Sharing our food successes and failures, new recipes and old favorites
...and throwing in some great money-saving deals here and there!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breakfast Stuff

I woke up this morning and was starving (which is fairly unusual for me). Linds started asking for pancakes, so I figured, what the heck? Let's do some! I have a giant box of Bisquick, and my favorite pancakes are their "melt in your mouth" kind. They always turn out fluffy and perfect. Even Luke at two!

Bisquick "Melt in your Mouth" Pancakes
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°F; grease with cooking spray, vegetable oil or shortening.
  2. Stir all ingredients until blended. Pour by slightly less than 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle.
  3. Cook until mixture bubbles. Turn; cook until golden. 
  4. To keep warm, place in single layer on cookie sheet. Cover with aluminum foil, and place in 200°F oven up to 10 minutes.

I also made a breakfast for tomorrow's MOMS Club event - a Bisquick bacon quiche. I don't think it's "screw up"-able, but we'll see tomorrow! Here's that recipe:

Bisquick Bacon Quiche
1/4 cup melted butter
1-1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup Bisquick
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup bacon (about 7 slices) -- cut or broken into small pieces.

  1. Mix first 5 ingredients together and beat well (wire whisk works well). 
  2. Stir in Bisquick.
  3. Pour into 9 inch (deep) cake pan.
  4. Put in meat and cheese on top of mixture (do not mix).
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Apr. 29 - BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

 I thought this was going to be a food fail as I started it. It's an intensely over-complicated recipe that honestly doesn't need to be even half as complex. The buttermilk dressing can easily be buttermilk ranch salad dressing, the smoked tomato relish can be a sweeter salsa (pineapple salsa, perhaps?), and the BBQ chicken could be regular old breasts shredded after barbecuing. But, I went through this step by step...and my god, it took forever. The result tasted pretty good, but nothing exciting. My buttermilk did NOT come out right (probably because of some substitutions) - it was watery and not nearly as creamy as it should have been. Ah, well, not every dinner can be fabulous?!

Bbq Chicken Quesadilla with Smoked Tomato Relish and Buttermilk Dressing
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
4 chicken thighs, boned (about 1 pound), skin removed
3 cups BBQ sauce, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
24 (6-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder

Smoked Tomato Salsa
8 cold smoked plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 serrano chile, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Buttermilk Dressing
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Place chicken in a medium baking dish. Pour 2 cups of the barbecue sauce over chicken and let marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator. 
  2. Remove from marinade, season with salt and pepper to taste and grill for 7 to 8 minutes on both sides or until tender and cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. 
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, slice. Toss with the reserved 1 cup of bbq sauce. 
  5. Place 8 tortillas on a flat surface and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of each of the cheeses and onion slices. Top with some chicken. Stack another tortilla on top and repeat. Top with the remaining 8 tortillas. 
  6. Brush the top of the tortillas with oil and sprinkle with the chili powder. Place tortillas on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and cheese has melted.
For the Smoked Tomato Salsa: Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Buttermilk Dressing: Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Place 1 quesadilla on each plate and cut into quarters. Top with a dollop of salsa and drizzle with the buttermilk dressing.

* I wish these were what mine looked like, but this is just from the Food Network page.

Apr. 28 - Buffalo Chicken Salad

I had a frustrating day yesterday and frantically texted my friend Sarah to see if she'd escape with me for drinks after the kids were asleep. Being the amazing friend she is, she immediately agreed! I didn't feel like fussing with a big meal, so I made some salads and grilled some chicken to top them with. I have a bottle of buffalo marinade which I used to coat the chicken, and then used my bleu cheese vinaigrette to top it. It wasted delicious and was low-cal!

Newlywed Guest Blog!

Remember my good friend, Katie? She was the one married a month or so ago that I used to work with at Drexel...the one who kept me sane during those crazy days! She's also the one who passed along the famed cornbread enchilada casserole. Well, in all of her newlywed glory, she found another dish that pleased both her and her husband! I'm drooling as I type, so I may just have to go and get some Ritz crackers and make this for dinner STAT! Here's the recipe:

True to the magazine's name, this recipe is simple to make and real simple to scarf down before your husband gets off a phone call and the heat is still billowing off the meat and the side dish isn't even finished cooking. The cheesy cracker mixture kept the moisture in and the buttery flavor mixed very well with the small amount of garlic, salt and pepper. I cut the breasts in half because we bought super huge pieces from Sam's. I managed to eat four pieces (probably two breasts) because it was so yummy. I can't wait for noon tomorrow when I can heat it up at work.

This meal was made after a string of mediocre dinners on my part. I hoped it would be good but didn't get too excited in case it turned out like my bland rice and beans or my too-tart-for-my-liking tilapia. Something told me, though, that I should have taken a picture of me prepping it because it would be the next good meal I made and would be good for this blog. Well, then something else told me not to jinx it so i just plodded along, dipping the chicken into the butter and then the cracker mixture and then the cookie sheet (I wanted to be a good guest blogger and offer up a different kind of picture than just the finished product.... but, that will have to wait until next time.. if i am allowed back!)

So, here's to your next favorite chicken dish!

Cheddar Chicken
from Real Simple's May 2010 issue
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25-30 mins
16 buttery crackers (i.e., Ritz) crushed
6 oz grated sharp cheddar
1 clove chopped garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper

  1. Heat over to 350.
  2. In a bowl, combine crushed crackers, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper
  3. Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere, and then place on a foil-lined baking sheet
  4. Sprinkle remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle any remaining butter on top.
  5. Bake 25-30 mins and until chicken is golden brown and cooked through.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CHEAP Sally nailpolish - KILLER deal!

Sally is having a sale on nail polishes - and with summer arriving soon, there will be plenty of toenail exposure, so you need to act on this!

The Sally Girl line is only 99 cents a bottle. Use coupon code 555919 to get 25% off and FREE shipping on your order. Then, use 555135 to get a buy 2, get 1 free deal.

I just ordered 6 bottles of polish for $3.51!

Thanks to Deal Finding Chik for letting me know about this fab deal!

PS: Hot nail polish colors for this season include metallics and pastels (especially in blues and greens) - mix up your order with some fun new colors :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apr. 27 - Grilled Mahi Mahi

Tonight's dinner, grilled mahi mahi with roasted red pepper sauce and cilantro pesto, was beyond phenomenal - I mean, restaurant-quality food served up right here in my kitchen! Kind of gourmet (at least for the boy's and my taste?!) and the best part...we ate it while the kids were in bed for the night :)

The boy is not a big fan of fish - in fact, he really doesn't like it. The texture bugs him, and he didn't eat much (if any) of it growing up; having a farming family, he had a lot of "meat and potatoes" dinners. He will dabble with mahi mahi (that's it though!), so I decided to try to find a recipe he'd like.

