Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Huevos Rancheros - Video Recipe

I am finally getting around to making videos of my favorites from recipes past, and Huevos Racheros is one of my extra tasty ones. This Mexican breakfast has corn tortillas combined with warm eggs and tangy tomato salsa, plus cheese melted into creamy refried beans. That's a lot of flavor to start the day.

Besides a simple fried or scrambled egg, I make Huevos Rancheros the most. Mainly because I keep a Ziploc bag or two of pinto beans and Mexican cheese in the freezer, just for making this delicious South of the Border breakfast.

Refried Beans

Huevos Rancheros is quick and easy to make. If you use canned refried beans then it's even faster. All you do is heat up some refried beans and tortillas, while frying a couple of eggs. You finish by smearing refried beans on warm tortillas, crumbling on cheese, layering on the fried eggs, and finally topping with more cheese and tangy, spicy salsa.

I make my Huevos Ranchero with white Mexican Queso Fresco cheese. It's a medium/soft and crumbly mild tasting cheese, that is similar to feta cheese in texture, but without the sour taste. It melts slower than regular cheddar cheese so give it more heating time if you like gooey cheese, or just use American-style cheese.

I like my eggs fried, that is, cooked on one side enough to get a slight crunch along the edges of eggs whites, while still keeping the yolk runny. You can make your eggs anyway you like: Sunny side up, over easy, poached, or even scrambled.

Usually corn tortillas are lightly heated up for a minute or two just before serving.

Any favorite store-bought jar of salsa will do, but I do have some Homemade Salsas for you to try sometime, just click here to see all the links. Bring salsa up to room temperature or zap it in the microwave in 15 second increments, until warm, but make sure to cover the salsa, as the tomato pieces tend to splatter.

I can get all the ingredients at a 99c Only Store or Dollar Tree, but any grocery stocks corn tortillas, eggs, pinto beans, cheese and salsa at decent prices. If you have a Latin market nearby be sure to check out their variety of tortillas, cheese and beans.

My recipe is for one serving of Huevos Rancheros, but it's easy enough to make a few servings if you have a can of beans and a jar of salsa. Just warm up a small stack of tortillas and a pot of refried beans, while the eggs are frying -- it's an easy assembly line.

Setting out a plate of Huevos Rancheros will impress any guest. It's so satisfying and a great way to start the day.

  Scrambled Eggs & Refried Beans - VIDEO

 Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 14 seconds.

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

 Ingredients (one serving - this recipe is easy to double)
  • 1 to 2 eggs - I like 2 eggs, while my wife likes one egg.
  • 3/4 cup of refried beans -  fresh or from a can. I also like to use black beans. Adjust the refried beans amount to suit your taste, add more or less.
  • 2 corn tortillas - okay to use one tortilla for lighter breakfast.
  • 1/4 cup salsa - any amount of your favorite salsa will do, fresh or from a jar.
  • Cheese - Mexican "queso fresco" or your favorite. Add enough to cover eggs and beans. You can use cheddar, mozzarella, Monteray Jack, or a cheese blend.
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil - enough to heat tortillas, eggs, and refried beans.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

If salsa is stored in the refrigerator, then reserve a serving amount from jar and let salsa reach room temperature.

Heat teaspoon of oil in pan or pot over medium heat. If you are using whole pinto beans then add them to heating pan, along with a tablespoon or two of bean broth. Mash beans with a fork or potato masher until they reach your desired creaminess.

It only took me a couple of minutes to heat through and mash. Set aside, or keep on lowest heat. Add bean broth as needed to keep refried beans moist. (If you mash a lot of beans, then just store extra in the freezer - refried beans freeze and defrost perfectly.)

If you are using canned or homemade refried beans then heat them up, even in the microwave.

Start heating corn tortillas on a pan or grill with a teaspoon of oil. Tortillas only need a couple of minutes to heat through.

As tortillas are heating up, use your favorite method of frying eggs. I like mine sunny side up, but you can make them over easy, or even scrambled.

When eggs are 1/2 done crumble on Mexican cheese to begin melting. Regular cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or Monterey Jack, melts faster, so you can add it just before the eggs are done.

When eggs are done, it time to bring it all together.

On a plate add warm tortillas and spread on hot refried beans. Sprinkle on some cheese and slide on the cooked eggs with melted cheese. Finally top with your favorite salsa.

And don't forget the hot sauce!

I have a Homemade Red Beans recipe that you can use for beans from scratch (substitute pinto beans for red beans,) just click here.

Pinto beans are typical for Huevos Ranchos, but mashed and refried black beans are just as delicious.

