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Trader Joe's Yea/Nay Thread - November 2012

We have decided to go to a monthly thread through the end of the year for Trader Joe's. This thread is for November 2012. This is prime cooking season for the holidays starting with Thanksgiving and Trader Joe's has a ton of Thanksgiving offerings. Let the discussion begin!


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  1. Yea for the extra-firm tofu (I forget the exact name on the label). It's perfect for stir-frying; it is both more substantial in texture and has a more pronounced tofu taste than your average supermarket tofu.

    7 Replies
    1. re: aching

      Is this the one that comes in the two pack? If so, this is a staple in our home. When we can't get to the Tofu factory, we pick this up.



      1. re: Dommy

        No, it was just a one-pack. I didn't see a two-pack - I'll have to look for that the next time I'm there!

        1. re: aching

          Yes, the two pack is an organic sprouted tofu. Great flavor and texture. I love to marinade it and then grill/stirfry it. Or To crumble it and stir it up with onions, chopped tomato and dry seasonings (Like Taco Seasoning or Curry seasoning depending on mood).


      2. re: aching

        The organic super firm high protein tofu? Comes in a plastic wrap with a minimal amount of water instead of a tub?
        They also got a new aseptic box of silken tofu in that looks like mori nu brand.

          1. re: ohmyyum

            Interesting... I don't think I've seen that one and will have to give it a try! :)


          2. re: aching

            Love the super-firm tofu - all the tofus, actually. Too bad the prices have gone up! Super-firm is 2.50 up from 1.99, and the others have gone up about .50 also.

          3. Yay on the Chocolate Peppermint Loaf. I was skeptical, but the peppermint flavor was not too overwhelming.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Savour

              Loaf as in bread? Or something else?

                1. re: clubtraderjoes

                  Yep. It's a mix. Add oil, eggs and water, I think.

            2. YAY--Fresh cranberries--I compared these to a bag of another popular brand, and Trader Joe's were twice as big as a cranberry of the popular brand. I found the flavor to be better too--somehow it tastes a bit like an orange (although I know that makes little sense).

              MEH--21 Spice Seasoning Salute... makes everything taste like fish to me.

              NAY--Fried Onions--Usually I like those unhealthy fried crunchies for Thanksgiving, but I thought these were extremely greasy and they don't have a shape like the other brands.. they are just messy, oily specks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: GraceW

                Oh, I love those fried onions. They are recognizably fried onions to me, rather than funyuns.

              2. Yea on the new Gluten Free 3 cheese pizza. Nice cracker crisp crust and plenty of cheese and tomatoes and a good sauce!


                1. Yay- pull apart dinner rolls in the fresh bread section. these are surely seasonal
                  spiced apple cider, they were sampling this. tastes like autumn in a mug
                  tintern cheese with shallots and chives, great snacking cheese

                  Nay- strawberry coconut based "ice cream" tastes like yoplait, too much guar gum makes it taste chewy

                  1. Yea - 12 Classic Lemon Bars (frozen) - Pucker your mouth tart, and concentrated enough in flavor that one or two of these tiny squares are more than enough. Absolutely must thaw for a bit before eating though as per the instructions as they are not nearly as nice straight from the ice box.

                    Nay - Vegetable Panang Curry (frozen) - Decent enough flavor albeit overly sweet, but not nearly enough vegetables so the dish is over 95% rice and sauce. If you're fond of very sweet curries, this might be a decent starter to which you could add a lot more of your own vegetables.

                    Nay - Lemon Heart Cookies (ready to eat pouch) - Hint of lemon, more on the nose than the palate, but hindered by too chalky a texture for this shortbread style cookie. Good enough to finish, but not good enough to buy again.

                    Posting suggestion: Perhaps we could start adding in parenthesis what type of packaging or section the item is from. Seems like there are great many follow up posts asking whether something is a mix, frozen, ready to eat, jarred vs refrigerated etc.

                    With a store like TJ's where an a dessert could easily be found in 3-4 different sections (bakery / frozen / refrigerated / ready to eat boxed) it seems like this might be helpful and save time? Will also spare crew members from having to follow me around quite so often pointing out items from my Yea/Nay sourced shopping list. :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: NuMystic

                      <<Perhaps we could start adding in parenthesis what type of packaging or section the item is from.>>

                      I like that idea. I like it so much that I've been doing it for months. ;-)

                      1. re: NuMystic

                        That's funny; my Panang curry had quite a few veggies (ones that aren't my favorite). I would have traded you. ;)

                      2. Yay - mini cafe twists (in a plastic tub). These are so good! Light, crispy, cinnamony and sweet. They taste a bit like a palmier, but lighter. And only 30 calories each.

                        1. yay- cambozola cheese, delicious hybrid cheese, I ate this with the fig butter

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: olyolyy

                            That's my favoritest cheese ever!

                            1. re: tracylee

                              It's less expensive at Costco; I, too, think it's delicious.

                              1. re: walker

                                Thanks! I'll ask my folks to pick some up for me next time they go there, since they don't shop at the one where I live, and I don't have a membership. Of course, I'll have to write down the name for them, 'cause they'll never remember it!

                                1. re: walker

                                  Has anyone ever frozen the cheese????I'll be going to Costco soon,my closest Costco is 250 miles from here,I love that cheese and here in a grocery store I've seen it at almost $25.00 per pound,so I'd like to stock up on it.

                                  1. re: mutti

                                    That's a story that won't end well. :)

                                    As a general rule you can get away with freezing cheese if you're just going to cook with it.

                                    Freezing/unfreezing will change the texture making it dryer and crumbly due to frozen water crystals expanding throughout so this won't work with finer cheeses you are wanting to eat straight.

                                    1. re: NuMystic

                                      Yes indeed, although softer cheeses freeze better than hard cheeses.

                                      Speaking of cheese -- have they always had the Delice de Bourgogne, or is that new? With the Old Amsterdam aged gouda (not the Thousand Day, which was not good) and the Artisan Cheddar, that makes for a nice cheese plate.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        They've had the Delice for a while at my TJ's. I find with good cheeses like that, the quality really suffers from being shrink wrapped for so long. Delice cut fresh at a cheese shop is a lot better (admittedly more $$ too).

                                2. re: olyolyy

                                  Another Yay for the Cambozola.

                                  Basically it's like a funked up pimped out Brie wedge. Same creamy texture as brie but with a subtle hint of the musty blue cheese funk the Gorgonzola brings to the party.

                                  Definitely not one to keep out in front of you as it took a great deal of self restraint not to finish the whole thing in one sitting. And this coming from someone that doesn't generally care for blue cheese in anything but the smallest doses. So no need for the stinky-cheese-o-phobes to steer clear.

                                3. Yay- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (bag). Obviously homemade are best, but for a busy student these are a great snack. Touch salty, but I like salty things so that's fine by me!

                                  Yay- Rolled Oats and Peanut Butter Fiberful Granola Bars (box by the cereal). Fantastic! Tastes like a chocolate peanut butter cup was mashed up with oats and made into a granola bar. I grab one with a banana for an on the go breakfast. Not too much sugar, which I really like. Tasty little bar!

                                  1. There was some discussion a few months back about the frozen pie dough and its tendency to break apart. I finally got it to work perfectly, and here's what I did:

                                    First, when you defrost the dough overnight in the fridge, take the rolls out of the box. I somehow missed this before.

                                    Then give it a LONG time to defrost on the counter. I conducted an unintentional experiment on this, as I asked my husband to take them out of the fridge when he got home, and he only took out one. I came home about two hours later and took out the other one. The first one, which was out for at least two hours before I unrolled it (probably a little more), was PERFECT, no cracks at all. The second, which was out for about 45 minutes (the time it says on the box!) was close, but the two innermost rolls cracked a bit. (Of course, the cracks stitch back together in the oven.)

                                    So, I am standing behind my Yea on the pie dough, with the caveat that you won't be making any last-minute pies. But it is flaky and tasty and contains no lard.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sciencediet

                                      I should probably add that I live in Maine and it was pretty cold here yesterday, and the heat was not cranking. In a warmer environment it would probaby thaw faster.

                                      1. re: sciencediet

                                        I'm too disgruntled they stopped making an all butter pie crust to try the new one with palm oil.

                                      2. YAY YOWZA YAY! Kona Coffee Cream half-dipped Shortbread Cookies. Everything a shortbread cookie should be, with a wonderful real coffee taste. Made with the right ingredients in the correct ratio. Seriously, seriously good.

                                        Does anyone remember the Haymarket coffee snaps that upscale groceries used to sell? These remind me of those, but the TJs are thicker.

                                        I can go either way on the half dipped frosting. That's probably the only reason I didn't eat the entire box. There are only 12 cookies to the box, which is good for portion control.

                                        1. There were yeas for TJ's cat food in the other thread, and I want to share that information with a friend, but I haven't been able to find the posts. Maybe it's just me, but I wonder if our moderators haven't been at work. If those messages are still somewhere on Chowhound, could someone point me to them? Thanks much.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: John Francis

                                            Definitely the work of moderators. Seems to have been moved here:

                                            Would be nice if they would link to the moved posts when they do that. :-/

                                            1. re: NuMystic

                                              Thanks! Actually, it's more convenient for my friend not to have to pluck that topic out of nearly 400 messages in the Yea/Nay thread, but don't tell the moderators that. :-) But a notice within the thread of what's been done and a cross-reference to the new location really does seem to be in order.

                                              1. re: NuMystic

                                                They seem to have mistakenly moved a yay for Pumpkin Macarons. Unless the poster meant that his cat liked them.

                                                1. re: aching

                                                  Seems (amongst so many other limitations) the forum software here only allows the moderators to pick a single post to move, thereby taking everything else beneath it which is why the macarons review got hijacked.


                                                  1. re: aching

                                                    This is great--now I am picturing a cat breaking into the freezer, defrosting and then consuming all of the owner's macarons. :o)

                                                    1. re: GraceW

                                                      I can actually see my cats doing that. :) One of my cats loves pumpkin ice cream, and the other loves anything cake-like.

                                              2. Nay - pecan pie ice cream. tastes overwhelmingly of artifical maple flavoring. Otherwise would be good. Needs more pie crust. While not outstanding as ice cream it worked out melted as a topping for french toast

                                                1. Qualified YAY to Trader Ming's szechuan style SPICY BEEF & BROCCOLI (frozen). The pepper sauce zooms to the throat with nary a linger across the taste buds. I liked that alot!

