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 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 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

Trader Joe’s CUBAN SPICE SEASONING BLEND


or to be more accurate as TJ’s calls it, Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend”

This CUBAN STYLE SPICE BLEND seasoning is a new TJ’s spice blend. It’s really good. This spice blend gives a nice Sabor Latino to almost anything.

TJ says it is inspired by the classic Cuban (Dominican / Puerto Rican) “mojo” which is a Caribbean sauce mixture that includes garlic, citrus (bitter orange or lime juice) oregano, and sometimes other things like cilantro and chiles. Mojo sauce is used both as a marinade and a sauce on the side for roasted chicken and pork. I used to eat “pollo a la brasa” like this (at El Malecon up near the GW bridge. Their rotisserie chicken is famous and amazing.) The little container of green sauce is their Mojo…. lots of cilantro, garlic and jalapeño)

If you’re interested in making MOJO SAUCE yourself sometime here’s one recipe I found online: MOJO (Saveur)

Back to this spice blend: I tried this on many different foods. It’s yummy. Interesting that they’ve managed to get the citrus acidity into a powder. Dried lime and lime oil? Aha! Thats how.

This is good and useful to jazz up many things. Try it as a rub on your poultry, meat or fish, or grilled tofu for that matter. Or grilled veggies. BEANS! Fo’ shure. I added it to black beans and it was outstanding making the beans from bland to yummy, adding much flavor. Try a little bit on/in your eggs. Put some in your next rice dish. I cooked rice with about a teaspoon thrown into the water and it was great. Sprinkle it on top of an avocado or avocado toast (yum!) or tacos, tostadas, quesadillas!

It was terrific for making grilled chicken breasts BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS – How To Cook Them Nice and Juicy!

Was equally great seasoning for sautéed (and poached) ARGENTINA RED SHRIMP! argentinian red shrimp

I sometimes add more real lemon or lime juice too with this, for even more citrus-y flavor! You will like this blend. Cuban Style Seasoning can jazz up lots of things that you will discover it works well with.

Its worth checking out for $1.99 for a jar.

PS – Ooo, this spice was excellent with SHRIMP (marinate 20 mins) Or any fish for that matter….

Trader Joe’s Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend is essentially a blend of garlic, lime oil, lime juice, onion powder, salt, and red pepper—plus bay leaves, coriander, cumin, cilantro, black pepper, oregano, cilantro, basil, lemon oil, marjoram, and parsley to round it out. It’s all the essential flavors you’d find in common Cuban cuisine, packaged in one little jar…

RAVE

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

TJ Plain whole milk GREEK YOGURT


RAVE

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 about a minute. Greek yogurt is thick, as it is strained yogurt containing less liquid than regular yogurt. You might say it can be though of as similar to and can be substituted for Sour Cream, or crema in Mexican cooking, or to creme fraiche in French cooking. You could use this anywhere Sour Cream would be used, or mayonnaise perhaps but this is lower in fat and calories. So I use greek yogurt to make creamy sauces or dressing by mixing it with another ingredient. It can be as simple as mixing greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Boom you have a creamy lemony yogurt sauce. Very Greek! This not only makes for a nice salad dressing but is also a nice sauce that would go with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add something else to it and you get even more mileage. Certainly fresh crushed garlic, will make it yet more Greek still. Or mix in some Green Dragon Sauce. Or some Yemeni Zhough. Or Sriracha, as the milkiness of the yogurt tames all of these spicy sauces and makes them smoother and creamy. Along with garlic, chopped parsley, or arugula, or spinach makes a nice 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 smaller.

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 instead of cream 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.

Envy Apples


I never heard of this apple before I saw them at Trader Joe’s. A hybrid developed in New Zealand, “Envy” apples are a hybrid of Royal Gala and Braeburn varieties. Both of those are excellent apples, and this hybrid, Envy, is well, just a terrific tasting apple. When I first tasted this Envy, my taste buds went pretty wild with “this must be one of the best apples I ever had”. Seriously this is just a great apple. Nice crunch, firm texture, sweet but with a hint of sour underneath? It’s a complex flavor, way more complex than just “sweet” like say a Honey Crisp apple or Red Delicious (yuck). Envy are a favorite pick of the Trader Joe’s crew, who I imagine taste everything they sell. I kind of trust those “crew picks”.

INFO

https://envyapple.com/en/about-envy#tab-1

These apples go great with just about everything. What about Envy with cheese? Yes, please. I knew they would match well with most any cheese, and frankly there is absolutely nothing better than to slice up these apples and put them on a plate with the Unexpected Cheddar. What a combo these make together. Seriously. Try either that or Cabot cheddar with these apples. I would imagine Brie would be great, or let’s face it any cheese you like. I love these just eaten out of hand on their own of course. I like them in the morning, diced up for my breakfast cereal. Your kids will love these paired up with some peanut butter. I know I do. Envy sell for $1.29 each. A bit more than the apples TJ sells for 79 cents but worth the little splurge every now and then. So if you haven’t ever tried these, try one for yourselves. You may get hooked on them. I know I have. I always buy one when I’m at TJ’s.

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!

Trader Joe’s WINTER WAKE UP TEA


So let me just start off with the comment that I really like this tea but frankly found the name a wee bit misleading. When I saw the words “Wake Up Tea”, I just assumed this will make a cup of strong, dark, kick-ass, rocket fuel (English/Irish) tea… A dark cuppa that really wakes you up in the morning. But when I brewed up a cup as you can see in the picture its not a very dark super strong tea. However when I tasted it I thought, oh this quite good! So I really like this tea but my take is kind of Trader Joe’s should have come up with a different name minus “wake up”. “Winter Wake Up Tea” is probably not something I would brew to wake me up in the morning. But other than that comment, Trader Joe’s has come up with an EXCELLENT TEA BLEND with great spice flavors that would satisfy me at any time of day, and makes me feel all nice and warm and cozy!

TJ’s Winter Wake Up Tea is a wonderfully balanced tasty spiced tea, a blend of black tea, cinnamon, orange peel, ginger and cloves. If it was called something a bit different without “wake up” in the name, I would have simply started the review with “A most wonderful spiced tea that will make you feel warm and toasty on a cold snowy winter’s eve, and will warm your heart and soul! Drink it in front of the fireplace and just relax….” Personally Mr. Joe, I would have named it something like, say… WINTER COZY TEA. or WINTER SPICE BLEND TEA* or something like that.

Brew this up and you get a very nice spiced tea that reminds me slightly of CONSTANT COMMENT tea – a famous spiced tea blend created back in 1945. My parents always had it in our cupboard, especially making an appearance when “company” came over, as it was kind of special and would get a “yum… whats this tea?” comment from our guests. Ah the good old days! This TJ tea make a lighter cup than Constant Comment, with less black tea prominent in the blend but probably more spices such as cinnamon, ginger, plus clove and orange peel. It even is has the slightest bit of sweetness naturally as an under-note from a bit of licorice, which possesses natural sweetness.

So will this wake you up like the Irish Breakfast tea which actually is a “wake up tea”? Myself, to wake up I need a strong cuppa like TJ’s excellent Irish Breakfast Tea, or a typical English tea like Typhoo Tea or the like. But still enjoy this Winter Tea for what it is – a quite lovely spiced tea full of flavor.

Aha, methinks, I’ve a great idea! What if I combined the two teas together?! I brewed both teas up together, and very much liked the resulting concoction. If you do you want something a bit darker and stronger but with lots of nice spice flavors, just take 2 cups of water, bring to a boil in a pot, and toss in a bag of this Winter Tea plus a bag of Irish Breakfast Tea. Let it brew for at least 5 minutes. The result is nice mix-up of both, a strong “cuppa” plus lots of warm spices and flavor, not terribly unlike Constant Comment, and which actually now is a Wake Up Tea that will perk you up on a cold winter’s morn.

*So Mr Trader Joe, should you borrow my ideas and rename this product “COZY WINTER TEA” you better at least send me a case of this stuff!

 

 

 

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