Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Zucchini Sauce

I saw a great idea for zucchini a while back.  The gal was suggesting a zucchini sauce similar to applesauce for use in baking as a vegetable oil substitute.  That sounded good to me because while I know applesauce is a great substitute I hate to use it in baking because one of my girls LOVES it and running out is traumatic. 

So I tried it in a crockpot.

It cooked down just fine, but I forgot about seeds!  Who wants seeds in their bread?  Or in their cupcakes?

Rather than trying to pick them all out I figured I'd run it through my grinder/strainer.  It works so well with my applesauce, after all.

 But no luck.  Very little actually made it through the strainer . . .

. . . And I was left with only 1 cup (two half-cup portions).
Overall I was super-disappointed.  Mostly because I had to wash up my KitchenAid and all it's attachments for a measly 1 cup of this sauce!

So it took me over a week to try it again.  This time I cored the zuchini to avoid the seeds and cooked it down on the stovetop.  I mashed it up with a potato masher.

This time 4 medium-sized zucchini made 4 cups of the sauce which I was much happier with.

And they bake up well!  We had some yummy cupcakes and bread that were just as moist as ever.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Menu Plan

It was so very helpful to have my menu planned last week!  I love when a few minutes of planning pays off well!

Monday - Spicy Chicken & Rice
Tuesday - Baked Pasta (didn't make last week)
Wednesday - Chicken Curry
Thursday - Taco Soup (prepare ahead, I'm out of town)
Friday - Easy Turkey Pot Pie (prepare ahead, I'm out of town)
Saturday - Mexican Dip (prepare ahead, I'm out of town)
Sunday - Mac & Cheese Pie (prepared already)

Monday - Grilled Cheese
Tuesday - Chicken Nuggets
Wednesday - Quesadilla
Thursday - Nachos
Friday - Annie's Shell's & Cheese (babysitter)
Saturday - Chicken Nuggets (Dad on duty)
Sunday - Leftovers/Nachos (Dad on duty)


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Shopping - $38.09

I've been trying to be conservative in my grocery spending because I think I've been going overboard lately with my overall spending.  But then I keep running into good deals . . .
I went to Fred Meyer to pick up bread, cucumbers and bell peppers for 3/$1.  I picked up a head of lettuce to supplement our slowing garden production and a bag of lettuce for a meal I'm delivering to a new mom this week.  Nuggets were on sale for $4.99 and I had a manufacturer's coupon for an additional $1.50 off along with a store coupon for $2 off frozen food.  I couldn't pass those up for $1.49.  Then we  checked the markdown bin.  I picked up:

5 cans of condensed veggie soup - $.49 each; a good emergency lunch
can of corn - $.49
4 cans of green beans - $.29 each
can of chicken broth - $.29
can of tomato sauce - $.29
2 large cans of tomatoes - $.69 each
our favorite bread was marked down to $.99
I let DD#1 pick a treat.  She went with the donuts for $1.19

Then DD#3 and I went out for a mommy-daughter date today and she chose a donut.   We went to the grocey store and ate at a deli table.  Then we checked the markdowns.

I love hummus and was delighted to find some for $1.99, especially since I have pita right now.
I picked up some yogurt for 3/$1 then spotted some sour cream cups for only $.39 each.  I was so very excited to see these for two reasons: 1) It's hard to find 8 oz. cups now that yogurts are 6 oz. 2) They have lids!  I love to freeze portions and the 8oz cup is perfect.  WE also picked up grapes which were on sale and bananas which we were out of.  Then we browsed the meat department and picked up these 13 oz. Isernio's chicken sausage packages for $1.99 each.  I bought all that they had because it was a great price on quality meat.   

All told I spent $15.40 at Fred Meyer and $22.69 at QFC for a total spending of $38.09.  We are trying out having our milk delivered and a friend is selling me eggs from her yard chickens so my goal is to keep my grocery store spending under $50.  This week I'm on track, but Albertsons had double coupons in the paper today so I may find some deals if I can keep it under my remaining $11.91 for the week!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Freezer Update

I had hoped to leave my freezer unplugged until August 15th and I almost made it.  I ended up plugging in on August 13th, the day before I picked up 30 pounds of blueberries because I wanted it nice and cold. 
I froze the berries in single layers and then filled gallon ziplocs with them.  That's the bottom shelf; all blueberries.  I had already picked raspberries and frozen them; see top right shelf in plastic boxes.  We had also been blackberry picking once and frozen those, too; see top left shelf in ziploc. 
The next shelf is full of zucchini sauce in old yogurt containers and some pork chops I picked up for $1.69/lb. 
The third shelf is shredded zucchini on the left, chicken nuggets in center (on sale last week) and six bags of organic frozen sweet potato sautee I bought on clearance to use at our twice monthly potluck.
The fourth shelf is 80 pounds of peeled, sliced, frozen peaches. 

It's nearly full already and it's only been 33 days!


Friday, September 14, 2012

August Update & September Goals

So I'm very late with the August update.  I don't have a good report so I wasn't too enthusiastic about posting!

We had major sickness, car issues, and travel in August and I was in survival mode.  Now we're in September and I'm trying to figure out how to make life worth with homeschool Kindergarten and First Grade.

1. We saved a little more for the Emergency Fund.  We crept up to 21.4% but there's some bad news.  Our family vehicle is about to die.  It's a 1995 Suburban with 227,000 miles on it.  There's a darn good chance our emergency fund will be used to buy a new vehicle before the end of the year which means we'll be starting all over.  Oh well.  I'll just keep at it and hope for the best. 

