Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Cherry Season - Recipes & Reviews

Cherries season is back at 99 cents per pound right about now! They are my fave fruit and I like them plain or .... well, just read on to see what I do with a cheap$kate bag of Cherries.

Just last week I got delicious Cherries for 99c per pound at my 99c only Store. My Superior Grocers, my local Latin market, sells them for 99 cents per pound, but they do sell out so it may take a couple of tries to get them cheaply.

My love affair with Cherries really heated up when I began to visit relatives in Central California and remember getting fresh Cherries from an orchard tree. While Washington produces the most Cherries, California is in a tight race with Oregon for second place. 

You can read the health benefits of fresh Cherries here. I find they are less perishable than strawberries when refrigerated.

The only hindrance to consuming a Cherry is the easily discarded stem and stubbornly buried center seed. Cherries are large enough to slice around the seed, twist and separate, then pry out the seed. It's easy enough to slice around the seed, too.

If you have a metal straw, push it through the opposite end of the stem, and out pops the seed. (You can use a plastic straw as shown in my GIF below, but it will start to buckle after a few cherries.)

The easiest and quickest Cherry Recipe is to just add a few slices to your favorite plain (or mildly flavored) yummy yogurt. 

It's an early morning light breakfast or on a warm afternoon a cool snack for relaxing on the patio. My video below shows how I do it:

Cherries & Yogurt Recipe

I like pancakes in the morning, especially on weekends. I use a generic pancake mix from my 99c only Store and Dollar Tree, and I always add a little fresh fruit, especially cherries. 

You can mix the sliced cherries in the pancake batter or sprinkle on a hot pan first then pour on the batter.
Cherry Pancake Recipe

My Mom has a Cherry Pie to die for. She used to bake 'em up when we were kids, and she makes a mean one even now.

There's nothing better than the smell of a baking fruit pie in the oven and watching the crust brown through the oven window.

And my brother from another daddy, the Swamp Chef, crawled out of the bayou to get Mom to show us how she does it!

This is a 2 crust pie and she uses cherries from the can, that's the old-school way. Of course, I know where to find canned Cherries the cheapest, from the Dollar Tree, of course!

So pull up an extra chair and invite the whole family to watch Mom and the Swamp Chef show you a homemade Cherry Pie Recipe video...oh, boy!

I have a Gay Wedding Cupcake recipe that is part documentary. When Los Angeles allowed same-sex couples to marry for the first time, I was there to celebrate and offer the happy couples a tasty cupcake with a cherry on top. Click here to see my blog post and video of the historic day.

I crave Cherry flavor for sweet Craisins from my local Dollar Tree. I haven't seen it this year...yet.

Craisins are dried cranberries, and they're very similar to grape raisins. And real Cherry juice is used, plus cane sugar for a bit too much sweetness. I can eat them by the handful or just add them to breakfast cereal or hot oatmeal.

And finally, I'm still a fan of sickly-sweet Chocolate Covered Cherries. There is something so pleasing, almost magical, combining a Maraschino Cherry and creme in a shell of chocolate.

And I can still find 5-count boxes for the right price at my local  99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

So if you are wondering how they rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? Just check out my video review right here.

Enjoy Cherry Season the 99 Cent Chef way!

Saturday, June 3, 2023

National Egg Day

How I love eggs! Be they scrambled, fried or boiled, and even raw on a Pasta Carbonara.

And be sure to keep scrolling to check out some of the Hardboiled Chef recipes listed below (click on any recipe name to see the original blog post.)

Eggs are always a great deal. I still get my eggs from a local Dollar Tree for $1.25 for a half-dozen medium eggs. The last couple of years have seen a big increase in egg prices. They are starting to come down to a dozen for $1.97 when on sale.

I make a simply delish Egg Salad. It's the quickest and easiest way to use boiled eggs.

Click on any photo to magnify.

Half a dozen cooked and peeled boiled eggs mixed with a little mayo and some chopped celery will yield a bowlful of creamy deliciousness that can go between 2 toasted slices of bread, as a topping for your favorite salad, or spread on your favorite crackers as appetizers.

Egg Salad Recipe - Video
Play it here. The video runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds. 

