Trader Joe’s SLICED KOREAN RICE CAKES


Here’s another new Korean/Asian item from Trader Joe’s. These are flat oval shaped disks made from sticky rice, so are very chewy and soft. These kind of rice cakes are a typical ingredient in Chinese, Korean and other Asian cuisines. In Chinese cooking they are known as “nian gao”. If you fry them they get a little crispy, which is how I like them best and the way you should use these. The bag has just the rice cakes (no sauce) to make however you like, typically made into a stir fried dish with vegetables and a protein. There is a basic stir fry recipe on the bag for Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Vegetables. which you could expand upon with adding a protein (say chicken, shrimp, pork or baked tofu.) Tip: add garlic which this recipe omits( !) You could come up with a Korean stir fry variation by adding some Kimchi and pork or chicken. The rice cakes are $3.29 a one pound and are in the frozen section. They are a “Product of Korea”. VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE

Here’s another recipe for Chinese Stir Fried Rice Cakes.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/sliced-korean-rice-cakes-074566

Seen at Trader Joe’s: IVY WREATH with lights


I think there’s something about buying a living plant against cut flowers or trees that won’t last. So instead of buying a wreath to hang on the door, which will just last a few weeks, this live ivy plant trained into a wreath shape will keep going all year round, as long as you water it. So while you can’t hang it on your door of course you could put this wreath shaped plant in a window with it’s blinking lights, or perhaps on a table as the centerpiece for a holiday decoration. The ones I saw at TJ’s the other day looked very healthy to me. Ivy can last forever if you take care of it. Could even be a Gift? Come with a little bag which has a short sting with about a dozen small white LED lights (takes 3 AA batteries). You can save this LED light string and use it over and over again, like I have. $12.99

“Keep soil evenly moist, partial to full sun”

Seen at Trader Joe’s: Xmas GRUMP TREE


TJ’s has these little Grump trees for sale again right now for Xmas. They are cute and a pretty good deal for just $9.99. These can make a funny gift…. But wait, why”Grump” Tree? I’m guessing it’s for copyright reasons. TJ’s doesn’t want to say Grinch less they get sued by the Dr. Seuss estate. However they can get away with saying Grump and we all get the reference to The Grinch by it’s design (a clever idea just wrapping the tree to a point). If you don’t feel like laying out a ton of money for a Christmas tree ($50-150?) maybe you could get away with a little Grump tree and dress it up really nice with a lot of decorations… And it will last. If you take care of it, it will grow and grow and maybe you can use it for a few years. “Will eventually grow into a large tree. Keep well watered.”

Trader Joe’s “THAI WHEAT NOODLES”


NEW PRODUCT

I was so happy to see these packages of vacuum packed fresh noodles in Trader Joe’s NEW ITEMS area recently. I think sometime in the past Trader Joe’s sold some kind of fresh Asian noodle (rice noodles?) but none I can recall for a few years. Trader Joe’s “Thai Wheat Noodles” are a pretty typical Asian style noodle. Think Udon maybe? As far as these being “Thai” these are as much Chinese or Japanese as they are Thai. They do say Product of Thailand hence the name. These can be used for any kind of Asian dish. A 21 oz package is $2.99. They’re basically cooked and ready to use and come in 3 individual bags of about 1 portion each, ready to use in a recipe. Each bag has about 7 ounces of noodles. To me frankly that makes a skimpy portion of noodles for one and I wish these had just a bit more in a pack, say 8 ounces each for a more decent portion. I found one bag will make a portion for one for a finished noodle dish factoring in the other ingredients you will use. So I definitely suggest you “beef it up” with stuff: veggies, proteins, etc. For my dish (pictured below) I had a a few pieces of cooked chicken tenderloins in my fridge so I topped it with this chicken plus a lot of scallions and slivered cucumbers. I basically used the recipe they have on the box for “Sesame Scallion Noodles”. TIP: Right out of the package these noodles are really stuck together into an almost impenetrable noodle brick. To get them unstuck and loose I really had to work at them using chopsticks and tongs to get them loosened when I added the liquid sauce ingredients. It was not easy to get them loosened up. So I experimented the next time I made them with hot/boiling water first. You can use very hot or boiled water, rinsing them in a bowl / colander. I used my fingers/chopsticks/tongs to get them as unstuck as possible. Then rinsed them in cold water and drained them. That worked better to prep them before adding them to your dish so suggest you try this.

