Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mardi Gras Cuisine with The 99 Cent Chef

You are in for a movable feast during this Cajun holiday called Mardi Gras. The real partying starts February 16 on Fat Tuesday and continues thru the weekend. Usually, everyone lines streets for the parades and floats with masked bead throwers. This is the time of year when New Orleans lets its freak flag fly -- all week long! 

But 2021, in the time of the Coronavirus Pandemic, it's no dice -- sorry but the parades and float are virtual so Mardi Gras does not become a Super-Spreader event like last year. But read on anyway and I'll show you how locals have a tasty time when the plague years end.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Mardi Gras is more than plastic beads and Kings Cake. So read on and watch my videos to see some delish Cajun recipes, plus I'll even give you a personal Po'Boy Sandwich Tour of New Orleans. So scroll on down.

Alright, let's get this party started! Walking the French Quarter in New Orleans, revelers carry drinks spiked with knee-buckling Everclear spirits. I always make a stop at the local drive-thru New Orleans Original Daiquiris for a  boozy slushy beverage

Yep, you heard right, that's the way we roll in Cajun country. Watch the video below to see how we get away without getting a ticket for an open container violation!

                                             Daiquiri Drive-Thru

Here's another of my patented GIF stories about a Cajun Happy Hour that has a chilling finale featuring my girlfriend Linda.

A Cajun Happy Hour

If buzzy spirits are too much for you, then settle down within view of the Mississippi River in New Orleans for a chickory-flavored cup of Joe and sugar-powdered beignets at world-famous Cafe du Monde. After the caffeine and sugar rush, you will be ready to take in New Orleans and the outrageous French Quarter, just a few steps away.

                                                    Cafe du Monde

lived in Gonzales, Louisiana during my high school daze. I didn't know what to expect when our family moved there from Texas. I did some wild stuff over the next four years and ate a lot of down-home Cajun cooking. The video below takes place in a local flea market, so check it out to get the flavor of the place.

                                         Cajun Flea Market Eats - Video

I hitchhiked with my high school buddy Marvin (featured in the Po'boy Sandwich Tour below) to New Orleans for Mardi Gras during the school break. Back then it was all about grabbing a Muffaletta, listening to street Brass Bands and Rock and Roll, catching some beads thrown down by inebriated revelers perched behind French Quarter iron-wrought balconies and Mardi Gras parade floats and getting a good buzz (we were underage, so no booze, but we found other natural ways.)

Chef, Marvin & Dennis - high school buddies

We knew no fear and locals were friendly enough - even picking up a couple of hitchhiking long-haired teenagers like us. One memorable ride was in a hand-painted hippie Volkswagon van where the college-aged, tie-dye-wearing driver, and cool chicks in tight bell-bottom jeans, on the backbench seat, passed around a doobie, before dropping us off in the city.

Looks like Red State Louisiana has agreed with Blue State California in legalizing marijuana for medical use. I guess we can all get along if there's a peace pipe to share.

I've kept in touch with my high school buddy Marvin and like to look him up when I land in New Orleans. Check out the video below to see how I (dinner) roll these days, when I tour the Crescent City in search of a delicious Po'Boy Sandwich with my high school bud - all the tasty details are in my original blog post here.

You will get a street-level experience of the Big Easy and the eccentric locals from my documentary short below.

New Orleans Po'Boy Tour - Video

Recently I met up with my long-lost brother from another.....daddy, aka the Swamp Chef! He showed up on Mom's doorstep one day and she welcomed him back into the family, and I must say he's a chip off the cypress tree block. He'd fit into a-rockin' Cajun ZZ Top lineup, slinging a wooden stirring spoon instead of a guitar.

99 Cent Chef, Mom, and Swamp Chef

When the Swamp Chef shows up there is always a delicious celebration -- and this time it's a BBQ Sausage Po-Boy Party!! Here in Gonzales, Louisiana, it's all about the bread when making a Po-Boy, or as it's also known, a Poor Boy (I can't figure out how to spell Po' boy as I've seen it all kinda ways!) Just watch the video below to see how the Swamp Chef grills locally made sausages by Ivderstine Farms Butchers and stuff them into a loaf of Reisling's French bread.

The Swamp Chef & Zak gets gooey and spicy with Cajun Nachos.

To quote Zak: "Uncle Swamp Chef for the win, these Cajun Nachos are lit."

