Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Deconstructing a Watermelon

Whenever I walk through the produce section at Whole Foods and Publix, I'm amazed at the amount of prepackage, cut up fruit. Like really? $4.99 per pound for YOU to cut up MY fruit?

No thank you.

That's not very kind to my wallet and well, to ME, nothing beats the smell of fresh cut watermelon in the kitchen ... too bad we can't bottle it and sell it as a room freshener! We'd all be rich!

Anyway.

I do understand the fact that some people just don't want the hassle dealing with a whole melon. BUT really, the mini melons they have now days make it much more dealable!

I picked up 2 melons the other day for $5.


And I promptly cut one up on a Wednesday evening, AFTER I got home from working all day and grocery shopping.

Yup, I did.

Because, really, it's not so very difficult.

Wash melon and dry

Place on cutting board and get out your sturdiest knife. I am a big proponent of good knives ... you don't have to spend a fortune but certainly toss the dull knives ... they are more dangerous than a good sharp knife, you know? (Costco is my source for these cool knives you see in my posts, $19.99 to $24.99 for the sets and I stock up when I see them to use as gifts).

Cut off both ends of the melon




Stand on end (stand on the larger end if not uniform in size)


Start cutting away the rind. It doesn't need to be perfect unless that's your thing ;-)


Flip over to other end and finish up removing the rind


Cut in half


Cut in half horizontally (please be careful and go slow)


Cut through vertically and be amazed at the nice chunks of watermelon


Take a deep breath and say "ahhh, summertime..."

Now, we generally eat half NOW ... just toss in large bowl and the other half goes in a ziploc bag and tossed in the freezer .... stick around a few days to see what we do with the frozen chunks ;-)


How do YOU cut a watermelon? And do you buy the precut packages for convenience?

Looking forward to sharing with some of these great parties ... make sure you check them out! Wake Up Wednesday,  Instagram Blog Hop, Pin Worthy Wednesday, Wake Up Wednesday, Hump Day Happenings, Wednesday Roundup, My Stay At Home Adventures, Wonderful WednesdayHearth & SoulFluster Buster Creative Muster,  Show Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and Spice, Hump Day Happenings, Waste Not Want Not,  Wake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic SuperheroAll Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTogether on Tuesday, Tasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday Obsessions, Thrifty Thursday,  Showcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, What To Do Thursday, No Rules Weekend Bloghop, Foodie Friday, Fabulous FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFreakin Did It Friday, Pure Blog LoveFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseWeekend SocialFoodie Friends FridayCelebrate It!,  Weekend RetreatWhat’s Shakin Weekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything Goes,  Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie Friday, Foodie Friends Friday, Weekend PotluckTGI Friday Friday with FriendsSimple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend Wander,  Saturday Night Fever, A Bouquet of TalentThe Party BunchShow Off Saturday, I Gotta CreateShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff Saturday,  Super Saturday Show & TellSunday Features,  Potluck PartySunday ShowcaseSnickerdoodle SundaySundae ScoopSuper Sunday, G’Day, Sunday’s BestMop It Up MondayMerry MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth Monday, Pinch of JoyPin It Party,  Made By You MondayHunk of Meat Monday,  What’d You Do This Weekend,  Making It CuterTime To Sparkle, Inspire Me MondayMealtime MondayTime To SparkleMakin You Crave MondayClever Chick, Motivational Monday,  Mix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayMonday Funday, Anything Goes Monday, Making Monday, Lou Lou GirlsInspire Me Monday, Marvelous MondayIn and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie Friends, Retro Repin (Pinterest linkup) Share Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Two Cup Tuesday, Create, Link, Inspire, The Makers, Wow Me Wednesday, Create and Shareloa, Best of the Weekend

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Menu Plan Week 131 - Using What We Have

Hi, Hi! Do you know what today is?? Today is Menu Plan and Meal Prep Day! Sweet!

Ok, maybe it's not all that exciting but it should be! Oh, did I mention it's also the official week start of the Pantry/Freezer Challenge? Even better, don't you think?

