Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkey and the fixins....

My husband's brothers and their families will be joining us for Thanksgiving this year. We are so excited to be hosting Thanksgiving dinner in our home, and excited to be able to show off Colorado to them! (Hopefully Colorado will cooperate and show its best side. ;)

Of course, any time our family gets together, we congregate around food. It is typically my mother-in-law who does the cooking (and she does a GOOD job!) so it is a new experience for me to be in charge of all of the food. I have been planning the menu for weeks. Ha!

Aside from the every day meals, I have been working on the Thanksgiving feast. It is much easier for me to stick with the traditional fare.....his family likes tradition. ;) But I wanted a bit of variety, so I am trying a few new recipes or tweaking old ones.

Here is the menu:

* roast turkey (this is the recipe I am going to try) with gravy
*mashed potatoes (recipe borrowed from one of my fave bloggers....I will do mine in the oven)
*stuffing (of the boxed variety...sigh)
*green bean casserole (because we are old-school like that...but I found a new twist!)
*broccoli casserole (in case people don't like my new green bean casserole)
*cranberry sauce....just the canned variety (which happens to be one of my weaknesses) because there was a massive sale!
*cranberry-apple pie
*pumpkin-chocolate chip cheesecake....mmmmm

We will be eating at 1pm, so I decided to serve appetizers for dinner. I will be too stuffed to move to the table to get them, but maybe someone will appreciate them. I am serving a meat/cheese/cracker tray, as well as chips/salsa, and a homemade hummus recipe that I am stoked about! I will share it next week (when I can add pictures of it.) That will be served with fresh vegetables to dip.

What do you make for your Thanksgiving dinners? Do never know when I might need to host Thanksgiving again!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I can't spell it but it sure tasted good!

My friend Barb was at my house a few weeks ago, and saw the Mother Of All Zucchinis sitting on my kitchen counter. Obviously, she was slightly curious as to what I thought I was going to do with such a large specimen. And frankly, I was not sure myself......

I had already tried grilled zucchini and had a large supply of grated zucchini tucked into the freezer, ready for zucchini-bread-making. I had diced another one, in preparation for use in soups and stirfry......but I was stumped when it came to using up this overly-large zucchini. My family could only take so much.

That is when Barb told me about some dish her family always makes (which I cannot pronounce and she cannot spell, so we will just call it "Yummy Mexican Zucchini Dish") from here on out.
It was a very simple recipe........

"Yummy Mexican Zucchini Dish"

--ground beef
--zucchini, diced (I cut out the center part because it was stringy)
--frozen corn (1 bag)
--1 tomato, finely diced
--salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Cook the meat first, until brown. Drain. Season and add zucchini, cook until soft. Add corn and tomatoes--cover and let the flavors simmer together for about 15 minutes over low heat.

And there you have it--Yummy Mexican Zucchini Dish! I made it one night when I was going to be gone for dinner, and I came home to NO LEFTOVERS. My family devoured it! So if you have gigantic zucchinis sitting around, with no purpose in life, this is a good way to make them feel needed...... ;-)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Squishy bananas, Mom!"

I just tried this recipe for breakfast. This blog is great to use as a resource, when you have ingredients to use up! We happened to have 3 overripe bananas....... :-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If life gives you apples.....

......make homemade applesauce!!!

I remember going to my great-grandma's house in Redding, California, and being allowed to go out to the storage cellar by the garage and pick a jar of homemade applesauce, to go with our dinner. It is a wonderful memory, not only because I was allowed to help my grandma, but because I knew how good the applesauce was! She made it herself, from the apples that grew on her small country acreage. I always vowed that *someday* I would make homemade applesauce, just like Grandma Frances.

Fast-forward 23 years (it took me a bit longer than most, to fulfill my childhood dream)......

My friend's backyard apple tree produced a large harvest this year, so she invited me over to pick some. They were small, but had a good tart flavor. I knew what I wanted to make with them.....

I found several recipes online, but none of them sounded exactly like what I wanted. So, as I often do, I blended my favorite parts and tweeked the recipe to work how I liked.
I wanted it as simple as possible, with as little "hands-on" time as possible. Here is the result....

{Chunky Applesauce}

8 cups apples, sliced and peeled
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 T. white sugar
1 T. cinnamon
3/4 cup water

Cook on low for several hours, stirring and mushing (yes, that is a technical cooking term) occasionally with a potato masher. Add more water if necessary, to gain desired thickness. Cool and place in freezer-safe containers. (You could also can this applesauce, if you have the energy and a whole day with nothin' to do. ;-)

*I am making another batch today, which I will try in the slow cooker.*

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegan if I wanna be.....

