Saturday, February 21, 2009

Scrumptious Sunday--Strawberry Muffins

I love these muffins because they are versatile in that you can change the kind of berries and yogurt you use in the batter!  I have done these using blueberry yogurt and blueberries. I have also done blackberries with raspberry yogurt. You can also use frozen berries not just fresh. 

Strawberry Streusel Muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup strawberry yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, yogurt and sour cream; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in strawberries. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.      For topping, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.      Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen. 

For more scrumptious recipes, head over Happy to be at Home!

**photo courtesy of Taste of Home

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip--Savings $56.64

This week, I took advantage of the sales for the majority of my savings rather than relying heavily on coupons.  I still used coupons but only $12.10 worth for this week! Gone are the days of mega savings with coupons for me! I am finding that shifting my focus to buying things that we will use rather than buying things that we might never use because they are a good deal is actually pulling my coupon usage down along with my savings.  Stores that I shop at do not double or triple is all face value for the coupons.   Also, most coupons are for processed foods or items that my family will not eat so I am not even cutting those coupons. 

I am not saying that not using coupons is a bad thing, it is just that I have had to become more aware of the sales and shopping more at Aldi's or Save A Lot in order to keep my grocery budget in check.  It has been refreshing not getting everything that is a good deal!  I guess you could say that I am saving money by not "chasing" after every item that is on sale and has a coupon making it a good deal.  Matter of fact, I still have a stockpile of shampoo from a year ago when I was trying to chase every deal that was to be had each week!

For this week, I did my monthly run to Sam's Club and then just went to Meijers(twice) and Save A Lot!  I had to go to Meijers twice because they had milk on sale!

Here is the breakdown of my shopping trip...

Meijer(1st trip): (forgot to take pics of this trip!)
  • 6.5lbs split chicken breasts $6.50
  • 4 boxes mac & cheese $3.00(1 free with 10 for $10 get 11th free sale!)
  • 3 boxes brown & serve sausage $3.00
  • 5 cans Old Orchard Juice $5.00
  • 2 bags Doritos $4.00
  • 2 tubs Country Crock margarine $4.25
  • 2 bags Rold Gold Honey Wheat pretzels $5.00
  • 2 loaves bread $1.65
  • 1 family pack bag Tyson anytizers $6.25
  • 2 boxes Cookie Crisp cereal $3.84($1.92/box)
Last week, I received a $2.50 off next shopping trip that I used this week! 

Total: $72.95
Total out of pocket: $39.99
Total Savings: $32.96

Meijer(2nd trip):
  • 3.02lbs bananas $1.78
  • 3lbs baby carrots $3.00
  • 8 cans Old Orchard Juice $7.00(1 FREE--10 for $10 get 11th free sale)
  • 3 gallons Milk $6.00
  • 1 box Pillsbury brownies 92¢ (had a 75¢ off Catalina coupon that expired 2/20!) 
  • 3 boxes General Mills Cereal $7.00 
  • 2 bottles Lysol bathroom cleaner $$3.00
  • 1 bottle Suave shampoo FREE + an extra $1.31!!!!
Total: $51.31
Total out of pocket: $27.63
Total Savings: $23.68
**about the Suave....I got the "Suavenomics"/Free bottle of Suave product coupon in the mail the other day and I looked at the expiration date and saw 2/28/09 on it!!  So instead of filing my coupon in with my other coupons, I took it to the store and used it!  The cashier scanned the coupon and it scanned for $3.00--the max value on the coupon so instead of changing the price to the price I paid for the bottle, the cashier gave me the full $3.00!!!!!  I guess that was my "pay back" for last week when several of my coupons just did not want to scan. 

Save A Lot: 
  • 3.05lbs hamburger $3.02(markdown to 99¢/lb!!)
  • 4 cans beef broth $1.96
  • 1 jar blackberry preserves $1.99 (going to use it for this recipe!)
  • 6 cans cream of chicken soup $2.94
  • 3 bags egg noodles $2.97
  • 1 box swiss cake rolls $1.00 (my weakness!)
  • 1 gallon chocolate milk $2.49
  • 10lbs russet potatoes $3.00
  • 2 jars pizza sauce $1.98
Total: $21.35
Total Savings: priceless!!

Grand Total: $145.61
Grand Total OOP: $88.97
Grand Total Savings: $56.64 plus the savings from shopping at Save A Lot!

Shopping in Bulk at Sam's Club!

I have moved my monthly Sam's shopping trip to the middle of the month and using the paycheck that we get on the 15th rather than going the first of the month.   Doing this has helped us not go down to having a zero balance in the bank account before the next paycheck. 

By the time, I went this month I was out of several things that I normally purchase at Sam's.  We went close to a two weeks without paper plates!  I know to most of you that would be no big deal to be without paper plates but to my family that means that we end up running our automatic dishwasher every day rather than every other day.  It also means that we have more dishes overall to wash as well.  One would think that it adds to our trash using paper plates but for our family of seven we only put out  ONE 30 gallon trashbag each week!  The reason behind only having the one bag is because we do recycle 90% of our trash.   Anyway, we have found buying paper plates has actually saved us money along with some of my sanity. We use the paper plates just for lunch time or when we are entertaining a big group in our home. 

Here is a list of the items(including the paper plates) that I purchased this week at Sam's:
  • 600 count paper plates $17.62(with tax--figures out to 3¢/plate)
  • 2 pack Rold Gold Pretzels $5.88
  • 3 liters olive oil $16.54
  • 3-44oz Heinz ketchup $6.52
  • 1.25 gallons Canola oil $8.87
  • 24 pk-10oz bottles Welchs juice $10.76
  • 36 count Apple & Eve 100% juice box drinks $8.88
  • 24 count 20oz Gatorade $14.88
  • 5 lbs frozen corn $4.88
  • 6lbs frozen shredded hashbrowns $4.88
  • 140 ct. Totinos pizza rolls $8.88
  • 23oz taco seasoning $3.88
  • 72ct american cheese slices $7.88
  • 5lbs mild cheddar cheese $9.47
  • 48ct. string cheese $7.42
  • 5qt pail vanilla ice cream $5.02
  • 60 ct Eggo waffles $8.52
  • 6.97lbs boneless skinless chicken breast $13.73($1.97/lb)
  • 5lbs Country Crock margarine $4.42
  • 5.37lbs boneless pork loin chops $15.47 ($2.88/lb) (They are thick chops so I cut them in half longwise so instead of having 9 thick chops we have 18 thin chops which makes at least 2 dinner meals and usually 2 leftover lunches for the seven of us!)
Total: $184.40

If you have been following my monthly runs, you will start to see that I have some things(like cheese, hashbrowns, margarine) that I get every month while other things(ice cream, juice, meat)you don't see for a month or two or more. Those items that I don't get every month I either have purchased in bulk and divided it up to last several months OR I have found those same items in the grocery store over the last month on sale for a great price so I have stocked my shelves with that item using the grocery store sales. 

Making the monthly trips to Sams has helped me to plan ahead and use what I purchase in bulk wisely. While one might think that they don't have the space to buy in bulk I have found that buying in bulk is helping me save space because I don't have to work finding a place for all the small packages of items bought at the grocery store. 

Frugal Friday---Leftover Makeovers

Lately, I have been finding that I have LOTS of leftovers to use before they turn into science projects.  Instead of just heating them up and eating them the same way again, I have been giving them a "makeover". Doing this has cut down on amount of complaining from my crew and hearing "I would rather have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich than to have leftovers!"  Here is a list of just a few of the makeovers I have done.

1. Roasted Chicken and Gravy or Creamy Chicken can become several different things. I shred the chicken and add it to the gravy and make "Stewed Chicken Sandwiches". OR I combine the two and add leftover veggies to it and make Chicken Veggie Stew/Soup or Chicken Pot Pie or Chicken Noodle Soup.

2. Boiled or Baked Potatoes become Seasoned pan fries.

3. Roast, carrots and potatoes meal becames Veggie Stew. Or I take the leftover roast and add bq sauce to it for sandwiches. The leftover potatoes I cut up and make Cubed hashbrowns.

4. Chicken Rice Casserole leftovers make a good base for homemade Chicken Rice Soup.

5. Roasted Pork Loin gets bq sauce add to it for BQ Pork sandwiches. OR I make up some chicken gravy and heat up the pork in the gravy for Pork and Gravy.

6. Spaghetti Sauce gets used for Pizza Sauce on homemade pizzas.

7. Mashed Potatoes get put in a skillet with a pad of margarine and seasoned with seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder for some seasoned potato cakes.

8. Taco meat(beef or chicken) gets made into taco salad, or put on top of a plate of nacho chips, or gets used in making quesadillas or Taco Soup.

9. Extra noodles(spaghetti, egg, elbow macaroni, etc) gets made into a pasta salad.

10. Burgers make into Salisbury Steak OR break them up and make hamburger gravy or use in spaghetti, chili, or goulash.

What are some of the "leftover makeovers" that you do to help use up the food and save money on the grocery budget?

For more frugal tips, recipes and resources; head over to Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood!!

**portions originally posted February,2008

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recipe Swap--Signature Dish--Jewish Coffee Cake

Today is the Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as a Mom.  She is asking us to share our signature dish. The first thing that came to mind when I was thinking "signature dish" was a recipe that I got from my Mother that I love to make for my family.  I don't make it very often because it is a little bit on the expensive side to create.  My hubby loves it so much that he will ask for this or something chocolate when he needs to bring something to a work function.  It is called Jewish Coffee Cake!   I am sure where the "Jewish" part came from in the name but at any rate it is great to eat with a cup of tea(or coffee--I don't drink it!) for a breakfast or afternoon snack.  I have seen similar recipes that just call this dish--"sour cream coffee cake".

½ lb. butter (or 1 stick margarine & ½ cup butter)
6 lg. eggs (or 4 duck eggs)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sour cream
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour (3 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla (not imitation)

1 cup nuts, finely chopped (pecans are the best!)
½ cup dark brown sugar (can use light brown sugar as well)
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Mix filling ingredients together; set aside. To prepare coffee cake, cream together butter and sugar; add vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Mix well. Alternate cake mix with filling in a bundt pan. Bake at 350° on bottom rack 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Notes: If you use duck eggs, do not use chicken eggs too!! Using fresh eggs and sour cream the cake will rise over the pan!!! So you will need to be careful when baking, I usually put it on the top rack in the middle of the oven and only bake the cake. You can use all margarine and no butter with this recipe as well. I have used 1 cup of plain yogurt and 1 cup of sour cream for the 2 cups of sour cream. I have also used cottage cheese that I have put through the blender with some lemon juice and buttermilk. (home made sour cream! lol)

For other signature dishes, head over to the Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom!

**originally posted October, 2007

Thursday Thirteen---Read Aloud Book List

One thing that I enjoy about homeschooling is being able to snuggle up on the couch with my kids and a good read aloud book!

It is so much fun listening to them as they interject what they think might happen next.  OR they beg me to keep reading even though we need to move to doing something else. 

This week I am going to share my kids' favorites read aloud books!

  1. The Day that Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash

  2. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

  3. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

  4. Paddington Bear Series

  5. Amelia Bedelia Series (yes even my boys loved this series!)

  6. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

  7. Mr. Popper's Penguins

  8. The Boxcar Children

  9. The Sign of the Beaver

  10. Charlotte's Web

  11. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  12. The Indian in the Cupboard

  13. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

There are more that I could add to this list!! Do you have any favorite read aloud books? If so, I would love to know so we can add them to our list if we haven't already read them! 

For more lists of thirteen, head over to Happy to be at Home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All about "I"

My daughter has not been interested in doing "school" for a couple of weeks so we have gotten a little behind with our letters. However, it proved to be a good break for both of us.  I also was able to work with my three older boys a little more on some new to them topics. 

Now we have gotten back into the swing of things and have worked through the letter "I". 

Studying the letter "I" would not be the same if we didn't have ice cream at least once!  And what is even better is making our own

The snow has been melting in my neck of the country so there are lots and lots of icicles to spot dripping off the roof!

Despite the snow melting it was still too cold to be outside so we stayed inside all week playing indoor games(like hide n seek, dress-up and tea parties)

Along with playing indoor games we made and played with instruments. We learned that there are lots of different things that can be made into musical instruments.

We talked about insects.  We made ladybugs, butterflies, and other bugs using our thumbprint and an ink pad.

Our Bible lesson was on Issac.

We did take the time to talk about the short i sound and the long i sound.  We made up two mini books with each of the I sounds.

We didn't get to one thing that I wanted to do....that was making an igloo out of sugar cubes!

**I hope you take the time to go through the valuable links in this post!**

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday--Loaves into Muffins

This week has been a very busy week for me along with working at finding some balance with blogging and real life so I am pulling something out of the archives!

I have blogged about making muffins instead of loaves when I make my quick breads. So for my WFMW post, I thought I would answer some of the questions that I was asked by readers like if I use liners or not, how long do I cook them, and also about storing and freezing them. First off, I do use liners, because they make the prep work that much faster! I buy the liners in bulk at Gordon Food Service Marketplace. I found just plain old white ones in a 500 pack for under $4.00.

