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Thursday, March 31, 2011

This and That

I stopped at Publix last night to get more cheese before the sale ended and picked up a gallon of milk.

8 oz cheese $1.25 after coupons.
Gallon of milk? $3.75. Ummm, this is like 25 cents more than a week ago!! Not even a week ago. Wow.

Checked out gas prices this morning while waiting at a stop light. Regular, unleaded? $3.67. Premium on one corner was $3.87 and the other corner, $3.99. Thankful that I don't use the higher grade, although Hubby and Sonny Boy do.

Picked up 4 yoplait yogurts at Publix for $1 total after sale and coupon (almost made the milk purchase ok)

Picked up kitty treats for free with sale and coupons (party mix folks!)

Gold closed up $8.90 cents today. Geesh.

Oil closed up $2.38. Even bigger geesh.

Taking Sonny Boy out to dinner tonight and a show. Wicked. I'm so stinkin excited .... 19th row back, aisle seat .... sweeeeeetttttt.. :) And I can't believe he said he would go with me ... gave the Princess first dibs (she has to work) then him (and I had a whole list of other people to call) and he said YES!! I'm so excited, did I say that?? And I love my boss. He's giving me his tickets that he can't use. Excellent seats for an excellent show. He owns me for a little while now I suppose :)

It's also payday. Thankfully. Been a busy month and the paycheck reflects the hard work we've all put in this month. I am thankful for a job that I LOVE and one that can pay me for what I do AND for the wonderful bosses I have. Yes, I am most grateful.

My MIL surgery was a success so far. She is wiggling her toes :) That is great news (and I'm sure a relief for her) ... they did shorten her foot but I'm not quite sure what that means. Hubby should be arriving at the hospital about 5:30 or so eastern time .. I hope everyone is acceptably surprised (yes, it is a surprise).

And that's it for this Thursday afternoon update!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Life's Ups and Downs

This has been a somewhat sobering week for me.

My mother in law goes in for surgery this morning (hopefully she's being prepped as I type) for year long foot infection/contamination, etc. She has 3 choices: continue like this and likely die in 6 months, amputate her foot and leg below the knee, or opt for this surgery and see how it goes. She opted for the surgery but geesh, she's 73 years old and stubborn as a mule ... as Hubby is in Detroit Monday thru Thursday, he will fly in to Chicago in the afternoon and stay through the weekend. Had planned this all along before the big decision was made rather suddenly (uh, one week ago) for her to undergo the surgery.  And for those who really want to know just what is being done, go to that link above and look at the picture on the right. She will be wearing that for 16 weeks at least. But they say she can walk with it ... I don't know.

My neighbor, who I love dearly but have not seen much of lately (shame on me for not making the EXTRA effort) called me early in the morning before I left for work. She's been dealing with kidney stones and all for quite a while and was letting me know that they want to remove the one kidney. First they must ensure that the other is sufficient to carry on. :( Not a big deal in the sense that this happens more often than we think, however, she's no spring chicken either.

I still have NOT made the appointment with the Rheumatalogist. Just too much going on and I dread the outcome of that visit. Plus, really, it's not *earth shattering* in the sense that everyone else around me is dealing with potential life issues.

In other news? I believe I'm going to see Wicked tomorrow night. Have no idea who I'm taking with me as I failed to realize that it's the last day of the 1st quarter, so my first 2 choices for girlfriends is OUT. The kids? Princess may be working (need to call and see) and Sonny Boy, well, he may be dragged into it but I know it would be good for him to do it.  AND ... I'm going to Vegas for my birthday! *smooch* to Hubby for the nice surprise!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cleaning the showerhead

This is a repost from a while back because I need to remember to DO THIS this weekend (oh  how I wish I still had my Monday Morning To Do List linkup!)

Of course, linking up with Works For Me Wednesday ... hop on over!

Because I don't wash my hair daily, but do insist on showering daily :) I get really irritated at that stray stream of water that shoots out sideways from the showerhead.

A Martha tip ...

Fill a sandwich baggie with white vinegar (not full but just enough that the bottom of the head will be in the vinegar). Take a rubberband and fit it around the shower head, securely. Let it sit overnight or all the livelong day.

Before showering, REMEMBER to remove the bag (dump the vinegar down the drain) and use an old toothbrush to scrub a little if desired, just be careful not to get in your face/eyes, ok?  Turn on the shower and let the shower run a little before hopping under the water.

And if you are like me, you will be amazed and in awe that a simple little thing like this helps eliminate all that calcium buildup ...

Linking up with We Are That Family Works For Me Wednesday ... lots of other bloggers are linking up with their tips ... you should go check it out!

Welcoming Spring ...

Here in South Florida, we really don't have the four seasons, for the most part. BUT don't assume that doesn't mean we don't celebrate them!

It does get chilly in the winter, especially the past two years (ummm, there's been mornings were it's in the upper 30's at 5am on the coast, that's COLD for Florida!) but it seems that this year, our cold snaps just went up in smoke and in came the heat (89 degrees the past few days!)

So, with the rest of the nation welcoming spring with open arms (someone please tell the Midwest that Spring is here ... snow flurries anyone?) ... I give you:

Sangria ... or also known as: another way to use up that red wine...

1 bottle of dry red wine
1 cup oj
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
slices of orange and lime, lemons.

Pour all into large glass or plastic pitcher and stir til sugar dissolves. Chill up to 24 hours.

Serve over ice in tumblers with garnishes of orange and lime slices Add retro swizzle sticks for fun.

Linking up with Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday Parade! And then going to check out her site she refers to .... even though my gardening season is likely coming to an end!

*Please remember, even though this is fruity, it's still alcohol based and do NOT drink and drive!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - March is just about over!

Hubby is traveling this week and will not be back until Sunday evening so the week could be easy for me since it will be just me and Sonny Boy as I believe Princess is working every night. Not a single link or recipe posted. I could almost do this with my eyes closed!

Monday - Tacos. Taco meat from freezer and the fixings are all in the fridge and pantry!

Tuesday - Mac and cheese. This is the last of the freezer stash great sale I had picked up a while ago. I like it because I can nuke it for 15 minutes and dinner is served. I will have the leftover burgers and hot dogs if we so choose, but this is not a nutritional contest this week!

Wednesday - SURVIVOR NIGHT BLT - sandwiches ... along with some veggie fries (or just plain carrot sticks if the fries are gone by then)

Thursday the last day of March (OH MAN!) - I may be going to see Wicked (yeah!) courtesy of my boss (Thank you Thomas!) and it so, I will use my gift card for Cheesecake Factory ($50) that I've been carrying around with me forever. Who's going with me you ask? Not sure yet. Waiting to get the tickets in my had before I start inquiring. First choice is Princess of course, then Sonny Boy, then Fran, then Cathy, then Helen and the list goes on :) I don't think I'll have too many issues finding someone!

Dare I toss in Friday? NO. Hubby is still out, most likely having the neighborhood garage sale on Saturday and heck, lets just do pizza or something kids!

I'm not even going to put Saturday on the menu as I've not decided what I want to do. IF we have a garage sale probably will be too tired to do much. If not, may invite a few girlfriends over and just do a snacky type of thing with appetizers and finger foods (cheese and crackers along with some cheese spread, spinach dip, etc.) I do not figure there will be any kids around, but normally when I assume this, I get a houseful of teen boys playing music and causing Khaos ... (sorry, had to do it, even though they went through a name change recently!)

Linking up with Organzing Junkie and Menu Plan Monday ... 100's of other bloggers are doing the same thing, don't you think you should give it a try too?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Celebrating with Teens

I'm still not quite sure what we were "celebrating" but I had a house full of teens Saturday with a little advance notice (thankfully!)

The Rock Stars did a photo shoot at noon and were to be back in a few hours. Umm, teenspeak means we don't know how long that really is.

Regardless, I headed to Aldis early and wanted to stop at Walmart and GFS too ... but midway into the trip at Aldis, Hubby called that he needed me to stop at the auto store on the way home. Crumb. That meant he was at a standstill doing work on my truck. So I didn't do Walmart (jalapeno plant shopping, that's all, honestly) and rushed the Aldi trip (forgot coffee and a few other things, oh well).

Stopped at auto store and picked up what he needed and rushed through GFS and got 2 bags of precooked and seasoned buffalo chicken wings ($9.99 each, which think about it, cooked weight is 5 lbs for $2 a pound?!) and a 5 lb bag of oranges for $5.99.

Came home, gave Hubby his part to finish his work and set about cutting 4 oranges, 2 lbs of strawberries and cleaned the 2 lbs of green grapes from Aldis ($1.99).

Absolutely delicious and pretty much ravaged by the end of the day!  Also served up some Oscar Meyar Select Angus Franks ($2 each on sale with peelie coupon at Publix this week, almost as good as the current B1G1F deal) which I highly recommend as all natural, nitrate, nitrite free, no byproduct, etc. and burgers with chips and dip (sour cream and onion soup mix) guacamole and tomato stuff (tomatoes and jalapenos from garden). Still trying to pawn off the crappy Healthy Kids Honest juice that started up an interesting conversation about food ... rather impressive that these 17 and 18 year old kids from different backgrounds/families/upbringing are all conscientious about food choices and where food comes from (which brought up the icky discussion about hot dogs and by products *gag*) Of course, 4 of the 10 were guzzling coca cola :) but at least that has full disclosure on the can and does NOT try to come across as healthy!

If you look closely at the plate above, you will see that it's my prized fish serving dish that I got for $1 a few years back. It has a tiny chip on the fin and I figured it was no worse than anything else in my kitchen so I gladly paid the $1.  I didn't use it for the longest time for fear of *breaking* it ... but then realized that it's stupid to have stuff in the house that can't be used. So out it comes now ... and I always get comments on it (even from teens).

We ended up doing the wings that evening for OUR adult friends and the kids that were staying overnight.

All in all a good thing, as the fruit made a reappearance this morning for breakfast!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shopping at Target requires FOCUS

Ummm. Yeah. We all DO know that, right?

Uh huh.

Stopped to pick up some ink for the wireless printer. Out of black. Like, blank pages print, that's how out of black I was :)

So imagine my squeak when I saw that they had the had the ink for $13.89 AND if I bought TWO I would get a $5 gift card. SWEET MOMMA! I bought 4.

Then I also bought a LARGE curling iron (new haircut is just so hard to deal with) AND a set of LARGE regular rollers ... and (of course there's more!) a hand rake and hand shovel for gardening. Oh, about $80. Good lord. Focus Focus F. O. C. U. S.

*Had I been smarter, I would have done 2 orders and used the $10 gc towards the hair stuff, you know??

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blackened Chicken Sandwiches

I so love these and because most people have not been able to grill for a few months, I though I would share, yet again how Hubby does this ...

Boneless chicken breast, sliced thin (you can get cutlets if $ is not an option OR just slice the breast in half your self)
Lemon juice (if you don't have one of those handy dandy hand juicers, consider fitting it into your budget AND yes, it is ok to use the stuff in the bottle IF you don't have fresh)
Blackened fish season (we used to use the stuff that came in a tiny little bottle with the big chef guy on it but then I discovered that Badia make it in a LARGE bottle for about the same price, and it works just fine!)
Tomato slices
Shredded lettuce
mayo (the real deal please!)
toasted burger buns

Lay chicken out on a glass baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice so they are all coated. Then liberally sprinkle with the blackened seasoning. We cover our chicken completely only because we really like the flavor ...

Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Grill and cook til no longer pink (remember, they are thin so don't over cook them!)

Serve up with a light spread of mayo on one side of the bun.

Leftover chicken (IF you have any!) is great on a salad!

Linking up with FishMom over at Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap (spring version!)

*We've used this for grouper, tilapia and other fish too successfully!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Update on Doctor and Test

As you may have read over here, I was scheduled to go in and have an EMG done by the neurologist.

a.  Thankfully Dr. Locatelli was handsome and better yet, funny and kind.

b.  Thankfully he has a wonderful nurse on staff with him that I instantly connected with.

c.  I did not pay anything at the visit. Hopefully the bill won't be too shocking.

d.  I need to remember to shave my legs a little more often  *grin*

e.  IF you are ever invited to have an EMG done for fun ... seriously, just say NO.

This was probably one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever gone through in MY WHOLE LIFE. Seriously. Crap.

Shock therapy. Needles and making muscles react with needles in place. Good lord. Have some mercy will ya!?

The shock part? Ummm, nothing, nothing NOTHING like static electricity folks. We are talking genuine currents going through your arm/hand/body. And it's not just once, but 3 to 4 times for EACH area. That's what makes it worse, knowing that the first current is not the only current ... after the 3rd set, I KNEW that there were 4 total for each round. Crap.

Messed up my makeup, that's all I can say.

And afterall that? 100% absolutely, with utter conviction, NOT carpal tunnel.

Next up? Rheumotologist. Lovely.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Doctors, test and insurance

You may remember back in December I finally took the plunge and went to get my annual (not so) female checkup. All that worry for nothing pretty much ... except I do still need to go get an ultrasound done as she believes I probably have fibroids (whatever that really means) ...

About a month ago, I made an urgent request to get into my regular doctor for my hands. We already know (diagnosed) that I have arthritis in the one finger (now obviously 2) and just sort of assumed (I did) that I had arthritis of my thumb and possibly the wrist. This is what happens when you self diagnosis. ;)

So one Monday, both hands hurt so bad, tears in my eyes, seriously, just weepy and holding my hands out on my desk in an awkward position to try and relieve the pain. Got in the next day. First thing first, how swollen the palms were by the thumb. 2nd thing, how swollen my hands were in generally. 3rd thing, carpal tunnel likely. NO. That can't be. I don't have the symptoms for that. I do NOT have pain in my arms, and isnt' that one of the most common symptoms?

So we did blood work. $2300 worth according to my ECB's. Whoa nelly. That was a little excessive, don't you think? But the insurance covered most of it, I think there was like $99 out there that wasn't paid, and surprisingly, have not gotten a bill yet (may have just jinxed myself, huh?).

A few weeks ago I went back to get the results. Only thing that comes back? Inflammatory test all test positive which means something is going on inside somewhere. Huh. So then there is a script to go see a Neurologist to do an EMG (uh, yeah, go google that for me will ya?) and a script to go see a Rheumatologist. Since I'm an ultra conservative medical kind of girl, I waited 2 weeks to make the appointment for the EMG.

Well, today's the day. I go in at 3:45 and should expect to be there for an hour or so for the test.  I plan on waiting for the results of the EMG to go back to my primary doctor, go see her and then from there decide if I need to see the Rhematologist.

In the meantime, I've slept, occasionally with these ugly wrist support things (that I apparently mess with the velcro straps during the night according to Hubby's grumpy comment about waking him up) and take 4 Aleve a day. Ick. AND it's not working. The pain is still there, and worse some days than others. Seriously. I do not know HOW it can be CTS as typing is not necessarily WHAT aggravates it. Somedays I wake up with it, other days I don't. Laundry, washing dishes, driving, opening doors, bottles, jars, that's what makes it TWANG and lock up like a big ole charlie horse.

But my finger tips are numbish, and my typing is not like it used to be and I suppose its because they are a little numb (can't remember the medical word, begins with a p?) ... and my hands are just clumsy anymore (I used to have such long, beautiful, graceful looking hands, it breaks my heart to look at them.)

Oh ... and today also, this morning, at 8:30am? Hubby goes in for an MRI for his back. They believe it's a degenerative disc issue. Lovely. The insurance company is going to L. O. V. E. us!  I'm starting to believe that yes, all those years of paying into the insurance and never using it is finally coming around.

Making do with whats on hand

Hubby has put a temporary ban on me shopping for a few weeks. Woohoo...what a nice guy! It all started when he was trying to find breakfast sausage in the freezers ... and stuff was falling all over him as he *dug* around.

Geesh. Should of just asked me and I would have told you there wasn't any :)

So he went to the grocery store to pick up something he wanted to go with the Saturday dinner he was making (spinach stuffed chicken breast and he LOVES his tuna or bleu cheese stuffed olives as an appetizer). So I just *assummed* that he knew there wasn't any beer in the fridge. Doh. He didn't. Which of course, we still have no beer in the fridge.

Which put me in a pickle. :) Because I didn't know what I wanted for adult beverages that evening. Ummm....hmmm...

HEY. Hold them lemon halves honey!

In a large mason jar, I put the 2 Costco size lemons (after being juiced for the chicken) in the jar, and topped with vodka (Titos, of course). Put the lid on and shook it up. Took a picture:

Then stuffed in the pantry and thought to go google how to make infused vodka.

Ummmm...technically, I should have started this sooner. Like at least a week ago!

That's ok. I'll just add some crystal light lemonade to the glass when I drink it!

So what do you do to make do?

 *I went ahead and left the lemons and vodka in the pantry ... am shaking the jar daily for about 20 seconds and wll give it a taste test come Friday or Saturday. If this works, I will so be putting pineapple on my next grocery trip (when I'm allowed to go) ... It should also be noted that every stinkin website said to start with CHEAP vodka - some even say to distill myself with Brita filter but dang it, I read that too late, glad I didn't use the Belvedere stuff!!! I ended up having margaritas with the limeade and patron.

Menu Plan Monday (real life version!)

Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a day late ... but hey, better late than never!

Remember, over here I did the remainder of the month? Well, of course, things N. E. V. E. R. go as planned ...

Sunday  Beef brisket in the crockpot with baked taters
Monday  Pasta with red sauce and bread sticks (whack a can works for me and sauce was in freezer)
Tuesday Chicken and rice bowls (made chicken from this and will make rice and top with fresh herbs and corn, blackbeans, a little sour cream and cheddar cheese)
Wednesday SURVIVOR NIGHT  Quesidillas (leftover chicken)
Thursday Chicken Cesar Salad
Friday  Asian style thighs but using the Drumstick recipe with jasmine rice
Saturday  Picadillo with black beans and rice

Of course, if you are really stuck, hop on over to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday link up ... 100's of others are sharing their recipes and menu plans ... amazing!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Easy way to feed the Animals (and us)

It's been a busy week and I'm so thankful that I made it to the weekend at last!  But of course, the weekend means work too, just a different sort.

With Hubby doing stuff outside (building a new pool pump, redoing the sprinklers, etc.) and Sonny Boy and the group having a gig and ME cleaning and doing laundry and all the usual weekend chores, I figured this would be the time to pull out the sandwich bar set up.

As summer approaches and through summer, this will be a common scene on the countertop in the kitchen during the week and weekends.

There is cheddar cheese slices, provolone cheese slices, smoked turkey breast, sliced pepperoni, shredded lettuce, sliced red onions, bacon bits, sliced pepperoncinis, and sliced sweet peppers. If I have them on hand and/or feel like it, I'll toss out some olives, pickles, tomatoes and more ... but today I was in a bit of a rush. I also make a  concoction of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, crushed dried oregano and a sprinkle of garlic powder to make a oil and vinaigrette sub dressing ... not sure if you can see the bread in the upper left hand side but it's a cheapo style hoagie roll I picked up at the store the other night on clearance. You want a sturdy bread, not squishy white sandwich bread! All the stuff was on hand as I keep lunchmeat in the freezer (just pat between some papertowel or towels to remove excess moisture) and we are the cheese family!

When every one is done feasting, I package it all up and put in the garage fridge for the next day.

Seriously, consider doing this if you have people coming and going. Come Monday morning, what's leftover will be turned into salads for Hubby and I for lunches.

Linking up to Frugal Friday's with Life As Mom ... you should go check it out ... lots of other tips on ways to save a little extra cash!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Running wild in the kitchen with scissors

Why is that one word that I always have problems with spelling? It's a no-brainer but regardless .... S. C. I. S. S. O. R. S. Scissors.

I have 5 scissors in my kitchen drawer at the moment. One is for cutting coupons (or any other type of paper).

And the other 4? Those are used for cutting food stuff, of course!

Uh huh. I take the lazy way out ...

Herbs needed to be chopped?


Chicken need cut up for salad?


Pizza need sliced?


Same with any kind of meat that's already been cooled off. Meat that is freshly cooked, I use a knife but now that I think about it, I ask myself WHY?

This works fairly well for hubby too as he's only got partial use of the one hand from the accident. Only problem with him as he wants big chunks which can cause a little stress on the scissors!

And remember, never run with scissors in hand! Or hand them over pointside out. Or leave them open in the drawer. Or drop them on your feet. Or lick them. Hmmm. Scissors CAN be dangerous, so like everything else in life, use with caution!

Next time you need to slice up some green onions or cilantro, parsley, basil or mint, grab a pair of scissors and see how much easier it is then using a knife and cutting board.  Same with meat. I find it so much easier to do it this way!

Linking up with Works For Me Wednesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesday (which is being hosted by Good Cheap Eats on behalf of Tammy ... both are great linkups for tips galore ... go check them out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Running List of Meals

In relation to my thoughts on going back to monthly menu planning and bi-weekly shopping, I've come up with the following quick ideas for dinners. Yeah, there aren't alot of side dishes and/or veggies listed, truthfully, those just aren't as important, I can always toss in some frozen veggies on the side!

1. BLT's
2. Quesidialla and black bean soup (a favorite - just had last night!)
3. Garlicky chicken and rice
4. pot roast (crockpot) with mashed taters and gravy
5. cuban pork and beans with rice
6. hot browns
7. taco soup
8. tacos and nachos
8 baked tater with works
9. spinach stuffed chicken breast
10. spaghetti and meatballs
11. chicken cesar pasta salad
12. chili cheese dogs with oven fries
13. burgers (sliders, whatever)
14. hot dogs (brats, sausage)
15. pizzas
16. pork chops and scallop taters
17. cubano sandwiches
18. pressed sandwiches (any kind) and pasta salad
19. baked tater soup
20. chili
21. grilled cheese and tomato soup
22. chicken stir fry
23. sausage and peppers
24. mac and cheese with smoked sausage
25. turkey with mashed taters and gravy
26. french onion soup
27. Macho Nachos (manly man food!)
28. wings and fries
29. grilled chicken
30. chicken parmsean
31. chicken picatta
32. chicken marsala
33. ramen shrimp packs
34. shrimp scampi
35. roast beef au jus
36. ropa vieja (with chicken)

And if I was smart"er" I would have grouped them together, such as baked tater bar and the next day or two would have been tater soup, or chili and then chili cheese dogs ... but this was suppose to be QUICK!

Amazing, I could probably make 95% of this stuff without a special trip to the store.

Linking up with We Are That Family Works for Me Wednesday. If you haven't been over there, you should ... pretty great tips are to be found AND some interesting reads!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Magic of Chocolate

I have something like 10 to 15 bags of chocolate chips in the pantry (at least the last time I checked) ... and I can't remember the last time I made chocolate chip cookies ...

I have milk chocolate, regular chocolate, mini chips, andes mint chocolate chips and a few other oddballs ... and of course, they always get in the way when I grab the tub of flour or the bag of brown sugar.

So I've made an important life changing decision this evening. And it's all because of Sonny Boy, his friends, Pops Corn AND Moms Frugal.

Chocolate covered popcorn. Sonny Boy paid *gasp* $7 for a bag of chocolate covered popcorn (milk chocolate) ... yes, it was carmel corn I believe and then covered with melted milk chocolate. I CAN DO THAT!

Then Moms Frugal has this EASY PEASY recipe called Almond Chocolate Chunks.  Dare I list the ingredients? 2 bags of chocolate chips and 1 cup of almonds. Ummm, I have lots of almonds as no one eats the bags (they inhale the peanuts and cashews but snub the almonds) ...

Which leads me to: stale peanuts. How is it that I can have 4 cans of peanuts and each one has just a few (ok, more like 50) peanuts in each. Is it like the bottom of the coffee pot or something?? So, I think, maybe, I can do chocolate covered peanuts.

How about Chocolate covered craisins (have that HUGE bag in the pantry that no one will go sort of like chocolate covered raisins, wouldn't it?)

What else is there? I'm saying no to chocolate covered pretzels (no pretzels) and I know, I could always make chocolate chip cookies, but that would require use of my EXPENSIVE butter since I don't like to use shortening or margarine for that (plus, it would be way too time consuming!

Any other suggestions of what I can cover in chocolate that's hanging around in my pantry?

Linking up with Jen over at Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday should go check it out as today is to be the St. Patrick's Day edition ...wonder if I could get away with chocolate covered cabbage? *shudder* no thanks :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Remainder of March Menu Plan

Seriously, it's so much easier to just plan the majority of the month ahead of time. I don't know why I don't do it all the time :) Lazy? Who Me??

Anyways, starting on the 13th which is Sunday, here we go through the end of the month (and luckily, I know Hubby's travel plans in advance!) It should also be noted (of course!) that days don't necessarily mean ANYTHING except on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ... the Monday through Thursday can so easily change up or down....

AND Sunday (today) I precooked some peppers and onions along with chicken breast and italian sausage on the grill to be ahead of the game. Salads are made for hopefully 3 days at least ...

Sunday  Pasta with red sauce, tomatoes and mozzarella salad with garlic bread (baking french bread)
Monday  Chicken Cesar Wraps
Tuesday  Macaroni and cheese with kiabalsi (all in freezer)
Wednesday  SURVIVOR NIGHT BLT Pizza (as I need to share with Hubby and get some pics!)
Thursday it's St Pattys Day ... and Hubbys 9th anniversary of our life change (major motorcycle accident) and I'm leaning towards his favorite, sausage and peppers ... but will let him tell me what he wants
Friday  burgers on the grill with some roasted tater wedges
Saturday  Chicken stuffed with spinach and scalloped taters

Sunday  French onion soup and Italian Beef Sandwiches
Monday  Chili cheese dogs
Tuesday BBQ Chicken Fingers
Wednesday SURVIVOR NIGHT  Tacos
Thursday Chicken Cesar Salad
Friday  Asian style thighs but using the Drumstick recipe with jasmine rice
Saturday  Picadillo with black beans and rice

Sunday  Maybe out IF I've stuck with my menu plan the past 14 days! :) A reward? You betcha!

Not to mention, Hubby is out this week ... I believe he flies back in on Sunday later in the day so it's just me and the Boy since Princess will most likely be out every night at work til midnight or so ...

Monday  Burgers and potato wedges
Tuesday  Pasta for easy night
Wednesday SURVIVOR NIGHT BLT sandwiches ... along with some veggie fries (or just plain carrot sticks if the fries are gone by then)
Thursday the last day of March (OH MAN!) Again, for the Boy, grilled cheese sandwiches and canned tomato soup

Dare I toss in Friday? NO. Hubby is still out, most likely having the neighborhood garage sale on Saturday and heck, lets just do pizza or something kids!
Huh. That wasn't so very hard after all! Linking up with Organizing Junkie and the Menu Plan Monday groupies! Stuck for some new ideas? Check out all the other 300+ bloggers!

Weekend Grocery Shopping

Yeah, I know, didn't I just say something to the effect of no shopping except for milk & such? Oh well.

40 lb fresh step cat litter $9.79 (I realize NOW that my $2 coupon didn't come off!)
a gazllion rolls of tp $17.99
3 dozen large eggs $3.39
large pk of romaine lettuce (6 or 5 heads?) $3.99
2 lb bag mini sweet peppers $4.29 (price went up)
2 pkgs of 90 count red krill vitamins, $18.99 each less $5 each (this was a great deal)
2 twin pks of beef jerkey $11.99 each less $3 each
2 bags of this to die for cashew crunch $9.49 each
400 count aleve knockoff (I take 4 of these a day so...) $12.99
large bottle of canola oil $8.99
36 count welch fruity bites $9.99
large brisket $16.67
Ribeyes $28.52
Brita oceana pitcher $26.99 less $7
4 lbs butter $9.99
*Note, no milk ($2.99 now), half & half ($1.99 now) or cream (didn't even look) ... prices have gone up on most items I see.

Next stop was Penn Dutch Foods ...
Boneless pork loin $7.29
Italian Sausage $10.70
Cabbage 95 cents
Jar of Pepperoncinis $2.49
2 lb bag of mini sweet peppers $2.99
red onions (2) $95 cents
small head of radicchio $1.06
2 cantelopes $1.54 total
red bell peppers (2 large beautiful ones) $2.67
2 funky green peppers $1.55
*the sweet peppers are less than Costco AND they looked so much better.

And then ... to end it all:
Beijing Chinese:
wonton egg drop soup $3.85
pork fried rice $6.95
house special lo mein $9.50
beef chow mein $8.25
2 egg rolls (free)

Just keeping in real ... we were tired and it was 8pm already by the time we looked at each other and asked whats for dinner ... no kids, just me and Hubby and we had leftovers for lunch today and probably enough for 4 lunches total (2 each) ... so not so bad huh?

Busy Day

It's Sunday. And boy, have I been busy ...

3 loads of laundry, washed and dried, folded NOT put away.

1 load in dryer.

One large fluffy blanket to go in washer still (I think we are pretty much done with our COLD weather here!)

Vacuumed master bedroom, master bath, remainder of house (except the other 3 bedrooms and bath, the animals can do that!)

Red sauce is perking away, just about ready to turn off.

French bread is mixing and rising in the breadmaker.

Finished taxes and ready to be submitted, just need to hit SEND

Browsed through 3 (yes, THREE) magazines that all came yesterday, Food Network, Every Day with Rachel and Goodhousekeeping. Need to spend more leisure time to really browse :)

Still need to do:
cut carrots and celery
make salad for week
package sausages, brisket, chicken thighs, pork tenderloin for freezer.
Repackage chinese leftovers for lunches (stash in freezer)
Clean out MAIN fridge
Finish menu plan for month and print and post
Inventory garage freezer

Yes, it's already 1:40!! (really only 12:40 but that dang time change gets me everytime!)

So what have you done today with one hour less?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Aldi Brand Mayo

I'm usually pretty fair game when it comes to store brand/generic products ... for MOST things.

Certain things, as in laundry soap (TIDE), dish soap (DAWN) and a few other things (shampoo and conditioner) I've got to have the real deal.

If you shop at Aldis, you know that 98% of the stuff is their brand. Once in a while you can come across a name brand but not too often. I've been pleased for the most part with the quality/taste and such. (Inquire about the Happy Cow dairy products with anyone in my family).

Except for the mayo.

I'm a Hellman's girl. Uh huh. I just never realized it until yesterday when I made an egg salad sandwich. Blech.

I would compare the Aldi brand mayo (Fit N Active Light) more to Kraft mayo, even perhaps ::gasp:: MIRACLE WHIP (who eats that stuff??) It's tangy. Lemony. Funky fluffy airy creamy odd stuff.

So, adding to my list of non-generic acceptable items: Mayo.

Has anyone else out there found a storebrand that's NOT all that and more?

Friday, March 11, 2011

When enough really is enough

Jessica over at Life as Mom is hosting her usual Frugal Friday linkup ... and today's theme is really an important one that I need to bring back to the homefront.

Settle for Less....

Much easier said then done, trust me.

Here's an example for ME:

My closet and dresser. Overflowing with clothes, shoes, STUFF (which we know the other word for stuff, right? Junk. Or S*it even). Anyways. I have lots and lots of clothes. Just a note: I only own 2 belts. Huh. In my dresser, my tshirt drawer, I could barely close it, let alone keep the tshirts neatly folded. I finally just broke down and went through each and every shirt. Haven't worn it in awhile (oh, I forgot I had that!), it went in the pile for yardsale/goodwill. Stained, waaaay too small (lots of them fell into that category, unfortunately) went in the pile too.

Same with my closet. Sort of. My closet holds the majority of my work clothes. My law firm employers are pretty laid back and do not require that I DRESS the legal blonde style, but I do have some nicer office attire. Again, however, some of these things are just way too small but I'm having a difficult time in getting rid of them. Afterall, that is the cutest little skirt, chatty gave it to me. Oh and this blouse, it's so pretty (even if it gaps open because of the extra fat). And these shoes. Oh they are soo cool. I can remember when I bought them (even though they are the most uncomfortable things in the world).

So yeah. Enough, really is enough.

It's time to purge and be ruthless about it. To just say no. I do NOT need 5 black skirts of various sizes and lengths, do I? NO.

Fortunately, most of the clothes in the closet have either been purchased at Thrifts OR given to me for free. Its just a shame that I let so much stuff come in without really utilizing it ... not very well thought out afterall ... so time to clear it out ... and NO, not start over again...because, really, Enough is Enough. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Italian Beef - Crockpot!

Jessica over at Life As Mom is hosting a Ultimate Recipe Swap and today's theme is based on CROCKPOTS.

I love my crockpots! I've got 3 plus 2 minis. Ummm, I should use them a little more, but the big one (newest) gets real hot and yes, can you believe it, actually overcooks stuff when I'm at the office all day long. :( Not a good thing, huh?

Anyways, there are sooooo many things to do with a crockpot. First and foremost would be soups and sauces. Pasta sauce and such. Then you have the fact that you can bake your taters in the crockpot (haven't tried that yet) ... and then you have the excellent site at Gotta love that!

Ok, I suppose my go to, always there when I need it crockpot recipe is Italian Beef. Spicy baby. And easy peasy!

3 lbs or so of beef roast, sirloin, whatever you have on hand (never have used ground beef though)
small jar of pepperoncinis (save yourself some work and get the sliced ones - you can find these by the pickles - drain if a bit of you don't like it hot or all)
1/2 cup or so of beef broth (or you can use water and beef bouillon or cube)
about a tsp of chopped garlic
a tsp of oregano
a tsp of black pepper

So, dump all in the crock. Yup. Just like that.

This is soooo going on the menu plan for March!
Fire up the crockpot and leave to do your fun stuff for the day.

Come home, turn off crock, remove beef, shred, and put back in crock.

Serve as sandwiches (toasted italian bread with a slice of provolone is my FAVORITE) and perhaps a cooling pasta salad along side.

Bow to the family as they rave about the delicious meal you created yet again!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BLT Pizzas - California Kitchen like

My kids love this stuff. Ummmm. I suppose I should clarify and say that the MINI-ADULTS like this stuff when they go to California Kitchen Pizza joint/place.

I also keep forgetting that they aren't really considered kids any longer at 18 and 20. AND I keep forgetting it's no longer my responsibility to make sure they are clothed (appropriately) and fed ... some habits are so hard to get over :)

So. Anyways. Because I HAD to feed them, and because I'm still trying to maintain my Mom Of The Year status for a little longer, I made it.

For the dough, I used the basic recipe from Tammys Recipes for her Papa Murphys pizza. (If you haven't checked out her site, you really should, there are some stellar recipes there and every single one I've tried has been spot on.

In my bread maker, I added
1 cup warm water (115 degrees)

Then in a bowl, I mixed:
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour

Poured that in with the water, and then topped with
1 pkg active dry yeast

Turn on the machine to dough cycle. Important that you don't leave ... once its done mixing and kneading, you are going to turn off the machine, it's not going to go through the rise cycle, ok? :)

With buttery buttery hands, spread the dough out on a well greased baking sheet/pizza pan. Seriously, the more grease/butter on your hands, the better ... its a fairly soft, mushy, sticky dough.

In a measuring glass, measure out 1 cup of ranch dressing, add a clove or so of finely diced garlic. Mix well.

Spread the ranch over the dough (yummm). Sprinkle bacon (in my case, bacon bits since I have the Costco size bag of real bacon bits) and then top with some mozz. cheese and then sprinkle with small diced tomatoes. At this point you can add more cheese if you want (perhaps cheddar next time).

Bake this at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. After you remove, top the pizza with shredded lettuce  .... and there you go, BLT Pizzas!

*Next time I think I'll leave a little of the ranch to drizzle over after adding the lettuce to make it "stick" more ... but other wise, delicious ... and sorry, no pics!

Where did all the dollars go?

I started the month off with a big wad of cash in my wallet. And that wad is now hardly even called a short stack.


Over here, I noted that I've tried to ditch all the plastic. Using cash and cash only. The exception is for gas for Brutis (which Sonny Boy drives) and the Tahoe (which I drive), we use the American Express once a week to fill them up. Uggg. Just easier for me. I am NOT looking forward to doing so this morning, that's for sure, $3.89 for regular unleaded. Come on. Give me a break (but HEY, the economy is rebounding and the Little Guy is BACK according to the paid well talking heads!)

For a while there, I tried to use cash and the American Express. But the problem with that was that I'd run out of cash and then bring out the American Express. THEN when the American Express bill came, I'd be like "holey moley", where did all that come from?

So back to the first line.  I am seriously looking at the wallet and shaking my head.

$5 here.
$100 there.
$25 here.
$12 there.

Well...that adds up to ALMOST what I'm missing. Crumb. Just goes to show you, keep an eagle eye on them bills ... they do add up real quickly. Hopefully no big sales this week and I can get by with the basics of milk, bread and eggs (and cheese, I know I can get a couple bags for 50 cents)...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beauty from the kitchen

Lord only knows HOW I stumble across some of these sights. Is it the name? The pictures? What???

And for those of you who follow along on the blog (all 8 at last count, thank you for your support!), you probably picked up that I'm not quite the beauty consultant with all the newest and latest  best friend had me laughing so hard the other day with regards to "blotters" ... I'm like, huh? She throws her hands up in the air and said, "oh YOU wouldn't know about that stuff." Apparently blotters are for removal of oil from the skin? Huh? AND here's a tip (sheeshhhhhh):

Them little toilet seat liners in public bathrooms ::gag::, they are the same material that blotters are made of. Ok, bet you didn't know that ... AND if you are real frugal/thrifty/cheap, you can use them and save a ton of cash in the process ... I'm just not so sure I could do it, we are talking PUBLIC RESTROOMS. ::shudder::

Ok...anyways. Crunch Betty.  Love the name. Love the cartoonish picture. :) Love the Food On Your Face. And also, love the fairly all natural approach. And hey, lookie there, I have everything in the kitchen to do this ...

Firming Facial Mask

1 egg white
1/2 tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice

Mix all til smooth and apply to face. Go lay down so the gravity will pull your face back ala Joan Rivers style. Let it dry while you lay there and pretend you are at the spa. Try to resist the urge to scream when someone knocks on the door and wants to know Whats For Dinner?

Once dry, hop into the shower and rinse. Rinse again. And again. Apparently, you need to be sure you rinse really really really well otherwise you could smell like egg whites later (hey, I suppose some people might like that?) ...

End results for me? My skin was smoother. Pores looked less defined. And while I WISH the firming factor stayed (it was a little creepy actually) I do think it did something.

So what the heck, go for it. I'm going to do this 2 times a week and see what happens.  I do need to look and see though if this will keep in the fridge a few days. That was a LOT of stuff to put on my face and no way could I (or would I) use it all at one time ... anyone know?

Linking up over at We Are That Family Works For Me Wednesday ... you should check out all the other tips out there! And just for the record, my tip was NOT about the toilet seat covers ::gag::

Recipes that I want to try

I have a whole slew of recipe links that I've bookmarked because I want to try them ... I've found the hard way NOT to print out every stinkin one that looks remotely yummy ...

So, in no particular order, here are some things that I definitely want to try for the month of March:

1. Yogurt in the crockpot.
2.  Chicken Cesar Wraps
3. Cream filled donuts with chocolate frosting (not such a good idea for the workout program though)
4. Drumsticks, weight watcher style.
5. Orange Sherbert (and I have EVERYTHING to make it, except for room in the freezer)
6. BBQ Chicken Fingers (weight watcher style yet again)
7. Fried Onion Loaf (ok, I've made this before but we never got as far as the "loaf" part ... yummy)
8. Snapple Lemon Tea (and if I really wanted Hubby to worship me, I'd find a recipe that matches Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer)
9. BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad (be sure to check out the picture ... so need to have a party soon ... Happy Hour anyone?)
10. Beef & Pepper Stir Fry (I just don't have any oyster sauce)

10 recipes is not too much to try is it? I've got 23 days (if I include today) to try them out :) ... anyone have a recipe they'd like to submit?

Pancakes like I. Hop

There's a funny family joke about the time Princess read the sign at IHOP and read what it stood for. HA ... I still get the giggles when I remember ... she was in total awe that it stood for International House Of Pancakes ... oh boy ... classic, typical Princess moment.

Anyways, not sure when the last time I was there but it's been a year or so (I missed out on the free stack stuff March 1st) and remember it being quite expensive for the 5 of us that morning. Of course, we had so much more than pancakes ... so here's a recipe I've had since January 2006 (according to the little date thing at the bottom of the page) and it came from Robbie Haf website (which is STILL active!)... and in keeping with the theme of Tasty Tuesday to measure or not,I sometimes double this recipe (and heck, heaping is really a judgment call in my opinion!)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
1/4 cup veg. oil
1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda, set aside.

Beat milk, egg and oil in separate bowl.

Slowly whisk dry mix into wet mix til mixed well. Of course, as always, do NOT overmix!

Using whatever works best for you, pour about 1/4 cup of batter at a time on a hot griddle/skillet over medium heat.

When edges started to get hardenend, flip pancakes - should be light brown - cook on other side for same amount of time.

Serve up with butter, syrup, fruit and whip cream to keep it IHOPish.

Hop on over to Beauty and Bedlam and check out the Tasty Tuesday parade!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Washing dishes before retiring for the evening

Most times, I do the dishes before I go to bed.

Actually, truthfully, I prefer to have them washed, dried and put away by 8pm because, ideally, I'm in bed by 9 and lights out by 10. But of course, in REAL life, that never happens.

Hubby gets home late, and brings no less than 4 reusable containers and lids. I get home late and bring at least 2. AND if I've gotten home late you better hope that nobody is hungry because I'm usually cranky by that time and the LAST thing I want to hear is "whats for dinner mom?" ... fend for yourself Animals!

My opinion is that nothing is worse than waking up to a sink full of dishes ... uggg. Not the way I want to start my morning off (bad enough I have to deal with the freakin cat box ... anyone want a cat?)

So how about it. Do you go out of your way to have a clean sink and counter before going to bed? Or do you simply wash and let dry overnight? OR do you take the easiest, and probably most desirable way out and load the dishwasher? (Which brings me to the other question, run it overnight or start in the morning? Mine is L. O. U. D.)

Menu Plan Monday

Ahhh...into the 2nd week of March already!

I got a little sidetracked last week a few nights, a little carried away at the grocery store and whew, we have lots of food to eat up ... AND Hubby is out this week Monday to Thursday and Princess is working every night so the primary focus is Sonny Boy as I could just eat a salad every night (which would be good for me)

So here's what I have planned, on a small scale, OR if I choose to make full size meals, I will just freeze in smaller portions for lunches and/or dinner (those nights when the gym is long running)

Monday - Mac and cheese, just to keep the boy happy. Me? a salad
Tuesday - I think I'll give Sonny Boy some cash ($10 or so) to take girlfriend out to a new burger joint, BurgerFi and give me an opinion. Me, a salad...
Wednesday - enchiladas
Thursday - BLT pizza (CA Pizza Kitchen style. Will probably use the garlic pizza dough recipe)
Friday - grilled chicken
Saturday - Hubby's choice
Sunday - again, maybe I can make the red sauce and we can have pasta

Linking up over at Menu Plan Monday - Organzing Junkie ... I need to start browsing the site more as I see more and more piles starting around the house (how this happens, I have NO idea!) ... hop on over and check out 100's of other menu plan ideas!

Round up on shopping over the weekend

I wanted to do Walmart (gasp, I know, but needed some workout shirts for Hubby), Ross (I know, gasp, again, but its the dress sale!) and Aldis (woohoo) since they are all on the one corner of a major intersection, 20 minutes straight down the road. Ok dokey, we are off....

Walmart, 4 shirts, a flexible lighter and 2 cans of frebreeze, $28.

Aldis, lots of stuff (listed below) for $102.18 (holy crap)
pineapple $1.69 (and now I read somewhere that they may be 99 cents now!)
4 cans of corn, 45 cents (maybe I can try the sante fe chicken again)
3 frozen oj $1.09
2 gallons 2% milk $1.99
3 lb gala apples $1.99
2 bags shredded hash browns $1.39
2 bags frozen brocolli 99 cents
2 lucsious hanging strawberry plants (that don't hang from my fence!) $5.99
2 cucumbers 59 cents
2 pkgs wet wipes $1.39 (yes, that was me opening the package in the store, I wanted to feel them before I bought more than one)
6 blocks of cheese $1.49 (this was a STEAL)
2 pkgs string cheese $2.49
3 containers whip cream cheese $1.39
2 pkgs sliced cheddar cheese $1.89
4 easy mac cups 69 cents
4 asian noodles 79 cents
spaghetti sauce $1.19
parsley flakes 99 cents
equalish sugar $1.19
ground cumin 99 cents
minced onion 99 cents
ketchup $1.19
evaporated milk 69 cents
pepperoni stick $2.79
2 granola bars $1.49
brown sugar $1.49
flour tortillas 99 cents
2 bagels $1.39
6 peanut butter wafer (nutty buddies) 99 cents
mayo $1.99
2 spanish olives 99 cents
relish $1.19
tissues $1.19
2 bags of chips $1.19
container shroooms 50 cents
creamy peanut butter (Sonny Boy is thrilled, no more chunky stuff) $1.49
2 bags of bananas 97 and 63 cents
AND my bad (driving hubbys car)
plastic bag 10 cents
2 paper bags 6 cents
insulated bag $1.99

Ross - work out pants, a few sports bras and a cool little serving dish, $60.

GFS (Friday night on way home from work) $62.48
season wedge fries $3.49 (which I still had a bag in the freezer, darn it!)
2 5lb bags of b/s chicken breast $17.98 total
2 5 lb bags of chicken wings $13.98 total
sliced salami $3.65
9.5 lb whole turkey breast for slicing (you know, the deli stuff) $10.50
yellow mustard $2.99
squishy white bread $2.49
24 pk coke $5.99
24 pk sprite $5.99

Had a $5.00 off $50 coupon to use ... still went over.

All in all, a very expensive weekend.

Friday, March 4, 2011

10 simple ways to save a little extra dough

Nothing earth shattering or new here, I'm sure ... but it's like the weight loss stories, we all know how to lose the weight, we just don't apply it:

1. Ditch the plastic. ALL OF IT. I keep my debit and american express card at home, in a place (the whole household knows where they are just in case) and use cash only. It's tough in the beginning, trust me but definitely makes a difference.

2. Pack those lunches/snacks/breakfast/dinner. If you work outside the home or plan on being gone for an extended amount of time, pack it up and bring it along. I figured for me to buy my lunch every stinkin day would be roughly, $8 to $12 and this would NOT be at a sit down restaurant. That's a starting point of $40 a week. Same with water bottles on the road or just plain snacks for the kids. Seriously, the last time Hubby and I were out all day running errands, we stopped to get something to drink at 7-11 and it cost $4 total for 2 drinks (water bottle and gatorade).

3. Keep her full. The gas tank. The price for a regular gallon of gas is $3.59 (last night). Whoa nelly! We all drive gas guzzlers (yes, there, I admit it) with big tanks. Rather than spend $100 (or more) at this point to fill her up, I'm opting to keep her around 3/4 full with a $25 or so addition once a week. Yes, luckily for ME I don't drive all over town and burn a ton of gas, but I think by doing this it wont' be as painful and will allow me to look for cheaper gas on the move.

4. Pay on time. Um, gee, have you seen the late fees on everything lately? Did I really see a $37 late fee on a credit card disclosure? Hopefully that's more than your monthly interest due. Sign up for your online bill pay (hey, if you are on here reading this blog, you have plenty of time to do the billpaying!) with your bank. Then as your bills come in, plug in the payment and date you want it to be paid within the due date time period (I do one to two days before it's due). IF you are following Rule #1 you should have the funds in your account when it comes due. This will also eliminate the no cash to pay when due IF you go ahead and deduct it from your account on paper ...

5. Use it Up. All of it. The end pieces of bread. The cuttings of vegetables. The last bit of sour cream. There are so many things that we just toss out. Invest in a good rubber spatula to scrape stuff out of the jars with. Easily a tablespoon or more can be gleaned this way. Just the right amount for that recipe! The laundry soap bottles? Stab a hole in one corner of the bottom to get the last bit out (that so irritates me that you can't pour it out the top, one more load worth is in there!). If you have anti-heel people in your house, flip the end pieces to the inside of grilled cheese and no one will even notice! Or make bread crumbs!

6. Keep inventory. Yeah, I'm bad at this, I know. But knowing what you have in the pantry and freezers is a HUGE way to save a little extra cash. Especially on a tight week. After 7 weeks or so of a pantry challenge, I still have enough food to feed the neighborhood for a month at least. Ahhh...which leads me to the next one ...

7. Use your coupons. Ok. Some say there aren't any coupons for the things they buy. Um, yes, I bet there are! Laundry soap, bath soap, meat, veggies, bread, there are coupons out there!! Go to A Full Cup and you can search for specific coupons! Just use caution as you will feel the need to buy EVERY good deal out there, which then puts you at odds with #1 and #6.

8. Shop the sales. And if you match it up with #6 you could be golden!  Google your favorite store with an "I heart" before it. Such as I heart Publix. Or I heart Walgreens. There are ladies out there who have some terrific websites that match up sales with coupons. You don't need to pay for the "game" to be in the game!

9. Menu Plan. Yeah. Try to stay focused on this and just get a piece of paper (or a calendar you can scratch up) and just list 15 things your family enjoys for dinner that you can make, quick and easy. Don't have 15 things? Then go over to Menu Plan Monday with Organizing Junkie and just take a quick peek at the 300+ other bloggers to see what they are eating. A word of caution: do not print out every single recipe that looks good to you because a) you will kill a forest, and b) you will have a clutter issue with recipes. I do dinners only, because we eat leftovers for lunches and the breakfast are pretty standard day to day stuff.

10. Follow some blogs. Google and find some really cool blogs to follow. My favorites are I Heart Publix, Life as Mom, Beauty and Bedlam, Good Cheap Eats, Ginas Skinny Taste (ww) and Tammys Recipes. Once you start seeing how others are doing it, you will quickly fall in step with it too ...

Linking up to Frugal Friday's with Jessica over at Life As Mom ... if you do nothing else, you should probably check out the links there! So, how do YOU save money?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Picadillo - Cuban Hash

I seem to be on a Cuban food kick, or maybe it's just a craving, or the weather, or SOMETHING. I don't know...but I've kept the cookbook out on the couch for the past few days and just keep flipping through it ... perhaps I should just put it back on the shelf? :)

The first time Hubby made this was soooo many years ago ... we were using the guest kitchen because our main kitchen still didn't have countertops OR the drop in range yet. Wow. That was like the late 90's ... I can also remember WHO was here for dinner (hello Christine & hello Jeff) ... not a couple like that, but we were all good friends and celebrating the moving back into our new and improved home (we moved out for a major renovation) ... I also remember standing there and being VERY skeptical at the fact that HUBBY was like tripling the amount of olives ... me, who H.A.T.E.S. olives, and finding out afterwards that Christine didn't like them either ... but we still loved this dish (we just picked out the olives and put them on the side of our plate where Hubby scooped them up and ate them ::gag::)

I'm also chuckling because Hubby's notes even state: "add more olives, more sherry, omit raisins" here's OUR version!

Picadillo or Cuban Beef Hash

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup dry sherry (hubby used more close to 1/2)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tbs salt
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco (or hot sauce of choice)
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2  cup olives, sliced or halved (I like mine HALVED so I can pick them out) (Hubby used like a cup and a half!)
1/4 cup veggie oil

In a large skillet, heat olive oil, then add onion, pepper and garlic, cook 10 minutes, stirring. Add beef and cook til brown, 10 to 15 minutes, breaking up larger chunks as you go along. Drain off any excess fat.

Add the sherry, tomatoes, salt, Worcestershire and Tabasco, stir and cook over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered.

Heat veggie oil in small skillet and then fry up the potatoes (you can boil if you want, just eliminate the oil obviously, but not 'quite' the same). Add the taters and olive to the meat mix. Correct seasoning as needed.

Transfer to large bowl or platter, and serve with rice (black beans or red beans and rice are an excellent side to serve with)

*The true recipe calls for making the bowl pretty by placing a chopped egg in the center, outline the border with peas and sprinkle chopped pimiento over the top if you are really into it!*

AND because this would be an excellent freezer friendly dish (hey, I think I WILL make it this weekend!) I'm going to go ahead and link up with Jessica today over at Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap!

Meat Sauce

Linking up with Jessica over at Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap ... today's thoughts are on freezer friendly stuff (ironically, I believe March is Freezer Food month!?) ... so here's my one surefire freezer thing that I make on a consistent basis, and will be making this weekend (now that I located the italian sausage from the bottom of the freezer AND thank you Publix for having the Italian Days sale so I could stock up on tomato sauce and paste dirt cheap!)...

This is one of those sauces that taste awesome, but you really need to let it simmer for a few hours, generally I start it on a Sunday morning and let it go all day, serve some for dinner and then package and freeze on Monday. Makes enough for 2 to 5 more meals, depending on the number of people you are serving (and well, we like a lot of sauce on our pasta!)

2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 1.5 lbs of italian sausage, remove casing (slice the sausage the whole length and just peel off)
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp marjoram
1 large bay leaf, break into thirds (I have to hide mine in the sauce, Hubby "thinks" he hates bay leaves, but doesn't seem to realize that THIS is why he LOVES the sauce)
6 oz can of tomato paste (that's the smaller can)
6 regular size cans of either tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (even diced) (your choice as Hubby hates chunky cooked tomatoes so I puree if chunky before tossing in pan)
1 can of water
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh basil, sliced thin (if you have, I've forgotten so many times and ask myself if it's really needed, but it does add another flavor)

Ready to start cooking? In medium size stock pot, heat oil. Saute onions & garlic 1 minute or so, then add sausage and cook, breaking up as it cooks.

Cook, stirring occasionally til sausage is cooked, but not overly so. If there is too much fat at bottom of pan for your taste, drain and then add rest of ingredients, except the fresh basil, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Reduce heat to low simmer til just bubbling (perking). Simmer, uncovered 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

After an hour, stir in fresh basil (if you happen to remember!).

Serve with your favorite pasta. Or just grab a loaf of fresh bread and start dipping. Make some chicken Parmesan! Or just use it on pasta ... it's so dang good I get all giddy with the prospects!

So what is one of your favorite sauces to make? AND if it's freezable, link up with Life as Mom!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shopping the sales

For food, not miscellaneous type of stuff ...

There has been talk all over blogsphere about the rising cost of food. Yes. I've noticed it too. It stinks. Unfortunately, Ben Bernanke does not really know what the "real" people of America are going through when he states the current oil prices will only have a temporary impact on the economy and basically just shrugs it off.

Higher oil prices mean higher cost of everything. Food. Clothes. Utility bills. Just about everything you use requires some type of energy source (which is predominantly oil driven) to manufacture. So close your eyes, pretend, just for a minute, that you too, are a "Student of the Great Depression", and tell me what your analogy is?

Ok. Anyways, off my rant and moving on (it just irritates me, that's all, get serious and get out on the street with REAL people before you start saying everything is just a-ok).

So. Deep breath.

GFS, also known as Gordens Food Service, has a single page, double sided flyer that came in the mail yesterday. $5 off $50 purchase coupon (I get 2 because our house used to be zoned as a duplex and the mail service still considers it 2 residences) ... AND YES!!!! They have jumbo chicken wings, 5 lbs for $6.99! Woohoo! But wait ... they also have boneless skinless chicken breasts, 5 lbs, for $8.99. Hot diggity dog!

Now I need to go evaluate the freezers ... is there room? Sure there is. I can always make room for wings (I see pizza and wings with beer in the VERY near future!!) ...

Cuban Bread - easy recipe!

I have a great cook book called Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. Excellent history section and all....

Anyways, we love cuban food and since I don't live all THAT close to Miami to drive to the little cuban dives, I cook it at home when the urge strikes ...

One thing that I love (surprise!) is Cuban Bread. And this recipe is so dang easy ... had I been thinking AHEAD, I would have made this on Sunday for the Cubanos ...

1 pkg yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
6 to 7 cups flour, sifted (do not ask me WHY)

Dissolve the yeast in the water and add salt and sugar, stir thoroughly.

Add flour, one cup at a time, beating it in with wooden spoon or use dough hook on low speed. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough.

When mixed, shape into ball, place in a grease bowl, grease top and cover with dry towel to let rise til double in size.

Turn dough out on lightly floured board and shape into 2 long french style loaves OR round italian style. Up to you :)  Arrange on baking sheets sprinkled heavily with cornmeal. Let rise 5 minutes.

Slash tops in 2 or 3 places, brush with water and place them in a cold oven. Set the oven to 400 degrees and place a pan of boiling water on the bottom of oven. Bake loaves til they are crusty and done, 40 to 45 minutes.

This is so going to be on my baking list this weekend. It stinks though since we are HOT here, 80's (87 yesterday!) and it's ONLY freakin March ...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Take 10

In this case, I suppose it really came down to 15 minutes ... as you can see, I started BEFORE I set the timer:

I've decided that I'm actually looking forward to the kids leaving the house so that I won't be dealing with construction paper on this level ...

This is the guest hallway linen closet.  Yes, typically, such a closet would hold linens, health and beauty items, etc. But in this house, it holds pillows, sheets, office supplies and kids artsy crafty crap. Oh, and a box of tax returns (shudder).

As you can see, with kids (mini adults, not toddlers, mind you) the stuff is just shoved around and pulled and crammed here there and everywhere (should have seen it BEFORE all the paper ended on the floor).

So, 15 minutes or so later:

Ahhh, much better. Not perfect, but good enough.

IHOP - free short stack from 7am to 10pm today only

They ask that you make a small donation to Children's Miracle Network.

So. Am I a bad mom for giving my kid a tardy note so he and his friends can go to IHOP this morning before class? Ummm. They will be one hour late (told him he had to be at school by 8am whereas school starts at 7am).

Now before you start giving me the lecture, keep in mind, Senioritis is kicking in full time for the kid. He's a decent student (not perfect, but far better that I was) AND today is the FCAT writing test for those 10th graders. AND the first block (2 hours) is actually 3 hours long today, and its Music Comp.

I think I am a GOOD mom ... I weighed all the pros and cons on this one. So long as he's there by 8am, I'm fine (and he makes that donation) ...