TJ’s Old Fashioned CINNAMON GRAHAM CRACKERS


These are so good.

I loved graham crackers as a kid and these kind of remind me of the graham crackers we used to eat which were probably Nabisco’s. Except for one thing. These are WAY BETTER! These are a big improvement on Nabisco grahams. TJ’s grahams are thicker, heartier, and have a bigger cinnamon flavor. We both tasted these and immediately gave a big thumbs up. I think of these as “gourmet graham crackers for adults” – though the kids will like them too. They were delicious with milk, tea and coffee, they went great with some ice cream, and of course were great just on their own.

I will buy these again for sure. Trader Joe’s Old Fashioned Cinnamon Graham Crackers: $3.99 for a 1 lb box.

Trader Joe’s Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes


Trader Joe’s has a new seasoning: Dried Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes.

From what I understand in New Mexico “Hatch Chiles” are everywhere, in both fresh and dried form, and consumed by everyone, the only thing being if you are a “green or red” chile person. Some time back, I recall seeing Trader Joe’s selling bags of fresh Hatch Chiles. I was pretty surprised. I can tell you in NYC, seeing fresh New Mexican Hatch Chile’s is rare. I would think only the most gourmet of gourmet shops would carry them. That must have been a one-off as I haven’t seen the fresh ones again at TJ’s and I assume TJ’s has decided it’s more practical to sell Hatch Chiles in a dried form. So there is yet one more addition to their great line of all kinds of seasonings and spices. The bottle of dried flaked chiles has both red and green chiles and its good! The report is these are not spicy hot but have lots of flavor. Try adding this chile flakes to burgers of ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken, impossible burgers, to tacos, stews, tomato based dishes, pasta, pizza, marinate chicken breasts (or tofu for that matter). Add some to marinades and sauces. Try some on eggs or avocado toast. A 1.9 oz jar is $3.99. Yes it’s a little expensive for a bottle of spices but you can add just a teaspoon and get a lot of flavor, plus you don’t have to go all the way to Santa Fe to get a fix of Hatch Chiles and the flavor of New Mexico.

If this sounds interesting I would grab a bottle if you see it, as who knows if this product will be around forever or it’s a one off like the bags of fresh Hatch chiles.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/green-and-red-hatch-chile-flakes-070397

TRADER JOE’S says: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of red and green chiles to New Mexican cuisine — there’s an argument to be made that red and green chiles are, in fact, the foundation of New Mexican cuisine. After all, New Mexico’s state question (apparently, there are such things as state questions), “red or green?”, is a direct reference to their ubiquity in restaurant settings. In honor of these chiles’ special place in Southwestern cooking, we’re proudly introducing Trader Joe’s Green & Red Hatch Chile Flakes to our shelves, so that their spicy, singularly New Mexican flavor can be enjoyed at home in dishes of all kinds — no matter which state your home happens to be in.

Of course, these aren’t just any chiles: these are dried Hatch Chiles, from New Mexico’s renowned Hatch Valley. Widely praised for their unique, savory taste (some detect notes of onion or garlic in their flavor profile), these Green & Red Hatch Chiles are especially great for adding heat and depth to taco meat, enchilada sauces, chilis, or stews. And since each jar contains both Red and Green Flakes, you get the benefits of each: both the round, slightly sweeter flavor of the more ripened Red, and the sharper, more vegetal flavor of the younger Green. Try folding them into your next burger for a nice, peppery kick.”

Trader Joe’s STONE GROUND GRITS


“There are grits and then there are stone ground grits.”

Up here in the Yankee North of NYC, most of us are probably not as familiar with grits as folks in the South are. I tried these Trader Joe’s Stone Ground Grits and guess what? This damn Yankee loves me some Grits! Maybe its not such a surprise as I have always enjoyed and made Italian Polenta, and let’s face it grits are almost the American version of polenta, right? OK not exactly as grits use a different kind of corn.

Anyway these TJ’s stone ground grits are much better than commercially mass produced grits you see at the supermarket kind which are not stone ground. Stone Ground Grits are milled from the whole kernel of corn including the healthy tasty germ. They have a coarse, varied texture, as you can see in the picture and have more corn flavor than the supermarket kind. Think of these as “gourmet grits”. Grits take about 25-30 minutes to cook, stirring them every 5 minutes or so. You can just follow the recipe on the package and you will get good grits. I like to cook them using more milk (half milk/half water) which makes them even creamier. Shredded cheddar cheese at the end makes them even better if you like them savory (Unexpected Cheddar perhaps!? Oh yeah). I like to use grits as the Base for a dish, such as the base for sautéed GREENS or especially the base for SHRIMP AND GRITS, which is terrific and typically Southern. You can even do it a super simple version of Shrimp and Grits: just grill up some red shrimp with lots of seasoning and serve them on top of cheesy grits with the pan juices. Yum!

Cook grits low and slow in a thick bottomed pan and stir them often so the bottom doesn’t burn. They may be even better with another 10-15 mins of cooking (ie 40-45 minutes total). If they get too thick, just add a little more water. TJ’s Stone Ground Grits are $2.29. Grits are GLUTEN FREE of course.

