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October 2020

A burger so flavorful, you don't need a bun

By Mike Thayer

A bun doesn't make or break a great burger, the meat does.

Here's a recipe that makes for a great burger, a patty so full of flavor, not only is the bun not required, neither is lettuce, tomato or other toppings.....

Sweet Heat Burgers

Ingredients:

  • One pound of Sweet Italian sausage
  • One pound of 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Buffalo Wing cheddar cheese

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  If you can't find shredded Buffalo Wing cheddar cheese at your favorite grocery store, regular sharp shredded cheddar and some Louisiana Hot Sauce is a nice substitute.  Form meat mixture into patties.  When your grill is ready to receive, place the patties over the hot spot to get those great grill marks and a good sear. Keep the lid off and watch for any flare ups. When you see red juices flowing to the top of the patties, flip those burgers over to the lower heat side of the grill and get ready to put the lid on. Before ‘lidding‘, place some butter and garlic in a grill safe dish to melt down on the low heat side of the grill next to those great smelling burgers. Check after about five minutes. The garlic butter should be melted and the burgers should be about ready. For well done burgers, wait to see the juices run clear.  Top burgers with the garlic butter just before plating.

It's another dose of YUM!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Buying in bulk is wallet friendly

By Mike Thayer

I've heard friends and co-workers over the years throw out a number of claims on why they don't buy in bulk to save money:

  • You really don't save much money doing that, it's not worth it
  • You have to buy so much stuff to get the savings
  • I can't afford the membership to places like Sam's Club or Costco
  • I don't have the freezer/fridge/cupboard space
  • I'm too busy, I don't have the time to repackage/re-wrap stuff for storage
  • I'll never eat a 5 pound bag of cheese

That's all horse manure.

Portioning out a 5 pound bag of mozzarellaIf you have time to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory, you have time to break down some meat, cheese and vegetables for the freezer and you'll be glad you did because you'll save a surprising amount of money.  And a side benefit, your food gets portioned out they way you like it.  That saves time in dinner preparation and your freezer will be more organized, easier to pull items from. 

Tonight I spent some time stocking up my freezer with pork chops and a couple roasts by breaking down a 10 pound boneless pork loin, portioning out shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese, as well as a brick of sliced American cheese.  I'm doing this as I watched, you guessed it, Big Bang Theory.

Buy some food in bulk at a wholesale club, portion cheese out for example in smaller bags and stash them in the freezer until needed. It's WAY cheaper than paying $3 each or more for those 12 - 16 ounce bags at a standard grocery store or Walmart.

I portioned out a 5 pound Kirkland brand (Costco) shredded mozzarella bag into 6 smaller bags. Price per pound - $2.37. *Weigh* that (yes, pun intended) vs. the typical everyday price for a 12 - 16 ounce bag at the standard grocery store.... $3 and up.  By breaking down a bulk bag, I saved approximately $3.15 vs buying 5 separate 12 - 16 ounce bags.... In Cheech & Chong terms, that's like a free bag of cheese man!

Portioning out shredded cheddarI did the same thing with Kirkland Brand shredded mild cheddar, a twin pack of cheese, 2.5 pounds each.  I won't eat 2.5 pounds of cheddar cheese in a week, heck even two, and keeping that amount of cheese in its original bag runs the risk of spoilage before it's all eaten.  Hello freezer!  Bachelor on the cheap savings by shopping in bulk at Costco: $2.57 per pound for shredded cheddar vs. $3 and up for 12 - 16 ounce bags at your standard grocery store or Walmart.

The brick of sliced American cheese I bought contains 120 slices.  At $10, that's just over 8 cents a slice and this is deli quality sliced American cheese, not that processed, plastic wrapped singles stuff.  I portioned the brick out into 9 smaller 'bricks', wrapped them in heavy duty foil and put them in the freezer.  The same amount of deli quality cheese like in say, Kraft's Deli Deluxe American Cheese Slices will cost you about $18.

Giving you even more savings is becoming your own butcher and it's not hard to do at all!  My savings today by cutting up my own chops and pork roasts was getting all that meat for $1.89 per pound, vs. $2.49 a pound at a place like the local grocery store.    Buying in bulk - under $19.  Buying the same amount of meat at the local grocery store - $25.  

