Trader Joe’s MEXICAN STYLE ROASTED CORN WITH COTIJA CHEESE


” This unique take on corn combines flavors inspired by Elote, a popular street food in Mexico. Our version is lime spiked slathered in a smoky cream sauce and topped with authentic cotija cheese. “

I find this to be really good Trader Joe’s product. Find this In the frozen veg section. When you open the bag you see corn plus some large pellets. This is the sauce, frozen up, a neat trick. The pellets melt up as you heat it coating the corn in a nice sauce. When its ready to serve you sprinkle on a little package of included grated Cotija cheese (kind of Mexico’s parmesan). Everything works together to make a delicious corn dish inspired by “elotes“. It can be a great side dish for tacos, maybe Carnitas.

$3.29 (14 oz bag)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/mexican-style-roasted-corn-059063

“For this at-home version of what’s often called street corn, we’ve opted to take the kernels off the cob. We’ve enrobed the corn in a creamy, smoky sauce that melts off as the corn heats – it seems magical, but it’s really just simple thermodynamics. It’s also spiked with lime juice and studded with cilantro, lending additional authenticity. A packet of Cotija cheese is included in each package of Corn – when the corn is heated through and ready to serve, sprinkle the crumbled cheese on top. It’s the ideal finishing touch to this crunchy, sweet, smoky, spicy dish. Present it as a side dish with a Mexican-inspired meal, or serve it in individual ramekins as an appetizer course.”

Trader Joe’s PINEAPPLE SALSA


Trader Joe’s PINEAPPLE SALSA

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I did like it when I tasted it and how good this salsa really was. I think the name put me off. Actually it’s quite good and I think if most people try this, they will like it too. Even though pineapple is in the name and is listed as the second ingredient on the list of ingredients, it doesn’t stand out and taste “pineapple-y” or overly sweet; it is completely blended into the other flavors. It does have a hint of sweetness but it tastes like salsa, not pineapples. I have a feeling this is salsa that even people who don’t like salsa will like! You know the “I don’t like salsa; its too spicy for me” type. As you can see from the “heat scale” on the label this is a fairly mild salsa with only a small amount of spiciness. Now as pork and pineapple are a famous match (eg, tacos al pastor) I would try TJ’s Pineapple Salsa on top of some Carnitas tacos. It would be great also on nachos, rice, shrimp, salmon, eggs, or anything you can think of. You could brush this on at the end of grilling / broiling chicken and it would great. A 12 oz jar is $1.99, so at under two dollars this is one of the cheaper salsas on offer at Trader Joe’s. I would gladly buy this again. Ingredients: Tomato, Pineapple, Onion, Green Pepper, Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Jalapeno, Cilantro, Red Pepper

Trader Joe’s TRADITIONAL CARNITAS Mexican Style Oven Roasted Pork


Trader Joe’s sells packages of “CARNITAS” (Mexican style oven roasted pork). Frankly in the package it may not look look very appealing but trust me, this is not just good, TJ’s Carnitas are delicious. Tender, slow roasted, melt in your mouth, delicious porky goodness. Carnitas (“little meats) are a traditional Mexican preparation & cooking method with the pork typically cooked in enormous copper pots by special masters, slowly stirring it for hour with long handle wooden paddles. Cooking carnitas is an art. You can’t even really make carnitas at home. When done the pork is so tender and juicy it is almost falling apart. Typically the cooked carnitas meat is chopped up for tacos or other dishes. “Trader José’s” version of carnitas can be used to make excellent tacos. Now even though it’s fully cooked, it will be far tastier if you brown it and I strongly recommend you do. Its worth the little extra effort and your tacos will be far tastier. Please do not microwave it – despite the fact they say you can on the package. Just toss it in a pan. I cut up the big piece of meat into a few pieces and cooked it on low-med heat for about 10-20 minutes turning the pieces every 5 minutes or all the side were golden brown and delicious. Some interior fat in the meat will melt doing this too. The carnitas may start to fall apart as you turn it, that’s fine. When its all done, take out the meat, rest it a minute or two and then either chop it up into bite size piece or what I like to do: shred it up using two forks. You can use the carnitas as a filling for tacos or quesadillas with your desired accompaniments. Personally I like traditional Corn Tortillas but use any tortilla you like. Now besides using this for tacos, this tasty roasted pork can be used for other things too of course. So for example this pork is great used for Chinese cooking. I make fried rice using this pork chopped into bite size pieces instead of Cha Siu and it’s super yummy. How about Ramen? Sure. Cut into slices, grill them a bit and use these as the Ramen topping like the traditional slices of Cha Siu. Italian? Chop up the meat for a super easy tasty meat sauce, which you add to tomato or marinara sauce – voila, an instant “Ragu” or meat sauce for pasta or gnocchi. You can even just serve this delicious pork on its own with some lime or salsa or as a topping for a salad. Or make a Cuban Sandwich with this, ham and some Swiss! Trust me, you will find this TJ Carnitas useful to use for many things. The 12 oz. package of TRADITIONAL CARNITAS goes for $6. I would buy this again

BTW – TJ’s PINEAPPLE SALSA goes very well with this pork carnitas for tacos etc.

Trader Joe’s GROUND TURKEY (with recipe: Turkey Bean Chili )


Ground turkey is something I buy fairly frequently at Trader Joe’s as I find it a versatile ingredient. It’s a convenient protein to have on hand in the fridge, or freezer. Obviously also it has less fat and calories than ground beef, plus is much less expensive, all of which is why ground turkey is a big go-to ingredient for many people. Taste-wise however ground turkey is on the bland side and needs some jazzing up to be tasty. I have found it benefits from two things. One, deep browning. Getting it really browned improves its flavor (due to the Maillard effect). Number two: using lots of seasoning. One excellent match for ground turkey is TJ’s taco seasoning, the 79 cents “miracle” packet. Other good Trader Joe’s seasoning blends that match well with it are: TJ’s Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Blend seasoning, TJ’s Ajika Georgian Seasoning, ground cumin, black pepper and of course lots of garlic, ground or especially fresh chopped garlic. So my “secret” for ground turkey is I season it really, really generously, coating it completely, as the TJ ground turkey is pretty “wet” which make it’s hard to brown. I’ve found a good amount of dry seasoning coating on the outside gives it a drier surface that makes it brown more easily. So if you put a good deal of seasoning on the outside to provide a dry surface for pan grilling (add as little salt or no salt since the seasonings may have salt, check the package) it helps. I also try to minimally compress the ground meat even if making into a burger. I don’t compress the meat much either, as minimally as possible. I sprinkle the dry seasonings generously all over and gently lay it into a VERY hot cast iron pan with good tablespoon or two of olive oil or an oil and butter mix. I don’t touch or move it at all until the bottom side has turned quite brown which can take a good 6-8 minutes. If making turkey for tacos, I just lay it from the package (seasoned) into the pan and try to not break it up until it is done and very browned. This yields large chunks which I like. If you want to mix it with other ingredients like chopped veggies, then you can even add an egg and some binder (panko, breadcrumbs, etc) and then form that into patties.

Ground turkey recipes are all over the internet and found easily. Here’s mine for a fast turkey bean chili.

EASY TURKEY BEAN CHILI: Season turkey as described above, Cook in a hot pan in a nice slug of oilve oil (better still and oil/butter mix). When turkey is very browned on one side add a chopped medium onion and ground cumin to taste. Sauté together until the onion is a lightly browned and fragrant. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic. Now break up the turkey keeping a few large chunks for texture. Add a large tablespoon of Tomato paste and mix it in and cook on low-medium heat for a minute or two. Add a can of drained red kidney (or black beans) then add in a can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles. Rinse out the can with a little water to get everything and add that liquid. Simmer everything on low for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Taste and adjust seasoning/salt if needed. Serve with rice with grated cheddar cheese on top. (Variation -Turkey Bean Chili Soup; this can easily become a soup instead of a stew, just add more liquid (chicken or beef broth or another can of tomatoes) and simmer together till done. )

The TJ ground turkey goes for about $4 a lb. The regular turkey is better overall. The more expensive all white meat ground turkey breast kind can turn out too dry unless you are super careful cooking it, and mix it with other ingredients to keep it moist. If you don’t use ground turkey within 2 days of purchase, put the package in the freezer, and do an overnight defrost in the fridge the day before you want to use it. Yes I know it has a 2 week “use by” date on the package but all ground meats are best used as fresh as possible, within a day or two. TJ’s dates are way too generous for me.

