Friday, April 12, 2024

BLT Sandwich - Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato

 Bacon everything! At the spear end of the bacon fad is the BLT Sandwich. Bacon seems to return every few years as a popular ingredient. It does go back a way as a sandwich ingredient that really came into its own when G.I.'s returned from WWII. 

BLT means Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich in the restaurant world and the public soon adopted it, too. I remember making them with leftover bacon from breakfast. 

What's so great about the sandwich is how simple it is. Just fry or bake up a few slices of bacon, toast some bread, and slide the bacon between two slices smeared with mayo, and add sliced tomato and lettuce. It's a crunchy first bite.

I jumped back into the BLT game when I saw Hickory Smoked Uncured Turkey Bacon by Applegate Naturals at my local 99c only Store last year. I jumped on that deal big time and bought five packages to freeze. I haven't seen this Bacon again there, that's why you have to buy a good deal when you first see it because they will not be there for long!

Right away I made a Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich. Simply delicious. While pork bacon is the gold standard, this uncured turkey bacon hit the spot. It is a lighter and meatier sandwich without the thick veins of pork fat of regular bacon. The smokey flavor is still there, and I didn't miss the porkiness. 

Turkey Bacon does not have the crispness of cooked bacon, the texture is closer to fried thin slices of ham. But the Turkey Bacon BLT still rules. 

Small 4-slice packages of real Bacon still show up at my local Dollar Tree. And 4 slices are just enough for a sandwich or two. 

Lettuce and tomato are affordable. I even find small jars of mayo cheaply. 

Make a BLT with any favorite bread. Of course, I get mine from the day-old bargain bin at my local supermarket, Ralphs. White, wheat, sourdough, or rye...go for it. 

A BLT is constructed with toasted bread. I used a popup toaster so both sides of each slice are crunchy.

I usually fry my Bacon slices, but you can bake them as well. I learned to bake bacon at a lower temperature, about 325 degrees or less, so the bacon grease doesn't get all over the place (you could loosely cover the bacon with parchment paper, too.)

Turkey Bacon

How do you assemble your BLT? Is Bacon on the bottom or top? How about 2 slices of bacon on top and 2 slices on the bottom. Any way you stack it will work! 

My video recipe is just a reminder for you about how tasty a BLT Sandwich is - go ahead and revisit a real American Diner classic, and don't forget the Campbell Tomato Soup...from the can (they are now low in sodium.)

BLT Sandwich - VIDEO             Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 36 seconds.

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

Ingredients (one sandwich)

  • Bacon - 2 to 3 slices. Enough to cover a slice of bread. Regular bacon or any favorite substitute.
  • Bread - 2 slices. Any type you like. I toast mine.
  • Lettuce - a leaf of lettuce, just large enough to cover the bread. Okay to shred or chop lettuce.
  • Tomato - a couple of slices, depending on the size of the tomato. Enough to cover a slice of bread. Okay to use sliced cherry tomatoes.
  • Mayonnaise - Apply on the inside of one or both slices of bread.

Directions

Start by frying or baking bacon slices. If you are using a substitute like Turkey Bacon then add a teaspoon of oil to a frying pan so Turkey Bacon does not stick to the pan. 

Fry bacon until crisp on both sides. Usually takes about 5 minutes in total.

As bacon cooks, slice tomato and wash lettuce leaf if necessary. Pat dry or shake off excess water from the cleaned lettuce leaf. 

You can toast the bread just before the bacon is done cooking. Toast bread slices as browned as you like.

To assemble BLT, just smear mayo on toast on one or both slices. 

Stack lettuce, tomato, and cooked bacon in any order you like. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

National Carbonara Day - Recipe Video

I love Spaghetti alla CarbonaraAnd on National Carbonara Day, I offer up my quick and easy take on this classic Italian pasta dish.

And my outre entree will never be taught in culinary colleges -- you can only learn it in The 99 Cent Chef's kitchen of hard knocks!

Watch my 99 cents creative take on Spaghetti alla Carbonara in my latest cooking video for the simple step-by-step directions. It doesn't come cheaper than this, and my new pièce de résistance is outrageous enough to fit into my blog of recipes perfectly!

Typical Carbonara's main ingredients are eggs, pasta, black pepper, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and Italian bacon (pancetta or guanciale).

I use cheap Parmesan from a plastic container that I get from my local Dollar Tree. It says it's real Parmesan. Of course, use real Parmigiano-Reggiano if you can afford it.

I prefer fresh ground Black Pepper, but any type is fine. A lot of Black Pepper is used in this recipe.

