Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for October, 2006



[ Currently Eating: Halloween Candy ]

Happy Halloween to all you Cheap Eaters. Here’s a quickie leftover post, before we head off to scare all the little ghoulies running amuck. This is some leftover fried fish I’d made the night before along with some standard Zatarain’s Jambalaya Rice. Yes, I know fried food is scary bad for your arteries… but it’s Halloween. Boo!

Anyhow, a great way to resuscitate breaded and fried things like chicken cutlets, shrimp, fish, and koroke (japanese croquettes) is to pop them in your toaster oven and set it to around 300-350 degrees. You have to keep an eye on it, but this kicks the pants off microwaving them. It brings back the crunch in the fried food pretty well.

The Zatarain’s… well, yeah it’s cheaper to make your own. I used standard kielbasa as the meat for mine. But for me, the rice makes at least 2 meals so the box can be worth it.

Oh, here is a slightly blurry closeup of the jambalaya. Because we like closeups…


[ Currently Eating: Egg Battered Fish w/ Corn Sauce ]

I had been planning on posting this during the week to coincide with the upcoming Halloween candy-fest. Things have a way of popping up to spoil all my well laid Cheap Eats plans. Like my car zonking out – long story; we’ll stick to reviewing instead…

Anyhow, I received some samples of Slammers Ultimate Milk by Bravo! Foods Int’l Corp in the mail from Matt the other day. What they’ve done here is packaged up fairly standard chocolate and strawberry flavored milk with some very popular candy brands. Supposedly, these milk drinks are supposed to be shelf stable for 6 months, more healthy than other milk drinks and fairly decent in price.

But the big sell is definitely going to be the candy names. I got Milky Way, 3 Musketeers and Starburst Slammer drinks. Those are three names that most people know about. The actual Slammers logo on the package is quite small, which is probably a smart thing for them… they want to push the big brands.

And I think it might work for a lot of people. The biggest question for me was: do these drinks actually TASTE anything like the candies in question?

I have to admit that my expectations were way too high. After all, it’s a DRINK. Mr. Unreasonable Cheap Eats editor was planning on having a Violet Beauregarde (from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) gum chewing experience. You know, the one where she chews a piece of gum an experiences a full turkey dinner (? can’t remember if that’s correct).

I was fully expecting to take a swig of Slammers and suddenly have the sensation of actually eating a Milk Way, 3 Musketeers or Starburst. Yeah, I know. Delusional.

I started out with the Milky Way Slammers. These bottles are the larger ones, by the way, at 14 ounces. They also carry a smaller 8 ounce size. The Milky Way one is actually supposed to be reduced fat chocolate milk.

Continue reading “Slammers Ultimate Milk” …

10/23/06 | Leftovers: Udon


[ Currently Eating: Toast ]

I can’t remember if I’ve already had a Udon Noodle leftovers post. But in any case it’s worth revisiting again because it’s one of my favorite type of leftovers. The basic idea is to use up any sort of “meat-ish” leftovers from the day before, including but not limited to fried and roast chicken, fish cutlets, roast pork, hardboiled eggs, lunchmeat, sliced up steak, mixed veggies. You boil up some udon (or soba, ramen, chinese white noodles or even spaghettini) and make some sort of clear stock consisting mainly of water, sweet mirin wine, soy sauce and instant hon-dashi (fish broth powder – a subsitute for the more authentic way which involves dried kelp and katsuo fish flakes).

You plop the noodles in a bowl pour the sauce over it and arrange the cut-up leftovers on the top. In this case, I actually didn’t have the meaty leftovers, so I used turkey lunchmeat and fried up some mushrooms. I also usually make an egg pancake (an “empty” omlette) and chop that up and add some green onion. Sometimes I put some pickled red ginger on the top for color too.

Funny, there turned out to be so much topping that you can’t even see the udon noodles underneath! Another favorite thing to do is use leftover pork or chicken curry from the night before as the broth. You can thin out the curry with a bit of chicken stock or water. Add the cooked noodles and you’ve got curry udon.

10/17/06 | Yoplait Whips


[ Currently Eating: Stax of Pringles ]

There’s probably nothing that will bias me more toward giving a food item a favorable review than it being free. When the jig is up, and you’re found out to be pandering something unworthy of a good Cheap Eats score, you can always fall back on it being free…

Like these Yoplait Whips (sorry in advance, Charlie). I got coupons for 3 of these free yogurt novelties awhile back. It actually took quite awhile to get a hold of them because they happened to be out for weeks at both of the grocery stores near me. And when I did pick them up, the crusty checkout lady gave me the evil eye and said “Did you print this off the internet?”

I had to explain to her that I review food. That seemed to placate her, though she did go to her supervisor to okay them. She also seemed in a hurry to get rid of me. Man, food reviewers get no respect. Or maybe I didn’t use deodorant that day.

I ended up getting the tower of three yogurt whips above: Dulce de Leche, Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Mist. They call this whipped yogurt “lowfat yogurt mousse”. I’m not so familiar with mousse, except the kind we used in the 80s in hair. I was sort of expecting maybe something along the lines of Cool Whip. I really don’t know.

(If I was writing for The Impulsive Buy, it would be at this point I would make some nice tie-in about chains and whips to jazz up the review.)

Here is the thing with the Yoplait Whips. Since the flavors and content of the yogurt exist in “normal” unwhipped versions as well, and they’re the same price, the only thing new to talk about here is the texture. And in my opinion, that texture was simply AWFUL.

I tried the Dulce De Leche Yoplait Whips first. I’m not going to get into what this looks like here, but do you know that Radiohead song “Fake Plastic Trees”? Now, replace “trees” with something less tree-like and more dog poo-like.

