Monday, February 10, 2014

Good News: I Saved Money on My Groceries!

I am feeling quite proud of myself. I planned ahead and left the grocery store with a week's worth (maybe more) of groceries for about $110. I spend anywhere from $50-80 when I stop in "just to get a few things." I didn't just get food either. I got out of there with a large container of laundry detergent and two bottles of Seventh Generation all-purpose cleaner.

All it took was looking at the sale paper and buying mostly what was on sale this week. I know, why have I not done this before? Who knows? I am certainly doing it now, though. If $110 sounds like a lot to you, shut up. Just kidding. Actually, please tell me your secret.

I was so pleased with my savings at the grocery store that I refused to stop and pick up dinner on the way home (I was in a time crunch yesterday, so this would have been reasonable). We had grilled cheese sandwiches with canned tomato soup for dinner instead. Trying to clean out the food in the pantry also. I started organizing it on Saturday. I'll post about that later.

Adapted from a post I saw on Honest Toddler's Facebook page.
I hope to begin doing some proper meal planning very soon so that I am not so frazzled about what to fix and also so that I can save money and not wind up with so much food in the pantry that is not going to get eaten before it expires. There is no reason I should have a pantry completely full of food when I go to the store like twice a week! Got to stop the impulse buying.

I've started a Pinterest board for meal planning, house cleaning charts, etc... to help me get started. It only has 30 pins so far but it's a start. Don't you just love Pinterest? Next to shopping, it is the best way to feel accomplished with out really doing anything that constructive ;)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pasta with Pecan and Broccoli Pesto





Pecan and Broccoli Pesto? Yes, and it was quite tasty!

Following all the Christmas food this week, I was craving Chinese food. Then I was sick of that tonight and wasn't feeling well enough to go grocery shopping, so I had to come up with something to make out of what we had available at home. I knew I was going to make some type of pasta dish, and I didn't have much meat available to use (I found out after I started cooking that we had bacon...I'll use that tomorrow).

We have lots of pecans right now, so that I was going to put those in there somehow, and we have lots of frozen broccoli. I had one lemon left, plenty of cheese, and some pasta.  I did my usual scanning over recipes online with some of these ingredients and came up with the pesto.  Since I didn't use a whole lot of broccoli, we weren't really able to tell it was there.  I roasted the pecans before adding them to the pesto mixture, and the nuttiness of the dish was divine and very filling.  Whole wheat pasta of some sort would have paired nicely, but I was all out of it.  The bucatini I used is like a thick spaghetti with a hole through the middle. It is the closest thing I've found to Pici, a traditional Tuscan pasta, while grocery shopping.

I had a few frozen shrimp left (pre-cooked...I should really pay more attention to labels these days), so I heated some butter in a pan and tossed the thawed, pre-cooked shrimp for a minute or so and served those with the pasta. The sweetness of the shrimp went nicely with the nutty pasta. This dish may seem a little complicated, but it came together rather quickly. My husband approved; however, my two-year-old son wouldn't even try it. He settled for Chef Boyardee. *sigh*


Ingredients:

Pecans (I used whole pecans...from my freezer)
Pasta of your choice (I used Bucatini...from Giada Laurentis' brand at Target)
Extra Virgin olive oil 
1-3 canned anchovies in oil (omit these if they totally gross you out, but I urge you to give them a try)
Red pepper flakes (as many to satisfy your desired heat level)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 cups broccoli florets (I used frozen)
1-2 tablespoons garlic, minced 
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated (I used Pecorino, but I was torn as to which to use)
Juice from 1/2 to 1 whole lemon
Zest of one whole lemon


Directions:

1.  Place your pecans on a pan (I line mine with foil) and toast them in the oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes on low heat (about 200-250 degrees F).

2.  Bring a pot of water to boil for your pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

3. While the pecans are toasting and the pasta is cooking, make the pesto.  Heat a few 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-large non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the anchovies and stir until they break down into the oil.  Add red pepper flakes (I added just a tiny bit at this stage, because I served this to my two-year-old.  My husband and I topped off our pasta with an extra sprinkle or two right before we ate it), black pepper, and some salt and reduce heat to medium-low.  Add the garlic and the broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes (longer if your broccoli is still frozen...I thawed mine first).

4. Zest your lemon and place the zest aside.  Using a blender, food processor, etc... blend the broccoli/garlic/anchovy mixture with 3/4 of your toasted pecans, juice of half the lemon, cheese and more olive oil as needed to aid the blending process.  Set the pesto aside.

5. Chop the remaining pecans into small pieces and set aside.

6. When the pasta is finished cooking, use a coffee cup or some other heat-safe container to scoop out some of the starchy cooking liquid. Set this aside and drain the pasta.

7. Heat the pan you cooked the broccoli mixture in to medium-low heat, and then add the pasta, pesto (as much as you think you need...I had some left over), some of the starchy pasta water, and a little more lemon juice. Mix well. 

8. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest. Toss, and then taste to see if you need to add more salt or pepper. 

9.  Before serving, sprinkle the pasta with the reserved pecans you chopped (I like a little crunchiness to my dishes sometimes).

I served this with shrimp, but I think this would be lovely alongside some type of grilled while fish, such as Tilapia or Grouper.

I actually forgot to add the cheese to the pesto at first, and the pesto tasted pretty good without it.  So, this would make a nice vegan pasta dish as well.








Sunday, November 17, 2013

Two-year Vintage Train Photo Shoot



For Luke's two-year photos, I decided to go with a vintage-style shoot. My photographer (Amanda Campbell of Chasing Daylight Photography) suggested this great train station, and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. We did a vintage-style little man birthday party for him too (sneak peek coming soon), so I was able to use some of the clothing and props for the shoot and the party.

I inherited this valet from my paternal grandfather.

I love shopping at thrift store and antique stores, so I had a blast gathering up the clothing for the shoot. Luke's little green outfit was found at a thrift store for $5. I found the shoes at a consignment sale for $2. I bought the cute black hat new at The Children's Place. My husband's outfit, save for the shoes, which he already owned, came from a thrift store. He is a little embarrassed by the whole ensemble, but I think he looks amazing and sexy. I think I did good with the sizing. Those pants fit him so well. He is embarrassed by the hat too, but I think ya'll will agree it looks great on him.


 





I found my dress at our local Dillard's clearance store (I go there first for dresses) for under $20. It was originally $155. I found the hat at a thrift store, the tights at Target, and I splurged on the shoes. They were $50 at TJ Maxx (but hey, I can wear those with lots of things, right?).
























Friday, September 27, 2013

Cloud Gazing with Daddy

Pointing up at the clouds

I had to share these great pictures of my two handsome men. My husband came home early from work today, and he and Luke spent some time together outside playing. Luke thought laying beside Daddy outside was really something. He kept laughing and looking up at Lee and smiling.





You might notice the red on Luke's shirt. That is paint from our apple printing project (see previous post). Luke had a very fun-filled day today.