I stumbled upon this one from All Recipes and the reviews were very positive. It looked a little lengthy to make, so I did the cilantro pesto and half of the roasted red pepper sauce during the kiddos' naptime and put that aside for later. Once the boy got home, we put Linds and Luke to bed and made dinner together. It was nice being able to chat with each other without constant interruptions, and a double bonus was having some help in the kitchen! If you're a fan of fish, you MUST give this a try - it is absolutely delicious and the boy even said, "wow, this is amazing! Make it again." For him to say "make it again" to a fish dish is huge!

The prep time was about 30 minutes for the cilantro pesto and red pepper sauce (which I had leftovers of and froze...they aren't ingredients I normally keep on hand), and the fish took about 10 or 15 minutes to grill. All in all, not too bad an amount of time! We had grilled asparagus and white rice with it.

Grilled Mahi Mahi w/ Roasted Red Pepper Sauce & Cilantro Pesto
1/2 cup white wine
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
4 (6 ounce) mahi mahi fillets
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Place the wine and shallot in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and reduce the liquid down by about half, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the Parmesan cheese, garlic, and walnuts into a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add the olive oil, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; process until smooth. Remove the cilantro pesto from the food processor and set aside.
  4. Place the red peppers into the food processor, pour in the wine reduction, and process until smooth. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for 4 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, season both sides of the mahi mahi fillets with salt and pepper. Cook the mahi mahi on the preheated grill until the fish is golden and flakes easily with a fork, about 4 minutes per side.
  7. Whisk the butter, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the red pepper sauce until smooth. 
  8. Spoon the red pepper sauce onto the bottom of the serving plate, arrange the fish on the sauce, and top with the cilantro pesto to serve.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Apr. 26 - Quick Chicken Pot Pie

Okay, before anyone goes berserk on me - I know this is not a "true" pot pie recipe. I am not defiling my husband's or my family's PA Dutch/central PA heritage, nor am I trying to pass this off as any form of authentic pot pie dish. What it is, however, is a quick chicken/veggies/biscuit combination that took me a whopping 35 minutes to make AND bake AND serve. Bisquick called it chicken pot pie, so therein lies the reason I call it chicken pot pie. (LOL - last time I posted a "pot pie" recipe, a few friends from back home were aghast at my description of the dish.)

Anyways, today the kids and I took a tour of the Sun & Earth Factory in King of Prussia, PA. For those not familiar with the brand, it is a company that manufactures organic, non-toxic, biodegradable, vegan, and better for the environment cleaning products. Their line is huge - everything from multi-purpose spray to detergents, dryer sheets, hand soaps, etc. It's a small factory - I was surprised how compact their operations were! - but it was fascinating to see how it all worked. Each kid was given an empty bottle that they were able to fill on the product line with some of their all-purpose cleaner. Linds thought it was "super awesome" and proceeded to spend over two full hours after her nap cleaning the downstairs. My house seriously looks better than when I clean it?! Afterwards she, Luke and I went to Cheeburger Cheeburger in Malvern and ate a huge lunch with burgers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes (she had the birthday cake one which was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!!! and I drank the Almond Joy, which was not as good, but still way yummy). Luke loved the food, too - he ate half of Lindsay's burger! Little buddy is going through a HUGE growth spurt.

Needless to say, after doing the tour, lunch, getting home well after 2:00, putting the kids down for the nap, cleaning up around the house, etc., I was so not in the mood to make dinner. This recipe was quick and easy - well worth it in my opinion! And the 230 calories/serving wasn't bad either (way too many calories at lunch, so a low cal dinner helps me feel like I didn't totally blow the diet). Linds didn't eat much, but she also ate a humongous lunch. I even gave Luke bites of it and he devoured the veggies, screaming for more after each bite (this after 2 jars of food).

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 package Perdue shortcut chicken
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. 
  2. In ungreased 2-quart dish, stir vegetables, chicken and soup. 
  3. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients until blended. 
  4. Pour on top of veggies and chicken. 
  5. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Guest Blog!!

My dear friend, Julia, agreed to guest blog on Dining with the Rissers! She, like myself, is a former public relations guru who left it all for the kiddos. We could sit and "talk shop" for hours on end (preferably over a glass or two of wine!) while the kiddos play. We met through the Coatesville MOMS Club, and in the fall, Lindsay and one of her daughters will be in the same preschool at about the same times. We'll have lots of opportunities to enjoy a few cups of coffee and let her 7-month old son and Luke chase each other around the house! Here's what she wrote...

Our family has fallen into pretty regular mealtime traditions. We have a very busy household with three children under the age of five, so designating certain days for particular meals makes a lot of sense. And on the weekends we try to make meals that don't require a lot of fuss. Saturdays, when my hubby is often in charge of the kitchen, we usually have homemade burgers on the grill. Todd is a big guy, from western Pa., and likes his meat and potatoes like the best of them. He's a great cook, too, having managed a restaurant and bar throughout most of his college career. Being the health-conscious mom and wife that I am, I try to make sure we all watch our fat and cholesterol intake.

This week I decided that turkey burgers would be a perfect option, whipped up easily but with a bit of a gourmet twist. With my gentle instruction, he made the patties and then I topped them with roasted red peppers and feta cheese. (Although, the girls ate their burgers sans topping, with the exception of some ketchup and mustard.) Served with a side of sweet potato fries and a nice glass of pinot noir, we had a delicious and healthier version of our regular favorite.

Turkey Burgers
2 1-lb. packages of ground turkey
McCormick onion powder
McCormick Grill Mates Hamburger spice
Roasted red peppers (we got these from a favorite Italian deli my dad goes to in NJ)
Athenos Feta cheese (chunk), from Wegmans, cut into small slices
Alexia Julienne Sweet potato fries, sold in frozen section of Wegmans
Rolls of your choice

  1. Mold ground turkey into patties.
  2. Season with onion powder and hamburger spice.
  3. Grill over medium heat.
  4. Put turkey burger on roll and top with feta.
  5. Add roasted red peppers.
  6. Serve with sweet potato fries, baked according to directions.

Apr. 25 - Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

It was a cool, rainy day - just absolutely miserable, with screaming kids, a bored mommy, and a daddy who wound up working a solid 6 hours out of the day (after traveling Thursday and Friday and not coming home until late). What better comfort food than spaghetti?

I used Ronzoni Smart Taste's spaghetti (which I "bought" seven boxes of and paid NOTHING using this deal and buying them at Giant where they're priced at $1 each. Thanks, Deal Finding Chik for the tip! I'm also not big into jarred sauce lately - I've eaten it so much that it just doesn't taste good anymore, so I made a tomato meat sauce to go with it. It was the *best* recipe I've tasted! The sauce was fantastic, albeit a tad bit runny, and it made enough for four separate meals. I divided the rest into three freezer bags and tossed it in the freezer - three meals ready to go! I definitely recommend trying this out. Next time, though, I might half and half it with sausage meat instead of all ground beef. We paired it with salads since we have 3 lbs. that I bought at BJ's and need to finish ASAP!

Oh, and I almost forgot - since it was Luke's 11-month birthday (can you believe it?!?), we ate special "butterscotch birthday pudding" that was topped with Cool Whip. Yum!

Spaghetti Tomato/Meat Sauce
1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 pound lean ground beef
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Blend the stewed tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in a blender.
  2. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic. 
  3. Pour in tomatoes, and reduce heat. 
  4. Add sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and cover. 
  5. Simmer about 45 minutes. Serve warm over pasta of your choice.
The prep time was about 15 minutes - that included chopping the onion and garlic, as well as browning it and mixing the sauce together. This would be simple to toss together and put in the crockpot on low for those of you who work. It's also a great sauce to make ahead and freeze, pulling out each individual serving when you need it (when I say there were four servings, I meant there was enough for four meals for 2 adults and 1 child). And like I mentioned before, next time I make it, I'm going to substitute 1/2 lb. of sausage for 1/2 lb. of the beef. I think that will give it a nice kick! If you want to make it vegetarian, however, delete the meat out of the recipe and substitute in two tablespoons of olive oil.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Apr. 24 - Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

I've had a pork tenderloin sitting in the freezer for what seems like forever (honestly, I think it was the other half of the bulk package I bought at BJs for New Year's pork and sauerkraut). I found this recipe on my *favorite* recipe site and decided to give it a shot. I was tired of my slow cooker recipe and this one got rave reviews!

The tenderloin turned out perfectly moist and well cooked, and the flavor wasn't too bad - it wasn't an "oh my god, I could eat this whole slab of meat" type of dish, but it did taste pretty good. The glaze is very sweet, so if you're not one for sugary meat, I'd skip it. I paired it with corn and au gratin potatoes (processed food, I know - but I got the boxes for under a quarter - can't beat that price!).

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a bowl, combine thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. Rub thoroughly all over pork. Cut a few slits on the top of the roast and stick some slivers of garlic into the meat.
  3. Place pork in an uncovered roasting pan on the middle oven rack. Bake in the preheated oven approximately 2 or 2.5 hours hours, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 150 degrees F (65 degrees C), depending upon your desired doneness. I didn't have a roasting rack to put in the pan, so I cut a couple onions into thick slices and laid the roast on top of the onions so it wouldn't sit in its own drippings.
  4. Meanwhile, place sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken slightly. Brush roast with glaze 3 or 4 times during the last 1/2 hour of cooking. Pour remaining glaze over roast, and serve.
The prep time was maybe 10 or 15 minutes, but the cook time was longer - a good 2 hours and fifteen minutes. I'd make it again, but perhaps without the glaze (or just less glaze).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Apr. 23 - Stuffed chicken breast

Another night of dinner sans the boy, so we made it another easy one. I heated up a chicken breast stuffed with broccoli (one of those Barber Foods breaded ones) and made Linds some dinosaur nuggets and french fries. There's a coupon available for them, too! Back to normal dinners tomorrow :)

Apr. 22 - Cheeseburgers & Potatoes

The boy traveled yesterday and today, and we had two burgers left over from the other night, so I grilled them up for Miss L and me. We also had leftover garlic red potatoes from earlier in the week, so we reheated those, too. It was a nice, quick, easy meal that didn't have much clean-up (the best for those nights where I'm solo-parenting it and want them in bed STAT!).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Apr. 21 - Pasta Alfredo & Salad

It was a craaaazy day - we did a tour of the firehouse with the MOMS Club, had dance class, went to lunch and then Luke had his 2+ hour doctor's appointment. Luckily, my friend Christy offered to let Linds stay with her during the doctor's appointment, which worked out perfectly. She would have never endured the doctor's, and she and Christy painted nails and toenails, ate ice cream, colored pictures and watched Yo Gabba Gabba! She kept talking about how much fun she had all the way up to bedtime...thank you SO much Christy! :-)

We were home around 5:30ish, so we needed something quick and easy for dinner. I ended up throwing together some spaghetti noodles and a homemade alfredo sauce. The recipe is from a diabetic cookbook and not only is it quick to make, it's super easy!

Alfredo Sauce
3 tablespoons margarine/butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Melt butter over low heat.
  2. Once melted, mix in flour over medium heat until smooth.
  3. Add milk and stir until thickened.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
I like to toss a little oregano on top, and sometimes do grilled shrimp or broccoli on top. Today I was lazy and just served a salad with it.

Update on Luke's Peanut Allergy

Today I took Luke in to an allergy specialist to get more information on his peanut allergy. When we had the pediatrician do his blood test back in early January, it showed a significant enough severity for me to give up peanut butter (since it passes through breast milk) and to warrant this appointment. The doctor ordered a skin test at today's appointment, so the little guy was pricked and tested for all sorts of indoor and outdoor allergens, as well as for peanuts and all tree nuts, milk, soy, eggs, etc. The first round showed absolutely no allergies to anything (including the control)?!? We tried again and the control swelled up instantly in a hive and the peanut was slight, but not enough to even be considered an allergy. They opened a new bottle of test liquid, tried it again, and there was minimal reaction.

This is super strange since the blood test showed such a severe reaction, but it's a relief that perhaps the allergy isn't as bad as we originally thought. He still reacts to the peanuts when I eat them (projectile vomits), so we know there are some issues, but perhaps they won't be all that awful. For the time being, we're going to keep doing what we're doing (no peanuts for me as long as I'm nursing, and no peanuts for him at all), and we go back to the doctor in October for more blood tests and skin tests. Keep your fingers crossed that the earlier labs weren't accurate! Here's the happy little guy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Apr. 20 - Cheeseburgers & Baked Beans

Every spring we start buying the "freezer special" from Hershey's Farm Market - for $59 (my $10 coupon made it $49!), we get:
  • 5 lbs. ground chuck
  • 4 lbs. country style ribs
  • 4 lbs. chicken breasts
  • 4 lbs. chicken legs
  • 2 lbs. chicken wings
  • 2 lbs. pork chops, and
  • 2 lbs. sausage
Not too shabby, huh? Everything is individually prepackaged, too, so there's no sorting meat, re-wrapping, etc. I absolutely LOVE it! That meat will last us a good month or two, too, which makes shopping easy. The first thing I always do when we get that package is make hamburgers! Their ground beef is absolutely the best I've ever had and there's nothing like homemade burgers. I have yet to find a frozen pre-made kind that doesn't taste like the crap we used to eat in elementary school!

