Smoked Salmon Snow Peas

Smokes Salmon Snow Peas

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Trader Joe’s? Roughly 3000 times you say? Well, brace yourself, here’s yet another reason why TJ’s is my favorite starving artist go-to. I love me some smoked salmon. In heaven I will eat a toasted bagel with cream cheese and lox every single day of eternity. Unfortunately, back in the mortal realm, smoked salmon is one of those pricey pay day items that requires a paycheck and some serious convincing. At least that’s what I thought until I discovered Trader Joe’s smoked sockeye salmon in a single pack for $4.99. At around 100 calories for the entire pack, it’s small enough to eat as the star of one’s dinner, but big enough that you could stretch it out for a tray of appetizers for a few friends.

For me I would just eat it straight from the package for an afternoon snack or throw it into some scrambled eggs for a light and protein-filled dinner. As an appetizer my default would be to reach for the Carr’s table water crackers, Philadelphia cream cheese, and capers… but I am far more conscious of my health these days and am always looking for ways to snack without too much danger (i.e. dairy and wheat). So, when I discovered that I had a bag of snow peas (also from TJ’s) in my fridge I thought, yes: crunch, flavor, nutrition, zero guilt, done. I simply took one or two peas and wrapped them in one of the thinly sliced pieces of fish. Cheap elegance. Now of course you very well could smear some cream cheese on these bad boys and no one would be upset. Or you could skip the cream cheese and dip them into soy sauce just like sushi…. or both…. mmmm….. And the good news is if you have more than a few friends to feed, it’s only $5 to buy a second pack. How could you go wrong? This is all yet more evidence that Trader Joe’s is likely a front for human trafficking or giant drug empire, but it’s so fantastic and affordable that we’re all just not questioning it.

Any other quick healthy snack ideas out there?

**Disclaimer: TJ’s is notorious for randomly not having items for indiscriminate spans of time (at least at the location near me). I’ve definitely gone for weeks without seeing the single, but it always comes back. The price may also go as high as $5.99 – still a bargain in my book.

Salvaging Pot Stickers

BurnedPotstickersSo do you ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong, including the dinner that you’ve made perfectly 100 times before? This happened to my roommate last night. She was in the mood for one of her quick go-tos, Trader Joe’s vegetable pot stickers. So, she prepared them how she always prepares them and for some reason, this time, they got scorched. And I mean like, open the window the smoke alarm is going off scorched. Bummer (and kind of hilarious). Even though she was laughing, the roommate was not quite in the mood for me to turn this into a blogging opportunity (which, clearly I have). So, we collectively came up with a list of things that could be done with these scorched pot stickers. After all, the starving artist is nothing if not resourceful.

Solutions for scorched pot stickers. By Dave and Anna.

1. Go f*** yourself.

2. Take a knife and attempt to scrape off the burned edges. After the third pot sticker falls apart into a messy, charred pile, dissolve into tears while realizing just how alone you are.

3. Scoop out the filling from each of the stickers and discard any burned portions of the shell. Mush all of them into a patty. Fry both sides (this time without burning) and eat with the sticker sauce. Or, instead of a patty, just simply toss with shredded cabbage, lettuce, green onion, and the sauce, and enjoy a light lovely meal.

4. After realizing the stickers are scorched, calmly turn off the heat and leave the stickers in the pan. Go to Chipotle.

The End.

Happy Friday, everyone!!

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable Soup

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable SoupI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if the starving artist has one best friend, it is soup. Bang for your buck, hearty, delicious, and (usually) really healthy. This week I’ve been racking my brain as to what I could cook for dinner that won’t completely destroy all my healthy efforts but is also not a salad or scrambled eggs…. yes, this is what my life has come to.

Vegetables are of course the go to when trying to maintain or improve one’s figure, but come on, how many salads can one consume before having a psychotic breakdown? Now ROASTING vegetables is something I can get behind. The depth of flavor one gets is amazing, but aside from tossing them with brown rice, you can’t really  make a meal of a plate of vegetables…. and then it hit me. There’s a restaurant near me, Tender Greens, that makes soup out of their seasoned grilled veggies. Why not do the same thing here, except up the flavor quotient by using curry powder and some coconut cream. Well, let me tell you, the outcome is one tasty friggin’ soup that is completely vegan and completely amazing.

