Grocery Totals and Weekly Menu 3/22/2012

There were some rocking great deals this week! At Kroger, I stocked up on Domino sugar ($1.69/4# bag) and Pace Salsa ($.99/jar), both of which will last us for a few months. At Publix, I stocked up on Peter Pan peanut butter ($1.65/jar) and Land O Lakes Butter Sticks ($1.75/lbs). Target was my best deal where I stocked up on marked down Laura’s Lean Steaks – I got 5 steaks for approx $4/each! That is a great deal since they normally run $10-$12/steak. We will be eating good!

Total Spent: $146.83
Total Value: $261.58
Total Saved: $114.75

Weekly Menu

Friday:
Fried Catfish
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Asparagus

Saturday:
Sesame Chicken
Rice
Broccoli

Sunday:
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Rolls

Monday:
Homemade Pizza
Salad

Tuesday:
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Rice

Wednesday:
Chicken Tetrazini 
Greenbeans
Rolls

Thursday:
Clean out the fridge night

 

Local Harvest…

I spent this morning at a beautiful little farm just 10 miles from my home, Cane Creek Farm. I went to volunteer orientation and to get more information on supporting my local agriculture. I signed up to spend 4-5 hours every Tuesday in the hot Georgia sun harvesting vegetables for the entire summer. Why? For several reasons.

1) I want to learn more about gardening, especially organic gardening. This was my primary reason for signing up to volunteer at the farm this morning. I figured that there is no better place to learn than directly from the source. And I am a big believer in hands on learning, that is how I learn best. I need to do something in order to truly understand it.

2) I want to eat cleaner and cheaper. I will not be paid in dollars for my work on the farm but I am going to be paid in something else – a share of the CSA. A share is equal to a basket of fresh organic vegetables, limited fruits and herbs that is grown on the farm. Today I saw broccoli and lettuce that was planted and growing. I was shown a field that held potatoes and another that had turnips. This to me is worth more than if they were paying me in cash. I am trying to eat cleaner with more fresh fruits and vegetables and I want to do it cheaper than what I can do in the grocery store, so this seems like a great solution.

3) I want to support the small local farmer. It is important to support the small farmer who is trying to grow the food that we all need to eat. I want to be able to buy from the farmer who is growing food just miles from my house and not just the farmer who is 3000 miles away. In order to do this, I have to support their efforts. I want to know what it takes to grow the food and what they struggle with so I can help support their efforts. And I think our bodies function more effectively when we eat food that is locally grown. Pollinated by local bees collecting all the local pollen that covers my car right now.

So, I will try to update the blog during the summer with what is happening on the farm. I will take some pics and pass on any stories, tips and recipes that I get from the people that I meet. And maybe even share some of the beautiful produce with those who know me IRL. Spring is coming and so is the harvest.

Pi Day…

Today is March 14th or Pi Day. Get it, 3/14? Pi is 3.14? Ok, enough math for this early in the morning. So, in honor of Pi Day, I will be making a Pie today. I went through my recipes to try to figure out what pie to make and I came across a very simple one that sounded right up my alley. I am not a huge pie fan. I like Key Lime Pie and Pecan Pie but I am not a big fruit pie fan. I will let you know how this one turns out and try to remember to add a picture but I can’t see how this could not be delicious. I am always excited to add a new dessert to my repertoire (Thank the Lord for spellcheck, that is a hard word to spell!).

Update: This pie is delicious but very rich so only plan on eating a little at a time. John liked it so much he had 3 pieces tonight!

Smooth and Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

3/4 Cup creamy peanut butter
4 oz cream cheese (half a large pack)
1 1/4 confectioners sugar
1 (12 oz) container Cool Whip
1 9″ prepared chocolate cookie crumb crust

In large bowl, mix together peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar.  Then stir in Cool Whip.  Beat until smooth and no lumps remain. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate for about 3 hours until pie is firm.

Note: Can be decorated on top with diced Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and chocolate syrup.

Orchard Chicken Salad…

I am a big fan of chicken salad. When I try a new restaurant for lunch, I typically get the chicken salad sandwich and base my opinion of the restaurant on how well they execute that sandwich. I like chicken salad because you can make it as simple or complex as you want it to be and it can still be delicious. I don’t make chicken salad at home very much unless the right circumstances are upon me. Those circumstances include having leftover chicken, mayo that isn’t expired and some kind of fruit that will work in there. Yesterday, the stars were aligned and I made chicken salad from a recipe that I have had floating around for a while looking for a place to land. It was very good. I prefer a chicken salad that isn’t too dry, is a little sweet and has both fruit and nuts in it. That is what you get with this recipe. Be sure to read my notes at the bottom and see how I changed it up based on what I had available in the kitchen.

Orchard Chicken Salad

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
1/2 cup red grapes, cut in half
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup diced apple

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

To serve as a salad:
2 cups salad greens
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds

In large mixing bowl, combine chicken, grapes, onions, cranberries, and apple. In smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, thyme, and black pepper. Pour over chicken mixture. Toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For a salad, divide salad greens onto two plates. Divide chicken salad mixture. Top each plate with 1 Tablespoon sliced almonds.

 

Tiffany’s Notes: I halved this recipe since I would be the only one eating it. I also left out the onions and apple. I would have added the apple but the one I had been saving for this salad got eaten by someone else so I had to go without it. I did add in some cashews to give it a nutty crunch (and left out the almonds). I served it on sweet Hawaiian Rolls because I had them leftover from this weekend. Be sure to make this a little ahead of time to give the flavors times to mesh together.

 

Free Weights…

Brittany asked me this past weekend if I have always taken things that were in the trash. I told her that there was time when I wouldn’t have done that because my pride got in the way. I look back and think of all the great things I probably missed because of it. Well, not anymore.

We got the deal of the weekend when we went yard saling this past Saturday. Free weights. For free. So I guess that makes them free Free Weights. We happened upon a man who decided that yard sales were not his favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning and gave us almost everything in the above picture (we already had the smaller hand held weights on the top shelf of the weight rack). I took a look on Amazon when we got home and here is how it broke down:

Weight bench: $50
Weight rack: $100
6 Hand Weights (Barbells): $270
Total: $420

Now, these are new prices not used but even if you bought it for half price used, this was still a great deal to get it all for free! And he also gave us a Kenwood stereo receiver with speakers, 2 DVD players, 1 VHS player and a 7′ curtain rod (which I had been looking for at the yard sales).

I also came across 2 shelving units that a local church was throwing out that were in good condition. I took them home, cleaned them up and now have new shelving in my attic. The cost at Lowes for the same units were $50/each!

The moral of this story is that is pays to shop the curb and keep your eyes open. You never know what you might find.

Honey and Rosemary Sweet Potatoes…

Well, it looks as though my Rosemary survived the winter in the garden. It is the only thing in my garden right now. I am still trying to figure out what I will be planting in the garden this year but at least the Rosemary is alive and well. This is a great recipe for sweet potatoes that takes them in a different direction than the ultra-sweet marshmallow topped casserole you often see at Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I love that kind too (actually I prefer them topped with a brown sugar pecan topping) but this is a great side dish for the other 364 days of the year. You can serve this with any meat but I especially like to serve it with pork. Sweet potatoes and pork just go well together – like Fred and Ginger or for my younger readers like Brad and Angelina. I will warn you that it will try to stick to the pan if you let it. I bake mine on a silpat and it comes off without any trouble. You may want to line your pans with a quick release aluminum foil. Enjoy!

 

Oh, and sorry about the stock picture of a sweet potato. We ate it so fast that I didn’t get to take a picture of the actual dish. I will try to get one next time I make it.

Honey and Rosemary Sweet Potatoes 

 

Ingredients

 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Mix the olive oil, honey, rosemary, salt, and black pepper together in a large bowl, and stir the sweet potato cubes in the mixture to coat. Remove sweet potato cubes with a slotted spoon, and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Turn oven heat up to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and bake until browned, another 15 minutes.

 

 


 

Grocery Totals and Weekly Menu 3/8/2012

There were some good items on sale this week and I stocked up on a few including apple juice, cashews and eggs. We use 2 dozen eggs each week at our house since John makes scrambled eggs for himself and the kids every morning for breakfast. Kroger had large eggs on sale for $1.28/dozen and this is a great price for our area. There were also some good produce deals this week including grape tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, mangos and avocados. I loaded up on fresh produce since it has felt like a long winter around here. The mango and the avocado were the inspiration for Friday night’s meal – Mango-licious Tilapia. This is a new recipe but it sounds delicious!

Total Spent: $119.54
Total Value: $173.05
Total Saved: $53.51

Weekly Menu

Friday:
Mango-licious Tilapia
Cous Cous
Roasted Asparagus

Saturday:
Dinner w/Friends (I am bringing dessert!)

