Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Clearance

So if your like me then you love to go to stores and check out the holiday items on clearance after the holiday passes.  I do this for pretty much every holiday and get decorations, paper, bags and so on for half price or less.  The hubby and I checked out Kmart last night but only bought one Christmas tree ornament.  We purchased a Scooby Doo ornament for little man.  It's normally $5.99 but with the after Christmas sales it ended up being $3.23 with tax.  I'm ok with that.  The hubby also picked up a Disney lighted inflatable Mickey Mouse for outside at Walgreen's.  The original price was $19.99 and he paid $4.58.  Then the best part was my trip to Target.  We have gotten low on wrapping paper and bows.  We have also started the tradition of buying one or two new ornaments each year.  Usually one for us and one for little man but when we looked at other places there just weren't many that we liked.  Today little man and I made the trip to Target.  I wanted to get out sooner so that the items wouldn't be picked over but we had a snow storm and that didn't happen.  Surprisingly there was still a lot left at Target.  They had gift boxes, ornaments, wrapping paper, bows, holiday food items and so on.  Little man was in an especially good mood, he used some of his saved money to buy two toys, so I was able to browse freely.  I spent about 30-45 minutes in just the discounted Christmas section.  I did however venture into the other parts of the store and don't be fooled, they have discounted Christmas items throughout the entire store.  There are also a lot of toys on clearance.  One of the gifts that little man received and I know was about $30-35 was on clearance for $20.  If I would have had more time I would have loved to really browse and see what I could find but there are definitely some good deals out there right now.  This is what I ended up getting.

I love the gift boxes and little boxes for gift cards.    Everything pictures was either on sale or clearance.  My receipt is covered in little arrows pointing down.  Grand total spent at Target $40.85.  Total saved at Target $35.86!!!  I saved almost as much as I spent.  I love when it works out that way.  Now I can go into the next holiday season prepared with gift wrap, bows, tape and gift boxes instead of running out to get them during the peak point of the season or when I run out while trying to wrap presents.  Maybe this year I will be able to wrap as I buy.  I was very tempted to go ahead and purchase some of the clearance toys to go toward little man's birthday and next Christmas but I held off.  Most likely I will start our Christmas shopping this summer after little man's birthday.  I loved that this year by November I was finished with the exception of one or two gifts.  It felt really nice and there was so much less stress.  So if you have the opportunity definitely hit up some of the after Christmas sales.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Holiday Challenge Recap

I admit that the last few days leading up to Christmas were much busier than anticipated.  I feel like considering that I have never done anything like this before it went very well.  Planning played a big part in that.  I think that I will definitely give this a try again next year.  It was nice to try out new recipes.  I am the worst for clipping recipes or seeing them in cookbooks and saying I'm going to try that and then never actually getting to it. 

Right now I am in the process of cleaning up from Christmas.  We have several large new toys for little man that we need to find homes for.  I also want to get a jump on January's menu planning and activity planning since we will be with friends when we ring in the New Year.  I am also contemplating some goals to set for 2011.  Nothing extravagant, but things I want to work toward and things that will help our family to become healthier but that's another post in itself.

Off to enjoy this rare snow that we got.  In our part of NC we got about 8 inches yesterday.  That's more than we usually get for a whole year so we are enjoying it while it lasts.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 31: Reindeer Food (non edible)

OK, so this is a little different from what I've been doing.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs and there was a post about Christmas traditions.  We don't really have many with little man yet and I really wanted to work on that.  Some things that I came across will need to be for next year but Reindeer Food we could easily do this year.  The recipe is on the link above but it's really simple.  I dumped oatmeal into a plastic bag and had little man add as much glitter as he wanted.  I explained that tomorrow night before bed we will go out and put the reindeer food out so that Santa's reindeer have a treat and the sparkly glitter will help them find our house.  He was super excited.  It really is the simple things in life.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 30: Sugar Cookie Cutouts

I know that I missed yesterday.  I was out with family all day and got home late and was way too exhausted to even attempt cooking.  Now I know why, I'm sick.  Ugh....  But on to today.  Now that it's finally closer to Christmas we made Christmas cookies, or sugar cookies.  Growing up I always thought of this type of cookie as a Christmas cookie so that's what I call them.  I got this recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Sugar Cookie Cutouts

1/2 c. butter softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour

Beat butter for approximately 30 seconds.  Add granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.  Beat until combined.  Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour.  Cover and chill 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it's approximately 1/8 of an inch.  Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes.  Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes or until edges are firm.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.

