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[ Currently Eating: Sausage Stromboli ]

Stromboli?? - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

And a Happy Stuffed Sausage Bread New Year to you too.

I had a nice little dollar store Cheap Eats post all ready to go today. But that’s gotten preempted (much like all my favorite shows are preempted by stupid American Football nowadays) by some crazy Stromboli action.

I know it’s hard to believe, what with my dumblefingery baking skills, but I actually made a practical approximation of a Sausage Stromboli just an hour ago in the oven. I couldn’t believe it either. I hope this is a harbinger of Cheap Eats Baking to come for 2009.

Stromboli?? - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I know you’re supposed to use a pizza stone for this kind of stuff, but I was able to make one using just a Silpat on top of a cookie baking sheet. I think because the dough was thin, it didn’t matter as much. It didn’t have as crunchy a crust as a real pizza, and the cheese leaked out of the bottom, but the end result was pretty amazing. I did use a broiler tray for steam this time, so maybe that helped the crust. This one had canned tomatoes, jack cheese and cooked Italian sausage in it.

It’s about this point that I need to confess that the recipe for the stromboli comes straight outta Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (abbreviated as AB5MD from now on) which I got for Xmas. I really think they should’ve taken out the word “Artisan” – it tends to scare non-bakers like me away. At first I thought it was some frou-frou book written by a poofy-hatted chef in Limoges. They should’ve just said Amazing Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

I hate to be one of those “book boosters”, but this bread tome is pretty damn good. I started off before this book going down the Jim Lahey No-Knead route (google it, for the NY times article, since the bastards prevent hotlinking). That recipe was the revelation, and this book extended it by letting you keep batches of pre-mixed dough in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Earlier, I’d experimented with making your own yeast – but I’ll save that topic for another day. Plus, it’s a little more inconvenient and requires more time. I just used the standard yeast packets.

I’m only on the basic master recipe in AB5MD which uses water, salt, unbleached white flour and storebought yeast. But it’s been good enough for most everything – however, I was surprised it worked well for the Stromboli because I didn’t have a pizza stone. Also, I’ve been using a combination of the Lahey method and AB5MD method for all the bread. Basically, I said forget the pizza stone and used a non-stick cast iron pot like Lahey recommended. Use the cover for 1/2 the cooking time and you don’t really need to use a steam tray. The bread comes out pretty good, though not perfect. The dough recipe is just an ordinary 6-3-3-13. That’s 6 cups lukewarm water, 3 tbsp yeast, 3 tbsp kosher salt, 13 cups flour. Mix it, cover and let it stand for 2 hours and put it in the fridge. That is all – enough dough for 8 1lb loaves. Halve the recipe if it’s too much to store.

I’ll try get a full recipe up for the stromboli, maybe an AB5MD book review as well, when I get to the other enriched doughs of later chapters. For now, it’s pretty darn good and cheap eats. It’s great to be able to make larger batches in advance instead of just one at a time like the Lahey method I was using.

10/2/08 | Egg Salad Sandwich

[ Currently Eating: Tacos Baja Ensenada Fish Tacos ]

Eggy Salad Sandwich Plus Ham on Cheap Eats at Bloglander


This was meant to be a longer post plus recipe on the merits (and pitfalls) of the Egg Salad Sandwich. I was going to get all fast and furious with the egg jokes too. But I’m still gurgling around in the bloggity-mosh pit on Cheaplander trying to implement things and track down various blogbugs. They bite, ouch.

So I’ll leave all the eggxtras for another day. Oh, before I go: I did have one tip for cooking hard boiled eggs. I’ve forgotten if I already posted this. Actually, this idea is originally from ex-jailbird Martha Stewart.

To get really nice, fluffy, but moist yolks for hard boiled eggs, place your eggs in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Crank up the heat – but don’t walk away. Because if you’re like me, you’ll forget the eggs are on the stove. When the water just begins to boil (but before it’s all going crazy-bubbling-with-the-cheezwiz), turn off the heat and put the lid on the pot securely. It needs to be pretty well sealed.

Then, just leave it for 12-15 minutes. I think everyone’s preference for yolk tenderness is different, so you may need to adjust the time. The carryover heat cooks the yolk nicely. We’ve been using this method pretty exclusively for years now.

(Oh, I’ve listed this post in the 3 dollars or less category, even though there’s no real recipe. But yeah, it definitely comes in under 3 bucks. Probably could make a half dozen egg salad sandwiches for that.)

One last thing – if you have a good egg salad recipe or any eggstra special ideas, please leave a comment. By the way, I like my egg salad with chopped ham in it – you might have been wondering if those pink things were red onions. Nope, it’s ham. I also chop the onion (green or white) eggstremely fine – I don’t like biting into chunkety chunks. But to each his own I guess…

[ Currently Eating: Grilled Cheese Sandwich ]

This Is Grilled Cheese - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I had a friend in college who once subsisted through all his finals on nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches.