You can use any favorite cheese you have on hand. And add as much as you like.You can make this dish with one fried egg or two.

If salsa topping is from the refrigerator make sure to allow it to reach room temperature; or heat-up your favorite salsa on the stove top just before serving over cheese-topped eggs. You can also zap salsa in the microwave in 15 second increments, but make sure to cover the heating bowl, as tomato pieces will splatter when hot! Cold salsa on hot Huevos Rancheros is a no-no.

I have a bunch of salsas recipes, just click on any name to view: tangy Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo,) Red Chili (2 dried types - but same recipe,) Pico de Gallo, and Mango Salsa.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

BBQ Lemon Marinated Chicken

When chicken comes on sale I fire up the grill, especially during the summer months. Lucky for me I also have a lemon tree across the way, so there are always a few lemons on my kitchen windowsill. If you have a BBQ grill, it couldn't be simpler to do a quick BBQ Lemon Marinated Chicken recipe.

Tart lemon and juicy chicken belong together. Sure it's sour, but when exposed to heat and mixed with poultry flavor and char, the taste mellows and give grilled chicken pieces the right amount of lemon tang.

I used fresh lemon from a local tree, but it's okay to use those plastic lemon-shaped juice vessels. You can also use lime juice. I get my plastic lemon from the 99c only Stores.

Chicken is the cheapest protein and I use it a lot. I get mine from my local Latin market. Whole leg quarters come on sale in 10 pound packages for 49 cents per pound; even half breast with skin and bone can be found there for 99 cents per pound. But my favorite deal is skinless and boneless leg quarters for 99 cents per pound!

To keep it cheap use leg quarters that include thigh and leg meat combined. It's easy enough to pull off the skin and slice out the bone. It doesn't have to be a perfect fillet, as long as the meat will not slip through the grill grating when barbecuing.

White meat is the easiest to fillet. The breast meat practically slides off,  when you cut along the bone. In both cases you do want to use a fairly sharp knife blade. I have a cheap sharpener and always give my main knife blade a few drags through it when it comes to deboning chicken

Remember, it's easy to debone breast meat, but takes a bit more blade maneuvering for dark meat leg quarters - but with some practice, you will get better at it.

Of course it's okay to just leave the chicken skin on and bones in - it's all good!

So next time you fire up the grill, get out the lemons for BBQ Lemon Marinated Chicken.

  • 4 pieces of chicken - I used 2 skinless and boneless leg quarters (leg plus thigh). Okay to use chicken with bones and skin.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice - about 2-4 lemons, depending on juiciness. Okay to use store-bought lemon or lime juice.
  • Salt and pepper - to taste.

Slice lemon in half and microwave for 15 seconds or so, to get the most juice. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken pieces.

Salt and pepper pieces of chicken to taste. Mix well. Let chicken marinate in refrigerator for at least half an hour. You can let it go longer, up to a couple of hours.

Simply grill chicken over medium heat. It took my gas grill about 20 minutes total to cook chicken all the way. Depending on the fire-heat it can be quicker or slower to cook. Chicken with skin and bone will take longer - about 10 minutes more.

If you are cooking chicken skin-on, make sure to have a spray bottle with water handy for fire flareups that can blacken grilling chicken too much.

To check for doneness, just slice into thickest part of chicken . Chicken color should be white or light brown - there should be no pink juices or color. Final check is internal temperature at 165 degrees.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Whole Grain Pilaf - Deal of the Day

This is the most colorful Deal of the Day I've seen in quite a while, and it's as tasty as it is kaleidoscopic. I can highly recommend Luvo's Whole Grain Pilaf.

Just check out the natural ingredient list - it's a long one: zucchini, eggplant, quinoa, kale, onion, garlic, artichoke, red bell pepper, almonds, apple and raisins, to name a few of them.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Even the packaging is natural and made of recycled paper and soy-based inks. (And with a sell by date of 2055?!!)

I microwaved the entree and watched as the bag expanded - I was prepared for it to explode, but it collapsed after heating through.

Make sure to mix the ingredients after microwaving, especially if the raisins are clumped together, which can overpower the other veggies and grains with too much sweetness.

There are no overwhelming spices or extra-spicy heat that I could detect, which is usually why this type of high quality frozen entree shows up in 99c only Stores. The flavors are all from the medley of grain, veggies and fruit.

Slices of zucchini and eggplant were a little overdone, but still flavorful. And the veggie pieces are large enough to distinguish from each other. All the disparate flavors go well together.

This if not a typical fluffy rice pilaf - more like a wet risotto.The overall texture is on the mushy side, all the veggies and fruit moisten the brown rice and quinoa, a little too much. Not bad, it's just too wet for typical rice pilaf that I've had before.

At 10 ounces, this is a light lunch, but all the quinoa and brown rice helps satisfy a midday appetite. And, if you added a bit of protein, like cooked chicken, this would be a filling dinner. But to keep it vegetarian bulk up by adding a favorite pasta or more grain - the pilaf is damp enough, almost like a thick veggie pasta sauce. Click here to see one of Luvo's Whole Grain Pilaf recipe hacks.

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, Luvo's Whole Grain Pilaf gets a perfect 9. Even being on the mushy side, this veggie entree still packs a tasty punch. I would even purchase it at regular price from my local grocery store, that is if it's not too expensive.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

4th of July Recipes

This holiday is smokin' at the Cheapskate Chateau for the 4th of July, and that means getting out the BBQ grill for a backyard blowout. So read on as I light up the sky with recipes, selected especially for Independence Day dining. Just click on any recipe name below and you'll be directed to my original blog post recipe page of eats illustrated with yummy photos.

Smoking Pastrami

Lets start with the main meat course. This Chintzy Chef cooks with chicken because it's the cheapest.

And dark meat is the best bargain. I can even get boneless and skinless chicken leg quarters on sale for around 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market. They also sell 10 pound bags of plain whole leg quarters for 49 cents per pound. Even white breast meat comes on sale for 99 cents per pound.

Use your favorite BBQ sauce for a traditional red, white and blue backyard poultry cookout. I just season cheap chicken pieces with salt and pepper and slather on the BBQ sauce. Before serving, slice into the thickest part of chicken piece to make sure the juices run clean - no pink or red is allowed!

What makes America great is our mosaic of cultures, so why not get multi-culti and try my recipe for a Thai-style Chicken Satay with a Peanut Dipping Sauce. The Japanese version of grilled Shish Kabobs is called Yakatori. And the Japanese like to grill it all, even chicken livers. If that is too pungent for you it's okay to substitute liver with pieces of regular chicken fillets. Everything tastes better when served on a skewer.

Chicken Satay - ready for the grill.

You can't go wrong with grilled hot dogs, and I have a couple of unusual recipes I think you will enjoy (it's easy enough to substitute hot dogs with your favorite specialty sausages - if you're the artisanal type).

Here in Los Angeles we have a uniquely constructed wiener sold by sidewalk purveyors called the L.A. Street Dog. It's a crazy combination of sauteed onion and bell pepper that's strewn over a bacon wrapped wiener, then topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and finally crowned with a spicy jalapeƱo!

You've never had a hot dog like this - it's the roman candle of finger foods. In my video below I grill the bacon wrapped wiener on the stove top, but it's even better sizzling on your BBQ grill.

Allow me to introduce to you to a Currywurst, which is a sausage or hot dog that's grilled and topped with a spicy sauce consisting of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, cayenne pepper, and curry powder (dried cumin). This Berlin, Germany delicacy started just after WWII as street food for British and American soldiers stationed there. It sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but it works and it's so easy to make, so give it a go - it makes a great appetizer served with toothpicks.


Another Eastern European entree is made with grilled Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer. Now that's a combination I can get behind! Again, I cooked this dish on a stove top but you can cook the sausages over an open fire for extra charred flavor.

I like plain hot dogs with just relish and mustard. To add some veggie crunch, try my bastardized version of a Chicago Dog. I can't get dayglow green relish out here in LA so I tweaked the Windy City's fast food classic by adding some chopped lettuce along with traditional sliced tomato. Check out my wacky video below, where my Chicago Dog is the punchline.

Hamburger is a backyard grill favorite and I have a South of the Border spin with my Mexi-Turkey Burger. It packs a lot of flavor with the main ingredient, Mexican chorizo, which has a deep flavored red chile taste, spiced with paprika, Mexican oregano and garlic powder. And you can use regular ground beef instead of poultry. Get out the salsa for my Mexi-Burger.

Attention all you lovers of smoked pork, the following entree will have you asking for seconds and thirds. I like to smoke a whole pork shoulder when I throw a patio BBQ party.

If you have traveled the South then you've run across BBQ Pulled Pork. Mainly served between buns and topped with BBQ sauce, this crowd pleasing self-serve sandwich has it all: smokey tender pork that's seasoned with a dry rub of sugar and spice.
Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Click on photos to see larger.

Just set out a tub of Pulled Pork along with hamburger buns, BBQ sauce, sliced onion, pickles and Coleslaw, and get out of the way as the line forms. And I have an easy gas grill smoking method you can see in my video below.

Pork Carnitas are my favorite tacos. While not done on a BBQ grill it's still one of my go-to backyard holiday foods, so I gotta give you the recipe anyway. You can always give it a quick smoke pass to kick it up a notch. It really is the perfect party food because you sit back and let your friends build each taco their way. Go to the following blog post to see some tasty Homemade Salsas to serve with any tacos you like to make.

Carnitas Taco

And pork is still cheap these days, especially when it comes on sale at my local Latin market. So you won't break the bank feeding your lovers of all things porcine.

I seldom cook with beef because it's just too darn expensive, but when I splurge it's for ribeye steak. I just season it with salt and pepper, that's it. Sometimes I'll finish it with a little BBQ sauce. But if you want to impress your guests then try out my Carne Asada recipe. Ribeye (or any favorite tender cut) is marinated in cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice and a little ground cumin. When done, chop the meat for Carne Asada Tacos or a Warm Steak Salad.

Carne Asada Marinade

If you are smoking meat, then throw on a slab of corned beef brisket for Homemade Pastrami. I always freeze 2 or 3 corned beef briskets when they are on sale for less than 2 dollars per pound during St. Patrick's day.

My Smoked Homemade Pastrami recipe is tasty as any Jewish Deli version - so says everyone I've served it too. I think it's because the smoky flavor it more intense fresh off the grill, than from a deli where the pastrami has been setting in the cold case for a few days. Hey, don't take my word for it, give it a shot and get ready for the all the high fives sure to come your way!

Seafood and a BBQ grill go together. You have to have a delicate touch as fish is easy to overcook. But it's done quickly so you won't smell too smokey slaving over the grill.

Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash

My nephew Zakk has put in his time as a line cook, and he gave me a Top Chef performance in his recipe video for Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash. While he does his sauteing in the kitchen, you can grill the fish over an open flame, instead of the stove top.

I have a deep fried Fish Taco recipe that's easily adapted for outdoor grilling. Just leave off the batter and grill the fish for a lighter and healthier pescado. Check out my recipe for all the details, including a cool Creme Topping.

Seafood Ceviche

A bag of tortilla chips and a light Seafood Ceviche made with budget fake crab is a chill appetizer to greet the guests with.

For my vegetarian friends the following recipes are for you. My sister Denise has a fav veggie Eggplant Burger (and easy enough to BBQ instead of frying pan sauteing).

 Eggplant Burger

Portabella Mushroom Burger

A tasty meat substitution is an earthy Portabella Mushroom Burger that's topped with grilled bell pepper and cheese (or use a cheese substitute). Roast a few ears or corn to serve with the veggie burgers or go a little further and make my Roasted Cream Corn.

It's all about the veggie sides when you have a BBQ patio party, and boy do I have the recipe cherry (tomato) flavor bombs to prove it. You can simply drizzle a little olive oil and season any fav summer veggie to grill over the fire.

 Braised Romain Heart

Click on any recipe name to get my recipe details for: Russet and Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Bell Peppers, Zucchini with Herbs, and Braised Romain Hearts (originally done inside, but easy enough to do outside).

You gotta have Potato or Macaroni Salads when you grill meat. I have a colorful Peanut Coleslaw made with red cabbage. But a regular Deli Coleslaw it good enough for me.

Deli-style Coleslaw

While your guests are waiting for the main event get them started with light salads like: refreshing Watermelon, Mango and Spinach; hearty Black Bean & Corn; a tangy Cuban Salad, or luscious Pears & Spinach with Herb Cream.

Watermelon, Mango & Spinach Salad

If you are doing burgers, then you want fries to go with it, and my double-fried French Fries does the trick.

I like a pot of beans on the stove simmering while I'm grilling. Cook them the day before and they taste even better the next. Be sure to set out a stack of bowls so your guest can help themselves. I like to have some grated cheese and minced onion on the side. My New Orleans friend, Miss Patty, has a delish Vegetarian Red Beans recipe for you, and I have my own Beef & Bean Chili.

There is nothing better at stoking appetites than walking past the kitchen and inhaling the savory perfume of legumes slow cooking on the stove top.

And great grocery deals are happening this week, too. Steak, hamburger, chicken, corn, watermelon and hamburger buns are all on sale right now. Be sure to check out your local grocery fliers for all the holiday deals.

Independence Day is fast approaching, so create your own 4th of July menu using any of the Patriotic Chef's recipes above. I guarantee your guest will need to chase down the flavorful culinary fireworks you serve with iced tea and a lemon slice, a glass of chilled Chardonnay, and a frosty bottle of beer. Bring it on!

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