Monday, August 10, 2020

On The Road - Driving & Eating

 Can't say I'm into airline travel these days, but a 4 wheel road trip is always welcome for a change of scenery. And boy do I have some scenery to show you, Do keep checking back for our wacky and tasty road stories that include awe-inspiring photos of Arches and Zion National Park, wacky truck stop finds like Scorpion Candy Suckers, and an alien abduction!!

,My girlfriend's brother and family live about 13 hours away in Colorado so we had a few stops along the way for gas and food. Of course, we wore masks and tried to keep our distance. Most people we met on the road did the same. 


We took our time and made an overnight stop after 5 or 6 hours. One memorable one was in Springdale, Utah, beneath mountain shadows of Zion National Park. 

We stayed in Pioneer Lodge that supplied plenty of coffee and a huge Croissant Breakfast Sandwich for the road. A nice place but a bit steep in price -- we had other overnights that were a lot cheaper, so it all balances out in the end.

Now the tricky part of eating on the road is eating & driving. The Breakfast Sandwich is best eating warm so here is my solution to that, just watch below to see how I do it.






So do check back for more of our adventures On The Road.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Hot Dogs of Summer - Relish Dog with Mustard

It's summertime and the time is right for Hot Dogs. My Hot Dog Series covers all the greatest hits including Kraut DogMustard & Relish DogChili Dog, plus the killer combos of Kraut & Chili Dog, Slaw & Chili Dog, and Relish & Chili Dog. Now that's a mouthful and they are all cheap of course. So keep checking back here for all the yummy recipes served with tasty text and scrumptious photos!


Okay let's be frank, anyone can make these, and maybe this Series is just a celebration of  America's favorite frankfurter or a reminder of the joys of dining simply.

Click on any photo to see larger.


A Relish Dog with Mustard is the easiest to make. The only work is opening a tight pickle relish lid. I often have to use a bottle opener to break the seal -- as it's often too hard to just twist off. 


And you can't get much cheaper than a Hot Dog with Relish. I can always find Pickle Relish for a buck  at my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.


Now, do you like sweet or unsweetened Dill Pickle Relish? I lean to the sweetened version as a contrast to sour mustard. 

They're all kinds of mustard to choose, everything from classic yellow to Grey Poupon Dijon, and spicy to extra-sour seed popping stoneground. I feel lucky to have all these types again at my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree. And what's great about mustard it lasts almost forever stored in the fridge.


This may seem nit-picky but I like my mustard against the tube steak, not the bun, and finally topped with relish. Of course, any order of condiment to bun and wiener will work.

So check out my video below to see how I do it, from steaming weenie to squirting mustard!



These days it easy to make vegan versions using tofu dogs and vegan chili, so everyone can join in summertime patio Hot Dog partying.

 And the main ingredients of a Hot Dog are cheap of course, but that's not the only reason to like them. They are just a satisfying combination of flavors that you can build any way you like.

A package of Hot Dog Buns for about a buck? Check. I prefer regular white flour buns, but I often find whole wheat bun on sale too -- it's all good.


Meaty tube steak for a buck? If you know where to look and don't mind if they are a mix of beef, chicken, and pork. I always find them on sale at my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.



I mean, there is a texture taste difference - I find the typically mixed meat wieners a bit softer when you bite into them and with a milder meaty taste, while an all-beef wiener has more snap and thicker texture and an intense beef flavor. Depending on how my pocketbook is feeling I can work with any type of Hot Dog wieners.


Do you like your weenies steamed, sauteed, or grilled? I find it easiest to just steam mine in a pot with a basket and covered until they are hot and plump. This way you can walk away and get all the fixing ready while they cook - when you steam them you don't have to worry about burnt weenies.


How about the Hot Dog Buns? Well, at the last minute I will throw in a couple of buns on top of my steaming wieners, cover and give them a minute to soften. This works especially well if the buns are old and hard.


You do have to watch steaming buns as they can become soggy, although you can always let a soggy bun dry out for a couple of minutes if necessary.

