Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are you staying frugal?

What I've been eating lately:
Cashew crusted chicken w/veggies, chicken fajita salad, bbq ranch salad, maple walnut crusted salmon, pistachio crusted chicken salad, cauliflower crust for pizza.

Frugal doings lately:
> I've been rinsing and crushing all of our egg shells to use in my garden boxes in hope of deterring slugs.
> Brought home used espresso grounds from my second job to use in the blueberry bushes patch.
> Used a code several times to watch a few Redbox movies for free.
> Used up some bread that was nearing its end by making French Toast for J and D.
> Ordered a pair of prescription sunglasses for myself, as well as for J, from Zennioptical and spent only about $25 total.
> Was tempted several times to buy iced coffees but waited until I got home and made my own.
> Bought a two piece ice cube tray set that makes tiny cubes for $2.50 (was delighted to read they were made here in the USA). While this is $ spent, it beats buying bags of ice every couple of weeks.
> Bought 4 boxes of cat litter for half their normal price using manufacturer and store coupons.
> Was gifted a springtime scarf from one of my employers as a thank you for being present when the health inspector came through. She also gifted me a bottle of daiquiri mix and two mini bottles of rum.
> Bought a couple bags of dark chocolate M&M's for 50% off after Easter.
> Discovered how to use a grocery store rewards card at the gas station and saved an extra 15cents per gallon on top of the 5cents per gallon saved from a discount card.
> Arranged for my two personal days off from work. They are "use them or lose them". I will aim to go for a frugal lunch out with J the first day as he has an afternoon appointment in the nearby city. The second one I will aim to use to get my gardening rolling along.
> I swept and hand mopped the kitchen floor. Not really frugal, I guess. But it felt great to get it done! (Used a drop of $1 dish soap in the bucket of water - does that count as a frugal doing?)
> J and I bought my mother flowers for her birthday. Rather than spending an arm and leg at our local greenhouse, we were in the nearby city and stopped at a large grocery store and bought two bunches for $10 and used a vase that I already have at home.
> Doing walking videos several times per week for the past few months. It feels great to be able to do these free workouts.
> Picked up a 30 load bottle of OxiClean detergent with a "try me free" rebate sticker on it.
> Bought two 18oz boxes of Target brand Cheerios-type cereal for $1.12 ea. after coupon and cartwheel. Was sad to find the second of this coupon only after I'd returned home - half hour away from store.
> Was gifted about 2-3lbs of espresso beans from J's mom. She didn't like them. Me neither. But J does.
> Added a "Friday Freebie" coupon for a bottle of kefir to my store grocery card which I'll hopefully get to redeem in a couple of days. That particular grocer is in the nearby city. I did this for a free single serving bottle of milk about two weeks ago.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy Peasy Lower-Carb Almond Butter Cookies

I don't recall what brand of peanut butter this recipe originated from. I only recall it was a 3 ingredient recipe that included one cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar and one egg and that my sister made them some time long ago when we were children to home. While looking over some of these simple pb cookie recipes, it occurred to me that it could be redone easily as a lower-carb treat. I noticed some recipes included baking soda, too, which I hoped would give it a bit more "rise". So this is a bit of a cross of several that I looked at. You certainly could make these even lower carb by omitting the chocolate or using your favorite sugar free chocolate for the chips. However, about 5-6 dark chocolate chips per cookie seemed perfect for me! Yum!

Almond Butter Cookies
(made 14 with a small 1-1 1/2" scoop)
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c xylitol
1 c almond butter
handful dark chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Refrigerate while oven heats to 350. Then scoop onto lined pan (I use silpats) and press about 5-6 chocolate chips onto each and gently press to flatten cookie slightly. Bake 8-10mns.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Are you staying frugal?

What I've been eating lately:
Sandwich buns (top 2 pics) and La Bete Noire. The buns are a somewhat altered version of Maria's at Maria Mind Body Health. La Bete Noire is an altered version, to make it more low-carb friendly, from Epicurious. Of course I have eaten much more. But I never think to take a pic of the stuff. I recently made an AWESOME salad which I'll have to add into a post the next time I make it. Note to self: Must remember to take pics!

Frugal doings lately:
>Accepted about 3 dozen eggs from a friend whose chickens are producing more than she can use.
> Watched season 1 of Penny Dreadful at brother's house as they'd recorded it.
> Made a purchase for a couple of items we already use from Sam's Club and submitted to a points program for enough points to cash in for close to a $20 value gift card.
> Finished and mailed felt ornaments for my two brothers' families for Christmas.

> Froze leftover spaghetti meat sauce which is enough for probably two more meals. Also froze two meals worth of canned tomato sauce from a #10 can that I'd bought at Sam's Club months ago.
> Used a $10 off $50 coupon at Shopko when purchasing several Christmas gifts.
> Traded in credit card points for Amazon codes and was able to get A an art portfolio for just over $10 that was originally $50.
> Bought a gift card that gave a free 12pk of soda pop with purchase of it. Sadly, J could've done the same and came away with 6pks of soda but had grabbed the fuel card instead of the gift card. I'm bummed. But will contact the headquarters of the station regarding this to see if anything can be done. (contact made - they gave him the sodas)
> Stayed away from stores right after Christmas so I wouldn't be tempted to pick up any "deals". We need nothing.
> J priced a new car battery at the two local shops and asked our preferred shop to price match, they wouldn't, so went with competitor for $10 less.
> Made D a homemade chocolate birthday cake with buttercream frosting - we had all needed ingredients.
> Called and gave requested info for our health insurance provider to get a headstart on re-enrollment, hopefully. (No such luck. MN Sure appears to be a mess.)
>Made lentil soup for a supper. Was able to save a container for A to have at her college apartment and a larger container for us for another meal.
>Reused the pot and soil from a nearly dead basil plant to sow some greens for the cats.
>Dehydrated two full stalks/bundles/plants of celery that I'd bought on sale for $1 each which is about as low as it gets for us here.
>Brought home an oranges box that fits two cases of canning jars stacked inside of it. Love that it has a fitting cover. Just about have one filled up and will put in garage to store. I saw we have another at work that will likely find a home with me next week for the same purpose.
>Had two codes over the past couple of weeks for free Redbox rentals - Fury & Stonehearst Asylum.
>Designated an old plastic coffee container as an egg shell holder. When it gets near full I smash the shells down with a potato masher. I rinse the shells before putting in it to avoid any "stink". This will be great to use in my battle against slugs in the spring and summer!
>My younger brother brought over about 6 reams of colored paper. This will be fine for printing coupons, recipes, etc. There's one ream of brown that I may just cut up for scrap paper as it's somewhat dark. We use lots of scrap paper at work and have some dark, thick tipped markers that will show up okay on it.
>Scored 6 free bottles of Kraft bbq sauce - gave two to A to take back to her college apartment. They were on sale for 99cents and some had coupons stuck to their tops for $1 off. (our store adjusted down - not a "moneymaker" as some stores let people do) Awesome! Wish I'd been a little more greedy and took them all... ha ha ha....
>Found heavy whipping cream on sale for $1.25 (normally it's around $3). Bought two and made my homemade, low-carb, scoopable vanilla ice cream that's here on the blog. I did waste a little money as I then threw out the store bought sugar-free, which was getting freezer burnt since I haven't eaten it much - just doesn't taste good.
>Cut up two scrub bottoms, as well as a thermal top, that had holes in them and added them to the rag bag.
>I've started (again) doing my Leslie Sansone walking videos. Since we have a gap in our insurance it seems an especially good idea.

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.