New Finds and Old Favorites

I went shopping in Omaha last weekend, and really just spent way too much money.  The Engineer was working on getting a wort hog taxidermy mount sown up…..TRUE LIFE STORY, so I took his truck and drove into the big city for some shopping.  It’s probably a big relationship step when you get to leave town and drive into Omaha with your boyfriend’s truck!!

I’ve occasionally taken the truck around town at home, and usually end up driving it to the gym on weekends because it blocks my car in the garage.  This was the first time I’ve taken it out of town, down the highway, jumped on the interstate, driven in congested traffic, and had to park it in relatively crowded parking lots.  I also had to navigate a sudden lane merging around a burning semi truck that did actually cause a couple accidents around me when cars didn’t stop quick enough!  Turns out the smoldering semi trailer was full of hot dogs.  Would have been so delicious to stop and grab a snack had I known what it was at the time!

Rest assured, I didn’t hit anything!  I really only vaguely know where I’m going in Omaha, but I know just enough to get myself to the mall and to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  First stop was Trader Joe’s to restock some of our favorite things and try out some new finds.

Our must have items from Trader Joe’s!

  • Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels…..the salted kind!
  • Pork Pot Stickers
  • Hatch Chili Mac and Cheese
  • Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Last weekend’s new finds that we’ve tried!

Image result for trader joe's iced coffee concentrateIt’s such a delicate, light coconut flavor, but it’s delicious.  I wish it came in an large bottle like the regular coffee concentrate.

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Honestly, a big flavor let down.  It sounds so good, but it’s quite bland.  Not spicy, not really smokey.  It’s very sweet and does have some good peach flavor, but I wouldn’t buy it again.  Stick to the Roasted Tomatillo and Mango salsa….you’ll be happier!

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It was too cute and funny not to buy, and The Engineer likes Corona so I thought I’d give it a shot.  He drank a few, but I’m not sure he’d request I go back to the store for more.  I bought the regular, but it also comes in light and dark.

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Mostly I bought these cute little taco spice packs because I thought they would be good for camping.  They come in pretty sturdy feeling plastic baggies and seem like they would survive being tossed in with our camping cooking gear.  We tried a pack the other night for some nachos and they aren’t bad….aren’t great but like I said they will serve a good purpose for camping ease.  The instructions say half a pack of spice per pound, I’d say just use the whole pack.  It wasn’t overwhelmingly flavored at half a pack.Image result for trader joe's dog treats

Scout-A-Roo seems to have no complaints about these.  They are most dry sausage textured than jerky, but her emergency stash of treats in her travel bag needed to be filled

Things I bought but haven’t tried yet!

  • Jarred Pizza Sauce
  • Fire Roasted Diced Green Chiles

After Trader Joe’s I was off up the road a couple blocks to the Whole Foods.  Now, I had never been to a Whole Foods so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Now having gone to both I think I prefer Trader Joe’s, but only situationally.  I will say that the food court area of the Whole Foods all looked amazing, and if I had actually needed food for lunch or something to take home to make for dinner I would have been all over that area.  I did pick up a Carmelita bar from the bakery for a snack and a loaf of the Cinnamon Raisin Brioche Bread.  The Carmelita was a bit….chocolatey for my liking?!  It didn’t really taste like caramel at all which was a big disappointing, but it was still a tasty little snack.  The bread is so fluffy you might almost die!

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My actual reaction when I picked up the loaf of bread!

 

Not really as oomphy with cinnamon as I would have expected.  I bought it with intentions of freezing it and pulling it out in the future to make french toast.  I’ve since proceeded to eat most of the loaf toasted up and slathered in Kerrygold butter.  Whoops!

My best Whole Foods find was a Rebbl protein drink that I only tried because Juli at PaleOMG talks about them all the time!  I was really feeling like a health food blogger after spending most of the morning wandering around Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods getting my shopping on.  I think it’s a sign that I’m getting old and lame that buying potentially overpriced, healthy, and organic food is a major source of weekend excitement for me!

