Monday, November 10, 2014

Are you staying frugal? Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe, too.

Here's something yummy I've been eating lately:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream
(winged it and it turned out yummy)
4oz cream cheese, softened at room temp
1/2c pumpkin, heaping
1T homemade vanilla
20drops vanilla stevia
1c hwc
1c unsw. almond coconut milk
2tsp pumpkin pie spice, heaping
1/4c & 2T xylitol

Blend all and freeze in ice cream machine.

What I've seen lately:
Yes. Snow. Today.
Yes. Cat. Eating his toenails. Daily.

Frugal doings lately:
>Dehydrated 2 heads of cabbage.
> Set aside some tip money from my second job which I will use on a day trip to several out of town shops.
> Set aside three paychecks from second job that paid the whole 6mos premium on one of our autos.
> Cut out felt shapes needed to make more Christmas gifts, will post a pic of those when finished.
> Went to a parent meeting with the driver ed. instructor and a patrol officer where we received a pen and small notepad.
> Brought home more wrappers from work that will be used to wrap party crackers. I'm also sharing some of these with brother and his wife so they can do some, too.
> Accepted a bag of apples from my employer at my second job, used some, gave the rest to brother.
> Got a coffee syrup pump for free from employer as they changed brands and no longer need them.
> Accepted 5 big jugs of dark chocolate syrup from an employer, gave 4 away, kept one for J and D to use in chocolate milk and coffees.
> Accepted individual boxes of raisins from work that J can take with to work for snacking.
> Used up some sour cream by making popsicles, as in previous post.
> Accepted five ears of corn from mother-in-law, which was enough for each of us to have a whole ear.
> Accepted a free large coffee from employer at second job, which I brought home for dh.
> Participated in a "simple cooking" class where we made and ate stir-fry.
> Found a package of pork chops and a giant pork roast, each with a $4 off manager's special coupon as they were nearing their freeze or use by date.
> Made a stir-fry at home and reduced the amount of meat I would typically use by about 1/4th to 1/3rd and increased the amount of veggies.
> Found enough flowers around the yard and garden to bring some indoors.
> Tied dried cornstalks from the garden to our mailbox for fall decoration.
> Dug up gladiola bulbs to save for planting next fall. Also transplanted more bachelors buttons to the rock garden that hadn't died in the garden box they were in.
> Took a couple of leftovers out of freezer and fridge, invited bro & his family to bring any leftovers they wanted gone for supper one night - potluck!
> J and D picked a box of crabapples for me to make applesauce and dehydrated apple slices.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cherry Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Popsicles

I've made frozen treats with Greek yogurt and always found them to be a tiny bit too tart. Sour cream kept popping in my head as an alternative that could work. I'm happy to tell you - it does!

Cherry Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Popsicles
(my very own experiment, makes 7 in my small molds)
2/3c full fat sour cream
1/2c unsweetened almond & coconut milk blend
2tsp homemade vanilla
16 drops vanilla stevia
15 frozen dark sweet cherries, quartered
3T chopped dark chocolate 

Mix all. Pour into molds. Freeze. Eat. Yum.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Are you staying frugal?

What I've been eating lately:

Grilled pork chop/zucchini & squash zoodles/Chinese 5-spice carrots. Paleo Sesame Chicken on zoodles w/tomato & mozzarella.  Thai Cucumber Salad. Chopped Salad.
(Can you tell I've discovered my Spirelli again?)

What I've Seen Lately:

The purple flowers are striped hollyhocks - they're beautiful. Dad planted them between the corn and zinnias. They're single stalks about 4-5ft tall. Second pic is of garlic in its second year that I'd planted from seed from an online friend. It was supposed to be ready for harvest this fall. I dug out three that look like this and left about 8 more in the ground. They look like somewhat small shallots though they smell like garlic. I'm giving them a third year in hopes of getting some large bulbs of cloves. If anyone raises garlic and is familiar with either the variety of garlic this would be or would know what may have happened so that I only got a single bulb, I'd love to hear from you. Flowers in photo below are a few I snipped from what came up out of a packet of mixed perennial flower seeds.

