Tag Archive | Trader Joe’s

Cooking With Gail Presents: Amira Smoked Basmati Rice!

Amira Smoked Basmati Rice
All Photos By Gail

Do you like Rice? I sure do. I especially love fragrant, long grain  Basmati Rice from India. India! Seriously, it is the most delicious rice. Maybe you have shied away from making Basmati Rice in your home due to the additional required preparatory steps — such as rinsing, and then soaking the rice prior to cooking  — which can seem a bit daunting if you are used to the no fuss approach of throwing rice in a pan with some water, bringing it to a boil, and then forgetting about it for 40 minutes, which is a no-brainer.  I understand how you feel.

Amira Smoked Basmati Rice

But when you break it down, Basmati Rice preparation and cooking time takes maybe 10 minutes longer than traditional rice, so it can hardly be argued that it is a vastly longer or more labor intensive process. It just takes a little getting used to. I was recently sent a package of Amira brand Smoked Basmati Rice and I had fun making it and taking pictures of the process so you can see  that you don’t need to be scared to try something new. Come along and let’s have a little culinary adventure, shall we?

Basmati Rice Prep

Besides a spoon and a pan to cook it in, you will need a measuring cup and colander or strainer. Measure the rice (a general guideline is one part rice to two parts water, but the exact directions are printed on the bag so zero guesswork is involved) and pour it into the strainer. Next, run the rice under cold water from the tap for a minute or so, shaking it slightly to expose all grains, which will remove the excess starch.

Soaking Rice

That was fun, right? It gets better. Now transfer the rinsed rice to the pan and cover with water. Set a kitchen timer, or keep an eye on the clock, for 25 to 30 minutes while the rice soaks. You can either do prep on other parts of the meal during this time, or watch TV or play Words With Friends, which is something I enjoy doing.

Basmati Rice is a long grain rice by nature, but there is a very noticeable quality difference with Amira’s Premium Rice, which is extra long grain.  Amira smoked basmati rice is an all natural extra long grain rice, which is smoked in the ancient Persian tradition, resulting in an aromatic, smoky rice.

Once the rice is done soaking, drain it, and then add it back the pan with two cups of fresh water, bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook for ten minutes. While the rice cooks, your kitchen may smell like you are baking a ham, but don’t be alarmed. After ten minutes, turn the heat off, move the pan to a cool burner and let it rest for ten more minutes. When you remove the lid, the rice will look something like this:

Amira Cooked Rice

Oh my, isn’t that beautiful! You can’t really tell from this photo, but the rice grains are so long that you may even freak out a little. It is really quite extraordinary.

Meal on a Tray

Here is a photo of my delicious and super easy-to-prepare single ladies dinner of two Trader Joe’s Masala vegetarian burger patties and huge pile of fluffy Smoked Basmati Rice, seasoned with little salt and some butter, because I love butter on my rice. What I discovered is that, after cooking, the smoke essence remains more in the fragrance than the actual flavor of the rice. So you do not need to be afraid that the rice will have a harsh, overly smoky, or meaty taste. It will just taste like delicious rice. Find out more about the Amira brand at Amira Dot Net.

Amira Rice Serving Suggestion

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Cooking with Gail Presents: Easy Tofu Stir Fry!

Nasoya Organic Tofu

Hello and welcome to another installment of Cooking with Gail: the series that is all about me making a meal from whatever I can find in my house. In this episode, I made the most delicious Tofu Stir Fry using Nasoya brand Tofu Plus, which is a fantastic, cholesterol-free meat substitute, even if you are not vegan or vegetarian! Nasoya Tofu Plus is organic non-GMO and vitamin fortified, so you know it’s a healthy choice.

Nasoya Organic Tofu Diced

Some of you out there might be a little afraid of Tofu, because it seems exotic and foreign, but really you can use it just like you would use most proteins – and it is so easy to prepare, because unlike meat, there is no skinning or deboning involved. All you have to do is slice it and throw it in the pan. One container of Nasoya Tofu will serve two to four people, depending on how you are preparing it. I used half the container so I could make enough stir fry to two meals.

Storing Nasoya Organic Tofu

Tofu Storage Hint: If you do not use all of the tofu for one meal, Nasoya recommends that you refrigerate it in an airtight container and be sure to cover it with water (see above photo). You’ll want to change the water daily (it’s like having a pet, in that way) and be sure to cook it within five days after initially opening! Unopened tofu will stay fresh for months and it can also be frozen.

Tofu will absorb the flavor of any sauce it is cooked with, which makes it great for Asian or Indian dishes or as a ground beef substitute in pasta sauce. All you need to have on hand to make Stir Fry is noodles or rice of your choosing (I used Trader Joe’s Brown Basmati Rice, which is my favorite) and some vegetables, such as frozen broccoli. Stir fry is also a great way to use any leftover vegetables from a previous meal.

