Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Party Taters - aka Crack Taters

This dish has so many names, come to find out!  So I just decided to keep it my way and call it "Party Taters" ... and like that evil Warmed Cheesy Onion Dip, it's addictive, hence, the AKA part ...

During the months of November and December, the frozen hash brown coupons come out like crazy and the sales are over the top ... remember this and stock up your freezer during that time.  And of course, hopefully, while you are trying to do a pantry challenge in the middle of summer, you will be able to remove a bag and make a little dent in the freezer!



Here's what you need ... and of course, it's simple ;-)

1 large bag of frozen, shredded hash browns
2 16 oz containers of sour cream
2 bags (6oz) of bacon bits (oh heck, just buy the BIG bag from Costco or make your own as those little bags are a waste of money!)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 packages of powdered ranch dip dressing mix (make sure you are using the dressing packet, not the DIP)

Combine everything except the hash browns in a large baking dish bowl. Use a bowl, PLEASE, the baking pan is going to be too small to mix it well.

Add in taters, and mix well. Spread out in the baking dish and smooth out the top to make it even.

Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour til nice and golden brown. Keep an eye on it in the last 15 minutes as you might want to take it out sooner (mine was getting really crispy around the edges which is what Hubby likes) 

Serve up and ENJOY!


Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsShare Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip TuesdaysShow Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayFoodie FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFood on FridayFreakin Did It FridayFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseFoodie Friends FridayFun Friday blog hopFriday FavoritesTGIF BLOG HOPWeekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayTGI Friday Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayThe Party BunchI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSuper Saturday Show & TellSay G'day SaturdayNot Bad SundayPotluck PartySunday ShowcaseSavory SundaySundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth MondayDinner Time RecipesShow Me What You GotMade By You MondayHunk of Meat MondaySweet Sharing MondayWhat’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterMotivated MondayTime To SparkleMealtime MondayTime To Sparkle, Makin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayLou Lou GirlsInspire Me Monday

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Menu Plan Week #83 -Using What We Have

You know that I didn't really do a "plan" last week as Hubby was to be out until late Thursday evening ... but it all worked out well in the end and I didn't cave in ONCE to go out and grab something quick ... I gotta tell you, that's a miracle ;-)

Hubby is home all week, as it stands right now. They called him Friday afternoon (not even 24 hours after leaving) to tell him they could really use him back in the City of Angels ... ummm, he said not so fast friends ... he gave them tips and instructions on how to handle certain things and is giving them a few days to see if they can work it out. Said it was exhausting, even though he did get some fun time with the Stingray and the Caddy CTS ... you do know that he's a car freak, right? And I'm not talking flashy, pretty cars, but more like kick butt performance cars ;-) so that made up for the long hours and stuff he put in for the 10 days he was there ...

Any way. I'm banking on him being home all week so I will do a full plan!  Not to mention, the kids, their boyfriends and girlfriends and any of our friends that pop up ... they are all welcome to come graze from our abundant pantry and freezers ... and because I'm sure everyone is a little curious about the household, I've decided to start stating how many people will be eating at that meal ... it might also help me in being a little more prepared ;-) As we are all adults (54, 50, 24, 23, 21 and 20 and whatever friends within these same age groups shows up) these are full size meals.

Here's what the week is looking like:

Sunday - easy night ... leftovers. We have chicken and rice (used the basmati rice and rice cooker earlier in the day to make) with broccoli (with a squeeze of lemon juice, to die for!) from Saturday night ... sausage, peppers with shrooms and onions from Friday night (and a whole loaf of french bread too!) I believe it will just be the 2 of us and the Boy so we will choose what we want. I'm also making a small garden salad.



Monday - I have 2 lbs of grass fed beef in the garage freezer that I defrosted and really need to cook up ... I'm leaning towards some bacon blue cheese burgers on the grill with fries ... bacon and blue cheese in fridge, fries in the freezer, buns in pantry. Anticipate 5 of us to be here eating. I'm sure the Boy will be asking about onion rings so he can make his specialty!

It is really a rather pathetic picture and he grabbed the tiniest burger he could to do this with!

Tuesday - Italian night, hopefully. I've got a recipe for Alfredo Sauce to share soon and I need to get some pics lined up ... pasta in pantry, alfredo ingredients in fridge and will serve with a salad and the Olive Garden salad dressing ... I'm even going to go for the Olive Garden salad, but alas, I don't think the breadsticks will make an appearance! It will be just 3 of us tonight with leftovers for the Boy when he gets home from work.


Wednesday - should really be a crockpot night but the Boy will be home (and probably the girlfriend) as will the Princess and Hubby so I think I will try a new recipe for chicken, thai style, so I can use up some more rice! If its tasty, I'll be sharing the recipe ... chicken in freezer, rice in pantry (LOTS of rice in the pantry right now!) and balance of ingredients in the pantry. Anticipate 5 of us eating here.

Thursday - Crockpot Night! Damn Fine Chicken with a side of broccoli steamed in the rice cooker. I think I have like 4 or 5 packages of bone in thighs in the freezer (really need to get these organized!) and balance of ingredients in pantry. Broccoli in freezer. Just 3 of tonight.


Friday - really should be Hubby's choice but I'm going to intervene and pull out a big hunk of beef from the freezer (flat iron or skirt steak) and hopefully my herb garden will still be going strong enough for me to make a chimichurri sauce to go along with it!  OR I might give a steak sauce recipe a shot and see how that is (Hubby was looking for some the other night which we have NONE. I knew this!). I will also make Japanese style zucchini. the zucchini is hanging out in the fridge, waiting patiently for me to prepare ;-) Most likely 6 to 8 of us this evening.


Saturday - I'm really hoping that we are going out on the boat ... if so, dinner will be something simple, like sandwiches or maybe homemade pizza (dough in freezer)...we have all ingredients on hand to do either one. Again, 6 to 8 of us this evening. IF we are home, then I will opt for Ranchy Pork Tenderloin as I have everything on hand ... tenderloin in freezer, veggies in fridge and pantry.


What are YOU planning for the week?  If you are in a rut, go check out Organized Junkies Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Frugal Activities #23

I really enjoy doing this post weekly as it keeps me accountable and makes me think twice about some things :-)

Hubby got back in on Thursday ... thankfully! I've been on quite a spending spree while he was gone ... can't wait to hear what he has to say about the new rice cooker, hand held clothing steamer, swifter vacuum and bissel steam mop, fan, etc. O M G. Oh. And then there's the food that is over flowing. He's not said anything just yet, but I think that's because he really hasn't been home long enough to 'notice' the stuff just crammed into every opening there is.

Yes. I apparently DO have a spending problem if it looks like a great "deal". Although, I will say, the rice cooker has been over the top used ... I've made brown rice (excellent!), "boiled" eggs (way better than the oven cooking) and ate 1/2 pound of steamed broccoli, which for me, that's a miracle as I don't eat "shrubs". Yup, I'm enjoying that $30 piece of equipment tremendously. The rest of the stuff ... ehhh. Not quite getting the satisfaction I need but it will have to do and I will use the heck out of all of the stuff, just because I spent my hard earned money on it and its going to be used til it dies a slow painful death!

Ok. Enough. Here's some of the Frugal Activities we did this past week:

1.  Boiled half dozen eggs in the rice cooker using the steam option. Is this frugal? I say YES in that it didn't not heat up my whole kitchen and create a steam bath!  Not to mention, the eggs were perfect!  Later in the week, boiled up a whole dozen the same way and have been enjoying them!

2.  Made a double batch of the homemade Olive Garden dressing. This has encouraged me to eat more salads (before the baby greens go bad), which is healthier for me (and I want to stay healthy now!)

3.  Stayed far away from any and all grocery stores up until Friday night on my way home from work.

4.  Inventoried the garage freezer. Did toss out a package of salami and ham ... it had been in there for 2 years and lately, I've been buying much better quality of deli meat so I was pretty sure we wouldn't eat it. Yes, I did post on Instagram that I am becoming a deli meat snob ...

5.  Did a pedicure on myself. Not the best but sufficient.

6.  Downloaded a book from the library to my Kindle and have been reading it every night ... this is the same book that my boss gave me to read ... wasn't getting in to reading the book and gave it back to him ... and thought about looking at the e-library section, sure enough, they had it and I am now FLYING through it on the Kindle. Anyone else have that issue with reading on a device and then going back to a real book? It's just hard, the lighting, the saving your place, etc. I don't know what it is!

7.  Even though I did not really menu plan this past week, I used what we had on hand ... which is a lot. The variety of food available is sort of embarrassing, to be honest. Of course, we are out of loaf bread and applesauce (the Boy eats both) so I told him to swing by Aldis on his way to work one day. Doh. He hasn't and we STILL don't have either in house.

8.  Prepared all 7 breakfast and lunches at home, using what we have ... also did ALL 7 dinners the same way. I'm quite proud of myself ;-)

9.  Made a batch of mayo.



10. Drove Zippy Car (Hubby's company car) all week ... for the past 2 weeks worth of driving, only 1/2 tank was used ... this thing gets close to 40 miles per gallon in the CITY ... as opposed to the Tahoe which gets about 10, maybe 11 if I'm lucky ...

And of course, full disclosure and some of our not so Frugal Activities ...

1.  Gave in and bought more beer that we all like, instead of drinking the crap craft beer. This was primarily Hubby's doing as he's a beer snob, only in the sense that he won't drink anything but the can with the blue mountains on it ... 15 pk of the bullet cans were on sale for $14.99 ...

2.  Went and had my hair colored. I wish the Boy would at least CUT my hair since he does all his friends and girlfriend ... and it would be even better IF he would color my hair too. He is self taught and actually has friends who pay him to cut their hair. One of them creative genes that he has ;-) I would gladly give him the $$$ that I paid a professional stylist to do this.

3.  When I finally DID go to the grocery store, it was Whole Foods and well, we all know the nickname ... $120 spent for fresh produce (peppers, onions, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, jalapeno peppers - I need to plant a new pepper plant - lunchmeat (snob), sliced cheese, cans of various flavors green tea, flat iron steak that went straight to the freezer and more bacon that was BOGO but still, $5.99 for the 2 packets at 8 oz each.

What kind of Frugal Activities did YOU do this week?

Looking forward to sharing with Money Propeller and The Prudent Homemaker ... go check out both!

Rice Cooker - Hard Boiled Eggs

One of the things I picked up at Costco was a new Rice Cooker. The one I have, well, I gave that to the Boy when he went away to college (so he could make his macaroni and cheese), not to mention, it was small as heck, like mini size!

So, I figured, you know, Hubby likes to make rice occasionally. The Boy makes brown rice in the microwave every other day and leaves the bubbly residue behind for ME to find when I go to heat something up (I hate a dirty microwave, totally wigs me out and sends me running for the windex!) ... so I grabbed the rice cooker ($29.95), a 10 pound bag of organic brown rice and a 20 pound bag of Basmati rice. I'm asking myself now, a whole week later, what the hell am I going to do with 20 pounds of Basmati rice? Anyways.

Then I was reading the recipe booklet that came along with the cooker. They had one recipe that said to add the eggs, unshelled, to the steamer basket.  Ok. That made me re-read it a few times. Unshelled? Did they mean out of the shell? Un Shell. I would think that's what they meant. But then the egg will run through the little holes so surely, they meant with the shell on, or intact?

And here's where the brain starts to wind up.

Hey! I wonder if you can hard boil eggs using the steamer??


Guess what?

You CAN!

Woohoo. They were perfect! Absolutely, perfect. Honest!



I eat a lot of eggs and try to keep some hard boiled ones on hand for salads and a quick snack ... but I hate boiling the big pot of water as it makes it really steamy in the kitchen ... and living in South Florida, we have plenty of humidity already, thank you very much ...

You know that I've tried baking them in the muffin tins and that had mixed opinions (the brown specks freaked everyone out).


And of course, I've done the bring to boil, put a lid on it and let them sit for 10 minutes. Even Hubby is trained now for that.

BUT what if you could simply add 2 cups water to the rice maker, put 6 to 12 eggs in the steamer basket. Close the lid and set it to 15 minutes and just leave the room and do whatever (in my case, shower) ... come back, remove the eggs and put in ice water ... and have PERFECT eggs?

Um, sign me up!

Seriously. No waiting for the water to boil.

No steam bath in the kitchen.

Minimal clean up ... Easy easy easy. No fuss what so ever!

Got a rice cooker?? Go ahead and give this a shot ... I'm telling you, there is no other way from here on out!


Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsShare Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip TuesdaysShow Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayFoodie FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFood on FridayFreakin Did It FridayFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseFoodie Friends FridayFun Friday blog hopFriday FavoritesTGIF BLOG HOPWeekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayTGI Friday Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayThe Party BunchI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSuper Saturday Show & TellSay G'day SaturdayNot Bad SundayPotluck PartySunday ShowcaseSavory SundaySundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth MondayDinner Time RecipesShow Me What You GotMade By You MondayHunk of Meat MondaySweet Sharing MondayWhat’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterMotivated MondayTime To SparkleMealtime MondayTime To Sparkle, Makin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayLou Lou Girls