Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Double Deal Of The Day - Stuffed Pastas & Blog Talk Radio Interview

Thanks to Annie & Burl of blogtalkradio for being the perfect host to The 99 Cent Chef last night -- what a fun time. Click here to hear all about it. The Chef's call is taken about 15 minutes into the show and lasts half an hour. Look for the player icon on the right side to pause/play. Or just hit play button below:

Listen to internet radio with Annie and Burl Live on Blog Talk Radio

Italian gold today: the great finds of cheese tortelloni in a tomato cream sauce and mushroom ravioli in a mushroom cream sauce; both frozen entrees made by Bertolli, and each sell for 99.99 cents. Now, a bag of uncooked plain pasta will go for a buck on sale, but a chance to get luscious ricotta cheese-filled pastas with fresh (not dried) flecks of parsley in intensely flavored sauces, and in one pound bags, does not come around enough for this chintzy chef.

The Chef microwaved a serving of each type at his free-lance job yesterday. The stove top is always preferable, but these frozen entrees held up quite well, as the sauce kept the stuffed pasta moist.

First is Mushroom Ravioli in a Mushroom Cream Sauce. The raviolis are plump, not overcooked, and filled with beige-flecked mushroom and ricotta cheese. The savory sauce is intensely fungi flavored with a light milk and cheese combination. But you may have to dig around in the bag to find frozen mushroom slices if you are spreading out the bag over a few servings.

Next up is the Chef's favorite, Cheese Tortelloni in a Tomato Cream Sauce. Combining cream and tomato makes for a tasty and complex sauce. Bertolli gets the balance right -- one does not overpower the other -- and the fat tortellonis have a creamy, sweet ricotta filling. It's a great vegetarian meal.

Now, the Chef does not pay enough attention to the calorie content (sorry ladies), but one of his female workmates paused, grabbed the bag and asked: "How many calories does this bag have?" (reading the back label) "Why I could eat a whole bag, no problem!" I guess that means it's low in calories and fat.

Both Deals of the Day will have your family or friends looking over your shoulder, as the fragrant flavors of cream and real fresh frozen herbs fill the kitchen after a few minutes of heating in the pan. You can easily get a couple of servings per bag. Check out your local 99c only Store for these great Deals of the Day, and definitely get a few 1 lb. bags. This is the store
I picked mine up from. On the Chef's deliciousness scale of 1 to 9, both stuffed pastas get a solid 9!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 99 Cent Chef's 2009 Oscar Special - Video

For your consideration, The 99 Cent Chef offers multiple Oscar performances tackling the "Best Actor" roles of 2008, and pairing each with an Oscar-worthy entree!

First up the Chef tackles the Shakespearean tragedy of our 37th President in "Frost/Nixon" with a performance that will make the other nominees green with envy; then breaks the law in the kitchen with a felonious "recalled" sandwich deserving of impeachment.

Next, masticating in reverse never looked so good as the Chef chews up the scenery in"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", and serves the classic New Orleans cajun specialty "Red Beans and Rice".

You will not soon forget the Chef's naked performance (at least from the waist up) as "The Wrestler", followed by an all-American breakfast scene that will melt your heart.

Celebrate with "Milk" and once you have seen the Chef's performance you may want to shove him back into the closet and throw away the key!

And finally, the Chef rocks the house with bongo grooves in "The Visitor" and drums up a tasty "African Spiced Water Buffalo Wings" entree.

Which recipe/performance is worthy of a Golden Whisk? You do not have to be an Academy member to vote; just leave a comment.

To re-familiarize yourself with the Best Actor nominees, click on a title to view the trailers of: "Frost Nixon" with Frank Langella;"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with Brad Pitt; "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke; "Milk" with Sean Penn; and "The Visitor" with Richard Jenkins.

2009 Oscar Special - Video

Play it here. The video runs 5 minutes 19 seconds.

99 thanks to Pete Handelman (clever voice-over work Pete!) and Amy (nice camerawork, babe) for their invaluable contributions. Be sure to check out Pete's funny videos by clicking here.
Also, extra thanks to Nuno Pinheira for loaning out his fine haberdashery. You can see the dapper Nuno in "My 99 Cent Dinner With Nuno" video by clicking here.

Some 99.99 cents or less ingredients used in the video include eggs, Vienna sausages, kidney beans, rice, chicken legs, and peanut butter.

Go here to embed or view the video at youtube.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mini-Banana Puddings

Mom's banana pudding is an early 99 Cent Chef sweet tooth memory. This dessert seemed so intricately handmade; a dessert of geometric design: evenly sliced circles of banana fanned out over a layer of crunchy round vanilla wafers and topped with sweet pudding. It is actually simple to build and makes a great party finishing dessert; just use The 99 Cent Chef's mini-banana pudding recipe.

