TJ’s “Almond Smooth” Non-Dairy Beverage


Recently saw this in the “New Product” section at my local TJ’s in NYC (72 St). Liked the label design and thought I would try it. The label describes this product as, “A smooth and creamy all natural non-dairy beverage made from real almonds”.Sounds similar to soy milk in a sense but this is made from almonds.

I bought the “Vanilla” one (sweetened), as I usually like “vanilla” soy milk too. The packages recommends “serve chilled” so put it in the fridge for a few hours before trying it.

How does it taste? To me, totally delicious! It practically tastes like a milkshake (if it was made with nuts). Its so tasty, I can drink it as is and its my desert, after dinner. In fact its so good its dangerous. I have to stop myself from draining the package. Its really really good over cereal, instead of milk, as they suggest on the box, and I’ve been using it like crazy that way at breakfast time. Way tastier than milk. One thing I’ve yet to try is to use it in pancake batter as the package suggests but I can imagine how good an addition that would be.

Anywhere soy milk would be used, I imagine this can as well. The almond flavor makes it much more yummy than soy milk, as good as that is. I think “raw food” recipes use nuts, and mostly crushed almonds blended with water as a substitute for “milk” or cream, in other words it makes a creamy liquid similar to milk. The package says a cup (8 oz) has 90 calories – which seems to be about the same as regular milk. Cost: 32 Oz (1 Qt) is $1.69. It is marked both “Vegan” and “Gluten Free” (V & G ) If you haven’t tried this yet, grab it and see for yourself. I predict its going to vanish very quickly from your fridge once you taste how delicious it is though.

A RAVE

Homemade Pizza (Recipe) with TJ dough


Here’s a Pizza I made for dinner last night. I used Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough.  Its in TJ’s refrigerated section. The bag of fresh dough sells for the super price of just 99 cents (1 lb package). Thats correct, 99 cents. Whole Foods has pizza dough too- however  they sell it (frozen) for almost double the price Trader Joe’s sells dough for.  Trader Joe’s sells three varieties of Pizza Dough. Regular, Herb, Whole Wheat. I amost always buy the “regular” (ie, “white”) dough, I tried but didn’t care for the herb and garlic version. I found it a bit bitter and off tasting, though I like the idea of having fresh herbs and garlic.  There is a whole wheat dough too, which I also tried and while “noble” in thought, in reality I found it came out a bit too hard and tough. Oh well. You can try them all and see what you think. I find a package of dough makes a really huge pizza for two people, with a bit leftover. It should easily feed three and might feed four with some side dish(s). As pizza dough is after all “bread dough” of course one can use this to make a loaf of bread ,or some breadsticks (see below). This is a good idea too. So this is one of those TJ items I ALMOST NEVER LEAVE THE STORE WITHOUT. Freeze it and you have this handy stuff on hand always!

HOME-MADE PIZZA

Ingredients:
This time, believe it or not I did not use tomato sauce. Though I usually do, I was a bit unorthodox this time and used only fresh tomatoes. Plus a ton of other vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms + peppers (I cooked both before with oil and garlic), more fresh garlic, olive oil, Mozzarela, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, hot pepper flakes, more fresh tiny red peppers I had on hand, plus anchovy paste… oh yeah and a simple homemade pork sausage with peppers and garlic (which I browned up first) and crumbled on top. It was “almost” a vegetarian pizza, and you could easily make it that way. Maybe use some TJ Soy Chorizo, perhaps for the sausage component…Or not.

