Monday, January 31, 2011

Grape Frozen Snackers

Just tried this for the first time the other night - LOVED IT.  Next batch of grapes are in the freezer (as I type) for tonight - yum yum!  The best way for me to describe it is cold bites of fruit punch.  Ryan said they taste like organic gushers - and this man knows his gushers.  For someone that doesn't have ice cream or frozen things very often (not a big fan of Popsicles) these are great!
Yep, that's my blanket.  These were on my lap before I remembered to grab the camera.
  • red seedless grapes (as many as you want.  I usually have 15-20) These are on sale at Giant this week for 1.49 a pound
  • Sugar free strawberry jello (got mine at Big Lots for 39 cents a box, plus used my 20% off coupon for even more savings)
Freeze grapes (I like mine a little "slushy" so 2-3 hours).  Put in a zip lock bag - make sure it zips tight.  Sprinkle in jello powder - as much as you'd like.  There will be left over at the bottom of the bag.  Shake until all grapes are well coated.  Eat with a fork if you'd like to keep your fingers looking normal.  If you'd like to look like you've been in the finger paint all night, eat with your fingers ; )

Enjoy a low calorie - easy snack.

Chicken Fajitas - SO EASY!

We whipped these up tonight after I got home from a late night at work.  They were not planned and we were eating in less than 20 minutes.  That to me means an EASY meal : )
Not Pictured: salsa, extra virgin olive oil, water and shredded cheese
Mmmm... smells so good.  Get ready to use the vent, they do smoke, but nothing like the Mexican restaurant version
I use 1/2 of the flat out wraps and about 1/2 cup of meat filling. 
Flat out wraps (These have awesome nutrition - check it out here!) On sale this week at Giant, BOGO Free
9 oz package of purdue chicken shortcuts
1 pkg. of fajita seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water
Red pepper - sliced
Green pepper - sliced
1/2 pkg. of chopped onion or about 4 oz. of chopped onion
Handful of cherry tomatoes - quartered
Shredded cheese
Lite Sour Cream
Salsa (we used the homemade salsa from my mother in law, on our last jar : ( only 1 month to polish that off!)

Heat oil on medium high heat in skillet.  Pour in pre-cooked purdue chicken.  Saute until warmed through.  Add water and fajita mix - stir.  Mix in red and green pepper, tomatoes and onion.  Cook for 4-6 minutes until veggies are tender.  Serve in warmed flat wraps (or whole wheat tortillas) with shredded cheese, salsa and lite sour cream.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Individual Pizzas

We stumbled across these pizza crusts in the grocery store.  It's the kind that we've used before, but this week they were on sale, and as I'm sure you can expect - we had a coupon.  The "new" part of the crust is that this is the first time we've had individual crusts.  We each made our pizzas the way we wanted them and we were happy campers at the end of the meal : )
My pizza ingredients/toppings
Ryan's pizza toppings and ingredients
What the pizzas looked like before the last sprinkle of cheese and before going into the oven.
What they looked like coming out of the oven.
We cut each pizza into 6 slices, I ate 3 of mine.  These are the 3 slices that are left - pizza came before camera time : )

Boboli Whole Wheat Individual Pizza Crusts (2 per package)
1/2 cup of pasta sauce for both pizzas (adjust to your preference)
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon italian pizza seasoning
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to sprinkle on the top (1/2 cup on each pizza).
Melissa's extras: sliced tomatoes, 6-1oz. slices of part-skim mozzarella, 6 fresh basil leaves, minced garlic
Ryan's extras: sliced ham - cut into small pieces, about 20 pieces of chunk pineapple

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush olive oil on each pizza crust top.  Put 1/4 cup of sauce on each pizza top. Cover with preferred toppings.  Once toppings are on, sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Serve hot (just don't burn your mouth ; )

Turkey and Herb Stuffing Bake

Oh my gosh, this meal is AMAZING!  It's very easy and just as good the next day warmed up.  This is using the Purdue short cuts, carved turkey breast.  If you have chicken instead of turkey, I think it would still work.

1 package of Perdue Short Cuts Carved Turkey Breast, oven roasted 9oz. - chop to small piece
1 box of whole wheat stove top stuffing mix
1 1/4 cup water, bring to a boil
8 oz. frozen broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces (I used the steamer box from Green Giant - had a great sale at the grocery store last week)
3/4 cup peas (we used the left overs from the shrimp scampi earlier in the week, more than 3/4 cup would work)
1 can (10.75oz) condensed 98% fat free cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine contents of stuffing box with boiling water in  2qt. bowl until well blended.  Stir in turkey pieces, cooked broccoli, peas and soup.  mix all together.  Cover and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes until heated through.

We had ours with light, whole wheat english muffins.  100 calories a piece, 50 for a half of one : )

Easy Shrimp Scampi

Very easy and SO good.  This brought me back to the days of Olive Garden - but a MUCH healthier version. 
It looks heavy on the peas, but I promise - it's not.

1 lb. frozen fully cooked shrimp (wait for this to go on sale at the grocery store, it's usually BOGO Free on sale)
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp. of pre-packaged minced garlic (the jarred stuff that I use) or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced (I use the 8oz. pre-chopped onion from the store - SO easy)
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp. light honey dijon salad dressing
1 cup frozen baby peas (I used the steamer kind, it worked well)
3 cups of hot cooked rice (I used 1 package of uncle ben's and 1 cup of the minute brown rice)

Thaw shrimp according to package directions - remove tails if necessary.  Drain well and set aside.
In large saucepan combine margarine and olive oil and heat until foaming.  Add garlic and onion and saute, stirring frequently, until tender.  Add shrimp and stir well.  Cover and simmer for 1-2 minutes until shrimp are thoroughly heated.
Remove cover and add lemon juice, salad dressing and peas.  Cook and stir until everything is heated and blended.
Serve over hot rice.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stock up on this Sunday's paper!

This weekend there *should* be 4 inserts in the Sunday paper (depending on location, this can vary and the coupons inside can vary - but most of these look like national coupons).

There will be 2 red plum inserts, 1 smart source insert and 1 P&G insert with up to $98 worth of savings in the P&G alone!  Go here for a list of the nationally advertised coupons in all 4 inserts.  Look through the list and decide if $2 a paper is worth it.  I plan to get 3 extra in addition to the 1 paper I already subscribe to.  I justify this by knowing I can save AT LEAST $6 (the cost of 3 extra papers) - but who am I kidding, I can probably save at least $60 if I shop the deals and sales right.  And remember, I only buy what brands we need or use (yes, I'm still a brand snob, even in my couponing - and that is why I will NEVER be a Krazy Coupon Lady... they are not brand snobs like me : ).

Another little exciting thing I wanted to pass along to you all was a recommendation to buy the February edtion of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  If you've been following my blog, you'll probably remember that I got a 1 year subscription of this magazine for $5 (check that post out here!).  For those of you that didn't jump on that deal - I have another deal for you!

 Right now on, there is a coupon for 50 cents off the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  If you buy your magazine at Weis or Giant (or any other grocery store that automtically doubles coupons up to $1) you'll get $1 off the list price of $3.99.  Brining your total cost to $2.99. 

Alright, so why am I pushing a magazine for $2.99???  Because it is stocked FULL of great coupons, yummy looking recipes and some fun articles about how to use color in your home.  The recipes and decorating with color tips are just a bonus - I'm in it for the coupons! 

So here's why it's worth it:
  • BOGO Free at Ruby Tuesday - Save up to $10 on 1 meal when you purchase another meal
  • 55 cents off minute made rice - use at a store that doubles up to $1.  I use this at Giant, which means I get 2 cups of minute rice for 68 cents (featured on a previous post here)
  • 1.50 off any two glade scented oil candles
  • 1.00 off any two glade 4 oz. candles
  • 1.00 package of sara lee meat from deli section or 1 pd. at deli counter
  • 50 cents off 1 package of egglands best eggs - wait for a sale and double at giant or weis, this will make for a great deal
  • 1 off any 2 lindsay olives
  • 2 off an Cetaphil product
  • 1 off Campbell's V8 soup
A total Magazine coupon savings of $18.55 OR $19.50 if you are able to double rice and egg coupons.
For people that are part of the WLS community - I can find a TON of things on the Ruby Tuesday menu that I can have, so Ryan and I love to get this coupon.  He can get his 2 minis and the salad bar and I can order grilled chicken with fresh vegetables or the salamon with vegetables.  Yay for a cheap date night!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grocery Shopping Success

When I was a pre-op (before surgery), I remember thinking - healthy food is SO expensive.  We'll have to rearrange our budget to ever afford everything that is healthy.  Then I justified that I'd be eating so much less, it wouldn't really make much of a dent.