Sunday:
Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes
Oven Baked Fries
Crockpot Applesauce

Monday:
Crockpot Roasted Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Green beans

Tuesday:
Chicken and Dumplings (using the chicken leftover from Monday)

Wednesday:
Saucy Asian Meatballs
Rice
Broccoli

Thursday:
Cashew Chicken
Leftover Rice

 

Here is this week’s recipe:

Mango-licious Tilapia
Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salsa:
  • 1 mango – peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted and diced
  • 3 roma tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.)
  2. In a shallow baking dish, combine the olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Rinse the fish fillets and pat them dry. Place them into the baking dish and turn to coat with the seasonings.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until fish can be flaked with a fork.
  4. While the fish cooks, combine the mango, onion, avocado, tomatoes, lime zest and juice, jalapeno, ginger, cilantro and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a glass bowl. Stir to blend and set aside at room temperature until fish has finished cooking. Place fillets on a platter and spoon the salsa over them to serve.

Creative Kids…

What happens when you regulate how much television your kids can watch and they are forced to come up with their own diversions? You get very creative kids.

I am a big believer that if you don’t use your imagination, you loose it. So, that being said, our kids are not allowed to sit around and watch tv, play on the computer or play video games except on a very limited basis. This give them lots of time to read, do art projects, play with friends and invent games. Most afternoons after the kids do their homework and chores, you will find them creating some kind of project with whatever they can find. Josh will wander out to the garage to make something with the bucket of scrap wood that he got for Christmas. Or Brittany will be sewing doll clothes on her sewing machine. We have to allow our kids time to be kids. Let them get bored, that is the best motivation for using their imagination. Our yard is filled with mud pits and fairy villages because one of our kids got bored. I look around at my neighbor’s yards and every grass is in place. It makes me sad. What are we doing to our future generations? They will not know how to create and dream.  So I challenge you to take action. Stop scheduling every free hour your child has. Let them get bored. Turn off the tv. Buy them items that force creativity like paint, wood, legos and fabric. Then stand back and see what happens. Here is what happens at my house in just the past two days…

And in case you were wondering, it is a snow plow. In Georgia. Yes, my boy knows how to dream.

Being Positive…

I am trying a new thing with my kids. The power of positive thinking. I think we get too bogged down with all the negatives there are in life. So I have begun to play Zig Ziglar on the stereo whenever the kids are around. I am playing it in the car, at breakfast and just randomly during the day. I don’t “require” that they listen or discuss the topic at hand but I feel as though just having it on is bound to rub off on them. And I think it is working. I can’t point to one central item that has happened but in general I have seen an improvement in their attitudes. And as Zig Ziglar says “You are who you are and where you are by what you put into your mind.” So think about what you are putting into your mind and the minds of your kids?

Are you watching the news everyday, especially when the kids are within earshot? The news is very depressing and we do not watch it in our house. Some people might think that leaves us out of touch with what is happening in our world but that isn’t true. We find things out, whether it is from the newspaper, radio or friends. And we tend to just find out the big ticket issues affecting our community and not every murder or case of child abuse.

What kind of music are you listening to? Does it have an uplifting message? What about your kids, what are they listening to? We are very cautious of what we let ourselves or the kids listen to when it comes to music. John and I will google the lyrics to songs before we let the kids listen to them, not only looking for foul language but also messages that we don’t want our kids to absorb. We do not let them listen to songs that include sexual innuendoes or drug references, no matter how obscure. Kids understand more than you think they do. If you let them listen to music that glorifies a sexual relationship outside of marriage, that is what they are going to think is appropriate. Just this week Josh wanted to listen to a song that at first sounded fine. I didn’t hear any cuss words in it but once we googled the words, we were shocked at the picture the song painted. It described getting drunk, dating around and even filming pornography. I couldn’t believe that this song was on the radio and that my child had already heard it enough to want to ask for it on iTunes. It wasn’t until you stopped, really listened and researched the lyrics that you caught what the song was saying.

What about the people you are hanging around? Are they Positive Pennys or Negative Neds? That is how I classify positive people from negative people and I have even taught the kids to look at things that way. We want to strive to be and hang around with Positive Pennys and not Negative Neds. Who you are around will greatly influence who you become. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”. So, make sure to choose your friends wisely. Stay away from complainers, whiners and crybabies and surround yourself with encouraging people.

What good books have to read lately? Turn off the TV and pick up a book. Make it a positive book that teaches you something about life. You will find several books in our house that are in process books. I find so many good things to read that I can’t just stick with one so I have several books going at one time. If I find a book that turns out to have negative themes or isn’t well written, I don’t waste my time on it. There are too many good books out there. If you are a parent, you should be reading a book on how to improve your parenting skills. If you are married, you should be reading a book on how to improve your marriage. If you are a person of faith, you should be reading something to grow that faith.

So, take an inventory of your life and see how you can make it a more positive one. What do you need to do more of or less of to be a better person? It is never too late to start.