The Cheap Dish

Feb 10

Deviled Eggs - $4.11

Superbowl Sunday; the day when those of us who don’t like football gather around the table instead of the television. I decided that I would make deviled eggs to take over to my friends house for the big game (or whatever you call it). They’re fast, easy and always a hit. This was my first time trying this recipe, and little did I know I was going to make and consume the best deviled eggs on planet Earth. Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you, these are hands down the best greatest deviled eggs I’ve ever eaten.

We were having a small gathering of people so I stuck very closely to the recipe. But you can add or take away as needed. In fact, I think I’m going to go home and make a few tonight.


  1. 6 Eggs, Hard Boiled (Although these are staples, I had to buy extra for this recipe) - $2.29
  2. 1/2 Tsp White Vinegar (bought it and now it’s a staple) - $1.82


  1. 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  2. 1/2 Tsp Ground Mustard
  3. 1/8 Tsp Salt
  4. 1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  5. Paprika

Boil the eggs (takes about 20 minutes), peel and cut in half length wise. Remove the egg yolks with a spoon and put in a small bowl. Mash with a fork and add mayo, vinegar, ground mustard, salt and pepper (measurements above). Mix thoroughly. Fill the empty egg shells with the egg yolk mash and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

You can refrigerate them up to a day before service, but honestly I popped one in my mouth right away.

Happy Eating!

Sep 27

Shrimp Scampi with Thin Spaghetti - $4.02

Santa Monica has been a bit gloomy this past week, which has left me feeling uninspired when it comes to food. I peeked into my cupboard and found some pasta noodles, but the thought of making yet another red sauce left me feeling even more dismal. This was my solution:


  1. 1/4 Cup White Wine (The cheaper the better as long as it’s dry and tart.) - $2.69
  2. Jumbo Shrimp (6 pieces) - $1.33


  1. Thin Spaghetti  (Always keep pasta in your cupboard. Always.)
  2. 1/3 Cup Butter
  3. 1 tbl. Lemon Juice
  4. 2 Garlic Cloves, minced


  1. 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  2. Parsley
  3. Salt & Pepper
  4. Parmesan Cheese

Start boiling water for your pasta noodles. Next, put on your Plastic Bag Gloves and mince your garlic on a small plate. Wait until your pasta is in the boiling water to start your sauce.

Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Once the butter melts, saute your garlic until softened (but not brown). This will take about 5 minutes. Add in your cooked shrimp (I like to get mine fresh that day from the grocery store), then stir in onion powder, wine, lemon juice and salt and pepper. While you’re at it, give your noodles a stir as well. Let your sauce simmer 5-10 minutes turning the shrimp so they brown on each side. Your noodles should be tender by now. Pour out the excess water and plate.

This sauce is light, but it packs a lot of flavor. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley for some added texture. And have I mentioned the Cheesy Bread lately?

Serves 2, but sadly there are no leftovers. Happy Eating!

Sep 15

Baked Lemon Chicken with White Rice and Green Beans - $7.17

I have the very best cookbook on planet earth. If you don’t have this, buy one…now! With that out of the way, I searched through the poultry section to discover a tart but crunchy baked lemon chicken recipe and decided to pair it with white rice and green beans.

Ingredients you will need:

  1. 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs - $2.39
  2. 1 Garlic Clove from the head - $.50
  3. White Rice - $3.49
  4. Green Beans - $.79

Staples in the kitchen:

  1. 2 Chicken Breasts, thawed (Again, I buy a big pack and freeze so I always have a back up plan)
  2. 1 1/2 Tbl. Lemon Juice
  3. 2 Tbl. Butter, melted
  4. Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I hate that lingering garlic smell on my hands long after the clove has been minced, so I made plastic bag gloves (meaning sandwich bags on my hands) and grated the garlic clove over a small plate. This left my hands smelling slightly of garlic for only one day instead of one week. Anyway, I digress.

Next, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper in a shallow dish. In another dish, place bread crumbs and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

Dip chicken in the butter mixture, then coat evenly with crumbs. Place in a greased baking dish and drizzle with remaining butter mixture. The remaining mix should coat the bottom of the pan. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until juices run clear.

While the chicken bakes, boil rice in a small sauce pan according to package directions and start heating up your green beans 10 minutes before your chicken is ready.

Happy Eating!

Sep 13

Baked Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole - $10.47

I’ve been a little bit homesick this past week, so I wanted to make some comfort food. With a box of Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice in the cabinet, a large piece of chicken in the freezer, and a limited budget in my pocket, I googled ‘casserole.’ The Internet bestowed upon me this recipe.

Ingredients you will need:

  1. Wild Rice - $3.09
  2. Chicken (I buy in bulk so I always have a backup plan when planning dinner) - Staple
  3. Chicken Gravy - $1.65
  4. Chicken Broth - $1.15
  5. Cream of Mushroom Soup - $.99
  6. Ritz Crackers- $3.59
  7. Butter - Staple

Spices you will need:

  1. Garlic Salt
  2. Onion Powder
  3. Salt & Pepper

I took the chicken out of the freezer after lunch, and let it thaw in a bowl of warm water  in the sink throughout the afternoon. When I got home at 5:30, I was ready to start cooking.

