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March 2009

Super Simple Sunday Snack: Gourmet Snuggle Dogs

Around my house, Sunday is a day reserved for simple snacks and a down-home Sunday dinner. Today, my husband decided to try something new in the snack department. I must confess, if I'm not careful he could very well pass me in the culinary arts game! Of course, I could always claim his improved cooking skills are a direct result of my impeccable food coaching ;-)

This afternoon he treated me to a super simple Sunday snack which can be served for many events. In a sense, this recipe is our version of Pigs in a Blanket, but much simpler and definitely tastier. Just for fun, we'll call them Gourmet Snuggle Dogs.

If you aren't familiar with Toufayan products, you're missing out. Toufayan Bakeries sell a wide range of products including: tortilla wraps, pita breads, bagels, bread sticks, lavash and these amazing hot dogs rolls called Snuggles.

We used Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage, but you could substitute with any type of sausage or hot dog you desire.

As a side we used Mrs. T's Pierogies; a delightful pocket of whipped potatoes encased in pasta.

Here's the recipe for creating a super simple Sunday snack that feeds four in under 10 minutes:

Gourmet Snuggle Dogs

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Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

4 Toufayan Snuggle Buns
4 Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage
Mustard, (optional)
Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat grill to 350 degrees or turn oven to 'Broil' setting.
2. Remove Johnsonville Sausage from package.
3. Place dogs on grill, turning frequently and cooking until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. During final minutes, place Toufayan Snuggle Buns on grill to warm.
5. Place Sausage inside Snuggle buns.
6. Using a cutting board, slice snuggle buns in 2-inch slices and secure bun with toothpick.

While dogs are cooking, preheat cooking oil to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently place Pierogies into hot oil. Cook for approximately 4 minutes until light golden brown.

Remove from oil and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease.

Transfer snuggle dogs and pierogies to individual plates. Serve with sides of mustard for dipping the dogs and cheese sauce for dipping pierogies.

This super simple snack is great for tailgate parties, girls-night out, pool parties, and family gatherings. It's perfect finger food and guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone who enjoys sausage and potatoes!

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How to Make Restaurant Quality Sauces at Home

Yesterday, I was in the process of making Philly Cheese Steaks when I realized I was out of cheese sauce. One area of cooking that I have never excelled at is making sauces. I love sauces. They can enhance or completely alter just about any food. The problem is most store bought sauces contain lots of ingredients that aren't all that great for you like tons of sodium and the evil MSG.

I immediately went online to locate a homemade cheese sauce. The ingredients were few and the recipe quite simple. Problem was the sauce ended up being a big ole' glop of yuckiness. Needless to say our Philly Cheese Steaks were served naked.

I decided that I was going to conquer my sauce illiteracy once and for all. I scoured the Internet for sauce recipes and cooking videos. Then I discovered "How to Make Restaurant Quality Sauces at Home".

This instant download ebook is packed with mouth-watering sauce recipes including Merlot Sauce, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Mushroom Sauce, Peppercorn Sauce, Mustard Tarragon Sauce, Hazelnut Cream Sauce and Orange Sauce.

One thing I love about ebooks is the fact that I can print out the recipe. If I slop food on it, it's no big deal. I just print another copy. The second thing I love about ebook cookbooks is they are affordable. I don't know if you have priced hardbound cookbooks lately, but the cheapest ones I have found are in the $30 to $40 price range.

What sold me on "How to Make Restaurant Quality Sauces at Homes" is the fact that I can save a boatload of money on sauces. Just last week, I paid over $12 for a bottle Merlot Wine sauce. By mastering homemade sauces, I can easily slash my cost by 75-percent.

If you love sauces as much as I do, check out "Restaurant Quality Sauces". For only $11.95, this cookbook is a great deal. It's backed by a 100% Satisfaction, Money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose. And, best of all, if you order today you will also receive a free bonus gift of "Chef Richard's Chef's Special Sampler" - a collection of 20 tastebud tantalizing delights.

Restaurant Quality Sauces


What Do Flip Flops and Chef Gordon Ramsay Have in Common?

Flip Flops Grill and Chill is a quaint beachside restaurant located at 103 S. Pine Street 725 East Third Avenue in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Their motto is "Fine Dining in Flip Flops and Tank Tops" and they live up to their aphorism. Although we didn't see any diners wearing tank tops, the food was sublime and the service exquisite.

We arrived at Flip Flops around 7:30pm on a Thursday night. The restaurant was packed and a line of hungry patrons stood outside enjoying the salty air and gentle breezes. While waiting for our table, we noticed a framed newspaper article with a photo of the infamous Danny Veltri; the self-proclaimed "redneck chef" currently competing in Hell's Kitchen.

Come to find out, Danny is the Executive Chef at Flip Flops and would be preparing our meal. I don't know about you, but I've never had a celebrity chef prepare a meal for me. I've watched Danny in action on Hell's Kitchen and expected an intoxicating meal. I was not disappointed; nor were the other members of my party.

Flip Flops menu consists of so many incredible gourmet selections it was hard to make a decision. We began our dining experience with the Bahamian Conch Fritters appetizer, which were fried to perfection and accompanied by a zesty key lime-Dijon dipping sauce.

My friend, Gail, and I ordered the Tiger Shrimp Satays with Watermelon Pico de Gallo. Entrees are served with your choice of soup or salad and a side dish. Gail chose the Cranberry Spring Salad and I enjoyed the Southwestern Chicken soup.

flip flops tiger shrimp satays
Flip Flop's Tiger Shrimp Satays


Our men indulged in Mahi Mahi Gone Bananas; a wicked combination of blackened mahi and grilled banana halves, and Chicken Bruschetta; a divine char-grilled chicken breast topped with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and garlic. Each of us chose the Peppercorn Bleu Cheese mashed potatoes for our side dish, except for Mike who went with the Pineapple and Walnut Rissoto.

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Flip Flop's Mahi Mahi Gone Bananas

flip flops chicken bruschetta
Flip Flop's Chicken Bruschetta


Not only was our food cooked to perfection, it was beautifully presented and accompanied by a gorgeous edible orchid. I'm certain Chef Ramsay would approve of Chef Veltri's creations.

As we were wrapping up our evening, Hell's Kitchen was being aired on the three wall mounted TVs. All eyes were watching as Danny appeared on the screen. We thanked our server for the excellent service and asked her to thank the chef. She stated he was sitting at the bar and pointed him out.

I approached Danny Veltri during the commercial break and asked if I could snap a photo with him for The Cheap Gourmet blog. He eagerly accepted my invitation and participated in a mini photo shoot.

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From Left to Right - Gail, The Cheap Gourmet, Chef Veltri, Mike and Brad

Although I was a bit starry-eyed meeting a celebrity chef, what I found most impressive was the humble attitude of Chef Danny Veltri. Instead of taking credit for our amazing meals, he introduced us to Chef Erik Amalfitano; stating Erik is the mastermind behind the gastro-delights.

We enjoyed everything about Flip Flops Grill and Chill. From the warm reception provided by the staff upon arrival, the exquisite food and presentation, the down-home feel of the restaurant and the graciousness of the chefs, Flip Flops provided us with a meal experience unlike any other.

Next time you're in New Smyrna Beach you absolutely must pay a visit to Flip Flops. While you're there be certain to tell Chef Danny and Chef Erik that The Cheap Gourmet sent you!


Budget Friendly Cookware: Tips for Buying the Perfect Set

As the economy seems to worsen by the day, there couldn’t be a better time to look into a quality cookware set that won’t break the bank. The large variety of cookware sets in the market today can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed and confused over which multi-piece set is better than the other.

Today, we're going to go through a few factors to consider before purchasing this kitchen addition. While ingredients and temperature settings make a big difference in our cooking, many people may not be aware of how much influence a particular cooking set has on the finished meal we serve to our guests. To determine the right budget-friendly cookware collection consider the cookware set material, number of pieces, and typical meals you prepare on a regular basis.

When it comes to affordable cookware, stainless steel set is the way to go. One thing to keep in mind with this budget-friendly option is to find a set that includes an aluminum or copper disk at the bottom of each pot and pan, as this will help distribute heat evenly and efficiently.

Stainless steel cookware doesn’t conduct heat as well as an aluminum or copper set so it’s essential to find an affordable kitchen collection that includes these strong heat conducting materials. If you’re willing to spend a little more for a high quality cookware set that is easy to clean and lightweight, consider hard anodized cookware. Hard aluminum pots and pans have been treated to create a low stick, scratch-resistant surface that doesn’t react poorly with any type of food and cooks evenly.

Budget friendly cookware consists of a balance between price and quality. You never want to buy the cheapest set in the store because it could break or wear down easily within the first few months of use.

