Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Christmas Mashed Potatoes - Video Recipe

Potatoes deep fried, boiled, or baked, the end result is always deeply satisfying. It's also one of the most complete nutritional veggies -- it's what the stranded astronaut survived on in the book and movie, The Martian. Are potatoes the cheapest veggie out there? I often get them on sale, a buck for 10 pounds. And your Christmas table would not be complete without creamy and buttery Mashed Potatoes.

The spud originated in the South American country of Peru, where hundreds of varieties are available, but for my next cheap$kate recipe I use Idaho's finest, the russet potato. They are ideal for boiling into Mashed Potatoes. Russets stay dry enough when taking on water during slow simmering. You can also use red or white potatoes for this recipe - you may need less milk or cream to finish.

Everyone knows how to make Mashed Potatoes, right? Well, just in case you are a newbie here's one way to do them cheaply and easily.

Mashed Potatoes on their own are a bit bland. I usually make them for Thanksgiving and Christmas, when there is gravy and dressing to mix with. Or, lately, it is the topping for my British-style Shepherd's Pie that's baked with a beef stew underneath. And any type of gravy is what Mashed Potatoes crave.

Shepherd's Pie

The ingredients are few for Mashed Potatoes, just boiled tubers, milk, butter, salt, and pepper. And they all come cheaply. Butter is the most expensive ingredient, but I barely use half a stick.

I always get several pounds of russet potatoes for less than a buck. They keep for a couple of months if you store them cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight. And the price is right, my recipe calls for about a buck's worth of russet potatoes.

You can use any fat content of milk, or go all out and mix in the cream.

Some cooks peel the potatoes first, but I find it's easiest to boil them so the potato skin slides off easily and you don't waste any of the flesh, which happens with a potato peeler.

I have a potato masher, but I have used a regular fork - just make sure the fork's sturdy, it can bend during potato mashing. It really depends on you how fine for mashing. I like to leave in some smaller lumps, so I don't go overboard. Be careful if you use an electric mixer because you can whip them until they become a gooey, sticky mess. Just taste as you go -- which applies to any recipe you make.

Next time you roast a chicken, save some pan juices to make gravy (for recipes, click here, or here) and be sure to mash some potatoes to sop it up.

Mashed Potatoes - Video

   Play it here. Video runs 1 minute, 37 seconds.

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

Ingredients (2-3 servings)
  • 4-6 medium-size potatoes - about 3 pounds. At least 2 cups total when mashed. I used russet, but okay to use any type you like, even sweet potato.
  • 1/2 cup of milk or cream - Add more or less milk to suit your taste and mashed potato texture. Okay to use half and half or whipping cream. Using a milk substitute is fine.
  • 2 tablespoons butter - okay to add more or less. Okay to use a butter substitute
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 

    Clean dirt off potatoes. I boil potatoes with skin on, some cooks like to peel the potatoes first - it's up to you.

     Add enough water to cover the potatoes. High heat until water begins to boil. reduce heat to a low boil.

    Should take about 1 hour, depending on how large they are. Done when a fork easily pierces the potato. (To lessen the boiling time you can cut potatoes into large cubes and boil them - should only take half an hour at the most.)

    Cool off potatoes with cold water and peel them.

    Add the peeled potatoes to a large bowl and add 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of butter. Okay to use milk or butter substitute.

    Season with salt and pepper. Mash it all together. You should get about 2 cups of mashed potatoes.

    Friday, November 25, 2022

    Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Recipes

    A cooked Thanksgiving turkey is the gift that keeps on giving. So keep reading to see a few of my recipes that will have you coming back for more succulent turkey leftovers. (And click on any recipe name to be directed to my blog post with all the tasty recipe text and yummy photo illustrations.)

    If you made a big spread for Thanksgiving go right to piling leftovers on a plate and zapping them. 

    However, if you only have turkey, cranberry sauce, some gravy, and stuffing left then a simple Leftover Recipe is the way to go.

    The easiest and quickest use of Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving leftovers is to just stack them between sliced bread or a crusty bread roll.

    Click on any photo to see larger.

    But to kick the sandwich up to an Ultimate Turkey Sandwich, just crisp up in the frying pan some of that uneaten soggy turkey skin.

