Monday, July 27, 2009

  {Week 3: All You Grocery Challenge}

So week three started today, and I wanted to give you all a recap on the meals from today. Also, I am going to update the sidebar with my total so far for this week, so watch for that in just a moment! :)

For breakfast, we had rice crispies with bananas...didn't get a picture, but my mom used to make this for me all the time when I was a kid and I still am loving it!!

Lunch was black forest ham sandwiches on homemade bread (which was still warm!! YUM!!) and we had fruit and Frito's with it.

Dinner, I made baked chicken with a BBQ flavored Rub, DELISH...these leg 1/4s were already in my freezer, part of my meat stockpile, so they were totally free! We also had baked beans and I made my FAMOUS cornbread. (I take this to my bible study group all the time and I have never brought home leftovers!!)

Here is how to make the cornbread:
(before you make this, let it be known that this is super sweet, cake-like, super moist cornbread...not southern style dry crumby cornbread!)

you will need:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350º.

In a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add the oil, melted butter, honey, eggs, and milk.

Pour into a greased 8-inch square pan.

Bake for 35 minutes.

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  {End of week 2, All You Grocery Challenge}

So it's the start of week three!!
I have all my groceries, so I will be updating my tally on the sidebar in a moment! But first I wanted to get you caught up on the meals from the end of last week!

Breakfast was a healthier version of eggs Benedict. I made whole grain English muffins, poached eggs, sauteed black forest ham, and sauteed tomato slices...SOOO good!!

Lunch we had smashed potatoes like what I made the other night. My sister was here, so I thought she would like them....they went over REALLY well!

Dinner was eggplant Parmesan...yum! Simple, easy, and when baked, not fried, healthy!

Then Sunday,
for breakfast we had cereal and toast
lunch was another huge salad, but we tossed on some extra shrimp from the other night and some hard boiled eggs!

for dinner I made Chinese noodles and egg rolls that were baked. I just mixed cooked noodles with Asian toasted sesame dressing, a little bit of teriyaki sauce and water then added in some steamed broccoli.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

  {Sooo....what do you think?}

Yeah, I changed the blog again! I just couldnt leave well enough alone! I wasn't happy with the last design, and I always wanted a retro 1950's housewife theme going on, so I did it!

Let me know what you think in the COMMENTS SECTION!!
Should I keep it, should I go back to the old design, do you even care? LOL!! I would LOVE to know your thoughts!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

  {shrimp, burritos and cookies?}

So the title sounds like an odd combination, but I assure you, I did not eat them all at once! lol

No, just a recap of yesterday and today's meals!
So yesterday, Thrusday, we had eggs and leftover bacon for breakfast (not picture worthy! lol). For lunch, my sister came over and we went to the store to pick up some stuff for lunch.
I made more home made tortiallas...but this time I rolled them out with a rolling pin instead of the tortilla press...much more thin and DELISH! They were gone in seconds! At the store we picked up supplies to make Chili con queso with ground beef in it and chips! SO GOOD! Lagan wont eat that, so I got her a frozen kids meal...a special treat for her! And we got some soda..which I dont drink, but good for the crowd! lol

Dinner, I DID get a pic of... I made baja shrimp with shrimp I got on sale like 4 weeks ago and put in the freezer, a baja seasoning packet I had in the pantry since we moved here I'm sure, and some orzo pasta that has been in there just as long! :) So a totally free meal...which made up for the $15 I spent at the store for lunch! but we are still under budget!! YAY!! Here is the shrimp:

AND...if your still with me after this long post, If your interested, I have posted my running totals on the sidebar for the grocery challenge from All You Magazine, as well as a link to their blog so you can follow other frugal chicks along the way! :)

Now, TODAY...FRIDAY, we woke up and had the rest of the bagels from the baking day last week, as well as some yogurt that we needed to finish! (However, I still have yogurt in the fridge...I never buy yogurt, yet there always seems to be a never ending supply in the fridge! lol)
Lunch was burritos:
just take some flour tortillas (homemade is awesome!), leftover refried beans from last week, some taco bell sauce packets {just grab extra on your next trip!}, onionn if you wish, and the rest of the cheese at the bottom of the package! lol Roll all together and microwave about 1.5minutes. YUMMY!!!

