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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

10 GTG Points

Pampers released more bonus codes!
  • GIVETHANKS10PTS - 10 points

If you haven't signed up for Pampers Gifts to Grow program, click the image below. Even if you don't buy Pampers, you can collect enough "free points" for all sorts of cool rewards. Plus, you're automatically signed up to win free diapers for an entire year!

If you've signed up, check HERE to see if you are up-to-date with all of the free codes!

PS: If you have some points you need to spend, there are tons for free holiday photo cards, calendars, etc. from that you can redeem your GTG points for! Happy shopping!

November 28 - Salsa Pasta

I had 3/4 lb of ground beef in the fridge that I had to use and needed a quick lunch, so I threw together some salsa pasta this morning. It's not my favorite recipe - in fact, it's pretty reminiscent of all of those Hamburger Helper dinners the boy and I ate when I was in college...blech!! - but, it's easy, quick and everyone seems to eat it with little complaint.

Salsa Pasta
1 small onion, diced
3/4 lb. ground beef
2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup water
2 cup elbow mac.(I ran out so I used some farfalle.)
10.5 oz. condensed cheese soup
1 cup salsa

  1. Sauté onions and beef. Drain fat. 
  2. Add broth and water to meat. Bring to boil. 
  3. Add mac, cover and stir, cook over medium heat for 10 min. 
  4. Stir in soup and salsa. Heat to serving temperature.

Let's try this mac & cheese?!

I haven't made this kind in a long time, but it's one of the better versions (albeit MUCH higher in calories). It's also a lot creamier than the other kind I just made...guess I should have gone with this instead of the "crunchy kind." Tee hee!

Thanks to Sarah for this recipe :)

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Cottage Cheese (Not Lowfat)
2 Cups Milk (Not Skim)
1 tsp dry mustard
Pinch Cayenne
Pinch Nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra sharp cheddar, shredded or grated
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, UNCOOKED

  1. Heat oven to 375F and position rack in upper third of oven. Use 1 tsp butter to butter a 9 inch round or square baking pan.
  2. In a blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, pepper, nutmeg, and salt together.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup shredded cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining shredded cheese, milk mixture, and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.
  5. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more until browned. Cool 15 minutes prior to serving.

November 26 - Mac & Cheese

My niece came over on Friday for a night of girly fun and a sleepover with Linds and me (yeah, the boys were here, too, but we didn't pay much attention to them!). It was so much fun painting nails, doing hair, picking out outfits, and watching movies with the two of them. I figured I'd make some mac & cheese for dinner since every kid in the world seems to like that, right? Wrong!

Instead of just throwing a box of Kraft on the stove, I actually grated cheese and made my own - it's way better than the box stuff in my opinion. Wouldn't you know ALL THREE KIDS turned their nose up at it?! Caroline said it was "too crunchy" and Linds followed suit. To their defense, it was oven-baked, so it wasn't super creamy which I guess kids prefer. But to make it worse, the boy ate it and said, "well, it's okay - but definitely not your best." Yeesh - thanks. I'll post the recipe still because I'm pretty sure the boy's issue was with the kinds of cheese I used (too much Swiss).

Macaroni & Cheese
1 box of elbow macaroni
2 eggs
6 cups mixed cheese
1 cup of milk

  1. Cook pasta and drain.
  2. Mix eggs, milk and cheese.
  3. Add pasta to cheese mixture.
  4. Bake 45 minutes at 350.
Didn't get a photo of the food, but here are Miss L and Caroline having a blast together!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Sweet Tree Christmas
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pampers Gifts to Grow Codes

Pampers released more bonus codes!
  • PAMPERS4MOMSOND - 10 points
  • PAMPERSGTG10PTS - 10 points
  • 10PTSFREECODE4U - 10 points
  • NOVEMBERTHANKS5 - 5 points

If you haven't signed up for Pampers Gifts to Grow program, click the image below. Even if you don't buy Pampers, you can collect enough "free points" for all sorts of cool rewards. Plus, you're automatically signed up to win free diapers for an entire year!

