Trader Joe’s ITALIAN BOMBA HOT SAUCE


bomba1

Since it was released Trader Joe’s Italian “Bomba” Hot Pepper Sauce has blown up as one of the best new products that Trader Joe’s has come out with. Once again in this case it’s not unjustified hype…. all the hype about TJ’s “BOMBA” is completely justified! This stuff is just incredible. I could say “its the bomb” but I won’t!

BOMBA is made primarily from crushed Calabrian chiles which in this product are also fermented. You probably know that fermenting foods adds complex elements to flavor, expanding them more. They become deeper and more complex, and in this Bomba sauce the fermentation of Calabrian chiles adds that magical “fifth” taste.. yup you got it. UMAMI. Now of course this Bomba hot sauce is spicy but it is really not knock your head off spicy. It’s spicy and full of flavor at the same time. I just put a small spoonful in my mouth and while I got “yes this is kind of spicy”, it didn’t want to make me want to drink a glass of milk or anything. I got something beyond “spicy”, there is a kind of funkiness (oh, thats the fermentation and umami) even a tiny bit of sweetness. Depending on the amount you use, you can adjust the level of spiciness. If you add even just a little bit to dishes, I am talking a quarter of a teaspoon or a few drops, it will add a level a flavor that may surprise you. How to use Bomba sauce? Of course this is going to be great added to tomato sauces, say on pasta or pizza or what have you. But what about other pasta dishes? A little bit in your Carbonara? Yeah baby. A spoonful mixed into your Spaghetti Aglio e Olio? Yes. And all those Gnocchi you love?! Regular, cauliflower, kale, or what have you… OMG folks, this stuff and some very nice olive oil will make your gnocchi soar.

But Bomba is for more than for “just Italian”. I put some on my scrambled eggs and it was divine. A drop of it onto of my buttered toasted baguette. A small spoon mixed into my avocado toast or guacamole. Add some to your next marinade. Dips and sauces? Perfect. You can mix this up with some Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise for that matter) for an instant wonderful sauce, to top some cooked Chicken Breasts, Shrimp, or Tofu as well. Or try that mix as a dip for some chips. Drizzle some with olive oil and garlic on your roasted veggies. Add a spoon of this to your soup or most any sauce to give it some jazz. I love it on cottage cheese (seriously). On my sardines on toast. Add garlic to Bomba, and of course these two go into the stratosphere. The list is endless and I promise you, you will discover uses on your own exploring that you will come up with (and if they’re good, please share some with us in the COMMENTS below).

TJ’s Bomba is truly a premium gourmet offering. Amazingly Trader Joe’s sells this for $3 a jar, which is frankly incredible. Oh and it’s really Italian, says “Product Of Italy” on the label. I have found it sold out on occasion missing on the shelves as its a big hit at TJ. So if you like it, next time grab an extra one to keep in the pantry like I do (but leave some for the next guy!) Ingredients are: Chilies, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Basil, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid. I generally add some very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil down the road to “seal the top” off and help keep it fresher for longer as well. Honestly even if you are not really the “hot sauce” type I suggest you get a jar of this to try. Calabrian chili’s are not super hot; they are in the “medium” spice level. People can pop them in their mouths easily. Personally I can’t live without having a jar of Bomba in the fridge now and if you try this, you may feel exactly the same.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s Liquid Dish Soap


I liked this Liquid Dish Soap that TJ sells under their own brand.

This is the LAVENDER TEA TREE SCENT version. They also sell a Citrus scent version. It’s clear, meaning no dyes. Is Dawn blue naturally? I think not.

I imagine this stuff is probably comparable to one of those crazy expensive dish soaps you see in Whole Foods that I will never let my wife buy (“Seven dollars for dish soap?! You’ve got to be kidding me. Don’t worry I’ll pick some up at the dollar store next time I go. “) And yes I do frequently buy the huge bottles of dish washing liquid at the dollar store. 40 ounces for a buck. Now I do recognize they are more “watery” and I have to put more on the sponge more often but its just going down the drain anyway, quite literally.

