May 31, 2006

Great Food Day!

Yesterday is what I like to call a "great food day". Now because we ate at a great restaurant or anything like that but because we got a lot of great deals! :)

First we made the trek (I say "trek" because it's a 45+ minute drive) out to Trader Joe's. I try to make it over there every month or so if I can to stock up on some things that we really like, such as Jasmine Rice, Thompson's raisins and organic tomato sauce. These items may sound like simple things you can find at any store but TJ's just taste better. While we were there I realized I had nothing planned for dinner that wouldn't take a long time to prepare so we needed something quick to prepare once we got back home. Usually to me quick food = expensive food so I took my time looking to see what we could get for a good price (considering we'd probably eat out if I didn't grab something). I finally settled on an item I had heard people raving about - Mandarin Orange Chicken. This chicken is frozen little breaded chicken pieces with a sauce you microwave and pour over it when it's finished cooking. From the looks of it, it reminded me of the Orange Chicken we love to eat at Panda Express so I figured it would be a hit. I also grabbed some frozen Pot Stickers to go with it. Upon arriving home I put the chicken in the oven to bake while starting a pot of Jasmine rice and the pot stickers. I also prepared some broccoli that we had in the freezer.

The meal was wonderful! My husband was shocked that frozen food could taste so much like the takeout we love. I paid $8 for everything we needed for that meal and if we had bought the same food at Panda I think the price would have been around $20 for the 5 of us. Not bad for "psudo-takeout" :)

Once dinner was done, kitchen cleaned and kids in bed, I realized I needed to complete an order I had started on for the rest of our grocery items. I still have two free deliveries left from a coupon I had last month so onto the computer I went to finish my order. Before I began I noticed I had an email from Safeway saying that they have two new coupon offers:

Use the code LASAGNA to get a free family size frozen lasagna with your order ($150 or more)
Use the code ORGANICS to get a free box of organic frozen blackberry/chocolate ice cream bars with your order. ($125 or more)

As you can imagine, I used both of those codes as well! So tomorrow, when I could be taking my kiddos out to fight the 100+ degree weather to shop for food, we will be here at home awaiting the "grocery man" as my girls like to call him :) I even ordered all my paper products and bottled water as well. Can you tell I don't enjoy shopping in heat? :)

May 30, 2006

Cucumber Salad

I got this recipe from a message board buddy and wow is it good! I added a few ingredients to suite my family's tastes. I think I could make a meal of this salad by itself!

Cucumber Salad

4 large cucumbers, peeled, quartered and sliced
2 scallions, diced
1/2 pint heavy cream (you may only need to use 1/2 of it)
white vinegar (or cider vinegar... whatever you have on hand)
garlic powder

In a bowl layer as follows:
1 cucumber, a sprinkle of scallions, a drizzle of cream, a drizzle of vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and dill to taste. Repeat with remaining cucumbers. Refrigerate at least one hour to allow flavors to develop.

May 29, 2006

A new poll, finally!

I was having problems logging in to create a new poll last week but now I have one ready for you :) Here are the results from our last poll:

What kitchen appliance do you use most? 45% said coffee or tea maker... we have a lot of coffee drinkers here! ;) I personally would have to say I use my sandwich maker or crock pot the most. I may have said my food processor but I killed it trying to make bread dough... yikes! So that is at the top of my list of things to buy right now.

Vote in the new poll and tell me about your kitchen :)

May 26, 2006

Mini Quiche

Once or twice a month we take treats to church with us to share. Usually I bake some kind of bread or muffins but this time I wanted to do something different. I just bought a couple of mini muffin pans so I figured this would be a great time to try them out. I did make some muffins and little brownie bites in the pans to take but I also wanted a savory item so I make these mini quiche. They look and smell great, can't wait to get a bite :) Here's the recipe, it makes 48 bite size quiche:

Mini Quiche

1 package Pillsbury ready made pie crusts (or you can make your own pastry, make enough for a two crust pie)
4 eggs
1 and 1/2 c. milk or heavy creme
1 c. shredded cheese (cheddar, swiss or similar type)
1/2 lb. diced ham
1/4 c. diced scallions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
dash nutmeg

