Sunday, January 31, 2010

Time for Mexican Food

One of our all-time favorite things to do when we go to California is to make at least one (but hopefully a couple) trips to those AUTHENTIC mexican places for burritos--our favorite is a place called Corrales in Ventura. (Patrick went to Ventura without me last summer and I really put a lot of thought into how he could actually bring one home for me--that's how good they are) Try as we might, we have just never found anywhere around here that makes them quite like them.  The desire for really good burritos set me on a quest to make them myself, and after many attempts, I actually have a really good recipe... they still aren't the same as Corrales but they ARE very, very good.  So,  in honor of all the free tortillas (I usually make my own for burritos but free ones from the store are good enough) and free salsa I got at Smith's this last week, I figured it was time to put some of it to good use. 

3 lbs. (roughly) chuck roast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups picante sauce or salsa (picante sauce is less chunky for cooking, but both work fine--I use hot, but use mild or medium depending on your taste)
2 Tbsp. vinegar 
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup water

Brown beef in oil over medium high heat.  Place in slow cooker.  Add all ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.  Remove meat and shred, discarding fat. Return shredded meat to the slow cooker and cook awhile longer. (I like to strain the juice before adding the meat back in, especially if I used salsa...but that's just my own wierd aversion to chunks in my meat).  
Stuff your burritos with anything you like--cheese, rice, beans, etc.   These will also freeze really well, so if you have a lot of leftovers, throw together some burritos, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bu-Bye Grocery Budget (a.k.a. Lessons in Grocery Hording)

I am a psycho.  I almost think I need an intervention. Shopping for groceries with coupons and getting good deals is like a serious high to me...I can no longer control I cannot bear any responsibility for my actions.  Lucky for me, Patrick is not here to witness my insanity, and with any luck I will have all the evidence hidden away before he gets back.  Here's my story...

Albertson's is having an insanely good sale on Quaker products.  This sale only happens once a year (and now that Albertsons is officially closing their doors on Feb. 22 this will be the last)  So...after shopping at Smith's this week I was bound and determined to NOT step foot in another store until next matter how good the sale.  Unfortunately, that plan all fell apart because we needed milk and strawberry syrup for Braden last night.  So off I went to Walmart...I took my ads so I could price match a gallon of chocolate milk, and that was my first mistake...Here's what I left the store with:
  • 6 boxes of oatmeal packets (.40)
  • 4 packs of hot dogs (.50)
  • 2 canisters of oatmeal (.80)
  • 2 boxes of pancake mix (.40)
  • 6 boxes of Pasta Roni (.46)
  • 5 boxes of Rice a Roni (.79)
  • 3 gallons of milk (1.66) not pictured
  • 1 gallon of chocolate milk (2.00) not pictured
  • Strawberry Syrup (1.47)
Altogether, I spent $21.94 when I FULLY INTENDED to just get some milk.  But I was also presented with another dilemma... I actually saw a bunch of people price matching that Quaker stuff, the shelves were VERY bare (believe me, if they hadn't been, I would have bought more than I did), and someone was even waiting for them to check their truck to see if they had more granola bars.  This actually made me feel like I was missing out on something and suddenly the hunt had begun. I figured I better go back and see if they restocked. So...this I went to Walmart again.  I told myself it was just to "run in and see if they restocked..." Yeah, right.  Here's what I bought the second time around:
  • 5 boxes Life cereal (1.00)
  • 12 boxes Quaker granola bars--the very awesome Dipps kind (.50)
  • 5 boxes (more) pancake mix (1.00)
  • 5 bottles of syrup (1.00)
I spent another $25.00. if two trips to Walmart isn't enough...after the trip to Walmart this morning I somehow ended up back at Smiths (I think something is wrong with my car?)  Actually, I had stumbled on this really AWESOME coupon for salsa...there was NO WAY I could let this deal pass me by.  So, by the time I was done, I had an entire Suburban full of food.  Here are my Smith's deals:
  • 2 Arrowhead water 24 packs (I've been watching Haiti and I'm going a little bonkers on the water because of it--can't have too I found a good coupon) (2.49)
  • 1 Arrowhead water 6 pack (FREE)
  • 2 packs Solo plastic bowls (.74)
  • 2 packs Dixie paper plates, sm. (1.49)
  • 2 packs Mission tortillas (.25)
  • 2 packs Dixie napkins (.94)
  • 12 bags of Goldfish (.88)
  • 4 Sobe Lifewater  (I made .61 cents with my coupon)
  • 2 Krusteaz Key Lime Bars (1.49)
  • 12 bottles La Victoria salsa (a MONEYMAKER--I made .50 cents on each bottle)
  • 4 Hormel Chilimasters (.29--for the big jars)
  • 4 cans Hormel Chilimasters (.52)
  • 2 packages Keebler Cookies--the new yummy looking Cheesecake middles kind (.19)
  • 6 Hershey's bars (.25)
I spent $24.14 at Smith's.
What a RUSH!  Who knew I could have so much fun buying groceries!  Altogether for these three trips I SAVED $195.41.  It was a good day.  And now, I promise on everything I hold dear that I will NOT go back to the store again...this week.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Honey Barbecue Pork Loin Chops

