Saturday, August 13, 2011

Carrot Walnut Salad

Carrot Walnut Salad, adapted from Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello.

1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large carrots, grated (or 1 bag preshredded carrots)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley (I omitted this and it was just as yummy)

Soak the raisins in hot water for 20 minutes to plump them.  Drain.  In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, lemon juice, honey and salt.  Combine the remaining ingredients and dressing in a medium bowl, toss to coat. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Menu Monday 8/8

It has been a hectic week in our household.  Last week my dear hubby and I ended up out of town for a night at a wedding without the kids.  Along with a ton of other life things I got super busy.  This week our church is hosting a VBS.  Next week's menu will probably be even less exciting since I'm feeding my kids in the car a couple of days as we go from swim lessons to picking up extra VBSers then to Panda mania.  So here's last week's menu posted for this week.  Enjoy.  If you're looking for something with a little more spunk, check out the menus at I'm an organized junkie.

Sunday-Life Group Black Bean Brownies and Spinach dip with veggies

Monday-Play date with a friend, my contribution was sliced watermelon

Tuesday-Cheeseburger sliders

Wednesday-turkey sandwiches with carrot walnut salad

Thursday-Baked Spaghetti

Friday-Grandma's in charge.  I can only imagine what they ate. 

Saturday-Rotisserie Style Chicken with rice

Cheeseburger Sliders

I did not invent the idea of sliders.  Actually, I've tried a few recipes such as sliders at Krista's Kitchen, mushroom & swiss sliders at Pioneer Woman, or oven baked cheeseburger sliders at Make Dinner Easy.  I just adapted the concept with what I had readily available.  Although it has cooled off a bit, I really liked making these on the stove top. 

1 pound ground beef
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 Tablespoon garlic salt
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
2 slices of cheese, your choice on the type
8 mini-sandwich rolls
Burger toppings of your choice such as fried onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and selective condiments. 

Mix ground beef with onion, salt , and Worcestershire.  Divide the beef in half.  Then divide each half into 4 equal mini burgers, for a total of 8 burgers.  Cook for about 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other, in a skillet on the stove top.  Cook until no longer pink in the center.  Put on the rolls and top with desired toppings.  I served this with a mock spinach salad (much like this one but much easier) and cucumber slices.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Menu Monday-Batch cooking

Batch cooking is a great way to have meals ready either in your fridge or freezer.  Having meals at your finger tips helps prevent those impulsive trips through the drive thru.  This is also super helpful when things are really warm and you don't want to heat up your kitchen every night of the week.  Batch cooking is one of the ways that I can survive as a working mom with a husband who does shift work.  It's so much easier to get a home cooked meal on the table when a lot of the prep work has already been done. 

chicken breasts to be used to top salads or for a chicken salad sandwich
meaty calzones
Use this concept I made...
Meaty Stromboli using meaty pizza sauce
BBQ chicken Stromboli using easy shredded chicken
Beer Brats
Brat and Tot Casserole
ABC Muffins
More homemade salsa
peanut butter chocolate chip granola
Homemade Iced Tea

Be sure to check out my menu and others like it at I'm an organized junkie.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Easy Shredded BBQ chicken

It's always good to have very simple go to recipes that can be versatile, prepped quick, and served without a fuss.  This is one of those recipes.  Here is a recipe that is equally as yummy but is not quite as easy and the 3 ingredient recipe.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
3/4 cup store bought BBQ sauce
1 onion, chopped

Place chicken, BBQ sauce, and onion in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken.  Use chicken for BBQ sandwiches, calzones, or Stromboli.

ABC Muffins

These were adapted slightly from Nikeletta's version of ABC muffins.  I am not a huge muffin person, but there are really yummy.  They are perfectly moist and there is just enough chocolate chips to take care of that sweet tooth.  3 out of the 4 us love these.  The one that doesn't, needs to eat a cheeseburger and only seems to want to consume fruit and crackers.  He's weird, I'm not sure where he came from.  Just kidding.  If you know Camden, he's got his own unique personality, one only a mother could love!

1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 cup applesauce (she uses a grated apple-which is good, too and I've made them that way)
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix in brown sugar.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well, but not too much... over-mixing makes muffins tough.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spray muffins tins with cooking spray.  Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 2/3 full.  Bake 25 minutes, until tops are golden brown

Meaty Calzones

 This is an adapted version of the pepperoni calzone

homemade pizza dough
2 cups of meaty pizza sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Garlic salt for sprinkling

Prepare the dough according to the directions.  Or use store bought pizza dough if in a time crunch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

Form the dough into 8 balls and roll out each ball from the center, into a rectangle approximately 5 inches by 8 inches, leaving the short ends slightly rounded.  Place a spoonful of pizza sauce onto one half of the rectangle.  Add about 2 Tablespoons of meat sauce and some shredded cheese to each calzone.  Fold the dough over and press the edges together with a fork, sealing in the sauce, and cheese.  Brush the top of each calzone with olive oil and sprinkle garlic on top.

Bake calzone in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Serve warm or cool completely, to place in freezer.

Meaty Pizza Sauce

This is another recipe that I tweaked from The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase.  Seriously, I need to get that back to the library...I've already renewed it once.  I used this sauce in a 2 different recipes as I was doing some batch cooking.  I made calzones and Stromboli.  In the future I will use it to make homemade pizza.  You could double each of the above recipes if you only wanted to make one of them.  Each only requires about 1/2 of the meaty sauce. 

1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder

Brown ground beef with onion.  Once browned, add the tomato sauce and seasoning.  Stir together.  Cook for about 6 minutes until combined well.  Use the sauce for whatever you would like.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Here you go our images for today include a story of one hot afternoon.

Shhh don't tell but my son was painting his toe nails...I think he liked it, should I be concerned?

Rolling down the street, smoking indo, sippin on gin and juice...Laid back with my mind on my money and my money on my mind . Doing some front porch sitting and drinking some ice cold  Lemonade. 

Deep thoughts...
And hypnotizing are getting very sleepy...
My dear friends, life is good!  Make sure you enjoy some time with those precious gifts you've been given.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."  James 1:17

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Monday 7/25

Thank goodness for central air.  Here's the problem with living in Wisconsin, it's either freezing cold or hot/humid that you can't stand yourself.  Spring and Fall are supposed to be the "reasonable" seasons in this area, however with a blizzard near the end of April and temps still dropping near freezing into late May/early June.  Now that warmer weather has arrived, it's here...mid 90's with a heat index of well over 100 degrees.  I know we are not alone with all this heat.  I'm not complaining, (because we have working central air) but I'm also not working on my tan like I should be.  I did use my oven but it was at a minimal, mostly for some batch cooking.  What are some ways that you try to beat the heat and get a healthy meal on the table for your family?

