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


If you love garlic as much as I do, then you will adore Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD . I find this stuff to be amazing. In fact, it’s become yet another TJ’s product I must have in the fridge at all times now. I think of it as much as an ingredient as a “spread”. You can use this and add it to a dish to give things an immediate flavor boost, kind of as you would fresh garlic.

A number of countries food culture’s have some type of garlic spread like this. In Lebanese cooking, they have the garlic spread, “Toum” (basically what TJ’s spread is). In Greece, they have a spread called “Skordalia” which is made from garlic, olive oil and potato. In the South of France they have the yummy yellow garlicky mayonnaise called, “Aioli” famously served with Bouillabaisse. Garlic with lemon acts as an emulsifier for the oil giving you a thick 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. I came up with a great hack for Frozen Spinach, which you can make into a yummy dish in about 2 minutes with this garlic dip. See my recipe hack down below.

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 HACK – Two ingredients: frozen spinach and garlic spread. Put the spinach in a colander and rinse it with water for about a minute until its defrosted. Shake or squeeze out most of the excess water. Toss the spinach in a pan with a little olive oil (or butter!) and cook for a minute or so till done to your liking (don’t overcook it) Add in a nice heaping tablespoon of the Garlic Spread and mix it in. Grind in fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt and its ready. It will look a little bit creamy and taste absolutely delish.

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 some calories as like a mayonnaise, its mostly oil. 2 Tbls have about 150 calories. Its $2.99. GREAT ITEM!

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

Trader Joe’s “Feed 4 for $10” recipes…


https://www.traderjoes.com/home/discover/guides/10-dollar-recipes-to-feed-four

Trader Joe’s acknowledges what we customers know all too well now: how much more expensive it is to feed your family these days due to price increases and inflation. We consumers need to get the biggest bang for the buck from every dollar we can. Hence I think Trader Joe’s is smart to admit this and “help” us with some ideas and recipes in their

“Feed 4 for $10” guide.

Visit that link for Trader Joe’s recipes. One recipe is for an EASY SPICY CHILI with ground chicken, a can each of tomatoes and beans and their super useful TACO SEASONING mix (which I swear by and only costs .79 cents!) They say this Chicken Chili costs about $9.04 to feed four. I would budget in another $1.60 to buy some Corn Tortillas which will be good with chili. They assume you have rice in your pantry. I have a chili recipe with ground turkey which is similar to theirs. Check that out too. You can just switch the turkey for chicken if you prefer. Currently a pound of ground chicken at the moment is 3.99. Ground meats have no waste and I think makes a decent bang as the main / protein. GROUND TURKEY is about $4.29 for a pound. Want to make a VEGETARIAN CHILI? You can use these recipes, just swap in some organic tofu (drained well and crumbled). The Organic Tofu is still only $1.99! Some people swear if you freeze tofu, it gives a better “meatier” texture

https://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/freezing-tofu/

Seen at Trader Joe’s: PINEAPPLE PLANTS (baby so cute!)


Just to give you an idea of how small it really is, the cute little pineapple growing on the stalk is about the size of my thumb. It looks so cool and adorable.

Full name of the plant is PINEAPPLE BROMELIAD. See the link for info on care and growing.

TJ’s was selling these for $15.99

Now have you ever wondered why you see so many pineapples in depicted in design, old buildings and architecture? There is a reason: it showed wealth and hospitality.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-hidden-history-of-the-housewarming-pineapple

Seen at Trader Joe’s: DRACAENA Plants for sale


Very healthy looking robust plants, $15

Seen at Trader Joe’s: OLIVE TREE Plants For Sale!


Olive Trees?!? Yes….wow, cool. For $13 it’s yours. Need to make up with someone? You could give them an olive branch!

Trader Joe’s Hot Weather, Must Have, Summer Staple Items!


Its HOT all over the U.S. at the moment. Here’s just a couple of suggestions for some Trader Joe’s staples that are good to have on hand for hot weather, that can make easy pantry meals you don’t have to cook, or barely have to, and you can just throw together quickly.

