Trader Joe’s SMOKED PAPRIKA


Traeder Joe’s has these cans of SMOKED PAPRIKA, which is Spanish Pimenton. Smoky, mildly sweet and flavorful. This lovely paprika is really nice in so many things and matches well with chicken, fish, shrimp and especially well with pork. I frequently make Pork Tenderloin Filets, cut into thickish slices (tournedos) coated very liberally with a lot of smoked paprika, crushed garlic and salt and pepper, for a super easy dish which takes about 5 minutes. Just sauté the “tournedos” in a good amount of Olive Oil till golden brown but still pretty rare on the inside. Remove and add a little stock, wine or even water to deglaze the pan to make a pan sauce with a few knobs of butter. Easy, fast and delicious. TJ’s SMOKED PAPRIKA is $2.49 a tin.

Trader Joe’s FLOR DE SAL Portuguese sea salt (great gift idea!)


(Update: These seem to have sold out very quickly!)

Trader Joe’s FLOR DE SAL, like French Fleur de Sel, is a naturally harvested sea salt. This is from Portugal. It has large grains, and is good for a “finishing salt”, something you can sprinkle a few grains on top just before serving, or leave the crock on the table as I am doing. When I saw these attractive crocks, which are only five bucks, I immediately thought, “Perfect Christmas Gift”!

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/portuguese-flor-de-sal-074632

– TRADER JOES SAYS: “Similar to its French equivalent, Fleur de Sel, Trader Joe’s Portuguese Flor de Sal is collected by hand, from a thin layer of salt crystals that form on the surface of the sea—it’s a gentle process, unlike traditional sea salt harvesting methods that use machines. The Salt crystals are small, delicate, and flaky— the name means salt flower in Portuguese. This Salt contains more moisture than traditional sea salt. It’s preserved in a ceramic crock and topped with a cork lid, which helps protect the crystals and keep them from drying out—it’s a terrific vessel that makes this salt tremendously giftable, and also offers countless re-use options once you’ve enjoyed the contents.”

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC RAW PUMPKIN VINEGAR (Fall Item)


FALL SEASONAL ITEM – Trader Joe’s Organic Raw Pumpkin Vinegar, “RAW ORGANIC VINEGAR WITH THE MOTHER, UNPASTEURIZED AND UNFILTERED”

If you are one of those into Trader Joe’s All Things Pumpkin every Fall you may find this interesting enough to check out.

It’s made exactly like they make the Apple Cider Vinegar TJ’s carries, just instead of apples they are using pumpkins. I compared the taste of TJ’s Apple Cider Vinegar and this Pumpkin Vinegar side by side to compare them to each other. Now the Apple Cider Vinegar is something I’m really used to, taste-wise and just find that really really good, a perfect vinegar. ACV tastes just right to me especially as far as acidity and sharpness. This pumpkin vinegar has the slightest taste of pumpkin. It seems to be more mellow than ACV even though technically the acidity in both is the same. Both say “diluted to 5% acidity”. But this pumpkin vinegar seems less sharp to me. So if you want a less sharp vinegar, this may be for you. Me, while I find this “interesting”, it’s just a curiosity item. I’d probably say I prefer my good old reliable ACV. I could see this vinegar as being good for making a milder vinaigrette. Or used to make a shrub (drink with vinegar)?

This is $1.99 for a 8 1/2 oz bottle. I can get a way bigger bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar for just a little more ($2.49). I probably wouldn’t buy this again. Side-note – TJ’s once carried a raspberry vinegar which I actually did like a lot, as it did actually taste of raspberries. I liked that for salad dressings – but sadly it vanished like so many good TJ’s items! (Sigh)

TJ’s says: “Our supplier takes fresh, cold-pressed, organic Pumpkins and ferments them into a cider. Then they add the vinegar “mother” (a culture of good bacteria) and ferment them together to become the seasonal vinegar before you—the very same process that is used to turn apples into our Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. This Organic Raw Vinegar is unpasteurized and unfiltered—giving it a gorgeously cloudy, orange hue—with a subtle pumpkin flavor. Use it to create a unique vinaigrette for your salads or add a tablespoon to give a punch of acidity to chilis, stews, and sauces. Best yet, combine with sparkling water for a homemade pumpkin shrub!”

