Friday Favorite: Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snacks

May 18, 2012

When BigSis was here in CA last month for my birthday week, we made our usual trip to Trader Joe’s. We always try to pop in so BigSis can pick up a few favorite items since there’s not a TJ’s in Texas…yet!

Yes, Texans, get ready!  Trader Joe’s is coming to Texas. There are five confirmed locations in Texas so far. The first stores will open in Fort Worth, Houston and Plano, then in Fall 2012, they’ll open in Dallas and San Antonio. (I bet BigSis is first in line when their doors open at the one in Dallas, which just so happens to be pretty close to her house.) :-)

When she was here, BigSis picked up some of these Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks since she regularly buys the wasabi flavor in the Annie Chun’s brand, and loves them. I’ve tried the plain ones without the Wasabi before and even though I did like them, they smelled a little fishy so I never bought them again.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Can you see how yummy and crispy these are? Not only are they a great snack, but this is my new favorite quick and easy, healthy lunch.

Trader Joe's Seaweed Snacks

Two or three of these simply wrapped around a half a slice of  TJ’s low sodium turkey breast makes a perfect lunch.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Here are a couple made with TJ’s no salt Solid White Tuna.

I’ve been making these almost every day with either the tuna or the turkey, depending on what I have on hand. It’s a great alternative if you’re trying to cut back on the carbs. For vegetarians, I’ve made these wrapped around an avocado and tomato slice and they’re super good!

I’m sure I could get even more creative with these; maybe crab and avocado like a California roll? Yummy!

If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader’s nearby and you like Wasabi, pick these up on your next trip and let me know what you think.

An added bonus is that they’re only 99 cents!  And, maybe the best thing is that they satisfy our cravings for a salty crispy snack, but they are actually low in sodium at only 65 mg per serving.

(Just so you know, this is not an “paid” endorsement for Traders, I just love their products and they have great options for low sodium products!)

~LilSis

Butterfly Inspired Birthday

April 22, 2012

There’s a good reason why BigSis and I were missing in action for over a week.

IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!

Last Saturday, I had an wonderful lunch with my girlfriends at one of my favorite spots by the beach; then when we returned home from lunch, I was surprised with an amazing birthday party!

I couldn’t believe it when I realized that my sister was here in California for my party. :-)   BigSis left on Saturday after a week of much needed ‘sister time’ and lots and lots of yummy Mexican food! (We went to a different spot every day.)

For many reasons, the symbolic butterfly has a very special meaning to me on this birthday. I’ve had a super fun birthday week full of wonderful family, the best of friends and many butterfly surprises.

(We’re both returning to work tomorrow; but I hope to share a few photos at some point this week.)

~LilSis

We have another birthday today!

August 30, 2010

HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY HAYHAY!

Ahhhh!!! To be young again!!

Our youngest, the baby of the clan, is 17 years old today!

We’re so proud of the young man that he has become and we love that he still acts like a kid and isn’t trying to grow up too fast!

HayHay is funny, kind, loving, creative, compassionate, respectful, and overall; a great person and a great son!

And, we especially love the fact that he still enjoys hanging out with his parents! :-)

We love ya, Hay!

~LilSis

26 years ago today…

July 29, 2010

Baby Boy Bry

Baby Boy Bry was born!

This is one of my most favorite photos, ever! It almost seems like it was yesterday… and now my baby boy is a Sailor in the U.S. Navy serving to protect our country!  We are SO proud of him!

(I could go on and on and on, but I’m a tad emotional today and I would end up being really sappy!) :-)


Happy Birthday, Bry! We love you!

~LilSis

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Hippo Birdies to Us!

September 30, 2009

Hippo birdies art by monettenriquez on Flickr

Hippo birdies art by monettenriquez on Flickr

Hippo birdies to us, hippo birdies to us, hippo birdies BigSisLilSis, hippo birdies to us!  Today is BigSisLilSis’ first birthday!  Woo hoo!!  We’re so excited that we made it our first blogiversary!  Plus, a big bonus is that we’re still speaking to each other.  It’s been a crazy, hectic, fun, challenging and sometimes stressful year of learning new technology, working together on design and ideas, and making compromises since both of us are stubborn independent control freaks!  :-D

After all that, and with 394 posts published, we’re still totally committed to the mission we started with, which is to:

  • Write for women like us.
  • Strive to be encouraging, and as positive as we can be (with the inevitable occasional Sis rant!)
  • Pass along info that we hope will be helpful.
  • Share our humor, however odd and twisted it might be!