Regrettably, this is not his story. =)

Nevertheless – I have eaten many a grilled cheese in my day. It’s cheap and fast, takes no special skill. You can dress it up any way you like. A “recipe” isn’t really needed – but people seem to love it when I attempt to calculate the price of single slice of cheese and a tablespoon of butter. I haven’t the heart to tell them I’m making it up usually. Man, I’m not going back and looking at grocery receipts and dividing each item on the calculator!

Grilled Cheese

2 Slices Bread — $0.15
1 Slice American Cheese (or other meltable) — $0.20
1 Tbsp Butter or Margarine — $0.10

Total: $0.45

Use a pan (or pancake griddle) that will fit the 2 slices bread. Put on low to med heat. You want to have enough butter to coat the bottom, so the entire bread surface gets crisped. When the butter is melted, put the bread in the pan. Put the cheese down on one slice of bread. Some people like to wait until the bread is cooked, flipping it once, and then putting down the cheese.

Either way, keep checking the bottom of the bread with a spatula so it doesn’t completely burn. When cheese is sufficiently melted, and bread sufficiently toasted flip the piece of bread w/out the cheese onto the other one. Take it out of pan, cut it if desired, and enjoy.

This Is Grilled Cheese - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I’m a huge fan of grilled cheese done in this manner, but you can make it even simpler by just cooking it in the toaster. Or, don’t use butter in the pan. I tend to go with the butter if possible. It’s not as good for you, but I remember my mom making them this way on the stove.

Continue reading “Grilled Cheese Sandwich” …

[ Currently Eating: Peanut Butter on Toast ]

Omelette - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I am quite possibly the world’s worst omelette maker.

That distinction is justified, not for the sheer multitudes of rubbery or runny egg disasters that I seem to turn out, but for my refusal to try and learn the correct way to make an omelette. No matter how many promising cooking shows or magazines with “foolproof” tips I come across, I always turn a blind eye to improving my skills. I’m a bad egg, haha.

This is partly because there seem to be about a billion different “EggMasters” who claim they have reached the pinnacle of Omelette Nirvana. Which path is the right one? But it’s mostly because I just like to fool around with my eggs. Oh no, I don’t juggle them in the kitchen like some cooks. Everytime I crack an egg to try once again to make an omelette, I’m thinking “What shall we do this time”: Cook over super high flame for only a few seconds? Cover and cook on low for 3 minutes? Add water or salt to the eggs? Mix in chopped parsley to get green eggs? Butter, olive oil, non-stick pan or cast iron?

With eggs, I like to gamble. It’s all too eggciting to get wrapped up in technique.

Actually, after reading a magazine article about how difficult it was to create an absolutely perfect omelette (the writer actually went to a class taught by a froufrou French instructor) I didn’t feel as bad. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever made two omelettes in a row that turned out even remotely the same. Part of it is laziness to learn, but it’s also the fact that nearly any egg disaster I make has been edible. You can overcook it and it still tastes fine – slather with salsa, ketchup or tabasco and it becomes breakfast. So there’s not much motivation to refine the technique.

Continue reading “How To Make An Omelette” …

[ Currently Eating: Bacon Egg Sandwich ]

Make Your Own Bread - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Anybody up for some failed bread?

I’m not even going to include the recipe because this didn’t turn out very well. It was a series of unfortunate events, and not the lemony kind. First off, I’ve never really baked bread before (unless you count Irish Soda Bread). Second, I decided to try out this Pyrex Bake-A-Round tube thingy I got at the thrift store instead of going the traditional route.

Third, I used the recipe in the box for French Bread, which was written back in the 70s (the recipe did use standard active dry yeast and most of the same ingredients found in bread recipes). I was thinking of a baguette or something – they obviously weren’t. The recipe called for FOUR cups flour to about one cup of water. I knew that wasn’t right, but I tried it anyway. It is awfully hard to mix in four cups of flour into a cup of water or so by hand. Oh yes, that’s Fourth: even though we have a perfectly good mixer with a dough hook, I “forgot” and decided to mix the bastard by hand. Actually, I suspect this is keeping with the Cheap Eats tradition since I’d be unwise to assume everyone has a mixer on hand.

So, it’s not a big surprise that the bread didn’t win best of show. Maybe it was the extra salt added in from the sweat rolling off my head as I tried to knead the dough. Old-time readers will also remember I have a nagging shoulder injury – that was not fun.

Make Your Own Bread - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

The bread itself came out just “edible”. That’s pretty much all the praise I can muster for several hours of effort. I wasn’t surprised it was very dense and almost cake-like. The crust actually came out decent, though not browned. Someone told me that industrial type ovens blast it with so much heat in a short time which is how they can get a better crust? Actually, if it wasn’t for the bake-a-round tube, it probably would have came out even worse.

