Thursday, October 29, 2009
If a small sample of shampoo gets you an extra hair washing or two...great! Right? Or you've been wanting to try a new product but really don't want to risk wasting money if the product doesn't turn out to be what you expected. Samples are wonderful things!!!
A while back, I discovered a website called MySavings.com. They are a site that provides information on Free Samples, Coupons, Online discounts, etc. For a while after I joined, I just deleted the emails without bothering to read them, let alone taking the time to sign up for the individual samples. But now, I try to set aside a little bit of time each week to check out their website to see if anything new is being offered.
Last week, I signed up for a FREE Snuggie. You know, the blanket with arms! I don't know anyone in my circle of friends that actually has one of these blankets so I am curious to see if they are any good. The commercials are a bit on the stupid side, but for a FREE one, I'll forgive them! The website does state that they will call for a quick survey after the Snuggie is received. I think I can handle that! I'll be sure to post back here once I receive it and let everyone know what I think of the Snuggie. If it's a hit, maybe there will be a few Snuggies under the Christmas tree this year! (Shhh! Don't tell!)
This week, MySavings.com provided information for FREE YoYo Lip Gloss. YoYo Lip Gloss asks that you follow them on Twitter and post a Tweet about them. Fill out the information "card" and provide the URL to your Twitter account so they can verify. They will then email a code or something for a free Lip Gloss mini. I followed and Tweeted just a few moments ago, but haven't gotten my email with the code yet.
Another FREE Lip Gloss offer, that I read about on MySavings.com was from Victoria's Secret. You can go here to print a coupon for a FREE Bra Fitting and Lip Gloss. I believe this offer is valid until Nov. 15. I haven't printed this out yet, since I am not sure if I'll be getting to the mall before then, but I wanted to be sure to share the information with y'all.
The last sample item that I'll share with you today is for FREE pancake mix. I received this information from MySavings.com too! SturdiWheat is giving away a FREE sample of their pancake mix. Call 1-800-201-9650 to receive 1 sample of pancake for FREE! Samples are currently: Buckwheat Pancake Mix, Original Pancake Mix, Traditional Shortcake Mix, Apple Crisp Topping Mix or Bread Pudding Mix. (I haven't called yet for our sample. I don't eat pancakes, so I'll let hubby decide what type he'd like to try.)
These are just a few of the offers that are available from MySavings.com. I couldn't possibly list them all. But I seriously recommend that if you aren't already signed up to get their emails, go and sign up now! It's FREE to join and you can get FREE stuff! What could be wrong with that??
I'll be sharing this post with Life As Mom and her Frugal Friday blog carnival.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
One thing that makes me squeamish all the time is raw chicken. Did you ever see that commercial on TV where they show the woman wiping down her kitchen counter and refrigerator door with a raw chicken leg? Blech!
I like to cook chicken. We eat it a lot. But every time I have to open a package of chicken or even worse, cut up raw chicken, I want to just throw away my cutting boards afterward. I never feel as if I can get them clean enough and fear cross contamination. Especially, when we lived in our apartment and didn't have a dishwasher. We "lost" more than just a few cutting boards in those days.
Then one day, I was in the dollar store and found some really thin plastic, flexible cutting boards. 2 in a package for a buck. Not a bad price. I didn't feel as bad using once or twice and then throwing it away. Plus, with our really sharp knives, they didn't really last much longer than a couple of uses anyway.
Now that we have a dishwasher, I use a regular heavy plastic cutting board for my chicken and other meats and a separate one for my veggies. I've labeled them "meat" or "vegetables" on the corners with a Sharpie Marker.
I still like to keep those other "disposable" cutting boards around, but we don't use them as often as we used to, but they do come in handy. Especially, for camping. Or when we're getting ready for a party and doing a lot of chopping.
Be sure to check out We Are That Family for more Works for me Wednesday tips!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The recipe I am sharing today is a great one for when you are craving sweets. I've made these for holiday work parties and family gatherings while I was trying to stay away from higher calorie sweets. I've eaten my Diet Soda Cupcakes and didn't really miss the other sweets being served.
Diet Soda Cupcakes
- Cake mix
- 1 egg
- 10 oz. diet soda
- Combine cake mix, egg and diet soda until well blended.
- Pour into cupcake/muffin tins and bake according to directions on box.
I usually use chocolate cake mix and diet cola. Yellow cake and lemon lime soda is great too! Or what about a white cake mix and some diet cream soda or even a pineapple flavored soda. So many different varieties makes these cupcakes very versatile!
These are great alone or topped with whipped cream or lowfat whipped topping. They would also be great topped with Fantastic Frosting (just use lowfat ingredients).
For more cupcake recipes and inspiration, be sure to check out CupCake Tuesday hosted by Hoosier Homemade.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Monday afternoon, I felt really tired and decided that canned soup was going to be dinner that night. I planned on taking Monday night easy and then get some cooking done on Tuesday. Nope, I woke up with a fever and body aches. I called my husband home early so he could take care of the baby while I tried to sleep. Instead, I called the doctor as soon as he got home and managed to get an appointment shortly after.
I wasn't as upset about the diagnosis of swine flu as I was when the doctor told me that he didn't want me handling the baby. How can he tell a new mom to not take care of her baby? Plus, how was I going to manage without handling her? I broke down in tears in the doctor's office.
After leaving the office, Joe took us home and he went to get my medicine as well as a flu shot for himself. I was very thankful that he was able to find the Tamiflu in our area, although he did have to try a few pharmacies.