Anyway to make my honey happy, I “splurged” and got a bottle of TJ’s Dish Soap It’s $2.99. You can tell instantly this is thicker than my $1 soap. Turn it upside down and see how fast it takes a bubble to rise. I tried it out washing up and this does a good job, it made a lot of foam that lasted. It smells quite nice (lavender and tea tree oil).  I can tell I don’t have to use as much soap as often as I do with my Dollar Store stuff. I’m sure its really some famous brand sold under TJ’s label at half the price the name brand usually costs, as is typical with some Trader Joe’s products. A big thing on the internet is guessing who really makes a product TJ sells (for example Annie’s Mac and Cheese vs. TJ Mac and Cheese) Anyway for $2.99 I will probably now buy this soap from now on. OK perhaps in addition to having one of the big bottles of the cheap stuff under the sink just in case we run out. Old habits die hard.

LAVENDER TEA TREE SCENT – made from plant derived cleaners Biodegradable. Hypoallergenic. Cuts Through Grease.

A 25 oz bottle is $2.99

TJ’s TANDOORI NAAN (frozen)


I really enjoy these Naan breads that TJ carries in the frozen section. These Naan are tasty, cheap and super convenient, just needing some warming up, and they say “Made In India” and “hand stretched” – sounds authentic! A package has 4 Naan for $2 (50 cents each!) TJ sells two versions, this plain Tandoori Naan and they also have a Garlic Naan version, which is quite flavorful. You might try both versions as both are really good. TJ also sells some non-frozen Naan in the Bread section. These cost a little more and I think are a bit thicker.

These Naan can be used for so many things. Of course these flatbreads go great with any of TJ’s pretty numerous Indian food items, but of course the Naan can be used anywhere a flatbread type bread would be good… with saucy foods, soups, etc. Bake these with cheese on top, or some ham or prosciutto, and you have a terrific easy creation. Really your imaginations are your only limit on what you can do with these.

To heat them, I sometimes throw these in the oven, or a toaster oven and sometimes just throw them in a pan. Hit them with some olive oil or butter or ghee and they become even more tasty. I do some butter and fresh crushed garlic sometimes and find these fabulous. Or buy the Garlic Naan versions if you don’t want to smash your own fresh garlic. The Garlic Naan ones have a little more flavors and some green stuff (cilantro or scallions).

I mentioned in an earlier post that you can put together some pizzas using Naan for your pizza base, in minutes! Try with these, or if you want a bit thicker base the Naan TJ carries in the fresh breads section.

So with your next TJ Indian feast, grab some Naan while you’re at it. A package of TJ’s Tadka Dal ($2) and some Naan and you have a dinner in 3 minutes for a few bucks that is as good takeout. I even made my own Tadka Dal and ate it with this Naan and since I had extra even gave some to my upstairs neighbor who thanked me profusely said they devoured it in minutes and said it was as good as an Indian restaurant.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s GREEK YOGURT


This is one of those Trader Joe’s products that I basically like to have in my fridge at all times. Why? It’s so useful. I use it all the time, for one thing to make all kinds of tasty sauces in a few seconds.

Greek yogurt is very thick, as it is strained yogurt. Its similar to our Sour Cream, or to crema in Mexican cooking, or to creme fraiche in French cooking. You could substitute this for pretty much anything or anywhere Sour Cream would be used. One thing I generally do with the greek yogurt is make a nice rich sauce by mixing it with something.

It can be as simple as mixing some greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Boom you have a lovely Greek yogurt lemon sauce. This is a terrific salad dressing. Its great with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add something else to it and you get even more mileage. Add Green Dragon Sauce. Or add some Yemeni Zhough. Or Sriracha, as the milkiness of the yogurt tames all of these sauces and makes them creamy and smooth. Especially great, is fresh garlic. Chopped parsley, or arugula and you have a green dressing…. your only limits to find things to use this with will be your imagination.

For dessert or with fruits, you can mix the yogurt with a pinch of sugar or maple syrup for a lovely sweet, creamy addition.