Sunday- Easy Chicken Tortellini Parmesan

Monday- crockpot pork stew over rice

Tuesday-Little Cesar's $5 pizza with three-bean salad

Wednesday-peanut butter chocolate chip granola with apple/strawberry smoothies

Thursday-rice cooker mac and cheese with hot dogs


Saturday-lentil tacos with chips and homemade salsa

You can see my menu and others like it at I'm an organized junkie.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three-Bean Salad

I adapted this recipe from Cheap. Fast. Good.  by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.  It is listed as one of their "Super Cheap" meals.  This came together pretty quickly and I would say since I purchased 2 of  the beans for around $.49 per can at Aldi and the corn  and white beans were in my pantry.  If I was a betting woman, I would say this is a meal served for under $2.50, if you play your cards right.  It made a lot.  We ate it as a side dish but it could have been a main dish, easily.  Gosh I have got to figure out how to do an excel spreadsheet or something. 

The 3 Main Beans...

Now for the bean salad...

1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can small white beans, drained
1 can green beans, drained
1 can corn-I used white because it was what I had, drained
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place all the beans and corn in a colander, drain and rinse.  Drain well.  Place beans and corn in a medium sized bowl.  Peel and chop the onion, adding it to the bean mixture.  Toss everything together.  Pour oil and vinegar in a small bowl.  Whisk in garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Pour dressing over the bean mixture and stir until well coated.  Serve at once or cover and chill to serve.

Easy Chicken Tortellini Parmesan

The chicken tortellini Parmesan was born because I had 2 packages of cheese tortellini that needed to get eaten.  I thought I'd spice it up and use chicken instead of ground beef or turkey.  This tasted a lot like chicken Parmesan even without the extra cheese on top.  We all liked it. 

2 chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 packages refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 jar of spaghetti sauce or 2 cups of homemade sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan

In a skillet, heat oil.  Add diced chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Cook tortellini according to package directions.  When chicken and tortellini are done, combine in skillet.  Cover with sauce.  Cook until sauce is heated through.  Add Parmesan as desired.

Ricer Cooker Mac and Cheese

This recipe was found over at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.  It was adapted, slightly for our family.  I purchased a rice cooker and I'm loving it both for rice or great dishes like Jambalaya.  If you have a rice cooker, make this and if you don't...go and get one...this is amazing and simple mac and cheese without all the preservatives of the boxed stuff.

1 3/4 cup homemade chicken broth or 1 can store bought
2 cups any type of pasta, I used a tri-color pasta
3/4 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Place the broth in the rice cooker and add the dry pasta.  Set rice cooker on "cook", after about 15 minutes all the liquid should be absorbed.  Turn it to "warm".  I think it's automatically supposed to do this like it would with rice but it made me a little nervous, so I just did it by hand.  Add about half of the milk.  Then the cheese.  Stir.  Add the remaining milk to the pasta. Stir.  Allow to sit on warm until cheese it fully melted and ready to serve.

Apple/Strawberry Smoothies

My kids LOVE smoothies.  They ask for them all the time.  I meant to take a picture but once I got things semi picked up and I turned around to snap a photo of this smoothie in the "baby" cup, this is what I ended up with.  You can really make smoothies with just about any kind of fruit.  I had never made one with apples before.  Since I had cut up some apples for a trip to the pool, which was cut short by thunder, the leftovers ended up in this smoothie.  Win, Win.  Right?  Snack at the pool and beverage for dinner.  Smoothies come together in a snap with my Magic Bullet.  Clean up is a breeze and it's perfect to make individual smoothies with different fruits with no additional mess.  Do you see how I could end up a hoarder of kitchen appliances? 
1 cup apple diced, not peeled
1 container strawberry yogurt
1/2 cup milk

Place all item in the Magic Bullet.  Blend until smooth.  Serve in bullet cup.  Or I usually pour it into 2 cups for the kids to split.  This serves 1 big person or 2 little people.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Poor Vinnie was violated early this week by the vet.  He had his anal gland expressed.  Once the vet's put on the rubber gloves and lubed up her hand, Vinnie didn't know what hit him. This is how he used to lay around prior to Monday, letting it ALL hang out. 

Now it's guarded and locked, no one can get in there. 
Poor Vinnie, "How's your buttock?"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pork Stew over Rice

I think this might have overcooked a bit.  It was still good. 

1 pound pork stew meat
1 onion sliced
5-6 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 packet gravy mix

Spray the well of a crockpot with cooking spray.  Add the pork, onions, and carrots.  Mix the gravy packet with broth until dissolved.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the meat mixture.  Set crockpot on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve over rice.

Walgreen's 7-19

So I've been couponing again or at least searching for the bargains.  I really had no intentions on heading to Walgreen's this week since there were really no amazing coupon deals that struck me.  However, as luck would have it, I am sick AGAIN.  For like the 1,000th time this year.  I am on my 3rd bout of strep throat of 2011, everyone say "AWWW.  Poor baby!"  So I had to head to Walgreen's to pick up an antibiotic and some other drugs.  I still had my $4.00 Register Rewards from my trip last week. I had peeked at my "go-to" websites and had my eye on some deodorant.  My trip was very simple and I earned another $4.00 Register Rewards for next week.  Although the crayons are not from Walgreen's I had Scott step out of his comfort zone and ask for a price match at Wal Mart while he was there picking up oil stuff for his motorcycle. 

My deals from Walgreen's...
1 3 ring binder
6 2 pocket folder (I still need to get 4 more for Camden's list)
2 Crayola crayons
1 male Mitchum deodorant
1 female Mitchum deodorant 

All for a total of...$2.42 (not including my drugs...prescription drugs...not backstreet drugs).  Plus I have $4.00 Register Rewards for next week at Walgreen's.  I am really loving that I have been chipping away at Camden's school supply list slowly.  I only have a few more things to pick and I am waiting for a really good sale on Crayola Washable Markers...come on big money, come to mamma. My toiletry and grocery budget for the remainder of the month is pretty slim, I think I got a little too excited on last Friday with couponing and spent more than intended.  With what I already have stocked in my pantry and freezer, I am not feeling strained.  I'm going to double check tonight to see if there are any must haves at Copp's, I think the Cascade Rinse Aid is free with the right coupons, so I might check that out.  Happy Shopping.  Anybody have any great savings tips or shopping trips you want to share?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Menu Monday 7/18

Sunday-Life Group...I volunteered to bring a loaf of bread with garlic butter and JELLO fruit salad

Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday (most of it)-hubby and kids are gone camping with grandpa in his camper, so of course I had to send a few things with them for meals because eating out 3 meals per day is not good on the budget!  Most of the food that I sent was easily prepared at home, stored in a cooler, and could be warmed in the microwave.  My original intention was to prepared a few baked goods like banana bread, puffed carmel corn, or brownie cookie bars, however, our central air decided to have a mind of it's own.  To make a long story short, apparently last winter and mouse and his family decided to make a home in our outdoor unit.  While they were lounging around they decided to chew on some of our wires hopefully resulting in electrocution of those ugly little suckers, that was causing shorts in our unit.  So we got it repaired and now can live happily in air conditioning.  According to the dude (OK he's not just a dude-he's the husband of my husband's partner at work--I know, dude works better), this is a common problem.  Actually, the mice really like it if you cover your air conditioner because it's warmer.  Thankfully, we don't give our air conditioner a winter woobie or it could've been much worse, maybe even a community of mice.  OMG I can't talk about this anymore or I'm gonna tweak.

