Trader Joe’s SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI w. butter & sage


These are called SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI with sage and butter. Frozen. Sounded interesting. They were pretty tasty, but frankly they were a little different than what we were expecting from the name. First there turned out to be quite a bit of sauce, quite a lot, more than we were expecting and the flavor of the sauce did dominate over any sweet potato flavor. Again while the gnocchi plus sauce was tasty, three of us tasting them all had the same comment : we couldn’t really tell these gnocchi were “sweet potato” gnocchi as opposed to regular potato gnocchi, other than these were slightly orange in color. The first 3 ingredients are listed as sweet potato, wheat flour, potato. So there is regular potato. We didn’t think they were bad but they didn’t stand out as “Sweet Potato Gnocchi”. All 3 of us trying them for the first time said while kind of tasty it was probably something we would not buy again. Rather I could make the regular gnocchi I like at TJ’s and get them a bit crispy on the outside and then add some butter, sage and cheese. These were about $3.39. So giving them a “meh” as both plus and minus opinions on them.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: Jalapeños by the piece @ 29 cents!


I like that you don’t have to buy a whole bunch now; Often when I have a lot of them in the fridge, they arent used quickly enough and start to go bad and I just end up throwing out some. Now like Bananas, you can these by the piece. Naturally I will grab the biggest, freshest one I can find too to get the best bang for my buck (er, 29 cents). In fact, other than a banana I think this one of the cheapest items you can buy at Trader Joe’s? Good for the budget.

Trader Joe’s (vegan) Korean Beefless Bulgogi


Bulgogi is a very popular Korean BBQ dish of marinated beef which is grilled. Trader Joe’s frozen “Korean Beef-less Bulgogi is their vegan version of it with small pieces of mock “meat” made to resemble Bulgogi made from soy protein, wheat gluten and other things. It seems to be a bit of a hit, especially with vegetarians (which I am not). The chewy texture of these strips do kind of make it resemble beef. They have a fairly pleasant tender texture with a beefy mouthfeel and chew. There is really any sauce in the package, and these will be tastier if you do give them some sauce. One no-brainer sauce for these would use some TJ’s Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste, $1.99). This can make a fast easy sauce for these which will match well with the strips which are a little plain on their own.

TJ’s Bulgogi Vegan Strips cooked up into a tasty Stir Fry with vegetables and a little seasoning

To best enjoy these, I suggest you don’t do this super lazy thing I see on the ‘net, being just microwave this up and put it on rice, which is what I see with people exclaiming “this is the bomb”. I can only imagine these people have never tasted actual Korean cooking? Just putting this on rice may be edible but so boring people! Don’t be so lazy… Think of these strips as the protein in a dish, and cook up something with them. First know that these will be best if you get a little sear on them so don’t just nuke them, you should brown them up in a pan. Below is one recipe stir fry idea for these. You can throw a dish together in 10 minutes with just a little effort. First – TJ’s often says “Heat From Frozen” on the package. I disagree about cooking food from frozen which TJ’s often recommends. I suggest defrosting this before cooking.

I just left the package in my fridge overnight. Or take it out in the morning for that nights dinner. Or just leave on the counter for maybe an hour or two out of the box. In a pinch you could just run water over the (unopened) bag in a bowl till the strips are defrosted.

STIR FRY: Put a tablespoon of TJ’s Toasted Sesame Oil (or any oil) in a pan. On medium heat, add the defrosted strips and let them cook in a single layer until they get a little sear (maybe 3-5 minutes?). Don’t move them as they sear. When they are seared, toss in some vegetables of your choosing, cut into bite size pieces. In the picture above I used 3 cloves of sliced garlic (garlic is a must) 1/2 an onion, 2 sticks of celery, 1/2 a yellow pepper. Increase the veggies as you see fit. Sauté the veggies with the strips for about 5 minutes, stir frying them till crispy tender. I seasoned this for a little more flavor. Toss in 1 Tbs soy sauce, and a 1/2 tsp of TJ’s Red Boat fish sauce if you have it. Add a tablespoon of Palm Sugar or honey and little ACV, lime or lemon juice for acidity. Turn off the heat and add another teaspoon or two of Toasted Sesame Oil. If you have them, sprinkle on sesame seeds and chopped scallions. I suggest drizzling on Gochujang sauce (for a super easy sauce, just mix a tablespoon or two of Gochujang and equal amount water till its a smooth sauce) Drizzle that sauce over the finished dish. Soft lettuce with these is nice (to make “Saam” lettuce wraps) and serve the stir fried dish with some white (or brown) rice.

If you want to be a bit lazy and not have to cut up vegetables, you can just buy a pack of TJs Asian vegetables. and cook that with these strips after the browning part.

