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What to Look for in a Quality Cheap Eat

 

Eating well on the cheap. It’s not nearly as easy as just eating on the cheap. And we have 50 years of the fast-food industry to thank for that. Not that I’m opposed to the occasional bag o’ drive-thru, mind you, but the old maxim is still true: You get what you pay for. The truth is we all have our own budgets in mind, and not all $6 burgers are created equal. So let’s look for a moment, beyond the bucks, to what makes food bang at any price point — a happy medium sandwiched in between Kobe dry-aged beef and the dollar menu. Here are my four tips for finding a legit cheap eat:

Figure out if the food/restaurant is “people driven.”

This is kinda like “chef driven,” but it involves a little more on your part than pulling up a website or a Yelp review. Bottom line: Are the people who work at this restaurant proud about the food there? Do they eat there on their days off? Can they list the faves from the menu in, like, no time flat? For most of you, this means gathering intel from your waiter, but don’t ignore the person bussing your table either. And, no, this doesn’t apply to only table-service restaurants. I reviewed a national burger chain ($6 and up) and was floored by how both the ladies taking my order were so down for their employer and the burgers they smashed (that’s a hint). After all, don’t you want happy people — people who genuinely believe that they are worthy of your hard-earned buck — serving your food?

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How to Cook Like an Italian Grandpa

Chef Pasquale grew up in Orsara di Puglia, Italy, and brought his recipes and stories to America. Watch how to make eggplant Parmigiana, meatballs, chicken cacciatore and more like an authentic Italian grandpa with skills from the old country.

Watch how he makes eggplant parmesan like he learned in Italy after the jump and check out the rest of his Cooking It Old School videos.

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Learn the Hole Truth About Bagels on the Food: Fact or Fiction? Premiere

On the Season 2 premiere of Food: Fact or Fiction?, host Michael McKean brought bagels, doughnuts and other treats to court for an important question: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the hole truth and nothing but the truth?” Actually, he just learned the history of baked goods with middles missing, including why New York City bagels are so good, whether doughnuts helped end a war and what makes Bundt cakes important. Check out the full episode streaming for free below, and watch Food: Fact or Fiction? on Mondays at 10pm ET on Cooking Channel.

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See What Haylie Duff Eats on Her Ultimate Cheat Day

There is only so much green juice and chia pudding that one gal can handle, so on the premiere episode of Haylie’s America, it was time for the biggest, baddest cheat day ever. Haylie Duff teamed up with friend Jonathan Bennett for a day of wine tasting, savory waffle sandwiches, West Coast barbecue and a cupcake-frosting competition in Santa Barbara, Calif., and their adventures may inspire you for your own day off.

Miss any of the fun? Watch the full episode below, and tune in for more Haylie’s America on Thursdays at 10pm ET on Cooking Channel.

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5 Regional American Dishes Everyone Must Eat Before They Die

I’m a good ol’ Southern girl, so it’s no big surprise I love America! My new show, Haylie’s America, pays true homage to some of my favorite regional dishes. I love to discover new and exciting foods, but there are a few dishes that everyone should eat before they die — no exceptions. Here’s my ultimate list and why:

Fried Green Tomatoes (pictured above)

These are a staple in the South and you really don’t see them on menus anywhere else. I’m weak in the knees for my grandmother’s cornmeal-batter version, dipped in ranch dressing.

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Traveling with Kiddos Without Losing Your Mind

Just the title alone is funny — and maintaining your sanity while traveling with kids sometimes seems impossible! Have no fear, mama birds: There are a few things your can do to make life easier on yourself. Not that I am an old pro at this mama game by any means, but I certainly do spend my fair share of time on an airplane. I like to think I have picked up a thing or two along the way.

Don’t overpack your carry-on bag: If you do, you are doomed before you even leave the house! It’s too much to juggle. Streamline your packing, and stick to the essentials. (I will break down my carry-on items at the end of this post, and I have a fab ultimate packing list on RealGirlsKitchen.com.)

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Watch Haylie Duff vs. Food on Haylie’s America

Eating your way across America may sound like a fun, glamorous job, but it’s a lot more work than it appears. In a behind-the-scenes preview of Haylie’s America, host Haylie Duff admits that she feels like she’s entering a Man vs. Food battle before eating plate after plate of food for the Cheat Day episode.

“You’re gonna have to roll me down the block!” she exclaims in the new clip, explaining that bites that don’t happen on camera don’t count. Check out the full video after the jump, and watch Haylie’s America starting Thurs., Sept. 8 at 10pm ET on Cooking Channel. Haylie will also be taking over Food Network’s Snapchat Discover on premiere day, so be sure to check it out.

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Haylie’s 5 Must-Have Travel Items

I feel so lucky that my “job” takes me to all kinds of fun and exciting places, but we all know that even traveling somewhere wonderful still includes a trip to the airport and some in-air time. Here are my five travel must-haves for making the experience a bit more enjoyable!

1. Always wear shoes that require socks, or put an extra pair in your carry-on bag! This is, hands down, my No. 1 rule. Have you seen those floors?? Germs galore. Don’t be the one who’s barefoot and standing on your tippy toes, thinking that that will keep you from picking up whatever is on the ground. BTW, this isn’t just a cleanliness thing — this is a great way to protect yourself from getting sick. I mean, you can wash your hands, but ya can’t really wash your feet in an airport or on a plane.

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How to Make Pok Pok’s Kai Yaang, the Ultimate Roast Chicken

Chicken doesn’t have to be boring, and Pok Pok’s chef, Andy Ricker, proves that with his cult-favorite dish, Kai Yaang. A whole roasted chicken is brined, stuffed with Thai aromatics like lemongrass, garlic and cilantro, then marinated in soy and fish sauces and basted with shallot oil and honey to ensure maximum flavor.

If you can’t get to Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon, or its outposts in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, you can check out Ricker’s recipe for Kai Yaang here. Then watch him make it with Man Fire Food host Roger Mooking on Tuesday, August 16 at 9pm ET on Cooking Channel.

Get more Man Fire Food recipes.

The Man Fire Food Season 5 Premiere Is Too Hot to Handle

Roger Mooking is back for another season of Man Fire Food, and in the Season 5 premiere, he discovered even crazier ways to cook with fire. In Miami, he made paella and roast butterflied pork on a coal-fueled contraption called the Cross Table, and then in Birmingham, Ala., he made a meat-lovers’ feast with a portable oven.

If you missed any of the fiery action, watch the full episode below, and tune in for more Man Fire Food on Tuesdays at 9pm ET on Cooking Channel.

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