Monday, May 30, 2011

Tell Me What YOU Think!

 (Don't you just love when you can make your child pose for your blog?)

Well, Dear Readers, I have been mulling over the idea of maturing the layout of my blog for awhile now. When I started blogging a year and a half ago, I was basically computer illiterate.  I started this blog to record some of the different ways I recycle, reuse, and make do. I also wanted a venue to record my projects and self challenges (to keep myself on task, so to speak), and a place to put down my thoughts and personality. It has been a slow work in progress, but a very rewarding one.

I never in a bazillion years, thought I would end up having so many great followers and readers! I consider you all Fabulous Friends, and I ADORE when you all leave comments! Your comments make my day!  So, I am asking for your opinions!!! I want to continue to make this blog a place you want to stop by, visit, and MAYBE glean some useful information. Here are my questions:
  1. Do you like the new layout? Is it to "Red"? Would you prefer something a little more subdued?
  2. What topics, thoughts,recipes, or ideas would you like me to blog about? 
  3. Would you be up to joining me in a frugal challenge or two?
Please, FABULOUS BLOGGY FRIENDS,  share your opinions! Even if you have never commented before, I would love to hear from you!

P.S. I have set a little goal to hit 100+ followers by my birthday (which just happens to be July 7th). If  you enjoy your visits here at Tightwad Mom's Frugal Forum, please consider becoming a Follower (and boost my self esteem a little bit)! Thank you, you are all the best readers any blogger could ask for!

This Week's Menu 5/30

(this week's Bountiful Basket)
First of all, Happy Memorial Day, everyone!  It's going to be another crazy week. My Big Boy is going to be graduating from High School on Thursday, my kid's are finishing their last two days of school, and I am also going to be planting my garden this week (two week's of cold, rainy weather has inhibited my planting schedule).
Meals are going to be quick and easy. This week are going to be eating:

Oven Bar B Que pork ribs
Oven Roasted Potatoes

Vegetable Lo Mein
Water melon
Banana Muffins

Chicken Divan
Green Salad

Chicken A La King
Buttermilk Biscuits
Steamed Cauliflower

Graduation Party For My Big Boy
Pulled Pork Sandwiches



Thursday, May 26, 2011

Easy Peasy Skillet Chicken Rice

Tonight I was in a super big hurry to get dinner on the table, before the troops "scattered" for the evening. I didn't have time to throw the odds and ends into my usual "Craperole" or Cream of Garbage soup. Then, I remembered a friend talking  about a skillet recipe a friend of hers whipped up on busy, end of the month (a.k.a. end of the grocery budget) nights. I only got snippets of the conversation, so I pieced together what I could remember and improvised the rest (imagine, that!).  Thus, Easy Peasy Skillet Chicken Rice was born. The beauty of this recipe is that you can improvise anything for the ingredients listed (my favorite kind of recipe). It is truly a thirty minute meal, I had it on the table in half an hour. It was pretty tasty, and there are enough leftovers to send in several lunch boxes tomorrow (for those with access to a microwave).

Easy Peasy Skillet Chicken  Rice

2 tablespoons butter (or oil)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
2 cups chopped frozen broccoli
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons chicken bullion 
4 cups hot water
Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Heat butter (oil) in a large skillet.
  2. Add onion, carrot, garlic and rice to butter. Saute (stirring often) until onion and carrot are tender and rice is lightly brown.
  3. Add chicken, broccoli, parsley, bullion,pepper and hot water.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover skillet with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is soft.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired, before serving
  • You can replace the white rice for brown rice (increase cooking time to 40 - 45 minutes)
  • Replace the rice for 2 cups of orzo pasta. Simmer for 20 - 25 minutes until liquid absorbed.
  • Replace rice for 2 cups Quinoa. Simmer for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  • Replace broccoli for an equal amount of cauliflower, peas, green beans, or corn.
  • Replace cooked chicken for 1/2 pound cooked ground beef or country style sausage. 
  • Replace cooked chicken for 2 cups cooked beef (replace beef bullion for chicken bullion).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Some Of My Favorite Things

I am hopping busy today (what Mother isn't), but I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the joy of simple things. In my world, simple things are what make life worth living, and bring a calm to the craziness.

Here are a few of the simple things in my life that bring me joy:

Really good coupons for my favorite beverage. Just in time for the Memorial Day sales (and to replenish my "stash". I just happen to be down to my last box of Diet Coke).

