TJ’s Italian Style Meatballs


Trader Griotto’s Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs (freezer)

Were these TJ’s cooked meatballs anywhere as good as if my made my own homemade meatballs – which in all modesty are pretty good? Of course not, nor would I expect them to taste like home cooking. Never the less these meatballs were actually pretty tasty, and we enjoyed them for dinner so it might be worth your giving them a try.

The dish I made with these all beef meatballs turned out quite tasty. I made my own sauce, a really quick & easy tomato sauce (big tablespoon of tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion, can of diced tomatoes, pecorino cheese and fresh basil). I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to get them imbued with the flavor of the sauce. They turned out well except, my one small complaint about them, a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly though it may be my fault. I don’t know if this was due to my method of defrosting them (or lack thereof in this case). I confess I rushed it. I didn’t thaw them in the fridge as I would normally have done and always recommend. This was kind of a last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly warm them and defrost them in the sauce. So I am wondering if perhaps this is why they were slightly rubbery. Anyway I served the meatballs with the sauce and some of that fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found at TJ and we did kind of a “meatball sub” thing with them. It was actually delicious. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce which was quite tasty. So my take is these are pretty good and worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (put in fridge night before) which I promise myself I will do next time. Also I will brown the thawed meatballs even more first before cooking them in sauce in good olive oil. I recommend one definitely simmer them in a sauce for a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag when I got them.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add sliced garlic and diced onion and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally till translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get everything. Simmer on low 30-40 minutes, with the thawed meatballs. Add Italian Seasonings. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parm, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta or bread for a meatball hero.

TJ’s Rosemary Sfoliette Italian Crackers


Trader Joe’s ROSEMARY SFOGLIETTE, Thin and Crunchy, Italian Rosemary Crackers

Not too fancy, a bit even on the plain side which is sometimes just what you want in a cracker to set up whatever topping you are putting on the cracker. I really like these. Product of Italy. Delicate rosemary flavor. Top these with TJ’s Rosemary Ham and a slice of Rosemary Asiago cheese and I don’t know about you but that puts me in heaven. A bargain too at $1.69 a package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070151

“Our Italian supplier makes thin, hexagonal biscuits using wheat and rice flours, along with a combination of olive and sunflower oils. The crackers are seasoned with dried rosemary & sea salt and baked until they possess the ideal crunch. They’re thin and crisp, but not overly fragile. And they present the wonderful aroma and flavors of rosemary and olive oil. As you could imagine, Rosemary Sfogliette make great snack crackers—with or without cheese. They’re also a formidable companion for your favorite bowl of soup!”

TJ’s Indian Fare (pouch) Yellow TADKA DAL


Trader Joe’s INDIAN FARE YELLOW TADKA DAL is “A savory, creamy and spicy blend of lentils and spices” (PRODUCT OF INDIA)

Trader Joe’s has quite a bit of Indian foods on offer, some in the frozen foods section as well as some non-frozen ones too, such as this line of Indian dishes which comes in pouches. Some of these I’ve tried are really good, especially this one, TADKA DAL.

We ate this TADKA DAL last night and I have to say I found it surprisingly tasty, I’m mean as in “This tastes like it came from an Indian restaurant” level good. This Tadka Dal was very flavorful and nicely spiced with a wee bit of heat going on. I put it in a pan on top of the stove (they suggest heating in hot water). If you serve this dal with a few other things, you have a nice easy dinner… We had this with another dish plus cooked Basmati rice, some Garlic Naan, Mango Chutney and a salad (TJ’s has a new Indian condiment, “Garlic Achar” which I want to try) If you add at least one other dish to the Dal such as TJ’s CHANNA MASALA you can have an easy and quite tasty pretty authentic Indian dinner.

These TJ’s “Indian Fare” products come in sealed plastic pouches, which are are shelf stable and are not a bad deal at about $2 each (10 oz bags) I find these pouches of Indian dishes are great things to have in the pantry for whenever we’re in the mood for Indian food, or come home and don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to order out.

I have not tried all of these Indian Fare pouches but there are a few varieties on offer. This Tadka Dal one is excellent and worth your giving it a try. By the way, in case you want to know what “Tadka” refers to: Tadka translates as “tempering.” It is a method widely used in Indian cuisine, in which whole or ground spices are heated in hot oil or ghee and the mixture is added to a dish.