Swamp Chef Cajun Nachos

The Swamp Chef knows the lay of the land around here and he recommends all you Mardi Gras tourists who need a pitstop, to park here in Gonzales, Lousiana for a big lunch plate of Jambalaya. Just check out the Swamp Chef giving you the lowdown in the video below. And it's dirt(y rice) cheap of course!

I know you are here for the recipes, too, and boy do I have a pirogue boatful. Between Mom and my Cajun line-cooking nephews, Matt and Zak, I got that covered.

If you hang out in Louisiana for any amount of time you will inevitably eat spicy steamed mudbugs, crayfish, or as the locals call them, Crawfish

They are milder in seafood flavor than shrimp and are about the size of a small bay shrimp. If you've never had them then watch my video below to learn how to eat one.

It quickly becomes a party when I visit Gonzales, Louisiana to see my Cajun family with nieces, nephews, and their kids galore

And this first recipe is made with a beer-flavored sauce. Warning, in the video we had to go through a Party Pack of Abita Beer to find just the right flavor!

My nephew Cherf Matt has been cooking for years now and has some major culinary skillz. I'll let him give you the low down on a Southern classic Shrimp and Grits video recipe (click here for recipe photos and text.)

Chef Matt's Shrimp & Grits - Video

The cheapest Cajun entree is Red Beans and Rice -- made by my Southern friend Miss Patti. She is a vegetarian with a menagerie of critters she keeps on her property just outside the city of New Orleans.

For real New Orleans-style Red Beans, you should use the brand of beans called Camellia. But if you can't find them, it's okay to use any cheap red kidney beans.

We always have a good time together and you will too watching us cook together. Recipe details are a click away, here.

Ms. Patti's Vegan Red Beans and Rice - Video

 Mom knows Cajun cuisine best. And she is here to share a few with you right now.

It's best to start at the beginning and here's the first recipe we did, Mom's Jambalaya.

I make this recipe the most. Nothing to it: just brown chicken pieces and sausage with a whole chopped onion. Finally, add rice and water to make the best comfort food ever. This is my Mom's version of Jambalaya (click here to read all about it.)

                                                 Mom's Jambalaya - Video

Mom also makes a killer Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. The trick is all in the deep chocolate-colored roux - actually just flour that's slowly browned in oil.

I'll let Mom explain in the video below (the recipe text is here.)

                                      Chicken and Sausage Gumbo - Video

Lately, when Mom makes hot and spicy Gumbo she adds a scoop of cool Cajun Potato Salad. The last time she was here in Los Angeles I got her to make some, and my cute niece Maranda dropped by to help. This recipe is a family affair you can check out below.

                                          Mom's Cajun Potato Salad - Video

Next to Gumbo, a rich and creamy Étouffée made with local crawfish is another decadent stew. Check out local Chef Tony's take on Crawfish Étouffée.

                                        Chef Tony's Crawfish Etouffee

My other line-cooking nephew, Zak, knows how to blacken fish the Cajun way. And boy does he do a skillful job at it, as my video below will attest. He also throws in a mind-blowing side of Sweet Potato Hash, and yes, it's loaded with bacon.

 Zak's recipe gets everyone in on the action including his Mom and my sister, Brenda, who make noshing appearances. So do check out his delicious Cajun recipes below and click here for all the written details.

                           Zakk's Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash - Video

The South's favorite nut, next to peanut, is the pecan. And my chef nephew Chef Matt has the best Pecan Crusted Fish recipe this side of the Mississippi River. And he throws in a vegan Spinach Salad with a creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette. Now that's a mouthful.

        Pecan Crusted Fish and Spinach Salad with a Strawberry Vinaigrette

My most outrageous Cajun recipe is an Alligator Po'Boy sandwich made by my nephew Chef Matt. They say alligator tastes like chicken -- to me, it is close to the texture of a pork chop and tastes somewhere between chicken and shrimp. Just check out the recipe video and make sure to watch all the way to the end, where the relatives go hog wild over the Alligator Po'Boy.

                                              Alligator Po'Boy - Video

How low can one recipe go? Well, check out the Swamp Chef and nephew Chef Matt's Deep-Fried Frog Legs...not for the faint of palate! This recipe goes from a swamp frog hunt to the deep fryer.

