TJ’s Tuesday feat Cotton Candy Grapes

Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve been going since I was a kid, and I think just about every single one of my friends in college was forced to try one thing or another from this divine grocery store.

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I text friends on a pretty regular basis what all of my new Joe’s finds are, so I figured I might as well make a weekly blog post about it. This week we’re in for a real treat too, because they happened to have my favorite fruit in the entire world. You guessed it:

1. Cotton Candy Grapes
I tell everyone about CC grapes. They literally taste exactly like what you would get at the circus or the fair, but aren’t unhealthy! The coolest thing is that they are still organic, despite being some sort of weird hybrid grape. I eat them by the pound, and hope they’ll still be around in a week or two so I can get another giant box.

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Protip: Freeze them for an extra special summer treat!

2. Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds
That name is a mouthful, and you’ll definitely want to take one of these dark chocolate almonds once you try them. I got hooked on these when I was in college, and they were a great breakthrough to how amazing dark chocolate can be. Even my husband — who hates dark chocolate — eats these by the fistful. They have a perfect sweet and salty mix, and are wildly addicting.

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3. Movie Theater Butter Popcorn
Speaking of college, you could always find me studying with a snack, particularly the perfectly buttered bagged popcorn from Trader Joe’s. It’s almost as good as the real thing, and is way too easy to eat an entire bag in a sitting. I still always keep a bag or two in our pantry because my chocolate lab, Jax, and I enjoy splitting it while watching Big Brother or a goofy Hallmark movie.

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4. Sparkling Watermelon Juice
PLEASE make this a staple, TJ’s!! It breaks my heart that this is a seasonal item because I would like to have these year-round. There came a point where I stocked up on 6 boxes of juice, but sadly I am down to one can now. Hoping they’ll bring it back soon, but if not I’ll be stocking up a lot better next season so they’ll last me at least a few months.

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5. Vitamin E Oil
This is a very recent discovery, but I’m already obsessed with it. You can get this serum for about $5, and it’s amazing to create hydrated and smooth legs after shaving. It felt really great and I would never use it on my face, but it’s really nice for a little extra body shimmer. Just be careful about how much you put on, because it becomes a little greasy quickly.

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Well, that’s all for now, friends. Next week I’ll be posting five new pumpkin things to try at Trader Joe’s, in honor of them bringing out their fall collection. Last year I bought a bunch of pumpkin pancake mix at the end of the season so we could enjoy them year-round. You never know when seasonal items at TJ’s might sell out, so it’s always good to stock up when you can.

Krista’s Kitchen: Coconut Curry Chicken

I took a survey on my Instagram last week, and found a lot of people were interested in having me write about what I cook. Let me begin with this: I am not a chef, and before Robert and I got married we joked about how he would be doing all the cooking since I couldn’t even make simple grilled chicken without completely burning it. Like, I would char it completely to make sure it was cooked thoroughly. Now, though, I am all about creating recipes that are super easy, healthy, and tasty. I think cooking is fun, and I am surprisingly capable after learning more about different ingredients. I want to make recipes that literally anyone can do, and without all the work of measuring out ingredients and being hassled with following something exactly.

Today, I want to share my newest creation that I can actually take 100% credit for! I made it last night with some ingredients I picked out from the store, and I was actually anticipating to get a major fail blog post out of it. My coconut curry chicken is now Robert’s favorite dish I’ve ever made, though, and he said he gives it a 9.8 out of 10, which is the closest to perfect he’ll ever get. He said this was comparing it to restaurants and every kind of food he’s ever had. I asked if he’s ever had a dish that’s a 10 before, and he said no. Not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty proud that this was ranked as one of the best foods in his book!

Okay so it’s really easy to make, but before getting started I want to preface this post with something. I cook by eyeballing everything. I compare this to playing music by ear; you don’t need to have measuring cups or any sort of help reading exact numbers for my recipes. I’ll explain how I make everything based on ratios or describing how much flavor you want in a recipe. This, in my opinion, makes things a lot easier and more customizable from person to person. I typically make enough food for 2, so just add more however much you think you need when cooking for a bigger party. Here goes nothing!

Coconut Curry Chicken

Krista’s Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients: 
Chicken Breast
Ground Turmeric
Curry Powder
Chili Powder
Chopped Garlic Cloves
Lime Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Jasmine Rice
Coconut Milk
Carrots
Butter
Ground Cinnamon

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F.

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No, I don’t believe in measuring cups, but this was a good one to display the rice in.

Step 2: make the coconut rice.

Coconut rice is one of my favorite things and is so easy to make! Literally all you do is dump the coconut milk (I love the organic coco milk from Trader Joe’s) into a pot on the stove, cover, and heat until it begins to boil.

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Just a heads-up, if you get the milk with a normal amount of fat in it, it might be partially solid. The first time I made this I threw out the milk because I thought it went bad since it was solid, but it’s supposed to be like this! It will melt into a liquid once it begins to boil.

Once the coconut milk is boiling, add a pinch of salt, and dump in about 3/4 the amount of rice as there was liquid. An easy way to do this is just measure it in the empty coconut milk can.

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Once you pour the rice in the pot, re-cover it, turn the heat to “medium low,” and cook without stirring until the rice is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.

Now, let’s move on to the main dish while the rice cooks!

Step 3: Put the seasoning together.

Seasoning chicken is surprisingly easy. The only things I used were turmeric, curry, garlic, lime juice (sorry I put a photo with a lemon, but I changed my mind at the last minute and am not professional enough to retake the photo. Plus, using a lemon instead will not kill you, and is a fine substitute I’m sure), salt, and pepper.

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Start by putting three shakes of chili powder into a mixing bowl. Then, put in a very generous amount of curry powder. After all, the dish is called “chicken curry,” so we need this flavor to really stand out! Add about half the amount of ground turmeric as there is curry in the bowl. I just eyeballed all of this to be more than enough to season the chicken breast with, that way I didn’t have to make up a mixture again or have a naked chicken.

Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, then stir in enough EVOO to turn the mixture into a little bit of a liquid, but still smell primarily like curry. If it smells too much like EVOO, add more curry and turmeric until the marinade smells like seasoning again. Squirt in as much lime (or lemon) juice as you think seems good. I used one of those premade lime juices that you keep in the fridge, and put in about 6 drops. Chop up a few garlic cloves and toss them in there, too. I really roughly chopped it, which is why you can clearly see chunks of garlic on my finished product. I bet you thought those were peanuts or some sort of fancy topping. Nope, just good ol’ garlic!

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Step 4: Prepare the chicken.

I always start off by patting the chicken breast dry with paper towels, and placing it on a cutting board. As I mentioned before, I don’t know a lot about cooking, so I probably hack off a little too much of the chicken. Are those white things veins that need to be gone, or fat that is chewy and gross? Or is it just part of the chicken breast? Regardless, the shape of my chicken sometimes isn’t very pretty because of my lack of knowledge.

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The chicken before I did a lot of unnecessary chopping
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Chicken after I got rid of the suspicious white stuff

Then, cover both sides with salt and pepper. This is a step I only take because I have watched enough of The Food Network to know that it’s an incredibly professional move.

After that, throw the chicken into the sauce and cover it completely. I mixed all the chicken around a ton so it would be evenly coated. Put it on a baking sheet and cook until the chicken is white throughout. You can Google “How long do you bake chicken?” to find more answers on food safety and such. I don’t want to be responsible for any food poisoning, and honestly I just cook it until it seems ready, then cut into it to be sure that it is no longer pink.

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Step 5: While the chicken is cooking, you can take care of the carrots. These are literally the easiest thing to make of all time.

Start by chopping up as many carrots as you’d like. I did four for two people, but they were enormous since they weren’t organic and were likely genetically modified. I don’t typically go this route, but the organic bag was way too big and heavy for me to carry, so here we are with these four foot long vegetables.

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Then, let some butter melt in a saucepan. Once again, put in as much as you’d like depending on how fattening you’d like this meal to be. You could also use EVOO or some other ingredient to sauté. I don’t think it really matters.

Toss a bunch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt on the carrots. I love cinnamon, so I don’t think you can really have too much of it.

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Cook until soft, stirring on occasion. It takes maybe like, 5-7 minutes?

Step 6: Cook everything until it’s all done, then put it all together on a plate. I don’t really know how else to end this, but I think you are capable enough to finish dinner on your own. I certainly have no idea what I’m doing and was able to execute it alright.

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I’d give this recipe an 8/10. I really liked it and am craving it again now that I’m writing about it and looking at all the photos. Minus the ones of the raw chicken — raw meat really grosses me out, which made me almost decide to not include those photos. I think they were necessary to break up the steps and make this an easy read, though.

Please let me know what you think of this if you decide to make it, and if you’d like to see more of this! Since I love to cook now I might be doing a few recipes each month, rather than a million Instagram stories that will disappear.