You can add icing but I just didn't have it in me to make icing.  We let little man decorate the cookies with sprinkles before putting them in the oven.  Lets just say that the sprinkles are not evenly distributed.

As you can tell, little man got a little sprinkle happy.  We had to have cookies for Santa!  It was beginning to upset little man that we had not made cookies yet.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 29: Cinnamon Puff

This is another of our family favorites from my mother in laws cookbook.  The ironic thing is that there's actually no cinnamon in it.  I've added cinnamon before and it's delicious either way.

Cinnamon Puff

Cream together the following:
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter
pinch of salt

Combine the following and then add to the creamed sugar and butter mixture:
1/2 c. milk
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder

After combining the two place in a round cake pan.  It will be VERY thick. 

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tbs. melted butter
Rub butter and sugar together with fingers and sprinkle on top of the batter.  Poke all over with your fingers.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

It's so easy and we like to eat it as a snack, dinner and breakfast.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 28: Rolls

Another of the items I promised to bring to our family Christmas party was bread.  After the disaster with the sourdough bread starter and the dough not rising I am using the recipe that we were using for bread before I began making Friendship Bread.  The recipe came from Hillybilly Housewife.  I made what's called Fred's Favorite Rolls.

This is also really good made into loaf bread and hamburger buns.  I was in such a rush to get them cooked and to get all of the items we are taking to the party together, while getting ready, keeping a 3 year old our of trouble and then getting him ready that I forgot to snap a picture.  I will try to get one at the party if possible.  This is probably one of the easiest bread recipes ever, even easier if you go ahead and cook the bread in the bread machine.  We take ours out and put it into loaf pans or make rolls because I like for the bread to be a normal loaf size and not the weird bread machine loaf size but that's just a personal preference.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 27: Sausage Balls

Sausage balls are one of the hubby's favorites.  He loves them.  I'm actually making a double batch because I'm taking some to a family Christmas dinner tomorrow and I wanted the hubby to still have plenty to nibble on.  I'm using this recipe from the Betty Crocker website.  I know that the recipe says to cook for 25-30 minutes but I highly suggest checking them after about 15 minutes so that you can gauge the time frame needed for your oven.  Mine were cooked in 14 -15 minutes.  Had I assumed that it would take the full amount of time they would have been burnt.

I doubled the recipe, that explains why I purchased cheddar cheese, sausage and Bisquick at Sam's earlier this week.  I've found over the years that when making things like this or cookies in large batches you have to have a system.  Here is what works for me.

I lined two cookie sheets(with sides) with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  I rolled sausage balls and filled one cookie sheet, I left about 2 inches between sausage balls.  I put this batch in the oven and set the timer.  While that batch was cooking I began rolling and placing sausage balls onto the other cookie sheet.  As soon as the sausage balls were done I removed the pan from the oven, put the other pan in and set the time.  I then removed the cooked sausage balls and placed them in storage containers.  As soon as the cooked sausage balls were put away I took the cookie sheet back to the counter and began rolling and placing more sausage balls on it.  This system works really well for me.  By the time one batch was finished cooking I had another batch ready to go in the oven and enough time to prepare the next tray.  It really cuts down on the time spent cooking because each batch can go in back to back.  When your making 15 dozen sausage balls cutting down on the time spent in the kitchen is a big plus.

