Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Valentine Day Recipes - Videos & Photo Story

Please sit down and have a glass of wine, and how about a tootsie massage? Kindly allow this Amorous Culinarian to hold your hand and guide you through a luscious menu of Valentine Day Recipes.

Well, you are in the right place for a romantic read. If the following recipes look enticing to you then click on any name and you will be directed to my food blog recipe pages filled with tempting, tender prose, and pulse quickening GIFs, photos and video.

Let's set the mood with the most decadently sexy of confections, a Chocolate Covered Cherry. Here, I'll feed it too you, Mon'Amie....

First up is a video of the Amorous Epicurean on the prowl for budget aphrodisiac ingredients to create a perfect romantic dinner date. Allow me adjust your seat cushion -- there, lean back and watch the show.

Shopping for a Romantic Recipe - VIDEO

You will want to start your romantic evening meal with an appetizer - a plump and pleasing Steamed Artichoke is the perfect dish to share with each other. Just swipe a steamed artichoke leaf into my creamy Ginger Mayo Dip and feed the tender petal end to your amour. Your appetite will surely build as you get to the delicately delicious artichoke heart. My Steamed Artichoke appetizer is just a tease.

Cooking & Eating an Artichoke - VIDEO

A lovely Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing looks good on the plate and will impress your true love with its lightness and fresh flavors.
And it's the perfect prelude to the main course.

I think Italian food is the most sexy of cuisines. Tender swirling ropes of pasta sliding through a rich creamy sauce will soften any hardened heart. Click on any recipe name below to see my luscious photos and read my tender prose.

There's nothing like a creamy warm egg yolk stoking the fires of desire, and the Flirty Chef's  Spaghetti alla Carbonara is the perfect mood-setter. With the first bite your date will swoon with pleasure. Sprinkling crumbled bacon over the pasta is gilding the lily, but sometimes you need to go all the way!

In my Spaghetti alla Carbonara Video below I took a couple of cheap shortcuts. I used bacon bits, but you could substitute real bacon or kick it up a notch with sauteed panchetta. Also, fresh shaved parmesan cheese will be more pleasing than the dried brand I used.

And finally, I added a blended raw egg -- for a more romantic presentation, just gently place the egg yolk on a mound of  steaming pasta.

Oh, is it time for another sweet confection? Of course I have more, apple of my eye...

Would you like another glass of wine before you watch my Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe video below? Oh, don't worry about driving - I'll call Uber for you.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe - VIDEO

There, wasn't that edifying? Staying on the creamy theme, I can also recommend my Fettuccine Alfredo.

It's pasta with butter and cream -- simple and direct. You could mix in some fresh steamed veggies like broccoli for color and crunch -- just see how easy it is to do by clicking here on my Veggies in Cream with Pasta.

For something lighter, lose the cream and serve my stripped down pasta recipe of John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Olive Oil and Garlic with Spaghetti. It's a spicy tongue-tingler any tough guy can knock out.

Of course a Latin lover would challenge any Italian Casanova for Lotherio's scepter. And my Mexican Chicken Tinga spicy stew will send chills down the spine and tingle any lady all the way to her toes.

Chicken Tinga - VIDEO

What? Another? You really do have a sweet tooth, well I do to, I think we are two peas in a pod.  Let's share this one...

Your love will fall under a lusty voodoo spell after sipping a couple of  my homemade rum and sugar cane Cuban Mojitos. And if you and your lover are nursing a hangover the next morning, I have a hangover cure: a bowl of Pozole. It's a rich red broth of hominy, chiles and pork.
Cuban Mojito - VIDEO

Black and white, yin and yang -- all inhibitions will drop with the sweet and sour flavors of my vegan Cuban Black Beans served over White Rice.

If you want to channel your inner domestic goddess, then tie on the apron, get out the pot holders, and bring in a hot casserole dish of my luscious Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Cheese to the dining room table. Just check out the tempting short animated video below to see the yummy and gooey details.

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Cheese - VIDEO

I have a recipe that will get any Lady Godiva off her high horse. Let's get tough guy Stanley Kowalski, but with a mushy heart. My chef nephew's Shrimp and Grits will take your date on a one way streetcar to desire. All aboard to check out the video below of two lunkheads hanging out and cooking.

Shrimp & Grits - VIDEO

A close second to the most sensuous of nibbling is a tender fish fillet on rice, or Sushi. Raw seafood will quicken a lovers pulse, and if you chase the sushi down with a few warm cups of sake the temptation to stay the night may be overwhelming.

My Sushi recipes are quite easy to do when you follow my directions. I even have a recipe for those averse to raw fish, a California Roll (in the hay,) that's made with cooked fake krab, creamy avocado and sliced cucumber. Seafood Rolls and Sushi are handheld bites meant to be shared with your true love.

California Roll -VIDEO

Hawaii is the destination for romancing the palate. Make your own romantic Hawaii-themed date night with my exotic Island classic: Lau Lau. It's a banana leaf-wrapped package of deliciousness.

Oh look honeybunch, I have one left. 

The aroma of slow roasting pork will fill the kitchen and dining room, stoking the appetite of desire. Slowly unwrap the package of tender Lau Lau for your beloved. You won't need a Lei of plumeria flowers to steal a kiss when you serve my savory dish. So click here to see the luscious photos and easy-to-follow recipe text. And aloha to love.

Hawaiian-style Lau Lau

Of course, you can't have a romantic dinner date without the sweets. And I have a simply delicious deconstructed dessert that I call Mini-Banana Puddings.

It's the perfect finger food to woo your loved one. All you need is to lay out some vanilla wafers and stack with a spoonful of pudding and banana slices, finally topped with Hersey Chocolate Kiss. You could also drizzle on any sweet topping like: chocolate syrup, caramel, and other favorite candy pieces or sprinkles.

Pssst...don't let your date see this next video. Slip in a Chocolate Covered Cherry in your date's hand and a heart may melt. I got the confections at my local 99c only Store. Go ahead and watch my cheap$kate video review and see how a five count box for 99.99 cents rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best.

Chocolate Covered Cherries - VIDEO

After a ravenous night you will need a replenishing morning meal. And the Don Juan Gourmand's palate-pleasing Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus will satiate any food lover.

It looks good on the plate, but be sure to make plenty, as your sweetheart will ask for seconds!

Another morning after meal is my French-style Omelet. It's a labor of love that you may want to practice making a couple of times to get right. Like lovemaking, the more you do it the better you get! And I have all the right moves a click away.

Here are a few more romantic entrees you can try (just click on any name): Chef Zakk's Tuscan Primavera - Cajun StyleChicken Stroganoff, Julia Child's Crepes SuzetteBaked Chicken with GrapesShepherd's PiePortabella Crab RockefellerCoconut Crusted Fish & Mango SalsaPork BourguignonVegas Eggs BenedictFrench CassouletStuffed Poblano Chiles, and Roasted Mint Chicken.

Finally, it's 99 Shades of Cheap! Allow me to leave you with my most outrageous Valentine Day photo story called:

Click on any photo to see larger.

All items cost 99 cents.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

National Pizza Day

🍕 Hallelujah it's National Pizza Day!🍕  Heck, every day should be National Pizza Day. Check out my pizza celebration below with quick and easy Pizza recipes and a couple reviews of frozen Pizzas -- go ahead, dig in!

Pizza for breakfast? Heck yeah! Or if you are a late breakfast eater like I am, then this goes down deliciously mid-morning after a second cup of joe. So check out my video recipe below for a Quick Pizza with Egg to see how fast it all comes together.
Quick Pizza with Egg - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 1 minutes, 24 seconds.

I'm surprised egg is not used more often on fast food pizza. Like the first slice into a Mexican Huevos Rancheros where the runny egg mixes with salsa and refried beans, or a Southern breakfast of sunny side up eggs with biscuits and gravy, it's all about mixing in a creamy egg yolk. And you have it all with a hot pizza right out of the oven.

It's a rich eating experience hitting all the right savory pleasure points with egg yolk, melty cheese, and pungent basil with tomato sauce.

Using precooked pizza crust speeds up getting your meal to the table on time. Lately I get precooked pizza crust cheaply at the Dollar Tree store a couple blocks away. While not the best pizza crust I've tried, the added toppings help make up for any dough deficiencies. If you find a tasty precooked pizza dough, do leave a comment and tell us all about it.

The trick to using a precooked pizza crust is to not overcook, or it will dry out like a cracker. I cook my Pizza with Egg for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees in a preheated oven. As soon as the whites of the egg are solid and cooked, and the egg yolk still runny, I immediately remove the pizza. Of course, be careful taking that first hot bite!

You could use fresh pizza dough from the deli case too, just back time it, that is, if it takes 20 minutes to cook the dough, then top the pizza with an egg during the last 10 minutes of baking.

If you can't find individual pizza crusts then slice a whole pizza crust to the size you like and work with that. It's easy enough to use the other half later, that is if you can stand the wait. Or make a whole regular size pizza and add 2 or 3 eggs on the toppings.

