Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the eighth weekly edition of ...
The other day my college roommate, Jen, sent me this email...

"Okay, seriously... if you make these... you'll be best friends with whoever you give them to (so be careful in case you don't want to be best friends with someone). They are DIVINE. I promise. I've had them before - but my neighbor gave us some last night and it reminded me how gooooood they are! And check out the recipe... super easy to make! Only three ingredients! :)
Enjoy! "

I clicked on the link and waa-laa. They look sooooo good! They look so good and easy that I'm debating ... do I take them to the Christmas Eve party on Friday night ... or the New Year's Eve party next Friday night ... both parties ... or just make them all in the middle of the night (so no one in the house will know) and eat them all myself??? That is the question. Either way, this is the recipe that I took off of Her instructions are a little more idiot proof than the recipe on
Oreo Truffles

Makes approximately 4 dozen truffles (or maybe a little less, depending on how much of the filling you choose to sample)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) Oreos (You can also use a generic version to save a little cash; I've tried a few varieties, and they work just as well.)
2 pkg. (8 squares each) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted (You will most likely use closer to 1 1/2 packages. That's more chocolate for spatula-licking, right?)

1. Set aside 5 Oreos and throw the rest in a food processor until they are finely crumbled
2. Thorougly mix cookie crumbs with cream cheese.
3. Form crumb-and-cream-cheese mixture into balls, approximately 1-inch across each (but don't worry too much about being exact here. They will come out delicious no matter the size!) and place onto a cookie sheet that has previously been lined with wax paper.
4. For best results, pop the formed mixture into the fridge for at least 15 minutes to chill while you complete the next step. If you really don't have the time, the truffles will still taste delicious (so don't worry!), but they will be more difficult to handle and some of the coating with mix with the filling.
5. Melt the chocolate. There are many ways to do this. I don't have a double boiler, so I just throw my chocolate into a saucepan and heat it on low, stirring frequently, until it is completely melted.
6. Remove pot from heat.
7. Coat previously formed balls with chocolate and return to the lined cookie sheet.
8. Throw the remaining 5 cookies into the food processor.
9. Sprinkle some of those crumbs on top of the (still wet) truffles.
10. Refrigerate for one hour.
You are done! You are now free to package, freeze, and eat. (Of course, you were free to eat during the entire process.)

Variation: swap out regular Oreos for Golden Oreos (semi-sweet chocolate for white chocolate, if you like white chocolate). You will end up with a cheesecake-like truffle.

Adapted from (It's true!)

What are you cooking this week? (Please be sure to check the comments section as well as the links.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the seventh weekly edition of ... Except that it's Thursday. Sorry. Life got completely out of control and I didn't get this done yesterday.

If you are having ham for Christmas dinner, you might want to try Ham Sauce. It's original name is Raisin Sauce, but no one in the family except me likes raisins so I don't always put them in and I call it Ham Sauce instead.
Raisin Sauce
1/3 cup raisins (optional :P)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup jelly (any flavor, but I usually use grape)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs corn starch
Dash of allspice
Dash of salt

Mix raisins, water, jelly and orange juice in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Mix brown sugar, corn starch, allspice and salt in a small bowl. Pour into sauce while stirring constantly. Serve with ham. Enjoy!

What are you cooking this week? (Please be sure to check the comments section as well as the links.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the sixth weekly edition of ...
Thoughts are at Christmas, this time of year. Most of my thoughts center around purchasing and wrapping gifts, but I am also starting to think about Christmas Dinner. If you are a Christmas Turkey kind of family, you will enjoy this recipe - Turkey Brine. It originated from Emeril Lagasse's television show. We changed his recipe because it called for beer. Here is our recipe....
Turkey Brine

3/4 gallon of water
2 cups apple juice (replaces the beer)
1 1/2 cup orange juice, the stronger the better
1 cup kosher salt (use kosher salt because the granules are bigger)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh ginger (I just guess when I buy the ginger so I add it all)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
4 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme (dry works fine, too)

Combine all the ingredients in a container. We use a well scrubbed cooler. Stir to combine completely and to dissolve the sugar and salt. Put in your bird and let it soak for 12 to 24 hours. In some places you can just put it out in the garage because it is cold enough to keep the turkey. In warmed climates you may need to find room in the refrigerator.

What are you cooking this week? (Please be sure to check the comments section as well as the links.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the fifth weekly edition of....

I almost forgot to post today. We're having scream-yourself-to-sleep week at our house so we're all a little sleep deprived and ditzy - at least I am.

Do you still have leftover turkey? Here's a great recipe that can help you use it up! The recipe actually calls for chicken but you can substitute that leftover turkey that is in your freezer.