                                              Frog Legs Recipe - Video

If you are not in New Orleans attending the glittery and debauched Mardi Gras festivities, you can still have a tasty good time - if you remember to bookmark this page and come back to make any of my Cajun Mardi Gras meals. So Laissez les bons temps rouler!

New Orleans Po'Boy Dining:
Short Stop Po-Boys - 119 Transcontinental Drive (near New Orleans Airport)
Metairie, Louisiana 70001
Phone: (504) 885-4572
Website: http://www.shortstoppoboys.com

Mother's Restaurant - 401 Poydras
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Phone: (504) 523-9656

Website: http://www.mothersrestaurant.net

Parasol's Bar and Restaurant - 2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Phone:(504) 302-1543
Website: http://www.parasolsbarandrestaurant.com

For a tasty local Los Angeles Po' Boy try The Gumbo Pot in the Mid-City located Farmer's Market. $11.55 for Shrimp or Oyster, and $11.75 for Mixed. For the menu click here. Warning, the seafood Po' Boys have a sour bite because of inserted sliced lemon -- I usually take the slices out.

Another local food find for Cajun Cuisine is a restaurant and deli store called Little Jewel, in downtown LA's Chinatown. It's the real deal too. Listen in as you get all the tasty details in my special Restaurant Nocturne arty video below. (BTW, the chef/owner drops an F-bomb at 1:53 minutes.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2019 Oscar Party Recipes

And the Best Picture Oscar Entree goes to...YOU! Come and accept your award-winning chow and pass it around to your Oscar party guests. So sit back and watch the Best Picture Oscar-nominated movie trailers below and my Oscar Entrees that are a feast for your eyes.

And click on any Best Picture Oscar Entree nominee name to be directed to the original blog post for all the award-winning recipe prose and cinematic culinary imagery.

My first Best Picture Oscar-nominated Entree is for the movie A Star Is Born, and it's a delicious Zankou Chicken Meal sure to tickle the ivories in your mouth! This 21st Century musical is a feast for the ears, so check out the movie trailer below.

 I've been to the Los Angeles landmark Hollywood Bowl for many music concerts and this A Star Is Born Zankou Chicken Meal is fitting for a live music setting.

My next Oscar Entree nominee is Vice Billionaire Omelet. The movie Vice deals with the most powerful Vice-President in recent history, Dick Cheney. 

You could call Dick Cheney a double-dipper, as he later became a CEO of Halliburton, a Fortune 500 defense contracting corporation.

The Green Book is a concert pianist tour taking place in the South, so a cool The Green Book Daiquari Drive Thru is a welcome stop from the dusty road.

You are in the backseat for my The Green Book Daiquari Drive Thru in the video below, so tie one on with The 99 Cent Chef!

The Favourite Fish & Chips is a Best Oscar Entree that should be served with a silver spoon, or make that a fork. The nominated historical costume drama takes place in a castle and is full of palace intrigue involving 18th Century Queen Anne.

My crown jewel of a recipe is worth a knighthood for scrumptiousness. So check out my The Favourite Fish & Chips recipe from behind the red velvet rope.

My next Best Oscar Entree is one you can really sink your teeth into, Black Panther Plantains. The latest Marvel Comics superhero movie is a great change of pace to the usual whitewashed special effects blockbuster.

Black Panther Plantains are fried and an extra sweet side dish. You might as well serve it with my Cuban Black Beans and White Rice -- this is a great one-two vegetarian punch!

The rock group Queen is profiled in my next Best Picture nominated recipe. And my colorful pastry, Bohemian Rhapsody Sprinkles Cupcakes, will have you stomping along to the sports arena anthem "We Will Rock You!"

My  Bohemian Rhapsody Sprinkles Cupcakes recipe was originally created when gay marriage was legalized first in Los Angeles. I am proud to present my gender-busting recipe video:

Best Picture BlacKkKlansman goes undercover to expose the swampy underbelly of racist America. And my Best Picture Entree, BlacKkKlansman Deep Fried Frog Legs, is as swampy a recipe as you can get!

My cajun brother the Swamp Chef is a friend to all races and even turns a different color to prove it in the recipe video below.

The last Best Picture Oscar Entree is Roma Turkey Carnitas, Mexican-style. The movie Roma title is named for a Mexico City neighborhood. Tied with The Favourite for most Oscar nominations, Roma is the film to beat. The movie is about the movie director's housekeeper.

