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 BUTTERMILK BRINED HALF CHICKEN


Trader Joe’s BUTTERMILK BRINED HALF CHICKEN

Gave this newish addition, “Buttermilk Brined 1/2 Chicken” a try as it sounded kind of interesting. I cooked the chicken by grilling it in my cast iron pan. “Exceptionally moist and juicy” as advertised? Frankly it was OK but I found the taste and texture nothing special. So my main question was given the premium price is it really worth $5/lb. for chicken Versus just buying bone-in chicken at Trader Joe’s (which is less than 1/2 the price) and fixing that up myself marinating it in buttermilk or yogurt, which takes minutes to make (though it does need marinate a few hours). TJ’s sells a whole 5 lb chicken for $1.99 a lb. or about $10-11 . Or get parts for $2-4/lb. This 1/2 chicken which was 1.5 lbs was clearly from a very small chicken (3 lbs?) So the puny leg here only had about 3 bites worth of meat on it – though the breast was fairly meaty. Plus it even came with the neck still on, something most people is just waste and will throw away (not me, I gave it to the cats!) So cooked there was not a ton of meat, for the money, and I doubt this 1/2 chicken will “serve two people?” as they suggest? Hah, barely. In sum, I think it would be half the cost to just buy chicken and if I wanted a buttermilk marinade, just do it myself. Actually I would more likely marinate the chicken in some Greek YOGURT (yogurt makes for very tender chicken) AND for flavor use a lot of spices, Indian style. Tumeric, Cumin, Garlic, Ajika. Now that would be make a way more interesting grilled chicken dish than how this pretty meh chicken turned out. Also, it may not be a fair comparision yet still I could not help thinking for I paid for this 1/2 chicken ($7.50) I could have picked up a whole rotisserie chicken (Costco?) which is tastier. So I probably will not buy TJ’s buttermilk brined chicken again. If I didn’t do the DIY in yogurt version, and just wanted “easy” and tasty I’d pick up something right next to this that I know is special: TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN which sells for a dollar more a pound than this, and as its boneless, has zero waste so more bang for the buck.

I learned since I wrote this review, that there’s a TikTok video recipe about this Trader Joe’s brined half chicken which went viral and sparked a lot of interest in this chicken. I watched the video. The cooking techniques she does look sound to me (salting to bring moisture to the surface, wiping that off, grilling the skin, and then roasting) however this should produce as good results with any marinated or brined chicken.

TJ says: https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/buttermilk-brined-half-chicken-073854

“Are you a seeking the secret to sensationally moist and juicy Chicken? Search no further, your quest is complete—it’s Buttermilk! This cultured dairy product makes a magnificent marinade, as the acidity in the Buttermilk will tenderize the chicken, allowing it to retain more of its juices when cooking…”

Great copy-writing however the product didn’t live up to this description in my opinion. Of course try it for yourself if you are interested. I would suggest however you season it up quite a bit. It’s pretty bland as-is.

TJ’s “When Life Gives You Lemons Make ICE CREAM”


Trader Joe’s new ice cream, “When Life Gives You Lemons Make ICE CREAM”, Lemon Ice Cream with a Lemon Swirl and Shortbread Cookie Bits is da bomb. This stuff seems to be flying off the shelves at the moment.

This new Trader Joe’s ice cream flavor is very original, unusual, and delicious. Sweet but a little tart. We used to get lemon ices as kids in the summertime which are really good. But this is lemon ICE CREAM, not ices so it tastes that much more amazing – plus it’s not “just lemon ice cream” it’s a kind of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream invention built on a Lemon Theme with yellow swirls in the ice cream which have even more sweet lemon flavors and then to top it all off, they put in these little pieces of buttery shortbread, so it has a bit of texture to it which make it now even more amazing. Now I would not even say I’m a huge fan of lemon ice cream, however when I first tasted this concoction I did a “wow is this good” double take – ‘cuz it is really really good plus it seems very original and unusual, again in one of those really good but simple Ben & Jerry’s ice cream concoctions. I went back to get it again. I go to the ice cream case and was so dissapointed. SOLD OUT! Not just that, only this flavor was sold out, there are a ton of ice creams on both sides of where this should be. So I am assuming word is out on this ice cream and everyone wants to try it, and for good reason, it’s a really terrific TJ’s product. It’s not cheap at $3.49 for a pint. However a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or Hagendaz or the like goes for way more than this. This WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS ice cream invention is a real treat which I think in the summer time it will seem even more heavenly, on a hot day.

Trader Joe’s OAT BEVERAGE (Refrigerated, 1/2 gallon)


Trader Joe’s Non-Dairy Oat Beverage (sold in the fridge with other milk, 1/2 gallon)

I usually buy the other TJ’s OAT MILK (sorry dairy farmers I meant “non-dairy oat beverage”) which I like a lot; specifically the quart shelf stable one. But I thought I should test and review this other “fresh” Oat Beverage (aka oat milk) they sell in a 1/2 gallon size in the refrigerated case with the other fresh milk drinks. For one thing this 1/2 gallon one comes out a little cheaper at $3.99 vs. the shelf stable quart which is $2.39 (or $4.58 for 2). This fridge oat milk tastes a little different than the shelf stable one, it’s a bit thicker (creamier?). I would guess the reason is if you examine the label on this one we can see it has Sunflower Oil as an ingredient, not to mention a good number of other ingredients, which probably account for the slightly creamier mouth feel. In contrast, the quart shelf stable Oat Beverage version (quart) contains ONLY 2 ingredients: water and hydrolyzed oats. You can compare the labels below. I like the “simpler” oat milk in the quart box despite the fact that it costs a little bit more (58 cents) for the same amount, plus I actually like that I don’t have to keep the shelf-stable quart one in the fridge until after I open them. We both prefer the taste of the non-fridge ones which is less thick. So I probably won’t buy this 1/2 gallon “fresh” version Oat Beverage again even though I do like that it has some “added vitamins”. It’s taste OK however I don’t need that slightly thicker taste and texture which is from I’m imagine trying to copy regular milk but adding extra ingredients, like oil and gums to thicken it and make it creamier. Anwway, you can try both versions of TJ’s oat milk and see which you prefer. BTW I do also buy regular whole (cow) milk too, for coffee, tea…and making my own yogurt(!) We should all buy dairy products to support dairy farmers as we need them!

