Trader Joe’s Fall Picks

Trader Joe’s Fall Picks

You know fall has officially arrived when Trader Joe’s rolls out all of the fall and pumpkin goodness. Grabbing some of my favorite fall goodies there is always a must, and when I went the other day to check out their fall offerings, I was excited to find several new items I’m looking forward to trying out!

OLD FAVORITES…

Canned Organic Pumpkin: I always have a can or two on hand for fall baking. Their organic pumpkin is really reasonably priced!

Pumpkin Spice Coffee: I’ve heard mixed reviews from people on this, but I personally love it and stock up every fall. My husband who isn’t big into pumpkin flavored coffee actually really likes it too.

Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps: A must have and are great for a snack on their own or for adding to a cheeseboard.

Pumpkin Butter: This stuff is heavenly and can be used for so many things. We even like it on basic toast but it’s fun to take it up a notch and put it on homemade pumpkin bread.

Halloween Joe Joe’s: My kids DEVOUR these. A box doesn’t last long at our house so I seriously have to keep them hidden and dole out a few at a time. Adding one or two to a lunchbox is a great treat.

Pumpkin Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries: A fun weekend breakfast treat to have on hand.

Pecan Pumpkin Oatmeal (not pictured): I have some packets lying around that are leftover from last year (and still good!) so I didn’t buy more this trip. But I totally recommend it – it’s a delicious instant oatmeal!

Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix (not pictured): I recently bought Kodiac’s pumpkin pancake mix, so I held off on buying any more on this run, but we’ve tried this before and this makes really good pancakes!

Pumpkins: Trader Joe’s has great prices on pumpkins. Even their “fantasy” pumpkins (the fancy Cinderella kind) are only $5.99 which is way cheaper than I’ve seen them anywhere else.

Vanilla Pumpkin Candle: Trader Joe’s candles are SO good and so affordable. I always grab several whenever I go. They also had an apple one which was too sweet smelling for my liking – but this scent is perfection.

NEW FINDS…

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese: Ok I’m pretty sure they’ve actually had this one around for awhile, but I tried a sample for the first time the other day and really liked it! Will definitely make for a great busy weeknight or lazy weekend meal for the kids with a side of veggies.

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole: While the kids have noodles, this looks like a delicious low carb option for the adults. I’m excited to try this one.

Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds: My whole family (kids included) like pumpkin seeds as just a snack on their own – but the seasoning on these has me excited to make some fun uses with them! I think they would be great on a salad, with a cheeseboard, or on a smoothie bowl.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Mix: So I’m a bit of a snob about baking with mixes (I just don’t do it) but Trader Joe’s rarely disappoints me so I’m willing to give theirs a go. I’m actually super excited to try these and if they end up being a hit, I’m grabbing a few more canisters to get us through fall.

Maple and Sea Salt Kettle Corn: My kids are huge popcorn junkies, so this is definitely going to be a fun fall treat for them. It would be great for a family movie night, or even just a fun snack in their lunchboxes.

Cinnamon Bun Spread: My kids love toast and eat it often for breakfast, so I thought this would be a fun special treat! I can imagine it would also be amazing on French toast, pancakes or waffles. (Spreading on pumpkin pancakes perhaps?)

Pumpkin Bisque and Autumnal Harvest Soup: On a chilly day, there’s nothing like a warm fall soup. These will definitely make life easier for me on a busy day when I don’t have time to let a homemade soup simmer for hours. These would also be great as a light appetizer on Thanksgiving if you are having a later meal!

Fall Leaf Tortilla Chips and Fall Harvest Salsa: My kids love chips and salsa, and having a special fall themed version is just too adorable.

Hot Cocoa O’s: We’ve tried (and liked!) the pumpkin O’s, but when I saw these I knew these would be right up my kids’ alley. One of their favorite cereals is Annie’s cocoa bunnies, so I’m guessing these will be a hit (especially with the added marshmallows).

Organic Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark: This looks like an amazing grown up treat and would be great to have on hand around the upcoming holidays! (If I don’t eat it all first)

Pumpkin Spice Face Mask: Ok this is SO extra. And kind of ridiculous. But isn’t pumpkin supposed to be good for your skin? Or something? All I know is I love pumpkin so why not put it on my face. I’m totally trying this.

