Living well on a budget, without being truly cheap.

Getting ready for spring planting 2019

By Mike Thayer

Lincoln peasTomorrow, March 20th, marks the beginning of spring.  For many folks, that means it's time to play outside in the dirt!

I'm one of those playing-in-the-dirt loving people.  Gardening is a simple pleasure for me, from creating veggie or flower beds, to planting, to weeding, to the harvest, from start to finish it's all good. And it doesn't get any fresher than going out to the backyard, patio or balcony and picking fresh produce for dinner.

It's a little early though to go crazy planting all kinds of things outside, frost is a danger through late April in my neck of the woods but a few things can be planted outside now such as peas and onions.  Those plants are cold tolerant and the germination times for pea seeds and onion sets helps in reducing the frost risk.

Living in an apartment with a patio, I have to container garden, which also means pairing plants together.  Onions won't take up a lot of container space, especially if you're just going for green onion eating, they can be planted at the front of containers for easy picking.  The pea variety I'm planting is the 'Lincoln' variety, which is a fairly compact variety, not needing a trellis and does better than most peas in warmer weather.  I'll be placing the peas in the middle of my veggie containers.  They won't be invasive overtaking the onions in the front and that middle of the container placement will also leave room at the back of the container which is up against a trellised fence for climbing veggies like cucumber and pole beans.  I'll be planting those varieties when the danger of the last front has passed.

Tip: Growing plants from seed rather than buying starter plants is less expensive and will allow you to plant more variety in your garden.

Related:  Spring Planting Time

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Drink Review: Jim Beam Honey Whiskey

By Mike Thayer

It's been awhile since I've done a flavored whiskey drink review!

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 flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Yukon Jack Jacapple.

20190318_182853-1Tonight I'm trying a different flavor, honey, and the bottle of choice is Jim Beam's version of a honey flavored whiskey.

Here's the description from the bottle:  Our distillers have infused sweet, delicate honey liqueur with Fine Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  The perfect mix of bourbon with subtle hints of caramel, oak and vanilla.  Enjoy as a shot or with lemonade over ice.

I sampled this whiskey in a straight shot and on the rocks.  Both were pleasurable enough, nothing harsh.  The honey flavor is definitely there and you notice the vanilla note finish.  But I will say this flavored whiskey comes up more honey than whiskey.  As I've mentioned in other flavored whiskey reviews before, I want the flavor to compliment the whiskey, not overpower it.  Jim Beam's balance here is honey forward.  After sampling the shot and on the rocks, I did a mixed drink using my very own creation, the Hillbilly High as a base recipe.  The Jim Beam is pretty darn good in a mixed drink.  Perhaps that was what Jim Beam was going for here because that's how I'll sum this up, it's better in a mixed drink, than as a shot, served neat or on-the-rocks.  Costing me about $16 for a 750ml bottle, the price is reasonable but I'm not sure if I would buy it again.  I'm going to have to try other honey flavored whiskeys before making that determination.  Jim Bean Honey Whiskey gets 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Food Review: Freddy's Steakburger & Fry Seasoning

By Mike Thayer

Freddy's Steakburger & Fry SeasoningIf you've never been to a Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, you're missing out. 

They crank out some very tasty burgers and their seasoning is part of the reason why.

Available for purchase at their restaurants and online, Freddy's Steakburger & Fry Seasoning(TM) is the same authentic blend they use to season their steakburgers and shoestring fries with.  It's tasty stuff but don't stop at burgers and fries!  Freddy's seasoning is also excellent on steaks, chicken, fish or pastas.  I've used it on salads and it's great on buttered popcorn! 

An 8.5 ounce bottle of Freddy's Steakburger & Fry Seasoning cost me $3.99 and gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a versatile all-purpose seasoning with a very respectable flavor profile.  Add some Freddy's Seasoning to some mayo, a bit of ketchup, a splash of pickle juice and you've got Freddy's Fry Sauce, another dose of YUM!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


BBQ Sauce Challenge: Head Country vs. Kingsford

By Mike Thayer

What is the most popular thing to add to meats cooked outdoors?

BBQ Sauce
SO many choices!

BBQ Sauces

It’s true, the most popular thing to add to the plethora of meats cooked outdoors is BBQ sauce. If you had guessed ketchup, believe it or not, you would be wrong.

The person who invented BBQ sauce is unknown, but whoever he was, he was a genius! References to the sauce started appearing in 17th century English and French literature about the formation of the American colonies. The rest is history and boy has BBQ sauce been kicked up a notch with all kinds of flavors and varieties created over the last 400+ years!

