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December 2007

Epicurious Holiday Video Contest

Epicurious, a website for people who love to eat, is sponsoring a Holiday Video Contest. The Grand Prize winner receives a Michael Chiarello 10-piece cookware collection, an autographed copy of "At Home with Michael Chiarello" and 15-minutes of Internet Fame!

As the name implies, this cooking contest involves the submission of a holiday video. You can upload a video showing how you prepare classic holiday fare, demonstrate entertainment techniques such as how to create a centerpiece or arrange spectacular table settings, showcase a signature cocktail or submit a video showing your family enjoying a holiday meal.

Your video must be original and family-friendly. Sorry folks, no "R" or "X" rated videos! Epicurious will be providing prizes to 29 people, with one being the Grand Prize winner. Entries must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, January 2nd. Believe it or not, that's only 4 days from now!

In addition to the Epicurious Holiday Video Contest, the website offers an abundance of recipes, articles, food and entertainment guides, cooking videos and a friendly forum for foodies. When you register with Epicurious you'll have access to a variety of cooking tools. You can add Epicurious recipes to your own personal recipe box, submit recipes, connect with other foodies in the forum, rate recipes submitted by others and more. You can connect with me on the forums by searching for my username of "thecheapgourmet".

Don't delay! Post your favorite family holiday video today and you could be the Grand Prize winner. Just imagine how fun it will be to have your video featured on the Epicurious website!

To enter your holiday video visit the Epicurious website at www.Epicurious.com. Read the rules before submitting and make certain your entry arrives before the deadline.

Good Luck!!

Buitoni's "Refresh with Pesto" Contest

Buitoni, provider of fresh pasta products, is featuring a "Refresh with Pesto" contest which offers some great prizes including a $500 grocery gift certificate and a $500 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel. However, you don't want to procrastinate about entering because this food contest ends January 2nd. Don't let the deadline stop you from entering because if you win you could make out like a bandit!

If you're not familiar with Buitoni, they offer a wide variety of fresh pasta products including ravioli, tortellini, pasta sauces, cheeses, cut pasta, bruschetta and pesto. Buitoni products are offered in the refrigerated section of your favorite grocery store.

My personal favorite Buitoni products include their Four Cheese Ravioli, Chicken and Garlic Ravioli and Spinach Cheese Tortellini. I'm also a huge fan of their Pesto with Sundried Tomatoes, Marinara sauce and my all-time favorite is Buitoni's Vodka sauce - Yum-O!

The Buitoni website is a wealth of information and includes a free newsletter, pasta and sauce pairing tool, entertaining tips, a dinner party planning kit that allows you to create and print your own menu cards and much more. To learn more about Buitoni products visit their website at www.Buitoni.com

To enter Buitoni's "Refresh with Pesto Contest" simply submit one of your favorite holiday recipes and in 150 words or less, explain why you'd like it refreshed. Ten winners will be selected by a panel of culinary professionals. Nine winners will receive $150 gift certificate to their favorite grocery store and a one-year supply of Buitoni products. The Grand Prize winner receives a $500 grocery gift certificate, a $500 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel and a one-year supply of Buitoni products.

Learn more about Buitoni's "Refresh with Pesto Contest" by clicking here. Remember, this contest ends January 2nd, which is only 4 days away. Winning the contest is the perfect way to kick off the New Year in style!

Good Luck and please remember to let us know if you are selected as the winner!


Turkey with Rice Soup Recipe

If you're like most Americans, you've got a boatload of leftover turkey in your fridge. The good news is turkey is perhaps one of the most versatile foods. You can make just about anything out of turkey -- turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey with rice casserole, turkey gumbo and just plain ole' reheated turkey.

Personally, I'm a big fan of turkey soup. Although I live in Florida now, I'm originally from the Midwest and during the winter months I always indulged in a variety of soups. With the warmer weather down here, I haven't eaten as much soup as I need so when I saw the mound of leftover turkey from our Christmas dinner, my first thought was "Yeah! I can make a big batch of turkey and rice soup!"

Below is one of my favorite Turkey with Rice Soup recipes. Unfortunately, I was out of carrots so the photo below is what I ended up with. I highly recommend adding carrots to this recipe. Not only does it add a hint of color to an otherwise drab looking soup, it also adds a rich flavor. Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich for a filling and tasty lunch or dinner meal.



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Yields: 6 servings (large bowls)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Turkey_with_rice_soup INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Onion, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Thyme
2-3 medium Carrots, diced
2 cups Turkey, chopped
2  (15-ounce) cans Vegetable Broth
4 cups Water
1-1/2 cups Rice, uncooked (I prefer Jasmine for it's nutty flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Add olive oil to large stockpot and set burner to medium-low heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Saute until onions are translucent.
  • Add carrots, turkey, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil.
  • Add rice and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer for one hour.
  • Remove bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer to serving bowls and serve immediately.

