Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burger

We had these little Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers as a main dish for lunch a couple of times, and liked them.  It’s not that they’re stellar, it’s that they’re pretty good if you dress them up, and they are convenient.  Lars had his on a bun with lettuce and stuff.  I had mine without the bun, and used some red-pepper mayo I made by blending a jar of roasted red bell peppers with 1/3 Cup of Vegenaise and a clove of garlic.  I topped it with some of my Pickled Red Onions and some Patak’s Lime Relish.  This could accompany any of the other items in the Indian category on this site.  Yes, I love Indian food, and Indian restaurants are sometimes vegan friendly, but certainly not always, so I hope to expand this category this year.

Trader Joe’s Masala Dosa

Here is another vegan heat-and-serve food product from Trader Joe’s.  I like seeing the bold little “V” on the front of their packaging, which indicates that it’s vegan.  I served these Masala Dosa with Kim Barnouin’s delicious Curried Chickpea Cakes, and Trader Joe’s Biryani Rice.  Since I had the Chickpea Cakes in the freezer, it all made for a quick, tasty meal for us and my visiting parents.  I zapped the Dosa in the microwave and then did a quick fry on medium heat in a cast-iron skillet to make them nice and crispy on the outside.  I like the Indian condiments in the grocery store, so you could also serve these as a small plate with those, and some microwavable poppadoms too (which are surprisingly good).  I would say the prominent flavor and texture of these  Dosa is potato, and they give you a small amount of coconut chutney on the side.  Check out my Indian recipes category, for other suggestions on side dishes to serve with these.

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Rolls or Vegan Egg Rolls

Found these Trader Ming’s Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls at Trader Joe’s in Annapolis last week.  I’ve been unable to find vegan egg roll wrappers, so bought these to try.  Just bake and serve, and they’re pretty good!  I served these with vegan fried rice, and homemade sweet-and-sour sauce.  I would definitely buy these again.

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Penne Pasta is just one of those simple products that’s a good thing.  Wheat Free, Cholesterol Free, Sodium Free, AND Organic!  I’m not gluten free, but also think we could use a bit less wheat in our diet when there’s a good alternative.  The ingredients are organic brown rice and water.  I’ve tried some whole-wheat pastas and we weren’t crazy about them.  Some were tough or became tough once they sat a few minutes.  One cup of this pasta (cooked) provides 4 grams of protein and some iron.  This one-pound bag provides 8 servings and costs $1.99.  We just hope Trader Joe’s in Annapolis will also supply the  fusilli, and not just the penne.  And we hope Trader Joe’s will also make small elbow macaroni for vegan macaroni and cheese!

Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

I made a hot fudge sauce with this Baker Josef’s Unsweetened Baking Chocolate which comes in an 8 oz. bag.  The only ingredients is “cocoa mass” so it’s totally vegan.  My bag has an expiration date of more than one year, and the chocolate comes in small, flat discs so it does indeed melt very easily.  Furthermore, 6 discs equal approximately one ounce, so you can count out the amount you want.  I did weigh 12 discs and it did come to just a hair over 2 ounces, so pretty accurate.  Of course, this would be great for any recipe calling for baking chocolate; cakes, brownies, sauces, etc.

Trader Joe’s Steelcut Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oats are somewhat time consuming to make, and yet many swear by them because they’re less processed.  I found this simple explanation online:  There are three basic types of oats. There are old-fashioned rolled oats, which are whole oats rolled flat. Then there are quick oats, which are rolled oats that have been ground up a little bit more to make them cook faster. Finally, there are the steel cut oats, where the whole raw oat was cut into smaller chunks.
The taste of the steel-cut oats (to me), is better too, sort of nutty with tiny little chewy bits.  I looked on the McCann’s Irish Oatmeal web site and the various preparations are impressive.  You can prepare it the night before and then finish cooking it in the morning.  You can cook it and stir it for 30 minutes to make porridge, and you can even make it in your rice cooker.  However, if you want quick Steel Cut Oatmeal, this Trader Joe’s product is one solution.  I really like to juice in the morning and then eat whole fruits, but once in a while, a bowl of hot oatmeal with trimmings is a real treat;  wholly satisfying, almost dessert-like.  I add some raw nuts and a tablespoon of agave nectar or Suzanne’s Just Like Honey , or my favorite maple syrup.  You can drizzle on some soy milk or soy creamer too.  Man, it’s good!  This is too pricey for everyday consumption, but again, a treat once in a while, and certainly nice for company.   The only tip I have is that you can pull one of the blocks of frozen oatmeal out of the freezer the night before and put it in the fridge, and it just cooks even quicker.  It’s worth noting that even though the box says it’s already sweetened, the sweetening is almost undetectable. Make sure to remove the plastic wrap before microwaving!   Nutrition Facts:  2 servings per box.  Per serving 150 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0 cholesterol (of course), 40 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 5 g protein.

