Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfast:
Cheerios, lots and lots of Cheerios, thanks to a great deal this week at Kmart, plus coupons

Lunch snacks:
Banana Bread
Almond Poppy Muffins (never made them last week)

Dinner:
Monday: Vegetarian Lasagna
Tuesday: Veggie Lasagna leftovers
Wednesday: Cottage Pie with Leeks
Thursday: Cottage Pie Leftovers
Friday: BLTs on homemade bread
Saturday: Vegetable Soup, Beer Bread
Sunday: Pasta and Meatballs with Uncle Angelo's Sauce (this is a family recipe)

More menu plans? Click here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Deals

Slickdeals posted a deal for Pottery Barn Kids, which is usually quite pricey. Seasonal Christmas and Halloween merchandise is heavily discounted, and many items have free shipping. I got J a Pumpkin Costume for next year for $11.99 plus free shipping. I got a costume that wasn't too gendered, so it could be used for any future (if any) children. It won't ship until July, though! Amazon.com has baby costumes heavily discounted, but none for toddler or older children.

You can also get a free movie from the McDonald's Redbox. This was posted on the Free Stuff Times.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homemade Calzones and Apple Pie


My little helper tonight, getting out the mixing bowl. "Cook Mommy?", he says.


Four pieces of pizza dough, ready to be made into calzones.


One piece of dough, roughly flattened by hand into a square shape. I'd say it was about 7 inches long. It only took a few tablespoons of veggies plus cheese to stuff.


My pale but yummy calzones, baking on our pizza stone.

The piece de resistance- the best apple pie I have ever eaten. My husband ate half of this pie within a half hour of baking.


I planned on making homemade pizza again for dinner tonight, but decided to break out of my weekend rut and try something different with the pizza dough. My husband loves calzones, and I wanted to avoid paying for eating out. This post was my inspiration.

I used the same basic bread machine pizza dough I've made for years. For this recipe, I made about 1.5 lbs. of dough, and divided it into 4 pieces. After dividing, I let the pieces rise for another 45 minutes or so. I flattened them by hand into a square, brushed the inside with olive oil, then stuffed them with onion, tomato, green olive, turkey pepperoni, garlic, and a 5-cheese mixture. I brushed the tops with olive oil, though it must not have been enough, because my calzones turned out pale instead of golden. They were still quite yummy, though! We dipped ours in a jarred spaghetti sauce. I had two balls of dough leftover, and plan on using them tomorrow. I'll keep them in the fridge, and then take them out and let them come to room temperature before using them.

My guesstimate is that our calzones cost less than a dollar each to make.

I had a couple of ready-made pie crusts in the fridge that really needed using by this weekend, and found a bag of organic granny smith apples that had been really marked down, so I decided to try making an apple pie. I searched the internet for a great recipe, and found this one for Grandma Ople's Apple Pie on allrecipes.com. I did make a few changes that were suggested in the comments.

I can't imagine eating an apple pie that didn't have cinnamon in it, so I added 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1TB of vanilla to the syrup mixture that I made on the stovetop. I mixed the apples and the syrup mixture together in a bowl before dumping the coated apples into the pie shell. I cut the top crust into strips to make a lattice shape, then brushed the leftover syrup mixture from the mixing bowl on top of the lattice.

This pie was fantastic- and the syrup mixture on top gave it a wonderful golden, cinnamony glow. I will absolutely make it again.

I am happy to say I mostly stayed within my food budget this week. It was $73 this week, but I bought dishwasher detergent and a fancy glass de-streaker to add to the dishwasher load. They were probably about $7 total. Our glasses are getting a film on them, despite our use of a water softener, and it grosses me out. I tried vinegar and it didn't work- so on to stronger things. I used it last night, and I'd say it worked by 50%, and probably will de-film them with another run.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blueberries Galore

Scrumptious Blueberry Muffins

Buckwheat Blueberry Waffles


I am pleased to say that I have stayed within a $65 grocery budget for 3 weeks in a row. I'd like to squeak it down to $60/week, and I am nearly there!

I discovered that my son's almond milk is cheaper in the refrigerated section of the grocery store- $3.56 per half-gallon instead of $4.99 in the aseptic carton (when it's not on sale). I've been getting a $1.50 off one half-gallon at the checkout the past three weeks, which helps.

Getting variety into my son's diet, while keeping the lunch-preparation time to a minimum, has been a challenge. I have been packing a Kashi cereal bar as a snack most days. It's easy to grab, tastes good to him, and has whole grains. Unfortunately, it's almost $4 for 6 bars. I've been experimenting with packing a home-baked but healthy goodie instead, including banana bread, pumpkin muffins, cinnamon muffins, and today's experiment, whole wheat blueberry muffins.

For the Blueberry Muffins, I used this recipe, but added two medium eggs (my son does not have an egg allergy), used plain almond milk, one cup wheat and one cup white flour, dairy-free Willow Run margarine, and frozen blueberries (much more economical when out of season). I think the light lemony flavor from the lemon juice and zest, plus the teensy sprinkling of sugar atop the muffins before baking, made all the difference. These muffins were fantastic. I don't care for the flavor of almond milk, but I can't taste it in these muffins. I will absolutely make them again! As it is, my husband engulfed 5 muffins within an hour of leaving the oven.

Since blueberries are so popular with The Boy, I generally have been sending a blueberry waffle with him for breakfast, plus unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon. Kashi waffles have more whole grain, but are pricey as hell. I finally decided to invest in a waffle iron, since a waffle has been the favored breakfast item on a daily basis. I waited until it was on sale, used a 20% off coupon, and bought it for $35. Using a buckwheat pancake mix, I can make 4 large waffles with added frozen blueberries in less than 10 minutes. I've been keeping them in the fridge and lightly toasting them in the mornings. So far, there have been no complaints from the toddler. I was spending $3.50-$4 a week for 6 waffles. I can get Hodgson Mills Buckwheat Pancake Mix for $3.30/box (about 5 serving for waffles), and a pound of frozen blueberries for about $4. I'd guess it costs maybe $2 for 7 waffles per week. Yes, I could probably buy cheap store-brand waffles for less- but these are far superior nutritionally.

Once I'm out of the current mix, I plan on experimenting with making my own whole-grain pancake mix for less.

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfasts

Sunday- Cheerios with Banana
M-F-
Oatmeal with Raisins and Walnuts for me, Blueberry Buckwheat Waffles for my son
Saturday- Almond Poppy Muffins

Toddler Lunches

Blueberry Muffin, Strawberries, Whole Wheat Crackers with Sunflower Butter
Soy Dog with Ketchup, Carrot Coins, Raspberries, Blueberry Muffin
Soy Dog with Ketchup, Carrot Coins, Raspberries, Blueberry Muffin
Sunflower Butter and Strawberry Jelly sandwich, Corn, Strawberries
Falafel, Corn, Tomato, Cinnamon Muffin, Strawberries
Kielbasa, Potato Salad, Peas, apple slices
Soy Yogurt, Toast with Sunflower Butter, Banana

Dinners

Slow Cooker Chili and Blueberry Muffins
Sausage Mushroom Brunch Casserole
Leftover Brunch Casserole
Slow Cooker Falafel with tomato and peppers
Turkey Kielbasa, Slow Cooker German Potato Salad, and Slow Cooker Red Cabbage Kraut (from Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery book)
Leftover Kraut, Kielbasa, and Potato Salad
Homemade Pizza with bread machine pizza dough- tomato, onion, and peppers for topping

More menu-planning loveliness here.