UPDATE: (April 2022, I noticed ground turkey has prices crept up about 50 cents due to rampant inflation)

Trader Joe’s GUAJILLO SALSA


Trader Joe’s GUAJILLO SALSA – “A spicy and flavorful salsa with smokey undertones”

This description on the label is right on the money.

I really liked this new GUAJILLO SALSA offering Trader Joe’s came up with, it’s truly an excellent jarred salsa. In fact this may be among TJ’s best salsas of the many they offer. Trying it for the first time I found it was full of complex flavors, spicy, a bit smokey, a bit acidic… just really interesting and delicious. It will spike up all your taste buds. TJ’s usually puts some kind of heat level indicator graph on the salsa’s, however this jar doesn’t have one. So just a heads up this is not “mild”, it’s got a nice little kick to it, I would say medium spicy, however not blow your head off spicy. So imagine a chile graph of “medium”.

Ingredients in this salsa include: tomatoes in juice, tomato paste, guajillo chile pepper purée, vinegar, salt, crushed red pepper, dried garlic, and both guajillo chile powder and chipotle chile powder. All those nice chiles give this a big authentic flavor. Stir before using or shake well, as this has no thickeners added so it’s a bit loose and chunky in a typical Mexican salsa style (unlike some American made salsa brands that are artificially thickened with starch so they stick on a chip and do not drip easily). Even not being thickend, just dip a chip in a little bit of this and I promise you will get it’s flavor.

Use this anywhere you would use your favorite salsa or hot sauce, and be creative. I drizzled some over some simply grilled chicken. This guajillo salsa added a bunch of terrific flavors that went great with the chicken to jazz it up nicely. Drizzle it over Mexican rice, refried beans, tacos, eggs, you name it. Ground turkey tacos? Boring no more. I also just chopped up some fresh ripe tomatoes and mixed in a few tablespoons of this salsa to them to come up with a “salsa fresca” variation which was very tasty. I really like this salsa and if you are a fan of salsa you will likely too. Its way more interesting than the rather plain Jane TJ Hatch Valley Salsa (however I bet if you mixed the two they might be good blended for some red and green salsa flavors). In sum, TJ’s GUAJILLO SALSA is delicious and well worth trying. A 12 oz jar was $2.69. Would I buy it again? Yes. This is something I now like to have in the fridge at all times.

SHAKE OR STIR BEFORE USING. REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING.

Trader Joe’s HATCH VALLEY SALSA


TJ’s HATCH GREEN AND RED CHILE FLAKES are terrific and apparently a hit and a popular Trader Joe’s item. When I saw this “Trader Jose’s Hatch Valley Salsa” with “fire roasted Hatch Chile peppers” I guess I was expecting it to have a special taste but in fact found it to be just OK, nothing special at all. Trader Joe’s has had a GREEN SALSA (Salsa Verde) for some time which is fine in this salsa verde style and but which is cheaper at $1.99. This one is $2.99, a premium price. Both have green chiles and tomatillos. On its own this Hatch Valley Salsa was again just OK when we ate it with TJ’s Corn Dipper chips, it didn’t bring a great deal of flavor plus as it is thin and not great for dipping (on the plus side of that, no thickener agents) I haven’t tried this and the regular Green Salsa together to compare them side by side but still, I probably won’t buy this again as I just don’t think the higher price is worth it against the Salsa Verde. It might however be good for cooking a dish like Green Chile Enchiladas. TJ’s has so many very good salsa’s and related products (like Cowboy Caviar which I love as well as the Chlpotle Black Bean Dip) So I am giving this HATCH SALSA a “Meh” as its $2.99. Medium spice heat level. Ingredients: Hatch Chile Pepper, Tomatillos, Lime Juice Concentrate, Garlic Salt.

Ingredients : fresh tomatillos, green chile, water, onions, fresh jalapenos, salt, spices.

