Trader Joe’s Pita Chips; Parmesan, Garlic, Herb


tj_pitachips_1Trader Joe’s Pita Chips

(Parmesan, Garlic, and Herb flavor)

RAVE

These are are one of those “Wow, these are so amazing!” TJ’s products you buy once to try and instantly fall in love with. The kind you put into, “I should have these on hand at all times” category.

Cut quite thick, and baked – these chips are SERIOUSLY, majorly crunchy!. They’re so savory and full of massive amounts of flavor that you might devour the whole bag in a sitting. The buzz word these days in food is Umami. Parmesan is known to have lots of Umami. That must be a) why they are so tasty and b) why when I eat these, even my cat runs over, cries, and tries to grab them out of my hand (really, she goes nuts for these).

They have a bold parmesan and herb taste, and again are quite crunchy. When I say crunchy, I mean so crunchy if you were watching TV and eating these you would have to turn the sound way up just to hear it over all the major noise and crunchy goodness going on in your mouth.

They are thick enough so could they be wonderful with salsa or a dip and be guaranteed not to break like normal chips might. But the truth is, they are so good by themselves, they don’t need a dip; you can easily enjoy these plain (they are anything but plain). The hard thing is to stop eating them, period. You say just one more and realize the bag’s almost empty.

I’m pretty sure these would even work to as croutons on a salad

I  read somewhere on the web that they are possibly actually “Stacey’s Chips”. I’ve never tasted those so can’t judge but these are $1.99 and I read that Stacey’s brand just under $4.
TJ_pitachips_2I (try) to put a bag of these away in the back of the cupboard to keep and save so we have always have something special on hand for guests who might drop in — but the reality is more than once we just went to the cupboard and grabbed a bag and said, “Come on lets open these; we’ll get some more next time we’re at Trader Joe’s”.

So much for will power. We might have to buy 2 or 3 bags at a time… And even then, they might not be safe.

So these get a RAVE and are definitely worth a try.

They’re dangerously good!

Pizza 102 – “Getting More Advanced” No Knead Dough


“Pizza 102″

Pizza, No Knead

Pizza (No Knead Dough) Canned crushed tom., fresh tomato, garlic, mozz, Grana Padano, EVOO, arugula topping…

Once you really get into making your own pizza, the next evolutionary step for you to take might be to make your own dough!

No…really! Its easier than you think. Especially now as over the last few years there’s been a kind of revolutionary dough recipe and technique that has caught on like wild fire. I’m referring to “No Knead Dough” which thanks to both its creator, Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery, and the internet, which has spread the recipe to an enormous number of people who’ve tried it, has started many, including yours truly on this truly DIY fun and tasty path.

You can learn a lot by watching Jim Lahey show how to make homemade pizza with no knead dough:

More in depth info:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/03/jim-laheys-no-knead-pizza-dough-recipe.html

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/no-knead-pizza-dough

http://food52.com/recipes/16641-jim-lahey-s-no-knead-pizza-dough-margherita-pie

No-Knead Pizza Dough
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Co.
Makes four 12-inch pizza crusts OR 1 large square sheet pan pie

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus some more for dusting {Trader Joe’s White Flour does well}
¼ teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups water
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot, about 70°.
2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough with it. Let the dough rise for 2 hours (If you are doing a square style pizza then keep the dough in one piece)
4. Stretch or toss the dough into the desired shape, cover with toppings and bake on top of a very hot pizza stone. …Or stretch dough out onto sheet pan, add toppings and bake. Hot oven, 500, until it looks done.

from:
http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/nyc/99/No_Knead_Pizza_Dough_Recipe_by_Jim_Lahey_from_Co_Pizzeria_i.htm

  • Read more: http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/nyc/99/No_Knead_Pizza_Dough_Recipe_by_Jim_Lahey_from_Co_Pizzeria_i.htm#ixzz2tcZdQqoX

    …to be continued…

    Simply the #1 Soap for Summertime: Trader Joe’s TEA TREE OIL SOAP


    Yes I’ve praised this soap before in an earlier post.teatreesoap1  But I did not mention this.

    While the rest of the year I keep a bar of  TJ’s HONEY OATMEAL SOAP in the shower, but come  summertime,  I swap that out for TJ’s TEA TREE OIL SOAP.

    Trader Joe’s TEA TREE OIL SOAP  is absolutely the #1 Summertime soap. On a hot day there is nothing that cools me off and refreshes me like washing in cold water with this stuff.  It has a slightly astringent quality of course due to the tea tree oil. That’s what must make it feel so refreshing.

