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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Going Out With A Bang!

I suppose you could say I'm going out with a bang after the 'quick' trip to Costco?

$40 in gas ($3.23 a gallon)

And then the shop WITH a list, which was pretty much stuck to ... but still...

Paper towels $14.89
80ct Coffeehouse kcups $37.99
5 lb beefsteak tomatoes $6.99
36 pk water $3.75
dozen croissants $5.99
TP $17.99
Aidell chicken hotdogs (1 was apple other is pineapple, delicious) $10.99 x 2
6 pk romaine $4.29
24 oz bag o' Ruffles $5.29 (hey, better than $7.99)
large bag of organic tortilla chips $4.89
8 pk Torta sandwich rolls $5.99
72 ct dayquil $14.29
72 ct nyquil $14.29
18 oz wedge of percorino romano $9.54
1 lb of Coastal Cheddar $6.99
18 pk protein bars $17.69 (score, the price dropped!)
36 ct welchs fruit snacks $10.59
12 pk 5" burger buns $2.39 (for the juicy lucys)
90 ct EmergenC $19.49
2 lb organic spinach leaves $4.29
string cheese $9.49
large jug fresh pico de gallo $5.49
2 pkgs fully cooked steak strips $12.99 each (for my steak salads and other things)
2 lb bag of peeled garlic $4.99
2 lb strawberries $3.99
3 pk english cukes $3.99
2% milk $3.35

I skipped the eggs, over $5 now for 36 ... the price really went up fast. Also skipped a few other things as the price is just not what it used to be.

I stood in line at the Pharmacy for oh, 10 minutes, just to get the real-deal Sudafed. Handed over my Costco card and debit card and realized that I didn't have my license with me. Crumb. Which is why I got the other stuff. Uggg.

So, grand total? $289.49. Geesh. Just about the amount that would have been swept over to my savings account in the morning. Bummer.

Then it was the place to fill the spare propane tank $20.00

Then Publix for cocktail sauce $3.36

Then 7-11 for ice (forgot to get at Publix), 40 lbs for $10+ ... good Lord.

Yeah, I am going out with a bang!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Hour Friday!

Ok, I'm NOT starting the New Year celebration just yet, but I'm ready!

A girlfriend of mine turned me on to these yummy shots one night when we got together to listen to a local band that we try to support (sob, those days are over come Sunday) ... and I'm shocked that they cost $7 to $10 a shot. One round is pretty much my drink budget for the night!

So I've asked bartenders over time how they make it and they ALL do it the same exact way. So while I was in the liquor store buying the bubbly stuff for tomorrow night, I took out my phone, cued up google and looked up the recipe (hey, much as I hate this modern technology, tie me to the phone stuff, this is COOL to be able to do!) and lo and behold, I'm set! (FYI - it's apparently so dang popular that Crown even has it their website!

Washington Apples ... oh yummm

1/3 crown royal
1/3 sour apple schnapps
1/3 cranberry juice
Splash of 7up if desired (I don't believe I've ever had that before?)

Mix the first 3 in a shaker over ice and shake, strain and serve in shots. This makes ONE shot so obviously, increase the amounts for a group. I hate to say it but this may take away the Lemon Drop Girl Power shots.

FYI - I've got one girl friend who orders her's with Jamison Whisky. Ummm, no thanks but if you prefer that try it!

Enjoy and drink responsibly!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - last week of the year

At last, we are finally coming to the end of 2011. Yes, that makes me pretty darn happy for quite a few reasons ...

So here we are, heading in to the last week ... and I think I'm going to keep the menu plan simple and use up what we have on hand ... still want to get to Costco, but may just hold out til the end of the week, if not even in to the NEW YEAR which will sort of put a crimp in the budget plan for 2012.

So here's where we are, December 26th (I didn't post the menu for Sunday, it was Christmas and we had lasagna, garlic bread, fried cheese sticks, plenty of good wine and well, no consumable tap water).

Monday - leftovers, between lasagna and italian beef. Take your pick!

Tuesday - Going to try this baked shrimp scampi, making it a half recipe though. I believe I have everything on hand to make it (including wine).