Trader’s Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice

This is a very convenient product that you keep frozen until preparation.  It’s great for that last-minute meal you need to make on the fly.  I have used it twice to serve with stir-fry and for fried rice, both with good results.  For fried rice, add one tablespoon of sesame oil to the skillet or wok and start browning your onions and whatever other vegetables on medium-high heat and then when you’re ready, add the frozen rice and your other vegetables, such as broccoli florets, chopped greens or thinly sliced celery, whatever.  Add a tablespoon of Tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos, a pinch of sea salt and pepper, some tofu or steamed edamame, you name it.  Let the rice sit a little so there are some well-cooked rice spots on the bottom of the pan, but keep stirring occasionally.  It’s done in 15 minutes and you’re at the table.  Honestly, you could let this thaw and make a quick sushi rice, red beans and rice, or hot cereal or whatever.  I’m not too big on microwave cooking, but I do think this is great for when you’re pressed for time, or you didn’t prepare the rice cooker that morning.

Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries in Light Syrup

I bought these Trader Joe’s Morello Cherries on a whim and then when I looked around online, I noticed people were confused as to what to do with them.  As you can see, I made a lattice-crust pie, but what I learned is that this 24.7 ounce jar holds a somewhat scant amount for a pie.  In other words, to do a generously filled pie, you’d probably want a few more cherries than this jar holds.  However, it’s kind of the perfect amount of cherries for an open faced tart.  And so, that’s my suggestion, and that is what I’ll do with a jar of these in future.  An open-face tart would also allow a single crust and you could freeze that second crust for future.  I love to cook once and use twice, it’s a lifesaver.  But as I was bumbling along here, I pored over several cookbooks and came up with a filling that is delicious.  One thing you should know is that the Morello cherry is classified as a sour cherry;  perfect for pies, tarts and cakes, where the sugar in those recipes will balance the acidity of this particular cherry.  I consulted several different cookbooks (like five) and put together a filling.  Alice Waters had a “tart and pie dough” crust that I veganized, and it came out lovely, and I have now posted that separately under Pastry.   Alice also suggests adding kirsch (a clear cherry flavored brandy) to the filling, so I did.  My vintage Amy Vanderbilt cookbook suggested adding almond flavoring, so I did that too.  I read up on techniques, such as adding a tiny dot of butter between the lattices of a crust, to stop the cherries from burning on top, that kind of thing.  So here below is my filling, but I’ll be doing a tart next time, if using this product.  However, this pie was delicious.  p.s.  Both Lars and I bit into cherry pits, so be careful!!!  It might be worth it to run a thin skewer through each cherry and make sure there are no pits.  The jar label does warn of pits, but I didn’t see it until it was too late.  Luckily, no teeth were broken.
Trader Joe’s Morello Cherry Tart Filling

Makes approximate 8 pieces.

one jar of Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries (24.7 oz.)
1 Cup sugar (this is less than called for in other recipes)
2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup of the cherry juice from the jar
1 teaspoon of kirsch (clear cherry brandy also called Kirschwasser) (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of almond flavoring
1 Tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan butter

-Have your tart dough in your pie pan and chilling in the fridge.
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Mix sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
-Drain one third cup of cherry juice from the jar and add to the flour mixture, and stir to combine.
-Add almond flavoring to flour mixture and stir.
-Also add kirsch to the flour mixture (optional) and stir.
-Drain cherries fully and set aside.  Discard the rest of the cherry juice or use it for something else.
Run a thin, metal skewer through each cherry to remove any pits (there will be a few and it’s better than breaking a tooth).
-Pour sugar/flour/juice mixture over cherries and mix gently.
-Fill your chilled tart dough shell with the cherry mixture, and dot cherries with little pieces of the tablespoon of butter before baking.
-Bake tart according to your tart-dough recipe instructions, or see my posting for tart dough under Pastry.

Trader Joe’s Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burritos

Back from a trip to NH, and weary from traveling.  So, a quick dinner was necessary for tonight.  These burritos looked a little plain, so I dressed them up with some La Victoria Enchilada Sauce (canned), and an onion.  You can find this enchilada sauce in many grocery stores.  Just put the burritos in a baking pan, sprinkle on half a chopped onion,  pour the can of enchilada sauce over all and bake uncovered for about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  You could sprinkle on some Daiya cheese before baking,  or serve withTofutti Sour Cream, but I forgot to.  I served these with sliced avocado and some red beans and rice.  Really fast to put together, and inexpensive, and good to boot!  Plenty of protein too.  Trader Joe’s has an online list of their vegan products, but their web site does not seem to showcase hardly any of their individual items.  See photo of hot dish below.

Trader Joe’s Chicken-Less Strips

I have used this product in two dishes:  a chicken cheese steak sub made with Daiya cheese, and also a chicken salad (see post under sandwiches).  20 grams of protein per serving.  I do find there is an aftertaste with this product.  However, I can see using this in hot dishes such as chicken curry, fajitas, etc.   I prefer Butler Soy Curls, but this is ok in a pinch if there are lots of other flavors going on.