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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update on the Pineapple Upside Down Martini

Over here, I shared the recipe for this fun sounding martini but it didn't have the wow factor I was looking for ... so I wanted to retry it again this past Friday.


I did, and WOW!!

Vanilla vodka gives it the OOMPF that I was looking for. Wowee.  So very good that I just made a batch for tonight's dinner party with one cup of vanilla vodka and once cup of pineapple juice, tossed in my reusable water bottle, shaken and tossed in the freezer.

Ummm, after a 'few' of these on Friday, I just tossed the skewer and dropped 2 cherries and 2 pineapple chunks in the bottom of the glass...definitely made the red pop!

NOTE: I bought the Smirnoff brand of Vanilla Vodka, because there weren't very many options and I wanted the least expensive one since I'm not sure what else I'd use it for ... I believe it was $10.99 which is CHEAP in my opinion for Vodka (and just a side note, no hangover, unusual for cheap vodka for those of you who want to know!)

Uh, yeah, I'm hooked!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Hour Friday - Pineapple Upside Down Martini

I made these last weekend, just one. It didn't knock my socks off because:

a. I didn't use vanilla vodka, big mistake
b. the pineapple juice is unsweetened and I like sweet things.

This weekend, I'm picking up a SMALL bottle of vanilla vodka and doing a remake ... you should too!

3 ingredients, way too easy ...
Of course, found it on Pinterest and the video is pretty cool so I highly recommend you watch so it shows you how a PROFESSIONAL bartender does it.

Me? I'm a simple girl who likes to entertain at home, so I do it different!



Here's what you need:

1/2 ounce grenadine  (see the canning jar there?
I MADE MY OWN ... watch for recipe)

2 ounces pineapple juice (no sugar added!)

2 ounces vanilla vodka (redoing with vanilla vodka!)

If you have, cherries and pineapple chunks for garnish

Pantry staples in this house



Pour the grenadine directly into your martini glass



Pour the other 2 liquids in a shaker filled with ice.




Cap the shaker and shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake your booty.

Put the strainer top on and slowly pour the liquid over a spoon so it does not disturb the bottom layer in glass.



OR you can do like the bartender shows you, but I do not have a steady hand and HATE dribbles on the outside of a glass and that is what would happen to ME.

So pretty

Have 4 of these we swiped from Vegas last year



Garnish with a cherry and pineapple on a pick and serve it up!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Improvising

One of the key things about being frugal is the ability to improvise.

Well, sort of ...

I planned on making a little veggie and chicken stir fry ... I had some chicken that I was thawing and was going to use up some of the frozen veggies from the mammoth bag taking valuable space up in the freezer ...

But I ALSO had some chicken and gouda sausages that I took out a few days ago ... (didn't happen, didn't cook anything last week, not ONCE)

And mushrooms I picked up on Friday to do shrimp skewers (see comment above, didn't happen).

And a red pepper that was bought to do the oriental cabbage salad thingy ... it's starting to go squishy in areas (again, see above, DID NOT HAPPEN).

AND the rest of a LARGE onion (I only needed a little bit for the Chicago Dogs) that was seeping fumes into the fridge through it's plastic bag ...

Ahhh...what the heck, lets just fire up the grill and cook it ALL.


Yes, I knew it was 8pm on a Monday night.

Put chicken breast in the shoe box and drizzle olive oil and season salt.

Slice up the peppers, onions and shrooms, toss in a bowl with a light coating of oil and season salt.


The chicken sausage are already cooked (this always confuses me for some reason) so that was easy.

The veggies went in the grill skillet on the grill first. They take a little longer to get the nice charred color I like, not to be mistaken for BURNT as Hubby is known to do ...



Then the chicken and then the sausage.

Next thing you know, I had a plate full of meat and a bowl of veggies....

Made 2 plates for dinner (Hubby wasn't home yet so I put his in this handy little rubbermaid container.
And it is so very yummy!













The rest? Well it got divided up for lunches the rest of the week. Hubby will be thrilled for something besides salad 5 days straight!


Yup, improvising IS frugal ... and sure is nice to keep things from going to waste ...

Linking Up With:
Thrifty Thursday

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

It's bad that whenever we go to visit family in the Midwest, (Chicago to be exact), the first thing Hubby does is start looking for a hot dog stand ... all he wants is a Dog. Chicago Style. Even my kids, the pickiest one of them all, enjoys them. Not sure if it's the sport pepper or what ...

Heck, even I like them and they have mustard and relish on them! Two things I don't particularly care for!

So we try to recreate things that we like at home ... and of course, these are pretty dang easy. So much so that when Princess had to contribute to a "Food Tradition" project at school her senior year, this is what she took ... (we added green food coloring to the relish to make it brighter green and cut the dogs and buns in half)


Here's what you need:

Dogs ... these need to be a good quality dog. This time around I used the Oscar Meyer Select Chicago style dogs. I like these as they don't have a whole lot of extras in them!

Buns - squishy white buns. If you can find them, with black sesame seeds. I can never find!

Relish  (sweet)

Yellow mustard

diced white onions

sport peppers - these are super hot and I never eat them but a little juice is kind of good

tomato - either thin wedged or slices (never diced!)

pickle spear

Cook your dogs in a large skillet with a little water in the pan to sort of steam fry them.

Cool Grill Pan

With a heavy lid to press down on


Squirt mustard on one side of bun. Place your tomato (if using) on other side. Add n your hot dog and top with onions on side and relish on other. Put the pickle over the top and the sport pepper along side. Squish bun and enjoy over a plate!

LOVE potato rolls!

Condiments ... this is what makes it a Chicago Style Hot Dog


We didn't do the tomato or the pickle spear as you see, therefore it was NOT dragged through the garden.

Not a necessity but it brings back memories of the Midwest for me

Check out some of the parties I'm linking up with:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Week 13

It's going to be a rough week around here, I fly out next week to bring my dad back to Florida on Easter Sunday ... in the meantime, I need to be crunching numbers, checking out assisted living facilities and making phone calls with regards to Medicare Part D (I think he will be able to sign up since he's moved to another state) and Veterans Aid and Assistance benefits (they will apparently HELP with the cost of assisted living facilities in certain instances). If these two things are positive, I will be able to put my dad in a GOOD place. And I will be able to sleep easier.

This past week, I didn't make one single thing on the menu. NOT ONE. I didn't make dinner ONE time. Seriously. I think I finally ate dinner Saturday after my girlfriend and I got back. Hubby made some burgers for us, and I chowed. I know that dealing with stress means EATING but honestly, I can see how people just say they can't. I couldn't for 5 days. Booking the flight Saturday somehow took off the top layer of stress, viewing a few places in person today took off another level of stress today. Enough so that it's 5pm and I'm up for planning ...

Sunday - Chicago style hot dogs (dogs from freezer, hubby bought buns, remaining condiments in house)

Monday - Bangin Shrimp (shrimp from freezer using mix of coleslaw and iceberg ::shudder:: from fridge) ... need to try and get better pics

Tuesday - Chicken and veggie stirfry with rice (chicken and veggies in freezer, rice in pantry)

Wednesday - Usually date night, not so sure it will be, may just do take out from lunchtime Chinese to eat that evening. Could do it for less than $20 IF I order at lunch time.

Thursday - Chef Salad OR Chicken Cesar Salad (depends on what I have left over on the meat front)

Friday - probably shooting to have some friends over either tonight or tomorrow ... grillin and chillin ... meat from the freezers, sides and appetizers from friends (grillin either way this evening)

Saturday - Tbones with creamed spinach (definite roll over from last week! steaks in freezer, spinach in freezer, rest in fridge and pantry) IF we don't entertain this evening.

So what are YOU cooking this week?

Linking up with: Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Freezer Updates

This is so late in happening, I'm almost ashamed to even post the list on MARCH 18!

Good grief. It was suppose to happen at the first of the year to kick start the Year of Zero ...

Of course, when I started doing this, just like that I REMEMBERED the deep freeze at my dad's place ... I never even looked in there. Oh boy.  He seems to think perhaps my brother and wife were tapping in and removing stuff ... I hope so!

Anyways ... here's what I got started so far:

Guest Freezer:

14 bags (2cup) mozzarella cheese
2 bags of Tabasco pulp
2 OM Black Angus hot dogs (these are pretty much the ONLY dog I will eat now)
OM Chicago style hot dog
2 bags (1lb) key west shrimp
2 lb bag (open) large key west shrimp (shell on)
cheddar cheese (2 cup)
2 gallon size ziploc of red sauce
3 (1cup) parm romano cheese shreds
40 ct egg rolls
4 pkgs pineapple meatballs (I'm the only one that will eat these)
2 bags brocolli (smaller bags)
3 1/4 lb bag of cooked chicken strips
2 pkgs b/s chicken thighs (5 per pkg)
1 lb 80/20 beef
2 lb 90/10 beef
2 birds eye viola chicken alfredo
2 rice with veggie steamfresh
1 bag of precooked chicken ropa vieja (thinking quick lunch for Hubby one day with rice and chicken!)
2 flatout (light, original) packages
3 better cheddar/cheddarwurst/cheddar brats ALL DIFFERENT BRANDS
bag of pork chops (center cut, thick, 7)
5 lb bag of fries, half empty
bottle of spiced rum half empty
4 lb whole chicken
bag of cooked, flame roasted chicken breast (4 in bag) ... thinking of using for soup
2 boxes of crabcakes (2 per box)
3 1 lb cartons of butter (did I list butter?)
4 pk of croissants
5.5 lb bag frozen veggie blend, 1/2 empty
9 bags (2cup) cheddar cheese

Thats ONE freezer.

