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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Menu Plan Week #144 - Whole30 Style Using What We Have

Happy Sunday ... and yes, it's that time of week again!

So. Let me just get this out of the way, right now:

I had pizza AND beer on Friday night. Oh, yes, I did. And, man, did I pay the price for it at 2am with a major case of heartburn and stomach ache. Ugh. I won't even talk about the joints in my hands ... they were pretty inflamed and still are today ... I've taken way too many Aleve in the past 24 hours which just reminds me that BEER may be the #1 culprit! Say it isn't so!

So, needless to say, I am calling a NEW start to the Whole30 plan starting on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28th ... trust me, I ate healthy the whole weekend, except that Saturday night, I was too lazy tired to spiralize the zucchini so ate REGULAR pasta with the family after Hubby slaved away all day making the red sauce ...

And that Man, as much as I love him, made a double batch of brownies. Flat out told him Sunday afternoon that those things had to go away ... like today. Ugh.  And then I think, crap, am I going to go through 48 hours of Kill All Things again???!!! Oh, I hope not!

So ... with my mind much more clearer today, I took advantage of the time and meal prepped ... and wrote out a menu.  Of course!

I sauteed shrooms, made the green beans, grilled onions and peppers, grilled some chicken breast, sliced up the 3 cucumbers in the fridge, made a batch of mayo and a small batch of balsamic & oil salad dressing. Seemed like a lot of work for what I got ...

*Shared on Instagram*

I made up 7 containers of meals and have a whole chicken breast left, lots of green beans (for breakfast!), some grilled veggies and shrooms too that will be used as sides for dinners this week.  Hopefully, I will finally get motivated to hit the gym and if that's the case, at least I have stuff prepped that I can just reheat quickly in a skillet with a little bit of ghee ... 

I did pretty well as far as shopping this past week: 1 trip to Whole Foods and spent $17, trip to the produce store and spent $8 and a trip to Publix and spent $30 ... I *think* I'm down for the month.  I do see a stop at Costco coming soon as we used all the olive oil up this weekend and ended up tapping in to the GOOD stuff that is NOT made for cooking with ... trust me, I will have a detailed list that I plan to stick with ... 

So, with that, here's what I'm looking forward to sharing this week:

Sunday - Hubby and the Boy has MORE pasta and Red Sauce, whereas I took the safe and easy way out with a salad with chicken ;-)  Had I had more time and energy, I would have tackled the spaghetti squash that I have but alas, time got away from me. The sauce ingredients were from the pantry, Hubby used 3 pounds of the grassfed beef I picked up a few weeks ago and pasta was in the pantry as well ... 

Monday - Turkey Burger with sauteed shrooms and grilled onions.  Hoping to make either sweet potato fries or rounds. Turkey burgers are from the freezer (Whole Foods a few weeks ago) and rest of ingredients from the fridge/pantry. Will wrap the burgers in butter lettuce whereas Hubby and kids will probably insist on a bun (pantry)

Tuesday - Taco Tuesday ... the usual for me, taco salad with guac!  I have taco meat already made in the freezer, balance of ingredients are in the pantry and fridge ... will make up a batch of pico since I have a lot of roma tomatoes, onions and jalapenos ... but NO cilantro! The Boy will be in charge, as usual, of the guac which is in the freezer (Costco) ...

Wednesday - Since we didn't get to this last week, I'm hoping to do a Chinese night again ... General Tso, Unrolled Egg Rolls and Cauli-rice. A little ambitious, I know, but fingers crossed ;-)  All approved ... will share the recipes if everything turns out! All ingredients in pantry and fridge

Thursday - BLT Boats/Wraps/Cups ... not sure WHAT to call them ;-) Will share the thought process behind them at a later time. I've got tons of bacon in the freezer and yes, sugar free stuff too (will cook turkey bacon for everyone else as that's what they prefer and the sugarfree stuff for me)

Friday - Chicago Style Hot Dogs ... didn't get around to that on Friday (obviously!) so tonight it is! I will share how I make mine a little more Whole30 later this week! Hot dogs from the freezer and balance of ingredients in fridge and pantry

Saturday - Steaks ... I've got a few T-bones in the freezer ... might offer up baked potatoes and roasted broccoli to go along ... 

Here's hoping that this board helps everyone stay on track with me! Yes, there are more than seven entrees, I added a few things for lunches too, just in case!

Looking forward to sharing with Organized Junkies Menu Plan Monday Party ... go check it out!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sweet Potato Rounds

I never really knew if I liked sweet potatoes or not ... I mean, heck, who doesn't like something covered in brown sugar (or maple syrup) and then marshmallows over the top? What I didn't like was the stringy-mushy texture of that stuff ... but I would take a little orange stuff and LOTS of toasted marshmallows during the holidays.

