TJ’s Mini Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches


Trader Joe’s 12 Mini Mint Ice Cream Mouthfuls – Mint Chip Ice Cream between chocolate cookie wafers

Tiny. Bites. Yummy. Delicious. Minty. Chocolatey. Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Each one is maybe 2 or 3 bites, so they go down easy (too easy! I could eat 6) They’re not too sweet, the mint ice cream matches perfectly together with the chocolate cookie. Let them stay in the freezer till they are nice and firm and as hard as possible. $4 a box. A box will go fast! 1 mini sandwich is 60 calories.

TJ’s Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce


“A creamy, cheesy pasta sauce made wth Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper”

Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe pasta sauce has been getting a lot of buzz since they released it, so I had to give it a try. You know what? It is pretty good. I made a fettucine cacio e pepe with it which turned out to be quite tasty. Making a cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) pasta dish with this could not be easier, basically cook your pasta, open the jar and combine things. The sauce right out of the jar is really thick. A few spoons go a long way, meaning obviously you would not use this whole jar to make say 2 or even 4 portions of pasta. The Nutrition label suggests a jar makes 7 servings. My suggestion is basically use a nice huge heaping 2 tablespoons of sauce per portion of pasta, which you will thin a bit with some of the pasta cooking water later to get a consistency you like to coat the pasta.

TIP: I suggest making this with one of TJ’s excellent Artisan Pasta varieties (spaghetti , fettuccine, radiatore…) Of course shaped pastas, like ziti, are wonderful as well with this type of creamy sauce. You could even do a pan fried Gnocchi.

Cook your pasta, slightly less than al dente, then drain it (saving a 1/2 cup water). Finish your al dente pasta in a pan with a little saved pasta water and a nice grind of black pepper, and add the cacio e pepe sauce, mixing it up a nicely with tongs to coat the pasta, adding a few tablespoons of pasta water as needed, get it to your desired consistency and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.

Naturally they are saving a bit on some ingredients, for example this contains sunflower oil not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix it up so when you plate it. When you serve, grate a nice hit of fresh Pecorino on top, a bit of freshly ground pepper, and if you like a drizzle of your best EVOO. I even put a wee bit of chopped arugula for color (a Roman would protest any addition to the 2 ingredients). If you wanted to put some grated Parmigiano or Grana, they could be delicious additions but again I would not tell your Roman friend about it.

NOTE: be sure to have a block of Pecorino cheese to grate on top as well as fresh ground black or rainbow peppercorns. These fresh items to finish really make this dish.

It says once the jar is opened, refrigerate it and use it up within 3 days. I didn’t want to have it again so soon, so I figured I would just put the jar in the freezer. The following week I did an overnight defrost in the fridge and that seemed to work fine. Naturally you can do other things with this sauce besides using it on pasta. You could use some on vegetables (brussel sprouts, potatoes?) and even mix some into scrambled eggs….?

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070650

Having said this I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is basically two ingredients (Pecorino cheese and Black Pepper) and that’s where the magic happens getting it to emulsify (and not become gloppy). You may have to make it a few times to get the hang of it but once you do, you will really get a great deal of pleasure from making it yourself no doubt. I liked this guy’s take on making it (tip don’t use very hot water to mix with the grated cheese to make the emulsion though and don’t let the cheese boil, just get it warmed up so it doesn’t break) TIP: A few teaspoons of a corn starch slurry makes this foolproof BTW. In fact the Trader Joe Cacio e Pepe sauce incorporates corn starch.

A 14.5 oz jar of TJ’s Cacio e Pepe sauce costs $3.50.

If you get into Cacio E Pepe and want to try to make the sauce yourself yourself, watch these two pro’s, absorb some of their ideas and I bet you will end up with a terrific authentic Cacio e Pepe.

TJ’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


Trader Joe’s Super Premium MINT CHIP ICE CREAM (Mint Chocolate Chip)

Trader Joe’s carries many excellent ice creams and frozen desserts.

