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.

MY FAT DAD GIVEAWAY

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.  

 

Peanut-butter-love-flourless-blondie-pan-my-fat-dad-the-cheap-gourmet

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

 
PEANUT BUTTER LOVE - THE BEST FLOURLESS BLONDIE

Yield: 12 squares

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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.

Peanut-butter-love-flourless-blondie-my-fat-dad-the-cheap-gourmet




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

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

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

  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.

  Easy-homemade-lasagna-pan-the-cheap-gourmet

 

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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Old Fashioned Homemade Ham and Bean Soup

Growing up, my mom made ham and bean soup with cornbread on a weekly basis. She was the Queen of stretching a dollar, as she was a stay-at-home mom with 4 kids trying to feed 6 people on one income.

She would prepare a bone-in ham for Sunday dinner and use the leftovers for grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and ham and bean soup.

Mom made everything from scratch and insisted that the only way to avoid bland and boring ham and bean soup was to use dry beans (never canned!) and include the ham bone during the cooking process.

Nowadays, it's just my husband and me, so rather than purchase a bone-in ham, I usually buy a small boneless ham and a ham hock. Feel free to use whichever method works best for your family.

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OLD FASHIONED HOMEMADE HAM AND BEAN SOUP

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bean Soak Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb package dry White Beans
1/2 large White Onion, diced
2 medium Carrots, diced
2-3 medium stalks Celery, diced
6 cups Vegetable Broth
1/2 lb pre-cooked Ham, cut into bite-size chunks (Hickory, Smoked & Honey Ham are great choices)
3-4 large cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1 teaspoon fine Pink Himalayan Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Bay leaves
1 medium Ham Hock

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a colander, wash and drain beans and check for any residue or rocks.
  2. In a large stock pot, add beans and cover with water, about 2-inches above beans.
  3. Cook over high heat until boiling, then reduce to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.
  5. Drain beans, place in a container and set aside.
  6. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable broth to stock pot and heat over medium high for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes; until onion becomes translucent.
  8. Add vegetable broth and remaining ingredients and stir.
  9. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours; until beans are soft and tender.
  10. Remove ham hock from soup and scrape meat from bone, if desired.
  11. Transfer to individual soup bowls or mugs and serve immediately.

This recipe pairs well with Buttermilk Jalapeno Cornbread.

 

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Buttermilk Jalapeno Cornbread Recipe

Buttermilk cornbread has been one of my favorites since I was a kid. My mom used to make homemade ham and bean soup with a side of cornbread dripping in butter. Those were the good ole' days when it wasn't a sin to add a pat or two to breads and rolls.

My tastebuds have evolved since childhood and while I still love homemade cornbread, I now add chopped jalapenos to give it an extra kick. And, sometimes I even toss in cooked bacon bits, which makes it even better!

This recipe is simple to prepare and will be ready to enjoy in about 45 minutes. It is the perfect companion with Old Fashioned Homemade Ham and Bean Soup

004 (2)BUTTERMILK JALAPENO CORNBREAD RECIPE

Yield: 1 8x8 square loaf (about 12 portions)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon all-purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 cup Buttermilk
1 large Egg
1 medium Jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 450°F. Grease bottom and side of 9-inch round pan or 8-inch square pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk and egg, then add jalapeno.
  4. Add to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.
  5. Pour into the pan and spread batter evenly.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

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Red Potatoes with Bacon and Gorgonzola

My family refers to these red potatoes with bacon and gorgonzola as "crack" potatoes because they are so addicting! Better yet, they are easy to prepare and make the perfect side dish for just about anything. We enjoy them with hamburgers, steaks, pork chops, ribs, and even seafood. 

When selecting red potatoes, look for small to medium sized tubers as they will cook faster and be much easier to smash. Larger potatoes are a bit more difficult to work with and often fall apart during the smashing. If this occurs, simply use your hands to form potato patties. Be certain that potatoes are fork tender and lightly oil the bottom of a glass for a more uniform smash.


Crack-potatoes-bacon-gorgonzola-the-cheap-gourmetRED POTATOES WITH BACON AND GORGONZOLA

Yield: 12 potatoes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

12 small red potatoes
3 teaspoons Himalayan Pink Salt or coarse Sea Salt (2 teaspoons for salting water and 1 teaspoon for seasoning)
4-5 slices thick Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup Peanut Oil or Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese crumbles

DIRECTIONS:

1. Thoroughly wash potatoes and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover potatoes with about an inch of water above.

2. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring water to a boil over high heat. 

3. Reduce heat to simmer and cook potatoes until completely tender; about 30 minutes. 

4. While potatoes are boiling, prepare bacon. Fry in a skillet or bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes. Drain grease from bacon and after it's cooled, chop into pieces and set aside.

5. Drain cooked potatoes and let cool for a few minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Lightly grease the bottom of a drinking glass. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and gently smash each one to form a patty.

8. Brush each potato patty with a light coat of oil, then season with salt and pepper.

9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning potatoes over once.

10. Remove potatoes from oven and top each with bacon crumbles and Gorgonzola cheese. 

11. Return to oven and bake for 3-4 minutes or until cheese becomes bubbly and light golden brown.

12. Remove from oven, transfer to serving plate and serve immediately. 

 

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Sausage and Beef Hand Pies

Meat-hand-pie-the-cheap-gourmetPersonally, I love meat pies because they contain an entire meal in flakey dough and can be consumed without utensils.

I'd never attempted making my own, simply because I don't have a great track record with dough. However, I found a recipe for Natchitoches Meat Pies at Food Network and felt I could pull it off. I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes and am happy to report the dough was light, flakey and crispy and very easy to make. 

