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!

Everything But The Elote Seasoning Blend



RAVE

Here’s another nice addition to Trader Joe’s seasoning blends, in a similar vein obviously to their very popular “Everything but the bagel” seasoning (which is excellent btw, and something I will review in future).

Well “everything but the bagel” is pretty obvious to most people but “everything but the elote” maybe not quite as well known, at least in America. So what is “Elote” anyway that this is “everything but”? Elote is a very popular street food found all over Mexico, which is hot corn on the cob, adorned with mayonnaise, cheese, chile powder, lime juice…. Trust me if you’ve never tried it, it’s quite delicious. The elote vendor takes an ear of corn, which he then sprinkles with lime, spreads mexican crema or mayonnaise over it, sprinkles it with a tons of grated cotija cheese, chile powder and maybe hot sauce. The combined flavors will send you to heaven.

Here’s a video I found on Youtube of a Elote vendor in Oaxaca prepping one for a customer in a jiffy with all the works. Watch how fast this guy is!
 

 
Don’t you wish we had smellovision?

Trader Joe’s did a good job of capturing all these flavors into this seasoning, which is so good this stuff has quickly capturing been the internet by storm. It gives you the cheese-sy smell, sweet and spicy flavor profile of Elote. Ingredients include cheese, cumin, chile, salt, sugar, chipotle… Very yummy stuff.

While I intend to of course try it on fresh corn this summer when corn is available in season, you can use this seasoning in lots of ways besides on corn, as yummy as that will be! You can sprinkle this on all kinds of veggies or meats. I tried it out on some boneless chicken breasts for dinner, I hit them with olive oil and a good amount of the Elote powder all over them, let them marinate for 10 minutes or so, before grilling them in a hot cast iron pan (recipe below). The chicken turned out fantastic with a super flavor. I also tried it out just mixing some of the blend into greek yogurt, which made an instant delicious dip or sauce and tried that on tortilla chips and that too was super Yummy. Hey you can put that yogurt sauce on top of the chicken (or what have you)!

Trader Joe’s has a number of “elote” products now.
A jar of this is $2.49. I hear its flying off the shelves. It’s very worth trying if you like spicy, cheesy, delicious stuff.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/everything-but-the-elote-seasoning-blend

Here by the way is my patented greatest method to cook boneless breasts of chicken so they come out juicy, not dry. The seasoning can be almost anything you can think of.

Prep your chicken breasts. Season them. Put them in a very hot black cast iron pan, or non-stick pan with some olive oil, or oil and butter. Grill on one side for about 3-4 minutes till nice and brown, then turn them over and grill for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover the pan. This is the secret. Let them rest without peeking for about 5 minutes. The breasts will continue to cook through but not over cook and dry out. There will be juice in the pan which you can pour over the chicken breasts when you serve them or serve these pan juices on the side. You can also mix the pan juices with some greek yogurt, or any sauce you care for. Everyone will tell you how juicy the chicken is.

Try this recipe with a good amount of the elote seasoning blend, or everything but the bagel or your own. 

Just in case you didn’t get enough, here’s another “elotero”in action ; making it a lot slower so you can check out all the additions (god, he puts crema and tons of mayo!) … cheese made from goat and cow…homemade red chile paste…. All for just around $1.

 

 

Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE


Trader Joe’s as you may know carries a whole bunch of all kinds of condiments and sauces. It has quite a few hot sauces, some of these being VERY good. Green Dragon Hot Sauce is perhaps my favorite hot sauce Trader Joe’s sells (followed by BOMBA).

In short, this is a fantastic hot sauce. If you Google this product you’ll find it has many many fans all over the internet and with good reason. GREEN DRAGON has far more fans than the TJ Sriracha (not bad but IMO nowhere the equal of the original classic Huy Fong Sriracha {red rooster label).

Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce‘s ingredients include: jalapeños, tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, garlic, lime juice and habanero. It is spicy of course but not blow the roof of your mouth off spicy. This stuff has a lot of lovely flavors going on. Its not simply “hot”With the above ingredients naturally Green Dragon can be viewed as a type of classic Mexican/South American style salsa. But its not just for “Mexican food” at all. It works with all kinds of cuisines and foods, Asian style food in particular. When I’m make Asian or Chinese dishes I tend to use Green Dragon a good deal. Its very floral as it is made from fresh green chiles, herbs and aromatics. Used judiciously this sauce adds flavor to all kinds of dishes. A few drops can go a long way in the flavor and heat department, so you can use it a bit sparingly (unless you love heat, then put more of course!) For example a splash of this when you are making eggs, either in scrambled eggs, or on top of fried eggs…really really good! I even put a few drops on something “boring” like cottage cheese (no really, try this combo on a toasted bagel) Cottage cheese, Boring no more. Toast up a bagel, top with cottage cheese, dot with Green Dragon; Thats one yummy breakfast. AVOCADO TOAST? YES! See below for a mini-recipe.

I just put some G.D.S in a lentil soup I had made and found it was perfect for that too, it added just that little bit of something extra that the soup needed, with that cilantro flavor. It is easy and fun to experiment with Green Dragon. Once you start trying it on different things, you will also discover, “umm, that works with this” for yourself. Green Dragon sauce is one of my “always have in fridge” TJ items! So I never am without it and I keeps one in the pantry too just in case.  It’s a steal too for $3.29 a bottle (18 ounces). In another Gourmet type store, something like this would be six bucks no doubt.

Avocado Toast: mash a ripe avocado up with salt, pepper, a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and Add some Green Dragon to taste. Spread mixture on buttered sourdough toast or sliced brioche or a bagel. Yum! Side note – add some into your guacamole, of course thats fantastic).

RAVE

TJ’s TACO SEASONING MIX spice blend


My headline: “Its not just for Tacos”

This little bag is possibly one of the cheapest things in the store, but I’ve discovered this is a great thing to have on hand. It’s certainly worth buying for 79 cents. “Taco Seasoning Mix” is a spice blend of a seasoning that is really good and very versatile. Is it just for Tacos? Well, this is a spice blend… You know like the ones you see in some fancy shops for $10 for a little bag? Even if you have some or all of these spices in your spice rack they are probably not as fresh as whats in this foil package from South Africa (!) The blend of spices and ratio of all the seasoning are spot on. This “taco” seasoning blend is better than any I’ve tried. The spices are :

Sea salt, cumin, cayenne, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, oregano, dried bell pepper, dried chile pepper and smoked paprika.

An excellent spice blend thats packed with flavor with a bit of chile heat, but not massive heat. I’ve used it with ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork, as well as to marinate and grill chicken breasts, or frankly practically anything you can think of, even to season steaks or other things. Try it and see if you like a sprinkle or a nice amount. I am pretty generous, especially for “Mexican” things.

This little bag of spices can makes it super easy to come up with something tasty for dinner or lunch, or make something a little boring more exciting and flavorful. For example, Ground Turkey can be boring, right? Try giving ground turkey a nice coating of this seasoning the next time you are grilling up turkey burgers or tacos. Brush a little olive oil on your meat, season it (this has salt so you may not need any or much). Throw the seasoned meat into a very hot cast iron pan, or non-stick pan with some olive oil. The lovely aroma of the spices will hit you immediately. Your old boring turkey burgers or tacos are now mouth waveringly exciting and spicy delicious. Seriously! I make great turkey tacos with this, or use ground beef. Cook it up. Warm some corn tortillas, and you have the makings of Taco Night at your place. On steak? Why not? On some Tofu? Ditto.

Spiced Chicken Breasts: Brush them with oil, season with this mix, marinate for maybe say 30 minutes. Grill in a hot pan till one side is well browned, flip and sear the other side. COVER THE PAN AND TURN HEAT OFF. LET IT SIT COVERED FOR 10 MINUTES. This method will make the juiciest chicken breasts you ever had. If you don’t use gas but have an electric burner, probably 5 minutes as the resident heat on the burner will continue the cooking more than a gas burner.

“PRODUCT OF SOUTH AFRICA” – where they know a good barbecue and how to grill with spices.

Vegetarians: Did I mention it will even perk up your beans?

