Saturday, December 31, 2011

Steak and zucchini cakes

Little Miss came home from winter Girl Scout camp, and since it's New Year's Eve tonight and I work the closing shift, I made a hot meal for lunch.

Over the summer I froze some shredded zucchini, and today I retrieved a pack of about 3.5 cups. Once thawed and drained of excess moisture, the zucchini yields about two cups.

The zucchini cakes are a variation of the crabbi-less cakes in Deidre Imus' Imus Ranch Cookbook. Today I made a use-up-the-leftover-Christmas-cheese version.

I started with 1.5 cups of cornflake crumbs, probably about 1.5 cups of various cubed cheese that I broke into tiny shreds (Colby jack, Gouda, and tomato laughing cow). For seasonings, I added about 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon lemon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon ranch dressing, 1 tablespoon mayo, and 1/2 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce. Add an egg, shape into patties and fry about five minutes on each side being careful not to let the cheese stick to the pan.

I made little steaks with a brandy cream sauce.

Both of these (the zucchini cakes and the steak in brandy cream sauce) I've blogged about before. They are family favorites.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Classico Sausage Skillet

I received a phone call from Target today at 10:20 asking me to cashier from 10:30 to 2:30. I made it there by 10:48 and spent the day running back and forth between lane 12 and making pizzas at the café.

With my daughter away at Girl Scout camp, my diet has consisted of burgers and Christmas cookies, eggs and corn chips.

So when I got home, I asked my husband to whip up the following:

Classico Alfredo Sausage Skillet

- 1/2 box whole wheat rotini
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 1 jar Classico roasted red pepper poblano Alfredo sauce (I think... I had a Target coupon to try it)
- grated Parmesan

Darrell prepared the pasta while he browned the meat in my skillet. Then he added the sauce, then the noodles and we sprinkled with the cheese.

The sauce had a small bite and a layer of sweetness so I probably should have added a pinch of fresh ground black pepper. And broccoli. But I was starving so...

Monday, December 26, 2011

SodaStream

I asked for a SodaStream for Christmas. My mother-in-law came through.

Years ago I started diluting my daughter's juice with seltzer as a refreshing summer treat and it gets to the point where I can go through a liter of "bubbles" a day.

What complicates this is the fact that only Wegmans has good bubbles. The brand of bubbles at Giant go flat a day after you open them and Target only has flavored bubbles which are more expensive than plain and often have artificial sweeteners.

We made our first two liters last night-- and prepared juice with bubbles for her and flavored water for me (with one of the sample flavors).

I drank a liter plus of bubbles and got up four times during the night to use the bathroom.

The SodaStream Genesis is simple to use, does not require electricity, and is a slender machine. What freaks me out is that the bottles are not only not dishwasher safe, but they can't be washed in hot water/water hotter then 120 degrees.

They also suggest carbonating the water, chilling it and then adding soda syrup directly to the bottle-- I'd be afraid that would taint the bottle with flavor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookie exchange

Earlier this month, one of my work colleagues organized a cookie exchange. I volunteered to participate but I never heard any details so I figured it was a bust.

Wrong.

I found out today that I have to make 8 dozen cookies on my day off.

So I made the peanut butter from the child's school fundraiser, then oatmeal-strawberry-raisin, then Algerian cookies that I made the wrong shape.

And I ran out of sesame seeds and used poppy.


The Algerian Sesame Cookies http://www.food.com/recipe/algerian-helouwa-taaba-lemon-or-sesame-cookies-352938

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Team Member Appreciation Days

Some times I can't believe how much I enjoy working at Target. With Christmas coming, it can be aggravating and super busy, but I work with some incredible people.

Last week, Target employees (team members) got an extra discount on iTunes gift cards.

This week, we get an extra 10% off "Target-owned brands." As one pleasantly surprised colleague said, "That's half the store!"

So I went to work early and did my household shopping. I had about $15 worth of coupons and I was primed for deals. I think all together I had $330 worth of stuff and the final tab was $248.97.

My husband got two shirts, both Merona (a Target brand) at $17.99 and $12.99.

Cleaning supplies:
- Up and Up dish detergent (TB= Target brand) 2 @ $3.44 each
- Up and Up dryer sheets (TB) $3.99
- Up and Up fabric softener (TB) $3.24
- Up and Up laundry detergent (TB) the one that does 96 or 98 loads... $11.49
Minus a $2 coupon

Groceries:
- cashews, big jar, unsalted, TB, $11.99
- asiago herb crackers, TB, $2.19 minus 75 cent coupon
- Ocean spray cranberry juice, $2.69 minus $1 coupon
- 4 packs of Market Pantry 100 percent juice juice boxes, TB, $2.64 each
- 2 large jars of peanut butter, TB, $5.09 each
- 4 cans of whole black olives, TB, $1.17 each
- 3 boxes of vegetable stock, $3.09 each
- yogurt dressing, TB, $2.99
- funky soups, TB, 6 at $2.29 each
- 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce, TB, 6 at 57 cents each
- strawberry basil balsamic vinegar, TB, $4.99
- 2 somethings at $2.79 each, TB
- Classico Alfredo poblano sauce, $2.54 minus $1 coupon
-,Archer Farm coffee, raspberry scone, TB, $6.89
- Tazo rest tea (my favorite), 3 boxes at $2.79 each
- fairly big jar of ground ginger, TB, $4.49
- McCormick pure almond extract, $3.35
- Sugar, TB, $2.79
- Birds Eye vegetable risotto, $1.87 minus 50 cents
- something TB, 3 at $1.97
- market pantry orange chicken, TB, $5.49
- eggs, 99 cents minus 50 cent coupon
- Silk soymilk, 2 at $2.99 each
- heavy whipping cream, TB, $2.29
- extra sharp cheddar, 8 ounces, TB, 5 at $2.19 each
- 2 organic spinach pizzas and 1 organic tomato pizza, TB, $3.99
- up and up soap, the Target brand version of Dove, 2 eight packs at $8.49 each
- deodorant, $3.59 - $1 off coupon
- large trash bags, 108 of them, TB, $13.79
- Cottonelle double rolls 18-count
$15.99 - $1 coupon
- tissues, TB, 3 at $1.39 each and multipack $4.99
- 20 pounds of Iams, $23.74
- cat litter, 35 pounds, $10.99 - $1 off coupon
- Morningstar breakfast patties, 2 at $3.69 each
- market party black forest ham, TB, 3.04
- archer farm multigrain bread, TB, $2.79
Minus $1 coupon
Minus $5 target coupon

Subtotal: $309.68
Team member discount: -$31.91
Team member appreciation discount: -$20.47
Red card discount: -12.87
Tax: + $4.54

Total: $248.97

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hard Boiled Eggs

I realized today that I haven't given my tortoise cheese or eggs in months. So I'm making her a hard-boiled egg.

I hate hard-boiled eggs so I was fairly certain I remembered how to do it-- eggs in water, boil, cover and let sit 15 minutes.

But just to be sure I googled it, and found this:

http://m.wikihow.com/Hard-Boil-an-Egg

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Harissa craving

Had to go to Forks Mediterranean Deli. Read this passage in my book and had the worst *need* for lamb shawarma swimming in harissa: "He ate couscous from a big clay bowl... He poured harissa sauce and we ate with our fingers." (From Ted Morgan's My Battle of Algiers.)

So I bought 3 gigantic lamb shawarma with 2 packs of large zaatar bread, 2 packs of homemade zaatar bread (of which daughter ate one immediately), one bottle olive oil, one side of harissa, one bag of dried strawberries, one bag dried blueberries and a nice container of majhool dates.

I spent $57 but $24 was the lamb shawarma.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Steak followed by Bottom Dollar

Tonight's dinner was steak in a brandy cream glaze, Green Giant Healthy Vision vegetables and Uncle Ben's long grain rice. More processed than usual but I haven't gone shopping since Thanksgiving.

