Thursday, December 31, 2009

January 2010 Eat from the Pantry Challenge and meal plan

Well I took the first step in not buying groceries in January, I took an inventory (not a very detailed one) and I've made out a meal plan for the ENTIRE month. Hold me because this took forever and also I had to rework it because I had planned mashed potatoes nearly every night all month long. Now, I'm Irish so I wouldn't mind and hubs loves my mashed potatoes so he wouldn't complain either but I am thinking that we probably need more variety in our diet. You'll notice I repeat the same vegetables over and over and over. Well, hubs doesn't eat vegetables so I tend to stick to my favorites which tend to be cheaper anyways. If I'm only making them for myself might as well get what I want, right?

I have included breakfasts and lunches too since I pack us breakfasts to eat at our desks or on the road and we each take our luches to work.

muffins- blueberry, pumpkin chocolate chip, dried fruit
granola bars

salads (chicken, egg, etc)
homemade mac n cheese

Friday, Jan 1, 2010
Traditional southern with a twist
pinto beans w/ ham, sauteed spinach (I don't like my vegetables cooked within an inch of their lives like most southerners)

Saturday, Jan 2, 2010
We are meeting some friends out of state for lunch so not sure what time we will be home. It will either be see food (see food, eat food) or leftovers from New Year's

Sunday, Jan 3, 2010
Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans

Monday, Jan 4, 2010
chicken noodle soup made with leftover roasted chicken and homemade stock that simmered in the crock pot all night

Tuesday, Jan 5, 2010
Meatloaf muffins, rice pilaf, broccoli

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010
pizza w/ pepperoni and pineapple, spinach salad w/ mandarin oranges, almonds and pear vinegar dressing

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010
Taco night with refried beans and corn

Friday, Jan 8, 2010
leftovers or date night

Saturday, Jan 9, 2010
hamburger helper (don't judge my husband makes me do it), roasted carrots

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010
balsamic chicken breasts, rice pilaf, green beans

Monday, Jan 11, 2010
hot dogs w/ chili, french fries, fruit

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010
chili bowls with chili, fritos, cheese & sour cream, carrot sticks

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010

Friday, Jan 15, 2010
spaghetti with fresh pasta, garlic bread & zuc coins

Saturday, Jan 16, 2010
Chicken Marsala, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans

Sunday, Jan 17, 2010
dirty risotto, fruit

Monday, Jan 18, 2010
Parmesan crusted pork chops, roasted potatoes, carrots & parsnips

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010
welsh rarebit, broccoli, fruit

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010
hamburger helper, fruit

Thursday, Jan 21, 2010

Friday, Jan 22, 2010
Patty melts, french fries, fruit

Saturday, Jan 23, 2010
Dunbar macaroni, salad

Sunday, Jan 24, 2010
Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted parsnips

Monday, Jan 25, 2010
chicken salad, fruit

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010
Swedish meatballs, egg noodles, carrots

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010
Stuffed pork chops, broccoli

Thursday, Jan 28, 2010
breakfast for dinner- breakfast potatoes, sausage, eggs, fruit

Friday, Jan 29, 2010
date! I'm gonna need a break after all this cooking!

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010
pizza with Italian sausage, peppers & onion

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010
Stuffed baked potatoes with bacon, broccoli, caramelized onions and fruit

The end. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Ultimate Recipe Swap Janet's Cheeseball and Ann's Open House Meatballs

Hi! Jessica aka Fishmama of asked us to share our favorite appetizer recipes. As soon as I think of appetizers I think of two recipes, my mother's meatballs and my cousin's cheese ball.

Janet is my cousin. She is my first cousin but because of the age gap in my family she has children my age. She is a wonderful wife, mother and woman and I am so happy to have her as part of my family and not just because she makes a darn good cheese ball that takes 3 minutes to throw together.

Janet's Cheese ball

1 package cream cheese (you can use reduced fat or fat free)
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
2 Tablespoons garlic pepper blend (example McCormick's or Jane's Crazy Mixed up Pepper)

Soften cream cheese. Place in a small bowl. Mix with dry Italian dressing mix. (I usually use a fork for this).

Put a layer of the garlic pepper blend on a small salad plate. Dump the cream cheese mixture on the plate and roll around to form a ball and coat outside with the garlic pepper blend.

Allow to sit for several hours for flavors to blend. I usually put it back in the refrigerator and then pull it out an hour before serving.

Serve with crackers and for goodness sakes don't tell your guests how easy it was!

