Monday, October 8, 2012

Top 10 Greatest Trader Joe's Items

I am in love with Trader Joe's. If you don't have one in your area, or don't know what it is, it is a small organic/natural food chain retailer. The greatest part is the very reasonable prices associated with the food. I make a grocery list before I go, but there are many items that I purchase every time I go because they are so good! P.S. some items from different parts of the world might have a different brand name such as Trader Giottos, but they are all available in Trader Joe's!

 Here is my top 10 list of items, which is really 16 items, to try next time you shop here:

10. Butternut Squash Risotto. This frozen mix cooks up quickly in a skillet to accompany the rest of a meal, or if you cook a plain meat first (like two chicken breasts) then add this it can be an entire meal.

9. Dark Chocolate covered Espresso Beans. One of my favorite snacks, and gives a nice burst of energy. Don't eat these before bed, it's a double whammy with caffeine from both espresso beans and chocolate!

8. Gnocci with Gorgonzolla Cheese. This is a great side dish to go along with your meal. A nicely seasoned steak or breaded chicken goes nicely with this dish. It cooks from frozen to finish in less than 10 minutes.

7. Three Cheese Spaghetti Sauce. Obviously best used for spaghetti. This sauce is a nice dipping sauce if you make bread sticks out of the pizza dough in my #1b. pick below.

6. Vanilla and Blueberry Cream Yogurt. This yogurt is thick, and delicious. It is sweet and you can truly taste the cream difference from most yogurt. There is always a fight between four of us who gets one of the three vanilla in the pack (I usually lose! The joys of being the adult!!)

5. Parmesan and Artichoke Spread. This is a super yummy spread for crackers or bread. I have only eaten it as a cold spread. I really enjoy it on Trader Joe's Garlic Parmesan Pita Chips or Trader Joe's Everything Pretzel Thins. (Like how I was able to add more foods to my top 10 list?!)

4. Cilantro and Chicken Mini Wontons. Fall and winter always mean more soups for my family. This bag of frozen wontons is great to keep in the freezer and can be ready in less than 20 minutes. I just heat up chicken stock or water and bouillon cubes on the stove, bring to a boil, then add the wontons for another 5-7 minutes. Cut a few scallions or green onions to garnish and its ready to go.

3. Dessert: Madagascar Vanilla Wafer cookies and Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers. I don't know how they do it, these are "hard" cookies, yet they still have moisture to them. I typically do not like hard cookies but these are awesome. The dunkers cookies go great with coffee or hot chocolate. The vanilla wafers are great for anything-but the flecks of Madagascar vanilla bean are what really set them apart!

2. Fire Roasted Corn. Such a simple ingredient, yet it makes a huge difference from regular frozen or canned corn. I use this corn for tortilla soup, nachos, Mexican lasagna, and many other things.

1 b. garlic and herb pizza dough, quattro formaggio cheese, and pizza sauce. This dough at one point was discontinued, but due to high demand they brought it back. There are many times when they sell out of this flavor and they only have the white or whole wheat left. I only buy this one. I have used the dough as pizza dough and as bread sticks with pasta. The Quattro Formaggio cheese is worth the $4.00 and change, it makes a great pizza cheese blend and goes well melted on bread or pasta. The pizza sauce is well flavored and actually priced lower than at the grocery store, so that makes it worth it!

1 a. (seasonally) cinnamon cheese- Toscano Cheese with Cinnamon. MMM, this cheese! It is only available seasonally (and I haven't yet seen it but it will be here soon!). Last year I discovered this cheese close to November and December. I love the taste of this cheese so much I eat it without anything else. The flavor of the cheese improves if you allow it to come to room temperature rather than eat it cold out of the refrigerator. Some people like this cheese with crackers or apples. There is no such thing as "some people" at my house because it is all mine! I will be very lost if they don't have it this fall/winter again.


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