Posts Tagged ‘Costco’

My friend Murray Head loves squirrel watching as much my husband and I do.  Better yet, he photographs these cute critters in the wilds of Central Park and in our backyard at the Shore.  We feed the squirrels lots of peanuts and have ears of dried corn on a wheel.  These backyard acrobats love to hang onto the spokes of the wheel and nibble the corn.  Both Murray and my friend Wendy spent Thanksgiving with us and it was all about the squirrels because Wendy makes daily trips to Central Park where she feeds her squirrels.  As soon as she starts up the path to her bench, the squirrels come running out to grab the almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts she brings them.  Here we are at Costco loading up on food for our furry and feathered friends.

All photos courtesy of Murray Head


Birdseed and Peanuts

Just Sitting Around Chewing A Peanut

Just Sitting Around Chewing A Peanut

Anybody Here?

Anybody Here?

Can You Find The 5 Birds Patiently Waiting?

Can You Find The 5 Birds Patiently Waiting?

"Oh Wow, A Veritable Candy Store"

“Oh Wow, A Veritable Candy Store”

Squirrel On The Corn Wheel

Squirrel On The Corn Wheel

This Poor Little Guy Lost Some of His Tail!

This Poor Little Guy Lost Some of His Tail!

Yes, I Do Have A Big White Belly

Yes, I Do Have A Big White Belly

Pink Is My Favorite Color

Pink Is My Favorite Color

"Geez, Hazelnuts!  Must Be A Holiday Or Something"

“Geez, Hazelnuts! Must Be A Holiday Or Something”

"I'm Just Looking"

“I’m Just Looking”

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go

Feeding The Hungry On Thanksgiving

Feeding The Hungry On Thanksgiving

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This Tasty Tidbits Tuesday is really the simplest of meals and no recipe needed.  I was looking for a really quick and economical supper for this night.  In the Spring and Fall, many of the avenues in New York City are closed to traffic and hundreds of booths line the streets selling everything from socks to sheets, hats to hot dogs, fresh squeezed lemonade to ladies’ dresses, shawls, scarves and sweaters, jewelry to junk and best of all Sausage and Pepper Subs. I don’t call them subs as in submarine sandwiches because I come from Connecticut and we know these sandwiches are grinders!  Well whatever you call them, they’re delicious and we always feel decadent eating them and why not since they are loaded with fat.  

Tonight I made a healthier version and clearly it was an economical meal.  We had Sausage with Peppers and Onions on a roll and steamed asparagus.  I used hot poultry sausage.  I don’t normally calculate the cost of the meals I make or the recipes I post, however, this meal was really, well, cheap!

English: Red bell peppers. Suomi: Punaisia pap...

 Red bell peppers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sausage (6) cost  – $5.36  

Mixed sweet bell peppers (6) – $5.99  I only used 5 

2 fresh-baked rolls – $1.40

1 lg Spanish onion – $0.74

Asparagus – $4.79 – purchased at COSTCO (2 lb) This is the second side dish, and still have a third.

Total cost: $17.54

There is pepper and onion mix and 1 1/2 sausages left over for a lunch. 

The key to making this meal delicious is sautéing the peppers and onion really slowly.  The onion caramelizes and sweetens the mixture.  I only use red, yellow and orange peppers – that’s why there is one left over; It’s green! 

English: onion

 Onion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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CANDLES have been associated with Christmas since forever because as we all know before electricity, before gas and kerosene lamps, there were candles.  And candles have always been part of our holiday imagery.  Think back over the years.  I remember Christmas cards featuring candles in lantern posts and pictures of a little kid in a nightshirt holding a candle in the classic candle holder as part of the Christmas culture.

Light the way!

Light the way!

Victorian Christmas trees were adorned with real candles and LIT !  How did they escape burning the house down?  In the 20th Century, we electrified the candles and put them in every window in the house.  I was so obsessed with that concept that when we built a house, I made sure the electrician knew I wanted an outlet under every window on 3 sides of the house.  I’ve used small votive candles in luminaries to light the way to my home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  However, now that we are in the 21st Century, we have technology on our side.  Behold the battery-operated candle and one that is made out of a wax-like material and look SO REAL, it’s hard to believe they’re not.  

