TJ’s CRISPY COOKIES with Belgian chocolate


Trader Joe’s CRISPY COOKIES filled with Belgian chocolate

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There are my new favorite cookies. They are just delicious, and frankly very addictive. I can tell you the whole box went quite fast chez nous ! Well, they are small and there are only 18 in a box. Though TJ’s CRISPY COOKIES cookies don’t have butter listed in the ingredients they taste very good and are delicious due to the fact they are so loaded with a thick layer of nice Belgian chocolate in the middle. The outside cookie complements the chocolate well and as you can see, the chocolate layer is as thick as the cookie. These cost $2.49 a box. I may have to buy 2 boxes at a time in future.

And hide one for myself!

TJ’s RED CHILI SCALLOPED CRACKERS


Trader Joe’s RED CHILE SCALLOPED CRACKERS

These are one of my favorite crackers TJ sells. Don’t be scared off trying these if you don’t get along with spicy, they have just a bare hint of spiciness. In fact these are delicious all around crackers. The are equally delicious on their own or with soup and especially are great and compliment anything you put on them: cheese, smoked fish, ham, salumi, any kind of dip, guac… They make an excellent base for hors d’oeuvres and would be great to add to a cheese or charcuterie board. A package is $1.99. Here’s what TJ has to say about them:

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/063277

TJ Fresh Mozzarella Log


I think I can get this review in just in time for End of Summer when one can get excellent tomatoes. The perfect thing to pair with some perfectly ripe, juicy farm fresh tomatoes is this Trader Joe’s Fresh Mozzarella Cheese. Unlike the firmer, drier “pizza” mozzarella, fresh mozzarella is a milky soft fresh cheese. Fresh mozzarella is perfect for pairing with tomatoes, basil and good virgin olive oil for a super easy and delicious classic: a “Caprese Salad” (Insalata Caprese) Caprese Salad is the simplest of Italian salads, with sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, dressed with olive oil. Like Pizza Margherita, it features the colors of the Italian flag: green, white, red.

This mozzarella is shaped as a log and is pre-sliced into rounds which makes this super convenient and easy. Open it, and put some mozz on a plate with sliced tomatoes. You can arrange them artistically, alternating tomato and round of cheese if you want to impress, but even just cutting the slices into quarters and tossing with cubed tomatoes is fine! Douse with some good extra virgen olive oil, of course! Sometimes I add a few capers and a little of the caper liquid. With some good bread you have a super easy dinner or lunch and a small slice of heaven ready in minutes -especially if you can find some great tomatoes. Serve this salad to guests and they will love it. And its also good of course just eaten as is, put on a cheese plate, or making a terrific sandwich.


A 1 lb package is $4.99, which for fresh mozzarella is as usual, a pretty good deal chez Trader Joes.

NO-RECIPE RECIPE CAPRESE SALAD (INSULATE CAPRESE): Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. Tear up a good number of fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them all over everything,  arranging the salad on a large, shallow plate or platter. Drizzle the salad with good extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. (OPTIONAL: some jarred capers with some of their juice, or a very small amount of a vinegar) Serve with a nice crusty bread.

(Post Summer) If you can’t get great tasting beefsteak tomatoes get the small cherry egg shaped Italian tomatoes Trader Joe’s carries. They are a little expensive but are really tasty, cut in half, and mix up with cut up mozzarella …..

RAVE

Trader Joe’s JERK-STYLE PLANTAIN CHIPS


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My newest “Love It” item at Trader Joe’s are their new spicy flavored JERK-STYLE PLANTAIN CHIPS.

Warning: SERIOUSLY SPICY (and SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS). No kidding. I mean mouth on fire level SPICY! You’ve been warned. Now taste these, if you dare.

I’ve always loved the regular Plantain Chips. They are one of the best products at Trader Joe’s. Only $1.69. Amazing snacks.

trader-joes-roasted-plantain-chips-6oz-pack-of-6-B005E7AY50-500x500

The Jerk-Style chips are the same delicious plantain chips but with lots of seasonings added to them. I’m talking highly spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasonings. They got that Jerk flavor kind of right on the nose with this spice mix blend:

Each individual Chip is covered in a generous dusting of jerk cooking-inspired herbs and spices, including allspice, garlic powder, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and ginger extract.