I ended up with enough to fill a very large Tupperware container (for tomorrow), a holiday tin (went with the hubby to work today), about 2 dozen in the freezer and about 2 dozen in a Tupperware container for the hubby to snack on over the next few days.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 26: Bread and Truffles

It's bread day again!  For some reason the bread has not been rising very well.  I believe that it has something to do with the colder temperatures and the fact that we keep our house somewhat cool.  At about 8 hours from making the dough it didn't look as if it had risen much if any.  And again at 12 hours still not much.  I talked to my mom and she had the same problem.  She admitted that in the past she would make starter and make bread from it 2-3 times and then toss it out and that was how she got the best results.  So after about 14 hours the dough had not risen and I tossed it.  I am dumping the starter and starting fresh.  It feels like such a waste but at the same time making bread that is not rising and is really dense was a waste too.  It still tastes ok but definitely has not been as good as the firs few times I made bread. 

This chocolate truffle recipe is always a hit.  I found the recipe a few years ago in a Kraft Food and Family magazine.  They looked scrumptious and sounded fairly easy to make so I gave it a try.  I've had coworkers in the past beg for these over and over after bringing them to work.  The recipe is located here on their website.  This time I am going to try making them using soy butter instead of peanut butter so that little man can eat them too.  I've used powdered sugar and chopped walnuts to coat them in the past and both are really good.

Here's the chocolate and peanut butter mixture.

Here it is after all ingredients have been added and chilled for 1 hour.

The finished product.

Those 5 truffles are gone.  Yum!  I highly suggest letting the mixture sit for longer than 1 hour.  As I made the truffles above they were a little softer than I like when rolling them into balls.  This is one of those desserts that seem so much more difficult than it actually is.  I definitely suggest making this for get togethers or parties.  Every time I bring this somewhere they are a hit. 

Menu 12/15-12/31/10

So I've had this menu complete for a while now and somehow the time got away from me.  I glanced at the calendar this morning and realized that I need to post the menu.  All I can say is that it's been a busy week.

12/15- Grilled pork chops, green beans and homemade mac and cheese
12/16- nothing sounded good so my cousin and I concocted a sweet bread using a loaf of cinnamon bread, brown sugar, butter, caramel candy and chocolate chips.  It was delicious but not nutritious.
12/17- Leftovers
12/18- Stromboli (mine will be chicken and mixed veggies with a cheddar cheese sauce)
12/19- Family Christmas Party!
12/20- Chicken and Pastry with veggies
12/21- Steak, baked potato and broccoli
12/22- Cheesy chicken, rice and veggies
12/23- Leftovers
12/24- Soup and baked potato's
12/25- Family Dinner
12/26- Chicken wraps with fruit
12/27-Kielbasa and rice with mixed veggies
12/28- Pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes with turkey bacon and fruit
12/29- Fried chicken, mashed potato's and green beans
12/30- Vacation
12/31- Vacation

A few items from earlier this month were skipped due to not being home or just not sounding good at the time so they were added back into the menu.  We have two family functions that will cover dinner and then will be visiting friends for the New Year and have not worked out the details of meals.

Now I need to get cracking on January's menu!  I would like to work on planning breakfast and lunch for little man and I too.  I think it would make the day easier, he would get more variety and we would eat healthier.  One thing at a time though.  Maybe I will start by planning lunches and gradually move to planning all three meals.  I think he would be confused if I suddenly said here's what your eating all day long when right now I generally ask him what he would like for breakfast and lunch.  For the most part, and considering that he's 3, he does well and doesn't always ask for junk.  Yes he did want chips and cookies for breakfast but he had cereal and then a few chips.  He is usually very good about eating actual meals before getting a treat and he does so without throwing a tantrum.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 25: Snickerdoodles

So today was another cookie request made by my niece.  I've never eaten these much less made them before.  The recipe came from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.


1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Beat butter.  Add sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar.   Beat until combined.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.  Beat in flour.  Cover and chill 1 hour.

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake at 375 for 10-11 , minutes until edges are golden.

