Seen at Trader Joe’s – BANANA PLANTS!


Interesting find at Trader Joe’s. Dwarf Banana Plant in Pot ($14.99)

Classify this as, “Now I’ve seen everything?!? …and BTW those yellow bananas you see aren’t real bananas, they’re actually cardboard cutouts!

Will these really grow (dwarf?) bananas? Curious….

Trader Joe’s “Hold The Cone” MINI ICE CREAM CONES


Hold The Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones

These seem to be pretty popular so I checked them out. My take was they are super cute for one thing if you serve them to someone. Taste wise, they’re pretty good. The chocolate coating was good, the ice cream good (but not as good as TJ’s “premium” coffee bean ice cream). The cones had a slightly stale texture especially at the bottom. So while OK, frankly these wouldn’t make me want to give up a scoop of TJ’s excellent “super premium” Coffee Bean Ice Cream instead of these if given a choice. So while really cute to serve to someone, personally I would prefer a scoop of the better ice cream. The MINI CONES come in a package of 8 for $3.79. If I had a choice of picking this product over a quart of ice cream which is almost the same price don’t think I would get these. I’d get the bigger ice cream, better taste and value, over the “cute factor”.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC FLAXSEED MEAL


TJ’s unfortunately discontinued the Whole Roasted Flax Seeds they used to sell and replaced it with this version with the flax seeds already ground into meal. I preferred the whole flax seeds to this already ground version but if this is the only choice, then I will have to get this. Keep it in the fridge after opening. Its good for Smoothies of course or adding into baked goods or pancakes.

Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX”


Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX” with dried tomatoes, onion and garlic

There was a little controversy when this product first came out as some saw this as a bit of cultural appropriation. What is JOLLOF RICE anyway? It’s a rice dish eaten widely across parts of West Africa, especially Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. Even in Africa the dish has a little controversy. Is it Nigerian or Ghanaian or Senegalese where it has a different name? It’s considered the national dish of Senegal where it’s known as Thieboudienne / Tchebu D’jen. (The word “Jollof” is an English variation of “Wolof” which is both a language and a people)

In my lifetime, I’ve eaten many many plates of authentic Senegalese Tchebu D’jen in many African restaurants back in the day when there were a dozen African restaurants on 116th Street in Harlem when the street used to be known as Petit Dakar . I love this dish and variations of it. Taste a real version of this dish if you ever have the chance. An authentic “JOLLOF RICE” (aka Party Rice, aka Tchebu Djen) from Nigeria, Ghana, or Senegal is an amazing dish. It’s complicated to make with a number of ingredients, another reason that Trader Joe’s coming out with this “instant” version caused a wee bit of controversy on the internet. The mix was developed by a Nigerian family here I believe.

Here’s my take. Out of the package, this is a far, far cry from an authentic African Joloff Rice. I fixed it up when I made it. It has some potential if you fix it up to make something better, not close to what your Nigerian granny would make but something semi-OK and better than just making this package as is.

Here’s my suggestions on how to fix this up: In a large pot, put a tablespoon olive oil and butter (you probably don’t have Palm Oil which is best) Stir in a huge tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds and add a chopped up tomato, 1/2 a chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic minced. Cook 2 minutes, then add your cooking liquid (water, but chicken or veggie broth would be better). 3 cups as the package says is a lot. I reduced to about 2 3/4 cups as the veggies have water. Add a few carrots and a 1/4 cabbage. Boil for 5 minutes. THEN add the package of this “JOLOFF RICE” mix. Add some Smoked Paprika and as much as you like of some spicy mix of PERI-PERI, BOMBA, or ZHOUG . Once it boils lower to a simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let it sit 5 minutes covered to absorb all liquids. When you are ready, serve rice with vegetables on the side/top, and serve some of those spicy sauces on the side for people to adjust to their tastes.

Tchebu Jen is made with smoky dried stockfish in the broth and served with fresh fish. I ate it with some fish on top (smoked sardines and salmon) Other ideas are serving this with grilled chicken or maybe grilled SHAWARMA chicken.

TJ’s SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE mix is $2.69 for an 8 oz package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/spicy-jollof-seasoned-rice-mix-070883

“Originating in West Africa as far back as the 14th century, Jollof rice is more than just an esteemed and storied dish, it’s a cultural force of its own. It’s served as the inspiration for countless recipes across the African diaspora, including jambalaya and gumbo. It’s even sparked a friendly (if not, at times, heated) rivalry between a handful of nations regarding who makes the best version. If you’ve ever had the chance to try it, you know exactly why it’s remained such a vital part of African cuisine for over 700 years.”

Trader Joe’s GREEK CHICKPEAS with parsley and cumin


Absolutely great pantry item. For out of a can, this is really tasty. Trader Joe’s describes this as kind of a “deconstructed hummus” as it has many of the same ingredients in it as hummus does. In fact I served it alongside with hummus and even put some of this on top of the hummus which is a typical serving style, to have some whole chickpeas on top. The flavors in this are really good, they have lemon, parsley, cumin, garlic and black pepper and the seasonings have permeated inside the chickpeas so they are way more tasty than if you just poured on sauce. My only small complaint is they used soybean oil instead of olive oil to cut costs. However this is easily fixed with some of your EVOO. I poured off most of the sauce and added a nice glug of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which did improve it. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice too while you are at it, which will brighten it up so it tastes like you made it yourself. This would be great for say a picnic too. We ate it as a side dish with some Falafel. Good match. Or add a can on top of salad to add some bean protein.