Next: Main freezer. Unfortunately this is where things get stuffed into and it's really unorganized.

limeade
4 slices of texas toast garlic bread
2 lb bag stuffed breaded shrooms
3 spinach
3 chicago style hot dogs
2.25 lb bag of raw chicken strips, half empty
pork loin, spicy cooked (was to have been the darn cubanos)
4 kashi pizzas (still have them)
2 1lb bags corn
2 bags broccoli
1 rice and veggie
1 1/2 lb bag of fast food style fries
gallon ziploc of misc frozen berries (smaller bags, Cascadia, blueberries, rasp, etc.)
2 lb of individual chicken breast (raw)
pepperidge farm french rolls
cherry pie
ziploc of chinese rice
chicken breast (raw)
flame broiled chicken breast (cooked)
3 (1/2lb) 90/10 beef
3 bags of seasoned steak strips (cooked)
pumpkin pie
2 lb bag breaded onion rings
4 lb whole chicken
2 pk box of Barber broccoli and chicken
1/2 bag of potato wedges
1/2 bag of mozzarella sticks
chicken breast
steam and mash taters
2 large NY strip steaks (Costco size)
cut green bags
4 mango chicken sausages
multigrain baguette
1/2 cuban loaf
ice cream tub
2 pkgs of Klondike bars (minus 1)
1 1/2 lbs of white shrimp
3 pkgs of italian sausage
1 pk bratwurst (the real deal)
2 bags of rice and veggies
4 lb boneless pork loin
breakfast sausage (like 6 pieces)
2 sheets of quiche (24 ct each)
ciabatta texas toast
40 ct egg rolls (yes, that would we two now)
bag of frozen banana pieces
bag of frozen yogurt cubes

Whew.

I still have the garage freezer to do which, geesh, really? I know there is a ham, 2 pork tenderloins, ground beef, fish and such in there.

I'm done for the weekend.

I will need to ground this together and see just what I really have (you know, 2 40 ct egg rolls, how many bags of fries, etc.) ... but will need to finish the garage first.

Menu Plan Monday, Week 12

It's that time again ... time to root around and see what we have to eat this week!

Actually, we have a lot. I was doing SO VERY WELL for a while there, and well, these past 2 weeks I've been quite a grocery shopping machine. Uggg.  I spent a few hours on Sunday organizing two of the three freezers and all I can say is WOW we have a lot of food. Seriously. A LOT. I need to commit to avoiding the grocery stores for at least a week, skip the whole $20 a week thing PERIOD.

I also believe that Sonny Boy may be coming home for a few days this week ... his girlfriend is needing to get some service hours in at a school (she is getting a teaching degree) so she doesn't want to drive by herself so he will probably drive with her.

On to the menu plan....

Sunday - wanted to make homemade pizzas BUT as Hubby pointed out, we have leftovers which was this lovely mushroom sauce he made Saturday. For the record, he is horrible about following a recipe but the end results were stellar and will do it again!
Monday - Spinach smoothie for ME and Hubby will have a chef salad (gym night)

Tuesday - famous Taco Tuesday so I'm doing taco salads (meat in freezer)

Wednesday - should be date night but most likely will stay in and eat the rest of the lovely mushroom sauce :-)
Thursday - Chicken Cesar Pasta Salad (to add pasta or not will be decided that night) (chicken in freezer)

Friday - chicken thighs and veggies on the grill (chicken in freezer)

Saturday - Tbones and creamed spinach (steaks in GARAGE freezer, which has NOT been inventoried yet!)

You do know that some things will be moved, dropped, delayed, whatever, right? Plans are meant to be changed!

So what are YOU making this week??

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday

A Food Saver, Canning Jars and Lettuce

When I was clearing out the trailer for my dad, I came across so many gadgets. Ninja Blender. Magic Bullet. Some funky steamer thing. Hand mixers. Just a bunch of different things. I got rid of all of them to Goodwill. No, I didn't want them ... they had not been taken care of and I do not think I would have wanted to spend the money to ship them to me back home. A VitaMix, well, maybe I would have splurged to ship THAT but alas, didn't find one of THAT.

I did however, nab the Food Saver. I've been wanting one for a LONG time but just could NOT justify the cost of buying one. I cleaned it up and THEN found 3 food saver containers. But no hose. So I kept cleaning ... came across 3 boxes of the bags, one was a food saver brand the other 2 are different brands. AND finally, I found the directions ... and the hose! Sweet!

