Sep 30, 2005

Grocery List Strategies

Grab a pen, write down whatever sounds good or whatever you are sure you're out of and head off to the store. That's how most people approach grocery list writing. However, there really is an art to creating a list if you want to slash your grocery bill. Here are a few tips:

1. Take inventory. Look through your pantry, cabinets, fridge and freezer. Get rid of all the outdated things and those that no longer resemble anything edible. Then take stock of what you have on hand.

2. Peruse the sale flyers and your coupon stash. Look to see what is on sale at your supermarket and also what coupons you have on hand. This will give you an idea of what kinds of meals to prepare and what to buy.

3. What can you create for supper? Are there any meals that you can prepare with the ingredients you have available? Maybe you have all the fixings for a beef stew minus the beef. Make a note of all meals you can prepare including those that will need additional ingredients.

4. Fill in the blanks. Now write down what you need for those meals that are missing ingredients.

5. Look Ahead. What length of time are you shopping for? If it's two weeks then make sure you have enough to prepare supper for two weeks. If you only came up with enough meal ideas for 12 days then you will need to add more to your list to make up for the extra two days.

6. Now Add Breakfast and Lunch. What kinds of things do you and your family eat for lunch and breakfast? Make sure you have ingredients on hand for those meals as well.

7. And last but not least... Finally add on condiments, by product and any other items that are not main ingredients.

By using these strategies every time you go to the grocery store you will be sure to ease your grocery budget.

Sep 29, 2005

Chichen & Spinach Empanadas

Here's my latest creation for using up leftovers in the fridge. They turned out REALLY good! We had them for lunch but I think they would make a great light supper served with a tossed salad.

Chicken & Spinach Empanadas

For the pastry:

2. c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. milk
1 egg

For the filling

1 c. cooked shredded chicken
1/4 c. shredded cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 pkg. frozen spinach, drained well
1 tsp. minced toasted onion
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

To make the pastry, combine flour, salt, baking powder in the food processor, pulse until well blended then set on low and add wet ingredients through chute. Allow to blend until dough clings to sides of bowl. Remove from bowl, form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, combine soup, onion, parsley. milk, salt and pepper in a saucepan. Heat while whisking to break up lumps. When warmed through, stir in chicken and spinach.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. When pastry is chilled, roll out on a floured board. Cut out circles using a small bowl. Spoon about 3 Tbsp. of filling onto each circle. Wet edge of half the circle then fold other side over to form a turnover. pinch edges then crimp with a fork. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Sep 28, 2005

Simple Weeknight Meal

My dh and kids love this. It's easy, inexpensive and really good!

Cheeseburger Casserole

1 lb. hamburger
1 large onion, chopped
1 med. green pepper, chopped
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1 can refrigerator biscuits
Parmesan cheese

Brown hamburger in skillet with onion and green pepper. Drain fat. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, salt, and pepper. Heat thoroughly. Alternate meat and cheese in casserole dish. Arrange biscuits on top; brush with melted margarine and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Can be frozen.

Sep 27, 2005

Boston Baked Beans

With cooler weather soon to come I'm thinking of stocking my freezer with some nice comfort foods. One of my favorite recipes is for Boston Baked Beans. It's a recipe I adapted from one I found on Martha Stewart's website. It is so good and easy to make in the crock pot. This recipe makes a lot so I freeze the leftovers. My family loves these beans with hot dogs and rice. YUM!

Boston Baked Beans

Serves 8 to 10

2 pounds dried pinto or navy beans
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large onion, minced
dash ground cloves
12 ounces salt pork
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Sort and rinse beans. Boil salt pork in water for about 10 minutes to render some of the fat, drain and place in crock pot. Add beans. Combine remaining ingredients and add to crock pot. If necessary, add enough water to cover beans by 1/2 inch. Set on low and cook 8 to 12 hours. For the last 50 to 60 minutes of cooking, uncover beans, and, using tongs or a long fork, pull the pork to the surface. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve.

Sep 26, 2005

Tuna and Spinach...