We headed to Bottom Dollar after dinner since a new one opened and we had a $10 off a $20 purchase coupon.

We spent $39.32.

We bought:
- 2 bags of Frito style corn chips, $0.99 each. (We plan on bringing 'ugly bean dip' to our upcoming holiday parties.)
- 2 bags tortilla chips, $1.09 each
- 3 small cans chunk light tuna in water, 59 cents each
- Goya canned black beans, 67 cents (for the dip-- I have a dry bag, but I don't know if I'll have time to make them before the party)
- one can Goya passion fruit nectar, 85 cents
- whole black olives, 2 cans @ $1.28 each
- 2 cans creamed corn, 2 cans whole corn, 59 cents each
- 2 cans pinto beans, 65 cents each
- mayo, $1.60
- geisha sliced water chestnuts, 99 cents
- 1 can pear halves in light syrup, $1.28
- diced tomatoes, 2 cans at 88 cents each
- box of golden raisins, $2.99
- boxed macaroni and cheese, 39 cents each (2 boxes)
- unsweetened applesauce in the individual portions, $1.67
- box of seedless raisins, $2.18
- lemon extract, $2.05
- ground beef, 1 lb, $3.66
- red onion, 41 cents
- almost 2 pounds of gala apples, $2.75
- large green pepper, 50 cents
- cantaloupe, $1.68
- mango, 98 cents
- carrots, 78 cents
- 2 pints raspberries, $2.48 each
- extra sharp cheddar, one pound, $3.58
- crunchy cheese doodles, 99 cents

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Massive egg sandwich

I have a 12:30-6 cashiering shift today so I made this big sandwich for 11 a.m. breakfast:
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- homemade bread and butter pickles, about 8
- 2 eggs, over hard
- fried black forest ham
- extra sharp cheddar
- chipotle cheddar
- honey mustard
- buffalo blue cheese dip

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lazy Soup

I got lazy today and threw this soup together:
- 1 can Campbell's vegetarian vegetable
- 1.5 cans water
- 1 can cream style corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup prepared white beans
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sesame Turkey Barbeque

So, I cook like a spaz. Sometimes I start mixing so many flavors that in the end, I don't know what made the recipe work and what was completely unnecessary.

We have turkey left that had been frozen. We've been eating those super yummy spicy turkey mash up wraps.

I decided to make turkey barbecue, except my family isn't keen on barbecue so I thought I'd try something
more Asian inspired.

The base of this recipe was Betty Crocker's barbecue sauce. As written:

BARBECUE SAUCE
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Boil. Then stir in:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

What I did:
3/4 cup no HFCS ketchup
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black strap molasses
About 1/2 cup Iron chef orange teriyaki sauce
About 1/4 cup Newman's Own sesame ginger dressing
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon walnut oil
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mash Up Turkey Soup

We got the leftover turkey out of the freezer and then I made last minute arrangements to cover someone's shift tonight.

I whipped out the crock pot and threw in:
(this could be nasty)
- one cup rice, unprepared, which I then steamed and ended up using about 1.5 cups prepared rice
- one can Campbell's cream of chicken soup
- one can broccoli cheese soup
- 1.5 cans unsweetened soy milk (then it ran out)
- 1/2 can vanilla almond milk
- shredded turkey
- 1/2 cup pickled mixed vegetables
- frozen white beans
- turkey
- 1 can green chiles
- 1 can petit diced tomatoes
- about 1/4 teaspoon country herb blend
- about 1/2 teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin and black pepper

Okay... One hour later. I cook by smell, I can't eat something if it smells bad. And this smells putrid.

I upped the chili powder, added a pinch of Indian chili powder, garlic powder, minced garlic and paprika. I tasted a piece of the turkey and it was edible- just smelled gross.

After the seasoning melded in the crock pot for a couple hours, my mother-in-law and other family members commented that it smelled delicious. My husband went shopping, and the soup evaporated into a pâté, or so he described it.

He filled tortillas with turkey and the leftover soup and they were FABULOUS!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Avoiding failure

Today started strong. It's December first so I have to forgive myself for blowing November's food budget in a flurry of ear tube surgery, report card rewards, stress eating and Thanksgiving.

Breakfast was vegan pumpkin waffles with maple syrup from the freezer.

Lunch was hurried after an eye doctor appointment so it was a bowl of Boo Berry with unsweetened soy milk.

So I had to make myself something hearty for 4 o'clock snack (before work.)

I opted for two scrambled eggs in small tortilla shells, Archer Farms summer fruit salsa and a touch of pepper jack cheese.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hot Chocolate

My daughter had to write "steps in a process" in her second grade class. She's only seven, but of course her selection for the assignment was a recipe! (beaming here!)

In case the photo doesn't capture it:

Making Hot Chocolate
1. First you get hot chocolate miks and milk, a ovon (ummm... Microwave oven, love Mom) and a cup

2. Then you put the milk in a cup.

3. Next you heat it up.

4. Next you put the chocolate micks in the oven (in the cup, dear, with the milk, love Mom)

5. Finally you ster it and injoy it

Post Holiday Salad

I've been craving salads. I think it's carb overload from Thanksgiving. I don't crave salads often once the weather gets cold so I'm running with it.

I did something similar to this at work the other night:
• Fresh Express Veggie Lover's salad
• Marie's Ranch Dressing
• firecracker carrots from my canning with Gayle this summer
• Morningstar vegetarian buffalo wings

Today's lunch had a side of diluted Ocean Spray Cran-pomegranate juice, white earl gray tea for my husband and Tazo rest tea for me.

And I have to keep working on Nana's homemade cranberry sauce.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sausage Spinach Lasagna

I had a coupon for ricotta so I thought I'd make lasagne. I bought several cans of sauce for this lasagne only to find that by the time I got around to making it, my husband had used all but one can for pasta.

Ingredients
- one pound mild Italian sausage, ground
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- Italian seasoning, about a tablespoon
- 2 brown eggs
- 15 ounces ricotta
- 2 cups spinach
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan/reggiano
- 12 no boil lasagne noodles

Brown the sausage and add tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Let simmer.

In large bowl, mix both cheeses, eggs and spinach.

Layer into 9 x 13 Pyrex dish-- sauce, four noodles, sauce, think layer of cheese; noodles, sauce, cheese; noodles, remaining sauce.

I would have preferred double the amount of sauce. I didn't think to add garlic.

Cover with foil and bake for 60-70 minutes at 375. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes to let crisp.

Let stand before serving.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bread stuffing

This is my third year hosting Thanksgiving at my house. And despite this, somehow, I have never posted the Betty Crocker recipe for stuffing.

Usually, I make homemade bread for my stuffing, but this year I bought white bread from Bottom Dollar because it was cheap. Last night child and I watched an episode of Ugly Betty and ripped bread into cubes.

We have about 16 cups of bread.

BETTY CROCKER STUFFING:
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups chopped celery with leaves (I omit, I hate celery)
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onions (I hate onions so I usually use chives from my garden that I froze)
- 9 cups soft bread cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium- high heat. Cook onions and celery for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.

Now, I'm going to probably use done fresh parsley that I froze from my garden as a substitute for celery. I have that country herb blend that I will probably use instead of straight thyme. But I won't mess with sage, because that's the key to that real stuffing flavor. I will mix fresh and dried, though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry orange bread

I decided to modify my cinnamon raisin bread into a cranberry orange loaf. I started with the Traditional White Bread from my 25th anniversary Betty Crocker cookbook.

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD
- about 2 cups whole wheat flour
- about 5 cups unbleached white flour
- 1.5 tablespoons local honey
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons (or did I use a tablespoon?) yeast
- 1 cup triple sec, heated (plus more for bowl)
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup raisins and craisins

Mix the wheat flour and 2 cups white flour with the butter, salt, sugar, honey and yeast. Add liquid. Stir thoroughly with wooden spoon.

Add fruit and enough remaining flour until the dough is elastic and not wet to the touch. Need ten minutes.

Sprinkle light amounts triple sec into the bowl (straight from the bottle), and drop the dough in. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

Now, my house is always low so I preheat my oven to 200, turn the oven off and open the door and let most of the hot air out. Then I put the dough in and close the door.

The dough is ready when it doubles in size. Push a finger in and if the indentation remains, it's ready.

Knead again. Grease two loaf pans. Divide dough in half. Make rectangles, roll them tightly and then tuck the ends under. Put them in the loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 425. Cover dough and let rise 30 minutes. Until they double. I place my loaf pan on the burner where the oven exhausts so that hot air will keep it warm.

Bake 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Nut Butter

I haven't cooked much or cleaned much or faced the fact that there's a major food-themed holiday tomorrow. I have enough trouble remembering to put on my socks.

Today's breakfast was fresh strawberries, Bolthouse farms blue (berry) smoothie, and wheat toast with almond-cashew-peanut butter.

The nut butter came from Target, the Archer Farm store brand. I love almond butter, but my daughter hates it. She prefers cashew butter. So this seemed like a good compromise.

What's weird is I can distinctly taste all three flavors.

I like Target's selection of nut butters. The jars are small, but that makes them a reasonable splurge and makes it fun to try new flavors. Like this one.

Nut butters are a quick, fun protein.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Perfumed Pineapple Oat Crumble

This is a favorite from the French cookbook my friend Jessica brought me. The original attempt (with way too much butter after the conversion from metric and translation) is here:

http://angelfoodcooking.blogspot.com/2009/07/perfumed-pineapple-crumble-crumble.html?m=0

I did some alterations today, trying to make it heartier/healthier.

Ingredients:
- 2 small pineapples
- real vanilla
- brown sugar
- butter
- flour
- oats

Cut the pineapple and 'perfume' with about 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Grease dish with butter. I used my Le Creuset skillet today.

Sprinkle with brown sugar. The original suggests 3 tablespoons. I didn't measure.

Arrange pineapple in the bottom of the dish.

Make sandy crumbs with remaining ingredients. The recipe suggests 2 more teaspoons vanilla, 2 cups flour and 2 cups brown sugar. And butter -- at room temperature.

I tried:
- vanilla
- one cup unbleached flour
- one cup oats
- one cup brown sugar
- 1/2 stick butter

Cover pineapple with crumbs and bake for 45 minutes at 350.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pre-Holiday Shopping (Hi, Bottom Dollar)


I finally remembered/ had time to go to Bottom Dollar. I had one of their "get $10 off any $25 purchase" coupons. Who can resist THAT?

Stores like this only save you money if you know exactly what you pay for your groceries. For instance: they charge $2.98 for Silk soy milk. Target charges $2.99. Fresh Express Veggie Lovers Salad was $2.49 at Bottom Dollar. The regular price at Target is $2.99, but it's usually on sale _most of the time_ for $1.99.

Bottom Dollar has lots of name brand merchandise. Lots of processed food. I don't typically use much of these items. I have to admit, I liked the variety of Bottom Dollar's fresh produce.

My mom came with me and I paid for everything and then she bought me a HUGE bottle of brandy in exchange for her victuals.

So, I bought:
- 3 containers (a quart each?) of mango nectar, $4.14 ($1.38 each)
- macaroni and cheese dinner, 2 @ 39 cents each
- big cans of yams, 2 @ 1.98
- black turtle beans (dry), $1.22
- light red kidney beans (dry), $1.14
- little red beans (dry), $1.06
- large can of tuna in water, 2 @ $1.98
- round top white bread (for stuffing), 89 cents
- pumpkin seeds, natural, $1.99
- crushed chili peppers, 99 cents
- Libby's solid pack pumpkin, 15 ounce can, 2 @ $1.29
- pineapple nectar, single serving can, 2 @ 44 cents each
- pear nectar, single serving can, 44 cents
- maiers Italian rolls, $2.79 (for mom)
- small bag of flour, $1.28
- 2 cans apricot nectar, 44 cents each
- bananas, 44 cents a pound
- pineapple (fresh, small, but ripe according to the pluck test), 2 @ $1.99
- green peppers (for mom, but I should have gotten some too), 2 huge ones at 50 cents each
- 3 lbs onions (for mom), $1.67
- 2 big bags of frozen broccoli spears, $1.98
- salted butter, one pound, 2 @ $1.98 each
- 64 ounces of half and half, $3.98
- 32 ounces whole milk, $1.18
- 12 large brown eggs, $1.58
- 18 large eggs, $1.46
- Kraft shredded cheese, 8 ounces, 2 @ 1.48 (for mom)
- huge loaf of French bread, $1.48

Total, after coupons: $45.25

Then we headed to Target. For more pre-holiday damage.

- two up and up fabric softeners, $3.99 each
- Cheetos, one crunchy regular and one crunchy jalapeño (with plans for my famous Cheetos broccoli on thanksgiving) $2.50 each
- tostitos spinach dip, on sale for $3
- Ocean Spray cranberry pomegranate juice, 2 @ $1.99 each
- Marie's ranch dressing, 3 @ $1.65 each (normally $3+ each)
- Fresh Express veggie lover's salad, 3 @ $1.99 each
- Bolthouse smoothies, 2 at $3.49 each (one mango-cherry and one blue)
- big jar of Market Pantry peanut butter, $5.09
- 16 ounces of almond-cashew-peanut butter, $5.99
- Kraft Italian dressing, $2.19
- kitchen basics, one vegetable stock and one beef stock, $3.04 each
- market pantry tomato sauce 16 ounce can, 2 at 57 cents each
- Archer Farms buffalo blue cheese dip, $2.99
- market pantry no boil lasagne noodles, $1.65
- market pantry brownies, 4 packages of four brownie bites, 49 cents a package
- pecans, $3.99 (normally $5.69)
Anyone else notice the skyrocketing cost of pecans?
- Hershey baking cocoa powder, $2.59
- SURPRISE for my husband for Xmas, $4.99
- 1 pound strawberries, $3.04
- 6 ounces raspberries, $2.09
- frozen strawberry slices, $2.29
- Silk vanilla almond milk, $3.19
- silk very vanilla soy milk, $2.99
- Silk unsweetened soy milk, $2.99
- 9 yogurts, 62 cents each
- market pantry whipped cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon, $1.29
- 4 boxes of tissues, $4.99
- Purina One salmon cat food, $10.99 minus $1 off coupon
- Archer Farms whole wheat bread, $2.59
- Archer Farms coffee, $6.49
*had a coupon for $2 off the bread and coffee*
- the BIG pack of 24 Scott triple rolls of toilet paper, $14.99 minus $1 off coupon plus free Kleenex hand towels

Subtotal: $138.31
Team member discount: -$13.86
Red card discount: -$6.22
Tax: + $1.31

Total: $119.54



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grilled cheese with apples

Simple but hearty and flavorful. That was tonight's dinner.

Ingredients:
- butter
- wheat bread (two slices per person)
- one large apple, sliced
- two slices Morningstar breakfast strips (vegetarian bacon)
- extra sharp cheddar
- mozzarella
- Market pantry sweet potato fries

Put the fries in the oven.

Heat the Le Creuset skillet with a generous tablespoon of butter. Add the apples and cook until soft. Move to plate.

Heat vegetarian bacon.

Butter one side of bread, place in pan, layer with cheddar, then apples, then bacon, then mozzarella. Top with another slice of bread and make however you normally like your grilled cheese.

I burned mine, but they were so good my seven-year-old didn't care.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Venison Stew

I started a stew this morning and quickly discovered I had none of the ingredients.

I chopped my venison cubes into bite-sized chunks and cooked them over medium-high heat in the Le Creuset skillet with some canola oil, fresh ground pepper, and country herb blend.

When that finished, I added about a half cup of balsamic vinaigrette. Then, in my Le Creuset cassoulet, I placed a can of condensed beef vegetable soup, about four cans water and another half cup of vinegar in my Le Creuset cassoulet.

I added the meat and its juice into the cassoulet and let it come to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. I also threw in two carrots, nicely chopped.

It turned out to be one of my best stews.

Clafoutis

Found this recipe online:

http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/apricot-almond-clafouti-recipe-9990

And now I'm off to the kitchen, knowing full well i have none of the proper ingredients... But I must try!

Details to come.

Okay, initial reaction: this was incredible. Now next time I want to follow the directions because that would be mind-blowing.

What I made:

Ingredients:
- one large can pear halves, drained (seven halves)
- one apple, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup triple sec
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened soy)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg white
- 1 pinch salt
- 2/3 cup unbleached flour

In large bowl, mix fruit, alcohol and lemon juice. Soak for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Take deep dish 10-inch pie plate and butter liberally. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

Arrange fruit on bottom of pie plate. Reserve liquid.

Take eggs and egg white and cream with the remaining sugar. Add remaining ingredients, including the reserved alcohol from the fruit. It will be runny, as this is more of a custard than a cake.

Bake about 50 minutes until the clafouti puffs and turns golden. It will deflate some once cooled.

Cool 20 minutes before serving. Best served warm.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Top Round Steak

This is a combination of recipes I found online to do something a little different with the one pound top round steak I bought at Target for $3.50.

In my large Le Creuset skillet, I placed the steak, with about one teaspoon of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

On the steak, I scattered the following:
- 1 clove diced garlic
- about 1.5 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
- about 2 teaspoons country herb blend
- about two teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- about one teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
- about two teaspoons lemon juice

I threw one can of potatoes around the steak and plan on baking it for about an hour. I placed my large pfaltzgraf platter over the top as a cover.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Almost vegan chili

A batch of chili is something that can never be the same twice. Not in my house.

I started with a Le Creuset cassoulet with a tablespoon or two of canola oil and a pinch of minced garlic. I added the following spices, while the pot heated over medium-high:
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Indian chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa

Added:
- one 15 or so ounce can of Italian seasoned tomatoes

Heated to boiling.

Added 2 grated carrots.

Boiled.

Added about 20 ounces of Pacific Foods organic Homestyle tomato soup. And about 1/4 cup diced pineapple in juice. (a single serving cup I got on clearance on Target)

Boiled, covered, simmer for an hour.

Now, I'm adding three varieties of beans: 1 pound red kidney, about 10 ounces black and 10 or so ounces of white. I made all of these from dry beans, which is why I added the soup for liquid. The Betty Crocker recipe suggests using the sludge from canned beans.

Red kidney beans

I'm reeling from shock as I realize my family has eaten two pounds of black beans in two months.

Today I'm making kidney beans as my husband accidentally opened a can of petit diced Italian seasoned tomatoes last night, so I'm figuring I have to make a pot of chili.

This is my first experience using dry kidney beans and I'm surprised how quickly they wrinkle in hot water.

I'm using the quick soak method: rinse, add water (6-8 cups per pound), boil for two minutes, cover and remove from heat. Let sit one hour.

Reduce sodium intake and save money!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pet supply shopping at Target

I had several coupons for Target expire, and I needed a few cat items so we picked up some odds and ends after my 12-4:30 shift. Child needed Zyrtec.

I had a budget of $70, but spent $92. Had to transfer some funds from savings. I literally had to walk out of the store before I finished in the Market section.

Too many good deals. And how can you say no when you can eat them?

- Archer Farms imported from
Belgium, dark chocolate covered biscuits (sounds like Petit Écolier to me), two boxes on clearance for $1.18 each
- ground Italian sausage, about a pound, on sale for $1.55 (regular $3.09)
- fresh express Veggie Lovers salad, regular price, $2.99 on sale for $1.99
- Campbell's condensed Cream of Chicken soup, on clearance for 35 cents, regular $1.02 (for some reason my daughter begged for this)
- pretzel rolls, $2.49
- beef round steaks, 3, $3.35, $3.18, $3.52 (normally $5.49)
- three boxes of Boo Berry cereal, on clearance for $2.26 each, minus $1.50 coupon
- green giant vegetables, on sale 10/$10, five boxes
- two boxes of green giant vegetables at $1.37 each
- frozen strawberries, $2.26
- Very Vanilla Silk, $2.99
- one block of Market Pantry mozzarella, one block extra sharp cheddar, $2.19 each
- sauve shampoo, 97 cents
- cetirizine, the big bottle, $12.49
- Kleenex, two boxes, $1.39 each minus a 50 cent coupon
- 7 lb bag of Purina One urinary health cat food, $10.99 minus $2 coupon
- 40 pounds of Tidy Cat, $11.99 minus $2 coupon
- Morningstar breakfast patties, 3 boxes at $3.29 each
- two Market Pantry family dinners (one orange chicken and one chicken tamales), $5.49 each minus $1 coupon
- tampons, 2 40-count boxes, $6.99 each minus $1.50 coupon and a free box of 36-count pantiliners

Total: $109.77
Minus team member discount: $11.78
Red card discount: $4.90
Tax: $1.11
Final total: 94.20

Spaghetti and meatballs

I thawed out the last of our ground beef when I got home from work last night so my husband used the Betty Crocker cookbook to make meatballs.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Oddball Brunch

- leftover steak fries, reheated in the oven
- sweet potato fries with a side of real maple syrup
- Pacific foods, home style tomato soup
- morningstar breakfast patties
- grape juice with bubbles

Friday, November 4, 2011

Simple crôque monsieur

When we had that **REALLY** unhealthy shopping trip last Thursday, I picked up the basic makings for crôque monsieur, my favorite French sandwich which I hated when I visited Paris as a 20-year-old.

I lent my Barefoot in Paris cookbook to the owner of my favorite Mexican restaurant (MexTex Trio) so I had to wing it... Which considering I had heavy whipping cream instead of heavy cream.

I started with two tablespoons of butter in my Le Creuset tiny saucepan (I love Kev and Tracy for giving me their cast-offs).

I blended in one tablespoon flour with a silicone spatula. Then, over low heat, I added about a cup of cream. Pinch of nutmeg. Pile of shredded domestic Swiss, mild stuff.

Toasted eight slices of bread in the oven 3-4 minutes each side at 450, piled black forest ham on one side, topped with more cheese and about a tablespoon of the sauce. Topped each sandwich and poured sauce all over them.

Transferred to a smaller cookie sheet and drained cheese sauce back onto them from the big one.

Bake for about 10 minutes until bubbly and starting to brown.

* I tried tuna on some. It's boring. Ham is better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Update: Casseroles and First Post from Blogger iPhone App

As any of my even casual readers can attest to, my blogging quality and frequency has deteriorated in the last year since we canceled Internet at home.

Today I finally downloaded the Bloggee application for my iPhone, since web-based blogging has continuously and consistently failed.

Test. Testing. 1... 2... 3...

Awesome. I saved and published at this point and it seems to have worked.

Now, on to the food...

Since our TV dinner night, we've eaten horribly. Trick or treat at the grandparents brought pizza. A weekend of mommy and daddy working extra hours meant quick food. A smowstorm while Daddy was working OT meant hot cocoa and cookies. Halloween brought more pizza and candy. A visit to the hospital meant burgers and fries.

It had to end.

We all had gas and belly aches.

But it's still crazy around here. So I've been experimenting with steam-in-bag vegetable based casseroles. Half prepared, half wholesome.

Last night was Steam in Bag Broccoli Mac And Cheese.

- one bag steam-in-bag broccoli in four cheese sauce from Archer Farms
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- cooked elbow noodles
- pinch nutmeg
- about three ounces Swiss cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour

I melted the butter, stirred in the flour and added the cream making a smooth base for my cheese sauce (over low heat).

