Tuesday, November 29, 2011

17 Months!

My little peanut is growing everyday! It's truly amazing how fast the time has gone! She will be a big sister in just a few short weeks!

We took a little getaway to Amish Country here in Ohio a few weeks ago as a last hurrah before the new baby arrives. Peanut had lots of fun staying in our rental apartment!

We've also finished cleaning up the yard for winter. Luckily we didn't have too many leaves to rake, although we saved all the ones we did gather for use as organic material in our raised garden beds. Peanut had fun playing in the leaves!

Money-Saving Recipes

There are plenty of recipes for items that are more expensive to make than to buy pre-made. The trick is finding the ones that are cheaper to make at home. Pancake syrup is one of them. Pizza sauce and dough is another. Here are a few money-saving recipes our family enjoys:

Maple Syrup
Combine in saucepan:
  • 1 ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
Bring to boil, cover, and cook 1 minute. Cool slightly. Add:
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon maple flavoring
Cover saucepan for a few minutes as syrup cooks to melt down crystals
Store in the refrigerator.

I made this today and was surprised how easy and better tasting it was compared to the cheap store-brand syrup. I was able to whip it up while my pancakes were cooking and have it ready in a jiffy! (note: if you don't normally keep maple flavoring on hand in your pantry, I highly suggest you start. It is a relatively inexpensive ingredient that can add lots of flavor and zing to many recipes like this one.)

Pizza Dough- No Rise, No Yeast
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 C water
  • 1/4 C + 2 TBSP olive Oil
  • Optional- Garlic Powder, Italian Seasoning, etc to taste
Pre heat to 425

Combine everything except for the 2 TBSP olive Oil (You can stop at this point and wrap the crust and freeze for later use)

Stretch to pizza pan, brush on the 2 TBSP olive oil (you may need more or less depending on how thick/thin you made your crust)

Bake about 5 min or so just to get a good crust going. Take out and top with your pizza toppings and continue baking from there for another 15 minutes.

This is a great recipe to have on hand for those quick, last-minute pizza nights. I'm just about full-term with this pregnancy, and don't always remember to get my dough started an hour and a half beforehand, so this was perfect! It makes a biscuit-like crust and would be perfect for calzones or pizza pockets too! I did not add the extra seasonings since we have so many in our homemade sauce as it is.

Pizza Sauce
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Tb. dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tb. dried basil
  • 1/2 ts. dried rosemary
Mix together water, paste and oil. Add seasonings, and mix well. Let stand 2-24 hours to let flavors blend. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

This sauce blows the stuff from the store out of the water, and it is so simple and easy to make! It really adds that pizzeria taste to homemade pizza, and after using this sauce I now truly prefer homemade pizza over many delivery types. This batch makes enough for around 3 pizzas for us. It will thicken and intensify in flavor after being stored in the fridge.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekly Grocery Savings

Now that November has arrived, sales are in full swing for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Stores typically do some of their deepest discounts and promotions on basic baking items and meats like turkey and ham. This is the best time to stock up for the year on those items! If you can fit it into your budget, buying ahead during this time will save you money throughout the year.

Below is a picture of a recent shopping trip to my Kroger. They were running a great sale on several items:
Here's what I bought and how much I paid for each item:
  • 3 packages of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa - $0.66 cents each after sale and coupon ($0.99 sale plus $1/3 coupon)
  • 15 cans of Del Monte Veggies- $0.49 after sale
  • 8 cans of Campbell's Cream of Chicken- $0.29 cents after sale and coupon ($0.49 sale plus 2 $0.40/1 coupons that doubled)
  • 2 jars of Heintz Turkey gravy- $0.75 each after sale
  • 2 4lb bags of Domino Sugar- $1.49 each after sale and coupon ($2.49 sale plus 2 $0.50/1 coupons that doubled)
  • 4 Packages of Whole Wheat Barilla Pasta- $0.79 cents each after coupon ($1.29 regular price plus 2 $1/2 coupons).
  • 1 Crest Kids toothpaste- FREE after sale and coupon ($1.00 sale plus a $0.50/1 coupon that doubled)
  • 1 Oral-B Kids toothpaste- FREE after sale and coupon ($1.00 sale plus a $0.50/1 coupon that doubled)
  • 1 package of Kandoo Flushable wipes- FREE after sale and coupon ($1.00 sale plus a $0.50/1 coupon that doubled)
Total before sales and coupons: $58.27

Total Spent after sales and coupons, including tax: $20.47

Total Saved: $37.80!

I was also able to snag two 21 pound turkeys at Giant Eagle while we were in Columbus visiting my sister and running some errands. I got each of them for just $0.59 a pound! I put both in the deep freezer for later.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Meal Plan

This month, I am trying something a bit different with my meal planning. Instead of just planning out dinners (which has been working so well for us), I decided to go ahead and plan out lunches and breakfasts too! Although we rarely adhere strictly to the meal plan, having a plan of sorts really helps me on those days when I don't have any ideas! It also helps keep the grocery budget down since we don't buy more food than we need.

So far, this method has been working out great for us! I love that we are making old favorites we had forgotten about as well as trying new things, all without me having to brainstorm every single meal! The amount of stress this has taken off my shoulders is unbelievable.

Click here to view our November Meal plan, complete with breakfasts, lunches and dinners!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Canning Apple Butter

A little while ago, I blogged about canning grape jelly for the first time. Well, 2 days after successfully canning 12 half pints of jelly, I was ready to tackle homemade apple butter! I followed the recipe on Simply Canning, and it was just as easy as the jelly, if not easier!

I used about...
15 apples
1.5 cups of sugar
1 ts. cinnamon
1/4 ts. ground cloves
1/4 ts. salt

Step 1: Peel core and slice apples. I used my handy-dandy apple corer/peeler/slicer. It made this step super easy! I got mine at Meijer on sale for just $10!

Step 2: Fill crock-pot with apples. Top with sugar and spice mixture. Mine is 4 quarts, so you would need more apples and sugar if you have a larger crock.

Step 3: Cook on high for 1 hr just before you go to bed. I started mine at 8:30pm. Then, give it is a stir and turn it to low. Go to sleep. Wake up in the morning to this:

I did use my immersion blender to smooth out the chunks, but you could also just use a potato masher too! Next, get your canner going, then sterilize and heat jars and lids. Fill up the jars, wipe rims and screw on lids. I was able to fill 6 half pint jars with leftovers for the fridge.

Process in canner for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool for 24 hrs. Wala! Homemade canned apple butter!

This stuff is DIVINE. I am not a huge fan of apple butter normally, but that has all changed! We already went through the leftovers I stored in the fridge! Serve on warm bread or whatever you like really. Peanut particularly loves it when I make her an apple butter sandwich!