This Mint Chip is one of my favorite ice creams they have. It’s deliciously creamy with a great real fresh mint flavor that is cooling and refreshing on a hot summer day. Its loaded with little slivers of chocolate. The color is a natural, creamy white not a fake green that most commercial brands have from adding food coloring. Frankly the reason the box is a bit messed up in the pic as it was so good I didn’t take a picture until after we finished the whole package! We particularly liked this as part of a coffee float with iced coffee! This ice cream, or the wonderful Coffee Ice Cream they sell too!

I find MINT CHIP ICE CREAM is especially great in the summer time with its refreshing minty freshness. Not too mention Spring, Fall, or Winter!

$3.99/1 quart

TJ’s GREEK YOGURT with HONEY


This is what I have started to buy at Trader Joe’s pretty regularly. It’s very lightly sweetened from the honey and I find perfect especially for breakfast with some fruit and my granola in the morning. But I also find other uses for it. I use it like “creme fraiche” or whipped cream as a topping for desserts with a bit lower calorie count than either of those. TJ sells it in a big 32 oz container for $4.99 or small cups for $1.29. It’s quite yummy.

TJ’s TZATZIKI Greek Dip / Sauce


Trader Joe’s TZATZIKI Creamy Garlic Cucumber Sauce / Dip

Tzatziki is a delicious creamy Greek sauce traditionally made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers, lemon, and a ton of garlic. Unless you are lucky enough to have a Greek Yaya (grandma) who makes homemade Tzatziki for you to take home, Trader Joe’s version is perhaps the next best thing. TJ’s version is quite good. I tried it and would buy it again. Tzatziki is a great sauce to have when you make chicken Shawarma or anything grilled, it would be great served even with grilled veggies. It can be served as a dip or can even be used as a salad dressing with some more lemon and olive oil. TJ’s Tzatziki has the first ingredient listed as cucumber, and you can really see this even in the pictures here. This gives it a very little crunchiness. TJ’s version next lists kefir cheese and sour cream (maybe instead of yogurt?) A bit different than if you made it yourself. I does have a bit of dill which I like. I got it for when I was thinking of making Shawarma which I served on top of TJ’s Garlic Naan and it was the perfect sauce for that. Its $3.49 for a 12 oz container.

Want to make Tzatziki yourself? Here’s a link to recipe if you want to try your hand

https://cookieandkate.com/how-to-make-tzatziki/

BTW, this matches well with Indian foods, as it’s a bit similar to Raita

The NY Times had a recipe for Tzatziki Potato Salad which sounds interesting. Here’s the link https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1022307-tzatziki-potato-salad

(registration might be needed)

TJ’s ASIAGO CHEESE with Rosemary & Olive Oil


“Rosemary and Olive Oil intensify the rich nutty Asiago flavor”. Yes, it does! TJ’s Asiago with Rosemary is an excellent, very delicious cheese. I was really impressed when I tasted it. Compared to the regular Asiago that Trader Joe’s carries, which frankly is just OK, this is way more flavorful (and costs a bit more). In this version the added flavors, especially that of rosemary which the cheese is liberally coated with all over, greatly benefits and expands the cheese’s flavor. This cheese is excellent on its own, sliced thinly, and it was great on crackers. It was great with wine. Obviously this cheese will be a great match with almost any Italian dish. I grated this up, then tossed a generous amount over sautéed gnocchi and it was absolutely delicious on them. If you try this with almost any pasta dish you will like it. This is great as a second or third cheese on a Pizza. I did one with it and people scarfed it up! Rosemary Asiago would be great on a cheese plate or charcuterie plate, especially with grapes or other fruits, and some nice crackers. Wine too, naturally! TJ sells this cheese for $9/lb a decent price for a premium cheese like this. Try this, you will love it.

