Saturday, December 4, 2021

Christmas Recipe - French Fried Onions & Green Bean Casserole

Nothing is fresh in my latest cheapie recipe, and I'm proud of it! Yeah, that's right, The 99 Cent Chef's latest dish is 1960's Betty Crocker Cookbook can opener cuisine.


And this recipe involves the same amount of cooking skill as defrosting a Swanson Frozen TV Dinner. This is classic casserole comfort food that will fit perfectly on your Norman Rockwell Christmas table -- an heirloom recipe to continue handing down.

You can read about the creation of this recipe from the Campbell's Soup archives, just click here.

All you need is a warm oven and a baking dish. And it's so easy to make you could do it blindfolded while nursing a martini.

Serve my French Fried Onions & Green Bean Casserole flanked by sliced turkey with stuffing and cool cranberry sauce. This creamy soul-soothing veggie side is over the top in tastiness.

And all the ingredients are on sale for the holidays at any grocery store. French fried onions are a decadent topping -- while canned green beans are boring until you mix in a can of Campbell's Mushroom Soup.

For a 21 Century version, use fresh green beans that are on sale for a dollar per pound from now until Christmas.


I look forward to a French Fried Onions & Green Bean Casserole every December. I first had it at my in-law's Christmas table; and now my mother-in-law is generous enough to share her recipe (from a brittle, yellowing magazine clip). I hand it over to you, my special holiday visitors, for safe-keeping. Enjoy.

Click on the following links for more holiday feasting recipes, including: Stuffing Cupcakes with Cranberry Frosting and GravyRoasted Brussels SproutsHomemade Egg Nog VideoGreen Beans with AlmondsBacon Wrapped Dates with Cream CheeseMom's Pumpkin Pie,  Mom's Mini-Pecan Pies, Cranberry Orange and Coconut CookiesRoasted Pumpkin with PastaWhiskey Yams with Brown Sugar Pumpkin SeedsRoasted Potatoes with CarrotsHoney Orange Glazed Carrots, and my Sage Roasted Turkey recipe.

Ingredients
  • 2 cans of green beans, drained - I used "French Cut", any type will do.
  • 1 can of mushroom soup - or any "cream" soup you like, include vegan. 
  • 1/2 "soup can" of water - Directions call for a full can of water, but I found it gets too watery.
  • 1 package of French Fried Onions - or from a can.
  • Pepper to taste - I find there is plenty of salt in the packaged ingredients.


Directions
In a casserole dish combine, green beans*, mushroom soup, 1/2 can of water, and half a package of French fried onions. Don't fill the dish all the way to the top, as it may bubble over when hot. Mix well, cover, and place in a 350-degree oven.


Bake for 20 - 30 minutes; since everything is already cooked you are just heating it all up.
Uncover and top with the rest of the French fried onions, and bake another 10-15 minutes.


This is a great dish to bring to any Thanksgiving gathering (best to bring a half package of crunchy fried onions to add at the last minute -- it will be too soggy otherwise).

Hindsight
* Okay to use a package of fresh frozen green beans. Allow to defrost and drain extra liquid, then add to baking dish with other ingredients.

For a fresh green bean version (about a pound),  remove any stems pieces. Chop green beans in half if they are too long. Blanch beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes (or to the desired tenderness). Remove beans and add to the casserole dish. In this case, you can salt to taste, then follow the rest of my directions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Christmas Recipe Month - Green Beans with Almonds

 Check back for a weekly dose of Christmas recipes all this month - it's a digital all-you-can-eat holiday brunch at the Cheap$kate Chateau!

Here's a perfect side dish for your Christmas day feast. Fresh steamed green beans with crunchy almonds pair perfectly, and garlic gives it all a finishing flavor kick. My Green Beans with Almonds travel well, so bring a casserole dish full if you are a guest. Your host will surely place it between the centerpiece roasted turkey and sweet potatoes with marshmallows.



The green beans are steamed for a couple of minutes while some almonds are sauteed with garlic in a frying pan. Finally, spoon out the cooked green beans and mix them all together and serve. I used fresh green beans, but for an easy and cheap substitution, it's okay to use fresh frozen green beans.

Green beans are a little more expensive than dried beans, but they frequently come on sale, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Green beans even show up at my local 99c only Stores.


