Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spaghetti and Spinach Pie

As I mentioned earlier, I'm really having fun testing new recipes. I've been watching Food Network and browsing recipe sites like crazy trying to find recipes that fit my criteria -- cheap, fast and kid friendly.

This past Sunday, I watched Sandra Lee make Pasta and Spinach pie. I liked the method, but it was a little heavy on the spinach for our family. I adapted the recipe to make it a little more kid friendly and also to bulk it up a little.

Here is the adjusted recipe,

For the "crust"

About 8 oz (measured uncooked) of spaghetti
1 egg
generous salt and pepper

Boil noodles to al dente. Beat an egg in a bowl. Stir in salt and pepper. Incorporate egg mixture with noodles. Place in pie pan and make a well for the filling.

For the "filling"

a few tablespoons of diced onions
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 cup of thawed spinach
1.5 cups of cottage cheese
1 cup of Italian blend cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste

In a skillet, saute the onions until transparent. Add the garlic until warmed through. Then, mix all ingredients together and place in spaghetti "crust." Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

On the show, Sandra quoted this at about $5.50 for 4 servings. I don't know the exact amount of my ingredients, but with purchasing them on sale, I would guess the entire dish cost no more than $4 and yielded more than 4 servings. What a deal!

Crazy expensive milk!

As I was plugging my way through morning activities yesterday morning, I realized that if I had to make it to the grocery store, or I wasn't going to have another chance this week! We're expecting bad weather and with a family birthday this weekend, I'm booked up! I decided the baby and I better hit the store, but I didn't even have a chance to look at the sale ads. We went to Hy-Vee because I generally think I have the best luck there!

We didn't really need much other than milk and bread, so I was just scouting for good deals and easy meals and snacks. (Speaking of milk, our local brand was over $4 a gallon!) My grand total came in at $51 after tax. Not bad! (Although I am going to have to exchange all of the tuna in oil I somehow grabbed. BLECK!)

You may have noticed that I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately! It's so nice to be on maternity leave and have the time for more cooking! I'm having fun trying the new recipes and am hoping to discover some easy and inexpensive new favorites to add to our meal plans. So far, so good, I think!

I'm planning on making a new recipe for spinach and spaghetti pie tonight for dinner. We're also going to be home quite a bit due to bad weather and new baby over the next few days. I would LOVE to get some baking done to stock on my freezer. I'm thinking blueberry buckle and some pumpkin bread would be great!

Preschool Snacks - A fun birthday idea!

As you have read, I've been struggling with the "snacks" that come in to my children's preschool. So unhealthy! I really don't have a problem with a sweet treat on birthdays. It's just that it's ALWAYS someone's birthday and then when someone is always making an exception to bring cookies/candy/etc on top of the birthdays, the sweet treats are never ending! I really wanted to do something different this year, and I discovered it was REALLY easy. My big girl LOVES whipped cream (who doesn't?!?!) and strawberries are definitely another favorite! When I suggested the combination for her birthday treat she was THRILLED! I started praying for a sale on strawberries when I needed it (LOL!) and we made a plan!

Incidentally, I was able to get strawberries for $2/lb this week. I used 5 boxes to prepare enough strawberries for 15 strawberry cups. The whipped cream cost just under $2, and I used leftover birthday party supplies to dress things up a little bit! My total cost was about $12. I realize that this is about 5x the cost of a cake mix and frosting, but it is so much healthier! I think of it as an opportunity to bless my big girl and her friends with something special and out of the ordinary, and I challenge you to think out of the box for your kids birthday's at school! I think it's cool to send an exciting
favorite whether it is a traditional birthday sweet or not!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rice Pudding

I LOVE blessing my family with a sweet treat (as long as they've eaten a good dinner, of course!) We had kind of a laid back afternoon at home today, so I tested a recipe for rice pudding with my oldest girl today. Another thing I love is exposing them to new foods, and rice pudding was new for all of us. I used this recipe from I added just a little bit more of the good stuff to make it extra delicious! (And it worked!) The adjusted recipe is as follows:

