Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Morning Coffee

Here, I saved you a cup - have a sip of my first morning coffee.

Dang, sorry I ran out of fresh ground coffee, but fortunately I have some leftover grounds, just enough to make one more cup of joe.

What, you don't want any now? Okay be that way, I'll drink it myself.

Well, after watching my video, I guess I can't blame you after all. Looks like it's going to be one of those days, here in the cheap$kate cocina....

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Chipotle Lime Chicken by Weight Watchers - Deal of the Day Review

This is one well balanced Deal of the Day. Smart Ones Chipotle Lime Chicken by Weight Watchers is not only tasty, but the ingredients are well prepared, and that's saying a lot for typical frozen fare.

Weight Watcher cuisine lacks the heft of carbs and glutton, but for this Deal of the Day you get plenty of nutritious veggies, white meat chicken and a lot of Mexican-style flavor. At 9 ounces you may not fill up, but you will enjoy every mouthful.


First off the white meat chicken is flaky, not a spongy processed loaf texture that typically makes up a cheap frozen meal. And for once the cover box photo matches the size of the chicken pieces inside. Plus, with the tomato, lime and chipolte sauce, the chicken stays moist.

I especially like the veggie medley. Often frozen food purveyors overcook them to mushiness, especially squash. Well, there is still a bit of crunch to the corn, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, and red bell peppers.

Even the red beans are firm, I like them that way. The veggies remind me of what you get in a fresh frozen bag from the grocery deli case. Good job with the veggies Smart Ones!

The only thing to watch out for is a subtle spicy heat, that sneaks up on you after you've dredged the veggies and chicken through the tomato and spicy chipolte sauce. The sauce is still a light and watery one, and that's fine with me.

The lime flavor is subtle, but it's there. This Deal of the Day has a very mild heat that I think most noshers can handle.

Finally, I like the short ingredient list of mostly natural veggies and white meat chicken. And, of course, the calorie count and fat amounts are minimal.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Well, I think you can figure out what my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, will be for Smart Ones Chipotle Lime Chicken by Weight Watchers, right? This is one of the better frozen meals I've had lately so this Deal of the Day gets a perfect 9! I'll be stocking up with these as long as my local 99c only Store carries them.

Okay I'll admit it, I cheated on the diet part - I added some brown rice to my Chipotle Lime Chicken by Weight Watchers, to soak up all that delish chipotle lime sauce.

Brown rice is not included in this frozen meal.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day Grillin' - Holiday Recipes

Labor Day is a day of rest for us working nine-to-fivers, yeah right! Well don't sweat it, I'll do the heavy lifting with a wheelbarrow full of tasty recipes for you to choose from. And this Penny Pinching Proletarian has all the photo illustrated cooking instructions laid out for my visiting toilers, with some videos sprinkled in for no extra charge.

Smoking Pastrami

For this final summer holiday here at the Institute of Penny Pinching, I'm getting out the BBQ grill for a backyard blowout. So read on and click on any recipe name below and you'll be directed to my original blog post recipe page of eats, illustrated with yummy photos.

Lets start with the main meat course. This Chintzy Hash Slinger cooks with chicken because it's the cheapest.

And dark meat is the best bargain. I can even get boneless and skinless chicken leg quarters on sale for around 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market. They also sell 10 pound bags of plain whole leg quarters for 49 cents per pound.

Use your favorite BBQ sauce for a traditional red, white and blue backyard poultry cookout. I just season cheap chicken pieces with salt and pepper and slather on the BBQ sauce. Before serving, slice into the thickest part of chicken piece to make sure the juices run clean - no pink or red is allowed!

Next to chicken, pork is one cheap protein and I like to smoke it. Smoking thick meaty Country-style Pork Ribs are a favorite. I boil the ribs until tender (you can also wrap them in foil and oven roast) then throw them on the grill for an hour of smoke. This is a tasty shortcut to traditional all-day smoking. My blogpost shows you how to smoke pork ribs 2 ways.

What helps drive this great Nations economical engine is our mosaic of industrious cultures, so why not get multi-culti and try my recipe for a grilled Thai-style Chicken Satay with a Peanut Dipping Sauce.