Now. Not so much. It does kind of suck when you grow up and learn to read the labels and whats good for you and what's really not. Being an adult does stink sometimes!

So ... with the Whole30 thing underway (which by the way, I jumped ship on Day 6 at lunch time and hurried up and caught up to the boat and jumped back on asap!) I'm back to experimenting ...

And ...

I give you SWEET without the cloying, sticky stuff ...

This was so stinkin easy to do that I'm actually surprised I never tried it before ...


Grab yourself a couple of sweet potatoes ... I used 3 here and peel them.

Once peeled, go ahead and slice them thin. I think mine were about 1/4 inch or so thick, I wanted them somewhat thin to cook faster.

Toss them in a bowl and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and season up with some salt, pepper, garlic powder (not salt), and combine with your hands to get them all coated.

Fire up your grill to medium high, and lay them out flat on the grill. I used this nifty grill mat which is about my 5th time using it and I'm in love with it ... I need to do a product review for you as I think it's a great thing to have on hand!

Allow to cook on one side til it starts to get a little charred, then flip. Cook this side til they are tender, but not to the point of falling apart. These took about 15 minutes or so and I was racing against the weather as we had some pretty bad rain this past weekend.

My original plan was to use them as "buns" for the sliders we were having but after the first one like that, I simply ate them plain, like fries.

Yes, I will be making these again in the very near future!

So, tell me, do YOU like sweet potatoes? All mushed up? Or intact, like this?

Looking forward to sharing over at some of these GREAT Blog Parties ... go check them out!

P.S. Are you following my progress over on Instagram? You should ... I'm trying to post my meals as they go!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Naked Pulled Pork

I say "naked" because, it's without any BBQ Sauce ...

And surprise, THIS time, Hubby ate it and said it was pretty damn good. Yeah, he said that about the green beans too ... maybe his back pain was just making him super complacent?

What surprises me more than anything is that this humble hunk of pork can be transformed into something so freakin' simple with just a few ingredients ...

3 to 5 pound pork roast (I used a boneless pork butt this last time which makes me wonder, how is it boneless??)
1 tsp himalayian salt (the pink stuff)
half bottle of liquid smoke
1/2 cup water

Grab your crockpot.

Usually, I trim some of the fat, but this last time I didn't. So I guess it works either way ;-) Trim or not, it's up to you!

Grab a tsp or so of salt and sprinkle it all over everything and then massage the butt . Not a lot, you don't want anyone to give you funny looks, you know?

Toss that bad boy in your crock pot, fat side up.

Add your half bottle of liquid smoke all around and over the top,

Pour in the 1/2 cup water around the sides.

Put the lid on the crockpot.  Set on low for 10 hours or more.

Now. 10 hours could be fine. I've had times where it's a big bone in hunk of meat and it takes 16 hours ... you want the meat to basically fall apart when you stab it with a fork.

Once cooked, pull out of the crockpot and let it cool a little until you can touch.  Once it's cooled enough, pull it apart, making sure to pull the slimy fatty stuff and discard that.

Go ahead, take a taste. I think you will be surprised! If you feel it's a little dry, add a little of the juice from the crockpot and add that to the meat.

Go ahead and serve this up with a side of green beans or whatever else you'd like ... no need for a bun or bbq sauce which makes this a family friendly Whole30 meal!


Looking forward to sharing with some of these GREAT Blog Parties ... go check them out!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Menu Plan Week #143 - Using What We Have

Soooo....Thursday morning, I got upset, threw down the kitchen towel and said TODAY IS THE DAY ...

Whole30, that is.

I've not quite relayed that exact message to the family but they certainly know something is up.

Saturday, I woke up at 6am, STARVING, but no where near ready to wake up ... so I grabbed a Honey Crisp Apple and sat in the guest room watching the sky change colors ... Kitten was sweet enough to join me while I chomped away on the apple. Just for the record, cats don't care for apples ;-)

So after the apple and a glass of water, I went back to bed ... it's been a rough week. FINALLY rolled out of bed around 10:30 or so and made myself some real breakfast. But man, the headache I had ... which continued all through the day and night ... even with Advil and tons of water. I'm thinking it's the coffee/cream/sugar/beer withdrawal.  Seriously, so bad, I could only hang out with the kids poolside for about 45 minutes, as much as I wanted to get some sun that day ... oh well.

