Living well on a budget, without being truly cheap.

When you don't have off-the-shelf fajita seasoning on hand

By Mike Thayer

Mike's Fajita Seasonin
Mike's Fajita Seasoning

Here's a great little fajita seasoning you can quickly put together if you find yourself without an off-the-shelfer in your cabinet....

Mike's Fajita Seasoning

  • 1-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

This will be more than enough to season about two pounds of flank steak or whatever cut of meat you've chose to use for your fajitas.  Bottle the rest for later use!

And if you haven't already enjoyed my Flank Steak Fajita recipe, here 'ya go!

http://www.grillinggoodeats.com/ch-4-beef-recipes/

It's the second recipe on the page.  It's another dose of YUM!

Related:  Essential must haves for stocking your pantry and fridge

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Enjoy grilled terriyaki salmon without emptying your wallet

By Mike Thayer

Fremont Pink Salmon
Salmon that doesn't break the bank

I try to eat fish once a week and salmon is something I always have on hand in my freezer, but salmon can be a bit pricey, especially if you prefer wild caught, no skin fillets and pin bone removed.  Depending where you shop and how you prefer your salmon, you can pay anywhere from $6 to $20 a pound.

Fremont Pink Salmon, a product available at Aldi for just $3.99, is a wild caught salmon product that provides quality fillets for a very reasonable price.  Coming in a one pound package, the fillets are individually wrapped and average about 4 ounces per fillet.  That works out to less than $4 a pound for salmon, I'll take it!

I'm giving Fremont Pink Salmon 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's convenient, nicely packaged and the price is right, but it is budget salmon.  You're not getting thick, robust fillets with this product, but they take on marinade well and delivers good salmon flavor.

4 stars

Below is a super easy and delicious way to prepare salmon on the grill.

Doing fish on the grill adds another layer of flavor!  Smoke does A LOT for fish, so does the kind of heat you get from a grill. The texture of fish changes when placed directly over a fire and it absorbs smoke flavor readily. Fish and the grill are a perfect pairing because what turns out to be mush in a poached offering, becomes crispy on the outside but tender on the inside deliciousness in a perfect bite delivered from the coals...... What is bland in a baked preparation becomes, "I didn't know salmon could taste this good!" in a grilled preparation.  And I don't care how much seasoning and pretty decorative parsley is placed on a fillet, baked fish sucks.

Teriyaki Salmon

Here's a fantastic marinade for about two pounds of salmon:

Fremont Pink Salmon
Individually wrapped fillets, no freezer burn!

Marinade ingredients

  • Half cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • The juice from half a lime
  • One Tablespoon of dried, minced onion
  • One teaspoon of garlic powder
  • One Tablespoon of light brown sugar
  • Couple dashes of balsamic vinegar

Directions
Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or big measuring cup, set aside. Cut your salmon into four equal pieces (optional), place in a Tupperware bowl or a big zip lock bag, pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Fish does not need a lot of time to marinate, don't marinade more than four hours, or your fish will turn to mush.  Salmon is great for the grill, remember to take the fish out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to placing over the coals. You’re doing this to inspect the fish and make sure it‘s well covered in the marinade. It’s not about letting the protein come up to room temperature like you hear some of the cooking show talking heads say, that’s just yada, yada talk to kill air time. The truth is, refrigerated meats and/or fish won’t come up to room temperature in just 30 minutes, not even close. OK, back to the salmon…..

Put the fish over direct heat, fish side down at first if your fillets came with skin.  If your fillets do not have skin, you may need a basket to prevent breakage.  Let those fillets sizzle for about two minutes to get some nice grill marks, do NOT cover. Flip to the skin side after two minutes, keeping it over direct heat to get that skin crispy.  Now you can put a lid on it, for about another 3-5 minutes to get that nice charcoal flavor.  Remove from the grill and let them rest.

This recipe is a real crowd pleaser and it's easier on the wallet than you might think!

 


Food Review: Mama Cozzi's Combo Pizza

By Mike Thayer

20201231_081229Pizza - Perhaps the greatest food invention ever and I don't know about you, but I don't know anybody that does NOT like pizza.....  I usually have a fr0zen pizza or two in my freezer for those times when I'm craving pizza, but don't want to take the time to make one from scratch, let alone shell out $20 for delivery.

Today I'm reviewing Mama Cozzi's Pizza Kitchen, Combo Pizza which I picked up at my neighborhood Aldi store.   Mama Cozzi pizzas are popular with Aldi shoppers, with a variety of frozen and take-and-bake pizzas available. 

The Combo Pizza features pepperoni and sausage.  To me that's not really a 'Combo' pizza, it's just a pepperoni and sausage pizza.  In my eyes, a combo pizza has more than two toppings and would include a veggie or two.

