Saturday, April 19, 2014

Costco Time!

I was off on Friday (Good Friday) and figured I better utilize that day to hit Costco ... certainly did not want to do it on Saturday, that's for sure! Of course, it appeared everyone else had the same exact mindset as me ... mad house!

I had a list. Pretty specific. A few things were not picked up ... and imagine my sticker shock at limes. Wow. $9.99!! Then I remembered that I just saw a news piece about "liquid gold" and it was in reference to limes. First it was the lemons that went sky high and now it's limes. (FYI ... lemons were $6.99). So buying the big bag of limes led to the following purchase:

3 large Golden Margarita Mix for $9.99 less $2 each ... ummm, yes, it's a lot, but Cinco de Mayo (my Birthday!) is coming and so are summertime pool parties ... not to mention, this stuff is better than the REAL Golden Margarita stuff and it's half the price ... tequila already mixed in and tasty on it's own!

Total spent: $25.41. Well, not really, that was the liquor store...after I bought the following:

2 pack fresh French Baguettes $4.99 I'm such a sucker for fresh bread ;-)
1 lb of organic romaine mix $4.79
6 pk of organic basmati brown rice $11.39 (for the Boy ... these run $4.99 a package at the store)
1 lb cooked bacon strips $12.79 (price increase again)
5 lbs of frozen Italian meatballs $15.89 (whew, that got pricey)
2 10 lb bags of flash frozen chicken breast $22.99 each bag
wedge of Parmesan Reggiano $17.35
bag of frozen organic cherries $12.99
bag of power greens $4.99
3 cartons of protein bars $17.99 less $4 each (these are Hubby's favorite and I want him to keep some in his desk at work)
Wedge of Romano cheese $13.04
spiral sliced ham $19.44 less $3
bag of lemons $6.99
large bag of tortilla chips $3.99
container of smoked fish dip $9.89
6 pk of baby romaine heads $4.29
package of raw tortillas (been watching for these!) $5.89
6 pk of large romaine heads $3.99
wedge of blue cheese $7.46
54 pk of starbucks coffee kcups $33.99 (tired of hearing Hubby gripe about the coffee)
bag of frozen strawberries $8.99
24 pk of clif bars $19.89 (for the Boy)
2 1/2 pound container of salted cashews $15.49
2 containers of half and half $1.99 each
bag of limes $9.99
3 pkgs of beef jerky $14.49 less $3.50 each
bag of chocolate covered cherries/blueberries/pomegranates $8.99
large bag of trail mix $12.69
2 packages of ciabatta rolls $5.99
bag of rice works chips $5.39

Total spent (after my $16.00 cash card for the chicken thighs I returned) $410.66.

Yes. Really. I think I will try to avoid the store for the next week or two ...

Frugal Activities #13

I really like doing this post weekly as it keeps me accountable and does make me think twice about some things  ... of course, I do not live a wholly frugal life and I also disclose some of the NOT so frugal activities too!

It's so nice having Hubby back to work ... and I am honestly trying to figure out how we can reduce our expenses to start paying down the mortgage ... I figure I can toss another $200 a month of MY wages to the pot to offset the principal balance ... but we first need to get a payoff statement (not what the monthly statement shows) ... unfortunately, we are in the awkward transition to Greentree Servicing which means that neither Citi or Greentree will really have any current information to offer us ... they still haven't taken the regular mortgage payment out this month (um, hi, it is normally the 2nd of the month when it's done) ... I told Hubby to brace himself when he calls to inquire.

I also was looking at the taxes and insurances for the year. $20,000. YES. That's a LOT. We will most likely be getting rid of my Tahoe soon as Hubby has a company car again, and I just can't be the house with 6 cars in the driveway, 8 when the b/f and g/f are over ... good grief. We don't need 4 cars between Hubby and I ... so off goes the Tahoe. I'd like to get rid of a 2nd car but that would mean either Brutus (for towing the boat) or the Hemi ... and Hubby is not ready to part with either. Of course, that means I'll be driving the Hemi and that car scares the snot out of me. Uggg.

Here are some of the Frugal Activities we did this week ...

1.  Pulled the pool cover off on Saturday and read a (free from friend) book while floating on 4 year old raft (yes, it's lasted 4 years!)

2.  Hubby and I both spent 4 hours on the boat late Saturday afternoon trying to finish up the detailing ... I handled the vinyl trim work and he did the brite work (stainless stuff). Not exactly my favorite thing to do but we were both in the right frame of mind and talked, laughed and just had fun for those 4 hours ... we finished the job and were thankful that we tackled it! It really is nice to work side by side and enjoy each others company ... we couldn't always say that!

