Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies


Maybe it's a little early for the Christmas plate, but I love it! Not only that, but I've NEVER used it! My mom bought it for me two Christmases ago, and I totally forgot I had it. I hope I have MANY chances to use it this season.

Moving on to the issue at hand....

We are having a sort of last minute Thanksgiving with my in-laws tomorrow, and I offered to bring dessert. I thought something casually pumpkin would be fun and appropriate, and when I stumbled across this recipe on one of my favorite baking blogs, I thought I'd give it a shot.

Recipe (from http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/)

2 c all-purpose flour (could use white whole wheat here)
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1 c unsalted butter, room temp
1 & 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 c pumpkin puree
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and side of 13x9" pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth. Beat in the egg & vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin puree (it will look curdled...do not worry).

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using an offset spatula (or the back of a spoon), spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (or with a few crumbs, not batter). Cool completely in the pan.

***

One thing I will say is that I thought this recipe was pretty darn easy. I can't always get in to baking from scratch because it can just be so darn fussy. This recipe totally wasn't though, which was great!

I'm excited to share them with the family tomorrow. We might try them with vanilla ice cream. Regardless, I think everyone will really love them. Hopefully everyone likes pumpkin!

Our Crazy Kitchen, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom and Mouthwatering Monday.

Sam's Club Edition

The circulars for the days between Thanksgiving and next Wednesday's new circulars were unimpressive. I decided to take the opportunity to make a trip to Sam's. I have a love/hate relationship with Sam's. I think it's possible to get some good deals, but it usually seems easier to spend $500. I went with the intent to spend our usual $50. I came out $57 later. I figure for Sam's, that is a success. The problem, however, is what will eat??? Here is what we got (not picture is a sea salt grinder my baby was clinging to for dear life --)




In the meantime, I also found out that we are having an impromptu and casual Thanksgiving at my in-laws tomorrow. My mother in law is getting a Honeybaked ham, so I said I'd bring double batches of green bean casserole and red hot jello. I'm also going to try a new recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip bars. I may have myself in over my head seeing as how I still have a huge Thanksgiving mess to clean up, dinner to prepare, Daddy at work until the wee hours of the morning and church before lunch tomorrow. What am I thinking?

Even though we were ALREADY over budget, we still had to stop to get some things for tomorrow's meal. I had to pick up the super cheap stuff at the store while we were at it. This purchase had to come out of our Christmas gift budget. Do you think I can convince the in-laws that our Thanksgiving dinner was their Christmas present??? Here is what we got at Price Chopper --


My pre-tax total was $21.51. I saved $16.66 total. All of that was store savings as I am realizing that my yogurt coupon is still in my pocket. Not such a bad total for an emergency stop with no coupons! Even still, let's hope next week is better!

Other than red hot jello and green bean casserole, we'll probably eat cranberry chicken with wild rice and sweet potatoes on Monday night. Other lunches and dinners will include breakfast for dinner, Velveeta shells and cheese with broccoli, nachos with black beans and cheese, spaghetti and garlic bread, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Lunches on Wed- Fri will be brown bag. Snacks will include Doritos, Z-bars, berries and yogurt, bagels and cream cheese, walnuts with dried cherries and my girl''s most unlikely favorite snack -- corn straight from the can. See other menu plans at orgjunkie.com.

See last week here.

See also LifeAsMom.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Why Buy Consignment Part 2

I know I've mentioned before that I am not a huge fan of buying or selling consignment. I will occasionally stop to poke around one, but not often! I always think they stink of cigarette smoke, and I truly have never found anything even close to great. Instead, I've gotten pretty good at shopping the sales with a coupon, and I do most of my shopping at Gymboree, Carter's and Target. (See what a Gymboree purchase looks like here.)

How much do you think you spend on your kid's clothes in a year? Any guesses? I can't really say what I spend for sure, but I do know that $100 in one trip sounds like a lot! However, what if you planned carefully and only spent $100 5 or 6 times a year??? It sounds like a reasonable amount to me, at least. While I'm sure you could clothe your kids for much less, I'm not entirely sure you could do it with the same sense of style and quality. (Prove me wrong, if you can!)

All that being said, Black Friday was an important kid's shopping day for us. I ordered $85 worth of clothes both for my girls and for gifts for my nieces at Gymboree.com yesterday (and got $25 Gymbucks,) and we hit the Carter's store early this morning. Everything purchased was for my girls, except for one outfit for my new nephew. Here's what I got at the Carter's store for just over $100 after tax.

Pictured you see -

2 three packs of underwear
4 sets of fleece pajamas (Incidentally, one of these was FAR more expensive than I anticipated. Who would have guessed a size 4 set was $10 more than a size 4T set. A good reminder to check ALL price tags!)
4 dresses
1 jacket
1 bubble
5 two pieces outfits
1 one piece outfit
1 fleece jacket

I'm calculating that the average per item/outfit/set is right around $6.70. Right around a middle of the road consignment price, right? But, these clothes are new. Not only that, but both of my girls will wear most things, and since these clothes are such great quality, they will was and re-sell or donate well. At $6.70, I'm thinking I can make close to 50% back on the back end -- even after two kids.

For a general rule of thumb, I did have to set a price guideline. My limit for a shirt is $5. For jeans, dresses and jackets, the limit is $10. (I am guilty of spending a little more on Gymboree shirts and dresses. I just love everything about them, and so do my girls.) However, I do try to stay FAR under those guidelines when I'm shopping at Target and Carters. As another note, I buy the majority of our shoes at Target when they go on sale or clearance meaning they usually cost somewhere between $10-$15 a pair, but the girls usually only have 2-3 pairs at a time, at the most.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Double-Spiced Pumpkin Pie


I made Thanksgiving pumpkin pie for the first time four or so years ago. Without realizing that it was the "non-conformist" way to go, I used the recipe from the Eagle Brand milk can instead of plain old condensed milk. After I whipped up the filling, I decided it was too bland, so I dumped in about 50% more of each spice. To my amazement, everyone loved it. I'm not gonna lie. It was (and always is) especially good. Who knew Eagle Brand milk was the way to go?

Ingredients *

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.
*This is the recipe as I have re-written it. Original recipe calls for less of each spice.

See also OurKrazyKitchen and LifeAsMom.

Wordless Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2009

White Salad





White "salad" is one of our family favorite holiday recipes. It's sort of like a coeur la creme, but without the draining process and fancy special mold. I think my mom started serving it for dessert several Christmas's ago, but these days it shows up on our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter tables. We've given it the "salad" moniker, so we don't feel guilty about eating something that is nearly cheesecake for dinner! We let it take the place of some other not-so-exciting holiday jello salad.

Recipe -

1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 envelope of Knox gelatin
1/4 cup water
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sour cream and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar. Place on low heat. Sprinkle gelatin over the quarter cup of water to soften. Stir the gelatin and water mixture in to the cream mixture and remove from heat. In a separte bowl beat the cream cheese until it's smooth. Then, and in the cream mixture and vanilla and whip with beaters until smooth. Transfer to jello mold and refrigerate. (Pictured is a double batch.)


Don't forget to share in the recipe sharing fun at JoyofDesserts, LifeAsMom, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table and Mouthwatering Monday.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Edition -- Sort Of...


This was somewhat of a frustrating trip. First of all, by the time we finally made it to the grocery store, it was 9 o'clock. I had been going strong since roughly 5:15. I didn't realize how tired I REALLY was until we got there. Thankfully, my husband got off work early and was able to take the baby for me. I probably would have had to turn around and head back home had that not worked out in my favor. My only other real frustration is that I just did not have as many coupons to match with the sales as I would have liked. As a result, I ended up spending more than I really wanted to, so I could pick up more than 1 of the things that were on a super good sale.

