A Drexel student’s credit card has yet to come across something as dangerous as a trip to Trader Joe’s. This is especially true now that autumn is upon us, as TJ’s is notorious for their fall-themed goodies. While shopping for your typical items such as cookie butter and frozen pizza, try branching out with some of my favorite Trader Joe’s recipes!
This recipe was passed down to me from my dad, he loves making calzones almost as much as Ben Wyatt from Parks and Rec. It’s a great Friday night treat that’s just a little different from the typical BYO pizza but with the same amount of deliciousness!
Ingredients for 2 calzones:
- 1 raw pizza dough pack
- 1/2 – 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (your preference)
- 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
- Non-stick spray
- Handful of flour
- 1/2 cup protein (such as ground beef or Tofurky)
- 1/2 cup vegetables
1. Preheat the oven to the temperature listed on the package for the dough, should be either 400 or 425 degrees.
2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray the aluminum with the non-stick spray.
3. Split dough into two even sections and set one to the side
4. Flour a flat surface and roll the dough around so it isn’t sticking to your hands or the surface.
5. Start pulling the dough so you create either an oval or a rectangle. This will take a while, and if you don’t have a rolling pin, using pressure with your fingers to push the dough out works as well.
6. Once your dough is stretched out, shift it over to the sprayed aluminum foil. It may need a little more reshaping after the move but most of the hard work should be over.
7. Cover one side of the calzone with half of the mozzarella, half of the ricotta, and whatever extra ingredients you want to add.
8. Fold over the empty side of the dough and seal the edges of the calzone by rolling the edges together to create a strong seal. Use a knife to make slits on the top of the dough to allow for thorough cooking.
9. Repeat steps four through eight with the rest of the dough
10. Once both calzones are on the pan, filled, and sealed up, place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack.
11. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking on it at the 10-minute mark to ensure the dough isn’t burning. The time depends on the thickness of the dough.
12. When the top of your dough has turned light brown and meets your crispiness standards, pull the baking sheet out and let the calzones rest for three to five minutes.
13. While the calzones are cooling off, pour a cup of tomato sauce into a microwave bowl and heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds.
14. Once the calzones have cooled off enough for safe consumption, dig in! Use the marinara for a dipping sauce to add more flavor to your delicious meal!
Author’s Note: It’s recommended to let the dough sit at room temperature for a few hours after pulling it out of the refrigerator. This will make it easier to stretch the dough but if you don’t have time, you can still make the dough stretch – it just might require more effort.
2. Chicken Tacos
You can easily substitute any protein for these, like fish or tofu, but I always have a ton of chicken in my freezer, which makes these an easy yet scrumptious option after a day of classes. Feel free to add a margarita too – if you’re of age, of course.
* My apologies for not having a photo of the actual tacos. I was just so excited to eat them when they were done.
Ingredients for 4 tacos:
- 4 corn or flour tortillas
- 2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 4 chicken breasts (frozen or thawed)
- 1 can black beans
- 1 jar salsa
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
- Hot sauce
- Chopped peppers or jalapeños
- Pico de gallo
1. If your chicken is frozen, thaw it out just enough so you can cut your chicken into cubes. If chicken is already thawed, chop away.
2. Cook the chicken in a frying pan until all pink has disappeared.
3. Pour the can of beans into a small pot and heat on low while the chicken is cooking.
4. Add two to three tablespoons of taco seasoning to the pan of chicken, depending on your flavor preference.
5. Stir the meat so the seasoning coats the chicken evenly and heat for three more minutes.
6. While the chicken is cooking, place your four tortillas in a stack on a plate and heat them up in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
7. Once the chicken is done, add them to your tortillas along with the black beans you heated up. Top with salsa, cheese, and any other item you may have grabbed to add to your tacos.
8. Enjoy and try not to spill! Tortillas have been known to crack open on the bottom so make sure to hold the taco over your plate at all times.
3. Crispy Gnocchi and Meatballs
Honestly, my boyfriend and I probably make this three times a month because it is so yummy but simple enough that it still allows us to watch the football game. Feel free to change up the pasta or protein by using whatever you put in your TJ’s basket.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 1 package of gnocchi
- 1/2 jar tomato sauce
- 1 package of your favorite meatballs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
1. Put a pot of water on the stove at high heat and wait for it to boil. If you were raised to salt your water, do it now.
2. Add the whole package of gnocchi to the boiling water and let them cook for three minutes.
3. Once you’re happy with the texture of your gnocchi, drain the water from your pot.
4. Add olive oil to a frying pan on medium heat.
5. Pour gnocchi into frying pan and season salt and pepper.
6. Add the desired number of meatballs and tomato sauce to a pot and cook at medium-low heat until sauce is bubbling.
7. Flip or stir your gnocchi in the pan to ensure a crispy coating on all sides.
8. After everything is done, dish up! You can either keep your gnocchi separate to retain crispiness or add them all together for a saucy pasta concoction.
9. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parmesan to satisfy your taste buds and enjoy!
Oven-baked Breaded Pork Chops and Crispy Brussels Sprouts
This one always looks like a whole afternoon of preparation when really it just takes an hour from start to finish. If you’re wary of Brussels sprouts, this is a great time to try them. If you chop them into small enough pieces, they get really crispy in the oven, which as we know makes everything taste better.
Ingredients for 2 servings:
- 2 French Cut (bone in) pork chops
- 1/2 bag Brussels Sprouts
- 1 cup Bread Crumbs
- 2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
- Olive Oil
- Grated Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and cut the stems off the Brussels sprouts and slice them in half or quarters.
3. Mix Brussels sprouts in bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper until coated evenly.
4. Spray a baking sheet with your favorite cooking spray, cover in a single layer of Brussels sprouts, and put in oven for 50 minutes (flip halfway through).
5. Pat pork chops dry with paper towel and spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on both sides.
6. Rub a thick layer of breadcrumbs on both sides of the pork chops so that they are coated evenly on the top and bottom.
7. Put pork chops in oven safe pan (like a casserole dish) and when there’s 35 minutes left on the timer for the Brussels sprouts, put the pork chops into the oven (flip at 18 minutes).
8. When there is five minutes left on the timer, take the Brussels sprouts out and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top then return them to the oven.
9. Take everything out of the oven when the timer goes off and let it rest for three minutes
10. Your meal is ready – Enjoy!
So there you have it, four easy recipes and ingredients to add to your list for your next Trader Joe’s visit. If you do attempt any of these, let us know by sharing a picture on Instagram and tagging us (@hercampusdrexel)! You never know, we may share your photo on our page.