Sunday, February 26, 2023

Dollar Tree Country Breakfast

Sometimes the stars align and all the ingredients appear at one time as it does for my latest cheap$kate recipe Dollar Tree Country Breakfast.

A typical Country Breakfast is a combination meal and more than an easily and quickly made Bacon and Eggs with Toast. Going by region, a Country Breakfast can include grits, biscuits, ham, eggs, gravy, pancakes, hash browns, and more.

The Country Breakfast I grew up with in Texas consisted of Cream Gravy with Sausage, Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, and Eggs.

I have a Dollar Tree  right down the street from where I live and usually get, on a regular basis, 6 to 8 eggs for a buck, breakfast link sausage and regular ground breakfast sausage, and milk. Sometimes flour shows up, and flakey-style biscuits in the cold case, too. That's everything I need for a quickly-made Country Breakfast.

The Dollar Tree eggs are usually the medium size and that's okay with me. 

The Farmer John Sausage Links, or Classic Pork Sausage, are a bit on the fatty side, but the flavor is there -- it's easy enough to remove rendered pork grease, but don't drain it all, as that is a great flavor.

Add flour to milk and you have Cream Gravy, but add bacon or sausage grease and you have Country Gravy. This is an artery-clogging start to the day, but I don't make it very often so it's a welcome decadent breakfast on a lazy weekend morning.

I like my eggs sunny-side-up, which are cooked on one side only until the white is done. It takes a little longer than over-easy (cooked on both sides). It's also idiot-proof since you don't risk breaking the yolk when you turn the egg over to finish frying. If you like your eggs scrambled then go for it. Country Gravy mixes well with scrambled eggs on the fork. 


I prefer homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, but deli case canned (cardboard-wrapped) flakey biscuits are fine in a pinch. They are like a croissant, with visible pastry layers, quite different than the Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits I grew up with down South. 

Buttermilk Biscuits are cake-like when sliced. They are easier to crumble and soak up gravy beautifully. I can get premade ones though, on sale at my local grocery chain store, Ralphs. 

Dollar Tree also sells a dry mix to make a homemade Buttermilk Biscuit. If you don't want to spring for flour you can get a Country Gravy mix, too.  

My latest Cheap$kate Recipe only uses ingredients from the Dollar Tree, so I'm sticking with the flakey deli case biscuits. And they are easy and quick to use only taking 15 minutes to bake brown - about the time it takes for the Country Gravy and Sunny Side Up Eggs to finish cooking.

99 thanks to Dollar Tree for all the tasty ingredients for my Cheap$kate Dollar Tree Country Breakfast. And you can bet your bottom dollar it's really easy and quick to do, so get to cookin' -- and after this meal, you can skip lunch, believe me!

Country Breakfast - Video      Play it here. Video runs 3 minutes, 13 seconds.

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

Ingredients (about 2-3 servings)

  • 1 to 2 Eggs - Fried eggs over easy or sunny-side-up. Okay to scramble eggs your way.
  • 4 to 5 Biscuits - I used ready-to-bake canned that hold 5 biscuits. Okay to use your favorite biscuit recipe or mix.
  • Breakfast Pork Sausage - about 8 ounces, links or ground pork. If you buy cooked links or patties, cook sausage for a minute or so to heat and render some of the fat then follow gravy directions.
  • Milk 2 cups - whole or low fat. 
  • Flour 1/4 cup - white or wheat. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


Start by baking canned biscuits according to package directions, usually bake at 350 degrees in the oven for about 15 minutes until the biscuits brown.

It takes about 15 minutes to prepare the gravy - about the same time it takes to bake biscuits. So you can start both at the same time. If the biscuits take longer to bake, you can keep the gravy at low heat, until ready to eat (stir in a tablespoon of milk at a time if the gravy thickens too much).

While biscuits bake, in a large pan or pot, over medium heat, add raw pork breakfast sausage. As sausage browns, break it apart into smaller pieces. It's okay to use formed sausage patties or links, just break them up as they cook. 

It's best to get the sausage nice and brown, at least on one side. The caramelization adds a lot of flavor to the gravy. Cook the sausage all the way through for about 5 minutes (depending on the size of the sausage pieces).

 Breakfast sausage tends to have a lot of fat, so it's up to you how much-rendered grease you want to keep in the pan. It's okay to pour out some grease to lower calories, but do leave a tablespoon of grease for extra richness and flavor.

Next, sprinkle on a quarter cup of flour. Stir into the cooked sausage and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Slowly pour in the milk and stir to mix well. Keep stirring so any flour lumps break down. Once the gravy is brought up to a low simmer, it should begin to thicken in a couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the gravy is thick and hot it is ready to pour over the biscuits.

My gravy recipe is for a thick one. You can add a tablespoon of milk at a time to thin it out if that's the way you like it.

Fry or scramble eggs any way you like. I would cook eggs after the biscuits and gravy are done, as they can sit for around a couple of minutes while cooking eggs.

Serve hot biscuits covered in my delicious Homemade Sausage Gravy. Some like to tear their biscuits apart first, then spoon on the gravy. I just lay out a couple of them and cover it all with sausage gravy.

My Country Breakfast barely takes half an hour to make. And it's enough for a couple servings so invite a friend!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

National Chili Day - Recipes & Reviews

  I celebrate National Chili Day big time. I make my own and I get it from a can -- it's all good. And click on any recipe name or review to see the original blog post.

Of course, Homemade Chili is the best. I like to use a cheap cut of beef called Beef  Shank. It's a tough cut of beef so you do have to cook it for 2 or 3 hours, but that's okay as the flavor just intensifies over time. You can make Chili with ground beef and even ground chicken or turkey. 

The overriding flavor of typical Beef Chili is from red chile peppers. They come dried whole, ground into powder, or as a sauce in a can (often known as Enchilada Sauce.) It is easiest to use ground chili powder. 

Click on any photo to see larger.

In the video below check out how I make my Homemade Beef Chili. It's quite simple to do really, all the ingredients are dried or from the can, and the recipe is even easier and quicker if you use ground beef instead of beef shank. 

Beans or not to include beans, that is the Chile dilemma. Chili fanatics are divided, but I can swing both ways! 

You slow simmer Chile with pinto beans or red beans. For my recipe of Homemade Chili With Beef & Beans, I use pinto beans. Go ahead click here and dig in.

Is a Sloppy Joe, made with Chili? It has the same ingredients, just not cooked as long until mushy. My Sloppy Joe recipe is chunkier and slightly sweeter than a typical Chili, but almost the same and delicious.

How does meatless Chili hold up? Check out my review of this cheap$kate frozen fare by clicking here, A hint -- it's pretty good!

Here is a couple of Cheap$kate Chile Recipes. Click on any recipe name to be directed to my original blog post. First up is Quick White Bean & Chicken ChiliThe two main ingredients are from the can.

The next quickie recipe is Turkey & Black Bean ChiliThis time I use ground turkey and a can of black beans.

My favorite sports food is a greasy and sloppy Chili Dog. First, steam the weiners then heat the Chili. I also set out the buns and all condiments so my game buddies can make their own. Kick it up a notch with chopped onion, relish, and shredded cheddar cheese.

I confess I like Chili from the can. Lately, I've found canned all-meat Chili from my local Dollar Tree for $1.25 and it is fine for a hot dog on game day. I've not had a bad can yet. I've tried a few brands and even Vegan Chili from the can is quite tasty, If the Chili is watery, then cook it uncovered and let the liquid reduce by half, that outta do it. 

I like my basic Hot Dog with mustard and chili. See my Chili Dog recipe video below - nothing to it.

A more extreme Hot Dog recipe is combining Sauerkraut and Chili, it's so sour and beefy-rich. It's not for everyone, but I dig it.

I have favorite local fast-food joints that feature Beef Chili in their hamburgers, or hot dogs. If you live in Los Angeles for any length of time you have tried an Original Tommy's Hamburger. It is a great burger, simply delicious - nothing to it, just a Chili Burger. 

What's unique about a Tommy Burger is a thick slice of tomato and, of course, Chili. The Chili is thick and meaty, and a great contrast when they include a sweet tomato slice, sour mustard, and pickles. I have to add a creamy smear of mayo to my order.

The majority of Chili is made with red chiles, but bright green chiles make a tasty one, too. I have a quick Chicken in Green Chile Verde anyone can easily make. I use green Enchilada Sauce from the can. It's a yummy change of pace.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

National Pancake Day - Fruity Recipes!