Joe took Wednesday off of work and took care of the baby completely. It was very hard for me not to hold her or feed her. Thursday, he went back to work. But was home by 9:00am because I called to let him know that Grace had a fever and I was able to get her an appointment for 9:15.
The pediatrician prescribed her the liquid Tamiflu and again, we were very lucky to be able to find that in our area too. He did have to travel a bit further out for Grace's medicine though. But we were lucky to find it and also have it and mine covered (still, we paid a co-pay) by our prescription plan. Whew!
It's been a very long week. My poor husband has been running around like crazy taking care of the both of us and also working the weekend to make up some missed hours. Between the missed time from work and the extra expenses for office visits and prescriptions, etc., this will be another week or two (maybe three) of using what we have for meals. I know that I have at least a month's worth of stuff in the freezer and pantry. Probably more than a month, but I don't want to empty them totally.
This week's menu plan will be showing some repeats since we didn't get around to preparing much from last week's plan. I am really thankful that I didn't thaw everything at once like I normally do, because I didn't have much of an appetite and Joe didn't have much time to cook.
I need to check the veggie bin and be sure that my veggies are still good. If they are, then this is the plan for this week:
- Monday: Potato Soup, Salmon Cakes, Corn Bread Casserole.
- Tuesday: Steak, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
- Wednesday: On-Cor Veal Parm, Pasta
- Thursday: Beef Barley Soup, Biscuits
- Friday: Enchiladas, Spanish Rice, Corn
- Saturday: Halloween
- Sunday: Leftovers
Friday, October 23, 2009
The baby and I actually had a chance to get out of the house for a bit and do some shopping. But those couple of shopping trips came with a little gift....SWINE FLU.
We're both still sick and trying to recover. Amazingly, my husband hasn't gotten sick yet. He stopped off to get a flu shot on Tuesday when he picked up my prescription. So, hopefully that kicks in quick!
Anyway, as dreadful as I feel, I have some favorites that I'd like to share with y'all. I only have a few moments, Grace is napping and I should be too.
- My husband. I know I've posted him as a favorite last week. But with all that he's done for us this week, he deserves to be at the top of the list this week! Poor guy has been running around like crazy taking us to the doctors and getting us medicine and keeping up with making Grace's bottles, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc. All in addition to trying (I've had to call him home early twice this week and he took off one day completely)to go to work. All without a single complaint.
- Well-stocked freezer and pantry. With all the extra expenses this week (doctor co-pays, prescriptions, supplies), I'm thankful that we have a well-stocked freezer and pantry to fall back on for the next couple of weeks. I'm pretty sure we have enough to get us by for a month without going grocery shopping. Sure, we'll have to pick up bread, milk, eggs and fresh produce. But we won't have to do any major shopping for a little while.
- Last weekend. Even though it was the busy weekend that caused us to get sick, I still have to say that it was a great weekend! 1/2 price day at our local thrift on Friday was a great day! I managed to get something that I had my eye on last month and was amazed that it was still there. (More about that in a future post.) Also, I picked up a coat for Grace on Saturday at Kohl's and a few other things for her at Target.
- Clean linens. Wednesday, since Joe was home, I managed to find some time to change the linens on our bed. It was really needed, especially with the sweats and chills I had the night before. Normally, with Grace being up with only short naps during the day, I have a tough time doing chores like this. But he took care of her all day while I stayed away from her, hoping to not get her sick too. But, oh how nice it felt to climb into bed with the nice clean sheets and blankets. We'll be climbing back in after I'm done posting this.
- McDonald's. Ever since I was a little girl, I've craved McDonald's when I'm sick. I think it's because when I was 13 I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and HATED the hospital food. My Dad would visit during his lunch hour and bring me McDonald's so I didn't have to eat the hospital food. Now whenever I am sick, that's what I want! Yesteday, I asked Joe what we were having for dinner. He asked me what I wanted and laughed when I told him I wanted McDonald's. He should have known! Even on my worst days of morning sickness (lasted all day for me) I wanted McDonald's! French Fries cure everything! :)
So, there's my five. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to visit all of your blogs this weekend. If not, I am sorry. Once we're all better, I'll be back to blogging full time again!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
On Monday, I wasn't feeling well and on Tuesday I felt worse. My husband came home from work early and took me to the doctor. We just figured I had a cold and let's take care of it quickly since we have the baby now. He waited in the car with the baby while I saw the doctor. Boy was he surprised when I announced it was swine flu!
At the suggestion of my doctor, we called Grace's pediatrician on our way home to see if they wanted to start some sort of precautionary treatment. Pediatrician said no.
This morning, Grace woke up around 6:00; much earlier than her normal 10:30 am. Her face was very red and her hands were warm. (Her hands are usually very cool.) I took her temp. and she had a 101.4 degree fever. I had to wait until 8:00 to get a doctor on the phone. The doctor didn't seem too concerned that I have swine flu and that the baby had a fever but I scheduled an appointment anyway for my own peace of mind.
Joe (my husband) came home from work and is now on the way to the pediatrician's office to get her checked out. I'm going to take a quick shower and make up the beds before he gets home that way Grace and I can get some rest when they get home.
I'll be back to blogging as soon as things are back to normal. I'll try to update about our recovery if I get the chance.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Before I dropped out of WW, I had accumulated some diet-friendly recipes. The last I checked, the Weight Watchers Community section of the web-site is free for anyone to join. And it's a good source for diet-friendly topics and recipes.
Today I am posting a recipe that I am pretty sure I had gotten from the WW message boards while I was following the program, but from which particular member I don't remember. I do remember the recipe being super easy to make!
I only made this once and we really enjoyed it. Goes great with a salad and nice big chunk of garlic bread!
Spinach & Tomato Soup
- 10 oz. baby spinach
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 28 oz. diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbs. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
- Combine all ingredients in crock-pot.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
I told you it was easy!
While we liked this recipe as it is, we both thought that some orzo pasta would be a great addition.
I'll be sharing this recipe with the following blog carnivals this week:
I did pretty good last week. I managed to stick to my menu plan more than I've been able to the last few weeks. I still made a few changes here and there to accomodate our schedule. For example, Saturday was supposed to be our leftover night. That was switched to Thursday since we were going out near dinner time and I needed something quick for dinner. I made Gizmo Sandwiches to save some hoagie rolls from going stale.
We're still trying to avoid doing a full grocery list worth of shopping. But still picking up a few items here and there. And trying to keep the menu planned using mostly what is on hand.
Here's the plan for this week:
- Monday: Oven Baked Pork Chops, Spaghetti Squash, Baked Beans.
- Tuesday: Potato Soup, Salmon Patties, Cornbread Casserole.
- Wednesday: On-Cor Veal Parm Sandwiches, Pasta
- Thursday: Beef Barley Soup, biscuits
- Friday: Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots with Onions, Biscuits
- Saturday: Enchiladas
- Sunday: Leftovers
Other than the On-Cor Veal Parm, the links above take you to the specific recipe on my other blog: My Vintage Kitchen.
I have some mashed sweet potatoes that I'd like to use up. Looking to create them into something new.
I am also planning on baking Jen's Gooey Butter Cake that I posted about last week. I'd also like to attempt a few new recipes in the next couple of weeks. Here's hoping that Gracie cooperates so that Mommy can try some new recipes, so I don't run out of food to blog about!
Friday, October 16, 2009
So, I figured that my post for this week's Food On Fridays with Ann, I would recap all of my food talk between this blog and my other blog.
Let's start here Under the Big Oak Tree:
- I talked about my menu plan for the week and also suggested a frugal alternative for Take Out.
- I shared a tip about reviving stale crackers and also talked about our Souper Bowl Party we hosted back in February.
- I shared a link for a free sample of Rachel Ray Nutrish Dog Food (okay pushing it there with the food related topic....LOL! But dogs gotta eat too!) and also a link to enter to win Free Cupcakes from Little Debbie!
- I participated in the October Fest Carnival of Super Foods. Here's the link to my post about Super Foods.
And today, Friday:
- I shared a quick and easy sandwich recipe: Alison's Gizmo Sandwich.
Now to recap My Vintage Kitchen's food related posts:
- I shared a recipe for Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots and Onions as well as a recipe for Easy Tomato-Bacon Pasta Sauce.
- I gave you another yummy pasta recipe: Pasta with Sauteed Chicken and Vegetables.
- Finished it all with a nice, sticky sweet dessert recipe: Jen's Gooey Butter Cake. Mmmmmm!
Now, that's a lot of talk about food, don't ya think! Gram would be proud! I'll have to call her this weekend and fill her in!
My tip for today is a quick and frugal meal idea. Thursday, our nephew turned 16. I knew that we would be leaving to go visit for birthday cake shortly after hubby arrived home from work. I wanted to eat dinner before we left the house, but didn't want to make a big meal since time was short.
We did really well with finishing all the leftovers last week and all that was in there was a small bowl of spaghetti (enough for one) and a good sized bowl of meat sauce. Originally, my plan was to boil up some pasta real quick to use up the sauce, but I really didn't want to wait for the water to boil, etc. I spotted some hoagie rolls leftover from out Frugal Cheesesteak dinner the night before.
I remembered something I used to order from the local pizza place when I was a kid. It was a sandwich called a Gizmo. It was so long ago since I've last ordered a Gizmo. And I cannot remember if there was meat in the tomato sauce or not. But I made-do with what I had on hand.
Alison's Gizmo Sandwich
- 2 hoagie rolls
- about 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce
- handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
- preheat broiler
- heat meatsauce in microwave until heated through
- place sliced rolls in baking dish
- fill with desired amount of meatsauce
- sprinkle with mozzarella cheese
- pop under broiler until cheese is melted and rolls are toasty
I love how quick and easy these sandwiches were to make and I really loved the fact that I saved 2 rolls from the mold monster that lives in our house!
Each of us had one Gizmo and hubby ate the last of the pasta. I still have enough sauce left to use over pasta for a quick weekend lunch for the two of us.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
But I did manage to have a few bright spots this week:
- Walks with my baby and my dog. I've managed to take a few short walks with both the baby and the dog. Gracie has just started to like being in the Snuggli and really enjoys seeing the trees and feel the cool breeze. She especially likes to watch her crazy puppy run ahead of us on the leash. The dog is starting to realize (I think) that I have limitations with her when I have the baby with us. She walks differently with us than she does when my husband walks her. Hoping our yard and the field where we take our walks will dry out soon and the nasty weather won't last too long so we can take more walks.
- Dancing with the Stars. I know I mentioned the fall line-up, but I really want to focus on DWTS for this Fave. I am soooo loving that Donny Osmond is on Dancing with the Stars this season! I don't watch it every year and honestly only watched this year because he was a contestent. I really enjoyed the season that Marie was participating. The Osmonds was the first concert I ever went to. My aunts and uncles took me when I was in the 4th grade! I'm also really enjoying Kelly Osbourne on the show too! Twice, she has brought tears to my eyes. I cannot believe that she is the same bratty girl that was on the Osbourne's reality show a few years back! Not only has she kept her language clean, but she really looks like she is enjoying herself and gaining confidence each week. I really hope to see both of them stay a while on the show. Guess I should start voting, huh?
