Pumpkin Zuchinni Muffins…


One of my goals in life is to get more nutritious food into my kids. I have one who will eat just about anything and another one who picks everything apart and prefers only “white” food. As I have posted in the past, I am not above hiding vegetables in my kids food and just not telling them. That is what this recipe today is. I wanted a muffin that used some of the tons of pumpkin I have in the freezer and hid atleast one veggie that my kids normally wouldn’t eat. I am going to pack these as my kids snack this week, figuring that I won’t be there for them to complain to and if they are really hungry at snack, they will eat whatever I pack.

My only changes were to use half the amount of butter, pumpkin pie spice instead of measuring out the individual spices and I baked them as muffins instead of a loaf. I also sprinkled cinnamon sugar on most of them but some I topped with granola, hoping to hide the bits of green zucchini that you could see. Wish me good luck…

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Ready In: 1 Hour
Submitted By: Pat Thompson via Allrecipes.com Cook Time: 45 Minutes Servings: 32
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin, butter and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until breads test done. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack.

Buying local…

I love buying fresh produce from local sources. During the spring/summer growing season, you will often find me at local farmers markets buying what is grown in our area. I am still budget concious in these decisions, you won’t find me buying a $10 local watermelon just because it was grown here. But I have found that supporting local agriculture can be less expensive than our local grocery store, often has a higher quality and is better for you.


The first issue to tackle for me is the cost. I don’t mind paying a small price premium for locally grown produce but I won’t be paying double just so I can get something grown 5 miles from my house. The easiest way to get locally grown produce at a discout is to bargain with the growers. We have a few small farmers markets in our area where local farmers come to sell their produce. Often if you ask, they are willing to be flexible on the price since they don’t want to take their produce back home with them. They also will sell you produce at a discount if it is overly ripe or bruised. These are great ways to stock up the freezer with produce. I have bought overly ripe fruit by the case and then taken it home and frozen it for later use. It makes lovely cobblers, pies or smoothies. Another way to tackle price is to offer to trade your labor for produce. I recently ran across a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in my county that will trade my labor during harvest for boxes of produce. These produce boxes often sell for close to $40 and they only ask for a few hours of my labor in order to get one. I have not tried it yet but I am hoping to do it some during this coming growing season. You can also visit u-pick farms in your area. You will either pay a flat fee to pick a certain amount of fruit/veggies or pay per pound for what you do pick. I will take the kids to pick strawberries this spring and we will easily bring home 40 gallons or more of strawberries to stock our freezer with. The price is lower than what I could get in the grocery store and the taste is unbelievable.


The quality of locally grown produce is often higher too. I have found that local berries, fruit, vegetables and honey taste better than what you can buy in the grocery store. The quality is better because the items are fresher and have not traveled on a truck for days to get to me. You can’t beat the taste of strawberries picked ripe in the morning and then eaten that evening for dessert (or even better, eaten in the field still warm from the sun!). The shorter the time is between harvesting and eating, the better the taste, assuming the produce is picked ripe. The produce you find in the grocery store is harvested before it is ripe so that it will be able to withstand the travel to the market. That is one of the reasons why the quality is sub-par in the grocery store. I have not purchased locally grown beef, chicken or eggs but I can assume the same quality standards are there as well.


Buying locally is often healthier for you than buying from the big chain grocery store. When you buy locally, you have the opportunity to ask the farmer who grows the food whether or not it he has used pesticides to grow it. You also can sometimes be more assured of the health standards that were in place when the item was produced. Was there a nuclear power plant next door leaking waste into the water tables? If it is grown in your area, you might have such information at hand. Honey is a great product to buy locally since the pollen that the bees collect is from your area. This pollen will help you combat allergies that are specific to your area.

For me, buying locally is the chance to give back to our community. I believe it is important to support local businesses as much as you are able to, especially the local farmer. If you have the chance to purchase from a local farmers market, fruit stand or CSA, give them a try and see what happens. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Local resources:

Cane Creek Farms (CSA)

Brookwood Farmers Market

Warbington Farms

Washington Farms


Grocery Totals and Weekly Menu 1/26/12

I did some replenishing this week. We were completely out of peanut butter, which is a disaster in our house, so when I found a deal for $1.10/jar (sale plus coupons) I grabbed 4 jars. Kroger also had a good deal on blocks of cheese ($1.49/8oz) and frozen meatballs ($.99/bag after coupons) so I stocked up on both of those. The meatballs will especially come in handy when everyone is tired and we need a quick meal. John also requested a few items that were on sale (Cashews and Coke) and since I try to make sure he has what he likes to eat, I got some of those too. All in all it was a good week and pretty typical for grocery savings. Oh, and I did get some free gum – yeah for me!