Baking a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies in the quiet hour before the kids get home from school.

Have I mentioned that laundry blowing in the breeze makes me feel all giggly on the inside. Hanging laundry givea me a moment to get my thoughts in order. 

I especially love aprons blowing in the breeze (well, just aprons in general). In my opinion, aprons are the universal symbol of  "Domestic Fortitude"!!!

Blossoms on the strawberries. Soon there will be delicious red berries to eat!

Spring crops ready to be harvested.  Here the rhubarb is ready to be made into cobbler, or jam.

Dear Bloggy Friends, what are some of your simple pleasures?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Potato Buttermilk Bread

 When I baked bread for the week on Saturday, I wanted to try something a little different. My kid's like the buttermilk bread that I occasionally buy at  the store. Since I had a quart of buttermilk that needed to be used A.S.A.P., I thought I would try to recreate it at home.  I couldn't find a recipe that was quite what I was looking for, so I combined a couple of recipes and created my own. The bread actually turned out great!!! It was soft (from the potato flakes), had a little tang to it (from the buttermilk), and had a fabulous texture (not crumbly at all). My family ate most of a loaf for toast Sunday morning. I will definitely by adding this recipe to the bake often file!!

Potato Buttermilk Bread
(makes two loaves)

5 1/2 - 6 1/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 cup potato flakes
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
11/2 tablespoons butter or shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and potato flakes.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine buttermilk, sugar, butter/shortening, and salt. Heat and stir until mixture is warm (shortening is starting to melt, but not completely melted).
  3. Add warm liquid to the flour mixture.
  4. Beat mixture with a electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl.
  5. Beat  mixture on high for 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible; until  a medium dough forms.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and  elastic. Add flour in small increments, if necessary, to keep dough from sticking to the kneading surface.
  8. Place dough in a greased bowl (turn dough over once to grease the top). Cover and let rise until double (about an hour).
  9. Divide dough in half . Form into loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
  10. Cover loaves and let rise until dough is one inch above the pan
  11. Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes
  12. Remove from loaves from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
This bread works great for toast and as a sandwich bread.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Week's Menu 5/22

Hooray! I am actually posting this week's menu on time (before we are half way through the week). I am a little bit sad, though, because I was not able to get a Bountiful Basket this week. They sold out before I could get online. Oh well, I am going to use this week as an opportunity to clean out the vegetable bins, and use some of the fruit and vegetables I preserved last fall. This week we will be having:

Home made Pizza
Green Salad
Baklava (brought over by a Dear Sweet Neighbor)

Leftover Night

Baked Beans

Chicken Tacos
Spanish Rice
Orange Slices

Chicken Fricassee
Mashed Potatoes
Green Peas
Home Canned Pears
Leftovers or Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Holiday (I'm not sure what our plans are yet.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Odds And Ends

I just love a Saturday when I can stay home and get some "odds and ends" done.  Those kind of days seem to be few and far between, lately. Today is also a beautiful spring day: warm and sunny!  I am amazed how a sunny day just changes your whole outlook on life.  My Big Boy (Child #1), roto tilled all my garden spaces for me, so this week I can lay out and plant my garden.

Don't you just love the Rock my Big Boy decorated us for Christmas this year?  Who doesn't need a rock with their last name on it ?
My little seedlings are enjoying an afternoon basking in the sun! Hopefully, next week I'll be able to plant them in the garden.

I could finally start hanging the laundry outside! The last few attempts have ended up with me frantically scrambling to drag the wet clothes inside before they get rained on.  Followed by my hanging them all over the house to dry.  I haven't put up my official clothes line, so I have improvised for the time being. 

Call me crazy, but I LOVE  watching laundry blowing in the breeze!

I also baked  six loaves of bread this morning . We were completely out. The toast lover's were a little put out this morning! This week I baked Buttermilk Potato Bread and Honey Whole Wheat bread.

I can hear the lawn mower running,  Dear Hubby is deep cleaning our garage (a.k.a. taking a couple loads of garbage to the local land fill. It is free Dump Day at the landfill today), and the baby (Child #4) is creating a "squirrel trap" to go and catch squirrels in the neighborhood park with his buddies. I didn't have the heart to tell him that a squirrel is probably not going to go sit under a card board box propped up with a stick, and eat stale cashews, so you can pull the rope and drop the box on him. Besides, what do you do with an angry squirrel after you catch him?

Is it just me, or is life EXTRA FABULOUS today?  I you are all enjoying a beautiful spring day, as well!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prom Time

I was going to post this on Saturday (the actual day of the Prom), but it's kind of hard to post on your blog when the Internet is down! Better late than never, I guess.

It just seems like I was posting about the Prom, and here it is, again! Is it just me or does time seems to be speeding up?  In true Tightwad Mom fashion, I tried to cut costs as much as possible.

The kid's decided they wanted to go on a picnic for dinner rather than a restaurant meal. I provided dessert. Cheesecake was requested by one and all. Don't tell the kid's, but I didn't have time to make sauce for the top of the cheesecake. It's just strawberry freezer jam than I warmed up in the microwave for a couple seconds.

I also made the corsage and boutonniere. One ten dollar bouquet of flowers yielded one corsage and two boutonnieres with some flowers left over. I probably could have squeezed a second corsage out if necessary.

Of course, in true Mom fashion, I do have to show off how cute my baby looks. His date was so beautiful, and she is a sweetheart. He couldn't have picked a nicer girl to take.

A Prom date is much more fun if you have your buddies with you! Child #1 decided that he would rather wear a suit than a tuxedo this year. I was totally fine with his decision. I would rather invest the $100.00 rental fee toward a suit purchase. The best part is that when we went to J.C. Penney to look for one, they had a Clearance rack full of suit jackets and pants. I also had clipped a "save $20.00 off $100.00 coupon" out of the newspaper. In the end, we were able to purchase a suit jacket and two pairs of pants for $86.00. Much cheaper than even renting a tux. He did want a vest to match his date's dress, so we rented one for the night.

The kids all had a great time! If you would like to read my other post on money saving ideas of school dances, you can find it HERE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Week's Menu 5/17: The Will I Ever Get My Life In Order Edition!

 ( My half of this week's basket)

For Pete sake, when it rains it pours!!! Our Internet has been down, due to a cable issue for the last five days; and the repair man has just left! It seems that when our Internet dish was installed five years ago, the installation person installed indoor only cable from the outside dish to our router. Needless to say, five years worth of weather has wrecked havoc on said cable. When the repairman showed me the cable he had just replaced it looked like a family of hungry beavers had chewed it up!  I am happy to report that we are now up and running with super, state of the art, outdoor approved ethernet cable. It is amazing how much better (and faster) the Internet works when it's not trying to "move" along frayed and broken wiring. I have to tell you it felt a little bit like being on a deserted island with out Internet. I feel like I'm behind, and I have missed reading all your fun comments and's good to be BACK!

Anyway, this week menu is pretty basic. Chicken still plays a major role (as I am still trying to use up the stash of whole chicken in the freezer).

Chicken Fricasee (bumped from last week)
Steamed Rice
Green Peas
Apple Pie (had some sketchy looking apple that needed eaten)

Cowboy Hash ( I'll post the recipe later this week)
Blueberry Muffins
Leftover Pie

Grilled Hot Dogs
Potato Salad
Pineapple cubes
Leftovers for the kids (Dear Daughter's Debate Banquet tonight)

Dad's Special (a.k.a. $5.00 pizza from Little Caesar's)
I have a meeting tonight

Chicken Enchiladas
Refried Beans
Green Salad

Chicken Fried Rice
Green Salad (or veggies that need used up)

Do any of my Dear Bloggy Friends have some ideas to use up Chicken?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Craperole.... Oh, I Mean Casserole!

 ( I didn't take a picture of this week's casserole, and besides it never looks the same twice. So here's a picture of my pretty blue dutch oven. After all, leftovers always look more appetizing in a pretty pot. It's all about presentation, baby!)

Dear Readers, I must apologize! Wednesday, while I was preparing my menu post, I tried to link Craperole to a previous post in the blog. No such post exists! In the seventeen months that this blog has been up and running, I have never posted the recipe for one of my most used resources.  First of all, casserole was lovingly named craperole at our house a long time ago. I don't know who actually named it, but the sentiment was very clear.....and the name has stuck! Secondly, Casserole is my preferred method for using up odds and ends out of the refrigerator, and it is always a great way to stretch more expensive food items with cheaper filler foods.  This recipe calls for cheese. This is, of course, optional; because it does add cost and calories to the finished project. However, I live in a household of cheese lovers. Odds are if there is cheese on top, it will be consumed with much less moaning and groaning! So, without further ado, the much "coveted" recipe for Craperole!