Let's get the Pantry/Freezer Challenge out of the way first, shall we?  For the month of July, my goal is to buy ONLY produce, dairy and bread. Mind you, we don't really eat a lot of bread or dairy, but there are a few in the household who eat cereal and make smoothies with milk ... so I got to make sure they are taken care of. The bread? Well, it's only because the boat is back in the water and boating and sandwiches (and beer!) go hand in hand. Beer? Not sure yet about what I'm doing with that. I need to lay off it for awhile but not sure if the other family members will follow suit so that's up in the air still.

My goal is only spend $240 for the month of July on actual groceries, the produce, dairy and bread. I've done this before, quite a few times, and even though its easy in the beginning, I realize now that I get bored ... which is taboo for the budget! Do you realize that's only $60 a week for 4 weeks, which sounds like a lot, but really, it's not! I feed 4 to 6 people consistently with 8 to 10 being frequent. O M G. And I like GOOD food!  FYI ... I had planned on hitting Costco last Monday but the Princess convinced me that we didn't need to go ... I have $240 to spend there (cash back and gift card) so if I was smart, I'd use it instead of actual cash for July but don't know if that would really work?

I've been working on inventorying the freezers and am surprised at what we do have and don't have. And even more surprised that once Hubby heard what July is, he started pulling stuff out to make on Saturday (tbones, egg rolls and cooked beef) ...

Hubby ended up making a last minute trip to Atlanta this past week so we grabbed a bite to eat at my favorite pub last week, and then Wednesday, I was Hangry when I got home so bullied the Boy and girlfriend to stop working out(!!) and go with me to La Bambas ... so NOT necessary. Then Thursday night was on the dock drinking margaritas with two girlfriends til late late night, so not cool on a work/school night ... so needless to say, the menu plan this past week was way off!

So ... with this in mind ... here's the meal prepping I've done for the week and what I hope to get accomplished ... making a batch of the dairy free grain free ranch dressing, "boil" 8 eggs, make mayo, make tuna salad (5 cans), shred cabbages, chop lettuce, rice cauliflower. I have a lot to do, don't I?  ... AND get ready for the Pantry/Freezer Challenge ...

And here's what we are looking to chow down on the week ahead!

Sunday - Ropa Viejo  - will use a package of the cooked beef and Hubby will go to town making that with black beans and rice from the pantry

Monday - Chicken thighs and rice. Both from the MAIN freezer. I think I will aim for the Damn Fine Chicken in the crock pot ...


Tuesday - Taco Tuesday! Will stop at Fresh market and buy some beef and chicken for $2.99 a pound and use my $10 off $50 purchase. I have the balance of the ingredients in fridge and pantry, but DO need to pick up some shells ... will price them at Fresh Market but may need to swing by Aldis to pick them up at a reasonable price (along with avocados, more lettuce, eggs, etc.)

Wednesday - it's the Official Start of the Pantry/Freezer Challenge ... Ranch Pork Chops  in the crock pot ... chops in main freezer, balance of ingredients in pantry. Although Hubby might be out of town tonight. The chops I have are NOT thick cut so might need to only cook for 6 hours or so. Will serve with green beans if there are any left (that were precooked on Saturday)


Thursday - Leftovers or if Hubby is traveling, chips, salsa and guacamole. Chips in pantry, will make the salsa with fresh tomatoes (if we have any left, otherwise I'll make a quick batch in the Vitamix) and will grab a package of the guacamole from freezer.

Friday - I'm thinking simple as its a big weekend and we may have this day off ... if so, I hope we go Boating and floating and then

Saturday - Hubby is wanting to do a BBQ today since he missed out on Memorial Day ... fortunately, I have lots of protein in the freezer! Burgers, Hot Dogs, Brats and Sauerkraut ... score! Will most likely need to pick up buns ... I'm thinking of making a black bean salsa (all ingredients in pantry and freezer), an italian pasta salad (we just saw 2 boxes of the tri-colored pasta in the pantry (yes, we were both looking at stuff together) and maybe some cut up watermelon (counter top) ... and this year, going against tradition and asking guest to bring a side dish! Imagine that!  As always, will ask the guest to please bring what they like to drink and ice!

What are YOU planning for the week??

Looking forward to linking up with Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Monday party ... go check it out!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Frugal Tip #4

When times are good and your wallet is fat, it's easy to forget about the frugal things you do on a day to day basis that made that wallet fatter and the times better.



I've decided to remind myself of things that I do, or need to re-focus on doing since I seem to have been on a wave lately with extreme frugalness one month and extreme spending the next. Yes. It's true. 

I figure that if I try to practice these tips consistently and then a few things I need to get back on track, the wallet will certainly get fatter again, right?

Half the battle is recognizing a weak spot!

So here you go, Frugal Tip #4:

Shop your kitchen pantry, fridge and freezers BEFORE you menu plan and BEFORE you shop.

What, you don't menu plan?? Are you kidding me?

Ok. I know. It's not for everyone ... but I can tell you from experience, having some kind of plan does help aleviate the "whats for dinner" or "I'm tired and hungry and do not know what to make" ... at least a plan tells you what you have on hand to prepare ...

BUT ... that's not the Tip #4!

Tip #4 is to shop your own kitchen first ... I think you might be a bit surprised at what you find! I'm doing a Pantry/Freezer Challenge for July and decided Monday (the 22nd) that it was pretty much starting THAT day ... that's the day I decided not to go to Costco, even though I was within 1/2 mile of the place ... such willpower.

By skipping the store even one trip per month, you could save yourself upwards of $40 ... I know my average stop is $50 so skipping the store is beneficial to me :-)

To be even more Frugal and really on top of things, you should have a rough inventory of just what you have on hand. I'm bad about this ... I've got 2 side by side refrigerators/freezers and a over the top of fridge freezer...and all three are stuffed full. The pantry isn't much better. If I was more organized I know I could feed the family for the month. It might get a little odd at the end of the month but I know for 2 weeks or so, we could eat like royalty! I keep saying that I'm working on this, and yes, it is an ongoing project, but just once, I need to get all 3 freezers done in one day and typed up. I do have a page here of my ongoing inventory which is always about 2 months behind ... but with my Freezer/Pantry Challenge starting, I need to get focused and be done, don't you think?

Even though you might think there's nothing to cook or eat, if you get past that thought, there's plenty of things to make. It might not be what you particularly WANT at that very moment but sometimes what you WANT is not what you NEED. 

Go ahead. Open up the freezer and what do you see? Bits of leftovers stuffed in to ziploc bags? Mystery bags? Go ahead, pull a few out, put them in a shoebox and let them defrost.  Whatever it is when defrosted, that's what you are making your meal around.  The last time I did this, it was a bit of black beans and rice that were leftover from a cuban feast we had. I knew I had some pulled pork in the freezer too so I rooted around and found that and looky there, we had our dinner planned ;-)

Now, lets walk over to the pantry, shall we? What do you see in there? Canned vegetables? Grab a can and heat it up on the stove. Make it a little special and throw some seasoning in there, dehydrated onions go a long way in sprucing up a ho-hum can of green beans!

From here on out, try to make it a point to LABEL your freezer items ... start freezing a few leftovers for future meals (that does go back to Tip #1, doesn't it?). AND try to keep everything organized. Yes, I know, way easier said than done!

So, tell me, do you shop as you feel the need, OR do you shop your kitchen first? I'd like to be honest that I do, consistently, but it's not the truth ... and I've been known to buy duplicates of something that we don't use often because I didn't know I had some shoved in the back of the pantry ... and other times, I don't buy something because I would have sworn there was more in the back of the pantry.

Listen, this does not JUST apply to the kitchen! Look in your closets, drawers, craft cabinet. I challenge you to make do with WHAT YOU HAVE!! You can do it, you know you can!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kickin Grapefruit Margaritas

I seem to have re-discovered my love of Margaritas it seems with all these recipes lately!