So ... without the family KNOWING exactly whats going on (it's a mute point since I prepare 90% of the meals), here's what I'm aiming for:

Sunday - sliders - picked up at WF Friday, grass fed ... served them over sweet potato rounds (Aldis) with some sliced avocado (Aldis) and Roma tomatoes (Aldis). I offered up a little salad on the side too and yes, the lettuce was from Aldis as well! I need to do a post on the sweet potatoes as they were pretty tasty! FYI ... Hubby used buns as he's not quite on this kick yet.

Monday - 4 Way Chili ... chili was made on Friday night and I'm excited for this meal! Fingers crossed the day isn't as bad as it looks at this time!

I will skip the cheese this time and probably add some sliced avocado

Tuesday - Smokey Crock of Pork ... I'm offering up over cabbage, not quite coleslaw and for those who insist, bbq sauce and buns

Wednesday - Fingers crossed that all is going well as I want to make some Chinese this night ... General Tso and a new to me recipe, Un-Rolled Egg Rolls ... if all goes well, I'll share!

Thursday - changing things up this week as the Boy wants to make something special for his girl, so it's Taco Thursday ....

Friday - Chicago Style Hot Dogs ... I have a new technique that I want to try for myself ;-) ... I'll keep you posted! Obviously, mine will not have a bun or that funky green relish ;-(

Saturday - Hubby's choice, but will steer him towards some of the Tbones steaks in the freezer!

What are you cooking this week? And ... I gotta ask, have any of you done this Whole30 before and if so, how did it go? I'm on Day 4 and uhm, finally, at 6pm, the headache and stomach ache has gone away ... quite certain it was from insufficient food intake the past few days as I fell asleep last night before dinner was ready (Hubby was making chops on the grill) and then I slept for 2 hours this afternoon ... WTF??

Looking forward to sharing over at Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Monday ... go check it out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Frugal Tip - Freezing Ground Beef

You do know that I buy my ground beef from The Fresh Market on Tuesdays because it's $2.99 per pound for 85/15, right?

I mean, heck, that's a STEAL now days! Beef is EXPENSIVE anymore!

So, when I go every few weeks, I buy about 8 to 10 pounds of the stuff. Which, now that I'm on a stricter food budget of $125.00 a week, I've really got to watch what I'm buying!

AND THEN ... I found Aldis ground beef:

That's pretty good pricing for 90/10 and 93/7 ground beef, don't you think? The 73/27 is WAY better than the $3.59 I saw it for at Publix recently! Just for the record, Hubby prefers to mix one pound of the 73/27 with the 90/10 or even the 85/15 as it makes for a juicier burger.

So ... yes, I stocked up on some of this too the last time I was at Aldis ... and NOW, what to do with 8 to 10 pounds of beef?  I am not a proponent of cooking it all up at once like some do ... I mean, heck, some days we want burgers, other days, tacos, and then of course, there's the stray meatloaf night that comes around ... oh, and what if I want to make some red sauce with ground beef instead of italian sausage? Cooked ground beef is NOT going to work in most of those situations!

So, grab yourself some of those less expensive fold top sandwich bags and lets get to work!

Put your hand inside the baggie.

Grab a hunk of beef and turn the bag inside out over the beef.  BONUS in that your hands NEVER had to touch the beef!

Drop the baggie on a scale (and try not to think of the old cocaine cowboy movies at this time!) and try to get roughly 1 pound of beef in the bag.

Fold the top over and secure it.

Slap a label on the little bag.

Insert the little baggie of beef in to a big Ziploc freezer bag.

Repeat til all packaged up. Close Ziploc bag, squeezing out the excess air. Toss in freezer.

When needed, grab your one pound pre-measured baggie and toss in a bowl in the fridge overnight to defrost.

By the following day (or if you take it out in the morning, that evening), when you are ready to cook, the ground beef will be defrosted and ready to cook!

TIP: Something that Hubby and I always say we should do after patting out 3 pounds of ground beef for burger night (generally we are feeding 6 adults and everyone wants leftovers for lunch!) is that we could do the same thing with the burgers, mix them up, pat them out and freeze them individually in baggies ... it's something that I'm sure we will try down the road!

Do you package up your ground beef when you buy a large quantity? I know a lot of people who buy beef from Zacon in 40 pound boxes ... that sounds a little overwhelming to me!

Looking forward to sharing at some of these Great Parties ... go check them out!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chicken Piccata - It's Whats For Dinner

This is one of the favorites of the household, and for a while there, I made it ALL THE TIME.

Then it sort of became "not so special" when I did make it, because we were getting used to having it ALL THE TIME.

So it's been awhile.

I've had it on the menu plan a few times but life interferes so I haven't made it ...

But this week ... I figured I MUST make it this week ...

Therefore, It's What's For Dinner!

It's a fairly easy recipe to throw together, and there are few steps you can do in the morning before heading to slave away in the office for 9 hours ...

4 chicken breast, sliced in half (so you have 8 pieces now)
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
12 tbs of butter (slice each tbs off a stick and set on plate)
10 tbs olive oil (just have tbs and oil handy)
2/3 cups lemon juice (yup, I squeezed the lemons, 2 1/2)
1 cup chicken stock (I used the granules and 1 cup hot water)
1/2 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped (had to brave the wind and rain to go cut it from the garden)

Salt and pepper the chicken. Dredge in flour and shake off excess.

Add 3 tbs of oil to skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tbs butter. Once the butter is melted and sizzling, add 3 chicken pieces. Do not move for 3 minutes. Flip over and brown other side. Remove from pan and place on dish.  Repeat all over again til all the chicken is done (NOTE: I did not need to add anything on the last batch to pan so I only used 8 tbs oil and 10 tbs butter)

When done cooking chicken, cover plate with foil. Add lemon juice, chicken stock, capers to pan and bring to boil and scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan.

Add all chicken back to the sauce and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer 5 minutes and once again, remove chicken to dish.

Add 2 tbs butter and whisk vigorously. Pour over the chicken.

Top with the chopped parsley.

We normally serve over linguini, and I prefer the garden variety (multi-colored)... And we don't have a LOT of pasta on the plate, but more than enough chicken and sauce, just the way I like it, the exact opposite of a restaurant!  Hubby and I added just a touch of Parmesan cheese to ours. NOTE: Do you know, this dish would have been, minimum, $12 a plate? Seriously.

TIPS: I premeasured everything earlier in the day (except the oil) and had it all on standby to make my life easier since I wanted to eat dinner EARLIER than normal for a Saturday. So the chicken broth, lemon juice and capers were in one LARGE measuring glass.

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Menu Plan Week 142 - Using What We Have

I did pretty good this past 6 days of staying out of the stores after that last Sunday where I blew 50% of my grocery budget ... then I did the quick stop at Whole Foods on Friday morning and spent $22 .... and then again on Saturday, Hubby wanted to make some Shepherds Pie with shredded beef ... WF had their beef roast for $5.99 a pound, same as Publix and I'd much rather shop at WF, you know? So another $45 out the door on Saturday ... but have a ton of leftovers for lunches and dinners this week! Score!!  I'm pretty happy in that I stayed under the $125 budget I recently put in place for food per week.

I made it a point to prep some food Sunday before I ran out to do some sight-seeing (aka house drive-bys with Hubby) ... I grilled up a LOT of zucchini, squash, onions, red peppers and green peppers and cooked 3 HUGE chicken breast (for lunches this week) and sauteed 2 pounds of green beans.

Then I went ahead and made up 3 shepherd pie and green bean containers for lunches, tossed together 3 diced chicken with grilled veggies in another 3 containers. So there you have it, 6 lunches with a choice of which one you want :-)

Yes, I feel like I accomplished a lot early in the day!

I'm aiming to continue with avoiding the store for the week again til Friday/Saturday ... Costco has been calling my name but I am so avoiding it lately ... I know I need to renew my membership which will add $110 on to the bill and well, quite honestly, I'm not looking forward to that! So ... I will keep making do with what we have while I can!

Here's what I'm looking at this week:

Sunday - Sheperds Pie and green beans ... leftovers from Saturday night ... Hubby made enough to feed an army and it was just him and I last night! (FYI ... because I'm trying to stay more Paleo, I picked out the corn ... the rest of the stuff is acceptable as is for me)

Monday - Princess wants to make Chicken Stirfry. Go right ahead, girly! Chicken in freezer as are the veggies

Tuesday - Surprise, it's Taco Tuesday!  I think I'm going to lean towards the Meatless Tacos ... I've got all the ingredients, including the coleslaw in the fridge! I'll probably just have grilled veggies with chicken


Wednesday - Chicken Piccata ... I think the Princess was going to make this too ;-) ... chicken in freezer, balance of ingedients in fridge and pantry. I will make up a small batch of spiralized zucchini for me and the Princess (what she wants too) in place of the pasta

Thursday - Leftovers! I know that we will have some Shepherds Pie leftover (which will be going in the freezer if we still have a lot left come Wednesday night).  I'm sure we will have a few other odds and ends to eat up too! I have a class and seminar this evening and as I'm typing this, trying to remember if it's 5 to 9 or 5 to 8 ... not that the last hour is really going to make a difference at the end of the day!