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Use a 2 inch circle as a guide (I used a plastic kids size snack cup) and cut out 48 circles from the pie crust (roll it extra thin but not transparent). Re-roll scraps to make enough so you have 48 circles total. Fit each circle into a well of a mini muffin pan, lightly crimp edges with your fingers. Into well put a pinch each of cheese, meat and onions. Pour in enough egg mixture to reach the top edge of each well. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden and center is set. (You can test the center by using a toothpick).

May 22, 2006

Cute Kitchen Goodies

Normally I just chat about recipes and kitchen tips here but I have something really cute I wanted to share today. My friend Patty has some really adorable kitchen stationary sets available for sale! I don't know about you but I am addicted to cute recipe cards and little note pads to write down my grocery lists and other things as I move about the kitchen. Here's what some of her products look like.

She has an apple set, a strawberry set (my fave!) and a watermelon set. Each kit includes (4x6) recipe cards, (4x6) recipe card dividers, grocery list sheets, weekly menu planner, 5 recipe page-keepers for your cookbooks and cooking magazines, 30 freezer labels. Pieces are ready to print. cool thing is when you purchase these you print them right from your computer (no waiting for the UPS guy to arrive!). They start at only $9.99. You can find more info here.

May 21, 2006


If you're a regular reader here you know that I am a kitchen gadget fanatic. I don't remember if I mentioned it or not but my hubby got me a George Foreman grill for Mother's Day! I was so excited to receive it because I had been wanting one for a long time. It was ordered from and just arrived yesterday. This is the model I received, it's a 10th Anniversary Limited Edition.
This thing is amazingly cool! So far we've only tried roasting bell peppers and steaks and I'm very impressed! Easy to use, easy to clean and best of all grilled food without standing over a hot BBQ grill! I brushed the grill surface with liquid smoke for a more authentic taste and it worked well. Tomorrow we're going to try some turkey burgers. This model is large enough to fit 8 burgers. I'm going to try some roasted potatoes along with the burgers as well. :)

May 20, 2006

Crock Pot Doughnut Pudding

I found a bag of doughnuts in the freezer... the little doughnut hole type. Since I haven't made bread pudding in a while I thought it would be a fun way to use them up for the kids. They loved it!

Crock Pot Doughnut Pudding

15 doughnut holes, cut in half
1 c. milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 butter or margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash nutmeg

Put the doughnuts into a heat safe bowl (such as pyrex) and place the bowl in the crock pot. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour over doughnuts. Cover crock pot and crock pot and cook on low for 3 - 4 hours.

May 19, 2006

Chicken With Artichokes, Zucchini and Tomatoes

A lonely can of artichokes has been staring at me from the back of my cabinet for some time now. I figured tonight I would improvise a recipe to make use of it. This is what I came up with and it turned out really good!

Chicken With Artichokes, Zucchini and Tomatoes

1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (15 oz.) can artichokes, drained and chopped
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 zucchini, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 strips roasted red bell peppers (you can roast them yourself or buy the kind in the jar)
1 c. chicken broth
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes

In a 10 inch skillet, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until tender, remove from pan and keep warm. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes to your taste. Brown chicken on both sides in skillet them remove to a plate to keep warm. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth and a splash of red wine vinegar for a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes and red bell peppers. Allow to simmer until zucchini is tender. Add the chicken, onions and garlic back to the pan. Garnish with parsley. Allow to simmer 5 more minutes. Serve over linguini.

May 18, 2006

Spicing It Up

I took an inventory of my spice cabinet the other day, as I do every so often. I am quite pleased with the wide array of spices I have acquired. However, I found a recipe recently on 28 cooks that I really wanted to try but was missing one ingredient.... turmeric. So I finally bought some today and can't wait to make the Indian Rice and potatoes that has had me drooling since I saw it. :)

I also love collecting recipes for "mixes", especially spice mixes. I already make my own adobo seasoning and cream soup mix. I have several recipes for other mixes that I have been waiting to try. I am planning to try a couple this week. Here a link to the most recent additions to my collection of spice mix recipes that I found on A Momma and The Boys Living On A Budget.

Today I found my new favorite store, AJ's Fine Foods. If cost weren't an issue I'd shop there on a regular basis, but like most specialty shops it's a place to go once in a while and also a place that if you shop strategically you can find some really great items at a reasonable price. The only items I purchased today were turmeric and Calrose rice but I plan on a return visit to do some price comparisons and to purchase a few specialty items I have been looking for. If you live in Arizona and have an AJ's in your area I would highly suggest a visit!

May 15, 2006

New Poll

I'm a little late with the poll this week. Here are last week's stats for the question "How often do you eat dessert?":

Answers Votes Percent
Every day 4 15%
A couple of times a week 16 59%
A couple of times a month 6 22%
A few times a year 1 4%
Never, I don't like sweets 0 0%

I am like the majority of you, I usually eat dessert a couple of times a week. On the days that I don't I usually have some sort of late night snack. I really need to cut back on those snacks, LOL!

The new poll is up, please take a moment to vote! :)

May 13, 2006

Mother's Day Goodies

How is it possible to create 3 dozen sweet rolls of 3 different varieties without spending all day in the kitchen? Use frozen bread dough! That's exactly what I did to make up some Mother's Day goodies to take with us to church tomorrow. If you look in the freezer section on your supermarket you will find bread dough sold in three loaf packages. The one I like it by Rhodes. Let the dough thaw in your refrigerator and then one loaf at a time roll the dough out into rectangles. About 6 x 14 inches works well. Spread the dough with butter then top as you like. Here's what I did today:

Cinnamon Raisin Rolls - I spread the dough with melted butter then topped with cinnamon and raisins. These are frosted with a traditional confectioners sugar icing.

Caramel Walnut Rolls - I spread these with melted butter then topped with chopped walnuts and cinnamon. These are frosted with Betty Crocker Caramel icing.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Rolls - I spread these with melted butter topped with a puree of frozen strawberries (thawed) with a little sugar added. These are frosted with a cream cheese icing.

Once you top the rolls, roll the dough up jelly roll fashion, starting at one of the long ends. Cut the roll into 12 equal slices and put the rolls (with space between them) into 9 x 13 in. pans sprayed with non-stick spray. Let them rise 3 hours then bake according to the directions on the dough package (check them after 30 minutes to make sure they are not browning too quickly). Remove them from the oven when done and ice them while still hot.

For the icings this is what I did:

confectioners sugar icing - confectioners sugar (about 1 c.) thinned with just enough milk to make is spreadable.

Caramel icing - store bought by Betty Crocker

Cream Cheese Icing - confectioners sugar (about 1 c.), 2 Tbsp. cream cheese and 2 Tb. butter creamed with enough milk to make it spreadable.

May 12, 2006

Bean Soup

With Mother's Day just a couple of days away, I've been seeing a lot of interesting and delicious sounding recipes on-line lately. One website that really caught my attention is a post on the Beyond Blossoms blog about cooking with flowers. Not only can you send flowers from their website, you can also find some really unique recipes as well. One that sounds really good is Carrot Cake With Thyme flowers. I love carrot cake and will be giving this one a try very soon!

I'm expecting an order from in the morning so dinner tonight is a sort of "clean out the pantry and fridge" sort of meal. It's simmering away on the stove right now and smells really good!

Bean Soup

2 c. dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
1 link smoked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
3 strips turkey bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small can no salt added tomato sauce
1/3 c. pearl barley
1 Tbsp. soul food seasoned salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried parsley

Add all ingredients except seasoned salt to a large soup pot. Cover with water to about 4 inches above the ingredients. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer 3 - 4 hours or until beans are tender. Add salt and allow to simmer an additional 30 minutes. Serve with rice or biscuits.