    Now, the only  soap that feels even more refreshing than this stuff would be DR. BRONNER’S PEPPERMINT OIL SOAP, which Trader Joe’s does sell as well. But lets face it, that cost’s $10/bottle (Will make another post about this famous stuff, with all the crazy writing all over it)

    From a listing on Amazon of ingredients for a bar of the Tree Tree Oil Soap ;

    Very Basic, Natural Ingredients
    Contains No Laurel / Laureth Sulfates
    Cruelty Free – Never Tested on Animals; No Animal Products in Ingredients
    Made In Connection With An Upscale Boutique
    Comes in Double-Pack (Two 4 oz Bars Per Pack)
    Ingredients
    Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Water, Glycerin, Tea Tree Oil, Sodium Chloride, Pentasodium Pentetate.

    also saw this about tea tree oil soap in general:

    Tea Tree Oil Soap Soothes the skin with its natural healing properties…

    reduces bacteria and inflammation

    acts as an antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antifungal.

    This would mean you won’t smell as much too!

    Two Large Bars of this soap to a pack mean its $1 a bar; WOW! Thats a really good deal for this level of quality health and beauty product. Did you catch that “made in connection with an upscale boutique? in the text above” I bet whoever the original manufacturer really is (any ideas peeps?) they probably sell a bar for $3-4 each when it has their own fancy name on it. But when Trader Joe’s re-brands it under their own label, they can sell for much less (probably the fancy packaging makes it seem worth another $4?! )

    Many women use TJ’ TEA TREAL OIL soap in the bathroom basically for the face but trust me, try it in summer in the shower if you haven’t already on the rest of you, too. Its refreshing and feels great and so clean. BUT NOTE: avoid getting it in your eyes (It can sting a bit)

    Let me here what you think about this soap for Summer!

    NUTS & HEARTBREAK CHEZ TRADER JOE’S


    nuts1

    nut·crack·er

    ˈnətˌkrakər/

    noun   1) a device for cracking nuts.

    Oh – this is so just typical. I find a new Trader Joe’s product, say to myself, ‘Oh I have to try this’, buy it, open it up and instantly say, “I love it!”

    And so it happened with this recently: Trader Joe’s Roasted ALMONDS IN THE SHELL.

    I’ve bought natural almonds in the shell before and have sat down, Old School, with a bowl and a nut cracker with my folks in the old days. We’d crack each one open to enjoy it. Its a bit of work but that was the way you ate nuts. You didn’t pay peons in some foreign land to not just grow them for you, but to sit there and open them for you too, you lazy Gringos.

    And nowadays? Everyone’s gotten so lazy, its hard to even imagine a family with a nut cracker spending time opening your own nut you are about to eat. But yes thats why there is such a thing as a “nutcracker”.

    So I see these babies in a bag, “Almonds In The Shell” and notice upon close examination in the bag that they appear to have somehow been “pre-cracked” (?!!) I mean they look like pistachio nuts with a little slit waiting for your thumbnail to just pry apart. Very interesting ! So I says to myself, boy those guys at Trader Joe’s have figured out that we still want the enjoyment of sitting down with some nuts and opening them but with a little help. Make it easier than the old nutcracker. And sure enough, when I try them, they are easy to open! They are just like pistachios, you just pry them apart with your fingernails. No nut cracker needed! The shells are somehow thin. Much thinner than any unshelled almond I’ve ever see before. How did they manage that?!

    Its like someone at Trader Joe’s found the Holy Grail of Nuts.

    And TASTE? Oh man, they are FABULOUS. My taste buds seem to think they’re better than the shelled almonds. As if they’re holding a little extra flavor inside the shell with the almond that’s there waiting to escape as soon as you pry them open. You can smell it. They are just so…. almond-y! Like a Super Almond. They are really SO VERY GOOD!

    I am in love.

    They become my new favorite Trader Joe item. I buy a package every time I go to Trader Joe’s.  I find a pound can just last a few days- if that. We go through the bag like butter. I have to hide them from myself (and my wife) otherwise they can go in a night watching some movie on Netflix, cracking open almond after almond. But it seems better than just putting a hand down and putting two or three in your mouth. There’s work involved. OK, very little work but still you have to open them. You’re burning up a few calories doing it right?

    There’s are  shelves full of them. I even see them featured in the NEW PRODUCTS section. On display. In a huge, huge pile.

