Previous month:
October 2018
Next month:
December 2018

November 2018

Kicking popcorn up another notch - Honey Butter Popcorn

By Mike Thayer

20181101_163628Why is popcorn one of my favorite snack foods? 1. It tastes great, 2. It's WAY cheaper than a bag of chips, 3. You can add just about any flavor to it by popping your own, turning it into a gourmet treat!

Try this the next time you make popcorn.... When melting butter, add one of those honey packets you've got stashed in your 'fridge, like from Chick-fil-A or KFC.... along with a pinch of Kosher salt.  It's another dose of YUM!  Frankly, I like this better than caramel popcorn.   I call it "HoneyCorn"....

And if you're looking for a GREAT popcorn popper, check this out: 

Product Review: The Salbree Popper

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Easy Casserole Ideas - A Mulligan Breakfast Casserole

By Mike Thayer

I love casseroles, all types, dinner casseroles, breakfast casseroles, leftover casserole for lunch.... It's all good and the flavor possibilities and combinations are endless!

Casseroles can mean different things to different people, so just what IS a casserole anyway, how is it defined? For me, being a bachelor and pretty handy in the kitchen (patting self on back....), it means a simple to prepare one-dish meal, something that's got meat, a starch, a veggie and a gravy, or a sauce and/or cheese to go with it. It's a convenient mix of ingredients that go well together and is baked to perfection in the oven - THAT is a casserole. And yes, the dish it's baked in was named after it. Simplicity and convenience are keys to a good casserole, it can't be a complicated recipe that's labor intensive. If that recipe takes more than 10-15 minutes to prepare before you're throwing that dish in the oven, then it's NOT a casserole in my book.

20181026_204908-1
Bacon, sausage and ham, Oh my!

Mulligan Breakfast Casserole

That's right, casserole for breakfast!  It's a nice change of pace from the typical sandwich, muffin, shake or bowl of cereal and this casserole is the epitome definition for casserole, since just about any kind of meat, cheese and potato you have on hand is thrown in, hence, the Mulligan reference.

Ingredients:

  • Any kind of leftover breakfast meat you have, bacon, ham, sausage, one kind is good, three kinds is even better, about 1 pound, chopped/crumbled.  Save some crumbled bacon to top with.
  • 3 eggs
  • Splash of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green or red pepper, diced (optional)
  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups potato, it could be tater tots, tater rounds, shredded potato, enough to cover the top of the casserole
  • 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheese, it could be cheddar, mozzarella, Mexican mix
  • One green onion, chopped
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions:

20181029_081054Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, lightly spray/coat a casserole dish with olive oil.  Heat up a frying pan and the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, optional green pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 1 - 2 minutes.  Add the leftover breakfast meat and garlic powder.   Transfer to the casserole dish.  Add the splash of milk and seasoning salt to the eggs and beat to combine, then pour over the meat/onion mixture. Top the dish with the shredded cheese and potato.  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until those potatoes are golden, brown and delicious.  Top the baked casserole with a little more shredded cheese, the chopped green onion, some bacon crumbles and black pepper to taste, immediately after pulling it from the oven.  Enjoy!

Serving Suggestion:  Try a few shakes of Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco on that serving of breakfast goodness! 

This casserole is pretty easy to prepare and it's easy on the wallet, with most ingredients making use of leftovers and items you already have on hand.  And here's another Bachelor on the Cheap benefit to casseroles, not only do they lend themselves to very tasty leftovers, but they freeze well! After you've enjoyed the casserole for breakfast, portion it out, perhaps have some for breakfast again tomorrow and stash the remainder in the freezer for a future meal or two.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


The window to plant those spring flowers is closing

By Mike Thayer

Spring flowersIf you're into the fantastic array of colors spring flowers provide, now is the time to get those bulbs in the ground.

According to the experts, when night time temperatures are consistently in the 40 - 50 degree mark that's the perfect time to put bulbs to "bed."  Yes, pun intended.  This temperature window is the optimum for those bulbs, allowing them to root and establish themselves.  You can actually plant right up until the ground freezes, but the success rate for those bulbs to root, establish and ultimately sprout in the spring really drops and besides, who wants to be digging in the dirt when it gets below freezing outside?

Also known as "Fall" bulbs, these spring flower beauties include favorites such as crocus, daffodils, hyacinth and tulips.  You can find them readily at Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, your favorite hardware store and at reasonable prices.  A lot of folks like to order them online or through catalogs, but that takes time and often comes with shipping costs.  I say if you're out running errands, pick up a bag or two, or three at some place local.

You can plant your favorite bulbs just about anywhere in your yard or garden where the soil drains well.  Avoid areas where water collects, because bulbs don't like to sit in "wetness."  Spring bulbs love the sun and that's why they look so great at the base of trees, that splash of spring color you see before the tree leaves start to pop out.

Follow the package instructions to plant your bulbs, but as a general rule of thumb, bigger bulbs like tulips and daffodils should be planted about 8" deep and small bulbs like crocus about 5" deep.  Loosely backfill your planting area with soil - don't pack it - and water those bulbs in to stimulate root growth.  These bulbs are low maintenance and I why I like them so much, in addition to the great colors they provide.  You shouldn't have to worry about watering them again until spring, unless you live in a very low precipitation area.

Enjoy those colors!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Must have condiments for the refrigerator

By Mike Thayer

20181103_072117-1Most everybody has at least a bottle of ketchup, a jar of jam and some sort of salad dressing in their fridge.  After all,  you need ketchup for those fries, some kind of jam for toast in the morning and ranch dressing (dressing for men) for that dinner salad.  In addition to that sparsely stocked, condiment decorated fridge, the typical bachelor also has an assortment of condiment packages from fast food restaurants tucked away somewhere. 

Don't be typical.  Having a refrigerator that's well stocked with an assortment of condiments isn't just handy for the obvious uses like mentioned above, but having a good variety of them helps you to create more layers of great flavor and impromptu dressings, sauces and marinades!

Below are some classic, trendy and much-more-versatile-than-you-thought condiment choices that make up a well stocked fridge.  I've listed the obvious use for each, plus some alternative uses that are all another dose of YUM! 

  • Jellies/jams:  Traditional use is on toast, but try a dollop of grape jelly in chili. Yes, it's a secret ingredient for many competitive chili cooks.  Grape jelly or jam is also great paired with chili sauce to make a sauce for meatballs.  Buy some ready made meatballs and put them in the crock pot with a dollop of grape jam and a generous dose of chili sauce, you'll love it!
  • KetchupYes, ketchup is THE pairing with french fries and is quite often used to top burgers.  But ketchup is also great on so many other things, a ketchup glaze on meatloaf; the base ingredient to make Sloppy Joes; a key ingredient to a good sweet and sour sauce; an add to BBQ sauce; if you don't like Sriracha flavor as is, cut it with some ketchup; then there's the classic home made Thousand Island, combining ketchup, mayo and a bit of relish....
  • MustardThe classic use is on a hot dog.  Keep a variety on hand, yellow, brown, Dijon, the brown and Dijon are nice changes of pace and it all keeps well.  Mustard is a GREAT marinade ingredient and mixed with some mayo and a little, garlic, seasoning salt or dry rub it makes a really nice impromptu aioli.
  • Mayonnaise:   It's typically used to dress a sandwich, but there's SO much you can do with mayo!  There's the aforementioned aoili; it's a base ingredient in egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, etc.; it's a base ingredient for coleslaw and salad dressings; it's better than butter for a grilled cheese!
  • Ranch DressingAsk a man what kind of dressing he wants on his salad and this is THE most popular choice.  It's a great impromptu dip for chips and veggies, it's a nice alternative on a burger and it's a super add to many recipes using ground beef like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers.  It's an excellent add to Mexican fare and it's even good in a white lasagna!
  • Italian DressingA popular ladies choice salad dressing, the only reason I have Italian dressing in my fridge is because it makes for a pretty darn good marinade when you're too lazy to create one from scratch.  It's excellent with grilled or crock pot chicken or pork.  And sure, if I'm cooking on date night, there's that for the ladie's salad.....
  • Pickles, relishA classic burger or hot dog topping, you really can't make a good tuna salad, chicken salad, or egg salad without them and even if you don't like pickles or relish, just a hint of pickle juice can go a long way to flavor so many dishes!  It's a great add to a Bloody Mary (that's a dish, right?), Mac & Cheese (yes, really!), tenderizes meat well, kicks ordinary bottled BBQ sauce up another notch.
  • BBQ sauceI prefer to make my own, but hey, sometimes you need a "quickie".  BBQ sauce is the classic glaze for ribs, a dressing for pulled pork and paired with bacon turns an ordinary burger into something special.  I've already mentioned kicking ordinary BBQ sauce up a notch by using pickle juice, bourbon is another great add.  BBQ sauce also lends itself well to oriental cuisine and leftovers like pork fried rice.  Throw in some soy, some Sriracha and you've got a great sauce!
  • Steak sauce:  It's not just for steak my friends.  While the popular brands such as A-1 or Heinz 57 are also great on a burger, this stuff is excellent in a whole bunch of foods!  It adds body to soups or stews, is awesome as a convenient marinade for any kind of meat/veggie combo kabob and fish tacos are stellar with this as an added ingredient!
  • Worcestershire sauce: Packing a savory punch Worcestershire sauce is probably one of THE most versatile condiments you can have in your fridge.  The beauty of Worcestershire is that it compliments ANY kind of meat or fish and marries well with a variety of other ingredients.  Use it as is on prepared meats, use it in the preparation of raw meats for the grill, oven or frying pan - it's a FANTASTIC marinade; It's good in soups, salads, casseroles, grilled fare.....  when you can't figure out what flavor is missing in whatever sauce, marinade or dip you just made, splash in some Worcestershire and it makes it all better!  Worcestershire is the Duct Tape of the culinary world.
  • Louisiana Hot SauceI love a few splashes on my scrambled eggs or an omelette.  Louisiana Hot Sauce is also my go-to base ingredient for hot wings.  Some hot sauce, butter and Parmesan cheese makes a great impromptu pan sauce for just about any kind of meat or fish.
  • SrirachaClassic uses are to kick oriental dishes up a notch.  But it's great on so many other things if you're looking for a little heat.  Excellent on burgers (mix it with your ketchup); it compliments sweet potato fries SO nicely; mix it with sour cream for a spicy potato chip dip; add it to just about any kind of soup for a little punch of extra flavor!
  • Soy or Teriyaki sauceIf you couldn't already tell, a quick stir fry or fried rice combining some leftovers is a go-to meal for me.  Soy and Teriyaki aren't just for oriental dishes.  Either sauce is a fantastic base in creating a marinade for any cut of beef, pork, or chicken and yes, is excellent with grilled fish as well.  Either sauce lends itself well to putting a twist on BBQ.  And yes, it can even add a new depth of flavor to a good old fashioned plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  Butter and Soy or Teriyaki, along with a little minced garlic can also make veggies sing!
  • Chili sauce When you think of shrimp cocktail, you think chili sauce.  I've already mentioned how paired up with grape jelly it makes a great sauce for meatballs, but chili sauce is quite good as a change of pace ingredient in just about any kind of stir fry.

