Saturday, March 31, 2018


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

10-minute vegan stir-fry with Trader Joe's ingredients

Trader Joe's is a cure for my anxieties

100 ways to use Trader Joe's "Everything But the Bagel" seasoning

What's not to love about Trader Joe's?

Best tweets of the week:

And finally--nope. I got nuthin'. For a while the pictures of cute cats in Trader Joe's grocery bags were coming faster than I could use them. But now I've used up that stash, and no new ones have been posted lately. Sorry.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Raw Milk Cheddar Cheese

I saw somebody post on Twitter about this several weeks ago, but it didn't show up at my store until last week.

This is clearly the hottest of the eight peppery cheeses I've had from Trader Joe's. Nina thought it went too far. I did not. I liked it a lot. This was somewhat unexpected, as I'm usually the kind of guy who goes straight for the "mild" version of whatever hot sauce or salsa is on offer. But for reasons I can't really articulate, I thought ramping up the pepper quotient here worked well. And look how pretty it is, with the red-orange pepper marbled through the white cheese like that!

Will I buy it again? 


To review, here are the hot and/or pepper cheeses from Trader Joe's that I've tried:
The four marked with asterisks rated a "will buy again," and the Toscano made it to my Top Ten list.

Addendum, July 10, 2019 

Another one came along later, which also gets a "will buy again" mark: Kase Rebellen Chili Rebel.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Trader Joe's Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing

All turmeric all the time. I couldn't really taste anything else. It was just too much.

I gave the rest of the bottle to Nina, who liked it well enough to use it, though not as much as her longstanding favorite, which is Newman's Own Lite Balsamic.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Trader Joe's Bunny Gummy Tummies & Friends

When I picked up this package, I figured that my review would say, "These are just like Gummy Tummies Penguins, except in Easter shapes," and that would be the end of it.

I was wrong. They're very different. They're similar only in that they have a little squirt of liquid in the center. But the texture is stiffer. The flavors are different, more vivid, more distinctly fruity. And that squirt of liquid in the center is a sharply sour version of the four flavors of the gummy part, making for a pleasing, interesting contrast.

Even Nina, who doesn't generally eat candy, took to them. Well, at least she did right up until the point that I wondered why they didn't have the vegan "V" symbol on the package, read the ingredients, and found "animal gelatin" listed. Oops.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not, simply because I still prefer my staple candies. But they're quite good--probably better than you're guessing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Barbeque Sauce

I've had this bottle sitting around unopened for over a year. I almost never use barbecue sauce and didn't really feel like finding a recipe in which it would be needed. But then I brought home a new MorningStar fake-meat product, this one a pulled "pork." No sauce included. This gave me an obvious opportunity to crack open the TJ's.

It's fine, though not distinctive. It's straight down the middle in terms of overall flavor, sweetness, heat, etc. It's just what I would expect from a grocery-store BBQ sauce, really. I definitely liked it better than the only other TJ's barbecue sauce I've tried, which was way too sweet.

Will I buy it again? 

Undecided. Now that I've found a product that I like that calls for BBQ sauce, I'll try some more of TJ's offerings in the category and see which I like best.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Trader Joe's Honeycrisp Apples

Honeycrisps are my favorite eating apples. But, like any produce, they can be hit or miss on flavor and quality.

This bag from Trader Joe's has been, so far (I've eaten four of them), only average on taste. Nothing off-putting, but a far cry from the best I've ever had. And they're unusually small.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, March 24, 2018


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's announces recall of chocolate chip cookies

The 3 best products at Trader Joe's, according to employees

The 5 most exciting new Trader Joe's products

Who makes the best frozen French fries?

Taste test of frozen chicken nuggets

9 things to add to your Trader Joe's shopping list

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in on a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Muffin & Baking Mix

This item makes 10 that I have reviewed under the heading of "mixes," and it's only the third to rate a "Will buy again." (The others are cornbread mix and pumpkin cornbread mix.)

I made the muffins rather than the cake. They baked up light, fluffy, and moist. They taste great with the cinnamon sugar on top.

Oddly, the picture on the front shows the use of paper cupcake cups, but the directions specify using a greased muffin tin--i.e., without paper cups. I opted to follow the photo rather than the directions, and it was probably a mistake, because the one problem I had in eating the muffins was how they stuck to the paper. Next time, I'll skip them.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic White Truffle Potato Chips

Nina bought these. I tried them. I did not like them. I have no experience with truffles, but I thought the flavor clashed with, rather than enhanced, that of the underlying chip.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic French Baguette

I thought this was good, as store-bought baguettes go. It didn't have the really thick, chewy crust of the best ones I've had in restaurants, but overall its flavor and texture were as good as I think one can expect from the grocery store species.

Someday maybe I'll go to Paris and buy one fresh from a boulangerie, after which I can become all snooty about how everything else is a poor imitation. But until then, I'll enjoy this.

Will I buy it again? 


