Trader Joe’s goodies, part… something

Right about now, my mom is wondering if I shop anywhere besides Trader Joe’s. She’s also probably getting ready to see if she should rush out to her Trader Joe’s to pick up some new finds. I think I may have a problem. Has anyone started a Trader Joe’s Anonymous group yet? “Hi, my name is Leanne and I’m addicted to Trader Joe’s shopping.”

I was reading Chowhound (yes, again) and there was a thread on boxed mac ‘n cheese, the emphasis on “boxed”. “Foodies” like to turn their nose up at any form of mac ‘n cheese that involves powder or a squeeze pack of goo.

okay, total side note here, but am I the only one who feels like sometimes people post on Chowhound just for praise? Like a kid who doesn’t get enough attention so they go to the one place that will get all giddy for doing normal things like flushing the toilet? I mean, I’ve been reading posts where someone comes out and says that they tasted foie gras for the first time and absolutely love it and they were thrilled when their dining partner didn’t because that meant they got to eat twice as much. And then everyone comes out to say “Congratulations!” and how a whole new world of food has been opened up to them and it’s so sad their dining partner doesn’t appreciate the fine tastes of foie gras and blah blah blah. Yeah, maybe it’s just me.

Uh, where was I? Oh, yeah, snubbing the neon orange cheesy noodles. I actually prefer Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese to any other (except the crab mac ‘n cheese at Chive, that was pretty good) because when I crave it, that’s what I crave. Not some four cheese, needs-salt, light orange pasta dish. I want the neon color, the high sodium flavor, and the light coating of cheese-like product. Personally, I’m not a fan of the Deluxe version, but I think if you grew up with that, that’s the one you’d crave, too. If I want a “real” creamy pasta dish, I’ll order something Alfredo.

Second side note: right now my mom is also wondering why I enjoy a $1 box of mac ‘n cheese but turn my nose up at a $30 brunch because it doesn’t include lobster tails and caviar and I have to settle for crowds and cold crab claws, which is true and also sad because said caviar-brunch now costs $75 a person, which is just ridiculously expensive and even I can’t justify going back. Even if it is my parents’ money.

My point is, the thread ended up praising the cheesy goodness of Trader Joe’s frozen mac ‘n cheese that comes in a box labeled “Joe’s Diner”. Of course, I had to go test this out. The box has 2 servings; 1 serving has nearly 400 calories and a quarter of your daily fat and sodium allowances. Since we also had chicken sausages in the fridge that needed to be cooked, I opted to do it all at once in the oven. This gave me half an hour, which I oh-so-efficiently used to do my requisite 30 minutes of exercise! It would have been very easy to eat the whole tray of noodles (tip: it will look oddly like it did before you heated it all up, but give it a good stir and you’ll see that it did indeed turn into a creamy sauce of cheesy goodness, really!) but I loaded my plate with salad and only ate 1/3 of the tray (not even a full serving!). Very proud of myself. This also leads to my next find from TJ: salad dressing.

We own zero salad dressings in this house. None in the fridge, none in the pantry. This is because creamy dressings are not good for you and anything else I can whip up with a good oil/vinegar base. But, I am also lazy, which translates into no homemade dressing and very few salads eaten. I trust in TJ to sell dressings that are marginally not-going-to-kill-you bad, so I picked up a bottle of the Goddess dressing. This is not Green Goddess dressing, this is a creamy dressing with soy sauce and other flavors that I can’t think of but come together for a nice subtle flavor. Oh, fine, I’ll get the bottle. It has tahini, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, parsley, and chives. Along with the usual oil, salt, and xanthan gum. It’s good; I like it. Which means I’ll probably use it to go through the huge bag of salad greens that came in the CSA. And take salad to work for lunch. The lesson here is that sometimes you just don’t want to always make your own salad dressing. And for those moments TJ will come to your rescue.

I also bought frozen oatmeal and lobster ravioli. If I hadn’t been planning on the mac ‘n cheese and the sausage, I would have made the ravioli for dinner.  We did eat the ravioli over the weekend and it was nice and lobster-y, although T says he would have prefered lobster chunks rather than the smooth lobsterness inside the ravioli.  It was nice with a browned butter sauce and grated Parmesan, and it was also nice as leftovers with a light marinara.  I’d imagine a light cream sauce would have also been tasty.


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