May 10, 2006


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Other Current promo codes:

Use code MAMA to get a free box of chocolates for Mother's Day - good until May 14th, must spend minimum $125 in groceries.

Your next deliver FREE - enter code EFREE2 at checkout. Minimum ourchase $50... not sure when this one expires.

Use code

May 8, 2006

Small Appliance Cooking

As I mentioned in my last post I wanted to talk more about ways to cut costs in the kitchen. The main focus of my blog has been how you can save and still eat a wide variety of foods. But with the summer coming (a.k.a. higher electric bills) I've been thinking a lot more about cutting costs.
The temperature here hit 100 degrees one time already last week and it looks like the heat is here to stay. We don't own a BBQ grill yet (nor do we have a space to set one up at this time) so it's all indoor cooking for us in the summer. I always hate heating up the kitchen in the and try to do any stove top cooking one day a week. The rest of the week I make use of the microwave and all the other small appliances I have to minimize heat in the kitchen. Not only do small appliances keep things cooler but it sure does help out cooling bill as well! Even though it's not officially summer yet, it looks like it time to challenge myself to keep the heat out of the kitchen. Anyone care to join me? :) Here are the small appliances I own and what they can be used for.

Crock Pot - the usual soups and stews, meats, greens, scalloped potatoes, baked potatoes, desserts, bread pudding, breads and rice can all be prepared in the crock pot. There are LOTS more things that can be made in the crock pot, I have some recipes on my other blog and you can do a search online and find many many more.

Steamer - fresh and frozen vegetables, baked potatoes, boneless/skinless chicken, rice, steamed desserts. This steamer is great because you can cook two things at one time so it saves a lot of time. The old one I had only had one steaming tier.

Sandwich Maker - pocket sandwiches, pancakes, biscuits, omelets, brownies.

Waffle Iron - as far as I know this can only be used for waffles and waffle sticks. I'd love some other ideas though.

George Foreman Contact Roaster- anything you can make in a 350 degree oven can be made in this roaster. Meats cook well right on the grilling surface, anything else I use the roasting pan that it came with (equivalent to an 8 x 8 inch square pan but it is oval shaped).

I am hoping to also buy an electric griddle, electric skillet and a George Foreman Grill before the summer is over. :)

May 6, 2006

Saturday Ramblings

There were 10 votes for the poll I had up this past week, here are the results to the questions "What prompts your grocery buying decisions?"

Answers Votes Percent
Price of the food 4 40%
Brand name of the food 0 0%
Health value of the food 1 10%
Sales or special offers 1 10%
Other (Please specify in a comment) 4 40%

It looks like most of you are concerned about price (as am I!). I am having to watch our health a lot more closely since I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and hubby has reflux problems but really, all in all, we do have to keep our eye on our costs overall. I'm planning to get some more articles about cost cutting in the days to come so stay tuned! The new poll is up now so please vote.

We were having some fun with the new sandwich maker this morning and came up with a new invention we call "Pouf Cakes". Aren't these cute? This is what you get when you bake pancake batter in the sandwich maker. The girls loved these.

I have been making a lot of pancakes and waffles since I found that new Heart Healthy Bisquickk but we got down to the bottom of the box a couple of days ago. I read the ingredient list and thought there must be a copy cat recipe on-line somewhere. I found a recipe on a message board that I modified and I LOVE it! It made about twice as much as the box of Bisquick and it much healthier! Here's the recipe. You can also make a mix like this using shortening, here's that recipe.

This afternoon we're going to make chocolate chip cookies.

Homemade Bisquick (Heart Healthy)

8 c. all-purpose flour (or 4 c. all-purpose flour and 4 c. whole wheat pastry flour)
5 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 c. dry non-fat milk powder
1 c. canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or a large bowl. If using a food processor pulse the ingredients until well combined. If using a bowl, use a fork or pastry blender to mash the ingredients into crumbs then mix well with fingers to break up any lumps. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use in any recipe calling for Bisquick. Here are some recipe ideas.