Well, it's been my experience that neither are true!  I still make enough servings of food (4 normal size portions on average) with each meal, if not more.  That way, we have leftovers for lunch or we invite friends over to help us eat it!  And it turns out, that it's NOT more expensive... as long as you're smart about shopping the ads, use coupons and stock up when you can.  This has all changed for us in the last 3 months since I've been couponing and our budget is looking healthier and healthier each week - good thing, because the cost of heating this big old house with oil is NOT!

Tonight we had a great night grocery shopping.  We have at least 2 weeks worth of food - FRESH food.  We literally bought 90% of our items on the perimeters of the store.  Other than a few boxes wheat thins, dog treats, a birthday card and a sugar free angel food cake - everything else was planned and fresh.  Next week we might need to get a few supplemental items, but it will be minimal - $25 or less I'm sure.  This is GREAT for our budget! Total I have enough to make 11 full recipes, plus all breakfasts and lunches for the next 2 weeks.

Here's the run down:
Spent: $175.71 / Would have been: 298.44 = Savings of 41%!!!
No generic items were purchased (not opposed, they just don't work with coupons) and we didn't shop any discount stores.  We hit up Giant, Weis and Walgreens (b-day card and 2 boxes of crackers there).

To top it off, we treated ourselves to dinner out at Ruby Tuesday with a Buy One Get One Free dinner - saving $10 bucks AND we earned 70 cents off a gallon of gas at Giant - Ryan filled up on the way home and saved 11 bucks... can you believe we got gas for 2.45 a gallon?  Booya!

I'm thinking I should do group shopping trips to teach people how to shop healthy and still save!  Thoughts, feelings, ideas for me finding the time? 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekly Menu 1/24

Here is the weekly menu.. we'll see if this all gets tackled!
  • Turkey and Stuffing Bake
  • Quick Shrimp Scampi
  • Turkey Meatloaf
  • Chicken Stir Fry
  • Omelets
  • Deconstructed Lasagna
  • Tuna Melts
I thought I'd explain how I plan our weekly menu.  First, I look at the meat/protein that we have in the freezer/fridge.  Then I try to find at least 3 new recipes to try and throw in 2 or 3 staples that are easy to make for those hectic nights.  Then I go through the Weis and Giant ads and look for good deals on the ingredients I need for the recipes and also for good deals that are worth stocking up on.  I make an itemized list of items at each store that are worth buying.  I also make sure I have the staples on the list like bread or other things that we need for lunch or breakfast.

For anyone around here, here are the deals I'm seeing at Weis and Giant this week that I'm interested in (not my full grocery list, but close):
Dole Salads or Complete kits: BOGO Free
Giant Bottom Round or Rump Roast: BOGO Free
Giant Fresh Pork Tenderloin: BOGO Free
Lay’s Classic Potato Chips: BOGO Free
Chicken of the Sea, 5oz can: 10 for 10 or 69cents (green can)
Campbell’s Condensed Soup: 10 for 10 (coupons here)
Campbell’s Tomato soup: 4 for 2 (Coupons here)
Entenmann’s Donut Shoppe Donuts: BOGO Free
Tyson All Natural Chicken Nuggets, Tenders or Patties: BOGO Free (Not sure on this one - but coupons?)
Fuze 18.5oz: 10 for 10 (MY FAVORITE DRINK!)
Giant Sour Cream: 3 for 4
Asparagus: 2.99 per pound
Sweet Red Peppers: 2.49 per pound
Nature’s Promise Laura’s Lean Ground Beef: 4.29 per pound (Coupon for this)
Giant Cottage Cheese: 2 for 4
Heluva good Chunk Cheese: 3 for 5
Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges: 2 for 4
Birds Eye Steam fresh vegetables: 3 for 5 (Coupon here)

Strawberries: BOGO Free
Fresh Express Salad: BOGO Free (coupon on top of this)
Green Giant Vegetables: 10 for 10 (coupons on this)
Nabisco Snack Crackers: 1.99 (coupons - time to stack up on Wheat Thins!)
Weis Shredded Cheese: 2 for 4
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches: 2 for 8 (Major coupons to use up here)
Celery: 1.50 each
Weis Grape Tomatoes: BOGO Free
Green Bell Peppers or Cucumbers: 10 for 10
Sweet Cherries: 3.99 per pound
Sunbird Seasoning Packets: 10 for 10 (what we use for stir fry)
Rhodes Rolls: 2.29 (coupons to use)
Quaker Instant Oatmeal: 4 for 8 (must buy 4) (Coupons to use here, should be about $1 a box)
Buy 5 Old El Paso products and get $2.99 of ground beef free (I think coupons for Old El Paso)
Del Monte Fruit: 10 for 10 (Love the no sugar added kind)
Del Monte Tomatoes: 10 for 10
Del Monte Vegetables: 4 for 3 (coupon for these)
Buy One Greeting Card: Get One Free (I think this is limit of 1, but I'm going to check)
Purina Beggin Strips: 4 for 10 (Major coupons to use here :)
Utz chips: BOGO Free
Heluva Good Dip: 2 for 3 (coupons here)

Deal Day!

