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December 2016

Pantry Hash Over Easy

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Hash:  A chopped mixture of cooked meat and vegetables, usually baked or browned.

And that's exactly what Pantry Hash Over Easy is, a chopped mixture of meat and vegetables, using whatever you have on hand.  This dish is easy to prepare, easy to eat and easy on the wallet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Russet potato, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 of a can of Spam, diced
  • 1/4 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 of a green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

20161222_090749Directions:

Heat up a sauce pan over medium heat, add one Tablespoon olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the potato and seasoning salt.  Make sure the potatoes are evenly distributed in the pan.  Let them cook for about five minutes, do NOT stir, you want that golden brown crispy edge to develop.  In a separate pan, heat up the remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Add the Spam, onion, green pepper and garlic powder, stir occasionally, until you get some carmelization.   Flip the potatoes then add the meat and veggies from the other pan, distribute evenly, let that cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Crack the eggs over the top.  When the whites turn white, section the pan into thirds with a spatula and carefully turn the eggs over, potatoes and all.  Top with the shredded cheese and cook for about another minute.  Serve immediately.  And the beauty of hash is you don't have to limit yourself to the ingredients listed, above.  Use whatever you have on hand.  Add mushrooms if you like mushrooms.  Don't have Spam in the pantry?  No problem, use leftover ham or beef, heck, even turkey works.  Don't like green pepper?  Use some chopped carrots.  Yes, carrots can be eaten for breakfast and they're actually quite good in a hash.  Throwing together this hash is, well, 'over easy...'   Yes, pun intended!  This dish costs under $3 to prepare and for one person, there will be leftovers.  It's another dose of YUM!

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Where to buy a battery for your vehicle

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

So in the latest cold spell we had, my truck battery died.  It could no longer drum up the power to crank the engine.  May it rest in peace......

It's been quite awhile since I've had to buy a battery for a vehicle, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when it came to prices.....

HOLY CRAP Battery Man!

For my vehicle, in a cold-weather climate and needing 850 cold cranking amps..... Here are the prices of the leading battery providers:

Interstate:  $164

AutoZone:  $134

O'Reilly Auto Parts:  $134

Sure, Interstate is perhaps the most well known, considered the top of the line, but is it?  Really?  Is Interstate's 850 cold crank amp battery really any better than anybody else's, or is it just marketing?  And then you get the two most popular auto parts stores and their respective offerings....  Gosh, can you tell there is competitive pricing there? 

Everstart 65 MaxxEnter, Walmart.

The price for Walmart's Everstart 65 Maxx, with 850 cold cranking amps, is $95.  It's got a 5 year warranty, just like all the others.

If you are going to install a battery yourself, this is a no brainer.  Walmart is the way to go.  And here's something you may not know.....  Take your old battery into the store when buying a new one, it saves you about $18 in a "core fee".  If you turn in your old battery, you won't get charged.

And if you do decide to have a service center install a battery for you, make sure they don't charge you a "core fee."  They took out the old battery and kept it.  They didn't ask you if you wanted to keep it, they didn't put it in your trunk, so don't let them charge you that fee.


Baking Bread: Parmesan Loaf

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20161218_194129Nothing fills the house with the aromas of yum quite like baked bread.

Here's a great recipe that's easy to put together and easy on the wallet, as you should already have everything you need for making this bread in your pantry.

And after tasting this bread, you'll probably start baking your own more often......

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups whole milk, scalded
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried, minced onion
  • 3 Tablespoons grated, Parmesan cheese
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tabs of butter

Directions:

Soften the yeast in warm water and half the sugar, set aside.  In a small sauce pan over low heat, combine the milk, 2 tabs of butter, garlic powder and minced onion.  Heat it through until you start to see it steam up, then turn off the heat and let the milk cool to lukewarm.   In a large mixing bowl, combine half the flour, salt, remaining sugar and Parmesan cheese, lightly combine. Mix in the milk mixture to start forming the dough, slowly add in the remaining flour until you get a stiff enough dough to form a ball.  Cover with oil sprayed plastic and let the dough rise until it doubles in size (a little over an hour or so).  This is going to be enough dough to make two loaves, put the dough in two greased loaf pans, cover with plastic and let the dough rise some more, for about 45 minutes.  Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.  After removing the loaves from the oven, melt the remaining butter over the top crust and sprinkle on some additional Parmesan.


Food Review: Dominos Pizza Still Sucks

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

So I was at work, thinking about what to have for dinner, as I failed to pull anything out of the freezer in the a.m. before work and I didn't have any leftovers on hand to reheat.....

20161207_184546(1)"Pizza!" I said, in typical, bachelor, man-speak......

My next thought was, where is a convenient pizza joint on the route to the house where I can slip in and slip out to pick up a carry out order?

Pizza Hut?  Nope, not on the way home.