Canned Salmon

TJ’s Fresh (cooked) Roasted Salmon Fillet

Greek Chickpeas

Hummus

Pita Bread / Pita Chips

Norwegian Crispread

Eggplant Garlic Spread

Shaped Pasta (tuna pasta salad)

Cans of Tuna

Rye Bread

Baked Tofu

Japanese Sesame Dressing

Coleslaw

Greek Yogurt

Ice Cream (your pick)

Parsley, Lemons, Olive Oil, Red Onion, Celery, Lettuce, Salads

HACK: Turn Trader Joe’s CARNITAS into CHAR SIU (Chinese Roasted BBQ Pork)


Here’s a hack I came up with to turn Trader Joe’s Pork Carnitas into Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Looking at a half used package of TJ’s Carnitas I had in the fridge, I had an thought. Could I turn it into Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork) ? I mean both are roasted pork. Why couldn’t I just add the Chinese flavorings to come up with some Char Siu? So I tried it out and guess what? This hack worked great! The Carnitas now tasted very close to delicious Char Siu aka Chinese BBQ Roast Pork. My wife and I thought the hack came out delicious. Here’s how I did it.

I made a Chinese sauce, grilled up a few thick slices of the carnitas, cooked it in the sauce to absorb the flavors, then spooned on more. To get that BBQ effect, I put the pan under the broiler until it had caramelized and the sauce became a thick glaze. The pork was tender, moist and full of flavor. We were amazed at how good this turned out and how much it tasted like Chinese BBQ Pork aka Char Siu.

I will be doing this now whenever I am in the mood for some easy Char Siu ! (BTW the Carnitas / Char Siu make a great topping for Ramen!) We ate the BBQ pork along side a Chinese noodle dish I made. It could be even good just on top of a bowl of rice too and with a few veggies, or any way you would use traditional Chinese Roast Pork.

Try this hack out yourself and see how easy and tasty it is!

SAUCE TO MAKE CARNITAS CHAR SIU

1 clove of fresh garlic, crushed

1/2 inch ginger, grated

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons palm sugar / light brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

pinch of ground cinnamon (or 5 spice powder if you have some)

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in the bowl. In a cast iron or oven safe pan, grill up your Carnitas pork slices under the broiler on low, for maybe 3 minutes, watching carefully until the pork is lightly browned. Flip and brush on some Char Siu Sauce and place back under the broiler on low for maybe 1 minute checking it carefully to make sure it does not burn. Take out and turn off the broiler. Spoon any left over sauce over the pork to coat. Put the hot pan back in the oven and let it sit for 1-2 minutes for the sauce to glaze up and reduce more in the residual oven heat (again keeping an eye on it to make sure it is deeply browned but do not let it get burned) Spooning the sauce over every 30 seconds or so.

Enjoy!

Here’s a more traditional recipe making it from scratch. I made the ingredients simpler in that you can find them all at Trader Joe’s – which doesn’t sell Oyster Sauce, for example (I wish). So if you have that and other Chinese ingredients in your larder, of course add them. The CHAR SIU recipe below in Woks of Life will give you ideas.

Trader Joe’s GREEN JACKFRUIT & recipe for Pulled BBQ Jackfruit


My DIY Pulled Jackfruit on Aloha Bun with coleslaw

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit, popular with vegetarians as a “meat substitute”. When cooked it can have the texture of “pulled meat” such as pulled pork or chicken or ropa vieja. It doesn’t have much taste but it easily absorbs flavors and sauces and it’s quite good cooked up with BBQ sauce as “pulled jackfruit”. Trader Joe’s carried a pouch of PULLED JACK FRUIT IN SMOKY BBQ SAUCE in a green foil pouch (see below) but it got discontinued. Alot of people liked it and I did too, despite not being vegetarian. TJ’s does sell this can of JACKFRUIT so you can make the same thing fairly easily yourself, just mixing this can of jackfruit with your favorite BBQ sauce. A can is only $1.99 too!

How does one use Trader Joe’s Green Jackfruit in Brine, you ask? It takes on a “meaty” texture, and, much like tofu, absorbs the flavors of sauces. Our favorite preparation involves cooking jackfruit in barbecue sauce, where it eventually shreds like pulled pork, ready to be piled on a warm Honey Wheat Hamburger Bun and crowned with crunchy cabbage.

