Sunday, September 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week is going to be a shop-from-your pantry week. I am convinced we can make this work, and save a little money in the meantime! The trick is going to be that we are out of cereal. But I have a plan for that – breakfast casserole! Yes, I am ambitious. Breakfast on the way to daycare may get a little tricky… we’ll see how that goes as well!

Monday – Cheeseburgers, homemade mac & cheese
Tuesday – Spaghetti & meatballs, applesauce
Wednesday – Italian beef, leftover mac & cheese
Thursday – Homemade or frozen pizza, grilled cheese

Veggies all days
Breakfast Casserole
Lunches – soups & PBJ

Maybe we will need to pick up Jelly. And maybe cereal. But actually, that’s not terrible for the whole week! Right?

Last week’s spending: Aldi: $39 + $48 Schnucks (which included one $3.99 bottle of wine that I lost on my way out of the car – CRASH!!) + $41 and $11 IGA. Total $139 – more than enough for two weeks!

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I saw this recipe come up in my Google Reader from Seconds for Satisfaction.  It looked easy and like it was a good way to use up some of the apples from my mother in law's tree!  I popped it in the slow cooker around 10 AM and it was done by 4 (I turned it on low around 2 PM). 

And I didn't until JUST NOW realize I was supposed to cook it on low the whole time! Oops. Also, I didn't have any lemons so that was left out, but it was still good!!

Delicious! Although it's darker than store-bought applesauce, and my son didn't really love it, which surprised me.  He LOVES applesauce, but not so much this stuff - it must be a different texture for him.  Ah well, I guess I'll have to eat it all :-)

4 large apples, skinned, cored, and cut in quarters
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/4 cup water

Skin, core, and cut your apples into quarters. Add them to your slow cooker. Mix the lemon juice and the water and pour over apples. Pour in the vanilla, and add the cinnamon and brown sugar. Give it all a toss to make sure the apples are coated in liquid.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Homemade Brownies

Brownies are something that I wouldn't have thought of making from anything from a box until recently, when I finally broke out of the "cake from a box" funk I have been in for 30 years! Yes it's fast, and convenient, but what if you don't have a box mix on hand?  What then? 

Well, I looked up this recipe on, and I've got to tell you, it's pretty darn good. Icing and all. I did temper the eggs a bit when I mixed them, I'm way too scared of scrambling my eggs to not do this!  These are very good - enjoy!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
2.In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
4.To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

I'm not feeling so hot today, I have my son's awesome cold that he decided to share. 

So I stayed home from work, sent my son to daycare and napped the morning away. This afternoon, oatmeal was calling my name, so I decided to give this recipe from Lauren's Kitchen a try.  It was very good, especially with the loads of sugar and cinnamon I added to it! 


1 cup of oats
2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
pinch of salt
1 chopped apple

Add oats, chopped apple and milk to stoneware, and then put in brown sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt; stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours or low for 2-3. Check consistency of oatmeal and add milk as needed; garnish with cinnamon

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

A continuation from the bridal shower cupcakes... I made vanilla mini cupcakes with buttercream frosting. 

The white cake was from

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2.In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
3.Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Buttercream frosting from the Foodnetwork:

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache

For my friend Lisa's bridal shower, I had the privelege of making mini cupcakes...

I took the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes from Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake.  I've used it once before. 

This time, I had a cookie scoop to try and keep the measurements equal. It worked out much better! Usually my cupcakes have a top that's overflowing and crunchy. Delicious, but not exactly the look I'm going for.

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

And the ganache from Ina Garten:

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Candied violets, for decoration, optional

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache. Decorate with candied violets, if desired. Do not refrigerate.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Time for menu planning yet again.  Here's what is on the menu next week - focus is back to getting on budget (Aldi shopping!) and easy!

Monday - Italian Beef Sandwiches, frozen veggies
Tuesday - Sloppy Joes, Pasta Roni, frozen veggies
Wednesday - Chicken Cordon Blue from freezer, frozen veggies
Thursday - Tacos
Friday - Steak, Potatoes, frozen veggies

Nothing too exciting but hopefully very cheap!

Have a great week, everyone.  And if you are looking for more menu plans, visit!

Peanut Butter Cookies

My husband's favorite:-)  I made a half batch of these beauties Thursday evening.  We kept a few at home and brought the rest over to my sister-in-law's when we saw the baby last night!  She is just a perfect little angel. 

Here is the receipe, from

1 cup unsalted butter (margarine)
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (or creamy)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1.Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs.
2.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter. Put batter in refrigerator for 1 hour.
3.Roll into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork(dipped in sugar), making a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A-Mano Italian Wine

A-Mano Italian Wine
Pinot Grigio

A light, crisp Pinot Grigio.  Perfect for what I was wanting, and the bottle was on sale for $8.  It was a screw top, but that adds to the ease of opening a bottle quickly! 

I did have a moment the next morning, trying to decide if I should just leave the screw-top on or put my vacuum pressure stopped back in, what a dilemma!

3.5 stars.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Welcome to menu plan Monday!  Do you like the new design?  I think it's much easier to read and a lot cleaner looking.

As I said last week, we spent $109 at Wal-Mart and I've only added about $3 at Walgreens to that.  I would have thought we could have done better this week, but... we spent $30 at Aldi and $91 at Schnucks. And $4 at Walgreens for face wash. Yikes. The Schnucks trip included a lot of produce (part of which will be for a bridal shower tomorrow - I guessed about $20 for that purpose).  That's still above my budget of $75 a week, though. Maybe I need to raise the budget a little... or skip the $8 bottle of wine!  In addition to the baby shower, I bought for a casserole I'm making for my sister and brother in law.

The plan for this week includes easy Monday and Wednesday dinners since I have class those nights. Calvin and I get back home around 6 those nights, so an easy dinner or something that my husband can throw in the oven is a must! 

Monday - Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole - making 2, one for us, one for my sister in law who is expecting any day now!
Tuesday - Not-sagna pasta toss

Wednesday - Crockpot roast, steam veggies

Thursday - Steak, Twice Baked potatoes

Friday - OUT - HS Homecoming festivities. Will need to make something to bring here, maybe something with all of the apples from my in-law's tree?

Panzanella - hoping to make Sunday or for lunches?  I bought a $4 rosemary olive oil bread that looks delicious for this, and tons of produce. It better be as good as the reviews!  :-)

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu plans and ideas!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Labor Day Week - Menu Planning!

We saved quite a bit of money last week. $28 at IGA, $21 at Aldi, $4 at Walgreens and $11 at IGA when we ran out of lunchmeat. Total $64, which I think is pretty darn good.

This week, I already did our weekly shopping today and we spent $109 at Wal-Mart. We needed a couple more "personal care" items than usual ($13), and I bought a fall mum and some stacking baskets for the pantry ($10). And a bit more junk food than normal, and I managed to stock up a little more on peanut butter. All in all, not terrible considering everything we got. 

Here is this week's meal plan:

Monday - Chicken fajitas
Tuesday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, applesauce
Wednesday - Pork Chops & Red Potatoes
Thursday - Meat Loaf & Pasta Roni
Friday - Frozen Pizza

Lunches will be ham & cheese or PBJ and Breakfasts will be cereal or whole wheat bagel with cream cheese. 

Have a good week!