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:

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


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:

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:
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:

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)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rainy day Cheerios

This blog entry may become distracted and discombobulated. I apologize first off for that, but it's a rainy holiday and I worked the last four days in a row and we'll also blame my iron counts.

Run on sentence. Oh well.

 I also apologize for the lack of photos. I have some on the laptop so as soon as i can get to an Internet connection I'll add them. Many entries lately will still lack photos as I've been so anxious to eat that I haven't stopped to photograph. Forgive me.

 First, breakfast. Husband slept until 9:30, so we opted for cereal for breakfast since lunch is a mere two hours away. I had generic cheerios with Very Vanilla Silk soy milk. The combo jazzed up the Cheerios just enough. Daughter had generic fruit loops and the vanilla soy milk (way too sweet for me) and husband had a mix of fruit loops and Cheerios and also mixed vanilla and regular soy milk.

 Next rant, Totally Target: This blogger is so serious about Target that she invested in a domain name. That's dedication. She uses the weekly ad, clearance items, price cuts and coupons to "get more red for your green." I don't use many coupons, in part because many are online now and it's unusual for me to have access to the Internet and a printer at the same time. She does a fabulous job scouring Target. She knows the store better than I do, and I work there.

But every time I see these obsessive couponing folks, especially the ones you hear about on reality TV shows, I question the value. Items like Velveeta Shells and Cheese, Glade plug-ins, and Trident gum. 90% of the products I see I do not and would not use. Now in the Target case, I did see Market Pantry sauce and dry pasta, which I would consider, and Seventh Generation products. I rarely buy cleaning chemicals, preferring vinegar, baking soda, 90% alcohol and hot water.

So, why would I feed my child overprocessed food like Velveeta shells just because it's cheap? I love her more than that. Besides, if I'm going to use insta-Mac and cheese the Aldi stuff is even cheaper than all those coupons. And I do use processed foods from time to time, I just add lots of vegetables. Many products I see don't make sense to me: cheese made of oil, dinners with ingredients I can't read, fresh fruit sliced so you don't have to cut it, Oscar Meyers lunchables (all those chemicals for mere meat, cheese and crackers), premade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Maybe we're busy, maybe we're lazy but I believe food is pivotal to life, central to our family relationships and that the dinner table is sacred. But that's just me.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Battle with the Dishwasher

For the last year, I have battled the filth in my dishwasher. Running vinegar through the wash cycle. Scrubbed by hand. Tried lemon juice. Every natural method I could come up with. Nothing worked.

I started looking for a product to clean the dishwasher, and could not find anything. I didn't look that hard. Or shall I say I didn't look that well. I was in Target the other day comparing rinse aids for the dishwasher when I saw it.

Dishwasher Magic.


I figured it was worth a shot.

Finally did it today. I can't believe how it worked. My dishwasher looks brand new. Even my daughter commented.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sherbet shake


- rainbow sherbet
- vanilla bean ice cream
- very vanilla soy milk


Impulse buys at Target

All during work tonight, I kept thinking of how nice it would be to enjoy the bottle of Vouvray in the fridge with some fruit, or to make honeyed fruit with the wine. I kept thinking bananas, but what I really wanted was raspberries, though raspberries now hurt my teeth. And then I started thinking about yogurt and salad.

Now it's not often I crave healthy food so I thought it might be worth a dash through the store. Then I remembered I had $10 in gift cards. That did me in.

So I headed to the grocery section.

I bought:
- fresh express veggie lover's salad, regularly $2.99 marked down to $1.99
- 6 ounces of raspberries, $2.09
- 6 bananas at 17 cents each
- Market Pantry frozen peas, $1.02
- Market Pantry frozen yellow and white corn blend, $1.02
- Market Pantry frozen snap peas, 2 bags at $1.37 each. (these are the best!)
- very vanilla silk $2.79
- Chobani Greek style yogurt, 2 lemon, one black cherry, $1.29 each
- market Pantry rainbow sherbet, $2.99

Total: $19.53
Minus $10 gift cards
Minus $1.96 team member discount
Minus red card savings 38 cents
New total: $7.19

Manly Aldi trip

My husband was lamenting that he couldn't go to Target tonight because the child would be home in bed. Apparently we're low on half and half.

I pointed out he could go to the store now. He liked that idea. I suggested he head to Aldi and gave him a budget of $10-15 dollars. Our first food shopping of September!

He spent $11.42.

He bought half and half, 2.5 pounds of hamburger meat, 2 broccoli crowns and a bag of potato chips.

He's making me broccoli-hamburger pasta.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kitty bargains

We have a 12-year-old cat and an almost six-month-old kitten. This means lots of litter and dry food. I try very hard not to feed the cats any food with corn as a main ingredient and that's tough on the budget.

At Target tonight I started with litter. I used to get my litter at Sam's Club but their prices have been going up AND the size of the package shrinking, so by the time you consider membership fees, impulse buys and my employee discount at Target, it didn't seem like a bargain at Sam's.

Boots and Barkley cat litter at Target was $9.39 for 27 pounds and Tidy Cat multi-cat litter was $11.99 for 35 pounds. I got out my calculator and did some figuring. The Target brand, Boots and Barkley, worked out to be 34.77 cents per pound, while the name brand came in at 34.25 cents per pound.

At this point, my colleagues noticed me and wondered what I was doing so I explained. They seemed in awe that I would do such a thing. They weren't even sure how to do the math to find out which was cheaper. I explained.

Then to cat food! Iams was on sale, multiple varieties, $10.99 for the 6.8 pound bag. Normally it's $12.79. PLUS with two bags you got a $5 gift card free. I bought three bags of kitten chow and one bag regular.

My bill after discounts was $51.64 plus I now have $10 in Target gift cards.

Blueberry Pancake Sundae

A few weeks ago, my daughter and a friend had breakfast at her Grammy's and we got to bring home the leftovers: sausage, blueberry pancakes and wild blueberry sauce. I froze it all and took it out of the freezer yesterday so my husband and daughter could have it for dinner tonight.

Last night I got homemade pesto sauce with sunflower seeds out of the freezer and told my husband to make noodles, use the pesto, and top with diced tomato (the ONE of the three tomatoes my garden produced this year). That was really yummy.

When I got home from work tonight, I took one blueberry pancake, heated it, topped with vanilla bean ice cream (also a gift from the inlaws) and topped THAT with hot blueberry sauce.


Ocean Spray Sparkling Juice

When I was in therapy (don't ask, it's a long story), my therapist pointed out that I tended to be cheap without allowing any splurges for myself. That I would treat my family but not myself. While Hurricane Irene shopping last week, I bought Ocean Spray Sparkling Pomegranate Blueberry juice.

Now in my house we mix 100% juice with seltzer and make a diluted juice beverage we call "juice with bubbles" and that Ocean Spray now markets as this product.

But it was a hurricane and the thought of losing power and still having something more refreshing than a juice box, more exciting than water and almost reminiscent of wine or beer... I decided to try it.

The four pack of 8.4 ounce cans cost $2.29 ON SALE at Target. Even with an employee discount and RedCard discount (23 cents for one, 11 for the other) that's $1.95. Rounding up that's 50 cents a can.

But it is yummy. I can mix it much cheaper at home.