TJ’s “When Life Gives You Lemons Make ICE CREAM”


Trader Joe’s new ice cream, “When Life Gives You Lemons Make ICE CREAM”, Lemon Ice Cream with a Lemon Swirl and Shortbread Cookie Bits is da bomb. This stuff seems to be flying off the shelves at the moment.

This new Trader Joe’s ice cream flavor is very original, unusual, and delicious. Sweet but a little tart. We used to get lemon ices as kids in the summertime which are really good. But this is lemon ICE CREAM, not ices so it tastes that much more amazing – plus it’s not “just lemon ice cream” it’s a kind of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream invention built on a Lemon Theme with yellow swirls in the ice cream which have even more sweet lemon flavors and then to top it all off, they put in these little pieces of buttery shortbread, so it has a bit of texture to it which make it now even more amazing. Now I would not even say I’m a huge fan of lemon ice cream, however when I first tasted this concoction I did a “wow is this good” double take – ‘cuz it is really really good plus it seems very original and unusual, again in one of those really good but simple Ben & Jerry’s ice cream concoctions. I went back to get it again. I go to the ice cream case and was so dissapointed. SOLD OUT! Not just that, only this flavor was sold out, there are a ton of ice creams on both sides of where this should be. So I am assuming word is out on this ice cream and everyone wants to try it, and for good reason, it’s a really terrific TJ’s product. It’s not cheap at $3.49 for a pint. However a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or Hagendaz or the like goes for way more than this. This WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS ice cream invention is a real treat which I think in the summer time it will seem even more heavenly, on a hot day.

Trader Joe’s “Tteok Bok Ki” KOREAN SPICY RICE CAKES


“This dish, a mainstay of Korean street food, begins with cylinders of tender, chewy rice cakes (think mochi or gnocchi) cooked in a spicy-umami, savory and sweet sauce….”

I confess when I saw these for the first time in the frozen Asian food section at Trader Joe’s recently I got pretty excited. Because Tteok Bok Ki is a Korean dish that I am pretty crazy about and have eaten plenty of. In case you’re not familiar with it already, Korean “Tteok Bok Ki” (pronounced Tok Boke Kee) is a hugely popular typically Korean dish, comprised of consisting of soft, super chewy rice cakes in a tube shape that are cooked in an addictive spicy, sweet red sauce of Gochugang (Korean red pepper paste), brown sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds plus other seasonings and it has lots of Umami. So of course I had to try Trader Joe’s version, which says “Product of Korea” on the package. Having now tried it while I can’t say of course that it’s the best I ever had still it’s fairly good and tasty enough to recommend you give it a try. We had it for dinner and really enjoyed it, especially as I fixed it up a bit with a few ingredients (see below). Inside the package are two bags, one containing white rice cakes and bag of sauce which the instructions tell you to thin with a cup of water. I made them in the “Traditional Preparation” style written on the package. I don’t see the point of making the “crispy” style as they will be covered with sauce and not crispy after that.

TIPS: I found that the recommended 1 cup of water they state seems like too much. The sauce came out a little thin and this sauce should be pretty thick, to really coat the rice cakes. So the next time I make these I’ll reduce the water to 3/4 or even 1/2 cup for a thicker sauce. You can always add a few tablespoons of water if too thick. Also be sure to stir quite a bit as it cooks, as this also thickens the sauce from starch released by the rice cakes.

Another TIP: To make it more authentic I added a some things and suggest you should too. At the very least add a few hard boiled eggs which is the way it’s typically served in Korea. Add the eggs into the sauce so they cook for about 5 minutes in the sauce to get a bit imbued with it (cut them in half when you serve). Also, in Korea the dish might have thin “fish cakes” in it. If you have an H-Mart near you, you can get these type of thin fish cakes or other add-ins. As I didn’t have any, I improvised with something I had in the fridge which was some TJ “Baked Tofu”. That kind of worked for texture and another element plus additional protein. I sliced the tofu thinly in the style of those aforementioned fish cakes. I also threw in a bit of fresh cilantro (Pak Chi) and that worked well too for flavor and color. I gave them a little drizzle of Sesame Oil just before serving. Chopped scallions are very typical as well so add some. If you happen to have a box of Gochugang in the fridge, adding in a tablespoon or two during cooking couldn’t hurt for maximum authentic Korean flavors.

The final dish turned out quite tasty and made a nice dinner for two of us along with some good Kimchi – or just make a salad. It was not very spicy. If you add a few things (even just a few hard boiled eggs and chopped scallions) it turns this basic package from a side dish into a lunch or dinner. The TJ package goes for only $3.79 (1 lb). If you get Tteok Bok Ki in a Korean restaurant it could easily cost triple that price, though of course the one you get at a restaurant is likely be better. However if you fix this up a wee bit this can turn out pretty decent. So given how convenient this frozen TJ version is, I will surely buy this again (update: we have already) It’s a real treat of Korean textures and flavors. In future I may get those fish cakes at H-Mart which are optional but will really make this into a more authentic Tteok Bok Ki. I love that Trader Joe’s is carrying more and more Korean foods. Now if Trader Joe’s could only improve their source of the mediocre meh KIMCHI they carry (sigh, its better than nothing). H-Mart has great Kimchi. Just sayin’!

AS-IS the package is GLUTEN FREE and VEGAN.

Optional TJ list for shopping: eggs, cilantro, scallions, toasted sesame oil, baked tofu…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/tteok-bok-ki-071551

Trader Joe’s MOCHI ICE CREAM


Mochi is a very Japanese food product being “sticky” or glutinious rice pounded or ground for a long time until the texture becomes very chewy. Mochi has that wonderful chewy texture prominent in many Asian food cultures. Trader Joe’s MOCHI ICE CREAM product is a terrific combination of this plus ice cream and you can find it in the frozen desserts. TJ’s took a hockey puck of ice cream which has the soft chewy mochi dough wrapped around it to encase it. This combination is delicious. TJ’s mochi ice cream treats come in 3 flavors: Strawberry, Vanilla and a Green Tea (Matcha) flavor. All the flavors are really good and worth trying. These little Mochi Ice Cream treats make for an unusual, interesting and yummy dessert that everyone seems to love. I know we do, we buy them all the time, and yes a box seems to go pretty fast. You get six pieces in the box, and the package now goes for $4.79. Well they are a bit special, its not just ice cream. They’re a special dessert, and these are well worth a try. TIP: keep them frozen as it says on the package and take out just before eating (defrost for 3-4 minutes) If they get too melted its very messy to eat but with a plate for run-off you will be safe and yes you will be licking your fingers like we do.

TJ’s ARGENTINIAN RED SHRIMP with Ginger Garlic Butter & Togarashi Seasoning


(note: after defrosting)

This is the wild same Argentinian Red Shrimp TJ’s has but packaged up with seasoned butter for a ready-to-cook meal. Convenient, yes, but naturally you pay extra for said convenience. We made this and the finished dish with the sauce was very tasty, but honestly nothing I could not have done with maybe 5 minutes of extra effort. This pack is $8 for a 9 oz portion which cooked makes for two meager portions for 2 as a dinner. To make this into a full meal (for two) I served the shrimp with a few sides plus a salad and a little French bread. Follow the instructions on the package which are to thaw overnight in the fridge. After defrosting I used a thin knife to get it out of the package (actually a bit tricky) and tossed the whole mess into a hot nonstick pan with a little (extra) butter. These Red Shrimp cook fast – they will be done in about 1 1/2 minutes – so be careful not to overcook them if you want the shrimp to stay plump and juicy. Frankly if you want to get more for your money, it’s quite easy to make a similar sauce. Buy the bag of frozen WILD RED ARGENTINIAN SHRIMP ($10.99 for 1 lb) and just add some butter and seasonings over the convenience of this pre-packed item. This package is convenient but not great value and its so easy to make. I probably won’t buy this again, I’ll just do it myself. Your call.

Need a recipe for sauce? Here you go folks:

GINGER/GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE: Grate or finely chop 1/2″ of fresh ginger and 2-3 cloves of garlic (optional: a little grated fresh lemon peel too); Toss garlic and ginger into about 2 tablespoons butter in a hot non-stick pan; Sauté 30 seconds, then toss in the (defrosted) shrimp and cook tossing them for about 60-90 seconds till they just turn opaque (max, 2 minutes or they will shrivel up). As soon as they are opaque (and red) toss in the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Optional: if you like spice, add a small spoon of BOMBA or your favorite something spicy. A little salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions. Serve with rice and/or crusty bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

Cooked (I garnished with scallions)

Trader Joe’s THAI SHRIMP GYOZA / DUMPLINGS


Thai Shrimp Dumplings / Gyoza

First to clarify, there are no “Thai seasonings” in these, nor are they spicy. They’re “Made in Thailand” hence the name (Gyoza being Japanese for dumplings BTW). TJ’s THAI SHRIMP GYOZA are frozen dumplings, with shrimp as the first ingredient listed along with cabbage and other vegetables, in a thin yellow wonton type wrapper. You can either steam, pan fry or microwave them. The skin is thinner than the “regular” TJ” dumplings. Taste-wise, these are well, OK, if nothing to write home about. One might say the shrimp flavor is “delicate”. Or one could say they don’t have a very distinct shrimp flavor. I also wish the shrimp in the filling were even more coarsely chopped with bigger pieces texture-wise, or they used a few whole baby shrimp in the mix. These shrimp dumplings are not going to compete with a shrimp dumpling from a good Chinese restaurant. Interestingly, out of the package you will notice they have browned bottoms as if they were already slightly browned or cooked. If you can, do pan fry these, perhaps a little bit more effort but worth it, as the more you brown the bottoms I think the tastier these will be. A bag of these Shrimp Dumplings now go for $5.50. There are about 15 dumplings in the 1 lb package. The funny thing is I’ve read people say these Thai Shrimp dumplings taste almost the same as TJ’s “Thai Vegetable Gyoza” the vegetarian version of these. Therefore the real question for me is since these don’t have a really distinctive taste of shrimp, are they worth the higher price versus the cheaper regular bags of Chicken or Pork dumplings Trader Joe’s has. If for variety, sure, or maybe you are a pescatarian. Frankly however the regular dumplings are better value (they were $2.99. Now $3.49) The wrappers on those are a little thicker which is more to my personal preference. Which is why I usually buy the big blue or red bags of frozen TJ dumplings as opposed to these “fancier” pricier, dumpling that are in boxes or colorful pouches. Anyway, try these at least once and decide yourself if they are worth the extra price. Funny enough I think if you made a few Red Shrimp to serve with these that would be a great combo!

Dipping sauce: I would not go a strong sauce with the shrimp dumplings, you probably want to keep it on the light side. Maybe a bit of low-sodium soy sauce with a teaspoon of vinegar (or lime juice) and some fresh ginger added. If you have Fish Sauce (Nam Pla, etc) around, a little bit might be good to give these a little more of a shrimp-y taste. Trader Joe’s once carried an excellent brand of fish sauce, Red Boat, but they stopped carrying it unfortunately.

Ingredients in the Thai Shrimp Gyoza include: Shrimp, White Cabbage, Chives, Scallions, Ginger, Garlic. Made In Thailand, No Preservatives, No Artificial Flavors. They’re in the frozen section.

RATING: “Meh”. Chinese restaurants have nothing to worry about.

TJ’s ULTRA CHOCOLATE PREMIUM ICE CREAM


RAVE

Trader Joe’s Ultra Chocolate Super Premium Ice Cream is a chocolate lover’s dream. This TJ’s ice cream is super rich, intense chocolate flavor that will satisfy any chocoholic’s cravings — and as a self confessed chocoholic I promise you I know what I’m talking about. This is a really terrific high quality premium ice cream, so good it can be a bit hard to stop yourself from having, “Just one more spoonful.” So be warned. Lest you find the 1 quart tub of ice cream half empty and wonder what just happened? It doesn’t come with a Warning label, but it should.

