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October 2018

Food Review: Bubba's 33, pizza, burgers and beer

By Mike Thayer

20180927_152828In an effort to drum up some business for the restaurant, a representative from Bubba's 33 dropped off a pepperoni pizza recently to a co-worker and I, what a nice surprise and there is no better way to get the word out on your pizza joint than a free tasting!

From their website:  Bubba’s 33 was created in 2013 by Kent Taylor, Founder of Texas Roadhouse restaurants. Kent’s vision was to create a restaurant where families, friends, and sports teams could gather to enjoy a lively atmosphere without sacrificing quality food. Bubba’s 33 is just that – a place for all things American – food, family, sports, and beer!

A relative newcomer to the pizza and burger scene, Bubba's 33 restaurants have now opened up in 13 states. 

"So who cares when they opened, how is the pizza?" you ask...

20180927_154323The scratch made hand tossed crust is phenomenal!  It was baked to perfection and had that light, flaky, crunch on the outside and fluffy deliciousness on the inside with every bite.  The sauce was seasoned nicely, the blend of cheeses was portioned well and had a perfect melt.  The only knock I've got on this pizza is the pepperoni portion.  It was good pepperoni, but I didn't get pepperoni in every bite.   This was a well balanced pizza, hitting all the classic flavor notes you expect from a good pepperoni pizza and it motivates me to make a visit to Bubba's 33.

Oh, and apparently the "33" in Bubba's is a reference to how cold their beer is, 33 degrees!

Bubba's 33 pepperoni pizza gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  You can't beat the price (free!) and the pizza was quite tasty, the crust was top-notch!

4 stars

Find a Bubba's 33 near you, it will be worth a visit.

Spend Wisely My Friends.....


Save big bucks on shirts - buy them off-season

By Mike Thayer

Short sleeve shirtIt's fall and all the stores where you like to buy shirts have no doubt put all their fall and winter shirt selections out on the floor.  You might be thinking it's too late to pick up a couple of summer shirts, stores have packed those away in the back room, you'll have to wait until next season to get any.

Think again.  Now is the perfect time to buy summer shirts!  Most stores don't pack away seasonal shirts, they don't have room in the back (more winter items are still coming in) and what they have on hand might not be quite as trendy next summer so on the floor they stay, deeply discounted.

Look around that sales floor, among all the flannels, long sleeve shirts and pullovers, there's a rack or two, perhaps a display table somewhere with summer shirts on it.  Shirts that were normally $25, $40 or $50 and up are now $5, $10, $15.  We're talking name brands too, IZOD, Stafford, PGA Tour, Adidas and more.  The selection won't be like as for the beginning of summer, but you'll find something to your liking.  And like I said, what's available might not be THE trend setter next summer season, but hey, we're guys, we like our favorite shirts right?  Trends be damned.  And if you're like me, I tend to wear short sleeve shirts year-round, they make up the bulk of the shirt selection in my closet.  I can't have enough short sleeve and summer shirts!  Buying them deeply discounted and/or on clearance only makes sense and yes, I'll wear them out-of-season!   SHOCKER!

And the same thing that works for buying summer shirts when tree leaves turn color works for fall and winter shirts too.  Wait until spring to get those.

Spend Wisely My Friends.....

Chapter 13 - Accessories & Gadgets - Grilling Good Eats

Chapter 13 - Accessories & Gadgets

Mike ThayerGrilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

I already covered 'must have' essential tools in Chapter 2, but let's do a quick recap of the basics needed for cranking out a great meal from the grill before we get into accessories and gadgets.  

The charcoal chimney: For me, there’s really no better way to light charcoal.  They’re easy to use and there's no foul lighter fluid smell or residue. 

Grill gloves: Get a good glove for working with charcoal chimneys, re-positioning a grill grate, lifting a hot lid or even pulling some hot baked potatoes off the grill. 

Tongs: NO grill master is without a good pair of metal tongs. For added control and gripping power, be sure to buy a pair with some kind of scalloped edge in the tip end. 

A good spatula: A metal spatula for the grill is a MUST have. Pay the extra buck or two for quality, a metal spatula with a rubber or silicone grip. Stay away from wood handles!

A basting brush:  Get the newest brushes made out of dishwasher safe silicone. They don’t grab as much sauce like the traditional brushes do but they last longer, the brush ‘hairs’ don’t fall out and they clean up much easier. You’ll have to do a little more dipping, but that’s OK.

Meat thermometer: An instant-read meat thermometer is a good thing to have, especially if you want reassurance that what you've prepared for family or guests has hit the right temperature. Safe eats are good eats.

A good quality wire brush: It’s simply the best tool for keeping your grilling surface clean.

A good quality cast iron skillet: It can take the heat, they’re versatile and a well seasoned skillet, like charcoal, delivers another layer of flavor.


A hearty bowl of great chili, excellent for tailgating, a cold weather comfort food

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Here's my go-to chili recipe, prepared on the grill

Cast Iron Chili

The definition of chili is pretty broad, that's what makes it so great and one of my top, cold weather, go-to, comfort food meals.  It's easy to prepare and quite versatile.   Fix a small batch for two, or fix a boatload for a crowd.  It's easy and an awesome tailgate food!

