Review: Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s

Posted by Edible TV ( on June 12, 2008.
Trader Joe's cookbookIn 1967 the small local chain of convenience stores known as Pronto Markets changed their name and in so doing became the model grocery store of the new millennium. The new name? Trader Joe’s, of course. Today there are over 280 stores in 23 states that feature the best for less. Sure, lots of people claim that, but Joe’s actually pulls it off.

In 2008 two college friends combined their international backgrounds, love of great food, and need to feed busy families to produce a collection of recipes using the many amazing prepared foods to be found in Trader Joe’s Grocery Stores.

Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati created Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s (Brown Bag Publishers, LLC) because as they say, “Time and time again, as we shopped the aisles at Trader Joe’s, we overheard people saying, What do you do with quinoa? How do you use tapenade? What goes well with ricotta-stuffed chicken? Before we knew it, we were writing a cookbook.

“Through necessity, as our lives became more hectic juggling kids and full-time jobs, we discovered ways to become fast and efficient cooks. Rather than resort to fast-food or frozen dinners, we found that if we used a little help with prepped ingredients at Trader Joe’s, suddenly it became completely doable to still feed our families healthy, homemade meals every day.”

“What I love most about this cookbook is that every recipe can be made with ingredients that are available at Trader Joe’s,” says Miniati. “As a mom of two young kids, I don’t have the time to shop at multiple grocery stores. We specifically wrote each recipe using ingredients Trader Joe’s carries, from specialty sauces like Trader Ming’s Soyaki to staples like milk, flour, and spices.

“So this cookbook is a great time-saver, not only because the recipes themselves are easy and fast, but also because you only have to shop at one place to make these fabulous meals.”

Fans of Trader Joe’s rejoice for Dunn and Miniati have conjured their own book of magic. And the two are not done, either, they are already working on the next edition and plan to publish new recipes regularly, showcasing new items as they appear.

I thumbed the recipes in the book and found their variations on one of my favorite soups, Black Bean. The soup was dark and exotic . . . just the way I like it. Try it yourself, then go buy the book.

Black Bean Soup

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped, or 2 cups bagged Freshly Diced Onion
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 clove crushed garlic, or 1 tsp jarred Crushed Garlic
  • 2 (15-oz) cans Organic Black Beans (do not drain)
  • 1 cup (half a jar) Chunky Salsa
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • Plain yogurt, such as Plain Cream Line Yogurt, or sour cream

In a medium pot, sauté onions in olive oil until they are soft and translucent.

Sprinkle in cumin and garlic and sauté for a minute; pour in black beans (including juices), salsa, and lime. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt. Chili and Lime Tortilla Chips or other white corn tortilla chips go nicely on the side.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Hands-off Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Photo courtesy of

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
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