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Friday, May 30, 2014

Frugal Activities #15

I really like posting this every week (when I have the time!) as it keeps me more accountable and makes me think twice about some things :-)

It's been a real busy week for me, work wise ... which is good, I suppose in that it keeps me out of the stores for the most part ... and with Hubby being busy too, we are not likely to say "lets go grab dinner" if we both get home late and the menu plan falls on the wayside.

Yes, the menu plan DID fall on the wayside, but its all good in the neighborhood :-)

Thankful I still have this lovely premade margarita stuff and the salt and THE LIMES (crap, they were 3 for $1.99 last week at Publix!)

Here are some of the Frugal Activities we did this past week:

1.  Stayed home all weekend long. Granted, I did spend a ton of money on Friday before the holiday weekend, but had everything I need to get through 3 days of bbq, pool party type entertaining. Thankfully.

2.  I'm really low on coffee for the Keurig. I was using the refillable filter thingys but then decided to just give up coffee on Monday ... I made it all week, so far so good. I am substituting green tea in the morning. One cup does me good, as opposed to 3 cups of coffee. That sounds like a good plan to me!

3.  Hubby and I DID go out on Thursday night to Sweet Tomatoes ... I used my coupon and for the 2 of us, paid $24 plus $5 tip. Yes, we are generous on the tips, but they work hard clearing the tables and I see alot of people do NOT leave a tip.

4.  Packed my breakfast and lunch all 4 days of work this week.  I did skip my lunch today (Friday) as I was just too busy to stop and eat a salad.

5.  Made my salad dressing each morning instead of using bottled. I'm getting a little low on the bottled stuff and start to see another uprising similar to the BBQ Sauce scene ;-)

6.  Came straight home from work on Friday night instead of stopping at the store. A long day and I was so very tired, I knew I would just put stuff in my cart that looked good. That's the margarita you see above that I am enjoying as I type this ;-)

Can you believe it, that's all I could come up with for Frugal Activities? Yikes!

And now ... some of our NOT so Frugal Activities ...

1.  Stopped at Whole Foods on Tuesday to pick up more salad stuff ... only wanted to get 2 containers of baby greens ... should have been $6 ... got sucked into a few other items (tahini??!! Why would I pick THAT up?) and spent $22

2.  Took my dad to the VA Wednesday as he's been having issues swallowing (has a spasm and can't breathe, scares the snot out of me when it happens!) ... stopped at Aldis on my way home since it's seriously RIGHT THERE ... $130.00 ... ahem. Really. How does one spend $130 at Aldis? I need to review my receipt again!

3.  Forgot to get gas before I picked up my dad so ended up spending $3.79 instead of $3.63 a gallon. Ouch.

That's all I have to report for the week ... nothing really exciting as I'm just mentally drained from work ... thankful it's Friday evening and would love to just stay home all weekend long again ...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BBQ Sauce - DIY

It's been a little while since I've posted a DIY recipe ...

Sometimes these ideas and things work GREAT, other times, not as well as we'd hoped ... the ketchup is a perfect example ... I just couldn't get the family to embrace it with open arms ... although, it did work great for the cocktail sauce and I bet it would have been excellent for this recipe!




This is a Hubby recipe and it's one that I've been on him to make for a while ... imagine that, we had NO BBQ sauce in the house for about a month as I stopped buying it a while ago ... and then we were just using the stuff up in the pantry that I had stockpiled a few years ago ... yes, some of it was beyond the date on the bottle but still perfectly fine (please, no hate mail! I don't believe all expiration dates are to be minded!). Because we finally had NONE left, and Memorial Day weekend was approaching, as is summer, he finally made some!

It's pretty simple to make, doesn't really require much hands on time, but you do need to let it just simmer on the stove for a little while ... we all know that good things take time!

Because we cook A LOT and serve up a ton of food, we double, triple, even make 6 times the amount called for ... the recipe below will make about one quart (Hubby actually messed up and wanted to make the 6 times amount to give us a half gallon, but alas, I left him alone and didn't double check his math stuff ... 

Ok, ready to give it a try? Here's what you need!

3 cups ketchup
4 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups molasses
1 1/2 cups honey
3 tsp liquid smoke
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp Tabasco pulp (you can use any other liquid hot sauce if desired, but might want to increase it a tad if you want it warmer)

Mix all in a large, non-reactive pan and simmer for 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. You want it to cook down a little. Taste periodically and add more honey or hot stuff if desired. Just remember that if you use a DRY spice (like Tabasco pulp) the stuff will continue to get a little hotter in a few days!

Once cooked down to a consistency that you like, allow to cool and then divvy up into non-reactive containers. I'd prefer to put all in glass canning jars but Hubby likes to reuse the ketchup bottles (mine were colored red so we opted out this time around) or any other squirt top bottle.