 If I am barbequing then I will grill the wieners and add the buns at the finish line - same with sauteing in a frying pan on a stovetop.

I like Hot Dogs dress simply with mustard and sweet or sour pickle relish. I always can find jars for a buck.



So, how do you like to make yours? Leave a comment and let's compare wiener...recipes. Ha, ha, I couldn't resist. And check back for more simply delicious and cheap Hot Dogs. So load up the steamer basket or fire up the grill and get to cooking one of my yummy Hot Dog recipes.

Friday, July 31, 2020

National Avocado Day - Recipe Videos

God, how I love avocados. My last bite on earth would be a simple slice of creamy Haas avocado.

This is a most delicious blog post you will want to bookmark for future viewing. And click on any recipe name to see all the original recipe photos and text.

July 31 is National Avocado Day and I have a ripe basketful of recipes for you to use this most luscious and rich fruit.


The creamiest and richest Avocado, the Haas, was first grafted from a single tree here in La Habra Heights in Los Angeles County almost 100 years ago. Read about the origin story here, And if you need a reminder on how to tell when an avocado is ripe, just click here.

The simplest and most tasty Avocado recipe is for Avocado Toast. Just mash a ripe Avocado, season with salt and pepper then spread it on warm toast. Use a tasty fresh-baked slice of bread if have a local bakery or farmers market. But a nice nutty whole-grain grocery store brand is fine.



Here in Los Angeles, Avocado prices are all over the map, from a buck and a half for a large one, to six small ones for 99 cents! If you keep an eye on seasonal sales you might find them for bargain prices too.



I like to start the day with this green bauble of deliciousness sliced and tucked into a cheesy Omelet. This is too much of a good thing but what the heck.



I like a fresh and creamy slice Avocado on my taco, how about you? And all my yummy Taco Recipes are a click away, here.


If you have a local Latin market in the hood then this next recipe is for you. Plus this recipe is a real dollar stretcher. Avocado Crema is a mix of Mexican Crema and mashed Avocado.


Mexican Crema is similar to sour cream (okay to use sour cream instead,) just sweeter. Use this recipe at your next Taco Party and serve it with chips, and top a taco or burrito -- so good.


If you have a favorite cold salad then add a chopped Avocado for a rich addition. I like Macaroni Salad mixed with mayo, krab, and Avocado brings it over the top.


For these immigrant-bashing days, I have a Cesar Chavez Salad made with funky anchovies and illegal Mexican-immigrant-picked Romain lettuce with, of course, Avocado from Mexico.


The sushi California Roll was invented here and boy does the rest of the country owe California a big thanks. Even hardcore sushi connoisseurs will pick up a pre-made package in the deli section of a local grocery chain store. Check out my video below and see how easy a California Roll is to make.



You can't do a better sandwich than a BLT, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich. Oh, wait, I take that back - you can do better with the addition of Avocado, of course. Okay, now go and make yourself a BLT+A Sammie.



I discovered Cuban cuisine here in Los Angeles. And I like to start my restaurant meal with a Cuban Salad, comprised of Avocado, tomato, sliced onion and radishes, and mixed with vinegar and oil. Very simple but a great contrast to typical heavy and rich Cuban Roast Pork.



For the dog days of summer, nothing is better than a cool Ceviche. There is nothing to cook, just drain a can of beans and mix in shredded krab, chopped onion, jalapeƱo, tomato and of course, Avocado.

Chill it then get out the tortilla chips and park yourself under a cool shady tree with a frosty mug of beer or your fave cold beverage and watch the world go by.

I can eat Avocados morning, noon and night and you can too if you hang out at the 99 Cent Chef's food blog.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Tomato Season Recipes

Here are my first tomatoes of the season - right off the vine. I like to serve them uncooked when the tomatoes are at the maximum freshness and most juicy. This is when you taste all the flavor a tomato has to offer.


This cheap$kate gardener seldom has a bumper crop, but the ones I pick will be put to delicious use. If you don't have a garden, maybe you have a generous neighbor, a local fave farmers market, or if you are on the road and just pull over into a roadside veggie and fruit stand with a hand-painted tomato sign.