Crock-Pot.com (Jarden Consumer Solutions)

Fingerhut Holiday Sale! Save an Extra 50% on Kitchen & Household Items

Psssssst... Fingerhut is having a HUGE Holiday Sale. For a limited time, you can save an extra 50% on already marked down Clearance Items. Many of the products are shipped directly from the manufacturer, so you won't be able to order anything from Fingerhut in time for Christmas. However, you can save a boatload of money.

The additional 50% discount is offered on all of Fingerhut's Clearance Items. This includes handy kitchen gadgets, housekeeping and organization products, apparel for the entire family, health and beauty products, home decor, indoor and outdoor furniture, and much more.


I bought this really cool Electric Pasta Cooker... just add water and within minutes you have perfectly cooked pasta. Although this kitchen appliance is electric, it's cordless and includes a built-in timer to let you know when the pasta is al dente. The top has a built in strainer and the bottom is cool to the touch, making it safe for any surfaces. With the 50% discount, the final cost was $17.44. Now, that's what I call a bargain!


I simply couldn't resist the Palm Tree Dinnerware Set. After all, I do live in Florida ;-) This 32-piece set includes 8 dinner and salad plates, 8 bowls and 8 mugs. You'll also receive a bonus 4-piece accessory set which includes a napkin holder, spoon rest and salt and pepper shaker set. Final cost after discount was $14.94.


Last, but not least, I bought this handy dandy Hot/Cold Serving Tray which is absolutely perfect for entertaining! It's made from stainless steel and has thermo-sensitive oil inside. Place in refrigerator or oven prior to use and the tray will retain the temperature for several hours. Clearance price -- $9.94.

If you've never shopped with Fingerhut before you'll need to setup an account, which takes less than 2 minutes. Besides offering great prices, Fingerhut has a unique program that allows you to make small monthly payments.

You can apply for Fingerhut Credit directly from the website and receive instant approval. This company is a bit more eager to work with credit-challenged individuals or those who have little credit history. In fact, they were the first company to grant me credit when I was 18 years old. I remain a loyal customer to this day!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips Recipe

There's nothing better than banana bread with chocolate chips on a cold winter morning. This easy-to-prepare recipe is the perfect choice for Christmas morning breakfast, holiday brunch or any holiday celebration.

This chocolate chip banana bread makes a fantastic gift for teachers, mail carriers, neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. Simply wrap individual loaves in colored plastic wrap, tie with ribbon, stick on a festive bow and voila!, you'll have a gift everyone will enjoy!

To obtain more servings and offer guests "finger food", slice the banana bread in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 1-inch slices. Serve plain, top with ice cream or whipped cream, or slather on a layer of peanut butter and put two slices together to create a decadent chocolate chip peanut butter banana sandwich. Yum-O!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
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Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 to 50 minutes

Choc_chip_banana_bread Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup ripe Bananas, mashed (about 3 small or 2 medium)
1/2 cup shortening or solid Coconut oil (Coconut oil will add a rich coconut flavor)
2 Eggs
1 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts, chopped


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease bottom only of two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2-inch loaf pans.
  • In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts.
  • Blend ingredients well using a hand-held electric mixer set on medium speed.
  • Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  • Pour into prepared loaf pans.
  • Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Fudge Pound Cake Recipe

The following Fudge Pound Cake recipe is one of my all-time favorites. But, before I share the recipe I'd like to share a story with you. Last week I made numerous baked goods for the company my husband works for. They were exhibiting their product at a trade show and provided holiday treats for everyone who visited their booth. It was especially important for the baked goods to leave a lasting impression.

Since the fudge pound cake is so scrumptious, I decided to quadruple the recipe. For some reason, I ended up with considerably more batter than I needed. I made the mistake of adding a little extra to each loaf pan. To make matters worse, I also forgot to turn on the kitchen timer. When I opened the oven door, I was aghast to see this...



At first glance I thought all was lost. After all, it's a little "crispy" on top and certainly isn't very appealing. The extra batter I added caused the pound cake to overflow, which turned out to be good for me. As I surveyed the damage, I noticed most of the outer edges could be trimmed off. First, I trimmed the edges while the pound cake was still in the pan.


Next, I flipped the cake out of the pan and trimmed up all the edges. It's looking much better, wouldn't you agree?


After trimming the pound cake, I then sliced it in half


Then, I sliced each half into 1-inch thick slices, which make for perfect finger food!


When making pound cake or other baked goods, keep in mind that just because the top is burnt doesn't mean the entire cake is a loss. Once the burnt pieces were trimmed away, this fudge pound cake was baked to perfection. Slicing it into smaller pieces is a great way to serve at any function or holiday gathering.

Below is the recipe for this decadent Fudge Pound Cake. I recommend making one batch at a time to avoid the problems I encountered ;-)


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Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes


1/2 cup unsalted Butter, softened
1-3/4 cups granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3 Eggs
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
2/3 cup Cocoa powder
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Sour Cream (substitute with Light or Low-fat, if desired)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Blend one-third of flour mixture into butter mixture; then 1/3 cup Sour Cream. Alternate until ingredients are incorporated.
  • Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
  • Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Lowfat Mock Guacamole Dip and Tortilla Chips

Perfectly seasoned, this lowfat mock Guacamole Dip made from frozen peas tastes just as good as the "real" thing, but without the fat or the guilt! Serve with a basket of homemade low-fat Tortilla Chips and your guests will be raving about your spectacular snack for weeks to come.

Consider creating individual recipe cards for low-fat mock Guacamole Dip and Tortilla Chips and provide a copy to each of your guests. Insert inside their holiday card or leave a stack on the table. Chances are the recipe cards will disappear as quickly as this guilt-free healthy holiday snack!










Low-fat Mock Guacamole Dip
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Yield: 1-3/4 cups
Serves: 14
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours


2 cups frozen tender-sweet Peas
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fat-free Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon fresh Lime juice (or use bottled, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Garlic Pepper Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Plum Tomato, seeded and chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Cilantro, finely chopped


  1. Cook peas according to package directions; drain.
  2. Finely chop peas and onion.
  3. Mince garlic using a garlic press.
  4. In a 2-quart bowl, combine peas, onion, garlic, sour cream, lime juice, Tabasco sauce and salt and mix well.
  5. Chop tomato and cilantro, then gently stir into pea mixture.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  7. Serve with homemade low-fat Tortilla Chips

Homemade Low-fat Tortilla Chips
Yield: 80 chips
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 6-8 minutes

10 8-inch fat-free flour Tortillas


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
  3. Arrange wedges on a baking stone or pizza pan.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer chips to a cooling rack or large piece of aluminum foil and allow to cool completely.
  6. Store in airtight container until ready to serve.

Transfer pea guacamole into serving bowl and place in center of serving tray. Arrange chips on serving tray and let the party begin!

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

It's that time of year where holiday desserts are offered at office parties, home parties, school parties and family gatherings. The next few weeks, The Cheap Gourmet will focus on providing a variety of recipes that you can serve or take to holiday gatherings. No worries, I'll also be including low-fat, low-calorie desserts along with appetizers and a variety of healthy party foods!

Today, I'd like to share one of my favorite holiday dessert recipes with you - the Banana Split Brownie Pizza. This recipe is super easy to make and perfect for any party. You can take it to the office, serve it at parties or give it as a gift. It tastes so yummy that you might want to make an extra just for YOU!

This recipe requires the use of Parchment paper and a baking stone. If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a regular pizza pan. However, do not attempt to make this without the use of parchment paper or you'll end up with a big mess in your oven. You can purchase parchment paper in most grocery stores at a cost of around $3.50. Once you use parchment paper in your baking endeavors, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it! It makes things slide right off and eliminates sticking so you'll always have perfect desserts!

Banana Split Brownie Pizza
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Serves: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 15-20 minutes


1 (21-ounce) package Brownie Mix
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/2 cup Water
1 Egg
1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened (use Light Cream Cheese, if desired)
1/2 cup Confectioner's Sugar
2 medium Bananas, sliced 1/2-inch thick and tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning
1 cup fresh Strawberries, sliced
1 (8-ounce) can crushed Pineapples, drained
2 Tablespoons Walnuts, chopped
4 Tablespoons semi-sweet Chocolate Chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, applesauce, water and egg. Mix by hand as per package directions.
  3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a 15-inch Baking Stone or pizza pan.
  4. Pour brownie mixture on top of paper and spread into a 14-inch circle.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. In a small bowl, combine softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. Mix by hand or using an electric mixer until smooth.
  8. Using an icing spreader or butter knife, spread cream cheese mixture over top of brownie crust.
  9. Slice bananas and dip in small amount of lemon juice to prevent browning. Drain excess lemon juice and place banana slices on top of cream cheese mixture.
  10. Slice strawberries length-wise and place on top of of brownie pizza.
  11. Add crushed pineapple to pizza.
  12. Sprinkle walnuts and chocolate chips on top of fruit.
  13. Chill for at least one hour; longer if possible.
  14. Cut into 16 wedges and serve.

For those watching their calorie intake one slice of Banana Split Brownie Pizza contains approximately 250 calories and 7 grams of fat.