Monday, March 16, 2009

Leftover French Bread

I love buying fresh french bread or baguettes at the grocery store - but it always seems that I don't eat it fast enough and I have to throw away 1/3 of it away. So in attempts to save money and use what I do buy I figured out a couple ways to use it up:

1. Homemade croutons - cut the bread into 1 in. cubes and spread out on a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, paprika and parsley. Place in a pre-heated broiler and broil about 5-7 minutes. Watch them, some ovens are stronger than others!! When lightly browned and crispy take out. Store in an air tight container for a couple weeks.

2. Garlic Bread - Since you have to toast up the bread anyway - why not.

3. French toast - a yummy treat

4. Soup Crouton - Toast each slice with some shredded cheese on top. Float on your lunch soup - the cheese toast will get warm and mushy on the bottom. Very yummy :)

To Coupon or Not to Coupon....

I myself have struggled with the notion whether to clip coupons or not to waste the time it takes. What it boils down to is a. how much time are you willing to spend looking and b. if you personally purchase brands that actually distribute coupons. In my current situation I beleive it's worth it and heres why; coupons have a bad rap. They are not for "cheapskates" and are not a pain to get a hold of - if you know where to go. Coupons have in the past been known to save you a ouple bucks at the grocery store, and honestly I get more savings out of them at my "miscellaneous" monthly shopping trips. This would include the trips to Target or Walmart for toothpaste, make-up remover, etc - on average I save about $10 each (monthly) trip to Target and about $5 each weekly trip to the grocery store. All in all thats about $30 a month, which could be a trip to the movies or Starbucks money or some beautiful new hair accessories for my little one from Miss Maddie....So where to go:

1. Subscribe to your local paper - for weekend service only. My area paper (Sacramento Bee) offers weekend service (Fri-Sun) for $.99 a week and the Sunday paper is full of coupons. To buy from the newspaper stand each week costs you $1.50 so it's worth it.

2. Register with your grocery store. Most grocery stores have websites with a member email service. My store (Raleys) send me weekly free printable coupons that include anything from $.50 off deli meat to a free bag of mini carrots. Plus stores have promotion sales too that give you early sale info - for instance my store every other month or so offer a $20 coupon if you spend $100 or more. I love this coupon and look for it constantly!! It's basically free $20 worth of check with your store's website

3. Online coupon sites. There are some sites out there who offer free printable coupons, it's finding the good ones that takes time - after that you can have them sent directly to your email inbox. Here are a few I like and use often:

4. Check your snail mail. I often throw away the junk advertisements every week, and then started looking through them to discover restaurant coupons! I keep the ones I actually will use (otherwise there is no point) such as Subway, Togo's, etc. for when we stop to pick up lunch to go on the weekends and such. And since weekends is where we tend to spend a lot of money, this is a way to keep budgeting even while on our way to the park!

These are the 4 main places I get my coupons and I have it down to a science now, so it really doesn't take too much time. Good luck coupon clippers!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mommy Steal - Hanes tank tops

I read about this in Lucky Magazine, and I know some of my friends buy these as well, and I'm sorry I just started buying them...Men's Hanes brand tank tops!! I'm in love! I usually buy the women's undershirts with built in bras or individual white tank tops say from Old Navy or Victoria's Secret to wear under sweaters or to layer - but they can get pricey, anywhere from $8-$20 per tank. I was just reading in Lucky about buying men's tanks in size medium and they are great. They come 5 per pack and only cost about $10! And as a tall woman (5'10") they are extra long which is an added bonus - plus they come in white, black and grey. I got mine at Walmart for $9.50 - a true steal.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recipe of the Week 3/3/09

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
I found this recipe from my all time favorite cookbook author - Ina Garten; The Barefoot Contessa. It sounds and looks fancy but it is super easy and affordable. I usually cut the recipe in half for my husband and I. Enjoy!


Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
3/4 pound linguine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Perfect Apple Martini

1 part vodka
2 parts Apple Pucker Liquor
1 part sweet n' sour mix

Shake ingredients in a shaker with ice (or stir in a pitcher with ice) and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry or thin apple slice. Delicious, and great for parties or happy hour without tasting too "alcohol-y". Enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cupcake Decorating

I adore cupcakes. I've been known to buy 1/2 a dozen and eat them all myself!! I also like making and decorating them for parties, get-togethers, holidays, etc. I have some great cupcake books (see "Who has time to read" section) but I saw this idea online and had to imitate it for Valentines. You basically take 4 different (but simple) decors, I chose pink sugar, multi-colored perils candy, red hots and multi colored confetti candy. I separated the cupcakes evenly, decorated and alternated them on the serving tray. I think they turned out really cute - low maintenance and low cost. Yum!

Switching up Side Dishes..

I have found a new (and easy!!) alternative to the ever popular potato side. Couscous! I love it. I buy the "Far East" brand, it is so easy - water, olive oil and the box contents and voila. A nutritious side dish in under 7 minutes. Gotta love that :) Look for it in the natural foods section at every grocery store.