Friday, October 9, 2015

September Reading Review

I was ready to read again this month list after the biggest reading month of the whole year last month.  There was no time to read this month with everything going on with back to school and back to work.  I was a little bummed to call an end to summer and a start to the fall.  I did a bunch of reading but most of it was instead of sleeping (oops).  I am hoping that once we get settled back into a schedule, I will actually figure out how to get everything fit into a day again.

by Debbie Macomber

by Cindy Woodsmall

by Lucy Leid

by Shelia Roberts

Merry Ex-Mas
by Shelia Roberts

What She Wants
by Shelia Roberts

by Michael Symon

Promise, Texas
by Debbie Macomber

Return to Promise, Texas
by Debbie Macomber

The Cottage on Juniper Ridge
by Shelia Roberts

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane
by Shelia Roberts

The Lodge on Holly Road
by Shelia Roberts

The Photograph
by Beverly Lewis

Sheet Pan Suppers
By Molly Gilbert

A Wedding on Primrose Street
by Shelia Roberts

Total Books Read 2015

January       9
February     13
March         14 
April           9
May          12
June          17
July           17
      August       18     
   September   15 

Total Books    124

Currently Reading:

Together for Christmas
by Shelia Roberts, RaeAnne Thayne,
Debbie Macomber, and Brenda Novak

by Richard L. Mabry M.D.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Seasoned Saltine Crackers from the Pioneer Woman

My son is really into the Food Network app so we have been watching a lot of cooking shows.  We have not had cable in about 14 years so I normally don't get to watch those shows unless they are on local channels of PBS (America's Test Kitchen).  For those of you who don't know about it, let me tell you that it is amazing (although a little glitchy) because you can watch live shows or pick a show to watch.  One night my son picked Pioneer Woman and we watched her make Seasoned Saltine Crackers and it has been on my mind ever since.

We were getting close to the end of the month and running out of snack food so I decided to turn the remaining saltine crackers into these buttery good snacks.  I was super excited because I had all the ingredients on hand and I was ready to make them.  I pulled out the ingredients and I was on my way!

I heated up one stick of margarine with 6-8 tablespoons of the coconut oil Melt to add a little different flavor.  I added the seasoned salt and Italian mixed seasonings to the melting butter.

I put two crackers into the butter and mixed them around.  There was so much butter that I thought that I was going to be able to do crackers forever but it did start to dry up.  There was still seasoning in the pan and I had a few more crackers so I put a little more butter in the edge to cover the last few crackers with the wonderful seasoning.

I flipped the crackers and coated both sides before moving them to the sheet pan that I have with a cooling rack fitted inside it so that the butter can drain and the crackers can cook on both sides.  If you don't have anything like this then I would think that you could use the broiler pan that has two levels or else flip the crackers halfway through cooking.

I preheated the oven to 275 degrees and baked them for 20 minutes.  They were cooking up nicely and I didn't have any problem with burning or over browning.

They came out looking golden and beautiful.

I put them in a container and they were ready to store after I taste tested a few of them.

These tasty treats are easy and fun and would dress up any boring cracker to be a tasty treat.  I am going to be trying this with all of our crackers eventually!!!

Seasoned Buttery Crackers

  • 2 sticks margarine or butter
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • 1-2 sleeves Saltine Crackers

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the Italian seasoning and seasoned salt. Dunk the saltines in the mixture covering both sides and place on a rack over a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes.Watch to make sure that they don't over brown or burn.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Wedding on Primrose Street Book Review

I was excited to get the next book in the series on my reserve shelf at the library.  A Wedding on Primrose Street (Life in Icicle Falls) by Sheila Roberts was the next in the Icicle Falls series.  It's title promise a wedding so I was excited to find out what is going on and who was getting married.  I can't wait to find out what is going on in this next installment of the series.

There's nothing like a wedding! 

The joy, the fun, the memories—the stress. As a wedding planner, Anne Richardson has seen mothers of the bride turn into Momzillas, and she's determined not to do that when it's her daughter's turn to get married. But once Laney gets engaged, all bets are off. Anne becomes obsessed with giving Laney the perfect wedding she herself never had. And that wedding needs to be held in Icicle Falls at Primrose Haus, the perfect setting.

Roberta Gilbert, owner of Primrose Haus, has been hosting events at her charming Victorian for thirty years. She's an expert on weddings, but not on mother-daughter relations. When her daughter, Daphne, comes home and decides to help with the business, the receptions become truly memorable—and not in a good way. Then there's the added complication of Roberta's gardener, who seems more interested in Daphne than he is in planting primroses… Tying the knot is a business that has everyone tied up in knots!

I was so happy to get to read this book which is currently the last book in the series that is out.  I have read through this series pretty quickly but the good news is that there is another book that is going to be released next month.  This book was all about planning weddings and hosting weddings from the point of view of the wedding planner and the person that hosts the Victorian house on Primrose Street.  It was very interesting to hear the stories that both of them go through to get the brides the best wedding that they can imagine.  If I had it to do over again, I would go with a smaller wedding with less stress.  I know that everyone attending the wedding had a blast but I was sick and exhausted.  I know that it is hard when you are in the middle of the situation to see forward to the future but this book as a little on both sides of getting the "perfect" day.  Funny thing is that even without that perfect day, you still have the wedding to last the rest of your life.  In a few short weeks, it will be my 11th wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband.  I think that the highlight for both of us was the cake (pumpkin and lemon poppy seed) and when everything was over!!  We normally don't do anything big on our anniversary but sit back and relax to be thankful that we never have through that again even though we enjoyed spending time with our family and friends!!!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the Icicle Falls series at your local library or bookstore soon.  Add the complete series to your wish list and enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sheet Pan Suppers Cookbook Review

I was at the library for my son's Magic Tree House book club and I was set to sit and read my book club selection because the date was moved one week forward and I didn't know but I looked at all the new releases to see if anything jumped off the shelf at me.  My friend and I both went home with a copy of this book,Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven by Molly Gilbert.  Even though I don't like fish and the cover didn't look like something we would eat, you have to admit that it looks pretty.  It also looks like the food might already be made for you inside the book which is also a bonus!!

It’s the one-pot meal reinvented, and what is sure to become every busy cook’s new favorite way of getting dinner on the table. It’s Sheet Pan Suppers—a breakthrough full-color cookbook with more than 120 recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch, and even dessert, that require nothing more than a sheet pan, your oven, and Molly Gilbert’s inspired approach.

The virtue of cooking on a sheet pan is two-fold. First there’s the convenience of cooking everything together and having just one pan to clean up. Then there’s the cooking method—roasting, baking, or broiling—three techniques that intensify flavors; in other words, food tastes better when cooked on a sheet pan (move over, slow cooker). But the real genius here is Molly Gilbert’s fresh, sophisticated approach. There are easy dinners for weeknight meals—Chicken Legs with Fennel and Orange; Soy-Mustard Salmon and Broccoli; Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Squash, Apples, and Onions. Special occasion meals—Rack of Lamb with Herby Bread Crumbs and Buttered Carrots; Asparagus and Black Cod in Parchment. Meatless meals—Israeli Couscous-Stuffed Peppers. Plus surprise extras, including in-a-snap party snacks—Baked Brie and Strawberries, Corn and Crab Cakes with Yogurt Aioli; quick brunch dishes like Greens and Eggs and Ham, and Baked Apricot French Toast; and, of course, dessert—Stone Fruit Slab Pie, Halloween Candy S’mores.

Maximum ease, minimal cleanup, and mouthwatering recipes. In other words, a revelation that will change the way we cook.

I love some of the pictures in this book as well as the recipes.  When I started reading the being I was a little fearful when I read the beginning of the book because I didn't think that I had a sheet pan but after thinking about it more, I realized that I got one a few Christmas's ago.  I normally use my cookie sheets and jelly roll pans without problem but I wanted something bigger and America's Test Kitchen recommended a sheet pan with a rack inside it to cook chicken and other things that you wanted the fat to go to the bottom and not mess up the skin.  I added it to my wish list and got it one Christmas from either my parents or my husband.  But be warned up front that this book is meant to be cooked on a sheet pan (or half sheet pan) and not a jelly roll pan which the difference is discussed in detail at the beginning of the book.  I was excited and continued reading!!

I marked off a few favorites like Nana's Spicy Cheese Biscuits, Quick Chicken with spicy peanut sauce, Chicken Parmesan, Classic Roast Chicken with mustardy potatoes, Crispy Chicken Strips and Biscuits, Simple Hasselback Potatoes, Drop Biscuits, Cheesy Herb Focaccia, Coffee Crumb Cake, Cinnamon Brown Sugar Breakfast Tarts, Blueberry Cornbread Muffin Tops, Fresh Brioche Cinnamon Rolls, Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting, Thinnest Brownies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Peanut Butter Cookies.  I am not sure that I would make all of the recipes that I highlighted but those were the ones that I would eat if someone else made them for me....see there is a fine line in recipes because I have to have the ingredients on hand and the recipe needs to be easy enough to follow.  Here is hoping that I make some of these tasty treats...if not, anyone out there making them and I am coming over for a visit.  YUM!!!  This book read like a great book which is bad when you are already super hungry and reading this!!  I hope that you check it out the next time you are at the library or bookstore for yourself.  Let me know if you read it and what you thought of it!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 10/5

Monday- Buffalo Chicken Salad
Tuesday- Penne Pasta with garlic pizza bites
Wednesday- Worchestershire Chicken with white rice
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Chicken Tenders with homemade fries
Saturday- Soup and Grilled Cheese
Sunday- Breakfast for Dinner

I started this month to go back to monthly planning so I worked through the main meals during the week for the whole month.  I was excited to fill in most of the calendar with the things that we had in the house.  My mom also came and did a huge shopping trip with me which she kindly paid for which included blue cheese, cheddar cheese, chicken fries, butter and lots of snacks for lunches...of course, we bought lots and then I went and paid for take out for lunch which I paid for at about $20.  Isn't that funny when it works out that way?  Although it left for a great dinner of Salad with goat cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and French Onion Potatoes- YUM!!  I have a list of a few things that I need to get this month including ketchup, chicken and ground beef.   I hope that you have a yummy week!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Photograph Book Review

I was looking at the options for reviewing and I found The Photograph by Beverly Lewis which I couldn't pass up so I didn't even look at the other details of the books.  I love the picture on the cover and couldn't wait to read another book by Beverly Lewis.  The book was delivered shortly after I requested it and I got to read it pretty quickly because I had nothing from the library and I was almost done with the books that I had read.  Super excited to pick up this book which I knew next to nothing about and find out what the Photograph was!!!!

Eva Esch and her sisters are in a predicament. With the passing of their widowed mother, Eva's older brother Menno plans to move his growing family into the Eden Valley farmhouse where they all grew up, leaving little room for his three single sisters. Surely, Menno reasons, at least one of them will marry this coming wedding season. Eva does hope to marry, but she isn't sure she wants to give up her sweet shop for the life of a farmer's wife, and she has no other prospects. When younger sister, Lily, disappears in the night, leaving only a brief note, Eva fears she has been wooed away from the People by an outsider. And when Jed Stutzman, a young Amish buggy maker from Ohio, shows up in Lancaster with a photo of a Plain young woman, Eva's world begins to tilt. She feels powerfully drawn to the quietly charming stranger--but the woman in the forbidden photograph is no stranger at all. . . .

Amazing!  Another home run hit by Beverly Lewis.  I loved this book about a family trying to figure out where to go next after loosing their father and mother and now the three unmarried daughters may have to leave their childhood home because their brother is going to move into the house and there isn't enough room for everyone. It might not be the way things are done for normal Americans but it is the way that things are done in the Amish culture so I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen to these sisters when one of the sisters left the small town.  I was fascinated to see the process of this book unfolding and getting to know each of the characters.  Each person is focused on a lot in this book because it seems that it might be the only one in the series so there are no more to look forward to with these characters but who knows if they might not show up in another book she writes soon.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore soon.  It is an amazing book to add to your reading list for this fall.

**I received a copy of this book for my honest opinion and review.  All opinions here are my own.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

End of the Month Shopping and Budget Update

This month, I got my middle of the month review up (here) which showed all my trips at the beginning of the month and how crazy I got which didn't leave a lot for the rest of the month's budget but I did the best that I could... sadly going over budget a little bit.  Check out all the trips and see how you think that I did.

Harris Teeter $41.26

I went a little crazy with this shopping trip because it was my first really big shopping trip back to the store to try to coupon. We have eaten and used most everything in this trip so even though it was way too much of the monthly budget, I still think it was a good trip overall.

Safeway $1.37

My husband took my son to get a doughnut while I was getting my very expensive root canal :( 
I would have rather been eating a doughnut!

Aldi $24.16

A trip with my son to grab a few things which turned into a lot more then was on the list but it was early in the month so I wasn't super worried. I used it all so it obviously wasn't too bad of a choice except the fudge pops which my son was not a fan of.  I guess grandma will be eating those when she comes to visit because she likes ice cream.

Shoppers $4.31

I went to get margarine because I was out of sticks and I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies.  Funny thing was that I made another recipe and didn't use it then but I did use one box this month and still have one going forward...the ice cream is long gone.

Harris Teeter $24.11

I went to the store to get some deals and I got really carried away with all that I got for free that I picked out two very expensive items that we really didn't need yet-toilet paper.  Although I know that we will use it, this wasn't the lowest rock bottom price but I was going to grab one of them and decide which one to buy and I ended up getting both which were about $5 each after sale and coupon so that was about half of the shopping trip but they will get used so not a big problem.

Harris Teeter $14.38

I couldn't stay away after getting so many deals so I loaded up my mom's card with all the online coupons and went back to grab a bunch more super freebies which we will greatly enjoy.


Harris Teeter $20.98

I went back to try to get a few more of the deals that still weren't on the shelf but used some rain checks to get the Puffs tissues (because we were totally out) and the Quaker Big Chewy Bars.  I added the Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice because it was on sale for $2.00 each and they are my husband's favorite.  I was hoping to break is new soda addiction which did not totally work.  I turned in this deal for $0.20 back from Ibotta for frozen veggies.

Harris Teeter $2.08

I was still trying to get the Domino Sugar which I totally missed at the other store and they didn't have it but I grabbed two more chicken tenders- YUM!!  Totally a splurge at $1 but they are so tasty!!

Aldi $23.18

I sadly had to get juice boxes and oranges for soccer in this shopping trip which was the main purpose of the trip other then that we needed milk.  There were a few other things that we needed and I have already used this month like the celery, eggs, oyster crackers, oil and brown sugar.  I don't feel like I went too crazy but I feel like my total was a little high so I am mostly blaming the soccer supplies at almost $6 but it is the cost of playing soccer to bring once a season.

CVS $14.15 and CVS $0.85

I did this as two transactions because CVS is much easier to do like that.  I bought the Meta Bars with a rain check (which I was dreading using) which made it free after CVS coupon.  I kept the ad with the rain check and the coupon just in case there were any questions...sadly, it took a long time to find all that in the moving mess around the house but I finally did.  There was a coupon in the P&G coupon insert for $2 off any Meta bars.  I needed the Excedrin and if you bought two then you got $10 back.  I used coupons and got the first transaction for $14.15.  I used the $10 ECB to buy the Coke and I used a coupon for $1/3 so I grabbed two boxes of tissues since they didn't have the Children's Advil that I was planning on using as a filler and I paid $0.85 after coupons for the second transaction.

Harris Teeter $15.46

My crazy splurge was going to the store after I knew that I already went overboard for the month and continuing to shop but there were a lot of deals that I couldn't pass up especially the $1.97 for the 18 count eggs.  I paid more than that for the 12 count that I got earlier in the month.  After looking on the websites and seeing a few of the other deals that they had at the store, I couldn't pass it up including getting to $15 so that I could use the $3 off $15 purchase that I got from Wegman's which Harris Teeter accepts as a competitors coupon.  I saved over $40 with the sales that I got and I didn't even use any rain checks.  I will be getting $3.29 back for the soup from Saving Star

Total Retail $524.83
Total Savings $338.54
Total OOP $186.29

 Total Over Budget $26.29 

I earned $0.60 on Ibotta, $0.50 Checkout 51, and $7.25 Saving Star with an additiona1 $3.29 pending for a total of $11.64 rebates.  It might not be all that I was over budget but I think that is a ton of great money back on a great month of shopping!!

I knew that I was over budget and I still made a choice to go back to the store to get a few more deals at the very end of the month because I couldn't pass up the free Pronto pasta, freebie from Saving Star on soup and $1.97 for 18 ct eggs.  I hope to do a little better next month but overall, I got a ton of things that we used and creatively baked to add some other items to our meals including bread, applesauce bread, pumpkin bread, chocolate chip cookies, cherry coffee cake, oyster crackers, seasoned crackers and more.  I am hoping that with a little more work, I can start stocking up on somethings so that we have a little more cushion to go forward in the coming months.