TIP: Double up the recipe when you make some grits; then you have leftovers which you can use to make pan fried grits, kind of the way you might make pan fried polenta, which I just love.

Here’s a few recipes for shrimp and grits:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lemon-garlic-shrimp-and-grits-recipe-1973610

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/the-best-shrimp-and-grits-7448205

TJ’s SOUTHERN GREENS BLEND


Trader Joe’s “Southern Greens Blend” Greens For Cooking” Cut, cleaned and Ready To Cook.

I think this is a fairly new product at TJ’s or at least I don’t recall seeing it until recently. It’s good. No, make that terrific. This Yankee boy is really digging Southern Greens.

TJ’s Southern Greens contains a blend of greens typical in Southern cooking, Mustard, Turnip, Collards and Spinach, ready to cook with. Kind of similar to TJ’s bags of prepped kale. There are a few recipes on the back of the bag which can give one a few ideas on how to use these greens. They take anywhere from about 15-30 minutes to cook. Of course you don’t need a use a “recipe”. You could just sauté the greens in some olive oil with some chopped garlic, covered on low-med heat with a touch of liquid (stock or water), season to taste and cook them for 10-30 minutes to your desired degree of greens “done-ness”. They start bright green and get darker and softer as they cook down. Taste them along the way and see how you like them best. Frankly I find myself throwing some greens now into whatever I’m cooking. I recently mixed some raw greens into a pot of Jasmine rice as I was cooking it and that worked really well (cook time was about 16 minutes total). I’m throwing some greens into many things I’m cooking to “green up” the dish.

Greens is good, and they are HEALTHY, and good for y’all ! Eat more dark green leafy vegetables easily using these Southern Greens. They are $2.99 a 1 lb bag. One thing, use it up pretty fast; cut leafy greens start to go bad fairly quickly; so use it in about 3 days. TIP: I poke a bunch of holes (tip of sharp knife) in bags of greens to let in a little air so they don’t rot quite as fast. These greens need to be used pretty fast before they go bad (3-4 days?)

These can go great on top of some cheesy TJ STONE GROUND GRITS

TJ’s Sweet & Spicy Pickle Chips & Onions


Thin slices of pickles and onions in a sweet and spicy brine. Emphasis on spicy. You have to try these, they are just terrific.

Now when Trader Joe’s calls these “spicy” on the label, in this case they are not kidding! They are quite hot and seriously SPICY! Containing “capsicum oleoresin”. However they are Spicy Delicious. With a hamburger these were particularly terrific. For me these pickles are just one more amazing TJ Wow Product, something that’s unique and special. I’m even a bit addicted and once I start eating them I keep going back for more. While they are Seriously Spicy if you just eat them their own, when you add them as as ingredient and eat them say on top of a hamburger or tucked into a sandwich, you will get a moderated amount of the heat. These are about $2.70 a jar.

Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Corn (frozen)


Ingredients: Corn

That’s it. One ingredient. However what they’ve done is they FIRE ROASTED it. See it blackened up? Doing that to it makes it taste even better than TJ’s regular frozen corn, which is terrific by the way. You can use this fire roasted corn on its own. It was delicious sautéed in some butter as a simple side dish. But of course you can use as an ingredient with things, for example, corn bread, add add it to salsas, soups, stews and of course any Mexican dish. This Fire Roasted Corn is great to have on hand in the freezer. It’s $1.99 for a 1 lb bag and well worth trying.

ROASTED CORN AND FETA SALAD RECIPE (LINK)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/roasted-corn-feta-salad

TJ’s “Everything but the bagel” Seasoned Smoked Salmon


Is there anyone reading this who would not enjoy some tasty smoked salmon on an everything bagel shmeared with some cream cheese and squeeze of lemon? Well Trader Joe’s had a decent idea when they decided to combine smoked salmon and their wildly popular seasoning “Everything but the bagel…” with to come up with this great combo as and additon to the successful “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning blend family. I found Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel SMOKED SALMON to be very tasty. The everything seasonings do not overpower the (cold smoked) Atlantic salmon. The seasonings add a nice top note to the mild farm raised salmon which has a nice buttery texture.

I tasted the salmon in two ways, the first being in a classic Sunday breakfast, putting this smoked salmon on a bagel, with some cream cheese, a little pickled red onion and a squeeze of lemon, all on top of a very fresh TJ’s Artisan everything bagel, with a nice slice of salmon…. This was perfectly delicious and really Everything good!

The second way we enjoyed this EBTB smoked salmon was using the salmon in some “Temaki sushi (hand rolls)”. I made sushi rice and which we ate topped with pieces of smoked salmon, some sliced avocado and cucumber sticks nestled into a piece of Trader Joe’s seaweed treats for little tasty sushi hand rolls. This was incredibly tasty and made an easy and super yummy dinner.

It’s $5.49 well now increased to $5.99 for a 4 oz package and yes the four slices inside went very quickly! But is an affordable splurge, this smoked salmon being still a fairly decent value. FYI at Zabar‘s smoked fish counter, the sliced smoked salmon goes for $50 a pound now! (winter 2021). This is half that price, though yes it is not hand sliced in front of you by a seasoned pro.

