TJ’s TZATZIKI Greek Dip


Trader Joe’s TZATZIKI Creamy Garlic Cucumber Sauce / Dip

Tzatziki is a delicious creamy Greek dip / sauce traditionally made with greek yogurt, cucumbers, lemon, and a ton of garlic. Unless you are lucky enough to have a Greek Yaya (grandma) who makes homemade Tzatziki for you to take home, Trader Joe’s version is perhaps the next best thing. TJ’s version is quite good. I tried it and would buy it again. Tzatziki is a great sauce to have when you make chicken Shawarma or anything grilled, it would be great served even with grilled veggies. It can be served as a dip or can even be used as a salad dressing with some more lemon and olive oil. TJ’s Tzatziki has the first ingredient listed as cucumber, and you can really see this even in the pictures here. This gives it a very little crunchiness. TJ’s version next lists kefir cheese and sour cream (maybe instead of yogurt?) A bit different than if you made it yourself. I does have a bit of dill which I like. I got it for when I was thinking of making Shawarma which I served on top of TJ’s Garlic Naan and it was the perfect sauce for that. Its $3.49 for a 12 oz container.

Want to make Tzatziki yourself? Here’s a link to recipe if you want to try your hand

https://cookieandkate.com/how-to-make-tzatziki/

TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPER grinder


This may seem ho-hum because we are so used to seeing it by now but come on, let’s admit these spices sold in built in grinders are one of the greatest product innovations in history. I’m serious. Since all spices taste best freshly ground, it’s a huge plus that you can buy not just peppercorns but a number of spices and spice blends in these plastic grinders that TJ sells. I particularly am fond of TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPER. It’s especially nice since its a blend of 3 peppercorns from Brazil, India and Malaysia. Peppercorns have gone up and I think this used to sell for $1.99 and now $2.29. Its the same price as a tin TJ sells with (pre)ground pepper so of course this is better.

TJ’s CRISPY COOKIES with Belgian chocolate


Trader Joe’s CRISPY COOKIES filled with Belgian chocolate

RAVE

There are my new favorite cookies. They are just delicious, and frankly very addictive. I can tell you the whole box went quite fast chez nous ! Well, they are small and there are only 18 in a box. Though TJ’s CRISPY COOKIES cookies don’t have butter listed in the ingredients they taste very good and are delicious due to the fact they are so loaded with a thick layer of nice Belgian chocolate in the middle. The outside cookie complements the chocolate well and as you can see, the chocolate layer is as thick as the cookie. These cost $2.49 a box. I may have to buy 2 boxes at a time in future.

And hide one for myself!

Trader Joe’s JUST BEETS 100% juice


Trader Joe’s JUST BEETS 100% juice with a splash of lemon

“Naturally sweetened with a subtle earthiness” As the name says this is just “100% pure beet juice pressed from whole beets (with just a hint of lemon from concentrate)”. Trader Joe’s carries this in the refrigerated drinks section, so it’s fresh, kind of what you might get if you went into one of those fancy juice bars, except this was not made right in front of you by a juice guy throwing beets into a juicer. Still I think this tastes fresh enough that if you put it in a carryout cup and gave it to me and told me it was from a juice bar I would probably have no reason to think otherwise 😉 Though it has a pretty long “good by” date, I think it tastes best within 3-5 days after you open the bottle, so I would drink it in a few days. Personally I would not down the whole thing in one sitting but rather a glass at a time. You get 20 oz for $3.99., which is probably less than a fancy juice bar would charge. I love beets. I like this juice. Healthy and good for you.

RAVE

TJ’s RED CHILI SCALLOPED CRACKERS


Trader Joe’s RED CHILE SCALLOPED CRACKERS

These are one of my favorite crackers TJ sells. Don’t be scared off trying these if you don’t get along with spicy, they have just a bare hint of spiciness. In fact these are delicious all around crackers. The are equally delicious on their own or with soup and especially are great and compliment anything you put on them: cheese, smoked fish, ham, salumi, any kind of dip, guac… They make an excellent base for hors d’oeuvres and would be great to add to a cheese or charcuterie board. A package is $1.99. Here’s what TJ has to say about them:

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/063277

TJ’s Smoked Ahi Tuna


Trader Joe’s Sesame Crusted Smoked Ahi Tuna

I am crazy for most any smoked fish. Some nice smoked salmon on a bagel with a shmear of cream cheese is my idea of Heaven, or at least a heavenly Sunday breakfast. I also love Ahi Tuna, so when I saw this new product, Smoked Ahi Tuna it immediately said to me, “give this a try”.

TJ’s Sesame Crusted Smoked Ahi Tuna is very, very lightly smoked. As in barely smoked. Unlike most smoked salmon, where you open up the package and really get a smoked fish aroma this is so light that its a mere hint. So to be honest, while I found TJ’s smoked ahi tuna to be kind of tasty it’s not anything like smoked salmon or most any smoked fish I’ve had. Maybe people who don’t love smoked fish might like this as it’s not strong, its light. It has a light pink color and looks rather pretty. There are some white thread-like areas (more on this later). It was cut a bit unevenly so it was a little thick in some places and thin in others. I found the thinner cut tuna tasted better than thicker areas. Cutting smoked fish by hand is an art.

One thing I didn’t like was some white thread-like areas, some of which when you ate them were tough and inedible. Like sinew.,,, if tuna have sinew? You can see the white areas in the package. So I carefully cut the densest of the white areas away before serving, which was a pain. These tough white areas seem like a lack of quality of the tuna and its preparation.

I served it by putting the smoked Ahi on top of halves of TJ’s Red Chile scalloped crackers (LOVE THESE!) spread with softened cream cheese mixed with a pinch of greek yogurt and lemon, and topped it all off with fresh dill. This actually did make a nice combination and a nice appetizer for us. Still our guests and I couldn’t help thinking it would have been better made with smoked salmon. So would I buy this again? Frankly I doubt it as it was not terribly special, was not great quality and I think the smoked salmon TJ sells is better for the same price. However if are not big on smoked fish and/or want to try something different for all I know you just might like this as it’s barely smoked fish. A package is $6.

TJ MEYER LEMON COOKIE THINS


Trader Joe’s Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins

Very, very thin cookies with a wonderful lemon flavor. I’ve eaten them with coffee, tea, and milk. They go perfectly with anything. They are so thin, they go down fast and easy, and I found myself reaching for “just one more”. The package says “9 cookies is one serving” (no problem!) These cookies would look elegant for guests coming for tea or coffee. Whenever we have guests again, that is. About $3. Worth trying.

RAVE

TJ’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS


Trader Joe’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS ($2.69, 17 oz package of 10)

There are some traditional regional food divides in some countries. Traditionally in Mexico in the North they lean towards using flour tortillas (Tortillas de Harina) while Southern Mexico traditionally prefers tortillas made from corn (Tortillas de maiz). I generally prefer corn tortillas as they’re more flavorful and have a chewier texture when cooked. However sometimes I do buy flour tortillas as they have certain qualities that make them useful for some things. For one thing, flour tortillas are softer and more pliable so easier to fold. They are usually bigger too so can hold more ingredients inside. They can be used for Quesadillas and Burritos. They can also be used for “wrap type” sandwiches, etc. If you want flour tortillas, I think the Trader Joe’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS are an interesting choice as they bring a bit of flavor to the party. These Habanero/Lime flour tortillas have a bit of heat in them from habanero chiles, plus a bit of lime flavor. They also have a nice color with a reddish orange tint from anatto.

Last night, I made Quesadillas for dinner last night with the Habanero tortillas. Inside: Pepper Jack Cheese, Soy Chorizo and TJ’s Refried Salsa Pinto Beans (which I gussied up*). Topping of avocado, tomato, more cheese and Green Dragon SauceRefritos on the side…. They were really tasty!

  • TIP – Out of the can, TJ’s Salsa Pinto Refried Beans are really boring. They need a little work if you want them to have some taste. I add olive oil, oregano, cumin, chile powder and a little Green Dragon or Zhoug. Cuban Style Spice Blend works great with these or any beans. Warm frijole refritos over low heat, stirring often so the bottom doesnt burn. Some cheese on top is nice!

TJ’s GINGER HAND CREAM


RAVE

Trader Joe’s Ginger Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream ($4.99)

The package caught my eye. Catchy design. “Ginger? Hand cream?” That’s an interesting combination. I bought some for for my wife, a big hand cream user, to try. I asked her opinion of it….

“Fantastic product”

I put some on and sure enough, it smells great with a really nice clean ginger smell from “ginger root extract” (ZINGIBER OFFICINALE). It’s got a few recognizable ingredients (to me) the first two being shea butter and coconut oil. Personally what got my attention originally is the clean simply graphic design which is brave as they went with a text wraparound on the box with only half of “Ginger” hanging off the top of the box in a long narrow San Serif type. Notice how your brain just completes the word?

I’m going with my wife’s 2 word review, a “fantastic product” (and she’s tough so that’s a double RAVE) a reasonable price, smells great, and works great to moisturize your skin. What’s not to like? At a big name beauty shop this would cost double the price. Another good health and beauty product from Trader Joe’s. Worth trying.

gingerhandcream2

Trader Joe’s SHAKSHUKA STARTER (bring your eggs)


RAVE

Ever hear of SHAKSHUKA ? It’s become kind of cool and trendy here. Shakshuka is a popular dish in the Middle East and North Africa, consisting of peppers and onions in a spicy tomato sauce in which eggs are poached in the sauce. Eaten with fresh pita / bread, it can be breakfast, lunch or dinner! It’s delicious and one currently see’s it in trendy restaurants around the US.

In this version found in TJ’s frozen section they have come up with a “Shakshuka starter” kit meaning this is the base sauce to which you add at an egg or two to finish it, and possibly some other things optionally. I took the package, ran some hot water on the bottom to loosen it up and then slid the contents into a pan (personally I like to cook with fire, I’m not big on microwave). I used my trusty, small black cast iron pan. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover the pan and cook for about 6-7 minutes till nice and bubbly. When ready, make indentations with the back of a spoon, and carefully slide the eggs into the depressions. If you are talented, you can crack your eggs directly in. If not crack them into a little cup first, then pour them in. Whatever you do try not to break the yolks. The runny yolks will be important to the final dish. Put a cover back on the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Ideally we want the yolks runny. Well at least I do. I also added some cubes of Feta Cheese sprinkled around the top before covering the pan, which adds some great flavor.

Take off your cover and tuck in. You can bring the pan to the table and eat it right out of the pan – typical for shakshuka – or carefully spoon it with the whole egg onto a plate. Drizzle on some very good virgin olive oil, maybe add some chopped parsley, and break the yolks so they run all over. Mop up the eggs and sauce with a spoon and lots of bread like Pita bread (or Naan). This amount is only 9 oz, so say one portion. So you should probably make one for each person. YUMMY!

OPTIONS: you can sauté up some more red peppers and garlic in olive oil if you like and add them in. As noted, cheese such as FETA is very nice addition too. Something spicy like HARISSA, BOMBA, OR GREEN DRAGON sauce to give it some kick is a must IMO. This is not spicy as is. It’s only $1.99. Worth a try.

Here’s a NY Times piece on Shakshuka by Melissa Clark with her recipe (may need registration to read)

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