Friday, July 30, 2010

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie

Have you ever had a hankerin' to recreate some comfort food out of your past? Several weeks ago I celebrated a birthday. A birthday I didn't think I would live long enough to experience (at least in my ten year old mind). A birthday that makes me want to breathe into a paper bag every time I think about it. A birthday that the fine facial lines, dark hairs (not grey, mind you, black.... quite an insult to a blonde!), jiggly upper arms (and OTHER areas I don't want to talk about, either), driver's license and seventeen year old son give away. In short, a BIRTHDAY I am still in DENIAL over!

I decided on that birthday that if I was going to be a ** something, I was going to do what I wanted and EAT what I wanted (at least for 24 hours). Recreating the Blueberry Sour Cream pie I ate years ago when I was a 20 something, was on my Birthday Bucket List (so was figuring out how to use my Birthday I pod, but that's ANOTHER story!).

I first ate this delicious dessert at a Frontier Pies restaurant, years ago (back when I could eat whatever I wanted and the calories didn't permanently adhere to my posterior!). It started with a flaky pie crust, then a layer of vanilla custard, a layer of fresh blueberry filling, and finally a deliciously thick layer of sweetened whipping cream! It was divine, and addictive; especially if you are a blueberry lover! I enjoyed it on several occasions, but sadly, the restaurant went out of business. I hadn't thought about it in forever, but as my birthday loomed, I began to crave it again. After a fruitless search on the Internet to find the recipe, I posted a query in the food forum on Pinching Your Pennies. Eureka! Someone found the recipe for the custard layer for me (for which, I am eternally grateful!). Now, I needed to recreate the blueberry layer. After perusing my cookbook collection, I found something similar in one of my favorite cookbooks:

"Heirloom Baking With The Brass Sisters" (written by Marilynn and Sheila Brass; two of my favorite culinary gurus). Here is what I came up with!

(Not the actual picture of the pie. The little piggy's at my house ate it before I could photograph it. This picture is to give you an idea what it looks like!)

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie
(makes one pie)

One prebaked pie crust (deep dish works best)

Custard Layer:
1 small package cook and serve vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Empty dry pudding mix into a medium size saucepan. Whisk in milk. Heat over medium heat until pudding is thickened and bubbly. Take off the heat and let cool until lukewarm. Remove 1 cup of pudding from saucepan(save the rest for another purpose). Place pudding into a bowl and stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and nutmeg until well combined. Pour mixture into baked pie crust and chill for one hour.

Blueberry Layer:

1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (divided)
2 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon water (divided)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Place 1/3 cup of blueberries and 2 1/2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 4 minutes then remove from heat. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon of water together. Add cornstarch mixture, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the cooked blueberries. Return to a boil over low heat for one minute, or until thickened. Let cool completely. When cooled pour blueberry filling over chilled custard. Chill at least 3 hours (overnight is better).

Whipped Cream Layer:

1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pour whipping cream into a well chilled bowl (place bowl and mixer beaters in the freezer for an hour before whipping cream). Add vanilla. Whip cream until starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat cream until very firm. Right before serving spread whipped cream over blueberry filling. Refrigerate leftovers.

This is a lot of work for one pie, but it is worth it! If your short on time, you can always use a frozen pie crust, and canned blueberry pie filling. This yummy pie almost made it worth turning **.....almost!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tip Carnival

Today I am linking up with Around My Family Table for Tip Day Thursday! I personally am a tip junkie! There is nothing I enjoy more than reading good ideas out of blogs, magazines, and books. I bow down to handy tip gurus like Heloise and Amy Dacyczyn. It takes the "village" to get through life anymore, so if someone has a great idea for making life easier, we all benefit! Go check out this cute blog and all the fun ideas people have shared!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tightwad Mom's Frugal Book Pick Of The Month

When it comes to reigning in the grocery budget, it is a essential to have a game plan. That is why menu planning is an important slice in the thrifty pie. I, however, stink at menu planning. I have good intentions and will set a tenative line up of dinners, based on what's in my freezer, what's on sale that week, and the family's schedule, but at sometime during the week I end up winging a dinner or two. Either that, or I will sit down with calender and pencil in hand, ready to coordinate a week's worth of well balanced, gourmet dinner delight's (notice the sarcasm!); when my brain freezes up and I can not think of one thing that sounds even remotely appetizing. That is why I admire those of you who faithfully sit down and plan out a week or month's worth of menus.

