Food 4 Thought

An eZine for People Who Eat

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March 15, 2019


If there were a dish that would cure me of an omnivoreÕs love of meat, this would be the one. The aroma of onions, and peppers, and Italian seasoning roasting beckons diners to the table. This is the main dish of choice for your vegetarian guests, and a complement to a fine Sunday roast for the rest of us.

This is just one of many delicious recipes you'll discover in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook.

Cooking-oil spray

1 lb carrots

1 lb green beans

1 large onion

1 red or yellow pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup olive oil

1½ tsp Italian seasoning

¼ tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 475”. Spray a 9"x13" roasting pan with the cooking-oil spray. Peel the carrots and cut them into 2" piecesÉor use baby carrots from the store. Add the carrots and the beans. Slice the onion thin and add it to the pan. Cut the pepper into quarters, seed it, and then cut it into ¼" strips. Add them to the vegetables in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic on and drizzle on the olive oil. Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir until the vegetables are uniformly coated with the oil.

Bake uncovered stirring every 15 minutes until done—about 45 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the vegetables. Stir well and serve hot.

March 8, 2019


Pizza has been around almost as long as beer has. Beer has been bloating bellies for thirteen thousand years. Pizza came along soon after beer was invented. Together, the team of pizza and beer have been the bane of diets ever since. Today, there's light beer. Now there's diet pizza to go with it.


Same great taste without all the carbs. Make your next crust with cauliflower instead of wheat flower. This is another healthy food—not health food—in the spirit of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. No need to go to some overpriced health food store for exotic ingredients; bags of riced cauliflower are available at your regular grocery store. YouÕre your own cauliflower yourself if you prefer. One head makes almost enough to prepare this recipe twice.


2 cups riced cauliflower

cooking spray

2 eggs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Mozzarella cheese

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp salt


Microwave the riced cauliflower for 5 minutes. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 450”F.


Drain in the cauliflower in a colander. Squeeze it as dry as you can.


While the oven is warming, beat the eggs in a bowl, and then stir the prepared cauliflower in. Add the cheeses and the seasonings. Mix thoroughly to form cauliflower pizza dough.


Put the finished dough onto the oiled cookie sheet and spread it with a fork. The recipe makes two 9" crusts or one 12" pizzas. Work the dough to avoid holes. Tamp it hard enough that it won't fall apart when you remove it from the pan later.


Bake 15 minutes at 450”F.  Remove it from the oven, add your favorite toppings, and broil for a minute or two.


March 1, 2019


Hunter's Chicken—Chicken Cacciatore—is an Italian treat. I did hunt for this chicken. Being frugal enough to author a book named The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, I hunted for a sale on chickens. I smothered my catch in mushrooms, onions and garlic. It simmered on the stove top, filling the whole house with enticing smells. Appetites were primed before the onions even met the chicken. Dinner delivered on the aroma's promise.


Hunt down a chicken sale of your own and give this recipe a try.


1 chicken or 4-5 lb chicken parts

½ cup olive oil

4 tbsp butter

½ onion

½ lb mushrooms

 3 cloves garlic

¾ cup white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup ketchup

seasoned salt

2 tbsp brandy


Cut the chicken into manageable parts—eight is the usual yield from one fryer—or just pick up your favorite parts from the grocery store.


Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold all the chicken parts. Add the chicken skin side down and sautŽ uncovered 20 minutes. You may want to rotate the pieces to achieve uniform browning.


While that's cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a separate skillet. Dice and add the onion. Slice and add the mushrooms. Add the garlic. Stir and cook 4 minutes.


When the chicken has browned, turn the parts skin side up. Pour the onion and mushroom preparation over them. Add the wine, bay leaves, basil and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 8 minutes. Stir the ketchup in and season salt to taste. Drop the heat to low and cook uncovered for 15 more minutes.


Sprinkle brandy over the finished chicken cacciatore and serve.


February 22, 2019


Valentine's Day or everyday, crab makes brunch a delight. Ready for a big meal? Try the crustless crab quiche from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. In a mood for just a little? Try these simple crab cups. They're delicious and they're good for you. Cauliflower rice makes fine quiche crust. I baked a batch of crusts in a cupcake pan and added quiche filling for personal quiches. They baked up great. Give this easy recipe a try when you're ready for a change up in your breakfast menu. (You'll want to double the recipe to make a pie pan size quiche.)



Nonstick spray

1 egg

¼ tsp salt

⅛ tsp pepper

2 cups cauliflower rice

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese



¼ lb mushrooms

3 eggs

cup shredded  mozzerla cheese

¼ cup chopped crabmeat (imitation works fine.)


Preheat the oven to 400”F. Spray the wells of a muffin pan with nonstick spray.


Whisk one egg with salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir the cauliflower rice and Parmesan cheese in. Press ¼ cup of the mixture into each prepared muffin cup. Use a spoon to press the mixture into cups. Bake for 15 minutes.


Slice and fry the mushrooms.


Prepare the filling while all that is happening. Dice the crabmeat. Whisk the eggs and then add the diced crabmeat, the fried mushrooms and the cheese. Spoon the mixture into the baked crusts. Return the pan to the oven and bake 8 minutes.


February 15, 2019


"Too much garlic" is an oxymoron. You can't have too much garlic. It lends great taste to the tamest of dishes, and—special bonus—it keeps werewolves away. Add some to whatever you're cooking tonight.


Garlic dresses up a chicken. The next time you roast one, nestle a few cloves of garlic around it. Turn it into the classic Chinese dish, Chicken with forty cloves of garlic. Cooking in a bed of garlic infuses the meat with a hint of garlic flavor. The garlic cloves are transformed into roasted garlic. The cooked ones are not as pungent as the raw ones. You can eat them right out of the pot. They're a soft and tasty alternative to butter or margarine. Smear them on crusty French or Italian bread to accompany dinner. Save them as magic ingredients for other dishes.


Clay pot chickens turn out great without a lot of fussing over them. Here's the clay pot version of chicken with forty cloves of garlic.


40 cloves garlic peeled

1 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp rosemary

¼ tsp thyme

tsp sage

1 whole frying chicken

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt & pepper


Soak the top and bottom of the clay pot in water for 15 minutes or more.


Cover the bottom of the pot with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the olive oil over them and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme and sage. Place the chicken on top of the bed of garlic. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and add salt and pepper to taste.


Place in a cold oven and heat to 475”F Cook for 75 minutes. Remove the top and let cook 10 more minutes. Serve with the juice and the garlics from the pan.


February 8, 2019


Candlelight and wine make Valentine's dinner an event. Romantic cooking scores big points. (Gentlemen, note: a man who cooks racks up extra points on this holiday.)  The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers several great suggestions to make this Valentine's Night special. There are several variations on filet mignon, plus some delicious alternatives to the usual. Surprise your significant other with one of the book's most popular dishes—bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp.

Oh, by the way: for bonus points, The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook also includes some great suggestions for champagne brunch on the morning after your romantic dinner the night before. Buy your copy today.

2 lb #6-8 shrimp

¼ cup melted butter or margarine

¼ lb crab—imitation is okay

1 small onion or 2 green onions

1 stalk celery

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 tsp dry mustard

1 lb thin sliced bacon

Wooden toothpicks


Clean, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp. Set aside.

Prepare the crab stuffing. Chop the crab, onion and celery fine—a food processor works well for this. Mix with the breadcrumbs, the egg, salt, cayenne pepper, and mustard. Add the melted butter and mix well.

