Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bread Machine Sour Cream-Vanilla Bread

*** UPDATE *** This bread makes AWESOME French toast!!!

If you remember I got some sour cream for free last week with the HEB meal deal. After flipping through a bunch of recipes, I decided to try this recipe from Betty Crocker. I tried to get the link up, but there is a problem with their site this morning.

This is a good bread, but it is nothing like the description on their website. It is basically just a slightly sweet white bread, not "pound cake - like" as described by Betty Crocker. It had a nice airy texture, which contradicted a bunch of the reviews.

James was pretty happy to actually have a white bread in our house. I'm not sure when I last made a white bread but I will definitely be making this again. I am going to toast it up for breakfast this morning and make French toast with the leftovers tomorrow morning.

Bread Machine Sour Cream-Vanilla Bread - from Betty Crocker
1/2 c water
1/3 c sour cream
1 T vanilla
1 egg
1 T butter, softened
3 c Bread flour
3 T sugar
1 1/4 t salt
2 t bread machine yeast or quick active dry yeast (I used regular yeast and it worked well.)

1. Measure all ingredients and place in bread machine in order recommended by the manufacturer.

2. Select Sweet or Basic/White cycle. Use Light crust color. Do not use delay cycle. Remove baked bread from pan, and cool on wire rack.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thoughts on the first month of the challenge

I've been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on the first month of our $1200 challenge. Here's what I've decided - I miss eating out. The sad thing is that I don't actually miss the food, which inevitably makes me sick, but just the experience. I don't miss how much it costs either, but I still miss the feeling of going out. Maybe I need to do try some new things when cooking dinner. Different plates, more formal plates, candles, setting the table, etc. We'll see how things go.

I also miss shopping for deals. Now I just stay out of stores unless I know there is a big sale on something that we need. I love the thrill of finding a good deal and have been missing that feeling. On the other hand, I don't miss fighting people, maneuvering a cart through rude people, or actually handing over the money.

Good things that have happened this first month: 1) I have been baking a lot more (English muffins, cakes, brownies, breads, etc.), 2) James and I have had 29 home-cooked meals this month with only a few repeats, and 3) I have not had the stomach problems I had started to have at the end of last year.

I guess in my reflections I decided it is a balance of feelings. For the most part, the first month has been a positive experience with just a few changes that I've had to adapt to.

** We did cave last night and go and get some Blizzards from DQ. I had been fighting off the craving for about a week, and James just decided we were going last night. $6.04 of goodness into our bellies. **

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whole Wheat English Muffins

No picture, but I'll describe. I got this recipe from Finding Joy in My Kitchen. She got the recipe from somewhere else. Here's the link for the Whole Wheat English Muffins recipe.

These muffins had a very good flavor, but they did not rise at all for me. They are VERY thin. I cut the recipe in half which might have altered the recipe, but I don't see why that would affect anything. I may not have let the dough rise long enough the first time. Who knows? I do know that I will gladly be eating these right up even though they are flat. Good flavor, good texture, and they toast up very well. I will also be trying to make a whole batch of these again in order to have some in the freezer.

I hope you like them.

Milk pick up

I had to get some milk today. Price of the gallon of milk (at a grocery store) was $2.98. OOP was zero because I used a gift card.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Easy black bean tostados

I am actually embarrassed to post this recipe. I often read recipes in cookbooks and think "did they really think people don't do this in their own homes already." Well, this is probably one of those recipes. . .but it tasted so good.

Black bean tostados

4 corn tortillas
1 can of black beans, almost completely drained (leave about 1-2 T)
2 T chopped onions
1 t cumin
1/2 t garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour enough oil (veg or canola) into a small pan just to cover the bottom. Heat the oil over medium heat. Put one tortilla in the oil and cook each side until crisp. I didn't time this but I would guess about 30 seconds per side, you'll just have to keep an eye on it. Layer a cookie rack onto a baking sheet, remove the tortilla (now a tostado), and put the tostado on the rack. Put these in the oven to cook off a little of the oil and keep warm and crispy. Continue this until all your tortillas are formed into tostados.