Friday - Pizza and Wings ... frozen pizzas in freezer (taking up space) as are the wings ... I think I will just go with a plain Salt & Vinegar Wings. Since I'm trying to stay more Paleo, I will make an egg with tomato frittata for me

(I'm cooking these this time AND using my grill mat ... review to be posted soon)

Saturday - Hubby's choice ... I have some thick pork chops in the freezer that I might offer up to him since it's been awhile ;-)

What are YOU making this week??

Looking forward to sharing over at Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Party ... go check it out!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Frugal Activities #47

So, traveling back home over a holiday weekend is probably NOT the best thing, you know?

Anyhow. Anyway. Whatever.

We are home. Have been for almost a few week now.

Sunday, I had to hit up the grocery store. No eggs. No milk (Hubby, not for me). No salad stuff. Really ... NOTHING except frozen stuff in the freezer, which, at the end of the day is useless if it's a frozen hunk of something, right?

So. I blew 50% of my grocery budget that Sunday. Really.

I held out the FULL week ... but come Friday (it's I DON'T CARE FRIDAY!) morning, I stopped at Whole Foods at 8:05am (!!??) to pick up a bottle of Tessemaes Lemon Garlic Dressing since I knew I had just a drop left in the office and I've been getting home LATE at night so no time (poor excuse) to make my own salad dressing (after I just shared the Honey Mustard stuff!) ... anyway. It was on sale ($4.99) so I picked up 2 bottles for home  and office ... then spotted the rainbow carrots on sale, grabbed one bag ... saw the green beans on sale, said oh yeah, don't need to hit up Costco after all ... and proceeded to grab some Honey Crisp apples (brownie points with the boss!), salted chocolate squares (my desk stash) and paid $22 and left.


The week wasn't bad before hand. Other than the stops at the store on Sunday.

Oh. And the food waste! I specifically told the KIDS who consider themselves ADULTS (22 and 24) that this, this and this were in THIS fridge, and that, that and that were in THAT fridge ... so make sure you eat it up.

Ahem. I come home and guess what? Yup, this, this, this and that, that, that are pretty much taking up residence. Ugh.

So. Do I want to do a Frugal Activities Breakdown for you? NOT REALLY. I think the above rant states it all ;-(

I DID take all my lunches to work this week and though my Boss brought me lunch on Friday, I brought home the leftovers (both the salad I took and the one that I had at lunch). And dinner, all at home! So, I guess that was a success?

Pulled Pork with Bean Sprouts, Cashews and Cilantro (the Boss and I wish I had it!)

Salad from home, pawned off to Hubby for dinner (I ate leftovers!)

I'm hoping to share a future post soon about the 50/30/20 "Ideal" Budget Plan. Surprisingly enough, I fall squarely in the middle of it ... who would have thought??

So tell me, HONESTLY, were you intentionally and successfully Frugal this past week?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fast Chillin' Beers

Odd, when we were in Indiana, I couldn’t buy COLD beer at the grocery store. WTF?

So, not one to be intimidated when it comes to an ice cold brewski, I made a fast chill bucket.

Well, in this case, a fast chill bowl. Wish I had a bucket so I could have done all 6 but I was stuck with 2 bottles and a somewhat large bowl.

 What you need:

Large bucket/bowl/container
Beer of choice

Toss your beers in the bucket/bowl/container.

Add some ice. I was using a slow as molasses ice maker at the house (took 3 days to get a decent amount of ice, talk about roughing it!) and I went LIGHT on the ice as I didn’t want to use it all up … add water to that and then let the beers sit for 30 minutes, rotating the bottles every so often to keep them chillin throughout.

So … I was getting impatient. So grabbed the Patron and sliced up a lime as I needed one anyway with the corona and did a SHOT of tequila while waiting. Oops. Not that I recommend that to ANY ONE but hey, I was on vacation ;-)

As always, drink responsibly!

Looking forward to sharing this Tip over at some of these great Parties … go check them out!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Bunch of Bananas

This may be a no brainer to some of you, but I am amazed that others don't know this ...

Have you ever brought home a bunch of green bananas, telling yourself that they will somehow ripen one at a time, instead of the whole bunch in one day, sometimes, within hours??

And the next thing you know, there are brown specks all over the skin, and the younger people in the house will refuse to go anywhere near them NOW!

Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of banana bread, so those overly ripe, soon to go south bananas will not be used for that. But at 69 cents to 99 cents a pound, I'll be darned if they go in the trash! No Way!

Go ahead and do this.

