TJ’s TUSCANO MARINARA SAUCE (discontinued)


“Trader Giotto’s” Low Fat Tuscan Marinara

RANT

Ode to yet another discontinued Trader Joe’s product, a classic rant about a very good Trader Joe’s product, which got discontinued!

Some people thought this was the best marinara sauce on the market. Many were bumbed to learn TJ’s Discontinued their favorite tomato sauce! The other day I happened to be clearing out my pantry and found I still had a can of this Marinara way in the back. I opened it and tasted it. Yes, this is, or should we say was, a terrific tomato sauce. For one thing it’s not smooth, it’s full of chunks of tomatoes like a homemade sauce you had put together yourself. Unlike the current jars of Marinara sauce that Trader Joe’s replace this with, which are puréed and smooth. I made a pasta dish using this Marinara Sauce, and the dish turned out great. I made a pizza with it too, which also turned out great. So yes, it’s a crime TJ’s got rid of this great and very useful sauce. So just posting this as a Rant, sorry, as you won’t be able to find this anymore at Trader Joe’s. Mind boggling. This was a great product. A least they still sell large 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. I always have some canned tomatoes in our pantry as well as tomato paste (can and/or tube) So if you are inclined to make your own sauce, which is not hard and I think is worth the little effort it takes, here’s an easy homemade Marinara sauce recipe from Natasha’s kitchen, link below.

TIP (1) IMO adding a tablespoon of tomato paste at the start will make it even better (2) If you double the recipe you will have a batch all made for another meal. You can freeze it.

Pizza from scratch; made using this terrific marinara sauce

TJ’s Nori Komi “FURIKAKE” Japanese Seasoning


Trader Joe’s FURIKAKE Japanese multi-purpose seasoning

PRODUCT OF JAPAN

“Furikake” is so typical in Japan you’ll probably see a jar next to the salt and pepper in any eatery as well as anyone’s home. Its a Japanese seasoning blend condiment of chopped dried nori (seaweed), sesame seeds and sometimes other flavors. Mostly a rice topping, one sprinkles furikake on top of plain rice to give extra flavor (umami) and make it more interesting. It’s delicious sprinkled on a bowl of rice. You can use it elsewhere too. Sprinkle this on rice, on fish, meats, on top of eggs, noodles, or a bowl or ramen. This is why Trader Joe’s calls its a “multi-purpose seasoning”. Trader Joe’s Nori Komi Furikake is a basic simple version. In Japan, there are lots of kinds of furikake with different flavors (dried salmon and other fish, etc) As you can see here

https://amzn.to/3HSE1V6

Got “nothing to eat” in the house? If you have some Asian rice; an egg and FURIKAKE you can have a easy and tasty meal. Top a bowl of hot rice with a fried egg, and sprinkle a liberal amount of Nori Komi Furikake over everything. Mix it all up with a spoon. YUM. DINNER.

Trader Joe’s Nori Komi Furikake contains: white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, nori (seaweed), salt and kelp powder (more seaweed!). Seaweed of course contains glutamates which gives food “umami”. Personally I have to have this in our pantry at all times. A jar will last some time. You’ll find it in TJ’s spice section. This is worth trying.

A jar is $2.49. At a Japanese grocery it would be twice that.

PRODUCT OF JAPAN

Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Coconut BODY OIL


Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Coconut Body Oil with Almond and Jojoba Oils

Wonderful smell of lemongrass. Very light and not greasy, easily absorbed into skin. Can even be used on hair too. I find it good for keeping my curly hair curly. 4.8 oz bottle, $3.99

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 PECAN PRALINE GRANOLA


This is one of the granola’s I get a Trader Joe’s. I’m still upset my old go-to granola (Coconut Cranberry Granola) was discontinued (argh!!) a few years ago. The Pecan Praline granola is pretty good and now my Go-To general granola for breakfast. If you look at the closeup of the granola you can see it’s not loaded with large pieces of pecans, they are more mixed in as “praline” perhaps. When I want lots of nuts, I just top my cereal with a little Grainless Granola. This Pecan Praline granola’s a wee bit on the sweet side but not overly so. When I add my plain yogurt or unsweetened almond milk on it, it all balances out just fine. A 1 lb bag goes for about $3.50. I assume this is GLUTEN FREE, as it’s just oats. Whole Grain.

Trader Joe’s recipe idea: Smoked Salmon on Potato Pancakes


Hardly a “recipe” just putting out an idea how putting two or three TJ products together is any easy way to come up with something good.