The key thing to remember with any of these, have FUN with it!  If you're in a flavor rut for example, try some new flavor combinations on a burger or a sandwich and if you find something you like, expand on other dishes from there.  If you've never tried a particular flavor before, combine it something you know you like to create a slightly different flavor profile.  If you're like, "Hey, not bad!"  then you're on to something, use it in other dishes.  It's all about layers of flavor, right from the convenience of your fridge.  You didn't know it had so much potential, did you?

About those condiment packets from fast foot restaurants..... 

When I'm looking for a change of pace for my popcorn, I reach for the condiment packets in my fridge.  Arby's Sauce is a great add to melted butter, so is honey for a little sweet!  I recently tried BBQ sauce and it ROCKED!  Honey from Chick Fillet or KFC is also a great add to stir fry or in creating a better than ordinary glaze for BBQ.    And at the very least, if you don't have a bottle of something mentioned above, packets from a fast food restaurant is a GREAT way to sample something.  Maybe you don't like a particular ingredient so much by itself, but combined with another flavor or two, well, it might turn out to be another dose of YUM!  Grab that packet from the restaurant, it's a far cheaper way to explore some new flavors than buying a full bottle of whatever at the grocery store.

Spend Wisely My Friends.....


Kicking popcorn up another notch - BBQ Popcorn

By Mike Thayer

20181101_163628Try this the next time you make popcorn.... When melting butter, add a dash of cayenne pepper, Kosher salt, garlic powder and a squirt of your favorite BBQ sauce (one of those fast food BBQ sauce packets is a perfect portion size!) or a pinch of dry rub. It's another dose of YUM!  Just a hint now, you don't want to overpower the buttered popcorn goodness, just 'enhance it'......

And if you're looking for a GREAT popcorn popper, check this out: 

Product Review: The Salbree Popper

$pend Wisely My Friends.....