Main Courses

Gourmet Pizza in a Pinch a la Trader Joe’s

I absolutely LOVE to entertain my family and friends!

Sometimes I’m really in the mood to whip up something that entails about fourteen trips to the grocery store (even with a list, I tend to forget things) two days of prep work and then, occasionally a “do over”.

Other times (more often than not) I want something as utterly FABULOUS as it is delicious AND easy!

I spend enough time running around like a crazy person as it is. So when it’s time for fun with friends and family I want to enjoy it (not be so tired that I’m tempted to sneak away and crawl into my favorite jammies before the night is done).

But I have found that I have a secret weapon….Trader Joe’s.

It is my stand by for easy, scrumptious, fast and FABULOUS.

These are the simple ingredients.

  • Mozzarella
  • Fire Roasted Red Peppers
  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  • Pitted Kalamata Olives

Now, the most complicated part is…

-drum roll please-

Take the Pizza dough out of the fridge  20 minutes before rolling.  Really, honestly and truly, that is the most difficult part.

Because I always forget.

While the dough is getting to room temp,  prepare the other 3 ingredients-

  • Slice the mozzarella into flat medallions.
  • Drain the fire roasted red peppers and slice into long, thin, strips.
  • Drain the Kalamata olives and slice or you can leave them whole if you like.

Now for the fun part.

  • Sprinkle flour on your work surface, roll the dough into 1/4 inch thickness. I buy the whole wheat, it’s SO GOOD and my girlies who usually turn their noses up at anything whole wheat, love it!
  • Now continue rolling- I like a rectangle shape- but a circle is fine.
  • Place the dough on a greased pan.
  • Next, brush the dough with some olive oil.

I LOVE olive oil- and I always have it on hand. Married to that delicious Greek, ya know, comes with the territory  (and it’s good as a hair mask…just an FYI).


After brushing on the olive oil, place the yummy mozzarella all over the dough.

It will bubble and melt into little divine, gooey puddles of deliciousness.

I’m drooling…

OK… focus!

  • Next, arrange the roasted red peppers and kalamata olives all over the mozzarella.
  • Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and even some oregano if you happen to have it.
  • Place the pizza in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes. (my oven is screwy, so my pizza took 15 minutes)

Then get ready for all of the “oooooooh’s and aaaaaaaaah’s” and “How long did it take you? It’s so beautiful!!”

Simply smile and reply, “Oh not too terribly long. I wanted to make something special for you-you’re worth it.”

(You can thank me later)

And that my friend is how to make a gourmet pizza in a pinch!


Soups & Salads

Dinner’s in the bag with Trader Joe’s

Honestly, I can’t even remember how many years I’ve been frequenting my local Trader Joe’s. But what I do know for sure is that I DO LOVE my Beloved Trader Joe’s. And what’s not to love? It’s a fun, friendly, customer always comes first kinda place- full of delicious, quick and easy meals. They also do their part in keeping their prices low, have yummy food sampling every day and encourage customers to bring their own grocery bag…

a bag that earns you a ticket in the monthly $25 worth of groceries drawing.

I have been trying to win this drawing for however-many-years that I have been happily shopping there. EVERY time I say, “one of these days I’M going to win this!”

Literally, out loud I say, “I’m going to win this”.

As a side note, I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking! Life’s too short to be all crabby and crotchety. I believe in making a conscious effort to be happy…  I am truly an optimist, – I love to come across a really grumpy stranger in the course of my day and see if I can make them smile! If you BELIEVE… you WILL …and guess what I get the front spot almost every time.

With that being said, I was in the throngs of trying to get this blog up (with the generous help of My Yanni, my husband, and well…enough said) which was really fun and exciting, but at the same time reminded me a bit of childbirth…only without the epidural.

So maybe…just maybe…I was a bit optimistically challenged – temporarily.

And I was sick, and it was Spring Break and we were on a staycation, and I was sick and it was Spring Break…(as in the kids were home and bored and the ONLY ones that didn’t go anyplace).

So, I took my 9 year old daughter, Sweet Cheeks, with me for a quick run to Trader Joe’s and was reminded that it would be the LAST time that they would ever do the $25 grocery drawing EVER! I looked at Sweet Cheeks and she said ,(before I could coo out my usual, “I’m going to win this…” ) “I know, I know, ‘you’re going to win it'”… with that, I’ve heard this a million times tone.

And with that, we were on our way.

A week later (on April Fool’s Day of all days) I received the phone call.

I had won the drawing. There were over 900 tickets. And I had won the very… last… drawing.

You would have thought that I’d won the lotto.

I kid you not.

But in more ways than one, it was another example to my children (and to myself) that the power of positive thinking is alive and well.

AND this is were I parked when I went to collect my $25 worth of groceries (plus all the other things that I just couldn’t live without!).

Did you notice?….front spot.

Now I can’t take you all the way to Traders Joe’s and not a share a delicious, simple, easy and pocketbook friendly favorite recipe, can I?

It’s been a family staple, I call it Chicken Corn Chowder.

Well…here it is-

These are the ingredients

Now, I’ll go slow, this gets a little tricky.

Open cans and drain.

Put in pot.

Pour in box of soup.

Heat up.

Are you still with me?

Oh, yeah – add the chili pepper sauce a few drops at a time until you achieve desired heat.

And I like it HOT like My Yanni.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

It’s as simple as that!

And boy is it DELISH! Even my picky kids love it! A one stop shopping PLUS a one pot meal!

Garnish with Trader Joe’s baked chips.

I’m happy! Are you happy?!

In the days and weeks to come, I will be sharing many of my favorite things with all of you. Things that make my journey in “perfecting the art of life in suburbia” a little easier. Trader Joe’s is DEFINITELY one of them!

Enjoy and may you have the front spot every time,