Trader Joe’s SLICED KOREAN RICE CAKES


Here’s another new Korean/Asian item from Trader Joe’s. These are flat oval shaped disks made from sticky rice, so are very chewy and soft. These kind of rice cakes are a typical ingredient in Chinese, Korean and other Asian cuisines. In Chinese cooking they are known as “nian gao”. If you fry them they get a little crispy, which is how I like them best and the way you should use these. The bag has just the rice cakes (no sauce) to make however you like, typically made into a stir fried dish with vegetables and a protein. There is a basic stir fry recipe on the bag for Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Vegetables. which you could expand upon with adding a protein (say chicken, shrimp, pork or baked tofu.) Tip: add garlic which this recipe omits( !) You could come up with a Korean stir fry variation by adding some Kimchi and pork or chicken. The rice cakes are $3.29 a one pound and are in the frozen section. They are a “Product of Korea”. VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE

Here’s another recipe for Chinese Stir Fried Rice Cakes.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/sliced-korean-rice-cakes-074566

Trader Joe’s GINGER DRINK MIX


I make GINGER TEA (just boil ginger in water) and really like that. This tastes pretty much exactly like that. So while cheaper to make it yourself of course, my wife really liked this Ginger Drink Mix both for the convenience and taste, so she’s buying this regularly now. It’s $2.99 (7 packets). Dissolve with 12 oz water hot or cold. Product Of Thailand.

Want to make it yourself for way less ? Here’s my ginger tea “recipe”. Take about 1″ or so of fresh ginger. Slice it up and put in a pot with about 2 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes or so. Add sugar if desired. Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s ROASTED TOMATILLO SALSA VERDE


You will find Trader Joe’s FRESH SALSA VERDE in the refrigerated section, and it’s quite good. If you are just used to tomato based (red) salsas and you want to try something a little bit different for your Mexican dishes, a Salsa Verde like this is a great variation to try out. This salsa is made primarily from roasted tomatillos. Tomatillo based green salsas are very typical in Mexico, and frequently one will find both a red and green salsa next to each other for the diner to choose from. Though they slightly resemble a green tomato, in fact tomatillos are at best distant cousins to tomatoes. The tomatillo is a unique green fruit native to Mexico which were around for a thousand years or more way before the tomato was even brought by the Spanish Conquistadors (after 1500). Tomatillos are covered with papery skins, which is also pretty unique.

This Salsa Verde also has jalapenos, green chili pureé, roasted red onion, cilantro and cumin in it for a an authentic Mexican flavor.. I liked this salsa. Its not very spicy. I find it somewhere around “Medium” in the heat department so may be good for those who don’t like Really Spicy Stuff but want some great flavors. I tried it on some pork carnitas tacos and it was great with them, bringing out the pork and enhancing it perfectly. Its was also great on eggs, either on top of a fried egg or an omelet or scrambled eggs. This is great on fish, shrimp, beef, pork or chicken. I had some leftover roasted chicken which was a little dry. We just put some of this salsa over the chicken and and Voila, it made the chicken worth eating again. I have a feeling it would even be good with some grilled Tofu or just on top of rice or a protein bowl. This salsa verde goes for $2.99 for a 12 oz tub. I would buy this again.

PS – one reader likes using this to make an easy version of Green Pozole, which sounds great.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: IVY WREATH with lights


I think there’s something about buying a living plant against cut flowers or trees that won’t last. So instead of buying a wreath to hang on the door, which will just last a few weeks, this live ivy plant trained into a wreath shape will keep going all year round, as long as you water it. So while you can’t hang it on your door of course you could put this wreath shaped plant in a window with it’s blinking lights, or perhaps on a table as the centerpiece for a holiday decoration. The ones I saw at TJ’s the other day looked very healthy to me. Ivy can last forever if you take care of it. Could even be a Gift? Come with a little bag which has a short sting with about a dozen small white LED lights (takes 3 AA batteries). You can save this LED light string and use it over and over again, like I have. $12.99

“Keep soil evenly moist, partial to full sun”

Trader Joe’s DRIED ORANGE SLICES


Trader Joe’s Sweetened Dried Orange Slices

“Exactly what the name implies. Very sweet orange slices which are full of wonderful citrus flavor. You can eat the whole slice, rind and all.”

