Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wrapping Up the Pantry Challenge

I ended up breaking my pantry challenge $20 a week grocery budget guideline.  Save-a-Lot had a coupon for $5 off $25, and I was in need of butter.  I also picked up a lettuce and some cream cheese.  My jalapeno plants are still producing so I wanted to make more poppers for the freezer.  While I was in town I decided to pick up some additional groceries so I would not need to go back later this week.  I used some coupons to take advantage of sales.  I stocked up a bit on cereal and some snacks for W's lunch and at home.  I ended up spending my usual $50 a week. 

I am planning to continue the pantry challenge on a more limited basis in February.  I may take advantage of some sales but will still focus on using what I have.  Overall I am pleased with how the challenge went. 

I will be back tomorrow with some regular posts. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pumpkins, Brunswick Stew Recipe, & Grocery Shopping

I had been saving some pumpkins from autumn for a cold day like yesterday.  I wanted to bake them and decided to help warm the house with the oven at the same time.  I sliced the pumpkins in half and removed the seeds and stringy stuff.  I put them cut side down in a large pan and baked them at 400 degrees until they were very tender.

Once they cooled I scooped out the pumpkin and put it in a colander to drain.  Then I packaged it into two cup portions for the freezer.  I ended up with four packs of pumpkin.  The ducks and chickens were happy to get the shells.  I still have one large pumpkin to cook later this week.

I had a request for my Brunswick Stew recipe so here it is:

Brunswick Stew
1 Boston butt, 5-8 pounds
1 large fryer
3 16 oz cans stewed tomatoes
3 large potatoes chopped
3 cans whole kernel corn
3 cans cream corn
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
2 large onions, chopped
32 oz bottle ketchup
3/4 C barbecue sauce
salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
Cook pork and chicken; debone and chop up.  Mix onions, potatoes, and tomatoes and cook until potatoes are slightly tender.  Combine everything together in a very large pot.  Simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce according to taste.
**This time I used half of a rooster and an extra breast in place of the fryer.  I have never actually used a whole fryer and tend to use whatever chicken is on sale.  If you use store bought tomatoes, expect it take quite a while for the potatoes to cook.  It goes much faster with home canned tomatoes.  You can adjust the corn using more or less of whichever you prefer just keep it at six cans.  I used corn from the freezer this time.  I would estimate that this makes about 27 cups of Brunswick stew.**
Finally grocery shopping which is short and sweet.  I only bought two gallons of milk on sale this week.   I spent $6.18.  I may pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables at the first of the week if we happen to eat up what we have on hand.  I still feel very good about the pantry challenge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pantry Challenge Monday

I have been taking an antihistamine for an allergic reaction so I have really had no appetite.  I ended up skipping breakfast.  For lunch I had tomato Parmesan soup from the freezer and a grilled cheese.  W was not hungry tonight so I ended up having a snacky supper. 

Tomorrow I am going to make a big pot of Brunswick stew.  It is usually an all day event.  I cooked some chicken tonight and have it in the fridge.  I will put a Boston butt in the crockpot tonight.  In the morning I will cook the tomatoes and potatoes and put everything together.  Then let it all cook for a few hours.  We will have some for supper and the rest will go in the freezer for future meals.  I already have all of the ingredients so this fits into the pantry challenge perfectly.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pantry Challenge - End of Week & Weekend Plan

The end of the week went well for the pantry challenge.  Thursday for lunch we had leftovers.  After lunch I made two pie crusts, mixed up some trail mix and sliced up some apples.  I really want to eat healthier and am trying to make "better for me" snacks as easy to grab as the bad for me snacks.  For supper I used the pie crusts and pre-made filling from the freezer to make a turkey pot pie.  The weather was cold and damp so the warm pot pie was perfect.

Yesterday's lunch was potato cheese soup from the freezer and pork tenderloin sandwiches.  Last night we finished the pot pie.  It was just as good warmed over.  I am fortunate to have a husband who does not mind leftovers.