What you’ll likely notice above all other flavors, however, is the increasing heat of spicy red chili pepper powder. As you snack, the spice builds steadily (but not altogether overwhelmingly) to an exhilarating crescendo of heat, making it a perfect treat for the real spice fans out there (you know who you are.)

Try ’em if you can take the heat. Also, try them with some kind of dip to go with these chips (guacamole? hummus? greek yogurt and garlic? Tsastiki?) They were delicious even with just some greek yogurt that I dipped each chip in. The Greek yogurt of course tames down the heat.

Put out a dish full of these chips with some cold beers and I think you will be in heaven. They cost $1.79 a bag.

Buy both kinds of these chips, regular and the Jerk-Style. These spicy ones are for when you want your mouth to tingle with some major, spicy Jerk spices.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/jerkstyle-plantain-chips

TJ’s Chile Spiced Dried Mango Slices


chile_mango

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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

Trader Joe’s RICE CRACKER MEDLEY snacks


These are very tasty, very crunchy cracker type snacks. I would say these are one of my very top Trader Joe’s products. I usually buy a bag whenever I am there.

A favorite snack food in Japan are SENBEI (pronouced Sen-bay).

Senbei are a variety of snacks made from rice which is baked into a crunchy cracker and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. In Japan there are probably hundreds of kinds. I’ve been to special Senbei shops in Kyoto that are over 150 years old (the shop, not the snacks!)

These “Rice Crackers” that TJ sells are a mixed variety of typical Japanese Senbei snacks. The package says that they are Made in Thailand. If I didn’t see this I would swear these were made in Japan as they are exactly like Japanese Senbei, of which I am really fond of and have tasted plenty!

In the bag are a mixed variety of shapes and sizes as you can see in the photo here. There are both the flat cracker style ones, some short stick type ones, some plain and some coated with “nori” (seaweed). You don’t get more Japanese than these! There are even some of the typical spicy “Wasabi Peas” you probably have tasted, in this Rice Cracker Medley. Every different kind is tasty. My favorite ones are the biggest round crackers, which are a little thick and SUPER crunchy.  Trust me, when I say “super crunchy” you may not believe how “crunchy”, crunchy can be until you eat these. I’m talking LOUD, noises going off inside your head, you can barely hear, turn up the tv 10 notches, that crunchy, dig?

These rice crackers have a great deal of “umami“, the “5th flavor” that Japanese covet, and which every chef in America is currently interested in. These crackers go great with beer, they match well with cheese, or you can just eat them on their own. To me, they’re so good, I classify these as a “dangerous” TJ product – meaning a bag in my house can go really FAST between myself and my wife (who’s Japanese, aha!). I could almost eat a whole bag (but I don’t). If you try these you will probably also love them, and want to buy them every time you visit TJ’s. A bag costs $2.29, not a bad deal.

TJ’s Multigrain and Flaxseed Water Crackers


This looked worth a try the other day – and it was. This is a “healthy” cracker. Ingredients? Package states, “Whole Grain Flour (Wheat, Quinoa, Spelt, Millet, Kamut), Enriched Wheat Flour, Sunflower Oil, Whole Flaxseed, Salt, Sugar”. That looks pretty natural to me. Just about every healthy grain on the planet is in this cracker. So you don’t have to feel too bad eating these. The label states 4 crackers are 60 calories. Also not too shabby right?

Taste? Very good. They do NOT taste like cardboard, as some “healthy” products tend to. These taste great: Natural and fairly neutral as a “water cracker” should. Like “Carr’s”, which are the standard, but a bit more flavorful, no doubt due to the whole grains. They are a fine base for anything: cheese, dips, meats, etc, and yes I’ve eaten some on their own and I think they are better than Carr’s this way, which are way too bland for me. These are crisp and delicate but sturdy enough to support anything you top them with. These sell for a very good price too – well at the moment, TJ”s is now raising prices on a weekly basis! They are a great deal for $1.29!