Rice Pudding

  • 3/4 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1.5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In another saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg and raisins. Cook 3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby Shops Chapter 2

I had about an hour and a half today with only the baby, so I made a very quick trip to Price Chopper's breakfast sale. Unfortunately, I forgot my list. Being in a hurry and forgetting my list is not my favorite situation to be in. We did ok, though. This is what I got,

6 boxes of GM cereal
1 dozen eggs
3 Pillsbury Grands
1 package of Planters trail mix
1 loaf of 100% whole wheat bread
1 big box of raisins
4 lbs of oranges
2 lbs of strawberries
2 16 oz containers of cottage cheese
a little over 5 lbs of chicken breasts
1 package of tortillas

My pre-tax total was $33.96, and I saved $39.38. I don't think this looks like $30 worth of (what I am willing to pay) for groceries! I can't imagine paying $65! I would be in a total panic trying to keep this family fed, I think! I still have about $15 left from this week and last, so I will probably make one more trip to a President's Day Sale this weekend to pick up milk and other necessities.

For dinner tonight, I'm making Mexican Crockpot Chicken. We'll all be eating at different times, but this is an easy one to keep warm and prepare whenever people are ready for dinner! I have lots of ideas for meals for the rest of the week. I'm dying to make Paula Deen's Orange Coffeecake again! I also have a ton of eggs, so I think we'll also have Melissa D'Arabian's Huevos Ranchers since they went over so well a few days ago! Other egg items like scrambled cheesy eggs and breakfast burritos are sure to make the menu. And, if I can keep my girls from eating 2 lbs of strawberries in one sitting, I'd love to make and freeze some Strawberry Shortcake Scones! I also have a new recipe for rice pudding I can't wait to try!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

I'm so excited about this recipe! My oldest daughter and I watched Melissa make this meal on $10 Dinners, and we thought it looked so fun! I ended up making only my husband's with the egg. My girls like eggs, but they've never had a runny yolk before. I didn't feel like freaking them out and having to feed them something else! Go figure!

Here is the recipe from,

  • 8 (5-inch) flour tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted (I sprayed with cooking spray instead. Much healthier!)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup prepared chunky cilantro salsa, divided
  • 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Special Equipment: 12-cup muffin tin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the outer edge of each tortilla and remove so that the tortillas fit snugly into the muffin tin cups. Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Press the tortillas into the muffin tin, creating little tortilla cups.

In a small bowl, mix half the salsa with the black beans and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the black bean mixture into each tortilla cup. Crack an egg into each of the eight cups. Bake until barely set, about 8 minutes. (My husband thought they could have used a few more minutes to crisp and cook the egg.) Top with cheese, cover with aluminum foil, and then bake for 6 to 7 minutes more. To serve, spoon the sour cream and remaining salsa on top of the eggs.


I thought it was a little silly that Melissa didn't make a suggestion for the tortilla that you have to cut off! I made mine in to cinnamon chips! A no brainer!

Baby Shops

Daddy was not dying to go to the grocery store again, and since it was such a nice day, I decided to take the baby with me to not one, but two stores! He was wonderful. He let everyone ooh and ahh over him and slept through the whole thing! Such a sweet little guy.

Now, the down side is that it just wasn't a great sale week. I'm wondering a little bit where my $50 went!

Here is my purchase from Hen House,

Here is my purchase from Hy-Vee,

This is my first week with my husband back at work full-time. (Sad for me!) We will definitely continue eating very simply just to help with chaos control. I'm trying very hard to stay away from convenience foods (pretend like you don't see the shells and cheese,) and I'm also working very hard with the girls to teach them that there are snacks that are ok to grab any time of the day without asking like fruit, nuts, crackers, etc. For prepared meals this week, we will almost certainly have tuna noodles, spaghetti and maybe some breakfast burritos! I'm also going to try out a new recipe for Huevos Rancheros and Cornbread that I saw on $10 Dinners this weekend. They look really great!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sugar Cookie Truffles

I originally saw this recipe here, and I thought sugar cookie truffles sounded (and looked) so delicious and fun! I didn't have any sugar cookie dough on hand (go figure,) so I decided to make my delicious orange shortbread recipe instead.