If you've signed up, check HERE to see if you are up-to-date with all of the free codes!

PS: If you have some points you need to spend, there are tons for free holiday photo cards, calendars, etc. from that you can redeem your GTG points for! Happy shopping!

80% off at

The 80% discount is running at again through Thursday! I've seen a few new restaurants added in our area, so if you haven't checked it out recently, go do it. These make great stocking stuffers :) Just click the link above or the ad below and remember to use the code GOBBLE at checkout. Weekly Promo Offer 160 X 160

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 18 - Chicken & Dumplings

I actually cooked "real food" twice last week, so as much of a funk as I'm in, we're at least getting *something* decent to eat here and there?! I made slow cooker chicken & dumplings on Thursday last week and Lindsay, Luke AND Scott all enjoyed it - I swear, it was a small miracle. I've made it before, but I couldn't remember how it was received...I was definitely tempting fate, but it was worth it.

Chicken & Dumplings
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, finely diced
1 (10 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces
1 can mixed veggies
1 can chicken broth

  1. Place the chicken, butter, soups, veggies and onion in a slow cooker. (It will look VERY liquidy, but that's what you want.)
  2. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High or 10 hours on Low. 
  3. About 3 hours before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center. (You can also do this as close to an hour before serving.)
I forgot to take a picture, but I have this leftover one from earlier this year, which will give you the general idea :)

In a funk

I feel like I'm in a cooking funk. Lately, I just feel wholly uninspired to create a nice big meal, sit down as a family and enjoy it like I usually do. I have no idea what it is - maybe it was the end of daylight savings time which makes it dark before 5? Or perhaps it's the fact that Luke's hitting that picky stage where he either refuses to eat it altogether, or he chews it up and then spits it out (which has subsequently given Linds the idea that she can refuse the food, too)? Or it could be because the boy hasn't come home from work until 7:00 every night for the past two or three weeks? This means the kids eat at 5:30 and I snack throughout the afternoon so I can wait until 7:30 to have dinner with him (and let me tell you - that hasn't been kind to my whole "getting in shape/losing the last 5 lbs of pregnancy weight" endeavor - grrrrrr). Who knows? It could be sheer laziness, too! All I know is that we're living off of take-out, prepared foods (chicken nuggets, those Barber's stuffed chicken breasts, Kraft mac-n-cheese, pastas, etc.), and PB&Js (well, AB&Js for Luke!). Hopefully this funk ends soon because I do miss eating good, homemade food...I guess I just want someone else to make it for me?!?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Half off Nordstrom Rack coupon!

What an amazing deal...especially with Black Friday coming up!

Right now, Groupon is offering $25 off $50 worth of merchandise at Nordstrom Rack. It's good through December 31, 2010, so even if you can't make it on Black Friday, it's ideal for Christmas gifts. Check it out here! You may have to set your city to Philadelphia in order to see it. Happy shopping!! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free Samples!

These samples are entirely free - just enter your shipping info to take advantage!

Avery® White Shipping Labels with Trueblock Technology
Pampers® Potty Training Kit
Tarina Tarantion sample from Sephora
Stayfree Thermo Care
U by Kotex

Coupons, coupons, coupons!!

*TONS* of great coupons! Just click the links to print them out.

Save $0.75 on any TWO (2) packages of Hillshire Farm® Lit’l Smokies®

SAVE $1.00 when you purchase any THREE packages of Kellogg’s® Cereals (10 oz. or Larger, Any Flavor, Mix or Match)

SAVE $1.00 on ANY L’Oréal Facial Cleanser

SAVE $2.00 on ANY 1 L’Oréal Cosmetic Face Product

SAVE $1.50 when you purchase any THREE packages of Kellogg’s® Apple Jacks®, Corn Pops®, Froot Loops® and/or Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® Cereals (8.7 oz. or Larger, Any Flavor, Mix or Match)

SAVE $2.00 On any Excellence or Excellence to-Go shade.

