120g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

*The recipe didn’t call for nuts but I added about 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts!

For the full recipe, check out Sally’s Baking Addiction