Living well on a budget, without being truly cheap.

Wine Review: Albion California Cuvée Rouge

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

In my monthly shipment I get four bottles of fantastic wine - I've NEVER been disappointed -  two whites and two reds and my last shipment included a red wine called "Cuvée Rouge" here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Albion Cuvee RougeThis wine is a winemaking first for WineShop At Home. It is the first time we blended a significant amount of Pinot Noir in a dry red blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Pinot Noir.

This Albion Cuvée Rouge has a very complex palate of aromas in the nose with plum, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry in the attack, followed by concentrated characters of jammy red fruit compote. The Cab Franc and the Pinot Noir elegantly mingle without a dominant influence from the toasted oak. The Cab Franc brings some intensity, good length and mouthfeel to the attack. Structure, power and acidity are all necessary ingredients for good red blends. The Pinot Noir influence results in dry fruit flavors and a juicy finish.

This generous, elegant, dry red wine will pair well with dishes like grilled chicken, pork chops or meatloaf.

Elegant indeed!  My girlfriend and I enjoyed this wine with the classic flavors of a Sunday meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and roasted vegetables.  This wine is an example of why I like WineShop at Home so much, I'm not into dry wines like a Merlot and the winemaker at WineShop at Home has a true knack for blending grapes and crafting wines with fantastic, intense flavors!  This red blend is fantastic!

Palate pleasing, the Albion Cuvée Rouge is another MUST TRY from WineShop at Home and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


Food Review: Chick-fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich

By Mike Thayer

Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken SandwichHaving lunch on the company dime the other day, a co-worker and I opted for Chick-fil-A, targeting a craving for a spicy chicken sandwich.

I've never had the Chick-fil-A version of a spicy chicken sandwich before and with the fast food chicken sandwich wars still going on, I was looking forward to sampling it.

Here's the description of the sandwich from the restaurant website:  A boneless breast of chicken seasoned with a spicy blend of peppers, hand-breaded, pressure cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and served on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips.

Basically, it's the Chick-fil-A classic chicken sandwich with some spice.  There's also a deluxe version of the Spicy Chicken sandwich available, which includes Green Leaf lettuce, tomato and Pepper Jack Cheese.

Our order was placed with Uber Eats, but they failed to show up at delivery time, we waited a bit longer....  Then the money spent for the lunch shows up as refunded!  Thanks for nothing Uber Eats!  Leaving us hanging and hungry, oh well, the failure of Uber Eats is a story for another day.

Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich pickle shotBack to the sandwich!

With my co-worker put into action as pick up and delivery service, we sat down to enjoy our meal.

I took that first bite.  It's a good sandwich, got a bit of the crunch from the breading, the toasted, buttered bun delivered on flavor, the pickles provided that little tart twang you're looking for, but that chicken....  I have to say I was a bit disappointed, there wasn't enough kick!  The chicken came up lacking in the spicy blend of peppers department, under-spiced I'd have to say. 

The Spicy Chicken sandwich I ordered cost $3.99 and I had buyer's remorse.  I should have gotten the Deluxe version, having that Pepper Jack Cheese, lettuce and tomato would have made for a better sandwich.  The Pepper Jack is needed to carry the spice note to a higher level.  The Deluxe doesn't cost that much more at just $4.69.

Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich honey mustard shotI'm giving the Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken sandwich just 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Even topped with the honey mustard, this sandwich was just "eh"......  I thoroughly enjoyed the waffle fries, I love those things!

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Wine Review: Cloud Symphony

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment was a white wine called "Symphony" and it truly is a symphony of great flavors!  Here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Cloud Symphony WineOur 2019 Cloud Symphony was produced in the Lodi region. This young vibrant 2019 vintage wine has a yellow straw color and a seductive nose.

A bouquet of aromas are represented, like citrus with grapefruit and orange blossom, fruit with apple and pear and floral with honeysuckle. This nose is characteristic of Symphony which was derived from Muscat and Grenache Gris. This is an off-dry white wine with a round fruity attack. There are mango, apricot and pear flavors appearing in the mouthfeel. There is sweetness, but that is not the main feature of this wine. There is also pronounced minerality which is a signature of this grape varietal.