So this is what I sent along for the camping in a camper event...

Chicken Lo mein (chicken helper)
salami sandwiches
string cheese
flexible Mexican filling  for tacos
brown rice and pinto beans
canned ravioli
cereal with milk
variety of pre-packaged processed snacks and beverages

Wednesday- scrambled eggs with ABC Muffins

Thursday-baked spaghetti with Parmesan knots, applesauce

Friday-grilled turkey burgers with homemade salsa, Suddenly Salad, and fruit salad

Saturday-crockpot potato and ham casserole

If you're looking for more menu options, check out I'm an organized junkie.

JELLO Fruit Salad

3 small boxes sugar free strawberry JELLO
2 + cups of water
1 cup of pineapple juice, drained from the might be just under 1 cup fill the rest of the cup with water
1 can pineapple chunks
1 10 ounce bag of frozen strawberries
1 banana thinly slices
1 small container light cool whip

Bring the 3 cups of liquid to a boil.  Place JELLO in a bowl, add the boiling water.  Stir until JELLO is dissolved.  Add pineapple, frozen strawberries, and bananas.  Stir.  Chill about 3 (or more) hours.  Gently stir to not break the fruit to much, mix so all JELLO and fruit is loose.  Stir in container of cool whip.  It will look more like a fluff. 

crockpot potato and ham casserole

It's another hot one out there today and I had no intentions on heating up the house with the oven.  I had some ham that needed to be used us since I ended up not using it last weekend for the brunch, I went with a sausage egg bake instead.  We've eaten the ham in eggs and on salads but I decided it was time to finish up the ham, since I'm not really sure of the life span once it's been opened.  Plus my carrots were starting to look a little questionable but still had enough spunk in them for this meal.  I've made similar dishes in the crockpot before, it works great for using leftover ham from Easter, Christmas, lunch meat or ham when it's on sale.  I'm pretty sure this meal is pretty cheap but since I don't have the skills like Nickeletta with the spread sheets, I can only assume.  Although it would be pretty cool to know exactly how much each meal cost our family to make.  I know this is a hit because my 4 year old she would love me forever if I made this again.  Which is a compliment because it seems she can be a pretty picky eater these days.

4 potatoes, roughly peeled and sliced thin
1 onion, sliced thin
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup chopped ham
1 can 98% fat free cream of broccoli soup
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Spray the well of your crockpot with cooking spray.  Place about half potatoes in the crockpot, sprinkle with salt and pepper, layer half onion, half carrots, and half ham.  Repeat the layers.  In a separate bowl mix the soup and milk together.  Pour over the potato layers.  Set crockpot on low for about 8 hours.  About half hour before serving, sprinkle with cheese and place lid back on so cheese will melt.

Homemade Salsa

I am so pumped that it's gardening season.  This is my second year with a garden and my thumb is GREENER than normal this year.  What a refreshing treat to serve with chips, quesadillas, or even on top of a burger.  I seriously, CANNOT get enough of this.

6-9 tomatoes (depending on the size and what you have on hand)
1 onion diced
1 jalapeno diced (with or without seeds-depending on how hot you want it)
2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, I know weird, trust me it's good

Chop tomatoes, place in a bowl.  Dice onions very small, I use my Pampered chef food chopper so the onions are tiny.  I also use my chooper for the cilantro and the jalapeno.  Genltley mix the ingredients, add the garlic salt and cinnamon.  Mix again.  Refrigerate or serve immediately.  YUMMY.

Baked Spaghetti

This is an easy way to make your typical spaghetti dish into something more special.  It's not much more work than typical spaghetti just a slight twist to make it more interesting.  This is key if spaghetti is a staple in your cooking rotation.  My kids usually will only eat the noodles with no sauce but because it was already mixed together and they didn't have an option, they ate it ALL and even asked for seconds. 

1 jar pasta sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce
1 box pasta (any type you prefer)
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Boil the pasta according the directions on the box.  Once pasta has been drained, pour the sauce onto the cooked noodles (you can do this right in the pot it was cooked in).  Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the cup of cheese on top.  Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted/bubbly.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

This recipe comes from a In the Kitchen with Aimee from, although the last time I tried to gain access to her website it indicated it was no longer available.  Boy I am so glad that I actually ordered her 2 cookbooks a few years ago.  Many of my go to recipes are located on that site (or in the cookbook). 

1 (28oz) Can peeled tomatoes
1 (18oz) can peeled diced tomatoes
1 (15oz) can tomato puree
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
5-12 packets splenda (optional)

Mix all ingredients together into a crockpot and cook on low for at least 8 hours.  Serves 17 1/2 cups each.  I typically add about 1 pound of browned ground turkey, ground beef, or sometime Italian sausage.  This makes quite a bit so I often make this on a week where I want to flip the sauce into something else like cheese pizza, calzones, bubble up pizza casserole, or baked spaghetti.  The sauce also freezes pretty well so I could encourage you to make a batch, eat it for a meal and freeze part for later use.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another day, another dollar saved

So I did another big couponing trip today...this is the first time I got a major reaction from the checkout person.  I think I impressed the 20 somethings kid with my shopping skills.  The most he ever received in coupons before was $45.  I came in just under that with $44.77, this is not counting my price match items.  I'm not going to lie, this trip was a little more stressful and time consuming, mostly because I didn't have a good plan

Price match items...
Cherries 1.99 per pound
Peaches $.29 per peach
Strawberries $.99 per pound
4 Diet Coke $.99 ;
3Emerald Breakfast to Go..$2.50
10 Roma Pizza (10 for $10...I know go and get some, cheap and easy meal or snack)

Spending roughly about $30.00 for the items listed above.  Savings for price match of approximately $23.00.  I'll do the coupons savings at the end the only coupon item I had was for the Emerald Breakfast to Go $1.00 off each so $1.50 per box or $.25 per individual bag)