Easy Chicken Tetrazine

Medium onion, chopped
2-3 celery stocks, diced
1 pound spaghetti
2 cans cream of chicken
3 cups chicken broth

Brown medium onion and celery in a stock pot. Add spaghetti, broken in half, with 2 cans of cream of chicken and 3 cups chicken broth. Bring to boil and then add chicken pieces and allow to simmer until the broth is absorbed into the noodles. VERY EASY AND QUICK!

(I've made a few changes to make this fit my family - no celery and a little dry minced onion. Large skillet instead of a stock pot, and pasta works just as well as spaghetti without clumping together. If I need to make more then I just add another can of cream of chicken soup and a little more chicken broth. My kids love it!)

What are you cooking this week? (Please be sure to check the comments section as well as the links.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the fourth, weekly edition of

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and no doubt you are cooking up a storm for your Thanksgiving Dinner that will probably happen some time between noon and 6 P.M. If your house is like mine, though, the kids will be hungry long before the turkey (or ham, in our case) comes out of the oven. With permission of my sweet cousin, Sally, here is a recipe for delicious muffins. Sally calls them LOVE MUFFINS. The best part, they are quick, easy, and I can almost guarantee that you have all the ingredients in your cupboards already. Make them tonight and they will still be perfect in the morning. In fact, I double or triple the recipe, put three or four muffins in each ziploc bag and throw them in the freezer for my husband to grab as he's walking out the door in the mornings.
(I'm not a baker or a photographer so this picture does not do these LOVE MUFFINS justice!)

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl, mix beaten eggs, milk and melted butter. Stir into dry ingredients, JUST until moistened. Pour into greased muffin tins or use liners. Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes. While warm, rub a stick of butter or margarine on top of muffins and dip in cinnamon/sugar mixture. (We have a shaker for cinnamon/sugar because we put it on toast all the time. I've found that it's easier for me to shake the cinnamon/sugar than to dip a muffin in a bowl.)

What are you cooking this week? (Please be sure to check the comments section as well as the links.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the third, weekly edition of

Thanksgiving is next week! Holy Cow!!! I know that you are all getting you menus ready for the big day. One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods is pumpkin pie. I love it but don't really like to make a crust. My cousin, Tammy, sent me this recipe for pumpkin pie cake and it has been a staple at our house ever since! You'll notice that the crumb topping has picked off most of the cake in the picture ... that's because the kids love it so much. They kept sneaking pieces until most of the topping was gone.

Pumpkin Pie Cake

1 package white or yellow cake mix (set aside 1 cup for topping)
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 egg (optional)

Mix ingredients together. Pat into a 9x13 pan. Real butter will make the crust very flaky. Add the egg for a cake-like crust.

1 large can pumpkin
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
(or 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice to replace cloves and ginger)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup evaporated milk

Mix ingredients together. Spread over crust.

1 cup cake mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine (softened, not melted)

Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over cake.

Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream.

What are you cooking this week? (Please be sure to check the comments section as well as the links.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesday

Welcome to the second, weekly edition of....

My kids love this recipe. The original name is Barbecue Meatballs but I've changed the recipe just a bit and we call it just "Meatballs and Rice". (And yes, it's pictured on a paper plate because some days I don't want to do dishes. And... It's a full meal with only three things - protein, carbohydrate and vegetable. Most days I'm lazy like that.)

Barbecue Meatballs

36 meatballs (either frozen or from your favorite meatball recipe)
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbs brown sugar

Put meatballs, barbecue sauce, ketchup and brown sugar in a saucepan. Heat to boiling. Sprinkle in cornstarch while stirring until sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

(In place of the barbecue sauce, I use Yoshida's Marinade from Sam's Club. My kids love it more than with the barbecue sauce, although they love the barbecue sauce variety, too. It's just a little more sweet with Yoshida's.)

What is your "quick, easy and cheap" (and yummy) recipe this week?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Headbands & Flowers

I'm thinking about Christmas... When you are working with a budget, like most of us are, it's never too early to get started. In fact, I'm probably getting a late start. Be that as it may, I'm working away.

About a year ago I saw the daughter of a friend wearing a cute headband. It was made of ribbons in the school colors and it was darling. My friend told me she had made it and referred me to the internet. I found this website:
Then I ordered some headbands from here:

I made these headbands for my nieces. My favorites are the red one and turquoise ones. I think they are prettier if you only use three different kinds of ribbon - one for the outside triangles and two different ones for the inside diamonds. The green one was done with four different ribbons and is a little crazy for my taste.
I also made flowers and butterflies to clip onto the headbands. They were very easy to do - just glue a ribbon around an alligator clip and glue the flower/butterfly on top of the ribbon. This makes it easy to change the accessory on top of the headband.