Wednesday - Tacos (using ground turkey) ... again, have everything on hand EXCEPT the shells, which I'm sure I have a taco kit in the pantry to scarf up the shells if necessary)

Thursday - Soup and sandwiches (grilled cheese and ham).

Friday - Hubby bought some mushrooms, so considering a chicken marsala dish

Saturday - New Years Eve ... we will probably have a few friends over and take a cab down to Las Olas and A1A before midnight (although, I'd rather stay in) ... will make an assortment of mini quiches, spinach dip, sliced sausage and cheese and crackers, a cracker spread, maybe some bread and a dipping sauce to go along ...

Sunday will be the start of my exciting adventure ... I'm fully psyched!

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last Minute Gifts - $5 Magazine Subscriptions

Amazon is offering $5 magazine subscriptions up until 12/26 which is 2 days away ...

I went ahead and ordered my SIL Good Housekeeping and Women's Day ... need to review MINE and see when my current subscription expires.

So if you are looking for a quick last minute inexpensive gift, hop on over and take a peek at what's offered.

The Binder In Process

I'm getting ready for the Big 2012 Challenge, and at this very moment, I'm perfectly comfortable with the approach.

I've been planning for a few months and this past month has really pushed me to start the reduced spending a little sooner (of course, the generous bonuses sort of took the edge off and helped me with a few troubling bills) ...

One of the things that I am so hoping that I can stay FOCUSED on is the use of two binders I set up. BOTH binders came from the office, free and were going to be thrown away (gasp) by my boss. I quickly claimed ownership before he could do the toss!

One is strictly for tax purposes, tracking income and expenses. 100%. I anticipate that I will have 3 or 4 1099's at the end of the 2012 so I want to be sure I can get my tax writeoffs where I can. Rather than dreading the month of April (2013), I'm hoping this will help me be way ahead of the game and ready by mid February. The binder is divided into twelve sections, one for each month. There is a cover page for income and a two additional pages for expenses. This should really help me out, I think. I plan on each month having a total for income and total of business expenses.

The other binder is for all income and all expenses. It will also track of the balances of credit cards, month to month (and hopefully I will see them hit ZERO much sooner than if I didn't track them).

Again, it's separated into twelve sections, one for each month. The first page of each month is a breakdown of the budget with a column next to each allowance for the ACTUAL cost.

I will apply the snowball effect on the credit cards with hopes that I will see zero on all by the end of the year. I am dedicated $400 off the top to credit card payments. How crappy is that to have to be back in that situation?

I am also budgeting money towards the savings account each month. This will be treated like any other bill.

I added a page for comments, notes and thoughts. In other words, what was difficult to deal with, what was rewarding, what needs to be re-evaluated and so on. This binder will almost be like a journal!

If you really want to see my REAL BUDGET, then hop over here. I've not included Sonny Boy's monthly money for food as I'm really hoping that he's getting a job and can get his own food. I give him approximately $25 to $30 a week which is nothing when milk is $4 a gallon. This of course will have to be re-evaluated and worked out, I'm sure.

Are you ready for the New Year yet?

Linking up with Works For Me Wednesday and Frugal Fridays ...

Friday, December 23, 2011

2 Days Before Christmas

It's Friday.

I got to work a half day (yippee!) and spent the next 2 hours at the cooking school getting a gift for Hubby and then another hour at Target and the mall.

Sent Sonny Boy to the other end of mall on a mission while I finished up my shopping.

I'm D. O. N. E.

And I am perfectly comfortable with the amount of money I spent. And the gifts I bought.

Nothing elaborate but nothing too garbage-y either. Sorry kids, but you did NOT get the new Bass or the new MacBook. Just not in the budget this year.

But they will understand.

I had Sonny Boy wrap up Princess's gifts and she will wrap up his when she gets home from work. I need elves this year. Not to mention, its good for them to do these types of things. No, really, I'm not making excuses. It's not considered child labor when they are 19 and 21!

Hubby got a few higher end items that he wanted. I'm hoping he's pleased with the selection. I'm sure he will be ... but the one thing for the kitchen I was just not quite sure about. So I kept THAT receipt in my purse, just in case.

We do not exchange gifts with friends or neighbors, but I will be baking cookies this evening (need to get scootin on that!) and cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning.

