Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for August, 2009

[ Currently Eating: Bagel Sandwich Thingy ]

Tuna Casserole Leftovers - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

(View larger photo on Flickr)

Nothing gladdens my heart more at lunch time than a large expanse of tuna casserole landscape.

Because of that, and because I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to get in the usual Tuesday Cheap Eats time-draining post, here is a picture of that Leftover Lunch landscape. I know that not everyone enjoys a good tuna casserole (as far as I can tell, it’s standing at about 50% of folks who can eat this), but this is a regular fixture at Cheap Eats.

I’ve been known to do a cold Tuna Noodle special for leftover lunch the next day from time to time, but I usually microwave it back to normal. (One of the benefits of not microwaving is that it doesn’t make the microwave and/or house smell as much.) We always make a larger pan than normal because it’s almost always good for lunch and a few snacks in the next couple of days.

You can use a can of Campbell’s Cream of Whatever Soup as the base for this casserole. I guess I should write down a recipe, but it’s difficult to get it under $3, and plus I haven’t been using a recipe for this. You just have the sauce, the noodles, some par-cooked veggies and tuna. Lately, I’ve been trying to make the sauce from scratch (a basic white sauce will usually do, but I like to make it tangy with either sour cream or yogurt).

A couple other tips: undercook the noodles, or at least make them al dente. The veggies: some people like to put them in raw, but I usually cook things like onions, celery and carrots a little bit to soften them. Also, things like mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes, you might want to cook them a bit to get more of the water out. Either that or you should make the sauce a little thicker so that it’ll even out when the water comes out of the veggies. Lastly, I drain the tuna (lately have been using the plain, non-oil packed chunk variety), break it up with a fork, and only mix it in at the end right before you put the mixture into the casserole and put it in the oven.

Lastly, a trick I learned – throw in a pinch of nutmeg into the sauce. Makes it interesting.

Oh. Warning: if you have a cat, it will probably not leave you alone while you are cooking and/or eating this.

[ Currently Eating: Leftover stuffed zucchinis ]

Hot Dog Egg - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Here is a confession.

Long ago, I used to laugh, laugh and laugh at people who said they put cut up pieces of hot dogs into macaroni in cheese.

These were the type of Jurassic-era trolls who used to hold me down on the playground and fart into my open mouth. But that’s another yarn for another day.

Anyhow, I’ve since learned the joys of using hot dogs in idiotic recipes like this one. I think I’ve actually covered this once before, but with the Eeekconomy still in the dumps, I guess some people would appreciate more recipes under $3.

This is the Hot Dog Egg Sandwich and for Cheap Eats, it rules. The great thing about hot dogs is that they’re so versatile. I know a lot of people who never eat them except for Labor Day BBQs, if at all. I’m thinking, hey if it’s a special BBQ, and there’s other great food, then why would you eat a hot dog?

I know that hot dogs aren’t the greatest thing for you since sliced California rolls. However, I think the key is moderation. If I was young, wild, and full of bullcrap, I guess I would have tattooed the word “Moderation” on my chest.

Then again, I don’t like needles. But I do like hot dogs.

In an egg sandwich like this, I find a little goes a long way. If you slice up the hot dog thinly, you can pretty much make an egg sandwich with only half a hot dog. Saving food like this is usually a good thing, but it can be a bad thing because it means you’ll use up that 10 pack of hot dogs twice as slowly. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to eat 20 hot dog egg sandwiches in a row. But maybe it might be good if you have a big family.

Hot Dog Egg Sandwich

2 slices bread — $0.10
1 hot dog — $0.15
1 slice American cheese — $0.20
1 egg — $0.15
pepper — negligible

Total: $0.60

Get a small non-stick pan heat it up. I like to use wooden chopsticks, but feel free to wield a wooden spoon. Crack the egg, and beat it lightly into submission. Dump some pepper in if you want. Use two eggs if your cholesterol count is fine and dandy. Use three or four if you want it NOT to be fine and dandy. Slice up the hot dog thinly. I often only use a half a hot dog, because those mofos are a little salty and full of fun preservatives.

Toast up the bread slices in the toaster. Fry the hot dog slices, turning once or twice. I don’t like ‘em too burnt, but you can do whatever. Now push the hot dog slices into the corner and dump the egg on top. I like to tilt the pan so the egg stays in the corner. I also use chopsticks to make sure all the runny egg contacts with the pan. You only need to cook it for a few minutes or so. If you’re a fancy chef who’s good at flipping stuff, flip the egg over. If you’re not, just cook it longer.