(READY FOR BAKING)

Method:  Its not perfect one but very usable.  Take the Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough out of the fridge for at least a 1/2 hour to warm up a bit. Flour a work surface and stretch out your dough to your pan. I used a large non-stick half sheet pan. I stretched the dough to fit the whole pan and used my fingers to build up the edges. I dabbed some anchovy paste all around the body of the pizza, and gently smushed it in with my fingers with a good dollop of Olive Oil (TJ’s Spanish EVO). I cut my zucchini into paper thin slices and laid them out all over in neat rows, laid tomatoes sliced thin all over, added my cooked mushroom and pepper I made the night before, laid out the Mozz (shredded) all over, hit it with red pepper, sliced garlic, Italian seasoning, a little arugula, and more olive oil which I brushed on the edges with my fingers. Some more tomato on top which got “roasted”, some more fresh red peppers, a pinch of salt, plus lots of black pepper.

Baked it at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes (The TJ dough package says bake 9 minutes, thats sounds crazy short unless you have a very very hot pizza oven) In the style of my idol, Dom DeMarco (of Brooklyn’s DiFara’s Pizza) I tossed on some grated cheese (Parmesan, or Grana Padano as Dom uses) AFTER it comes out of the oven. This gives your pizza some extra zing for sure.

OUT OF THE OVEN

Also like Dom, I was fairly liberal with the Olive Oil especially on the pan for this squarish rendition, as I wanted that crust to get really crispy and brown -which it did thanks to that oil. After it was ready, I hit it with more fresh arugula on top (was tempted to use lemon juice like Paulie Gee too but didn’t…next time. Lemon juice on pizza? Trust me, with the arugula, its fantastic. Paulie Gee has some real pizza chops).

Result: Due to all the veggies honestly I felt the center was too thin and came out too wet  with all the veggies I had loaded it with. If I did it over, next time I would not stretch out the dough quite as much and leave it much thicker all over to hold up to the veggies. The zucchini and fresh tomato produce a lot of moisture. In the center it was too moist. However other than the center the pizza came out perfectly. The outside edge crust (aka cornicone) was really crunchy and good, especially for something made in a regular home oven. Would it be better with a pizza stone? Maybe, I just don’t have one, nor do I have a Pizza Peel so would be a bit hard to get in the oven, without using the sheet pan I felt. I’m a very adaptable cook.

Tell me the finished pie doesn’t look good! Taste-wise? EXCELLENT. I got a high five from the Mrs, who deemed it one of the best pizzas I’ve made. First time I used the anchovy paste, which added a wonderful undernote of flavor. And the homemade sausage was fantastic on top. So basically I made the “sauce” right on the pizza in the oven. It does look tasty, no? I hope this picture inspires you to make a pizza at home; Its easy and delicious.

Oh and I tested out making a few breadsticks with a bit of the extra TJ’s dough. They were good! Try doing some of those too with this dough. You could of course even make a fresh baked bread with it too. I am now buying at least 2 packages of TJ’s Pizza Dough, and throwing one in the freezer to have on hand at all times. I do make my own dough on occasion but it requires some thinking ahead.

Now I know this isn’t exactly a “recipe” but to me, Pizza is a basic idea, that is improvised depending on your mood, ingredients, etc. So for the most basic “recipe” buy this dough, stretch it out on to a half sheet pan, add some homemade or good jarred marinara or tomato sauce, some mozzarella, olive oil, fresh garlic, etc. (add preferred toppings here). Bake it in a HOT oven. Check it at 15-20 minutes and make sure its brown and bubbly. Cook for another 5-10 minutes if not. When done, take it out and toss on some (fresh I hope) grated Parmesan or other hard Italian cheese. Remove from pan to a surface you can cut on and slice it up. Once you do this, you may never go back to “ordering in pizza”.

TRADER JOE’S PIZZA DOUGH =

RAVE

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil Soap


Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil “Pure Vegable Soap” looks like and according to the ingredients is almost exactly the same formula as their wonderful Oatmeal and Honey soap. Ingredients on the label are identical except instead listing oatmeal flakes and honey as ingredients, this lists Tea Tree Oil in the ingredients. The fragrance of this soap is a bit less pronounced than the Oatmeal Honey one, which smells so good I think I could almost eat it.  This is more subtle. While I do frankly prefer the Oatmeal version, this too is very good, and I like it very much as well. If you Google it, you see it has very good reviews on some sites for many types of skin problems. Tea Tree Oil is supposed to possess certain medicinal properties, such as being an anti-fungal & antiseptic agent.