- Hot showers. With Grace sleeping such long hours at night, she doesn't often nap during the day. When she does, it's only for about 10 minutes or so. Hubby works long hours and often eats dinner, plays with the baby for a little while, then goes to bed. While he plays with the baby, I usually take that time to take a nice, hot shower. Sometimes I just stand there and zone out-forgetting that I am in there to wash my hair and scrub crusty baby cereal off of my arms!
- Husband that will eat anything I prepare for him. I love that my husband is not picky. Well, let's say 98% of the time he's not picky. He doesn't care when I announce that we are having leftovers for dinner...AGAIN. Last week, we ate a lot of leftovers. We managed to clean out the fridge without wasting a lot of food. Only one small bowl of soup needed to be tossed.
- My nephew. He turned 16 this week. Gasp! I'm not sure really, whether I should be happy or sad about this. But seriously, he's a really sweet kid and made my day when we left his birthday party. He doesn't hug me each and every time he sees me, (that's okay) but he really shocked me when he hugged me while his girlfriend was there. Usually, if friends are around, I can forget about him even acknowledging that us adults actually exist!
I don't have a lot of healthy, super-food-type recipes at the moment, but I hope to add some to my recipe box after reading all of the posts that have been shared at the carnivals these past weeks.
I am re-posting my recipe for Pasta with Sauteed Chicken and Vegetables that I originally posted on my other blog (My Vintage Kitchen). I'm re-posting so that you can easily see what ingredients fall in the Super Food category...I will highlight them in RED.
Pasta with Sauteed Chicken and Vegetables
- 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- olive oil
- red bell peppers
- 1-2 bags baby spinach
- Italian Seasoning
- crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 lb. cooked pasta (I usually use linguine or penne)
- Saute chicken in hot oil until slightly brown.
- Add onions, peppers, carrots, garlic, Italian Seasoning and red pepper flakes.
- Saute until onions just start to turn translucent.
- Add baby spinach and more garlic, oil and seasonings if needed. (I usually add more oil and seasoning with each addition.)
- Saute until spinach is limp.
- Stir together, add more garlic and seasonings if needed. Cook for 5-10 minutes longer.
- Add broccoli and cover. Cook until broccoli is to desired doneness.
- Add to hot, cooked pasta.
***Notes: I've also made this with chicken stock in place of the oil. Zucchini and mushrooms are also good added to this dish. I didn't include measurements for the veggies, I usually just wing it every time I make it. Once I subbed bacon for the chicken and it was really good!
This recipe includes 7 Super Foods!
If you decide not to add oil with each addition, or if it seems like there's not enough "sauce" to cover the pasta, then the following recipe may come in handy:
- Saute 8 minced garlic cloves in 1.5 cups hot extra virgin olive oil until garlic is slightly golden.
- Add crushed red pepper flakes and saute for about 30 seconds.
There are 2 Super Foods in that sauce recipe! I'm sure that if you want a really quick meal, some pasta tossed with that garlic and oil sauce would be excellent!
*****To learn more about Super Foods or cooking and eating healthy foods, visit Katie's blog at Kitchen Stewardship!*****
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
So, on the topic of samples....I wanted to share some deals with y'all today. I frequently get emails from different sample websites like MySavings.com. I wanted to pass along some samples that might be of interest to all of you.
Free Sample of Rachel Ray's Nutrish dog food. After you punch in your information, you are given the option to get a printable coupon for $3.50 off a 6 lb. bag of Nutrish OR you can click the option to wait for your free sample in the mail. I chose the sample in the mail.
Poise Bladder Control products. These are very handy to have around, even if you don't normally experience bladder control problems. I had a sample in my linen closet that I signed up for about a year ago. When my water broke on the day that Grace was born, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it from home to the hospital without being soaked. Somehow, I remembered the sample I had in the linen closet! Worked perfectly! Also, these worked great after the baby was born and I ran out of the heavy-duty hospital pads. Regular maxis weren't "cushy" enough or even absorbent enough to deal with the bleeding after delivery. Poor hubby had to go to the drug store to buy me some Poise! Not pregnant and don't need to worry about your water breaking? How about during cold season? All that sneezing and coughing can sometimes cause leaks....perfect FREE solution! Get your sample today!
Poise Sample Kit includes:
- 1 Poise Liner
- 1 Poise Long Liner
- 1 Poise Ultra Thin Pad
Kotex Overnight with Wings samples are available on All You magazine's website. Also, after you enter all of your information, you are given the option to try 2 free issues of All You magazine!
Kotex Sample Pack, I'm not sure what comes in the sample pack, but even if it's just one pad...it's still FREE! Besides, I really like Kotex. It's the only feminine pad I can use.
Playtex Sport Tampon. I don't use tampons, except for the rare occasion that I want to go swimming and have my period. But I like to have some on hand for guests who don't prefer my Kotex pads.
Sacred Heart Mission is offering Free Ovulation Kits and Pregnancy tests. Limit 10 per household. Any combination of the 2 items equaling 10 items.
Little Debbie is giving away 125,000 cupcakes! Enter for a chance to win! You can enter once a day...every day! Promotion ends on March 31st 2010. Someone from Little Debbie will contact you by email if you are a winner! I'd love to know if any of my readers win, so be sure to post back here if you win!
