Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Goals

I fail at resolutions. . .it is just the way it is. Even calling them goals doesn't really help, but I'll try it. In order to help myself hopefully succeed, I've narrowed it down to one or two goals in each classification of goals.

Spiritual: Using the book, The One Year Chronological Bible, read the Bible this year. I've read the Bible before, but I really feel that my relationship with God is lagging the last couple of years. I'm really struggling and hope this will help.

Health: I had trouble narrowing it down to one goal in this section. 1) Do yoga/meditation at least twice a week. 2) Complete another duathlon or triathlon. 3) Take my vitamins every day.

Financial: 1) Save at least $200 from each of James' main checks and save at least 3/4 of his second job total amount earned.

Household: 1) Continue vacuuming every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (with 5 dogs in the house this is a must). 2) Help James with the dishes more in order to remove temptation from Marshmallow's counter surfing habit.

Okay, now it's out there. Hopefully I can succeed this year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our 2010 Challenge

In addition to our monthly challenges we have decided to attempt a two-fold year long challenge. I've been reading Erin's blog about living on a $800 food budget for the entire year and have pondered if we could do it. We only have easy access to Walmart, HEB, and Walgreen's so there are no big deal stores like Kroger, Publix, etc. We also don't eat a lot of processed foods which is where a lot of the good deals and coupons apply. The other big snag, James was not going for $800 a year for all food related items. We eat out a lot even though neither one of us really wants to go out.

So here is the two part challenge:

1. We are going to have $1200 for the entire year for our food budget. Obviously, this is essentially $100 a month. This includes eating out and snacks. Here are the caveats: A) If we eat out with our friends, without our spouse, money has to come out of our individual allowances. B) Food costs during vacations come out of the vacation budget. C.) Because we often take a friend out to eat with us and pay for her food, that meal will come out of our entertainment budget. Essentially, all household food and meals we eat out together have to be covered by the $1200. Personal hygiene products, household cleaning supplies, and dog food comes out of different budgets. The $1200 is only for all food related costs.

Any gift cards, reward cards, or rebate checks can be towards food and not apply towards the $1200. For example, I use several websites where I complete surveys for points or rewards. . .these points can be cashed in for gift cards and I can use these during the course of the year to save money from the $1200 total.

2. No fast food restaurants. Here are the caveats: A) If we eat out with friends and they choose fast food, we can eat there. B.) On vacations, we can eat fast food if we have limited options. C.)If we receive gift cards or certificates for fast food restaurants we can use them.

I'll keep you updated on how much we spend and save. It should be an interesting year.

Our January month long challenge is going to be only water, milk, or tea as beverage choices.

Stay tuned for the updates!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Meal Plan

As I suspected, we did not do well following the meal plan last week. This week should be better.

Monday - Double Decker tacos

Tuesday - Tilapia and home fries

Wednesday - Chicken fajitas

Thursday - I have to work so LO and snacks to bring in the new year

Friday - sandwiches

Saturday - Roast and potatoes

Sunday - Chopped beef sandwiches

Stay tuned for a new year long and month long challenge introduced soon!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

After Christmas shopping.

James and I did a quick trip to Walmart this morning for some sale shopping. I actually got more than this, but some of it will be used as surprises.


Total before sales and Q: 35.53
Total sales: 15.28
Total Q: 7
Total OOP (w/o tax): 13.25

I will also submit the SC Johnson Rebate (my last time out of the three) for $5.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Non Menu Plan Monday

We are just not sure of our plans for this week. We are being very indecisive on what to do and where to go or if we are going anywhere. I know today is spaghetti and meatballs, but that's all I have right now. Hope everyone else has better luck.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What's going on?

I'm hoping to blog more often soon. I've been sick so I haven't felt like writing. We have also been busy so I haven't tried any new recipes.

Our last boot camp for this session ended last night. When we started the first session I could not even do one "man" pushup. Now I can do a lot. If we do sets of 10 - 20, I can do about 5 sets of "man" push ups before having to switch to "girl" push ups! I've always wanted to be able to do "real" pushups!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I am not feeling the holiday spirit. I am not feeling meal planning, but I have done it anyway.

Monday - (Boot camp night) LO steak

Tuesday - Tuna and fries

Wednesday - Homemade pizza

Thursday - (Boot camp night) - hot dogs and chips

Friday - Chicken fried steak and baked potatoes

Saturday - Our 11 year anniversary so dinner out!

Sunday - Crockpot chicken and roasted turnips and potatoes

I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes a couple of weeks ago, and it is really difficult for 2 people to eat all those potatoes. I'm trying to use them up this week.

A little shopping yesterday

We were out running errands yesterday and stopped in to pick up baby wipes since Marshmallow has been messy lately. I decided to take advantage of the Olay rebate while I was at the store.


2 Olay Quench with free body wash - $5.99 each - 2 $3 MQ = $5.98
1 target baby wipes = $1.88
Total OOP w/ tax = $8.45
I will send in for the rebate and get $11.98 back!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A little crafty

I started to get ready to address Christmas cards when I noticed that I was short the number I needed. So I whipped up a few cards. I am really into blue Christmas cards for some reason. I also appreciate the simplistic look of cards instead of a "busy" look.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where do I sit?

I'm feeling better today so I wrapped some presents. When I finished, I grabbed a book and went into the living room to read only to discover there was no place for me to sit except the floor! My spoiled beasts had taken all the chairs and the couch.

This is Darla belly up in one of the chairs. She heard me come in and moved her head.


Darla and Daisy are lounging in the recliners.

Fancy and Mary taking up the entire couch.

Marshmallow on a floor pillow, but he was cold so Mommy covered him with a blankie.


I know I'm totally biased, but my spoiled beasts are just adorable!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blah

I am still not feeling well, so blog posts may be few and far between until I feel better.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We did okay until the weekend when I got sick and didn't feel like cooking. We'll see how I do this week.

Monday - Hamburger steaks, potatoes, and turnips

Tuesday - Chicken Ole (New Recipe)

Wednesday - Tilapia and potatoes (I'm trying to use up a bag of potatoes)

Thursday - Gnocchi (homemade and frozen) and flatbread

Friday - James has to fend for himself because I have to work a catering

Saturday - Tuna steaks

Sunday - Grilled chicken sandwiches

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Overnight pancakes - no white sugar (No Picture)

I like to experiment with different types of sweetener as a substitute for white sugar. I've used brown rice syrup to make vegan cookies and different types of muffins. To me it has a little bit of a molasses taste, but not as strong. When using brown rice syrup I always use more than the amount of sugar indicated by a recipe and decrease the amount of liquid to compensate.

Kat's Overnight Pancakes:
2 1/4 c flour
1/4 c brown rice syrup
2 1/2 t yeast (equivalent of one pkg)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t fresh ground nutmeg
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs
1/3 c cooking oil

1. In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add the milk, eggs, cooking oil, and brown rice syrup and combine thoroughly. Cover loosely and refrigerate overnight.
2. In the morning, warm your griddle and pour 1/4 c of batter onto a greased griddle. Cook until little bubbles form and then flip and cook another minute or two.

James liked these pancakes. The spices and brown rice syrup give the batter a little different flavor, but it was nice and not overly sweet.

Taco Corn Bread Squares

Sorry about the picture I just can't seem to get the hang of this lighting thing.

I got this recipe from the 2000 Quick Cooking cookbook. The original recipe had sour cream and onions in it but we don't eat sour cream so I omitted it. Also the recipe called for a corn bread mix, but I make my corn bread from scratch.

Taco Corn Bread Squares:

Make a batch of corn bread batter of your choice or use 1 pkg of corn bread mix (8-1/2 oz), 1 egg and 1/3 c milk mixed together
2-1/2 c taco seasoned meat (mine had onions, jalapenos, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder)
1 can refried beans
1-1/2 c cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
1. Pour corn bread batter into a 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.
2. Combine taco meat and beans and gently spread over the top of the corn bread. I just used a tablespoon and spread drops of the mixture around. Top with cheese and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
** The original recipe mixes 1 c sour cream, the 1-1/2 c cheese, and 1/4 c chopped onion and then spread it over the taco meat. Then top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and what ever else you would like.**
These were awesome and had a good "taco" flavor. I think I would like them more as an appetizer or as a side to something than a main entree, but live and learn.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Recap

We did really well in November.

