Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thrifty Thursday Tip for homemade baby wipes

I haven't actually made my own baby wipes yet but I have been pretty close between deals with the recipe in my back pocket.  It is a great deal to make your own because you probably have the stuff already at home.

We love to use Pampers Thick Sensitive Wipes but we don't like the Pampers container... we like the Huggies container.
I know that this sounds crazy but we used to get the Pampers refill and re-use the Huggies container (better top and prettier pictures).  Make sure you save a few containers from both until you decide which container you like better.  Plus, we use the old wipe containers to hold toys- cars, blocks, and playdough toys.  But a great idea is to save a few containers and make your own wipe.

1.  Cut a roll of paper towels in half and remove the cardboard roll.  It is best if you use the nice paper towels like Extra Soft Bounty or Viva since they are super soft for the baby :)

2. Mix 2 cups water, 1 Tbsp. baby oil, and 1 Tbsp. baby wash in a large enough bowl (or seal-able tupperware/rubbermaid container) to fit the cut roll.

3.  Soak the roll in the solution and flip to soak other side if using a bowl (or shake solution in sealed container) Some recipes suggest soaking directly in the baby wipe container but others say it is too messy.  I think that this is one that will take the most work to get the easiest method for your own needs.

4. Put roll into wipe container or rip paper towels apart and put in wipe container (if you think that you are going to rip them apart, it might be easier to do when dry and pour the solution directly in the wipe container over the folded towels). 

I think that a lot of this is a trial and error and what works best for you and your family (and what you have around the house).
Currently, I made money on buying 12 containers of baby wipes so we are set for a long time (hopefully through potty training and only using for hand wipes) but if not, I am going to be making some since I have all the ingredients already on hand.  I wish that I had made some early on when my son was really young but I never heard of making homemade wipes.  I hope that passing these on to another mom who could use them before they get to the potty training phase or at least in a pinch so that you don't have to rush to the store :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fried Zucchini Spaghetti

Awhile ago, I saw this episode of Rachel Ray with Gwyneth Paltrow (recipe here) and shortly after tried making it.  I thought it was a fresh tasting pasta which was great because it didn't have a red sauce so I borrowed the book from the library even though I found the one recipe on the internet because I thought that there would be a few other fun recipes in it.

I pulled everything out to make the fried zucchini spaghetti.

I mixed the olive oil, pepper, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl to await the spaghetti.

Then I cut the zucchini into thin slices... then I stopped to read the recipe :)

It was a great chance to read the original recipe from the book and online.  I wasn't sure the next step on the zucchini because when I bread them, I soak them in milk.... not in this recipe. Straight into flour like this:

Then I fried the zucchini in a single layer in a skillet with hot oil while the spaghetti boiled away on the other burner.... did I take a picture of all that activity... NOPE!!!  Too busy flipping the zucchini to take pictures.. OOPS!  When the zucchini browns, remove it from the hot oil and place on paper towel.  Put sea salt on the yummy zucchini chips. 

Did you forget about the spaghetti?  Remove a measuring cup full of pasta water and then drain the spaghetti.  Add a little bit of the pasta water to the Parmesan cheese mixture and stir.  Dump the pasta in the bowl and toss with cheese mixture.  Add a few zucchini chips into the pasta and toss again.  Top with Parmesan cheese (optional).

Serve on plate or bowl and top with more crispy zucchini chips!  Did I take a picture of the finished plate?... ummm, nope.  Did I save some for my sister in law like I promised?... ummm, nope.  I might be fired from this blogging thing and my sister in law duties but I swear it was so yummy that we ate the whole bowl super fast and it was wonderful.  The only bad thing is that it seems really light so you eat more :) 

I will try to be better next time...but I can't promise because it is super hard to wait the few seconds to take the picture. 

I hope that you try this recipe sometime and don't wait for the next time that I make it!!!  I promise that it is super yummy and a great summer time treat :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life Laughs Book Review

Life Laughs: The Naked Truth about Motherhood, Marriage, and Moving On by Jenny McCarthy was a funny book that I thought would be a good read. 

The warning on the front should be that this is raunchy- or flat out dirty book.  As long as you are prepared for a really honest book (in her words), this is a funny (and vulgar) book.  I read it in on afternoon even though it was over 200 pages. 

I am not sure if this book will have me going out to look for her other books but it certainly was a light read after a hard day.  I don't know if I would give this a recommendation but please let me know if you have read it, what you think!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 5/28

Monday- BBQ Spiedies and Hot Dogs with corn on the cob
Tuesday- Orange Poppyseed with cous cous
Wednesday- Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Thursday- Italian Chicken with herb rice
Friday- Crunchy Taco Rice
Saturday- Sloppy Joes with soft pretzels/Rosemary Chicken with potatoes
Sunday- Nationals Game- don't know about lunch or dinner

Here is hoping for a slow week of cooking with the guests winding down with my mother in law and sister in law leaving on Wednesday. 

I think that I need to take a second look at the pantry and freezer to see what else I can put together for the June menu plan because we are already into June and I don't yet have a menu plan finished yet... oops.  I hope that I can use up a bunch of things and re-organize the pantry with whatever is left.  Here is hoping!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

CVS Shopping Trip 5/27

I haven't found anything at CVS for weeks but this week, there was a free candy bar after ECB and with the coupon from, I got two free.  Let me show you how this worked!!

My husband's card:

Milky Way $0.75 x 2= $1.50
Less coupon -$0.75
Subtotal        $0.75
Less ECB     $0.75
Total Due $0.00 (actually $0.04 tax only)

My card:

Milky Way $0.75 x 2= $1.50
Less coupon -$0.75
Subtotal        $0.75
Total Due $0.75 (plus $0.04 tax)

The even better news is that I found $0.12 at the check out and my mother in law chipped in a few pennies from her change purse so it was less than $0.83 with all the money falling out of the sky :)  Plus on one card, I got back my $1 for the green bag tag uses.  I now have $2.50 in ECB between the two cards to use in June!! 

I know that 4 candy bars isn't the healthiest trip to the store but I am sure that they will get eaten!!  Hope that you had a great trip and you got something more than candy :)

Weekly Goals 5/27

My cousin suggested making my comments in a different color then the main text so I tried a shade of purple.  Let me know how you like it :)  I might pick one color and stick with it or change every week to be crazy!!!

