Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dill Dip

dill dipI
Every month at work there is a special day...A special day that celebrates all of the birthdays in that month.  My favorite part about this day is that I don't have to pack my lunch.  There is usually enough food to feed an army (you wouldn't believe how much food a bunch of teachers bring to the party) and I love that I can try many different things.  I'm not going to lie, this sampling can last all day.  Grazing as I like to call it.  Don't judge, I just make sure to wear stretchy pants that day...Last week it was birthday celebration day at school and I needed a quick recipe.  I've been making this dill dip since my college days and it is a quick and easy addition to any party.  Dip and sweet bread?? Ummmm yes please.  I'll leave you with this...Ain't no party like a teacher party cause a teacher party don't stop!

dill dip

Dill Dip
printable recipe
makes 2 cups
1 cup low fat sour cream
1 cup low fat mayo
2 Tbsp dried dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp season salt

Stir together all ingredients.  Cover and chill overnight to let the flavors come together.  Serve with cut up sweet bread or in a sweet bread bowl.
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Mini Pie Crisps

DSC_0589I. LOVE. FALL. I love the weather, I love the scents, and I love fall food.  The weather here has been a little on the chilly side the past week or so, and I decided it was time to bust out a soup.  The hubs has dropped some not-so-subtle hints about chicken pot pie...Such as, "Man I really love your chicken pot pie," "You know, we haven't had chicken pot pie in awhile," "Man we should totally have chicken sometime soon and you could use the leftovers for chicken pot pie," and "Hey can you make chicken pot pie?"...See what I mean?  I obviously didn’t marry him because he is timid.  However, I just wasn't feeling chicken pot pie, I'm not really sure why, but I think it may have to do with the impending big freeze-a-thon that I'm going to have to do before basketball starts.  I know there are a lot of chicken pot pies in our future, and I didn't want to burn out on them too soon.  What I did want is a soup...and I'm all about keeping things fair in our marriage, so I met him in the middle.  I thought this turned out great, and the little mini pie crusts on top really set it off and made it more than just a creamy chicken soup.  Although the hubs said it would be just fine with a loaf of bread on the side...he keeps me grounded.
DSC_0568Start by heating your butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and celery and cook until soft.  Add flour and bouillon and cook for a few minutes.  See all that brown stuff on the bottom of my pan?  That’s not a bad thing! It’s some browned bits from the onion and that will come up when we add in the water.  After a few minutes of cooking your flour and bouillon, make sure your pan is super hot and whisk in the water.  The water should deglaze the bottom of the pan.   Add in the milk and stir to combine. 
DSC_0570Now your soup should look like this!
DSC_0571Add in the veggies…The crinkly carrots really add a nice touch don’t you think???
DSC_0574Add in your spices…
DSC_0576And cook until the vegetables are cooked through.  You don’t want them to turn to mush, just cook through.  Add in your chicken…heat through.  Serve immediately with the mini pie crisps (recipe below.)
Chicken Pot Pie Soup w/ Mini Pie Crisps printable recipe
makes 6-8 servings

Chicken Pot Pie Soup Ingredients:
2 cups cooked chicken breast, diced small
4 Tbsp. butter
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 tsp. chicken bouillon powder (I used the low sodium!), or 3 cubes
salt/pepper to taste
pinch of thyme
pinch of rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
3 cups skim milk
5 Tbsp. flour (I used white whole wheat flour)

1.  In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat butter over medium to medium-high heat and add onion and celery.  Cook until onion and celery are softened.  Add in flour and combine.  Cook for about 2 minutes, or until flour has absorbed the oil.
2.  Add in chicken bouillon, and stir.  Whisk in water and stir in milk, frozen vegetables, thyme, rosemary, and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil until vegetables are cooked through.  Keep in mind that you don't want your vegetables to get mushy, just softer.
3.  Add in the chicken.  Cook until soup is thickened.  Serve with pie crisps. (recipe below)

Mini Pie Crisps makes 12 pie crisps Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 TBS cold water
1/3 cup canola oil (I use Wesson)

Roll out between 2 sheets of wax paper. Cut in circles with cup or biscuit cutter, crimp edges and prick with a fork.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees. Serve immediately with hot soup.

Soup recipe adapted from Skinny Taste
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Friday, September 23, 2011

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Cupcakes

Yes, you read that right...two ingredients.  Count ‘em. One. Two. (three. four. get your woman on the floor...anybody? Mic check 1, 2?) When I saw these cupcakes online I thought, no way these are going to turn out.  How the heck can you get a good, moist cupcake with no eggs? I just had to see for myself...and man were they awesome! It was the perfect start to fall and pumpkin season.  Not complicated at all! But I couldn't just leave them be, I had to add a cream cheese twist of course.  I had all these grand plans of making a maple cream cheese frosting, but that would have required me going to the store to buy maple syrup and cream cheese…And seriously, once these things were baking, the smell kept me prisoner in my own home.  So I went with the easy alternative, cream cheese frosting from the pantry.  Someday I’ll make my own frosting…but for now I’m just going to enjoy this easy treat!  Let's hope there's not another pumpkin shortage this year, because I may be making these very often! 


