Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Recipes - Touchdown!

Head to the end zone for a long pass of recipes from The Culinary Quarterback. Are you ready for Superbowl Sunday? The Fried Pig Skin Lovin' Chef has some tasty football food that will leave enough green in your wallet to buy an extra keg for your tailgate party. Just click on any recipe name to see what I mean. There are no fumbles in this recipe list!

Fans will take a half-time break and huddle around your cast iron pot of my fragrant and spicy Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya and Cajun Gumbo. Or, go straight up the middle with a tray of BBQ Pulled Pork sammies. Weave through the living room backfield with a pile of Mexican Carnitas Tacos (slow-cooked pork) and you'll be lucky to make it through without being sacked!

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

For my visitors who have never been to the Seattle Seahawks home field, take a few minutes to view my travelogue & wacky video diaries from my cooking episode for Seattle's Public Television -- plus, here are a couple recipes for Washington state's main seafood export: Salmon Olympia and budget Salmon Burgers.

Mom's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

While everyone's watching the pre-game show send in any of my delicious sideline sides, including: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Tomato & Basil Bruschetta, Deviled Eggs, Portabella Mushroom Fries, Sweet Fried Plantains, Ceviche with Avocado and Black Beans, and Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.

East Coast viewers will eat up my riff on a Lobster Roll -- a cheaper Scallop Roll. West Coast locals know an LA Street Dog will not get flagged. And, everyone in-between will huddle around sandwich plates of gooey, cheesy Patty Melts, hearty Meatball Sub, BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches, Homemade Deli Pastrami, Falafel Pitas, and steaming Sloppy Joe's.

Scallop Roll

If you're looking for one pot meals, so you don't miss any action on the field, just check out my Pork Bourguignon, French Cassoulet, Mr. Patti's Red Beans & Rice, Baked Pasta with Cheese and Cauliflower, Chinese Fried Rice, Baked Lasagna with Ground Chicken, Shepherd's Pie, or Sausage & Sauerkraut with Beer recipes.

Baked Lasagna with Ground Chicken

 Looking for a sneak-play recipe? How about a different twist on Buffalo Wings with my African Spiced Water Buffalo Wings? This original recipe features chicken legs, but you can substitute wings. The Cheap$kate Chef's Turkey & Black Beans Chili recipe will add extra points on your scoreboard for flavor. Make it spicy, but be sure to have an ice chest full of brews for all your bench-warming guests. And don't forget to send in from The Whisk Welding Coach a most versatile of plated plays, the Pita Pizza -- a varied list of toppings you can use would fill the coaches chalkboard.

Pita Pizza

Tired of stale, soggy stadium hot dogs? I have a great and easy Corn Dog Recipe made with Vienna sausages -- but you can use regular wieners. There will be no fumbles as your hungry guests dip these crunchy coated pig skins into my tasty honey-mustard sauce. Since you have the fryer going you might as well make a batch of my Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. They're as light and airy as the Goodyear blimp.

So just click on any of my tasty treat names above and watch an instant reply of recipes from my blog. Your guest will be cheering you on -- from their cheap seats!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Italian Sausage Primavera by Atkins - Deal of the Day

I'll admit to not being familiar with the Atkins diet, but if this is a typical meal then sign me up. You will not be disappointed in my latest Deal of the Day.

I've purchased my share of cheap frozen fare and it can be hit or miss. So if I luck out and find a tasty frozen dinner for a buck, then I have to share it with you, my visitors. I've never seen an Atkins diet frozen dinner until I ran across Italian Sausage Primavera at my local 99c only Store. I took a chance and bought 3 of them -- it  was a good purchase, and I'll be back for more (if they remain in stock.)

I though there would be pasta, but it's just Italian sausage and a cream sauce with veggies. But that's okay - you could always cook up some pasta to add, and break your diet. (The Atkins Diet is built on limiting your intake of carbohydrates - click here to read all about it.)

First off, you get a lot of Italian sausage in this 9 ounce package, at least a dozen slices. The sausage has a mild spice, but I think most diners would barely notice any heat. The sausage is well seasoned and pungent with Italian spices. The meat is firm, not crumbly like some types. I was relieved how delectable the Italian sausage tasted.

What I especially enjoyed was the large chunks of cauliflower and green beans. Most frozen dinners have veggies chopped into an unrecognizable hot mess. I didn't notice much spinach though, but that is not a problem as there were plenty of other veggies. The cauliflower florets and green beans were firm enough, but still cooked tender.