I normally use a couple slices of browned and crumbled bacon because it's convenient, and bacon fat enriches any pasta dish. However, those are a lot of calories and real Bacon Bits are already cooked so most of the fat is rendered out, thus making my Carbonara lighter.

I can get one serving out of a .8-ounce package of Bacon Bits. I used to get Bacon Bits and eggs from my local Dollar Tree and 99c only Store but this year they are a no-show.

I've been eying Imitation Bacon Bits but have not had the guts to use them yet - The 99 Cent Chef has standards, too!

Real Bacon Bits are a bit dry and slightly powdery. The Bits are quite small so I do miss the larger crunchy pieces from broken crispy cooked bacon slices. While mostly bacon meat and little bacon fat, Bacon Bits are a light version for all your calorie counters. As with a lot of diets spin on fatty meals you do lose that luscious taste.

This is a rich-tasting dish when you add a raw egg blended with parmesan and black pepper to hot pasta. The trick is to assemble it all in one pan and bring it right to the table before the egg scrambles.

The egg mixture thickens into a decadent sauce, coating the spaghetti, studded with crunchy bacon pieces. *If you are worried about using raw eggs, I have an alternative method at the end of this post.

If you have an Italian deli nearby or a well-stocked meat market, you should try Italian pancetta at least once; you only need a couple of slices for this dish. It cooks like bacon, but it's dryer, leaner, and with flavorful curing spices.

So, check out my latest recipe video and get cooking! It is a simple and delicious dish.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Bacon Bits - Video
Play it here. The video runs 4 minutes, 31 seconds.

Ingredients (one serving)  
  • 1/3 package of spaghetti - cook per package directions. I usually shave off a couple of minutes of cooking time for pasta al dente.
  • 1/2 package of Bacon Bits - real bacon, not imitation. Okay to use a couple slices of cooked bacon.
  • 1/2 tsp. of black pepper - fresh ground if you have it. 
  • 1 egg per serving - for a richer sauce use 2 egg yokes.
  • 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan - I used real parmesan from the jar, but if you have a block of parmesan to shave, all the better.
  • Water for boiling pasta - reserve 1/4 cup of hot pasta water for the sauce.
Directions
Bring one pot of water to boil for pasta. In a small bowl, mix one raw egg with 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan, and about one teaspoon of black pepper. Whisk together until well blended. Set aside until final assembly.

Add pasta to boiling and salted water. Cook pasta while preparing the rest of the carbonara -- I usually shave off a couple of minutes of package directions boiling time for pasta al dente.

(If you like real big pieces of bacon, then saute up a couple slices instead of bacon bits. You can drain off the grease, or leave a tablespoon or two for flavor.)

 
In a large pan over low/medium heat add bacon bits to heat through. When spaghetti is done drain (reserving some of the pasta water) and add to bacon bits.

Add 2 tablespoons of hot pasta water to the spaghetti and bacon bits.

Finally, pour in the egg and parmesan mixture. Mix well and allow to heat through for about 30 seconds - careful not to make scrambled eggs. The egg mixture will thicken with the addition of hot pasta water.

It is ready to eat with a final tablespoon sprinkle (or more) of grated parmesan per serving. (If you are using freshly shaved parmesan, then add it as a topping when ready to serve.)

For 2 servings, just double everything - maybe go with a whole package of spaghetti and one whole egg and two egg yokes, for a richer sauce?

* If you are wary of raw egg, it's okay to drop a separated whole egg yoke into boiling water for 30 seconds (or longer). When pasta is done and parmesan is added, finish the dish by adding the poached egg yokes on top.

Click here to view or embed from YouTube.

I also made an animated stop-motion version of Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Bacon Bits. It's a shorter video you can check out below.

There are a couple of recipe changes including leaving out the extra raw yolk and adding pasta water to cooking Carbonara. 

Play it here. The video runs for 3 minutes and 27 seconds.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Easter Egg Recipes

For some, it's all about eggs for Easter this Sunday and I have a basketful of recipes for leftover ovum. So read on for using up eggs that are hard-boiled, because there is no way youngsters can put away that many.


In these pandemic days, the Easter Egg Hunt will be kept all in the family or on computer video. Well, you can still have a hardboiled eggy good time.

And be sure to set aside a few raw eggs for some of my recipes listed below (click on any recipe name to see the original blog post.)


I got my eggs from a local Dollar Tree last year, but this year they are a no-show. I bet they come back as prices slowly reduce this year? 


The easiest leftover use of eggs is a simply delish Egg Salad. It's the quickest and easiest way to use up leftover boiled eggs.