Nuts have been in the news lately touting their health benefits and as a diet aid to your appetite. Read about it by clicking here. You only need a 2.5-ounce package of almonds (a handful.)  I used unsalted, but it's easy enough to rinse off typical over-salted ones. Again I get my tiny package of almonds from my local 99c only Store. You can use almost any nuts on sale, including peanuts.


Add my Green Beans with Almonds to your Christmas dinner menu, I'm sure the bottom of the bowl will be scrapped by hungry diners looking for seconds.

Ingredients (about 3 servings)
  • 1 pound green beans - stringy stems removed. Okay to use frozen green beans. Canned green beans may be too mushy for this recipe.
  • 1 small package of almonds - I used a 2.5-ounce package. They were unsalted and whole. I chopped each almond in half. If you get salted almonds then do a quick rinse and drain.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - I used chopped garlic from a jar.
  • 1 teaspoon oil - I used olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - optional. For salted almonds leave out the salt in this recipe.


Directions
Rinse off fresh green beans. Cut off stems and any brown, discolored parts. If green beans are very long, it's okay to chop them in half.


You can stem the green beans in a couple cups of water or put them on a steam rack with water. Steam covered for 2 to 4 minutes to desired tenderness. I like them a little crunchy.

If you are using frozen green beans then follow package directions to heat them up - usually, just steam in a 1/4 cup of water for about 3-5 minutes until defrosted and warm. Drain green beans when done.


While green beans are steaming, chop each almond in half (or most of them.) You could buy slivered (pre-cut) almonds, but they are much more expensive.


In a large frying pan add a teaspoon of oil over medium/low heat. Add chopped almonds; stir and lightly toast them for about 2 minutes. You are just heating them through until just starting to brown - you will keep sauteing with garlic and steamed green beans.


When almonds are done turn down the heat to low and add a teaspoon of garlic. Stir as you add the garlic so it doesn't splatter out of the hot pan. Saute about one minute.

Green beans should be done by now, so add them (without the water) to the frying pan with the garlic and almonds. Mix well.


Ready to serve when green beans and almonds are mixed together and warmed through.


Hindsight
If you don't have access to almonds, almost any type of nuts will do. Just remember to rinse off salted nuts. If you use peanuts just call the dish Southern-Style Green Beans with Peanuts, or Chinese Stir-Fry Green Beans with Peanuts -- it'll taste delish with any name.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Recipes

  A cooked Thanksgiving turkey is the gift that keeps on giving. So keep reading to see a few of my recipes that will have you coming back for more succulent turkey leftovers. (And click on any recipe name to be directed to my blog post with all the tasty recipe text and yummy photo illustrations.)


The easiest and quickest use of Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving leftovers is to just pile them between sliced bread or a crusty bread roll. I like mine with stuffing, cranberry sauce, warm gravy and turkey.

Click on any photo to see larger.

But to kick the sandwich up to an Ultimate Turkey Sandwich, just crisp up in the frying pan some of that uneaten soggy turkey skin.


It is a decadent and tasty addition to a classic Turkey Sandwich. Check out my recipe video below for a little culinary decadence.

 

Be for you go cold turkey, try my gobbling spin on a Chicken Salad. I like the crunchy addition of chopped celery in this recipe that you can rename Turkey Salad. It's a short ingredient list and you can use dark and white meat turkey leftovers. And I like my Turkey Salad between 2 slices of a bagel, and you can also put a large scoop on your fave green salad!


A most popular leftover for the coldest days of winter is a warm and soothing Turkey Soup. I hope you saved the poultry carcass?


For the tastiest soup, it's best to boil leftover roasted turkey bones and turkey bits in a pot of seasoned water. Once the water is simmering on low, just step away for an hour, and meanwhile, do a little veggie and leftover turkey chopping to add with strained turkey broth.

My Turkey Soup recipe link here, is based on a typical Chicken Soup, so just substitute with cooked leftover turkey.

My Chicken Soup recipe starts with uncooked chicken, so this Turkey Soup spin-off will be done in less time -- just simmer long enough to tenderize the chopped carrot, onion and celery. This soup is easier with cooked turkey.

If you feel a bit more ambitious, then rustle up a Cajun classic Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but with leftover turkey instead of chicken.


My Mom lives in Louisiana and she sure knows how to do a Gumbo. This is another cold-weather dish. Serve Mom's Turkey and Sausage Gumbo over rice. Again you can reduce the prep time because the leftover turkey is already cooked. And another shortcut is using a pre-made Gumbo base called a roux, that is often stocked in regular grocery stores.

