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Showing posts from 2015

Trader Ming's Shiitake Mushroom Chicken

A few weeks ago, A and I stopped buying real groceries to clean out the fridge before leaving for vacation. Except I started getting hungry for "real food." Somehow, "real food" cravings led me back to Trader Ming. My latest string of Trader Ming's reviews have yielded more misses than hits, so I'm going to take a break from Trader Ming's for a while. After a while, it's kind of like Stockholm syndrome, where you've been held captive for so long that you start having positive feelings for your captors, except I'm not eating Trader Ming's against my will. Not the best example, I'll admit, but either way it's time to take a break from this [unhealthy] relationship. 

Trader Ming's Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns

Oh no. Again. 

Trader Joe's Sencha Green Tea Selection

More tea for people who don't drink real tea!* But hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Some of us will never be coffee connoisseurs or tea snobs, which is fine! I know I will personally never go organic tea leaf-picking (I'm sure this is a thing somewhere) and brew the loose leaf precisely at 105 degrees C for exactly 3 minutes. So thank you TJ's for gifting us with a moderately exotic tea for those of us who love hoarding trying tea! 

Trader Joe's Iced Mini Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Do you ever find yourself facing something you know is definitely not going to go down well but you do it anyway? Like that time I stood in line at Charbucks, contemplating the dark roast Christmas blend when those words DARK ROAST automatically triggered a red flag. I knew it was going to taste burnt, but I thought to myself, why not try something new. Did not taste like Christmas at all. More like a lump of coal. Such was the case here, except it wasn't nearly as bad as a lump of coal. 

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe's

I'm not a huge fan of the Joe Joe, Trader Joe's version of the ever popular creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie. It's probably deliciously organic or something, but Nabisco got me during my childhood and I've been loyal ever since. And if you've been following my blog, y'all know I'm not a huge sweets person, but I've made an exception for these babies. Keyword = dark chocolate. 

Trader Joe's Persimmon Salad

Another kale salad. Yet another kale salad. When does it end. Y'all know very well, I love me some kale, but somehow A and I ended up with TWO 2-pound bags of kale before Thanksgiving. I originally intended to use them for Thanksgiving, but we only used barely a pound. There was some serious miscommunication that went down, but that doesn't matter anymore - the point is we took on the challenge of eating two pounds of kale in a week. I might have to go on a kale fast. 
Anyway, I ended going on a TJ's dash to grab something before work, because the only thing left in our fridge is KALE. And I ended up with a KALE SALAD. There is no escape! :O 

Trader Joe's Grecian Style Eggplant with Tomatoes & Onions

Vegetables in a can. exciting. Probably not something I would have picked up from the shelves, but HEY sometimes TJs purposely samples products that aren't selling well that you would otherwise overlook. 

Trader Joe's Turkey Stuffing and Seasoned Kettle Chips

By the time this post goes up, these chips are probably long gone from the shelves at TJ's, because too often that's how life works. Enjoy the blessings while you can because they don't stay around forever, unless you've miraculously found something that does in fact last for eternity. But in this case, it's because I procrastinated. Sorry folks, this one's pretty decent but it's probably gone until next fall. Plus, who really wants more Thanksgiving food after Thanksgiving? 

Trader Joe's Spaghetti Squash

With all the snacks* I've been consuming around here, it's about time for a vegetable review. Just in time for the season where we give thanks by gorging ourselves with ridiculous amounts of food. Go 'Murica. 
*I mean chips when I say snacks, because there have been too many tempting chips around. I went back for more sriracha chips, but they aren't there!! The TJs employees said they have no idea when the next shipment will arrive. Apparently every other TJ's around has been trying to restock with limited success. They also said when it does finally get restocked, I could call ahead and reserve my hoarding stash what I want to buy. 

Trader Joe's Turkey Stock and Trader Joe's Turkey Broth

This post is more of an observation and a mild rant rather than a review. With Friendsgivings in full swing and Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought I'd inform the general public of two very similar looking products lurking around TJ's. Turkey stock and turkey broth. Isn't this kind of repetitive? 

Trader Giotto's Baci di Dama Cookies

We've entered the best time of year at TJ's. The holiday items are finally in, and most of the pumpkin spice garbage is gone until next fall. Which means loads and loads of sweets. Mostly not that appealing to me, but every now and then you have to take a chance! 

