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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Something I wish I'd had a long time ago....

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a beautiful red Kitchenaid immersion blender to go with my stand mixer. I'd been wanting one for a while, but it seemed a little silly given I have such a nice blender.

Now I am just kicking myself that I didn't get one sooner. What a help in the kitchen! Creamy Potato Asparagus soup? Smooth in just moments, right in the pan. Gravy with a couple of lumps? Not anymore! The biggest advantage to having this is a picky kid. Chili Mac tonight was easy. I just used the immersion blender to smooth out about 2/3 of the beans. It still had texture, but was easy to serve to R, and he ate it right up, beans and all! :)

Crockpot Turkey Chili

I made this chili in the slowcooker on Sunday, and will be using it in a couple of this week's meals, plus I'll have a little to freeze for another meal. It calls for my secret ingredients, don't laugh- strong brewed coffee, and a dash of cinnamon. I like to cook it and then let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a day. It helps the flavors blend.

1lb. lean ground turkey
1/2t salt (you will likely only need if using cooked beans, not canned)
1/2t pepper (I like to use the Penzey's California Blend)
1 can pinto beans (or 2 cups cooked)
1 can black beans ( or 2 cups cooked)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used rotel cilantro lime)
1 can whole tomatoes, break up with wooden spoon in crockpot
2 cups strong brewed coffee
1T garlic powder
2T chili powder ( I used Penzey's Ancho Chili Powder)
1t cumin
1/4t cinnamon
3 beef boullion cubes

Brown turkey in skillet over medium high until cooked through and no longer pink. Meanwhile, place all other ingredients into slow cooker. Add turkey when cooked. Let cook on low for 6+ hours, or high for 3-4.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 12/28

I got a couple of cookbooks over the holiday, so starting this next weekend, when I get a chance to go through and lay out some of the recipes I want to try, I will be sharing some of the new dishes and my review. For this week, keeping it fairly simple, although I have to say I am LOVING my Kitchenaid Mixer for making pizza dough. Last Sunday's pizza rivaled many that we've had from little places around here- and made in my kitchen. Pretty cool. I'm posting last night's meal so that I don't feel so late :)

Monday 12/28
oven fried buttermilk chicken drumsticks $3.00
buffalo chicken wings $2.25
green beans .40
Harvest Salad $2.00

Tuesday 12/29
slowcooker turkey chili over spaghetti with cheese $2.25
corn .50
cantelope slices (nice sweet cantelope on sale at Fareway this week for $1.50. Yum) .75

Wednesday 12/30
ham and broccoli quiche (.36 ham steak from Target LOL) $3.50
spinach and apple salad $1.00

Thursday 12/31
bean and cheese quesadillas $3.00
tomato soup $1.25
leftover corn .00

Friday 1/1
steak and potato skillet $3.50
asparagus .75

Saturday 1/2
chili cheese nachos $2.00
fresh fruit salad $2.00

Sunday 1/3
Pizza Night $4.00
salad $1.00

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Check it out! The first waffles I've ever made, in my first waffle iron! Really not sure why it took so long to get one, since I think waffles are a food group if you're 7 and 4. I like the healthier waffles, too, so those get pricey without sales and coupons. I played around and combined a couple of different recipes and adjusted for what I had for this recipe. Turned out great! I might toy with adding some ground flax seed or wheat germ in the future, but I was out of both this time around.

1 1/4 cups white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup steel cut oats ground in coffee grinder to a nice oat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk (also used about 3/4 cup of skim milk to thin batter after mixing)
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine flour through salt in a large bowl and mix. In separate bowl, whisk buttermilk through cinnamon. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Heat waffle iron. Cook according to your iron's directions. For me, I used about 1 cup of batter per waffle, and they cooked for about 4 minutes. Perfect!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Lots of it. This picture shows the drift at the deck door yesterday. More than 3 feet of snow there. Dog was like, "no way, nuh uh, fuhgettaboutit", and walked away after not having peed for 12 hours. I didn't blame her. LOL. After today, totals in the metro are 13-18 inches, with drifts taller than my 7yo. (I know because I saw him in them in the backyard. Crazy.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

EASY cheater Ham glaze

My mom and I were having this discussion last week as my sister prepared to make her first ever ham. She was asking us both the best way to glaze the ham. We both gave the same answer- a can of Coke. Seems to be too easy to be true, but this has become a big go to for our family. Put your ham in the roaster. Pour Coke over ham. Cover with foil. Bake. From time to time pour the Coke up and over the ham. Done. And YUM. :)

Change in Plans

We had planned on being in St. Louis this Christmas. Through the weekend we were eating all the perishables, getting everything ready to go, getting new tires on the suv, etc. At the same time, we were monitoring the weather, as a big storm was set to head in to the area this week, and we wanted to make sure we got out before it got here.

Things then started getting complicated. My mom was put in the hospital last week for double pneumonia---they caught it when she went in for her latest round of chemo. Initially she was to be in for the weekend, but she's now there through Christmas.

Ryan caught a tummy bug on Sunday night. His little brother had gotten it earlier in the week, and I had gotten it as well. This now ruled out any chance of the boys seeing their grandma, as she's on a floor that is very protected for low immune systems, and we can't risk her being exposed to any new germs right now.

By Monday night, when Ryan was still sick, my gut told me to cancel the trip. Hubby went along with it, but I don't think he agreed with me 100%. My concern was that we could still be passing the tummy bug around to each other, and if we got sick in St. Louis we wouldn't be able to go back home because of the snow. Meaning the boys would spend a miserable Christmas in the basement of the in-laws. No fun.

So early Tuesday I ran out and restocked all the fresh stuff we'd been clearing out- milk, eggs, produce. Made sure to get plenty so we wouldn't have to try to get out during a storm.

My gut proved to be correct Tuesday night when both Jonathan and I came down with the tummy bug. Bad. I'm still not back to normal. Snow is now coming down. But I'm about as happy as can be. We can rest in our own home. The boys have been able to keep themselves entertained pretty well here at home, which would have been much more difficult to do in St. Louis. Hubby just carried a ton of wood upstairs, and now we'll be able to enjoy nice fires in the fireplace.

So I will be posting the meal plans I've been hastily putting together for the rest of the weekend, since none had been needed before.

It is a nice reminder of the things that are important. Sure, I would have loved to have been able to visit all of the family, but I would much prefer to have a nice, warm, snuggly Christmas inside with my boys and hubby while the snow comes down. Oooh. Note to self---make hot chocolate :).

Hope you and your families have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What a week....

In 6 days, a pretty violent, although thankfully fairly short, stomach virus has ripped through here and hit 3 of us---me first, then the 4yo, and now the 7yo is up in our bed with a bowl. Only hubby has escaped- so far.

It has me pretty nervous about Christmas, as Mom was admitted to the hospital Friday for pneumonia..the chemo treatments have her immune system pretty screwed up.

Since hubby hasn't gotten it...I'm not sure whether to think of him as invincible, or a contagion for the rest of the family this holiday season.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Craziness! Menu Plan..um...Wednesday

So busy that I've been keeping a list of meals here, but never actually posted it!

So here's the rest of the week:

Boneless pork chops $3.75
baked sweet potatoes .50
cheesy spirals with broccoli $1.00

Company Christmas party...grilled cheese and chips with fruit for boys

macaroni and cheese bake
maple glazed carrots

corn chowder
bread sticks
apple slices

Pizza night

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baby Steps Challenge- Baby Step 2

If you've been following along here and here, I've been discussing how you can make major long term adjustments in your food expenses and the way you shop by taking very small steps that are not difficult to do.

