Sunday, May 17, 2015

Egg Recipe Compilation

You'll never want for an egg recipe again after perusing the Cheap$kate Epicurean's latest blog post. You have a lot to choose from, like a filling Pasta alla Carbonara with egg yoke and crumbled browned bacon over spaghetti; or a baked omelet-like Frittata with pasilla chili, chorizo, potato and cheese.

And you can find any of the recipes from my food blog by clicking on it's name.

There's nothing better for lunch than a Egg Salad between two toasted slices of bread. An Egg Sandwich for breakfast is a quick and simple way to start any day.

Scrambled eggs come in many variations. Jewish delis have a couple of good ones that I've adapted. I get corned beef on sale during St. Patric's Day, so it's only natural to have some of it sauteed with eggs (even better is pastrami made from corned beef - my recipe is here.

Small packages and cans of salmon come cheaply and I like to add it to my Jewish Breakfast Scramble. And add a dollop of cream cheese and you have a lighter substitution for Lox and Cream Cheese Bagel. Try it sometime, I know you will like it, too.

Booze and eggs go together, especially if your making my Homemade Eggnog. This video recipe is one of my holiday favorites. You won't believe your eyes when you see my intoxicated antics after imbibing on an eggnog too many. Be sure to watch this recipe video all the way to the end!

One of my earliest published recipes is also one of the most quick and easy to make: Scrambled Eggs and Sundried Tomatoes. I like to keep a jar of pungent dried tomatoes in herbs and oil in the refrigerator, right next to my carton of eggs. For a non-oil, lighter version, use plain dried tomatoes in a plastic pouch, too (this is what my wife uses.)

Another early recipe of mine is a silly Devilish Deviled Eggs I made one Halloween. Fun and tasty.

Eggs make a great binder for my sister Denise's Veggie Eggplant Burgers. (You should make sure to check out the video we made that features a wacky shopping spree in my local 99c only Store.) And you want to add a scrambled egg or two when you make my cheap$kate version of Chinese Fried Rice.

Ever make Crepes Suzette? There's not much too it really, just eggs, flour, milk and to quote Julia Child's nephew: "lots of butter." Who's is the famed chef's nephew anyway? Well, just watch the video to see this outrageous character shopping in the Hollywood Farmer's Market -- then moving on to the kitchen to show you how to make a tender and delicate pancake-like dessert.

 Do you have a package of frozen veggies in the freezer accumulating frost, and a crisper drawer full of veggies that are close to being thrown out? Well, just rinse off the frozen veggies and slice off the brown spots from the bell pepper and onion to make my colorful Veggie Frittata. For this photo story recipe I ran out of eggs, but my neighbor Nuno was kind enough to lend me a few. (How's that for a cheap$kate move, free eggs!)

If you have a small patio garden then I have a couple of nutritious recipes to use the fresh picked bounty. An easy veggie to grow is bright green Swiss Chard. Just saute it for a couple of minutes and add it to your favorite omelet recipe, my recipe is here.

Every time I change out the dirt from my teeny garden, seeds sprout willy-nlly. Often it's some kind of squash, that never bears fruit. Oh well, that's okay because the flowers make a great Squash Blossom Omelet.

I grew up in the South and was raised on Mexican food for a while. Almost everyone in Texas has tried Migas, which are tortilla pieces scrambled in eggs. And, you can't get simpler than having Refried Beans and Eggs. I didn't think I would like this meal at first, but learned that scrambled eggs elevate any humble ingredient!

Refried Pinto Beans & Scrambled Eggs

I get all types of Mexian chorizo at my local 99c only Store, including: beef, pork and soy (vegetarian.) Mexican chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo, mainly it's the texture. Spanish chorizo is hard like salami and Mexican chorizo is soft like ground meat. It's a pungent and flavorful protein that mixes well for Chorizo and Scrambled Eggs. And use it to stuff a Breakfast Taco or Breakfast Burrito.

Click to magnify.

Huevos Rancheros are the Eggs Benedict of Mexican cuisine. A corn tortilla with refried beans and a fried egg that's topped with crumbled queso fresco (cheese,) and your favorite salsa, is a decadent and filling way to start the day. Make a batch of this your family sometime, it's quite easy to do when you follow this cheap$kate's recipe.

You can top any of my Mexican breakfast entrees with a favorite jarred salsa or go here to see my list of Homemade Salsa Recipes, with links, that include:  Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo,) Red Chili (2 dried types - but same recipe,) Pico de Gallo and Mango.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Looking to impress an overnight guest, then serve them my recipe for Eggs Florentine for breakfast. This creamy spinach and egg dish will keep any afterglow going. And if that doesn't work then I have a sensuous Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus.

I like a challenge. A favorite breakfast fast food is the classic Egg McMuffin. It's not as cheap as it used to be, so I figured out how to make my own cheaper version. And I share it with you in this homemade video recipe.

And for an extra hardy breakfast be sure to add my Old School Hash Browns to the menu.

If you are flush with cash and your ship has come in, then make like a bonus bloated Wall Street con artist and serve up my Billionaire's Crab Omelet. (I even give you a cheap$kate shortcut, just in case the stock market crashes, your government bailout  is rejected, and all your chips have been cashed in.)

And for my latest egg recipe video I made a classic French-style Cheese Omelette. What's the difference between it and the ones you get at a typical American diner? Well, it all about technique, mainly you just soft scramble the eggs in butter, add the cheese and gently roll the egg to close up the omelette. Most American-style omelets are cooked dry, while a French omelette is slightly moist in the middle. It's a different way to cook an omelette, but I've grown to like it.

And finally if your looking for a bit of levity, well, I have an early morning fried egg comedy video to brighten your day, here.

Whew, that's a lot of egg recipes, I'm exhausted. You've just scrolled through 7 years of egg recipes from my food blog.

And if you want even more egg facts then click here to view a fun video.

Cooking with eggs is cheap. While not as inexpensive as they used to be, it's still an affordable way to start the day, especially when you use any of my creative and tasty recipes listed above.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Buttery Brussels Sprouts & Pasta

Butter's back! Sure why not. Used judiciously, it's a good fat (click here to read about benefits and here, too.) At least you know where it comes from, unlike margarine.

When Brussels sprouts are cooked they take on a slight nutty flavor and they do taste like cabbage. I was not a fan of them as a kid, but I love them now. I'm sure my recipe of Buttery Brussels Sprouts & Pasta will please anyone in your family.

And any veggie tastes even better sauteed in butter. When fresh cooked pasta is mixed in you have a hearty meal that comes together very quickly.

Just get a pot of water going for the pasta, and by the time it's done, the buttery sauteing Brussels sprouts should be ready. The whole meal only takes about 10 minutes to do.

 I slice each Brussels sprout in halve to cook quicker, plus that's more surface for butter to coat. Packaged Brussels sprouts contain various sizes, so if you get some extra small ones go ahead and saute them whole. Most are in the 2 inch tall range.

They take almost no prep, just slice of the brown stem end and remove any yellow leaves.

And 10 ounce bags of Brussels sprouts are still showing up at my local 99c only Store, so I'll keep coming up with recipes for this tasty mini-cabbage - make sure to come back for more.

Butter is not as cheap as it used to be. I get mine from the 99c only Store. It's over my price point, but you get 2 sticks per package, and I seldom use more than a tablespoon at a time. So, it's still a good value purchase.

Dried pasta is always cheap. I used spaghetti, but you can use any type you have on hand.

If you are butter averse, or vegan, then it's okay to substitute with a favorite flavorful cooking oil (like coconut) or extra virgin olive oil. It all about lusciousness. And if you don't care for Brussels sprouts (or they are too hard to find and expensive) then try florets of broccoli or cauliflower. Just about any veggie will do, like: carrot, squash, spinach and green beans.

I'm bringing butter back into my life, but not too much, just enough to make tasty dishes like Buttery Brussels Sprouts & Pasta

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • Brussels sprouts - I used a 10 ounce package.
  • Pasta - I used about 1/2 package of spaghetti. It's okay to use any favorite pasta. If you like a lot of pasta then add  more (add another tablespoon or two of butter, though.)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of butter - I used salted butter. Okay to use sweet butter. You can substitute any favorite cooking oil or olive oil, to keep recipe vegan.
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic - optional. I use chopped garlic from the jar.
  • Black pepper to taste - no salt necessary if salted butter is used. For sweet butter, then salt to taste.
  • Water - to boil pasta. Reserve a 1/4 cup to add when all the ingredients are finally mixed together.
  • Parmesan cheese - optional. Fresh shaved or dried from a container (it's cheaper.)

Start a pot of water to boil for pasta. Prepare pasta according to package directions (I usually shave off a minute of cooking time for al dente.) While water heats up you can start prepping and cooking the Brussels sprouts.

Rinse off Brussels sprouts, if necessary. Next, slice off the tough stem ends of each Brussels sprout. Make a very thin slice, no need to take off too much. Remove any yellow leaves. If some green leaves detach, just add them to the pan too.

Slice Brussels sprouts in half, lengthwise. If the sprouts are small then you can leave them whole. The package I bought each sprout was about 2 inches tall.

Add butter to a medium heated pan. Once it melts add the Brussels sprouts and any loose green leaves. Each side needs about 2-3 minutes of cooking time. They will tenderize and get softer.

Once they are done then add a teaspoon of chopped garlic (optional.) Stir and saute one minute.

If pasta is not done yet, then turn the sauteing Brussels sprouts pan heat to low, until the pasta is ready.

Now time to bring it all together. I take out the cooked pasta right from the boiling water. (Of course, try a spaghetti strand to make sure it's done to you liking.) Next, add a 1/4 cup of pasta water. Pasta tends to dry out as it cools down, so a little pasta water keeps the pasta moist, and stretches out the butter sauce.

Mix the pasta and Brussels sprouts together. Serve hot and with parmesan cheese (optional.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shrimp & Angel Hair Pasta - Deal of the Day

For once the cover photo is not an exaggeration. My latest Deal of the Day is off to a great start!

See the plump shrimp, they're really inside the box. While not large shrimp, they're so much better than typical teeny bay shrimp used in frozen seafood fare. Shrimp & Angel Hair Pasta by Lean Cuisine is not a perfect meal, but pretty darn close.

And I'm glad the shrimp are frozen raw. They have a great texture when fresh cooked firm. 

I got a few boxes of Shrimp & Angel Hair Pasta by Lean Cuisine at my local 99c only Store. I was nervous when examining the crinkled and crumbled packages they had in the frozen deli case. But, when I was at work the next day and opened the box, the cellophane was still sealed on the black microwave bowl. So all was well with this steal of a deal.

Click on photo to read ingredient list.

The best parts of this cheap meal are the shrimp. I got 5 nice sized ones, peeled and deveined. They are raw, so you need to turn them halfway through microwaving to cook all the way through. Look for a pink color, that's means they are done.

If you like bell pepper there is plenty here, and it doesn't take much to overpower an entree. The amount in this meal skates right up to the edge for me. There are also welcome matchstick slices of carrot, and not too well done. I like some crunchy veggies in my pasta.

The pasta is peppered with fine chopped herbs, but what they are is a mystery, as there is no mention in the ingredient list. -- kinda strange.

The weakest link is the too light and watery cream sauce. It's mainly flavored with skim milk, cheese, garlic and sherry wine. Now I enjoyed the sauce, I just wish it was a little richer with cream, but that's to be expected when an entree is made by Lean Cuisine. But this is a quibble.

The angel hair pasta is fine. A bit overcooked, but I know it's difficult to microwave cooked pasta. It can easily become mushy if steamed too long, especially thin angel hair. The pasta strands were chopped - I like my noodles left long. But the pasta mixes well with all the shrimp, veggies and sauce.

So how does Shrimp & Angel Hair Pasta by Lean Cuisine rate on my cheaps$kate scale of 1-9, 9 being best? Even with a couple of small flaws, this Deal of the Day still gets a perfect 9!

If you are lucky enough to run across this small and tasty entree, make sure to pick up a few packages. Even for low calorie fare, I can highly recommend it for taste and quality cooking.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chicken Parmesan - Video Recipe

You'll want to put on a Dean Martin ditty while cooking my take on an Italian classic: Chicken Parmesan. You're dinner guest will applaud wildly when you serve a plate of pasta in Marinara Sauce that's topped with a cutlet of crispy coated chicken and melted mozzarella cheese. Why don't you go all the way and croon a tune when you serve it, like an old-school Italian waiter. And don't forget to put out a straw-wrapped jug of Chianti!

When I cook a classic entree, you know I'm bound to stray and give you some tasty cheap$kate shortcuts and recipe improvements(?) My Chicken Parmesan recipe video below does all that.

Italian-style Chicken Parmesan is a sauteed, breaded chicken fillet that's covered in Marinara Sauce and topped with parmesan and mozzarella cheese, then baked. It's decadent and delicious.

This is a two part recipe. First you make a Marinara Sauce with tomato, onion, garlic and herbs. Of course, you can take a shortcut and use any favorite jars or cans of store-bought pasta sauce.

Secondly, you coat a boneless and skinless chicken fillet in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and saute it until golden brown. Then you move the cooked chicken into a baking pan and add the Marinara Sauce and cheeses, and bake until piping hot. There's a small amount of assembly to do, but it's well worth it.

This is where I veer off course. For cheapness sake I use dark meat. Normally the recipe calls for white breast meat. But, the main difference in preparation is I don't pound thin the chicken fillet. I find that if you want a crispy brown coating and moist chicken, then a thin slice of breast meat will dry out too easily.

It's a problem I find when ordering Tonkatsu (breaded chicken or pork cutlets) at a Japanese restaurant, or Mexican Torta Milanese sandwiches (flour-coated thin sliced beef or chicken) - dry and chewy overcooked meat. I mean it's okay, but not something I order often. I guess it's a cheap way to make a small cut of meat look larger?

Now, I'm all for tradition, but this one doesn't fly with me. Why not just leave the chicken fillet alone - it will stay moist when thick, and especially so, when dark meat is used. Of course you can use white meat, as it's easier to remove from the bone. (And, if you want to pound the chicken fillet between sheets of plastic, then go for it.)

I guess if you flash-fry a pounded-thin breaded piece of meat then it may remain moist, but it becomes easier to burn the coating over a very high heat, and you have to watch it too closely. So I like to keep things easy and simple. 

The one thing you may not have on hand is breadcrumbs. You only need a cup and you can cover 3 pieces with this recipe. I always find a container of breadcrumbs at my local 99c only Stores. They even sometimes carry expensive Panko. You can use any you find cheaply, or make your own. Just scroll down to Hindsight, at the end of this post, for my Homemade Breadcrumbs recipe.

Chicken is cheap out here is Los Angeles, especially in Latin grocery stores. Boneless and skinless dark meat is often on sale there, and even white meat with the skin and bone is around a dollar per pound on sale.

I also include an easy to make Marinara Sauce recipe in my video using canned tomato as the base. Of course, canned tomatoes are cheap almost anywhere. You can use any you find on sale. If they are whole tomatoes, then break them up when cooking - you'll have a "rustic" Marinara Sauce.

I also use fresh garden herbs, but you can substitute dried Italian herbs. You can even buy your favorite premade sauce and just use that. (My Easy Marinara Sauce recipe is a stand-alone video blog post you can checkout here - use it with any favorite pasta recipe.)

And this recipe is wife approved. I turned my back for a minute and one of my finished Chicken Parmesan went missing! Oh well, that's why I made three breaded cutlets for this recipe.

Do give my recipe a try. It's luscious with melted cheese and a rich tomato sauce. Go ahead and serve it with your favorite pasta and extra leftover Marinara Sauce, it's one filling Italian entree, that's cheap to do, if you do it my way.

Chicken Parmesan  - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 6 minutes, 7 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Breaded Chicken Ingredients -3 servings
3 pieces chicken - skinless and boneless. I used leg and thigh meat. Okay to use white meat. Usually recipe calls for chicken breast that is pounded flat. I find it dries out too easily, so I skip the "flattening" part.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup bread crumbs - my homemade breadcrumb recipe is down below under "Hindsight."
1 egg - mixed with a fork or whisk.
3 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese - dried or fresh shaved. You can use as much as you like.
3 ounces of Mozzarella Cheese - add more to your liking. I used a small package of shredded.
1/2 teaspoon black pepper - to season breadcrumbs. Okay to add any favorite seasonings or dried herbs. I don't use salt in this recipes, as I find the cheeses have enough for me.
Oil for sauteing breaded chicken pieces - I add a couple of tablespoons per chicken piece. Add more as needed.

Marinara Sauce Ingredients
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce - any favorite brand, even from a jar.
1/2 onion - chopped. White or yellow is okay.
1 teaspoon garlic - chopped fresh or from a jar.
1 cup water - to clean out the tomato can, and add it to sauce. Okay to use red or white wine, or a favorite broth.
Italian herbs - about 1 teaspoon dried, or 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped. I used basil, oregano and parsley. Okay to use a dried herb Italian premix, or any combination of dried herbs you have on hand.
1 tablespoon oil - for frying onion and garlic.
Pepper to taste - Canned tomato sauce has a lot of salt, so I don't add any, but you can add some if you want.