Frugal doings lately:
> started a second part-time job
> adding half the amount of coffee grounds to the previous used grounds to get a second pot for half the cost (our coffee maker only makes 2 & 1/2 mugs of coffee)
> signed up with the area extension office for a cooking and walking program - free exercise and free food
> made a list of another bag of items to drop at Goodwill and filed it away for tax time
> getting my recipe and ingredients together to pickle garden beets
> sold two of A's college texts

> brought home some more sandwich wrappers from work that would've been thrown out (they'll be used to wrap/make party crackers again for a game at Christmas)
> making more of an effort to include garden produce as the core of meals
> found white cotton ankle socks on clearance at Mendards for A and me, 10pk for $2, and they're nice quality
> picked basil, put it on a paper towel lined plate to dry and some is hung to dry
> picked a small amount of sugar snap peas & green beans, blanched, then froze into 3 bags for future stir-fry meals
> made up several individual meals and froze them for when A moved into her college apartment for fall semester (3 salmon patties, 2 chicken primavera, 1 teriyaki shrimp stir-fry)
> bought 6 green peppers on sale 2 for $1, chopped and froze in 3 meal size servings
> cashed in for a $5 Amazon card at Swagbucks
> it rained and refilled my nearly empty rain barrels
> received a Redbox code for a movie, watched Divergent for free
> came across another Redbox offer for a free game rental that J & D enjoyed for free entertainment
> used coupons to get 3 bottles of hairspray for about $4.25 out of pocket but also got a $5 Target gc for the purchase of 3 Tresemme products (I just ran out of hairspray, so this was perfect and will last me for at least the next year hopefully!)
> used Target Cartwheel printout and coupons to get 4 boxes of low-carb snackbars for just a bit over $1 each, normally $4.69 per box
> more a frugal for boychild, D, he spent $4 on an arcade game and won a PS4 (though it was technically my $4 and my $$ that paid for he and two friends' laser tag rounds...still a much better deal had we been really intending to buy a new system...)
> cut watermelon, saved the juice, made popsicles, which we only ate half of and tossed the rest as we didn't like them and they have too much sugar anyway (guess that's more of a frugal fail)
> made low-carb muffins with some blueberries that were nearly ready to be tossed into compost
> ordered an analog stick off of Amazon to replace a broken one on a videogame controller as opposed to buying a whole new controller - received two of them for under $3 shipped
> cut buttons from a shirt that was headed for the rag bag

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Are you staying frugal?

What I've been eating lately:

Lemon-Dill Chicken, Citrus & Beet Salad. Grilled Marinated Pork Chop, Roasted Sweet Potato, Lettuce Salad, Caprese Salad. Vanilla Mint Protein Shake.

Yeah, the oranges/beets/tomato/sweet potatoes are not really low-carb. But they are seasonal indulgences and eaten in small amounts (usually, ha ha). The coffee syrup behind the shake is actually J's, not mine.

What I've Seen Lately Snapshot:

Zinnias in the garden - what a brilliant pop of color. I love clipping them and having them on the kitchen table. Bugs seem to get pretty amorous in the raspberries - somewhere on this blog I believe I still have a pic of grasshoppers being... "romantic". Raspberries, lettuce and sugarsnap peas are the goodies going on in the garden. Last - holy cow. That's a giant mosquito.

Frugal Front Lately:

> adding up amounts to get a monthly average of what we're spending on food so that I can figure out a budget
> removed a stain from a silk tie for D for his work uniform (method below - if you're willing to take the risk)
> saved over $13 with coupons at Walmart on a $70 grocery trip
> found I was overcharged $4.64 on a separate trip to Walmart, will bring to customer service next time going there
> continuing to hang the heavy laundry items such as bottoms and shirts, towels, blankets
> framed some prints I have had for over 10 years from when I'd homeschooled A with wooden frames that cost $2 each
> borrowed the book Outlander from the library, as well as season 1 of True Detective on dvd
> sold A's dvd set of the whole series of Charmed, while not frugal for me, A will come out over $50 ahead
> putting leftovers in the freezer or to use by creating a new meal, such as a chicken hotdish made from leftover grilled chicken and leftover diced onion from a taco meal
> applied for and will be starting a second part-time job that I know I will really like at a coffeehouse

The first pic you can see what I believe is grease staining D's work tie. I looked up how to clean a silk tie and it sounded like it was not going to be too likely that I'd even be able to do so. But there were a few ideas. One was to use babypowder or cornstarch on it, let it set for a few hours, then shake or gently brush off. I tried that. It didn't work. Then I read a suggestion to use rubbing alcohol and q-tips to try to gently scrub it away and a blow dryer to quickly dry it so as to avoid a "water outline". No matter how careful I was, it kept leaving a line around the edges of where I'd cleaned, though it did seem to make the grease stain disappear. Finally, I thought, well enough fartin' around already! I dunked a cotton ball in the alcohol and just swiped it across the tie a couple of times (second picture), blow dried it, repeated about two more times... and it is now unnoticeable (pic 3)! Yeah, baby!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Low-carb Zippy Mocha Fudge Pops Recipe

These turned out so much better than I'd expected! I love it when experiments turn into something wonderful.

