Thursday, April 28, 2011


I'm sitting here with the front door open, the rain pouring, laptop in my lap, while being surrounded by coupons and recipe books! It's delightful!

I will have to try to figure out how to post a document on this blog (if anyone knows how to do that please leave me a reply!). I'm almost finished with my May menu, recipes, and grocery list and want to share it with you.

Here are some cheap recipe ideas for your monthly planning:

We had never had lentils before until a friend made this lentil dish for us. After trying it I had to ask her for the recipe....I loved it! Besides, lentils are healthy, low calories, & cheap.....

Lentils are a low calorie, low fat and cholesterol free food and they contain folic acid. The U.S. Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Most women do not meet this guideline. One cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Lentils provide more folic acid than any other unfortified food.

Lentils are also an important source of iron, especially for women, whose iron needs are greater. Eating lentils with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits or juices, helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.Lentils are also protein rich. They lack only one protein, methionine. Adding grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy products, or eggs will provide a complete protein.Soluble fiber is also found in lentils. Soluble fiber acts as a scrub brush, cleaning the digestive system. This type of fiber also decreases serum glucose and cholesterol and decreases insulin requirements for people with diabetes.

Tasty Lentil-burgers

  • 1 1/2 C. cooked lentils

  • 1/2 C. chopped onion

  • 2 gloves of garlic

  • 2 Tbs. butter, divided

  • 1 heaping Tbs. of tomato paste

  • 2 slices bread, cubed

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

  • 1tsp. mustard

  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

  • 1/4 C. Italian bread crumbs

  • 4 slices sharp Cheddar cheese

  • 4 Whole-wheat buns

Drain lentils very well, placing in a sleve and pressing gently with spoon, if necessary. Set aside.
Saute' onion, adding garlic later, in 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add tomato paste, bread, eggs, vinegar, and seasonings. Combine well, adding lentils to mixture. Shape into 4 large patties. Mixture will be moist, but if too wet, add more crumbs or some wheat germ. Coat each patty in dry bread crumbs. Chill about 1hr. (this makes the patties easier to fry). Heat remaining butter until sizzling. Fry patties about 5 minutes each side until crisp. Turn gently. Cover each with a cheese slice, if used. Cook until melted.Serve on heated whole wheat buns. Garnish with green pepper and onion rings, or any other burger garnishes.

Tips: One pound dried lentils = 5 batches of lentil-burgers.

***Mixture may be placed in a buttered baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle or place cheese for last 5 minutes of baking. - This is the way we normally make our lentils. I love it with cheese and ketchup on top! It tastes good reheated as well.ENJOY!

Here is a recipe that I found for making your own mayonnaise:


  • 1 egg *use 1 pasteruized egg or 1/4 C. cholesterol-free egg substitute if you're concerned about using raw eggs*

  • 2TBPS white wine vinegar or white rice vinegar

  • 1 tsp. honey

  • 1/8 tsp of dry mustard

  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper

  • Salt to taste

  • 3/4 C. canola oil

Blend all ingredients, except the oil, in a blender until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil very slowly in a steady, then stream, until the mixture is well combined and thickened. (Homemade mayo will not be as thick as store bought mayo.) Taste and adjust the seasoning, Transfer the mayonnaise to a glass container with a tight fitting lid.

You can add flavor to your mayonnaise.....

Garlic mayonnaise - add 4 cloves of garlic or 2 tsp prepared minced garlic with the first group of ingredients.

Basil Mayonnaise- Stir in 1/4 C basil pesto ( 1 C. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, 1/4 c. pine nuts, 2 TBPS of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, or 1tsp prepared minced garlic, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper.....all those ingredients makes 1/3 C of basil pesto) and add an extra dash of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Herb Mayonnaise- Stir 1-2 TBSP minced fresh herb, such as flat-leaf parsley, watercress, basil, oregano, or tarragon into the completed mayonnaise.

NOTE: This recipe makes 1 cup of mayonnaise and it can be stored in a tightly closed container with a tight-fitting lid in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Here is another quick & easy breakfast recipe that I got from a friend several years ago!


  • 1 spice cake mix

  • 1 large can of pumpkin pie mix

Mix ingredients together until well combine. Scoop spoonfuls into muffin tins with paper liners.Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!!!

** Those muffins work great for breakfast with a hot cup of cocoa or coffee!***

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter and Happy Planning!

I need to do some updating soon - with lots of pictures! My little seedlings are growing well and I'm quite proud of them. I only had one little pepper plant pop up, so I'll have to plant a few more of those. Stuffed peppers sound totally yummy!!!

My husband & I celebrated our 1st year of marriage this past weekend and so we enjoyed a little get-a-way. It's hard to believe that it has taken me almost 1 year of marriage to finally figure out menus, cooking, and budgeting for two people. I grew up in a home with five younger siblings, so I'm used to making food go far, but I have found out that stretching food is not the greatest thing for a couple of newlyweds, unless we want to eat the same thing for 2 weeks straight. We don't mind leftovers, but I enjoy cooking and baking and if I only get to cook 1x in two weeks I feel useless in the kitchen!

WARNING: PLAN AHEAD! I learned that being gone over the weekend means that you MUST plan ahead. I was so thrilled with the idea of not having to wash dishes or cook meals for 2 days, that I forgot to plan a meal for Sunday night and Monday's lunch (which is usually leftovers from Sunday dinner). Since we had been gone Friday and Saturday and spent Sunday afternoon with family.....I didn't have any food prepared for Monday lunch! We ran out of bread this past week, so I couldn't just make a tuna sandwich or a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I have English muffins, but they don't taste quite right with tuna or P&J. So, this morning, I just pulled out the lasagna out from the freezer, cooked it, and went to have lunch with my husband at work! :)

I hope to add pictures and include the step-by-step instructions for making a fabric covered recipe book soon!

Have you started to prepare your shopping list for the month of May? Are you trying any new recipes? How much more are you going to try to decrease your grocery spending? Are you going to try using more coupons? Are you working on a garden?

Hope you all had a blessed Easter celebrating our Risen Lord!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Do you enjoy baking? I sure do! I love spending time in the kitchen making cookies, pies, cobblers, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, cakes and muffins!

This week I tried a new recipe (sorry, there are no pictures this time).

Surprise Muffins

(Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cupcakes)

  • 1 devil's food cake mix

  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, softened

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg, beating well; stir in chocolate morsels. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon cream cheese mixture into center of each cupcake. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks. Store in refrigerator. Yield 2 dozen.

I used a homemade chocolate cake batter since I didn't have a cake mix on hand and it worked quite well. I also decided to cover the cream cheese mixture with a small scoop of the cake batter. I made 2 1/2 dozen muffins! :)

We have also been enjoying our freezer meals! Two spaghetti pies and one chicken tortillas are gone! We still have 1 more spaghetti pie left and then the chicken veggie lasagna.

What yummy foods have you been making in your kitchen???

Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipe Books!


Are you already thinking about what you'll eat and make next month, are you already planning ahead? I'm such a planner and I LOVE recipe books - so I'm already planning my menu for the month of May! I went to the libary yesterday and enjoyed picking out quite a few recipe books. I was surprised to find a lot of books on freezer meals! My book list consists of:

  • The coupon mom's guide to cutting your grocery bills in half By: Stephanie Nelson

  • Rodale's book of hints, tips & everyday wisdom

  • Feeding the whole family By Cynthia Lair

  • Chef on a shoestring By: ???

  • Mix 'n match meals in minutes for people with diabetes By: Linda Gassenheimer

  • Eat cheap, but eat well By: Charles Mattocks

  • The $5 mom cookbook By: Erin Chase

  • Dinner's in the freezer! By: Jill Bond

  • Dirt-cheap gardening By: Rhonda Massingham

  • The golden book of baking By: Rachel Lane

  • Quesadillas By: Donna Kelly

  • Vegetarian sandwiches By: Paulette Mitchell

  • Ice cream and frozen desserts By: Peggy Fallon

  • Can I freeze it? By: Susie Theodorou

  • Jane Butel's freezer cookbook By: Jane Butel

  • Don't panic, more dinner's in the freezer By: Suise Martinez

  • The family kitchen By: Debra Ponzek

  • Pillsbury Doughboy family pleasing recipes

  • Glorious one-pot meals By: Elizabeth Yarnell

  • Make it fast, cook it slow By: Stephanie O'Dea

Why not visit your local library soon to see what new and exciting recipes you can find for the month of May? Why not, also purchase a small photo album where you can print your favorite recipes out on recipe cards and slide them into your album for save keeping.