Pumpkin Cupcakes
printable recipe
makes 12 cupcakes
1 box spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin puree

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix pumpkin puree and cake mix together.  Spoon into greased muffin tin and bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool, then frost with favorite frosting.  Dust with pumpkin pie spice (optional).

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Beef & Bean Burritos


Every once in awhile, when they go on sale, my husband buys the big pack of frozen beef and bean burritos at the grocery store for lunch.  He can go through an entire package in a few days, so I knew he would be happy about these.  I was looking for a way to make my own version, but include far less salt than the packaged variety.  By using my own taco seasoning, our family farm raised ground beef, and rinsed black beans, I am able to control the salt content in this meal.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some salt…I just hate having to lay down on my bed to button my pants the next day.  We decided that these tasted so much better than the ones in the package, and we had leftovers.  I wrapped each leftover burrito in foil so that we could each have one for lunch the next day (well more like me have one, and he the rest.)  I think next time I am going to make a double batch and freeze all of them.  Just one more thing to add to the list of freezer winners for basketball season! 


Start out by browning one pound of ground beef (ground turkey or chicken would work great in this!) along with one medium diced onion.  Drain the beef and then add 3 Tablespoons of taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of water.  Drain and rinse one can of black beans and stir in.  Heat until the beans are cooked through, then remove from heat.  I added in a handful of cheese at this point just to make it creamy and dreamy. 


Put a large spoonful (about 1/4 cup of the mixture) onto a flour tortilla and top with cheese.  Then for good measure, go back and add a little more cheese, and then grate some more and sneak a bite.  Then accidentally drop some in the dog bowl, wonder where all your cheese went, and run to the store for more.


Roll up your burritos and make sure you fold in the sides so none of the goodness gets out during cooking.  I like to roll up all my burritos as this point so that the cooking goes faster and I can clean up while they are grilling….Ok I totally lied about that last part.  And those are my knuckles, but they are looking incredibly freaky at this moment…ignore.


Then cook your burritos on either a Foreman Grill, a griddle, hot pan, or the oven.  I use the grill for sake of time and not heating the whole entire house, and feeling like I’m starting to experience “the change.”  After you cook them, either devour right then, or freeze/refrigerate for later!

Beef & Bean Burritos
printable recipe
makes 10 burritos
1 pkg (10) flour tortillas
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cups cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
salt/pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno
3 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 cup water

1.  Heat a pan to medium heat, and sauté the onion in the olive oil until onions begin to get soft.  Add in the hamburger and cook until done.  Drain and return to the pan.  Add the taco seasoning, water, jalapeno, and black beans.  Cook until heated through.  Add in optional cheese at this point and remove from heat.

2.  Put a large spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of the mixture onto a flour tortilla and roll up while folding the edges in.  Cook on a hot grill or griddle until brown on both sides. 

Freezing Instructions:
For precooked burritos to be warmed in the microwave –
Grill burritos then wrap in aluminum foil and freeze/refrigerate.  When ready to eat, remove from foil, wrap in paper towel and microwave.
For uncooked burritos – Prepare the filling as directed, then make the burritos but do not grill them.  Wrap each individual burrito in foil and freeze.  Bake in 350° for 20-30 minutes from frozen. 
*Another option is to freeze the burritos on a cookie sheet then store them all in a gallon Ziploc bag
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hot Crab Dip

Crab Dip 1

I have made this dip several times and had it posted on a previous blog I co-wrote on.  I bust it out every once in awhile, and people are constantly texting me for the recipe.  I have tweaked it a bit, but I think I've got it now.  For those of you that know already, I go to the local Chinese restaurant and have them fry me won ton strips almost like chips and used to walk out with 2 big bags for $4!! Yes you heard me right, four dollars!  *This has since changed...not sure if it's due to the fact that they realized they should charge more, or the fact that all of my town has gone in asking for chips, but it's now $3 for one bag (which is plenty)... I say don't blame me, blame the dip.  I cannot be held responsible for a sudden shortage in cream cheese, crab meat, and wontons.  Buying the "chips" is significantly cheaper than me making my own (which you could very well do, and would probably be healthier)  Enjoy!