So read on for the freshest tomato recipes that are just a slice away. And click on any recipe name to be directed to my blog post for the complete recipe text with photo illustrations.


For a fresh garden tomato just simply slice it and add a couple more ingredients. My favorite recipe is for a Caprese Salad that's composed of fresh mozzarella, a few basil leaves, salt, olive oil, and of course, thick slices of fresh tomato.


Arrange the parts on a plate and serve at room temperature. Set out a plate for your guests, and be sure to have a couple bottles of wine ready to pour.

I find heirloom tomatoes at my local 99c only Stores from time to time and they are usually the real thing, too.


And summertime is the right time for a chilly tomato soup by way of Spain called Gazspacho. It is a great way to start a patio party, just set out a bowl and let your guest serve themselves while you man the grill.


Gazsphacho is a tasty medley of fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, onion, and cucumber. It gets a rich hit of olive oil to finish in the blender. No cooking needed for this recipe and you can see how easy to pull off below.



An Italian version of salsa on tortilla chips, are lightly marinated chopped tomatoes served on wedges of toast, that's called Bruschetta. Serve it as a crunchy appetizer.



Salads and large chunks of sliced homegrown tomatoes belong together. Go light on the salad dressing though, because you want that fresh tomato flavor to come through clearly.

Warm Corn, Tomato & Cilantro Salad is a simple side dish to make. It's okay to use always cheap, fresh, frozen, or even canned corn.


I have a 2 Minute Salad made with easy-to-get ingredients, including canned chicken (okay to substitute canned tuna,) spinach, canned beets, and tomato.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

This cheap$kate salad travels well and can be quickly put together for lunch at your workplace.



My most unusual salad uses canned hearts of palm. I came up with Hearts of Palm Salad - Brazilian Style because I keep seeing the mild-tasting main ingredients on sale at my local 99c only Stores. If you have never tried heart of palm, then break yourself in with this fresh salad idea.



Another salad takes the crown for Best Classic Salad, my version of a Crab Louis Salad. While expensive ingredients are called for, I have found asparagus frequently on sale, and I use cheap fake crab, or krab.



Of course, if you are cooking to impress then use real lump crab meat.


Sauteed sliced steak, or feta cheese, on a salad needs a strong flavored tomato, and a garden tomato is up for the job in my Warm Steak and Armenian-Style salads, that features pungent feta cheese.



Italian pasta sauces will not be much improved upon with a fresh garden tomato. However, the exception is my Rustic Tomato Sauce with Pasta. The fresh tomato is added at the last minute and only cooked until it starts to collapse, but still at peak flavor.


A big fat tomato slice is what every sandwich requires, at least in my recipe book. I like tomato on my Breakfast Egg Sandwich, and even a wedge of tomato nestled in my Chicago-style Hot Dog.



For a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich, you gotta have a good tomato. I kick my BLT up a notch with the addition of avocado.


For my vegetarian visitors add tomato to my delish grilled Portabella Mushroom Burger, or a Veggie Wrap with Hummus.



 Veggie Wrap with Hummus - ingredients

Mexican cuisine loves the tomato. And the freshest way to use it is chopped into a chunky Pico de Gallo salsa. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips, or add this salsa to most any Mexican entree like: burritos comprised of Carnitas (pork,) Carne Asada (steak,) Eggs & Refried BeansPastrami & Coleslaw (?!!) -- and tacos made with: FishCarne AsadaCarnitasPoultryBreakfastTinga (spicy chicken stew,) Chicken Green Chile Verde, and Chorizo & Egg,  

Pico de Gallo - chunky salsa

Summer Ceviche made with krab, drained black beans, cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro, and creamy avocado is my go-to patio party starter. Set out a big bowl of chips to scoop up my cool Krab Ceviche. And be sure to have some Picante hot sauce at the ready.
Summer Ceviche - Video


I'll leave you with a bit of cheap$kate comedy about my video visit to a local garden nursery for free noshing on fruit picked fresh from the vine, including a beefsteak tomato. Bon appetit !



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