Personally I think these are a terrific little snack with an old world taste and esthetic. I just love these. They are whole slices of orange including the rind and the peel (but no pits) which are sweetened and dried to be slightly chewy. They have a wonderfully intense orange flavor which includes a slightest bitterness from the peel. These are so good I could eat the whole package at once but I usually stop myself at around 3 slices. OK maybe 4. They’re $1.99 a package which is just over 5 oz. “Product of Thailand”.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced PUMPKIN SEEDS (Fall Item)


There are some Fall items that are misses and some that are hits. This is a HIT for me. These are really good. I love them and everybody I offered them too liked them. The added spices and coating is not cloying, it’s just enough but not too much so you still taste pumpkin seeds, and they are really crunchy and tasty (they have butter). $2.99 for 8 oz.

The Pumpkin Greek Yogurt however was a big Miss for me; Didn’t like that taste at all. I would not buy that again.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC FROZEN SPINACH (with garlic spinach recipe hack)


It may seem a little silly for me to review frozen spinach but here goes anyway because it’s actually something I buy all the time from Trader Joe’s (along with frozen peas!) TJ’s frozen spinach is easy, healthy, tasty and super convenient to have in the freezer. Plus it’s one of TJ’s best bargains for just $1.99 for a pound in the organic version and $1.49 for the regular version.

At the risk of heresy there are a few vegetables which I propose are actually better frozen than fresh. Really. One is frozen peas. The other is frozen spinach. While I love fresh raw spinach, the reality is it’s a pain. Spinach is very dirty and sandy. You must it like crazy 3 or 4 times to get rid of all the grit in every nook and cranny. Then you start with what looks like an enormous amount, raw. You can fill the biggest pot you own with it to the brim, and that shrinks up into almost what looks like just enough for one person. It really shrinks up in cooking. All of these are reasons I find frozen spinach easier than fresh spinach.

RECIPE HACK – a two ingredient Trader Joe’s recipe hack I came up with for spinach with TJ’s Garlic Spread – which are so good together and takes minutes! SPINACH IN GARLIC – Put the spinach in a pot with a teaspoon of olive oil or butter (or 50/50 mix). Cook on medium till it’s just cooked but still bright green (don’t overcook it) then add a heaping tablespoon or two of TJ’s Garlic Spread and mix it together. Give it a grind of fresh black pepper, taste it and if it needs it, add a pinch of salt (as the Garlic Spread has some salt). Optionally give it a squeeze of fresh lemon. This garlicy creamy spinach combo is absolutely delish. You can even mix in noodles to this for an instant dish.

Spinach omelet – make the above and toss the spinach in the middle. Yum!

Spinach rice: Cook Basmati rice. Cook some spinach. Mix the two together when done with some Greek yogurt. Season to taste.

TJ’s organic spinach is $1.99. The regular spinach is even less only ($1.49). Either is a bargain and is a great thing to always have in your freezer. So eat your Spinach! It’s healthy – it’s what made Popeye so strong.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: Jalapeños, 29 cents each


I like that you don’t have to buy a whole package now. Sometimes when I have a package of jalapeños in the fridge, often I don’t use them up quickly enough and they start to get old, then go bad and I end up throwing them out. So this is better by the piece for 29 cents each. Naturally I will grab the biggest, freshest one I can find in the bunch to get the best bang for my buck (er, 29 cents). In fact, other than a banana I think this one of the cheapest items you can buy at Trader Joe’s, right?

Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD / DIP (with Spinach recipe hack)


This has become one of my favorite items at Trader Joe’s! If you love garlic as much as I do, you too will love thier “GARLIC SPREAD DIP” . It’s great and has become yet one more TJ’s must have item I have to always have in the fridge now. I think of it as much as an ingredient as a “spread”. You can add a spoon of this to a dish to give things an immediate flavor boost, almost like you would fresh garlic. I put this in mashed potatoes, spinach, pasta, hummus…. It’s so versatile. It makes a great spinach dish. I came up with a super quick recipe hack using just 2 things: frozen) spinach and this stuff. See my “recipe”below.

Quite a few countries have some type of garlic spread like this. In Lebanese cooking, they have the garlic spread called “Toum” (and basically TJ’s spread is Toum). In Greece, they have a spread called “Skordalia” made from garlic, olive oil and potato. In the South of France they have the yummy yellow garlicky mayonnaise called, “Aioli” famously served on toasted baguette slices alongside Bouillabaisse. Mashed garlic acts as an emulsifier with oil to make a spread. Trader Joe’s version like Lebanese toum is an emulsified paste of garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt, traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. They did not skimp on garlic. TJ’s GARLIC SPREAD is so garlicky it’s not funny. True garlic lovers will want to try this on everything. So what can you use this Garlic Spread on? To start with just try it on thin slices of toasted baguette, which will be match well with a salad or soup like croutons or garlic bread. This stuff is especially good for any pasta dish. Just toss in a spoonful into your finished pasta, especially tomato pasta (PESTO ROSSO? Add some of this to jazz it up! Use this instead of butter for cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Put a little into your tuna or egg salad. Eggs, try some in an Omelet for some kick. Salmon or other fish, for sure. I’ve found it’s fantastic in mashed potatoes to jazz them up. Almost any vegetable dish will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this vegan garlic spread, so it’s ideal for vegans and vegetarians as well as us non-vegetarians. It was amazing on the CHICKEN SHAWARMA. Greek yogurt plus some of this spread makes and instant super easy tasty sauce. Here’s a recipe I came up with using spinach. This is a great tasting spinach dish in under 2 minutes.

SPINACH WITH GARLIC SPREAD RECIPE – Two ingredients: frozen spinach and garlic spread. Toss the spinach in a pan with a little olive oil (or butter) and cook for a few minutes till done (keep it bright green!) then add in a nice heaping tablespoon of this Garlic Spread and mix. Fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt if needed. DONE. It will look a little bit creamy and taste absolutely delish. If you want squeeze on a few more sprinkles of fresh lemon.

In fact most vegetable dishes will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this VEGAN spread, so it’s ideal for vegans / vegetarians to give a enormous flavor boost to most things. One thing to remember, it does have calories. It’s mostly oil, like mayonnaise. 2 Tbls have about 150 calories. Its $2.99. GREAT ITEM! I would buy this again

Trader Joe’s COWBOY CAVIAR (corn & black bean salsa)


“Corn, black bean and pepper salsa. Smoky sweet with just the right amount of kick” – Trader Joe’s

This is a must try, if you never had it. Both my wife and I really, really love this terrific salsa. We both even think it could be a pick for a TJ’s Top Ten.

“Cowboy Caviar” – You gotta love that name. “Cowboy Caviar” is a typical South Western dish made with kernels of corn, beans (black beans and/or black eyed peas) in a tomato base. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar is a great version, maybe more in a salsa style with corn, black beans, red bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, lime juice and spices, with some kick to it, from chipotle chiles in adobe which give it a bit of heat plus a smoky undertone. TJ’s doesnt have the heat level rating on the jar. Call it a medium heat? This stuff is soooo good as a salsa, as a dip for chips, like the Corn Dippers, on top of tacos, on top of rice, with eggs, mixed into veggies, alongside grilled chicken, or as a little side dish…. you name it, I think it will perk it up. Its a really good pantry item to have on hand. You can put out some of this with chips or crackers and you can have something in a few seconds for unexpected guests. A jar now goes for $2.99 (13 oz)

I would buy it again.

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