Stick a slice of cheese on top. You can cover it, but I usually just let it go a few seconds more and then remove it to the toast. When you cover up the egg w/ the other slice of bread, it usually melts enough.

Sit back, turn on your favorite morning TV show, and eat your hot dog egg sandwich.

You’re basically making fast fritatta containing no vegetables and only hot dogs. If this bothers you, and it should, then by all means throw in some leftover bell pepper, broccoli, onion, olives artichoke, nuts, bolts, kewpie dolls, pictures of Dorian Gray, etc. You’ll want to cook the veggies before the hotdogs if raw. Oh, sometimes I stick a slice of lettuce in it for appearances sake.

I had a moral to this recipe/story. But unfortunately, it has been obliterated by years and years of Jurassic-era trolls holding me down on the playground and farting into my open mouth. All that meethane has gone to mee head.

One, two, three, four, five, hot dog egg sandwich yum.

8/11/09 | Yogurt Dots

[ Currently Eating: Candy That Sticks To Your Teeth ]

Yogurt Dots - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Dear Candy Fiends … I mean Freaks … I mean Froods … I mean Friends.

Yes, that’s it.

Dearest Candy Friends,

Please don’t get mad at me when I say that the most interesting thing about these Yogurt Dots to me was the fun open/close boxspout. To be honest, the only reason I picked up this movie-sized box for a buck at the Dollar Store was for the novelty factor. That and I thought maybe I would finally get to review a candy that no one had tried before.

Not so, as reviewers like Candy Addict and others have already written up their opinions. Ah well, you snooze you booze.

Yogurt Dots - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

As I was saying the most interesting thing to me about the candy was the box, which has a closeable spout that folds shut like farking origami or something. This blew my mind. You can tell I don’t eat candy too often. It’s like that episode of Spongebob where Patrick and he order a giant screen TV just so they can play with the box. Not that I ever watch Spongebob, or relate to his spong-i-ness (though I feel rather holy at times), or aspire to be the greatest Crabby Patty Fry Cook in the world, or put up posters of Gary the Snail on my wall.

No, no. I’m completely Absolutely Normal. In fact, you can call me Ab-Normal, ey?

Come on, keep up here.

If memory serves me correctly, my first encounter with Tootsie’s Dots was not while watching Dustin Hoffman, but giving my young molars the workout of their lives while watching people get chomped by sharks. You might be wondering what I was doing watching Jaws at that young age. All I know is that I wished I had serrated mofo teeth like Mr. Jaws, because those Dots were harder than hell.

So, I was sort of expecting these Yogurt Dots to necessitate multiple trips to the dentist. Instead, it seems they’ve gotten all soft and squishy on me. They taste (and look) more like a sugarless gumdrop. I’m sort of glad for the new softness, but they have a bad habit of clinging to your teeth. Again, I’m not a candy eater so I don’t know – maybe you’re supposed to swallow them whole? Wait… gaghg. Nope, scratch that idea.

There were five “flavors” in the box. I only know what they are because it’s written on the box: Strawberry, Banana, Orange, Blackberry and Lemon-Lime. Let’s be truthful here. The average, non-zen candy eater would probably not be able to tell what they were. It’s kind of like the descriptions on wine labels that read “hint of cherry plum dingbats with pinecone needle floral notes.” The flavors tasted more like Red #40, Yellow-ish Orange, Orangey Orange, Grape and Green. To be fair to them, when you’re putting these your mouth in the theatre and chewing them up, I think you’ll be paying more attention to the sharks eating naked bathers on the screen than whether the purple flavor is grape or blackberry.

Yogurt Dots - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Actually, I confess when I ate them slowly – as in less than one every 2 seconds – I COULD make out the flavors. I guess it’s true that I should stop and chew my food. Thanks, mom.

The yogurt part of the dots was actually quite pleasant, in a sour-ish milk kind of way. In fact, it actually kept me eating nearly half the box while watching all those Spongebob re-runs. Not.

The price at the dollar store is decent for the large amount of Dots that you get. I dunno how much a box like this would run at the movies, but I heartily suggest that my guy friends sneak the box into the theatre in your pants. Just tell them you have a Spongebob Squarepants medical condition. (Gals, you’ll never know how lucky you are to have a purse.)