The sausage and beef hand pies have become a favorite in our household. I've modified the recipe in various ways and used ground turkey and chicken, different types of beef, breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs, and even a vegetarian version. Let your imagination run and see what ingredients you can change to create your own version of meat pies. 

SAUSAGE AND BEEF HAND PIES
Yield: 12 individual pies
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2-3 minutes per batch of 3 pies

INGREDIENTS:

MEAT PIE FILLING:

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1/3 lb Grassfed Ground Beef
1/4 lb Ground Sausage (we prefer Chorizo or Andouille)
1/4 cup Leek (or sweet onion), finely chopped
1/4 medium Bell Pepper (red or green), finely chopped
1 rib Celery, finely chopped
1 small Jalapeno (seeds removed), finely chopped
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoon organic all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Beef Stock (Kitchen Basics is our preferred choice)

MEAT PIE DOUGH:

1-1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
1 Egg
1/2 cup whole Milk
Vegetable or Peanut Oil for frying

MEAT FILLING DIRECTIONS:

Meat-pie-filling-the-cheap-gourmet1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add coconut oil and coat bottom of skillet.
3. Add ground beef and sausage and stir cook until browned; about 5 minutes.
4. Add the leek, bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, salt and pepper.
5. Stir and cook until vegetables are soft; about 6-7 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.Stir in flour and beef broth.
7. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened; about 1 minute.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

PASTRY DOUGH DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Use a fork or pastry blender to cut shortening into flour mixture until it becomes coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk together. 
  4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until dough is pliable. 
  5. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a round disc.
  6. Pastry dough can be used immediately or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

ASSEMBLY DIRECTIONS:

Meat-pie-dough-the-cheap-gourmet1. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces.
2. Lightly dust a cutting board or work surface with flour.
3. Flatten each piece into a 6-inch round disc; about 1/4-inch thick.
4. Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on one side of the dough. Fold in half and crimp edges with a fork to seal them.

COOKING DIRECTIONS:

1. In a deep fryer or large skillet, preheat oil to 375 degrees.
2. Carefully place 2 to 3 meat pies into the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides; about 3 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pies to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb grease.
4. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy.

 

 

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Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos Stuffed with BBQ Meatloaf and Cheese

When making the BBQ Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Onion Bombs from the previous post, you'll likely have some leftover meat. Here's a way to utilize leftover meatloaf and squeeze an extra meal out of it.

Not only are these stuffed jalapenos perfect for a fast dinner, they also make fabulous appetizers. They pair well with garlic butter rice, brown rice, fries, and loaded baked potatoes. 

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-3-the-cheap-gourmetBACON WRAPPED JALAPENOS STUFFED WITH BBQ MEATLOAF AND CHEESE

Yields: 12 individual peppers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

6 large Jalapeno peppers, cut in half with seeds removed and stems intact (cut stems to 1/2")
1/2-cup raw BBQ meatloaf
6 slices thick Bacon
1/4-cup Cheddar Cheese, finely shredded

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fill each jalapeno half with meatloaf mixture; about 1 Tablespoon per pepper.

3. Cut bacon in half and wrap diagonally around each pepper to cover meatloaf. (Start on the top and gently pull bacon to extend length as you wrap).

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-the-cheap-gourmet

4. Place in a baking pan and bake for 15-18 minutes; until bacon is slightly crispy with brown edges. Remove from oven and carefully top each pepper with a pinch of shredded cheese.

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-2-the-cheap-gourmet

5. Return to oven and bake for 2-3 minutes; until cheese is melted and bubbly.

6. Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy.

 

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BBQ Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Onion Bombs

Everything about these BBQ bacon wrapped meatloaf onion bombs is amazing and certain to please the carnivores in your family. Not only are they easy to prepare, they can be made in advance and frozen for those nights when you don't want to cook.

I wish I could take full credit for the recipe, but instead it is adapted from one I found at MyFridgeFood.com. It's a great source for all types of recipes based on what you currently have in the fridge, plus guests can submit their own recipes for a chance to win prizes.

For us, the beef onion bomb is a meal in itself, but it would pair well with a fresh garden salad, steamed green beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes or fries.

Bacon-wrapped-beef-onion-bbq-bomb-the-cheap-gourmet

BBQ BACON WRAPPED MEATLOAF ONION BOMBS
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 2

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound grassfed ground beef
1/4 medium Green Bell Pepper, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground Pink Himalayan Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (we like Emeril's Original Panko breadcrumbs
1 medium egg, beaten
1/4 cup Half & Half or whole milk
1/4 cup BBQ sauce, plus extra for brushing (my favorite is The Shed Spicy Sweet BBQ Sauce)
2 medium White or Yellow onions
6 thick slices Applewood or Hickory Bacon

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except onions and bacon.
3. Cut the top and bottom off each onion and remove skin. Cut in half and remove core, leaving 3-4 thick outside layers.
4. Divide meat mixture in half and roll into balls.
5. Wrap onion halves around meat to create a seal around the meatball.
6. Wrap each bomb with 3 slices of bacon and secure with toothpicks.

Bacon-wrapped-beef-onion-bbq-bomb-1-the-cheap-gourmet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Bake in glass casserole dish for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
8. Brush with BBQ sauce and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Super Easy Pepperoni and Mozzarella Pizza Rolls

Need a fast, yet flavorful appetizer or meal? If so, you'll love these pepperoni and mozzarella pizza rolls. With only 4 ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you can enjoy ooey-gooey pizza rolls for a fraction of the cost of delivery pizza.

Pepperoni-stuffed-pizza-rolls-the-cheap-gourmet

SUPER EASY PEPPERONI AND MOZZARELLA PIZZA ROLLS
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes
Yield: 16 pizza rolls

INGREDIENTS:

1 can Pillsbury 'Original' Grands Biscuits

40 slices Pepperoni (we like Bridgford brand)

16 (1-inch) cubes Mozzarella Cheese

1/3 cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated

1/4 cup Marinara or Pizza Sauce, for dipping

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease 9-inch pie dish.
  3. Place biscuits on lightly floured cutting board. Cut in half and gently smash with hand palm. Carefully remove from cutting board and shape into round disc.
  4. Add 2 slices of pepperoni (side-by-side and slightly overlapped) and place cheese cube in center. Wrap excess dough around pepperoni and cheese, roll into a ball, and place in pie dish. Repeat until you have 16 pizza rolls.
  5. Place one slice of pepperoni between each roll. Top with shredded mozzarella.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving plate with marinara sauce and serve immediately. 

Pepperoni-stuffed-pizza-rolls-3-the-cheap-gourmet


Close to Restaurant-Style Pho Soup Recipe

A few years ago, an Asian restaurant opened nearby and everyone was raving about the Pho. Since I had never had it, I couldn't tell if it was authentic or not, but the flavor was something I never forgot.

I began researching Pho recipes and they all called for oxtail or bone marrow bones with very long cooking times.  They also included spice mixtures of anise & fresh ginger, along with cilantro, bean sprouts, chile-garlic sauce, Thai Basil, and green onions for garnish. 

Being married to a picky-eater who doesn't like (or won't try) half of the ingredients, I had to come up with a recipe that he would enjoy without sacrificing the taste. I also wanted a recipe that didn't take hours of simmering; something I could make on the fly without sacrificing taste.

After a few tries, I came up with what I refer to as 'Faux Pho'. While there's nothing fake about it, the process takes less than 30 minutes and the taste is pretty close to the restaurant at a fraction of the cost. 

Faux Pho Restaurant Style Soup

FAUX PHO Close to Restaurant-Style Pho Soup Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 large bowls or 6 medium bowls

INGREDIENTS:

1/3-pound Filet Mignon, Skirt Steak or Sirloin, slightly frozen and sliced paper-thin across the grain (set aside to rest at room temp)

1/2 medium White or Yellow Onion, sliced thinly

3-inches fresh Ginger, peeled and grated

3-4 medium Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 medium Jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped

4 medium Baby Portobello Mushrooms, thinly sliced

Juice of one Lime

2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

1 Quart Beef Broth (I prefer Kitchen Basics for the rich broth)

1/2-package of wide rice sticks, soaked, cooked & drained (or substitute with Fettuccine noodles)

Toppings can include: Bean Sprouts, chopped Cilantro, chopped Thai Basil, and/or Scallions cut into thin slices

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice beef and set aside. 
  2. Preheat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 Tablespoons of Beef Broth, onions, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and beef broth. Stir ingredients until well incorporated. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. While soup is simmering, prepare noodles according to package directions. Noodles should be al dente at most, to avoid over cooking after adding to the broth.
  5. Drain and add to broth. Cook on low for 3-4 minutes to return noodles to temp. 
  6. Add raw beef to soup bowls and carefully ladle soup over the meat. The meat will cook in the soup due to the thin slices.
  7. Top with your favorite additions and enjoy!

  

 

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Wine of the Month Club Makes a Great Holiday Gift

Looking for gifts for the hard-to-buy-for people on your list? Look no more! Clubs of America offers an assortment of monthly clubs that keep on giving long after the holidays have passed. Options include: Beer of the Month, Wine of the Month, Flowers, Fruit, Cigars, Coffee, Chocolate, Pizza and Mix Your Clubs, which allows you to choose a different club each month!

Better yet, there are no minimums or restrictions and shipping is free! Each club is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and you can choose to pay upfront or as you go.  Those who purchase an annual subscription and pay upfront, receive $25 in instant savings. 

Clubs of America has been providing exquisite wines since 1994 and is a well-established company with a fabulous reputation.

Wine-of-the-month-clubAs one who enjoys a glass of wine, I love Wine of the Month Club. You can select Mixed, Red or White, which provides three bottles of wine from select vineyards around the globe.

These award-winning wines are produced by small regional wineries and offer recipients the opportunity to enjoy unique selections month-after-month. 

Each month, recipients receive three different bottles of hand-crafted wines from around the world. Locations include the U.S., Italy, South Africa, Australia, Portugal, and Chili, to name a few. Because these wines are produced in small batches, chances are the only way you'll be able to experience them are to buy through the wine club.  

Wine Expeditions Newsletter is included with each shipment which offers in-depth information about the varietals and suggested pairings. 

Beer-of-the-month-clubIf your family or friends are beer drinkers, consider getting them a Beer of the Month subscription. I purchased one for my husband in 2008 and he loved it so much it has become an annual tradition.

They take great care in packaging to ensure everything arrives safe and sound. And, the beer selections are amazing. I'm not a big fan of beer, but I do enjoy many of the microbrewed beers that arrive from the club. 

Beer_of_the_month_club_cheapest

Selections have included pale ale, red ale, IPA's, lagers, porters, and stouts. We enjoy the unique labels almost as much as the brews! All beers are brewed in the USA and celebrate America's finest. 

Zonker_stout_beer_of_the_month_club_cheapRecipients are treated to twelve rare craft beers in four different styles each month, along with Beer Expeditions newsletter and a personalized Beer Club gift letter.  Packages include three bottles or cans of four flavorful microbrewed beers. This is the ideal gift for beer lovers and will be appreciated by all who receive it.

