Thursday Things

Time for this week’s Thursday Things:

1. There’s a large recall extending to 76 items made by Sunland, a Portales, New Mexico-based nut butter maker due to salmonella concerns. I had an unopened jar of their creamy Valencia peanut butter and I brought it back to my local grocery store yesterday, no questions asked.

Sunland opted to pull all the 76 different products from stores, including almond butter and peanut butter. Sunland’s nut butters are sold in a variety of grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s pulled its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter from shelves after it was linked to 29 salmonella cases in 18 states. I know many bloggers and blog readers who use this particular peanut butter in abundance.


As much as I love Trader Joe’s, and am a contributing author in this Trader Joe’s Cookbook, a salmonella outbreak is scary stuff.

2. I think making your own Homemade Peanut Butter in about 5 minutes in the comfort of your own kitchen rather than buying it sounds like a better and better idea all the time.

3. Mini Kraft Paper Bags, set of 10 for $4.50 from Papercookie – What adorable little gift bags these would make without breaking the bank at just 45 cents each

4. Want to be Fox’s next Master Chef?

“What kinds of cooks are you looking for?

We are on a nationwide search for talented amateur cooks from all types of backgrounds, and with a range of cooking styles to audition for season 4. Whether you enjoy cooking delightful desserts or hefty main courses, whether you cook fine French cuisine or prefer a great tasting burger, we want to hear from you. If cooking is your passion, you cannot miss out on this opportunity.”

They have open casting calls all over the country in these 11 cities if you want to try out.

5. Wondering what’s in those mystery containers in your freezer?

Just write on the containers with dry erase crayons and the mystery meal problem is solved.

6. Cory of Zesty Blog Consulting, is hosting a 4-class online WordPress Workshop. For the past couple years Cory has done all my site maintenance and he’s a great resource. If you need help with your blog, how to make your blog better, how to do things on your own without wasting tons of time trying to figure it out, or want to run your own blog better, you may want to check out the workshop.

“The workshop is a live, four-week comprehensive WordPress training program.  We teach you how to customize and manage your current WordPress website or blog with ease and confidence.  No more wasting time trying to figure things out on your own. In just four, one-hour classes, you’ll master all the basics: how to build custom pages, links and posts, use plugins, update widgets, manage media, and much, much, more. You’ll also get homework and worksheets to make sure you really get it, and you get to ask me all your questions as you go, so you’ll never feel like you’re on your own. Don’t worry if you’re not a “technical” person. I promise, no experience with computer graphics, coding, or web design is required.  At the completion of the course you will have the skills required to run your blog or website effectively — all by yourself.”

7. Top Tips for Baking Cupcakes in Bulk including, “Measure out batches of dry ingredients in advance, keep in ziplock bags – This saves TONNES of time and really can be done whenever you have a spare hour or so!”

8. Miso Maple Sweet Potato Tacos with Coconut Cilantro Sauce – I am in love with each and every ingredient and flavor in the recipe title

I can’t get enough sweet potatoes lately from Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Caribbean Seasoning

To using them in three-ingredient and 15-minute Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Coconut Milk Soup

And I have a sweet potato recipe coming tomorrow.

9. After all those hot potatoes, ice cream would go down so easily.

It’s probably a good thing that I don’t own an ice cream maker because Brown Sugar Bourbon Ice Cream sounds a little too amazing, and it’s plated next to Apple Croustades

10. Felt Coasters, Set of 4 for $9 from West Elm – Great price and I think felt is a great material for coasters because it’s absorbent.

I have ruined nice leather coasters, and more importantly, ruined an expensive dining room tabletop because said leather coasters didn’t actually absorb the condensation that dripped from the water glasses.  Instead, the moisture pooled on top of the leather coasters, spilled over, and left water-rings on the table, bigger and more pronounced than just setting glasses directly on the table would have been.

Leather coasters are pretty, but in my opinion, not functional or practical. Kind of like a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, but I’d much prefer a pair of those to a pair of coasters.

What are your Thursday Things?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

Do food recalls scare you or cause you to say, hmmm, I wonder just how safe, or not, our food supply is?

They are un-nerving, but the overwhelming vast majority of us can’t grow all the produce we need to survive nor do we have the agricultural land, climates, or resources to grow things like sugar beets for sugar, wheat for flour, soybeans, grains, or any large-scale crop. We live in an era in which we need to depend on purchased food.

I think most food is safe, and our immune systems are strong and humans are resilient creatures, but when these outbreaks happen, it does give me pause to wonder what, if anything, I could do differently to stay as safe and healthy possible and protect my family.

I also don’t necessarily think buying organic or locally-grown will always keep one safe, either. Unfortunately, food-borne illnesses can strike anyone at anytime. I got a horrendous case of food poisoning from a 5-star restaurant about 10 years ago; bacteria didn’t discriminate.

