Thursday, October 27, 2011


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

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


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:

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)