2. Cook onion in about a tablespoon of oil over medium heat until translucent. Pour in beans and about 1-2 T of juice. Add cumin and garlic salt and warm. Mash the beans with a potato masher or use a food processor to puree (I didn't want to get mine dirty). I added in a tiny bit of the cooking oil to the mashed beans to smooth out the texture a little bit.

3. Remove tostados from oven, top with beans and cheese and enjoy.

I told you it was embarrassing to post!

So easy granola bars

I am constantly on the search for a good homemade granola bar recipe. I love a good granola bar, but I don't like the prices or the ingredients for store bought bars. My friend Christy, from had been raving about the bars she made, so I emailed her for the recipe. She referred me to a link on entitled "Easy Granola Bars." Talk about easy!

I only made a half batch and added two teaspoons of maple syrup. I also toasted the coconut and almonds before adding them to the mixture. James and I both thought these had a great flavor and texture . With my half batch I was able to get 8 decent size bars. I hope you enjoy the bars!

For those of you coconut haters (put me in this group), you cannot taste the coconut!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Caramel brownies

Ever since I read this recipe in the 2003 Quick Cooking book I have wanted to try it. James loves caramel turtles so I thought I could make a turtle brownie out of this recipe. After we let them cool and sampled them, his first comment was, "You are not giving any of these away." You see, usually I take half of whatever I bake to work for a friend. I was only permitted to remove 4 of these scrumptious brownies from the pan to take to work. These are not the most frugal of brownies because of the caramels, but I had some leftover from a long time ago, and my mom bought the condensed milk for me this weekend, so I gave it a shot.

I did change the original recipe by using pecans instead of walnuts and I halved the recipe. I'll include the recipe for the whole batch. I hope you enjoy them as much as James does. A word of caution though, to get the full effect of the flavors, the brownies have to be completely cooled. If you try to eat them hot, like I did, they kind of taste like burnt caramel.

Caramel Brownies

2 c sugar
¾ c baking cocoa
1 c vegetable oil
4 eggs
¼ c milk
1- ½ c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans, divided
1 pkg (14 oz) caramels
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa, oil, eggs and milk.
2. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder; add to the egg mixture and mix until combined.
3. Fold in the chocolate chips and ½ c pecans. Spoon two thirds of the batter into a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan and bake at 350° for 12 minutes.
4. While brownies are baking, in a saucepan, heat the caramels and condensed milk over low heat until caramels are melted. Pour over baked brownie layers. Sprinkle with remaining pecans and drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls over caramel layer. Swirl the brownie batter with a knife.
5. Bake 30-40 minutes longer or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs if inserted in the center of the brownies. Cool before eating!

Monday, January 25, 2010

HEB trip

After mulling over HEB's meal deal for a couple of days, I decided I was going to participate. We eat all of the items in the deal fairly regularly minus the sour cream. I can use the sour cream in a baked dessert so it was still worth it. The deal was to purchase two chubs of meat, we picked sirloin, and get several items for free.

2 chubs of ground sirloin: 6.38
1 box Mission taco shells at 2.09: FREE
1 HEB taco seasoning mix at 0.34: FREE
1 8 oz bag of Monterrey Jack shredded cheese at 1.69: FREE
1 can of black beans at 1.19: FREE
1 8 oz container of sour cream at 0.75: FREE
1 Yoplait Smoothie at 2.44 - free MQ: FREE

Total before sales and Q = $15.83
Total sales = $0.95
Total Q = $8.60
Total OOP = ZERO (used gift card for $6.28)

We will probably get about 6 - 7 meals out of the food above so it was a really awesome deal.

Menu Plan Monday

Because we went out of town for the weekend, we didn't eat the roast over the weekend. I'm adding it to the beginning of this week's plan.

