Food and Drink Feed

Food Review: Taco Bell's Rolled Chicken Tacos

Taco Bell Rolled Chicken TacosBy Mike Thayer

Taco Bell has brought back their Rolled Chicken Tacos, available in 2-packs for $1.99 and 4-packs for $3.99 and a choice of dipping sauces:  Spicy Ranch, Nacho Cheese and Guacamole.  These things are basically all white meat shredded chicken taquitos and I'm not a fan of corn tortilla shells, but they work well in this deep fried preparation. 

Crunchy on the outside - a VERY good crunch in fact - and tender on the inside, the chicken is seasoned nicely and the dipping sauces are the perfect compliment.  Taquitos are MADE for dipping.  I went with the guacamole in both the little dipping cups Taco Bell gives you in the 4-pack, it was quite tasty and the portion was perfect.

These things are a great snack, the price is right and I'm giving Taco Bell's Rolled Chicken Tacos 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They are definitely worth a repeat buy!  I look forward to trying the Spicy Ranch.

5 stars

Taco Bell Rolled Chicken Taco Bite




Tortilla chip battle: Discount brand vs. store brand vs. Name brand

Tortilla restaurant styleBy Mike Thayer

Tortilla chips, the foundation of so many fantastic snack and appetizer creations, 'chips & salsa', nachos, 'chips & guacamole', 'chips & bean dip'....  they're also good used as a crunchy topping for just about any Tex/Mex casserole dish.  Having a good chip puts all those great foods in tasty motion. 

Then there's all the styles of tortilla chips, the traditional triangle shape, round, 'restaurant' style, 'Cantina' style, 'Cafe' style, scoops and strips.  For the most part that's all just marketing, they're all still just plain 'ol corn tortilla chips, the only real differences being shapes and varying degrees of thickness. 

What matters is having a chip that holds up to dipping/topping, has the right balance of salt and provides a good crunch.

But do you need a name brand chip to do that?  And does a name brand even guarantee the highest chip quality?  I say no, never mind the extra expense.

In a bit of an impromptu tortilla chip battle, I purchased one bag each of a discount brand, a grocery store brand and a name brand chip.  Here are the results:

Discount brand: Clancy's "Restaurant Style" Tortilla Chips

Tortilla Clancy'sOK, these are standard, triangle shaped tortilla chips, the only thing that makes these "Restaurant Style" is that the triangle shape is the most popular, a.k.a., standard shape of tortilla chips out there, be it at a restaurant or in a bag.  I got this 13 ounce bag at Aldi for $0.89.  It doesn't get much cheaper than that, translating to just 6.8 cents per ounce.  And these chips are just as good as any other.  They're good out of the bag, fine for dipping or topping and chip breakage is no more or less than any other bagged chip. 

Store brand: Kroger Tortilla Rounds

Kroger Tortilla RoundsI wonder if anybody really cares what shape a tortilla chip comes in, they all dip, top and eat pretty much the same....  jus say'n.  I purchased this bag of 10 ounce chips for $1.99, or 19 cents per ounce.  That's still a reasonable price, but a significant jump up from the discount brand.  Like the Clancy's, the Kroger brand eats fine out of the bag and dips/tops just as well.  The only nuance here besides the shape is these are 100% yellow corn, so if you're into that - white corn vs. yellow corn vs. blue corn - by all means help yourself.  To me, the type of corn and shape of the chip is insignificant unless you're overly concerned with presentation.

Tostitos
Don't pay too much...

Name brand:  Tostitos Original

I picked up a 13 ounce bag of the name brand classic for $2.98.  That breaks down to 23 cents per ounce, making this the most expensive chips of the battle - no surprise there.  Did it taste better?  No.  Was it better with dip?  Nope.  Was it better topped with other goodies?  Uh-uh.  Did these chips break off any more or less when dipping than the other chips tested?  No difference.  How about the chip breakage at the bottom of the bag?  The same as any other.

Don't pay too much for tortilla chips!  In this tortilla chip battle, all chips performed pretty much the same in every way consumed, out of the bag, dipped and topped.  Clancy's comes out on top, the least expensive, an equal chip to any other.

Smoked chicken & salsa nachos
Smoked chicken & salsa nachos

Side note:  While regular tortilla chips are all pretty much the same, flavored tortilla chips on the other hand are a different story.  There is no better chip than Nacho Cheese Doritos in my humble opinion and any knock off version of that great chip just comes up short.  Nobody else can get that Nacho Cheese flavor right.  What about all those other flavored tortilla chips, how do they stack up?  Stay tuned....

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Food Review: Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps vs. Clancy's Pretzel Slims

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps
Don't buy this.....

By Mike Thayer

I love these things!  Snack Factory, the originator of pretzel crisps created its flagship product back in 2004.  The flat pretzels are tasty by themselves, great for dipping and hold up like crackers with toppings!  