I find many types of tomato sauce at dollar stores. Everything from portabella mushroom to meat flavored, and chunky eggplant to just plain tomato sauce. There are even jars of "Pizza Sauce."

Get what you like in the can or jar, although I find a jar of tomato sauce easier to refrigerate and spoon from.

I kicked my Quick Pizza with Egg up a notch with fresh leaves of basil. I like to have a basil plant on my windowsill to pull leaves off. They go great in a Thai-style Basil and Chicken Stir Fry (my recipe is a click away here) and mixed into any favorite spaghetti dish.

You only need a few leaves as they are much more pungent than dried basil. But it's okay to sprinkle on a favorite Italian dried herb into any pizza tomato sauce you use.

Mozzarella is the preferred cheese for pizza toppings and I get small packets from 99c only Stores and Dollar Tree stores. For a serving or two, the small packets are a perfect serving size at about 3 to 5 ounces each.

I also find dried parmesan but it's not as good as what you find in a typical grocery deli case.

Eggs aren't as cheap as they used to be, especially if you use cage and hormone free. But I can still find regular eggs for around half a dozen for a buck. Every once in a while they are on sale for a dollar per dozen.

Top the pizza with one egg, or add a couple of them if you like. I like my egg yolks runny, but you can cook it a few minutes more, until similar to a soft boiled texture.

And what's great about making your own mini-pizza is you can add as much cheese and tomato sauce as you like (or can afford.)

Tangy tomato sauce with pungent fresh basil leaves and melty cheese is the perfect platform for a fried egg. And it's so easy to do if you use packaged single serving sizes of pizza crust that are precooked, like I do. Or if you have a leftover slice then break an egg over it, and heat the slice in a toaster oven.

Give my latest cheap$kate recipe a try, I know you will like it -- ciao and buon appetito!

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

You can make a traditional pizza too with this pre-cooked pizza crust. How about a Black Olive and Sausage Pizza?

All the ingredients are super cheap of course, everything from a can of olives to ground breakfast pork.

While breakfast pork is not Italian, you can make it pretty close by mixing in a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs, again easily found at Dollar Tree or the 99c only Stores.

So for about 6 bucks I got enough Dollar Tree ingredients to make 4 individual pizzas (adding dried herbs I have at home,) with leftover pizza sauce, sausage, and plenty of olives.

What's nice is being able to add as much sauce, olives and sausage as I wanted on each pizza. I had just enough mozzarella though, so could not go overboard with that.

I find that may budget premade individual pizzas lacking, mainly they are skimpy with the meat and cheese. Using fresh pork sausage is so much tastier and I can crumble it into any size I like.

I use a pre-cooked crust, so the baking time is only about 10 minutes at 400 degrees, just enough tome to heat all the ingredients and melt the cheese -- that's it!

My first seafood-topped pizza was from a small side-street restaurant during a Rome, Italy vacation. Some may blanch when served calamari, clams and shrimp on a pizza, but how can you resist when it's paired with melted mozzarella and artichoke hearts?
I simplify things by using a 99.99 cent can of chopped clams. One can is enough for three small individual pita pizzas; all other ingredients are often found in local 99c only Stores, including pita bread (although regular local markets often have sales on canned minced clams and shredded mozzarella.

And pita bread is reasonably priced), you get eight pitas per package - talk about a great deal! These pita pizzas are delish with or without clams - make it your own by adding any favorite topping.

These budget pizzas are easy to make and are perfect for a party, or as a late-night cramming snack for all you overextended, financially strapped college students. All you need is a dorm buddy with a toaster oven!

Ingredients (for 3 pita pizzas)
  • 3 pita bread rounds
  • 1 can minced or chopped clams (6.5 oz.)
  • 1 package shredded mozzarella (4 oz.)
  • 3 tbsp. dried parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 small 8 oz. can of tomato sauce or your favorite pasta sauce.
  • 1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts (6oz.) in oil or water, drained.
  • 3 tbsp. of 99.99 cent olive oil blend
  • 1 tsp. dried herbs including - parsley, oregano and sage (a pinch per pita)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layout 3 pita rounds and top each with 3 tbsp. of tomato sauce and a small pinch of dried herbs, then cover with a layer of mozzarella cheese.

 Drain artichoke heart and minced clams; evenly distribute over pita pizzas and add a sprinkle of dried parmesan cheese. Finish with a drizzle (about a tbsp.) of olive oil.