Papa Johns?  Yes, but on the wrong side of the street, heavy traffic at that time of day forbids a left turn out of the parking lot.

A local joint?  This would be my preferred choice, but none exist....... 

So what choice is left?  Dominos.  It's on the way home, it's on the right side of the street, but Dominos?  Really?  I haven't had a Dominos pizza in years and for good reason.  Their crust became cardboard, their sauce lacked zesty flavor, they got cheap on the toppings and most importantly they stopped doing the 30-minute delivery guarantee....  Let me tell you, there was nothing better than getting a bunch of free pizzas on Super Bowl Party Sunday, it was the stuff of high-fives with the guys!  And while Dominos used to be OK back in the day, they went downhill, steeply, both in terms of product and service.   Dominos used to be a bachelor's go-to, the pizza was decent for the price and most times, you got it delivered as promised.  But those days disappeared.  

Knowing the joint has tried to re-invent itself in recent years, creating new crust and sauce recipes as well as adding new menu items, I decided Dominos was worth a new try.

Oooooops!

Dominos still sucks.

I ordered my favorite, a pepperoni and mushroom pizza on a hand tossed crust.  In fact, I ordered extra cheese and extra mushrooms.

20161207_184519Does this look like extra cheese and extra mushrooms to you?

I will give credit where credit is due.  Dominos has improved their crust.  Is it really tossed?  Um, no, but it no longer tastes like cardboard.  You can taste the infused garlic and butter and it does have a crispy, flakiness to it. 

But the sauce is terrible!  It's not zesty, it's....well, off.  It's not a classic, savory pizza style sauce, Dominos went off to la-la land with the sauce.  I have to ask, does Dominoes even know what oregano is?  There was no, "Yum!" to this sauce, I found myself asking, "WTF, this is a revamped recipe?  They need to go back to the drawing board."  It's not a pizza sauce, it's not worthy of a spaghetti sauce (or as some Italians might say, a 'gravy') , it's not a marinara....  I don't know what Dominos was thinking in putting out the sauce they're now using.  It's not 'out-of-the-box' innovative, it's, well, crap.  There's just no other way to put it.  The sauce sucks and it kills the pizza.

And about those toppings......  Dominos, well, at least this local one anyway, is still up to its old tricks that sent the pizza joint into decline, being a scrooge on the toppings.

The pizza I ordered, a large pepperoni and mushroom with extra mushroom and extra cheese came to about $18 online for a carry out order.  I ordered it just before leaving work and when I completed the order online I was informed it would be ready for pickup in 9-15 minutes.

The order was ready when I arrived at Dominos 10 minutes later.  Kudos.  The guy taking my payment even gave me an on-the-spot coupon discount, knocking $5 off the price.  Nice, but that didn't add any flavor (or more mushrooms) to the pizza.

Dominos gets just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  They definitely improved their crust, but the sauce sucks big time and they're still skimpy with the toppings.

Bachelor_on_the_cheapBachelor_on_the_cheap

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Keeping it simple

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

BreakfastWithout question, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

Starting the day off with a satisfying meal doesn't have to be expensive either, not in calories, nor in terms of impact on the wallet.

A quick fast food breakfast can cost between $6 - $9 depending on your choices, but you don't always get quality...  Meals not as hot as they should be, breakfast sandwiches put together in sloppy fashion, received the wrong order in the drive thru........  A satisfying breakfast at a place like Perkins will typically cost around $9, the quality is better than fast food, but the downside to that is the time ticking on the clock.....

Make your own breakfast.

Four strips of bacon and a couple eggs over easy topped with cheese takes all of 15 minutes to prepare, only costs you about $1.20 in grocery money and here's the biggest benefit:  Diet friendly and VERY satisfying!

This breakfast packs 34 grams of protein, just 3 carbs and only about 500 calories!

That's a great way to start the day!


Bacon Fried Rice: It's what's for breakfast!

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Bacon Fried RiceLooking for something different to have for breakfast?

Fire up the skillet and make some bacon fried rice.

It's a spin off the oriental classic of fried rice, Americanized for breakfast.  Fried rice isn't just for lunch or supper anymore.

This breakfast is also Bachelor on the Cheap friendly, costing less to put together than a breakfast combo at a fast food joint.

Ingredients:

  • 3 strips of raw bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of leftover rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fry up the bacon in a medium sized skillet over medium heat until crispy, remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the leftover rice and diced onion to the pan, taking advantage of that bacon fat (FLAVOR!).  This is going to give that rice a nice golden brown crispiness on the edges.....  Fry the rice for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and stir until incorporated.  Add the cooked bacon and top with the shredded cheese and cook for another minute or until the cheese is melted.

This dish is a nice change of pace breakfast and another dose of YUM! I like to serve mine with a little Louisiana Hot Sauce, enjoy.