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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Books that I’m reading (courtesy of the Broward County Library System) Bringing Down the House – story of the MIT students who won in Vegas at blackjack. We saw the special on the History Channel and of course, I wanted to read the book then. The book, well, it’s moving slow. I’m an avid reader and this just is not holding my attention, but I’m still plugging away. Cheap, Fast, Good – cookbook. This is by the authors of other books titled desperation Dinners & Desparation Entertaining. It has some recipes in there I’d like to try. Whether or not it would make my preparations any faster, well, that’s to be seen. I have not tested the recipes yet, but will post recipe & results when I do. The book is large, 496 pages total with most recipes taking one page. It’s easy reading, plenty of whitespace and a good font to read by. The authors have a personality that definitely comes through, which I really enjoy. As I’ve said, have not tried any recipes, but I may consider buying the book IF the recipes are good.
Blackened fish sandwiches I was watching Paula Deen the other weekend and she was making these. I thought, heck, we do the blackened chix sandwhiches all the time, I’m gonna try this since I have the tilapia in the freezer (2 lbs, they were buy one get one free at $4.99, made it cheap). Basically, she used tilapia (I’ve never ever cooked it before). Then made a spice rub, but you know, I have the blackened red fish seasoning (by Goya) that I will use. Fry it up in a little olive oil & butter and serve on a toasted bun or roll. I will use hamburger buns since I have so many buns in freezer (read post on Freezer Finds). Will make a tarter/mayo sauce to spread on bun. Not sure, but think I will make some coleslaw to go along with it too.

Asian Chicken Soup

From Martha Stewart Every Day Cooking ....

Asian Chicken Soup

3 cans chix broth
1 tbs grated ginger
1 garlic clove, slivered
¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
4 ounces soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti
2 b/s chix breast, thinly sliced
1 med red bell pepper, cut into bite size strips
1 cup snow peas, sliced
1 to 2 tbs lime juice (1 lime)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt

Bring broth, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 2 cups water to a boil over high heat.

Add noodles, lower heat. Simmer til noodles are tender.

Add chicken, bell pepper, snow peas. Cook til chicken is opaque throughout, about 1 minute.

Add lime juice, scallions and salt to taste.

My notes on what I use:

All water with ‘better than boullion’ or cubes.
Dry ginger if I don’t feel like grating fresh.
Minced garlic.
Ramen noodles.
Also, tend to cut down on the snow peas AND use ¼ if any at all of the red pepper flakes. Gets real hot, real quick! AND – do not add black pepper if that’s a habit when cooking! Trust me!
Menu – Sunday 5/26 to Saturday 5/31 Sunday – out with friends Monday – Memorial Day – chix thighs on grill, baked beans, coleslaw, corn Tuesday – soup and sandwiches – made asian chicken soup & cheese quesadillas Wednesday –baked taters & leftovers Thursday - blackened tilapia sandwiches Friday – pasta – ravioli …may make sauce during the day as I’m off Saturday – Steak on grill – although now it looks like we may go boating, in that case, probably just do burgers and/or dogs on the grill or on the boat.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Freezer Finds

As I mentioned earlier, I did a freezer inventory over the weekend. Actually, it was inventory AND clean out. Here are some things that I discovered I have: 1lb t-bone steak. Of course, I’m asking myself, how on earth do I have only 1? So I cooked that up on Monday on grill, divided it into 4 servings and froze each to go on my evil jungle salads. Plenty of old tupperware stuff. Being that I tossed all my old tupperware back in December, and some of the stuff didn’t have labels, I tossed the contents, washed the tupperware & decided what to keep & tossed the older worn stuff out in recyclable bin. Yellow Icepops – those little plastic sleeves that are just like koolade and then you freeze and the kids LOVE them (I have teens and they beg for these things). Strange thing is they are all yellow. Do you think, perhaps, yellow doesn’t taste good to teens?? Buns – buns, buns. Hamburger buns. Hot Dog buns. More Hamburger buns and more hot dog buns. Mental note to self: do not buy any buns for the next month. 2 lonely individual frozen b/s chicken breast. These must have fallen out of the bag of Tyson (or was it perdue?) that I bought from BJ’s a few months back. They are fine, it was just strange that they showed up on their own. 4 packages of the LARGE tortilla wrap things. Covered, and I mean COVERED in frosty stuff. Those went in the garbage. I’m figuring they’ve been in the freezer for oh, about 3 years. Yikes. Broccoli. Bags and bags of it. I have one 3 lb bag, and about 8 other 1 lb bags. Spread out among the 3 freezers. I do remember seeing a good sale and picking up 3 or 4 but come on, I’ve got way too much frozen broccoli. Too bad I don’t even like it, just hubby & daughter. The freezer is now nice and neat. Somewhat orderly. I actually typed up an excel spreadsheet with what’s in each freezer. Now I just need to remember to mark off when I take something out. If I’m up to it, I may post it later, just for kicks. There is still a lot of stuff in there!