I love just about any kind of meat with barbecue sauce on it.  This in an especially GOOD sauce that can be used on a variety of meat, and since it's a slow cooker recipe, it's very easy to throw together and walk away.  The original recipe calls for country style pork ribs, which are good, but a little fatty for my taste. The loin chops are not quite as tender, but my kids tend to eat them better because they aren't worried about running into giant clumps of fat.  My mom trims her country style ribs into chunks, removing much of the fat, but that's just too much work (and why I choose the chops instead).  My one piece of advice on the meat is to not use meat with bones--the meat gets so tender and falls off the bones and you end up with bones swimming in the sauce.  These can also be made ahead and frozen, then just thaw and reheat and they will taste as good as if they were freshly made.


3 pounds pork loin chops (or country style pork ribs)
2 Tbsp. canola oil(only if you are using chops)
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

  1. If you are using chops, heat oil over medium high heat and brown chops until they are good and brown on all sides (but NOT thoroughly cooked).  This step can be skipped if you're in a hurry--you can throw them right in the slow cooker raw.  This precooking seems to help hold the chops together as they cook during the first three hours.
  2. Place chops in the slow cooker on high (if using ribs, just toss them in the slow cooker raw).  Cover and cook on high for three hours.  Drain. 
  3. Combine all ingredients and pour over chops in the slow cooker.  Turn heat to low and cook an additional three hours.
  4. If you choose to freeze them, remove them from the slow cooker and allow to cool.  Freeze in gallon zipper bags.

Mega Deals!

I haven't been to Smith's in awhile because they haven't have very good sales...but all that came to an end today, as I blew the whole week's grocery budget (now how am I going to buy milk?).  They have a GREAT sale going this week. Here's what I got and what I paid:
  • 2 Arrowhead water 24-packs (2.99)
  • 1 Arrowhead water 6 pack (FREE)
  • 5 boxes of Capri Sun (.99)
  • 6 boxes Electrasol tabs/gels (.49)
  • 4 bars of Kraft cheese (.99)
  • 4 bags Kraft shredded cheese (.99)
  • 2 packs Sargento cheese slices (.94)
  • 17 Kraft Easy Mac (.49)
  • 6 Krusteaz Cookie Mixes (.49)
  • 1 box of Ritz crackers (.99)
  • 9 boxes Nabisco snack crackers (.99)
  • 5 boxes Post Raisin Bran (one was FREE, the others were 1.49)
  • 4 cans Hormel chili (.52)
  • 2 Philadelphia Cream Cheese spreadables (.75)
  • 2 Philadelphia Cream Cheese (.75)
  • 3 Quakes (I got paid .26 to take them--a money maker!)
  • 7 Sobe Lifewaters (.49)
  • 1 2-lb. block Velveeta cheese (2.79)
  • 4 packs Dixie paper plates (1.49)
  • 8 packs Solo plastic plates (.49)
  • 2 packs Solo plastic cups (.49)
  • 2 Dreyers ice cream (1.49--not in the picture because they were practically milk when I got home)
  • 4 packs Mission tortillas (2 were FREE, 2 were .25)
I spent $81.09 and SAVED a whopping $156.41 over regular Walmart prices!  In addition, I have a couple rebates I have now fulfilled--a $20 for the Capri Suns, crackers, and Easy Mac and a $10 for the paper plates and if I subtract that, I save another $30.  Wow!  I love these kinds of grocery trips.  Unfortunately, I have gone over my weekly budget and I still need to hit Walmart for some milk, produce and a couple other things.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Grocery Deals

