Despite recipes built around Trader Joe’s offerings, all necessary ingredients can be found at the local grocery store, and the final results are still delicious.
Pounds of spaghetti and puddles of olive oil covered the floor. The sink overflowed with dishes. Yet, despite the disaster zone that was the kitchen, we’d do it again. And again.
Last week, The Temple News received the “I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook,” and we decided, due to the apparent lack of a Trader Joe’s within the vicinity, to make the Fresh Grocer version of some of the recipes.
We started with the Olive Focaccia, which was supposed to just be dough, olive oil, olive spread and sliced tomatoes. But a block of fresh mozzarella later, we ended with a gooey white pizza. So, for our version, we recommend you do the same. You’ll need pizza dough–which you can find in FroGro–olive tapenade or chopped olives, olive oil, a tomato and a ton of cheese. Go wild with the last ingredient. After kneading the dough with any variant of flour you have around your kitchen (Bisquick, in our case), spread it on an olive-oil-and-chopped-olive-coated pan, layer more olives, then cheese, then thinly sliced tomatoes, and then more cheese. Pop it in the oven until the dough is fully cooked (approximately 25 minutes), then broil for two more minutes to bubble and brown the cheese. Enjoy, you’re welcome.
When you’re at the grocery store, be sure to grab another block of fresh mozzarella for the next dish–Olive Oil Spaghetti with Arugula. Don’t fear the weird vegetable, we promise it’s yummy. You’ll need a box of spaghetti, olive oil, another block of cheese, two bags of arugula, Italian dressing and some crushed chili peppers. While you’re boiling the spaghetti, cook the arugula in one-fourth cup olive oil and one-fourth cup dressing. Drain the pasta when it’s ready, combine the arugula, pasta and olive oil in the pot and add cheese and pepper. Mix. Eat.
Next up was the Stuffed Baked Potatoes. If you’re confined to a microwave, this one’s for you. Bake your potatoes. Cut in half. Microwave half a container of spinach artichoke dip–we used Tostito’s–and add some more cheese of your choice. We stuck to mozzarella. Now dollop the cheesy, artichoke-y dip on the potatoes, and there you go. If you’re not into spinach artichoke dip but love potatoes, opt for the Pesto Roasted Potatoes. This time, poke holes in raw potatoes, coat in olive oil and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Then slice in half, spread a layer of pesto and throw them back in the oven for approximately 15 minutes.
If you find yourself lacking fruits and veggies, we recommend the Curried Couscous with Apples, which sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but is actually delicious and disguises fruit in a carb-y delight. Buy a box of plain couscous, cook it according to directions, except add a sprinkle of curry powder and one chopped apple. Once fully cooked, eat that sucker up.
If you still have room for dessert–which you better–keep the oven hot and get ready for some monkey bread. Two rolls of some Pillsbury cinnamon bun dough, a few Heath bars and some butter is all you need. Grab a round baking pan and coat with melted butter and crushed Heath. Break apart the dough rings and roll into little balls and put them in the pan evenly. Add more butter and Heath (no mozzarella this time) and bake according to the Pillsbury directions. Then enter into a food coma.
For these five meals and dessert, we spent approximately $40 at Fresh Grocer, and we had leftovers for our roommates. We highly recommend buying the book–you don’t even need to go to Trader Joe’s for these ingredients. Eat and be happy. And try to ignore the mess in your kitchen.
Valerie Rubinsky and Alexis Sachdev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.