Eat them right out of the bag, dunk them in some Ranch dressing or French Onion dip, or enjoy them topped with meats, cheeses and/or veggies.

A 7.2 ounce bag of Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps will cost you around $2.99 at mainstream grocery stores like HyVee, Meijer or Kroger.  That's not a bad price, but why do that when you can get essentially the same snack and snack volume for $1 cheaper?

Enter Clancy's Pretzel Slims...

Clancy's Pretzel Slims
Buy this instead!

They cost just $1.99 at Aldi for the same amount of pretzels.  Sure it's a knock off, but they taste just as good, dip just as well, top every bit as nicely as the Snack Factory original.  I can't tell the difference in taste in a side-by-side taste comparison and the breakage in the bag is about the same.

For $1 less and no sacrifice in taste or quality, I'm buying the Clancy's version! 

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Clancy's Pretzel Slims sample


Drink Review: Skrewball Peanut Butter 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 Yukon Jack Jacapple.

After today's tasting, that may have changed....

Skrewball Peanut Butter WhiskeyEnter, Skrewball Peanut Butter Flavored Whiskey.

I think this was perhaps the best chilled shot in a flavored whiskey I've ever had....

Good whiskey and peanut butter of all things, is an OUTSTANDING pairing!  As the whiskey maker's website boasts, "Little did you know, these two blend together quite phenomenally."

That is absolutely, 100% correct!

My neighborhood liquor store has been offering this in the sample size to see if it's popular enough to put on the shelves, and it's been selling like hotcakes!  TIP:  Taking advantage of those sample size offerings is a fantastic way to find out if you like a particular liquor enough to buy a full size bottle.  Samples typically cost between $1 and $3.  If you find you don't like something in the sample size, there's no full size bottle buyer's remorse.

Skrewball is a bit on the sweet side, I liked it on the rocks as well, but it is best as a chilled shot.  It's also quite good in making some unique drink combinations.  Mixed with some cranberry juice, you get that peanut butter and jelly feel.  Mix a half shot of Creme de Cacao and a half shot of Skrewball together and you get a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup kind of thing going on.  Here's a few other ideas:

Suggested Drink Recipes:

Peanut Butter & Jelly Old Fashioned

1.5 oz. Skrewball Whiskey
.75 oz. Rye Whiskey
4 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 Maraschino Cherry and a splash of juice

Combine all these familiar ingredients over ice in a cocktail glass. Stir and allow these old friends to mingle until chilled. Garnish with a cherry and an orange peel.

A Peanut Butter White Russian

1.5 oz. Skrewball Whiskey
.5 oz.Vodka
.5 oz. Coffee liqueur
1 oz. Cream of coconut
1 oz. Heavy cream

Allow all ingredients to collude in a mixing glass with ice. Shake. Pour into cocktail glass. Garnish with cinnamon and sugar (optional).

Priced at about $25 for a 750ml bottle, it costs a little more than your average flavored whiskey, but it's WELL worth it.  I'm giving Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Peanut Butter and Whiskey, what a fantastic pairing!

5 stars

 

 


Food Review: Kirkwood Turkey Breast

By Mike Thayer

Kirkwood Turkey BreastWhen you don't want or need to cook up a big bird or perhaps you prefer to carve bone-free meat, buying a boneless turkey breast has many advantages.

Plenty of bird for two people plus leftovers, I picked up a 3 pound Kirkwood turkey breast at Aldi for $8.99.   Found in the frozen section, the turkey comes with a gravy packet and is wrapped in a butcher's twine net.  The net holds the breast tightly together, which helps keep the breast moist during cooking.  There's advantage number one, you don't have to net it yourself.

Advantage number two, because it's only three pounds and it's boneless, there's far less thawing time.  A big 15-20 pound bird can take days to thaw in the refrigerator - 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of bird - and think of all that space being taken up waiting for that big turkey to thaw out!

I brined my turkey, guaranteeing a moist bird no matter the cooking method, be it a traditional oven roast, grilling, smoking or frying.  For my brine recipe, click here and review the poultry page.  There's another advantage, you don't need a huge container to brine a turkey breast.  Not everybody has that kind of refrigerator space, let alone a second refrigerator to brine.  You could do a cooler set up, but that can be a hassle.

After brining for 24 hours, dabbing the turkey breast dry and applying a dry rub it was ready to go in the oven.  Only 90 minutes is needed at 350 degrees, skin side down in a cast iron skillet.  I basted the bird with a combination of garlic, butter, a squeeze of lime juice and a hint of cayenne pepper.

Turkey BreastLetting it rest for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven, the bird carved up super easy and boy was this bird moist and delicious!  And using the cast iron skillet crisped up the skin perfectly.  Yes, sneaking bites of turkey while carving was a MUST!