Monday - Crockpot roast and baked potatoes

Tuesday - BBQ beef sandwiches and home fries

Wednesday - Black bean tostados

Thursday - Tuna burgers and chips

Friday - Crockpot chicken and potatoes

Saturday - chicken enchilada casserole

Sunday - BBQ chicken pizza

Dessert for the week: caramel brownies

Weekend trip to get out of town

We decided to escape town this weekend and went to visit my parents. While it was a trial driving down with 5 greyhounds in the van, it was worth it to get away. We had vacation funds saved up, so we took some of it and made a mini-vacation out of it. We visited the San Antonio zoo and just enjoyed a very windy day.

My mom is super cool and loves to try new things. When we went to the store she bought several things to try and gave a bunch to me. She also let me pilfer the gum supply and gave us a box of gum. This saved us a bunch of money. Here's what she gave us:

You are seeing a huge stack of coupons in the front. She saves the coupons packets for me!! Based on the prices of these items, my mom saved us $19.74!

We got home late and were super tired. We both got hungry at the same time and since we hadn't been to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Ramos, in almost a month we decided to go. Our meal cost $12 (I paid for the tip out of my allowance because I am a generous tipper.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Small shopping trip

We are on the verge of running out of eggs (not good since we are having waffles tomorrow night) and I needed some items to make frosties for the dogs. Instead of buying one banana and one little cup of yogurt, I bought a bunch of bananas and a large container of yogurt. I'll use some LO pudding and a banana to make banana pudding for James. LO yogurt will be used in baking next week.

HEB yogurt = $1.50 (on sale)
HEB eggs = $1.77 (I prefer farm fresh eggs, but they are so expensive.)
Bananas = $0.99

Total before sales = $4.64
Total sales = $0.38 (Oh watch out for that big sale!!!)
Total OOP = $4.26

Mac-n-Cheese Pie

I made Impossibly Easy Mac 'n Cheese Pie from the Betty Crocker recipe website for dinner last night. The picture came out really bad, so I'm not even going to attach it. We thought this was okay, but not the best. I didn't get a chance to read the reviews before I made it, but I wish I would have read them. We had the same problems: 1) pasta undercooked and hard on the bottom, 2) a little too eggy, and 3) did not taste like Mac and cheese at all. I added about a third a pound of cooked hamburger, onions and jalapenos so it had a really good flavor. Probably won't be making this recipe again.

On the bright side, I made a Boston Cream Pie for dessert and it was delicious!

Oh, I also wanted to mention that last night was a really hard night. I was really craving Ramos Restaurant food. I think it was just because I was super tired for some reason, but I stuck with the menu plan! Go Me!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whole Wheat Rolls

When I was meal planning for the week, I knew I wanted to try these rolls with Tortellini Alfredo. I found the recipe on the Happy Housewife blog and here's the link. The recipe is from a guest post on the blog. I loved the recipe, even though I changed it just a little bit. These were easy to make, crusty on the outside, and so moist and flavorful on the inside. James loved them, which is good news since he isn't the biggest fan of whole wheat (even though I make him eat it since it is more healthy.) I will include my altered recipe below, but the original recipe is in the link above. I only made half a batch so that is what I am including.

Whole Wheat French Rolls

3/4 cups warm water (110°F)
1/2 T yeast
1 T honey
1 T veg oil
1/2 t salt
1 c bread flour
1 c whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, and honey. Let stand for about 10 minutes.

To the yeast mixture, add oil, salt and 1 c of flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 c at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise is a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and form into balls. Place in a lightly greased 9-in round baking pan. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth, and let double in volume, about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

We loved these with even more honey on them. Next time I think as soon as they come out of the oven I am going to coat them with either honey-butter or garlic-butter while they are still hot.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stuffed, oven-baked hamburgers

I saw a recipe for oven-baked burgers in the 2003 edition of the Quick Cooking cook book. However, the only thing I had from the recipe was hamburger meat, so I improvised. These were awesome!!! Better than some burgers at restaurants.

Sorry for the pictures, I took it in the evening when my light is bad.

