Trader Joe’s FLOR DE SAL Portuguese sea salt (great gift idea!)


Trader Joe’s FLOR DE SAL, like French Fleur de Sel, is a naturally harvested sea salt. This is from Portugal. It has large grains, and is good for a “finishing salt”, something you can sprinkle a few grains on top just before serving, or leave the crock on the table as I am doing. When I saw these attractive crocks, which are only five bucks, I immediately thought, “Perfect Christmas Gift”!

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/portuguese-flor-de-sal-074632

– TRADER JOES SAYS: “Similar to its French equivalent, Fleur de Sel, Trader Joe’s Portuguese Flor de Sal is collected by hand, from a thin layer of salt crystals that form on the surface of the sea—it’s a gentle process, unlike traditional sea salt harvesting methods that use machines. The Salt crystals are small, delicate, and flaky— the name means salt flower in Portuguese. This Salt contains more moisture than traditional sea salt. It’s preserved in a ceramic crock and topped with a cork lid, which helps protect the crystals and keep them from drying out—it’s a terrific vessel that makes this salt tremendously giftable, and also offers countless re-use options once you’ve enjoyed the contents.”

Trader Joe’s PUMPKIN CHEESE CAKE (Fall / Seasonal Item)


(Fall Seasonal Item)

We really enjoyed this Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake. Especially after our upstairs neighbor gussied it up with some whipped cream when she invited us to her Halloween dinner (hence the black spider napkin holder) and served the TJ’s pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. What I liked about this cheesecake was it they did not over do it in the “pumpkin spices” department, it’s pretty subtle and tasted first and foremost like cheesecake with just a little something extra, with pumpkin. Its very yummy. $7.99 for a rather large cake (30 oz). This could make an especially nice dessert for Thanksgiving, or anytime you can get this during the Fall/Winter season when it may be available. Frozen, defrost in fridge overnight or 4 hours and leave at room temp for about an hour or so. I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s: “We couldn’t fit an entire pumpkin into the box but we did fill it with rich pumpkin flavor…blended into the tangy sweet goodness of cheesecake….perfect for holiday dessert….”

TRADER JOE’S MEXICO “La Laja” Small Lot COFFEE


This stuff is my new favorite Trader Joe’s coffee! I saw it in the NEW PRODUCTS area. I tried it and found this to be a really excellent coffee It’s Mexican small lot, shade grown, 100% Arabica originating from the mountains of Huatusco, Mexico which seems to be between Vera Cruz and Puebla.

This is a wonderful high quality coffee. I found it made an outstanding cup. Now the package say “medium roast” which I don’t buy, it’s darker than a medium roast. I would say this is just this side of a (light) dark roast (kind of a “French Roast”?) and the beans are even slightly shiny. I’ve found Trader Joe’s descriptions (light, medium, dark) vary wildly from coffee to coffee and are very inconsistent. The Azmari Bunni is actually a medium roast or even a shade lighter. This lovely Mexican coffee is just into a dark roast which actually seems perfect for these beans. The brewing method I did was using a Moka pot but this coffee will work for any kind of brewing method you prefer (drip, pour-over or even an espresso machine) if you like a coffee a little bit on the dark side (like a French Roast). This is a whole bean coffee of course and ideally you will grind up your beans just before brewing. When freshly ground you will get an incredible deep aroma from these beans. It made a rich dark flavorful cup of Joe that I just love. It’s delicious. I find this coffee excellent and would buy it again gladly. In fact I may stock up a bit as these small lot coffees from Trader Joe’s can go bye-bye easily. TJ’s sells this for $9.99 for a 12 oz bag (whole bean. For this quality I’d say that’s not outrageous and a pretty fair price. PS I also experimented mixing this 50/50 with TJ’s BUUNI coffee, which is a medium roast, and together that was also quite excellent as a blend of a medium and darker roast, Middle American, South America and African coffees!

UPDATE: Sure enough, a few weeks after writing this I can’t find any more of this coffee in either of my two nearby TJ’s! I really hope more comes in…

Trader Joe’s “Super Amazing Reusuable KITCHEN CLOTHS”


“SAVE PAPER, REDUCE WASTE”

We’ve tested these out in our kitchen and are finding them to be pretty useful. They seem to me like those orange “Chamois” cloths you get at a dollar store. But as my “dollar store” has now gone up to being a $1.29 and up store, these Trader Joe’s viscose cloths are convenient to buy and are not out of line price at $2.99 for two cloths in the package (though I wish they were a little bigger). We’re mainly using them for kitchen counters and the like. These cleaning cloths are strong and quite absorbent. They do absorb a lot even when wet. You just wring them out till damp and they absorb a ton of liquid again. These are useful and “eco”, saving some paper towel use. I would buy these again.