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Slow Roasted Garlic Chicken Recipe

The slow roasted garlic chicken is the star of our Sunday dinner. I stuff the cavity with any leftover vegetables in the crisper. Most common selections include: one whole onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, and one lemon. Cut the lemon in half and place one half inside the cavity; add remaining vegetables; than seal the cavity with the remaining lemon half.

Slow-roasted-garlic-chicken

Ingredients:

1 whole Roasting Chicken (6 to 7 pounds)
1/2 stick unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2-inch thick triangles
6 cloves Garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1 teaspoon Olive Oil

Slow-roasted-garlic-chicken-resting-the-cheap-gourmet

Directions:

1. Remove organs from cavity and dispose or use for gravy. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Stuff cavity with vegetables, if desired.
3. Place chicken in slow cooker. Separate skin from meat in the breast area. Place 3 to 4 butter pads under the skin on each side of the breast.
Using a paring knife, make small slits at the leg joint. Place 2 to 3 pads of butter under skin.
4. Place 2 to 3 garlic cloves under skin in breast and leg areas.
5. Wash hands, than mix seasonings together.
6. Drizzle olive oil over entire bird and lightly rub oil to cover the surface.
7. Evenly distribute spices and lightly pat.
8. Cover and cook over high heat for 3 hours.
9. Baste with juices, cover and reduce heat to low for 3 to 4 hours.
10. Remove chicken from slow cooker and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
11. Remove vegetables from cavity and discard.
12. Gently pull chicken legs and wings from the body.
13. Slice breast meat crosswise into 1-inch slices.
14. Transfer to serving platter and serve immediately.

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Organic Banana Walnut Bread

There's a new business in town, NSB Eats Organic, that offers a great produce home delivery service. The owner, Jana Caylor, is passionate about the quality of her products. In fact, she even goes directly to the farmer and hand selects every egg that she delivers. 

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My family is enjoying all the fresh fruits and veggies and I am thrilled that everything is delivered to my door. I place my order online over the weekend and my box of goodness arrives Tuesday afternoon. 

Last week, I ordered organic bananas, along with those farm fresh eggs, so I could make my all-time favorite loaf bread. My husband, who doesn't normally like banana bread, loved the organic version. Jana's bananas were substantially more flavorful than conventional brands. 

The following Banana Walnut Bread recipe is not 100% organic; however, the only ingredients that are not include the cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. 

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ORGANIC BANANA BREAD RECIPE
Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Florida Crystals Organic Sugar
1 stick Organic Valley Pasture Butter
2 farm fresh Eggs
3 organic Bananas
1 tablespoon Organic Valley Grassmilk
2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
2 cups King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
1 cup organic Walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork until they are slightly lumpy. Add milk and cinnamon and mix together until ingredients are incorporated.

4. In another small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. Add banana mixture to creamed butter and sugar. Stir until well combined. 

6. Add dry ingredients and mix until flour disappears. Fold in chopped walnuts.

7. Pour batter into pan and bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on baking rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.

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Broasted Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes are tasty tubers which are small in size. They are a great alternative for dishes that call for russet or new potatoes. Fingerlings can be baked, broiled, boiled, roasted, broasted, fried, sautéed, grilled or mashed.

Fingerling potatoes are available in grocery stores, but prices are usually on the high side. A better option is to purchase from local Farmers markets because prices are usually about half of what they cost at chain grocers. Not to mention potatoes purchased from local family-owned markets are generally fresher than store-bought potatoes.

The skin of Fingerling potatoes ranges in color from light tan to vibrant purple, while the interior color ranges from creamy white to light gold. These potatoes have a mild, yet complex flavor that pairs well with meat, seafood and all types of vegetables.

Fingerling potatoes will stay fresh for two or three months if stored in a cool, dry place. I have found that storing Fingerling potatoes in a burlap bag or green bags can extend their freshness for an additional week or two.

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Broasted Fingerling Potatoes 
Serves: 4 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound Fingerling potatoes 
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
2 teaspoons Kosher salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Wash and dry potatoes. 
3. Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water (about 4 quarts). Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. 
4. Add one tray of ice cubes to a large mixing bowl and fill half-way with cold water. 
5. Drain potatoes in a colander and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Let potatoes sit in water for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain. 
6. Pour ice water out and transfer potatoes into the bowl. 
7. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and gently toss until ingredients are incorporated. 
8. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil. Transfer potatoes to roasting pan and arrange in a single layer. 
9. Place in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown. 
10. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately.


KN Family Kitchen Sweepstakes Recipe Contest

Do you have a favorite recipe that you cook with your family and friends? If so, consider entering the KN Family Kitchen Sweepstakes for a chance to win the Ultimate Spa Giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a two night stay at the luxurious Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ, sleepwear, robes, and other comfortable things from Karen Neuburger. Other prizes include SpaFinder.com gift cards for 1st, 2nd, and honorable mentions. 

Submission dates for the KN Family Kitchen Sweepstakes are August 4 thru September 15, 2014. Entries can be submitted online at www.KarenNeuburger.com/recipe-contest

As one who grew up cooking in the kitchen with my mom, I absolutely love the concept of this contest. As an adult, I've carried on the tradition of cooking together by hosting parties where guests help out in the process of preparing a meal. Of course, fondue always comes to mind, but other options include everything from Sunday Brunch to an entire Greek meal

It's very easy to submit your recipe online. The Karen Neuburger website includes an easy-to-navigate form so all you have to do is enter your name, email, ingredients, and your story about the recipe. 

The contest is open to legal residents in the U.S. and Canada (excluding the province of Quebec) who are 18 years of age or older. This is a fantastic opportunity to win a retreat at the World's Best Wellness Resort!