Assemble the bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. Drape a strip of bacon diagonally across your palm. Cross the bacon with one of the shrimp—cut side up and opened flat. Place a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing on the shrimp and form it into a little log. Wrap the ends of the bacon strip to cover the stuffing. Secure the whole thing with a couple of toothpicks through the bacon and the body of the shrimp. Set aside and repeat until you run out of shrimp.

Preheat the broiler. Lay the shrimp out in a single layer on your broiler pan. Broil until just done—about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second. Do not overcook.

February 1, 2019


Baby, it's cold outside. This is the season for those slow cooker dishes that fill the house with warm smells all day long. My grocery store had big chunks of pork sirloin on sale the other day. I bought one and cut it into 3 pound pieces. Now I'm exploring slow cooker magic. Orange juice added a surprising new taste to a pork roast. Here's a recipe I'll want to cook again.


1 pork roast (3-4 lb)

½ tsp salt

tsp pepper

1 6 oz can frozen orange juice concentrate—thawed

¼ cup honey

⅛ tsp ground cloves

⅛ tsp ground nutmeg


Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper.


Combine the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture over the roast in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Drop the heat to low and cook 6 more hours.


January 25, 2019


The combination of mushrooms, bacon and Swiss cheese can be magic in the morning. The frittata is a versatile Italian omelet. It's one of those classic clean out the pantry dishes. Smidgens of leftovers turn a few eggs into a brunch event.  Many combinations work great. Here's a favorite combination of mine. What's in your refrigerator?


3 strips bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

½ lb mushrooms

½ green pepper

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

6 eggs

¾ cup Swiss cheese shredded

¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated

salt & pepper to taste


Fry the bacon over medium heat in a large ovenproof frying pan. While it's cooking, coarsely chop the pepper and the onion. Slice the mushrooms, and mince the garlic. Set them all the vegetables aside. Drain the cooked bacon on a paper towel. Pour off any excess bacon fat. Add the olive oil.


Preheat the broiler.


Add the onions and the mushrooms into the hot oil. Stir and cook about 2 minutes until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the peppers and the garlic. Stir and cook another 2 minutes.


In the meantime, chop or shred the bacon into bacon bits and set them aside. Whisk the eggs and the cheeses together in a separate bowl.


Scrape the fried vegetables loose and spread them into a uniform layer covering the bottom of the frying pan. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the top. Smooth it into a uniform layer if necessary. Sprinkle the bacon bits plus the salt and pepper over the dish. Cook 5 minutes without stirring.


Broil 2 minutes and serve.

January 18, 2019


Nobody does spinach better than the Florentines. HereÕs a chicken dish in their style from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. You could make it with fresh spinach, but using frozen spinach saves a lot of preparation.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp butter or margarine

1 green onion finely chopped

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup chicken bouillon


1 package of frozen chopped spinach


1 tbsp flour

½ cup half and half

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


Lay the chicken breasts out flat, smooth side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap them smooth side out and set aside.

Smear 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine in the bottom of a frying pan. Add the green onions and the chicken rolls seams down. Pour the wine and bouillon over the chicken. Sprinkle some parsley on and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the spinach according to package directions. Transfer the spinach to a colander and squeeze the excess water out. Put the spinach in bottom of an ovenproof dish Sprinkle on salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in a tablespoon of butter or margarine.

Melt a tablespoon of butter or margarine over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to blend. Pour the liquid from the chicken pot into the mixture and whisk until thickened. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the half and half. Cook 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolk.

Preheat the broiler.

Lay the chicken rolls seam down on top of the spinach in their ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce over it all. Sprinkle the chicken with a generous dollop of Parmesan. Run it under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.


January 11, 2019


Did you resolve to eat healthier this year? The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook can help you. It's a healthy foods cookbook—not a health foods cookbook. Home cooking is healthier than prepared foods or restaurant meals. You control what goes into each dish—and how much. Avoid the excess sugar, salt, and carbohydrates hidden in commercial foods. Aren't those what your resolution is all about?

Resolutions last longer when they taste better. That's the difference between a healthy food book and a health food book. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook delivers on its title's promise—scrumptious, affordable meals. Written with the mantra that "cooking well should be as much fun as eating well," the meals are easy and fun to prepare. And delicious to eat. No oddball ingredients, everything needed is already in most kitchens. Follow instructions like "Open beer. Drink half," or "Marinate significant other. Set aside." Surprise your guests by cooking a Pregnant Turkey. Enjoy food quotes from authorities from James Beard to the Beatles.

January 4, 2019


Started the new year off with eggs Benedict. Didn't have ham on-hand, so I used this bacon-based recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Along with the Hollandaise sauce recipe from the book, this delicious breakfast was easy;


Hollandaise sauce is a souped up lemon butter sauce. Use it wherever you would use lemon butter and more. ItÕs great on eggs, seafood and vegetables. Enjoy it in eggs Benedict or one of the Oskar dishes offered in the book.


This blender Hollandaise sauce is quick and easy. YouÕll be tempted to use it everywhere. Please do, but remember, itÕs made with raw egg, so use it up in a day or two


2 English muffins

2 strips of bacon or 4 small slices of ham

4 eggs

Hollandaise sauce (Recipe follows.)

Butter or margarine


Pan-fry the bacon or ham. Split and toast the English muffins. Poach the eggs with a dab of butter or 1/2 tsp of bacon fat. Assemble the eggs Benedict: put the ham or bacon on the English muffin halves, and then put one poached egg on top. Pour 2 tbsp of Hollandaise sauce over each. Serve hot.

½ cup butter or margarine

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

12 drops Tabasco sauce


Melt the butter or margarine. Place the remaining ingredients in the blender. Cover and whip. Pour the melted butter in a steady stream through the opening in the top. Stop as soon as all the butter is added.


December 28, 2018


Many Mexican meals are tasty, easy, and affordable. They're family pleasers in the spirit of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Here's a dish that got rave reviews at my dinner table the other night. It will be back by popular demand. Treat your crew to this imitation crab delicacy soon.


1 large onion

2 tbsp oil

1 lb imitation crabmeat

1 can refried beans

1 cup pico de gallo style salsa

1 tbsp garlic salt

12 8" flour tortillas or 6 12" flour tortillas

shredded cheddar or cheddar jack cheese


Preheat the oven to 350”F.


Dice the onion and fry the pieces in a little oil until softened. Chop the crabmeat into small pieces, and stir them into the onions. Cook the mixture until it is warmed through. Set aside.


Mix the salsa and garlic salt into the refried beans. Set aside.


Lay a tortilla flat. Add a heaping tablespoon of the crab/onion mixture in the middle. Top with a heaping tablespoon of the beans. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. (Double these for the larger tortillas.) Tuck the top and bottom of the tortilla over the filling and roll it up. Lay the burrito seam side down in a glass baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.


Bake 30 minutes at 350”F. Serve with salsa.


December 21, 2018


Nothing warms the house like a simmering slow cooker. The inviting aroma of comfort food knocks five degrees off the chill factor. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook includes a treasure trove of great winter recipes. Try the chili, the meatball stew, or the mushroom chuck roast—to name a few. (It's not too late to pick up copies for the foodies on your holiday gift list.) Here's another delicious affordable slow cooker dish in the spirit of the book.


2 onions

1 tbsp minced garlic

3 to 5 lb chuck roast

1 cup coffee

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup cornstarch


Slice one onion thin and place the pieces in the bottom of your slow cooker. Stir the garlic in. Cut the roast in half and lay one piece on top of the onions and garlic. Slice the other onion thin and cover the meat with the onion slices. Lay the other half of the roast on those onions.


Mix the soy sauce with one cup of brewed coffee. Drizzle the mixture over the meat. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.


Dilute the cornstarch with cup of water. Stir that in and cook another ½ hour.


