TJ’s Tuesday Fall Favorites

Alright, so I still have not done a pumpkin post, not because I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s lately, but because there honestly isn’t as much pumpkin stuff as I remembered in the past. Sure there are a few sauces and baking mixes, but I remember years before having a million pumpkin things I was excited to try. One of these weeks I’ll muster up the energy to find five pumpkin things I’d like to try, but until then we’re going to do a few of my favorite fall items.

1. Envy Apples
Envy apples are freaking amazing. Like, they’re the best apples you’ll ever eat. They’re super crispy and taste like a more tart version of their cousin, the Gala apple. Trader Joe’s is kind of cool too because they charge you by the fruit, not by the pound, so you can just pick out the best apple of the bunch and feel like you’re getting a great deal.

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2. Cinnamon Bun Spread
Have you ever smelled a candle and wished you could eat it? If candle eating resonates with you, this jar of cinnamon might just be your thing. The texture is almost like melted wax and if I could waft the scent around my home, it would smell like fall potpourri. I’ve read quite a bit about this cinnamon bun spread before, but never tried it until a couple of days ago. When I was at TJ’s contemplating this purchase, I saw that the first ingredient is honey, which I’m all for. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m kind of glad I got it and I have a feeling I’ll crave this spread anytime I light a fall candle in my home. It should last me the entire season. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a better way of eating it than on the back of a shortbread cookie!

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3. Organic Strawberries 
Fall isn’t necessarily known to be strawberry picking season, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I smelled how fresh the strawberries were from over a foot away. These ended up being so good that I ate the entire box in two sittings — and already went back for another bundle I’ve almost finished.

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4. Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Halloween is coming up, which means it’s time to break out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Except these are even better. I sometimes get a stomachache from eating too many, so be careful how many you let yourself have because they’re addicting!

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5. Pumpkin Dog Treats
I think it was a real missed opportunity not calling these Pupkin Treats, but it is what it is. Jax and Macy both love these dog treats that are made with real pumpkin. As I was writing this I thought about how I was going to tell you that they smell just like a human pumpkin snack, and it dawned on me that I might be able to take a bite and tell you whether or not it tasted like one, too. I went to check the ingredients and here’s what I found:

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Okay, I know what wheat is and despite being gluten-free, a little won’t kill me. Pumpkin is fine, so is cane molasses. So far so good! Typical Trader Joe’s, making dog treats something good enough for humans to eat. Bravo. Canola oil is another check next to “human ingredient,” and so is ground cinnamon. I don’t know what citric acid is, but I’ve also seen it on my own nutrition labels before. What in the world is “Mixed Tocopherols?!” My laptop is recognizing it as a word, but I certainly don’t. First possibly scary ingredient, but I’m assuming it’s a pretty typical preservative (which, in anyone’s defense, can be scary in human foods too). Lastly, Rosemary extract. Something I am familiar with. Well, I guess I gotta go for it then! For the sake of the blog.

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I took a bite on my Instagram story earlier and it was totally gross. Despite smelling like a biscotti I would be happy to dip in my coffee, it tasted like crunchy, wheat flavored cardboard. I have no idea why Jax and Macy love these so much, but I see why in my 28 years on earth I’ve never had the desire to try a dog treat. I could have gone my whole life without making this weird decision.

Anyway, I know I posted a little late today, but I hope you find something new to try next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. Please don’t let my poor review of dog treats and candle flavored cinnamon goo deter you from trying something new or getting a treat for your pup while you’re out. I promise they’ll like it!


Read more about other Trader Joe’s favorites here

TG It’s The Weekend

Man, I have a bad headache. I think it’s from my neck pain. Typically when it gets bad enough it goes straight up my vertebrae to the top of my head. Ugh!

I’m currently really in the mood to write, but not really equipped to sit at my computer that long right now. I also can’t think straight because of the aforementioned headache. I figured I’d tell y’all what I’ve been working on lately, though. I’ve been doing some more deep writing lately. I’m going to be posting about anxiety, social media, and how problematic I think Hollywood has become. Please hold me accountable to this. None of it is very fun to share, but I think it’s all important and there is a reason I’ve felt pushed to write about it.

I’m also working on creating a weekly email you guys can subscribe to — so I don’t have to do random little updates like this on here anymore. I am undecided between MailChimp and Constant Contact. Any thoughts on either?

Finally, I have a few recipes and shopping trips that are begging to be posted. Sadly, my local Trader Joe’s hasn’t gone crazy with pumpkin stuff this year and I’m just not feeling most of it. I got Jax some pumpkin biscuits the other day, but I haven’t gone crazy yet. There’s still plenty of time for that though, right?

Tyrion’s Steak Dinner (Filet Mignon with Homemade Garlic Butter)

No, this is not going to be a normal recipe post like I had been getting into before. I am linking it to Game of Thrones, once again, because I just crammed so much in to such a short period of time that I’m probably going to be overly-obsessed for a little while.