Added the cheese and nutmeg.

In another pan, the one I planned on baking in, my new Le Creuset cassoulet! ... Anyway, mixed noodles and prepared broccoli.

Added my mild cheese sauce.

Stirred and baked.

And today's hot lunch is Scalloped Potato Asparagus Bean Bake.

At my initial glance (see photo) it appears I have made cheesy, salty bean stew. Alas, Alack.

Ingredients:
- packaged mix for three cheese scalloped potatoes
- heavy cream
- boiling water
- Green Giant steam-in-bag asparagus
- black beans white beans

Prepare scalloped potatoes per package instructions, except substitute cream for milk.

Add prepared asparagus.

I added made from dry black beans and white beans for a protein source that wouldn't add more sodium.

Bake according to package instructions.

I had to have added way too much water...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lots of shopping

  This is the second or third time I started this blog entry. The interface has been eating my entries, whether I hit 'save' or 'publish.' Last time I got as far as about 700 words before losing everything so now I'm typing this in Pages on the iPad with the hope of copying it into Blogger when I take my husband back to his office at one.



The iPad failed as well, so I'm guessing it's a mobile application failure.

Last week (and I suppose today too) was the end of the month. I dread the end of the month. It's the budget make-or-break time. I knew I had spent my allotted budget ($300 on dining and groceries combined) going into the final week, so as long as I didn't spend any money on food we'd hit the goal.

I made it to Thursday. By Thursday, we had eaten close to everything in the house. My plan for dinner was to make a tuna rice casserole. I had broccoli in cheese sauce in the freezer, plenty of rice for the steamer and a big can of tuna. Except I had class until 2:30, had to pick up the child at 3:15, and retrieve the husband from his office at 4:30. So the rice never got steamed. And with 40 minutes to steam the rice and another 40 or so to bake, it looked like the casserole wasn't going to happen unless I wanted to have dinner at 7 pm. I would seriously have a hunger meltdown before then.

We went to Giant. Figured it would be cheaper than eating out. And potentially quicker. I was thinking Crôque Monsieur sandwiches, but then daughter asked for TV dinners. I was astounded.  TV dinners??? We get them about once a year, or maybe every other year. I said okay. I'm apparently crazy.

So, everything in this shopping trip probably qualifies as completely unhealthy, unnecessary and impulsive.

We bought:
- Cool Ranch Doritos, on sale for $3 (did not get opened until Sunday night, watching old episodes of True Blood)
- two packages of microwave popcorn, one butter and one kettle corn, $1 each
- Dole Romaine bagged salad, $2.50 (these were for the tortoise. I should have picked up a second bag because the greens looked so good...)
- Stauffers beef tips in bourbon sauce, $3.29 (this was my dinner. It was edible, but not enjoyable, and the sodium content had me drinking water for hours afterwords.)
- Edwards frozen key lime pie, $5.99 (yum!)
- Hungry Man popcorn chicken dinner, $2.79 (this was what my daughter picked and man did it look like a school lunch.)
- Hungry Man Salisbury steak dinner, $2.79
- black raspberry ice cream, $2.69 (still unopened)
- spinach white pizza, $4.29 (this was our appetizer and our green vegetable component)
- 8 ounce block of Swiss cheese, pepper jack, sharp cheddar and Vermont extra sharp cheddar cheese, 4 @ $1.67 each
- one dozen extra large eggs, $1.79
- sliced Italian bread from the bakery, $1.99 (still gunning for those Crôque Monsieur sandwiches, hence all the cheese too)
Total: $39.79

Saturday, in the middle of our freak snow storm that dumped 10 inches of snow and made the roads a slushy slippery mess, I went to Target for groceries, with my daughter who just got out of dance class and thought the aisles of the store were a great place to practice your jazz routine. I quickly convinced her otherwise.

This sounds more normal for us:

- market pantry diced tomatoes, seasoned, 3 cans at 57 cents each
- market pantry petite diced tomatoes, 2 cans at 53 cents each
- raspberry salsa and summer fruits salsa, one was $2.79 and the other was $2.99
- Barilla whole wheat rotini, three at $1.16 each
- market pantry petit peas, one can at 77 cents
- market pantry unsweetened applesauce in the individual containers, $1.67
- large bottle of canola oil, $3.39
- gold medal unbleached flour, $2.79
- market pantry whole wheat flour, $2.99
- frozen vegetable blends, steam in bags, $1.67, $1.66 and $2.29
- Silk pumpkin spice, 4 at a clearance price of $1.36 each
- horizon heavy whipping cream, $2.49
- horizon organic half and half, $2.99
- archer farms yogurt, 10 at 55 each, minus a 50 cent coupon
- ricotta $1.87 minus a 50 cent coupon
- 2 boxes of Kleenex, one extra soft and one with lotion, $1.59 and $1.57 minus a 75 cent coupon
- 40 pounds of cat litter, $15.59 minus $1.50 coupon
- 2 boxes of Morningstar breakfast patties, $3.49 each
- 3 varieties of Gardein vegetarian products, $3.99 minus $2 coupon
- now I have two mysterious Market Pantry items left, and all I can remember is sweet potato fries of which I bought two bags, they were either $1.97 or $3.09 and what the other item is... Who knows?

Total: $89.74
Minus team member discount: $9.42
Minus red card: $4.02
Tax: 82 cents
Final total: $77.12

But the story doesn't end there. In the tail end of the storm, I had to go to work and my daughter asked for hot chocolate. So my husband drove me in and they bought:

- Archer Farms Peanut butter cup hot chocolate, $3.99
- Archer Farms salted caramel hot chocolate, $3.99
- Silk soy milk, $2.99

Subtotal: $10.97
team member discount: $1.10
Red card discount: 49 cents
Total: $9.38

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Apologies

My apologies to any followers who noticed my recent silence. Between increased hours at work and the web interface acting up on my mobile device, my posts have been infrequent.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Salads for Brownie Scout patches

For Scouts, our daughter was to encourage a healthy habit it our family. We already do many of the items on the list: ride bikes together, walk to school, etc.

Our daughter wanted to make salads. I bought all sorts of fresh veggies at Aldi, but we ended up eating the veggies because we didn't get a chance to make the salads.

Last night she went to the store to buy stuff and try again.

But she got distracted and bought only lettuce. So tonight she made salads with lettuce, carrots, apples and raisins.

I didn't get fruit because I added pickled firecracker carrots and experimented with my dressing:

Spicy Ranch Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup ranch
- 3 tablespoons pickling liquid from the firecracker carrots
- 3 tablespoons Franks Red Hot sauce

That was yummy and zesty.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Coffee, canned soup, blood sugar and budgets

I did buy a few odds and ends at Target last week so we could make it to pay day, and I didn't record it here because life got hectic. On Wednesday last week, I had a 'blood sugar episode' that ended in an indulgent dinner out. That was the day my daughter went to the ENT and received the news that she is getting tubes in her ears Nov. 2.

My husband made scrambled eggs that morning, while I packed my daughter lunch. When the adults sat down to lunch, we had pop tarts and coffee and my husband made himself peanut butter crackers. I promised to eat something later.

I forgot.

So my blood sugar dropped to 90 and with no appropriate fuel in my body I started to shake-- from my hands to my knees. And I ate a bowl of soup, but my daughter took half. (chunky chicken-broccoli soup transformed into a corn chowder with a can of creamed corn, soy milk and curry.)

My husband took me out to dinner. We went to Delahanty's where daughter ate half my jalapeño poppers... She had a jr burger with cheese, bacon and fries. Husband had fettucine Alfredo with bacon and peas. I had a beef and sour sandwich. We all had dessert, and I added a Weyerbacher imperial pumpkin ale for the season and we spent, with tip $62.

Moral of the story: Eating is necessary. And I still don't understand how people can send kids to school with a breakfast of cereal, pop tarts or, as I witnessed last week, Twinkies...