                                                  The sesame-crusted beef pieces cooked up very nicely and were very tender.

                                                  The broccoli? Farmed and packed in Mexico. The pouch in our meal had several large and inedible stalk pieces.

                                                  Would buy this two portion meal again.

                                                  1. First time going to TJ's- there is not one in my small town, but one nearby just ~40 minutes away, don't know what took me so long!

                                                    In order of impressiveness:

                                                    YAY yay YAY: Pumpkin macarons. Sooo good. Mine had that nice delicate crunch when thawed, soft and slightly gooey inside, nice pumpkin flavor but quite sweet. Serving size of 2 was plenty, and only 90 calories!

                                                    YAY x2: Coconut chips. I love coconut, so no surprise here. Very coconuty, fairly sweet and rich tasting with a little salt added to round out the flavor. Recommend.

                                                    YAY: Kale Chips. This was my first time trying kale chips and I really enjoyed them. I liked the lemon flavor that others found overpowering.

                                                    YAY: candied, not crystallized ginger: Again, I LOVE ginger, so was biased on this. Nice and hot and sweet, but not overly sweet and sugared like crystallized ginger caked with granulated sugar.

                                                    Yay: roasted pumpkin seeds. Very good, better and more homemade-tasting than most packaged pumpkin seeds, but not *quite* as good as homemade.

                                                    yay: Medjool dates: good, but no different than any other medjools. All of the dates I have tried so far out of the package have been nice and moist, none dried out like you sometimes find.

                                                    yay: the Kona coffee dipped shortbreads. Good strong coffee flavor. I found the icing a little too thick and sweet but I am not a big sweets eater.

                                                    yay/ meh: SnapPea crisps. Tasty but slightly bland. I have had these before from other stores and they were basically the same.

                                                    meh: chocolate hazelnut filled shortbreads. Cookie was ok, the filling tasted good but was too thick and gummy textured to me. I was picturing the filling being more soft and creamy, like a schmear of Nutella. Doubt I will go through the trouble of returning them, but I probably won't eat them myself, but I can take them to work and put them in the kitchen where anything left unattended is inhaled. :)

                                                    Overall a successful trip and I was impressed with my first TJ's visit. The store was very crowded, which could be expected on a Saturday afternoon, and the employees were all very friendly and helpful. I bought quite a few frozen entree/lunch items that I haven't tried yet- several of the Indian entrees, Chinese dumplings and steamed buns, and sweet potato and regular gnocchi that I look forward to trying.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: stargazer77

                                                      I so wanted to love the Kona Shortbreads.... sadly they were much too sweet too me and the texture a little TOO crisp...

                                                      I did however like the Frozen Chicken Mole. Really good mole flavor and the chicken was tasty. The only thing I didn't like was the rice. It was sticky and in the end such a small amount overpowered by the mole chicken. I would rather it just be a tray of mole chicken and use it to make tacos or enchiladas...


                                                      1. re: Dommy

                                                        I agree, the more I eat them (not tempted to over eat since I don't love them but like them well enough to have one with coffee every so often) the icing is really too thick and sweet. I like the undipped half of the cookie a lot, the coffee flavor is really good. So I would amend the yay to a meh (not bad enough for a nay).

                                                        I also got the frozen chicken mole but haven't tried it yet. Yay to the frozen pork bao but meh on the spicy shrimp.

                                                        1. re: stargazer77

                                                          I like the side without the icing best. The icing is kind of cloyingly sweet.

                                                    2. Made my second-ever TJs trip today - much better prepared than the first time around. :-)

                                                      YEA - the frozen precooked brown rice. I seemingly cannot cook brown rice without it boiling over, so this stuff is great for me.
                                                      YEA - the little 3-pack of 72% dark chocolate by the registers. Chop those babies up and add them to your next batch of chocolate chip cookies, instead of the regular chips.
                                                      YEA - the dark chocolate coconut caramel bar (but not wild about the $1.99 price tag!)
                                                      YEA - the Speculoos Cookie Butter. Oh my gosh, this stuff is good.
                                                      NAY - the sweet potato chips. Too thick and not salted (or at least we couldn't taste it).
                                                      NAY - the Pizza Pollo Asado or whatever it's called. I didn't care for the texture, and the refried beans melted off the pizza and onto the bottom of my toaster oven.

                                                      To try: Joe's Dark Roast coffee (smells awesome), Quattro Formaggio cheese blend, whole wheat pizza dough, gluten-free frozen waffles (no, we're not g/f, but these looked good!), Nigari silken tofu (shelf-stable), TJ's organic tofu (refrigerated), red lentils, roasted coconut chips, frozen Brussel sprouts, frozen spinach & artichoke dip, sipping chocolate, "Danielle" italian sliced meat combo, TJ's traditional Marinara sauce, and Vermont Artisan white cheddar. Will report back! :-)

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: littlemrslarge

                                                        Is that the crinkle cut sweet potato chips? Those I like, and they have enough salt for me. Maybe TJ has more than one variety?

                                                        1. re: John Francis

                                                          Nope, same ones. Maybe we just got a bad bag? They weren't awful, just really bland.