This delectable well-balanced wine would pair well with spicy Indian or Thai curry-based dishes or savory pastries.

The winemaker at WineShop at Home has a true knack for blending grapes and crafting wines with fantastic, intense flavors.  This white is no exception.  Symphony is well rounded, it's smooth in a stand alone glass, it's smooth with a meal, it's smooth with dessert and that versatility is what makes this a 'go-to' wine for just about any occasion.  

Palate pleasing, the Cloud Symphony is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


Meal prepping without a meal plan

By Mike Thayer

Roasted Red PeppersChop, chop, chop!

Some people like to plan their menus, to include yours truly, but a lot of people aren't really into doing that.  No harm, no foul and eating on a whim can be fun!  But eating on whim can also be disappointing and it often begs questions like, "What do I want to eat?" or worse yet, "What is there to eat?"

Avoid the - what sounds good? - mindset and do a bit of meal prepping, not for a particular meal or set of meals, but 'mini-prep' if you will, so that when you do decide to cook, it will make putting that meal together a whole lot easier and faster.  Take advantage of foods you already have on hand, but are about to expire and take advantage of your freezer. 

When I've got a bag of carrots in the fridge coming close to an expiration date for example, I will slice, dice, roast, saute and FREEZE.  This extends the expiration date, I avoid the throwing away spoiled food thing and when I'm cooking a meal down the road that calls for carrots or I just need a quick side dish, I've got it at the ready in the freezer in various forms.

If you've got some canned chic peas about to expire, make some hummus, enjoy some, throw the rest of the batch in the freezer.  TIP, rotate your canned goods, always keep cans with the farthest out date in the back of the pantry or cabinet.  Don't just stack cans you just bought at the grocery store on top of the ones collecting dust, rotate those cans!

Did you buy too much of an ingredient for a meal or for a party?  Slice it, dice it, cook it, whatever, FREEZE it. 

Peppers are something I tend to over-buy, but they freeze well in raw form and can be used in a variety of dishes.  Freezing will change the texture of a lot of veggies, keep that in mind, because if you like snacking on a sliced pepper for example, don't slice peppers up thinking you'll have a great but simple snack to pull out of the freezer down the road.  It won't be the same fresh, crisp bite you enjoyed when first bringing those peppers home from the grocery store.  The peppers will however deliver some excellent flavor in soups, stews and here's a great one:  Roast those red peppers, put them together with those chic peas in a food processor for some roasted red pepper hummus.  It's another dose of YUM!

Leftover rice?  Throw it in a container with a protein like shredded chicken or diced ham and you've got a convenient, impromptu meal you can pull from the freezer.  Leftover taters?  Same thing, throw it in a container with a protein to create a base for a convenient, impromptu meal.  Pairing a carb with a protein and stashing it in the freezer goes a long way towards helping you quickly decide what to eat later on and is a time saver.  Bonus, having a stash of ready to go ingredients in the freezer is healthier for you than processed foods.

Got some berries that are going to go bad soon?  You could make a pie, but if you're not really into baking, say hello to ice cream!  I'm into simple desserts and some ice cream topped with warmed up blueberries or strawberries is super easy to put together, satisfying and most importantly, tasty.  Most fruits freeze well in raw form and you can keep things like berries in single serving containers too, ideal for snacking or portioning.

Avoid food spoilage, slice, dice, roast, bake, grill, etc., and FREEZE!  Extend the life of your food and easily create quite a bit of variety by making smart use of your freezer.  You'll save time, money and another BONUS - no more "What is there to eat?" anxiety.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

Related:  Plan your menus


Wine Review: Cookie Cellars Biscotti

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment was an excellent red wine blend, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Cookie Cellars BiscottiThis Cookie Cellars Biscotti red wine blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Zinfandel, 25% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Franc and offers dark red-fruit characters like plum, strawberry, cherry and blueberry in the nose.