These candles have really come of age this past year.  You can purchase all sizes and colors in a great number of stores.  I have found several in The Christmas Tree Shop (not a pun and not really a Christmas shop) and bought a bunch at Costco.  These candles are The ANSWER.  What a terrific way to set a mood.  Scattered around the house during the holidays, they produce just the warm glow you’re looking for.  And as far as luminaries, these candles will surely not blow out in the breeze and catch the bag on fire!  

Think about the myriad ways in which you can utilize these faux but-oh-so-real-looking candles and make your life prettier and softer.  So much of the holiday preparations are time-consuming and costly.  With these candles you get a lot of bang for your buck,

They even come scented!

They even come scented!

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English: A display of six ears of field corn w...

As I walked into Costco today and if you have been in one, you know they have a big board posted with the gas price of the day.  Actually in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, this only applies to those stores with gas pumps.  Today the gas price per gallon was $3.47 for regular.  WTF?  Last week I posted on Facebook that it was $3.35 which was already a BIG jump from the week before when it was $3.15 per gallon!

So this got me to thinking of some weird domino effect or as to what Wall-Streeters refer to as global economy.   Well maybe…. for days, no actually weeks, I have been hearing news about how horrible our corn crop is going to be.  No rain – small corn, shriveled up corn, maybe no corn.  And that means the cost of feed for cows and steers is going to go up in price due to the shortage.  Also, anyone even vaguely familiar with our basically unhealthy diet in America which seems to be based in high fructose corn syrup knows that if there is a shortage of corn, then all the products that have corn in them, will also rise in price.  It’s been estimated that upwards of 70% of our processed foods contain some corn product.  Wow, I guess EVERYTHING is going to go up in price.  Oh dear….too bad we don’t have corn in our salaries, paychecks, or commissions.

Last I knew and I admit I don’t know much, corn or corn byproducts were not in gasoline. So how does the drought in the Midwest which is destroying the corn crop, cause the weekly rise in gas prices?  That’s one hell of a domino theory!

Or are we paying more at the pump because Syria is in the midst of a civil war?  Or because Spain’s economy is slipping away although I doubt we import much gasoline from Spain.  Maybe it’s because Greece is still not out of the economic woods or because Brazil is enjoying a robust economy.   

Food for thought in the form of Amuse Bouche du Jour!  I’m assuming many people know more about this than me – See articles below.

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English: Costco in Moncton, New Brunswick

The Discount-if-you-want-to-buy-large store

Just like Hollywood, I think I figured out a way to make one good idea into two!  LOL LOL, seriously but not too seriously.  I had started my blog post last week with what I’m about to write.  At that time I realized I was going way too deep into my day up to the point of my cousins arrival and not adhering to my title and topic.  I had saved the draft and my intention was to post this the next day.  Well we all know what the road to hell is paved with, now don’t we??   Or is that the seed of yet another blog post about the origin and meaning of well-known and often soon-to-be-obscure phrases?  We’ll see…. But back to the back story of last Friday’s visit with familigia and our subsequent dinner.

My day started out early enough, I had my list written from the night before. Where to go, in what order as well groceries needed.  However, I had also promised a friend to go to his new house twice to open up the door for  deliveries AND I would have to pick my husband up from the train.  AND I wanted to make some gazpacho before my cousins arrived.  I figured they wouldn’t want to go to the beach today, having just returned from Cape May and they would probably stay for dinner.  It was such a hot day, cold gazpacho sounded just right for tonight.