Now for the regular stuff with coupons...
2 4 packs Scott toilet paper
4 travel size body washes
2 Herbal Essence Shampoo
2 Herbal Essence Conditioner
3 cans of Pringles
4 packs of gum
1 Swiss cheese
2 Ivory 4 pack soap
3 Carefree panty liner
1 Box OB tampons (on clearance plus I had a coupon)
1 Oatmeal
2 Tide Stain Releaser
2 Men's body sprays (FREE-Whoot, whoot)
1 bag Krunchers
3 packages Brach's lemon drops
1 Crystal Light Lemonade
2 Oscar Meyer Turkey Dogs
3 8 packs of Powerade (one was FREE)
1 eyeliner (which I needed)
1 foundation (which I needed)

My total of these products was $109.29 and had a coupon total of $44.77 which included $3.00 off the top items.  My overall total was more because I picked up a few things that I didn't have coupons for like brown sugar, bread, hot dog buns, tortillas, big bag of shredded cheese, bananas, tomatoes, a sprinkler (yes, a sprinkler somehow it is in my food/toiletries water my garden), eggs, pickles, and a few school supplies for the boy. When you figure in my cost for all the extras my savings isn't so great, only 26% of the total with coupons.  My coupon items matched with coupons savings is a little better at 41%.  I have done better with my savings at Walgreen's and Copp's.  A couple of the items were a little higher ticket than I would normally buy.  The makeup was over $14.00 with a coupon for only $2.50 off, I did need the make up as I am out of foundation and scraping my eyes with my current eyeliner.  The Tide Stain Releaser was a little pricey at almost $4.00 each with a coupon for $1.50 off each, this is not something I would probably have bought without a coupon and I'll admit I caved to the "Oh I have a coupon" mentality, darn it.  So if you take out the slightly pricier items the savings would be greater.  I am still learning, again all the items I bought will be used by our family. 

If you are new to the couponing world, it's OK so am I.  Here are a few tips that I have learned to help you through.

1.  Profile your checker.  I heard this somewhere, but today it worked out for me.  Go for the young, male checker.  My guy even gave me a high five after I checked out, how cool was that?  Most of the time the teenage girls roll their eyes.
2.  Price match, shop sales, and pair with a coupon whenever you can.
3.  Check the clearance section.  They still accept coupons for those items.
4.  Buy the smallest (or cheapest) product that the coupon will allow you to do.  Today I had an Old Spice coupon for buy 2 get $1.00 off.  There was no limitation on what size, so I bought the travel size for $.97.  In addition, I was able to pair that deal with a FREE deal.  If you buy 2 Old Spice products, you get a body spray FREE.  It was a win, win for me.  So I spent about $.97 to get 2 trial size body washes and one body spray, with a retail alone of $4.27.  Scott and Camden will smell so good.  The trial size body washes will go in the swimming bag.
5.  Tell other people at the store or help them out if you can.  For example, I was only going to use one of my Pringles coupon and some lady was throwing Pringles in her cart like it was the end of the world.  So I simply said "Excuse me, I'm not a cart stalker but I see that you are buying a lot of Pringles.  I have a 2 extra coupons for that product that I am not going to use (and is about to expire), would you like them?"  Of course she said "Yes".  Another example is at the pizza aisle, a couple with their grandchild was pricing out pizzas and they decided to go with ROMA, which is what was on sale for a price match.  I pulled out my Pig Ad and told them about the price match and all they had to do was tell them at the checkout.  You would have thought I just gave them a $100 bill. 
6.  I heard this somewhere too, if someone comments on how you must love coupons a great response is "No, I just love my money!"  I haven't gotten to use it yet but believe me I am waiting. 
7.  If you live in the Green Bay Area and are looking to learn more about saving money think about attending this class.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

So here it people my family left me on Monday.  I certainly do miss them...You see that guy in the red shirt?  He's the one who took them.  Now before you help me through my sorrows by contacting the police, that is Grandpa.  Scott and the kids went willingly with him to camp for 3 days and 2 nights.  I packed their stuff threw it outside and bid them fair well without even a kiss or hug.  I begged them to stay, not to leave me ALL ALONE with complete and total silence for 3 WHOLE entire days and 2 LONG (and silent) nights.  This is the longest I have been away from my babies in their whole entire life (although I did go to Vegas for 3 days and 2 nights when Camden was under 1).  They've had sleepovers but never for 2 whole nights.  As much as I enjoyed all this peace and quiet love them, I can hardly wait for them to come home today.  You see they are the loves of my life.  I have been blessed with an amazing family.  God has given me the most precious gifts in this family. 

If you want the truth, I've enjoyed the silence but I've been lost without them.  The house was a little too quiet and even though I was busy working on school work (who takes 6 credits in the summer), I realized that my purpose is as a wife and mother to those 3 special characters.  And another confession, as much as I want them to come home, I'll bet that once I see, kiss, and hug them and the reality of their DRAMA starts back in I'll long for the silence once again.  So hug your family today because they my friends, along with God, what this life is all about!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is Couponing Really Worth It?

A few weeks back I had a post about my shopping excursion at the local super market.  When people talked about coupons, I thought they weren't for me.  It seemed that just as quickly as I started couponing, I would throw in the towel.  The reality is, it's not easy.  You have to attempt be organized, remember to buy a Sunday paper, scour the ads and thinking about what your plan of attack will become.  One of the things I just heard is that it's recommended to purchase one Sunday paper for each of the people in your household, if you're working on building a stockpile.  I buy 2 papers for a total of $3.50 and it definitely pays back in coupons.  What I have noticed is that in my FREE Wednesday Chronicles (or whatever it's called) seems to have at least one of the two sets of coupons that were in the paper.  At times I might have 3 coupons versus  2.  It is true, that when you start out it can be frustrating and confusing, however, there are a great many people who have taken it upon themselves to do some of the work for us.  I am putting in link to the sites that I consult with to prepare my weekly shopping list. 

The Green Bay consumer
Pocket Your Dollars
Saving Green Mom

There are many other sites out there, these 3 are just the ones I have been using.  Look around for your area, I am pretty sure their are people who will do most of the leg work for you.

This week I focused on Walgreen's.  Here is the hard part about Walgreen's, you often have to pay out money to make money...make sense?  I'm not going to explain everything to you since it's complicated and I don't even fully understand it.  Even if you have a plan sometimes you have to rethink your approach when an item is not in stock or it's cheaper than you expected.  The things that the couponers might refer to as "fillers" help with some of this confusion.  Refer to the links above from some ladies who have been working very hard at figuring this all out and as their way of "Paying It Forward" give back to their communities through donations and their free websites.  If you are one of my local friends, a little birdie told me that there will be a FREE couponing class in August and I am totally pumped to attend, although no specific details are set at this time.

So here is my list of products that I purchased today.  The only thing on my list that will not be used by my family will be the "teething gel", it was a FREE after Register Rewards products.  It will be given away to someone who can use it.  I would've taken a picture, however, my hubby and kids have it with them.  My current goal is to spend most of the summer building a stockpile, in my ideal world I'd like to get about 1 year's worth of products available at our finger tips.  With that being said, I am not sure how much stuff we go through in a year.  I do intend on making some donations to a local shelter from my stockpile as it continues to grow. 

2 Walgreen's woman's 6 blade razor system
2 Hot Wheels Car Playsets (will be used as birthday gifts for birthday parties-clearance item)
1 7 oz bag of combos
2 GUM fine floss
2 2 packs of GUM toothbrushes
2 Hyland teething gel (to be given away)
1 16 oz Infusium Shampoo
1 16 oz Infusium Conditioner
3 12 oz Men's SUAVE body wash
3 12oz SUAVE body wash
3 4.6 oz Colgate Toothpaste
2 V-8 Fusions juices
3 78oz XCEL laundry detergent (somone from another site did the math but it comes out to $.04 per load-I'm thinking that's a pretty good deal)

3 100 count index cards
16 pocket folders with prongs
1 4 pack thin EXPO markers
1 3M double sided tape
1 Wooden ruler (old school)

According to my calculations I purchased 49 items, individually including the 16 pocket folders.  I still actually have $4 in register rewards to use but I think I'm going to hold them until my next Walgreen's shopping trip.  Anyone going to try to guess how much money I spent?  I'll tell you that I saved 67% (not including my additional $4 rewards).  It took me about 1 hour to shop and 1 hour to prepare by searching the web, sorting coupons and making a plan (which of course got slightly foiled-but I recouped).  I completed 7 transactions during this process and the checkout woman was wonderful.  If saving money were my job then I made about just under $48.00 per hour.  Let's just say, I would not hesitate to get out of bed for that kind of money.  Although I got amazing savings, I did make some mistakes and probably could've saved some more if I had more practice (not that I am complaining about my deals).   

Some things to think about...when I went to the grocery store in my first post I saved about 65%.  Last week when I went with my coupons and ads I saved about 45%.  Just like shopping ads, I suppose there will be some weeks where the savings are crazy and others when they are more typical.  Couponing does take time, strategy, and can be frustrating but I will tell you that it has been worth it for me in the short time that I have been doing it.  You will have to decide, if it's worth it for you and your family. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Monday 7/11

Check out my menu and others at I'm an organized junkie

Sunday-Jessica Simpson's chicken and dumplings

Monday & Tuesday-snacks for traveling up North
seasoned pretzels
beer bread
beer dip
strawberry cereal bars

Wednesday-Grilled burgers and 7-layer salad

Thursday-crockpot chicken mexicali

Friday-fish sticks and tator tots

Saturday-Guests for Brunch (Scott's birthday celebration)
sausage egg bake for a crowd
brown and serve sausage patties, which I made ahead and placed in crockpot to keep warm
monkey bread, thanks Ranielle for the link
fresh fruit
veggies with homemade ranch dip
ice cream sandwich cake

Strawberry Cereal Bars

This recipe was adapted from Raspberry Cereal Bars out of the The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase.  I'm just stating the truth, they we a little dry and not quite what I was expecting.  They were good but I felt like they were missing something...maybe not enough filling????

Cereal Crust
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine softened

Strawberry Filling
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Cut the softened butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or serving fork.

Prepare the strawberry filling.  Add the strawberries, sugar, and vanilla to a blender or food processor and puree.

Add about half of the oat-flour mixture to the prepared baking dish.  Press the crust into the bottom of the dish, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the back of a large serving spoon.  Pour over the strawberry filling and spread evenly to cover the crust.  Add the remaining oat-flour mixture on top of the strawberry filling.  Press lightly using the measuring cup or large serving spoon, to form a top crust.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top begins to turn golden brown.  let cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Oh boy this was so good and easy.  It was perfect for my hubby's summer birthday brunch.  I didn't have to heat up the house to bake a cake (which would've been a cake mix by the way) or spend an arm & a leg buying an ice cream cake.  I did have to pick up a few things to make this but I would say this was prepared for less than $7.00, which is a steal for an ice cream cake.  I got this recipe from my dear friend Gloria, hi Gloria!, who brought this to our life group's summer pool party (I brought these amazing mushrooms).  When I sent her out an emergency 911 email for the recipe, she was prompt and got back to me within a short period of time, gotta love good friends who love food just as much as you do! 

12 ice cream sandwiches (I actually used 11 3/4 but I ate the last 1/4)
1 large tub of cool whip
1-2 jars of magic shell ice cream topping
1/2 cup carmel ice cream topping
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or you could just chop large chips to sprinkle on top)

In a 9 x 13 pan place ice cream sandwiches in a single layer in the pan.  On top of the sandwiches, spread about 1/2 of the cool whip.  Then drizzle 1/4 cup of the carmel topping.  On the carmel topping create a solid layer of magic shell.  I ended up using the whole bottle to make a solid layer, you could probably drizzle about 1/2 to 3/4 of the bottle in that layer.  Place the entire pan in the freezer for 1-2 hours until solid.  Once it's frozen, layer the rest of the cool whip and carmel.  Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, if you're really adventurous you could use M & M's or Oreo's.  Top with drizzled magic shell.  Place in freezer for 1-2 additional hours until set.  Take out of freezer and serve immediately.  It's amazing, you will not be disappointed.

Sausage Egg Bake for a crowd

It was my amazing hubby's birthday, since his work schedule is so nuts and he works 2nd shift we invited his family over for a brunch before he had to head to work.  Unfortunately, 2 days before this even a co-worker's husband passed away and the wake happens to be at the same time as our scheduled brunch.  Even though I wanted to, I didn't cancel instead I developed a new plan.  For my original plan I was going to make a casserole using crescents but it had to be prepared the day of...because of the predicament I was in that wasn't going to work for me.  Because it's always important to have a Plan B, I went for it.  Actually, plan B included stale bread, which I didn't have.  So what else would one do, but head to Plan C and Plan C was OK.  Like I said I didn't have any bread, although this isn't the 1920's and I could have gone to the store to pick some up I was not interested in running to the store with 4 kids.  I know I only have 2 but I was helping a friend by watching her children overnight.  Honestly, they are not any more work it's just the extra bodies and my kids are really what made me want to stay home, plus it was hot and sticky out.  So I made my own bread using my amazing bread machine, which didn't cause any additional heat in the kitchen.  Once the bread was prepared the recipe came together pretty quickly.

1 pound breakfast sausage
18 eggs (although I'm pretty sure I used WAY too many)
3 cups of milk
1 best bread machine bread or a loaf of crusty bread
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage.  While sausage is browning, cut bread into 2 inch pieces and place in a large pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Mine is larger than a 9 x 13.  I don't know the dimensions but it's pretty darn big.  Place the cooled sausage on top of the bread.  In a separate bowl, crack the eggs, break the yolks and gently whisk them with the milk.  Pour egg mixture on top of the bread and sausage. Cover and place in the fridge for 8-12 hours to soak.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, bake for about 45-60 minutes until it's golden brown.  I used this to serve 6 adults and 4 children and there was plenty left.  It could've easily served 12 adults plus children, as long as I had other items to go along with this brunch.  It worked out perfect because my husband loves breakfast bakes and has been eating the leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the past 2 days.

