TJ’s TRAIL MIX CRACKERS


Trader Joe’s Trail Mix Crackers with mung beans, seeds, cashews, raisin, and cheese.

OMG. Crispy, crunchy, nutty, cheesy, raisin-y, sweet and salty… Just outstanding and a very original cracker. Each cracker supposedly is fixed up by hand, to place a cashew nut on it. These are seriously delicious. So much so that I promise you they will go fast, they just seemed to evaporate into thin air (ok more like your mouth). Plus you don’t get that many in a bag, so a little expensive, but very wonderful. Oh, and while delicious as-is right out of the bag there is no law that says you can’t top these with something to boot…like maybe a thin slice of CHEDDAR? Some peanut butter perhaps? About $2.50 a bag (4.5 oz).

TJ SAYS https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/065411

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.

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 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?). Grinding this coffee will release an intense aroma. Another dark roast coffee option at TJ is the very good CAFE PAJARO.

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 a bit pricey. (note: cups in this case refers to tiny espresso cup 2-3 oz) I like the “9 cup” Moka Pots for doing Cafe Con Leche for 2.

https://amzn.to/3p9W2rW

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

TJ’s Italian Style Meatballs


Trader Griotto’s Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs (freezer)

Were these TJ’s cooked meatballs anywhere as good as if my made my own homemade meatballs – which in all modesty are pretty good? Of course not, nor would I expect them to taste like home cooking. Never the less these meatballs were actually pretty tasty, and we enjoyed them for dinner so it might be worth your giving them a try.

The dish I made with these all beef meatballs turned out quite tasty. I made my own sauce, a really quick & easy tomato sauce (big tablespoon of tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion, can of diced tomatoes, pecorino cheese and fresh basil). I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to get them imbued with the flavor of the sauce. They turned out well except, my one small complaint about them, a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly though it may be my fault. I don’t know if this was due to my method of defrosting them (or lack thereof in this case). I confess I rushed it. I didn’t thaw them in the fridge as I would normally have done and always recommend. This was kind of a last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly warm them and defrost them in the sauce. So I am wondering if perhaps this is why they were slightly rubbery. Anyway I served the meatballs with the sauce and some of that fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found at TJ and we did kind of a “meatball sub” thing with them. It was actually delicious. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce which was quite tasty. So my take is these are pretty good and worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (put in fridge night before) which I promise myself I will do next time. Also I will brown the thawed meatballs even more first before cooking them in sauce in good olive oil. I recommend one definitely simmer them in a sauce for a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag when I got them.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add sliced garlic and diced onion and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally till translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get everything. Simmer on low 30-40 minutes, with the thawed meatballs. Add Italian Seasonings. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parm, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta or bread for a meatball hero.

TJ’s Rosemary Sfoliette Italian Crackers


Trader Joe’s ROSEMARY SFOGLIETTE, Thin and Crunchy, Italian Rosemary Crackers

Not too fancy, a bit even on the plain side which is sometimes just what you want in a cracker to set up whatever topping you are putting on the cracker. I really like these. Product of Italy. Delicate rosemary flavor. Top these with TJ’s Rosemary Ham and a slice of Rosemary Asiago cheese and I don’t know about you but that puts me in heaven. A bargain too at $1.69 a package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070151

“Our Italian supplier makes thin, hexagonal biscuits using wheat and rice flours, along with a combination of olive and sunflower oils. The crackers are seasoned with dried rosemary & sea salt and baked until they possess the ideal crunch. They’re thin and crisp, but not overly fragile. And they present the wonderful aroma and flavors of rosemary and olive oil. As you could imagine, Rosemary Sfogliette make great snack crackers—with or without cheese. They’re also a formidable companion for your favorite bowl of soup!”

TJ’s Indian Fare (pouch) Yellow TADKA DAL


Trader Joe’s INDIAN FARE YELLOW TADKA DAL is “A savory, creamy and spicy blend of lentils and spices” (PRODUCT OF INDIA)

Trader Joe’s has quite a bit of Indian foods on offer, some in the frozen foods section as well as some non-frozen ones too, such as this line of Indian dishes which comes in pouches. Some of these I’ve tried are really good, especially this one, TADKA DAL.

We ate this TADKA DAL last night and I have to say I found it surprisingly tasty, I’m mean as in “This tastes like it came from an Indian restaurant” level good. This Tadka Dal was very flavorful and nicely spiced with a wee bit of heat going on. I put it in a pan on top of the stove (they suggest heating in hot water). If you serve this dal with a few other things, you have a nice easy dinner… We had this with another dish plus cooked Basmati rice, some Garlic Naan, Mango Chutney and a salad (TJ’s has a new Indian condiment, “Garlic Achar” which I want to try) If you add at least one other dish to the Dal such as TJ’s CHANNA MASALA you can have an easy and quite tasty pretty authentic Indian dinner.

These TJ’s “Indian Fare” products come in sealed plastic pouches, which are are shelf stable and are not a bad deal at about $2 each (10 oz bags) I find these pouches of Indian dishes are great things to have in the pantry for whenever we’re in the mood for Indian food, or come home and don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to order out.

