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December 2019

Food Review: Mrs. Smith's Pumpkin Pie - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Mrs. Smith's Pumpkin PieI love pie, I'll take pie over any other kind of dessert offering, but I hate making them, namely the pie crust.  Making the dough is a labor intensive project if you want a flaky, golden brown and delicious final product.  It entails using chilled water and really cold butter with the flour, resting the dough, dusting the dough, rolling the dough, folding the dough, trimming the dough, pinching/decorating the edge, then finally, pre-baking the bottom crust of dough to make sure it's cooked through in presenting the final product, the pie.  I'd rather put that kind of labor into grilling or smoking meat.

Hello grocery store!

In my book you can't have Thanksgiving or Christmas without some pumpkin pie, so here's a review on Mrs. Smith Pumpkin Pie, you'll find it in the freezer section of your neighborhood grocery store.  Why the Mrs. Smith's brand?  Because timing is everything.  When I went shopping for the holiday dinners, this was the only brand of frozen pumpkin pie available and only a few of the Mrs. Smith's remained!

Preparing the pie per the box instructions, the pie came out of the oven smelling good, I hit the outer edge crust with a little butter and set it aside to cool. 

For the full review go to www.bacheloronthecheap.com


Food Review: Kirkland Signature Spiral Sliced Ham - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Kirkland Signature Spiral HamI'm a ham for Christmas dinner kind of guy and I don't like to do a lot of carving either.  I like low maintenance cuts of meat, so a spiral cut ham was on the shopping list.  I wanted something large enough to provide leftovers and stash some in the freezer for later enjoyment as well.

Already hickory smoke cured, I purchased a bone in Kirkland Signature spiral sliced ham at Costco for $19.24.  Weighing in at slightly under 8-1/2 pounds, that's just $2.29 a pound and Kirkland throws in a glaze - bonus!  That's a Bachelor on the Cheap friendly price and the ham was delicious, definitely a repeat buy! 

I put my ham on the grill over pecan wood to enhance that smoke cure and the spiral slice really embraced that glaze.  The Kirkland Signature spiral ham gets five out of five Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it was the perfect main dish for Christmas!

5 stars

Kirkland Signature Spiral Ham off the smokerPutting a spiral ham on the grill or smoker is easy peasy.  This is a pre-cooked ham, so basically you're just bringing it up to temperature and enhancing the flavors.  Just put the ham, flat side down on a disposable aluminum pan (you may want to double up on the pans depending on the weight of the ham), pour some kind of juice over the ham.  Orange, pineapple, apple, whatever, I like to use a sweet & sour mix myself.  Grill (or smoke) over indirect heat (on a smoker that's a given), for about 15-20 minutes per pound of ham at around 275 - 300 degrees.  Wait to glaze the ham until that last 20 minutes of cooking time, brushing the glaze in between each slice.  Pull the ham from the grill (or smoker) and let it rest for about 10 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil.  A spiral cut ham from the grill is another dose of YUM!

I've got a bachelor's passion for freedom.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

For more food, drink and product reviews, go to www.bacheloronthecheap.com


No. 5 Kansas pulls away in second half, beats Stanford 72-56

Kansas JayhawksSTANFORD, Calif. -- When Udoka Azubuike had a rare quiet day on the offensive end, he kept after it on the boards, and Kansas turned to its perimeter game to finally pull away.

Isaiah Moss made three straight 3-pointers during a decisive second-half stretch and finished with 17 points off the bench, and No. 5 Kansas overcame an inconsistent performance on both ends to beat Stanford 72-56 Sunday.

via www.espn.com


Pizza Challenge Update: Who has the best pizza in the Wichita Metro area? Is it Marchello's?

By Mike Thayer

Pizza is my favorite food.  Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie....  That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside.  Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper.  The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite.  And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!

No national chains will be included in this challenge.  Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify.  Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (sucking SO bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best.  The fact is, most of the local/regional joints can run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.

During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.

Marchello's Pizza
Does that look AWESOME or what?

Today's review is on Marchello's in Wichita. 

This is the 18th restaurant of the 19 I selected for my quest in finding the best pizza in the metro.  In full disclosure I've never had the pizza from Marchello's before, this place found a spot on my list because friends recommended it.  Hey, what can I say, I'm a transplant from Iowa!

I ordered the Marchello's on their original crust, with the 'Marchello's' being the restaurant's version of a supreme style pizza.   Here's the description from the Marchello's online menu:  Pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, black olives, bell peppers, ground beef. Anchovies available by request.  I decided on another carry-out for this trip, it's college football bowl season and when a restaurant doesn't have TV's for viewing, I'm not staying to enjoy the ambience, I'm getting my pizza and going home to enjoy my pie in front of the tube with a game on.  I placed my carry-out order with the restaurant over-the-phone at 5pm, and the pleasant lady taking that order informed me that it would take about 20-25 minutes to be ready.  That worked out just fine, because I was driving across town to pick up my pie.