I asked you back in November to just start making a list of the items that you use regularly in your household.

Now, I'd like you to look at that list. I'm sure it's not a definitive list. Especially if you're like me and got caught up with other stuff :) But you should have some solid basics that you use regularly in your meals, regardless of the week's meals, based on your family's tastes. Here's what a list of basics looks like for us:

  • whole wheat pasta
  • refried beans
  • black beans
  • chicken
  • bacon
  • eggs
  • skim milk
  • flour tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • sugar
  • flour
  • ground beef
  • frozen corn
  • frozen broccoli
  • canned green beans
  • boxed stuffing
  • canned turkey chili
  • crackers
  • breakfast cereal
  • coffee
This is not a definitive list for us, but certainly a good starter list of things we use regularly and always like to have on hand.

Your next baby step is to get a spiral notebook and write each item on a page. Yes. One per page. Take that book to the store with you every time. Every time. Seriously. When you buy one of those items, write down the price, the store, and whether it was a sale price or regular price. What you will have after a while is a natural list of high and low prices for the items you use. That will get you ready for your next baby step.

Happy note-taking!!

Easy Make Ahead Meals- Sirloin and Mushrooms in Gravy

As we head into the last few weeks before the holiday, it seems it is especially crazed around here. I have a TON of deadlines at work, along with client parties and other things that will have me away from home more often. So as I gear up for the next couple of weeks of shopping, baking, and all of the aforementioned work stuff, I want to have dinners ready to go as much as possible.

I will be sharing some of the recipes along with my menu plans as I go. I like to use fresh unprocessed ingredients as much as possible, but in times like this you will see me use a few convenience items to help cut the prep time down. This is one of those recipes. It uses a jar of beef gravy. I'm the first person to tell you to make your own gravy, but in this case, it helps me put this recipe together much faster, and right now, I'll take the time!

I made this dish in about 20 minutes this morning. It will go into the freezer, and then later this week, all I have to do is thaw, heat, and serve over egg noodles. Mashed potatoes work too.

Sirloin and Mushrooms in Gravy

3/4lb. sirloin, cut into small bite size pieces ($2.50)
10 oz. container white button mushrooms, sliced ($1.00)
1/2 onion, chopped (.15)
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (.10)
salt and pepper
1T worcestershire sauce
1T sherry
1 jar beef gravy (.50 after coupons and holiday sales- I stocked up)
3T chopped fresh parsley (optional but adds a lot) (.15)

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, mushroom and garlic, and saute, about 4 minutes, until onions are translucent. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper here. Add sirloin, and continue cooking until beef is no longer pink. Add gravy, worcestershire, sherry and parsley, and heat through. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

With egg noodles, this dish comes in right around $5.00 for me. Easy and economical for a beef dinner!

****This post is linked to Simple Saturday

Have I showed you my early Christmas Present?

Isn't she pretty?!?!?!?! I have been seriously drooling over these for years. In fact, I generally have strayed away from recipes calling for a mixer because I disliked mine so much. So hubby surprised me early, figuring (correctly) that this could get a LOT of use over the holidays!!

He did his homework, and got me the 600, at a better price than I've seen anywhere, and I got a ton of attachements: can opener, food grinder, shredder/grater, pasta plates, plus the pasta roller and cutters.

I've used the mixer several times for cookies/cakes/mashed potatoes, etc...and I've started using the attachments. I feel a little silly about the can opener. I love the convenience of an electric can opener, but I never liked having one on the counter, so I've always used a hand opener. This gives me the best of both worlds, because it stores in the drawer when I'm not using it. The graters are GREAT for cheese, and I've been able to do large amounts in just a short period of time.

This weekend I start playing with the pasta roller. I've been told it's best to just have a few trial runs that you don't plan to eat so you can figure it out, so I'll be doing that this weekend.

I'm also going to make my first attempt at pizza dough this weekend. Wish me luck :)

I am on record in this blog as saying I'll probably never be someone that makes all my own bread. I still think that might be the case, but the mixer has me thinking about making some bread at least a little more often.

I am amazed at how one appliance can radically impact your time in the kitchen. If you've been like me and been thinking about this, I can tell you I have no regrets...only that I didn't get it sooner!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The tree

I took this yesterday morning at 4am when I came down the stairs and discovered hubby left the lcd's on overnight. It was pretty breathtaking in the dark quiet house at such an early hour.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday Week of 11/30

Going to be working ahead on this week's meals as I did last week, as I'll be out of town Wednesday and Thursday, and want to make life as easy for hubby as possible. Boys are already begging for McDonalds while I'm gone, so I've just written off Thursday night, knowing that while Mom's away, the boys will play :) Besides, better they eat it when gone than to be tempted by French Fries.

No price breakouts this week (gasp). I'll get back on that wagon next week :)

Monday 11/30
Potato salad
Sliced apples

Tuesday 12/1
Slow Cooker chicken tacos

Wednesday 12/2
Spaghetti and meatballs
Wheat rolls
Green beans

Thursday 12/3
Boys eat out

Friday 12/4
Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday 12/5
Smoked sausage
Sauerkraut and potatoes

Sunday 12/6
Slow cooker chili

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting the house decorated

This is my favorite part of Christmas...getting the house decorated! We've done quite a bit this weekend, with more to come. I will share pictures as we go, including the tree, which is almost done. Here's the mantel-

Mexican beef and rice

Last night we had originally planned to have leftovers from the week's "non Thanksgiving" meals. I apparently underestimated the impact my inlaws would have, though, because we ended up with just a few odds and ends, and really not much to speak of. Still plenty of Thanksgiving stuff, but I knew hubby would balk if he had to eat stuffing again.

I did have half a can of black beans leftover from a nacho lunch we enjoyed Tuesday, along with half a bag of leftover steamed corn, so I kicked into action and started pulling things together that I could make a skillet dish out of. I used sliced sirloin steak that I had already prepped in the freezer. You could use ground beef or even chicken, I think. This would be very flexible for what you have on hand. If my family liked olives I think I would have put sliced black olives on top. Heaven.

  • 3/4lb. sirloin steak, or whatever meat you have, chopped into small bite size
  • 1 cup rice ( I used white basmati, normally we would use brown)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen's new petite diced adobo tomatoes and that was perfect. You could use Rotel or any other tomatoes you have)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used the turkey stock I just made)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
In small saucepan, bring rice, broth, tomatoes and salt to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer according to the cooking time on your directions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Add steak and continue to cook until beef is browned. Add corn and beans. Once rice is completed, add to skillet, and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and stir in thouroughly. Turn off heat, sprinkle cheese, cover, and let sit 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Eat. Then eat seconds (I did, anyway!)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Using up cranberry sauce

We ended up with a TON of cranberry sauce this year! My step MIL wanted to make cranberry orange relish, which was fine, but I wasn't sure if the boys would eat that, so I made a batch of cooked cranberry blueberry sauce as a fall back. Which means we've had lots of leftovers. I find the easiest way to use up cranberry sauce is in baked goods. The leftover cranberry blueberry sauce is now baked into a batch of yummy muffins for the boys' breakfasts. Just use your favorite muffin recipe or baking mix.
That relish is going to be combined with a box of orange cake mix I've been wanting to use up. I'll probably bake it in loaf pans.

Our Christmas Tree

We got our tree yesterday. Today we will trim, decorate and add the tree skirt. I'm especially excited as we have not had a tree for the past 2 years. After Big K showed his ability to eat glass ornaments (!), I was more than a little reticent. (Although we did learn you can eat a piece of glass the size of a quarter and it won't hurt you. Info I wish I didn't have)

This year we're confident he's old enough, and the dog is more mature as well, so I think we're safe. (I hope!)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Time to start freezing up the leftovers

We feasted yesterday! Wonderful turkey and all of the fixins. Today, we start the process of freezing and using up all the leftovers.