                                                        2. re: littlemrslarge

                                                          YEA - the dark roast coffee. Can't beat the price and flavor!
                                                          YEA - the Quattro Formaggio. This was delicious on pizza. Which leads me to...
                                                          YEA - the whole wheat pizza crust. Smelled "alcohol-y" when I took it out of the bag, probably due to prolonged fermentation, but once it was baked and topped, it was very good. I need to work with it to get better oven spring, though.
                                                          YEA - the gluten-free frozen waffles. No funky aftertaste like with Eggo type products.
                                                          YEA/NAY - the Danielle meats. Nay on eating them straight out of the package - greasy and limp. But sliced and cooked on top of the aforementioned pizza? Made a world of difference - nice and crispy with a good bacon-y flavor.

                                                          1. re: littlemrslarge

                                                            Check out my pizza dough guide on my blog. Trader Joe's pizza dough needs a little TLC before you shape it, but it makes pretty darn good pizza crust!


                                                        3. Nay - Salmon Jerky. Super tough and processed. I haven't been a fan of their other jerky, so I guess not too surprised about this. Will be a great dog/cat treat though!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: sauterc

                                                            Agree on the salmon jerky. It's waaay too sweet for me, and tough, and processed. I am going to return it (and I almost never return things that aren't actually spoiled). Six bucks is just too much to pay for something that no one in our house wants to eat.

                                                          2. YAY-Garlic Chipotle Salsa. I could use more heat, but I LOVE the roasted flavor. --I have only had their salsa verde before (and it always molded over in less than a week..), but if anyone has salsa recs, let me know (besides this Garlic Chipotle Salsa).

                                                            1. Yay - So Delicious Minis, Chocolate flavor. I'm going to have to keep an eye out for the full sized ones once I get more freezer space.

                                                              1. I have tried a bunch of their dark chocolate candies and bars:
                                                                --Coconut Caramel filled bar;
                                                                -- Walnut and Pecan bits filled bar;
                                                                -- Double box of Assorted Filled Chocolates (excellent filling flavors:Lemon, Mocha. Crunchies. --Orange one not good/fake tasting.
                                                                --Power Berries- DANgerous,these. Concentrated tart fruit juices- cranberry, pomegranate, blueberry...cooked down to a hard jelly-like filling, dipped in dark choc. Love the tart contrast w/ the choc. Def for people who find most chocs too sweet(me, for sure.)

                                                                1. Depends a lot on where you live. Living in SF bay area (ironically one of the early TJ locations leading to its fame), I find little to take me to TJ, though lots of my friends here love it. There are so many alternatives for year-round fresh alternatives at competitive prices that do not involve being wrapped in tons of packaging. TJ is very good for prepared foods, but those are becoming easy to find all over.

                                                                  So it is interesting --and telling-- that the things that seem to excite people the most in this thread have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, as queried by OP, but are all about packaged snack foods.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                    Actually Mark this thread is not a "query" per se related to thanksgiving, this is simply the latest seasonal installment of the Trader Joe's Yea/Nay discussion which is an ongoing round up for those that regularly shop at TJ's reporting their most recent experiences. (as a quick googling of "trader joe's yea/nay" will illustrate)

                                                                    They're broken up into seasonal installments because there are SO many fans here that the threads quickly swell to an unmanageable size without such partitioning.

                                                                    If one is unfamiliar with the ongoing discussion here, it's easy to see how the title may have seemed like an inquiry as to whether you'd give TJ's itself a "Yea" or "Nay", but it is in actuality a dedicated space the TJ's faithful to share their Yea and Nay reviews of individual products found there. :)

                                                                    1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                      OP here... this is an ongoing thread that goes back years and I took it over recently. We usually do a quarterly thread and start a new one because the get so darn big! Because Trader Joe's introduces so many new food items during the Holidaze we decided to break it into a monthly thread. We talk about anything Trader Joe's here, not just the holiday stuff... Tell us what you like or don't like at Trader Joe's!


                                                                    2. A really big YAY for their triple ginger cookies...totally addictive.
                                                                      Another Yay for the tiny bite sized s'mores. When they come out of the microwave...awesome!

                                                                      1. Bought a bag of mandarins after seeing a post on here, and they are very good, sweet with no seeds! One thing, it is a very large bag but they are holding in the fridge well. I'm wondering if I can use them in Nigellas clementine cake?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: geminigirl

                                                                          I bought a bag of the mandarins and I agree, love them.


                                                                        2. Only Nay is the organic lemons...chock full of seeds!

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: bobbieesol1

                                                                            That's the trouble with organic lemons, they are not genetically modified to be seedless.

                                                                            1. re: tasteeone

                                                                              Let's be correct here. As far as I know, there is no genetically modified lemons on the market. They use regular breeding (male/female) to come up with seedless varieties, just like table grapes.


                                                                          2. YEY - soyccotash in the freezer with the veggies, its corn and soy beans -
                                                                            YEY - jar pesto, delicious and prices well -
                                                                            YEY frozen fish fillets, I like the tuna and snapper.
                                                                            YEY - Inner Peas veggie chips

                                                                            1. Yay on the Gluten Free chocolate chip cookies I was skeptical but i like the crunch
                                                                              yay to the Apple Cider

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Mksgurl1

                                                                                Fairly certain those are Tate's rebranded:


                                                                                Thought they were decent enough, but a bit too oily to want to buy them again.

