Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pantry Challenge Wrap Up - Jan. 2010

Participating in the Eat From the Pantry Challenge was a HUGE success for us. I had so much food in this house and I just kept adding more and more, but not using enough. I can happily say that after this month I have room in my pantry, cabinets and freezer. I used things the were about to expire and be thrown out instead of adding more. This month I suffered from a bout of the flu and a sinus infection at the same time that put me down for 9 days. My pantry saved me. My dh was able to feed the family without resorting to take out (well, we did have Zaxby's once, but only because I finally wanted to eat and I was craving their house salad!).

I am most proud of the fact that I hosted Bunco for 10 ladies and our Supper Club for 12 this month with VERY LITTLE expense. I used my stockpile for both events. I only spent $15.00 for Bunco- a Baked Potato Bar and salad and $80.00 for Supper Club - a 4 course Italian meal with drinks. I have been known in the past to spend of $200 on Supper Club, so this was a huge success!
We still have a house full of food. I plan on continuing my own personal pantry challenge, only replacing items as we get low. For example, I only have one jar of spaghetti sauce left. This is just not acceptable in this house, so I will be stocking up on that item over then next few weeks as it goes on sale. I also used up all my precooked ground beef from the freezer, so that needs to be replaced as well. But, buying just to buy because it is on sale, well, not so much.
A very special thanks to Money Saving Mom and Life As Mom for hosting this challenge. It has certainly been very beneficial to my family.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meal Plan Monday 1/25

My meal plan for this week looks remarkably like last week's menu since I didn't cook a thing last week! On Monday both kids were running a fever, so we made a trip to the pediatrcian. By the time we got to our appointment I was sicker than both kids combined! The ped sent me home to bed! I missed work all week and canceled both Bunco and Supper Club at my house due to a terrible sinus infection and the flu. I rescheduled both for this week. The good news is because my pantry and freezer were still stocked my husband did not have to resort to take out or fast food.

Monday - Zaxby's after Basketball Practice
Tuesday - Beef Tips and Gravy (crockpot) Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Baked Pears
Wednesday - Ginger Sesame Chicken, Rice and Fruit
Thursday - BUNCO - Crab Dip and Beer Cheese with crackers, Baked Potato Bar, Tossed Salad, Bourbon Cake with Bourbon Syrup
Friday - Surprise Birthday Party of a Friend
Saturday - Supper Club - Manicotti, Ravioli with Creamy Pesto Sauce, Tortellini with Agli e Olio, Foccacia, Caesar Salad and Italian Cream Cheese Pie
Sunday - Leftovers

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bourbon Cake

This is always a crowd pleaser. The original Southern Living Recipe is here. It calls for piercing the warm cake and drizzling with the bourbon syrup. I do not do this. In my circle, some people do not care for bourbon (crazy I know, but I aim to please!), so I just serve the syrup on the side. In my opinion, this is just as good. I also do not use dates, just a personal preference and I never seem to have any on hand. Below is my adaptation of the recipe. I plan on serving it with my Bourbon Cherries on the side.

Bourbon Cake

2 c sugar
1 1/3 c vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
3 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground allspice (I never have this, so I substitute 3/4 t ground ginger)
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1 1/3 c chopped pecans
Bourbon Syrup (recipe below)

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

Combine flour and next 5 ingredients; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans. Bour into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Place on a wire rack. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert on plate. Serve with Bourbon Syrup.

Bourbon Syrup
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
1/2 c bourbon

Melt butter with sugar in a small heavy saucepan; whisk in bourbon. Bring to a boil; boil, whisking constantly for 3 minutes. Yield 1 1/3 cups. Serve warm with Bourbon Cake.

Warm Vanilla Fruit

This is a great winter fruit recipe. It uses either canned fruit or fruit you have preserved in your freezer. It is very forgiving and any combination of fruits can be used. It is best if you use at least 2 cans of fruit as the sauce benefits from the canned fruit juice. Below is the combination I used last night.

Warm Vanilla Fruit

2 cans peach slices
1 can pear slices
2 c frozen pineapple chunck - slighly thawed
1 c frozen cherries - slightly thawed
Juice from fruits with water to equal 2 cups
1/2 c butter (can use less)
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla)

In a saucepan, mix the juices with butter, sugar and vanilla until they boil. In a 9 x 13 pan, pour the fruit and cover with boiled sauce. Bake uncovered at 350 for one hour.

Serves 8
adaped from "Ro's Taste of Paducah" Cookbook - a staple for every Kentucky bride

Linked to
What's On Your Plate at Good Cheap Eats

Meal Plan Monday 1/18 - Eat From the Pantry Week 3

We have been very successful eating from our pantry this month. This week I spent a little more as I splurged on a pound of deli ham for dinner on Saturday. We ate out for the first time this year on Friday. DH was working, Bubba spent the night with a friend and Boo Boo had a friend spend the night. I treated the girls to a trip through the McDonald's drive thru after dropping off Bubba. I have to say, after cooking for 15 days in a row I truly appreciated the quick trip through the drive thru.

