Trader Joe’s FIG BUTTER


RAVE

So this product was featured in a current “Fearless Flyer” then I saw it yesterday on the shelf, and thought I should buy it and report. When I got home I confess I almost instantly dug a spoon into the jar to taste it.

First reaction: OMG, this is some fantastically good stuff, Trader Joe!

TJ FIG BUTTER 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. Fearless Flyer: TJ FIG BUTTER

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

In fact the main problem with this fig butter is well, 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)

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World’s Best Raisin Bran Cereal!


My morning brainstorm in the shower thinking about what to eat for breakfast. In a Euraka Moment, thinks I, “Why not “make” my own raisin bran? No, not with just regular TJ’s raisins but with the Golden Raisins I just bought yesterday.” The Golden Raisins. Plus TJ’s Bran Flakes (which is bar none best bran flakes made)?

YES – you heard that right

“Golden Raisin Bran”

And I did it. And it was…. MIGHTY, MIGHTY FINE!

Try it for yourself! Why has no one though of this before? Am I a genius or what?

Recipe: Put some Bran Flakes in bowl. Add a small handful of the Golden Raisins.

Milk. A little sugar. Yogurt topping? Nice.

Done.

Eat up.

OMG, right?

You must, must must try these two TJ’s items together

Then tell me if the combination is not the best damn cereal you’ve ever had.

TJ’s Refried Black Beans “With Jalapeños”


“High in Fiber and a Good Source of Iron”

Says so right on the front label and all true. This is a very healthy thing for you to eat. And since a can costs just 99 cents, it’s very economical too. Now if you are not familiar with “Refried Beans” there are a few things you should know. One is in Spanish “frijoles refritos” is slightly misleading in that while it literally can be interpreted as “re-fried beans” they are not “fried” twice, they are “cooked twice”, first the beans are boiled, then they are mashed/fried with some kind of fat. Authentic Mexican FRIJOLES REFRITO are either pinto, black, or other beans that have been cooked till very tender then cooked and mashed till they are a smooth paste. The mixture is cooked with onions and garlic and spices in some oil or fat (traditionally manteca (pork fat) is used but more ‘modern, healthy’ versions use olive oil). Manteca does it great flavor.  Cooked until a thick paste, its generally eaten with corn tortillas in one form or another, or put on the plate as a side. Of course the famous combination of Corn and Beans eaten together create a complex protein that is equal to meat protein, and are eaten in many places all over the world to sustain the population. In Mexico this is very true, and is both a high quality protein at a relatively low cost compared to meat/chicken/etc, and is a staple eaten daily by MILLIONS of people around the world.

However Trader Joe’s Refried Black Beans ingredients simply say: Prepared black beans, water, sea salt, spice, jalapeños. So actually since there is no fat of any kind listed, in truth these are not really “refritos” at all! You could eat them this way just out of the can, but I find them just so-so that way, I think of them as a time-saver over making my own beans (soaking overnight, etc) and mashing them. Tasting these you may say as I did, “what where’s the jalapeño’s?” Are there really Jalapeño peppers are in this?? They seem non-existant taste wise so I assume the amount is miniscule. Generally I find TJ products are not too spicy to fit in with middle American tastes? Unless the product is advertised as “spicy” like Harissa, or hot sauce.

If you invest a mere 5 minutes to improve these* to make them tastier and more authentic, you will be rewarded with something twice as good as the way they taste right out of the can, I promise you.

Here’s what I suggest you do once you open the can:  Smash or chop up a fat clove of garlic and toss it in a non-stick pan, over medium heat with a nice slug of Olive Oil (I used TJ’s Spanish EVOO). Add the bean paste from the can (carefully it may spit hot oil) and perhaps some diced fresh or pickled jalapeños or other chile peppers ‘to taste’. You could add one small can of TJ’s Roasted Green Chiles, chopped up. A little diced onion sauteed for 5 minutes before the beans go in couldn’t hurt too and will add much flavor! Now add some spices: oregano, cumin if you like it, a dash of red pepper flakes plus a good sprinkling of black pepper. Taste for salt. Cook the the beans, pushing down with a wooden spoon, mixing into the oil and every now and then stirring and making sure they don’t burn as they cook. Use a low flame. Cook the mixture for about 5-10 minutes until the paste softens up, moves freely (If too thick, add a pinch of water) until the Frijoles look smooth and smell wonderful. If you like spicy, a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce would go well. There….much improved over just opening this can. Are you Super Lazy and say all that sounds like way too much work (Wow you are a lazy bum!) OK then if you do nothing else, when you heat these up just add some olive oil and lots of black pepper and some hot sauce.

