Trying out Trader Joe products

21 May

Recently along with trying out new restaurants when we eat out for convenience, I started buying 1 – 2 new products at Trader Joe’s whenever I go to stock up on the basics (milk, mineral water, cheese, etc.)

Usually we stay away from pre-made sauces or “meals in a box” but knowing that there are some decent products out there I figured that it would be good to know what they are when I need to put together a quick dinner.

So far, we’ve tried and like their mini quiche which comes in 3 flavors [sorry, forgot to take photos]. Charlie would like to have me make them from scratch but I don’t want to make large quiche pies only to 1) eat it all or 2) have leftovers which don’t reheat well so I’m sticking to the Trader Joe ones for now.

We have them on weekend mornings when we’re not rushed to go somewhere although at $1.99 each and taking only 10 – 15 minutes to heat up, we could probably have them as often as our arteries will let us. For some reason, I think of quiche as a very heavy and not heart-friendly food. Please correct me if this is not the case. Charlie would love it if we could have it more often.

In any case, the other two short-cut products we’ve tried are:

Kansas City style BBQ sauce and Cornbread Mix

TJ BBQ Sauce

I’m not sure why but in the same week I was craving both pulled pork sandwich and corn bread.

Ever since I read about cooking Pulled Pork Sandwiches in Ordering Disorder, I’ve been itching to make some using the Tiger Thermal Magic Cooker we got last Christmas.

*These cookers have been popular in Asia for some time. Basically, all you need to do is boil the items you want to cook in the pot with the cover on (on the stove) for 15 – 25 minutes, then you take it off the flame and put it into the insulated outer container and it will continue cooking for hours with the residual heat. With the push for more environmentally friendly ways of living, I suspect that it will be a matter of time before more Americans discover the benefits of these “magic” cookers.

I couldn’t find a slab of Boston Butt as recommended at the Asian supermarket but the shoulder meat I used turned out pretty decent anyway. All I did was stew the pork with some carrots, salt and pepper corns. Then I shredded the meat and smothered everything in the Trader Joe BBQ sauce.

To make it “healthier” I added a side of sauteed organic green chard.

Shreded pork

This turned into this

Pulled prok sandwich

On the same shopping trip I noticed that Trader Joe had its own corn bread mix so I made some black bean soup (the recipe is originally from the Moosewood Restaurant and vegetarian but Charlie makes me add ground beef and calls it “chili”).

The Corn Bread mix had some real corn kernels which looked tasty but didn’t add much texture when baked. Also, they added vanilla flavoring to the mix, which smelled great but tasted more like “cake” than bread.

Trader Joe cornbread mix insideBaked cornbread

Cornbread and Black Bean Chili plated

Chili with Cornbread

So far, that’s 2 out of 3 products that I will buy again. Hopefully my foray down TJ aisles will pan out better in the future. Let me know if you have any recommendations. I will hide the bottles/packages so Charlie won’t know when I use some “help” for dinner.

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6 Responses to “Trying out Trader Joe products”

  1. Mary May 22, 2008 at 9:40 pm #

    haha =) I love TJ! Their cake mix is so only, I tried the green tea cake, it was not very good. But their marinated meat (esp. the lamb, and the short ribs), and frozen veggies are our staple (they are cheaper than fresh ones, and taste the same). Without TJ I would be an overworked wife! hehe

  2. Ilene June 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

    Hmmm, let’s see:
    “Charlie would like to have me make them from scratch”;
    “Charlie makes me add ground beef”;
    “I will hide the bottles/packages so Charlie won’t know when I use some “help” for dinner.”
    Speaking as the head cook in our household (and happily married for over 40 years), I would suggest you take charge a little more in your own kitchen. I’m all for trying to please your husband, but if you’re the cook, it’s YOUR kitchen. Micro-managing never works for the cook or the family. As long as he likes what he’s eating, and you stay within your family budget, I think it’s up to you how you handle it. My son cooks for his family, and as long as the family likes it and they can afford it, how he puts it on the table is up to him. Just a thought.

    • jenjapan August 21, 2010 at 5:03 am #

      Ilene,

      Thanks for your encouragement…actually, I made those comments jokingly. My husband knows how difficult it is to put a meal on the table with two young kids at home all day so he constantly expresses appreciation for my cooking…

  3. ALIDA July 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    HI…I READ YOUR REMARKS ABOUT TJ’S CORNBREAD. I USED THE MIX TO MAKE THE BEST MUFFINS I EVER TASTED…
    WANT TO KNOW IF YOU TRIED THE NUTTY AND SEEDY WAFER COOKIES?? I BOUGHT A BOX TO TRY AND FELL IN LOVE…NOW THEY CANNOT BE FOUND ANYWHERE. THEY APPARENTLY DISCONTINUED THEM…..I KNOW, HOWEVER, THAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR THEM AND THE COMPANY CLAIMS THEY DID NOT SELL AS WELL AS EXPECTED. DO YOU HAVE ANY INFO ON THIS PRODUCT?? I WOULD LOVE TO FIND THE MFG. CO. THAT PRODUCED THIS. I BELIEVE THIS IS AN ASIAN COMPANY.
    THANKS.
    ALIDA

    • jenjapan August 21, 2010 at 5:07 am #

      Hi Alida,

      Sorry for the very late reply – as you can see I don’t update often and most of the time don’t even notice that people are leaving comments. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I’ve actually tried a lot more Trader Joe products – just haven’t had the time to update the blog with new reviews.

      So I’m curious, how do you make the yummy muffins you mentioned? Do you use the cornbread mix as a base? What else do you do to it?

      As for the wafer cookies – I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about. Are they savory or sweet? Do you happen to have a photo of one? I’m not a big fan of wafers so I’m not sure if I’ve ever had the product you are looking for but my son likes TJ’s Thousand Layer crackers and they are full of sesame seeds. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d be happy to help find a substitute for you…

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  1. pork shoulder recipe - May 25, 2008

    [...] when we eat out for convenience, I started buying 1 – 2 new products at Trader Joe??s whenevehttp://jenjapan.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/trying-out-trader-joe-products/Recipes illustrate two barbecue schools Honolulu AdvertiserBarbecue purists in eastern North [...]

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