Sunday, October 23, 2016

More Trader Joe's Hacks

Trader Joe's Potstickers and Wontons

The label says this package contains 9 servings
but they would be little tiny servings.
I say the package serves two as a lunch main dish.
                                     --Product photos from TJ's website.
Use Trader Joe's potstickers or wontons for a quick lunch. Here's the secret for preparing them: after briefly browning the still-frozen pot stickers in a little bit of oil as the instructions say, add just a little balsamic vinegar to the pan so that they brown evenly. Cook them until they are hot inside -- the label says they are already fully cooked. A friend of mine whose family originated in China told me to do this balsamic vinegar trick. Serve sriracha and/or soy sauce for dipping.

Of course you can make your own potstickers or wontons, but maybe you don't have time and need a quick lunch or a dinner appetizer.

Quick Salad

On the side for lunch, how about a cucumber salad? Sprinkle sliced cucumbers with a little bit of Red Boat fish sauce and soy sauce -- or other Asian sauces if you like. You can include sliced bell pepper, hot pepper, tomatoes, scallions, or whatever other veggies you like in the salad. The TJ stores where I've shopped always have an adequate selection. Clearly, you can also buy vegetables and Asian sauce at any other market.

If you are really pressed for time, you can use packaged salad veggies like slaw mix, though I don't think these are as good as freshly sliced veggies. This is one area where I think a bit of work is worth it! I'm not a fan of bottled salad dressing either; mixing it up is just too easy.

Trader Joe's Meatballs

Of course you can use Trader Joe's meatballs in meatball sandwiches or in spaghetti or cut in half on a home-made pizza. That's obvious. But have you thought about putting them in soup? Not quite so obvious -- in fact, I'd call it a hack.

Brown vegetables like onions and carrots in butter; add TJ's tomato soup and barely
bring it to a boil Add TJ's frozen turkey meatballs and season with smoky paprika.
Simmer soup until meatballs are hot.
Or pick your own flavors of soup, meatballs, spices, and vegetables.

Trader Joe's Banh Mi Sandwiches  

One recipe for a Banh Mi sandwich calls for pâté and sliced roast pork on French rolls with mayo, pickled vegetables, and condiments. TJ's truffle mousse pâté and their packages of pork loins (two per package, cook them yourself) have been great for this, along with TJ's crusty rolls and the cauliflower and carrot pickles from TJ's refrigerator case. It seemed like everything that a Banh Mi sandwich needed could be found at TJ's.

Another hack: when I used up some of the vegetables in the jar, I chopped some carrots into small baton-shaped pieces and added them to the light brine with the rest of the veggies. This is the kind of carrots you are supposed to use in Banh Mi sandwiches.

The trouble is that you never can be sure your TJ's will have any particular product the next time you want it. Sure, things like steak, milk and salsa are probably always going to be there, but the exact kind of salsa you liked last week might disappear, or even the exact kind of steak. Today TJ's didn't have any packaged unseasoned pork loins, and I have no idea if they'll get more, or for that matter, if they'll always have the pâté either. But if you find these items, enjoy a sandwich!


Beth F said...

Thanks for these. I don't use our TJ very often but I know other people really love that store.

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Mae. We'll be hitting TJ's when we go to Livonia to see the kids this weekend. I'm going to get some pot stickers. I never take the time to make them myself but I really enjoy them and the balsamic vinegar hint is a good one.

I have a gift card burning in my pocket! Might get some fish sauce. I never have it when I see something that includes it so those recipes never get made!