Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pinterest.. The Good and The Bad

For those of you that live under a rock, there is a website a very addicting website by the name of Pinterest.  I spend many an hour scouring the site looking for fun new ideas, DIY projects, cars that I will never own, dream vacation homes, jewelry, and of course food.  I really enjoying cooking and baking and wish I had more free time during the day to do so.  But alas, I don't, so I'm always on the lookout for yummy crock pot dinners and easy to put together meals.  I don't know about you, but when I get home from work sometimes I lack the motivation to prepare a meal.  I recently made two meals from the above-mentioned site.  One crock pot recipe and one easy to prepare meal. 

First up... Beer & Brown Sugar Kielbasa

Here's my review of this dish... it was good, but it wasn't great.  I think that I like my kielbasa done on the grill.  I like the snap and the char.  It was flavorful, but I wouldn't make it again.  Also, if you do decide to make this and it's only for 2 people I would suggest cutting the recipe in half.  There were way too many leftovers for a so-so dish.

Second trial... Million Dollar Spaghetti

Now this my friends was DELISH! I would absolutely recommend making this.  The ingredients are cheap and it comes together quickly.  I had my reservations at first.  I hate cottage cheese, but because it's blended until smooth with the other cheeses you don't even notice.  It almost tastes like a deconstructed lasagna.  It's really tasty and not dry at all.  I will be making this one again.  Plus, you make it in a 9x13 pan so there's a lot to go around or if it's just the two of you, quiet a few leftovers. 

All in all I love Pinterest.  BUT if you find something you want to try, try it.  Just remember it may not turn out the way it looks in the picture or you may hate it.  OR you may love it and keep it in your regular repertoire. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Little Chicken That Could

Last week I received my new crock pot and promptly made a tasty crock pot chicken.  This little bird lasted a few meals, one of which was chicken chili.  It's really easy and quick to make, especially since everything is essentially cooked, it just needs to be heated up.  It was a really nice night when John and I got home from work so we decided to take a little walk down the street with the doggies while the chili came together. 

Now, here's the disclaimer for this recipe (I'm not even sure you can call it a recipe).  I never measure anything for it.  I do it all on taste.  But here's what's in it:

1 large can of tomato sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can of pinto beans (rinsed)
1 can of dark red kidney beans (rinsed)
1 Medium onion diced (if you have time)
Shredded Chicken
Tabasco Sauce
Chili Powder
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Fresh Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Stir it all up, set the temperature on medium-low and let the flavors meld.  Taste it once in a while to see what you need to add.  Once it's to the temperature and flavor you like, enjoy!

Enjoy with cheese, sour cream, and some tortilla chips if desired!

Friday, October 19, 2012

I love you... I love you not..

We all have those relationships.. you know.. the love/hate kind.  The subject of my balancing love is the Fall season, which is currently upon us.  I love Fall!  The weather starts to get cooler, the leaves start to change, nice days and cool nights, and you get to bring your cute boots out of closet hibernation.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
The leaves were just starting to change!

Self-portrait on our Blue Ridge excursion.

 But, with these nice changes come a few things I dislike about Fall.  The days become shorter.  You get home after a day in the office and it already looks like it's midnight outside.  You wake up for work and there is not a sliver of sunlight to be seen.  This my friends is my biggest hangup.  I was doing so well with exercising every morning before work during the summer.  The alarm would go off and I would get up immediately (or at least after the first snooze).  NOW, I just can't find the motivation. My brain says, "It's dark, keep sleeping".  I need sunlight to get me going.  When the alarm goes off now I just keep hitting the snooze button (very much to John's dismay).  I need help!  I need to workout in the morning.  My motivation is lacking when I get home as well.  I did however workout in the evening once this week, but it was definitely not ideal.  There are too many factors that play into the evenings activities to make it a regular occurrence.  Anyone have any morning workout motivating suggestions?? 