Tonight we'll have a repeat of yesterday's dinner. The rest of the turkey is already in the freezer, and the frame is in the stockpot with veggies and herbs making a nice broth that I will freeze. Leftover mashed potatoes will be made into mashed potato rolls that I can bag and freeze for multiple meals. I'm pondering using the stuffing in eggrolls, and turning the leftover cranberry sauce into a dipping sauce for the eggrolls.

This is always the time I start experimenting, so I will certainly share the results as I go!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fully Belly. Happy Heart.

I hope that you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were so blessed to have Hubby's Dad and Stepmom here for the holiday. We've enjoyed the week together, and hubby's dad helped him finish a long overdue project in the garage. Today we made entirely too much food and now we're being lazy while contemplating all the things we have to be thankful for.

For me-

-they caught my Mom's lymphoma at an early stage and it's Hodgkins, which is very treatable
-she's handled the chemo incredibly well
-I have two incredibly sweet, smart and healthy little boys
- I have a very caring and loving husband
-I am blessed to have a great job and good job security
-I am able to provide for all of our monetary needs as the sole earner in the household.
-we had family here to share our day with
-we have a wonderful home and many good friends

So many things to be thankful for. Hope you enjoy your time to reflect as much as I have.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nice Walgreens trip today

I actually had taken a bit of a Walgreens break. There wasn't anything I really needed and the prices weren't that great. Back today though with the $5 off $25 coupon, along with capitalizing on some other great deals. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Coffeemate Creamer- $2.49 BOGO and I had $1/1 and $1.50/2 coupons, so I got 6 for $2.49.
  • Vanity Fair Paper Plates- $3.79 BOGO. I also had the BOGO coupon from All You, so got them both for free!
  • got a bunch of really cute tins for 2/$1 to put gifts in
My final tally was $51.35 worth of stuff for $25, and I got $8RR. Not too shabby.

My to do list- Part 2

Yesterday, I laid out the menu plan for Thanksgiving and started outlining my to do list for today and tomorrow here. Today the house smells of roast, turkey and pasta sauce. I have a lot of the cooking and chopping done for the quiche as well. If I get all done and ahead of myself, I may go ahead and do that today as well. We'll see how it goes.

Make mashed potatoes
Make cake bars
Make green bean casserole

Make stuffing
Make pumpkin pie
check turkey and make sure it's thawed

Menu Plan Week of 11/23

This weekend I'm working full steam to get meals done for early in the week so that I can turn my attention to Thanksgiving foods on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is a TON of food and I suspect we'll be eating off of it well into next week, along with extras that get stashed into the freezer.

Sunday 11/22

Steak $5.00

Potato casserole $2.50

Salad $1.00


Monday 11/23

Italian pasta bake $3.50

Salad $1

Dinner rolls with butter .75


Tuesday 11/24

Italian beef sandwiches $5.00

Fries .75


Wednesday 11/25

Sour cream chicken quiche $3.50

Asparagus $1.50

Salad $1.00


Thursday 11/26 Happy Thanksgiving!!

See this post for the menu plan

(cost of the dinner and desserts just over $28)

Friday 11/27

Leftovers .00

Saturday 11/28

Leftover pasta bake and Italian beef sandwiches .00


Turkey croquettes $1.00

Potato casserole (in freezer from last Sunday) .00

Corn .40


Grandma's Pumpkin Pie

This is my husband's Grandma Elsie's recipe.  It's the family favorite.  

1/4 stick butter melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup pumpkin (fresh or use 1 can)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon ( I use a little more)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups milk

Mix ingredients. Turn into pie shell and cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 375 degrees
and cook for 45 minutes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Busy Week- My to do list, part 1

This is going to be one of those weeks where I have a LOT to accomplish, and I find that I have to write it all out day by day to stay on top of it and not feel stressed out. My in laws will be here on Tuesday, and R's buddy will be coming over for dinner on Monday, so it's even more important that I stay on task. Here's the Thanksgiving Menu:

Sausage Stuffing
mashed potatoes
sweet potato souffle ( Nonny making)
cranberry and orange salad (Nonny making)
waldorf salad (Nonny making)
green bean casserole
pumpkin pie
chocolate chip cake squares

Here's the next couple of days...I'll post the to do list through Thanksgiving when I post my menu plan for the week.

Make Bakers, Walgreens and Aldi trips
bake extra turkey
cook italian beef in slow cooker for Tuesday
make pasta bake for Monday
make potato casserole
freeze turkey in portions
save carcass for Monday


Make chicken sour cream quiche for Wednesday
make turkey stock

Sausage Stuffing

This is my favorite way to prepare stuffing. The recipe has evolved over the years and reflects both my mother's love for decadence and flavor, and my desire to trim excess calories and fat when I can, without losing flavor. You could cut back fat even more by using just egg whites or egg substitute.

I am cooking an extra turkey this weekend. With the carcass I will be making a ton of turkey stock for both this recipe and my gravy. You can also use chicken stock, either homemade or canned. (I have to say, though, it's worth making your own. More flavorful, and much less salt!) I will freeze the turkey for meals later this winter. At 29 cents a pound, it's worth stocking up.

I don't stuff the turkey because of health reasons, so you might be able to cut back the liquid just a bit if you plan to. I make this the day before, and it keeps just fine in the refrigerator.

1 french bread loaf from grocery store bakery, cubed
1 bag of stuffing mix, like Pepperidge Farm
3 eggs, beaten
7 cups stock
2T olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
8oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. turkey breakfast sausage, crumbled and browned
1T dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Place bread cubes and stuffing mix in large bowl, In skillet over medium heat, add oil, then saute onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender. I like to sprinkle my sage in here, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add veggies to bowl, along with sausage, broth and eggs. Mix together with spoon, or get in and get dirty with your clean, ringless hands. Place stuffing in a greased 9X11 casserole dish, cover with foil and put in refrigerator overnight, or bake in 375 oven for 40 minutes, removing foil for the last 15.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Baby Steps Challenge- Baby Step 1

Over the weekend I blogged here about making changes one small step at a time. So here's your first baby step. I know you can do it. If you don't already menu plan, I'm not asking you to. I just want you to write down everything you eat for the next week. Can you do that? Just try to jot the main entrees down before you forget each day. We're going to use that information next week for our next baby step.

Tomato Avocado Salad

I crave fresh salads, vegetables and fruits all year round. Since I grow so many things fresh in my garden during the summer, it can be pretty rough making the transition in October and November back to store purchased tomatoes. You do find some yummy ones from time to time, and when this happens, I celebrate with a simple favorite- Tomato Avocado salad

3 ripe medium sized tomatoes, chopped ( I used romas)
2 avocados, peeled and diced
1/2t sea salt
2T lime juice
2T red wine vinegar
3T olive oil

Toss. Eat. Bliss.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 11/16

We ate very well this week despite the fact that I was very sick with a sinus infection. No eating out, but because of ease and cravings, I did alter the menu for a few days, so you will see a few repeats from last week that we didn't get to.