Good news is: Even with this dinner, and my scattered shopping trips, our budget remains in tact. Thus far in October, we have spent: almost 20% of our income thus far this month on food. Gulp. $125 on dining out and $115 on groceries. Hmmm... That leaves $10 for the next two weeks. I'll aim for $50, which will keep the total food expense for the month under $300.

One of the terms of our current budget is NO FANCY COFFEE. But I cashiered last night and discovered many varieties of Archer Farms coffee on sale for $3.50 for the 12 oz bag which is normally $6.99. My favorite tea (Tazo rest) was on sale for $2.79. (I have one 32-ounce mug most mornings and use one tea bag.) And I grabbed a cheap 28-ounce jar of peanut butter.

I bought in total:

- Market Pantry peanut butter, $3.49
- Archer Farms coffee, 4 bags at $3.50 each
- 3 boxes Tazo Rest tea, $2.79 each

Subtotal: $25.86
Team Member Discount: - $2.59
Red Card discount: -$1.16
No tax
Total: $22.11

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Overnight French Toast

I made three loaves of cinnamon raisin bread today-- my best loaves to date-- but something always has to go wrong and in this case, I forgot to grease the loaf pans. One of the three loaves stuck and ended up slightly mangled on the bottom so I prepped overnight French toast. I have a really good recipe but I didn't feel like finding my recipe. I adapted this one from Epicurious.com:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Overnight-French-Toast-2083

I sliced the bread and greased a cake pan with butter.

In a bowl I mixed:
- 1/2 stick melted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- about 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- about 3 tablespoons local honey
- 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 1 cup vanilla almond milk

I dipped one side of the slices that would line the bottom of the pan in the mix and placed that side facing down in the pan. I poured most of the mix over top. I added one sliced banana and topped with the remaining bread and pored the remaining liquid over.

Cover and chill overnight.

Bake at 400 in the morning. It says 10 minutes.

In reality, it took 20 minutes on 400, then I cranked the oven to 450, cooked it five minutes, flipped it the best I could, and put it back in five minutes.

Mini burgers and canned goods

I made cinnamon raisin bread and multigrain bisquits today.

So for dinner my husband made little slider burgers while I made a side of fresh steamed broccoli.

We opened bread and butter pickles and firecracker carrots from our canning session with Gayle at the end of July.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blueberry Cream Cheese Lemon Poppy Muffins

I experimented with some muffins that started life as blueberry, morphed into blueberry cream cheese and twisted into some lemon poppyseed.

All together.

Dry ingredients:
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- about 1/4 cup poppyseeds
- 1/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice

Wet ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
- 1 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1/8 cup local honey
- 1/8 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups blueberries

I got 20 small muffins

Bake at 375, for 20 minutes

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gardein

I had a $4 off coupon for gardein meatless products. That worked out to buy one get one free.

Tonight we had the Gardein seven grain crispy tenders with various dipping sauces, Green Giant steam-in-bag asparagus cuts (with no sauce) and steamed white rice.

The asparagus was perfect. Really good on the rice. The Gardeins were yummy but the suggested serving size was not enough for me.

The seven grains of the breading were: wheat, rice, oat, millet, amaranth, quinoa and kamut.

Aldi ramble

My daughter's school has given her two hearing tests in the last two weeks and the little love failed them both. Today she had her regular appointment with her "ear doc" who is actually a physician's assistant at the allergy practice I go to, and he used to work for an ENT. Because she had pressure in her ears and two failed tests, our "doc" thinks it's time to head to the ENT. We go Wednesday.

Meanwhile, my daughter may be going as vegan as possible. It's always seemed to help in the past.

My husband has off work today so he's run me ragged with home repair and errands. We have $52 to make it until next Friday, and he's scheduled for a haircut in the a.m. He wanted to head to Aldi, so I gave us a budget of $25.

We spent $22.37.

I noticed Aldi has 14 pounds of cat litter for $3.99. That's cheaper than Target's 27 pounds for $8.89 but with my discount it's close.

We bought:
- 2 pounds green grapes, 2.98
- bananas, 43 cents a pound, $0.99
- wheat ritz-style crackers, $1.79
- regular ritz-style crackers, $1.69
- broccoli crowns, $1.49
- cornbread crackers, $1.49
- pumpkin pie pop tarts (yes, I've lost my mind) $2.69
- carrots, $1.39
- 2 bags flour tortillas, 99 cents each
- spring mix, $1.29
- Parmesan Romano cheese, $2.39
- 4 cans mandarin oranges, 55 cents each

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fried bologna

My father-in-law brought my husband bologna and provolone. As I was occupied ALL MORNING with my Econ homework, I must have lost my mind when I opted for this lunch.

Serves two.

- 2 tortilla shells
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 slices bologna
- 3 slices provolone
- condiments of choice

Melt butter in skillet.

Drop in one tortilla, arrange provolone on it, add bologna as another layer, then top with other tortilla.

Press down with hand or spatula/turner. Flip when cheese will hold it together.

Brown and serve.

Cut into triangles and offer condiments as dipping sauce

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sweet Rice

About a year and a half ago, my daughter wasn't feeling well and a friend suggested arroz con leche for her. That led to this:

http://angelfoodcooking.blogspot.com/2010/04/arroz-con-leche.html?m=1

I recall she didn't care for it, but today, while about to make myself cream of wheat, I saw the five pound bag of rice and thought... Hmmmm...

So in a saucepan, heat until a nice melted, smooth sauce:
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Very Vanilla soy milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
- 5 fresh strawberries, diced
- 3-4 tablespoons raisins

Add to steamer with one cup rice. Steam 40 minutes to an hour.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday breakfast

Child's breakfast is an unusual one:
- fresh strawberries
- Very Vanilla soy milk
- peanut butter on Graham crackers
(and the naughty part)
- half a donut from Dunkin Donuts

Chicken salad on pretzel rolls

I bought Gabby's Pretzel Dinner Rolls at Target. These are scrumptious little things.

I make many varieties of chicken salad, and the label 'chicken' salad will take you to them. I liked this one, despite the low volume of crunchy bits.

- one can, 12-ounce, canned white meat chicken, diced
- about 2 teaspoons mayonnaise (I often use vegan mayonnaise, but today I used regular)
- one teaspoon country herb seasoning
- 1/4 cup mandarin oranges (I use a sharp knife to cut the oranges into thirds)
- 1/4 cup chopped apple (leftover from the orchard)
- 1/4 cup blueberries (I let frozen blueberries thaw inside the mix)
- shredded carrots and red cabbage picked out of a Fresh Express Veggie Lover's Salad

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September '11 report

Another month ends. I'm pleased with the way my budget ended the month from a theoretical standpoint. My goal was to spend $250 on groceries and eating out. This essentially meant not eating out. At all. Ever.

I can be really good with a grocery budget, but my weakness is dining out. I'm not talking the occasional cheap fast food either. We have our favorite family-owned Mexican restaurant where we spend $75 for a multi-course meal that has enough leftovers to feed us for a second and sometimes third meal. We have local pubs we like, and cheesesteak shops and diners... Sigh. And Wegman's café where one of the boards that I serve on meets for lunch.

But I think I succeeded this month-- $160 on groceries and $140 on dining. Now I am fully aware that part of the reason this was possible was because I did an extra grocery trip in August to prepare for the hurricane.

September brings quarterly bills: life insurance, water, sewer, garbage. Early October brings car insurance. Luckily, this September brought a third monthly paycheck for my husband and I. So even with all these bills, Quicken reported that we made $1,000 more than we spent. Then, why is my checkbook empty? And I mean EMPTY. I had to transfer $150 from savings to have grocery money.

So, in search of a bargain, we headed to Target.

We spent $96.01, but many items classify as 'household' and 'gifts' vs 'groceries.' My estimate is that $48.01 was groceries.

We bought:
- Energizer batteries for our garage door openers (household), $5.99
- 2 bags cool ranch Doritoes (one for a party we attended), 2/$5.00
- Archer Farms jalapeño cheddar kettle chips, $2.79 (for the party)
- Fresh Express veggie lovers salad, $1.99 (regular price, $2.99)
- Campbell's chunky soup, chicken broccoli, 2 cans at $1.50 each
- spaghettiOs with meatballs, 2 cans at 99 cents each
- Market Pantry macaroni and cheese dinner, 4 boxes at 57 cents each
- Pacific Foods tomato herb soup, $2.69
- Archer Farms cheese and bacon dip, $2.99 (for the party)
- 5 pounds of rice, $2.99
- chock full of nuts New York roast coffee, $3.54
- 3 12-ounce cans of tuna, $2.19 each
- 1 pound strawberries, $2
- 2 large cans Libby's pumpkin, $2.94 each
- 2 1-lb packages 93% lean ground beef, $1.99 each
- green giant frozen asparagus cuts, 2 packages, on clearance for $2.08 each
- here my memory gets fuzzy: one of these was a mixed vegetable in sauce with green beans and potatoes and one was steam in bag broccoli with cheese sauce, one was $2.06 and one was $1.89
- Alexia sweet potato fries, $3.59 (grumble-- I could buy my own sweet potatoes and cut them myself for cheaper)
- half and half, the quarts, 3 at $1.54 each (that's half price I think)
- 18 eggs, $2.84
- Very Vanilla soy milk, $2.79
- extra sharp cheddar, 8 ounces, $2.49
- birthday cards, one 99 cents, the other $2.79
- snuggimal (birthday gift), $8.49
- 100 piece bags of Hershey candy, 2 at 9.99 (with $5 free gift card)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reluctant Eggplant

Tonight's dinner is eggplant parm, except I don't want eggplant parm.

Frozen eggplant cutlets, Market Pantry basil tomato sauce, mozzarella and shredded Italian six cheese blend.

I haven't made bread lately so they'll be mo garlic bread.

I need a side to make this exciting. I got nothing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pan-seared sesame tofu cutlets

I don't have a good record with tofu. I don't like working with it. But every few years I make the attempt. In June, I found tofu on sale, on clearance, at Target so I figured I'd give it another go.

I bought two blocks. The first ended up cubed for a curry stir fry.

This one had the usual tribulations. I started with a pound of tofu, I think.

I pressed, drained and sliced the tofu. Pressing typically involves sandwiching the tofu between two plates with a heavy pile of books on top. I use vegetarian cookbooks.

I screwed up the marinade, so this is an approximation.

- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- about 3 tablespoons Newman's Own Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup Iron Chef orange ginger sauce

I marinated for two hours.

For the coating, I mixed 50% corn flake crumbs and 50% sesame seeds. It stuck nicely because of the high oil content in the marinade.

I preheated my Le Creuset skillet with canola over medium heat. Half of them fried perfectly, some lost their breading but not nearly as many as I usually mangle. My husband said they were good. My daughter didn't like the high volume of seeds. And I forgot to eat some before I left for work.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Went to Giant last night

One week left in the month to meet my budget goals.

I really wanted cake last night and I wasn't up to baking one. So somehow, my husband talked me into heading to Giant. I had $30 in the checkbook (to last until Oct. 13 if I didn't remember to get somewhere with an internet connection and cancel a scheduled transfer to savings). I had the very strict goal of a total of $250 for dining out and grocery shopping.

Before I sneaked to Giant last night, I had spent $130 on groceries and $122 on dining out. But I have one more week to go.

I spent $22.98 last night, and I bought things I can't or won't buy at Target. I was shocked at how many things cost way more at Giant than they do at Target.

I bought:
  •  17 ounces tortilla chips, $2
  • Polaner all fruit black cherry jelly, $1.99 (Giant has way more varieties of jelly than Target and my child is on a PB&J kick)
  • Polaner all fruit blueberry jelly, $1.99
  • 2 large containers of Light and Lively Cottage Cheese, large curd. No one else carries large curd and I can't stand small curd. Not that cottage cheese is appealing in any form, but it's a quick protein. $3.49 each
  • 15 ounces dry kidney beans, $1.15 (figured I have black beans and white beans in my freezer, might as well add kidney beans)
  • 32 ounces vanilla yogurt, $2.39
  • blueberry creme coffee cake, $3.99

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Using up leftovers Mac-and-cheese

This is my way of using up the random smatters of cheese in the fridge.

Heat in saucepan:
- 1 can broccoli cheese soup
- 1 can soy milk
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2/3 cup shredded Italian six cheese blend
- 1/3 cup Archer Farm buffalo blue cheese dip

Prepare 13.25 ounces whole wheat rotini

Combine, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, uncovering the last 10 if you'd like some crispiness

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pork leftovers lunch

For breakfast, the daughter had fruit loops with unsweetened soy milk, apple juice, and a Morningstar breakfast patty.

She wants to pack lunch today, so I put the leftover veggies from Sunday's pork in the hot thermos bowl, made a sandwich out of the pork chop, and tossed in a punch 100% juice box and a rice krispie treat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turkey-white bean burgers with spinach


During the day today, I plan to prep these:

http://m.finecooking.com/recipes/seared-turkey-white-bean-burgers.aspx

I plan to adjust some ingredients and add spinach.

I have some serious preparations to make since my ground turkey is frozen and my beans are dry beans that I need to soak and cook. Once I get these beans ready, cooked and divided into freezer bags, not only will we have turkey burgers but we'll have black and white beans in the freezer.

Stuff in the freezer is my secret weapon.

I had some problems, so measures are approximate.

Mix into patties:
- about two cups beans, mashed (mine weren't tender enough to mash well, since I didn't use canned beans)
- two tablespoons olive oil
- two teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups cooked spinach, drained as best as possible
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup cornflake crumbs
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Newman's Own sesame ginger dressing
- juice of half a lemon
- 1.25 pounds ground turkey

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lunchy dinner

My daughter looked at me so earnestly last night and asked for blueberry jelly to go on her blueberry bagel for breakfast. Target carries plenty of strawberry, grape, raspberry and blackberry jelly, orange marmalade and a few other fancy schmancy preserves hovering at the $4 mark. They had a Smuckers orchard's finest blueberry preserves, 12 ounces for $4.29.

I bought it-- very good stuff.

For dinner tonight, we made tuna sandwiches since I didn't feel like cooking. My husband added cheese and crackers for some reason. We served with sides of veggie booty and my spiced peaches. Almond milk to drink and for dessert-- vanilla ice cream with the rest of the spiced peaches. I finally tasted them and they are really yummy.

Perfect for a peach sundae.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Iron Chef" Orange Glazed Pork


A month or two ago, I bought a jar if Iron Chef Orange Sauce with ginger on clearance for half price. I decided to cook some pork chops with minced garlic, grated crystallized ginger and this sauce, adding water chestnuts, steamed vegetables in a light butter sauce and a can of green beans since the vegetable content looked low.

Bagels and peaches

The interface still has some issues, so let's hope this works.

My budget goals for September are still on track! Since I found six dollars in my wallet this week, we counted some change and went for bagels. Yesterday we had ooey gooey egg sandwiches. Today we each had half a salt bagel, toasted, with cream cheese and the Market Pantry six Italian blend cheese from Target that I adore. And spiced peaches I canned August 1.

Now, this is my first 'opening' of stuff I canned without assistance, but if my family contracts botulism in the next few days, we know why.

On a serious note, the peaches smelled fabulous and my daughter ate almost the whole pint.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cooperation?

As some of my followers may know, I have no Internet access at home. I do most of my blogging from my iPhone and update photos when I can either from the public library or the college.

This week, my blog has kept me locked out. So I can't tell you with any certainty what I put in that awesome batch of crockpot chili or remember everything we've eaten. This entry is merely a test, and if it posts I will resume and perhaps even catch up with my recipes.

And my dental work is holding up fine. I am very sensitive to temperature right now, which is to be expected with new fillings. I can indeed chew in the left again, but I am very slow and gentle since I am still terrified.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Update on all things

If you look at this blog on even a quasi-regular basis, it looks like I feel off the planet this weekend.

It was the annual fundraiser, our annual bookfair, for the Mary Meuser Memorial Library, a public library where I currently serve as president of the board of trustees. That did not leave much time for cooking, especially since I worked both days as well as volunteered six hours each day and helped with set-up on Friday afternoon.

Yesterday was husband's birthday, so I splurged. I spent $12 on him at Target and got him Breyers Blasts Reese's Penaut Butter Cup ice cream, New England Coffee French Vanilla and for lunch today a personal pan pizza (I made the dough last night and our new Mary topped the pizzas today.

His mom brought us a pumpkin custard pie, so that was breakfast.

And today I went to the dentist and got my bottom left far rear molar repaired and tooth #3 on the top right so now it seems I can masticate again!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday update



Yesterday for dinner I let my 7-year-old daughter make one of my multigrain pizza crusts. I read the recipe out loud and she found ingredients, selected measuring spoons and did the measuring. We topped the pizzas with chicken (leftover from her earlier meal with the grandparents at TGIFridays), black olives, broccoli, pineapple and several kinds of cheese. It was the best pizza ever.

Today child had peach muffins and Very Vanilla soy milk for breakfast.

For lunch I packed her:
- leftover "mighty green soup"
- banana
- juice box
- cucumber slices
- dipping sauce for the cucumbers of 2/3 whipped cream cheese and 1/3 Goddess dressing
- ritz style crackers

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Archer Farms Peel-apart Fruit

It's no secret that I have an uncontrollable addiction to sugary candies. Gummy bears. Licorice. Gum drops. Fruit slices. JELLY BEANS.

I don't buy these things because I will eat them until I get a belly ache.

I was buying the Market Pantry golden raisin sours, which were high in sugar but not as bad as candy, and because they were infused with fruit juice they had a ridiculous amount of vitamin C. I haven't seen them in a month or so. Those and the Pétit Écolier cookies have disappeared from my Target universe.

Now as far as processed dried fruit items go, I like the Archer Farms fruit bars. They have a nice amount of fiber and vitamin C, are made with fruit instead of high fructose corn syrup. But just the bars, not the leathers.

They have a new product, pull-apart fruits that remind me of my favorite candy, Twizzler Pull and Peels. They are rather small, don't have nearly the vitamin content of the bars but they taste remarkably candy-like which makes them a healthy replacement for candy in my universe. The fruit bars have a grittier texture, so these are actually more pleasant on the tongue.

They are organic. They have no fat, 4% RDA potassium, 1 g fiber, 12g sugar, 2% iron, 10 % vitamin C.

'Midnight' run to Target

Imagine it.

Daughter, age 7, already tired and staying up too late... She's crying and husband and I want rum and Coke. Except we have no Coke. And Pepsi products are on sale at Target.

Off to Target I went.

There's several items on this receipt that tick me off, but that happens at Target. In large orders, something always rings up wrong unless you watch like a hawk.

I spent $65. That's my grocery budget AND almost everything in mycheckbook until Sept. 16.

$65 exactly.

What I bought:

- Rold Gold honey wheat pretzel twists, $2.50
- Cool Ranch Doritoes, $2.50 (to go with the rum)
- Fritos scoops, $2.50 (to go with our favorite dip)
- 2 boxes Archer Farms real fruit bars, $2.29 each (we already have lots of these, but it's school season and they're normally $2.99/box)
- apple juice, $2.24 (we didn't need this, but there was a coupon-- buy the juice and get $1 off pasta and sauce. Pasta and sauce is on sale this week so I thought "awesome." But the coupon was expired but I didn't see that)
- fresh express veggie lovers salad, $1.99 (normally $2.99)
- Smuckers grape jam, no high fructose corn syrup $1.67 for 10 oz, minus $1 Target coupon
- Archer Farms summer fruits salsa, $2.99
- Archer Farms raspberry salsa, $2.99
- Archer Farms Buffalo Blue Cheese Dip, 2 jars, $2.99 each
- farfalle, $1
- tomato basil and garlic pasta sauce $1
- cucumber, 84 cents
- creamed corn, 2 cans, 77 cents each
- big tub of raisins, $3.29
- bananas, 6 at 17 cents each
- 4 12-pks Pepsi products, 3 for $11 plus free diet if you buy three (except I'm not seeing a free one, I bet I have a coupon in the car)
- silk almond, one chocolate and one vanilla, $2.99 each minus $1 Target coupon
- Silk Very Vanilla, $2.79
- Market Pantry six blend Italian cheese, shredded, 2 at $2.29 each (I love this blend)
- land o lakes butter, 2 pounds at $3.69 each
- whipped cream cheese, $1.64
- item I don't remember, 99 cents

Discount for reusable bags: 20 cents
Team member discount: 7.68
RedCard discount: 3.38
Tax: +74 cents

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mix Up Fritters


I thought for dinner tonight I'd make a hashbrown scramble and Morningstar vegetarian breakfast patties. But then I thought maybe potato pancakes. With applesauce. So, I called up this old entry:

http://angelfoodcooking.blogspot.com/2010/09/apple-potato-pancakes.html?m=1

I mixed up the following in my big Pyrex missing cup:
- almost 3 cups frozen grated potatoes, "hashbrowns," thawed in microwave
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup corn flake crumbs
- 1 cup? 1 1/2 cups? frozen corn

Fry patties in cast iron skillet in canola oil, on medium about three minutes on each side. Then bake at 475 until crispy.

These were my BEST potato pancakes ever! They were crispy and flavorful. With a touch of real maple syrup to lubricate them, they were heavenly!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mighty Green Pork Soup

It's raining and I wanted to make this:
http://angelfoodcooking.blogspot.com/2011/01/pork-soup-part-one.html?m=1
But as usual I don't have the ingredients. So I made a similar soup.

INGREDIENTS (in crock pot)
- about two cups chopped and browned pork

(I browned mine in my Le Creuset cast iron skillet with two parts canola oil to one part walnut oil, adding fresh ground pepper and minced garlic while it fried)
- 32 ounces Kitchen Basics unsalted vegetable stock
- 16 ounces Pacific foods Organic butternut squash soup
- 36 ounces water
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 1/2 cups frozen greenbeans
- 1 can Great Northern Beans
- 1 crown fresh broccoli
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn

Day 4 of school


I'm not one of those moms who likes school. I like having my daughter home. Getting a child ready for school
is the most exhausting activity in my life. I walk two miles by 9:30 a.m. and only half of that comes from the literal walk to school. The other half comes from the circles I walk and the stairs I climb getting child ready for school.

I'm wearing a pedometer today.

I fed my child a breakfast of Chobani black cherry yogurt, homemade granola, animal crackers and Very Vanilla Silk soy milk.

While she ate that, I could have joined her with my own yogurt. But no. It's chicken nuggets- ham and cheese- or - PB&J day in the school cafeteria and child requested a Mom-packed lunch. What'd I pack?

- 100 % juice "punch"
- leftover sizzling chicken and cheese from the TGIFridays dinner we had with my dad last night. That involved the hot lunch bowl.
- homemade fruit salad with tangerines, banana and raspberries (see recipe below)
- cloth napkin
- kid fork

Now, normally my fruit gets a Vouvray sauce like this:
http://angelfoodcooking.blogspot.com/2010/08/honeyed-fruit.html?m=1

But since child isn't a huge fan of white wine I adapted the sauce to this:
- 2 tablespoons Vouvray (sweet desserty white wine)
- 2 tablespoons local honey
- 2 tablespoons cran-pomegranate juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoons juice of fresh raspberry juice from the bottom of the raspberry bowl (more if you have it)