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The Ultimate Holiday Shopping List for a Trader Joe’s Lover

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By Cooking Panda

Giving is great and all, but it’s common knowledge that festive foods put the “Wonder” in “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The holidays are nigh, everyone. The chilled wind dances with a rare cheer, smiling cheeks are rosy with merriment and out wafts from chimneys the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 

Trader Joe’s does not underestimate the power of snack, food and drink to make any holiday party the most joyful night of the season. Below, find the ultimate shopping list for the most excellent of gleeful gatherings — TJ’s style.

Fuel For The Day

Gingerbread Oat Bars

It’s ideal to think that holiday cheer lies aplenty within us all, but throwing a soiree is no easy task for a host. As you rush through the house, whipping cream and hanging lights, take a moment to savor a gingerbread oat bar. The ginger-rich gluten-free treats will satiate you with almond butter, flax seed and oat flour. They’re just 140 calories a pop, so your soon-to-transpire feasting is still well deserved.

Drinks

Michael Buble is blasting, lights are twinkling and guests are pouring in. Now it’s time for libations. 

Chocolate Peppermint Almond Beverage

Serve this to dairy-sensitive partygoers chilled, warmed or even blended with ice and banana for a beverage nearly as fluffy as the fallen snow. 

Egg Nog

Fill friends’ cups with the holiday season’s dreamiest drink, and add a splash of rum when no one is looking. TJ’s nog even comes in a light version with 40 percent fewer calories.

Ginger Brew

Use this brew for Moscow Mules that will make even the truest ginger junkies grin.

Winter Wassail

This sweet punch sings notes of black currant, apple and lemon and whispers hints of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and orange peel — to name a few. TJ’s suggests serving it warm in a great big mug with a cinnamon stick garnish, or steaming after a simmer session with red wine on the stovetop. 

Small Bites

Your guests each have one hand busy with a drink. Now bequeath unto them other offerings from appetizer trays. Think cheese plates and hors d’oeuvres. They’re the types of bites you might see at the grandest yuletide ball, but all you need do is buy, heat and plate. Now that’s a party.

Fromage Pave

A unique ultrafiltration process renders this cheese a rich and buttery triple-creme delight. Be fair and warn guests that they may faint from elation after the daintiest taste.

Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

Admittedly, this could count as a dessert. But it’s wintertime, so let’s classify it as a necessary prerequisite to an elaborate feast. How does it work? Standard cheese ingredients get cozy with a mix of lemon and sugar, the curd is baked at low temperatures and the final cooled treat resembles a lemon cheesecake. 

Salami Trio

Cheese looks gorgeous on crackers and baguette, but looks aren’t everything; it could feel lonely without company. Consider cheese’s feelings and give it the gift of friendship — better known as salami. This trio comes in fennel, chorizo and herbes de Provence varieties.

Pistachio & Pomegranate Crisps

These crunchy crisps will make the perfect cheese-mobile. Studded with appropriately red and green pomegranate and pistachio bits, the crackers will transport guests to better days.

Nuts & Fruits & Honey

Despite its uncanny resemblance to tableside decor, this is not a gorgeous lava lamp made of food. Rather, it is a beautifully edible marriage of nuts, dried figs, coconut, seeds, honey and bee pollen. Stick a spoon into it and lay it on the cheese platter, or save a jar for your best foodie friend’s stocking.

Roasted Onion & Garlic Jam

Trader Joe’s attests that this savory jam — the product of slowly simmered garlic, onions, balsamic vinegar and herbs — pairs flawlessly with the aforementioned fromage pave, but keep it around as an addition for the main dishes, too.

Cocktail Stirrers

Fancy-fy any cocktail in no time with stirrers stacked with all of the following goodies: gherkin pickles (gherkin … that’s fun to say), baby onions, green chili peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and olives. You can also add them to the appetizer trays for a briny contrast.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Now it’s time for something a little hotter. Like these, for example: delightful pigs in a blanket for the sophisticated palate. Each bite combines the soft and sweet chewiness of Medjool dates, the creamy tang of California goat cheese and the salty crispiness of apple-smoked bacon. 

Mini Brie en Croute

They’ve experienced flavor jubilee from the previous bundle of bliss, and now your guests will be yearning for more. Have them give these a try. They’re bites of smooth brie melted in a puff-pastry blanket. Dip them in your sweet or savory jams for added taste.