Incidentally, I think I've earned one billion bonus blogger points for managing to time this post to fall on National French Bread Day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Pepper Jack

I continue my romp through the oddly large lineup of Trader Joe's peppery cheeses. I still haven't found the ghost pepper cheddar that I've seen photos of on social media.

This one is very similar to the Jalapeno Monterey Jack Cheese (which I rated as "buy again"), but quite a bit milder--which means less interesting. It's also a lot more expensive--$7.99/lb compared to $4.99. Those facts add up to a conclusion that I would never choose this one over that one.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, March 19, 2018

Trader Joe's Whole Grain Bread

The wide variety of Trader Joe's breads makes it hard to keep track of them. They make it even harder by using very similar product names. In this instance, they also complicated the task by duplicating the label decoration. That woman saying, "So what was the best thing before sliced bread?" also appears on the wrapper of Trader Joe's Multigrain Bread. I had to scroll through my old posts three times to be sure this was an item I had not reviewed before.

It's pretty good. I liked both its flavor and texture. It worked well both toasted with just butter, and untoasted in sandwiches.

But like so many other TJ's breads, it had a fatal flaw that will keep me from repeat purchases. This time, it's not a shortcoming in the two main dimensions of the slices (a recurring problem in TJ's breads--see here, for instance), but the third dimension; the flaw is how thinly sliced it is. I didn't whip out a ruler to measure, but the slices felt at least a third thinner than I expect. It seriously felt like something was missing, like I was being shortchanged. With either honey or jelly on a peanut butter sandwich, the condiment quickly soaked through.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, March 17, 2018


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

10 must-have items from Trader Joe's

10 easy vegan meals at Trader Joe's

Overrated and underrated products at Trader Joe's

Lawsuit claims deception in Trader Joe's cage-free eggs labeling

Lawsuit claims false advertising of Trader Joe's vitamin E

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Trader Joe's Mini Basque Cheese

It's been a pretty dismal week of product trials here on the blog, with four out of four no votes. So let's end the week on a high note, shall we?

I balked a bit before buying this, after seeing the price. It's one of the most expensive cheeses I've ever bought. But holy cow (or, I suppose, holy sheep, given the source of the milk from which this is made) is it ever worth it. It is simply one of the finest cheeses I've ever eaten. Absolutely delicious.

I again have the problem of lacking the vocabulary to describe exactly what I'm tasting here, because it's quite different from any other cheese I can remember. But it's so rich in flavor that a paper-thin slice on a cracker is just as good as a block of it--and its texture is so perfect that it's easy to get such a thin slice, with no crumbling. The fact that a little goes a long way helps to compensate for the dollars-per-pound factor.

Will I buy it again? 

Absolutely. It's so good that I'm adding it to my Top Ten list. Nina agrees with me that it belongs there.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Trader Joe's Chocolate Caramel Yolkies

This is one of the most visually unappealing products I've ever seen Trader Joe's sell. The idea of either a raw or a fried egg on top of a bar of chocolate is odd at best, revolting at worst.

Of course it tastes nothing like egg; that's just white chocolate with some yellow coloring in the middle. Inside the "egg" is a bit of caramel--but only a bit, as they've decided for some reason to be super stingy with it.

The milk chocolate is waxy and mostly flavorless.

Will I buy it again? 

No. This is a total fail of a product, from start to finish. I split one of the three pieces with Nina. The rest are going back to the store for a refund.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Trader Joe's eucalyptus branches

I subscribe to a Google News alert for Trader Joe's, which is how I find most of the entries for my Saturday "roundup" posts. Recently one of the articles I encountered that way mentioned that TJ's sells bunches of eucalyptus branches along with their cut flowers, and suggested ways of using them. I had never noticed this product before, but I thought it sounded like a nice little home-decorating touch that would be worth trying.

The branches smell really nice--at least in the store where there are lots of them. But I have not been able to detect the faintest whiff of eucalyptus since bringing them home, not even with my face right up in them.

Still, they're attractive. And they have the added advantage that the cats don't seem interested in chewing on them or knocking them over (despite Oliver eyeing them in the photo above).

Will I buy it again? 

Not for myself. But I buy flowers for Nina fairly often, and I might buy a bunch as added greenery for her sometime.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trader Joe's Cheddar Rocket Crackers

As you might guess, these are basically just a knockoff of Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers. They're an excellent imitation, if memory of the original serves, though it's been many years.

I don't mind munching on a handful of these, but if I'm in a mood for cheese and crackers, I'd much rather have actual cheese and crackers. They're too small and too oddly shaped to be useful for dipping. The best purpose I found for them was as soup crackers with chili. But at that point I was just trying to figure out how to use them up; it wasn't enough of an enhancement that I'd be tempted to get them again for that use.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, March 12, 2018

Trader Joe's Garlic Spread Dip

I don't much care for garlic, so I would never have purchased this. But Nina asked me to try it at her place, so I did. Honestly, it was so mild that I didn't even identify it as being predominantly garlic. But I still didn't like it.