So, for those of us, who rely on other peoples menu ideas, Jana Schofield has come to the rescue!
She has written a cookbook that does the work for you!

She has designed a cookbook that provides 30 weeks worth of dinner menus! It is broken down by each week. At the top of the page is 7 days worth of dinner ideas (including main dish, salad or side dishes, and dessert). Underneath the menu are all the recipes.

Jana is a Home Economics teacher (something that I admire), and she really knows her stuff! She also provides basic information for beginner's, and time (and money saving) tips. In the back there are two indexes: one is alphabetical, the other is categorized by item. Making it fast and easy to find any recipe.All the recipes are very easy, delicious, and call for basic ingredients and pantry staples. You can either follow the book religiously, or mix and match to meet your needs.
There are some divine dessert recipes included. I have made several of these desserts for potlucks and family gathering. There are rarely leftovers to bring home, and I get numerous requests for the recipes!

A dear friend of mine (also a Home Ec. teacher that I very much admire) introduced me to this fun cookbook. I love it so much I ordered one of my own immediately! Now, I have used my copy so much the pages are pockmarked with stains, and they getting very dog eared! I try to keep a stash of these books on hand to give as wedding, graduation, Christmas, and birthday gifts. Go check out Jana's website soon!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ridley's (Associated Foods) Deals 7/27 - 8/2

Sorry that I missed posting last weeks deals! Life sorta got in the way! There are some great deals at Ridley's this week, though! There are a couple of case lot deals that are worth stocking up on, too.
  • Mini seedless watermelon $2.27 each
  • 1 pound containers of strawberries $1.47 each
  • Small pink grapefruit 3 for $1.00
  • Bone in eye of round roast $1.99 pound
  • Bone in country style pork ribs $1.49 pound
  • Lean ground turkey $1.99 pound
  • Boneless pork sirloin chops $1.69 pound
  • Big buy (1 pound) bacon $1.49 each
  • Hunt's Snack Pack (4 count) pudding cups $.87 each
  • 20 pack Coke products $3.78 each (first two)
  • Farr's (1 gallon bucket) ice cream, assorted varieties $3.99 each
  • Suave (11 oz.) shampoo $.88 each
  • Assorted varieties of W.F. canned beans (15 oz) $.63 each (case of 24 $15.12)
  • W.F. refried beans (15 oz) $.64 each (case of 23 $15.36)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reining In The Grocery Budget (Part 2): Make Your Own Convenience Foods

First of all, let me just say that whoever said,"The lazy days of Summer", was A BIG, FAT, STINKIN' LAIR PANTS! Holy cow, summer break is going to KILL me! I cannot seem to be able to keep up with all the dear children's scheduled (and unscheduled) activities, last minute picnics and Barbecues. Not to mention I am drowning in an endless sea of laundry, dirty dishes; and the house is so dirty I'm pretty sure the Health Department is going to send a Haz Mat team over any day now! Whew! I feel much better now that I got that off my chest.

During times like these I like to rely heavily on convenience items to make meal time easier, but they can be a budget breaker if you buy them prepackaged at the store. In my never ending quest for frugality I have discovered that you can make of these items yourself. The hardest part is setting aside time out of your busy schedule to prepare them. Setting aside a few hours in the evening or on the weekends is worth it, though.

I have a good friend who clued me in to making your own french toast sticks. She makes a loaf or two of bread (check bread outlet stores for stale bread, it makes the best french toast and it's cheaper) into french toast, then slices them into four sections (horizontally) with a pizza cutter. She places them on wax paper lined cookies and freezes them. When frozen she stores them in gallon plastic freezer bags. To reheat just pop in the microwave for a minute. I like to save the plastic cups Crystal Light comes in to use as dipping cups (to keep my kids from using a ton of syrup). Double the recipe for a batch of waffles or pancakes, and freeze the extras the same way as the french toast. Pop in the toaster to reheat. It is also easy to make your own flavored cream cheese to spread on bagels or toast!

