admin / February 16, 2012

Ramblings From A Budget Smart Girl and a newsletter…sort of

My apologies for falling behind on the postings on the site and for the lack of newsletters for the year but it’s been a busy time. I’ve been teaching writing workshops, doing edits for some upcoming books, and recently was lucky enough to get two non-fiction book contracts. (Yep, I’ll be having some book giveaways on the site for you when they’re released) So today I thought I’d spend  time catching up and sharing with you all the good stuff that’s been landing in my e-mail inbox and to tell you what’s coming up next week.

First of all here’s a late Valentine’s Day recipe for you from Pringles….the weekend will be a great time to enjoy this one. www.pringles.com

 

 

Pringles Brownies

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces baking chocolate, unsweetened

3/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1-6.41 ounce can of Original PRINGLES, regular or reduced fat

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Powdered sugar for dusting  (optional)

 DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F

2.  Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, and spray foil with cooking spray.

3.   In a glass bowl, microwave chocolate and butter on high for 2 minutes.  Stir until chocolate melts. 

4.   In a stainless steel bowl, mix sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well mixed. 

5.  Pour in butter chocolate mixture and mix well.

6.   Empty PRINGLES and flour into a food processor, and puree until very fine. 

7.  Empty flour mixture into chocolate mixture and mix well; add nuts to distribute.   

8.   Bake for 30 minutes, and cool.

Souper Contest

And the folks at Progresso Soup sent this to pass along

 This year, the Souper You® Contest will provide three lucky winners with an ultimate makeover experience in Hollywood; this includes a trip for 2 to Los Angeles, California where the winner will receive a head-to-toe makeover including hair and makeup, guided shopping spree with a $1,000 fashion retailer gift card, $1,000 spending money and 2 tickets to this season´s live finale of NBC´s The Biggest Loser

Progresso is asking fans to visit www.SouperYou.com and submit their photo with a brief essay about why they love Progresso soups and why they deserve a makeover, by no later than February 22nd

Fans can check back on March 12th for the announcement of the top ten finalists, and to vote for their favorite finalist until March 25th

Some articles of interest-

Thinking about joining a warehouse club?

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-113846-11781-1-8-ways-to-save-at-bulk-stores?ywaad=ad0035&nc

Chef recommended ingredients-

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/chefs-8217-secret-ingredients-every-kitchen-needs-161100998.html

Ways to Use the Microwave-

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/7-unexpected-uses-microwave-164800328.html

Next Week-

On Monday I’m hoping to have a book giveway for you along with another veggie recipe. And I’m starting a new feature about ways to make extra money. Just about everything is costing more money these days so I thought it would be a great idea to find places where you can make a little extra cash.  The first feature will highlight the company and then the second  part will feature  interviews with people who are actually making money on the site.

admin / February 13, 2012

It’s Meatless Monday-Tempeh Bolognese

Last week I decided to buy a package of tempeh. It cost $2.49. Like tofu it’s made from soybeans but is femented. I’ve eaten tempeh bacon and enjoyed it so thought I’d try making something for Meatless Monday with plain tempeh.  I searched Web sites and cookbooks but then by pure coincidence the recipe of the week that was sent through e-mail from Vegetarian Times was for Tempeh Bolognese. Perfect I thought.  Here’s the recipe-

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/11155?section=

I left out the white wine because I didn’t have any on hand and used vegetable broth instead. I realized when I checked the photo on the site that I broke up in the tempeh into too smaller pieces and also mine turned into more of a sauce which wasn’t so bad because I served it with whole wheat spaghetti.

admin / February 12, 2012

Saving Money On Heart Healthy Products

Here is Marcia’s February post all about ways to save on good for you foods-

One of the myths about coupons I frequently hear is that the only coupons available are for processed foods; that there are no coupons on healthy items. While I will admit that you will see more money-saving coupons good on snacks and desserts, there are certainly plenty of coupons issued for organic foods, gluten-free products, sugar-free products, as well as all natural cosmetics and cleaning items. So since February is American Heart Month, let’s take a look at how to save big without buying artery-clogging items.