My Best Picture Entree nominee Roma Turkey Carnitas is a humble but delicious street food that all classes of people will crave.

Roma Turkey Carnitas recipe video

Do try out any of my Oscar Party Entrees - you're sure to get a Standing O. So have your acceptance speech ready because the golden statuette for Best Entree at an Oscar Party belongs to you, the host with the most.

And I'll leave you with a video I made a while ago, where the Academy of Motion Pictures had an Oscar exhibit, along with a podium with a real Oscar. All you had to do was stand in line and take a picture with it -- well you can be sure I showed up for that! Just check out the video below:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Valentine's Day Recipes - Videos & Photo Story

Please sit down and have a glass of wine, and how about a tootsie massage? Kindly allow this Amorous Culinarian to hold your hand and guide you through a luscious menu of Valentine's Day Recipes.

Well, you are in the right place for a romantic read. If the following recipes look enticing to you then click on any name and you will be directed to my food blog recipe pages filled with tempting, tender prose, and pulse-quickening GIFs, photos, and video.

Let's set the mood with the most decadently sexy of confections, a Chocolate Covered Cherry. Here, I'll feed it to you, Mon'Amie....

Click on any photo or gif to see larger.

First up is a video of the Amorous Epicurean on the prowl for budget aphrodisiac ingredients to create a perfect romantic dinner date. Allow me to adjust your seat cushion -- there, lean back, and watch the show.

Shopping for a Romantic Recipe - VIDEO

You will want to start your romantic evening meal with an appetizer - a plump and pleasing Steamed Artichoke is the perfect dish to share with each other. Just swipe a steamed artichoke leaf into my creamy Ginger Mayo Dip and feed the tender petal end to your amour. Your appetite will surely build as you get to the delicately delicious artichoke heart. My Steamed Artichoke appetizer is just a tease.
Cooking & Eating an Artichoke - VIDEO

A lovely Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing looks good on the plate and will impress your true love with its lightness and fresh flavors.
And it's the perfect prelude to the main course.

I think Italian food is the sexiest of cuisines. Tender swirling ropes of pasta sliding through a rich creamy sauce will soften any hardened heart. Click on any recipe name below to see my luscious photos and read my tender prose.

There's nothing like a creamy warm egg yolk stoking the fires of desire, and the Flirty Chef's  Spaghetti alla Carbonara is the perfect mood-setter. With the first bite, your date will swoon with pleasure. Sprinkling crumbled bacon over the pasta is gilding the lily, but sometimes you need to go all the way!

In my Spaghetti alla Carbonara Video below I took a couple of cheap shortcuts. I used bacon bits, but you could substitute real bacon or kick it up a notch with sauteed pancetta. Also, freshly shaved parmesan cheese will be more pleasing than the dried brand I used.

And finally, I added a blended raw egg -- for a more romantic presentation, just gently place the egg yolk on a mound of steaming pasta.

Oh, is it time for another sweet confection? Of course, I have more, the apple of my eye...

Would you like another glass of wine before you watch my Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe video below? Oh, don't worry about driving - I'll call Uber for you.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe - VIDEO

There, wasn't that edifying? Staying on the creamy theme, I can also recommend my Fettuccine Alfredo.

It's pasta with butter and cream -- simple and direct. You could mix in some fresh steamed veggies like broccoli for color and crunch -- just see how easy it is to do by clicking here on my Veggies in Cream with Pasta.

For something lighter, lose the cream and serve my stripped-down pasta recipe of John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Olive Oil, and Garlic with Spaghetti. It's a spicy tongue-tingler any tough guy can knock out.

Of course, a Latin lover would challenge any Italian Casanova for Lotherio's scepter. And my Mexican Chicken Tinga spicy stew will send chills down the spine and tingle any lady all the way to her toes.

Chicken Tinga - VIDEO

What? Another? You really do have a sweet tooth, well I do too, I think we are two peas in a pod.  Let's share this one...

Your love will fall under a lusty voodoo spell after sipping a couple of my homemade rum and sugar cane Cuban Mojitos. And if you and your lover are nursing a hangover the next morning, I have a hangover cure: a bowl of Pozole. It's a rich red broth of hominy, chiles, and pork.

