Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nathan's Famous Hot Dog - Deal of the Day

I'm a bit nervous reviewing the following East Coast Coney Island fast food institution, as Nathan's Famous hot dogs have been served to visiting British royalty, and was a favorite snack in the 1960's Kennedy White House, often ordered by Jacqueline during the "Camelot" days. So I could be stepping on some majordomo toes here. Hot dog fanatics can be harsh in these trolling times.

These Nathan's dogs are not made locally and instead come frozen from the deli case of my local Dollar Tree. This could be a disastrous fast food frozen find, especially when heated by microwaves.

Well it's just a hot dog and can take a bit of mishandling, just like a LA Dodger Dog that's been sitting too long, over-steaming in it's foil wrapper. Surprisingly, this version of Nathan's Famous hot dog held up quite well to microwaving, after all.


I've found it's better to microwave hot dogs, hamburgers, and breakfast sammies, in 10 to 15 second increments so both the bun and protein heat evenly. If you microwave in one try you can get a hot spot and uneven doneness. 

These deli case versions are sold stripped down, just the bun and wiener - you don't want to heat up a hot dog with it's condiments already applied, right? I added the classic toppings of mustard and pickle relish to mine after some zapping.

The bun stayed firm and tasted like a typical white flour bun should. The bun-to-wiener ratio favors the bread, but the meaty hot dog held it's own.

The wiener was not as plump as steamed, but all the flavor was there that you expect. It had the right amount of snap to each bite; not too soft or overcooked. It is a tasty "premium beef" frank - firm and satisfying.

At 3.5 ounces, this meal will not fill you up - it will take two or three of these to do that. As usual, the ingredient list is long for processed meat, so this is not a meal to indulge in too often.

Click on any photo to see larger.

I have my local hot dog favorites, including Carney's on the Sunset Strip and Pink's (click on the names  to read those Cheap$kate Dining reviews.) If Nathan's had a hot dog stand in LA, I would give them a few tries to fully compare with local tube steak purveyors.

So, on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give this East Coast Deal of the Day, a microwaved Nathan's Famous hot dog from the Dollar Tree deli case, a tasty 6!

It's a better than average hot dog that I'm sure would have gained a few more points if I had eaten a steaming frank at the original Nathan's Famous in Coney Island.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Easter Eggs - Leftovers Series

For some, it's all about eggs for Easter, and I have a basketful of recipes for leftover ovums the kids can't finish. So read on for using up eggs that are hard boiled, because there is no way youngsters can put away that many. And be sure to set aside a few raw eggs for some of my recipes listed below (click on any recipe name.)

Eggs are still a great deal. Lately I get my eggs from a local Dollar Tree for, you guessed it, a dollar for half a dozen medium eggs, and sometimes they even carry a dozen for a dollar.

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 serve spread on your favorite crackers as appetizers.

Ingredients (about 3 sandwiches)
  • 6 eggs - I used small eggs. Boiled, peeled and chopped. about 2 cups total after chopped.
  • 1/4 cup mayo - I used light mayo. Okay to add more. Add an extra teaspoon at a time to reach desired creaminess. 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 chopped.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Water to boil eggs.
*Many recipes call for mustard, I like it without. But you can add it - try a teaspoon Dijon or regular mustard. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder.

In a pot add eggs and cover with an inch of water. Turn heat to high and bring 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 eggs and rinse 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, them place them yolk side down on 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 finished Egg Salad covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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 (or set aside,) there are a lot of my cheap$kate recipes to choose from, like a filling Pasta alla Carbonara with egg yoke 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. Patric's Day, so it's only natural to have some of it sauteed with eggs (even better is pastrami made from corned beef - my recipe is here.

Small packages and cans of 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.

Booze and eggs go together, especially if your 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 an 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 most quick and easy 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.)

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 too 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!)

If you have a small patio garden then I have a couple of nutritious recipes to use the fresh 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-nlly. 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 Mexian chorizo at my local 99c only Store, including: beef, pork and soy (vegetarian.) Mexican chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo, mainly it's the 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.

Click to magnify.

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 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 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 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 creamy yolk is a sumptious topping, so be sure to try my Pizza with Egg recipe.

And finally if your 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 egg recipes, I'm exhausted. You've just scrolled through 7 years of egg recipes from my food blog.

