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Showing posts with label pantheon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pantheon. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2022

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Brioche Twist

If you're a carnivore, you eat nothing but meat. And what is meat but the muscles of animals? Also, not surprisingly, since "you are what you eat," a strict carnivore's physique generally becomes more and more muscular.

I'm not sure when I first heard it or who coined the word, but one of the funniest food puns I've ever heard is the word "carbivore" to describe those of us who are naturally inclined to breads and other carbohydrates. And unfortunately, carbivores tend to become what they eat as well, and they get a little doughy in the middle.

I must admit, although I'm in a constant battle against my cravings, I'm naturally fairly carbivorous myself. I've never met a piece of brioche toast I didn't like. And this one is no exception—with swirls of pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and pumpkin spice all through it. Yum. This loaf is pre-sliced perfectly for a traditional toaster. Just grab a piece, pull off the wax paper liner, warm it up, add a bit of butter. Perfection.


Again, maybe my critical standards go out the window when carbs are involved. Maybe I'm not thinking clearly, but I just can't think of any complaints. 

Some might say this is just glorified cinnamon bread and they wouldn't be entirely wrong, but the fall-ish flavors are well-balanced—neither too dominant nor too subtle. The texture is soft and supple and the bread just melts in your mouth. I could eat the whole loaf in a single day.

Sonia absolutely loved this product, too. Her only complaint was that the slices might be just a tad too thick, just barely clearing the slots in our toaster, width-wise. Also, she forgot to peel off the liner paper once or twice, so...there's that. She made French toast out of a couple of the pieces and added maple syrup. I'll agree that they were superbly scrumptious, but I'd rather save this brioche bread to eat by itself and have her make French toast out of regular bread.

But I'm getting off track. This is an outstanding fall product by my estimation. I hope it returns next year. $4.49 for about 9 slices. Five stars from me. Four and a half from the beautiful wifey.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Trader Joe's Salsa Verde Flavored Corn Tortilla Chips


 It's July...time to spice it up with your summer snackin', don't you think?

Chips and salsa are a classic staple, but if the heat's making you too lazy to dip (been there), but you still want all the flavor, look no further than Trader Joe's Salsa Verde Flavored Corn Tortilla Chips.

Seriously, these chips. Amazing. Imagine all the good, vibrant flavors of a good salsa verde. A little onion, a little garlic, some fresh tomatillo, a good dose of lime, a little heat of pepper...if that doesn't make your math water, there's something wrong with you. But instead of a chip and salsa, it's just a chip. Nothing more, nothing less. 

That's exactly how these new salsafied tortilla chips are. Super firm, a little thick, incredibly crunchy, and oiberally coated every square micrometer with salsa verde in dusty form, these chips pack a snack punch that I haven't had in quite some time. It's almost transcendent. I love them, and as any good flavored chip, the more you eat, the more the flavor intensifies. I don't think I've ever had a chip that's held any more flavor, ever, of any kind, than these. Chip technology is being pushed to the cutting edge, it seems. 


Really, I have no real complaints, at all, except that maybe there's a splash too much vinegar here that amps up the sour acidity just a wee bit much. A lime can really do that on its own, or at least not seem as forced. It's not overly distracting, but it does stray towards a bit much. As do i here by trying to find a fault. 

Delicious chips. We bought them less than 24 hours ago and they're nearly gone. The flavor intensity is just so inviting and delicious, and not offputting at all - heck, my kids who are normally kinda wusses when it comes to these kinda things can chow them down like a boss. 

No dips needed to enjoy - that honestly may distract from the real flavor here. But you could convince me to try a little sour cream or guacamole here. If you really want tastebud overload, pair a handful of these chippies with a glassful of the mango jalapeno lemonade. That'll get your knees knocking. 

Love 'em, no complaints from anyone here. Absolute repeat buy. Can't stop til I get enough. Perfect fives. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Salsa Verde Flavored Corn Tortilla Chips: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Trader Joe's Candy Coated Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

Sooooo..... what's your favorite Easter candy?

'Cause I'm such a weirdo, mine is easily black jelly beans Love 'em, can't get enough. I'll eat them til my mouth tingles with sugary bitterness and once subsided I'll go back for more. 

Not 100% sure for my lovely bride, but the mini Cadbury Creme Eggs are near the top. No, not the big, gooey filled ones (which just so happen to be second on my list) as those are a bit texturally challenging for her. The mini guys, just candy coated choclate, but somehow softer, sweeter and different than, say, regular ol' M&Ms. In her mind, few things could be better..

...except maybe Trader Joe's Candy Coated Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds. 

I wouldn't be surprised if we track down a case of these new candies. Really, there's no reason for them to be Easter-specific except maybe their cutesy robin egg-esque appearance, but even then...whatever. 

There's nothing all too new or novel here. Take an almond, enrobe it in a layer of the typically good quality TJ's dark choc, then slap on a candy shell and call it a day. That's all there is there ain't no mo'. 

Yet it's just so well done. There's a creaminess to the chocolate that's a bit unusual for the darker, less milky blend, and it's almost intoxicating. Add it in the earthy center of a decent roasty almond, and the fun sgary snap of a candy shell, and it's so easy to pop handful after handful. Maybe the chocolate is all churned by waterfall or has some other Wonka-fied madness to it, but it's just so good. 

Grab them. Petition the stores to make them year round. Buy buy buy. if somehow you don't like them, send us your surplus. I beg not on my own behalf, but instead plead for my wife - Lord knows she puts up with enough from me. The least I can do is try to get her an endless supply of a candy she adores. 