Awhile ago, I saw this on Pinterest one day, how to store salads in your canning jars (which reminds me of the 25 or so blue Ball canning jars that I stored at my inlaws from my parents place) ... and I've been wanting to give it a try since we eat salads 4 out of 7 days for lunch! I'm pretty excited!!

First thing I had to do was order the lid adapter.





They come in large mouth and regular mouth sizes. I bought both since I have more regular sizes. Grand Total? $18. More than I'd like, but this IS so exciting. (The prices seem to go up and down on these things as they are more expensive than when I purchased them already).

Then I had to evaluate my lids. Since I don't can per se, I just reuse the lids until they get icky, grungy, whatever. I did find that it must have a good rubber seal inside and be perfectly flat (no dings or dents otherwise it won't seal).

And jars. I've got a variety of jars. Not as many BIG large mouth ones as I'd like (I have some that are currently in use in the pantry which is making me want to start using this stuff up to free the jar.

So here we go!

Take your lettuce and rinse it well, leaving the base intact. Shake as much water off as you can and then make your 4 to 5 long cuts (just turn the lettuce over a quarter of away to make a cut from base to end) ... then start slicing. Toss the lettuce in a salad spinner and spin away (I so miss having Sonny Boy at these times, he was the manly man spinner) til fairly dry.

Stuff the lettuce into your jars. Now, the original site says to really pack it in and fill it to the top BUT I found out that if I pack it to the top, the sealer runs for a long time and never seals. You MUST leave a little headroom on the top.


Wipe the top of the jar so its dry and there aren't any stray pieces of lettuce trying to make a getaway. Place lid on top. Place the lid adapter firmly over the top. Insert hose into food saver and lid, pushing down to make sure its in all the way on both sides.



Press your seal button. Stand back a little like I did as I sort of kind of expected a small explosion or something (hey, I admit it, I have anxiety or maybe I'm just a worrier). When it turns off, take off the hose from the adapter (you will hear a little hiss) and then pull adapter lid off.


For whatever reason, the small lid leaves the blue gasket behind 95% of the time.

You can put the rings on if you want or not. I do sometimes, and other times I don't. Put the jars in the fridge.

Now, I don't know if it's because I'm a dope and don't can much but I had a heck of a time getting the lids off. The first one I did, I had to toss the lid away because it was dinged. I've found that putting a washcloth over the top while it's standing upright and then taking a butter knife and just gently pry with the side of blade will open it. I know, DANGER! but if you have a better idea, let me know.



So. How does it work for a weeks worth of salads? Pretty well! At first Hubby was rolling his eyes and asking himself just what the heck possesses me this week. Then after having nice crispy salad for 5 days whenever he wanted, without having to do any work, he was pretty impressed, as I was.

The lettuce IS crispy and still moist, but not overly so. Certainly beats that plastic after taste and smell from pre-bagged stuff. It does appear to last longer and not get the brown edges as would normally happen after a few days of cutting and storing.



AND I like the jars instead of big bowls in the fridge. I put them in a pretty square wicker basket and set in the garage fridge.

These 4 jars? 2 heads of romaine from Costco. The lettuce is fairly packed in too. I am so looking forward to ZERO WASTE on the lettuce front!

Linking up to:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why LIFE is good and NO I'm not IRISH!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This is a repost from 2009 ... sometimes you have to look back on things and realize that for all the bad things that happen in life, good things will generally come of them! This year marks 10 years ...

Today is a big day in our home for a totally different reason.

7 years ago today, on a beautiful South Florida sunny Sunday, my life changed forever, as did my husband, my kids, my close friends, and our family. See, 7 years ago today, my husband and his best friend decided to take the Harleys for an afternoon cruise to Miami and back. No big deal, they’ve done it before, many times.

After the ride, we were all going to have dinner at their house (my best friend is the wife). So we head over there around 10am. Of course, hubby wears long jeans, a nice t-shirt and sneakers.

As they get ready to leave for their ride, unbeknownst to me, he tried on several different helmets to find one that fit his head comfortably. His buddy also gave him a different pair of sunglasses to wear, aviator, wrap around types, “to keep the bugs out and, you know, made for riding”. They left, without saying goodbye. One of the few times that has happened.

About a ½ hour later, the phone rings, my best friend answers. I hear her say ‘oh no’ and pretty much leave the room, as I think this is a personal call (and the look on her face was not good). I went out to the garage to see the boys and that’s when I noticed that they were gone. My best friend comes out and tells me that Hubby had an accident. She said that he obviously had a broken arm from what her hubby tells her.

I think, oh great. “Well, it’s a damn good thing that he packed an extra shirt today”. So I grab my purse, his shirt, tell the kids to sit tight, and head out to the driveway. OH. WAIT. Where am I going? How in the world am I going to drive the pickup that he had for the weekend to get the new refrigerator for the garage? I can’t drive a pickup!