However, a good Cheap Eater is willing to experiment and fail for the overall good of the wallet. Home-baked Bread definitely seemed like something that should be tried out. So, instead of moaning about this unlovable loaf, I’ll probably be trying it again sometime later in the year. I probably won’t be using the bake-a-round again, although it was sort of neat that when you cut slices they were perfectly round – that might be fun for hamburger sandwiches or something.

Also, I’m sure there are tons of excellent bread bakers out there – if you have a good recipe or technique to share, please do. I’m going to also say that I KNOW you can just use a bread machine to make it. But I’d like to hear from those who don’t use a machine, and possibly not even a mixer. I’m still not 100% convinced that making your own bread from scratch is worth the time and effort – I think the price of bread would knead (haha) to go up considerably to get more people to start trying to make their own.

Make Your Own Bread - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

5/15/08 | Lemonade

[ Currently Eating: A Tamale For Breakfast ]

Lemonade on Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Hm… my usage of girly kitchenware in the pictures are sure to further speculation that I’m really a girl and not a guy. But hey, that shouldn’t matter, right? *Curtsies*

The other day, life doth handed me free lemons – thusly, I doth made lemonade. Now, I’ve never really made lemonade from scratch. Mostly because the price of lemons is just too high to justify squeezing them to make juice. Maybe if you bought them in bulk it’d be worth it. Or, perhaps if you went on a fruit collecting trip.

But usually, I get lemons for free from relatives who have the trees and don’t know what to do with the fruit. So, conveniently for the 3 dollars or less limit – the price of lemons is going to be zero in this recipe. Actually, the only other ingredient that actually costs money is the sugar. I looked up a number of different recipes on the web, and settled on a version of this one to try:


4-6 lemons — Free
1 cup granulated sugar — $0.25

Total: $0.25

You want to make a sugar syrup so there isn’t sugar crystals swirling around in the lemonade. Combine about 1 to 2 cups water with the sugar in a small pan or pot and heat until the sugar dissolves all the way. While that’s going on, juice the lemons so that you get about a cup of juice. Usually about 4-6 lemons.

Mix the sugar syrup and lemon juice in a pitcher. Add about 3 cups ice and then 4-6 cups of ice water. I like to use ice because it decreases the time you need to refrigerate the mixture before it’s cold again. Usually you still need to refrigerate it 15-30 min. Serve in glasses with ice.

Well, as you can see, it’s no wonder why kids are pushed to start up lemonade stands. The margin is enormous if you happen to have the free lemons.

The above recipe felt kind of off to me – in fairness the author said that it would make a very, very sweet lemonade. I think I would have cut the sugar by even 1/2 next time. But I like lemonade that’s very mild. I do think the simple syrup idea helps out a lot, as opposed to trying to get pure sugar to dissolve in ice water.

Continue reading “Lemonade” …

3/17/08 | Irish Soda Bread

[ Currently Eating: Leftover Corned Beef ]

Happy St. Patty’s everyone. You know what – it has been a Long, Long, Longass Time™ since we had a $3 Or Less Recipe here on Cheap Eats. The thing is, they’re so much work to write up. And what with all the calculating and the hordes of folks writing in to tell me I’ve gotten the price of 2 ounces of cake flour wrong (you would not believe the number of people who majored in Advanced Recipe Calculus in college), it’s just very discouraging. That’s why I’ve steered clear of them for awhile.

But today, since it’s St. Patrick’s, I’m going to borrow the new recipe my wife tried out to make Irish Soda Bread the other day. This is also her picture below.

Irish Soda Bread  Cheap Eats at Bloglander

She decided to make it because my family was having us over for Corned Beef and Cabbage and we didn’t have anything to bring. Here’s the basic recipe used. And please (for my sanity) remember, the dang prices are estimated. I can barely use a calculator as it is.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour — $0.35
3 tbsp sugar — $0.10
1 tsp baking soda — $0.05
1 tbsp baking powder — $0.08
1/2 cup butter, softened — $0.90
(plus extra for brushing)
1 cup buttermilk — $0.35
(plus extra for brushing)
1 egg — $0.15
1/2 tsp salt (negligible)

Total: $1.98

Get the oven to 375F and grease a baking sheet. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl. You can use margarine instead of butter if you like.

Stir in 1 cup buttermilk and the egg so that you make a soft dough. You might need more (or less) buttermilk to make it right. Put some flour on a board and dump the dough onto it. Knead it slightly. Try not to overknead it, it gets tough otherwise. Shape it into a round loaf and put it on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a cross onto the top.

Melt some butter and add it to the extra buttermilk. Brush the top of the loaf well with that mixture. Pop it into the oven for 45 min or so. Do the toothpick trick to see if it’s done: poke a toothpick into the center. Comes out clean, then it’s ready.

Continue reading “Irish Soda Bread” …



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