You can of course also use these noodles in any stir fried dish of your own choosing. Some other ideas for toppings would be some grilled pork (Cha Siu?), grilled shrimp, or even just a fried egg on top with some Gojujang. I would say these wheat noodles are basically the same as Japanese “Udon” – so you could use them in Japanese cooking, say you could make “YAKIUDON“. I did a kind of YAKI UDON with these and it worked. The recipe on the box for “SESAME SCALLION NOODLES” worked fairly well when I made it. Another tip: The recipe on the box is for just one package so double or triple the recipe if you are making more than one otherwise you will not have enough sauce. The recipe on the box is a basic recipe that you can modify as you wish. I added a heaping tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter to it, to make it more “Thai”. I also used a little Bomba to spice it up. These noodles are handy and not bad at about a buck a portion, even if they don’t match up to fresh raw noodles you would find at an Asian grocery. One more thing I just thought of, you could say add these to Trader Joe’s GINGER MISO soup and come up with a noodle version of that! I really hope TJ’s keeps these around so check them out so they see they are selling!

I would buy these again.

VEGAN

My finished noodle dish with slivers of cucumber and scallions and topped with some slices of chicken. Very tasty!
Turn on Subtitles (English)

Trader Joe’s “Super Amazing Reusuable KITCHEN CLOTHS”


“SAVE PAPER, REDUCE WASTE”

We’ve tested these out in our kitchen and are finding them to be pretty useful. They seem to me like those orange “Chamois” cloths you get at a dollar store. But as my “dollar store” has now gone up to being a $1.29 and up store, these Trader Joe’s viscose cloths are convenient to buy and are not out of line price at $2.99 for two cloths in the package (though I wish they were a little bigger). We’re mainly using them for kitchen counters and the like. These cleaning cloths are strong and quite absorbent. They do absorb a lot even when wet. You just wring them out till damp and they absorb a ton of liquid again. These are useful and “eco”, saving some paper towel use. I would buy these again.

Trader Joe’s BATTERED FISH NUGGETS (+ Fish Taco recipe)


Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets are tasty and these taste like a real battered piece of fish. They are perfect for making fish tacos for one thing. The first ingredient is Alaskan Pollack. Don’t confuse this item (“Fish Nuggets”) with TJ’s “Fish Sticks”which are terrible, way inferior to these at a dollar less. I used these nuggets to make Fish Tacos for dinner the other night. BTW I didn’t bake these as it says on the package. I sauteed them in a cast iron pan till they were crispy on both sides.

We really enjoyed these when we made them into fish tacos. The popular TJ’s Fish Tacos recipe is easy to make. You take a package of these, Corn Tortillas (which I think will taste better than flour ones) and top with crunchy slaw made with the Cole Slaw Mix, some Greek Yogurt, and lime juice. Optional but nice would be some ripe avocado and your favorite hot sauce. I would recommend TJ’s Green Dragon and/or Peri-Peri hot sauce as being a good match with fish tacos.

TJ’s BATTERED FISH NUGGETS are now $5.99 for a 1 lb package. The other thing these might be good for is an English style Fish & Chips with some french fries?

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/battered-fish-nugget-tacos

“These tantalizing tacos combine the tart, tangy, and savory flavors of fresh Lime juice and crispy Battered Fish Nuggets with a mix of soft, crunchy, and creamy textures, courtesy of our Corn Tortillas, Organic Broccoli Slaw, and Plain Greek Whole Milk Yogurt. Endlessly customizable with your favorite hot sauce, salsa, or crema, one batch of these can feed a family of four and even more, depending on your hunger level.”

FISH TACOS

  • TJ’s Battered Fish Nuggets
  • TJ’s Plain Greek Whole Milk Yogurt
  • 1 Lime
  • TJ’s Organic Broccoli Slaw or Cole Slaw Mix
  • TJ’s Corn Tortillas

Add yogurt and lime juice to the slaw mix; let sit a 1/2 hour to marinate. Cook up the fish till golden brown and put two pieces into a warm corn tortilla and top with slaw and a few drops of salsa or hot sauce.

