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 TRADITIONAL CARNITAS Mexican Style Oven Roasted Pork


Trader Joe’s sells packages of “CARNITAS” (Mexican style oven roasted pork). Frankly in the package it may not look look very appealing but trust me, this is not just good, TJ’s Carnitas are delicious. Tender, slow roasted, melt in your mouth, delicious porky goodness. Carnitas (“little meats) are a traditional Mexican preparation & cooking method with the pork typically cooked in enormous copper pots by special masters, slowly stirring it for hour with long handle wooden paddles. Cooking carnitas is an art. You can’t even really make carnitas at home. When done the pork is so tender and juicy it is almost falling apart. Typically the cooked carnitas meat is chopped up for tacos or other dishes. “Trader José’s” version of carnitas can be used to make excellent tacos. Now even though it’s fully cooked, it will be far tastier if you brown it and I strongly recommend you do. Its worth the little extra effort and your tacos will be far tastier. Please do not microwave it – despite the fact they say you can on the package. Just toss it in a pan. I cut up the big piece of meat into a few pieces and cooked it on low-med heat for about 10-20 minutes turning the pieces every 5 minutes or all the side were golden brown and delicious. Some interior fat in the meat will melt doing this too. The carnitas may start to fall apart as you turn it, that’s fine. When its all done, take out the meat, rest it a minute or two and then either chop it up into bite size piece or what I like to do: shred it up using two forks. You can use the carnitas as a filling for tacos or quesadillas with your desired accompaniments. Personally I like traditional Corn Tortillas but use any tortilla you like. Now besides using this for tacos, this tasty roasted pork can be used for other things too of course. So for example this pork is great used for Chinese cooking. I make fried rice using this pork chopped into bite size pieces instead of Cha Siu and it’s super yummy. How about Ramen? Sure. Cut into slices, grill them a bit and use these as the Ramen topping like the traditional slices of Cha Siu. Italian? Chop up the meat for a super easy tasty meat sauce, which you add to tomato or marinara sauce – voila, an instant “Ragu” or meat sauce for pasta or gnocchi. You can even just serve this delicious pork on its own with some lime or salsa or as a topping for a salad. Or make a Cuban Sandwich with this, ham and some Swiss! Trust me, you will find this TJ Carnitas useful to use for many things. The 12 oz. package of TRADITIONAL CARNITAS goes for $6. I would buy this again

BTW – TJ’s PINEAPPLE SALSA goes very well with this pork carnitas for tacos etc.

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 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 caught red-handed SHRINKING SOME ITEMS ! (Shrinkflation / Inflation)


I’ve been hearing a lot about how stores are shrinking some items as opposed to an outright price increase to kind of disguise price increases from us consumers. Look carefully at the sign. The sign says the jar of this (very good!) marinara sauce contains “26 ounces”. Now look at jar. The label says “24 oz“. Clearly a jar has 2 oz less sauce than it used to, and likely this happened fairly recently since they didn’t change the sign. Or maybe even Trader Joe’s employees are not aware of shrinking products!

Shrinking packages and the amounts in them is one way vendors try to hide a price increase – by giving you less even thought they didn’t raise the price hoping you won’t notice. This is referred to as SHRINKFLATION. Someone clearly goofed up at my TJ’s and forgot to change the sign but no doubt they will soon lest you know what really happened to the missing 2 ounces of sauce!

Have your parents ever said, “I remember when you could make the kids three sandwiches from a can of tuna”? Its true. Cans of tuna are famous for shrinking and shrinking and shrinking over the years….

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