TADKA DAL: ingredients include yellow split peas, butter, oil, tomato, chili pepper, salt, cumin, onion, curry leaves, yest, mustard see, tumeric…. The Sodium level listed is a bit high, so compensate for that with other dishes (such as using less salt to make your rice)

VEGETARIAN, GLUTEN FREE

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 Pain De Campagne (country bread loaf)


Trader Joe’s Pain De Campagne (French Country Bread) – Minimalist packaging huh? But trust me, if you see this bread, grab it. It’s delicious. In a bakery I’m thinking this would sell for about 6 or 7 bucks? Trader Joe’s had it for about $2.80 for just over a 1 lb. piece.

Ingredients include: Water, Unbleached Unbromated Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Rye Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Dark Beer…. We are talking serious bread folks, good bakery bread. Naturally this will greatly benefit from being refreshed with a baking or toasting in the oven for 10 minutes to get it crusty again.

I do find it pretty funny they write on the package: “Contains Wheat. May Also Contain Gluten”.

Trader Joe’s ground fermented BLACK GARLIC


“Use like garlic. Delicious on avocado toast, in butter and sauces, on vegetables and proteins, or any time you want extra depth of flavor”

This is a pretty interesting Trader Joe’s product, a bit of an unusual find. Now a few years ago, they sold something in the produce section labeled “Black Garlic”. It was from Japan. It basically looked like a whole head of garlic you had forgotten about in the pantry that had shriveled up. I tried it. Inside was soft black garlic, very weird. But the cloves of black garlic were absolutely delicious, chock full of UMAMI. I found it to be a pretty amazing and unusual product for Trader Joe’s to carry. This eventually vanished, or was discontinued? I stopped seeing it. Now a year or two later, I notice this small jar in the spices section of “Ground Fermented Black Garlic…Made In South Africa”. The black garlic has been dried and ground up into little tiny black bits that can be sprinkled onto things. It tastes garlicky but different from fresh garlic or garlic powder for one thing this was fermented. It’s full of Umami, adding extra depth of flavor to whatever you put it on. I did think it’s a little on the pricey side at $2.99 for a tiny 1 oz jar but I have found it does last a bit. It’s terrific added to sauces and as they mention vegetables. I am trying this on so many things. Avocado anything especially. I am thinking this is a hidden gem that many will look at and bypass and it may vanish in the future. So as we don’t know how long this product will last, if this sounds interesting, grab one to try.

WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC

https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-garlic-4165384

A little search and you find that it’s super healthy to boot! https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-garlic#1

https://www.mashed.com/325207/trader-joes-fans-are-so-excited-about-this-new-fermented-black-garlic/

Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar


FAIR TRADE. CERTIFIED ORGANIC. ALL NATURAL. LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX

“Made from the nectar of the coconut palm tree flower”

I really like this organic coconut palm sugar sold at TJ’s under the original brand “Wholesome”.

For one thing it tastes amazing in my morning coffee, that is my Moka pot, Cafe con Leche (#mokapotlover).

https://www.seriouseats.com/moka-pot-cheap-espresso-alternative

This coconut palm sugar is a brownish fine granulated sugar. It has its own distinctive taste which is quite delicious and a bit different from brown cane sugar. I’ve switched to this coconunt palm sugar especially for coffee, as it just adds a little something, a very nice subtle flavor. Plus using it on my yogurt too, just a little sprinkling is excellent. This is also excellent in any Asian recipe which calls for sugar, which most do.

It’s good stuff! I see people saying how this is “low glycemic” compared I think to cane sugar, but I don’t know much about that honestly. TJ sells this palm sugar for 3.99 a one pound bag (cheaper than the company sells it for directly) LINK BELOW TO “WHOLESOME” WEBSITE WITH MORE INFO

“Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is a rich, unrefined brown sugar that makes an ideal substitute for conventional brown and white sugar. Beyond baking, it’s an excellent choice for sweetening your preferred coffee, preparing sauces and perfecting your favorite Asian dishes, all thanks to its rich molasses taste and caramel overtones.

Made with Care
Contrary to its name, this sugar doesn’t actually come from a coconut, nor does it remotely taste like coconut. The brown sugar’s rich caramel flavor is produced by tapping the sweet nectar from the tropical coconut palm tree flower (a process that’s similar to how maple trees are tapped for maple syrup production).  The nutrient-rich juice is dried in a large open kettle drum and condensed into a delicious whole brown sugar. A natural sugar substitute for baking, this organic product will add depths of flavor to all your favorite recipes.”