    A few weeks pass, and my wife goes to get them and comes back empty handed. She say’s there weren’t any. I go in a week or two and see its not there. Worse, the shelf where I was picking them up from in the Nuts section, doesn’t even have the Sign for them up!

    Oh No! Oh !#$@#&#$!%! You TJ muthafuggas.

    We all know this scenario. This sinking feeling. This oh so trader joe’s sinking feeling you get at the pit of your stomach when you realize, “Oh no! Maybe this is not just Out Of Stock! Maybe this is (gulp!) DISCONTINUED !!!!

    If you are a TJ regular, you KNOW this feeling. Its a bad feeling. Almost like learning a best friend has died. Almost like turning on your computer and you push the power button but it won’t start up and you realize oh my computers broken. Almost like coming out of a store and going to the place your bike was locked up, and not finding it there and realizing, some motherf-er stole it (for me, a bike, for you, might be your car)

    And so it was. I went to the Manager’s counter and asked about my beloved Almonds In The Shell. Where they out of stock? Any idea when you might be getting more in? The Manager (Captain?) consults her computer screen and tells me the bad news. “I’m afraid they weren’t selling well. They were discontinued”

    Gasp! Discontinued?!!! Not selling well?! I was buying them constantly. If I only knew, I would have bought a case.

    I left the store, heart broken.

    It wasn’t the first time.

    Even worse, I knew, it won’t be the last either.

    My unspoken rule for Trader Joe’s is “never fall in love”.

    Its just too risky.

    RANT

    (published In Memoriam – Dry Roasted Salted Almonds In The Shell – 2013-2013)

    “Out out brief candle!”

    nuts2

    TJ’s “South African Smoke” Seasoning Spice Blend


    Spices – Not something that may first come to mind when you think “Trader Joe’s” stuff but actually they have shelves and shelves of spices. They are well priced, if you compare them to a regular supermarket, and always seem fresh to me.

    I seem to especially like some of their spice “seasoning blends’  that are pre-mixed blends of whole spices. They are sold right in their own cleverly made grinder, which by the way are very practical and easy to use (even easy to re-use, they have screw tops). As you may know, grinding a spice just prior to using it is the way to get a spice’s optimal flavor.

    I am now particularly fond of this Spice Blend called “South African Smoke” seasoning blend:

    20130619-230820.jpg

    The ingredients are listed as “smoked paprika (which are large flakes), sea salt, garlic, basil” Well though it doesn’t sound so exotic on paper, when you grind this onto almost any food, you get a heavenly smoky aroma. I couldn’t’ even begin to list all the foods this is good on because it is so tasty it might make wet cardboard taste good! But if you try it on almost any food (meat, chicken, tofu, veggies, rice, potatoes, pasta…. you name it)… then you will agree with me – This stuff is the bomb.

    A jar costs about $2.29. I even added some coriander and fennel seeds into the jar, which I thought made it even better. So you could experiment a little too with these jars of spices, added some of your own spices too.

    Here’s what “Trader Joe’s themselves had to say about this on their site:

    Our travels take us to some of the world’s most interesting regions, where we have the opportunity to taste foods we may never have encountered on our home turf. (Full disclosure: this is the royal we, as it refers to our buyers and not, alas, to certain writers of food-related information.) Among our recent “discoveries” is Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend, one of the more unique items we’ve come across.

    South African Smoke begins with African-grown paprika that is slow-smoked for 48 hours over a sustainable African hardwood called Acacia Saligna, commonly used as barbecue coals. This process enriches the paprika with a smoky, roasted flavor that evokes the South African braai, or barbecue. The smoked paprika is blended with sea salt, garlic and basil and packaged in a grinder, giving you fresh-ground flavor in every twist. Use it as a rub for meats or veggies prior to cooking, or keep it on the table in place of everyday salt & pepper. You’ll find this spice blend only at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s, where we’re selling each 1.76 ounce grinder for $2.29.

    My only complaint about this stuff is it goes too fast in my house!

    RAVE

    Beans, Beans, Beans! & Recipe for Mediterranean Bean Stew


    Trader Joe’s Great Northern Beans

    Trader Joe’s Great Northern Beans

    With the recent publication of an important study about how a “Mediterranean Diet” can ward off heart attacks and strokes, its a very appropriate time to think about how one’s diet can be more like a “Mediterranean Diet”.

    A “Mediterranean diet” is a heart-healthy diet that is “rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables”.

