Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving & Christmas Recipes

It's the most busy and 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. I got it all here: my holiday recipes, along with a cupboard full of money saving tips for you during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.


 Below is everything you need to serve a sumptuous and cost-saving dinner table feast. Presented with links to my recipes, easy to follow directions, and illustrated with yummy photos and fun videos. And make sure you bookmark this page because Christmas is right around the corner -- yikes!

First up, if you live in Los Angeles, the Grinchiest Chef would recommend getting your big bird at any Superior Grocers -- just click here to see the great deals to be had, it's incredible. (Be sure to check back, the deals to be found here are just beginning.)


You can get a 10-27 pound turkey for 47 cents per pound with a $25 purchase. That's no problem, when Superior Grocers sells 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, collard greens for 69 cent per pound, and pork butt (2 per package) for 89 cent a pound. (I made a Mexican Carnitas recipe  video for you, just click here.)


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 poultry fiasco dinner is a click away here.

But seriously, I posted my version of a Turkey with Stuffing recipe, click here to read all about it. Not only is there a recipe that features my Mother-in-laws decedent sausage stuffing, but I made a video below for you. And it's done in my movie technique of stop motion animation to boot.



My recipe is 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 guested it, 99.99 cents. Right now they are selling everything but the bird!


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 pot luck dinner. If you are like me, stuffing, next to roasted turkey, is the main event for my ravenous taste buds.


Boring Creamed Spinach is a typical Christmas 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, that is right out of the 1960's 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 were 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. Go here to see the recipe details. 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 AlmondsWhiskey 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, and a Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy Dressing.

And don't forget the appetizers like: Artichoke Dip, Black Olive Tapenade with CrostinisBacon Wrapped Dates with Cream Cheese, and Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Salami.


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 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.


Read the recipe details of my Mom's luscious Pumpkin Pie by clicking here. And watch the video below to she how she does it.



Every Christmas holiday my wife and I eagerly await a package from Mom of her famous Mini Pecan Pies. A dozen of them travel well inside a shoe box 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 Christmas 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 how the Chintzy Chef gets around paying normally exorbitant pecan prices.)



Well after all that slaving in the kitchen you deserve an Egg Nog. In my first holiday themed video from 2008, I made a Homemade Egg Nog that went a 99 cent airline bottle of rum too far. Be sure to view past the recipe for my humorously Tipsy Tree Trimming fiasco -- blogpost with written recipe and photos here.



The holidays wouldn't be complete without leftovers. I have a hearty Tea Party Chicken Soup, click here (of course, substitute leftover turkey and the carcass, for chicken.) And the most fantastic Turkey Sandwich video is a click away, here.

I hope all my visitors have a great holiday. Keep checking back here for more budget recipes and loads of new food videos.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fried Chicken Tenders

A bowl of these golden brown fried mini-fillets will liven up any party, so read on to get the recipe for my Fried Chicken Tenders.


This recipe is based on my earlier Fried Chicken Sandwich video, click her to see it. You'll like the crunchy texture and spicy kick to the coating. This recipe is easy to adjust to your own taste. If I add too much black pepper, then take some out, or if you don't have a Cajun/Creole spice mix then use any you have on hand, or just use regular salt. I try to use ingredients everyone may have.


I found skinless and boneless chicken leg quarters (thigh and leg combined) on sale at my local Latin market, along with the standbys of chicken breast and regular leg quarter whole pieces.


Chicken legs and thighs are the cheapest and it's not too hard to debone. Just cut to reveal the bones and cut around them. You don't have to slice the meat off perfectly, since you will be cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces. Check out my GIF to see how I do it.


And while chicken breast is a little more expensive, it's the easiest to debone. All you do is slice along the breast bone, and the meat almost slides off. Plus white meat has less fat and ligaments to deal with. Just check out my GIFs below, it's really simple to do.


My recipe also calls for buttermilk to soak the chicken in. Well that is often hard to find and expensive. But I Googled a recipe for Homemade Buttermilk, so I have you covered cheaply there.


It takes some oil for deep frying. I always have leftover oil set aside for this. 


And listed below I added a few dipping sauces you can serve. I've got all the bases covered for you to pull together a delicious batch of my crunchy party friendly Fried Chicken Tenders.


Ingredients (about 12 chicken tenders)
  • 1 large chicken part - boneless. Thigh and leg, or breast. Slice deboned chicken into bite-sized pieces. Watch my animated GIFs above to see how I debone chicken.
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk - For homemade buttermilk add a 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice, to half cup of milk. Stir and let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes.
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt - use favorite seasoning like Creole/Cajun or any spicy mix. This seems like a lot but seasonings goes into a lot of flour. Okay to substitute with a tablespoon of regular salt.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder - or granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika - optional, okay to substitute with chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon pepper - add more or less to taste.
  • Oil for frying chicken - at least half an inch deep in a pan or pot. I used regular cheap vegetable oil.
  • *Extra ingredient is a teaspoon of favorite dried herbs like: sage, rosemary, basil or oregano.

Dipping Sauces
  • Thai Peanut: 1/2 can of coconut cream or milk, 2 tbsp. peanut butter.
  • Garlic Mayo: 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon garlic powder (or granulated.)
  • Honey Mustard: 1/4 cup mustard, 2 tablespoons of honey.
  • Tonkatsu Sauce (Japanese): 3 tablespoons of steak sauce (A1, or your favorite,) 3 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce.


Directions
Remove bone from chicken pieces. Slice chicken fillets into bite-sized pieces. The chicken pieces don't have to be exactly the same size.

I went the easy route and bought skinless and boneless leg quarters on sale. The pieces are quite large, so I sliced it into about 12 bite-sized pieces. White meat is easy to work with, as it slices cleanly from the bone.


Deboning it yourself is the cheapest way.

Thigh and leg meat takes a little more work to debone. Just slice to expose the bone. To remove the meat in one piece, hold the exposed bone and cut around the bone and cartilage ends. It takes a little practice, but one you've done it a few times, it gets easier. Of course, use a sharp knife and be careful with it.


Use a large skillet or pot. Put enough oil to reach 1/2 inch deep. Get the oil hot over a medium heat, to about 300 degrees. I don't use a thermometer, as my gas stove setting is close enough.


Lay out one plate for flour and a wide shallow bowl for buttermilk. (For Homemade Buttermilk mix half cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar.)


Add all the spices to flour and mix well. My spice amounts are just suggestions, you can adjust any of them to suit your own taste. Too much black pepper? Okay then add half the amount. Want more spice? Then add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. If you are on a salt restricted diet, then just omit it.


And leave me a comment if you have a great Seasoned Flour Recipe, I'm sure other visitors would be curious, too!


Take some chicken pieces and dip into the buttermilk, moisten all sides. Return buttermilk coated chicken pieces to seasoned flour. Coat the chicken pieces on all sides, pressing the flour into any crevices.


For a less messy method you could put the seasoned flour in a gallon ziploc bag, then add a few of the buttermilk coated chicken and shake the bag to coat chicken.

Now time to fry it up.

When the oil is hot, carefully add coated chicken pieces. Fry each side about 3-5 minutes each, until brown.


Allow chicken to fry a couple of minutes without moving it around. The coated chicken may stick to the pan, but don't move it. It will release itself.


When chicken is done let it drain for a minute on a rack or paper towel - I prefer a metal rack, as paper towels get damp with juices and may make the crust slightly mushy. Although you can blot off excess grease from the fried chicken with a paper towel. (Letting the fried chicken set for a minute allows it to cool down just a little, so you can bite into it without burning yourself.)


If you're not sure the Fried Chicken is cooked all the way through, then make a small slice into the thickest fried chicken nugget to see that the juices run clear, not red or pink - return it for frying if chicken is not cooked through, and give it another minute or so to cook through.


Serve with one of my dipping sauces.

Hindsight
For a lighter crust, leave out the buttermilk wash step - just coat the chicken in flour only.

Remember to let fresh fried chicken cool down for a minute, or you will get burned.