Grocery budget: $13.01 left over

Rebates: received Kellogg's $10, Palmolive $2.50, and SC Johnson $5; sent SC Johnson $5, Kohl's $10

Freebies: Aquafresh sample/Q, Homemade simple Q book, Pantene Q, Kohl's card, and Delmonte fruit Q

Magazines read: 24

Books read: 12

Number of minutes spent exercising: 1055 which is about 17 and half hours. Not as good as I would have liked, but not bad - still recovering from injury.

I also did really well on our monthly challenge. We challenged ourselves to not eat any sweets for the first three weeks of the month. James failed miserably but he did eat a lot less that he normally would have. I was successful!!! It was hard at first but it got easier. I actually ended up drawing it out for most of the month and didn't have a sweet until Sunday! That was my only sweet for the month! We are foregoing a challenge for December, but we have a good one coming up for the first of the year!

Blueberry syrup

In my on going quest to make sure James has a hot breakfast I tried something new today. I made this syrup (just threw it together) and put it on top of homemade waffles we had on the freezer.

Blueberry Syrup:
1/2 - 3/4 c blueberries
1/2 c sugar
1/4 - 1/2 c water (your preference)
1 T light corn syrup

Put all ingredients in a pot, and cook over med-high heat until the blueberries break down and the syrup thickens.

Steak and Baked Potato Soup

I love baked potato soup and have made it before using my own recipe. I had some LO steak so I decided to toss it in the soup. I have made this on the stove and eaten it right away or made it and kept it warm in the crockpot all day. Either way this soups tastes really good!


Steak and Baked Potato Soup
3 med sized potatoes, baked, cooled, skinned and diced
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 jalapeno, diced
1/4 c flour
2 c chicken broth
1 c half and half
milk (used to thin out soup if gets too thick)
1 t dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
cheese for topping

1. In a pot, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain. Keep about 3 T of bacon grease and discard the rest.

2. Cook onions, carrots, celery, and jalapenos in bacon grease until soft. Stir in flour and basil and cook for about a minute.

3. Add in warmed broth slowly, stirring constantly to ensure there are no lumps. Allow this to continue to cook over med-high heat to just start thickening. Add half and half and potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking this until it is the desired thickness. I like mine really thick and creamy.

4. Spoon into bowls, top with cheddar cheese and bacon pieces. Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Berry Cobbler

I've had a couple of bags of blackberries and dewberries in the freezer for awhile and finally decided to make something with them today. I don't eat fruit so I had to wait for James to get home to taste it. His response was "Mmmm". I guess that means the cobbler is good. I modified this recipe from the new Costco cookbook.

Berry Cobbler:
1 stick butter (1/2 c)
2 c blackberries
2 c dewberries
1 c sugar and extra for berries
1/4 c Splenda
1/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c flour
2 t black powder
1 c milk

1. Put the stick of butter in a 9 inch deep pan (mine was a little too shallow) and put it in the unheated oven. Turn the oven to 350° and let the butter melt in the pan.

2. Mix the berries in a bowl with sugar. I had to use about 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 c Splenda because my berries were tart (I remembered James told me that awhile ago), but you might be able to use less.

3. When the butter is almost melted, mix the flours, baking powder and 1 c sugar in a bowl. Add 1 cup of milk and stir well.

4. Remove the butter pan from the oven and pour the batter on top of the butter. Add the berries and any juice that formed to the batter. I sprinkled them around to disperse them evenly.

5. Put pan on a baking sheet and put back in the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is nicely browned.

If you try this please let me know how it turns out for you!

Menu Plan Monday

We did okay last week, even without a menu plan. Last night through us for a little loop (Fancy's ER trip) so we ended up eating out. Another boot camp starts this week so there are a couple of quick meals planned.

Monday - Baked potato soup

Tuesday - Tamales and rice
Wednesday - Taco Corn Bread Squares (new recipe)

Thursday - Tilapia tacos

Friday - Taco soup using LO items from Wednesday

Saturday - Chicken Ole (new recipe)

Sunday - Grilled hamburgers and home fries

I need to use up a couple of lemons given to us so I might make a lemon dessert.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What does $505 look like?

Mary and Fancy got in a tiff when Fancy tried to eat some of Mary's food. Fancy lost and this is what happened. Yep, that's a big gaping hole on her snout.


$505, 5 hours, and about 11 stitches later this is what my precious Fancy looks like. She is definitely working the pitiful look.


And she finally laid down. Now we are just waiting for the pain pills to kick in to knock her out so she'll get some rest instead of fighting the E-collar.




Sorry

I have been out of it the last couple days. I've only cooked one new thing this week and I forgot to take pictures. I'm hoping to start up again tonight with my version of baked potato soup.

We did get a couple of good deals shopping on Friday, but since they are gifts I can't really post about them!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What the drought did. . .

Here's the view from my front porch on Friday morning.


Here's the view from my porch about 20 minutes ago.


Here's what's left of the trees.


The stupid drought killed off my beautiful trees in the front yard. I am not happy about the changed view and losing my beautiful loblolly pines, but on the upside, we didn't have to pay for the trees coming down. The electric company ended up taking the trees down as they were a danger to the lines around our house.

Menu Plan Monday

James should be returning today from a hopefully successful tuna fishing trip. I imagine we'll be eating tuna for a couple of days to try to "eat" away at the amount that has to go in the freezer. Since I'm not 100% sure what our plans are for the week I can't really plan anything yet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Marshmallow is weird

We moved the floor pillows to vacuum and Marsh decided to lay in the spot. When I was putting the pillows back I just put them right on top of him. For a little while he just laid there!

Italian Chicken

My boss makes a chicken like this and I'm not sure what it's called. I called it Italian chicken since it has red, white, and green colors in it like the Italian flag. My other boss gave me a big bag of basil so I made pesto but you could use store bought if that is what you had on hand.

Italian Chicken:
2 chicken breasts
Pesto sauce
Mozzarella cheese (sliced or grated which is what I had on hand)
1 Roma tomato, sliced
Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Butterfly chicken breasts and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the chicken breasts until they are just a touch away from being completely cooked.

2. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet and top with pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, and slices of tomato. Sprinkle a little parmesan on top and bake in a preheated 400° oven until the cheese is melted and the chicken is finished. I cooked the chicken for about 10 minutes.

James really liked this meal. He loves it when I make pesto and so I knew he would enjoy the chicken. I made him some fresh green beans sauteed in olive oil and garlic as well as some zucchini cooked the same way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Apple-Pecan Syrup

I am trying to use up things in the freezer in anticipation of James catching a ton of tuna on an upcoming trip. I had some Kashi Honey Oat frozen waffles so I decided to use them for breakfast. I saw a recipe on a blog I follow for Crustless Apple pie and it stuck in my head. I decided to make a syrup out of the recipe (even though I didn't use any measurements) for James' waffles. Using an orange plate this morning was probably not the best photographic decision so sorry about the picture quality.


Apple-Pecan syrup (these amounts are guesstimated - and keep in mind this was for one person)

1 apple, peeled, chopped, and diced
1/8 c chopped pecans
1/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t lemon juice
1 T butter

1. Toss the apple with the lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans.
2. Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet and then add the apple mixture. Cook over low until the apples are tender and a little bit of syrup forms. Pour over waffles or pancakes and enjoy.

James really liked the apple concoction and I think I was encouraged to make it again or use it in a pie!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mediterranean Pizza

I've made this recipe several times, but never posted it. James says this is one of his favorite pizzas. I don't have amounts because I just top the pizza to our personal preferences. I've made this with homemade pizza dough and pita bread and both are yummy.


Mediterranean Pizza:
1. Pour a little olive oil over the crust of your choice (dough or pita), sprinkle a little garlic powder on the crust and top with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
2. Put the following items on the pizza in an amount of your preference: finely chopped tomatoes, finely chopped onions, kalamata olives, chicken (we didn't have any cooked last night so I omitted this), and feta cheese.
3. Bake in a preheated 400° oven until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

James and the birthday girl


Daisy, the birthday girl, thinks this recliner is HER chair. James had the audacity to sit in it so she just climbed in on top of him. Spoiled beast!