Sunday 11/15
Pork Fried Rice (using leftover pork and rice) $1.00
Asian Coleslaw $1.00
Potstickers $2.75

Monday 11/16
Tostadas (this recipe, no chicken, add black beans and veggies) $1.25
tomato avocado salad $1.25
corn .35 (thank you great sales and coupons!)
mango $1.00

Tuesday 11/17
Spaghetti and Meatballs $3.00
green beans .40
salad .75

Wednesday 11/18
Turkey Sausage $1.50
Sauerkraut w/ potatoes $1.50
apple slices .50

Thursday 11/19
Chili Beer Pot Roast (from freezer-no potatoes-serving on noodles) $4.00
noodles .25
salad .75

Friday 11/20
tacos $3.00
cinnamon apples $1.00

Saturday 11/21
cheeseburgers $3.00
fries .75

Sunday 11/22
Lil Cheddar Meatloaves $2.50
baby carrots w/ cinnabutter .75
garlic mashed red potatoes $1.00

Freezing asparagus for later

I love asparagus. Love love love it. The boys call them "trees", and I love using them in soups, pasta, salads, and on their own roasted or tossed in a lemony vinaigrette. What I usually don't like is the price. So when it goes on sale at a decent price ($1.99/lb at Target this week), I like to stock up.

Thank you Schwans for inspiring the way I freeze them. First, add about 3-4 inches of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. While that is heating, prep your asparagus. Wash, dry, and take 1 stalk of asparagus, holding each end with one hand. Bend the asparagus until it snaps. That is the place where the stalky part ends and the yummy part starts. I just put that shorter piece next to the rest of the bunch, and cut them all to that length.

Once the asparagus is prepped, and the water is boiling, coat a cookie sheet with a piece of foil or wax paper. Drop the asparagus into the boiling water for 1 minute. After a minute, drain, rinse in cold water, and let drip dry for a few minutes. Arrange the asparagus on your cookie sheet and place in the freezer.

After the asaparagus is frozen, drop into a zip bag and label. Now, whenever you want asparagus, you can grab the exact number of spears out that you want because they won't all be stuck together. Reseal and place the bag back into the freezer for the next time!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Incorporating frugal changes into busy lives

I am the breadwinner of my family. Since my position is a management position over several departments and around 30 people, my work week is often 60+ hours. 13 hour days can (and do!) make other family responsibilities difficult. Despite this, I manage to sit down with my family 7 days a week for a home cooked meal (we typically only eat out for special occasions, and almost never eat fast food). I menu plan, coupon, stockpile, garden, can, and make many meals ahead of time and freeze for easy reheating later. I have managed to purge many items, like canned chicken broth, from our house completely. Foods like macaroni and cheese are made from scratch here, not out of a box.

Many of my friends, family members and co-workers are constantly surprised at some of the things I have incorporated into my schedule to help our family save money, eat healthier, and be more organized. It is a common assumption that couponing, meal planning and cooking meals from scratch are very time consuming.

No lie. Some things are. But many are not, and even a few of the things that take a little more time might make sense to do if it helps substantially in another area. The key is to find what works for YOU. And to start small. It's kind of like a diet. You are much more likely to succeed in changing your eating habits if you start small, like cutting out soda, or adding one more vegetable every day. I've tried those no fat, no calorie, no fun, nothing like your regular lifestyle diets before, and yes, I've lost weight, but I couldn't keep up with the changes because there were too many at once, and I gained the weight back.

Making changes to be more frugal are exactly the same. It's incredibly unrealistic to think if you have a monthly food budget of $1000 a month for your family right now, that you can suddenly cut it to $300. If you eat out 4 times a week, cutting to zero might feel like that diet. No fun.

What you can do, though, is begin adding small steps that you can live with, one at a time. Instead of trying to cut back all eating out, just make a decision to eat out one less time a week, and STICK TO IT. If you spend $25 on your family that one night a week, and can instead feed them at home for $10, you just saved $15 a week. That's $780 a year. Pretty cool, huh?

You find the things that work for you. I make many things from scratch, but one thing I'll probably never do is make all of our bread from scratch. Not that I wouldn't love to, and not that I haven't from time to time, but this is one thing I find time consuming and very difficult to fit into my schedule. It's not worth the time I lose for other things, like family. That's just what works for me.

When I started this blog, I wanted to be able to show people that you can work, spend time with your family, and still be able to do things like cook, coupon and eat healthy unprocessed food. In the coming weeks and months, I will be posting a series of articles on very small changes you can make one at a time, just as I did.

If you have posted any articles on subjects like this on your blog, or would like to guest write on a topic you are passionate about, please reach out to me! I would love to show lots of different ideas, and spotlight some of the amazing blogs out there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I've been battling a sinus infection all week...and it's crazy, because it's truly the sickest I've been in a long time. Overnight fevers of 103+, along with all the other unpleasantries.

Hubby today was suggesting foods I might like since I've been feeling so bad. I tend to crave certain foods when I feel this bad, and NONE of them are good for me :) Usually it involves a greasy Culver's cheeseburger or something along those lines. No surprise then, that I altered this week's menu to include a variation on nachos. Not on chips. On tater tots. I'm so naughty. And happy.

Bake tater tots according to directions. When close to being done, spread 1 can of already warmed turkey chili with beans across the top. Garnish with finely chopped onions, peppers, olives and any other veggies you might like. Then top with 1 cup grated cheddar cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, or whatever else you crave when you feel like crud :)

Not proud. But content. Oh, and shocker. The boys ate all their dinner.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creamy Spinach Orzo

This is one of those moments where I get to feel like I'm Sandra Lee. fWe have progressively moved to having fewer and fewer processed foods, but I do keep some things on hand for when I really need to cut the time down, but still have real nutritional value.

This side dish is sooo yummy and easy! The boys eat it up, too.

1/2 box orzo pasta
1 bag fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup of prepared alfredo sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
3T fresh grated parmesan

Bring water for pasta to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to directions for al dente. With 4 minutes left in cooking, add spinach to pasta. Drain pasta and spinach, and return to pot. On low heat, add alfredo sauce, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Heat through, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with parmesan, and serve.

This recipe is linked to Our Krazy Kitchen's Simple Saturday. Check it out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 11/9

This week's menu utilizes some leftovers, make ahead pieces and things like chicken bones, celery tops and broth that I keep stored in my freezer. Total for 7 meals for 4 is just over $28.

Monday 11/9

Grilled pork steaks $2.50

Creamy spinach orzo $.75

Leftover corn .00

Salad $1.00


Tuesday 11/10

Slowcooker chicken in mushroom wine sauce $3.50

Brown rice .50

Broccoli .75

Salad 1.00


Wednesday 11/11

Fish sticks 1.50

Macaroni and cheese 1.00

Steamed baby carrots with cinnabutter 1.00


Thursday 11/12

Pork fried rice (with leftover pork from Monday and extra rice from Tuesday) $1.25

Frozen mixed veggies .50

Fresh sliced pineapple 1.00


Friday 11/13

Tacos $3.50

Corn .75


Saturday 11/14

Chicken noodle soup (frame and broth in freezer) $1.00

Grilled cheese sandwiches $1.25

Salad $1.00


Sunday 11/15

Mini meatloaves $2.50

Roasted red potatoes .75

Asparagus $1.25


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blue Cheese Dressing

We love buffalo hot wings. That means we love blue cheese dressing. It's so easy to make it at home and I think it tastes so much better than store bought.

4oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup light sour cream
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup milk
1T worcestershire
2t lemon juice
1/2t garlic powder
1/2t sea salt
1t fresh ground pepper
couple dashes of hot sauce

Combine all ingredients. Chill for at least one hour.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My new favorite sweetener

I'm not a fan of white refined sugar, but I've never been a fan of using chemical sweeteners for anything but iced tea. They don't do well in baking, not to mention the fact that it's fake. We use honey when we can, but it still has a lot of calories.

I decided a couple weeks ago to try something I've heard a lot about- agave nectar. It comes from a plant similar to an aloe vera plant. Great flavor, sweet, and about the same cost as honey. Best part is that it is a low-glycemic food, so it doesn't spike your blood sugar.

So far I've baked with it, used it in salad dressings, substituted it for maple syrup, and I have liked it every time! I will be experimenting with it more and will share more ideas soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Using my stockpile for charity

As we approach the holidays, I'm thinking about purchases for my stockpile, but also for charity. I have accrued much more through the year than we'll ever need, thankfully, so we make sure it goes to those that have a need. Right now I have about 30 deodorants, 20 toothpastes, along with shelves and shelves of food, so I am boxing up the extra for our area food bank. As I shop, I'm also putting an eye to things that might not be a need for us, but could definitely be used by others. It is very important to me that we give back to our community and help any neighbors that might be experiencing tough times.

Please think of those opportunities as you save and coupon. I will be sharing what I've acquired, and look forward to seeing your stashes as well!

My goal for the rest of this year

Between work, family, the summer garden, and my Mom's cancer, I have really gotten away from blogging, which has made me very sad. I love my blog. It's like my online diary. A place to stay organized, share my thoughts, and also to share information with others. Most importantly, the time I put into my blog is ME time. The lack of time on my blog also signifies real lack of me time, and that needs to change.

On that note, I will be much more active here. Sharing, exchanging thoughts and ideas here with you, talking about our love of food and family. Our love of organization, budgeting, couponing. And juggling it all.

Happy November!

Menu Plan Monday 11/1

A relatively easy week this week, which should give me some time to make freezer meals, some breakfast goodies for the boys and bake a roast for lunch meat. The 8 days of dinners here will work out to around $35.00.

Sunday 11/1
Baked Chicken $2.75
scalloped potatoes .50
steamed broccoli with lemon $1.00
leftover bread with bread dip .00

Monday 11/2
pizza $3.75
salad .75

Tuesday 11/3
Steak and Black Bean Tostadas $3.75
corn .35

Wednesday 11/4
ravioli casserole $4.00
steamed veggies .75
salad $.75

Thursday 11/5
Turkey Sausage with sauerkraut and red potatoes $3.00
green beans .45
baked apples 1.50

Friday 11/6
Fish sticks $1.50
carrot coins with cinna butter $.75
mac and cheese $1.50

Saturday 11/7
chicken alfredo pasta $2.75
broccoli .50

Sunday 11/8
turkey chili dogs $2.50
french fries .75

Easy Baked Bone in Chicken Breasts

I've been seeing lots of sales for bone in chicken breast at .88/lb, which is a fantastic price. I often use bone in chicken for slow cooker recipes, soup, etc. At this price, though, I like to serve it as a main course, and this is an easy, yummy way to do it.

4 bone in chicken breasts (skin on or off, however you prefer)
1/4 butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1t season salt

Preheat over to 400. Spray baking dish with no stick spray. Place chicken in dish. Place butter and garlic in microwave safe bowl. Microwave 40 seconds, stir. Brush garlic butter mixture all over chicken. Sprinkle chicken with season salt. Bake at 400 for 50 to 60 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mega Sale at Bakers

Bakers (Kroger with a local name) is having another Mega Sale. When you buy 10 qualifying items, you get $5 taken off at the register. There doesn't appear to be a limit on how many times you can do this in one transaction. Lots and Lots of coupon matchups for this. It looks like the Mega sale goes through 11/8, so I will be posting links to coupons to help you maximize your savings. Yesterday I got $100 worth of groceries for $31! That's a 69% savings. Not too shabby!

A few highlights from the trip:
  • 4 bags of Ricola cough drops- $1, .50 after the Mega Sale discount- use 2 BOGO coupons from the 10/11 Smart Source insert. They deduct $1 for each coupon. So all 4 bags are FREE!
  • Snuggle Fabric Softener- $3.49, $2.99 after Mega Sale discount- use $3/1 coupon from the 10/4 Red Plum. Makes this FREE!
  • Keebler Cookies are $1.49- .99 after Mega Sale discount- use $1.50/2 coupon here, and pay .24 each when you buy 2.
Check back for more links and scenarios.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Don't you love that name? So catchy! I'm not sure who had the idea, but for the next 4 weeks at work on Fridays, it's Souptacular. We have a sign up sheet for 5 people to each bring in a crockpot of soup each week, and then everyone else is asked to bring crackers, breads, other sides, etc.

Soup is my favorite thing to eat. Seriously. Especially in the Fall when it first starts getting cool and I start craving those awesome comfort foods that we haven't eaten over the summer.

I'm signing up---but I haven't decided what to bring! Have a favorite soup recipe? Let me know!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 10/19

We have a nice sunny day today, and tomorrow, they say sunny and 70! So we'll take advantage of the weather and grill.

Sunday 10/18

Baked bbq pork steaks $3.00

Au gratin potatoes $1.00

Green beans .45


Monday 10/19

Grilled brats $2.00

Onion rings $2.00

Spinach salad $1.00


Tuesday 10/20

Angel hair with sausage, white beans and spinach $3.50

Salad $1.00


Wednesday 10/21

Pot Roast and veggies in the slow cooker $5.00

Mashed Potatoes .50

Salad $1.00


Thursday 10/22

chicken quesadillas $2.50

Tomato soup $1.00

Apple slices .50


Friday 10/23

Baked macaroni and cheese $2.00

Fish sticks $1.75

Broccoli $1.00


Saturday 10/24

Pierogie chicken stroganoff $4.50

Corn $.75


Sunday 10/25

Leftover night

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Favorite Fall Salad

1 bag spring mix
1 honey crisp apple, chopped
3T dried cranberries
2T chopped walnuts
2oz. crumbled blue cheese

3T balsamic vinegar
1T honey
2T olive oil

Mix salad ingredients together in large bowl. In small bowl, whisk vinaigrette indregients and add to salad. Toss well. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 10/11

We got our first snow yesterday. In October! Which means the garden is officially toast until next year. I loooove having the fresh veggies, so that will be sad to have to go back to store bought, but the silver lining is the fun Fall food I get to cook again! Monday through Sunday's dinners come out to 7 dinners for 4 at under $30.

Sunday 10/11
Crockpot Chicken $2.75
mashed potatoes $.75
spinach salad $1.00
green beans .50
bread with bread dip .50

Monday 10/12
chili cornbread bake (using chili from the chili cheese recipe) $1.50
(check back Tuesday to see the recipe for this!)
salad $1.00
applesauce .75

Tuesday 10/13
chicken orzo soup (using chicken and stock from Sunday's chicken) $1.00
grilled cheese sandwiches $1.00
sliced tomatoes .00

Wednesday 10/14
chicken enchiladas $3.00
salad $1.00
cheesy refried beans $1.00

Thursday 10/15
Italian Beef sandwiches (freezer meal) $3.50
onion rings $1.50

Friday 10/16
sloppy joe pasta skillet $2.50
corn $1.00
apple slices .50

bbq pork steaks $3.00
au gratin potatoes $1.00
beans .40

Sunday 10/18
chicken noodle casserole $3.00
baked sweet potato .50
salad $1.00

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chili Cheese Dinner

Chili ingrengients:

1 can chili beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained ( I used bag of frozen diced tomatoes from garden)
1 cup salsa (I used homemade salsa canned from garden)
2 beef boullion cubes
2T onion powder
2T chili powder
2t cumin
1t salt
1T minced garlic

Other Ingredients:
1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 8oz package of shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla or corn chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In glass pie dish, evenly spead cream cheese. In medium sauce pan over medium heat, brown ground beef. Add other chili ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (*****PLEASE NOTE that you are making more chili than you will need for this meal. You can freeze for another time, or use for other dishes. I will be posting another recipe you can use this chili in later this week)

After 30 minutes, spoon 3 cups of chili into pie dish over cheese. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 for 20, or until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. Serve with chips.

