Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Grocery Deals

It's been a long time since I took pictures of groceries, but since I just taught a coupon class and am really trying to get back into the coupons like I used to (sadly, I have been slacking the last couple months and my coupons were in a huge mess until just one week ago) I decided I needed to remind myself just how great this is.  Hopefully someone will see my list and picture and it will motivate them to try it.  Smith's had the sale I've been waiting for, so this was a great place to start. I definitely walked out of there with my coupon "high".

Here's a list of what I got and what I paid after sale price and coupons:

  • 14 boxes of Kleenex (between .20 and .56 a box depending on the coupon and after the $2 catalinas printed)
  • 8 bottles of shaving gel (.94)
  • All laundry detergent (2.49)
  • 33 cans Hunts tomato sauce (.34-.54 per can depending on the coupon)
  • 4 cans Hunts tomato paste (.16 per can--and these were the big cans)
  • 14 cans Hormel Chili (.17 per can)
  • 4 French's Honey Mustard dipping sauces (.75)
  • 4 bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (no coupons but still a great price--1.99)
  • 4 40 oz. bottles Heinz ketchup (again, no coupons but still a great price--1.79)
  • 2 each Cocoa Pebbles/Fruity Pebbles (1.44 for family size box)
  • 4 Grape Nuts Flakes (.99)
  • 6 Uncle Ben's Long Grain & wild rice (.67)
  • 6 Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (.38)
  • 8 Kraft Singles (1.71)
  • 3 DiGiorno pizzas (3.49)
  • 2 Kraft Deluxe Mac & cheese (1.49)
  • 2 Miracle Whip (no coupons and not a great price but I am out--2.79)
  • 12 boxes Ritz Crackers (1.32)
  • 2 boxes of Cheez-its (1.99--not a great price but Colby pulled a sad face when I told him no so I caved)
  • 9 Balance Bars (.16)
  • 4 Kroger syrup (1.49--no coupons but I am out again and love this syrup)
  • 2 bags Garden of Eatin chips (1.09--never had them before but I'm giving them a try)
All said and done, I spent $125 , I still have $2  in the form of a Catalina to spend the next time I go to Smith's, and I rolled out of there with TWO SHOPPING CARTS.  It was an awesome sale!  Unfortunately I didn't have any more coupons for hunt's tomato sauce, so I'm going to have to do some scrounging around and go back.  There were other things I wanted to get but my cart was heaped and stuff was falling out so I decided to call it a day. 

By the way, did I mention that I received rewards points based on the regular prices?  I'm up to 450 points already this quarter.  Another 50 points and it's off to the gas station we will go with both cars to save another $17.50 on gas.

For anyone contemplating using coupons, I don't know why you're waiting...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jammy Scones

I used to make these a LOT... many, many years ago and then I completely forgot about them.  As I have been working on organizing my recipes over the last month, I found this one and remembered how yummy they areLuckily I had everything on hand to make them again right away!  I usually make them for breakfast (they go really good with eggs and bacon...or with a continental breakfast) although I don't know why--they'd really be great any time you want a yummy sweet roll.  They're also pretty fast and easy.

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
14 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces (no margarine!)
your favorite jam (of course I used peach raspberry jam )
milk, powdered sugar, vanilla for glaze

Combine the dry ingredients.  Add the butter chunks (make sure they're cold ) and cut them in (you can use a pastry cutter or two knives.  I used my kitchen aid whisk and it worked well but took some time)  After adding the butter the dough should look like coarse cornmeal and there should be no chunks of butter left, but be careful about over handling it.  Add the buttermilk and combine until well mixed but don't overdo it (think pie crust)  The dough will resemble cookie dough more than bread dough and will be quite dry.  Use your hands to gather it all into a ball.  Pat the dough out evenly on a lightly floured surface and form it into a rectangle--make it fairly even but it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. It should be about the size of a jelly roll pan.  Spread the jam on half of the rectangle (about 1/4-1/2 cup of jam)  Fold the empty side onto the jammed half (It sticks and you will probably need to scrape it up with a spatula as you go in order to move it--that is normal.  It will look a bit messy but that's okay.)  Once the dough is folded, roll it with a rolling pin into a long rectangle that is about 3/4 inch thick (Don't push too hard or you'll squeeze all the jam out)  Cut the dough into 12 squares and place on an ungreased baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart.  Bake at 425 degrees for 14-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Mix a glaze with some powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Let the scones cool for about 10-15 minutes and then drizzle them with glaze.  They taste the best when they're warm but I wouldn't refuse a cold one...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Something Fun with Biscuits

So, in keeping with my bread theme, I have a really YUMMY addition.  It's much easier than making bread, yet still fills my need to eat bread of some kind with every meal.
About a year ago I had coupons for biscuits...and then they went on sale so cheap that they were free.  Naturally, I bought as many as I could with the coupons that I had and walked away with 25 cans of Pillsbury Grands! biscuits.
So what does one do with 25 cans of biscuits, you might ask?  Let's just say that baking them and serving them as biscuits got old pretty fast.  I heard you could freeze them if you removed them from the can but I was just too lazy to do it, so I found other things to try.  This was the hands down favorite.  They're quick and easy and can be made VERY last minute, which is how I do dinner most of the time.
An important thing to note, though, is that when they come out of the oven the jam in the middle is hot--and I mean HOT.  Like molten lava eating fire hot... It will literally remove the skin from inside your mouth if you're not careful.  Make them with enough time that they have about 15 minutes to sit before you serve them.  Unless you're serving them to your enemy... then go right ahead fresh from the oven.


