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Dinner a la Joe

I have a strict rule about cooking, and that rule is: I don't cook for less than 4 people. Now, I didn't sit down one day and draw up a mission statement for my kitchen or anything like that, but over time this rule has just developed. Probably because from time to time my husband would travel or work late, and my small boys preferred a hot dog and a box of mac & cheese to anything I made, so why bother?

This past week my Less-Than-4 resolution was tested as my husband was traveling for most of the week. Serving cereal for dinner is fine once in a while, but I can't do it too many times (cheapens the experience). Healthy-ish food, appreciation by sons, not too much effort - where to turn?

Enter Trader Joe.

Trader Joe's. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

#1 - This Mandarin Orange Chicken is super fine. It tastes delicious each and every time I make it. And the rice is the perfect sticky steamed rice, 3 minutes in the microwave. The chicken is 10 minutes on the stove top. I was barely able to snap a photo before Older and Younger descended. Like vultures. Like cute, chicken-loving vultures.

#2 Turkey corn dogs and Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese were our Friday Fun Night Faves. I don't want to brag or anything, but we're kind of mac & cheese connoisseurs. For special events I make the Martha Stewart version, but for Friday Fun Night, I heat up Trader Joe's, and it is yummola creamy, cheesy goodness.

#3 Trader Joe's makes the tastiest pita crackers, just the right amount of salt. And their prices for cheese are excellent. This round of brie is actually goat cheese, so it's a healthy choice at a good price - win, win. And, again, not cooking: win, win, win. Spread a little fig preserves on top - mwah!

By the way, I have a new, deep, and profound respect for food photographers. All y'all Gentle Readers, this is not easy.

#4 And finally, because my boys were shopping with me, and they can sniff Cookie Butter in all its many forms, and because they were being particularly sweet that evening, and because Cookie Butter Cheesecake bites looked so amazingly good so who knows how long they will be in stock - the good stuff is sold quickly - look, you know what, I don't need a reason. I bought these, and they were fantastic.

This week my husband is home, and I am back to cooking. In fact, I made Martha Steward Mac & Cheese for Memorial Day - delish. Younger Son even composed a song, rhyming cheesiness and dreaminess - God bless him. And God bless Trader Joe, too.

Older Son asked me if Trader Joe's is paying me for this. No. The answer is no, Trader Joe's is not paying me. But they totally should.

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