My pictures won't load.  I'll try again tomorrow.  The cookies are really good.  As my cousin said, they taste like the cinnamon twists from Taco Bell. 

Sam's and Aldi

So yesterday was grocery day.  At the end of last month I was with my parents when they decided to go to Sam's.  On that trip I ended up purchasing a bag of Tyson chicken nuggets, Tyson boneless skinless chicken breasts, a pack of pork loin chops, 2 pack of beef roast, pack of steak, crackers, pop tarts, an entire Toy Story outfit for little man (pants, long sleeve shirt and winter jacket; I mainly bought it for the jacket and that whole set was only $19.98!) and a drink for me.  That trip was $108!  That's a huge chunk but the meat purchased will get us through about 2-3 months.  After coming home I separated the meats into smaller packs.  The roasts I cut in half so instead of 2 meals we will get 4.  For us, cooking a whole one ends up giving us yummy leftovers but sometimes there are just too many to eat before they go bad.  I would rather have no leftovers or very few than waste food and money.

Now back to yesterday's trip.  We had to go to Sam's to pick up lobster tails.  Yep you read that right.  Not a normal purchase for us but we are having Christmas dinner with the in laws and that is the one thing they asked us to bring as they are providing everything else.  While we were there we decided to go ahead, suck it up and get the staples that we use while there.  We ended up buying fruit snacks, popcorn, tortilla chips, turkey bacon, cheddar cheese, fish fillets, creamer, Bisquick, apple juice, salsa, slice cheese, chocolate syrup, 2 packs of lobster tails, dog biscuits, a broom,  a jug of Naked Mighty Mango, cheese and crackers, 2lbs sausage, chicken and poultry spice, corn, grape jelly, strawberry jam, sugar, paper towels, and of course a drink.  I'm a sucker for those huge cups they have at the register, well that and Cherry Coke.  And the grand total $231.77.  EEEKKK!!!!!!!!!!  I would love to say that it was all because of the lobster tails but they only account for about $50, we weighed our options and some things are just cheaper to buy at Sams.  Here are a few examples. 

Example 1: Members Mark Fruit Snack 72 count $8.98.  Normally we buy Betty Crocker fruit snacks for $1.50 for a 10 count.  When we can find them on sale or take advantage of super double or triple coupons they are the best bet.  However, lately there have not been many super double and triple coupon events.

Members Mark Fruit Snacks $8.98 (approximately $.12 per pack)
Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks $10.80 to get 72 based on $1.50 price per 10 (approximately $.15 per pack)
So it doesn't seem like a huge difference but it really adds up, especially in the quantities that little man likes to eat them.

Example 2: Turkey Bacon (3 packages) $5.68 = $1.89/ pack
This week at Harris Teeter they have bacon "on sale" for 2 packs for $7 = $3.50/ pack
This week at Food Lion they have Bacon 2 packs for $5= $2.50/pack
As you can see, we got a much better deal.  Out of 3 packs we will get 6 meals.  I split it in half unless we have guests and need more. (We actually had some for breakfast this morning.)

Example 3: Cheddar Cheese (2lbs) $4.98= $1.24/ 8 oz package (size we normally purchase)
Last week at Aldi I purchased 8 oz. blocks of cheddar cheese for $1.79 each; to purchase 2 lbs would have cost approximately $7.16
This week at Food Lion Kraft 5-8 oz blocks of cheese are 3 for $5= $1.66/ 8 oz package and would have cost $6.64 to purchase 2 lbs 
Again, Sam's had the better price.

Example 4: Naked Mighty Mango 64 oz bottle (8 servings) = approximately $.79 per serving.  Anyone who has ever purchased one of the Naked drinks KNOWS that they are generally about $2 per bottle and that's for maybe 2 servings.  We could have purchased a package of 8 10 oz. bottles but it was almost $3 more.  This ended up being the best bet.  This is also a good way for us to sneak in nutrition.

Example 5: Members Mark Dog Biscuits $6..48 for 8 lbs = $  .81 per lb!  We have small dogs so we don't go through dog treats very quickly. (well except that time that little man thought the dogs deserved lots of treats and dumped and almost full container of treats into their crate......yeah )  We don't buy treats often enough for me to have comparison prices and I couldn't locate any on sale at local stores for another comparison.

Those are a few of the really great deals we were able to get at Sam's.  I know that warehouse shopping is not for everyone but for us it works in moderation.  We were going every other month and it just got so expensive and unnecessary.  We now go once every 2-4 months.  Lately I've been more often, but I'm thinking that after this trip we should be able to go back to the once every 2-4 months and that should mainly be to stock up on meat/certain snacks.

Now on to Aldi.  We only went for the things that were on our list that we were unable to purchase at Sam's or that were not a good deal to purchase at Sam's.  We ended up getting another insulated bag, 3 cans green beans, 3 packages of cream cheese, 4 yogurts, gallon of milk, Parmesan cheese, butter, frozen pizza, and a package of Baklava.  No, Baklava was not a necessity but it's become a tradition for us to purchase a package every holiday season.  The hubby wanted to pick up a ginormous pack at Sam's and I talked him into waiting.  We came across a pack that was large enough for us to get our fill and was $5.99.  So I felt it was a go ahead.  Our total spent at Aldi was $23.41.

Can I just say that I will be so happy when the holidays are over and I can go back to my regular shopping and my $40 a week.  I do not like the amount we have been spending on food lately.  I know I've mentioned it before and I knew when I started the challenge that $40 every week would not always be possible, especially if we plan to continue to eat meat.  Even though we have fallen off the wagon lately we have made changes for the positive.  We are cooking and eating smaller portions and in turn having less food waste and our food is lasting longer.  I'm making meals from scratch much more often and in turn they are healthier.  I know we still have a long way to go but I think that so far this challenge has been positive for our pockets and bodies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 24: Molded Candies

A few weeks ago while browsing Ollie's I came across this candy making kit.

I've never made anything like this before and have always wanted to.  The price was right so I bought it.  I tucked it away in the cabinet and made sure the add it to my holiday challenge rotation.  The directions were really simple.  Empty each set of candy pieces into a bag, microwave and then pipe into the mold.  (The kit included all of the items needed as well as gift bags and ties so you can give them as gifts.)  I thought they would be cute additions to the goodie baskets I send family. 

After making the first batch

we realized that we needed to make sure to smooth out the candy.  I assumed that it would just kind of fill into the mold but here is what happens when the candy begins to reharden and you don't smooth it.

After seeing that the second batch came out much better.

With this brown and green snowflake being our prettiest.

Again, the third batch came out similar to the second.

With this tri-color snowflake being our prettiest of the batch.  We also really liked the tri-color tree up above.

The kit ended up making about 36 candies.  I really like that we have the mold to keep using and will just need to replinish the candies.  I've been racking my brain to think of other treats that we could use the mold for but haven't had any luck yet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 23: Bread Day!

So, I got pretty burnt out on bread.  If you haven't noticed it's been a while since I've made any.  I have been feeding my starter like I'm supposed to but dumping the cup that would normally go into the dough recipe.  I skipped it when I was sick and then for a bit after that because we already had bread and I wanted to work a few of the items that were missed while sick back in to the schedule.  Today I got back on the bread train.  The dough didn't rise nearly as much as it did the first few times, it's like it knows that I've been ignoring it or something.  So I ended up making a regular loaf and a large loaf instead of three very small regular loaves.  I plan to make more later this week to take to a family Christmas dinner over the weekend too. 

For anyone that may need it here's the link for the original bread post.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 22: Fudge

I don't know about everyone else but in my family fudge was one of those things that we always made at the holiday.  Now that i think about it, why don't we make fudge all year long?  It's delicious and fairly easy...hmm I'll have to work on that.  But it's one of those desserts that for me screams Christmas.  Those are just some of the things that I associate with the holidays.  I don't remember what recipe my mom used.  I searched the internet and a few cookbooks and finally settled on one.  I ended up using one of the church cookbooks that I borrowed from my mom. 


