The Budget Smart Girl Newsletter-September 2009

I know it’s already October, but here is the September newsletter. It’s food focused and has some great recipes to try. However, first up, non food stuff…

Make Me an Offer
Someone told me about this site you might want to check out www.offers.com

Budget Smart Knitters
Once the first cold snap hits the air, I always think about knitting. Here’s a site I stumbled upon.
www.yarn.com, check out their ‘closeout sale’

Coupon Codes
I received an e-mail from Kathryn Finney, AKA The Budget Fashionsita www.budgetfashionista.com who by the way has a great book that’s a must on every Budget Smart Girl’s bookshelf. She told me about a new site, check it out at www.rollback.com It has coupon codes for all online stores. Ideal for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

It’s Almost Halloween
Seems like it’s not just me who’s having a tough time dealing with the fact it’s already October and Halloween’s just 30 days away. Just today I read that most of us will be cutting back on our Halloween purchases this year. I did stumble upon a money saving idea while I was grocery shopping this morning…bulk bins. My local store has bins filled with Halloween candy. Yes, it’s all wrapped and budget priced. Everything from PB chocolate cups wrapped in orange paper to chocolates wrapped in paper that looks just like an eyeball. Buy a few pounds of these and make up your own treats for goblins who stop by the house.

And if you’re throwing a party but short on pennies, once again Penny Warner from Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kits www.balloontime.com offers us these clever ideas.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Party!
When we think of Halloween, images of ghosts, goblins and other scary spirits come to mind. But what would Halloween be without our favorite orange symbol – the pumpkin! This year, host a Great Pumpkin Party at your very own Pumpkin Patch!

Buy mini pumpkins at the grocery store and write the party details on them with black permanent marker. Hand deliver or mail to guests in small, sturdy boxes. Or inflate orange helium balloons, draw jack-o-’lantern faces on them, deflate them, and mail in envelopes with instructions for recipients to blow them up. Attach a stem cut from green construction paper with the party details.

Decorations– Use a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit to inflate orange balloons with helium, tie them off with green ribbon, and draw funny faces on them with permanent markers. Let them float around the party room.
– Carve out pumpkins and fill them with dry ice for a spooky atmosphere.
– Paint funny faces on pumpkins with acrylic paints and set them around the room.
– Create a pumpkin patch in the front and/or back yard using bales of hay. Set pumpkins around and on top of the hay. In between bales, lay out fake leaves and nestle the pumpkins inside them.
– Make a sign that reads “The Great Pumpkin Patch” and stick it in your yard. Create a scarecrow, using a pumpkin as its head.
– Cover the party table with an orange tablecloth, scatter fall leaves and hay on the cloth, and place mini pumpkins and orange candles down the middle.

Games and Activities
Keep the costumed guests busy with lots of pumpkin fun!

The Pumpkin and the Pins
Set up a game of bowling using pumpkins as bowling balls. Place plastic pins or empty plastic soda bottles at one side of the room or yard. Let the guests decorate their pumpkins with permanent markers to personalize them. Then have them roll the pumpkins and try to knock down the pins.

Pumpkin Pitch
Cut the top off several pumpkins, carve out the insides, and save the seeds. Line the inside with foil. Have the players try to toss the seeds into the pumpkin. If the seeds are still wet, the game is even more challenging!

Pumpkin Punch
Inflate orange helium balloons and have the players draw faces on them. Have them try to keep their own balloons up in the air as long as possible, first using their hands, then only their feet, then only their heads!

Primp your Pumpkin
For adults, have a pumpkin carving contest. Provide carving materials and let them race to carve out the best pumpkin design in a limited period of time. Award prizes for strangest, funniest, most realistic and so on.

For kids, have a pumpkin craft activity. Set out craft materials, such as markers, glue, sequins, glitter, pipe cleaners, fake blood and glow-in-the-dark paint, and let the kids create a pumpkin masterpiece.

Pumpkin Hunt
Hide a bunch of small pumpkins around the yard or party room and have the guests try to find them. When everyone has found a pumpkin, have them “primp” it.
– Salt and bake pumpkin seeds and serve them to the guests.
– Serve hot cider or pumpkin soup in mugs.
– Cut out pumpkin-shaped cookies and let the kids decorate them before they eat them.
– Make a pumpkin cake as a centerpiece. Bake two spice Bundt cakes. Place one cake upside down on a platter and frost the flat top. Place the other cake right side up on top of the other cake, so the flat sides are facing each other. Frost the outside of the cake with orange-tinted icing. Use a chocolate frosting tube to draw eyes, nose, mouth, and stem.
– Give the guests Halloween candy in small, pumpkin-themed bags.
– Make popcorn balls, tinted orange and shaped like pumpkins, covered up with plastic wrap.
– Pass out small decorative pumpkins, painted pumpkins and orange balloon bouquets.

