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Trader Joe's Yay/Nay Thread - March 2013 [OLD]

New month, new thread! Winter is coming to a close - here come the springtime goodies at Trader Joe's!

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  1. Yay: jelly beans. Normally available in the small 5oz boxes up by the register. 15oz bag contained the same flavors and was less $/oz. Apparently, these are only available thru Easter.

    Meh? Cowboy caviar salsa (jarred). It was just ok. There was a fair amount of corn in it and I think that made it a bit too sweet, but fans of the corn salsa would probably enjoy it. There wasn't any discernible heat as far as I could tell (and I have a pretty low tolerance for heat), and it would have been better balanced with a higher bean to corn ratio. I am not sure if I would buy it again because I think I could easily and more economically whip up a better version from scratch from pantry ingredients.

    Undecided: March spotlight cheese, Pesto Gouda. Love the festive green color for St Patrick's day and the arrival of spring. The flavor took me back to a taste of my childhood but I couldn't quite place my finger on it! (Can anyone tell me what familiar flavor this cheese has?!) It would be great in a grilled cheese sandwich, especially with some sliced tomato, and I would perhaps use it in a pasta dish, but I wouldn't just serve it with your standard entertaining cracker assortment. The rosemary flatbread crackers might work though.

    Thanks for starting a new thread littleflower!

    4 Replies
    1. re: ohmyyum

      Absolutely! These threads have become invaluable for ideas on what's good to try at TJ's.

      1. re: ohmyyum

        I can't wait to try March spotlight cheese.

        1. re: ohmyyum

          +1 on the cheese - my first thought was that it would be great in a turkey sandwich to replace a pesto spread, but I'm not 100% sure I love it...was fun for a novelty, but I probably won't buy again.

          1. re: ohmyyum

            Ohmyyum, your mentioning jelly beans reminded me to bring up the subject of TJ's coffee candy, Coffee Rio caramels. They come in a huge bag and last forever. Intensely coffee. Handy to carry a few of in the pocket when traveling---very reviving. The stores all hide them in different places but the employees always know where to find them.

          2. Yay - Organic Tomato Basil Marinara

            One of the only jarred marinaras I could find in the section that wasn't sugar sweetened and was on the chunky rather than thin side. Very nice flavor and texture. Will definitely be a repeat purchase.

            8 Replies
            1. re: NuMystic

              This is our go-to choice for jarred marinara sauce - this one requires little to no doctoring up to make it taste more like homemade.

              1. re: NuMystic

                NuMystic not sure if you are a fan of adding wine to marinara, but last night we tried the Organic Tomato Basil Marinara with a good quality red added in and just that simple addition took the sauce to a whole other level of deliciousness.

                1. re: littleflower

                  Will most definitely do so when I crack the next jar. I'm all for boozey food! :)

                  Thanks so much for the suggestion!

                  1. re: littleflower

                    My favorite non-homemade sauce. I also add a little bit of my red wine to it. But, what is do is to put it in the jar after pouring out the sauce, put the lid back on and shake the bottle It gets the rest of sauce out of the jar!!

                  2. re: NuMystic

                    We buy this often. It's a great sauce, and great price.

                    1. re: NuMystic

                      Thanks for the recommendation, NuMystic. I have never bought pre-made pasta sauce but am eating this right now on your recommendation. It is very good with a taste of fresh basil. I just heated it up in the serving bowl in the microwave.

                      1. re: RussTheRaccoon

                        Glad you're enjoying it Russ!

                        I'm not a huge fan of jarred sauce either but this has become a pantry staple now.

                        I can go months without using a jar but it's great having something I know is tasty to reach for when I do need something that takes no longer than a twist of the lid.

                    2. Nay - hake en papillote (frozen). A sliver of fish on a layer of zucchini (mostly) in a watery pool; not much food, not much flavor, displeasing texture.

                      Meh - lentil soup (canned). Very thick texture, hardly any flavor; even with 28% of the mdr of sodium, I had to add quite a lot of salt. The outsized can holds three servings of 1 cup each, which is inconvenient for most households.