From the Mama Cozzi's frozen pizza label: 

  • Original thin, artificial preservative free crust
  • Made with real cheese
  • Pepperoni made with pork, chicken and beef
  • Sausage made with pork and chicken
  • Great for grilling

20201231_081323Baked according to the package instructions, I did not doctor this pizza like I usually do by adding mushrooms, onion and extra cheese.  I sample this pizza "As is."

Not exactly generous in topping portions, this pizza lacks flavor.  The pepperoni, made with pork, chicken and beef, is not the real stuff, void of a robust flavor you get with a true pepperoni.  The plus side, it wasn't greasy like some of the fake pepperoni you can get on a bargain price pizza.  The sausage has the same problem, lacking flavor from a lack of seasoning.  The crust was bland and approached the cardboard arena.  The sauce was "eh."  A saving grace, the cheese was good and melted nice. 

Priced at under $3, I'm giving Mama Cozzi's Combo Pizza 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's an "eh" pizza and there are better frozen pizzas out there for about the same price.

3 stars

Related: Frozen Pizza Brands, listed here from worst to best

 

 


Food Review: LiveGfree Sea Salt Crackers Rock

By Mike Thayer

LiveGfree Gluten Free Crackers
These Sea Salt crackers are tasty!

If you're following a gluten free diet, you already know that gluten free products are typically more expensive than their traditional counterparts. 

Crackers are no exception.  You can easily spend $4 or $5 on a bag of gluten free crackers and not only are they more expensive, you're not getting as many crackers either, with packaging typically weighing in at 4.5 to 5 ounces.  Compare that to traditional crackers, let's go with Ritz crackers for example and on the average you can get a Family Size package - 1 lb, 4.5 oz. - for under $4.   You can get a box of original Triscuit crackers for about $2.50 - a 8.5 ounce box, or a box of Keebler Club crackers, also about $2.50 but for a 10 ounce box.

Enter Live G Free crackers....

LiveGfree Gluten Free Crackers
The size of the cracker measures up to the packaging pic!

Available at Aldi and coming in a 4.25 ounce bag, you only shell out $1.99 for these crackers!  That's less than half of what you typically pay for gluten free crackers anywhere else.  These crackers are tasty whether eaten by themselves or included in a snack tray offering.  They hold up to dips, stack well with meats and cheeses and come in a variety of flavors.  Tried on this occasion, the Sea Salt crackers were quite delicious, the flavors are on point.  Other flavors available are Rosemary & Olive Oil, Black Sesame and Sweet Chili - I'm trying that one next!

If you are living the gluten free diet, these crackers are a great option, tasty and easier on the snack budget vs. other Gluten Free cracker brands.  I'm giving Live G Free Sea Salt crackers 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're a repeat buy!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Gluten free crackers that will step up your snack spread and not break the snack budget


Food Review: Sprouts Hatch Ranch Dressing

Sprouts Farmers Market Hatch Ranch Dressing
It's another dose of YUM!

By Mike Thayer

Ranch is my go-to salad dressing if I'm going to have rabbit food.  My second favorite is Blue Cheese and every now and then when I think I need a change of pace flavor variety for my salad, I might have some Italian, perhaps some Thousand Island.  But here's the thing, after eating those different dressings, I finish that salad thinking, "I should have had Ranch." 

Looking to mix things up a bit when grocery shopping with my Lady Friend the other day, we found a really tasty variant of a Ranch dressing.

Sprouts Farmers Market Hatch Ranch Dressing

Made with avocado oil, this ranch dressing delivers big time on flavor, providing a nice little kick from the Hatch chiles.  It's smooth, creamy, provides the classic flavor of Ranch kicked up a notch with that hint of heat. 

Sprouts Hatch Ranch
A carrot dipping adventure!

Priced at $4.99 for just a 10 ounce bottle, it is a bit expensive but the flavor is worth it, a dressing worth treating yourself to, especially if you're looking to mix things up a bit.  The dressing can also serve as a marinade, I'm looking forward to trying it on some chicken!

I'm giving Sprouts Farmers Market Hatch Ranch Dressing 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a repeat buy!

4 stars

Salad with Hatch Ranch
Does that salad look fantastic or what?

Related: Sprouts Farmers Market offers great products at reasonable prices

 

 


Grilled Tuna Steaks are Awesome

Quality tuna on the grill is tough to beat.  A nice thick cut tuna steak is to fish, what a Ribeye steak is to beef.  And because tuna is so good, there's really no need to doctor it up much, you want to really enjoy the essence of this fish.  I prepare mine quite simply.   Dress the steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides.  When the grill is ready to receive, put the tuna steaks over direct heat.  And this is an excellent piece of fish to get those great diamond grill marks on.  Rotate the fish a quarter turn after one minute, then let it sear another minute before flipping, keeping the tuna over direct heat for another minute or two.  With tuna, you don't want to cook it all the way through, you want a strip of pink running through it, just like a medium to medium rare Ribeye.  If you cook tuna all the way through, it tends to dry out, meaning a much less enjoyable piece of fish.   Excellent served over a bed of your favorite fresh lettuce.

via www.grillinggoodeats.com


Pepperoni - it's not just for pizza and subs anymore!