Directions for Marinara Sauce
I start this recipe with a Marinara Sauce. I used a plain can of tomato sauce and added some sauteed onion, garlic and herbs. Here's how I did it.(You can use any store bought type you like as a short cut -- if you do, go right to my Breading Chicken directions further below.)

First saute 1/2 chopped onion in a tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and saute another minute.

Pour in a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce. Slosh around half a can of water (broth or wine) and add it to the pan with sauce and sauteed veggies. Mix well and finally add the herbs, fresh or dried.

Cook tomato sauce on low, while you are frying up the breaded chicken pieces. You just need to cook the pasta sauce for another 10 minutes, so all the flavors combine. This basic Marinara Sauce can used for any pasta recipe, or pizza topping.

Directions for Breading Chicken (3 pieces)
This is where my recipe veers off from others. Typical Chicken Parmesan recipes take a chicken breast and pound it thin. While this is traditional, you often end up with a dried out piece of breaded chicken.

As I mentioned above, the main problem is browning the coated chicken thin pieces. To get a golden brown breaded chicken you have to overcook it.

For my recipe I just leave the boneless and skinless pieces alone. They may be thick, but at least they will end up moist on the serving plate. (Of course, you can place the chicken pieces between plastic wrap and pound them a little thinner.)

Let's move on to the breaded chicken part.

You want to have 2 plates, one for the flour and the other for breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on black pepper or any favorite seasonings into the breadcrumbs.

In a shallow bowl add one egg and beat it with a fork, or a whisk, to blend it.

First coat a chicken piece in flour, both sides. Add coated chicken to egg wash and coat it again. Finally press chicken into breadcrumbs. Turn over and press on more breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Add cooking oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat. Depending on your frying pan size you can saute each coated chicken piece separately or bunch up a few pieces.

You need at least 2 tablespoons of oil per chicken piece - add more oil as needed, during frying process. Make sure the pan is hot when you add the chicken, or the breading may stick to the pan.

Add coated chicken to a medium hot pan. Let it set there for a minute so cooked shell forms underneath chicken. After a minute or so you can start checking to see how browning is going. It takes about 3-5 minutes on each side, for chicken to brown nicely and the meat to cook through.

When done set aside each  fillet. (Make a small slice into thickest part of cooked chicken to make sure there is no pink meat or pink juices.) I put cooked pieces on a wire rack; I find napkins get too damp and make the cooked crust soggy. After the chicken pieces are done, it's time to bring it all together.

(If you want some pasta with the Chicken Parmesan, then get it going when you start frying the last coated chicken piece. Follow package directions. Set aside pasta when done. You can serve it with some leftover Marinara Sauce.)

The Marinara Sauce should be room temperature or hot when assembling Chicken Parmesan.

First, move fried chicken to a baking dish. Top each piece with some Marinara Sauce. You can add as little, or as much, as you like. I add just enough to cover each chicken piece. (Any extra sauce can be added to the plate later or used as pasta topping.)

Now add the parmesan and mozzarella cheese to each chicken piece. Add as much cheese, as you like -- you can also add extra Marinara Sauce.

Add baking dish of Chicken Parmesan to a 375 degree oven. You just need to bake the chicken until the cheese melts. I baked mine for about 10-15 minutes.

It's ready when Chicken Parmesan cheese topping is melted. You can serve Chicken Parmesan with your favorite pasta and leftover Marinara Sauce.

To make your own dried breadcrumbs, bake a few slices of white or wheat bread in a 350 degree oven for about 15 - 20 minutes until dried out. Check during the last five minutes to make sure the bread does not burn. Turn the bread slice over, half way through baking.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes; then add to a blender or food processor. (Or place in a plastic bag and crumble with a rolling pin, wine bottle or large glass). Pulse slices until fine like sea salt. Leftover bread crumbs store in the refrigerator for a long time. May need to microwave for a minute when reusing, or give them a quick saute in a warm pan.

For extra flavor season the bread slices with salt, pepper, dried parmesan, and any favorite fresh or dried herbs.

And, here's a Dean Martin a crooning "That's Amore"
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