Last Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family- Lot of quality time
  • Storytime at the library- We skipped storytime at the library and went to the indoor playground
  • Sing along at son's school on the last day- We had a great time even though it meant that school was over but I don't think that he knows that week is going to be tough
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 3 days of the week- Done- I might have actually done better than 3 days this week but I totally don't even know
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- Done.. I try to wash a few everytime I am in the kitchen so that there aren't so many at once.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday- Done.. YEAH!!
  • Schedule at least 5 posts so that can spend more time with family- Done
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family
  • Playdate at the park
  • Playdate with son's friend at the house
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 4 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday
  • Schedule at least 5 posts so that can spend more time with family
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Shopping Round Up

Week in Review

I went to a bunch of stores this week for small trips and I decided that I would put them all together to have one full accounting.  Ever penny counts when you are counting pennies :)  The great thing is that you can click on each link on each post to get more details on what I got during that trip.

Harris Teeter Trip 5/20:  $2.21

Safeway Trip 5/20: $1.68

Harris Teeter Trip 5/22:  $1.96

Harris Teeter Trip 5/24:  $0.00  (not really all free but my mother in law picked up the tab)

Total Spent this week $5.85
Total Spent in May $138.65

Pretty low for a whole week of groceries!! Now I have to figure out what is left on my list to get for the rest of the month by starting my meal plan for June :)  Hope that you had a great week at the stores too!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers Book Review

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity by Margaret J. Meeker seemed like a great book to check out when I saw it on another blog.  I went online to reserve it thinking that it would help me stay sane :)  I decided to read it while I had a full house of visitors to add to the need for sanity!

The chapters are based on the 10 Habits as follows:

1. Understand Your Value as a Mother
2. Maintain Key Friendships
3. Value and Practice Faith
4. Say No to Competition
5. Create a Healthier Relationship with Money
6. Make Time for Solitude
7. Give and Get Love in Healthy Ways
8. Find Ways to Live Simply
9. Let Go of Fear
10. Hope Is a Decision- So Make It!

After starting it, I realized it really wasn't a book that I would normally read.  There was a lot of spiritual and god speaking through people references that aren't my normal literature but I kept reading (all of Chapter 3).  It was mostly talking about having faith and not a belief in a certain religion so it was still a motivational chapter.

There were some good points in the book including not to be competitive or jealous of other mothers (Chapter 4).  Have you ever seen a mother who has the well dressed child and has her hair and make up done and thought... what am I doing wrong that I haven't even bothered any of that in years?  Don't be jealous because she doesn't have it together anymore than you and may have woken up hours early to do all that work before her child woke up. 

The author talks about making decisions on why you are spending money (Chapter 5) and not spending emotional.  I don't think that I really do this anymore so I guess that is one chapter crossed off the list.  The author says that she likes to purchase plum lipstick to make her feel better.  I know a few people that buy shoes, purses, or clothes to make them feel better.  Many people know that they have issues with specific items but this still doesn't change that they feel emotional better when they buy them.  It is best to work on being happy and not needing more of what you already have.

It also talks about needing solitude and taking a break from noise even if just a few minutes on a car ride (Chapter 6).  I know that before I had my son, I must have had a lot of quiet time because I don't remember needing it like I do now.  I find that I like my quiet time now and even require it.  Many people told me that when I quit my job that I would miss people tons and not be able to make it at home.  Turns out, now that I am home with my son, I find that I love my quiet time even more and don't miss people at all.  I would take hours of time of quiet if possible and even turn off the radio sometimes in the car when I am by myself.

Live Simply (Chapter 8)!  This chapter talks about how you should spend more time together as a family and not over schedule so that you don't enjoy family time.  The part that rings true to me is that the best part of growing up and that you remember later in life if dinner with the family and game nights.  If you had piano lessons, baseball practice, and other after school events, then you would be spending all the time driving to and from events and not enjoying time as a family.

Each chapter covers a great topic and gives examples with real people.  The chapter ends with three ways to make the habit stick which provides exact steps on trying to make your life more HAPPY :)  The structure is easy to read and makes the book fly by.  Even though it isn't a book I would normally choose, I am glad that I read it and I would recommend it to others to want to make their life more positive.

I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore soon.  Please let me know what you think of the book when you read it!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 5/24

I was super excited to see the Harris Teeter sales on the first day of the new ad even though I had already been there a ton during triples. 

I decided that I was going to get the Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice on sale, B1G1 with the B1G1 coupon so that they would both be free.  I still had two coupons left so I got 4 bottles of wonderful cranberry juice for my husband's stockpile of juices which I am hoping last a good, long time!  (I think that we have 12 Ocean Spray Juices and 2 Welch's Cranberry Grape).

This morning I used most of the remaining loaf of bread so I decided that I would also get a loaf of bread.  The great news is that the Harris Teeter bread that my son loves was on sale for $0.99!!!  I will be noting to myself to go back before the sale is over to get another one and a package of hamburger rolls.

My mother in law came with us and found a seedless watermelon like she wanted on sale for $3.99.  She also found zucchini on sale for $0.99 per pound so she grabbed some so that I could make my not-fried zucchini for dinner one night.

During the check out process, we found out that it was senior discount day!!!  WOO HOO!!!  My mother in law decided that she was going to buy everything in order to get the discount!! 

Her total OOP was $4.04 (which made my total was $0! Best kind of shopping trip ever :) 

Thrifty Thursday Tip for cleaning

10 Ways to Clean things with stuff you might already have:

1.  Use a slice of white bread on plate covered in white vinegar to absorb musty smell.

2.  Make your own sanitizing wipes with a roll over paper towels and pour 3 cups of Lysol multi-purpose cleaner over them.  Store in sealed container.

3. Clean iron by putting vinegar in iron and press steam to get hard water stains out.  Be sure to run water after to clear out before using on clothes.

4.  Use unsweetened lemonade kool-aid in dishwasher soap dispenser to clean out hard water build up.  (Does this make you wonder what it does to our stomach?)

5.  To clean bathroom drain, add 1 c salt, 1 c baking soda, and 1/2 c white vinegar.  Let it stand for 15 minutes and flush with 2 quarts of boiling water followed by hot tap water for 1 minute.

6.  Clean dry erase board with WD-40.

7.  Make own odor eater with 2 tsp of vanilla on damp paper towel and leave for 3 days.  (I just might have to do this the next time I burn popcorn because nothing else worked)

8.  Use 70% rubbing alcohol to remove pine sap from car.

9.  Use 50/50 vinegar and water to clean soda spills in cars.  Use old toothbrush to get into the seat material.

10.  Use corn starch in squeaky wood floors.  (I am tempted by this one but I think that I would have to clean the basement so waiting a little longer until I clean out the basement).

