Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cookbooks on Loan

I have a confession to make. I love cookbooks. New, old it doesn't matter. I do prefer the ones with all the pretty pictures but look at the others too. I probably own no less than 100 cookbooks.

I use to purchase cookbooks for one or two recipes that looked good. Now, I borrow cookbooks from the library for 6 weeks at a time. If Jessica and I use it a lot and love the recipes, I will purchase a copy for our home collection. If we don't like it then we have saved ourselves $15 to $25.

The library is one of the best sources I know of for trying new cookbooks. This really works well to keep my home library under control.

Have you ever bought a cookbook and wished you hadn't? Now, try before you buy. It works for me.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not Chasing The Deals

It has really been a slow couple of weeks for deals. We have been mostly living off our stockpile this month. I have only been purchasing meat, produce, milk and bread. There have been a few deals that have been worth picking up on my regular shopping trips.

Oikos Greek individual yogurts are on sale for $1 at Kroger. The sale ends 01-27-10. There is a $1 off coupon in the 01-03-10 SS insert. My daughter loves this yogurt and it cost a lot more than $1 normally. With the coupon they are free. When you buy one or more a $1 off catalina prints for your next purchase of this yogurt. I don't know what the end date is for the catalina. I purchased these individually at self checkout and used the coupon on the next one. 8 free yogurts later, I have a very happy daughter. We like the honey flavored one with a little cinnamon mixed in over top of sliced strawberries and sliced bananas. Yummmm.

Today I stayed home to catch up on some housework. I also put a whole chicken in the crock pot on top of a bed of onions, garlic, and celery. I didn't add any water. I will pull the breast and thigh meat off the bone and chop up to use this weekend. We will be having chicken and dumplings Saturday and pizza on Sunday. After I remove the meat, I will add water, carrots and a bay leaf to the crock and cook overnight. This makes really good stock and it freezes well.

My son's birthday is Sunday and he would like a new pair of tennis shoes. He is going to be 13 and wears a size 10. So today, I looked in the Entertainment Guide for a Shoe store coupon. I found one for Finish Line, $10 off $60 purchase. I won a $50 Visa gift card from a radio station. Those two items will help make what is usually an expensive purchase much cheaper. I love being able to give my kids what they want at a greatly reduced out of pocket cost. I will also be using coupons from the guide for Main Event USA for him and two friends to bowl and play laser tag for his birthday. That will be another $30+ savings from this book.

When I picked my daughter up from school, I stopped at Kroger to get gas. I got 10 cents off per gallon for a total savings of $2.20.

I also did my usual searches using SwagBucks. I use the swagbucks that I earn to purchase my e-gift cards. There are many rewards to choose from but my favorite is the e-gift cards. For every 45 swagbucks you earn you can purchase a $5 e-gift card. I let my husband use $25 worth to reduce the price of new running shoes that he needed. He just ran a marathon this past Sunday and those shoes are ready to be retired. They have over 400 miles on them. SwagBucks is just one more way that we are able to reduce our families expenses. I am now saving my gift cards to help with the purchase of a new faucet for our kitchen sink. I have $65 dollars saved so far. If you are interested in earning free rewards, for doing your normal searches, you can sign up for SwagBucks by clicking on the banner to the right in my sidebar. You will receive 3 swagbucks just for signing up. We will both receive swagbucks for your first 100 swagbucks earned from your searches. If you have any questions about SwagBucks leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.

So even when I'm not chasing deals at the stores, I am saving my family money in other ways.

What are some of the ways that you save money for your family?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Know Your Pantry

Last night, we made the Chicken Salsa Chili on our menu plan. While putting the ingredients in the dutch oven, we realized that there were no red kidney beans in the pantry. Jessica(my daughter) remembered that we had a can of black beans and suggested that we use them instead.

I never would have strayed from the recipe in the past. Having a daughter who likes to cook has taught me a lot. Now when we open a can of green chilies, we use what we need and put the rest in a baggie in the freezer. When we have another recipe that calls for green chilies, we break off what we need.

We used medium salsa in the recipe. We left out the crushed red pepper. We used three packets of True Lime instead of lime juice. Next time we make this recipe, we will use 6 packets. We also added 2 cups of sliced baby carrots.

The chili was really yummy. My daughter had never eaten hominy and informed me that she really likes it.

The next time you're making a recipe and don't have an ingredient, check in your pantry or fridge for a substitution. Having a well stocked pantry is what works for me.