Anyway, I really wanted to make a fun dinner for the night of the premiere, but I was catching up on season 7 until the very last minute, so that was an unrealistic goal. It was too late to order anything GoT related, and I’ve looked all over for the themed Oreos with no success. On Monday, though, I did make a new steak dish, and it reminded me of something the Lannister’s might have had. I cooked some filet mignon with garlic butter, roasted potatoes, and carrots. It was so easy but tasted even better than filet I’ve had in restaurants, so I figured I would share. As always, I’m not going to give amounts of what I used, but I’ll describe it well enough that you can just make everything accordingly with how much food you’d like to make.

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Garlic Butter Filet Mignon with Roasted Carrots and Potatoes
I got all of my ingredients at Trader Joe’s. You will need:
Steak filets – I like organic grassfed beef.
Butter
EVOO
Salt
Pepper
Garlic cloves
Fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme
Red potatoes
Carrots

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 415°F. I found a bunch of different temperatures to make your steak at, but settled in the middle at this. Take out the steak and butter from the fridge, and bring it to room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Step 2: Chop the carrots and red potatoes and put them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with EVOO, salt, and pepper, then stick them in the oven to begin roasting while you prepare the butter and steak.

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Step 3: Chop the rosemary and thyme finely, and mince a few cloves of garlic. Mix it all together with the butter until you’re happy with the proportions, then stick the butter back in the fridge to firm a little.

Step 4: Dry the steak with paper towels, then put a generous amount of salt and pepper on each side. Note: Apparently the smell that hits you when you open a container of raw steak is normal. I was not prepared and thought we might be getting a legit medieval experience. YIKES. 

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Step 5: Drizzle some EVOO and melt butter in a frying pan, or, preferably on a cast iron skillet. I did the frying pan because we don’t have an iron skillet to use, but plan on investing in one now!

Step 6: Sear the filets for about 3 minutes on each side, until they have browned a bit.

Step 7: Move the iron skillet to the oven, or put the steaks on foil on the cookie sheet with the veggies. I poured the excess juice over top of the steaks so they’d be nice and juicy.

Step 8: Google how long to cook your steak in the oven. I am not a professional, and I know it’s a crime, but I like my steak medium-well. I cooked it for about 6 minutes in the oven, but it will obviously depend on the thickness of your steak and your preference for how red you like it. I think a Lannister would likely just eat it after searing lightly in the pan, but Joffrey might have just gone for the raw meat.

Step 9: Take out your steak and vegetables when you’re happy with the way they look, put them on a plate, and top the steak with the garlic butter. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it all and enjoy! If you really want to feel like Tyrian, you should help yourself to a glass of red wine — or maybe three.

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Photo Credit: HBO

Crispy Pesto Salmon

One of my best friends, Nicole, called me from Trader Joe’s the other day because she knows how much of a TJ’s fan I am. She wanted to know about a few of the items there, and after chatting for awhile I decided she would probably love to try my crispy pesto salmon. It is absolutely delicious and has the perfect little crunch over a creamy basil pesto sauce. Hungry yet?

Gluten-free Crispy Pesto Crusted Salmon

Okay, so here are the ingredients:
-Wild Caught Salmon (Boneless)
-Pesto
-Mayonaise
-Lemon Juice
-Corn Flakes Crumbs
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Sweet Potatoes
-Broccoli
-Salt
-Pepper

pesto salmon ingredients

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. I almost always do 400 because it’s just easy to remember and 50° above or below 350° and 450°, so I figure it works no matter what.

Step 2: Chop up the sweet potatoes and broccoli florets and put them on a cookie sheet. I always do the veggies first so I can use the same cutting board and knife for the meat. It makes cleanup so much easier having fewer dishes! I also always use aluminum foil because it’s easier to clean off a pan this way.

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Step 3: Drizzle EVOO, salt, and pepper on the vegetables. Feel free to get crazy and add spices like cinnamon or turmeric to them if you’d like! They’re known for regulating blood sugar and helping with inflammation.

Step 4: Pat the salmon dry, and cut it into however many servings you’d like. It doesn’t matter how large or small the fillet is.

 

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I cut each of these into 3 filets.

Step 5: Put the salmon on the same pan as the veggies. You can drizzle a little EVOO on the pan before placing it there, and then cover in salt and pepper.

Step 6: Make the pesto sauce. Mix 4/5 parts pesto, 1/5 parts mayo. It doesn’t really matter how much mayonnaise you decide to use, but I always like the pesto to still have a very green color. It just looks a little more pale when you put the mayonnaise in. I should note that I hate mayo in everyday life, but it adds a good creaminess to this dish!

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Step 7: Spread as much of the sauce as you’d like on top of the salmon filets. I usually make it a little thick so there’s more flavor, but if you want it super-crispy, be more conservative with the sauce. Then, sprinkle as much of the Corn Flakes as you’d like on top of the mixture on the salmon, and put it in the oven to cook.

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Step 8: Bake until the salmon is ready (It depends on how well done you’d like it), and the vegetables begin to brown.