A bit before that bird came out of the oven, I started to prepare the gravy that came in a packet with the bird.  The packet recommends using pan drippings in the preparation and that is a MUST do, as the gravy was a bit unremarkable on it's own.  Along with some of those pan drippings, additional adds of garlic, black pepper and another pinch of the cayenne pepper made the gravy pretty decent.  It was a bit meager in portion however, barely enough for two people, nothing leftover.

Very reasonably priced, the Kirkwood boneless turkey breast is easy peasy to prep, roast, carve and enjoy!  It's definitely a repeat buy  and I give it 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

4 stars


What to do with leftover turkey

By Mike Thayer

Turkey BreastSo you've got a bunch of turkey leftover from the Thanksgiving dinner you made, or turkey you were given to take home....  You can't just keep slicing a big thick slice of it off and eating it as is.....  Well, you can, but there's no variety in that.

What else can you do with it?

Lots.

There's the obvious, make a sandwich.  Some turkey, Muenster cheese, a little mustard between a couple slices of bread or in a bun....  It's another dose of YUM!

You could grab a box of scalloped potatoes from your pantry, make the potatoes per the box instructions, chunk up some of that turkey, throw that in before popping those taters in the oven and boom!  Dinner.  To add a little kick, finely dice up some jalapeno pepper to include in the mix.  TASTY!

You could do a similar thing by grabbing that box of mac & cheese from the pantry and in about 10 minutes, you'll have another lunch or dinner.  With noodles in mind you could also simply grab a jar of Alfredo sauce, boil up some noodles for an impromptu Turkey Alfredo.  Heck, add some chopped turkey to a package of chicken flavored Ramen for a quick meal.

Dice some turkey up and put it in the fridge for later use.  You can quickly grab that diced turkey for a number of dishes.....  Diced turkey on a salad;  turkey fried rice; turkey & assorted veggies along with some broth in the crock pot for a nice soup; Grab some tortillas to make turkey & cheese quesadillas; open up a tube of crescent rolls and bake them up with turkey. cream cheese and green onion.

There's all kinds of things you can do with leftover turkey, have fun with it!

Here's one of my favorite recipes for leftover turkey, Scalloped Turkey!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked turkey meat, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 box of turkey or chicken flavored stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 small can of mushrooms (4 ounces), drained
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, lower the temperature while constantly stirring until the mixture is bubbly and golden.  Gradually whisk in 2 cups of the chicken broth and the cup of heavy cream, continuing to whisk, simmering for about 4 minutes.  Add the turkey meat and set the sauce aside.  In a saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion, celery and mushrooms in the olive oil, stirring for a couple minutes until the onions and celery starts to caramelize.  Add the garlic powder, the seasoning mix for the stuffing, the bread cubes and the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth.  Stir to incorporate.  Pan spray a large casserole dish, pour in the bread/veggie mixture, then pour in the turkey sauce.  Top with the grated Parmesan, cover and bake for about 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes until the Parmesan is golden, brown and delicious.  Enjoy!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Krispy's Fried Chicken & Seafood - Perhaps the best fried chicken eats in Wichita

By Mike Thayer

Krispy's Fried Chicken & SeafoodIf you think KFC has the best fried chicken, think again. 

And why waste your time and money at a chain restaurant when you can buy local, spend less and get MUCH better food!

Enter Krispy's Fried Chicken & Seafood....

This place ROCKS!

Krispy's Fried Chicken & Seafood offers fried chicken, chicken & waffles, PoBoy sandwiches, catfish, fried pork chops and more.

For lunch today, I ordered one of their mixed platter offerings, 6 butterfly shrimp, 3 chicken tenders, fries, salad and a roll, for just $10.

DEAL!

Just look at all that food.  What a HUGE portion!

And it was all delicious, every morsel.  It was all perfectly cooked (well OK, no, not the salad....  lol), seasoned well and did I mention the huge portions?  The chicken was OH-so-Krispy (see what I did there, with the "K"?.....) on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside.  The butterfly shrimp was nicely breaded - on the lighter side - which I appreciate so you can truly enjoy the flavor of that shrimp.  And Krispy's can crank out some fries, these are darn good, Krispy on the outside with a battered-like texture and fluffy potato goodness on the inside.  It was all another dose of YUM!   The only knock I have on the place is that it's too busy!  During the lunch rush window (11am - 1pm), the parking lot was totally full of cars by about 11:20am.  What a problem to have right?  A problem for hungry patrons maybe, but not the restaurant.  A full parking lot is pretty telling about just how good their food really is.

KFC who?

I'm giving Krispy's Fried Chicken & Seafood 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They crank out some great food, full of flavor, big portions and very wallet friendly prices!  I'm gladly a repeat customer!