    It is a decadent and tasty addition to a classic Turkey Sandwich. Check out my recipe video below for a little culinary decadence.

    Before you go cold turkey, try my gobbling spin on a Chicken Salad. I like the crunchy addition of chopped celery in this recipe that you can rename Turkey Salad. It's a short ingredient list and you can use dark and white meat turkey leftovers. And I like my Turkey Salad between 2 slices of a bagel, and you can also put a large scoop on your fave green salad!

    A most popular leftover for the coldest days of winter is a warm and soothing Turkey Soup. I hope you saved the poultry carcass?

    For the tastiest soup, it's best to boil leftover roasted turkey bones and turkey bits in a pot of seasoned water. Once the water is simmering on low, just step away for an hour, and meanwhile, do a little veggie and leftover turkey chopping to add with strained turkey broth.

    My Turkey Soup recipe link here, is based on a typical Chicken Soup.

    My Chicken Soup recipe starts with uncooked chicken, so this Turkey Soup spin-off will be done in less time -- just simmer long enough to tenderize the chopped carrot, onion, and celery.

    If you feel a bit more ambitious, then rustle up a Cajun classic Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but with leftover turkey instead of chicken.

    My Mom lives in Louisiana and she sure knows how to do a Gumbo. This is another cold-weather dish. Serve Mom's Turkey and Sausage Gumbo over rice. Again you can reduce the prep time because the leftover turkey is already cooked. And another shortcut is using a pre-made Gumbo base called a Roux, which is often stocked in regular grocery stores.

    Check out my video below for all the tasty details.

    A pot pie is the most soothing of winter meals, and my Turkey Pot Pie made with Thanksgiving leftovers will have you returning for seconds and thirds!

    For my simple recipe, I used a grocery store frozen pie crust that covers the leftovers. And all you do is load up a deep baking dish like you would a lasagna - layering mashed potatoes or yams, veggies, stuffing, turkey and gravy.

    My video below lays it on thick, that is, with plenty of delish leftovers.

    You had Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving and didn't get enough of the sweet stuff? Well if you had an overabundance of baked or boiled sweet potato, then bake a Sweet Potato Pie! 

    This Southern and Soul Food classic is really simple to do and my Mom has her Pumpkin Pie recipe that is easily made with cooked leftover sweet potatoes, and it's a click away right here.

    I hope you had a great socially distanced gathering of family and some friends for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving. And do check back for more 99 cent cheap$kate deliciousness.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2022

    Thanksgiving Recipes Roundup!

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

    Read on and click on any highlighted recipe name to gobble up my original blog post for the recipe, illustrated with yummy photos, fun videos, and tasty text.

    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, get all your goodies this week when every local market and chain grocery store has the deepest cuts in produce prices. If you live in Los Angeles, the Grinchiest 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. If you have an ethnic market nearby, do give them a visit -- you'll be surprised what you may find on sale.

    In the recent past, Superior Grocers have sold russet, yams, and sweet potatoes at 1 pound for 79 cents, squash for 99 cents per pound, and yellow onions at 2 pounds for 99 cents - oh boy!

    Turkey is on sale this week at chain grocery stores and local markets, so make sure to read the fine print, usually a $25 purchase is necessary to get a big bird.

    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 decadent Sausage Stuffing. I shot a video below for you, and it's done in my movie technique of stop-motion animation to boot.

    Often you will 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 with your own family recipe way.

    Check with a thermometer for a reading of about 155 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. Click here to see my recipe video, photos, and tasty text. 

    The same goes for Turkey Legs. They may cook a little quicker though, so start checking for doneness after an hour and a half. For a change of pace, I just made a tasty recipe called Mexican Cola Turkey CarnitasI just cover and braise a couple of Turkey Legs for about 2 to 3 hours in Mexican Cola with herbs. You can see how I make this sweet recipe in the video below.

    My recipes are stuffed with cooking tips and cheap shopping sources like my local 99c only Store and my local Dollar Tree have stepped up their holiday food deals as well. Right now they are selling everything but the bird!

    Click on any photo to see larger.

    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 the roasted turkey, is the main event for my ravenous taste buds.

    Stuffing Cupcakes

    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.