I first put water on the stove to boil the wild rice (prepare according to package directions). Then, in a small frying pan, I cooked 2 chicken breasts on medium heat. To speed up the process, I began cubing my chicken while it cooked. The chicken and rice take about 15 - 20 minutes to cook. When they’re done, turn the burner off and let them cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a separate bowl, crush up half a sleeve of Ritz Crackers with a large fork or masher (Variation: Use 1 cup of Cheez-Its). Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a microwave safe bowl and pour over crushed crackers. Mix lightly.

Then, in a greased baking pan, mix: cooked rice, cubed chicken, 1 can of mushroom soup, 1/2 cup of chicken gravy and 1/2 cup of chicken broth and season to taste (garlic salt, onion powder, salt and pepper). Cover the casserole in the buttered crackers mix. Bake 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll have plenty of leftovers for a yummy hot lunch the next day as well.

Happy Eating!

Sep 08

Los Angeles Times Celebration of Food, Wine & More!

The Los Angeles Times really knows how to throw a party. For the publication’s first annual Food & Wine Celebration, the Paramount backlot was littered with everything from cooking demonstrations by master chefs to an eclectic selection of LA based food trucks. Through it all, the wine and laughter kept flowing. The event’s final moment of triumph was a sunset performance by the always charming (albeit a little awkward) musical duo, She & Him. Photos and highlights from the day, below.

Photos from the Event (along with witty commentary):

I have arrived, feed me.

Bacon, bacon, bacon with The Food Network’s Aida Mollenkamp!

Just a couple of the many food trucks scattered around the backlot. Food truck name of the day goes to Munchie the Machine.

More scrumptious surprises await you around every turn (I’m pretty sure Willy Wonka said that).

A little Brooklyn in LA. I can vouch for the authenticity of these stoops.

Rousing Q&A Panel with Michael Voltaggio (Top Chef Season 6 Winner) and Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo (Owners of the Los Angeles Restaurant, Animal) about butter and farmer’s markets. Ok, only rousing if you’re a food nerd.

Highlights of the Event (in no particular order):

Sadly, all great parties have to come to an end (you know, when all the wine is gone). See you next year - until then, happy eating and drinking!

Sep 02

LA Times Food & Wine Event Wants to Hear From You!

Los Angeles Times Celebration of Food and Wine Event takes place this Sunday, September 5 on the Paramount Studios Backlot. The Cheap Dish is lucky enough to be covering the event, which will feature chef demonstrations, wine tastings, food trucks, book signings, and a performance by She & Him.

For those of you not able to make it, the LA Times wants to give you a chance to participate in the Q&A panels by submitting your creative questions via Twitter to @latimesevents and include the hashtag, #lafoodwine! But hurry - they need to hear from you no later than Saturday evening. The panels for the event include:




Make sure you don’t miss a moment of the fun by following @latimesevents on Twitter. @TheCheapDish will also be live tweeting from the backlot!

General Admission tickets are still available for the event. Buy them here!

Aug 20

Thin Spaghetti with Pink Sauce - $8.26

My roomie and I stumbled upon an amazing little Italian hideaway, Fritto Misto, located on Colorado Avenue and 6th Street in Santa Monica. Because the meal was so amazing (and cheap!) we tried to recreate it at home.

For this recipe you will need:

  1. Thin Spaghetti Pasta (or pasta of your choice) - $.99
  2. Plain Marinara Sauce (8oz.) - $.79
  3. Tomato Paste (6oz.) - $.50
  4. Heavy Cream (pint) - $2.99    
  5. Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded - $2.99
  6. Olive Oil - Staple

We spiced our sauce with:

  1. Italian Seasoning
  2. Onion Powder
  3. Garlic Salt

I was pretty sure we could make it without a recipe, but, for safety’s sake, we went online to find a simple recipe just to make sure we had everything we needed. We followed it very loosely. No pepper flakes or vodka was harmed in the making of this meal.

To begin, boil the water for pasta. I used a dutch oven and filled it about half way with water, and put a cap full of olive oil in so the pasta wouldn’t stick together. In about 10 minutes, you will begin your sauce. In the meantime, maybe you should do some of those dishes in the sink?

To make your sauce, begin with the marinara sauce and spice it to your taste. Then, add in half the can of tomato paste, or the whole can if you like your sauce thick. Once this is heated through, add in 1/3 cup of Heavy Cream and stir continuously. We like cheese in our apartment, so once the sauce began to simmer we added a handful of shredded Mozzarella cheese.

At some point while you are making the sauce, the water begins to boil. Make sure you stop and stir in your pasta.

