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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.

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.

FOR MORE RECIPES, GO TO PAGE 2.

Deviled Crab

Yields 6 servings

Cost: approximately $5.99

This can be served in one big dish with toasts on the side for a buffet, or individually in single-serving ramekins with a toast triangle placed in the center as a starter course.

1 cup buttered bread crumbs or Manischewitz matzo meal
4 tablespoons Danish Creamery butter
2 tablespoons Best Yet all-purpose flour or Cinch pancake mix
1/2 cup Springfresh milk
1/2 cup HyVee evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon Spice Box nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Morehouse brown mustard
2 Country eggs, yolks only, lightly beaten
1/4 cup wine, white or red depending on preference (brands vary)
Spice Supreme salt and pepper to taste
3 cups Smiling Sea crab meat, picked over, rinsed and drained
Master's lemon juice, optional

Helpful Hint
1/3 cup of butter mixed with ¾ cup of milk can substitute for evaporated milk or cream.

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pan, add bread crumbs or matzo meal, and stir until well blended. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter, add the flour, and whisk until well blended.
4. In another saucepan, bring the milks to a boil. Add all at once to flour-butter mixture, stirring constantly until sauce is smooth.
5. Remove from heat and add nutmeg and mustard.
6. Beat egg yolks with a little of the hot mixture, then add to the rest. Heat until thickened.
7. Add wine, salt and pepper, and crabmeat.
8. Spoon mixture into 6 individual ramekins or one baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake until browned, about 10 minutes. Mist with lemon juice if desired.

Mushroom Turnovers

Yields 24 servings

Cost: approximately $4.99

Mushrooms create some of the most familiar and best loved hors d'oeuvres. The woodsy undertone of the mushrooms combined with the spices and sour cream make for a mouthwatering experience.

Filling

1 cup Spice Box dried chopped onions (use fresh onions when available)
3 tablespoons Danish Creamery butter
8 ounces Autumn Gold mushroom pieces
1/4 teaspoon Spice Box sage
1/2½ teaspoon Baja Pacific sea salt
McCormick pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Best Yet all-purpose flour or Manischewitz cake meal
1/4 cup Knudsen sour cream

Helpful Hint
1-1/2 cups of fine bread crumbs can replace 1 cup of flour.

1. Soak dried onions in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain.
2. Heat butter in a frying pan. Add drained onions and brown lightly.
3. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.
4. Add sage, salt, and pepper and sprinkle with flour.
5. Stir in sour cream and cook on low flame until thickened. Set aside.

Dough

9 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup Danish Creamery butter, at room temperature
1/2 cups Best Yet all-purpose flour or Cinch pancake mix

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. In a bowl, mix cream cheese and butter thoroughly.
3. Add the flour and work with fingers until smooth.
4. Chill well, for at least 30 minutes.
5. On a dusted surface, roll out dough to a one-eighth-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 3" biscuit cutter, or a jar with a 3" mouth.
6. Place about a teaspoon of the filling on one half of each round and fold the dough over. Press edges closed with tines of a fork and poke holes in tops to allow steam to escape.
7. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until browned, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Spicy Corn and Pepper Spread

Yields about 2 cups

Cost: approximately $2.50

This spread is always an easy dish to whip up for any unannounced guests. It can be made in advance, and the only maintenance required is keeping the bowl filled and the toasts of choice plentiful.

2 teaspoons El Pique whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 (15-ounce) can Libby's corn
1 (7-ounce) jar Dromedary pimientos
2 tablespoons Mi Mexico sliced jalapeños, chopped
1/3 cup Di Buon Gusto olive oil
Baja Pacific sea salt to taste
Spice Supreme pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Master's lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spread cumin seeds on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast in oven until aromatic, about 5 minutes.
3. In a mixing bowl, add corn, pimientos, jalapeños, and olive oil. Mix well, slightly mashing with a fork.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve on toasts of choice (see recipes at end of this section).

Herbed Pita Chips

Yields 8 dozen chips

Cost: approximately $1.50

Add any spices you wish to the oil in 1/4-teaspoon increments.

1/3 cup Di Buon Gusto olive oil
2 teaspoons Classic minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon El Pique oregano, crushed (or spice of choice)
1 package (6 rounds) Good-N-Fresh Arabic (pita) bread

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix oil, garlic, and spices.
3. Split each pita pocket into two flat rounds, for a total of twelve flat rounds.
4. Brush each round with oil mixture; cut into eight wedges and place on baking sheets.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp.