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April 2009

Gourmet Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich Recipe: BLT Never Tasted So Good!

I am a huge fan of Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwiches. As a child, my mom served BLT sandwiches at least once a week. She grew the lettuce and tomato in her garden and mom's BLTs were always bursting with flavor. After moving away from home it was hard to create a sandwich that tasted as good as mom's.

Yesterday, I had a craving for bacon lettuce tomato sandwiches. It's been at least a year since I last ate one and I wanted something spectacular. I'm probably one of the most frugal people you will ever meet and I can't stand waste; especially when it comes to food.

We had a few slices of leftover lunch meat and a tiny portion of Brie cheese. My mind went into overdrive as I concocted the following recipe on-the-fly. Personally, I think it's one of the best BLTs I've ever consumed. I hope you enjoy it too!

I cooked everything using a flat electric griddle. The same results can be obtained by using a skillet and toasting the bread, or by baking the bacon. If you have never baked bacon, it's super easy to do. Simply line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, place the bacon on the sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18 minutes; flipping slices halfway through.


Gourmet Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich Recipe

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Serves: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes


4 slices Italian bread
8 slices Bacon
2 slices Deli Ham
2 slices Deli Pastrami
2 slices Deli Salami
1 small Tomato, sliced thin
3 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
3 Tablespoons Butter (or margarine)
4 slices Brie cheese, cut about 1/4-inch thick

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat electric griddle to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place bacon slices on griddle and cook for 4 minutes; flip bacon and cook 4 more minutes or until desired crispness.
  3. While bacon is cooking, prepare Romaine lettuce and tomatoes.
  4. Place butter in microwave-safe dish. Heat in microwave for about 30 seconds or until butter melts.
  5. Using a pastry brush, coat one side of each slice of bread with butter.
  6. Place 2 paper towels on a plate and transfer bacon from griddle to allow grease to drain.
  7. Using a spatula, push bacon grease into the griddle's grease container.
  8. Reduce griddle heat to 350 degrees. 
  9. Place deli meat slices on one side of griddle. Cook for 1-1/2 minutes per side.
  10. Place bread, buttered side down on other side of griddle.
  11. Place 2 slices of Brie cheese on bread and allow to melt.
  12. Add 4 strips bacon to each remaining bread slice.
  13. Top with deli meats.
  14. Using a butter knife, spread Brie cheese from edge to edge of the bread.
  15. Add lettuce and tomato on top of deli meats.
  16. Place brie cheese side of bread on top of the BLT sandwich.
  17. Transfer to serving plate. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Serve with seasoned fries, potato chips, potato salad, cole slaw or fruit cup.


Gourmet Sweet and Tart BBQ Country-style Spare Ribs Recipe

I'm excited to share this gourmet BBQ Country Spare Ribs recipe with you. What began as an experiment turned out to be the best barbeque sauce I've ever tasted. The leftovers yield tastebud-exploding pulled pork BBQ that will leave you begging for more!

Country-style ribs aren't actually ribs. They are pork chops cut from the front of the loin near the shoulder. The attached bone is usually the shoulder blade. Country style ribs are meatier, yet less fatty than other rib cuts.

Packaged country-style ribs typically contain various sizes and thicknesses, making it difficult to cook to an even level of doneness. For this reason it is best to cook spare ribs in the slow cooker. Doing so will yield fall-off-the-bone meat infused with flavor.

The Sweet and Tart BBQ County Spare Ribs were served with homemade garlic, green onion, parmesan mashed potatoes; green beans with Canadian bacon; and Jalapeno corn muffins.

Keep an eye out at the grocery store and stock up on country-style spare ribs. These ribs generally sell for $3 to $4 per pound. Our grocer recently had them on sale for $1.99 pound. We purchased a 5-pound package and divided it in half. The entire meal cost less than $10 for two.

Gourmet Sweet and Tart BBQ Country-style Spare Ribs Recipe

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Serves: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours


2-1/2 to 3 pounds Country-style Spare Ribs
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced into 1/4-inch strips


1/3 cup Tamari Sauce (can substitute with Soy Sauce)
1/2 cup bottled Ketchup
1 Tablespoon prepared Mustard
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Celery Seed
Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Cooking Directions:

  1. Trim excess fat from ribs.
  2. In a 12-inch round skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it begins to evaporate from the pan.
  3. Carefully add ribs and sear for 3 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer to slow cooker Crockpot.
  5. Place onion slices on top of ribs.
  6. Mix sauce ingredient together and pour over onions and ribs.
  7. Cover and cook over high heat for one hour.
  8. Reduce heat to medium and cook for one hour.
  9. Reduce heat to low and cook for four hours.
  10. Transfer to serving dish or individual plates and serve immediately.


Gourmet "Souped-Up" Rice-a-Roni

I've been a fan of Rice-a-Roni since I was a kid. It was a staple in our household because it was a cheap food nearly everyone liked. With a husband and four kids to feed, my mom was not only the Cooking Queen, she was also the Queen of Frugality. Who knew her frugality would lead me to my destiny of becoming The Cheap Gourmet ;-).

Last week, our grocer was selling Rice-a-Roni as buy one, get one free. I love BOGO sales, don't you? Considering Rice-a-Roni is still one of my favorite "San Francisco treats", I stocked up. After all, this is probably one of the most versatile and easy-to-prepare dishes on the planet.

Today, Rice-a-Roni is owned by the Quaker Oats Company and offers 18 varieties. Although I haven't tried all of them (Yet!) my favorites include: Chicken, Beef, Red Beans and Rice, Rice Pilaf, Long Grain and Wild Rice, and Fried Rice.

Since I had purchased a total of 20 boxes of Rice-a-Roni, I decided to experiment a bit. I figured if my experiment failed, I would only be out a couple of bucks. But, I had a feeling my idea would work and I'm happy to report that it did!

I added one of my other favorite products, Campbell's French Onion Soup, to a box of Beef flavored Rice-a-Roni. The package called for 2-1/2 cups of water. I replaced the the water with one can of French Onion Soup and about 1 cup of water. It really "souped-up" the flavor and the onion chunks added a new layer of texture.

This dish is "souper" easy to prepare ;-). Did you like my pun, LOL! All that is required is one box of Beef flavored Rice-a-Roni, one can of Campbell's French Onion Soup and one cup of water. Food prep doesn't get much easier than that does it?

Follow the package directions for preparation of the Rice-a-Roni. Instead of using the full 2-1/2 cups water, replace with the French Onion Soup and one cup of water. Within 25 minutes, you will have a yummy side dish bursting with flavor.

Soup up Rice-a-Roni

Surgical Technician Schools: 100 Best Blogs for Living Healthy on a Budget

This morning I received notification from Surgical Technician Schools that The Cheap Gourmet has been included in their list of 100 Best Blogs for Living Healthy on a Budget. This well-composed list offers a wealth of resources to help you save money while staying healthy during hard economic times.

Surgical Technician Schools 100 Best Blogs for Living Healthy on a Budget includes some of my personal favorite websites including: Kitchen Table Medicine, LIME, Fit Girl, The 99 Cent Chef, Cheap Eats and The Leftover Queen.

Although Surgical Technician Schools focuses on helping individuals locate educational institutions offering surgical technician degrees, they also provide news, information and resources to healthcare providers and their patients.

This is a relatively new site and it appears as if they are off to a great start. I encourage you to take time and visit their website. I'm certain you will find many helpful resources that can enrich your life while saving you money.

It is always a honor to be recognized and I would like to express my gratitude to Suzane Smith for including The Cheap Gourmet in this stellar list!

Last month, The Cheap Gourmet was included in the Top 100 Blogs for the Frugal Gourmet by CulinarySchoolGuide.org. Considering there are millions of blogs, to be selected twice in 45 days makes me feel like a Super Star ;-)

Thank you to all my loyal readers, new visitors and website professionals for helping make The Cheap Gourmet one of the best foodie blogs. I promise to continue providing recipes, bargains, product reviews and exceptional resources. Let us all unite and become passionate Cheap Gourmets! As they say, frugal is in and together we can become experts at saving money, staying healthy and eating well on a budget!