Of course I can put this on my breakfast cereal, but it is richer than regular yogurt, so I keep the amount small.

Some more ideas

  • as a breakfast or dessert bowl with banana and blueberries
  • as a topping for chili instead of sour cream
  • as a topping for soups instead of cream
  • as a spread on crackers or bread (try mixing with some ingredients…)
  • as an addition to a pasta sauce for extra creaminess

A 16 oz. tub is $2.50. A container lasts in my fridge for about a month, depending on how much I use it. So great stuff, try it.

RAVE

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are one of the best products TJ sells. These chocolate goodies frequently show up on “Best Things At Trader Joe’s” lists, and for good reason, they’re fantastic, not too mention dangerously addictive. I think of these as “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups For GrownUps”. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy Reese’s cups on occasion but not like these peanut butter cups, because, let’s face it, these things are FAR, far better quality. These are the “adult” version of Reese’s. For one, these have better chocolate (and its real chocolate, the dark kind! Everyone knows Dark is the only chocolate if you are a real chocolate lovers (count me in). These have better peanut butter stuff inside too.

These cups are irresistible. I have an internal fight all the time, (eating one) Oh, that was really good. I need one more…” (I usually can stop at 2 or 3….or god help me, 4)… But its not easy, they are that delicious.

Sometimes you need a treat. Especially these days?

A one pound tub is $4.29.

Would I buy them again?

Just try and stop me!

Trader Joe’s DRIED BABY BANANAS


In the Dried Fruit section at TJs, I’ve always liked a package of dried bananas that Trader Joe’s has sold. A few days ago, this bright yellow package caught my eye. Trader Joe’s DRIED BABY BANANAS. Not sure if product is new, replaced those, or I just never noticed them before but they stoked my curiousity to review for the site so got a bag. DRIED BABY BANANAS are tasty! Some people might think they look a little scary, almost like little dried cut off fingers. Taste-wise they are just what they sound like, baby bananas, which I am guessing are sun or air dried.  They are a bit moist, a bit chewy and have an intense banana taste as the flavors are concentrated. And “baby bananas” are a different variety than your normal banana. So did I like them? Here’s the answer. After I tasted one, then another, I basically couldn’t stop eating them! Delicious. They were quite tasty as-is right out of the bag. But then I had a bright idea, “Hmm, I wonder if they would be good match if I dipped them in peanut butter!?” Needless to say, great combination…  of course if you put some out with a little bit of PB to dip them in on the side I have a feeling kids would love these like that as a snack. Though when they first see them no doubt they will say something like, “ewww gross, these look like dried fingers off a dead monkey” – which they do to some extant, though they look exactly like what they sound like, dried baby bananas all shrunken up. The package says they come from Thailand. INGREDIENTS: “DRIED BANANAS”. So I call that a pretty “Natural” product. A package costs $1.99. The bag I got yesterday seems to have only 4 little bananas left when I just checked them…. so you could say they went down easy and way too fast. Next time I better buy 2 bags. In short, another very good dried fruit snack from TJ, well worth trying so check them out.

RAVE

TRADER JOE’S PESTO ALLA GENOVESE


TRADER GIOTTO’S (TRADER JOE’S) PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

Mentioned in an earlier post, Trader Joe’s Pesto Genovese (basil pesto) comes in glass jar which makes it a great pantry item so extremely convenient to always have on hand. You can open up a jar of this pesto and add to some pasta and bingo, a hot dinner or a side dish is on your table in under 15 minutes with little effort and for very little dough ($3-4)! What’s not to like?

Now if you have ever made pesto yourself, you know it takes a bunch of ingredients and some effort but in the end its truly worth it as the smell when you open up your blender, when the pungent aroma of fresh basil, cheese and garlic permeates your kitchen. The smell is so heavenly it may knock you off your feet.