This recipe is one that I created based on an ice cream pie recipe out of an Eating Well magazine. A while back I'd made their recipe (well, I loosely followed it for the most part) using strawberries and rhubarb, though their recipe was for strawberries and lime. I also made my own nut crust and altered the sweetener, etc. You know how it goes if you're a fellow baker or cook. We all make changes and accommodations along the way, right?

One of their other combinations was for a mocha pie. That was what I was going to make to begin with so that I could use up the last of the Greek yogurt. But then I got lazy. I didn't want to fart around with making the crust first. I didn't want to use so much sweetener. Plus, I really did not want a bunch of slices taking up valuable real estate in my freezer. So I began to think "small scale" and ended up with these popsicles. I've made chocolate popsicles before and I wasn't certain that I'd like the Greek yogurt tang in these. I threw caution to the wind and gave it a whirl and found the yogurt gave it a little extra bite, or, zip! They also turned out creamy, with no icy crystals. Whether it was due to my tightly packed freezer or the high-fat content of the whipping cream, I can't say. All I can say is... Yum.

Zippy Mocha Fudge Pops
(makes 4 small pops)
3T xylitol
10 drops liquid vanilla stevia
1/4c heavy whipping cream
1/3c Greek yogurt
1T water
3/4T instant coffee granules, strong/dark variety
1T cocoa powder

In a mixing bowl, combine xylitol, stevia, whipping cream and yogurt. (You may want to add only the xylitol and taste before adding stevia, then adjust accordingly. I'm a sweet-head.) Set aside. In a small dish place the water, instant coffee granules and cocoa powder. (A sample size tube of instant coffee is what I used, which measured at about 3/4T.) Stir until smooth. Then stir into the yogurt mixture and blend well. Pour into molds and freeze. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Awesome Sam's Club deal!

All right, all right. First off, I will admit that I've had a Sam's Club membership in the past. I let it go when it dawned on me that we just weren't shopping there enough to justify the cost of the membership. That was years ago. Since then I have gone when they have open houses, where they don't charge the 10% upcharge, and I've gone with friends or family that have a membership. It has suited me perfectly fine. But this deal is so great that even I went ahead with it!

This is my referral link, which I surely do appreciate it if you'd be so kind to use: Sam's Club deal at Groupon

For $45 you get a one year membership AND a $20 gift card AND vouchers for deli turkey, ciabatta rolls, bean dip and an apple pie! Food items have a value of $26.23. As a reminder, make sure you read the fine print for an applicable details, such as activation information or expiration dates.

I have read that some people either received a different value gift card or they didn't receive all the food item vouchers. Please do call your local or nearest location to be sure that you are able to redeem this offer in full as it may vary slightly. Some locations do not have an onsite deli or an onsite bakery, for instance, and may offer a little more on the gift card (per the gal at our guest services counter).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reduced Sugar Honeyberry Jam Recipe

What I've Been Eating Snapshot:
Lots of eggs, of course. This was diced Spam and dehydrated spinach, two eggs, soft mozzarella and a splash of hot sauce. Yummo. Over three years later and I still love eggs in the morning, thank goodness.
The second pic is of a slice of herb-y pork roast on romaine with a little onion, bbq and pickles. I was a cheater pants and used regular bbq. I did eat another slice of plain meat and had thrown out my coleslaw as it had gotten too spicy from sitting in the fridge for two days.

What I've Seen This Week:
Below is a photo of my lemon drop evening primrose that bloomed this past week, started maybe a week and a half ago. Peonies also bloomed nearly two weeks ago and no longer appear as beautiful as the second pic below. Mostly they are just small heaps of delicate petals upon the ground surrounding the bushes.

The photo below and left is of the honeyberry (or haskap berries) bushes that Dad planted at least several years ago - there are for sure two varieties, possibly a third, planted in there. The photo to the right is a zoomed in pic so you can see the berries. They are pretty tart, though once in a while I'm surprised with a sweeter one. I'd say they are very comparable to blueberries, when considering the size and texture. I made a batch of mixed berry low-sugar jam using them. It actually came out sweeter tasting than I'd like, so I will give it another go and reduce the sweetener/sugar even more. My recipe includes sugar as it was a compromise so that other family members can enjoy it as well. I intend for the next batch to be sugarless.