Cuban Mojito - VIDEO

Black and white, yin and yang -- all inhibitions will drop with the sweet and sour flavors of my vegan Cuban Black Beans served over White Rice.

If you want to channel your inner domestic goddess, then tie on the apron, get out the potholders, and bring in a hot casserole dish of my luscious Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Cheese to the dining room table. Just check out the tempting short animated video below to see the yummy and gooey details.

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Cheese - VIDEO

I have a recipe that will get any Lady Godiva off her high horse. Let's get tough guy Stanley Kowalski, but with a mushy heart. My chef nephew's Shrimp and Grits will take your date on a one-way streetcar to desire. All aboard to check out the video below of two lunkheads hanging out and cooking.

Shrimp & Grits - VIDEO

A close second to the most sensuous of nibbling is a tender fish fillet on rice or Sushi. Raw seafood will quicken a lover's pulse, and if you chase the sushi down with a few warm cups of sake the temptation to stay the night may be overwhelming.

My Sushi recipes are quite easy to do when you follow my directions. I even have a recipe for those averse to raw fish, a California Roll (in the hay,) that's made with cooked fake krab, creamy avocado, and sliced cucumber. Seafood Rolls and Sushi are handheld bites meant to be shared with your true love.

California Roll -VIDEO

Hawaii is the destination for romancing the palate. Make your own romantic Hawaii-themed date night with my exotic Island classic: Lau Lau. It's a banana leaf-wrapped package of deliciousness.

Oh look honeybunch, I have one left. 

The aroma of slow roasting pork, Hawaiian-style will fill the kitchen and dining room, stoking the appetite of desire. Slowly unwrap the package of tender Lau Lau for your beloved. You won't need a Lei of plumeria flowers to steal a kiss when you serve my savory dish. So click here to see the luscious photos and easy-to-follow recipe text. And aloha to love.

Hawaiian-style Lau Lau

Of course, you can't have a romantic dinner date without the sweets. And I have a simply delicious deconstructed dessert that I call Mini-Banana Puddings.

It's the perfect finger food to woo your loved one. All you need is to lay out some vanilla wafers and stack with a spoonful of pudding and banana slices, finally topped with Hersey Chocolate Kiss. You could also drizzle on any sweet topping like chocolate syrup, caramel, and other favorite candy pieces or sprinkles.

Pssst...don't let your date see this next video. Slip in a Chocolate-Covered Cherry in your date's hand and a heart may melt. I got the confections at my local 99c only Store. Go ahead and watch my cheap$kate video review and see how a five-count box for 99.99 cents rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best.
Chocolate Covered Cherries - VIDEO

After a ravenous night, you will need a replenishing morning meal. And the Don Juan Gourmand's palate-pleasing Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus will satiate any food lover.

It looks good on the plate, but be sure to make plenty, as your sweetheart will ask for seconds!

Another morning after meal is my French-style Omelet. It's a labor of love that you may want to practice making a couple of times to get right. Like lovemaking, the more you do it the better you get! And I have all the right moves a click away.

My go-to confections purveyor is right down the street and it's old school to the max, See's Candies. And they hand out free samples...Wow!

Finally, it's 99 Shades of Cheap! Allow me to leave you with my most outrageous Valentine Day photo story called:

All items cost 99 cents.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

National Pizza Day

 🍕 Hallelujah, it's National Pizza Day!🍕  Heck, every day should be National Pizza Day. Check out my pizza celebration below with quick and easy Pizza Recipes and a couple reviews of frozen Pizzas -- go ahead, dig in!

Pizza for breakfast? Heck yeah! Or if you are a late breakfast eater like I am, then this goes down deliciously mid-morning after a second cup of joe. So check out my video recipe below for a Quick Pizza with Egg to see how fast it all comes together.
Quick Pizza with Egg - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 24 seconds.

I'm surprised egg is not used more often on fast food pizza. Like the first slice into a Mexican Huevos Rancheros where the runny egg mixes with salsa and refried beans, or a Southern breakfast of sunny-side-up eggs with biscuits and gravy, it's all about mixing in a creamy egg yolk. And you have it all with a hot pizza right out of the oven.

It's a rich eating experience hitting all the right savory pleasure points with egg yolk, melty cheese, and pungent basil with tomato sauce.