So having said that, I won’t tell you this jar of pesto is as good as if you made your own pesto. How could it be? Still TJ’s Pesto is actually very tasty and the convenience of having it in your pantry is fantastic, for whenever you get a craving for pesto. This is a great TJ value at only $2.50! Though you can tell by the fact that is says Sunflower Oil as the first ingredient and not olive oil, they skimped a bit on the most expensive ingredients. But even so, TJ’s jarred Pesto Genovese is good and believe it or not, I prefer this one they sell to the “fresh” one TJ sells in the refrigerated section which costs a bit more. I was pretty surprised that I tried both and liked this one better!

Now you can, and should absolutely, tweak and improve your plated past with a nice splash of very good quality EVOO plus a nice sprinkle of extra freshly grated Parmigiano and / or Pecorino cheese plus freshly ground black pepper on top of your finished pasta dish.

For $2.50, this is a good buy and good value and worth keeping a jar or two in your pantry as a go-to item to always have on hand. I certainly do, its made us a dinner a few times when I “had nothing to eat” around!

TJ’s TACO SEASONING MIX spice blend


My headline: “Its not just for Tacos”

This little bag is possibly one of the cheapest things in the store, but I’ve discovered this is a great thing to have on hand. It’s certainly worth buying for 79 cents. “Taco Seasoning Mix” is a spice blend of a seasoning that is really good and very versatile. Is it just for Tacos? Well, this is a spice blend… You know like the ones you see in some fancy shops for $10 for a little bag? Even if you have some or all of these spices in your spice rack they are probably not as fresh as whats in this foil package from South Africa (!) The blend of spices and ratio of all the seasoning are spot on. This “taco” seasoning blend is better than any I’ve tried. The spices are :

Sea salt, cumin, cayenne, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, oregano, dried bell pepper, dried chile pepper and smoked paprika.

An excellent spice blend thats packed with flavor with a bit of chile heat, but not massive heat. I’ve used it with ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork, as well as to marinate and grill chicken breasts, or frankly practically anything you can think of, even to season steaks or other things. Try it and see if you like a sprinkle or a nice amount. I am pretty generous, especially for “Mexican” things.

This little bag of spices can makes it super easy to come up with something tasty for dinner or lunch, or make something a little boring more exciting and flavorful. For example, Ground Turkey can be boring, right? Try giving ground turkey a nice coating of this seasoning the next time you are grilling up turkey burgers or tacos. Brush a little olive oil on your meat, season it (this has salt so you may not need any or much). Throw the seasoned meat into a very hot cast iron pan, or non-stick pan with some olive oil. The lovely aroma of the spices will hit you immediately. Your old boring turkey burgers or tacos are now mouth waveringly exciting and spicy delicious. Seriously! I make great turkey tacos with this, or use ground beef. Cook it up. Warm some corn tortillas, and you have the makings of Taco Night at your place. On steak? Why not? On some Tofu? Ditto.

Spiced Chicken Breasts: Brush them with oil, season with this mix, marinate for maybe say 30 minutes. Grill in a hot pan till one side is well browned, flip and sear the other side. COVER THE PAN AND TURN HEAT OFF. LET IT SIT COVERED FOR 10 MINUTES. This method will make the juiciest chicken breasts you ever had. If you don’t use gas but have an electric burner, probably 5 minutes as the resident heat on the burner will continue the cooking more than a gas burner.

“PRODUCT OF SOUTH AFRICA” – where they know a good barbecue and how to grill with spices.

Vegetarians: Did I mention it will even perk up your beans?

This is worth a try!

Trader Joe’s SLICED FRENCH BRIOCHE BREAD


“Buttery, moist and perfectly French”

Wow is this heavenly stuff. One of those so good, you can’t stop eating it, things. FRENCH BRIOCHE bread is a big hit for Trader Joe’s, a best seller year round. Almost anytime I go to TJs if I glance around at customers carts on the check out line, its a pretty sure thing I will see a package, if not two, of this bread in a few carts. This Brioche is the real thing: “Made in France”, this sliced brioche is one of TJ’s most popular items for very good reason, its pretty amazing! Soft and eggy, slightly sweet, it comes in thick slices, about 1/2 inch thick.