Ingredients (about 3 sandwiches)
  • 6 eggs - I used small eggs. Boiled, peeled, and chopped. about 2 cups total after chopping.
  • 1/4 cup mayo - I used light mayo. Okay to add more. Add a teaspoon at a time to reach desired creaminess. Extra-Large eggs will need more mayo.
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped - including leaves on the stalk -- if it comes with them. About 1/2 cup total after chopping.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Water to boil eggs.
*Many recipes call for mustard, I like it without. But you can add it - try a teaspoon of Dijon or regular mustard. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder.

In a pot add eggs and cover with an inch of water. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Just when eggs start to boil, turn off the heat completely and cover the pot with a lid (or plate.) Let sit for 15 minutes. Eggs will continue to cook in the hot water. (Okay to use any favorite boiled egg recipe you may already have.)

Meanwhile chop one stalk of celery, including leaves. Chop finely.

After 15 minutes, remove eggs and rinse off in cold water, so you can peel them without burning your fingers. You can also let them sit in a bowl of cool water with some ice cubes for about 5 minutes.

Now time to bring it all together. Peel, discard shells and chop the eggs. You can add them as you chop to a large bowl. I usually chop the eggs in half, then place them yolk side down on the chopping board and finish slicing.

Add all the chopped eggs to a bowl. Mix in the chopped celery. Finally, scoop in 1/4 cup of mayo. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Try out a small spoonful of Egg Salad. At this point you can add more mayo if you like, a teaspoon at a time to reach desired creaminess.

I find less mayo and mustard (optional) the better, as they easily overpower the mild egg flavor.

A scoop of Egg Salad goes well with your favorite vegetable salad. Egg Salad is a tasty party dip on your favorite chips or crunchy veggie slices. Also, try a spoonful on an avocado half. But I like an Egg Salad Sandwich the best.

This recipe is easy to double using a dozen eggs -- just add another 1/4 cup of mayo and another rib of chopped celery. Keep finished Egg Salad covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Another boiled egg recipe of mine is a silly Devilish Deviled Eggs, which I made one Halloween. It's fun and tasty. Of course, leave out the spicy chili peppers for kid-friendly bites.

I scramble eggs all the time. There are many ways to do this. Do you scramble the eggs in oil or butter? You can pre-scramble the eggs in a bowl then add them to an oiled heated pan. For the quickest and easiest way I just break the eggs into a heated, lightly oiled, non-stick pan. I keep the eggs moving so they cook evenly and I remove them when done, but still slightly moist. I've found you have to go by sight for doneness as the heating temperatures of frying pans are so different. 

Scrambled eggs come in many variations. Jewish delis have a couple of good ones that I've adapted. I get corned beef on sale during St. Patrick's Day, so it's only natural to have some of it sauteed with eggs (even better is pastrami made from corned beef - my Pastrami with Eggs recipe is here.

Small packages and cans of salmon come cheaply and I like to add some of it to my Jewish Breakfast Scramble. And add a dollop of cream cheese for a richer egg scramble. Try it sometime, I know you will like it, too.

One of my earliest published recipes is also one of the quickest and easy to make: Scrambled Eggs and Sundried Tomatoes. I like to keep a jar of pungent dried tomatoes in herbs and oil in the refrigerator, right next to my carton of eggs. For a non-oil, lighter version, use plain sundried tomatoes in a plastic pouch. 

I like scrambled eggs with veggies to make an omelet-like Frittata with pasilla chili, chorizo, potato, and cheese

 Do you have a package of frozen veggies in the freezer accumulating frost, and a crisper drawer full of veggies that are close to being thrown out? Well, just rinse off the frozen veggies and slice off the brown spots from the bell pepper and onion to make my colorful Veggie Frittata. For this photo story recipe I ran out of eggs, but my neighbor Nuno was kind enough to lend me a few. (How's that for a cheap$kate move, free eggs!)

I grew up in the South and was raised on Mexican food for a while. Almost everyone in Texas has tried Migas, which are tortilla pieces scrambled in eggs. And, you can't get simpler than having Refried Beans and Eggs. I didn't think I would like this meal at first, but learned that scrambled eggs elevate any humble ingredient!

Refried Pinto Beans & Scrambled Eggs

I get all types of Mexican chorizo at my local 99c only Store, including beef, pork, and soy (vegetarian.) Mexican chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo, mainly in its texture. Spanish chorizo is hard like salami and Mexican chorizo is soft like ground meat. It's a pungent and flavorful protein that mixes well for Chorizo and Scrambled Eggs. And use it to stuff a Breakfast Taco or Breakfast Burrito.