Tailgating Fingerling Potato Pockets

Tailgating Fingerling Potato Pockets 
Serves 4 
Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound Fingerling potatoes 
4 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced 
1 medium Vidalia Onion, thinly sliced 
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash seasoning 
Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

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Directions:

1. Wash and dry potatoes. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and transfer to medium size mixing bowl. 
2. Remove skin from garlic cloves and thinly slice. Add to potatoes. 
3. Remove skin from onion, cut into quarters and remove center core. Cut into thin slices, lengthwise and add to potatoes and garlic. 
4. Add olive oil, Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper. Gently toss to incorporate ingredients. 
5. Tear off four sheets of aluminum foil, approximately 10-12-inches in length. 
6. Place 1/4 of potato mixture in the center of each piece of foil. Bring sides together to create a seal and fold edges tightly. 
7. Place potato pockets on the center grate of a preheated grill or place in the oven and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes. 
8. Carefully open foil packets using oven mitt to prevent steam burns. 
9. Transfer to individual dinner plates and serve immediately.


Black Beans and Rice with Bacon and Andouille Sausage

Success-thai-jasmine-white-rice-the-cheap-gourmetAs a food blogger, I am often asked to test and review products. Such is the case with Success® Rice. You're likely familiar with the brand, as they revolutionized the boil-in-bag process; making it a breeze to prepare perfect rice in 10 minutes.

Success Rice sent a package of their fragrant Thai Jasmine white rice, which has a nutty flavor and flowery fragrance. Jasmine rice is one of my favorites and I use it often.

I was given free reign to prepare any type of dish I wanted. As one who loves to experiment with different techniques and flavor profiles, I decided to try a Brazilian-Thai fusion entree.

I scoured Success Rice Pinterest page for ideas. I was inspired by several pins and am now armed with a new arsenal of rice recipes. It offers a wealth of information and great options for easy family dinners, comfort foods, lunch recipes, seasonal dishes and much more.

I also visited the Success Rice website, which offers hundreds of recipes for everything from breakfast to dessert. They have a great Healthy Living section and provide an abundance of product information, cooking tips, and frequently asked cooking questions.

The following recipe is a take on Brazilian black bean stew and Thai garlic butter rice. 

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Black Beans and Rice with Bacon and Andouille Sausage
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

 INGREDIENTS:

 Bacon, Sausage, Black Bean Stew

 4-5 slices hickory smoked Bacon, diced

2 links Andouille Sausage, quartered and diced

1/2 large White Onion, finely chopped

1 medium Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped

2 (16 oz) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed

3 large Garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp dried Oregano

1 tsp dried Parsley

1 tsp Adobo seasoning

1 tsp ground Cumin

1 tsp ground Black Pepper

1 Bay leaf

2 cups Beef Broth

1 medium Tomato, medium chopped

2 individual packages Success Jasmine Rice

DIRECTIONS:

 1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped bacon and stir frequently to render fat. Cook until edges begin to brown, then add sausage. Stir together and cook for about 5 minutes or until sausage skin begins to crisp.

 2. Add onion and green pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until onion becomes translucent. Stir frequently.

 3. Add the black beans, garlic, seasonings, and bay leaf. Stir together and cook for 2-3 minutes.

 4. Add beef broth and reduce heat to medium low. The stew needs to simmer for about 25 minutes, or until beans begin to break down and easily mashed with a fork.

 5. In a large saucepan, add 3 quarts water and rice packages.  Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes. 

 6. Remove rice with tongs or fork and drain thoroughly. Cut bag open and pour into a serving dish.

 7. Add chopped tomatoes and gently fold into stew.

8. Transfer stew to a bowl and serve items side by side or spoon the stew on top of the rice.

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I'm very glad I had the opportunity to experiment with Success Jasmine Rice and hope I've inspired you to try something new. One thing is certain, the company lives up to their name and provides a no-fail rice that is aromatic, flavorful and easy to prepare.

 Get more recipe ideas from Success Rice via their Facebook page and join their "Riceipe Club"® to receive coupons and special offers, contests and sweepstakes, customer surveys, product taste tests, and e-newsletters. 


Roasted Fingerling Potatoes in Herbed Olive Oil

Fingerling potatoes are a great alternative for dishes that traditionally use russet or new potatoes. Fingerlings are tasty tubers which are small in size and shaped similar to human fingers. They can be baked, broiled, boiled, roasted, broasted, fried, sautéed, grilled or mashed.

Fingerling potatoes are often sold in grocery stores, but prices can range as high as $6 per pound. A better option is to purchase Fingerlings from Asian or Farmers markets because prices are usually about half the price charged by chain grocers. Not to mention potatoes purchased from local family-owned markets are generally fresher than store-bought potatoes.

The skin of Fingerling potatoes ranges in color from light tan to vibrant purple, while the interior color ranges from creamy white to light gold. These potatoes have a mild, yet complex flavor that pairs well with meat, seafood and all types of vegetables.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes in Herbed Olive Oil 

Serves: 4 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Bake Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound Fingerling potatoes 
2 cloves Garlic, minced 
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1 Tablespoon fresh Basil leaves, chopped 
1 Tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped 
1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Wash and dry Fingerling potatoes. 
3. Slice potatoes into 1-inch thick round slices and place in 8-inch square glass baking dish. 
4. Pour olive oil over potatoes and add basil, parsley and seasonings. 
5. Mix ingredients by hand or use a serving spoon until potatoes are lightly covered with oil mixture. 
6. Place in oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown. 
7. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

 

Roasted-fingerling-potatoes-in-herbed-olive-oil-the-cheap-gourmet

 


Chocolate Banana Changa Mexican Dessert

Do you like frozen chocolate-covered bananas? If so, you are going to love these Chocolate Banana Changas. This easy-to-prepare dessert includes a banana smothered with chocolate chips, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, deep-fried and and slathered with pecans, caramel and chocolate sauce.