I entered the restaurant right at 5:25pm and PERFECT timing!  I was greeted warmly at the door and in letting the attendant know I was there to pick up my carry-out order, she quickly reviewed the pizzas ready for pickup, there were quite a few, a nice stack - if that's not good tell of just how good Marchello's pizza is.........  Clarifying if I was "Mike" or "Michael" to ensure I got the right pizza, I paid for my pie and out-the-door I went in short order.

Marchello's Crust
A perfectly baked crust

And regular readers know I like to 'bitch' about the pizza pain I go through driving home with that pie, those wonderful aromas of warm crust, seasoned meats and gooey cheese...  But it's TRUE, the aroma pain physically, OK, virtually hurts..... Once again, I had to exercise 'pizza discipline' and channel my inner William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk, MUST.NOT.EAT.IN.THE.TRUCK.......  MUST.GET.HOME......

"So the aroma was good, how did the pizza taste?"  You ask....

Without hesitation, this is THE best pizza I've had so far in this challenge, with one pizza joint left to try.

Let's start with the crust, the foundation of a good pie.  The crust was soft, pliable, buttery, 'pillowy', with just a hint of crispiness on the outer edge from the melted cheese.  Now I'm typically a thin crust kind of guy, and this was no thin crust, but it was so good, Marchello's has me rethinking the thin crust thing.  With each bite of this pizza I found myself saying, "Wow!".....  The pie was LOADED with toppings and this crust carries it, proudly, the pie was baked to perfection, golden, brown, delicious.  Of all the pizzas I've sampled through the course of this challenge, this one was THE most balanced pie I've sampled, a perfect marriage of flavors.  All the meats and veggies were nicely seasoned, hitting ALL the notes you're looking for in a supreme style pizza and oh-so generously portioned!  The cheese was melted perfectly - yes, I'm using that word a lot - the crust was spot on, the toppings were spot on, the cheese was spot on, but what put this pie over-the-top for me was that sauce!  Marchello's has THE best pizza sauce in town, hands down.  Let me sum up just how good this pizza is/was:  I couldn't wait to eat the next slice!  I stopped at three, exercising more of that 'pizza discipline.'

Costing me $13.21 for a small pie, I'm giving Marchello's 5 out of 5 stars.  The price is VERY reasonable and it's in my humble opinion THE best pizza value in town and the best tasting to boot!  Said with one more restaurant to try of course.......  Marchello's is a MUST visit if you haven't already done so.   I don't think I've given my signature line for any of the pizzas sampled so far in this challenge, but Marchello's is ANOTHER DOSE OF YUM!

5 stars

Marchello's is located at:

3107 S. Seneca St., Wichita, KS 67217
P: 316-522-6662

The service was courteous, attentive to detail and my carry-out order was prepped, baked and boxed right on time!

Related:  Pizza Joints reviewed so far and pending reviews

 


Pizza Challenge Update: Who has the best pizza in the Wichita Metro area? Is it DeFazio's?

By Mike Thayer

Pizza is my favorite food.  Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie....  That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside.  Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper.  The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite.  And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!

No national chains will be included in this challenge.  Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify.  Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (sucking SO bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best.  The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.

During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.

DeFazio'sToday's review is on DeFazio's Italian Restaurant in Wichita. 

This is the 17th restaurant of the 19 I selected for my quest in finding the best pizza in the metro.  Around since 1982, DeFazio's has an excellent reputation in town for home style Italian food, they grind their own sausage, bake their own bread and make all their sauces from scratch.

DeFazio's PizzaI decided on carry-out for this trip, it's a good day for college football bowl games on TV and I'd rather enjoy my pizza in front of the tube with a game on.  Arriving at the restaurant a bit after 12pm, I ordered a small 'Big Deluxe' pizza which is described on the DeFazio's website as:  Italian sausage, pepperoni, beef, mushrooms, green peppers, onions & mozzarella. Black olives & anchovies are optional.  There was no wait in placing my order and I opted for the optional black olive.   I sat down to wait for my pie.

My wait was over after about 10-15 minutes, I paid for my pizza and made the aroma enticing trip back to my apartment. 

Was I tempted to eat a slice on the way home?

Yes.

Did I?

No.

Pizza Discipline, if there is such a thing....

DeFazio's Crust
A good crust, but a bit on the heavy side

Getting home and turning on the TV, I popped open the lid of that pizza box and picked up a slice.  The cheese pulled away all stringy like you see on pizza commercials, a good sign.  The pie looked great and smelled fantastic, but it's the TASTE that matters.

With high expectations for this pizza, I have to admit, I came away a bit disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, it was a good pizza, just not a great pizza.  I was hoping for something better from a restaurant priding itself on making things from scratch. 

It had a good crust with a crispy-on-the-outside edge, a nice zesty sauce, generous portions on the toppings and the cheese was melted nicely, but after sampling, I came away thinking, "This is good pizza, but not the best I've had in this challenge, it's middle-of-the-pack."  The execution of this pizza was there, it seems to have been prepared correctly, but there's nothing about it that puts it over-the-top or makes it special.

Costing me $10.76 for a small pie, I'm giving DeFazio's 4 out of 5 stars.  The price is very reasonable and it's a good product and worthy of a repeat buy, just know that it's not the best pizza available in Wichita. 

4 stars

DeFazio's is located at:

2706 N. Amidon, Wichita, KS 67204
P: 316-838-0709

The service was courteous and my carry-out order was prepped, baked and boxed in an average amount of time.

Related:  Pizza Joints reviewed so far and pending reviews

 


Pizza Challenge Update: Who has the best pizza in the Wichita Metro area? Is it Piatto Pizzeria?

By Mike Thayer

Pizza is my favorite food.  Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie....  That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside.  Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper.  The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite.  And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!

No national chains will be included in this challenge.  Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify.  Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (sucking SO bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best.  The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.

During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.

Piatto PizzeriaToday's review is on Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria in Wichita. 

This is the 16th pizza joint I've tried in my quest of finding the best pizza in the metro.  I've never eaten here before but I've really been looking forward to it because they feature a true wood burning pizza oven and Neapolitan style pizza. 

"What makes pizza Neapolitan?" you ask... 

From Wikipedia:  According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer's yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) wood fire oven. When cooked, it should be soft, elastic, tender and fragrant.

Piatto Pizza Fold
A perfect fold and some added Parm, pizza heaven

Walking into the place, I was greeted nicely by two members of the staff and since it was lunch for one, I found a seat at the bar.  This is an upscale place with a nice selection of wines and craft beers and the bar is set up directly in front of the pizza prep area and in full view of the pizza oven.  Having reviewed the menu online before arriving, I ordered the Sausage & Mushroom pizza and a Wingman Wheat beer - brewed right here in Wichita - to wash it down with.  Here's the description of the pizza from the restaurant menu:  The Anchor Meat Market's sausage, sautéed shiitake, cremini, and white button mushrooms, Pecorino Romano, fresh mozzarella, olive oil. 

My beer, a water and table service was quickly delivered and set up to where I was sitting at the bar.  Enjoying a sip of beer, it didn't take long at all for my pizza to be crafted, then strategically placed in the oven and in true Neapolitan fashion it was done in 90 seconds. 

It was pulled with excellent timing and if pizza looks could kill.....  The crust - the foundation of a pizza - was absolutely beautiful, having a bit of that wood fired char you're looking for on the edges, and in taking that first bite it was soft, pliable and perhaps THE best crust I've had to date in this challenge, allowing for a perfect pizza fold.  DELICIOUS!   The sauce dressed the crust quite nicely, I picked up the pleasant notes of the basil and hint of salt - not too much, not too little.  The generous portion of sausage was seasoned nicely, the fresh mozzarella delivered soft, creamy notes with each bite and the sauteed mushrooms were spot on. 

And here's a neat thing about the place....  So after my pizza was pulled, the pizza artist - yes truly - put some more wood on the fire and stoked it.  Patrons caught a pleasant whiff of that smoky amber ambience, providing for a nice 'Naples in Wichita' pizza experience.

Costing me $17 for a 12" pie, I'm giving Piatto Pizzeria 5 out of 5 stars.  The price is on the high end for what you would typically pay for a 12" sausage and mushroom pizza at most places, but Piatto is no typical pizza joint.  The high quality, fresh ingredients used in crafting this pizza, combined with that incredible dough and pizza oven makes for a top notch pizza!  Piatto Pizzeria is definitely worth a repeat visit.  I look forward to trying all their other pizza options!

5 stars

Piatto Pizzeria is located at:

1706 E. Douglas Ave., Wichita, KS 67214
P: 316-680-4625

The service was courteous, attentive and the pizza rocks.

Related:  Pizza Joints reviewed so far and pending reviews

 


Food Review: Chef's Cupboard Stuffing Mix - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Stove Top Stuffing
Don't buy the name brand stuffing!

Boxed stuffing, I love the stuff - see what I did there? - but like most folks, I only eat it a couple times a year, typically on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There are all kinds of flavors too, traditional turkey, chicken, pork, veggie varieties and even corn bread stuffings - Yuck, I prefer traditional bread crumbs over corn bread crumbs in my stuffing, 'jus say'n. 

I like the boxed varieties primarily for the simplicity and convenience of it, to me making stuffing from scratch isn't worth the trouble.  I doctor the off-the-shelf stuff anyway with a few added ingredients so there's no real benefit in the flavor department by making stuffing the hard way.  Then there's the price.  A boxed variety is cheaper than buying the bread crumbs, chicken stock and various seasonings all separately.

Read the full review at www.bacheloronthecheap.com