Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for September, 2005



[ Currently Eating: Baloney Bologna Sandwich ]

Reese's Chocolate Covered CookiesSo I couldn’t find a suitable item to review for Cheap Eats today so I made way to my trusty box of goodies that I recently won off of The Impulsive Buy for inspiration. Hm… Hershey Reese’s COOKIES? Sort of weird to be snarfing cookies, seeing as it’s still 10:00 in the morning. Let alone Chocolate Dipped Cookies with Peanut Butter in them.

Marvo gave them a 5 out of 5 score in his earlier review in March and they were only 99 cents according to him which is a quarter a cookie. Free for me though, hooray says wallet.

Interestingly, he said he bought 2 packs and then reviewed one while freezing the other. I wonder if this is the “other”. =) In that case, I can also comment on how the cookies stand up to freezing as well as the taste.

I’m not even going to get into how bad these things probably are for you, but on the bright side the package proudly states that there are 0 grams of Trans Fat in it. They don’t tout the quantities of the other kinds of fat in them though. Nor the sugar.

Reeses Cookies Unwrapped
Speaking of sugar. Wow. These were super delicious, I mean unbelievably decadent – delicious. But boy were they sweet. Even with some milk to take off the sweet edge. My teeth were almost retracting into my gums to avoid contact.

The picture is a little blurry because my hand was shaking while holding the camera. Because I was drooling in anticipation of chocolate covered cookie goodness…

Continue reading “Hershey Reese’s Cookies” …


[ Currently Eating: Yep, Hawaiian Tea ]

Hawaiian Natural TeaI recently received this triple pack of so called Hawaiian Natural Tea from my parents so I decided to run it through the Cheap Eats ringer. Actually, it IS from Hawaii (company is from Honolulu). The flavors of the boxes were “Mango Peach”, “Pineapple Strawberry” and “Passionfruit Orange”. Sounds like typical flavors for Hawaii. I picked the Passionfruit Orange for a taste test.

First, I guess it is marketing, but what’s with the need to put “Natural” along with Hawaiian Tea? That makes me think there’s some Unnatural Hawaiian Tea which doesn’t sound very good indeed, especially since we are talking about leaves from a tree here. I guess they mean the other items in the tea are 100% natural, or perhaps that the tea is organically grown.

Speaking of that, the ancient persons (from China) who originally came up with marketing dried leaves in your hot water as a beverage is a genius. Yeah, I know there are tea-people (just as there are wine-people, coffee-people etc.) who only insist on the finest teas and can easily tell the origin and quality of a single tea leaf, but that’s not me. I will do Lipton as likely as I’ll do Oolong Tea grown from a single mountain in Taiwan (not kidding, we have some of this at home).

Anyhow, to the tea itself. There are 8 tea bags or packets in each box and they contain a mix of organic green and black tea. The side proudly proclaims “No Carbs, No GMO’s (genetically modified organisms, no kidding) and Rich in Antioxidants, Calories 1″.

Hawaiian Tea in a CupThat is a good start I guess, but for Cheap Eats we care about price. Tea is pretty expensive especially when you’re talking about dried up leaves. But if you go with either bulk bagged stuff or hand scooped leaves from specialty tea shops (there are many near me) instead of packets like this, I think it comes out much cheaper. I probably wouldn’t splurge on a 3 pack gift box like this one, which will run you about $8.00 or so for 24 packets.

Continue reading “Hawaiian Natural Tea” …


[ Currently Eating: Wonderful Coffee ]

Jiffy Pop Mallow Magic(ed. note: TEE HEE I WUZ CHECKING TO SEE IF YOUS ARE AWAKE, I ARE NOT VERY BRIGHT AT GETTING NAME RIGHT: JIFFY POP EQUALS JOLLY TIME IN ALL SENTENCE BELOW, THANKS U KISS KISS)

Popcorn. I hadn’t had it in awhile, so this was perhaps good timing to try this Jiffy Pop Mallow Magic in that “Mystery Box” I won off of The Impulsive Buy. Indeed, this seems to be the item that most readers wanted to hear about so let’s get to it.

This is a sort of interesting idea, though in no way original. It’s basically like that flavored popcorn that you can buy in specialty stores, except that this one you pop yourself and then add the flavor. And the flavor that they’re going for here is “Yummy Marshmallow”. Very interesting choice.

Here is what the back of the box says:

“Ready for a little pop corn hocus pocus? Start with flavorful, crunchy pop corn kernels, charmed with a hint of sweetness. You add the magic by pouring on the luscious, creamy marshmallow topping. Ta Dah – there’s nothing to it! You’ll be enchanted by each crispy kernel’s delectable, mallow-y melt-in-your-mouth flavor. So magically scrumptious, before you know it … poof … your Mallow Magic Microwave Pop Corn has disappeared!”

