Cilantro Cooks Interviews The Cheap Gourmet

Cilantro-cooks-logo-the-cheap-gourmetI recently had the honor of being included in the "Expert Interview Series" at

We discussed ways to prepare affordably-priced, yet delicious meals, along with kitchen tools and equipment, favorite desserts and evening meals. They also included one of my favorite appetizer recipes - Cheese and Honey Filo rounds. You can read the full interview here.

I was unfamiliar with Cilantro - The Cooks Shop until I was contacted about the interview, but it has quickly become my go-to place for cooking essentials and information. They offer a variety of cooking videos such as how to cook with a SousVide machine, along with product reviews.

The "How To's" and "Helpful Advice" sections include multiple Expert Interviews which offer countless cooking tips, suggestions, and hacks from culinary professionals. There's also a comprehensive recipe collection where you can find ideas for appetizers and snacks, salads, main dishes, vegetarian dishes and desserts. One thing I particularly like is the array of Meatless Monday recipes.

Cilantro Cooks offers a loyalty reward point program which allows customers to redeem points for products. Points can be earned in multiple ways including registering for an account and commenting on blog posts or creating new forum topics. Learn more about the reward program here

Last, but not least, Cilantro Cooks offers monthly prizes and giveaways and if you signup for their newsletter, you will receive a coupon code for 10% off your first order.

Oh, and one more thing! If you reside in or near Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, you can shop at the retail store at 936 Hwy 325 Blockhouse. Stop by the store or visit their website for great deals on all your cooking needs. And, click here to follow them on Facebook

July 4th Beach Barbeque Recipes

July-4th-beach-barbeque-recipesCelebrating July 4th at the beach with family and friends was something I dreamed about as a kid. As a Midwestern, the closest thing I experienced to a beach was our above ground swimming pool in the backyard.

In 2006, my immediate family relocated to Florida and I finally had the chance to celebrate July 4th at the beach. Since then, we've created a fun menu that is easy to prepare and transport to the beach. It has become our tradition and each year more people join in the fun.

Our beach barbeque menu consists of jerk chicken kabobs, pineapple BBQ shrimp kabobs, multi-colored peppers pasta salad, baked beans, fresh veggie platter with Beau Monde dip, and grilled banana boat S'mores.



Jerk-chicken-kabobs-the-cheap-gourmetJerk Chicken Kabobs
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 24 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup Jerk Sauce
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 Red Bell Peppers, cut each pepper into 12 wedges
1 medium Sweet Onion, cut into 12 wedges and separated into chunks

1. In a resealable gallon-size plastic bag, add chicken and 1/4 cup jerk sauce. Gently toss to cover chicken then store in refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Using extra-long skewers, thread 4 chunks each of chicken, pineapple, peppers, and onion. Alternate ingredients and leave space between each piece. Lightly brush kabobs with remaining jerk sauce.
3. Cook kabobs over open-flame and rotate every 2 to 3 minutes for about 15 minutes or until chicken juice runs clear and vegetables are tender.

Pineapple-bbq-shrimp-skewers-the-cheap-gourmetPineapple BBQ Shrimp Skewers
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 to 8 minutes

1/2 cup Barbeque Sauce
3/4 cup fresh Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup fresh Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro, loosely chopped
24 large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into 2-inch chunks

1. In a small bowl, combine BBQ sauce, pineapple juice, lime juice, and cilantro. Using a wire whisk, combine ingredients until well incorporated.
2. Pour half of mixture into a resealable gallon size plastic bag. Reserve the remaining sauce for basting and dipping. Add shrimp, seal the bag, and shake well until shrimp is coated. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Using extra-long skewers, thread 4 shrimp and pineapple chunks; alternating pieces and leaving space between each. Lightly brush pineapple with BBQ sauce.
4. Cook kabobs over open-flame and rotate every minute or two for 6 to 8 minutes or until shrimp begins to curl and turn translucent pink.
6. Serve with remaining pineapple BBQ sauce.