Tonight I've been searching for recipes featuring canned tuna and spinach... a somewhat odd combination I thought but surprisingly, there is much to be made with these two common kitchen staples. I think tomorrow night I will try this, I found it on The

Tuna Supper Casserole

1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach
1 can tuna, drained
1 small can sliced mushrooms (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten

Cook spinach according to directions on package. Drain well. Drain mushrooms, saving liquid. Add lemon juice and water to mushroom juice to make 1 cup liquid. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter, and blend in onion, flour, salt, pepper, and mushroom liquid. Cook, stirring, until smooth and thick. Beat sauce into egg, then add mushrooms. Arrange spinach in a casserole dish, then top with tuna. Pour sauce on top. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sep 25, 2005

It's all in the soup!

It's been a slim week for groceries around here so I am in "soup mode"... meaning I am finding all I can that goes together to make a nice hearty soup for dinner. This is what I came up with for tonight... it's in the crock pot and smells heavenly! Think I'll bake a loaf of bread to go with it.

It's All In The Soup

6 c. water
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. each ham seasoning, beef bouillon granules, chicken bullion granules
1 c. Great Northern Beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight
1/4 c. diced ham
1/2 lb. cooked ground beef
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bag frozen spinach
1/4 c. barley
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. basil
1 bay leaf
drizzle of olive oil
1 C. cooked pasta

Add all to crock pot except pasta, allow to cook all day on low. Stir in pasta before serving. Sprinkle each bowl with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Sep 24, 2005

Cuban Cravings!

I am craving Cuban food so bad! I'm working on a grocery list for the next two weeks and I think I'll make Ropa Vieja and Black Beans with rice. Have you all seen Daisy Cooks on PBS? It's an excellent show! Check out her website! Here's her recipe for Ropa Vieja and my recipe for Black Beans. You can also make Ropa Vieja in the crock pot.

Ropa Vieja (from

Daisy says...
"This dish gets its name from the shredded texture of the beef, which resembles clothes so worn they're falling apart. If you're Cuban, please don't come after me for using chuck steak instead of the more traditional flank steak. Both are delicious, but I prefer the texture of the shredded chuck to that of flank. Other than that, this is a traditional version of a Cuban standard, which will taste better the next day.Makes 6 servings"
One 2 ¼ to 2 ½ pound chuck roast or two 1 ¼ pound flank steaks
2 teaspoons fine sea or kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the beef
Freshly ground pepper
Onion powder
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup Sofrito
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Two 8-ounce cans Spanish-style tomato sauce
1 ½ cups water
3 tablespoons alcaparrado or coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
2 bay leaves
4 celery stalks, with leaves, cut into ¼-inch dice
3 medium carrots, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Pound the chuck roast or flank steaks out with a heavy meat mallet until about ½ inch thick. Season both sides of the beef generously with salt, pepper and onion powder.

2. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof, heavy skillet over high heat until rippling. Add the beef and cook it until well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.

3. Drain or spoon off most of the fat from the pan. Stir in the sofrito, 2 teaspoons salt, and the cumin and bring to a boil. Depending on how much oil was left in the pan, you may have to add a little olive oil to give the mix a nice, creamy texture. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, alcaparrado or olives, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover the dish and bake until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork, about 2 ½ hours. Let stand in the sauce until cool enough to handle.

4. Shred the meat coarsely by hand or using two forks. Return it to the sauce and add the celery and carrots. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook a few minutes more. Watch the liquid as it cooks, and add more broth of water as needed.

Cuban Black Beans (my recipe)

1 lb dried black beans
2 slices turkey bacon (or one ham hock)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
dash each of paprika and cumin

Sort beans and soak overnight. Add beans and remaining ingredients to a large pot and cover by 2 inches with water. Allow to simmer until beans are tender and can be mashed easily with the back of a spoon. Serve over rice.

Sep 22, 2005

Food Co-ops

How can you get $30 worth of food for $15? A food co-op! Our town runs one through the food bank here and it's great! You don't need to be under the poverty level, anyone can participate. It really saves us money on groceries! We get meat, potatoes, and fresh produce plus snacks for the kids. Great deal! Check your local phone directory or Chamber of Commerce to see if your town offers one.

Sep 2, 2005

So Sad...

I have have just been watching the coverage of Hurricane Katrina... amazing how precious life is and we don't really think about it until something life this happens. It's made me so sad. Just praising God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon myself and my family. Let's all do what we can to help and donate money for the survivors!