Step 9: While your food cooks, make the extra pesto sauce. Mix the same ratio of pesto and mayo, then add a few squeezes lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a few pinches of pepper.

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Once everything is done cooking, take it out of the oven and top with as much of the extra pesto sauce as you’d like. Robert likes it on his veggies too, but I only eat it on the salmon because I think that’s kind of weird and I like the vegetables just the way they are.


Post a comment if you decide to try this how you like it! I didn’t post a picture of the end result because 1) I was too hungry and took a few bites before I realized I probably should have gotten a pretty picture and 2) I don’t know how to make brown things look appetizing. The end of this reminded me of Thanksgiving dinner — it tastes amazing but no matter how hard you try to make your plate look good, it never in a million years will.

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.

A Scary Halloween Eve

I was supposed to watch a scary movie tomorrow, but it looks like we’ll be doing something more along the lines of Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus. A Disney movie is kind of what I need right now. You see, I had the bright idea of watching a scary movie tonight, and settled on the first one we found on demand. BIG. MISTAKE.

It ended up grabbing me in just enough to care about whether or not the girls were okay at the end of the movie, but I hated every single minute of watching it. I went under the covers, would “go to the bathroom” basically every other scene, and used my hands as shields. It was the first time I realized Kanye glasses actually make some sort of sense.

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Photo Credit: CapitalFM.com

Anyway, I am sitting at the kitchen table, wide awake, trying to laugh the fright away. I started by making some tasty ravioli while listening to a funny podcast, but that wasn’t strong enough. So I brought in the cheeriest thing I could think of: a rootbeer float.

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Normally I watch a Hilary Duff movie after a scary flick, but I am just not feeling Material Girls or A Cinderella Story tonight. I think a nice caffeine-free dessert was just what I needed to calm the jitters a little… I now know that when I am scared, I get hungry and just want to eat. Somehow I think that’s not a normal human instinct that goes along with fear, but I’m okay with masking my fear with a little ice cream and soda.

Now I am off to binge on The Office or a nice, funny episode of Nathan for You. Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday Favorites: Summer Edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve written little product reviews, so I figured it was about time I did a post about some of my favorite things for summertime. Since I have POTS and really need to focus on health and hydration, this is going to be all about healthy living this summer. Let me know in the comments if you have a great recommendation of things for me to try while it’s still hot out!


1. nuun Tablets

nuun tablets are my favorite thing to keep me hydrated when it’s hot out — and really throughout the year. I have a terribly off electrolyte and sodium balance in my body, so these little tablets are perfect to put in my Smart Water to keep me feeling good. My favorite flavor is watermelon, but I also like the lemon lime or strawberry lemonade nuuns!

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2. Mission Towel

My mission towel has kept me from fainting a good handful of times. My body overheats really easily, which causes my heart to race and blood pressure to drop way too dramatically. This is a huge nuisance, so anytime I go someplace outdoors I take my towel in my purse and just add water to activate the cooling cloth. I put it on my neck to lower my body temperature, and it really does work wonders. I think even just normal people who hate the heat or athletes would really benefit from having one of these!

3. Cotton Candy Grapes

CC grapes are literally my favorite summer snack. I could eat an entire box of these in one sitting if they weren’t so filling! (Note: I’ve never known grapes to be a filling food, which just shows how much I must eat at snacktime.) Please, if you’ve never tried these, go to the store and get them before they’re out of season. They aren’t genetically modified; I don’t know how they get the grapes to taste like this, but it’s wild!

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4. Rodan + Fields Foaming Sunless Tan

The products that initially drew me to Rodan + Fields were the Unblemish regimen and the Lash Boost, but I quickly discovered that their sunless tanner is incredible. I’ve never been someone who likes to sit out in the sun, but I love the way my skin looks with a nice brown glow. I had trouble finding a self tanner that wouldn’t streak or make my skin look orange (I’m looking at you, Tan Towel!), but somehow the foam makes it a lot easier to get full coverage and make the bottle last well into the summer. It was funny the first time I tried it because it was right after my beach trip, and Robert told me my tan looked really nice. I proceeded to lecture him about how I don’t get a really dark real tan, since I am careful to keep my skin protected from UV rays.

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5.Greek Yogurt

But not just any Greek yogurt — Maple Hill Creamery Greek yogurt! The cows are 100% grass-fed, and appear to live a pretty good life in their family-owned farms in New York. I am all about treating animals well, plus this yogurt is easily the best I’ve ever had. I got on the Greek yogurt bandwagon pretty early on, back when I was in high school and it was just becoming a popular thing. I’ve tried a lot of different types, and this is by far my favorite.

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BONUS: Root Beer Floats

This was the float that started it all. I went to a Bachelorette party last month and one of the bars we ended up at had root beer floats. While everyone else got a nice glass of wine, I decided to go ahead and treat myself to an ice cold float. I’m not much of a soda drinker (And I know I promised this post would be healthy — which is why this is a bonus item!), but this is easily my new favorite splurge.

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