My burger recipe is super easy and is the perfect "base" for more intricate creations. Sometimes I add chopped up bacon and shredded cheese into the patties for a bacon cheeseburger, other times I've mixed in bleu cheese. Here it is:

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (equiv. to about 1 or 2 slices of bread if you want to make the effort to grate it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
minced onion and garlic powder to taste

  1. Mix all ingredients until well-formed.
  2. Split into 6 even patties

When we make our burgers, we use this awesome little tool my friend, Megan, bought for us. It's a "patty maker set" that you use to form the patties. It makes the burgers flat so that they cook evenly throughout and is so easy to use! Here's a link to the contraption on the right.

Today, I decided to go a little creative and make "stuffed burgers." I split up my beef into six even balls, and then I split each ball in half. I made a patty out of each piece, topped one with shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, and then slapped the other piece on top. I pressed the sides down to create a seam, then grilled it up for about 7 or 8 minutes on each side (we like our burgers medium to medium well). Here they are pre-grilled:
And then after they were cooked, here's how they looked:
Paired with baked beans, it was a fantastic dinner! Oh, and the most important part of the burger - the bun and toppings! I always get the Pepperidge Farms poppyseed and onion rolls (the best bun I've ever had), and topped my burger with bacon, ketchup, mustard and French's fried onions. I love "spring/summer" foods!

Guest Blog!

My sister-in-law, Jen, wrote the first guest blog for Dining with the Rissers! She is married to the boy's brother and has two sons - Ryan (7 years old) and Brett (almost 5 years old). I don't envy her grocery bills - I know her boys can eat her out of house and home! She wanted to share her recipe for Penne alla's quick and easy (and has vodka in it - how could it be bad?!).

Penne alla vodka
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup Vodka
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. 
  2. Add the vodka and reduce by half (about 4 to 5 minutes). 
  3. Add the cream and tomato sauce. 
  4. Simmer uncovered over low heat 10 to 12 minutes. 
  5. Serve over cooked Penne pasta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese prior to serving (optional).

*I will also add cooked chicken breasts to this sometimes. Sauté up some chicken breasts that have been pounded thin, coated with flour, and browned in butter. Add the chicken breasts to the sauce as it is simmering to allow the chicken to finish cooking and give the chicken flavor. You can also add some shrimp to this as another option. Add the shrimp at the last bit to cook. This recipe is quick and easy. My kids like it. I serve with bread and some vegetable.

Thanks so much for sharing, Jen! Here's a photo of her with Miss L when Linds was born.
If anyone else has a recipe they'd like to share and guest blog on Dining with the Rissers, please let me know!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Apr. 19 - Chicken roll-ups

Finally went grocery shopping again!! It's been since March 24?!? I loooove how I can stretch out "major grocery shopping" trips to once a month. This stockpiling this is GREAT, though we still run weekly for fresh fruits and veggies (and sometimes milk, although no one drinks it in the house...just used for cooking, cereal, etc.).

Since we have food again, I decided to cook up a "meat and potatoes" dinner. I made these creamy stuffed chicken roll-ups, roasted garlic red potatoes and asparagus. It turned out really deliciously! Everyone scarfed down the potatoes (they're a huge hit in our house), the asparagus was enjoyed by all (even Linds ate two full spears), and the chicken turned out well. It was a tasty meal! The asparagus was easy - just drizzled olive oil and salt and pepper over top and seared on the stove. Here are the other two recipes.

Creamy Stuffed Chicken Roll-ups
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened (I used fat-free)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays - yum!)
3 Tbsp. apricot preserves (can't even taste it in this recipe)
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
4 slices bacon, cooked, chopped

  1. Heat oven to 375ºF. 
  2. Pound chicken to 1/4-inch thickness; place, top-sides down, on work surface. Mix cream cheese, onions, parsley and garlic; spread down centers of chicken breasts. Roll up, starting at one short end of each. Place, seam-sides down, in single layer in shallow pan. 
  3. Mix barbecue sauce, preserves and hot pepper sauce; brush 1/4 cup evenly onto chicken. 
  4. Bake 35 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF), brushing with remaining barbecue sauce mixture the last 5 min. 
  5. Top with bacon.

Roasted Garlic Red Potatoes
2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup butter, melted (I used low-fat)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Place potatoes in an 8x8 inch baking dish. 
  3. In a small bowl combine melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice; pour over potatoes and stir to coat. 
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes. Bake in preheated oven for at least 60 minutes (often a little longer).

The prep time on this stuff wasn't too bad - only about 20 minutes for both, but the cook time is what kills it. Definitely give yourself about 90 minutes prior to dinner for the potatoes (they are so worth it!), and then make the chicken while your potatoes are cooking already. If your potatoes still aren't done by dinner time, just nuke 'em for a few minutes in the microwave. They still taste good and it shortens the cook time. Enjoy!

Apr. 18 - Pizza & Gardening

We started our garden! One of the veggies I wanted to try was lettuce, and since it loves the cold weather, we planted early. We just tossed seeds in the ground (nothing pre-planted indoors), so we'll see if this works out?! When Scott started preparing the area, he claimed there were a million spiders throughout the mulch and dirt that was already there, but by the time I got out there, I saw nothing. A few "experts" told me that the bugs were okay, and since we're trying to go organic in there, I didn't want to put anything into the ground that was harmful. I took a photo of Scott raking the soil - it's my first picture of the garden!
When we were done, I was going to make shrimp stir-fry, but the boy was in the mood for pizza, so pizza it was! We got Dominos, which we are totally diggin since they redid their recipe. I got my usual - spinach and feta with the white sauce on thin crust; the boy got sausage and extra cheese on his hand-tossed crust. We also got an order of their buffalo chicken kickers - not too bad...nothing extraordinary, but it tasted good!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Apr. 17 - Big lunch & snacks

Linds was feeling better, so we had a "ladies day" and spent the morning and afternoon at the mall! I realized I had almost nothing that fit for this summer (seeing as I spent last summer in that awkward, post-partum size). Lindsay's idol My friend Sarah and her son, Christian (haha - yes, my daughter worships this woman!) joined us for our excursion and we all shopped 'til we dropped. Mid-way through we grabbed lunch at the Winner's Circle Sports Grille and split a BBQ chicken salad and buffalo chicken wrap with Anna Kournikova sauce (super hot sauce - yum!). It was a fab meal and was the perfect break from our shopping. Since we didn't finish up until 2 p.m. or so, I wasn't too hungry for dinner, and the boy went out with some old high school friends tonight, so he really didn't need to eat either. My food supply is dipping dangerously low, though...looks like I might have a Wegmans trip in my near future!