Later, we are transported into a rich aromatic world of smoky bacon and toasted oak. From a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, the wine provides a fair amount of tannins in the attack, but this sweet red still has a pleasant smoothness to it.

It is a medium-bodied wine that should be enjoyed lightly chilled with Mexican food, mildly-spiced Asian food, meatloaf or chocolate desserts.

This red fits right into my wheelhouse because it's so well rounded, it's smooth in a stand alone glass, it's smooth with a meal, it's smooth with dessert.  If you have meatloaf planned for dinner for example, this is a smart choice and there's no worries about what wine to serve for dessert because the Cookie Cellars Biscotti has that covered too - great with brownies and a peanut butter frosting!   Yes, meatloaf and brownies were on the menu when I had the girlfriend over for dinner on Monday night.

The Cookie Cellars Biscotti is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


T-fal frying pans, quality cookware for a bargain price

By Mike Thayer

F-fal pan setWhen the eggs you're frying up for breakfast stick to the 'non-stick' frying pan despite the ample dose of olive oil, you know it's time to replace it.  The cheap frying pan set I bought at Walmart about five years back when setting up my apartment post-divorce were all in need of replacement as a matter of fact.  While I do enjoy my fair share of eating out, I do prepare most of my meals at home, so that el cheapo Walmart frying pan set endured almost every day use.  For the $18 or so I shelled out for the el cheapo stuff, I'd say I got some pretty good mileage out of those pans.

A frying pan upgrade was needed and heavier/thicker gauge metal pans, something that can hold the heat better, where the non-stick coating will last longer was a must.  Oh, and having to occasionally get the screwdriver out to make sure the loose handle didn't fall off those el cheapo pans was a bit of a nuisance.

Enter T-fal

Shopping with my girlfriend in Costco one day and browsing the 'kitchen stuff' isle, I picked up a T-fal 3 pack,  which consists of an 8 inch pan, a 9.75 inch pan, and an 11.25 inch pan.  For my cooking needs, this was a winner.  The pans are Titanium non-stick, with riveted handles (no more screwdriver!) and these pans are even oven safe up to 350 degrees.  But the best thing about this pan set was the price, just $24.99!

These pans are a pleasure to cook with, hold heat much more consistently than that el cheapo stuff did and are SUPER easy to clean.  This was a nice upgrade without having to shell out a lot of cash.  With proper care, these pans are going to last me more than the five years I cooked with that "e.c." set from Walmart.  I'm giving the T-fal 3 pack frying pan set 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, the only thing this set is missing is a lid.  I'd pay a few more bucks for a lid for one of the pans.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Prevent scratches on non-stick cookware

 


Wine Review: Fact White Wine

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment for a hosting party was an excellent off-dry white wine, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Fact White WineThis California White Wine blend of 65% Chenin Blanc, 25% French Colombard and 10% Chardonnay exudes aromas of lemon, apple, pear and lychee.

The attack in the mouth is quite round for an off-dry wine. There are no sharp angles and the wine is balanced all the way to the finish. In the mid-palate, there is citrus and acidity. This balanced Fact White Wine is very straightforward, fresh and will pair very well with many type of dishes.

Enjoy it with grilled fish, crab cakes, scallops or chicken salad.

I like this wine because it's not too dry and it has a sweetness to it in the finish.  Another plus is it's versatility, just look at the pairing suggestions from grilled fish to chicken salad, from fine dining to casual meal.  If you're doing wine and cheese, you can go high end with Brie or goat cheese, or you can keep it simple with some good cheddar.  This wine is a great pick for a go-to white for almost any occasion. 

The Fact White Wine is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


Wine Review: Table Rose' Wine

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment for a hosting party was an excellent rose', here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Table Rose' WineOur sweet Table Rosé is a blush wine mainly made with white varietals as its base. The golden rose color suggests the three white varietals that were the origin of the final blend.

