Two months ago I was out for a walk and passed by the Rose Palace. (For those of you not familiar, that's a large building in Pasadena used primarily for the construction of floats for the Rose Parade.) And I came upon the above site. I thought Sweet, my next Trader Joe's post will start off with this picture. But then I kept postponing the thing.
After Thanksgiving I said to myself "I'll just keep trying new Trader Joe's products and so a massive post as a Christmas present to my readers." But then I ended up doing some work for an old acquaintance for the two weeks prior to Christmas and I never got around to it. (Although the TJ's posts aren't anything special in terms of writing or photographs, they actually do take quite a while to put together.)
Next I said "I'll do a big post in the New Year." And twice I had it scheduled but cancelled it. Now, finally, I present to you the Trader Joe's post I started in November. It's gotten a lot larger since then.
PIZZA 4 FORMAGGI
I cooked the four cheese pizza in the oven in a remarkably short period of time. It felt like it might have only been five minutes. And it was delicious. I haven't had one of these in years - just cheese sounded too boring to me. But it was remarkably flavorful.
3 CHEESE PIZZA & SWEET LONG RED PEPPERS
GREEK FLATBREAD WRAP
CRAB & LANGOSTINO RANGOON
First things first: they are much bigger than I expected. I cooked the whole box - one dozen of them - for Elizabeth and myself to share, and we couldn't finish the plate. I don't even think we finished half of the plate. So unless you're cooking for a few people, I don't think you need to cook the whole box.
But they were very tasty. I would not hesitate to purchase these again.
6 SPICY SHRIMP BAO
WEISELLA GINGERBREAD COOKIES
RICE CRISPY BARS
BUFFALO STYLE CHICKEN WRAP WITH BLUE CHEESE SAUCE
SPICY CALIFORNIA ROLLS
I always look through the wraps, salads and sandwiches at TJ's to find the one whose expiration date is furthest in the future. I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to do that with their sushi. There was a time when I got these Spicy California Rolls at least once a week, but that was many years ago. These days I probably get it less than once every couple of years.
SHRIMP CORN DOGS WITH SWEET & HOT CHILI SAUCE
But I did not love these. They have promise, but I think they need to be fried. I followed the instructions and baked them in the oven. The corn batter ended up rubbery, the shrimp was tough, and, after one bite, each corn dog fell apart. The shrimp slid right out of the flaccid batter without any resistance.
I imagine I will try them again - they have too much promise for me not to - but I will never bake them in the oven again.
THAI STYLE CHICKEN FLATBREAD PIZZA
I mixed up my own sauce of vinegar and garlic chili paste and tossed the slaw in that, then threw it on the pizza. It was quite nice. The sauce on the pizza was subtle and the chicken was surprisingly tender. I had never had this pizza before, but I will get it again.
TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD WRAP
But as usually happens with Trader Joe's wraps, the calorie and fat content astound me: 680 calories and 34 grams of fat? Seriously? A McDouble may not be health food, but those only have 390 calories and 19 grams of fat. I can eat almost two of them and be in the same range as one TJ's wrap.
CREAMY TOSCANO CHEESE SOAKED IN SYRAH
FIVE SPICE CHICKEN AND ASIAN STYLE NOODLE SALAD
I felt the salad could have used a lot less noodles, but overall I liked it. The chicken had a distinct flavor and the dressing was really good.
CHICKEN & VEGETABLE WONTON SOUP
Chipotle Caesar Salad with Chicken
Italian Truffle Cheese
Blacksticks Blue Cheese
Pita Bite Crackers
The truffle cheese was amazing: buttery, truffle-tinged deliciousness. I immediately starting planning a sliders recipe in my mind.
And the pita bite crackers were a nice vehicle for delivering the cheese to my mouth.
Panko Breaded Tilapia Fillets
I love tilapia, but I have never been a fan of breaded fish that you have to cook in the oven. It always seems to turn out greasy and never crisp. (Or, if it is crisp, the fish is so overcooked it is almost inedible.)
But Trader Joe's panko-breaded tilapia is an exception. The breading got really crispy, and the fish was moist while still being hot enough to burn my tongue. I would not hesitate to try these again, although next time, instead of eating them with fries and slaw like I did here, I will make a salsa like the one pictured on the box.
Mini Chicken Tamalitos
Elizabeth and I decided to split some for lunch one day. I steamed them for about a dozen minutes and opened them up. The masa was better than I thought it was going to be (I admit my expectations were pretty low) but the chicken and sauce provided a consistency too reminiscent of cat food. And there was no flavor to any of it. These weren't bad - although they needed a few shakes of Valentina - but they weren't very good. I wouldn't mind having a couple of these again as an appetizer, but they certainly aren't enjoyable enough for a meal, and at any rate I don't think I will ever purchase them again.
That's it for this post. I won't let this much time go by again between TJ's posts.