Using pre-cooked pizza crust speeds up getting your meal to the table on time. Lately, I get precooked pizza crust cheaply at the Dollar Tree store a couple blocks away. While not the best pizza crust I've tried, the added toppings help make up for any dough deficiencies. If you find a tasty pre-cooked pizza dough, do leave a comment and tell us all about it.

The trick to using a precooked pizza crust is to not overcook, or it will dry out like a cracker. I cook my Pizza with Egg for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees in a preheated oven. As soon as the whites of the egg are solid and cooked, and the egg yolk is still runny, I immediately remove the pizza. Of course, be careful taking that first hot bite!

You could use fresh pizza dough from the deli case too, just back time it, that is, if it takes 20 minutes to cook the dough, then top the pizza with an egg during the last 10 minutes of baking.

If you can't find individual pizza crusts then slice a whole pizza crust to the size you like and work with that. It's easy enough to use the other half later, that is if you can stand the wait. Or make a whole regular size pizza and add 2 or 3 eggs on the toppings.

I find many types of tomato sauce at dollar stores. Everything from portabella mushroom to meat-flavored, and chunky eggplant to just plain tomato sauce. There are even jars of "Pizza Sauce."

Get what you like in the can or jar, although I find a jar of tomato sauce easier to refrigerate and spoon from.

If you have a couple of cans of plain tomato sauce it's easy enough to make an Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce that does double-duty as a Pizza Sauce and Pasta Sauce. My recipe video below is easy to follow.

I kicked my Quick Pizza with Egg up a notch with fresh leaves of basil. I like to have a basil plant on my windowsill to pull leaves off. They go great in a Thai-style Basil and Chicken Stir Fry (my recipe is a click away here) and mixed into any favorite spaghetti dish.

You only need a few leaves as they are much more pungent than dried basil. But it's okay to sprinkle on a favorite Italian dried herb into any pizza tomato sauce you use.

Mozzarella is the preferred cheese for pizza toppings and I get small packets from 99c only Stores and Dollar Tree stores. For a serving or two, the small packets are a perfect serving size at about 3 to 5 ounces each.

I also find dried parmesan but it's not as good as what you find in a typical grocery deli case.

Eggs aren't as cheap as they used to be, especially if you use cage and hormone-free. But I can still find regular eggs for around half a dozen for a buck. Every once in a while they are on sale for a dollar per dozen.

Top the pizza with one egg, or add a couple of them if you like. I like my egg yolks runny, but you can cook it a few minutes more, until similar to a soft-boiled texture.

And what's great about making your own mini-pizza is you can add as much cheese and tomato sauce as you like (or can afford.)

Tangy tomato sauce with pungent fresh basil leaves and melty cheese is the perfect platform for a fried egg. And it's so easy to do if you use packaged single serving sizes of pizza crust that are precooked like I do. Or if you have a leftover slice then break an egg over it, and heat the slice in a toaster oven.

Give my latest cheap$kate recipe a try, I know you will like it -- ciao and buon appetite!

You can make a traditional pizza too with this pre-cooked pizza crust. How about a Black Olive and Sausage Pizza?

All the ingredients are super cheap of course, everything from a can of olives to ground breakfast pork.

While breakfast pork is not Italian, you can make it pretty close by mixing in a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs, again easily found at Dollar Tree or the 99c only Stores.

So for about 6 bucks, I got enough Dollar Tree ingredients to make 4 individual pizzas (adding dried herbs I have at home,) with leftover pizza sauce, sausage, and plenty of olives.

What's nice is being able to add as much sauce, olives, and sausage as I wanted on each pizza. I had just enough mozzarella though, so could not go overboard with that.

I find that may budget premade individual pizzas lacking, mainly they are skimpy with the meat and cheese. Using fresh pork sausage is so much tastier and I can crumble it into any size I like.

I use a pre-cooked crust, so the baking time is only about 10 minutes at 400 degrees, just enough time to heat all the ingredients and melt the cheese -- that's it!

My 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?

I simplify 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, drained.
  • 3 tablespoon of 99.99 cent olive oil blend
  • 1 teaspoon 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 for 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.

Time for a few Pizza Deal of the Day reviews. Many are adequate, and some are even quite tasty, that is if you sprinkle on some extra mozzarella!

When you think of Oprah Winfrey, pizza does not come immediately to mind. Well, she's jumped on the celebrity food product bandwagon. She has a line of frozen pizzas and I got one at my local 99c only Store. Don't know how it ended up there but I'm not complaining. 