A can is $1.99. PRODUCT OF GREECE.

I would buy this again.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/greek-chickpeas-with-cumin-and-parsley-060205

Trader Joe’s SEEDS & WHOLE GRAINS CRISPBREAD Norwegian Crackers


These are really seedy, really crunch savory flats, made for us in Norway using the bakeriets proprietary process. The crispbreads make a wonderful snack on their own or are perfect with cheese and soup.”

INGREDIENTS: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, wholemeal rye flour, oat bran, oatmeal, flaxseed, spelt bran, wheat bran, water, sea salt, oregano, thyme

I would put this on a Trader Joe’s Best Items list.

I love these crispbreads which are super crunchy Scandinavian crispbreads / crackers. These are good for breakfast, for lunch or for an appetizer/dinner. I buy these all the time, I have to have them in the house. They are super healthy crackers, absolutely loaded with seeds and whole grains. When I say these are “crunchy” I am not kidding, they’re stupendously, can’t hear yourself talk, crunchy. They make a good match with your favorite hummus or any dip or spread. They are great for those Scandinavian open faced sandwiches of course. You could load this up with some Lightly Smoked Salmon with a little cream cheese or mayo (see below) and you will be in Heaven (or Valhalla as the case may be). You can break them in half carefully to make a smaller size base if you want.

PRODUCT OF NORWAY. 8 oz package is $2.99. I would buy them again.

https://www.veggirlrd.com/a-very-versatile-cracker-trader-joes-whole-grain-crispbread/

Get your Viking on! You can not get more Norwegian than these.

Trader Joe’s MEXICAN STYLE ROASTED CORN WITH COTIJA CHEESE


” This unique take on corn combines flavors inspired by Elote, a popular street food in Mexico. Our version is lime spiked slathered in a smoky cream sauce and topped with authentic cotija cheese. “

I find this to be really good Trader Joe’s product. Find this In the frozen veg section. When you open the bag you see corn plus some large pellets. This is the sauce, frozen up, a neat trick. The pellets melt up as you heat it coating the corn in a nice sauce. When its ready to serve you sprinkle on a little package of included grated Cotija cheese (kind of Mexico’s parmesan). Everything works together to make a delicious corn dish inspired by “elotes“. It can be a great side dish for tacos, maybe Carnitas.

$3.29 (14 oz bag)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/mexican-style-roasted-corn-059063

“For this at-home version of what’s often called street corn, we’ve opted to take the kernels off the cob. We’ve enrobed the corn in a creamy, smoky sauce that melts off as the corn heats – it seems magical, but it’s really just simple thermodynamics. It’s also spiked with lime juice and studded with cilantro, lending additional authenticity. A packet of Cotija cheese is included in each package of Corn – when the corn is heated through and ready to serve, sprinkle the crumbled cheese on top. It’s the ideal finishing touch to this crunchy, sweet, smoky, spicy dish. Present it as a side dish with a Mexican-inspired meal, or serve it in individual ramekins as an appetizer course.”

Trader Joe’s Imported FRENCH DIJON MUSTARD (@ bargain prices)


Imported From France. One of the best buys at Trader Joe’s has got to be the real French Dijon mustards they sell. A steal at $1.69.

I love both varieties, both the smooth and grainy versions are terrific. I really love the grainy “Whole Grain” Dijon Mustard with whole grains of mustard seed. The two bottles used to be the same price but now the grainy is $1.99, still a bargain. If you learn how to make a basic “vinaigrette” salad dressing you are set for life and will never have to buy salad dressing, you’ll make restaurant quality dressing in 5 minutes. Either of these Dijon mustards will work great for all kinds of food. The regular Dijon has a kick. The grainy one a bit less. Besides being great on their own, you can use either mustard to marinate and/or coat things to grill, for example, chicken breasts, salmon, or meats. Making sandwiches with Dijon will up your game. Steak with Dijon mustard is the French way and goes great together. Cheese? Yes please. These two are absolute staples for your fridge. Mine always has both.

https://www.seriouseats.com/pantry-essentials-dijon-mustard

Trader Joe’s CHEDDAR CHEESE WITH SCOTCH BONNET PEPPERS


Trader Joe’s CHEDDAR CHEESE WITH SCOTCH BONNET PEPPERS AND SWEET RED PEPPERS

The name may lead you to think this cheese is going to be really spicy. It’s not, it’s mildly spicy with sweet red peppers mixed with some scotch bonnet peppers which balance out to “Sweet With Heat” as the label says. I found this cheese to be really tasty. I would buy it again. $8.99/lb

Trader Joe’s DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS


“Mini Pretzels” with a thick coating of good dark chocolate. Sweet and a little salty. A match made in heaven folks. Love Them! A 12 oz bag is about $3.29. I would buy them again. There is also a milk chocolate version too (no thanks i’ll stick with the dark)

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