Ever have one of those nights where you have NOTHING in the house to make for dinner?

I have those kinds of nights often.

The thing is, if I really dig around, I CAN find something to just takes some creativity on my part. {Which I do not always have after a full day of homeschooling and daycare.... :-}

The last time I had one of "those nights", I concocted a dish that I had never made before: vegetable pot pie. I was fresh out of meat, but I had plenty of veggies sitting around, waiting to be cooked up.

I made the crust from scratch {cuz that makes anything taste better} and then mixed a can of cream of chicken soup with all of the veggies I could find in the house.
It really turned out well......we had no leftovers!

{Homemade Chicken-less Pot Pie}

For the Crust: 2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
6-7 tablespoons cold water

In a bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in the shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide dough in half so that one ball is slightly larger than the other. Roll out larger ball to fit into a 9-in or 10-in pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Trim pastry even with edge. Pour desired filling into crust. Roll out second ball; cut slits in pastry. Position over filling. Trim pastry to 1 in. beyond edge of pie plate. Fold top crust over bottom crust. Flute edges. Bake according to recipe directions.

For the Filling: 1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
3-4 cups of any veggies your family enjoys (or that you want to disguise in something so that they actually eat them)

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Slackers still make good cooks.....

Yes, I am a slacker. (But I am the first one to admit it.)

And I DO know how to cook, and I believe that covers a multitude of sins. ;-) Anyone with me on that one?

I made several things since I posted last....but alas, I forgot to take pictures of most of them. I just don't want to try something unless I can see a picture of the finished product. So I don't want to post recipes on here for you to try, based only on my good word. You gotta have pictures!

I did find a picture of one item that I husband's favorite salad:
tomato caprese. My friend gave me fresh basil out of her garden and I found fresh mozzarella on sale, so I was all set. Mine varied slightly from the traditional recipe--I added cucumber slices, and I marinated it with Italian dressing, rather than drizzling it with olive oil, vinegar and spices.
(I was in a hurry! :-) He still loved it.....only one tiny bowl of leftovers.

What is your favorite summer salad?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strawberry goodness

I have made strawberry shortcake in the past, but was never satisfied with the result. So I went in search of a new shortcake recipe, and this is where I found one.......on a blog that has become one of my favorite recipe-finding spots lately.

I forgot to take a picture of the luscious dessert, so here is the picture from her blog. You need to make this is heavenly! (I made the regular biscuit recipe.....)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Randomness gathered in one place :-)

I had some *odds & ends* of thoughts about kitchen stuff, but didn't want to wait until specific posts on each I am gonna dump it on you all at once. And if it doesn't make sense, all jumbled up, then read one a day or something. ;-)
{1} I make awholelotta coffee. (Yes, that IS a word.) Therefore, we go through awholelotta coffee filters. And it can get expensive! But yesterday, I found the answer to the world's.....oh, wait......MY coffee filter problems: a reusable gold-mesh filter. It cost $4.99 at King Soopers, as opposed to the $3.99 box of 100 filters that I buy 4 times a year. If this thing even holds out for 6 months, I will have totally saved money!

{2} I have found that if I whip regular-old-store bought chocolate fudge frosting with about 3 T. of coffee granules, my husband will eat anything I put it on. I think I could smear it on liver and he quite possibly would ask for seconds. Just a tip.......if you want to make an ordinary cake or pan of brownies rock*star*fantastic, spread some of that frosting on it and you will have no end to the compliments.

{3} I think I have shared this tip before, but since I have some new readers, I will share it again.......add some chopped fresh cilantro to any store-bought salsa, and it will taste like you just had your Latino chef stop by and whip up a batch of the homemade stuff for you. Ok, perhaps not quite that tasty, but it is darn good. My friend's husband (as well as mine) refused to eat Pace Picante before this, but now that we add cilantro, they are changed men.
(Remember: cilantro is our friend. It pretty much makes EVERYTHING least, that is my philosophy.)

And that is it.......enough random thoughts for today. I am sure I will have more for you soon!

Bargain Meal of the Week: June 2-8, 2010

This time of year is always busy for us (as I'm sure it is for many of you). Between backyard bbqs, graduation parties, and vacation plans, I am worn out on the nights that we are home.
A simple meal is a blessing to prepare.

Some of the items in this week's ad are perfect for a quick summer supper!

Tuna Salad Sandwiches with Doritos and Fresh Watermelon Slices

Chicken of the Sea Light Tuna--$0.59/can
King Soopers Old Fashioned Bread--$1.77 (use 8 slices--$1.18)
Doritos--$2.18 (eat 1/2 the bag--$1.09)
Pureheart Personal Size Watermelons--2/$5 ($2.50)

Est. Cost: $5.36

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: May 26-June 1, 2010

I am not gonna place any bets on it, but........
I think it is finally summer!

This week, the warm weather has hit and everything looks sunny and green and SUMMER-Y!

I love the summer time, especially because it is filled with fruit and salads and ice cream treats.

And to welcome summer, King Soopers has some great deals on yummy bbq/picnic foods. So get out there, and grill and picnic to your heart's content!

Grilled Barbecue Chicken with Corn on the Cob and Baked Beans

Chicken Drumsticks--$0.98/lb. (use 2 lbs: $1.96)
Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce (Honey Chipotle kind)--10/$10 (use 1 bottle: $1)
Sweet Corn--4/$1 ($1)
Bush's Beans--3/$5 (use 1 can: $1.66)

Est. Cost: $5.62

Remember to check out the Grocery Gathering this week!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You CAN have your cake and eat it too!!!

Ok, so here is my dilemma.....

I love to make birthday cakes for my kids. Store-bought cakes are much too expensive (and many times disgusting). Plus it is kind of fun to do it yourself--makes it more meaningful!

But I reeeeeeally cannot stand the taste of store-bought frosting. It tastes like sweetened chemicals, hidden in fluffy goo to me. :-) Kind of like when my mom would give me a nasty, bitter pill but shove it into a spoonful of ice cream. (That helped Mom, thanks!) Not a fan......

I have tried a few home-made frosting recipes but they were all too sweet. I am a cream cheese frosting/cool whipp-y texture kinda girl. And they all were way too heavy for me, especially when you are trying to decorate with them!

So here is where YOU all come you make homemade frosting? If so, is it yummy and non-sickening-sweet? ;-) You need to share your recipe with me, so I can continue make frugal birthday cakes......and now they can be ones that I myself would actually eat.
Help a girl out, won't ya?!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My family loves smoothies.

And I love to make them because:
1. They are easy.
2. They are healthy.
3. They are filling.
4. Did I mention they are easy?

*Buy fruit when it is on sale, and store it in the freezer.
(These strawberries were on sale for $1/16 oz and the mangos were 3/$1!)

*Wash the fruit and cut it into chunks that are easy to chop up in the blender.

*Freeze the chunks on a cookie sheet until solid.

*Divide the fruit into portions for a smoothie.
(I use this much fruit for a smoothie that serves 5)

Now my freezer is stocked with enough fruit for 5-6 smoothies!

And here is the easy recipe I use:

1 banana
5-6 strawberries, halved
1/3 mango, sliced
2 cups orange juice
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup yogurt (I use Mountain High strawberry or vanilla)

Chop up fruit with other items on low speed.
Blend on high speed until smooth.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: May 12-18, 2010

This week's ad left me lacking any brilliant meal plans--did anyone find great meal deals?

Here is all I could come up with.....hopefully next week's ad will be more inspiring! :-(

Twice Baked Potatoes and Green Beans

Jumbo Russet Potatoes--2 lbs./$1 ($2)
Kroger Cheese--2/$5 ($0.60)
Farmland Sliced Bacon--$2.99 ($1)
Kroger Sour Cream--$1.12 ($0.28)

Kroger Canned Vegetables--$0.69

Est. Cost: $4.57

On a side note, I DID find a great deal on Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers! They were on clearance in our dairy section for $1.69 (8 pack). Make sure you check out the clearance sections in all of the departments--you can find some great deals, especially if you have coupons to use!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


We eat lots of refried beans. I buy a huge can from Costco, and it lasts us for a month. My kids love them, so I make bean burritos for them. My husband and I enjoy bean dip (with all the toppings--cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, olives).

The only thing that bothers me about store-bought refried beans: the amount of preservatives that I know are in them! And since I am on a DIY, non-preservative kick, this thought does not appeal to me at all.

I planned on looking for a good homemade refried bean recipe, and I stumbled across this one tonight. It looks delicious! I am going to be trying it soon.....I will let you know how it turns out.

Do you make refried beans at home? If so, share your recipe and tips!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Hominy

My family is very good about trying new foods. In fact, we eat such a variety that they really are not surprised by much.

Except ethnic foods.

Because of our tight budget, I am not good about looking outside of the normal grocery store fare, to cook ethnic dishes for my family. I don't add many different ingredients, besides the normal fruits and veggies and grain products that are common in American cooking. So, they are not keen on "weird foods", as they call them. Hopefully we are never called to be missionaries in a foreign land.....they might waste away to nothing. ;-)

Therefore, when I found a recipe for chicken tortilla soup and excitedly made it, it was not met with as much enthusiasm as I had. Because it had HOMINY in it.

(Heaven forbid.....)

I grew up eating hominy. We lived in Idaho when I was little, and it was a pretty common staple in grocery stores. So I thought nothing of adding it to this fact, I was excited for a reason to use it! My family was NOT excited.

It looked delicious when I served it, and I was able to eat my fill (for once!) due to my family's lack of enthusiasm. And this recipe made enough for two meals, so I served it over rice the next night, which seemed to help a little. I guess rice disguises hominy? Who knows......

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 t. olive oil
2 zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 can (29 oz) crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) white hominy
1 1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne pepper (I left this out)
1 deli rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off and shredded (I used 2 cooked chicken breasts)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Optional toppings: sliced avocados, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, fresh limes, sour cream

1. Heat oil in a stockpot. Add the zucchini and saute for 2 minutes.

2. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, hominy, cumin, cayenne pepper and shredded chicken. Heat to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro just before serving.

3. To serve, place a handful of tortilla chips in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle hot soup over the tortilla chips. Add a generous squeeze of lime and top with additional toppings, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy birthday to......ME!

I celebrated another birthday last week, and as I have done in years past, I did it by getting myself some free food. What more would you want for a birthday present than free food? lol

Most restaurants (especially chain ones) have websites where you can sign up for email alerts. If you become a fan or member of their online club, you can benefit from specials and coupons that the "common consumer" will not know about. will get free stuff on your birthday!

Here is the run-down on my freebies this birthday:

* Free gourmet burger from Red Robin (my favorite place!)
* Free entree at Noodles & Co. (up to $9 value).....I even got my drink thrown in--I just had to pay the $0.70 overage.
* Free shake from Del Taco (chocolate, vanilla or strawberry)
* Free dessert shooter from Applebees
* Free buffet at Souper Salad (my kids are excited about this one--it's their favorite place)

(Note: all of these expired anywhere from a week up to a month after my birthday, so you do have to pack alot of free food into a small amount of time.)

So get out there and sign up for all of your birthday treats!
I LOVE getting free meals.
Now if I could just get a free membership to the gym........ ;-)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: April 28-May 4, 2010

Don't you love this time of year?! The weather starts tempting you with days of sunshine and warm temps, and all of the summer produce starts to make its appearance.

This week's ad got me all excited because one of my favorite produce items is on major sale this week--the first sweet corn of the season! Yummy!

Enjoy the frugal menu, and enjoy the hints of summer. ;-)

Grilled Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa
and Corn on the Cob

Boneless Chicken Breasts--$1.99/lb. ($3)
Ataulfa Mango--2/$1 ($1)
Cilantro--2/$1 ($0.25)

Fresh Sweet Corn--4/$1 ($1)

Est. Cost: $5.25

(Remember to stop by the Grocery Gathering for other local deals!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It doesn't come naturally!

As I have mentioned before, I am slowly trying to convert our eating habits. We have never eaten THAT BAD but there are areas that I know I could be healthier in. One way is to eliminate products with tons of preservatives. My husband thinks I am wacky, but it just makes sense to me that our bodies work with as little "extra" stuff in them as possible. (I know many of you are with me on this! ;-)

The problem for me: we do not have any room in our budget to buy more expensive organic products right now.
I have heard all of the speeches--"It is not that much more expensive", "It pays to buy healthier products in the long run", etc., etc. I understand all of that, but I really cannot stretch our budget any more than it is already stretched. Therefore, I need to buy healthy products that are reasonably priced for the common man. ;-)

Here are a few items that I have begun buying.....ones that are lower in sugar or preservatives (not necessarily "organic" though--I am not to that point yet).

Mountain High Yoghurt: It contains only 7 ingredients (all natural ones), and I can get coupons for it by signing up on the website. I usually buy it for $1.50 for a large carton!

