Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Birthday Mom ! - Mom's Favorite Recipes

Mom turnes 84 years young today.
And I owe it all to her, at least where I get my cooking chops (and any good sense I have.) Just check out our cooking videos below to see what I mean.

She grew up in Texas on the Gulf Coast, in a small shrimping town called Port O'Connor. There, I learned to love seafood.

Her father was a shrimp boat captain. So, while we couldn't afford steak, we had all the fresh caught seafood Big Daddy would skim off the top of the catch. Shrimp season was short, but crab and oyster season soon followed.

Big Daddy & Big Mama

Mom had movie star looks (like a young Elizabeth Taylor) and smarts, and a scholarship to college if she wanted it, but had no extra help from her parents.


So after high school graduation, she was soon married and I arrived on the scene, followed by my brother and sister.

Billy, Berry and Brenda

My Dad was in the military so we moved around. Mom and us kids eventually settled back in Port O'Connor, after a divorce. Dad was quite a character and the life of the party, but he was also a little too profligate in the alcohol consumption department.

Billy Doyle Robinson

Mom went back to work as a waitress, so I learned how to literally pinch pennies when she poured handfuls of customer tips on the kitchen table for us kids to separate and count.


Mom got back on her feet and found love again with this shuffleboard-playing fellow below, Ken.


After a couple years, Mom remarried and a final sister, Denise, was born (catch up with my youngest sister Denise's Eggplant Recipe, video here.) We moved to neighboring Louisiana the year I enrolled in Junior High School. There she picked up a whole other way of cooking, Cajun-style.


My high school daze were spent in Gonzales, Louisiana, the self-professed Jambalaya Capital of the World. So you know this town is serious about chow. Click here to see a culinary video tour of some local Cajun cuisine at the weekend Flea Market, including: Crawfish Pie, Boudin Balls and, of course, Jambalaya.


And here's our first video we made together in my Los Angeles kitchen - and my late wife, Amy, even makes an appearance at the very end of the video. You'll get a kick out of Mom rockin' the cast iron kettle. I make her Cajun Jambalaya more than any other recipe - it's simply delicious.



Here is a link to her Jambalaya recipe with text and yummy photos.

Mom was always popular with my high school buddies...especially during lunch or dinner time. She brought her Tex-Mex Enchiladas to Cajun Country, and my Louisiana friend Marvin ate them up!

Me, Marvin & Dennis

During my last visit to Louisiana, I had him over when I filmed Mom making Tex-Mex Enchilidas. Marvin liked the Enchiladas so much, he had a flashback to our high school daze.


Make sure to watch my wacky recipe video to the end, that's when our flashback hijinx really get to smoking (wink, nudge.)



Mom takes a star turn with her next video recipe, her popular Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.


It's a traditional Southern dish and its cheap, too. Just chicken, sausage and the Cajun veggie trinity of bell pepper, celery and onion. What gives Gumbo it's unique taste is a dark brown roux, which is flour cooked in oil until chocolate brown.

Just check out the video below - Mom will take you through the steps. And, as an added bonus, my oldest sister Brenda makes a nagging appearance a few minutes in.



Click here to read all about making Mom's homemade Gumbo, from roux to rice!

My Mom's Cajun Potato Salad is the perfect side to her Gumbo and Jambalaya. When she visited me in Los Angeles I got her to do it on camera. I couldn't help but give her a hard time about the recipe. I called it Cajun Mashed Potatoes and she called it Cajun Potato Salad - well, I guess you'll have to watch the video below to see who wins that argument!



I satiate my sweet tooth during visits with Mom. And the best of her pastry delights are Mini-Pecan Pies. If I couldn't make it for the Christmas holiday, then she would send a shoe-boxed size package with a dozen of these tasty pies.

Mom attracts a kitchen-full of hungry relatives, when these pies come hot out of the oven. And it's a miracle they were done right, because this Chef de Shutterbug was shoving a camera in her face (and a hot oven) during the whole procedure. We butted heads a few times, but fortunately, it all turned out fine.

I even came up with a way to dodge the high prices for pecans - so check out the video below to learn my budget secrets.



And click here to see Mom's Mini-Pecan Pies recipe with text and tasty photos.

Mom has lived half her life in Gonzales, Louisiana. My last vacation visit there fell on Christmas, and she pulled out all the stops with a huge holiday spread, that included Pumpkin Pie. I got her on video making it, and it turned out perfect, as you will see below.


The recipe is a traditional one made with simple ingredients. The pumpkin came from a can, but the crust was handmade with wheat flour.



All the easy to follow steps are written out here, and with delish photos, too.

In Louisiana there are fast food drive-thru's serving slushy Daiquiris. I don't know how the heck they get away with it. Every time I go back to visit my Mom and Sis, I am reminded about this quirky Cajun roadside icy, thirst quenching, to-go cup.


Now, there are rules to this. Louisiana has an open container liquor law. So, when you get your Daiquiri, as both Mom and Sis reminded me several times: "Do not put the straw in!" That is a DUI violation if you are stopped. However parched you are, resist plunging the straw through the drink top -- until you get home. Fortunately, Mom's house was less than 5 minutes away.


Check out my last video below, and ride along with my sister Brenda and Mom for a cool beverage on a hot Louisiana summer day.



Happy Birthday Mom -- I love you !