Are all your gifts wrapped and completed? Are you happy with what you've bought?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Being Frugal can sometimes cramp my style ... you know, the Beauty Queen within =D

But, I do have a few things that I feel are extremely important, and though they may cost a little upfront, in the end, I can do without all the other things that most beauty queens call a necessity in life ...

Baking Soda ...


Yeah, the most awesome cleaner for EVERYTHING that I've taken to using 3 times a week on my face with the leftovers being used on my feet ...

Eyelash curler...

At the ripe age of 46, my hairdresser introduced me to this little gadget. A little intimidating the first few times but man oh man, what an EYE OPENER! Seriously! (tip: warm the rubber between your palms a few seconds before using AND do it after eyeliner is applied but before mascara is). This is the one I use, it was $19 but has a lifetime refill on the grippy things.

BIG Velcro Pink Rollers ....


Got these from Target for $8 a while ago. After washing my hair in the morning, while it's still damp, I roll these in. Let them hang out for 40 minutes to an hour (sometimes less) and just like that, major volume. Like BIG...love them. You can do it the following day too (a no wash day for ME) ... either way, it just gives your hair oomph...whenever I do it, someone always compliments the hair .... (tip: if you have long thick hair like me, just secure them at your scalp with a bobby pin, you will NOT get the little ridge!)

Smudgeproof liner...


Yes, this is a little expensive. $18 to be exact. But it last a long time ... and it doesn't smudge! Tip, buy with a coupon (ULTA always has $3 off $10 so you can get it for about $15).


Eye drops - I use Publix brand as it's the same as Visine. A drop in each eye before putting on my eyeliner, curling the lashes and applying mascara. Makes the whites really pop =D


Yes, these simpe things Work For Me ... don't you have anything that makes you feel more special, beauty-wise?

Snowball Cookies

Also known as Mexican wedding cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, etc. We call them Snowballs because, well, we DON'T get snow down here and when the kids were little, they thought it was cool ... not to mention, they do sort of resemble a snowball ... don't they?

I love these things. Perfect to just pop in your mouth (any other way makes a mess) and they are just yummy ... butter and powdered sugar can't go too wrong!

I use chocolate chips instead of the usual nuts because for awhile there, we thought Sonny Boy might have a nut allergy. Turns out we were wrong, but I still make these without nuts.

2 sticks soft butter (ummm, don't MELT it)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips (mini are perfect, but regular are fine if that's what you have)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in your mixer (or use a hand beater) until all fluffy and pretty. Resist the urge to eat a spoonful ...

Add in 1/2 cup of flour and a little of the chips and mix in til combined. Keep adding until all is incorporated.

Drop 1 inch balls onto ungreased baking sheet, about an inch or so apart. Bake 14 to 15 minutes until bottom is lightly browned and cool 5 minutes on sheet.

Roll the slightly cooled cookies in the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and allow to cool completely before packaging.

NOTE: The sugar will melt and get gooey IF you don't let them cool. IF they cool too much, the sugar won't stick =D.

Enjoy! (Keep checking back and I"ll get some pics up ... promise)

Linking up with URS over at Life As Mom ...

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Week Without

I'd like to make this a no grocery shopping week ... but don't know if I can.

How about if I give myself $20 only?

That's more doable.

I need:

bread (Sonny Boy is home)
milk
hash browns (still on sale, can get 2 large bags for about $1.50 ... need for soup and Hubby cooked up 2 over the weekend)
salad stuff
cat food/litter while on sale.

Seriously, I don't need to buy anything but the first 2 items, and even that can wait. The rest of the stuff, well, hash browns are a 'stock up price' and the cat food is free when you buy the cat litter.

I do need to get the Christmas shopping out of the way. As I'm not all that festive, and pretty much financially tapped out at the moment, things will be simple, gift cards, lottery tickets, sparkling juice (yes, my kids are getting a bottle bag this year!), ear buds, candy, led flashlights, and if I can find them cheap enough, all in one tool set. I've got a pretty specific list of things to get and just need to go and do it. OH ... wrapping paper. What's up with that, I have NONE left from last year.

Hubby's gift arrived while we were out of town unexpectedly. I need to find something inexpensive related to Hello Kitty for the girlfriend. And that's it. I'm done!