Here is what we got --

1 dozen eggs
1 bag of Reames noodles (which appear to have not rung up correctly)
2 bags of broccoli steamers
1 bag of C&H brown sugar
4 Chex seasoning mix (free, will donate)
1 Hy-Vee taco seasoning
1 can of Hy-Vee pumpkin
1 lb of Hy-Vee walnuts (more DHA love)
3 boxes of Jello pudding
2 boxes of Jello
1 box of Keebler grahams
1 box of brown Minute rice
1 loaf of 110% whole wheat bread
1 really big jar of Musselman's unsweetened applesauce
2 cans of whole berry cranberry sauce
5 bags of Hy-Vee cheese
2 1/2 gallons of organic whole milk
2 Kraft cheddar cheese bricks
3 bricks of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 pineapple

My pre-tax total was $38.00. I saved around $7.00 with coupons -- not so impressive!

Plus, the bad news is that I still hadn't been able to nail down what I was taking for sure for Thanskgiving dinner. I am in fact taking apple crisp, double-spiced pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. If I have enough time, I may treat everyone to the Maple Pear Upside-Down Cake too. I'm short some (more like SEVERAL) ingredients for the pumpkin pie and green bean casserole, so I will have to make yet another trip, which will put me even further over budget. I may not cover that trip due to time purposes, but you can be sure it will have to happen! I've been trying to wonder what I did for Thanksgiving last year. I'm pretty sure last year I took a $50.00 bonus for Thanksgiving. I didn't really want to do that last year, but I think if I am going to plan to take advantage of the sales and buy staples like cream cheese, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, etc. when it's dirt cheap, I am going to have to that again.

I did not really end up with the things to make a single complete meal from either of these trips. What a bummer! I'm going to make a cavatini for dinner and red hot Jello for dessert tonight. Those leftovers will serve us well. We had baked potato bowls for lunch, and we will be able to have sweet potato bowls later this week for lunch. We'll be able to make it through to Thanksgiving easily on things like grilled cheese, frozen chicken Anytizers, breakfast for dinner, etc. I think I'll trade my leftover Thanksgiving desserts for turkey and stuffing, which will get us through until NEXT Friday. Thankfully, Friday always seems to roll around pretty quickly!

See this week's other shopping trip here.

See also beingfrugal.net, www.orgjunkie.com and chachingonashoestring.com.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maple Pear Upside Down Cake


My best friend lives in NYC. She sent me this recipe from the Times a few weeks back with a note that said, "I know how much you love pears." I guess that means people are noticing the nearly ridiculous volumes of produce!

Recipe -

11 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 to 4 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (I added this.)

1/2 cup milk.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat; add maple syrup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. When mixture has cooled a bit, pour it into a 9-inch baking pan and arrange pear slices in an overlapping circle on top.

2. With a handheld or standing mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, continuing to mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with milk; do not overmix. Carefully spread batter over pears, using a spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 to 50 minutes; a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes.

4. Run a knife around edge of pan; put a plate on top of cake and carefully flip it so plate is on bottom and pan is on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

***

Now, real maple syrup is far from the most frugal thing in the world. It just so happens that I knew my mom had some sitting in her pantry that she wouldn't finish. Mom ("Hammy") is super nice, so she let me have it. I will run a good portion of this cake over to her house in return. It's not so bad having your daughter for a neighbor, I suppose!

As far as the baking process was concerned, this cake was really quite easy. The only real problem I had was some of the middle of the cake stuck as a result of not using quite enough pears. I guess I forgot how much they would cook down.

All said, this cake was SUPER delicious. What a great fall treat! We'll totally eat it again. It may even show up on our Thanksgiving menu!

Our Crazy Kitchen, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom and Mouthwatering Monday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sweet Tooth


I was wishing today a little that I could go off the record with this sugary purchase. Four pies, two tubs of ice cream, a can of whipped cream, 4 tubs of Cool Whip. Talk about a sugar coma.

I hit the Thanksgiving sales a little early today because I had to pick up something for my daughter to contribute to their Thanksgiving trail mix at school tomorrow. (Note to teacher's, more than 48 hours notice would be helpful.) Of course, I am also trying to take advantage of all of the super great Thanksgiving sales. Problem being, however, that I do not yet know for what I am responsible. I may have to find an extra $20 or so once I know for sure what I'm taking. My usuals are my awesome "double spiced" pumpkin pie, french silk pie, green bean casserole and/or broccoli salad. This year I am learning towards pumpkin pie, apple crisp and green bean casserole.

Here's what I got today -

4 Mrs. Smith's pies
4 tubs of Cool Whip (Boston Cream Casserole, anyone???)
4 cans of Libby's vegetables
2 cans of Swanson chicken broth
1 bottle of Hunt's ketchup
1 bag of Sunmaid dried cherries (A budget breaker, but they are for my daughter's class tomorrow)
1 bag of Cape Cod chips
2 Breyer's Vanilla ice cream tubs
2.10 lbs of sweet potatoes

My pre-tax total was $24.62. I saved $29.55.

See this week's other shopping trip here.

See last week's groceries here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Intern

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Breakfast Cookies


Didn't these bake up beautifully???

My oldest daughter and I watched Ellie Krieger makes these on the Food Network a few weeks ago, and my daughter thought breakfast cookies sounded no less than brilliant. I was willing to try them out. We'd made a very similar kitchen sink cookie recipe of Ellie Krieger's before, and it was pretty good. I figured these would be a good, fun breakfast for all of us.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (1 small jar) strained carrot baby food
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup bran cereal flakes
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 2 minutes, until fragrant and chopped

Directions

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute. Add egg, carrot puree and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add oats, flakes, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, form a ball and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

***

We had a really good time making these, but I will admit that I struggled a little bit with following the recipe. Since I don't have a printer, I wrote down the ingredients and just tried to remember the order in which to put things in. I ended up throwing my first butter, oil and egg mixture away. (Bummer because that Crisco Omega 3 oil sure isn't cheap!) I just COULDN'T get my softened butter to cream when adding the oil and egg at the same time. When I tried it a second time and had the same problem, I realized I was putting the egg in too soon. Next time I would cream the butter and sugar THEN add the oil and egg. Regardless, we had to get on with it, even though our mixture looked a little funny. I also had forgotten to buy carrot baby food, so we used unsweetened applesauce instead. AND, I didn't have DARK brown sugar, so I added like 1/2 teaspoon of molasses. Thankfully, they turned out just fine.

These did turn out really tender and almost caked like, which I expected as a result of our previous experience with the kitchen sink cookies. I'm sure it is a result of the reduced butter. They are pretty good and will make a great breakfast! However, I think if I were going to make these again, I would alter the recipe a little. I think with the applesauce change, these would have been super great with dried cherries (which we love and are super great for you) and raisins. With the original recipe that calls for carrots, I think I would add some more cinnamon. These were just a tiny bit bland for me.

Regardless, we will love warming these up and eating them this week! It will be hard to eat just one! And, I'm thinking next time I won't go to all the work without at least tripling the batch. 12 (or 11 in my case) breakfast cookies doesn't get 4 people very far!

Don't forget to share in the recipe sharing fun at A Few Shortcuts, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table and Mouthwatering Monday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Salsa Soup


I picked this recipe up from my mother-in-law. She made it a few weeks back, and it was just so good! Super easy too!

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
2 (16 ounce) can dark kidney beans
2 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can of chicken broth
2 (10 ounce) cans of Rotel, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)
Directions:
1. Place the onion, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
2. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

The only change I really made was that I also wilted some fresh baby spinach in to it at the very end. I figured it was a painless way to sneak in some "green."

Also, a funny thing, I accidentally picked up one can of Rotel with habaneros instead of the "regular" kind, but I decided to roll with it. It WAS spicy! My girls were funny -- chowin' down with a spoon and one hand and a glass of milk in the other. I should have taken a picture!

See also Life As Mom, Balacing Beauty and Bedlam and Crock pot Wednesday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I had a reader/friend say this week that he wasn't quite sure HOW I was getting the deals that I blog about. It's totally valid feedback. I don't write much about that aspect of this $50/week grocery project simply because I feel like there are lots of people that already do that. More so, my intent is to show what it looks like to eat and cook well on a tight budget. That being said, the resource I use the MOST is www.moneysavingmom.com. I usually also check out the Hy-Vee sales at www.couponmom.com. I also frequent coupons.com (although I do not currently have a printer), the coupon previews at www.thecouponclippers.com (to determine how many papers I think I need) and just the general Sunday circulars. That's about all I have time for! Actually, if you could see my coupon mess right now, you would know that I don't even have time for that!

Publish Post

Now, moving on to this week's trip. Hy-Vee had some super great sales. We got there pretty late in the evening, and they were pretty picked over. It's not so bad though. I love picking up rain checks for weeks when the sales may not be so great. I came home with four really good ones tonight!

Now, here's a breakdown of what I got. (Sorry the picture is blurry. I was having a hard time getting my spokes model to stand still.)

2 4-packs of Jumbo muffins
1/2 gallon of Robert's OJ
1 big tub of Hy-Vee cottage cheese
1 Smart Balance butter(ish) spread
1 Smart Balance sour cream (free)
1 box of Smuckers Uncrustables (free)
2 Valley Fresh broccoli and cheese Steamers
2 Freschetta pizzas
1 Crisco with DHA (love this stuff)
2 boxes of chocolate Chex
1 can of Hy-Vee black beans
1 4 lb bag of Hy-Vee sugar
4 cans of Hy-Vee mandarin oranges
1 Jif Natural
1 bag Hy-Vee powdered sugar
1 bag of Mission tortillas
1 bag of Nestle's chocolate chips
2 boxes of Pillsbury brownies
2 tubs of Pillsbury frosting
1 bag of Pillsbury flour
1 can of Rotel
3 jars of Smuckers Simply Fruit
1 Always Infinity (free)
1 gallon of Organic Valley milk (FREE!)
2 8 oz bags of Hy-Vee cheese
1 Kraft Singles
1 Dole Baby Spinach
5.22 lbs of pears
5.89 lbs of Apples

My pre-tax total was $51.05! I saved right around $35.00 with coupons. (That is SO my best coupon total on a $50 budget EVER!) I don't know exactly what my sale savings was, but it should have been pretty good! I'm guessing I very easily came in at saving 60+% of the total cost, which is pretty good considering this is all of the shopping I'll be doing this week. It's easy to have a high savings when you're making lots of little purchases -- not so easy when you're on stop shopping!

We're staying home tomorrow to cook for the week and get the house cleaned up a little. We're going to make breakfast cookies and salsa soup. I also STILL have not made "baby's favorite," but I will on Sunday or so when my pears are ripe. I also got a super great sounding maple pear upside down cake recipe from a friend that I think we'll give a whirl. (I will certainly be sharing all of these recipes tomorrow and through the course of the week.) Also, my daughter takes snacks to preschool this week, so we'll be making pumpkin muffins.

As far as our other meals go, we have a few functions at church, my mom's and my work where we will be fed. We'll be eating meals of things like taco soup, tuna noodle salad, tortillas with black beans and cheese, baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, fish sticks and fries, frozen pizza and whatever other goodies I can come up with! We'll be snacking on biscuits and jelly, muffins, breakfast cookies and cereal. Lunches, as usual, we'll be brown bagging!

See last week's $50/week grocery project here.

See also cha-chingonashoestring and orgjunkie.com.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free Shampoo

I picked up two bottles of Organix with Free after Rebate tags on them at CVS a few weeks back -- one for me and one for my mom. I was surprised that we both got checks back pretty quickly! I happened then to notice that there were a few brands hanging out at various different drug stores also with similar rebate tags, so I've started picking them up as I've had an extra $6.99 here and there. I've verified that they all have different mailing addresses and seem to all be separate offers. I'm expecting some checks in the mail here pretty soon! See if you can scout any of these out at your local CVS, Walgreens or Target. What a nice treat!