It's can be messy frying chicken. First, flour can get all over your counter and there will be grease splatter. For my video I fried the chicken pieces in a regular frying pan. If you have a deeper pot, then that will keep most of the hot grease splatter off your stove top. You can half-cover the pot when frying - but keep a lookout on the frying chicken to make sure it doesn't burn.

My Fried Chicken Tenders are well seasoned. Once you've done my recipe, fell free to adjust the seasoning amounts - more or less to your taste.

White meat, while more expensive is easier to work with. I prefer dark meat for the flavor, but it does have more fat and some chewy tendons - hey, I like me some chewy bits and extra texture.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Roast Chicken with Peaches & Herbs

Cooking with fruit in season is cheap, just like this Chintzy Chef ! I went to my local Latin market (Superior Grocers) and they had a huge bin of peaches for 69 cents per pound - I left with a bag full.


They had a nice color although the flesh was not ripe. But they are good enough to cook with, after letting them ripen for a couple of days. Normally you want to eat a ripe peach that's soft to the touch, but a firm peach is fine for my  Roast Chicken with Peaches & Herbs.


It's like when you make an apple pie, you want to bake with firm apple slices, so it doesn't turn to complete mush after baking. Of course, you can use a ripe peach for my recipe, I just didn't want to wait a week before digging into this dish.


My latest cheap$kate entree is loaded with taste. From sweet roasted peaches, to tender and moist chicken. I even add extra flavor with a splash of white wine and a sprinkle of herbs. You can use any favorite broth or fruit juice instead of white wine.


 (And this is a versatile recipe, so go ahead and leave out the herbs if you don't have them on hand, or just want to strip my recipe down to basics - it will taste just as good.)

I used 2 whole peaches and 2 chicken leg quarters, that is, 2 chicken thighs and 2 legs. I cut thick slices of peach, so you get meaty bites. And I found a great deal on boneless and skinless chicken, at 88 cents per pound! Well, you know I now have a freezer full of inexpensive poultry.


I like these kind of recipes, because there is so little work or preparation. Just slice a peach and add the chicken and fruit to a baking dish. Finally add a little liquid and seasoning, then start roasting and walk away for about an hour - couldn't be simpler. One pot entrees are the best.


A sweet nectar of white wine, chicken and peach juices are released when roasting that you will want to spoon-over a dry side dish like: rice, pasta, couscous, or quinoa.

My Roast Chicken with Peaches & Herbs is a delicious confluence of flavors and ingredients, mixing and complementing each other. Once you try my fruity entree, you'll definitely make it again....and again.

Roast Chicken with Peaches & Herbs - Video

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes.

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

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 2 chicken leg quarters - okay to use any chicken pieces you like or find on sale. I used skinless and boneless, that is 2 thighs and 2 legs total.
  • 2 peaches - I used firm peaches. Depending how large, it got 6 slice/wedges per peach. I like to keep the slices thick at the wide end. You can use other fruit like sliced apples or whole grapes.
  • 1/4 cup of white wine - okay to use a favorite broth, apple or orange juice, or just add water.
  • Herbs - about a teaspoon fresh chopped. I have a herb garden, so I used a mix of basil, oregano and parsley. You can also use favorite dried herbs or mix of herbs, like an Italian Mix. For dried herbs use only half of a teaspoon, total. (This recipe tastes good without herbs, too.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


Directions
Usually I will leave skin on and bone in the chicken pieces for this recipe. You can use skinless and boneless leg quarters or white meat fillets. (Reduce cooking time by 10 minutes or so, as boneless chicken will cook faster.)


Add wine (broth or water) and herbs. A little bit of liquid helps steam the peaches. It will cook away and replaced by chicken juices. If you are cooking breast meat then you may want a 1/2 cup of liquid to help keep the breast from drying out.

Add the chopped or dried herbs. Salt and pepper the chicken.


Wash and slice 2 peaches. I got 6 wedges per peach. I picked a firm peach. It will soften and sweeten when roasted. But ripe peaches will taste fine, they will just be more mushy.


Arrange the peach slices under, on top, and around the chicken pieces. That way you get different textures with the peaches. In the liquid they will be softer and will be flavored with the chicken juices and wine - while on top, they will brown more and stay somewhat firm.