UPDATE: This is in stores again.

what it looks in the can; frankly not too appetizing, yet!
after cooking the Jackfruit; Now it looks pretty good!

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/pulled-jackfruit-sandwich

HOW TO MAKE PULLED JACKFRUIT MINI SLIDER BUNS: After opening the can, dump the liquid out and put the fruit into a colander. Rinse the jackfruit thoroughly and drain it. To get the texture, I just used my fingers and crushed up the jackfruit piece by piece. The seeds you can mash or crush or leave as is. Sauté the jackfruit in a pot in some EVOO (or butter) for about 5 minutes on low heat, stirring it gently. Add your favorite BBQ sauce (1/2 cup per can?) in. I used the SRIRACHA ROASTED GARLIC sauce, a good match. Cover the pan and simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so and making sure it doesn’t burn. It will be thick when done. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes. When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, put a scoop of the jackfruit on†o the bottom half of a TJ’s ALOHA BUN (or brioche roll). Top with some coleslaw and the top half of the bun. Enjoy! A bit messy to eat but quite tasty! 1 Can served 2 of us easily with the fixings.

Directions as per TJ’s website

(note I liked it without the water, or just a few tablespoons)

  1. Prepare Pulled Jackfruit: Drain jackfruit and pat dry. Partially shred jackfruit chunks into smaller pieces. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add jackfruit and sauté for five minutes. Add BBQ sauce and water to pan and stir to evenly coat jackfruit. Cover pan and simmer on medium-low heat, 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and pulling jackfruit apart as it becomes tender.
  2. Prepare Tangy Cole Slaw: While jackfruit cooks, in a large bowl, toss cabbage blend with mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. 
  3. Prepare Sandwiches: Place a scoop of pulled jackfruit on the bottom of a bun. Top with diced onions, coleslaw, and bun top. Eat and repeat until satisfied!

DIY Shawarma Chicken (Recipe)


The other day, I wanted SHAWARMA CHICKEN but I was a bit resentful at the current price of a package of TJ’s Shawarma Chicken. It now costs about $11-12 ($6.50/lb. currently) way up from what it orginally cost. I knew I had some boneless chicken thighs in my freezer, and I have spices of course and Greek yogurt. Why not just do a DIY SHAWARMA style chicken on my own and save some dough!? So I did just that. How did it turn out? Delicious! You can easily do a DIY Shawarma Chicken if you want to save some money, and who doesn’t these days with the constant inflation and sticker shock when you go shopping?

I used Trader Joe’s boneless skinless chicken thighs that I had in my freezer (I defrosted the chicken overnight in the fridge) Or buy fresh boneless skinless thighs; they will easily be about $2 cheaper per pound (if not more) Vs. TJ’s Shawarma Chicken which has crept up in price a few times from the original $3.99/lb to $6.49/lb as of this post.

DIY Shawarma Chicken Recipe: Put chicken in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt. Add a few teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Crush 4 cloves of garlic with a little salt and mix into chicken. Add a few spoons (to taste) of ZHOUG Yemeni spicy green sauce. Mix. Even this very simple version will work fine, however to make this better we should add ground spices with “Middle Eastern” flavors. Here’s some ideas for Trader Joe’s spices you can add :

Trader Joe’s EVERYDAY SEASONING (grinder), Onion Salt, Ground Turmeric, Ground Cumin, TJ’s AJIKA blend, TJ Smoked Spanish Paprika, TJ Zaatar spice blend, Black pepper, PINK SEA SALT. A pinch of cinnamon. A small glug of olive oil. MIX everything well so all the spices are mixed in. Let it marinate in fridge for 2-6 hours or overnight or up to 2-3 days. When ready to cook, just make it as you normally grill TJ’s Shawarma chicken thighs. You can of course also make this instead with CHICKEN BREASTS if you prefer white meat but just be very careful about not overcooking them. I like to cook a sliced onion in the same pan as I grill the chicken.

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