December 14, 2018


Not just another store-bought vegetable tray, here's an appetizer your holiday guests will love. Offer something different and watch your contribution vanish before your eyes. Crab-stuffed mushrooms are always a hit. Mushrooms are popular. TheyÕre usually the first vegetable missing from that vegetable tray. Improving on mushrooms isnÕt easy. The taste of crab can take you a step beyond. Try imitation crabmeat: it tastes great and it avoids shellfish allergies. Even one case of anaphylactic shock can spoil a whole party.

1 lb mushrooms

¼ lb crabmeat (imitation works well)

1 green onion

½ cup breadcrumbs

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400”F

Clean the mushrooms gently. Remove the stems leaving the caps intact. A teaspoon works well for prying the stems loose. Cut the stems into manageable pieces and add them to a blender jar. Cut the crab into manageable pieces and put them in as well. Add the remaining ingredients and chop a few seconds. The mixture should be coarse and well blended.

Lightly oil a flat baking dish or broiler pan. Add a heaping teaspoon of the stuffing mixture to each mushroom cap and place them all in the pan. Repeat filling all the mushrooms. Dole any remaining stuffing out among the mushrooms. Place the pan in the hot oven and bake for seventeen minutes.

December 7, 2018


Turkey lastsÉand lasts. Thanksgiving turkey turned out great. Even with four growing grandsons, there were leftovers. Turkey dinner all over again was great the next day. Leftover turkey just kept on coming. The last of the leftovers became a delicious meatloaf. Here's how. You might want to try this recipe when your next holiday dinner is still hanging on when the next holiday demands space in your refrigerator. Even with most of the meat gone, a turkey platter takes up a lot of refrigerator real estate. Evict it.


2 cups leftover turkey meat

1 cup leftover stuffing

salt and pepper

2 egg yolks

½ cup milk


Preheat the oven to 400”F. Butter or oil your meatloaf dish. Set aside.


Harvest the turkey meat from the bones using a sharp knife. Chop the meat or mince it in a food processor. Mix the stuffing in. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the milk. Mix that into the turkey and stuffing preparation. Put the mixture into the prepared meatloaf pan. Form it into a little brick with a fork.


Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with your favorite condiments.


November 30, 2018


They won't forget the gift they use every day. A well-chosen gift can make you someone's hero all year long. The foodies on your list will treasure The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. They'll discover easy affordable dinners for everyday inside. Meatloaf or pork chili brighten the dreariest day. They'll love the special ones for company dinners. Special occasions call for fancy entrŽes like Filet Mignon Stuffed with Bleu Cheese or Bacon-Wrapped Crab-Stuffed Shrimp. The bonus Champagne Brunch section makes Sunday mornings a treat for the whole family—or just for two. Eggs Benedict and Crustless Crab Quiche are sure winners.

Cooking well should be as much fun as eating well. Preparing the world's moistest chicken requires them to "Open beer. Drink half." There's a recipe for Pregnant Turkey just for fun. Their guests will ask for Two-Paws-Up Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms Diablo by name. Read an excerpt on-line and then order yours today. Personalized author autographs available.

November 23, 2018


Stuffing is a natural with poultry. You can stuff a whole bird. You can even stuff boneless skinless chicken breasts, but be careful. Free of skin and fat, they tend to dry out in the oven. Moisture is essential to a tasty chicken breast. HereÕs a recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook that delivers a flavorful chicken breast with an exotic stuffing.

5 tbsp butter or margarine

½ pound mushrooms chopped fine

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1½ cups breadcrumbs

¼ tsp nutmeg

4 chicken breasts

½ cup chicken broth or bouillon

½ cup heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350”F. Grease a glass baking dish with butter or margarine.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until the mushrooms absorb the butter and turn dark.

While the mushrooms are cooking, flatten the chicken breasts to ¼" thickness. Cover each one with wax paper and beat it with a meat mallet. No mallet? Use a rolling pin. No rolling pin? A 750 ml wine bottle will do. Set the flattened breasts aside.

When the mushrooms are done, remove them from the heat. Stir in half the breadcrumbs and the nutmeg.

Lay the flattened chicken breasts skin side down on a board. Place a bit of the mushroom stuffing in the center of each. Fold the chicken around the stuffing and place seam-down in a buttered baking dish. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter or margarine and pour it over the chicken. Sprinkle the other half of the breadcrumbs over them and pour on the broth and the cream. Bake for 30 minutes.


November 16, 2018


Wish you had one more oven for the holiday dinner? There's one right outside. It's the barbecue. I'll smoke my turkey on my komodo cooker again this year. Don't have a komodo grill or a smoker? Ant grill large enough to hold the turkey can do it. Yes, you can smoke a whole turkey on a standard size grill—here's how. A little extra time and effort delivers a special taste sensation. For a traditional turkey, just omit the wood chips.

Turkey is the classic Thanksgiving favorite. A turkey is a big bird. That usually means lots of people and lots of pressure. The turkey is the long lead item in almost any dinner, so start it first. Figure 20 minutes per pound cooking time in your meal planning. Once itÕs started, you can move on to the rest of dinner, and just tend to the turkey once every half hour or so. Many turkeys come home from the grocery store frozen. Be sure yours is thoroughly defrosted before starting to cook it.

Smoke the bird on the grill, but monitor its temperature. If dinner is an hour away and the turkey doesnÕt look like it will be ready, pop it in the oven at 350”F to finish cooking it. (I only had to do this one time—when it rained on the grill all afternoon.) YouÕll get that great smoky flavor and aroma, and have it on your schedule.

Wood chips or chunks

1 turkey, defrosted if frozen

¼ lb butter or margarine

¼ cup white wine

Garlic salt

Black pepper


Soak two handfuls of wood chips or chunks in water. Apple, or peach work well with poultry. Prepare the grill for smoking.

Clean the grill. Light a charcoal pyramid with a six briquette by four briquette base.

While the fire is getting ready, lay the turkey breast side up on a board. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck. Melt the butter or margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in the wine, the garlic salt and the pepper. Set aside.

When the coals are ashed over, about half an hour, use a shovel or a trowel to move the coals into two fires: one along each side of the grill. Top each of the fires with a half dozen new briquettes. DonÕt use the easy light kind. Place an aluminum foil drip pan full of water between the two fires. Add about a 1/2" of water to the drip pan.

Scatter the soaked chips or chunks over the fires, lay the turkey in the center of the grill. If the bird is small enough you will be able to turn it in the middle of cooking, lay the turkey breast side down. If itÕs too big, lay it breast side up, and cover the breast with foil. Baste the bird with the butter/wine mixture, and close the grill cover.

Soak more wood chips or chunks. Baste and add chips every half hour. Chunks will last an hour or more. Halfway through cooking, turn the bird over or remove the foil. Cook until an instant-read thermometer shows a temperature of 165”F for the thighs. Remove from the grill and let rest fifteen minutes.


November 9, 2018


Traditional Chinese cooking delivers Champagne taste on a beer budget. Delicious vegetables and tangy sauces create exotic taste sensations. Less meat lowers the cost. Many wonderful Chinese dishes can be imitated using ingredients available in regular grocery stores. Here flour tortillas substitute for traditional Chinese pancakes.


HereÕs a recipe that stretches a single pork chop to feed four. It works well for the entire family. It was my sonÕs favorites at three. It still is for over thirty years later.