I haven't used all the tips myself but I think that they are pretty nifty because it means that you can use things that you already have and you know what you are using is safe for your family.  If you have any other tips, please leave a note so that everyone knows your helpful tip!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 5/22

Today was the last day of triples so we took one last trip to see what we couldn't pass up.  My mother in law used all 20 of her coupons and I only used 6 :)  There really wasn't anymore on my must have list because I got most of the deals that I needed.  I grabbed 3 Texas Pete Hot Sauce and 3 Cinnamon Pretzels.

I also got the Febreze Car Air Freshener for my mother in law since I was supposed to have a $1 Evic coupon but it didn't come off :(  I went to customer service and they gave me a $1 back for the coupon issue.  She traded me for 3 more Texas Pete and 2 Smart Balance Cooking Sprays so I made out well :)
My total OOP was $1.97 (savings $15.59)

The last triples trip is over and I am hoping for a slow rest of the month!!!  I hope that you are having a good month and excited that we are getting to the end of it again!!

Blueberry Cobbler for Dessert

I have wanted to make this blueberry cobbler since I saw the post.  I knew that I should make it while my whole family was here because it was way more than just the two of us could eat!!  I finally got it in the oven to have after dinner.  It was super easy and super yummy so I hope that you try it soon.  I decided since I like the flavor of cinnamon with blueberries that I would change the recipe a little to add some yummy cinnamon. 

Here is what is looks like after you pour it all in the pan and cover with the cake mix.

After topped with butter bits, it looks a little strange but I had faith that it would cook up well :)

But it cooks up great and made the melted butter bake into the cake mix to make a great topping to the fresh blueberries!!!

I guess I should have spread the butter a little more but the whole thing tasted great even if there was still a little bit of powdery cake mix.  I hope that you enjoy a little sometime soon! 

Let me know if you try it with any other berries.  I am sure that it would be great but 8 cups of other fruits would be pretty pricy and out of my budget.  Maybe I will mix blueberries with rasberries and blackberries which would add the flavor and still not add the cost of the whole 8 cups.

Blueberry Cobbler


  • 8 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 box yellow cake mix 


  • Toss the fruit, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla together in a large bowl until coated then pour into a 9×13 pan.
  • Sprinkle cake mix evenly over the top of the fruit mixture.
  • Place small pats of butter evenly over the top of the cake mix.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or cool whip.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Safeway Shopping Trip 5/20

I stopped at Safeway on the way home from Harris Teeter to get the $1.67 cranberry juice.  I had lots of coupons to Buy One and Get one Cherry drink free.  The cashier entered $1.67 for the first coupon and then the second one scanned in at $3.49 automatically so I paid $1.68 OOP (saving $12.45 or 89%).  I was super excited to get four cranberry juices before the coupons expired at the end of the month.  I am hoping that these last my thirsty husband through June :)  I doubt it but who knows.. one can dream right?  Did you find any great deals recently??

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 5/20

I used some rain checks to get free meatballs and eggs after coupons.  I also got free Jello Temptations which were back in stock but I could only found one coupon :(.  I got Texas Pete Hot sauce for $0.05 each. 

I also wanted to grab more of the cinnamon Super Pretzels but they were out so I got two packages of the regular ones.  I figure that even at $0.10 more, they might be a good treat later so I will have to remember to use them as a side dish to dinner :). 

I also got one more package of turkey for my husband's lunches even though I have plenty to last me through the month.  I probably have enough to last through next month.  I would rather pay the price during triples then wait and pay $3.50 later (these meats are actually normally priced at $4.69 but I would never pay that price so he would be going without).

I had to take the picture on the floor because there was such a mess in the kitchen and dining room because of having 8 people at my house for over a week.  I am really glad to have company but our small house doesn't have the room for 8 people and all their stuff and groceries :) 

Super glad that I got to go to triples another time.  Might have one more chance since Tuesday is the last day of triples:)  I am going to try to get some more eggs, hot sauce and maybe cinnamon pretzels :)  I am sure that I don't "need" anything but great deals are hard to pass up!!!  Hope you enjoyed triples at Harris Teeter as much as we did!!

Total OOP $2.21 (savings $28.11)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 5/21

Monday- BBQ Spiedies and Original Spiedies with rice
Tueday- Tacos with saffron rice and corn bread
Wednesday- Pizza Roll with sausage pasta
Thursday- Kraft First Taste with parmesan spaghetti or rosemary egg noodles
Friday-  Leftovers if all the company has left
Saturday- Frozen pizza/Grilled Buffalo Chicken wraps with mac and cheese
Sunday- ???

I still have family in town so I think that I am serving at least 7 for Monday and Tuesday and 4 for Wednesday and getting smaller through the week.  The plan is a little flexible because I am not totally sure what everyone's plans are through the week.  I am sure that the number will change at least three times during each day so here is hoping that we have the food somewhere in the house to feed everyone :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May Monthly Spending

I know that there are still 12 days left in the month but I was in need of a plan since I was already at $153.78 only leaving $6.22 for the rest of the month. 

I decided to return the Huggies Pull-ups from Harris Teeter so I got back $20.98 today since I got a better deal at Target.  I normally subtract my return during the week that I do it but last week was such a high week, I figure that I put it on the date of the original purchase to make me feel better :) 

I will probably need at least one more trip to triples and a loaf of bread before the end of the month so now I have a little more room to do it.
Week 1

$3.40 Giant 5/1
$5.48 Target 5/2
$16.48 Wegman's 5/2
$7.26 HT 5/3

Total $32.62

Week 2

$2.43 HT 5/6
$0.62 Target 5.9
$3.61 HT 5/12

Total $6.66

Week 3

$12.32 Safeway 5/14
$11.56 HT 5/16
$15.51 HT 5/17
$38.01 HT 5/18 less return on 5/20 of $20.98=$17.03
$37.10 Target 5/18

Total $114.50- $20.98= $93.52

Week 4

$2.21 HT 5/20
$1.68 Safeway 5/20

Total $3.89

Monthly Total $136.69

Now I have $23.31 left for the rest of the month so it will allow for all of the rest of the month to happen under budget :)  YEAH!!!!