The Japanese version of grilled Shish Kabobs is called Yakatori. And the Japanese like to grill it all, even chicken livers. If that is too pungent for you it's okay to substitute liver with cubes of firm fish like salmon or halibut, and chicken fillets. Everything tastes better when served on a skewer.

Chicken Satay - ready for the grill.

Los Angeles has a bustling Koreatown and I have had the pleasure to try a few Korean BBQ joints. Enter one and you are enveloped in smoke from the tabletop grills, loaded down with marinated beef and chicken. I have my own cheap$kate version of Korean BBQ you can make for your next backyard gathering.

It's all about the marinade that mainly consists of garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar. It's a potent combination you should try out sometime. Just click here for my Korean-style BBQ Chicken recipe. The photo below shows grilled boneless and skinless dark meat leg quarters.

 If you are glued to the wide screen TV for a baseball game, then you can't go wrong with grilled tube steaks. They are the easiest fast food to make, and you won't have to put in any overtime for my wiener vittles. I have a couple of unusual recipes I think you will enjoy. And it's easy enough to replace cheap hot dogs with your favorite specialty sausages - if you're the artisanal type.

I usually get my hot dogs with just relish and mustard, but sometimes I like to mix it up. Here in Los Angeles we have a uniquely constructed wiener sold by entrepreneurial sidewalk vendors called the L.A. Street Dog.

It's a crazy quilt combination of sauteed onion and bell pepper that's strewn over a bacon wrapped wiener, then topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and finally crowned with a spicy jalapeƱo!

You've never had a hot dog like this - it's the roman candle of finger foods. In my video below I grill the bacon wrapped wiener on the stove top, but it's even better sizzling on your BBQ grill.

Allow me to introduce to you to a Currywurst, which is a sausage or hot dog that's grilled and topped with a spicy sauce consisting of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, cayenne pepper, and curry powder (dried cumin). This Berlin, Germany delicacy started just after WWII as street food for British and American soldiers stationed there. It sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but it works and it's so easy to make, so give it a go - it makes a great appetizer served with toothpicks.


Another Eastern European entree is made with grilled Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer. Now these are ingredients that work well together! Again, I cooked this dish on a stove top, but you can cook the sausages over an open fire for extra charred flavor.

To add some veggie crunch, try my bastardized version of a Chicago Dog. I can't get Day-Glow green relish out here in LA so I tweaked the Windy City's fast food classic by adding some chopped lettuce along with traditional sliced tomato. Hopefully Chicago tough guys will give me a pass for tweaking this culinary bad boy. And check out my wacky video below, where my Chicago Dog is the video punchline.

Hamburger is a backyard grill favorite that almost every working stiff lusts over. And boy do I have a meaty South of the Border spin with my Mexi-Turkey Burger.

It packs a lot of flavor with the main ingredient, Mexican chorizo, which has a deep flavored red chile taste, spiced with paprika, Mexican oregano and garlic powder. And you can use regular ground beef instead of poultry. Get out the salsa for my Mexi-Burger.

Attention all you breadwinners, I have the perfect meal between 2 buns, Smoked Pork Butt Sammies! For lovers of smoked pork, the following entree will have you asking for seconds and thirds. I like to smoke a whole pork shoulder (or butt) when I throw a Labor Day BBQ party.

If you have traveled the South then you've run across BBQ Pulled Pork. Mainly served between buns and topped with BBQ sauce, this crowd pleasing self-serve sandwich has it all: smokey tender pork that's seasoned with a dry rub of sugar and spice.
Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Click on any photo to see larger.

Just set out a tub of Pulled Pork along with hamburger buns, BBQ sauce, sliced onion, pickles and Coleslaw, and get out of the way as the line forms. And I have an easy gas grill smoking method you can see in my video below.

Pork Carnitas are my favorite tacos. While not done on a BBQ grill it's still one of my go-to backyard holiday foods, so I gotta give you the recipe gratis, no charge. You can always give it a quick smoke pass to kick it up a notch. It really is the perfect party food because you get to sit back and let your friends do all the work and build their own tacos. Go to the following blog post to see some tasty Homemade Salsas to spoon on your taco - or scoop up with tortilla chips.