Ann's Open House Meatballs

1 package frozen meatballs (or you can make your own- I usually make my own and freeze them and then use those)
1 small bottle ketchup
1 can beer (use anything or you can use root beer if you would prefer)

Mix beer and ketchup in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until boiling. Add in frozen meatballs, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until sauce thickens and meatballs are heated through.

Please check out the other posts here:

If this is your first time visiting Welcome and thank you for visiting me. Please feel free to leave me a comment.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Hi. Long time no talk to. Sorry I'm not very good (ok so not good at all) at this blogging thing. One of my goals for 2010 is going to be posting more and I am going to kick it off in January by participating in the eat from the pantry challenge.

Crystal over at Money Saving Mom and FishMama from Life as Mom are hosting this challenge and encouraging us to use up what we have in our pantry and freezers and greatly reduce our shopping at the store.

I'm just gonna be honest here for a second. My pantry, it overfloweth. To the point that I can't find ANYTHING! I need a much better organization system but I think that the best way to do that is to use some of this up. Now, I'm not going to go an entire month without buying groceries and my goals are a little different from everyone else's. There are some things that I'm not very well stocked on (boneless skinless chicken breasts for example) and if they go on sale at my buy price ($1.79-$1.99/lb.) I am going to buy some. But, since I am planning to use several pounds this month that will be ok.

I will continue to buy milk, bread (maybe I'll make it one week but I'm not going to commit myself to that), fresh vegetables and I'll probably need eggs, sour cream, etc at some point. I will continue to coupon so that I can get these things at the best possible price.

I'm starting to think about meals that I could make from my pantry. There are several favorites that come to mind:

Homemade mac 'n cheese
Dunbar Macaroni
Chicken Marsala
Pulled pork
stuffed pork chops
roasted chicken- which also turns into chicken noodle soup and chicken salad
Carne asada- which also turns into steak quesidillas
Patty Melts

I'll keep thinking and will take inventory some time over the next couple of days to get ready. This is exciting... and scary!

Go to and to learn more about how others are approaching this challenge!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Apple Porkchop Bake

This is what I served for dinner on Wednesday night. It is easy and oh so delicious. I loved it and hubby not only loved it, he requested that I set aside the leftover apples for him. He doesn't usually like leftovers so that was a pretty big thing for him. The pork chops were moist and the apples were delicious. This recipe is my own but it is roughly based on a recipe by Bisquick called Fall Pork Dinner (Cooking for 2).

Here's what I did:

2 1/2 inch thick bone in pork chops (the ugly ones that my mother-in-law calls baking pork chops)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon butter (or Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend sticks)
1 tablespoon olive oil

4 large apples use what you like
1 tablespoon butter (or Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend sticks)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
big pinch nutmeg
big pinch all spice

1. Combine flour, seasoned salt, pepper and garlic powder on a plate. Dredge pork chops in flour on both sides and shake off excess. Set aside.

2. Heat oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops to skillet and brown on both sides until crispy.

3. Place pork chops in a 9X13 inch glass baking dish. Blot off excess oil with a paper towel.

4. Peel, core and chop, slice or cube apples (whichever you prefer). Place in 9X13 inch dish on top of and around pork chops.

5. Dice the remaining Tablespoon of butter and combine with brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and all spice to form large crumbs. Sprinkle on top of apples.

6. Cover the 9X13 inch pan with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until pork chops are fully cooked and apples are soft.

Now a side note: I have been using the Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend sticks that I got for nearly free a few weeks ago exclusively since then. My husband is a butter fiend and he hasn't noticed. I have used them for toast, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, in baking and in this recipe. I highly recommend this product and will continue to buy it. Smart Balance doesn't know who I am or that I am writing this. I just like to share products that I love. :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In honor of the first day of Fall

my first soup recipe of the season. Tonight I made Cheesy Ham & Potato soup using ingredients that I had in my pantry and fridge/freezer. It was absolutely delicious but I need to figure out how to keep the potatoes from getting so mushy they fall apart. If you have any suggestions leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you! I am sharing this recipe because even with crumbly potatoes it was so yummy!

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

4 cups chicken stock (I use homemade)
1 cup water
4-5 medium potatoes
1/2 of a ham steak (packaged slice of ham)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can of milk
shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat the chicken stock and water over medium-high heat to boiling. Add garlic powder, onion powder and paprika to stock. If you use low sodium stock you may need to add salt or you can adjust the seasonings in the end. While the stock is heating dice the potatoes. Add to the stock and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.

2. Add the cheddar cheese soup and milk. Cook until warmed through. Serve sprinkled with cheddar cheese.

I hope you make this and enjoy!