Ahhh ... it's summertime, I'm trying to be more mindful of just what I eat (ahem, GRAINS, I'm looking at YOU) and well, Tequila IS one of the cleanest alcohols to drink if you must ;-) So Ritas are on my mind ...



Now, this one was more of a curious tasting than a "yummm, I must try this immediately" ... which is ok ... because, once again, I had everything on hand ... and you do know that I like to try and Use What We Have around here ;-) ... and man, were they ever refreshing and interesting. Glad I gave them a shot!

The key with this round of margaritas is to try and remember ahead of time that you want to make these because you want them to hang out in the fridge for a little while to do a little meet and greet because the jalapenos are going to be kicked out before the real party starts.



Ready to make yourself FOUR lovely, refreshing ‘Ritas?

1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice (yes, quality does matter. Make sure you buy the refrigerated stuff)
1 cup tequila (same as the juice, quality DOES matter and best to use clear)
1 jalapeno
½ cup Cointreau
1/3 cup simple syrup
Juice of 1 lime
1 ruby red grapefruit, half sliced, other half cut in to wedges

Let’s hop to it as this needs to sit for a little while if you have time.

Grab a glass container and pour in the juices, tequila and Cointreau. Take your jalapeno and cut in half long ways and cut in half again. I remove the seeds but it’s not overly important to do so, I just didn't want seeds floating around, you know?

Drop in your grapefruit slices (half the grapefruit), and put the glass container in the fridge to chill out for awhile.

Before serving, kick the jalapenos out of the party and toss them out.  The longer they sit in the mix, the spicier it will get.



Rub the rim of your glass with a small wedge of grapefruit, dip in salt to rim the edge of glass if desired,  add ice to the glass (gently if there is salt on the rim) and top off with the Margarita mixture.



I really really wanted to LOVE these but I only like them ... not sure if it's because of the Tequila I used (not a huge fan of that bottle, but I've got tons of tequila to be using up) or if it's the fact the jalapenos I used were not at their peak ... regardless, I'll make this again BUT will use a different Tequila (Patron) and maybe make sure my jalapenos were fresher.

*As always, please drink responsibly and DO NOT drink and drive ... call your teen, Uber or Lyft to get a ride home!

Looking forward to sharing with some of these great parties ... make sure you check them out! Wake Up Wednesday,  Instagram Blog Hop, Pin Worthy Wednesday, Wake Up Wednesday, Hump Day Happenings, Wednesday Roundup, My Stay At Home Adventures, Wonderful WednesdayHearth & SoulFluster Buster Creative Muster,  Show Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and Spice, Hump Day Happenings, Waste Not Want Not,  Wake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic SuperheroAll Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTogether on Tuesday, Tasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday Obsessions, Thrifty Thursday,  Showcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, What To Do Thursday, No Rules Weekend Bloghop, Foodie Friday, Fabulous FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFreakin Did It Friday, Pure Blog LoveFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseWeekend SocialFoodie Friends FridayCelebrate It!,  Weekend RetreatWhat’s Shakin Weekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything Goes,  Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie Friday, Foodie Friends Friday, Weekend PotluckTGI Friday Friday with FriendsSimple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend Wander,  Saturday Night Fever, A Bouquet of TalentThe Party BunchShow Off Saturday, I Gotta CreateShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff Saturday,  Super Saturday Show & TellSunday Features,  Potluck PartySunday ShowcaseSnickerdoodle SundaySundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayMerry MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth Monday, Pinch of JoyPin It Party,  Made By You MondayHunk of Meat Monday,  What’d You Do This Weekend,  Making It CuterTime To Sparkle, Inspire Me MondayMealtime MondayTime To SparkleMakin You Crave MondayClever Chick, Motivational Monday,  Mix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayMonday Funday, Anything Goes Monday, Making Monday, Lou Lou GirlsInspire Me Monday, Marvelous MondayIn and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie Friends, Retro Repin (Pinterest linkup) Share Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Two Cup Tuesday, Create, Link, Inspire, The Makers, Wow Me Wednesday, Create and Shareloa, Best of the Weekend