Crab Dip 2

Hot Crab Dip
printable recipe
serves 12 people

8 oz. cream cheese softened
3/4 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp. mayo
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. diced jalapenos (I think I added more than that just because I like things spicy)
1 tsp. seasoned salt (you could also use Old Bay)
cracked pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce
1/2 tsp. Paprika
2 (6 oz.) cans white crab, drained
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Blend first 4 ingredients until smooth, add salt, paprika, pepper, and hot sauce.  Blend.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bake @ 350 for 20 min.  I put more mozzarella cheese on top for the last 5 minutes of baking. 
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

CR Pancakes 1
Oh sweet baby Jesus these things were quite possibly the best thing I have eaten in a very long time.  A very long time I tell ya'.  With the hubs out of town, I had my little sisters (in-law) over for a slumber party and had these on the menu for breakfast.  Timothy isn't a big breakfast man, and to be honest I like more of a savory breakfast, but one of the little sistas has a major sweet tooth.  Major.  So I knew these would be the way to her heart.  She is hilarious, with a great wit and sense of humor.  When a 12 year old looks at you after one bite and says, "if I'm ever in the hospital I want this to be my last meal," you know you've got a winner.  It does take awhile, but the results are amazing! An honestly we both agreed that you could use the pancake batter recipe and have great pancakes on their own!  Before I give you the recipe though, you have to look at this eye candy...

CR Pancakes 2
CR Pancakes 3
CR Pancakes 4
CR Pancakes 5
CR Pancakes 6

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
printable recipe
makes 6 pancakes
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Cinnamon Roll Filling
1/2 cup softened butter, almost melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon


4 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a squeeze bottle (I used an old mustard bottle) or small zip baggie and set aside. You don't want this to remain super-liquified. It's best if it becomes a consistency similar to toothpaste.

2.  In a medium, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter and cream cheese until melted. Whisk together until smooth; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract; set aside.
3.  Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes to "sour".

4.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.  If not consistency you like, add a splash more milk.

5.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet, and cook for a minute to let the bottom set up.  Squeeze a spiral of the filling on top of each pancake.  When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, about 3-4 minutes more.  Transfer to baking sheet or platter and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. 

6.  When ready to serve, spoon warmed glaze onto the top of each stack.
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taco Seasoning

taco seasoning1
If you have ever looked at the ingredients on the back of a packet of taco seasoning (or if you're like me you avoided looking for years), you may or may not have noticed that there are a lot of funky-named ingredients on the back of the package.  Not to mention the sodium...Oy Vey!  Now, I know that a package of taco seasoning is cost efficient.  As a cheap college student, and newlywed, I figured out where to cut costs.  And taco seasoning was one of them.  Not only was it cheap, but give me something in which I just need to add water and I'll take that any day!  So before you start pumping your fist at the computer and screaming about how I am "out of touch with reality" and "who the heck has time to make something like that?", I have good news for really truly can make your own taco seasoning and you can keep it in your cabinet for quick access.  Oh, and you just have to add doesn't get much easier.

taco seasoning2

Taco Seasoning
printable recipe
makes about 6 servings

4 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. paprika
3 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne

Mix seasoning and store in airtight container for future use.  To make taco meat, brown 1 pound of hamburger.  Drain.  Stir in 3 Tbsp. of the seasoning and add 2/3 cup water.  Cook until combined and thickened. 

**I modified this recipe because I like to chop up 1 small onion and sauté it with the burger.  If your kiddos don't like onion, grate some in they'll never know!  But if you absolutely can't stand onions but like the flavor it adds, then add an extra teaspoon of onion powder to your mix.

Slightly adapted from Annie's Eats
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Queso Chicken Penne

queso chicken penne
Let me start off by apologizing for what could possibly be the worst picture in the history of food blog pictures.  Not only was/is the lighting in my house horrible but while I was trying to get “just one good shot” my dear hubby was standing in the background moaning and groaning because he was starving.  Geez.  I have learned through blogging that the worst thing you can do with a dish is plate it up while it is still crazy hot.  All it is going to do is run all over the plate.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Sorry, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my hungry husband for the sake of the blog.  And thus the ugly picture was born.  But while the picture was less than stellar, let me tell you the pasta was FAB. When the hubs requested it 3 days later, I knew we had a keeper. 
queso chicken penne2

Queso Penne Pasta
printable recipe
makes one 9x13 casserole dish or 2 square casserole dishes

1 lb. penne pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (leave some seeds for heat)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 tsp. salt (more to taste)
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 cups shredded cheese of choice (I used a Mex-blend)
1 can Rotel
4 cups shredded chicken

1.  Heat the oven to 350° and spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray (I separated this dish into two smaller casserole dishes and froze one for future use)

2.  Cook the pasta according to the directions for al dente.  Drain and set aside 

3.  In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onion and peppers until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes.  Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt and cook until spices become pungent. 

4.  Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to cook the flour taste out.  Gradually whisk in the milk and stir until smooth.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to thicken.  Turn heat to low and add the cream cheese and a handful of the shredded cheese.   Whisk until completely melted.  Stir in the can of Rotel. 

5.  Mix the chicken and cooked pasta and pour into prepared casserole dish.  Pour the sauce over the top, moving the mixture around slightly to let the sauce run through the pasta.  You can mix it all together if you prefer.  Top with remaining shredded cheese. 

6.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until bubbling.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Adapted from Evil Shenanigans
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy…It’s all about the technique!