Eat your Frijoles Refritos with tortillas, tostadas…. Use as fillings in burritos. Add salsa, cheese, tomato, greens. Refritos are also great served as a side with a sprinkle of cheese, maybe some mexican style rice, and possibly some Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo.

When you open up up the can, be aware these refried beans don’t look too appetizing till cooked (frankly one could say it looks like dog food) but it will look fine after you heat them up and hopefully gussy them up as I suggest above .

If you’ve never had these before, try them, or their cousin Trader Joe’s Pinto Refried Beans with Salsa.  They are very tasty when jazzed up a little, so filling, healthy and economical it’s not even funny. Your heart and cholesterol will thank you, especially since you made them with olive oil and not lard (thought authentic manteca does taste best, sorry!)

RAVE.

VEGAN FRIENDLY

 

TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts)


(NB: since this was originally written, this product is unfortunately reported to be not available in stores currently (spring 2019)

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 with the quality of these bean which are in the Frozen section and are extremely good, high quality French Haricots Verts “(translation: green beans”). Package says “IMPORTED FROM FRANCE” so the real McCoy.

French “Haricot Verts” are better than standard green beans you know and buy. Haricots Verts are a skinnier French variety, more tender regular green beans in U.S…These are the same skinny bright green beans you see on your plate next to that $35 entree you ordered when you go out to an expensive restaurant.

When I see fresh HARICOTS VERTS, imported from France, at a top produce green grocer like Fairway for example, which does carry them, they are always very expensive, something like $8-10 per lb?… vs. $2/lb for “normal” fresh green beans there, so about 4-5x what the regular ones cost? I always think ‘who can afford to buy these…they must have money to burn.’

Well thanks to Trader Joe’s all of us can afford to buy these wonderful French green bean, just they’ve come flash frozen instead of fresh. TJ’s sells a package of the frozen HARICOT VERTS in a 24 oz bag. (1.5 lbs) for $1.99! If you do the math, thats comes out to about 1.50 /lb, so thats about the same price or LESS, than I might buy regular fresh green beans (a price check followup in April 2012 show this is still the same price!) 

These are those same wonderful thin, french haricots verts, all prepped ready to use, which have been flash frozen. Dark, 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) which you would spend time doing with fresh. 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 take a bit of work to tip and tail a pound of beans. These come trimmed and cut into bite size lengths, ready to use. Handy. To cook, either throw them in boiling salted water or do as I usually do, just toss the beans into a hot sauté pan with some butter and oil (and garlic perhaps). Cook for only 1-2 mins. Don’t overcook these, you can easily 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  use these alot just adding them to any dish I’m making they would be good in at the last new minutes, generally breaking them in half first as I add them (to 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 vendors. TJ’s purchases in such huge quantity, directly from the vendor, then they say, pays in cash, and 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. I now always buy a package to have in my freezer at all times. Right next to TJ’s Frozen Peas and Frozen Edamame, also all staples in my house.  These are very versatile things to have on hand at all times. 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!

TJ’s Tuscan Pane bread


RAVE:

You will see this bread on many a “Trader Joe’s Top 10” and “best products” lists, and rightly so. I think its one of the best products they sell, by far the best packaged bread I’ve had, period. Its a very good, country style bread. Pretty sure this is a slow rise sourdough; its usually full of air holes. Its has a very nice chewy texture and a good crust, of course which is better heated. In fact it gets 10x better toasted or grilled. Tuscan Pane makes unbelievably good toast, and many a morning this bread toasted is what I crave at breakfast. Top the toast with butter, jam, cream cheese, cheese, veggies or just about anything and you have a little slice of toast heaven. One of my faves would be with cream cheese and tomato. Or brie with jam, warmed till the brie is a bit melty.