4 1/2 c. white sugar
1 large can milk
3 (6 oz.) packages of chocolate chips
2 sticks butter
3 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans

Cook sugar and milk over medium heat for 6 minutes after the mixture begins to boil.  Stir constantly.  After cooking, remove from heat and add vanilla, chips and butter.  Beat until all chips have melted.  Add nuts if desired.  Pour into a greased pan or platter.  Place into refrigerator until hard.  Cut and serve.

I didn't have 4 1/2 cups of sugar so I halved the recipe.  This is definitely the recipe used by my mom or at least a very similar one.  It tastes really good and set very fast.  Mine is thin but that's fine since it's very sweet and rich and I do not need to eat much of it.

****Picture to come soon.  There seems to be some sort of problem with the server and it will not allow me to load the picture.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 21: Chocolate Crinkles

So this request was made by my niece.  I got the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. 

Chocolate Crinkles

3 eggs
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 c. cooking oil
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all purpose flour
sifted powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, granulated sugar, chocolate, oil, baking powder, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined.  Beat in as much of the flower as possible with mixer.  Cover and chill for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar to coat generously.  Place balls 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until the edges are firm and the tops are crackled.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Add additional powdered sugar if desired.

These are very good.  I tasted the batter and it was not very sweet but after rolling in the sugar and baking they are sweeter and good.  I baked mine for 8 minutes and they still looked a little doughy but by the time they cooled they firmed up.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 20: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

OK the hubby and I went out for his birthday last night and by the time we got home it was too late to post the recipe so I got the pictures up.  The hubby requested this when we were planning and I decided that it would be a good birthday dessert.  I've made cheesecake before, but it was the Jello kind where you basically add milk and then chill it.  This was a little more labor intensive and I actually had to bake it!  AHHHH  The recipe came from the cookbook my mother in law made.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

1 1/2 c. crushed Oreos
1/4 c. melted butter
3 8oz packs of cream cheese
1 14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine crumbs and butter.  Pat firmly inn a springform pan. (I don't have a springform pan so I used a glass pie pan.)

In a large bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add the milk and beat until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.  In a small bowl toss together 1/2 c. bits with flour to coat.  Stir into the cheese mixture.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the remaining bits evenly over the top.  Bake 1 hour or until cake springs back when lightly touched.  Cool to room temperature.  Remove from pan and chill. 

*Because I didn't have the correct type of pan I had extra cheese mixture.  I ended up making two cheesecakes and baking each for about 30 minutes.  I kept checking since I knew they were smaller and would not need a full hour.  One with crust and the other crust less.  And below are pictures of the finished products.

The cheesecake is DELICIOUS!!!  I was really nervous because I have never made a cheesecake that I had to bake.  I will definitely be making this again.  Maybe between now and then I will actually go out and buy the correct type of pan.  If not, then I will make two crusts and have two cheesecakes again. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 19: Peanut Butter Pinwheels (or in our case, soybutter pinwheels)

Today is another recipe requested by my husband.  I've never made these and have actually never heard of them.  The recipe came from the cookbook that his mom made.  I had never heard of a candy with mashed potato's but according to the hubby they are good.

Peanut Butter Pinwheels

1/2 c. cold mashed potato's (instant are ok)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
1 c. peanut butter

Mix together salt, potato and sugar until easily handled.  Add vanilla and roll onto surface covered with powdered sugar.  Roll out into a rectangle.

Spread with peanut butter.

Roll into one long log.  This will get very sticky.  Keep covering moist areas with powdered sugar.  Once rolled place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.

Chill for several hours.  Cut into slices.  It helps to dip the knife in powdered sugar to keep it dry.  Store in the fridge with wax paper between layers.