So to sum, I saved about $3 on portioning out mozzarella cheese, another $3 or so portioning out some cheddar, about $8 with the American cheese and saved about $6 being my own butcher....  All while enjoying an episode of the Big Bang Theory!   Now I've got $20 I can use for gas, or maybe a bottle of wine to share with a date on date night.

Being your own butcher

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

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Wine Review: Broadmoore Estates Red Trails from WineShop at Home

By Mike Thayer

This is another excellent red blend from WineShop at Home and a new offering in the Broadmoore Estates brand.

From the website:

This new 79% Ruby Cabernet, 11% Ruby Red and 10% Syrah blend of Broadmoore Estates Red Trails is very fruit-forward.

This sweet red wine displays blueberry, blackberry, strawberry and raspberry aromas, as well as light notes of pepper and toasted oak toward the end. The star of the show is the sweetness, which bursts out of the glass and onto the palate. The attack, the mid-palate and the finish are rich with fruity characters. Hiding behind this wine’s sweetness is a fair amount of fruit tannin for structure.

Serve chilled, suggested pairings are pizza, savory pastries, tacos, spicy pasta, smoked gouda and pepper jack cheeses.

The Broadmoore Estates Red Trails is an EXCELLENT red and it's available exclusively at WineShop at Home!  Contact Lori and get some great wines today!


Food Review: Banquet brand Salisbury Steak Meal

By Mike Thayer

20201007_133919I've been on the go quite a bit lately, with little time to cook for myself and/or admittedly, not in the mood to do so....

Enter convenience meals and snacks.

I picked up a couple of Salisbury Steak meals from Banquet at Dollar Tree for $1 each.

Why not?  Sure, Banquet is an "eh" brand (bland food), but you know what you're getting and it's not going to empty the wallet.

It's quick, easy peasy to nuke and after adding some Cookies Flavor Enhancer, my favorite all purpose seasoning, the meal isn't bad.

It's not a generous portion, but it's not skimpy either, weighing in at 8 ounces for the meat and mac & cheese.  At $1, it's a repeat buy.

I'm giving Banquet's Salibury Steak meal 3 out of 5 stars.  It's adequate, but needs doctoring to enhance the flavor, but in having one for lunch it's going to hold me until dinner.

3 stars

20201008_135652

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Papa Murphy's on East Central crafts a fine pizza

By Mike Thayer

Out running errands one evening last week and not feeling like cooking dinner, I stopped at a Papa Murhpy's to pick up my favorite from the joint, a Cowboy Pizza.  I've never been to this particular Papa Murphy's location and I wasn't disappointed.  I didn't pre-order, I just walked in, placed my order and walked out with my pizza in about five minutes.  The place was steady busy with other customer coming in and picking up orders.  The staff was polite and on top of things in cranking out the pies.  Nicely done Papa Murphy's on Central!  They get 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars!

5 stars

I wrote the following back in 2018 and it still rings true today - Papa Murphy's is better than Pizza Hut! 

By Mike Thayer

I'm one of those people that if you ask, "What is your favorite food?"  I'm going to respond "PIZZA!" without hesitation (Burgers are #2 and anything grilled or BBQ'd #3).  But I have a dilemma, I'm not a fan of Pizza Hut (they have become so inconsistent with delivery AND product), Domino's sucks and Papa John's is so-so. I'm in need of a pizza joint that can provide consistently great pizza and I haven't found that place in Wichita yet.  I really like Gambino's, but they're a bit pricey unless you are able to take advantage of the limited coupons they offer.  

The other day while out-and-about running some errands during the lunch hour, I decided to stop at a Papa Murphy's.

Papa Murphy's Cowboy Pizza Thin CrustBoy am I glad I did!  It's been a long time since I've picked up a pizza at Papa Murphy's.  It's not that I had a bad experience with them back in the day, just chalk up the long time between visits to getting too comfortable with delivery pizza.  Shame on me!

Let me bullet point why Papa Murphy's rocks, why they are better than Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's (YUCK) and yes, even Gambino's:

  • Generous with ingredients, especially the cheese!
  • Made to order, right in front of you when walking in.
  • Fast service, friendly staff
  • I can stop in a Papa Murphy's, order; take that pizza home; pop it in the oven; bake it; pull it out of the oven and slice it; before Pizza Hut finally shows up with a delivery.
  • No tip necessary!
  • Save money over what you would pay for a pie at one of the main delivery joints
  • Delicious!