A large 27 oz. loaf of Tuscan Pane original “white” was until recently $2.29. It has gone up to $2.49 (All wheat products are up) The Whole Wheat version goes for $2.69. Flavorwise I think I prefer the original “white” one to the whole wheat one but the whole wheat is still good too if you prefer that. I usually always prefer to buy whole wheat breads, but this one, not really. Since first trying this, this is yet another TJ product I’ve been become totally hooked on. I must have Tuscan Pane on hand at all times now. I keep it in the freezer; it keeps well frozen at least a week or two.

This bread can be the base of many easy sandwich, snacks and other recipes (croutons? yes!) I make quick and easy Bruschettas using this all the time. Here’s a fast, simple recipe:

BRUSCHETTA

-TJ’s Tuscan Pane

-Fresh garlic, ripe tomato, olive oil

Grill or toast a few slices of bread. When golden brown, immediately rub a cut clove of garlic on the bread. Take a slice of ripe tomato and ’smush’ it into your toast. If you want to be neat, you can dice your tomato and top it (but rubbed in is authentic Italian or Basque Pa Amb Tomaquet style) Drizzle on a nice splash of olive oil, sprinkle with some fresh black pepper and sea salt. A little herbage (basil) on top can’t hurt, but if you don’t have, thats fine.  If you want something heartier, add some sliced or grated parmesan or other cheese or perhaps some prosciutto. Done. YUM!

Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo


This is my very first post and review on this new site! Lets make it a:

RAVE

Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo:

Great product! Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I tried this product as it looked interesting and sounded intriguing with these two words: Soy Chorizo? Whats that??

All I can say is I was really impressed by this vegetarian soy product. It tastes like, well, chorizo!  And by chorizo lets state for the record this is the “mexican style” chorizo (crumbly kind) and not the “spanish chorizo” kind that is firmer and more like a sausage which you can slice.

This stuff is really tasty and flavorful. Its is loaded with the correct spices, especially cumin and anatto plus its quite nicely spicy. All of which really makes it taste “real” to me. I’ve used it in so many ways, and you can come up with more easily…. Use it crumbled on top of eggs (delicious), used it as a taco filling mixed with potatoes, onions and other veggies; added it to pan fried hash browns; added to lentil stew or soup; even put it on top of pizza instead of sausage! Its good in many things, and a little bit goes a long way to flavor other ingredients. You can even make a un-vegetarian taco filling with half beef and half this stuff sauteed up together.

Its is so tasty I don’t even notice or care if its real or “fake meat”, so its a product that is good for both vegetarians and omnivores, and the occasional vegetarian like yours truly. Whats not to like? A 12 oz package is $1.99, and I find 12 oz of this really goes pretty far. Its a popular item. If you Google ‘Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo’, you will find tons of fans and recipes for it. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is highly recommended product to try.

One tip though. This stuff is VERY messy to work with once you open the package, so be sure to carefully cut open the plastic casing it comes in. When stored I’ve found the dark red anatto colored oil in it has a tendancy to “leak” so be sure to rewrap it carefully, as it stains! I always put another plastic bag around it, or spoon the leftovers into a glass jar. I find it can keep a fairly long time in the fridge, a week or two easily.

Here is a recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms that sounds good from the Cooking with Trader Joe’s blog. I have to try this, it sounds yummy and easy.

OK Readers: What do you think of TJ Soy Chorizo? What do you use it for? If you have any ways you like to use it or recipes, please leave them here in the Comments.

UPDATE: Price I saw recently was increased to $2.29 now (Spring 2018)

 

RECIPE – QUESADILLAS

Ingredients:

Soy Chorizo

Tortillas (Wheat/Corn or Corn)

Monterey Jack Cheese with Peppers

Baby Wild Arugula

Chopped tomatoes – or salsa

Put a little oil in a pan large enough to hold 2 tortillas; put down some Soy Chorizo on top of tortillas; top this with grated cheese; top this with some arugula and tomatoes or salsa. Cook until pliable and fold the tortillas over into half moons. Cook until bottom side is a little crispy and cheese is melted; press down gently. Top with a little salsa or hot sauce or Sriracha (optional) and more fresh arugula, or cilantro

Eat and enjoy!

 

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