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December 2020

November 2020

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.....


Food Review: Papa John's Papadias

By Mike Thayer

Papa John's Buffalo Chicken Papadia
The Buffalo Chicken

Regular readers know that I'm not a huge fan of Papa John's pizza.  To me, it's average pizza.  But they've been teasing us all with their Papadias, the flatbread sandwiches which look delightful.  You've no doubt seen the commercials and with dinner to think about on a Monday night I decided to give these Papadia things a try.

Here's the description from the Papa John's website:  A Papa John's Papadia isn't just any flatbread sandwich. It's a hot, beautifully balanced meal that's everything you do love about a hot, flatbread-style sandwich, but taken to the next level with generous portions of all your favorite Papa John's ingredients and flavors. Think real cheese melted to perfection, juicy meats, and mountains of colorful veggies, all nestled snugly into fresh-baked flatbread made from Papa John's own signature dough. Each Papadia features its own flavor profile and comes served alongside the ideal Papa John's dipping sauce for a perfect series of bites from the first to the last.

That's a good read, but the visual on a TV commercial is damn near a mouthwatering experience and if smellivision existed, it truly would be.

Papa John's has a variety of these flatbread sandwiches on the menu to choose from:  Buffalo Chicken, Philly Cheesesteak, Grilled BBQ Chicken and Bacon, Meatball & Pepperoni, Italian and a new offering, Double Cheeseburger.  There's also an option to create your own!

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Papadia
The Double Cheeseburger

Shoving my Papa John's has average pizza experiences aside, I ordered two of the flatbread offerings for this delivery dining occasion, going with the Buffalo Chicken and the Double Cheeseburger.

The Buffalo Chicken description:  Flatbread-style sandwich made from original fresh dough and loaded with grilled chicken, onions, our signature cheese plus our 3-cheese blend, buttermilk ranch sauce, and buffalo sauce. Served with ranch dipping sauce.

The Double Cheeseburger descriptionOur meatiest Papadia ever. Flatbread-style sandwich with zesty burger sauce, 1/4 pound of seasoned beef, dill pickles, and signature cheese baked to a toasty perfection. Served with zesty burger dipping sauce.

Ordering on the Papa John's website is easy and I was able to take advantage of a promotional coupon.  These sandwiches normally cost $6 each, or $12 for two, I got them both for $9.  After delivery fee and tip, I shelled out just over $15 for my Monday night meal.  Delivery was on time as well, the Papa John's tracker they send you in the confirmation email is accurate.

I bit into the Buffalo Chicken Papadia first.  Nice!  Delivering classic Buffalo sauce flavor, the grilled chicken was tender, I got chicken and onions in each bite, the 3-cheese blend was melted to perfection and complimenting it all of course was the ranch dipping sauce.  But what puts this sandwich in the YUM category is the great foundation of that flatbread!  Papa John's has done a nice job with this, the bread is crispy on the edges, but warm and soft at the same time.  If there's a knock to be made on this particular sandwich, is that it wasn't toasted quite enough though, the flatbread on the Double Cheeseburger had a better toast to it.  Inconsistent preparation.....

20201124_085155The Double Cheeseburger Papadia was also quite good.  You get the good burger flavor you can really sink your teeth into, with that zesty sauce making it and you get the tartness from the pickles. Topped with that melted cheese and combined with that flatbread, it's quite tasty!  I ate a half of each Papadia for dinner, saving the remaining halves for a leftover lunch.  Of the two, I'm giving the flavors of the Buffalo Chicken the preferred nod, even though the flatbread on the Double Cheeseburger was toasted better. 

I'm giving both of these Papa John's Papadias 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, they are repeat buys and very tasty cheap eats!  I'm looking forward to trying the other Papadia options!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


This bacon and Parmesan popcorn is football ready

By Mike Thayer

Salbree popcorn popperTailgate food, football party at the house snacking, or party for two, boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife because of frick'n COVID and hesitate to invite anybody over for eats & football fun.....  This COVID thing SUCKS!  'jus say'n....

