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Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - end of February and into March!

Whoa, where did the short month of February go to?? Geesh, if I was to look at the status of my goals this morning, I could spiral into a great depression ... ick.

After cleaning out two shelves of the pantry over the weekend, and pulling a few things from the freezer (chops, pork loin, chicken), I see that I still have tons of food to go through, even after a 7 week or so Pantry Challenge. Then again, when I did go to to store last week, I was surprised at the prices ... they've really gone up since the first of the year! Disappointing and here's hopes that the crisis in the Middle East clears up quickly ($3.59 for a gallon of regular gas!?) ... we've got a lot of gas guzzling items so it would be most apprecited to lower the price soon ....

Anyways, Monday means Menu Planning ... I've started to put together a rough MONTH menu, but knowing that Hubby is traveling but not sure WHEN makes it a little more difficult! But here's what we have for the week:

Monday - soup and sandwiches (leftover cubanos from Sunday and canned soup)
Tuesday - mac and cheese with sausage (stouffers mac & cheese and chicken sausage)
Wednesday - turkey chili taco soup and pasta salad
Thursday - crockpot sante fe chicken
Friday - burgers on the grill with fries (either homefries or frying up in the fryer)
Saturday - blackened chicken sandwiches
Sunday - Pasta with homemade sauce and garlic bread

I'm hoping to post the whole menu before much longer ... so keep an eye out. Also, a few recipe reviews are on their way in ... So what are you all eating this week? Looking for ideas or just want to link up too? Head on over to Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday linkup!

Cubanos

Living in South Florida has certainly exposed me to more foods than living in the small town in the Midwest.  One of the things that surprisingly enough I love, is the pork sandwich, cuban style, or, Cubanos. These have things that I normally do NOT care for in eating, such as mustard and pickles (bleck) but I can, and do eat them in a Cubano without a second thought. That says a lot, trust me!

This is a great way to use up leftover pork ... but in my case, I almost always make sure I have extras so I can make Cubanos ... and using the paninni press from Aldi's made it even better!

Loaf of cuban bread (or french-I used this, italian, whatever hearty stuff you have)
cooked pork. sliced thin
cooked ham, sliced thin
pickles, sliced thin (I used hot & spicy dills)
mustard
swiss cheese (or any other cheese you have on hand)
butter


Cut bread in half and then open up long ways. Lay flat and butter the outside pieces. 

For easier loading up, I layer (on a plate) a slice of cheese, a few slices of ham, some pork, more cheese and then pickles. That way, when you set the bottom piece of bread on the pan (buttered side down), squirt some mustard on the bread, set your pre-stacked meat on, and then add the top piece of bread (butter side up). Just makes it so much easier, in my opinion.






IF pressing (which you should), close lid, carefully as everything can (and will) spit out the sides! Cook til cheese is melting and the bread has a nice firm toasty-ness to it.
 

Slice in half on the diagonal, stand back and admire and then serve.

Linking up with Jen over at Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday! Hop on over and check out what she has to say about the dirty dozen ... I've got to stay away from that post for a few days! 

French Bread - cheap!

I have a few favorite sites that I try to visit a few times a week ... and one of them is the Frugal Girl.  One of my favorite features is her Wednesday Baking posts. This girl can BAKE.

So, the other night, as we were making pork chops and rice with brocolli and cheese, I was wishing for some bread to grill up too ... but alas, all I had was the pepperidge farm stuff and that just wasn't going to cut it, you know?

So, at 6pm at night (we don't eat til late on Saturdays), I pulled out my breadmachine and added:

1 cup of warm water
3 cups of flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 pkg of yeast

Turned it on dough cycle and walked away. Came back, rolled it out:


Let it rise for about 40 minutes and then baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes


Believe it or not, we had french bread by 9pm on the grill toasting. Yes, I did bake the bread in the oven. It was so dang easy (even a Cave Man can do it) that I made another loaf again on Sunday for the Cubanos, by memory and still turned out perfect. Huh. Who would have thought? Go ahead, give it a try, easy peasy.

Check out Kristin's original post for full details on baking ...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Take 10

Or in this case, 30 minutes.

What started as a hunt for mayo (seriously) turned in to an utterly disgusted attitude and a cleanout and organinzing of two shelves in the pantry.

Yes. It needed to be done. NOW.

Before...

Salad dressings, 14 bottles
BBQ sauc bottles (um, sad considering Hubby MAKES it)
Steak sauce (A1) 9 bottles
Worchestershire sauce (large bottles) 2
Dales seasoning, low sodium 2
Sesame marinade 2
Chili sauce 2
grey poupon
chinese mustard
thai peanut sauce
baby dills 2
dill chips
cherries
jams x 4
canned pumpkin 3
bacon bit (costco size bag)
various nuts2
nutella
magic shell chocolate
tea bags 12 boxes (and a ziploc)
crystal lite 10 plus ziploc
countrytime lemonade
crystalite pure fitness 2
coffee 5 plus container
filters
syrup x 4
pancake mix x 4 plus container
nesquik
mocha
vanilla protein powder x 2 (plus large bag in other kitchen!)
chocolate protein powder x 2

Here's how it looks now:

AND no mayo or ketchup!

And in the process, I consolidated a few things:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Magic towels

As I confessed over here on the dishwashing issues (that I'd rather wash dishes by hand) ... sort of led me to another post ... the magic towels.


Microfiber.

Picked them up at Target, 6 pack for $5 on clearance. They were in the automotive section, so I'm guessing they are for car exteriors ... but seriously, can someone tell me what the difference really is in these things (I have another 3 pack that each is for a specific use) ... I love love love my little green towels!

Laundry ...

We all know the general rule, whites with whites, darks with darks, etc. But every once in a while, a stray item will sneak in, typically in my house, a black sock with the white towels.

But this time, well, I think we may have really done it.

Look.


Huh. I stepped away to put some of the kitchen towels away and came back to this. Figured he found a great hiding spot from Kitty Kitty. Unfortunately, I believe he slept there for most of the day and I ended up booting him out that night and redoing the rest of those WHITES.

