Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back to Work

Well, we survived our low budget week pretty nicely. We ended up cashing in a big jar of change, so we could enjoy our last weekend of my maternity leave. We ate out a few times, went to a nice outlet mall in town and got take out with both sets of our parents. Worth every penny!

Amazingly, my 8 week maternity leave is coming to a close. I am of course super sad and a little worried about how I (and my husband and mom who also work and watch the little ones) will manage this new chapter in our lives. That being said, my focus for groceries this week was EASY. I need easy snacks and meals for work, and I really needed to make sure that I left easy breakfast items for the girls. (I accidentally sent my big girl to school without breakfast TWICE this week. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit food in to their morning. Preparation isn't the problem, I'm realizing. The problem is providing enough time for them to actually eat. It takes them FOREVER! This week, I'm making sure I have a few things they can eat in the car on the way to school if necessary.)

I broke this week's groceries in to two quick trips. The first trip was our trip to Price Chopper, which is pictured above. The pre-tax total was $43.22. I saved $52.04. this is one of the best trips I've had in a long time. I made a second trip to Hen House where I picked up a gallon of milk, a package of tortillas, a big tub of Dannon yogurt and 2 lbs of strawberries. My pre-tax total was about $7.

Our meals for this week will include Philadelphia Fettuccine and Mexican Crockpot Chicken. I also have some Confetti Chicken Casserole, Salsa Soup, Enchilada Soup and pumpkin bread that we can dip in to if necessary. I'm not dying to dip in to my freezer stash of stuff, but I have a feeling this next few weeks will be an exercise in "getting by!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011


(Bad picture, Delicious Food)

This is yet another recipe I borrowed from Food Network. I saw this recipe on Mexican Made Easy, and I got really excited. We LOVE Mexican food, and I was so happy that this is a meatless recipe. I prepare dishes with meat for the family a lot, but it usually means I end up either not eating or eating something like a bowl of cereal. I am happiest when there is a recipe we can enjoy as a family, and this is one of those. My girls went crazy over it.

Here is the recipe,


  • 4 cups cooked pinto beans, (Frijoles De La Olla, recipe follows) drained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 plum tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Manchego, Swiss or Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Mexican crema or regular sour cream, for drizzling
  • 2 thin slices red onion, separated into rings


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the drained beans and chicken broth in a large bowl.
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, tomato, chile, and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Rub the oregano, between palms of your hands and sprinkle over the beans. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Add the beans and broth to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool the beans for about 5 minutes before putting them in the blender. Carefully, pour the mixture into a blender and puree. Return the pureed mixture to the pan and gently reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
Using tongs, pass the tortillas 1 by 1 through the refried bean sauce until they are somewhat softened and coated on both sides with the sauce. Set aside on a plate. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. Fold in half and arrange them, overlapping, in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Top with an additional 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the bean sauce, just enough to cover the beans but allow the edges of the folded tortillas to show. Bake until cheese is melted about 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve, drizzle with Mexican sour cream lengthwise in a 2-inch thick strip down the center of the dish. Top with 8 overlapping red onion rings.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

KOKOPELLI'S Chicken Enchilada Soup

The fantastic recipe is from a restaurant called Kokopelli that is right by our house, and it's one of my mom's new favorites. It's nice and mild, so it's a good family dish. My girls love it with sour cream and cheddar on top and a side of tortilla chips. Those that like to live on the spicier side can add enchilada sauce (like I did) or pico. The recipe is as follows,

(from the Kansas City Originals website)


Posted: 4/1/2009
Makes 6 servings

½ tablespoon vegetable oil
½ pound of chicken (approximately three fillets)
¼ cup diced onions
½ clove garlic, pressed
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup masa harina
1½ cups water
½ cup enchilada sauce
8 ounces Velveeta
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chile powder
¼ teaspoon cumin

Add oil to large pot over medium heat. Add chicken breasts to pot and brown for 4-5 minutes per side. Set chicken aside. Add onions and garlic to pot and sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until onions begin to become translucent. Add chicken broth. Combine masa harina with 1 cup of water in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Add masa mixture to pot with onions, garlic and broth. Add remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese and spices to pot and bring mixture to a boil. Shred chicken into small, bite-sized pieces and add to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 30-40 minutes or until thick.

Serve soup in cups or bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled corn tortilla chips ad pico de gallo.

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Getting Creative

Since I overspent on groceries last week, I had to get really creative this week! Normally, I would probably just squeak by, but our fridge was looking REALLY bare. In fact, my daughter asked if I had "cleaned it out." If you can call eating everything "cleaning it out," then yes!

Anyway, I got lucky (if you can call it that) and had to fill a prescription for both myself AND Archer (for the third time) for thrush. Thankfully I noticed in this week's ad that Target had a coupon for a $10 gift card with any new or transferred prescription! We had one prescription filled earlier this week, and then I had two more filled today. My total out of pocket cost (well, from my flex plan) was about $18, but I got $30 back in gift cards. (Thanks goodness for small miracles!) I spent $14 from the gift cards on groceries. This is what I got,

I spent my $23 cash at Price Chopper. Then, I went to Hy Vee where I finally remembered to return all of that tuna in oil, which gave me $6 to spend at Hy Vee. Here is what I got at both stores,

I ended up spending about $47 after tax. I'm SO glad I had a few options to come up with some extra money, or we would have been way bare bones this week. Some of this week's menu items will include calzones, spaghetti and spinach pie, pumpkin bread, cheesy eggs and frozen pizza. I also have three new recipes I'm going to try out this week -- chicken enchilada soup, baked quesadillas and peach cake. Watch for those recipes soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blueberry Sauce

I'm still on my quest to use up our freezer full of blueberries since picking season is not all that far off! I've had this recipe for blueberry sauce in my recipe box on for a super long time, and I finally got around to making it. I totally loved it! It made my pancakes deliciously special. It would also be a great sauce over ice cream, and I was thinking we might have to try to make shakes with the leftovers tomorrow night. YUM!
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/4 cup of water, orange juice, and sugar. Stir gently, and bring to a boil.
  2. In a cup or small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Gently stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries so as not to mash the berries. Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and cinnamon. Thin sauce with water if it is too thick for your liking.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cranberry Apple Cake

I watched Ina Garten make this cake a few weeks ago, and it was right up my alley! I love foods that are a little rustic and friendly. Plus, I have about 10 lbs of frozen cranberries in my freezer, so this was perfect. However, I have to say I was a little scared of all of the cranberries. I thought about trying it with all blueberries, but since I was able to get a good deal on Granny Smith apples this week, I decided to just change up the ratio.

I have to say, it is VERY good. The actual cake is incredible. Even my husband, who thinks anything with fruit is a "fruitcake," went crazy for it. I would definitely make this again, and I think that you could pretty easily change up the fruits. I'm thinking cherry would be awesome, so I'll have to try that one of these days!

Here is my adjusted recipe,
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.
Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.


A few tips...

I was really generous with the cinnamon and sugar on top, and I think it made *all* the difference. So good! Also, this took me closer to 60-65 minutes to bake thoroughly. Just watch carefully to make sure the middle is really done!

Littlest Nursling

This picture was taken at almost 5 weeks. Would you believe that bright eyed baby was admitted to the hospital just a few hours later? Poor little guy!

Sick Baby

What a week! Last Saturday night, my 8 lb bundle of cuteness was diagnosed with RSV. 4 days and 4 Urgent Care visits later, he was admitted to our local children's hospital. It was the worst.timing.ever. as 3/4 grandparents are out of town, and my husband just missed a few days from work due to his grandma's passing. Ah yes, when it rains, it pours!

The good news is that the little man made a speedier recovery than expected, and we got to come home yesterday afternoon! The bad news was that I HAD to the grocery store. I've never left one of my nurslings at home before 6 months, but I thankfully had just a few ounces of milk in the freezer that I was able to make a super fast trip. (I'm realizing with three kids I'm going to need a bigger milk stash! I already pump at work 3 times a day, but I'm going to have to add in some home pumping!)