Peel all the ripe bananas and break them in half and toss in a ziplock bag.

Squeeze the air out of the bag and put in the freezer.

Tomorrow morning, or the next day, week, whenever you want to make a smoothie, pull out 2 halves of the banana, toss in the blender with the rest of your smoothie ingredients and let it rip.

Now you've got a creamy, somewhat frozen, sweeter smoothie. Yummm ...

Check out some of these smoothies I make with bananas ...

Feel Better Smoothie

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Chocolate Covered Cherries Smoothie

Banana Nut Smoothie

Green Smoothie

Go ahead, freeze them bananas and give a one of these smoothies a try!

NOTE: I've read that I can just whip up the frozen bananas in the Vitamix and have a faux soft serve ice cream ... I've not tried that yet, but will some day soon when I have an abundance of frozen bananas ... we seem to be going through them quite quickly lately.

Looking forward to sharing at some of these great Parties ... go check them out!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Honey Mustard Dressing - Grain & Dairy Free

I love making my own salad dressings ... I have a much better handle on what I'm consuming when I do so. You know that MOST shelf stable salad dressing are full of funky ingredients, right? So why not just take a few extra minutes and make your own and be healthier?

This is a dressing that I've been making for several years now. Back in the day, it was all about Kens Honey Mustard Dressing ... until I started reading labels. Whoops. The 2nd ingredient was HFCG.

So ... I had to pretty much kick my all time favorite dressing to the curb. *See how it says "Great for DIPPING"?? That's what it was all about for me!

But then I found this great recipe and I've been making it ever since that day!

Here's what  you need:

1/2 c olive oil. I've started to use the "light tasting" stuff for my dressings
3 tbs regular vinegar
2 tbs water
1/4 c honey 
1/4 c grey poupon mustard
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
dash of black pepper

Measure all in a glass jar and mix well. This will taste best if you make it in advance and let it sit in refrigerator for about 4 hours before using.  

Go ahead, use it for dipping! Or just keep it simple and use as a salad dressing ... either way, you'll be glad you decided to go healthier!

Looking forward to sharing at some of these great Parties ... go check them out!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Menu Plan Week #141 - Using What We Have

Ahhh ... did you notice that I've NOT shared  menu plan these past two weeks?  I was away on vacation and well, it was a little difficult to plan while away ;-) We actually sort of winged it by asking each other and family members around what shall we eat this evening?

Can I just tell you how much I HATED not knowing what we were going to eat until the last minute?Those dashes to the grocery store to pick up something to complete a meal were killing me. It's a 30 minute drive, minimum to a store around those parts ... much as I loved the solitude (and sketchy cell and Internet service) I do miss the easy access to a grocery store when needed!

So, we're back. Which means, YEAH I get to menu plan! And boy, am I ever ready to get back in the groove of things again ... I've got several things that I'm looking forward to doing besides menu planning so keep an eye out!

First off, I want to get the grocery budget back under control. It hasn't been so bad the past few months BUT I need to really get focused. September is an easy month for me, financially, but big things start to kick in for October, November and December so I'd like to be a little proactive and stash more bennies away on a consistent basis.  Ideally, $125 a month should be sufficient (don't you think?) and if I was to stick with that, I'd be fine. I mean, heck, that's $500 a month and it should be good! IF and WHEN I do make it to Costco, I need to stick with the simple things, such as romaine lettuce, broccoli, eggs and milk. Is there really anything else that I need from there? No, not really.

I had made it a point to clean out all 3 refrigerators before Hubby and I left town and let the kids know what was left that would hopefully be eaten up by them ... uhm, wrong. So first things first was cleaning out the stuff ... then I had to make a replenishing grocery list and go shopping. On a weekend, no less. Just so you know, HALF of my grocery budget is gone for the month. O M G. Granted, $75 of it was booze (uhm, beer for Hubby,  beer for me and then I'm not sure what happened to the Ciroc but it was $34 for a small bottle! Holy crap! Then there was the $80 in ground beef and ground chicken and ground turkey ... I'm sure I have plenty in the freezers but Hubby wanted some 75/25 (or whatever it REALLY is) ground beef to mix with the lean beef for hamburgers and I wanted some ground chicken and turkey ... before you know it, I had a ton of ground protein in the cart. Joy!  I definitely will be staying FAR away from any grocery stores til the weekend!