The sauce is heating nicely, the pasta is boiling and you’re stirring occasionally. Once your pasta is done (usually takes about 10 minutes depending on what kind), the sauce should be warm enough. Feeds 2 people or 4 if you want to have some guests over for a homey Italian meal.

You will have plenty of leftovers for dinner the next night too. I also have enough heavy cream to try out a Basil Cream sauce with Fettuccine recipe I found this week.

Happy eating!

Jul 17

Filet Mignon, Baked Potatoes & Green Beans - $10.39

For this recipe you will need:

  1. Filet Mignon (or 8oz. steak of your choice) - $7.79
  2. Baked Potatoes ($.99 per lb.) - $1.81
  3. Green Beans - $.79

The spices you will need to season your steak:

  1. Olive Oil
  2. Salt & Pepper
  3. Granulated Garlic
  4. Onion Powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your potatoes by washing them, stick them with a fork about 6 times all over the potato and place them in the microwave for five minutes. This just helps them cook faster once they are in the oven. Wrap them in tinfoil and place them in the oven. Put timer on for 30 minutes.

Now turn to seasoning your steak. If you’re super prepared (unlike me) you can marinate your steak overnight in the fridge. But, I bought my steak after work so, I  marinated it by rubbing on a little olive oil, garlic and onion powder then placed it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once your oven timer goes off turn the potatoes in the oven and put your oven on Hi Broil (I put mine on Lo at first and it took forever for the steak to begin to cook). Because broil is the hottest your oven can go, this will make those potatoes in the oven bake even faster. I like my steak a little pink so, it only took about 10 minutes once I turned my broiler on High and the potatoes were already beginning to soften. Make sure you heat your green beans up on the stove while your steak broils. If you crave something fresh, I also recommend making a crisp garden salad.

Cook your steak to taste (anywhere between 10 - 20 minutes), your potatoes should be done in 45 minutes or less and you can take them out to cool while the steak finishes. In this time you can heat your green beans on the burner and begin plating. Feeds 2 people.

Happy eating! Oh and by the way, there are no leftovers.

Jun 30

Mango Smoothies - $1.99

My roomie and I have been re-watching LOST from the beginning, and they seem to eat a lot of Mangoes on that creepy island. So, Liz got it in her head to make a Mango smoothie, but quickly ran into issues. How the heck do you cut a mango? It proved much harder than was first expected, but, with a little help from the Internetz and only a little frustration, she got it done. You will need:

  1. Mango - 2 for $1.00
  2. Banana - $.79 a pound
  3. Strawberry Yogurt - $.70

The staples you will need include:

  1. Milk
  2. Orange Juice
  3. Ice

Place 7-8 cubes of ice (one handful) in the bottom of the blender. Add the diced Mango (or 1 cup fruit of your choice), then add the yogurt, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of OJ and one cut up banana. Blend together until smooth. Serves 2 people.

After tasting the smoothie, the Mango doesn’t really blend well. So, we decided that we’ll stick to our normal Strawberry-Banana smoothies and save those pesky Mangoes for the islanders.

Happy drinking!

Coconut Cream Pie - $9.47

Let me start this out with telling you that I am not a baker. When I was little, my mom let me make my own cookies to share at family dinner. After one loud bite, my dad called them golf balls, we all laughed and they were quickly thrown into the garbage. My cream pie didn’t fair much better.

I know it’s not the recipe, because I found the perfect one by Emeril. I know exactly what I did wrong. However, bear with me as I tell you all about the process and how you can avoid my own foibles.

You will need:

  1. Pastry Shell (includes 2 pie shells) - $3.00 
  2. Whole Milk (I like fat free so I just bought a quart) - $1.49
  3. Cornstarch (this can become a staple) - $1.99
  4. Coconut (Toasted or Flaked) - $2.99

The staples I used were:

  1. 3 eggs
  2. Butter
  3. Vanilla

For the most part you can just follow the recipe. Make sure you read through it several times before making it because you can easily get tripped up. Here are some terms that I had to look up before I made this pie.

Temper - Gently heat the food (in this case the eggs) by adding the hot milk slowly. This basically means don’t just throw the hot milk into your egg yolks.

Slurry - A fixed suspension of solids in a liquid. To me this just makes it harder to scoop the cornstarch out, but I do what Emeril tells me.

I honestly think my pie would have turned out perfectly had I have known to bake my pie crust first. So I’m telling you now, bake your pie crust FIRST. Then make the filling and then the meringue. Because I didn’t do this, there was excess juice at the top and it leaves the dough chewy instead of crispy.

Even though the pie didn’t turn out that well, the point was to make this in celebration of the USA making the round of 16 in the World Cup. So, Liz bravely (with handmade stencil in hand) drew on the FIFA soccer guy with ball. I told her she should think about another career in cake decorating, because she made a complete baking failure look really great.

After rehashing the gory details to my friends, I’m left with the parting words from my dear friend Stephanie, “Baking is more formulaic than cooking. It’s all about precision and less flair. You just have too much flair.”

Happy eating!