Roast chicken uncovered, until done, about 45 minutes to an hour at 375 degrees. Depending how large the chicken pieces are, especially breast meat, you will want to check for doneness. Just pierce or slice into the thickest part of chicken with a knife. Juices will run clear when cooked through. If you are cooking with boneless chicken then reduce the time by 10 minutes, or so.

I roast the chicken uncovered so the skin gets brown and crackly, and some of the peaches caramelize.


And save some of juice to add to the plate, especially if you have something that sops up the sweet peach/chicken broth.

And for the fun of it here's the soul music couple Peaches & Herb singing "Reunited."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken, onions, herbs and red wine - what's not to love about Chicken Cacciatore. This one pot dish couldn't be easier to do, and you can make plenty of it, because it tastes even better the next day!


My recipe below will make 2-3 servings, but it's easy enough to just double the ingredients to feed more. And you can pair this dish with your favorite pasta.


I like to cook with wine, mainly white wine, but for a deeper wine flavor, red is the way to go. With slow simmering, the alcohol cooks away. And red wine goes especially well in a traditional Italian tomato and herb sauce.

I used a small airline bottle of red wine and it's just enough for my recipe. And I bet you know where I get my small bottles of wine....yep, the 99c only Store. Any red wine you can find cheaply will do.


I also get dried herbs there too. But if you have a herb garden then use fresh herbs. You can even use an Italian dried herb mix.



Chicken is cheap and I get mine at bargain basement prices from my local Latin market. Of course, you can use organic chicken if you can afford it.


So check back for more cheap$kate chicken recipes, and get going with this flavorful and easy to make Chicken Cacciatore.


Ingredients (2-3 servings)
1/2 chicken - or equivalent in chicken pieces. I used 2 leg quarters, that is, 2 thighs and 2 legs. You can leave on the bones and skin, or remove. I used boneless and skinless leg quarters on sale.
1 whole onion - medium size white or yellow, chopped.
14.5 ounce can of tomatoes - whole, chopped or crushed. The main thing is to have some tomato pieces in the sauce. You could use tomato sauce, just add a chopped whole tomato for some texture.
3/4 cup of red wine - I used a small airline bottle amount.Any type of red wine will do.
2-4 sage leaves - or 1/4 teaspoon dried
2-4 sprigs of parsley - or 1/4 teaspoon dried.
1 small sprig of rosemary - or 1/4 teaspoon dried.
1 bay leaf - fresh or dried.
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with pasta, rice or any favorite dry starch that can soak up the delicious Cacciatore sauce.
*It's okay to use an Italian dried herb mix instead of fresh herbs or individual jars of dried herbs - use about a teaspoon total.

Directions
Heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook on the skin side until browned, about 5-10 minutes. Don't move chicken for a few minutes so the pieces brown. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper to taste.


The first few minutes all the liquid will come out, then it evaporates and starts to brown. You don't need to cook the chicken pieces all the way through. You will finish cooking the chicken when you add all the liquid ingredients.


Once one side of the chicken is browned, remove and set aside. It's okay to brown one side, this cuts down on cooking time and you will serve the chicken with the browned side showing anyway.

Add a chopped onion and saute and stir to scrape up the tasty brown bits. Cook onion until it softens, about 5 minutes.


Next pour in the red wine and 1 small can of tomatoes. Stir and break apart the tomatoes if they are whole.


Sprinkle on the herbs. Finally add the chicken pieces. It's okay to use a teaspoon of an Italian dried herb mix instead of fresh herbs or from single jars of dried herbs.


Cook uncovered for about half an hour at a low simmer. The sauce will reduce by half and the chicken should finish cooking all the way through. (Depending on your stove top burner, you can add a quarter cup of water at a time, if the liquid cooks away too fast.)


After the chicken has been cooking for 15 minutes, you can make pasta. Follow the package directions.


The pasta should be ready when the Chicken Cacciatore is ready. Remove the bay leaf. Add pasta to a plate and top with some of the chicken and flavorful tomato sauce. Dig in and enjoy.


(You can break up the chicken pieces when they are done, but it's okay to just serve it up, big pieces and all.)
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