Thanks for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + KitchenAid Stand Mixer + $200 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card Giveaway entries


  1. I agree with your thoughts on things… safety is a concern but I don’t know that there is any way for things to be perfect. I just want everyone to do their best though!

  2. This peanut butter/salmonella situation is really scary! The sweet potato and red pepper soup recipe looks so unbelievably delicious. Excited for the recipe :-)

  3. Anxious to see that sweet potato recipe tomorrow!! Sweet potatoes are may favorite tuber. Yes all these contamination problems are scary. I remember an e-coli problem with green onions many years ago, and listeria tainted cantaloupe last year (and another cantaloupe recall late this past summer). I also remember a salmonella problem with PB a few years ago, but can’t remember the brand or manufacturer. I have been using a diluted peroxide rinse on my produce….and am thankful that I love homemade nut butter and can whip it quickly!

    • Oh the recipe is so you! Well, I bet you’ll make it. Easy and there’s zucchini, too!

      Another person told me about the cantaloupe scare this summer (we were in Aruba and i was buying 1 a day for like…a month! the family couldn’t get enough!)..but I totally missed the news on that one. Probably best! lol

  4. Your blog always makes me want to try making my own peanut butter at home! Recalls definitely freak me out a bit freaked out. Knowing me, I’d get the ingredients in the food processor and go “omg, are these peanuts safe to make peanut butter with?”

  5. Food recalls are so scary – especially when you think you are making the right decisions…I hope you are trying out for the Fox Cooking Show!…and dry erase crayons are on my shopping list…hello I didn’t know these existed. so excited!

  6. Recalls do scare the crap out of me. It makes me wonder what’s going on behind closed doors. So, I agree with you that making homemade peanut butter (or as much homemade stuff as possible) is the way to go. You have total control AND 9 times out of 10 it tastes better :)

    And those mini paper bags are so cute! Great for party favors.

  7. The PB recalls are scary! I love the idea of writing on freezer containers! I don’t freeze a ton of stuff (because our freezer isn’t very big) but we have thought about getting a big one for the garage. This would be perfect for that. Happy Thursday

  8. Those recalls are so scary. Makes you not want to eat anything processed. Or fresh, let’s not forget the recent cantaloupe recall! Crazy stuff.
    Great roundup of fun stuff here Averie!

  9. yesterday i was making a snack with some pumpkin in it… tried adding some vanilla and the cap fell off dumping nearly half the bottle in. I thought, well Averie would enjoy this. Then I go to add cinnamon and opened the wrong side of the cap dumping a heaping tablespoon and I thought again, well this is right up Averie’s alley hahaha. I still ate it all and it was delicious.

  10. OhMyGod, every time I see that picture of your sweet potato soup I crave it! Looks so creamy…need to make it this weekend. Yes, food recalls definitely get me thinking! I try not to dwell on it too much though, because I have a feeling if we knew what was in all our food there would be just a handful of things we’d actually eat…or at the very least, we’d never eat in restaurants, lol!

  11. I have the almond butter, and I hear they were taking that from the shelves too, but I’ve already eaten it! I feel okay. I think. Wait. Oh no.

  12. I am making your Asian Peanut Pasta Salad again today for another group of friends. I think it needs it’s own facebook page! It is quite popular here in Arizona :)

  13. I get so freaked out by food contamination. I feel like I just started enjoying peanuts and peanut butter again from the last recall and now this comes up. It hit close to home as I buy TJs PB, though never that kind. It makes me wonder if any peanut products are safe or more recalls will come. I’ve been known to rinse produce in really cheap vodka or alcohol of some kind to kill germs, particularly if it’s not from this country. It’s something I definitely think about every time I go out to eat. I read reviews obsessively and if one person says they got sick, I don’t eat there. Ever. On a lighter note, I just bought an ice cream maker and can’t wait to break it in and cross making ice cream off my bucket list.

    • I am LOLing at the really cheap vodka comment – it’s probably not an awful idea. I spend at least 2 months a year outside the US and where all food comes from South or Central America or Mexico and usually don’t get sick and don’t wash anything in vodka :) but it’s a fun thought!

  14. I rarely pay attention to the food recalls, since I buy so little of the stuff that is normally recalled. I did notice last week that TJs recalled their pb, only because I just finished a jar that my mom got for me!

    I noticed that apple and ice cream recipe the other day and almost emailed you a link! I thought it sounded like something you’d like.

    Here’s a Thursday Thing for you: a Cookie Dipper! It’s “a special utensil that holds sandwich cookies securely as they travel from milk to mouth.” It’s only $2!

  15. I love those kraft bags, thanks for sharing!

  16. Recalls scare me in general. Remember the spinach one from a few years back? Isn’t is funny how it’s usually all the healthy foods that this happens to?

  17. Speaking of nut butter recalls, today I went to Fresh Market and they said that Justin’s Nut Butter had recalled their honey peanut butter squeeze packs AND their creamy original jars! Looks like peanuts are getting sick :(

  18. Yeah, food recalls scare me … especially when I cannot remember what is in my freezer (where I got it from and when). Ooops!