Oust Air Sanitizer II. The first 10,000 requests will receive a FREE trial-sized air freshener. Click this link to request your sample and also get current coupons for other great products!
I love free samples! They make me smile when I find them in my mailbox!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Hubby and I wanted to host the last Super Bowl Party. Since I was pregnant at the time, I didn't want to spend that entire day cooking and washing dishes.
We decided to serve a pot of Chili and a pot of Chicken Corn Chowder and we ordered buffalo wings.
On the Thursday before Super Bowl, I did all of my chopping. Friday, I prepared the Chicken Corn Chowder on the stove. On Saturday, I prepared the Chili on the stove. On Sunday, before we left to pick up the wings, we put the Chili and Chowder in crock pots set on low. By the time we returned, we turned the crocks to the "keep warm" setting and started to put out some snacks (chips, veggie tray, cheese, crackers, etc). Everything was ready when our friends arrived.
Preparing the food ahead of time really helped to ease a lot of stress and helped to make hosting a lot more enjoyable. Clean up was simple since all of the cooking dishes were already done the two days before. I was able to visit with our friends and relax knowing that there was plenty of food being kept warm in the crocks.
I'm hoping to host New Year's Eve this year, (since I'd rather not be traveling with the baby this year) and if we do, I'll definitely be putting my crock pots to work!
I posted in my Friday's Fave Five, that I had a visit with my family and that I was able to serve them a nice lunch without having to go grocery shopping and without having to deal with a lot of fuss. I just used what I had in my freezer, my fridge and my pantry. I served 2 different soups, my aunt and gram brought hoagies and my parents brought dessert. In addition to the soups, I put out some tortilla chips to go with the Cowboy Stew and some multi-grain crackers for the Beef Barley Soup.
Okay, are you still with me? I went slightly off track there for a moment. Sorry. Here's where the tip comes in:
As we were clearing the table and putting away any leftovers, my aunt told me that if the crackers had gotten stale, to put them on a cookie tray and put them in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes to crisp them back up! This may not be a NEW tip to any of you, but honestly, it never occurred to me to do that. I either ate the crackers stale or threw them away.
I didn't end up testing this tip out yet, since the crackers weren't stale and I sent them home with my Gram with the leftover soup. But next time I have stale crackers I'll be trying this tip! I cringe anytime something is wasted these days...all part of my new frugal life!
As for last week's post to Kitchen Tip Tuesday, in which I had a question about freezing, I didn't need to test that out either, since I served the Cowboy Stew for lunch rather than freezing it since I was concerned about not having enough Beef Barley to serve to my guests for lunch! But thanks, anyway for answering!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Even though I only actually cooked twice last week, I feel accomplished. Accomplished in the fact that we didn't throw a lot of money away in the form of wasted food.
I had another accomplishment last week. I was able to host a last minute and frugal lunch without having to go grocery shopping. My aunt and Gram wanted to come and visit me (actually the baby) and I wanted to be able to prepare lunch. I also invited my parents over for lunch too. I had a lot of leftover Cowboy Stew and some Beef Barley Soup in the freezer. My aunt brought some hoagies and my parents brought a pie. And I sent my aunt and gram each home with a quart of soup!
This week will be another creative week of trying to form a menu plan using items we have in our freezer or pantry. I'm trying to avoid a large shopping order since we are still experiencing some unexpected expenses. But we're far from deprived.
Here's this week's menu plan:
- Monday: Chick-fil-a (using coupons*).
- Tuesday: Spaghetti and meat sauce, Texas Toast.
- Wednesday: Cheese Steak wraps, waffle fries.
- Thursday: Ham Steak, Baked Beans, Pierogies.
- Friday: Salmon, garlic mashes potatoes, peas..
- Saturday: Leftover night.
- Sunday: Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole.
*A while ago, I registered on Chick-fil-a during a promotion they were having. Just this weekend, I received two coupons for FREE chicken sandwiches. Mondays tend to be our errand day, so if we're out and about we'll pop into Chick-Fil-A for an early dinner. If not, then I'll do some adjusting to the menu plan.
For more menu planning inspiration, be sure to read Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
I'm also linking this to Make-Do Mondays since I think we did a really great job at making do with the leftovers! Again!
I mentioned before that when we lived in our apartment in the city and we both worked, we spent a lot of money on food not cooked in our home. We were paying for the convenience of not only not having to cook, but also the fact that there was very little clean up involved.
Now that we have our own home and only one paycheck, going out to eat or ordering in doesn't occur that often. Occasionally, I've made my own pizza or resorted to frozen pizza. But being a Philly girl, I was really missing cheese steaks.
About a year ago, my friend Lisa (she is also a former Philly girl) told me about a minute steak product that she found at Costco that is an excellent alternative to expensive take out. The first time we tried it, we loved it! And it's one of those must have items that we pick up each trip to Costco (about once a month).
Steak-eze is frozen, chopped minute steak. When you first take it out of the package, it looks like a frozen burger. But as it cooks, it starts to break apart and looks like authentic cheese steak meat.
Each frozen patty serves one person. Although, we like our steak sandwiches really packed with meat, so I usually cook 4 patties for the 2 of us. This makes 3 hearty sandwiches for dinner plus one smaller lunch serving.
I either serve this on a long (hoagie, sub-sandwich) roll or on a tortilla with lettuce and pickle. Hubby uses mayo for his sandwich or wrap and I use ketchup.
I like to serve oven fries on the side too. Since, in my opinion, no cheese steak is complete without a side of fries!
