Saturday, April 17, 2010

Family Fun Meal Idea


So this week, as I said we were eating out of the pantry! Which meant some not so glamorous meals. Not only did I have to get creative with my meals, I had to get creative on how to make it fun to eat peanut butter- yet again!


The night before we had this meal, my friend Ashley called and wanted to know if we wanted her leftover triple chocolate bundt cake. Ummmm.... yes! I used this to my advantage the next day!


We had peanut butter and apple roll ups with carrots/dip and strawberries. For dessert- chocolate cake!





On our deck, we spread out a blanket for a picnic, but that wasn't the best part!







WE HAD DESSERT FIRST!





Yup, I let my girls eat their sooo yummy chocolate cake first and then lunch second. I know, you may be thinking- well how did you get your girls to eat their lunch when they had cake first? It actually worked out perfect b/c while we were making our lunch, my daughter said- "I know... I know! Let's decorate the cake with strawberries!" So we decorated each piece of cake with strawberries, which was the perfect combination. Honestly, my girls got tired of the chocolate cake after awhile and started eating their lunches without me saying a word!

I want to challenge you to make one meal a week a "Family Fun Meal." These were just two ideas on how to do that.: Eat dessert first, and/or have a picnic! Every week we will try and post a Family Fun Meal Idea. This might be connected to a giveaway, or it might just be something we did that week to make our Family Meal Memorable!

Here are a few pictures of our Memorable Family Fun Meal.




How to Series: Freezing Green Beans

Grrr....I do not like wasting food! It is one of those top ten pet peeves for me. My family traveled to Texas last week and the day of the trip I cleaned out our fridge. I was able to save almost everything thanks to these little tips. Plus if you garden freezing is a great alternative to canning.

Step One: Wash your green beans, cut them how you like them, and boil them for two minutes.
hhh

Step Two: Set aside a bowl of VERY COLD water. This is for blanching the beans which will preserve them.


Step Three: Drain your beans, remove any that are brown or icky. You only want to freeze the healthy ones.


Step Four: Place your beans into the cold water. Let soak until completely cool.




Step Five: Drain the beans and bag them up! Place them in the freezer and enjoy when you come back from vacation.

Bonus~ You can do this exact same method with spinach.


Challenge: I get laughed at for this, but I encourage you to consider it. Yep, sure enough, plastic is "disposable". But, that does not mean that it should be. Rather than tossing your plastic freezer/sandwich baggies go ahead and wash them out to be used again. In three years I have bought two boxes of baggies. I wash, dry, and reuse mine until they wear out. Go for it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dining Out Deals

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!


In an effort to keep our site easy to navigate through, we have decided to make Fridays our special Dining out Deals Day. We will post new, and some running, restaurant/ fast food deals on each Friday. It's always a good deal to contact your restaurant before you go to make sure that they accept the coupon. Here's what we have for you today:

Auntie Anne's-Sign up for Pretzel Perks and become a V.I.P. (Very Important Pretzel-lover) and get a "Buy any one Pretzel, Pretzel Dog, or Stix and get a free Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel" coupon sent to your email. EXPIRES: Dependent on when you sign up. I think you get about 2 weeks to use the coupon form the day you sign up.
Boston Market-Choose from 3 different coupons to print off, including a $2 off of $10 coupon and a $4 off of $20 coupon. EXPIRES: May 13, 2010

Chilli's- Sign up for Chilli's email club here and get a coupon for a free order of chips and queso.

Jamba Juice: Buy One, Get One Free coupon- Buy any drink off the Jamba Juice menu and get one drink free with this coupon. Coupon expires April 25, 2010.


Del Taco- Sign up for their eclub for 2 free soft chicken tacos.

What other deals are out there mommas? If you know of any, please share. Come back again next Friday for more restaurant deals of the week.




Thursday, April 15, 2010

Frugal Friday: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & Cheesy Eggs

I decided to make chocolate chip pancakes, instead of regular pancakes because who doesn't like chocolate for dinner?! And honestly, don't you just get tired of regular pancakes!?