Making your own frozen burritos and bagel pizzas is fast and easy, too. To make burritos simply place a 1/3 cup of meat (or refried beans) down the center of a softened (microwave for 10 seconds) 12 in flour tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on top fold the bottom end over the filling, fold in sides and roll up. Place seam side down on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet and freeze. Store in a gallon plastic freezer bag. Microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to reheat.

When I find ground beef on sale I will buy a large amount. I will cook 5 or 10 pounds of it with onion and green peppers. Then I fill quart size plastic freezers bags (about 2 cups per bag) with the mixture and freeze it to use in soup, chili, spaghetti, or casserole. Sometimes I will add taco seasoning to some of it for variety. I do the same thing with chicken breasts ( I use bone in if I want to save the broth to make soup). When the chicken is done I shredded it and divide into freezer bags and freeze. We all know cooked chicken has endless possibilities!

Cutting up produce when you bring it home from the store is another way to save time later on.
Shred lettuce (store it in a gallon plastic freezer bag with two paper towels in the bottom. The paper towels wick the moisture away from the lettuce and keep it fresh for a week or longer.), chop or slice tomatoes, shred carrots and store in clear plastic containers in the fridge until you need them. Celery, onions, and peppers can be chopped and flash frozen (yes, you guessed it) on wax paper lined cookie sheets. Let the frozen cookie sheet sit on the counter for a few minutes before you try to remove the frozen veggies to make them easier to remove them. Store them in freezer bags. Melons can be peeled, cut up and stored in the fridge for up to a week. Apples can be sliced and stored in a plastic container in the fridge if you pour and can of Sprite or 7 Up over them (make sure they are completely submerged) for a day or two.

When I do have time to cook I double the recipe and put one in the freezer (uncooked) for later. Lasagna, soup, enchiladas, stuff shells, pulled pork, non cream based casseroles (sour cream and cream based sauces separate when they are frozen), stew, and spaghetti sauce all freeze well. If you are short of freezer space. Put entrees in gallon plastic freezer bags, and lay flat to freeze. Then you can stack them. Make sure what you write what the entree is and the date you put it in the freezer to save on surprises later!

You can even make your own seasoning, pancake, muffin, quick bread, and cake mixes. The are a ton of make your own mix cookbooks (and most can be found at your local library. They can also be purchased used on or thrift stores). A few of my favorites are:
  • Make A Mix Cookery (by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, and Madeline Westover)
  • More Make A Mix Cookery ( by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, and Madeline Westover)
  • Food Storage For The Clueless (by Clark L. and Kathryn H. Kidd)
  • Family Feasts For $75.00 A Week (by Mary Ostyn)
If you decide to make your own mixes. Buy the ingredients in the bulk section at the grocery store or at a bulk warehouse store to cut down on cost.

Alas, I hear the clamoring of hungry little (and not so little children)! They are telling my it is way past dinner time, and they will starve to death in the next five minutes if I don't feed them right now, but I will be back soon with more budget saving ideas!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This Week's Bountiful Basket and Volunteering Fun

I haven't posted our Bountiful Basket bounty for a while, so I thought it would be fun show everyone this week's haul! I know I have mentioned my fondness for Bountiful Baskets before, but it really is a great opportunity to take advantage of low cost, high quality produce. This week we received:
  • A large head of leaf lettuce
  • a large bag of spinach
  • a head of cauliflower
  • 3 butternut squash
  • a bundle of white asparagus (A great delicacy. The kids won't touch the green variety, but were fighting over the white....does that make them vegetable snobs?)
  • a 3 pound bunch of green grapes
  • 4 mangoes
  • 5 bananas
  • 9 peaches
  • 8 giant plums
  • 10 limes
I always split my basket with my dear friend. If this might be to many fruits and veggies for your family, only order every other week or split the cost with a friend or neighbor, too.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, Bountiful Baskets Co-op relies on volunteers to make each site successful. Bountiful Baskets is NOT a business. It is a voluntary organization. They do not make any money from this venture. In fact, the sites main coordinators (Sally and Tanya), who are based in Arizona, do this as a volunteer service. Most co-op's I have heard about require that participants help run the site (to keep costs down). That is why if you want to participate in Bountiful Baskets you should plan to help out at least one Saturday every other month (but feel free to go as often as you can!)