SAVE $0.50 on any flavor of Stash Tea

Save $0.35 on any ONE (1) package of Hillshire Farm® Deli Select® Lunchmeat (8 oz. or larger)

SAVE $1 on TWO (2) 2-Giant Roll or larger packages of Sparkle® Paper Towels

SAVE $1.00 On ANY Nature's Bounty® Your Life® Multi

$1.00 OFF ANY TUMS® (24 ct. or larger)

$3.00 off Pass the Popcorn!

$5.00 off on ONE (1) RREMBRANDT Kit

$1.50 off Glade Automatic Spray Refill

$2.00 off 2 Welch's Sparkling Juices

$2.00 off any NEW Expo Washable Marker product

$1.00 off Burt's Bees NEW Natural Lotion

$5.00 off Enfamil Newborn or PREMIUM Infant

$1.00 off any ONE Welch's 100% Juice 10 oz. 6-pack

$0.50 off on any ONE (1) Gorton's Item

$3.00 off Any TWO (2) HUGGIES Snug & Dry Diapers

$1.00 off TWO (2) pints of Starbucks Ice Cream

$1.00 off one (1) bottle of Pine-Sol Cleaner

Buy Two Get One FREE DOVE Chocolate Singles Bar

Buy One get One Free bag of BUTTERFINGER Snackerz

50% off Online, Animated Picture Storybook

November 16 - Crab Quiche

Today is the boy's birthday! To celebrate his 32nd, the kiddos and I made crab quiche and chocolate cupcakes with blue cream cheese icing (Linds thinks it's so cool that we can change the color of food with a few drops of food coloring lately). I had a tub of crab that I wanted to use, but wasn't in the mood to do crab cakes; when I saw this recipe, I had to give it a try. It was delicious! Unfortunately, no fun recipe for the cupcakes...thanks Betty Crocker for the help ;-) The boy really loved all of the decorations, food, and presents, so it turned out to be quite the perfect birthday celebration.

Crab Quiche
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
8 oz. crab meat
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, mayonnaise, flour, and milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in crab, cheese, and onion. Spread into pie shell.
  3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
You can use any kind of pie crust, but I *always* use the Pillsbury frozen ones...I haven't found one that any of us like better.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Family Night Out at Casa de Risser!

The day after I came home from Texas, I thought it would be fun to host a party for 50 people from our MOMS Club. Now, I'd planned it well in advance and had most stuff ready in time, but still - am I clinically insane or what?! Luckily, it was BYOB and bring food to share, so my only contribution was the chili. It was a blast hanging out with everyone, showing off the basement, and cheering on the Eagles to a victory! Here's my chili recipe and a super yummy veggie pizza recipe that I highly recommend (thanks, Laura!).

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
8 oz. jar of salsa
4 tablespoons of chili seasoning
15 oz. light red kidney beans
15 oz. dark red kidney beans

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender.
  2. Drain grease if desired (I always do).
  3. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning and beans.
  4. Mix well, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least an hour.

Veggie Pizza
2 (8oz) pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
2 (8oz) pkdgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (1oz) pkg dry ranch-style dressing mix
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Roll out the crescent roll dough onto a 9x13 inch baking sheet and pinch together edges to form the pizza crust.
  3. Bake crust for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Once finished cooking, remove crust from oven and let cool 15 mins without removing it from baking sheet.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayo and dry ranch dressing. Spread mixture over the cooled crust. Arrange broccoli, tomato, green pepper, cauliflower, carrots and cheddar cheese over the cream cheese layer. Chill for on hour, slice and serve.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vacation Story!