Sandy, in case you haven't figured it out, gives them a perfect unassailable score. I know better than to argue with her....I mean at least I should....but I'll mark them high myself. Get me my black jelly beans, get her bag aftyer bag of these tasty treats, and we'll be in hog heaven. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Candy Coated Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Trader Joe's Ginger Bread Cream Liqueur

Of course I love my kids. And I love holiday cookies. Heck, I even kinda love baking holiday cookies, but...

You ever try to make batch after batch after batch of holiday cookies with small kids clamoring to being 'helpful" each step, with limited space and tools,, what, with turn taking and problem solving and different abilities (sure, the nine year old knows how to crack an egg or accurately measure flour, but the three year old? Lololololol), with diminishing interest, the mess multiplied, with the only assistance in cleaning up afterwards is when it comes to licking clean the spoons and beaters?

Ay. It's a fun combination.

Want to know another fun combo to toss into all this, to make it all a lot more tolerable?

Grab your coffee mug, pour in a little Trader Joe's Ginger Bread Cream Liqueur, skip any other cream or sugar, and pour your coffee over. You're welcome. 

At only 29 proof, it's not gonna knock you down. Heck, if I were to drink the whole bottle, I think I'd be more buzzed from the sugar than the booze. Not gonna even attempt that though. Way too much dairy...

But anyways, this ginger bread liqueur is remarkably tasty. It's ginger infused vodka mixed with decent quality dairy cream that results in a cool, smooth, milky beverage that actually offers a pretty respectable gingerbread-esque flavor. It's mild yet fullbodied and plenty well balanced in all aspects. No boozy burn at all. It just flows. 

It is a bit too sweet and rich for me to entirely enjoy as a stand-alone drink. That's just me and my usual drinkable dairy aversion more than anything else - the gingerbready booze would make a killer ice cream flavor. Aside from  mixing in coffee, a small glass over ice would likely be an enjoyable after dinner/cookie time treat as well. 

Thanks, Ohio, for having cool laws that made this available in your TJ's stores. Wish we stocked up more. Get on board, Pennsylvania. 

Really good. My lovely bride was in love at first sip. Not gonna lie, we half contemplated playing hooky from all responsibilities just to make another road trip to procure some more. At less than $15 a bottle (I'm thinking $12.99 but I may be wrong) I cannot recommend picking up the TJ's gingerbread liqueur as a little holiday treat any higher if you see it. Tis the season to maybe be a bit generous here...so double fives. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ginger Bread Cream Liqueur: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons




 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Chili with Navy Beans

 

Let's get real here for a quick mo...can anything really beat chili?

Of course, this is a seasonally qualified statement. Chili on a 100 degree/100% humidity day? No way no how. Nuh uh. Non starter. There's amendments against cruel and unusual punishments, after all. So yeah, not then. 

But on a cool or cooler day, when only something warm and hearty will do? Chili please! Keep it coming. All day long. 

Though nothing beats homemade, in a quick pinch for a bite, may I humbly suggest giving Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Chili with Navy Beans a try?

Though I'm carnivorous by nature, I'm always down for an intriguing sounding veggie/vegan chili option. Chili works really well sans meat, heck, I'll even make it that way sometimes myself. This particular new TJ's chili, when spotted, became a must try, even when met with an initial wave of excitement mixed with a little skepticism. How good could it really be?

I took a taste, and now I'm a believer. 

Really, there's nothing not to like here, and nothing is missed. Big ol' meateating me loved every bite. There's the right consistency - not too watery, with plenty of bite between all the kale and beans and cauliflower crumbles. There's the right level of spice - enough to get a rise, sure, but not enough to overwhelm. It's kept in check perfectly. And there's the right amount of flavor - and it's delicoous! Kale is as fresh as can be given its circumstances, the beans add their beany goodness, all the spices are balanced in the right proportions to another. There's a pretty healthy dose of cinnamon added, which gives a nice little slant on the whole experience with a nice little warming touch that seems to really add a solid base to everything else. There's pepper and garlic and tomatoes and...it's just good. Every bite has a little bit of everything. It's awesome. 



Going back to the spice level, I'd rate it as about a 6/10 if eating straight on. It's more a flavorful spice than straight-out fire. I for one felt no need to add a little extra somethin'-somethin' to give it a kick. But , if say, one would add some cheese or pour over a baked potato (which this chili practically screams for doing) or some cornbread, I could see the heat getting dissipated a bit. For some of you, that'd be a plus, others, maybe not so much. But to me, that means it strikes about the right balance so as to be platable to the masses.

My lovely bride and I have already decided: we're stocking up. It's delicious and a jar will easily fill the two of us without giving either of us the food baby/food coma/ingested brick feeling I get with other chilis. This just may become our new cold day quick meal go to, and for like $4 for the jar, it cannot be beat. Love it. No faults at all here. Shoo the clouds away from the top of Olympus, we got a new Pantheoner here. Perfect fives and we mean it.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Chili with Navy Beans: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons










Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Trader Joe's Bamba Puffed Peanut & Corn Snacks with Hazelnut Creme Filling

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Choco Taco. It's a great idea, right? If meat, cheese, beans, and other salty, savory ingredients work in a particular format, why wouldn't a bunch of sweet, desserty ingredients work in the same manner?

So instead of taking the classic arrangement of a taco and turning it into a dessert, this is almost like doing the same with Combos bite-sized stuffed snacks. Instead of cracker or pretzel as an outer shell, we have a classic Bamba peanut puff. Instead of cheese filling, we've got Nutella-esque hazelnut creme right down the middle of these cylindrical snacks.