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA Kit (Brown Sugar Tapioca Pearls Drink)


If you are not familiar with BOBA TEA (aka bubble tea) it’s a popular (very TRENDY) drink that has very large pearls of Tapioca that sink to the bottom. The tapioca pearls have a very chewy texture that most people really enjoy. The pearls are so large that to suck them up it comes with a special ultra wide straw. These drinks are sold by specialty tea shops like “GONG CHA” that serve up a premium (and a bit pricey) Boba Tea Drink.

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA kit is a (poor) approximation of what you might get from a specialty Boba Tea shop. I have had Boba Tea from quite a few different Tea shops and in short, Trader Joe’s Boba Tea Kit won’t put any of them out of business. The drink you get in a real Boba Tea shop is way better than this, however if you’ve never had it before this may give you an idea of what “boba tea” is. As my wife commented “this is a Trader Joe’s version”. She meant it as a knock as in “cheap knockoff of the real thing”. A specialty shop boba tea drink usually costs about $5-6 bucks each. This kit sells for $5.50 for 4 drinks. So yes a cheap knock off. Granted, its a high profit item (sugar, tea, tapioca)

Anyway if you can’t have it at one of these shops and just want to try boba tea in that case then his might be a good starting point. For one thing the tapioca pearls in Trader Joe’s are much smaller than the ones that the shops make which are huge and so chewy. This kit has 4 pouches of a concentrate with the pearls. You mix this package up with milk or tea (or combo of the two) plus a handful of ice to dilute its sweetness, and you need to add enough of these things in, otherwise it will be way too sweet. I put the defrosted pouch into a glass jar with a lid so I could really shake it up with the added ice and liquid. The kit even has 4 big straws. Not bad, but again really no comparison to a Boba Tea shop drink. I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC FROZEN SPINACH (with garlic spinach recipe hack)


It may seem a little silly for me to review frozen spinach but here goes anyway because it’s actually something I buy all the time from Trader Joe’s (along with frozen peas!) TJ’s frozen spinach is easy, healthy, tasty and super convenient to have in the freezer. Plus it’s one of TJ’s best bargains for just $1.99 for a pound in the organic version and $1.49 for the regular version.

At the risk of heresy there are a few vegetables which I propose are actually better frozen than fresh. Really. One is frozen peas. The other is frozen spinach. While I love fresh raw spinach, the reality is it’s a pain. Spinach is very dirty and sandy. You must it like crazy 3 or 4 times to get rid of all the grit in every nook and cranny. Then you start with what looks like an enormous amount, raw. You can fill the biggest pot you own with it to the brim, and that shrinks up into almost what looks like just enough for one person. It really shrinks up in cooking. All of these are reasons I find frozen spinach easier than fresh spinach.

RECIPE HACK – a two ingredient Trader Joe’s recipe hack I came up with for spinach with TJ’s Garlic Spread – which are so good together and takes minutes! SPINACH IN GARLIC – Put the spinach in a pot with a teaspoon of olive oil or butter (or 50/50 mix). Cook on medium till it’s just cooked but still bright green (don’t overcook it) then add a heaping tablespoon or two of TJ’s Garlic Spread and mix it together. Give it a grind of fresh black pepper, taste it and if it needs it, add a pinch of salt (as the Garlic Spread has some salt). Optionally give it a squeeze of fresh lemon. This garlicy creamy spinach combo is absolutely delish. You can even mix in noodles to this for an instant dish.

Spinach omelet – make the above and toss the spinach in the middle. Yum!

Spinach rice: Cook Basmati rice. Cook some spinach. Mix the two together when done with some Greek yogurt. Season to taste.

TJ’s organic spinach is $1.99. The regular spinach is even less only ($1.49). Either is a bargain and is a great thing to always have in your freezer. So eat your Spinach! It’s healthy – it’s what made Popeye so strong.

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

Seen at Trader Joe’s: PONYTAIL PALM (Elephant Foot) plants


Beautiful looking PONYTAIL PALM plants, a/k/a Elephants Foot Palm

Very robust and healthy looking and at a decent price, I think they could easily sell for 20-30 bucks.

I have one which is now about 20 yrs old…..

See this link for How To Care for this lovely plant

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