TJ’s ‘fresh’ non-dairy oat beverage – INGREDIENTS: Water, Hydrolyzed Oats, Sunflower Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dipotassium Phospate, Sea Salt, Gellan Gum, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamins A, D, B and B12.

1/2 Gallon Refrigerated Oat Beverage (this one)

1 Qt Shelf Stable Oat Bev. (the other one) contains only water + oats

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

Trader Joe’s LATTEMIELE TEA COOKIES


Product of Italy

Nice little Milk and Honey cookies that are terrific and a great price. I’m calling them tea cookies as they are perfect with tea, or milk, or coffee, or pretty much anything. $2.49 a package. Very tasty. I would buy them again.

TJ’s VAULT No. 5 CAVE AGED CHEESE


If you love finding great new cheeses I think you will find this new cheese Trader Joe’s started carrying as outstanding as I did. It’s called “Vault No. 5 Cave Aged” cheese from the “Cellars at Jasper Hills”. You can probably tell just by looking at that funky rind, this is a “serious” farm produced cheese like cheese you might find in a “fromagerie” in Paris. The moment I tasted this cheese I fell in love with it. To me, it’s another Wow Trader Joe’s item, just amazingly good. If you blindfolded me I would have sworn it was some European cheese, maybe an aged Comté or Gruyere or Emmenthaler with those types of complex, nutty flavors present in those cheeses. Well guess what, “Vault No. 5” is not from France or Switzerland but comes from the Green Mountains of VERMONT from Jasper Hill Farms . It’s cave aged by them for 12 months as it undergoes affinage in their cellars underground.

It has a natural (and funky looking!) rind which looks like that because it is loaded with (friendly) bacteria and cultures. Vault No. 5 has an edible rind (I ate some) but of course you can cut it off as my wife insisted before she would eat some. In fact, she first said the cheese is spoiled (ha!) but I told her no its just aged in some cave in Vermont for a year.

“Vault No. 5” tastes terrific on its own, on a cracker or with some good bread. How is it with fruit? When I paired it with an apple it was seemed to taste even better, in fact I couldn’t stop eating them. They say this cheese matches well with red wine and ales. Now when you melt it, it’s out of this world. Grilled cheese? Yes please. I can only imagine a grilled cheese made with this and some Unexpected Cheddar (note to self; try that) Trader Joe’s is selling Vault No. 5 for $10.99 a pound, a not a bad deal considering it’s high quality. In a top cheese shop in NYC I know premium farm cheeses like this go for at least $20 a pound or more. If you love TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar, you will probably love this one too so check it out folks, this is a keeper and I hope TJ’s continues to sell it forever.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/jasper-hill-vault-no-5-cave-aged-cheese-062684

TRADER JOE’S SAYS:

What happens when you marry old world cultures and cave-aged technique with quality milk production in the Green Mountains of Vermont? The cheese mongers at Jasper Hill did exactly that, and came up with Vault No. 5 Cave Aged Cheese.

Toasty and aromatic, Jasper Hill Vault No. 5 Cave Aged Cheese was inspired by Swiss and Italian mountain cheeses—delightfully creamy, toasty and savory, with subtle earthy notes. It’s cave aged for a minimum of one year, a process that allows a natural rind to form around its golden, straw colored paste. In short, it’s the stuff cheesy dreams are made of.

https://www.jasperhillfarm.com/cellars

Seen at Trader Joe’s: Coffee Plants for sale !


I was pretty surprised to see this yesterday at Trader Joe’s in the plants section. I’ve never even seen an indoor coffee plant before. I think it was $7.99. As a bit of a coffee geek, I was slightly tempted to buy it (but didn’t… yet) Just in case you do, here’s some Plant Care tips for coffee I found online below. I wouldn’t expect you are going to get a harvest from this but still kinda interesting….

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/coffee-plant-care/

Trader Joe’s Shea Butter and Coconut Oil HAIR MASK


Trader Joe’s Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Hair Mask

I find this to be an terrific conditioner for your hair. Well, Trader Joe’s calls this a “mask”. I call it an intensive conditioner, that really works to make your hair softer and silkier.It has a lovely smell as well. If you read the ingredients listed one can see it has a lot of moisturizing oils and other ingredients. These include coconut oil, shea butter oil, mulberry leaf extract, vitamin E, argan oil, coconut extract, açai extract, sunflower seed extract, and vitamin B5. You just put it on and leave it in for 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse. I even sometimes put a tiny dab of it on my wet (curly) hair after getting out of the shower like a hair dressing. I would call this a premium product but it doesn’t have a premium price, due to it’s own brand label and no marketing. Its a super reasonable $3.99 for the 5 oz tube. A real bargain. If you try this stuff I bet you will find it works well and thank me (a guy no less) for the tip!

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries