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I’m at Trader Joe’s at least twice a week, and I rely on their quick short-cut items for most of my weeknight cooking. Here are 10 of my favorite easy recipes, plus a guide of how to shop at this amazing store.
Many TJs products are seasonal/regional so selections do vary. In fact, the online forum Chowhound has a month-by-month guide to TJs favorites! You’ll find cult favorites here—also check out the forum of the “all time favorite TJs products.”
Again, similar to my Costco shopping list, I am not going to delve into the merits of Organic vs. Not, GMO vs. Not, Local vs. Not, Microwave vs. Not, and so on. These are complicated and polarizing issues beyond the scope of my shopping list!
10 Easy TJs Inspired Recipes
Most of these recipes use my favorite short-cut cooking items for quick weekday cooking, because some days I just don’t want to wash another pot, dish or knife. If you have the time, by all means feel free to chop and peel everything yourself. Specific TJs products are in BOLD in each recipe.
Flavored Steamed Veggies
*vegetarian, *gluten free
Steam veggies to crisp-tender and set aside (I use a micro-steamer). Put a little oil and/or butter (1-2 Tbsp) in small saucepan and heat. Add 1-2 Dorot Frozen Garlic Squares and stir/heat for 1-2 minutes. Throw in the veggies. Add some salt, pepper and lemon juice. Goes great with TJ’s precut bagged green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snaps or any combination of those veggies.
Robin’s Lentil Soup
*vegetarian if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, *gluten free
Heat large pot, add olive or canola oil (2 Tbsp.). Add entire container of Mirepoix (diced onions, carrots and celery together) and heat 6-8 minutes until soft. Add 2 cubes Dorot Frozen Garlic and stir 1 minute until dissolved. Add 1 package ready-to-eat Steamed Lentils. Break apart. Add 2 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth. Stir well, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Mash lentils with potato masher, cook another 10 minutes, add salt and pepper if desired.
Easy Weeknight Turkey Skillet
Heat large skillet. Add enough oil to coat bottom of pan. Add 1 package TJs Seasoned Ground Turkey. Break up and brown until cooked through. Ground turkey is bland so you need to season it heavily! Add some salt, pepper, paprika and/or Italian seasoning—whatever you have on hand.
** Meanwhile, roast some veggies. I like the pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the cut veggies with olive or canola oil, salt and pepper. Put them on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes. While they’re cooking, toss some cherry and/or small yellow baby tomatoes and toss with oil/salt/pepper. After the veggies have been in the oven 20 minutes, throw the tomatoes on the same sheet and roast for another 10 minutes.
** Throw a bag of Frozen Quinoa or Frozen Brown or Jasmine Rice into microwave according to directions.
**When turkey is done, toss the whole sheet of roasted veggies into the skillet, along with the cooked quinoa or rice.
**Stir all well and add additional salt/pepper if desired.
This makes a great leftover for lunch!
Nigella’s Chicken and Sausage Bake
Uses a pack of cut-up bone-in skin-on chicken, and a pack of TJ’s Italian sausage. Marinate the night before, then dump everything into a baking dish. So easy and yummy, here is the link:
*vegan, *gluten free
My friend Linda brought this to a Girls’ Night and we devoured it with pita chips, bread slices and even by the spoonful. Linda’s secret is:
1 container Trader Giotto’s Fresh Bruschetta Sauce (in refrigerated section near hummus)
1 container ready-to-eat Steamed Lentils.
Mix together. Sprinkle with extra salt and pepper. Enjoy! You can also add Crumbled Feta (refrigerator section) to the mix.
15 Minute Chicken Soup
Grab a medium to large pot and heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil and heat. Pour in container of Mirepoix. Saute mirepoix over medium-low heat 6-7 minutes. Add 2 cubes Dorot Frozen Garlic. Stir and blend 2 minutes. Add 1 container low-sodium chicken broth. Boil. Lower heat and gently pour in TJ’s Chicken Gyoza Potstickers (as many as you want to cook). Cover pot and simmer 6-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper, mix and serve.
Slow-Cooker Italian Chicken
*gluten free if you use TJs All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend
Thanks to my friend Patricia E for this yummy recipe! Put some flour, salt and pepper in a big zip-top bag. Add TJs Chicken Tenderloins (cut them in half if you have an extra 2 minutes). Toss the chicken in the bag. Heat large skillet, coat bottom with oil, brown chicken on both sides till golden (do not need to cook all the way through). May need to do in 2 batches, may need to add more oil. Set chicken aside in large bowl. Add more oil if pan gets too dry.
Add a whole container of Mirepoix into the pan and sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft. If you have some fresh oregano, add that too. Deglaze the pan with maybe ¼ cup white wine and stir. Add a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (with juice) and a cup of chicken broth, stir.
Dump the whole pan of sauce into the slow cooker. Nestle the browned chicken on top of the sauce. Don’t stir.
Cook on high for about 3 hours, or on low 5-6 hours.
30 minutes before you want to serve the chicken, dump in a jar of Marinated Artichoke Hearts and stir. If you have some cooking sherry, add a couple tablespoons of that into the slow-cooker 5 minutes before serving. Stir well.
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
*vegetarian, *gluten free
Short-cut method—Use bag of Shredded Brussels Sprouts instead of chopping your own
Regular method—Chop off the little ends of the sprouts, then roughly chop them, keeping all the little bits and leaves.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Dump the chopped sprouts in a big bowl. Drizzle olive or canola oil all over, maybe 2-4 Tbsp. depending on how many sprouts you are using. You want them all to be lightly coated. Sprinkle a bunch of salt and pepper on the sprouts and stir well. Dump them all out onto a cookie sheet, preferably one lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until bigger sprouts are tender and light golden, and little bits/leaves are dark. Put them back in the same bowl. Drizzle with Balsamic Glaze (a very thick balsamic vinegar).
10-Minute Fabulous & Filling Fiber Lunch
*vegan or vegetarian, *gluten free
The newest TJs “Fearless Flyer” describes their frozen Melodious Blend—garbanzos, lentils, tomato and olive oil. I tried it with my favorite frozen organic quinoa—the combination was actually really tasty and it is beyond healthy. It would be great for lunch, or a quick easy dinner. Not sure how many kids will try this one, though I promise it does taste yummy! Also crazy high in protein and fiber—a fabulous choice for a Meatless Monday.
Dump as much of you want of the frozen Melodious Blend into a saucepan according to package directions (cooking covered with water). Meanwhile cook the frozen Fully Cooked Organic Quinoa bag for 4 minutes in microwave (you can also use rice). When veggies are done, season very well with salt and pepper. Mix the cooked quinoa into the veggies. I added some butter for more taste (you can also use Earth’s Best spread), and a bunch more salt/pepper.
Stir Fry Chicken Bites
Cut up TJs Chicken Tenderloins into 3 pieces each. Whisk 2 eggs in a large bowl, then add 1-2 Tbsp. cornstarch and mix extremely well into a smooth paste. Toss in all the chicken pieces so they are lightly coated. Heat a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Put in about 2-3 inches of oil and heat until sizzling. Drop in chicken, working in batches, and fry until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a large platter and drain excess fat on paper towels. Meanwhile, make 2 packs of Frozen Rice (Jasmine, brown, or half and half). Drain all but about 2-3 Tbsp of oil from pan. Add the cooked rice and a half-cup of TJs Cashews. Add about 1/3 cup General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce. Stir very well. Add the cooked chicken back to pan. Stir well. Add extra sauce if needed.