Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Isn't Easter the Greatest?!?!?!?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Baby Shower Frugal


Sometimes I wonder exactly what I could pull off if I was able to make it to the store -- just once -- without children!!!

I thought my purchase tonight was not so great until I got it home and stacked it up. (I think I win the prize for the highest stacking job I have ever had to maneuver. It was just really hard to make everything visible, but I tried!) My pretax total came in at, and I did it allllllll with the baby screaming through the store. That's right. I'm Super Mom. Except...if I were really Super Mom, perhaps my kid wouldn't have been screaming in the first place. Regardless, here is what we got:

1 quarter of unsalted butter
1 family sized Starkist tuna
1/2 gallon of generic OJ
3 Bertolli dinners
1 package of Philadelphia single servings (free)
1 lb of Dole frozen mangoes
1 Minute Maid Limeade concentrate
1 lb of C&H powdered sugar
1 Duncan Hines cake mix
2 cans of Dole mandarin oranges
1 big jar of Hellmans
1 box of Corn Pops
1 bag of Kraft marshmallows
1 package of generic unsweetened applesauce
1 package of Sara Lee bagels
5 jars of Skippy Natural peanut butter
1 1/2 gallon of Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip
1/2 gallon of chocolate 2% milk
5 packages of Activia
1 gallon of hormone free whole milk
1 lb of generic cottage cheese
1 packages of blackberries
1 10 lb (I think) bag of potatoes
9 kiwis

My pretax total came to about $67.00. I had a $10 gift card, which put me at $57.00 pre tax out of pocket. I also got a $10 bounce back coupon from the Unilever purchases.

On the subject of being Super Mom, I'm hosting a baby shower this weekend, so I allowed a little bit of breathing room. I'm responsible for lime shortbread and fresh fruit for 30 people. I grabbed what I thought I needed for both the week and the party, and got out of there as fast as I possibly could. I really had no idea what my grand total would amount to at the check out, but I think we fared pretty well. I'm going to pick up a pineapple and a pound of strawberries tomorrow at Target, and we'll be set. Who said throwing a party had to be expensive??? I just always offer to bring or provide whatever I know I can pull off with ingredients I have on hand or by shopping the sales on any given week.

I don't have an elaborate meal plan for the rest of the week, but I am going to try making Resurrection Biscuits with the girls for the first time. I also am going to make another batch of baby's favorite. This time I think I'm going to try apple/mango/pumpkin. The girls have been eating through a batch SO fast lately. I keep telling myself I'm not going to make it anymore, but it's hard to say no. They really love it, and I love that I've even figured out how to make it delicious while incorporating a vegetable. It's too good for them to quit making it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cranberry Orange Scones


My cafe at work has some seriously amazing blueberry scones. I've been trying to find a recipe worth trying on my own for awhile, so I was excited when I found this recipe for blueberry lemon scones. I'd never made scones before, but I thought it looked pretty easy! However, even though I was REALLY stoked about blueberry lemon scones, I have an ABUNDANCE of cranberries in my freezer and no lemons to speak of. Instead, I ended up making cranberry orange scones. It's not quite what I was going for, but I figured it was a great way to test the base recipe, which is what really matters anyway. The important part is the base recipe, and the fun part is trying a really really good recipe in new ways. I'm REALLY happy to report that this base recipe is GREAT. Really, really good. I'll be sticking with it! Here is my adapted recipe for cranberry orange scones from www.goodlifeeats.com.

***

Cranberry Orange Scones:

Scones:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup room temperature butter, cubed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate (I used fresh squeezed as I already had on hand.)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped ( I tossed mine in vanilla sugar.)
Icing:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 T frozen orange juice concentrate (Again, I used fresh.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and orange zest. Cube the butter and mix in to the mixture until the butter is pea sized. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, orange juice and milk together. Stir into the flour mixture until the dough is moist, do not over mix. Knead in the cranberries. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a couple of times. Divide dough into two equal balls. Pat each ball into an 8 inch circle. (Be careful to make sure it is not too thick in the center.) Place each ball onto a parchment paper lined or greased cookie sheet. Score each circle with a knife into 6 wedges. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until done and lightly golden. Allow the scones to cool. Meanwhile, stir powdered sugar and orange juice concentrate together. Drizzle over cooled scones. (I sanded the scones in the picture with vanilla sugar because they were just TOO pretty to frost!)

