Trader Joe’s: Making Entertaining Easy

by | Jan 8, 2010 | Appetizers, Beef, Entertaining, Recipes

This is NOT a paid advertisement for Trader Joes, I just happen to love the place

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your town, you can take advantage of their already prepared or ready to heat and serve entrees, appetizers, and desserts to make entertaining easier and impress your guests. If you do use TJ’s convenience foods when you are entertaining, you can use the time that you’ve saved for cleaning, decorating, or to make one extra special homemade dish.

I serve a lot of Trader Joe’s foods at my parties and my guests have loved them all. One of the cashiers at Trader Joe’s told me that since she started working at TJ’s, invitations to parties have really increased and she believes it is due to the hosts knowing she will bring TJ’s appetizers.

Trader Joe’s frozen appetizers are excellent. Some of my guests’ favorites have been the chicken cilantro wontons that I served with TJ’s sweet chili sauce, the parmesan pastry pups (new this Christmas season), and the flatbread pizza with fresh basil pesto. The frozen meatballs are always a hit and I have served them in the TJ’s sweet chili sauce and other times have served them in the cranberry sauce for meatballs recipe from our cookbook. (See the recipe below or on page 61 in the cookbook.)

In the deli section you can find TJ’s fresh bruchetta. Among other things, this versatile sauce can be used as a dip, served on bread like traditional bruchetta, or over pasta. This sauce tastes great.

One of my favorites in the meat section is the cranberry apple stuffed turkey breast. I have served this at a few luncheons and my guests were very impressed with my cooking abilities.

Trader Joe’s has a good variety of frozen desserts and most of them just have to be thawed and they are ready to go. Some of the desserts are fairly small, so sometimes I will buy a few of them and display them on tiered plates or cake stands.

Besides great food, Trader Joe’s has a great floral section. I like to have fresh flowers and live plants around when I am entertaining and TJ’s is the place to get them. There are mixed floral bouquets and live plants, such as orchids. Besides being of very good quality, they are also very inexpensive.

Trader Joe’s has quite a following and there have been a few cookbooks written that feature the foods from Trader Joe’s. Some of the titles of these cookbooks are, The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook: More Than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Only Foods from the World’s Greatest Grocery StoreCooking with All ThingsTrader Joe’s, and Three Months at Trader Joe’s – A Lifestyle Odyssey. If you go to and do a search on Trader Joe’s, it’s pretty surprising to see the results. There is also a Trader Joe’s fan club. Here is the link to their website  You can also find the fan club on Facebook.

Trader Joe’s has a website where you can locate stores in your area, find recipes and locate products that are gluten free, vega, kosher, fat free, etc.  You can find Trader Joe’s website here:

As promised, here is the cranberry sauce for meatballs that you can use with Trader Joe’s meatballs or any meatballs for that matter.

~merry carter~

Cranberry Sauce for Meatballs

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Recipe submitted to the cookbook by Del Shult Neely


  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 (16-ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 dozen prepared meatballs


Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl; stir until smooth. In a large skillet, combine the cranberry sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the meatballs. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole, cover, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cover the dish and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the meatballs are warmed through. Serve warm.