Sunday, March 27, 2011

CVS and Staples on 3/27/2011

Two quick stops today. One at CVS and the other at the newly built Staples. The batteries are from Staples and we will be getting the full price of both packages ($25.98) back via the Staples Rewards program.
CVS totals:

Total OOP = Zero (used GC that I didn't pay for)

Total saved = $30.30

ECB earned = $9 (I really earned another $7, but I used it on my second transaction.)

**Also just a hint...the 3 Musketeer's Truffle Crisp is nasty and should never be eaten again! **

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monster Marshmallow Cookies

In my effort to get back into the world of cooking and baking, I had earmarked these cookies from the April 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine. They were the winner of a marshmallow-themed contest.

I changed the recipe a little by reducing the sugar and vanilla. I also changed or excluded the topping, which was good because I actually prefer these cookies without the topping. The last change I made was to use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate since I didn't have them on hand. The cookies are pretty good and have a really nice texture. They are huge if you follow the directions. I think I will make them smaller next time. James also liked these cookies a lot, but requested raisins in them next time. I should mention that oatmeal-raisin cookies are James' favorite. My version of the recipe (with the changes) is below the picture.

Monster Marshmallow Cookies (modified from Food Network Mag)

2 c all-purpose flour (next time I am going to sub some white wheat)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
2 t vanilla
2 c quick-cooking oats
1-1/4 c crispy rice cereal
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c coarsely chopped pecans
1 c miniature marshmallows

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line baking pan with either parchment paper or use Silpat sheets.
2. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
4. Stir the oats, cereal, chocolate chips, pecans and marshmallows into dough with a wooden spoon.
5. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. These really need to be well spaced because they are big and do spread quite a bit.
6. Bake for 14 minutes (this may vary based on how your oven works.) Transfer to racks to cool.
If you want to make the topping, all I did was melt some chocolate chips and a little heavy cream together in the microwave. Once melted, I added in some very finely chopped pecans. I eyeballed all these, so I don't really have measurements.

If you try these, let me know what you think. Happy baking!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thai Pork and Noodles

I miss Chinese food. I don't get to eat it a lot anymore because MSG gives me a massive migraine, and we do not really care for the two Chinese restaurants in town. I make a mean Chicken Lo Mein, but I really want to try something different. James and I have never had Thai food and have wanted to for awhile; however, there are no local Thai restaurants, so I decided to try my own. I found this recipe in the April 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine and with a few tweaks we had a very yummy meal.

I cut the amount of pork called for in the recipe down by half (I am trying to cut down our meat intake), cut out the veggies (because I don't eat time I will include some veggies for James), cut the fish sauce down a little (James isn't a huge fan), cut down the amount of peanut oil, and used a different type of rice noodle. My version of the recipe is below the picture.

Thai Pork and Noodles

1/2 pound thin boneless pork chops, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
8 oz. rice noodles
1 c fresh cilantro
1 lime = zest and juice
2 slices peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic
3 red jalapeno peppers, seeded
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 T fish sauce (if you like fish sauce, use 3T)
2 T lightly packed brown sugar
3 T peanut oil

1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Reserve a couple of T of noodle water before draining and rinsing with cold water.
2. In a food processor, puree the cilantro, lime zest and juice, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, shallots, fish sauce, brown sugar, and 1 T of water until smooth.
3. Heat peanut oil in large skilled over high heat. Add half the cilantro mixture and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the pork and stir-fry until no longer pink.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and add noodle water to the cilantro pork mixture and stir. Add the noodles and two more T of cilantro mixture and stir. Break out the chopsticks and enjoy!
Next time I make this, I am not going to seed all the jalapenos. I think the flavor of the dish would have been enhanced by a little more spice. We also had a little of the cilantro mixture left so we are going to use it to marinate some tuna steaks later in the week.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan

I am struggling with the fact that I have had no desire to cook or participate in the kitchen for several months now. I'm not sure what it is, but I do need to work on improving. Thus, I am actually going to menu plan for the week, and hopefully stick to it!

Monday - Thai Pork and Noodles (new)

Tuesday - Best-ever Chicken Fajita Chowder (new)

Wednesday - Waffles or pancakes

Thursday - LO chicken enchilada soup

Friday - James will cook himself some tuna

Saturday - Black bean soup

Sunday - Sirloin and potatoes

I am also going to try a new cookie recipe called "Monster Marshmallow Cookies".

Review: Maybelline New York's SuperStay 24 2-step Lip Color

As a Bzzagent, I was recently chosen to participate in a new Bzz for Maybelline New York's new SuperStay 24 2-step Lip Color. As part of the Bzz I received 4 full-size lip colors, two of which are pictured below. The bottom color, Timeless Rose, is the color that I tried.

Maybelline's new SuperStay 24 lip color is brought to us after 5 years of research and 10 different patents. The SuperStay 24 lip colors have been developed with new micro-flex technology which allows the color to stay all day without caking, cracking, or fading. There are 30 runway-inspired colors in four shade families: Reds, Plums, Pinks, and Naturals.

SuperStay 24 is applied in two easy steps:
1. Apply the long-lasting base coat and allow to dry for about two minutes.
2. Apply the moisturizing top coat lip balm.

My past experiences with long-lasting lip color have not been favorable. Usually after applying the base coat, I felt like my lips were caked in mud and anytime I would talk, I could feel the "mud" cracking. I also felt like I constantly had to reapply the top coat lip gloss in order to not have the "cracking" feeling.

I am happy to say that I did not feel the same way after trying the Timeless Rose shade of SuperStay 24! (Sorry for the quality of the picture, I was in a poorly lit bathroom!) The color stayed on for a full 10 hours, before I removed it. I only had to reapply the lip balm one time and I never felt like my lips were cracking!

I shared the other three shade with my coworkers/friends and they loved them! Here's what they had to say:

Beka - "I love it! As long, as I used the lip balm, my lips never dried out. I even went to bed wearing it one night and it was still on in the morning...without rubbing off on my pillow case!"

Stephanie - " I love the lip color! It stayed on for a really long time without having to reapply."

Summer - "Thanks for sharing. I love the color you gave me and it lasts for a really long time. Plus, I like the lip balm it makes my lips feel soft."

So, if you are looking to try a new long lasting lip color, try Maybelline New York's SuperStay 24!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Luling Bar-B-Q Review

We took my nieces fishing today at Palmetto State Park in Luling, TX. Of course, we had to go eat BBQ for lunch since we just so happened to be in the area. My parents, the girls, and James and I all love BBQ so it was a great idea! We were originally going to go to City Market, but it was packed...huge line and absolutely no where to sit, so we went to Luling Bar-B-Q across the street. I tried to find a web page to link to, but couldn't find anything. The number is posted on the sign in the picture below, and the address is 709 E. Davis St in Luling.

We were surprised that this place wasn't packed. Don't get my wrong it was busy, and we lucked out getting a table right when we walked in, but there was not a super long line. Whew, because everyone was hungry!

Here's a picture of some of the sausage and the brisket. My dad and James picked four links of sausage, three plain and one jalapeno. The links of sausage were $1.90 each. James said the sausage had a really good flavor, but that it was on par with sausages from other restaurants. Definitely not bad, but not the absolute best either. He did really like the jalapeno sausage and preferred it to the regular. The brisket (all meats were $9 per pound) was disappointing. James said it was super dry and pretty bland. I didn't even try it because I could see how dry it was, and didn't want to be disappointed.

Here are the pork ribs. These were super moist and flavorful. I am not a BBQ purist so I really liked adding the restaurant manufactured "hot" sauce to my bites of ribs. James loved the smokey flavor and the moistness of the ribs.

Here was my meal...big surprise, yet another chopped beef sandwich. The meat was nicely flavored and moist. Nothing super special about it, but I would eat it again. I would say the sandwich I had from Black's Barbeque in Lockhart, was better, but it was not bad. They originally got my order wrong because James asked for no pickles, and when we got the sandwich it had pickles on it. Just pick off the pickles you say, but then the nasty flavor of pickle juice is leftover and I won't eat it. Thankfully James took it back and they made me another one.
Like most BBQ places, food here was "pricey". $68 bought us 3 pounds of pork ribs, 4 links of sausage, 1 pound of terrible brisket, 1 chopped beef sandwich, 1 pint each of beans and potato salad, 3 bags of chips, and five drinks. There were however a ton of leftovers for James, so they probably bought too much food.

Overall, I think we would eat here again. We enjoyed the food and the price was pretty normal for the type of food. Downside is that there isn't a lot of seating in the restaurant, but I guess space is limited in the restaurant. Another little clue...don't use the restrooms there...not the cleanest.
Happy eating!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3/10 CVS Trip

I has some ECB expiring soon and needed to use them up. Not a good week to use up ECB, but this is what I picked up.

Total OOP = ZERO ($1.65 on GC)
Total value = $24.81
ECB earned = $8 (redeemed a raincheck worth $5)

2011 Challenge = Support Local Eateries

Read about our 2011 Challenge here.