Trader Joe’s DRIED ORANGE SLICES


Trader Joe’s Sweetened Dried Orange Slices

“Exactly what the name implies. Very sweet orange slices which are full of wonderful citrus flavor. You can eat the whole slice, rind and all.”

Personally I think these are a terrific little snack with an old world taste and esthetic. I just love these. They are whole slices of orange including the rind and the peel (but no pits) which are sweetened and dried to be slightly chewy. They have a wonderfully intense orange flavor which includes a slightest bitterness from the peel. These are so good I could eat the whole package at once but I usually stop myself at around 3 slices. OK maybe 4. They’re $1.99 a package which is just over 5 oz. “Product of Thailand”.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC RAW PUMPKIN VINEGAR (Fall Item)


FALL SEASONAL ITEM – Trader Joe’s Organic Raw Pumpkin Vinegar, “RAW ORGANIC VINEGAR WITH THE MOTHER, UNPASTEURIZED AND UNFILTERED”

If you are one of those into Trader Joe’s All Things Pumpkin every Fall you may find this interesting enough to check out.

It’s made exactly like they make the Apple Cider Vinegar TJ’s carries, just instead of apples they are using pumpkins. I compared the taste of TJ’s Apple Cider Vinegar and this Pumpkin Vinegar side by side to compare them to each other. Now the Apple Cider Vinegar is something I’m really used to, taste-wise and just find that really really good, a perfect vinegar. ACV tastes just right to me especially as far as acidity and sharpness. This pumpkin vinegar has the slightest taste of pumpkin. It seems to be more mellow than ACV even though technically the acidity in both is the same. Both say “diluted to 5% acidity”. But this pumpkin vinegar seems less sharp to me. So if you want a less sharp vinegar, this may be for you. Me, while I find this “interesting”, it’s just a curiosity item. I’d probably say I prefer my good old reliable ACV. I could see this vinegar as being good for making a milder vinaigrette. Or used to make a shrub (drink with vinegar)?

This is $1.99 for a 8 1/2 oz bottle. I can get a way bigger bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar for just a little more ($2.49). I probably wouldn’t buy this again. Side-note – TJ’s once carried a raspberry vinegar which I actually did like a lot, as it did actually taste of raspberries. I liked that for salad dressings – but sadly it vanished like so many good TJ’s items! (Sigh)

TJ’s says: “Our supplier takes fresh, cold-pressed, organic Pumpkins and ferments them into a cider. Then they add the vinegar “mother” (a culture of good bacteria) and ferment them together to become the seasonal vinegar before you—the very same process that is used to turn apples into our Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. This Organic Raw Vinegar is unpasteurized and unfiltered—giving it a gorgeously cloudy, orange hue—with a subtle pumpkin flavor. Use it to create a unique vinaigrette for your salads or add a tablespoon to give a punch of acidity to chilis, stews, and sauces. Best yet, combine with sparkling water for a homemade pumpkin shrub!”

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-raw-pumpkin-vinegar-074212

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA Kit (Brown Sugar Tapioca Pearls Drink)


If you are not familiar with BOBA TEA (aka bubble tea) it’s a popular (very TRENDY) drink that has very large pearls of Tapioca that sink to the bottom. The tapioca pearls have a very chewy texture that most people really enjoy. The pearls are so large that to suck them up it comes with a special ultra wide straw. These drinks are sold by specialty tea shops like “GONG CHA” that serve up a premium (and a bit pricey) Boba Tea Drink.

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA kit is a (poor) approximation of what you might get from a specialty Boba Tea shop. I have had Boba Tea from quite a few different Tea shops and in short, Trader Joe’s Boba Tea Kit won’t put any of them out of business. The drink you get in a real Boba Tea shop is way better than this, however if you’ve never had it before this may give you an idea of what “boba tea” is. As my wife commented “this is a Trader Joe’s version”. She meant it as a knock as in “cheap knockoff of the real thing”. A specialty shop boba tea drink usually costs about $5-6 bucks each. This kit sells for $5.50 for 4 drinks. So yes a cheap knock off. Granted, its a high profit item (sugar, tea, tapioca)

Anyway if you can’t have it at one of these shops and just want to try boba tea in that case then his might be a good starting point. For one thing the tapioca pearls in Trader Joe’s are much smaller than the ones that the shops make which are huge and so chewy. This kit has 4 pouches of a concentrate with the pearls. You mix this package up with milk or tea (or combo of the two) plus a handful of ice to dilute its sweetness, and you need to add enough of these things in, otherwise it will be way too sweet. I put the defrosted pouch into a glass jar with a lid so I could really shake it up with the added ice and liquid. The kit even has 4 big straws. Not bad, but again really no comparison to a Boba Tea shop drink. I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced PUMPKIN SEEDS (Fall Item)


There are some Fall items that are misses and some that are hits. This is a HIT for me. These are really good. I love them and everybody I offered them too liked them. The added spices and coating is not cloying, it’s just enough but not too much so you still taste pumpkin seeds, and they are really crunchy and tasty (they have butter). $2.99 for 8 oz.

