Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for August, 2006



[ Currently Eating: Squidball Ramen ]

Usually, when I get a hankering for a sandwich at lunchtime, out comes the lunchmeat and I pop open a can of soup. However, this time I had some leftover grilled chicken thighs from dinner along with some smashed roasted garlic potatoes in the fridge so this formed the basis of my leftover feast.

Chop up some celery and green onion fine, shred or chop up the grilled chicken, add some mayo, salt, paprika and pepper and you’ve got yourself a nice sandwich already. I didn’t put in tomato or lettuce this time, but that always makes it taste more fresh.

The mashed potatoes are cooked red potatoes mixed with chopped roasted garlic, a bit of butter, pepper and a scoop of sour cream. Roasting up garlic is a great way to get a lot of good garlic flavor into things without any of the overly pungent raw taste. Just take some unpeeled garlic cloves and roast them directly in a skillet for about 7 minutes, tossing frequently. Squeeze them out of the skins, chop/smash them, and you’re done. (You can also roast them in the oven if you want.) I usually use the roasted garlic when making garlic bread.

8/22/06 | Ghetto McMuffins


[ Currently Eating: Some Kind Of Cereal ]

Egg Mcmuffins at HomeAfter the immensely popular Ghetto Pizza post, I decided to take another trip down ghetto memory lane. Again, I don’t mean ghetto in any derogatory way… like, if you live in or near a sketchy neighborhood I’m not saying this is the only type of food you would eat. In fact, you probably eat much better than me…

Anyhow, welcome to Ghetto McMuffins 101. The idea is to mimic all of those breakfast sandwiches that cost an arm and a leg. Hey, there’s no reason to make your wallet feel so sad in the morning! Make one at home. It takes about 5-10 minutes.

I mentioned latch-key kid food before, and this could also fall into that category. However, it’s a bit more “advanced” since I find it difficult to make egg scrambles in the microwave or toaster (it can be done, however). You’ve gotta use the stove; but it’s still pretty fast:

Ghetto McMuffins

1 english muffin — $0.25
1-2 eggs — $0.15
1/2 – 1 hotdog — $0.12
1 slice cheese, optional — $0.10
pepper, optional

Total: $0.62

Cut the english muffin in half and put it in the toaster set for extra crispy. Meanwhile, beat the egg(s) lightly in a small bowl. Throw in pepper if you like. Cut up the hotdog into chunks. Get a medium fire under a small (8-9 inch is fine) non stick omelette pan going. At some point you might want to put a bit of oil in the pan but I find I can avoid it for non-stick.

Cook the hot dogs until slightly browned. Distribute them across the bottom of the pan and pour in the egg(s). Lower the fire. Stir a bit with a spatula. Let it set up a bit, a few minutes. You can cover it to speed it along.

When the top is nearly cooked, get a rubber spatula and cut the scramble down the middle. Here, you can insert a slice of cheese or whatever you want on each semi-circle. Fold the egg semi-circle over so it’s a quarter-circle.

Put each quarter-circle on a toasted english muffin half. This makes 2 open face McMuffins, or close it up for a gigantic McMuffin.


Continue reading “Ghetto McMuffins” …


[ Currently Eating: Avocado Toast ]

Soup PollI’ll be darned, but Progresso soup came out on top of the Soup Poll. I had Campbell’s pegged for an easy victory, due to the “nostalgia” factor. Who doesn’t remember eating a bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle or Tomato Soup for lunch?

I sure had my fair share… those condensed soups were pretty cheap eats for moms on a budget. I think the price was a quarter to 30 cents when I was a kid, but maybe you remember it being even cheaper if you’re older.

Well, to be fair the race wasn’t a blowout. Progresso had 173 votes and Campbell’s had 124 votes, a difference of only 49. And before you start celebrating that David beat the Campbell’s goliath-behemoth, here’s something I just realized today when looking for the Progresso site. Progresso is owned by Betty Crocker, a formidable force in its, er, her own right.

Soup Poll

I was surprised like the chickens, er, dickens that so many folks picked the “make your own soup” choice. I’m pretty proud of all the cheap eaters out there. At 135 votes, that’s a whole mess of homemade pots of soup out there. (By the way, Cheap Eats reader Peggasus has some pretty good tips on homemade chicken soup.)

I suspect that there were enough proud soup-makers out there who defected from Campbell’s nostalgia to tip the scales in Progresso’s favor. I personally favor Progresso, but only when I can get the cans for cheaper. I haven’t had much luck with Campbell’s Chunky Soup – either on price or taste, which is the main reason I usually stick with Progresso.

Oh, and then there’s Wolfgang Puck, whose overpriced restaurants, sloppy cooking style and half-baked product ideas have earned him the ire of many a Cheap Eater out there. He did get a few sympathy votes. I don’t see him much on the Food Channel any more which is a blessing. Maybe he pulled out of agreements with them because they didn’t pick him as a permanent Iron Chef. Scrooge McSuck.