I'll show you how to make your own designed,cloth-covered recipe book album next week! Stay in tune for the step-by-step how to instructions!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In The Kitchen...Sit Long..Talk Much..Laugh Often!

As a woman, I tend to spend the majority of my time in the kitchen. I might not be cooking every day, but I am at least washing dishes and making sure the kitchen is neat and clean. Our kitchen, dinning area, and living room is all open and I totally love it! In this post I'm going to include the kitchen area to also mean the dinning area in which we have our meals together as a couple. If you include the "kitchen" to stand for the place you spend the majority of your time cooking, washing dishes, and eating - then I would say that we are typically spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Do you like your kitchen? What are some of your favorite features about your kitchen that you just love? What style kitchen do you have? What would your dream kitchen look like? Do you enjoy remodeling?

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

Today I want to share with you my blogging friend, Brandi's Spare Time Remodeling blog! Brandi enjoys remodeling and is such a creative lady! :) Click HERE for pictures of her kitchen!

My kitchen is "farm" theme decor - but other than that, I haven't been very creative with it and therefore I'm not taking any pictures of the kitchen itself. :) I do promise to take some pictures to post later though.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Well, I managed to try some cooking and get a few meals in the freezer this past week! I came down sick over the weekend and lost some of my energetic zap for getting everything done that I wanted to accomplish, but I think I got a pretty good start.

I made:

  • 1 9x13 pan of Chicken tortillas - shredded chicken breast, 1 small jar of mild salsa, shredded cheese and cream cheese cut into cubs.

  • 3 spinach spaghetti pies - angel hair noodles, eggs, Parmesan, canned or frozen spinach (I used canned this time, but normally I use frozen thawed & drained), sauce, ground beef, cream cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese.

  • 1 chicken/veggie lasagna - lasagna noodles, cream of mushroom soup (you're suppose to use cream of chicken, but I had forgotten to put that on my shopping I used the cream of mushroom instead), shredded chicken breast, 1 can of mixed veggies (you can also use 1 small package of frozen cooked mixed veggies), a little milk (to mix with the mushroom soup), sliced cheddar cheese (to put in-between the layers of noodles, veggies, chicken and soup).

I bought the foil pans (I bought mine at Family Dollar - two 9x13 pans for $1) so that I could just freeze them without worrying about freezing something in a glass pan, then taking it out and wrapping it up and putting it back into the freezer out of the pan. I tried that once with crab lasagna and it ended up making a mess in my freezer, so I decided that I was going to try the foil pans this time. It made a mess in my freezer because the pan tilted sideways while it was in the freezer, so that when I went to go get it after it had frozen I had a mess to clean up since a lot of the sauce and leaked out before becoming frozen.

WARNING: Make sure ALL food is level in the freezer! :) Here are the recipes that I used (or at least used the basic foundation and then adapted them to fit whatever ingredients I had)........ Spinach-Beef Spaghetti Pie - my favorite way to eat spaghetti and it is a great meal to make when having guests! This recipe came from Taste of Home. It freezes well and you can change it to fit your tastes (like leave out the spinach and use sausage instead of ground beef).

I made three pies by using 4 eggs ($1.92 for 18 eggs - 40 cents) ), 1 box of angel hair noodles ($1), 1/2 of a large jar of spaghetti sauce ($2.98 per jar and therefore 1/2 jar would of been: $1.49) , 1 1/2 8oz packages of cream cheese ($1.28 per package+64 cents for half package: $1.92) , 1 jar of spinach -$1.35, 1/2 or 3/4 amount of 1lb ground beef (I'm using the rest of the meat for a chili dish)-$2.68 per 1lb.....$1.34 for 1/2lb, 3/4-1 small package of shredded mozzarella cheese - $1.86 per bag. Total price of 3 pies: $9.36 or $3.12 per pie.

These pies will last us for 6 meals and come to the total price of: $1.56 per meal - not too bad if you ask me. :)

Ok, the next meal I made was Chicken Lasagna. I found this meal a few months ago when I wanted to make something other than traditional meat, cheese lasagna and it turned out to be a hit! I can't find the exact recipe but I tend to do my own thing anyway when I'm cooking, so I'll give you the "Heather version" -

  • 1 Cooked/shredded chicken breast - $1.92

  • 1 small can of mixed veggies (or a small bag frozen veggies already cooked) -$0.68

  • 1 large can of cream of chicken soup - $1.54

  • A little bit (perhaps 1 cup?) of milk - to mix with your soup $3.54 per gallon (16 cups per gallon) Total cost of the milk used: $ 0.22

  • 18 slices of cheddar cheese (I use the individual wrapped cheese slices) $2.36 per 24 slices Total cost: 10 cents per slice of cheese: $1.80 (it's a little less than that).

