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Friday, July 29, 2011

Making Do

Hmmm...I think I use this title quite frequently, don't I? Well, it's FRIDAY (everyone sing THE SONG but don't yell at me!) and that means two things right off the top of my head:

1. Last Friday of the Summertime Pantry Challenge (which I'm continuing on into August because we apparently have way more food than I thought) and ...

2. Jessica over at Life as Mom has her Frugal Friday link up happening!

So. Let's see.  What have we been making do with? Alot actually. But the one thing that I'm most thrilled with is fries.

French fries. Uh huh.I admit it. We buy the frozen SEASONED fries. The ones that sent my BIL through the roof because he HATES them and everyone knows that. Well, apparently we DO now :) Did you know that they are basically battered? Ummm...yeah. And then we fry them? Uh huh.

Any hooo.....

I've seen lots of links lately for grilled fries. And golly gee, I've got a ton of taters that are just waiting patiently to be noticed and used (some have given up ever being selected and have died a slow death ... they rest in peace now with fellow trash stuff) ...

Easy to do, cheap and pretty dang tasty to boot!

1 medium size tater per person. Unless you have Animals like me, then maybe consider 2 medium taters for that person
Olive oil (I really did use the good stuff)

Peel the taters (if desired, I did) Cut in quarters and then into smaller wedges. The key is to make them thinner but more importantly, the same size so they will all cook together ...

Toss the cut potatoes into a bowl of cold water so that they are covered. Let them sit for about 15 minutes or so (I've seen some say hot water, not sure why) ... drain and rinse off starch. Toss back in the bowl and drizzle with oil and sprinkle (generously or not, your call) with salt. Toss to coat.

Fire up the grill, put your grill tray/pan on the grill to get it hot too. I kept the grill more towards a medium hot and cooked them for about 20 minutes, mixing them up every time I thought I got a smell of fries.

Once they meet your taste test (sampling is the only way I could tell if they were ready!) remove from heat, salt a little more and serve up!

These were surprisingly good and will definitely do it again!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Intentional Leftovers to Get Through the Week

Yeah, you've heard me say it time and time again, I'm busy. Real busy.
I love to cook, but just do not have that much free time in the evenings during the week to do so. Hey, I like to get 8 hours of sleep occasionally and NOT waking up to a dirty kitchen is an added bonus!

So what do I do?

I make intentional leftovers. Of course. But not leftovers, like meatloaf and mashed taters for 3 nights straight. Uh uh. I would not do THAT.

I do stuff like, grilled chicken and pasta on Sunday. But grill more chicken than I need for that night. Come Tuesday, we have chicken Cesar salad.

Hmmm... just how does that work, you ask?


Grill extra chicken on Sunday night when you have had all the live long day to putz around and take it easy.

Set aside what you want for later in the week and serve the rest. Trust me, if you've got big eaters in the house, you MUST set aside before serving (even hide if you must).

Then when you are ready to recreate those leftovers, just pull them out and recreate. Easy peasy.

I do this with a lot of stuff actually.

Baked taters turn into potato soup OR italian potatoes OR even potato salad.

Burgers turn into salisbury steaks with egg noodles OR serve them up with a side of rice and some yummy delicious mushroom and bleu cheese gravy (still trying to find that recipe).

Chicken has so many opportunities just waiting for you to recreate, I'm not even going to make recommendations!

Steaks are my personal favorite though. I deliberately set half my steak aside at the table. Evil Jungle Salad baby. Oh yeah. And of course, you could make steak and eggs for dinner, but not so much in this house (hubby has egg allergies when eaten like this).

And there you have it. Works for Me!

Linking up to We Are That Family (you know the one!) Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Summertime Pantry Challenge - as of July 25th

Wow, it's the last WEEK! I think I may have to extend this in through August ... I've got a full pantry and 3 freezers still.

Yeah, we are making some progress but not like I had hoped. And I've not really bought anything to add to the pantry. The freezer, a little (great meat deals lately, still want to go get the 59 cent per lb chickens!)

Here's what we've been doing, to the best of my recollection (it's been a whirlwind week)

Monday. July 25th. Breakfast was the usual ham and egg on a bagel (with provolone, I broke down and bought cheese and sour cream at Aldi's Saturday). Hubby had cheerios. We both had fruit. Lunch was salad for Hubby and we both had chicken and rice from Saturday night. Dinner was Bangin Shrimp. Pretty good.

Sunday. July 24th. Breakfast was a fend for yourself situation. Unexpected guests from Saturday night. Google Party In Your Stomach on youtube and you will see what I mean. Lunch was an offering of snacks (nachos, chips, carrots) and sandwiches (if you cared to make your own). Dinner was ziti with jarred sauce, texas toast off the grill and chicken if you wanted.

Saturday. July 23rd. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with diced ham. Lunch was fend for yourself since I was shopping (Aldi's). Dinner was a yummy concoction by Hubby using what we had on hand: Chicken stuffed with spinach and bleu cheese and Herby Rice. Yummm. Had some friends stop by bearing gifts of Patron and another brand tequila. They ended up making a few drinks and before I knew it, 10pm and both sound asleep (Florida room and guest room). Not a 'good' thing. The Animals were a little upset about the whole thing as the Florida Room is the room where they hang and watch tv.