I ordered a large 'Cowboy', thin crust.  I LOVE thin crust pizza!  For those of you not already in the know, the Cowboy is:  Red Sauce, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, Olives, Herb & Cheese Blend.  It's DELICIOUS! 

While the pizza was baking and filling my apartment with some FANTASTIC aromas, I had time to melt some garlic butter infused with Parmesan to brush on the crust.....  Talk about another dose of YUM!

The Papa Murphy's pie cost me $15.11 after tax.  That same large pie, with all those ingredients and a delivery tip would have cost me at least $20 coming from the delivery joints.  Did I mention how DELICIOUS Papa Murphy's pizza is?

Papa Murphy's is Bachelor on the Cheap friendly and gets 5 out of 5 stars, without question a repeat buy.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Food Review: Papa Luigi Homestyle Meatballs

By Mike Thayer

20201006_071801When money is tight or you're just looking for something for the sheer convenience of it, grab a bag of Papa Luigi Homestyle Meatballs from the Dollar Tree for $1.

They're not WOW good, but they're decent, especially when coupled with some marinara or a BBQ sauce for dipping.  I've had them in a classic spaghetti and meatballs dish as well, not bad.

You get a generous portion, 7 ounces of meat for $1.  You really can't beat that.  I've oven baked them, warmed them up in a saute' pan, threw them in the crock pot with a little olive oil - easy in all preparations.  It's so convenient to have a bag on hand that you can just pull from the freezer and put an easy-peasy meal together with.

I'm giving Papa Luigi Homestyle Meatballs 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, they're not the best frozen meatball out there, but for $1, you can't go wrong.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Family Ranch California Heritage is an excellent off-dry to sweet white wine from WineShop at Home

Family Ranch Heritage is the product of a winemaker’s favorite activity: blending. This off-dry to sweet white wine showcases a pale yellow blend of 40% Colombard, 35% Chenin Blanc and 25% Muscat Canelli in the glass.

Beginning with lime and lemon aromas, grassy notes then emerge. Pear, honey and apple characteristics are present in the finish. The aromatics and citrus notes extend to the front palate and behind its light sweetness, this wine is refreshing and crisp on the mid-palate.

Chilled, this light to medium-bodied wine will pair well with egg bites, pasta with seafood or light desserts.

The Family Ranch California Heritage is an EXCELLENT white and it's available exclusively at WineShop at Home!


Mike's Grilled Skirt Steak

By Mike Thayer

Have you seen the price of beef these days? If you're craving a good steak and don't want to shell out the big bucks for a T-bone, try a skirt steak. It's a much cheaper cut of meat but packs a lot of flavor. It is a tougher cut of meat, so it needs a good marinade.

Here's a fantastic marinate for about two pounds of skirt steak:

Marinade ingredients

  • Half cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • The juice from half a lime
  • Tablespoon of dried, minced onion
  • teaspoon of garlic powder
  • One packet of artificial sweetener
  • Couple dashes of cardamom

Directions
Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or big measuring cup, set aside. Cut your skirt steak 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, four hours is much better, overnight is best. Skirt steak is great for the grill, remember to take the steaks out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to placing over the coals. You’re doing this to inspect the meat, make sure it‘s well covered in the marinade. It’s not about letting the meat 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 meat won’t come up to room temperature in just 30 minutes, not even close. OK, back to the skirt steaks…..

Putting the steaks over medium high heat, let them sizzle for about five minutes, do NOT cover. This is a thin cut of steak so keep an eye on it and any possible flare ups. Flip after five minutes to a cooler spot on the grill and now you can put a lid on it, for about another five minutes (this is for a medium rare). Remove from the grill and let them rest.

Fun Fact:  Grilling and a keto friendly, low-carb diet go hand-in-hand. 

A six ounce skirt steak as prepared provides about 45 grams of protein and just 5 grams in carbs.  What's NOT to like, this recipe is delicious, wallet friendly and diet friendly, it's a Bachelor on the Cheap win any way you look at it!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....