Trip to Charlotte

In November I was able to take another work trip, this time to Charlotte.  Unfortunately, we were not staying downtown so I didn’t get to see much of the city besides a nice mall in the area.

As part of the convening, we did a cooking demonstration at a local restaurant.  We got to try some great dishes!

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Kid Friendly Recipe – Teriyaki Chicken

Recently my mom made us some crock pot meals for the freezer. It is so nice to be able to grab a dinner and have it cooked and ready to go when we get in the door. We have been having trouble getting our 13 month old to eat lots of veggies so we were super surprised when she ate all the pieces of carrot before we could blink! She also loved the pineapple in this (so sweet!) but it was even easy for her to eat the chicken that was so soft and tender even though she still only has 4 teeth.

Roughly, here is the recipe although this seems to be one of those great ones that has many variations and is hard to mess up. The veggies would be easy to substitute out or change the quantity depending on what your family likes. I think it would be great with some green bell peppers!

Teriyaki Chicken for Slow Cooker

  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots or large carrots cut up
  • 1/2 onion cut up
  • (1) 20oz can pineapple in each bag (pieces seemed to work best)
  • (1) Garlic Cloves chopped
  • (2) Chicken Breasts (not cooked)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

Before cooking you are supposed to add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to the mixture. However, we didn’t have teriyaki sauce so we used our own version which is basically low-sodium soy sauce with a bit of brown sugar. We took it straight from the freezer, ran it under some warm water so we could get it out of the gallon bag and put it in our slow cooker/crock pot. We cooked this on HIGH for 4 hours but you can also cook on LOW for 8 hours.

We served it over white rice that we cooked separately. There was plenty of teriyaki juice to use to cover the rice.

As you can see below, she loved it!

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Solid Food Updates

I wanted to share that suddenly this past weekend at 5 and a half months DJ suddenly decided to take to solids. It really was like a light switched on and she wants to eat now. As I mentioned earlier she did have a bad head cold and just finished up antibiotics so maybe that’s why the sudden change but I’m thinking she just needed some practice and wanted to start on her own time.

Before we were feeding her every few nights after her milk. She would fuss in the high chair and get aggravated very easily. On Saturday when J went to feed her squash she suddenly was grabbing the spoon, opening her mouth, keeping the food in her mouth.

She ate a whole “cube” of squash and then about a tablespoon of rice in one sitting! We are now sending two cubes of food to daycare for in the mornings.

This was her this week with sweet potatoes!

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Making Baby Food

Since we found out we were pregnant J has been so excited about making baby food. We have done some research and really hope we can do this for our sweet baby girl.

At our four month check up the doctor gave us the go ahead to start solids. To get started this weekend I cooked up this wonderful food!

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It was two small organic spaghetti squashes (leftover from thanksgiving) and a sweet potato. I baked them on this sheet for about an hour. Then I scooped them into our food processor and turned it on. That was it! I scooped the purée into ice cube trays and froze them.  We picked up this set of ice cube trays along with another basic set we found at WalMart.  I like this green/blue set because they are silicone so they are pretty easy to pop out but also because they are so small (only 1/4″thick so they held a small amount).

Silicone ice cube trays from walmart

 

The next day I popped them out of the tray and into some zip lock bags for storage. I can’t wait to let her try these!

You don’t have to be an “Extreme Couponer” to get “Extreme Savings”

As you guys know, I have been using coupons at grocery stores for a while now.  In fact, I started before I started blogging about it (you know, to get the hang of it). Now that the new extreme coupon show has started, tons of people are out there with all kinds of opinions on grocery store coupons.

My frustrations come though when people think that they need to spend hours clipping coupons or end up with a basement full of stockpiled toilet paper and toothpaste in order to really use coupons.

I am guessing that 99% of people reading here, and people I know, don’t have hours to clip coupons or need basements full of pasta and sauce.  What we do need though is some EXTREME SAVINGS on groceries.

