Trader Joe’s Ultra Chocolate Premium ICE CREAM


RAVE

Trader Joe’s Ultra Chocolate Super Premium Ice Cream is a chocolate lover’s dream. It has a super rich, dense and intense dark chocolate flavor that will satisfy any chocoholic (as a self confessed chocoholic I know what I’m talking about). This is really terrific ice cream. In fact it’s so good it’s a bit hard to stop yourself from stopping. “I’ll just have one more spoonful.” So be warned. Lest you find it half empty and wonder what just happened?

TIP: Sometimes I will grind up dark espresso beans very finely, then sprinkle a bit over this ice cream for one of the world’s best combos, coffee and chocolate. The bitter espresso matching perfectly and tempering the rich chocolate. In fact one might match a scoop of this dark chocolate ice cream with a scoop of the also outstanding TJ’s COFFEE BEAN blast ice cream too. Uh oh, I’m getting cravings just writing that.

Speaking of tempering, let this soften up a wee bit before eating it to enjoy the full flavor.

$4 a quart

Trader Joe’s recipe idea: Smoked Salmon on Potato Pancakes


Hardly a “recipe” just putting out an idea how putting two or three TJ products together is any easy way to come up with something good.

For New Year’s Eve I had the idea for a “Russian inspired” thing: Smoked Salmon with Potato Pancakes – instead of blinis. The combo turned out just as delicious as I hoped and we really enjoyed these as a super easy special holiday meal – however you can make them any old day!

I took a package of Trader Joe’s Latkes / Potato Pancakes and Smoked Salmon and OK instead of sour cream I actually used Greek yogurt to save a few calories. Of course a Russian would use lots of Sour Cream, calories be damned, plus fresh dill. To put the dish together all I had to do to was cook the frozen Potato Pancakes till crispy in an frying pan, then topped them with a good amount of smoked salmon and topped that with a spoon of Greek yogurt. Better with sour cream sure, up to you. Sprinkle some fresh dill on if possible plus a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Voila, it took about 5 minutes until they were ready to serve as a dinner with salad and roasted beets on the side. Easy as pie to “make” and really yummy, so try this if it sounds good to you. You could make this as an appetizer for a few guests in minutes and make a big splash with almost no work except assembling the ingredients. Now I was hardly the only one shopping thinking about Smoked Salmon early afternoon of New Years Eve. Trade Joe’s whole section with smoked salmon was completely sold out except for a few packs of this Nova Salmon! The Nova was a wee bit saltier than some other versions they sell, but as fine with the creamy sour cream / yogurt as it it all balanced out. The next time I make these I will probably opt for the Everything Salmon.

Trader Joe’s (frozen) Potato Pancakes Latkes are $2.69 for 10 little pancakes. I think the Nova was about $9 for 8 oz package.

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

TJ’s CANESTRATO PEPATO (Sardinian Cheese with Peppercorns )


Trader Joe’s CANESTRATO PEPATO Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Cheese with Black Peppercorns

I discovered this terrific cheese not too long ago in Trader Joe’s cheese section, and it’s become one of our favorite cheeses they sell. It’s fantastic and we adore it. “Pepato” refers to the cheese being infused with whole black peppercorns, as you can see in the pic. It’s produced in Sardinia, Italy by “an award winning cheese maker” ; The combination of peppercorns and a great sheep’s milk cheese is super. Up till seeing this I don’t think I ever encountered a cheese having whole peppercorns embedded in the cheese when they make it. It’s quite an interesting sheep’s milk semi-hard cheese that is both terrific grated onto pasta or just eaten on it’s own, cut into very thin slices. served with good bread or crackers. If you put this on a cheese board you will get comments. A piece is around $4-5 (its $12/lb)

Great Stuff! You can put this on your Cacio e Pepe dishes! Or even make it from scratch with this.

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. The fettucine cacio e pepe dish I made with this sauce turned out quite tasty. Cacio e pepe means “cheese and pepper” and making a dish with this could not be easier. Boil some pasta, open this jar and combine. The sauce right out of the jar is very thick. A few spoons of it go a long way, meaning obviously you would not say use a whole jar to make 2 or even 4 portions of pasta. The Nutrition label suggests a jar makes 7 servings so use that as a guide. 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 to get a consistency you like to coat the pasta, but not drown it. 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. They made the sauce “bulletproof” with the addition of a little starch (cornstarch) which prevents separation. They are saving a bit on some of the ingredients for example listing sunflower oil not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix it up so when you plate it.

Cook your pasta, a minute under al dente, drain it, saving a 3/4 cup pasta water. Finish the pasta in a pan with a little saved pasta water, a nice grind of black pepper, adding in the sauce and mixing it all up with tongs to incorporate pasta and sauce adding a few tablespoons of pasta water as needed till you get your desired consistency. Plate it up and dress it with additional cheese and pepper.

I added a nice hit of fresh Pecorino on top, freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of your best olive oil (optional). I topped it with a wee bit of chopped arugula for color and taste. Yes, I know a Roman would loudly protest any addition to the 2 basic ingredients. If you wanted to use a little grated Parmigiano or Grana, they will be delicious additions (but again don’t tell your Roman friend). So be sure to buy or have a piece of Pecorino as well as peppercorns in your larder. These few additios will help make this jarred sauce taste homemade.

It says on the jar, that once opened, use it 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 worked fine. Naturally you can do other things with this sauce besides using it on pasta. You could use some on vegetables (brussels sprouts, potatoes?) or even mix some into scrambled eggs….

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

So while this sauce is handy I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is only those two ingredients 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 has corn starch to make it foolproof.

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

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