Carnitas Taco

And pork is still cheap these days, especially when it comes on sale at my local Latin market. So you won't break the bank feeding your lovers of all things porcine.

I seldom cook with beef because it's just too darn expensive for this wage earner, but when I splurge, it's for ribeye steak. I just season it with salt and pepper, that's it. Believe it or not, 3 ounce thin-sliced steaks do show up at my local 99c only and Dollar Tree stores from time to time.

Sometimes I'll finish a steak with a little BBQ sauce. But if you want to impress your guests then try out my Carne Asada recipe. Ribeye (or any favorite tender cut) is marinated in cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice and a little ground cumin. When it's hot off the grill, chop the meat for Carne Asada Tacos or a Warm Steak Salad.

Carne Asada Marinade

If you are smoking meat, get your hands greasy and throw on a slab of corned beef brisket for Homemade Pastrami. I always freeze 2 or 3 corned beef briskets when they are on sale for about 2 dollars per pound during St. Patrick's day sales.

My Smoked Homemade Pastrami recipe is tasty as any Jewish Deli version - so says everyone I've served it too, and you don't have to leave me a tip. I think it's because the smoky flavor it more intense fresh off the grill, than from a deli where the pastrami has been setting in the cold case for a few days. Hey, don't take my word for it, give it a shot and get ready for an assembly line of high fives sure to come your way!

Seafood and a BBQ grill go together. For Grilled Fish you have to have a delicate touch as fish is easy to overcook. But it's done quickly so you won't smell too smokey slaving over the grill.

Grilling a whole fish is the easiest way to do it. Of course your guest may have to work overtime to pick out fish bones, but all that effort will be worth it if you cook the fish my way.

I have a deep fried Fish Taco recipe that's easily adapted for outdoor grilling. Just leave off the batter and grill the fish for a lighter and healthier pescado. Check out my recipe for all the details, including a cool Creme Topping.

A bag of tortilla chips and a light Seafood Ceviche made with budget fake crab is a chill appetizer to greet the guests with.

Seafood Ceviche

For my vegetarian friends working for a living, and who've got off the conveyor belt of meat, the following recipes are for you. My sister Denise has a fave veggie Eggplant Burger (and easy enough to BBQ instead of frying pan sauteing).

 Eggplant Burger

Portabella Mushroom Burger

A tasty meat substitution is an earthy Portabella Mushroom Burger that's topped with grilled bell pepper and cheese (or use a cheese substitute).

Roast a few ears or corn to serve with the veggie burgers or go a little further and make my Roasted Cream Corn.

It's all about the veggie sides when you have a BBQ patio party. You can simply drizzle a little olive oil and season any fave summer veggie to grill over the fire.

 Braised Romain Heart

Click on any recipe name to get my recipe details for: Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Bell Peppers, Zucchini with Herbs, and Braised Romain Hearts (originally done inside, but easy enough to do outside).

You gotta have Potato or Macaroni Salads when you grill meat. I have a colorful Peanut Coleslaw made with red cabbage. But a regular Deli Coleslaw it good enough for me.

Deli-style Coleslaw

My Mom recently dropped by the cheap$kate kitchen and set off a flavor bomb: Cajun Potato Salad. It was so good I had make a video to share her recipe with you.

Get your guests started with light salads such as: refreshing Watermelon, Mango and Spinach; hearty Black Bean & Corn ; an exotic, but simple, Korean-style Cucumber Salad; a tangy Cuban Salad, or luscious Pears & Spinach with Herb Cream.

Watermelon, Mango & Spinach Salad

If you are doing burgers, then you want fries to go with it, and my double-fried French Fries does the trick.

I like a pot of beans on the stove simmering while I'm grilling. Cook them the day before and they taste even better the next. Be sure to set out a stack of bowls so your guest can help themselves. I like to have some grated cheese and minced onion on the side. My New Orleans friend, Miss Patty, has a delish Vegetarian Red Beans recipe for you, and I have my own Beef & Bean Chili and Cuban Black Beans recipe.