Catch All Casserole (a.k.a. Craperole) 

2 - 3 cups  starchy food; such as sliced or shredded cooked potatoes. cooked rice, or cooked pasta
1 - 2 cups leftover cooked meat; I use chicken and pork roast most often or 1 pound browned hamburger
1 - 2 cups  cooked leftover vegetables (or frozen vegetables)
1/2 cup each minced onion and celery (if you have some to use up)
2 cans Cream of  Something soup ( usually chicken, mushroom, or celery) or a combination of 1 can Cream f Something soup and 1 cup sour cream, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, or 1 ( 8oz) brick of cream cheese (softened) or 2 cups white sauce 
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute chopped onion and celery (if using) in 1 tablespoon of oil or butter until soft. In a large bowl place the  starchy food, cooked meat,  vegetables, and sauteed onion and celery (if using). Add in soups (or combinations), salt and pepper. Stir together and pour into a greased casserole dish. Bake covered at 375 for 40 - 45 minutes. Optional: uncover the casserole, sprinkle cheese on top and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes until the cheese melts.

Bon Appetite!!!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This Week's Menu 5/11: The Extremely Late Edition!

 (This week's Bountiful Basket, plus tortillas, and apparently my dirty laundry!)

Well, this week has turned out to be another crazy week. I don't know exactly how this happens. I suppose the quote, " Life is what happens while you are making other plans." is true. I have spent quite a lot of time with the girl's from church (who I am co directing Girl's Camp for) preparing for our week of fun in June. It is funny how a three day camping for the Boy Scouts (12 - 17) requires a pocket knife, sleeping bag, a change of socks (maybe), and 15 minutes of prep time. A three day camping trip for girl's (12 - 17) requires camp decorations, skits, songs, crafts, games, spiritual thoughts, accessorizing, and 12 weeks of planning. Oh, and glitter and glitter glue, are very necessary embellishments for a successful camp experience! We must have our bling! I am starting to suspect we are not going camping, but rather GLAMPING!!!

I have finally found a spare minute to transfer my weekly menu from the ratty piece of notebook paper hanging on the fridge to the blog (which is it's proper place, of course)! Chicken plays prominently in this week's menu, because I still have numerous whole chickens in the freezer that  probably should be used up.
It's also clean out the veggie bin week, too. This week we will be having (or have had):

Garlic Bread (made from leftover hamburger buns)
Carrot Cake

Beans, Bacon, and Red Potatoes (Mixed together. It's a favorite Dear Hubby's mom made growing up)
Pineapple Cubes
Leftover Carrot Cake

Chicken, Broccoli, Rice  Casserole ( a.k.a Craperole. I cleaned out the fridge and threw them together)
Pineapple Cubes

Chicken Soft Tacos
Spinach Salad
Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Chicken Fricasee
Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower (mashed together to disguise the cauliflower from the dislikers)
Home Canned Applesauce

Grilled Spare Ribs (Woo Hoo! It's suppose to be sunny and 73 degrees)
Macaroni Salad
Orange Slices

Leftover Night or Grilled Hot Dogs

So, Dear Readers, are any of you having something fabulicious for dinner at your house this week?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Errand Day

I just finished organizing my game plan for today. Mostly, it consists of running errands (and laundry). Due to  the fact, that if gas prices go any higher, I may have to sell a child (or a kidney) to afford to purchase it; I have been trying to drastically reduce our consumption. Among other things, now I cram all my errands for the week into one day, if possible. This is doable if  I get myself organized before I set out.
  • First, I have assembled all the necessary tools on the computer desk (that I spent a half hour yesterday cleaning off, so that I could have a spot to mess up, again).

  •  I have perused all the grocery ads (paper and virtual) for loss leader deals.
  •  I have assembled all the pertinent coupons. Matching coupons to sales prices is one of the most lucrative ways to use coupons.
  •  Of course, I had the help of a friend! This little bad boy is in the top five of my favorite frugal tools. It's name is the i slice, you can find your very own at a Harbor Freight near you, or HERE. I use it for cutting out coupons, cutting recipes out of magazines (and the newspaper), cutting gift wrap, trimming scrapbook paper, and opening packaging. In fact, I am so in love with it, that when  I lost it last year,  I ripped the house apart trying to find it, and was so depressed, that I went around in a funk for weeks. All my family members ended up buying  me several for my birthday (probably so I would stop moping around). P.S. You'll be happy to know I found the original in the gift wrap box this Christmas (Oops! My bad!)
  • Now the plan of action has been committed to paper. I do much better staying on track (and not FORGETTING something), if my list is itemized.  Every store I need to stop at has a separate list of the items I am going to buy there. The asterisks next to some of the items means I have a coupon for it. My to do list is in order, from starting to stopping point. When I have finished I will have driven a circle of the entire town. That way I don't have to back track and waste fuel. 
  •  Naturally, I have had my morning beverage to fortify my before the big trip!

Well, I guess, I had better hurry and get started on my quest. My list will take me several hours, and my little boys get home from school at 2:30pm.  My great adventure, awaits....................!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

 Lately, I have been experimenting with baking whole wheat, high fiber bread. This has proved to be a tricky challenge. The more fiber you add into the bread the denser it becomes. My family has issues with dense bread. They have only been eating  whole wheat bread, if it is mainly made from white flour with a little whole wheat sprinkled in (the big babies). I came across a recipe for Honey Wheat Bread in this month's issue of Taste Of Homes Healthy Cooking magazine. It looked promising! I baked up a batch, yesterday, and it was fabulous! The family ate it without complaint (Woo Hoo)!  I did tweak it a little bit to add more fiber ( I calculated it at 5 grams of fiber per slice).  Here is the recipe that I used (of course, you can find the original recipe HERE):

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
(makes two loaves - 16 slices each)

4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
3 cups warm water; divided
1/2 powdered milk
1/2 cup honey (you could substitute brown sugar)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon wheat bran
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed ( I like Bob's Red Mill Ground Flax Meal)
2 tablespoons butter or canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 tablespoon wheat gluten
3 - 3 1/2 cups bread (or all purpose flour)
  1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water (add 1 teaspoon of sugar to feed the yeast). Let yeast sit for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups very warm water, powdered milk, honey (or brown sugar), oil (or butter), and salt.
  3. Add whole wheat flour, wheat bran, ground flax seed, wheat gluten, and one cup of bread flour to the liquid mixture.
  4. Pour dissolved yeast on top of flours.
  5. Beat together until smooth batter forms (about 3 minutes)
  6. Stir in the remaining flour until a soft dough forms (it will be sticky)
  7. Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead (about 6 - 8 minutes) until a dough is smooth and elastic; adding white flour as necessary to keep it from sticking.
  8. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a dishtowel, and let rise until double (about 1 hour).
  9. Punch down dough, divide in half, and shape into two loaves.
  10. Place loaves in two greased 9x5 bread pans 
  11. Cover loaf pans and let rise until dough has risen 1 inch above the rim of the bread pan (about 30 minutes).
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown
  13. Remove baked bread from pans (lay loaves on their sides) and cool completely.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

This Week's Menu 5/1

(This week's Bountiful Basket,and assorted family member's limbs)

This week I actually took the time to plan my menu, and I am posting  it BEFORE the middle of the week! Yeah me! This week I have to watch the grocery budget closely, so I have been digging through the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry to find odds and ends to use up. Besides a freezer clean out every so often is a good thing. This week we will be having:

Hamburgers (from yesterday)
Dutch Oven Potatoes
Sliced Honeydew and Watermelon

Shrimp Alfredo with Penne Pasta
Asparagus (from last week's basket that needs to be used ASAP)
Sliced Honeydew and Watermelon


Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy (using up the leftover patties from Sunday)
Mashed Potatoes (and Cauliflower)
Corn on the Cob
Strawberries with Whipped Cream

Clam Chowder
Spinach Salad
Applesauce Muffins

Leftover Night

Berry Filled Puff Pancake (new recipe I'm trying)
Scrambled Eggs
Fried Potatoes

Nothing too glamorous. Mainly, just old standbys. My big goal this week is to use up all the veggies in my refrigerator bins. I am happy to report that the new fridge is keeping all of my produce fresh much, much longer than the old one!


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