A traditional flavoring for pork, beef and chicken, sauce can range from watery to thick, from being heavy on the vinegar to being loaded with spice. Flavors vary from sugary to savory, to HOT!, heck, there’s even mustard and mayonnaise based BBQ sauces. It’s a regional thing, there’s Carolina BBQ; Tennessee whiskey BBQ; Texas BBQ; and the favorite of many, Kansas City Style BBQ.

What is your favorite, do you like sweet, tangy, KC style, Carolina style?  Have you tried enough variety to know?

I've made this a challenge or sorts, sampling all those sauces, making comparisons and letting you know what I think the cream of the crop is. Will it be KC Masterpiece? Sweet Baby Ray's? Stubbs? Something else?

In my first tasting challenge, I sampled KC Masterpiece and Sweet Baby Ray's.  You can read that review here.

20190308_132747-1Today, I'm pitting Head Country Original vs. Kingsford Original Smoke Hickory.

The meat vehicle of choice to take these sauces on a test drive today are two hot links from Yoder Meats, absolutely delicious on their own, but also fantastic with some BBQ sauce!   It's a classic pairing.

Head Country Original BBQ Sauce:  This is a very well-balanced blend of sweet and savory with subtle spice and that's the description right from the bottle because it is that spot on.  I'm thinking to myself, "Why haven't I tried this sauce before now?'  This is competition bbq quality sauce, it is the sauce flavor judges are looking for when they sample contestant ribs, chicken and brisket.  This is my favorite of the challenge so far and I'm speaking from experience having been a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society Competition Barbecue Judge.  Costing $3.49 for a 5 stars20 ounce bottle, I'm giving Head Country Original BBQ Sauce 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's on the higher end of bbq sauce pricing but it's well worth it, the flavor is balanced, smooth, and well, in my humble opinion, the perfect compliment to properly prepared barbecue, no matter the cut of meat.

Kingsford Original Smoke Hickory:  I have to be honest here, going in I thought this was going to be another excessively hyped up "Name Brand" but over-the-top sweet sauce that would be more of a frosting than a BBQ sauce.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It wasn't too sweet at all and the hickory smoke notes definitely came through.  It is a thick sauce that lends itself to being a good glaze for the last 10 minutes of cooking time as opposed to a 3 starsbeing a mopping sauce but that's OK, because the dirty little secret is truly great barbecue doesn't really need a sauce.    A good sauce however, does make ordinary barbecue better and Kingsford will serve that purpose.  Costing me just $1.74 for a 20 ounce bottle this sauce is respectable, worth a repeat buy and gets 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Nobody can fault you for having this sauce on hand.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:

Weber Original vs. Cookies Original

Heinz Classic vs. Famous Dave's

Stubbs Original vs. Kraft Original

Sweet Baby Ray's vs. KC Masterpiece


Fish Is Back at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Who wants to go fishing at Freddy’s? Well, the hardest part of fishing is already done . . . now it’s time to eat! Come in and enjoy our premium wild-caught Alaska cod two ways: as a sandwich or as a fish & chips basket. Obviously, we will provide the malt vinegar, tangy tartar sauce or even better, Freddy’s Famous Fry Sauce® or Freddy’s Famous Jalapeño Fry Sauce® for dipping.

Freddy’s Fish Sandwich

Our fish sandwich features our premium wild-caught Alaska cod – so flaky and delicious. Make it a meal with our crispy shoestring fries, or upgrade your side to our golden onion rings, gooey cheese curds or choose from our five other side options.

Ingredients

  1. Two (yes, two!) filets of premium wild-caught Alaska cod (yes, straight from Alaska!)
  2. Melted American cheese
  3. All on a perfectly toasted bun

Freddy’s Favorite Fish & ChipsFredHeadFeed_Fish_Chips

Are you more of a traditional fish & chips fan? We have that too!

Fun fact! Did you know fish & chips originated in London, England? Fish & chips is considered one of the early examples of culinary fusion.

Ingredients

  1. Three or four filets of premium wild-caught Alaska cod (flaky delicious cod!)
  2. Freddy’s famous shoestring fries
  3. Dipping sauce of your choice: malt vinegar, tartar sauce, ketchup or maybe the best dipping sauce – Freddy’s Famous Fry Sauce® or Freddy’s Famous Jalapeño Fry Sauce® (give it that extra kick!)

Freddy’s Fish FAQs

Where does the fish for Freddy’s fish meals come from?