Weekend meals are the usual light and at the last minute meals since I never know if W will want to eat or not.  I will grab a snacky lunch or have a homemade frozen meal.  W has grits, popcorn, almonds, tangerines, bananas, and cookie bars in his lunch this weekend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pantry Challenge - Catching Up & Grocery Shopping

I really have been sticking to the pantry challenge even if I have not had much time to blog about it.  I found a pineapple cake mix that had expired in December. I knew that was only the "best by" date but wanted to use it. I had sliced pineapple in the pantry so I made a pineapple upside down cake. 

Over the weekend we had a pizza given to us by a neighbor and sandwiches.  Monday's meal was chicken tenders and potato wedges.  Yesterday W had a work lunch so I ate leftovers.  Last night we had cheeseburgers. 

Today we picked up a few groceries.  Normally this is a time when we might eat out.  We came home and had tuna sandwiches and chips.  Supper will be a pizza.

I spent $16 this week.  I purchased bananas, tangerines, peanut butter chips, two bags of potato chips, ice cream, and a frozen pizza.  The ice cream and pizza were on clearance.  W loves ice cream, and it was a nice treat.  The pizza was $2 so we decided to give it a try. I was happy to come in under budget even with a couple of unplanned purchases.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pantry Challenge Day 11

First up a review of the tomato soup from yesterday's post.  It was delicious.  W turned his nose up at the idea of tomato soup so I served him vegetable soup from the freezer.  When he saw me eating it, he was sorry he chose to eat something else.  I think he was expecting something along the lines of canned tomato soup which this is not!  I had plenty of leftovers for the freezer so W can have tomato soup on another day.

Today's breakfast was more of the same.  Lunch was the burritos we did not eat for lunch yesterday.  Tonight we are having Cream Baked Ziti.  Only it will be creamy baked penne since that is what was in the pantry.  This was on my list of recipes to try.  I chose it since I need to use up some sour cream.  I am serving it with homemade breadsticks and salad (lettuce from the greenhouse & homemade dressing). 

I feel good at nearly two weeks into the pantry challenge.  We have barely scratched the surface of our freezers.  The pantry is still well stocked. This was a good thing to do.  I needed something to stop me from buying more food and start using what we have. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pantry Challenge Day 10

I have been on a cooking spree lately.  Some times I get in the mood when I just want to cook so I am taking advantage of it.  I am also moving through my January list of recipes to try.  I still have some magazine recipes I need to sort and may test a few of those this month.

Breakfast here was the same as yesterday.  I had  yogurt and granola while W ate cereal. 

My plan for lunch was enchiladas and homemade baked tortilla chips.  I had been wanting to try homemade tortilla chips for months, and today seemed like the perfect day.  I made corn tortillas first and then cut them into wedges and baked them.  They were not exactly like store bought tortilla chips, but I was quite happy. 

You might have noticed "the plan was" which means it did not go as I intended.  W fell asleep on the couch.  This was much more than a nap so I scraped the original lunch idea and ate a snack-y lunch myself. 

I might have considered moving lunch to supper except I already had supper in the crockpot - Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup.  I had all of the ingredients on hand.  I used dehydrated celery and onions.  I had home canned tomatoes and oregano from the garden.  We have not actually eaten supper yet so I will have to let you know tomorrow how it turned out. 

It is dreary and drizzling here so I am going to watch a show on Hulu and work on my recipe book.  Does anyone else try new recipes during a pantry challenge or do you stick to the tried and true?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pantry Challenge Days 8 & 9 Plus Grocery Shopping

My Internet has been uncooperative the past two days.  That and a bit of life kept me from posting until now.  On Tuesday - day 8 - we did some rearranging of the outside freezer.  This reaffirmed the fact that I do not need to buy more food.  We are set and will be eating from what we have on hand for more than this month.  We had a late breakfast of yogurt/granola for me and cereal for W.  Lunch was barbecue stuffed potatoes to use up the barbecue left from Monday night.

Today was another late breakfast.  I had waffles and W had cereal.  He loves cereal and would eat it three times a day.  We then had an early supper.  I cooked terriyaki chicken, Parmesan pasta, and green beans. 