See other tips at Works for Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family Portrait














This is my 3.5 year old daughter's first family portrait! I was soooooo tickled when she brought it home from pre-school. From left to right - the artist, daddy, mommy, and ohyeahbettersqueezeinbabysister. My favorite things in this picture are the scale of my hair, the lack of my husband's hair (an important and true to life detail) and his blue legs. After all, daddy only has two kinds of pants blue work pants and blue jeans. Oh, the unfailing memory of a three year old. My kid is somethin' else.

I've entered this in the Yoplait Kids Drawing Contest.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Red Hot Jello


I had to figure SOMEONE was wondering why it was necessary to fit cinnamon imperials in to our tiny grocery budget! Here is the reason!

This is yet another one of our family holiday favorites. My mom ALWAYS made it for Christmas when I was a little girl. However, I don't remember actually eating it because, as I recall, one of my cousins always ate the ENTIRE pan -- perhaps even before everyone sat down to dinner. I'm pretty sure it's his favorite thing ever. In fact, when he got married, my mom gave his wife-to-be the recipe, ingredients and a Jello mold. It was so cute!

Red Hot Jello -

1/4 cup of red hots
1 cup of boiling water
1 small box of cherry Jello
1 can of applesauce*

Melt red hots in water. Pour over jello and dissolve. Add applesauce. Pour in to bowl or Jello mold.

*I couldn't find a CAN of applesauce, for whatever reason. Instead, I used about 3/4 of a small jar of UNSWEETENED applesauce. I really, really enjoyed it with the unsweetened variety. I thought it really let the cinnamon shine through. Without the super-sweetness I was like, "This REALLY tastes like a candied apple. YUM!

Don't forget to share in the recipe sharing fun at Vintage Recipe Thursday, LifeAsMom, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not-So-Super Target


We did make it to Target to finish up our grocery shopping for the week. I spent $33.28 pre-tax and saved $18.22. I was once again kind of underwhelmed. I guess my complaints are sort of the same as when we went to Wal-Mart -- fewer sales, no circular, not able to pre-plan coupons. Lesson learned - better to shop the sales at higher priced grocery store than a national chain "super store."

Our menu plan for this week won't be very elaborate. For some reason I've been feeling overwhelmingly busy. The nature of being a working mom, I suppose, is that I just don't have the time for food preparation or even "real meals" like I would like to. Believe me, I have some serious guilt over it. Anyway, we'll be eating brown bag lunches all week, except for when the girls are home with my husband on Mon and Tues. They'll eat the meatloaf and sweet potatoes on Mon. and probably fish sticks and fries on Tuesday. They usually will eat some fresh fruit while daddy prepares lunch. He actually does a great job of not just throwing them in front of a plate of junk. It takes some guidance, but he can totally manage. For dinner, aside from Monday night at Alpha, we'll probably eat frozen enchiladas, shells and cheese with added frozen broccoli and a side of apple sauce and cheese quesadillas with black beans. Friday nights always end up having to be something really fast on the way to dance -- bagels and cream cheese or PB&J. It sure isn't fancy, but my family doesn't mind!

I'm also working on altering my mom's pumpkin muffin recipe. I made them on Halloween for a Halloween open house we had at my house. I substituted 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose, and you could not tell AT ALL. I also used 1/2 cup of Canola oil with DHA for half a cup of the regular canola. Next order of business is to try a higher percentage of whole wheat flour and switch the other half of a cup of regular Canola oil for unsweetened applesauce. I figure if I can pass off those switches, we'll have a much healthier snack. I'll make sure to post a final recipe once I think it's in tip-top shape.

See this week's other grocery trip here.

See also Life as Mom and Menu Planning Monday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not a lot of food around here! For some reason we've really been plowing through the food we have. I have a bunch of staples, but just not a whole lot of meal type stuff. Unfortunately, the grocery store sales seemed really weak this week. I decided we would try the Wal-Mart market by us again. I hadn't been in probably 18 months or so, so I figured it was worth a shot. However, since they don't publish a circular, I couldn't prepare a list or coupons. A total shot in the dark...

Here is what we came home with --


Total cost was $10.99 before tax. The crackers also had a free after mail in rebate tag on them. I was happy with the price of what I DID get, but I was really unimpressed with the general cost of things and the lack of sale items! We won't be going back any time soon!

I was pretty disappointed on our way home because I was HOPING to pick something up for dinner. We ended up having cheese quesadillas and bananas with vanilla yogurt. Not an ideal combination, but it wasn't so bad!

I'm not quite sure what I'll do to get us through the rest of the week! I'm thinking maybe we'll try Target tomorrow night. Hopefully I can match some sales with some good coupons!

See this week's trip to Super Target here.

See last week's $50/grocery project here and here.

See also, beingfrugal.net.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hanging out with Mom is SOOOOOOO fun...


(Wordless Wednesday)

Wordless Halloween




Monday, November 2, 2009

Icebox Boston Cream

I got tired of calling it "You know, that Boston Cream thing...the one with the graham crackers," so I started calling it what it is...Boston Cream Casserole. Now, this is a recipe you can get excited about. It is yummy in the tummy. Of all of the recipes I have poured blood, sweat and tears in to, it is the ONE thing my in-laws go crazy for. And, yes, it's the easiest thing ever.

Ingredients -

1 box of graham crackers
3 small boxes of vanilla Jello pudding
3 cups of milk
1 tub of Cool Whip
1 tub of chocolate frosting (I liked the whipped varieties.)

To start mix together the three packages of pudding and 3 cups of milk. Once it is stirred together, fold in the Cool Whip. Next, make a single layer of graham crackers on the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan. Spread half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Top cream mixture with another layer of graham crackers. Top that layer of graham crackers with the second half of the pudding mixture. Top the last half of the pudding with a third layer of graham crackers. On the third layer of graham crackers, you will top it with the entire can of chocolate frosting. Done!

This does need to chill for at least 6 hours or so the graham crackers can soften. Honestly, try this one out! Come back and tell me how much your family and friends loved it! It's perfect for anyone with a hopeless sweet tooth!

If you love this, you'll also love my No Bake Lemon Cake.

See other recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Sunday, November 1, 2009




You know it's a good trip when you have trouble making sure everything is visible for a picture.

Honestly though, I can barely believe this trip. I didn't want to go. I still don't feel good. It's a beautiful day outside, and I wanted to be having fun. But...we went. We had to, or we wouldn't have eaten this week. Here is what we got...

1 bag of cinnamon imperials
1 bag of frozen corn
1 bag of frozen peas
2 boxes of Cheez-Its
6 boxes of General Mills Cereal
1 jar of unsweetened generic applesauce
1 box of Jello
2 jars of Simply Fruit jam (I love these!)
1 32 oz bottle of Wesson canola oil
2 pints of Blue Bunny ice cream
1 Hormel turkey and gravy dinner
2 boxes of Hormel Little Sizzlers
3 1 lb bags of Reeser's hashbrowns
10 cups of Dannon yogurt
2 tubs of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 5 lb bag of Russet potatoes
1 small tub of cottage cheese

Get this -- pre-tax total was $25.72. I feel like we did SOOO good. All 6 boxes of cereal, all of the hash browns and nearly all of the yogurts were entirely free. I got a $6 bounce back coupon for milk on the cereal too. All in all, I think I came out actually $7 in the positive on the cereal deal. I'm thinking about swinging by the store for the cereal deal again! While that's normally more sugar than I want my family to eat, I will let them eat it in moderation while General Mills pays me out in organic milk.

As I already mentioned, we'll be eating things like fish sticks and fries, grilled cheese with tomato soup, sausage, eggs and hashbrowns and cavatini. I'm also going to whip up a family favorite -- Red Hot Jello, so stay tuned for that recipe! We'll be snacking on bagels and cream cheese, cereal, baby's favorite, pumpkin muffins, fresh apples and pears, biscuits and jelly and banana peanut butter smoothies.

See this week's other trip here.

See also Menu Planning Monday.

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