Due to little mans peanut allergy I used soy butter again.  When mixing the ingredients into the dough it took a minute for it to begin forming together.  It definitely stayed sticky.  I used a lot of powdered sugar on the counter and my hands.  I tried using a spatula and found that my hands worked better to flatten it out.  I'm not going to lie, it was really difficult to roll up.  I got it in the fridge and am very anxious to cut it and taste but and trying to abide by the recipe and let it set.  Final photos added.

Aldi- 12/9/10

I know that I have slacked off with the actual grocery shopping and menus lately and I am working really hard to rectify that.  Personally, I have let myself get a little slack with planning and being on top of our grocery budget.  I think after the first couple of weeks of the Holiday Challenge and being over budget I was just thrown off but to keep things going so that we can get back into our routine after the challenge is over I realize that I have to stay on top of the planning and working to keep out budget in check so that I can easily get back to $40 a week or less once I'm finished baking up a storm.  So expect to see more shopping updates and menu's.

This week I went a little over.  I planned to be slightly over this month anyway due to all of my baking but I had little man and the hubby with me when we shopped and a few extras were added to the cart like a frozen pizza and peperoni's for making flat bread pizza.

Sliced pepperoni
Polska Kielbasa
10 lbs. all purpose potato's
2 gallons milk
2 lbs cheddar cheese (2 blocks)
Whipped topping
Turkey lunch meat
Pepperoni Pizza (frozen)
2- 64 oz bottles of apple juice
Romaine Hearts
2-2 liters of cola
3- bags chocolate chips
8 oz cream cheese
3- 4 packs of applesauce cups
Powdered sugar
Brown sugar
Granulated sugar

Total= $46.92 (seriously, not bad at all considering all of the baking supplies and the extras that were purchased)

Baking Supplies

Cheddar Cheese
Whipped Topping
Chocolate Chips
Cream Cheese
Powdered Sugar
Brown Sugar
Granulated Sugar

Total= $ 17.68 (w/o tax)  that is for what I purchased for items in my Holiday Challenge alone--yes cheese

So without the Holiday Challenge we would have been well within budget even with the few extras that were added. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 18: Peanut Butter Delights....or in our case soy butter delights

I love these.  They don't actually look appetizing but are so yummy.  I remember making these with my mom when I was younger.  Of course then we always used actual peanut butter but that is a big no no in our house.  This recipe came from a church cookbook.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies ( as the recipe calls them....we always called them peanut butter delights)

1 stick margarine (I used butter)
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
3 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 c. peanut butter (I used soy butter)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. nuts (didn't use any)
3 c. oatmeal

Bring margarine, sugar, milk and cocoa to a boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Add peanut butter, salt, vanilla, oatmeal and nuts quickly mixing well.  Drop on waxed paper by  the tablespoon.  Cool.

All I can say is yum.  I love, love , love these.  So easy and quick to make as well.  They even taste really good with the soy butter.  If I didn't say anything I don't know that anyone would notice.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So Disappointed...

I meant to write this up earlier but I was so disappointed with myself today.  I was cleaning up today and started cleaning up the refrigerator because it needed to be cleaned out so I could compile our grocery list.  I threw out so much food.  I ended up throwing out lettuce, an apple, cucumber, leftover fish, rice and veggies, and leftover cranberry sauce just to name a few.  I hate throwing out food.  I work so hard to save money on our food budget but when we waste that much of it we are just wasting money.  I know that being sick for a week had a lot to do with it.  All of the planned meals that week were skipped and the hubby had to fend for himself. 

I am definitely VERY motivated to get back on track.  I have gone through our dinner menu and my baking challenge menu and have our grocery list made.  I think I am going to make myself eat leftovers for lunch whenever there are any.  That will definitely take care of them.  I also have to get better about using up our produce.  I should be eating it but it just doesn't happen sometimes.  So I am definitely motivated to get back on track.  I fully admit that I have slacked up a little lately.  Between buying the extras for the Holiday Challenge and recovering from being sick I just lost my motivation.  It's back and I am on a mission!