RAVE

Rutland Red Leicester Cheese


RAVE

rutlandredcheese

If you are a cheese lover – I certainly am – you will probably really like this, Rutland Red Leicester. I found it a very interesting cheese and terrific new find. This is a special cheese, I mea a kind of quality hand-made artisanal cheese that one might find in a high end gourmet cheese shop… yet you can buy it at TJ’s (well while they still carry it, don’t tarry, just in case their supply doesn’t last). When my eye caught it in TJ’s cheese section, I first thought it was a French cheese which looks the same and is a favorite of mine called “Mimolette“.

This reddish orange cheese is however from England and is in vein of a true English cheddar. Red Leicester has a wonderful nutty flavor and crumbly texture. Red Leicester is a traditional hard English cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, and is produced in the county of Leicestershire which is up in England’s Midlands. Leicester City is well known for two things these days, Richard III‘s bones and its football team winning the English Premier League a few years back as a 500-1 underdog!

Supposedly the history of Red Leicester cheese dates back to the 17th century when farmers decided that the color of the cheese should denote its richness and to set it apart from cheddar, they decided to give it a reddish color using annatto, a natural vegetable dye.The wheels of cheese are coated in butter to make it richer then wrapped in cloth (i.e., a “cloth-bound”cheese ). Rutland Red Leicester is dense and has that “aged cheese” look and taste with a crumbly flaky texture and has an edible orange rind. I like it sliced very thinly. It’s excellent served on a cracker or toast or with fruit such as apples or grapes. It would probably pair wonderfully with wine, a white or a light red. I also found it melts very well and is delicious melted or cooked (grilled cheese with this, yes!)

If you put this on a cheese plate for guests it would surely get attention and questions. I’m sure the terrific English striker of Leicester FC Jamie Vardy would love this cheese. Well I do. TJ’s sells Rutland Red Leicester for $10 a pound -in a cheese shop this would be a $20/lb cheese, so once again, a TJ bargain.

“As the cheese ages, the butter keeps it moist, and the cloth seals in the butter, resulting in a super crumbly texture that simply melts in your mouth.”

Here’s a link to Trader Joe’s post on it. If you are interested, get this while you still can, it may not be there forever, unfortunately.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/rutland-red-leicester-cheese

Trader Joe’s NEW ZEALAND BUTTER


Another excellent premium butter

Trader Joe’s now carries three premium imported butters. They have a French butter, an Irish butter and just recently I saw this one, from New Zealand no less. Now New Zealand is pretty famous for its food products. I happen to love the New Zealand extra sharp cheddar cheese that TJ carries, it’s really terrific, and it’s even a Trader Joe’s team favorite. So I thrilled to see a Kiwi butter. When I first opened the package I was struck at the deep yellow color this had (it may be hard for the actual color come through in a picture). Trader Joe’s says on the package that “it’s made for us on the South Island of New Zealand from from grass fed cows”. Something like this I imagine?

Cattle graze in front of New Zealand, North Island, Mount Taranaki Credit: Getty

Boy thats some nice scenery so maybe those cows are really content and making lovely grass fed milk. When I tasted this butter I was impressed. It’s very gently salted so not salty. It has a lovely sweet flavor and aroma. The color is beautiful, very yellow. It was delicious when I spread some on some warm bread. Wonderful when I put it on pancakes the next morning. Wonderful when I made an omelet with it. Its great on everything, of course! This is a truly excellent premium butter, and I was as impress with this butter, frankly as much as I any of the 3 imported butters TJ carries which are all excellent in their own rights. I have tried tasting one then another, but they are all of such high quality I can’t put one over another. They are each amazing in their own rights and each one makes you think “now this is what butter should taste like”. If you were impressed by the French Cultured butter or the Kerrygold Irish butter TJ sells, you will no doubt be also impressed by the New Zealand butter. Really really good! Of course imported butter costs more than TJ’s regular butter, about double? This NZ one is a wee bit cheaper than the French and Irish butters. The NZ butter costs $3.29 for an 8 oz package. If I can save a little bit on an imported butter, thats great so this New Zealand butter will probably be on my shopping list from now on.