Saved 72.6% Retail Price: 61.68 / My Price: 16.90
What this picture doesn't show is that on top of only spending 16.90, I earned 16.94 in ECB or UpRewards
Quick rundown of savings:
Rite Aid: 4 pk GE light bulbs, regularly priced 3.99 each.  On sale for 1.99 each.  Earn 1.99 in UpRewards (basically a gift card) for each one purchased - limit of 6.  I bought 6 - 4pks, used $11 in previously earned UpRewards and paid $1.  Took home 11.94 in UpRewards to use on my next shopping trip!  That's what we call rolling the savings over!

CVS: Transaction #1 - Crest Pro Health mouthwash, regularly priced 5.79.  On sale for 3.99.  Earn 3.99 in Extra Care Bucks (ECB).  Paid 4.23 in cash, earned 3.99 in ECB. 
Transaction #2 - 5 - Coke 12pks, regularly priced 5.69 each.  On sale for 5 for $15 or $3 a piece. Used 3.99 in ECB's from first purchase to bring my total down to 11.67.  Paid 11.67 and  earned $5 in ECB for purchase next week.

Now here's the story behind the shopping trip this morning:
Had a bit of an embarrassing moment this morning - it all ended in good deals, but still - I feel I must share.  I woke up this morning a little panicked because we fell asleep last night with the electric blanket still on.  Blanket was WARM, but everything was fine.  After that moment of panic, I was up.  After establishing that the house/bed was not on fire, my mind quickly went to what deals I didn't want to miss today.  My list was short, but I knew there would be limited items.  The last few weekends I've gotten there late in the day on Sunday or later in the week and have missed some great deals because of my tardiness - today that was going to change!

So I head out from the house at about 8:10, drive 15-20 minutes up the road to Middletown where Rite Aid and CVS are both located (2 birds, 1 stone).  Notice how empty the rite aid parking lot is and think to myself... oh yeah, we live in Pennsyltucky - I bet they are closed for church or something.  I drive by the front doors, scope out that it does open at 9 and decide to head to CVS and do my shopping there first.  On my way to CVS I think to myself - CVS will be open because it's a national chain - catering to those even outside of Pennsyltucky.  Drive up to the CVS and come to an empty lot... same thing - 9am.  Ugh!  Now I'm in Middletown, no where to go and 25 minutes to kill.  So I stop at the sketchy 7-11 and pick up a paper.  I would have bought the Lancaster one, but since I had crossed over into Dauphin county, I guess they were only selling the Patriot.... I was a bit disappointed.  Pay the guy $2 and move on.  So I'm in my car trying to decide where to go for the last 20 minutes.  Decide it's back to the Rite Aid parking lot to wait and read the paper - completely ignoring the fact that I have a perfectly good Sunday paper with ads and coupons sitting at home (Lancaster version).

So the store manager that is opening up is eyeing me sitting in the parking lot.  She probably thinks I'm casing the joint because I'm in my lovely wool hat that I shop in every Sunday morning, black work out pants and a much too big sweatshirt - yep, I look classy.  Eye drops did not make it in my eyes this morning - so I look high to say the least.  We play the staring game for about 15 minutes and at 9am, I get out of car to go in.  My clock said 9am.... hers must of said 8:59, because she waited.  At this point I think to myself, "self, you've reached a new low... you're in pennsyltucky - dressed like a pennsyltuckian - all for some free light bulbs?  I mean really, really???"

Anyway, she opens the door and I get in - First customer in the door... beating down the crowd behind me.  Okay, nope - no crowd.  That crowd was still probably at church or in bed, but still - I felt the NEED to be there (For anyone that knows our comedy show/early ticket moment from St. Louis 4 years ago... this experience should sound familiar).  I get my 6 packs of light bulbs for $1 and move on down the road to CVS.  CVS is a much less traumatic event - mouthwash and 5 - 12pks. usually don't put up much of a fight.