 1 can Pillsbury Grands! biscuits (I suppose you could use other biscuits, but these are the best)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cube melted butter
your favorite jelly or jam (I used my favorite peach/raspberry jam found here )

Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl big enough for the biscuits to be dipped. Melt your butter in a separate bowl.

Dip the biscuit in the butter.
Then coat with the cinnamon sugar.
Place them all on an UNGREASED baking sheet (they will be swimming in butter--especially if you bought the butter tastin' biscuits that are my personal favorite). I usually sprinkle more of the cinnamon sugar on top to cover up the spots where my fingers wiped it off.
With your thumb, press firmly in the center of the biscuit--almost all the way through to the pan but not quite.  I usually press one way then the other to make sure the hole is round, deep and firm.
Fill the holes with a small scoop of jelly.  You might think more jelly is better, but don't overdo it or it will just run all over the biscuit.  You want it to stay in the hole while it bakes.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes at the temperature recommended on the side of the can.  The edges are the best place to look to see if they're done--they should be golden.
Allow the biscuits to sit and cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bread Snobs

This year in an effort to save money I started the school year telling my kids they would have to take a home lunch at least a couple times a week.  Little did I know that they would discover that they LOVE home lunch way better than school lunch and now the fight has reversed--they want home lunch every single day.
This desire for home lunch created a whole new problem for me--the problem of the disappearing bread.  With everyone packing a lunch every day I'm going through a loaf every couple of days... which leads to my OTHER problem...
We are bread snobs.  It's Grandma Sycamore bread or bust for us... I have found a couple of noteworthy substitutions (Farm Bread runs a close second, with Dunford bread pulling up the rear) but other than that, we hate all other kinds of bread.  And with the price of that bread going up and up and up...well, let's just say we've been weeping over cheap imitation bread a lot these days. (No matter how much I like it, I refuse to pay $3 for a loaf of bread...)
So for the past couple of months I have been experimenting with making good sandwich bread.  All of the bread was good, but not necessarily good for sandwiches.  I have tried at least a dozen recipes and none have been exactly right.  So this last week I took the best parts of each recipe and combined them to try a recipe of my own... I'd hate to jinx it, but I think I've actually DONE IT!  (With 4 bread critics in my house, it's pretty easy to distinguish the success from the failure.)  Everyone has voted, and this is definitely the winner...It takes a little more time and patience than the other breads I have made, but it was definitely worth it.


 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups HOT water (about 125 degrees)
3 Tablespoons shortening

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer measure 2 cups flour, the sugar, salt, yeast, and dry milk.  Mix it well, then add the hot water and beat just until blended.  Add the shortening and beat until it has mixed in well, then add one cup of flour and beat for 3 minutes at medium speed.  Your mixture should be smooth and creamy looking.

Continue to add flour 1/4 cup at a time.  Take your time, letting the flour completely mix in before adding more.  The dough should form a soft, elastic ball that can be stretched without being sticky.  If the dough is too hard it will be hard to work with and dry when it's finished. (The perfect amount of flour for me was 5 1/4 cups each time with a sprinkle of flour added during kneading.)  Knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding sprinklings of flour if it starts to stick to the sides of the bowl.  When it's done, if you feel the dough is too hard, mix in a teaspoon of water.  If it's too wet or sticks to your hands, add a little flour.

 Grease a bowl and place your dough in it, turning to coat the top.   It should look smooth and soft.  Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature to rise for one hour (dough should double in size)
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead for a few minutes to work out any air bubbles, then slice it into two equal pieces with a sharp knife.  Shape each piece into a ball and allow it to rest for 3-4 minutes while you prepare your pans.

Spray or grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.  Form each ball of dough into a loaf by pressing the ball into a flat oval.  Place it in the pans and gently press the dough into the corners of the pan with your fingers, making it as flat in the pan as possible for a more even loaf.
Cover the pans with wax paper and let rise again at room temperature until the dough is about an inch over the top of the pans--about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees--don't put the bread in until it has reached the right temperature!  Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes.  The loaves should be golden brown and sound hollow when you thump on them.

When the loaves are done baking, remove them from the oven but not from the pan.  Place the pans on a cooling rack close together and cover them with a heavy kitchen towel.  Wrap the pans, towel and all, in foil and allow to cool.  This makes the bread "sweat" so the crust (top and bottom) will be soft.  (NOTE: the towel is important because it will absorb any condensation that forms instead of leaving it sitting on the bread making it soggy.)  You can also choose to brush the tops with melted butter for a soft crust instead, but that leaves the bottom crust to get crunchy--not so great if you're making bread for sandwiches.

When the loaves are almost cool, you may want to remove them from the pans, wrap them completely in the towel and foil and let them finish cooling.  Store in bread bags or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to keep them fresh.

I {heart} bread

I have been on a MAJOR bread kick these last couple of weeks.... I just love bread!  I am completely convinced that if there is a hell, it will be just like heaven only there won't be any bread...or pastries.  I've been making so much bread, in fact, that one of my kids actually said "you need to slow down on the bread"...and then he proceeded to stuff his face with it.

Alas, my favorite bread that I have made is not my own recipe, but I really felt I had to share because it just wouldn't be right to keep it to myself.  I found it on one of my favorite blogs, Deals to Meals  and I even swiped her picture because mine just didn't look this good.  The bread is actually called Cinnamon Swirl Bread, and this picture is of the TO DIE FOR french toast that can be made with it (which I also did).  Scrumptious....there's nothing else to be said.

But don't feel like you HAVE to make the french toast...because the bread is good all by itself.  I'm just saying that you'll probably want to... you might even just want to call it dessert instead of breakfast.

So give it a go!  You'll be glad you did.  Here's the link:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

And of course, you will need this recipe also...partly because it goes inside the bread, and partly because it's just plain yummy.  If you've ever had Texas Roadhouse's cinnamon butter, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Cinnamon Butter   

One interesting side note about the bread recipe... I baked it for the time stated in the recipe and it was not even CLOSE to done... Unfortunately I didn't realize this until I had pulled it out of the oven and sliced it open and saw raw dough in the middle.  All bread should basically sound hollow when you thump on I would try that before assuming that it's done.  Next time (translated: tomorrow) I will probably bake it for at least 45 minutes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Amazingly Delicious!

When I told my sister I was going to try this, she said, and I quote, "Ewww, that sounds awful."  It gave me pause...and I wondered if maybe I was wrong and shouldn't try it.  But in a moment of desperation (I was out of chicken and ground beef...all I had were pork chops...something had to be done!) I decided I would go ahead.  What's the worst that could happen?...we'd end up at McDonalds for dinner... (It's happened the day I made skunk meatloaf...which is a whole story in and of itself that I will save for another time.)
Anyway, I'm glad I went ahead and tried because not only did it turn out absolutely fabulous, but I nearly had a riot on my hands as my husband and sons fought over the pork chops (I started with 12 and I personally only ate one...who knew there'd be a shortage?) It was also SUPER easy, and who doesn't like easy?  I made mashed potatoes with melted cheese on them to go with the pork chops and the sauce was also delicious over the potatoes.  So, before you say "eww" give them a try!

1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 cups cola carbonated drink (a 12 oz. can)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
2 small cloves garlic, minced
12 boneless pork chops
seasoning salt and pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat and brown the chops.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper as they cook. Transfer them to your crock pot, cover and cook on high for about an hour, then drain off all the fat before adding the sauce (this step can be skipped if you want or if your pork chops are particularly lean, but I like to remove all that fat so my sauce isn't greasy when they're done).
Combine the ketchup, barbecue sauce, cola, brown sugar, corn starch and garlic and  mix well.  Pour over the pork and reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for 4-5 hours.
NOTE: this recipe would also probably be good with chicken, although I haven't tried it yet.  The pork was very tender and falling apart when it was done cooking, so I wouldn't recommend using bone-in chops or you'll end up with naked bones floating around in your sauce.  No one likes naked bones.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year, New Recipes

I have begun the new year all motivated to try new recipes... (Notice I did NOT say I made a resolution to eat more healthy, although I really should).  I really need to cook more often and I get tired of the same old I've been on the hunt for new and delicious thingsSo far, so good!
If you LOVE english muffins (which I do) then this is the recipe for you.  I have had the english muffin bread from the store bakery and I like it, but this is definitely better!  Not only is it delicious with a big, thick coating of butter and honey (or jam) but it also makes fabulous breakfast sandwiches.'ll  be addicted!

2 cups milk
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons cornmeal (approx.)
6 cups flour
2 Tablespoons active, dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Grease 2 8x4 loaf pans and sprinkle the cornmeal inside.  Set aside.
Warm the milk and water together in a microwave safe bowl for about two minutes (little bubbles should appear around the edges.)  In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda.  Stir the warm milk mixture into the dry ingredients slowly, then beat until it's mixed well.  Add the remaining flour one cup at a time.  (The finished product will look like a stiff cookie batter--NOT bread dough!  Don't add any extra flour!).
Spoon the batter (it will be stiff and sort of rubbery--that is normal) into the prepared pans and spread it evenly.  Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  Because of the yeast and baking soda it will rise pretty fast, so keep an eye on it.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  When the dough has reached about to the top of the pan, it's time to bake it.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the pans immediately and cool before slicing.
NOTE:  When I moved my bread into the oven, it appeared to "fall" and I thought I had lost all my leavening, but it was fine.  It poofed back up as much as necessary as it baked.  This bread is best when toasted (with LOTS of butter)