When we look back over the last year, it has literally flown by on wings, but we’re really happy about some of the enhancements we’ve added to BigSisLilSis:

  • We’re finally twittering!  Yes!  Finally!
  • To show our appreciation, we added Comment Luv to provide a link to our commenters’ last post.
  • Every 2 or 3 weeks, we feature one of our favorite bloggers in our “We’re Crazy About” feature to let everyone else know how awesome they are!
  • We’re sharing links to the books (and cookbooks) that we’re reading at the moment.
  • You can see our most popular posts in our sidebar, based on the number of comments received.
  • Related posts also show up for each post, so if you liked a particular post, you can see more like it.

So that’s where we’ve been.  Where the heck are we going?  We have a few ideas!  First, we’re going to Vegas, baby, for BlogWorld!  But once we get back and recuperate, we have a bunch of things that we’re noodling around:

  • The BigSisLilSis Facebook page is in the works; yep, another belated overdue foray into current technology for us!
  • Our “Shop” page will be a comprehensive list of our favorite things, all gathered in one place.
  • We’re both working on ideas for some fun individual blogs.
  • And, we’re super-duper excited about starting a new joint blog exclusively devoted to food!

The most important thing we can say about the last year is that we’re abundantly grateful for the support our readers have shown us!  There would be no point in us writing if you weren’t reading! So THANK YOU all so very much!  We appreciate you, and hope that you’ll stick around for another year!  God willing, we definitely will!

~BigSis

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Sweet Sixteen

August 30, 2009

sweet-sixteen

Happy 16th Birthday, HayHay!

Is it okay to call a boy’s 16th Birthday Party a Sweet Sixteen? Probably not, huh? My little baby is 16 today and he is a sweetheart, but I guess I can’t do the whole Sweet Sixteen birthday party theme.

When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, I got the same answer that I get every year. He doesn’t want a big party with tons of friends and doesn’t care to got out to eat somewhere expensive.  He just wants to have his closest friends over for swimming and a cookout, so that’s what we’re doing today.

I just mentioned a couple of weeks ago how it seemed like HayHay grew out of his bunk bed overnight. This may sound ridiculous, but ever once in a while when I see my handsome, six foot tall young man from a distance, I can’t believe that he’s my little baby boy.

Where did the years go?? This photo was taken when HayHay had just turned one year old and it seems like it was yesterday.

Baby HayHay

Baby HayHay

And, no, he never went on to become the next Mozart, even though he does look like a child prodigy in this photo.

My hormonal roller coaster is in tenth gear right an  I can barely even write this with a quivering chin and tears rolling down my face. (I know, it’s signs of peri-menopause! Lucky me!) But today is NOT about me, even though I am the one that gave birth to him. :-)

Today is about HayHay! I’ll keep this short and sweet because if I start reminiscing about when he was a baby or a toddler or even how sweet he was when he was in elementary school, I’m going to be boo-hooing too hard to even type.

My little boy has grown into such a nice, handsome, sweet, polite, caring young man. He has a great sense of humor, has great friends, loves animals, has a great relationship with his brothers and sisters, makes good grades, and manages to participate on both the junior varsity and varsity HS Golf Teams and the HS Surf Team. Basically, he’s just a good kid.

We’re just really proud of our young man and wish him a Happy, Happy 16th Birthday!

Lord help me when he goes off to college!! I already know that I’m going to be a mess! It’ll be the first time in our entire married life that we haven’t had any children in the house!!

I’m going to go dry my eyes and turn this over to BigSis to see if she would like to say a few words…

Note from Aunt BigSis…

Oh, well, that’s just great!   Thanks for getting me all emotional, LilSis!  I know he’s your little boy all grown up, but he’s always been my little buddy, just like his brother Big T has always been.  I can’t believe he’s SIXTEEN!  When did this happen??  It seems like yesterday that I was holding his hand crossing the street, or babysitting him, or just having him spend the weekend with me.

I have so many memories of spending precious time with HayHay: going to Schlotsky’s and sitting in our spot, him finding Baby Gaby for the first time, choosing AshyPoo to be “our” cat at the Siamese Rescue, going to Maui twice, making him pasta shells with butter and parmesan forever, smelling the Aveda Confixor in his little spiky hairdo before church each week with him carrying his little Bible.