Gourmet popcorn fits the bill!

If you're sitting down to watch your favorite team, or ANY football game for that matter (yours truly, it doesn't matter who is on the tube, I'm probably watching it!), here's an easy peasy to prepare popcorn recipe for you to try.

Bacon and Parmesan Popcorn
Popcorn, bacon, Parmesan, what's NOT to like!

Ingredients:

  • One cup of un-popped popcorn (I like to use the Salbree popper, it's made for the microwave and does a fantastic job!)
  • Two tabs of unsalted butter
  • A couple dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce or Sriracha
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bacon
  • A pinch of Kosher salt
  • Generous shake of Parmesan cheese

Directions:

While the popcorn is popping, melt the butter, adding the salt and hot sauce.  Stir continuously until incorporated.  Pour popped popcorn into a large bowl and top immediately with the melted butter mixture and Parmesan cheese, stir or shake the bowl to incorporate.  Top the popcorn with the bacon bits and serve.

Enjoy for the game, enjoy for movie night, enjoy for whatever!  This recipe kicks popcorn up a notch!


Food Review: Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap

By Mike Thayer

Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap

Out and about running some errands on a recent day off, I was in need of some breakfast and noticed a Taco Bell conveniently nearby.  I'd seen the Breakfast Crunchwrap commercials so here was an opportunity to give one a try.

Here's the marketing description from the Taco Bell website:  Ever since breakfast has existed, it’s existed in the form of a circle sandwich. We know this, you know this, and everyone knows this. It’s a little played out if we’re being honest. And breakfast has basically existed since someone decided to eat food in the morning, which makes the standard circle breakfast sandwich undeniably outdated. We mean, really outdated. Just think how far back that dates? People have been eating food in the mornings forever. Therefore, breakfast has been around forever. Since the standard circle breakfast has been around for a while, we here at Taco Bell thought we would mix it up and bring some excitement back to breakfast. This is why we now have the Breakfast Crunchwrap®. Eggs, your choice of bacon or sausage, real cheddar cheese, creamy jalapeño sauce and a full hash brown in a very hexagonal, handheld breakfast. It’s the motorcycle to the penny-farthing. The Internet to the carrier pigeon. The lantern to the lamp. The mobile phone to the payphone. A payphone, you ask? See, you don’t even remember those things because it’s been so long ago. Our point was just proven. The circle breakfast sandwich is as outdated as a payphone. It’s all about the Crunchwrap. And one step further, it’s all about the Breakfast Crunchwrap®.

Humorous, but does the Breakfast Crunchwrap live up to the Taco Bell hype?

Sausage Crunchwrap
A generous breakfast portion and clean eats!

Yes, and then some!

I went with the Sausage Crunchwrap.  As you can see from the pics, the tortilla was toasted well and it was loaded with breakfast goodness with a slight exception to the portion of sausage.  All ingredients were seasoned well and on point and the full hash brown was indeed crunchy, complemented by the toasting of the 'hexagonal' wrap.  This is no small offering either, it's a generous helping of eggs, cheese, sauce, hashbrowns (the sausage not so much) and here's a plus I didn't see coming, it's a pretty clean eat as well!  You know how sometimes you end up wearing a little bit of what you're eating when driving?  That didn't happen with the Crunchwrap, that toasted hexagonal shaped tortilla holds everything neatly in place.

Costing me just over $3, I'm giving the Taco Bell Sausage Crunchwrap 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a convenient breakfast eat, a clean eat while driving and most importantly, a very tasty Breakfast eat!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Food Review: Hungry-Man Country Fried Chicken

By Mike Thayer

Hungry-Man Country Fried Chicken
Looks appealing right?

It's been a LONG time since I've had one of these....

I usually like to cook for myself, grill something, put meat on the smoker, cook in batches and stash extra meals that I've prepared in the freezer.  But I haven't done much of that lately and have found myself buying frozen, convenience meals from my local grocer.

