Friday, January 31, 2014

Warmth at the end of the tunnel

It has been freezing cold here in the South lately- and by freezing, I should clarify.  Freezing would have been glorious.  We got down to single digits on night- and if I wanted to deal with those kinds of temperatures, I'd move up North.

It has been hard to take care of the animals.  They are cold, our hands are freezing as we try to open cages- let's just say the poor rabbits haven't gotten a lot of attention lately.

What has gotten attention? Their frozen water bottles. We have to collect the bottles, then soak them in hot water to unfreeze the bottles, then fill them up with fresh, unfrozen water.  We head out and give the bottles back to the thirsty rabbits.  Rinse, Repeat. 

I have high hopes that the bottles will remain unfrozen for the next few days.  Both the rabbits and we would appreciate the break!

It's looking like we'll have some days of very warm weather (mid-50s to high 60s), followed by some days where we hover around freezing.  Then back to warm, back to cold. 

It's ten wonders we all aren't super sick.  The poor animals are never going to figure out if they should molt their coats or hold on to them!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stamps are going up!

Quick heads up- stamps jump to 49cents each on January 26th.  It is a good time to grab some Forever stamps.

This is why I do my best to pay our bills online! Geez!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Too many buns!

We have a small household- there are just the two of us, so things like Hot Dog buns and Hamburger buns kill me.  We have to buy them in packs of 8, but we don't eat Hot Dogs or Hamburgers often enough that I can use a whole pack of buns before they go bad! 

At least I can buy the weenies in packs that allow me to split them up and we make our own hamburger patties, so I combine the meat- one day we may have spaghetti and meatballs, then two days later, we'll have burgers.  That's the easy part to divvy up.

So what are some ways to use those excess buns?

Garlic toast: I throw a little butter on the buns, sprinkle a little garlic salt (or sometimes, cheese) and pop it in the toaster oven as a compliment to other meals.

Breadcrumbs:  Yes, even buns work well to make your own breadcrumbs.  The easiest way is to tear the buns in chunks and toss them in your food processor.  A few spins later, breadcrumbs!

Sandwiches:  Yep, I've been known to make myself a sandwich using a hot dog bun.  Better than letting it go to waste! It's kind of like a small sub.

Hot Dogs on Hamburger buns:  I hate Hot Dogs on sandwich bread.  Don't ask me why, I always have.  So imagine my dismay recently to open up a leftover pack of buns and find mold on them! Ugh, and here I thought I was doing so well!

Hamburgers are on the menu later this week, so we hit on an idea-

After cooking the hot dogs, Tim sliced them lengthwise down the center (then he threw them back in the pan because he loves them a bit charred lol).  Then, we cut the hot dogs in half width-wise. We put four pieces to a bun, topped it like normal and enjoyed our lunch.   Yes, it was a little more bun than we usually have with the dogs, but hey.... it killed two birds with one stone, since now I don't have to worry about what to do with the leftover hamburger buns we'll end up having!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Delicious Buffalo Chicken Tacos

You'll need:

Soft tortillas (taco size)
chicken tenders (I use fried, frozen tenders, but feel free to fry up your own)
Homemade Pico de gallo
Shredded lettuce
Buffalo Sauce
Shredded Cheese

Cook your chicken up, either by hand or by popping the frozen tenders in the oven.

While that is cooking, I like to make my fresh pico de gallo.  Yes, you can use salsa.  Yes, you can use store bought pico- but I really enjoy the homemade stuff.

Get your shredded lettuce ready- I like to use a head of romaine and pull off a leaf at a time, washing it, patting it dry, then using a knife to cut thin slices.  Use whatever kind of lettuce you prefer, or buy it shredded already.   This is a laid back recipe.

When you chicken is done, cut it in to small chunks, then put in a small container with a top on it.  Pour in your buffalo sauce, put the top on the container and shake shake shake....shake shake shake...shake your boootayyy.   When the chicken is well covered, you're ready!

Spread out your tortillas and spoon a generous amount of chicken down the center of your tortilla.  Spoon pico de gallo to taste, add lettuce and shredded cheese to taste.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Save money on Papa John's Pizza

Know a simple way to save money on pizza? No?

Well here you go.

When ordering from Papa John's, try to schedule your pizza order Monday-Wednesday, when you can get a large pizza for $10.  If you wait until Thursday- Weekend, you'll pay $12 for the same pizza.

Also, consider how many toppings you want.  I can get a better deal ordering "The Works" pizza and removing the olives and mushrooms, then adding anything special I want, like Jalapenos, than I do trying to simply add all my toppings to a regular pizza.  Most deals are "Up to 5 toppings, or any specialty".

So let's see- I can get Canadian Bacon, Onions, Sausage, Green Peppers, Pepperoni, remove the mushrooms and olives, then sub in Jalapenos and extra cheese, for $10 (Mon.-Wed.)

Or, I can order a pizza with those toppings on it and pay: $23.50.  Ouch.   Definitely play around with this feature a little and see which pizza it's best for you to modify, if you like a lot of toppings!  Keep in mind you can't remove more than two toppings and you can't add more toppings than the original number on pizza and keep the special pricing.

So there you go- a way to get a little more bang for your buck when you eat out.   Don't forget to check for any special codes, sometimes I find a 50% off deal that makes my pizza come in under $10!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Homemade Pico De Gallo

This recipe is for my Chicken Tacos recipe which will be coming soon.  It serves approximately two people (four generous tacos) with a tad left over, so be sure to adjust it accordingly.

