Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday: Eating Out

Hi Everyone!
Our original plan was to make cheese fondue for today, however this meal will posted tomorrow. Today we are taking advantage of the Friday night itch and going out to eat thanks to a handful of good coupons!

Tomorrow I will be posting the recipe and pictures for the cheese fondue and the best part is that it will be posted and made from the road.......

What? How can that be? From the road?


Yes. Well, not the road more from a hotel room.

Sarah (Frugal Table) and I are actually making this meal in our hotel room to save our families from having to spend too much money on bad hotel food.
We have precooked the chicken and will be using a microwave to warm it.
We have cut up the veggies and made the bread.

The fondue will be made via electric fondue pot in our hotel room, pretty nifty.

I will post pictures and recipe tomorrow!

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thursday: Baked Potato Soup

Easy. Hearty. Veggies. Freezes well.


What you will need:
3 potatoes
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup onion
3 tbs butter
3tbs flour
salt/pepper
thyme
4 cups of half/half (or milk)
1 cup chicken broth
Bacon (optional)
Corn (optional)
shredded cheese



How to make this soup:

1. If you are going to make this with bacon, go ahead and cook up some slices and set them aside to cool.

2. Clean your potatoes and throw them into the microwave to cook. Keeping the skin on will make them have extra nutrients.
After they are soft, let them cool and then cut them up into bit sized pieces. Set aside.

3. Cut up your onion, celery, and carrots.

4. In a big soup pan put 3 tbs butter, melt. Add in your veggies and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.



5. Add in your 3 tbs flour, salt, pepper, thyme. Stir.



6. Add in your 4 cups milk/half and half. Stir and let thicken. It will take about 3-5 minutes.

7. Add in your 1 cup of chicken broth,potatoes, and your cheese. I used mozzerella simply because we had it leftover!




8. Add in your potatoes and let simmer for a good long while. Perhaps, 30 minutes.
Stir occasionally and let the smell fill the kitchen.

9. Serve with whole-wheat rolls and home made applesauce.

YUM.


We did not use bacon this time and this meal was still really good. If you want to use the bacon simply break it into pieces once cooked and sprinkle it into the soup. For a crunch we actually used corn and found that very nice as well.
A bit of sour cream is good on top of this. :)

FREE DR. PEPPER (or diet)

Just wanted to bring this to your attention real quick. On our sidebar you will find a place that you can click on to get you to coupons.com. If you click on it you will be able to find several great coupons, and I wanted to bring just a couple to your attention.

FREE DR. PEPPER (2 liter of 20 oz.- you pick) or Diet Dr. Pepper. ( I already got my coupon and finished the Dr. Pepper)

Also, hot coupons for you diaper mommies out there. $5 coupon and $3 coupon for huggies. (can be printed twice each)

Check it out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wednesday: Sweet Potato Biscuit Sloppy Joes

This was a fun recipe, I got the idea out of Country Living Magazine and then modified it a bit. Instead of making my own sloppy joe sauce I used canned because I got it for free with coupons. (Whoop!)

What you will need for the biscuits:
One sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed
Flour, 3 cups sifted
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Salt, pinch
Buttermilk (milk and lemonjuice works as a substitute)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
pinch of cayenne pepper


For the sloppy joes:
Hamburger, cooked and drained
Sloppy Joe sauce


What to do:

1. Bake/microwave your sweet potato until soft. Let it cool and then peel it and mash up the good stuff. Set aside in a bowl.

2. Take 1 cup of milk and add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into it, this makes it work as buttermilk. Add this to the mashed sweet potato.


3. Mix together in a bowl all of the dry ingredients: flour, cayenne pepper, baking powder, sugar, salt.

4. Add it all together in a big bowl.



5. Cut up the stick of butter and cut it into the bowl.
In a mixer or using a pastry cutter add the butter and stir/mix really well.



6. When blended well, take out, put on a flour surface and knead. Roll them out.


7. Cut (I use the top of a glass) your biscuits and place them onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, for 20 minutes.



While they are baking cook your meat, drain and add the sauce.



Serve the sloppy joe fixings on top of the sweet potato biscuits.


It was a big hit here! We ate with salad and followed up with a bite of whole wheat brownies.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tuesday: Portibella Mushroom Pizza

My sister gave me this idea and swore that even people who do not like mushrooms will enjoy this meal. I, being anti-mushroom, decided to give it a try. I have to tell you that it did not convince me to suddenly love all things mushroom, but it was pretty darn good!