This is such a simple meal, all you need is:

Bisquick (or make your own using; How To Series: Making your own Bisquick)
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips
Eggs
Milk
Cheese
Butter
Syrup


Step 1:


Mix up your bisquick and add your chocolate chips.


Step 2:

Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto your warmed griddle

Step 3:

Heat your pancake until bubbles start to form on the top, then it's time to FLIP!
(I hope you can you see the bubbles. This was a hard picture to take b/c I didn't want to burn my pancake!)



This is what my daughters did while I was making pancakes and my husband was making his oh-so-yummy scrambled eggs and cheese!





Step 4: Make your scrambled eggs. My husband makes the best scrambled eggs. His tip is: add a little bit of water to the eggs when you scramble them and don't let them overcook or they will be dry! Oh, and add cheese to the top!


Step 5: Plate your dish~


My toddlers and my 11 month old loved this meal!



My 11th month old had regular pancakes without the sweet stuff, but my older two had seconds!






Enjoy!

Cost of meal for a family of $4.00
Cost per person: $1.00




I am always looking for great new "add-ins" for pancakes.

What do you use to make your pancakes tasty?
Leave a comment and share!





A few more freebies for TAX DAY!

Cinnabon: is giving away 2 FREE cupcake bites per guest on April 15th, 2010 between 6pm-8pm.
Taco Del Mar: Free taco when you sign up here.
TGI Friday's: Get $5 Bonus Bites card when you spend $15-$25 dollars, get $10 Bonus Bites Card when you spend $25 or more dollars.
Whole Foods: Select stores will go tax free!

Thanks to Mummydeals for these additional deals!

TAX DAY FREEBIES

With Tax day coming up, I thought it might make you feel better to know that several restaurants will be giving out FREEBIES to ease your pain!

Here are the great deals I have found so far:


Free Coffee of $1 off Espresso @ Au Bon Pain (Must bring ABP travel mug)
(Added 4/12 @ 8:05PM EST)

Free Sample of MaggieMia's Ice Cream Pizza @ Maggie Moo's (3pm - 7pm)

Free Taco @ Taco Del Mar (Fill out form in link)


2 Free Cupcake Bites (6pm - 8pm) @ Cinnabon


Free HydroMassage (Print Coupon and schedule appointment by clicking the link)


Kids Eat Free (4pm - 10pm) @ IHOP

Free Cup of Coffee @ Starbucks (Bring a reusable travel mug)


Free Small Pizza @ Mr. Jims Pizza (Become a Facebook fan and print the 1040--PZ coupon)


B1G1 Free @ JambaJuice

15% discount @ P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Bring Warrior Card just in case)

$10.40 dinner @ McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants (I suggest you make a reservation by clicking the link)

Frugal Thursday: Shepherd's Pie

There is a little bit of a story behind this recipe. A few months ago, Tasty Green Momma-Katie & I went with our husbands to an Irish restaurant. At this restaurant, Katie and I couldn't decide what to get because it all looked so good! We also wanted to try lots of different things, so we could taste it... try and pick it apart... and then recreate it on our own! (Yes, our husbands made fun of us the whole time!)

The MOST AMAZING thing we ate at this little Irish restaurant was... you guessed it, Shepherd's Pie! I don't think I have ever before said that a Shepherd's pie could be considered a meal I craved or was dying to "recreate" on my own. It was, however.... and although I didn't recreate the shepherd's pie "to a T" the way the Irish restaurant made it, I think mine is pretty unique and has lots of flavor!


Here is what you need:

1 lb browned ground beef, 6 baking potatoes-baked and mashed, 2 packets of beef gravy mix, 1 package of mixed vegetables (we like-carrots, corn and green beans), 1/2 lb hot pepper cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.


Step 1:


Make your mashed potatoes!

Want a quick and easy way to do it?

Check out my How To Series: Making mashed potatoes in the microwave.


Want an easier way to do it? Buy Betty Crocker potatoes in a Pouch. There is a coupon here. They run $1.10 at my Kroger and if your Kroger doubles, that would be .60 off which would make them .50 each!

Step 2:
After your beef is browned and drained, start by making your gravy.