Multi-colored-peppers-pasta-salad-the-cheap-gourmetMulti-Colored Peppers Pasta Salad
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour

1 (16-oz.) box Rotini pasta
1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper
1 small Red Onion
2 medium Carrots
1 (7.5-oz.) can medium, pitted Black Olives
1/2 bottle spicy Italian salad dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, slice peppers, onion, and carrots into thin strips. Drain juice from olives.
3. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. Transfer pasta, veggies, and olives to a large bowl.
5. Add salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper and mix until ingredients are well combined. 6. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour prior to serving.

Baked Beans

Crock-pot-baked-beans-the-cheap-gourmetI'm a little bit lazy when it comes to baked beans. I buy 2 cans of beans and add a few ingredients to boost the flavor. My favorite combination is 2 strips cooked bacon crumbled, 2 Tablespoons diced white onion, 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons ketchup. I cook these in the slow-cooker for 4 to 6 hours and transport to the bonfire in a covered foil pan.

Fresh Veggie Platter with Beau Monde Dip

Beau-monde-chip-vegetable-dip-the-cheap-gourmetMy sister's Beau Monde Chip and Veggie Dip recipe has been a family favorite for over 30 years. This dip is amazing with just about anything. It's perfect for veggies, chips, and pretzels.

Beau Monde dip is made with cream cheese, so must be kept on ice. I found a great serving bowl that can be placed in the freezer overnight and remains cold for 4 to 6 hours. If you often eat outdoors it's a product you might want to look for.

I serve a variety of veggies including Bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks, radishes, zucchini and cucumber slices. The dip is somewhat thick so it's best to use durable veggies. I arrange on a sectioned vegetable platter and insert a bowl of dip in the middle. If you don't have a chill platter, set a bowl of ice in the center and place the bowl of dip on top. Don't leave out in the heat for more than 15 minutes without ice underneath, and no more than 30 minutes with ice.

Grilled Banana Boat S'mores

Grilled-banana-boat-smores-betty-crocker-the-cheap-gourmetI discovered the recipe for grilled banana boat S'mores at the Betty Crocker website. This is a great dessert for kids and grown-ups and is super easy to make.

The original recipe is prepared by grilling bananas wrapped in foil. However, you can cook the S'mores over an open flame by sticking an extra-long skewer half-way into the banana.

Banana boat S'mores ingredients consist of whole bananas, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and chopped pecans. We store the chocolate chips in a small plastic container placed in the ice cooler until ready for use.

Once you try these S'mores you'll be hooked. Grab the recipe for Grilled Banana Boat S'mores at

Even if you aren't able to make it to the beach for July 4th, you can create a beach-themed party and cook foods on the grill. Close the night out with sparklers and fire crackers, weather permitting.


Pyrex Products

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My Fat Dad Book Review and Giveaway

My-fat-dad-the-cheap-gourmetI was recently invited to participate in a blog tour to promote Dawn Lerman's new book, My Fat Dad.

I was excited because 1) I haven't read a book in longer than I care to admit; 2) I love reading memoirs of food and family; and 3) I love to cook and enjoy trying new recipes. 

I have not finished reading My Fat Dad, only because of work hours. However, the first 149 pages have been gripping, entertaining, and emotional.

You see, Dawn's father was in the advertising business. Chances are you know many of his ads, as he was the brainchild behind famous slogans such as "This Bud's For You" and "Leggo My Eggo." He, like myself, tried every diet under the sun and experienced yo-yo weight loss/gain with his weight ranging anywhere from 175 pounds to 450 pounds. 

The family endured all the crazy fad diets, with Dawn's mother eating canned tuna to cope with her father eating the flavor of the day. Fortunately, Dawn had a grandmother, like mine, who introduced her to the culinary world and helped her form a healthy relationship with food.

My Fat Dad touches upon subject matter that I can relate to on so many levels. Each chapter showcases a chapter in Dawn's life and includes recipes related to the story.