The Coupon Hunt

The key to finding coupons on healthier fare is to start looking in new places. For example, skim magazines targeted at fitness fans, who are likely to be health conscious. Take a look through flyers and publications at the doctor’s office; ask if they have coupons or samples to share. Search online for brand names you buy and the word “coupon,” to see what may be available. Review the coupon inventory at coupon clipping services such as http://www.couponsthingsbydede.com/ or www.couponhero.co and order coupons that may not have appeared in your local paper. Send fan email to companies that produce products you prefer, asking if they can spare some coupons. If you’re having trouble collecting coupons on products you buy, or would like to buy, go on the offensive and ask for them from the manufacturer.

Rely on Rebates

Another way to buy healthier food is to look for rebate forms that offer money back when you buy a certain category of products. For example, last weekend I found a rebate of $5 off a pound of pistachios. I can buy any variety (organic, salt-free, etc.) of pistachio that I prefer and the rebate still applies. The same is true for rebates off meat and seafood – you can buy organic, free range chicken if you so choose and you’ll still earn the rebate. I find some of the best rebate forms on www.ebay.com.

Use up Overage

Some folks who buy a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and who struggle to find coupons on these items, still manage to get their produce cheaper by taking advantage of overage. Overage occurs when a coupon is worth more than the price of a product. Some stores allow you to take that difference between the coupon value and product cost and apply to other items in your cart. Wal-mart is one store that allows overage and will even give you cash back if you’ve earned it through overage.

So let’s say you have four coupons worth $2 off bars of soap, which cost $1 each. The coupons are worth $8 and the soap will cost $4, leaving you with free soap and $4 extra. You can use that extra $4 to buy eggs, milk, and juice, for example. It doesn’t really matter what product you have to buy to get the overage – you can donate anything you don’t want or need – as long as you maximize your overage to cover the cost of items you do want.

You may need to be a little more creative to save money on gluten-free cupcakes or organic milk, but the savings opportunities are still out there.

Happy saving!

Marcia Layton Turner is an avid coupon clipper who saves thousands of dollars a year by using them. She is also the author of Extreme Couponer: Insider secrets to getting groceries for free. http://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Couponer-Insider-Groceries-ebook/dp/B005HMO7UU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329069623&sr=1-1

admin / February 10, 2012

A Budget Friendly Appliance-The Slow Cooker

One kitchen appliance I love for saving me both time and money is my slow cooker. Actually I have two of them. If you haven’t tried using one to cook a couple of meals a week, here are some resources I gathered up to help you-

Converting Recipes

I have lots of recipes using the slow cooker that I use over and over again. And yes, that’s the problem. I wanted to convert some of my other recipes to this style of cooking but didn’t know where to start. I found this useful guide from a site called Saving Dinner…you can sign up for the newsletter too.

http://savingdinner.com/articles/crockpot-troubleshooting/

Lots of Good Recipes

One site I have bookmarked, and I also checked out the book at the library and loved all the recipes is this one. (One plus is the author gives some feedback on how the recipe turned out so you know what to expect)-

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

More Slow Cooker Tips

Even after you’ve been using your slow cooker for years there are still things to learn-

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/7-tricks-for-better-slow-cooking-in-your-crock-pot-2590707.html

Reasons to Love the Slow Cooker

Cheaper Foods Cook Well

One thing the slow cooking process does is tenderize cheaper cuts of meats so it’s a good way to stretch your budget.

Save on Energy

A slow cooker uses less energy than turning on the oven and a couple of burners. You can put everything, meat, potatoes and veggies in one pot and you’re done. In summertime it doesn’t overheat your kitchen.

Clean Up is Easy

If you’re short on time, cleaning up one pot is simple.

Walk Away and Leave It

One of my favorite things about a slow cooker is I can put everything into it in the morning, walk away, do my work and not have to worry about it until dinner time. It’s almost like having a live in chef.

Makes Just About Anything

And it’s not just soups and stews you can make. I’ve heard people who have great success with baking cakes in theirs. I’ve made apple butter in mine, baked cheese for an appertizer during the holidays. And in my opinion rice and bread puddings made in one are fantastic.

Cooking Beans is Simple

Last year I decided not to buy any more canned beans. I know they don’t break the budget but from one pound of beans that costs around $1.20 I get about six cans for beans. And I can buy varieties I can’t always find in the canned version.