                                                                              2. Well, our little college town finally got a TJ's a week ago. While I can't say that I find it nearly as awesome as Wegmans (I cook 99% of my meals from scratch, so the whole frozen dinner section is irrelevant to me), plus 50% of the products seems to be candy '-D

                                                                                However, here are some things I like so far. A list of YAYs:

                                                                                -pumpkin bread/muffin mix. I'm not a sweetie by far, but my man is, who likes a little something sweet and fluffy with his afternoon coffee. He made this with the addition of walnuts and chocolate chips, and it is really, really tasty.

                                                                                - pecan pralines. Díos míos, those suckers are good. Too good.

                                                                                - chocolate-toffee-pistachio-clusters. Ditto. Glad they were sold out of them.

                                                                                -crème fraîche. The stuff made of dreams, anyway, and $2 cheaper than at Wegmans. Win-win.

                                                                                -dolma. There was a recent discussion on the GT board about dolma/dolmades/dolmadakia, with a general dislike of store-bought dolma. Well, these are quite tasty, and not as oily/mushy as the ones at Wegmans.

                                                                                I've also had the chance to try a couple of their prepared soups (not a big soup eater, either) -- the barley chicken and some ancient grains something mush. Apart from the bad texture of the latter, both were flavorful.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                  Well let's differentiate between candy and cookies! Trader Joe's has a LOT of cookies and chocolate. They do those very well. The other thing is that they do so well are prepared meals that are either frozen or in the fridge section... Those are some of their specialties and is a growing category in all groceries stores as people cook less and less but still want high quality food.


                                                                                2. Yay - frozen (2 serving but I ate the whole thing) pasta shells with asparagus and brie. Yum! Nice and creamy with a slice of brie on top.

                                                                                  1. Nay - French Baguette. I guess I should have known that it wasn't likely to be good, but I've been surprised in the last by other TJ's bakery items so I thought I'd give it a shot. However, it was just like any other grocery store French bread - dry inside, bready, no crustiness.

                                                                                    Yea - Pumpkin Pie. They were giving out samples in the store, warm with a dollop of whipped cream, and wow, it was good.

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: aching

                                                                                      I put the bread in the oven before we ate it,and it was not bad. I love their frozen oatmeal...comes two to a pack and I get four servings out of it. I would never have thought to buy it,but DDIL reccomended it. Nice when you dont feel like making any.

                                                                                      1. re: aching

                                                                                        The breads are sourced locally, so they vary in different regions.

                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                          Mine was purchased in West LA, and I don't think would have been improved by warming in the oven.

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            I've been to Trader Joe's in several different states and they all have different breads. Here in the Seattle area the breads are quite good. In Arizona, they sucked. YMMV...


                                                                                          2. re: aching

                                                                                            For a while they had some mini baguettes that were from France, frozen. They were good.

                                                                                            As other say, fresh bread (whole uncut) is sourced locally. I'm pretty happy with the ones I find in the Seattle area.

                                                                                          3. YAY on the pecan pralines- not on my to buy again list because they were way too good!

                                                                                            Love the spiced cider.

                                                                                            Have not been impressed with new products lately:
                                                                                            NAY- Chocolate Covered Mango bites- bizarre flavor.

                                                                                            NAY on the nacho cheese kale chips- weird flavor, almost like nutritional yeast, which I love. I like making my own much better and more cost-effective.

                                                                                            Nay on the pumpkin yogurt- not a good enough flavor for the nutritional stats, but I was inspired to make my own pumpkin flavored yogurt and cream cheese- turned out great.

                                                                                            I also got a new Mediterranean dip that I did not care for at all, wish I had stuck with the hummus. I don't remember the exact name as I left it at work for the vulchers.

                                                                                            Can't wait for the Holiday Standbys to return!!!

                                                                                            1. NAY on the mini "heirloom" tomatoes from Mexico. They are flavorless balls with thick skins. Ick.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                Agreed. They look so pretty but are hard and tart.

                                                                                              2. Heads up they don't have cocoanut (baking supply) yet but will have it in next week so no 7 layer bars for Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                1. I made an interesting discovery tonight. I made both the frozen Mandarin Chicken and the Spicy Beef and Broccoli. I accidently put the chicken sauce on the beef, and therefore had to put the beef sauce on the chicken. Both were actually better that way! The sauces are very similar. Probably too similar to serve at the same meal, but I had extra people to feed tonight. Also:

                                                                                                  Moderate Yay -firecracker shrimp (frozen). The shrimp didn't get crispy but they tasted good and the sauce was good. Maybe I'll try in a frying pan next time.

                                                                                                  Yay - spicy shrimp bao and cha siu bao (both frozen). I liked the shrimp bao. My husband said the cha siu bao were good too (I don't eat pork). Not sure how they compare with the ones you would buy at an Asian grocery.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                    I had the same experience with the firecracker shrimp.

                                                                                                    Yea to the frozen in a blizzard chocolate cookies. A very alluring texture.
                                                                                                    Meh to the mini gingerbread cakes. Good flavor but I like them damper.