  19. Oh gosh, I eat that TJ’s peanut butter every day!! If I’m already half way through a jar and haven’t felt any side effects, I wonder if I could keep going… ha, I hate parting with my peanut butter!

    Can’t wait for the sweet potato recipe!

  20. Those mini Kraft paper bags are ADORABLE! I especially love love love the polka dot one. I’d stuff them with cookies and give them to my coworkers for the holidays! Write their names in red and green on top – perfect idea! MMMM miso maple sweet potato tacos sound heavenly! I plan to make a sweet potato chili this weekend or next – now I’m thinking of adding a bit of maple syrup to the vegetable mix! I can’t wait for your sweet potato recipe tomorrow Averie!!

    Recalls definitely scare me. I’ve eaten that valencia PB wayyyy too often recently and now I’m worried! I’m obviously fine though, btu that’s some scary stuff right there. boo hoo TJs. :(

    • I knew you ate the PB! Funny that I had a jar of it my hand at TJs this weekend and didnt buy it b/c 1. i like my own homemade better and 2. I already have soooooo many jars of storebought that I need to use up first!

      Ive seen recipes before for chili with sweet potatoes and said recipes use a pinch of cocoa powder and/or espresso powder and maple. There’s really no way to mess up chili (or casseroles!) Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Now I have my own wheels turning!

  21. Hi Averie, no, food recalls don’t scare me at all, it is just another reminder to me that in order to protect my family we need to strengthen our immune system. As of that specific recall, there’s no direct evidence that the peanut butter caused it. It just said that “it is the likely source of the outbreak”. To link it directly to that particular peanut butter the lab has to find the salmonella in the jar, otherwise it could be from another source, just carried on contaminated hands through the day to someones mouth.
    My Thursday thing? I had a good yoga practice today, which was very helpful after all my weekend drama (posted on my blog). :)
    I was thinking of that Carrot pineapple banana bread you made yesterday, I shell make it: the flavor is quite intriguing… I know you may find it strange, but I’ve never had any zucchini bread, or banana bread, or carrot cake… I know, I am very conservative, and you know I don’t eat sweets, so here I am… Do you know another person, who haven’t tried any of those cakes/breads? :)

  22. I love those chalkboard pans…they would be awesome for a party…but I think they would only work if you don’t have to worry about schmearing issues. Still, I want them, just in case.

    I loved the last season of Master Chef. A blind girl won and I literally cried when she won. It was so inspiring. I would try out but my idea of a creative recipe is adding sirachua to it. So that’s not happening.

  23. Oooohh, thanks for the heads up on that recall. Yikes!

    I made some carrot cake cookies this week. Amazing. Here’s the linky:

    And speaking of “making your own” stuff, I’ve taken to making my own almond milk:

  24. I’ve made homemade almond butter and it’s a bit too grainy for my taste. Maybe I should try PB….

  25. Recalls are kinda scary. I hope to have time to go back to our local farmer’s market when the baby is older. I mean, a few years ago a 2 year old died from contaminated fresh spinach that his mom put in his smoothie!!

    Or maybe next year I’ll have to upgrade to a full share at our CSA. The half share just isn’t doing it AT ALL. We run out of veggies in three days.

    I think I might have to make my own peanut butter. Luckily we bought a different kind of TJ’s peanut butter not on the recall list.

    • With my CSA I was OVERWHELMED with produce for the first half the week (scrambling to use it before it went bad in a scramble hurry-hurry kind of way – I hate cooking like that) and then the second half I was depleted. I never could just get into a nice, easy, groove. Tried for 3 years, too! :)

  26. Christina @ The Beautiful Balance Reply

    I have to be honest, Trader Joes Valencia peanut butter is disgusting, in my opinion. Maybe I had a jar with salmonella and it hadn’t developed completely to make me hospitalized, but I thought it was awful and threw two jars away. I bought them for baking and they broke my number one rule for baking and cooking. If the ingredients are not quality, the outcome will not be quality.

    • Oh wow interesting you hated it! I have actually never tried it! Almost bought some last weekend but didn’t b/c I thought I love my homemade so much AND I have jarred on hand I need to use up before I ‘try out’ anything new! Everyone ‘raves’ about it and I appreciate you saying you were not a fan. I like to hear all types of reviews on things!

  27. Food safety is a big concern these days. With GMOs in practically everything and news about arsenic in rice and pink slime in ground beef, I now only buy organic whenever possible. I also stay away from as much processed foods as I can. I used to buy almond milk thinking that I was making a better choice than cow’s milk, but have found out that carrageenan is in almost every carton on the shelf and it is a known carcinogen. Now I soak almonds and make my own almond milk.

  28. Food recalls totally freak me out. Especially because I have gotten sick from one before. NOT fun.

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