The Coupon Craze Continues

Okay and now to the food…

Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes
And I was sent this e-mail. And yes, anything with the word chocolate in it always catches my eye!
Little Debbie has come out with something totally new, Chocolate Cupcakes, their first snack cake with crème filling inserted in the center (first time in the 50-year history of the brand).

They’re marked $3.09 a box nationwide starting this month at grocery stores and discount centers, and they include a peel-off 45-cent coupon. (Some retailers are selling them for less than $3.09 to start with – so they end up being around $2 at some locations with the coupon.)
The website is www.littledebbie.com.

Short on Time?
Remember Heather, The Mogul Mom, if you haven’t signed up to receive her blog updates, this should give you a reason to do so. A couple of weeks ago she had this great article called 7 Ways For Mom Entrepreneurs to Save Time, Money and Sanity. As I’ve been short on time recently, this was a lifesaver. Check it out at www.tinyurl.com/q32wny And while you’re there check out her other articles, and yes, sign up for the newsletter.

A Must Have Pantry Item
And speaking of being short on time, I discovered a new must have pantry item…a package of frozen meatballs. Actually, the ones that came to my rescue were Quorn, meatfree ones that were on sale at the co-op. It was close to dinnertime, I stood in the kitchen thinking what am I going to cook, when the package of meatballs gave me an idea. Meatball stroganoff with Minute Rice. I sauté chopped onions, added about ½ cups of stock, some paprika, a can of mushrooms and reduced it down until it was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You can also speed the process up by adding cornstarch mixed with water. Then add the meatballs while the Minute Rice cooks in the microwave.

Another Item for the Pantry
Another handy pantry item is frozen shrimp, just today I bought a 2 pound bag for $3.99 at the supermarket. I’ll be trying out this recipe from Thai Kitchen www.thaikitchen.com

Thai Red Curry Shrimp and Vegetables
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 can (14 oz.) Thai Kitchen® Coconut Milk
2 tbsp. Thai Kitchen® Red Curry Paste
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup assorted vegetables, such as snap peas, bamboo shoots and sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil (optional)
2 tbsp. Thai Kitchen® Premium Fish Sauce
Fresh red chiles, thinly sliced (optional)

• BRING coconut milk to simmer in large skillet on medium heat. Stir in curry paste and sugar until well blended; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
• STIR in shrimp and vegetables. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink and vegetables are tender-crisp. Stir in basil and fish sauce.
• SERVE with cooked Thai Kitchen® Jasmine Rice. Garnish with additional basil and red chile slices, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Test Kitchen Tip: Thai basil has dark green leaves with purple stems and has a licorice flavor. It can be found in most Asian groceries. If unavailable, substitute Italian basil.

Green Curry Shrimp: Prepare as directed, using 1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen® Green Curry Paste in place of the Red Curry Paste. For added heat, use 2 tablespoons Green Curry Paste.

I always love the recipes sent from the Spice Hunter www.spicehunter.com and this next one is no exception. Here’s a photo of the spread I made last Saturday. It was almost all gone by Sunday evening. I tried it with sliced apples and it’s delicious. I’m thinking it would also make a great frosting for chocolate cupcakes too!

pumpkin  spread 003

Pumpkin Spread


1-8oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. Spice Hunter Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin
BLEND cream cheese and sugar until smooth in a food processor. Add pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice and then blend thoroughly. Chill until serving. Serve with sliced apples, sliced pears, graham crackers, Gingersnaps or sugar cookies. Spread on toast or bagels. Makes about 4 cups.

And another recipe from The Spice Hunter

The Best Rice Side Dish

2 cups Basmati rice
4 cups water
2 Tbsp. oil
1 large onion
2 tsp. decorticated cardamom (seeds removed from pods)
8 The Spice Hunter Whole Penang Cloves
1 The Spice Hunter Indonesian Cinnamon Stick
12 The Spice Hunter 100% Organic Whole Black Peppercorns
1 tsp. The Spice Hunter Turkish Cumin Seeds
2 tsp. salt (optional)

Rinse rice and soak in water 30 minutes. Sauté onion in oil in a medium saucepan until golden. Bruise cardamoms and add with cloves, cinnamon, cumin and black peppercorns to onions. Sauté briefly until aroma is released (about 30 seconds). Strain rice, reserving water, and sauté with onions and spices for 3 minutes, until the rice becomes translucent. Add water and salt (optional) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook gently until water is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.

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