                                                                                                  2. YAY - in the frozen section there is a Farfarelle (sp?) pasta with spinach and 4 cheeses. I had it for lunch today and it was really good! A good sized serving, the spinach was bright green and had a good flavor and the cheese was not overpowering. Plus, it had a slightly buttery flavor. I will be buying this again.

                                                                                                    1. yea organic celery. i bought a head in early october for a recipe and put the remainder in the back of the fridge. discovered it yesterday. it was still crisp and flavorfull.

                                                                                                      1. Eh--Peppermint Jo Jo cookies--I know people like these, but I tried the filling (I don't like the black part of Oreo-type cookies), and it was way too sugary for me. I almost bought the 'assorted' Jo Jo's to take to relatives... but I am glad I did not. They would definitely think they are too sweet.

                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                          John bought a box last week of the Peppermint Jo Jo cookies and ate almost the whole package in one evening. I managed to get about six of them and enjoyed them. To be honest I seem to have the never ending head cold with a mildly upset tummy and these were soothing and gave me some temporary relief.
                                                                                                          At least John spread his binge out over a few hours. The first time I bought him a package about three years ago he ate the whole thing in half an hour and felt really sick afterwards for some reason. He said he just could not stop eating them.

                                                                                                          1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                            I think the cookies have to be eaten all together - the cookie part is not that sweet and a little salty and complements the very sweet filling. Might not be your bag, though.

                                                                                                            Yay: Chocolate coated peppermint mallows. Nice and cooling.
                                                                                                            Yay: Cauliflower Gratin side -- not good for me but so tasty!

                                                                                                            1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                              Too sweet? Cookies? come on! Don't try the dark chocolate dipped Joe Joe's then...


                                                                                                              1. re: clubtraderjoes

                                                                                                                Oh I don't know Steve, I've got an enormous sweet tooth and adore many of TJ's confections but I've also found that a few of their most popular items were too sweet for even my taste… Triple Ginger Ice Cream for example was a disappointment after all the positive buzz with sugar overwhelming the other flavors far more than even typical Ben and Jerry's or Haagen Daaz imo.

                                                                                                                Whereas the Ginger Snaps, Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Dunkers, Almondictive bits, and countless others all hit the balance just right for me.

                                                                                                                That said I can't imagine anyone expecting the cream filling on it's own to be anything other than tooth crackingly sweet. Too sweet as opposed to what? Real oreo filling is basically pure sugar and binder. Same for most wafer cookie fillings. It's meant to be balancing the less sweet cookie by design, so the filling on it's own is an unfair basis for judgement.

                                                                                                                1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                  I am waiting for Trader Joe's to come out with "Joe-Joe" butter.. which would be cookie-butter made of Joe-joes.. now that would be especially TOO SWEET!

                                                                                                              2. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                I finally picked up a box of these this year and had one of my "moments". Last night at snack time I pulled out the box, looked at it, and thought: "I thought I'd gotten something peppermint, but here it says Candy Cane!" I was so disappointed. Duh, I guess it's been a long time since I've had a candy cane. I'd completely forgotten they were peppermint, and was thinking it was just creme filling with candy bits for texture.

                                                                                                                They get a big Yay.

                                                                                                              3. Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                                                                                We had a very Trader Joe's thanksgiving thanks to the opening of their store in Albany.

                                                                                                                As usual, the pre-brined all natural turkey was delicious. I was just so happy not to have to import one from Boston or New Jersey.

                                                                                                                Other yays: the cheese soaked in wine (sorry I can't remember the name of it), the goat cheese log with garlic and herbs, sesame melba round crackers, multigrain crackers, fresh sweet potatoes in 2 lb bags, canned corn (really sweet and crisp, was great in my corn pudding), cream of portabella mushroom soup (very mushroomy and nice in the casserole that I make with peas instead of green beans), turkey gravy in the box (so glad I bought this because we did the turkey on the grill and most of the juices cooked off), crescent rolls (not as chemical tasting as pillsbury), sparkling cider, chocolate covered peppermint jo-jos (yum!) and peanut brittle.

                                                                                                                Mixed: the cornbread stuffing from the box. I thought it was overly sage tasting and gummy but my family loved it. I did add sauteed onion and celery to it, as well as some plain dried bread cubes, which helped the consistency a lot because they stayed a bit firmer.

                                                                                                                Not sure: the vegetable broth and canned pumpkin. I used these in my curried pumpkin soup and it came out thinner and very oniony tasting. But I had also done the onions a different way, so it may have been due to that. Too many variables in one experiment.

                                                                                                                Meh: fried onions in the can. They were like feathery shreds and rather greasy. They did have a good oniony taste, though. If you've ever bought fried shallots in a jar at an Asian grocery, they were very much like those. Which are ok in some things, but not in my thanksgiving casserole.

                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                  We did a fairly Trader Joe's heavy Thanksgiving this year (mainly because of my blog). Brined Turkeys is always a hit and cooks really nice. You can look at my blog and see my ratings on many of their Thanksgiving products, but the packaged stuffings are all crummy. Make your own. Turkey Gravy sucks. Make your own.

                                                                                                                  The mashed potatoes in the box are quite good, as where the ones in the fridge section. I'm not sure if they have frozen ones this year but they are good too.