                      Meh - roasted chicken patties (refrigerated). two 4-oz patties of ground meat that show grill marks on the top but don't have much flavor of the kind I associate with grilling or roasting. Rather rubbery texture. TJ's frozen turkey burgers are better in every way - delicious.

                      Meh - Aloo Chat Kati Pouches (frozen). I've liked this in restaurants, but TJ's has a rather tough-textured pastry pouch, and the chilis kind of submerge the savory flavor of the vegetables.

                      (Catching up with what's new in the February Fearless Flyer. Not much luck this time, but more to come.)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: John Francis

                        Won't change your impression of the filling of course, but I've found that the Kati Pouches benefit from a higher temp and longer time in my toaster oven. Shared your impression of their exterior until I left them in longer by accident once. Now I always wait until the ends look like they're close to being overdone.

                        1. re: John Francis

                          I have yet to try a turkey burger that I have liked (pre-prepared or homemade) but have heard good things about TJ's frozen turkey burgers, so much so that I'm going to have to give these a try - thanks for your input on them.

                          1. re: littleflower

                            The package instructions for sautéing (which is how I do them) call for 8-10 minutes on each side. I do it about half as long on medium high heat, until both sides are well browned. Don't know if the inside temp is 165° as prescribed, but the result looks done all the way through and is juicy and delicious, and I haven't dropped dead yet.

                          2. re: John Francis

                            I agree with you on the lentil soup. I thought that it had an oddly fishy taste to it.

                          3. Semi-Yay: Cheddar Rocket Crackers - while I do not yet have kids, I can see where these would be perfect for them. As for my personal tastes, they were good and somehow became addicted the more I ate them by the clean cheddar taste in them and their crunchiness - but were left longing for Cheez-Its! The Cheddar Rocket Crackers are not as salty or buttery as Cheez-Its are, but certainly a lot more healthy.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: littleflower

                              sort of like a cross between cheezits and goldfish. I was looking for a TJ knock off of Cheezits, and they suggested this. It was ok for a knockoff of goldfish, but if you want Cheezits, go to Nabisco.

                              1. re: jwg

                                Agreed. Cheezits have a delicious tang to them that these crackers lack.

                                1. re: jwg

                                  I sort of hate to even admit this here and this is taking this quite a bit off-topic, but we had some garlic butter sauce leftover from a rare take-out pizza night and had an idea to try tossing the Cheddar Rocket Crackers with some of the garlic sauce and added a litte salt to them. Let's just say the whole bag of cheddar crackers were gone in one sitting - the healthy aspect of the crackers went out the window but the flavor was wow!!

                                2. re: littleflower

                                  I need to look harder for these in the Greater Boston Area. Are they on top of the freezer with the other crackers or in the chips and popcorn aisle?

                                  1. re: Berheenia

                                    They are both on top of the freezer and in the new product section at my stores.

                                    1. re: olyolyy

                                      I've seen the Cheddar Rocket Crackers at both of those places in my store (over the freezers and in new products), and also prominently displayed up front by the registers.

                                  2. re: littleflower

                                    Finally got a box yesterday and as we had skipped lunch in the confusion of losing an hour we tore into the box as soon as we got out the door. Afraid it was Eh! Not worth the empty calories.

                                  3. Yay: the kimchee is back! TJ's kimchee in a pouch is great stuff, but was discontinued due to leaking issues many moons ago... but happily it's reappeared. At $2 or so a pouch it's a great deal for good quality kimchee.

                                    Yay?: for the new dried kimchee. These are tiny little shards of crunchy air-dried kimchee with an intense fermented-fish flavor. Never had anything like it before. I'm sure there's something cool I can do with this stuff, just need to figure it out.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      that dried kimchee would be good used like dried shrimp in a thai/lao som tam dressing over shredded green papaya.

                                      or, for snacking with cocktails, the dried kimchee could be rolled with cream cheese in puff pastry pinwheels.

                                        1. re: bear

                                          Yes, it's refrigerated. I bought it a while back and thought it was decent, though a bit light on the chiles for me. Unfortunately the latest pouch I bought up blew up like a balloon in my fridge before I even had a chance to open it, so I returned it...and forgot to pick up a replacement.