Sorry for the lousy photo.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, March 10, 2018


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

Best frozen meals at Trader Joe's, according to dietitians

10 reasons every mom loves Trader Joe's

Shopping strategies for Trader Joe's

7 St. Patrick's Day foods from Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cheese Pizza With A Cauliflower Crust

This frozen pizza is surprising because it's not terrible. The crust is actually kind of an amazing wonder of modern food technology: made of cauliflower, but not dominated by a cauliflower taste, and with a completely normal--even commendable--thin-crust-pizza texture. Nina and I both thought that the cheese and tomato sauce were acceptable, but nothing to brag about. That crust, though, has a lot of potential.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But it's easily the best gluten-free frozen pizza I've had, and I'd readily recommend it to somebody who needed to keep gluten-free.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Hearty Minestrone Soup

Trader Joe's has tried a slew of these refrigerated soup-in-a-tub varieties. They have mostly been failures, with one standout good one.

This minestrone can now join that as the second good one. It tastes reasonably fresh, and has a nice variety of flavors and textures mingled together, with no off-notes that I detected. It's a million times better than TJ's previous minestrone in a can.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Trader Joe's Lemon Elderflower Soda

This is a shelf-mate to the rhubarb-strawberry soda released at the same time--and it is leaps and bounds better. It is, in fact, superb--one of the best sodas I've ever tasted. Its perfection is primarily marred by being sold in such pathetically small cans. And it's not just me; Nina concurred.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes--though it's terribly expensive, as sodas go, so that will be a severe limiting factor. But I will definitely get it as a treat once in a while.

Oh, and, by the way, I'm adding it to my Top Ten list.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Trader Joe's Tahini, Pepita & Apricot Slaw Kit

My record of liking Trader Joe's prepared salad kits is pretty low. Heck, it might even be zero. (I didn't go through the archives to check.) This is one of the more successful ones.

It has serious crunch to it, what with the raw carrot, cabbage, and broccoli-stalk shreds. In fact, it takes so much chewing that Nina said she was starting to feel distinctly "bovine" while eating it. (To the best of my knowledge, however, she did not regurgitate any of it for re-chewing later.)

I got very little flavor enhancement from either the pumpkin seeds or the apricot bits. I wish the latter had been a lot more prominent.

I was kinda meh about the tahini-orange dressing (too much tahini, not enough orange), but Nina thought it was one of the nicest kit dressings TJ's has put out.

Will I buy it again? 

No--but it's close. I was happy to finish off, by myself, the three servings that were left after Nina and I had the first two with a dinner. But I already eat a ton of brassica vegetables, and I like them better in other forms.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Trader Joe's Chicken Enchiladas Verde

There's a lot here: four enchiladas (though that's not obvious from simple inspection), and each legitimately large enough to be the centerpiece of a meal, as the suggested serving size correctly indicates. Being refrigerated, rather than frozen, they preserve a decent sense of being fresh. And they're super-easy to prepare, with just a couple of minutes in the microwave. I found a little more sogginess of the wrap than you'd get in a restaurant, but not intolerable.


(1) They're really stuffed full of chicken. I realize that many, perhaps most, buyers will see this as a positive. I don't. My gradual decline in consumption of all meat products continues. Though I'm not opposed to a little chicken occasionally, I'm put off by having so much of it at once. (I felt the same way about the Chicken Breast Parmigiana.)

(2) They're too bland. They haven't had the flavor fully beaten out of them by the Trader Joe's Blandification Committe, but at least a couple of committee members took a whack or two.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, March 3, 2018


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

6 Trader Joe's products that should be on your grocery list

8 must-have items from Trader Joe's

New Trader Joe's products you need

7 Trader Joe's snacks for your spring break road trip

Publix and Trader Joe's lead grocery stores in customer-satisfaction survey

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

A post shared by Jena Rosemary (@jena_rosemary) on

Friday, March 2, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Rainbow Cauliflower

Nina served this with dinner recently. The florets come in yellow, green, and purple--just like the rainbow cauliflower heads TJ's used to sell. (I haven't seen them in quite a while.) Otherwise, they're just like regular cauliflower, in taste, texture, etc.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. I eat a lot of fresh cauliflower, so I'm buying it regularly--which means I don't need to have it frozen to have on hand for occasional use. However, I might be tempted some day to make a dinner with this, Colorful Carrot Coins, and Roasted Rainbow Potatoes just to blow my guests' minds.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Baked Churro Bites

My only previous life experience with churros is the Trader Joe's Mini Cinnamon Sugar Churros. These new "bites" are nothing like those, except in having a strong cinnamon-sugar flavor. What they remind me of most is cinnamon toast--heavy on the sweetened cinnamon. I like them, but it's purely because of that flavored coating, not because of what lies under it.

My understanding is that traditional churros are fried dough, not baked corn puffs. It seems to me that they've named this wrong. I would have called them "Cinnamon Toast Nuggets." That would be both more accurate than "churros" and, I think, more appealing.

Will I buy it again?