Kat's stuffed, oven-baked burgers (only makes two burgers)

2/3 a pound of hamburger
2 squares of cheddar cheese (cut off a block)
2 T barbeque sauce
1/2 t liquid smoke
1 t BBQ seasoning mix (I've had this for awhile and needed to use it up)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 panko bread crumbs

1. Mix meat, BBQ sauce, liquid smoke, BBQ seasoning and salt and pepper in a bowl. Flatten into a disk at the bottom of the bowl and use your hand to divide the disk into four equal sections.

2. Form each section into flattened patties. Put a square of cheese onto one patty and top with another patty. Pinch and fold the edges together until sealed. Make the other patty.

3. Flavor the panko bread crumbs with a little bit of BBQ seasoning. Coat the patties with panko bread crumbs.

4. Put patties on a lightly greased piece of foil on a baking pan. Bake in a 400° oven for 25-30 minutes or until done. Serve on whole wheat buns.

I hope you like these burgers. as much as we did!

Blueberry wheat muffins

I needed to make something quick that James could grab for breakfasts on his way to work. I found this recipe via the Betty Crocker app. Here's a link to the recipe on the Betty Crocker website. I changed the recipe a little and will include my version below. James thought that these were a little on the dry side, but had a very good flavor. When I tasted them, I thought the outside was crusty and the inside was pretty moist.

Whole-Wheat Blueberry Muffins

2 T sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
3/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup frozen blueberries, do not thaw

1. Heat oven to 400°F (because I have a dark, non-stick pan, I lower my temp by 25°). Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray, or place paper baking cup in each muffin cup. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

2. In large bowl, beat milk, oil, agave syrup and egg with spoon. Sift flours, baking powder and salt into wet ingredients. Mix just until flours are moistened (batter will be lumpy). Gently fold in blueberries.

3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (cups will be full). Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan.

Menu Plan Monday

Although I've never stated it, we are on the pantry challenge that so many other bloggers are attacking. We are doing great. So far, we have only bought a gallon of milk for the month. Last week we had a bunch of great meals. We almost derailed on Friday when we were scheduled to have grilled tuna and it was a downpour outside. We had our friend over and I almost had James just pick up a pizza. Then I decided I didn't want to lose that money out of our $1200 challenge, so I used the homemade frozen pizza shells to make our own pizza. Yay for me!

Monday: Stuffed, baked hamburgers (never got to these last week) and homemade fries (NEW)

Tuesday: tortellini Alfredo and homemade wheat rolls

Wednesday: Mac-n-cheese pie with LO hamburger meat (NEW)

Thursday: Beans, rice, and sausage

Friday: Waffles and bacon

Saturday: Crockpot roast beef and potatoes

Sunday: BBQ roast sandwiches and home fries

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Bread - No Kneading

I took the pictures this morning so I actually had good light for a change!!

I have been craving french toast for a couple of days. My favorite bread to use is Challah, which is expensive to buy and time-consuming to make. I was mulling over my problem when I remembered that we had made french toast out of this bread the last time I made it. I have no idea where I got the original recipe from, but I changed it anyway because I didn't have any buttermilk. The new version is included below. This is a bread that tastes much better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together. It is super moist and makes AWESOME french toast!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread:

4 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
½ c vegetable oil
2 ½ c sugar, divided
2 c buttermilk (I poured 2 T vinegar into a measuring cup and then poured skim milk up to the 2 cup line)
2 eggs
1 T ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil and 1 ½ c sugar. Add buttermilk and eggs; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill two greased 8-in x 4-in x 2-in loaf pans about 1/3 full. (I didn't have this size pan, so I used two 9x5 loaf pans which is why my bread came out so thin.) Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle half over the batter. Top with remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar. Swirl batter with a knife. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Food for today

We ran errands in Austin today and had one splurge and took advantage of two deals. Fuddruckers and Marble Slab both sent me an "anniversary" gift for being in their online clubs for a year.