So, with that in mind, here's what we are planning for the week ahead:

Sunday - since no one but Hubby and I are home, I'm pulling some shrimp from the freezer and making a Simple Shrimp Dish. I know Hubby's going to want more so I've also got some broccoli to steam in the fridge

Monday - Labor Day and the last official party day of the summer ... burgers and dogs. Ground beef was bought Sunday, dogs in freezer. Buns were picked up at Aldis on Sunday and fixins are all in the pantry and freezer. The Boy wants to make some grilled veggies using the new skewers. Fine by me, kid! He plans to use jalapenos, onions, grape tomatoes, peppers, squash and zucchini. I'll be wrapping my burger and dogs in some yummy butter lettuce leaves ...

Tuesday - Surprise, it's Taco Tuesday ... ground beef picked up Sunday and the rest of the fixins are in the fridge and pantry!  Hoping to cook up the meat Monday morning as part of my meal prep! The Boy will be in charge of the prepping the fixins. He will (I know!) use another package of the Wholly Guacamole in the freezer. I will have a simple taco salad, as always!

Wednesday - Chicken on the grill with a side of salad and leftover veggies from Monday ...

Thursday - leftovers or Sandwiches. I've got some yummy lunch meat in the freezer that I'll pull out in the morning if it looks like slim pickins ... I might also pull out the black bean soup that's in the freezer too ... If we do sandwiches, I'll be using more butter lettuce (this stuff is pretty good and holds up well IF you wash and chill ahead of time)

Friday - Most likely chicken thighs (freezer) cooked on the grill and roasted potatoes ... I need to do a post on how WE make the roasted taters as they are pretty good!

Saturday - Hubby's choice but will push him towards the T-Bone steaks we have in the freezer with roasted broccoli ... we'll see what's going on this day!

What are YOU planning to make this week?

Looking forward to sharing over at the Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Monday Party ... go check it out!

*For those of you who are curious, yes, I'm back to trying to go Paleo ... I stuck with it somewhat on vacation but can I just tell you how messed up my stomach was when I ate heavy grains (bread stuff)? Made me sad to realize that maybe that IS some of my issues?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Frugal Activities #46

Today is our travel day back to South Florida after 10 days of mostly wonderful times visiting friends and family in Chicago and NW Indiana.

I say ‘mostly’ because, well, it was expensive, and the start of our trip was a little stressful thanks to Tropical Storm Erika. Thankfully, she just decided to shut down shop and dissipate, but not before we waffled back and forth as to whether to cancel the trip period, then purchasing last minute airline tickets to return a week sooner … then there was the lack of cell or Wi-Fi coverage where we were in Indiana so we opted to just buy a Verizon jetpack and 3 gigs or whatever they are called worth of data so that both Hubby and I could keep up with our work emails as we are both slammed right now.

Then, factor in the fact that I just “had to” go get a wash and blow out … which wouldn’t have been so very bad, after all, except, I’m such a wimp and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings that the first place I went to (inside a Walmart, what the HECK was I thinking) the girl gave me a FRIZZY blowout … just like I would do … I left there and met up with a gal name Kate at Aveno who took care of me in no time flat … then off to get my nails (and toes) done … because they were so split from all the dishwashing I’ve been doing because there is NO dishwasher at the house where we stayed.

Don’t get me wrong, it was FUN but, I may have gotten a little bitchy a few times (sorry Hubby, since he was the one that got the brunt of it all) … things just didn’t pan out the way I had hoped, which is probably the story of 99% of vacations ;-)

So … with that, I think it’s time to get back on board with the weekly Frugal Happenings post, don’t you agree? 

So, here’s some of the Frugal things we did this past week:

1. Picked tomatoes from the garden, spotted 2 pounds of bacon in the fridge and promptly told all we were having BLT’s for dinner. Served up a side of oriental cabbage salad to go with the meal.

2.  Hubby was thrilled to see Bryers ice cream for $2.99 so he picked up THREE containers. Like he said, that was to price of ONE container back home. Ugh.

3.  Said no thank you to the product the first hair girl was trying to sell me. Uhm, honey, do you see what my hair looks like using that stuff? :-(

4.  Kept the weekly and bi-weekly withdrawal to the savings account active. I was tempted to stop for the 2 weeks ($300.00 total) but then said no, I need to be disciplined). Glad I did.   

5.  Took the Digit balance when it hit $100.00 and applied it towards a credit card additional payment. I was originally going to keep the Digit money as part of the savings but then figured I was better off applying that to pay down of debt as that’s an emergency too!  So far I’ve paid $500 down this way. Speaking of which, have you signed up with them yet?? Way cool!

6.  The few times we did go out while in Indiana and Chicago, we limited our alcohol consumption which kept the bill way down. First I thought it was because the food and stuff was just cheaper, but it’s also because we each only had a drink or two while we were out!