Monday, November 5, 2018

Lobster Egg Roll from Dollar Tree - Cheap$kate Video Review

It's a hid and seek time in my latest Cheap$kate Review for a Dollar Tree Lobster Egg Roll. A Cheap$kate Dining Review video is at the end of this blog post, so be sure to watch it and see how the Lobster Egg Roll rates from 1 to 9, 9 being best.

My latest Deal of the Day is a Lobster Egg Roll by Imperial Garden and a Product of the USA. They are showing up in the refrigerated food section of my local Dollar Tree store.


First off, I sought and could not find any lobster. I did run across a little fake crab though. And I mean very little. But there is a subtle seafood flavor to the filling.


The filling is mainly shredded and sauteed cabbage, which is fine really, most egg rolls are. The cabbage is plentiful and quite tasty. It's cooked soft and seasoned well. Other ingredients include: onion, carrot, garlic and celery. Sesame oil and mirin add extra flavors.

Click on any photo to see larger.

But if lobster is listed as the second or third ingredient, then I was hoping (against my better judgment) that there would be a small piece of lobster or two thrown in. All I tasted was a few minuscule flakes of fake krab. And I tested 3 of these Lobster Egg Rolls.

A small flake of fake crab, or krab.

I am a fan of fake Krab and use it in a tasty Mexican-style Black Bean & Seafood Ceviche and a sushi California Roll. Fake crab, or Krab (pictured below,) is ground and processed white fish, made to look and taste like real crab (click here to read about it) and costs just 2 to 4 bucks per pound, compared to expensive real crab prices.


And I did an autopsy on the Lobster Egg Roll, and put on my reading glasses, too, in search of lobster. If it was there I couldn't see any. Maybe it's ground so small that it just blends in with all the sauteed veggies?


What this Egg Roll lacks in Lobster, it at least makes up in quantity. This is an extra large Egg Roll the size of a fast food burrito, at about 6 inches long, so most will be satisfied and stuffed.


It's a relief that the crunchy wonton skin of the egg roll wrap is tasty - it has that deep-fried-in-oil lusciousness.  Now because I microwaved the Egg Roll the wrap was a little mushy. Next time I would let it reach room temperature and either heat it up in a frying pan or bake it, according to the package directions.


You get a small packet of sweet and sour sauce. It is very good with a mainly pineapple juice flavor with just a little sour vinegar. It goes well with the sauteed veggies and egg roll wrapper.


I thought I would take a chance with a Lobster Egg Roll from the Dollar Tree -- oh, well, I should have know better. Next time I'll just stay with regular pork or veggie egg rolls.

As a basic Egg Roll for a buck, this is an okay Deal of the Day. Where it fails is the non-existent lobster and very little fake crab.


I'm giving this Deal of the Day a double rating. That is, one rating for the seafood filling and another rating for the veggie stuffing - it's a 2fer!

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Imperial Garden Lobster Egg Roll a...? Hmmm,just watch the video below to see how it rates!
Lobster Egg Roll - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes 57 seconds

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween Recipes with Leftover Pumpkin

The Witching Hour fast approaches and the Cheap$kate Recipe Conjurer is ready to cast his spell on your taste buds this Halloween season.


Once, a couple of days after Halloween I scraped off the melted wax from inside our pumpkin. I split the pumpkin in half and roasted them in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half. I'll put the sweetly caramelized, soft orange flesh to good use.

And roasted pumpkin is tasty enough as a side dish, right out of the oven.


Roast pumpkin skin is soft to the touch, and the flesh is easy to scoop out when it's baked done. Let the pieces set for about 5-10 minutes to cool down. Scrape out the cooked pumpkin flesh with a large spoon (discard any skin that may come off with it.) Now you are ready to make a few pumpkin-based recipes.

 

Pumpkins are cheapest this time of year, and they're tasty too, as you will see, so keep on reading and click on any recipe name to visit the original blog post recipe.

Way below 99 cents per pound!

My Rustic Pumpkin and Corn Chowder  is easy to put together. The other ingredients are broth, half and half cream (or milk substitute,) a can of corn, onion, garlic and red or orange bell pepper. Pretty simple, but complex in flavor.


The roasted pumpkin chunks will break apart while cooking in a bath of stock and cream, so there is no need to blend it to mush - as most recipes tell you - hence, my calling this veggie chowder "rustic."


And, if you still have leftover roast pumpkin, I have a Pumpkin alla Fusilli entree you can try out by clicking here.

It's a pasta sauce made with sauteed roast pumpkin, garlic and onion, and sweetened with white wine. Finish the dish with as much Parmesan cheese as you like.

I use coiled fusilli pasta, but you can use any cheap dried pasta you have on hand.

And this is a pasta dish your vegetarian friends and family will love.

I like to finish up with my Mom's Pumpkin Pie recipe video. She makes hers with canned pumpkin, but just imagine how more intense the flavor will be with fresh roasted pumpkin.



You will want to smooth out the pumpkin flesh like mashed potatoes. You can use a potato masher, fork, or lightly blend roasted pumpkin.

I would also add your favorite sweetener to pumpkin. It's up to you how sweet to make it, but you can start with 2 tablespoons worth. Just taste the pumpkin puree until it is sweet enough to suit your taste.This recipe calls for evaporated milk and that will add more sweetness as well.


These comfy entrees will feed your whole family. I hope you saved your pumpkin like I did. So, just cut out the soft and moldy bits, scrap off the wax, and get cooking! 

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