Saturday, April 30, 2011


Not too much to post from this weekend, although I had high hopes when it started.  We ended up going out for dinner last night with Ms. Dixon to a Mexican place in Lancaster.  It was GOOD!  One of the best parts of dinner was when the woman at the table behind us said "If food falls in my cleavage, do I eat it or save it and feed it to the dogs?"  I swear - this was said and we all shared a look and then a good hard laugh.  We love moments where the 3 of us can honestly say to each other "where in the world do we live?!?"  We were thinking we'd go to a movie, but nothing was out that any of us wanted to see, so we ended up driving to a bowling alley in the middle of no where and played two games.  I of course lost, no big surprise there and Ryan and Dixon had alright games.  I'm pretty sure we all left with swollen thumbs and fingers that we'll be nursing the rest of the weekend. 
Date night at the bowling alley - classy shoes : )
This is the first Spring we've spent in this house.  One of the perks is this tree outside of our bedroom window that I get to wake up to each morning.  It just keeps getting better and better each day and I thought I'd share a few pictures while it is still so beautiful.  One of the perks of living in PA are all the flowering trees - we've never lived anywhere before where this happens all down the block on almost every kind of tree.  One of the downsides... my allergies have seriously brought their A game this season.  So far, it's been worth it.  Have a great weekend everyone - more food posts to come this week!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crunchy "Fried" Chicken

Okay, clearly I'm not eating fried chicken!  Although today our dining center on campus had it and the whole building smelled like fried chicken.  So this is what we came up with tonight - baked/crunchy chicken.  It hit the spot.  Very moist, good flavor and went nicely with the roasted asparagus and tomato recipe we like to make and uncle ben's brown chicken flavored rice (90 second kind).  Big thanks to my sweetie for making dinner tonight - this girl was TIRED!
The final product for dinner - there were no leftovers tonight : )
Talk about easy on the ingredients for the chicken.
Chicken out of the oven before we served it.
1 egg
1.5 tablespoons of flour
1.5 cups of French's Fried Onions
2 - 5 or 6oz, boneless skinless chicken breasts (makes 2 servings)

Crush Fried onions with flour in plastic bag.  Dip chicken into egg; then coat in onion crumbs on both sides.  Bake for 20-25 minutes in oven until cooked through.  (You can sub out the egg and use 1/4 cup of mustard if you want a little stronger flavor).

Very good - this will become one of those things in our regular rotation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creamed Asparagus on Toast

Because the weather was in the 80's again here today, I was in the mood for FRESH food again tonight.  This phase will pass I'm sure, but anything that was fresh sounded good tonight.  I only had this meal a few times growing up.  Once at my grandma's house and once at mom and dad's house - it was always in the spring with fresh asparagus.  I found this recipe that was considered a "healthy" alternative to the regular creamed asparagus on toast.  I called mom to ask how she made hers and it is with half and half or heavy cream.  So this version would definitely be considered "healthier".  It was good and hit the spot for my fresh fix : )
Finished product - strange looking, I know : )
Ingredients - not much to it!

2.5 cups of fresh asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons of margarine
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of skim milk
1/4 tsp of pepper
1/4 tsp of kosher or sea salt
4 pieces of whole wheat toast (makes 4 servings)

Put cut up asparagus in medium sauce pan.  Fill pan almost to the top with warm water.  Heat on high until asparagus begins to boil.  Boil for 1 minute and drain - set to the side.  Turn down heat to medium low.  In the same sauce pan, melt margarine.  Add flour a little bit at a time - continuing to stir, making a roux (yeah, I had to look that word up).  It makes a paste like/dough like mixture. Whisk in skim milk 1/4 cup at a time making sure the flour butter mixture completely dissolves in the milk as you stir.  Simmer milk mixture until thickened.  Add in salt and pepper (add more to taste if you'd like). Mix in cooked asparagus and heat thoroughly.   Spoon 1/4 of mixture onto each slice of toast and serve warm.  Ryan said it'd be good with a cheese sauce instead of just the cream.  Maybe next time ; )