Enter the Hungry Man Country Fried Chicken meal....

Here's the description from the Hungry-Man website:  Breaded white meat chicken patties with home-style gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans—includes an apple dessert.

Out of the selections available to me at the time of purchase, this is the one that hit me as 'most appealing.'

Was it worth the $3 I paid for it?

Hungry-Man meal prepared as directed
Only the green beans look as pictured on the packaging

Prepared as directed on the packaging, the meal doesn't look like as pictured on the box, that's not a surprise, but it's NOT even close!  C'mon Hungry-Man!  A little truth in advertising here....  But then again, if they didn't dress the photo up and used the real deal look instead, they'd sell far fewer meals....

It ain't purdy, check out the mashed potatoes that spewed outside of their space and got dry, also making it a little more difficult to mix with the gravy.  The half portion of apple dessert generated a verbal reaction of, "really?" and that's not chicken with gravy, that's chicken sitting in a bath, making for soggy, fall apart breading on two-thirds of those meat patties. 

In eating the meal I was reminded of why I haven't been motivated to buy one in so long....  These meals are still so very so-so.  The chicken was OK and the portion is actually very generous.  The gravy is good, I thought it might be too salty but it wasn't.  The potatoes as I mentioned were a bit dry and boring, the green beans were bland - black pepper and some butter were needed and that apple dessert was, 'eh'.  I'm giving the Hungry-Man Country Fried Chicken meal just 2 out of 5 stars.  Sure it's a quick and easy meal to prepare, filling too, that's a lot of chicken for $3, but the dinner as a whole is not truly satisfying in a YUM kind of way.  This is NOT a repeat buy for me, it's convenient and inexpensive, but it's a sacrifice on taste.  

2 stars

Better frozen/convenience food alternatives: 

Marie Callender's pot pies

Pierre Signatures Angus Cheeseburger

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Drink Review: Bird Dog Black Cherry Flavored Whiskey

By Mike Thayer

Blended and flavored whiskeys are red hot right now, consumer demand for brown spirits continues to rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or a flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Bird Dog Chocolate Flavored Whiskey, an awesome flavor pairing!

20201118_112154Today I'm reviewing another new flavor offering from Bird Dog, a Black Cherry flavored whiskey.

The description from the Bird Dog website: 

Earning top honors from multiple spirit awards, our Bird Dog Black Cherry is the ultimate “cherry on top”. Rich, deep notes of dark fruitiness are enhanced by the signature honey and oak finish of our Kentucky bourbon. Sip it on its own, or mixed up in one of our signature Black Cherry Kentucky Mules.

Potency
80 PROOF / 40% Alc/Vol

Color
Golden-Reddish Amber

Nose
Delightful, dark fruit

Body
Traditional caramel and vanilla notes combine with subtle cherry flavor

Finish
A warm, smooth finish, nicely lingers

Bird Dog flavored whiskeys all hit the 80 proof mark, whereas most other flavored whiskeys which usually come at 70 proof.  What I like about what Bird Dog does with that extra alcohol is that the whiskey doesn't come off as being too sweet with the flavoring, nor is it 'whiskey harsh.' In other words it's balanced rather than being too black cherry forward.  This is an award winning whiskey/flavor pairing and the black cherry notes definitely do come through but it does come off as just a bit medicinal for me, as in a cough drop flavor...  What carries it are the caramel and vanilla notes and the warm, whiskey finish. I also tried this whiskey with the Bird Dog Peanut Butter Flavored Whiskey for a PB&J chilled shot which was pretty darn tasty, as well as pairing the black cherry with the Bird Dog Chocolate for a Chocolate Covered Cherry chilled shot, which was even better!

Priced at about $18 for a 750ml bottle, I'm giving Bird Dog Black Cherry Flavored Whiskey 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  For me, it's better used in mixology than it is a stand alone shot or on the rocks drink. 

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....