RECIPES HERE ON WHOLESOME’S SITE

Trader Joe’s MUESLI Breakfast Cereal


This is probably the healthiest cereal you can buy at Trader Joe’s. “Swiss Muesli” is a classic breakfast cereal invented over a hundred years ago by a Swiss doctor. It’s a blend of whole grain oats, seeds, fruit and nuts.

Contains no added sugars

TJ’s Muesli ingredients: Whole grain rolled oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, rice crisps, pumpkins seeds, coconut, dried apple, sliced almonds

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muesli

This is obviously healthy stuff, that even a horse would love. Trader Joe’s version of Muesli is good. One caveat though. If you just pour it into a bowl, add milk, and eat it immediately, you may not like it. Unless you are a horse and you don’t mind giving your jaws a work out. Otherwise you probably want to let this soften up a bit, meaning let those rolled oats get hydrated and soften up by sitting in milk for at least 15-20 minutes – that is in your choice of breakfast beverage (milk and/or yogurt or kefir). The longer it sits, the better. Actually I really enjoy Muesli when I mix some up as “overnight oats” the night before. That way in the morning it’s nice and thick and soft. Making “Overnight oats” is easy. Just put some muesli (or rolled oats) in a container, add liquid and let it sit in the fridge. I do Kefir and some soy milk and/or yogurt. If you find “overnight oats” too mushy for your tastes, just try to wake up and pour some milk on your Muesli before taking your shower and giving it a 20 minute soak. I typically add some fresh fruit (banana, apple, berries) and a bit of something crunchy as a topping like TJ’s Grainless Granola and more yogurt or kefir.

This is a good healthy breakfast, that will keep you (or your horse) going all day. I bet Roger Federer grew up eating Muesli and look how far he got.

A 16 oz bag is about $4. Worth trying.

RAVE

TJ’s Savon De France Oatmeal Exfoliant FRENCH SOAP BAR


Trader Joe’s OATMEAL EXFOLIANT BAR, ALMOND GINGER SCENT, SAVON DE FRANCE, FRENCH MILLED SOAP

MADE IN FRANCE

This is a nice fancy French soap with a subtle natural fragrance, nothing overpowering or fake-y. The bar is huge, and I do mean huge, it’s over a half pound! I was even thinking about cutting it in half but I figure it will just wear down to size on it’s own. It’s not melting fast on me though, like a lot of fancy soaps do. It makes a very rich sudsy lather. Nothing too scratchy either, as far as “exfoliant bar”, just a few nubbins you can see of oatmeal, but they don’t scratch your skin. $2.99 for 8.8 oz (249 gr)

TJ Mediterranean Style Hummus


Trader Joe’s sells SO many varieties of hummus. They may even have too many…. Don’t even get me started on “chocolate hummus” which I think is a crime against nature. Anyway this one is My TJ hummus. My “Go To” favorite. I think it’s their best one, one reason being that this “Mediterranean Style” hummus includes TAHINI in the ingredients. Incredibly, at least to me, is that some versions of hummus on offer at Trader Joe’s do not have Tahini in the ingredients. I don’t get this as Tahini (sesame paste) is an integral part of a hummus recipe and it is why it tastes good. I can only imagine some people don’t like tahini or its calories? Or an allergy? OK that must be why TJ sells hummus both ways, with or without it? Anyway their “Mediterranean Style” hummus is very tasty. It is a little fancier as on top they have a few pine nuts and spices. This is the way hummus is normally presented. When you serve it put it in a shallow bowl. A squeeze of 1/4 lemon would be good IMO (mix in juice). Run your spoon to make a circular groove all around the hummus and add a pour of your best EVOO. Sprinkle a bit of spice (Ajika for example, or ground cumin or zaatar) all around the perimeter attractively. Voila!

Serve with warm pita or naan or other flatbread.

The Mediterranean Style hummus costs about $4 for a 16 oz tub (it’s 50 cents more then the regular one with no tahini).

BTW, you can easily make hummus (which I occasionally do) Here’s a good recipe

https://www.themediterraneandish.com/how-to-make-hummus/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/our-favorite-hummus-recipes-4164898

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/what-people-get-wrong-about-making-hummus/2015/09/04/72c7c844-4dc5-11e5-902f-39e9219e574b_story.html

Previous Older Entries