Trader Joe’s DRIED BABY BANANAS


Over in the Dried Fruit section at TJ’s I’ve always liked the dried bananas (the full size ones). Recently this bright yellow package caught my eye for DRIED BABY BANANAS. I’m not quite sure if this replaced the bigger ones the used to see or I just never noticed these before. These stoked my curiosity. Well I really liked these DRIED BABY BANANAS, which are interesting looking. In fact some people might think they look a little scary as they look like little dried monkey fingers! Taste-wise they are just what they are bananas, which I am guessing are sun or air dried, and these are a bit moist, and a bit chewy and have an intense banana taste as the flavors are very concentrated from drying. And yes “baby bananas” are a different variety than your normal banana. So did I like them? Here’s one way to answer. After I tasted one, then another, I basically couldn’t stop eating them. They were quite tasty as-is right out of the bag. But then I had a bright idea, “Hmm, I wonder if they would be good match if I dipped them in peanut butter!?” Needless to say, they are a great combination. If you put some out with a little bit of PB to dip them in on the side I have a feeling kids would love these as a snack, though when they first see them no doubt they will say something like, “ewww gross, these look like dried baby monkey fingers ! The package says they come from Thailand and the INGREDIENTS list one thing: “DRIED BANANAS”. So I call that a pretty “natural” product. A package costs $1.99. The bag I got yesterday seems to have only 4 little bananas left when I just checked them…. so you could say they went down easy and way too fast. Next time I better buy 2 bags. By the way – I found out that Potassium is good for blood pressure and these have a lot of Potassium, a bit more than even regular fresh bananas. In short, another very good dried fruit snack from TJ, well worth trying so check them out.

RAVE

Easy Pizza with Tandoori Naan


When I saw these frozen TANDOORI NAAN, I had an idea… Could I use these naan for the “base” of a pizza? If so than I could make pizza in mere seconds! OK it actually took me more like 5 minutes to assemble these pizzas (see pic) and pop them in a hot oven. But the idea? It basically worked fine. Using these Naan breads makes it super fast and easy to whip up some individual sized pizzas almost instantly. Just spread some of your favorite sauce, put on some cheese, and pop them in the oven, and Bingo you got a fresh hot pizza in about  10-15 minutes with almost no work at all.

As you can see in the pictures, I simply put some marinara on. I put slices of TJ whole milk mozzarella on, then threw it in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes at 400 .

Yes, I spruced these up a little adding a few sliced mushrooms and a few sliced asparagus to make it a bit “veggie”. I had this stuff in the fridge. Now I turned on the broiler for the last minute or two to really get the top nice and browned (I over did this by a few seconds so be careful if you do the broiler browning part). When they came out, I put some fresh grated parmesan on for good measure, and a drizzle of EVOO.

DELICIOUS!

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The Naan Pizza turned out quite good as you can probably tell from the pic. We ate one each with a salad for dinner and that made a very satisfying (and tasty!) dinner for us. Making these with the Naan requires so little time and effort. Yes the naan is not a real pizza base, it is more bread-y than a real pizza but seriously this was so fast, easy and cheap that making PIZZA NAAN is certainly worth giving a try sometime. TIP: Buy and try this with the GARLIC NAAN version TJ has as well. Obviously the Trader Joe’s Naan are great used in the traditional way too. For example accompanying some of the TJ Masala Chickpeas (frozen section) which are delicious!

A pack of 4 Naan is $1.99 (50 cents each, not bad huh). These are great to have in your freezer for pizza or Indian food or to use in many imaginative ways whenever you are in the mood.

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

Trader Joe’s CARAMEL APPLE GRANOLA


 

This seems to be another of Trader Joe’s Fall/Winter seasonal products.

This is actually a terrific granola and excellent product, despite the very so-so name (“apple flavored”??) and pretty lousy package design (4 fonts used in the name and every letter in apple ??!)  I can’t tell if the name and package design is geared towards kids – or designed by a kid – but this isn’t a kiddie product. Its an excellent, delicious granola, maybe the best granola TJ’s sells. This is a cereal which I’m sure both adults and kids would love.

From the package: “Sweet and tart crunchy clusters with apple slices, peanuts and pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds”

Despite the words about pumpkin spice, actually this isn’t another TJ “pumpkin spice” thing. In fact if they didn’t mention it I wouldn’t even know there were any pumpkin spices. Whatever spices are in this, they are subtle and blend in perfectly with all the other flavors (apple/cinnamon).

The particularly great part about this granola is it that it contains (dehydrated) bits of whole apples, with the skin on even! The apple bits are what makes this a super granola. The clusters with apple bit are especially tasty, a bit chewy and very apple yummy. The granola is a tiny bit on the sweet side (hence the “caramel” part of the name) but I don’t find it overly so, especially when I eat it with plain yogurt and milk which balances out the sweetness.

Its great as a snack on its own, when you get those big clusters of granola. Its super as a cold cereal. I haven’t tried it warm but the package suggests its good for that, and I have no doubt it wouldn’t be wonderful and smell great when served a bit warmed up. They recommend garnishing it with some fresh diced apple. I tried it with fresh apples and its even better with them. Also with dried cranberries, they match quite well.

