Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Turnover recipe

I love finding delicious recipes that are a hit with the whole family. It's even better when I can find a way to make a recipe very inexpensive with the use of sale items. One of my favorite foodnetwork shows is Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian. She makes inexpensive healthy foods, but most of the time I can find ways to make her meals even less expensive!

Recently she aired a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers using leftover chicken and puffed pastry. It was mentioned on the show that puffed pastry seldom goes on sale but she does splurge on it. Well, I found a great substitute that DOES go on sale frequently to make the same meal and it tastes just as good: Grand's Flaky Biscuits! I ended up with round turnovers instead of triangles.

Other than a lack of thyme and substituting poultry seasoning and, I followed the recipe.

I will say this recipe is time consuming for a week night. It took an hour to finish! That's definitely not a Thursday night meal for us. We also had roasted carrots and a green salad. Dessert was a box of lemon bars that were FREE after coupons. The entire meal cost me less than $5 to feed EIGHT people! You need just one can of Grand's Biscuits to feed 4 (two turnovers per person) and this recipe is the amount to serve four, not eight.

CHICKEN POT PIE TURNOVERS
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 can GRANDS Flaky Layer Biscuits
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots, and celery with salt and pepper, to taste, until the carrots soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and poultry seasoning and cook for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Add the flour and cook off the raw flavor, about 1 minute more. Turn up the heat to medium-high and deglaze the pan with the wine. Whisk in the stock and Dijon mustard. Add the peas and chicken and cook on a very low simmer until the sauce thickens up into a gravy, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, take the biscuits out of can.. Gently roll out each circle to 1/4 inch thick. Place the circles on a baking sheet and spoon the chicken mixture in the center. Fold the squares diagonally to create circle . Pinch the edges together to create turnovers (use a little water if needed to bind). Press the edges with a fork to create a decorative border. Whisk the egg with a splash of water and brush the turnovers with the egg wash. Cut a small slit in the top to allow the steam to escape during baking. Bake the turnovers until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving as the insides will be very hot.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The side effects of couponing

Couponing has some big side effects.

One most obvious is it sucks up a lot of your time. Not just in the clipping, but how long it actually takes you to shop and check out.

Then you get the stockpiles of food with no where to put them. Right now, I have about 30 boxes of cereal! That's enough to last us for about a month.

The negativity from others always surprises me, though..

Some people have ill feelings towards couponers. It's not just because we take forever to check out (and will always warn people not to get behind me and let others go in front). There are the more common upset feelings over people who clear shelves of certain sale items. It's no fun when there's not enough to go around!

Or there's the crowd that think when we share our savings totals that we're boasting. I know I'm not. I think of it more as sharing good news. Sort of like when you first fall in love and you want everyone in the entire world to know how good it is...and you really have no idea how obnoxious you're being. Instead of being praised, these negative nellies treat couponers like we're hawking some pyramid scheme.

Really, we're just trying to stretch a buck. No scams.


But today was a negative reaction that made me sad. I had a cart overflowing with groceries. I was adding milk next to where Little Miss was sitting because there was just no room and I wasn't done shopping yet! A couple walked up and commented that they couldn't even afford to fill one cart of groceries let alone need to get a second cart. I swear, my heart just broke right there. I turned and told them that I coupon and all of this wouldn't cost me much more than $40. They walked away shaking their heads, totally not believing me. I wish they could have been there when I checked out 30 minutes later with $200 in groceries and paid $50 (that's after taxes!)

While I do have plenty of food for my family, my budget is very small. I stretch every last dime. I squeeze the pennies til you can't even see Lincoln's face. It's how we've managed to do things on a teacher's salary. I happen to enjoy it. And that makes me realize how truly blessed my family is.

So, if you do get in to couponing, please follow the lead of other nice couponers:

Don't clear the shelves
Let others go first if you have a large transaction
And, most importantly, if you have more than you can possibly use, donate and bless the lives of others.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's almost Easter!

Easter is one of my favorite times of year for a couple of reasons. One of the big reasons came about just two years ago...That's when Little Miss joined our family! I finally got my spring baby! She was born a few days before Easter. When she turns four, her birthday will actually be ON Easter! She's joining her sister and I who have birthdays that occasionally fall on holidays. Heck, even my wedding anniversary falls on a holiday sometimes!

But the biggest reason we love Easter, of course, is celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Much like Christmas, it gives our family time to reflect on the Savior and what He means to us.

One of the more challenging parts of Easter is separating the secular from the spiritual. It seems much easier to do at Christmas. Almost 10 years ago, we made a change in our family that allowed us to do both the secular AND religious Easter celebrations and not confuse the kids. Well, they are still plenty confused, just not about this!

The change we made was to separate the bunny day from the religious day.

For us, Easter begins on Friday night with the traditional coloring of the Easter Eggs. And, that night is when the Easter Bunny visits. The kids wake bright and early Saturday morning and will do our family egg hunt. Then, they gorge themselves on candy.

On Sunday, our family goes to church and in the evening, we tell the Easter Story using Resurrection Eggs. I had no idea until a year ago you could actually buy Resurrection Egg kits in stores. We would just put them together ourselves.

I love doing it this way for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, the secular and religious Easters happen on two different days. Secondly, from a more practical standpoint, the kids aren't on complete and total sugar highs bouncing off the walls while we're at church on Sunday! That should be a big motivator for other families to join in on this two day Easter celebration right there!

And of course, we also get to add birthday cake to the mix as we use that day to have a big dinner and celebrate Little Miss's birthday. And who needs extra party favor candy when you can hit the sales for Easter Candy. This is just as convenient in having Punky Brewster's annual Halloween Themed birthday party!

Easter begins to become one big party as we celebrate life and family and being together. What more can you ask for?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hop blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate,
click here.

Menu Plan Monday -- March 28

Not much happening this week. I guess that's a good thing. We only have 9 weeks left of school and Little Miss will be two next week! Time is just flying by. Hopefully we get news on The Boy's high school acceptance soon. It's stressing me out a bit not knowing if he got in to our high school of choice.

Menu

Sunday-- Steak, potatoes, veggies, brownies
Monday-- Roasted pork tenderloin with sweet apple gravy
Tuesday-- Texas Sized Chili Cheese fries
Wednesday--Convenience meal
Friday--Pizza
Saturday--Breakfast

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

poor me

I had to go to the dentist today. The news wasn't good. I guess TMJ plus severe hyperemesis during my pregnancies did a number on my teeth. So now, I'm sitting here with less teeth than I had a few hours ago, gauze packed in my mouth and an inability to talk. Hopefully the painkillers will begin working soon.

Until then, remember to brush your teeth, floss, do whatever you can to keep them healthy. Hopefully, you will have better luck than me!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday--March 21

This week spring has hit us full force! It's 87 degrees today, but we're supposed to see a temperature drop into the low 80s and upper 70s the rest of the week. The great part of this time of year is that we don't have to run the heater OR the a/c.

I'm getting back in to exercising. I even bought a swimsuit! D is taking Leelee to play raquetball twice a week. Now, if we could convince The Boy that he should go, too, we'd be in good shape.

The kids are also spending more time outside playing which is great.

This week for dinner is reflecting stockpiles. We need to clear stuff out! LOL

Sunday:
Southwest Creamy Chicken and Rice (my own recipe. If it's edible, i'll post the recipe), Cream Cheese Squares
Monday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Tuesday: Spicy Southern Chili in bread bowls
Wednesday: quick and easy convenience meal
Thursday: Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Apples
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Spaghetti

Friday, March 18, 2011

Frugal Friday--Maybe i'm getting spoiled

After last week's amazing shopping trip, I had hopes that maybe I had really gotten this shopping thing down right and I'd see nearly 90 percent savings every week. I guess I like to live in fantasy land.

Compared to last week, my savings percentages weren't nearly as high this week.

I did manage to score this Halo Mega Bloks set for The Boy's birthday for $1.74 after coupons! That's including tax! We teased him that I spent less than $2 for his birthday and he was completely surprised to open this gift! He was certain I'd gotten him something from the dollar store.

I got a great deal on BBQ sauce at WinnDixie this week. It's not normally a store for amazing savings. But I got 12 bottles of BBQ sauce for free. Walmart also had a hidden deal...we bought 69 individual granola bars, nutrigrain bars and fig newtons for just 10 cents each! We've totally stocked up on snacks until school gets out, I think.

This week at Publix I had about 75 percent savings. That's not really anything to be disappointed. It made me realized that I'm probably getting spoiled with so many freebies. BUT, and this is important to remember, it's harder to score free items when the items are higher priced.

My biggest deal this week (aside from the Philly Cooking Creme I was PAID $4 to take home), was this:



TWENTY bottles of lysol wipes, retail value of $40 for just $10!

I'm really kicking myself for not dividing up my purchase on this trip. I had a $5 off total competitor coupon and a $5 off total publix coupon. IF I had split my transaction with just the wipes and the cooking cream together, with the coupons, my total cost would have only been $1 for 20 bottles of wipes and 8 Philly Cooking Cremes!

The rest of my groceries would have been about $52 instead of $58. So not splitting my transaction really cost me about $6. It's a lesson learned for next week, though! If I think I'm going to have more than $100 in groceries, split it up for extra savings.

Here's my receipt...$165 savings, $58 before tax. I had nearly $90 in coupons this week!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anyone want to buy a house?

Took some time off this week to be with the family. OK, that's not entirely true. The kids have been home hogging the computer so I haven't had a chance to get on to do anything LOL

It's been a busy week along with some big changes in our lives...mainly we're listing our house. The market is just terrible where we are. Ninety eight percent of home sales in our area have been foreclosures. What's worse is they are the bargain foreclosure homes you see advertised on late-night TV for as low as $1,000! That's right, a house just a few blocks away from us sold for a whopping $7,500! I'm sure you've always wondered where those crazy low-priced homes are...right in my backyard.

The homes are usually trashed beyond all belief.

This of course will make our not foreclosed, fixed up with decent upgrades home extremely hard to sell. The realtor said all we really need to do is add some neutral paints in the bedroom, crown molding in the master bedroom and lose my red accent wall. Other than that, the house is move in ready. We're going take the next 5 weeks to knock out those projects and then list the house and pray for an investor who's willing to take a property that he won't have to do anything to and rent right away.

So please send us all your good thoughts and prayers for a quick (under 2 years) home sale.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Frugal Friday- A first at the store for me





I knew it was going to be a big week at the grocery store with all the free yogurt, but I didn't think it was going to be an over the top week...until I saw the deals for cereal! For the first time ever, I had to grab a second shopping cart! It was about half filled by the time we checked out.

I was praying my total would be under $60 since it was double my usual amount of groceries. There was a lady who got in line behind me right after we finished ringing up, but before we started coupons. They opened another lane for her, knowing we'd be awhile. She ended up being finished before I was!

My receipt was literally as tall as me! We held it up to check ha ha So that would be a 5 ft 3 in receipt.

I ended up taking all of this home:


15 boxes of cereal
15 greek yogurts
12 frozen veggies
10 kids yogurts
4 pierogis
4 salad dressing
4 mac n cheese
4 tissues
2 spray cleaners
2 glad bags
2 yoplait smoothies
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 worcestershire sauce
1 paper towel
1 dishwasher tabs
1 family size enchilada meal
2 lb clamshell strawberries

All of this for....$35.34 BEFORE tax (I had to pay another $10 in taxes). My total savings was $169.38! That's an 87 percent savings! Even the cashiers were impressed LOL My friend went in later that day to shop (we usually go together) and they were talking to her about my great day saving.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday--March 07

This week's menu is in preparation for Spring Break. I need to clean out the fridge so I can really stockpile again. There's a sale at Publix this week that makes yogurt free! I am really going to stock up. The kids love frozen yogurt, too, so some of it's going in the freezer.

Sunday: Beef Stroganoff (using the new cooking creme)
Monday: Fried Chicken, frozen veggies, rolls
Tuesday: Grilled Steaks, potatoes, salad
Wednesday: convenience meal in a box!
Thursday: crockpot pork roast
Friday: pizza
Saturday: spaghetti

snacks: yogurt, fruit

weekend lunches: BBQ pork sammies, soup

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hand me a bag so I can hyperventilate

We started drinking the Dave Ramsey koolaid a couple years ago. Our debt snowball, to borrow from a friend, was more of an unmoving iceberg for a very long time. Now, we're in that avalanche stage and it's really scary!

It's been beans and rice for so long (or at least the coupon version), that spending any extra money is really hard. It's really hard to describe what it's been like to go from squeezing every last dime from the budget to being able to go out on regular date nights!

Actually, it's not.

The word is GUILT.

I feel a pit in my stomach. Like I'm doing something terribly wrong by enjoying an evening with my husband without using a buy one get one meal. D finds it liberating. He acts like he's in shock that we go out and I don't have a coupon, then asks me how I'm feeling...am I going to pass out? Do I need a chair? Refusing to show me the total because he knows I might drop dead right there, then who would do the laundry?

So imagine for a moment what happened when I found that both of our couches had been used as canvas for a pair of pint sized sharpie artists... Sharpie does not come out. Ever.

The good news was that Target had slip covers on sale! And, a gift card with a transferred prescription.

I gathered my strength and went to Target to get the slip covers. It would be difficult, but I could do it.

I was wrong.

Naturally, the slip cover I wanted only had one available. I needed two. I could get one and another one that was $20 more. But they weren't the same shade. I had no idea what to do.

I found someone to ask for help. Because I can't shop on my own. I always need another opinion. Would having two slightly different shades matter? I could always return it if I didn't like it, but that meant I'd have to drive out to Target again. Round trip, that's about $5. I started doing the math in my head when D called.

I explained the situation. I could hear the exasperation in D's voice:

Are all the bills paid? yes Is money in savings? yes Is this coming out of the emergency fund? no So this is coming out of the mad money? yes And we'll still have some left? yes

"So what's the problem? Spend the extra $40 and get the two stretchy ones that match!"

It seems so logical coming from his mouth. Maybe I just needed his permission to spend money.

I ran into a friend at checkout. She admired my slip covers. She asked the price. I told her. She said "Please tell me they are on sale!" Yes...but that's the sale price. I think she was going to fall over, too.

I watched her check out with all her coupons...you know, like I normally do.

Then I handed over my four items: two slip covers, measuring spoons, and a battery for the wii mote. $171 after my gift card.

It was all I could do not to start hyperventilating right there. Panic. I had to call a friend to calm me down. I might as well have spent $1000, because that's what it felt like.

I even tweeted Dave Ramsey asking for advise on transitioning from living like no one else, to LIVING like no one else. Because if it feels like this...I'm want off the ride! When does the guilt end? When will I stop feeling like I'm doing something wrong every time I buy something fun and frivolous, even though I have the money?

So, my weekly shopping total for target: $171 spent. $35 saved. Savings: 17 percent.

Forget hyperventilating. I may puke instead...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March ... BE Involved!

For March's Be Her challenge, it's time for me to get involved.

In an unlikely turn of events, I started this last month. The opportunity was there and I took it.

Our school system, like many others across the country, are facing deep budget problems. Our school board presented a proposal that had parents up in arms: It involved closing several well-loved schools and realigning boundaries. It was like the board woke the sleeping giant. Town meetings were held, parents offered alternative proposals, the board offered alternatives to the alternative...and last week they finally voted on a plan.

The plan was the best option presented. It was pretty clear that one school was closing no matter what anyone said and another school (Little B's) needed to be moved to another location. It was really hard to come down on the side of the superintendent. Another plan was presented by the parents that saved more money, but (isn't there always a but?) if the district is able to sell some of the closed schools it will generate a large infusion of funds. Their plan was to close to the schools with the greatest real estate marketability.

Long story short, Little B's school is moving. Lots of kids are being moved around.

I found a great group of parents who want to stay involved with what's going on with the schools. Before, parents seemed to be focused primarily on their own schools. That quickly changed to what is best for the all the kids in the district and long term impact and creative problem solving of issues facing the district.

It feels great being involved in this process.

Sometimes opportunities to get involved sort of sneak up on you. I know I had no intention of being this involved. But wow! I haven't felt this energized about something in a very long time.

I had no intention of becoming politically involved for this challenge. I was thinking "be more involved with my kids!" It's funny how things work out.

Things move slowly in politics and with school boards. There probably won't be much to report as I continue being involved this month. I have projects I'm working on, but it's not anything to get all bloggy about...unless you're interested in things like capital funds versus organizational budgets.

I'll also be spending my usual time volunteering with another organization I LLLove :) I've been involved with this group first as a member and later as a leader for 12 years now! It's a cause close to my heart and always will be. Hopefully things will quiet down and I can get back helping moms nationally on the helpline instead of just the moms local to me.

So, what are your favorite ways to get involved? I'd love to hear about great charities and organizations that help make positive impacts in your communities!