Well, vacation is over, and I guess it’s time to jump back into the swing of things! I’ve neglected the blog, and have so much to update on. Lots of people keep asking how vacation went, so I thought I’d write up my little vaca story and let anyone who cares to know how I spent six child-free/husband-free days read about it. And, yes, you read that correctly – six full days without my children or husband – just the grandparents and me!

I left Monday to stay with my sister in Philadelphia for the night. My flight left at 5:30 Tuesday morning and I needed to leave the car at home for transporting the kiddos around, so I decided to stay with Steph and take a cab in. To my surprise, she volunteered to get up at 3:30 in the morning to drive me to the airport. She is the smottest! ;-) We went out to dinner and I got to check out her new apartment before crashing for a few hours.

I woke up Tuesday, made it to the airport with plenty of time (security lines are empty at 4:30 a.m.) and enjoyed an absolutely uneventful first leg of the trip. I arrived in Charlotte, made it over to the next terminal and was able to walk right onto the connecting flight. By 10:30, I was back at the “pee-nano” house in Houston (it’s what Lindsay called it last year during our visit because they have a piano in their dining room that she liked to play with). That day (November 2) was All Souls Day – a holiday in the Catholic church where loved ones who’ve passed away are remembered. To honor the day, we took a trip to the cemetery where my great-great Aunt Celia was buried, as well as my great-grandfather (Leon) and a few other family members on my grandfather’s side of the family. My grandma and pop will also be buried there (hopefully not for a very, very long time!).
The rest of the evening we spent cooking dinner and chatting – and going to sleep early since I was dragging from the night before.

Wednesday was another day in Houston (and rainy for the second day in a row – I *always* bring the rain to Texas!), and I joined my grandma at the Y for a workout. She does a step and lifting class that is designed for “regular” people (not a senior-focused class) and she has been unofficially dubbed the “rock star” of the gym. When I said this, she told me she was glad she wasn’t the “Y slut” – and for those of you who know me, my personality should start to make sense! That afternoon I also had a chance to visit my great Uncle Joe, which is always something I look forward to.

The rest of the day we ran errands in preparation for our trip into Galveston, including a visit to the largest grocery store (a Kroger’s) in Houston. The rest of the day was spent like Monday night – cooking, cocktailing, and enjoying each other’s company.

We made the trek out to their beach house in Galveston on Thursday, and much to my surprise, the sun was shining and the temps went up into the low 70s!

I slept on the beach, went for a 5-mile run on the sand, and ate some of the most delicious seafood. This was truly a do-little day, and the fact that I was able to relax as much as I did, while watching the waves crash in from the Gulf was indescribably fantastic.

I woke up Friday morning and watched the sunrise before taking a walk along the water.

Later that morning, Grandma and I did a little shopping and lunched at a restaurant with a fantastic view out over the Gulf. It was great to be back on the eastern side of the Island and to see the rebirth of the city. During last year’s visit, there was still so much destruction from Ike, which was horribly sad. Things are improving now, two years later, and the Island is coming back. I lounged the rest of the day and soaked up as much beach as I could, since that was going to be it for a LONG time! We spent the evening sharing family stories and having G&Ts on the deck, snacking on cheese, crackers and olives for dinner.

Saturday I returned home, and although I hadn’t been homesick before (I felt like a bad mom, but I just didn’t have any desire to come home a second earlier than I did?!), I was ready by the time I arrived at the airport. It was great to come home and see the kids and the boy. And, as my clinical insanity has been demonstrated, spent the night and next day preparing for a family party with members of the MOMS Club – less than 24 hours upon returning home, I’d agreed to host what became 52 people in my house! It was a blast, though, and absolutely worth it.

So, now, I’m a few days removed from my vacation, and I already miss my grandparents, happy hours that started at 4:00 (with G&Ts on the deck overlooking the Gulf), naptimes, and meals cooked and served to me. But, with as much as I miss it, couldn’t be happier to be chasing after Linds and Luke again and enjoying the days with my family and friends. It’s good to be home :)
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