So that my friends is my love/hate relationship with the Fall season. 
                 "Dear Fall,
                       I love your pretty changing leaves and cooler weather, but your
                       lack of morning sunshine is killing my morning motivation. 
                       Please don't make me kill you 3 times in my head.  Let's work
                       this out.
                 Your Most of the Time Fan, 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gettin' Handsy!

Shellac or Gellish manicures are my new found love.  They usually last over 2 weeks on my nails and they look shiny-wet for the entirety.  Now mind you, I like to get a fresh manicure about every 2 weeks because my nails start to grow out and my cuticles could use some TLC.  However, this past week we were a little tight on cash and my nails were getting to the embarrassing point.  The problem with the Shellac nail polish is that the nail techs tell you not to remove it yourself or peel it off your nails.  (Really, don't peel it off your nails.  It will take a few layers of your nail with it)  However, after watching the nail techs remove the Shellac from my nails before I knew I just needed to get my hands on some Acetone nail polish remover.  It just so happens that CVS carries a large bottle (CVS brand) of professional nail polish remover for about $5.00.  You will also need a bowl or a manicure soaker, an orange stick cuticle pusher, and a 2-sided nail file. 


Pour the polish remover into your bowl and soak your nails for 3-5 minutes.  You will notice that the Shellac will start to peel up.  Take your orange stick and with gentle pressure scrape the polish off your nails.  Once you're finished your nails are going to look HORRIBLE.  Take the coarse side of the file and file it over the tops of the nails.  Go back over with the fine side of the file for a smoother finish.  At this point you can continue your regular manicure or do what I did and moisturize your nails and hands to the point where you can't grasp a damn thing.  The pure acetone just dries everything out.  Works like a champ though!  I would also recommend doing this for glitter nail polish removal as well.  Good luck and Godspeed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ooohh... How Shiny and New!

My crock pot has seen better days.  I've have it for-ev-er.  I can't even remember when I purchased it.  The knob is broken, you need to make sure to apply enough pressure while turning it to set the temperature.  One of the plastic handles crumbed in my hand last time I was putting it away.  OK, it was time for a new crockpot.  Luckily, I work for a company where we get great deals on Calphalon.  While browsing the employee purchase site lowandbehold they had a special purchase for Calphalon Digital Crock pots.  BINGO!  7 quart, digital, black and stainless, and NEW.  A few clicks later this baby was on the way to it's new home.  One thing that I love doing with my crock pot is simmering a whole roaster chicken until the meat is falling off the bones.  I enjoy using the shredded chicken for chicken chili, nachos, chicken soup, BBQ pulled chicken.  It makes a few meals.

  • 4-6 lb roaster chicken
  • Roughly chop the following vegetables:
    • 1 onion
    • 2-3 carrots
    • 2-3 ribs of celery
  • 1 box of chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
Place the chopped veggies on the bottom of the crock.  Remove the gizzards from your chicken and give it a good wash.  Place the cleaned chicken on the veggies.  Add your thyme, salt & pepper.  Fill the crock with the box of stock.  Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
Once the chicken is done, remove from the crock pot.  Be careful!  She's very hot and needs to cool off in a separate bowl.  Once cooled, remove the meat from the bones and store in an airtight container.  If you would like to keep the stock strain it into a ziplock bag.  (Make sure the liquid has cooled off a bit).  If you don't plan on using the stock immediately, no worries, you can freeze it.   
I'm looking forward to using my shiny new crock pot for many more meals.  Be sure to check back for some new crock pot creations in the near future!

Back On The Wagon

I know I have been MIA for a while now.  I think my last post was in February.. it's now October.  Eek!  I renewed my subscription to the Sunday paper so I can get coupons again.  I was doing pretty well planning out meals for the following week and sticking to a budget.  Then something happened... I'm not sure what, but the wagon we were riding fell off the trail.  Kind of like Oregon Trail.  One day you're trucking down the trail, no cares in the world and BOOM!, there's a flash flood. All of your food is washed away, one of your mules died and the other one has a broken leg.  *Sigh*  Time to restart the game. 

If you think about it though, life is usually like this.  One minute it's going great, and the next something happens and you get derailed.  So here I am, back where I started.  Still DINK (double income, no kids) status, but somehow incapable of holding onto our hard earned money for very long.  Don't get me wrong, we do fun things.  Just last week we went on vacation up North and had a great time visiting with family and friends.  But when we're talking about money and the future, well, let's not go there.  So we will try to keep sight on the present and build up to the future. 

Since I had Labor Day off I decided to spend it in the kitchen.  The neighbor looked in on the cat while we were gone so I thought it would be nice to make them some bread.  I really like making bread.  The assembly is very quick, it's the rising that takes forever.  If you want to make bread be sure you're not busy that day because you will have to devote your time at home.  My aunt taught me this recipe and it's made in a food processor.  If you're interested in the recipe please feel free to email me about it.

(Sorry for the crooked bread picture, I couldn't get it to edit straight)
I also made some roasted red pepper chickpea spread to go with the freshly baked bread.  However, I did not photograph that process.  Once the bread was cooled and the spread prepared I brought some over to the neighbors for looking after the cat.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's True!

My first week on my grocery budget I went shopping at Super Walmart.  You know, the place where the slogan is, "Save Money, Live Better".  That first week I spent $59.61,  $8.45 under budget.  I decided that I should "shop" around, but after going $23.61 over budget at Harris Teeter, I decided I should give Super Walmart another try.  So this past Friday, coupons and grocery list in hand.  I fought my way through the Super Walmart parking lot to attempt another weekly grocery run.  Turns out that this time I spent a total of $59.34, $5.66 under budget.  I'm sensing a pattern here!  As much as I loathe shopping at Walmart it really seems as though it is less expensive.  Looks like they are saving us money.  However, I don't feel they allow me to live better.  I live pretty well on my own thankyouverymuch!  For that $59.34 this is what I got for the weeks meals:

  • Chicken, Chicken
  • Chicken Pot Pie Pockets
  • Grown Up Bacon Mac n' Cheese
  • Chicken Salad

Chicken, Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  If you are not signed up, do so.  I warn you though, it is addicting!  There is a bevy of great recipes to be had.  This recipe was OK, I doubt I'll make it again.  Edible, but nothing to crave.

Find the recipe here.

Chicken Pot Pie Pockets

Find the recipe here.

These were good, but I don't have a picture of them because they were by no means pretty.  I thought using my popover pan would be helpful, but the cups were just too deep (or the biscuits were not big enough).  So I would suggest using the regular muffin tin.

Grown Up Bacon Mac n' Cheese

Find the recipe here.

This was really good!  Very cheesy and the bread crumbs added a yummy crunch.  I tweeked 2 things, 1. I added Italian Panko breadcrumbs (extra crunchy) and 2. I used in the jar bacon bits.  (I just didn't feel like dirtying up another pan)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gone to the Dogs

Last night I decided to make my pooches some dog bones.  I have made them in the past, but not since we moved.  They are easy to make and usually require few ingredents.  Below is the recipe for Oatmeal Peanut Butter bones. (They can easily be made in a double batch, which I did, since I have 3 hungry puppies)

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Dog Bones

  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease your baking pan.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and oatmeal. Once mixed, add the peanut butter and milk. Stir until dough forms.

  3. Put your dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead  and then roll out until 1/4″ thick. Use a bone-shaped cookie cutter or a cookie cutter and cut the dough into the desired size and shape.

  4. Bake on lightly greased baking pan and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  5. Cool completly. Be sure to store in an airtight jar or resealable freezer bag. 

Doggie Approved!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weekly Menu - January 21-27

As I stated in my resolution post, we are now grocery shopping on a weekly scheduled basis with a $65.00 budget.  My shopping day is Friday (because that's payday).  This is the menu for the week:

  • Shepard's Pie
  • Tacos
  • Egg Salad
  • Homemade sandwich bread
  • Sinckerdoodle cookies
  • Sweet Tea
Shepard's Pie

You can find the recipe here.

