Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sugar Coma Cake Balls

Well, the cake balls were a success!

I saw this recipe on and have wanted to try it for a very long time. I decided it would be a great treat for my girl's school Valentine's Day parties, but I figured I ought to test it first. Here is the recipe (from -


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting
  • 1 (3 ounce) bar chocolate flavored confectioners coating


  1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.
  2. Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the chocolate cake mixture. Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set.
I read the reviews of the website carefully for some tips first too! Here are the critical tips:

1. Cut off the edges of the cake for ease of mixing.
2. Definitely mix frosting in while the cake is still very warm (hot, even.)
3. I froze the cake balls before dipping.
(4. I stuck toothpicks in all of them before dipping, but I found it unneccesary. I ended up just throwing them in a bowl of chocolate and fishing them out with a toothpick. Hence, you only need 1 toothpick instead of one for each cake ball.)

And my own additional tip, make the actual cake balls smaller than you think they should be. Mine were about the size of golf balls, but once they were dipped, they are just TOO big. They are so sweet that you don't want more than a small little bite.

For the ones I made today, I used a carrot cake mix and cream cheese frosting. The only thing I was little disappointed with was the color of the actual cake once mixed with frosting. It turned a really unappetizing shade of gray. I probably wouldn't make a carrot variety again, but I'm betting strawberry cake or red velvet cake would make a darling little cake ball!

And, even as sweet as they were, they passed my non-sweet-eater's taste test.

I honestly thought that she would not eat them. In fact, she ate TWO. I never would have let her have two, but she has an older sister who is happy to indulge her. Spoiled baby!

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom,

A snowy shopping run...

We had a power errand running session last night. We went to two grocery stores and to Target to get two birthday presents for parties this upcoming week. It was freezing and snowing, but I HAD to take advantage of having only one kid again on a Friday night. I miss not having my tiniest grocery buddy, but it sure is helpful (and VERY rare) when I don't have to take both of my girls with me!

Even still, this is not my greatest trip ever because in total coupon shopping failure, I didn't have a list. I'd looked at the grocery ads, of course, and they were just not impressive. I basically just decided we'd wing it at the Hen House since we'd be right by one, and I knew I needed to get cheese at Hy-Vee. That's exactly what I did.

At Hen House I got -

1 box of toothpicks
50 feet of foil
3 boxes of Electrasol gel gaps
3 cans of Red Gold tomatoes
1 can of Rotel
1 Betty Crocker carrot cake mix
1 Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting
1 box of Beechnut banana cookies
1 Pam with flour
1 loaf of Oroweat 100% whole wheat
1 Digiornio for 1 200 calorie pizza (free)
1 bag of Ore-Ida fries
1 Jack's pizza
1 El Monterrey family size enchilada
1 El Monttery Steak and Cheese taquito
5.02 lbs of apples
4.25 lbs of pears
2.19 lbs of grapes

My pre-tax total was $42.57. I saved 50%. It is far from my best total ever, but I did what I could! I was also happy to see that I saved $77.69 in January on just store sales at Hen House. I figure that's pretty good, especially since I don't do all of my shopping there.

At Hy-Vee we grabbed four bags of cheese and a package of almond bark. My total was $7-something pre-tax.

We have a busy week again this week -- Sunday dinner out with my in-laws, 2 birthday parties, Alpha is starting again, the baby has a doctor's appointment, and of course, we all have work and school as usual. We'll be taking it easy and eating pretty simply like we have done for the last few weeks. I do however have a baking project planned -- cake balls! I've been wanting to make them for a long time, and I decided they would be fun for the girl's Valentine's Day parties at school. I figured I better give them a test run though! Stay tuned. That's on the agenda for tonight!

I have to add, that I finally feel like we've recovered from our mini pantry challenge at the end of Dec. I am interested to start reading if others who participated for the whole month of January will experience an after the pantry challenge crisis like I did. The good news is, it got better! I think it really took as a full three weeks to recover from 14 days without shopping, but it was such a good exercise in eating what we had!

See also and

Sunday, January 24, 2010


1st Time Out.
You do the crime. You pay the time.