Open 11am to 8pm Monday - Saturday, Krispy's is located at:  3009 S Hillside St, Wichita, KS 67216

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Food Review: Spangles Sourdough Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

By Mike Thayer

Spangles Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich and friesIntrigued by the use of Sourdough bread, I've been wanting to try this sandwich offering from Spangles, I love Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and I wanted to see how the Spangle's version stacks up to the classic and iconic East Coast sandwich.

There is no description of the Philly on the Spangles website, which is a HUGE missed opportunity by the Kansas based restaurant.  Why on earth Spangles does not promo their product on their own website, only Spangles management knows....  Taking the time to describe a menu in delicious detail pays HUGE dividends on Google, which drives 70% of online search business.  Type in "cheeseburger" for example on a Google search and McDonald's pops up in the top spot.  Why?  Because they've taken the time to describe their burgers, far beyond just a picture and a price.  Type in "chicken sandwich" and you get McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A in the top spots.  Descriptions matter.  Spangles, are you paying attention?

So in describing the sandwich because Spangles doesn't care to, their Philly Cheese Steak sandwich is made with a generous portion of perfectly seasoned steak, sauteed with fresh green pepper and red onion, it's a marriage of flavors complimented with not just one but TWO slices of melted Swiss cheese and all that goodness is served on grilled sourdough bread that is golden, brown and delicious.....

Spangles Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich cut viewThere you go Spangles, THAT is how you promo your own menu items, and rise up in the Google search rankings.....  'jus say'n.

I got the Value Pak on this Spangles visit and the sandwich really is as good as described above.  Every bite was delicious, nicely seasoned, balanced in all those flavors, with the Swiss cheese putting it all over the top and that Sourdough bread a fantastic spin on the classic East Coast Philly hoagie roll, with the crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside slices of Sourdough delivering BIG TIME on grilled and buttery notes of bread.... It was YUM in every bite!

My medium sandwich, fries and drink cost me $8.48, which is reasonably priced.  The Spangles Sour Dough Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, packed with tender steak is worthy of a repeat buy and I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

4 stars

The Spangles visited on this occasion is located at:

1240 S. Rock Road, Wichita, KS. 67207.

I did the drive-thru at the dinner hour, with a few cars ahead of me the process was efficient, from time to order to paying and receiving taking maybe 5 minutes.  Service was professional, courteous and done with a smile.


Food Review: Finlandia Muenster Cheese

By Mike Thayer

Finlandia Muenster CheeseI've always got a variety of cheeses in my fridge, be it American, cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, etc. 

Cheese makes a great snack, a slice of cheese and some lunchmeat all dressed in a bit of mustard for example is very satisfying and holds off the hunger until dinner time.

If you're not familiar with Muenster cheese, you should be. It's SO versatile, it's good cold and it melts beautifully!  It's fantastic on a cold sandwich, awesome on a burger and it cubes up real nice for a cheese tray.  

Finlandia’s Muenster Cheese is deliciously creamy and buttery and it's my preferred brand to pick up. 

Here's a great combination of flavors, ham, Dijon mustard and Muenster!  It's excellent as a cold sandwich, even better as a grilled cheese!

Kroger Salami & Finlandia Muenster CheeseMuenster is also excellent in a Mac & Cheese preparation.  I usually do three cheeses, American, mild cheddar and the Muenster.  It's another dose of YUM!

Costing me $7.99 at Costco for a two pound package, I'm giving Finlandia Muenster Cheese 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  That's a VERY wallet friendly price and a lot of cheese!  It's always a repeat buy for restocking my fridge.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Food Review: Kroger brand Hard Salami

By Mike Thayer

Kroger Hard SalamiI've always got some kind of lunch meat on hand in my fridge, be it oven roasted turkey, black forest ham or classic deli style roast beef.

Lunch meat is a go-to snack for me, such as three slices of some turkey meat, a slice of cheddar cheese all dressed in a bit of mustard for example.  Then there are always those times when you don't feel like or have time to cook, so it's easy to craft an impromptu sandwich with a stash of cold cuts at the ready.

So shopping one day at my local grocer and in the lunch meat section, I was looking for a little change-of-pace, not wanting the regular menu of turkey, ham or roast beef.

Enter Kroger Hard Salami.....

I picked up a 7 ounce package of the salami, a meat I haven't had in quite awhile, visions of salami, mustard & cheese sandwiches piled high started dancing in my head....   Yes, I went shopping hungry.....

Kroger Salami & Finlandia Muenster Cheese
A snack of salami & muenster cheese

Getting back to my apartment and putting away the groceries, I had to sample the salami.  This is GOOD stuff!  The test of a good cold cut is how good it tastes on it's own, no mustard, no cheese, no bread, nothing....  This a VERY GOOD salami!

Costing under $3, I'm giving Kroger Hard Salami 4 out of 5 stars and it's definitely worthy of many repeat buys.  For the money, this is perhaps the best salami I've ever had.  Thanks Kroger!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....