Trader Joe’s

Happy President’s Day

It is true, I am someone who strikes up conversation with strangers in the check-out line at the grocery store (no, I am not limited to just check-out lines, either). I met a lovely young mom who was buying a four huge jars of gorgeous looking cherries at Trader Joe’s. I had to know what she was making with them (although it looked like eating them out of the jar might be just fine, too).

Her name is Anya and she kindly shared her family tradition of making Cherry Crisp for President’s Day. What a lovely tradition and a wonderful recipe! Thanks, Anya!

Trader Joe's Morello Cherries, Image by arstechnica.com

Enjoy and Happy President’s Day!

Cherry Crisp for President’s Day

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. flour
4 jars Trader Joes dark cherries, drained
1 c. dried tart cherries (can also get from TJs)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Whipping Cream, sugar and vanilla
Preheat at the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish..
To make the topping, mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour together with a fork.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.
To make the filling, stir together the drained and dried cherries, sugar, flour, and salt.  Place in the baking dish and crumble topping on top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, then let cool in the dish for 20 minutes
Serve warm or cold with whipped cream on top.

Really Easy Last Minute Gifts (that don’t look like it) – Day 12 and best cookies on the planet

You are stuck for some last minute gifts and your present cabinet is looking pretty bare. What do you do? Bake. Really there are some really nice simple (and quick) recipes. Grab some sweet paper or containers at Target, The Paper Source, Christmas Tree Shops…where ever you can find it.

I head over to Martha Stewart or to Smitten Kitchen or The Whisk Kid for fail-proof recipes. I also like to give tea with my cookies – you can keep it casual but nice, too.

Recently I got distracted and instead of writing made-over my linen closet the Martha way and put together a car caddy – yes, a car caddy. Then in a very un-Martha-like way, the water I had in my caddy leaked all over my carefully prepared perfect tote. Yes, I dried it all out and re-assembled it and it is a little less precious now. Sort of like me.

Here are some of my favorites from Martha, and yes, if it is okay to mention this… she follows me on Twitter! Yes, she does! I was so thrilled when I found out (I told only about sixty million people but was afraid that if I wrote about it she may unfollow me and what then? Sigh, I will have a Martha-less Twitter-stream) and she tweets herself in case you don’t easy candy recipes and stocking stuffers from Martha Stewart on capability mom think so – go here…@MarthaStewart on Twitter. Why does Martha Stewart care what I tweet? Maybe she doesn’t but I wrote about The Whisk Kid who she had on her Color Show last year (of course, Martha probably found her first but I wrote about her first – whee!) Martha should stay tuned for my sister’s handmade wrapping paper – Yes, where is that paper, K?

Candy Recipes from Martha Stewart

Here are paper cones with gingerbread caramels (For an unMartha-like cheat: you can make the cones – any paper will do – and put in store bought sweets). Honestly, none of the recipes are hard. Peppermint bark is a three ingredient sweet that even the busiest mom or most nervous baker (no baking – just melting and cooling required!)

We all know a real-life Martha – you know, the one who is always put together and who hosts a cookie swap effortlessly while also chairing the PTO fundraiser and bakes dreamy home-made confections that make you weep, or, at the very least, not want to share what she bakes? No? You always share? That’s nice…Well, we all have our Martha moments but some have it more than others.

A friend, who we will call KB (she was a ballet dancer and is lovely, graceful, willow-y and she bakes like a dream) gave me this recipe after the following exchange was repeated to her (laughingly, by me).

Me to then 7 year old daughter, “Honey, Let’s go bake cookies together because your mom makes the best cookies on the planet”

7 year old daughter to me, having just recently tasted the cookies from the recipe below, said quite seriously, “No, Mom, KB makes the best cookies on the planet.”

Here you go – You will thank me later!

KB’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies heretofore known as The Best Cookies on the Planet

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz, bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
Photo Credit - David Lebovitz
Photo Credit - David Lebovitz

Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth (you can also put in glass microwave safe bowl and start with one minute in the microwave – increase time by 30 seconds intervals until melted). Remove from over water, cool to lukewarm.

Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla in large bowl until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. (Note: Start beating eggs AFTER chocolate is melted because it takes about 16-20 minutes for chocolate to cool to lukewarm). Fold in melted chocolate. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions.

Chill dough until firm enough to scoop, about one hour. Can be made one day ahead. cover, chill.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets. Shape dough by scant 2 tablespoonfuls into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops crack and cookies are just firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

I have loved working with Pragmatic Mom on these posts – go see her last minute gift ideas here. Her make your own labels are as beautiful and easy to do as promised! Incredible! She is always fun and has great ideas, in fact, it was her idea to do this together which is really a Christmas present to me because she has a ton of daily readers and she shared my stuff with them – so nice – in real life and in virtual world. Thank, Pragmatic Mom – I look forward to more co-posting (like co-hosting but better) with you again soon!