Here is what you need:
Portibella Mushrooms
Pesto
Mozzerella cheese
Marinara sauce
Suggested toppings: bacon and pineapple

In the picture above I forgot the marinara sauce....sorry!


What to do:

1. Clean your mushrooms, take a moment to admire them, and place them on a baking sheet.




2. Turn them upside down, put marinara sauce on them, followed by your pesto sauce.



3. Sprinkle with cheese.


4. Add toppings like you would a pizza. We used bacon and pineapple....yum!


Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 350.
Enjoy......this would also be pretty good cut up and put onto foccocia bread....

ps..my two year old son did NOT like this. I think it was the pesto sauce, a bit strong for him. Just a heads up to all the parents out there looking for kid friendly meals.

Monday: Ellie's Manicotti

My sister is visiting and she whipped up an incredibly easy Manicotti tonight for us.

Here is what you will need:
Manicotti noodles
Ricotta Cheese (15 oz)
Egg (2)
Mozzerella cheese
Canned or homemade marinara/meat sauce



Here is what to do:
Pat your little sister on the back for cooking and let her know you are proud of her!

Ok, ok, for real.

1. Boil your noodles, don't overcook!
2. In the mean time beat two eggs in a bowl, stir in the ricotta cheese, add some oregano and mix it all together until creamy.





3. When the noodles are ready, drain and pour cold water over them. Stuff them real good!
4. Layer the noodles with sauce into a dish. Complete with shredded cheese and bake 30 minutes or so.



Serve with garlic bread and salad. We began with salad and bread just like at Olive Garden, and then served the pasta. This encouraged everyone to eat their greens!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guest Post: Great Uses for your Freezer

Although not everything can be frozen, the things that can sometimes require a little prep work. Here's some tips I've learnt over the years:

Casseroles
Okay, so you doubled your recipe and have made two casseroles - one for now and one for the freezer. But, you don't want all your casserole dishes in the freezer so what do you do?
Line the casserole dish with clear plastic wrap or foil and then spray with cookin spray. Place your casserole in the dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours until completely frozen. Remove from the freezer and take it out of the dish. Then tightly wrap the food in more plastic wrap/foil, label and place back in the freezer.
When you're ready to eat it take all the plastic wrap off, place back in the original dish and place in the fridge to defrost. Then cook!

Fruit/Veg
I love to have fresh produce around and sometimes I see great sales but I know we can't eat that much before it goes bad. Last week onions were $.79 for a 4LB bag at ALDI so I grabbed some, brought them home and chopped them up. I then put them on a baking tray and put them in the freezer for about 2 hours. You don't want them in there too long or they'll get freezer burn.
I pulled them out of the freezer and put them in a ziploc bag. I then threw them back in the freezer.
The advantage is that when you need some you can just go and grab a few and they're not all stuck together in a big ball! I've also done it with peppers, blueberries and other fruits.

Ice Cubes
Want to make fun ice cubes for drinks? Add a small piece of fruit (strawberry, cranberry, blueberry etc) to an ice-cube tray and then add water. Freeze and then serve in drinks!

Looking for a bargain or good deal? www.mummydeals.org

Thanks to Clair for her great guest post in freezer meals. I hope that you got a few great ideas to use in your kitchen!

Clair runs her own blog over at MummyDeals. I check her blog out daily and love all of the frugal tips she offers! If you are into couponing or want to learn how (trust me, you want to learn how!).... check her out!

From our Kitchens To Yours

Tips on Menu Planning from the Meal Planning Mommies



Meal planning is:

Creating a flexible, livable schedule of family meals
Meant to take the stress out of dinner time and put the fun back in cooking family meals.
Going to help you a variety of healthier, cheaper, etc. meals based on your family’s needs.
Going to save you MONEY and TIME.
Individual to your family


What meal planning does not have to be:


A rigid calendar of meals
Meals that don’t suite your family’s tastes/lifestyle
Costly
Time consuming
Stressful


Key points to remember about meal planning:

1. Planning is great, but you
must remain flexible


Your plans may change that week, your tastes may change, save what you have and use it next week. Each week, I try to come up with a couple of meals that will take some time to cook, and then I make all the rest relatively easy. If I spend an hour cooking dinner one night, you can bet the next time I am only cooking for 15 minutes or so. :)

2. Plan according to what you already have, what is on sale and to your budget.


Make sure you have a few “staple” meals in the cupboard. Every week my family eats PB&J or grilled cheese for lunch at least once, and spaghetti dinner at least once. This is because we always have the ingredients on hand.