Trader Joe's Sriracha Potato Chips

Lattice cut. Kettle Cooked. And sriracha? WHAAAAAAAT? 

Trader Joe's Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn

A few weeks ago, everyone on the internet freaked out because they found out that bacon causes cancer. The bacon haters were validated in their smug self-righteousness that bacon and other processed meets "do cause cancer"* while those who would give up bacon when it is pried out of their cold dead hands stood their ground
*Calm down people. If bacon really causes cancer, then according to the standards from that study, everyone who eats 2 slices of bacon per day would get cancer. Furthermore, WHO issued a clarification statement that referenced a report from the International Agency of Cancer Research (IACR) that "does not ask people to stop eating processed meats" (..why?) and stated "reducing the consumption of [processed meats] can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer." And of course, the evidence still shows that smoking cigarettes increases your risk of getting cancer way more than eating processed meat. End rant.
Which brings me to this popcorn,…

Trader Joe's Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings

"Oh no." 

Those were the words I uttered when I saw these in the freezer aisle. Those were the same words A uttered when I showed him the box. Oh no indeed. This could be bad. Really bad. Like, thank-you Trader-Joe's-for-RUINING-one-of-the-best-foods-ever bad. 

Trader Joe's Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons

I can think of only three good reasons why food is acceptable in "mini" form. 
1) If you're a baby. Mini food is good for honing fine motor skills, and it's more proportional to their little mouths and stomachs. But babies often eat foods that are way too big for their faces anyway.
2) If you're dieting. Mini food justifies you eating multiple pieces without any remorse. Because why not. 
3) If it looks so darn cute. If you can make it look cute, people will buy it. Yes, even baby kale
As for me and these mini wontons,
1) I'm not a baby. I'm a grown woman.  2) The only diet I was ever on was the wedding diet (which is over because once you're married who cares. :P), and even then it was more like a see food diet. I see it. I eat it.  3) Okay so I fell victim to this. Mini wontons are cute in theory, but in reality they look meat-deprived and rather pitiful. 

Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Potato Chips

I never watched Ghostbusters, so I'm so I'm not even going to try to throw in a reference. It would fall terribly flat. Not even going to throw in a Casper the Friendly Ghost reference either because I'm pretty sure it's been over two decades since I've seen that one. I'm a grandma y'all. 
And I should say, these have more likely than not exited the shelves at TJ's. Like a ghost. Darn seasonal products. 

Trader Joe's Fall Harvest Salsa, Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, & Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

Prepare yourself for a massive snack post. So many snacks on the blog lately! 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cornbread Mix

Continuing the quest to review seasonal pumpkin products without having to ingest overly pumpkin spiced products that might make me gag! Somehow, cornbread passed the test. 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps

I'm experiencing some déjà vu y'all. I mean didn't I review this product just last week or something? 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter

And Mantou Joe turns one! If my blog were a baby, it would be taking its first steps now and eating solid food. I'm a proud mama! Of this blog! And of my beautiful kitchen aid mixer named Choo Sarang! But not of any actual babies, okay? :P
It's October, which means it's my favorite month and the month of the great pumpkin assault. The Fearless Flyer landed in my mailbox. I was aghast to see 24 pages of mostly pumpkin products. For some people, it's Christmas two months early. For me, I prefer to stand about three feet away and poke it with a stick until I know it's safe to approach. 
Such is the case here. I haven't seen a moderately appealing new speculoos product in a while. I'm wondering why they didn't name this pumpkin pie spice speculoos, but everyone knows it IS speculoos. 

Trader Joe's Pita Crisps with Cranberries & Pumpkin Seeds

Some people eat to live. Others live to eat. I eat to eat snacks. What is life without snacks. Must be a Taiwanese thing. And look! Pumpkin! Except it's not really pumpkin, which I find completely acceptable. 

Trader Joe's Original Coconut Creamer

A few weeks ago, I went through a weaksauce phase where I could not drink my coffee black. Nowadays, I can drink my coffee black but most days I choose not to. There's a difference y'all. I normally like my coffee with a bit of milk, unless I'm lazy or the coffee has too much star power and demands the spotlight. Creamer on the other hand? I shun. The way I see it, coffee creamer is kind of like adding soy sauce to your Chinese food. It's gratuitous and doesn't really make the food taste inherently better, and the only reason you would use it is because it's so terrible it's almost beyond saving. That happened to be the case with this one coffee I was trying desperately to finish.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Waffles