1+ lb green cabbage (1 small head or ½ a large head)

2 carrots

1 boneless pork chop

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion

½ lb mushrooms

1 clove garlic minced

½ tsp ginger

1 bunch green onions

¼ cup sherry, white wine or apple juice

2 tsp cornstarch

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

8 flour tortillas—7 inch

2 tbsp Hoisin sauce


Quarter the cabbage. Remove the hard core. Then slice the rest into thin shreds,


Peel the carrots. Then shred them through coarse grater holes. Set aside.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cut the onion in half and then slice it thick. Add the onions to the frying pan. Slice and add the mushrooms.  Cut the pork chop into thin strips. Add them to the pan. Stir and cook the mixture for 2 minutes.


Stir in the garlic, the ginger, the sliced cabbage and the carrots to the frying pan. Slice and add the green onions. Cook—stirring occasionally—for 5 to 6 minutes. The pork should be cooked through.


Combine the liquid and the cornstarch in a container with a lid. Shake to blend and add to the pan. Add the soy sauce and the sesame sauce. Cook until the mixture thickens—about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.


Heat a second frying pan over medium heat. Add a tortilla and heat to warm. Flip it over and repeat. Spread ½ teaspoon of Hoisin sauce on the warm tortilla. Spread a few tablespoons of the pork mixture on top and roll the tortilla around it. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.


Note: this goes faster if you heat the tortillas two at a time is faster. Stack two in the frying pan and heat. Flip the stack over and continue. Shuffle the stack and repeat


Serve with extra soy sauce.


October 26, 2018


Give your next chicken dinner a French gourmet touch without the hours in the kitchen that usually implies. No need to confess this dish didn't take nearly as long as it tastes like. Let the mushrooms and the red wine speak for you.  Cook a selection of chicken parts your guests love. Everybody wants a leg? Fine. Drumsticks all around. Nobody wants a leg? Fine. Chicken breasts tonight. Cook everyone's favorite, and stimulate mealtime conversation beyond "What's for dessert?"


2 lb chicken parts—bone in & skin on

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup flour

1½ tbsp oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

¼ cup chopped green onions

2 tsp ketchup

½ cup red wine

½ cup chicken bouillon

¼ lb sliced mushrooms

½ tsp marjoram


Season the chicken parts on both sides with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour or shake them with the flour in a bag.


Melt the oil and the butter or margarine over medium heat in a stockpot or a Dutch oven big enough to all the ingredients. Brown the chicken parts in the hot oil—about 5 minutes per side. Set them aside.


Add the chopped onions and sautŽ them with occasional stirring for 5 minutes. Add the ketchup and cook 1 more minute. Add the wine, raise the temperature to high, and boil until reduced by half.


Return the chicken pieces to the pot along with the bouillon and the mushrooms. Drop the heat to low. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.


Sprinkle with marjoram and serve.


October 19, 2018


Cut the carbs. Keep the flavor. Cutting carbs? Missing taste? Try substituting cauliflower for potatoes in your favorite dinners. It takes six cups of cauliflower to match the carbs in one potato. Here's a low carb revision of an old favorite that turned out great.


1 head cauliflower

4 carrots

1 large onion

Garlic salt

2 tbsp olive oil

3 lb pork roast



Preheat the oven to 450”F.

Spray the roasting pan with a light coating of oil.

Break the cauliflower up into florets an inch or so across. Peel the carrots and cut into 1" lengths. Cut the onion into 1" cubes. Add then all to the roasting pan. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Drizzle with olive oil, and stir to coat the vegetables. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, sprinkle the roast with garlic salt and pepper. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir the vegetables. You may have to scrape the pan to remove them. Clear a space in the center of the pan. Put the roast there, and nestle the vegetables around it.

Return to the oven and cook at 450”F for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350”F and cook until an instant read thermometer indicates the roast has reached 145 to 150”F—60 minutes or more depending on the size of the roast. Move the meat to a warm platter and let it rest for 10 minutes.

If the vegetables arenÕt done enough, stir them and return them to the oven. Raise the temperature back to 450”F and cook for up to 10 more minutes.



October 12, 2018


A quesadilla is a quick and tasty Mexican snack. Like any sandwich, a quesadilla is as healthy and tasty as the things you put in it. You'll find many traditional quesadillas on the menu at any good Mexican restaurant. Enjoy them all.


No need to stick to conventions at home. Try stuffing your next home-cooked quesadilla your way. Here's one that worked well. Spinach is always good and good for you. The taste of crab adds a nice touch, and almost no one is allergic to imitation crab.


1 tbsp olive oil

½ onion sliced thin

½ bunch spinach

½ lb imitation crabmeat

4 8" flour tortillas

1 cup shredded cheddar and/or jack cheese


Wash and remove the stems from the spinach. Chop the leaves up a bit. Set aside


Warm the oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the onions and cook with stirring for 3 minutes. Stir the spinach in and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat.


Dice the crabmeat and blend it into the onion mix.


Place a tortilla on your working surface. Spread 2 tbsp of cheese over half of it. Cover that with a quarter of the crab and onion combination. Top with another 2 tbsp of cheese. Fold the tortilla over all that. Set your first quesadilla aside and repeat the process to make three more. Toast them two-at-a-time in a clean frying pan over medium low heat. This should take about a minute on each side.


Serve warm with salsa.


October 5, 2018


Mushroom omelet teams well with champagne. Here's an old classic recipe my mother used to make. I don't remember any champagne, but the omelet brings back memories. We kids always knew when it was coming. Mom was frugal—like all the children of the Depression. Her wonderful meatloaf took half a can of mushroom soup. A dinner of meatloaf meant a breakfast of mushroom omelet. The apple didn't fall far from the tree on that score. Midweek meatloaf caused this Sunday morning mushroom omelet.

6 eggs

½ can cream of mushroom soup

2 green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Swiss cheese, sliced


Lubricate a large frying pan with a little butter, margarine or bacon grease and preheat over a medium flame.

Beat the eggs, soup, onions, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the mixture to the pan and cook until it begins to gel. Lay the cheese slices on top and fold the cooked egg over them. Continue cooking a few more minutes.

September 28, 2018


Is it time to retire the barbecue until next year? Many will retreat indoors until the robins return. Barbecue enthusiasts will carry on. A few diehard relatives back east will shovel a path through two feet of snow to their grills. A lot of kettles and a lot of chefs don't cook well in rain or snow or sleet. Each drop that sizzles when it hits the cover robs heat from the meat. Insulated barbecues like the Big Green Egg and its knock offs are immune to weather. They keep their heat in and cook like it's July. Dinner arrives warm and dry. The cook maybe not so much. The true aficionado can enjoy treats like beer can chicken all year round.

The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook Shows how the rest of us can enjoy beer can chicken too. The book translates the traditional barbecue recipe for a traditional or convection oven. Try this recipe the next time you're missing summer. A can of beer boiling inside it keeps the chicken moist. The skin comes out crisp and the meat doesn't dry out. It isnÕt smoky when cooked indoors, so add a few drops of liquid smoke to the beer and enjoy that great smoked chicken flavor any ways.


1 12-ounce can beer

Dash cayenne pepper

½ tbsp paprika

¼ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ tbsp brown sugar

1 3-lb chicken

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 green onions

2 cloves garlic

Liquid smoke


Open the beer. Drink half. Remove all racks but the bottom one from the oven. Preheat it as appropriate—375”F for a conventional oven or 325”F for a convection oven

Combine the seasonings and the sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Remove the extra goodies from the body cavity and trim the excess fat out of the chicken. Rinse it inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle salt, pepper and the seasoning mix inside the bird. Salt and pepper the chicken skin.

Remove the pull-tab from the half-full beer, and open another large hole with a church key. Pour the rest of the seasoning mix into the can and add the onions and garlic. Add a few drops of liquid smoke for that outdoor flavor. Slide the beer can up into the chickenÕs body cavity. Keeping the can upright, pull the chickenÕs legs forward until it can stand on its own two feet (plus the can.)