Trader Joe’s Green & Red HATCH CHILE flakes


RAVE

Trader Joe’s introduced a fantastic seasoning, these Dried Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes. This stuff is terrific. Now from what I understand in New Mexico, “Hatch Chiles”, named after the Hatch Valley where they are grown, are to be found everywhere in both fresh and dried form (with strings of dried ones called “ristras” hanging outside houses). Hatch Chiles are consumed in quantity by all New Mexicans, the only thing being if you are a “green or red” person. Hatch Chiles seem to be something Trader Joe’s has some interest in. They have a Hatch Valley Salsa and have always had those little cans of fire roasted chiles (terrific for the pantry BTW). Last summer I recall seeing bags of fresh Hatch Chiles which really surprised me as in NYC seeing fresh Hatch Chiles is so rare I think one might only find that at a Super Gourmet grocer. Those TJ fresh Hatch Chiles I saw might have been a one-off deal as I haven’t seen them since. I am guessing TJ’s decided it’s more practical to sell Hatch Chiles like this in a dried crushed form.

These HATCH CHILE FLAKES are yet one more great addition to TJ’s excellent line of spices. The bottle of dried flaked chiles contains both red AND green chiles to accommodate all comers. These dried chilies are not very spicy and add a wonderful flavor. HOW TO USE: Add these chile flakes to any ground meat, burgers (beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken) or even Impossible burgers, or to tacos, stews, tomato based dishes, pasta, pizza, cheese dishes… Add to marinades and sauces… use the flakes to marinate chicken or meats (or tofu for that matter) in a marinade. Sprinkle this on eggs or on avocados or Avo-Toast.

The 1.9 oz jar is $3.99. A little expensive for a bottle of spice, but you can use a teaspoon and get a lot of flavor – not to mention you don’t have to go all the way to Santa Fe to get your fix of Hatch Chiles and the flavors of New Mexico. If this sounds interesting I would grab a bottle as who knows if this product will be around forever or it’s a one off like those Trader Joe bags of fresh Hatch chiles I saw once. I am stocking up with a few of these.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/green-and-red-hatch-chile-flakes-070397

TRADER JOE’S says: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of red and green chiles to New Mexican cuisine — there’s an argument to be made that red and green chiles are, in fact, the foundation of New Mexican cuisine. After all, New Mexico’s state question (apparently, there are such things as state questions), “red or green?”, is a direct reference to their ubiquity in restaurant settings. In honor of these chiles’ special place in Southwestern cooking, we’re proudly introducing Trader Joe’s Green & Red Hatch Chile Flakes to our shelves, so that their spicy, singularly New Mexican flavor can be enjoyed at home in dishes of all kinds — no matter which state your home happens to be in.

Of course, these aren’t just any chiles: these are dried Hatch Chiles, from New Mexico’s renowned Hatch Valley. Widely praised for their unique, savory taste (some detect notes of onion or garlic in their flavor profile), these Green & Red Hatch Chiles are especially great for adding heat and depth to taco meat, enchilada sauces, chilis, or stews. And since each jar contains both Red and Green Flakes, you get the benefits of each: both the round, slightly sweeter flavor of the more ripened Red, and the sharper, more vegetal flavor of the younger Green. Try folding them into your next burger for a nice, peppery kick.”

TJ’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers


RAVE

Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers have the delectable flavor of Mexican Street Corn in a crispy snack….chipotle, habanero kick, smoky, spicy, heat…. Melt cheese over them for a punchy nacho, crumble atop scrambled eggs… Guacamole….” (from the package)

These may be the best chips Trader Joe’s sells. So good! Terrific product.

Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers are a spiced up version of the also excellent regular plain Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers. For this “Elote” version of the chips they add a lot of spices for a spicy delicious variation that recalls Mexican Street Corn (Elote). These are so flavorful and honestly they are pretty spicy* just eaten on their own. If you don’t eat these with something (say guacamole, dip, cheese….) your mouth will probably feel a bit on fire from the chipotle and habanero pepper seasonings. Still not crazy, a tolerable heat unless you’re really spicy-adverse. Naturally just like the plain versions, the shape of these thicker “dipper” shaped corn chips make them perfect to stand up to any dip of any kind without falling apart.

These match especially well eaten with other things, especially guacamole of course, or even just salsa. I even sometimes enjoy eating these Elote Corn Chips with something plain like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, which balances the heat level. You can even crumble these up and put them on things (they suggest atop scramble eggs, that should be great) If you just put grated cheese all over these for nachos you wouldn’t need any other spices, so I think these could make super easy nachos And naturally some beers will go great with these chips, to put out the fire in your mouth.