After you have found a basic set of budget friendly cookware, look into additional pieces such as a cast iron or ceramic casserole dish to build on your cooking experience. You don’t have to get hung up on matching every additional cookware piece with your fundamental set. Instead, consider the types of meals you are looking to create and choose a cookware set material that will bring out the flavors of your dishes in the very best way!



CulinarySchoolGuide.org: Top 100 Blogs for the Frugal Gourmet

Yesterday, CulinarySchoolGuide.org published their list of the Top 100 Blogs for the Frugal Gourmet. I am proud to announce The Cheap Gourmet landed in position #3 and would like to extend my gratitude for being selected.

CulinarySchoolGuide.org is a wonderful resource for anything related to foods and beverages. If you're considering attending culinary school, check out this website first. Simply type in our zip code and you'll be able to instantly find culinary schools in your area.

As you may recall, my dream is to open a small bakery within the next 5 years. I was super excited when I typed in my zip code and discovered Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts is located in Orlando! I've already sent off my request for additional information so I can develop my plan to open the most rockin' bakery on the East Coast of Florida!

In addition to locating the best culinary schools in America, CulinarySchoolGuide.org is packed with hundreds of resources to simplify your life and help you save money. Here are just a few of the wonderful resources you will find:

100 Useful Search Engines for Chefs, Cooks and Food Lovers

Top 100 Blogs for Foodies (The Cheap Gourmet ranks #82, but comes in first place under Foodies on a Budget!) 

100 Best Beer and Wine Blogs

Crash-Course Gourmet: 50 Free Open Courseware Cooking Classes

100 Best Websites for Chocolate Fanatics

Whatever your cooking needs are, CulinarySchoolGuide.org can help you find it. Be certain to bookmark their site when you visit. I'm certain you will want to return on a regular basis!

Happy Cooking!

 

 


What's for Dessert? - 7 Simple Gourmet Dessert Recipes

I'll admit it. I have an insatiable sweet tooth. If I don't have some kind of dessert on a regular basis, I get cranky. Just ask my husband. I think it stems from my childhood. My mom always made sweet treats for us. We'd come home from school and the house would be filled with the scent of chocolate chip cookies or a freshly baked cake or pie. No matter how bad our day had been, the desserts always made everything better!

While I love to cook, I love to bake even more. I still hold onto my dream of opening a bakery some day, but for now I am content baking for my friends and neighbors. If I ate everything I baked my cholesterol would be sky high!

Today, I'd like to share my favorite dessert recipes with you. I'll forewarn you -- they aren't low-fat or low-calorie. I highly recommend sharing them with others because they are so tasty you'll find yourself eating way more than you want!

Monday: Mom's Famous "Just Peachy" Peach Cobbler - This stuff is addicting. Even my husband, who isn't a sweets-person at all, enjoyed this dessert. It's tasty served hot, cold or room temperature. It's even better served with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream. Yum! 

Tuesday: Cherry Delight Pie - This is probably the easier dessert you could ever make. It requires overnight refrigeration, so if you want to eat it on Tuesday, you'll need to make it Monday night. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like this pie and it is always a huge hit with co-workers.

Wednesday: French Toast Bread Pudding - All I can say is WOW! If you like french toast, you are going to love this dessert. This sweet treat requires overnight refrigeration so the bread can soak up the spices. It's well worth the wait and will fill your home with the most tantalizing aroma. Talk about a great way to start your day or end the evening. Magnificent!

Thursday: Fudge Pound Cake - This dessert will satisfy your need for chocolate. It's very versatile. You can serve it in thick or thin slices; eat it plain; frost it; spread cream cheese, preserves or jam on it; break it up and mix it in ice cream; and so much more.

Friday: Banana Split Brownie Pizza - This is the perfect dessert for family TV night, slumber parties, girls-night-in parties, soccer parties, football parties, any kind of party! Be careful though - this dessert is highly addicting!

Saturday: Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake - There is no better way to start your day than with this luscious blueberry buttermilk coffee cake. This is by far one of my favorite weekend desserts. And, it's relatively healthy and uses organic ingredients.

Sunday: Chocolate Covered Cherries - When I was a young girl, my grandmother would give me a box of chocolate covered cherries every year for Christmas. When my daughter was a toddler she was cared for by a woman who was a baker. She taught me how to make homemade chocolate covered cherries. Although these require chocolate molds and are somewhat time consuming, they are definitely worth the time. Once you try these delicious candies you will never be able to eat boxed cherries again. These things are almost sinful!