This week will be a budget challenge. I am hosting both Bunco (12 ladies for dinner) and our monthly Supper Club (7 couples for dinner) at our house, but I think I have it under control. I planned both menus to either be extremely economical or to use items from the pantry. Publix and Kroger are both having great sales with coupons on things we use alot, so I will be shopping at both this week, so we will see. The good news is I should not have to shop at all the next week.

Meal Plan for this week -
Monday - Leftover hot dogs and hamburgers, scalloped potatoes, lima beans and Warm Vanilla Fruit
Tuesday - French Dip Sandwiches (crockpot), chips and fruit
Wednesday - Sesame Ginger Chicken, rice, pineapple
Thursday - BUNCO NIGHT - Beer Cheese and Crab Dip with crackers, Baked Potato Bar, Salad and Bourbon Cake
Friday - Grilled Italian Sausage, hashbrowns and salad
Saturday - SUPPER CLUB - Manicotti, Ravioli with Creamy Pesto Sauce, Tortellini with Agli e Olio Sauce, Caesar Salad, Foccacia and Italian Cream Cheese Pie
Sunday - leftovers!
This post is linked to Life as Mom's Pantry Challenge and Orgjunkie's Meal Plan Monday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This is one way I get my kids and my husband to eat vegetables with out complaint. It is the best broccoli cheese soup I have found. The original is from, this version is my changed recipe.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
3 large carrots, grated
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, cubed (I use Velveeta 2%)
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup water

In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter until softened. Stir in broccoli and carrots and cover with chicken broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Reduce heat, and stir in cheese cubes until melted. Mix in milk and garlic powder.
In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Stir into soup; cook, stirring frequently, until thick.

Linking to Eat At Home's Ingredient Spotlight

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meal Plan Monday 1/11 - Pantry Challenge Week 2

We are having great success with our eat from the pantry challenge. So far, all meals prepared at home have been from the pantry with the exception of lunch on Saturday. DH was craving Totino's frozen pizza and we were out, so he stopped by and picked up 3 for lunch. This week should be just as successful. Here is our meal plan for the week, entirely from the pantry and freezer.
Monday - Baked Potato Bar, Fruit

Tuesday - Leftover Beef Tenderloin (from Sunday), mashed potatoes, Broccoli Casserole (from Sunday)
*** Make Blueberry Muffins

Wednesday - Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Pesto Sauce, Peas, Rolls

*** Crepes with Apple Filling (maybe)

Thursday - Corn and Potato Chowder, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Fruit

Friday - Spicy Chicken Breasts (crockpot), Rice or Couscous, Lima Beans

*** make Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday -

Sunday -

Linked to other GREAT meal plans at OrgJunkie.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge - Update #1

My first week of the Eat From the Pantry Challenge has been a success. We have consistantly eaten from the pantry and freezer entirely this week. I made one trip to the grocery store for milk, yogurt, bread and fresh fruit for a total of $23.00, well below my usually $50 - $60 per week total.

Monday night was our first challenge to the idea of eating entirely from what we have on hand. It was really cold and my dh wanted Sloppy Joes for dinner. No problem, I had it already prepared in the freezer. Then I realized we did not have any buns. Normally this would have prompted a trip to the grocery for said buns and several other impulse buys. Instead, I looked around the kitchen. We had pita bread and loaf bread so I used those instead. No one complained, in fact, Boo Boo decided she likes them better on pita bread, and ate way more than she normally would have on a bun.

So successes for the week -
  1. saved money by not buying buns and impulse purchases
  2. saved gas by not making an unnecessary trip to the grocery store
  3. used food from the pantry and freezer
  4. kids enjoyed the novelty of dinner and ate more than they would have normally
I'm ready to jump into next week!

Make Your Own Bourbon Cherries

Delicious bourbon-soaked cherries! Cost - $6.95 at the store.

Ingredients to make your own - $1.00 worth of bourbon + $1.00 for cherries = $2.00
YUM YUM YUM and Cheap! Works for me.
Linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom and Works for Me Wednesday at We are That Family.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sloppy Joes Recipe

I keep this in the freezer all the time for quick, after sports practice meals. It is a Weight Watchers recipe, but you would NEVER know it. It is a family favorite around here.

WW Sloppy Joes
2 pounds uncooked, lean ground beef (7% fat)
1/4 c packed brown sugar
3 c canned tomatoe sacue
1/4 c canned tomatoe paste
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T Montreal Steak Seasoning

Mix together brown sugar and steak seasoning. Spray pan with cooking spray. Break up ground beef in pan, pour brown sugar/steak seasoning mix over and brown. When meat has browned, drain off excessfat, add onions, Worchestershire and red wine vinegar and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and sacue, cook for another 10 - 15 minutes and serve. Serve on Whole Wheat buns.

5 points/sandwich

Meal Plan Monday 1/4 - Pantry Challenge Week 1

Late as usual....
In keeping up with the Pantry Challenge, all meals are 100% from my pantry, freezer or refrigerator!

Monday - WW Sloppy Joes and Potato Chips

Tuesday - Chicken Pot Pie, Salad and Fruit

Wednesday - Sesame Ginger Chicken, Fried Rice and Pineapple

Thursday - Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Peas

Friday - Corn and Chicken Chowder, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Fruit

Saturday and Sunday- not sure what our plans are for the weekend yet