Thursday, December 1, 2016

Turkey Meatballs - Deal of the Day

This solid Deal of the Day is quite tasty for frozen fare. Turkey Meatballs by Villa Roma come about a dozen per package and weighs in at one pound - that's a lot of bang for a buck.


It's way below what you would pay for fresh ground turkey, and my latest 99c only Store find is ready to eat after a few minutes in the microwave, or heated through in a pasta sauce.

Click on any photo to see larger.

I zapped a couple meatballs to just taste on their own.


While the meatballs are small, like a ping pong ball, they are packed with flavor. They are a low fat version of Italian sausage, with a small amount of herb flavors. Using lean turkey can make a dry meatball, but these were quite juicy and moist.


The meatballs are lightly seasoned with Italian spices, and the box lists Parmesan and Romano cheese, too. While I could easily taste the herbs, the cheeses were much more subtle - but that's okay.

Breadcrumbs are also listed as an ingredient, but I could not detect any doughy texture; the meatballs seemed mostly ground turkey.

For a quick and easy Italian pasta meal, I used a generic tomato pasta sauce and tossed in a few of the turkey meatballs. They held up well in the sauce. This Deal of the Day makes for a super quick dinner by just simmering these meatballs in your favorite pasta sauce, and it's ready by the time the pasta is al dente.


They would be delish on a pizza too. So these precooked meatballs are fine in any recipe you could come up with, even a Meatball Submarine Sandwich. The directions call for cooking them in the microwave, oven, or sauteed in a frying pan.


The frozen meatballs are easy to store, so you can defrost 3 or 4 at a time for single servings. Or even set out a heated bowl of them with a dipping sauce for a party. Click here to see a few tasty dipping sauce recipes.

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Turkey Meatballs by Villa Roma an 8!

This is a great Deal of the Day and I would stock up on these tasty flavor orbs anytime they show up at the 99c only Store - hey, if I saw them in my regular grocery store frozen case, I would still get them, even at full price!

*As with any Deals of the Day I review, some sell out, or may not be stocked all the time in stores.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Week - Ultimate Turkey Sandwich

This is my last Thanksgiving recipe post. Thanks for hanging out and I hope you had a delicious holiday! Do check back for all new recipes. 

My wife likes her turkey sandwich cold - I like mine hot, but this is a conflict were both sides win! For a simple turkey leftover meal, nothing beats The 99 Cent Chef's Ultimate Turkey Sandwich.


Everybody has their way with Thanksgiving leftovers (click here for a bunch of recipes.) I like nothing better than a plate of microwaved turkey, stuffing, gravy, and veggies, with a side of cold cranberry sauce. If the turkey turned out moist then microwaving is fine, but if your turkey dried out in the oven, then pour on some gravy, or reserved turkey juices, even a teaspoon of water to reconstitute (always remember to save the turkey juices for such an emergency - I always pour some over my sliced bird, dried-out or not.)


As for my Ultimate Turkey Sandwich, it's pretty simple, just the standard leftovers of turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce (click here to see my holiday recipes.) But what takes my sandwich over the top is an extra crisp layer of browned turkey skin.


Usually half the table will peel off the turkey skin and leave it. If I see this then I politely ask if I can have it (or, if I am serving the slices then I ask first, before giving up any turkey skin.) I can see why the skin is set aside, it is often soggy, from sitting on the steaming bird before it's served. But I like it that way too. Inevitably there is a lot of uneaten turkey skin.


This is what to do with it. Just saute the skin until brown and crispy. It's like a mild turkey bacon. And it only takes a few minutes of browning on each side. Some parts of the turkey skin have a thick layer of fat, which you can scrape off as the skin cooks, to save a few calories. (And once you've tried my crisp skin method, then you will do the same crisping for roasted chicken skin, too.)


The crunchy skin adds a nice contrast to the tender meat, soggy (but luscious) stuffing, and cool cranberry sauce. It's kind of like a Turkey BLT sandwich.

So, If you like your sandwich hot or cold, try kicking it up a notch with a crisp layer of turkey skin. And watch the video of my Ultimate Turkey Sandwich to see how I like to do it.
Ultimate Turkey Sandwich - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 48 seconds.

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

Ingredients
Cooked turkey, mayo (optional,) dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and turkey skin, between slices of bread or a roll.

Of course, you can us any favorite leftovers and make the sandwich your way. How about just turkey, crisp skin, mayo, lettuce and tomato?

Directions
Start with sauteing segments of turkey skin. The skin can be in large or small pieces. You will add as much as you like to the sandwich. And once the skin is brown and crisp it will easily break apart to fit any size of sandwich. Like bacon, a lot of grease is generated crisping the skin.

As the skin browns you can scrape off any excess fat, although I like a little layer of it. (And since I only have whole turkey once or twice a year, the extra skin calories don't worry me.)


Saute skin until brown, about 5 minutes each side. The skin doesn't have to be totally crisp, as it will firm up more once taken off the grill, and allowed to cool for a minute. Better to undercook than burn it.


When the skin is done, then microwave the turkey slices, stuffing and gravy. (Add a little water, turkey gravy, or turkey juices over turkey slices, if it has dried out.) Usually I like to heat up the gravy separately to pour over the slices and stuffing as I assemble the sandwich.


Top sandwich with cranberry sauce and a slice of crisp turkey skin (or a few small pieces.) Sometimes I toast the bread when I make my Ultimate Turkey Sandwich.

If you like a cold turkey sandwich then assemble right from the refrigerator and add the crisp turkey skin.  

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Week: Leftovers Pie

Check back for a daily dose of Thanksgiving recipes all this week - it's a digital all-you-can-eat holiday brunch at the Cheap$kate Chateau!

That's the beauty of this recipe, there is no fixed ingredients list, so you use whatever is leftover from your abundant holiday meal (click here for some recipes.) After such a big cooking event, it's nice to have all the ingredients in one place and in one simple serving -- no fuss, no muss.


It's simple really, just layer on your holiday leftovers in a deep baking dish then cover it with a cheap store-bought pie crust. When it's done baking (topped with a golden brown crust) spoon out a serving with a side of cranberry sauce.


You might think that it all mixes together, but no, each bite is different according to what you put in. In my first bite I got a pocket of sausage stuffing topped with turkey and gravy, while in the next bite it was pie crust, veggies, and sweet potato.


For this recipe I used the remains from a turkey dinner. I always make too much stuffing and of course there is plenty of turkey left. We baked orange sweet potatoes, but you can use regular white mashed potatoes.


We chowed down all the veggies, so I added a cup each of cooked corn and sweet green peas. You can add any leftover veggie dish you made.



There was very little gravy left, so I made a fresh batch. I browned some leftover turkey skin and poured in a couple cups of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour - it's good enough. You can add more gravy so the recipe resembles a pot pie.

Feeling lazy?

My latest cheap$kate recipe is adaptable to whatever you have on hand. Just get a pre-made pie crust from your local market.


So, save a few leftovers from you holiday feast and check out my video below and make your own delish Thanksgiving Leftovers Pie.

Thanksgiving & Christmas Leftovers Pie - Video

Play it here. Video runs 1 minutes, 29 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

Ingredients
1 to 2 cups each of cooked: stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and any veggies like corn, peas, green beans, Brussels sprouts and squash. Make this recipe your own and add or subtract the leftovers you have on hand.

1 pie crust - Use regular pie dough made with flour, not a graham cracker crust, as it will crumble apart and may burn easily. Also okay to use biscuit dough from the can, just stretch or roll-out enough of the biscuit dough to cover a baking dish or pan that's filled with leftovers.


Directions

I used a deep dish for baking. A pie pan may be too shallow for your ingredients and they may dry out. You could even half the pie dough and use a tall and narrow meat loaf or bread loaf pan.

If you only have a pie pan then check on baking and remove pie as soon as the crust is light brown, by then the filling should be hot enough.

Use any amounts you have leftover from your holiday meal; the above list is just a sample. Fill up the baking dish, but do stop about half an inch from the top - the liquid in your leftovers may overflow the dish. Just to be safe, you can place a cookie sheet underneath the baking dish or pan.

If you baked the stuffing in the bird, it may be mushy. I recommend spreading it out in a baking dish and cook stuffing in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees to dry it out, just a little. Of course, if you like your dressing mushy then go right to assembling the Thanksgiving & Christmas Leftovers Pie


As an example I put turkey in the middle and gravy on top. I liked the potatoes on the bottom layer.

Click on any photo to see larger.

We ran out of veggies, so I added some drained and cooked corn and peas. I also ran out of gravy -- that is the only thing I actually spend any effort on. I used a little over a cup of gravy, next time I would add at least 2 to 3 cups of gravy.

It's really up to you what ingredients make up a Thanksgiving & Christmas Leftovers Pie


For the pie crust, I brought it to room temperature so the dough is easy to spread over the baking dish. Slice into the pie crust to let out steam from the ingredients below. For this recipe I kept it simple, but you could beat a whole egg, or egg yolk, to brush on the pie dough that yields a shinny golden crust.


Once you have all the ingredients layered in a deep dish and covered with the pie dough, bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Check on the pie dough towards the end of baking and remove if it gets too brown.


Since all the ingredients are cooked, all you are doing is browning the pie dough and heating up the leftovers inside.