That’s when I realized that I was a little freaked out. She tells me that he’s not at the hospital yet, that they were transporting him. Lets wait til one of her kids get home to watch the kids and she will give me a ride up to the hospital

Honestly, I’m not really sure how I got there. Her? Or her husband? Someone finally drove me there. I remember going into the ER thinking this is going to be a huge hassle.

A bald headed, arrogant cop is sitting at the front desk. I give him my name, tell him my husband’s name, tell him that he was in an accident and so on. He tells me to have a seat. So I do. And I wait.

Go up to him again (again, not sure how much time passed), and ask again if he knows anything.

Finally, he tells me that he was the cop at the scene “listen, he’s had a motorcycle accident. There are a lot of things they need to do to stabilize him”

ME: “but he’s only got a broken arm” and that’s when I knew that was an understatement. The cop was a complete jerk (he actually had my husband come down to the station 6 months later to give him a citation, said that he had something to give him and here we thought it was the helmet that cracked in half).

So I wait. And Wait. And Wait. Finally, they tell me I can come back, but try to warn me that he is being treated as a Trauma victim. Huh. Whoa baby. Whoa. Whoa. Whoooooaaaa.

I had to squat down and put my head between my knees, I was going to pas out when I saw him.

Whoa.

Even typing this, 7 years later, brings tears to my eyes, and makes me want to throw up. You know what the first thing he says to me is? “They cut my f**king jeans and shirt”. Hmmm. I guess he didn’t care about the fact that he was in a neck brace, wrapped in gauze and such from pretty much head to toe. That they had him immobilized, etc. Whew. It was hard.

It was very hard. They were still in the process of stabilizing him. Finally, at 7pm, they put him in ICU. Me, my best friend and his buddy who saw it all happen in his side mirror were there. The kids (who were 9 and 11 at the time) were still at their house with their kids.

Doctor came in and discussed the surgery that would be taking place. Severely dislocated shoulder Broken upper arm. Pretty much ripped off left hand/shattered wrist in which one of the arteries is severed.

Questionable injuries to left knee.

Questionable injury to left calf (hole, size of a quarter). Hubby is just telling the doctor to stitch up the hole in leg and send him home. He’s fine. And so on. Obviously in shock. And then you see, his baby face cheeks, full of road rash. The top of his right hand, scrapped clean and removed a layer or two of skin. His left shoulder, which he has a beautiful sunburst tattoo on, is half scrapped off (which the joke from everyone was hey, the tattoo can be redrawn!)

So finally at 9pm the doctor tells me that I should go home, he promises to call me with an update on surgery results. I go pick up the kids. Somehow or another I’m driving the pickup home. I get a call at midnight. The doctor. Only half way through surgery. Informs me that he has just now gotten the shoulder back in it’s socket. That he can put the arm back together (which in the end requires another surgery along with 8 pins and a plate the whole length of upper arm into shoulder socket and something like 40 staples later), but the hand, well, the hand and wrist. He is recommending a specialist come in. He said that he will debride it (which I had NO IDEA what that meant, other than cleaning out) the best he can but would require extensive repair work and surgery.

We were fortunate. 7 1/2 weeks in the hospital, 30 surgeries (do the math, that’s about every day and a half he was under), and 1 additional reconstructive surgery a year ago. He was out of work, sitting at home for over 3 months after he came home from the hospital.

In November of that year, he was notified that he was being let go as part of the company restructuring (they were bought by another company) which led to him being unemployed for 18 months.

COBRA insurance and the fear that he would never get a job that offered health benefits that would COVER his pre-existing problems. While in the hospital, he could not get up out of bed. He couldn’t move EITHER arm. He could not feed himself, I had to feed him. His leg (the hole) resembles a shark bite now. The quarter size opening is now bigger than a hand spread open. Skin grafts. Muscle grafts. Bone grafts. You name it, we learned all about it.

BUT good things do come of this. We learned a lot about each other. We found out that yes, we were meant to be. We discovered that I am the strong one. That I do well under stress when it comes to a loved one (trust me, I became his biggest advocate against the “vultures” who were known to others as the Trauma Team – hated those people, they were ruthless, used to dealing with patients who were comatose or could NOT communicate, caused a lot of unnecessary pain, to the point where I once stood in the door and said NO, you may not come in until he has had a pain shot.

My advice to all motorcycle riders (we don't ride anymore as hubby can't grip with left hand):

1. wear a DOT certified helmet. I don't care if your not required by law to wear one, hubby would be d.e.a.d. if he had not worn one. The DOT one he had cracked right in half, so just imagine.

2. Wear good eyewear. The glasses he wore broke in half also. BUT the lens did not break. Had he been wearing his own cheapo glasses, he could have lost an eye on top of everything else.