Ah but the best laid plans of mice and men (and yet another little catchphrase!)…. Too many phone calls to get out of the house really early but OK, I’m finally on my way and first stop is the dry cleaners to pick up clothes I need for Sunday.  Oh dear, the dry cleaning will not be in till later this afternoon.  Mmmmm  okay I’l come back later.  Then to Laurie’s vegetable & fruit stand to pick up the ingredients for the gazpacho and snag a couple of peaches too and maybe a few ears of corn – mission accomplished.  Next to Aldi‘s to pick up some staples; park the car, lock it walk to entry, oh I forgot my shopping bags.  A minor delay but nothing to worry about, I flew around the store grabbing what I needed and rushed out.  I just finished putting the bags in the car and my cell phone rings and it is the friend telling me that Lord & Taylor did NOT call him a half hour prior to delivery (so he would be able to alert me) but rather they were waiting at the house.  This turned out to be not so inconvenient because if I went to his house now, I could then go to The Lillagaard to drop off the refrigerated stuff.  I meet the driver and he has only 2 chairs!  That seemed odd for a dining room and especially one whose owner is an interior decorator.  But I signed for them, proceeded to drop off the refrigerated stuff and called him informing deed was done, and why only two chairs?  Answer – apparently, L&T goofed up the delivery.  Oh and by the way, would I be around on Monday for the Target delivery?

Back in the car and off to Starbucks for some well-needed caffeine and a cup of Pike’s for Pete upon his arrival and per his request.  Off to   Costco,  noting the gas price of $3.35 per gallon whereas two weeks ago it was $3.15!  I made a really quick trip through the mega discount-if-you-buy-giant-size store picking up what I needed for Sunday’s tea service.  I still have one more grocery store to go to but decide I should call Peter and see where he is.  Well,  apparently he is and has been waiting at the station to be picked up. So I step on the gas as I wheel out of the Costco parking lot and thereby cause the tray with his cup of coffee  to tip.  It’s an interesting maneuver to be driving, talking on the phone and trying to retrieve a full cup of coffee from the floor of the passenger side.  Of course I got coffee on my pants. I must have a full body magnetic field because food and drink stains are consistently drawn to me.  At home in Manhattan, I believe I am personally responsible for sending at least Korean children to college.

I picked him up and we did NOT go home or Pass Go and collect $200.  We went back to Neptune and to Wegman’s where the two of us set off  in different directions in order to shop twice as quickly.  Time was not on my side!!! I happened to pass the International aisle and the Goya bean display caught my eye.  Mmmm maybe I should make my hot summer night stand-by-Tuna Fennel Cannellini  Bean salad.  Last words heard as we left the store, “I wonder if I have enough gin at home?” Hey I don’t check everything!

Of course Peter didn’t have enough gin! So leaving me at home to begin chopping, peeling, dicing, and  juicing in the course of making gazpacho, Peter left to go out and buy some gin.  Which turned out to be helpful to me because now he could drop off the rest of the refrigerated stuff at the hotel.  And then my dear friend, Susan called.  I believe  she will read this so now she’ll know why I sort of rushed her off the phone and said, “Call me Sunday night when you get home!”

I don’t think it was much more than 10 minutes later that my cousins arrived and I realized I needed tomato juice.  Funny how some things go together!  I called Peter and asked him to pick it up, knowing full well, this would never be done without another phone call.  After quickly greeting my guests, I excused myself to the kitchen to try and get this gazpacho underway.  

If you’re wondering what happened after that and did not read the previous blog post, here’s the link;


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When I arrived in OG today, the larder was pretty empty at first glance.  BUT then, a closer look and some culinary creativity and voilà – Pasta Primavera!

I had a package of cooked chicken strips that I purchased at Costco in the freezer (so I defrosted them) and some carrots and celery left over from my last Mah Jongg night when they were part of a veggie and dip plate.  A red onion had been hanging around the house for some time and of course I always have fresh garlic in the house.  I bought 5 lbs of fresh asparagus at Costco today and I also keep a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer. Definitely the making of a tasty pasta and vegetable dish.

