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Celebrate Dumpling Week all year round

1 Sep
Dumplings thanks to Trader Joe's

xie xie, TJ’s.

Whether you’re in China, Italy, Russia or Mississippi, dumplings, no matter what they’re called locally,  are often what’s for dinner.

National Public Radio honored the small, doughy, culturally shared food with a week of its own. NPR offered dumpling stories, information and how-tos including pierogi, tortelloni and shumai. (NOTED: they all end with an “i.”)

If you’ve noticed our header photo, you’ve probably guessed that TJ’s Chinese Gyoza Potstickers are one of our all-time faves and a grocery-list regular. Likewise, TJ’s shumai. So, we were extremely thrilled about the coverage and the week-long commemoration.

If you missed the tweets, the instagram pics and vids or the broadcasts, here are a few links to help you catch up and/or relive the moment:

NPR’s Instagram gallery

Catch up on the Twitter conversation



Snow Peas: Snack of the day from Trader Joe’s

5 Apr

Coming clean: I sit at a computer during the day and at night. And on weekends. For work. For fun activity and personal projects.

It’s my writing tool, my publishing platform, my darkroom, my editing suite, and theater, television, radio, jukebox, newspaper, magazine, universal messaging system …

And then there’s the smart phone and tablet for those moments I stray from the mother ship.

The sad truth. There it is.

And when I’m working, playing, watching, listening, processing and creating, I often like to snack.

Even though my habits are more sedentary and less healthy, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about what I eat. I strive to live up to my mantra: “Snack smartly.”

This week’s smart snack from Trader Joe’s: Snow peas.

Snow peas, please

Smart snack: Snow peas

With bags of chips, cans of nuts and boxes of cookies, I have to ration my intake very consciously. If not, the entire contents of each container quickly and mysteriously vanishes. How does that happen?

Watching or rationing is not required when eating snow peas, the prototype healthy snack. Check out the related links below to find out just how healthy.

Thank you, Trader Joe’s!

And thank you for visiting Things I Love at Trader Joe’s!

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @TraderJoesKC

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Pinterest: Trader Joe’s

Like Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Facebook: Things I Love at Trader Joe’s

Related links:

Snow pea nutrition count

Snow pea recipes (

Spicy snow pea and sesame stir-fry recipe (

Trader Joe’s “must haves” Faves from 2012

2 Jan

Trader Joe’s constantly comes up with wonderful items. While I love trying the new offerings, I find there are staples that I buy over and over. I have to have them on hand – TJ “must haves.”

I’d love to hear what TJ products you can’t live without! Please share your faves in the comments.

Here are 15 of mine that were featured on Things I Love at Trader Joe’s in 2012:

Roasted chicken from Trader Joe's

Pure deliciousness, without the oiliness.

Dark chocolate espresso beans by Trader Joe's

Dark chocolate espresso beans by Trader Joe’s

Peppermint hard candy

Peppermint hard candy

Trader Joe's Gummi Vites

Trader Joe’s Gummi Vites


Grilled Chicken Breast Strips

Grilled Chicken Breast Strips

Trader Joe's Chicken Sausage

Trader Joe’s Chicken Sausage

Tj's bananas, 19 cents each - No joke!

Tj’s bananas, 19 cents each – No joke!

Orange Blossom Honey, oo la la!

Orange Blossom Honey, oo la la!

Snack mantra: tomatoes and edamame. (Y)om.

Snack mantra: tomatoes and edamame. (Y)om.

Quinoa Duo with vegetable melange

Quinoa Duo with vegetable melange

Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Savory Thin Mini Crackers

Savory Thin Mini Crackers


Thank you, Trader Joe’s for a year filled with good things!

And thank you for visiting Things I Love at Trader Joe’s!

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @TraderJoesKC

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Pinterest: Trader Joe’s

A good thing to do with eggplant, garlic and ginger

6 Jun

I’ve heard Trader Joe’s criticized for its produce, but I often find it inspiring. For instance, last week. I couldn’t resist taking home a bag of avocados and a large eggplant in its glossy, purple splendor. Tonight, it was time to honor the eggplant.

Years ago, I made a Chinese eggplant dish. I don’t have the recipe anymore, so I tried Googling to find it, but no luck. Going on memory, here are the ingredients I assembled:

  • 1 eggplant
  • half a sweet onion
  • three cloves garlic
  • about 2-inch nodule of fresh ginger
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • one block of firm tofu (could have used TJ’s grilled chicken instead or in addition, but opted out of that this time)
  • soy sauce


First, pour olive oil in the pan or wok and add sugar, garlic, ginger and onion. Saute for about 5 mins.

Then include the other ingredients: eggplant, tofu, (chicken), red wine vinegar, soy sauce.

This just in…

Then simmer for about 20 mins.

20 mins. later

I paired it tonight with thin noodles – capellini (aka thin spaghetti). You can use rice, instead. You can also let it go solo as a side dish, or fill your plate for an entree portion.

Greetings from the plate!

You can eat it immediately. The aroma is hard to resist! However, it’s going to be twice as good after sitting for a few hours/over night, allowing the eggplant and tofu (or chicken) to absorb the garlic and ginger. Add more soy sauce or other seasonings to taste – and please share your findings!

Thank you, TJ’s

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @traderjoeskc

Related links:

Disney’s Ratatouille recipe

Eggplant and goat cheese lasagne

Healthy eggplant recipes

Trader Joe’s talks eggplant

Oh, my. Shu mai.

20 Apr

One of the first things I ate the first time I went to the Philippines was an order of steaming shu mai from a vendor in the Manila airport. It was about 5 a.m. The order was served on a small fluted paper tray, which made it more special, beautiful and exotic. Shu mai. It’s what’s for breakfast.

Trader Joe’s little box of shu mai takes me back to Manila.

TJ’s Chicken Shu Mai comes with a “tangy soy sauce packet,” but I like to make my own dipping sauce.

I recommend mixing some soy sauce and fresh squeezed lime juice. (Trader Joe’s sells a bag of limes at a reasonable price.) No chemicals or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

I hope you try the shu mai and that  it transports you to a happy memory, too. And pleases your guests at parties, if you must share.

Chicken Shu Mai

Thank you, TJ’s.

Related links:

What’s Good at Trader Joes? Shu Mai

Make your own Shu Mai from Just Bento – includes two recipes: one shrimp and one vegan

Tom Yam Soup. Verdict: Yum!

13 Jan

Classic Thai Tom Yum soup is one of my faves. I was skeptical that Trader Joe’s packaged version would satisfy, let alone come anywhere near the taste sensation of homemade TY.

I know, I know. “But this is TJ’s! Full of surprise and tasty bits!” But still…

Somehow the package you see below made it into my basket. I am a weak girl. And what happened next is witnessed below that in the bowl.

Verdict: YUM! OK…perhaps there’s a shade of pale versus a freshly made batch of soup, but I was pleased, satisfied and plan to enjoy again and probably again, and perhaps, no, definitely again. Recommended.

NOTE: They’re liberal with the lemongrass chunks. Next meal, I might explore ways to limit the annoyingly high lemongrass-chunk-per-bite ratio.

Gyoza dipping sauce

9 Dec

Thanks, again, to Lisa C. for submitting today’s TJ fave. This sauce goes with the Chicken Gyoza Potstickers like peanut butter goes with chocolate. Like milk goes with cookies. Like small nesting dolls go with larger nesting dolls. These two things just fit.

This sauce is the closest you’ll get to mixing fresh lime juice (check out TJ’s bag o’ limes) and soy sauce with none of the hand cramps from citrus squeezing and opening tightly closed bottles.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce

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