Serve Thanksgiving Leftovers Pie with a side of cranberry sauce and extra gravy - yum! 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Week - Corn Pudding

Check back for a daily dose of Thanksgiving recipes all this week - it's a digital all-you-can-eat holiday brunch at the Cheap$kate Chateau! And keep checking back for holiday leftover recipes.

Is it a dessert or savory side dish? You be the judge for my cheap$kate video version of Corn Pudding. Maybe it's best to let your guests determine the verdict. So for Thanksgiving today, I sentence you to make a luscious Corn Pudding!


You only need four ingredients: corn, milk, eggs and a tablespoon of honey.

The only big decision is about corn. Do you use fresh corn from the cob, a few cans of cooked corn, or fresh frozen bag of corn kernels? I went the easy route and used frozen, but you can use any type you prefer.

It couldn't be easier to make. Add 3 whisked eggs to milk and stir in a one pound bag of corn kernels (3 cups,) and finally drizzle on a tablespoon of honey (or your favorite sweetener.) Bake the mixture for 45 minutes at 350 degrees -- that's it.

Some recipes sprinkle on a little ground nutmeg for extra festive holiday flavor.

The ingredients are cheap, just the way I like it, especially one pound bags of frozen corn and canned corn.



I think you will like the texture -- it's similar to flan, with the extra crunchy addition of sweet corn kernels.

This side dish is perfect for travel and can be done at the last minute. I did it in under an hour, most of the time reserved for baking. You can make it ahead of time and serve it chilled or warm.


My latest recipe video below features sweet and savory side dish recipe that's simply delicious to make. So for this Thanksgiving holiday meal serve my cheap$kate side dish of Corn Pudding, it has all the right ingredients.

Corn Pudding - Video

Play it here. Video runs 1 minutes, 55 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here. 

Ingredients (3-4 servings)
  • 3 cups corn kernels - fresh, frozen or drained from can. I used a one pound package of frozen corn kernels, that I defrosted and drained.
  • 2 cups milk - regular or low fat. I used 2 percent milk
  • 3 medium eggs - add an extra egg if they are small. 1 used medium eggs.
  • 1 tablespoon honey - Okay to use any favorite sweetener. You can add less, or leave out sweetener, it will still be slightly sweet from the corn.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - I left it out for this version.


Directions
Prepare corn kernels, you want 3 cups total. If you use fresh corn removed from the cob, it may take about 4 to 6 ears to fill 3 cups. For canned corn use three 16 ounce cans and drain liquid.

I used a one pound bag of frozen corn. Best to let corn defrost and drain any liquid.

In a bowl or baking dish, whisk 3 eggs together. Don't overdo it, just blend enough to mix well.


Pour milk into baking dish. Add the blended eggs. Stir and mix.

click on any photo to see larger

Finally add the corn and sweetener, again mix well.Okay to leave out any sweetener, corn has a bit of sweetness already.



It's best to use a deep dish so you have a thick pudding. If you only have a shallow baking pan then reduce baking time by about 10 minutes, so pudding doesn't dry out too much.


Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove and allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving. This will allow pudding to set (serve too soon and the Corn Pudding may be too watery.)

Hindsight
Some recipes add a cup (or two) of crumbled or shredded cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg. And to keep the side dish more savory, you can leave out the sweetener.

Make sure to drain canned corn. Also, to further reduce water accumulation, defrost frozen corn and drain it too. I found a little water on the bottom of the pudding after it cooled down. You can pour it out when baking dish is easier to handle.

By the next day the Corn Pudding will start to break apart - the kernels will separate from the pudding in clumps. It will still taste fine. Also water will continue to come from the corn kernels, just drain the liquid off before serving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipes Week - Mom's Pumpkin Pie

Check back for a daily dose of Thanksgiving recipes all this week - it's a digital all-you-can-eat holiday brunch at the Cheap$kate Chateau!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow so you have time to make my Mom's Pumpkin Pie. I was back in Gonzales, Louisiana a few years ago around Thanksgiving, and got her to cook it on camera. Boy, was it good -- so good that a lot of my Cajun cousins swung by. It was a fun and noisy day, as you will see, where everyone lines up for a slice after the pies cool down.


Mom made a wheat crust from scratch, but for the filling she went with the convenience of canned pumpkin. I know you are disappointed that we didn't find a free pumpkin in the wild, like we did for Mom's last dessert recipe of Mini Pecan Pies -- where we went pecan picking out in a field of pecan trees (click here for that video).

Even with canned pumpkin, Mom's extra ingredients of spices, eggs and evaporated milk, make a luscious  filling with a creamy flavored kick of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and clove.