2. I used the dryer exclusively in August.  Seriously.  I didn't hang a single load of wash the entire gorgeous month.  This is also exclusively due to headlice.  I wanted the hottest possible wash and the hottest possible dry.  I wanted to eradicate those suckers, environment be damned! 

3. I did can 50 pounds of peaches and froze another 100.  I did it in batches over three days.  Now I'm on the lookout for affordable pears and apples.

4. I completely ignored ProjectTwentySix as I dealt with headlice, hand foot mouth, eye styes, travel,and getting ready for homeschool.  I'm hoping to start again ASAP and double up posts.  Truly I just want to be done with the project and focus on other things, like homeschooling well.

5. I didn't even keep a thankful list! 

I'm purposefully not aiming high for September.  It's already halfway over, after all.

September Goals:
1. Save Something for Emergency Fund.  This will be challenging as we just bought 6 airline tickets.
2. September is usually beautiful but I'm not planning to hang dry.  I just want to be absolutely sure those stubborn lice are gone and I'm going to continue to cook all of our linens.
3. Plan and execute an amazing birthday party for DD#1 who is turning 7.
4. Post at least 30 days' worth in ProjectTwentySix.  That's at least 2 a day, starting tomorrow so I better get crackin'.
5. Keep a thankful list for the remainder of the month.  I already put a paper up on the cupboard.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Garden Update

We got home after a ten day trip over Labor Day to find our garden blooming.  Our teenage babysitter came a few times to water for us and I'm sure that helped tremendously because temperatures had been so high.
Here are some beautiful tomatoes.

Here is a gorgeous bell pepper.  I waited a few days to pick it so it could grow a bit.  Unfortunately once I did pick it, DD#3 snatched it when I wasn't looking and delivered to the neighbors.  They shouted out their window to me in the garden saying, "Joanna was just here.  Thanks for the bell pepper."  I was pretty disappointed, but yay for making friends with the new neighbors.
These huge zucchini were waiting when we got home, too.  I made all of them in to a zucchini paste/sauce that I'll post about another time.

I picked these a few days after we got home.  The tomatoes were used in two dinners and about 4 cups were diced and frozen to use later in the year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Proverbs 12

My husband and I read a Bible verse this morning I wanted to share.

Proverbs 12:9 NASB - Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant than he who honors himself and lacks bread.

ESV - Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.

NIV - Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

KJV - [He that is] despised, and hath a servant, [is] better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

NKJV - Better [is the one] who is slighted but has a servant, Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.

Reading this verse reminded me that I don't need to appear great.  Choosing to spend less allows us to have more and help more than we would otherwise.  Trying to appear great has significant financial consequences we all would hope to avoid!  It was a good reminder for me as I've been on a bit of spending spree (granted, things we have waited a long time for and planned for) and want to be sure I don't get carried away buying things that are 'extra' to improve how the world looks at us.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grocery Markdowns

I went to Haggen last night to pick up organic carrots and tortillas which were both on sale.  I ended up buying more than I expected mostly due to excellent markdowns! 
You can see a few in the photo.  I got two cans of Campbell's Select Harvest soup for $.75 each, eight small cups of applesauce for $.10 each, two cans of green beans for $.25 each, and a can of organic tomato soup for $.79.

Then I went to QFC last night to pick up Annie's mac & cheese for $1.00/box because it was hte last day of the sale.  Again I found a markdown bonanza.

Mrs. Cubbison's Stuffing was $.89 per box and it has two packages in each box!  I like the instant stuffing for this one quick dinner the family loves and once in awhile I need a quick dinner.  Nancy's organic yogurt was $1.69 for the plain (only 1 left), and $2.49 for the vanilla.  Both excellent deals.  All those bananas were markdown to $.34/lb and the lunch meat was $1.49.  Pickles for $.89, 4 pack yogurt for $1.19, and cough medicine for $2.49 each after coupon rounded out my shopping trip. 

I've been seriously overspending on groceries and am in the process of making a plan to improve.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Menu Plan

Oh it's been about six weeks of insanity around here.  Without going into detail I'll just mention headlice, eye infection, hand foot mouth, house guests, car trouble, roadtrip to southern california with 4 kids, two bench seats and no air conditioning,  preserving raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and peaches, and finally, starting our homeschool year. 

This week I really need the menu plan for several reasons:

1) I'm really low on perishable groceries because not using the garage freezer and the inside freezer being filled with fruit instead of meat.  I REFUSE to pay full price for meat so we're making do.

2) My brother is here working on our slow remodel and another man at the table requires a little more planning.

3) Homeschool and church activities all start up this week so a plan will be super helpful.

So here's my plan:

Monday - Shells & Cheese, apples
Tuesday - Grilled cheese
Wednesday - Nachos
Thursday - Nuggets
Friday - Mac & Cheese pie
Saturday - Chicken Salad

Monday - Beef Stroganoff (one package of round steak in the freezer)
Tuesday - Spaghetti (1.5 pounds of ground beef in the freezer)
Wednesday - At Church
Thursday - French Toast & Bacon
Friday - at Bible Study (providing huge pot of chili for potluck)
Saturday - Baked Pasta
Sunday - Chicken/Veggie/Stuffing Casserole (Mom gone)

Here's to a smooth week!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

$5 for $10 at Starbucks

Living Social has a good deal today.  $5 for a printable $10 voucher at Starbucks.  Click here to view it.