 Bake about 10 minutes -- cheese will melt, while the pita edge becomes crisp and just starts to brown.

And don't forget to mix it up with different toppings for a party. Just set out a plate of salami, cheese, cooked sausage, tomato sauce, olives, and any other favorites.

Time for a couple Pizza Deal of the Day reviews. Many are adequate, and some are even quite tasty, that is if you sprinkle on some extra mozzarella!
Unfortunately this Deal of the Day is bleh. I mean it's not bad, just mediocre. And that goes for both Atkins Stone Fired Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza.

I know it's hard to find a tasty frozen pizza for a buck. One day I'll find what I'm looking for, just not yet.

In general I like Atkins frozen meals that show up in my local 99c only Store's frozen case, like this one a click away, here.  

I first tried the Stone Fired Pepperoni Pizza. This one had 3 slices of pepperoni, not four slices shown on the box cover - better supervision is needed at the Atkins pizza plant.

The main problem was the lack of tomato sauce and the lack of cheese. I guess to keep the price down they cut the cheese when adding pepperoni. I don't need a lot of tomato sauce, but this single serving had the tiniest smear. You would think since cans of tomato sauce are so cheap that they would ladle it on.

I thought the pepperoni slices were fine. Thin but spicy and pungent just like pepperoni should be. 

And the cheese was flavorful with mozzarella and parmesan. Like I said earlier, it could have used more. 

And finally the pizza crust is medium thick and blistered. I prefer thin, but the dough is tasty enough -- Chicago and New York-style crusts have nothing to worry about here. 

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Atkins Stone Fired Pepperoni Pizza 4!

So on to the next Deal of the DayAtkins Stone Fired Cheese Pizza

Now this is more like it. This pizza has plenty of melty, gooey cheese, just the way I like it! It still has too little sauce, but the cheese amount almost makes up for it. 

While not the most flavorful mozzarella and parmesan, it's fine.  I think an extra shaving or two of parmesan cheese would do the trick.

And it has the same crust. I tried frying this frozen pizza on a George Forman-like grill for a better crust, but due to the thick dough it still did not crisp up enough, before the cheese started melting all over the place, and the too little tomato sauce almost evaporated away.

The ingredient list is too long for both pizzas, but that could be preservatives in the pepperoni and cheeses.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Atkins Stone Fired Cheese Pizza 6 ! It's a little better than bleh.

While I shouldn't complain too much for single serving pizzas for a buck, I would recommend the Cheese Pizza over the Pepperoni.

Welcome to the real Hunger Games, with a battle royale between 2 pizza purveyors, Geno's and Celeste. In my latest Deal of the Day it's mini pizzas going mano-a-mano and the winner gets the Chintzy Award for Best Cheap Pie. This is cuisine made for dorm room keg parties and minimum wage workday lunches.

I picked up each single serving pie from the frozen deli case at this 99c only Store for 99.99 cents (or $1.) The pizzas are the perfect size for lunchtime appetites. I got the same toppings of cheese, pepperoni and sausage on both. Normally I like a pizza hot from the oven, but for this meal showdown, I am going with the quicker microwave preparation. -- following the box directions.

There is more tomato sauce and chunkier meat topping -- so you can really taste the Italian sausage and pepperoni. -- Celeste is a winner in the meat category. Also, larger lashings of mozzarella cheese make individual bites varied, as ingredients are larger but spread out more. And the tomato sauce, while plain, binds all the flavors together.

There is a silver crisping plate included.

Italian herbs shine through in the tomato sauce. But the meat toppings are hard to discern, due to the small sizes. While Jeno's has a uniform flavor profile as all the parts are almost blended together in a pleasing way.

Funny, but Jeno's did not have a silver microwave crisper, so I used Celeste's.

I'm sure both single serving pizza would benefit from oven baking, but at my job (and most dorm rooms) there is only a microwave oven. So this is a test in real-world conditions. In both cases, the crust is a little mushy as expected, but they share a pleasing yeasty dough flavor.

Both pies are the same size and thickness. Jeno's looks like it has more toppings, but looks are deceiving. So on a scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give the Chintzy Award to Celeste, with a 6 rating. I preferred the chunkier sausage topping and larger treads of cheese. I also liked the simple tomato sauce flavor.

While Jeno's is the loser, I give them higher marks for a more intense overall Italian herb flavor. And I would buy both again for a cheapie lunch. But I am always on the lookout for a better single serving chintzy pizza. If you know of one, then do leave a comment about it and I'll look for it.
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