I never used to buy imported butter, its too expensive. However thanks to Trader Joe’s prices I now buy two kinds for our fridge. “Regular” everyday butter for a lot of butter uses plus one of the imported “Superb” butters for that premium butter taste where it really counts (like my morning toasted bagel). One final thing. I read somewhere that the New Zealand butter is the only one TJ sells where 100% of the milk is from “grass fed” cows.

RAVE

Mustard and Ale Cheddar Cheese


Trader Joe’s “British Mustard and Ale Cheddar”? Hmmm…Sounds a bit intriguing, no? Comes in a small package, only 5 ounces and kind of cheap, it was well under two bucks. Now I have to say I’m not usually one who is too into cheeses with added “flavors”. Still on rare occasion you do come across a quite decent cheese with something added to the cheese that works quite well. An example are some Dutch Gouda’s that have cumin or caraway seeds in them. I’ve tried some that are really delicious. I didn’t know what to expect from a Mustard and Ale Cheddar. I love mustard with cheese of course especially cheddar. So I got some of this mustard and ale cheese to taste, and frankly thought well it’s OK, its got a lot of whole mustard seeds in there which are a little strong, maybe over-shadowing the cheddar. I couldn’t put my finger on the “ale” part really. So I think, it’s OK but would I buy more, no, not really, I’d rather buy a jar of TJ’s excellent Whole Grain Dijon Mustard and some Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar or New Zealand Extra Sharp Cheddar and use some mustard as I see fit. But here’s the funny part. During this evaluation, I tasted a piece, then tasted another. Just one more bite…. ok one more… and soon I realized during this tasting I had eaten about half the package. It was hard for me to stop tasting this cheese! Maybe I liked it more than I though? So if the combination sounds appealing to you, you may want to give this a try and see what you think.

TIP While we are at it, if you want a great melted cheese sandwich, try spreading that TJ whole grain Dijon on some nice bread before you add your cheese. Grill it up with butter. When all the elements melt together its pretty great. So I figure this cheese might make a very good melted cheese sandwich too. If anyone tries that let us know if its any good like that. So its a bit odd, but this cheese may be worth trying. If you put it out on a cheese plate, folks might even ask where you got this stuff.

TJ’s Plain GREEK YOGURT


RAVE

This is one of those Trader Joe’s products that I basically like to have in my fridge at all times. Why? It’s so useful. I use it all the time, for one thing to make all kinds of tasty sauces in about a minute. You can use it as a substitute for Sour Cream but with less calories (not zero but lower)! Greek yogurt is thick, as it is strained yogurt containing less liquid than regular yogurt. You might say it can be though of as similar to and can be substituted for Sour Cream, or crema in Mexican cooking, or to creme fraiche in French cooking. You could use this anywhere Sour Cream would be used, or mayonnaise perhaps but this is lower in fat and calories. So I use greek yogurt to make creamy sauces or dressing by mixing it with another ingredient. It can be as simple as mixing greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Boom you have a creamy lemony yogurt sauce. Very Greek! This not only makes for a nice salad dressing but is also a nice sauce that would go with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add something else to it and you get even more mileage. Certainly fresh crushed garlic, will make it yet more Greek still. Or mix in some Green Dragon Sauce. Or some Yemeni Zhough. Or Sriracha, as the milkiness of the yogurt tames all of these spicy sauces and makes them smoother and creamy. Along with garlic, chopped parsley, or arugula, or spinach makes a nice green dressing…. your only limits to find things to use this with will be your imagination. For dessert or with fruits, you can mix the yogurt with a pinch of sugar or maple syrup for a lovely sweet, creamy addition. Of course I can put this on my breakfast cereal, but it is richer than regular yogurt, so I keep the amount smaller.

Some more ideas

  • as a breakfast or dessert bowl with banana and blueberries
  • as a topping for chili instead of sour cream
  • as a topping for soups instead of cream
  • as a spread on crackers or bread (try mixing with some ingredients…)
  • as an addition to a pasta sauce instead of cream for extra creaminess

Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt. 16 oz. tub $2.50. A container lasts in my fridge for about a month, depending on how much I use it. So great stuff, try it.

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