Apr. 16 - Sausage & Pierogies

Poor Linds was sick AGAIN on Friday, so I spent my day taking care of her and trying to keep the baby entertained. It was a rather exhausting day, so by the time dinner rolled around, I was uninspired. I had another grilled beef sausage in the fridge and another box of pierogies in the freezer, so I sliced up some onion and green pepper and fried the pierogies up with those. I felt empowered after my successful grilling experience on Thursday, so I decided to grill up the smoked sausage instead of pan-frying. It was another hit (I'm really beginning to dig this grilling thing!), and dinner was delicious.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Apr. 15 - Grilled Chicken Salads

I DID IT!!! I learned how to grill!!! So, there really wasn't much "learning" involved - but, damn it, I figured it out. I'm pretty proud of myself! It might not be a big deal to some, but it's one new thing I can add to my cooking repertoire that I hadn't been able to do before.

I used one of the marinades I got during yesterday's fabulous grocery buy (89 cents, originally $2.79!) and had the chicken marinating all day. I fired up the grill and voila - grilled chicken!
Surprisingly enough, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I had anticipated! I served it over lettuce and cheese (our salad fixins were a little slim) and with some of the leftover sweet potato cornbread from the other night.
Ooooh - and before I forget! I put Marie Calendar's bleu cheese vinaigrette dressing on mine. If you've never tried it and like bleu cheese, you absolutely MUST give this one a try. Absolutely delicious. Now, it's off to mom's night out - WAHOO!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tax Day Free Food!

Holy crap, there is a TON of free and/or cheap food out there on Tax Day (that's tomorrow)!! Check out these deals:

  • Cinnabon: 2 free cupcake bites from 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Starbucks: free brewed coffee if you bring in your own reusable mug (all day)
  • Maggie Moos: free ice cream pizza (at select locations - click link to see if yours is on there; unfortunately, the closest for us is in Lancaster)
  • Chick-fil-A: there are a variety of offers, depending on which restaurant you go to (in my area, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. the Downingtown location is offering a free chicken sandwich; in Lionville, they are giving away free sandwiches from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m.)
  • McDonald's: this is restaurant-specific, and I'm not sure what our local McD's is offering, but some are doing a B1G1 Quarter-Pounder or Big Mac for 1 penny
  • P.F. Chang's: 15% off your bill
  • Subway: free cookie for all customers
Enjoy all this awesome FREE food!

Jello Shots!

Tomorrow is Mom's Night Out (wahoooooo!), and I signed up to bring a bottle of wine. Well, I started thinking about it and figured that there will be plenty of beer and wine to partake in, why not do something unique?! So, I decided to make Jello shots! And these are no ordinary Jello shots...

The first set I made were pretty basic - raspberry gelatin and Stoli Razberi (raspberry flavored vodka). The recipe is simple - substitute 1/2 the water for vodka - although it may have a few extra splashes of vodka since I'm not one to skimp on the fun!

The second kind I made were Captain-n-Coke shots. Instead of using water, I boiled Coke Zero (1 cup), dissolved cherry gelatin in it, then mixed in some Captain (1 cup). Well, okay, it's Admiral Nelson. The cheaper knock-off (BUT, to my defense, it has a higher amount of alcohol). I did try reaching for the boy's Private Stock, but was given a stern look and knew better than to even think about it.

The last kind is the one I'm most hopeful about. They're margarita Jello shots! As many of you know, during the summertime, margaritas are my drink of choice (and I'm not one to turn them down the rest of the year either, just so you know). I was going to do lime Jello (or even the margarita-flavored Jello) and tequila, but seriously, that's a cop out. A margarita is a sophisticated drink with many components - each which should be celebrated and enjoyed even in shot form. I used a recipe I found online (had to halve it though because I only had 3 oz. of Jello) and want to give them a shoutout - This guy doesn't know me, but dude has a great recipe and deserves some love for sharing it with me! PS: read his directions. Seriously, I was dying the entire time. Out of respect for his content, I'm not going to lift it; instead, visit his blog and try out his recipe. I don't think you'll regret it!

Can't wait to see how these turn out tomorrow!

Apr. 14 - Spaghetti

The boy didn't get home until after 7 p.m., the kids desperately needed baths, and some of the mamas were over at my place hanging out until almost 6 p.m., so the chicken, potatoes and veggies I was going to make just flew out the window. Instead, I made spaghetti and jarred sauce - nothing fancy or special, so I'm not going to waste room with a lengthier post. Rather, look for my post about all the Jello shots I made for tomorrow night's Mom's Night Out! Woot!

Deals of the Day - 4/14

I went to Giant today because I wanted to pick up some cheap shredded cheese and bathroom cleanser (some combo, huh?)...and I came across some other great deals! I managed to save 45% of what I would have spent if not for coupons!

I picked up:
  • 6 jars Gerber stage 3 food (B5G1 free + 75 cent coupon = $2.55)
  • 6 packs (12 cartons) Gerber stage 2 food (B5G1 free + 75 cent coupon = $4.50)
  • 2 bottles Ken's marinade (B1G1 free + $1 off = $1.79 for both)
  • 4 boxes Barilla whole wheat pasta ($1/box - (2) $1/2 boxes coupons = $2 for 4 boxes)
  • 2 bottles Franks Hot Sauce (79 cents/bottle - $1 off 2 = 58 cents)
  • 2 bottles Comet Cleanser (2 for $3 - $1/2 bottles = $2)
  • 2 packages Sargento cheese (2 for $4 - $1/2 packages = $3)
  • 3 boxes of gelatin + dixie cups (jello shots for Moms Night Out = $3.31
After tax, it came to $19.95. Originally, it would have been $35.93! Another great purchase!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Food Freebies!

There are some great food freebies out there that I thought I'd share with you! Enjoy :)

Free box or cup of Kraft macaroni and cheese - all you need to do is add Kraft as your friend on Facebook!

Coupon for a free YoPlus yogurt sample - requires sign up for Betty Crocker newsletter

Free Special K protein bar - plus a coupon for $1 off Special K protein shake!

And even though this isn't food, I thought it was too good to pass up - 10 free OPK (ovulation prediction kits) or 10 free pregnancy tests! There's no gimmick to it - everything is absolutely free.

Apr. 13 - Ribs & Corn Bread

The ribs I made a month or two ago were such a hit that I decided to make them again tonight. I didn't want to make a dish that required silverware since we were all messy last time we ate them, so instead, I made some sweet potato cornbread. I absolutely love this recipe!

I bought one of those "sneaky veggie" cookbooks, trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diets, and so far the only dish I've made is this cornbread. It's a lot moister than regular cornbread because of the sweet potatoes, but they add Vitamins A and E, beta carotene, potassium, calcium and folate - nutrients that are very important for kids and grown-ups alike!

The one thing it calls for that I never have on hand is buttermilk, so instead of buying it and trying to use it before it expires, I make my own. No, no, no - I don't actually "make" it...I use a substitute. Take a liquid measuring cup, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and then add milk until the mixture reaches the amount called for (i.e. in this recipe, I used 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup, 15 tablespoons of milk). Let it sit for 5 minutes and voila! You have buttermilk's substitute.