By Mike Thayer

I love pepperoni, it's a 'Must Have' ingredient when I order pizza and I like it a lot on a sub sandwich as well.  So in looking for ways to get creative with the meal menu, I've been looking for ways to enjoy pepperoni other than on a slice of pizza, slapped on some bread or laid out on a charcuterie board. 

Pepperoni Scrambled EggsIt's a great addition to scrambled eggs!  Saute about one ounce of pepperoni slices in a small pan, let it start to sweat a little bit.  Then add a couple of scrambled eggs, you don't need to add any oil, the pepperoni takes care of that for you.  Options with your scrambled pepperoni eggs include chopped black olive, diced onion, or green pepper (throw such ingredients in when you're sweating the pepperoni).  And yes, we're talking pizza toppings!  Don't forget the cheese!

This scramble delivers a lot of protein to keep you feeling fuller, longer and we're talking less than 500 calories.  Toss the doughnuts aside!

Another idea for pepperoni was suggested by a friend of mine on Facebook.  When you're craving chips and a crunch factor, throw some pepperoni in the oven!

Place pepperoni in a single layer on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and soak up the excess pepperoni oil by patting paper towels against the 'chips'. Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 2 to 4 minutes to get them chip-like crispy! I tested this out while putting together my pepperoni scramble..... Mmmmm-mmmm!

And here's another alternative, pepperoni is a fantastic add to sweet potato soup!  An autumn classic, sweet potato soup is kicked up another notch when 1 - 2 cups of diced up pepperoni is included in the recipe.  Pepperoni really compliments the sweet potato flavor, you get the sweet from the potato and a little spice from the pepperoni.

Pepperoni doesn't have to be a secondary ingredient, make it the star!

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Turkey salad - VERY satisfying in every bite!

Chopped turkey
Making Turkey salad with leftover Thanksgiving turkey

By Mike Thayer

Of the meats, turkey is pound for pound a relatively inexpensive protein compared to the others and can be prepared in a number of delicious ways.  Turkey is actually an under-appreciated meat, being popular really, only during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  But there are all those possibilities aside from the typical holiday leftovers, all kinds of tasty offerings that can include ground turkey, grilled turkey, roasted turkey, pan seared turkey, white meat, dark meat, the diversity of dishes is impressive!  Don't ignore the turkey next time you go grocery shopping, turkey is quite versatile and can be used in a number of food applications.

Today, it's turkey salad.  Needing only a five minute preparation - if that - you can make a quick turkey salad in the morning before work to be eaten for lunch, or make it the night before for a snack or lunch the next day, five minutes in the kitchen, that's it.

This salad only contains about 4 grams of carbs, most of those coming from the sweet pickle relish.  If you use dill relish, it's even lower in carbs.  The best part - besides being tasty - is turkey is PACKED with high quality protein, about 8 grams per ounce!

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of leftover Thanksgiving turkey
  • One heaping Tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • One Tablespoon dried, minced onion
  • One Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

This isn't rocket science, in a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients together.   I like to make this hours ahead of time and refrigerate to give that dried minced onion time to absorb some moisture and let those flavors marry.

This quick turkey salad is great all by itself, slap it on a leaf of romaine lettuce, grab some Hawaiian rolls and make sliders.  You can change things up by sprinkling some shredded cheddar cheese on top.  Mozzarella cheese works well too.  Enjoy!   And enjoy the fact that all ingredients together costs around $1.50 - a savings bonus!  Turkey salad is delicious, low carb, high in protein and Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly!

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The best time to buy your Christmas turkey or ham is after Thanksgiving

By Mike Thayer

Kirkland Signature Spiral Ham off the smokerLooking to save a few bucks on that Christmas meal/party/shindig?

Don't put off buying the meat for the main course until a week before December 25th, look for the sales at your local grocery store just after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here's why:

  • Grocery stores typically over-order what they truly need for Thanksgiving sales and a surplus at the meat displays is NOT a good thing for the store.
  • Grocery stores will discount hams, whole turkeys, turkey breasts, pork loins and even beef roasts in the days just past Thanksgiving.  They need to move product to make room for incoming shipments. 
  • Prices for hams, turkeys, pork roasts, beef roasts, etc., in the days leading up to Christmas will go up.  Stores WILL manipulate your procrastination.

Look for the sales at your favorite local store, but don't be too anxious!  Exercise a little patience.  Most stores will typically reduce prices by 10 - 25 percent in the first few days after Thanksgiving.  But that won't eliminate all the Thanksgiving surplus meats.  Stores will then reduce prices even further, 40 percent, 50 percent off, perhaps even more going into the first 10 days or so of December.  But if you don't take advantage of that, watch, as the prices for those main course meats start to go back UP in price for Christmas and New Years!

Don't procrastinate, save yourself a few bucks and get your Christmas ham, turkey or whatever, on sale after Thanksgiving!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....