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Pragmatic Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

Dec 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

Dec 10: Dog/Cat

Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts: Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags


Last Minute Gifts – Lest Panic Set in – Day 11

Has it happened to you? You forgot about the hostess gift and it is T minus 30 minutes (or whatever countdown/military thing goes here – you know what I mean). Anyway, you are late and frazzled and uninspired and have only time to go to the nearest supermarket. Not to worry!

Almost any supermarket will do – I went to Whole Foods (super score), Roche Brothers and Trader Joe’s – They have gift things year round anyway but even more now. Flowers, plants, greenery, a given. How about a cinnamon broom? The one pictured is from Trader Joe’s but Whole Foods has them, too. You can decorate it on the fly if you have ribbon and an ornament in your car (don’t laugh, sometimes I do).

There were packages of candy (chocolate covered graham crackers, nonpareils – on sale) in Whole Foods that would be great poured into a mug from the kitchen section (you can do this while you are running down the aisle to the checkout, I tried). Add to it package of drinkable chocolate and marshmallows or some divine coffee or tea. Great housewares in Whole Foods in general and also at Roche Brothers which has a nice Stonewall Kitchen section (I almost bought myself a brightly colored bowl, some sweet wooden spoons and pretty dishcloths but then I calmed down and didn’t. Sometimes, I do buy myself gifts like my new Smartwool socks. Sometimes I use my secret cache of gifts for last minute gifts…shhh).

Anyway, it’s also pretty easy to put together a gift basket at any of these markets – they even have baskets. Something edible is always a welcome gift. What to choose? A case of clementines, some pomegranates, some nice cheese and bread, a jug of cider (or wine if your store carries it) and some mulling spices (either sold pre-packaged or head over to the bulk section and mix your own). Don’t forget the health and beauty aisle and my local store even has toys (my standby gift for kids is Melissa and Doug’s triangle crayons and a notepad) and they have CDs and plants (great rosemary trees)

Here are some tips from the Whole Foods blog on greening your holidays.

  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small whole nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice
  • Grated peel of one whole orange

Chip the cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice with a hammer. Place with other ingredients in a storage container. To use, place two tablespoons of mixture in a small muslin bag and add to four cups of beverage. Simmer. This recipe makes one and one half cups of mulling spice.

Variations

Mulling Spice with Cardamom

This is a slightly different mulling spices recipe, with the addition of cardamom seeds. The cardamom adds a warm, faintly citrus taste to the mulled beverage.capability mom finds mulling spices on lovetoknow

  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind
  • 12 whole cinnamon sticks

Combine first four ingredients. Put two teaspoons of the mixture into a small muslin bag and tie two or three cinnamon sticks to the top. Simmer in four cups of beverage. This makes a beautiful gift. Go to Pragmatic Mom’s site to see what great gifts she found at the gourmet market. She has exceptional taste and I am so looking forward to seeing what goodies she comes up with.

The 12 Days of Shopping

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

Dec 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

Dec 10: Dog/Cat

Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts: Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags


The Joos Cleanse – Day 3 and 4

Well, Day 3 started at an obscenely early hour as I readied for a field trip with a 5:45 am drop off time. I also did not sleep well…Anyway – despite being in dire need of caffeine, I tried the suggested hot water with lemon (instead of my usual tea) and half an hour late had my first Joos™.  This was followed by a bowl of  dry Barbara’s Oat cereal and a banana.

I had a fairly substantial headache all morning (the Joos™ literature mentioned that caffeine withdrawal may cause headaches so I was somewhat prepared) but then a kind  friend suggested I cave on the caffeine and made me a cup of black tea and soon I  felt tremendously better. Not ready to go cold turkey, I guess.

Joos™ around two p.m. and some snack items – hummus – crackers and veggies. Delish. For dinner I had brown rice pasta and a simple red sauce – very good. The Joos™ booklet has great recipes but I am – so far – just going with prepared veggie stuff from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and it has all been wonderful.

I felt great with good energy until late in the day despite the early wake up and I slept really well –  for a change!

Day 4 is a breeze. Maybe it is mental, maybe because I do start the day with tea (with soy milk as a treat, I know, I know, living the dream).  I have some dry cereal and watermelon for breakfast and am off for the day. I turn down an offer to go for a frozen yogurt without a twinge of regret. I have Joos™ with me and drink it over the course of the morning, Lunch is golden beet salad with celery and onions from Whole Foods which is surprisingly delicious. I tried on dresses today and felt slimmer (whether I am or not is up for debate). I do also feel lighter and clearer today, still glad for the am cup of tea but not discounting that it is what is in the Joos™.

Dinner will be a red quinoa salad and more delicious beets and a veggie mix. I am making burgers for the family and may or may not have one (they are small, sliders actually) and look great. This may be in gross violation of the cleanse, do you think?  Today is easier because I am casually incorporating it into my day instead of it being the focus. I am making healthy choices and totally discounting the usual suspects of consumption…now don’t get all jealous on me but I did get some kickin’ looking vegan cookies at the market…dare to dream.Joos brochure and bottle with veggie

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