The following recipe makes a perfect after-dinner dessert for two. You can easily double or triple the recipe as needed. These do not store well, as the deep fried changa tends to get too greasy after cooling. It's best to eat these hot, while the chocolate is still melted.

CHOCOLATE BANANA CHANGA 
Serves: 2 
Prep Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients:

1 quart Peanut, Vegetable or Canola oil 
2 medium fresh Bananas, peeled 
2 Tablespoons semi-sweet Chocolate Chips 
2 (10-inch) Whole Wheat Tortillas 
1 Egg, yolk only 
2 Tablespoons Pecan pieces 
2 scoops Chocolate or Vanilla ice cream
4 ounces Caramel Sauce, warmed 
1 ounce Chocolate Syrup

Directions:

1) Add oil to large 6-quart saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and allow oil to rise to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2) Place tortillas on microwave-safe plate, cover with waxed paper and heat for 1 minutes. You want the tortilla to be pliable and easy to work with, so do not overheat. 
3) Roll bananas in chocolate chips, then place in center of tortilla. Fold ends over, then wrap tightly. 
4) Whisk egg yolks and using a pastry brush, coat the tortilla to create a seal. 
5) Deep fry changa until golden brown and chocolate is melted; about 4 minutes. 
6) Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. 
7) Transfer to serving dish. Cut the changa diagnonally, in the center. Arrange changa with points up on dessert plate. 
8) Add scoop of ice cream in center of two pieces. 
9) Sprinkle with pecans, then drizzle with caramel sauce and chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

Deep-fried-chocolate-banana-changa-mexican-dessert-the-cheap-gourmet


Bacon, Gorgonzola and Scallion Belgian Waffles

Ready to gourmet-up your waffle? Love eating waffles for dinner? If so, you will love this Bacon, Gorgonzola, and Scallion Belgian Waffle! This sweet and savory treat is super easy to prepare and will leave you satisfied and full.

Not only is this bacon and cheese waffle a great meal, it is also a great appetizer. Rather than serve it whole, cut into 8 slices and serve with warm maple syrup and confectioner's sugar. It's amazing!

While I prefer homemade waffle mix, you can substitute with boxed mix. One of my favs is Krusteaz brand. You can also change up this recipe by using different types of bacon and cheese. 

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BACON, GORGONZOLA, AND SCALLION BELGIAN WAFFLES RECIPE

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4-5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices Cherrywood or Applewood Bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 Scallions, thinly sliced. Reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish
1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese, grated
2 cups all-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1-1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Eggs
2 cups Buttermilk
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Bacon grease

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add bacon slices and cook each side for 4-5 minutes; until crisp. Transfer bacon slices to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease. Reserve 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease. When cool, chop bacon into small bits.
2. Slice scallions thinly and set aside.
3. Grate cheese and set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Whisk ingredients until well combined.
5. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and bacon grease.
6. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Batter will be somewhat lumpy.
7. Fold in bacon bits, cheese, and scallions.
8. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.
9. Lightly spray waffle iron with non-stick spray.
10. Add about 1 cup of batter per waffle. Close waffle iron and cook until light turns green.
11. Transfer waffles to serving plate and top with maple syrup and scallions.


Chocolate Balsamic Glazed Sirloin and Potato Onion Bacon Hash

This recipe for chocolate balsamic glazed sirloin and potato onion bacon hash is certain to be a huge hit! While it tastes as though you spent hours preparing it, this gourmet meal takes less than an hour from start to finish.

I purchased chocolate mandarin balsamic vinegar from a vendor at our local Farmers Market, but it can also be found in specialty stores such as Dean and Deluca. You can also try online stores such as the Olive Branch Oil and Spice Company

CHOCOLATE BALSAMIC GLAZED SIRLOIN AND POTATO ONION BACON HASH
Servings: 2
Marinade Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 (5-ounce) Top Sirloin Fillets
1/3 cup Chocolate Mandarin Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus 2 Tablespoons
2 Tablespoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped, plus 2 small sprigs for garnish
4 strips Bacon, chopped
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
8-10 Pearl Onions, ends and skin removed
4-6 medium Baby Portobella Mushrooms, gills removed and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh Garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, and chopped rosemary. Add the sirloin steak and coat boat sides, then allow to marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

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2. Slice Yukon Gold potatoes and submerge in a bowl filled with cold water. 

3. Place a large saute pan on high heat and add remaining olive oil. Heat until oil begins to smoke. Drain water from potatoes and carefully add to pan along with pearl onions.

4. Place a medium saute pan on high heat and add chopped bacon. Cook until crispy, then reduce heat to medium and add portobella mushrooms and garlic. Stir ingredients together and cook for 5-6 minutes until onion becomes translucent. 

5. While the potatoes are finishing, remove sirloin steak from marinade and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper, if desired. 

6. Place the steak on a broiler pan or heated grill and cook each side for 3-4 minutes for medium-rare.

7. While steak is grilling, add bacon, mushroom and garlic mixture to potatoes and mix well to combine ingredients. 

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8. Remove steak from grill/broiler and let set for 2-3 minutes. Divide potato onion bacon hash in half and transfer to dinner plate. Serve the steak on top of the hash and garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig. 

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Chocolate Covered Marshmallows on a Stick

Chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick are one of the easiest treats to make and almost everybody loves them. I prefer to use the giant-size marshmallows, but you can use regular or mini marshmallows. When using mini-size, opt for a toothpick rather than a stick!

