Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing


This is one of those “only at Trader Joe’s” products, or at least I’ve never seen another type of product like this one.

You could say I am something of a “Sriracha freak”. I mean I love the stuff, and in general love “The Spicy”, but in no way would I deam myself to be one of those chile-head types who go for sauces with “Death Head” logos.  Me, I want spice AND flavor. Therefore I love – and I mean LOVE – the original Huy Fong Foods SRIRACHA sauce, which is one of the greatest food things on the planet. A food product who’s fan’s are legion. I will put it on lots of different things. Still I never tried it on SALAD. So guess what? Sriracha Salad Dressing is actually a terrific idea! And Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing  is a terrifically marvelous unique product.

Its a ranch-style salad dressing, which is very spicy. How spicy? Well in its original version, which in my opinion Trader Joe’s has changed and toned down, I would have to use this stuff sparingly, as mere dollops. It was actually far, far spicier than actual Sriracha or most hot sauces for that matter. I used to mix it with some yogurt or mayo to tone it down a wee bit, but that is no longer needed. This is when it originally came out – a year ago? Can others please confirm this change to tone down the heat? Maybe people complained it was just too spicy, and they reformulated it with less of a heat level. Anyway I just bought a bottle and it doesn’t seem nearly as spicy as it used to be, though it is still spicy, and still very good! Not only is  this ranch dressing good on salad or greens of course but it has many, many more uses on all kinds of foods. You can put a little on the side as a sauce for most anything, for instance grilled chicken, or shrimp, or fish, or grilled tofu, or what have you.

In fact you can use this as an ingredient to cook with it. For instance, try brushing this stuff on chicken which you would bake, broil, or grill. Its awesome on hamburgers, mixed with some ketchup for some homemade spicy “special sauce”. Try a little on some asian style noodles… with some chunky organic peanut butter on top? In fact try this on just about anything you think might be better with some spice to it. You will come up with some interesting tests.

So congratulations on a fantastic product, Trader Joe’s. Some  hard core chile- heads might be disappointed that you toned down the heat a bit for mere mortals. (But folks, you can mix some Sriracha sauce with this, if you want it spicier still, or add some cayenne pepper and it will be like it used to be). It sells for $2.99 (16 oz. bottle) which is not bad since most TJ salad dressings are 8 oz bottles?

So try this, its one of those love it or hate it type TJ products! Do I love it? Yes, yes, yes! Giving it a:

RAVE

54860-organic-sriracha-ranch-dressing

 

 

By the way, the story of HUY FONG FOODS SRIRACHA and it’s founder Vietnamese refugee David Tran, is one of the best American immigrant success stories there is!

ADDITIONAL LINKS

http://nextshark.com/sriracha-hot-sauce-david-tran-vietnamese/

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-sriracha-including-its-proper-pronunciation

https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-10-22/story-how-one-hot-sauce-huy-fong-sriracha-got-so-hot

 

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

TJ Pine Cat Litter


pinecatlitterI haven’t posted before about any pet stuff and mostly concentrated on things us humans eat, but let’s face it, Trader Joe’s sells nice stuff for your furry friends, too!

One thing I’ve started buying on a regular basis is their PREMIUM PINE CAT LITTER. If you’ve only used clay type litters, this is very different. It’s made from pine sawdust thats been formed into little pellets. It has a good natural pine scent that is very helpful for odor control, naturally! When it gets wet, it basically disintegrates into well, wet pine sawdust.

Now this type of litter is a pretty big change from typical clay type litter so you’re instructed on the package to switch to it gradually by putting a layer of your normal litter on top of this pine litter until your cat accepts the pine litter on its own (mine did after a few weeks) Still every cat is different in their hygiene matters, so if you want to use this you have to try it and see if your cat will get used to it. Hopefully they will as this is good stuff, effective and cutting down odors and not as expensive as the same stuff sold in pet stores.

The bag says the 3.5 lb.’s inside is a “4 week supply”and thats about what it lasts for my one cat, if not a little more. I don’t have to buy (and lug home) the huge 25 lb. bags of clay litter anymore. Without getting into too much nitty gritty… my use is…I get rid of “solid waste” matter and spoon out any big wet soiled areas that have turned into the wet sawdust I mentioned*. Then I sprinkle on some more of the Pine Litter. It REALLY keeps smells to a minimum and lasts quite a long time without having to change the whole kitty box. So hard to say if it will work with any cat, but if you are patient, its worth a try.

*Tip: get a cheap 99 cents store plastic spoon to go with your other regular kitty litter scooper (the sawdust will just fall through that).

Even if you have to use it with clay litter forever, the pine litter will still help get the odors from your kitty box under control.

If I’m not mistaken a bag costs $3.50. Not a bad deal, compared to something similar in Petco.

 

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

RECOMMENDED — (BY MAYA)maya2

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


tj_pitachips_1Trader Joe’s Pita Chips

(Parmesan, Garlic, and Herb flavor)

RAVE

To me these are one of those “wow these are amazing!” TJ’s products you buy once and instantly fall in love with. The kind you put into the,“I want to have these on hand at all times” category and buy every time you go to the store.

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 the food world? Umami… Parmesan cheese 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 instantly comes running over, starts to cry, and tries to grab them out of my hand (really, if I just open the bag she goes nuts)! Its a hoot.

These Pita Chips have a bold texture and taste… very tasty combination of the parmesan, garlic and herbs. I can not begin to tell you how crunchy these are, you must try for yourself but 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 going on in your head.

They are thick enough so could they be wonderful with salsa, guacamole, or any dip and are guaranteed not to break like normal chips might. But the truth is they are so good by themselves, they don’t even need dip; you can easily enjoy these plain (they are anything but plain) right out of the bag . 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!

 

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

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 At Trader Joe’s


nuts1

A tale about Trader Joe’s Roasted ALMONDS IN THE SHELL.

nut·crack·er

pronunciation:ˈnətˌkrakər/

NOUN  1) a device for cracking nuts.

—-

Oh! This is so just typical… I find a new product at Trader Joe’s that looks interesting , says to myself ‘Self, you have to try this!’, buy it, open it up and instantly think, “OMG this is so great! I love it! I will buy this from now on, every time I go to TJ’s”!!!! And so it happened with this product :

Trader Joe’s Roasted ALMONDS IN THE SHELL.

I’ve bought natural almonds in the shell before, back in the day, when you sat down, Old School with a bowl and a nut cracker. In the old days, my folks and I would sit down together with a bowl of nuts and our family nutcracker and crack each one open to enjoy as we chatted or watch a tv show together. Its a bit of work cracking open nuts over and over but that was the way you ate nuts back then in the 70’s. You didn’t pay peons in some foreign land to not just grow them for you, but to also sit there and open them for you too, you lazy Gringos. We opened them ourselves with a nutcracker.2009673-man-cracking-walnut-with-metal-nutcracker-in-hand-isolated-on-white-background

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! NO NO NO! You GODAMM TRADER JOES Muthafuggas!!

We all know this scenario. This sinking feeling. That oh so Trader Joe’s 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!) A DISCONTINUED ITEM !2009673-man-cracking-walnut-with-metal-nutcracker-in-hand-isolated-on-white-background.jpg!!

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

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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