I don't remember the actual cost per package of Steak-Eze, but I can tell you this...we get several meals from one box of Steak-Eze for less than it costs for take out for one night!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
This week brought me a handful of negative issues, but they were truly outweighed by the positive. Here are a few of my positives to share with you.
- Visits with family. Wednesday afternoon, I received news that I was going to get a visit from my aunt and my gram on Thursday. I haven't seen them since July, and I was really pleased (even though I know they were only coming to see the baby). I was especially pleased, because I knew that I could prepare a nice lunch for them with little effort, thanks to my freezer! I had some beef barley soup in the freezer and some stew in the fridge and had a nice visit with my parents, my aunt and my gram. I was even able to send my aunt and gram home each with a quart of soup or stew.
- Puppy dog kisses. My 2 year old Boston Terrier is such a sweet baby. Lots of times she's a terror, but really she is a sweetie! She's such a cuddler and gives lots of kisses. Especially to the baby. She loves "her" baby. But now that the weather is cooler, she loves to curl up on my lap and would sleep there for hours if I didn't have other things to do, like take care of the baby or um, go to the bathroom!
- Fall TV Line-up. I'm loving the fall line up this year. I just wish that Comcast showed more of the shows I watch On Demand. We don't have TIVO or DVR (not in the budget) and some shows overlap. Causing me to pick and choose. Right now, Dancing with the Stars is my choice over Two and a Half Men and the rest of the Monday Night shows on that channel. I'm also really enjoying a couple of new shows this year. The Good Wife and Flash Forward. I'm a jinx when it comes to new shows though...so for anyone else that watches those shows, I'll apologize in advance. :) Hope they stick around.
- Understanding Friends. Wednesday, I had plans with a friend. Nothing special. We were just going to head over to Aldi to pick up a few things. But after she was on her way over, Gracie had other ideas. She started fussing up a storm. So not like her. By the time my friend arrived, it was a total meltdown. Instead of going to Aldi, we put the baby in the car and took a ride until she fell asleep. We stopped at McDonald's for some sweet tea and fries and went back to my house to visit while the baby napped. We'll reschedule Aldi's for one day next week.
- Lemon Drop Baby Boutique. I had such a wonderful shopping experience with this Etsy shop. I haven't received my order yet, it was just finalized the other night. But I am certain that it will be perfect! I ordered this flower headband with an additional headband and a beanie for Gracie. It will be part of her Halloween costume. You can read more about it in a previous post here.
Friday, October 9, 2009
This week, we bought her first Christmas present AND first Disney movie! The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack!
Walmart had it on sale this week for $19.96. (Normally, $24.96.)
I used the $10 coupon that I read about and printed. (Thanks, Frugal in Virginia!) So, after the sale and coupon, the movie was $9.96 plus tax! Not bad for TWO of Gracie's "firsts"!
Another first that we'll be celebrating soon is Halloween. We're pretty excited to dress Gracie up in her costume and take her to see her grandparents.
She's going to be a lady bug! And, oh what a cute bug she'll be! I really splurged on her costume, but I used the money I earned by selling some items on Ebay.
Instead of ordering antennae for her costume, I decided that a beanie with a big red flower would be the perfect topper to her costume. Plus, the hat and flower are more likely to be used again for normal wear than the antennae would be.
I found the perfect red peony hair band at Lemon Drop Baby Boutique. The peony I ordered was attached to a white hair band, I also added a plain black beanie and a black hair band to my order. Since the flower is removeable, I can switch it from band to band to beanie!
After a few friendly messages with Cindy, she set up a private order for me and it's now on it's way to me! (Be sure to check my blog for pictures and a shop review after it arrives!)
I am pretty happy to have been able to get a couple of things for Gracie this week. And even happier that I was frugal in the items I purchased.
Coupons, ebay earnings and double use items made some splurge purchase possible this week!
With Christmas coming up quick, I'm hoping to find some more frugal deals!
Check out more Frugal Friday tips at Life as Mom!
Also, check out Hooked On Fridays.
From October 8th -October 12, EDT, Herbal Essences is giving away 18,750 coupons per day. The coupons are good for full sized products up to 12 oz. One coupon per household, while supplies last!
Use the following link to sign up for your coupon today!
Herbal Essences Gorgeous Giveaway - Free* Herbal Essences Product
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I have a few recipes previously posted for beef, both here and on my other blog and I figured that linking them in this post would be the easiest way to share them in today's recipe swap.
- Hamburgers, Meatballs, Meatloaf (I use the same recipe for all 3)
- Pepper Steak
- Beef Barley Soup
- Crock Pot Beef Stew
Recently, I've been pre-cooking and freezing ground beef. You can read more about that here in a previous post. It makes my life so much easier. Well, my life at mealtime becomes easier.
The pre-cooked and frozen ground beef can be used in any of your favorite meals that call for ground meat. I use it for the following meals:
- Meat sauce for pasta
- Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes
- Hamburger gravy mixed with elbow macaroni
- Chili (I'll be posting my chili recipe to my other blog in a week or two)
Well, I was really in the mood to try that Cowboy Stew recipe. And I wanted to cook it in the crock pot. I remembered that I had some pre-cooked ground beef in the freezer. I added all of the other stew ingredients and then added the beef. Still frozen! How easy is that?
Don't forget to check out this week's Ultimate Recipe Swap for more great recipes using beef.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm not real good at keeping myself on a household schedule. You know, baking on Monday, laundry on Tuesday, clean floors on Wednesday....... I just can't do it. I'm a procrastinator. Truly, I am. I married a procrastinator, too. So, you can just imagine. (For those of you that know us in real life....quit laughing!)