Kids love making chocolate covered marshmallows. Depending on their age they can do a variety of tasks. Little ones can help put in the sticks or decorate, while older kids can help dip in melted chocolate. It's a great way to create lasting memories or even family traditions. 

CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOWS ON A STICK

Servings: 28-30 using giant marshmallows
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Dipping and Decorating Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag giant marshmallows
1 (12 ounce) bag Milk or Dark Chocolate melting discs
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, peanuts, sprinkles, or mini chocolate or butterscotch chips
28-30 Sucker Sticks

DIRECTIONS:

1. Using a double-boiler, add chocolate wafer discs and heat over low heat until melted.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sucker stick in the center of each marshmallow and place on sheet.
3. Dip each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Shake off excess, then lightly roll the sides in nuts, sprinkles or mini chips. Set on baking sheet and let dry for 20-30 minutes.

 

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Rustic Italian Chicken Sandwich

Here is a simple rustic Italian chicken sandwich recipe that's affordable and easy to prepare. I purchase a loaf of freshly baked bread from our local bakery, which yields 4 good-sized sandwiches. My favorite breads include poppyseed (as shown in the picture), sesame seed, and of course, Italian.

It's best to marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes to infuse the Italian dressing flavor. It's even better if you can marinate for a few hours. This Italian chicken sandwich is perfect for lunch or dinner and is always a favorite at family gatherings. 

RUSTIC ITALIAN CHICKEN SANDWICH
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Servings: 4
Marinate time: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minute

INGREDIENTS:

1 loaf Italian bread, quartered
1-1/2 cups bottled Italian Dressing
4 (4-ounce) Chicken Breasts
1 medium Tomato, sliced
4 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pour Italian dressing into a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken breasts and gently massage dressing into each piece. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. 

2. Slice bread loaf lengthwise, then cut into 4 sections. Wrap in foil and set aside.

3. Slice tomato and chop lettuce; set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and place in skillet. Cook for 6-7 minutes per side, until no longer pink.

6. While the chicken is cooking, place bread in oven and heat for 7-8 minutes.

7. Assemble sandwiches and sprinkle each chicken breast with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Pairs well with chips and a pickle spear!

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Introducing Spinach and Kale Chips from The Better Chip

When The Better Chip asked me to review their new Spinach and Kale chips, I was hesitant. I love raw spinach and baked kale chips, but couldn't imagine combining these flavors into a tortilla chip. This is probably why I'm a food blogger instead of a recipe developer.

I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the The Better Chip spinach and kale chips. They were incredibly fresh and had a nice crunch. Each chip had the perfect amount of sea salt which enhanced the flavor of the kale.

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While the chip wasn't lacking in flavor, I wanted to experiment with various types of dips. First, I dipped the spinach and kale chip in guacamole. It was pretty good, but I felt the avocado wasn't the best match for the flavor profile. Next, I tried salsa and enjoyed the contrast between the tomato and spinach.

Finally, I tried my all-time favorite Beau Monde dip consisting of cream cheese, onions, and Beau Monde seasoning. For me, this was the perfect match because the cream cheese married well with the spinach and kale. In fact, it was so good that I soon devoured almost half a bag – oops!

In addition to sending a full size bag of kale and spinach chips, The Better Chip also sent snack pack bags of Sweet Onions, Red Pepper, and Jalapenos chips. I also received an awesome T-shirt that has a really pretty green design on the front. It's made from super soft fabric and is very lightweight; making it ideal for the hot weather we've been experiencing.

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I thoroughly enjoyed all the flavors, but my all-time favorite is the Red Pepper chip. It has a lot of zing and paired well with the salsa.

What I like most about The Better Chip snacks is they are made with fresh ingredients that you can actually see in the chip. Even better is these chips are non-GMO and gluten-free. They are perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores who enjoy real food manufactured from natural ingredients.

Overall, I'd rate all the chips at a 10. I am still surprised at how much I enjoyed the spinach and kale chips. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to sample them because I have found a new snack that I can enjoy without feeling guilty. Learn more about The Better Chip at www.TheBetterChip.com or follow them at Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheBetterChip.


Florida Red Royal Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

This dish was prepared using Florida Red Royal shrimp from our local Farmer's Market. It uses fresh shrimp broth made from the shells and heads for an extra boost of flavor. Use the leftover shells to fertilize garden plants. They contain chitin, which activates plants' natural defense mechanisms and minimizes fungus growth. 

Florida Red Royal shrimp is very similar to rock shrimp. The meat's texture is comparable to lobster. It is considerably more salty than other types of shrimp, so be careful when adding salt. Additionally, it requires about half the cooking time of shrimp. 

FLORIDA RED ROYAL SHRIMP SCAMPI WITH LINGUINI

INGREDIENTS:

Shrimp Broth:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
3 cups Water
Shells and heads from 2 pounds shrimp

Shrimp Scampi:
2 pound red royal Florida shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
1/2 medium Onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Shrimp Stock
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 box Linguini
Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place shrimp in a colander and rinse with cold water. Cut off heads and remove shells. Using a paring knife, butterfly each shrimp and devein. Place peeled shrimp in a bowl and put in refrigerator until ready to cook.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp shells and heads and cook for 2-3 minutes; stirring frequently.

3. Add 3 cups water, stir gently, and reduce heat to simmer. Gently press shells to release flavor into the water and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Place a bowl under a colander. Strain shrimp shells and set stock aside.

4. In a 2-quart saucepan, fill 2/3rd with water and a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Add linguini and cook for 10-12 minutes or until soft to the tooth.