There are so many memories, and there are new ones being made, but BOB SAGET; it has just gone too fast!  Remember how he used to write the name of the church worship leader in chalk on the driveway because he looked up to him so much?  And how cute he was at his kindergarten graduation in the little blue cap and gown?  And how adorable he looked in that tiny tux when he was the ring bearer at his cousin’s wedding?  Ok, I have to stop now.  I’m killing myself with this walk down memory lane.  It’s more bittersweet cuteness than I can stand.

HayHay Kindergarten Graduation

HayHay Kindergarten Graduation

I agree 1000% that little HayHay has grown into an awesome young man.  I have to admit that I do miss little HayHay because my last little buddy is grown now, but I look forward to the future with big HayHay!  Happy birthday, HayHay!  You’re awesome and we love you to pieces!

HayHay: photo by Daddy in 2004

HayHay: photo by Daddy in 2004

~LilSis

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Another birthday and a little surprise!

August 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, SisMama!

SURPRISE!

SURPRISE!

Yes, we have another birthday in the family today! I just arrived in Dallas yesterday to surprise SisMama for her big day. BigSis & I have been conspiring about the weekend for a couple of weeks now and BigSis’ boss is generously letting us stay at his home on Possum Kingdom Lake for the weekend! We don’t have much of an agenda planned for the weekend other than a lot of boating, eating, and relaxing! We should try to allow for some exercise, but it’s not top priority on this trip.

We’re so excited and are hoping that SisMama will be too! (How much fun would it be to get that kind of reaction from someone when you surprise them?) :-)

We aren’t sure if we will have any internet connection while at the lake, so you may not hear from us for a couple of days!  Have a great weekend!

~LilSis

In Loving Memory

July 30, 2009

Today is our dad’s 74th birthday.

Daddy-Bday-09

We know that where he is, birthdays don’t exist because we won’t age, we won’t be sick, and we won’t ever pass from that that place of eternal joy!

Life will never be the same for those of us that he left behind. SisMama lost the one and only love of her life and we lost a great dad that loved each of us unconditionally, no matter what!

Until we see him again, we all miss him every single minute of every day.

Only One Important News Item Today…

July 29, 2009

There’s a lot going on in the news this week.

  • Someone allegedly stole Michael Jackson’s nose from the morgue.  He supposedly had a jar with 6 noses to choose from in his closet.
  • Rumors are flying that Rihanna is hooking up with Chris Brown again, fueled by their stays at Trump Tower in NYC last weekend.
  • The Bachelorette chose the guy she’ll dump soon get married to (I didn’t watch).
  • “More to Love” premiered last night (nope, not watching).
  • President Obama wants the parties involved in the Harvard professor arrest debacle to sit down in the White House with him and have a beer, but it can only be a domestic beer.
  • South Texas is experiencing a serious drought and off-duty cops are on patrol for water wasters, while neighbors are tattling on each other for using their sprinklers.

I don’t really want to talk about that stuff though, because today is Big T’s birthday!  Twenty-five years ago today, I became an aunt for the first time.  I’ve been blessed with another nephew and a niece since then, and all three are equally special, but there’s something unforgettable about that first experience when you realize you’re an aunt.  I can’t quite describe it, except to say that being an aunt has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

I can remember when Big T was born, and I have lots of snapshots in my mind of him as Lil T and Medium T over the years.

  • I’ll NEVER forget how we had to pull over for an emergency diaper change in my ’84 Chrysler Laser on the way back from visiting our grandmother in West Texas. When I say emergency, I mean EMERGENCY DIAPER CHANGE!  Don’t breathe; just get that diaper off the kid and then let’s see how fast we can drive with the windows down to air out the funk in the car!
  • I remember LilSis and I taking Lil T to the first Main Street Arts Festival, struggling with the stroller over the power cables.  I still go to that every year, all these years later, but it’s never as much fun as that first year.
  • I can hear him repeating “I weddy go now!” at increasing decibel levels until we finally left the State Fair of Texas.  When he was done, he was done!
  • I can see Lil T sitting in his car seat – face red as a beet and sweating like a pig who knows he’s dinner (as Dr Phil would say) – waiting on the a/c to fire up in the middle of a sweltering Texas summer.  All he could say was “Haaaa”, which was toddler-speak for hot.  We still say that in our family when we’re really hot.
  • We still laugh about his acting debut as a little hobo, when he ad libbed and scooped up a fellow actress in his wheelbarrow and scooted her all around the stage, to our amusement but to the horror of his teacher!
  • Even though it’s NOT funny and I’m NOT advocating violence, I can’t help but laugh at the story of him stabbing a bully kid in the leg with a pencil, after warning him that one more insult of “fancy pants” would end with graphite in his leg. :-D
  • I still think about the July 4th parades we used to go to, with 100 degree heat at 9 am, and wonder why we did it!
  • And I have tons of memories of his hockey goals and his smooth signature wrap-around-the-goal move.