My Mom has an outrageous Breakfast Tacos with Scrambled Eggs and Curly Fries that will blow your mind and stoke your taste buds -- seeing is believing...below.

Huevos Rancheros are the Eggs Benedict of Mexican cuisine. A corn tortilla with refried beans and a fried egg that's topped with crumbled queso fresco (cheese,) and your favorite salsa, is a decadent and filling way to start the day. Make a batch of this with your family sometime, it's quite easy to do when you follow this cheap$kate's recipe.

Lately, I've been making Breakfast Croissant Sandwiches with Scrambled Eggs. I get my croissants from the grocery bread bargain bin for half price. Since I am heating them up, they will soften and taste almost like fresh ones.

Looking to impress an overnight guest, then serve them my recipe for Eggs Florentine for breakfast. This creamy spinach and egg dish will keep any afterglow going. And if that doesn't work then I have a sensuous Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus.

I often start my day with a Fried Egg Sandwich. I like mine on toasted bread with the addition of lettuce, tomato, and a smear of mayo. I fry an egg until the whites are done but leave the yolk a little runny.

I like a challenge. A favorite breakfast fast food is the classic Egg McMuffin. It's not as cheap as it used to be, so I figured out how to make my own cheaper version. And I share it with you in this homemade video recipe.

I learned to make a classic French-style Cheese Omelette. What's the difference between it and the ones you get at a typical American Diner? Well, it is all about technique, mainly you just soft scramble the eggs in butter, add the cheese, and gently roll the egg to close up the omelette. Most American-style omelets are cooked until dry, while a French omelette is slightly moist in the middle. It's a different way to cook an omelette, and I've grown to love it.

Also, if you have a small patio garden then I have a couple of nutritious recipes to use the freshly picked bounty. An easy veggie to grow is bright green Swiss Chard. Just saute it for a couple of minutes and add it to your favorite omelet recipe, my recipe is here.

Every time I change out the dirt from my teeny garden, seeds sprout willy-nilly. Often it's some kind of squash, that never bears fruit. Oh well, that's okay because the flowers make a great Squash Blossom Omelet.

If you are flush with cash and your ship has come in, then make like a bonus bloated Wall Street con artist and serve up my Billionaire's Crab Omelet. (I even give you a cheap$kate shortcut, just in case the stock market crashes, your government bailout  is rejected, and all your chips have been cashed in.)

Eggs for Dinner? Heck yeah, especially when pizza is on the menu. Break an egg on your favorite homemade or store-bought pizza during the last 10 minutes of oven-baking. A mix of the creamy yolk is a sumptuous topping, so be sure to try my Pizza with Egg recipe sometime.

One of my favorite pasta dishes is a Pasta alla Carbonara. Cook the pasta and add an egg yolk and crumbled browned bacon over hot spaghetti...Mmm, so rich and creamy.

Eggs make a great binder for my sister Denise's Veggie Eggplant Burgers. (You should make sure to check out the video we made that features a wacky shopping spree in my local 99c only Store.) And you want to add a scrambled egg or two when you make my cheap$kate version of Chinese Fried Rice.

Ever make the dessert Crepes Suzette? There's not much to it really, just eggs, flour, milk and to quote Julia Child's nephew: "lots of butter." And who's the famed chef's nephew anyway?

Well, just watch the video to see this outrageous character shopping in the Hollywood Farmer's Market -- then move on to the kitchen to show you how to make a tender and delicate pancake-like dessert.

Booze and eggs go together, especially if you're making my Homemade Eggnog. This video recipe is one of my holiday favorites. You won't believe your eyes when you see my intoxicated antics after imbibing on one Eggnog too many. Be sure to watch this recipe video all the way to the end!

And finally, if you're looking for a bit of levity, well, I have an early morning fried egg comedy video to brighten your day, here.

Whew, that's a lot of ovum riffing, I'm exhausted. You've just scrolled through over 10 years of recipes from my food blog.

And if you want even more egg pictorial poetics then click here to view a fun video.

Cooking with eggs is cheap. While not as inexpensive as they used to be, it's still affordable, especially when you use any of my creative and tasty recipes listed above.
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