    Mashed Potatoes

    Boring Creamed Spinach is a typical Thanksgiving 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. 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 SeedsSquash, Tomatoes and OnionsBrussels Sprouts in Sour CreamRoasted Potatoes with CarrotsHoney Orange Glazed CarrotsCollard Greens with MolassesAsparagus and Red Potato Salad,  Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy DressingFresh Fruit Salad.

    Green Beans & Almonds

    And don't forget the appetizers like Warm Artichoke DipBlack Olive Tapenade with Crostinis,  Bacon Wrapped Dates with Cream Cheese, and Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Salami.

    Warm Artichoke Dip

    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 late 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 almost 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 typically 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.

    Monday, November 21, 2022

    The Saddest Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner

    This Deal of the Day is the anti-Norman Rockwell holiday dinner. I've had my share of sad Thanksgiving. This can happen when you are single, or after first moving into a new city -  maybe you are out of town on business. And, on some holidays everyone you know may be visiting relatives.

    While one does feel self-conscious eating alone during the holidays, there is something to be said about being out of the holiday family drama loop. And this Turkey Dinner by Banquet is a meal you do not want to share -- nor could you do so, with its small serving size.

    I always find them at the grocery store for around a dollar, and they show up at my local 99c only Store from time to time. The package cover actually matches the real meal, this time around.

    I actually like this frozen meal -- occasionally. While the turkey has the texture of baloney and the stuffing amount is minuscule, and if you close your eyes you would think you are having the real deal as all the holiday flavors are there.

    There's an ample amount of gravy to swab about the mashed potatoes, and the green peas are firm and tasty. The gravy has a deep turkey broth flavor, although, it overpowers and drowns the stuffing.

    The real weakness is the powdery instant potatoes. They dissolve once the gravy is mixed in. I don't know why the Banquet food scientists haven't figured out how to do it right -- after all these decades of frozen entree development. Their potato formula needs bulking up. And, a touch of butter (flavoring) wouldn't hurt.

    The two turkey loaf slices appear to be white and dark meat. I couldn't tell any difference in taste. The mechanically separated turkey loaf doesn't compare to a fresh slice of steaming turkey breast, but for a buck, it will do.

    The peas, of all the ingredients, are the real winner on the black plastic plate. They taste flash fresh frozen and are firm, not a typically mushy defrosted entree --  they're as good as any name-brand frozen pea.

    So if you are alone and broke this Thanksgiving, I would recommend Banquets Turkey Dinner. On a scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give it a 5. You would not be too far off to think the Grinch left this small entree under your tree -- and, you would need to consume 2 or 3 of these minuscule meals to get that second-serving bloated afterglow.

    Now, don't worry that The 99 Cent Chef is unhappy this holiday as there is a lot to be thankful for including a sweet lady.

    But I do keep a frozen Turkey Dinner in the freezer just in case.....

    Saturday, November 19, 2022

    Mom's Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie - Video Recipe

    Thanksgiving is right around the corner so you have time to make my Mom's Pumpkin Pie. I was back in Gonzales, Louisiana a few years ago around Thanksgiving, and got her to cook it on camera. Boy, was it good -- so good that a lot of my Cajun cousins swung by. It was a fun and noisy day, as you will see, where everyone lined up for a slice after the pies cool down.

    Mom made a wheat crust from scratch, but for the filling, she went with the convenience of canned pumpkin. I know you are disappointed that we didn't find a free pumpkin in the wild like we did for Mom's last dessert recipe of Mini Pecan Pies -- where we went pecan picking out in a field of pecan trees (click here for that video).

    Even with canned pumpkin, Mom's extra ingredients of spices, eggs, and evaporated milk, make a luscious filling with a creamy flavored kick of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and clove.

    The rest of the pie filling was made with cheap ingredients. This week I went searching for a cheap can of pumpkin and found out how expensive it is. Almost $3 a can! 

    Now, for this recipe, I am following Mom's lead, and would not have her change a family recipe handed down to her, but I can offer a 99.99 cent substitution: canned sweet yams. They are almost the same color, and by the time you add sugar and all the spices to Mom's pumpkin filling, it almost tastes the same.

    I've had Sweet Potato Pie (probably made with canned yams or sweet potatoes) at my local Soul Food restaurant and it's dang good. The consistency is similar to pumpkin and the flavor is sweeter. Usually, canned yams are cooked chunks floating in liquid. So if you want to make a cheaper pie using yams, you should drain the can and mash the cooked yam flesh. And, I would use half the sugar that Mom uses for her Pumpkin Pie.