How I loved pancakes as a kid. And on this delicious National Pancake Day, I have it covered featuring a cheap$kate spin on the traditional pancake with the addition of fresh fruit. Just check out my video below to see how easy it is to do.

Strawberry Pancake Recipe - Video

Fluffy browned flour pancakes would jumpstart my day with a sugar blast of maple-flavored syrup. Hey, I grew up in the South in a small town so we didn't have access to real New England maple syrup, but what we had was fine. 

Of course, now I buy real maple syrup. I don't have pancakes as often as I used to, but when I do I make it a special occasion with the addition of fresh fruit that I add to the frying pan and then pour on the pancake batter. 

That way I don't need as much syrup since fresh and in-season fruit adds a layer of natural sweetness. And you'll never get bored with plain pancakes again if you try my versions of Fruity Pancakes, and I bet the kids will eat them up, too!

What fruit can you add? Just about any type you can find, really - fresh, canned, or frozen. Start with an easy-to-get banana, then move on to peach, and more exotic ripe slices of mango. 

It's easiest to use small whole fruit that is ready to add, like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Scroll on to see the fruity variations I've tried and pick a favorite to try yourself.

My recipe is basic, I use premixed pancakes from the box. Nothing special really. The average mix is usually just enriched flour, sugar, dried egg, and milk. Normally you just add water. You can use your own favorite mix or even a homemade mix. If price is no object then get organic from Whole Foods or from your fave health food market.

I do like to finish my pancake with a pat of real butter. It's up to you if you want to go that far. 

Here is my basic Pancake Recipe using a box of mix and fresh blueberries. I like to make one large pancake, but you can make them any size you and your family or friends like including small dollar-sized. 

Blueberries are ready-to-go, just a quick rinse and put them right on a lightly oiled hot griddle or pan -- no peeling or seeds to remove. Next pour on the pancake batter and cook until browned on both sides.

Blueberry Pancake Recipe - Video
Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 32 seconds.

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

Ingredients (2 servings, using a pancake mix)
  • 1 cup pancake mix - any favorite
  • 3/4 cup water - okay to use milk for a richer pancake batter.
  • 1/4 cup blueberries - add as many blueberries as you like per pancake, about a dozen or so.
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil - to grease skillet. Add more when needed, depending on how many pancakes you make.
  • Butter and favorite pancake syrup - add as much as you like.
Prepare pancake batter according to package directions. My pancake mix calls for 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water.

Mix pancake ingredients in a bowl. When mixed it will be like thick country gravy.
(If you are using frozen blueberries it's okay to add right to the batter. Defrosted or not, as they will warm up during pancake cooking).

Add a teaspoon of oil to pan or griddle. Heat the pan over medium heat.
Rinse fresh blueberries and arrange on a hot pan or griddle. Add as many as you like, depending on the size of each pancake.

Brown pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, depending on pan heat. When you see air pockets then check the bottom of the pancake to see how it's browning.

The instant box of pancake directions mentions cooking time to brown each side as 1.5 minutes each....hmmm, they must be using a super hot pan! Best to just check the pancake for color as you go.

If you want a dark brown pancake presentation, then cook one side to get the right hue of brown, then cook the other side for a minute, to finish. Serve browned side up, on the plate.

I serve hot with melted butter and favorite pancake syrup. 

Cherry Pancakes are at the top of my fave fruit-filled breakfast. 

You do need to remove cherry seeds, but it's worth the effort and since cherry season only lasts a couple of months, you won't be making these too many times anyway, so give my Cherry Pancake recipe a try.

Fig Pancakes are another favorite. I have a fig tree a few blocks away so I can get them for free when the tree starts bearing sweet fruit.

When store-bought they are on the expensive side, but I've found packages of cheaper dried figs that work just fine.

Blackberries often show up at my local 99c Only Store, so they will end up in my Blackberry Pancakes. They are often quite large so I slice them in half before pouring on the pancake batter. 

Mango Pancakes may be the sweetest fruit pancakes. You do have to wait for them to reach ripeness until they are soft to the touch like a peach. 

And they are well worth the wait. Check out your local ethnic market to get a good deal on them.

Raspberries are the most delicate berry. Handle with care and they will reside in your pancake batter to impart sweet and tangy pancakes.

So stir it up, I mean the pancake batter, and grill a stack for a delicious National Pancake Day. And check back next year for more fruit-filled Pancakes in the works!
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