The light peach hue is obtained by blending a few gallons of red wine with white wine. This wine starts with citrus characters such as lemon and lime along with sweet fragrances of honey, pear and ripe apple. This wine is round and lush in the attack and there is a short to medium intensity in the mouthfeel. Straightforward, sweet citrus characters is what it’s all about for this blush rosé.

The round finish will pair well with many dishes such as fish, pasta, turkey or chicken.

No wine rack or cooler is complete without a Rose' in it and the Table Rose' Wine is a palate pleaser. The sweet citrus notes from nose to finish is very enjoyable and the beauty about a good Rose' is that it's so versatile.  It easily pairs with a number of main dishes, as well as being a great pick for the classic charcuterie board.

The Table Rose' Wine is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


Wine Review: Royal Mama Queenie's Blend

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment for a hosting party was an excellent red, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Royal Mama Queenie's BlendThis is a new brand for us, that honors all of the mamas out there. This sweet red wine blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah and 5% Petit Verdot offers raspberry, strawberry and blackberry aromas in the attack.

There are some toasted oak characters and then a few seconds later, brown sugar notes in the finish. It has a fruity, round and tannic attack. Primarily composed of Cabernet, this wine offers layers of tannins in the mid-palate all the way to the finish. We added some complexity with a round, sweet finish.

This voluptuous red wine has great balance and power and will pair well with gourmet pizza, meatloaf, quiche or pasta dishes, like lasagna or frittata.

Out of the five fantastic wines sampled at my hosting party, this one was the consensus favorite.  You get those fruits from nose to finish and it's that finish that really makes this wine sing when those toasted oak and and brown sugar notes kick in.  I have also tried the Royal Mama Mimi's Blend, also very good, WineShop has knocked it out of the park with this new brand.

The Royal Mama Queenie's Blend is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


Drink Review: Brown Sugar Bourbon from Heritage

By Mike Thayer

Blended and flavored whiskeys are red hot right now, consumer demand for brown spirits continues to rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or a flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Skrewball Peanut Butter Flavored Whiskey.  It is without question the best chilled shot in a flavored whiskey I've ever had.

BSBToday's tasting, is BSB, Brown Sugar Bourbon made by the Heritage Distilling Co.

Here's the description from the Heritage website: 

BSB® - Brown Sugar Bourbon tastes both sweet and indulgent, featuring strong notes of cinnamon and brown sugar that create a classic whiskey warmth.  

Experience why BSB® was named the “World’s Best Flavoured Whisky” 2 years in a row by Whisky Magazine's World Whiskies Awards 2018 & 2019.

That's saying something right there, earning that kind of accolade.  And one year voted best could be a bit of a fluke - a distiller smartly taking advantage of a flavor profile trend - but voted best two years running?  Nope, not just a trend.  This whiskey is for real and the best flavored whiskey vote from Whiskey Magazine isn't the only source of awards either.  Check out the list here.

As always, I tried this whiskey neat, on the rocks and in a chilled shot.  It's very good any way served.  Brown sugar and cinnamon are a fantastic pairing and you get those notes as soon as you open the bottle.  The warm finish is long lasting and reminds you of having french toast for breakfast.  It is on the sweet side in a good way which makes for a fine sipping whiskey and I would put it in the dessert whiskey category.  Heritage has a few drink recipes and other suggestions on their website.  Spiked BSB Whipped Cream anyone? 

I paid $19.99 for a 750ml bottle and the BSB Brown Sugar Bourbon from Heritage is DEFINITELY worthy of a repeat buy, I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's reasonably priced and quite tasty.  Find a place for it in your liquor cabinet.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

My neighborhood liquor store has been offering this in the sample size to see if it's popular enough to put on the shelves, and it's been selling like hotcakes!  TIP:  Taking advantage of those sample size offerings is a fantastic way to find out if you like a particular liquor enough to buy a full size bottle.  Samples typically cost between $1 and $3.  If you find you don't like something in the sample size, there's no full size bottle buyer's remorse.