Stand the chicken up on a broiler pan in the oven. Cook until brown and cooked through, about an hour in a convection oven or 1½ hour for conventional cooking. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest five minutes.

Remember the beer is still scalding hot. Be careful sliding the chicken off the can.

September 21, 2018


Vegetarian mushrooms bring out the best in beef. It's just one of many great side dish recipes you'll find in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook along with tasty main dishes. Marrying mushrooms and red wine creates a great main dish for vegetarian guests, or a special side dish for the rest of us. The vegetarian guest is optional. Serve this dish at any meal. These vegetarian mushrooms complement beef, Coq au Vin, and anything else youÕd serve with a rich red wine. Your guests will love it.


1 lb fresh mushrooms

2 medium bell peppers

1 onion

½ cup butter or margarine




2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

½ cup brown sugar

¾ cup red table wine

Fresh ground pepper

Seasoned salt


Wash the mushrooms and cut each one in half. Wash and seed the peppers. Cut them into 1-inch squares. Peel and chop the onion. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sautŽ the onion in it until translucent.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the sauce: Mix the mustard, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce together until itÕs a smooth paste. Add the wine, season with lots of fresh ground black pepper and a little seasoned salt. Stir well.

When the onion is clear, add the mushrooms and peppers to the pan. SautŽ, stirring often, until the mushrooms begin to brown and reduce in size. Add the wine sauce.

Simmer the mixture over medium heat until the sauce is much reduced and thickened, about 45 minutes.


September 14, 2018


Some mornings, nothing but Mexican will do. Here's a frittata to satisfy that craving. It's pretty enough to grace the finest breakfast table. It offers the full complement of seasonings that make Mexican cuisine Mexican. The whole family will love this dish. It's not too hot for your gringo guests, but a spoonful of salsa can adjust that for the hard core. Serve this Mexican frittata on a special morning soon.


½ lb chorizo

2 garlic cloves

½ onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

2 bell peppers—mixed colors dress the dish up

½ tsp oregano

8 eggs

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese


Fry the chorizo sausage in a small frying pan. Drain any excess fat and set it aside. While that's cooking, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil and melt the butter or margarine in a large broiler safe skillet over medium heat.


Stir the onion and garlic into the hot pan and sautŽ them for 2 to 3 minutes. Chop the peppers while that's cooking, then add them and the oregano to the pan. Cook 5 to 6 more minutes stirring once in a while.


Prepare the egg mixture while the peppers are cooking. Whisk the eggs, salt and pepper with 2 tbsp of water. Set aside. Preheat the broiler.


Stir the precooked sausage into the vegetable mix and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Pause to let the eggs begin to set up. Then start pushing the mixture toward the center of the pan. Continue until the eggs are almost set--4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil 2 to 3 minutes.


September 7, 2018


The time for comfort food is fast approaching. My grandsons jumped the gun. They requested pork chili for Labor Day dinner. I obliged with this recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Chili is one of the great comfort foods. You'll find many more in the complete cookbook.

Pork is a budget saver. Pork chili is doubly so. No need for the best of the pig if it's going to slow cook all day.  Pork sirloin or another inexpensive pork roast makes a great chili. The whole family will love it.

2 lb boneless pork

Vegetable oil

1 onion

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

2 cups frozen corn

1 can black beans

1 tsp or cube beef bouillon

1 can (8oz) chopped green peppers

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp minced garlic

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp black pepper

1 cup burgundy



Cheddar cheese

Sour cream


Cut the pork into 1½" cubes. Fry over medium heat in a dab of cooking oil. Stir and brown on all sides—about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker leaving the fat and oil in the frying pan.

Chop the onion, and add to the frying pan. Stir scrapping the bottom of the pan to capture all the meat-browning residue. Cook until the onions turn soft and brown—about 5 more minutes. Pour the contents of the pan over the meat in the slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, beans, bouillon, peppers, chili powder, garlic, salt, cayenne, pepper and burgundy.

Cover and cook on low (200”F) for 6 hours or longer.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream if you like.


August 31, 2018


Onion soup chicken—something different for dinner. Follow this recipe for chicken breasts in an onion sauce reminiscent of French onion soup. Or add lots more onions and broth to create French onion soup with chicken croutons. Either way: the essence of onion soup makes dinner a winner.


Olive oil

2 large onions or 4 medium ones

Kosher salt

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts


½ tsp thyme

½ tsp sage

2 tbsp flour

2 cups beef bouillon

1 cup grated Swiss cheese


Slice the onions thin. A mandoline works well for this step. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or pan. Add the sliced onions to the hot pan and season them with salt. Stir occasionally until the onions are caramelized. This takes about 20 minutes. Don't rush it. Stit the balsamic vinegar into the onions and cook  5 more minutes. Remove the onions and set them aside.


Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and reheat it. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, thyme and sage. Put the seasoned breasts in the hot pan and brown them well on both sides. While they're cooking, preheat the oven to 350”F. Remove the chicken breasts when they are brown and set them aside.


Stir the flour into the fat in the pan. Add the beef bouillon into the mixture scrapping to include the brown bits on the bottom. Bring the mixture to a boil, then drop the temperature to medium low and cook 5-7 minutes until it turns into gravy.


Return the reserved chicken breasts to the pot. Slather some of the gravy over them. Pile the reserved caramelized onions on top. Then top with grated Swiss cheese. Put it in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through—some 3-5 minutes.


August 24, 2018


Vegetables say "cheese" when they smile. They know cheese sauce complements their good looks and great taste. A healthy vegetable can still be healthy with a healthy cheese sauce on it. You don't have to tell your kids—or your guests—they're eating healthy. Go ahead and feign guilt if it will get them to come back for seconds. Here's a simple low-carb cheeses sauce that's as tasty as its less healthy cousins.


¾ cup heavy crme

cup water

1½ cup grated cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

½ tsp paprika


Combine all the ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Stir until the sauce is smooth. Spoon over broccoli, cauliflower, or other tasty vegetable.


August 17, 2018


The kitchen has been cool all week. Smoking a ham on the grill over the weekend provided a week's worth of main dishes. Quick side dishes completed dinners without heating the kitchen up. Ham is a crowd pleaser. Half or whole, a ham is big enough to feed your gang for days. It dresses up well for a Sunday dinner or a company event. When the meat is finally gone, thereÕs still a batch of comfort food in the bone.  Stash it in the freezer for the cooler weather ahead. A batch of split pea or ten-bean soup will go great on a blustery day.

Hams ranging from good to great are available everywhere. Grocery stores hams are tender and juicy. Traditional Southern hams are even better. Their aroma attracts a crowd. Their strong smoky flavor doesnÕt disappoint.  Country hams are available in out-of-the-way places throughout the South. If youÕre lucky enough to find one, you wonÕt settle for grocery store ham again. With a little effort, you can give that beer budget ham champagne taste. A few hours of smoking is all it takes. Start with a whole or half ham and add a couple of hours of hickory smoke for a great taste sensation. (Avoid pre-sliced hams. They tend to shrivel up and turn ugly when smoked.)


Half or whole ham

Hickory wood chips or chunks


½ cup pancake syrup

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp dry mustard


If you are using wood chips, soak one or two handfuls of wood chips in water. Set aside.

