It's the busiest 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. So read on and take a few tips from the grinchiest tightwad around.
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, if you live in Los Angeles, the Cheap$kate 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.
In the recent past Superior Grocers have sold 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, and collard greens for 69 cents per pound - oh boy!
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.
You may 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.
The 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 165 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.
The same goes for Turkey Legs. They may cook a little quicker though, so start check for doneness after an hour and a half. For a change of pace, I 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.
To add some South of the Border Christmas tradition serve a steaming bowl of pork, chile and hominy stew called Pozole. Along with tamales, Pozole is a Mexican culinary holiday tradition.
Setting out a platter of plump Tamales are edible holiday packages of deliciousness. And while I don't have a cheap$kate recipe yet, I can point you to a local L.A. fave purveyor called Tamales Alberto. If you are in the 'hood do get a dozen.
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.
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 roasted turkey, is the main event for my ravenous taste buds.
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.
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 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 Salad, Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy Dressing, Fresh Fruit Salad.
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 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 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. And I'll leave you with my Homemade Egg Nog recipe and wacky tree trimming video.