Here's the best part... remember that Patriot Newspaper I bought from the sketchy 7-11?  It was LOADED with different coupons compared to what the Lancaster paper had to offer today.  One that I'm very excited about is $4 off the dog food that we use for Bentley.  It's on sale for $5 off this week at pet smart + the $4 off coupon means BIG Savings!  Already the trip to the 7-11 has paid off, and there were a ton more coupons.  Going through this paper when I got home, I thought about all the other great coupons I might have missed.  I read online about the deals coming out in the circulars, and more often than not, the Lancaster paper doesn't have them all (this week was a perfect example).  I've been using online printable coupons, but I think it might be time to upgrade to a weekend subscription of the Patriot.  Currently, I'm only subscribing to 1 Lancaster paper.  The thought of cutting coupons from 4-6 inserts a week makes me cringe, but for the right deal, I might be able to handle 2.  The Patriot has a free 2 week subscription on their website, so as of an hour ago - I'm signed up for that.  I'll report back on whether or not the extra investment is worth it - I'm thinking it's going to be!

Last week was a good cooking week - I'm in the process of creating my weekly menu now.  Will update after my trip to the store later this afternoon (I'm banking on it being a slow afternoon/evening at the store because of the football games... I love not caring about that!).

3 random things I like

I wanted to share 3 items - no specific importance, just felt like sharing because I find them important.

Item 1: Digital Scale.  I got this last year for Christmas and got a lot of use out of it in the beginning after surgery.  I've recently been double checking my food portions (happy to say they are still on track) and wanted to pass along how great this tool is.  What I love about the Taylor Brand is the fact that I can tare out the weight of my plates or bowls when measuring - anything up to 6 pounds!  Now if I ever have a plate that weighs as much as my dog, I think I've got issues!

Item 2: Cookbook stand.  I got this for Christmas this year and never knew how much I needed it until I had it.  It's from Pier One and folds down relatively flat when you're not using it.  Great to hold up that new clean eating cookbook!

Item 3: Drumroll please... delivered as of 2:30 this afternoon, our new deep freeze!  Can't wait to start watching the sales and using my coupons to stock up on the all important meat deals.  After surgery we need to learn how to prepare so many different kinds of meat to stay within our protein goals that this will come in handy!

Strip Steak Salad

For dinner tonight we made steak and used some salad that we had to come up with a great meal.  We cooked the steak on the george foreman - let me tell you, it was so easy (I did it), easy to clean up and cooked through perfectly... no flipping required.  This might be the way to go for us on grilling in the next few months!

Sunflower seeds
Light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
romaine lettuce
shredded cheese
3 oz. of strip steak

Make a salad... I mean seriously... just make a salad ; )

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Slow Cooker London Broil

There was a great deal 2 weeks ago for BOGO Free London Broil.  I got 2 and this recipe used up that second one. 
The full London Broil
What a plate looked like made up

2 pounds of london broil or flank steak
1 - 10.75 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 - 10.75 can condensed tomato soup
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Place meat in the bottom of the slow cooker, if necessary - slice meat to make it fit.
In medium bowl, mix together mushroom and tomato soup.  Pour mixture over beef. Sprinkle with dry onion soup mix over top. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

We served this with Alexia roasted red potato harvest vegetable mixture, Alexia whole grain rolls, and a side salad.  Had the girls over for dinner and it was great!  I think serving it with the extra sauce with the crock pot is necessary for the meat not to be too dry.

Chicken Quesadillas

Ryan made lunch today using what we had in the fridge.  This was great and so quick and easy.  It takes the george foreman grill or another type of quesadilla press.  We'll be making this again for sure!

3 Whole Wheat Tortillas
Shredded Cheese - 6oz.
Purdue Chicken Short Cuts -6oz.
Olive Oil Spray or 1 tbsp. of margarine
1 cup of salsa

Spritz 1 tortilla with olive oil spray or lightly coat with margarine.  On the non-greased side, fill 1/2 of the tortilla with 2 oz. of chicken and 2 oz. of shredded cheese.  Fold over in half and place on grill.  Grill in press for about 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted through.  Serve with salsa.  YUM!