Of course Bamba peanut poofs are much lighter and less dense than any Combos shell I've had, but they're still rigid enough to serve as the vehicle for a generous dollop of rich hazelnut creme in each and every bite. The original peanutty Bamba snacks were very popular in Israel. I'm not sure if this version is big over there in the Levant, too, or if this is a "LOL stupid, fat Americans will only eat peanut snacks if they're stuffed with chocolate" kind of thing. I do see that this version, as well as the original, is a "Product of Israel."


Chocolate and peanut butter is a combination that's hard to get wrong. I mean, it's hazelnut creme, not "chocolate" per se, but there is real cocoa in the ingredients. 

Did you know how Nutella came to be? In WW2, there was a cocoa shortage throughout Europe, but an Italian confectioner named Ferrero found he could use hazelnuts to stretch out his limited cocoa supply. Amazing. Let's hope WW3 yields similar delicious discoveries.

These things are scrumptious. There's actually a good balance between the peanut and hazelnut flavors. They're still crispy and crunchy, but there's a nice smooth component now, too. At least as addictive as their predecessor, it's seriously kind of a struggle to not eat the whole bag in one sitting, although supposedly there are three servings in there.

Their only drawback? They're a little oily. You'll need a napkin or a wet wipe when you're done, unless you're really into that whole finger-lickin' good vibe.

$1.69 for the bag. That's a great value in my book. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Perfect five from me.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Trader Joe's Unsalted Organic White Corn Tortilla Chips

Ever since Sonia's mom had a rather serious stroke a couple years ago, we've been a little more cognizant of the dangers of high blood pressure and too much sodium in our diets. Fortunately, she's mostly recovered and pretty much back to normal now, but it was a long, challenging road to get there.

Shortly after her incident, I realized that my own blood pressure was way too high, as well. I wouldn't say I'm on a "low sodium diet" now per se, but I often intentionally select less salty options when possible.

At the recommendation of a couple of friends, we tried these chips for the first time a while back. At first, I was like, "Who in their right mind would eat tortilla chips with no salt?" But then if you really think about it, most of the time you're eating tortilla chips, you're eating them with something else: salsa, queso, guac, and all of those have their own salt in them. Do you really need to double up on salt? In my opinion, the answer is no. These chips are the proof.

Even though I didn't think I'd like them, I'm totally fine snacking on them plain. Somehow the lack of salt lets the natural flavor of corn shine a little more. And just as you'd assume, all of the above-mentioned fixins provide plenty of sodium content by themselves.

This has become one of our most frequent Trader Joe's purchases of all time and a staple in our household. It's very difficult to find completely salt-free chips in your average mainstream grocery store. We highly recommend you give them a try, even if you're a salt-o-phile like me. It might not be new or super exciting, but it's a classic TJ's product very much worthy of Pantheon status, in our humble opinions.

Perfect five stars from Sonia. Four and a half from me.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Trader Joe's Almond Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets

What is it that can make certain snacks truly bingeworthy?

Let's see...Pringles are light, airy and crispy. Once you pop you can't stop, indeed. Cheese curls are just fun and salty and help unlock a little inner kid. Sour Patch Kids get that citric acid build up that hurts and stings so good.  Combos are more fun because usually my lovely bride and I snack on them on fun car trips, so there's a fun factor there. There's just some things I can't put down.

So what is it with Trader Joe's Almond Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets?

Sure, peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets have been a thing pretty much since before the flood. I'll admit to liking pb'ed pretzels...but not loving them, despite being a huge aficionado of both respective components. Somehow, most before have been less than a sum of their parts. I can't binge on them even if I tried...

Not here. Nope. I swear, it's different somehow. Obviously it has to be the almond butter somehow...maybe it's just the slight novelty of a different nut butter filling, but it doesn't seem like that's the end of the story here. The almond butter in these newish TJ pretzel nuggz is softer and creamier than most Grade D pb scrapings inside most other snacks. It's just better, with a milder flavor, that accentuates the toasty crispiness of the pretzel shell just differently, with perhaps a lighter touch, than the usual stiff and vaguely possibly stale fillings of others. Instead, this stuff is just a delight...and this coming from a guy who elven times out of ten would choose peanut butter over almond butter as far as taste goes.

Everything else is on point and as expected - good tasty pretzel shell, a nice little touch of salty/sweet interaction, a bite size nuggets perfect for grabbing and popping. And really,  they'rejust downright good, in a wholesome way. My wife, kids and I polished off a whole bag in only about 5 minutes after school earlier this week, and none of us minded and we're already looking forward to popping into the cart again next trip. Tough to beat for the $3.99ish they cost, but be warned: bingeworthy indeed. None of us here can come up with a single complaint at all, and although not mindblowing, these snack nuggets are worthy of some serious recognition.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Almond Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Trader Joe's Hot Hot Crispy Habanero Sliced Peppers

Lookin' for some hot stuff, baby, this evenin'
I need some hot stuff, baby, tonight
I want some hot stuff, baby, this evenin'
Gotta have some hot stuff
Gotta have some love tonight

Well, thanks Donna Summer and Kygo (whoever you are) for what should be the official entrance music to one of the latest (and literally hottest) condimental offerings from all of ours' favorite grocers...

It's Trader Joe's Hot Hot Crispy Habanero Sliced Peppers!

Hot stuff indeed.

Hot hot haaaaaaaaaahhhhhht. 