May 5, 2006

Sandwich Maker

I have been wanting to buy some sort of sandwich grill for some time now. I heat up the kitchen with the stove top almost daily making grilled cheese sandwiches so I thought it would be worth the savings in electricity to purchase one. Originally I wanted a panini press but thinking of the kids and what they like to eat, I realized that that probably should wait a couple years and a simple sandwich press would suffice. I browsed for a while and finally came across one that looked like it would do the job for a great price. The one I chose is the Proctor Silex Meal Maker Sandwich Toaster

I like this little gadget a lot, we just received it yesterday and have already used it three times. I learned quickly that you have to be very careful using cheese with this. American cheese is NOT the best type to use because no matter how little you use, it tends to ooze out. The cheese is not impossible to clean up but it's messy It works better when you place the fillings towards the center of the bread or whatever you are stuffing. I first made grilled cheese sandwiches for my girls (big mess!). Then this morning I tried something different. I used white bread for the girls and made a few different types of sandwiches... peanut butter and honey, grape jelly and cream cheese with honey and cinnamon. They loved them all but the cream cheese and cinnamon got the highest vote. I also tried using tortillas which I stuffed with refried beans and those actually worked the best, the edges sealed very well and they were nice and toasted without being dried out.

I think one of those sandwich makers on the TV infomercial (I forget the name) would probably work better because the wells are deeper and you can do more with it, but for $14.97 this was worth the money. You can use it for pancakes, omelets, stuffed biscuits and lots more. I'm sure we will come up with lots of neat ideas in the days to come :)

May 2, 2006

Grocery Deal Day

A great website was brought to my attention today, Hillbilly Housewife. If you've never heard of this site, take a look! It is wonderful for those of us trying to keep our food costs down... lots of ideas, recipes and even menus and shopping lists!

Tonight for dinner we had tacos, homemade refried beans and calebacitas. I finally got a picture of the Calebacitas up, so take a peek! I have been making things to freeze or store in the fridge over the past couple of days. I made a batch of Sweet Potato Muffins, Homemade Baked Beans, Salsa (using my Pico De Gallo recipe and a blender) and Hummus... as well as the Egg Muffins leftover from yesterday so the next few day I will not have much to do in the kitchen. :)

I found a few good deals while out shopping today.

Roma tomatoes for 59 cents/lb. (I'm going to make roasted tomato sauce with these... my version of the recipe to come).

White bread (day old) 50 cents each.

Flatout flatbread 99 cents (also day old).

Tyson "Heat and Eat" chicken breasts $1 for a package of 2.

Hilshire Farm Lite Smoked Sausage for $1.

and a new product I have never seen before...

Duncan Hines Tres Leches Cake for $1.

Not a bad shopping day!

May 1, 2006

Egg Muffins

I saw this recipe on Cookin' With Cyndi and knew I had to try it! I made these tonight for dinner since my girls are not fond of spaghetti and that is what I had planned for tonight. The recipe originated at Kalyn's Kitchen and it was so easy to make! The girls loved it and there are leftovers to freeze which is an added bonus. You'll have to visit Cyndi for pics because my little ones attacked these before I could grab my camera.

Egg Muffins
(adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen - makes one dozen)

12 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
1 1/2- 2 cups diced meat Canadian bacon, ham, sausage, etc.)
1 1/2- 2 cups grated cheese
1 Tbsp. dried diced shallots
1 tbsp. dried diced chives
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375. Spray muffin pan with nonstick spray. If using regular muffin pan, put two paper liners into each slot, then spray liner with nonstick spray. In the bottom of the muffin cups layer diced meat and shallots. You want the muffin cups to be 3/4 full, with just enough room to pour a little egg around the other ingredients. Beat eggs well with milk, spices and chives. Pour egg into each muffin cup until it is full to the brim, nearly overflowing. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins have risen above the rim of the muffin cups and are slightly browned and set. These freezer well. For best results, thaw in refrigerator before microwaving. I like to wrap them in a paper towel when reheating in microwave to soak up some of the liquid that is sometimes released.