*My serving was 1 tortilla and Ryan's was 2*

Crock Pot Swedish Meatballs

This is a seriously quick recipe to prep.  Not sure that I loved it, a little too rich for my taste buds yet, but Ryan liked it.  It could grow on me - something that would be worth a try if you have the right ingredients.  It made a ton - so I'd suggest cutting the recipe in half if you're only serving 4 people or less.  The recipe below could easily serve 6, non-wls people. 
Quick and Easy ingredients - not pictured are egg noodles or brown rice.
After 3 hours on high in the crock pot.
What Ryan's looked like over egg noodles.

1 - 38 oz bag of frozen meatballs (watch for these to go on sale, a lot of BOGO Free offers out there)
2 - 10.75 oz cans of reduced fat cream of mushroom soup (we used cream of celery and cream of chicken)
8 oz. of lite sour cream
1.5 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce
1.5 teaspoons of lite soy sauce
Egg noodles and/or brown rice (1 cup microwave ready is the best to use for me)

Mix both cans of cream soup, sour cream, worcestershire sauce and soy sauce in bowl.  Pour meatballs in crock pot (4 qt. or bigger if using the full bag of meatballs).  Pour cream mixture over meatballs and stir in crock-pot.  Cook on low for 5 to 5.5 hours or cook on high for 3 hours.  Serve over egg noodles or brown rice for wls people.
This is the brown rice that I love- it comes in 1 cup servings that are microwaveable.

Roasted asparagus and tomatoes

In the last few years, I've been obsessed with asparagus.  In the last week, I started roasting tomatoes with it and it's delicious!  This is quick, fresh and healthy.  Our grocery stores out here have had asparagus on sale for 2.99 a pound (not as cheap as early spring prices - but still reasonable enough that we have it about once a week).

1 bunch of asparagus
1 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tsp of jarred minced garlic (found in the produce section)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle of garlic salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Snap ends off of asparagus and rinse under cold water.  Lay out flat on a baking sheet.  Cut tomatoes into quarters and sprinkle on top of asparagus.  Drizzle with olive oil - concentrating on the tips of the asparagus.  Use a baster brush to spread olive oil over the stalks of asparagus.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and minced garlic.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Love to serve this with a great cut of lean meat - so fresh and so good!* 

Turkey Stuffed Potatoes

This recipe came from my new clean eating cookbook, but I adapted it a bit.  It is called Turkey Jacket Potato in the cookbook.  Whether it was done with our changes or following the cookbook, it should turn out great.  We will definitely be doing this again!  We used left over ground turkey from our black bean soft tacos, so we left the italian seasoning out, but I'm sure it would be just as good.  For anyone back in CR reading this - Ryan said this tasted just like Hungry Hobo stuffed potatoes : )
Scooped out potato shell - mix in side bowl to be mixed and scooped back in.
Filled potato shell with extra on the side.  Sprinkled with cheese, about to go into microwave for 1 minute to melt cheese.
Melted and ready to eat.  This looks huge, but its on a small plate.  The meat on the side was too much for me to handle.

6-8 oz of ground turkey
2 large baking potatoes
8 tablespoons salsa
8 tablespoons of lite sour cream
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese if you do the taco version or mozzarella if you do the italian seasoning blend
Italian Seasoning, to taste

Brown ground turkey in medium skillet over medium high heat until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in microwave (I used steam ready potatoes from the grocery store.  They are individually wrapped in plastic and found in the produce section).  Slice potatoes in half once they are done cooking in the microwave.  Scoop out insides, leaving a bit of potato on the bottom and sides for stability.  Making the mix is best to do one at a time for each half of the potato.  In a bowl, combine inside of 1/2 of potato, 2 tablespoons salsa, 1-2 oz. of ground turkey, 2 tablespoons of lite sour cream and dash of italian seasoning.  Mix together and spoon back into potato half.  Sprinkle 1 oz of shredded cheese.  Microwave for 1 min. to melt cheese and serve hot.  Yum!

*This recipe makes 4, potato halves.  I had 1 for dinner, Ryan had 2 and we had 1 half left over for lunch the next day.  With taco flavor with ours was really good - I'd recommend trying that if you have left over taco meat or taco seasoning in the cupboard.*

Quick Chicken Parmesan

We got a GREAT deal last week on Purdue Short cuts, so I was looking for recipes to use it up.  I came across this recipe for quick chicken parmesan and made some changes to make it more wls friendly.
Chicken mixture in the pie plate - starting to cover with cheese and breadcrumb mix.
After baking... before serving.
Used 1/2 of wheat english muffin with garlic sprinkle for faux garlic bread.