I have not tried all of these Indian Fare pouches but there are a few varieties on offer. This Tadka Dal one is excellent and worth your giving it a try. By the way, in case you want to know what “Tadka” refers to: Tadka translates as “tempering.” It is a method widely used in Indian cuisine, in which whole or ground spices are heated in hot oil or ghee and the mixture is added to a dish.

TADKA DAL: ingredients include yellow split peas, butter, oil, tomato, chili pepper, salt, cumin, onion, curry leaves, yest, mustard see, tumeric…. The Sodium level listed is a bit high, so compensate for that with other dishes (such as using less salt to make your rice)

VEGETARIAN, GLUTEN FREE

TJ’s Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce


“A creamy, cheesy pasta sauce made wth Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper”

Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe pasta sauce has been getting a lot of buzz since they released it, so I had to give it a try. You know what? It is pretty good. I made a fettucine cacio e pepe with it which turned out to be quite tasty. Making a cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) pasta dish with this could not be easier, basically cook your pasta, open the jar and combine things. The sauce right out of the jar is really thick. A few spoons go a long way, meaning obviously you would not use this whole jar to make say 2 or even 4 portions of pasta. The Nutrition label suggests a jar makes 7 servings. My suggestion is basically use a nice huge heaping 2 tablespoons of sauce per portion of pasta, which you will thin a bit with some of the pasta cooking water later to get a consistency you like to coat the pasta.

TIP: I suggest making this with one of TJ’s excellent Artisan Pasta varieties (spaghetti , fettuccine, radiatore…) Of course shaped pastas, like ziti, are wonderful as well with this type of creamy sauce. You could even do a pan fried Gnocchi.

Cook your pasta, slightly less than al dente, then drain it (saving a 1/2 cup water). Finish your al dente pasta in a pan with a little saved pasta water and a nice grind of black pepper, and add the cacio e pepe sauce, mixing it up a nicely with tongs to coat the pasta, adding a few tablespoons of pasta water as needed, get it to your desired consistency and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.

Naturally they are saving a bit on some ingredients, for example this contains sunflower oil not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix it up so when you plate it. When you serve, grate a nice hit of fresh Pecorino on top, a bit of freshly ground pepper, and if you like a drizzle of your best EVOO. I even put a wee bit of chopped arugula for color (a Roman would protest any addition to the 2 ingredients). If you wanted to put some grated Parmigiano or Grana, they could be delicious additions but again I would not tell your Roman friend about it.

NOTE: be sure to have a block of Pecorino cheese to grate on top as well as fresh ground black or rainbow peppercorns. These fresh items to finish really make this dish.

It says once the jar is opened, refrigerate it and use it up within 3 days. I didn’t want to have it again so soon, so I figured I would just put the jar in the freezer. The following week I did an overnight defrost in the fridge and that seemed to work fine. Naturally you can do other things with this sauce besides using it on pasta. You could use some on vegetables (brussel sprouts, potatoes?) and even mix some into scrambled eggs….?

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070650

Having said this I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is basically two ingredients (Pecorino cheese and Black Pepper) and that’s where the magic happens getting it to emulsify (and not become gloppy). You may have to make it a few times to get the hang of it but once you do, you will really get a great deal of pleasure from making it yourself no doubt. I liked this guy’s take on making it (tip don’t use very hot water to mix with the grated cheese to make the emulsion though and don’t let the cheese boil, just get it warmed up so it doesn’t break) TIP: A few teaspoons of a corn starch slurry makes this foolproof BTW. In fact the Trader Joe Cacio e Pepe sauce incorporates corn starch.

A 14.5 oz jar of TJ’s Cacio e Pepe sauce costs $3.50.

If you get into Cacio E Pepe and want to try to make the sauce yourself yourself, watch these two pro’s, absorb some of their ideas and I bet you will end up with a terrific authentic Cacio e Pepe.

TJ’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers


RAVE

Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers have the delectable flavor of Mexican Street Corn in a crispy snack….chipotle, habanero kick, smoky, spicy, heat…. Melt cheese over them for a punchy nacho, crumble atop scrambled eggs… Guacamole….” (from the package)

Terrific product. These may be the best chips Trader Joe’s sells. Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers are a spiced version of the also excellent regular plain Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers. For this “Elote” version of the chips they add a lot of spices to them. for a spicy delicious version that recalls Mexican Street Corn (Elote) and these are so good, that in fact these may be the best chips that Trader Joe’s sells.

These are really flavorful and honestly they are pretty spicy* just eaten on their own. If you don’t eat these with something (say guacamole, dip, cheese….) trust me your mouth will probably be a little bit on fire from the chipotle and habanero pepper seasonings but not crazy on fire, a quite tolerable fire unless you’re really spicy-adverse. Naturally just like the plain versions, the shape of these thicker “dipper” shaped corn chips make them perfect to stand up to any dip of any kind without falling apart.