There is nothing better at stoking appetites than walking past the kitchen and inhaling the savory perfume of seasoned legumes slow cooking on the stove top.

Every holiday has their produce specials, so be sure to check out your local grocery fliers for all the holiday deals.

Labor Day is almost here, and this Parsimonious Culinary Artisan put in 12 hours, 8 days a week, cranking out the recipes for your use, royalty and tax free.

So get to work and click on any recipe name listed above and get all my tasty recipe details - it's the easiest and tastiest job you'll have all year!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Grilled Sweet Potato - Video Recipe

I usually bake Sweet Potatoes, but during the sweltering days of summer it's cooler to do it outside on the BBQ grill.

So let's get cooking with The 99 Cent Chef. My summertime stop motion video features Grilled Sweet Potato.

This Frugal Forager gets them from the local Latin grocery store. I picked up a couple of bright orange/red ones, as they are the sweetest. You can use my recipe with tan hued yams or regular potatoes. Sometimes grocery stores call the orange/red tubers yams (at least here in the U.S.) You can read about the difference between a yam and sweet potato by clicking on the names. I just go by color these days, bright orange/red equals sweet.

I cook this tuber simply, just rub or brush on some olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then grill them about 3 minutes on each side.

I have a cheap gas grill, so it's easy to keep track of how long it takes. If you have a charcoal or wood burning grill the cooking time will vary according to how intense the fire is, and you will have to watch things closely. What you are looking for is a a slight char or burn. When the Sweet Potato is soft to the touch then it is done.

I slice the tubers thickly, about a half inch. I also leave the skin on. It's up to you how you like to prepare them.

The Grilled Sweet Potato will continue to steam and soften after removal from the fire. And you can easily peel off the most blackened skin parts if you like. Me, I like some of that charred flavor.

You can adapt this recipe for indoors cooking too. I like broiling them in the oven. Just check on them every minute or so. Some of the smokiness is lost, but the sweetness and char flavors still come through. You could even roast the Sweet Potato in the oven, especially if you are baking a chicken; it takes about 30 minutes of baking, so add the slices a little over half way through baking.

And be sure to cook plenty. Grilled Sweet Potato makes a low calorie side dish and can be easily reheated anytime. Pull the Grilled Sweet Potato slices out of storage from the refrigerator and zap them in the microwave for a minute or so.

When I'm grilling protein, Sweet Potatoes are a lighter contrast to typical heavy sides like potato salad or french fries.

In my stop motion recipe video I go overboard with the olive oil, but that's just for show -- you can lightly brush on a minimal amount or use your favorite oil spray.

My Grilled Sweet Potato recipe works with almost any other crisp veggie like: corn, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, yellow neck squash, onions and asparagus. Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of veggies.

If you've never put vegetables alongside that barbequing burger, hot dog or chicken leg, now is the time to start. And you can't do better or easier than Grilled Sweet Potato.

Grilled Sweet Potato- VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 19 seconds.

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

Ingredients (about 2 servings)
  • 1 large sweet potato - about 1/2 thick slices
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil - I used olive oil, but okay to use any favorite oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - Okay to use any favorite seasoned salt.

Get your barbecue grill going. Okay to do this recipe indoors too - in a broiler oven.

Scrub and clean sweet potato if necessary. Slice sweet potato into thick slices, about 1/2 each slice. I left the potato skin on, but you can peel potatoes if you like.

Drizzle on oil. Salt and pepper sweet potato slices.

When grill is hot add sweet potato slices. Since sweet potato has a high sugar content, they may burn some. That's okay since it's easy to scrape off some of the burnt bits. Hey, char is part of the barbecue taste.

Your cooking time will vary depending on the grill heat. I used a gas grill and it took about 3 minutes for each side of sweet potato to cook through.

You want the sweet potato to be soft on the inside when done. I noticed that even if the middle is slightly hard, the sweet potato will continue to cook and tenderize, even when removed from the fire. So don't worry if all the cooked slices are not uniform in doneness, they will continue to cook.

You can cook sweet potatoes ahead of time and reheat in the microwave or an oven.

This recipe will work with any potatoes you like, including: red, white, russet and yam.
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