Overnight Pumpkin Waffles

In my ongoing attempt to make James a hot breakfast a couple days a week, I've been searching for different recipes. I ran across several recipes for overnight pancakes/waffles and decided to try one of them. I ultimately used a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook with a ton of additions and substitutions.


Kat's Overnight Pumpkin waffles:
2 1/4 c flour
2 T sugar
2 1/2 t yeast (equivalent of one pkg)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground ginger
1/8 t fresh ground nutmeg
1 3/4 c milk
2 eggs
1/2 c pumpkin puree ( I used some from the pumpkins I processed.)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1. In a large bowl, stir together the first 7 ingredients. Add the milk, eggs, and pumpkin and combine thoroughly. Cover loosely and refrigerate overnight.
2. In the morning, add the vanilla to the batter and stir. Bake these off using the directions for the type of waffle maker you have. I used a Belgian waffle maker and made 5 waffles.
These waffles had a very good flavor. Because of the lack of oil in the recipe they are a little spongy instead of crispy, but the flavor makes up for the texture.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We have activities planned for the last half of the week so I need to only plan for three days.

Monday - Chicken fajitas

Tuesday - Mediterranean pizza on pita bread (use leftover chicken)

Wednesday - Spaghetti and flat bread.

Teriyaki Burgers and Panko Potatoes

I've been trying to come up with new to us recipes for meals lately. I threw the recipe for teriyaki burgers together off the top of my head.

Teriyaki burgers:
1.5 pounds of ground beef
1/4 cup very finely chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic very finely chopped
1/4 c teriyaki sauce
1/4 t wasabi powder

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Form into patties and grill to your preference.

2. Pour another 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce into a saucepan and reduce to a thicker sauce. Top a hamburger bun with your choice of toppings and the sauce. Pictured below is James' plate. . . mine did not have vegetables on it.

Panko Potatoes:
3 small potatoes
1/2 c panko bread crumbs (you may need more)
1/2 t paprika
1-2 T melted butter
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Wash potatoes and pat dry.
2. Cut potatoes in quarters. I did not do wedge shapes, instead I cut the potatoes so I had flat disks (except the rounded edge pieces.)
3. Brush one side of each potato with butter and then dip that side into the panko bread crumbs flavored with the paprika, salt and pepper. Butter the other side of the potato, turn it over and coat with panko.
4. Put the potato slices into a greased pan and cover with foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes covered and then bake for another 10-15 minutes until a knife easily pushes into the potatoes.
James really liked the meal. The burgers were very well flavored but my favorite were the potatoes. The panko crumbs made the potatoes so crispy and yummy!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today's trip

I've been feeling not motivated and bored lately. I hate feeling bored so James and I decided to do something different today. We went on a tiny road trip and visited the Austin Zoo. We had an awesome time at this delightful little zoo. The brochure stated that 90% of the animals were rescues of some sort, either from other zoos, circuses, the wild, captured by TX parks and wildlife officials, or as former pets. Many of the plaques told the stories of the animals in the pens.


I have no idea why I can never seem to take a serious picture. The zoo has a little train that families can ride and children had to be a certain height. We did not take the train.



There were tons of peacocks roaming the zoo. They were all brightly colored (well the males were) and not people shy at all.


Our favorite part of the zoo were the tigers. Neither one of us had ever seen "active" tigers, or for that matter any animals other than monkeys and birds, in a zoo. Today the three tigers were actually playing together! It was so much fun to watch. They took turns stalking each other and jumping into and out of the pool. Gorgeous animals.


When I walked up to this bird, it was like it wanted to get it's picture taken.