I wonder who has the job to write the copy for the boxes of these products, because I want that job. A great opportunity to use words those words you studied for on the SAT, like “mallow-y“, “poof” and “Ta Dah“. Also, the illustrations on the box show some kids eating corn with eyes the size of anime characters. But they don’t look cute, they look mighty scary… like some zombification has taken place from eating the popcorn.

Burnt CoverBefore I get to how it tastes and stuff, here is a warning for all potential Jiffy Poppers. I’ve had this happen before, but I must have forgot. The “flavoring” for flavored microwave popcorn contains oils and that directly contacts the bag. Now, when you heat oil in the microwave for a long time on high, it no doubt starts to get a little hot. So it was an extremely stupid of me to put the Popcorn Bag on top of a microwave plastic container. I usually put it straight on the glass bottom, but I just was lazy to take it out. The picture at right shows the wonderful results.

Continue reading “Jiffy Pop Mallow Magic” …


[ Currently Eating: Buckwheat Soba Noodles And Tea ]

Soba Noodles with Egg and Green OnionWe eat a lot of Japanese style noodles at our house. I have been meaning to write up a simple recipe on making soba, ramen, somen, and udon, but I just never got around to because usually I’m too hungry to sit around taking lots of pics.

So anyhow, this is going to be about Buckwheat Soba noodles which I think also have Yam in them. (For reference, the extremely thin vermicelli-like noodles are Somen noodles. Slightly thicker noodles, around size of spaghetti are Ramen noodles. The fatter thick noodles that look like fettucine that is round are called Udon noodles). Soba noodles are one of my favorites to make at home. The first thing you’ll notice is they are this weird greyish brown color which may take some getting used to (well, squid ink noodles are black so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch). They get that werid color from the buckwheat and mountain yam paste that is in them.

The texture of the buckwheat noodles can also take some getting used to. They have a slightly gritty feel to them, even when cooked through. They most often come packages of pre-measured individual bundles, usually 3-6 in a pack.

All of these noodles can be eaten various ways, hot and cold, which is nice because you can prepare them based on the weather outside. Cold noodles in the summer are really good, as are hot soup based noodles in the winter. They can also be served outside of soup with a saltier soy based dipping sauce on the side, or in Dashi (Japanese soup stock) that is meant to be drunk along with the noodles.

The secret is in the Dashi, and what goes in it. You can make soup stock much easier and cheaper using “Hon-Dashi” dried soup stock, but the flavor of this owes much to MSG and is quite salty. But I often do it that way if I don’t have Kombu or Katsuo and it comes out fine… so if you do omit those items and just use the hon-dashi.

This is an approximation of how to make hot soba noodles w/ soup. I find that each time the recipe is a bit different but this is basically what I do to make a bowl of the above noodles:

Hot Soba Noodles With Soup

2 “bundles” of dried Buckwheat Noodles — $0.75
3-inch square of dried Kombu (kelp seaweed) — $0.25
1 cup of Katsuo (dried bonito flakes) — $0.30
2 green onions – $0.10
2 tbsp Mirin (sweet rice wine) – $0.25
4 tbsp Soy Sauce – $0.05
1 small piece of ginger, smashed – $0.10
salt – negligible
2 eggs (if desired for egg pancake) – $0.30
1/2 tbsp oil – $0.05
4 cups water, plus more for boiling noodles – negligible

Total: $2.10

Start boiling a large pot of water for noodles. In another medium sized pot, put the 4 cups water and the piece of Kombu over low heat. Now make the egg pancake (if you want). Beat eggs in small bowl with 1 pinch of salt. Over low heat in an omlette skillet, heat up oil for 30 seconds. Add eggs and cook for about 1 minute. Using spatula, lift up the edges of the egg cake. Now cover it and cook until the top is just barely solid. Flip it with the spatula, turn off heat and let cool in pan. Cut into slices and set aside.

When the Kombu-water boils REMOVE the Kombu. A little goes a long way, so no need to leave it in. Add Mirin, Soy Sauce, Ginger and the white ends of the two Green Onions, smashed. Cook until it boils, then reduce heat to as low as possible and keep it simmering.

When the water in the large pot boils, throw in the Buckwheat Soba. Keep a cup of cold water on hand. The Soba makes the water boil over sometimes, so if things start to get hairy, throw in some cold water. Cook until al dente, and then RINSE WELL under cold water in colander. This is opposite of what they tell you with Italian noodles, but very important. In fact, some people use ice to cool the noodles down quickly.

Now add the Katsuo (dried bonito flakes) to the dashi soup stock. You absolutely need to add this near the end for full effect. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Strain the bonito, onion bits, and ginger out of the stock into another bowl. Put the stock back in the pot and keep it hot.