Sunday Grocery Trip

This trip was delayed Friday & Saturday. Finally HAD to go on Sunday (no garbage bags or cat food). Had a very detailed list. Was bound & determined to stick to it. Ended up costing me $170.00 and then some! First mistake – never go when extremely busy, holiday weekend or in a hurry. Second mistake – pay attention to the sales! My BIGGEST mistake was the shrimp trays, 20 ounces were $10.99 and it was buy one get one free. I stupidly picked up two 32 ounce ones and noticed when I got home they were $16.99 each and NOT on B1G1F! Third mistake – pay attention at the checkout. Had I been, I would have noticed the shrimp & saved myself $35 or so. Ok, so all the above, I know and usually practice. But I had originally thought we were having company over later in the afternoon so I was a bit rushed. As it was, we ended up going out and spending close to $300 (see earlier post!) Now I’ve convinced myself, and hubby, and the kids (sort of) that I do not need to be going to the grocery store for 3 weeks or so, except for the basics, such as milk, eggs, bread and produce. Lets see if everyone remembers! Being that I did freezer inventory on Saturday and then just spent this much made me sit down & do a menu plan through July 4th. Wonder if I could really stay away from a big grocery trip that long??!! One thing that really really made me upset (not mad, just upset) was the store brand spaghetti, 16 oz, $1.31!!!! Used to be 90 cents just a few weeks ago! Now the b1g1f will really stink as we will be paying the price of what we are used to, and it will be considered on sale!!
The latest topic buzzing around everywhere is the price of gas & what to do about it. I had always said once it hits $4 a gallon, I would be parking the truck & finding alternative transportation. I haven’t even been by a gas station since last Friday to even know what the current price is but I’m sure it’s over $4. I have a 99 Chevy Tahoe with 26K miles. Not the best on gas mileage (think we figured about 10-11 miles a gallon for my in city driving). I also have a 2001 Mistubishi Diamante that I drove everyday until daughter got her license and then she wrecked it, so it’s sitting in the driveway waiting for her to cough up about $2800.00 On Saturday, I had to go to the library to pick up 2 books I had put on hold. While there, I picked up to student 31 day bus passes for $20 each (unlimited use for 31 days) and a 10 ride adult pass for $10. $50 is what I put in the Tahoe last week to give me almost ¾ of a tank (I don’t let it get empty). Broward county transit recently increased their prices, I think back in October. I’m still learning the fees – the kids (teens), pay 60 cents each leg (meaning each time they change a bus, they have to pay 60 cents. To come home from school, it’s 2 buses, so $1.20 each, just for the ride home. I can’t remember how much it is for an all day, unlimited pass. Adults are $1.25 each leg. For me to go to work, I could do it with one bus, no transfers or anything. Of course, I will have to walk 2 blocks (oh my) to the bus stop from home and THEN walk 6 to 8 blocks to work. I’m trying to figure out if there is a stop down by Andrews Ave instead of just 3rd Ave. If so, that will knock off 2 blocks. My thoughts are: drive to work every Tuesday as this is my meeting day and I MUST be there by a certain time, no room for delays. Also, I usually go to the recording office on Tuesdays, so it would be stupid to tell the company yeah, I’ll go, but I’ll have to take the bus. I can then make that the primary day to do any extra running around, such as the store, bank, etc. I do need to stop at goodwill on my way home this evening as I’ve been lugging stuff around in back of truck for 2 weeks now … Wednesday and Thursday, either hubby can drop me off in the general area of my office (it’s pretty much on his way, give or take a few blocks) and I can take the bus home (not a big deal to get hot & sweaty on my way home, just jump in the pool after changing!) OR take the bus to and from work OR have dh pick me up. Being that his schedule is so screwy in the afternoon & evenings, I really don’t want to deal with that. Remember, he has a company car (charger, r/t) with company gas. No, he does not expense the gas, they have a fill up thingy at his office … he just fills out a log when he fills up. So that’s that. I wanted to start it today BUT since Monday was a holiday, my co-worker took yesterday off as her 2nd day off (gee, why don’t I get the 5 day weekends???) and our meeting will be this morning and recording will be today. BUT Thursday, I will be doing it. I’ll keep you posted. I’m hoping the new buses are much better than years past …

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday night, we went with another couple to a restaurant on the beach called Cafe Del Mar. I didn't really want to go as I kept saying that it's Memorial Day Weekend and who in the hell goes out to some fancy restaurant on the beach to eat?? Well, we went. They warned us that we were not going for the food but the entertainment. Oh my god! Alex Fox. Google him, actually google the images. This man plays a wicked guitar! Usually, his 2 sons are with him playing but not that night. He had a drummer with him that has only played for 1 week and they were terrific together! We sat there from 8:30 to 11:30pm. The crowds were lined up on the sidewalk listening & watching the performance. They were selling cd's like crazy (from the looks of it!). The seating was packed which was why people were lined up on the sidewalk. It was breezy and no rain and the humidity was down, thankfully, so very comfortable (outdoor seating). Amazing. EXPENSIVE! $266 for the 4 of us. We didn't even do dinner, just appetizers. A little disappointed in that part of it since I had jsut spent $170 at the grocery store earlier. I vowed that I would not be going to the grocery store til the 15th for any major shopping (still need to go for milk, eggs, produce, but no pantry or freezer stuff). I did inventory on freezer which will be posted shortly and realized I have way too much food! Here's the website for the restaurant if you are curious: cafedelmarbeach.com. You can click on the entertainment tab & select Alex Fox from there. I'm glad we went, just wish it hadn't been so expensive

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shaving off a few dollars on the budget

I was looking at my home phone bill the other day and was thinking that it seems to be too much for a phone that we have mainly for the alarm monitoring service and those few sales calls that come in (ok, most of them are the fraternal order of the police!). Oh, and my friend, “chatty” who calls at a certain time of the night. I decided that now was the time. I cancelled the caller ID ($9.99 a month) and the long distance plan ($4.00 a month). After tax and all, I figured that should knock out about $20 off the bill. Regular household service is $13.99 plus the stupid taxes. Should be about $20. The bill has been $40. My $4.00 long distance plan with one call at 5 cents cost me $10 after all the taxes & surcharges. So there. I am standing up for my right to not be tied to the caller id! DH swears that I’m going to regret the caller id removal. We will see. Since I pretty much know when Chatty will call, I won’t need to see that it’s her. And now, if I’m busy making dinner, or eating, or even just reading, I won’t feel obligated to jump up and ‘see’ who is calling. It can go to the answering machine. And if they don’t leave a message OR call one of the 4 cell phone numbers that EVERYONE has, then they must not be someone I want to talk to anyways! Now if I could just get DH to decide what to do about the $60+ a month gym membership!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mailing a letter

Just got a little more expensive. Postal rates for a first class letter goes up one penny today to 42 cents each. REMEMBER - the forever stamps are 'forever' and do not have a $ value to them, they are good for any normal first class letter, 41 cents or 42 cents. Use them up! Should have stocked up on them a while ago!! For more info, you can go to their website: usps.com

Mother's Day

All mothers know that Mother’s Day isn’t just once day a year. And if that’s the only day you are shown any real appreciation, shame on your children and rest of the family! My 15 year old son makes a Sunday breakfast for us about once a month. I of course, assist but for the most part he does it. The only reason for my assistance is that he’s still learning cooking skills, but is by far much more experienced than a lot of kids his age. All week long, he’s been asking if he could make breakfast on Sunday. At first, couldn’t figure out WHY, then realized that it was Mother’s Day so I said sure. He told me that he didn’t want me in the kitchen at all, and was making a list of things to cook and asking me for certain recipes, like the pancake mix since it would be made from scratch. I was so impressed and proud of him. The breakfast turned out terrific. He made pancakes (from scratch), sausage patties, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast & a fruit salad (watermelon, strawberries, oranges & grapes). His sister, I think was a little put out as he didn’t consult with her. Then when my back was turned and he was setting the table, he had one of my champagne flute glasses that is blue & purple and filled it with handmade tissue flowers in the same colors along with a card that he made. Wow. This is coming from a tough 15 year old rock guitarist boy! I must be doing something right somewhere. My 17 year old daughter was a little upset I think that she didn’t get to be part of the making of breakfast. But she gave me a beautiful hand made card also. She was very quiet at breakfast. I don’t know if it’s because she is not a morning person (whatsoever!) or what. She’s over it now, but still. The rest of my day was to be outside in the pool. However, it was brutally hot & I just couldn’t do it (90 plus degrees & hot wind on top of it), so I read the whole Sunday paper & watch tv with dh. Dinner was pot roast in the crockpot (thanks to dh) and homemade macaroni & cheese (again thanks to dh). I still did the dishes and laundry, etc. but all in all, a good Sunday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Teriyaki Sauce - review

Picked this up at Costco on Monday. Large bottle, 33.8 ounces. Cost $5.99. It was part of a demo for frozen popcorn chicken pieces. Didn’t buy the chicken but really liked the sauce. It’s not watery. More like a little syrup type mixture. Sweet, but not overly so. Has a nice teriyaki flavored, not all soy sauce like some of the other brands. Also eliminates that huge sodium flavor. I would definitely buy this again. Here’s how I used it: Cooked up some white rice (in chicken broth) Grilled onions, canned shrooms (all I had) and red peppers Grilled sirloin steak Cut up onions, peppers & steak, served over the rice & drizzled with the teriyaki sauce at the table. Even dd ate it, and she is not a meat person. Made sure to make a small bowl to toss in freezer and that’s what I’m taking for lunch today.

Iced Tea

I admit it, my dh is addicted to the Lipton diet citrus green tea. I pick it up at Costco as they seem to have the ‘best’ price for it. Still not cheap but better than the regular stores. I do make tea though for everyday … the Lipton stuff is for weekends on boat, outside working around the house, etc. Oh, and dd is addicted to it too. Here’s how I make my tea (not really rocket science but just to share) Fill container with cold water & nuke on high for 4 minutes. Add 2 green tea bags and 2 regular tea bags. Allow to steep 10 minutes or so. Pour tea into 64 oz (2 qt) jug (I use a recycled Simply Orange container) Add 2 to 4 packets of equal (see notes) and fill remaining with water. Shake & chill I also add flavored syrup occasionally instead of the equal sweetner. Raspberry is by far the favorite. Once in a while I will toss in a slice of lemon to the tea seeping or an orange, etc, but dh is not ‘crazy’ about that so I don’t do the fruit often. But he likes the flavored stuff. Not recommended for daily intake as it does get sweet.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

5th of May

Is a big day in Mexico and around here also (any reason to have a party!) ... It's also my birthday! :) Yup, hit 44. Wow. Will probably go down as the worse birthday in my life. I say it tongue in cheek. No air & sea show this year. Car still has not been fixed from dd's accident. Put boat in water on Thursday, broke down, had to be towed back to ramp, put back on trailer & brought home to work on for next 2 days. Saturday put back in water. Ran fine til slowed down. One of the motors was knocking. Turned it off and limped home on the other motor. DH & friends pulled all the sparkplugs. Couldn't get 'compression' on one (??). Another friend came over with one of them cool cameras on a springy thing to look at (he owns marina) ... motor is blown or something to that effect :( Thank god we have the extended service policy. But not sure if it's going to be 100% ok or not as we don't know if the breakdown on Thursday was the leading up to it? Ahhh. It's been fun :) DH got a carvel ice cream cake. It was yummy. Made (me) chicken burritos for dinner. Will post the recipe ... not too bad.