 

Activity

Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit

Drinks are flowing, snacks are bountiful and conversations are chipper. Give your guests a break from standing while keeping their hands busy and spirits high — with an ugly sweater cookie kit, of course. Without the fuss of gingerbread construction, the kit packs 10 sugar-cookie sweaters, vests and TJ’s signature Hawaiian shirts. And for decorating purposes, there is icing and a heap of sprinkles.

 

Big Bites

Your guests will have had so much fun at this point, they’re sure to be skeptical that the main course could eclipse the previous events. Fret not; TJ’s products assure this part of the evening will be the opposite of a bore. Serve these tasty temptations with something green for good measure.

Fondue

Fondue is like the breadbasket — but much, much better. Scatter the dining table with bowls of baguette and brioche bites, plus sticks for spearing, and your guests will be dippin’ ’til they drop. 

Tamales

If you’re from the southwest, these might bring back fond memories of the holidays at home (and induce sweet tears of nostalgia). A celebratory staple, these delicate tamales come filled with chicken and green chile, pork and red sauce, and vegetarian cheese and green salsa. They’ll be a welcome addition to the spread. 

Bacon Wrapped Porchetta Pork Roast

(No judgment if you had to Google “porchetta.”) This here hearty hunk o’ meat is a pork shoulder rubbed with garlic, sage, oregano, rosemary and a hint of lemon. It’s wrapped in bacon and packaged so it’s ready to be popped into your oven. No need to spray the dining room with fragrance — TJ’s says the roasting porchetta will fill your home with aromas of bacon and porky goodness.

Stuffed Lobsters

These Canadian crustaceans are stuffed with more lobster and crab, mayonnaise, celery, bell pepper, lemon juice and garlic. Give each guest a sizeable piece of the lobster, and you can call the meal a holiday surf ‘n’ turf. 

 

Dessert

With hearts full and bellies nearly there, it’s time for dessert. Have your guests clear the table, gather ’round the fireplace for a goodhearted gift exchange, and succumb to a proper sugar coma.

Gingerbread Sticks

These cookie sticks have the flavor of gingerbread plus the convenience of dip-ability. Hold them like biscotti and have them take a swim in a frothy bath of egg nog. You shan’t regret it.

Macarons des Fetes

TJ’s iconic macarons are back for the most festive time of the year, this time in chocolate peppermint, chocolate raspberry, four-spice caramel, pear cinnamon, gingerbread and cappuccino flavors. Since they’re French, now would be a great time to pop open the champagne. Treat yourself.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Have you ever imagined bathing in cake? No? Okay. But if you were to dream of such a thing, it would likely involve this cake. It’s made with lots of butter, sugar and chopped dates, and it oozes with hot toffee sauce — add ice cream or whipped cream, if you’re into that contrasting-temperatures thing, which we are.

Jingle Jangle Ice Cream

This ultra-sweet ice cream is abound with the jingliest and jangliest. You know, like chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter cups, red candy gems and Joe-Joe’s cookies. It’s best eaten with a ladle for maximum jingle distribution in each bite. 

Peppermint Joe-Joe’s Ice Cream

For those who like their ice cream chunky, but not jangly, this is the answer. It’s a swirl of Joe-Joe’s-laden peppermint ice cream and fudge-ribboned vanilla ice cream. Those who say ice cream shouldn’t be eaten in cold weather just haven’t tried this one yet.

 

Party Favors

Salty Honey Toffee Milk Chocolate Covered Crackers

Perhaps you expected the last word in that title to be “cookies,” or even “potato chips.” Crackers, really? But that’s just the thing. The crunchy cracker provides a blank canvas for the flavors of milk chocolate, diced honey toffee and almonds — and an also delightfully unexpected dusting of ground coffee — to shine. Embrace the unusual. Be great.

Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Bar

Your guests will arrive hungry and leave happy — and extra happy if you give them this dark chocolate bar with caramel filling and crumbs of gingerbread cookies.

Chili Chocolate Collection

The package comes with a key detailing each piece’s level of spiciness. Get the low down on your friends’ heat tolerance, then hit ’em with a sweet and smoky treat for the road. 