So biscuits and gravy isn’t quite a light summer dish, but my husband and I love having breakfast for dinner so this works perfectly when I’m in a hurry.  Some people have trouble making biscuits and gravy because either their gravy turns out lumpy, runny, bland, etc.  And while there are many techniques to making biscuits and gravy, I have found that this works best for me.  Hopefully you will find it helpful because this isn’t really a recipe, it’s just a more of a process.
raw biscuits
First we have to start with the biscuits.  Let me preface by saying there is NOTHING wrong with canned biscuits.  In fact, when I am in a hurry, or if they are on sale and I have a coupon I’ll snatch some up!  But these are my favorite biscuits.  Timothy says that they are better than canned and really taste homemade.  You really think I’d slave over some biscuits??  Hush your mouth!  These are what I like to call in-betweensies.  Halfway between canned, and slaving your sweaty, flour covered self off in the kitchen (sorry for the mental picture)…I mix, knead, and roll out….wait for it….Bisquick.  Yes you heard me.  Get some Bisquick, and use the recipe for cut biscuits on the box.  Trust me on this one.  And you don’t need a fancy biscuit cutter, just use a drinking glass!  Making the biscuits takes me about 5 extra minutes.  And I happen to think that 5 extra minutes is worth it.
Raw and Sage
Next we need to cook the sausage.  Biscuits and gravy don’t need to be fancy. Seriously people, it’s milk gravy and pork.  There’s not much more you can do to class it up.  But if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll put in about a half palm-full of sage.  It just adds a lot of flavor and you can buy the super cheap sausage, no one will notice.  Cook up the sausage until it looks like this…
cooking sausage
Notice how in the first picture it looks like enough sausage to feed an army? Well that’s because these pics were taken on two separate occasions.  The first in which we had friends over and I needed enough to feed three boys (my husband included) that I swear are still growing.  This last picture is from the most recent time, with one package of sausage.
After the sausage is finished cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan.  DO NOT drain the sausage.  This is the biggest mistake people make.  You lose the grease that you need to make the gravy, and lose the flavor in the process.
Once you have removed the sausage you should have about 1/4 cup of grease left.  Now here’s where it gets tricky.  Use a cheapo sausage like me and you’ll probably have about 1/4 cup of grease.  Use an expensive sausage that is very lean and you could have significantly less grease.  See what I meant when I said this recipe was hard to write??  Anywho…the key to making your gravy is you want equal parts flour and grease.  To make a tasty gravy you need to cook the flour and grease together for a few minutes so that you get rid of that chalky flour taste.  Turn the burner on medium heat and sprinkle in your flour.   Here is where you need to use your judgment.  I wouldn’t suggest dumping 1/4 flour in…just do a little at a time.  Whisk together the grease and flour and you should have a thick mixture that is bubbly.  If it is forming gigantic clumps it’s too much flour (so add some butter to even out)…if it looks like water, add some more flour.  It should stay together in the center of the pan like this, but also spread out a little on its own when you stop whisking.  Trust me, the more you make this the better you will get at it!
cooking flour2
So while you are letting your flour/grease mixture cook for about 5 minutes (not too high, we don’t want to burn it!!) dump in a ton of cracked black pepper.  You can always add more later but here is where I add mine in…again, about a half palm-full.  I think this makes a difference because it helps the pepper flavor cook into the gravy instead of just seasoning the gravy at the end.  Make sure your heat is set to medium (maybe a little lower if you are using a cast-iron skillet, those suckers retain some heat!) and start to slowly whisk in your milk.  You want to whisk while you are pouring it in so you don’t scald the milk.  The gravy will keep thickening because of the flour and you  just keep whisking in the milk and cooking it until it gets to the consistency you would like.  Again, this is a slow process.  Gravy made with love.  And grease.  Seriously is there anything better??
And it will be beautiful, and bubbly, and you can add in more pepper if you are feeling crazy.  Then stir your sausage back in and take those amazing biscuits out of the oven, break one apart (or two, or three, or even four. My growing boy would suggest stopping at 4 though, otherwise you have to move buttons on pants, and it isn’t pretty) and spoon some of your gravy over the top.  Then put your feet up and enjoy the awesomeness of this gravy.  Well worth your time in my opinion!
A few tips: Don’t add any salt until after you add the sausage back in.  Sometimes it need salt, sometimes it doesn’t.  Also I usually do things in this order and it comes out just right…Turn on the oven, cut the biscuits, cook the sausage, put biscuits in the oven, make the gravy while biscuits are cooking, stuff your face.

