best of trader joe's series: part 1

trader joe's is easily my favorite grocery store. everything is fresh and natural and surprisingly inexpensive for the quality you get. i love the small town, farmers market feel and the checkout stations named after local beaches. i love the fresh flowers and the sample booth and the hand written display cards. it's charming and delicious and today i am sharing with you some of my most favorite finds.

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mandarin orange chicken

this is david's most favorite orange chicken of all time, which is saying something because he really has an affinity for chinese food. this stuff is good! the official cooking directions give two options: pan fry or bake. but trust me on this, pan frying is the way to go. i use vegetable oil and toss the chicken around in it for around 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is fork tender/unfrozen. then i add the sauce, turn the heat down, cover, and let it hang out for another 10-15 more minutes. this allows the sauce to caramelize and get all yummy. we serve it with white or brown rice and it never lasts long. and it's cheap. winner winner orange chicken dinner.

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kettle corn

i think the description probably says it all...this really is a perfect blend of sweet and salty. and it's not a ton of calories either (under 200 for 2 cups, i'm down) so it's guilt-free snacking. i loved this when i was pregnant with ava and could still power through a whole bag in under 24 hours. it's about $2 for a decent sized bag.

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thai green curry simmer sauce

we had this for dinner just last night and it's a winner. it's not too curry-ey, my picky eater husband ate it happily. i am super lazy and i love my crock pot, so i modified the directions by chopping up an onion and two bell peppers and putting them in a crock pot with three frozen chicken breasts and about a half cup of chicken broth (plus salt and pepper, but of course!) i let this cook on high for about five hours and then shredded the chicken and added the curry cause. i let it hang out for about 10 minutes and then served it over rice and ohhhh it was good. 

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roasted plantain chips

this is david's favorite snack. if you've never had a plantain before, i dare you to try these. they are so savory and buttery tasting and they have a great texture. they are also super cheap, i think $1.50 for a bag. the other day david came home with like six bags. and they were gone before i knew it. 

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pure protein shake

i drank these when i was pregnant with ava and it obviously made all the difference because she is a genius and has never been sick ever so if you want healthy babies, you have to drink these. ha. just kidding. but these are really good! and they have like no carbs or sugar! just a ton of protein! they are pretty good straight out of the can, but if you blend a can with a banana and some ice in the blender...oh you've got yourself a delicious breakfast treat. they are a little pricey, i think about $1.30 a can.  but as far as protein shakes go, i really don't think you're going to find anything better.