Coco Late Patties

Hubby loves these and I know is anxiously waiting for me to make them. They are so easy (3 ingredients) and come from our friend Martha Stewart ...

The beauty of these is there is no baking of the cookies, but you do need to toast the coconut (note: I used to hate coconut in the bag but once I toasted it, I realized this is how it's suppose to be used! Try it!)

1 bag of shredded coconut
1 bag of chocolate chips
8 to 12 drops of almond extract (to your taste, it's powerful stuff. I've used vanilla successfully too)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the coconut in a thin layer. Place in oven at 350 and toast about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove and allow to cool completely. (TIP: I always make MORE and set aside extra in glass jar for Hubby to top stuff with, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream)

Melt your chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Remember that there is a fine line in melting and burning so use caution with the microwave (personally I wouldn't do it that way).

Add toasted coconut (keep the parchment paper and tray handy!) and extract to melted chocolate and stir til combined. Press 1 tbs mixture on the parchment paper, trying to keep a "mound" pressing gently.

Refrigerate cookies til completely set, about 20 minutes. These are best kept cool for obvious reasons =D

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chicken Parmesan - another hit!

It's so easy, even a Caveman can do it (quick, name that commercial!) ... whatever. No points to be had!

I knew that I had everyone home for dinner tonight so I wanted to make something easy, that would please the masses AND that was yummy ... needless to say, this fit all three!



Not a whole lot of ingredients either, and I had everything on hand so I was able to spend the whole weekend without spending a single dime. Score!



Original recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman (who by the way, hardly ever fails me ... only once, the chicken pasta casserole dishy thing) ... but here's how I made mine:

2 jumbo size still attached, boneless/skinless chicken breast (these come from Penn Dutch)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
3/4 cup wine (I used white)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
1 cup cheese, mozzarella and/or Parmesan. I used a combination as that's what I had on hand
1 lb cooked spaghetti

Slice breast thin, horizontally. I was able to get 4 slices per breast. Best way to do this is lay palm flat on top of breast to hold and apply pressure evenly while slowly slicing. Obviously, use the sharpest knife you have. Your other option would be to pound the heck out of 4 breast and cut in half. Nah.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet. I used my stainless steel pan because we will be deglazing and it's hard to do on a non-stick pan.

Put flour on plate (I use paper for easier cleanup), add salt and pepper, and dredge chicken in flour on both sides to lightly coat. Shake off excess and lay carefully in pan. Allow chicken to cook, without moving, for about 2 minutes, til edges start to brown. Turn over and brown the other side, remove to dish to keep warm and repeat with remaining chicken.


Once done, add a little more olive oil if needed and toss in onions and garlic. Saute til soft and then pour in the wine, scrapping the yummy bits off bottom of pan.



Let wine simmer and cook down til thickened, and then add all the sauce, along with 2 tsp sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Add chicken to the sauce, pressing down into the sauce. Top with cheese, cover pan and let simmer til cheese is melted.



Put small mound of pasta on dish, top with chicken and pour a little extra sauce over the top.



This was so good. Hubby requested that I cook down the onions a little more next time (he hates chunky stuff in the sauce). I think I'll chop them up finer next time.

Serve with salad and garlic bread. Yummm...

Menu Plan Monday ... Heading in to the Holidays!

I lost the past two weeks of menu planning due to the unexpected happening. I'm also having a difficult time in that it's the final week to Christmas. I've not gotten ANYTHING yet. Panic is starting to set in. The good news? I've got a list and I'm sticking with it. Things will be slimmer than years past due to the lack of time (and planning), the lack of funds (amazing what unexpected happenings can do to your savings account) and also, because I'm ready for my next Big Adventure ... this is just leading up to it =D

Sonny Boy is home, as are all the other Boys that hang out (members of the band) and Princess is thrilled that some of her friends are in too, so I'm guessing a few nights may have more than the usual people eating dinner ...

I'm still trying to be resourceful (still) in using what I have on hand ... my big adventure is almost starting  2 weeks early. With all the stuff that I bought from Costco still in the fridges, we will be eating fairly well, I expect.

So, with all that spelled out, here's what the plan is for the week:

Sunday - Chicken Parmesan with a salad (olivegardeny dressing) and garlic bread

Monday - Potato Soup and salad. If the kids are so inclined, they can have a sandwich too ... I want to show Sonny Boy and his girlfriend how EASY this is to make and that THEY can make this once they go back to school (no, they don't live together but rotate back and forth between apartments for dinners)

Tuesday - Raunchy chicken with mashed taters. Quite certain that I will have at least 2 teens/mini adults to feed in addition to the rest of us. Sonny Boy doesn't eat fowl but his girlfriend might like this for her and the roomies.

Wednesday - Hubby's old friend is coming in town for the night so we will make italian beef  along with a pasta salad to fill in.


Thursday - Leftovers ... whatever is remaining! I'm sort of, kind of leaning towards making an enchilada dish since I have a few bookmarked to try but this will depend on the leftover situation.

Friday - I've still got the steaks in the freezer, and think I will be pulling them out. OR I could just save the enchiladas for tonight. Although it is Christmas weekend ... I don't know at this point if I'm working just a half day or if at all, same for Monday coming up ...

Saturday - as horrible as it may be, we have a Christmas Eve tradition in that we all get McDonalds to go and eat it at home. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we've not grown out of it since Christmas will be a little bittersweet for all of us this year.

Linking up with Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday ... go check it out!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Discovering New Things

We had every intention on having the boat parade.

That didn't happen.

But while Hubby was traveling, I was busy preparing...because as far as I could see, we were having about 30 people over.

So I did the Big Shop.

And I went to the liquor store.

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, to be exact. Had I been thinking more in line with things, I would have went to Total Wine & More as they are ALWAYS a little cheaper. But oh well, I wasn't thinking clearly, apparently.

Can I tell you how much I love the holidays and liquor stores? All them special packages for the holiday gift giving ...

VAN GOGH DOUBLE ESPRESSO VODKA-Size: 750ML
And I got myself some Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka with 4 sample bottles.

$28.00 (about)

So my original intention was to make some Espresso Martinis. Just because. And my goal was to make sure EVERYONE woke up with sticky hair the next morning. Because when you drink a martini out of a martini GLASS, you are bound to spill it all over you. If you are like ME, you lean in to protect it and well, long hair is a great way to sop up a spill.

Anyways.

Hubby and I made our way to the bar the other night and he was asking about the vodka. So I told him what the plan had been. Then I admired the pretty label bottle and wondered what it smelled like.

Opened the bottle and sniffed.

O M G! Just like a shot of espresso.

Seriously.  Took a little sip. Straight out of the bottle.

Died and went to heaven to be with Mom. Well not really, but good Lord.

Poured some over ice, shook it up and strained and had myself a nice little glass of chilled Espresso Vodka.

Highly recommend, except, maybe NOT on a school night (aka Thursday).

So what have YOU tried new lately?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When the Unexpected Happens

On December 7th, 2011, at 10:54 (central time), my mother passed on.

It was sudden and so very unexpected.

My only consolation is that she did not suffer for a long time.

She died from complications of Leukemia.

Ummm. She was diagnosed with that at 6pm on December 7th.

Apparently, she had been feeling ill for quite some time but just never told anyone as she did not like people poking and prodding at her.

They were in the ambulance transferring her from St. Anthony's in Michigan City to Rush Hospital in Chicago.

She never made it. I believe she never intended to. I'm quite certain under 'normal' circumstances, my mother would not agree to undergo aggressive chemo and whatever else.

Her blood platelets were something stupidly low, like SIX when they should be in the 100s.

Her blood could not clot.

I spoke to her for a mere 2 minutes that morning. Asked if I needed to come up. Said no (yeah, that's going to work with me mom). Then abruptly asked that I call back that afternoon and HUNG UP on me. I sort of laughed, telling those around me that I could easily be offended by that.

I'm holding up as best as can be, I suppose.

My husband was so supportive in a way that I never expected him to be.

The moon shined so bright the whole time we were there.

It snowed the first snow that Thursday evening/Friday morning. I truly believe it was for me (my SIL said it was for her, whatever).

The day we left, it rained so very hard that evening. That, again, was for me.

The usual family drama over finances. I find it amazing that no matter what the situation, money has the power to control the situation.

Then the control issues reared their ugly head. Even in grief, we still feel the need to be in control.

There were no arrangements made ahead of time except she wanted to be cremated.

There was no money to had for that. Living on an extremely limited budget and not sticking to that same budget has very bad consequences, as we are finding out now.

Good things came too. We were finally able to get ahold of my enstranged sister. I have a voice mail message to call her when I get home. I did not speak to her, my brother did, I'm hoping.

I met up with my two aunts, who I've not seen in like forever (15 plus years). That was so very worth it.

I realized, yet again, the importance of pictures. In photo albums. Walking down memory lane at a time like this is definately beneficial to the soul.

Thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated on this end.

NOTE: I am back home now and so looking forward to getting back to my routine. I will probably hop back on the menu planning and other link ups next week. Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Shopping Trip

To Costco!

Yeah, I figured I may as well do it and be done. There were a few things I was getting low on and actually had a VERY detailed list. Left the tp and the papertowel, along with the hamburger behind as those 3 items would have cost me an additional $60. WTH?

Prices have increased at Costco. And the products have changed. Used to be able to buy a quart of half and half for $1.49, then it went to $1.79. Now it's a half gallon at $3.99. Heh. Same with cream, half gallon for like $6 or so. Like, crumb!

I went back and forth on even finishing the shopping trip as my brother sent me a text message to tell me that he had my mom taken to the hospital by ambulance. IF you knew my mom, you would know this is serious as she's very, very overweight and would no way go to the hospital, let alone in an ambulance. I'm worried still this morning waiting for a decent hour to call her and speak with her directly. We think internal bleeding and liver issues have kicked in (all within 24 hours). Any and all thoughts and prayers would be greatly appreciated.

So, after waffling back and forth, I finished the trip. Stuck with the list and even omitted a few things (due to the price and the necessity of item).

Here's what I got:
10 lb bag of onions $6.49
2 lb bag of mini peppers $4.49
6 pk romaine $4.29
2 lb fresh garlic $3.99
4 pk (6.75 lb) 93% lean ground turkey $15.41
honey roasted turkey lunchmeat $7.34
black forest ham $5.97
honey roasted turkey $8.30
black forest ham $5.97
5 lb shredded mozz $11.99
5 lb shredded cheddar $13.99
3 dozen xlarge eggs $4.69
28 oz bag of Ruffles $5.29 (a 9.5 oz bag is $4.49 in the store)
Whole grain crackers (gluten free, hope they taste good) $7.59
2 72 count petite quiche (Nancys) $12.69 less $3.25 each
2 48 count mini veggie egg rolls $8.99 less $3.00 each
12 pk (cans) chicken broth $8.19 less $2.25
30 pk carnation $9.89 (whoa, this got expensive!)
200 count garbage bags $13.49 (I priced garbage bags at store recently, they got expensive too!)
6 pk garden delight pasta $3.97
48 count string cheese $9.89
1.25 lbs cooked, crumbled bacon $9.99
3 pk digiornos pizza $13.49 less $3.50
5 lb bag of limes $4.99
5 lb bag of lemons $7.59
2 3 lb containers cottage cheese $4.99
4 lbs bacon $12.99
1/2 gallon half and half $3.29
3 lb tub of sour cream $4.39
24 oz kraft parm cheese $6.89
palmolive dish soap $7.99 less $2.00
2 pk pam spray $6.89
2 4 lb unsalted butter sticks $8.49 each
olive oil $9.99
5 lbs beefsteak tomatoes $6.99

Grand total? $297.18 (I had $300). Paid $190 in cash and the balance on debit card.

So what did I leave off?
Keurig coffee ($35 or so)
TP ($18)
Paper towel ($19)
Water bottles ($6)
mac and cheese tray
cheese slices
frozen ravioli
sirloin steaks (for Italian beef)

I have plenty of food and this should really tide me over to at least the first week of January, even with party and all. Hopefully I won't be traveling to Indiana.

Do you shop at Costco?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Take 10 - Quick - Inventory Top Pantry

I gave myself 15 minutes (instead of the usual 10) to see just what I had in the pantry. Only the top part which is where the majority of the 'staples' are kept.

Ummm. I probably should have done the bottom as I'm baking cookies this week and I've no real clue how much flour, sugar, etc. I have in there.

Anyways.

There were lots of gaps and little dug out holes from all the homemade stuff we've been cooking =D.

I see that I'm quite set on beef broth, but the chicken broth is getting low.

Beef Broth x 11
Chicken Broth x 3
Veggie Broth x 3

Hmmm...

Then I have the powdered/cube stuff ... dare I count?

2 veggies
2 beef
and 1 better than bouillon jar of chicken (organic).

I think I need to get crackin on some french onion soup which will be MY old standby recipe after the last one I made.

3 large cans of crushed tomatoes (time to make the red sauce!)

Lots of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups ... I've come across a lot of GOOD recipes that use cream of whatever and I never have it on hand. So the last good sale I was lucky to have some excellent coupons, so I stocked up.

Pasta is looking a little slim ... I should watch for a sale as I got Sonny Boy a microwave pasta maker for Christmas (the garage sale, bought it from my neighbor) ...

Boxed taters are looking slim too which is OK with me ... they have lots of unnecessary processed stuff in them anyways ... same with the rice mixes.

I do have tons of rice though. And thinking I need to start incorporating rice into our menu plan. Even with all the headlines about arsenic. Uggg. Just scare us away, why don't you? (btw, this is WHY I don't watch The Doctors ... everything out there is trying to KILL US).

I have a few cans of fruit.11 cans of tuna. 4 cans of chicken. Tuna is actually on the list from Costco. Just because we eat tuna fairly frequently.

Lots of diced tomatoes. Need to get crackin on those too! I'm thinking pizza sauce but need to make pizzas which would require me to buy mozzarella cheese. Hmmm. Chicken and ranch pizza? Oh. That doesn't take tomato style sauce. (Oddly enough, I don't have ANY ranch dressing?)

A few big cans of enchilada sauce and quite a bit of refried beans. One lonely jar of salsa (which I've not been able to get the lid off when I'm craving my nachos, so it goes back in the pantry and I don't make nachos. Sort of works for me?). Thinking I could make enchiladas when Sonny Boy is here. Oh...with some mexican rice perhaps?? Tacos should be added to the menu soon too as it's been awhile. I'm thinking oh yummm, taco salad!

I've got some lasagna noodles and really starting to lean towards maybe making the lasagna for Saturday night using the Pioneer Woman's recipe as it is AWESOME! I suppose I should check the noodles for them friends that occasionally take up residence. This, of course, side tracked me as I had to run to look in the 2 freezers. No ground turkey or ground beef. Scratched off the lasagna from Costco list and added ground beef/ground turkey (both or one or the other??)

One lonely can of white clam sauce. I think I will make Hubby a special dinner on January 1st of pasta with white clam sauce as that's his all time favorite.

This was a GOOD exercise for me as it brought to mind a few things that I haven't made in a while that I should make very soon! Woohoo....

Linking up with We Are That Family Works For Me Wednesday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Slim Pickins

Hubby is traveling Monday, Tuesday and gets back late on Wednesday.

Sonny Boy's 19th birthday is Monday. Not that it 'matters' so to speak as he's in Orlando and I'm not. Just telling you.

Princess is 21 on Thursday. Where did the 21 years go?? I am meeting her and a girlfriend of mine for the yummy prickly pear margaritas at Canyons. It's time for her to be introduced to the chicks top pick.

So it's really a limited 'cooking' week for me! I had taken shrimp out on Sunday morning anticipating making Bangin Shrimp but we ended up trying out a new wing place after picking up the Christmas tree (we need to get wings for the Boat Parade Party this weekend ... our old place is closed). Since it was late (like 4'ish) we just skipped dinner so to speak.

I will have to hit Costco this week one night after work. Need to get foods for the party, and I also want to get milk, cream, 1/2 and 1/2, lettuce, and a few other things (lunchmeat, carnation, tuna, salsa, etc.) ... I'm figuring about $300 total which is causing me slight anxiety. I need to shop very carefully as I don't want it to be that much but would like this to be a big shop for the remainder of the month ... plus Sonny Boy will be home in a week or so ...

Sunday - easy night as we just had chicken wings at 4ish and it held us over. Hubby did cave in and ate the rest of the eggnog ice cream that's been hiding in the freezer at about 8.

Monday - I will need to make the shrimp, thinking of bangin good shrimp since it's a whole pound for ME to eat. Yikes.

Tuesday - leftover shrimp and hopefully a salad will be tossed in.

Wednesday - I'd like to make the raunchy chicken again for Hubby and that will tide us over for the next two days lunches since he's back home. He gets home LATE so rather than fussing in the kitchen at 11pm, it will be ready for him to eat already.

Thursday - Princess and I at Canyons and then we will meet Hubby at Il Mulinos next door. I can bet she will order Chicken Piccatta.

Friday - going to have to be something with minimal work. Quite seriously, thinking of sandwiches because today, tonight and tomorrow will be all about prep for party.

Saturday - big list of foods: Italian Beef, Snausages, Artichoke/Spinach Dip, Bacon wrapped water chestnuts, Spicy meatballs, Macaroni and cheese tray, Lasagna tray, Hot wings tray, (the trays will be premade, store bought, I'm not superwoman, you know?), carrots and celery with blue cheese and ranch dressing, assorted olives, chips and dip, chips and salsa, cookies, someone will bring jalepeno cream cheese wrap things (what ARE they called?), another will bring me brownies, another will probably bring a HUGE mexican type dip and whatever else anyone brings!

We love the boat parade and it's generally our BIG party of the year. I'm thinking possibly 30 or so guest which is about average (we've had 70 plus which was just too many people) and as little as 10 before. Either way, it works for me and makes us happy.

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday ... go check it out!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beneficial

That's the only way I can describe the freezers and pantry at the moment.

I've been really reducing my grocery shopping (the amount of stuff I buy, not necessarily money out) ... so we are pretty much dried up on the snacks and such.

I mean, shoot, the one shelf is normally stuffed with chips, breads, and other junk snacky types of foods. But since Sonny Boy hasn't been around, and all the boys with him (and girls) and Princes is working odd hours, we've pretty much cleaned out that shelf and just not bought any more ... which is ok because we ARE trying to eat healthier.

So when I got the text message from our friends that they had 10 'plump' b/s chicken thighs, and would we like to grill them up at our house and hang out for a bit, I had a slight anxiety attack.

What to serve for snacks? What to serve as a side. I mean, this is like an hour notice after a BUSY day. We said YES (of course) and hurried up to finish our projects in process (Hubby hanging Christmas lights and me cleaning up after the yard sale).

I had some baby carrots and celery in fridge. But NO ranch (how is that possible??). Skip that thought.

I have salsa, but no 'fresh' chips. Skip that one too.

Ahhh. Cheese. Sliced up 1/2 lb of sharp cheddar and a 1/2 lb of monterey jack. Laid them out on a tray and pulled out a sleeve of crackers, but decided against them as I'm not sure how fresh they were (didn't want to open them!).

Found a couple of half empty canisters of nuts and mixed them up in a dish (chocolate and peanut butter Emeralds nuts are AWESOME by the way!)

And, I made 2 boxes of scalloped taters. Would have made from scratch, but I was so tired ... and just didn't have the motivation to get everything out and slice it and such. Not a big deal normally, but that night it was.

I also had some ciabatti garlic bread in the freezer that was picked up a while ago in the freezer. So thankful that I haven't been adding bread to every meal lately!

You know what? It was an excellent meal. Great company, relaxed and tasty. I really think that if the pantry had been stuffed full and overflowing as it has been for the past several years, I would have had a lot more to choose from, but I would have lost a lot of time in deciding and then finding!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spicy Meatballs

Here's another guaranteed to be on list of appetizers for the boat parade.

Hubby has been making this for YEARS and we rarely have leftovers the next day, which is good as they get pretty spicy.

5 lb bag of frozen meatballs (we usually get the Kirkland italian ones from Costco but I think I have some Hormel ones in the freezer that I will use if so.)
3 to 4 cans of mexican style rotel tomatoes (lime juice and cilantro are added, plus I think it's milder)

Puree the tomatoes in blender/food processor to remove most of the chunky stuff. This is totally optional, BUT required in my house since Hubby hates cooked chunky tomatoes.

Dump meatballs in large crockpot and pour tomatoes over the top. Cover and heat on low 8 hours or so til warm through.

Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: I promise to try and make every effort to post a picture once I have these made!