Trader Gross

It's been a wild week at work, so I haven't had time yet to take my new Kitchen Aid mixer out for a spin. Its sitting there on my kitchen counter, quietly, shining away.

In the mean time, with no time for real cooking, I've been raiding my stockpile from our new Trader Joe's, here in New York City.

On Tuesday night, I got home late. Walking up to my apartment, I smelled Indian food. I think someone had just had Chicken Masala delivered and I was jealous. I was too hungry to wait for delivery and then I remembered: I had Trader Joe's Palak Paneer in the freezer. I tore open the package and it got scary right away. The palak paneer was inside a long thin metal envelope, like astronaut food. I couldn't tear into it with my hands and it was even some tough going for my kitchen scissors.

Once I it out of the package, I knew I wouldn't be happy with this dinner. It was a disgusting brackish green color with little chunks of cheese sticking out. The long thin ice cube of curry was a weird shape too: too wide for any bowl I had handy and I thought if I microwaved it on a plate it could drip all over the inside of the microwave. Also, there wasn't any rice! I've learned that you need to pay careful attention to the frozen "meals" sold at Trader Joe's. Some come with rice or other sides and other's don't. Maybe selling curry without rice is part of what helps them keep the prices down.

I went ahead with microwaving it on a plate. I followed the directions on the packaging. It was still frozen solid, which is odd for my microwave since it's super strong. I keep microwaving away until the flat spinach iceberg gave up and melted.

It looked terrible and tasted worse. I've grown to appreciate super hot currys. R* grew up eating them at home in the UK and he's sweetly coached me on how to enjoy the spicy stuff. This palak paneer is not that. From the one tiny taste I could swallow it was just burning pepper hot with no nuance and no creaminess from the cheese. Just one look at it and R* said he didn't want to taste. Maybe some rice could have tamed it a bit, but I wasn't going to bother. I flushed it.

Next up: Since I bashed TJ's here, come back soon and I'll post on how much I love their brownie mix (see photo).


Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Carrot Cake is my brother B's favorite and Wegmans makes a great one. This Easter, I decided to try to make my own, instead. I used this Everyday Food recipe. I like the baking recipes from Everyday Food because they are straight forward and don't require too much precision. My other brother M and I had fun making these and taking photos every step of the way.

I lost the bag of coconut somehow, but we went ahead and baked these without it. I think they came out okay. They seemed a bit eggy, where they might have been more cake-like. Also, since the only spice in them is allspice, their flavor is a bit one note. Some pineapple chunks or cinnamon or ginger might make these more exciting.

While we were baking M said he never knows how much batter to put in the cupcake papers to make the cupcakes look pretty. I agreed. I think I underfilled the cups this time. I should have baked one test cupcake first and then filled the rest of the cups according to my findings, but instead I just filled up the rest of the cups with extra cream cheese icing.

The icing -- just cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar with some vanilla -- was delicious.

Thank you, Easter Bunny

R* and I went to my hometown of Lower Nazareth, PA this weekend to visit my parents and two brothers for the Easter holiday. Just as we had done for Black Friday and After-Christmas, we stopped by Kohl's to see what's on sale. They, again, had a big tempting display of Kitchen Aid mixers on sale. Just before I got to Kohl's, I had read that two other food bloggers just bought mixers and I read about this tour that David Lebovitz took.

So, after much thought (is there enough room in our small apartment kitchen? how much will I really use it? what color should I choose?) and a nudge from my mom, I bought my mixer in Onxy Black.

I wanted to tear it out of the box and start mixing at my parent's house, but I was quickly reminded that if I took it out of the box, I would risk loosing parts or scratching its perfect shiny finish. I had to content myself with the small cook book and brochures that came with it. Sadly, the recipe book that came in the box stinks. Most of the recipes in the book seem to be sponsored by food companies and none of them show pictures of the mixer in action. I surely wasn't going to make a Jif peanut butter and bacon pie as my first .

Its sitting on my counter, like a brand-new car in the garage, wanting for me to run it through its paces. I want first time using the mixer to be something exciting and fun, something that really shows off it's chops, but since this is a busy week at work, it can't be something that takes too much time or a lot of fancy ingredients.

Does anyone have some recipes to suggest? And, does anyone have any options about the pasta making attachments that can be added to the Kitchen Aid?