You also get a lot of creamy red pepper sauce. You may want to stir the ingredients halfway through cooking so the sauce keeps the sausage moist. The sauce has a pleasing Parmesan and Romano cheese intensity. The red pepper flavor is more like bell pepper -- I liked it. (And since there is plenty of sauce, add a serving of cooked pasta, rice or a fave carb -- heck with the Atkins Diet!)

The ingredient list is short for a frozen dinner. And if you are a carb-counter then click on the photo below and check out the Nutrition Facts.

So on my Deal of the Day rating scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Italian Sausage Primavera by Atkins a perfect 9 ! It's so good you'll sop up every last drop of red pepper cream sauce.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2013 Video Highlights Reel

Grab a favorite beverage, sit down, and sink your eye teeth into some of my tastiest video clips from last year. The Cheap$kate Culinary Cineaste made over 20 videos in 2013. So just scroll down to the end of this post to see the outrageous video highlights.

As usual there is a cupboard full of recipe videos. One from my nephew, Cajun Chef Matt, and the other by my tie-dye wearing sister from Austin, Denise. Chef Matt shows you how to make a strawberry vinaigrette and coat a fish fillet with pecans, while my sister goes vegetarian with an Eggplant Burger recipe.

And The Racontour of Recipes has a slurry of stop motion animated videos -- from the humble Black-eyed Peas to a Mexican taco truck favorite, slow cooked pork Carnitas. These videos are a lot of fun to watch (and make as well,) but manage to get all the recipe details right.

This Kitchen Commando does not live by recipes alone. I got to get out and explore the vast culinary landscape of Los Angeles. And you have a front passenger seat when I hit the town, finding frugal dining destinations: from 99 Cent Fish Tacos in East LA, to the latest Top Chef-run prix fixe hot spot on the Westside.

While I've been reviewing eateries from the beginning of my food blogging, this year it all came together in my Cheap$kate Dining series of videos. The format is simple, all I do is shoot an exterior of the joint, followed by closeup shots of the food, and finally I rate the meal with a 1 to 9 number, 9 being best.

You'll be surprised to know that the best al pastor tacos in Los Angeles comes from a Taco Truck, while the worst fried chicken is from a truck by Top Chef and The Taste judge Ludo Lefebvre! (You've got to check out my Fried Chicken Ludo Truck video, where after taking a rating hit, Chef Ludo gets in the last word - let's just say you may never look at a billboard the same way again!)

Be sure to check out all the videos (over 175 so far) on my YouTube channel (click here,) or on my food blog. (Scroll down the right side to see my Video headings and click on any text, under: Recipes, Restaurant Reviews, Comedy Shorts and Documentaries.

It's been a productive year so far, and I have a slew of new videos in various stages of completion, that I know you will enjoy. Be sure to lookout for my upcoming special Sushi Recipe Video Series -- I know, that sounds impossible, but The Cunning Cuisinier always finds a way around financial roadblocks.

And my Cajun family is back! I just spent a week shooting video in Gonzales, Louisiana. My Mom, just shy of 80 years old, is as feisty as ever in the kitchen -- along with all the nieces, nephews, grandkids and siblings dropping by to create a ruckus. Plus, as a special treat, I introduce a new culinary character, The 99 Cent Swamp Chef.

If that isn't enough to keep you coming back, I don't know what is!

2013 Video Highlights Reel -VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 6 minutes, 21 seconds.

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

My foodblog videos would be anemic and boring without the help of my friends, family and the cooperation of local eateries -- a big 99 thanks!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Vegetarian Mushroom Soup

Pungent and earthy, my first cheap$kate recipe of the year, Vegetarian Mushroom Soup, will likely be added to my Top 9 Recipes of 2014, it's that good!

There's not much to it really, just a whole chopped onion and some garlic, in a vegetable broth with some sauteed mushrooms. And it doesn't take that long to cook; the whole recipe can be made in about an hour.

I used 3 types of fresh mushrooms: portabella, crimini, and regular white button. You can use dried mushrooms, too. If you don't have access to a variety of mushroom then just use easy-to-find white button mushrooms. I get my mushrooms in 5 ounce packages from my local 99c only Stores. And sometimes all three types are all stocked at once.

To keep this recipe vegetarian I used veggie stock, but you can use any type you like and find on sale. You need about 5 cups of liquid for the recipe. I used a can of stock (about 2 cups) plus 3 cups of water. I'm too cheap to use all stock, so I added water, but you can use more stock if you are flush with cash. (I found that sauteing mushrooms releases an intense flavor that supplements any amount of water you might add.)