Lately, I've been trying my best to at least be one step ahead of the actual mess. You know, the thing that causes cleaning!
One of my least favorite jobs (besides scrubbing the toilet, folding laundry, mopping the floors......you get the idea) is cleaning out the refrigerator. It's bad enough having to clean it out on a good day, let alone after something leaked while thawing on the bottom shelf. Ick!
Cleaning the fridge after a "meat leak" is the worst! The bottom shelf in my fridge doesn't have a smooth surface. It has a bunch of grooves in it making it difficult/annoying to clean. Then, if it was a really bad leak, there's the chance that it seeped into the veggie bins below not only making the chore more of an annoyance, it adds the possibility of cross contamination.
I've put one of dinner plates under the frozen items in the past, but somehow whatever corner of the package has a small pin sized hole in it, is the corner that doesn't fit onto the plate and leaks still occur.
After several "meat leaks" in my fridge, I thought of a solution. I put whatever item I am thawing into a clean dishpan and then place that on my bottom shelf of the fridge. It's deep enough to catch any messy leaks and it's much easier to clean the dish pan that it is to clean the fridge and veggie bins!
Walmart has a not too big, not too small sized dish pan in their housewares section. I think I paid less than $2 for the one I use.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a large pork loin out of the freezer. It was huge! Almost 7 lbs and the length of my arm! Needless to say, it wouldn't fit into my dish pan. I almost didn't worry about it leaking since it was vacuum packed and sealed. But then I decided that it wasn't worth the risk. I didn't not want to have to scrub the fridge out that night if it leaked.
I looked around the basement and garage in search of something I could slide under the pork loin, but that would also fit on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. I found a box that I brought my canned goods home in from Aldi. You know, the boxes that have the fronts cut out. Sam's, Costco and BJs have these boxes too. Anyway, I cut the sides of the box down and made a "tray" out of the box. About 3 inches deep. It was a long enough box to hold the pork loin perfectly and fit just right on the shelf.
I'm so glad that I didn't skip putting something under the pork loin, because it did leak, into the box. Not enough to seep all the way through, so clean up was simple...I just threw the box away!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
While most of the time, everything works as planned. All the coupons are deducted and doubled as they should.
My big issue with coupons are the coupons for FREE items. I'm pretty new to couponing as well as being a new mommy. We grocery shop as a family. My husband entertains the baby in the shopping cart, while I run around the store like a crazy person, trying to get finished as quick as possible before our small window of opportunity (pleasant baby) runs out!
So, when I am reading what size item I need to match which coupon, I don't really remember all of the prices for items by the time I get up to the register. I figure the computer will do that part....right?
Well, everytime I have one of those coupons for a FREE item (happened last time with dog food and Kashi cereal coupons) the cashier asks me: "Do you remember the price of that item?" Uh.....no....sorry. The cashier then looks around, confused. Not wanting to check the computer to see what the item costs so that he/she can deduct the correct amount.
This is the part that shopping with the hubby isn't such a great idea, even if he is great entertainment for the baby. Once the cashier starts to look around confused, my husband reaches for the coupons, hands them to me and tells me we'll use them next time.
Ugh! Last time this happened, we spent $4 on items that I would not have wanted to buy without the coupon. And ended up not using the coupon! Turns out the dog hated that type of dog food and we haven't tried the Kashi cereal yet.
Anyway, my point is.....I need to remember to write down the price of the free items, so that I can be prepared the next time the cashier doesn't want to do their job. It was also brought to my attention later, that the cashiers aren't supposed to take our word for the cost of the item....they are, in fact, supposed to go back into the register to look up the price. But I'll be prepared for the next time...I hope!
And speaking of coupons....I found a printable coupon for Tabasco Sauce. Read more about it and get the link here.
For more helpful hints, check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.
Last night, I made a batch of Cowboy Stew (recipe on my other blog).
Needing ground beef for this recipe and needing to cook it before adding to the crock pot, it made sense to use the frozen pre-cooked ground beef that I made last month. It made making this recipe so much easier.
After seeing how much this recipe made for just the two of us, I thought it would be great to freeze the leftovers. But then I remembered that the meat was already cooked, frozen and thawed. And now I am not sure if it's safe to re-freeze that meat in the stew.
Does anyone know? Can I re-freeze the cooked meat?
Although, it would mess up my Menu Plan for the rest of the week, I'm fully prepared to eat the stew for the rest of the week if I need to. :)
Make-do with what's in your pantry.
Sometimes I want to try a new recipe. Especially now, when there are so many food related blogs on the Internet. But sometimes, I don't have all the ingredients.
There are a couple of options open to me. Skip trying the recipe until the next shopping trip OR I can see what missing ingredients can be substituted with items I already have in my pantry.
Today, I chose to substitute.
I've been wanting to try Cowboy Stew for a while now. I saw the recipe on the Crock Pot Lady's blog.
I didn't have tomato sauce that her recipe called for, so I checked to see what I had in my pantry and found a can of Ready-To-Serve Tomato Soup that my husband bought a while back (instead of the condensed soup that I needed at the time). I hate plain tomato soup and had no idea how I would use up that can of soup. Until today!
I was so pleased to be able to use that can of soup and not worry about it going past the expiration date before I found a use for it. And I was really glad that I was able to make the meal that I wanted without having to wait for the next shopping trip! I think that is a double success story for today!
Here is the link to MY version of Cowboy Stew. It's posted on my other blog.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Today, I noticed a printable coupon on Tabasco's website.