Monday, April 25, 2011

Greek Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce

About a month ago, I tried my first pita with Tzatziki Sauce (okay, I can type it, but I can't pronounce it!).  We were at a Greek restaurant in downtown Lancaster with Ms. Dixon.  It was good and I really liked the sauce.  I've ordered it one other time since then at another restaurant and the sauce wasn't as good.  So tonight was our attempt at making it ourselves - glad to say it worked out great and we will definitely be making this again.  We went on a LONG walk after Ryan got home from work and wore Bentley out, made this fresh and great dinner together and finished the night by playing cards on the screened in porch.  Now a little Bethenny Ever After and we'll call it a day!  Hope your evening was as enjoyable : )
The finished product.  Ryan said this was one of the "best looking" meals we've made in a long time!
Ingredients - not pictured is fat free greek yogurt.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1/4 tsp of Kosher salt
1/2 cup of lite sour cream
1/2 cup of fat free or lite greek yogurt
1 cucumber, seeded and grated (about 1.25 cups total)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 whole wheat pocketless pitas, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave just before serving
1 cup of romaine lettuce leaves
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with cayenne, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.  Cook until cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Cut into bite-size pieces.
2) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the greek yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, mint, garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.
3) Top the warm pitas with 1/4 of romaine lettuce, 1/4 of chicken, 1/4 tomatoes and 1/4 of tzatziki.  Makes 4 servings total.  YUM!

Asian Tuna Salad

(Again, before pics were not saved on my phone - so just the after shot is what we have to work with - sorry about that).
Right before I mixed it all together and enjoyed!  Dressing is in the top left corner.

This is a healthy, protein packed lunch.  It would go great with some crackers or a slice of whole wheat toast/bread.  I had 1/2 of an english muffin with mine today and of course, enjoyed the double chocolate filled strawberries for dessert - YUM!

Ingredients (for 2 salads):
1 head of torn bibb lettuce - can substitute boston lettuce if you can't find Bibb
1/2 sliced red bell pepper
1/2 sliced cucumber (I quartered mine into little chunks)
4 oz. fresh snow peas
6 oz. drained water-packed tuna
1/2 cup sliced almonds
(Divide all ingredients in half.  Can be stored up to 1 day in the fridge before serving - leave dressing off until ready to serve)

Ingredients for Dressing:
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
(whisk all ingredients together and pour half on top of each salad just before serving.)

Sugar Free Blueberry Muffins and a Milestone

Today is one of those days where I appreciate working at a private, religiously affiliated college... yep, we got the day off!  I've used my time this morning to be Suzy Homemaker.  I've done laundry, dishes, thought about ironing (no progress there yet), made lunch for Ryan and I and whipped up this new recipe of Sugar Free Blueberry Muffins.  My lunch post will be coming soon.  I took ingredient pictures and midway pictures as I always do when working through a recipe and apparently my phone decided it wanted the day off too.  None of them saved.  So we only have end result pictures for the day - sorry about that!


  • 1 cup unsweetened fresh blueberries

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/3 cup Splenda granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 4 oz of unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/2 cup skim milk

  • 1 tablespoon Splenda (to sprinkle on top before baking)

  • Pam Baking Spray

  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Lightly spray muffin tin with non-stick spray (these tend to stick to the paper cups)
    3. Wash and drain blueberries. Set aside.
    4. In large bowl, combine both kinds of flour. Add baking powder and the 1/3 cup Splenda. Mix together.
    5. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg, apple sauce and milk.
    6. Combine the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Stir just enough to blend (no electric mixers necessary). Gently fold in the blueberries.
    7. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3 full (this recipe makes 10 muffins for me). Use the last tablespoon of Splenda to sprinkle on top of each muffin and bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are light brown.
    8. After baking, allow muffins to cool before removing them from the tin. Enjoy!
    In other news, I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I stepped on the scale to do my weekly weigh in.  I'm officially 2 pounds below my ultimate goal weight of 180!  I told Ryan that we need to take some before and after pictures - so those will be coming in the next week I would guess. Total, I'm down 169 lbs. from my overall highest weight of 347.  It's been 15.5 months since surgery (Jan. 5, 2010).  To see my before pics, go here.  The blog has been up and running for 1 year and a week - hard to believe a year has gone that quickly!  Thanks to all my readers for your support and encouragement to keep posting!  If you'd like to see some things done differently, just let me know.  I'm up for the challenge!