This was absolutely delish! 


Really, who doesn't enjoy tacos??  My version is pretty quick and easy and does not include a little seasoning packet.

  • 1 lb ground beef, 85%-90% lean
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large jar of salsa (feel free to use any flavor or temp)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • finely minced jalapeno, if you like it spicy
Saute onions in olive oil, add meat, season with salt and pepper, brown.  Drain meat.  Add salsa and rest of ingredients.  Put on simmer, stir occasionally, taste for any flavoring additions.  Feel free to simmer this for a while, it will allow the flavors to meld together. 

Enjoy with taco shells, tortilla shells, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, and sour cream, yum!


Sandwich Bread

Find the recipe here.

Sickerdoodle Cookies

These really are some of the best sickerdoodles that I have had.  They are flavorful and chewy.. mmm!

Find the recipe here.

Sweet Tea

If you have an iced tea maker this really is the best way to make iced tea quickly.  I have also found that Luzianne Tea works best.  It really does have a great flavor.  I would recommend using the "family size" tea bag to make the iced tea and after it brews and is hot add your sweetener.  This is mostly to your taste.  Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take away.

"So a man walks into a bar..."

Well not exactly... After John and I moved into our new house we noticed that there was an odd void in the pantry area.  Originally, this space was deemed as the entry from the garage to the house.  They decided to scrap those plans and move the entry from the garage to the back of the house.  (A much better placement in my opinion)  This reconfiguration however created an empty space.  If you have ever seen a real estate show you will hear how they feel that a usable space adds more value than an empty one.  Plus, if I have the empty space I might as well make it useful.  So we decided to construct a bar area.  We found our matching countertop and a close best to our existing kitchen cabinets.  Unfortunately, the cabinets we have are custom order and honestly we weren't going to shell out $700 for one base cabinet. 

We placed an order for our countertop about 2 weeks ago at Home Depot and it came in on Saturday.  We ran up to Home Dept to pick it up and to pick out a new ceiling light fixture as well.  Builder lighting is SO ugly and gives off a firefly amount of light.  After our trip Home Depot we ran back home, dropped off the countertop and got back in the car and headed to Lowe's to buy the base cabinet.  We found the closest match to our existing cabinets and headed back home to install everything.  

All in all it wasn't too hard.  We switched the configuration around a few times to see which way we liked it best and then screwed everything in.  I will have to say that John did take off some finishing molding in order for the cabinet to fit more flush to the wall.  I would say the install took about 2 hours, not too long and viola!  We have a bar.  

If you're thinking about doing something like this I say, do it!  It's really not that hard.  It just takes a little money and time.  Plus, just think how much money you saved by doing it yourself.  Although, I'm not saying all projects should be tackled DIY style.  i.e. our next project - fence installation.  


Friday, January 20, 2012

A 2012 Resolution (Let's hope it lasts!)

Resolutions.. many made, few kept.  However, this year (yes, I know I am about 18 days late) it's time for a budget.  You may ask "What?  You don't have a budget?"  Well no.  John and I  never really had to have a budget.  When you are a DINK (Double Income No Kids) there is not always a need for one.  Want some ice cream on a whim?  Sure! No problem.  Off to the local store for a $7.00 pint of premium ice cream.  Need a Saturday morning coffee but the coffee maker just won't do?  Easy peazy!  Take a ride down to the Sbux grab 2 coffee's and that'll be another $7.00.  By the end of the month those $7.00 trips really add up.  Not to mention the trips to Target, which usually ends up costing $80.00 a pop!  So at the end of the month we were left scratching our heads wondering where all our money went. 

Since we are adults I thought we should get with the program and learn how to budget and reign in our spending urges.  Starting back in November 2011 I started to calculate all of our expenses and figured out what we have coming in and going out.  Mind you, I had done this in the past about a million times, but it never stuck.  I was determined to make it a sticking point in 2012At the beginning of January I made us a budget separated out by a weekly and bi-weekly budget.  One thing that we had never done in the past was grocery shop on a specific day or within a specific budget.  Every week we now have a grocery budget of $65.00 or $260.00 per month.  Again, we are only a family of 2 so this is possible for us however it may not be a reality for larger families.  

I thought that this venue would be a good place to keep me in check and share my weekly budget friendly recipes. 

After work, last Friday, January 13th, I decided to hit up the local Super Walmart for the weekly groceries.  I bought enough food for 3 meals to eat over the week and something for lunch.

Here was the menu for this week:
  • Chicken Chili
  • Chicken Noodle Soup 
  • Ground Turkey, Pasta Bake
  • Cheddar Bay Biscuits
  • Egg Salad 
There is a little time and energy that is needed to make a $65.00/week grocery budget work.  What I mean by that is there is some preparation that goes into the meal planning.  

I did not buy any sandwich bread while at Walmart.  I did however make my own sandwich bread.  Find the recipe here for King Arthur white sandwich breadI don't know how much this cost to make but it's probably a few cents.  It's delicious, homemade, and no preservatives.  

I purchased a roaster chicken for my chili and soup but needed to prepare it before turning into a dinner.  

Flavorful Shredded Chicken
Items needed - Crockpot
  • 1 roaster chicken, washed, salted and peppered
  • 3-4 carrots washed and quartered
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3-4 celery stalks washed and quartered
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
In your crockpot place veggies on the bottom.  Place chicken on the veggies, salt and pepper the bird.  Add the chicken stock.  Cook on high 3-4 hours.
After the bird is done remove it from the liquid and remove meat from the bone and hand shred.  Take the cooking liquid and strain out the veggies.  Keep the cooking liquid and use for the chicken noodle soup.   

Chicken Chili
Items needed - Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot
  • Take 1/2 of your shredded chicken, put aside
  • 2 table. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 4 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 table. chili powder
  • 1 table. onion powder
  • 1 table. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 can pinto beans (Drain and rinse)
  • 1 can dark kidney beans (Drain and rinse)
  • If desired, sour cream, shredded cheese
Over medium heat add diced onion and saute in 2 table. olive oil. Add garlic and chicken, cook for 2 minutes.  Add the rest of ingredients and reduce heat to simmer.  Season chili to taste.  Remember you can add but you can't take away!
Simmer for 20-30 minutes.  The longer it simmers the more the flavors will meld. Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream and cheese!

Chicken Noodle Soup
Items needed - Large pot

  •  Leftover chicken
  • Leftover broth
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 lb of carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste (taste broth before adding salt as it can be salty)
  • Egg noodles, small pasta, or wild rice
  • 2 table. olive oil
Add olive oil to pot and saute carrots, celery, and onions with a pinch of salt.  (If using rice add it to the sauteed veggies) Add broth.  (if using rice cook until al dente).  Add chicken and rest of the ingredients.  Simmer until warmed through.  If using noodles or pasta add just before serving until they are soft, but not over done. 

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

Items needed - 9x9 glass casserole dish

  • 1 box of macaroni
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pint Ricotta cheese
  • 1 jar Spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 table. olive oil
In a separate bowl mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, pinch of salt, and 1/4 tsp. of pepper.  Brown ground turkey in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, add Italian seasoning.  Drain.

In a large bowl add cooked pasta, browned turkey, tomato sauce and combine.

Spread half of the macaroni mixture over the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 of the ricotta mixture.  Add the other 1/2 of the macaroni mixture on top, add remaining ricotta mixture and remaining mozzarella (Mozzarella should be on top).  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes.  Enjoy! 

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I borrowed this recipe from here The Girl Who Ate Everything

I made mine kind of large.  I didn't have patience last night.  If you want them a bit smaller make them as the recipe states.  They are still tasty at any size!