3. Variety is nice, but it’s okay to plan the same meal twice (or more!) a month- Example, weekly pizza night!

My husband loves chicken fried rice. I almost always have the ingredients in our house. On weeks when I buy chicken on sale you can bet that this one will be served that week. Finding a meal that

    your family loves + easy to prepare + Cheap to make = Meal Planning Staple Meal

    4. Grocery shopping must come AFTER meal planning

    You cannot effectively MEAL PLAN at the grocery store. We find it helpful to print off our downloadable grocery list each week and place it in a visible spot in the kitchen.

    Our grocery list serves three main purposes:

  • To Keep a running list in the kitchen. Our list makes it simple because you simply circle the much needed item on the list the moment it crosses your mind. This means that later, when peanut butter is for from your thoughts and you have already scraped the last bit out, it has already been circled on your list!

  • To help you effectively meal plan by circling the items you need for your menu. If you meal plan at the store you will buy things you do not need (hmm...snickers looks good this week) and spend money you don't need to spend (why was my total $200?). Then, you will get home and realize, "DOH! I forgot SUGAR!" and have to run back to the store later. :) (or is that is just me?)

  • To serve as a good reminder to make sure that your food choices are balanced. If you notice that there are a lot of processed foods circled on the list while there is a lack of circles in the fruit, vegetable, grains department it can serve as an encourager to plan more meals/snacks that use these items. Using a running grocery list can actually help you see your families eating habits and make changes for the better if needed.

5. Your meal plan should be VISIBLE so you stick to it

.Download a Free meal planner sheet at meal planning mommies, get a small white erase board for your refrigerator or create your own meal planner. If you don't write it down you will probably forget what you had planned to make. Then you will get to the middle of the week and think you need to eat out. (oh! that's just me too?) ;) It will also serve as a reminder to your family so you can avoid the “What's for Dinner?!” question.


6. You do not have to be a good cook to be a meal planner.
  • TRUST ME! There are lots of great resources available to give you ideas of how to create easycheap meals. USE THEM, your family will never know! At meal planning mommies we have a variety of ideas for you to choose from. From frugal to kid friendly and even ethnic recipes!


    Simple steps to becoming a meal planner:

Step 1: Create your menu


It is up to you whether you create a menu for only 1 meal a day or you plan all 3 meals. Do what works best for your family!


Here is an example of a 1 week dinner meal plan created by Alisha @ meal planning mommies:

Monday: Creepy Crawly Tuna Sandwiches
Tuesday: Bombalki
Wednesday: Country Bob's Burgers
Thursday: Hash brown Quiche
Friday: Split Pea Soup
Saturday: Ham and Cheese Tortillas (from our girl's weekend)
Sunday: Mexican Tortilla Skillet

Step 2: Create your Grocery List


You probably have an on going grocery list tacked to your fridge or in your purse. If not, feel free to download the free grocery list we have at meal planning mommies.
As you meal plan, you can circle the items that you need for your upcoming meals onto the list. This will help you stay focused at the grocery store and be more aware of what you actually do have hiding in your pantry that could be used for meals this week.


Step 3: Implement your Meal Plan


You will have a day this week when your meal plan may not fit into your schedule or you just don’t feel like cooking what is on your plan for dinner that night. Be flexible, but don’t go out and spend more $. Switch your days up and use a meal from a different day or cook a meal you have in the freezer.

Forget something at the grocery store? It's okay to substitute! Every cook has those moments when they start a recipe only to find that they do not have one major ingredient that they need to bring the whole recipe together. Don't you hate that? Here is a list of ingredients and some of their substitutes so you can finish a meal even if you are missing an ingredient. Feel free to print one off or save it to your files. Who knows, you might surprise yourself and make a delightful change to the recipe you never would have come up with otherwise!


Step 4: Love your Meal Plan


Enjoy the stress free dinner hour eating dinner with your family. Love that you are saving money in your budget because you are buying only what you need. Be proud that your family is eating healthier due to your planning.
You are a meal planning mommy!