Half a dozen cooked and peeled Easter eggs mixed with a little mayo and some chopped celery will yield a bowlful of creamy deliciousness that can go between 2 toasted slices of bread, as a topping for your favorite salad, or served spread on your favorite crackers as appetizers.

Egg Salad Recipe - Video
Play it here. The video runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds. 

Ingredients (about 3 sandwiches)
  • 6 eggs - I used small eggs. Boiled, peeled, and chopped. about 2 cups total after chopping.
  • 1/4 cup mayo - I used light mayo. Okay to add more. Add a teaspoon at a time to reach desired creaminess. Extra-Large eggs will need more mayo.
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped - including leaves on the stalk -- if it comes with them. About 1/2 cup total after chopping.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Water to boil eggs.
*Many recipes call for mustard, but I like it without. But you can add it - try a teaspoon of Dijon or regular mustard. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon of dried mustard powder.


Directions
In a pot add eggs and cover with an inch of water. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Just when eggs start to boil, turn off the heat completely and cover the pot with a lid (or plate). Let sit for 15 minutes. Eggs will continue to cook in the hot water. (Okay to use any favorite boiled egg recipe you may already have).


Meanwhile chop one stalk of celery, including leaves. Chop finely.


After 15 minutes, remove the eggs and rinse them off in cold water, so you can peel them without burning your fingers. You can also let them sit in a bowl of cool water with some ice cubes for about 5 minutes.


Now time to bring it all together. Peel, discard shells, and chop the eggs. You can add them as you chop to a large bowl. I usually chop the eggs in half, then place them yolk side down on the chopping board and finish slicing.


Add all the chopped eggs to a bowl. Mix in the chopped celery. Finally, scoop in 1/4 cup of mayo. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Try out a small spoonful of Egg Salad. At this point you can add more mayo if you like, a teaspoon at a time to reach desired creaminess.


I find less mayo and mustard (optional) the better, as they easily overpower the mild egg flavor.


A scoop of Egg Salad goes well with your favorite vegetable salad. Egg Salad is a tasty party dip on your favorite chips or crunchy veggie slices. Also, try a spoonful on an avocado half. But I like an Egg Salad Sandwich the best.


This recipe is easy to double using a dozen eggs -- just add another 1/4 cup of mayo and another rib of chopped celery. Keep the finished Egg Salad covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Okay, let's take an ovum break -- for kids, there is a lot of chocolate on the scene like this.


Another early recipe of mine is a silly Devilish Deviled Eggs I made one Halloween. Fun and tasty. Of course, leave out the spicy chili peppers for kid-friendly bites. And you can find all the yummy recipe details from my food blog by clicking on any recipe name.


For extra eggs, you haven't boiled yet, there are a lot of my cheap$kate recipes to choose from, like a filling Pasta alla Carbonara with egg yolk and crumbled browned bacon over spaghetti, or a baked omelet-like Frittata with pasilla chili, chorizo, potato, and cheese.


Scrambled eggs come in many variations. Jewish delis have a couple of good ones that I've adapted. I get corned beef on sale during St. Patrick's Day, so it's only natural to have some of it sauteed with eggs (even better is pastrami made from corned beef - my Pastrami with Eggs recipe is here.


Small packages of Cream Cheese and Salmon come cheaply and I like to add it to my Jewish Breakfast Scramble. And add a dollop of cream cheese and you have a lighter substitution for Lox and Cream Cheese Bagel. Try it sometime, I know you will like it, too.


On my last visit to New York City I visited a local bagel shop and came away inspired by all the Spreads they had including Cream Cheese with Boiled Eggs


Nothing to the recipe, really. Just allow Cream Cheese to soften at room temperature then mix in a chopped Boiled Egg. I like this on a toasted Bagel, but it's okay to use any favorite toasted bread or roll. Check out my yummy recipe video below.


Booze and eggs go together, especially if you're making my Homemade Eggnog. This video recipe is one of my holiday favorites. You won't believe your eyes when you see my intoxicated antics after imbibing on one Eggnog too many. Be sure to watch this recipe video all the way to the end!



One of my earliest published recipes is also one of the quickest and easiest to make: Scrambled Eggs and Sundried Tomatoes. I like to keep a jar of pungent dried tomatoes in herbs and oil in the refrigerator, right next to my carton of eggs. For a non-oil, lighter version, use plain dried tomatoes in a plastic pouch, too (this is what my wife uses.)


My Mom has an outrageous Breakfast Tacos with Scrambled Eggs and Curly Fries that will blow your mind and stoke your taste buds -- seeing is believing...below.


Eggs make a great binder for my sister Denise's Veggie Eggplant Burgers. (You should make sure to check out the video we made that features a wacky shopping spree in my local 99c only Store.) And you want to add a scrambled egg or two when you make my cheap$kate version of Chinese Fried Rice.


Ever make Crepes Suzette?
There's not much to it really, just eggs, flour, milk and to quote Julia Child's nephew: "lots of butter." And who's the famed chef's nephew anyway?

Well, just watch the video to see this outrageous character shopping in the Hollywood Farmer's Market -- then moving on to the kitchen to show you how to make a tender and delicate pancake-like dessert.



 Do you have a package of frozen veggies in the freezer accumulating frost, and a crisper drawer full of veggies that are close to being thrown out? Well, just rinse off the frozen veggies and slice off the brown spots from the bell pepper and onion to make my colorful Veggie Frittata. For this photo story recipe, I ran out of eggs, but my neighbor Nuno was kind enough to lend me a few. (How's that for a cheap$kate move, free eggs!)

Also, if you have a small patio garden then I have a couple of nutritious recipes to use the freshly picked bounty. An easy veggie to grow is bright green Swiss Chard. Just saute it for a couple of minutes and add it to your favorite omelet recipe, my recipe is here.


Every time I change out the dirt from my teeny garden, seeds sprout willy-nilly. Often it's some kind of squash, that never bears fruit. Oh well, that's okay because the flowers make a great Squash Blossom Omelet.


I grew up in the South and was raised on Mexican food for a while. Almost everyone in Texas has tried Migas, which are tortilla pieces scrambled in eggs. And, you can't get simpler than having Refried Beans and Eggs. I didn't think I would like this meal at first, but learned that scrambled eggs elevate any humble ingredient!

Refried Pinto Beans & Scrambled Eggs

I get all types of Mexican chorizo at my local 99c only Store, including beef, pork, and soy (vegetarian). Mexican chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo, mainly in its texture. Spanish chorizo is hard like salami and Mexican chorizo is soft like ground meat. It's a pungent and flavorful protein that mixes well for Chorizo and Scrambled Eggs. And use it to stuff a Breakfast Taco or Breakfast Burrito.


Huevos Rancheros are the Eggs Benedict of Mexican cuisine. A corn tortilla with refried beans and a fried egg that's topped with crumbled queso fresco (cheese,) and your favorite salsa, is a decadent and filling way to start the day. Make a batch of this with your family sometime, it's quite easy to do when you follow this cheap$kate's recipe.


You can top any of my Mexican breakfast entrees with a favorite jarred salsa or go here to see my list of Homemade Salsa Recipes, with links, that include:  Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo), Red Chili (2 dried types - but the same recipe), Pico de Gallo and Mango.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Looking to impress an overnight guest, then serve them my recipe for Eggs Florentine for breakfast. This creamy spinach and egg dish will keep any afterglow going. And if that doesn't work then I have a sensuous Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus.


I like a challenge. A favorite breakfast fast food is the classic Egg McMuffin. It's not as cheap as it used to be, so I figured out how to make my own cheaper version. And I share it with you in this homemade video recipe.


And for an extra hardy breakfast be sure to add my Old School Hash Browns to the menu.


If you are flush with cash and your ship has come in, then make like a bonus bloated Wall Street con artist and serve up my Billionaire's Crab Omelet. (I even give you a cheap$kate shortcut, just in case the stock market crashes, your government bailout  is rejected, and all your chips have been cashed in.)


And for my latest egg recipe video, I made a classic French-style Cheese Omelette. What's the difference between it and the ones you get at a typical American diner? Well, it is all about technique, mainly you just soft scramble the eggs in butter, add the cheese and gently roll the egg to close up the omelette. Most American-style omelets are cooked dry, while a French omelette is slightly moist in the middle. It's a different way to cook an omelette, but I've grown to like it.



Eggs for dinner? Heck yeah, especially when pizza is on the menu. Break an egg on your favorite homemade or store-bought pizza during the last 10 minutes of oven-baking. A mix of the creamy yolk is a sumptuous topping, so be sure to try my Pizza with Egg recipe.


And finally, if you're looking for a bit of levity, well, I have an early morning fried egg comedy video to brighten your day, here.



Whew, that's a lot of ovum riffing, I'm exhausted. You've just scrolled through over 10 years of recipes from my food blog.

And if you want even more egg pictorial poetics then click here to view a fun video.

Cooking with eggs is cheap. While not as inexpensive as they used to be, it's still affordable, especially when you use any of my creative and tasty recipes listed above.
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