Are there any tips you use in the kitchen to save money? Please feel free to leave a comment. I love hearing from everyone and read all my comments.

This post is linked to: Works For Me Wednesday

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Tilapia w/Avocado Salsa

I decided to try a new recipe with a refreshing salsa. We have been enjoying a lot of heavy comfort food with the cold weather. I have been missing our summer menu and wanted a little reminder that winter won't last forever. Avocados have been on sale here and we love them. So, this week we will be making a Tilapia with Avocado salsa and serving it with a cilantro and lemon rice. I think in addition to the food, we will put on some island music and forget about the cold outside. I hope some of you will join us for a small vacation from winter.

Tilapia with Avocado Salsa


1/2 yellow pepper, chopped

12 grape tomatoes, cut in quarters

1/3 c. cucumber, diced

1/3 c. red onion, diced

small handful or as much as you like of cilantro, chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 small jalapeno, diced

1/2 tsp salt

1 avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes


4 tilapia fillets

2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, stir together the first 8 ingredients of the salsa. Add in the avocado and stir gently to combine. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Turn broiler on to preheat while you prepare the fish, set rack 4" from heat. Rub olive oil on fish and season with salt and ground cumin. Cook fish 5 to 6 minutes, until it flakes easily.

Serve fish topped with salsa and a side of Lemon and Cilantro Rice.

Lemon and Cilantro Rice:

Grate the zest of one lemon into a sauce pan. Add the juice of half the lemon. Next, put 1 cup of rice into the pan and 2 cups of water. Cook rice like you normally would. When the rice is done, put 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro on top of rice and fluff with a fork.

I hope you and your family enjoyed this little break from the cold winter outside.

And for more ways to tempt your families to enjoy dinner at home, visit "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday".

Please feel free to share any ways or recipes you use to escape from winter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

I am finally ready to get back into the swing of things. Christmas is now a memory and life is moving forward. The post holiday sales have slowed down to a trickle and life is a little less crazy.

I love menu planning. It gives me a great sense of peace knowing that my meals are planned. All I have to do is execute the plan. Things don't always go smoothly. However, having a plan is better than just winging it. It helps cut down on the urge to grab something at the drive-thru. It also helps with our budget.

If you have never tried menu planning, try it for one month. I garrentee that you will become a believer. One of the best ways to get started is to checkout Menu Plan Monday. You'll be able to see what others are making, and use a few of their planned days on your menu plan. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. I often checkout other blogs and link to their recipes. I go to Menu Plan Monday and choose a couple of recipes others have on their list. Then, I pick a few of my families favorites. Voila, my menu plan is finished.

Here is my menu plan for this week.

Monday-Tilapia with Avocado Salsa, Lemon and Cilantro Rice (I will post this recipe tomorrow)

Tuesday-Chicken Salsa Chili and cornbread

Wednesday-Crockpot Honey Lentils, brown rice and pears

Thursday-Breakfast for Dinner

Friday-Porkchops w/Mushroom Gravy over bowtie pasta

Saturday-Chicken and Dumplings, side salad

Sunday Supper-Homemade Pizza

We are really looking forward to try the new recipes that we found. I think the one that is most anticipated is the Tilapia with Avocado Salsa.

If you are looking for inspiration this week, you can visit the Menu Plan Monday link at Org Junkie.

If you have just started menu planning and have questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Sicilian Tuna Salad

Well, that certainly was a long blogging break. I have to say, "I have really missed my blogging." The Christmas season is always a busy time for my family. I try to slow down a bit and spend as much time as I possible can with them. My son and daughter are both teenagers now and will be grown and gone before I know it. I am really struggling with that.

In an attempt to get on a blogging schedule, I am going to be linking up with other blogs that I find interesting and helpful. I hope you will find a few new favorites as well. My first link this month is "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday" over at Blessed with Grace.

I'm re posting my version of Sicilian Tuna Salad to get started. I know a lot of you have tuna stockpiled and this will give you something a little different.

Sicilian Tuna Salad

12 oz. of tuna (close as you can get with what you have on hand)

1 Roma tomato, diced

2 green onions, sliced or a little chopped onion

12 black olives, sliced

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella or 1 cheese stick chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 to 3 tbsps of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Drain the tuna if using canned tuna. Put tuna in a large bowl and flake. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until everything is distributed throughout.

I love this salad on a croissant but Jessica loves it on whole wheat bread. What's your favorite bread for a tuna salad sandwich?

For more yummy recipes, hop on over to Blessed with Grace for "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday".