Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Margarita-ish Grapes

I've really been trying to eat healthier AND cut down on food waste around here. Yes, sometimes I DO overbuy and other times, though much more rarely, I under buy.

My #1 problem? Fruits. And veggies. The veggies simply because I have all these great ambitions and then run out of time (or desire) to prepare them the way I had intended.

The fruit, on the other hand, is simply because some days I just don't want fruit ... and then the damn kids, well, they are off and living their own life most of the time, so I can't always count on them to help me eat up the stuff.

Grapes, in particular. I love grapes, but I'm pretty picky about them. No squishy ones please. TIP: buy when the stems are GREEN as they are still fresh then ... doh, I didn't know that for years!

So  I had this box of grapes in the fridge that were actually a food gift from one of the vendors we do a lot of business with at work. They bring in sweets (cupcakes, cookies, etc.) and I've begged them to stop bringing that stuff. So then they started bringing healthier things in addition to the sweets. Like grapes, almonds, strawberries, etc. This week was grapes.

And what luscious grapes they are! Boss-Man said they must be on steroids or something as they are HUGE and FIRM. Just the way I like them ... and please, do keep your minds out of the gutter til we are done with this post ;-)

Now this is NOT my idea ... but rather a gal that goes by the Instagram handle of Amazon_Ashley and she has been posting tips like freaking crazy for the Whole30 community over there ... and this just slapped me in the face ... so off I ran to the kitchen!

Grapes ... I had green and red so I mixed them up
Limes ... you will only need the juice (I only used one)
sea salt ... next time I will try the pink Himalayan sea salt


Wash grapes well and take off stems. Dry.

Wash limes and cut in half. Glad I only cut one as that's all I needed!

Lay grapes out in a shallow dish and squeeze all the lime juice out of limes over the top.  Lightly sprinkle with salt (I went overboard on my first mini test batch).

Go ahead, pop one in your mouth to taste. What do you think?

Grab some little baggies (I used those cheap foldtop sandwich bags that I picked up for packaging chicken) and toss a handful in to each bag. Feel free to sample another grape or two while you fill all the bags up.  Twist top close, toss those bags in a ziploc and toss that in the freezer.

Wait (patiently) an hour or so and grab one of the little bags. Open up, do the toss trick and catch the grape in your open mouth (yeah! you did it! Not me, always miss so I won't be doing this!) and think, ohhh...this would be good in a little tequila.

Seriously, they are good all by themselves, which is how I ate them ... and I'm thinking that this is going to be my new go-to snack for the boat! Who needs salty potato chips??

Go ahead, give them a try ... I'm glad I salvaged the grapes that were fast approaching non-edibleness to my picky palate ...

Looking forward to sharing with some of these great parties ... make sure you check them out! Show Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayFoodie FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFood on FridayFreakin Did It FridayFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseFoodie Friends FridayFun Friday blog hopFriday FavoritesTGIF BLOG HOPWeekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayTGI Friday Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayThe Party BunchI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSuper Saturday Show & TellSay G'day SaturdayNot Bad SundayPotluck PartySunday Showcase Sundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth MondayPin It Party Made By You MondayHunk of Meat Monday What’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterTime To SparkleMealtime MondayTime To Sparkle, Makin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayLou Lou GirlsInspire Me MondayIn and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsShare Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip Tuesdays 


Monday, September 29, 2014

DIY - Cinnamon Vodka

You all know that I am NO longer allowed to drink Fireball, right?  Apparently, if I drink it too late in the night, I tend to drink MORE and then I get all pukey ... not a good thing by any one's standards, trust me.  The thought of Fireball makes me shudder now.

Any way.

Vodka, on the other hand ... well, that certainly got Hubby's attention ... and then we were thinking, ahhh, Indiana in the winter ... how comforting! Maybe? I don't know.  All I DO know is that I made this in a small batch (Hubby wanted a whole bottle's worth!) to make a apple cider grown up drink and I'm hooked now!  I do wish I had made a double batch as this lasted one evening!



It's easy to make and remember, the longer you let it sit, the hotter it will be!

1 cup vodka (seriously, I always say go with a better quality when it comes to booze)
1 cinnamon stick (courtesy of Aldis!)
1 tsp sugar

Put the vodka in a pint size canning jar. Add the cinnamon stick and sugar. Put the lid on it and stash in the cabinet. Allow to sit for 24 hours ... or longer. Just remember that it will get hotter as time goes on.

The sugar will dissolve within an hour or so and the vodka will turn colors as the cinnamon is infused ... after 24 hours, stick the jar in the freezer so it's nice and chilly before drinking.