I mean, duh, the primary ingredient is, of all things, habaneros. They're not the spiciest peppers in the world, but starting at at least 100k+ on the Scoville scale, they're not exactly slouching it either. Habaneros are likely the hottest pepper I've ever ingested and would ever want to, and now, here they are, dried up in a jar, coated with a little olive oil, ready for me to sprinkle on anything I want. 

That's the real cool part, the texture. If you're familiar with the popular TJ Chili Onion Crunch, or even better, various LaoGanMa sauces, you'll know about what to think of here. The peppers are like crackly skins, dehydrated and very light and extremely crispy. It's fun, whether it's bigger pieces or itty bits. The word "mummified" comes to mind. really, check it out.

But don't mistake the peppers appearance for a lack of potency. No, no, no. There's still so much burn to be had. Granted, I'm more a "throw caution to the wind/full effect" kinda guy - the peppers had me bawling at how good they tasted. or so I told my kids, who eagerly watched my every reaction. And normally I'm not like that too much...am here. Holy cow. hot, just like a good habanero should. 

Yet the great thing is, for all the heat and sizzle, there's still some great complementary flavor that's imparted. it's not just heat for the sake of heat, it's...different. And while the main licks of flame are strong, they neither linger too long nor overpower the rest of the flavors of whatever else you're eating. Instead, after a moment or two, it's nice, casual, residual heat that will leave you wanting, cautiously, for more. 

What will go undescribed is a certain day after side effect, at least by me, as we're classy here. I instead once again invite you to enjoy this classic Johnny Cash tune

Love them, can't get enough. Breakfast sandwiches, tacos, sauces, with pasta, in stir fry, on pizza, in a fresh baked challah or babka....yes to all that. And more. I want it all. 

Hot stuff, baby, this evenin' indeed. lovin' it. I'm smashing the peppers with a perfecto and my lovely bride isn't quite there herself, but close. It's the first smash hit of 2021 for sure. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Hot Hot Crispy Habanero Sliced Peppers: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Sweet Potato Saute Bowl

Of course, there's any number of ways to mark the year 2020. Most of them, we won't go into here, and we think you appreciate that. 

Today, we'll keep it light and positive, and state that 2020 seems to be a year that my lovely bride and I have really gotten a lot of cool kitchen stuff, or at the very least definitely upped our meager supply from before. New KitchenAid mixer for her, that I'm afraid to touch. New nicer grill for me, that's she's afraid to touch. Just yesterday we had a new blender/food processor delivered from a Pampered Chef party Sandy hosted about a month ago, and as we've excitedly exclaimed several times, it can heat stuff while blending. Hello potato soup. Plenty more things coming from that party.

And most pertinent for this review, a great buddy of mine dropped off a carbon steel wok and bamboo handled spatula for my birthday. I love it, and use it as often as I can, although I'll admit I'm still getting the hang of it. 

So when Sandy brought home the new Trader Joe's Southwest Style Sweet Potato Saute Bowl, I knew it was time to wok and roll. Sounds like fun and deliciousness all in one. 

And boy, were we not wrong.

The label suggests it's a six serving container, which I suppose can make sense if treating as a side dish. There's plenty in there once it gets opened, kinda like it's all springloaded in there with all the potato spirals and whatnot. But treat as a main dish, it's perhaps more like a larger lunch for two hungry adults to share, and that works.

First off: lots of potato...noodles? If zucchini noodles can be called zoodles, what are these? "Poodles" is taken. Call 'em yams and yoodles? Maybe? I digress. There's a ton in there, enough that while cooking I wasn't there if there'd be enough of the other stuff to even make it's way and mix up the big ol' nest we had going on. Fortunately they do saute up well and "cook down" and untangle enough to get a nix mix on, though they do take longer to saute than stated on the package. There were a few grainy-ish bites, which yes, partially on me, but it's something to be aware of. 

But all the mix-in's, too: nice. There's jicama in there but honestly for us it got more or less lost in there so I wasn't always aware while consuming it. There was an occasional burst of freshness though, so that must be it. Ample chunks of poblano peppers are tossed in, which don't add much if any heat, but are maybe a slightly edgier bell pepper, like a pre-teen one who just went to Hot Topic. Get one with a little extra roast on it and it's yum. Corn, black beans, a lil' pico de gallo - all are good, could use a little more, IMHO. But what's there is nice. 

And then...the sauce. 

This is always the make it or break it component for any salad or similar kit. You gotta nail this. Here, TJ's went with an avocado cilantro one. I'd argue you don't have to like avocados to like this dressing - it's light and smooth with a little body to it, but is nowhere near guacamole, though for me that wouldn't be outta line for a piece of the meal here. Sandy generally dislikes avocado and had no issue with this particular one. But (and a big but) you absolutely have to like cilantro. There's a lot of that up in here. I'd say that makes sense - with all the yoodles (yup, I'm going for it) in there something has to cut through and add flavor to every bite. Cilantro is the overarching ingredient tying it all together. It's got bite. And it works. 

In all, the sweet potato saute kit works as a standalone dish that can likely be adaptable to however you may want to dress it up. Add some guac, sour cream/Greek yogurt, salsa, even a little more protein to make it a bit more of a meal and boost the serving numbers? Sure, all of that could work. It seems to be a good base for all sorts of creations...which I intend to do with my new fancy wok in all its rainbow-seasoned glory. Good stuff. Really good. I think between Sandy and I we can muster a near perfect score. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Southwest Style Sweet Potato Saute Bowl: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Trader Joe's Greek Style Feta Dressing

***Just over a year ago, near Spokane, Washington***

"Mmm. You remember this feta dressing?" asked Sonia, tearing into a freshly-purchased jar of Trader Joe's Greek Style Feta Dressing. "We don't need to take pictures because we already reviewed it a long time ago."