Muffins take 1/2 the time of loaves of bread to bake. Usually I can get my muffins made and baked in the time it would take for a loaf to bake. So bottom line it takes around 30 minutes for muffins to bake.
I let my muffins cool just long enough to where they are not warm. (You don't want to put warm muffins into ziploc bags and then in the freezer because there will be too much moisture in the bag from the condensation.) Once they are not warm, I stick them in gallon size ziploc freezer bags. I usually stick what I can in one bag and then leave the rest out for the family to enjoy. :) Sometimes I will individually wrap them and then put them in a freezer bag so that they are just a quick grab for snacks or an on the go breakfast.

How long do they last in the freezer? At my house not very long! In all seriousness from what I have read muffins and breads can last in the freezer for 1-2 months. However, I have found that I can push 3-4 months and still have fresh tasting muffins! I usually will take the muffins out of the freezer, put in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and have a muffin tasting like I just took it fresh out of the oven! :)

Making quick bread muffins and freezing them is what works for me!

On a side note, if you are looking to freeze other food items, check out my freezer post for more information!

For other tips, ideas, and resources as to what works for others, head over to Rocks in My Dryer.

**originally posted April, 2008

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Streusel Bars

I love these easy to make bars! They are rich so a little bit goes a long ways!  I have even made these with the Nestle swirl chips and they taste great, especially the peanut butter/milk chocolate swirl chips.



1‑3/4 cups all‑purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

1 egg

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

2 cups (12‑oz. pkg.) semi‑sweet chocolate chips, divided

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)



1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2‑inch baking pan.

2. In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar and cocoa. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg; mix well. Set aside 1‑1/2 cups mixture. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

3. Bake 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium microwave‑safe bowl, place sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup chocolate chips; stir. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 to 1‑1/2 minutes or until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred; pour over crust. Add nuts and remaining chips to reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle over top.

4. Bake additional 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. About 36 bars. Prep Time: 20 min. Start to Finish: 2 Hrs. 55 min.

This post is being linked to:

*photo courtesy of Hershey's Kitchens

Presidents' Day Unit Study

Today is Presidents' Day!  Here is a list of sites that you can use to find different activities to do and books to read for Presidents' day.

Homeschool Helper's Lapbook resources --lapbook resources

Hands On Activities

Homeschool Share's Lapbook resources

Easy Fun School's Presidents Unit

Homeschool Mom's Presidents page

President Day Activities

Apples 4 the Teacher --list of books along with activities to do

Homeschool Learning Network –downloadable unit for $2.95

Mr. Donn's President's Day Page

Enchanted Learning President's Day Crafts

Education World's February Holidays page –scroll down about ½ way to find the Presidents’ Day links

originally posted February, 2008

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 2/15-2/21

Last week's menu plan went pretty smoothly. Once again this week, it seemed that we had more leftovers than I expected so lunches were more interesting than an ordinary peanut butter and grape jam sandwich.

This week’s shopping trip was working at my stockpile and finishing up meals. I need to make a trip to Sam’s Club in this next week to do some more restocking of needed bulk items.

This week, hubby is going to be working longer hours because of some of his out of town teammates being in town.  So I decided to pull out the fast & easy meal plan which consists of kid friendly quick fixes and crockpot meals.  

Lunches listed are for the kids & me. Unless we are having leftovers, our lunches are served with apple slices or baby carrots along with fruit juice or water.  Hubby usually takes a dinner leftover for his work lunch, however, this week he will probably be eating out for lunches and using his packed lunch for dinner with the team in town.

A special thanks to
Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus; go check the over 400 other delicious meal plans that have been linked at Laura-Organizing Junkie's site or look down in my right sidebar for my menu suggestion lists! 

Sunday (2-15)

Breakfast: eggs, sausage, hash browns, and cinnamon rolls

Lunch: leftovers


Snack: snack basket


Monday (2-16)

Breakfast: cereal, toaster strudel, and yogurt

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner:  beef goulash and corn muffins (copycat recipe)

Snack: cookies, milk & yogurt


Tuesday (2-17)

Breakfast: waffles and sausage

Lunch: pizza

Dinner:  homemade burgers, fries and corn

Snack: snack basket

Wednesday (2-18) 

Breakfast: bagels, eggs and cereal

Lunch: sandwiches & chips

Dinner: chicken clubs, fries, and green beans

Snack: “mystery snack”

Thursday (2-19)

Breakfast: French Toast

Lunch: pizza rolls

Dinner: chili, rice, and corn muffins

Snack: snack basket

Friday (2-20)

Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel

Lunch: sandwiches & chips

Dinner:  roast, carrots and potatoes

Snack: ice cream night                                          


Saturday (2-21)  

Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”

Lunch: ???  probably leftovers

Dinner:  chicken rice casserole, and homemade bread

Snack:  snack basket  or popcorn