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-raw-pumpkin-vinegar-074212

Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD / DIP (with Spinach recipe hack)


This has become one of my favorite items at Trader Joe’s! If you love garlic as much as I do, you too will love thier “GARLIC SPREAD DIP” . It’s great and has become yet one more TJ’s must have item I have to always have in the fridge now. I think of it as much as an ingredient as a “spread”. You can add a spoon of this to a dish to give things an immediate flavor boost, almost like you would fresh garlic. I put this in mashed potatoes, spinach, pasta, hummus…. It’s so versatile. It makes a great spinach dish. I came up with a super quick recipe hack using just 2 things: frozen) spinach and this stuff. See my “recipe”below.

Quite a few countries have some type of garlic spread like this. In Lebanese cooking, they have the garlic spread called “Toum” (and basically TJ’s spread is Toum). In Greece, they have a spread called “Skordalia” made from garlic, olive oil and potato. In the South of France they have the yummy yellow garlicky mayonnaise called, “Aioli” famously served on toasted baguette slices alongside Bouillabaisse. Mashed garlic acts as an emulsifier with oil to make a spread. Trader Joe’s version like Lebanese toum is an emulsified paste of garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt, traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. They did not skimp on garlic. TJ’s GARLIC SPREAD is so garlicky it’s not funny. True garlic lovers will want to try this on everything. So what can you use this Garlic Spread on? To start with just try it on thin slices of toasted baguette, which will be match well with a salad or soup like croutons or garlic bread. This stuff is especially good for any pasta dish. Just toss in a spoonful into your finished pasta, especially tomato pasta (PESTO ROSSO? Add some of this to jazz it up! Use this instead of butter for cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Put a little into your tuna or egg salad. Eggs, try some in an Omelet for some kick. Salmon or other fish, for sure. I’ve found it’s fantastic in mashed potatoes to jazz them up. Almost any vegetable dish will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this vegan garlic spread, so it’s ideal for vegans and vegetarians as well as us non-vegetarians. It was amazing on the CHICKEN SHAWARMA. Greek yogurt plus some of this spread makes and instant super easy tasty sauce. Here’s a recipe I came up with using spinach. This is a great tasting spinach dish in under 2 minutes.

SPINACH WITH GARLIC SPREAD RECIPE – Two ingredients: frozen spinach and garlic spread. Toss the spinach in a pan with a little olive oil (or butter) and cook for a few minutes till done (keep it bright green!) then add in a nice heaping tablespoon of this Garlic Spread and mix. Fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt if needed. DONE. It will look a little bit creamy and taste absolutely delish. If you want squeeze on a few more sprinkles of fresh lemon.

In fact most vegetable dishes will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this VEGAN spread, so it’s ideal for vegans / vegetarians to give a enormous flavor boost to most things. One thing to remember, it does have calories. It’s mostly oil, like mayonnaise. 2 Tbls have about 150 calories. Its $2.99. GREAT ITEM! I would buy this again

Trader Joe’s COWBOY CAVIAR (corn & black bean salsa)


“Corn, black bean and pepper salsa. Smoky sweet with just the right amount of kick” – Trader Joe’s

This is a must try, if you never had it. Both my wife and I really, really love this terrific salsa. We both even think it could be a pick for a TJ’s Top Ten.

“Cowboy Caviar” – You gotta love that name. “Cowboy Caviar” is a typical South Western dish made with kernels of corn, beans (black beans and/or black eyed peas) in a tomato base. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar is a great version, maybe more in a salsa style with corn, black beans, red bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, lime juice and spices, with some kick to it, from chipotle chiles in adobe which give it a bit of heat plus a smoky undertone. TJ’s doesnt have the heat level rating on the jar. Call it a medium heat? This stuff is soooo good as a salsa, as a dip for chips, like the Corn Dippers, on top of tacos, on top of rice, with eggs, mixed into veggies, alongside grilled chicken, or as a little side dish…. you name it, I think it will perk it up. Its a really good pantry item to have on hand. You can put out some of this with chips or crackers and you can have something in a few seconds for unexpected guests. A jar now goes for $2.99 (13 oz)

I would buy it again.

Trader Joe’s GOLDEN ROUNDS CRACKERS


Similar in appearance to famed Ritz crackers (which in my lifetime, I’ve probably eaten a few thousand of. ). These however I think these may be slightly healthier with better ingredients. For one thing, comparing the ingredients labels, I see TJ GOLDEN ROUNDS list Sunflower Oil and Cane Sugar in them whereas Ritz’s ingredients include Palm Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup. How are these compared to Ritz? They’re good! (OK maybe a tiny bit less compared to Ritz) But the ingredients here are a bit healthier for you and that small difference in taste is outweighed by this. These crackers were very good tasted with a bit of Unexpected Cheddar cheese on top. These crackers are perfect for a cheese plate or snacks. There are about 100 crackers in a box. TJ Golden Round crackers sell for $1.99. $2.69.

Give these a try. I would buy them again.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: CREME FRAICHE


New at Trader Joe’s: Creme Fraiche is kind of the French version of sour cream. However its a bit different, and better that sour cream as it has more butterfat and is a bit less tangy. This is the first time I’ve seen it at Trader Joe’s. This is a welcome addition to the dairy stuff. Fabulous on top of some berries with a little sprinkle of coconut sugar.

A 7.5 oz container is $3.99.

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-sour-cream-and-crme-frache-203467

Trader Joe’s PEANUT & CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT


“CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT: The crispy part of the kit includes a package of tiny fried rice “CRISPY NOODLES”. The problem? After you put on dressing? These become “Not Crispy” Noodle bits.

Pros: The Asian style Peanut Dressing they give you is tasty. It’s a bit similar to TJ’s Organic Sesame Dressing (so you could make something like this yourself using that dressing)

Cons: Cabbage as the first ingredient in the salad. I thought it was cut way too big so the salad is a bit tough and too chewy. The softer Romaine lettuce, not cabbage, should have been the first ingredient IMO, plus this cabbage should be sliced thinner. However the main problem with this whole idea for a “Crispy Noodle salad kit” is obvious. The moment you mix in those “crispy noodles” (which are tiny, see pic) with the dressing and mix it all in, the “crispy noodles” become not crispy, of course. Maybe if they used some larger kind of crispy noodles, maybe like the kind you get in a Chinese restaurant? For me, these little fried rice noodles are a Fail. We both though this salad just wasn’t good. I won’t buy it again. Its goes for $3.99. You want crispy? What might work is add some lightly crushed PLANTAIN CHIPS to this. Or croutons.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC TOASTED SESAME DRESSING & marinade


Trader Joe’s says “A versatile dressing that can be used for salads, marinades and dips.”

I really like this. It is delicious as well as versatile. It’s an organic Japanese / Asian sesame based dressing which is great for any salads and for coleslaw. Savory and a little sweet, with lots of Umami. Versatile as in, this is more than just for salads. It is also an excellent marinade which you can use to marinate many foods. For one thing its terrific to use with chicken. Marinate the chicken in some of this sauce for 1/2 hr or more before grilling, then brush on some more near the end as a glaze. You can also do the exact same thing with Tofu. It is really great as a sauce with the Baked Tofu. Slice up the tofu and pour some of this sauce over and sprinkle with scallions. Its also good just added on top of any sauteed veggies. Cold noodles with sesame sauce (add some more toasted sesame oil and some peanut butter and soy)

You could even mix in a tablespoon of chunky peanut butter into a some of this dressing for a Thai type variation.

Now $3.99 for a 12 oz bottle.

I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s THAI SWEET GINGER SAUCE


Trade Joe’s new product: THAI SWEET GINGER SAUCE. It seems to be flying off the shelves, people seem to love it. I am guessing mostly for all the frozen DUMPLINGS they buy?

I tried it and I can say it’s pretty good (though I do like my homemade dipping sauce). This sauce is quite thick and garlic-y. Ingredients include pickled garlic, coconut sugar, and coriander. Personally I think it needs even more ginger. I added some fresh grated ginger, and I found it very improved. I also found it good with something spicy added (Bomba or Peri-Peri) However even just poured out of the bottle this stuff is good. Serve this with all of your frozen dumplings obviously, either fried or steamed/boiled ones. Its quite good on sautéed tofu. Grilled chicken of course! Grilled shrimp? Perfect for shrimp or any fish for that matter. Even just try this on top of rice or just grilled veggies. It will add flavor.

THAI SWEET GINGER Sauce is $2.49 for a 10 oz bottle.

Yesterday it was out of stock. It’s popular and people are really buying up this stuff!

Is this replacing the red bottle of SWEET CHILI SAUCE? I am afraid thats gone now. I like both sauces and the chili sauce has been a must have item for me for ever. Sigh. I will have to go back to getting CHILI SAUCE in Chinatown. Its a staple condiment in Asian cuisine.

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