Monday, January 16, 2017

Cuban-style Black Beans - Video Recipe

Growing up in the South I had my share of beans: spicy chili beans, Tex-Mex pinto, salty boiled peanut, tender lima, and luscious slow-simmered black-eyed and green peas with ham hock. Moving to Los Angeles, I eventually got around to trying Cuban-style Black Beans served at Versailles, our premier local Cuban Restaurant.

Black Beans have taken over the top spot as my favorite legume. Just check out my recipe video below and try it out sometime, and they may one day be your favorite cooked beans, too.

Cuban-style Black Beans - Video

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes, 42 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

What makes Cuban-style Black Beans taste different is the addition of vinegar, wine, bell pepper and a little sugar. It's that yin and yang pull of sour and sweet flavors that make this recipe so enticing. The other ingredients are typical for slow-cooking legumes, and include: onion, garlic, dried cumin and oregano.

 I've found black beans are a little more expensive than pinto beans, but I still find them on sale at my local Latin market sometimes on sale for less than a dollar per pound, and 99c only Stores, too. When they are for sale it's good to get a few bags and set them aside in a cool dark spot for future cooking.

You can soak the beans overnight in water to speed up cooking by an hour or so, but it's okay to just start the pot of beans the same day, but give yourself 3-5 hours of slow-simmering time, until beans are tender. And when they are done, you can keep them heating on low until you are ready to serve. And as usual, beans reheated the next day are the best - they've had time for all the flavors to marinate to perfection.

What do you serve with my Cuban-style Black Beans? Start with steamed white rice. Make the rice following package directions. When done add to a bowl and spoon on plenty of Black Beans with the sauce -- it's simply delish.

If you are ambitious then roast a whole pork leg quarter for Cuban Roast Pork. A classic Cuban Lunch is comprised of roast pork, fried plantains, black beans and white rice. Just click here to see all the Cuban Recipes I've come up with so far.

I also make a mean Huevos Rancheros (click here for recipe) substituting refried black beans for refried pinto beans.

So put on a slow-cooking pot of my Cuban-style Black Beans and allow the kitchen to reach a steamy tropical fragrance.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Ingredients (6-8 servings)
  • 1 pound dried black beans - about 2 cups.
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper - chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano - fresh or dried.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar - white or any favorite like: rice, red wine or apple cider vinegar.
  • 3/4 cup red or white wine - I used red wine. Okay to substitute with apple juice.
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil - for sauteing veggies
  • Salt and pepper to taste - about 1/2 teaspoon total

Chop onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add tablespoon of oil to pot. Saute onion and bell pepper about 5 minutes.

Stir in chopped garlic, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper. (If you are the type who believes simmering with salt makes the beans tough, then add salt towards the end of cooking, when beans are tender.) This is a basic Sofrito that flavors any Caribbean slow-cooked stews and beans.

Pour in wine and vinegar.

Rinse beans and remove any debris.

Finally add rinsed black beans and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook black beans until tender, about 3-5 hours. You can reduce cooking time by an hour by first soaking the black beans overnight. Cook to desired tenderness.

Cooking time varies with cooking temperature. A high simmer will shorten the cooking time. I go for a low simmer so the water doesn't evaporate too quickly and the beans burn - it's easier to control. You can do a high simmer, but stir and check on the water level often. Either way, check on beans and add water as needed during cooking.

When beans are done, you can thicken the bean sauce a couple of ways. Cook beans uncovered for half an hour or so, to reduce and thicken the liquid. Or, try mashing some beans against the side of the pot and stir to thicken.

Serve over white or brown rice. And you can serve my Cuban-style Black Beans with the other Cuban recipes listed earlier.

After you've made this recipe once, see if you would like to add more or less sugar next time. Same applies for vinegar. To me those are the dominate flavorings, so adjust ingredients to your palate. It's all good.

This is a vegetarian version, but you can add meat, like: a ham steak, ham hock, ham bone, or a couple slices of bacon. Put meat in the bean pot when you add the water. You might want to brown the bacon first, that way you can add as much bacon grease as you like. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Egg & Smoked Gouda Sandwich - Deal of the Day

This Deal of the Day breakfast sandwich if from from evol Foods. I went on their website here, and they do have a philosophy for their frozen fare. This purveyor spells out their mission to: "Bring down the broken food system. One bite at a time." And all their ingredients are antibiotic, hormone, non-GMO, etc. Hmmm... I guess even microwavable food has to have a mission.