The rest of the pie filling was made with cheap ingredients. This week I went searching for a cheap can of pumpkin and found out how expensive it is. Almost $3 a can! 

Now, for this recipe I am following Mom's lead, and would not have her change a family recipe handed down to her, but I can offer a 99.99 cent substitution: canned sweet yams. They are almost the same color, and by the time you add sugar and all the spices to Mom's pumpkin filling, it almost tastes the same.

I've had Sweet Potato Pie (probably made with canned yams or sweet potatoes) at my local Soul Food restaurant and it's dang good. The consistency is similar to pumpkin and the flavor is sweeter. Usually canned yams are cooked chunks floating in liquid. So if you want to make a cheaper pie using yams, you should drain the can and mash the cooked yam flesh. And, I would use half the sugar that Mom uses for her Pumpkin Pie.

The best substitution would be to fork mash the orange flesh of fresh baked and peeled sweet potatoes -- they are almost  as cheap as russet potatoes. See, dear reader, I am always thinking of you, and how to make a cheaper, but still tasty twist on a typical expensive dessert!


For the heck of it, I priced premade pumpkin pies at my local grocery chain store and found them on sale for $6.99 each. That's way too One Percent for
The 99 Percenter Chef!


You could also buy an inexpensive pre-made pie crust -- but if you have time, do give Mom's homemade version a try. The whole pie came together quickly and easily. It's a two-for-one recipe. The video recipe is for 2 pies. Of course, it's easy to cut the ingredient amounts in half  to bake one pie.


I have to give a big 99 thanks to all my Cajun relatives -- I didn't have to twist their arms to give Mom's Pumpkin Pie a try -- and an extra 99 thanks to Mom for sharing her recipe with all my readers. And Happy Holidays to all!

Mom's Pumpkin Pie Recipe - VIDEO

Play it here. Video runs 8 minutes, 54 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.


Ingredients for Pie Crusts (2 Pies)
  • 2 cups of flour - white or wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup shortening


Directions for Pie Crusts
Add flour and salt to a large bowl for mixing. Scoop in a cup of shortening. Mix in with a fork until flour becomes pea sized lumps. Pour in a cup of cold water. Now you have to get your hands dirty. Mix the dough  by hand for about 3 minutes until it all comes together. Sprinkle flour over a work surface. Plop dough on it and form into a ball. Divide the ball in half.


With a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball until it is large enough to fit over your baking pie pan. Press dough into the pan and press together any cracks that split during the transfer. You can pinch dough ridges around the top if you want to.


Ingredients for Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • 2 cups of canned pumpkin - okay to use cheaper canned sweet potatoes or yams (drain then mash with a fork or potato masher to smooth.
  • 1 cup of sugar - use half a cup if you are using sweet potatoes or yams. Of course, best to use baked and peeled fresh orange colored yams - about 2-4, depending on the size.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of evaporated milk

Directions for Pumpkin Pie Filling
In a large bowl mix in dry ingredients and spices including: sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger.


In another small bowl, add 4 eggs and lightly whisk the egg yolks and whites together for a minute. Pour  blended eggs into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix it all together for a minute.



Spoon in 2 cups of canned pumpkin into the spices and egg mixture. Next pour in 2 cups of evaporated milk. Whisk it all together for a minute or two until well blended.

Okay to substitute cheaper sweet potatoes or yams, but first drain and mash with a fork or potato masher. They"re usually canned in liquid with large pieces.

Now it all comes together. Just pour the pie filling into both pie shells until pie shells are almost full.

Add pies to a 425 degree heated oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and finish baking for 40 minutes.


Mom uses a toothpick test to see if a pie is cooked through. She inserts a toothpick into the center of the pie, then removes the pick to see if it's wet. If it comes out clean, it's ready. If it is still wet, she puts it back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes. I think if the toothpick is slightly damp, you can just leave the pie out to cool, as it will continue cooking anyway.

Pie is ready to serve when it reaches room temperature (after an hour of cooling on the counter.)

Of course, you could easily half all the ingredients to make just one pie.


You can also speed up the cooling by putting the pies in the refrigerator. Since the pie plates are hot, you need to allow them to cool for 10 minutes first. Then place potholders, or a kitchen towel, on the refrigerator surface and place the pies on it. Pies store well in the refrigerator, so you can make them a couple of days beforehand -- just cover with plastic wrap after they cool down.

Pie slices are delicious on their own, but you may want to top with whipped cream.

Hindsight
Of course, you can just buy a premade crust at the market for cheap. I thought it fun to show how Mom makes hers. As mentioned earlier, it is easy to cut the ingredients in half to make just one pie. You could shave off 10 minutes or so for a creamier pudding like filling, that's still enough time to cook the crust.
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