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Double Chocolate Filled Strawberries!

    Oh my gosh, this was the best treat for our holiday today!  I found this recipe through the website in the diabetes section.  No, neither of us suffer from diabetes - but there are usually great low sugar recipes in this section.  I wanted to try something special for our "dessert" for Easter and this hit the spot.  These would be great to take to a work function and will transport well in my cupcake carrier.  Weis had strawberries last week Buy One Get One free that were HUGE.  They worked perfectly for this recipe.  I made slight modifications to the original Kraft recipe - what we used is below.
    Cut strawberries before the filling - important to keep the strawberries in tact before you fill!
    Piping the white chocolate mix into the strawberries.
    After drizzling with chocolate, before putting them into the fridge to chill.

    24 large strawberries
    1/4 cup (or 2 oz.) of Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese
    1 cup cold skim milk, divided
    1 pkg. (1 oz.) Jell-o White Chocolate Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Pudding
    1 cup thawed light cool whip topping
    10 drops of lemon juice
    4 squares of Baker's bittersweet Chocolate
    Other items needed: cup cake trays (24 total), zip lock bag and 24 cup cake liners

    1) Cut the stems off strawberries.  Cut "X" in bottom of each berry (this will be at the top); spread pieces apart to create opening in the center - try not to break any of the pieces off to leave the strawberry in tact.
    2)Whisk cream cheese and 1/4 cup milk in medium bowl until well blended.  Gradually whisk in remaining milk. Add dry pudding mix; whisk 2 min. Stir in Cool Whip and add lemon juice.  Spoon into resealable plastic bag.
    3) Cut small corner from bottom of bag; use to pipe filling into berries.  Melt chocolate in microwave (approx. 2 minutes for 4 squares) and drizzle over berries.  Chill in fridge for 15-30 minutes and serve!

    And just for fun... this is what Bentley and I did the majority of Easter weekend when we had a chance : )
    Happy Easter from Bentley and the rest of the fam!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Coconut-Curry Beef

    I got this recipe out of a new magazine - All You magazine.  The magazine is full of small articles and a ton of coupons!  I made modifications for what works for us (with my dietary needs).  We both agreed, we'd do this recipe again, but next time we'd probably make it with pork or chicken.  It was a good way to use up the beef chuck roast I had in the freezer though : )

    2.5 tbsp. of olive oil (divided)
    2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
    Sea salt
    1 Large Yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges and pulled apart into strips
    4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    1.5 tsp. of ground ginger
    1-13.5 oz. can of lite coconut milk
    2 Tbsp. splenda brown sugar
    1 Tbsp. of curry powder
    1 tsp. cayenne pepper
    1 yellow pepper and 1 red pepper cut into strips
    Slow cooker liner bag
    White or brown rice

    1) In large skillet, warm 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle beef with salt and brown on all sides, in batches if necessary, about 8 minutes total.  Line slow cooker with liner bag. Transfer beef to slow cooker along with onion, garlic and ginger.  Stir in crock pot.
    2) Whisk together coconut milk, brown sugar, curry powder and cayenne pepper.  Pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low until meat is fork-tender (4-5 hours).
    3) 30 minutes before finished, saute peppers in skillet until soft and starting to brown in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add to crock pot for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
    4) Serve with white or brown rice.  (We used Uncle Ben's Ready Rice as always).

    Sunday Deals and Delicious Breakfast

    This morning brought my usual run to Rite Aid and CVS followed by a delicious breakfast using up what we had in the fridge.  Deal and Meal breakdown below : )  In other news, we have one tired pup from our game of soccer in the backyard and a LONG walk.  It might be cloudy - but we took advantage of it not raining!

    Rite Aid Run:
    Made $1.28
    Old Spice Body Wash on sale for $2.99 each.  $2 up reward earned on each (limit 2)
    Malted Easter Eggs (got 1 bag for Ryan and 2 for a project I'm thinking about doing here at the house) 88 cents each
    Used $1 off coupon on 2 old spice products. Paid with $5 up rewards and $2.72 cash out of pocket.  Earned $4 in up rewards, which means I came out ahead by $1.28!

    CVS Run:
    Made $2.67!
    4 Air Wick Ultra Freshmatic Kits = $6 each
    3 Fuze drinks = $4 for 3
    100 ct. alcohol swabs = $2.29
    Big Wall Calendar (75%) = 25 cents
    Colgate toothpaste = $3.99
    3 Soft Soaps = $9 for 3
    Colgate Wisps 4 ct. = $2.59
    Chocolate Easter Egg = $.74 cents
    Super Big Bubbles = $1.99

    Used these coupons/ECBs:
    $5 off a purchase of $40 or more
    $4 off Air Wick Freshmatic Kits x4
    $1.50 off of Colgate toothpaste
    $1 off 2 soft soaps
    $1 off Colgate Wisps
    $10 Extra Care Bucks

    Total paid out of pocket: $16.06
    Earned these Extra Care Bucks for the next time I shop: $18.73 total
    $2 from Colgate toothpaste
    $10 from Air Wick
    $1 from fuze drinks
    $1.99 from bubbles
    $3 from soft soap
    $.74 cents from easter egg

    Came out $2.67 ahead with Extra Care Bucks!

    Breakfast when I got home was whipped up quick with left overs we had in the fridge. 
    Ugh!  I have no idea what this came out so dark.  Half of the time, they are too bright.  Anyway - my plate was 1/2 english muffin, 1 slice of bacon, 1/2 cup potato and chicken mixture and 1/4 cup of scrambled eggs with ketchup.  Yum!

    4 eggs and 1 tablespoon of milk for scrambled eggs. sprinkled with shredded cheese.
    8 slices of bacon - made in microwave.
    2 whole wheat english muffins with margarine.
    Heated in skillet on medium high heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil: 1 cup of left over potatoes from last night's steak dinner + 1/4 cup chopped onion + handful of cherry tomatoes from last night's dinner + 1 grilled chicken breast from dinner a few nights ago - cut into bite size pieces.  Serve with ketchup.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Steak dinner

    Today has been one of those days where we get a few things done on the to-do list and plan for the upcoming week(s).  We paid taxes today and let me just say, thank god for couponing!  It's the only way we could pay that whopping bill and still stay on budget.  It did make me feel a bit sick to my stomach knowing that it took us months to save that $ up just to pay - but I felt better when I looked at our stocked fridge/freezer/pantry/stockpile and realized, we shouldn't complain.  Thanks to couponing, we're still on budget (even if we're just now breaking even thanks to those DARN TAXES!) and we had a lovely steak dinner for less than $7 for both of us!  This is one of our favorite meals to have in the spring when asparagus is in season and goes on sale.

    2 petite steaks (I got mine on clearance special for $3.31 - not bad!)
    1 bunch of asparagus
    handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
    2 large red potatoes
    A1 sauce
    Extra Virgin Light Olive Oil
    Baria All Spice Seasoning
    Extra Supplies needed: tin foil, 1 zip lock medium steamer bag and grill of some sort - we used the George foreman again.

    Rinse tomatoes and asparagus in cold water.  Pat dry.  Snap ends off of asparagus and lay flat on a piece of tin foil that has been laid inside a pan with a bit of a lip.  Place tomatoes throughout asparagus.  Drizzle with olive oil (concentrating on tips) and sprinkle with baria seasoning.  Bake in oven on 375 degrees for 35 minutes. 2nd, rinse and cut potatoes into bite size pieces.  Leave some skin on each potato.  Place in zip lock steamer bag with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of baria all spice seasoning.  Shake until all potatoes in bag are well coated.  Set aside until later.  With 15 minutes remaining on asparagus, place steaks on grill - put a light coating of A1 sauce on while grilling for extra flavor.  Grill for 12-15 minutes or until done to your likeness.  Once asparagus time has reached 10 minutes, place potatoes in microwave.  Microwave on high for 7 minutes.  Make sure the bag is sealed!  Leave in microwave for 1 minute and transfer to a bowl. 
    I always eat my steak with the roasted tomatoes.  Ryan doesn't like the tomatoes nearly as much (not a fan of "squishy" tomatoes) - so he has his with A1 sauce.  Either way - great meal... even on a budget : )

    Alright, back to the ads so I can continue to stay on budget in the upcoming weeks and start rebuilding that darn savings account!

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Bentley Boy is 2!

    Yesterday our little Bentley boy turned 2!  Ryan told him last year that he'd get a burger for his big day next year and he delivered.  We made burgers for dinner and a quarter pounder was saved for our little guy.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY BENTLEY!!! (And yes, we might be nuts, but we love the little guy... PS: I had the candle from when Ryan turned 29 : )
    Ah, look at that face : )
    I think the cheese was his favorite part
    The burger lasted less than 60 seconds - short lived, but good!

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Extreme Couponing on TLC - April 6th

    Tomorrow night the second episode of Extreme Couponing on TLC is going to be on.  I've had a few people ask me if I know of the show and a few other people joke that I should be on the show. 

    Here are my thoughts on the show:
    1) Yes, I'll probably watch, but I anticipate getting irritated.
    2) I think it really skews the view of what "normal" people do when they use coupons.  Saving 40-60% on your weekly grocery and drugstore bills is a GREAT savings.  This show focuses on people saving 90% or more and that is just unrealistic.
    3) What the show doesn't show you is that these people order massive amounts of coupons online, use multiple transactions to roll over the same catalinas and spend HOURS planning one shopping trip.  So when they say they get coupons and get all these items for free, that's usually not the case.  They have to PRE BUY the coupons before their shopping trip.
    4) People showcased on the show usually call the store in advance to get prior approval of the manager/store chain to be buying that many products and using that many coupons.  When was the last time you called corporate before buying milk, eggs and bread?  Seriously...
    5) When I say stockpile, I think of the next 3-6 months of non-perishable things.  Take Bentley's dog food and biscuits for example.  It's good for the next 2 years and we have at least a 6 month supply.  What I consider ridiculous is buying 150 jars of pasta sauce for a family of 4.  I mean seriously, what is the point of that?  In my mind, that crosses over the line into hoarding.

    I'm a FIRM believer in couponing.  It has helped us considerably cut our budget.  What I'm not a fan of is sensationalizing something that real people turn to when they need to cut corners.  I look at my coupon hobby like a part time job.  I would estimate that we save close to $600 a month at the drug store and grocery store.  I probably spend about 10-15 hours a week planning, cutting and shopping.  To me, that's like a part time job (I just get to wear my comfy pants when I do it).  That would break down to about $10-$15 per hour for my work and I think that's worth it.  The last 6-8 weeks that I've been teaching, my couponing time has easily been cut in half.  I'm sure you can see that by how little I've been blogging.  It's not something I get upset about because we have plenty to get us through.  Now that my class is over, I'll get back in the swing of things and do my best to not go overboard like the people that are highlighted on this TLC show.  As Ms. Dixon, Ryan and I often say... "we are not these people!"  

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Santa Fe Pie

    We spiced up our night with this new recipe - Santa Fe "Pie".  The recipe idea came from the package of Philadelphia Cooking Cream with a few changes/additions of my own.  It was GOOD!
    Chicken not pictured - it's baking and waiting to be shredded : )
    Our golden cheesy Santa Fe pie
    A santa fe slice!

    1 small can of green chilies, drained
    1 - 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 - 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
    2 large green onions, sliced
    2 large cooked chicken breasts, shredded (Cook at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes and shred with 2 forks)
    1 - 8 oz bag of cheddar cheese
    3 whole wheat flour tortillas
    1 tub (10 oz.) Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend cooking creme

    Preheat oven to 375F. Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl.  Add shredded chicken and mix. Add 3/4 cup of cooking creme, mix together.  Spoon 1/3 of the chicken mixture into 9 inch pie plate; top with 1/4 of shredded cheese and 1 tortilla.  Top tortilla with 1/2 of remaining chicken mixture, 1/4 of shredded cheese and top with 2nd tortilla.  Cover second tortilla with remaining chicken mixture, 1/4 shredded cheese and remaining tortilla.  Top "top" tortilla with remaining cooking creme and remaining shredded cheese.  Cover "pie" with tin foil.  Bake for 20 min. or until heated through.  Uncover.  Bake 5 additional minutes until cheese is golden brown.  Cut into "pie" slices and serve.  Yum!