3. Wear long pants and closed toe shoes. I cringe when I see barefoot or flipflops. Don't you know what will happen to your feet??

Life is difficult. But man, is life ever so very good. Believe me, every day I look at hubby, I realize how GOOD life really is. I almost discovered what it would be like without him and can NOT imagine what I would be doing today.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hot Browns

When we were doing the Louisville thing for Hubby's hand reconstructive surgery, we decided, for ONCE in our adult life, to play tourist ... and went to the Brown Hotel to have...

Hot Browns.

Glorified Open Face Turkey Sandwich

And then I was on a quest to recreate these things at home, because a) Louisville is quite a ways away from south Florida and b) they had to be fairly simple to make (really, just a glorified open face turkey sandwich) and c) it would be an excellent way to use up some leftover turkey after Thanksgiving ...

So I finally made them. And they were so all that and more!

And I'm jonesin for one in the very near future ... so just to torture myself (and YOU), I'm reposting ... and by all means, you don't have to wait for the Kentucky Derby and get out a fancy hat to enjoy! Which, by the way, is usually a pretty special weekend in my house: My BIRTHDAY; Cinco de Mayo, and the Air and Sea Show all typically fall around the same time ... so I never really watch the 2 minute race because I'm busy doing other stuff (last year we were in Vegas, was hoping to do it again this year, but alas, no.)

The sauce, even though it took a little time, was pretty much done in the time it took for the bacon to cook so not so bad if you are good at multitasking (and toasting the bread and remembering that oops, the turkey should be sitting out to take the chill out) … go ahead, have at it and let me know what you think!


Bad picture ... promise to update!

Hot Brown Sandwich

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (this time around I'm using half and half)
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, room temperature and beaten
Salt and black pepper to taste
Dried parsley as desired
8 slices toasted thicker slice white bread, crust trimmed off
1 pound cooked turkey breast, thickly sliced (or chunky)
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
8 bacon slices, fried crisp (I only did 5)
One medium size tomato cut in quarters and halved again (8 quarters)
*NOTE: this makes way more sauce than you need so you may wish to reduce the ingredients for sauce by half*

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Gradually add flour, whisking constantly, until smooth and free from lumps.



Gradually stir in milk and cream until sauce comes to a gentle boil, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and well blended.


In a small bowl, beat egg. Gradually add 1 cup of hot sauce, 1/3 cup at a time, to the egg, stirring constantly. Gradually add egg mixture to remaining sauce, stirring constantly until well blended; add salt and pepper to taste with parsley.

For each Hot Brown sandwich, place two slices of toasted bread on a metal (or flameproof) dish.

Ideally, thick cut bread, such as Texas Toast is perfect!


Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey.

Nestle a tomato wedge in one corner and then other corner (2 total). Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove dish from broiler and cross two pieces of bacon over the top, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings of two open-faced sandwiches each.

My notes: FYI – its pretty important that you gradually do the egg otherwise you will have scrambled egg pieces and pretty much ruin the sauce … keep the bread crust that you trimmed off after toasting to “sample” the sauce … trust me, you’ll be glad you did! Also, I DID use fresh Parmesan cheese.  There's a time and a place for the shaker green stuff but I don't think is it.

Linking up to:
Food on Friday, Weekend Wanders, Anything Goes, Dwell on Fridays, Not Baad Sundays, Creative Mondays, Mangia Mondays, Melt In Your Mouth MondayMade by YouSavory Sundays,  Show Your Stuff, Mop It Up Monday, Tempt My Tummy, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tidbits, Tuesday at the Table, Tasty Tuesday,  Tuesday Timeout, Totally Tasty, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's New Wednesday ,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Hour Friday! Espresso Martini

Last Friday I was DETERMINED to try and get back in to the swing of things and I REFUSED to be sick anymore!!

So here's what I choose for my Friday night poison:

Espresso Martini(s)

Figured one, maybe 2 and it turned in to 4 because each batch filled up the martini glass 2 times ...


Van Gogh Double Espresso VodkaKahluaNewman's Special Blend Extra Bold Coffee

1 part (shot) espresso vodka (double espresso Van Gough)
1 part (shot) Kahlua
2 parts (shots) iced coffee (strong brewed)

Add ice to shaker and add all ingredients.

Shake and then strain in to a martini glass and serve. 

Really easy to make. I made the coffee in the Keurig using the middle size to brew. Tossed the glass  of coffee in the freezer to chill for awhile before making (probably an hour or so?).  I already had the rest of the ingredients on hand from the proposed Christmas Party that didn't happen (mom passed away) ... so it stayed within my self imposed "Frugal Guidelines" (post coming soon!) ...

