TJ’s Old Fashioned CINNAMON GRAHAM CRACKERS


These are so good.

I loved graham crackers as a kid and these kind of remind me of the graham crackers we used to eat which were probably Nabisco’s. Except for one thing. These are WAY BETTER! These are a big improvement on Nabisco grahams. TJ’s grahams are thicker, heartier, and have a bigger cinnamon flavor. We both tasted these and immediately gave a big thumbs up. I think of these as “gourmet graham crackers for adults” – though the kids will like them too. They were delicious with milk, tea and coffee, they went great with some ice cream, and of course were great just on their own.

I will buy these again for sure. Trader Joe’s Old Fashioned Cinnamon Graham Crackers: $3.99 for a 1 lb box.

Trader Joe’s Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes


Trader Joe’s has a new seasoning: Dried Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes.

From what I understand in New Mexico “Hatch Chiles” are everywhere, in both fresh and dried form, and consumed by everyone, the only thing being if you are a “green or red” chile person. Some time back, I recall seeing Trader Joe’s selling bags of fresh Hatch Chiles. I was pretty surprised. I can tell you in NYC, seeing fresh New Mexican Hatch Chile’s is rare. I would think only the most gourmet of gourmet shops would carry them. That must have been a one-off as I haven’t seen the fresh ones again at TJ’s and I assume TJ’s has decided it’s more practical to sell Hatch Chiles in a dried form. So there is yet one more addition to their great line of all kinds of seasonings and spices. The bottle of dried flaked chiles has both red and green chiles and its good! The report is these are not spicy hot but have lots of flavor. Try adding this chile flakes to burgers of ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken, impossible burgers, to tacos, stews, tomato based dishes, pasta, pizza, marinate chicken breasts (or tofu for that matter). Add some to marinades and sauces. Try some on eggs or avocado toast. A 1.9 oz jar is $3.99. Yes it’s a little expensive for a bottle of spices but you can add just a teaspoon and get a lot of flavor, plus you don’t have to go all the way to Santa Fe to get a fix of Hatch Chiles and the flavor of New Mexico.

If this sounds interesting I would grab a bottle if you see it, as who knows if this product will be around forever or it’s a one off like the bags of fresh Hatch chiles.

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.”

Trader Joe’s recipe idea: Smoked Salmon on Potato Pancakes


Hardly a “recipe” just putting out an idea how putting two or three TJ products together is any easy way to come up with something good.

For New Year’s Eve I had the idea for a “Russian inspired” thing: Smoked Salmon with Potato Pancakes – instead of blinis. The combo turned out just as delicious as I hoped and we really enjoyed these as a super easy special holiday meal – however you can make them any old day!

I took a package of Trader Joe’s Latkes / Potato Pancakes and Smoked Salmon and OK instead of sour cream I actually used Greek yogurt to save a few calories. Of course a Russian would use lots of Sour Cream, calories be damned, plus fresh dill. To put the dish together all I had to do to was cook the frozen Potato Pancakes till crispy in an frying pan, then topped them with a good amount of smoked salmon and topped that with a spoon of Greek yogurt. Better with sour cream sure, up to you. Sprinkle some fresh dill on if possible plus a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Voila, it took about 5 minutes until they were ready to serve as a dinner with salad and roasted beets on the side. Easy as pie to “make” and really yummy, so try this if it sounds good to you. You could make this as an appetizer for a few guests in minutes and make a big splash with almost no work except assembling the ingredients. Now I was hardly the only one shopping thinking about Smoked Salmon early afternoon of New Years Eve. Trade Joe’s whole section with smoked salmon was completely sold out except for a few packs of this Nova Salmon! The Nova was a wee bit saltier than some other versions they sell, but as fine with the creamy sour cream / yogurt as it it all balanced out. The next time I make these I will probably opt for the Everything Salmon.

Trader Joe’s (frozen) Potato Pancakes Latkes are $2.69 for 10 little pancakes. I think the Nova was about $9 for 8 oz package.

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

Trader Joe’s PESTO ROSSO (Red Tomato Pesto)


PESTO ROSSO – “Red, tomato-based pesto sauce, rich umami flavor, including Parmesan and cashew nuts”.

Trader Joe’s recent addition, PESTO ROSSO, is kind of interesting. “Rosso” mean “red” in Italian. Now one usually thinks of pesto as the green Pesto Genovese which is made from basil leaves, (pine) nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Trader Joe’s Pesto Rosso is a red version made from tomatoes, (cashew) nuts, and Parmesan, which is a Southern Italian pesto. I got a jar to check out. I made a pasta dish with it and the dish turned out quite tasty. So TJ’s Pesto Rosso is pretty good too, Like the other jarred TJ green pesto if you fix it up a bit it will better. In this case, some fresh garlic, maybe some chopped up TJ’s Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, and naturally a generous amount of freshly grated cheese (Parmesan, Pecorino, Rosemary Asiago or Canestrato Pepato. Extra Virgin olive oil at the end is a must, as they made this with bland sunflower oil to keep the cost down of course.

USAGE: Cook your pasta two minutes less than al dente, drain it (saving some pasta water). Add the pasta to a pan with the Pesto Rosso and finish cooking the pasta adding a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water as needed. Cook about another two minutes until the pasta becomes al dente and nicely coated with sauce. I added some fresh garlic. I also added a tablespoon of Tomato Paste (optional) to intensify the tomato and umami flavors even more. When ready, plate it up and drizzle with good EVOO and a nice sprinkle of freshly grated cheese on top. Fresh or dried basil on top would be nice if you have it.

Now one can use the Pesto Rosso in other ways besides pasta. You can spread it on fresh or lightly toasted bread or a baguette for a kind of bruschetta, again with maybe a few additions (a little olive oil, fresh black pepper and some Black Garlic…. or a little on some crackers topped with a slice of Rosemary Asiago cheese. Pizza? That might be good. So get creative.

Pesto Rosso is worth checking out, and I love yet another convenient fast pantry item to have on hand in the cupboard for those times when “there’s nothing to eat in the house”. The 6.7 oz jar is $2.49. You can get some more ideas about Pesto Rosso from the link below plus even a recipe to make some yourself!

TRADER JOE’S says

Our Pesto Genovese has long been a customer favorite. While this style of pesto comes from Genoa our Trader Joe’s Pesto Rosso brings the tradition of red, Sicilian pesto to our grocery shelves.

Our Italian supplier uses tomatoes as the foundation, with sunflower oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and some basil—though not as much basil as one would find in green pesto. Pine nuts, typical of Genoese pesto, are exchanged for cashews in our Pesto Rosso. Carrot purée pumps up the red-orange color, while also adding some subtle sweetness.

Pesto Rosso has a saucy, spreadable texture that is great for topping a toasted baguette, or a homemade pizza, or even a French bread easy pizza. Use some spoonfuls to enhance the flavor of your minestrone, or vegetable soup. Of course tossing some in with your favorite hot pasta is a must.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/pesto-rosso-068135

INGREDIENTS include: Tomatoes, sunflower oil, tomato powder, Parmesan cheese, carrot, cashews, salt, basil, balsamic vinegar, garlic)

Trader Joe’s STONE GROUND GRITS


“There are grits and then there are stone ground grits.”

Up here in the Yankee North of NYC, most of us are probably not as familiar with grits as folks in the South are. I tried these Trader Joe’s Stone Ground Grits and guess what? This damn Yankee loves me some Grits! Maybe its not such a surprise as I have always enjoyed and made Italian Polenta, and let’s face it grits are almost the American version of polenta, right? OK not exactly as grits use a different kind of corn.

Anyway these TJ’s stone ground grits are much better than commercially mass produced grits you see at the supermarket kind which are not stone ground. Stone Ground Grits are milled from the whole kernel of corn including the healthy tasty germ. They have a coarse, varied texture, as you can see in the picture and have more corn flavor than the supermarket kind. Think of these as “gourmet grits”. Grits take about 25-30 minutes to cook, stirring them every 5 minutes or so. You can just follow the recipe on the package and you will get good grits. I like to cook them using more milk (half milk/half water) which makes them even creamier. Shredded cheddar cheese at the end makes them even better if you like them savory (Unexpected Cheddar perhaps!? Oh yeah). I like to use grits as the Base for a dish, such as the base for sautéed GREENS or especially the base for SHRIMP AND GRITS, which is terrific and typically Southern. You can even do it a super simple version of Shrimp and Grits: just grill up some red shrimp with lots of seasoning and serve them on top of cheesy grits with the pan juices. Yum!

Cook grits low and slow in a thick bottomed pan and stir them often so the bottom doesn’t burn. They may be even better with another 10-15 mins of cooking (ie 40-45 minutes total). If they get too thick, just add a little more water. TJ’s Stone Ground Grits are $2.29. Grits are GLUTEN FREE of course.

TIP: Double up the recipe when you make some grits; then you have leftovers which you can use to make pan fried grits, kind of the way you might make pan fried polenta, which I just love.

Here’s a few recipes for shrimp and grits:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lemon-garlic-shrimp-and-grits-recipe-1973610

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/the-best-shrimp-and-grits-7448205

TJ’s JAPCHAE Korean Glass Noodles with Vegetables


Trader Joe’s Frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables stir fry

I had read about this new TJ Korean offering. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I’ve been waiting for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our store here. When I made it I was pretty impressed. Indeed it is good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it the seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” that she approved it’s taste as authentically Korean. Package says it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato called glass or cellophane noodles. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a very tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to heat and eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. It went with our dinner of potsticker dumplings (which were a great combo together!) We really enjoyed the dumplings and noodle dish together with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. You can improve the taste with an extra dash of toasted sesame oil. This dish is not spicy, so you can add something if you want spicy. One can “beef this up” by adding some protein to the noodles and veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Of course you could add or top this when serving with grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you.

We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: SODIUM CONTENT (Salt)! If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

TJ’s CANESTRATO PEPATO (Sardinian Cheese with Peppercorns )


Trader Joe’s CANESTRATO PEPATO Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Cheese with Black Peppercorns

I discovered this terrific cheese not too long ago in Trader Joe’s cheese section, and it’s become one of our favorite cheeses they sell. It’s fantastic and we adore it. “Pepato” refers to the cheese being infused with whole black peppercorns, as you can see in the pic. It’s produced in Sardinia, Italy by “an award winning cheese maker” ; The combination of peppercorns and a great sheep’s milk cheese is super. Up till seeing this I don’t think I ever encountered a cheese having whole peppercorns embedded in the cheese when they make it. It’s quite an interesting sheep’s milk semi-hard cheese that is both terrific grated onto pasta or just eaten on it’s own, cut into very thin slices. served with good bread or crackers. If you put this on a cheese board you will get comments. A piece is around $4-5 (its $12/lb)

Great Stuff! You can put this on your Cacio e Pepe dishes! Or even make it from scratch with this.

Trader Joe’s FRENCH APPLE TART


My wife picked up one of these tarts the other day at Trader Joe’s, and I’ve got to say I was pretty impressed just looking at it. This looks like something that camew from an upscale bakery and I would imagine might cost about $15 or more. At TJ’s it’s $7.99. Wow. But does it taste as good as it looks? OMG, yes. It’s delicious! It tastes as good as it looks like it was made in an upscale bakery. There are a ton of sliced apples that stil look like apples, not some mushy canned apple pie filling loaded with cornstarch that came from a can that even some store bought apple pies have in them. The apples in this tart still have a bit of texture, and it’s not overly sweet, nor overly thickened. The taste is just the way it looks like it is, apples. You can see the quality of the baking. We found this tart to be absolutely delicious especially when we served it, paired up with a spoon of French Vanilla ice cream, a match made in heaven. The crust is perfect too.

If you served this to guests, I’m sure you will get a ton of compliments and questions about where you bought it. Or even “did you make this?”

This is seriously good!

TRADER JOE’S FRENCH APPLE TART – $7.90 for a 1 lb, 4 oz tart

TJ Christmas MARZIPAN STOLLEN Cake


This is a Seasonal item that will be in stores for a limited time !

Trader Joe’s is selling these German traditional Marzipan Stollen at the moment (post Thanksgiving / Holiday season). Stollen are a traditional holiday German cake filled with dried fruits and marzipan. These are Made In Germany by “KuchenMeister”, the same brand TJ’s has carried in years past. They are pretty good, loaded with raisins and candied orange and lemon peel and are completly covered with powdered sugar., which looks like snow. So they look nice and Christmas-y. There is a decent amount of soft tastyyellow marzipan in the center of the cake (I cut the end so you don’t see it, as it starts a few slices in). The cake was pretty tasty served with coffee and tea. For $3.99, this is a good buy. I’ve bought them from specialty stores, and they were about $15-20. Of course those were loaded with butter, and this cheaper one is doesn’t list butter which is where they cut some costs. I once bought one for $20 from a special German style bakery and when I tasted it could not help thinking it was not worth 4 times the price of this cheap one, which does have a fair amount of marzipan and lots of dried fruits and frankly for just four bucks it’s not bad especially if you warm it up before serving. If you find these, I’d say try one as they are perfect for the holidays and a nice thing to give friends and neighbors. That is if you can find them, they are only there for a month or two around Thanksgiving/Xmas.

“KuchenMeister MarzipanStollen – A German sweet fruit filled bread that makes a great gift for friends and neighbors

https://www.kuchenmeister.de/en/productDetail/articleId/EP07110/

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