Anyhow, enough Wolfie. The next poll awaits you. This time, I want to know your weekly cooking habits. I was curious how many times you cook dinner a week. Or, if like more than half the younger working population you eat out because there’s simply no time. No time! Speaking of which, I’ve got to jet. House painting to do…


[ Currently Eating: English Muffins ]

Remember when mom told you “Dangnabit Vern, don’t eat cookies fer breakfast!”? (And Cookie Crisp doesn’t count.) Ah well. Mom’s advice has been pre-empted by these Quaker Breakfast Cookies. Hey, it’s the pilgrim in the blue hat talking. He can’t possibly be wrong.

I received two boxes of these cookies to review the other day. They’ve timed it just about right, since I’ve just started seeing commercials for them. I got a box of Oatmeal Raisin and Apple Cinnamon cookies. There’s 6 cookies in each box, each individually wrapped which is rather nice if you just want to grab and go.

So the price isn’t as great for Cheap Eating – a box at retail runs $3.29, or about 55 cents a cookie. That was in the back of my mind while I started munching on these “nutritious solutions for mid-morning cravings.”

Now I guess we slip into “official review” mode. I’m going to focus on the Oatmeal Raisin variety:

Packaging:

You can’t really go wrong with Mr. Quaker on the box. That conjures up trust among those who remember eating Quaker Oats out of those round cardboard boxes. It makes me feel Amish or something as well.

As mentioned, the individually foil packed cookies are rather nice for the grab-and-go morning rush. I also feel like it keeps each individual cookie more fresh. After all, you’re not going to eat one of these every day… it’s going to last you a few weeks. Right? Though, I wonder if eliminating the individual packaging might shave off a bit of the price tag..

Appearance and Texture:

This looks like what you’d expect from an everyday oatmeal raisin cookie. Each cookie measures almost exactly 3 inches in diameter, which seems fair sized. They look appetizing – nicely browned and speckled with good distribution of raisins and oats. If you try to break one in half, it sort of tears like a soft cookie would and perhaps it’s even softer than that. Almost like playdoh.

One thing that’s nice about the fact that it’s very squishy is that it doesn’t crumble all over the place which probably makes it easy to eat in the car. Not that I’m suggesting you drive and eat. Crazy zero-handed Egg McMuffin drivers…



Continue reading “Quaker Breakfast Cookies” …


[ Currently Eating: Raw Ginger. For Stomach Issues. ]

Hello Cheap Eaters. I haven’t had much time to post because I’ve actually been painting the house. But anyhow, here’s a pic of some leftovers I saved from awhile back. This is Kimchi Fried Rice… yep. That’s fried rice with kimchi (also: kimchee or gimchi, feel free to read up if you haven’t had it before) thrown into it.

It’s quite nice and spicy, and flavorful as well. I usually have to add a bunch of flavoring from soy sauce, fish sauce and salt when making fried rice, but kimchi has all the flavor built in. The fried rice pictured also has chicken, mushrooms and eggs in it. You can control the amount of spiciness (and tanginess) of the fried rice by the amount of kimchi and the liquid you also add in. One thing, I like my fried rice sort of wet… almost like a pilaf. If you don’t, you may want to add less of the liquid and maybe enhance it with some other chili peppers to up the heat.


[ Currently Eating: Goldfish Crackers ]

[Edit: If you came here from Digg, hello. Once again, this is NOT my own recipe] I’m not sure about you, but when I was a kid I absolutely delighted in creating strange and inedible food concoctions. These early period “food pastiches” inevitably included ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, mayonaise and salad dressing. The trick then was to try to make it an inviting color (usually through liberal dashes of food coloring) so that an unexpecting parent would try and drink it.

I didn’t have much success back then, but those memories are part of the reason I still enjoy messing with food today. So, a combination of the hot weather blasting us, my need for something to drink at rollerhockey and money being short as usual, I decided to see if I couldn’t mix me up a batch of Homemade Gatorade. I mean, how hard could it be to make salty flavored water?

A plethora of Gatorade recipes exist, and though some of them rely on things like Potassium Chloride (salt substitute branded as Nu-Salt?), fructose and Kool-Aid mix, the basic ingredients are pretty much water, salt, sugar and some flavoring. I decided to have a shoot-out of Homemade Gatorade versus the real stuff since I had a couple bottles of Gatorade leftover.

Here’s the basic recipe I picked, I went with one that featured OJ because that’s what I had (apparently you can get some potassium from the OJ?)

Homemade Gatorade Recipe

1/2 cup orange juice — $0.15
9 tbs. Sugar — $0.03
3/8 tsp Salt – negligible
2 liters (approx) water – negligible

Total: $0.18

Using boiling or hot water can make things go faster, but you’ll need to chill it down somehow before fridging it. So just mix everything together and see if it tastes like Gatorade. Does it? Read on…



Continue reading “Making Homemade Gatorade” …




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