Biscuits and Gravy
printable recipe
yields approx. 8 biscuits and gravy

1 lb. sausage
1/4 cup flour (approx.)
cracked black pepper
salt (optional)
2 cups milk (approx.)
8 biscuits

Crumble and cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until browned.  Remove sausage from pan, and leave drippings.  Whisk in flour until dissolved and continue to let cook for 5 minutes.  Add in pepper to taste.  Gradually whisk in milk and cook gravy until thick and bubbly.  Stir sausage back in and season with more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over hot biscuits.  Refrigerate leftovers.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update on Couponing

Well, I tried it...more than once.  And while I'm not extreme, I have definitely filled our pantry and saved a lot of money in the process.  For those of you out there that are considering using coupons I figured I would come up with some Peaks and Pits for you.  I'm no expert, but I have gotten better about it and more organized, which saves me A LOT of time.  Will I be able to do this consistently? Probably not once school starts...but for me it's a challenge and I actually enjoy it.  Gasp!

  • Having a well-stocked pantry before school starts back up
  • Stocking up on items I need for my frozen food frenzy in October
  • Not having to run to the store and pay a ridiculous price for something I really need for a recipe
  • Saving $ - In two trips I've paid $160 for about $320 worth of groceries.  My husband commented the other day, "dang our bank account is looking better and better what do you think that's from?"...hmmmmm maybe it's the clipping, and the organizing, and the not running down the road to the store because we have to have guacamole with our dinner and spending $25 on the ingredients because the local store is price gouging. 
  • The skills I'm perfecting will come in handy with kids someday
Pits (more like rants):
  • Extreme couponing (like the tv show) is NOT real life.  In real life, you go to the store and you have to buy other things as well.  My husband eats sandwiches for lunch, while I try to buy deli meat when it's on sale, I still have to get some about once a week. And cheese, and bread, and milk and other things that are on sale.  So yes, while I could probably go to the store and save 98% and walk out with 500 bottles of Powerade, I think I'll pass.  Plus who needs that much Powerade??? Which leads me to my next "pit"
  • I hate it when people clear out the shelves.  It drives me absolutely INSANE.  I live about25 minutes from the large town nearby that has a lot of the stores that double coupons and has a Walgreens.  Just because you can get the body wash for free doesn't mean that you need all 100 that are on the shelf and in the back of the store.  I've learned that ads come out on Tuesday nights.  Apparently if you are not in the store by 6 am the next day (day after Thanksgiving style) you will not get that body wash.  And honestly I don't need body wash enough to haul my happy butt from store to store trying to get my hands on it.  This my friends, is for those that have no life, and have probably cleared out the shelves in those other stores anyway.  Why waste my gas?
  • The TV show has people in a tizzy! Disclaimer: I have always desired to use coupons.  My mom used them growing up and I mentioned using them when we got married then didn't get around to it...i.e. got lazy.  So before you jump on me and say "well you only coupon because of the show"'re only partially right...The show intrigued me, and a lovely book I ordered taught me the skills I need to know to save $.  The book is realistic.  Unless you live in the city and have the time during the day, every day, to check local stores, there is NO WAY you will see more than 30-50% savings.  I hit the 60% mark my first trip...but haven't since and it doesn't bother me! Yes I said it.  I'm really happy that the time I have spent clipping, organizing, and making my shopping list has led to 50% savings in groceries.  Pumped.  Elated.  Dancing while I put away my groceries...
  • Another reason why the show isn't real life...I'm going to say this in the kindest way possible...The stores are letting them get away with big no-no's for publicity.  If you look on most coupons it says "Limit 4 Per Transaction"...And a lot of stores say "Limit 3 per customer" for items that are on super sale.  So these stores that are letting people come in and buy 150 boxes of Excedrin (which seriously, I know they donate a lot of that stuff, but golly if I had that many headaches maybe I would rethink couponing) are really just doing it for the show. 
  • People stealing inserts out of the newspapers.  Seriously? Seriously?? If you can't pay $1.50 for a newspaper and STEAL the inserts out of are seriously bordering on Kathy Bates in Misery.  I don't pay for my inserts, but I sure as heck don't steal them!  I have family and friends that get the Sunday paper that don't coupon.  But when I do need to go buy a Sunday paper, I would like for my inserts to be there, it's not too much to ask I don't think...
So there you have thoughts on couponing.  I'll probably keep doing it, but I'm not going to devote my life to it like a full time job.  I just have too many other things I enjoy...
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy Tuna Salad + Why It's Hard to "Recipe"

Yes I'm alive.  To all 7 of you who were wondering, things have just been a little crazy around here lately.  I've been working on building my invitation business and between that, coaching, and trying to keep the house clean, I haven't had much time to "recipe"...And speaking of that, I am finding it more and more difficult to write recipes.  I struggle because most of the things I make on a daily basis don't involve recipes, I just "know" what is good.  That's the thing about cooking...I really feel like anyone can cook with a recipe, but it does take time to develop skills in order to know what flavors taste good together.  I am still learning that every day, and it will never get old.  I didn't go to culinery school, but I can tell you what my grandma did...problem is, my grandma doesn't go by recipes either.  So therein-lies the problem. 