Prepare to smoke the ham. A smoker works best, but an ordinary barbecue grill with a cover can be configured as a smoker. HereÕs how. Clean the grill. Light a charcoal pyramid with a six briquette by four-briquette base. Wait a half hour until the coals are ashed over. Use a shovel or a trowel to move the coals into two fires: one along each side of the grill. Add a half dozen more briquettes on top of each fire. DonÕt use fast lighting charcoal here, or your ham will taste like lighter fluid. Place an aluminum foil drip pan full of water between the two fires. Add about a ½" of water

While your smoker is heating, use a sharp knife to cross hatch the fat of the ham in a diamond pattern. Decorate with cloves in the centers of each diamond. This will make a presentation fit for your most discerning guests.

Scatter the soaked chips or chunks over the fires, put the ham in the center of the grill, and close the grill cover. Soak some more wood chips and add some every half hour. Chunks last longer. Add more chunks when the smoke dies down.

While the ham is cooking, mix the syrup, the sugar, and the mustard. After the ham has cooked 2 hours, add the final batch of wood pieces. Baste the ham with the syrup mixture, and smoke another half hour.


August 10, 2018


Temperatures are rising; shrimp prices are dropping. Time to throw a few shrimp on the barby. A plate of shrimp can turn any night into date night. Dress them up with bacon and crab meat for a dish worthy of a first date or dinner with your new boss.

Shrimp look like bugs, creepy crawly bugs. Crabs aren't a whole lot prettier. They both look like something straight out of a 50s horror flick. Imagine how hungry the first guy to eat one of them must have been. We owe him a debt of gratitude. Shrimp may be ugly, but they taste beautiful.

Hard to improve on a taste like that. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook adds crabmeat stuffing to go from good to great. A bacon wrap keeps the shrimp juicy while it grills. This dish is truly something special.

Oxymoron or not, use the jumbo shrimp for this recipe. ThereÕs a fair amount of hand labor for each shrimp. Preparing a lot of small ones would be tedious. Little ones fall through the cracks and they don't grill well any ways.

Do de-vein your shrimp. "Vein" is a euphemism for a part you wouldn't want to eat. Slice each shrimp down the midline of its back with a sharp paring knife. Remove and discard the dark tube running the length of the shrimp body.

To butterfly the shrimp, lay it on its back, and cut almost through to the other side. When you are done, the shrimp should open like a book, ready to accept a generous portion of crabmeat stuffing.

2 lb #6-8 shrimp

¼ cup melted butter or margarine

¼ lb crab—imitation is okay

1 small onion or 2 green onions

1 stalk celery

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 tsp dry mustard

1 lb thin sliced bacon

Wooden toothpicks


Light a pyramid of charcoal briquettes with a four by four base. Prepare the shrimp while waiting for the briquettes to ash over.

Clean, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp. Set them aside.

Prepare the crab stuffing. Chop the crab, onion and celery fine—a food processor works well for this. Mix with the breadcrumbs, the egg, salt, cayenne pepper and mustard. Add the melted butter and mix well.

Assemble the bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. Drape a strip of bacon diagonally across your palm. Cross the bacon with one of the shrimp—cut side up and opened flat. Place a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing on the shrimp and form it into a little log. Wrap the ends of the bacon strip to cover the stuffing. Secure the whole thing with a couple of toothpicks through the bacon and the body of the shrimp. Set aside and repeat until you run out of shrimp.

Spread the burning coals into a two briquette high layer using a shovel or a trowel. Place the shrimp on a grill screen. Broil until just done—about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second. Do not overcook.

August 3, 2018

#Back to School

Why are starving students starving?


The number one reason is that they can't afford food. College costs have skyrocketed. Faculty members are paid too much to teach too little. Harvard reportedly paid Elizabeth Warren over $300k to teach one course. (That's $15k/student for the course. Remember a full-time student takes six classes each semester.) Textbooks have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. My father's calculus book cost $1.15; mine cost $15; my son's cost $150. The content hasn't changed in five hundred years. Heap the high cost of everyday living on top of this, and crushing student debt is no surprise. No wonder students can't afford to eat.


The number two reason is that they don't know how to cook for themselves. Restaurants are prohibitive, but home cooking is scary. Is there life beyond Top Ramen and beer? This doesn't taste like Mom's used to. How hot should I boil water? If I call Mom one more time, will she FedEx me cookies? Cooking isn't all that hard once the student gets the hang of it. Home cooking is cheaper and healthier than most alternatives. It can even be a relaxing alternative to memorizing all those long Latin names for personality disorders.


Send your student back to school with a copy of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. It combats the top two reasons for student starvation. It presents affordable recipes—most of them are easy to prepare. There are a few more challenging ones the student can grow into. No need to outgrow this workbook. The light and humorous presentation makes this book a pleasant alternative to the drudgery of those required courses. Your student will treasure the gift of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook all through school and long after.


July 27, 2018


Peppers and onions spice up a weeknight pork chop dinner. Any bell pepper smells and tastes great in this simple recipe. Try some red, yellow or orange ones to add a splash of color to dinner any night.


4 pork chops

Salt, pepper and rosemary

1 onion

2 bell peppers

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Flip and cook 4 minutes more.

While the meat is cooking, peel and slice the onion. Stem, seed and slice the peppers. Dice the garlic cloves. When the pork chops are finished, add a little more vegetable oil and the onions. Cook about 2 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the peppers, the garlic and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the peppers are tender.

Serve the pork chops smothered in the pepper mixture.

July 20, 2018


But what are you going to serve the grown ups? Hamburgers and hot dogs are great for the kids. They save time. They save money. And the kids prefer them.What about the grown ups? They may be looking for something a little more exotic. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook Offers a lot of great barbecue ideas for the grown up palate.Here's one. Lemon-pepper chicken comes off the grill looking like a million bucks. The aroma and the taste live up to the promise of its good looks. It's another restraunt quality dinner without the quality restaurant cost.


3 to 4 lb chicken

1½ tbsp black pepper

¾ cup lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1¼ tsp salt

3 cloves garlic


Cut the chicken in half with a heavy knife or meat cleaver. Remove the backbone or not. Rub 1 tablespoon of black pepper over the chickenÕs skin. Place both halves in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag.


Add ½ cup of lemon juice, the lemon zest, the red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of salt to the bag. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of the knife or cleaver and add them to the bag. Seal it and massage the bag briefly to mix the marinade. Refrigerate 2 hours or longer turning at least once.

Mix the remaining ¼ cup of lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ tablespoon of black pepper. Set aside.


Prepare the grill for direct grilling. Remove the marinated chicken from the bag. Discard the marinade. When the fire is hot, lay both halves skin side down over the coals. Brown for 10 minutes. Flip the halves over and cook about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the dark meat reaches 165. Pour the reserved lemon mixture over the chicken halves. Flip them over and brown for 5 more minutes.


Serve hot.


July 13, 2018


Exotic fruits beckon from the grocer's shelf. Pineapple is in season. The price is right. Shoppers may be tempted to take one home—even if they're not sure what to do with it. YouTube offers several different ways of preparing golden chunks from the whole pineapple. But what about those pineaple rings that come in cans?  Preparing those at home can be messy, but a pineapple corer does almost as well. Run it down the center of the pineapple and pull a long spiral of fruit out. Pineapple tastes great any way you slice it. It's a versatile tropical fruit—a welcome addition to any course of any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner; appetizer, side dish or dessert. Alone or mixed with other fruits, pineapple is a healthy treat.


Pineapple evolved in the hot tropical regions of South America. By the time Columbus arrived, pineapple was part of Native American agriculture and commerce. Pineapple was one of the New World treasures Columbus brought back from his first expedition. The fruit reminded him of the cones from pine trees, so he named it pine of India. The name stuck and morphed into todayÕs name pineapple. Pineapples were an immediate hit in Europe both as table decorations and as delicacies. The pineapple was a tropical plant and didnÕt grow well in the more moderate European climate. Greenhouses were required, but those were expensive, so only the rich could afford pineapple then. Modern transportation imports pineapple from ideal growing areas at reasonable costs. Today, everyone can enjoy pineapple. ItÕs great plain or fancy.


Grilling takes the frui in a delicious new direction. Grilled pineapple slices offer a great presentation for an appetizer or a main dish. (Add a scoop of ice cream for dessert.) Use slices from the fruit or from a can. Canned are faster and keep in your pantry until an occasion arises. Pineapple chunks taste just as good. Skewer them—solo or in concert—for a welcome addition to any table. Enjoy.


4 slices of pineapple

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp rum


Lay the pineapple in the bottom of a shallow dish or pan. Sprinkle the pineapple with sugar and rum. Let sit an hour—turning once.


Grill over a direct barbecue fire 5 minutes on each side. (A grill basket works well for this step.) Remove the pineapple from the fire and serve.


July 6, 2018


Healthy and tasty: once you try spinach quiche, you will look for opportunities to serve it again and again. It's easy to fix. A selection of dairy products rounds out the health benefits of the spinach. Bacon bits compliment its taste. You're going to dice the bacon to smithereens. You don't need to use the glamorous strips for bacon bits. Orphans and end pieces fry up just as tasty as their fashion model cousins.  Treat yourself to this spinach quiche this weekend.

4 strips of bacon

½ bunch of spinach

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

¼ cup flour

1 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt

4 drops Tabasco sauce

2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded


Fry the bacon. While it's cooking, preheat oven to 350”F. Wash the spinach, remove the stems and chop it into small pieces. Put it in a colander to drain. When the bacon is done, drain it on a paper towel.. Set the bacon and the spinach aside.

Put the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour, onion powder, salt and Tabasco sauce in a blender or food processor. Blend to mix the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, and the Swiss cheese. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the liquid. Coat the sides of a 9 or 10" porcelain quiche dish or 9½" deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Pour the mixture in and bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Quiche should be puffed and golden brown.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.


June 29, 2018


Once exclusive to the tables of Russian aristocracy, beef stroganoff survived the fall of the Tsar. It spread from Russia to China, and then beyond to the rest of the world. Today, variations on the theme of beef in sour cream are served in upscale eating establishments everywhere. Simple and affordable renditions like this one can be the focus on a special dinner. Enjoy quality restaurant menus without restaurant quality cost. Make this dish for your next special occasion.


Find more great main dish suggestions in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook


1½ lb sirloin steak

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

½ onion chopped

¼ lb mushrooms sliced

¼ cup red wine

1 cup beef broth or bouillon

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 cup sour cream


Cut the steak into ¼" strips about 2" long. Salt and pepper both sides of the meat.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When it is hot, brown the meat in batches 1 minute on each side. Set the meat aside and keep it warm.


Melt the butter or margarine in the same pan. Add the chopped onions and cook them for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook the mixture 10 minutes more—stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook 5 minutes, and then the beef bouillon for another 10 minutes. This should leave the vegetables in a thick sauce. Stir the mustard and the meat with its juices into the mixture.


Drop the temperature to low. Blend the sour cream in and warm the dish for 3 minutes or so. Adjust the level of salt and pepper.


June 22, 2018


Star in picnics this summer. The way to their hearts is through their stomachs. Neighbors or lovers: that works over the backyard fence, or across a candle lit table. Bring this three-bean dish from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook to your next neighborhood soiree. They'll ask you back again and again. Oh, and can you bring enough beans for everybody? Don't plan on bringing home leftovers.


You can make this three-bean pot with canned beans, but canned white lima beans were hard to find. Dry beans are always available. As long as you are going to cook those up, you might as well do the kidney beans right along with them. The homemade beans are better. And making them at home avoids the problem of the ever-shrinking one-pound can. (At this writing, the one-pound can is down to 14.5 ounces—9% short. The two-pound can is only 28 ounces—12.5% light. Look for even lighter cans coming soon to a supermarket near you.)


Use baked beans from the can. Traditional baked beans are cooked 24 hours. That was practical when the stove stayed on 24 hours a day to heat the house. Running your oven for 24 hours for one batch of beans is impractical. Leave baked bean baking to the pros.


Canned or from scratch, you can do it either way.


1 cup dry lima beans or 2 1 lb cans of white lima beans

1 cup dry kidney beans or 2 1 lb cans of kidney beans

1 lb bacon

1 large onion chopped

1 large kielbasa sausage link—sliced

1 2 lb can baked beans

⅔ cup catsup

⅔ cup brown sugar

1 tsp dry mustard


If making the beans from scratch, place the lima beans and the kidney beans in a large bowl and cover with at least 6 cups of water. Let stand overnight. Drain and wash the beans in a colander.

IÕve read thereÕs a faster way to soak the beans. Put them in water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil to two minutes. Let sit in that water for 2 hours, then drain and rinse the beans before proceeding. IÕve never tried that method, but if youÕre short on time, you might give it a try.


Place the soaked beans in a soup pot and cover them with salted water. Cook 1 hour.


Meanwhile, fry the bacon and drain it well. Chop the onion and slice the kielbasa while you are waiting. A mandoline works well for this. Pour off most of the bacon drippings, and then stir-fry the onion and kielbasa until lightly browned.


Put all three kinds of beans, the catsup, brown sugar and mustard in a large pot. Add the fried onion and sausage mixture. (Crumble the bacon and add it now or hold it until the end.) Bring the mixture to a boil on high, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour.


Serve with crumbled bacon on top if not added earlier.


June 15, 2018


Father's Day is Dad's day to shine. Memorial Day is past, and grilling season is in high gear. Dad can do a lot more than hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, he can show off with a batch of Mushrooms Diablo. The DevilÕs own mushrooms: not for the faint of heart as the name implies. This mushroom dish was born in a grill wok over a charcoal fire. It got raves from every guest who tasted it. Dad's dinner will too. ItÕs going to be hot tonight.


Like many recipes in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, Mushrooms Diablo is a dish youÕll want to serve year round. It translated well into the kitchen so you can ignore the weatherman, and enjoy his dish any time of the year.


1 lb mushrooms—quartered

3 tbsp soy sauce

¼ cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil

½ onion—sliced thick

2 cloves garlic—minced

1 cup Pico de Gallo salsa

¼ cup nacho-sliced jalape–os

Salt and pepper


Marinate the mushrooms in the soy sauce and ¼ cup of olive oil.


Place the onions and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and stir to coat them. Heat a grill wok over a direct fire. Add the onions and garlic to the hot wok. Stir avoiding the flames that shoot up at the start. Cook until the onions are soft. Then add the marinated mushrooms to the grill wok. Stir-fry 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.


Stir in the salsa and the jalapenos. Add salt and pepper to taste.


June 8, 2018


Grooms can cook too. But can he cook as well as his bride's mother? The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook gives him a chance. The book presents dozens of great ways to spoil his bride. They're fast and affordable, and they don't involve oddball ingredients he won't know where to buy. Pork filet mignon or steak Oskar can blow his bride away. Spaghetti Stroganoff or paella feeds the whole gang when his in-laws drop in. How about a side of gazpacho or two-paws-up Brussels sprouts?


Let the groom spread his wings and cook outdoors. Beer-can chicken cooks out there on the grill—weather permitting. So does the young couple's first holiday ham or turkey. The entire dinner can come from the barbecue. Asparagus, grapefruit, and pineapple all grill to perfection beside the main dish. The gourmet groom can do more than just dogs, burgers, or steaks with the cookbook you give him.