I calculated in my head how much this cost for 6 servings and it is around $4.00 so if you can get the ingredients on sale you have a very comforting and thrifty meal.

Drop what you are doing and go sign up for Vocalpoint

Let's talk about Vocalpoint today. I joined a few months ago after seeing posts about it on several of my favorite blogs and websites and really loved the idea of it. Vocalpoint sends out samples, high value coupons (sometimes even free item!) for you and also really great coupons for you to share. I love being a member of Vocalpoint because I have had the opportunity to try several really great products.

One of my favorites recently is Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal. My husband is anti-health food so I got him to try it and he LOVED it. He thinks it tastes like Captain Crunch. It is slightly sweet and crunchy and is also great for snacking on dry. I have loved handing out the coupons for that product for my friends and family to try because I know that I'm not only giving them the opportunity to try something really great, but that it is also good for them.

I highly encourage all of you to go to and sign up for this great site. The only thing that they ask of you is to pass on the coupons and to review the products on their site. I haven't been that great about reviewing the products on the site as I tend to be much more likely to tell everyone I know in real life when I like something but look for more product reviews on this site and I am going to try really hard to post more directly to the Vocalpoint website.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Got a great Target coupon book in the mail today

I just got home from a great trip to Publix (more details later) and opened my mailbox to find a great coupon book from Target. All of the coupons expire 11/02/2009.

The book says Savor the Moment. Seize the Coupons. Here is what is inside:

$.75 off Tide laundry detergent (excludes trial size)
$.50 off Clorox bleach
$1.00 off Cottonelle (Bath tissue or flushable wipes)
$1.00 off Bounty paper towels
$1.50 off with the purchase of two Crest toothpastes (excludes trial size)
$1.00 off Dial (Bar soap or Body wash- excludes trial sizes)
$1.00 off with the purchase of two deodorants (Secret or Old Spice- excludes trial sizes)
$1.00 off with the purchase of two feminine care products (Always or Tampax-excludes trial sizes)
$.50 off Ziploc (bags or containers)
$1.00 off Swiffer (starter kit or refills)
$1.00 off 35-ct or larger Clorox disinfecting wipes
$1.00 off Right Guard deodorant (excludes trial sizes
$1.00 off multipack Extra gum
$1.00 off with purchase of two Ore-Ida frozen potatoes
$.50 off Kellogg's (cereal or Pop-Tarts)
$1.00 off Nestle Halloween bulk candy (shows large packages and note that it doesn't expire until after Halloween so you can wait until it goes on clearance!)
$1.00 off with purchase of two Suave hair care products (excludes trial sizes)
$1.00 off Neutrogena facial product (excludes trial sizes)
$1.00 off Iams (dry dog food or dry cat food)
$2.00 off 21-lb or larger Fresh Step scoopable cat litter
$2.00 off Purina ONE dry dog food
$1.00 off Purina ONE dry cat food
$1.00 off Purina dog treats
$1.00 off 13- or 30-oz Purina ONE wet dog food
$1.00 off Oral care product (1-liter or larger Listerine or Reach Total Care toothbrush or Reach Total Care floss-excludes trial sizes)
$1.00 off Hanes apparel (socks or underwear)
$1.00 off 6-ct or larger Market Pantry (Granola or cereal bars)
$1.00 off with purchase of two 8-oz or larger Archer Farms trail mixes
$1.00 off with purchase of three 8-oz. or larger Archer Farms chips
$1.00 off with purchase of two 64-oz Market Pantry juice drinks
$.75 off 11.25-oz or larger Market Pantry cereal
$.50 off Archer Farms salsa

I will do a little digging and see if I can figure out how I got this so that maybe you can get one too!

Did you get anything fun in the mailbox today? Leave me a comment and let me know!

September 21, 1989

Twenty years ago today in a tiny town in South Carolina a young girl looked out of the window at her grandparent's house across the land that she loved and watched as a terrible storm swept through the countryside. What she saw that night was only a tiny fraction of the impact that Hurricane Hugo would have on her state. As she ate pumpkin pie and watched Doogie Howser, M.D., the monster, as she would hear it called, was ripping apart homes, destroying landmarks and eroding the beaches that she loved.

She would get home a few days later and see that the fence in her yard had been knocked down, tree branches littered the yard and things just generally looked amiss. When she would exclaim "oh no the fence is down" her mother would remind her "be thankful that it was only the fence, some lost all."

Today this woman remembers those that lost all. Where is this woman twenty years later? She still lives in the Midlands of South Carolina, the land that she loves so much that it is a part of her. She is on constant alert during Hurricane season because she knows how much destruction one "storm" can cause. The mere sound of thunder leaves her with the desire to hide under her desk until it is all over. I carry this with me but I also carry a sense of gratitude that my family and loved ones escaped most of the harm of the storm.

I mourn for the lives lost, the families that lost everything that they had and for the historical monuments and artifacts that were lost in the storm that can never be replaced.

That is my Hugo story, most South Carolinians that lived here during that time have one. I invite you to share yours, if you are so inclined.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A great HomeGoods giveaway

Amy from Cheeky Monkey Play is giving away a $100.00 HomeGoods giftcard! Go to her website at: and enter to win!

Good luck to you all!
The Diva

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers Sweet Hickory BBQ Chicken Product Review

Disclaimer: Healthy Choice has never heard of me. This is an unsolicited and unpaid review of a product that I had never tried, is fairly new and have not seen a review of. This is my opinion, hopefully Healthy Choice won't mind.

There is a great coupon out there right now (link below) to save $2.00 off a Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers. I bought 2 at Publix on Sunday. They were priced at 2/$5 ($2.50 each) so after my coupons I paid only $.50 each! Now that is what I call a cheap lunch!

I was in a hurry this morning so I didn't take the time to pack my lunch like I normally do and it was very convenient having this in my pantry to fall back on.

Here is what the front of the package looks like:
Apparantly I'm an idiot. I tried to upload a picture but it didn't work. I'll have hubby help me later. Picture to come!

The instructions call to add water to the rice at the bottom of the container and to steam in the microwave with the specially made top for 5 minutes. You then let it sit for one minute and then combine with the meat, veggie & sauce container that also comes in the package. You have the option of microwaving the meat, veggie & sauce container for 30 seconds. I chose to as I did not think that it would be very appetizing at room temperature.

Now here's what I think about it now that you have the background info: Was this gourmet? Absolutely not. Was it easy? You betcha. Was it satisfying? Yes. Was it as good as I can make at home? Oh no. Was I at home to make it? Nope. In other words, I wouldn't pull this out of the pantry for dinner one night just because I was feeling lazy, but for lunch on a lazy day it serves its purpose. It is good enough and worlds better than those nasty Ronzoni pasta pouches. Do not try those... I couldn't even finish the one I tried a few months ago and instead preferred just to go without lunch that day.

Here's a look at the nutritional information:

Not bad overall for this type of product. I would really like to see them do something with brown rice, but I understand that may be hard to do in a product like this where it is steamed in the microwave and time is of the essence. I certainly wouldn't want to wait half of my lunch break for my food to finish microwaving so I understand if they are unable to do so, but it would still be nice to have that option. :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The deals as I see them

I got my ads a day early this week so I'll share the potential really good deals as I look through them.

Piggly Wiggly (yes, that is the name):

Boston Butt Pork Roast $0.89/lb.
Ribeye Steak $4.99/lb.
Country Style Pork Ribs B1G1 (around $1.49/lb)
Boneless Chicken Breasts $1.99/lb
3 lb. bag of apples $1.99 (Gala, Gold or Red Delicious)
Loose Russet Potatoes $0.59/lb.
10 lb. bag Russet Potatoes $3.99
Kraft BBQ sauce 5/$5 (or $1/ea)

Food Lion:

Split Chicken Breasts $0.97/lb.
New York Strip Steak $4.99/lb.
50% off Smithfield Center Cut Ham Slices ($2.50/lb. after % off)
Country Style Pork Ribs $1.49/lb.
Chips Ahoy B1G1
Ground Turkey 20 ounce package $1.99 ($1.59/lb ish)
1 lb. package strawberries 2/$5 ($2.50/ea)
Buy One pound of Sara Lee Turkey get 1/2 pound of Sara Lee cheese for free (turkey costs $6.99/lb. after free cheese they each cost $4.66/lb.)

I am sure that there will be some more deals once coupons are figured into the scenarios.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It has been more than a year

I am a slacker. What can I say. I got busy and a day turned into a week then a month and now it has been more than a year. I have no doubt that I have disappeared from any google reader that I may have once appeared on, but I promise I'll be back and better than ever. I am going to have hubby teach me to put pictures in this thing. Also, this blog will reflect all of my interests, which now includes saving hundreds of dollars a month at the grocery store using coupons! I am going to post my shopping trips and tell you what coupons that I used to get those deals. Today I made two trips to Publix (one for me & one for mom) and I spent a total of $21.00 for over $110 worth of groceries. That is pretty significant savings.

I hope to be able to link to a few other sites where I get a lot of my information. I will be asking those blog authoresses in the next couple of days.

Here's to the future,
The Diva