Fuddruckers sent me a coupon for a 1/3 pound burger, fries, and a drink for $7 ( a savings of $1.34). James and I split this (a savings of an additional $8.34 by splitting instead of buying two meals) and upgraded to a chocolate shake that we split.

Marble Slab sent a coupon for a "free smoothie" which for some reason we still had to pay tax on. So we paid $0.50 for a $4.99 smoothie.

The splurge was at a cupcake shop. We had seen a story about this particular store on the food network and decided to try it. We got a $2.50 cupcake called a "double dose". Yes, it was all chocolate, all rich, all expensive, and all yummy!

We also got a gallon of milk at Walmart. We used a gift card so our OOP was zero dollars, and our savings was $2.98.

It was a good day today, topped off with some grilled tuna for dinner.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chicken tamale pie

In my never ending quest to include new meals in my repertoire, I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker website. As usual I changed the recipe a little to fit what I had. The original recipe is linked here, and I'll include my version below. James really liked this meal. He said it had a really light "crust" that he enjoyed.

Chicken Tamale Pie:

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1/2 can of corn, drained
1 small can of green chilies, drained
1 t cumin
1/2 t chili pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 c cheddar cheese
1/2 c baking mix
1/2 c cornmeal
3/4 c milk (I used skim)
1 egg

1. Mix the chicken, chilies, corn, and spices in the bottom of a 9-inch glass pan. Top with the cheese.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the baking mix, cornmeal, milk and egg together. Pour over the top of the chicken mixture.

3. Bake the pie for 25 minutes in a preheated 400° oven. We cut ours into 6 servings. You could top this with sour cream (which we don't eat), guacamole (which we don't have), more cheese, and/or salsa.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homemade Cheese Pizza

Pizza was on the menu plan tonight. My original recipe came from my mom and she got it from a Heart Healthy cook book after my dad's heart attack. I've tweaked it by modifying it for the bread machine and switching some ingredients. My sauce is semi-homemade but we like it. I was so excited to eat the pizza that I forgot to take the picture before we ate.

Kat's Pizza dough - bread machine
1 1/4 c warm water (I ended up adding just a tiny amount more after watching it in the bread machine for a couple of minutes.)
1 T honey
3 T olive oil
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c wheat flour
1 t salt
1 T yeast

1. Sift the flours and salt together. You can skip this step, but it really makes for a lighter crust.
2. Put ingredients in your bread maker as instructed. For me, I put the liquids in first and then the flour mixture on top. I make a little well in the top of the flour mound and put the yeast in that.
3. Set the bread maker for the pizza dough cycle.
4. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and separate into the number of pieces you want. For me, I made one big (10x12) pizza and 5 individual size pizza shells.
5. Bake the pizza in a 425° preheated oven for 10 minutes without toppings. I used a pizza stone for the big pizza and a cookie sheet for the others. When the 10 minutes are up, top with your choice of toppings and bake for another 10 minutes. Then the best part. . .eat the yumminess!!!!!

Pizza sauce:
1 small can of tomato paste
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 t granulated garlic
1 - 2 t ground oregano
1 -2 t ground basil
1 t crushed red pepper flakes

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a shallow pan. Heat on low for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We did great on our menu plan last week. I have to admit though I really miss eating out; however, since I cooked every meal last week I didn't have as many stomach problems as I usually do when we eat out. That is definitely good news! I'm trying a couple of new recipes this week, which might be slightly modified based on what I have in the house.

Monday - tilapia and rice pilaf

Tuesday - chicken fried steaks and baked potatoes

Wednesday - homemade pizza

Thursday - chicken tamale pie (new)

Friday - grilled tuna and potatoes

Saturday - tuna casserole using LO tuna

Sunday - baked, stuffed hamburgers (new and modified) and chips or beans

I am also planning on doing a little baking for a friend's birthday so hopefully we'll have some sweet treats as well.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Marsh and Fancy cuddling

If you didn't know, we are in the middle of a cold front that has put the temps at less than 25° the last couple of nights. To top it off, we lost heat yesterday morning for 4 hours and it was 57° in the house before the heat came back on. Marsh decided he wanted to be on the warm couch, but Darla and Fancy were already there, so he just cuddled up to Fancy.