Dinner, we are going to bible study and its sort of potluck, so I am bringing Oatmeal Rasin Cookies: RECIPE HERE.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

  {Steakhouse at Home}

Today's meals were really good! We started the morning off with Lagan's Favorite, FRENCH TOAST!! MMMMM!!!!!

For lunch I made a tossed salad with ing. that we had left over from all of our meals, plus some odds and ends from the fridge. It was a major hit! I also served the rest of the rolls from the other night, and I made the croutons from the heels of the bread I made earlier in the week.

For dinner I decided to make a steak house at home. After all, going to a steak house can cost upwards of $20 per person or more! So I grabbed some meat I got on sale about 3 weeks ago that I had in the freezer and marinated it like so:

then I cooked it in a pan that was REALLY hot just until it turned brown so it wasn't tough. Then I sauteed some mushrooms that I had in the fridge with some steak sauce and water! Makes a really wonderful sauce!

I also made "smashed potatoes". I made the baked potatoes in the microwave, then smashed them with a plate! Then topped them with bacon, cheese, and dried chives and baked them for about 10 minutes on 350.
(these were SOOOOOO GOOD!!)

I also made wedge lettuce salad with an iceberg wedge and Russian dressing I already had. And made a bag of mixed veggie steamers!

So there you have it, take simple ingredients like this:

and make them into this:

Steak house on a budget!! :)

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  {How to save money on HEALTHY foods!!}

As you may know by now I am participating in the All You Magazine grocery challenge to feed my family of 4 for under $100 a week ($25/person/week for 4 weeks) but we have to be healthy and creative!

So we all know how to get less than healthy foods at the store for cheap, or even for free! But how do you feed your family whole, real, healthy foods on a budget? I have 10 tips to share with you that will get you on the right track without busting your budget!

Budget saving tip #1: Purchase Seasonal Produce
this is really easy! Only buy whats in season and you wont pay for it! Do a search for "seasonal produce" in google and print it out with you when you go to the store.

Budget saving tip #2: Go vegetarian...Kinda
meat is expensive, so save yourself some cash by going meatless 2-3 times a week. But don't just subtract the meat, make sure you fill in the gaps with healthy protein sources, such as beans, tofu, boca, etc.

Budget saving tip #3: Be your own prep Chef
sure its easy to buy those onions in the produce section that are already chopped, but have you seen how much you are paying per pound? Best idea is to get your produce, such as onions, bell peppers, etc. when they are cheap and buy a ton. Take them home, prep them all at the same time and freeze in large bags. If you cook the peppers and onions after they have been frozen, you wont even notice that they weren't fresh!

Budget saving tip #4: Proportion your portions
meaning, buy a large sack of what you want and divide into your own bags instead of buying snack sizes. Take a trip to your local Club or Warehouse (such as Sams or Costco) and buy the large bags of chips, bagels, oreos, etc. and some baggies, your cost per serving will be way less!

Budget saving tip #5: Season yourself
pre seasoned rices and noodles can be tasty, but they are also loaded with sodium! Buy your spices in a bulk section so you only get what you need for very little $, and season your own added health risk needed!

Budget saving tip #6: Don't shop on Empty
Make sure you eat something before you go shopping so everything doesn't look as appealing! Your craving for popchips will be a lot less if you had an apple with peanut butter before hand.

Budget saving tip #7: Beware of liquid sugars
sure our kids want juice and sports drinks, but beware that they are liquid sugar with very little nutritious value compared to their sticker price. Instead, check out the frozen juice section, where you can find more healthful juices for a much lower cost.

Budget saving tip #8: Don't bulk up on everything
Sure some buys are great in bulk, but others are not. Make sure you are checking the cost per serving and comparing that to a smaller size package of your favorite foods. Only purchase the larger one if it is a better value.

Budget saving tip #9: Don't be wasteful
So the heads of lettuce were 20cents this week, so you bought 4, but if you don't eat them before they go bad, then you wasted the money, no matter how little it was. Instead, only buy what your family needs to insure there will be no waste!

Budget saving tip #10: Put your focus on the Food
other household items can sometimes be cheaper at discount stores such as the dollar store, walmart, or even Costco. So do a price comparison to see if you can save money by picking these items up on a different trip, not your grocery day!