***

The only "problem" I ran in to is that after I left mine cool a little, I cut in to it to check out the middle. It wasn't done yet, so I had to throw them back in the oven to see if I could bake them through a little more. I HATE it when that happens, but it seems like it happens the first time I bake any recipe! In the future, I will definitely plan on baking these for at least 28 minutes and rechecking. I'm thinking they easily could have gone for 30 minutes and maybe a little longer. Darn, I wish I would have baked these up separately!

I also kind of think that scoring these in to only six scones made my scones TOO big. I mean, I would love to eat a HUGE scone, but who can really do that??? Next time, I'll probably experiment with how to cut these in to smaller wedges.

Now, the only "problem" I'm having is how to NOT eat a 12 cranberry oranges scones.

For more recipes, see Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Joy of Desserts, Grocery Cart Challenge.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Hy - Vee


The ads this week weren't overly impressive. I thought about making a few quick stops, but we're anticipating a big snow storm tomorrow. I decided we were just going to make one trip to Hy-Vee and do the best we could. This will allow us to stay home all day tomorrow instead of going out in the snow! We did go slightly over budget, but I think we'll be eatin' good this week! (It's kinda hard to tell from this picture though!)

Here is what we got:

3 bags of Ore Ida potatoes
1 box of Tyson buffalo popcorn chicken
2 Valley Fresh Steamers
2 Wanchai Ferry dinners
2 cans of HV black beans (not pictured)
2 2 liters of Coke (not pictured)
1 lb of generic flour
3 box of Fruit Loops
32 oz of Wesson Canola oil (not pictured)
1/2 gallon of Breyers All Natural vanilla ice cream
1 Jimmy Dean breakfast skillet
2 Dannon Activias
1 package of Danonino
1 gallon of hormone free whole milk (not pictured)
6 bags of generic cheese
1 brick of generic cheese
1 lb of organic baby carrots
1 package of celery
1 cantaloupe
2 lbs of strawberries

My pre-tax total was about $58. I saved about $20 with coupons, and I'm not sure how much by buying sale items. (Hy-Vee, will you please add this to your receipt???) In hindsight, in order to stick to the budget I should have cut back on the cheese. It was a good price, but not outstanding. We do go through a TON of it though. Like really, a ton. We're out of cheese every time I turn around, and ya'll see how much I buy! I also already had 3 lbs of flour downstairs that I forgot about, so I probably could have lived without the flour. Oh well! We're all doing the best we can, right?
Since the girls and I get to stay home tomorrow, I think we're going to try out a recipe for cranberry orange scones, and we're also going to make chicken noodle soup. I'm sort of over soup weather, but it looks like I don't have a choice tomorrow! We're also lucky to have a lot of fresh fruit again this week. Plus, we now have a freezer full of quick fix frozen meals -- pizza, Jimmy Dean and Wanchai Ferry Skillet meals and chicken poppers and fries. I also better be finding some reasons to use some grated cheese, so we'll probably make calzones and black bean and cheese quesadillas for our quick meals later this week!

See last week's purchase here.

See also www.grocerycargchallenge.blogspot.com and LifeAsMom.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coffeedoodle Donuts


Several years ago, I had a Snickerdoodle with a kick at our local Scooter's coffeehouse. After I bought it and unwrapped it, I noticed that it had black specks on it. I thought it was black pepper (honestly,) but after my first bite I noticed a very subtle coffee flavor. It was coffee grounds! SO YUMMY! It was such a great combination, and when I read this doughnut recipe, I immediately thought of that delicious variation of a Snickerdoodle. I had to try it on a doughnut! After all, what goes together better than coffee and doughnuts??? (Has no one really thought off a doughnut WITH coffee before??? Surely someone has.)

Here is my adjusted recipe -

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 8-count package large refrigerated biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coffee grounds

Directions

  1. Heat ½ cup of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Place the biscuits on a cutting board. Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter or shot glass, cut a hole in the center of each biscuit, reserving the extra dough for "holes."
  3. Test the heat of the oil by dipping the edge of a doughnut in the pan. When the oil is hot enough, the edge will bubble. Place 4 of the doughnuts and holes in the skillet and cook until golden brown, 1 to 1½ minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel–lined plate to drain. Add the remaining oil to the skillet, reheat, and cook the remaining doughnuts and holes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Gently toss the warm doughnuts in the mixture a few at a time. Serve warm or at room temperature.
We made these for dessert and served them warm with vanilla ice cream this past weekend. I seriously thought I'd died and gone to doughnut heaven. They were AWESOME and so so easy! I've spent the last week trying to block the delicious memory from my head. I still have two more tubes of biscuits in the fridge, and I need to NOT make (and obviously eat) MORE DOUGHNUTS. I think we'll try them again on Easter morning! Ah, the makings of a new tradition!

For more recipes, see Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Joy of Desserts, Grocery Cart Challenge, Food on Fridays.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Glorified Rice


This is one of our family's Easter table staples. I've never seen it anywhere other than my mom's house, so I googled it to see what I would come up with. I did find a few different variations of the recipe, but most interestingly I found this on Wikipedia:

"Glorified rice is a dessert salad served in Minnesota and other states in the Upper Midwest. It is popular in more rural areas with sizable Lutheran populations of Scandinavian heritage. It is made from rice, crushed pineapple, egg, sugar, vinegar, flour and whipped cream.[1] When served it is often decorated with maraschino cherries.[2]

The long established recipe has been the subject of many newspaper articles.[3] In 1995, Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson authored a humorous book comparing Lutheran and Catholic traditions called They Glorified Mary…We Glorified Rice: A Catholic-Lutheran Lexicon.[4][5] The book includes a recipe for Glorified rice. The dish is also included in the title of Carrie Young's Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns, and Other Recipes and Reminiscences.[6] Glorified rice often turns up at potlucks and church picnics.[7]"

I've never seen the history of a dish on Wikipedia before! I was impressed. Plus, it was consistent with what I know as my mom grew up in the Lutheran tradition. So, now we know.

My mom's variation is a little different.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of raw rice (I used brown.)

13.5 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained

1/3 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of mini marshmallows

10 chopped maraschino cherries

(I added 1/4 cup of sliced almonds.)

1 cup of Cool Whip.

Directions:

Prepare rice as directed and let cool. Stir in all other ingredients except Cool Whip and let stand for 30 minutes. Finally, stir in 1 cup of Cool Whip, and you're done! Yum!

For more recipes, see Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Joy of Desserts, Grocery Cart Challenge.

Ahead of the game...


I have the day off work today, so I am extra organized! I'm already done with 2/3 grocery trips for the week.

I allotted $70 total for groceries for the week. I added $10 of my own spending money for Lean Cuisines for lunches this week, and I added $10 from our family spending money to grab some pop on sale. I don't do that very often, but I needed to this week.

The picture above is from our trip to Hy-Vee. We spent $25.75 pre-tax.

We made a trip to Price Chopper yesterday, but somehow my picture got deleted! Here is what we got:

1 box of Keebler Almond Crisps (free)
6 bricks of Philadelphia cream cheese
4 8 oz bags of Kraft cheese
2 8 oz bricks of Kraft cheese
6 Lean Cuisine pizzas
1 box of Nestle Drumsticks
1 Digiornio Rising Crust pizza
2 avocados

My pre-tax total was $25.70. I saved $38.52. It was a REALLY good trip. Darn about the picture!

I did make one more quick trip to the grocery store, but I didn't get it uploaded. I basically just got pop, milk and chips. I also tried two new recipes this weekend -- Glorified Rice and Coffeedoodle Donuts! Both were delicious! I'll be updating with the donut recipe soon!

We got really lucky this weekend and were taken out to dinner twice! We'll also eat at Alpha tonight. This girls are home for Spring Break this week. They'll be eating ham or PB&J for lunch along with delicious fruit! We're so happy to have organic kiwis, bananas, strawberries, apples and pears on hand. I will be looking forward to Lean Cuisine cheese pizzas. For dinner tomorrow, we'll probably have pizza, too. (Have I mentioned how much I love pizza.) Dinners later in the week when daddy goes back to work will probably be Healthy Choice soups or something else easy like grilled cheese. For snacks, we'll be eating yogurt, glorified rice, cheese and crackers and cereal. I also took pumpkin puree and cranberries out of the fridge to make whole wheat pumpkin cranberry muffins, but I haven't gotten to it yet! Maybe tonight!

www.orgjunkie.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oroweat Outlet


Several weeks ago friend told mentioned to me that she saw an Oroweat outlet a few miles from our office. No lie, I've tried to find an Oroweat outlet in our area before, and the closest one I managed to locate was one about 45 minutes away. I intended on making a trip out there, but I never made it. In the meantime, I've been able to get Oroweat for under $2/loaf and that was good enough for me. WAS.

It turns out that the Oroweat outlet is no less than 2 minutes from my office. It also turns out that I got all six of these items for under $6. Wow, right? I was stoked. Really stoked. I'm also told that there is a loyalty card that is very valuable. Unfortunately, they were out when I was there, so they told me to save my receipt.

As far as availability, there wasn't a tremendously huge selection of goodies. I was told they were very picked over after a busy day yesterday. They did, however, have a really good selection of basic Oroweat breads, a small amount of Boboli pizza crusts and Tia Rosa tortillas for a great price, Thomas brand bagels and a really, really good selection of Bob's Red Mill grains.

So, while I wasn't totally sold on the Wonder bread outlet, I am COMPLETELY sold on the Oroweat outlet. I will be a regular! To locate an Oroweat outlet near you, try this link - http://www.bimbobakeriesusa.com/our_brands/outlet_stores.php

Works for Me!
LifeAsMom

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm running super behind updating this weekend! We made two grocery trips yesterday evening after ballet. The girls were barely able to hold it together through all of those things, so we came home and crashed! We spent the morning at a Salvation Army fundraising breakfast, and then we hit Old Navy and Kohl's for some kid's clothing bargain shopping.

I wasn't that impressed with the grocery store ads this week. I am happiest when I think I can save 50%+ at a single location, but that definitely didn't happen this week.

Here is what we got on our trip to Price Chopper:


My pre-tax total was $18.82. I saved $20.66.

This is what we picked up at Hen House:


My pre-tax total here was $22.13. I saved $12.59. It's not the most impressive savings, but for a collection of "staples," I think it's pretty good. Plus, I was thrilled to find water on sale given my goal of building an emergency water supply. That will be coming out of the normal grocery budget, and I think we're off to a good start. So far, we're up to 48 bottles!

I do have $5 or $6 left. I will probably make a very quick trip to Hy-Vee for cottage cheese, yogurt and Hormel sausages. That will about cover it!

For meals this week, we are having an adapted Apricot Chicken for dinner tomorrow night. We'll be eating dinner at Alpha on Monday night. Tuesday night will have to be quick, as we have my baby's first haircut scheduled for later afternoon. Later in the week, we'll be eating informally with our usual "go-tos" -- grilled cheese, tuna noodles and black bean and cheese quesadillas. I also made yet another huge crock pot full of baby's favorite (apple/pear/apricot this time) for the girls to eat for snacks and breakfast. Lunches this week will be brown bagged, except for mine. I am taking a step up from brown bagging and am actually keep bread, PB&J and a piece of fruit at work to make lunch extra simple AND frugal. I'm cutting back my lunch costs to the absolute bare bones. There is method behind the madness. Stay tuned!

www.orgjunkie.com

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Emergency Plan...

Does your family have a hammered out emergency plan? We took 30 minutes this weekend to discuss as a family what we would do if there was ever any sort of disaster where we could not reach one another by phone. I would encourage everyone to take some time to do the same with your family. It is certainly not a "happy" subject, but it is critical. In the event of a disaster, it could relieve a lot of confusion and heartache.

Some basic topics to consider...

1. Where will you meet?
2. Who will gather up the children?
3. How long will you wait at your centralized meeting place?
4. What about grandparents? Are there other family members or friends with special needs that should be accounted for?
5. What if someone is "missing?"

While our emergency plan is very people centered, we did also discuss our need for water reserves. We have never had ANY, which I know is not very smart. I'm going to be working over the next several months to build an emergency water supply.

If anyone has any suggestions for details that I have missed, I would love to hear them. Also, feel free to share YOUR emergency plan.

Works for Me

Followers