This is worth a try!

TJ’s Refried Black Beans “With Jalapeños”


“High in Fiber and a Good Source of Iron”

Says so right on the front label and all true. This is a very healthy thing for you to eat. And since a can costs just 99 cents, it’s very economical too. Now if you are not familiar with “Refried Beans” there are a few things you should know. One is in Spanish “frijoles refritos” is slightly misleading in that while it literally can be interpreted as “re-fried beans” they are not “fried” twice, they are “cooked twice”, first the beans are boiled, then they are mashed/fried with some kind of fat. Authentic Mexican FRIJOLES REFRITO are either pinto, black, or other beans that have been cooked till very tender, and then mashed till they are a smooth paste. The mixture is cooked with onions and garlic and spices in some oil or fat (traditionally manteca (lard) is used but more ‘modern, healthy’ versions may use olive oil). Manteca does give the beans the best flavor though!  Cooked until a thick paste, Refritos generally is eaten with corn tortillas in one form or another, or simply put on the plate as a side. Of course the famous combination of Corn and Beans eaten together create a complex protein that is equal to meat protein, and are eaten in many places all over the world to sustain a population. In Mexico this is very true. This classic combination is both a high quality protein at a relatively low cost compared to meat/chicken/etc, and is a staple eaten daily by MILLIONS of people around the world.

However Trader Joe’s Refried Black Beans are a much simplified version of this classic bean dish. The ingredients list says simply : Black beans, water, sea salt, spice, jalapeños. So actually since there is no fat of any kind listed, in truth these are not really “refritos” at all! You could eat them this way just out of the can, but I find them just so-so that way, I think of them as a time-saver over making my own beans (soaking overnight, etc) and mashing them. Tasting these you may say as I did, “what where’s the jalapeño’s?” Are there really Jalapeño peppers are in this?? They seem non-existant taste wise so I assume the amount is miniscule.

When you open up up the can, be aware this beans don’t look too appetizing till prepared (frankly one could say it looks like dog food) but it will look fine after you heat them up and hopefully gussy them up as I suggest .

Anyway think of this can as a starting point to something. If you invest a mere 5 minutes to improve these* to make them tastier and more authentic, you will be rewarded with something twice as good as the way they taste right out of the can, I promise you. Here’s what I suggest you do with these mashed black beans – Smash or chop up a fat clove of garlic and toss it in a non-stick pan, over medium heat with a nice slug of good Olive Oil (I used TJ’s Spanish EVOO). Add the bean paste from the can (carefully! it may spit in the hot oil)  Perhaps add some diced fresh or pickled jalapeños or other chile peppers ‘to taste’. A great thing to add would be one small can of TJ’s Roasted Green Chiles, chopped up. A little diced onion sauteed for 5 minutes in the oil before the beans go in couldn’t hurt and will add much flavor to your Frijoles Refritos. Now add some spices: oregano, cumin if you like it, a dash of red pepper flakes plus a good sprinkling of black pepper. Taste for salt. Cook the the beans, pushing down with a wooden spoon, mixing into the oil and every now and then stirring and making sure they don’t burn as they cook. Use a low flame. Cook the mixture for about 5-10 minutes until the paste softens up, moves freely (If too thick, add a tiny pinch of water) until the Frijoles look smooth and smell wonderful. If you like spicy, a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce would go well added now. There….much improved over just opening this can.

Are you so Lazy that reading the above makes you say all that sounds like way too much work? Wow you are a lazy bum! OK then if you do nothing else, at a minimum when you heat the beans up just add some olive oil and lots of black pepper and some hot sauce to the pan.

Eat your Frijoles Refritos with tortillas, tostadas…. Use as fillings in burritos. Add salsa, cheese, tomato, greens. Refritos are also great served as a side with a sprinkle of cheese, maybe some mexican style rice, and possibly some Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo.

If you’ve never had these before, try them, or their cousin Trader Joe’s Pinto Refried Beans with Salsa.  Those are also quite good. They are very tasty when jazzed up a little, so filling, healthy and economical it’s not even funny. Your heart and cholesterol will thank you, especially since you made them with olive oil and not lard (thought authentic manteca does taste best, sorry!)  For a dollar you can easily always keep a few cans of these in the pantry.