3.  Opted NOT to order pizza after working on the boat ... instead grilled up the last (I think) package of chops from the freezer and made a package of quick cook noodles that were floating around in the pantry. 

4.  Cooked up the big package of ribs (in the crock pot!) that had been hanging out in the freezer ... this will make my upcoming freezer inventory project a little easier as it was hard moving stuff around the long package!

5.  Cooked up one of the two whole chickens in the freezer, making it a little easier to clean and inventory that freezer too ... except THEN I went to Costco ...

6.  Fed my Aunt, Uncle, 4 young adults and Hubby and I with stuff from the freezer and pantry. We had one batch of the red sauce left so we did a big spaghetti dinner ... thankfully I also had some decent wine in the wine rack so 3 of those bottles are gone now too ...

7.  Did two stops at Publix to get some good sale items with coupons, both times I saved just as much, if not more, than I spent. Utilized the $5 off $30 coupons on both occasions, with the cashier allowing me to use 2 of them both times (one order was over $100 before coupons, other was over $60 before coupons).  Should have been good to go but then I hit Costco on Friday.

8.  Returned the chicken thighs to Costco and got a store credit of $16.00. No questions asked.

9.  Picked up 3 (!!) bottles of the Golden Margarita from Costco ... $9.99 less $2 each bottle ... couldn't pass that deal up with Cinco de Mayo (Birthday!) and summer pool parties coming up, you know?? ;-)

10. Picked up eggs at Target for 99 cents per dozen.  I got 6 total. Wishing I had bought more now as we are down to 4 dozen after boiling 1 dozen for the deviled eggs for Easter Sunday.

And of course, full disclosure of some of our NOT so Frugal Activities ...

1.  Costco! Need I say more? I did stock up on chicken breast and returned the $16 worth of thighs ... but still ... $410.00 ... uggg. I think I will avoid the grocery store for the next few weeks ...

Other than that, I can't think of any other not so Frugal Activities ... yeah!

Monday, April 14, 2014

South Florida Cubanos - What's For Dinner

Living in South Florida has certainly exposed me to more foods than living in the small town in the Midwest. One of the things that surprisingly enough I love, is the pork sandwich, Cuban style, or, Cubanos. These have things that I normally do NOT care for in eating, such as mustard and pickles (bleck) but I can, and do eat them in a Cubano without a second thought. That says a lot, trust me!

This is a great way to use up leftover pork ... but in my case, I almost always make sure I have extras so I can make Cubanos ... and using a Panini press that I got dirt cheap is even better! (I gave the one from Aldi's to the Boy when he went away to college ... shortly after, Costco had one pretty cheap)

Loaf of cuban bread (or French - I used this, italian, whatever hearty stuff you have)
cooked pork. sliced thin
cooked ham, sliced thin
pickles, sliced thin (I used hot and spicy dills)
swiss cheese (or any other cheese you have on hand)

Such humble beginnings to create a great sandwich!

Cut bread in half and then open up long ways. Lay flat and butter the outside of bread.
For easier loading up, I layer (on a plate) a slice of cheese, a few slices of ham, some pork, more cheese and then pickles. That way, when you set the bottom piece of bread on the pan (buttered side down), squirt some mustard on the bread, set your pre-stacked meat on, and then add the top piece of bread (butter side up). Just makes it so much easier, in my opinion.

Stacked and ready to put on bread

IF pressing (which you should), close lid, carefully as everything can (and will) spit out the sides! Cook til cheese is melting and the bread has a nice firm toasty-ness to it.

Slice in half on the diagonal, stand back and admire and then serve.

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTalking Tuesday Over the FenceTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsFrugal Tip Tuesday Tuesday Talent ShowTiny Tip TuesdayFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip TuesdaysFrugal Tuesday TipShow Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Recipe Swap,Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWonderfully Creative Wednesdays Whatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThrifty 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 hopTGIF BLOG HOP,Weekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayFriday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie Friday, The Party Bunch InspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend Creative,Weekend 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 MondayDinner Time RecipesShow Me What You GotMade By You MondayHunk of Meat MondaySweet Sharing Monday,What’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterMotivated MondayTime To SparkleMealtime MondayWhats In The Gunny SackMakin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money Monday,Simple Supper Sunday

Week 68 Menu Plan - Using What We Have

I'm starting to think of drastic ways to decrease our spending ... just the other day I calculated we spend $16,000.00 a year on insurance and real estate taxes. The insurance is for the 3 vehicles, the hazard, wind and flood insurance. The taxes is on the house. I didn't even calculate the boat insurance since Hubby deals with that himself ... but I think that's around $3800 a year ... so really, TWENTY THOUSAND dollars a year just for insurance and real estate taxes.

YES. We have a serious problem in South Florida. The insurance industry so needs to be overhauled down here ... we have no choice for the wind insurance which runs around $3800 or so a year with a $10,000.00 deductible. If I didn't have a mortgage, I wouldn't have to have it, let alone insure it for the amount they (insurance company) deems is necessary to rebuild the house should a hurricane come through.  Not that I would go without insurance. But at least I could say I only want to be insured up to $200,000 instead of the mandated $500,000 (I think it's $650,000 this year). Uggg.

Ok ... enough of that ... just sharing some of the things that have been really opening my eyes ... not to mention the cost of food and gas ... I am just appalled that milk is $4.39 now. Really. Eggs? Walked right by them as I'd rather get EXTRA LARGE good eggs from Costco instead of the tiny things offered at the local grocery store. Although, Target does have them on sale for 99 cents a dozen so I might just swing in there and pick up 5 dozen or so. But back to my rant:  $4 for a loaf of whole wheat bread?? I'm thankful I don't eat a lot of bread and most of the family does NOT mind the cheap stuff from Aldis!

Ok Ok ... sorry, I'm hitting one of my extreme frugal stages (they come and go around here) ... so we are looking at the following eats this week:

Sunday - Ribs in the crock pot ... Hubby will make a batch of baked beans and I'll make a small batch of coleslaw (ribs from freezer, thankfully, baked bean ingredients in pantry and coleslaw from fridge)

Monday - Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches ... skipped this last week. All ingredients in fridge and pantry (Hubby will be on his own with the kids because I'm taking my aunt & uncle to see my dad, this will be a huge surprise, 25 plus years since they've seen each other last ...)

Tuesday - Spicy Chicken and Cabbage Stir Fry (using the smart chicken from freezer and bag of coleslaw from fridge)

Wednesday - I'd like to make Chicken Enchiladas for dinner ... plan to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot on Tuesday to shred for tonight. This will remove a big hunk of meat from the freezer, yahoo! Rest of ingredients in pantry and fridge!

Thursday - I'm off today and tomorrow! Woohoo. Costco should be on the schedule today ... looking to make Chicken Chili ... still have not put the recipe up! Working on that today! Chicken from freezer (if I have leftover chicken from the crock pot, I'll use that!) balance of ingredients in pantry and fridge

Friday - I'm thinking my Aunt and Uncle from Arkansas will want to do something so I'm leaving this open for dinner out

Saturday - Hubby's choice ...being that tomorrow is Easter Sunday, I'm hoping for something simple and not a lot of leftovers!

What are YOU cooking up this week?  Go check out Menu Planning Monday for more ideas!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Frugal Activities #12

I really like posting this on a weekly basis (sometimes I miss that goal!) as it keeps me accountable and does make me think twice about some of the things that pop up!

It's been an odd week ... I don't know what it is but I've just been really out of sorts ...

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

1.  Hubby needed more white dress shirts ... hard to find in the stores so he went online, found some for $24.00 each in the size he wanted. Free shipping which kept me out of the mall, therefore, frugal!

2.  Made my salad dressing for the week

3.  Made another batch of mayo

4.  Put off my Costco trip again ... seriously, I could probably just stay OUT of Costco, but it drives me nuts to pay the prices in the grocery store for certain things when I know Costco has the same item way cheaper. PLUS ... they have the best spiral sliced ham and I want to pick one (or two?) up for Easter ... I will most likely go on Thursday since I took off that day and Good Friday ...

5.  Paid all my bills for the month online. I'm pretty stoked that its not even the 15th and everything is paid for.  I need to move money to the Orange account, but I have wind storm, hazard and flood insurance coming due in the beginning of May ... not sure how long it takes to transfer the money back so I think I will have to just let the funds sit in my checking account for the time being.

6.  I did hit up the grocery store twice this week. Publix had the Purdue Simply Smart chicken on sale. I had coupons so picked up 6 bags total ... 2 of the bags rang up at the wrong price $8.99 each AND they didn't do buy one get one free. I got BOTH free with the Publix Promise ... those of you who shop Publix need to remember that!

And of course, here are some of our NOT so Frugal Activities:

1.  I left the office TWICE for lunch this past week and did a drive through at McD. Really. Not sure why I felt the need to do so, other than the fact that it got me out of the office. I parked at a nearby park and ate sitting on a bench.

2.  Met Hubby for lunch on Friday at a local joint ... uggg, lunch was $38 for a so-so meal. I even had ice water ... I don't suppose we will do lunch there very often in the future!

I think that's it for my non-frugal activities which is more than enough!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rival Chicken Wings

For years, I wouldn't go NEAR a chicken wing ... it was actually pathetic ... I'd get wide eyed and wave my hands in front of me "no, no, I don't want any, thank you very much" ...

