Remember how I used to make tofu masala relatively frequently? I decided to revamp the recipe to include butternut squash, which means I have another easy fall recipe for you!


  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried red chili peppers
  • Soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil (all optional)


1. Press tofu (you can do this with a tool like the Tofu Xpress or with this method)

2. If desired, marinate pressed tofu with soy sauce (gluten-free if need be), garlic, rice vinegar, olive oil, and/or sesame oil for added flavor

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half and remove seeds (put aside for my next recipe!). Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried red chili pepper flakes. Put in baking pan with about an inch of water on bottom. Roast half of the squash until tender, about 30 minutes. Cut into bite-sized cubes.

4. Trim, clean, and slice leeks. Peel and chop onion. In a skillet over medium low, saute leeks and onion with olive oil and red chili peppers until tender.

5. Add all other ingredients (tofu, butternut squash, and masala sauce) to the skillet and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy over rice (gluten-free) or with naan (unfortunately not gluten-free)!

P.S. Ever used a Tofu Xpress? I hadn’t until I moved in with my roommate, who has one. It’s a pretty convenient little contraption that presses the water out of tofu, making it better for grilling and baking. It can also be used to press water out of things like sliced eggplant (I used it for eggplant moussaka the other day) and thawed spinach or kale (which I did for this spiced lentil kale soup from Oh She Glows). It comes for the pretty hefty price tag of about $39. It’s nice to have in the kitchen, but I’m not sure I’d paid that much for it! So thanks, roommate :)

Last Sunday, I went to Trader Joe’s for the first time in way too long! I stocked (overstocked?!) up on my usual food items, but discovered a few new items to test out.

From top, clockwise: Pumpkin Cream Cheese ($2.99 for 7 oz), Instant Miso Soup ($3.29 for 4 packages), Pumpkin Spice Rooibos ($3.99 for 20 bags), Inner Peas ($1.29), and Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage ($3.99 for 5 sausages).

I’ll be spreading the cream cheese on rice cakes and possibly baking with it, throwing vegetables and meat into the miso soup to make it more filling, serving the pumpkin tea with a tiny bit of honey, trying not to eat the whole bag of Inner Peas as a snack, and eating the chicken sausages in soup or served on gluten-free bread with onions, peppers, and Frank’s Red Hot.

Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite Trader Joe’s finds?

P.S. Did you know that Trader Joe’s will open any product for you to sample? I can’t remember where I read that but I asked to do it for the pumpkin cream cheese and they were very gracious about it. That stuff is aaaamzing, so I immediately threw it into my cart! Don’t forget the tip about bringing your own bag too.

I recently had half a package of firm tofu left over from another recipe, so I decided to make an Indian meal with it. Luckily, I found a jar of Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce in the back of my pantry. After a quick Google search, I stumbled across a recipe for Quick Indian Soup from Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen.

The star of the show

Here is my adapted version:

  • Firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce (you can use another brand, but I prefer TJ’s!)
  • Onions, diced
  • Carrots, sliced
  • Broth or bouillon
  • Rice (I used Cashew Basmati microwavable rice from Target)
  • Hot pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Canned tomatoes (I didn’t have any but I bet they’d be good!)

In a pot, cook onions and carrots in olive oil over medium until onions are translucent. Add simmer sauce and two cups of broth or two cups of water with two

I’ve had such a busy week [tennis, meetings, business planning, a field trip to Lake Johnson, Triangle Restaurant Week at Chamas, etc] so I haven’t been cooking very elaborate meals for lunch or dinner. Here’s an overview of some of my simple, thrown-together snacks and meals this week!
Edamame pulled from the freezer, sprinkled with sea salt, and defrosted over night then microwaved for ~30 seconds at snacktime

Sharp cheddar cheese cut into cubes and thrown into an

Did you know if you bring reusable bags to Trader Joe’s, you can enter their BYOB (bag) raffle for $100 worth of groceries? When I was shopping there the other day, I asked the cashier how many people enter. She said they estimate it to be 30,000 per month! That number- much higher than I expected- got me thinking about measures that businesses and governments implement to change consumers’ behaviors.

While I was living in Washington, DC, the city implemented a city-wide bag tax- called the

A few new(ish) ones:

As you know, I was determined to not go grocery shopping this week and instead make meals from the ingredients my cupboards, fridge, and freezer. Mission accomplished (minus the $5 taco buffet at the Dos Taquitos Margarita Run!).

Among the less interesting things I consumed:

What do you get when you’re trying to clean out your fridge for Friday’s lunch because you know you’ll be eating out all weekend?

Photo credit

I recently saw this article, entitled “What to Buy and What to Skip at Trader Joe’s,” and immediately sent it to my friend Sarah, who did an article on grocery store vs farmers’ market pricing when we were in college.

So as I was bouncing around from store to store this weekend, I decided to jot down a few prices.

A cauliflower- organic or not- is $3.49 at Harris Teeter and only $2.69 at Target. Canned tomatoes are $1.24 at Target but $1.44 at Harris Teeter. Chobani Greek yogurt is $1.22 at Target and $1.38 at Harris Teeter.

Let’s take a look at the difference in the Chobani pricing. It’s a difference of $.16 per container. Let’s say you eat one for breakfast each weekday morning for a year- $.16 x 5 x 52 (weeks per year) = $41.60.

If you had shopped at Target, you would have saved $41.60 over the course of a year. Say you get paid $20 per hour- that’s just two hours of work over the course of a whole year (out of a total of 8,750 hours).

But on the other hand, we’re only talking about one item. Let’s say you save an average of $.16 per item on 40 items each week. That’s now $332.80, which could almost get you a cruise to the Bahamas!

But think about these important factors and their value to you:

  • Your time- running from store to store takes time; think about it in terms of opportunity cost from econ class :)
  • Gas- Target is about 12 minutes from me, so it expends quite a bit of gas over the course of a year
  • Experience- Where do you have a better experience? How important is that to you? I love going to Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter, but could live without the customer service at Target
  • Quality-

Photo credit

Did you read “21 seasoning” and feel a little overwhelmed? Don’t! This is the easiest recipe ever.

Remember when I wrote about

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+Cristina Roman