Enjoy these recipes - these are both delicious and are highly recommended!

Slow Cooker Ribs
4 lbs. pork baby back ribs
salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder to taste
2 cups Cattleman barbecue sauce
1 cup ketchup (only Heinz in this household!)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 dash of hot sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Season ribs with salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder. Place in a shallow baking pan. Brown in oven 15 minutes. Turn over, and brown another 15 minutes; drain fat.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Place ribs in slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs, and turn to coat.
  4. Cover, and cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or until ribs are tender.
  5. About 30 minutes before serving, place back in baking pan at 400 degrees F and the sauce will caramelize to the meat.

Sweet Potato Corn Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vinegar + 15 T milk
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a 9x9 baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, sweet potato and softened butter.
  4. Fold liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir until just well blended.
  5. Pour into baking dish and bake 20 minutes, or until the center springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Apr. 12 - Corn Chowder & Bread

There was a bit of a dichotomy in tonight's dinner - half was really, really successful, while the other was a food FAIL. In the end, it wasn't too big of a deal, but still, I hate when my dishes get screwed up!

The success was the corn chowder - it was creamier and tasted a lot better than how I remembered it. I didn't have green pepper, so I used red pepper, and I amped up the amount of veggies to make it heartier. The entire pot is roughly 825 calories, and the boy and I each ate about 1/3 (Linds ate half of the rest and I put the other half in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch). Even with the extra ingredients and larger serving size, it was still about 275 calories for the entire bowl.
The fail? Well, that would be my beer-cheese bread. I was pumped about that one because it was so great last time, but I knew even while it was baking that something was wrong. The top of the loaf never rose - it was kind of sunken in. When I took it out, there was about 1/2 - 1 cup of the flour loose on the bottom. For some reason it never fully mixed. I need to troubleshoot and see what went wrong because every so often that happens when I make bread. Also, the mixer knob thing was stuck in the bread (that happens every time I make bread, too). The bread was too doughy and moist and tasted way too strongly of beer (you'd think that I would have liked that, huh?!). Oh, well, saves the calories, right?
I also decided to get fancy and made dessert for Miss L and me. I found blackberry gelatin when I was grocery shopping last time, so I made some of that and topped it with light Cool Whip. Another low-cal, yet delicious, complement to the meal!

Corn Chowder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 small finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
2 medium potatoes peeled, diced, into 1/2" cubes
1 cup water 1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups low-fat (1%) or skim milk

  1.  Heat oil in medium saucepan. 
  2. Add celery, onion, and red pepper and saute for 2 minutes. 
  3. Add corn, potatoes, water, salt, pepper, and paprika. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium; and cook, covered, about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 
  4. Place 1/2 cup milk in a jar with tight fitting lid. Add flour and shake vigorously. Add gradually to cooked vegetables and add remaining milk. 
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
Beer Cheese Bread
1 package yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter
10 ounces beer, flat
4 ounces extra sharp cheese, shredded
4 ounces Jack cheese, cut in 1/4" cubes

  1. Warm beer and American cheese over low heat on top of stove or in microwave. Cheese doesn't need to melt completely. Stir. 
  2. Add all ingredients in the order listed. 
  3. Use basic bread cycle for 1.5 lb. loaf.

Want to make $100?

DirecTV is offering a $100 account credit to anyone who refers new customers to them, as well as $100 to the new customer! You can't beat a deal like that. We've been DirecTV subscribers since August 2006 and love, love, love the service! We get the NFL Sunday Ticket and Red Zone package every year so we can watch every single football game played during the season. And now that Comcast SportsNet is on the lineup, we no longer have to miss a bunch of the Phillies games. Yay!

If you're interested in switching to DirecTV, let me know - I'll save you $100 and make some money in the deal :-) Their installation is free and quick (at least in my experience). You do need to call a special 1-800 number and need my account number, so leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail if you are interested!

Coupon alert! 4/12

For those of you who subscribe to Parents magazine, there are a few great coupons in there!

First, there's $3 off Pampers diapers at CVS. There was also a $1 off manufacturer's coupon in the paper a week or two ago that you can use with it. That's a total of $4 off! Get to CVS by Saturday and you can pick up a jumbo pack of diapers that are on sale pre-coupons for $8.49. A pack of 35 size-3 diapers is less than 13 cents/diaper! That's a big savings from regularly priced 34 cent diapers.

There's also a coupon for $1 off Ronzoni Smart Source pasta (which even the boy agrees that it tastes no different than regular pasta, but is fortified with lots of calcium and fiber). Wegmans has been having a sale with boxes priced at $1 (which would make it free!), but according to their website, it's currently $1.29. Even still - 29 cent pasta is a GREAT buy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Freebies of the day! 4/11

I found a few great kids-related freebies that I wanted to share with everyone!

First, here's one for a free Juicy Juice cup.

Second, here's one for a free potty training DVD from Pull-Ups.

Last, here's one for a free sample of Baby Barn body and hair wash, as well as lotion. They will send you a confirmation e-mail after you apply, so make sure to check your inbox!

Enjoy your freebies!!

Apr. 11 - Late Lunch & Snacks

We had no plans for today, but haven't had a "family day" in quite some time. I try to encourage (a.k.a. force) us all to get out of the house once a month or once every other month for some quality time with each other in a different environment. One time we went down to North East, Md. and played at the beach of a state park, another time we traveled to Philadelphia to have dinner with family, another time we picked peaches and apples at an orchard - they aren't always glamorous or filled with lots of adventure, but the purpose is to reconnect with each other and create some good ol' fashioned memories!

Today, we decided to go to the Reading Phillies game (a minor league team about 45 minutes north of where we are). We piled into the car, made the trek up and with about two minutes until arrival, Linds started puking her guts out. Poor little thing had it all over herself, the car, Baby (her doll), the portable DVD player, and, of course, me. We figured it was just carsickness and tried out the game. We didn't even make it 20 minutes before she threw up in Scott's hands, and then mine, and then again inside the car on the drive home. By the time we got back, it was 2:00, no one had eaten lunch and poor Miss L needed a bath, a barf bucket and a bed.

We haven't had dinner yet, and likely won't, so I may snack on some cheese and crackers. Poor Linds, though - she was a real trooper. This is the only photo I got at the game.

