Transforming some good Tr J frozen entrees into some Excellent Quick Entrees
As you can see from my moniker, I am wicked picky. After much trial and error over the years, i have found a few Trader Joe's prepared frozen entrees that, with just 2 minutes' attention, can be made excellent.
1) Frozen Roasted Vegetable Multi grain Lasagna- as with many of the TrJ frozen entrees, this is heavy in starch and lacking in protein, but the flavors and fresh vegetables are excellent. We prefer this of all the frozen lasagnas we have had, but we are not vegetarians. Here's how I make a really excellent (but non-vegetarian) dish out of it.:
Pop the lasagna out into an oiled ceramic dish(similar in size), cover w/foil, and bake. While it is baking, place 8 ou. sweet Italian sausage (3 links), pricked, on a small baking sheet and bake with the lasagna. It should quickly cook through (5-7 minutes). Remove sausage, cool and slice each link in half lengthwise, then in 1/4" slices. Crumble about 4 ou. goat cheese. About 15 min. before the lasagne is finished baking, remove it from the oven and remove the foil. Cut the lasagna in half. Remove the top 2/3 of one of the 2 halves, arrange half of the sausage to cover it. Replace the top 2/3, then remove just the top layer of pasta. Spread w/ half the goat cheese; replace the top. Repeat this with the other lasagna half. Cover with foil, return to oven and bake til very hot inside. Serve.(w/ optional TrJ Parmesan Crisps) and salad.
2) Chicken Chilaquiles.
Pop out frozen chilaquiles into an oiled ceramic baking dish (similar in size). Cover w/ foil and bake as directed. 15 min. before finished, remove from the oven, remove the foil and cut the casserole in half. " Fold back" or remove top half of each half and top each half with 1/3 to 1/2 pkg., defrosted, of Tr Joes frozen Pork Al Pastor.(Optional- mix the pork with some jarred TrJ Salsa Verde).Replace chilaquiles top, recover w/ foil, return to oven to complete the baking til very hot inside. Serve (w/ optional Layered Mexican Dip or heated canned Tr J Refried Beans) and salad.
3) Chicken Tikka Masala- follow directions to microwave/cook but remove from microwave a few minutes early. Top chicken w/ 3-4 T. heavy cream, mix w/ spoon, return to finish cooking. Optional- serve with plain yoghurt mixed w/ defrosted frozen TrJ Cilantro cubes; TrJ foil pouch Indian dal ,and baked frozen Deep brand Potato Samosas and Onion Naan from an Indian food store
Your tikka masala sounds good because the addition of the cream would cut down on that over-seasoned taste that is present in so many of TJ's frozen entrees. I only buy a few of them now, usually for emergency dinners for the kids. However, I love their frozen precooked grilled chicken strips. They make excellent cheating fajitas and quesadillas for my picky 13 yo son. As far as lasagna goes, it's just so easy to make from scratch that it hardly seems worth the trouble to doctor up TJ's version.