  • 9 cooked lasagna noodles -$1.00

Total Cost: $ 7.16 this meal will last the two of us for 3 meals, plus lunches.

Cost per meal: $2.38

Take your 9x13 pan and spoon a small amount of the cream of chicken soup on the bottom of the pan and and a touch of milk to make it "spreadable", then take 3 of your noodles and lay them on the bottom of the pan. Take some of your shredded chicken breasts and lay on top of the noodles, add several spoon fulls of veggies and then several spoon fulls of the soup and drizzle some milk on top to help spread it around. After you have those ingredients mixed up on top of the noodles, take 6 slices of cheese and place on top of your veggie/chicken mixture. Repeat layers. You should end with the cheese slices on the very top of your noodles. I'm pretty sure that you could combine the milk with the soup and add it to the lasagna that way, instead of taking the milk and drizzling it on top of the soup. You probably could also combing the veggies and chicken into the soup/milk mix and then just layer that with the noodles & cheese. At least you have the idea of how the chicken/veggie lasagna is suppose to be made and I do apologize for not having the exact recipe to share with you. You can freeze this recipe uncooked or you can cook it up right after you make it for an easy and wonderful tasting dinner! Bake at 350 degrees until heated (approx. 30 minutes).

Chicken Tortillas

I created this recipe to help me use up the 1/2 of cream cheese I had left over from the spaghetti pies and the chicken breast that I had left over from the lasagna (the chicken came in a package of two breasts for $3.84, so it's $1.92 per chicken breast).

  • 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded - $1.92

  • 1/2 8oz package of cream cheese - $0. 64

  • 1 jar of salsa - $1.50 (it was on sale at Food Lion for 2/$4 and I had a 50 cent coupon)

  • 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese - $2.36

  • Floured tortillas - $1.22

Total Cost: $7.64

We will probably get two good meals out of this for the total cost of: $3.82 per meal, plus we will get several lunches as well.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients (except for the tortillas) until well mixed. Place heaping spoonfuls into the center of the tortilla wraps and wrap them up and place into your 9x13 pan. Repeat. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until well warmed.

Hint: Typically the larger the meal the cheaper it will be per meal/serving because it will last for more meals than a small dish therefore stretching your money & time!


It appears to me that whenever I have time to plant my seeds, it tends to be quite a windy day! I get quite the workout chasing my seed packets and containers about the yard! Our dog, Daisy also enjoys helping me chase the blowing seed packets - she thinks it's quite fun to go bounding after a blowing package and them take it to a nice grassy area to chew on it. She also likes to chew on the seed starter plugs. Despite the constant "No, Daisy!" that I tend to say while she's around, I really enjoy having her company in the yard while I'm doing my planting.

Last Wednesday, it was quite windy and my seeds and containers went flying, but I did manage to plant some pepper seeds, lettuce & marigolds. I will use the marigolds to place around the tomato plants to help keep pests away. The marigolds are already up and growing well! Check out this neat website for "companion planting" - what to plant nearby to certain plants and what plants to keep away from each other: Companion Planting.

Yesterday, we planted lavender, a few more beets, two rows of radishes, cucumbers, and butternut squash! I'm totally looking forward to a fresh homegrown salad!!!

Are you planting a garden? What are some of your tricks to keep those pesty little insects, bunnies and deer away from your plants?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Shopping Trip.....

(the coupons that arrived the day AFTER I went shopping)

I'm sure you're wondering about the details of my monthly shopping trip - I spent a total of $167.00 ($161 subtotal) but that wasn't for just groceries. I had to get several non-food/health related products - like things for the garden, gift items and a 1x a year buy type of things, so if I subtract that I would of spent: $135.93!!! I only shopped at Walmart and didn't bother going to any of the other grocery stores around town since I only had 1.5 hrs in which to do my shopping. I subtracted $150 from the $135.93 and now I have $14.07 left to spend for my grocery shopping budget for this month. I found quite a bit of things to stock up on while I was shopping - corn meal, noodles, chicken breasts (the chicken breast was half off normal price, so I got a couple of them to freeze), and a few other things. If I find a good deal and can afford it - I stock up!
Things that would of been cheaper else where:

*Conditioner would of been cheaper at CVS

*Dish soap would of been cheaper at CVS

*Toothpaste would of probably been cheaper at either CVS or Krogers

*Cheese would of been cheaper at Krogers

*Milk would of been cheaper at Krogers (I didn't need to buy milk on this shopping trip, but I will be getting it next week when I go out for my "rest of the month" perishable food shopping trip.

*Buying ground beef meat in bulk would of been cheaper at Krogers (but I didn't need much meat this month), so I saved money/time/gas by getting just what I needed while at Walmart.

I got my envelope of coupons in the mail on Friday - the day AFTER I had gone shopping! That's ok since a lot of the coupons don't expire until June! I'll keep you posted on how all that goes once I finish sorting through the coupons and figure out what I can still use this month and save $$! :)
How was your shopping trip??? Find any good deals?! Did you use coupons? Can't wait to read how your adventures went!

Saving Time & Money!

It's been quite a while since I've posted, but I'm sitting here with two laptops, listening to the Issacs (a southern gospel group) sing, and a sipping cup of hot chocolate while planning out how I'm going to manage this once a month cooking day. I just emptied out all of my cupboards with the food I bought on Thursday morning. I decided to go shopping on Thursday instead of waiting until Friday, Monday, or today to do my shopping, because I realized that my week was going to be quite busy and I needed to go shopping while I had some free time, so I could use my extra free day this week to do my cooking for the month! Therefore today is my cooking/baking day!

I haven't cooked a thing since last Wednesday when I made a tuna casserole (pasta, peas, mayo, tuna) and again on Saturday night when I cooked our Sunday dinner of chicken (chicken, sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and a little bit of the onion soup mix) so all I would have to do was warm it up and let it stay warm in the oven while we were at church Sunday morning. I'm still figuring out which freezer meals I want to do, but right now the list consists of: meatballs, enchiladas, lasagna, spaghetti pie, pizza, waffles (pumpkin & cranberry, blueberry, plain), quiche, and I'm not sure what else I'll find to make with all the ingredients that I have! I'll post the recipes and photos of the finished products when I'm done! Although, I'm thinking I may have to save part of my recipe making until Friday, but we'll see. I might even make some cookies and freeze them too! I like change so I don't want to freeze the same stuff or the same type of stuff - like pasta, pasta, pasta for example.

Saving money and time during your upcoming summer months might be easier than you think: Garden!

You can use a small container (like those box rubbermaid dish tubs) :

Put small holes in the bottom of it (to help let the water out) and then fill it with dirt, buy a package of lettuce, plant the seeds, and you'll have plenty of fresh lettuce throughout the spring, summer and fall! You can even plant tomatoes in a pot on your porch or back deck if you don't have the space for a garden. You'll be able to eat fresh tomato sandwiches, plus (depending on how many pots of tomatoes you plant) you can can sauce or freeze chunks of tomatoes to put in quiches or chili later on in the fall and winter months!

Here is a picture of our garden: it goes over a little more towards the right in the picture, but I wasn't able to get it all in my camara's view. We have already planted peas & beets in it so far. Today, I'm also planning to hurry up and start some peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash so that they will be up by time it's time to plant them in the garden! We'll also plant beans, carrots, radishes, and corn!

These are the seeds that I will be planting and hopefully these little veggies will grow! We're so blessed to have the space for a nice garden and have fruit plants in our yard! We have a pear trees in our backyard, so towards the beginning of fall/end of summer I will be busy canning and freezing them and we also have a huge batch of blackberries (they make great jam!) and raspberries (they taste really good in coffeecakes). Things that you are able to get at a good price and in large quanities will really help you save money when you're able to can fruits & veggies. My husband is also an avid hunter and so we have deer meat in our freezer, which really helps with the cost of meat. Not to mention that venison is very healthy meat and is really good for you. Here are some pictures of the things I canned last year: LOTS of applesauce, peaches & jams!

This is what our shelves look like right now = more than enough for two people! I love being able to pop open a jar of apple sauce to serve when company comes over! The fresh canned peaches come in really handy when you want to make a peach cobbler for dessert! Yummy! Strawberries are going to be coming in here in May! That'll be fun! Smoothies, pies, fresh strawberries - sigh, I can't wait for summer!!!