The Elote spice dippers costs a little more than the plain version of TJ’s Organic Corn Dippers (I think gone up to $2.99 now?)

UPDATE: * These don’t seem to be quite as spicy as they were before. I can’t tell if they’ve changed the recipe or maybe just the lot I got… (if anyone has ideas on this, please leave a comment) I have had a lot of experiences with some Trader Joe’s products I first tried getting “toned down” over time.

EASY RECIPE – How To Make Mexican Street Corn (Elote)


If you’ve been in a Trader Joe’s you’ve probably seen the word – ELOTE – a few times. One might even say TJ’s has a bit of an obsession with Elote. Just in case you don’t know what Elote means, “elote corn” is a typical Mexican street food consisting of corn on the cob sprinkled with cheese and lots of spices served carts by street vendors. In Mexico City there are probably as many Elote carts as in NYC we have hot dog carts.

Elote corn is delicious, slathered with mayo, lime juice, dusted with chile powder and sprinkled with Mexican Cotija cheese. MEXICAN STREET CORN is not hard to make yourself, and conveniently, you can get everything you need at TJ’s. I just made some a few days ago with some really fresh corn and it was so yummy I thought I would share how to make it easily. You will need: Fresh corn on the cob, Everything but the ELOTE SEASONING, CHILE LIME seasoning, some mayonnaise, fresh lime, and Cotija cheese (like a Mexican parmesan). As far as mayo, TJ’s Chile Lime Mayo might work great or Suzi’s Organic Mayo.

SHOPPING LIST: fresh corn, Everything But The ELOTE SEASONING blend, Mexican Cotija cheese (or Parmesan), Lime, Mayonnaise (Chile Lime Mayo?), optional, CHILE LIME seasoning

RECIPE – ELOTE / MEXICAN STREET CORN

If you can grill the corn, great, but steamed corn is fine. Cook corn. When done, hold it with tongs (or spear on a chopstick) or just put it on some foil. Slather some mayo all over with a spatula (mayo is authentic but if mayo turns you off, just use butter). Next sprinkle on a generous amount of Everything But The ELOTE Seasoning. Next sprinkle a good amount of grated COTIJA cheese (or Parm or Asiago). Squeeze some fresh lime juice on it. OPTIONALLY; if you want even more spice add TJ’s CHILE LIME Seasoning blend and/or a little hot sauce of your choosing. Now enjoy!

Now just in case you are a lazy bones and this sounds too complicated for you here’s a simpler version I do when I’m in a rush. Make your regular fresh buttered corn and just sprinkle a good amount of the EVERYTHING BUT ELOTE seasoning all over it. Easy enough?

Do you think Trader Joe’s has an ELOTE obsession?

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/discover/entertaining/we-like-it-elote

https://traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/059063

Watch how fast this Elote vendor is !

   

TJ’s Organic Corn Chip Dippers


GLUTEN FREE. ORGANIC.

We know Trader Joe’s carries a ton of all kinds of chips. These are one of my favorites out of all of them. So why are these corn chips are so good? I think a big reason is they only have 3 ingredients! They list : organic yellow corn, organic sunflower oil, sea salt. That’s it. They must be using the best organic corn they can find, these chips have a super tasty corn flavor. These chips are both thick and a bit curved. They’re thick enough to stand up to any dip you put them in, such as guacamole, salsa or what have you. Even on their own with nothing on them, they still taste fantastic. They have been $1.99 (forever) but I bought them last week and I got yet another case of TJ inflation sticker shock to see TJ raised the price of these. They’re now $2.29.

Match the plain corn chips with CHIPOTLE BLACK BEAN DIP – an excellent combo

Beside this plain version, TJ has a spicy variation, the delicious “Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers” (Elote aka Mexican street corn flavor) which is an amazing chip, those are loaded and I do mean loaded, with spices; these cost a little more than the plain version, Elote chips are now $2.69 (also up 20 cents). The Elote chips are excellent and pretty spicy. Personally I love them with, among other things, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, in other words something plain as they bring plenty of spices on their own.

You can’t go wrong with either variety. Here’s what TJ has to say about them: https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/092482

RAVE

Need a recipe for GUACAMOLE?

Previous Older Entries