Haunted House Chocolate Cookie Kit: Last year at Christmas I made the huge mistake of buying one gingerbread house and making the kids share. Let’s just say…there were lots of disagreements about how the house should be constructed and it was a lesson for mom. Just get 2 houses. So for Halloween I grabbed two and I think this will be a super fun activity for them! We have a few long weekends coming up in October so this will buy me a few hours of keeping them entertained.

STILL WANT TO GRAB…

Pumpkin Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Icing: I totally intended to grab a tube of these and forgot. One of my favorite fall treats is these homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but homemade rolls are an all day chore. While they are totally worth it I don’t always have the time. These would be a great quick and easy option.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese: I think this would be absolutely delicious on homemade pumpkin bread. TJs also has pumpkin bagels this fall too for a double pumpkin breakfast! You could also make a killer cream cheese frosting with this.

Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies: A fun lunchbox treat or a cute treat you could leave in a little bowl over the Thanksgiving holiday or any other fall gatherings.

Happy Friday!

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Simple Go-To Summer Breakfasts For the Family

Simple Go-To Summer Breakfasts For the Family

Anyone with kids knows, summer meals/snacks are no joke. My kids love to eat around the clock in the summer and are constantly requesting snacks all day long. One big way to help combat this is filling them up with a big breakfast, and one that doesn’t take me all morning to prepare! Here are some of my simple, summer go to breakfasts for the family!

Overnight Berry Croissant Bake

Casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 3 large croissants, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 or 8×10 baking dish with cooking spray.

Add croissant pieces to baking dish. Sprinkle berries evenly over croissants.

Beat cream cheese for 30 seconds with electric mixer. Gradually add in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and milk. Continue to mix until well blended.

Pour cream cheese mixture over croissants and berries.

Let rest for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and set in center.

Serve warm with powdered sugar sprinkled on top

My big kiddo loves croissants, so when I saw some fresh baked croissants in our local bakery the other day, I grabbed them and decided to make this casserole. It was a huge hit with both kids, and would be great for entertaining too! Plus it literally takes just a few minutes to whip together & then simply pop in the oven in the morning. (Recipe via Happy Go Lucky)

 

Instant Pot Oatmeal

Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

Combine ingredients in the Instant Pot.

Close the lid and make sure the sealing valve is turned to the sealing position.

Press the “manual” button and make sure the Instant Pot is on medium pressure.

Adjust the time to 4 minutes

When the oatmeal is finished, use the quick pressure release method by carefully turning the sealing valve from the sealing position to the venting position. Make sure your face and hands are not over the valve when you do this.

When the pressure has released, serve and top as desired!

When we go to hotels my kids absolutely love the slow-cooker type oatmeal there. I am someone that never remembers to start a crockpot hours ahead of time – so the instant pot is truly my best friend. I can whip up oats that taste like they’ve been cooking for hours – in just a few minutes! This is a frequent go-to and it makes enough for leftovers to last a few days. I typically top ours with a little brown sugar, berries, and a few mini chocolate chips – but the possibilities are endless! I think banana, coconut & a little nut butter sounds amazing! (Recipe via Don’t Waste the Crumbs)

 

Smoothie bowls (and popsicles!)

Popsicle molds

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup mixed frozen fruit of choice (our go-tos are mango, dragonfruit, açaí, blueberries, and strawberries)
  • One banana
  • One scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey (can also substitute Truvia or raw sugar)
  • 1 cup milk (can also sub soy or almond milk)
  • Optional additions: handful of spinach/kale, 1 tbsp chia seeds

Toppings:

  • 1/2 cup granola (we like bear naked berry)
  • Choice of toppings: Fresh berries, sliced bananas, chia seeds, coconut, cocoa nibs, goji berries, drizzle of honey

Directions

Place frozen fruit, banana, milk, protein powder, honey (and spinach/chia seeds if desired) in blender & mix on high. Add more milk in small increments if mixture is too thick to achieve desired consistency.