Jessica Simpson's chicken and dumplings

I love being part of a church that helps others in need.  A few years back I was in a situation where I needed a little bit of help and my church friends stepped up to the plate.  One of the meals that was brought to me during this time were these Jessica Simpson's Chicken dumplings.  Who knew Jessica Simpson could even cook?  I mean if you ever watched the her Newlywed show, many, many moons ago you would know that she didn't know the difference between chicken and tuna.  Any who, thanks to my friend Julie who introduced me to this recipe.  Although that "season" has since passed in my life, making these reminds of love and compassion.  I really connect food a lot with emotions and past experiences, weird, I know.  Usually, I follow this recipe pretty exact but I decided to omit a few steps just because I can.

2 cans crescent rolls
3 cups of chicken (I used the chicken rib meat-it was on sale again for $.99 a pound bone in breasts)
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I used 98% Fat Free)
1 cup of chicken broth (homemade from the chicken bones)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Roll out the cans of crescent roll sheets and separate into diamond shaped sections. Place a small handful of chicken on each diamond, fold dough over and press ends together to create dumplings. 
Line a 9x13" baking dish with one layer of dumplings. Mix cream of chicken soups and broth together.  Pour over the layer of dumplings.  Season dish with salt and ground black pepper and bake until the dumplings are tender and cooked through and the top is bubbly and brown, about 30 minutes.

7-layer salad

Most of us have had this at a gathering or two, I have eaten it but never made it until recently.  For the most part, all the ingredients were readily available to me in my home...I had some lettuce that looked slightly droopy in a few places and as we are really working to "tighten our belts" I was not about to throw it away.  When I made this I expected my kids to LOVE it and my husband to HATE it, boy was I wrong.  My father in law was also over and he seemed to enjoy it.  See the kids are salad people, I mean what 6 year old cheers when salad is his plate?  The kids didn't like it and Scott loved it...he ate seconds...of SALAD...I know it was shocking.  I was going to add onions but I knew that everyone would turn away.  A recipe that I consulted suggested using celery but I didn't have any. I also made a few other adaptations. 

1 head lettuce
1 package thawed pea & carrots
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1 small package of bacon bits
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut lettuce into shreds.  Layer the lettuce, peas & carrots, eggs and bacon bits in a large pan.  Mix the mayo and sugar, layer on top of the lettuce mixture.  Sprinkle cheese on the top of the salad.  It was suggested that this be refrigerated for at least 24 hours prior to sering, I made it about 4 hours before serving and it was good.  It was still good the next day.  Serve to your family or bring to a pot luck.

Chicken Mexicali

The idea from this recipe came from crockpot chicken Mexicali.  Most of the recipe is the same with the exception of the cooking cream.  I actually served this for lunch on a day when I had several errands planned.  It worked out perfect for us and it allowed us to eat a lighter dinner.  This would be great as a dinner served with fruit, veggies, and rice. 

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
1 cup salsa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 container Philadelphia cooking cream, santa fe blend
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 tortilla shells

Place chicken breasts and salsa in the crockpot on high.  Leave the house to take your son to get a wart removed and pick up your daughter from her overnight sleepover. After about 2 hours, shred the chicken.  Add the black beans, frozen corn, and cooking cream.  Leave the house to take your daughter and y ourself for a super cheap, yet amazing, haircut at the beauty school.About 2 hours later, place the mixture on a tortilla shells and sprinkle with cheese.  I love my crockpot! Serve with fruit.

Beer dip

I have made this dip before and I am not sure what recipe I followed.  For this recipe I went to Amy Hanten's The Cooking Mom, did I mention I have an autographed copy?  This was my gift from my big sister, my name is spelled wrong but it's the thought that counts.  I must admit I did drink half a bottle of beer...I put it in a frosty mug and enjoyed it while outside before the fireworks.  Since I am used to be a beer girl in my olden days, it was nice a nice treat.  For many different reasons, I am not a big drinker...just a choice I've made, however, someone made a good point, if I was a big drinker I would just have to deal with my kids with a hangover.  That my friends is not my idea of a good time.  Drink I mean, eat this dip responsibly.  Don't drink eat and drive.  You do not need to be 21 to consume this dip.
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup beer (somebody gets to drink the rest!-she said it not me)-I used more like 1/2 cup
1 packet (1 ounce) dry ranch dip mix
1 1/2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese

With a mixer beat together cream cheese, dip mix, and beer until smooth.  Stir in cheese and chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve with seasoned pretzels or beer bread. This can be served as a snack for your family or brought up to the North woods in a cooler. 

Beer Bread

Doesn't that look amazing?  It should considering that a whole stick of butter is melted on the top.  Beer bread was first introduced to me while at a Tastefully Simple party.  I didn't know that there was a "knock off" bread I could make, so back when I was a naive cook I spent like $8.00 for a box of mix not including the beer or butter.  You could truly make this for WAY, WAY less than including the beer and butter.  It tastes just like the mix, only cheaper.  Apparently, you can make the box mix with soda...I would assume you could do the same with this one, I have not tried it with soda yet, only beer.  Let me know if you give it a try with soda.

3 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle (12 ounces) of beer
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and beer.  The batter should be really lumpy!!!  Don't over mix it!  Spoon it into the loaf pan and pour butter on top.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until it gets all golden brown. 

I've made these in mini-loaves before, just as yummy. I have served this with a meal but usually I make it as an appetizer served with beer dip.

Seasoned Pretzels

Once again my resourceful cookbook, The Cooking Mom by Amy Hanten, came to the rescue as I prepared for a trip to the North woods.  Around the 4th of July each year we head up to visit some family in what I would call the deep, dark woods.  I wanted to bring something that traveled easy and could be served to a crowd.  I thought these were amazing. 

2 bags (16 ounces) small pretzels
1 packet (1 ounce) dry ranch salad dressing
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dill weed
1 1/2 garlic powder

Place the pretzels in a large bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pretzels.  Stir to coat.  Pour into a large baking pan.  Bake at 200 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.  According to Amy, she puts them in a bunch of snack bags.  I put mine in a big gallon bag to take on a road trip.

These are great just for a snack or paired with beer dip.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

So this will kind of be like "Where Is Waldo?"  I am going to show you a couple of pictures of my beautiful baby girl and let's see if you can find "What is wrong with Kenley's face?"

Isn't she a beauty?  Look closer...
Now you see you...
DON'T....have  you figured out what this beauty did?  I am not sure when she did it but she shaved off half her eye brow.  That's what I get for leaving my razor in the shower.  I noticed it when we were sitting at a Fourth of July parade, surely she must have been trying to show her independence.  Golly Geez...I'm going to have my hands full with this little blessing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Menu Monday 7/4

Happy Independence Day!  Whoot Whoot! This week I made several meals that I could "flip" into meal the next day.  I love it when I can do that, I'm always trying to get more bang for my buck.  As we are trying to cut back on spending, flipping meals allows us to throw out less and get a new taste using many of the same ingredients.  Since I am home during the summer and feeding the whole family breakfast and lunch, we seem to eat less leftovers for dinner.  Even though I eat leftovers during the school year for lunch, we always have fewer in the summer.  I don't mind cooking so it's not that big of a deal that I seem to be spending most of my waking hours thinking about, preparing, and cleaning up from meals, anybody else feel like that?  

Sunday-marinated mushrooms and watermelon for a pool party

Monday- BBQ chicken legswith mashed potatoes & peas

Tuesday-pot roast with rice & broccoli

Wednesday-pot roast Shepard's pie

Thursday-poppy seed chickenwith banana blueberry bread

Friday-blueberry breakfast bake with strawberry syrup

Saturday-cowboy steaks with shallot butter with pepperoni pasta salad,

If you enjoyed my menu, you can find mine and others just like it at I'm an organized junkie.

Poppy Seed Chicken

It's BAD...but not bad, bad, bad good.  Make sense?  What I really mean to say, is that it's so good, it's bad.  Let me rephrase..YUMMY.  If I made this often, it would not last long.  I found the link to this recipe from Living, Laughing, and Loving on the Menu Monday post I link up with.  When I looked at Renee's family's response, I new I had to give poppy seed chicken from the Sisters' Stuff a try.  I took the general idea but made a few add ins based on what I had in my fridge that needed to get used up.

3 chicken chicken breasts, boiled and cubed
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups of chopped, cooked broccoli
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
approximately 10-12 Ritz crackers
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Put chicken, rice, and broccoli into a casserole dish.  Heat soup and sour cream together but not to boiling.  Pour over the chicken mixture.  Mix melted butter, poppy seeds and crackers together.  Sprinkle on top of the casserole.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pot Roast Shepard's Pie

Many of us are familiar with shepard's pie, usually the meat is ground beef, however, since I had some leftover pot roast, I used what I had on hand to make this recipe. 

1-2 cups of shredded pot roast
2 cups of mashed potatoes (leftovers)
1 cup of green peas
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place the shredded pot roast in the bottom of a pie pan.  Layer with  with peas (or any other leftover veggie) and potatoes.  Top with cheese.  Place in oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and everything is warmed through.

Pot Roast

I love pot roast.  It is my favorite when I serve it with ketchup for dipping.  I know, not classy but yet still amazing.  One of my favorite things about making a pot roast is that the longer it cooks, the better and more tender it can become.  Some people have issues with allowing their crockpot run when they are not home, I however, am not one of those people.  I love that I can be multi tasking without feeling overwhelmed because dinner is prepped and cooking while I am running errands, visiting family, or working.  The crockpot helps get dinner on the table, now if only it could wash dishes.

2-3 lb pot roast
1 cup water
1 beef bullion cubes
1 packet of onion soup mix

Place the roast in a crockpot.  Mix water, bullion cube, and onion soup.  Pour the mixture over the roast.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  As long as there is liquid, the longer it cooks the more tender it will become, at least in my experience.  You can serve this with mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles.  I usually have just the right amount of leftovers to flip into another meal, like pot roast soup or pot roast shepards pie.  The leftovers would also be great with a little BBQ sauce served on a bun, depending on your family size.

BBQ Chicken Legs

Shall we take another walk down memory lane?  I don't connect my childhood with a lot of food, I am not really sure how we survived but someone cooked something.  I have a few recipes that remind me of my childhood like puffed carmel corn and dill dip, this is one of them.  Honestly, the only way I like this BBQ sauce is with chicken on the bone.  It's probably a "memory" thing we never ate boneless skinless chicken breasts when I was a kid (and if we did, I don't remember them).  My husband is not a chicken on the bone kind of person, no matter how amazing the BBQ is or how I prepare them, it's just not his thing.  He will suck it up from time to time just to satisfy my need to reminisce in my childhood.  He's weird, cause as soon as I pick the "meat" off the bone to use it for something else he'll eat it...whatever...if you've seen him, you know he's not starving (love you babe).

2 pound of bone in chicken (use whatever is on sale-I used chicken legs that I picked up for $1.49
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup diced onions
4 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken in pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes uncovered.  After about 40 minutes place the ingredients for the BBQ sauce in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes.  Turn off.  Remove pan of chicken from the oven.  Cover the chicken with the sauce.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  I usually double the BBQ sauce recipe to have extra for dipping.  YUMMY and it always brings me back to my childhood. 

Marinated Mushrooms

Way back in December 2006, I attended a work gathering and someone brought these mushrooms.  I am a mushroom girl.  These would be great with steak, chicken, or used as an appetizer.  They were served as an appetizer for the work gathering.  I brought these along to a pool party where the main dish were kabobs. Smashing if I do say so myself...these are also not light, I'm sure you could find ways to make them lighter but I didn't really try.  Enjoy.

2 sticks butter (I know they must be good with all that butter)
1 chicken bullion cube
1 bottle Italian dressing
1 packet Italian seasoning dressing mix
3 lbs of whole mushrooms, cleaned

Put first four ingredients in crockpot, stir.  Add the mushrooms.  Heat on low for 8 hours.  Stir once or twice.

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Although there are many recipes out there just like this one...this resulted from cleaning out the fridge. 

15 pepperoni, cut into quarters
3 slices string cheese, sliced
3 cups of cooked pasta
1 cup Italian dressing
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  While the pasta is cooking cut carrots, broccoli, cheese, and pepperoni to put in a bowl.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  Add to the mixture and pour on the Italian dressing.  Toss together.  Either serve immediately or allow to marinate in the fridge.  Which ever way it's good.

Berry Syrup

Every summer mid to late June, we go strawberry picking.  Most years I make freezer jam, however, this year I am not going to since I still have some left from making 4 batches last year.  This year, my son also decided that he no longer liked peanut butter and jelly or jelly for that matter.  Since both my husband and myself don't really eat much jelly either, that leaves one precious little girl.  There is no way she can eat 4 batches of freezer jam, although she's trying.  Anyway I had a flat of fresh picked strawberries so I decided to prepare this worked out perfect since we had run out of maple syrup.  Of course, this is from my new favorite cookbook The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase. 

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries (I used fresh picked strawberries)
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon sugar

Prepare the syrup by placing the berries and honey into a blender or food processor.  Puree, streaming in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until it reaches the desired consistency. 

Serve drizzled over blueberry breakfast bake or pancakes.

Blueberry Breakfast Bake

Another great recipe from The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase.  I just can't get enough from this cookbook, I have not been disappointed with any recipe.  This book is from the library, but it might be worth me picking up if I can find it at the right price, cheap! 

6 slices stale French bread or banana blueberry bread
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a 8 x 8 (I actually used a 9 x11) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

Place the slices of bread into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the blue berries around and on top of the bread slices.  I decided to use the blueberries even though the bread had blue berries in can't get enough fruit when you're trying to be healthy, right? 

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.  Pour the mixture over the bread and blueberries in the baking dish.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.  For best, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the eggs have cooked through and the top is golden brown.  Let cool before cutting and serving. 

Top with maple syrup or strawberry syrup.

Banana Blueberry Bread

So I am still on the look out for the perfect, yet easy banana bread.  I have tried banana bread #1 and banana bread #2.  Neither one of those were as delicious as my go to recipe but that doesn't mean I wasn't still trying to find the perfect one.  Here is my 3rd try at an alternative to my usual "go to" banana bread.  The recipe is from The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase.  According to this recipe, the cost is about $3.30 for 2 loaves of bread.  This is great, I loved this recipe.  Since it made 2 loaves, I was able to "flip" this into a blueberry breakfast bake.

3 cups all purpose white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
3 bananas, mashed
2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugars, oil, vanilla, milk, and the mashed bananas until well combined.  Mix in the flour mixture until a smooth batter forms.  Gently fold in the blueberries by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake the loaves in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centers of the loaves comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack before serving. 

Makes 2 loaves

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sweetness Saturday

Another day, another dollar, Isn't there a saying like that?   Well it's Saturday and it's a hot one.  As usual this was another great day. 

It was so beautiful out.  Tonight I ate dinner on the deck with these 2 characters, who shall remain nameless. Part of their faces have been hidden to protect their identity.  Aren't they sweet?

On this amazing Saturday, I hit the jackpot in the "meat" department.  Not only do I shop clearance clothes racks but I try to hit the clearance meat racks, too.  I scored some pretty sweet deals of boneless, skinless chicken thighs for $1.00 per pound, pork stew meat for $1.99 per pound, and some thin, sirloin steak for $2.50 per pound.  I bought the meats and froze them in one pound packages for later use, however, I kept out a few of the steaks to grill up for myself.  As I was driving home, day dreaming  focused on the road, I remembered a great recipe from my go to meal site, these cowboy steaks with shallot butter
Doesn't that look super SWEET?  It's so yummy.  The kids and Scott are not really steak people.  I had picked up some clearance garlic, Parmesan bread for less than $1.00.  I made the kids ham and cheese on one half of the loaf.  Scott isn't a big plain steak person but will eat it once in a while so I thought I'd make it more his style by turning it into a cheesy, cowboy steak sandwich.  It looked good.  I won't really know until he eats it tomorrow night for dinner at work.  If I was eating this, I would have put sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms on this with less cheese. 
Although there are many things to be thankful for today...I am most thankful for my amazing children.  Yes, they drive me nuts at times and once in a while I want to try to give them away sell them, the legal ramifications would just be too great though.  At the end of the day, I am always amazed at SWEET it feels to be their mommy and I would not trade one single moment of my life for any other.  Enjoy the rest of your Saturday...I hope you had at least a few sweet moments today. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

So I recently started couponing, not like extreme couponing because that's insane....I've been doing it for 3 weeks...Today I managed to save over 65% on my purchases today.  Anybody want to play a guessing game...guess how much I spent on my items.  All items were on sale and/or purchased with coupons.  The only items that were officially FREE were the gallon of milk, with a coupon to be used on a future purchase and one pie crust.  The syrup was not on sale and I paid $2.00 for it since we actually needed it.  Now accepting guesses? 

Here's an overview of what I purchased....

Don't judge, since we don't buy booze or beer my husband has another addiction...Diet Coke, we purchase way more soda than most...people often think I'm having a party, it's just our weekly supply.

So even thought it's words...I'm going to tell you what I bought...
8 boxes of cereal
1 gallon of milk (I'll get another gallon of milk for FREE at a future purchase)
2 lbs of cherries
8 pack hot dog buns
8 pack hamburger buns
2 BBQ sauces
2 50 count paper plates
10 Dip n Dots thingies (ittibitz)
2 packages of cheese turkey dogs
1 watermelon
2 bags of carrots
1 pie crust
2 cherry pie fillings
2 Sargento cheese slices
1 syrup
2 Suddenly Salads
2 8-pack bottles Coke
3 12 pack cans Coke
1 head broccoli
1 head of lettuce
10 yogurts
1 18 count eggs
2 chip dips
2 LAY plain chips
2 cream cheeses

Monday, June 27, 2011

Menu Monday 6/27

Sunday- Italian sausages

Monday-grilled pork chops with roasted veggies-use the technique and vary veggies if you desire

Tuesday- cheese pizza with peanut butter apple dip

Wednesday-meat pie

Thursday-BBQ chicken sandwiches with chips

Friday-leftovers with puffed carmel corn

Saturday-Jambalaya in rice cooker

If you enjoyed my menu and are looking for more like it, check out I'm an organized junkie.

Italian Sausages

When my darling husband and I first started dating, I really wanted to win him over with my cooking but I didn't really know how to cook.  I mean I was in college, making Ramen and ordering pizza was my specialt6y.  I asked him what was his all time favorite meal and he replied "Italian Sausages".  I was stumped and had no idea, apparently, I lived a deprived life and no body ever made them for me.  So since we were still new in our relationship, I made him ask his mom how to prepare them...there is no way I was going to call his mom I barely new her, which is funny since now I wouldn't think twice about it...however, it is 13 years later.  Something went way wrong when I first prepared these somehow I burned them in the crockpot.  I did learn the secret was adding water, something Scott left out when giving me the original recipe.  This is one of his top requests but even though I have tried a few lighter versions by using Turkey Italian sausages or Light Italian sausages, I am pretty sure he like the real deal best. 

1 package Italian sausages (usually the package is 5)
1 jar any kind of spaghetti sauce
Enough water to fill the jar after it's been emptied
1 sliced green pepper
5 Hoagie rolls or brat buns
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Place Italian sausages in the bottom of the crockpot with the green pepper slices.  Pour the sauce over the sausages and peppers.  Fill the jar with water and pour.  Gently stir to combine the sauce and water.  Cook in crockpot 8-10 hours on low.  I have never made these on high, but I would think you could.  When sausages are done place on roll and top with cheese. 

Serve the leftovers on top of pasta with the sauce or make pepperoni calzones using diced Italian sausages instead of pepperoni.  Great way to use up leftovers.