 

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My little protein pick me up was so good!  Thick and creamy, but not chalky like some protein shakes.  Little bit of coffee, little bit of protein, little bit of coconut milk which i love with my coffee…..perfect little snack to get my through my power shopping adventures!  The only major bummer is that I can’t find these at home.  Several of the HyVees in town carry Rebbl products, but I can’t find the protein drinks.  Ugh…..major buzzkiller.

If like me, you don’t live in a place big enough for a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods….but big enough for a Costco…I’ve got a tasty little find for you!

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Seriously….proceed to your nearest Costco and buy as many as your deep freeze can hold!  My only criticism is that it is a little heavy on the roasted veggies.  Great that they don’t skimp you, but I’m a roasted veggie eating machine and I could see how it could be a bit overwhelming for some people.  The Engineer and I added some frozen pepperoni before baking, because who doesn’t love a pepperoni pizza?!  If you don’t love pepperoni on your pizza we probably can’t be friends.

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#judgingyou

The pizza bakes up really nice and the crust gets nice and crispy.  If you didn’t tell someone it wasn’t a regular pizza crust I honestly don’t think they would notice.  If I had kids, this seems like an excellent way to get more veggies into them without them even knowing.  Milton brand makes several other pizza “flavors” but roasted veggie is all my Costco had stocked.  The Engineer said, “It’s not the best pizza I’ve ever had…”.  Well….it’s a frozen pizza…..none of them are ever going to be the best pizza you’ve ever had!  But, it does make a good freezer item to have on hand for rushed nights when you want pizza and you need it quick!  Would 100% buy again!!

Hopefully my little shopping adventure has given you some ideas of staples and fun new things to stock your pantry with.  I always think it’s fun to go and try out new versions of the foods we eat everyday.  You won’t find your favorite new beer or salsa if you don’t try something new.  Plus side, even less than amazeballs beer and salsa are still better than no beers and no salsa!

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Adventures in the Good Life

The Engineer and I just got home last night from another weekend down in Nebraska.  Mostly we went to see his family and so I could get some practice in shooting my broad head tipped arrows.  It’s easy to find places to practice shooting in town, but broad head practice is essential….however hard to do when you live in town.  Enter…..The Engineer’s Dad’s house and land outta town.  Plus, there were plenty of pumpkins for target practice.

Anyway, Saturday was cold and rainy, so we filled the day with shopping!!!!  It doesn’t do much for practicing “being comfortable being uncomfortable” while hunting, but when fun shopping is so close it’s hard to want to stand out in the blowing rain shooting pumpkins.   The Engineer had never been to Trader Joe’s before, so I decided he needed to experience it all, and I needed to refill on some snackies!

Remember that one time I went to Trader Joe’s and accidentally bought the unsalted peanut butter filled pretzels and they were sorta sad?!  Well, I fixed that, actually paid attention to what I was doing, and got 2 bags of the blue, salted pretzels!  We had to get 2 bags this time because The Engineer really likes peanut butter, and it was the only snack that he actually admitted that he wanted from the store.  It took him a couple minutes to warm up to the whole excitement that is Trader Joe’s…….he felt out of place amongst the hipsters and health mommas.

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SO, SO, GOOD!

I snagged a bag of trail mix, and I’m having severe regrets about not grabbing a couple more bags.  It must be their fall seasonal variety.  Actually, most of the store aisles were slightly over run with pumpkin spice-esk things.  Soups, sauces, pasta, spice mix, beer, pop tarts…..if you want it pumpkin spice flavored Trader Joe’s currently has it.  Don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin spice just fine, but I don’t necessarily need it to overrun everything in my life.  I did make an exception for Harvest Spice.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s apparently just candied pecans and cashews…..so basically…..deliciousness.  The trail mix is rounded out with almonds, dried apples, and candied ginger chunks.  The bag is basically gone after we munched on it during our running around Omaha and on the drive home.  I probably won’t make it back to Trader Joe’s before fall is over, so fingers crossed Harvest Spice sticks around into early winter!