The Pumpkin Greek Yogurt however was a big Miss for me; Didn’t like that taste at all. I would not buy that again.

Trader Joe’s PUMPKIN CHIPOTLE ROASTING SAUCE (Fall Item) with Recipe, Braised Chicken & Vegetables


This “roasting sauce” is a new Fall item for as part of TJ’s annual “pumpkin spectacular”. Now I’m not one who goes crazy every Fall with all their Everything Pumpkin items. While some of the products they come up with are good (like this one!) some sound just bad to me (case point, TJ’s PUMPKIN SPICE HUMMUS, whose very name offends me as did TJ’s infamous “chocolate hummus”). But having said this, I hear Pumpkin Spice Hummus is popular and sells out often, so clearly I’m in the minority! Anyway as far as this new sauce is concerned, I liked it. It was better than what I imagined. This PUMPKIN CHIPOTLE ROASTING sauce was quite tasty used it to braise chicken and vegetables (a recipe follows below).

This Pumpkin Chipotle sauce uses an imaginative blend of ingredients. Though it has pumpkin puree as the first ingredient it has so many other ingredients, the pumpkin flavor blends in with so many other flavors it makes a complex and tasty combination. This doesn’t have anything like a “pumpkin pie” flavor at all. Rather this sauce’s flavor profile is complex, balanced and delicious. Ingredients are: pumpkin puree, cane sugar, water, apple cider vinegar, apple juice concentrate, onion puree, sea salt, molasses, garlic, tomato paste, vinegar, chipotle in adobo puree, chipotle chili powder and spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice which are subtle here and blend well.

I used this sauce to make a braised chicken dish which turned out delicious. I used boneless chicken thighs and onion, garlic, celery, yellow peppers and mushrooms. This would work very well with bone-in thighs too, roasted as per TJ’s recipe (see link below)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/roasted-pumpkin-chipotle-chicken-thighs

In addition to chicken, I am sure this sauce will work very well with pork. Also just on roasted veggies. Probably it would work well even with tofu too. So it might be fun to experiment with this sauce and see what you can come up with. Here’s my saucy dish in the picture.

Braised Boneless Chicken Thighs (sliced up) in Pumpkin Chipotle sauce with vegetables

Trader Joe’s suggests roasting it with cauliflower or peppers which sounds good and they also mention using it with pasta too…. I have not tried that yet.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/pumpkin-chipotle-roasting-sauce-074648

This is how I made my chicken dish if you are interested.

RECIPEBONELESS CHICKEN THIGHS IN PUMPKIN CHIPOTLE SAUCE : Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dust with a little flour (optional). Brown chicken in 2 tsp olive oil for about 5 minutes per side. till golden. When browned, remove temporarily. Toss in your chopped vegetables to the pan (onions, garlic, celery, sliced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms). Sauté on low-medium heat for about five minutes till translucent. Then add a few tablespoons of liquid (wine, stock or water) to the pan to de-glaze it, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom. Add your chicken back in and cover with Pumpkin Roasting Sauce and braise on gentle simmer (either on top of the stove or in the oven, loosely covered). I used about 3/4 of the jar in my dish but you can adjust amount if you want less or more sauce in the finished dish. Simmer / braise on low heat for about 25 minutes or so. If you use chicken breasts instead of thighs, reduce cooking time to about 12 minutes and if using bone in chicken simmer or roast for about 40 minutes. When done, I took out the chicken, rested it a bit, then sliced it and added it back to my sauce. Leave whole if you prefer of course. Check seasoning for salt and pepper. Optional – add 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce. Serve the chicken, veggies and sauce on top of Jasmine rice (or orzo or potatoes).

TJ’s says: “Use this Sauce to coat some Baby Cauliflower and Organic Mini Sweet Peppers before roasting them in a hot oven. Make it a marinade for chicken or pork to turn into an aromatic, shredded taco filling. Or give it a try on pasta night, combined with a touch of cream and tossed with Organic Cascatelli Pasta.”

PUMPKIN CHIPOTLE ROASTING SAUCE is $3.49 a jar (14.5 oz). I would buy this again. If you like it, I would say stock up on a few jars as it may vanish after Thanksgiving as I think its a seasonal item.

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


These are called SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI with sage and butter (frozen section). That sounded interesting to me so I decided to check them out. Results? Well they were tasty but frankly different than what we were expecting from the name. First off there turned out to be quite a bit of sauce in relation to the gnocchi than expected (kind of swimming in it) and the flavor of the sauce while nice, dominated over any subtle sweet potato flavor to the point that three of us tasting them all had the same comment : we couldn’t tell these gnocchi were “sweet potato” as opposed to regular 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.

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