Hey, I'm all for that, but how does my latest Deal of the Day find of Egg and Smoked Gouda served on Multi-Grain Flatbread taste?

Darned good. It even microwaves quite nicely. The cheese melts just right and the egg puck is tender and hot, while the flatbread stays soft and warm. I don't know how they are able to pull it all off this successfully, but they do.


The first thing you taste is the cheese and egg combination. I thought smoked Gouda cheese would be more pungent, but this version is too subtle, and while mildly disappointing, that's still okay.

It reminded me more of typical American cheese. It would have been better to use a stronger brand of Gouda?


The egg is a scrambled mix. It heated perfectly, following the microwaving directions. It tasted like it should, and remained soft. I was worried the egg puck would be rubbery enough for a hockey stick swat. 

I always like a TV dinner ingredient list that is short like this one. A "vegetarian" label is on the package. Splitting hairs here, but I guess there are all kinds out there, even ones that eat chicken eggs.

Click on any photo to see larger.

The Mulit-Grain Flatbread stayed soft and pliable for eating. It's just a basic baked wheaty flavor.

While this Deal of the Day breakfast sandwich will not replace preferred Egg McMuffins or other fast food biscuit sandwiches, this one is a low calorie and slightly blander version. And while a small sandwich, it is enough to get you started, along with a hot cup of java.

So on the Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give evol Foods Egg and Smoked Gouda breakfast sandwich a tasty 6 !

Try hacking this breakfast sandwich for a more delicious and nutritious breakfast, with a smear of mayo, a slice of tomato and some tender fresh spinach leaves. Now it's bumped up to perfect rating of 9!

This is a decent Deal of the Day way to start your morning, and you can easily eat it on the run - or while stuck in traffic on the way to work.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Top 9 Recipes of 2016

As for year end lists, my Top 9 Recipes of 2016 is one you can really sink your teeth into. And all of my top picks are deliciously cheap to make. Just click on any recipe name to see the original 2016 blogpost, or play any embedded video below. The ranking order is random and not by delectability, so go ahead and dig in!

1. Cherry Pancakes
Let's start out with breakfast. I've been making pancakes with fresh fruit lately. Try mixing seasonal fruit into to your favorite pancake batter.

Cherries take a couple of slices to remove the seed, and you only need 2 or 3 cherries per pancake. So give my Cherry Pancake recipe a try next cherry season.

2. Huevos Rancheros
My favorite breakfast lately is Mexican-style Huevos Rancheros. It's really easy to make with fried eggs, refried pinto beans, and cheese topped with your favorite store-bought salsa, all resting on a couple of heated corn tortillas. You can get the ingredients cheaply, even canned refried beans, at your local grocery store.

My homemade recipe is so good I had to make a stop motion animated recipe video for it. So check it out below - warning, make sure you have eaten beforehand as the imagery is mouth-watering.

3. Chicken & Basil Stir Fry
I like to use fresh herbs whenever possible. Usually you only need a few sprigs or a small clipping. My next Top 9 Recipe of 2016 is a pungent Thai-style Chicken & Basil Stir Fry that's quick and easy to make.

I usually buy a whole basil plant and use some leaves as needed for Italian pasta sauces, but for my stir fry recipe I almost use a whole basil plant! Make some rice to soak up the basil and chicken flavored sauce, too.

4. Korean-style BBQ Chicken
During summertime I fire up the gill almost every weekend, and boy do I have a scrumptious Top 9 Recipe using cheap chicken called: Korean-style BBQ Chicken.

It's all about the marinade. The dominate sweet and salty soy flavors are a perfect savory combination. And copious amounts of minced garlic takes the marinade over the top. Korean-style marinade is a nice change from typical tomato-based BBQ sauces. So click on the recipe name above to get all the tasty recipe details. And add extra bonus points as this recipe is Wife Approved!

Korean-style BBQ Chicken
5. Peach Salsa 
Serving chips and salsa to greet guest for a party? Then try my Peach Salsa for a fruity change of pace. If you are from the South then you can get plenty of this stone fruit cheaply during peach season in late summer. Plus, the ingredient list is a short one.

Serve my Peach Salsa with blue corn chips for extra festive color.

6. Trump Orange Chicken
I threw my whisk into the bombastic U.S. Presidential race last year with my tasty Trump Orange Chicken recipe. I have to say it's the greatest and most beautiful recipe of the year...absolutely fantastic. Only short, lying, low-energy, small-fingered, ugly, crooked, and nasty people would disagree.

