Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Cheap$kate Food Finds

The Cheap$kate Forager has a grab bag  full of the best 2016 deals from Dollar Tree and 99c only Stores.

Los Angeles is the epicenter for cheap food finds. And, while not all 99 cent or dollar stores are created equal, this Chintzy Cuisineste knows were to get the goods for the most economical deals.

 Some of my cheap$kate finds are healthy and some are not - that's what happens when you cruise the aisles. What you find today may not be there tomorrow, so I have learned to get it while you can.

This year I've found everything from grass-fed cow yogurt to Star Wars themed SpaghettiOs.

I tried the delish yogurt but only took a photo of the SpaghettiOs - I'm no fool.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Freeze-dried fruit, like grapes and pear, are "in" this year. There is not much to them really - they are all air and lightness, with none of the heft and concentrated sweetness that regular dried fruit carries. I can't say I'm a big fan....yet.

This year my local Dollar Tree store has really kicked it up a few notches. While the selection is no where near what my fave budget 99c only Stores stock, they are getting better.

 Single servings of frozen, seafood, pork, beef and poultry are well represented.

I've even found enough dollar ingredients to create tasty individual pizzas (click here to see my recipe for Sausage and Black Olive Pizza.)

I always discover fantastic eatable finds at my local 99c only Stores. Again, if you see it today, it may not be there tomorrow, so I advise impulsive purchasing.

Click on any photos to see larger.

Not every 99c only Store sells beer and wine, but I have found the ones that do, and boy do they ever! Twelve to sixteen ounce bottles or cans of Pumpkin Ale, Thai lager or The Hobbit Smaug Stout, anyone?

Deli meats make frequent appearances, everything from sliced Roast Beef to Blackened Chicken Breast. Those are the kind of finds that vanish from the store shelves very quickly.

I picked up a couple of containers of Oyster Mushrooms last week, to simply saute in butter.

Living in Louisiana during my high school daze, the Southern product brand of Zatarain's was everywhere to be found -- and here in Los Angeles it's a great treat to get it at such cheap prices. 

So major props to the 99c only Store and Dollar Tree for keeping my stockings stuffed all through the new year! And be sure to check back next week for my Top 9 Recipes of 2016.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Recipes - Compilation

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

Below is everything you need to serve a sumptuous and cost-saving holiday feast. Presented with links to my recipes, easy-to-follow directions, and illustrated with yummy photos and fun videos. And make sure you bookmark this page because Christmas is right around the corner -- yikes!

First up, if you live in Los Angeles, the Grinchiest Chef would recommend getting your big bird at any Superior Grocers -- just click here to see the great deals to be had, it's incredible.

You can get a 10-27 pound turkey for 47 cents per pound with a $25 purchase. That's no problem, when Superior Grocers sells yams at 5 pounds for 69 cents, russet potatoes 8 pounds for 99 cents, tomatoes 4 pounds for 99 cents, yellow onions 7 pounds for 99 cents, green bell peppers 5 for a dollar, collard greens for 69 cent per pound.

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 poultry dinner fiasco is a click away here.

But seriously, I posted my version of a Roast Turkey with Stuffing recipe, click here to read all about it. Not only is there a recipe that features my Mother-in-laws's decedent sausage stuffing, but I made a video below for you. And it's done in my movie technique of stop motion animation, to boot.

My recipe is 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!

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 pot luck dinner. If you are like me, stuffing, next to roasted turkey, is the main event for my ravenous taste buds.

Boring Creamed Spinach is a typical Christmas side, but I have a Hindi twist. One of my favorite Indian 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. Go here to see the recipe details. It couldn't be simpler to do and here is my stop motion animated video to prove it.

Everyone knows how to make lusciously creamy Mashed Potatoes, right? Well, just in case you are a newbie here's one way to do them cheaply and easily by following my step-by-step recipe video right here.

Of course, I have some more sides for you, just click on any of the following names: Green Beans with AlmondsWhiskey Yams with Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds, Squash, Tomatoes and Onions, Brussels Sprouts in Sour Cream, Roasted Potatoes with Carrots, Honey Orange Glazed Carrots, Collard Greens with Molasses, Asparagus and Red Potato SaladPear and Spinach Salad with Creamy Dressing, Fresh Fruit Salad,

And don't forget the appetizers like: Warm Artichoke Dip, Black Olive Tapenade with CrostinisBacon Wrapped Dates with Cream Cheese, and Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Salami.

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 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 my Mom 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 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 she how she does it.

Every Christmas holiday my wife and 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 and you would have to be a heel not to like these small bites. These tiny 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 Christmas 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 how the Chintzy Chef gets around paying normally exorbitant pecan prices.)

Well after all that slaving in the kitchen you deserve an Eggnog. In my first holiday-themed video from 2008, I made a Homemade Eggnog that went a 99 cent airline bottle of rum too far. Be sure to view past the recipe for my humorously Tipsy Tree Trimming fiasco -- blogpost with written recipe and photos here.

The holidays wouldn't be complete without leftovers. I have a hearty Tea Party Chicken Soup, click here (of course, substitute leftover turkey and the carcass, for chicken.) And the most fantastic Turkey Sandwich video is a click away, here.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Christmas GIF(t)s

Have you been bad or good this year? Well, this cheap$kate Santa comes baring a sack full of GIFs for all you do-gooders and naughty types.

While not a brightly wrapped package sitting under the Christmas tree waiting to be opened, you can watch my GIFs anytime. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just check out the animations below for an eyeful.

99 Cent Chef in front of Watts Towers

The letters, GIF, stands for Graphics Interchange Format and is a short video, graphic, or photo clips, that play in a loop, that is, it keeps repeating. There is usually no audio and the clips last for a few seconds each. You can read all about a GIF by clicking here.

I use them to show a cooking technique; how a recipe looks as it bakes, fries or boils; the slicing or chopping of an ingredient; and sometimes I make a GIF just for the fun of it.

So keep on scrolling and feast your eyes on my 2016 roundup of GIFs past. And click on any recipe name to see the scrumptious blog post.

Oreo Cookies

Slicing Beef Shank

 Chef Roy Choi

Caprese Salad - tomato, mozzarella, basil

Saag Paneer - spinach, cream and cheese

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