So how did the years fly by so fast?  Now Big T is a grown-up man with a responsible job, an incredible sense of humor, a big personality, and some really cool tattoos!  How did this happen?  WHEN did this happen? Somehow 25 years passed…

Happy birthday, Big T!  You’re an awesome nephew; thanks for making me an aunt!  And thanks for all of the memories.  I can’t wait for 25 more years as your aunt.

Note to our readers:  Thanks for indulging me today while I went off on a personal walk down memory lane.  I couldn’t let this day pass without a shout-out to Big T!

~BigSis

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Triple Chocolate Birthday Cake

May 27, 2009

I have to admit it, I have a confession to make.  My name is BigSis, and I’m a baking-from-scratch snob.  If I’m going to go to the trouble to bake something, I think it’s better if it’s made from scratch.  It’s always felt like it’s cheating to use a mix.  It’s not that I think I’m Miss Pastry Chef 2009, and that everything that emerges from my kitchen has a halo above it’s head.  I don’t think that at all.  So I don’t know why I have this snobbery about baking mixes, I just always have.

However, I recently entered a baking contest that required the use of a cookie mix, and I also used a brownie mix in another contest.  And guess what?  They were pretty darn good!  I was pleasantly surprised!  Now I’ve had to reevaluate my prejudice toward scratch baking, and admit that some mixes are worth using, and that there is no shame in using them!  Truth is, (gasp) you sometimes can’t even tell when a mix has been used.  For example, the Kahlua Bundt Cake I made recently used a mix, and so does this Triple Chocolate Cake I made for a co-worker’s birthday last week.

In my opinion, “doing things” to these mixes is the trick.  Add some vanilla, some coffee, some puddin, some licker…you get the idea.  For this cake, I took a tweak from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor, and jumped off from there with some changes of my own.  One important note is that the original recipe called for baking the cake 58 to 62 minutes.  When I checked mine at 50 minutes, however, it was already done and I think it might have been done a minute or two before that, so keep an eye on this bugger.

Triple Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing
(adapted from Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor)

For the cake:

1 pkg Devil’s Food or Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 3.9 oz pkg Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup canola oil
4 extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus extra for garnish if desired (I used the swirled chocolate/white chocolate chips)

For the chocolate icing:

1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dash salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with flour-added non-stick spray, or grease and flour the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for about a minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for 2 or 3 minutes.  The batter will be very thick.  Fold in the chocolate chips, mixing well to evenly distribute them.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth out.  Bake in the preheated oven until the cake begins to pull back from the sides of the pan, and a tester comes out clean, about 48 to 52 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes.  Carefully run a long thin-bladed knife around the perimeter of the cake to loosen it, and invert it onto the rack to continue cooling.  Meanwhile, make the icing.

In a medium-size saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, and coffee.  Stirring constantly, bring it to a boil over medium heat, 3 or 4 minutes.  Continue stirring for an additional minute to ensure the sugar is dissolved completely.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt, and then the chocolate chips.  Stir to melt the chips.  Icing should be smooth and shiny.

Pour the warm icing over the cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.  Sprinkle additional chocolate chips over the top of the cake if desired.

choccake1

Happy Birthday, Chocolate Lovers!

This cake was rich, and very very chocolaty!  I’d make it again, and start checking it for doneness around 45 minutes.  The icing is really unusual, and good but pretty sweet.  I think the bittersweet chips were a good choice in it; I absolutely wouldn’t use milk chocolate chips in it.  They’d be way too sweet.  Oh, and don’t worry about a strong coffee flavor in this cake.  I didn’t taste coffee at all actually; the coffee just brought out the rich flavor of the chocolate.  I might also add some cinnamon to the batter next time since I love that coffee-cinnamon-vanilla-chocolate combo.

So would I use another cake mix?  Sure, I would.  But would I rather make a cake from scratch if I had the time?  Oh, yeah!  There’s something so satisfying and fun in that experience.  But if time is short, I think a doctored-up cake mix still shows someone that you cared enough to fire up your oven, heat up your kitchen and get chocolate batter all over your favorite shorts, rather than drive to a bakery!

~BigSis