Ingredients include soy sauce, pear puree, onion, garlic, apple puree, sugar, cornstarch, guar gum, soy protein, rice flour, wheat gluten and soybean oil

So how close is this to actual beef Bulgogi? First I am not vegan and I adore real Bulgogi. These are pretty good and slightly resemble beef however they would not fool me as real beef (though frankly my Korean wife didn’t know they weren’t beef unill I told her!) What they got right here, is the texture, which is pretty good, a little chewy and “beefy”. But I totally recommend you fix them up as mentioned above and cook them into something tasty.

A package is $3.49. Note: This is Vegan but it is NOT Gluten Free (contains Wheat Gluten). Gluten is what gives this the nice chewy texture. Buddhist have been using Wheat Gluten for Vegetarian Mock meat for a thousand years. That is what “Seitan” is.

Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD (with Spinach 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!

Trader Joe’s “COWBOY CAVIAR” (corn & black bean salsa)


“Corn, black bean and pepper salsa. Smoky sweet with just the right amount of kick” – Trader Joe’s

This is a must try, if you never had it. Both my wife and I really, really love this terrific salsa. We both even think it could be a pick for a TJ’s Top Ten.

“Cowboy Caviar” – You gotta love that name. “Cowboy Caviar” is a typical South Western dish made with kernels of corn, beans (black beans and/or black eyed peas) in a tomato base. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar is a great version, maybe more in a salsa style with corn, black beans, red bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, lime juice and spices, with some kick to it, from chipotle chiles in adobe which give it a bit of heat plus a smoky undertone. TJ’s doesnt have the heat level rating on the jar. Call it a medium heat? This stuff is soooo good as a salsa, as a dip for chips, like the Corn Dippers, on top of tacos, on top of rice, with eggs, mixed into veggies, alongside grilled chicken, or as a little side dish…. you name it, I think it will perk it up. Its a really good pantry item to have on hand. You can put out some of this with chips or crackers and you can have something in a few seconds for unexpected guests. A jar now goes for $2.99 (13 oz)

I would buy it 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

Trader Joe’s GARLIC BREAD CHEESE


” A mild cow’s milk cheese seasoned with garlic powder and baked golden brown”

What is Trader Joe’s “bread cheese”. It’s a cheese you grill. It’s really, really good, too good perhaps!

Inspired by a popular cheese in Finland, Trader Joe’s “Bread Cheese” is a firm cheese with a high melting point which has been pre-baked until golden brown, then packaged up. We grill the cheese until it it gets all melty and gooey. While it is nice and soft, you eat the slightly squeaky yummy cheese which is kind of like a mozzarella stick without the breading. In fact they suggest you dunk it in some tomato sauce. Some people have put the Hot Honey on it. Some have put Ranch on it. I like it Greek style with fresh lemon juice sprinked on the hot cheese. This stuff is wonderful on top off a salad, or eaten with with a crusty baguette or other bread. You will come up with lots of ways to enjoy it and anyway you eat this, you will find it delicious. Its about $4.29 for the package (6 oz). I would buy this again.

My suggestion. Serve it Greek Style like Saganaki. Slice into thick slices, grill them in a small pan with a little olive oil until they get GBD and gooey then sprinkle with lemon and bring the whole pan to the table for everyone to enjoy with some warm bread.

TJ’s sells another yummy cheese for grilling called HALOUMI, which is also delicious. Try them both.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/garlic-bread-cheese-071622

“Known in its native Finland as juustolepä, Bread Cheese contains no wheat, or gluten, nor anything else of that nature, but rather gets its name from its hearty, remarkably bread-like consistency and squeaky, Halloumi-like texture. And much like Halloumi, Trader Joe’s Garlic Bread Cheese is best served nice and warm, after it’s had a chance to get just a little melty and gooey.”

Trader Joe’s

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/

Trader Joe’s GOLDEN ROUNDS CRACKERS


Similar in appearance to famed Ritz crackers (which in my lifetime, I’ve probably eaten a few thousand of. ). These however I think these may be slightly healthier with better ingredients. For one thing, comparing the ingredients labels, I see TJ GOLDEN ROUNDS list Sunflower Oil and Cane Sugar in them whereas Ritz’s ingredients include Palm Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup. How are these compared to Ritz? They’re good! (OK maybe a tiny bit less compared to Ritz) But the ingredients here are a bit healthier for you and that small difference in taste is outweighed by this. These crackers were very good tasted with a bit of Unexpected Cheddar cheese on top. These crackers are perfect for a cheese plate or snacks. There are about 100 crackers in a box. TJ Golden Round crackers sell for $1.99. $2.69.

Give these a try. I would buy them again.

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

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