Check out my video below for all the tasty details.



A pot pie is the most soothing of winter meals, and my Turkey Pot Pie made with Thanksgiving leftovers will have you returning for seconds and thirds!


For my simple recipe, I used a grocery store frozen pie crust that covers the leftovers. And all you do is load up a deep baking dish like you would a lasagna - layering mashed potatoes or yams, veggies, stuffing, turkey and gravy.


My video below lays it on thick, that is, with plenty of delish leftovers.

 

You had Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving and didn't get enough of the sweet stuff? Well if you had an overabundance of baked or boiled sweet potato, then bake a Sweet Potato Pie! 


This Southern and Soul Food classic is really simple to do and my Mom has her Pumpkin Pie recipe that is easily made with cooked leftover sweet potatoes, and it's a click away right here.



I hope you had a great socially distanced gathering of family and some friends for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving. And do check back for more 99 cent cheap$kate deliciousness.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup!

  It's the busiest and overwhelming cooking day -- well don't fret, The 99 Cent Chef wants to take the stress out and make it a bit easier for you. It's all here, my holiday recipes, along with a cupboard full of money-saving tips for you during this Thanksgiving season.

Read on and click on any highlighted recipe name to gobble up my original blog post for the recipe, illustrated with yummy photos, fun video, and tasty text.


Below is everything you need to serve a sumptuous and cost-saving dinner table feast. And make sure you bookmark this page because Christmas is right around the corner -- yikes!

First up, get all your goodies this week when every local market and chain grocery stores have the deepest cuts in produce prices. If you live in Los Angeles, the Grinchiest Chef would recommend getting fruits and veggies at any Superior Grocers -- just click here to see the great deals to be had, it's incredible.

They cater to Latin clientele, but everyone is welcome. If you have an ethnic market nearby, do give them a visit -- you'll be surprised what you may find on sale.


In the recent past my corner Latin market, Superior Grocers, have sold yams at 5 pounds for 99 cents, russet potatoes 5 pounds for 99 cents, yellow onions at 7 pounds for 99 cents, Brussel sprouts 2 pounds for 99 cents, green beans for 99 cents per pound, and acorn squash 2 pounds for 99 cents - oh boy!


Turkey is on sale this week at chain grocery stores and local markets, so make sure to read the fine print, usually a $25 purchase is necessary to get a big bird.


I'm sure there are turkey deals to be had wherever you are during the holiday, so this week check out those grocery flyers in the mail before you give them the heave-ho.

The main event is the centerpiece, a fat turkey overloaded with stuffing. Now, wouldn't it be great if you could get away with just setting out a stack of heated Banquet Turkey Dinners? That really is the cheapest way to go.

Well I know that won't fly, but one year in my bachelor days I had one. My wacky review of this frozen fiasco poultry dinner is a click away here.

But seriously, I posted my version of a Turkey with Stuffing recipe, and click here to read all about it. My blog post also features my Mother-in-law's decedent Sausage Stuffing. I shot a video below for you, and it's done in my movie technique of stop-motion animation to boot.

 
Often you will find a whole turkey too much to handle, or your guest list is just yourself and maybe one or two other guests. In that case, it is easy and often cheaper to bake a whole Turkey Breast.


Last time I cooked a Turkey Breast it took about 2 hours at 350 degrees to roast. I simply seasoned it with salt and pepper, leaving it uncovered. You can also add some herbs, or do it your own family recipe way.

Check with a thermometer for a reading of about 155 degrees. I usually just slice into a thick part of the Turkey Breast and make sure there are no pink juices. And when done, remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes so juices settle back in the meat. Click here to see my recipe video, photos, and tasty text. 


The same goes for Turkey Legs. They may cook a little quicker though, so start checking for doneness after an hour and a half. For a change of pace, I just made a tasty recipe called Turkey Carnitas. I just cover and braise a couple of Turkey Legs for about 2 to 3 hours in water with herbs. You can see how I do it in the video below.

  
My recipes are stuffed with cooking tips and cheap shopping sources like my local 99c only Store that carries boxes of stuffing and Hormel Bacon & Pork Sausage Links for, you guessed it, 99.99 cents. Right now they are selling everything but the bird!