Alaska cod, is wild-caught in the Pacific Northwest.

What does Alaska cod taste like?

Wild-caught Alaska cod has a mild flavor and is on the top 10 fish favorites list compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Is Alaska cod a good source of protein?

Yes! A serving of Alaska cod is a great source of protein (very similar to Freddy’s chicken sandwiches).

  • Freddy’s fish sandwich: 18g
  • Freddy’s fish (3 filets): 18g
  • Freddy’s fish (4 filets): 24g

Why are fries called “chips” in the fish & chips basket?

As we learned, fish & chips originated in England and the British Commonwealth English word for French fries is chips. Therefore, fish & chips were born and the term “chips” continues today. A few other words for yummy delicious fried potatoes are fries, frites, hot chips, potato wedges, and of course, the best of all Freddy’s shoestring fries!

Is fish & chips only a carry-out or take-away food?

Originally, fish & chips were created as a take-away food in the United Kingdom, but today it can be enjoyed anywhere. At Freddy’s, you are more than welcome to stay, take a seat and enjoy your Freddy’s fish & chips at your local Freddy’s or swing through and pick up your fish & chips to go. Either way, you will enjoy a great meal and Freddy’s friendly hospitality.

Fish Sandwich and Fish & Chips Reviews

What do you think of Freddy’s fish sandwich or fish & chips basket? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Just remember, this seasonal favorite is only around for a short while at participating locations across the country.


Starbucks launches new spring products

Spring is in the air at Starbucks, with a menu of new and returning items designed to add a delightful ray of sunshine to your day and bring you out of your winter slump. Here’s what to look for at Starbucks and where groceries are sold this season:

Introducing Cloud Macchiato

VINNY DISTEFANO

New to Starbucks retail stores this spring, Starbucks Cloud Macchiato is the latest innovation from the team that introduced the original Caramel Macchiato. So light it might just fly away, the Cloud Macchiato features a cloud of whipped cold milk foam that’s light and smooth, topped with espresso shots and finished with Starbucks signature caramel drizzle cross-hatch. It’s the silky and exhilarating treat that will jumpstart your taste buds, available in two flavors: Caramel Cloud Macchiato and Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato. Enjoy hot or iced beginning March 5 as a permanent menu item at participating Starbucks stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Matcha Green Tea Latte, Iced Latte, & Creme Frappuccino

Matcha continues to be the rage this spring and customers can order it hot, cold or blended. Our trio of beverages – including Matcha Green Tea Latte, Iced Latte and Crème Frappuccino – will put you in the spring mood at the first sip with a smooth and creamy taste that is subtly sweet. Now available at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S.

Cold Brew with Cascara Cold Foam

Kathryn Barnard Photography

Returning to Starbucks stores this spring, the popular Cold Brew with Cascara Cold Foam is lightly sweetened with vanilla syrup and topped with Cascara Cold Foam and Cascara topping – a combination that will give your morning coffee just the right sweetness to complement the smooth flavor notes of Starbucks® Cold Brew. Available at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S., while supplies last.

Sweet Treats

Armstrong Studios

Lemon Cake Pop: New to our line of cake pops, this lemon-flavored cake is dipped in a yellow chocolatey coating and covered in sweet and sour topping, bringing a burst of sunshine to your day. Now available at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Available exclusively in grocery locations

Celebrate spring at home or on-the-go with these products where groceries are sold.

Starbucks Tripleshot Energy: New this season, Starbucks Tripleshot Energy will give you all the energy needed to help you power through your day. Now available in the U.S. in Caramel, Caffè Mocha and French Vanilla wherever groceries are sold. Suggested retail price of $2.99 for a 15 fluid ounce can.

Bottled Starbucks Frappuccino: The delicious new bottled Frappuccino flavors – including Caramelized Vanilla Honey, Toasted White Chocolate and Salted Dark Chocolate combined with a splash of Cold Brew and culinary-inspired ingredients – will be hard to resist. Available in the U.S. wherever groceries are sold. Suggested retail price of $2.93 for a 13.7 fluid ounce bottle.

Starbucks Blonde Sunrise Blend Flavored Coffee: The new Starbucks Blonde Sunrise Blend in K-Cup and ground packaged coffee has an approachable taste and a smooth body. Available for a limited time in the U.S. where groceries are sold. Suggested retail price of $9.99 for 10-count box of K-Cups, $12.99 for 16-count box of K-Cups, and $9.99 for 12 oz. package of ground coffee.

Starbucks Cookie Straws: Waiting inside each toasted rolled wafer cookie is a luscious layer of rich, dark chocolatey sweetness. Available in the U.S. wherever groceries are sold. Suggested retail price of $6.99 for a 20-count tin of individually wrapped cookie straws.


Krispy Kreme Doughnuts’ Green O’riginal Glazed Doughnuts Return for St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, with Chance for FREE Doughnuts for a Year

All weekend, March 15-17, fans can celebrate with Green O’riginal Glazed Doughnuts and the chance to win a Golden Dozen Pass worth FREE doughnuts through St. Patrick’s Day 2020

"What could be better than a green O’riginal Glazed doughnut? Not much. But FREE Original Glazed® doughnuts for a year might do the trick. Stop by and maybe you’ll end up with both"

Green Donuts

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will turn its Original Glazed® doughnut green (again!) and reward thousands of fans with FREE doughnuts for a year during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Weekend celebration.

Krispy Kreme is bringing back its popular “O’riginal” Glazed doughnut, a St. Patrick’s Day twist on the brand’s iconic doughnut with specially formulated green dough. The doughnut will be available throughout the three-day celebration, Friday-Sunday, March 15-17 at participating shops in the U.S.

The fun doesn’t end there. For the first time, thousands of lucky Krispy Kreme fans will win a “Golden Dozen Pass” worth FREE Original Glazed® doughnuts for a year – one dozen per month through St. Patrick’s Day 2020. Multiple customers will win a Golden Dozen Pass each day at every participating shop.

“What could be better than a green O’riginal Glazed doughnut? Not much. But FREE Original Glazed® doughnuts for a year might do the trick. Stop by and maybe you’ll end up with both,” said Dave Skena, Chief Marketing Officer for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

To find a participating shop near you and review giveaway terms and conditions, visit www.krispykreme.com/stpatricksday. Can’t make it to a Krispy Kreme shop? See giveaway terms and conditions on how to enter to win a Golden Dozen Pass via mail. Don’t forget to share your excitement for the O’riginal Glazed doughnut and Krispy Kreme’s Golden Dozen Pass with friends by using the hashtag #KrispyKreme and tagging @krispykreme.

About Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation

Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation is a global retailer of premium-quality sweet treats, including its signature Original Glazed® doughnut. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., the company has offered the highest-quality doughnuts and great-tasting coffee since it was founded in 1937. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is proud of its Fundraising program, which for decades has helped non-profit organizations raise millions of dollars in needed funds. Krispy Kreme doughnuts can be found in approximately 12,000 grocery, convenience and mass merchant stores in the U.S. The Company has nearly 1,400 retail shops in 33 countries. Connect with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at www.KrispyKreme.com, or on one of its many social media channels, including www.Facebook.com/KrispyKreme, and www.Twitter.com/KrispyKreme.


Gotta Affogato! The Story Behind New Dunkin' Menu Item

Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins are coming together to take deliciousness to the next level with an ice cream and espresso treat that comes straight from Italy: the Affogato.

What is an Affogato? It’s a classic Italian dessert that features a scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in a warm shot of espresso. The poured espresso is actually where this dessert gets its name since “affogato” by definition means “drown” in Italian.

It’s the simple yet delicious combination of velvety ice cream and rich espresso that makes Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins your local affogato ambassadors! This indulgent new menu item is a hybrid of two brand favorites: Baskin-Robbins’ French Vanilla Ice Cream and Dunkin’s bold, smooth espresso, resulting in a rich palate-pleaser and perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

DD Body affogato_201903011421

 

Now you can get this decadent treat that will transport your taste buds to Italy at participating Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins combo stores nationwide for $3.49. Trust us, you won’t believe how good it is until you try it – that’s why we’re offering free samples on Monday, March 18 between 10:00AM and 2:00PM.

Remember, you gotta Affogato to the nearest combo store to try this treat: check out our store locator to find an Affogato near you, and share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


'Pulled' Pork Hack

By Mike Thayer

Here's a nice little hack for making some really great 'Pulled' (shredded really) Pork done in the crock pot.

Margarita MixMargarita Mix

Talk about some flavorful, oh-so-tender and juicy pork!   And this recipe is versatile.  You can go classic BBQ, Mexican or even Asian cuisine with this recipe/shortcut/hack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of pork loin
  • Your favorite dry rub
  • Two cups of Margarita mix

Directions:

Rub that pork loin with your favorite dry rub, if you don't have one, Kosher salt and black pepper will do just fine.  Place in a zip lock bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.  After that pork loin has gotten all happy in the fridge, place it in the crock pot, pour in the Margarita mix and cook it on the high setting for 5-1/2 hours.  Shred in a large bowl or tray/dish and serve.

