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Trader Joe's Yay/Nay Thread - August 2013 [old]

Summer is wrapping up in the next few weeks and Back to School time is soon follow. The Trader Joe's Back to School Fearless Flyer should be out by mid to late August, so we have that to look forward to as well!

What Trader Joe's items have you tried recently and liked, and which ones were not quite as good? Would you rate them with a Yay/Meh/or Nay?

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  1. YAY: Speculoos Cookies - okay, so when I first tried them I thought what is so special about these cookies? I had heard rave reviews but was kind of lukewarm about them in the first couple of bites. All of a sudden I realized that the whole box of cookies was gone in like two days. The addictiveness of these (mostly from the crunch and the subtle flavor of the cinnamon sugar in them) crept up on me and I can't wait to buy another box. They're even better with a cup of tea/coffee...I definitely recommend that you try them.

    8 Replies
    1. re: littleflower

      Dorie Greenspan has this recipe where you saute chunks of chicken breast in butter and then sauce it with a container of creme fraiche with a few speculoos cookies crumbled in. Sounds weird, but it's DELICIOUS.

      ETA: Here's the recipe if you're interested:
      http://leitesculinaria.com/61007/reci...

      1. re: Savour

        I have never tried creme fraiche but there's always a first time for everything - and count me in for any recipe involving crumbled Speculoos cookies!! Thanks Savour for the suggestion - will have to make this sometime.

        1. re: littleflower

          Creme fraiche is so wonderful, you need to try it even if this recipe isn't your thing. TJ's actually carries it at a good price.

        2. re: Savour

          Not so strange - sauerbraten gravy includes crumbled gingersnaps, which is probably where DG got the idea.

          1. re: Savour

            Dorie also has a recipe for speculoos themselves (around my french table)

          2. re: littleflower

            Try using the speculoos to make an ice cream sandwich with the coffee ice cream!

            And if you like the speculoos, also try the speculoo spread in a jar. It makes a nice ice cream topping.

            1. re: RussTheRaccoon

              Speculoos Cookie ice cream sandwiches with coffee ice cream?! What a great idea AND I have TJ's Coffee and Cream Bars in my freezer (I'll slice it down to size)...must try this!!! I will report back later.

              1. re: RussTheRaccoon

                You were definitely right on this one - my new favorite go-to snack is a dollop of coffee ice cream in between two Speculoos cookies...thanks for the idea RTR.

            2. Lamb vindaloo from TJ's freezer is what I keep on hand for quick 'n easy brainless dinners.

              Cheese enchiladas are another dinner standby.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Sharuf

                Chicken Tikka Masala is a staple in our freezer...cheaper than Take Out Indian and super convenient.

                1. re: littleflower

                  Another vote for the frozen Chicken Tikka Masala (but not the fridge version): Better than some we've had in restaurants.

                  1. re: littleflower

                    I'll back that and also put in a Yay for the frozen Palak Paneer.

                    http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-fl...

                    1. re: Bob W

                      I had the frozen Chana masala yesterday - big YAY for convenience, but I probably wouldn't buy them again unless I needed the convenience factor, as I can definitely do better myself. The chickpeas were a bit hard/dry/mealy and the sauce wasn't spicy enough for my taste (though that is easily fixed). I'm trying the Palak Paneer for lunch!

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        BIG YAY for the Palak Paneer. Better than most I've had in restaurants.

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          YES! If like the indian veg items better than the meat overall - the bharta is pretty good too and there have been other items...

                2. Yea - Vegetable Melange with Seasoned Butter Sauce. Mainly petite peas and julienne carrots plus corn, tiny cauliflower florets, maybe something else. The veg are perfectly cooked, just heat and serve, the carrot is tender and the peas pop in your mouth. The butter adds a little flavor but doesn't overwhelm the veg.

                  1. Yay: bite size everything crackers are back. Tastes like a good everything bagel; excellent with whipped cream cheese.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ohmyyum

                      Love these, so glad they're back. Its great with the TJ's French triple cream brie too.

                      1. re: breadwinner

                        What is your location, please? I so love those crackers, and have missed them. SoCal here.

                        1. re: nikkihwood

                          NorCal, actually, SF to be specific. Hope you find them!

                          1. re: nikkihwood

                            new york just got them also ~YAY~ so they must be coming back everywheres:)

                        2. re: ohmyyum

                          Total YAY for the bite-size everything crackers. Some of the best crackers we've ever had.

                        3. YAY: TJ's Coastal Zinfandel 2012 ($4.50)
                          A little bit of background: Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles, CA makes all the Coastal wines for TJ's. Absolutely excellent winery, and a great place to visit. The lady helping us with the tasting said that the Coastal wines use the same CCOF organic grapes as their reserve wines but the process is different, so they're not officially labeled as organic.

                          They had a Merlot and a Cabernet at my store as well, but I got the zin. It's wonderful! Although I had to let it aerate a bit, it is more than drinkable. It has warm, very fruity notes with a light and pleasant tartness. It makes for a wonderful nightcap. Not as complex as the wines I tasted at Castoro, but its body is mostly well rounded and certainly not flat (unlike an unfortunate bottle of Ravenswood zin I had recently).

                          I'm an amateur wine drinker, so please take my assessment with a grain of salt.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: breadwinner

                            thanks for the tip. i think yours is the first wine review, and i'm anxious to see more!

                            the vouvray we had a couple of days ago was very pleasant, and a good price for everyday. sorry no further info for you.

                            anyone had a bone dry rosé there?

                            1. re: alkapal

                              The JP Quinson is pretty dry. Definitely French style rather than California style.

                              1. re: Savour

                                Yes, I stock up on this whenever I can find it (they seem to run out frequently). I much prefer this drier Provence style of rose'. And you can't beat the price - $5.99! (It used to be $4.99, though.)

                                1. re: goodeatsgal

                                  Ooh, sounds intriguing. Thanks for the heads up!

                              2. re: alkapal

                                I usually try buying a different wine everytime I go to TJ's if my wallet allows me. I'll keep updating if I find some winners (or duds). This is the first wine I've found that's been memorable to me so far.

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  The red lambrusco (a sparkling, sweet, chilled red) has been a big hit at our pizza nights (I built a wood-fired oven in our backyard, and we like to entertain). It is darn tasty, but I'm more of a crisp, dry, white wine kind of gal. I quite like the TJ's Chilean Reserve Chardonnay for $3.99. Great for entertaining on a budget!