We had this dish with corn, tomato slices and applesauce tonight. Check back later this week for the Chili Cornbread casserole I'll be making with the leftover chili!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Target Deals this week

Yesterday on the way home I stopped and got 2 Mott's apple juices and 3 Mott's applesauces at $1.75 each for a total of $8.75. I got a $5 gift card back.

Today I stopped for 2 boxes of Quaker Granola bars and a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter. The granola bars are $2 this week and I used a $1/2 mq, and 2 .50/1 Target coupons. The Skippy was $2.04- I used a .75/mq and a $1/1 Target q. Total was $2.09, which I paid for with my gift card.

Menu Plan Week of 10/5

Wow. What a week. Somehow hubby managed to follow most of the meal plan from last week, even though I ended up driving home to my parents in a flurry on Wednesday after finding out that my mother's biopsy revealed lymphoma. The mass they removed was a lot larger than expected. Please keep her in your prayers as this week we start getting more info on the stage, type and treatment she will need to follow.

This week definitely reflects the weather change here...starting to do more comfort foods. (Maybe that's also because I need the comfort? Hmmm.)

Monday 10/5
Slowcooker chicken in mushroom wine sauce (I added fresh mushroms to this also) $4.00
Brown rice .50
Acorn squash 1.00
Salad 1.00

Tuesday 10/6
Cheeseburger macaroni $3.75
Spinach salad $1.00
Green beans .45

Wednesday 10/7
Italian Beef Sandwiches $5.00
Potato salad $1.50
Apple slices .50

Thursday 10/8
Chicken Enchiladas $3.50
Corn $1.00

Friday 10/9
chicken and white bean pasta $3.00
Broccoli $1.00

Saturday 10/10
Chili $3.75
Tortilla Chips .50
Oranges .75

Sunday 10/11
Crockpot roasted chicken $3.00
Glazed carrots .75
Salad 1.00
Corn bread .75

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan Week of September 28th

Whew! I think that the birthday party/hurt shoulder/too much to do at work/put up R's bunk bed/deal with the masses of veggies from the garden/ clean out closets and start getting ready for fall/ deep clean downstairs/ find time for playdates and exercise/ celebrate our anniversary whirlwind might finally be slowing down just a smidge!

That means I will be posting some of this week's recipes as I go, along with this week's shopping trips. Spending the past few weeks on food has been great, but the difference has all gone to dental work, eye visits and new outfits for me, as all my clothes were getting horrendously too big.

This week's dinners comes out to a little over $30 for 7 meals for 4, along with some calculated leftovers (pork steaks) for future meals.

Monday 9/28

Southwestern steak and potato skillet $3.50

Broccoli $1.00

Tomato slices .00


Tuesday 9/29

Chicken, white bean and orzo soup $1.75 (homemade stock)

Grilled cheese sandwiches $1.00

Caprese salad $.75


Wednesday 9/30

Homemade beefaroni 3.00

Green beans .45

Salad $1.00


Thursday 10/1

Chicken and black bean nachos $2.00

Corn 1.00

Oranges .50


Friday 10/2

cheeseburgers $3.00

tater tots $.75

salad $1.00


Saturday 10/3

Orange glazed grilled pork steaks $3.50

Au gratin potatoes $1.00

Beans $.75


Sunday 10/4

Crockpot chili w/ cheese and sour cream $4.00

Tortilla chips .50

Salad $1.00


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday Night Birthday Parties?

R attended a pretty neat birthday party last night...the facility is a gym with all kinds of cool play things, and a swimming pool. For half the party, the kids swim. Then they get to go run around and climb and jump and roll and tumble in the gym. Then off to the party room for sugar (greeeeaaat, right?) The interesting part was that it was a party that started at 5:45 on a Friday night. I don't think I've ever seen that. I guess it worked pretty well, though. They had a LOT of kids show up. I guess I'm just stuck on Saturday and Sunday parties :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Menu Plan...Errr....Tuesday....

Yep....a day late, a dollar short....the story of my life :) Here's this week's meal plan-

Yesterday 9/14
brat patties on buns 3.00
fries .75
caprese salad 1.00

Tuesday 9/15
alfredo penne with sausage and spinach $4.00
bread .50

Wednesday 9/16
tacos $3.00
corn $1.00

Thursday 9/17
grilled chicken $2.00
broccoli $.75
mashed potatoes $.75

Friday 9/18
spaghetti with meatballs $3.50
green beans .50
salad $1.00

Saturday 9/19
cheeseburgers $3.00
green bean fries $2.00

Sunday 9/20
homemade mac and cheese $2.50
sliced tomatoes .00
biscuits $.50

Monday, September 7, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 9/7

Here's the plan for the week....I will post the parmesan chicken recipe later this week and will attempt to get a few others up as well. I priced the meals out for the week but don't have a total because who knows how much damage we'll do at Red Robin LOL. R's party is next Sunday so the crockpot meal will be perfect.

Monday 9/7
Cheeseburgers $3.00
Corn on the cob $1.25
Green bean fries $2.00

Tuesday 9/8
R’s birthday- dinner at Red Robin

Wednesday 9/9
Parmesan stuffed chicken breasts $2.75
Lemon and Rosemary Roasted potatoes .75
Salad w/ red wine vinaigrette $1.00

Thursday 9/10
Meatball sandwiches w/ marinara, peppers and mozzarella $3.25
Apple slices .50

Friday 9/11
Chicken tostadas with salsa verde $2.50
Black beans .50
Tomato and corn salad $1.00

Saturday 9/12
Grilled smoked sausage $1.50
potato salad $1.50
beans $1.00

Sunday 9/13
Crockpot chili $4.00
Tortilla chips .50
Salad $1.00

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Saturday

Sooo looking forward to 3 days off from work. Well, technically, I have some work to do over the weekend, but at least it doesn't require waking up at 3am! That leaves me with lots and lots of work here in the house.

  • I have about 30 lbs. of cucumbers and about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that I need to do something with. Thinking relish for the cucumbers, and sauce for most of the tomatoes. I've been making salsa and also dehydrating many of the tomatoes I've already processed.
  • R's 7th birthday is Tuesday and his party is next Sunday so I have planning and errands to run for that.
  • meal plan for this week. Looks like I'll get one night off Tuesday because R is requesting Red Robin for his birthday. We haven't eaten out in ages, so this will be fun!
  • Drawer and closet cleanout for the boys and for me. Need to make sure we are ready for the transition into fall and I can start looking for anything they might be short on. For me, it's about getting all the big clothes out of the drawers and finding smaller clothes for fall. I grabbed thicker dress pants and a long sleeve shirt earlier this week on a cooler day at 3 when I wasn't awake, and it wasn't until I was at work after a couple of cups of coffee that I realized that I was SWIMMING in my outfit. I hadn't worn these items since March, and while it was cool to see just how much I've changed in 6 months, it was also pretty embarassing because I looked like a bag lady. So much so that the next day one of the sales girls came up and asked me what size I was now, because she'd lost weight too and might have some things to fit me. LOL.
  • need to spend time in my garden and start taking out plants that are done for the season. Some of the tomato plants are done, and I have to get them out because you can't compost with tomato plants.
I'm sure there are many other things I'm not thinking of, but I hope to get a healthy dash of REST in there as well!

Check back this weekend for some recipes I'm overdue on posting, including the huge successes I''ve had with dehydrating my romas. I rehydrated some this week for pasta, and they were even better than the sundried tomatoes you end up spending $5 a bag for.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan 8/31

Yikes. I made a meal plan last week. Didn't even post it. My shoulder has made sitting at my notebook tough to do for long periods of time. Especially after a long day at work. So I completely skipped last week. I think that's the first time in 9 months. I still had a plan that I followed. I also had a great shopping week. Stockpiling really lets you just buy the best buys for the week, along with any fresh food needs. My spend for the week was around $40. Today I spent $21 between Walgreens and Bag n Save. Got $5 RR to boot. I plan to make a Target trip this week, and then we'll just see what's on sale come Wednesday's grocery ads. Tonight I had hubby grill the 3lbs of chicken breasts I got for $4, and I put them all in the freezer for future meals.

The menu this week is fairly simple. Using the fresh produce in my garden, as well as preserving as much of it as I can, which has been a challenge with the aforementioned shoulder, but I'm making the best of it. 7 dinners for 4, clocking in at just under $30.

Monday 8/31

Meatless Monday

Angel hair with spinach, feta and sundried tomatoes $2.50

Pasta .50, spinach $1.50, feta .50, tomatoes .00 (homegrown and dried)

Tomato and white bean salad with basil .50


Tuesday 9/1

Grilled pork tenderloin $4.00

Cheesy mashed potatoes 1.00

Steamed Broccoli w/ lemon vinaigrette .75


Wednesday 9/2

Spaghetti with Italian sausage and homemade sauce $2.50

Salad $1.00


Thursday 9/3

Asian Roll Lettuce Wraps $3.50

Pineapple .65


Friday 9/4

Cheeseburgers $3.50

Bbq beans .25

Tomato and corn salad $1.00


Saturday 9/5

Chicken and black bean quesadillas $2.75

Fresh salsa .50

Apple slices .50


Sunday 9/6

Italian beef sandwiches $4.00

Tater tots .75


Tomato and White Bean Salad

Healthy. Inexpensive. Easy. And a great way to use your garden veggies.

2 cups of cooked white beans, or 1 can, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
3T fresh basil, chopped
1/2 t garlic powder
3T olive oil
2T lemon juice
rind from one lemon
2T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In medium bowl, add all ingredients to basil. In small bowl, whisk garlic powder, oil, juice, rind and vinegar. Add to salad, stir to combine, add salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve. Great leftovers, if you have any. I sometimes make double just so I have some for easy lunches in the fridge.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Catch Up

Wow. I really can't believe how the weeks are flying right now, and having a bum shoulder is not helping the situation. I haven't been posting as much, because it hurts to even sit at the computer for very long. I am feeling better than I was, though, so hopefully I'll be back at em very soon.

R started school with a half day on Tuesday. I really like his new teacher and I'm excited about 2nd grade for him. I think it's going to be a good year for learning, but also for making friends, which hasn't been his strong point. He's been out all weekend playing with the neighbor kids, which is great. I'm excited to see them bond. That can only help him build skills to make friends at school as well. His birthday is coming up and we're inviting the entire class, so I hope that will also help.

The garden is in perpetual harvest mode right now, and that's not been easy with the shoulder. With 13 tomato plants going crazy, there's been a LOT to preserve! Today I'm currently canning 7 pints of salsa. I've been dehydrating, roasting, freezing, you name it. My cucumbers have made lovely pickles. I hope to make relish soon.

I have to get the menu plan ready for the week. I usually have it written by Thursday or Friday. Not so lucky this week. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday Week of August 16th

Sunday 8/16

Grilled chicken $1.75

Noodles .50

Asparagus $1.00

Tomato slices .00


Monday 8/17

BLTs $2.00

Potato salad $1.25

Sliced apples .50


Tuesday 8/18

Beef fajitas $4.30

Sirloin $2.60, peppers in garden .00, onion .30, tortillas .65, lettuce .25, cheese .50

Fresh salsa with garden veggies .00

Refried beans .50


Wednesday 8/19

Grilled pork chops $2.50

Grilled potato packets .75

Bbq beans .75


Thursday 8/20

Chicken alfredo pasta $2.75

Broccoli .75

Tomato and basil salad .00


Friday 8/21

Pizza Joes $2.00

Cucumber and tomato salad .00

Green bean fries $2.50


Saturday 8/22

Grilled pork steaks $2.50

Baked potatoes .75

Salad $1.00


Sunday 8/23

Angel hair pasta with roasted tomatoes, herbs and asiago cheese $1.00

Salad $1.00


Working Wounded

Sore shoulder or no, we will start drowning in vegetables if I don't do something. So working slowly today. These cucumbers slices are soaking in ice water to help their crispness before they become cold packed dills and cold packed bread and butter pickles. I still haven't done a full can on the pickles. I'm almost afraid to because I like the crunch from the cold packed ones so much. Afraid the canning process will make them mushy. Guess I'll get brave eventually.

I still have 3 large bags of cucumbers in the fridge even after slicing 56 of them up. Crazy.

Next will be the 5 bags of roma tomatoes begging to be peeled, diced and canned or frozen or made into yummy sauce or salsa.

When your freezer meals come in handy

I have even more awe and respect this week for those that deal with chronic pain. I have been living with severe shoulder pain for the past few weeks. Some trigger point injections will hopefully improve this situation, but it is amazing how something like that can affect everything. Your mood, your energy level, your ability to do even simple things around the house. You can take pain medication, but I find that taking enough to kill the pain makes me even more ineffective around the house.

After the doctor nagged at me yesterday, I decided to actually listen (what a concept, huh?) and take it easy for the day, despite the bags and bags of tomatoes and cucumbers building up that need to be processed into sauces and pickles.

I also deviated from my dinner plan, as I'd already spent some time in the kitchen yesterday morning making a batch of sausage and cheese biscuits for the freezer for the boys' breakfasts, and didn't particularly feel like spending more time than necessary. (I'm left-handed, and this is my left shoulder, so even chopping gets to be painful)

So I finally got to use the lasagna that I'd made for the freezer back in mid-April. Right after I made the pans it got really hot and I've been avoiding the oven as much as possible. Yesterday was not so bad, though, so I took on of the lasagnas out, barely thawed it, added about a 1/3 cup of water, sealed the foil down tightly and baked it for about 90 minutes at 350. It was awesome!

Taking the time to make some meals and freeze them can really save you when you need it the most. Often I will just make double what we plan to eat and freeze half. Takes you no extra time, yet you have something ready to heat and eat.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes and cucumbers! :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Potato Kielbasa Skillet

This is a fast, comfort food recipe that my whole family likes. I'm including the price breakouts for what I paid to make this last night based on sales, coupons, garden, etc., to show how affordable it can be, too.

1 Kielbasa sausage rope- 16oz. ($1.50)
6 medium potatoes, skins on, sliced (.75)
1 medium onion, chopped- (.40)
1 green bell pepper, chopped- (.00-from garden)
3T olive oil, divided (.10)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2t garlic powder
8oz shredded swiss cheese ($1.00)

In large skillet, heat 1T olive oil over medium-high heat. Slice sausage into bite size pieces. Place in skillet and cooked until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from skillet. Add remaining oil, onions, potatoes, pepper, and spices. Cook, flipping potatoes occasionally, until well browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle cheese over top and cover until melted. Serve with a veggie or salad.

This dish cost me $3.75 to prepare, plus some fresh steamed asparagus for $1.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Good week at Walgreens

I had a $10 RR about to expire, so I decided to take advantage of this week's deals and my coupons and see what I could do. Here's what I got:

2 Maxwell House cans of coffee @ 2 for $5.00
4 packages of Bic pens @ .50 each= $2 minus 2 $1/2 coupons= free

For $6 RR- Buy 3 @ 3/$9 and receive $6 RR
2 Reach toothbrushes @ $3= $6 minus BOGO MF= $3
1 Listerine Mouthwash @ $3 minus .50 MF= $2.50
Total $5.50 plus received $6 RR

Jergens Lotion @ $5.99. Got $5 RR
Colgate toothpaste @ $2.99 minus .75 MF= $2.24. Got $3RR

My total OOP after coupons and RR= $10.13. Got back $14 in RR. Hubby still can't figure out how I made money on two bags of stuff! :)

Menu Plan Week of 8/10

We'll try this again. Let's see if I can post photos and recipes this week. I posted tonight's menu again, as I roasted a pan of tomatoes for this earlier today, and will be posting the recipe.

Sunday 8/9

Pasta with roasted tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and Italian sausage $3.80

Pasta .40, tomatoes .00, onion .30 mushrooms $1.29, sausage 1.00, cheese .50

Salad $1.00

Strawberry shortcake $1.50

Angel food cake, sliced strawberries, cool whip


Monday 8/10

Apricot glazed grilled pork steaks $2.50

Bbq beans .25

spinach salad $1.50


Tuesday 8/11

Chicken patty sandwiches $2.00

Fries .75

Caprese salad $1.00


Wednesday 8/12

Rotini pasta with Italian sausage, tomatoes and cheese $1.50

Salad 1.00

Green beans in freezer .75

Garlic toast .50


Thursday 8/13

pork fried rice $2.25

Mandarin oranges .50


Friday 8/14

Beef fajitas $4.30

Sirloin $2.60, peppers in garden .00, onion .30, tortillas .65, lettuce .25, cheese .50

Fresh salsa with garden veggies .00

Refried beans .50


Saturday 8/15

Grilled chicken $1.75

Potato salad $1.25

Asparagus $1.00


Sunday 8/16

Italian beef sandwiches $5.00

Roasted potatoes $1.00

A dessert to be named later


What a week!

I apologize to you if you follow the blog- I have had one of those weeks- long days at work, a trip to ER with hubby, you name it, we did it. As I've had a chance to breathe and catch up a little bit, I will be back to posting.

I did not get a chance to put up all of last week's recipes. I didn't even get a chance to MAKE all of last week's recipes! :) I had a couple of requests for my cuban sandwich recipe, and I promise to post it. We didn't get to make it here, though, as I set aside leftover grilled pork tenderloin for the recipe, and then forgot to tell hubby. It became his late night snack. Lovely.

This week I hope to get back to posting some recipes, along with pictures of the garden bounty coming in, and ways that I am using, preserving, freezing, etc.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 8/3

You can tell it's summer here and that I have a lot of produce to use in the garden. I will be posting recipes across the week so please check back if there's something that interests you. I am trying to be better about posting pictures of the foods with the recipe, so that means posting the recipe afterwards. This week's dinners are just over $30 for 7 dinners for 4, with ample leftovers.

Monday 8/3
Meatless Monday
Cheese ravioli w/ white beans, fresh tomatoes and basil $2.00
Salad $.75

Tuesday 8/4
Steak, black bean and cheese quesadillas $4.50
Fresh salsa .00
Corn 1.00
Pineapple .65

Wedensday 8/5
Cheesy Ham and Potatoes $3.50
Broccoli .75
Apple slices .50

Thursday 8/6
Chicken nachos $3.00

Friday 8/7
Grilled Pork tenderloin $4.00
Asparagus $1.00
Make ahead carrots in freezer .50

Saturday 8/8
Cheeseburgers $3.50
French fries .75
tomato, corn and basil salad (using leftover corn from Tuesday) .00

Sunday 8/9
Cuban sandwiches (using leftover pork tenderloin) $2.50
Leftover Calico beans from freezer .00
Grilled bananas with caramel sauce and ice cream $1.50

Chicken Pita Wraps

I'm not into traditional gyros simply because I don't like the lamb. I like the rest of it, though, so I've improvised through the years using grilled chicken. I think it makes this dish pretty darn healthy as well.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2t dried oregano or 1T fresh, chopped very fine
  • 1/2t sea salt
  • 1/2t pepper
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1/2t garlic powder

chopped lettuce
chopped onion
diced tomatoes
diced cucumbers
garbanzo beans
feta cheese
4 pita wraps
Cucumber Sauce

Place chicken in a large ziploc bag. Whisk marinade ingredients together in bowl, and pour over chicken in bag. Marinate at least 30 minutes on counter or 2 hours in fridge. Grill chicken until no longer pink. Slice into bite size pieces.

I like to wrap the pitas in foil and place on the grill with the chicken for the last couple minutes to heat them. You could also do it in the microwave or oven.

Serve with toppings. I use garbanzo beans, but you could substitute hummus if you prefer.

This recipe is linked to Simply Delicious Sunday

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cucumber Sauce

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? So, if life gives me cucumbers, I make cucumber sauce. I can't officially call this tzatziki, because it only has sour cream in it, not yogurt. You could do half and half w/ plain or greek yogurt and sour cream to make it a little more authentic.

2 small cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 lemon, juiced
2T olive oil
1T fresh dill or mint
1 16oz container of sour cream
sea salt to taste

Place sour cream in a small bowl. Place garlic in food processor and pulse until minced. Add cucumbers, lemon juice, olive oil and dill and pulse 4 or 5 times. Stir mixture into sour cream. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Overnight is even better.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Simple Things

I love having fresh veggies in my garden, but I think I'm equally as excited to finally have developed a decent cutting flower garden. I get to enjoy them in my house and my yard!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Odd one at Walgreens today...

Don't know if anyone has gotten this- probably not as I'mthinking I'm the only dork that would walk in and buy 3 bottles of Benefiber. (4yo has to be fed this stuff on a daily basis or it's bad news around here LOL). It was one of the products listed under the "Spend $30, get $10 RR". They were $10 each. I had 3 $2 off coupons. After tax and before coupons it was just over $32, and just over $26 after coupons. I pay, get a $10 RR, and then, magically, another $2 RR popped out! $12 back, making it $14 for 2 bottles of the powder and 1 bottle of chewables. Not sure why I got the 2nd RR, but I'll take it!

To Do Tuesday 7/28

I actually got most of what was on my list done. Except for get a pedicure. I know, right? SLACKER.

So, here's what I have on tap for this week-

  1. dinner
  2. bath for boys
  3. face mask
  4. go through end of month coupons and get organized
  5. do something with the 6lbs. of Strawberries I bought yesterday
  6. pack R's lunch for camp tomorrow
  7. go to bed early
  1. Longer day at work
  2. time in garden
  3. thank you cards. must do thank you cards
  4. grocery store runs, as necessary based on ads and coupons
  5. deep condition my hair
  1. parents day at R's camp
  2. hit the gym
  3. time in garden
  4. any other grocery hits or other errands
  1. Relax with the family. It's Friday! Have a martini, will ya?
  1. weeding time in garden. hope I have lots of tomatoes by this weekend.
  2. work on dining room table until I can actually see it again. novel concept.
  3. clean K's room and go through his closet
  4. hit the gym
  5. time with hubby
  1. special breakfast for boys
  2. park trip with boys and dog
  3. more fish for tank
  4. start organazing stockpile shelves
  5. menu plan for week
  6. get clothes laid out