Another new sale, another trip to Walmart!  I did so good with my savings this week that the checker had to call a manager to override the register for me.  Can I just say how annoyed I was to see that they got more Yoplait Smoothies (they are super yummy)  in now that the sale is OVER?!  I went back on Monday because I had more coupons to use, hoping that they would have restocked before the sale ended, and they had not.  Now they have a full stock of them...but too late.  Now I guess I have to wait for another sale on them.  In any event, I got a lot of good deals:

  • 4 jars applesauce (1.46--not a sale but a necessity for Braden)
  • 1 La Victoria taco sauce (1.92--not on sale but I need to stop all the whining and complaining from the peanut gallery that the old bottle is empty)
  • 2 gallons milk (1.66)
  • 2 dozen eggs (.99)
  • 5 Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers (.67)
  • 12 Krusteaz muffin mixes (1.00)
  • 4 Krusteaz crumb cake mixes (1.00)
  • 4 Krusteaz bar mixes--lemon and raspberry (1.00)
  • 5 boxes Quaker instant oatmeal (1.00)
  • 24 Yoplait yogurts (.33)
  • 2 Honey Nut Cheerios (.48)
  • 12 cans Old El Paso enchilada sauce (.75)
  • 4 Betty Crocker frostings (.25)
  • 15 lb. bag of potatoes (1.50)
  • 6 cans carrots (.50)
My total came to $64.87 and I saved $64.89...just a little over half.  I also had a Visa gift card that we earned by shopping online worth $17, so my out of pocket was only $47.87.  Yay!  To think I actually have grocery money left in my budget to go back for more milk later this week... 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I {heart} breakfast

One of the first things I had to do when I started working to lose weight a couple years ago was to start eating breakfast.  Mornings are busy with trying to get kids out the door, and with all their various schedules, by the time I was done with all that, it was late.  I had tons of other stuff to do plus I just was never hungry.  Everything I read said breakfast was important, and it should be a good healthy meal.  So I started eating...forcing myself at first...and since then I have found out I love breakfast now.  I even wake up hungry, which is a whole new experience for me.  I have especially loved learning to cook really yummy, healthy breakfast including whole grains.
These waffles are really GOOD!  The recipe is pretty huge, so it makes a lot of waffles, leaving me leftovers to throw in the freezer.  It has made waffles on a school morning easy to do--just pop them in the toaster and they're good to go in just a few minutes.
A word of warning...these are WHOLE WHEAT waffles, but they don't taste any different from waffles made with white flour (I have never made this particular recipe with white flour, so I don't know if the recipe is the same or not).  For a person that isn't used to eating wheat....well...consider yourself warned.

4 egg whites, 2 egg yolks (separated)
3 1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tablespoons vanilla 
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup milled flax seed
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Separate eggs and whip the 4 egg whites until stiff. (Really stiff--sorta like meringue)  Keep 2 of the yolks and put them in another bowl.  Add the milk, oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flours, flax seed, baking powder, sugar and salt all at once (no need to do them one at a time) and mix until the batter is smooth.

Fold in the egg whites and mix until thoroughly incorporated, but do not beat!  The batter will appear a little bit lumpy and the egg whites will show just a bit.

Preheat your waffle iron and coat with cooking spray.  Pour in a fair amount of batter (my waffle iron makes 4 waffles at a time and I use about 1 cup of batter per batch).

The egg whites are what make the waffle puff up in the waffle iron.  Continue to cook according to directions with your waffle iron.  They should be crisp and light brown (not really golden)

 Top with your favorite topping!  I prefer buttermilk syrup and I usually add fresh raspberries when they are in season.  Blueberries would be good too.


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 pint buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the sugar and buttermilk and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat.  Whisk in the vanilla and baking soda (the baking soda will make the syrup foam up when you whisk it hard).  Serve right away or refrigerate and reheat.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A New Year, A New Grocery Budget

With the new year, I am going to try and cut my weekly grocery budget just a smidge again and try to bring it down to $75 a week.  I have an awful lot of food storage and it's time to make decisions about what I "need" vs. what I "can get" with my coupon deals.  (Right now I have 8 big bottles of will probably last me three years...just one of the many things I don't need no matter how cheap it is.)  With that decided, I did my shopping today at Walmart.

Here's what I got and what I paid:
  • 3 boxes Chocolate Cheerios (1.16)
  • 6 bags Yoplait Smoothies (.25--I was going to price match these to $2 but the shelf said they were 1.50, then they rang up at 2.50 but they honored the shelf price :)
  • 4 Crescent Rolls (.50)
  • 8 Grands! biscuits (.50)
  • 8 boxes Hot Pockets (1.24)
  • 3 dozen eggs (.88)
  • 12 boxes Hamburger Helper (.55)
  • 5 boxes Quaker Instant Oatmeal (1.00)
  • 4 Softsoap (.65)
  • 3 packs Ivory soap (.07)
  • 4 packages Don Julio Tortillas (.88)
  • 2 gallons milk (1.66)
  • 1 half gallon Chocolate milk (FREE--get a coupon here when you enter the contest to win free milk for a year)
Altogether I spent $50.22 and I saved $73.50 by price matching and using coupons.  Yay!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gravy

I have been searching literally forYEARS to find a good fried chicken recipe...and I've tried a lot of them, and they've all been good to fair but not absolutely fabulous.  Finally I realized I needed to take all the things I liked about all those recipes and combine them and see if I could come up with one of my here it is, and I personally think it's super delicious!  I don't cook it all that often, so it's kind of a treat when we have it. 
*Disclaimer:  Fried chicken is not good for you.  It is not healthy, and it is not low fat.  If you are looking for healthy and low fat, this is not the recipe for you.  However, if you are looking for really, really, yummy comfort food, it is VERY delicious!  Let your own conscience be your guide and don't blame me when you love it.


1 whole fryer chicken, cut up (or other chicken with bones--I usually use just breasts and drumsticks)
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
oil for frying (about a quart)
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups water

Remove skin if desired (I usually do from the pieces that I can).  Clean and pat dry chicken pieces and place them in a heavy duty zippered plastic bag.  Pour buttermilk in the bag, seal and toss to coat.  Place bag in the refrigerator for one hour.  Combine the flour, salt, pepper, garlic salt, paprika, and poultry seasoning in a new bag.  Drain chicken pieces slightly and add to flour mixture, one at a time, shaking to coat.  Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let it stand for approximately one hour (put it in the fridge once all the pieces are coated). 

The goal of letting it sit is to allow the flour mixture to become pasty (this will help the breading to stay on the chicken during frying).  Pour the leftover flour mixture in a bowl and reserve it for the gravy (put it in the fridge until needed).  Once your chicken looks pasty (hardly any white flour left) it's time to fry it.
Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet to 365 degrees.  Make sure the oil is HOT before you put the chicken in to avoid making it soggy with oil.  Fry chicken until browned on all sides.  Resist the urge to turn the chicken a lot--it will knock off all the breading--and turn using tongs, not a fork. (I only turned the chicken a total of 4 times in the whole cooking process)

Once chicken is nicely browned, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking until tender and completely cooked, approximately 30 minutes (depending on chicken pieces--drumsticks will cook faster than breasts or thighs).  Juices should run clear if the chicken is done!  Cooking time is the hardest part, so keep an eye on it and cut into a fat piece if you're unsure.  When it's done, remove from oil and drain on a wire rack.
To make the gravy, pour all but about 1/4-1/2 cup oil from the skillet.  Stir in 4-5 tablespoons of the flour mixture leftover from the chicken into the drippings and whisk until smooth.  Add evaporated milk slowly, stirring constantly; then add the water (I use water drained from my potatoes).  Bring to a boil over medium low heat, stirring constantly.  Add more water or regular milk to get it to the desired thickness.  The recipe will make approximately 3 1/2 cups of gravy, so adjust accordingly if you need more than that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

I am not a fish person.  About the only kind of fish I eat or cook has always been halibut and orange roughy, both of which tend to be pricey.  Then I found a recipe for tilapia, a fish I had never heard of, and decided to give it a try.  Not only was it delicious, but the fish was pretty cheap (as fish goes) and now I can usually find it for around $1.99 a pound, making it actually reasonable enough for my family to include more fish in our diet.  I have played around with this recipe, and finally got it exactly the way I like it...and the best thing is, it's complete and ready to eat in under 10 minutes! 


1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (or a parmesan/romano blend)
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp. light sour cream
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. celery salt
2 lbs. tilapia fillets

Preheat the oven's broiler and spray a baking sheet or line it with foil.  Lay out the fillets in a single layer on the pan.  Mix together all the other ingredients and set aside.  Broil fillets on the top rack for approximately 2-3 minutes.  Flip them over and broil again for another 2 minutes.  Tilapia fillets are very thin and cook quickly, so be careful not to overcook them (you may even be able to skip the flipping step until you add the topping if the fish looks like it's just about done).  Remove from the oven and cover liberally with the cheese spread.  Broil for about 2 minutes more, until the cheese topping is browned and the fish is flaky.


My Grocery Deals

I had a great trip to Walmart today to price match, although I didn't use too many coupons.  It really looks like a healthy shopping trip doesn't it?  I've gotta really hand it to the cashier that helped me today...he was super fast AND the price that I quoted him for the bags of mini carrots was higher than the price a couple other people had given him, so he told me and gave them to me cheaper than I expected!  Woo Hoo for nice checkers!  Here's what I got and what I paid...
  • 4 16 oz. cottage cheese (.88)
  • 3 Jennie-O Turkey Bacon (1.78)
  • 5 Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt (.12)
  • 6 loaves Grandma Sycamore bread (1.48--and wow were my kids happy to see their favorite bread reappear!)
  • 6 Skippy Peanut Butter (.61)
  • 4  BIG Honey Nut Cheerios (.88--plus these boxes have codes for free movie tickets)
  • 9 Campbell's tomato soup (.49)
  • 10 cans carrots (.50)
  • 12 Yoplait yogurts (.19)
  • 3 gallons milk (not in the picture--1.66)
  •  fuji apples (.69/lb)
  • yellow onions (.19/lb.)
  • broccoli (.50/lb.)
  • jalapenos (.50/lb.)
  • 10 lb. bag of potatoes (.99)
  • 4 bell peppers (.25)
  • bananas (.33/lb.)
  • 2 bags mini carrots (.69)
  • Roma tomatoes (.33/lb... salsa here I come!)
  • 24 pk. water bottles (2.50)
My total for this shopping trip was $55.91 and my savings including coupons was $49.83 over regular Walmart prices.  I actually forgot some things that I wanted, but since it is caselot stuff and I know those things generally stay on sale for three weeks, I will wait and get them next week.