Apr. 10 - Pizza

I needed to run some errands yesterday and was feeling particularly lazy after I finished up, so we ordered pizza. We got two mediums from Joey's in Thorndale (one half-cheese/half-sausage and a white with broccoli). I always make this mistake there, going for two mediums, but for some reason their pizza is one of those kinds that just doesn't fill you up. I swear I ate 3/4 of the thing and still had room. It sure tasted good, though!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wegmans Savings - 4/9

I missed out on a killer deal on Huggies diapers at CVS the week before last, and was totally bummed that I missed it. I had printed four $3 off coupons and was ready to get jumbo packs of diapers for the equivalent of $3.50! What a find!

So, Friday morning, I'm surfing the internet, looking for sales at the local grocery stores to see what kind of good buys are out there. I started looking up diaper prices at a few places and popped onto Wegmans' website. Lo and behold, there are jumbo packs of diapers advertised for $3.26?!? I did a double take, not believing it. They were on size 6 diapers (Linds still uses size 5 at night, although she's on the cusp of size 6), so even though they weren't exactly what we currently use, they were already cheaper than the CVS buy AND I could use my coupon!

In the end, I got 26 diapers for a mere 26 cents. Seriously, you can't beat that deal - that's practically FREE diapers! Originally priced at $8.99, that's a savings of more than 97%. Thank you, Wegmans!

CVS Savings - 4/8

CVS is always a GREAT place to get deals if you have an ExtraCare card and clip coupons. There are many times when I walk away with deals I can't possibly imagine! Thursday's trip was definitely one of them.

First, when you go to CVS, you need to start off by scanning your ExtraCare card at their price scanner kiosk. It'll spit out a whole bunch of coupons for the store that you can combine with manufacturers' coupons. When I scanned mine I got $3 off any purchase.

Then, armed with their circular and my coupon book, I went to town. Here's what I got:
  • Head & Shoulders 14.2 oz. bottle of 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner: originally $5.99, on sale for $4.99 + $1 extra buck reward, making it $3.99; I also had a BOGO free manufacturer's coupon, so I got two bottles.
  • Clairol Natural Instincts: originally $9.49, on sale for $5.99 + $2 extra buck rewards, making it $3.99; I also had a coupon for $3 off.
  • Pantene 12.6 oz. bottle of shampoo: originally $4.99, on sale for $2.99 + $1 extra buck reward, making it $1.99; I also used a coupon for $1 off any 2 Pantene shampoos.
  • Pantene 6.5 oz. root-lift style product: originally $4.99, on sale for $2.99 + $1 extra buck reward, making it $1.99; I also used a coupon for $1 off.
  • Disney Princess vitamins: $7.49, on sale BOGO free; I also had a $1 off coupon.
  • Downy fabric softener: originally $5.49, on sale for $3.99; I also used a $1 off coupon.
Now, in order to take full advantage of my extra reward bucks, I split my trip into two purchases. Don't forget, I also used that $3 off coupon I printed out when I first arrived. When it was all said and done, the total should have been $56.91. After coupons, extra reward bucks, sales, etc., I only paid...
That is a savings of almost 75%! These deals are good through today (Saturday, 4/10), so if you're near a CVS and have some coupons (or even just the need for some cheap products), I highly recommend it! Just buy your products with extracare rewards in your first purchase and then use your extra bucks toward the rest of your non-reward products in the second check out. Here's my stash!

Acme Savings - 4/10

My first exciting buy this week was on Thursday - Acme was having a sale buy one, get one (BOGO) free sale on McCormick pure vanilla extract. Since I've been baking more, I've been going through it like crazy! I used a 75 cent coupon on top of that (which doubled since Acme doubles coupons up to 99 cents), so instead of paying $17.98 for two bottles ($8.99/bottle), I paid $7.49 ($8.99-$1.50). That's a savings of damn near 60% off! On top of that, I got a coupon for $1.50 off a future purchase, so in reality, I really only paid $5.99 (67% savings). Nice, huh?

My blog is growing!

Well, I've been going back and forth, trying to decide if it's worth talking about my obsession with stockpiling cheap and/or free household goods and food. The boy has made über amounts jokes at my expense about my newfound hobby, but I am seriously obsessed with all of my savings lately! I know saving money is not directly related to recipes and eating, but they are connected in a roundabout way. I'm always looking for someone who will listen to me ramble about what deals I've come across, and now I don't have to anymore - I know you guys will ;-)

Apr. 9 - Buffalo Wings

I found a recipe that claimed to have Hooters-style wings, so I decided to give it a whirl...I was going to serve them to the boy after the kids went to bed in a tight white tee shirt and my best pull-up bra on just to make it more authentic, you know? But, alas, even the best push-up bra would NOT make me look like a Hooters girl. Maybe I should take some tips from my former-Hooters friend....oh, c'mon - you think I'm going to divulge her name on here?! She doesn't have to worry - her secret is safe with me!

But, back to the actual food! The wings turned out pretty well - I could have used more sauce, though, which I didn't realize until after they finished cooking. I also didn't fry them, which is supposed to be what makes them truly authentic, but they were still pretty crispy baked. Not the best wings I've ever had, but I think they could have been had they been fried. Next time, I'll screw the health-consciousness in me!

Buffalo Chicken Wings
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 dash ground black pepper
1 dash garlic powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 chicken wings

  1. Combine the butter, hot sauce, pepper and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir together and heat until butter is melted and mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and reserve for serving. 
  2. In a Ziploc bag, combine the flour, paprika and salt. Place chicken wings inside and shake to coat. Refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes. (VERY important!) 
  3. Place wings on baking sheets sprinkled with a little more flour and sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes turning once. Cover with hot sauce and bake at 300 for 15 minutes.
  4. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Apr. 8 - Hot dogs & Mac-n-cheese

We wound up having visitors until late afternoon yesterday, so the hot wings I was planning to make got bumped to Friday's menu. Instead, I realized at 5:30 p.m. that I had nothing defrosted and had to figure out something quickly. I found two hot dogs in the freezer, called the boy up and asked him if he wanted me to grill those up. He said he'd rather eat them cut up in his Kraft macaroni and cheese...throwin it back to food we ate when we were kids!

By the time I started making the mac-n-cheese, it was after 7:00 and I opened up my milk. Food Fail. It was spoiled. Gah! Linds hates the stuff and Luke still nurses, so they don't drink it. The boy and I also do not have a taste for it (yuck!). I ended up having to run to three different neighbors' houses until I found someone home to give me a quarter-cup. After I came home, Luke was screaming, so the boy finished dinner, and I put Luke to sleep. After that was done, Linds needed to be put to bed, so there she went. By the time I was done, it was after 8:00, so I ate the rest of a turkey hoagie (thank you, Christy!) and leftover artichoke dip with veggies (thank you, Sarah!).
LOL - not the most glamorous of meals, but it sure tasted good!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Apr. 7 - Smoked Sausage & Pierogies

I'm not sure how mainstream pierogies are...having both parents born and raised in western Pennsylvania, they were a common side dish in our house. In fact, I remember being in elementary school, hanging out with my mom before she left for class (she took classes at night to get her teaching certificate), and instead of having dinner, she'd just boil a few pierogies and eat those. The boy, however, never even heard of one before he met me. His family, though, is entirely concentrated in the central/southeastern PA region, so maybe it really is a geographic thing?

