Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chili Mac Skillet

Over the course of the last couple of months, I have kind of gotten away from talking about our grocery budget. We've just been too busy for me to document it, and I've been realizing that our lives have really changed since I started the $50 a week grocery project. For the last few months, we've been working with closer to an $80 a week budget. That being said, we got bad news about our health insurance plan, and it's going to set us back an extra $2,600 in 2013. Ahem? Where is that money going to come from??? I spent yesterday trying to get my coupons and our budget in order and taking inventory of the pantry. We have a few months before the rubber meets the road, but I figure we better start "practicing." We may be back to $50 a month for awhile. I feel like I at least need to give it a shot. Anyway, this week, I spent right at $60, and we'll make do with a lot that we already had around the house. I adapted this Chili Mac recipe using mostly ingredients that I already had for a cheap "nice" Saturday night dinner, and I thought it turned out really great!


8 ounces shell pasta
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup green bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups frozen grilled chicken breast (chopped)
1o ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes, mild
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon of Ranch dressing
A splash of lime juice
Black pepper to taste
Shredded cheese and Sour Cream for garnish

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and run under cool water to stop cooking. Heat oil in 9 inch deep cast iron skillet. Add onions and peppers, cook stirring until softened about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook stirring for 1 minute. Add chicken, tomatoes, broth, beans, shell pasta, chili powder, cumin, Ranch seasoning and cilantro. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer until ready to serve.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Circle "Sammy"

Circle Sandwich is hands down one of our favorite family meals. As far as I know, my mom "invented" it some time in the mid 90s, and we've been loving it ever since. It's perfect for a family dinner, a potluck or for taking a meal to someone in need. 

Here are the ingredients,

For the bread,

2 tubes of Pillsbury French Loaf (I grabbed these at 50% off at the store last week!)
1 tablespoon of seasoning (I use Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper)

To make the bread, spray a baking sheet or pizza stone with Pam. Then, you just need to open your tubes of French Loaf and pinch the ends together, so they form a circle. Next, you make a few slits in the top of the bread with a paring knife and spray with Pam. Finally, you "fill" the slits with your seasoning blend. Bake as directed until the circle loaf is golden brown.

While your bread is baking, you can prepare your sandwich fillings. I used,

Italian dressing (Also a must!)
3 different kinds of deli meat (I used chicken, ham and pepperoni. The pepperoni is a must!)
2 different kinds of cheese (I used provolone and cheddar.)
A few different kinds of your favorite sandwich veggies
Mayonnaise, Mustard, etc.

Once your bread has cooled enough for you to cut it, slice it in half. Dress the inside with Italian dressing and layer your meat and cheese. Add the veggies. My mom usually serves extra sandwich dressing (mayonnaise, mustard, etc.) on the side at the table.

See, pretty easy! But so, so good.

See more recipes at

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Free Fun

Let me tell you, we are ALWAYS in the market for free family fun. Sometimes it is hard to come by, or I already feel like we've already done every free possible thing in Kansas City! This past weekend, we were at a local outdoor shopping area, so I could return a few shirts that I ordered online that didn't fit. We stumbled upon a pretty extensive outdoor festival. They had free bounce houses, face painting, and some really amazing Lyra performers that the girls and I really enjoyed! Of course, I just couldn't resist sharing the sweet pictures the face painter took of my daughters. So amazingly cute! Not only are they gorgeous, but they are kind, sweet and smart! The whole package! (And you gotta love the matching Denver Bronco shirts! GO BRONCOS!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

I was up and at 'em early this past Saturday morning. I needed to hit the grocery store, but I didn't have a meal plan. I figured The Pioneer Woman's blog was probably a surefire bet for a quick idea, and I was right! I ran the recipe for her Dr. Pepper pork by my husband, and we had a Sunday night football dinner planned! Incidentally, he's been complaining that "everything" I made is spicy lately, so I didn't tell him about the chipotles! My version of the recipe only used 1/4 of the can, and he didn't complain! He just said they "had a little kick," so the switch was a good one! I also made mine in the crock pot, and I was very happy with the results! Here is the recipe and instructions for cooking this in the crock pot,
  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 1 whole Pork Shoulder ("Pork Butt") - 5ish lbs
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 oz of Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce (canned)
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons of Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar 
1. Peel the onions, chop and place in the bottom of your crock pot.
2. Rinse your pot roast, and place it in the crock pot. Generously season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour the Dr. Pepper, Chipotles and Adobo and vinegar over your roast.
4. Sprinkle with brown sugar 