The groom will delight his bride with surprises like eggs Benedict or stuffed mushrooms. He can bask in her hugs and bank some atta-boys for a rainy day. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook is a valuable addition to a new couple's kitchen. Be the one to give them a copy.


June 1, 2018


The first home-cooked meal shouldn't end the honeymoon. A bride's first dinner is the stuff of corny jokes and country songs. It doesn't have to be that way. Get the couple started off right with their own copy of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. It offers a selection of tasty recipes—like his mother used to makeÉor better. Dinner is made from ingredients that fit a newlywed budget. There are no mad dashes to the grocery store: dinner is made from things found in every starter pantry. Most recipes are fast, easy and foolproof. And they're fun.


Cooking well ought to be as much fun as eating well. The first step in making beer can chicken is "open beer, drink half." For Valentine's Day, start with "marinate significant other, set aside." The text is peppered with food quotes from luminaries from George Carlin to Popeye. An unstressed cook sets a happy table.


Every night is date night when you're on your honeymoon. Romantic dinners don't have to be difficult or expensive. The book offers restaurant quality dinners without the quality restaurant prices. Pork filet mignon is easy and affordable. So are chicken parmesan and bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. A simple tomato bisque would be a great start to many a special dinner.


Brunch is the perfect finale to a date night dinner. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook makes some great suggestions there. Try crustless crab quiche or faux lox to start the new day off right. How about the morning after the night before brunch? The recipe is in there.


This cookbook will be a family treasure long after the honeymoon is over. There are more great recipes for everyday cooking. Paella, ham or turkey can feed a crowd when the in-laws visit. Meatloaf, pot roast, and pasta are everyday favorites. Vegetables to accompany those delicious main dishes aren't reminiscent of the cafeteria steam table. The cookbook offers great alternative presentations.


The bride and groom will eat well now and for years to come with your gift of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook.


May 25, 2018


Plain or fancy, pork chops are the start of many a great meal. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers a selection of delicious and affordable pork chop main dishes. Treat yourself to one of them soon.


SautŽed peppers and onions spruce everyday pork chops up. Start with pan-fried pork chops. For a basic dinner, just cook the chops following the first step in this recipe and serve. To dress them up, add the pepper medley. Or go all the way: add a little color; make one of the bell peppers red.


4 pork chops

Salt, pepper and rosemary

Cooking oil

1 onion

2 bell peppers

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes—longer for extra thick chops. Flip and cook 4 minutes more. Stop there for a fine pan-fried pork chop meal.


While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop the onion. Stem, seed and chop the peppers. When the pork chops are finished, add a little more vegetable oil and the onions. Cook about 2 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the peppers, the garlic and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the peppers are tender.


Serve the pork chops smothered in the pepper mixture.


May 18, 2018


Chicken parmesan is an imitation Italian dish popular in America and Australia, but not in Italy. Like its veal and eggplant cousins: if chicken parmesan isn't Italian, it ought to be. It combines parmesan and mozzarella cheeses with a hearty tomato sauce to deliver a delicious Italian taste. For another great Italian-style taste, try Chicken Parmesan from my The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. That recipe includes parmesan cheese and spinach to create a Florentine themed chicken dish. Both are delicious. 


2 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe follows)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper


1 egg—beaten

Grated parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil

1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Italian seasoning (optional)


Prepare the tomato sauce.


Preheat a frying pan over medium low heat. Preheat the oven to 400”F

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously. Flatten them to 1/4" thickness. Cover each with wax paper and beat it with a meat mallet. No mallet? Use a rolling pin. No rolling pin? A 750 ml wine bottle will do. Sprinkle both sides of each breast with flour, salt and pepper.

Set up a dredging production line with flour, then beaten egg, and finally Parmesan.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the heated pan. Dredge the first breast through the line. Add it to the pan smooth side down. Brown it on both sides and cook until just done—5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second.. Spread two ½ cup spots of the basic red sauce on the bottom of a 9"x13" glass baking dish. Lay the first cooked breast on top of one. Dredge and cook the second breast the same way. Lay it on the spot beside the first.

Smother with another cup of the red sauce. Top that with 1½ cups of shredded mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted—about 10 to 15 minutes. Top with Italian seasoning flakes if desired.

Tomato Sauce


¼ cup olive oil

½ onion

½ stalk celery

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp basil

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, dice the vegetables fine. Add them to the pan and sautŽ 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the basil and cook a minute longer.


Stir the tomatoes in. Bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to medium low, partially cover the pot and simmer for half an hour. Season with salt and pepper.


May 11, 2018


Gazpacho is the classic Spanish dish is the salad you eat with a spoon. Gazpacho was adapted from a Moorish dish during their occupation of Spain. Gazpacho began as a peonsÕ dish—food for peasants. DonÕt let that discourage you. Remember: lobster was once a poor personsÕ dish. Look how well that turned out. Give gazpacho a try.


Ripe tomatoes star in modern gazpacho recipes. The original Moorish version contained none. Columbus hadnÕt brought tomatoes back from the New World yet. In the beginning, many Europeans shunned tomatoes as non-Christian food because they werenÕt mentioned in the Bible. Others assumed tomatoes were poison because rest of the plant was. Tomatoes have been exonerated on the poison charges, and have no lingering religious issues. Today, modern tomato-based gazpachos are even better than the original recipe.


The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook recipe spruces up a medley of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables with an oil and vinegar dressing of its own. Prepare this soup in a blender and chill it. No cooking necessary. Serve the soup cold. ThereÕs little danger of leftovers; but if you do prepare too much, it will keep in the refrigerator. Gazpacho celebrates the fresh vegetables of summer—flawless red tomatoes, glistening green peppers, aromatic onions and more. Serve it chilled for a refreshing summer time dinner.


4 tomatoes

½ green pepper—seeded

½ onion

2 stalks celery

3 green onions

1 tbsp or 3 sprigs parsley

2 cloves garlic—peeled

½ cup cold water

2 tbsp tarragon wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp pepper

A few drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)


Cut the tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery into manageable-size pieces. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop some into a blender jar and chop until all the large pieces have been processed (10 to 15 seconds). Pour the contents into a second bowl and repeat until finished. Chill and serve in soup bowls.


May 4, 2018


Make Mom's brunch extra special this year. An artistic presentation can take your brunch from good to great. The aroma of a frittata baking in the oven tantalizes the whole house with the promise of great taste to come. Pull this fancy frittata out of the oven, and you'll want to dig in before it cools off. But don't. Give everyone a chance to admire this fancy frittata.


Serve this dish at your next special breakfast, or any time you feel like doing something special. You won't be disappointed. It tastes as good as it looks.


10-12 spears of asparagus

1 onion halved and sliced thin

½ red or green bell pepper chopped

½ lb mushrooms sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

8 eggs

½ cup cottage cheese

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper


Remove the woody stems of the asparagus spears. Put the spears in boiling salt water. Boil them 10 minutes and remove them from the water. Cut the top 4 to 6" off each spear. Select the prettiest ones for your design and set those aside. Chop the rest of the asparagus into 1 to 2" pieces.


While the asparagus spears are cooking, preheat the oven to 350”F and prepare the onions, the peppers, and the mushrooms.


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 10 to 12" skillet. Add the vegetables plus the small pieces of asparagus. Cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally .


Make an egg batter while that's cooking. Whisk the eggs, cottage cheese, and lemon juice together. Add salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cooked vegetables. Array the reserved spears on top like the petals of a flower or the spokes of a wheel.


Bake 20 – 25 minutes and let stand 5 minutes. Let your guests admire your creation before cutting and serving it.