I'm thinking this just might be on my list of DIY Christmas gifts to give the adults in my life ... especially THOSE who love and still can drink Fireball ... I will convert them to a less sugar-loaded shot with no adverse side effects (as of yet!).

I am going to make a double batch this week before the girls night ... I've got some apple cider that taste especially yummy with this added!

Looking forward to sharing with some of these great parties ... make sure you check them out! Show Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayFoodie FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFood on FridayFreakin Did It FridayFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseFoodie Friends FridayFun Friday blog hopFriday FavoritesTGIF BLOG HOPWeekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayTGI Friday Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayThe Party BunchI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSuper Saturday Show & TellSay G'day SaturdayNot Bad SundayPotluck PartySunday Showcase Sundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth MondayPin It Party Made By You MondayHunk of Meat Monday What’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterTime To SparkleMealtime MondayTime To Sparkle, Makin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayLou Lou GirlsInspire Me MondayIn and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsShare Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip Tuesdays 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Menu Plan Week #92 - Using What We Have

It's that time of the week again ... and I'll be honest, sometimes I HATE doing a menu plan ... but I know that even if it's not followed 100%, it's going to save me money at the end of the week!

Having an idea of WHAT you have on hand to prepare for a meal keeps you from making that last minute dash to the grocery store for something to throw together quickly, or worse, doing the drive through and the $1 menu. Yikes. I keep telling myself how bad that stuff is for my body in an attempt to stay focused and eat healthier ... it works, most of the time.

So. What should I make this week? Hubby is out all this week and comes home NEXT Friday. I could so take an easy way out and make nachos and microwave popcorn BUT like I said above, I'm trying to be a little more conscious of what goes in my mouth. So, with him gone, I can make some of my favorite stand bys with avocados and mangos! Wheee!

NOTE: I am slowly STILL working my way through the pantry and freezer inventories. Make sure you check out the pages if you are curious as to what I have on hand!

Sunday - Balsamic Chicken Thighs with steamed broccoli and cauliflower (freezer) on the side. Most likely will make the Texas Toast that Hubby had bought Saturday that we forgot make! :-) The chicken thighs were from the freezer and were simply marinated for 24 hours (too long?) in 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard and a little bit of fresh chopped basil. They are really tasty and were cooked Saturday afternoon (instead of Friday night) and I had planned for this to be my protein for the week ... things changed!

Monday - Evil Jungle Salad using the leftover ribeye from Saturday night (big dinner with friends, steaks, salad with my homemade blue cheese dressing and baby taters).  Avocado on counter, mango in freezer (hopefully it will defrost ok for the salad), will skip the pasta and might need to replenish the salad supply during lunch hour. I have all the ingredients to make the dressing too ... yippee ... I'm so excited ...feeding me & Princess



Tuesday - Spinach Shrimp Salad - spinach in fridge, shrimp in freezer and will use the dressing in fridge that I picked up at Whole Foods the other day.  Feeding me & Princess

Wednesday - Burgers on the grill with blue cheese dressing over the top.  Will stop and buy 6 lbs of ground beef on Tuesday at Fresh Market (85/15 for $2.99 per pound). Will dig out a bag of fries from the freezer if the kids want. Buns in freezer. Feeding 3 to 5 (depends if boyfriend/girlfriend are here)



Thursday - Going to attempt, yet again, Chipotle Rice Bowls ... rice in pantry, cilantro and limes in fridge (for the Cilantro Lime Rice), black beans in pantry and I have some precooked beef in the freezer for the Boy and I will cook up the Omaha Steak chicken breasts in the freezer (they are so small and pathetic, If the boy chooses, I have wraps in the pantry. Hubby would laugh at me if I served them for dinner to him ;-) ... quite certain that there will be 5 eating tonight

Friday - I might make this my Costco run night since tomorrow night has BIG festivities ... if so, honestly, probably just a quick salad (or microwave popcorn) ... just being honest. Of course, I will probably have a full house of kids who will be wanting food, so I might just pick up the uncooked pizza at Costco instead of ordering out ... feeding 5 to 9

