Monday, January 30, 2023

National Croissant Day - Videos

I prefer a heated plain Croissant with coffee in the morning. When I have them in bed it's a flakey affair. I usually have the L.A. Times newspaper laid out underneath my chin to catch the crumbs. That's how I like to start National Croissant Day

Croissants can be filled with chocolate or feta cheese and spinach along with many other sweets or savories. Usually associated with the French, Croissants originated in mid 1800s Austria. The pastry is layered with butter so you get a puffy and airy interior with a hard flakey brown exterior. 

While not the same by any means, Flakey Biscuits and Crescent Rolls in the can/cardboard roll give you a rough idea if you have never had a Croissant.

Croissants are now featured on many breakfast menus, even in fast food joints like a Jack in the Box Supreme Croissant made with scrambled eggs, cheese, ham, and bacon, and they are pretty tasty, too. If you are staying at a vacation B & B (Bread and Breakfast) they often serve a Continental Breakfast that includes Croissants. But Croissants are best fresh from a bakery deli case. 

Lately, I get mine cheaply from my local Ralphs supermarket bargain bin. They may be a few days old, but because I like them warm they reheat to an almost fresh state, crunchy on the outside, and buttery soft on the inside. 

I like to buy a container or two at a time as they freeze and defrost fine. Since I get a great deal there is no reason to make my own...maybe one day I'll give it a shot.

I reheat them on the stovetop in a pan, just for a minute on each side. A toaster oven works quite well, too. If I am heating up a few Croissants then I will heat them in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or so - they don't need to brown anymore, just heat through - so check on them frequently just in case - warm to the touch is enough. Of course, they are delicious at room temperature.

I like my Croissants warm and plain, but lately, I've been making stuffed Breakfast Croissant Sandwiches. Check out my Scrambled Egg Croissant Sandwich video below. Nothing to it really just scrambled eggs anyway you like it, then load them into a sliced-open Croissant. I finally heat the Croissant for about a minute on each side.

For my next recipe video, I add cheese on top of the scrambled eggs. I use American cheese, but you can use any favorite cheese. Again, nothing to this simply delicious Scrambled Egg and Cheese Croissant Sandwich, it's so quick and easy to do!


My last Breakfast Croissant Sandwich is the most decadent with not only scrambled egg and cheese but add a slice of ham -- check it out below.


I'll celebrate National Croissant Day any day of the year, and when you try my above Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches you will, too.


Saturday, January 21, 2023

National Squirrel Appreciation Day - Composting & Squirrels Video

  In the acting world, you shy away from performing with children and animals. Why...because, after all those years of distilling your experiences into being spontaneous and natural in front of an audience, there is nothing worse than being upstaged by cuteness.



 In The 99 Cent Chef's latest video you'll see what I mean by watching birds and squirrels upstage the Anthropomorphic Chef.



My neighbor feeds the birds and squirrels every morning. So I got the idea to set out some seeds and have them do the work of making an opening title sequence for me. Only a nut would let squirrels and birds do the typography for my videos...well, I'm that Chintzy Nut.


And my front yard critters will work for 99 cent peanuts and birdseed.


 For the final video scene, it's a squirrel feeding frenzy when The Doctor Doolittle of chefs scatters lettuce in the most unique way for the tree-dwelling rodents.


It's all in the wrist if you want to compost like The 99 Cent Chef. With shovel in hand, the Chintzy Composter shows you a simple method that reduces the garbage you throw away by about half - so that means fewer trips to the dumpster. Plus, if you have a small garden you will never have to buy potting soil again. Just scroll to the end of this post for my Composting Video.

There are many techniques for Composting. Just Google the word and you'll see what I mean. It really just depends on how much you want to deal with. You can start a giant compost pile with everything from veggie table scraps to lawn trimmings, and even newsprint and paper. I live in the city, so composting is best not seen or smelt!


I've come up with an easy-to-do method. Every day my girlfriend and I collect the veggie and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells into a small container with a top. I live in a condo complex with a lot of land per unit and there is an outdoor common area in the corner that is not used. So every 2 to 4 days I take my full compost bin and bury the scraps in a 4 by 4-foot square area. Nobody complains and some of my neighbors offer encouragement, even compliments.

With a minimal amount of compost area to work with, I find it's just enough. I bury my small scrap amounts and a couple of days later dig a new hole. If you roughly chop up the scraps with the shovel and mix in a little dirt, the decomposition is complete in less than 2 weeks.