Then Hubby got his turkey fryer out one night and made about 100 lbs of wings. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it was more than 5 lbs ... it was A LOT.  And they came out so crispy and yummy, that I tentatively bit a small piece off a flat and that was the end of my anti-wing days.

To this day, though, I'm fairly picky about them. I don't like them fatty, super moist inside, chewy or overly sauced. I prefer NO breading, just cook them naked ...

Yes. I can be difficult, I know.

So when we had the wings at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza all those years ago when Sonny Boy graduated from high school, I thought I died and went to heaven ... not sure what sold me more, the focaccia and caramelized onions, or the super crisp chicken wings that were not fried.  However, being frugal, these have not made that much of an appearance in my life as they aren't cheap ... 

So when the local paper had a recipe, you better believe I gave it a try!

I'm so glad I did ... and you will be too!

NOTE: Next time, Hubby wants to try and do them on the charcoal grill ... I agree, I think that might just set these over the top!

Here's how I did it (original recipe can be found here)

8 lbs (2 4 lb bags) of wings, cut in sections
1/4 cup chopped garlic (you are prepping your garlic in mass quantities, right?)
4 tbs Italian seasoning (dried)
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons total)
generous dash of black pepper

Rinse wings and pat a little dry to remove excess liquid. Toss them all into a LARGE glass or plastic bowl.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.

Dump marinade over the wings.

Grab a rubber glove, put on you dominant hand (try not to snap it so those around don't give you that funny look).

Mix up the wings with your gloved hand. It's just way easier than trying to stir them up and honestly, the raw chicken and oily marinade was too much for my bare hand ;-)

Grab a showercap.

Cover with your showercap and stick in the fridge for 24 hours.

Make sure you visit the wings occasionally and give them a toss so the ones swimming on the bottom can come up for some air occasionally.

After 24 hours have gone by (but really, no longer than that), spray a large baking tray (you will need 2 total to cook all these) with pam (I skipped this part and was so very sad I did) and lay out the wings in a single layer.

Preheat the oven to 475 while the wings warm up a little. Bake them for 30 minutes and flip them and cook for another 20 minutes.

My wings were large ... and we like them well done. Therefore, 50 minutes was good as opposed to the original time of 25 minutes. Either that, or my oven is way off, which I don't think so!

And yes, next time, I will make the caramelized onions to go along side ...

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, Memories, Tuesdays At Our Home, How To Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Making a Home, Show Me The Goods, Talking Tuesday Over the Fence, Totally Tasty Tuesday, All My Bloggie Friends, Frugal Tip Tuesday Tuesday Talent Show, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, The Gathering Spot, Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays, Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Show Me What Ya Got, What's Cooking Wednesday, Its a Party!, Recipe Swap, Works For Me Wednesday, Sugar and Spice, Wake Up Wednesday, Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays Whatever Goes Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Real Fun, What I Whipped Up, Work It Wednesday, Lovely Ladies, Weekly Creative, Domestic Superhero, All Things Thursday, The Weekly Creative, Tasty Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Crafty Thursday Obsessions, Frugal Food Thursday, Showcase Your Talent, Thrifty ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Foodie Friday, Get Real Frugal Friday, Frugal Fridays, Food on Friday, Freakin Did It Friday, Feature Friday, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Friday, Friday Favorite, Foodie Friday, A peek into my paradise, Foodie Friends Friday, Fun Friday blog hop, TGIF BLOG HOP, Weekend Retreat, What’s Shakin, Weekend Wonders, Weekend Potluck, Get Him Feed Anything Goes, Dwell on Fridays, Friday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link Party, Foodie Friday, Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie Friday, The Party Bunch,  Inspirations, Weekend WanderWeekly Roundup, Feature Yourself Saturday, I Gotta Create, Show and Tell Saturday, Show Off Weekend, Show Stopper Saturday, Sweet and Savory, The Weekend Creative, Weekend Potluck, Will Cook For Smiles, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Saturday Show & Tell, Super Saturday Show & Tell, Say G'day Saturday, Not Bad Sunday, Potluck Party, Sunday Showcase, Savory Sunday, Sundae Scoop, Super Sunday, Mop It Up Monday, Creative Monday, The Scoop, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Dinner Time Recipes, Show Me What You Got, Made By You Monday, Hunk of Meat Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, What’d You Do This Weekend, Marvelous Mess, Making It Cuter, Motivated Monday, Time To Sparkle, Mealtime Monday, Whats In The Gunny Sack, Makin You Crave Monday, Clever Chick, Creative Corner Blog Hop, Make Your Own Monday, Mix it Up Monday,  Save Money Monday, Simple Supper Sunday