So I hope these helped you out! Remember to also plan your meals ahead of time, make a list, and stick to it! Your on your way to feeding your family the right things at the right price!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

  {Playing Catchup with Recipes!}

So sorry everyone, I finally found my camera battery charger and got everything up and running again! But you will have to excuse some of these images...they are from my other camera that is REALLY terrible since I cant control the focus or the manual settings like I can on my Rebel! :(

But here is catchin' up for you! Also, I decided to do a total of all my ingredients at the end of the week instead of by the meal! :)

Saturday: we had Oatmeal with Apples and toast for breakfast

we went to a family Birthday for lunch, so lunch was free!

and I made BBQ chicken pizza for dinner!

Sunday: we had home made bagels for breakfast with jelly

for lunch we had turkey sandwiches on home made bread with chips (I love adding tons of veggies to mine!)

and for dinner we had baked pasta with meatballs made from leftover turkey meat. I also threw in some canned spinach that I have had sitting in my pantry for ever, and I grated up some zucchini into it as well...SO good! I also made some garlic toast on our homemade bread! YUM!!

Monday: breakfast was scratch made waffles with turkey sausage

lunch was tuna salad sandwiches and fritos (the kind with reduced salt...they are SO much better!!)

dinner I made hamburger soup and buttery bread machine rolls... these rolls are OUT OF THIS WORLD!! If you have never tried them, you HAVE to! Your family will thank you!! :)

Then Today, Tuesday: we had grits, toast, and peaches for breakfast
lunch, we had pizza (its always good to keep extra sauce and cheese around if you dont have leftovers and whip up pizza anytime!) and for dinner I made 8 layer tortilla stack..not bad! :)
{sorry I didnt get a picture...I was starving and forgot to take one before it was all gone! lol}

So that catches you up for now! :) Thanks for tuning in!!!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

  {Food Coming soon!}

Hey Everyone! So I have my photos of the food from the last 2 days and I will upload them, but my battery died in my camera and I cant find my charger!! lol So as soon as I find it and get that uploaded, I will have it up asap! :)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

  {Who is this girl we call Nikki?...FAQ}

So I have been getting tons of new readers from the All you challenge and all of my awesome blog friends sending people over that I thought I would do a little FAQ session with you all!

These are all questions I have had from people over the time that I have had from this blog, so I wanted to put them all together in one place.....HOWEVER, if you have a question for me that I am not answering here, please feel free to leave it in the comment section below and I will answer it for you! :)

So...HERE WE GO!! (this is so exciting! hehe...I'm SUCH a dork!)

ok, so #1...
Q. How old are you?
A. I am 25 believe it or not!

Q. Is your real name Nikki or is that an Alias?
A. No, my real name is Nikki, but most of my family calls me Nic.

Q. What kind of camera do you use for your pics?
A. I use a canon digital rebel XT with a 50mm fixed lens (the 1.8 one). I LOVE my camera, we will never part...well, unless it breaks or I get a better one or something like that! :)

Q. What do you do for a living?
A. I am a graphic designer. I own my own business, Expressive Style Graphics, and mainly design blogs, but I also do websites and logos and things. I also design free lance for companies when I get the chance! :)

Q. Who taught you how to cook?
A. Growing up, everyone! I learned a lot from my mom and my sister. My grandmother also taught me a lot when I was growing up, BUT cooking is in my genes! My Dad was a chef, so was my uncle and the women in my family are amazing cooks! However, I tuned my culinary skills when I went to culinary school and I hold a degree in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts.

Q. You never mention you husband, what does he do?
A. lol, you tell me! When I meet him, I will tell you! hehe I never mention my husband because I am not married, nor am I dating anyone. I just have not found that special someone yet...praying he gets here soon! :)

Q. Where is your favorite place to shop?
A. That's a mean question because I don't have just one place! I LOVE to shop at Goodwill, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Walmart, Target, I could go on and on! I'm a total bargain shopaholic!

Q. Who designed you blog?
A. I did...see 4 questions up! lol

Q. When do you find the time to do it all? (I love this one!)
A. I don't! I'm just like you...I don't have enough time! I don't work during the day when my daughter is at home, so I only work at night after she goes to bed. The rest of the day I work on my craft projects, cooking, etc. So I try to fit as much into my day as I can!

Saving the best for last:
Q. Have you always been a Christian?

A. NO! In fact, I was not raised with God in my life. We went to church on holidays and that was about it. I started my relationship with Jesus about 4 years ago when we started attending Shoreline. I was living a very wreck less life (if you want to hear a true testimony of how God works, email me and I would love to share his miracles with you!) that would have either really hurt me or killed me, literally, that bad. A very self indulgent life. And My brother-in-law and sister had found Jesus and went to church all the time, so I thought I would give it a try, and I have never looked back!
I got saved about 6 months into attending Shoreline and my life is so full and rich now, I cant even imagine my life without Him in it!

So there you have it, but like I said, if there is something you would like to know about me, I would be more than happy to post it here! Don't be shy...ask away! :)

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  {I finally made Biscuits!!}

Ok, so if you know me at all, you know that I CAN NOT make biscuits! I failed at making them in culinary school, I can not make them at home...I have tried EVERY recipe and technique that I could think of. I have had friends try to teach me...even my baking teacher in Culinary School offered to train me on a weekend! I'm THAT hopeless.....but never the less, I STILL keep trying! It just bugs me that I can make anything BUT freaking biscuits! I'm from Texas for goodness sakes!!

So, I came across this recipe this weekend and I was determined to make it! The technique was to make them in the food processor...which I thought would make them too tough, but NOPE, they were AWESOME!! So I will let the pictures do the talking....

Pretty cool huh? I almost cried! NO JOKE!! :)
So we stuffed them with sausage patties, eggs and some all natural cheese...YUM!

Cost for breakfast:
Cheese: .71, sausage 1.00, eggs: free, already had them, Biscuits: free, already had everything, so $1.71! AWESOME!!

We did however eat out for "linner". We went to the funeral for our Pastor's son this afternoon and went out with our family after it was over. It was a beautiful service!
Dinner was at Jason's Deli and cost $36.00 for 4 people.

So our daily total was $37.71
bringing our weekly total to: $47.47! Not Bad!! :)

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

  {A day in the life of a foodie}

Another day of the challenge! I went grocery shopping today for the first time since the challenge, but I mostly bought supplies for next week (with next week's budget) since I knew I wouldn't have a chance to get to the store until later next week!

So here is today's meals...mostly free, I think lunch is the only thing I picked up from the store!!

Breakfast: Homemade Glazed Cake Donuts(recipe for donuts here, recipe for icing here)
these were SOOOOOO good!
Breakfast Total: FREE, already had everything on hand!

Lunch: "Steak" fingers (turkey "steak", so much better for you!), mashed potatoes (from yesterday's batch), green beans, and peaches. I also made homemade cream gravy! YUM!!
Lunch Total: $7.88

Dinner: Chicken stir fry with Asian peanut sesame sauce
this doesn't look very pretty, but it sure did taste awesome!
Dinner Total: FREE, I used the last part of the chicken I roasted, plus stir fry veggies I had in the freezer, Asian toasted sesame dressing, peanut better, and get this...RAMEN NOODLES!!! YEP! :)

Total in the challenge so far: $7.88!! Whoo Hootie! :)

Oh, I also had a baking day when I got home! I made flour tortillas, bagels, and 3 loaves of sandwich bread. (I found an amazing recipe for it on the coupon queen of corning's blog. She is also following the challenge and her recipes are awesome!! Check out the recipe HERE.)
(I forgot a photo of the bagels!! lol)

So with the baking day, all I used was a bag of flour, I had everything else on hand, so that was $1.88 bringing the challenge Total to: $9.76!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

  {Pancakes and Tacos and Steak, Oh My!}

So today I thought it would be fun to show photos from all three meals! Today was another FREE day for us in the challenge! I had everything on hand for our meals, but I will be going to the grocery store tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!

For Breakfast we had Mini Pancakes with turkey sausage links.
This pancake recipe is THA BOMB!!! Try it! They make great mini pancakes or full size pancakes.

For Lunch we had crunchy tacos with some leftover home made "faux-fried" beans. YUMMY!!

And for Dinner, we had chicken "fried" steak with mashed potatoes and corn!
Simple enough, just crush up some butter crackers, coat your cube steaks in flour, eggs, then the cracker crumbs and bake on 400 for 15 min. PERFECTION!

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