This may be my worst update ever as I don't have my receipt in front of me, and I can't remember my total. I think it was somewhere between $30-$35 pre-tax. I guess that means I went over for the week (see our other purchase here.) I did a really bad job with coupons on this trip. I haven't even been through last week's coupons yet, and I never had the chance to set aside the coupons I needed for either of my trips this week. At the very least, I usually try to scan through them, so I remember what I have. Didn't even do that this week. I guess this just goes to show that it's impossible for anyone to be on top of their game (even their best game) all the time.

We have a pretty good stock of food left from last week since my husband was sick the majority of this past week. (I guess we know who the big eater is around here now!) We won't be eating anything too fancy! We'll probably have a baked potato buffet at some point this week, breakfast for dinner, black bean and cheese burritos. Our Thursday and Friday night dinners are usually very simple. We're all really worn down by Thursday night, so we usually just kind of graze. Friday night dinners are on the go because my oldest daughter has ballet. For dessert, the coconut candy I made yesterday will serve our (ie my) sweet tooth well. As far as the little girl's breakfasts go, I'm also overdue for a big crock pot of baby's favorite. For now, we're getting ready to make a big bowl of guacamole! Go Vikings!

See also The Grocery Chart Challenge!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Coconut Bon-Bons

These coconut candies are one of my husband's all time favorites. They are surprisingly easy and VERY delicious. I am not really a huge coconut fan, but these are super good. They've been a Christmas tradition around here, but I'm thinking they would be a better Valentine's Day tradition. These would be so easy to wrap up in a small cellophane bag or a small box for gifts for teachers, friends or other loved ones. They hold up very well.

Recipe -

3 cups of coconut (I used sweetened.)
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 melted stick of butter
2 cubs of unsweetened Baker's chocolate

All you do is stir the coconut, powdered sugar and melted butter in a big bowl! Roll the coconut mixture in to a small ball, place on a cookie sheet, and make a small indentation in the top. Fill the indentation with melted Baker's chocolate and leave to set! I put mine in the fridge for a few minutes, and they were good to go!

(Note, I made these a little bigger than normal, so I could try to get a better picture. They should be the right size for a single bite. They are REALLY rich!)

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Vintage Recipe Thursday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Krazy Kitchen and Mouthwatering Monday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hen House 01/22

We had a little bit of a hard week this week! My husband has been down the majority of the week with the flu and/or a back injury. He's finally on the upswing today, and he's also decided now that he is feeling better that he needs to turn his eating habits around a little bit. Generally, I believe in feeding my family whole foods that come straight from the earth. I feel like I do a really good job standing by that principle when I feed the girls. They very easily get by on primarily on beans, fruits and veggies, whole grains, breast milk and a little bit of dairy. However, I love to over-indulge in sugar, and my husband eats just generally too much convenience food and junk. To support his change, I made a careful effort to buy a good variety of whole foods that I know he likes.

Here is what we got on our first grocery trip this weekend -

3 bags Quaker rice cakes
2 Aunt Jemima whole wheat pancake mixes
1 bag of tortillas
1 box of Saltines
1 box of Fruit Loops
1 bag of Stacy's pita chips (free)
1 Land o' Lakes butter (free)
1 Yoplait Smoothie kit (free)
1 Green Giant pasta and veggie kit
1 Blue Bell Blackberry Cobbler ice cream (This is SO good! (Good thing I already came clean about my sugar addiction!))
1 box of grape tomatoes
2 small boxes of blueberries
6.19 lbs of Russet potatoes
.69 lbs red onions
2 limes
5 avocados

My ore-tax total was $23.60. I saved $40.55 or 63%.

I'll make one other quick trip this week to Hy-Vee for their Sunday sale.

See last week's purchase here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pink & Orange Shortbread

A few months back, I posted a recipe I saw on Food Network for Earl Grey Tea Shortbread. We really liked the cookies, but the Earl Grey flavor was a little too delicate for me. However, I did really like the method used for making the shortbread, and I immediately thought of a million different ways I could make them. Since I made the original Earl Grey recipe, I have also tried the same recipe with 70% dark chocolate shavings and Halloween sprinkles. We really liked all of those variations, so I was excited to try my next idea -- Orange Shortbread with Pink Grapefruit glaze. This was BY FAR my best variation yet. I could have eaten the whole batch. Honestly. (Incidentally, my mom made the same claim.)