A RAVE

TJ’s Sesame Sticks


TJ Sesame Stick snacks $2.29 (1 lb bag)

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I don’t know if these are a new item at Trader Joes’s or my store (NYC) just started to carry them. But after trying them once; there is now another item that I’ve “discovered”, which is on my Must Buy and the “Dangerously Addictive” list. Once you start eating these tasty crunchy sesame morsels its hard to put them down; Seriously I have to hide the bag from myself, lest a one pound bag mysteriously get emptied muy rapido.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call this a “recipe” but here is a great flavor combo: A Sesame Stick or two with a bite of your favorite TJ chocolate (mine, dark of course). Result is one outstandingly tasty treat; you know the salty,  sweet, tastes like a chocolate covered pretzel kind? Even more dangerous this way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Or just dip some into your favorite dip. I think they go good with Hummus.

Trader Joe’s Sesame Sticks $2.49, 1 pound bag; good deal. “All natural, no preservatives”

Have you tried these? What do you think?

TJ’s Roasted Seaweed Snacks


nori

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Wow these are good! But what is “Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack”? If you don’t have a clue, these are basically Japanese nori (seaweed dried into sheets) – actually these are “yaki” (roasted) nori, however I can tell these are not Japanese but the Korean version (and no doubt come from a Korean supplier). Korean ‘nori’ have other ingredients, such as sesame oil added which gives a wonderful aroma and nutty taste. They are also ‘looser’, more delicate and not as dense structurally as Japanese nori, so break apart very easily. Therefore they are harder to roll stuff up in, the way you would do with sushi for example. But I do find the Korean kind tastier. And these “Roasted Seaweed Snacks” are so delicious. Yes you can eat them as “snacks” as named; eaten like this, a package will vanish FAST! They are addictive. However they are good any way you would employ nori. I have made sushi hand-rolls with them (very carefully so they don’t fall apart). Fantastic.

A pack of these goes for the magical TJ price of 99 cents (and yes I’ve seen better prices for similar ones at Korean supermarkets but you might not have one of those near you) Its still not a bad deal at all as they give you a good number of these small square sheets.

Now I have read this is a “polarizing Trader Joe’s product” meaning you either love it or hate it. Huh? Me, I love them and would say if you haven’t tried these, pick up a pack and check them out for yourself. They are a “healthy snack”. As with so many TJ items, you may be instantly hooked and grab them every time you see them (and no I don’t get paid for this folks, or get free samples. I wish!) My local TJ’s is actually putting them right by the Checkout line… next to the chocolates! That must mean something!

Do as the Japanese do: Try making thin strips of them. Take 2 or 3 sheets. Cut into strips as thinly as you can. Sprinkle strips on top of…. well almost anything. They will add interesting flavors to: rice, salads, fish, chicken, meats…experiment! Try wrapping some food in them too, instead of bread or a taco (maybe two together for added strength?) I love them with “Spicy Tuna” and some sushi style rice. Put a sheet in your hand, top with some rice and top that with some Spicy Tuna. Gently fold into a tube and pop that tasty morsel into you mouth. Yum Yum Yum!

I found a very good post about them on this blog; take a look.

If you are want more information including the Nutrional Info, I found TJ’s product description for them online (PDF) – turns out I was right about guessing Korean origin.

Here’s what TJ’s has to say:

THE ROASTED SEAWEED SNACK STORY

It all started under the sea with an edible red algae (genus Porphyra), which is now commonly known as nori. Around the 8th century, evidence of nori surfaced in Japan as a type of culinary paste. It wasn’t until the Edo period (1603-1868) that sheets of nori were invented through a method of paper-making. Skip forward a few hundred years, and nori becomes a sensation across the globe—for sushi, snacking and seasoning. So Trader Joe’s knows, it’s now or nori. Our Roasted Seaweed Snack features nori from Korea that is roasted with a touch of oil (sesame & canola) and sea salt, then cut into strips. That’s it. It’s light, crunchy, ocean-salty and nuanced with an intriguing nutty flavor. It’s so good, it proves hard to keep in stock. Especially at 99¢ for a package.

UPDATE!

PS – I found this and had to add it…. this is hysterical!

“Korean flavored nori is increasingly popular in Japan, also as a topping for white rice. You could also eat flavored nori just on its own, but you should resist the urge to do it when in polite company: eating flavored nori as a snack is considered fairly vulgar (which doesn’t mean people don’t do it!)”

 see mid page about flavored nori ; original post:    http://kanakoskitchen.com/whatyouneed/seaweed/