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The Engineer really perked up when we got to the frozen section.  I had actually never seriously shopped the frozen section because I had always just been to a Trader Joe’s on vacation, but this time we came prepared!  We hauled down a cooler, mostly so we could bring back another haul of elk meat.  Couple that with the fact that instead of a hotel, we stay with him parents, and it meant that I could shop the frozen section for the first time ever!

Our frozen food finds are the orange chicken and steak and ale pies.  Orange chicken is one of The Engineer’s favorite Chinese entrees, so we snagged two bags.  He decided he wants to pair the bags with fried rice from Hy-Vee…or so I thought.  When he texted earlier and said he’d pick up rice on the way home I assumed he’d arrive with takeout boxes of rice.  Instead, he brought home a bag of rice and we had to quick whip up some fried rice….which we apparently did wrong.  It tasted alright, but got a little overcooked because we didn’t fry cold rice…….Google tells me that makes it better.  I had only had Trader Joe’s orange chicken once before, and I wasn’t a huge fan.  We whipped some up tonight with our rice and it still wasn’t my favorite.  I liked it more than I remembered, but I wouldn’t rank it as my all time favorite Chinese food.  It will probably get some jazzing up, but I think it will become a staple purchase item whenever we wind up at Trader Joe’s.

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A decent meal in a pinch, and something worth having in the freezer for lazy nights.

The steak and ale pies I decided to try.  They just looked so warm and wintery, and the box weighs about a ton so I’m assuming each pie is very well stuffed.  Also, my mild to moderate obsession with The Great British Baking Show, Marry Berry, and Paul Hollywood has me convinced that savory pies are a thing I need in my life.  They are always making these great King Henry VIII sized meat pie towers of delicious….I need that in my life.  I don’t even bake and I feel suddenly compelled to turn my kitchen into a prep center for some sort of great hall feast al la history books and Harry Potter!

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If you don’t watch this show, you need to!  Ready……Set…..BAKE!!!!

So……we shall start with frozen Trader Joe’s and move upward from there.  Frankly, I’m not even sure I like meat pies, and it’s much easier to find that out at this stage than halfway through feast prep!  Plus, they seem like they would go excellent with some mashed potatoes….and I’m currently rocking a slight surplus of potatoes.

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I didn’t even notice until now, but each pie is about half a pound!  Should make for a very nice, quick, winter dinner!

The last of my fall/winter snackies is a jug of apple cider.  Some nights it’s just nice to come home and mull up some cider, maybe throw in some rum, and curl up with a good book and a blanket.  I’m hopeful that this won’t be too sweet, I like my cider a bit on the tangy side, so we will try it out and see how it goes.  Worse comes to worse, just add more rum I guess!

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I rounded out the Trader Joe’s haul with a jar of my favorite salsa, the english toffee bars, and a few RX Bars.  All in all, a very successful shopping trip, and I think I converted The Engineer to the glories held within Trader Joe’s.

After Trader Joe’s, we scampered over to Cabela’s to scope out some turkey hunting supplies.  We did find a couple calls in the bargain cave, and I picked up a small multi-tool for my bow case.  I’m pretty sure I just annoyed him all the way back to Fremont trying to learn how to use my mouth call.  I’m not sure I sound very turkey-esk, but dying duck is a sound I’m pretty sure I have down.  There’s a couple weeks left of practice time, so maybe I’ll get my gobbling skills up to par.

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T minus 16 days till the season opens and 25 days until I hit the fields!!! 

 

Old Stores and New Favorites

Being gone from home lately has given me the chance to shop at some fun places we don’t have at home.  Lush, which I can order online but that’s less fun because you can’t smell through your computer, and Trader Joe’s are a couple of my favorite shopping destinations when I go to “the big city”.

Since I went to a actual Lush store twice the other week…..maybe we will start there!  My primary motivation at Lush the first time down in Omaha was getting a fun variety of bath time things for Lil B’s birthday present.  It was a super fast power shopping trip because we were on the way to The Engineer’s PE celebration dinner with his family.  Actually, his sister just dropped me off and circled the parking lot…..ain’t nobody have time to find parking at Village Point!  However, they had just released a new body wash scent, and I was super excited to try it.  Mostly because my favorite scent, Lord of Misrule, is a seasonal scent and smells more like fall and winter than it does spring and summer.  Enter…..Plum Rain!