And if you want even more egg facts 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 an affordable, especially when you use any of my creative and tasty recipes listed above.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pastrami & Coleslaw Burrito Video - Leftovers Series

My mashup between a Mexican wrap and a Jewish Deli classic sandwich is a delicious mouthful. Check out my latest recipe video below for all the tasty details to build your own Pastrami & Coleslaw Burrito.

 Play it here, video runs 31 seconds.

On of my favorite recipes is a Homemade Deli Pastrami made with a hunk of beef brisket. It's really easy to make, especially when you use grocery store packaged corned beef. All you need to do is boil it tender then smoke the corned beef for about an hour, that's it. No outdoor grill? Then finish the tenderized corned beef, with a light coat of liquid smoke, in the oven.

Get my written recipe with step-by-step photos by clicking here. Here is my Homemade Pastrami recipe video.

Play it here. Video runs 4 minutes 4 seconds.

What I like with my Homemade Pastrami is a cool stack of Coleslaw. I have a Deli Coleslaw version a click away here. Shredded cabbage, some carrot and mayo are the basic ingredients. I also add a little bit of vinegar and olive oil to bring it over the top.

When I make a Homemade Deli Pastrami there are leftovers (unless it's patio party time, then forget about it.) I sometimes use up leftovers during the week with Pastrami and Scrambled Eggs for a hearty breakfast or two (my recipe is here.)

You can get cooked and sliced pastrami from regular grocery stores and deli markets. When I splurge for a pastrami sandwich from a Jewish Deli, like Cantor's in Los Angeles (video below,) they pile the sandwich so high I often don't finish it. So I usually have enough leftovers - for a burrito, later.

Now how does all this fit into a burrito? Damn well if you ask me. It may appear a strange combo, at least until you take a big bite. Rich peppery hot pastrami and cool coleslaw is a killer mashup that fits well into a flour or wheat tortilla.  You could even add the combo into regular smaller corn tortillas for Pastrami & Coleslaw Tacos. Buid-your-own tacos are always fun for any summer party.

You want to make sure to heat up the tortillas for a minute to soften. I microwave leftover pastrami pieces - it only takes 15-30 seconds to get pipping hot again.

Leftover coleslaw often loses some mayo when it becomes watery, but that's easy to fix. Just drain off the white liquid, then mix in a tablespoon or two of fresh mayo to make coleslaw creamy again. Since you are working with mayo, make sure to keep coleslaw refrigerated until ready to use.

I always have a couple packages of corned beef in the freezer for summer barbecues. I get them during St. Patrick's Day holiday week. That's when they cost around two dollar per pound - a great deal.

Cabbage, carrots and mayo are cheap any time of year. I can even find medium and large sizes of mayo in my local 99c only Stores.

So try my leftovers recipe sometime. Roll your own Pastrami & Coleslaw Burrito, and don't forget the Coleslaw?

Ingredients (1servings)
  • Leftover pastrami - enough to fill a burrito. My Homemade Pastrami blog post recipe is a click away here.
  • Coleslaw - fresh or store bought. My Coleslaw recipe is here.
  • Flour, corn or wheat tortilla - use any type of tortilla you like. I used a wheat tortilla.
  • 1 teaspoon oil - optional, for heating up tortilla. You can heat the tortilla without oil, too.

Start heating up a tortilla(s) in a frying pan or a stove top grill. I used one wheat tortilla. You can heat it with or without a little cooking oil. You only need to cook it for about 30 seconds on each side, depending how hot the pan is. All you are doing is softening the tortilla to it folds easy and warms up.

While tortilla warms up, heat a nice size of pastrami, enough to fill a burrito. It's up to you how stuffed the burrito will be. I usually heat my leftover pastrami in the microwave. It only takes 15-30 seconds. You can also heat it in a frying pan.

I like to use cold coleslaw in my Pastrami Burrito, but it's okay for it to be room temperature. Of course, keep any leftover coleslaw in the refrigerator, as it has mayo that can go bad over time.

Now time to assemble like any burrito. Just add pastrami and coleslaw on a warm tortilla and fold. Corn tortillas are usually smaller, so pile it on like you would a typical taco, that is open-faced.

A decadent addition would be a pungent cheese like Swiss. Make sure to put it between the warm tortilla and hot pastrami so it melts a little.

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

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