So I give this granola a big RAVE and suggest its worth trying while you see it. A 12oz package is $3.49. The bag is resealable to keep it fresh and crunchy as long as possible. You might even buy a couple of bags while you can get keep a few in the pantry for the “off-season”. They should carry this year-round.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/caramel-apple-flavored-granola

RAVE


Trader Joe’s SAUERKRAUT with Persian cucumbers


SAUERKRAUT – German for “sour cabbage”

If like yours truly, you love sauerkraut then you will find that this TJ product is probably the best sauerkraut you ever tried. According to Trader Joe’s website they say even if you don’t like it now, this may change your mind about SAUERKRAUT. Now, that’s confidence in your product, huh?! Unlike commercially made mass-produced sauerkraut which is cooked and has vinegar added to it, this sauerkraut is a raw, fermented product. TJ says its made by a small batch producer in the traditional way, which is simply cabbage treated with salt, left to ferment for a period of time. So Old School. This is the real McCoy in Sauerkraut. It has pickled Persian cucumbers in it too, which are nice and add a little more crunch and variety. This Sauerkraut goes perfectly with hot dogs, of course, and sausages and would especially be great of course with the German made BAVARIAN BRATWURST previously reviewed, with a Rave. As we know now, fermented foods are very good for your digestive system, gut health and overall health in general. It’s considered healthy to eat something fermented on a regular or daily basis. A spoonful of this – or kimchi or kefir – and your gut will be aces.

Trader Joe’s Sauerkraut with Persian cucumbers is $3.99 for a 14 oz. container. Ingredients:, Cabbage, Persian Cucumbers, Salt, Garlic.

TJ Organic COLESLAW KIT


This is a super easy to prepare, organic Cole Slaw Kit. Just dump the contents into a bowl, fish out the packet of dressing, and squeeze it out and mix everything up together. That’s it, done.

With slaws its best if you do this at least an hour in advance (and keep in the fridge, to keep crisp). You could let it rest more, for 4 or 8 hours or even make it the night before. Everything will become all nice and cole-slaw-y when the cabbage has “pickled” a bit and the flavors meld together.

The package contains shredded green and red cabbage plus carrots, all organic. The organic dressing is a tangy, slightly sweet & sour dressing in the mayonnaise/ thousand island vein with lots of poppy seeds which add a nice flavor. Everything blends up well to make a nice, tasty fresh “homemade” cole slaw. Could you make this yourself easily with some cabbage, some carrots a hand shredder and some dressing? Of course, and I do many times during the summer especially, but if you don’t feel like doing “all that work” this kit makes it super easy. It doesn’t make a huge amount of cole slaw, about a pint of finished slaw after you let it sit for at least an hour when it will “shrink up” a bit as it marinates. A package is 10 oz and costs $2.69

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TJ’s ROSEMARY HAM


Trader Joe’s Sliced Rosemary Ham

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RAVE

Oh yeah this Good Stuff. Wonderful aroma, flavor and and truly excellent texture. I find this to be a superb, high quality, out-of-the ordinary sliced rosemary ham. It doesn’t say exactly where its produced so I imagine in the U.S. but to me somehow its got an Imported kind of taste and quality. The back of my mind says “Italy” but they would state that if it was true. I’m pleased to know WE can produce this quality too here at home! This is what I would call really good “adult ham”. Its not too salty nor sweet. Has just the right salinity and sweetness. Oven roasted with rosemary. ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS. MINIMALLY PROCESSED. No Nitrates, Nitrites, its cured with all natural, real ingredients on the label that you can recognize without a dictionary, such as : Sea salt, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar cane, and of course rosemary. You get a pronounced aroma of rosemary as soon as you open the package but the rosemary flavor does not overpower the flavor of the ham, it enhances it with a lovely little rosemary coating on the outside edges. Sliced super thin, it has a super tender, fall apart, melt in your mouth, texture. Probably cooked for a long time, low and slow. Its so tender and comes apart so easily into shreds that if you don’t want to rip a slice as you remove it, you will need to do it carefully.

I love this, its a really great TJ product. It’s a little more expensive than the other ham I usually buy (Black Forest) at TJ ($3 for 8 oz). This one is $3.29 for a 6 oz. package, which is 6 slices. But for this quality, a bit less than $9/lb for a sliced ham this good, is not untoward and certainly worth trying. I would imagine if you are having guests and put this out on a plate rolled up into little bites with a toothpick….you would get a lot of “hey where do you get this ham ?”

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TJ’s SWEET CHILI SAUCE


RAVE

Apparently this is one of Trader Joe’s most popular products, and not without good reason. This is absolutely one of my favorite TJ products and on my “always have in fridge” list. As the name says, this is a delicious sweet chili sauce, that is pretty much an exact copy of the traditional Chinese sweet and spicy chili sauce you can find at any Asian grocery. It’s both sweet and spicy but not crazy spicy, with a perfect balance of the two tastes plus garlic of course. This sauce is typically served with chicken in many Asian cuisines. I had been buying Chinese brands of this stuff for years whenever I went to a special Asian grocery or supermarket but now Trader Joe’s make a version of it so even more convenient, as we put this sauce on many things though its terrific with most any chicken. If you bought a store cooked rotisserie chicken for dinner, serving with this sauce will that roast chicken 10x as tasty. What else can you use it for. Really anything… Chicken sausages? Yes. Fish? Yes (in fact you can put some on top of almost finished broiled salmon and put it back for a minute for a sweet spicy glaze). Grilled pork. Sure! Eggs? Yes. Get it? Seriously I think there is little this would not be good on, except may ice cream.