1 package of Perdue Short Cuts Carved Chicken Breasts - 9oz package
1 cup marinara
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons italian panko breadcrumbs
2 cups cooked whole wheat penne pasta

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan, heat chicken and marinara sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.  In small bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.  Spoon chicken mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.  Sprinkle with cheese mixture.  Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown (for us, this was about 10 minutes).  Serve with hot cooked pasta.

* Ryan really liked this, I thought it could have used more sauce.  For wls people - about 1/2 cup of cooked pasta goes a long way.*

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Turkey Black Bean Soft Tacos & Weekly Menu

So last week I posted our weekly menu... well, work happened - the menu did not.  We did get 50% of the items made because we're doing our best to stick to our budget.  Speaking of which, I had another GREAT shopping trip today where I spent about $100 instead of the retail price of $300 - but I'm too tired to add it all up and post about it.  I will say, the best part of the shopping trip today was how many fresh and healthy options I got from the grocery store and of course, my stock up on toilet paper and paper towels.  Wow... I'm officially boring for having just written that!  Anyway, back to the menu of last week.  We ended up making the BBQ Pork Loin, Omelets and Turkey Black Bean Soft Tacos (recipe and pics below).

This week, I'm determined to go BIG or go home (alright, I'll already be home if I'm making this stuff... but you get the point).

Recipes coming this week:
  • Turkey Stuffed Potatoes (carried over from last week)
  • Swedish meatballs over egg noodles/brown rice (carried over from last week)
  • Chicken Parmesan with pasta (again, carried over from last week)
  • Slow cooker London broil with mashed potatoes
  • Steak with roasted asparagus and tomatoes
Turkey Black Bean Soft Tacos

Ingredients: (it looks like a lot, but it's easy - promise)
1 pd. of ground turkey 93% lean
1 packet of taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup of water
small whole wheat tortillas
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of chopped yellow onion
2 cups of diced red, green and yellow pepper
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp all spice seasoning, we use Badia All Spice - found in the Mexican section of our grocery store
1 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup of romaine lettuce
1 cup of shredded cheese (we enjoyed the taco shredded cheese for this dish)
lite sour cream
salsa (we used my mother in-laws homemade salsa that she sent home with us - AMAZING!)
Optional: side of uncle Ben's brown Santa Fe rice - 90 second kind of course!


  • In large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat.  Add chopped onions - cook for 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes.  Add peppers and all spice seasoning and cook for 4 more minutes.  Finally, add corn and black beans.  Cook mixture on medium high heat for another 5 to 6 minutes, continually stirring, until heated through.
  • Brown ground turkey in medium skillet.  Add taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water.  Simmer on low until ready to serve (at least 5 minutes).
  • Make rice in the microwave - 90 seconds!  Warm tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds each.
  • Serve with salsa, lettuce, cheese, sour cream.

For my meal, I use 1 small tortilla, 1/4 cup turkey taco meat, 1/4 cup veggie mix, 1/2 table spoon lite sour cream, 1 oz. shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons salsa, a few pieces of lettuce and 1/4 cup rice.

I'm curious, what do your weekly menus look like???  Post below to share with others!

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Recipes Coming This Week

Having recently scored some great deals on produce and meat at the grocery store, it's time now to put all those goodies to use!  Just finished planning our weekly meals, and here's what is on the docket:
  • BBQ Pork Loin (last one of these!)
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Turkey Jacket Potatoes (like a stuffed baked potato)
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Omelets
  • Turkey Black Bean Soft Tacos
2 of these are "our" recipes, 2 from my new clean eating cookbook (Can't wait to get started using this), and 2 from online sources.  Reviews, pictures and hopefully successful meals to come.

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Crazy Deals This Week!!!

I told Ryan, "this is going to be a good week"... and I even surprised myself!  Once again, this is hitting up CVS and RiteAid.  Other stores that I hope to visit this week would be BabiesRUs (for lotion, nothing baby for me), Target, CVS in Harrisburg and RiteAid in Harrisburg to get the items I couldn't get at our stores around here.

Quick Recap of cost and savings:
Retail would have been $345.53 / I spent $62.43.  That means I saved 82% whoohoo!!!!