Chicken Tikka Masala - like chicken curry

I've been craving some curry, but we don't have any restaurants here that serve it. Plus on our $1200 challenge it would probably put a dent in our budget. I found a Shrimp Tikka Masala recipe in the January 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living, but I couldn't find a link on the website to link to. I have changed the recipe up enough since I didn't have some ingredients and James is allergic to shrimp. I will say that it doesn't taste like true curry, but it was a pretty good, easy to make facsimile.

Kat's Chicken Tikka Masala

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 t ginger powder
2 t tomato paste
2 t garam masala (a spice blend - I got mine from the canisters at Central Market)
1/2 t chili powder
1 c chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat. Cook chicken and onions in oil until chicken is moist and onions are soft.

2. Add ginger powder, tomato paste, garam masala, and chili powder for about 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.

3. Add chicken broth and mix together. Let the mixture reduce until you have a nice thick chunky sauce. Serve over rice. If I had some yogurt, I would have added a couple of T to make it a little creamy and lighter in color.

Happy Eating!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cumin flavored Black Bean Soup

I can't remember where I got the original recipe for this soup. I thought it was an Ina Garten recipe, but I couldn't find it on Food Network's website. I know I cut the original recipe in half to cook for two, and that is the recipe I'll give you. This is so yummy. I love spicy soup, so I put extra jalapeno in mine. This is so easy to make and has such an awesome outcome. I used canned beans because I had them on hand, but I have made this with bagged beans. Happy eating!

Cumin flavored Black Bean Soup:

1 T oil
1 small onion, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 T cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice

1. Preheat oil in pan and then cook the onion until soft. Add the jalapenos, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for a couple more minutes.

2. Put mixture in hot crockpot and add beans and tomatoes (with juice).

3. Cook in crockpot on low for 8-10 hours. Puree the soup in batches and then enjoy! I added some LO taco meat and a little cheese and served the soup with homemade corn muffins.

Carl's Jr treat

I received a $5 off Q from Carl's Jr. for filling out an evaluation car (it was not a good evaluation.) We went and got two milkshakes today which totaled $5.98 before tax minus my $5 Q and we paid $1.06 for two shakes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crockpot Chicken Parmesan and Parmesan biscuits

As usual, let me start by apologizing for the quality of the picture. The lighting in my dining room is not that good, and I am not going to buy a photo box.

I've been reading several recipes for crockpot chicken Parmesan and decided to give it a try. If you are a chicken Parmesan purist, this is not the recipe for you because there is not a crispy coating. However, if you like exceptionally moist, well-flavored chicken, this is for you. I haven't tasted chicken this moist in a long time. My mind is swimming with future potential recipes. I am also going to include the recipe for the biscuit although it isn't very difficult, but they were super yummy. The best part of the biscuit was the yummy crust on the bottom!

Crockpot Chicken Parmesan:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c sun dried tomato Italian dressing
1 c spaghetti sauce of your choice
1/2 c cheese (I only had cheddar, but mozzarella would be better.)
1/2 - 3/4 c panko bread crumbs
1 t Italian seasoning

1. Marinate the chicken breasts in the dressing over night.
2. Spray the bottom of your crockpot with butter/oil spray so nothing will stick.
3. Mix the Italian seasoning and the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Coat both sides of each chicken breast with the mixture and place in the crockpot.
4. Top each piece of chicken with 1/2 of the cheese and then 1/2 of the spaghetti sauce.
5. I cooked mine on high for about 3 1/2 hours (temp was 180°), but it could be cooked on low for about 6 hours.