                                                                                                                  I really liked the Portabella mushroom soup for casseroles, Fried onions were like crack for me, I kept eating handfuls from the can. The frozen pumpkin pies are really good. Many of the side dishes like the cauliflower, sweet potatoes and such in the fridge section were pretty darn good. I really liked the Spiced apple cider. So did the kids!

                                                                                                                  On to the Christmas stuff!


                                                                                                                  1. re: clubtraderjoes

                                                                                                                    Big bellowing YEA - Apple Pie in the fresh baked goods section. The ones with the super "rustic" (read: messy and uneven) crust topping.

                                                                                                                    Sweet without being cloying, huge bites of walnut goodness under the crust topping, and an exceptionally unique toothsome quality to the apples.

                                                                                                                    You know the way most apples in pie are very soft and buttery in texture? Well these were much more dense without being undercooked at all. I'm guessing they were oven baked first to achieve the very slightly dehydrated quality.

                                                                                                                    Enough of a revelation that I'm going to be trying that myself for parfaits, crumbles, and pies in the future. (even if it's not what created that quality in this pie)

                                                                                                                    1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                      The fresh baked goods are sourced locally. Where did you buy the apple pie?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                        Queens, NY

                                                                                                                        These weren't in the bakery section, but a full display near the registers which gave me the (possibly false) impression that these weren't the usual locally sourced fare. On my next visit I'll take note of the label and report back.

                                                                                                                        1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                          So it would seem this particular apple pie wasn't a seasonal (Thanksgiving item) as I suspected.

                                                                                                                          Just saw it again in the Queens, NY location and got the name… Trader Joe's Bakeshop Apple Pie.

                                                                                                                          Not to be confused with the Piled High Apple Pie which they have also been selling for the last couple of weeks.

                                                                                                                          Best store bought apple pie I've ever had hands down.

                                                                                                                    2. re: clubtraderjoes

                                                                                                                      That's interesting Steve and AmyH that you liked the portabella mushroom soup. It sounds like I should give it another try this year. I tried it last year and thought it was pretty bland and tasted of "box", but maybe they changed the formula. Do you mean the mushroom soup in a little shelf stable tetra pak box?

                                                                                                                      I'm also a NAY on last year's turkey gravy. No flavor even when salted (as-is it's pretty low sodium which was nice) and it also had some "box" flavor that was hard to disguise. Thanks for trying it out Steve. Sounds like I don't need to give it a second chance this year. :-)

                                                                                                                      1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                                                                                                        Yes, the mushroom soup in the tetra pak box. My friend that joined us for thanksgiving dinner loves mushroom soup. She tasted a finger swipe from the box after I had added it to my casserole. She thought it was wonderful so I bought her two boxes (she doesn't live near a TJ's).

                                                                                                                        1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                          Awesome, thanks. I love mushrooms and mushroom soup and am eager to give it a second try.

                                                                                                                  2. Yea for the red seedless grapes - they're really crisp and flavorful.

                                                                                                                    Yea for the following cheeses (in order of preference): Goat Gouda, Italian Truffle, and Cambozola. All three were excellent with the Rosemary Raisin Crisps - also a yea.

                                                                                                                    1. NAY - Chunky Spicy Guacamole Autentico (refrigerated)

                                                                                                                      Just very poorly seasoned apart from the more than ample heat. Even after adding chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and more salt it was only just barely edible.

                                                                                                                      YAY - Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

                                                                                                                      Not as good as home made, bounds above pillsbury, and better than most pre-made dough I've had. Smooth risers, smallish chips, and not as overly sweet as most frozen dough cookies.

                                                                                                                      NAY - Decaf Coffee (whole bean)

                                                                                                                      I've officially given up on trying TJ's decaf at this point. Have tried the "Smooth & Really Mellow" (undrinkable degree of sourness), Italian Roast (bitter and burnt), and now the French Roast which was the best of the three but short of 7-Eleven / Starbucks quality which isn't saying much.

                                                                                                                      All brewed using a kitchen scale, Baratza burr grinder, Frieling Press, and Kalorik digital temp controlled kettle filled with filtered water following James Hoffman's methodology. (World Barista Champion 2007)

                                                                                                                      Fairway French Roast Decaf is still our reigning supermarket champ even with their beans being left out all day which astounds me.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                        I try to keep some of the chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer at all times. I usually end up making half a box of it in my convection oven for an after dinner treat. I've made as few as four cookies just to make the house smell wonderful. Instant mood elevator!
                                                                                                                        I'll admit to being a compulsive food tinkerer so I usually add some walnuts or pecans to the cookies. I put them on top so they toast.

                                                                                                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                          I'm also constantly doctoring packaged food but it never dawned on me to upgrade frozen cookie dough. I am without a doubt adding some crushed walnuts to the remaining half a box.

                                                                                                                          Thank you so much for mentioning that!

                                                                                                                          1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                            Have fun NuMystic. Sometimes I even press a few more chocolate chips into the dough. /blush

                                                                                                                      2. Another yay for the frozen spinach. Really tender, and not as many stems or brown pieces as I've found in the Wegmans brand.

                                                                                                                        Also, the smoked sardines in olive oil are delicious.