It's that time of year again. I must say, even with the disappointment of not having pickle popcorn, I do enjoy when Trader Joe's brings back its seasonal offerings. It's like Christmas. Almost. But I should say, I do not buy into the pumpkin hype. Have I tried every Trader Joe's pumpkin item? No. Some people buy into the pumpkin thing and want pumpkin-on-steroids. Nothing wrong with that. It's actually pretty cool randomly discovering another pumpkin item at TJ's. As for me, after trying many pumpkin items, my stance is still decidedly "meh." I still have last year's jar of pumpkin pie spice sitting in my spice drawer. It's still looking sad and neglected. 
Anyway, I seem to have left off one variety of waffle from a recent post, which was my primary motivation for picking these up. How can you claim to review every variety of waffle and not include these?? And also, considering I've been walking around with a skeptical expression just s…

Trader Joe's Pork Gyoza & Chicken Gyoza Potstickers

This, my friends, is the Chinese family's go-to emergency meal. Pretty cheap, filling, and doesn't take much thought. Dump into pot of boiling water, let it cook, and eat.  Well not exactly a set-it-and-forget-it type food but almost.  Growing up I learned from listening to Doraemon/Xiao Ding Dang cassette tapes (I'm giving away my age y'all :P) that you're supposed to add some water when it comes to a boil and do that once or twice until it's done.
Trader Joe's actually has a nice selection of ethnically ambiguous dumplings (yes, there's a Thai gyoza line too, so I guess no mystery there). By ethnically ambiguous, I mean it's not really clear what the origin is. For example, if you go to an Asian grocery store, they are very deliberate about distinguishing the Chinese dumplings from the Korean mandoo from the Japanese gyoza. All dumplings, yes, but ethnically distinct, which is why I'm surprised this particular line of dumplings (the gyoza pot…

Trader Joe's Cheddar & Horseradish Flavored Potato Chip

A snack review requested by my friend Chrizchianity! I think to give a fair review of a snack, particularly a salty crunchy one, I must have ample time to chew on it. Literally. I had this for the first time last year and didn't think too much of it and recently tried it again. So if you don't see too many snack food reviews around here, it's because I try to buy it a couple times before I review it. (Except for the pickle popcorn review - I wrote that one after the first or second bag)
Speaking of pickle popcorn, OH MY. After a few trips of successfully avoiding the ever-so-tempting snack aisle, I finally caved. To my surprise, I did not find any pickle popcorn, which is crazy because just two or three weeks ago my TJ's dedicated an entire display to just that! I mentioned this to my cashier, and she told me that it's a seasonal product. WHICH MEANS IT'S GONE UNTIL NEXT SUMMER. WHAT. Some sick person is capitalizing on distraught salty sour pickle popcorn fie…

Trader Joe's Waffles - Blueberry, Multigrain, and Gluten Free

Y'all should know, as a grandma at heart, I'm perpetually behind on pop culture. Which brings me to Parks and Recreation. I'm now on the last season - except I don't want it to end, so I've stopped watching it because not watching it means it won't end until I want it to...? Anyway, I'd like to credit Leslie Knope and her love of waffles for my recent growing infatuation with brunch. She's had such an influence that even A, who has grown tired of toast, requested waffles. But then again, he has also requested bacon. A lot. A la Ron Swanson
Unlike most commercial supermarkets, Trader Joe's carries fewer products (around 4000 stock-keeping units compared to about 50,000 stock-keeping units at a typical store), which means fewer waffle varieties but higher product turnover and sales per square foot. And actually it's really good for indecisive people - anyone ever read The Paradox of Choice? When there's only three different waffles to pick …

Trader Joe's Brownie Crisp

Around the 3rd grade, I somehow managed to convince my first-generation Chinese/Taiwanese immigrant mother to buy Cookie Crisp, a product disguised as a breakfast cereal that was actually...cookies. And it was great. Whatever happened to it? If Trader Joe's ever came out with their version of Cookie Crisp cereal, you know I'd hoard it.  
So along came these brownie crisps. Actually for a while, I wondered why they didn't name this "brownie crisps" until I remembered the British. If I were British, I'd probably name these "Brownie Biscuits" or something. Crisps = chips. Chips = fries. Lots of room for misinterpretation. Anyway, these have been at stores for a few months now. I got them a while ago with the intention of saving them in my TJ's cupboard for when the rare chocolate craving comes knocking. Except, when I got home and unpacked the groceries, I saw the words "VEGAN" and "GLUTEN-FREE" and let out a huge groan. How di…

Trader Joe's Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing

New! At Trader Joe's! I really try not to buy condiments. A year ago when I started this blog, I thought to myself I should instill a "one in one out" system to avoid accumulating excessive TJ products that will take up room in my Trader Joe's cupboard and suffer neglect overtime. Good intentions yes but rather unrealistic for me to carry out, hahah. Anyway, it didn't help that I sampled this salad dressing at TJ's with some crispy fish. It was intriguing enough to take home for more detailed analysis. 