Here is what I have found:

  1. I limit my couponing to grocery stores, primarily one grocery store (Publix).  I have found that the pharmacy couponing is a bit more complicated and is typically stuff I don’t need right now.  Trying to compare prices and sales across multiple grocery stores is also time consuming and I really like just going to one store.
  2. I limit my coupons to ones I can print online or find in store.  I tried buying newspapers and saving magazines for a while, but it was a lot more time consuming and I didn’t feel I was getting the savings back out of it.  We live in a small area, so our Sunday newspaper doesn’t always get a lot of the good coupons that bigger areas like Atlanta or Orlando get.  In order to get the B1G1 savings out of the newspaper you have to buy two which costs me $3 and I didn’t think I was consistently getting $3 of savings back out.
  3. I try to always shop with a $5 off your total purchase coupon.  This is one of the easiest largest savings you can do.  I typically use the Save-A-Lot coupon which my Publix accepts but often there are Publix coupons that are mailed to us or in the newspaper (I will pick up a paper if I know this is in there).  I either calculate my total to be about $25 or I ask the cashier to stop the register at $25 and use my coupon.  Even if I use no other coupons and buy full priced items, this is a 20% savings on groceries.
  4. I do stockpile, but only the things I know we will use.  I think the buying for 4-6 weeks is a great rule of thumb to get you some great savings.  Again, even if there aren’t any coupons but you know its an item you use a lot and its on sale, buy enough to get your family through a few weeks.  It now KILLS me to have to pay $3 for a bottle of ketchup, $2 for salad dressing, or even $1 for a box of pasta.   The only other items that I occasionally will buy more of is the “money makers”.  These items actually have the coupon value higher than the price of the item so it saves you money off your total.  You may remember I bought a lot of the vitamins that ran about $4 each but I had $6 worth of coupons.  That is an extra $2 off something else in my basket like milk or meat that hardly ever has coupons.

This week I did two Publix trips.  We didn’t really need groceries but there were some good sales I didn’t want to miss out on.

Trip #1

Boneless Skinless Chicken $2.99/lb x 1.8lbs = $5.38

Ground Chuck $2.99/lb x 1.2lbs = $3.58

I used a $3 off any $8 meat department coupon from Harveys.  This brought the price of the meat down to about $1.85/lb. 

Reynolds Heavy Duty Foil $4.35 B1G1 w/ two $0.75 coupons = $1.40 each

LouAna Oil (we were out)  $3 w/ $0.50 coupon = $2.50

Tena Pads $5.19 each with a B1G1 (store) coupon and two $2.50 (manufacturers) coupons.

My order total was $26.70 and then I used my coupons including my $5 off Save-A-Lot coupon and my purchase total came out to about $6.70 plus tax.  This is about a 75% savings!

Trip #2

Pork Spare Ribs $1.99/lb x 4.5lbs = $8.95

I used a $3 off any $8 meat department coupon from Harveys.  This brought the price down to $1.32/lb

Tena Pads $5.19 each with a B1G1 (store) coupon and two $2.50 (manufacturers) coupons.

Playtex Spill Proof sippy cups (I bought 2) $1.99 each each with a $2 off coupon

Natures Own Bread $2.69 B1G1

Gallon of Milk $3.89

My order total was just over $30 but after my coupons (again using another $5 off Save-A-Lot coupon), my total out of pocket was $7.89.  Again, this is roughly a 70% savings (the meat alone was more than my total!).

So anyways, just two examples of how you can still buy items without coupons and get extreme savings!

Great summer savings at Publix

Yesterday I had to stop and get some burgers for dinner. Nobody wanted to cook so I was already frustrated that I was going to spend an arm and a leg for pre made burgers. I was able to print out a few coupons though in about 5 minutes before I went to the store an ended ip hoping for the nest.

Here is what I planned on getting:
Burger patties
Hamburger buns
Chips
Ketchup
Shredded cheese
Avocado (For J even though they are really out of season)

I was figuring this would all cost about $20.

After looking at sales here is a picture of everything I got for $20!

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I was really happy that for under $20 we had a quick and easy dinner!

First anniversary dinner

This weekend was our first anniversary and instead of going out to dinner we decided to make one of our favorite recipes. When I met J he didn’t even really like salmon but after trying this recipe he loves it! The different ingredients really help cover the fish tastes and goes well with lots of side dishes.