*This is Gman, the old kitty that we are "fostering" for oh, 7 months now??*

Dishwashing issues

I admit it, I'd much rather wash dishes by HAND (gasp) then use my dishwasher. For years, I didn't have a dishwasher and just could not wait for the day ... then when we renovated the house 11 years ago, I got one.

Hmmm. It's not all that and more after all ...

It's a GE Profile brand. From day one I've had gripes with it.

Didn't dry totally, even on heated dry and hot rinse.

Didn't seem to really clean dishes.

There was always water standing in the bottom of the tub, which just didn't seem "right".

So I've called the service people several times all those years ago. And they just told me that is the way it is.

Ok. Not quite like that. :)

But, they suggested that I turn up my hot water heater. Hmmm. I thought 120 was the recommended temperature.

They suggested that I wipe and rinse my dishes before loading. Hmmm....that would be pretty much the same as HAND WASHING, wouldn't it?

They suggested that I dry the tub out if it bothered me, that it was normal like that. Hmmm. Ok, may as well dry those dishes too while I'm at it.

So, regardless. I use the dishwasher maybe once a week. Of course, on days like Saturday, where I have the Roccos Tacos Grand Opening, Canyons Prickly Pear meeting and the Dive Bar pirate finale, the dishwasher receives EVERYTHING for ease and comfort.

So look at this. Funny, I just noticed it ...


WTH. Of course, those dishes are already put away and probably reused and rewashed BY HAND yet again. But seriously. Do you think the dishes were CLEAN after that?

I went to the website of Finnish and researched. Heh. Just like the service people.

...found my FINISH tab in the detergent dispenser:  The dispenser may not be functioning properly. If the problem continues you may need to call your local approved dishwasher service engineer for assistance.
Sometimes the dispenser cup may be damp or water may get into the dispenser before it opens. This causes the tablet to start dissolving before the cup opens and the tab sticks there...

Great, so now, I get to rinse and wipe dishes before loading, make sure the dispenser cup is dried out after loading said dishes. Then wait for the heated dry to finish, open up, dry dishes AND dry tub.

You betcha.

*Just a little sidenote: I normally would buy the liquid stuff but picked up these tabs at Costco not too long ago ... I had noticed that it also looked like the gelly stuff was leaving a streak behind also, like it wasn't being fully washed out. It may be time to call the service people in yet again :(*

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A few grocery tallies from Publix

First off, the items purchased were pretty cheap and in dire need (remember the tomatoe sauce issue for the shepards pie?) ... and being that it's Italian Days at Publix, hey, I'm all in (I think this was the last time I bought these same items I'm out of!)

Trip 1, spent $22.21, saved $66.52.

Trip 2, spent $18.34, saved $48.49. The sweet peppers at $5.99 put me way over the top but I "wanted" them ...

I'm done shopping for the week I beleive. I do need to get some squishy white bread for Sonny Boy but I think I can hold out til the weekend, thankfully.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tomato Salad with Cheese Crisp

4 thick slices italian bread, cut into cubes (or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs white wine vinegar
2 lbs tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 tbs chopped fresh dill (use dried if that's all you have)
3/4 cup grated cheese (gruyere or whatever else you have on hand)
1 tbs all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400. Toss bread with 2 tbs olive oil on baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake til golden, 8 minutes or so. Let cool slightly.
Whisk mustard, lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in 2 tbs oil. Add tomatoes, green onions, dill and more salt and pepper. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Set aside while making the crisps.
Toss cheese with flour and pepper to taste in bowl. Arrange the mixture in 4 mounds on baking tray and flatten slightly (I line the tray with parchment paper). Bake til golden brown, about 10 minutes, cool slightly then remove to rack and let cool. Serve with tomato salad.

*as modified from Food network magazine

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

This would/should be Week 8 of the Pantry Challenge. Not that I've given up on the cleaning out of the pantry and freezers, but well, I'm just plain tired. Yes, I've shopped this week. Spent a whole $51 at Publix and then I did Costco. Got some steals and deals too, including whack a can breadsticks, tomato sauce, frozen chicken tenderloin, frozen spinach and such. So regardless, here's what I plan to be eating this week:

Monday - Grilled chicken cesar salad
Tuesday - Tacos or quesidillas, not sure which way I want to go yet
Wednesday - Spinach with Steak salad
Thursday - Chicken Parm with pasta on the side and whack a can italian bread
Friday - Garlic Chicken Pizza with whack a can garlic breadsticks
Saturday - Chicken stuffed with spinach
Sunday - burgers and/or dogs

Linking up with Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday ... check out what 100's of others are eating too ...

Costco

Yes, I did another run to Costco. Was going to go yesterday (Sunday) but decided to go after my dentist appt this morning. Very list specific ....

10 lb onions $4.79
large bag of crumbled bacon bits $9.99
10 lb bag of carrots $6.99
6 lb of ground sirloin patties $16.99 (whoa, these have gotten expensive!)
2 pks of honey roasted turkey $7.98 and $7.79 each
4 pk celery hearts $3.59
10 lb red delicious apples $8.99
3 lbs bananas $1.47
3 half & half  $1.69 each
2 gallons skim milk $2.29 each
2 gallons 2% milk, $2.39 each
40 ct orville popcorn $9.89
artesian lettuce heads (8 total I think?) $3.99
3 dozen xlarge eggs $3.99
large container organic spinach $4.49
36 ct water bottles $3.49
2 propel 24 pks $7.99 each (after coupon)

I had 2 $50 american expresss gift cards and one with a balance of $27. Yes, I used them all up. Well, I have $3 or so left on the one.