After the zoo we did a little Christmas shopping and then James suggested eating lunch at a restaurant we had put on our "list" of places to try. (Yes we actually have a list. . .I'm type A remember.) We ate at Tarka Indian Kitchen. James had the Lamb Mirch Masala at a medium spice level (you get to choose your spice level). He really enjoyed the blend of flavors. For $8.25 he recieved a generous portion of the masala curry and a huge serving of basmati rice. I tried the Chicken Curry Tarka "Naaninis" for $7 which came with a side of marsala fries. Basically it was curry in a naan bread. Mine was good, but not what I was thinking it would be. I was expecting a tomato based marsala curry and instead got a cilantro based curry. Plus although it was not stated on any of the menus, there were vegetables in the wrap (cabbage, tomoatoes and onions). After I picked off the vegetables it was pretty good. The fries were awesome!!! Next time we go, I think I am going to try the Chicken pakoras or the tarka aloo.
** As a disclaimer, I was not paid to endorse either of these places. I am just stating my opinion of our visit to each facility. **

What does $13 look like?


I bet you thought you were going to see a picture of a huge pile of groceries and a little paragraph with me bragging about how much I saved. Nope, not this time. We went to the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market yesterday and picked up the items above. The zucchini and tomatoes cost a total of $2 and the honey was $11. Yes, the honey is expensive, but James and I both prefer local honey over the highly processed stuff that can be bought at Walmart or HEB. Because it has a better, stronger flavor, we end up using less of it and it lasts for a much longer period of time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BBQ pork sandwiches

I cooked the pork loin roast I bought yesterday in the crockpot today to make sandwiches shown below.


BBQ pork sandwiches
1. Rub BBQ seasoning on the pork loin and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
2. Cut a half an onion into slices and put in the bottom of a crockpot. Put several slices of jalapeno and three cloves of garlic on top of the onions.
3. Put the pork in the crockpot on top of the vegetables. Mix about 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce with 1 cup of chicken stock and pour over the pork.
4. Cook on low for around 8 hours.
5. Once the time is up, remove the pork and cover with foil to rest. Pour the vegetables and broth into a pot and boil on high until reduced by half.
6. We used flatbread sammies as the bread.
These were yummy and got the seal of approval from James. Sorry there isn't a better recipe, I just kind of threw this together. Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shopping day

I went to several stores today trying to get several items. Remember I don't have stores like Kroger or Publix to shop at, you know stores that have actual sales and promotions. I have to stick with HEB, Walmart, Walgreens, and Dollar General.


Dollar General:
2 spices: $1
Ritz Crackers: $2.35, on sale for $ 2 - $1 MQ = $1

Total before sales and Q = $3.35
Total sales = $0.35
Total Q = $1
Total OOP = $2

Walmart:
1 box Panko bread crumbs: $1.62 (these were $2 something at HEB)
1 box All-Bran cereal (for the beasts): $3.16 - $1 MQ = $2.16
1 bag butterscotch morsels: on sale for $1.78 - $0.50 MQ = $1.28
2 bakery reduction products: originally $4.50, reduced to a total of $2.70

Total before sales and Q = $11.53
Total sales = $2.27
Total Q = $1.50
Total OOP = $7.76

HEB:
1 10 lb bag of potatoes: $3.59 on sale for $1.49 (less than the cost of a 5 lb bag)
1 pork loin = $4.20
1 tub of butter spread = $0.74
1 dz eggs = $0.98
1 block cheddar = $1.67
1 c yogurt = $0.39
1 bag tortilla chips = $2
1 Clif bar = $1
1 container of salt = $0.34
1 baking powder = $0.99
1 bottle teriyaki sauce = $1.44
1 can tomato = $0.60
1 box baking soda = $0.51
1 bag Flamin Hot Cheetos ( I wonder why those aren't pictured?) = $0.99
1 jar Bama jelly = $1.25
1 can black beans = $0.62

Total before sales and Q = $21.61
Total sales = $0.35
Total Q = NONE (Depressing I know)
Total OOP = $19.21

Walgreens:
2 boxes of Kotex tampons: on sale for $3 each - 2 $1 MQ = $4 (I was supposed to get a $1 RR, but the cashier didn't give it to me, and I forgot about it until I was at a different store.)
1 tube of Garnier Nutrisse exfoliating cleanser: $5.99 on sale for $4.49 - $5MQ = $0.51 overage

Total before sales and Q = $12.57
Total sales = $2.08
Total Q = $7
Total OOP = ZERO ( I found an old gift card and it still had money on it = $3.78 on GC)

I also bought some dog food and bones. This is the depressing part, I spent $107.67 on the dogs and that will only last about 3 months.

Menu Plan Monday

** UPDATE - I found a pork loin on sale so I changed the menu. **

We are still doing really well. Last week I even made a lasagna on a day I told James he would have to fend for himself.

I am also doing well on this month's challenge of no sweets. It is easier than I thought, but my first thought after every meal is still "What's for dessert?". James has cheated TWICE!!!

Monday - Bacon cheeseburger soup (I'm just going to make up a recipe for this . . . wish me luck!)

Tuesday - BBQ pork loin wraps (pork cooked in the crockpot)

Wednesday - Pork turnovers and rice

Thursday - Fish and chips (Boot camp night)

Friday - Black bean quesadillas

Saturday - Teriyaki burgers and homemade fries

Sunday - LO

Oatmeal Pancakes

I have been trying to get up in the morning and make James a hot breakfast at least one day a week. This morning I made these oatmeal pancakes from the Taste of Home Annual Recipes 1999 cookbook. The pancakes had a great texture and a slight molasses flavor. I only made a half batch, but I'll put the recipe for the whole batch.


2 eggs
2 c buttermilk
1 c quick cooking oats
1 T molasses
1 T vegetable oil
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and buttermilk then add the oats and mix well. Stir in molasses and oil. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda; stir into the oats mixture. Drop batter onto a lightly greases griddle to form the size pancakes you prefer. Turn when bubbles form on top of batter.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken cheese casserole

I read a recipe on a blog I follow called Finding Joy in My Kitchen for a chicken and cheese bake. I changed the recipe up a little and James liked the results. Unfortunately, I didn't do a lot of measuring so I'll just describe what I did. BTW, sorry for the quality of a couple of the pictures... one of the settings on my camera was wrong.

Cook up some pasta to al dente. I used whole wheat rigatoni and spirals. After being cooked it was probably about 3 cups of pasta. While the pasta is cooking, saute some onions and carrots. Season the veggies with your choice of spices. I used poultry seasoning, dried oregano, and dried basil.


Put a layer of pasta on the bottom of a casserole dish. Then put layers of veggies, shredded chicken (I baked a chicken breast seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper earlier in the day), and cheddar cheese. You can decide how much cheese you would like to use. I ended up with two layers of each.
Pour in 3/4 cup of milk and cover with foil. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes and then uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes to get the cheese crunchy. In the background of the picture is a piece of homemade buttermilk oat bread.


Next time I make this I'll try to have some mushrooms and or broccoli on hand to add in for James. I can always pick them out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Monday

We have a lot going on this week so there will not be a lot of cooking happening. But there are some exciting things happening this week also.

Monday - James is fending for himself because I'm going to the Kelly Clarkson concert with a friend!!!

Tuesday - Tortellini (boot camp night)

Wednesday - Chicken and cheese pasta bake

Thursday - Tacos (boot camp night)

Friday - My friend's wedding so eating there!

Saturday - James has to fend for himself again because I have to work

Sunday - Crockpot chili and cornbread

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November's food challenge

If you've read the blog before, you know that every month James and I do some kind of food challenge. So far we've done things like a grocery budget of $25 a month, not eating at chain restaurants, and not buying any processed foods. Each challenging in it's own right, but this month's challenge will be the hardest for me.

For the first three weeks of the month we are not eating SWEETS! No cookies, cakes, pies, candy, or ICE CREAM! Because of the holidays we are only attempting the first three weeks. We are also amending the challenge so that we can include gum, mints and protein bars. I'm hoping to be successful at this one, but I am the one most addicted to sugar so we'll see!

October recap

We went over budget on groceries. Yikes, but we'll do better this month.

Books read = 10

Magazines read = 19

Freebies received = 5 (Secret sample and Q, Kashi Q, Olay regenerist sample and Q, Honey Nut Cheerios sample and Q, and Garnier samples)

Exercised for 1181 minutes or roughly 20 hours this month. (This does not count the amount of time walking the dogs or moving at work.)