In conclusion, I could think of hundreds of other uses for these Yogurt Dots besides eating them. Earplugs or nipple enhancers come to mind. But because I’m a completely Ab-Normal person, I would suggest you simply put them in your mouth and chew them while watching man-eating sharks chew on delicious, delicious people. Yum.

Price: $1.00 for 8.5 oz.
Found At: Dollar Store
Cheap Eats Score: 6/10

[Editor's Note: I do NOT like Spongebob Squarepants. I do NOT like Spongebob Squarepants. I do NOT like Spongebob Squarepants. I DO NOT like Spongebob Squarepants. Oh all right, I watch it occasionally...]

[ Currently Eating: Turkey and Swiss Sando ]

Gazpacho - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

WTF. Cold soup.

I was actually going to take a pass reviewing this Gazpacho Soup from Fresh and Easy. The reason is that I’m not a huge fan of cold soups in general. To me, cold soup is like winning a weekend date with Gillian Anderson and not being able to ask her if Mulder ever touched her boobies on the X-Files. I mean, what’s the point?

But I know a lot of folks (and little green men) actually like chilled soups. All this Borscht B.S., Summer Squash Soup stupidity and veritably vain Vichyssoise, just leaves me… well, cold.

I think it may also be a guy thing. Most of the fans of cold soups that I know seem to be gals. However, it could also be that I’m an uncultured, unpasteurized (put me out to pasture already), Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer living in a 21st century cold soup world.

That actually sounds more like it, grunt grunt.

But you know what, I’ll give it a go. I’ll pretend to be one of the highly cultured, cold soup loving, non-caveman lawyers living in Beverly Hills making beaucoup moolah defending New Wave grafitti “artistes” who use their “lower appendages” to paint. Man, this city I live in is great…

Actually, this Fresh & Easy Gazpacho Soup (I think Fresh & Easy must hate me, for I have never given a “normal” review on any of their products), wasn’t half bad. Actually, it wasn’t half good either, but that’s a problem for Glass Half Full Psychologists to solve.

I’m actually a gazpacho newbie; the whole cold soup phobia has definitely hindered my appreciation of it. But basically, it’s a cold, tomato-based Spanish soup that incorporates fresh veggies and is usually eaten with hard bread. It’s right around here that I would like to make a Pixies joke or reference, but experience has taught me that most of my readers (no offense to ya’ll) wouldn’t know alternative or indie music if it bit them in the butt. It’s OK, I confess that I have to remain ignorantly mute whenever conversation turns to who’s on American Idol, or pretty much any popular music on the “radio”.

Beyond that, I can only guess at what it’s supposed to taste like. The funny thing is, this gazpacho tastes just like salsa to me. This gaz’ had a very, very strong garlic taste. It was more like garlicpacho. It had a blend of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and red bell peppers. I believe that it would have tasted a little better with more emphasis on the cucumbers and less on the onions. The cucumber slices tasted slightly pickled, but I guess that’s to be expected since that’s usually what happens when you put cucumbers in salted liquids. The onions were still a bit crunchy, which might bother some people. There wasn’t enough red bell pepper action to really notice.

Gazpacho - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Overall, the taste was just too strong for me. I think I could deal with the overpowering garlic, but the soup itself was just so acidic, vinegary and there was too much sugar in it. It could also use a hit of spice – it was pretty much silent on the capsicum front. I squirted some Tapatio in to it, much to the delight of my spicy taste buds. Hot sauce definitely made this more edible.

The price is pretty consistent with deli style fresh soups from most places – F&E has a bunch of these different deli soups, some that are quite good (and thankfully, not all are meant to be eaten cold). They’ll usually run you $2.50 to $3.50 for about 22 ounces, unless they happen to be on sale. I think it’s a little expensive, especially for soup that I’m not so enamored of.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t buy this again, unless I did become a highly cultured, cold soup loving, non-caveman lawyer living in Beverly Hills making beaucoup moolah defending New Wave grafitti “artistes” who use their “lower appendages” to paint. But I think gazpacho would be the last of my worries if that did happen.

Price: $2.50 for 22 oz.
Found At: Fresh & Easy
Cheap Eats Score: 5/10

[Editor's Note: Yes, I do like Gillian Anderson. And The Pixies. But not cold soup. Or Andalusian dogs.]



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