"Um...I remember the dressing, but I don't think we ever got around to reviewing it," I replied.

"No, we definitely reviewed it because we like it so much—well, because I like it so much," she insisted.

"I like it, too," I said. "But I'm pretty sure we haven't reviewed it yet."

"Wel, den ve cn tak pitchers nxt time," she responded through a mouthful of salad. "Or jus tak pitchers of de haf empy boddle."


***Yesterday, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest***

"Ahhh. Remember this Greek feta dressing? It's so good," said Sonia, placing a bottle of it in the fridge. "I'm going to make a salad for lunch. You want one?"

"Sure. Thanks. Lemme snap a pic real fast this time," I said.

"Oh, we don't have to. We reviewed this stuff a looong time ago," declared Sonia.

***


It might seem like I'm having a chuckle at my wife's expense. Valid observation. I must confess that my brain is often the one with faulty memories. In this case, however, I correctly recalled that this delicious salad dressing had somehow eluded our sights for review on the blog all these years.

It's actually Sonia's favorite dressing of all time. I wouldn't go quite that far personally, but it is exceptionally tasty. It has all the tangy flavors of feta, but it's not quite as heavy as you might expect.

You can chalk it up to poor memory again, but Sonia and I both feel like it has gotten slightly thinner over the years, texture-wise. I'm not heartbroken over that. Thin dressings work just as well as thick ones, particularly when they're as flavorful as this selection.


It's almost like liquefied feta cheese mixed with a red wine vinaigrette sauce. It's got a nice zippy flavor with a subtle medley of Greek/Italian spices in the background. It goes with just about any kind of salad we've tried, and it's great as a unique sandwich condiment. Sometimes we'll get subs from the local hoagie place sans condiments, so they don't get soggy while they wait in our refrigerator, and then when we're ready to eat them, we'll just put some of this stuff on them. Delicioso. 

$1.99 for an 8 oz. bottle at your local Trader Joe's. Perfect five stars from Sonia. Four and a half from this guy.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Trader Joe's Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

Some Trader Joe's products seem to get more than their fair share of marketing attention. They get ridiculous, lengthy, lavish titles. They're presented with artsy, colorful packages and placed front and center in the store, maybe on an end cap or at the checkout counter. I'd say more than half the time, these items are gone just months after they drop, and they're forgotten about by the vast majority of patrons that purchased them. 

And then there's a completely understated line of Trader Joe's brand items. They're products that have been around for quite a while, and they need no clever marketing to sell. They get by on the merits of their quality and flavor. No cutesy packaging. No goofy nicknames. It might be just an unassuming jar of sauce with a modest amount of copy on the front—items like this product.

The sauce is super flavorful, medium-thick, and coats whatever foods you mix with it. It's not a sweet curry. I've had some curry sauces so sweet they were almost dessert-like. Not this one.


It's full of lemon grass, garlic, and shallot flavor. It's obviously coconutty, too, but the taste isn't particularly coconut-forward despite the coconut milk base. It's spicy, savory, and it makes your kitchen smell like an authentic sit-down Thai restaurant.

Sonia and I had it with mahi mahi fish for lunch yesterday, and it was scrumptious. Served with veggies and rice, it was one of the most satisfying meals we've prepared ourselves in a long time. All you do is put the sauce on your food in the skillet and let it simmer. So good and so easy.

The sauce darkened a little bit from the time we poured it out of the jar to the end of the cooking process. I'm not good with specific shades of individual colors, but I'd say it went from something like a pea green to more of an olive green tan light brown by the end...? Anyway, it's not much to look at, but it tastes good enough you probably won't care.


You have my word we'll continue to review those brand new nonsense-laden gimmicky products as they're released, but we'd be remiss in our Trader Joe's brand food reviewing duties if we didn't tell you all about products like this one from time to time. Delicious. Apparently, this version has only been around for about a year and a half, but I'm hoping it'll stick around and stand the test of time. 

At $1.99 for the jar, it's a steal. Four and a half stars from me. Five from Sonia.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Trader Joe's Ube Mochi Pancake & Waffle Mix

When I was about 10 years old or so, my mother made our family waffles for breakfast one morning. They were delicious, but there were, by some miracle, a few left over. As a parent of a seven year old and a five year old who decided between them to eat an entire pound of blackberries before my wife or I even woke up the other day, I'm soon realizing that anything delicious and left over is a rare feat in a multi-child household.

Back to my story. The leftover were likely placed in a baggie, and a day or two later, I decided I wanted to have a snack while sorting through all my Ken Griffey Jr and Cal Ripken baseball cards or something like that, so I went down to the fridge to obtain said baggie, went upstairs to my room, ate maybe one or two, then instead of placing back in the fridge or throwing out, proceded to shove them underneath my bad where they stayed for the next three to six months and they turned all sorts of interesting colors, which I thought looked kinda neat...my mother was not so impressed.

Somehow this story has turned into family lore - "Rusty eats moldy waffles!" - so much to the point that anytime I see a not beige/tan/whatever color a "normal" waffle is, I'm reminded of it yet again by the resident voices in my head.

So here's Trader Joe's Ube Mochi Pancake & Waffle Mix! The only mold related to this new mix is the one they break.