Saturday ... a few weeks ago I was to have taken a girlfriend out for dinner and then bar hopping for her birthday. Luckily, It rained all day and all that night and well, no wants to drive 10 miles in the rain to go drink at bars all night.  So I said, hey, Hubby is going to be out of town in a few weeks and we can do a girls night at the house if you prefer. Well, heck yeah. EVERYONE wants to come to my house for a girls night. Oh Oh. I've already said NO Fresh Fruit Margaritas ... so I am looking at making appetizer type things: sweet red chili chicken sticks (with chicken thighs from freezer), a greek salad (will need to buy all the veggies regardless this week), hummus (Costco) and pita chips (in pantry), chips (pantry) and salsa (making), guacamole (making) and cheese (fridge) and crackers (pantry) and possibly a small deli meat tray (will buy meat at Whole Foods and put together myself).  I'm not sure. I really wanted to make the Thai Style Shrimp or the Island Shrimp with Mango (because I just stashed 6 lbs in the freezer and radishes in the fridge!) but not sure if everyone will like it ... I still might make it anyway for lunch or something ... I don't know if I'll make ALL that or just some of that or if ANY of that stuff ... but it's stuff that I want to eat! Feeding 10 to 14 (that was the last count, not sure if the kids will be around)



I also have a lot of new recipes I want to be trying this week if not over the weekend. Hosting that party on Saturday is going to put a little dent in those plans but I am still aiming to make at least one: Tahini Chicken Salad ... I've got that jar of Tahini in the pantry and well, time to use it!

Looking forward to sharing with Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Party!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Frugal Activities #31

I really like doing this post weekly as it keeps me a little more accountable and does make me think twice about some things ;-)

Not an overly frugal week if you ask me ... but all in all, we did good.  I stopped at Aldis on Wednesday as I misread the sales paper and thought they had the boneless pork butt on sale for $1.99 that day ... doh, it's this week coming up. Mental note to stop on Wednesday, yet again!

Hubby will be traveling this week coming up and into the following week so I'm hoping to have a real frugal week coming up!

Here are some of the Frugal Activities that we did this past week:

1.  Ate all but ONE meal at home ... nothing fancy but still satisfying.

2.  Had to take my dad to the VA in Miami for his eye appointment. Basically a 3 hour road trip after the traffic jams/accidents/rain we had to deal with.  I knew that he would be looking for a quick stop for food so I was proactive and filled up 2 large water bottles and cut up a few apples and tossed these in a little cooler. Thankfully. Since when did water cost $1.50 at a vending machine? Good grief. Glad I thought ahead on this.



3.  Some might not think this was very frugal, but I do ... bought 7 pounds of shrimp, peeled, deviened and cooked for $9.99 a pound. This was from Whole Foods and was very fresh and good (unlike a lot lately that is mushy and just yucky).  6 pounds went in freezer and 1 pound was shared Friday night.

4.  Had some friends over Friday night, refused to buy anything more than the shrimp for sharing. I had cheese in fridge that I sliced up with some crackers (pantry), chips (pantry) and salsa (fridge). Had I really been thinking, I would have cut up some carrots and celery (from fridge) and made some blue cheese dressing/dip (all ingredients in fridge) but I was a little late getting home ;-)

5.  Increase my automatic weekly withdrawal from checking account to savings from $30 to $50. I wanted to do $60 but will need to wait a few weeks so it won't be noticed.  This is my "slush fund" with Capital One 360 ... I figured come the holidays, it will come in handy!

6.  I was supposed to go out with my girlfriend last Saturday but the weather was horrible and we opted to wait until Hubby is out of town and do a girls night on Saturday (coming up this week) ... stashed that cash ($200) I had set aside for that night to fund my hostess duties coming up AND grocery shopping for the week.  What I don't spend will be put in my $5 Savings Do Not Spend jar.

7.  Used cash all week. Did not use the debit card ONCE. With the boy paying me back every other week in cash, I am feeding my cash envelopes pretty consistently without having to withdraw money from the bank.  I am trying very hard to stay on a cash only budget. Even paid the house cleaner in cash. I know she liked that! ;-)

8.  I've been updating the pantry and freezer inventory pages. I have a LOT of food and hoping to eat healthier this week and avoiding the store for all except veggies ... well, I also have the Saturday night gig, but think I might have plenty to work with on hand.

And of course, the full disclosure of our NOT so Frugal Activities:

1.  Pizza night at the kids request on Thursday ... $35 with tip and leftovers for everyone on Friday.

2.  The Whole Foods stop ... I got sucked into buying some dressing which was really yummy ... 3 bottles at $3.99 each. I hid them in the guest fridge because I'm going to cringe the first time I see someone (ahem, HUBBY) drowning his salad with this stuff! I plan on using it to dress the big salads we serve (spinach, shrimp and this dressing is delicious!)

3.  The house cleaner. $120. The kids each owe me $30. Will put that money in the house cleaner cash envelope so I only have to fork out $60 next time.

4.  Beer run at Publix. $9.99 for the 9 pack Coors Light (don't drink it if the mountains aren't blue) and a 6 pk of Pumpkin head for $8.99. Both were totally not necessary but wanted. Ugg. Some of this was consumed on Friday night ...

I do see a trip to Costco in the next week or so ... I have a list that I've been writing, tp, papertowel, bath soap, dish soap, sudafed, and some food stuff (ahem, veggies). I will also probably hit up Fresh Market on Tuesday to take advantage of their Tuesday sale on 85/15 ground beef ($2.99 per pound) and fresh b/s chicken breast ($2.99 per pound). So ... it could be an expensive ending to September OR beginning of October ... depends on how you look at it. I really need to finish the freezer inventories BEFORE I go to Fresh Market ... I might have some ground beef stashed still but thought I had used the last of it recently ;-(

Looking forward to sharing with The Money Propeller and The Prudent Homemaker ... go check them both out!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Peach Buzz

Honestly, I don't know WHAT to call this drink ...



Peach Mojito? Wrong, it's made with BOURBON. And well, I don't have a particular fondness for Mojitos anyway ...

BUT, it is still the same process ... sort of ;-)

So ... as usual, it's a Sunday morning, I'm up in the kitchen, cleaning, making coffee, back in bed with the Kindle, reading, beating Level 76 of Candy Crush browsing, Hubby's still in bed, being lazy, watching, what else? FoodTV and it's Bobby Flay's BBQ Addiction ... of course!

We don't normally get drawn in to the last part of the show where he makes his cocktail ... but today? We did!  And this is what we made!

I had everything on hand, except the mint (my plant got crispified) and peaches (because none of us our peach fans) ... so I thought HEY ... lets make these for pool time later! A quick trip to the store and $10 later, I had more than enough to make these drinks (I bought 6 peaches, SO not necessary!)

Such great ideas come out of the blue!

I know peach season is coming to an end but as the ones I bought were taking a bath with the bourbon, I had a thought that maybe, just maybe, frozen, DEFROSTED peaches might be better for this in the end ... gonna have to give that a try because I promise, we will be making these again!



Here's what you need:

2 peaches
2 tbs sugar (the real deal)
handful of fresh mint plus more for garnish
2 cups bourbon (we used Gentleman Jack as Hubby's not a fan of the Knob Creek I like)
crushed ice (key word here is crushed)
Dry ginger ale

Before we go any further, let me make it clear: peaches are icky to ME and ginger ale makes me want to gag (brings back bad, bad, bad childhood memories!) and I still LOVED this drink!

Ok ... are you ready to give this a shot? Let's go!

Cut your peaches up into rough chunks.  Toss in a tall pitcher. I used this plastic thing that I dumpster dived eons ago, so it's at least 25 years old ...



Add your mint leaves and sugar.

Take a wooden spoon and start mashing the stuff to release the mint oils and the peach juice. Really, the whole idea is to "bruise everything" but really, just mash. Hubby wanted to toss in the Vita Mix but I said NO because you will not be drinking THIS stuff, so to speak.

Add the 2 cups bourbon. Give it a stir. Go ahead and sniff. Whew. Smells like straight up bourbon, huh? It's ok. Just walk away and leave it alone for 15 minutes or so. Crush your ice if your fridge doesn't do that for  you. Just leave the mixture alone. After I was done, I thought, darn, I should have let it hang out in the fridge!

After 20 minutes go by (I got distracted!), add crushed ice to a tall glass. Put a straw in NOW. Strain the mixture over the ice to 3/4 full. Top off with ginger ale.



Give a little stir and garnish with mint.

Smell.

Sip.

Smile.

Yummm...so very refreshing!!

These ARE strong! The crushed ice is key as it dilutes the drink a little, gradually so make sure you use crushed ice and not whole cubes ;-)

Enjoy and drink responsibly!

Looking forward to sharing with some of these great parties ... make sure you check them out! Show Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWhatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayFabulously Frugal ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThink Tank ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayFoodie FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFood on FridayFreakin Did It FridayFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseFoodie Friends FridayFun Friday blog hopFriday FavoritesTGIF BLOG HOPWeekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayTGI Friday Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie FridayInspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayThe Party BunchI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend CreativeWeekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSuper Saturday Show & TellSay G'day SaturdayNot Bad SundayPotluck PartySunday ShowcaseSavory SundaySundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth MondayPin It PartyDinner Time RecipesShow Me What You GotMade By You MondayHunk of Meat MondaySweet Sharing MondayWhat’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterMotivated MondayTime To SparkleMealtime MondayTime To Sparkle, Makin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money MondayLou Lou GirlsInspire Me MondayIn and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTasty TuesdaysTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsShare Your Stuff TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip Tuesdays