Parmesan biscuits (I had some LO unbaked Pillsbury wheat rolls from last night, so this recipe is only for 4 biscuits. If you were using a whole tube, double the recipe.):

4 prepacked roll biscuits
2 T butter
1 t Italian seasoning
1/2 c Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°. While oven is preheating, melt butter in the bottom of a 8 x 8 square pan (use a larger pan if using a whole tube of biscuits) in the oven.
2. Once butter is completely melted, sprinkle the Italian seasoning in four sections.
3. Dip both sides of each biscuit into the Parmesan, pressing slightly to get cheese to stick. Place biscuits over Italian seasoning sections.
4. Bake for 12 minutes until done.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I never realized how addicted I am to finding deals until the start of my $1200 challenge. Because I am limited on how much I can spend, I just have not gone shopping. Sure I could go to Walgreen's and buy a couple boxes of Chips A'Hoy and get them essentially for free after RR. Realistically though I know I had to shell out money in order to get that RR and then I would have to hope that a good food deal came along that I could use it on. $2 on cookies or $2 on cheese. Weird how a perspective changes with a challenge.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Maggie Moos

We made our first food purchase today. While on an errand trip, we stopped at Maggie Moo's ice cream shop. I had been looking forward to this for days and I wasn't disappointed. I love the brownie batter ice cream with peanut butter cups mixed in. James had some kind of cherry concoction.

Total OOP: $8.34 (Expensive I know, but so worth the splurge.)

Menu Monday

We did pretty well last week. A couple of splurges, but since this is the first week of the new year and since we started our $1200 challenge, we are going to be good this week.

Monday - taco casserole (James wanted Mexican food so he can use up the rest of the guacamole he made)

Tuesday - Hamburger pizza

Wednesday - Breakfast (biscuits, eggs, bacon and sausage)

Thursday - Chicken Parmesan and pasta

Friday - Black bean soup and corn muffins

Saturday - Chicken curry and rice

Sunday - LO

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Whole Wheat Pancakes - Using a blender

I love whole wheat pancakes and am constantly looking for new or different recipes. I found the original recipe for these pancakes on Tammy's Recipes, but I changed it a little. I used whole wheat flour instead of wheat berries, added vanilla and flax seed. (Sorry about the picture, with a front moving in, the light in my house this morning is not good.)

Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 1/3 c whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
2 T brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t ground flax seed
1 t vanilla
dash of salt

1. Using a glass blender blend milk and wheat flour for a few minutes on high until well blended.

2. Add baking powder, brown sugar, eggs, flax, vanilla, and salt to the blender. Replace lid and blend for 1 minute on low.

3. Spoon batter onto a hot greased griddle. Flip pancakes once during cooking (pancakes are ready to flip when bubbles on top stay open). Cook pancakes for several minutes, until done.

These were a very yummy, whole wheat pancake. I think only a person who likes the flavor of whole wheat products would enjoy these because the whole wheat flavor is strong. The next time I make these I am going to try substituting agave syrup for the brown sugar.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Newest addition to our family

We are in the process of formally adopting Marshmallow Man, our current foster dog. Last weekend there was a family interested in meeting him, and James realized that he was not ready to lose Marsh. It is no surprise that I had been in love with this little beast since I laid eyes on him. We are super excited about him being a permanent member of our family. The downside is that he is beast number 5 and we had to give up fostering in order to keep him.

Ironically enough, Marsh never got on furniture until the day after we decided to keep him. Now he gets on the couch and recliners exclusively. It was like he understood that he was now a permanent member so he just took that final step.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Dec 2009 recap

December was a pretty blah month but here's the basic recap.

Freebies received: tampax sample and Q, febreeze Q, Staci's pita chip sample, 2 Q for free Mrs. Butterworth's syrup

Rebates: Received - SC Johnson $5, Sent - Kohl's $10, Olay Quench $11.98

# of Books Read: 9 (for a total of 110 for the year)

# of Magazines Read: 16 (for a total of 202 for the year)

Exercise: 682 minutes (11.3 hours) - very bad month

Next year I plan on keeping track of the number of books and magazines I read, the number of freebies I receive, my exercise, rebates sent and received, the amount of money I spend on my dogs per month and of course our $1200 challenge.

2011 Challenge = Support Local Eateries

Read about our 2011 Challenge here.