These were really yummy. And I need to do it again to give you some pictures ... unfortunately, drinking does NOTHING for sinus infections ... I woke up with a major congestion issue and 2 key spots where the sinuses where just swollen and inflamed :-( ... NO it was not a hangover as pressure under the eye and over the eye (same eye) relieved the pain ... but regardless ... I felt like crap. But it was fun while it lasted Friday ... a quick text message to a couple of friends resulted in an impromptu fry fest (made a dent in the garage freezer!) with a few close friends, all out by midnight!

Menu Plan Monday - Week 11

It's time for the weekly menu plan!

I'm going to try and avoid the grocery store this week (even though there are some good deals right now, I just need to say NO) ... so using what i have on hand and improvising as needed ... helps that Hubby and Sonny Boy did a run to Costco for me on Friday ...

We also have a few leftovers to eat up so that will help out for after the gym a few nights this week ... thankfully since I am going to try and get FOCUSED.

PS - YES I do know it's St. Patrick's Day on Friday ... it's also our 10 Year Life Celebration (10 years ago Hubby had a near death motorcycle accident, definitely life changing)

Sunday - I really wanted to make Chicken Parmesan with pasta, garden salad and garlic bread (going to use these new Fresh Take things from Kraft, got them for 50 cents each) BUT reality set in so we had leftover brats and sauerkraut

Monday - mashed potatoes with beef brisket (leftovers!)

Tuesday - Tuna Melts (need to put up MY review!) with a small salad (tuna in pantry)

Wednesday - should be date night, but I think we will stay in ... IF we do, the Chicken Parmesan is still on :-)

Thursday - Cobb salad

Friday - I'm not sure which night, but I believe friends will be over either tonight or Saturday, so these two are interchangeable - Shrimp Scampi with rice and a small salad (shrimp in freezer)

Saturday - Skewers using chicken thighs, onions and sweet peppers (chicken in freezer)
What are you cooking this week??

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday ... go check out the 100's of others linking up!

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Feature!

Look up, see that new page heading: Blog Hops and Link Ups!?? Or you can click HERE and bookmark it!

Yes, I'm trying to make life a little easier for all of us :-)

That there is the start of what I hope to be a thorough list of blog hops and link parties that you can easily access and link with ...

Of course, I put the reminder rules of the road there too as I know that some of the blog Hostesses are getting a little weary of trying to correct the link ups ...

Do you host a Blog Hop or a Link Up Party? If so, shoot me an email at frugalinflorida @ gmail.com. Please give me the name of the Party, the day it opens AND the web address and I will get it added to the list.

I am still working on adding links. And have a feeling I will be for quite some time!

What do you think ... will this help you out?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One Word: FOCUS

This is the one word in our household that Hubby utters and everyone will just roll their eyes normally.

FOCUS. Which means, to him, PAY ATTENTION. Usually, it's not a flattering thing either, meaning spacing off, spilling something, whatever.

However, I've made a sign and hung it on the refrigerator.

F O C U S

I need to stay focused. I've wandered off the path a bit and need to get myself out of the trees/clouds and back on solid ground.

Which means, I must FOCUS.

Focus on my money.

Focus on my chores.

Focus on my job.

Focus on ME. Yes, I will also focus on my family, but I think at the moment, I need to focus on ME to find out what made me stray off the path that was so well marked. What tempted me to take the left instead of the right? And what kept me from jumping back on the clearly marked path when it was right in front of me?

I know the answers to those questions, deep down inside. I just need to focus on correcting it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Trip to Costco

Hubby and Sonny Boy went to Costco Friday, without ME. I gave them a specific list, my Costco card and a few coupons.

They spent FOUR hours there. O M G.

They did good in getting everything on my list, I THINK ... and a few other things were picked up (5 lb brisket which Hubby is making for Saturday night dinner) ...  EVERYTHING was put away by the time I got home, neatly and I really had to do a quick peek here and there to see what was picked up ... I appreciate that they did this and even though I LOVE COSTCO I'm sure it was good for them to do something like this together!

Sonny Boy scored a big container of protein whey, double pack of peanut butter and double pack of nutella. He's happy. I sort of laughed that everything was protein based. Oh well. He also said the Almond Milk he drinks is $7 for a 3 pack, whereas, it's normally about $5 for ONE at the store. So I need to see if I can't get him a membership to use at school.

So a few things I need to do:

Divide and freeze cheese (mozzarella and cheddar)
Prep lettuce and salad stuff (do a test on the Salad in a Jar)
Divide up and seal (food saver) lunch meat to freeze (another test)
Re-organize the refrigerators
Inventory and re-organize all 3 freezers. This is frightening in that I've been wanting to do that since the first of the year, and here it is, 2nd week in March now ...

I've no idea how much was spent on this trip as Hubby will not tell me. But I do know that I've spent more than my allocated $20 this past week since Sonny Boy was here, and well, I just felt that I needed to feed him well :-) Mother's guilt, you know??