If you've never had a pierogie, you MUST! They are delicious semi-circular dumplings stuffed with a variety of different possible ingredients. The more traditional kinds have cheese and potato, although I've had some stuffed with broccoli, cheese and potato, and some with spinach and feta (yummm!). I admit, I only eat the frozen kind, although I think I'd love to give making them a shot - I know some people that make them often.

You can make them a bunch of different ways...boil them, deep-fry, bake...but my favorite way to eat them is pan-fried. When I make them, I usually slice up the pepper and onion length-wise, toss in a little EVOO and pan-fry over medium heat. I also add cut-up smoked sausage (I prefer Hilshire's light kielbasa, but Wegmans was out, so we ended up with plain smoked sausage; the Jennie-O brand is delish, too). It's a super quick and easy dinner to make, and always tastes great!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Apr. 6 - Grilled cheese & broccoli

I think I'm making it slowly back into the land of the living, so I decided to give dinner a whirl. I figured a grilled cheese would probably be safe, so I split one with Luke (who not only gobbled up his half, but also a bowl full of tomato soup!). I didn't do any soup...not sure how the acidity of the tomatoes would work on my tummy...but I also made broccoli. I found a really delish recipe and thought I'd try that. I definitely recommend it - I often get a little tired of plain veggies and enjoy giving them a shot of flavor (with soy sauce, no less...I think it's my new favorite condiment).

Broccoli with Garlic Butter
1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped salted cashews

  1. Place the broccoli into a large pot with about 1 inch of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes, or until tender but still crisp. Drain, and arrange broccoli on a serving platter.
  2. While the broccoli is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and garlic. 
  3. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. 
  4. Mix in the cashews, and pour the sauce over the broccoli. Serve immediately.

Apr. 5 - NOTHING!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was a mess yesterday - I couldn't eat a single thing for fear it would all come back up again. Good news? I kick-started the diet again! Haha - at least I'm feeling better today.

Apr. 4 - Crab cakes, shrimp & mac-n-cheese

Happy belated Easter! It's taken me awhile to update the blog because I have been SUPER sick :( I started off Monday around 5:30 a.m. and didn't stop vomiting for 12 hours. I thought it was a stomach bug, but the boy came home around 6:30 that night and started feeling sick - he wasn't even around me long enough to catch a bug, so we're thinking we may have had food poisoning.

Anyhoo, on Easter we celebrated with my family, and my mama cooked crab cakes, grilled marinated shrimp, and macaroni and cheese. As always, it tasted fabulous! There's something about your mom's cooking that just always tastes good, don't you think? The crab cake recipe is the same as the one posted here. The marinated shrimp recipe is definitely worth trying!

Garlic & Herb Shrimp
2 teaspoons ground paprika
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. Whisk the paprika, garlic, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper, basil, and brown sugar in a bowl until thoroughly blended.
  2. Stir in shrimp and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, turning once.
  3. Pan-fry or grill shrimp, draining and discarding excess marinade.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Apr. 3 - Crab Legs

Since Miss Linds is spending the weekend with Memma & Poppie, the boy and I figured we should make the crab legs so that we didn't have to share them with her - ha! Armed with about 4.5 lbs. worth of crab legs and instructions from Sarah as to how to make them, we made our first batch of crab legs at home ever. The boy wound up making them for the most part (Luke needed a bath after he projectile vomited his carrots from dinner - my fault for drinking a chocolate/peanut butter milkshake last night and then nursing throughout the day)...and they were great!

We had king crab legs, which were "spiney" and hurt my fingers like hell trying to get them opened (if I missed an easy way to avoid that, let me know - my fingers are still sore as I type), but they tasted so delicious. The only issue I had was that the shell was a bit rubbery...can't figure out if it was because they were overcooked, undercooked, refrigerated and then frozen, or what. It wasn't a big issue - we got the meat out, and that's all that mattered!
And what makes this occasion even more exciting is that I got to purchase my very first stock pot to cook them in! I also bought a nutcracker set, which I hadn't had before. New kitchen toys - yay! They were super easy to make - we boiled the water and a bottle of beer mixed together, tossed in the crab legs, and cooked them for 15 minutes. I recommend giving them a shot if you like crab meat!

Apr. 2 - Hersheypark!!

Friday was Hersheypark day!! Linds, Luke and I went with my little brother (Zach) and his girlfriend (Rachel). They were awesome sports - chasing after the kids all day, squeezing onto the itty bitty kiddie rides, putting up with the crazy crowds... and seemingly loved it all?! My kids ARE darling, but after an entire day of them, I can understand wanting to run the opposite direction - but not Uncle Zach & Aunt Rachel!

We ate at the park since we were there from 1 - 9 p.m. We debated what to eat and decided on good ol' Minetown Vittles - the ONLY place in the park where you can not only get a burger and fries, but also an ice cold beer. Rachel and Linds split a personal pizza, Zach and I each ate a bacon cheeseburger and Landsharks, and Luke ate a few of the french fries that the rest of us shared. We had such a fantastic time...I absolutely love spending time with my little brother and his girlfriend...and watching the kids' have a blast on the rides was priceless. I always laughed at my mom for saying her favorite part of a trip to Hersheypark was seeing us have fun, but now I know EXACTLY what she meant. I guess that makes me a true mom!

Apr. 1 - Burgers, Macaroni Salad & Beans

The kiddos and I planned to go to Hersheypark on Friday, so we decided to head up to my parents' house Thursday night and spend the night so we could sleep in a little since they're closer. Mom had been in Exton visiting my sister last weekend and picked up some of their AMAZING bleu cheese burgers (YUM!), so she grilled those up for my brother, dad and the two of us, with some Nathan's hot dogs for the kids. She also had some baked beans and this scrumptious macaroni salad that she makes. It's very reminiscent of my Nana's macaroni salad, which, sadly, no one was ever able to get out of her before she passed away.

Creamy Macaroni Salad
1 lb.elbow macaroni
3 or 4 stalks of celery
1 or 2 small carrots
4 hard boiled eggs
1 small onion
2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vinegar

  1. Chop celery and onion and eggs; grate and chop carrots. Set aside.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions.
  3. Combine mayonnaise and sugar. Beat well. Add vinegar.
  4. Add hot drained macaroni and all other ingredients. 
  5. Chill overnight. 
 With this one, it's very important to make sure the macaroni is added while hot. It will also be runny when first combined. After it sets overnight, however, it will be thick and creamy. Enjoy!
Related Posts with Thumbnails