If you know what a real bakery Challah bread tastes like, brioche is very similar, both are yeasted breads made with lots of eggs and butter. This bread is delicious as-is un-toasted of the bag, spread with some softened (French) butter. or cream cheese. It is fantastic, of course TOASTED up till it is a perfect, delicious golden brown. Butter, cinnamon and sugar? Cinnamon toast. This might be the most delicious toast you will ever have. TIP: Be careful when you toast this bread as it can go from Perfect to Burnt in just a few seconds. So keep an eye on it. I love it toasted, spread with soft French (or Irish) butter and served with scrambled eggs. It is amazing with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or any jam or marmalade, or basically anything at all. It makes the best sandwiches in the world. Heaven on a plate. AVOCADO BRIOCHE TOAST?! Oh yeah baby, I had some toasted this morning for breakfast with butter, avocado smashed up with lemon, salt and pepper and GDS hot sauce.

FRENCH TOAST – This as you may have read online naturally this bread makes THE most amazing French Toast. You must try this next time you make French toast. It will be moist and delicious and heavenly… A breakfast your family will beg you to make again and again. Its soft, so you may want to leave it out overnight to get a bit hard and stale to hold up better, but even if not, its great.

A package of the brioche is $4. In a bakery, a brioche bread like this would be at least $7, so for 4 bucks its as usual a real good deal chez Trader Joe’s. A package can be devoured easily, so I guess thats why I see folks buying it in often two at a time. I keep it in the freezer of course. It defrosts rapidly and stays super fresh in the freezer. TIP: If you want a thin slice of this, you can cut it easily a minute or two after you take it out of the freezer, when its still a bit stiff and frozen, its way easier to cut in half frozen (be careful of course.) If cut in half you get a nice thin slice. I find this good for some things, especially if you don’t want a super thick sandwich. Thin, the brioche makes the most amazing cucumber sandwiches! Or make open face Scandinavian style things with this (salmon, cream cheese, dill, lemon….)

A great product!

RAVE

Need a recipe for French Toast? This is a nice one

https://www.fromvalerieskitchen.com/brioche-french-toast/

TJ recipe for Raspberry Ricotta Toast with sliced brioche

https://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/4647

Trader Joe’s CARAMEL APPLE GRANOLA


 

This seems to be another of Trader Joe’s Fall/Winter seasonal products.

This is actually a terrific granola and excellent product, despite the very so-so name (“apple flavored”??) and pretty lousy package design (4 fonts used in the name and every letter in apple ??!)  I can’t tell if the name and package design is geared towards kids – or designed by a kid – but this isn’t a kiddie product. Its an excellent, delicious granola, maybe the best granola TJ’s sells. This is a cereal which I’m sure both adults and kids would love.

From the package: “Sweet and tart crunchy clusters with apple slices, peanuts and pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds”

Despite the words about pumpkin spice, actually this isn’t another TJ “pumpkin spice” thing. In fact if they didn’t mention it I wouldn’t even know there were any pumpkin spices. Whatever spices are in this, they are subtle and blend in perfectly with all the other flavors (apple/cinnamon).

The particularly great part about this granola is it that it contains (dehydrated) bits of whole apples, with the skin on even! The apple bits are what makes this a super granola. The clusters with apple bit are especially tasty, a bit chewy and very apple yummy. The granola is a tiny bit on the sweet side (hence the “caramel” part of the name) but I don’t find it overly so, especially when I eat it with plain yogurt and milk which balances out the sweetness.

Its great as a snack on its own, when you get those big clusters of granola. Its super as a cold cereal. I haven’t tried it warm but the package suggests its good for that, and I have no doubt it wouldn’t be wonderful and smell great when served a bit warmed up. They recommend garnishing it with some fresh diced apple. I tried it with fresh apples and its even better with them. Also with dried cranberries, they match quite well.

So I give this granola a big RAVE and suggest its worth trying while you see it. A 12oz package is $3.49. The bag is resealable to keep it fresh and crunchy as long as possible. You might even buy a couple of bags while you can get keep a few in the pantry for the “off-season”. They should carry this year-round.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/caramel-apple-flavored-granola

RAVE


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