It's a full-sized large pizza with a thick crust and loaded with pepperoni. So how does it rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? Just check out my video below to get all the tasty details!

Unfortunately, this Deal of the Day is bleh. I mean it's not bad, just mediocre. And that goes for both Atkins Stone Fired Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza.

I know it's hard to find a tasty frozen pizza for a buck. One day I'll find what I'm looking for, just not yet.

In general, I like Atkins frozen meals that show up in my local 99c only Store's frozen case, like this one a click away, here.  

I first tried the Stone Fired Pepperoni Pizza. This one had 3 slices of pepperoni, not four slices shown on the box cover - better supervision is needed at the Atkins pizza plant.

The main problem was the lack of tomato sauce and the lack of cheese. I guess to keep the price down they cut the cheese when adding pepperoni. I don't need a lot of tomato sauce, but this single-serving had the tiniest smear. You would think since cans of tomato sauce are so cheap that they would ladle it on.

I thought the pepperoni slices were fine. Thin but spicy and pungent just like pepperoni should be. 

And the cheese was flavorful with mozzarella and parmesan. Like I said earlier, it could have used more. 

And finally, the pizza crust is medium thick and blistered. I prefer thin, but the dough is tasty enough -- Chicago and New York-style crusts have nothing to worry about here. 

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Atkins Stone Fired Pepperoni Pizza 4!

So on to the next Deal of the DayAtkins Stone Fired Cheese Pizza

Now, this is more like it. This pizza has plenty of melty, gooey cheese, just the way I like it! It still has too little sauce, but the cheese amount almost makes up for it. 

While not the most flavorful mozzarella and parmesan, it's fine.  I think an extra shaving or two of parmesan cheese would do the trick.

And it has the same crust. I tried frying this frozen pizza on a George Forman-like grill for a better crust, but due to the thick dough it still did not crisp up enough, before the cheese started melting all over the place, and the too little tomato sauce almost evaporated away.

The ingredient list is too long for both pizzas, but that could be preservatives in the pepperoni and cheeses.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give Atkins Stone Fired Cheese Pizza 6 ! It's a little better than bleh.

While I shouldn't complain too much about single-serving pizzas for a buck, I would recommend the Cheese Pizza over the Pepperoni.

Welcome to the real Hunger Games, with a battle royale between 2 pizza purveyors, Geno's and Celeste. In my latest Deal of the Day, it's mini pizzas going mano-a-mano and the winner gets the Chintzy Award for Best Cheap Pie. This is a cuisine made for dorm room keg parties and minimum wage workday lunches.

I picked up each single-serving pie from the frozen deli case at this 99c only Store for 99.99 cents (or $1.) The pizzas are the perfect size for lunchtime appetites. I got the same toppings of cheese, pepperoni, and sausage on both. Normally I like a pizza hot from the oven, but for this meal showdown, I am going with the quicker microwave preparation. -- following the box directions.

There is more tomato sauce and chunkier meat topping -- so you can really taste the Italian sausage and pepperoni. -- Celeste is a winner in the meat category. Also, larger lashings of mozzarella cheese make individual bites varied, as ingredients are larger but spread out more. And the tomato sauce, while plain, binds all the flavors together. There is a silver crisping plate included

Italian herbs shine through in the tomato sauce. But the meat toppings are hard to discern, due to the small sizes. While Jeno's has a uniform flavor profile as all the parts are almost blended together in a pleasing way.

Funny, but Jeno's did not have a silver microwave crisper, so I used Celeste's.

I'm sure both single-serving pizzas would benefit from oven baking, but at my job (and most dorm rooms) there is only a microwave oven. So this is a test in real-world conditions. In both cases, the crust is a little mushy as expected, but they share a pleasing yeasty dough flavor.

Both pies are the same size and thickness. Jeno's looks like it has more toppings, but looks are deceiving. So on a scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give the Chintzy Award to Celeste, with a 6 rating. I preferred the chunkier sausage topping and larger treads of cheese. I also liked the simple tomato sauce flavor.

While Jeno's is the loser, I give them higher marks for a more intense overall Italian herb flavor. And I would buy both again for a cheapie lunch. But I am always on the lookout for a better single-serving chintzy pizza. If you know of one, then do leave a comment about it and I'll look for it.
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