How to Win Friends and Influence Others (with just 3 ingredients!)

I went to UCSD. For the most part I enjoyed it, but I sure did get myself into stressful situations! So when times got tough, I’d run to my dear Trader Joe’s arms for comfort.

And he taught me a lot. He taught me that the best thing to do during the hard times is to surround yourself with what you love and share it with friends. For me, it’s always been yummy food. And that I did.

I’ve cooked meals small and large throughout college, from comfort food to vegan fare. Simply inviting people over to eat has been a great way for me to get to know new acquaintances, celebrate with close friends, and even attract the love of my life.

Recently, I was asked to cater an event for a student organization I used to lead  and needed to come up with a semi-healthy dessert on the fly. So, for old time’s sake, I headed over to my trusty friend Trader Joe’s for some inspiration. I came up with what I thought was a simple, no-fuss dish; surprisingly, I received many requests for the recipe, introducing me to new friendships and the opportunity to spread what I love to others!

So, like the popular self-help book, you too can win friends and influence others with just 3 ingredients from Trader Joe’s.

Vanilla Berry Crumble

Ingredients:
– 1 package Trader Joe’s Ultimate Vanilla Wafers
– 1 tub (1 lb.) Trader Joe’s Organic Vanilla Yogurt
– 1 package frozen Trader Joe’s Fancy Berry Medley (store in refrigerator overnight or thaw for 30 minutes before preparing)

Stir together thawed berries and yogurt in a medium or large bowl. (I did this ahead of time and stored it in that container on the right because I used the same mixture for a Thanksgiving dessert)
Place vanilla wafers in a single layer on the bottom of an 8×8 square dish

Spoon berry-yogurt mixture over the wafers until just covered. Repeat layers of vanilla wafers and berry-yogurt mixture as space allows, about 2-3 layers.
You will usually find cracked or broken pieces in each package of vanilla wafers. Perfectionists, rejoice! We are turning them into crumbs, so crush those wafer-rejects into conformity! I did this inside a plastic bag and used the bottom of a drinking glass as shown above. You can also do this right into the container if you use all the cookies. 

Sprinkle wafer crumbs on top to garnish!

Serve immediately for a crunchier texture, or refrigerate an hour to overnight for chewy, comforting goodness. This is perfect for your next potluck or dinner party!

***

It is likely that you will have some leftovers of the berry-yogurt mixture and cookies. If no one is home, throw the leftover cookies into your mixing bowl, pop in a movie, and go to town! 

 

If not, you can be a sweetheart and create a special study treat for your college roomies, thoughtful dessert for your family, or a romantic finish for a romantic dinner ;). Layer the ingredients into a martini or wine glass for a refined, festive dish!
Oh, you fancy huh?
Please comment below if you try this. I’d love to hear your story!
With love,
Tiffany R.
Dining at Tiffany’s

The Thanksgiving Episode

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I am thankful for always having wonderful friends and family to cook for.
I am having a delicious holiday and I hope you are too! Here are three tidbits from my Thanksgiving, including tips and recipes. Enjoy! 

[1] Cook an awesome turkey

As my rite of passage into the grown-up world, I was in charge of the turkey. 
So far, turkey successes in my family have involved either A) deep frying in peanut oil (take caution and ask for advice before you try this!) or B) brining and roasting.
I did option B yesterday. All modesty aside, it was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever tried. Juicy and infused with comforting aromatics! Basically, I followed almost everything Emeril told me to. Except I put my plastic trash bag of brine and turkey into another trash bag, and into a cooler full of ice. This was much easier logistically, and saved valuable refrigerator space. Find the recipe I used here!
[2] Be a thoughtful host, both for yourself and guests! 
My mom had the brilliant idea of assigning platters for each dish the night before Thanksgiving. This was to avoid scrambling and ransacking cupboards and garage cabinets 15 minutes before dinner is served, looking for that darn pie stand and gravy boat that you haven’t seen since last year. This is especially important if you’re hosting a potluck, because adding bustling guests in your kitchen to the equation causes high levels of stress. Also, be sure to factor in time to shower and pretty yourself up. No matter how pretty your tablescape is, you will not feel happy entertaining guests looking like a hot mess. 
Meanwhile, be prepared the array of guests with varying arrival times, ranging from those that show up early to help out, to those that came late — causing uneasy guests and growling tummies. Be sure to have simple appetizers and snacks that won’t ruin the look of your Thanksgiving spread if guests pick off of it. I did a cheese tray this year, and it was really easy to replenish the crackers throughout the night. 
The key to a good cheese tray is to mix up textures and flavors. I follow my own formula: a semi-soft mild cheese (left: fontina), a deep-flavored cheese (middle: aged cheddar with whiskey), and a bleu cheese for color (right). It’s fun to change it up and try new cheeses for every occasion. I recommend buying cheese at Fresh & Easy because they have smaller portions (and this week they had a buy 3, get 10% off deal!) so you can have all the fancy fun of serving a cheese tray without breaking the bank. I used water crackers and rosemary cracks, garnished with berries and grapes leftover from other recipes, and candied walnuts (walnuts sauteed with butter and brown sugar). Remember that design always looks good in odd numbers (3 cheese, 3 bunches of grapes, etc.), and to cluster and sprinkle the walnuts free-hand for a natural, autumn look. 
[3] Be creative with your leftovers
Whether you are feeding ravenous Black Friday shoppers, or decided to stay in your PJs all day, here are some easy ideas to serve leftovers while changing up the fridge-to-microwave routine. 
Mashed Potato Stuffing Fritters
Ingredients:
– 2 cups mashed potatoes
– 3/4 cup stuffing
– 1 tablespoon of gravy
– 2 teaspoons of leftover herbs (I used parsley from the Turkey garnish) 
– 2-3 plain crackers (perhaps from your cheese tray), crushed (you can also substitute 3 tbsp of bread crumbs) 
– 1 egg
– Freshly ground pepper to taste
– light oil
Instructions
– Heat 4-5 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat
– Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
– Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sized scoops into the pan, and flatten a bit with a spatula. 
– Cook evenly until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes each side.  
– Serve alone, or drizzle with gravy for your bad self! 😉