Here are the totals:

Spent: $130.06
Value: $207.62
Saved: $77.56

Weekly Menu:

Famous Bacon Potato Soup
Homemade Rolls

Fried Catfish
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Homemade Pizza (cheese for the kids, grilled chicken pesto for the adults)
Cesar Salad

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Sweet & Sour Chicken
Steamed Broccoli

Spaghetti & Meatballs (hello, Kroger sale meatballs!)
Garlic Bread

Crockpot Angel Chicken


Here is this week’s recipe:

I haven’t made this before but I thought I would give it a whirl. I got some white albacore tuna at a low price a few weeks ago and thought this might be a good way to use it. We’ll have to wait and see what the family thinks…

Tuna Noodle Casserole II

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour
Submitted By: Chris Smith
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Servings: 8

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked pasta shells
2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
4 slices processed American cheese
1 1/2 cups crushed cracker crumbs



1. Boil pasta in lightly salted water for 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain well. Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

3. Mix tuna with cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup, milk, salt, black pepper, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium low heat, and heat through. Alternatively, place these ingredients in a microwave safe dish, and warm in the microwave.

4. Mix tuna mixture with pasta. Spread 1/2 of the noodles into the prepared dish. Arrange the cheese slices over the noodles, then spread the remaining noodle mixture over the cheese. Top with crushed crackers.

5. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes; cook until the casserole is hot, and the chips begin to brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Bread Machine Bagels…

There is a bagel shop near our house that makes these warm, chewy ginormous bagels that are the best bagels we have ever had. The people who own the shop are from New York and they know how to make a bagel. The prices are reasonable but when you are on a tight budget, you learn to either do without or make your own. And since I prefer to not do without, I made my own. Now, I have made bagels on here in the past but the recipe was for pumpkin bagels and I wanted to make a plain bagel so that I could customize it our tastes. I like mine with sesame seeds and the kids like their bagel with cinnamon sugar. John likes his bagel with eggs and bacon in the middle. So today I made some bagels that will suit all of us. They were quick to make and I think they turned out very well. I need to practice my shaping technique but I figure that with time that will come around.

And as you will notice, the recipe calls for shaping 9 bagels but I found that the amount of dough lends itself to 6 bagels more than 9. But, you can decide how many to make by how large of a bagel you want. They were tasty but a little dense, I think next time I will add more water and not kneed as long as this time.

Bread Machine Bagels
CDKitchen http://www.cdkitchen.com
Serves/Makes: 9    |   Difficulty Level: 3    |   Ready In: 1-2 hrs

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 quarts boiling water
3 tablespoons white sugar
corn meal
egg white
poppy seeds
dried onions

Place water, salt, sugar, flour, and yeast in the bread machine pan according to the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough setting.

When dough cycle is complete, let dough rest on a lightly floured surface. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Cut dough into 9 equal pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each with your thumb. Twirl the dough on your finger or thumb to enlarge the hole and even out the dough around the hole. Cover bagels with a clean cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, turning half way through. Drain briefly on clean towel. Move boiled bagels to baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal.

Glaze tops with egg white and sprinkle with your choice of toppings. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until well browned.

Thrift Store Tuesday – 1/24/12

Today was my first day at the thrift store since my last post. I didn’t get a chance to go last week but I did get some good deals today. I went to one of my favorite thrift stores, No Longer Bound, that just moved to a new location. The good part is that there is now plenty of space and everything is neatly organized, the bad part is that the prices on some of their items increased. With the new prices, I probably won’t be buying as much at this store but atleast when I do, it will be easier to shop. I also went to my regular low priced thrift store which is where I found most of today’s treasures. I am stocking up on books for the kids to give them for Valentine’s Day, which is why you see that I bought so many. But, with such a low price on books, who can resist?

Here is what I got…

A pair of almost new slippers (black): $1.00
These are for me, my little tootsies get cold in the winter
8 paperback books: $4.00 ($0.50/each)
Including an American Girl book and several Scholastic books
Short sleeve shirt for Brittany: $0.50
I loved the saying on the shirt “It is all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone”. Brittany is a dog lover so I am sure she will love this!
Pottery Barn Letters “JRT”: $3.00 ($1.00/each)
Believe it or not, these are John and my initials, so I am going to hang them in our bedroom. They even came with the original price tags on them of $10/each!!
Small Rug: $2.49
This is for our foyer, perfect for helping to keep the grass off of the wood floors.

So total for today was $11.76 (including tax). Not too bad!


“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4


When I read this bible passage, I think to myself that it makes so much sense but is so hard to do. The reason it is hard is because sometimes it feels as though our children go out of their way to exasperate us. Our purpose as parents is to help our children learn and grow, not to break their will or cause them to be discouraged but that is hard when the times get tough.

We have two children who have completely different personalities. One of them is more gentle and quiet and does not try protest the system. The other one is more aggressive and loud and makes it their mission to push the boundaries. You can imagine which one causes more grief in the early morning hours before school. Most mornings our biggest goal is to just get them on the school bus with cleanish clothes, something in their stomachs and most of what they need for the day. It seems like such a small goal but it takes a lot of work to get it accomplished. On the best of days, it takes all hands on deck to get them to the bus stop by 6:50am. This morning I came downstairs to giggles that changed to tears in a matter of minutes.

I won’t go into all the specifics of why the change took place, more than anything the lesson learned this morning is that raising children can be exasperating for both us and them. And when the situation escalates, it is important to learn as a parent when to walk away. I think that is the meaning behind what Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians. He was just warning parents that you have to choose your battles and know when to retreat. Almost daily I practice what Paul preaches. I have to walk away and tell myself that not only am I not making it any better but in reality I am just exasperating my child and escalating the situation. It is times like that I that I need to take a time out. Retreat and re-evaluate. Pray and listen to what God would have me say and do.

So, as you interact with your children today, keep this passage in mind. It take a lot of patience to raise children in the image of Christ, especially when you are trying to get there yourself. Just remember that sometimes you have to loose the battle to win the war.

Chicken and Dumplings…

I got a request for the Chicken and Dumplings recipe that I make for dinner and have mentioned on my blog. I haven’t posted the recipe before because there really isn’t one. This is just something that I have made for years and know how to make. But, I took the time to write down what I do for anyone who wants to attempt it. It is a very comforting, warm dish to serve to your family on a cold winter night. My picky eater even loves this recipe, which is saying a lot!

Chicken and Dumplings


2 Chicken Breasts
Chicken Broth
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
Salt & pepper

Cook chicken in crockpot covered with water until done (approx. 2-3 hours) or boil chicken on stovetop until cooked (approx. 30 mins). Remove chicken from water and shred. Set aside chicken and reserve water from cooking for use later.


Stir 2 cups Bisquick Mix and 2/3 cup milk until soft dough forms. Set aside.

In large stockpot, place shredded chicken, water from cooking and additional chicken broth until it looks like enough. I do not measure the liquid, I just eyeball it, so I am not sure how much to tell you to add. Bring to a boil and drop large spoonfuls of dumpling dough onto boiling stew. DO NOT STIR!! Reduce heat; cook uncovered 10 minutes. DO NOT STIR!!! Cover; cook 10 mins long. Now you can gently stir and serve.

May need additional salt and pepper.




Rice Pudding…

When it is cold outside, I love a warm dessert to make you feel all gooey inside. This is a great recipe to keep on hand because it is so versatile. You can serve is warm or cold, it is great either way. You can add cinnamon and raisins or just be a purist and leave them out. You can also leave out the rice and just serve vanilla pudding or do a few small change ups and you have chocolate pudding. The varieties are only limited by your imagination.

It is a great way to use up leftover rice or in my case this week, leftover egg yolks. I made an angel food cake earlier this week and it uses 10 egg whites. Well, being the frugalista that I am, I couldn’t throw out the egg yolks, so I frozen them individually in an ice cube tray. This recipe calls for four egg yolks, so I just took 4 our of the freezer, let them come to room temperature and used them like normal.

Vanilla Pudding

3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch or 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
4 beaten egg yolks or 2 beaten whole eggs
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a heavy medium saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch or flour. Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat til mixture is thickened and bubbly (this takes a long while, just settle in and prepare to stir). Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Gradually stire about 1 cup of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks or eggs (go slow, you are tempering the eggs so you won’t end up with scrambled eggs).

Return all of the egg mixture to the saucepan. If using egg yolks, bring to a gentle boil; if using whole eggs, cook till nearly bubbly, but do not boil. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour pudding into a bowl.

Rice Pudding: You can add in rice, raisins and cinnamon after you stir in the butter and vanilla. I eyeball how much rice to use but approx 1 1/2 cups cooked rice for the above recipe.

Chocolate Pudding: Prepare as above, except add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to sugar. Use 2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 2 2/3 cups milk and egg yolks (not whole eggs).

Grocery Totals and Weekly Menu 1/19/2012

This week’s grocery totals aren’t as good as they have been. I needed meat and produce this week, which didn’t leave a lot of money in the budget for stocking up on deals. And the deals weren’t that good this week. I did score some breakfast sausage for $2/package and had a coupon for free eggs when I bought breakfast sausage, so that effectively lowered the cost to $1/package. I also got some of the Eggsland Best eggs for $1.59/dozen, which is a good price for eggs since they have been running $1.99/dozen for the regular store brand. The best deal this week was the Publix Gas Card Deal, which you get a $50 gas card for $40 when you buy $25 in groceries. I got 2 of those, so $20 in free gas!! Yeah! But that purchase and savings is not reflected in my total since it comes out of the gas envelope and not the grocery one.

Here are the totals:

Spent: $105.48
Value: $151.36
Saved: $45.88

Weekly Menu:

Crispy Fish Sticks (see recipe below)

Dinner out, we are going to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover

Crockpot Beef Stew

Sesame Chicken

Famous Bacon Potato Soup
Homemade Rolls

Chicken Quesadillas

Roast Beef Sandwiches (new recipe)
Tator Tots

Here is this week’s recipe:

Crispy Fish Sticks 
Family Circle Magazine, Feb. 2012

1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 pound tilapia, cut into 1/2″ x 3″ strips
Thai Kitchen sweet red chili sauce, optional


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a wire rack on a back sheet and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together bread crumbs, corn flake crumbs and seasoned salt in a shallow dish. Place flour in a second dish and egg whites in a third dish.

Coat eat fish strip with flour, dip in egg white and coat with bread crumb mixture. Place on prepared pan.

Coat breaded fish sticks with cooking srpay. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 munutes or until lightly browned.

Serve fish sticks with Thai Kitchen sweet red chili sauce, if desired.