Kashi Cereals: This is one of the few organic products that I can afford. You can find coupons for their cereals quite often (I just bought a box for $1.88 today!)

Agave Nectar: I use this to sweeten my coffee, and am planning on experimenting with other uses. It is a low glycemic index sweetener, so it absorbs more slowly into the body, preventing spikes in blood sugar. I buy it in a two-pack at Costco.

Florida's Natural Fruit Nuggets: These are the only fruit snacks I buy for my kids now. They contain no dyes and no artificial sweeteners. Plus, they are often on sale at Target for under $2 a box. My kids love them......
We also eat whole wheat bread--King Sooper's brand was $1/loaf this week on an in-store special! Target carries a whole-grain white bread in their store brand, that is under $3 a loaf. And I have stopped buying processed lunch meat, and am experimenting with cooking turkey and chicken breasts and slicing them thinly to use in sandwiches. If this is too much work, look for a store that carries Boar's Head lunch meats...they are all-natural and often on sale at my local organic market.

So tell me--what ways do you eat organically or naturally on a frugal budget?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm just makin' it up as I go.....

I was supposed to bring a meal to church last night, to help out a family with a new baby.

The only problem: I was out of money and time. What to make??!!

Since I have begun shopping frugally at Costco, there are several items that I ALWAYS have on hand.......refried beans, corn tortillas, shredded cheese and sour cream. Plus we have a whole freezer full of organic ground beef, thanks to some generous friends.

I decided to create an enchilada casserole out of these ingredients. I had seen recipes for that dish before, but I couldn't find a good one on-line. So I went to the store and grabbed a big can of enchilada sauce and a small can of mild green chiles. And then I created my own recipe!
Here it is.....

Enchilada Casserole
(This recipe makes 2 9x13 pans. You can freeze one for later or to give away.)

1 lb. ground beef (free :-)
1 small can green chiles ($0.89)
1/4 onion, chopped finely ($0.25)
1 (28 oz.) can red enchilada sauce ($2.29)
24 corn tortillas ($0.50)
1 1/2 cups sour cream ($0.75)
2 cups shredded cheese ($1.40)
2 cups refried beans ($0.40)

1. Cook ground beef. Drain. Saute onions until soft--add meat and green chiles. Cook about 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 cups enchilada sauce and simmer together for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, spread beans on each tortilla.
1st layer: Place 4 tortillas, alternately, on bottom of greased 9x13 pan. Spoon 1/4 meat/sauce mixture over tortillas. Dollop sour cream over the meat. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese.
2nd layer: Place 4 more tortillas over 1st layer. Add 1/4 more meat mixture, more sour cream.
For final layer: Place 4 tortillas on top of 2nd layer. Pour 1/2 cup enchilada sauce over top--sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese.

(Repeat this process for 2nd pan. Cover and freeze.)

4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with additional sour cream for topping.
Add rice and a tossed salad and you are good to go!

Cost: $6.48 for 2 main dishes!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You were always on my mind (oatmeal)

I mentioned awhile ago that I was going to experiment with new recipes that used oatmeal. I bought a 9 lb. bag of the stuff, so I had to do something creative!
Several of my readers gave me suggestions for homemade granola
(which, sadly, is still on my to-do WILL get made though!).

I just noticed this recipe in my blog feed on my sidebar, which also calls for oatmeal. And it will fit in perfectly with my "eliminate processed foods/preservatives from my family's diet and replace them with healthy homemade things" kick that I am on. ;-) I am adding to my "to-do" list right now......hopefully I get to it sooner than I did the granola recipes!

Just yesterday, my friend asked me for some suggestions about what to do with oatmeal.
I gave her all of my favorite recipes--do you have any favorite oatmeal recipes that your family loves? If so, please share!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Love at second sight.....

I just remembered that I own a food processor. Granted, it is a tiny (cheap) one that came with my blender, but it works!

I used it to make homemade baby food for my last two kids, and it worked well for that. But we moved, and totally forgot that I had the food processor. When I re-discovered it this week, I was very excited.......because I had just watched a cooking show on Food Network and the chef was making something in his food processor. :-) is my new favorite kitchen appliance for the moment (besides my coffee maker, which will never leave its throne as the king of all my appliances. lol) I have used the f. processor to make a crumb topping for a salmon recipe and also to finely chop the "filling" for my home-grilled burgers. It worked perfectly! I felt like Rachael Ray or something.......