All ingredients are found in 99c only Stores, but are inexpensive at any market. This dish is a real budget stretcher as four bananas, one box of vanilla wafers and a can of pudding will feed a dozen Oscar watching revelers! Of course, guest will eat them by the handful, so you could need more? The trick is to put a dollop of pudding on the flat side of the wafer and top with a banana slice; this makes it easy for your guest to pick it up. Try drizzling mini-banana puddings with chocolate syrup, or spray whipped cream on top with a Hershey Chocolate Kiss; how about getting trendy-restaurant-hip with a salty/sweet sprinkle of bacon bits!

The Chef will be serving Pita Pizzas and Mini-Banana Puddings at his Oscar viewing party this year; will you?

Ingredients (about 50 hors d'oeuvres)
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 large 28oz. can of 99.99 cent vanilla creme pie filling (or package of instant pudding - follow box directions)
  • 1 box of 99.99 cent vanilla wafers
  • Extra toppings: whipped cream, caramel, chocolate syrup, a Hershey Kiss, or a sprinkling of bacon bits
Lay out vanilla wafers, flat side up, and add a dollop of vanilla or butterscotch pudding then top with a slice of banana. 

Extra toppings include whipped cream, chocolate sryup, caramel or a Hershey Kiss, and bacon bits (for Hershey Kiss or bacon bits, change stacking order and put pudding on top, so bacon bits and chocolate candy will stick).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pita Pizza -- With Clams & Artichoke Hearts

Pita Pizzas are soon to be a 99 Cent Chef budget classic. Having lived in or around various Armenian/Russian/Middle Eastern enclaves around town, frequenting East Hollywood's Little Armenia mom and pop delis and the neighborhood shish kabob shops of Glendale, this Chef has grown to love the versatile pocket pita.

They stuff nicely with your favorite tuna, chicken or egg salad; they are indispensable when tearing apart a roasted bird from Zankou Chicken; and are now the platform for the Chef's new culinary creation -- Pita Pizza.

Use pita bread rounds topped with tomato sauce, cheese, clams and artichoke hearts for fast and delicious mini-pizzas. If you like thin crust pizzas, high-heat baked pita bread makes a lightweight crunchy cracker-tasting crust for pizza toppings.

The 99 Cent Chef likes to mix it up with his toppings, adding anything from marinated jars of sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, artichoke hearts, roasted/sauteed zucchini, and eggplant, to Genoa salami, Italian sausage, cheese, a fried egg - and even chopped clams.

The Chef's 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?

The Chef simplifies 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
  • 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.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Corn Dog Party Redux - Video

"Extras" menu selections are the first thing I look for in a Netflix movie dvd rental. Movie trailers, deleted scenes, an on-set documentary, and especially the audio commentary from the director or cast.

The Cheap$kate Chef goes one better with an audio and video running commentary from his siblings and Mom, as they watch, for the first time, "Corn Dog Party!" This video was shot during a familial visit to Austin, Texas in November.

Check out the Chef's extra special featurette, as his sisters, Denise and Brenda, and Mom watch in amusement and astonishment. See my siblings throw zingers the Chef's way, while mom is ever supportive.

Not to be missed, the Chef presents "Corn Dog Party Redux". If you haven't seen the original "Corn Dog Party!", check it out below, then watch the special commentary featurette.

Corn Dog Party Redux, Commentary - Video
Play it here. The video runs 4 minutes, 29 seconds.

The Original "Corn Dog Party!" - Video

Play it here. The video runs 4 minutes.

For recipe and original Corn Dog post click here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Papaya Thai Fried Rice

Papaya is readily available at one of the Chef's favorite local Latin markets. Papayas are quite large, so along with a fresh drink using blended papaya and 99.99 cent carbonated water flavored with lime or lemon, the Chef came up with a Thai stir-fry rice dish to use up the rest of this mildly sweet Central American tropical fruit. Just peel and seed two cups of papaya and add it to sauteed Oriental flavored ground turkey or chicken, cooked white or brown rice, and a scrambled egg. It is a dish more subtly flavored than a typical Thai pineapple fried rice.

1 lb. 99.99 cent ground turkey or chicken- - substitutions include sliced chicken or pork
2 cups of peeled cubed papaya
1/4 cup each ketchup, oyster sauce, soy sauce
1/2 cup each chopped onion and bell pepper (optional)
4 cups of cooked white or brown rice
1 tbsp. of garlic - fresh or from jar
1 large egg
2 tbsps. of oil
Scramble one egg in tsp. of oil and set aside. Stir fry ground turkey, garlic, ketchup, oyster sauce and soy sauce in one tbsp. of oil
until turkey is done, 5 to 10 minutes and set aside. Mix rice, veggies and papaya and heat through for 5 minutes. Mix in meat and eggs. Ready to serve.

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