5. While linguini is cooking, lightly season shrimp with salt and pepper.

6. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to turn pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

7. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

8. Add lemon juice, white wine, and shrimp stock. Bring to a boil and reduce stock by two-thirds; about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add shrimp and butter.

9. Drain linguini and add to shrimp mixture. Gently stir until well incorporated and finish with parsley. Transfer to serving plates and enjoy!

NOTE: Store leftover shrimp stock in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or, pour into ice cube trays and freeze, then transfer to a plastic bag. Add frozen cubes to soups and stews, or use for sautéing vegetables.

 

 


 

 


Deep Fried Bacon and Cheese Biscuit Appetizers

Okay, so I know there is absolutely nothing healthy about these deep fried bacon and cheese biscuit appetizers, but sometimes a person needs a little guilty pleasure. This is one of mine. Chances are it will become one of yours too!

Not only are these bacon and cheese biscuits deliciously tasty, they are also super easy to make. You can enjoy these wicked appetizers in about 20 minutes from start to finish. Experiment with different types of bacon and cheeses to create your own flavor profile.


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DEEP FRIED BACON AND CHEESE BISCUIT APPETIZERS
Yield: 20 appetizers
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
1 can of 5 count Buttermilk biscuits
10 slices bacon – medium to thick cut works best
20 1-inch cube Mozzarella cheese
20 toothpicks

NOTE: It's best to use a deep fryer, but if you don't have one use a large skillet.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oil in deep fryer or skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. While oil is heating, quarter each biscuit and set aside.
3. Cut Mozzarella cheese into 1-inch cubes.
4. Cut bacon slices in half.
5. Gently flatten biscuit quarters into rounds. Place cheese cube in center; fold sides over cheese; and roll into a ball. Wrap with ½ slice bacon and cover as much of the biscuit as possible. Secure with toothpick.
6. Carefully drop biscuits into hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip. Remove from oil when bacon is crisp. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease. Serve and enjoy!

 


Super Easy Chicken Sausage and Bean Soup

I love hearty soups that can be served as a meal. This chicken sausage and bean soup offers robust flavor that will fill you up and leave you satisfied. It pairs well with a garden salad and homemade yeast rolls.

What's great about this sausage and bean soup is you can make it with just about any type of sausage. Mild or spicy Italian pork sausage, Chorizo, chicken or turkey sausage, or even breakfast sausage works well. The same holds true for the beans. I like to use 1 can each of dark red kidney and white cannellini, but have also used pinto, navy, and even butter beans. Have fun creating your own unique flavor profile. 

Chicken Sausage and Bean Soup
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 to 1-1/2 hours

Ingredients:

1 (32 oz) container chicken broth or 4 cups homemade stock
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
4-5 chicken sausage links, halved and cut in thin slices
*I used chicken sausage stuffed with mozzarella cheese which added a nice flavor
1 (15 oz) can EACH red kidney beans and cannellini beans, or 2 cans of one kind
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a stock pan, add 1/4 cup chicken broth and bring to boil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onion becomes translucent; about 5-7 minutes. Add chicken sausage and stir to combine ingredients.

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2. Drain juice from one can of beans. Add remaining juice and both cans of beans, along with herbs. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

3. Ladle into soup bowls, top with grated cheese, and serve immediately.

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Bacon Wrapped New Potatoes

My husband saw someone making bacon wrapped new potatoes on a TV show and decided to try them. They were so yummy that they quickly became one of our favorite side dishes.

Besides being delicious these bacon wrapped new potatoes are easy to prepare and quick to cook. They can be baked, broiled or grilled and make a great side dish or appetizer.

Since the bacon is secured to potatoes using toothpicks it's best to soak the picks in water for a few minutes to prevent them from burning – unlike the ones in the photos.


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BACON WRAPPED NEW POTATOES
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Servings: 12-18 potatoes (varies depending on number of potatoes in cans)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

8 slices thick Bacon, cut in half (adjust according to number of potatoes)
2 (15 ounce) cans whole new potatoes, drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toothpicks

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place toothpicks in small bowl, cover with water, and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Wrap each potato with half-slice of bacon and secure with toothpick.
4. Place potatoes in baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp. Turn potatoes halfway through cooking time.
5. Remove from oven and transfer to plate lined with paper towels to absorb grease. Let sit 2-3 minutes then transfer to serving plate.

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Italian Sausage Pasta e Fagioli Soup

If you're looking for soup with substance you'll love this Italian Sausage Pasta e Fagioli Soup. Not only is it packed with a tremendous amount of flavor, it's incredibly easy to make and ready in about 30 minutes.

The following Italian Sausage Pasta e Fagioli Soup was adapted from a copycat recipe I found for Olive Garden's soup. I tweaked the ingredients to make it more suitable for our palates. I added Italian sausage and used a combination of white and red kidney beans. Feel free to adapt it for your tastebuds!

Sausage-pasta-e-fagioli-soup

ITALIAN SAUSAGE PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP
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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound ground Italian Sausage
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 white Onion, chopped
2 medium Tomatoes, diced
2 cups organic Chicken Broth
2 teaspoons dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 can (15-ounce) Red Kidney Beans (undrained)
1 can (15-ounce) Cannellini (White Kidney) Beans (undrained)
1/4 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
8 ounces Ditalini Pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 cups water, plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil (for pasta)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, heat Italian Sausage over medium-high heat until cooked, about 7 minutes.

2. Add garlic and onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, oregano, pepper and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add kidney beans with brine, and parsley. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. In a medium-size saucepan, add 6 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon of olive oil and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just barely tender, about 9 minutes. Drain and add to soup. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

6. Transfer to serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

 

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