Grocery Shopping....I spent all of my $20 this week.  For my money I got a gallon of milk, two bags of M&Ms, powdered milk, cornstarch, baking powder, Simply Lemonade (my treat - on clearance), three packages of gum (to keep W from buying it at an overpriced convenience store), and almonds.  I think I did well for the amount of money I had to spend. 

For at least this month I am going to keep my grocery spending to a maximum of $20 per week with no eating out at all.  It is tempting to stock up on items, but if we have an ample supply I am telling myself no.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Goal - Try New Recipes: #1 Fudge

I am a collector of recipes.  One of my goals for this year is to actually make the recipes that I have saved.  Over the weekend I went through all of the online recipes I had been saving and assigned a month to each.  I might do some shuffling of months, but I intend to try each recipe.  I did delete quite a few that I thought I would no longer be interested in making. 

I selected four recipes to try for January and I made the first one yesterday.  I had saved this particular fudge recipe for the title - No Fail Peanut Butter Cocoa Fudge.  Fudge and I do not have a good history so the "No Fail" part of the title was especially interesting. 


The fudge turned out lovely.  I am in the middle of a pantry challenge but had all of the ingredients.  I used mostly creamy peanut butter since I had a cup that needed to be used.  Once cut I immediately put half of the fudge in the freezer.  Otherwise I felt certain W would eat the entire pan in a day or two.  It really is delicious.

This recipe is a definite success and will be printed for my recipe book.  The recipe book is also getting a makeover this year.  I expect to be adding some recipes and probably even removing a few.  If you are looking for a good and easy fudge recipe, I highly recommend this No Fail Peanut Butter Cocoa Fudge from The Finer Things in Life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pantry Challenge Days 6 & 7 with Ranch Dip Mix Recipe

W has taken the same things in his lunch both yesterday and today.  Yesterday I had yogurt and granola for breakfast.  I ate lunch with my parents.  Last night W was tired and ate a bowl of cereal.  I was not particularly hungry myself.  I had a snack-y supper of jalapeno poppers, chips, and celery. 

This morning by the time I got a chance to eat breakfast it was almost lunch.  I ended up skipping breakfast and had chili from the freezer for lunch.  Supper tonight will be barbecue sandwiches plus chips and dip.  We have a piece of a bag of plain potato chips left.  W will not eat plain chips.  I mixed up a dry ranch dip mix and added it to some sour cream.  The chickens would happily eat the chips, but the addition of a dip made from ingredients on hand added them to my meal plan.

I cannot remember the original source of this dip mix recipe.  I have had it for years and years.  It is easy to mix up the dry ingredients and store.    It is delicious with chips and vegetables.

Ranch Dip Mix

2 T plus 2 t dried onion
1 T parsley
2 1/2 t paprika
2 t sugar
2 t salt
2 t pepper
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 C sour cream

Mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Add 1 tablespoon of dry mix to sour cream.  Refrigerate at least several hours to allow flavors to develop. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pantry Challenge Day 5 & Waffles

W headed off to work this morning.  He always takes a packed assortment of foods.  This week he is taking grits, popcorn, almonds, powdered doughnuts, Dorito's and tangerines.  I know it is atrocious.  I struggle with sneaking healthy items in his lunch box, but I am working on it.

I had yogurt with a half of a waffle for breakfast.  Dinner was the last of my chicken broccoli rice casserole from the freezer. 

For supper we are having cheeseburgers at W's request.  I might make potato wedges to go with them.

Late yesterday I decided to make waffles.  I had already taken two containers of half and half out of the freezer.  It had been in the freezer too long and definitely needed to be used.  I made a triple batch of waffles.  I used 3 duck eggs rather than the 6 chicken eggs called for in the recipe.  I should have counted how many waffles I ended up making, but I was tired and just wanted to get them in the freezer. 

Seed Packets - Cricut Organization Project

One of my goals for this year is to make better use of my Cricut.  The weekly challenges at Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog are the perfect encouragement.  This week's challenge is "Get Organized".  I pondered for most of the week what I could possibly make.  The other ladies had some great ideas, but they were not quite right for me.