Do you have a favorite kitchen appliance, and if so, why do you love it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: March 24-30, 2010

Take advantage of the Easter egg opportunities right now, and use the cheap eggs for something even better! This meal reminds me of springtime....... :-)

Egg Salad Sandwiches and Fruit Salad
(I roughly used this recipe.....substituted rolls for wheat bread, and left out the chives. You can do as you wish. ;-)

King Soopers Large Eggs--$0.88/dozen (need 6=$0.44)
Kroger Celery Hearts--2/$3 (use 2 stalks=$0.30)
Kaiser Rolls--$1.99/6 ct. (use 4=$1.32)

Seedless Navel Oranges--4/$1 (need 1=$0.25)
Braeburn Apples--$0.88/lb (need 1=$0.22)
Kroger Canned Pineapple--$1.00 (use 1 can=$1)
Strawberries--$2.99/1 lb. (use 6 berries=$1.20)

Est. Cost: $4.73

~Remember to check out the Grocery Gathering for your local store deals, as well as King Soopers site and Springs Bargains for local Colorado deals. ~

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Am I raising a pack of wolves?! :-)

(I got all of this for $5!)

I am sure many of you took advantage of the Kelloggs cereal/milk deal at King Soopers several weeks ago.
I ended up with 12 boxes of cereal and 6 gallons of milk, all for $10!

Somehow I imagined that this stockpile would last for quite awhile. I don't know what delusion I was under......2 weeks later, we have 1/2 gallon of the milk and 6 boxes of cereal left.

This got me thinking about what foods we go through like water in our house. There are many items, which is scary since my kids are all under the age of 8.
What will I do when they are all teenagers?!

Besides the basics (milk, eggs, bread, butter), we seem to fly through these things:
~baking items
~tomato products (sauce, diced, etc.)

I just started going to Costco, after months of resisting it. And I have found that I save quite a bit on these basics that we use so often. Especially when I use the monthly coupons that they send. That, along with searching the store sale flyers, has helped me keep up with my ravenous family.

What items does your family go through, and how do you keep up with it?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: March 10-16, 2010

My husband's doctor told him he needs to lower his cholesterol--high cholesterol runs in his family.
Which means that I ought to be cooking heart-healthy foods for the guy......yeeeeeaaaaahhh. I have been a bad wife and have not researched heart-healthy cooking like I should. I mean, really--how hard is it to pick up a Mediterranean cookbook at Borders?

In an effort to look like a caring wife, I am going to be trying out a heart-healthy recipe once a week. Hopefully, I can find ones that he will enjoy or this whole "helping my hubby eat better" thing might not go over so well. ;-)

Here is the first one I am trying.....enjoy!

Spicy-Crusted Salmon Over Spinach with Rice (serves 4)

*Kroger Value Fish Fillets (Salmon)--$3.99/lb.
(need 4 pieces=$4.00)
*Private Selection Organic Baby Spinach--$3.99
(need handful=$1.00)
*Zatarain's Rice Mix--10/$10
(pick a lower sodium one=$1.00)

Est. Cost: $6.00

Remember to check out the Grocery Gathering for local deals
and King Sooper's homepage
for coupons!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A little bitta tweaking and.....wah-lah!

I am a huge fan of Taste of Home. I own 4 of their cookbooks, I receive two of their magazines, and I used to visit their headquarters at least once a year (before I moved away). In fact, many of my favorite recipes have come from one of their cookbooks or magazines.

But sometimes, I have to make the recipes fit my family (and our budget). As "down-home" as they are supposed to be, many of them still contain ingredients that, frankly....I'm never gonna purchase. Whether that is due to budget constraints, laziness, or my lack of confidence in the produce section at Whole Foods, I am just not gonna use certain items.

Anyways, I found this potato salad recipe and thought it sounded good. But I did not have gorgonzola cheese handy, nor any chives. So I switched it up a bit, added some pickle juice (for good flavor) and, here ya go.....

Loaded Potato Salad (formerly known as "Bacon & Gorgonzola Potato Salad")

1 3/4 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 T. dill weed
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. coarsely ground pepper
1/4 t. sugar
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup bacon bits, divided
2 T. pickle juice

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the mayo, sour cream, onions, celery, 1 T. dill, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir in cheese and 1/2 cup bacon bits. Fold in tomatoes and potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, sprinkle with remaining dill and bacon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm going all granola on you....

