Tuesday, November 29

It's GIVE AWAY time!

It is time for Another GIVE AWAY!
Since April 30th {when I started keeping record} I have saved $1,000 using manufacturer's coupons! That is an average savings of $143 per month! To celebrate, I am passing some savings onto you. I will be giving away a gift card/s to a few of my Favorite stores!

1. You must be a follower of this blog to be entered to win the prize. You can sign up to follow anytime from now until the prize drawing. So, sign up if you haven't already. {By "following" you are not signing up for mass emails, annoying solicitations or anything of the sort. "Following" just allows me to know a first and last name of who comments and who my general audience is etc.}
2. Please vote on the polls in the right side bar of how YOU would like this Give away to go!!! {Fun, huh? If one $20 gift card wins the poll it will be to the store that also receives the most votes in the poll. If two $10 gift cards is the top pick it will be to the top two stores that receive the most votes etc.}
3. COMMENT on THIS post that you voted, would like to be entered to win etc. {When you comment please be sure that your first & last name appear! I know LOTS of Ashelys, Jens, Megans etc.}
4.Any previous winners can not win again! {Sorry Rach-but you can still vote}
5. Winner/s will be picked from on Tuesday, December 6th w/ polls closing at 11:59 PM on the 5th.
Good Luck & Happy Couponing!

Monday, November 28

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: Low 40's but Sunny :)

Things that make me happy: A happy husband

Book I'm reading: Chazown

What's on TV today: Morning News

On the menu for dinner: I'm not exactly sure. After being gone since Wednesday but not heading to the store until tomorrow-It's going to be slim pickins around here...

On my To Do list:
1. Unpack, laundry, dishes & weekly bills
2. Make a grocery list & organize coupons to go shopping tomorrow
3. Plan/Organize my next GIVE AWAY here since I reached my $1,000 goal using coupons.
4. Decorate more for Christ's birthday!

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Beef & Butternut Squash Stew I made this a few years ago and Ken loved it. This time I am going to try it w/ lamb!

Looking forward to this week: A pretty slow week here at home

Tips & Tricks: Try "Couponing"- it works!!!

No Words Needed:

On my mind: Ken's Christmas present! Most years I have a hard time thinking of a good gift for him--This year I have too many ideas & I have to decide what he would like/want the most...

In the craft basket (B/c I don't do crafts- This question will usually be involving food): I need to make more yogurt and puree butternut squash and freeze.  

Devotionals, versus etc.: From my Proverbs 31 daily devotional:
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

Wednesday, November 23

Another GIVE AWAY Coming!

The time is Almost here for my second GIVE AWAY! I am $6 away from reaching my $1,000 Saved by using manufactures coupons. {This is NOT including price matching, Caterpillar 15% discount, store coupons or sales} I know after my Black Friday shopping adventure I will have reached my goal!!!

The winner of this give away Must be a follower of this blog! The last giveaway I hosted I had just first names of people entered for the drawing and I did not know who they were.

So, please sign up to Follow and the Give Away will happen just after the Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 22

A Christmas Tradition

When Ken & I celebrated our 1st Christmas together we started the tradition of a fondue dinner while we put up our tree. We have always done this the first weekend in December. For some reason Ken started asking "Hey, when do we put up our tree?" or "I think we should put our tree up early this year!" I'm certain he just wanted fondue :) In years past it was more elaborate- a high quality cheese & wine fondue, crab legs on the side and a chocolate fondue w/ all sorts of dippers. This year I kept it a lil more simple but just as tasty and it was even more fun w/ MaeMae.

Marinara fondue w/ meatballs, fresh mozzarella balls and bread as dippers.

MaeMae didn't quite know how to fondue. She ended up asking for a spoon and ate it like soup!
Who doesn't LOVE bubble wrap?

Haha, Ken & Kenny Jr.
Putting up her "Baby's first ornament"

Angel w/ Dad

She loves all the "balls" on the tree
All the previous pictures are cute but, Haha, this is real life!

Forcing Bailey into the Christmas spirit

Chocolate fondue time! A tart raspberry!

Ut, oh. Getting goofy!

Isn't she a lil doll?

Cracking up w/ Dad

Fondue fun is over---until next year.

Monday, November 21

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: Cloudy but a high of 51-Hopefully, MaeMae & I can get outside to play.