Finally the perfect project hit me - seed packets.  I am sure many people would think I am crazy for thinking about saving seeds in January.  I have actually already started planting my spring garden.  I knew I had saved some seeds from last year's garden, but they were lost.  Having cute packets to keep them in would be wonderful.

I made some envelopes in several sizes using the New Arrival cartridge.  I added a leaf decoration, which came from the Stretch Your Imagination cartridge, to the corner of each.  I did not want to add too much decoration so I have plenty of room to write about the seeds in the packet.

Now I will be able to neatly organize and store all of my seeds this year.  I never would have thought of this without the FCCB challenge!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pantry Challenge Day 4

We ate a late breakfast this morning.  It was almost too late to even call it brunch.  I needed the sleep to fight off whatever silly bug I caught.  That threw our entire day of meals off just a bit.

For breakfast/brunch W had English muffins, eggs, and the last of the ham.  I ate yogurt with granola and a touch of maple syrup.  I was worried that the yogurt would be too tangy since I left it in the cooler two hours longer than planned. 

Since breakfast was so late, we skipped straight to supper.  We had "corn dog" which are actually Hebrew National hot dogs wrapped in my calzone dough and French fries from the freezer.  Not exactly healthy, but it was quick which is a good thing when one is under the weather.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Grocery Shopping & Pantry Challenge Days 2 & 3

I am trying to get into the habit of posting what we ate on the night we ate it.  I am combining two days to get me on track.  First up the grocery shopping.  I sent W to the store since he had to go to work for a few hours.  He stuck to the list I sent and purchased four boxes of instant grits and a bag of oranges.  Those items were for his lunch.  The grits will last him for the next several months.  I try to stock up when they are on sale.  There are enough oranges for at home snacking as well as his lunch.  The total spent was $11.32. 

Day Two Meals
Breakfast - We did not eat any - a rare occurrence, but it happens.

Lunch - ham sandwiches on homemade bread with Doritos for W and cheese ball and wheat crackers for me
Supper - I felt yucky last night so I had soup from the freezer & W ate grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.
Day Three Meals
Breakfast - W had eggs and toast.  I ate an English muffin and homemade yogurt with granola
Lunch - Taco salads using homemade tortillas, lettuce from the greenhouse, and other bits from the freezer
Supper - We are not quite there yet, but I am planning vegetable soup.
Tuesday I made a double batch of whole wheat tortillas.  I had a little assembly line going  I rolled out the dough on an area of the counter.
I cooked them on a griddle on the kitchen island.
Then I placed them on a rack to cool before bagging them to freeze.  Now I have a good supply to pull from the freezer.  I prefer homemade tortillas.  They are simple to make and use only basic ingredients so are quite inexpensive.  I had all of the ingredients on hand.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pantry Challenge - Day 1

We were invited to eat with family so our only real meal at home yesterday was breakfast.  On Monday I had made a batch of homemade English muffins.  They helped use up some yogurt.  The majority of the English muffins went into the freezer.   I kept some out for breakfast.  Below is what W had to eat. 
He chose to have egg and ham on his muffin.  I had ham and cheese.  The eggs were from my parents' chickens as our are on strike.  The ham was from the freezer.  This may be our breakfast of choice for the next couple of days. 
Tomorrow I will have the weekly grocery purchases and another stock up item made with pantry staples.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Birthday and Anniversary Cards for 2013

I have tried all day to upload some photos for this post, but I only managed to get two.  I really enjoy sending birthday and anniversary cards to family and friends.  This year I decided to make cards rather than buy them.  I have an assortment of supplies so it was basically just time. 

I also prefer to prepare cards for the coming year all at once.  I keep them divided by month.  At the beginning of the month,  I pull the cards and then just need to mail them.  If you are one of the friends I send cards to, act surprised when yours arrives in the mail this year.

Here is a sample of a birthday card I made.  I used an embossing folder to do the swirls.  I stamped and colored the image in the center.  The insides are stamped with various birthday sentiments.

The anniversary card features the same embossed design.  The bird embellishment was actually a purchased tag.  I used a jewel piece to cover the whole where the ribbon would have gone.

I do plan to use my Cricut to make some cards this year.  A part of me really likes the simple cards though.