I decided to practice what I preach, and went to volunteer this morning! I showed up bright and early at 6:45 a.m. (with a LARGE Diet Coke stowed in the Suburban). I have to say it was a blast! I made some new friends. Got a semi aerobic workout (helping lift boxes of produce out of the semi truck, dividing out fruits and veggies, and squatting to load baskets into participants baskets). Visited with a few participants and volunteers. Got a bonus produce item in my basket for helping out, and scored the perfect cardboard boxes for storing empty quart canning jars in! Here are some important things to remember when you go to volunteer:
  • Dress for the weather!
  • Wear clothes that can get dirty.
  • Wear close toed shoes. It really hurts if you drop boxes on naked toes!
  • Show up at least one hour early. Check The Bountiful Basket web site for the time volunteers should be at your site.
  • Be prepared to stay the entire time the site is open (it will take about 2 hours).
  • Have FUN!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ridley's and BiLo's (Associated Food) Deals 7/13- 7/19

I guess the phrase "better late than never" is appropriate right now. I know I am a few days late posting, but there are some really good deal's at Ridley's this week!

Leaf lettuce (assorted varieties) $.69 each
Cantaloupe 3 pounds for $1.00
Roma tomatoes $.59 pound
15 pound bag of russet potatoes $1.49 each
Assorted (2 liter) Coke products $.99 each
Shasta (12 count) soda $1.43 each (for your first two)
Pork loin chops $1.49 pound
Shank portion ham $.99 pound (Butt portion $1.29 pound)
Cache Valley (2 pound bag assorted varieties) shredded cheese $4.99 each
W.F. (1 dozen) medium eggs $.59 each
W.F. (1 pound) box margarine $.48 each
Don Julio (10 count) flour tortillas $.99 each
Maruchan (2.25 oz cup) ramen noodles $.29 each

If you live in Pocatello, Idaho there is a fabulous local Mom and Pop grocery store (Nel's Bi-Lo Market). I am a firm believer is supporting local businesses (since Dear Hubby happens to own one), and Nel's Bi-Lo has been family run since 1957. They also carry Western Family products, and there sales are generally the same as Ridley's. They pride themselves on customer service, catering for family functions and large groups (I have sampled several of their entrees over the year's and all were excellent), fresh produce, quality butchered meat( it's some of the best I have ever eaten), and their own in house made sausage (some of the best Dear Hubby has ever eaten, and he is a sausage SNOB!)!

They also carry a variety of canning produce (by the case) during late summer and early fall. Each week they a have extra produce specials on Thursday and meat specials on Saturday that are definitely worth taking advantage of! You can sign up for a weekly email of their specials in the store or check them out by clicking on Hot Buys here.

This week Nel's Bi-Lo has a full flat of strawberries for $7.99 (first come, first serve). So stock up and put some in the freezer (and maybe try your hand at some strawberry freezer jam. Check out this recipe at Prudence Pennywise's blog)!
They are also having a 3 day Summer Grilling Sale July 15, 16, and 17th. There are some EXCELLENT deals, so check it out soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making Your Food Stockpile Last

In my last post I discussed a little bit about the "Pantry Principle" and stockpiling on sales to save money on your grocery budget. However, if you have a household full of hungry children (a.k.a locusts) your stockpile can dwindle rapidly; especially if they share with the neighbor kid's! I am always looking for ways to make my stash last as long as possible, so I was super excited when I found this great post on Pinching Your Pennies blogspot yesterday. Marne (one of PYP great contributors) shares some great ideas on making your stockpile last. Go check out her great ideas; it is time well spent!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reining In The Grocery Budget (Part 1)

Last night I was meandering around our local High School track with my neighbor (one of the perks of our neighborhood is that we live two blocks from the school). We were discussing how the economy has been affecting our friends and neighbors. In the course of our discussion we were lamenting how difficult it has been to make ends meet for everyone. My friend mentioned that she didn't know how anyone could live on less than XXX amount of dollars per year. Her comment caught me off guard because we live similar lifestyles, but Dear Hubby and I make less than the amount she had randomly thrown out. That made me stop and think..... how have I been keeping it together all these years!