I don't bake a lot of sweets, it just isn't my thing.  I love salty savory dishes, and by the time I sufficiently stuff myself on my meal, there is literally no room for dessert.  Although there is that sick twisted game I play with myself when it comes to snacks, like "oh I just ate that entire bag of salty chips, I have to balance it out with something sweet"...and back and forth I go until I'm unbuttoning my pants.  It ain't pretty... Anyway, back to the savory dishes...with savory, I don't really feel like a recipe is absolutely necessary.  Unlike desserts, where if you add the tiniest bit too much salt you end up with chocolate chip cookies that make your dad cringe.  Just a little side note: If you are 10 years old and making cookies alone for the first attention.  1/2 teaspoon and 1/2 cup are NOT interchangeable when it comes to salt.  Thankfully I have the best dad, that said..."Yummmmm, but I think they might be a little on the salty side"...Oh well.  Lesson learned!

To get back on track, this is why I enjoy making savory meals (hence the name of this blog)...I throw out a dessert every once in awhile, but it's rare.  And it usually involves something seasonal, like berries,or happens to fall around a holiday.  The reason I love savory dinners are because there's not much science to it, except my tastebuds.  So I'm going to try REALLY hard to write recipes for my favorite things, things I make probably a little differently each time.  But don't be surprised if there is more emphasis on technique and taste, than actual recipes.  It's really all about how it tastes after all. 

Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Printable Recipe

Yield: about 2 sandwiches
1 can chunk light tuna in water (drained)
1 hard boiled egg
1/4 cup mayonaisse
salt and pepper to taste
splash of lemon juice

tomato (if you don't notice the tomato in the picture that's because it is missing.  Because I am holding out for fresh tomatos from the garden.  It's very difficult)
extra mayo
1.  Peel the egg and chop it up.  I like the egg very finely chopped, so if I'm making a big batch I usually pulse the eggs in the food processor.  If I am making 1-2 sandwiches, I usually press my fork into the chopped egs to mash them up.
2.  Mix all the rest of the ingredients together, adding more of each depending on your taste.  If you have a little bit of celery this is delicious finely chopped and added in.  Refridgerate until ready to use.
3.  Make your sandwich.
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Extreme Couponing...Could I Tackle It?

Seriously, have you guys seen the episodes on TLC?? If you haven't, the next time you pass by the channel, stop and watch.  Even for just five minutes, please, watch the train wreck.  It's so completely entertaining and yet really intriguing all at the same time.  I find myself saying things under my breath like, "Holy Cow, that woman is nutso." and "seriously, who needs 100 bags of croutons??"  But then I also catch my nerd brain thinking, "I could soooooo do this."  Definitely not to the extent that all of these women (+ 1 man I've seen) go to, but even just a little bit to save some money.  For me, being a math teacher, I like numbers.  Numbers are fun.  Say it with me! No?? Ok... I guess to me this whole idea of couponing is a challenge.  A challenge to see if I can beat the system and save money. 

One of the major rules of couponing is not to buy things just because they are on sale.  Ummmmmm, I'm the girl that used to buy (key word used to!) two of the same shirt at Gap in different colors just for the "buy one get one 1/2 off"...I know.  I'm ashamed.  So I was a little worried about having that problem.  But honestly, I haven't done that in years.  You see, there's something that happens when you get married.  It's a little thing called a financial conscience.  And I have one.  I get horrible buyers remorse now, way more than ever before.  So I don't think I would have any problem not buying 50 bags of Cheetos just because I have a coupon for it. 

I think the one thing that attracts me to it is the giving aspect of it.  Some of these women go straight from the grocery store to the food pantry and drop off food that they have just purchased gotten for practically pennies.  It would be an amazing feeling to not only be able to help out those in need, but just to be able to give family and friends a few things now and then.  If you can get it for free why not?

Now there's a science to it, and I'm definitely still learning, but I think it's safe to say that this wifey is officially going to attempt it.  I plan to start small though...very small.  Because seriously who gets 50 bags of free cat food without even having a cat?!?
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

2-Way Kabobs

While I've been doing the Boot Camp Challenge, I have been trying to incorporate some healthier alternatives to my cooking, while still giving the hubs what he desires...meat and potatoes.  So I came up with this marinade, and just changed one ingredient in the marinade to switch from beef to chicken, and it was fantastic!

A few tips to the perfect kabobs.  And look, I'm no expert, but I have seen a few things here or there on the food network...and the fab chefs on that channel have been doing this stuff for a long time, and I'm a very trusting individual.  Makes for a great relationship.  First thing is if you are planning on using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them first.  This will ensure that the skewers won't burn.  Yes, I soaked my skewers in my develled egg tray.  Don't hate.  I'm resourceful.

Next you want to mix up the marinade...super simple just whisk it together.  I believe that this one was the beer marinade.

Once you are finished mixing the marinade, pour it over your chopped meat and veggies.  The bottom container is our Foodsaver quick marinade container (love this! marinade in about 15 minutes, what would normally take 12-24 hrs!) and the top bag is the chicken.  I knew that the chicken would not take as much time to marinade as the beef. 