Trader Joe's Next to Godliness Micellar Cleanser & Makeup Remover

A non-food review! Largely female-oriented! Unless you're Tony Stark or a K-pop star and wear BB cream on the regular. Nothing wrong with that y'all. 

Trader Joe's Organic Mixed Baby Kale

I remember playing Apples & Apples with my freshman year residence hall (that board game where you throw down a noun card to suit the adjective card and everyone votes for the best pair). One girl said, "Babies. Works for everything." While I wouldn't agree that babies worked for every adjective, it did work well with a lot. Enormous babies. Dramatic babies. Hairy babies. 
"Baby" happens to increase appeal for food too, especially vegetables that are otherwise unappetizing to some people. Baby pickles. Baby corn. Baby carrots. Baby turnips. How about baby kale?

Trader Joe's Popcorn in a Pickle

Every now and then, I stumble across something so weird it jumps to the top of my blogpost queue. 

Trader Joe's White Wheat Bread

First, it was kale. Today, I bring you sliced bread (again). What kind of Trader Joe's blog is this? What about the new happening salted caramel bread pudding (probably will not review on my own unless there's a critical mass of people that want to eat it with me)? What's so special about sliced bread? Here on my blog, I like to dispel the myth that Trader Joe's is a magical place brimming with specialty, [sometimes] wannabe [insert ethnic food product] things that you can't get anywhere else. I've got news y'all-- on any given day, I buy mostly boring stuff from TJ's. Eggs. Bread. Certain vegetables. Not everyday can be a speculoos ice cream day! 
Weekday breakfast a la casa Samdrew is usually toast [with PB for him, hummus for me]. I had been buying a different, better tasting variety of the TJ's sprouted wheat bread for weeks when A pleaded with me to get something else. 
Me: *fake shock* what you don't like it?  A: No..can we try something di…

Trader Joe's Macaroni & Cheese

Another backlogged post. I meant to cook this around the same time frame as the white cheddar shells, but clearly I've been preoccupied for the past 6 months. Boxed mac and cheese was a childhood staple at my house.  I grew up thinking mac and cheese came from a box, and it didn't occur to me until probably middle school that you could theoretically make it from scratch. Astonishing, I know. So much nostalgia in this box! Oh the memories of almost setting my house on fire at age 8, scarfing down Easy Mac before swim practice during grade school...

Trader Joe's Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky

Nearly a month later, I still find myself reminiscing over San Francisco. The weather. The food. The Trader Joe's. See here on the East Coast, if you buy something like Speculoos ice cream it'll elicit some kind of response from the cashier like, "omai it's so dangerously addicting it's like crack." Over there, I had one cashier comment on every single item I purchased (no wonder the checkout line was long), that is except for this one.  Maybe she was vegan? Considering SF, the hipster lifestyle, the environmental consciousness, AND Trader Joe's, I'd say the chances of that are high. 
(I'd be really impressed if one day TJ's came out with vegan jerky. Sounds like an oxymoron.) 

Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken

There's a reason why I have not once joined in on the office Chinese-takeout order. It's takeout. As a [2nd generation immigrant] Chinese [actually Taiwanese] person (have to make those cultural disclaimers), this is how I feel about Chinese takeout probably 95% of the time. That's not to say it's true about all Chinese people, but I happen to raise the standards high when it comes to Chinese food. When it's what you've been eating for the duration of your life almost every night and on almost every vacation anywhere in the Continental US, you have certain expectations. Amirite? 
I have held off on reviewing Trader Ming's products, mostly because in my mind I don't want my opinion of Trader Ming to tarnish my view of the main guy Trader Joe. It would probably take more than subpar frozen Chinese food to make me think twice about Joe, but the idea of Trader Ming triggers a reflexive stank face for me. I'm trying y'all to contain it. 
It all happ…

Trader Joe's Fresh Goat Cheese Medallions

Another gem! Thanks to J, my fellow TJ's enthusiast!

