Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

The request for a pasta dish came in from my better half. Somewhere along the way we started adding a little goat cheese to our spaghetti sauce to give it a little tang. We have a friend that describes the taste of goat cheese as “wet fur”. If you share a disdain for goat cheese you can omit it. I guess we like the taste of wet fur… who knew?

So instead of spaghetti I settled on a baked ziti. What’s cool is I found this penne pasta that was gluten free. It held together nicely and frankly I couldn’t tell the difference. In fact, Jill claimed that it was the best baked ziti dishes that she has ever eaten and when I told her it was GF she was shocked. I think what really made this dish shine was the combination of the goat cheese in the sauce and then the blistered smoked mozzarella (Trader Joes) on the top.

The ground turkey really crumbles well so it blends into the sauce perfectly. One cheat I often do when in a rush is to use jarred sauce and then add to it. I used Rao’s for this one and added some garlic slices, parm, goat cheese, tomato paste, red wine and some basil.

1 package of ground turkey (you could sub beef, pork, chicken, sausage)
1 package of Penne pasta (I used gluten free)
1 jar of Rao’s Marinara Sauce
4 cloves of sliced garlic
1 shallot diced
2-3 tbs of tomato paste
1/4 cup of goat cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Fresh smoked mozzarella (sliced or pinched on top)
1/2 cup of red wine
Basil (fresh or dried) (optional)

Prep: Get a boiling pot of water for your pasta, dice your garlic and shallot and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1. While you wait on your water to boil take a large pot and add your ground turkey. Oil if you need it. I always use medium heat. Once your meat is browned I added the shallot and sweated it out for 3-4 minutes. I then added the garlic slices (you can mince if you prefer) and let them soften for about 1 minute.

2. Now add wine, sauce, basil and tomato paste and bring it to a simmer. Depending upon your pasta and boiling water you can let this simmer until the pasta is done. Drain and strain and set aside. IMG_0873

3. Turn the heat off and add the goat cheese and Parmesan cheese and stir until well combined. If it’s too thick you can add a little water (pasta water if you saved any). Now add the cooked pasta and stir well until everything is well coated.

4. Pour this into a baking dish and top with the smoked mozzarella. On your lowest oven rack or at least in the middle put your dish into the oven but crank it on broil. When cheese is blistered remove and serve.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Date

Blue Cheese Stuffed Date

  • Servings: 10-36
  • Difficulty: easy
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Blue Cheese Stuffed Date
My wife went to a party the other day and needed to take some one bite appetizer food. So I made three for her to take 1. Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates 2. Pimento Cheese topped biscuit crackers 3. Jalapeno Popper Cheese balls topped with candied jalapenos.

She said the biggest hits were these dates and the jalapeno poppers. Admittedly, I am not a fan of the date but also don’t hate them either. I went to party a few years ago and had an app that was blue cheese date wrapped in a bacon and served warm. I stuffed several and tried it various ways and think adding the pecan really turned out well and it also didn’t require bacon. First time I think I have said that line.

Sweet from the date, a punch of creamy blue cheese, crunch and heat from the pecan. Super one biter.

A package of pitted dates
Blue Cheese that you have tried
Cream Cheese
Worcestershire Sauce
Trader Joe’s Sweet and Spicy Pecans

1. The reason I don’t have measurements is because I don’t know how many you are making. I made 36 so I used 1/2 lbs of good blue cheese, 2-3 oz of cream cheese and a splash of Worcestershire. The mixing is better if the cheese are at room temperature.

2. Take a date and cut one side and open it like a taco. Stuff some of the cheese mixture in it and top with a candied pecan. Before you start making these in mass you need to taste it. If you are happy with it, commence the stuffing. This is the time to nail your blue cheese to cream cheese ratio. I was about a 2 to 1 ratio since making them for guests but if I knew the people I would have gone 3:1 because I really like blue cheese. The only reason I add the cream cheese it to make it more creamy and to make bind better. Lastly if you don’t have sweet and spicy pecans you can buy them or make them by melting some butter and brown sugar and adding Cayenne pepper. Put them on a sheet tray and cook in the oven to harden. 200 degrees.

Stromboli di Pepperoni

Stromboli di Pepperoni

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Stromboli di Pepperoni
As I mentioned a few times, we had a Trader Joe’s move into my neighborhood so I have been swinging by and looking for things to try and experiment with. I was picking up some tortellini and glanced down and noticed that they had pizza dough in these baggies. So I had an idea of trying to make some pepperoni rolls with it so I picked up some smoked mozzarella, provolone and pepperonis along with some red sauce for dipping. Truth in advertising, I made nothing here and used everything from the store.

When I made it home and started working with the dough it really tightened up on me and I didn’t have time to let it rest and relax. So for a plan b I settled on a Stromboli which is basically a giant pizza roll. I tried to shape the dough into a rectangle so I wrestled around with the dough to get close enough. I laid down some shredded smoked mozzarella, topped with pepperoni and a little provolone on top. You could smear a little sauce but you don’t want it to make the dough too wet.

Trader Joe’s Pizza dough
Smoked Mozzarella (shredded)
Provolone (shredded)
Trader Joe’s Pizza sauce

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the dough into a rectangle. About a third of the way down, lay your ingredients down and roll it up into a big log shape. Try to seal the seams but inevitably some cheese will leak out and it will make this beautiful crusty cheese on your pizza stone. Cut, serve, dunk and enjoy.

Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce
I wasn’t sure what to call this dish but when I spotted the Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini I knew Jill would love it A creamy Parmesan sauce was a perfect complement. Adding the chicken made it a more substantial mean but certainly not necessary. Also when I make a creamy sauce for my pasta I love adding peas because they add a pop of sweetness and freshness.

Given I used packaged tortellini this is one of those restaurant quality meals that you can whip up in a flash. I used two chicken breasts but looking back I would just go with one because we couldn’t eat it all. For the sauce, I will try to remember how much I used of each ingredient but the more important thing for you to do is consider your tastes. Do you like a lot or light amounts of sauces? Do you like it thick or more loose. More cheesy or even use another cheese like Gruyere, swiss, maybe even blue cheese. hmmmm?

Ingredients for 2:
1 Package of Trader Joe’s Pesto Tortellini
1 tbs of flour
1 tbs of butter
1 cup of milk or cream
Parmesan Cheese
Chicken breast

1. Let’s make some chicken. Season both sides with Kosher salt and Pepper. Put a little bit of oil in a medium heated cast iron skillet and cook it until done and make sure you get some nice browning. Remove your chicken and set it aside. IMG_0703

2. Turn the heat down medium low and splash in a little chicken stock or water (pasta water if you decided to cook your tortellini first, to deglaze the pan. Now add your butter and flour to get a rue going. Given the chicken bits are in your rue it will look darker but stir until you get a nice paste. Slowly pour in the milk stirring continuously. I let it thicken up a little bit and then added about a cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Again once you get your rue, you can make more or less sauce by adding only the milk/cream amount you like. If it gets too thick, add some stock, pasta water or even milk. Add your peas and your cut chicken breasts. Stir
3. Cook your Tortellini until al dente. I chose to pour my sauce mixture over the top versus incorporating them into the sauce with everything else. The reason is that I have had some ravioli or tortellini bust open on me during the stir. I just stirred it while in my bowl.