Yes, more of everything!

wn-everything-but-the-bagelListen, I’ll just come straight out with it.

I’m on a full blown kick— bit of a binge really—over Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend. Yes, I know. I just wrote about everything bagels and everything bagel inspired doughnuts but one post ago. TJ’s seasoning blend isn’t anything new, either. I also know that. Some of you have been worshiping at the altar of everything-but-the-bagel for a while now, but I’m new to the game and if there’s anyone out there who still hasn’t been converted, I’m here to spread the good word.

During a recent rare visit to Trader Joe’s, (because side note: I would, for the record, exclusively shop there if I could, but the closest one to me is 1. not that close to me at all, and 2. a complete and total fucking nightmare. So I love from afar.) I saw the famous seasoning blend and tossed it in my basket. Once home, I looked at it and thought, “Ok, now what? What do I put you on?”

The answer is… EVERY-SINGLE-DAMN-THING. All of ’em. You put this stuff on everything.

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Good on everything but this might be my fave.

I’ve sprinkled it on all sorts of things while I cook: quinoa, salmon, asparagus, shrimp tostadas, even chowder. The other night, I roasted a big fat sweet potato, then sprinkled it with my new favorite seasoning blend, and shazam!—delicious dinner! When a softball sized rice ball from the deli section of my local supermarket ended up being less the arancino I was hoping for and more just a fried ball of very bland rice, everything seasoning saved the day and made it actually tasty. Even my seasoning averse boyfriend admitted an avocado was actually better after I sprinkled a little bit of everything on it. (This is my favorite, by the way. Something about the mix of creamy, buttery avocado and all those savory, crunchy crispy little bits just makes all of my taste buds dance!)

After I posted something about it on Instagram, a friend messaged me to tell me she loved it on oatmeal! Repeat after me: everything is good on everything.

Remember this great song? I mean, she wasn’t wrong.

Breakfast for dinner

I miss my little West Village apartment, I do, but man oh maaaaan, do I love my big new Brooklyn kitchen! I mean, I like the whole apartment obviously, but the kitchen, that was the selling point for me. I have three times the counter space, a sink big enough to sit in (well, maybe if I was a four-year-old but STILL) and my favorite and most treasured feature, a full sized fridge WITH a freezer.

Only three ingredients? Sign. Me. UP.

Only three ingredients? Sign. Me. UP.

You guys, it’s been great.

Last night, for example, I was inspired by my new kitchen to make something I’d been talking to a coworker about last week: breakfast burritos. We love ordering greasy chorizo and egg breakfast burritos from a mexican place near work but while they’re delicious, they’re not even a little healthy. They’re pretty much just terrible for you, which is why I set out to make a healthy version.

A quick trip to Trader Joe’s got me some egg whites, brown rice tortillas and one of my new obsessions, soy chorizo. Egg whites are fat-free and cholesterol free, the tortillas are wheat free and gluten free and the soy chorizo, which I promise is actually insanely delicious, is way less fattening and bad-for-you than real pork chorizo. All around awesomeness.

Breakfast burrito for dinner: WIN

Breakfast burrito for dinner: WIN

It took just a couple of minutes to heat up the tortilla, scramble up some egg whites and toss in some soy chorizo, with just another minute or so to pile everything up, roll it into a burrito and dig into it. It seemed to take just mere seconds for me to hoover the whole thing. And the best part, no guilt afterward or that dreaded anxiety of a ticking burrito time bomb going off in your stomach later!

If this is any indication of what will come out of my new kitchen, then I am very excited to see what else gets cooked up. I doubt it’ll always be healthy but that’s ok. I always have this breakfast burrito to fall back on.

Spoonfuls of amazing

If spooning straight out of the jar is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

If spooning straight out of the jar is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

I can’t handle owning jars of Nutella or peanut butter, so I’m not sure why I thought something like cookie butter might possibly stand any more of a chance. Let’s go over that again: COOKIE. BUTTER. Yea, exactly.

I don’t know about you, dear readers, the whole handful of you, but I rarely trust myself to buy any of this spreadable goodness because not long after I bring it home, BAM! it’s gone, never even having been spread on a single cracker or piece of toast or anything at all. Instead, I’ll go through entire jars just one and two and three heaping spoonfuls at a time.

So even though I know this, and know it damn well, I still did it. I bought a jar. While poking around Trader Joe’s recently, my eyes landed on it and I was helpless to stop myself: Crunchy Speculoos Cookie Butter. Boom! Love at first sight, just like that. In my basket it went, and once safely at home, over an embarrassingly small number of days, into my mouth it was shoveled, without a single whole grain cracker I bought to go with it ever being used.

I have no willpower in the face of sweet, crunchy deliciousness

I have no willpower in the face of sweet, crunchy deliciousness

TJ’s Crunchy Cookie Butter is made with ground up Speculoos cookies, which are spicy, crunchy Belgian cookies, good for dunking in hot tea or coffee. When whipped up into cookie butter, their cinnamony, gingery flavor really shines through, and screw spreading it on anything, I want to spread this stuff straight on my tongue! It’s thick and creamy, but unlike crunchy peanut butter, it’s not as chunky and stick-your-tongue-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth dense. It’s lighter and crispier and just a bit sweeter. In a word: amazing. It’d be great on bagels or smeared on toast with bananas or even for dunking pretzels in. But I won’t know until I buy another jar… and will myself— for maybe just once!— to not just spoon it all straight into my mouth.

Eggnog almonds save the day!

In a word: addictive

Seriously, there is no place on earth that pushes the limits of my sanity and makes me want to punch people in the face quite like the Trader Joe’s in Union Square. For those of you who don’t live in New York and have the great fortune of never having been to this particular supermarket, the closest comparison might be… oh, I don’t know, maybe one of the inner circles of Dante’s inferno.

I was there recently, stuck in a too-narrow aisle, jam-packed with passive aggressive shoppers, at least one screaming toddler and a woman who knocked over a glass jar of tomato sauce (yay for spills and shards of glass!) when I saw something in someone’s basket that turned everything around for me: egg nog almonds! Everyone, out of my way!

These just make everything better.

The thing I love about Trader Joe’s, and one of the reasons I continue to shop there, are their fun, seasonal items, like pumpkin butter in the fall and now egg nog almonds to fuel my obsession during the holidays. Each almond is coated in a smooth, glossy layer of egg nog flavored white chocolate, making this the ideal sweet, creamy, nutty, crunchy thing to curl up with on the couch while watching holiday themed TV shows.

Even if it means braving the herds, I think I need to stock up on these before they’re off the shelves. Post-traumatic TJ’s rage (a real condition in my case) would be a lot easier to deal with if I had these delicious egg nog almonds.

The great pumpkin binge of 2010

I’ve been a terrible, negligent blogger recently and I’m really not ok with it. Since moving back to the city, I’ve shamefully posted only three times. Three times! It’s been a month! I used to post three times in a week, and now look what I’ve become. Ugh.

And not to feed you a bunch of excuses, but my life in the past month has made consistent blogging damn near impossible. The biggest obstacle in the way of my routine blogging schedule is the fact that I still don’t have my own place to live. Finding an apartment has proven to be a far bigger nightmare than I expected it to be and if it weren’t for my awesome friends who have taken me in, I’d be just another crazy New York city bum.

On top of all that, I’ve gotten back into the habit of going to the gym (read: even less free time between work and bedtime), and still don’t have my boyfriend around (meaning my dinners for one often include bowls cereal or Twinkies— hardly blog material).

But rest assured faithful readers, all uhm, five of you out there, I’ve still been eating. In fact, in the past month, I’ve been on my annual pumpkin binge. It happens every fall, and this fall even boyfriend and apartment-lessness hasn’t stopped me.

Pumpkin muffins are always around somewhere, and this year I had mine  at Le Pain Quotidien. Soft and moist with a subtle cinnamon and pumpkin flavor, these, like most of the baked goods at PQ, were pretty good. I liked the toasted pumpkin seeds which gave it a nice tiny bit of saltiness.

Pumpkin muffin from Le Pain Quotidien

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Sandwich and chips… in bar form

I wasn’t specifically looking for something to continue last week’s over-the-top sugar rush supermarket finds, but that’s just kind of what happened while I was waiting in line at Trader Joe’s this weekend. There I was, minding my business, patiently waiting while the lady in front of me slowly unloaded the entire contents of the Trader Joe’s produce section out of her shopping cart, when I saw it sitting on a shelf in the checkout lane: PB & J Bar.

The name, the bright colors, the contents... I was sold.

Say whaaat? I love peanut butter and jelly. What is this about a bar?

I picked up the bright magenta box and examined it, turning it over in my hand to see what was in this crazy thing.

“PB & J are sandwiched between milk and dark chocolate then sprinkled with potato chips,” the box told me.Holy mother of candy bars…”Potato chips? Yes, crisp delicious potato chips,” continued the box, answering my thoughts. “This means you have it all— sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy. Lucky you.”

Lucky me indeed, I thought, throwing it in my basket.

I didn’t even wait till i got home. The weather was sunny and warm (for a change—it’s been unseasonably cold here in San Francisco) so I just ripped into it while I walked. It was a pretty plain looking dark chocolate bar and even when I bit into it, all of the ingredients (peanut butter, raspberry jam, potato chips and milk chocolate) all kind of looked like they had been through a blender. It wasn’t until I really chewed the PB & J bar that I could make out the individual flavors—the fruity tartness of the raspberry, the subtle bitterness of the dark chocolate, the hint of saltiness from the chips. It was interesting but not as crazy as the packaging might suggest. And the salty part, which is what really makes this bar unique, wasn’t as pronounced as I would have liked. Had I not known the potato chips were ground in there, I probably wouldn’t of suspected anything.

All in all, not bad. But I think I’ll stick to regular ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (sans potato chips) instead of the condensed bar form.