This is a SUPER laid back recipe.  I will tell you how I do it, but it's very much to your taste.

You'll Need:
1 large Roma Tomato
Lemon Juice
Cilantro (optional)
Green onions (scallions)
Black Pepper

Wash your Roma, then dry it off. Cut the tomato in to uniform slices.  I like mine to be less than 1/4" thick, but just go with it. 

I remove the pale core and seeds, then stack a few slices on top of each other and cut them at a 90 degree angle from the original slices, making the tomato chunks very small.  Again- just go with it.  It depends on how chunky you want your pico. I don't like large chunks :).

Put your tomato in to a very small bowl or container.  I put a spoonful of lemon juice over top of the tomato pieces, then stir it slightly.

Get out your scallions.  Slice off the roots and a few inches of the top of the greens, then make small, even slices to the white bulb, continuing up the stalk until you finish it.  I like a lot of scallions, so I tend to use at least four stalks, though I only use about halfway up the green stalk.  I recommend cutting them one at a time, then dump the scallions in your pico, stirring it, and making the decision whether you'd like to add more or not.

Cilantro! Love it or leave.  I love it, so for this recipe I pulled out four stalks of cilantro, washed them, then patted them dry.  Fine chop them from top to bottom, then fine chop the leafy parts again.  Dump it in your pico bowl and stir!

I pour a little regular table salt in to my hands, then take a pinch and sprinkle it on the top of the mixture.  Stir, then take another pinch and spread over the top- then stir again.

Shake a bit of black pepper over the top, stir one last time and voila! Your homemade pico de gallo is done! 

This is such an excellent recipe that is highly customizable.  It's all about what you want and how much you want it!


Friday, January 10, 2014

A quick, easy meal- and unpaid review

So, you guys know I'm all about quick, cheap meals-(I love to cook, but sometimes you just wanna throw something together and EAT.)  I picked up a box of Chicken Helper for a buck at Food Lion and thought- let's give this a shot.

So today, I finally decided to use it.  I had a chicken breast in the fridge from the package we bought the other day.  I fired up the stove and started making the mac and cheese side dish that is included, while Tim cut a chicken breast in to four "tenders".  It took less than 20 minutes for us to make the meal.

I have to say- I was reasonably impressed.  There was enough Mac & Cheese for three people to have good sized helpings.  There was more than enough bread crumbs to have coated three sets of chicken tenders- so hey, I am going to go on and say "this is a good size for three folks".

The chicken was a little bland- you could catch hints of the bacon flavor occasionally, but mostly it just tasted like friend chicken.  Hey, I like fried chicken, so that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

The Mac & Cheese was actually pretty good.  I love Kraft Mac & Cheese- the cheap stuff.  The powdered deliciousness.  This was actually pretty close- and believe me, I can tell the difference.

Overall, I'd say these are a great, cheap "emergency meal" kit to keep on hand.  A box of Mac & Cheese will cost you a dollar these days, after all. 

Something to keep in mind for your pantry! :)- Plus, it's way cheaper than eating out :D.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back in the Saddle-

It's a New Year and I'm back in the saddle again.  What saddle, you ask? The saving money saddle.

Ok, so this blog post is born from procrastinating on doing my Menu Planning- I can be honest and say that.

So, the biggest way I am planning on saving money this year is to drastically reduce how much money we spend on eating out.  This is a common theme in the blog, but I tend to get lazy and if *I* don't plan meals, they don't get planned.

Tonight we had a delicious Bear Creek Soup- Potato (Spoiler alert, the regular potato is the ONLY good soup I have found.  My mother-in-law concurs).  The cost was $3.33 (without tax) for the soup.  I couponed a free ham steak, which I chopped up and added to the soup, and approximately half a bag of shredded cheddar cheese between Tim & myself. I paid around $1.00 for the cheese, again, thanks to couponing. So for under $4.50, we had a delicious, filling meal, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow.   Much better and healthier than that $10 pizza we were seriously considering going to pick up.   We were able to eat the soup because I happen to keep a few bags of it on hand, for "emergency" (Oh-crap-I-didn't-plan) meals.

So- my goal today is to plan out this next week's meals and get my grocery list created.

I am hoping that saving on eating out will help us grow our savings account.  We would dearly love to take an amazing vacation in 2016 for our 10th wedding anniversary and I would rather count pennies now, to do exactly what I'd like to then!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's all over but the crying...

Is that a southern saying, or do other areas use it too?  "All over but the crying..."

I have decided that after many years, I'm giving up one of my hobbies.  I plan to sell out my herd of rabbits.  I have debated it quite a bit and I won't lie- there have been plenty of tears as I think of letting my beautiful babies and hard work leave me forever.

There are a lot of reasons, but this isn't the place to discuss them.  Instead, I want to focus on the New Year.

2014 is the year:

I will finish my book.  Yes, it's going to happen THIS YEAR. I've told myself you either finish it, or delete it.  No excuses.

I will work on my Thirty One business.  Things have been going really well, but I won't lie, I've also been lazy.  I'm going to ROCK this year and have more payouts like November- when I equaled what I would have made at my last job.

I will finally use my stash of yarn before I go off and buy more.  It's gotten a little ridiculous.  I am going to finish up some custom pieces, then build up a stockpile to sell in Greensboro, one of the last rabbit shows I have.

What are your goals for 2014?