NOTE: They didn't have any romaine lettuce (WTH?), the sweet peppers were $5, the lunchmeat had different prices per lb so I dug through and got the ones that were $3.65/lb instead of $3.99/lb. No large tomatoes. It was kind of an odd trip, I thought. That's why I got the spinach and artesian lettuce heads...my main reason for going was milk, lunchmeat AND lettuce. Uggg.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Sunday ...

and I'm off Monday in honor of President's Day. So here's what I plan to do in the next day :)

1. Dentist appt at 8am. I just know I'm going to hear that I have a cavity that needs to be filled. May go ahead and make THAT appointment too.
2. 8:30am is the dentist cleaning. Woohoo
3. Bug man arrives at home while I'm gone! Hubby will have to wait it out OR wait, I can wake one of the lazy kids :)
4. Costco. Yeah. I'm going to Costco. $100 AE gift card is ALL I'm taking. No debit. No cash (well, yes I'll take some cash) I have a very specific list.
5. Wash the SUV. With the help of Sonny Boy since that was the agreement for him to use it Friday night.
6. Laundry, iron and put away.
7. Make salad for next couple of days. DONE
8. Grill chicken for salad lunches. DONE
9. Clean out fridge (main)
10. Clean out fridge (guest)
11. Organize garage freezer. I see pockets of space which makes me very very happy
12. Dust and vacuum master bedroom.
13. Dust and mop master bathroom.
14. Clean laundry room (damn cats and litter)
15. Finish mopping the house (got half done on Sunday)
16. Make derm. appt for sonny boy
17. Make eye dr appt for Sonny boy and me

I think that will be it? I would also like to precook some of this weeks meal plan since I plan on hitting the gym at least 3 times this week, with today being day one. I will go in the evening with Hubby as he wants to do a medicine ball workout too ...

Ammie over at Domestically Obsessed doesn't do a link up any more (boo) but she still posts and encourages you to leave a link in a comments, so head on over!

Spinach Steak Salad with Sour Cream Potatoes

My neighbor was so sweet and got me an annual subscription with the Food Network Magazine. Sometimes I love all the recipes and other times, nothing appeals to me. Odd.

Anyways, here's one that I actually tore the page out and I just came across it when I was cleaning out a stack of papers on my desk. There will be more recipes coming up from this same stack (I hate stacks but I fall for it every single time).

2 medium russet taters (I'm going to use these mini purple ones I got)
3 tbs olive oil plus more for brushing (honestly? I'll use canola for the cooking stuff and olive for the flavor stuff)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbs buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped chives
juice of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
3/4 lb sirloin steak
1 large red onion, sliced into thick rings (try to keep each slice intact)
6 oz baby spinach or rough chopped regular spinach (bite size pieces)
2-3 tbs steak sauce (A1 with tabasco is what we have)

Preheat oven to 400. Stab taters and brush with oil. Bake directly on oven rack til tender, 1 hour or so. Cool slightly then cut into chunks. Mix sour cream, buttermilk chives and lemon juice in large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in taters.

Meanwhile, preheat grill to high. Brush steak and onion rings with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill steak til marked on bottom, about 7 minutes, turn and cook 4 to 5 more minutes til rare. Grill onion slices til charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer both to cutting board and rest 5 minutes (yes, you rest too).

Roughly chop the onion rings with spinach and add steak sauce, 3 tbs olive oil and salt and pepper to taste to bowl. Thinly slice steak. Divide spinach between 4 plates, top with steak and serve with potatoes.

I'm linking up with Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday ... today she's talking about her evolution to real foods ... this really is an excellent recipe to share on that note since the only thing that stands out as "fake" is the A1 :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pantry Challenge, days 43, 44 and 45

And we continue...

Day 43, Sunday. Um, breakfast for Hubby and I was shepards pie ... lunch was snacky stuff (and lime cheesecake). Dinner was grilled cheese sandwiches on the Pannini press and tomato soup (canned). Easy. No fuss. No mess.

Day 44, Monday. Hubby is GONE to NY. Lucky dog. That leaves me to feed Sonny Boy mostly as Princess will be getting home late everynight. So breakfast for me was container 1 of 5 of the creamy oatmeal from the other morning. Sonny Boy had pancakes and yogurt with some frozen raspberries folded in. Lunch was the same old thing for SB. I had a salad and a small square of shepards pie (I'm really tired of it now). Dinner was spaghetti which made SB very very happy. The noodles were bought Friday BEFORE Hubby and I discussed Saturday dinner ideas.

Day 45, Tuesday. Breakfast for all of us (well, 3 of us) was scrambled eggs and toast. Lunches were the same for the kids and I had a salad with some precooked chicken from freezer. BLT's for dinner (I tossed some turkey on mine and reduced the amount of bacon to keep it healthier). Used the bacon (and turkey, and tomatoes AND lettuce) that I had picked up from Costco a few weeks ago. The other 3 packages went in the freezer. Never realized just how much bacon we really eat around here. It should be a little worrisome! The bread was picked up at Publix, B1G1F on my way home from work ... so now I have 2 loaves but granted, they are smaller loaves (it's not the big perfect squisy square type).
Seriously, this is pretty sad that I've not spent anywhere near what I normally do at the grocery store on a weekly basis and STILL have tons of food left to feed everyone. I did spend $50 at Publix on Tuesday for 2 loaves bread, 2 sandwich round packages, pomegrante juice (for my upcoming adult beverage this weekend), AND (eek) 5 bags of Tyson chicken strips, all natural. $8.59 normally a bag. Price on shelf said $4.99 and there were $1 off coupons right there. figured heck, this is a GOOD deal. So grabbed 5. They rang up at $8.59. Got the Publix promise (one free) and the rest were priced at $6.99 (my bad, the $4.99 was for some small bag that didn't even exist). Oh, and 2 wrist splints per the Dr. visit Tuesday morning. Don't ask, luckily she said I only need to wear them when I sleep. And I made it a point to get the cat food and litter from the pet store to keep me from getting sidetracked (had to get fleabag medicine anyways).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Take 10

or even 5 or 15 minutes and tackle a small project.

For me, this morning, at 6:45am, it was this drawer.



Ummm, yeah. It's a mess. And always rather frustrating when I'm trying to find a quick tail holder, or when I pull out the straightner.

10 minutes later, and this included 2 trips OUT of the room to get the little cups for organizing and wet wipe to wipe out the bottom of drawer AND take pictures ...


I threw alot of stuff out. Mostly hair bands that were stretched out, too small, not stretchy enough, etc. The lotions went to the appropriate spot in bathroom (under sink), the nail polish and feet stuff went to the next drawer (threw away 8 bottles of polish). I used the wet wipe to wipe out the drawer when it was empty to get all the hair. Amazing what 10 minutes can do, huh? Go ahead, tackle a small project. Be ruthless!