Mixed Berry Jam
(reduced sugar, my own recipe, made 2 & 1/2pints)
1c honeyberries
1.5c chopped strawberries
1.5c wild blueberries (I used frozen)
1/2c blueberries (mine were frozen)
1/2c sugar
1/2c xylitol
1/3c water
4tsp lemon juice
2 & 1/2T powdered pectin

While you can make according to the directions on your pectin packaging, I merely placed all but the lemon juice and pectin into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heated so the sweeteners would dissolve. As it heated I buzzed a stick blender through it to help break down the fruits. Then I let it come to a gentle boil and added the lemon juice, stirred, added the pectin slowly, and stirred. I let it boil for about a minute, maybe two. 

I then removed the pan from the heat and ladled into my prepared canning jars and processed in a hot water bath for approximately 15mns. Your canner instructions should tell you how long to process. Mine actually stated 10mns. My canner is huge, though, and just wouldn't come to a nice boil. Hence the longer processing time and the fact that I am storing mine in the fridge - just to be on the safe side. Please do follow your canner and canning book directions to ensure a proper seal if you intend to store without refrigeration.

Frugal Front This Past & Current Week Snapshot:
>trying to do some deeper cleaning as this occupies time slots that may have me "window shopping", which inevitably leads to real shopping
>digging down deep into the freezers to find things to make meals with to cut back on grocery shopping and less wasting
>purchased a prepaid gas card for the work Jeep so that we can pay at the pump and avoid going into the gas station where we may be tempted to buy junk food and drinks
>continuing to work on homemade Christmas gifts, finishing two (photo below)
>had a paperbackswap credit to use (still have one more, I think) and received that book yesterday
>browsed our library's book sale for free entertainment, as well as checked out a Johnny Carson dvd
>picked up a printout of our auto and home insurance declaration pages so I can do a little comparison shopping
>called our dentist to see if we can get a discount if we pay cash and in full on a nearly $500 dental bill for the kids, they will take off 10%
>entered codes on Driscoll's berries site to receive printable coupons which allowed me to pick up a couple more containers of strawberries for just over a dollar a pound
>had picked up and spread grounds for gardeners from Starbucks
>corralled D and A's various face washes that have been hanging around in the bathroom and started to use them myself as they apparently get bored with using the same product over and over - ha ha
>worked on getting health insurance straightened out more and found a dentist that will take D and A as the previous dentist no longer accepts the insurance we have, hence the $500 we owe because they were wishy-washy about whether or not they took our insurance - grrr...
>found some Sevin insect dust that I'd purchased a couple years ago and used on the cabbages as I've noticed something's been nibbling on them

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cherry Almond Dark Chocolate Bark Recipe

Cherry & Almond Dark Chocolate Bark
1 - 3.5oz 85% dark chocolate bar (I like Lindt.)
1/4-1/2c dark chocolate or semi-sweet chips*
1/8-1/4tsp cherry flavoring* (I used LorAnn.)
1/4tsp almond flavoring
1/4-1/2c toasted blanched almond slivers*

Line an 8" square pan with parchment. Melt chocolates and flavorings in a double-boiler, stirring often until smooth. Remove from heat, wipe bottom of pan dry with towel so it doesn't drip, then pour into pan and spread out with spatula or back of spoon. Sprinkle almonds over top. Refrigerate until hardened, then chop or break into chunks.

*I gave a range of amounts for several ingredients because I began with the lesser amount and then adjusted to taste by either measuring out more (in the case of the cherry flavoring) or "eyeballing" it (in the case of the chocolate chips and the almond slivers).

My almonds were toasted a day prior as they were used in another recipe. I just spread them out onto a pan and kept a close eye on them as they toasted in the toaster oven. Also, this is my first time trying LorAnn Oil, the cherry flavoring that I used. I don't know how other brands compare, but this flavoring is very... intense, in my opinion. So, please, please, please taste before adding a larger amount. I paid $1 for the pictured bottle that is .125 fl oz. You can barely tell that I used any and it appears I will get years more of use from this little bottle. This was purchased from a local clinic's pharmacy check-out counter. As for the chocolate chips, you certainly could try the sugar-free ones, though I have not and do not know if it'd turn out. I imagine you could also just skip them altogether and add a little more 85% chocolate bar. However, I have a hard time enjoying it that dark.

I can't wait to try a couple other combinations. I think this would make an awesome gift for co-workers next Christmas!