This is well worth trying and I would buy it again, as well as TJ’s very tasty Pastrami smoked salmon.

simple sushi handroll

TJ’s Organic Coconut & Avocado Oil Blend (vegan ghee)


Popular in Indian cuisine “Ghee” is butter that has slowly cooked to separate its milk solids from the fat so it doesn’t burn when cooking and can stay unrefrigerated. This is a Vegan “ghee” a blend of coconut and avocado oil. Now I’m not vegan myself, but just wanted to check out this product. It’s OK to cook with, neutral in taste. I think I would just prefer regular Coconut Oil which does impart a little coconut flavor. But if you are vegan this might be an option.

CERTIFIED ORGANIC

$4.99 (8 oz jar)

Trader Joe’s (frozen) ATLANTIC SALMON FILLETS


(Product of Norway, Farm Raised)

Each 1 lb package contains 4 portions of skin-on boneless farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway, each portion frozen separate, perfectly. First things first: DEFROSTING. The best method is always an overnight thaw in the fridge. In a pinch however you could do the quick thaw method written on the package (bagged in cold water 30 minutes) but try to think ahead if you can for the best texture . Obviously if you are not using the 4 pieces just seal it up for your freezer with the built in air lock of the package, squeezing out excess air.

COOKING : I tried the quick brine technique of giving the defrosted salmon fillets a 30 minute soak in brine and I liked the results (see link below for full info at The Kitchn)

https://www.thekitchn.com/best-salmon-cooking-method-skills-showdown-23004976

After drying off the salmon, I gave it seasoning on both sides with a nice sprinkle of AJIKA which will give great color as well as flavor (in my case, as they were brined, no more salt was added). I cooked the fillets using the pan fry method in a cast iron pan (or use a non stick pan) with a mix of oil and butter for about 5 minutes on the skin side till the skin looked crispy. Flipped them, then cooked about 2 minutes on the other side which will need less time than the skin side. Personally I hate dried out salmon, or any fish, so recommend one does not overcook it. Cook it just till it’s no longer translucent and flakes easily. You can always put it back for 30 seconds more if it needs it.

If you want some sauce on it I think TJ’s tzaziki sauce would be very good with it, or Greek yogurt mixed with lemon, or whatever your favorite sauce is. Even simple butter and lemon will be great. Fresh dill is wonderful with salmon if you have it.

I plated the salmon up with lemon butter, and served it with a side of TJ’s Harvest Grain Blend (shown) which is really good BTW. The salmon was tasty, if a bit mild of course as this is farmed. Wild salmon, which I adore, is usually about double the price of this. Trader Joe’s sells this for $8.99 for a 1 lb package (a bit little over $2 a portion). For the price I think this salmon is very tasty and a good value. I find Trader Joe’s version, superior to Costco’s version. So giving this a thumb’s up for value and quality. INGREDIENTS: Atlantic Salmon (no added salt) Protein = 23 grams! EAT FISH

TJ’s Organic Five Country Espresso blend coffee (whole bean, dark roast)


Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO blend, whole bean, dark roast coffee

If you’re want espresso or dark roast coffee the options at Trader Joe’s are a little more limited compared to the light and medium roast coffees. Now don’t get me wrong, light and medium roast coffees are wonderful and a terrific choice for most coffee lovers, especially those who make coffee using a pour-over or French press method. However if you make espresso, either with an espresso machine or even in a Moka pot (as I have started doing recently for Moka Pot Espresso) then you likely want whole beans in the darkest roast possible. You will grind the beans yourself just before too, for maximum aroma and flavor…you know, the way your typical coffee geek (like yours truly) will do. Grinding these whole beans fresh will release an intense, heavenly aroma, I promise you.

TJ’s FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO whole bean is a very good coffee for espresso, moka pot and all dark roast coffee lovers. It’s especially terrific when you first open up the can, when you’ll get the maximum aroma and see super shiny beans just glistening with oil, which is what fresh espresso roast looks like. Once the beans get exposed to air they’ll look less shiny, in about 3-5 days however they still taste pretty good. TIP: you can parcel up the beans in a number of small ziplock bags, freeze them, and take out bags as needed.

These beans are from FIVE different countries….El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Sumatra, Indonesia (wow huh?). Another dark roast coffee option at TJ is the very good CAFE PAJARO. Try that one too.

FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO WHOLE BEAN COFFEE; $8.99 (13 oz)

MOKA POT – If you are interested in getting one, there’s a link below to one of the more inexpensive Moka Pots (Primula) on Amazon. The original Bialetti Moka Pot is excellent of course but it is a bit pricey. (note: “cups” in this case refer to a tiny espresso cup with just 2-3 oz liquid) I like the “9 cup” Moka Pots for doing Cafe Con Leche for 2 people who love coffee. You can get a “Moka 9” for just over $20, not a bad deal at all. Every Italian kitchen has one, or more pots. 60 million Italians can’t be wrong.

https://amzn.to/3p9W2rW

Disclosure: as an Amazon affiliate I may earn a tiny bit from your purchase at no additional cost to you

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