Easy dipping sauce for dumplings: a few tables spoons of this sweet chili sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a little rice vinegar. Fresh grated ginger if you have it. Easy. Some extra garlic wouldn’t hurt either. Now you have a sauce for the pot sticker dumplings in the freezer. Dinner in 10 minutes.

A bottle used to sell for only $1.29. Last time I checked it went up to $1.49, still a bargain. I can’t live without this stuff. I always have a bottle in my fridge.

TJ’s Chile Spiced Dried Mango Slices


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RAVE

Ingredients: Dried mango slices, sugar, paprika, salt, citric acid, and cayenne. 

This is a “love it or hate it” item. The cashier at TJ’s might even ask if you’ve tried this already, and if not warn you. But you may just love these as much as I do. Really! These dried fruit snacks are amazing!  In fact its one of the best snack treats TJ sells as far as I’m concerned. Sweet and very spicy are great together and these are just fabulous. Imagine dried mango just covered with a spicy/sweet/salty/tangy red mix of chiles and spices (and when I say covered just look at the picture, they have a heavy coat of the red spice mix).

Also when I say spicy…these are quite spicy! With a fire in your mouth that hits you 30 seconds after you finish chewing it and are absorbing the sweetness of the mango. So, if you don’t like spicy and can’t handle the heat, this may not be for you. However if you do, you will probably find these to be a flavor bomb exploding in your mouth, totally drool worthy. For me these are totally addictive. I eat one piece and just can’t stop putting my hand in the bag to eat “just 1 more” getting that red spice powder all over my fingers. Whereas my wife, tasted these once and just thinks they’re horrible. So to each, his own.

In Mexico, and many other locales, of course something sweet with chile and spices are one of the most beloved of flavor mixes (See link: What is TAJIN and why you should be eating it). In the street, on every beach, even in New York in some neighborhoods, you will find Mexican fruit vendors selling freshly cut mango, melons, cucumbers and other things, that the vendor will season before giving it to you with a very spicy chile mix, then sprinkle lime juice all over it. This product is in that vein. So yes probably no middle ground with these snacks. You will either love them or hate them. But if you can take spice and heat and love to discover new flavors, I highly recommend trying these CHILE SPICED MANGO fruit snacks as you just may just find these as addictive as I do.

BTW, can you pair these with something? I tried these cut into small pieces with some jack cheese and cheddar cheese and I thought they went amazingly well together with cheese. So try and experiment. A 7 oz bag goes for about $2. Find this in the Dried Fruits section at TJ’s.

Of course the great thing about TJ’s is if you do hate them, after you try them, TJ will of course refund your money upon asking without a blink (use the refund to get the regular dried mango slices instead – you can’t take the heat wimp!)

MORE TO READ: GREAT NYT PIECE ON TAJIN

SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE


(NOTE : Sad to report this product was discontinued in May 2021 – RANT!!)

Trader Joe’s SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

If you are a fan of a traditional English orange marmalade, as I am, then you will probably enjoy this marmalade as much as I did.

TJ’s SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE is what you would call a proper English marmalade. Yes the label states that this is a “product of Canada” but think about that. Since Canada was once under English rule, clearly one of the decent things the Brits passed on to the Canadians was the How and Whys of making a nice English marmalade, along with this excellent recipe. Because this jar of marmalade is delicious.

Its made from Seville Oranges (aka Bitter Oranges) which are de rigeur for a proper marmalade. Its a thin-cut marmalade, having small bits of chopped peel with a good balance between the Seville orange peel, juice, pectin and sugar, and overall an good balance of the perfect combination of slightly bitter and sweet in a marmalade. Let’s call this jam for the adults. Not sure if kids will like it, but if yours do, consider them to have an “elevated palate”. That could get expensive when they grow up.

From the label: Seville Oranges are the backbone of a proper orange marmalade. The bright high-acid juice and the thick rough skin are transformed when cooked, becoming intense, yet balanced: the perfect topper for toast or scones (well put Trader Joe’s) 

AND ENGLISH MUFFINS (see pic)!

I ate this marmalade for breakfast this morning on a perfectly toasted TJ Classic English Muffin, along with a pat of good Irish Kerrygold butter and a nice dollop of this marmalade, along with my morning cappuccino. Very yummy and delicious and perfect together. All was right with the world, well at least till I finished my muffin. If you are a marmalade fan, this does the trick. A big jar, which is over 1 pound goes for $3.49, another Trader Joe’s great value.

RAVE

UPDATE (May 2021) SIGN IN STORE SAYS THIS IS BEING DISCONTINUED !!!

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