                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                          Would love to hear what you are all doing with the frozen spinach!

                                                                                                                          I've always steered completely clear of frozen spinach as I've always been turned off by the distinct flavor of frozen spinach which I find very identifiable when it's used in things like spinach pie, dips, or even indian food.

                                                                                                                          Does the TJ's spinach somehow avoid that same flavor? And if so, what are the people that love it using it for?

                                                                                                                          1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                            I haven't found the frozen spinach I buy to have any off-taste, but that may well be because of how I season mine? I usually thaw it in the pot with a little water or broth over med heat, remove excess water, put back in. I might add a little white or red wine (depends on the mood), garlic, and a touch of light cream or crème fraiche in the end.

                                                                                                                            Sometimes, I'll sweat half a diced onion before I add the (thawed) spinach.

                                                                                                                            I recently made a spinach gratin which was tasty, but needs more substance/heft. Just tossed with some parmesan, light cream, flour, and salt & pepper, topped with panko and grated Swiss, baked in a buttered pan at 375° until golden brown. I love spinach.

                                                                                                                            1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                              When I was single I'd microwave a bag full of it with a liberal portion of crumbled feta and call it dinner.

                                                                                                                              1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                                                                TJ's sells two kinds of frozen chopped spinach, don't they? Organic and not. I'm halfway through a bag of the organic and it tastes just fine to me.

                                                                                                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                That reminds me - I really like the frozen kale. I throw it into whatever pot of soup I happen to be making - minestrone, lentil, etc. - and it adds a nice extra dimension without being overpowering.

                                                                                                                                1. re: aching

                                                                                                                                  +1 on the frozen kale. When I buy it fresh, I tend to freeze it first before using anyhow, because I read that it helps soften it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                                                                                                                    I've used frozen both from TJ and WF. However when I buy whole fresh, I trim out the stalk before blanching. Frozen, and and TJ's fresh is chopped, stems and all. But frozen is a nice backup when fresh isn't available or more expensive.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                      Same here. I like the TJ's frozen in green smoothies where I can obliterate the stems into nothingness, but I always take that stalk off when I buy fresh.

                                                                                                                                2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                  Good to hear about the sardines. Mackerel and sardines are common "picnic" dinners for me when traveling in Europe, so I'll have to give TJ's version a GO.

                                                                                                                                  Actually, another part of my picnics is mozzarella di bufala, or sometimes mascarpone; how are those two products at Trader Joe's?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                                    Ya know, I bought some buff'lo mozz, but haven't had the chance to try it yet. At a whopping $6.99 per ball, it better be good. Maybe it'll be our appetizer for tonight....

                                                                                                                                    You can get buffalo mozz in Germany for a little under 2€ >sigh<

                                                                                                                                3. Yay - had some "Just Sauce" Turkey Bolognese (frozen) tonight over some linguine. It was really quite good. We needed two packages for the 3 of us (over 3/4 lb pasta). I had to laugh at the stovetop instructions that said to put it in a pot over low heat for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through. Maybe if it was already thawed, but from frozen it took about 20 minutes over medium heat.

                                                                                                                                  1. Another yay -- the canned corn: crisp, sweet, delicious.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                      It was fantastic in my corn pudding on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                                    2. Pretty good - reduced guilt fillet of sole with butter beans and spinach (frozen, single serving). The husband and son are away so I needed something just for me. It made a pretty nice, but small, dinner. At 190 calories, it's barely more than a yogurt, so I made some grain/rice mix for on the side. Otherwise I'd be chowing down on Joe-Joe's all night. The sauce was quite good. It had all sorts of good things in it like cilantro, poblano pepper, molasses, soy sauce, tomato. The beans were very good. The spinach and fish got a little overcooked, and I cooked it slightly less than the package instructions. I think if I get it again I'd cook it even less. Maybe 3 or 4 minutes instead of 5 1/2 to 6. The fish tasted good, though, and was still moist. All in all it was pretty good.

                                                                                                                                      1. Qualified Yea to the Gorgonzola Crackers - they're like grown-up cheez-its - great flavor. However, if you don't eat the entire box in one sitting, they get mushy very quickly - we rolled down the plastic bag and secured with a clip like we do with all other crisp items, and they were soggy only a few days later.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                          Huh -- I've never had that problem with those . . .

                                                                                                                                          1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                            I haven't had a problem with them getting mushy either. But they were a little salty to me but still great nonetheless.

                                                                                                                                          2. yea to sesame seaweed snack. sprinkled over some hot rice and voila! the child ate his entire dinner!

                                                                                                                                            1. Yea - Sipping Chocolate. Not the same as hot chocolate or cocoa, it's bittersweet, which means you control the sweetness by how much shgar or sweetener you add if any. I made it with skim milk and added a tsp of Splenda and it's fine. JPChow complains about the ingredients in the 4th quarter thread, I never tried it before just now, but I have no complaints about the finished drink (and JPChow doesn't either). All this said, I don't think this displaces Ghirardelli hot cocoa as my favorite, but I'm certainly not going to return it to the store as JPChow said he was going to do.

                                                                                                                                              1. Okay, this is December, but I was really happy to find whole, pre brined organic chicken for $2.99 per lb at TJ's here on Long Island, NY.