In their defense, as with all of these single serving yogurt cups, you’re not meant to dump the contents out into a clear custard dish like I did. But yeah, that consistency is like inconsistent curdled milk. The mouthfeel is sort of like someone mixed up cool whip with yogurt… in their mouth and spit it back into the cup.

I actually rather dig the normal Dulce De Leche flavored Yoplait. It has a nice caramel-ish flavor that’s a bit tangy and is rich enough without being overpowering.

Continue reading “Yoplait Whips” …


[ Currently Eating: Cranberry Juice ]

Welcome to the first ever Cheap Eats Battle where we take two similar products and review them head to head in full detail until you’re sick of reading about them. I think we’ve probably done this in the past, I’ve just decided to give it a name. No idea whether this will prove to be a popular feature, but here you go.

The two contenders for this battle are the popular mustachioed, disembodied and bow-tied eggman Pringles and the upstart, shaving-gel-like-logoed copycat Lays Stax. I actually was able to get the same “Pizza” variety of both of these on sale for the same price, a buck. Normally, they’re about $1.50 (Stax was $1.89 regular, Pringles was $1.69 regular) at various supermarkets, though you can find certain flavors of Pringles occasionally at the dollar store.

I’d never heard of Stax before, but let’s be straight: I don’t care what marketing will claim – they’re out to copy Pringles and that’s all there is to it. I’m not saying whether that’s right or not (look at all the “generic supermarket”-item copycats out there) With that out of the way, we can get on to comparing the two.

Packaging

Both cans are exactly the same height – 9 1/4 inches tall. Pringles can is the familiar cardboard covered with some sort of foil, while Stax is a plastic can. The lid for Pringles is usually clear while Stax is an opaque yellow lid. The Stax can is also interesting because it is one of those new-fangled “grippy” cans where the center body is oval instead of round.

Interestingly, if you look into the cans, you can see that this oval shape provides less room for the chips to move around in. They fit better. I thought that might mean less breakage, but there was equal breakage in both cans.

The Pringles logo is familiar, of course. The Stax logo again looks like the logo for an electric shaver or shaver gel. Pringles wins the outer look hands down.

Both cans are 5 3/4 ounces by weight. I dunno which has more chips in it. What, I wasn’t about to COUNT the number of chips in the friggin’ can!



Continue reading “Battle: Pringles vs Stax” …


[ Currently Eating: Yet More Pork ]

I apologize in advance to Texans and others who are of the firm belief that chili in a can is a heinous offense. Yep, I know there are a lot of people out there. Let’s not even get into the “beans in chili” vs. “meat-only” debate.

I’m a big fan of chili (actually “chili con carne“, according to Wikipedia). Whether it’s served at a restaurant with cornbread, homemade with carrots (my mom’s specialty), baked into Frito Pie, eaten straight outta the can or pumped out of a dispenser onto a hot dog at a gas station… it’s all good. I mean, it tastes all good. It’s not necessarily good for your digestion!

For the people who don’t mind it out of a can, you’ve got a ton of different companies to choose from: Dennison’s, Wolf Brand, Bush’s, Campbell’s, Stagg, etc. But for me, canned chili always makes me think or Hormel, for better or worse. Actually, corned beef and hash makes me think the most about Hormel, but chili is a close second.

Anyhow, I picked up this can of Hormel Homestyle Chili with Beans the other day because it was a buck. And I was hungry. I think that is Rule #3 or so in the Cheap Eats Manifesto: Never Go To The Supermarket On An Empty Stomach.

Interestingly, Stagg is apparently owned by Hormel as well… for some reason I had missed that.

I like to have a couple of cans of chili chilling out in the pantry for emergencies (read as – I’m too lazy to cook something as usual). It’s great just thrown in the pot and eaten with bread or whatever’s available. That whatever is sometimes noodles – I don’t know if you’ve had Chili Spaghetti before but that’s definitely fodder for an upcoming Cheap Eats post. I think I actually saw on Food Network that it’s a common dish at diners – was it in Cincinnati?

The Hormel chili I got is interesting because not only does it have beans in it, but they’re kidney beans instead of pinto. I personally like the pinto beans instead because they load me up with better methane for farts. Haha, I’m kidding. Actually, I do like the pinto better, but I’m used to kidney beans as well because mom always made chili with those. And carrots, as I’ve mentioned.

Continue reading “Hormel Chili With Beans” …


[ Currently Eating: Coffee, the Wondermaker ]

This is another Leftovers picture from a few months ago. I think this is called various names (I won’t be calling it Ghetto Shrimp due to popular un-demand), but it basically involves shrimp in the shell and the magic of ketchup. Yep, Ketchup Shrimp. I know there are a bunch of different recipes out there involving shrimp in the shell and butter / chicken stock / tomato paste, and a lot of them are cajun recipes or from the South. But this one just relies on ketchup for the base.

I’ve spruced it up a bit with a mixture of garlic, ginger and green onions. It’s basically just shrimp in the shell that’s been cleaned, de-veined and soaked in a bit of salt, water and rice wine for 15 minutes. Rinse the shrimp before cooking. You fry up the aromatics, add the shrimp and cook till barely done, then add the ketchup, a bit of chicken stock and maybe some soy sauce or hot sauce. Tasty.

I’ve found this is surprisingly forgiving when warmed up in the microwave the next day. The key is not do overdo it. Oh, and of course, don’t microwave this at work/school or you may be getting a lot of dirty looks. Seafood and microwaves – they don’t play well together for a lot of people…




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