Trader Joe’s DILL PICKLE MUSTARD


NEW PRODUCT: Trader Joe’s DILL PICKLE MUSTARD. This is one of those Trader Joe’s products which once you try, you say to yourself “This is something I didn’t even know I needed but now that I know how good this is, I want this in my life from now on”. I saw this the other day in the NEW PRODUCTS section. Like so many Trader Joe items, you see it and are instantly curious to try it and see if it’s any good. Well guess what? TJ’s DILL PICKLE MUSTARD is really good. It tastes exactly what the name says it is, mustard with dill pickles. It’s a very good classic American yellow mustard with dill pickles in it and a lot of dill flavor. Hitting two good tastes combinations at the same time. If you like dill pickles you will probably love this as much as I did. I put it on a hot dog and it was so yummy. What if I put this on a cheese sandwich? What about on a melted cheese sandwich? I can even see mixing a little bit of this into mashed potatoes too…?

$1.99 (9 oz bottle) I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s “Azmari BUUNNI Coffee”


This blend combines Ethiopian delicacy with Latin verve…Notes of chocolate, nougat, cherry”

The lovely and striking graphic design of this bag of Buunii AZMARI coffee really caught my eye when I saw it recently in Trader Joe’s NEW PRODUCTS section. Strong colors and stylized images that say “farm”. The coffee inside is as good as the outside – this is an excellent coffee in a whole bean medium roast. In this case, an actual light-medium roast as sometimes people complain Trader Joe’s medium roasts are a shade darker. The coffee is from a smallish coffee outfit, BUUNNI COFFEE which I am glad to learn is being sold under it’s own brand at Trader Joe’s locations in the North East. The packaging for Trader Joe’s looks different from their other packaging so likely it was specially made for TJ’s – and this design really works as It instantly caught my eye!

Opening the convenient air-tight zip closure on the bag (more good design) Wheb I ground some coffee, the aroma smelled wonderful, and kind of had as they said “notes of chocolate, nougat, cherry…”. This coffee has a perfect mix of the best of “African” and “South American” coffee styles, for good reason, as that is exactly what this blend is composed of: two Ethiopian single origin coffees mixed with a coffee from Honduras. It has that “winy” sharp African coffee note which that is then balanced by the Latin American smoother notes of the single origin Honduran coffee. An excellent blend, roasted perfectly to bring out the best of this coffee. Trader Joe’s is selling it for $9.99 a bag (12 oz). I would buy this again, gladly and hope you give it a try; I don’t think anyone wouldn’t like this. Very impressive “high end” coffee for a good price. Well worth checking out if you see it and are a coffee lover!

https://www.thespruceeats.com/ethiopian-coffee-culture-765829

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC CHIA SEEDS


Trader Joe’s Organic Chia Seeds

If you aren’t eating chia seeds by now, you probably should be eating them. You’ve no doubt heard about what a superfood chia seeds are and all it’s health benefits. These tiny powerhouse seeds are packed with protein and Omega 3’s and other goodies. When soaked in liquid the seeds swell up into a gel. So they are great for adding to cereal, smoothies, yogurt or pancakes. They can be used as a thickener. The seeds are really tiny so be careful as they have a tendency to go everywhere. Rather than pouring them out of the bag, I keep them in a jar so I can pour them or scoopI eat a huge tablespoon every day mixed into oat milk and kefir. They take a little while to swell up and absorb liquid so I wait 10 minutes or so. A 12 oz bag of them now sells for $5.49. Trader Joe’s sells a number of superfood seed items, chia seeds, flax seeds, a mix of chia and flax, and hemp seeds. All of these tiny superfood seeds are good for you and things you can incorporate into your daily diet, especially I think at breakfast when you can eat a few tablespoons easily in cereal, yogurts, and smoothies.

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-chia-seeds

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 High-Oleic ORGANIC SUNFLOWER OIL


Trader Joe’s High-Oleic Organic Sunflower Oil

I use a lot of olive oil to cook with. However there are times when you want or a recipe specifies, to use a “neutral flavored oil”. Meaning you should not use olive oil which has its own flavor, in which case I use TJ’s Organic Sunflower Oil. It’s a very good neutral vegetable oil, in fact it’s a fine all-around cooking oil. This is the oil I use basically whenever I am not using olive oil. For example it’s what I use when I am making a Chinese or other Asian dishes which always specify a “neutral” vegetable oil that won’t affect the other flavors in the dish. And Sunflower Oil is good for high heat which is good for Wok cooking. I had to look up “high-oleic” but that this sunflower oil is High Oleic means its quite healthy too, maybe even more than olive oil. And this oil is ORGANIC. TJ’s Organic Sunflower Oil is quite reasonable at $3.99 for a 33.8 oz bottle, which is of course far less than olive oil. So you probably want this as your “other” oil, like me. I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s NEW ZEALAND GRASS FED SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE


This is a Trader Joe’s STAFF PICK favorite and I completely agree. TJ’s New Zealand Grass Fed Cheddar is an excellent cheese, a sharp cheddar aged from 6-12 months. This cheese is one of my favorite cheeses that TJ’s carries, and I buy this almost every time I go to Trader Joe’s as it goes rather quickly in our house. This cheddar has just the right amount of tang if you are a fan of a sharp cheddar, good for both adults and kids. The other standout cheddars at TJ’s are the CABOT VERMONT EXTRA SHARP and of course UNEXPECTED CHEDDAR. You can not go wrong with any of these cheddar cheeses but I do like the fact that this New Zealand cheese is “grass fed” meaning from milk from those contended Kiwi cows munching away on grass if they anything like the ones in this picture! This cheese is great by itself, on a cracker, in a sandwich, with fruit, and it’s superb melted. Grilled cheese sandwich, omelets, in a pizza, tacos… it’s especially fantastic melted. You can just give me a Granny Smith apple, a hunk of this cheese and a knife and I will be almost as contented as one of the Kiwi cows.

Update: It used to be 5.99 / lb but unfortunately the price has gone up 50 cents to $6.49 / lb (April 2022)

Trader Joe’s EGGPLANT GARLIC SPREAD


“A traditional Bulgarian recipe that pairs well with pita or flatbread. Use as a dip or as a spread on sandwiches, toast or crackers”.

Ingredients: Eggplant, red peppers, water, sunflower oil, tomato paste, sugar, sea salt, dried garlic….

This spread, which is made in Bulgaria, is absolutely delicious. I tried this as a vegetarian spread with some warm flatbread and it was a combo made in Heaven. Also I can also easily see this used in other ways besides being just a dip or spread. Serve this on top or on the side of some grilled chicken, or fish for a delicious accompaniment. Or you might use this with pasta. Add a few spoons to a pasta dish (or gnocchi or polenta) along with lots of garlic and olive oil. Inside an omelet? Sure thing. Now as yummy as it is, personally I would like more garlic. I have a feeling if your (Bulgarian) grandma made this spread it might actually have enough garlic in it to kill vampires. My late Jewish grandma (Romanian by birth) made a delicious roasted eggplant spread that had a ton – and I mean a ton – of garlic in it and it was fantastic. So just to see if more garlic would be a good addition with TJ’s spread, I mashed up a few cloves of garlic, mixed it in to this spread and let it sit for an hour to develop. OMG, it was now even better – if you love garlic of course. So I suggest doing that, and adding a slug of good olive oil too and mixing it all in. Now this spread tastes homemade. It will be better, but even just out of the jar, this spread is delicious, kind of an “Eggplant Caviar”. This spread is something I can easily see putting out for guests who suddenly showed up, along with some crackers, which would take all of 2 minutes of work, and would look impressive and have them asking you “yum, this dip is delicious; did you make it?”. If you put a few cloves of garlic in it, I would tell them with a straight face, yes I did.

$2.69 for a 12 oz jar. I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s 10-minute FARRO (whole grain)


Farro is an Italian word basically meaning “ancient grain”, referring to ancient wheat varieties (emmer, spelt, or einkorn) forerunner grains to modern wheat. Farro is a very healthy food for you to eat, extremely nutritious and an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. Its a much healthier alternative to some other refined grains for example white rice. If you’ve never had farro served on the side of a fancy Italian restaurant ( – it’s gotten a bit trendy – you should try this. You will probably like it’s very nutty taste. It’s delicious on its own even with just some butter, salt and pepper. You can cook it in water, or broth which will of course make it even tastier. This is a great and healthy product which we really like to make either as a side dish or even part of the main, say mixed with other veggies, maybe as the base of a protein bowl. A recipe for “Farro with Sausage & Apples” is written on the bag. Whole grains like this normally take about 45 minutes to cook however TJ’s “10 Minute Farro” obviously cooks faster in only about 10-15 minutes. I am guessing its been partially cooked. Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro sells for $1.79 for an 8.8 oz. bag. I buy this stuff all the time. Great for the pantry.

Trader Joe’s ROASTED GARLIC MARINARA SAUCE


I tried Trader Joe’s “ROASTED GARLIC MARINARA” and found it to be quite good. It has what you might call a slow cooked taste, and its very tasty. The flavors in the sauce blend well together, the garlic and the spices well balanced. I don’t like overly homogenized smooth tomato sauces, I prefer a little chunkiness in them. This stuff has some chunkiness, all of which makes this sauce taste kind of “homemade”. I made a pasta dish using TJ’s new (really good) ORGANIC BUCATINI (great!) and the dish turned out quite good, the bucatini perfectly absorbing the sauce. OK I had added ground beef which made this into a meat sauce but even without anything extra, this marinara is very flavorful.

TJ’s ROASTED GARLIC MARINARA is $1.99 (24 oz jar) I would buy this again.

One thing though – the jar used to be 26 oz – inflation shrinkage!)

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC POLENTA


Trader Joe’s ORGANIC POLENTA; cooked; ready to heat and serve. Gluten Free.

Ingredients: Water, Organic Corn Meal, Salt

Just in case you are not familiar with Polenta, it’s simple – and delicious. Polenta is just cooked coarsely ground corn meal. This Organic version from Trader Joe’s comes in a tube pre-cooked. Slice the polenta into 1/2″ slices which you grill up into crispy fried polenta. Delicious – and cheap! This is why polenta has been a staple of Italian “cucina povera” for centuries, very similar of course to “grits” here. Polenta is inexpensive, healthy, gluten free, and vegetarian.

TJ’s tube of cooked polenta is convenient, shelf stable, and only $1.99. One tube can easily make a dinner for two people. We love it as an alternative to pasta. I like to pan fry it and recommend that as the best way to serve this. The package also says you can bake it. However please don’t even think about microwaving as it also says on the package; it has to be crispy, as crispy as possible. If cooked till crispy fried polenta gets a really nice chewy “meaty” texture.

As shown in the first picture is how I made the polenta into dinner recently for us. I sautéed the slices in olive oil plus a little butter to help it brown better, for maybe 10 minutes a side – note, this is double the recommended time of 4-5 minutes on the package. Trust me, you want this very crispy, golden brown and delicious. I flipped the first side over and put a bit of mozzarella on top of the slices, which melted as the other side cooked. When it was ready to serve, I plated it and spooned over tomato sauce, in this case TJ’s Roasted Garlic Marinara sauce which is quite good by the way. I grated some extra cheese, Asiago all over. This made for a delicious Italian dinner along with a little salad and crusty bread. Dinner for two for about $4 bucks.

I always like to keep one of these shelf stable packages of TJ’s polenta in the pantry as it can make an easy, fast dinner for those times when you have “nothing” to eat in the house. A tube of this and a jar of sauce and you have dinner in 10 minutes. Not to mention Polenta’s perfect for Meatless Monday’s. Would I but this again? Yes I buy this regularly, its an excellent cheap TJ product and a great staple to have in your pantry.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/fried-polenta-5535085

PS DIY PAN FRIED GRITS – might be worth the little extra effort (cook the grits, let cool, cut into slices) not to mention even cheaper

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