I cooked mine for 10 hours on low in my crock pot. That being said, my crock pot cooks VERY hot. The liquid was boiling. If your liquid doesn't boil on low, it may take you 10 hours on high! Regardless, when the meat is super tender and you are able to shred it with a fork, take that baby out of there and give it a good shred! After I removed the fat and shredded mine, I returned it to the liquid and kept it on warm. So yummy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Honey Lime Shrimp and Noodles

I actually got organized this morning and made a REAL meal plan! I found this recipe for Honey Lime Shrimp, and I decided to change it up a little and serve it up over noodles. My family was REALLY happy. My husband ate all the shrimp, and my kids ate ALL the noodles. I was really surprised by how affordable a shrimp dish could be too. I think the whole dish came out to about $6 or $7. Not bad!

Here is how I did it,


Marinade -

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T honey
juice of one small lime
zest of one small lime
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Noodles -

1 lb of spaghetti noodles (prepared as directed)
3 T butter
2 T honey
juice of one small lime
zest of one small lime
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Soy sauce to taste

1. Mix all of your marinade ingredients together and place in a ziploc bag with the raw shrimp. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes or so and then. Give them 10 minutes or so to come to room temperature before you cook them.

2. While the shrimp is marinating prepare your noodles as directed.

3. When the shrimp are done marinating, heat a pan to medium hot. Place shrimp in a single layer on a skillet and cook on each side for about a minute. They should caramelize and look nice and brown. (See my shrimp in the very middle? It is perfect!)

4. Once your shrimp is done, take it out of the skillet. Add all of your sauce mixture for the skillet and use a wooden spoon to scrap up all of the brown shrimpy bits off of the bottom. Once the butter is melted, toss your noodles in the sauce for a minute or two.

5. Transfer your noodles to a big bowl, top with the shrimp and serve family style!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baize Green by Sherwin Williams

You may remember that we bought a house over the summer! (I would link
 you back to our announcement, but I accidentally deleted it!) In my post, I mentioned that I was going to entertain some frugal decorating posts. Now, I realize I'm not much of a decorator at this point, and we really have not done a THING to our house. Just this weekend, we did finally get a bathroom painted. I love seeing other people's paint colors, and I discovered while I was researching paint colors for this housethat you can Google just about any color and you will come up with all kinds of photos from other people's real life experiments! I found it so helpful, so I am paying it forward!

Our new house is a big, traditional Colonial. It has a big of a Martha Stewart feel, I think, which I love. I'm NOT in to contemporary or modern at all. Anyway, my objective for this house is for it to be "fun" and cheerful. I want my kids to remember it was the bright, warm and loving house that they grew up in, so I've carried that over in to all of my decorating ideas. My kids will share this bathroom, so the objective here was gender neutral AND bright. The paint color is Sherwin Williams Baize Green. I've purchased new towels from Target in "Fiery Pink" and a nice shade of aqua called "Sea Going." I may add some accessories as we go, but I'm just not great at that! So maybe not!

Caramelized Pineapple Sauce

This weekend I was looking for a fast and easy dessert for our family Labor Day dinner on Sunday. I decided to go with banana splits, and I used this recipe for caramelized pineapple that I saw on $10 Dinners. It was REALLY easy and delicious. I might have cooked it a little too long, as it wasn't very "saucy," but no one complained! We all agreed that it tasted like pineapple upside down cake without the cake, and it was just great for banana splits! I was actually really pleased with how nicely it pairs with chocolate syrup too, and it made for a very affordable dessert for our whole family!

Here is the recipe,
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • One 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
Melt the butter and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the pineapple and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and coated in caramel, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the vanilla and salt.