Here is the recipe:



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature


In a food processor, pulse together the flour, orange zest, and salt, until the orange zest is just spotted throughout the flour. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (2 probably needed depending on size of sheets). Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool to room temperature.


One the cookies have cooled, I made a glaze with fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice and powdered sugar. I couldn't tell you the exact measurements. It basically takes a lot MORE sugar than you think and a lot LESS juice. Just add the juice to powdered sugar slowly and stir until you have a thick but spreadable glaze.

Please join in the recipe sharing fun at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, Diary of a Stay at Home Mom and Life As MOM!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Make friends with the cobbler...

In the past, I've been a big fan of getting my shoes repaired. I used to take them to the mall where they could be repaired while we walked around, grabbed a quick lunch, whatever. Unfortunately, the nice cobbler shop at the mall closed about two years ago. Even more unfortunately for me, my shoes fell in to serious disrepair.

I tend to have pretty expensive taste in shoes. I am happy if I can fall in love with a good quality shoe for under $80 or so. I know, I know. Honestly though, I do NOT have a vast shoe collection. I have two pairs of dress shoes (heels and flats) and two pairs of casual shoes (tennis shoes and a dressy-ish flat.) I HATE shopping for shoes because I am just so darn picky. I would live in $1 flip flops from Old Navy if I could.

Anyway, this weekend, I HAD to find somewhere to get my shoes fixed up. I've been wearing my heels for 2 years nearly every day. I haven't had my flats as long, but they got really dinged up in the snow over the last few weeks. (As a testament to my lack of shoe wardrobe, I need boots.) They came back looking so great and guess what my grand total was --$17! The heels were more expensive as they needed new heels, but still such a steal! Far cheaper than to new pairs of "cheap" shoes.

See also Coupon Teacher and Works for me!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

MLK weekend at Hy-Vee

Here is what we got on our second grocery trip this weekend

2 1/2 gallons of generic OJ
1 Tropicana OJ (free)
1 frozen Wanchai Ferry dinner
3 boxes of Barilla pasta
1 Earthgrains 100$ whole wheat Thin Buns
3 small cans of Hunts tomato sauce
1 can of generic almonds
1 can of generic black beans
2 boxes of Frosted Flakes (1 was free)
5 Quaker snacks
1 loaf of Sara Lee whole wheat white bread (free)
1 tube of Sunsweet Ones
5 packages of Ramen
1 box of Tornados
2 packages Hillshire Farms lunch meat
1 tub of Smart Balance sour cream
2 Glade candles (1 was free)
5 bags of Kraft cheese
1 package of tortillas
1 5 lb bag of potatoes
1.62 lbs of bananas

My total came in at just under $40. With yesterday's purchase I did go a little over, but the good news is that I was under last week by about $10. (I never had to make another stop for milk.) I guess that means we break even for the two weeks. The other GREAT news is that I also earned $8 in bounce back dollars from the Quaker and Glade purchases. Yay! I will be needing them next week for sure! I think we'll be looking at that empty fridge again by Friday.

We'll be eating very simply this week. I'm planning on making some orange muffins for breakfast -- maybe a double batch. We'll be gone both tomorrow and Monday night for dinner, and we'll probably go out to eat on Monday afternoon to celebrate having an extra day off as a family this week. Other than that, I'm guessing we'll be getting back to the basics with meals like grilled
cheese, baked potatoes, french toast and homemade hashbrowns, spaghetti, quesadillas, etc.

See also Grocery Cart Challenge.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good deals on budget breakers at Hen House...

If you saw the picture of my empty fridge yesterday, you can understand why I am feeling so much pressure to stretch our $50 budget this week! I have no choice but to make more than one stop and to only pick up the very best deals. Of course, I am not only keeping value in mind but nutrition.

I did pretty good tonight! My overall savings was 63%.! I spent $19.58 pre-tax and saved $31.00. I achieved this number buy combining sales, manufacturer's coupons and coupons for a fundraiser store coupon book that someone gave to me. (Thanks again, Aunt Carol!)

Here is what I got:

1 Jumbo pack of Huggies
1 box of Cheerios (free)
1 box of Nabisco mini saltines
2 gallons of Ocean Spray Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1 dozen organic eggs
1 gallon of hormone free whole milk
1 gallon of hormone free chocolate milk
1 half gallon of Edy's ice cream
4.25 lbs of oranges
6.25 lbs of grapefruits (free)

While a 63% savings is not my highest yet, I'm pretty impressed by it considering my purchase included a good amount of produce, organic and hormone free goods and the worst budget breaker of all -- DIAPERS!