The first thought that came to mind was the grocery budget. For most of us it is one of the only flexible areas in the budget. I will admit that mine does fluctuate. Summer time is death on my grocery budget. I have four children (and assorted friends) that are constantly grazing at my house. If I had a nickel for every time I heard (and I quote) " There is NOTHING good to eat in this house", I would probably be able to afford to buy groceries! I know they are referring to the fact that I do not buy fruit snacks, pudding cups, fishy crackers, potato chips, or kid soda (as they refer to it) for snacking. I try to keep the kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt, granola bars, cheese, chocolate milk mix (bought in bulk), homemade muffins, quick breads, or cookies instead. If I do buy prepackaged snack items it's on sale with coupons, and then they have to be dirt cheap or FREE. I have a dual agenda here; it is cheaper to buy the least packaged option and it is also healthier.

When the budget gets tight at our house (a.k.a. unexpected medical bills, or toilet repairs) I suck up the grocery budget to pay other bills. When that happens I rely on my "stash" of food storage in the basement. Then I only have to buy perishables like milk, cheese, and fresh vegetables. I read several books on frugal lifestyles, and all referred to the pantry principle. Basically, the pantry principle is that you write out a list of basic food and non food items that your family uses regularly. You then set aside XX amount of money each month to stock up on those items when they are on sale or during caselot sales (they suggest anywhere from 3 months to 1 years supply depending on storage space available. This took my a year to do, so PLEASE don't second mortgage the house to buy it all at once). As you use the items out of your "stash" you place that item on the grocery list and replace them when they are on sale. The theory behind this is that you have enough back stock that you can wait to buy items when they are a great deal rather than purchasing them because you are out. Most products go on sale at least every three months!

I also cook from scratch as much as possible. It really is easier than it sounds. There are tons of cookbooks at the library on every aspect and level of cooking. I have checked out numerous cookbooks and photocopied recipes that I knew my family would eat. Food blogs (and there are links to several fabulous ones right here on this blog!) are another great resource. I compiled all of my photocopied recipes in a three ring binder inside page protectors (bought cheap during back to school sales. The protectors also make my recipes spill proof and easily wipeable). They are categorized by main dishes, desserts, side dishes, etc. That way all the recipes that I use frequently are in one easy location. If I am making casserole, lasagna, soup, or stew I will double the recipe and freeze half of it for a busy night.

I could go on and on and on (can you tell I might be a little obsessed with the subject?)! By now I am sure your eyes have glazed over, or you are passed out cold on the floor so I will be back soon to continue my little, I mean educational prose, with more ideas and suggestions ( I know you can hardly wait!!).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ridley's (Associated Food) Deals 7/6- 7/12

Looks like there are some good deals this week at Ridley's; especially on produce.

  • W.F. (16 oz) Cottage cheese $.99 each
  • General Mills Chex or Total cereal; assorted varieties $1.47 each
  • Betty Crocker Brownie mixes $.89 each
  • W.F. (5 oz) Chunk light tuna 2 for $1.00
  • W.F. (14.5 oz) canned tomatoes; assorted varieties $.59 each
  • White Satin (2 pound bags) Brown or Powdered sugar $.98 each (this is a great deal so stock up!)
  • White Satin (10 pound bag) granulated sugar $4.48 each
  • W.F. Seasoning packets $.39 each
  • Bing cherries $1.88 pound
  • Seedless watermelon 4 pounds for $1.00
  • Head of iceberg lettuce $.79 each
  • Red cluster tomatoes $.59 pound


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