My daughter, Kelly, modeling two of the headbands.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's Cooking? Wednesdays

Welcome to the 1st weekly edition of...

I say that I really don't like to cook but that's only partly true. I don't like to decide what to fix and I don't usually like putting it together (although that's the best part) and I REALLY don't like the clean up afterwards. Because of this I have focused my cooking efforts on easy recipes. I've even compiled my own cookbook entitled If You Are What You Eat, I'm Quick, Easy and Cheap!"

Please post your favorite recipe. Ideally it should be a recipe that fits into two of the categories - quick, easy or cheap. However, if it especially yummy, please post!!!

Chicken Poppyseed Casserole

2 tubes smashed Ritz-type crackers
1/2 cup melted butter
1 lb cooked, shredded chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs poppyseeds

In a bowl, combine crackers and melted butter. Set aside. In another bowl, mix chicken, soups, sour cream and poppyseeds. In a 9x13 pan, layer half the cracker mixture, all of the chicken mixture and the other half of the cracker mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 30 minutes or until sides bubble. You can also cover in plastic wrap and microwave for about 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

Please share your favorite recipe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Couponing #2

I'm sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday. I had two drop in visitors and spent four hours at the school. My schedule was not my own yesterday. I'll try to get the rest typed and scheduled for posting....

Regional Websites & Where to Find Coupons

Abbreviations you might see...
These are some of the abbreviations you'll come across.
*RP = Red Plum (newspaper insert)
*SS = SmartSource (newspaper insert)
*P&G = Proctor & Gamble (newspaper insert and loadable onto your shopper discount card)
*IE = Internet Explorer (click this one if this is your web browser)
*FF = Firefox (click this one if this is your web browser)
*Cellfire = (Coupon site that loads coupons directly to your preferred shopper discount card)
*Shortcuts = (Coupon site that loads coupons directly to your preferred shopper discount card)

Regional Websites...
Click on “Grocery Deals” at the very top. The links to online coupons are in red.
Acme, Genuardi’s, Giant of PA, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer, ShopRite, SuperFresh (coming soon), Wegmans (coming soon)

Mid-west/Southern US -
Click on the grocery store link underneath her name logo.
Kroger (Dillon’s), harris Teeter, Food Lion, Harvey’s, Ingles, Piggly Wiggly, Winn Dixie, Publix, Bi-Lo

(This is the website I use for my Dillon’s store. I have to remember that the sales she lists go from Sunday through Saturday. My sales go from that Wednesday through Tuesday. Also, the prices she lists are usually between 30 and 50 cents cheaper than at my local Dillon’s.)

Fargo -

Utah - (Albertson’s, Smiths)

Utah, Idaho, Washington, California, Arizona -

Sacramento -
Type in the grocery store you want to search (i.e., Raleys) in the search box on the left side.

General - (Click on store deals - right side of link banner across the top)
- (general Walgreens/Target, etc. PLUS Idaho)

Other Ways to Get Coupons...
I usually go to my favorite website for this area ( and click on the coupon links that are embedded in the grocery ads they have listed. (Remember that most coupons can be printed TWICE from each computer.) I also get coupons this way (*NOTE* - I do not pay for any of my coupons) -

* (internet copy of the Sunday insert)
* (internet copy of the Sunday insert)
*Product websites (like Nestle or Bar-S) frequently have coupons. It's often worth a check.
*Free product samples usually come with coupons
*Recycling Center - Our recycling center saves out inserts and will give me a stack that's an inch high every time I go in. If yours doesn't do that ask if you can search through the bin they have for the high gloss newspaper recycling. It usually isn't very dirty because people take in a stack of newspapers and don't mix them in with their garbage.
*College Newspapers - When we lived in Idaho we discovered that the college there included the newspaper inserts (Albertson's ads and coupons) on the day before we got them in the regular paper. I usually drove to the school and ran into one of the buildings where I knew they had a newspaper box. Right next to the newspaper box there was a recycling bin. You'd be amazed at how many ads I could pick up out of the recycling bin. It was fabulous!!!
*Schools - Many schools use newspapers in their classrooms (I did when I taught in Utah). Check with your child's teacher to see if they do and if they have any inserts they'd be able to share with you.
*Libraries - Our library here in Pratt has a little box for coupons that they get from their copies of the Sunday paper. I regularly sort through those for the coupons I know I'll use.
*Neighbors, friends, family members, Church members - If you know people who aren't sold on couponing but still get the paper, ask them if you can have their inserts.

You can also BUY coupons on ebay and (It is illegal to sell coupons so they charge a small handling fee. I've never actually purchased coupons from either of these sites - I don't know why, I just haven't - but I have a couple of friends who have and love it! Turn around time is very quick. The coupon clippers are located in Florida so take that in consideration when you are totally up shipping time.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Couponing #1

This is the first of five (or six or seven or....) posts about couponing.

General Couponing Information

I love to coupon. I started couponing when we lived in Idaho and I could attend a group in the next town over. The group leaders would go through the grocery ads and tell us what the best deals were, where to find coupons, etc. It was definitely my style... no-brainer couponing! When we moved to Kansas this past May I couldn't find a couponing group like the one I'd left in Idaho. Then I attended a Church event that was attended by women from surrounding towns. During the course of a conversation I had with a lady I discovered that she was a supreme couponer. We exchanged emails and I've since learned how to coupon here in Kansas. The leaders of our Church strongly discourage debt. Since we move a lot we have a hard time getting rid of the debt we incur every time we move. For the past couple of months I've felt like getting rid of our debt needs to be a main focus for us. I looked into going back to teaching (first as a sub and then applying for jobs for next year) but since I'm four months pregnant and have a three year old that didn't seem like a viable option right now. I decided that if I could save enough using coupons then I wouldn't have to go to work. That's when I started actively couponing again. (Sometimes I use my "extra" food budget money to help amass a year supply of food - another suggestion from our Church leaders.)

I've come to the belief that it is possible to coupon (and save major money) anywhere you live. I've done a little research using the areas of the country where I have lived or have siblings living and have found websites that offer the same help as my couponing group in Idaho. Over the next week or so I'm hoping to be able to detail the things I've learned here because there are some who stop me in the grocery store (after they've watched me save 50% or more) and ask how I do it. I'd like to be able to refer them to this blog as an easy "how-to".

Before you get started, there are a couple of things to know...

1) It will take about three months before you really see results. The first month you'll be excited that you have a year's supply of cake mixes and salt. The second month you'll feel unbalanced and be frustrated that you only have a year supply of cake mixes, salt and cold cereal. The third month things will start to even out and you'll notice a difference. (For example, my normal food budget is $200 every two weeks. This week I was able to only spend $80 on groceries for the next two weeks. This is because I have a stockpile of staples like cream soup, pasta, spaghetti sauce and vegetables that I have purchased in bulk over the past few months.)

2) I was told to use half of my monthly out-to-eat budget to start couponing with (to use on the great sale/coupon deals). I don't have an out-to-eat budget. We live in a small town that doesn't have a lot of restaurants. Also, IF we go out to eat it's a drive-thru experience on our way to another town to do shopping or something. I decided that I could spare $30 a month (or sometimes a pay period) to use on the smoking deals.

3) Know that about once every quarter (3 months) every item in the grocery store will be at it's highest price and at it's lowest. If you know (about) what the "usual" price is then you can be aware when the prices hit bottom. The key to getting the biggest bang for your buck (or the most stuff for your buck) is to use the coupons when the items are on sale.

4) There are many websites out there that give tips and tricks to super-size your couponing. The two I like the best are It's Hip 2 Save and Pinching Your Pennies. Both sites list lots of offers and great deals. If you subscribe they will send you emails every evening telling you of the deals they found that day. Also, on Hip 2 Save she has a lot of great how-to videos (look on the right sidebar of her blog). I highly - HIGHLY - recommend watching those videos. They are about 10 minutes each.

5) Use your coupons on sale items to get the biggest bang for your buck. Stores will allow you to use a manufacturer’s coupon AND a store coupon on the same item. That is called stacking. For example.... Say I am going to buy a box of Cheerios that usually costs $4 but is on sale for $2. I have a $1 manufacturer’s coupon that I got out of the newspaper insert (or printed online). I also have a 50 cent coupon that I cut out of the grocery store ad (store coupon). I get the $4 box of Cheerios for only 50 cents!!! That’s a savings of 75%.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kissable Lips

In honor of Valentine's Day, here's my tip.....

In order to have your lipstick stay on all day (and I mean ALL DAY) here's what you do...
1. Apply lipstick
2. Apply a thin layer of face powder
3. Reapply lipstick
4. Blot

I'm serious, this really works. Your lipstick will stay on all day and all night!

(I really do have plans to keep this blog updated and have many posts "in progress". Because of pregnancy issues, illnesses, vacation and overall exhaustion, they just haven't made it to the "publish post" stage yet. Stay tuned....)