If you liked my French Onion Soup from a few years back (click here,) then you must try out my future Top 9 Recipe, Vegetarian Mushroom Soup. Especially comforting on a cold winter's night.

  • 3 small packages of mushrooms - I used 5 ounce packages of: white button, portabella, and brown crimini. Okay to use one type of mushroom or any combination. For dry mushrooms: bring a small pot of water to a boil, turn off, and soak mushrooms for 30 minutes.
  • 14.5 ounces vegetable broth - or any favorite broth. Or 2 bouillon cubes (in 5 cup of water total.) I used a 14.5 ounce can of vegetable stock (about 2 cups).
  • 1 onion - white or yellow, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic - fresh or from jar.
  • 3 cups of water - or more broth.
  • 1/2 cup of wine - optional, I used white wine.
  • 1 teaspoon favorite herbs - optional. Fresh or dried. I used fresh sage and oregano.
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the type of broth you use, the soup may not need any salt - taste broth first before adding salt.

Chop one whole onion. Saute in pot with tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cook and stir onions until soft and starting to caramelize, about 5-10 minutes.

Mince a tablespoon of garlic, okay to use chopped garlic from a jar. Add to onions and cook another minute.

Clean mushrooms if needed. (Wipe off dirt with a soft brush or dishrag.) For small button mushroom slice in half - I like about a quarter inch thickness. Pre-cut mushroom are a bit thin, but still okay.

For larger portabella mushroom twist out stems and set aside; you will slice those up to use in soup. Hold mushroom cap with black inside "gills" facing you. Take a spoon and lightly scrape out the black gills and discard. Gently cupping the mushroom cap in your hand will keep it from breaking apart as you remove the gills. Sometimes the cap will break anyway, but that's okay as you will be slicing it up.

You can leave the gills on if you like, it's just my preference to remove them.

Once the portabella mushrooms are cleaned, then slice them up, again I like thick slices. For variety, I slice the caps into long strips, since the button mushrooms are small enough.

Once onions are cooked and starting to caramelize stir in the mushrooms. Cook them another 5 minutes until soft. Carefully stir them, as the larger portabella slices are easy to break. I may look like a lot of mushrooms but they quickly shrink.

Finally add broth (about 2 cups) and 3 cups of water (or more broth.) Add white wine, optional.

Stir ingredients to mix and add salt and pepper to taste. You may need less salt if you use bouillon cubes or if the broth is salty. Taste soup as you season it.

Now, you are cooking the soup uncovered to reduce it. This will intensify the mushroom broth. Low simmer about 30-45 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by a third. Stir occasionally. Should the soup reduce too much, then add a little broth or water, and heat through.

You can add less onion, any amount really. Same with garlic.

I left the mushroom slices large, but you could cut them in smaller pieces or thinner slices.

For extra lusciousness stir in a cup of cream, or add a dollop of sour cream before serving. And heat soup back up.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Best 99c only Store Food Finds of 2013

2014 has arrived and here is another of the Chintziest Hunter Gatherer's year end Top 9 Lists, The Best 99c only Store Food Finds of 2013.

Come cruise the aisles for healthy and unique food finds from my favorite Los Angeles budget market, the 99c only Store. This has been a fruitful year where I've found everything from heirloom tomatoes to organic pumpkin puree.

The 99c only Store stock shelves are especially well represented by canned and jarred veggies. Looking for Artichoke or Piquillo Pepper Bruschetta for 99.99 cents (okay, it cost a dollar) that would normally cost major bucks at any specialty food store? I always get large jars of Minced Garlic, but when I saw the same size jar of Ginger Paste, I picked up a couple for future stir fry recipes.


Some finds sound too good (or weird) to be true. How about Kimchi Tortilla Chips or Sesame Street "Organic Letter of the Day Cookies"?  Hmmm, I think I'll take a pass on the first one, while the "Organic," in Letter of the Day Cookies, must be quite a stretch of the meaning.

I don't know if you have heard the news of our local Sriracha hot sauce plant closing down because of odor complaints. (LA Times news article is here.) Called Rooster Sauce (because of the bottle's logo), the most well know brand of Sriracha is found at most Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. So the closing of the plant is distressing to local hot sauce fanatics in Los Angeles. But don't worry as there are now other Sriracha purveyors; and I found large bottles of the hot stuff at, you guessed it, 99c only Stores.

So check out some more great deals I've documented below. You'll never know what unique food stuffs are stocked at the 99c only Store.

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