Seriously, I step in and I feel like I’m a whole new girl. A girl who takes interest in prepared kale salads, pre-cut celery and gorgonzola gnocchi. I immediately want to buy every last bouquet of their gorgeous flowers and already after putting a couple in my basket I’ve blown whatever modicum of a budget I ever had.
And then I get all up in the prepared food section and think about making a lobster ravioli because that’s practical, and how I’ll use these breaded turkey roulades to make the best damn dinner ever (even though my family would cringe at the word ‘roulade’), and oh! what about this flax granola? I totally read somewhere once that flax is good for you, and since I thought about wanting to eat healthy five months ago, I’ll just buy ten of these.
The frozen section? Honey. Take my money and burn it all to the freakin’ ground. I’m particularly fond of all of their appetizers, which makes me feel like a starved hog at an all-your-can-eat buffet, and their Chinese food selection which, when purchased and consumed, adds another 10 pounds to the scale. Notice how they don’t talk about that on their little descriptor tags.
And how come the cookies and candies are lined up like little thigh-expanding soldiers right above the frozen fruits and veggies? Seriously, I can’t buy a damn pack of frozen blueberries without caving and knocking all of the Joe-Joe’s into my cart with reckless abandon. Whyyyyy, I’l scream as I pluck five cartons of fleur de sel caramels into my basket, contemplating my poor life choices up to this pivotal moment. I am a monster.
Oh – and the chip aisle? Not even cute. My love affair for chips is ever-growing, like my waistline, and Trader Joe’s only exacerbates this issue of mine. I fool myself every time with the Reduced-Guilt Cheddar Puffs, because this obviously means they’re healthy, I’ll think as I mow down an entire bag during a particularly bitchy episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And the cheddar&caramel popcorn mixed up Chicago style? Kill me now; it’s so good.
Don’t even get me started on the “New Products” section, which transforms me into a somewhat-practical human being into a marketer’s dream come true. I’ll stare sparkly-eyed at the latest almond butter with flax seed, wistfully remembering the blip-fact about flax I read somewhere, and despite the fact that I don’t eat almond butter, will buy it anyway because it’s “new” and it has “flax” and the package is cute and cheeky. Or the peanut butter & jelly chocolate bar that sounds terrible but I throw five in my cart anyway because I have to be the first to try said terrible product or it didn’t happen, duh.
So yeah – all this before I even checkout is a nightmare. And I didn’t even explain the terror caused by all of the HORRIBLE CART-DRIVERS inside every Trader Joe’s store. It’s like their subtext to their name is Where All the Terrible Cart-People Are because you can’t even access the granola bars without asking until you’re blue in the face for that pregnant, green-juice-slurping model mom to move her tush. And trying to get sugar? Honey, you’ll sooner mill your own damn sugar than get in there behind Grandma Dolores, who’s hogging up half the aisle with her cart full of beans.
BUT amidst all of the chaos and bumper-carts that Trader Joe’s brings, they have some amazing stuff for-reals. For instance, I adore their cookie butter spread (so amazing!) and their jumbo cinnamon rolls are the best in their class. And there was one new product that stood out to me like a beacon of light in a sea of angry people pushing red carts: this Cookies and Creme Cookie Butter. Behold, a cookie spread made of ground chocolate Joe-Joe’s (their version of Oreos) and the creme filling. Seriously. It was a no-brainer; that stuff was in my cart faster than you could say ‘banana bread’… which is ironically what I ended up making with it!
This Oreo Cookies & Cream Banana Bread is easily one of the best things I’ve made recently. It’s moist, full of banana flavor, and is studded with chopped pieces of Oreo cookies. I prefer mine cut super thick with a heaping slathering of this cookie butter on top to really drive that cookies & cream flavor home… but I won’t judge you if you skip out on ol’ TJ’s and just stuff your face with the bread naked. Well, the bread is naked. Not you. That’s weird. I’ll stop.
Anywho: Banana Bread. Make it!
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 & ¼ cups brown sugar
- ⅓ cup (about 1 small carton) Greek yogurt (I used vanilla flavor, but you may use banana or even plain)
- 2 cups mashed banana (from about 3-4 medium-sized brown or black bananas)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 small box cookies & cream pudding mix (if you cannot find this, use regular vanilla)
- 1 & ½ cups Oreo cookies, coarsely crushed
- Trader Joe's Cookies n Creme Butter Spread, optional for garnish but recommended
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 9" loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, pudding mix (just the dry mix) and cinnamon with a whisk until blended. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and softened butter until combined. Add in the Greek yogurt, eggs and mashed banana. Using a spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just about combined, then fold in the crushed cookies at the last minute. Mixture may be slightly lumpy; this is OKAY and do not continue stirring as it will result in a tougher bread.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for approx. 30 minutes, then lightly tent the pan with foil and return to the oven to bake for another 30 minutes. Test bread for doneness at the 60-minute mark by inserting a toothpick into the center. It should come out with moist crumbs. Cool the bread completely in the pan before cutting into slices. Serve with the Cookie Butter slathered on top.
I love this fun twist on banana bread by using crushed Oreo cookies inside! Every bite is studded with little chunks of crisp chocolate cookies and that sweet hint of marshmallow-y vanilla filling swirled throughout. The Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter on top is the perfect treat to really emphasize that sweet chocolate and creme-cookie taste!