Thursday, November 24, 2011

Harvest Sangria

We are not big drinkers at all around here, but I wanted to make something special for our Thanksgiving dinner. (Not to mention I was afraid I needed something "special" to survive cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner!) My husband and I both like sangria (probably because it doesn't taste like alcohol,) so I concocted a new little recipe!

Here's how I made it,

1 bottle of Chardonnay (I used 2 buck Chuck, of course.)
1/2 cup of Triple Sec
1/4 cup Vodka
16 oz of apple cider (or more or less to taste)
1 apple, sliced
1 pear, sliced
1 orange, sliced
3 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
A splash of club soda

Yesterday, I mixed everything but the apple cider together. I stirred it several times over the course of the day, and I let it sit in the fridge overnight. This morning, while I was making everything else, I added the apple cider. I also fished out the pears, cinnamon sticks and cloves, and I rimmed our glasses with cinnamon and sugar. When it was time to eat, I topped our glasses off with a little bit of club soda! So delicious, and the apple slices are absolutely a treat! YUM!

From our family to yours...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
(Are we the only ones that ate in our pjs?)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

I know everyone is looking for some new inspiriation for their Thanksgiving table in these last few days before Thanksgiving! Here is what we are having, along with links to some of our tried and true frugal favorites,

Turkey (We will stuff with aromatics - rosemary, an orange, a yellow onion, a carrot and a sweet apple.)
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (Method coming soon.)
Pepperidge Farm stuffing (Cori's favorite for some reason.)
Country Store Fried Apples
Cranberry Sauce from a can
Trader Joes Maple Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Green Beans
Whole Wheat Rolls
Harvest Sangria

For dessert I am making a double spiced pumpkin pie and caramel apple cider floats (recipe coming soon.)

A Frugal Thanksgiving

In a somewhat unusual twist of events, it ended up that I am hosting only the five of us for Thanksgiving this year. With both of our families in town, that is definitely not the norm! Regardless, we are excited to have some old-fashioned family fun and figure out how to cook a turkey for ourselves. Someday I know our Thanksgivings will be "just the 5 of us" plus spouses and grandchildren, so I guess we better figure the turkey thing out now!

The groceries above cost me right around $75 AFTER tax. It doesn't look like a lot, but it does include a ham AND a turkey. They turkey was free with a purchase of a ham this week at Hy-Vee, so that was a nice bonus for us. I've never bought EITHER. The gallon of apple cider was a total budget breaker too. Regardless, we'll take the $25 overage from our regular spending money. I don't have anything planned for our spending money this pay period, so it's nice when it is available! A lot of times I have it spent on things that need to be paid for over the next two weeks before I even get it!

In the meantime, our menu plan looks a little like this,

Sunday - biscuits / ham and baked potatoes / fish sticks and pears

Monday - cereal / brown bag lunches / spinach and artichoke macaroni and cheese (stay tuned for recipe)

Tuesday - cereal / brown bag lunches / egg in the hole

Wednesday - cheesy eggs / Campbell's chicken noodle soup and apples / black bean and cheese quesadillas

Thursday - TURKEY DAY (See my separate Thanksgiving menu post. I will be sharing various favorite recipes and a few new ones.)

Friday - I will be Black Friday shopping. We'll try to eat as frugally as possible, but it will probably be a lot of leftovers and possibly some eating on the go.

I definitely spent the bulk of our budget on Thanksgiving food! Sun-Wed might be a little interesting in the eating department, but we'll be fine. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cake Mix Chocolate Waffles

Yes, you read right! I made these with a Betty Crocker Devil's Food cake mix! All you do is prepare as directed and ladle in to your Belgian waffle maker. How is that for SUPER EASY??? They were very sweet. (We saved up our sugar content during the day and had these for dinner!)  They also don't get quite as crispy on the outside as a "normal" waffle does, but no one at my house complained! Have fun with this one!

See other recipes at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm back!

So, about six weeks ago, my little guy started CRAWLING. He's thrilled to be able to keep up with his sisters, but I'm realizing that this development directly correlates to when I started to feel overwhelmingly busy. Along with being overwhelmingly busy has come a few weeks of really bad or non existent cooking and no grocery project updates. However, after a few weeks, I'm finally feeling a little bit of relief!

The above picture is Round 1 of 3 of my grocery trips. I went pretty badly overbudget this week, but it is ok because we had some breathing room (for once) in our spending money. Round 2 was a trip to Hy Vee. I got a lot of yogurt, some cereal, pears, bananas and I truthfully do not remember what else. Round 3 was a trip to Aldi where I got 2 gallons of milk a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread, some cheese and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Our menu plan is as follows, starting with Sunday because that is as far back as I can remember...

Sunday - pancakes and cinnamon sugar / Dorito salad at my mom's and Paula Deen's banana pudding (We took chips.) / Campbell's chicken noodle soup and bananas

Monday - Alphabet cereal / brown bag lunches / crockpot soup (This was ok at best.)

Tuesday - Alphabet cereal / brown bag lunches / egg in the hole and apples

Wednesday - smoothie popsicles / brown bag lunches / spaghetti with marinara

Thursday - Alphabet cereal / brown bag lunches /chocolate waffles and strawberries

Friday - Rice Krispies / brown bag lunches / my mom's chicken and rice

I also made a huge batch of apple, pear and pumpkin baby's favorite and used some of it to make oatmeal and applesauce cookies. Both turned out just great!

As you can tell, we're still functioning a little bit in "crisis mode." We may kind of be in that "mode" until after Christmas, but usually the deep freeze gives me a few months to pull my life back together before Spring Break and the end of school hits! I'm going to try to do a better job of updating, so hang in here with me!

Also, did you see how super cute our Jack O Lantern pudding cups turned out?! Better Pin them for next year!