Weekly Goals 5/20

Last Week:

Family Goals
  • Playdate with son's friend- Done and we had a blast
  • Packing and moving with sister in law (or watching son while everyone else does the hard work)- Lots of work but we got it all done
  • Spend time with Mother-in-law and Father both visiting- Done and my sister-in-law and mom also came to visit along with my cousin for a few days
Personal Goals
  • Get change at bank for yard sale- Done
  • Work on getting ready for yard sale- Finished as much as I had time for so I called it
  • YARD SALE DAY!!!-  It was a long day but I got rid of a ton of stuff and made $145 so I call it a huge success.  I can't wait to get my act more together and do it again!!!!
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 6 days of the week- I doubt that I did this with company at the house.  It was hard enough to keep up with dishes!
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- I did this a few times but sadly, I am not sure it helped because there were still dishes on the counter the next morning.
  • Get quotes from two masons on repairs to steps and wall- Done
Blog Goals
  • Schedule at least 5 posts so that can spend more time with family- I got three up at the beginning of the week but not much for the rest of the week except with last minute notice
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family
  • Storytime at the library
  • Sing along at son's school on the last day
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 3 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday
  • Schedule at least 5 posts so that can spend more time with family
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 5/18

Trip number three under my belt and I got some more items that I really wanted to get like the sugar and brown sugar again :)  Some more Texas Pete Hot Sauce for $0.05!!  I finally got the Smart Balance butter since that was the first thing to get returned when I reached the coupon limit before.  I also used a rain check and got the meatballs for free so I think that I am going to have to get a few more of them tomorrow too!!  Hope that there are still some left on the shelf when we make it there.  I also remembered right after I left that I wanted to get some of those soft pretzels but I totally forgot so we didn't even make it to the last aisle of the store so I left without using all 20 coupons :(

I don't know if this is the same at all Harris Teeters but if your total is under $25 at ours, you don't have to sign the receipt.  I usually consider it a good trip if I don't have to sign the receipt and I am super surprised when I have to!!  This time I was prepared ahead of time that I was going to have to sign the receipt (I sort of have to prepare myself for that possibility when I get up to the register so that I don't have a heart attack at the final total).  The expensive items that were on the list were the Bona floor cleaner and the two packages of pull-ups because we were out of both.

Ever had a day that didn't go how you wanted and you caused yourself more work... well, with mother, mother in law and sister in law with me at the store, I think that I lost the zen shopping mojo and I might be returning some items.  (We might have driven our cashier a little batty too since we all checked out with one guy.... poor guy!)

I looked at the Bona cleaner at Wal-Mart the last time that I was there and I can't remember how much it was... starting to think that it was less at Wal-Mart and I might have jumped the gun.  I think that I need a trip to Wal-Mart first to see if I am going to return it to Harris Teeter!!  It says online that it is $9.98 and I would use the coupon and make it even cheaper.  Ugh!!

We went to Target after the trip to Harris Teeter and they had the sale on Pull-ups so they were actually cheaper then the Pull-ups at Harris Teeter.  I wasn't going to buy them but I was really and truly out so I didn't want my son running around with out any pull-ups on so I jumped the gun again.  I spent $37.10 at Target (savings of $9.60) I am now the proud owner of around 150 pull-ups and hopefully that I won't need them long enough to use 150 so I am going to return the Harris Teeter ones which would give me back $20 in my budget to do another round of triples :)

Other than my few expensive items, it was a really good trip so if I end up returning most of it..  I will work out better :)

Total OOP $38.01 (savings $49.00)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Heat Rises Book Review

The third book in the series from Richard Castle, Heat Rises (Nikki Heat 3), was a must read for me.  The first two books were so great but I did reserve all three together but this one just came into the library a little while ago because of the long waiting list.

This book stayed true to the rest of the series and it was another page turner.  I tried to start on Tuesday but I didn't make it very far.  I was hoping to have the whole book finished in just a few days but I got no time to read so it took longer than expected.  I was so excited and sad to finish it!

Nikki Heat was working on solving a mystery with many twists and turns.  One involved her Captain being involved, multiple people being killed and an attack on her that almost got her killed (again).  I didn't know what was going on but each time they unraveled one part of the mystery, it seemed like we were close to the resolution...but it took a long time to realize all the pieces of the puzzle and how they got together but it was amazing when they did!!

Hope you check out this book at your local library or bookstore.  The whole series is a page turner so I suggested starting with the first book and working your way up to this book!!!  Can't wait to hear what you think!!

Guess what I saw when I was looking up the Amazon link on this one..... a new book!!!  Frozen Heat (Nikki Heat, Book 4) by Richard Castle is released on September 18th, 2012 so hopefully by then I will be more caught up on my list so that I can fit this one in :)  Keep your eyes peeled for this cover.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 5/17

Trip number two showed that the the shelves were bare in a lot of areas already.  The main two things that I wanted to get was the Dixie Crystal Sugar ($1.45 each) and Brown sugar ($1.15each).  I use a lot for baking and deals on these items are hard to come by!!  I have found them cheaper sometimes but not many so I hope to go back and get another 2 of each.

The free deals include free Gold Peak tea and Jello Temptations.  The good deals include the House Autry breaders for $0.29, Soft Pretzels for $0.19 per box, Yakisoba for $0.10 each, and Ortega Powder for $0.10 each.  The Sara Lee Bread was only $0.99 which didn't seem like a bad deal so I picked up a loaf even though I don't think that we needed to get it right now.  The Helluva Good cheese $1.47 each.  The most expensive item was $1.85 each which was the Deli Carvers Turkey for my husband's lunch.

Total OOP was $15.51 (savings $50.28)

Another high total but look at all that good stuff.  I think that I was spoiled with super doubles because we have more $1 coupons in this area but I am crossing my fingers to go tomorrow!!!  I can't wait to see what is left on the shelves by the next time I get to the store :)  I hope that you are having great luck and finding what you are looking for!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 5/16

My first trip to triples was a success even though I didn't have a clue what I was getting but just had a pile of coupons in my hand ready to conquer the deals.  I got 6 Ortega powders, 2 Jello Temptations, French's Onions, Morton's Season All, Nutella, Dole Fruit Crisp, 3 Hamburger Helper, Quaker Medley Oatmeal, 3 Smart Balance Oil, 3 Texas Pete Hot Sauce and Welch's Cranberry Grape Juice (all pictured above). 