Stir Fry on the Stove

After sautéing the chopped tofu over medium heat with some margarine and soy sauce, I added the steamed broccoli and then the cooked rice. Then I added a bit more sauce and stirred a few times to mix and let the flavors meld for a few minutes. This Broccoli and Brown Rice with Tofu Stir Fry was so healthy and delicious that I was overjoyed to have made enough food for another dinner the next day (when I jazzed it up by adding some chopped onion and an egg)!

Find out where to buy Nasoya Tofu and get amazing Tofu Recipes at Nasoya Dot Com.

Fall Food Fete Entices with a Preview of Seasonal Delciousness!

Food Fete Welcome Sign
All Photos By Gail

Nothing gets us excited for new seasonal packaged foods and gourmet takes on fresh favorites quite like Food Fete! The Fall edition of Food Fete took place on November 7th, with lots of ideas for holiday entertaining and many new products on preview from some of our favorite vendors — plus a great chance to network with other bloggers and sample lots of tasty treats! Here are a few of the exhibitors that caught our eye this time around.

Apple Cider and Pomegranate Martinis

A festive Martini Bar sponsored by Zulka Pure Cane Sugar got the party started right away. We made sure to sample both the Apple Cider and Pomegranate Martinis, whose sugared rims sparkled with a sprinkling of Zulka. We had to note that Zulka glittered like diamond dust as it adorned the frosting atop luscious brownies, alongside tiny cakes and fresh baked cookies, also provided by Zulka.

Zulka Display

Since Zulka‘s “Morena” pure cane sugar does not undergo a conventional refining process, it retains the complexity and depth of flavor that’s as close to fresh sugar cane as possible. Why not pick up a box for use in your next recipe that calls for sugar?

Bare Apple Chips

Shortly after entering the event space we spotted Bare Fruit Apple Chips. This delicious natural fruit snack is made from 100% baked Washington Apples with no added preservatives or sugars (and, of course, it’s Gluten Free). We took home a couple of bags to sample and have really enjoyed the Sea Salt Caramel variety, which is a new flavor along with the Chile Lime offering. Crunchy, Sweet and Healthy Snacking!

Anna's Breads

Mmm, fresh baked bread, – we love it! A lot of people, unfortunately, have a gluten intolerance and many exhibitors at Food Fete took this challenge in hand. The holidays are a time when baking for the family, as well as for gift giving, is a very popular idea. From Anna offers Gluten and Allergen Free bread mixes that taste as sweet and moist as your favorite recipes from Mom. From Anna‘s line of products let you treat yourself and your family while including those with dietary exclusions. Their Banana Bread mix is a must-try and so easy to make!

Luces Gluten Free Artisan Bread

Luces Gluten Free Artisan Bread was also exhibiting and had many flavors of their fresh baked breads to share, including their new Italian loaf, which bakes into a rich white bread with cracker-thin crust and a very open crumb. Is your mouth watering yet? Luces bread mixes contain all the dry ingredients you need to make a loaf of fresh baked bread in every package, including a bag to bake it in! The best part: no kneading or rising time is required. You have to try this bread!

Divine Chocolate

Chocolate is a big item at the holidays and Divine Chocolate offers exotic flavored Chocolate bars such as White Chocolate with Strawberries, Milk Chocolate with Crushed Ginger Snaps (tastes like Christmas!) and Dark Chocolate with Ginger and Orange among many others! Not only are their products unique and tasty but Divine is the only fair-trade chocolate company which is owned by its cocoa farmers. While Fair-trade ensures farmers receive a better deal for their cocoa and additional income to invest in their community, company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry. That’s awesome!

American Pistachio Growers

Nuts and nut products were also featured prominently at the show, including one of our very favorite snacks, Pistachios. American Pistachio Growers hosted a very inviting booth with facts about Pistachios, samples to give away and the most delicious Avocado Pistachio Guacamole dip (which they called Pistachio Mole). We got the recipe for future concocting at home!

Pistachio and Avocado Dip
Oh Man, This Stuff was Good!

Sante Nuts

We also fell in love with Sante Nuts, a company founded by a single mom who had to think creatively when she she needed an income stream to support her family. Sante Nuts come in nine sweet and savory varieties and are made in small batches to ensure freshness. Sante’s candied Pistachios, which are actually only slightly candied, so you can still taste all the flavor of the nut, are out of this world.

OPA By Litehouse

OPA is a brand of delicious, made fresh Greek style yogurt dressings from Litehouse Foods that not only makes salad eating fun, but it also makes excellent dips. Gluten free and lower in fat and calories than the standard bottled dressing, OPA sacrifices nothing in the taste arena to bring you a healthier product. Available in Blue Cheese, Ranch, Caesar and Feta Dill flavors, OPA by Litehouse can be found in the refrigerated produce department at grocery retailers nationwide.

Chicken of the Sea Display

We love their Tuna, but we had no idea that Chicken of the Sea made all of these different types of packaged seafood products. Due to celebrate the company’s Centennial in 2014, Chicken of the Sea showcased two brand new items at Food Fete, including its Kipper Snacks — naturally smoked, wild-caught herring fillets that are a traditional European snack — and their Genova Quad Pack, featuring four cans of all-natural Genova Select Yellowfin Tuna packed in the Mediterranean tradition of olive oil.

Panera Bread Salads

We were also surprised to learn that Panera Bread, one of the healthier quick food chains around, is now offering healthy and delicious salads (although we were told that these salads have actually been available as an off-menu item for some time – who knew?). We will have to check that out next time we pass by a Panera Bread at Lunchtime, because these salads were tasty!

Aldi Markets

If you have an Aldi Market in your neighborhood then consider yourself very lucky, because their foods are awesome! Similar to a Trader Joe’s, Aldi features all its own house brands and offers everything you need to make your holiday party – or everyday life – simply spectacular! Not to mention, but you can see we are about to, the fact that they have very reasonable prices! Visit Aldi Dot US to find out more about Aldi and to see if they have a location near you!

Seasonal Milanos

Pepperidge Farm introduce three new seasonal flavors of their popular Milano Cookies: Candy Cane (Available since October), Dulce De Leche and Lemon Chocolate (both in stores starting in February 2014). They are also offering a Gingerbread variety of their Swirl Bread now through January 2014. That probably tastes amazing toasted!

Nosa Yogurt

Do you see how the little paper spoons all have smiley faces on them? That is because they are serving Noosa Yoghurt, which is so delicious, it is just insane. We sampled both the Cherry and Lemon flavors at Food Fete and gosh darn if this isn’t the Best Yogurt we have tasted, possibly ever. Everyone at Food Fete couldn’t shut up about it. We are going to attempt to get samples of Noosa Yoghurt delivered directly to Worley Gig headquarters so that we can review it more thoroughly. Because, insane.

Nasoya Tofu Plus

And to wrap up this wrap up, we want to give a shout out to Nasoya, who showcased their Tofu Plus and Asian Style Wraps (wraps, get it?) by serving healthy and super yummy Tofu Tacos and scrumptious home baked Cinnamon Apple Turnovers, respectively, in their booth. Find out more about Nasoya products and get recipe ideas at This Link!

Thanks as always to Jeff Davis for making the magic happen!

The Milk in the Refrigerator Has Gone Lumpy and Other Things that Make Me Sad

sour-milk

Always Remember to Do a Preliminary Test Sniff Before Pouring in Coffee or on Cereal
(Image Source)

Earlier this morning, I visited the shared refrigerator in our office pantry with the intention of pouring lowfat milk onto my bowl of Peanut Butter Puffins cereal (from Trader Joe’s), so that I could enjoy a tasty and satisfying breakfast at my desk. Sadly, this was not to be, for the milk (poured from a carton which was nearly full) had gone sour and thus rendered my very delicious cereal completely inedible.  And though I was able to purchase a reasonably acceptable “replacement breakfast” from our cafeteria (a pecan Danish, three link sausages and several scoops of egg frittata product) it was just not the same as the sweet and crunchy Puffins which I love so well. Sadness.

Another thing that’s making me sad is the knowledge that today is our last day at the office to enjoy wanton access to FaceBook, Twitter and other Social Networking sites before a full-on block of all their URLs goes into effect on July 1. This is a ridiculously huge deal, as everybody here is pretty much addicted to keeping FaceBook open on your desktop all day long while still managing to do all your work. I hope I can live without the ability to send virtual cocktails, exotic fish and plants with human faces to all my friends between the hours of 7:30 AM and 6:00 PM. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

Trader Joe's: Another Reason to Love The Germans

TraderFloes.gif
This is Not the Trader Joe’s on 14th Street, But Use Your Imagination

Three things changed my life in 2006, as follows

1. Getting a full time job with benefits and paid vacations. Yowsa!
2. Writing a Pop Culture Blog that rocks. Woo Hoo!
3. Trader Joe’s Market opening on 14th Street here in NYC, where I live. Thank You Jesus!

If you have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, and you have a brain in your head, then I do not need to tell you how much Trader Joe’s rules the Universe. Even though the lines are beyond insane, it is so worth waiting/wading through to own delicous treats like chocolate covered frozen bananas, chicken apple sausage, and wild mushroom risotto.

traderjoes2.jpg
This is the Actual Aisle Where I Buy My Cereal!

Every time I return home from a TJ’s shopping extravaganza and unload bags of goodness into my freezer and kitchen pantry, I get down on my knees and thank god that the food fairies put such an awesomely fantastic place to buy groceries so close to my house. And here’s something that I bet you did not even know: Trader Joe’s is owned by The Germans! And so it with eternal gratitude that I say “meine deutschen Freunde für das Holen des Trader Joes zur 14. Straße danke!