Place 1/4 cup of granola at bottom of bowl, pour smoothie mixture over top, then top with remaining 1/4 cup of granola. Top with choice of toppings.

Any remaining smoothie mix I place in popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours or until set. These make for a great afternoon snack!

When it is scorching hot out, this is the perfect breakfast. And the other great thing about this, is there are so many endless possibilities of flavors! My kids typically love mango/banana/dragonfruit – but we often experiment with different flavors. And we always freeze any leftovers in popsicle containers for an afternoon snack!

 

Breakfast Egg Muffins

Muffin tin

Ingredients

Eggs:

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Egg Muffin Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ham diced
  • 2 green onions diced
  • 1 large slice red onion diced
  • 2 ounces cheddar jack cheese shredded or diced
  • 4 ounces cheddar/Monterey jack cheese shredded or diced

Directions

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 12 count muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Crack eggs into a medium sized mixing bowl, add spices and whisk to combine.

Begin layering ingredients in the prepared muffin pan, leaving a bit of the ingredients to top your egg muffin cups at the end. Carefully pour your whisked eggs into the muffin tins until they are about halfway full, let settle and add a bit more. You want your muffin tins filled almost all the way to the top. Once your muffin tins are filled, take a fork and lightly stir each of the muffin tins to mix everything together. Top with reserved ingredients and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit in the muffin tin for 1-2 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the muffin tins and gently remove from the pan, using the tip of the knife under the muffin to gently lift out.

For a savory breakfast you can make ahead, and have perfectly sized portions to grab throughout the week – it doesn’t get better than this! You can also customize these however you like – I think they would be great with turkey bacon, or an all veggie one! (Recipe via A Wicked Whisk)

 

Kodiak Protein Waffles

Kodiak Frozen Protein Waffles

I can’t exactly count these as a recipe – but they are such a great, quick option I can’t not list them! My kids also love the Kodiak Protein Pancakes, but for a morning when I just want to get something together quickly (and don’t even want to turn on the stove!) these are winners. I feel like I’m feeding my kids something a little healthier than a typical freezer waffle, and yet it’s still a sweet (and protein filled) breakfast my kids love. There are multiple flavors to choose from, but my kids’ favorite is the Buttermilk and Vanilla. I will typically jazz them up a bit with a dusting of powdered sugar, a few mini chocolate chips, some berries, and Trader Joe’s vanilla bean infused maple syrup. I typically buy these at our local Albertsons, but Target carries them as well! (Check to see if your local Target carries them here)

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Red White and Blue M&M Blondies

Red White and Blue M&M Blondies

I’ve been making these every year for the 4th of July for the past 6 or 7 years now. They are delicious, simple to make, and great for packing in a picnic. If you are looking for a simple & crowd pleasing desert for that 4th of July gathering, look no further!

Red White & Blue M&M Blondies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup M&Ms + 1/2 cup M&Ms for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 9″ pan with non stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix together melted butter with the brown sugar and stir until combined. Stir in vanilla and the eggs.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and stir until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the M&Ms.

Spread the dough into the baking pan and smooth the top using a spatula. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of M&Ms.

Bake for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out slightly moist with small crumbs.

Let the blondies cool completely and then cut into large squares. Store in a tightly covered container.

Wishing you a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

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Cherry Picking (And Homemade Cherry Pop Tarts)

Cherry Picking (And Homemade Cherry Pop Tarts)

My top (J Crew, old – similar here, here, here, here) // Jeans // Sandals // Necklace // Lip gloss // Evan’s shirt (Gap, similar) // Cole’s shirt

Friday was an unusually cool summer day here in Boise (our high was mid 60s!), which I thought would be perfect weather for spending the afternoon at the orchard picking cherries! We always have an absolute blast going out to the country for a few hours and enjoying the tranquility – and my kids love getting to feel like little farmers for the day!

What is almost as fun as picking the cherries is eating them once we get home – and making delicious treats! I thought it would be really fun to make some homemade pop tarts with our harvest and found this recipe which I modified with just a few little tweaks. I’m not gonna lie…these are labor intensive and take a long time to make! (Next time I would make the crust and filling at night & refrigerate overnight, then assemble & bake in the morning). That said my husband said these are one of the best treats I’ve ever made!

CherryPopTarts-1

HOMEMADE CHERRY POP TARTS

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and frozen
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Assembly:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pink food coloring
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

Make the dough:

  • In food processor, mix flour, salt, and sugar together by pulsing a few times. Add the frozen diced butter & pulse until coarse crumbs form. Set the food processor to low and add the water in small amounts at a time until dough comes together. Do not over-work the dough (you want to see bits of butter within the dough). Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour to overnight.

Make the filling:

  • In a small saucepan, stir together the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the cherries are soft and bubbly. Lower heat. Whisk together the cornstarch and water, and stir into the cherry, stirring constantly and slightly mashing cherries with spatula or wooden spoon, until a thick jam forms. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to cool.

Assemble:

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough with a rolling pin into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into 3×4 inch rectangles. This should make a total of about 20 rectangles. Place 10 rectangles on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Whisk the egg and water together, then lightly brush the edges of the dough on the 10 rectangles. Place 2 tablespoons of cherry filling in the center of each rectangle. Lay another rectangle on top, pressing the edges with your fingers and then crimping with a fork. Continue with remaining pop tarts. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, along with the remaining egg wash.
  • While the pop tarts chill, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with rack placed in the center of the oven.
  • When the pop tarts are ready to bake, lightly brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Use a fork or skewer to poke small holes on the top of the dough to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before glazing.

Make the glaze:

  • In a bowl whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Add a drop or two of pink food coloring. Drizzle over cooled pop tarts and top with sprinkles.

*Note – I use this cherry pitter and I highly recommend it!

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What I Buy At Trader Joe’s

What I Buy At Trader Joe’s

Ahh Trader Joe’s…one of my favorite places to go shopping (along with Costco and Target!). So many great things at even better prices. I have a few go-tos I always grab on a trip to Trader Joe’s, as well as a few sections I always browse. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites and some new products I’m loving!

Gummy Vitamins – Reasonably priced multivitamin for kids. I often grab myself a multivitamin there for myself as well.

Rosé Vinaigrette – I love a good vinaigrette so I was super excited to find this one! I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks really promising.

Granola – Great as a cereal with milk or a smoothie bowl topping

Cookie Cocoa Swirl – My kids are big bread/toast eaters and they aren’t huge fans of peanut butter or Nutella. This is a fun alternative.

Chia Seeds – I love adding these to smoothies (my kids love them!) and these are very well priced.

Gorilla Munch cereal – A classic that my kids absolutely love.

Roasted Cocoa Nibs – These are a great topping for oatmeal or smoothie bowls. They add some chocolate flavor without the guilt.

Reduced Guilt Pita Chips – I love pita chips and these are a delicious reduced calorie version that tastes the same as the regular ones!

Creamed Honey – Another delicious bread/toast topping that my kids absolutely love.

Organic Chicken Broth – TJs broth is delicious and well priced. I make soups often so I like to keep a few on hand.

Seasonal Treats – I grabbed these chocolate covered heart cookies for my kids a few weeks back for Valentines. They always have fun seasonal snacks!

Vanilla Bean Syrup – My kids absolutely love this vanilla bean infused syrup.

Rainbow of Honey – We add honey to smoothies and tea, and this rainbow of honey kit is not only good but it looks pretty sitting on the counter.

Cheeses – Trader Joe’s always has the best cheeses. Not pictured but I especially love their Burrata and also their Truffle Cheese. And I love adding feta to salads and the Mediterranean herb is especially good.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie – For nights when you want a fresh baked cookie but don’t want to make it from scratch – just toss this one in the oven!

Pizza ingredients – I love homemade pizza dough – but Trader Joe’s does have really good refrigerated dough. I also like their pepperoni, shredded mozzarella & pizza sauce.

Green Goddess Dressing – I bought this after hearing a lot of good things about it. I’ve seen tons of recipes/uses for it on Pinterest and it is low calorie!