Grilled Turkey & Cheese Tray Sandwiches (left)
Create an hearty, upscale grilled cheese with leftover Turkey, cranberry sauce, and a semi-soft mild cheese (I used fontina)! This was the first thing I thought of (and ate) this morning.
Leftover Dessert CrepesThis is a great option if you have overnight guests hungry for brunch and you want to keep up your reputation of creating beautiful dishes. Find your favorite sweet crepe recipe, and fill with any leftover dessert/ingredients!

Top: Pumpkin Pie crepes (crust included!)
Bottom: berry + vanilla yogurt cream (leftover from making fruit tarts. Find the berry-yogurt mixture here, and the tart recipe here)

I wish you all many blessings to be thankful for all year long. Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend!
With love,
Tiffany R.
Dining at Tiffany’s

Unprocessed: Sweet Potato Rosemary Sauce recipe (vegan!)





I really must stop procrastinating, but I created this recipe for my pledge to October #unprocessed 2011 with Eating Rules! Or maybe I’m just doing this late to encourage everyone to choose unprocessed foods beyond October! 🙂 





Pasta w/ Sweet Potato Rosemary Sauce 

A cozy, comforting meal to ring in the autumn weather and use in-season produce! 
INGREDIENTS
– 2 Sweet potatoes (washed)
– 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
– 1/4 cup coconut milk (your new, vegan best friend! refrigerate it in an airtight container to use as a milk substitute for other sauces) 1 tbsp of olive oil 
– 1/4 cup water
– dash of cinnamon
– dash of coriander (can also use cumin or any spicy crushed herb like curry powder) 
– dash of cayenne pepper
– garlic salt (or a 1/2 a clove of finely minced and sauteed garlic. prep the garlic beforehand!)
salt & pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
i. Boil water if you’re making pasta! 
1. Poke sweet potatoes with a fork 4-5 times to vent. Place sweet potatoes on top of a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate (place a paper towel on top as well if you’re paranoid of potato explosions).
2. Microwave for 5 minutes. Flip potatoes over (be careful, they’re hot!), and microwave for another 5 minutes.
3. Remove from microwave. Cut a slit in each potato, scoop out the sweet potato (discard the skin). 
4. Use a blender or food processor to mix together the sweet potato and coconut milk/water. Alternate to ensure that the mixture is moist enough to blend. Add olive oil whenever you feel like it (or omit it, I don’t know if this really made a difference)
5. Once you’ve blended about half of it, add rosemary gradually (Also, add sauteed garlic now if you’re using it). Add more water or coconut milk if the mixture becomes too dry. 
6. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth (and beautifully glistening! okay, maybe that’s what the olive oil is for!) 
7. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat on medium. Stir in spices gradually (including garlic salt if you didn’t use sauteed garlic). Stir for about 5 minutes or until you feel the flavors are well-incorporated.
8. Salt and pepper to taste and mix with pasta. 
I would recommend whole wheat fusilli, or any other pasta that grabs on to sauce well! Also, the rosemary is raw, which can be a little bitter, so make sure to blend the mixture until the rosemary only appears as little, green specks. Enjoy!

With love,
Tiffany
Dining at Tiffany’s