Our challenge for the month of October was to not eat out at any chain restaurants. This was very easy for us and we were successful.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bizarro Duathlon - 3rd place overall finish

video

I "competed" in a duathlon this morning. This was a reverse duathlon so the format was a 9 mile bike ride, a 3 mile run and then another 9 mile bike ride. My time was 1:22:02 and was good enough to finish 3rd overall in the female division. I finished first in my weight division.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mini Baking day

My in-laws are visiting for a couple of days so I whipped up some goodies for them.

I made carrot cake, pumpkin-cranberry bread, white chocolate cherry chunkies, and chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Menu Plan

We have family visiting at the end of the week, so things may change.

Monday - Catfish and potatoes

Tuesday - Taquitos

Wednesday - Tortillini

Thursday - Breakfast (eggs, bacon and bagels)

Friday - Bison burgers and chips

Saturday - Sandwiches

Sunday - Spaghetti but this may change

Pumpkin - Cranberry Bread and Pumpkin seeds

After making my first batch of pumpkin puree yesterday, I was very excited about trying to make something with it. Here's the result:

Pumpkin - Cranberry Bread:
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground ginger
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c milk
2 eggs
1/3 c shortening
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c dried cranberries

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, reserving one cup of flour.

Add in pumpkin, milk, eggs, and shortening and then mix together with a mixer. Once that is all incorporated add the additional cup of flour.

Add in the cranberries and then put in a slightly greased loaf pan.

Bake for 60 minutes at 350°. The bread is done when a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire wrack. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely.



James liked the bread. I modified the original recipe because I didn't have some of the ingredients (I posted the recipe I used). I think I would like to add some walnuts to this bread the next time I make it.

We also used the pumpkin seeds. I mixed some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together and then added the seeds. Baked them for 20 minutes at 350°, stirring several times during the baking. James really liked them although I think I overcooked them a little.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin puree - the real deal!

Over the last couple of weeks I've read about people making pumpkin puree, not just using the stuff out of a can. Anyone who knows me, knows that I would rather make everything from scratch. We picked up a baking pumpkin, these are smaller than the carving pumpkins, yesterday and got to work today.

First we washed the pumpkin and cut it in half. Then we cleaned out the inside of the pumpkin. Those are James' hands because I was quite disgusted by the smell. (Why can I dissect any animal, but a fruit or vegetable instantly makes me nauseous?)

This is what the inside of both halves should look like.

Place the pumpkins cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Most people who make their own pumpkin puree apparently use a pressure cooker. Since I don't have a pressure cooker, I had to use the oven to roast the pumpkins. Put the pan in a preheated 350° oven and bake for 1 hour. The pumpkins are done when a knife easily penetrates the pumpkin.

These are the pumpkin seeds after I cleaned off all the gunk. We are going to save some to try to plant next year and I'm researching recipes for making flavored pumpkin seeds.


When the pumpkins come out of the oven, let them cool a little bit and then scrape out the insides into a bowl. The picture above is what they looked like after I scraped out all the pulp.


Using either a food processor or a mixer, mix the pumpkin until it is pureed.



We got about 4 cups of pumpkin puree out of one pumpkin. I kept one bag out and froze the other three. From what I've read, pumpkin can't be canned at home, it has to be frozen. I currently have a pumpkin bread baking in the oven and I'll let you know how it goes after James tests it...you know I don't eat pumpkin!
The pumpkin cost $1.99 and we spent about 30 minutes of our time working on it. It is probably less expensive to just buy the cans if you factor in the time cost, but to me it is worth it to have something natural in a food I'm giving James.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

No pictures

We picked up a few things today while running errands. Extra lean ground beef was on sale for $1.77 a pound at Sprouts so we got a couple packages for $6.21. We also spent $9.40 at Central Market for some Challah bread (we'll get two breakfast meals of french toast out of that loaf), a baking pumpkin, two avocados, and some chocolate covered almonds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another pic of Marshmallow Man

I can't help it . . . I just can't stop taking pictures of this beautiful boy! He's just so handsome!

2011 Challenge = Support Local Eateries

Read about our 2011 Challenge here.