CVS is having crazy sales on their makeup.  I never really spoil myself with trying new makeup, at least I haven't in the last few years.  So today, with my 10% of beauty purchase, plus coupons and some awesome deals on 50% or 75% off on discontinued makeup - I got some GREAT makeup at a fraction of the cost.  Pictures and full break down are below.  This is everything I got at CVS and RiteAid today.
Saved 82%!!!
6 - 12 pks of diet pepsi/mt. dew (Retail $31.14)
25 - make-up items (Retail $241.85)
2 - candy bars (Retail $2.48)
Birthday card (Retail $2.79)
6 - pkgs of stayfree pads (Retail $23.94)
14 - pure protein bars (Retail $20.86)
Eye drops (Retail $10.49)
2 - Motrin PM, 20ct. (Retail $11.98)
I paid $62.43 : )

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1 Year pictures are here!

Yesterday (Jan. 5, 2011) marked my 1 year anniversary of my surgery.  Tonight I went to support group and received my purple ribbon to signify more than 125 pounds lost.  I've had a really great experience  and all my hard work is paying off. Not sure I'm ready to be reflective quite yet (that usually happens on the weekend when I can think straight) but as they say - a picture is worth 1,000 words.  Okay, 4 pictures - but I think each one is worth it : )

Highest weight ever: 347 (to see me at 347, visit my first blog post)
Doctor Consult weight: 341 / Size 28 and 3x
Surgery weight: 326 (328 on hospital scale)
1 year weight: 195 / Size 14 and M/L

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Healthy Pork Fried Rice

So I'm not sure if you'll remember, but a few weeks ago I posted the 12 days of Coupon Deals post.  In that post I mentioned that we got pork tenderloin buy one get one free and we got 4.  Well we've been using up pork left and right and last night was the type of night where you open the fridge to see what possible concoction you can make.  We ended up with a healthy version of pork fried rice (minus the egg because we didn't have any) and it was delicious!  In fact, I just finished some as my lunch and I think it was even better reheated.  Give this one a try - it's worth it.

Not Pictured: Onion, pork bites, olive oil, or 1 cup of minute rice.

2.5 tsp of lite soy sauce
1 packet of pork fried rice seasoning
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
3 cups of cooked brown rice (We use one packet of uncle ben's and 1 cup of the brown minute rice)
1.5 cups of bite sized cooked pork (we used left overs and cooked up in the skillet with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil)
1 pkg. of steamer sugar snap peas
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1 yellow onion chopped
1 can of water chestnuts
Optional: 1 scrambled egg mixed into stir fry

Start with one large skillet and one small.  In small skillet, heat up left over pork bites in 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil on medium heat.  In large skillet on medium-high heat, sautee water chestnuts, chopped carrots and onion in 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.  Cook for approx. 5-6 min. stiring throughout.  In the meantime, use the microwave to steam peas and cook both packages of rice. Add cooked rice and fried rice seasoning to large skillet.  Mix througholy.  Add in 2.5 tsps of soy sauce and continue to stir for one minute.  (If you're using egg, this step is next: push large skillet contents to the side and scramble 1 egg.  Once scrambled, mix together). Add in peas and pork and cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes more - stirring frequently.  Serve immeadieatly with additional soy sauce.
(To reheat a 1 cup serving, microwave for 1 min and 30 seconds on high = Yum).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Slow Cooker (EASY!!!) Pot Roast

SLOW COOKER POT ROAST - makes 6+ servings


So easy and good.  In fact, my parents requested it over the Christmas holiday at their house.  I've made this 3 times in the last 2 months and the first time was definitely the best.  That's because I followed the instructions below exactly the first time.  Following the rules is once again successful for me!

1 Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liner 
1/4 cup water 
6 medium red potatoes, cut in quarters 
1 cup of diced yellow onion
1 cup of chopped celery
1 bag (16 ounces) fresh whole baby carrots 
1 envelope (about 1 ounce) dry onion soup and recipe mix 
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves 
1 boneless beef chuck pot roast (2 or 2 1/2 pounds)
Optional: Reduced Sugar Ketchup

Place the slow cooker liner into a 5-quart slow cooker according to the liner package directions.
Stir the water, potatoes, onion, carrots, celery and soup mix in the cooker. Season the beef with the black pepper and thyme leaves. Place the beef into the cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours* or until the beef is fork-tender and the vegetables are tender.
You can cook it on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours, just check to make sure it's not getting dry at about the 5 hour mark. And another tip, do not use the liner to lift the food out of the cooker. Make sure that the cooker is cool before removing and discarding the liner.  Ryan likes the Au Jus type mixture with his meat while I use the low sugar ketchup.  I also tend to serve this with whole wheat rolls when serving to a group.  I prefer to use Rhodes Whole Wheat Rolls out of the freezer section (coupons online right now on!)