20190303_133731-1
Crock Pot "Pulled" Pork

Serving suggestions:

  • Mix with BBQ sauce when shredding, serve on a toasted bun with coleslaw
  • Skip the BBQ sauce and create some shredded pork tacos, serving on a flour tortilla with all the traditional taco toppings and salsa
  • Stir fry some vegetables creating some sweet and sour pork (the liquid in the crock pot makes a great base for the sauce) or break out the rice and Soy for pork fried rice.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


BBQ Sauce Challenge: Weber Original vs. Cookies Original

By Mike Thayer

What is the most popular thing to add to meats cooked outdoors?

BBQ Sauce
SO many choices!

BBQ Sauces

It’s true, the most popular thing to add to the plethora of meats cooked outdoors is BBQ sauce. If you had guessed ketchup, believe it or not, you would be wrong.

The person who invented BBQ sauce is unknown, but whoever he was, he was a genius! References to the sauce started appearing in 17th century English and French literature about the formation of the American colonies. The rest is history and boy has BBQ sauce been kicked up a notch with all kinds of flavors and varieties created over the last 400+ years!

A traditional flavoring for pork, beef and chicken, sauce can range from watery to thick, from being heavy on the vinegar to being loaded with spice. Ranging in flavor from sugary to savory, to HOT!, heck, there’s even mustard and mayonnaise based BBQ sauces. It’s a regional thing, there’s Carolina BBQ; Tennessee whiskey BBQ; Texas BBQ; and the favorite of many, Kansas City Style BBQ.

What is your favorite, do you like sweet, tangy, KC style, Carolina style?  Have you tried enough variety to know?

I've made this a challenge or sorts, sampling all those sauces, making comparisons and letting you know what I think the cream of the crop is. Will it be KC Masterpiece? Sweet Baby Ray's? Stubbs? Something else?

In my first tasting challenge, I sampled KC Masterpiece and Sweet Baby Ray's.  You can read that review here.

20190303_133731-1Today, I'm pitting Weber Original vs. Cookies Original.

The meat vehicle of choice to take these sauces on a test drive is some crock pot 'pulled' pork, pork loin (1-1/2 lb.) that was rubbed with my signature dry rub (refrigerated for 24 hours) and then placed in the crock pot with a very simple marinade of Margarita mix (one cup) and cooked on the high setting for 5-1/2 hours.  I chose pulled pork because it is arguably THE best foundation for testing BBQ sauces with.   

Weber Original

From the iconic maker of grills, comes Weber's Sweet & Thick Original BBQ Sauce.  You figure they know what they're doing right?  The recipe boasts of NO high fructose corn syrup and from the ingredients listed on the label this sauce is made in a Texas style, with more spice and less sugar than a KC BBQ style sauce.  And yes, Weber knows what they're doing, this is a very respectable sauce.  Smooth with a really nice finish, what sets Weber apart from other sauces is the use of red pepper, you definitely get that in each bite, it's not subtle, but it's not overpowering 3 starseither.  I also appreciate that this sauce doesn't have any harsh, in-your-face 'sugarness' to it.  Costing $2.87 for an 18 ounce bottle, I'm giving Weber Original 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's reasonably priced and delivers a nicely balanced marriage of BBQ flavor.  It's a repeat buy.

Cookies Original

Hailing from my home state of Iowa....  Yes, Iowa has some good BBQ.....  If you are a regular reader I really like Cookies Flavor Enhancer, my favorite off-the-shelf all purpose seasoning.  And I've been known to use Cookies BBQ sauce as a base for doctoring up with minced onion, bourbon, garlic powder, Cayenne, red pepper flake and a few other ingredients.  So in full disclosure I'm already familiar with this sauce.  It's a KC BBQ style sauce, rich and thick, not something you can mop ribs with but works really well as a glaze applied 10 minutes or so before serving.  What sets this sauce apart from others is the use of Worcestershire Sauce in the recipe.  A bit on the sweet side (which is why I like to doctor it, balancing it out with some heat), this is a versatile sauce, delivering classic BBQ flavor that will please just about everyone.  Costing me $3.19 for a 26 ounce bottle, Cookies Original Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce is reasonably priced 3 starsand is a repeat buy.  I'm giving it 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's another sauce that fits in the 'respectable sauce' category. 

Stay tuned for more sauce tastings!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....