Good morning, readers, on a colorful November day. We begin, as usual, with requests, and with a reminder that we continue to look for the dish that you are enjoying most in your kitchen this month, this year. Here's another reminder: Please share favorite recipes and favorite ingredients from your Trader Joe's experience.

Army wife Carolee Edwards, originally of Marietta, Georgia, is looking for a fruitcake recipe to make for her family this Christmas.

Ms. Edwards continued, "And our family loves peanut butter pretzel bites, but one member of the family can't have peanuts or gluten. Does a reader know of almond butter gluten-free pretzel bites or have a recipe for something similar?"



This morning we have a first favorite dish that has been a hit of late in one Chattanoogan's kitchen. The sender, A.H.L., wrote, "I am going to make a huge pot of this and freeze it. It works well for my family that includes one pescatarian, a couple of vegetarians and some little boys that only want yogurt and quesadillas."


Creamy Vegetarian White Chili

This recipe was adapted from Gimme Some Oven and The Food Network and was recently featured in Vegetarian Ventures.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 white onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced small

1 jalapeño, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon cumin

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

3 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies

3/4 cup frozen corn

2 cups warmed whole milk (use non-dairy if you want to make the recipe vegan)

Salt and pepper to taste

Lime juice, to taste

Garnish options: cilantro, avocado, tortilla chips, pickled jalapeños, radish slices, hot sauce

Heat olive oil over medium in a large stockpot.

Add onion, pepper and jalapeno, and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and onions translucent.

Add garlic and cumin, and sauté for another 30 seconds.

Next, add flour, and toss until the vegetables are coated. Slowly add in vegetable stock, while stirring, and then add in beans, green chilies and corn.

Turn heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium-low, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in warm milk, and let simmer for another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, and season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Divide between serving bowls, and garnish before serving.



Teri Purvis' request for an avocado dressing led her to do her own sleuthing, and the results appear today. She had written looking for the avocado dressing served on a salad at Chesapeake Restaurant in Knoxville.

Ms. Purvis continued, "We made another trip to Chesapeake Restaurant for the wedge salad with avocado dressing. I asked for the recipe, and they told me what goes in it but not the measurements.

"So I will try to duplicate. It contains avocado, ranch dressing, dill and jalapeño."

And in the meantime, she shared three recipes from her research. And as to versatility, "avocado dressing doubles as a dip for fresh vegetables or tortilla chips."


Avocado Dressing No. 1

1 large avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Combine all ingredients, cover and chill. Yield: about 1 1/2 cups.


Avocado Dressing No. 2

Serve with a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onion and bacon.

1/2 cup mashed ripe avocado

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup commercial sour cream

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed

Combine all ingredients in container of an electric blender; blend well. Yield: about 1 cup. Makes 6 servings.


Avocado Dressing No. 3

1 ripe avocado, peeled and mashed

3/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine first 7 ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until blended. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.



As Trader Joe's has finally come to town, last month we featured a request for help in knowing what to buy and how to use the ingredients featured at the store.

The first answer came not to this column, but in the blog of Annie James Products, a local skin-care business. Katie Bostrom raised the question and praised Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups; others recommended their frozen Indian food and the plantain chips.

We still need more recommendations, both recipes and good-to-have-on-hand products, many of them designed to lighten the cook's load.

Ms. Bostrom liked the following combination of easy TJ ingredients, which became for her "a delicious lunch while getting ready a posting for Annie James Products holiday gift sets."


Easy Lunch From Trader Joe's

2 cups arugula

1/2 cup Trader Joe's steamed lentils

2 Trader Joe's cauliflower pancakes (in frozen section)

2 tablespoons Trader Joe's spicy cashew dressing

A sprinkle of Trader Joe's blue cheese

A sprinkle of pumpkin seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Put arugula in the bottom of your serving plate or bowl, and add the other ingredients in order.



And as we end today's column, D.M. of Hixson contributed this appetizer from The New York Times.


Spinach Bites

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

2 cups Pepperidge Farm stuffing

1 onion, chopped

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup melted butter plus butter for pan

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine in a large bowl the spinach, stuffing, onion, eggs, butter and Parmesan cheese. Form into bite-size balls, and place on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, and serve hot. Yield: 36 balls.

These spinach balls may be frozen on the cookie sheet, then transferred to a freezer bag when fully frozen. Defrost 20 minutes before baking.

There you have it, and we were glad to have you with us today.



— Favorite dish of the moment

— Trader Joe's advice

— Fruitcake recipe

— Gluten-free pretzel bites



Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

some text
Jane Henegar