They're purple! That much should be expected because of the ube, or "purple yam" as TJ's refers to it on the box. Gotta love ube, and if you haven't tried it yet, what are ya waiting for? It's got this magical property of being light and a little sweet but so grounded and earthy. They're even more mild than a sweet potato. Ube makes really such a natural choice for a pancake or waffle that I'm surprised this is the first time I've become aware of a commercial mix for it. It's almost too obvious for me to have come up with myself.

And...they're a bit chewy! Not overly, but still, thanks to mochi being in the mix. The little rice granules or whatever the mochi would be technically classified as do make the batter a bit grainy looking, which caused a little initial hesitation during waffle prep. When cooked, they're still visible if you choose to dissect your breakfast, but other than your waffle or pancake being a little bit more springy than usual, they're not that noticeable. Really, it's a nice little bite that's a bit different but I'd doubt that would cause much textural issues, unless you insist on crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle breakfast grains.

Add a little maple syrup, and boom. That's a heckuva good waffle. The ube mochi waffles might be able to go more of the savory route as well - I could see chicken and waffles working with these being an interesting take. Or however you enjoy waffles would likely work, because these are pretty dang good.

Really, everyone in our little family loved the ube mochi waffles Sandy mixed up while I busied myself with bacon as I do almost every Saturday. It's little traditions like bacon and waffles that I hope will stick with the kids for most of their lives....and hopefully not stories like moldy waffles. We all loved these waffles and while they're not gonna be our new replacement every week waffles, they will absolutely be in the permanent family rotation as a new classic. That's right...the score was unanimous.

Trader  Joe's Ube Mochi Pancake & Waffle Mix: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Pappa al Pomodoro


Well, we know that in the last days a loaf of bread will cost a day's wage. When that day comes, it's time to go Mad Max on your neighbors to obtain some at any cost, because this stuff turns ordinary slices of white or wheat into scrumptious tangy tomatoey sourdoughy delights.

Just kidding about going Mad Max on your neighbors. We need to stick together now more than ever. But you should totally get down on your knees and beg them for a slice of bread if you don't have any, because it pairs really, really well with this stuff.

At first, I thought the box might contain a few pieces of bread or breadsticks, because look, right there adjacent to the soup...is a delicious-looking breadstick. But then I looked closer, and sure enough it says "serving suggestion" in the upper left-hand corner. But then I read the ingredients. Look! "Sourdough bread" is right there on the list right after "vegetable broth." I was overjoyed...until I opened the box several seconds later only to be crestfallen by the lack of sourdough breadsticks.


Maybe Italian folks already know this, but apparently pappa al pomodoro is a soup that's made with bread. I had no idea. What a weird concept.

But it's a darn good one.

After heating the product on the stovetop and pouring it into a bowl, Sonia and I sampled the soup by itself. It was very thick, tangy, tomatoey, and had just enough basil to balance the other flavors. I dipped a slice of semi-stale wheat bread into it.

Man, I don't know if I was just really hungry or what, but that was the best piece of bread I've eaten in a long time. The sourdough in the pappa al pomodoro seemed to magically transform my cheap, old bread into a scrumptious sourdough breadstick with an amazing Italian pasta sauce. We finished the bowl in short order, alternating bites of bread with spoonfuls of soup. Sonia was even more impressed than I was.

This fantastic pappa al pomodoro would work well as a pasta sauce, a pizza sauce, or as a stand-alone soup. $3.69 for two 9oz pouches. We like that it comes frozen and you can save it as long as you need to. We think this will be a repeat purchase. 

Perfect five from Sonia. I just wish it came with a couple little breadsticks. Four and a half from me.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Trader Joe's Hold the Corn! Appetizers



Hold the corn! That must be a pun on "Hold the phone!" But wait, that doesn't rhyme—not even close. Ah, Trader Joe's must be making a play on "Hold the cone!" which is, in turn, a pun on "Hold the phone!" I guess TJ's is making fun of themselves. Unless this is somehow a play on "Hold the horns!" you know...like you "hold the bull by the horns," buuut that's a stretch.

The inspiration behind the title of this product means nothing if the product doesn't taste good. Fortunately, it does. Oh how it does.

The rice wrapper here is crispy, dry. The veggie-based filling is moist and fairly rich, but not overpowering in any way. The primary flavors are sweet corn (imagine that) along with some onion, the rice from the shell, and juuust a hint of spice from the red chili powder, green peppercorns, and garlic.


I could have sworn I detected the taste and texture of quinoa up in the mix, but alas, there is none listed on the ingredients. They aren't excessively greasy or oily. The nutrition info here is very reasonable, considering how utterly delectable these things are.

There's also the slightest suggestion that these are somehow veggie spring rolls that want to be dipped in a sweet and sour sauce of some kind. I might have tried that pairing if we'd had any packets laying around. Most people might not have that inclination—Sonia certainly didn't—but I'm big into condiments, and I always want to dip my appetizers in something—maybe an avocado salsa or chipotle sauce would have worked here...? I would have even slathered them with melted cheese of some kind—not that they really needed it. They didn't last long enough to be experimented upon. Perhaps we'll try them with dips upon the next purchase—and there will be a next purchase.

Served as appetizers, these will certainly make your guests ready to eat more food. The only problem I can foresee is that the only thing they'll want to eat is more of these delicious cones of corn. Each one is like a mini cornucopia, perfect for Thanksgiving...or any other time for that matter. $3.99 for 12, found in the frozen section. Two big thumbs up and a very high recommendation from this nomadic half of WG@TJ's. Four and a half stars from me. Five stars from Sonia.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Trader Joe's Maple Streusel Bread

Pumpkin spice? Where we're going, we don't need pumpkin spice.

