Oct 182016

I go to Trader Joe’s once a month. Generally I skip a lot of the produce there because it’s really expensive and nothing special. I just don’t see the worth in it. I can get similar organic produce at my Fred Meyer. And during the summer I usually buy my produce at a local farm stand by the house.

But Trader Joe’s is the perfect spot for specialty items.

I generally buy most of my cheese at TJ’s. You can try tons of different kind of fun flavored cheeses and it’s not that expensive! Definitely my favorite go-to cheese spot. And if I’m craving Indian food, I love the TJ options.


Some of my favorite TJ finds that I get every time: 

  • The Vegetable Masala Burger (these veggie burgers are DELICIOUS!! and only 140 calories)
  • Kefir
  • Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (great for on top of steaks or in salads)
  • TJ smoked Gouda slices (great for snacks and only 100 calories)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cubed butternut squash (because I’m lazy)


  • The fingerling potatoes are super cheap at TJ’s and delicious with breakfast
  • A big bag of kale
  • Chocolate
  • TJ pizza dough (I buy a bag every time I go and throw it in the freezer for the next time we want homemade pizza)

New to me this trip:

  • Riced Cauliflower – after hearing about this for like a year I finally decided to buy a bag and see what all the fuss is about
  • Buttermilk biscuits
  • Cinnamon instant oatmeal
  • Tri-colored carrots (I know they’re just regular carrots, I got taken in by the purple ones–what can I say?)

So after my grocery visit I whipped up lunch while Logan took a nap. Roasted butternut squash, sliced apple and a slice of Smoked Gouda cheese. It hit the spot on the gray, rainy day.


Portland was hit with some stormy weather this weekend. I was glad I went out in the morning to get my grocery shopping finished before the wind and rain got really bad. (The so-called storm of the century never really hit, by the way.)

I was craving some comfort food. After a week of being sick and the rainy Fall weather, all I wanted was some soup and biscuits. I made the buttermilk biscuits from Trader Joe’s and then this soup:


The mixture made a ton of food! But that was good for lunches for the week. And I froze a ridiculous amount. Seriously, make this if you have to feed 10 people!


Yes, I did use the “good” wine in this recipe! The only change I made to the recipe was using spicy sausage instead of mild. Because we always like spicy more than “mild”!

Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Biscuits:


Damn, these biscuits are to die for.

I ended up leaving out the zucchini at Michael’s request. After eating the soup I agreed that the zucchini would be a weird addition, even though it called for it.


I don’t know that I’m a good critic of this soup because I’ve been sick with a head cold turned sinus infection turned bronchitis…I asked Michael what he thought of the soup because it tasted “bland” to me…and he was like “um it tastes like fire”…so yeah. 😉 Not a good gauge. But I will say that it felt very hearty and filling and healthy. And the biscuits were the perfect addition!

What are your favorite must-have Trader Joe’s items?

Oct 172016

When we were in Hood River I really wanted to go apple picking. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but have never done. I thought it would be a nice way to spend a Fall day with the little guy. That didn’t quite happen. It sounded good in my mind but the logistics just weren’t on our side this outing so instead of picking apples, I bought some at a fruit stand in the Fruit Loop.

When we got home I got set up to make applesauce with the 4 pounds of apples I bought in Hood River. I had my little pumpkin to keep me company while I made it.



I got a mixture of apples–mostly honeycrisp but I got a few golden delicious too. I also used one leftover jazz apple to round out the weight to 4 pounds.

When I saw the recipe I planned on using called for 4 pounds of apples I was a little intimidated. That sounded like SO MANY APPLES! But it really wasn’t a ton. Here are four pounds:


So basically a big bowl of them!

I washed and cored the apples and then chopped them up into chunks where they went into the crockpot and nearly filled it to the brim.


I decided to do the High setting for three hours since I didn’t have a ton of time to do it on the low setting for 6 hours. It was a good call. I don’t know that it changed the flavor or texture by doing it high so it was just easier to do it faster!


Since I was home I occasionally stirred the mixture (about once or twice an hour). As the apples started to soften and cook they smelled so good. It smelled like apple pie baking in my kitchen!!

I used the tomato press/food mill that I have and it worked great. The texture of the apples was pretty soft but it wasn’t applesauce consistency yet so I’m glad I used the food mill. Plus it got out 90% of the apple skins. I ran the pulp and skins through the mill two more times after the sauce was done and got more applesauce out of it.


I didn’t have the time or desire to can the applesauce so I put some in a jar to eat immediately and I had two freezer containers that I filled 3/4 to the top and then froze.


I really hope freezing it works well!


The flavors of the applesauce are subtle and flavorful but not too sweet. It definitely tastes way better than the store bought applesauce. Plus it was so easy! I definitely plan on doing this again and making my own applesauce. And next time I will try to can them and maybe give them away as gifts.


It was so much fun to make applesauce from scratch. And it felt like such a Fall thing to do. 🙂

Now for the recipe:

Crockpot Applesauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes


  • 4 pounds apples
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (or 3 tablespoons honey)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Wash the apples. If they feel waxy, scrub with brush. Cut into slices or chunks no thicker than 3/4 inch.
  2. Put prepped apple pieces into the slow cooker and mix them with the other ingredients. If you use honey instead of sugar, dissolve in the water separately before adding to the apples.
  3. Pour everything over the apples and stir.
  4. Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  5. Depending on the consistency you like, run apples through food mill. If you want extra smooth applesauce, puree in food processor or blender.
  6. To freeze, transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags, removing excess air. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  7. To can applesauce: fill clean pint or half pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space between the top of the food and the rims of the jar. Use a butter knife or spoon to release air bubbles. Wipe off rims, fasten canning lids, process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

I tried to find the source for this recipe to link to it here but for the life of me I can’t find the website where I got the recipe from! It was a great recipe, though. I liked that it had very few ingredients and that it only called for 1/4 cup light brown sugar. Some of the recipes I saw online called for a lot of sugar, which I didn’t want to do.

Anyways, this recipe was a winner! And it was really easy! Give it a try!