In the meantime, I parboiled some red potatoes for a few minutes, then cooled and quartered them.  Once Timothy was home from the farm and got the grill going (it's a fine art) I skewered them and had them ready to grill.  I never did get a good picture of the chicken kabobs (there's nothing good about the lighting at 9 pm) but they were WONDERFUL! There was something about the honey and the grilled pineapple that was killer!  Hope you enjoy these kabobs, I'm interested to see what vegetables you choose to use!

Easy Steak Kabobs
printable recipe
makes 6-10 kabobs

Marinade Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 cloves garlic minced
cracked black pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)

Whisk all ingredients together and pour over 1 lb of chunked sirloin along with vegetables of your choice.  I used red onion, green pepper, and red potatoes.  Marinade for 12+ hours.

**For chicken kabobs, replace the worcestershire sauce with honey, and the spicy brown mustard with dijon mustard.  With the chicken kabobs instead of potatoes I used pineapple. Yum!
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Crazy Life + Updates on Getting Clean and Staying Clean!

Whew life is super crazy right now.  I thought that once basketball season was over I would be ready to rock and roll when it came to cooking, cleaning, and all that jazz.  Turns out, I decided to do another round of boot camp.  Crazy I know, but my butt and thighs are thanking me, and so are my pants that were getting too tight.  So my schedule right now is pretty much the same as it was during basketball.  But I am happy to report that the hubs and I are working together to keep a spotless cleaner house.  We do laundry each day, we pick up after ourselves (what a concept), and we take time on the weekends to work together to get some stuff done. And for that, we are happier, and closer than ever before...

Today I am thankful for my husband, who I heard doing dishes at 5:30 am.  LOVE HIM!!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor - Ecclesiastes 4:9
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Friday, March 4, 2011

New Additions

Nope, not the additions some of you are thinking about.  But there will be some new additions to this blog starting in the next few weeks.  Monday the 14th, my great friend Tanna and I are starting the Boot Camp Challenge in Columbia.  I completed this challenge (twice, what was I thinking??) before I got married in 2009.  I absolutely loved it.  My roommate and other great friend Kelly got me hooked on it after she completed the program.  Now don't get me wrong, it's grueling.  But the group workouts and the fact that I paid money for the program really help me to push through it.  And I'm hoping for the same results as I had the last time. 

Here's the conflict I have.  We all know how "down home, meat and potatoes" my lovely husband is.  But I don't have much of a choice when it comes to food during this program.  Not only do I have to eat healthier, but I have to log it.  Online.  For the instructor to see.  And if I don't, well let's just say it ain't pretty.  I can't be making creamy casseroles and using my beloved cream cheese in every dish anymore.  While I am a firm believer in all things in moderation, let's get real, it's hard to "moderate" when you have a steak and mashed potatoes sitting in front of you.  So I'm going to be adding some healthier meals to the blog.  I know that healthy can be delicious, but the last time I did the boot camp program before we got married, I was still living on my own.  This time will be different because I still love to cook for my husband, so this may be more difficult to balance.

Now, I know what you are all thinking.  Make him eat what you are eating.  And if he doesn't like it, tough.  There in lies the problem.  He likes "big salad night", so that's a plus.  But he likes his salad with tons of ranch dressing...negative.  He likes fish, such as salmon and tilapia.  But he likes it with a side of something really starchy and about 10 garlic cheddar biscuits.  Yes the man can eat about 10 by himself.  He doesn't mind roasted pork, or chicken breast.  But he likes it with a huge side of mashed potatoes and rolls. 

I married a farm boy.  I knew what I was getting all along, this is no surprise.  But I'm challenging myself to incorporate healthy options while still making my husband's stomach happy.  In the meantime, I'm doing a lot of research and jotting down recipes.  To my blogger friends, do you have any ideas on how to be healthy but not sacrifice taste????
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

Ok, so it has definitely been awhile.  Finally done with basketball and the craziness of the past two months.  I am excited to get back in the kitchen and work on some new stuff.  I will admit, the recipes may not be as frequent, but I hope to get back in the swing of things very soon.  On to the casserole! 

For some reason, my husband just cannot get enough of this casserole.  It's really good, trust me, but while I'd much rather go for a great salad with feta cheese he could eat this every other day (with meat and potatoes being the other days of course.) 

Chicken Spaghetti
Printable Recipe

Yield: 10-12 servings
3 cups cooked chicken
3 cups broken spaghetti
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 jar (4 oz) pimentos, drained
2 cups chicken broth (I use the broth from my chicken)
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make three cups. If you don't have a cut up fryer chicken, you can substitute any chicken pieces (sometimes I just use breast meat).  Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth (or in boiling water) until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except 1 cup sharp cheddar.  Spread mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top and bake for another 15 minutes.  Another option is to go ahead and sprinkle with cheese just be careful the cheese doesn't burn, if it starts to turn, just cover with foil.