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It’s fruity, but in a dark, adult sorta way.  That probably doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t smell like childish tutti fruity gum.  Not that there is in anyway anything wrong with that tutti fruity Fruit Stripe gum.  Actually, there is something wrong…..it’s nearly impossible to find anymore, and the flavor doesn’t last as long as I want……however I’m getting side tracked.  I find that this fragrance, compared to other Lush body washes I’ve tried, lasts much longer.  I don’t ever remember smelling Lord of Misrule or The Olive Branch on myself post shower, but Plum Rain has a nice light amount of scent that seems to cling to me.  I think this scent has been available for some time in the UK, so I’m glad I can finally get my hands on it.  I think Plum Rain and Lord of Misrule, fingers crossed they bring it back again, will be my all the time go to scents.

The second trip to Lush was more of a casual shopping stop.  A coworker and I were in Minneapolis for a conference, we just got there a little early so we could shop!  She has two little girls who love the Lush bubble bars, so we stopped in so she could restock.  While wandering around the store I found a new body scrub and figured I’d give it a try.

 

I’ve tried the Ocean Salt scrub before, and just thought a change would be nice.  However, I’m not in love with the Rub Rub Rub scent.  I got a little bit of scent overload in the store, but thought that I would like this.  Once I got home, it’s a little too flowery for my liking.  I mean, it’s not bad, just not something I’d choose again.  I defiantly find the Ocean Salt scent to be more refreshing and neutral.  However, I do like that Rub Rub Rub has some bubble to it.  Scrub and body wash in one is a hard combo to beat.  Honestly, if they offered it in another scent I would be all about trying it.

Big city shopping trip number two was Trader Joe’s.  I feel like people who have Trader Joe’s near them don’t appreciate them the way they should….they are amazeballs!  The only down side is that I’m always traveling when I’m at one, so I can’t really explore the frozen or fresh sections of the store.  All that untapped potential!!

Since I have to mostly purchase dry goods…..I stick mostly to snackies.

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So in looking for a picture of my peanut butter pretzels I discovered I just grabbed the wrong color bag.  THE RED BAG IS UNSALTED!  Not that unsalted, peanut butter pretzels are the worst thing, but they certainly aren’t the best thing either.  They will definitely leave you feeling like they are missing something…..SALT…..but are a good snack to have around anyway.  I don’t love peanut butter, and these aren’t over powering…..although next time I will for sure be grabbing the BLUE BAG!

Since The Engineer was home watching the tiny, furry, terrorist, I thought he could use a couple yummy presents.  Since he pretty much eats what I eat, it wasn’t too hard coming up with some must have items.

 

I had previously grabbed a BBQ sauce here in town that’s a little too on the hot side for The Engineer.  We haven’t tried the Kentucky bourbon sauce yet, but reading over the ingredients doesn’t lead one to believe that it will be super hot.  We made some chicken, pepper, and pineapple hobo grill pouches a couple weeks ago and it should go well with that when we make them again.  The ginger beer was a fairly obvious choice.  However, in googling ways to reign in our budgets I was curious about the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale.  Turns out one is brewed and one is not, but all my research seemed to say that if you weren’t buying sorta artisanal, hipster, still cloudy in the bottle ginger beer…..it probably isn’t all that different from ginger ale.  All that is to say that I bought some ginger ale to make mules with….and he hated it.  So, since the Trader Joe’s bottles said “brewed” and it looked a little cloudy I figured it was worth trying.  I haven’t tried it, but The Engineer did.  I’m not sure that he was wowed enough by it for us to stock pile it, but it was probably a nice change from the diet stuff I usually keep in the house.

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Since I was going to be spending long days sitting at a conference with limited and generally crappy coffee, I grabbed a couple of these little guys to get me through the morning.  Plus side, they are small cans so they tucked right into my wristlet.  Down side, they are small…and a small coffee is never super ideal.  Some coffee is always better than no coffee though!

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My last Trader Joe’s purchase was a couple RX bars.  Basically, they are a quick and easy meal or snack bar, but they are are free from any extra junk.  My coworker likes them, and started eating them because most of the flavors are Whole 30 compliant.  So, I decided to give a couple a shot.  It’s always good to have a quick and easy grab and go something laying around the house.  I tried the Coconut Chocolate and the Chocolate Sea Salt.  I was anticipating that the Chocolate Sea Salt would be my least favorite, but I was wrong.  I’m generally not a huge fan of chocolate, but those I would definitely purchase again.  I’m on the fence about the coconut.  It wasn’t good…..but it also wasn’t bad.  The main win about buying these at Trader Joe’s is that they are WAY CHEAPER than I can purchase them here in town.  I believe that the bars were $1.60ish a piece at Joe’s……here at my local grocery store they are ALMOST $4!!!.  Get your crap together Hyvee!!!!

I also picked up a couple staples……the english toffee and the roasted tomatillo and mango salsa…..so good!  I grab them every time I go.  Hopefully, now that I’m headed down to the Omaha area more often with The Engineer, I’ll be able to hit up Lush and Trader Joe’s more often and keep trying some fun new things.  Life is too short to not try new things!

Trader Joe’s Mini Haul

I spent the first part of the week in Omaha at the annual Fuel Ethanol Laboratory Conference.  Before we got down to the business of wasting time and drinking coffee at the conference, we shopped.  There’s a rather extensive outlet mall outside of Omaha that I had never been to, so that was a bit of an adventure in shopping and savings.  After the outlet mall, we all headed to Trader Joe’s, which is maybe one of my favorite places to wander and shop.  Sometime’s it’s just nice to buy things you don’t have the opportunity to buy at home, and to try some fun and random new things.

Full disclosure, these aren’t my photos….because I didn’t think of doing this until after I had already torn through some of my purchases.  I can’t help it….I get excited about things!

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Every once in awhile, I like lemon curd on toast.  So, I finally decided I should buy some for the house!  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure it’s good.  Honestly, I’ve never bought anything from Joe’s that I didn’t like.

 

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This is possibly my favorite Trader Joe’s treat.  Tastes almost exactly like what Momma MisHappenings makes for Christmas except that we use pecans instead of the almonds that coat these little beauties.  Plus side, after you eat the large toffee chunks, you’re left with delightful crumbles of chocolate, toffee, and almonds that are great on ice cream, granola, a fruit crisp…..honestly the possibilities are endlessly delicious!

 

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I don’t ever particularly like chocolate, but these little morsels of caffeine just hit the spot!

 

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I LOVE BOXWOOD!

Boxwood’s might honestly be my favorite plant.  They smell good, they are a nice little shrubbery, and I pretty much think they are the best things ever!  So, I of course had to buy a wreath to hang on my gate.  I think my coworkers maybe thought I was insane, but I really don’t care.  Nothing gets in the way of me and my festiveness!!

 

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This was a new purchase, but I’m glad I threw it into the mix.  A good amount of tangy and spicy.  It’s also a good texture.  I don’t like a super soupy salsa, but I also don’t love having to eat it like a meal.  I’m not sure that it really tastes all that mango-y to me.  It’s definitely more of a traditional salsa than a fruit salsa.

 

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I have yet to figure out how to make myself a proper iced coffee at home.  Usually, I just resort to pouring cold coffee that I probably brewed the day before over ice and calling it good.  This coffee concentrate makes a much better iced coffee.  I like mixing it with coconut milk for a slightly favored morning caffeine-y treat!

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These did not survive the trip back from Omaha…..I got the bored hotel munchies.  Oopsy! Honestly, there isn’t much to say about this.  If you like coconut you really can’t go wrong with these!

 

I also got a few other things that I’m not at liberty to discuss at this time.  With that said, back to the Christmas knitting I go!