Pastry Pups – My kids absolutely love these. These are great for a lazy Sunday lunch or a play date. They are also nitrate free.

Hummus – I’m the only one in my house who really likes hummus – but this makes for a great snack with pita chips & a little feta.

Vegetable Samosas – These aren’t quite as good as the delicious Indian restaurant here we like to go to – but these are a pretty solid substitute.

Tzatziki – TJs has so many good sauces! We had gyros recently and this is so good & easier than making from scratch on a busy weeknight.

Frozen berries – Great for making smoothies

Jasmine Rice – I love their frozen rice for busy weeknights. So simple to prepare! Their brown rice is very good too.

Not pictured but my kids absolutely love their frozen croissants & they make a delicious Sunday morning breakfast.

And a few more things:

Sparkling Berry Lemonade – These are fun special occasion or picnic drinks! They have a few other flavors too.

Breads – I like checking out the various breads they have when I’m there. I like their pita bread & recently saw a cinnamon bread there that I want to try for French toast.

Baking ingredients – I really like their chocolate chips and also their seasonings!

Hand Soap – I always make sure to check out their hand soap section when I’m there. I got the cutest winter White Pine soap/lotion set around Christmas for my bathroom. I think this grapefruit one actually looks cute sitting on my kitchen counter too!

Candle – Their $3.99 soy candles are a steal & they always have new scents!

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(Kid Approved) Kale Ginger Smoothie

 The minute my kids walk in the door after school every day, they immediately ask me for a snack. It’s important for me to make this snack healthy and although I’m pretty fortunate that my kids love fruits and vegetables, they don’t exactly love salads and dark leafy greens. However they love this smoothie and request it as their after school snack several times a week!

Kale and Ginger Smoothie

Large handful of Kale (approx 2 large leaves)

1 banana

1 slice of fresh peeled ginger (approx 1/2 inch – and I use a spoon to peel the ginger)

1 cup of unfiltered apple juice (you can sub with unsweetened almond milk to lower the sugar content)

2-3 tbsp of honey

1 large glass of ice

Optional: I also like to add 1 tbsp chia seeds for some healthy fat and/or 1/2 cup berries should I have them on hand. You could also add protein powder to make this a meal replacement!

Mix all together in blender & serve! (This is the blender I use)

If you wanted to make this into a bowl rather than a smoothie, reduce the liquid content to make it thicker and top with toppings such as sliced banana, berries, shredded coconut, chia seeds, granola, and a drizzle of honey.

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Easy Weeknight Vegetable Beef Soup

Easy Weeknight Vegetable Beef Soup

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for awhile as I’ve been making this soup several times a month all fall and winter! This week seemed a fitting time to share as it was the perfect meal for our first night back to school and our busy routine yesterday. I had found a few vegetable beef soup recipes online a few months back that just didn’t quite suit my tastes or turn out quite correctly, so I spent some time perfecting this soup and it has become a family favorite! It is so simple to make and is also ready in minutes, which is perfect for busy weeknights.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced (or I often use approximately 20 baby carrots since I usually have them on hand)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  • Turn Instant Pot to Sauté; add oil and heat until hot. Add onion and sauté for approximately 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Add ground beef and sauté until beef is browned through. Drain and turn instant pot off.
  • Add can of stewed tomatoes with liquid and break into small pieces. Add tomato paste, oregano, cayenne, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir all ingredients together.
  • Add carrots and potatoes, then add broth. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  • Place lid on instant pot and close vent (seal). Press the manual button and set the timer for 4 minutes. Once the timer beeps, do a manual release of pressure by turning the seal to vent. Once the pressure is released, remove the lid and enjoy!

*Note: This could also be made in a crockpot or stovetop if you don’t have an Instant Pot – although I use mine a ton and think they are absolutely worth the investment!

This soup does have a little heat, so if you don’t care for that you can reduce the amount of cayenne or crushed red pepper (or exclude!). What is so great about this soup is you can really customize it to suit your tastes. You could use ground turkey or chicken, add other vegetables you like (such as corn or celery), and use your broth of choice should you prefer beef or vegetable. This soup also manages to be low in calories, and still very filling!

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