Freezing Instructions:
Prepare casserole, add cheese to top of casserole but do not bake.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze up to three months.  Allow casserole to defrost and bake as directed.

Adapted from All Recipes
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Thursday, January 20, 2011


Nothing screams comfort to me like a giant loaf of meat.  And while every time I hear the word meatloaf my mind instantly goes into "I would do anything for love" mode (i.e. the Dr. Pepper commercial), the only meatloaf going on in my house is the edible kind.  Even though my mom had their old record, and I'm kind of wishing she kept it, no lie.  Any who...This is the way my mom made meatloaf.  She never strayed from this recipe, and that's because it worked for us.  I know a lot of people are die hard fans of using bread as the binding agent, but there's something about soggy bread that completely freaks me out.  That's why bread pudding is banned from my house.  Food has always been a texture thing for me, which is why it is hard for me to swallow things like sushi, raw oysters, and fried mushrooms (morel mushrooms are a different story, good gracious those are good.  I'm talking about the fried whole mushrooms you get at old diners.)  My friends think I'm weird and we can all laugh about it but everyone has their quirks about food, and soggy bread is mine.  So for our meatloaf, we use oatmeal.  I know, I know, it's not traditional, but it's good! Darn good.  And I just might make a believer out of you yet!
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

21 Days *Update*

So, I know you are all on the edge of your seats with this one...Did I made the goal??? Yes! Buuuutttttttt, not quite in the time I gave myself.  With a family funeral, Christmas, New Years, basketball practice, games, and overall craziness I didn't get it done by January 1.  But, as I sit here typing I can say that the living room and bedroom are awesomely clean, and the kitchen and bathroom are clean (minus wiping down the counters and sweeping.)  So I would have to say that I got finished with the 21 day (+5) challenge and now I'm trying to tackle the idea that I can keep it clean for 1 year.  So far so good!!
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chicken Club Sandwich w/ Chipotle Mayo

I love to look at food blogs, but I don't necessarily want to be seeing a new gourmet recipe every time I log onto my computer and see my blog roll.  Sometimes it is nice to see something simple that inspires me to use the things I already have in my refrigerator.  That was the case with this recipe.  There aren't a lot of measurements, hello, it's just a sandwich.  But let me tell you, this was one ah-ma-zing sandwich.  A little bit of spice, the cool avocados to help that out, and a healthy balance of lean chicken with fatty bacon!  My only complaint was that the sandwich was too tall to fit in my mouth!  It was a pretty messy dinner, so if I make this in the future, I will definitely be pounding out and flattening my chicken breasts to make for easier eating! 

Start by making the chipotle mayo that will go on top of the sandwich.  If you haven't used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce before, give them a try.  They are a smoky, barbeque-like jalapeno pepper.  I use them in a great beef roast for tacos (I'll post that someday...)  The only problem is that I rarely use the whole can.  I either cover the can and put the extras in the fridge or you can freeze them in a Ziploc bag and just break off the amount you need in the future.  If only I had that much freezer space! 

Place 1-2 chipotle peppers with 1/2 cup of mayonaisse in a small food processor.  Add an extra spoonful of the great sauce from the can.  You cannot mess this up I promise!  Run the processor until there aren't any large chunks of chipotle left.  Set aside.

At this point I cooked the bacon and the chicken at the same time.  I cooked the bacon on medium-low on the stove top and grilled the chicken on the trusty Foreman.  While both of these were cooking I put together a tray of the toppings!

After the bacon is cooked place it on a paper towel lined plate and keep some of the drippings in the pan to toast the bread.  Add a little butter or olive oil to the pan and melt to combine.  Place the Ciabatta rolls cut side down into the pan and toast.  If you want to cut fat or calories you can always toast the buns in a toaster oven or don't do it at all.  It really won't change the structure of the sandwich, I just thought it felt more diner-esque.  And yes I just made up that word. 

Next, assemble by spreading some of the chipotle mayo on the bottom of the roll.  Then layer with lettuce, chicken, bacon, avocado, tomato, onion, and top of bun spread with chipotle mayo.

Yes that's Timothy's sandwich in the front.  I only put about 2-3 of the smallest pieces of bacon on mine in the back.  That man can flat out eat a huge meal, it's really insane!  Insane in the membrane I tell ya!

We've got a runaway onion here...and you'll notice that now the lettuce is under the chicken.  Minor misstep!  It really doesn't matter how you stack it, this is one awesome sandwich!  Side note: I peeled off the filmy onion skin that you see there after I took the picture.  But I was so hungry I didn't have enough energy to take more pictures after that!

Notice the sandwich in the front versus the one in the back.  I love me some veggies.  Timothy only gets along with lettuce, cucumber and apparently avocado.  You should see us at restaurants when the salads come before the meal.  It's like a thirty second swap meet.  Serious business. 

And this is what you see when you cut into this bad boy.  Now can you see why it may have been a little too tall to eat?
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