Things that make me happy: Christmas traditions like having fondue the night we put up our tree.

Book I'm reading: Chazown

What's on TV today: Nothing right now. But soon I'll have Food Network on b/c they are talking all about Thanksgiving :)

On the menu for dinner: Chicken & Dumplings again b/c I am taking some to a friend that just had twins! I'm making a huge batch & keeping some for us :) I did the exact same thing last Monday for a different friend that had a baby!

On my To Do list: Ahhhh, TOO Much!
1. Laundry, mop floors, lots of dishes & weekly bills
2. Make dinner for a friend & take it to her
3. Pick out outfits for family pictures on Saturday
4. Go toTarget to get some PRE Black Friday deals

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Ok, so it's not really a recipe. But Tastefully Simple's Almond pound cake was delicious. We used it last night for fondue & YUMMMM!

Looking forward to this week: Seriously, do I need to answer that? How about Too much food, family, friends & black Friday shopping :)

Tips & Tricks: I can't think of anything...

No words needed:

On my mind: Black Friday shopping-Making lists, looking at ads, planing my attack! 

In the craft basket (B/c I don't do crafts- This question will usually be involving food): I don't think I'll get anything extra in this week!

Devotionals, versus etc.: Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.  ~Native American Saying

Tuesday, November 15

Jalapeno Mini Muffins Win!

This week there was a three way tie between mini corn bread muffins, Mexican casserole and homemade pumpkin pie. The last tie we had I posted 2 of the recipes {Harvest soup & yeast rolls} but this week the 3 didn't really work together so I just picked :) I decided the mini corn bread muffins would go great with our chicken n dumplings for dinner. I altered this recipe to get them to 1 WW point per muffin. Substituting vegetable oil w/ applesauce is a great way to cut some fat but the end result is usually not as moist/tender. I've done it in quick breads, brownies and now corn bread! Try it and see what you think!

Jalapeno Mini Muffins
3/4 c. corn meal
1 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 jalapeno peppers, minced {I used 1 jalapeno and 1 Serrano}
1 c. skim milk
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce {Natural is what it is usually called in stores}
1 egg, beaten

-In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the peppers.
-In a glass measuring cup combine the milk, applesauce and beaten egg.
-Add liquid mixture to dry and mix just until incorporated.
-Grease a 24 mini muffin pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until muffins start to brown.

1 WW point when made into 24 mini muffins but 3 WW points if made into 12 muffins!

Monday, November 14

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: Perfect, 63!

Things that make me happy: Apple Cranberry pie...

Book I'm reading: Chazown

What's on TV today: Ah, nothing! Silence! Shhh

On the menu for dinner: Chicken N Dumplings & jalapeno mini corn muffins

On my To Do list:
1. Go to Morton- meet w/ fellow couponers to plan our Mom's Life talk scheduled in December.
2. Ekk, laundry!
3. Pay bills
4. Make snacks for Mom's Life tomorrow
5. Call several places for tire prices

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:
Lamb & Barley soup from All You-September 2011

Looking forward to this week: Mom's Life meeting on Tuesday

Tips & Tricks: I need "Tips & Tricks" to get my daughter to sleep past 5:45am. This is getting very tiring :(

No words needed:

On my mind: Thankful at all we accomplished this weekend. Phew!

In the craft basket (B/c I don't do crafts- This question will usually be involving food): Make homemade granola

Devotionals, versus etc.: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." -Colossians 3:23

Friday, November 11

Friday's Freezer Friendly Food- Pumpkin Puree

Did I mention that we finally got our new freezer?!?! We opted to pay a little extra and get a bigger one! So now it's time to fill it :)

Pumpkin Puree
-Start w/ as many pie pumpkins that you can get your hands on:
-Since I didn't have the muscles to cut through a raw whole pumpkin, I stuck 2 whole pumpkins on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degree for 1.5 hours.
-Then I was able to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, cover tightly w/ foil (skin side down) and put it back in the oven for another hour-hour and half.
-Then the meat was tender enough to scoop into my blender to puree.
- The sizes of my pumpkins varied, one I had to cook an extra hour b/c it wasn't getting soft.
-Put it in a colander to drain off excess liquid.
-Allow to cool completely!!!
-Transfer to Ziploc bags or containers (In 2 c. quantities)

12 cups + the 3.5 that I used for the "Butternut Squash" Lasagna

One of my Favorite pumpkin recipes:
Spiced cookies w Pumpkin dip

Thursday, November 10

Drivin' my grocery cart like a maniac

My next giveaway will be Soon, because of my adventurous shopping trip Tuesday! I promised when I reached $1,000 in COUPON savings alone I would host another giveaway. {This is not including price matching at Wal-Mart, 15% Caterpillar discount, Walgreen's store coupons or any store's sales. I would certainly have been over $1,000 saved by now} This winner MUST be a follower of my blog. So please sign up to follow and wait for more information.

My "adventurous" trip was actually not extreme. I did not clear the shelves by buying 20+ of an item. You would never call me an "Extreme Couponer". But this trip was more than I usually plan for 1 day. 3 stores and the bank. Also, I had planned to spend $100 even after coupons and sales, which is more than I spend on our weekly groceries. So many items were at very low prices that I wanted to stock up for later use. It makes so much more sense to buy at a super cheap price and store it than waiting until I am out of an item and it's back to regular price. 

 I only had Tuesday to get all my errands done, so I decided to cram it all in!

I said a quick prayer and was on my way....

MaeMae was a doll baby! I packed her a snack and gave her my attention when she wanted to point out every single baby that zoomed by in shopping carts. I tried to entertain her by being silly and driving our cart like a maniac. {Yes, I got some looks...}

Every coupon worked correctly-That usually doesn't happen!

I got friendly, helpful cashiers-Strange occurrence!

Every single item and the number I needed was in stock at ALL 3 stores-Now that's amazing!

All of THIS went into my stock pile. {My regular weekly groceries are not pictured} I spent about $25-$30 on all this. 
-Organic chicken breasts for  less than $1 per breast!!!
-Smart Ones frozen meals for .95 each!!!
-Cheese It crackers for $1.01 each!!! {Thanks, Meg}
-Cheerios for FREE
-Annie's mac n cheese for .19 a box!!!
-Sugar for .34 per pound

Ok, I'll stop but as you can see I scored some great deals! :)

P.S.--On December 20th myself & 3 other woman will be giving a FREE "Tips & Tricks" session at a Mom's Group in Morton. Contact me for more information.

Wednesday, November 9

Butternut Squash Lasagna Wins!

If you like butternut squash I promise you'll like this recipe. I got the idea for this lasagna from Giada; one of my Food Network favorites! But I changed it up and made it little more healthy! It's a fabulous fall recipe.

It kind of fell over b/c I served it immediately. Also, I used pumpkin. Butternut squash will give it a more bright, vibrate orange color!

Butternut Squash Lasagna
9 Lasagna noodles or (12 No Bake noodles)
1 medium/ large butternut squash, pureed (about 3 1/2 c.) {I actually used pumpkin this time b/c I had a plethora of it. 1st time using pumpkin= It wasn't as sweet and didn't provide the bright orange color that Butternut. squash does)
1/4 c. olive oil or butter
1/4 c. flour
3 c. milk (I use 1 1/2 c. skim & 1 1/2 c. whole)
Fresh nutmeg, divided
S&P to taste, divided
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. dried parsley, divided
2 tsp. dried basil
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 c. frozen spinach, thawed (2- 21/2 c. if using fresh)
1 1/2 c. shredded part skim mozzarella

-Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.
- In a large sauce pan over medium/high heat add oil and flour. (if using butter, allow to melt before adding flour) Cook until it bubbles and starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Gradually, whisk in the milk. Continue to whisk until flour mixture dissolves in milk and no chunks remain. Bring to a slight simmer, stirring almost constantly so it doesn't burn.
-As it starts to thicken, add fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, 1 Tbsp. parsley, 2 tsp. basil and garlic clove. Cook about 3-5 minutes and turn off heat.
-Meanwhile, to your pureed butternut squash add: fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. parsley.
-Assemble lasagna in 3 layers in your favorite baking dish, spray w/ cooking spray: 3 noodles, 1/3 of butternut squash puree, 1/3 of spinach, 1/3 of white sauce then 1/3 of shredded cheese.
-Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
-Allow to sit 10 minutes. (I served mine immediately and it fell a little bit)

Nutritional Info: Makes 12 servings. 1 serving equals 5 WW points

Monday, November 7

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: Rainy- High of 62 (Praying it doesn't rain-I have outside chores to finish)

Things that make me happy: Weekends w/ Ken & Mae

Book I'm reading: Chazown

What's on TV today: Nothing just silence. I'll turn on the news soon.