    Personally after hearing about this study one of the things I thought was that “we should try to eat more beans and legumes” every week. So I thought I would buy some beans, make something good for dinner, then do a write-up about using beans that hopefully you can try.

    I used Trader Joe’s ORGANIC GREAT NORTHERN BEANS and made a quick and easy “Mediterranean Bean Stew” with tomatoes, onion, garlic and lots of olive oil. It was delicious and a big hit at the dinner table. I hope you try it!

    RECIPE: EASY MEDITERRANEAN BEAN STEW

    Sauté a large onion (chopped) along with 3 large cloves of garlic in a generous amount of olive oil over medium heat. Saute these for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. To this mixture, Add 2-3 ripe tomatoes (chopped) and 1 can of Great Northern Beans (or Cannelini or Chick Peas). Normally I rinse beans but for this dish I included the liquid. Add about 1/4 cup of white wine and spices (Italian spices, oregano, basic) and a good deal of black pepper, plus a few shakes of red pepper. Add salt to taste (but add sparingly as the beans have salt in them).

    Simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes over low-medium heat. When done, check the consistency. There shouldn’t be a ton of liquid, it should be like a thick stew so it seems too watery simmer for another 5 minutes uncovered on medium high heat.

    To serve, plate and sprinkle with some grated cheese (parmigiano, pecorino, grana padano or ricotta salata) and dress with another good slosh of olive oil. A few olives couldn’t hurt either. This can be a Main Dish for 2 with some salad and bread, or a side dish for 4.

    Beans and Legumes are very healthy as we all know. They’re extremely good sources of Protein as well as Fiber. TJ’s says one cup contains 14.7 grams of protein and 12.4 grams of dietary fiber. Trader Joe’s does sell a nice variety of canned beans. Beans are both nutritious and inexpensive (89 cents to $1.19/can). Canned Beans are great to have on hand in your pantry. I do usually try to make my own beans “from scratch” (soak overnight then cook) but the canned ones are handy when you haven’t planned ahead or had the time. So its not a bad idea to pick up a few cans and have some in your pantry at all times. They are great for adding to salads too of course, especially Cannellini and Chick Peas. These I do rinse when I use them this way.

    The old song is true, “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…”

    (I’ll stop there!)

    DIY – Simple Homemade Jam


    jam

    My Home-made Peach Jam

    This is a jar of some “DIY fast-and-easy peach “jam” or “preserves”. I’m using the quotation marks because it is not the fully “preserved” type that will last months and months. Rather I make this to keep in the fridge, aka “refridgerator jam”. Its EASY and DELICIOUS, fast and much cheaper than store jams. You can make it in half hour. 97210-turbinado-sugar

        Of course one could make this with Trader Joe’s very nice

    TURBINADO RAW SUGAR

      Or that plus half plain sugar…experiment!

    Here’s a basic recipe:

    Buy some fruit. It should be fairly ripe. To make these fast jams, I usually buy the “quick sale” stuff at the supermarket that is over ripe, not perfect looking…but this is exactly what is perfect for making jam. Fruits: you can use peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, figs, strawberries, other berries. Have a fresh lemon on hand too. Sugar – Trader Joe’s sugar is perfect. But honestly almost any sugar will do (real sugar not fake). What matters is that you need to cook this a fairly long time. Use a heavy sauce pan.

      Its not a hard and fast recipe. More like a basic recipe / ratio with many, many variations.

      SIMPLE HOMEMADE FRIDGE JAM

      Ingredients: About 1-2 lbs of fruit. Eg – Peaches, about 6 large.
      Wash and cut up the fruit into small pieces. I do this directly into the pan. I throw in the pits too (will fish out later, or not) as I think they have natural pectin which will help with the ‘jelling’. I put about 1/2-cup to 1 cup of sugar. While that may sound like a lot its not, as it will all cook down, and the sugar will make it jell in this recipe.
      Cook the mixture at a medium-high heat. You want a low boil that will not boil over (your pan should be big enough so that it has high sides and room). Watch it. Cook it stirring occasionally, for about 40-45 minutes total. Check it and stir it every 10 minutes. What you want is for it to all fall apart, and the fruit to mostly disintegrate. What looked like a lot of fruit will become a much smaller amount after its cooked down. At the end, I squeeze in half a lemon or lime’s juice. Let it cool, place in a jar and refrigerate for a few hours. It should thicken up. Use within a few weeks. This won’t be hard, trust me! It probably won’t last that long.

    Melissa Clark of the NY Times has a wonderful recipe for jam here which you can use to experiment more with…

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