You can make it hot and spicy, you can make it not-so-much spicy.  You can make it with beans, without beans, one kind of bean or three beans.  You can make a batch of chili with just about any cut of beef.  Make it with ground beef, or cubed sirloin, heck rough chop those two leftover rib-eye steaks in the fridge and put them in the pot.....  My latest venture has been making chili with smoked brisket - YUM!   And don't restrict yourself.  Beef-based chili is great, but so is chicken chili, pork chili and any combination of those.  I haven't tried lamb yet, but it is on the agenda.  You can serve chili over rice (my favorite way to enjoy chili, served over a bed of white sticky rice), have it Cincinnati style over a bed of spaghetti, or dish it up classic style in a bowl topped with saltine crackers.  Have it with crusty bread, corn bread (with honey), top it with diced red onion, or chopped green onion, or shredded cheddar cheese, or sour cream or "Loaded" (Fritos, onion/shredded cheddar/sour cream).  I don't know anyone who doesn't like chili.  Everybody likes at least some kind of chili.

Then there's all the leftover classics....  Chili dogs, chili burritos, chili-mac, chili nachos, chicken chili enchiladas.  Use your imagination, chili salad, chili shepherd's pie, chili tacos and yes, even chili pizza.  That's how versatile and crowd pleasing chili is!  It's easy to prepare, easy to make leftovers with, and most definitely, EASY TO EAT!  If I was a betting man, I would argue that you can do more with leftover chili than you can a Thanksgiving dinner.

Here's my standard chili recipe, not too spicy, but not too bland either.  It's kid AND adult friendly!


  • Two pounds of ground beef (I like to go lean ground beef here, using a 90/10.  There's a lot less fat to drain off and you don't have to worry about the meat drying out - we're making chili after all. 
  • One large onion, diced
  • Three stalks of celery, chopped
  • Three - four cloves of garlic, minced
  • Two tablespoons chili powder
  • Two teaspoons cumin
  • One teaspoon dried oregano
  • One teaspoon salt
  • One teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
  • One Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • Two cans of diced tomato, undrained
  • One 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • Three cans of beans, undrained (I like to use one each of red kidney, chili beans in sauce, and black beans - three beans = more flavor.  Pintos are good too.  Use any three you like.)
  • One cup beef stock
  • One Tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • The juice from half a lime
  • And here's the secret ingredient - never make a batch of chili without it - one small can of diced green chilies.  Kids won't even know it's in there.


In a cast iron Dutch Oven, brown the ground beef over direct heat, drain and set the meat aside.  Saute the onion, celery and chili powder in the dutch oven until the onion starts to appear translucent.  Add the drained ground beef, garlic, cumin, green chilies, beef stock and tomato paste and let that mixture simmer  for about 10 minutes, keep an eye on the pot, you may need to slide it a bit more towards the indirect heat side of the grill.  This is going to give you a nice, deep base flavor.  Add in the remaining ingredients, stir to incorporate and let that come up to a slow rolling boil, then if you haven't moved the pot over to the indirect heat side of the grill already, do so now.  Keep the lid off to tease people in the neighborhood with that great aroma for about 20 minutes, or until you reach desired thickness.  Option:  Serve the chili with another squeeze of lime from the remaining half.

THE tip for a truly great chili:  Chili is ALWAYS better the next day.  Sure, chili is really good the day you make it, but letting all those flavors marry over the next 24 hours makes it even more delicious!  Once you get your chili to your desired thickness, refrigerate it.   Reheat it the next day on the stove and serve with any of the suggested styles mentioned above.  And here's why it's a great tailgate food - you can make it the day before, it transports well and just simply heat it back up on the grill at the party.  Free yourself to mingle more with your tailgate friends, guests can serve themselves and eat this great chili by the bowl or here's a real crowd pleaser - Chili Dawgs!

Putting together a batch of chili is easy on the wallet, with many of the ingredients coming from your well stocked pantry.  This recipe serves six, with plenty leftover.     I like to add a little extra Louisiana hot sauce along with the lime juice to my bowl...... 


Find more great tailgating recipe ideas at


A change of pace sandwich using Cottage Bacon, the CBLT

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Cottage Bacon
Cured Pork Shoulder, a.k.a., Cottage Bacon

Tired of burgers and chicken nuggets?

Just take a look at the picture on the right, Cottage Bacon, an excellent change of pace meat, a great way to cure your meal doldrums...  Yes, pun intended....  'cure'....

If you're not familiar with Cottage Bacon, it's cured pork shoulder, sliced thin.  It's leaner than bacon and the flavor elements carry both ham and bacon notes.  It fries up really well without shrinking too much and it's great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Also excellent prepared on the grill, it's fantastic with eggs, excellent on a sandwich, pairs really well with potatoes.  Here's an easy peasy recipe for a quick sandwich:

CBLT (Cottage Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato)


  • 2-3 slices of Cottage Bacon
  • 2 slices of Swiss Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • One bun
  • Melted garlic butter
  • Mayo
  • Mustard
  • A splash of Olive oil (if pan frying)
  • Black pepper to taste


Pan fry the Cottage Bacon over medium heat (a VERY nice alternative is to grill it, over direct heat), about 2-3 minutes per side.  Hit it with the black pepper.  While that's cooking, brush the bun with melted garlic butter and toast.  Dress the toasted bun with mayo on the bottom bun, mustard on the top, put on the lettuce and tomato.  After flipping the Cottage Bacon, put on the Swiss Cheese to melt.  Put the meat on the bun and ENJOY!

This Cottage Bacon cost me about $7 at Yoder Meats, THE best butcher in town.  I've got enough meat here for 3 meals, that breaks down to about $2.33 per meal.  That's Bachelor on the Cheap Friendly and the taste is great!  If you're not already a Cottage Bacon fan, you'll become one!

Cottage Bacon Sandwich

For more great recipes go to