On the menu for dinner: Leftover beef barley soup

On my To Do list:
1. Finish raking leaves
2. Clean out Ken's garage b/c God answers prayer & had someone approach us about renting it out for the winter!
3. Laundry (Have you noticed this is on my To Do list every Monday? That's b/c I slake all weekend and have to play catch on Mondays)

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Cream of Zucchini soup from Skinny Taste. Check her out- she's amazing! I am going to use this zucchini! 

Looking forward to this week: Ummm, the weekend. Ha!

Tips & Tricks: Thank a Veteran

No words needed:

On my mind: Christmas again-I've been making lists, putting money aside & getting in the spirit.

In the craft basket (B/c I don't do crafts- This question will usually be involving food): Finish roasting the last of my pumpkins and write a "Friday's Freezer Friendly Food" post about it.
AND can the last of my tomatoes! Hoping to get 7 pints!

Devotionals, versus etc.: "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." ~Elmer Davis
To my courageous Veterans~ Thank you!

Tuesday, November 1

Harvest soup & Yeast rolls Win this week!

I had a three way tie between the recipes this week: Harvest soup, yeast rolls and apple cranberry pie. What a delicious meal, huh? I decided to make the first two but skip the apple pie since we had so much Halloween candy in the house. So this week its a 2 for 1 deal:

I made this on Halloween. Perfectly fitting :)
 This soup is called Harvest soup b/c you're suppose to use produce from your "harvest"! I usually use cauliflower but didn't have any so I used parsnips. Also, I actually used a banana squash instead of butternut-a first in this soup! I also don't usually add zucchini. But I had several and wanted to use them- it was perfect in this soup.

Harvest Soup:
1 medium butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 c. milk (may need another 1/2 c. at the end to get a thinner consistency)
2 medium red potatoes, cubed (leave peel on!!!)
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 bay leave
1 clove of garlic, smashed
S & P to taste
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
dash of cayenne
grated fresh nutmeg
1/2 c. rice
Garnish with any of the following: homemade croutons (I used pumpernickle bread), roasted tomatoes (slice tomatos, arrange on wire rack over cookies sheet, sprinkle w salt, drizzle w olive oil, bake at 350 for 20 minutes), dried cranberries, and/or shredded cheese (like Gouda or Swiss)

-Preheat oven to 350. Rub outside of both squashes w/ oil & put on a cookie sheet. Bake for 1.5 hours.
-Melt butter in a large stock pot. Add onion and cook until onion is translucent. Meanwhile, cut squash, scoop out seeds and then the "meat".
-Add broth, milk, all the vegetables (including soft squash) and bay leaf.
-Bring to a simmer and allow to cook down for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
-Find bay leave and discard! Puree soup w/ an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender and puree.
-Add back to large stock pot, add seasonings and bring to a simmer. Add rice and keep at a simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
-Taste and adjust seasonings. Add aditional 1/2 c. milk if soup is too thick.
-Garnish and Eat!

Yeast Rolls:
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast (1 envelope)

1 tsp. + 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. warm water (115 degrees)
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. skim milk, warm (115 degrees)
1 egg
3/4 tsp. salt
4 c.  flour

1.Dissolve yeast, 1 tsp. sugar and warm water in a bowl. Add butter, milk, egg, salt & 1/3 c. sugar & 2 c. flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour 1/2 c. at a time. You may not use a total of 4 c.
2. Knead on a flour surface (works great in a Kitchen Aide) about 8 min. Place in a greased bowl, turning to get it all covered in oil. Cover and place in a super warm place. Let rise for about 1-1.5 hr or until doubled in size.
3.Press down dough, gently. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Using a pizza cutter divide into 12 portions. Fold dough over itself, pinching the bottom to form a roll/ball. Place in a greased 8x10 baking pan.
4. Cover and let rise another 30 min.
5. Bake at 350 for 10-12 min
6. Immediatley out of oven spread with butter and course salt

Before rising 1.5 hours

After rising

Before rising 30 minutes

After rising

Out of oven!