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( I use a KitchenAid mixer,) 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.
Once the cookies were cooled I crumbled them by hand. (Food processor would be much easier.) Then, I put the crumbs in the mixer and added about 3/4 of a brick of cream cheese. The girls and I then rolled the "dough" in to balls, dipped in to white chocolate and added sprinkles! So fun and so yummy!
My toughest critics taste the final product!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Really, Really Good White Lasagna

This is actually something I made awhile back and never got a chance to post. It would make a really delicious Valentines Day dinner, so I thought it was a good time to share. It was absolutely YUIMMY. It really tasted like something from a restaurant rather than homemade, but in a good way. A VERY good way. True to my vegetarian ways, next time I make it, I would make it with more layers of noodles and leave out the chicken. The chicken added a lot of prep time to the dish, and we just would have been fine without it!

Here is the recipe from,
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese.)
  • 2 cups cubed, cooked chicken meat
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (I used 1 package.)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the flour and salt, and simmer until bubbly. Mix in the broth and milk, and boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Season with the basil, oregano, and ground black pepper. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer with 1/3 of the noodles, the ricotta, and the chicken. Arrange 1/3 of the noodles over the chicken, and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, spinach, and the remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange remaining noodles over cheese, and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with parsley and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Daddy Shops!

Ok, so I NEVER send my husband to the grocery store if I can help it. I just remember the boxes of Little Debbies and bags of candy my dad used to bring home when I was little girl and shudder.It turns out my husband is much more capable of avoiding the junk and sticking to the plan. Lucky me!

Anyway, my husband did a really good job! It's really hard to see everything he got, but I just don't have time to list everything out. I sent him with a list and a ziploc full of coupons and a not so organized list. He spent about $62 before tax. He did accidentally grab some wrong sized packages and such instead of the sale size, but we'll forgive him. I really thought he would probably mess A LOT up (no offense to him, it just isn't easy!) and he totally didn't. I think it gave him a new appreciation for how hard I have to work to feed us on a budget AND how rewarding it is to save some money. He came home saying, "I saved $20 with coupons!" <3

For our meals this week, I made a double batch of chicken noodle soup for dinner last night, which we've already eaten (for dinner and leftovers for lunch.) Everyone was so happy for homemade mommy food, I guess! We have a few meals coming in this week, and I have cavatini and confetti chicken casserole in the freezer in the event of an emergency. I think we'll also make sugar cookie truffles for a Valentines Day treat. Otherwise, we're eating a lot of easy things, old fashioned oatmeal, scrambled cheese eggs, cheese and crackers, and fresh fruit and vegetables. I'll also be sharing a recipe for an awesome white lasagna that I made awhile back.

We're supposed to have a few warmer days this weekend, so I'm planning on bundling the baby up and hitting the store with my new little man.We are still in a spot (maybe a permanent spot) where we just eating every ounce of food that comes in to this house, so I'm feeling a lot of pressure to stretch the budget as far as I can. Being the control freak that I am, it's best if I can manage the groceries on my own!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Buddy Bear

I don't have a grocery update this week because I was busy having a baby! My water broke at 1 AM on Wednesday morning, just as the blizzard of 2011 was coming to a close. We welcomed the little man via a repeat C-section at 6:23 AM on February 2nd. He weighed 6 lbs 12 oz and was 18 inches long. We're so blessed to add a son to our family, and we are so thankful for his health. What a blessing!

We are going to have to get groceries somehow, so stay tuned for an update! It may be a good one because I think I'm going to have to send Daddy with my nearly 5 year old to guide him. Ha!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Buddies