So it's time to get back to tending the freezers, fridges and pantry and be clearing stuff out and using what I have ... not to mention, a few big projects are in the works for Hubby (pool resurfacing and such) which will take a bit of cash out of our reserve accounts ... so what the heck, lets get back to being FRUGAL!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Updated Ranchy Steaks

I posted over here a few months ago about the Ranch Marinated Steaks. They were good. We've even made it with chicken.

But sometimes, you just feel the need to do it again, DIFFERENTLY.

So Saturday, we decided to invite some friends over and make these again. And this time, I mixed it up a little AND took pictures (sort of)!

Here's what you need:

These were BEAUTIFUL steaks and I couldn't resist.
Window shopping for beef is highly discouraged!


4 decent size boneless ribeye (luckily, I had some and then Publix had them on sale for $7.99 a lb - sad that is a sales price, huh?)
1 bag of smoked dried tomatoes
1 large onion, cut in half and then sliced
6 to 8 mini sweet peppers (more or less), cut in quarters
2 packages dry ranch powder dressing
2/3 cup canola oil
generous dash of cayenne pepper

Dump the ranch dressing and cayenne pepper into a shoebox (IF you want to be like ME). Add the oil and whisk to combine.

I love the shoebox!


Add veggies, mix to coat well. Add the steaks, pushing veggies aside so they are sitting underneath everything.

Slice these in half since they are small

So glad I picked up at 99 cents a bag!


Cover with a shower cap and let marinate in the fridge for several hours (I started mine at 2pm and cooked around 7).




Heat grill to medium high heat.

Place veggies on a large sheet of foil and close up. Grill veggies alongside steaks on grill (make sure the veggies get HOT to get rid of any 'bacteria'). I like my steak medium, Hubby likes his well ::shudder:: and our friends like theirs medium rare so we will be all over the grill at times like this!

*And of course, because we had friends over, I did NOT get a picture of the finished project ... sorry!

There you go ... serve it up and enjoy!

Linking up with:
Not Bad Sunday, Weekend Wander,  Mop It Up Monday, Mangia Monday,  Creative Mondays, Melt In Your Mouth, Tempt My Tummy, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tidbits, Tuesday at the Table, Tasty Tuesday (those are some AWESOME lookin brownies!), Totally Tasty Tuesday, Made Famous By, Whats Cooking Wednesday, These Chicks Cook Recipe Swap,
     

A Plastic Shoebox

Is such a useful thing to have in the KITCHEN.

Yeah. It's not in the closet holding shoes (I'm sorry raise your hand if you store shoes in a plastic shoebox please, I need to know!)

On to the purpose of this post (which has NOTHING to do with shoes!)

Jackie Brown over at Mom On A Mission (great site for freezer foody stuff by the way!) turned me on to this little trick.

Thaw your frozen foods in a plastic shoebox to prevent that condensation on you refrigerator shelf.

Huh. Brilliant.

Bet you never thought about that. Probably did what I used to do and put the stuff on a plate that was never big enough, bag hanging over the sides, dripping water (hopefully that's all!). Or maybe you wrapped that package of meat in a towel to prevent water and such from leaking out ...

Yeah. That's all over now. Plastic Shoebox. $5 for 4 from Target over the summer. Better yet, scrounge one from Princess when she tosses her shoes (umm, yes, she's one of them odd ducks that does store her numerous shoes in plastic boxes. Honestly, I do not know where she came from!)

Wanna take it one step further? Hubby did. He marinates his stuff in that SAME shoe box. O. M. G. !!! Please, do not give me the stuff about BPA and all that ... I'm well aware of it, but I also like my food to taste good, and if that plastic shoe box gets me closer to it, I'm all for it! AND it's not like we marinate for a week at a time, just a few hours ...

I mean, seriously, look how perfect ... large open bottom, flat, square corners,
PERFECT for marinating!



Veggies and Steaks marinating ... and my favorite: showercaps!

Me? I thaw my frozen stuff in the guest fridge, in a plastic shoebox. I also will toss in the remaining ingredients to make a meal complete for easier prep (hey, I work long hours, work out after work AND still expect good food, I'll do what I have to do to make it happen!)

Cheese and beef were both frozen

AND ... best of all, in my opinion? The rectangle shape fits so much better than an awkward large round bowl does in the fridge ... I've had 3 of these lined up on a shelf in the past (I'm lucky, I have 3 full size fridges and the bar fridge) ... way better than the mixing bowls, trust me!

Have a kitchen secret to share? Link up with: Tammys Recipes, Frugal Tuesday Tips, Works For Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cubanos

This is a repost:

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

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

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


Such humble beginnings to create a great sandwich!

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

Stacked and ready to put on bread




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