If you voted for Trump then celebrate the new POTUS by making my glazed, orange-hued, fried chicken entree. Or, if you think Trump is a pathological liar, con man, chauvinist, whining crybaby, pompous ass, and bully, then just change the name from Trump Orange Chicken to plain Orange Chicken. My recipe is delish by any name or political persuasion!

7. Homemade Chili with Beef & Beans
Slow-cooking soothes the soul. There is nothing like the kitchen fragrance from a large pot of Homemade Chili with Beef & Beans. And I don't have to point out how inexpensive pinto beans are. I also use one of the cheapest cuts of beef out there called beef shank. This recipe is money in the bank.

So get out your favorite Chili toppings - I like chopped onion, melty cheese and crunchy Fritos Corn Chips!

I usually get most of my 99 cent ingredients at my local 99c only Stores, but lately I've has some good luck shopping at Dollar Tree. I came up with a Top 9 Recipe using bargains I scooped up from there.

Click on any photo to see larger.

8. Homemade Italian Sausage & Black Olive Pizza
Using breakfast sausage and some Italian herbs, I came up with a homemade Italian sausage, that tops my single serving pizza. The other Dollar Tree pizza finds include: black olives, tomato pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and small precooked pizza crusts (2 per package) - all for a dollar per ingredient. That's a lot of dough savings!

 Make sure to click on the name Homemade Italian Sausage & Black Olive Pizza to see the recipe.

9. Mashed Potatoes
The last recipe I made in 2016 was classic Mashed Potatoes. Potatoes are one cheap ingredient - sometimes even less per pound than brown onions.

Everyone know how to make Mashed Potatoes, right? Well if you are a cooking newbie, then check out my stop motion animated recipe video below and see how simple it is to make.

It has been a fruitfully abundant year of recipes here at the Cheap$kate Chateau. I did the heavy lifting for you, so now all you have to do is pick a recipe link and save yourself some hard earned cash by trying out any of the above. And if you have a favorite recipe of mine, then leave a comment to share.

And make sure to keep checking in here from time to time. I create yummy-looking blog posts with a dollop of humor, and while my tastes are cheap, my recipe flavors are top shelf!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Cheap$kate Food Finds

The Cheap$kate Forager has a grab bag  full of the best 2016 deals from Dollar Tree and 99c only Stores.

Los Angeles is the epicenter for cheap food finds. And, while not all 99 cent or dollar stores are created equal, this Chintzy Cuisineste knows were to get the goods for the most economical deals.

 Some of my cheap$kate finds are healthy and some are not - that's what happens when you cruise the aisles. What you find today may not be there tomorrow, so I have learned to get it while you can.

This year I've found everything from grass-fed cow yogurt to Star Wars themed SpaghettiOs.

I tried the delish yogurt but only took a photo of the SpaghettiOs - I'm no fool.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Freeze-dried fruit, like grapes and pear, are "in" this year. There is not much to them really - they are all air and lightness, with none of the heft and concentrated sweetness that regular dried fruit carries. I can't say I'm a big fan....yet.

This year my local Dollar Tree store has really kicked it up a few notches. While the selection is no where near what my fave budget 99c only Stores stock, they are getting better.

 Single servings of frozen, seafood, pork, beef and poultry are well represented.

I've even found enough dollar ingredients to create tasty individual pizzas (click here to see my recipe for Sausage and Black Olive Pizza.)

I always discover fantastic eatable finds at my local 99c only Stores. Again, if you see it today, it may not be there tomorrow, so I advise impulsive purchasing.

Click on any photos to see larger.

Not every 99c only Store sells beer and wine, but I have found the ones that do, and boy do they ever! Twelve to sixteen ounce bottles or cans of Pumpkin Ale, Thai lager or The Hobbit Smaug Stout, anyone?

Deli meats make frequent appearances, everything from sliced Roast Beef to Blackened Chicken Breast. Those are the kind of finds that vanish from the store shelves very quickly.

I picked up a couple of containers of Oyster Mushrooms last week, to simply saute in butter.

Living in Louisiana during my high school daze, the Southern product brand of Zatarain's was everywhere to be found -- and here in Los Angeles it's a great treat to get it at such cheap prices. 

So major props to the 99c only Store and Dollar Tree for keeping my stockings stuffed all through the new year! And be sure to check back next week for my Top 9 Recipes of 2016.

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