TIP: Sometimes I will grind up dark espresso beans very finely, and sprinkle a bit of espresso coffee over this ultra chocolate ice cream for one of the world’s best combos, coffee and chocolate. The bitter espresso matching perfectly with, and tempering the rich unctuous 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 to make another heavenly combination of coffee and choclolate ice creams. 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. Like any premium ice cream, it’s dense, not full of air like cheap brands of ice cream.

This super premium ice cream goes for $3.99 for a quart tub.

PRICE INCREASED! 4.29 (APR 2022)

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


This is hardly a “recipe”, just putting out an idea how sometimes putting two or three TJ products together is an easy way to come up with something good. For New Year’s Eve I had the idea for a “Russian inspired” taste: Smoked Salmon with Potato Pancakes (the 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.”

Trader Joe’s BRAZILIAN CHEESE BREAD


TJ’s Brazilian Style Cheese Rolls / Bread – with tapioca flour and Parmesan cheese. Thin crisp exterior with a chewy cheesy center. (Frozen) Gluten Free. Frozen

RAVE

From the package: “In every food culture, there is bread. And it is good. In Brazilian food culture, there is Cheese Bread, and it is very good. In your hands is our iteration of traditional Brazilian cheese bread, known as “Pao de Queijo”. These golden rolls are crafted with tapioca flour and Parmesan cheese, and deliver a subtly cheesy, mildly salty flavor, with just a hint of pepper. Like their South American inspiration, these gluten free rolls are softly crunchy outside, and airy and chewy inside. Pao De Queijo make excellent dinner rolls and delicious anytime snacks”

Wow are these delicious! If you never had tried these, you have to give them a taste. I have had Brazilian friends who introduced me years ago to the glorious little baked rolls called “Pao de Queijo (Cheese Bread) in Portuguese. Trader Joe’s now carries them frozen. To enjoy them, you only have to heat them. They can be ready in 6 minutes (though it took about 10 in my oven actually). We made and ate them last night and served them to our guest, who just loved them and devoured many. To be honest they were so tasty we couldn’t stop eating them.

Super chewy and delicious, moist and cheesy on the inside. While they are delicious As-Is, I suggest you try eating these the way Brazilians sometimes eat them : cut them open and put a slice of cheese in the middle (and / or ham) to make a little mini sandwich. TIP: take them out of the oven after about five minutes, slice it open and put a slice of cheese inside then put it back in the oven to melt. Heavenly!

I dare you to just eat one of these. It’s impossible… they are so delicious you will easily want three (or four!) A package with 12 rolls is about $4. Heating Instructions: Preheat oven to 350. Place bread on baking sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes.

As they are made from tapioca flour these are naturally GLUTEN FREE. Ingredients: Tapioca flour, milk, Parmesan cheese, oil, egg, water, salt, pepper

Trader Joe’s Korean Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry “JAPCHAE”


Trader Joe’s frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Glass Noodles & Vegetables stir fry

(update, march 2021: i haven’t been able to find this for some time. hoping its just a supply chain issue and not disco’d. Update2, may 2021: finally back! i just saw these again!

I had read about this new Trader Joe’s Korean frozen dish on offer. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I had to wait for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our TJ’s here and got one to try. I was pretty impressed. It is indeed quite good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it her seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” – it tastes authentically Korean. Lable does say it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato. These are called glass or cellophane noodles as that is what they resemble. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. If you add things, it can become a dinner or main dish. We ate this with our dinner of potsticker dumplings. These two were a great combo together! We enjoyed the dumplings with this side dish of noodles with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. Drizzle some more toasted sesame oil on just before serving if you have it. This dish is not spicy. Add something if you want it spicy. One can “beef up” the dish just by adding additional things: protein, more veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Add in to the noodles (or top when serving): cooked ground beef or ground turkey or pork, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you. You can add more vegetables, too! Mushrooms, spinach, green beans…. Add stuff to this and you will have a delicious easy dinner for two, for way less than takeout. We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: it does have a pretty high SODIUM CONTENT. If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

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