So by the time I've filled my 4 food square, it's ready for a new round of veggie scraps. (You'll see black nutrient-rich-looking compost clumps as you work your way around.) It takes a month or so until the compost is ready for my garden -- just in time for Fall and Spring planting.


A quick gardening note: composting veggies with seeds, like cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes, means you will get sprouting seedlings popping out all over. I'll prune out most of them as they come up, but I like to keep a few plants just to see how they do. Every year I get some type of squash plant that yields a bouquet of edible squash blossoms -- just type "squash blossoms" into the "Enter Ingredient or Recipe Keyword(s)" search window located at the top right side of this page to see all the recipes I use them for.

The trick is to keep the compost area clean and odorless. Instead of a smelly compost pile, I bury mine. Now, that means I can't compost everything, but it's good enough for big city living.

So, check out my Composting with The 99 Cent Chef video below. As I mentioned earlier, "It's all in the wrist," and I don't just mean how you handle a shovel, as you will see during the video's outrageous ending.

Composting, Squirrels, and the 99 Cent Chef - VIDEO

 Play it here, video runs 3 minutes, 17 seconds.

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

And 99 thanks to Bob McGuinness, and Amy for shooting the Chef.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

National Bagel Day - Recipes

Time to get Schmeared on National Bagel Day!

I never had a Bagel when I lived in Louisiana and Texas as a youth, but now you can get them in coffee shops and larger grocery stores. Bagels are boiled and then baked to create a crunchy surface and chewy interior. They go back to the 17 century in Jewish communities of Poland.

My wife, Linda, grew up a half-hour from New York City, the capital of Bagels. I got a crash course there when we visited her family. 


I never realized the different types of Bagels out there. Just look at the list from an NYC bagel shop. Can't say I really have a favorite, but I do lean toward an Onion Bagel.

Check out our breakfast video below at Ess-a-Bagel restaurant in NYC where they are baked on the premises and serving a dozen varieties of amazing Bagel Sandwiches!

Ess-a-Bagel - Movie

I do love a toasted Bagel in the morning, usually as a sandwich with a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Also, you should try a simple breakfast recipe of Scrambled Eggs & Caramelized Onions served on a slice of toasted Bagel. A Bagel for breakfast gets the job done to get you out the door...or at least out of bed.

In past film commercial shoots the Non-kosher Cameraman /Chef was quick to line up for a catered breakfast; going past the multitude of sugary pastry confections and heading straight for Bagels, cream cheese, Lox (cured salmon,) sliced red onion, and tomato to build a Jewish deli kosher classic. 

You should click here to see my Homemade Lox recipe. It's really easy to do, just coat a thick slice of raw salmon in equal parts of sugar and salt, wrap in plastic, or a glass container, and let it cure in the refrigerator for a couple of days (unwrap and drain liquid  during curing.) Finally, rinse and pat dry, that's it.

Now Lox (mildly brined, cold-cured raw salmon) is too expensive for this Chintzy Chef but canned, or soft packaged cooked salmon is a fine inexpensive substitute. 

Drain and fold it into room-temperature softened cream cheese, lightly mix with some lemon juice and you have a spreadable feast - a Salmon Schmear.

I find small tubs and packages of cream cheese in the 99c only Store cold cases quite often; bagels, as well as small cans of cooked salmon, are usually stocked.

Here's my cheap$kate Salmon Schmear video below. I use salmon from the can or soft pack. Drain and blend it with room-temperature cream cheese. Couldn't be easier and cheaper to do.

Bagels still turn up in bargain bins at chain grocery stores, while 99c only Stores and Dollar Tree have them from time to time, too.

Salmon Schmear is also a delicious party dip, just set out your preferred cracker, pita, or toasted wedges of bagel. This kosher morning starter is a Chef's favorite; right up there with McDonald's decidedly non-kosher sausage and egg, syrup-filled pancake sandwich "McGriddle".

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)

  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese (Philadelphia Cream Cheese is kosher.)
  • 3 oz. small package or can of cooked salmon (Pillar Rock salmon brand is kosher.)
  • Sliced tomato and onion (preferably red onion - for this recipe I used a yellow onion.)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (optional.)
  • Bagels

Directions

Allow cream cheese to reach room temperature. Drain salmon and mix it into cream cheese. You can use less cream cheese for a fishier version.