7.  Opted to buy the 6 pack instead of 12 pack of beer at the store. It was cheaper that way (no kidding!) and it kept me from consuming too much. Did I mention that my pants are fitting way looser in the waistband this week??

8.  Set up all my bill payments for the first half of month before we left so that I wouldn’t forget and incur any additional late charges.

9.  Also, made it a point to get cash for the trip and stuck with cash only for about 85% of the time. I still have money in my wallet which is sort of nice to come home with!

And of course, full disclosure on the NON-Frugal Activities:

1.  Hair. That was a costly mistake and I should have went with my gut instinct from the get go.

2.  When we got to Chicago, to kill time before check-in at the hotel, we stopped and Hubby had a facial, I had a massage. With upgrades. Oops.

3.  Went and had my face shot up before we left also. Thankfully, the doc likes me (we share the same birthday) and gave me a $200 discount, but still, it was expensive. Totally worth it to ME but not Frugal at all.

4.  Groceries. I overbought. I had limes, oranges, apples, bacon, celery, water, etc. I took everything over to my sister-in-laws house before we left … her household has shrunk also, but at least I know they are a non-food waste family ;-)

5.  Ended up buying MORE data for $90 as the 3 gigs did NOT last very long at all with me and Hubby both on the emails and internet (hey, I can’t totally neglect the blog, you know??)

That’s all I can come up with at this time … surely there had to have been MORE Frugal activities, as well as NON-Frugal, but, this is a start to becoming MORE aware, yet again.

Have you been intentionally Frugal lately? Share in the comments what you’ve been up to lately!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Peach Vodka Seabreeze

*To keep this grain free, go with Circo Vodka which is made with grapes instead of potatoes*

Originally, I had these pegged as a refreshing, summertime drink, but you know what? They've floated my boat just fine through the South Florida winter months and another summer too ;-)

I am not usually one to be using a martini glass, simply due to the spill factor ... but yes, I do occasionally. Someday's I just want to be *special*.

Most times, I use a rock glass. Great for making a toast and for putting the glass down quickly while laughing, which, if you get a small group of girlfriends drinking these, you will be!

And then, of course, during a BBQ/Pool Party ... you gotta bring out the Solo Cups ... and everyone sing the song now! Red Solo Cup, I fill you up ... 


Ok, are you ready for a super yummy, lip smacking adult beverage?

Peach Vodka (I am a firm believer that you need to buy a better brand, not the Gordon stuff or something of that class ... if you are prone to headaches, do buy the good stuff, PLEASE!) I've switched to Circoc because I'm trying to avoid grains (hence, beer really SHOULD be off limits ... another post on Angry Orchard is coming soon)
Pink Grapefruit Juice ... I buy the refrigerated stuff, and yes, I spend a little more money on this too
Cranberry Juice ... prefer you NOT use the Cranberry Juice COCKTAIL stuff but the real juicy juice stuff!

Fill your glass with ice.  Add vodka to desired amount (about 1/3). Pour almost to top with grapefruit juice and add a splash of cranberry. Give a quick stir, make a toast and sip!

Lick your lips, lean towards your girlfriend (or Hubby!) and say "We've got a Winner!"


As always, please drink responsibly which means, do NOT drink and drive, please!

Looking forward to sharing at some of these GREAT PARTIES! Go check them out!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Oriental Cabbage Salad

*While in Indiana, I'm trying to make a few of our favorite things to share with family here ... this is a recipe that my mother-in-law made all the time ... it made my niece tear up when she said she hadn't had this since Grandma passed away*

Most people like this, even if it's based on cabbage. Just an absolute delicious salad for those summer bbqs!

Bag of coleslaw (or just plain cabbage, shredded, small to medium size head)
8 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup peanuts (or other nuts you like), toasted and cooled (used plain spanish peanuts)
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted and cooled (skipped as I didn't have any)
2 pkgs ramen noodles, crushed
1/2 red pepper, chopped


4 tbs sugar. You can use a sugar substitute of choice if desired 
I used 3 packets of Stevia in the Raw and it was perfect!! I may do it this way from now on
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)
2 tsp salt (I've always used less)
6 tbs rice wine vinegar
*or, you can do like I sometimes do and just use the seasoning packet and omit the salt and pepper*

Place all veggies in a large mixing bowl.

Just before serving, mix in the seeds/nuts, crushed noodles and toss gently with the salad dressing. Serve.

*Feel free to not dress the complete salad. Serve up smaller bowl and replenish as needed (only because the leftovers will be soggy but still yummy!)

Looking forward to sharing at some of these GREAT PARTIES! Go check them out!