For New Year’s Eve I had the idea for a “Russian inspired” thing: Smoked Salmon with Potato Pancakes – instead of blinis. The combo turned out just as delicious as I hoped and we really enjoyed these as a super easy special holiday meal – however you can make them any old day!

I took a package of Trader Joe’s Latkes / Potato Pancakes and Smoked Salmon and OK instead of sour cream I actually used Greek yogurt to save a few calories. Of course a Russian would use lots of Sour Cream, calories be damned, plus fresh dill. To put the dish together all I had to do to was cook the frozen Potato Pancakes till crispy in an frying pan, then topped them with a good amount of smoked salmon and topped that with a spoon of Greek yogurt. Better with sour cream sure, up to you. Sprinkle some fresh dill on if possible plus a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Voila, it took about 5 minutes until they were ready to serve as a dinner with salad and roasted beets on the side. Easy as pie to “make” and really yummy, so try this if it sounds good to you. You could make this as an appetizer for a few guests in minutes and make a big splash with almost no work except assembling the ingredients. Now I was hardly the only one shopping thinking about Smoked Salmon early afternoon of New Years Eve. Trade Joe’s whole section with smoked salmon was completely sold out except for a few packs of this Nova Salmon! The Nova was a wee bit saltier than some other versions they sell, but as fine with the creamy sour cream / yogurt as it it all balanced out. The next time I make these I will probably opt for the Everything Salmon.

Trader Joe’s (frozen) Potato Pancakes Latkes are $2.69 for 10 little pancakes. I think the Nova was about $9 for 8 oz package.

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

Trader Joe’s Brazilian CHEESE BREAD (frozen)


TJ’s Brazilian Style Cheese Rolls / Bread – with tapioca flour and Parmesan cheese. Thin crisp exterior with a chewy cheesy center. (Frozen) Gluten Free

RAVE

From the package: “In every food culture, there is bread. And it is good. In Brazilian food culture, there is Cheese Bread, and it is very good. In your hands is our iteration of traditional Brazilian cheese bread, known as “Pao de Queijo”. These golden rolls are crafted with tapioca flour and Parmesan cheese, and deliver a subtly cheesy, mildly salty flavor, with just a hint of pepper. Like their South American inspiration, these gluten free rolls are softly crunchy outside, and airy and chewy inside. Pao De Queijo make excellent dinner rolls and delicious anytime snacks”

Wow are these delicious! If you never had tried these, you have to give them a taste. I have had Brazilian friends who introduced me years ago to the glorious little baked rolls called “Pao de Queijo (Cheese Bread) in Portuguese. Trader Joe’s now carries them frozen. To enjoy them, you only have to heat them. They can be ready in 6 minutes (though it took about 10 in my oven actually). We made and ate them last night and served them to our guest, who just loved them and devoured many. To be honest they were so tasty we couldn’t stop eating them.

Super chewy and delicious, moist and cheesy on the inside. While they are delicious As-Is, I suggest you try eating these the way Brazilians sometimes eat them : cut them open and put a slice of cheese in the middle (and / or ham) to make a little mini sandwich. TIP: take them out of the oven after about five minutes, slice it open and put a slice of cheese inside then put it back in the oven to melt. Heavenly!

I dare you to just eat one of these. It’s impossible… they are so delicious you will easily want three (or four!) A package with 12 rolls is about $4. Heating Instructions: Preheat oven to 350. Place bread on baking sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes.

As they are made from tapioca flour these are naturally GLUTEN FREE. Ingredients: Tapioca flour, milk, Parmesan cheese, oil, egg, water, salt, pepper

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 JAPCHAE Korean Glass Noodles with Vegetables


Trader Joe’s Frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables stir fry

I had read about this new TJ Korean offering. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I’ve been waiting for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our store here. When I made it I was pretty impressed. Indeed it is good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it the seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” that she approved it’s taste as authentically Korean. Package says it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato called glass or cellophane noodles. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a very tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to heat and eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. It went with our dinner of potsticker dumplings (which were a great combo together!) We really enjoyed the dumplings and noodle dish together with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. You can improve the taste with an extra dash of toasted sesame oil. This dish is not spicy, so you can add something if you want spicy. One can “beef this up” by adding some protein to the noodles and veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Of course you could add or top this when serving with grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you.

We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: SODIUM CONTENT (Salt)! If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

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