Trader Joe’s Taste Testing- Fall Holiday Sides!

Ever walk down the aisles at the store and wonder… “Wouldn’t it be easier and taste just as good to use the pre-cooked side dishes from my favorite grocery store?”

Don’t. Make your own. Unless, you don’t mind settling for sides that are less than okay.

Case in point:

IMG_9134Cauliflower Au Gratin with Gruyere Sauce and Parmesan Breadcrumbs

IMG_9135Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans

IMG_9155Trader Joe’s Ready to Use Turkey Gravy


Again, don’t. Just… no. In very little time, you to peel, cube, and roast a couple of sweet potatoes, drizzle with your own maple syrup or sprinkle on brown sugar, and this will taste WORLDS better, the texture will be FAR superior, and you will spend maybe a third of the price. As for the cauliflower– well, it didn’t taste bad (neither did it taste good), but the vegetable was buried under about three times as much crumb topping as needed. Oddly enough, both packages of sides seemed under cooked, even though I followed the directions for time and temperature.

The gravy. Ummm… what to say. Not much turkey flavor, not horrible, but I wouldn’t buy it again or use it again. Ever. This product simply does not taste good. I’d rather mix up the McCormick’s envelope from the seasoning section of the supermarket. I would drink up a pot full of gravy from a straw, and I will not touch the Trader Joe’s gravy with a ten foot pole.

I love my Trader Joe’s stores, and rarely find something I dislike, or dislike this much. I’m glad I gave these a try, it was worth the price to try something new, and gratifying to know that a simple home made recipe is so much better. Save yourself the scratch. Make simple sides from scratch.

Got a Little Time to Cook? Simple Recipe Suggestions: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme and Maple Syrup

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Got a Little More Time to Cook: Still Somewhat Simple Suggestion:

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy


New x 2 from TJs- Tea and Dinner

Well, you know how it goes- when one person in the house falls ill the rest will soon follow. Like me. After running a few errands and before I started to feel too crummy, I picked up a couple of new-to-me items from Trader Joe’s.

My sore throat told me that tea would be a smart purchase. I love tea, all kinds- green, black, herbal, and mixes. If I’m going to be stuck with a scratchy pain in the neck I mighty as well try a new brew to break up my favorites- roasty genmai-cha , herbaceous mint, and perfumed Lady Grey.

A new tea and quick dinner...
A new tea and quick dinner…

I wanted something easy to throw in the oven for dinner, too, and The Boy always loves anything resembling a chicken nugget. A pot of rice and boiled edamame later, we had two new things to try: Organic Ginger Pear White Tea, and Tempura Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce.


The Tea
I don’t care for ginger, have never tried any white teas, and was suspicious of the word “flavored” in tiny print next to the word “pear” on the box. However, I loved this tea! Totally surprised me. The ginger was very mild, as was the tea (I think that is what white tea is known for) and the “pear” was subtle, too. Very good. I look forward to putting this tea into my rotation tomorrow as my dry throat annoys me.

The men laughed at these serving sizes...
The men laughed at these serving sizes…

The Chicken
Yep, the little nuggets are probably the same that you get in Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken. Which we love. Totally deep fried, battered, and I am there. This sauce was nothing special, a basic sweet and sour glaze. What killed us is the serving size- check it out, there are supposed to be seven servings! I piled the chicken into seven similar sized piles and the men of the house laughed at me. The Boy ended up eating two servings of everything… growing boy and all. I took one serving, wanted more, but honestly didn’t need any more. Boo. I hate to admit that I like to eat way too much food. Curse my love of eating!

My dinner- I wanted more but know that I need less. Boo!!!
My dinner- I wanted more but know that I need less. Boo!!!