Slice up the remaining green onion into slivers. Arrange the noodles in a bowl with the sliced egg and green onion on top. Pour the soup stock on top of the noodles. Sprinkle some Japanese pepper flakes on the top if you like.


Continue reading “Buckwheat Soba Noodles” …


[ Currently Eating: Some Pistachio Nuts ]

Alton Brown from Food NetworkI didn’t know for the longest time that my polling system had been completely foobar-ed until the other day. Well, it was time to change it out anyhow but still it was a bit disappointing to have lost a whole lot of votes. In any case, I’ve got a new poll plugin going that I think actually works better, along with a new poll: Your favorite type of cheap food. Be it salty, spicy, sweet, or sour. Think hard on this one because there’s no combining attributes…

Ah so, I didn’t have the usual screenshot since the system was broken so I’ve had to write the numbers down alongside. It isn’t a huge surprise who the winner would be here. The dashing and dangerous (look at that knife) Alton Brown completely blew away the competition (though I do believe there may have been some “ballot stuffing”) for the Cheap Eats Favorite Food Network Star. If you weren’t one of the 137 people to pick Mr. Brown, I think in most cases it was deciding which of the other 3 food stars were the least annoying, hehe.

I gotta admit that Alton is probably the least annoying and probably most informative of the food stars. You can even get his entire catalog of Good Eats shows on DVD, I’ve watched many of the shows from a friend’s copy.

Food Network Star Poll

Rachel Ray came in second with 27 votes as was expected, riding on the “hottie” ticket that rabid Food Network fans have plastered her with. I think she gets a lot of flak for being maybe the most annoying with the giggling and “E.V.O.O”. And what is with her looking completely different in every show? She has 3 shows on Food Network too, so there’s even more change between the different shows on how she looks. Sometimes she looks like she’s put on the pounds and other times she’s skinny as a rail. Weird.

Emeril and Bobby Flay brought up the rear with a handfull of votes each. Thankfully so. The very first time I watched Emeril I was thinking, hey this guy is kind of weird… interesting. However, there have been one too many “Kick It Up A Notch”es and “Bam!”s for my liking; the jokes just grew old. I’ve always thought that Mr. Flay was way too smug and “dormitory” for my tastes and extremely rude to his guests.

I guess if I had more candidates in the Poll it might have been better… Morimoto and Mario Batali would have probably done better. Not Wolfgang Puck or as we like to call him Wolfgang Shyte. The other transformation of his last name is just too obvious, and I refuse to give him that satisfaction…


[ Currently Eating: Cobbler (?) Fish Sandwich ]

Calbee Shrimp ChipsI’ve been eating Shrimp Chips from Calbee for near 30 years I think. I don’t know how long they’ve been making these, but the packaging has pretty much remained the same over that time… Pink polka dots on white with the gigantic words “Shrimp Flavored Chips” on the front.

Calbee makes a whole host of other Asian type snacks like this, including Veggie, Potato and Sweet Potato chips. I don’t know how common they are where you live but they are pretty much in every supermarket where I am. This is the 10 ounce bag which is definitely more than a couple bucks so it’s not exactly the cheapest thing. But hey, neither are potato chips when you get down to it. They also have smaller bags that cost somewhere from 79 cents to $1.50. [Edit: This particular 10 ounce bag was actually $1.99 which wasn't as bad as I thought.]

The chips themselves aren’t round, but have been extruded in the shape of twisted, ridged “twigs”. In case you are wondering, here is how they describe them on the back of the package:

“A toasted light snack, with a touch of shrimp”

A delectable new snack made with tidbits of shrimp, wheat flour and pure vegetable oil blended together and toasted to a golden crispy crunch.

Amazingly, there actually IS shrimp in the chips themselves according to the ingredients although I don’t want to hazard a guess as to which parts are ground up in here.

Continue reading “Calbee Shrimp Chips” …


[ Currently Eating: Cabbage Soup ]

Impulsive Buy GoodiesOver at The Impulsive Buy, Marvo recently held a drawing for a box of “goodies”. All you had to do to enter was to add a comment to the post about the drawing. I entered it as I usually do, not really thinking about it, and to my surprise I won! I never win anything, so it was kind of cool.

Even more cool was that the box ‘o goodies that I received containted quite a few “reviewable” products for Cheap Eats. Interesting things, like Jolly Time Mallow Magic Popcorn, S’mores Poptarts, Lo-Carb Pears, Reese’s Cookies, Aquadrops, and Dentyne Fire.

The fact that they were free is probably the greatest thing about it (and thus the high score), and it was extremely good timing since most are snacks that I wouldn’t ordinarily buy. Anyhow, look for some of them to appear in upcoming weeks at Cheap Eats…

Cheap Eats Score: 10/10




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