She details the trials and tribulations of growing up, moving away from her beloved grandmother, being separated from her mother and sister while they were on tour for two years, her dad's stay at the 'Fat Farm', and her experiences with a mother who felt "modern food came in a can, a box, or a foam take-out container." 

One of the 'My Fat Dad' recipes that caught my eye was Peanut Butter Love - The Best Flourless Blondies. Long ago, I worked as cook at a health food store and the Executive Chef made a killer chocolate flourless torte that was to die-for.

No one knew it was flourless unless we told them. It was a great way to introduce "newbies" to healthy eating. 

Before sharing the recipe, just let me say, My Fat Dad is worth the read. Fortunately, I have a 3-day weekend ahead and look forward to lounging on the sand at the beach and burying my head in this book.


The Cheap Gourmet is offering our readers a chance to win a copy of My Fat Dad. The only requirement is to post a comment below and tell us why you'd like to win. The winner will be selected at random on Saturday, July 9 and notified via email. The winner's name will also be posted on our blog and Facebook page.  



Reprinted with permission from MY FAT DAD: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes By Dawn Lerman Berkley Books/2015


Yield: 12 squares


16 ounces natural, no sugar added, peanut butter (my tip: mix very well in the jar over the mixing bowl)
1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup
1⁄2 cup original soy milk or nondairy milk of choice
1 ripe banana, mushed
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3⁄4 cup dark, semisweet chocolate chips
Butter or oil for greasing the pan


1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2.In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, milk, and mushed banana. Mush it all up and combine well.

3. Mix in the beaten eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix together until well blended and smooth. Stir in half the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a well­ greased 8-­inch ­square Pyrex dish. Scatter the remaining chips on top.

Bake for 55 minutes, checking after 15 minutes to make sure the edges do not get too brown. If the top looks very brown, cover with foil and bake for the remaining 40 minutes. Cool and serve.


Here's where you can find Dawn:
Dawn Lerman, MA, C.H.H.C, LCAT, AADP
Nutrition Consultant, Speaker & Writer
NY Times Column
Facebook: Dawn Lerman - Author
Twitter: @DawnLerman

Easy Homemade Lasagna

Easy-homemade-lasagna-plate-the-cheap-gourmetLet's face it. Making traditional homemade lasagna can be a lengthy process. This meal is often made on weekends when we have more time in the kitchen.

However, sometimes we just crave it, so here's an option that will satisfy your tastebuds and fit into busy schedules.

The key to this easy homemade lasagna is the noodles. You'll want to use extra wide, such as traditional German egg pasta noodles from Bechtle or Homestyle egg noodles from Amish Kitchens. 

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes


1/2 bag wide noodles, cooked al dente
1/2 to 1 pound hamburger or Italian sausage, cooked (depends on how much meat you like)
1/2 medium Onion, diced
1/2 medium Green Pepper, diced
1 medium Tomato, seeds removed, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 (14-oz) jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon dried Parsley
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease 9 x 11 glass baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
  3. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  4. In skillet, cook hamburger or sausage. Remove from skillet and place on plate lined with paper towels to absorb grease or drain in colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Over medium heat, cook onion and green pepper in skillet until onion becomes translucent; about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour noodles into baking dish. Add remaining ingredients except for cheeses.
  7. Gently combine until ingredients are incorporated. Evenly spread pasta.
  8.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve immediately.



Treat yourself to some of the best pastas and sauces in the world at Food52. Click on the banner below to begin your culinary journey.


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Let's Talk About MightyNest

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This month, MightyNest is offering a special deal where you can get started with a LifeFactory waterbottle for only $5. The bottle is a 12 ounce glass water bottle that normally costs $18 or more. When you signup for the MightyFix and use promo code BOTTLEFIX2016, your first month will only be $5 and they'll make sure your first MightyFix is this Lifefactory water bottle! Sign up now and get this water bottle for your first month.

Glass water bottles are a great choice because (unlike plastic) chemicals will not leach into your drinking water over time.

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