*flips down sunglasses*

Yes, yes, I know...it's that time of year. As sure as the turning of leaves and late summer into early fall, here come all the social media posts about pumpkin spice this and that and everything else conceivable. I see them all over the TJ's fan pages. I don't blame you...but I just can't join you. Not that huge a fan.

Give me maple all day every day instead. And if you can, give it to me as the new Trader Joe's Maple Streusel Bread. 

Oh. Mah. Goodness.

Let's not deceive ourselves here. There's nothing healthy about this. Even I cringed a bit looking at the nutritional stats the first time, and I'm no prude. Nor is maple truly an autumnal flavoring - mapling season runs late winter into early spring.

But still. Everything about this maple bread evokes fall. Warm up a slice and taste for yourself. Warm gooey maple ribbons, brown sugar swirls, maple glaze with buttery streusel around the perimeter, densely decadent dough with a hint of mild maple...oh man. Sensory overload. It's like every slice is a syrup-logged piece of French toast, except of being soggy and limp, it's dry bread. It's amazing.

And so, so rich. The first slice was so amazing I had to go back for more. About halfway thru the second, I questioned my judgement. Literally, this stuff sits like a brick in your gut. For a quick and easy breakfast-y kinda deal, I truly appreciate that to keep me going. Pick it up and you'll feel it - the loaf feels way more chunky than it looks.

I mentioned French toast. This streusel bread would probably also make awesome French toast, but man, it tastes so good as is I didn't try that yet. But I will. Ohhhhh I will.

No complaints from me. None. There's almost even a homemade quality to it that I'd love to try and pass off as my own. Your unscrupulous Aunt Millie just might. Sandy loved it as well, though she noted she wished it had even more maple. She's a mapleholic though on the level of Buddy the Elf.

It's $3.99 a loaf which strikes me as a very fair deal. And like squirrels readying themselves for winter, you better bet we'll be stocking up for a long winter ahead. Y'all stick to your pumpkin spice, we'll be quite happy, thank ya.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Maple Streusel Bread: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce

Fermented Italian condiments? So hot right now.

So, so hot.

And so, so good.

Case in point: Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce. Mama mia, this sauce is especially speziata.

Take for instance the very first ingredient and the entire base of this new intercontinental condiment from all of our's favorite purveyor of such things: calabrian chili peppers. Not familiar? I wasn't overly as well. Look 'em up on the Scoville heat registry though. Jalapenos start around 2,500 Scovilles and range up to maybe 8,000. That's kinda spicy for most folks. Calabrians? Try 25,000 to 40,000. So these bad boys, just to start out with, are anywhere from 5 to 10 times spicier than the common American standard. Hoooo boy.

But that's not all, of course. Nah. Crush 'em allllll up, but make sure you keep in all the seeds with the capsaicin/ And let it sit, and sit, and sit, and ferment. That's not gonna make anything more mild in terms of flavor. Definitely not the case here.

The result? Full blast heat, with a good dose of fermented funkiness to back it all up and add a lot of depth. That's precisely what's going on here. And it's spicy in a genuinely chili pepper kinda way, and not some cheap vinegary mode. It's spice in a very authentic form. But although spicy, it doesn't completely overwhelm or linger too long, at least for me. It's just the right amount of burn.

The actual sauce is mostly the peppers in a kinda crushed/shredded/generally decimated form suspended in sunflower seed oil. Kinda odd, I would have expected olive oil, but I digress.  Texturally that might a challenge for some, but not me. Love it. Love everything about the TJ's bomba sauce.

Please, please, please share all the different ways to implement the bomba sauce in different dishes. I'm imagining mixing some in pasta sauce, some paired with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes, on pizza, on grilled chicken, with eggs, with crusty warm bread, with crackers...yes to all. Love it.

I have not a single complaint and will be stocking up every trip I can so help me God. Absolute, unqualified perfect five from me. This might be a mistake but I'm going to assume my lovely bride loves it as well - she tried only a bit, then had a couple bites of ice cream and said she could still taste the bomba afterwards. Then we both pretty much fell asleep and here I am having to finish this review. I'll say 4.5 from her and if I'm wrong, it won't be the first time.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Thick & Chunky Salsa


At first, this fine salsa didn't look new to me. Not completely. I felt like it had been well-established on TJ's shelves for years and years. Yet it was being marketed as "new."

How could that be?

Oh yeah.

Nearly nine years ago, we looked at this salsa's predecessor on this blog. Back then, it wasn't organic. At least not certified organic. This new stuff has the seal of approval from Quality Assurance International. Conspiracists will tell you that the New World Order will be rolling out a single world government, a single world currency, and a single world religion. I'm pretty sure QAI will be the folks responsible for planning the single world menu for all work, school, and dissident camp cafeterias.

Or maybe they just make sure stuff is really organic when people say it's organic.


Either way, we'll just have to trust them. And I do. My gut tells me this salsa's organic. It just tastes and feels fresh and invigorating somehow. Sonia said the exact same thing upon first bite without any prompting from me.

It's also bold. Where its predecessor was simply "chunky," this product is thick and chunky. It's like if that previous incarnation were the mild-mannered mortal version of the product, then this is the post-spider bite/science experiment gone horribly wrong/exposure to radiation superhero version of the salsa. 

It's got nice big pieces of tomatoes and peppers, and some onion bits are visible as well as tastable. There's some garlic flavor and juuust a hint of flavors like vinegar and salt. It's a well-rounded tomato-based salsa in almost every way.