The two little containers? Those are just those little clear plastic Chinet cups that I got for free last summer. No one around here likes to use them for drinking (small, dainty, dumb) so they make great little organizers.

Menu Plan Monday - Week 7 of Pantry Challenge

Linking up with Organizing Junkie yet again to try and get a menu plan together during my 7th week of the Pantry Challenge.  Funny, Hubby was telling me the other night that we were running out of a LOT of stuff around here (ummmm, first it was tomato sauce, which we made with 2 cans of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato paste in the food processor and then he thought black pepper. No Dude, we'd never run out of that!)

Pantry IS starting to show signs of progress. I suppose the freezers are too, I just need to get in them and organize but still waiting for more room to appear first!

Hubby's out two nights this week so here's what me and the animal(s) will have:

Monday - I know it's valentine's day and all so I've improvised with the addition of the raspberry smoothie for desert ... otherwise, it's pasta, plain pasta which should make the Kids as happy as a clam since I've been without regular spaghetti for 2 weeks.

Tuesday - BLT's ... I may just make mine a club sandwich. Again, all around happy kids should be found here.

Wednesday - Hubby is back, and boy oh boy, he's getting Shepard's Pie. I froze most of it but kept a few pieces out for him.

Thursday - Mexican night. Not so sure if I want to do cheesy enchiladas or tacos. Probably enchiladas since I believe I've only got a package or two left of ground beef and want to save it for burgers

Friday - Night out with girls at Rocco Tacos. ::::Tequila::::: and tacos and fun! Don't worry, cabs for everyone, no one is driving. I think last count was about 10 of us confirmed ... woohoo!

Saturday - I'm quite certain that Hubby is looking forward to the baby back ribs that he had bought at Target Sunday. They had them priced at $2.29/lb which was pretty cheap compared to usual sales. He couldn't resist.

I had to resist the urge to throw in a pizza night but I know the kids were a little tired of pizza but they missed the stuff I made the other night (Friday, Tammy's Chicken Garlic Pizza, to die for!) ... and every night will have a small salad tossed in on the side.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pantry Challenge, Days 40, 41 and 42

Oh wow, This would be DAY 40! IF I had stuck with 100%. I've done well, I think, by most standards. A few things here and there. Kids are grumbling that there is no "good" food in the house. Not quite sure what their opinion of GOOD would be, but I think there's plenty of yummy stuff going around.

Day 40, Thursday. Breakfast for Sonny Boy, bagel and carnation ... surprised he ate as much as he did but he MUST go to school today. Princess would be fending for herself. I had an omelet, Hubby had the usual. Lunch for Sonny Boy, Nutella and PB sandwich, fruity things, veggie straws and a nutrigrain bar. As he's still sick, I'll be impressed if he eats ... tossed a Propel too. Hubby had a salad, and I loaded it up with cheese and turkey to give him some protein. I had the same with not so much meat and cheese. Dinner was the beef that I had tossed in the crockpot before I went to work, with a cup of water, seasoning and a can of fire roasted tomatoes. Wasn't expecting anything spectacular and wow what a surprise! Had some taters left over to cook up from over the weekend so that was a very nice surprise for Hubby when he came home from the gym.

Day 41, Friday. It's Friday! Sonny Boy made himself scrambled eggs and a bagel BEFORE he got on the road for his drive to Orlando. Princess, I'm quite certain, ran from the house with a glass of OJ in hand as she appeared to be running late when I left. I had a half of a bagel (and was starving all morning after that!) and Hubby had his usual. Lunch for Hubby was a salad (same for me) and he also got some beef on the side because he's special!  Dinner ... PIZZA. NO KIDS (princess had to work) Woohoo! Homemade. A friend came over so this was a real good test! Made Tammy's Recipes Garlic Chicken Pizza. DELICIOUS! Definitely going to post about this with my modifications (took a lot more flour) ... also served a small romaine lettuce salad option on the side with my favorite honey mustard dressing. All I can say is BIG HIT.

Day 42, Saturday. Breakfast. We slept in a little later than normal (imagine!) and I ended up making this Creamy Oatmeal (from Tammy's Recipes, yet again!) ... since it was late we just had a few snacks (pita chips, cheese sticks, you get the picture?) for our mid day food. I wanted to make chicken thighs and sesame noodles BUT hubby had other ideas. He wanted to make a Shepards Pie. Amazingly enough, I had EVERYTHING in house to do so. But it did wipe out the potato supply and I believe that's it for the ground beef too. When we started to layer it all up we realized that crumb, we should have used the rest of the crockpot beef instead of ground beef...it would have been soooo much better I think. Oh well, good still. I did make the cheesecake pie. So all in all, I think the past 3 days have been the MOST successful so far. Maybe I'm getting in the swing of things??

Anyone else still pursuing the Challenge??

*Hubby's been having some serious back issues again for the past 2 weeks and he's just trying to push though it ... but seriously, I think he needs to get to a back specialist soon. Uggg.

Freezer update into February

Wow, started this on February 1, 2011. That is amazing ... already half way into the 2nd month! It was hard the week Hubby was traveling so we (me and the kids) normally eat real simple, grilled cheese, pasta, etc. (umm, yes, popcorn).

Ok, here's what's been removed:
frozen pizza
handful of raspberries
handful of blueberries
OJ concentrate
3 pk of steaks (these are tiny, 100 calories each)
almost finished the one bag of  precooked chicken
3 lbs of ground beef
2 large roast
uncounted amount of cheese (just lots and lots)
brocolli
more HC fudge bars (almost done with first box finally)

And here's what's been added:

4 more frozen pizzas (I think I only have 2 left now)
2 roast (already taken out and eaten)
3 whole chickens (that have been quartered, which I removed the thighs and froze the legs and breast individually)

I'm very proud of myself as I didn't buy anything that required the freezers when I went to Costco!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day and Date Night

Hubby and I go way back to my old high school days. Ummm, that's been quite a long time.

For Valentine's Day, we've done everything. Limos. Roses. Dinners. Movies. Special Trips. And so on. But seriously, I think my favorites are right here at home. It's so much less expensive, and honestly, I find it more enjoyable, especially on these holiday weekends. Arg, the crowds!

I love my home for the most part. I've got a beautiful view off the back patio. We've got an awesome sound system FINALLY (still working on the various settings of volume with Hubby). AND this weekend (which is when we celebrate the Day) I will be childless, which is a dream come true.

Yes. No Kids to interrupt. Nothing for me to worry about. Well, providing that Sonny Boy gets to where he's driving to ok today (Orlando). And Princess gets to work and doesn't have any incidents.

So, what are we going to do you ask? Ummmm....we will make a dinner together, preferably EARLY on in the evening. A few adult beverages, preferably EARLY on in the evening.

I'm planning on the teriyaki chicken and sesame noodles UNLESS Hubby informs me of something else (no, there isn't a problem with communication in this house, WHY do you ask?) ... and I will break down and buy a key lime pie from Publix although, I may just go ahead and make this since the cool whip is on sale and I have LOTS of limes from the last Costco trip...

And then HOPEFULLY, go to bed EARLY ... and that should be enough said. Time to rekindle the romance folks.

*I need to get my red and pink construction paper out and start cutting hearts ...*

*NOTE: I need to get some spaghetti as we have NONE. I also need to use up the gift cards in my purse!*

Linking up over at Life as Mom's Frugal Fridays (my favorite link!) ... come on over and check it all out!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Hubby loves his chicken thighs. Most of the time prefers the boneless/skinless ones. I used to be able to buy them real cheap at Costco for about $1.29 but nowdays the price is almost as much as chicken breast so I haven't been buying the boneless ones.  As Winn Dixie has thighs and legs on sale this week for BOGO at $1.79/lb, figured I'd stop and buy a few packages and suggest Teriyaki Chicken Thighs and Sesame Noodles for our Valentine Date Night. (I'm realizing I need to learn how to debone a thigh).

I've posted this recipe a few times but now have a little tip. When baking in the oven like this, put the meat on a cooling rack (I have an OLD one that fits perfect in my large baking sheet) ... YES, they do make racks designed for this but seriously, I priced one at $19.99. Ummm, no thanks, I'll make do with what I have!

Here's what you need:

1/4 cup soy sauce (I use my favorite SOYA SAUCE)
3 tbs brown sugar
4 tbs sherry
4 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tsp grated ginger (or the stuff in the tube)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 lbs of thighs
2 tsp sesame seeds

Combine first 7 ingredients and mix til sugar is dissolved. Pour into ziploc (or large tupperware dish), add chicken and turn, toss to coat. Marinate 1 to 4 hours. WE bake til almost done and then finish it off on the grill normally, but now that I'm doing this rack thing, the chicken gets nice and crispy in the oven, so I may just make my life so much easier. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds prior to serving. Serve with Sesame Noodles and you are good to go!

Linking up with Jess over at Life as Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap ... as Sonny Boy will be in Orlando and Princess will be working, this is definately a dinner for me and my Sweetheart :)

Pantry Challenge, Days 37, 38 and 39

Uh huh, still plugging away and really need to crack down ... there is still NO room in the freezers ...

Day 37, MONDAY. The Monday after superbowl, which is probably a good thing for me ... breakfast for Sonny Boy was a bagel, scrambled eggs and yes, bacon (from Costco), Princess chose not to eat, so I had her breakfast sandwich and Hubby had Special K (with Berries!) ... lunch for the kids was the same old stuff as it's been for the past 36 days during the week, I had some of the leftover salad with dressing as did Hubby ... I'm hoping the black beans gave us some good protein because I realized as I was eating it that Hubby would have had NO protein so to speak. My snack before leaving the office was a protein bar & muscle milk light to give me a boost of energy for the workout. Dinner was chicken that was cooked on Friday and the remainder of the double baked taters and a green salad with some honey mustard dressing.

Day 38, Tuesday - Breakfast was the same except I ate the scrambled eggs this morning, no one else did. Lunch for Hubby and I was a green salad with more corn and black beans and I also tossed in a few leftover pieces of chicken on the side for hubby. Sonny Boy was home sick and princess was off today, so they fended for themselves. Dinner for Hubby and I was rice and more black bean soup. Sonny Boy made a small bowl of pasta and some tomato soup. His tonsils are huge. Will be taking him to Dr Wednesday morning. Princess was being a brat and I have no idea what she scrounged up.

Day 39, Wednesday - Sonny Boy skipped breakfast, well, he had Carnation Breakfast. Princess had OJ, protein bar and clementine. I had clementine and a piece of toast with bacon (don't ask). Hubby had his usual (Special K with BERRIES!). Lunch for Hubby and I was salad with turkey and cheese diced up. Kids on own, yet again, both home at lunch time and evidence pointed to ramen soup and tomato soup (and I could probably tell you who was what). Dinner was quesidiallas for the kids (Princess was boycotting so she made dinner for her and Bubba) while Hubby and I had salads with the remainder (I HOPE) of the chicken.

Trips to the grocery store? NONE. Uh uh. Not once in the past 4 days have I stepped into a store! Woohoo ... Kitties have food and litter (and water, of course!) and we are set to go for another few days. Of course, I did pay for Dr. ($30), Princess eye Dr. ($45) and scripts of $2.50 and $34. AND Publix has a deal right now, buy a $50 AE card and get $10 off. Of course, there is a $4.95 fee BUT you still are ahead $5.05 on the card. Will probably be buying some to stock up on.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A letter to the Family

Dear Family:

This household, of late, has been a depressing state.

Yes, we are ALL tired. None of us have enough time in the day to do ALL the things we want.

I know it's not FAIR, but LIFE is NOT fair. I never said it was, did I?

Without pointing fingers at anyone, but YOU do know who I'm talking to:

Please forgo slamming any and all doors. This means bedrooms, bathrooms, front door, sliding doors, refrigerator doors and cabinet doors. Trust me, we all get that you are unhappy.

Please stop mumbling under your breath. You and I both know that I'm hard of hearing so when I hear an even worse mumble than normal, the hairs on my arm stand up and make me defensive.

If you have a bone to pick with someone else in this house, please take it up directly with them and leave ME out of it. Somehow I'm not quite sure when, everyone came to the conclusion that I am the complaint department. Sorry. That department never existed and you really should make a mental note of such.

Do not scold ME for any shortcomings you might feel I or you have Sorry. Done the best I could and this is it.

I will no longer tolerate any disrespect from any one in this house. If you are unhappy with the laundry situation, do something about. Same with food, cleanliness, etc. Do NOT delegate it to someone else, if YOU have an issue, take care of it.

The cats do not belong to ME. Therefore, everyone can pitch in and help with cleaning up after them. Same for yourselves. Simple.

My day starts at 5:15am and ends at approximately 10pm. Yes, I know that you have LONG days too. However, your attitude, or lack of, is affecting MY attitude in a negative way. I will no longer deal with such negative moods. I will simply remove myself from such which in the end will result in much less being done around here.

As everyone in this household is now of legal, adult age, it is time to start acting as an adult. I'm hoping that we can all come to a mutual understanding and agree to be a much more happier household.

Love Mom.

Sesame Noodles

Seems everywhere I look lately there is a sesame noodle recipe out there! So what the heck, here's mine. Hubby loves this stuff and was actually asking me the other day why I haven't made it lately. Ummm, the last time was a BBQ holiday, probably Labor Day? Whoa....time to make it soon.

It's a really easy and fast recipe to throw together and everything can be done while the noodles cook. I've modified the heck out of it to use what I had on hand the first time I made it, and well, it was good so I stayed with it!

1 lb thin pasta (angel hair, thin, or just plain ole spaghetti will work)
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use my JCS Soya Sauce, it's nice and thick, not thin and runny)
2 tbs sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs chopped cilantro (optional, my Hubby hates cilantro)
1 tbs ginger root, can use powdered stuff (or the tube refrigerated stuff, which is what I use)
1 tsp hot chili oil ( I never have this on hand so I use crushed red pepper flakes or the stuff in tube if I have)
1 cup green onions (less is better, very strong flavor if a full cup is used)
1 cup snow peas
small handful of sesame seeds toasted in a skillet (optional)
handful of thin sliced red peppers (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse in cold water to cool down. In LARGE bowl, mix remaining ingredients except the onions, snow peas AND red pepper if using. Put pasta in bowl and toss to coat evenly. Add onions, snow peas and pepper stir gently and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Chill well before serving.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rabbit Food, Leaves, or just Salad

We eat lots and lots of salads around here. Daily pretty much. Sonny Boy prefers straight Romaine as he says anything else resembles the stuff that you feed rabbits. Princess prefers Romaine as she doesn't like the purple stuff (still not sure if she means cabbage, radichio or red leaf lettuce?)

So generally, it's nothing fancy. Just romaine lettuce, slices of sweet peppers, carrots, mushrooms, a handful of almonds, walnuts, or pecans. Pretty much a little of this and a little of that. If I've got spinach, or spring mix, thats added to for a little variety. Diced tomatoes are nice. Try adding some corn or black beans for a real nice change!

And then the dressing. I started to make dressing from scratch, gleaning recipes from here and there and just about everywhere on blogsphere. And now I'm hooked. I have a very difficult time stomaching bottled stuff. Hubby still uses the store bought stuff, but not me. Uh uh.

So here is how I do it to make my life much easier and to make it work for me ...

On Sunday, sometimes 5am on Monday, I wash my romaine lettuce (bought at Costco, for a lot less money and a much better product, of course), and spin it dry. Then I tear in to large pieces and toss in my huge snapware container. I place a piece of papertowel on top, snap on the lid, turn it upside down and toss in the fridge.

If I've got them, I slice up some sweet peppers and any other type of things I might have on hand. I do NOT mix my salads beforehand. I keep everything separate. Diced tomatoes in a small container. Sliced peppers in a small containers. Fresh herbs (ohhh...nothing better than some chopped cilantro ... yummm) in a small container. So you get the picture, right?

Everything is put in the guest or garage fridge, only because they are opened less and I don't know, but I think they stay cooler and preserve the produce longer (yes, it's probably NOT true, but I still do it).

Then, when I'm packing our lunches, I take the romaine lettuce and throw in a bowl (tupperware), and then tear into smaller, more bite size (this will reduce the icky brown edges lettuce can get!), top with the toppings (peppers, tomatoes, etc.) and fresh herbs and nuts. Snap a lid on that. Pour dressing into a small container (hubby just has a whole bottle at work so this is for ME), add a fork, and we are good for lunch.

If you are feeling adventurous, add some black beans and corn. Sometimes I add chopped lunchmeat (turkey or ham) with cheese but most often not. Same with cooked chicken or steak (ummmm, I LOVE leftover steak in my salad!) Hard boiled eggs are a pretty good addition too (I prefer mine to be diced but some like sliced)

Here are a few of my all time favorite dressings (remember, homemade dressing is typically thinner than bottled stuff) ...

Honey Mustard
Olive-y Garden-ish Italian
Cilantro-Lime (dressing follows after salad recipe, and I made it this weekend and it's a keeper for ME!)
Vinagrette (having a hard time locating, but its oil and vinegar with a little mustard and then herbs and mixed well)
Evil Jungle

*My girlfriend brought me a gallon size ziploc of fresh romaine from her brothers garden last week. It's prompting me to go look in to growing lettuce AGAIN, only in a much smaller area so I don't get overwhelmed*

Linking up with We Are That Family (I always laugh at the name!) Works For Me Wednesday ... hop on over and check out everyone else's tips!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week 6 of the Pantry Challenge

Yes, I AM STILL DOING THE PANTRY CHALLENGE. But geesh, maybe I should change the rules a little? Like, stay out of the stores. Send kids to get milk and bread. Make do with what I have (cheese anyone?) and so on. I've not done any stocking up with the exception of coffee, and maybe cheese. Oh maybe a few other things, but seriously, well, ok, there were a few things that I picked up at Costco but still ... I stand by that I'm NOT shopping as I normally would.

So let's see what we can do this week after last weeks miserable failure ... popcorn for dinner is probably not the most nutritional option, but I figure it's better than a bag of doritos! So this time, I'm going to plan a little more accordingly for the late nights home from the gym ... and luckily, most of the stuff is pretty much made and ready to go (NO, it's NOT leftovers)

Monday  - Chicken thighs with double baked taters (microwave reheat)

Tuesday - Chicken stir fry of sorts, I have a bag of stir fry veggies in the freezer, plenty of chicken in the fridge/freezer and an awesome thai dressing that I can change up a little more towards chinese style

Wednesday - Brats and/or Dogs with taters and onions (grilled)

Thursday -  Black bean soup and rice

Friday - I'm thinking along the lines of some burgers and fried food

Saturday - As I beleive my g/f is looking to celebrate her 50th this night with a girls night out, I may just leave Hubby on his own :)

Sunday - Pizza, homemade.

Looking for some ideas or just curious what others are eating? Hop on over to Organizing Junkie and like up with the 100's of others!

Pantry Challenge, Days 34, 35, 36 and what the heck, 37

It's not that I don't have any food in the house, I'm just lacking the desire to create anything!

Day 34 (Thursday), breakfast for Sonny Boy was a bagel with cream cheese and banana. Princess (?) was asleep. I had a banana, cheese stick and yogurt with some frozen raspberries and blueberries mixed in. Lunch for me was salad with more steak (had to make more Evil Jungle Salad dressing and I will be posting that shortly!), and a clementine for my snack. Sonny Boy got out early, so hoping that he makes something. Princess would be at school so hopefully she made something too! Dinner plans are so out of whack its not even funny! I mean seriously, I was just looking at the menu plan and the ONLY thing we've done of the 4 days is CANNED SOUP! Ack. Then I got sidetracked browsing the internet and ended up making double baked taters (which made the animals very happy and me too!)

Day 35 (Friday, it's Friday!). Breakfast for Princess (crabby patty) was a egg and bacon bit sandwich (no bacon left!), I had cheese stick, banana and clementine, sonny boy was on own upon waking up. I had a salad for lunch, Princess packed a bag full of snacks and Sonny Boy? Well, he was probably just rolling out of bed. Dinner was chicken. A whole chicken that was cut in half. And marinated in Mojo. And then baked and finished on the grill. And wow, it was pretty good!

Day 36 (Saturday) ... breakfast was fend for yourself which 3 of 4 ate a bagel. I had scrambled eggs. Lunch, again, fend for self, Hubby had leftovers and I had nachos. Hehe. Kids, no clue. Then I had drama with Sonny Boy, which derailed my thought process for dinner. We had an old friend coming over that was in town for the weekend so I grabbed the remaining 3 chickens (whole, cut in half, that I SHOULD have already sliced and diced, bagged and froze), cut them all up (never wield a knife during an emotional moment, one too many close calls), and settled on chicken thighs with taters and onions. I'm very glad that Donna came over ... it was great to sit on the patio and talk about old times, new times, and our kids. Sometimes comparing parenting stories with those from a totally different lifestyle then your own makes you realize that parenting is pretty much the same no matter which side of the fence you sit.
Day 37 (Sunday) ... Breakfast for me...uh, german chocolate cake leftover from Saturday evening. Yes, I admit it. Kids and Hubby, on their own. Same with lunch, although really,  Hubby and I were both busy making stuff for late afternoon, early evening for the game. We opted to just do it for us, no friends or outside influence. So I made a layered salad with the dressing. And I got out the super duper dogs. Hubby did Brats and sauerkraut with onions. He also made a stellar black bean soup (nothing like mine) with andoulle sausage and jambalaya rice. Whoowee ... definitely made up for the lack of breakfast! Congratulations to Green Bay!

And how is everyone else doing??

Costco Trip

Yes, I am still on the pantry challenge and YES I did go to Costco. Ummm, spent a little more than I wanted (as always) but nothing like the last time!  I also got gas, $70 worth that filled up the tank.

I had my list in hand and did not deviate too far from it. Actually put back a few things that didn't come across as a great deal or that I didn't think I had to have at that very moment. I'm thinking (hoping) that this should be sufficient for the month in any major shopping, took care of the kids for the snacks and such for school, protein stuff for the workouts, veggies, and then some basic health and beauty items (do you see any fluff stuff in here??)

3 dozen large eggs, $3.99
Pita chips $5.69
Veggie Straws $4.99
sea salt $3.79
half & half x2 $1.59 each
nutringrain bars $10.99
electrosol $9.99 less $3.25
bag of lemons $6.99
bag of limes $6.99
24 pk propel $9.99 less $2
2 gallons 2% milk $2.39 each
gallon skim milk $2.29
5 lbs tomatoes $6.99
pantene conditioner x2 $7.99 less $2 each
honey roasted turkey lunchmeat $7.35
3 pk gold bond lotion $13.99 less $3
4 lbs bacon $9.99
24 pk of assorted nuts $12.99
qt heavy cream $2.95
18 pk protein bars $17.69
jelly belly jelly beans $15.99 less $4
6 pk romaine lettuce $3.79
5 pk shave cream $8.49
string cheese (can't remember how large but big) $8.79
4 pk cheese slices $7.49

I upgraded my card as they said I would have gotten $70 back so far ... so I said sure, $25 is what they charged me ... I feel like I was sucked in ...

Some of the stuff is not that great of a deal, shaving cream, nuts, etc. but it's a matter of quality and convenience.

Now back to the Pantry Challenge.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Southwestern Layered Salad

This original recipe comes from my 2001 Southern Living Annual Cookbook. I've made it with and without the dressing, and actually prefer it with a light ranch or blue cheese dressing:

16 oz or so of romaine lettuce, shredded
5 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of corn, rinse and drained
1 small purple onion, chopped
8 oz package mexican blend cheese, finely grated (I just use whatever I have on hand!)
2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Layer ingredients as listed above. Just before serving, top with dressing and toss gently.

The dessing is as follows (I've only made it once or twice as Hubby hates cilantro)

1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Process all in food processor, blender OR use your immersion blender til smooth, stopping to scrape sides as needed.

Linking up with Jen over at Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday! Check it out!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cheese deal in case you haven't seen it

IF you have a Target with a refrigerator/dairy section, you need to go shop!

They currently have Kraft cheese (shredded and block) on sale for $2 each. Go to the target site and print off the coupon for $1.25 off 2.  AND if you were lucky to see the $1 off any Kraft cheese in the Albertons sale paper, you have an even better deal!

Anyways, I bought 6 bags of cheddar cheese, use 3 $1.25 off and 2 $1 off for a total of $5.75 off a $12 purchase. That gave me cheese for about $1.25 a package. Best deal I've seen in quite a while.

Yes, I AM on a Pantry Challenge ... I didn't say I wouldn't buy any SUPER deals on stuff that we use all the time ... just for the record, I believe I WAS out of cheddar!

The Dangers of Browsing

Food blogs, that is ... I was over here and there and then landed at Ezra Poundcake.  Ummm, like night and day, wouldn't you say?

Of course, it's like 6:30 or so, and I'm beat, my body aches (damn gym) and feeling lazy. But alas, I'm also feeling a twinge of guilt for the feeding of the animals this week since Hubby's been gone.

So, at 6:45, I scrub 4 large potatoes. Placed them on a baking dish, drizzled and then rubbed with olive oil, and gave a sprinkling of salt to them.

Placed in the oven on 425 degrees for one hour. Remembered after about 30 minutes to do the milk, sour cream and butter so it wouldn't be COLD. Cheese is NOT an issue.

Waited for the other 30 minutes to poke the taters and see how they were doing. As I waited, got a whiff of slightly burnt stuff, which then prompted me to dig around in the brain as to when the last time was I cleaned the oven. Hmmm...must have been a while as I don't recall. But the time is definitely here, I can "smell". :)

So yes, instead of my ambitious plans for tacos or whatever was on the menu plan for tonight, I made double stuffed taters. Once those babies are cool enough for me to cut in half and scoop, I will mash the innards with the milk/sourcream/butter mixture which should NOT be chilled any longer, add some cheese, restuff the babies, top off with more cheese and return to oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Sonny Boy keeps pacing back and forth, not quite sure if he smells taters or the burnt stuff.

Oh. You want a recipe? Here you go ... I'm sending you over to EP's site ... dig in and enjoy!

Pantry Challenge, days 31, 32 and 33

Oh boy, we are into February and I'm determined!!

Monday, Day 31 - Breakfast for Sonny Boy, Princess and Hubby was the yoplait smoothies I had picked up a few weeks ago along with bagel (SB), sandwich (Princess) and protein bar (Hubby since he was on way out the door). Lunch for the kids was the same old stuff with a clementine tossed in. I had my Evil Jungle salad (which really, just the dressing to top off a regular salad and steak!). I got waylaid at work and the kids ended up having themselves ANOTHER frozen pizza before they ran to the gym (WTH? Only skinny teens can do this) ... I had a bag of popcorn and a can of coke. Pretty pathetic but it was late and I was beat.

Tuesday - Day 32. Breakfast for the Boy was pancakes and scrambled eggs. Princess more than likely made herself a breakfast sandwich. I had yogurt and a clementine. Lunch for Sonny Boy was the same thing as the past 31 days :) Princess fended for herself and I had a large salad with the rest of the evil jungle dressing and more steak! Dinner was the plan from last night, grilled cheese and tomato soup (I had salad).

Wednesday - Day 33. Wow. Can I really continue? Of course I can! Amazing. Way too much stuff, yet I have to keep picking up bread and cat litter, and oh, look, a GREAT deal on chicken and roast! Doh. So here's what we had for breakfast today, kids, the usual, I had a bagel, egg and bacon (ready cooked) sandwich.  Lunch for the kids was the same as always (after 33 days, I'm tired of typing it, day in and day out!), I had a salad with some more steak that I cooked up (yes, at 6:30am on the Panini grill). Dinner was interesting ... Princess had to work (but I did see half a grapefruit in the fridge?), Sonny Boy had tomato soup (not feeling so hot) AND I had .... a banana and a cheese stick. Uh huh. I really did. I got home at 8:30 from the gym, was beat, hot, sweaty and just didn't want to eat.  Hubby is still out, can you tell? Hope he can fly out come Friday as Houston is suppose to be getting snow (!!!???)

Garlic and Cheese Herb Spread

I do buy the Rondele and other cheese spreads, but only when on a great sale. I still have some from the last time there was a great sale, but this is just one of those recipes that hangs inside the pantry door for a quick fix when entertaining (I can highly recommend using pretzel sticks to dip with!)

Garlic and Cheese Herb Spread

1 12 oz whipped cream cheese (yes, by all means, if you can, use less fat, fat free, etc!)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp plus
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp onion powder

Gently stir all ingredients together. Store in fridge for at least a couple of hours before serving. Stir before serving, with your favorite crackers.

Note: I've used an 8 oz block of cream cheese that I beat with handheld mixer and a few tsp of milk. Not as spreadable when cold though, so you may need to let it sit out for a bit before serving.

Fresh garlic is best, but can use garlic powder. If using garlic salt, which I do NOT recommend, eliminate the salt.
 
Linking up to Life As Mom and Ultimate Recipe Swap (Super Bowl edition!)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Sunday is the big day ... the day that you wait for all year, and in my case, just to see the commercials!

Since the Bears or the Colts aren't in this year, we won't be hosting a party or anything (that I'm aware of, it could change on a moments notice around here), I will just be making simple stuff. But in years past, we've made lots and lots of stuff, either to take elsewhere or HERE.

So in linking up with Life as Mom for her Ultimate Recipe Swap, I give you .....

Buffalo Chicken Dip ... crockpot style! Um, it's pathetic when you see someone scrapping the sides and bottom to finish it up, but that is a sign that it's a winner! This is also going to be excellent as I have EVERYTHING in the Pantry and will, it is still Pantry Challeng'ing' around here!

Package of cream cheese, softened (8 oz) ... I try to use light, less fat or fat free :)
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing (or just use 1/2 cup of either or dressing)
1/2 cup FRANKS hot sauce (um, we always have this stuff around)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (12 oz or so) of cooked chicken (yes, I think I have 10 can in my pantry), drained.

In crockpot (smaller size, but not the dippy size), stir in cream cheese until smooth. Add in dressing and cheese and hot sauce. Stir well. Finally, stir in the chicken.  Heat on high til warm and gooey :)

Serve with crackers, crusty bread or just a spoon!