Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Let's Go Shopping- Trader Joe's

"Wanna go foodie shopping?" Ohhhh friends, those are words I love to hear, and my close friends all know it. Some girls go to the mall, this girl loves going foodie shopping. Not grocery shopping, mind you, in the big supermarket. That is something I dread. I love foodie shopping- unique stores, gourmet grocery stores, like Dean and Deluca or Des Moines' own Gateway Market, specialty shops and so on. My recent favorites have been Fresh Thyme, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

It wasn't all that long ago that I had to travel to another city to hit Trader Joe's. Many Saturdays I'd get up early and hit the road with my bestie Ronda- heading for Minneapolis to hit Ikea and Trader's and then come back to Des Moines. A few years ago I was so thrilled to hear we were finally getting a Trader Joe's of our very own right here in Des Moines. I wasn't the only person who was delighted. It's a very popular store for great food and outstanding prices. The produce is beautiful, the meat and cheese selections are great, and the store is packed with organic, fair trade, healthy food products. Our location boasts some of the friendliest employees I have ever seen in a retail shop ever. It's just FUN to shop here.

And of course, the food is awesome.

So let's talk about some of my favorite Joe's products. While we aren't big buyers of pre-made or processed foods, we do make an exception at Trader Joe's. I can get a delicious Chinese dinner on the table in a matter of minutes and at a tiny fraction of the cost of takeout. what are my favorites? First and foremost, the pork gyoza. Years ago my daughter and I took a class and learned to make them from scratch but why bother with all that work when I can grab a bag at Joe's and they are every bit as delicious. Super easy to make, all you need is a skillet with a lid. The frozen gyoza get browned on the bottom in a little hot oil in your pan (go non-stick for these guys, trust me on this) until deep golden brown, then you add a couple tablespoons of water, pop the lid on and steam for a few minutes to finish cooking- perfect results every time.

Veggie fried rice, chicken shu mai and gyoza
When the gyoza are done, I remove them to a plate and keep warm while I whip out some fried rice or Kung Pao chicken in the same skillet I just used. The vegetable fried rice is one of my favorites- there is nothing to add, nothing to make to serve alongside, just add it to the skillet and cook until heated. It goes great with the gyoza. I'm also a huge fan of the shu mai dumplings. We have tried the chicken shu mai and the pork shu mai and both are fantastic. You can prepare those like the gyoza, or steam them right in the microwave, which is what I normally do while the gyoza are cooking. 

Kung Pao chicken with pork shu mai and gyoza
The Kung Pao chicken is also a favorite of ours. I always cut the chicken into smaller pieces- it's better distributed throughout the dish that way, and goes great over some instant rice, which we always have on hand, leftover pasta, whatever you like. 

On the other side of the culinary globe we have delicious pillowy cloud of delight- gnocchi. Tonight for dinner I was lazy. Hey it's a million degrees outside and I hate that. Drains me. So I was looking for something delicious and easy and again Trader Joe's had exactly what I was looking for.  Also from the freezer section, sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage. Holy schmoly it is delicious. Lovely little nuggets of sweet potato and Grana Padano cheese bathed in a rich and buttery sauce accented with chopped sage. Dinner was on the table in almost no time. I just pan-grilled some boneless pork chops in a little Sinful Food wild sage olive oil and grilled a little red onion in there as well. While the chops were resting, I tossed the bag of gnocchi in the same skillet, added a little water per the directions and six minutes later I had a dinner I will be making over and over and over. It was the perfect autumn dinner- tender juicy Iowa pork chops with the hint of sage from that incredible olive oil, hit with a little Signature Seasoning, and snuggled up next to the chops, those delightful little nuggets of love. They are creamy and just the slightest bit sweet, with the creamy buttery sauce and bits of sage adding the perfect balance of flavor. Sage can be overpowering if overused but this combo was perfect. 

I was so impressed with these products, I can't wait to try even more of the frozen ethnic foods Trader Joe's offers. There are several more varieties of dumplings, stir fries, Indian and Mexican dishes just waiting for me to try.

Want to try the wild sage olive oil? Visit Sinful Food to check out all their amazing products. Click HERE to get yours!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." As a Brand Ambassador, the company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift or something of value. Regardless,  I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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