And my local Dollar Tree has stepped up their holiday food deals as well.

Click on any photo to see larger

Come take a walk on the wild sides with The 99 Cent Rebel With a Cause Chef. And you can be sure the following links will go over big with your hungry family and visiting neighbors. You've never seen stuffing made like this: Stuffing Cupcakes with Cranberry Topping & Gravy.

To get the step-by-step directions for this most deliciously unique savory and sweet stuffing recipe click here. It's easy and quick to make, all you need (to borrow) is a cupcake pan. Stuffing Cupcakes are portable for an office party or a potluck dinner. If you are like me, stuffing, next to the roasted turkey, is the main event for my ravenous taste buds.

Stuffing Cupcakes

Make your own Homemade Cranberry Sauce by simmering two cups of fresh cranberries in a simple sweet syrup. My original recipe uses fresh strawberries but can use almost any fresh fruit, including cranberries.


Everyone knows how to make Mashed Potatoes, right? Well if you are a newbie to pulverizing tubers, I got your back! And you gotta have gravy to go with Mashed Potatoes. My Turkey with Dressing link has a Homemade Gravy recipe, too.

Mashed Potatoes

Boring Creamed Spinach is a typical Thanksgiving side, but I have a Hindi twist. One of my favorite India restaurant side dishes is Saag Paneer, which is just like creamed spinach, but with cheese and the added spice punch of ground cumin. My version is made with easy-to-get (and lower fat) cottage cheese instead of Indian Paneer (cheese) and Ghee (butter). Once you and your family try my cheesy and creamy Saag Paneer, you won't go back to Creamed Spinach. And the recipe is a click away, here.

If you are looking for traditional sides I have the old-school French Fried Onions and Green Bean Casserole, which is right out of the 1960s themed Mad Men TV series. Yeah, all you need is a can opener for the green beans and Campbell's Mushroom Soup. This is a classic recipe where Betty Crocker has it right -- creamy, crunchy and so satisfying. Click here to see the Cheap$kate Chef's version.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts are edible Christmas ornaments that you can add to the oven during the last 30 minutes of your roasting turkey. Just drizzle them with oil and dust with salt and pepper. It couldn't be simpler to do and here is my stop motion animated video to prove it.

 
Of course, I have some more sides for you, just click on any of the following names: Green Beans with Almonds,  Whiskey Yams with Brown Sugar Pumpkin SeedsSquash, Tomatoes and OnionsBrussels Sprouts in Sour CreamRoasted Potatoes with CarrotsHoney Orange Glazed CarrotsCollard Greens with MolassesAsparagus and Red Potato Salad,  Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy DressingFresh Fruit Salad.

Green Beans & Almonds

And don't forget the appetizers like Warm Artichoke DipBlack Olive Tapenade with Crostinis,  Bacon Wrapped Dates with Cream Cheese, and Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Salami.

Warm Artichoke Dip

And if that isn't enough -- it's dessert time! After you push yourself away from the table and waddle to the couch to catch a holiday game on the TV, be sure to grab a handful of  my late wife's Cranberry Orange and Coconut Cookies (click on the name for the recipe.)


But you can't do better than desserts made by Mom. They know what makes a family happy and mine has been generous enough to show me how she does it. Here are a couple of videos I made of her homemade Pumpkin and Mini Pecan Pies.

Now is the time to hit up your local grocery for cans of pumpkin or, if you are cheap like me, less expensive cans of sweet potato. You can use either, as the taste is almost identically delicious (that is, when canned yams are in a sweet syrup.)


Read the recipe details of my Mom's luscious Pumpkin Pie by clicking here. And watch the video below to see how she does it. 

 
Every Thanksgiving holiday I eagerly await a package from Mom of her famous Mini Pecan Pies. A dozen of them travel well inside a shoebox from Louisiana to Los Angeles. These small pies are the tastiest present one can receive, and I got her recipe for you -- all you have to do is click here.


This is a great Thanksgiving party dessert, but make sure to give your host a few, as they will disappear way too fast. If you don't believe me, just check out the video I made of Mom setting out a plateful -- and watch my relatives devour them in no time flat! (By the way, I think you will be impressed with how the Chintzy Chef gets around paying normally exorbitant pecan prices.)

 
I hope you all have a great holiday. Keep checking back here for more budget recipes and loads of new food videos.

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