We'll hit another store tomorrow morning and that will be it for the week. In the meantime, don't forget about my Help Haiti fundraiser. You can also see last week's purchase here.

Help Haiti

In conjunction with MoneySavingMom, I am more than glad to donate $1 to Covenant World Relief's Haiti Earthquake Relief for every comment and/or link (up to $400.)

If you have some time, please also take a few minutes to read about all of the other great things Covenant World Relief is doing around the world.

Additionally, Haiti covets your prayers. Please pray for those who are injured, have lost a loved one, are homeless, trapped and/or hungry and thirsty.

"How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need yet refuses to help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action." (1 John 3:17-18)

*** This donation has been made. Feel free to keep the comments AND THE PRAYERS coming!***

01/18/2010 07:21 AM (PT)
Evangelical Covenant Church

Thank you for your donation toward earthquake relief in Haiti.

The following summarizes your contribution:
Payment Amount: $420.00

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's a darn good thing...

I'll hit the grocery store for at least part of our groceries tomorrow. This is what my fridge looks like:

At least I could get a good look at how badly it needed to be cleaned (which is why the produce drawers are out!)

My pantry and freezer look about the same. I DO have food, but I'm limited on variety and things I can actually use. What can I do with ten lbs of frozen chicken breast, 8 tubs of Cool Whip, 6 boxes of cereal, 3 boxes of taco shells and 3 bricks of cream cheese, 2 single servings of applesauce, 2 leftover pancakes and a jar of garlic...??? Ha!

Meet The Newest Member of Our Family, GE Adora...

So, I've needed a dishwasher for about 3 out of the last 3.5 years we've lived here. I intended on putting one on my Christmas list two years ago, but we decided to make it work for another year. By Christmas 2008, my racks were starting to rust out and fall apart. My parents gave us a "certificate" for Christmas that allowed for us to pick out a dishwasher on their dime. I had an impossible one deciding on one, and that offer expired. Well, it didn't really expire, but my mom picked out and had a freezer delivered to me as a surprise in September. We needed one of those too, and I figure she felt "safe" picking one out for us. Thanks mom!

Well, Christmas 2009 came around, and my dishes were coming out dirtier than when we put them in, and the racks in the washer were disintegrating right before our very eyes. It was time. We decided we had to bite the bullet, and we ended up saving $350 from our Christmas budget to get a new dishwasher. It wasn't our favorite decision we've ever made. Nobody is dying to get a dishwasher for Christmas, but it was necessary. It was the only way we would have the extra money.

I hit the after Christmas sales and read some reviews online, and I decided I would get this one. When I went to pick it up, it was a total no go. It felt really cheap and like it wasn't worth the low price tag. Back to square one, AND we had to "up" our budget. Thankfully, my last paycheck of the year included a $150 bonus for passing an industry related exam. That money was mine to do whatever I wanted, so we decided to put it towards the dishwasher.

Guess what happened at square one?!?!?! Our dishwasher moved on from not cleaning dishes and disintegrating to LEAKING. BIG PROBLEM. My mom told me that Home Depot was having 10% off all appliances with free delivery and take away. I decided I was in. I once again read some reviews online, talked to my mom and mother in law about their GE's, and decided on a GE Adora. I hauled the girls out in no more than 5 degree snowy weather, and we sealed the deal for a final price of 10% off the sale price. Not too bad I thought. A really good dishwasher for a pretty good price.

And then everything came crashing to a halt...

I had to delay the delivery for almost a week due to heavy snow. It wasn't too big of a deal but when my husband pulled the old dishwasher out, it stopped working all together. We also discovered that our old dishwasher was hard-wired in to our electrical. It occurred to me that I should have asked how the new dishwasher was set up (or maybe the dishwasher sales person should have helped me to think through that.) I called Home Depot, and I was assured that the dishwasher was a plug in. Sooooo, my husband broke out the tools and installed a plug in where the hard wiring was done. It wasn't too big of a deal, but we did have to spend an hour or two in the dark while he did the work!

When the dishwasher finally arrived on Tuesday, it arrived during the 15 minutes my husband had to take my oldest daughter to school. He asked the delivery drivers to either give him 15 minutes or to come back later in the morning. They agreed, but didn't show back up. When I called GE, I was told that they had reset our delivery time for Saturday. SATURDAY! SATURDAY?!?!?!?!?!? (I was heated. Let me tell you.) Home Depot's customer service was a little better. They bumped me up to Thursday. Eventually called the trucking company myself, and the owner offered to delivery my dishwasher himself with his own personal pick-up. I really owe that nice man a favor!

Soooooooooo, after being treated horribly by GE and not a whole lot of help from Home Depot, I finally got my new dishwasher! We were so stoked until we was HARD-WIRED. I promptly dialed Home Depot where I explained that I had ACTUALLY managed to get my dishwasher (with no help from them,) and that they had given me misinformation about the electrical workings of my dishwasher. (You can guess where I was going here. DISCOUNT.) I think the lady I had been working with was feeling pretty bad for me by this time. She immediately offered me another 10% off. I geared up with my favorite Dave Ramsey line from Financial Peace University that I had not yet had a chance to use, "THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH." Instead, I got another 15% off and a free electrical adapter kit.

And that's the story of how I got a $699 dishwasher for $449. I know, I know, $449 is a lot of money. Good things come to those who wait, and I feel like God blessed our patience, consideration of our resources and our savings effort! After tax, our new dishwasher came in at almost exactly our combined Christmas and bonus savings -- $500!

I couldn't call myself "Frugalista" if my message was buying the cheapest thing possible. That's just being cheap. Instead, being frugal is about getting the absolute best product for the absolute best price. It takes some practice, but I think I'm getting pretty good! It's the only way I can afford to be "fancy!" Maybe sometime I'll tell you guys about how I got the brand new 38K Chrysler Town and Country for 23K. Maybe that's a new car purchase I could even get Dave Ramsey to stand behind...???

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blueberry Slump

We are blueberry-eatin' people. Always have been. Always will be. I love that my girls love them so much. They plow through them at a break-neck speed. When I was little, I used to go to with my mom to pick gallons upon gallons of blueberries in the summer. This summer, I finally made it to the blueberry patch with my little family! We went twice, and I barely picked enough for us to eat what we wanted and to have some to freeze. I did stash about 4 cups of berries in the freezer to save for a rainy day. Today was that rainy (or snowy) day!

(That's my mom WAY in the distance, and my daughter running behind her! My girls sure did love getting some fresh country air. I can't wait until we can go back this summer! BTW, this is just one part of one out of twenty or so patches at this blueberry farm!)

When I was a little girl, my mom used to always make Blueberry Slump when we came home from blueberry picking. I remember it being a yummy special treat, but when she made it again this year for the first time in, oh, maybe 20 years, I realized HOW special it really is. I think I decided it is hands down the most delicious thing she makes. I don't know why I had to wait 20 years to have it again!!!

Here is the recipe:

In 3-quart pan:

2 cups blueberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Mix and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 5 minutes.


3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut in 1 stick butter then stir in 2 tablespoons buttermilk and barely mix. (I made my own buttermilk with 2 tablespoons of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon.)

Drop by tablespoons on bubbling berry mixture. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

(Note, I didn't have a 3 quart saucepan. I had 4 or a 2 quart. I ended up using the 4, even though I'm pretty sure my mom uses a 2. I would not recommend using the 4 quart. It was a little soupier than normal on the bottom!)

Isn't it just lovely? The process is just so rustic. I love it! It makes me think of cooking dinner for my family over an open fire in a single pot. I can imagine that is where this recipe comes from.

**FYI - Frozen blueberries are on sale for $2.29 at Target this week. You can make Blueberry Slump for under $3. I would say this makes about 4-5 servings.**
Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Vintage Recipe Thursday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Krazy Kitchen, Melt in Your Mouth Monday and Mouthwatering Monday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Early shopping run...

In anticipation of the super cold next few days here in KC, I did my shopping a little early. I was lucky to have my husband home to watch the girls, so I didn't have to drag them out too. Yay for daddies!

I will admit that I am learning that the aftermath of our pantry challenge is harder than the pantry challenge it's self. I'm looking at today's purchase, and I'm wondering how it will see us through until next Friday. It's been awhile since the $50/week limit has really been a challenge for us. Really, $50 has totally been enough. Skipping a week of shopping did take it's toll, though. I knew that it would! I am still glad that we put the effort in to the challenge, though. It was necessary to keep things from aging too long in my pantry.

Now, here is what I picked up this week...

1 16 oz tub of generic cottage cheese
1 package of 100% whole wheat Earthgrains Thin Buns
1 Disney tin of popcorn (I didn't care about the popcorn, but I thought the tin would be good for toy storage! It was only $1)
4 bags of generic noodles
1 can of black beans
1 package of generic tuna
1 16 oz can of tomato sauce
4 boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese
1 1/2 gallon of all natural vanilla ice cream
2 large pizzas from the deli (1 was free)
2 boxes of Tornados
1 Hormel meatoaf
2 boxes of Hormel sausage
2 packages of YoPlait Plus
1 Glade mini candle (free)
3 boxes of various Glad ziplock bags
1 bag of generic shredded cheese
1 packages of Kraft singles
4 2 litres of Diet Coke (3 were free)
3.28 lbs of oranges
1.44 lbs of sweet potatoes
4 Ruby Red grapefruits

My pretax total was just slightly over $40. I do not plan on making another trip this week, but I may have to stop to get milk at some point later this week. I'm hoping to just stay below our $50 threshold this week.

Our meals this week will probably not be very fancy. Some of the things we'll be dining on are:

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
Yogurt and Fruit Smoothies
Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothies
Tuna Noodle Salad
Salsa Soup
Blueberry Slump

I also have some of the usual standbys on hand - fish sticks and fries, grilled cheese and tomato soup and spaghetti with marinara. This weekend I'm also planning on sharing my mom's super delicious blueberry slump recipe! It is really something to look forward to. Yum!

See last week's purchase here.

See other weekly menu ideas here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

Remember how I bought like 6 lbs of cranberries last week? In my search for cranberry recipes, I came upon this recipe for pumpkin cranberry muffins. I was a little wary of the cranberry and pumpkin combination, but I figured with the high ratings, I didn't have much to lose!

I made these for the first time last Sunday as an after dinner snack. We ate them warm out of the oven, and we were a little "eh" about them. Both my big girl and my husband thought the cranberries were too tart. The other half of the family (being me and the little girl) thought they were just fine but nothing to excited about. Incidentally, I took one to work for an afternoon snack and Oh.My.Gosh. these were so delicious the next day. Really, REALLY delicious.

I did adjust these a little bit for health purposes the first time I made them. The second time I made them, I decided to ramp up the spice a little bit too. Here is my adjusted recipe:


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped


  1. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar; add the pumpkin and oil and mix well. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the cranberries. Fill foil-or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Top with cinnamon and sugar.
I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

(Excuse the mess! Focus on the deliciousness!)

Umm, YUM. I really cannot stand frozen veggie burgers, but I sure do love a good homemade black bean burger! I was excited to try this recipe since it had such good reviews, and the ingredients are so frugal and easy! However, I discovered about halfway through the process that I was out of both cumin and bread crumbs. Oops! My adjusted recipe was as follows:


  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced very fine
  • 1/2 onion diced very fine
  • 3 teaspoons of jarred garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown rice


  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. Stir bell pepper, onion and garlic in to black bean mixture.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, taco seasoning and chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in brown rice until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
*Disclaimer* - Black bean burgers tend not to stay together very well -- even the ones I've had at nice restaurants. I baked mine in the oven, and they really held together pretty well. I did have one kind of crumble when I flipped it, but the others were just fine. I would recommend using leftover rice as it tends to dry out, and I would also let these rest a good 5 or so minutes before transferring to a bun. They seem to be firmer when they're not super hot.

I will admit that my kids were a little reluctant to try it. They couldn't have managed it in a bun and were not quite sure what to do with it once it started to crumble after I cut it up. They DID both eat a pretty decent amount but not without some prompting. I was secretly kind of happy because I stashed the leftovers in the freezer, so I will be able to have leftover black bean burgers for the rest of the week at work! Sounds like a good lunch to me!

Grocery Cart Challenge, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Krazy Kitchen and Mouthwatering Monday.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The end of the pantry challenge...

I actually wasn't really ready to end the pantry project. It was just getting good! However, I only had one cup of milk for the girls left! I knew that if I didn't go today, I had lost my chance, and I wouldn't make it for another week or so. We can't go a whole week without milk! We were pretty low on fresh fruit too, and that just doesn't work around here.

I was pretty disappointed with the sale ads once again this week. I decided to just make a single trip to Hy-Vee. I had really kind of planned on having money leftover, but we I was able to dig up some good deals and matches with coupons. Of course, no money leftover! Oh well!

Here's what we got.

36 donut holes
1 dozen Eggland's Best eggs
1 gallon of Roberts OJ
1 lb of smoked turkey breast
1 bag of Farm Rich mozzarella sticks
1 bag of Ore Ida fries
1 box of Cheez-Its
1 4lb bag of oranges
1 Earth Grains 100% whole wheat thin buns
2 big boxes of Cheerios
2 cans of black beans
2 Mussleman's healthy selects applesauce
1 package of wheat hamburger buns
1 5 lb bag of 100% whole wheat pastry flour
2 box of Kashi cookies
1/2 gallon of hormone free whole milk
1 Glade mini candle (free)
1 bottle of 7th Generation dish soap (free)
4 bottles of Coke (3 were free)
9 lbs of bananas
3 green bell peppers
6 bags of Ocean Spray cranberries
3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts

My pre-tax total was right around $53.00. I saved 10% on all of the organic items, about $16.00 with coupons and $.10 for bringing two of my own bags.

We're going to try a new recipe for black bean hamburgers tonight. It also looks like I have a good deal of whole wheat banana bread and cranberry almond bars in my future! I'm going to see if I can find a good cranberry orange bread or muffin recipe, I think too. Stay tuned for a baking update!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Eve from the pantry...

We got a New Years Eve surprise this year! My husband was scheduled to work New Years Eve day. His work days usually starts at 6:45 AM and ends when he is done. It is very normal for him to get home at 9 or even later at night. I had basically just planned on making a nice dinner for myself and the girls. Of course, he would warm up the leftovers when he got home. The good/bad news is that his face swelled up really badly from the cold during the early morning, and they sent him home from work. That is bad news for his paycheck, but it was a good day to have him home all afternoon!

We started the early evening with appetizers. I made a dip where you layer cream cheese, salsa, black beans and cheddar cheese. You just microwave it for a minute or so, and you're good to go. It is DELICIOUS. I haven't made it in a really long time, but I love it so much! I was so thrilled when I realized I had all of the items I needed either in my pantry or freezer. (I did, however, have to stop and get chips and 2 (free) 2 liters of pop! I guess that is kind of breaking the rules, but considering it was a holiday, I don't think it's a big deal.)

Our entree for the evening was orange chicken over peas and brown rice. I used to use a recipe that my mom taught me, but I've adapted it a little since discovering Juicy Juice's Juicy Apple Chicken recipe. My recipe went kind of like this:


4 (about 1 1/4 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion
3 cups of orange juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon of soy sauce


SEASON chicken liberally with salt and ground black pepper, if desired. Dust with flour.

MELT butter in large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook on one side until golden brown. Turn chicken over and stir in onion, orange juice, soy sauce and garlic. Cover pan and bring to a boil. (Orange juice should come all the way up the sides of the chicken but not cover entirely.) Reduce heat to medium and uncover pan. Sauce should remain bubbly. Once the sauce has turned a a dark golden color and reduced to a thick, sticky sauce, remove chicken from skillet and place on serving platter.

For dessert, we had a white chocolate and cherry cream cheese ball with cinnamon and sugar pita chips. My mom brought the cheese ball mix for me from a little trip they went on over the weekend. I was SO happy to see it since I knew I had cream cheese in the freezer. It was a great addition to our holiday meal, and it was GREAT with the pita chips! I never would have thought to serve it on pita chips if not for the challenge of eating from the pantry. Now, I'm not sure I'll ever serve it any other way! So yummy!

In the end, it was a really delicious meal. All of my family members loved it. It was a really good exercise for me. It did have to stretch my brain a little to think about what to make since I hadn't been to the store in nearly 2 weeks, but I'm not sure it would have turned out any better had I had $1,000 worth of groceries to choose from. go eat some leftover white chocolate cherry dip! YUMMMMMMMMMM!


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