It’s super easy – all it entails is roasted a few pans of your favorite vegetables, then bringing them to a simmer in a broth made of Trader Joe’s vegetable stock, Trader Joe’s coconut cream, and a few spices. Then you puree and voila, a hearty meal to keep you energized and full without the guilt. Check out the recipe below.

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable Soup (Recipe PDF)

For the record, I wish I took the photo before I pureed the soup just so you could see all the colors and big chunks of vegetables. Trust me, it’s good stuff.

Also, I have not forgotten about valentine’s day. Look for a v-day post from me on here tomorrow – and don’t worry, there will be nothing heart-shaped coming out of this kitchen! In the meantime check out my facebook and twitter for fun v-day recipes I’ve been finding, like better-than-sex Chex mix. Any excuse for chocolate is ok in my book.

Sexy Shrimp Carbonara

**WARNING: excessive bacon fat and cholesterol follow**

At the beginning of this week, a rare and beautiful thing happened. I was down at the bottom of the financial barrel, waiting for a check in the mail. I went to check my bank account before buying a few groceries. To my astonishment, my bank account balance had shot up into the 4-digit range. Baffled, I looked into the transaction history to see a deposit from ASCAP – my very first royalty payment from my first feature film. What a miracle. Could not have come at a better time.

Of course, this called for a celebration. And how does the starving artist celebrate? Food, of course. One of my favorite indulgences is carbonara, which is essentially bacon, eggs, and cheese. What could possibly be bad about that? Not only is it wildly unhealthy, but it is not really that cheap, particularly when you’re adding shrimp. This is what I call a “payday” recipe – the kind of recipe you make when you’ve just gotten paid and have a little extra money to burn. But I’m still the starving artist – payday doesn’t mean you have to spend ALL your money. Pasta is always cheap, the cheese I got fresh at Trader Joe’s for $4, eggs were on sale for $2/dozen, and the shrimp I got from my local market for $8.99/pound. Is it the best quality shrimp ever? No, but it is by no means the worst and worked brilliantly in this dish. And speaking of cheese, never EVER use the cheese in the green can you find on the same shelf as the pasta. If you’re going to do that, you may as well just make some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and call it a night. Fresh grated cheese is always always worth the extra cost. Many grocery stores will grate their own cheese and sell it in plastic containers either in their fresh/gourmet cheese display or with the pre-packaged cheeses and usually for a really reasonable price. Trader Joe’s is great for this, of course. Also, you may find recipes that call for cream – I call BS. Unneeded. Copout.

Moral of the story: this recipe is a knockout. And the good news is that you can just leave the shrimp out entirely. Not only would that make it an everyday kind of recipe, you’d still have an outstanding meal you could use to get yourself a husband. And believe me, this recipe is a husband finder: rich, gooey, full of bacon….  honestly I can only make this dish for special occasions because every time I eat it I feel like years are being shaved off the end of my life. It’s THAT rich and indulgent. But honestly? It’s kind of worth it. ;-)

Sexy Shrimp Carbonara (Recipe PDF)

Peaches and Cream

Ok, it’s not actually cream, it’s Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and a dash of vanilla extract. But that would be an awful title. I gotta be honest I’ve not always been the biggest peach fan. Maybe it’s the yankee in me (and by yankee I mean northerner, not the baseball team). But, when they are in season, super ripe, and sprinkled with a bit of maple sugar, they’re utterly divine.

I bought a bag of them at Trader Joe’s last week and forgot about them until just a few days ago. Nearing the overripe stage, I decided it would be best if I put them to use all at once. What better excuse to use butter. I took out my cast iron skillet, got it heating on the stove. I cored and sliced 4 medium peaches. Placed 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and let it get melted and hot. I got the peaches in a pan in an even layer,  sprinkled 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar evenly over the top and let them ride. Once they were brown and syrupy on the bottom, I used my spatula to flip them over and do the same on the other side. Then it was into my bowl and topped with the aforementioned yogurt. A splendid breakfast.

Obviously my peaches were still pretty hot, hence why the yogurt got a bit soupy. Next time I’ll let them cool a bit. Still super yummy, though.