Add a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice. Mix lightly for a chunky spread.

Toast bagel then add Salmon Schmear with tomato and sliced onion.

A classic Bagel and Cream Cheese is just that. I also like them with a thin slice of onion and a fat slice of tomato. Nothing to it really as my video below will show.

Blueberry Bagels are somewhat controversial. I like them but Linda despises them - won't go near them.


Hey, we have to agree to disagree, I like them toasted with a smear of butter.


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Best Cheap$kate Food Finds of 2022

It's back to basics in this roundup of my Best Cheap$kate Food Finds of 2022. That doesn't mean you won't find a few outrageously one-of-a-kind cheap deals that I crow about. It's just this year prices have reached record heights for my regular finds.

My goto 99c only Store and Dollar Tree have raised prices all around. Dollar Tree prices are now at $1.25 for rock bottom. And the 99c only Store has fewer 99-cent deals that I've grown to depend on -- good luck finding small containers of mushrooms or fresh berries for one dollar, they are now in the $1.99 range. 

Click on any photo to see larger.

But I shouldn't complain as there are still plenty of deals to be had, just not as many. So read on and check out what I came across in 2022. 

My neighborhood Latin market, Superior Grocers, is where I get most of my veggies for less than a dollar per pound, and still a great deal. 

My chain grocer, Ralphs, sells Collard Greens for 99 cents per bunch. And that includes mustard and turnip. I have been adding greens to more of my recipes including Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Black-eyed Peas

I go to Dollar Tree for frozen bags of vegetables in a Stir Fry. I like the frozen Peas & Carrots combo.

My Latin market has dried beans and so does Dollar Tree. I get Pinto Beans for a Mexican-style Beans recipe and Great Northern White Beans for a chicken and sausage French Cassoulet.

The 99c only Store has small boxes of cooked organic beans and they are low in sodium. I would add some to fill out a fresh salad or mash them for my famous Huevos Rancheros recipe. Don't know how much longer they will be carried. As I've said many times, you should shop impulsively there as these deals do not hang around very long.

I can still get Deli Meat for a buck every once in a while. I've found you can freeze deli meat and cheese, so get plenty of it when you see it on sale. With these finds, I can make Deli Sandwiches cheaper than Subway.

I prefer Almond or Oat Milk in my breakfast cereal and regular Milk in my coffee. 

I haven't seen eggs at Dollar Tree lately, maybe they will come back? I do find 4-slice packages of Bacon and small packages of Breakfast Sausage, though. That's enough for Country Gravy with Sausage.

Meat is expensive these days, but I still can get Chicken legs for 99 cents per pound. Just this past Thanksgiving and Christmas whole Turkey was still on sale for way less than a buck a pound. I always get a Turkey to semi-defrost and break down (like in my animated GIF below) for later use in GumboJambalaya, Soup, or roasted Turkey Breast. I hardly ever finish a whole Turkey so I have leftover recipes you can look up here.


I get small tins and packs of Fish for around a buck apiece. Just add the fish to cooked pasta for a quick entree. Frozen small packs of Shrimp are enough for a Stir Fry with veggies and rice. I make a cheap$kate Salmon Spread (schmear) with packs of Salmon.


I often have a can of Fish or Smoked Oysters with crackers and Olives while parked in front of the TV. 


Pasta and cans and jars of Pasta Sauce are plentiful and still cheap. Check out some of my Pasta Entrees here.


Corn and flour Tortillas for Tacos and Burritos are still good deals.


Can't get Hamburger cheaply like I used to, but individual 5.3-ounce Beef Patties with Buns make appearances at my local Dollar Tree. You can still get Hot Dogs and Buns, along with Condiments, too. Here is a link to my favorite Hot Dog Recipes


Well, let's get to the wild finds of the year. I couldn't believe it when I saw such good quality Turkey Bacon. I bought enough to freeze for later, too. And I made a yummy Turkey BLT.


I like a bar of chocolate so I was all over this organic Hershey Bar. There are always plenty of desserts and sweets that show up for the right price.


A Beer Cheese Dip? Sounds good to me.


Organics...you bet!


Meatballs are always welcome in my freezer.


Cauliflower is the new rice.


Keep checking back for my great cheap$kate finds in the new year.
Happy hunting in 2023!


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