Trader Joe’s New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings


apple rings

New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings

“Unsulphered and unsweetened”

These may be a new product, or at least I’ve never noticed them till recently. Anyway I bought them to try and really liked these. Its really good new Trader Joe’s product.

My first impression upon opening the package was my nose immediately caught a very nice “apple-ly” scent coming from the bag, and them upon popping one of these dried apple rings in my mouth… next was that “oh yeah so yummy” reaction to something new you’re trying.  This has a really natural taste and delicious flavor, this is neither too sweet, nor too tart. You are thinking yeah “These are what dried apples should taste like” as you chew and chew a few more. In fact you may find as I did, its really hard to stop eating them!. I could probably devour the bag munching on them. Not that I should do that! But I can see a bag will go fast in my house.

The apples have been dehydrated to just the right point, where they are not too hard or rubbery like some dried apple rings can be, but are wonderfully softish, and chewy and kind of taste what I imagine, if I made my own dehydrated apples, what they would taste like. The ingredients are one thing, and one thing only: Apples! “SELECTED FROM BRAEBURN, ROYAL,GALA, FUJI AND PINK LADY APPLES” Unsulphered and unsweetened. I really like ingredients where one thing and one thing only is listed. You know what you bought come with no hidden agendas.

In sum, try these, you are sure to like them. These could be a healthy snack and treat for you or your kids to have around. Try with some peanut butter and you have something heavenly (could even be put into a sandwich?)
An 8 oz. package sells for $3.49. The package I bought got eaten fast. They are slightly addictive. Be forewarned.

So these get a

RAVE

 

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

 

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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!

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 even a slice of 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!

THIS PRODUCT GETS A RAVE!

 

UPDATE SUMMER 2014 –

NO NO NO !!! NOT ON SHELF. DID TRADER JOE’S DISCONTINUE!?!

ANOTHER GREAT PRODUCT,  GONE !? RANT!

 

ANOTHER UPDATE : SUMMER 2015 …ITS BACK ON THE SHELF AT MY TJ’S !!! GRAB IT WHILE YOU CAN ?! ONE READER REPORTS ITS SEASONAL FOR SUMMER ONLY (grilling)

SO STOCK UP IF YOU SEE IT.

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!)

FYI = No Pink Slime at TJ’s


FYI –

—–Original Message—–
From: (trader joes rants)
Sent: March 23, 2012 4:34 PM
To:  Trader Joe’s Web Customer Relations
Subject: Trader Joe’s Product Information Form

Your Trader Joe’s: NYC, Bway, 72 St
Product Name:     Ground Beef

Your Comments:   I read that 70% of all supermarket ground beef now contains ‘pink slime’ as filler. What about TJ’s ground beef ?

———–

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us. Our ground beef is 100% pure beef with nothing added. Please be reassured that this is not something that would be permitted in our products– NO pink slime in any of our meat. We only work with reputable suppliers, many of which are actually generally much smaller in comparison to other markets, just so that we can ensure the quality and integrity of our products. We also have third party audits of our products and vendor facilities to ensure that our standards are met.

At Trader Joe’s, food safety is of the utmost importance, and we take seriously the work done to ensure our products are wholesome and safe; after all, we’re customers, too – and we would not sell anything we would not eat, drink, or use ourselves!

Kind regards,
Kerry
Trader Joe’s Customer Relations

Raw Ground beef

Trader Joe’s FIG BUTTER


RAVE

OK so this was featured in the current Fearless Flyer, and I saw it yesterday and thought I should buy it and report.  Got home and almost instantly opened it and dug a spoon in to taste. First reaction: OMG, this is some fantastically good stuff, Trader Joe! It is extremely tasty.

It’s a true fruit butter, meaning fruit that has been cooked down till its super concentrated. No, there’s no “butter” in it all all, as the flyer points out. TJ Fig Butter has only a few pure ingredients: figs, water, sugar, lemon juice, pectin; so it is “all natural”. It tastes like very yummy, very ripe figs. After reading the Fig Butter post in the Fearless Flyer, I learned there are three different kinds of figs used to make it and surely this is one of the reasons the flavor profile is so complex. TJ FIG BUTTER

For breakfast the next morning, I made a piece of TJ Tuscan Pane toast with some TJ Peanut Butter and Fig Butter. People, this is a heavenly combination,  you’ve got to try.

In fact the main problem with this fig butter is desire. I just bought it yesterday, and between my wife and myself, the jar seems to be half gone already. Next, I will have to sample the other fruit butters TJ sells – for the sake of this blog of course. Mango, Pumpkin, Lemon, etc…

A 11 oz jar of TJ’s fruit butters costs $2.29*

*I have a feeling it was cheaper last month. Everything at TJ’s seems to be going up in price of late

Stay tuned!

…Working with Maine-based culinary craftsmen, focused on old-fashioned, farmstand goodness and flavor, we created Trader Joe’s Fig Butter. It starts with a medley of fresh, ripe figs: Mission figs for their extreme sweetness, Calimyrna figs for their distinctive nutty flavor and Conadria figs for their nutty-sweet balance. The whole figs are dried, ground and then crushed before being slow-cooked, in small batches, with sugar, lemon and pectin. It’s a simple recipe using only the finest, freshest ingredients, and no preservatives or artificial colors. The result is full fig flavor concentrated in a smooth, spreadable butter.

In some markets a great deal of butter is reta...

In some markets a great deal of butter is retailed from tubs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trader Joe’s Kimchi Fried Rice


 

TJ’s Kimchi Fried Rice

Disclaimer: I only tried this at the Sample Station. In fact I confess the Sample Station is the locus where I usually gravitate to almost immediately after I enter Trader Joe’s. I check out if they have something interesting to taste that day, and of course to grab myself a little cup of free coffee. Don’t you? Truly the Coffee Station is one of the best things about Trader Joe’s, isn’t it? Every supermarket should copy them; going shopping would be much more fun.


Kimchi Fried Rice is a fairly new item and TJ’s seemed to be promoting it quite a bit. Recently it was the product “on sample” 2 or 3 times that I had been to TJ’s of late. What I found funny was they had a sign next to the samples: Its said something like, “Warning: Spicy! Try at your own risk! If you can’t take spicy food, be careful!” Then I tasted it and my first thought was “Huh? This is spicy?”. Seriously to me it was about as spicy as baby food (I can take the heat). I started discussing this disconnect of the “WARNING” sign with the TJ employee who was in charge of the Sample Station at the time. He was of the same opinion – the Kimchi Fried Rice is not spicy at all! He cracked me up when he told me however how many people actually complained “Jeez this is so spicy” after they tasted the Kimchi Fried Rice on sample. So many that they put up the “warning, spicy” sign!

So here is what I thought after tasting the Kimchi Fried Rice. I know me some Kimchi Fried Rice (the authentic Korean kind). I adore it. I can even cook a decent version myself. So if I compare that taste to this stuff, I just have to say this is a pretty bland, insipid version. The two times I tried it was soft and fairly mushy, plus it had barely any kimchi taste; To me, its flavor profile was just weak, which I attribute to an industrial production of such a “homey” dish. For one, truly Kimchi Fried Rice needs real garlic flavor, as well as Kimchi. This barely even had any garlic nor Kimchi flavor for me. The real thing is a fantastic dish, and this? Frankly to my tastes perhaps it would be suitable for babies (ok maybe Korean). Now having said that – Trader Joe’s does have a decent “ethnic” fried rice. TJ’s JAPANESE FRIED RICE is actually quity good (another disclaimer: My wife is Japanese/Korean). I’ve eaten tons of both Kimchi fried rice and Japanese fried rice. I know what these should taste like. I can cook decent versions of both.

So, sorry Trader Joe’s in my opinion your KIMCHI FRIED RICE is a miss! If you try it, try the JAPANESE FRIED RICE next time and see which you prefer.

Pretty much same as your other new “Korean” addition, Trader Joe’s Kimchi, which I found such a poor product I actually “returned” it! Perhaps those who don’t live in a city where you can buy real kimchi sold at a Korean market, might think “so this is kimchi, tasty”.  Actually if you had real Kimchi you would know this stuff is not even close to being as tasty as a real Korean-made kimchi – for example this brand (Tobagi) of Napa cabbage kimchi I get at HanAhReum supermarket on 32nd Street (Manhattan’s Korea Town). If you A/B taste tested this prepared kimchi vs. the Trader Joe’s version? It would be almost a joke, just no comparison! Anyone who’s been to a Korean restaurant will know the real taste. At $1.99 (10 oz) you can try TJ’s version and see for yourself. Let me know what you think.

RANT

Kimchi bokkeumbap, kimchi fried rice in Korean...

Kimchi bokkeumbap, kimchi fried rice in Korean cuisine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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