I sauteed the garlic, red onion and tossed in the celery, carrots and asparagus in olive oil.  I ha some vegetable broth in the refrigerator but alas, it had a sour smell so I poured it down the sink.  I found a can of Swanson chicken broth and added that to the veggies.  After a bit of cooking, I added the chicken strips, and two handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables.  Salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes and while that was cooking, I filled a pot with water to cook some pasta.  Buccatini seemed like the perfect choice.

When the buccatini was done, I drained it and before I put it in the bowl, I put a little basting oil in the bottom of the bowl.  Added some pasta, then some of the vegetables and kept alternating till all was in the bowl and topped it off with a good amount of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 

It was delicious!  Yes I do say so myself!

pasta primavera, Costco, buccatini

Cheap and easy eats

PS. This is not a photo of my dish because those who know know, that’s fettucine and not buccatini!

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Tasty Tidbits Tuesday

zucchini, carrots, snap peas, wax beans, string beans, celery, asparagus

Fresh Vegetable Medley

So many of  my Tuesday recipes are actual tried and true recipes and most often not original.  However, tonight I worked until 7:40 pm and needed to make a quick and healthy meal.  I have to admit that I had planned ahead for a couple of late evenings by purchasing an assortment of washed and trimmed and bagged fresh vegetables (Wegman’s) and a good size package of grilled chicken strips (Costco).

All you need is a boneless skin-less chicken breast or you can cheat and short cut your prepping the way I did.  And a variety of fresh veggies.

I put some olive oil in a large skillet, added a couple of garlic cloves (chopped) and turned up the heat to medium high.  Then I tossed in my chicken strips and a small bowl full of  cut up vegetables.  Tonight I used wax beans, string beans, asparagus, red onion, carrots and celery, baby zucchini squash, and snap peas.

I seasoned the mixture with sea salt and ground pepper, threw in some fresh tarragon, Italian parsley and fresh thyme.  Then, I squeezed a quarter of a lemon over all.

I stirred it occasionally for about 6 minutes and then covered the pan so everything could pan steam till vegetables were tender.

A glass of red wine and a tossed salad rounded out the meal.

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The first real chilly and very breezy day of the season was yesterday and so since we had invited our next door neighbors to join us for dinner, I could see that a cook-out was definitely out of the question! Hard to believe that last Saturday, we were sitting on the beach in bathing suits no less! Well all the windows were shut all day in an effort to keep the cottage somewhat warm and not have to put the heat on yet.  We were going to need a good hot meal… so this is what I served:

Antipasta platter

Bowtie Pasta with Vodka Blush & Chicken

Green Beans with a garlic cheese finishing butter

Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Fresh Italian bread with sun dried tomatoes in it. (Costco)

Homemade coffee cake, fresh fruit salad and coffee

Bowtie Pasta with Vodka Blush & Chicken

1 lb Farfalle pasta, cooked according to preference

24oz of Vodka Blush sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 # Chicken cutlets marinated in Lemon & Garlic (I bought them already marinated)

1 Tbsp basting oil (purchased)**

1Tbsp butter

4 tsp of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Simmer sauce on low in small saucepan

Heat Olive oil in large pan on MEDIUM-HIGH till oil fairly smokes, add chicken. Turn when chicken changes color one-quarter of the way  up and seared side has turned paper bag brown, 3  4 minutes.

Reduce heat to MEDIUM; cook chicken 10-12 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Add basting oil and butter to pan, swirl.  Baste chicken with spoon 1 – 3 minutes. Transfer to clean plate.

Toss pasta with sauce. Divide evenly on 4 plates, top with chicken and sprinkle with 1 tsp of cheese.

Recipe from Wegman’s  MENU Magazine

The green beans were blanched and then tossed with a “finishing butter” which is seasoned with garlic and cheese.

My neighbor made the delicious homemade coffee cake.

This is what I learned: The chicken cutlets were thick and took longer than recommended time and were not reaching 165 degrees – so I covered pan for a bit so they wouldn’t dry out.  I used freshly made (and purchased) Vodka Blush sauce but believe you can use a jar of Vodka sauce.  A pound of Farfalle was too much pasta for 4 people, you could cook less or save the leftover like I have for next day.  The recipe does not call for slicing the chicken cutlet when you put on top  of the pasta but the photo in magazine suggests that.  ** You can make your own basting oil by combining grape seed oil and canola oil with dried thyme, dried parsley and garlic powder.