We went a little over budget due to my rushing. I was also out of a few staples (sugar, toilet paper, jelly, milk, bread) and had to pay full price for the sugar, jelly and milk, which I normally prefer not to do. Our total was right around $75 after tax.

We're semi home bound for the next week or two as we're trying to keep the little one from getting sick again before the end of RSV season. I'll have to do some looking for new recipes to try! I'm going to make baked potato soup tonight by my husband's request. I also have a new recipe for a cranberry apple cake I'm going to test out. Other meals will include Mexican crockpot chicken with our favorite black bean dip and other quick things like turkey sandwiches, mac and cheese and taco soup from the freezer stash.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blueberry Bread

We lovvvve blueberries at our house! I have several lbs in my freezer from last year's picking season. I've been thinking I should try a recipe for blueberry bread, so when I found this one with such great reviews, I was really happy.

I adjusted the recipe a little, and I was so, SO happy with the results. It is absolutely delicious -- like a huge muffin but maybe yummier! Here is the adjusted recipe,
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon or orange zest
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, milk, vanilla and orange zest. Combine flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Better than dining out enchiladas...

Enchiladas are one of our favorite cheap and quick dinners around here. Our favorite is cheese (cheese and onion for Daddy.) Some other fun filling ideas ideas are ground beef (try browning ground beef and stirring in half a can of enchilada sauce) or Mexican crock pot chicken.

There isn't so much of a "recipe," just a method. To begin with, I coat the bottom of the pan in about 1/4 inch of enchilada sauce. I top each tortilla with about two tablespoons of enchilada sauce and about 1/2 of a cup of whatever filling I am using. Next, you just roll them up and place them in a pan so they're all touching. ( I get 7 enchiladas in a 9x13 pan.) Top with a can of sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Perfection!

Here is the cost breakdown (according to the price I actually paid.)

1 small onion - $.46
2 cans of generic enchilada sauce - $.95 apiece
7 tortillas - $.16 apiece
1.5 bags of generic Mexican blend cheese - $1.25 apiece

Total cost = $5.35 or $.76/enchilada

Yummier and cheaper than hitting your local Mexican restaurant!

$50 Even Steven

The little man and I hit the grocery store this morning for the 3 Day sale at Hy Vee. The sale prices on strawberries, OJ and a few other items were super great, but I was still marveling at the regular price of a lot of necessities...milk (again,) a loaf of bread, a lb of non-organic apples ($3.50!) etc. I'm sadly feeling the need to really pinch the budget again. As the price of gas continues to rise, the price of groceries will too. Today I also found myself reading nutritional value on boxes of cereal and loaves of bread before I decided what to purchase as I remembered that being "smartly" frugal means that nutritional impact matters more than price per ounce when you're feeding little people (or anyone for that matter.)

I don't have my receipt in front of me to list everything that I got, but I think I did pretty well! We came in at $50.00 even before tax. ($55 after our nearly 10% food tax in Kansas.) I also picked up a bag of fun sized Take 5 bars and a Edy's ice cream half gallon (or whatever the actual size has shrunk to) that are not pictured. What was that I was saying about nutrition? Oh well, everyone needs a little treat now and again!

Meal time with the new little guy has been interesting, to say the least! Since I'm nursing two kids, I barely have time to eat at all! Most of my meals are spent hovering over the counter with a bowl of cereal sometimes WHILE nursing the little guy. (This explains the excessive amounts of cereal in recent posts.) I've also been feeding a lot of cereal to the girls in the morning. I'm still trying to solve the mystery of how to get three kids AND myself ready AND get everyone breakfast in the morning. So far, we can manage a bowl of cereal for the girls and a granola bar for mommy in the car on the way to school. (Does anyone have any great breakfast tips for me?)

For meals for the rest of the week, I have a few things planned. This afternoon I'm going to try a new recipe for blueberry bread. Other meals this week will include manicotti, frozen pizza, turkey sandwiches, strawberry smoothies, and cheese and onion enchiladas and whatever else I can dream up!