    The best substitution would be to fork mash the orange flesh of fresh baked and peeled sweet potatoes -- they are almost as cheap as russet potatoes. See, dear reader, I am always thinking of you, and how to make a cheaper, but still tasty twist on a typical expensive dessert!

    For the heck of it, I priced premade pumpkin pies at my local grocery chain store and found them on sale for $6.99 each. That's way too One Percent for
    The 99 Percenter Chef!

    You could also buy an inexpensive pre-made pie crust -- but if you have time, do give Mom's homemade version a try. The whole pie came together quickly and easily. It's a two-for-one recipe. The video recipe is for 2 pies. Of course, it's easy to cut the ingredient amounts in half to bake one pie.

    I have to give a big 99 thanks to all my Cajun relatives -- I didn't have to twist their arms to give Mom's Pumpkin Pie a try -- and an extra 99 thanks to Mom for sharing her recipe with all my readers. And Happy Holidays to all!

    Mom's Pumpkin Pie Recipe - VIDEO
     Play it here. Video runs 8 minutes, 33 seconds.

    To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

    Ingredients for Pie Crusts (2 Pies)
    • 2 cups of flour - white or wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup ice-cold water
    • 1 teaspoon of salt
    • 1 cup shortening

    Directions for Pie Crusts
    Add flour and salt to a large bowl for mixing. Scoop in a cup of shortening. Mix in with a fork until flour becomes pea-sized lumps. Pour in a cup of cold water. Now you have to get your hands dirty. Mix the dough by hand for about 3 minutes until it all comes together. Sprinkle flour over a work surface. Plop dough on it and form it into a ball. Divide the ball in half.

    With a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball until it is large enough to fit over your baking pie pan. Press dough into the pan and press together any cracks that split during the transfer. You can pinch dough ridges around the top if you want to.

    Ingredients for Pumpkin Pie Filling
    • 2 cups of canned pumpkin - okay to use cheaper canned sweet potatoes or yams (drain then mash with a fork or potato masher to smooth.
    • 1 cup of sugar - use half a cup if you are using sweet potatoes or yams. Of course, best to use baked and peeled fresh orange colored yams - about 2-4, depending on the size.
    • 1 teaspoon of salt
    • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups of evaporated milk
    Directions for Pumpkin Pie Filling
    In a large bowl mix in dry ingredients and spices including sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

    In another small bowl, add 4 eggs and lightly whisk the egg yolks and whites together for a minute. Pour blended eggs into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix it all together for a minute.

    Spoon in 2 cups of canned pumpkin into the spices and egg mixture. Next pour in 2 cups of evaporated milk. Whisk it all together for a minute or two until well blended.

    Okay to substitute cheaper sweet potatoes or yams, but first, drain and mash with a fork or potato masher. They're usually canned in liquid with large pieces.

    Now it all comes together. Just pour the pie filling into both pie shells until the pie shells are almost full.

    Add pies to a 425-degree heated oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and finish baking for 40 minutes.

    Mom uses a toothpick test to see if a pie is cooked through. She inserts a toothpick into the center of the pie, then removes the pick to see if it's wet. If it comes out clean, it's ready. If it is still wet, she puts it back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes. I think if the toothpick is slightly damp, you can just leave the pie out to cool, as it will continue cooking anyway.

    Pie is ready to serve when it reaches room temperature (after an hour of cooling on the counter.)

    Of course, you could easily half all the ingredients to make just one pie.

    You can also speed up the cooling by putting the pies in the refrigerator. Since the pie plates are hot, you must first allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then place potholders, or a kitchen towel, on the refrigerator surface and place the pies on it. Pies stored well in the refrigerator, so you can make them a couple of days beforehand -- just cover them with plastic wrap after they cool down.

    Pie slices are delicious on their own, but you may want to top them with whipped cream.

    Of course, you can just buy a premade crust at the market for cheap. I thought it fun to show how Mom makes hers. As mentioned earlier, it is easy to cut the ingredients in half to make just one pie. You could shave off 10 minutes or so for a creamier pudding-like filling, that's still enough time to cook the crust.
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