**** Sorry that so many of these ingredients were purchased at Wegman’s and you might not have one near you.  Wegman’s carries their own line of products like the basting oil, the Vodka Blush fresh sauce and the finishing butters.

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You know the thing about Costco is the darn size of everything!  You go to buy a can of Comet but if you want one, you need to buy a 3-pack.  Need some chicken broth? You have to buy 6 cartons, and the Salsa comes in giant jars, like the pickles and the olive oil.  Big is better, things are cheaper by the dozen, large economy size means economy BUT where oh where to put/store/stash this stuff,  I mean my bargains!

And the samples!!!! Perfect way to get suckered in.  We now have Madras lentils, Pot Stickers, Spinach Ravioli, Stacey’s Pita Chips and a GIANT Chicken Pot Pie!! Every trip home from Costco entails emptying the freezer and re-arranging the huge bags of Broccoli Flowerets, Tortellini, Chicken Breasts, Salmon Burgers, Blueberries and after all that shuffling and stuffing and pushing and squeezing, there is NO ROOM for the Chicken Pot Pie.  Not even sure what possessed me to buy it in the first place since it could clearly feed 8 people and our table only seats 5.   By the way, I can never get ALL the frozen food in our freezer at the shore and half of it is going back to New York with us – BUT how to keep it frozen till we are on our way home?

Luckily for me, we are friends with Dick and Jane (yes those are their real names), who own an Inn in Ocean Grove and she lets me store my Manhattan-bound food stuffs in a freezer in the Tea Room.  So last weekend I loaded up her freezer with bags of frozen food to take to New York and when I went to retrieve it I realized that NOT ONLY could I NOT fit the pot pie in my freezer bag and if I got it home, it wouldn’t fit in my apartment freezer either.  Good  thing Jane let me leave it there!!

Obviously the pie was way too big for Peter and I so when in doubt or in trouble, think What Would Martha Do? So, I invited friends for dinner.  I had already asked Heide to dine with us on Friday night and so I asked Dick and Jane to join us too.  Heide graciously asked what could she bring and I said without a moment’s hesitation, “your plum tart”. Jane said she would bring wine and the dinner menu was taking shape.

Chicken Pot Pie seemed Southern to me and even though I know it isn’t particulary Southern anymore than it is exclusively Irish or New England fare, tonight it was going to be Southern.  I decided to make Collard Greens – never have made them before BUT Wegman’s to the rescue.  I had a brochure from the store that I had saved from last year all about braising greens.  Seemed simple enough and it was.  The Collard Greens would satisfy Peter’s insistence of a green vegetable at dinner and I thought a salad would be refreshing but then I remembered that Dick really can’t eat a lot of greens so I set out to buy a head of cauliflower to bake.  Inspiration was running high so I decided to bake some drop biscuits too – love those Bisquick biscuits.


1 head of Cauliflower                                                                        Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup margarine melted

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp salt

pinch of dried oregano

pinch of red pepper flakes

Place whole head in steamer in 1″ water. Bring to boil over med heat and cook till tender about 20 minutes.

Mix bread crumbs, margarine, cheese.  Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano.  Put cauliflower in baking dish and coat with bread crumb mixture.

Bake 10-15 minutes till golden brown.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food.


Add 6 cups of water, 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice, 6 cloves of garlic (or 2 Tbsp minced), 1 Tbsp salt, 1/2 cup pure olive oil to braising pan on HIGH.

Add greens and bring to a boil and cover.

Cook until tender – Greens will change color as they cook (depending on the greens) 5-30 minutes.