I switched things around a few times and tried to figure out what items were going to be gone which was really hard.  I looked at it like if I didn't get to go again during the triples, what would I be sad about not getting it (because I have so much family in town and I might not make it back). 

The first thing was the oil because I am close to out from my last stock up deal and they had the big one and not just the small one but a HUGE one.  I am also excited to try the Texas Pete because we usually use Frank's and we are almost out!!  Have you noticed that free hot sauce is harder to find???  Sadly, I have started making so many meals with hot sauce so it is an important staple for the pantry.  Buffalo chicken pizza anyone??? YUM!!!  I was also really happy to get the House Autry chicken breader because we got it with a coupon before and I thought it was super yummy and I want to make it on chicken tenders and not just chicken breasts.  Then the free oatmeal (after coupon and evic) and Welch's juice for my husband.

Total OOP was $11.56 (savings $53.92)

Not the best total or the best trip but I was happy with it even though it didn't get me that much stuff.  I hope to get a few more trips in but I am not going to be too upset if it doesn't happen.  I hope that you have great trips to the store too!!!

Thrifty Thursday Tip for Cleaning and Energy Efficiency

Cleaning and Energy Efficiency:

Make sure you use a dishwasher cleaner like Dishwasher Magic or other dishwasher cleaner.  These clean all the hard water out of the inside the pipes.  This helps the machine work more energy efficiently which saves water and electricity.  According to the Dishwasher Magic website, "A common myth is that your dishwasher cleans itself during the wash cycle. This simply isn't the case. Over time, hard water deposits, rust and food can build up inside your dishwasher, reducing its performance."  They have some helpful hints on their website on how to use your dishwasher more efficiently like running the hot water before starting the machine and use the garbage disposal to clean the lines.  The recommendation on cleaning the dishwasher is every 6 months (unless you read the package and it says every few months) but it really depends on the water in your area.

Cleaning your washing machine is also important.  The first reason is to make sure to keep the appliance clean that cleans all your clothes but it also saves water and electricity.  The idea that is cleans out inside of the machine the same way that the dishwasher cleaner works by removing all the hard water.  There are some helpful hints on the Washer Magic site.  There are many products out to clean and they all have different claims.  I tried the Affresh cleaner but it was a solid tablet so next time I am going to try a liquid like Washer Magic.  I highly recommend finding something that works best for you and your washer.  The washer should be cleaned every 6 months or more if you have hard water.  Helpful hint:  If you have a front loading HE washer, leave the door open between washes so that it doesn't mold in the seal.

Don't forget to clean out your clothes dryer!  Use a vacuum to clean out the area around the lint trap and clean the dryer hose (out the back of the dryer).  Blocked vents cause the dryer to use more energy and take longer to dry clothes.  This also shortens the life of the equipment and may be a fire hazard.  In order to keep your house and equipment safe, make sure you clean out everything once a year.

Who ever thought that just cleaning a few appliances could save money?!  We now do all of the above cleaning because who doesn't want a cleaner appliance meant to clean our dishes and clothes!!!  The added bonus of being green too :)  Hope that this helps and you clean your appliances.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cheese Muffin Recipe

I decided that I wanted rolls with dinner and I only had a little bit of all purpose flour left (less than 1 cup).  So I knew that I needed a recipe with whole wheat flour since I still had a little more left.  I tried to look for a new and fun recipe to try but I didn't have the time for a fun yeasty rolls so I went with a recipe that I had made once before from the American's Cheapest Family's recipes.  It is a great recipe that mixes up super easy and gives you yummy muffins so I highly recommend trying it some night when you want rolls on the table in 20 minutes.

This time I made 6 with parmesan cheese on top and 6 without.  Last time the parmesan cheese burned a little when reheating so I thought it would be good to have a few without and see how they worked.  We ate six for dinner and have 6 for treats later in the week.  I hope that you make some for you too!!

Cheese Muffins

¾ c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ c grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
¼ c oil
1 c milk
¼ c honey
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 12 muffin cups.  Don’t use paper liners for this recipe.  Stir together the whole wheat, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder and cheddar cheese in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, milk, and honey.  Stir together the liquid and dry ingredients.  The mixture will be lumpy but that’s okay.  Fill the prepared muffin cups ¾ full.  Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.  Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Recipe can be doubled or tripled.  Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Harris Teeter Triples Starting Wednesday 5/16

I am super excited to check out Harris Teeter triples first thing after dropping my son at school on Wednesday.  In addition, I get to bring my mother in law with me!!  How great to overlap her visit with a great couponing event :)  Hope that you all get some great stuff at Harris Teeter this coming week.  Let me know what deals you are looking forward to most!!  This time I am more excited about looking at some of the deals in the store since I don't have a bunch of things that I can't live without this month on the match ups that I have seen.  Crossing my fingers for some great deals!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harris Teeter Trip 5/12

I got a Evic special for Gerber Baby Food for $0.88 at Harris Teeter (limit 4).  I decided that I should go and get it since when I went to Target and they were totally out.  I grabbed my limit of four and didn't get anything else!!!  As you can see from the picture, not a minute too soon because my son grabbed one out of the bag and said...."OOOOHHH, purple bananas.  I want to eat these NOW!!!"  So he did :) 
Total OOP is $3.61 (savings was $1.24)

Safeway Trip 5/14

I planned on going to Safeway to get Ritz Crackers because I was out of them (which is near crisis for my son) but it took me until the last day of the sale to make it there.  They were on sale for $1.99 and I used a coupon for $1/2 so I got them for $1.49 a box.

I took my son with me and he decided that he declared had to have the Whole Wheat ones because his friend Sam eats them.  I am not really sure if he likes those so I bought two of them.  Then I got six of the Reduced Fat ones that he normally eats too.

We are stocked up for Ritz for awhile!!!  I am super excited because the normal price on a box of Ritz rang up at $4.29!  Total before coupon and card savings was $17.36.  I saved $9.20 with my Safeway card and $2.00 in coupons.  Total savings of 65%

Total OOP was $12.35  (less than the cost for three boxes normally to put my crazy cracker purchase in perspective).  If you come over to visit, we will be having crackers :)

Menu Plan Monday 5/14

Monday-SW Spiedies with rice
Tuesday- Chicken and Rice Casserole (might change to something else depending on how many people)
Wednesday-White Pizza and Buffalo Chicken Pizza with salad
Thursday- Whole Chicken with mac and cheese, corn and scalloped potatoes
Friday- Soy Ginger Chicken and Orange Poppyseed Chicken with brown rice
Saturday-Leftovers/London Broil
Sunday- Keiobsa and hash browns/Rosemary Chicken with egg noodles

Another busy week!!  I think that I need to plan for a slow week but I haven't figured out how to do that with a really active three year old.  My mother, father, mother in law, sister in law are going to be in town and we are going to be running around everywhere including a yard sale, plant sale, and all together busy week.  I hope that you have a less hectic week planned  :)  Did I mention that it was also triples this week so you might only see a few posting with my great trips but I don't know how much more I will make it online.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekly Goals 5/13

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Go to new indoor park with my son- Done.  It was a good experience but would have been better if he had a friend there to play with because he didn't connect with any of
  • Go to Children's Museum- The plan changed because of the roof repair so we had a playdate with my son's friend at the house instead of going to the museum but we hope to go again soon
  • Go to library storytime- Done.  We went to the library twice this week and storytime :)
  • Pick my cousin up from the airport- Done
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 6 days of the week- Done
  • Roof repair occurring- Done... not without issues but at least it is done!
Blog Goals
  • Schedule at least 5 posts before the date of publication- Done and got two posts up for next week!!
  • Post Menu Plan Monday and Weekly Goals- Done
This Week:

Family Goals
  • Playdate with son's friend
  • Packing and moving with sister in law (or watching son while everyone else does the hard work)
  • Spend time with Mother-in-law and Father both visiting
Personal Goals
  • Get change at bank for yard sale
  • Work on getting ready for yard sale
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 6 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
  • Get quotes from two masons on repairs to steps and wall
Blog Goals
  • Schedule at least 5 posts so that can spend more time with family
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip

Happy Mother's Day

Hope you have a great Mother's Day and enjoy the good weather with  your family :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

CVS trip 5/11

I went to CVS today to use up my ECBs and get this weeks deals.  I was going to do a few different plans and I gave up and went with the easiest to get it over with quickly since I didn't go on Sunday like I was suposed to and my ECBs were expiring.  I got a Milky Way and 2 liter of Diet Coke (they don't carry Cherry Coke anymore which is my husband's favorite). 

Sounds like a really healthy trip right (and a little bit of a joke like a Big Mac and a Diet Coke)?  Two things that I normally don't buy but it cost me $0 OOP and I got back $0.75 ECBs to use next time.  I should have looked for different items to buy that would work out to nothing out of pocket but I am sure that both things will get used with picnics coming up!!!  We never had soda around the house so it will be a nice treat for me :)  Did you have a good trip to CVS this week???  Want to get into the drugstore game?  I will try to post something with upcoming deals and how to get in the game but there haven't been a ton of deals lately to jump on!! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Enchilada Smash Casserole "Recipe"

I haven't made this in ages and it was one of my favorites. I had some tomato paste that was near the date so I made a few batches of enchilada sauce and it was time to use it.  I thought I would share it so that you can make it for your family. 

I got into a rut because this was such an easy dish to make that my husband requested a long time ago that I don't only make "The Smash" and that I make him some normal enchiladas and tacos every once in awhile.  I have worked on perfecting not breaking the regular enchiladas through microwaving the shells, coating the pan in sauce, and a rolling method to flip the enchilada upside.  After finally getting the hang of it, I haven't made the enchilada smash casserole in ages.

Okay, so I totally forgot to take pictures when I was making everything earlier today because I don't really have a recipe and I just throw it together.  Picture the counter with a container of shredded cheese, a container of seasoned meat, plastic bag of corn tortillas, and plastic bag of enchilada sauce.  Wonderful, I am sure that your picture in your head was neater then my counter :)

I try to get the ingredient together ahead of time so that I can throw the casserole ahead of the dinner time rush (sometimes the night before but not always).  First step is to cook ground beef the way you would normally make tacos- whether with store bought seasoning from Ortega, Old El Paso or homemade seasoning mixture (I use taco meat warm- not cold because it is too hard to spread).  Grate cheese or use grated cheese from the store.  Third important ingredient is the corn tortillas.  Lastly, I took my homemade enchilada sauce out of the freezer or you can use the can from the store mixed with a small can of tomato paste to thicken (the store bought one is too thin on it's own for my tastes plus if you have kids, the tomato paste cools it down).  This time I also had a little leftover rice that I put in the top layer to use it up so you can customize to your family by adding beans or veggies but we like ours more plain.

Grab a casserole dish from the cupboard (I use a circle one that is a little bigger than the corn tortillas).
Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of enchilada sauce.  Layer ingredients starting with corn tortilla, followed by enchilada sauce, meat, and cheese.  Make sure to spread the enchilada sauce to the edge of the tortilla because if not it gets super crunchy when baking.  Repeat until there is no meat left or the casserole is to the top of the pan.  I usually add an extra tortilla topped with enchilada sauce and cheese so that it will have a nice crunchy cheese top.  The layers look like this on the side:

Bake at 400 (or 425) degrees for 45-60 minutes.  I normally cook it at the temperature of something else that I am cooking and I increase the heat when it is over so I wait until the top is browned and the inside is hot.  It is a really flexible dish because it really is already cooked and you are just melting all the cheese and other ingredients together.

After it is cooked and ready to eat, you can cut it with a long knife or use a pie cutter like I do because it also helps lift out the piece.  We cut it into four pieces usually but it makes for a big serving. 

It looks like this on your plate- YUM!

The remaining half looks like this... sort of a Mexican lasagna right?

It is a great casserole to make the night before while making dinner so that you have a night off!!!  I hope that you make and enjoy soon!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thrifty Thursday Tip for Bread Crumbs

Cooking tip:

Save all the heels of the bread and any bread that is getting dried out.  Put all the bread in the freezer until you are ready for to make bread crumbs.  Toast the bread in the oven until it is really dried out.  Break them up in pieces and put it in the food processor.  Blend until small pieces.  Hint:  If your food processor makes a mess like mine, put a piece of plastic wrap on before you close the lid.  If you want to make seasoned breadcrumbs, add parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic powder to taste while blending. 

I keep the container of the bread crumbs in the freezer and take them out when I need some.  They are so much better then store bought bread crumbs and way cheaper.  I read some where that per pound, bread crumbs cost more then meat!!  Silly right?  Now you get them for free!!! Wouldn't you rather save all this money on breadcrumbs and add extra money into the grocery budget.

Also, keep a container for any other crumbs like the bottom of crackers, chips or pretzels.  They make great breadcrumbs for chicken.  I have used stale cereal, chips, crackers, and other items smashed up.  The great thing is that if you don't finish something or didn't like something, you can still get use out of it without throwing it away.  I keep a plastic bag to add small bits of crumbs too and then once a month I mix the crumbs together or with homemade breadcrumbs to make yummy chicken fingers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Target Shopping Trip 5/9 and HT on 5/6

I was already out so I decided to check out Target but I was totally unprepared.  I ended up finding two cookie packets one sale for $0.50 so I used the printed coupon and got them for free.  I walked all the way around the store and I found that they had Red Baron Pizza for $3.34 and I had a $1 Target coupon so they were $2.34 each.  Then I grabbed a green apple chapstick that had a coupon on it so it ended up being $0.49 after coupon.

My total was $5.23 and I went to the customer service and returned the baby food that I got last week and got a $4.61 credit so my total OOP was $0.62.  I call that a great deal :)

I went to Harris Teeter on Sunday with my sister in law.  I was getting a loaf of bread for sandwiches for the week and soda for my sick husband.  I didn't take a picture since I went home and the soda was immediately opened and the bread went away but it wouldn't have made a great picture anyway.  The total OOP was $2.43.

My week total is $3.05 which brings my monthly total to $35.67 OOP :)  I don't have a ton of big plans for rest of the week but I just saw that whole chickens are on sale at Harris Teeter so I might have a trip to get some deals at HT :)  Here is hoping that I am saving the budget money for a really great super doubles!!!  Hope that you are having a great month so far too!!

Steak Sandwich with hash browns

So we had a fridge full of leftover food on Monday so I changed the food plan around a little and make something with the steak on Monday night for dinner.  My first thought was steak fajitas but then I remembered a conversation with my husband just a few nights before about favorite foods that he misses because we don't eat out anymore.  He really likes Philly Cheese steaks and I have not figured out how to make them yet.  So here was my chance to make a really yummy steak sandwich with great steak that was already seasoned and grilled.  I googled it to see if there were any ideas online but didn't find any really great ideas.  I started by buttering the two homemade hot dog rolls and browning them in the pan.  I love a crispy roll!!!  Then I cut up the leftover salt potatoes and steak.  I put some butter in the pan and started browning the potatoes.  I seasoned after with salt and pepper.  Then I put a little more butter in the pan and started browning the meat.  I had a 5 cheese blend that I was going to use.  I moved all the steak to one side of the pan and put the cheese on top to melt.  It did great so that I didn't have to put it under the broiler to get it nice and gooey!!!  It was the best sandwich that I have made!!!  It really hit the spot and I used up lots of leftovers in the process.  We might even plan for this next time because it was so great!! 

I hope that you try a steak sandwich for yourself and see what you think!!!  Not really a Philly Cheese steak but still hit the spot!  We thought it was great!!!  What do you think?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Purse of Your Own Book Review

A Purse of Your Own: An Easy Guide to Financial Security by Deborah Owens looked interesting when I got it out of the library.  It got put to the bottom of the pile a few times.  OOPS!  I finally got it to the top of the pile because it is due at the library soon.

It is a guide to investing without being too technical so that you lose interest.  It is a great book for young women just starting out so that they can start the saving early (or those just starting out in the saving world).  It is great for someone looking to invest and where to start. 

I don't know that I am more comfortable with investing in the stock market (before or ) after reading this book but it certainly helps with learning how to feel more comfortable.  I understand all of the ideas behind investing in the stock market but the risk makes me very uneasy.  Even though I would like to make a lot of money, I don't have a strong stomach for the ups and downs of the market.

The book also discusses bonds.  They seem to be more stable and less risky to invest in.  I think that I might be able to start with an investment like that.  It also reminded me that I have some saving bonds that I got in high school.  There was information in the book about checking the amount of the investment online.  I am going to have to dig mine out and see what the value is now :)

There was a section on mutual funds which I think is the easiest way to invest with multiple options.  I don't know if this makes me a lazy person or just a cautious one.  Investing with one company where you can move money from one fund to another makes it much easier to understand.  It also makes it more like a 401K that most people invest in already through work so easier to work with for a beginning investor.

I am still trying to read more books and get more comfortable with the different investment ideas so here is hoping that I get more adventurous.  I recommend that everyone out there take a more active role in their future by finding investment options that suit their goals (and stomach). 

The end of the book has a few more tips that are quick and easy to read.  They suggest tracking spending in categories to see where your money goes every month.  They suggest getting your annual credit report at to see the information on it.  They also suggest doing a credit freeze through if you feel your identity has been stolen and only the current companies you are working with can access your information.  Something else that I never thought of was that you shouldn't carry checks in your purse because it is the easiest way to get all your money stolen.

I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore.  Please let me know what you think!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 5/7

Monday- Steak Fajitas
Tuesday- Enchilada Smash
Wednesday- BBQ Spiedies with rice
Thursday- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Friday- Lasagna
Saturday- Hot Dogs and Brats/Whole Chicken
Sunday- Chicken Pizza/Crispy Taco Rice

Updated to include using the leftovers in the fridge.  Planning for a busy week so planning for easy food (including trying to make the Enchilada Casserole ahead of time)!!!  Hope that you have a great week and enjoy some yummy dinners :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekly Goals 5/6

After looking at the posts that I do during the week, I am moving my weekly goals to Sunday.  I have always done my meal planning starting with Monday but the calendar doesn't really start there so I am starting my weekly goals but leaving my menu planning for Monday :)  This week looks to be a busy one so we will see how things work out!!!

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Go to new park with my son- It was a nice park in a great neighborhood.  We even met two moms that weren't with our group.  My son had a blast and he LOVES new parks
  • Go to playground meetup- We had a great time meeting new moms and friends as part of a new meetup group.  It was lots of fun and we were at the park for ages!
  • Playdate with son's friend- We had lots of fun playing
  • Go to library storytime- We had a great time at storytime and the library picking out new books
  • Take my cousin to the airport- Done
  • Enjoy weekend pot luck with friends- We had a great time and lots of clean up to take care of the next day...mostly because we didn't get a good night sleep so it took us awhile to get our act together on Sunday
Personal Goals
  • Read A Purse of Your Own: An Easy Guide to Financial Security by Deborah Owens and Brenda Lane Richardson and try to finish half- Finished half by Thursday and read a little more but still have more to read and finish this week.
  • Eye Doctor Appointment- Yuck, I hate having my eyes messed with!!  But the doctor was very nice and it is over for another two years.
  • Cut Sunday inserts and clean out coupon basket- Done.  That was a lot of paper to cut with 20 copies of the newspaper but if I broke them out, it went better but I might have some scissor injuries on my fingers.. hopefully healing soon.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 6 days of the week- Done
  • Wash dishes one night so that kitchen is clean the next morningDone on Thursday night!  I got all the dishes washed while waiting for TV!
  • Get house ready for pot luck BBQ at the house on Saturday- We cleaned up on Saturday before everyone got there... hard to clean up ahead of time with little man but it worked out well.
  • Make treats for pot luck BBQ- Done
Blog Goals
  • Update running book list with books that I am reading for May- Done
  • Download pictures of book covers on May and June reading lists and do draft posts with links- Done
  • Schedule at least 5 posts before the date of publication- Done
  • Work on AdSense and figure out how to use it- Done, blocked some ads that I thought were bad and I think that I got the politic, cosmetic surgery, drugs, gambling and other things blocks.
  • Update my About Me page that my husband put on the page- Done
  • Post Menu Plan Monday and Weekly Goals- Done
  • Post before and after of coupon basket project- Done!  That was exhausting but I got it done!
This week:

Family Goals
  • Go to new indoor park with my son
  • Go to Children's Museum
  • Go to library storytime
  • Pick my cousin up from the airport
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 6 days of the week.
  • Roof repair occurring
Blog Goals
  • Schedule at least 5 posts before the date of publication
  • Post Menu Plan Monday and Weekly Goals

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hot Dog Roll Recipe

One of my goals of the month was to make homemade hot dog buns and the occasion came up faster then I thought.  We are having a cook out this weekend with some people from my husband and my old job.  I decided who better to try these out on... and if they don't work out, I will run to the store and get some rolls.  I looked at a bunch of different recipes and decided to go with the one from "Make the bread, Buy the Butter" by Jennifer Reese.
I had all the ingredients and it seems like I could make it pretty easily while my son was at preschool. 

First thing this morning, I set to making the peanut butter cookie dough and the dry ingredients for corn bread (I like my corn bread hot and fresh so I am making it on Saturday afternoon).  When I got home from dropping my son off, I made brownies, peanut butter cookies, and a pan of macaroni and cheese.  After the easy stuff was under my belt, I decided to tackle the hot dog buns.  I put all the ingredients into the bowl.

Then I used the dough hook on my kitchen aid mixer which might be the first time that I have used it since I always use the bread machine.  I opted for following the recipe this time and looking for a bread machine version or doing this one in the bread machine next time.  I mixed it all up and it was a little sticky.  I added some vital gluten because I used regular flour instead of bread flour like I normally would (because the recipe called for it and I am out of bread flour) plus I was a little worried about how sticky it was.  I greased the bowl and covered with a towel to let rise.

The great news is that it rose and then it looked similar to the above after an hour.  Then I let it rise until I had time to shape the rolls around dinner time.  It rose a lot but still looked good.
I was pretty excited at this point and I was ready to form rolls.  This is the nerve wracking part because it takes a lot to make the rolls pretty but I figure that if they are yummy, it will make up for them not being really pretty.  Crossing my fingers :)

Please try to make some homemade hot rolls this summer for one of your cook outs or else you are more then welcome to come here when I try again soon!  Happy grilling!!!!
Only one turned out looking like a hot dog roll but they all turned out looking yummy so here is hoping that they taste as good as they look!!  If I had any more flour, I would make another batch :)  I am going to make these again soon!!!

Hot Dog Buns

1 c milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (?)
1 large egg
2 ¾ c flour
½ c whole wheat flour
¼ c sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp instant yeast
Vegetable oil for greasing

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, butter, egg, flours, sugar, salt and yeast and knead with the dough hook until you have a smooth dough.
  2. Scoop up the dough, grease the bowl, and return the dough to the bowl.  Cover with a clean, damp dish towel and let the dough rise.  It will be puffed and ready in about 1 hour, but you can leave it longer
  3. Gently deflate the dough and divide into 10 pieces.  Shape each lump of dough into a petite bun sized long.  Make them as neat as you can, because every flaw in the design will be exaggerated in the finished product.
  4. Place on a greased or parchment line cookie sheet, 1 ½ inches apart.  Drape with the same damp towel.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  They will grow huge so don’t let them go longer than 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  6. Bake buns for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.  Cool or eat immediately.  Store in plastic bag at room temperature for up to 5 days.  Freeze for longer storage.

Friday, May 4, 2012

White Pesto Pizza Recipe

My ideas always start off as something easy and turn into way too complicated!  I don't know if you remember but I got a container of ricotta super cheap at Harris Teeter so I was under pressure to figure out what to make with it.  I read an entire Rachael Ray cookbook and found a pasta recipe... so of course, I decided on white pizza from an online recipe :)  And then I changed it all around!!!  My "recipe" might be more of a suggestion list so that you can customize it for your family.

White Pesto Pizza

1.  Make a mess of the kitchen by pulling everything out of the cupboards, freezer and fridge.  Putting the computer in the middle of the mess :) Because you are obviously using the recipe off the computer but don't let your husband, the IT professional, see the computer!
2.  Make homemade pizza dough from Fleishman's pizza yeast per directions on package.  At the end, I added a little bit of cornmeal to either side of the dough.
3.  Stretch dough on pizza pan.  Spread ricotta cheese, fresh garlic, and pesto on the pizza .  I used the pesto that I had frozen that I made from the Knorr Pesto Packet leftover.
4.  Top with ground pepper, garlic salt, optional red pepper flakes (which I did on the right half) leaving a small edge for the yummy crust.
5.  Top with a mix of shredded cheeses, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
6.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Top with fresh basil, cut and serve.

It was super yummy and tasted like fancy restaurant pizza without all the grease.  I had some flash backs to CPK and I think with a little work, I can get there.  The even better news is that my husband ad three pieces and I was afraid he wasn't going to like it since he dislikes ricotta.  He said that he likes the pizza roll better but this was good too :)  I think that his favorite is buffalo chicken pizza but we are out of blue cheese.  Going to have to add that to the list to find a great bargain again!!  Hope you try some fun pizza recipes at home soon!