The Bargain Meal post is coming--I promise--but first, I had to post what is on my mind today.

Do any of you make your own granola?

I bought a honking 9 lb. box of Quaker oats from Costco last week (because we love us some oatmeal in this house) and now I am thinking I might need some fabulous oatmeal-ish recipes to go along with those 9 lbs. of oats. And because I adore eating granola on top of my Mountain High for breakfast, I thought I would make some of my own.....some minus preservatives and excess sugar. (Cuz I am healthy like that....I mean, I do live in Colorado.)

I think I will use this recipe--it seems to have all of the components I am searching for.
(Doesn't that sound like I am all scientific and professional?).
But if any of you have any better recipes, please do share!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: Feb.24-Mar.2, 2010

Here in Colorado, we are still in the midst of WINTER. The snow just keeps coming (and then it keeps staying.....). This kind of weather makes me crave warm, hearty, comforting dishes (which are so fabulous for my family's weight. lol)

I ran across this recipe as I was searching for this week's bargain meal. I am not a huge fan of fruit/meat combo dishes, but somehow I think this one will work. Try it out and let me know what you think--I am going to make it this weekend, and see what my family says. After all, they are my best/worst critics. :-)

Apple Pork Chops and Oven-Roasted Parmesan Fingerling Potatoes
(Make sure you read the reader comments below the recipe--they give some tips to make the recipe work out better!)

Mixed Pork Chops--$1.49/lb. (use 1 1/2 lbs.) *$2.24*
Organic Cameo Apples--10 lbs./$10 (need 2 apples) *$0.50*

Organic Fingerling Potatoes--2/$5 (need 9 potatoes) *$2.00*

Est. Cost: $4.74

~~And always remember to check out the Grocery Gathering and if you live in Colorado, check out Springs Bargains for your local store deal!.~~

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Somethin' about pigs wrapped up that makes ya feel all cozy inside.....

My kids loved these....and they were so easy!

Pigs in a (Homemade) Blanket

I forgot to take pictures, but I promise they looked delicious! We even ate them with turkey dogs, and they still tasted good.

So, if you are out of crescent rolls (or are like me, and don't like to paying an arm and a leg for them)--then try this recipe out.....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Did I really eat that many?!

I have shared this recipe in the past, but it is so good--I thought I would "re-share".

My mother-in-law gave me the recipe, and I did not try it for a long time because I had a.....well.....a fear of using yeast. But I finally overcame it, tried out the recipe, the rolls turned out perfectly, and yeast and I have been friends ever since.

I have tried them with icing and with cream cheese frosting. Both are heavenly! Enjoy.....

~~Cinnamon Rolls~~

1 pkg. yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 T. butter
1 t. salt
3/4 cup scalded milk (just below boiling)
1 egg
2 1/2-3 cups flour

1) Soften yeast in warm water. In mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, salt, and milk. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in egg and yeast mixture. Gradually, add flour to form a stiff dough. Knead until smooth and elastic.
2) Put dough in greased bowl--turn so dough is greased. Cover, let rise 1-1 1/2 hrs. or until doubled in size.
3) Roll out in rectangle shape--put melted butter over dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll up, cut and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

To make icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T. milk
Mix together and drizzle over rolls. Mmmmm......

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: February 10-16, 2010

Nothin' says I love you like a good meal. Can I get an "amen"? Seriously.....when someone cooks something good for you, you know they at least LIKE you. ;-)

My girls and I are making a Valentine meal for "our boys". It was fun to plan the menu with them, and have them help me shop for the ingredients. I will post pictures of our gourmet event next week....we are even breaking out the candlesticks for it!

If you are staying home and eating dinner with your sweetie, this meal is delicious and so easy to prepare.....and it serves two!

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus Bundles,
Greek Cucumber Salad
and Brownies Ala Mode

Fresh Tender Asparagus--$1.39/lb. ($2.10 for 1.5 lbs.)
Tyson Sliced Bacon--$2.99 ($1.00 for 4 slices)

Greek Cucumber Salad--$5.49/lb. ($1.83 for 2 servings)

Betty Crocker Brownie Mix--$1.69 ($0.32 for 2 big brownies)
Breyers Ice Cream--$2.48 ($0.42 for 2 scoops)

Est. Cost: $5.67

(Remember to check out the Grocery Gathering
for your local deals!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: Feb.3-9, 2010

I'm sure there are many Super Bowl snack recipes that I could post this week.....but since I am a bit of rebel, I am choosing not to. ;-) This recipe could be eaten at a Super Bowl party though. It makes my mouth water just typing it (although I cannot actually make it for myself because I ALLERGIC TO AVOCADO! I know--terrible, isn't it?)

So, enjoy the game.....enjoy the fellowship.....and maybe enjoy a juicy burger. Mmmm.....

Avocado Bacon Burgers

King Soopers Hamburger Buns--10/$10 (need 4)
93% Lean Ground Beef--$1.99/lb. (use 1 1/2 lbs.)
Kroger Cheese (cheddar)--2/$5 (need 4 slices)
Bar S Sliced Bacon--B1G1Free (need 4 slices)
Private Selection Organic Romaine Hearts--$2.99/3 ct. (need 4 leaves)
Large Avocados--2/$1

Est. Cost: $5.58

(And stop by the Grocery Gathering for your local store's deals.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Flapjacks gone granola....or something like that

I told you I would share a different pancake recipe with you......just forgot to do it THE NEXT DAY like I promised. Sorry.

This recipe is for my more health-conscious readers. We got it when we were honeymooning in Jackson Hole, WY, at a wonderful bed-n-breakfast there. They served some yummy breakfasts, and this was one of the top menu items. (Some of the other menu items were a little less appetizing....the salmon scrambled eggs, for example. blah....)

So if you are looking to add more heart-healthy ingredients to your menu, this recipe will help with that.....

Wildflower Inn's Oatmeal Pancakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour to make it even healthier!)
1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled

1. Combine oats and buttermilk for about 15 minutes. Add eggs and butter. Stir well.
2. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir gently.
3. Cook on medium hot grill. (I use a 1/4 cup measure to ladle onto the grill.)

Serve with maple syrup (or applesauce, for a healthier topping).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's a flapjack anyways?

I think I have mentioned that I have some big eaters in my house. Seriously, we appear to be training for some competitive eating, based on the amounts of food consumed around here.

Because of that, I need some good hearty breakfast keep them satisfied for a few hours at least.

This recipe is a huge hit around here. And it doesn't have a warm and fuzzy story about being passed down through generations or anything. I actually got it from the wife of our Walmart manager, when I was working at Curves before our wedding. Yes--it IS an odd place to get a recipe from. But I am not about to complain or even question.

Because my family adores it.

Without further rambling, here it is.....

Favorite Pancakes
(aka: Pancakes Fed To The Local Walmart Manager and His Family)

2 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup wheat flour, 1 1/2 white)
4 t. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2 beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 T. oil

Combine egg, milk, and salad oil. Add dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Bake on hot griddle. Makes about 18 pancakes. (I used a 1/4 measuring cup to pour batter onto griddle.)

P.S Those aren't really the pancakes in that picture up there. lol.
I will post the recipe for THOSE pancakes tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: January 20-26, 2010

It's cold out.....I needed some comfort food this week. :-) Plus, it is always nice to serve up some food that the kids will hug you for, right?

Sloppy Joes, Chips and Apple Slices

80% Lean Ground Beef--$1.79/lb (cook 1 lb.)
Hunt's Manwich--10/$10 (use 1 can)
King Soopers Hamburger Buns--10/$10

Doritos--$1.88 (use 1/2 bag)

Jazz Apples--10/$10 (cut up 2-3)

Est. Cost: $5.73

(Make sure you buy the Doritos over the weekend--they are only on a 3-day sale!)
Check out the Grocery Gathering for local deals, as well as sign up
King for coupons and specials!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bargain Meal of the Week: January 13-19, 2010

It's time for the National Western Stock Show here in Denver, and that means sales on meat. :-)

But the beef is not cheap enough for me, so I am going for the pork this week.

Enjoy yourself some ribs, and remember the bib and wipes! ;)

Crockpot Sesame Ribs and Steamed Veggies
(I reduced the recipe to 4 servings, and used a pre-made marinade rather than make my own.)

Country Style Pork Ribs--$1.69/lb. (need 2 lbs.)
Kroger Marinades--10/$10 (use Sesame Ginger flavor)
Red, White or Yellow Peeled Onions--10 lbs/$10 (use 1)

Bird's Eye or Kroger Vegetables--10/$10 (make 1 pkg.)

Est. Cost: $5.88

And if you are in the Denver area during January, make sure you take in a rodeo for me. I will be too busy cooking.....
Oh, and
remember to check out the Grocery Gathering for your local deals!