Crunchy Truffle Trio

Each velvety chocolate ball is coated with fine flakes of speculoos cookies, caramelized coconut or caramelized pecan. They’re truffles, people, and they’re not to be trifled with. 

RECOVERY

You’ve done it, you convivial host! After an ample night’s rest, wake up to the last two treasures from your shopping cart, and take the rest of the day for yourself. 

Festively Flavored Coffee Cups

After a long night, what’s your poison? Chocolate mint? Maybe wintry blend? French vanilla, perhaps? You’ll find it here.

Gelato Filled Panettone

OK, this could be overkill for a quiet breakfast alone. Whether you indulge solo or keep it in the freezer for when Mom comes to town, this is a traditional Italian cake filled with Italian-style ice cream, wearing a hat of chocolate chips. It’s just begging to be tried at Christmas brunch.

Happy Holidays, happy shopping, all happy everything!

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr (Edited by Cooking Panda)

Tags: Christmas, festive, Groceries, holiday, Party, TJ's, Trader Joe's
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Stop Wasting Food! These Fruits And Vegetables Last Forever

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By Cooking Panda

There are two kinds of grocery shoppers: those who write out exactly what they need to make their pre-planned recipes for the week, and those who run through the store and grab whatever looks good or is on sale. Whichever kind you are, you’ve probably found yourself at least once staring at a fridge full of rotten fruit and wilted vegetables at the end of the week, frustrated that you weren’t able to use them all. Well, you’re not alone. Did you know that roughly 40 percent of food grown in the U.S. does not get eaten?

Not all fruits and vegetables freeze well, but one easy way to cut back on wasting them is simply to buy foods that will last you longer. Berries and bananas spoil very quickly, so buy them sparingly and eat or freeze them quickly.

When you don’t have a game plan but want to stock up on leafy greens, try buying cabbage instead of lettuce or kale. Cabbage can stay good for more than two weeks, so you should have enough time to make that slaw. We recommend storing cabbage in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. To maximize freshness, don’t cut or wash it until you’re ready to use it.

Onions and garlic add a much-needed savory punch to almost any entree, and they stay good for ages – up to a couple of months. Yellow onions last the longest. Here’s how to store them.

Potatoes are another versatile, vitamin-packed food that lasts forever. Well, ok, not forever, but you can get a good two to three months out of them. Not bad. Just keep them away from your onions – they age each other. Sweet potatoes are a different story — the sugars will age them much faster, so keep an eye on them.

Whole, unwashed carrots and beets can last for up to three weeks in your fridge. Cut the green stems off to slow down water loss, and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Green peppers last for two to three weeks, since they are low in sugar. Opt for ones that feel heavy and have tight, unwrinkled skin. Keep them in a plastic bag in the crisper.

Winter squash lasts for more than a month outside of the refrigerator, while uncut watermelon can give you a good week or two in the fridge.

Tags: food hacks, Groceries, waste
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Mother’s Encounter At Local Grocery Store Takes A Very Unexpected Turn

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By Cooking Panda

A mother who noticed a family was selectively grocery shopping based on what they could afford stepped in to make sure they got everything they wanted, no matter the cost.

Rachael Scott wrote on Facebook that while waiting in line to pay for groceries, she noticed the family in front of her sorting out their items in a strangely meticulous way. She quickly realized that they were selecting the groceries they needed, and putting others aside to stay within their budget.

Scott knew right away what she needed to do.

“I felt the Lord say buy it,” she said. “Our family lives well and we have what we need and a [sic] enough for extras. I didn’t have a clue what it would cost but I said yes Lord. I spoke up and said go ahead get those the Lord is paying for those extras today. 

“The mom just looked at me. I was trying to not make a big deal and just do it, but I saw one of the little girls wipe tears from her eyes and it almost broke me.”

Scott said she was compelled to pay for the family’s food after seeing the worry in the children’s eyes while they waited to see if they’d be able to have the food they wanted. 

“My kids were having a good old time because they KNEW they were getting the things they need and what they wanted as treats,” she said. “Those children were watching anxiously not sure if they could get the things they wanted.”

Scott’s post went viral after it was originally shared, garnering over 67,000 shares on Facebook.

Sources: LiftBump, Facebook / Photo credit: facebook.com

Tags: Family, Groceries, Mother, rachael scott, Viral
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