Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recipe alert!

Check out the cooking tab for a new recipe showcasing seasonal local fare!

One sweet golden egg!

Here's what I got: (20 lbs. sugar, 5 lbs. flour, 2 dressings, 1 BBQ sauce)

Here's what I paid: $7.12

Here's how:
1 $1 off coupon for dressing
1 $.045 off coupon for dressing
1 $0.99 off BBQ sauce w/purchase of 2 dressings coupon
*Always check the bargain bin!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crock-Pot Potatoes

I've discovered a way to have delicious baked potatoes in the summer without heating up my kitchen by using the crockpot. Here's how to obtain baked potato bliss:
1. Wash and prick potatoes
2. Wrap in foil and toss into crockpot
3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 2 1/2-4 hours.

*You can also make perfectly cooked sweet potatoes by washing them and tossing the wet potatoes into the crockpot. Cooking times are the same.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Golden Egg

My golden egg from last week's yard sales is a lovely antique bed frame that matches our daughter's for $35.00. I was interested in the frame, but the lady was selling it in a set. I asked if she'd take my name and number in case it didn't sell. I got a phone call the next day from her saying it was still for sale. The moral of the story: it never hurts to ask! Happy yard-saleing this weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Here's a tip and it's no lemon!

I have a problem with cleaning my kitchen with chemicals. The thought of using a cleaning product with "Call poison control immediately if swallowed!" written on it anywhere near my food just feels wrong. You might as well ask your dinner guests if they'd like a side of ammonia! Well if you're with me, try out this easy chemical-free method.
1. Place a bowl or mug full of water and a slice or two of lemon in your microwave.
2. Turn it on high for 2 minutes.
3. Do not open the door. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
4. Wipe clean with a wet cloth.
The steam naturally loosens the stuck-on food and the lemon helps deoderize.
*I just want you all to know that I resisted cleaning my microwave for many weeks to obtain such a dramatic before and after shot!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pit of Despair!

I don't know about yours, but my bathroom drawer tends to end up more like the pit of despair despite my constant attempts to organize it. Pawing through a jumbled heap in search of the toothpaste every morning and night is enough to drive a person crazy! As I was setting the table a few months ago, I came up with a solution: use a silverware organizer! I am proud to say that I have tested this for these past few months, and I'm very happy with the results: a neatly organized bathroom drawer!
*You can find silverware organizers at any Wal-Mart, drug store, or dollar store for around $2.50. I often see them at yard sales for much less too. The plastic kind works just as well as the wire.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This one's for the guys!

This post is in honor of my dad, who is currently overseas doing construction on an orphanage. What a great guy! The miracle you see below is his ingenious creation. My sister wanted a clothesline, but lived in a neighborhood that wouldn't allow a "permanent clothesline". So, our clever dad came up with a removable one. He made the pole out of aluminum so it's extremely lightweight- even I can pull it out and store it! (In case you're wondering, my sis had to move and I inherited the clothesline- for which I am eternally grateful!) So here's to all of you dads: happy father's day!

Using post-hole diggers, dig till' you reach the desired depth. Sink a piece of PVC pipe into the hole. Make sure it falls slightly below the ground so that when the pole it out, you can mow over it.
Drop your aluminum clothesline pole into the PVC pipe in the hole. Screw an eye bolt into each arm of the pole. Attach line to eye bolts.
Drill 2 more eye bolts into other end. The other end can be another removable pole, or the side of a deck, tree, etc. Mine is attached to our deck. Attach clips to the other ends of the line and clip onto the eye bolts that are anchored into your deck, tree, etc.
When you need the extra space for that outdoor party, or when winter rolls around, just pull the pole out and unclip the lines! *You may want to place a rock or PVC cap over the hole so that little ones don't step in it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brown Baggin' It

Everyone knows you can save money by packing lunch instead of going out. However, sometimes inspiration eludes you and going out seems like a better alternative to eating the peanut butter you've stashed in your desk. Here are a few ideas to help you kick the expensive habit of eating out for lunch:

Pack a wrap and fillings such as greek salad, chicken salad, or sandwich fixings. Top with salad dressing.
Dried or fresh fruit with cheese and crackers
Leftovers- I make an additional serving or two every night for lunch the next day.
Pasta salad
Cottage cheese w/fruit or veggies and crackers
Make a batch of soup over the weekend and freeze individually sized portions for lunches.
Bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon
Make your own trail mix with chocolate chips, peanuts, raisens, and dry cereal.
For a tasty side, pack an ear of fresh corn, shuck and all. Microwave without removing the shucks and silk for 1 1/2 minutes on high, flipping it halfway. Peel away the shucks and silk and enjoy!
Taco salad with tortilla chips
Keep a few frozen or canned "emergency" meals for when you forget to bring your lunch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Try them- you'll like them!

Well, after several attempts, I have finally come up with a whoopie pie recipe that I'm happy with! My stab at whoopie perfection was validated at a church picnic bake-off yesterday where they won first place in the cookie category! There were many worthy competitors and the margins were slim, so I won't let it go to my head. The traditional Amish recipes have a shortening-based filling and the traditional Maine whoopies have a butter-based filling. I discovered that equal amounts of both provide the best texture and flavor, and adding dutch process cocoa to the cakes in lieu of regular cocoa gave the perfect depth of chocolate flavor. I am not a proponent of recipe hoarding, or "secret family recipes" as some call them, so here is the recipe for all to see! Please ignore the fattening ingredients and just enjoy. So get out there and make some whoopie..... pies!

The cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick (1/2cup) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg

Whisk together 1st 4 ingredients til' combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on med. high speed til' pale and fluffy, about 3 min. with a stand mixer or 5min with handheld. Add egg and mix till' blended. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in floud mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture til' smooth. Spoon 1/4 cup mounds onto buttered baking sheet, about 2" apart and bake at 350* for 11-13 minutes or til' cakes spring back when touched. Cool on rack.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups marshmallow fluff
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat at med. speed with mixer til' smooth.

When cakes are cool, spread a thick layer of filling and top with another cake.
*Variations include: add peppermint extract, peanut butter, or strong coffee to filling.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Golden Egg

This week's golden egg hails from Marshall's. I found a banged-up box containing 30 sets of print-it-yourself wedding invitations, programs, and all of the little accouterments that go with them for $3.00. It may seem strange that I would buy this stuff when I'm already happily married, but with the set's classic black and white pattern, I'll be able to use it for regular mailings, party invitations, homemade cards, and scrapbooking. Not bad, considering it costs around $3.00 for just one card! Oh, and the box was the only thing that was dented- everything inside was just fine. Remember when you see a super deal on something unusual, try to think creatively about how you can use it, not the reasons that you can't.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mean Green Hand Cleanin' Goo

Hi everyone! I'm tired of paying $1for those little tiny bottles of hand sanitizer! Who's with me? I found a "recipe" for homemade "hand sani" as I call it. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and cheap it was! I made a larger sized bottle, and didn't even make a visible dent in my ingredients. I'm guessing it cost about 2-3 cents per bottle as opposed to $1 or more. Here's how you do it:

Mix equal parts of aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol (62% or higher) and add several drops of your favorite essential oil to your liking. That's it! I've chronicled my first attempt below. Please excuse my redneck label. I've never been known for my penmanship....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Fare

Things are heating up around here! We've experienced several days in the 90's and heating up my kitchen is the last thing I want to do. Thankfully Kroger heated their kitchen for me when they cooked up some rotiserrie chickens. Thanks Kroger! I've discovered that the deli reduces the prices on Sunday afternoon, so I swooped up a couple for $2.99 apiece. The chickens (or "yard birds" as my neighbor affectionately calls them), are perfect for quick summer meals since they are already cooked and seasoned. All you have to do is pick the meat off, measure, and freeze. Here are a few ways to use this humble (and tasty) barnyard beast:
  • Shred and toss into salads
  • Add to sandwiches or wraps
  • Chicken salad
  • Pizza toppings
  • Fajitas, burritos, tacos
  • Toss with pasta
  • Pot pie
  • Casseroles
  • Quesadillas
  • Stir fry
  • Skillet meals
  • Toss with BBQ sauce
Important Chicken Facts:
*Rotisserie chicken should be used within 4 days and can be frozen up to 4 months.
*Each chicken will yield about 3 1/2 cups of meat.
*You can make broth from the carcass if you're feeling extra frugal!
*Chickens are the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus-Rex

The process:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Golden Egg O' The Week

Since the weekend is fast approaching and with it comes yard sales (Yay!), I thought I'd highlight a rule of thumb that really pays off. That rule is: shop around! Just because you're at a yardsale doesn't mean you should buy something. Also, don't buy something just because it's cheap, whether you need it or not. Last Saturday, I went to some great neighborhood yard sales and there were some tempting deals. But by remembering the rule "shop around", I was able to find some amazing deals on things I actually needed. I was in the hunt for clothes last week, and I saw many clothes for $1 apiece. I was rewarded for not buying these clothes by hitting a sale where clothes were just $.25 apiece! Buying only what you need is so satisfying- especially when you hold out for the best deal!

Here's the loot from last week. Total amount spent: $8.60!

Items include: 6 shirts, 1 fleece, 1 leather purse, 1 pair pajama shorts, 1 pair capris, 2 new soaker hoses, 1 humidifier (only used once), 2 skirts, 2 hats, and one pair of kid's skis.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rebate Season is Here!

If you saw a $10 bill lying on the ground would you pick it up? That's how I look at rebate forms- why not accept some free money? Rebates are simply pieces of paper that will turn into money when I send them in! Would you believe that I've already made about $75 this year from rebates, and I didn't buy a thing I didn't need? I know, you're thinking about the agony of collecting reciepts, filling out tedious forms, and (heaven forbid) using an envelope and stamp to mail it! Trust me, it's easy. Here are some tips to get you started on claiming some serious cash through rebates:
  • When you're doing your grocery shopping, keep an eye out for rebate forms. Tear-off pads of forms can usually be found on or around beer displays or wine sections of the store. Usually, rebates do not require you to buy beer or wine- for some reason beer and wine companies just offer the most rebates.
  • Fill out the form and mail it as soon as you get home- don't procrastinate!
  • Not sure where the rebates are in the store? Ask someone in customer service to check for you.
  • Want to use the same purchase for 2 seperate rebates? At checkout, ask the cashier to print an extra receipt.
  • Rebate forms are simple: name, address, sometimes phone number, and birth date (to prove that you are over 19). I have never received junk mail or phone calls as a result of a rebate.
  • Can't find rebates in your store? Ask a friend to look in their store and pick up a few for you. My sister does this for me all of the time!
  • Rebates are more plentiful at certain times of year: fall (football food), Christmas (Christmas & New Year parties), January (Super Bowl parties), and May/June for summer cookouts & grilling.
 Here are a few examples of rebates I'm using:

So this week, I'll get $5 back from my $10 fresh fruit purchase, $10 back from my $30 summer food purchase, and a free 8lb. bag of ice. Thanks Miller Lite and Icehouse- how kind of you! I don't even like beer.