I recently met Becky Nero – mom, cook, and creator of the blog, Becky’s Big Bytes, filled with her funny insights and useful tips. I enjoy asking what other people love at Trader Joe’s, so I asked Becky and she didn’t hold back in telling me! Being a mom myself, I asked for Becky’s pointers on cooking with (and for) kids, and she had some great ones. Becky also shared her fantastic Trader Joe’s-inspired recipe using Israeli Couscous.
Love the multigrain pancake mix, lite feta cheese, Thai Curry Sauce, anything from the candy department, their well-priced organic produce, their coffees, Ciabbata rolls, frozen veggies, the Chocolate Lovers Dilemma cheesecake!!!, their California rolls for a nice “mommy lunch”, and their jams.
Their white flour makes my pizza dough the best, whole wheat pastas for cheap, and all of their stocks for quick soups. I always have these on hand as I don’t make my own chicken or vegetable stock. I could go on and on.
I love that I can zip in and out of the store quickly and always get reliable service. I also love their guarantee policy. If you are not happy with a product, return for a refund!
Becky: Find a way to make cooking work. Don’t give up because your health and your family’s health are too important. The house cleaning can wait. Kids need to start off on the right foot with good nutrition. Don’t view cooking as drudgery and then it will be a joyful event for you and the family! Also, don’t become a slave to your family by becoming a short order cook. Everyone needs to eat the same thing or at least try 3 bites!
Deana: My kids also surprise me with the things they like to eat (ginger, seaweed, etc). Never assume! OK, you’ve just been rescued from a desert island. You sit down to your first real meal in months. What is it?
Deana: Any last thoughts about TJ’s?
Becky: I really love the “sample lady”! My cooking has been in a rut lately and every time I go to TJ’s I get to try something new for free and then end up buying something I wouldn’t have normally purchased. Like the Thai Curry Sauces….I use these to spice up a bland rice dish and just add some fresh chopped cilantro or mint and suddenly, my senses are alive again.
Deana: Becky, thanks for a fun interview and for sharing your recipe. My family really likes Israeli couscous and the almonds, cranberries, basil, and feta you added were a great combination with the sweet dressing.
Becky’s Israeli Couscous Salad
The Dressing Ingredients
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic (or use 1 cube frozen Crushed Garlic )
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 box Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous (found in the pasta/rice aisle)
- 1/3 cup unsalted dry toasted sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 2 oz Lite Feta cheese, crumbled or 2 oz Crumbled Feta (regular or fat free)
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Follow cooking instructions on the Israeli Couscous box. Add cooked couscous to the bowl containing the dressing.
- Toss with the dressing and let it cool (about 20-30 minutes), stirring occasionally. The couscous will absorb the dressing as it cools.
- Add the almonds, cranberries, and basil. Toss the feta cheese in lightly. Add more salt and pepper if needed.