Transfer to serving dish, season to taste and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe from Wegman’s


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Most weekends in Ocean Grove follow a sort of pattern; there’s the opening of the house and putting away whatever we brought down. There’s the grocery shopping for two households, the Home Depot and Costco runs, the lawn care and blah blah blah you’ve heard it all before!

This weekend went a bit awry in both directions – the high road and the low road.  It was a BUSY weekend for sure and prior blogs Raise a Glass in Remembrance, Oh Dear, There’s a Deer Here reveal some of the adventures we had over the course of the three and a half days we were there.

We went to the first cook-out of the season on Saturday night.  The day was glorious and our friend Joe, celebrated his new terrace by purchasing a gas grill which Jim put together during the course of the afternoon.  Susan did the shopping,  I made a salad, Joe had weekend guests and as the preparations were underway and as other friends were casually encountered, each was invited and WOW it really was GREAT.  The Gaybors next door came laden with side dishes and grillers (sausages from the Amish market).  Monica who also lives next door arrived with wine and more food.  And the dogs…. Madison, the resident Yorkie was an accommodating host to Timmy who was a weekend guest and Monica’s Yorkie, Mickey who lives next door.

Saturday Night Cook Out
Garden Gnome, Joe's gnome
Joe’s Garden Gnome
corn on the cob, grillers, hot dogs, salad, barbeque, cook out, grill
And Grillers!!!

Oh yes, the Gnome came too.

One of the best ways to wind up a long weekend is to sit on a porch overlooking Wesley Lake.  Of course it’s best to be friends with Heide in order to do that.  Heide (pronounced Hi-deh) invited us to a Sunday night supper on her porch – yeah, we’re down for that! Although it was getting humid and sticky, the porch was cool as  a breeze wafted off the lake and we were in the shade.

Wesley Lake, Ocean Grove, red peppers and spinach dip, wine and cheese on the porch
Sweet Peppers and Spinach Dip
Ocean Grove, Wesley lake, cheese and crackers, grapes,
Tasty Bites on a Sunday Night
Susan Taylor, Taylored4U
Susan Enjoys the Evening

Susan and Jim were invited as well. As dusk descended, we all went inside and had a DELICIOUS salad with chicken.  AND fresh strawberries and cream and pizelles

pizelles, Italian cookies, dessert with strawberries and cream
Pizelles with Strawberries and Cream

NOW that was ALL FUN, indeed it was BUT, BUT – on Saturday night before the cookout, after killing all the weeds with a FULL container of Weed Be Gone and as I was putting it up on the shelf in the shed, the container hit a lantern hanging from the shed ceiling which fell and hit me on the bridge of my nose -” Peter, help, I think I broke my nose, omg, omg!”  As I am yelling and trying desperately to reach over a wagon, a bike, a bird seed container while bleeding, I CANNOT reach the container of weed killer which is now pumping all over the shed floor! Oh what a mess!!! Needless to say everything had to come out of the shed.  How do you mop up a gallon of weed poison that has mixed with dirt and dust from the floor? NOT easily!  It was  a disgusting job and since the weed killer got on so many things that I rinsed off the hose, it will be interesting to see how much grass I killed in the process 😦

Back track to last Sunday when Peter got a flat tire and by the time he could drive to a place where someone could change it, he had driven through the sidewall.  The Strauss Auto Store put the spare on and gave us a quote for 4 new tires and we drove back to NYC.  THIS Saturday I noticed that the left rear tire was really soft so I drove to the first place that had an air pump and asked them to help me – the guy put air in the tire and told me I needed new tires.  I got a quote from them too.  Yesterday, we looked at the tire and again it was soft!!! Of course it’s Sunday! So we went back to the first place  and asked them to repair the tire BUT they said it was against company policy to repair a tire with so little tread – Geezzzzzz  We begged and wheedled and fibbed and said we had to get back to NYC tonight and we would back next week to possibly put 4 new tires on the car – BUT their quote was $140 more than the second place. Oy Vey

So that wraps up the weekend except for the part where I bought so much stuff at Costco that I had to put half of the frozen items in the Lilligaard’s freezer.  Amen.

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