These match especially well eaten with other things, especially guacamole of course or even just salsa. I even sometimes enjoy eating these Elote Chips with something plain and boring like for example cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, which balances the spices out. You can even crumble these up and put them on things (they suggest atop scramble eggs, that should be great) If you just put grated cheese all over these for nachos you wouldn’t need any other spices, so I think these could make super easy nachos And naturally some beers will go great with these chips, to put out the fire in your mouth.

The Elote spice dippers costs a little more than the plain version of TJ’s Organic Corn Dippers (I think gone up to $2.99 now?)

UPDATE: * These don’t seem to be quite as spicy as they were before. I can’t tell if they’ve changed the recipe or maybe just the lot I got… (if anyone has ideas on this, please leave a comment) I have had a lot of experiences with some Trader Joe’s products I first tried getting “toned down” over time.

TJ’s Pain De Campagne (country bread loaf)


Trader Joe’s Pain De Campagne (French Country Bread) – Minimalist packaging huh? But trust me, if you see this bread, grab it. It’s delicious. In a bakery I’m thinking this would sell for about 6 or 7 bucks? Trader Joe’s had it for about $2.80 for just over a 1 lb. piece.

Ingredients include: Water, Unbleached Unbromated Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Rye Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Dark Beer…. We are talking serious bread folks, good bakery bread. Naturally this will greatly benefit from being refreshed with a baking or toasting in the oven for 10 minutes to get it crusty again.

I do find it pretty funny they write on the package: “Contains Wheat. May Also Contain Gluten”.

TJ’s Indian Masala Simmer Sauce


Trader Joe’s Indian Masala Simmer Sauce makes a wonderful base for authentic Indian meals.
Masala Simmer Sauce is a Indian style spiced tomato-based sauce which can be used as the main sauce component to easily make a tasty Indian inspired dish that could come together in as little as 15-20 minutes. We made a very tasty Indian style stewed dish with chicken and vegetables using this sauce that was really tasty. We served it with basmati rice and Naan and some chutney. The sauce is concentrated so you can thin it with water as they suggest (TIP: after emptying the jar into the pot just half-fill it with 8 oz of water, shake it up and pour that into your pot). Or if you want to make a coconut milk version use 8 oz of coconut milk instead of water. I haven’t done that yet but I’m sure that would make a wonderful dish. The spices in the simmer sauce include pureed ginger, tumeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper, cinnamon and clove, which combine perfectly with the tomato. Naturally there’s nothing stopping you from adding some more spices, and I’m in that camp. I had added additional chopped ginger and fresh garlic plus a 1/2 chopped onion which I browned up first in some ghee (butter) before adding this simmer sauce. As they suggest on the label, this works very well to make a stewed dish with boneless chicken, either breast or thigh meat (or even tastier might be chicken on the bone which one would cook 20 minutes more). Add in some frozen veggies (peas, or haricot vert green beans, or edamame) during the last five minutes if you like. Serve the finished dish with basmati rice and some Naan for getting all that delicious sauce. We ate this with TJ’s MANGO GINGER CHUTNEY which matched beautifully. Of course one can make this strictly vegan or vegetarian. Just use either tofu and/or just vegetables (veggies, plus beans for protein like chick peas or lentils….)

TJ”s MASALA SIMMER SAUCE can be the base of a very tasty dish. A 15 oz jar was $2.69.

Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar


FAIR TRADE. CERTIFIED ORGANIC. ALL NATURAL. LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX

“Made from the nectar of the coconut palm tree flower”

I really like this organic coconut palm sugar sold at TJ’s under the original brand “Wholesome”.

For one thing it tastes amazing in my morning coffee, that is my Moka pot, Cafe con Leche (#mokapotlover).

https://www.seriouseats.com/moka-pot-cheap-espresso-alternative

This coconut palm sugar is a brownish fine granulated sugar. It has its own distinctive taste which is quite delicious and a bit different from brown cane sugar. I’ve switched to this coconunt palm sugar especially for coffee, as it just adds a little something, a very nice subtle flavor. Plus using it on my yogurt too, just a little sprinkling is excellent. This is also excellent in any Asian recipe which calls for sugar, which most do.

It’s good stuff! I see people saying how this is “low glycemic” compared I think to cane sugar, but I don’t know much about that honestly. TJ sells this palm sugar for 3.99 a one pound bag (cheaper than the company sells it for directly) LINK BELOW TO “WHOLESOME” WEBSITE WITH MORE INFO

“Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is a rich, unrefined brown sugar that makes an ideal substitute for conventional brown and white sugar. Beyond baking, it’s an excellent choice for sweetening your preferred coffee, preparing sauces and perfecting your favorite Asian dishes, all thanks to its rich molasses taste and caramel overtones.

Made with Care
Contrary to its name, this sugar doesn’t actually come from a coconut, nor does it remotely taste like coconut. The brown sugar’s rich caramel flavor is produced by tapping the sweet nectar from the tropical coconut palm tree flower (a process that’s similar to how maple trees are tapped for maple syrup production).  The nutrient-rich juice is dried in a large open kettle drum and condensed into a delicious whole brown sugar. A natural sugar substitute for baking, this organic product will add depths of flavor to all your favorite recipes.”

RECIPES HERE ON WHOLESOME’S SITE

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