My routine for cooking them is simple. After dinner I soak them for a few hours, drain them, and then add more water. (make sure you have about two inches of water above top layer of beans), I add peppercorns and bay leaves and let them cook on low overnight. When I get up the next morning they’re cooked and ready to be drained. If I’m not using them all at once I freeze them.

Lessons Learned

A couple of things I have learned not to do. When I first starting cooking with one, I’d remove the lid every hour to check on things…that’s a no-no because it increases the cooking time.

Also, don’t add things that cook quickly straight away. For example, if you’re using canned beans they don’t need to go into the slow cooker until the very end. Same goes for zucchini that quickly disappeared. And tofu, nope, cook it in a skillet and add it during the last five minutes just to warm it through.

admin / February 3, 2012

Save Time and Money with Desperation Dinners

Workwise it’s been a hectic week for me and sometimes we’re all entitled to days when cooking dinner is the last thing we want to do. I know it’s tempting to get in the car and head to restaurant but here are some meals I fall back on when things get crazy. I call them my desperation dinners.

Cook From the Pantry Supply

If you’ve never been motivated to keep the pantry well stocked, now’s a great time to do some planning. Make a list of things you’d like to keep on hand and buy one or two items each time you’re at the store. If you stock the right ingredients it means you can always pull together a great meal with items that are just sitting on the shelves. Pasta, tuna, olives, dried basil, and Italian dressing can become a hearty pasta dish. A pizza mix can be put together in minutes and topped with whatever’s on hand. It’s even a great way to use up leftovers. Pasta and a jar of marinara sauce is one of the quickest meals to pull together. Stuffing can make chicken breasts and pork chops taste like you’ve been in the kitchen all afternoon. And packages of flavored rice mixes, like Spanish rice, and a can of red or black beans, topped with salsa and cheese, can be turned into tacos and burritos.

Check the Freezer
The freezer can be another place to keep ingredients for desperation dinners, especially when you pair them up with pantry staples. Fish is one of the fastest cooking foods and ideal to keep on hand. And one of my favorite standbys is potatoes. Frozen hash browns make a quick base for a quiche instead of pastry. Cook the hash browns so they’re lighted browned, press them into a quiche pan and top with your favorite quiche recipe and bake as usual. Plus, I always have some mashed potatoes stored in the freezer. Some are flavored with garlic, or caramelized onions, and some have chopped chilies. They take a few minutes to defrost and can be paired with just about anything from a simple cut of meat to veggie burgers.

Make Your Own Meal Kits
When you have some extra ingredients and some extra time, put together a few meal kits ready for speedy dinners. Cook an extra chicken, cube the meat and place it in freezer bags. It can be turned into things like chicken hash, or a quick potpie. Or even mixed with cheese and chilies for quesadillas. Another one of my favorite speedy meals is a stir-fry. Keep a package of homemade marinated chicken along with some chopped vegetables like peppers, onions, and carrots, and within 20 minutes you’ve got a really great meal.

Another quick meal I also like is Shepherd’s Pie, and if you’ve got ready prepared mashed potatoes it’s even quicker. Here’s my speedy version of the dish.

Heat about half a cup of chopped onions and carrots in a skillet; add a pound of ground beef or turkey and cook until the onions and carrots are soft.

Add some stock, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce and about two tablespoons of tomato paste and heat through. Put the mixture into a casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes.

Sprinkle them with chives and parsley, bake at about 350 degrees until everything is heated through. It’s great served with green beans or peas.

Soup and Sandwich Time
No one ever said dinner has to be meat and two vegetables. Soups and sandwiches can make a satisfying meal. Start with a tomato-based soup and add things like cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips. It pairs well with a garden wrap, made from a tortilla and filled with avocado, tomatoes and Monterey cheese with hot peppers. Or even a BLT with a twist…use some sun-dried tomatoes. Another great combo is a roast beef sandwich and French onion soup. One product I really like to use in sandwiches is the new Hellmann’s Dijonnaise, a creamy Dijon mustard that’s fat free, but yet really adds some zing to just about everything it’s paired with.

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