We're dealing with half a chili pepper on the spice-o-meter, which means it has enough heat to scare away wusses and crybabies (no offense, spice-o-phobes) but not enough to administer searing pain to all who partake. I'm pretty happy with the spiciness here. I don't know if things are starting to bloom out here in the southwestern desert, or whether its the drier climate or higher amounts of dust in the air, but Sonia and I both need a little spice to open up our sinuses lately. Somehow, salsa just tastes better in the southwest.


Anyway, if the original version of this salsa made our Pantheon, then this organic version most definitely will also. It pairs nicely with another recent addition to our best of the best category—but then again, those dippers pair up with just about anything pretty well. Both are very tasty products.

Closing thought: this salsa's only $2.49! How is that even possible?

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers

Well, here's a rare sighting that just so happened to be captured on camera:

An opened bag of Trader Joe's Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers, in my house, that hasn't been completely ransacked and emptied somehow.

I mean, sorry, about the rip up top. We usually strive to take a photo of an unopened item. It kinda presents better. It's really kinda an amatuer move on our part. Party foul.

But man...have you tried these yet?

Holy smokes.

Sandy and I are now on our fourth in less than a week, which for people who try to not eat a lot of "junk food"... is a lot of "junk food."

What's there not to love about these elote chips? Not familiar with elote? Neither are we, to be perfectly honest. but these chips got me begging for another trip to Mexico to have a try at the real deal. Until then, I'll happily make do with these.

The spice blend is pretty complex for a chip. It's sneaky as it builds and builds in intensity. The first few bites are pretty mild. A little heat, sure, but that's when I particularly noticed the creamy buttermilk flavor these chippies offer. But then the rest of it comes on about three or four bites in. There's habanero spice and good pepper bite and all sorts of other things really going on that I'm not 100% sure how to explain except....dang. It's smoky and creamy and spicy all in one, in a way I've never experienced before on a chip.

Add on top of that the incredible texture here. Oh goodness. These corn chips are almost soft and crumbly and a little bit mealy to an almost melt in your mouth essence. They're still crunchy, to be sure, but not in a typical tortilla chip or Frito kinda way.

I've heard some comparisons to Cool Ranch Doritos...no, no, no. I mean, I get the basis for comparison for the elote chips...there are some similar elements...but these chips are better, so much better. I tasted both side by side while tailgating for baseball's opening day, and the TJ's Mexican corn chips absolutely blow Doritos out of the water, by a long shot.

These chips are awesome just by themselves. Really, yes, they are made for dipping into something, but it's 100% not necessary. Unless you have guacamole. Oh man. Pair them up and you'll see. My goodness.

They're $2.29 a serving, I mean bag. I need to stop buying them. I don't want to. Sandy loves them just as much as I do, I think....which is a lot. I cannot think of a single negative thing to say. Amazing. I want to go finish off that bag right now...it's open and taunting me...double fives for the first perfect ten on anything on here since I have no idea when.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons




Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Trader Joe's Amba Mango Sauce

It's been a while since it's been mentioned here...I get weird about packaging, and especially for condiments.

Namely, I hate squeeze bottles. Hate. That potentially uncontrollable plopping purge. That variable farty sound. The way when they're empty they only exude scented air and not only product. Ugh.

Jars and bottles are okay, and you'd think that'd cover most basics aside from individual packets (also not a huge fan, mostly cuz I either can't open them or rip them right in half)...but here comes, of all things, a pouch. With a spigot. Whaaaa?

Such as it is with the new Trader Joe's Amba Mango Sauce. Why a pouch? I'm clueless here. Sandy said they're more refrigerator friendly than a jar or bottle. I'm not sure if I buy that. I see no reason for this to be in a pouch, and alone made me somewhat hesitant to try. Fermented mango stuff is cool, pouches with spigots, not so much.

Man oh man, I'm glad I got over that.

Imagine a mild, slightly sweet curry sauce, without any milk or anything for that little extra creaminess, and that's almost exactly what we got here. I wasn't sure if it was gonna be more jelly/jam/chunky/salsa like - nope, just smooth, smooth sauce that comes running out of that faucet faster than a tornado or a house falling down, as my four year old would say. There's some serious flow.

Sandy and I poured some over some roasted chicken...and wow. It's unbelievable to me how mild it is. Mangoes can be strong and overpowering, and fermented stuff (which I love) can have that serious level of funk....but there's none of that here. Although fairly simple and somewhat unassuming, the amba sauce has a certain balanced smidge of complexity between the faintly sweet mango and the spices, with the slightest bit of ferment as the backdrop.

It's delicious. There's a part of me that wants a little more oomph, a little more bite, a little more spice, a little more something. But nah. The more I had, the more I appreciated it just as it is. It almost went better on our potatoes than our chicken, and man, I'd put this on almost anything.

I've never had the privilege of trying authentic real amba sauce, so how good of a comparison this is to the "real stuff," you're gonna have to tell me. And also the price, too...Sandy picked it up but misplaced receipt. First one to hit me up with a price gets a shoutout here. EDIT: thanks to loyal reader rh383, it's $3.49! Not a bad price at all!

I can see buying this again and again and again. Pork, roasted veggies, falafels...yes please. I can put down the hot sauce and sriracha for the amba any time. My kids don't like it, which is odd I think...oh well, more for Sandy and me. She ranks it as a perfect five, and well, it's been long enough since we've placed something on the Pantheon, so I'll go a little higher than I would (seriously, the pouch and spigot thing bug me way more than it should) to ensure the amba's place among the all time greats.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Amba Mango Sauce: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons