99-Cent Ingredients, No Skimping On Taste

Looking for creative ways to trim your grocery bill?

Author Christiane Jory has plenty of ideas in her new cookbook, "The 99 Cent Only Stores Cookbook: Gourmet Recipes at Discount Prices."

Every single ingredient in the book costs 99-cents or less, and she promises you can squeeze plenty of gourmet flavor out of each item.

She visited The Early Show Thursday and shared numerous strategies and recipes.


Artichoke-Spinach Bake

Yields 12 servings

Cost: approximately $11.99 ($1.99 less if you use the 8-ounce packages of cream cheese. When I made this, only 1-ounce packages were available at four for . . . you guessed it, 99¢)

This recipe is great for parties. Trust me, no matter how much I make, it always disappears fast. It doubles, triples, and quadruples easily. For hors d'oeuvres, spread on a baked homemade pizza crust, heat through, and cut into bite-size servings.

4 (6-ounce) jars Reese or Empress marinated artichoke hearts
2 (10-ounce) packages C&W frozen spinach, partly thawed, with the water squeezed out
Chefs Choice garlic salt
16 ounces Philadelphia regular or fat-free cream cheese
5 tablespoons Imperial margarine, plus some for the baking dish
3/4 cup Springfresh milk
1/2 cup Aquila Parmesan/Romano cheese mixture

Helpful Hint
In a jam, coconut milk can substitute for regular milk. Since coconut milk is canned, you can stock up.

1. Grease a 9" ´ 13" baking dish with margarine.
2. Drain artichoke hearts and layer on bottom of dish.
3. Top with spinach and sprinkle with garlic salt.
4. Cream the cream cheese and add the margarine and milk, beating until well blended.
5. Pour over spinach and sprinkle with Parmesan/Romano cheese.
6. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
7. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 40 minutes.

Beet and Chive Toasts

Yields 4 servings

Cost: approximately $1.99

The rich color of the beets makes this an eye-catching appetizer. For hors d'oeuvres, serve a dollop of the beet mixture on Grilled Stars (see recipe at end of this section)

1 (15-ounce) can Libby's beets
1/4 cup Spice Box dried chives
1/2 teaspoon Morehouse brown mustard
1/2 cup Knudsen sour cream
Tabasco sauce to taste
1/2 teaspoon Master's lemon juice

Helpful Hint
If you're game, a redhead, or both, reserve the liquid from the beets and use it as a hair rinse. Add 3 times the amount of water as there is beet juice and apply after shampooing for a temporary fun tint.

1. Coarsely chop beets.
2. Add the chives, mix in the remaining ingredients, and blend well.
3. Chill.
4. Serve on chilled plates with toast as an appetizer, or in a chilled bowl with a plate of toast for a buffet.

Nut-Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Yields 20 servings

Cost: approximately $2.99

This classic recipe is a favorite and always a crowd-pleaser. I have also made these with ham slices when bacon is not available. They are tasty as well, but make sure you adjust cooking time since with ham they will only need to be warmed, not cooked.

1 (8-ounce) container Royal dates
1 (4-ounce) can Star Snacks mixed nuts
1 (16-ounce) package Branding Iron hardwood smoked bacon

Helpful Hint
Instead of toothpicks, try using equally sized pieces of uncooked spaghetti. It will cook along with the dates and you will not be left to collect the unsightly used picks lying around.

1. Stuff each date with any of the mixed nuts except peanuts (you can serve those in a bowl).
2. Slice bacon/ham into strips long enough to cover dates, preferably twice around.
3. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon/ham.
4. Secure with water-soaked toothpicks and bake on ungreased (or for easier cleanup, a foil-lined) cookie sheet for 5 to 10 minutes for ham, 12 to 15 minutes for bacon. Serve hot or at room temperature.