Enjoy!

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, Memories, Tuesdays At Our Home, How To Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Making a Home, Show Me The Goods, Totally Tasty Tuesday, All My Bloggie Friends, Share Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent Show, Fat Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, The Gathering Spot, Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays, Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, Show Me What Ya Got, What's Cooking Wednesday, Its a Party!, Works For Me Wednesday, Sugar and Spice, Wake Up Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Real Fun, What I Whipped Up, Work It Wednesday, Lovely Ladies, Weekly Creative, Domestic Superhero, All Things Thursday, The Weekly Creative, Tasty Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Fabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday Obsessions, Frugal Food Thursday, Showcase Your Talent, Think Tank ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Foodie Friday, Get Real Frugal Friday, Frugal Fridays, Food on Friday, Freakin Did It Friday, Feature Friday, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Friday, Friday Favorite, Foodie Friday, A peek into my paradise, Foodie Friends Friday, Fun Friday blog hop, TGIF BLOG HOP, Weekend Retreat, What’s Shakin, Weekend Wonders, Weekend Potluck, Get Him Feed Anything Goes, Dwell on Fridays, Friday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link Party, Foodie Friday, TGI Friday Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie Friday, Inspirations, Weekend Wander, Weekly Roundup, Feature Yourself Saturday, The Party BunchI Gotta Create, Show and Tell Saturday, Show Off Weekend, Show Stopper Saturday, Sweet and Savory, The Weekend Creative, Weekend Potluck, Will Cook For Smiles, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Saturday Show & Tell, Super Saturday Show & Tell, Say G'day Saturday, Not Bad Sunday, Potluck Party, Sunday Showcase, Savory Sunday, Sundae Scoop, Super Sunday, Mop It Up Monday, Creative Monday, The Scoop, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Dinner Time Recipes, Show Me What You Got, Made By You Monday, Hunk of Meat Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, What’d You Do This Weekend, Marvelous Mess, Making It Cuter, Motivated Monday, Time To Sparkle, Mealtime Monday, Time To Sparkle, Makin You Crave Monday, Clever Chick, Creative Corner Blog Hop, Make Your Own Monday, Mix it Up Monday,  Save Money Monday

Week 74 Menu Plan - Using What We Have

I hope everyone had a wonderful 3 day weekend in honor of Memorial Day!

We fished on Saturday ... grilled and partied on Sunday and cleaned and relaxed on Monday. Oy! I couldn't deal with the kitchen and bar floor when I woke up at 7am Monday ... went back to bed and just fidgeted ... was mopping by 7:45am ... headache or not, it was driving me nuts knowing that there was sticky stuff all over. Where it came from, I'm not sure, but having 15 to 18 people going in and out of the pool, grilling, eating, drinking (them baby Guinness's??!!) and then repeat about 100 times and the floor took a beating.

But it was fun and I would do it again! :-) ... However, it should be noted that I am on the wagon in more ways than one:

Food (both intake and purchasing) has been a little out of control. Been a long time since I've seen the $200 on the screen at PUBLIX (Costco, I can accept, but NOT Publix). Even though I menu plan each and every week, we don,'t always stick to the plan, even remotely. Need to get back on track!

Booze ... ummm, I don't suppose I need to say much more on this. It seems I say I need to give it a rest every week, huh? I think this time, I mean it!

Sunshine ... I'm pretty brown right now and it's only LATE May ... Saturday, we left the dock at 8am and didn't get back til 4ish ... kept my long sleeve shirt on all day long as I knew I'd be out in the sun on Sunday ... I'm glad I did as Hubby got a little too much color on his arms (yes, we applied sunscreen ... it's the continuous reapplication that we forget to do).

I'm going to avoid the store with the exception of some milk and salad stuff ... and then probably either Thursday or Saturday, hit up Costco for the monthly run in (out of balsamic vinegar, low on olive oil, coffee, etc.) and then aiming to go on a reduced spending month for June because I can't recall anything major going on those 30 days!

And with all that ... here's what I'm shooting for this week!

Sunday - BBQ (ribs, chicken, burgers, dogs, chicken sausage) with baked beans, fruit tray (whose brilliant idea was it to marinate the watermelon in peach vodka anyways???), veggie tray, cheese and crackers, chips and dip and fresh tomato stuff ... used lots of Hubby's Special BBQ Sauce he made (promise, the recipe is up this week!)

Monday - repeat of Sunday, minus the watermelon, cheese and crackers, chips and dip

Tuesday - plan to cook up the rest of the burgers and call it a day! I might grab a bag of tater tots out of the freezer, just because ;-) ... hoping to have the energy to whip up some blue cheese dressing to top it all off with too!


Wednesday - sausage with peppers and onions. Will use the rest of the chicken sausage that was not cooked (I could easily toss these in the freezer, but I already have tons in there! A guest brought these on Sunday)

Thursday - soup and salad/sandwich, leftovers, whatever!

Friday - Chicken on the grill ... I'm aiming to get the freezers cleaned and organized at some point, hopefully this week, if not, that chore will be my Friday night activity ... hopefully keep me away from the blue mountains

Saturday - Hubby's choice...

What are YOU planning for the week?  Go check out Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Monday linkup party ... tons of ideas!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tomato, Mozzarella with Balsamic and Olive Oil

For years, Hubby would make this killer appetizer and I had NO idea it was actually called "CAPRESE SALAD"

I've had friends request that I bring this for a gathering ...



Doh. I've seen the NAME numerous times, just had no idea what it WAS! Yeah, coming for a self-proclaimed, self-taught foodie, that was slightly embarrassing.

So of course, the next time we were out at a more upscale Italian restaurant, we ordered it for the appetizer.

Bleh. 

What a disappointment.

Seriously. Do NOT spend the money for this in the restaurant when you can make a much larger, better tasting version in your own kitchen with little effort.

Seriously...tomato season is fast approaching (whee!!!) and you can always pick up the Sorrento sliced "fresh" mozzarella at your local grocery store to create this ...

Now remember, this is a Hubby recipe, so things are estimates, NEVER ever measured ;-)

3 nice size, ripe but firm tomatoes, sliced medium thickness.  If they are extra seedy/juicy, let them drain a bit
Fresh mozzarella slices, one for each slice of tomato. My tip is to not use too much cheese, if it's thick cut, then cut those slices in half and spread out over the tomatoes
fresh basil, julienned
equal parts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

TIP: Use these nifty little squirt bottles to keep olive oil and vinegars that you use often. I buy my stuff from Costco and hate lugging out the big bottle for a 1/4 cup of something!

Lay the tomatoes out on a nice serving tray. IF they are really juicy or seedy, you want to let them drain BEFORE you place them on the platter.

Top each slice of tomato with cheese.

Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a whisk til incorporated.

Drizzle the oil and vinegar mixture over the tomatoes/cheese ... use as much as you feel comfortable with. Personally, we like our stuff a little swimmy ;-)

Garnish with the fresh basil. Serve up with side plates and small forks and knives.

NOW ... If you want to be really fancy, simply make stacks of these like this:


Pretty, huh? Trust me, my photography skills are pretty crummy, it looks way cool to do it this way!



Oh yumm ... I can't believe some places charge upwards of $10 per appetizer (which is like, 4 slices of a tomato!) ... go ahead, treat yourself this weekend with this delicious appetizer!

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, Memories, Tuesdays At Our Home, How To Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Making a Home, Show Me The Goods, Totally Tasty Tuesday, All My Bloggie Friends, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Tuesday Talent Show, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, The Gathering Spot, Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays, Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, Show Me What Ya Got, What's Cooking Wednesday, Its a Party!, Recipe Swap, Works For Me Wednesday, Sugar and Spice, Wake Up Wednesday, Wheat Free Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Real Fun, What I Whipped Up, Work It Wednesday, Lovely Ladies, Weekly Creative, Domestic Superhero, All Things Thursday, The Weekly Creative, Tasty Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Crafty Thursday Obsessions, Frugal Food Thursday, Showcase Your Talent, Simple Lives Thursday, Foodie Friday, Get Real Frugal Friday, Frugal Fridays, Food on Friday, Freakin Did It Friday, Feature Friday, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Friday, Friday Favorite, Foodie Friday, A peek into my paradise, Foodie Friends Friday, Fun Friday blog hop, TGIF BLOG HOP, Weekend Retreat, What’s Shakin, Weekend Wonders, Weekend Potluck, Get Him Feed Anything Goes, Dwell on Fridays, Friday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link Party, Foodie Friday, Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie Friday, Inspirations, Weekend Wander, Simply Delicious Saturday, Weekly Roundup, Feature Yourself Saturday, I Gotta Create, Show and Tell Saturday, Show Off Weekend, Show Stopper Saturday, Sweet and Savory, The Weekend Creative, Weekend Potluck, Will Cook For Smiles, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Saturday Show & Tell, Super Saturday Show & Tell, Say G'day Saturday, Not Bad Sunday, Potluck Party, Sunday Showcase, Savory Sunday, Sundae Scoop, Super Sunday, Mop It Up Monday, Creative Monday, The Scoop, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Dinner Time Recipes, Show Me What You Got, Made By You Monday, Hunk of Meat Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, What’d You Do This Weekend, Marvelous Mess, Making It Cuter, Motivated Monday, Time To Sparkle, Mealtime Monday, Time To Sparkle, Makin You Crave Monday, Clever Chick, Creative Corner Blog Hop, Make Your Own Monday, Mix it Up Monday,  Save Money Monday