The marinade for the fish calls for 1.5 Tbs of honey, 1.5 Tbs of Dijon mustard (which normally I don’t like anything with mustard but you can’t taste it here), and 1 Tbs of balsamic vinegar. We also add salt pepper and garlic to taste but we add that stuff to everything. Cover the fish with marinade and bake or grill when you are ready between 350 and 400 degrees.

Here is a picture from the prep:

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Dinner came out really well.  We served it with brown rice and asparagus. We really enjoyed sitting out on the back patio and talking for a little while!

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Dinner was finished off with the amazing wedding cake!

Ranch Chicken and Tri-Colored Noodles

I found this recipe here and wanted to make it for dinner tonight. This was the perfect recipe because tri-colored pasta was on sale this week (Ronzoni Garden Delight) and J took a package of about 8 chicken tenderloins out for dinner.

Chicken and pasta
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The recipe is really easy. Marinate chicken in ranch dressing, cover in bread crumbs, and pan fry. Serve with tri-colored noodles!

New Orleans

This past week I was lucky to travel on another work trip to a location I had never been before. J has been here before but I hadn’t. I still wish we could have gone together but he had to stay home with school and work.

The meeting took place at the Hotel Monteleon. It was about a block off of Bourbon Street on a much quieter side street with lots of antique shops. The hotel was beautiful and is known for its moving carousel bar in the lobby. We arrived around 3 pm with some time to explore and the hotel was perfectly located for walking around.

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One of the first places I walked with one of my co-workers was Cafe du Monde. Since it was a Monday afternoon, we easily got a table and enjoyed some beignets and some hot chocolate.

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It was amazing how simple and small the restaurant was. The wait staff simple went down a cafeteria style line and gathered the food to be served.

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I really enjoyed walking around New Orleans. It was a very easy city to navigate and during the day I felt very safe. I ventured into some of the shops on canal street and enjoyed the scenery there.

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After a long day of meetings, I was also really lucky to enjoy a wonderful dinner hosted by the event at Broussards. It was a wonderful restaurant and we enjoyed many of the dishes shared at the table.

Here are some pictures from the restaurants website:

Broussards New Orleans Restaurant French Quarter Bourbon street

Broussards New Orleans Restaurant

New Orleans, Broussards, Restaurant

Here are some of the dishes we tried at the table:

Hot Appetizers:
FLASH-FRIED CALAMARI
In a Creole tomato & olive relish with freshly ground black pepper

CRABMEAT BROUSSARD
Crabmeat Baked in Artichoke-Brie Béchamel, Surrounded by Herbsaint Spinach

ESCARGOT PERSILLADE
Baked Burgundy snail and shitake mushrooms in garlic parsley butter, with a hint of Herbsaint demi glace, set in a Phillo cup shell

Soups:
TRIO OF SOUPS
Demi-Tasse of Shrimp Bisque, Gumbo and Turtle Soup

My entree was a special of the evening but it was a Salmon with crab meat and cous cous.

For desert we tried the following:
Crepes Broussard
Crepes Rolled with a Cream Cheese, Brandy Pecan Stuffing and Served in a Strawberry Sauce

Bananas Foster
Bananas Sauteed in Rum, Brown Sugar, Butter and Cinnamon. Served over Vanilla Ice Cream.

Cranberry Almond & Raisin Diplomat Pudding
Served with Bananas Foster Sauce

It was a wonderful trip!

Happy Halloween 2010

It has already been a wonderful Halloween weekend!

We had a party to go to so I made these REALLY easy meringue ghosts. I was really surprised how easy they were and how many people liked them.

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I was really happy to use my mix master again! I had never done piping before so I was pretty happy with how they turned out. For the eyes I used mini chocolate chips. This worked pretty well except I needed to push them in a little bit harder so they would stick better.

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Luckily I started making these around 2 pm for a 6 pm party because they took an hour in the oven and then another 45 minutes or so to finish up with the door propped open. They probably could have used a full 2 hours in the oven because they were still a bit sticky on the inside.

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By the time we left the party there were only 2 left! I can’t wait to make christmas trees and/or snowmen for christmas.

After that party, our good friends came over and we got dressed up and went out for a little bit. We almost won the costume contest too!

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Happily, the night ended with a trip to Whataburger!

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Happy Halloween!!