This cookbook has a copyright of 2008. I don't know where I got this book. I have never cooked from this before.
I'm not sure what I expected from this book but it was more than the book delivered. If you're like me, you wander the isles of your local Trader Joe's looking at all the cool food, wondering what interesting dishes to make. I'm not talking about simple stuff, like steaming fresh vegetables or grilling the pre-marinated meat. I'm talking about taking that meat and maybe making some sort of tacos with some jarred sauce that they also sell. Or taking that bag of cut up butternut squash and making a stew or some sort of gratin...something a little more outside the box or incorporating more of Trader Joes products.
Though there are quite a few recipes that provide that "out of the box" idea, there are just as many that don't. Honey Mustard Chicken takes chicken breasts and adds some fresh basil and some spices. I could make that with ingredients found at any local grocery store. How about taking that Trader Joe's chicken and putting it in a jar of Trader Joes Piccata Simmer Sauce with maybe something else Trader Joe's sells? Alas, my problem was I didn't read "The Full Story" which is a few paragraphs at the start of the book. It talks about using Trader Joe's as your own prep crew...to buy pre-prepped ingredients to make cooking from "scratch" easier and quicker along with using Trader Joe's products.
There are several pages at the start of the book that deal with how they came to write the book, info about Trader Joe's and the food they sell, Conversions and a few pages on their favorite things (condiments, utensils and cookware). Basic chapters along with a "Bachelor Quickies" chapter (heat and serve menus). There is a six page list of Trader Joe's locations that is already out of date. Recipes seem pretty straight forward, no really out there ingredients (except maybe some of the strange things TJ's sells), easy to follow. Each recipe has a full page photo. Recipes list prep and cooking time.
The cookbook isn't a bad one, it's just that my expectations were a bit different. I didn't want recipes for how to use a package of brussels sprouts (Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts...other TJ ingredient is their Free Range Chicken Broth) or to use a roasting chicken (Garlic & Herb Chicken Roast...other TJ ingredient is their package of Poultry Blend). The recipes that caught my eye were recipes like Stuffed Red Peppers (which used a package of TJ's Parmesan Crisps, their refrigerated Bruschetta Sauce and some of their Shredded Three Cheese Blend), Asian Dumpling Soup (which uses their frozen Thai Shrimp Gyoza and their refrigerated Stir Fry Vegetables), Spinach Ricotta Calzone (a bag of TJ's Ready to Bake Pizza Dough, their Grilled Artichoke and Parmesan Dip and their Fresh Ricotta cheese), Chicken Marsala Casserole (TJ's refrigerated Cheese Tortellini, a container of their charbroiled cooked chicken Just Chicken and a jar of their Marsala Sauce).
I did have to smile because one of the recipes in the book, Yogurt Parfait, is pretty much the recipe I came up with for the Starbucks Yogurt Parfait's.
A few things to note. Items sold at Trader Joe's in California aren't necessarily the same items sold in a Trader Joe's in New York. And the availability of items can vary widely from one month to the next. So a cookbook that uses items that might be seasonal or come around once a month or might not be located in a TJ's near you makes the cookbook that I envisioned difficult to do. This cookbook has not been endorsed by Trader Joe's in part because of these availability problems. There is a second cookbook using ingredients from Trader Joe's (I Love Trader Joes Cookbook) which I do not own.