Friday. July 22nd. Breakfast was cereal for both Hubby and I. Fruit. Lunch ... gosh, I can't remember, but I'm sure it was sandwiches. Dinner was grilled cheese with applewood bacon (boss gave to me, delicious!) with tomato soup. Gotta give Hubby credit, he's really on this pantry challenge!

Thursday. July 21st. Hubby comes home tonight, yeah! I actually swung into BK for a sandwich and thought that was really STUPID since I had cereal with me. Drove right on out. Lunch was leftover shephards pie from one of the guys in the office (I love having him back!) and dinner was pretty much scrounge for yourself since I got home so late with Hubby from the airport. He was feeling icky and just wanted to sleep.

Wednesday. July 20th. Breakfast was the usual only on toast (no bagels). Lunch was leftover potroast from the one guy in the office (wife is an excellent cook ...). Left the office early to go see the Boys play and got home at 8. Dinner was Nachos...

Tuesday. July 19th. Breakfast was scrambled eggs and ham and some fruit. Lunch was the leftover wings (4 of them). Dinner ended up with taking the kids out to Oceans' Grill since neither are often home at the same time. It was a rainy, stormy night so we went to the closest place that we all liked. 8 blocks up the road.

So how are you doing on YOUR Pantry Challenge?

Bangin Shrimp

I have so many recipes bookmarked to try that I've started making folders for the months to try because I KNOW I can't really try more than 5 or 6 a month, let alone 30+!

This one is from the the month of June, which means I added it in May! But hey, I finally got around to trying it ... and luckily I had EVERYTHING in house except the Sweet Chili Sauce. No biggie, it was like $1.89 (couldn't find the Thai Kitchen brand...what I get for going to some obsolete store) ...

So. Wanna know what we thought? It was good. Flavorful. But I'm not a fan of iceburg lettuce and next time I will use shredded romaine and maybe add some spinach too? I of course, try to follow directions, but apparently I have an issue with that.

I even wrote down the list of ingredients

.... and had it sitting on the counter. I also had the site loaded.

Somehow, I missed that I was suppose to coat the shrimp in cornstarch and fry in a little oil.

Ummm, I boiled mine (rather, steamed them). When I went and read the directions to find out what the heck I was to do with the cornstarch and oil I was like, OOPS.

So here's what I did....

1lb shrimp (I had to peel and devein ... I do both the top and the underside deveining)
5 tbs plus the scrapping of the jar since it was empty (added: MAYO. Doh.)
3 tbs sweet chili sauce, and an extra pour because it looked mayo-y
1 tsp of Sriracha sauce (plus more for Hubby's plate)

3/4 head of shredded iceburg lettuce
2 handfuls of shredded coleslaw mix
Thin sliced green onions (greeny part) ... to suit my taste

So. Like I said, I boiled/steamed my shrimp. Then to cool them down and stop them from cooking, I put ice over the top of them.

While they cooked, I mixed the mayo, chili sauce and hot sauce in a bowl.

Divy up the lettuce and coleslaw mix on plates.

Drain shrimp and add to the saucey stuff. Coat well.

Top the lettuce/coleslaw with shrimp and top that with pretty sliced green onions.


Ok. So Hubby really liked the flavors of the shrimp but would prefer that they be served over something else. I agree. I just don't like the watery taste of iceburg lettuce ...

I will make it again. And this time I will coat the raw shrimp in corn starch and fry up in a little oil!

Linking up with Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday! You should check out her post today, pretty inspiring, yet again :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Well, getting close to the final week of the pantry challenge and oddly enough, I've not made THAT much headway. Hmmm. Maybe we should just extend it ...

This week should be a fairly easy week in that I'm only going to the gym 2 times instead of the proposed usual 3. I've got to take the Tahoe to the shop as the coolant leak is bad and rather than chance something drastic happening, we will just give in and let someone take care of it. Back in the old days, Hubby would have fixed it himself but key words were "old days", before he had the accident, we got old, etc. :)

And then Tuesday through Thursday is a pressure test on the a/c for the west side of the house. It's HOT. No cooling anymore so we've been babying it along this weekend. But it's HOT.

On with the plan ...

Sunday - ziti with jarred sauce, grilled texas toast and chicken breast (odd combination but the Animals wanted pasta)

Monday - Bangin Shrimp. Will link up for now and post MY version when it's all said and done.

Tuesday - Gym. Cesar Pasta Salad (using leftover ziti and chicken from Sunday)

Wednesday - Mac and cheese with smoked sausage. I need to try this for Sonny Boy before he heads off to college!

Thursday - Gym. Hopefully. Chef Salad (since it will be easy to toss in chopped up lunchmeat and cheeses to a bunch of lettuce!)

Friday - Portabella shroom sandwiches. Will try to remember to post some pics over here.

Saturday - Steaks yet again are on the menu. We've not done it YET! Although I bet Hubby wants philly cheesesteaks!

So what are YOU making this week?? Linking up with Menu Plan Monday ... 100's of others are too ... go check it out!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Portabello mushroom, lettuce and tomato sandwiches

We are big meat eaters in this house and it will be interesting to see what the comments will be on this ... (Sunday dinner, serving with potato salad)

Got the shrooms at Aldi's for $1.69 per package (each had 2 caps) along with tomatoes. Lettuce from Penn Dutch last week (69 cents a head). Basil & rosemary from garden (ha, what garden is that??). Kaiser rolls from bread store for 89 cents for 12. Um, yes, I am still on the pantry challenge. But the stuff I bought sticks with my challenge of dairy, veggies/fruits and bread :)

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (garden)
1 clove of garlic, pressed (fridge)
3 tbs oil (pantry)
3 tbs mayo (fridge)
2 tbs basil leaves, finely chopped (garden)
4 large portobello shroom caps (aldi)
salt and pepper (pantry)
4 crusty rolls (I'm using kaiser rolls) (freezer now)
4 iceburg lettuce leaves (boy, this is my 2nd recipe calling for iceburg lettuce. Glad I bought TWO heads)
1 oz parmesean cheese, shaved or shredded (fridge)
4 large tomato slices (fridge)

Prepare grill over medium high heat

Combine rosemary, garlic and oil in small bowl

Combine mayo and basil in separate bowl

Brush oil mix over shrooms, then sprinkle with salt & pepper

Place roll halves and caps on grill. Cook rolls 3 minutes til toasted, flipping once. Cook shrooms 6 to 8 minutes til brown and tender, turning once.

Transfer to cutting board and slice caps at an angle, 1/2 inch slices

Spread basil mayo on cut sides of rolls. Divide lettuce leaves among the rolls and top with a shroom, fanning the slices out to cover all. Top with cheese, tomato and other half of roll.


*Recipe from Good Housekeeping Farm-Fresh and Fabulous!

For pictures, check over here for updates ...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I love Costco. But hate dealing with the super sized packages.

So here's what I do ....

Downsize. And you probably thought I was talking about moving into a smaller house and getting smaller cars, huh? Nahhh, not yet. Actually, thinking about that causes me major anxiety!

So lets take this gigantic bag of Muscle Milk Protein Powder. Great deal at Costco by the way, if you drink them! I've got chocolate and vanilla ...

They are annoying bags, and hold the air in no matter what you do ... of course, as you try to squeeze the air out, you inhale delightfully scented vanilla and chocolate dust. Not necessarily a good thing, you know?

Grab yourself a couple of containers that are sized appropriately to:

a. fit in your pantry easily
b. has opening large enough to be scoopable
c. has large enough space to WRITE what it is with directions

I can buy a 6 pack of these for $2.99 from Gordens Food Service

And fill em' up.


If you are lucky like me, you will have a spot that you can stash the bags that still have powder in them. OR you can fill two or three containers each. Me, I like to do one container at a time, and then when the bag is finally empty, that's when I know it's time to buy more. Of course, when you do a Pantry Challenge, you can NOT replenish something that is non-essential as this :)

Um, I have not tackled these shelves for the pantry challenge yet ... suppose I should get on that huh?

Linking up with Works For Me Wednesday ... because it really DOES work for me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Summertime Pantry Challenge - Updated as of July 18th

Still plugging away. Made a trip to Penn Dutch last Tuesday after work to get the chicken breast. Spent $35 and got 2 lbs filet mignon ($6.99 lb, steal!) and 2 large packages of chicken breast at $1.29 lb plus some green peppers, bananas and something else ... oh what was it?? Oh. Celery. Doh. There were also TWO trips to Publix, one for $30 and one for $50. Fruits, veggies, gatorade, cat food and litter, milk, bread, etc. NOTHING to stash in the pantry though, thankfully!

Here's what we've been eating ...

June 12. Tuesday. Breakfast was ... Burger King for me (omg!) and Hubby had his Cheerios. Don't ask. Lunch was leftover chinese for me (one of the Boys brought it in) and Hubby had salad and chicken. Dinner was chicken on the grill with asparagus (close to it's last leg in the fridge) and broccoli. I need to investigate the asparagus thing. I just recently started buying and eating it, discovering that I really like it on the grill. But I know nothing about it, how to tell when it's FRESH (besides not being wilty) and so forth. Oh, and yeah, I skipped the gym today to go buy the chicken that was on sale.

June 13. Wednesday. Breakfast. Again, was BK (OMG!). Hubby, guess. He had his Cheerios, happily. I need to make sure I go to Publix tonight, milk will be gone by the time I get home. Lunch was to have been leftover salad and chicken for me, chicken and broccoli for Hubby. BUT the Boys in the office were a little hungover (celebrated the birthday boy's birthday last night, am SO glad I said no thanks) and they all wanted Fort Lauderdale Chicken Sandwiches and Fritos. These are GROWN men for crying out loud! So yeah, I ate another free lunch (that makes 3 times this week, I think?). Dinner was Sausage and Peppers (sausage was chicken italian style sausage from freezer and peppers were picked up on Tuesday for 89 cents lb). I've got ONE onion in the fridge and well, frankly, I just can't see going for a long period of time WITHOUT onions ...

June 14. Thursday. Breakfast was the usual for Hubby, I had scrambled eggs with some ham diced up and a little cheese. Lunch for hubby was a big salad with chopped lunchmeat. I had the rest of the sandwich from yesterday. Dinner was leftovers.

June 15. Friday. Breakfast: cheerios, egg and ham sandwich (guess who had what?). Lunch was salad with cheese and turkey diced up. Dinner should have been a little more exciting BUT it wasn't. I ended up having a small plate of nachos and Hubby had soup and sandwich. Thankfully the soup supply is being used up as it takes up a LOT of pantry space :)

June 16. Saturday.  Breakfast was bagels for all (may need to replenish these soon). Lunch was a fend for yourself situation. I don't believe I ate lunch? Dinner was out to Jib Room and snacks all around (along with a few beers and Washington Apples).

June 17. Sunday.  Breakfast was a disappointment. Toast. With strawberries, blueberries and cherries. Hubby doesn't do fruit. But the animals do! Lunch was sandwiches (thank you Costco for the bestest lunchmeats around!) with, much to everyones disappointment and horror, kraft cheese slices. This was the first rebellion to date. Dinner was homemade pizza (worse crust on the face of the earth that I've ever made), made a pepperoni one and a Margherita one along with chicken wings that Hubby smoked on the grill. Some things can be smoked and others shouldn't. Wings fall in to the latter part in my opinion. Too smoky and now drying out.

June 18. Monday. Breakfast was mini wheats with a touch of fruit for me (Hubby on plane) and I see that Sonny Boy tapped into them too! Lunch was strawberries and cheeries. Um, I had a salad there with wings to (trying to pawn them off) but got too busy and skipped lunch. I know. Not good. Dinner was to have been tacos. Got home at 8pm from the gym. Opted instead to make it as a Dinner Worthy Nacho plate. Check that out! Made Sonny Boy stop at the store to get a gallon of milk. Was having a weak moment with the sour cream and cheddar cheese issue so KNEW better than to go myself!

Hubby is traveling this week so the menu plan will be bare bones, yet again. Wednesday the 20th the boys will be playing locally so me and a few girlfriends will hook up, have a few drinks and dance like the foolish moms we are :) I don't think it embarrasses them too badly, because at least they have moms (and friends of moms) who support their music! But I certainly could do without the screaming, just sing please. :)

Nachos - Meal Worthy (with ground chicken)!

I love nachos.  Just toss some tortilla chips on a plate, top with a little shredded cheese, nuke for 45 seconds and viola! Instant snack!

Even better, toss on some of the fresh tomato stuff with a little dab of sour cream and it's a glorified snack!

My Ordinary, Snack Style Nachos (because I forgot to take a picture last night!)

But a snack is just...well, a snack.  I can't really serve it up at 6:30 and call it dinner, can I? Ok, between you and me (and the whole bloggy network) I have ... but shhh, don't tell no one.

So. To take it one step further and make it meal worthy, you gotta toss some other things in there!

Taco meat (I had ground chicken already seasoned and cooked in the freezer)
Chips (tortilla)
Tomato Stuff (fresh is best but jarred works in a pinch)
Sour Cream (which I'm OUT OF due the pantry challenge)
Shredded Lettuce
And any other taco topping you normally like

Lay chips out on a microwave plate.

Sprinkle with taco meat. However much you'd like. FYI - I heated the meat up a little because it came straight from the fridge and was still a little frozen.

Then top with some cheese. Again, however much you'd like (I used pepper jack since the cheddar seems to be MIA thanks to the Pantry Challenge).

Nuke in the microwave for about 45 seconds til cheese is melted. Make sure you are using a microwave proof plate (um, perhaps I should say that in the beginning of the directions?).

Once cheese is melted, top with some lettuce, tomatoes stuff and dab with sour cream.

Serve it up with a fork along side! Enjoy!

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday (be sure that you read the post for this week's linkup ... it's very moving and makes me even more motivated to STOP whining about the cheese and sour cream issues at hand)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Hubby is out Monday and gets back late Thursday, so the majority of the week will be just me and the Animal. Notice, I made it singular? Because Princess is working some pretty long hours lately ... sooo. Here we are, just 2 peas in a pod. NOT.

Pantry Challenge is still underway and even though I've made THREE trips to the store, nothing is added to the pantry so that's a good thing!

Sunday - Homemade pizza (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, cheese all in stock). Made one Margherita and one pepperoni. This was the WORSE pizza dough I've ever made. Uggg. I think the 1/4 cup oil was TOO much. Also cooked up about 6 lbs of chicken wings from the freezer. Used the grill. A little smoky. Some things are great smoked, others, not so much. The wings fell into the latter in my opinion.

Monday - Tacos. Last bag of taco meat from freezer. Probably going to split cheddar and pepper jack cheese as I'm just about out of cheddar. No sour cream ... how am I going to do this! :) Lettuce, tomatoes, some onion, taco shells are all in stock thankfully.

Tuesday - Baked tater bar. If it's just me and Sonny Boy, then it won't be a potato bar so to speak :) All the fixing are in fridge and pantry. Oh. Wait. I don't have sour cream. And I'm going to have to dig for MORE cheddar cheese, surely there is some in the freezer somewhere?? This whole idea could just be tossed out the windows and I could just opt for something simple, like .... ?

Wednesday - Grilled cheese and tomato soup with chips. The boys have a gig this evening which I'd like to go watch. I'm hoping to pick up a kickbutt camcorder too so I can record it. I'm excited for them as it's close to home AND it's a big deal. IF I can get home early enough that day, I'd like to make them all something, burgers, whatnot just to feed them :) Everything is in pantry, fridge and freezer. I do NOT have buns if I opt for burgers, would just stop at the bread store.

Thursday - Chicken Cesar Pasta Salad ... will be able to keep for Hubby too. Chicken in freezer, pasta from pantry, salad fixins would be ... Costco of course!

Friday - Looking at brats and kraut. I've got that Kirkland Ale and NO ONE will touch the Indian Pale stuff (it's H. E. A. V. Y.) so I think that would be a good beer to cook the brats in. Brats are in freezer, canned kraut (may have to hide that from Hubby) :)

Saturday - Steaks and taters. Steaks are in freezer, taters in pantry. Unless of course we go boating. Then it would be take out pizza. Just because we'd be exhausted from both the heat, sun and activities. Plus it runs late most of the time. AND let's see if I break down and buy a Costco size sour cream??

So how is YOUR Pantry Challenge going?

Linking up with Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday ... keeping me accountable!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Line Drying - South Florida style

When we first moved here all those years ago (mid 80's) there was this funny contraption off to the side of the house. One single pole up the center and then it opened up like an umbrella. Who would have thought it was a collapsible clothes line.

Of course, no one ever used it, nor did any of the other homeowners who had one in their yard. These were set up back in the late 50's when the homes were built, and line drying was just what you did.

Nowdays, a lot of people would like to line dry, mostly because they realize the expense of clothes drying. How I wish I hadn't had it ripped out when we renovated the house years later.

I go back and forth on line drying. Certain items almost always get hung to dry. Mostly my work clothes. Which is why I'm very picky on letting the Animals do the laundry. Never fails :) (not to mention, they leave them in the dryer which is my major pet peeve!)

Lately though, I've started to use my clothes rack more frequently. Summer time is here and the electric bill is steadily rising.

But I can't really hang stuff outside to dry. It's humid, has a tendency to give a quick shower on the breeze, it's hot, we have birds (um, no, Kitty Kitty has not killed them all off yet), and the sun would just fade anything besides white right out.

Normally, I run the clothes in the dryer for about 15 minutes to take the major dampness out and then I do this:

I set up my four clothes racks in the guest room. Heck, if I don't have any guest staying in here, might as well use it for this purpose, where the clothes are not in the middle of the living areas, you know?

This is 2 loads of clothes.

Quite a few pairs of jeans too.  I can hang these on a mid afternoon Saturday and come Sunday morning, they are mostly dry, and fresh smelling too.  We keep our house at 76 and that particular room is very very chilly so that probably speeds up the drying time. I love these racks since they fold up fairly flat and can be stored under the bed when not in use.  I've been through a few of these over the years (after Hurricane Wilma, I had to replace ALL of them since we used them outside all the time for towels and such when we had no power for almost 3 weeks) ...

Another good thing about line drying? Wrinkles are almost non-existent. Hubby's work pants come out a little stiff but that's ok because there are NO wrinkles! Which means no ironing. That definitely works for me!

Do you line dry clothes or not?

Linking up with Works For Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Turkey Meatballs

Really, it was simply my meager attempt to make them a little healthier. I've come to the conclusion that to have the absolutely luscious yumminess that restaurant style meatballs have, they can NOT be low fat and/or healthier. Oh well. They were at least edible, but got "eh, yeah" for an opinion. Not quite what I was striving for.

I got the original recipe from Fake It Frugal (which is a pretty cool little site to browse around if you've got time ... makes me want to start crafting!) ... but of course, I changed things up a bit because I am doing a Pantry Challenge ... so here's her original recipe and below is MINE.

3 lbs OR about 40 oz ground, lean turkey breast (yes, 2 20oz packages is what I used, why did you ask?)
1 cup ground bread crumbs, italian style
1 1/2 hot dog buns that were on their last leg, finely torn apart, crumbled, small pieces
2 tbs fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup real parmsean cheese, grated (um, I suppose you could use the green can stuff IF that's all you have)
dash of salt
1 tbs of italian seasoning.

Mix all except for meat in large bowl. Add turkey and mix well. Allow to sit for at least an hour in the fridge (mine sat overnight).

Using an ice cream scoop (or a mellon scoop) and make the meatballs about the size of a golf ball (which I have a very bad conception of apparently). Place meatballs on a sprayed baking sheet. Place them sort of close together as they will shrink a little bit ... drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top and bake at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes. Take my advice and do turn roll them otherwise the wiseguys that show up for a free meal will make fun of the FLAT meatballs.

These were good, but not great. They would have been MUCH better had I put them in with the sauce to simmer a while. So I will not toss the recipe out just yet, but will continue tweaking it til it fits our taste. ...

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday ...

The Summertime Pantry Challenge - Update as July 11th

It seems like I was off to a pretty slow, if not down right, IFFY start to the pantry challenge, but looking back, golly gee, I haven't been to the store in over a WEEK! Woohoo! BUT that will end today or tomorrow as I need to go get the killer deal on chicken breast for $1.29 before the sale ends.

So, you really wanna know what we've been doing? And are you curious about others? If so, check out the Update over here for Good Cheap Eats, the one who pretty much started it all  ...

And here's what we've been doing ...

July 11th. Monday. Easy. Breakfast was eggs & diced ham and Hubby had his Cheerios. Lunch was salad with diced turkey and Hubby also got some leftover garlicky chicken. Dinner was pretty much fend for yourself, as in salad, nachos, leftover pasta.

July 10th. Sunday. Breakfast was toast and eggs. Lunch was wraps (we were on the boat) with snacky stuff (pretzels, sliced cheese) and dinner was the big italian feast from all the tomatoes I found in pantry. We had friends over so used 2 lbs of pasta, half the sauce, twice as much garlic bread as I anticipated and 4 fresh tomatoes for the caprese tray. It's ok though.

July 9th. Saturday. Breakfast was the last bagel for Sonny Boy. I had toast and eggs. Hubby had a leftover something or another. Lunch was ham sandwiches. Dinner was Jets Pizza. Night got away from us and I had 100% committed to having pasta but then it was 9pm and NO THANK YOU.

July 8th. Friday. Breakfast was the usual, eggs and toast and Cheerios for Hubby. Lunch as salad and leftovers. I had high hopes for dinner, to make a mushroom and bleu cheese sauce to toss over the leftover burgers (so they wouldn't be burgers AGAIN) but that didn't happen. We had burgers for dinner. Thankfully, the last of them.

July 7th. Thursday. My main goal was to stick with my thoughts and get the pantry at least ORGANIZED this evening. I started before I left for work which of course, made me be a few minutes late but it's ok. Really. I need to do this when I get home. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, more of that icky turkey bacon and a slice of muenster cheese between 2 pieces of toast. Hubby had his cheerios. Sonny Boy will surely find something to eat (and poor kid, he's without his carnation breakfast stuff so he's drinking the magic chocolate bunny stuff with a scoop of chocolate protein mix). Lunch ended up being salad and leftovers. Dinner was to have been the rest of the burgers, but we ended up having a friend show up so I made garlicky chicken (no biggie). BUT then he didn't stay for dinner after all .... oh well. Also ended up cooking up 2 cans of green beans for Princess and Hubby since they LOVE green beans ::gag::

July 6th. Wednesday - ummm. We went out to dinner, me, Hubby and Sonny Boy. NOTHING from the pantry (well, cheerios for breakfast count for something right?) ... and I did take a box of green giant rice and veggies to give Hubby some substance for lunch with the chicken and salad. Oh, and I opened the low carb whole grain wraps in the pantry to make a breakfast wrap (2 eggs, scrambled, bacon slices (turkey, bleh) and a sprinkle of cheese. Let's see if we do any better on tomorrow.

July 5th. Tuesday.  It's back to work. And to the Gym. Dinner consisted of straight leftovers. Sonny Boy made some grilled cheese sandwiches too for him and g/f using the texas toast bread.

July 4th. Monday.  We had burgers, dogs and more bbq pork. I also did some strawberries and some blueberries. NOTHING from the pantry or freezers notable I might add.

So, how are you all doing on your challenge?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - July 10 to July 16

Here we are, another week in to the Pantry Challenge and another week for Menu Planning.

I skipped last week, only because we had so many leftovers that we just heated up whatever we wanted when we wanted. It was sort of nice to have a life of ease ... but I missed the guidance that appears to keep me focused!

So, all intentions are to use up the Pantry and Freezer stuff ... and looks like I can do this easily enough...

Sunday - boating day and had a few friends over so it was the red sauce with pasta and garlic bread and turkey meatballs (recipe coming) ... pretty tasty and ALL from the pantry ... no special trip to the store! I also used up some tomatoes and made a quick tray of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Monday - GYM - turkey wraps (all in fridge)

Tuesday - GYM - Chicken Cesar Salad (chicken in freezer, salad stuff in fridge, dressing in pantry)

Wednesday - Sausage and peppers on the grill (not sure yet if I will use bread or not, IF I can get to bread store I will, if not, will use tortilla shells). Sausage is in freezer, may use peppers from freezer too since they will need to be non-crunchy.

Thursday - GYM - Leftovers, fend for yourself (soup, salad, sandwiches, whatever!)

Friday - Homemade pizza (tons of mozzarella cheese in freezer, sausage, pepperoni too. all other items from the pantry)

Saturday - Steaks (freezer) and potatoes (pantry)

I am hoping to only get to the store for milk, bread, bagels and lettuce this week. Keeping my fingers crossed that it's all I need. Sonny Boy would really like some Carnation but we'll see ... I've got a $3 off $30 coupon for Publix so maybe I can use that to get me to the $30 required.

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday's! Hop on over there to check out 100's of others!

Strange things

So I was making the red sauce the other day and using my favorite (or so I thought) wooden spoon.

Then I noticed that the handle felt gummy like, so I washed it.

That was when I noticed the orange mark.

After inquiring with Hubby, he reminded me that last Thanksgiving he had used the spoon to measure the oil for the turkey fryer.

Really? I don't remember that.

Which means that was NOT my favorite wooden spoon. He wouldn't dare use my favorite and mark it up like that, would he?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pantry Inventory

I've only gotten the corner lazy susan area and the ONE canned shelf done. All I can say is I have A LOT of tomatoes, sauces, diced, whole, etc. Therefore, I am making red sauce this morning to have an italian feast this evening.

Ready? Here is everything on the counter to be categorized ...

And here is what was found:
leaf spinach x 4
new potatoes x 8
whole corn x 4
french cut green beans x 3
cut green beans x 1
garbanzo chickpeas x 4
cannellini beans x 4
black beans x 9
chili beans x 1
canned chili x 5 (hot dog)
rotel tomatoes x 10
pizza sauce x 1
crushed tomatoes x 1
diced tomatoes x 7
whole tomatoes x 1
red sauce x 2
mushrooms x 5
sauerkraut x 2

And here it is, all nice and neat ...

I also discovered a recipe which I'm assuming must have come about the last time I did inventory since it's for black beans and rotel tomatoes ...

And hey, not so unhealthy according to this

And then we moved on over to the main pantry and tackled ONE shelf:

Like I said, I've got a LOT of tomatoes ... and they apparently are not in one spot of the kitchen.

and everything has to go on the counter ...

to be categorized ...
Here's the shelf BEFORE ...

And here's what I found:
Progresso soup x 9
cream of onion soup x 3
chicken noodle soup x 3
tomato soup x 3
large tomato soup x 2
cream of mushroom soup x 1
ravioli x 1
large can diced tomatoes x 1
large can crushed tomatoes x1
large can whole plum tomatoes x 1
diced tomatoes x 19 (yes, you read that right)
8 oz tomato sauce x 12 9
tomato paste x 3 2
sweet potatoes/yams x 1
clams in white wine sauce x 1
water chestnuts x 1
large can chicken x 7
small (individual) cans chicken x 3
large enchilada sauce x 1
enchilada sauce x 4
jarred salsa x 4
jarred guacamole x 1
green chilies x 3
refried beans x 2
Mandarin orange slices x 3
chunk pineapple x 1
peach halves x 1
sliced mangos x 2
large pear halves x 1
green olives x 1
large pouch albacore tuna x 7
small pouch albacore tuna x 1
canned tuna x 1 (really? that's all??)
large jar sweet roasted peppers x 1

And look at it now, a little more organized

Um, I did toss away a few things. Large, as in Costco size bag of dried cranberries. That broke my heart. I can't believe I had them that long ...

Ok, not sure what's up with the picture, but it says September 2008. Yeah. A long time ago.
Also a few jars of fruit (cloudy and not pleasing to the eye, even though only 6 months past date), some hard taco shells, and a few misc. items that I have no idea where they came from ...

I moved some stuff to another shelf (bread crumbs, rice, etc.) and hopefully when I do those shelves, there will be room and nothing else to add to THIS list :)

How are you doing on the pantry challenge? Have you done inventory yet?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Koozie, Coozie, Huggies, Whatever

We live in South Florida. It's HOT 85% of the time.

We boat. It's HOT 95% of the time. What? You sayin I'm a wimp for not boating when it's 60 degrees? Uh uh.

We float in the pool, the ocean, and ONCE, in the intercoastal.

We sit on the dock, on the patio, in the garage and ONCE on the roof.

And we almost ALWAYS have a refreshing beverage of some sort in our hand, be it a water bottle, soda, ice tea, beer or other adult beverage.

And we LIKE to have our beverages refreshing, which is why they are always in a Koozie.

I've got cheesy ones ("My Toys Are Bigger Than Your Toys") and then I have some that I continually inquire where they came from ("Adolph Towing"). 

I've got ones that I paid decent cash for (Key West many many years ago).

Some zip (for bottles). Some don't.

Some are circular, foamy things with bottoms that have the worse habit of busting loose taking your beverage container right out the bottom when picked up.

Others are collapsible, and excellent for tossing in your handbag or back pocket when doing the Bar Hop, or in some cases, Boat Hop.

But regardless, to be a good Host or Hostess here in South Florida, you gotta have them to offer up at gatherings.

I suppose you could say I have a collection of them. I consider them to be a small frugal investment. Heck, beer ain't cheap nowadays you know, and NO ONE can suck down a warm beer ::shudder:: nor would I expect them to!

I've got mine in a large wicker basket, in the guest kitchen, above the refrigerator.

And most guest that come frequently know exactly where to find them if they aren't outside on the patio. Which is part of the reason there is NO dust on top of THAT refrigerator :)

What do you call them? And which do you prefer?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BBQ Smoked Pork Shoulder

We've got a pretty cool charcoal grill, but still use the gas one 90% of the time.

Why? Well, because the charcoal grill takes so much more work, and quite honestly, neither of us have mastered the fine art yet :)

But recently, Hubby was given a recipe and specific instructions on how to smoke a pork shoulder. By a guy who does competition BBQ. And baby, the results were stellar!

First up, I had to finally invest in a "chimney". Can I tell you how stupid I felt afterwards for putting it off for so long? This took about 50% of the hassle out of cooking on charcoal.

So we kept the fires stoked (is that the correct term?) to maintain an even 250 degrees..

Resisted the urge to peek too much to see the status

And let all the smoke out (we kept adding hickory chunks, not chips)

And just wait it out for about 7 hours.

And reap the benefits of showing patience and good humor (we had a few close calls!)

We used Texas style toast (bread that is extra thick cut) and drizzled olive oil over both sides and toasted on the grill ... to die for!

'Recipe' is as follows:

1 pork shoulder with bone in (a butt and a picnic are both the shoulder, we did the butt)
1 container of pork rub (I used McCormicks but Hubby said next time he'd make his own)
2 containers of pork marinade (such as Stubbys) (Hubby made his own with apple cider vinegar, oil and a few other mystery spices)

Day before you are ready to cook, rub the pork all over well with a generous amount of rub. Lay it either in a pan OR on a large piece of foil.

Mop with marinade well. Cover or wrap tightly and put in fridge.
Next day, bring it out of fridge while your coals get fired up (put coals on one side of grill so you get the indirect heat cooking). Mop some more marinade all over pork as you want to keep it moist.

Once coals are ready put pork on opposite side of grill from the heat. Whenever you add more coals or wood, just mop it generously with the marinade.

Allow to cook for about an hour and a half and flip it over, mopping yet again (see a pattern here?)

Allow to cook until the bone pulls easy when tug on with tongs. This took us a LONG time but it was SO worth it!

Once cooked, shred with two forks, and serve up with favorite BBQ sauce!

Have you ever tried to slow cook - smoke a big hunk of meat?

Linking up with Ultimate Recipe Swap and Tasty Tuesdays ... Go check them out!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paying Bills

You know, the holiday weekend is over but SUMMERTIME is still in full swing ... and I don't know about YOU, but I have a tendency to forget about those everyday things that need to be tended to ...

Such as bill paying.

Yeah, those bills. They just don't realize that this is the FUN time of the year, and heck, last thing I want to do is balance my checkbook, make deposits, move money from here to here and then write out checks on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. No. I'd rather be floating in the pool or out in the ocean zipping around!

Of course, be a day or two late and whoa, you get slapped with a pretty hefty late fee. How can it be ethical for a $15.00 late fee to be applied to a $30 bill? Seriously!

So here's what Works For Me.  Online Bill Pay. Those bills come in and that same exact day, I log on to my online bank account, and set up that bill to be paid on the day BEFORE it's due.  I will automatically deduct it from the checkbook register just because you really do want to know what your balance is going to be :) It's pretty cool in that you can schedule whatever day you want, and I've done mine up to 4 months in advance (credit card payments, every 2 weeks) ... no fee to be charged by my bank either!
Another option you could do is the Automatic Bill Pay, where you tell the biller to automatically deduct the fees from your account. I only do that with a few things, NetFlix and the Gym, because they are set fees. Oh yeah, the electric bill too, but I've got like 3 weeks notice on that. Makes life a heck of a lot easier, trust me!

Do you pay your bills online?

Linking up with Works for Me Wednesday ...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Summertime Pantry Challenge - Update #1

Now that the weekend is officially over, I can focus a little more clearly on this Pantry Challenge thing.

I've still NOT cleaned and organized the pantry or freezers. I need to ... that really should be my first step, but it's DAY 5 already! So I may have to just chug along and get it done as I go ...

So. What are the goals, purposes, reasons, rules, etc?

My goal is to finally get the pantry and freezers organized ... and to get them cleared up.  I've got some stuff in both that probably should be gone by now, and well, you all know how stuff gets shuffled around, and eventually, these deep shelves of the pantry just suck stuff in to be lost forever, or at least until the next Pantry Challenge comes around.

Rules? None really. I will still shop. But I'm hoping to only shop for things that go in the FRIDGE (produce and dairy), occasionally breads (IF I go to the bread store I'll eliminate temptation!) and a few odds and ends (Carnation breakfast, coffee, you know, IMPORTANT NUTRITIONAL ITEMS).

I (along with the rest of the family!) need to focus on what I have and not what I want. Go ahead, nod your head in agreement, we all do it :)

I've got plenty of food, yet the kids (and Hubby) will open the pantry, stare blankly at the enormous selection and announce "there's nothing to eat in here". Uh huh. What they really mean is "there's nothing to eat that gives me instant gratification NOW" ...

I am still working with Sonny Boy to get him cooking to fend for himself in college a little more. He surprises me sometimes, the other night he made mac and cheese with elbow noodles, milk, shredded cheese salt & pepper and something else. It wasn't really mac and cheese, but like he said, it's a heck of a lot healthier for you then that "powdered stuff" ... funny kid. I sometimes get a little worried about his thinking too much about foods. :)

This could be a little difficult at times only because I'm trying to eat healthier too (less processed foods) and continue to exercise. BUT if this is to be a real life exercise, then I need to just do it!

I still haven't posted the menu plan yet for the week, but it's looking like a few nights of leftovers (thank you!) and salads ... I'll be sharing on what we eat and how we pulled it off if we have to improvise. It's probably too soon to think we will as you've seen the pictures, haven't you?

There are a few "famous" bloggers out there who are ... check them out:

Good Cheap Eats (Life as Mom's cooking site)
Tammy's Recipes (ok, so nothing to see here yet, but her site is great either way!)
Lynnes Kitchen Adventures (keep forgetting to try the Mac and Cheese in rice maker recipe!!)

So how about it, are YOU doing a Summer Pantry Challenge?