All I know is my face does feel incredibly clean and grease free after washing with this. In the shower, its also feels kind of “cooling” to the skin, and feels a tiny bit like Dr. Bronners* (my favorite soap in hot weather is Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap) But this may be my close second. Like Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap, this soap is definitely good for cooling off in hot summer-time weather. It sells for a little bit more than TJ’s Oatmeal soap (1.99 for 2 big bars of this vs. $1.70 for the Oatmeal / Honey soap). However compared to fancy, pricey skin soaps, this stuff is an ABSOLUTE STEAL at $1/bar. Try and see what you think.

TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts)


RAVE

These can easily be on any Trader Joe’s Top 10 List. Easily best “first try” of a TJ product in a while. I was quite impressed. These are in the Frozen section, and are extremely good quality French haricots verts “(green beans”). They do say clearly “IMPORTED FROM FRANCE”. 

“Haricot Verts” are better than the standard green beans you probably know and buy. Haricots Verts are the skinny, tender imported green beans, very tender…the kind you see on your plate in a very nice restaurant next with that $30 entree you ordered!

When I see fresh HARICOTS VERTS, imported from France, at a top produce market like Fairway for example, they are always expensively priced, something like $6-8/lb?… or about 4x what good old regular fresh green beans cost? I usually think ‘who can afford to buy these things? Those with money to burn.’

Well thanks to Trader Joe’s all of us can afford these wonderful vegetables. TJ’s sells a package of HARICOT VERTS in a 24 oz bag. (1.5 lbs) for $1.99! Jeez do the math people, thats about 1.50 /lb? Thats about the same price (or LESS!) than I might buy some regular fresh green beans at the market. (a price check followup in April 2012 show the same price!) 

These are the the wonderful tasty thin, haricots verts, all prepped ready to use, which have been flash frozen. Nice green color. I ‘m pretty sure they’ve been blanched for a few seconds prior to being flash frozen. Certainly easy to use: they are all prepped! (ie, tip and tailed) This is a big time saver as prepping beans is the one thing I don’t like about when I buy fresh green beans. they do take a bit of work to prepare. These are trimmed and cut into bite size lengths, ready to use.

To cook, either throw them in boiling water, or as I usually do, throw them into a hot sauté pan with some butter and oil. Cook for perhaps 1-2 mins. Don’t overcook these, you will ruin them. Throw in minced garlic and you have a nice French side dish of haricots verts, ready in minutes. Salads? Yes! I threw them into a salad after boiling them for about 45 seconds, dumping them in a colander and running cold water to cool them, and they were really good tossed with some TJ’s Virgin Olive Oil and White Balsamic vinegar! Delicious. Toss in some diced hard boiled eggs, and parsley, and you have a nice “salade composé”. I also just add them to any dish I’m making that would be good at the last five minutes, generally breaking them in half first as I add them (stews, soups, etc).

haricots verts cocoCategory:Green beans

haricots verts cocoCategory:Green beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To sell at this price, I can only imagine these are one of those items TJ’s makes a huge deal with the vendor for. TJ’s purchases in such huge quantity, directly from the vendor, then as they say, pays in cash. Thats how TJ’s makes deals so they can sell products at such bargains (case in point is Olive Oil, right? They buy HUGE massive quantities from vendors all over the world)

Anyway TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts) are my new favorite vegetable, and are now on my “always these have on hand” Trader Joe’s List. Pretty sure there will always be a package in my freezer from now on. Right next to TJ’s frozen peas and edamame. These are very versatile things to have on hand at all times. Definitely always have a bag in the freezer of these things. Try them, you won’t be sorry.

RECIPEHaricots Verts With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

(If you make this remember the recipe assumes using fresh haricots verts so adjust the cooking time down)

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!