Trader Joe’s Taste Testing- Fall Holiday Sides!

Ever walk down the aisles at the store and wonder… “Wouldn’t it be easier and taste just as good to use the pre-cooked side dishes from my favorite grocery store?”

Don’t. Make your own. Unless, you don’t mind settling for sides that are less than okay.

Case in point:

IMG_9134Cauliflower Au Gratin with Gruyere Sauce and Parmesan Breadcrumbs

IMG_9135Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans

IMG_9155Trader Joe’s Ready to Use Turkey Gravy

 

Again, don’t. Just… no. In very little time, you to peel, cube, and roast a couple of sweet potatoes, drizzle with your own maple syrup or sprinkle on brown sugar, and this will taste WORLDS better, the texture will be FAR superior, and you will spend maybe a third of the price. As for the cauliflower– well, it didn’t taste bad (neither did it taste good), but the vegetable was buried under about three times as much crumb topping as needed. Oddly enough, both packages of sides seemed under cooked, even though I followed the directions for time and temperature.

The gravy. Ummm… what to say. Not much turkey flavor, not horrible, but I wouldn’t buy it again or use it again. Ever. This product simply does not taste good. I’d rather mix up the McCormick’s envelope from the seasoning section of the supermarket. I would drink up a pot full of gravy from a straw, and I will not touch the Trader Joe’s gravy with a ten foot pole.

I love my Trader Joe’s stores, and rarely find something I dislike, or dislike this much. I’m glad I gave these a try, it was worth the price to try something new, and gratifying to know that a simple home made recipe is so much better. Save yourself the scratch. Make simple sides from scratch.

Got a Little Time to Cook? Simple Recipe Suggestions:

AllRecipes.com Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme and Maple Syrup

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Got a Little More Time to Cook: Still Somewhat Simple Suggestion:

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

 

New Menu Monday- Meatloaf Swapped for Swedish Meatballs, HOLY YUM!!

img_6277
Screenshot of DamnDelicious.net Click to link to her Swedish Meatball recipe!

The blog Damn Delicious is aptly named. Go there now. Pin, bookmark, share on Facebook, save this recipe however you can, but keep this recipe. Even more importantly, MAKE IT SOON!  http://damndelicious.net/2014/02/21/swedish-meatballs/

Swedish Meatballs swimming in perfect gravy, served with broccoli.
Swedish Meatballs swimming in perfect gravy, served with broccoli.

DamDelicious.net is run by Chung-Ah, who does not profess to be a trained cook. Well, this gal has taught herself well and paid great attention to anyone who and anything that ever taught her to appreciate food and its preparation.

I can’t believe that this came out looking as good IRL as her recipe looks online! And HOLY COW this was good. If a meal has noodles, sauce and meat, it is instantly one of my favorites. Four out of five of us loved it- The Boy (The Dissenter) thought it had too many onions, The Boyfriend loved it despite the onions. The Husband raved, The Girl was still praising these meatballs over two hours later.

I followed the recipe exactly with one change and one mistake- I added a couple of teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and accidentally added two whole eggs instead of just two egg yolks. I bet my meatballs would have been less tough with just yolks… but that is really nit-picking. This was Damn Delicious!

If you want to fuss with making meatballs (does 20 minutes of scooping and rolling count as a fuss?), make this recipe. Big tip- use a cookie scoop and they will halfway make themselves. Mine is a two tablespoon scoop that I use for cookies, and I found it a perfect helper. The other kitchen tip is use a cast iron skillet- this one is my 12″ pan and I swear by it.

Look at all that lucious GRAVY!!!!!
Look at all that lucious GRAVY!!!!!