This is the packet I used, I believe it is from Aldi. It has great flavor, but I only used 1 and I would definitely recommend using at least 2!


Step 3:

Heat up your veggies. (Coupon here for veggies) Once they are heated up, place them on a plate with paper towel to get rid of the excess water.

Step 4:

Grease your 9x19 pan. I don't think you have to do this, but I like to bake dishes with a butter coating, it just makes the edges nice and crispy!


Step 5:

Start layering your pie: browned ground beef, veggies, then your gravy...


Then your secret ingredient: Hot Pepper Cheese.





Remember how I told you that we were at the end of our grocery budget? Well, Hot Pepper Cheese was all I had in the refrigerator, so I decided to try it out.

I made half of my shepherd's pie with the cheese and half without it so that I didn't ruin the whole pie if we didn't like it. By the end of the meal, we were fighting for 2nds of the pie with the cheese. It was not very spicy, but it added enough of a kick and smoothness to totally change the taste of the shepherd's pie. Definitely a keeper!

Place the cheese on top of the veggies, then the potatoes on top.




Step 6:




Finish it off by adding some butter, dried chives (or whatever herb you like!), salt and pepper to the top



Here is a little *kitchen tip*




If you store your salt in an easy open container, it is much more convenient to grab some and throw it on top of your dish! It is also GREAT for when you have to measure out your salt. No more spilled salt on your counter from overmeasuring. Just scoop it out of your salt dish.

One tip- Label your container SALT. Otherwise others will mistake it for sugar. Trust me, it has happened.... :<)


Step 7:
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

You will want to check it often to make sure it doesn't get too browned. You will know when it is done because you will see the gravy bubbling in the bottom of your dish. I also like to use a knife, stick it in the middle of the dish for about 10 seconds, then pull it out. If it is hot- your dish is cooked through!



Step 8:
Dish it up! We added biscuits (click on the link for a coupon for biscuits) as a side dish, but any type of bread (click on the link for a coupon for Pillsbury bread) would be great!


And for Dessert....

from left to right: my niece, Ella-5; my daughter, Addie- 3 1/2; my daughter, Sophie-2

Popsicles!


I would love to hear how your family makes Shepherd's pie!

Leave a comment and let us know if you have a great ideas for our next Shepherd's pie!





Cost of Meal for a family of 4: $6

Cost per person: $1.50

Not bad for a hearty meal!




Starbucks deal today only.

Don't forget that today is the day that you can get a free cup of Starbuck's coffee today only! Click here for more details.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How To Series: Make Mashed Potatoes using your Microwave



Okay, so a friend of mine gave me a great recipe for loaded potato skins, and in the recipe it says to cook the potatoes in the microwave, use a spoon to get all the baked potato out of the skin, mix in yummy ingredients, then put it back in the shell to bake.

So I figured, hey why can't I do the same thing to make mashed potatoes?! Not only will it save me time... I don't have to peel the potatoes!

I was worried the potatoes might taste different, in all honesty I didn't notice a difference at all! This is a great tip to use if you are short on time or just don't feel like peeling your potatoes!


Step 1:



Clean your potatoes.


Step 2:

Poke a few holes in the top of your potatoes with a fork. I usually stab each potato 3-4 times with a fork.


Step 3:

Pop them in the microwave! I have a baked potato setting on mine, but if you don't have one one yours it takes 15 minutes to bake 4 potatoes. I think this is an overestimate, and it could actually take less time. So check the potatoes after 10 minutes and see how they are looking.


Step 4:
Once your potatoes are cooked, cut them open to release steam and let them sit to cool about 3-4 minutes.

Step 5:


Using a spoon, scoop out all of the potato that you can! My potatoes were still hot, so I also used a clean wash cloth to hold the potato while I scooped out the insides.

Step 6:




Once you have scooped out your potato, place it in your mixing bowl


Step 7:

Add your milk, salt and pepper. I can't give you exact measurements, I just add to taste and until the potatoes are to the consistency that I like!


Step 8:


Whala! You have just made yummy mashed potatoes:

1. Without peeling the potato

2. In the Microwave!

3. In Less Time!




Enjoy!