Trader Joe's Falafel Wrap & Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Chicken Breast Wrap with Blue Cheese Dressing

Happy Monday y'all! I'm pleased to present all my readers with a 2 for 1 special. Two product reviews in one convenient blogpost. Kind of like how now that I'm married, A and I come in a two for one package deal. Not much has changed. :P 
Two weeks ago (seems like such  long time ago. Oh working life), we took a trip to San Francisco, where in addition to all the typical touristy activities, we went to not one but TWO Trader Joe's stores. Typical, very typical. 
(Totally took a sneaky pick above the dairy case, because no photography is allowed. They can't be giving away their market secrets, but I just admire how TJ tries to make the otherwise same Hawaiian general store decor customized to each city).

Apart from going to TJ's in another city for thrills (yes I get a kick out of going to TJ's even when I don't/can't buy anything), we went for lunch options for a day trip to Muir Woods, which by the way prohibits picnicking except for limited desig…

Trader Joe's French Roast Coffee Cups

Disclaimer #1: Before you read this post, watch this.  I just got back recently from a trip to San Francisco where environmentalism is very much embedded in everyday living. I even spotted a billboard downtown condemning the use of K-cups (something about there's barely enough land for your deceased grandmother much less k-cups). 
Anyhoo, I don't have much to say about this, other than the fact that I ironically purchased this on Earth Day. Most people celebrate Earth Day by recycling or planting a tree. I bought K-cups. It was for work. *shrug*
Disclaimer #2: Apparently these particular K-cups are recyclable. I haven't tried it because my workplace recycling is not exactly up to SF standards. *shrug* 

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt

In case y'all didn't notice, I went on hiatus. I fasted from my Trader Joe's blog - but that does NOT by ANY MEANS indicate that I fasted from Trader Joe's. I'd say shopping at Trader Joe's ranks in my top five favorite de-stressing activities up there with lying on my yoga mat (y'all should try it. It's therapeutic). In any event, here's to more regular posting and catching up with my ginormous backlog of products to review!

Trader Joe's Shrimp Vermicelli Vietnamese Style Salad

An empty stomach, a moderate salad craving, and a new product sign led me to this discovery! 

Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn...with Butter & Sea Salt!

Easter has come and gone and so has my salty crunchy fast. Yes, it's been three weeks. Never mind that. At first, I was a little concerned that my tastebuds had changed. I wasn't sure if foods were actually too salty or if it was just the shock of having salty crunchy foods again. In fact, I was a little concerned that I wasn't enjoying them as much as I did before. Or maybe I enjoyed them too much before? In any event, this reverse tastebud shock still has me questioning all my reviews of the salty crunchy until THIS not-popcorn! Needless to say since the initial writing of this review, I'm back to my old salty crunchy ways and this was the gateway snack.

Trader Joe's Cara Cara Navel Oranges

I got super excited when I saw this bag of oranges with a Trader Joe's label - because it made these babies eligible for my blog! Around this time last year, I had been at my current job not too long but I was already raving about my happy place (Trader Joe's in case y'all were wondering :P) to anyone who would listen. A coworker came back raving about these "pink oranges." We were all befuddled. Pink oranges? Don't you mean grapefruit? He insisted no but couldn't remember the name. I went to the store in search of them only to be told that they were long out of stock. Instead, I found these peculiarly shaped minneolas, which turned out to be just as delicious and popular. Lo and behold, a few weeks ago I found these! 

"I'm an ORANGE, but I'm PINK!" 

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

I came up with an adjusted rating scale for sweets to compensate for my inherent bias towards the salty crunchy. I call it "vitamin status." It's a level of awesomeness that surpasses my normal taste preferences such that I could theoretically eat the sweet thing everyday, like a vitamin. Or more than once a day if it's really good. Do I love vitamins? Meh. Are vitamins lovable? Not conventionally speaking, but I tend to have them everyday for maintenance rather than some "deep soul fulfillment" need. At my house, we're used to taking vitamin supplements that need reconstitution -  a process lazy people tend to skip unless it's conveniently made available to you. But gummy vitamins! I like those!  I've definitely eaten more gummy vitamins than the daily recommended dose because of the mere fact that they were gummies. But then am I eating the gummy or the vitamin? Hmm...
I'm so behind on reviewing things I've already tried that I'm …