RAVE.

VEGAN FRIENDLY

 

 

RECIPE: Veg. Tacos, Roasted Corn & Soy Chorizo with homemade tortillas


Made this for dinner the other night. I had some very interesting looking corn I had gotten, check out the color: Purple! I’m not sure I ever saw this before (no, it wasnt from Trader Joe’s, I got it at uptown Fairway) This omnivore decided to go vegetarian that night and make dinner featuring the corn with Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo. I even went whole hog and made fresh, homemade Tortillas de harina (flour), something I’ve been working on, trying to get better and better at. I watched a lot of videos on YouTube for tips.

To go with the tacos, I made a quick Salsa in five minutes, and let it blend for a 1/2 hour. When all was ready the Tacos got topped off with the salsa, some shredded cheese (Jalapeño Monterey Jack from Zabar’s) and some Arugula (TJ’s Wild Arugula).

How did it taste? Great. The roasted corn was excellent with the TJ Soy Chorizo, which really adds a lot of mexican flavors and spices, and the potato in the filling makes it taste hearty. Topped off with some salsa and jack cheese this was a damn tasty taco, vegetarian or otherwise.

Isn’t this pretty wild looking? No photoshopping here; this is the color!

I got my little assembly line to roll out the flour tortillas; Did about 6 for two people. Below, cooking on the griddle. If the griddle or pan is hot, they do not take long. About 1-2 mins on the first side and less than 1 min on the second side. Keep them warm in a cloth covered basket while you finish cooking all of them.

Dinner is served.

RECIPE: Vegatarian Tacos made with Roasted Corn, Soy Chorizo, and potato with Homemade Flour Tortillas

Taco Filling
2 ears, fresh corn, taken off the cob
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 “tube” of Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo (ie, about 3 oz?)
1 med. potato, diced
1 med. onion, diced

Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Carefully take the corn off the cob using a sharp knife. Get it all and be sure to scrape the cob with back of your knife to get the good healthy germ. Heat a skillet with 1 tbs of olive or veg. oil. Toss in the corn, minced garlic, 1/2 the diced onion.
Cook on high heat till corn browns a little bit; five to ten mins. Remove from pan and set aside
Add diced potatoes, another tsp. oil, lower heat, cover the pan and cook 10 mins, turning occasionally; Cook, stirring occasionally another 5-8 mins till evenly golden brown; Add the Soy Chorizo. Add the roasted corn in and stir gently to combine all. Taste for seasonings,turn off heat, keep warm.

Quick Salsa
(Easy but you can also just buy your favorite TJ salsa)
1 ripe tomato, diced
clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
fresh or pickled green chili, or a can or TJ’ Roasted Hatch Chilis (
Mix all above, add little salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, pinch cayenne

Flour Tortillas

This would be a little complicated to document in full. The easiest way is to learn the way I did, via YouTube. Heres one video that should show you how to ‘roll your own’ . Personally I use oil not shortening and much less than the amount in the many recipes to cut down on the fat, and find it still works pretty well. I did as you see use TJ flour (and baking soda! and Olive Oil!) Not too mention the Soy Chorizo =Trader Joe recipe!

Now of course if you don’t feel like doing all the “work” you could accomplish something close by picking up at TJ’s, tortillas (flour or corn, the Chili Lime ones would be good!) and salsa, and use the soy chorizo on its own (or with thier frozen corn?) and whip a similar dinner together in no time.

Trader Joe’s SOY CHORIZO


This is my very first post and review on this new site! Lets make it a:

RAVE

Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo:

Trader-Joes-Soy-Chorizo-Michelle

Pretty stellar product from Trader José’s. Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I tried this as it looked interesting and sounded intriguing with the two words: “Soy Chorizo”? Chorizo is a sausage and it’s pork so what the hell do they mean by “soy” chorizo. All I can say is I was kind of impressed by the taste of this vegetarian “chorizo” made with Soy Protein. It tastes like, well, kind of like chorizo tastes… And by chorizo lets state for the record in this case we are referring to Mexican chorizo (which is crumbly and you take out of a casing) and not the “Spanish chorizo” (which is firm and dried like an Italian salami product). TJ’s SOY CHORIZO is actually quite tasty and flavorful. This non-vegetarian deems it suitably tasty for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Its loaded with correct Mexican Chorizo spices and flavors especially cumin plus anatto and its nicely spicy. All of which really makes it taste “real” to me. I buy this all the time now. Its so tasty I don’t even notice or care if its real or “fake meat”. So again good for both omnivores, vegetarians and or the occasional vegetarian like me. This is one of Trader Joe’s most popular products. Google ‘Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo’. You will find tons of fans plus lots of recipes. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is highly recommended thing from TJ to try. I’ve used it in so many ways, and you will no doubt come up with more easily….

soychorpotatoeggYou could use it as a Soy Chorizo used in a taco filling mixed with potatoes, onions, and eggs; see the pic for a great filling with these ingredients on a TJ Habanero Lime flour tortilla) mixed with other veggies. Use it crumbled on top of eggs (delicious) or mixed in an omelette. A recipe idea can be found here:

https://traderjoesrants.com/recipes/

I’ve added Soy Chorizo to pan-fried hash brown potatoes for really nice extra flavor (I add at very end). Added it to lentil stew or a soup; even put it on top of pizza instead of sausage! Its good in so many things, and a little bit can go a long way to flavor other ingredients. You can even make a un-vegetarian taco filling with half soy chorizo sautéed up together, for the chorizo flavor with maybe ground turkey or ground beef or pork if you prefer.

MAJOR TIP – Soy Chorizo is very messy to work with once you open the package. The package has a plastic tube casing crimped at the end. Be sure to VERY carefully slit open the plastic outer casing, then open the inner casing. What I do is open the package, pull out the tube, and kind of squeeze it out of the casing with my fingers, as needed an inch at a time. Even wrapped in plastic be warned, it gets messy sitting in fridge, as the dark red anatto oil  has a tendency to “leak” out so be sure to wrap it carefully, as the anatto oil will stain everything red. I double wrap the opened package in two plastic bags. Or better still, I have found the best way to keep leftover Soy Chorizo once the package is open is to is put it into a glass jar and spoon it out as needed. I label it with the date. I find it keeps a long time in the fridge, easily two weeks, and maybe even like 4 weeks ? As its vegetable based not meat based, it doesn’t spoil like meat and the oil and spices protect it from going bad quickly.

A 12 oz package is $1.99 (update: since I first wrote this the price was increased to $2.29 {2018} I find 12 oz of this goes pretty far as its strongly flavored.

Here is a recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms that sounds good from the Cooking with Trader Joe’s blog. I have to try this, it sounds yummy and easy.

Grilled Avocados and Soy Chorizo Tacos? That sounds good!

https://www.traderjoes.com/recipes/lunch/soy-chorizo-grilled-avocado-tacos

SOY CHORIZO FRITATTA

https://www.traderjoes.com/recipes/breakfast/soy-chorizo-frittata

Let me know what do you think of TJ Soy Chorizo? How and What do you use it for? If you have any ways you like to use it or recipes, please leave them here in the Comments.

RECIPE – QUESADILLAS WITH SOY CHORIZO

Soy Chorizo

Tortillas (Corn or Wheat/Corn)

Monterey Jack Cheese with Peppers

Baby Wild Arugula

Chopped tomatoes – or salsa – or avocado for garnish

Put a little oil in a pan large enough to hold 2 tortillas; add the Soy Chorizo on top of tortillas; top this with grated cheese; Top this with some arugula and a few chopped tomatoes or a bit of salsa. Cook 20-30 seconds until the tortilla becomes pliable so you can fold the tortillas gently into a half moon with a spatula. Press gently. Cook until bottom side is a little crispy and cheese is melted. Flip and cook other side, press gently. When done, remove and top with salsa or hot sauce or Sriracha, maybe some  sour cream, ripe avocado…chopped cilantro….

Enjoy!