We use a lot of Tabasco Sauce and Lea & Perrins Sauce for cooking and as a condiment. So, both of these coupons are great for us! Just thought I'd share with y'all!
Last week, I mentioned sharing my recipes for Pepper Steak and Chili.
I skipped the chili last week, but hope to make it in the next couple of weeks. I'll be sure to share the recipe then, after measuring the ingredients before adding them!
This week, I feel as if I am struggling to create my menu plan. A few things are contributing to the struggle:
- I think I'm getting sick. Feeling sick the past couple days has not only made it difficult to focus, it's actually made me not too interested in food. (Did I just say that out loud? Gasp!)
- Trying to skip shopping. We've had a few extra expenses (Costco membership renewal, wedding) this past month and a few coming up this month . Skipping grocery shopping will help us catch up. I have a freezer full of food along with a very well-stocked pantry, so major shopping can be avoided without feeling it too much. Just a little bit of a challenge, since items I want aren't necessarily what we have in stock.
- Disaster area/kitchen. After 2 years (and four months.....who's counting?)of living in our home, my husband is finally starting to paint the house. Where is he starting? The kitchen. Makes sense, since the kitchen is in the front of the house and is also our main entrance into our home. Makes sense to start on the first room you see when entering. BUT, it's a bit of an inconvenience. (More about the painting of the house/kitchen in another post....soon!)
- Dentist. In addition to working on the kitchen this week, hubby is getting some dental work done. I'm not really sure how much he'll be in the mood to eat this week.
So, I'm making a Menu Plan anyway and we'll see how much I manage to stick to it this week. Trying to prepare crock pot meals or something that can very simply be popped into the oven. Not looking for a lot of prep work this week.
- Monday: Cowboy Stew, biscuits
- Tuesday: Leftover Night
- Wednesday: Frozen Chicken and Pasta from Costco
- Thursday: Ham Steak, Corn Bread Casserole, Baked Beans
- Friday: Crock Pot Chicken, Mac and Cheese, green beans
- Saturday: Frozen Pizza Night
- Sunday: Leftover Night
Okay, now that I read this, I'm doing a lot of cheating this week! A frozen dinner, 2 leftover nights AND a frozen pizza night! Plus, depending on how I feel and the condition of the kitchen, Thursday's ham steak meal, might turn into a Hamburger Helper night!
Not the healthiest Menu Plan, but we'll be using up what we have and I'll be saving myself from some unwanted stress while the kitchen gets painted.
The Cowboy Stew is something new I am trying this week. I found the recipe here. I'll probably make some changes to it as I throw it together. I usually do. I'll post my version on my other blog sometime later in the week.
Friday, October 2, 2009
So, here's my first attempt.
- Autumn. I love the crisp, fall weather that we've been seeing here these days. I'm happy that the air conditioners can be turned off (hopefully removed from the windows this weekend) and sweaters and sweatshirts can be brought out of storage. I'm looking forward to seeing the leaves on the trees change color and start to fall. It's such a beautiful time of the year...and cozy too!
- My Crock Pot. I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: I LOVE my crock pot! It's become my favorite kitchen appliance these days. It really has made my life a lot easier. Now, I don't have to stress over finding time to make dinner in the afternoon. Just a few minutes in the morning while the baby is still asleep, and dinner is taken care of!
- Trader Joe's Moisturizing Cream. I found this last year at Trader Joe's. They keep a bottle of it on the check out counter to sample. The full name (and it's a long one) is: Trader Joe's A Midsummer Night's Cream Moisturizing Cream Extra Dry Formula. I chose to buy the unscented version, since I have issues with strong fragrances. This has a slight scent, but nothing overpowering. It's an herbal blend and contains aloe. Now, with the change of weather, my hands have become really dry. Plus with the baby, I feel like I am constantly washing my hands. So, I keep this next to the bathroom sink and try to remember to use after each hand washing. I started using this again just the other day, and I can feel my hands getting softer already!
- Blogging. I'm new at blogging, just about a month ago, I started 2 blogs. One for random topics and the other for recipe and kitchen related topics. I'm enjoying myself a lot. It's the creative outlet that I've been lacking this past year.
- My baby's smile. My daughter is 5 months old today. She is so pleasant and she makes me smile and laugh a lot. My absolute favorite part of the day is when she wakes up. When I hear her stirring and go to get her out of her bed, she greets me with such a huge, smile and sometimes a squeal or giggle!
So, those are my favorites for this week. Sorry, no pictures this time. I'm working on starting to take pictures that I can post on my blogs. Hopefully, soon.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
When we lived in our apartment, I teased my huband and called him the Crock Pot King. On his day off, he would often drop me off at work, stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things, throw it together in the crock pot and then go about his day. Come time to pick me up from work, dinner was done! What a treat for me!
Since then, I've really come to rely on my crock-pot a lot. Especially, since the birth of our daughter in May. I never know what my day is going to be like, now that she is here. Plans can change in an instant depending on her mood or needs.
I found that if I manage about 10-15 minutes in the morning to prepare something to cook in the crock-pot, then we are guaranteed a meal at dinner time.
Here are links to some of my tried and true crock-pot recipes both here on this blog and also my other blog:
White Chicken Chili
Whole Chicken in the crock pot
Beef Barley Soup
Crock Pot Ravioli
Our Favorite Baked Beans
Crock Pot Beef Stew
Wow! That's a lot of crock pot recipes for just about a month of blogging!
Here's a trick I used to try to avoid morning sickness involving my crock pot!
Leave me a comment if you like a recipe, especially if you try it and like it!