Day 17: Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are a classic.  Simple and delicious.  I planned to make something different but after having a cranky child and not being able to make it to the store for my weekly shopping trip I had to switch up recipes.  Even then, I had to run to my parents house to get sugar.  More on that later.....

The recipe came from the bag of Harris Teeter brand semi sweet chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar (I misread and added 1 c. instead of 1/2 c.)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda (I somehow managed to completely omit this ingredient.  I was too worried about the extra sugar at this point.)
1 tsp. salt
1 package chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts (definitely did not add nuts)

Cream together butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat well.  Combine flour, baking soda and sat and then blend into butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. (I combined and beat the first few ingredients and then just added all the rest to them.  I generally do not separate and then combine ingredients unless it's a really advanced recipe that I have never made)  Preheat oven to 375.  Drop teaspoonfuls on a lightly greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. (I definitely made my cookies larger than recommended.)  Bake fr 10-15 minutes.  Yields approximately 5-6 dozen.

I ended up with about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.  They taste fine even with the extra sugar and omission of baking soda.  They are a little lighter in color than normal and the edges are a little crunchy while the middle is soft.  We like soft cookies so I generally bake mine on the lower end of the recommendation so that they stay soft. Overall very yummy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 16: Pumpkin Bread

I love, love, love anything pumpkin.  I make pumpkin lattes in the crock pot, pumpkin waffles and pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.  I even make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, but that's a post for a different time.  Maybe I should do a pumpkin post with all my favorite pumpkin recipes.  Today I'm making pumpkin bread from the recipe in my mother in laws cookbook.

Pumpkin Bread

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. pumpkin
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1/2 c. butter
1 c. nuts

Mix all ingredients together.  Spread in a greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

This ended up making 2 loaves.  So good.  I have a feeling this will be breakfast in the morning.  :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 15: Brownies

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with baking brownies from a mix.  I've made brownies that way more than I have scratch but keeping with the spirit of the challenge I wanted to bake my brownies from scratch today.  The recipe came from the container of cocoa in my cabinet( I believe that it's the store brand from Carlie C's).  


1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c. sifted all purpose flour ( I didn't sift mine)
1/2 c. walnuts (I didn't use any)

Cream butter or margarine, sugar and vanilla; beat in eggs.  Blend in cocoa.  Stir in flour and nuts.  Bake in greased 8 x 8 x 2 pan at 325 for 30-35 minutes.  Cool and cut into 15 squares.


I tasted a small corner and they are as delicious as the batter that I licked off the spatula and scraped out of the bowl.  What??  Everyone does that right?

Menu: December 6th- 15th

I know I'm starting on the 6th but it's better late than never!

6th- Leftovers
7th- Fried chicken, mashed potato's and green beans
8th- Crock pot roast with carrots, potato's and sweet potato
9th-Waffles with fruit
10th- Leftovers
11th- Steak, baked potato and broccoli
12th- Chicken and pastry with mixed veggies
13th- Cheeseburgers with fries and salad
14th- Kielbasa with rice and mixed veggies
15th- Grilled pork chops with mashed potato's and asparagus

Phew!  Feels good to have that set again.

I'm Baaaccckkkk!!

After being gone for about a week I am finally feeling like myself again.  I feel for anyone who has had or gets the same stomach bug/virus that I had.  I went about 3-4 days without eating and even making food was not pleasant.  Due to this I am about a week behind with my Holiday Challenge.  So to get things going again I am jumping back in today.  I will be making everything that I planned, some days I may just have to double up.  That will probably happen on bread days.  I even skipped baking bread twice, gasp! 

I am also in the process of making December's menu and will get at least the first half of it up today.  I've felt so off not having a menu and not baking.  I actually got up and started to try baking like normal the first day I was sick and quickly figured out that it would not be possible.