Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quinoa salad

July 30 & 31, 2013

We've been bad this week. So so bad. My hubby got home from work yesterday and neither of us felt like cooking dinner. Once again, we went out to eat. There was one good thing about it though. We went to the restaurant that our friends own. It is always nice to support their business. I mean, we have to do our part right? Ha.

Today we ran some errands and did some back to school clothes shopping. We played outside with our puppy for awhile and then worked on some house cleaning. Before I knew it, I had about 40 minutes to figure out what to make for dinner, prepare it, get the kids to eat quickly, get them in their uniforms, take the puppy outside, and get out the door to karate practice. Yikes!

None of us were very hungry so I knew I just had to find a simple meal. I cooked some quinoa and added craisins halfway through the cook time. I kept it simple and only seasoned it with a little salt. I decided to serve the craisin quinoa on a salad. I grabbed the rest of the spinach from the farmer's market. There was still a little bit of baby arugula left. I added green onion (from my garden), japanese cucumber, carrots, peas, orange pepper, and avocado. My daughter had ranch on her salad. My son had his plain (without avocado or dressing). I didn't even bother to add ranch to mine. The quinoa and avocado added plenty of creaminess to the salad.

After karate practice, the kids asked for dessert. Unbelieveably, my son asked for the last leftover chickpea peanut butter blondie over the freezer full of ice cream! He ate all the crumbs out of the pan and asked me to make another batch soon. Ha. Will do son.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Peanut Butter Blondies

July 29, 2013

My hubby lucked out and I let him take the only leftover piece of pizza for lunch today. We certainly out did ourselves last night. I can't wait to make another pizza! I decided to make a pasta salad for me to have for lunch and then also have it for a side dish for dinner tonight.

I found a recipe on for edamame and cauliflower pasta salad with feta. I altered it a bit. I used orzo pasta. I steamed 3/4 of a head of cauliflower. I added in a package of edamame. The dressing called for 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, juice of 2 lemons, mint, green onions, salt, and pepper. I only added one lemon and I omitted the mint. It seemed to be missing something. I added in some of our favorite teriyaki sauce and a new sauce I got this week (ginger sesame sauce).

We also made our favorite recipe for vegetarian meatballs (found it on They are made of chickpeas, eggs, onion, parsley, oatmeal, bread crumbs, cheese (we used romano tonight), garlic powder, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, and we also added garlic & wine seasoning from The Melting Pot. My hubby made a sauce for them out of about 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, just under one teaspoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons grey poupon. I wanted some sauteed mushrooms and onions as another side. I saw the container of baby arugula in the fridge. Hmmmm. I asked my hubby to throw a handful into the mix.

I asked the kids if I should make a batch of the chocolate chip blondies made with chickpeas again tonight. My son whined no. I told him that I thought he had liked them when I made them before. I pulled up the blog entry from that night and read it to him. Sure enough, he couldn't get enough of them. Ha. My daughter decided that she wanted to make them. I pulled up the recipe for her (Chocolate Covered Katie). It is a great recipe for kids to make because it is basically just using a food processor. She mixed together 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup quick oats, and 1/4 cup peanut butter. After those ingredients are all mixed well in the food processor, stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips (we just chopped up chocolate bars). I meant for us to try to make these with less sugar this time but I totally forgot. Next time. Spread the batter in a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

How did dinner go? I think I finally figured out why the pasta salad was weird. It tasted more like a side dish that should be heated up and not served cold as a pasta salad. My daughter said she would prefer it without feta cheese. I didn't think the feta worked too well in it either. My hubby liked it. Three of us really liked the sauce for the meatballs. My son said it was ok. Now on to the blondies...We started off by each having a piece before dinner when they were warm from the oven. Yum. Then my son remembered them! After dinner, I told the kids they could have another one. Well, that turned into my son asking for one more. I suppose, they have chickpeas, oatmeal, and peanut butter. If I were to forget about the sugar then they would be healthy. Go ahead son. Ha. I did have to say no when he asked for yet another. Ha! I don't think he will say no if I ask him if I should make them again! I don't think my hubby got to try the blondies the last time I made them. My daughter told him the ingredients after he had eaten one. His response, "there's chickpeas in there"? Funny because I had made pasta salad last week with small white beans. The first day we ate it with ranch dressing. The second day we added avocado, tortilla chips, and catalina dressing to have it as taco salad. After eating the pasta salad for two days, I mentioned beans as I wrote my blog and he said "there was beans in there"?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pizza's best topping

July 28, 2013

Our friend drove 14 hours to come visit us this week. We took her out to lunch today to a Japanese restaurant. Did we ever stuff ourselves! We hadn't been to a Japanese restaurant in quite awhile so I think we were deprived and had to order lots of items. Ha. We started off with the ginger salad. Yum. Next up was our trio of sushi. We had sweet potato rolls, avocado rolls, and cucumber rolls. My daughter had a shrimp and avocado hand roll. The kids both had a bowl of miso soup. My hubby and I both had the vegetarian hibachi lunch with rice/noodles. Our friend shared some of her sushi with us too. She ordered an asparagus, radish sprout, lettuce, cucumber, and avocado roll. So stuffed. So delicious.

About a week ago, I posted the secret to pizza. I'm sure you've all read that post (because you are all good blog followers!) but incase you missed it the secret is grilling the vegetables before you put your pizza together. We upped our pizza skills tonight. My hubby grilled red/yellow onion, green pepper, hungarian wax pepper (only for him), red/purple potatoes, pineapple, and mushrooms. We also added pizza sauce, black olives, garlic and wine seasoning from The Melting Pot, thyme from my garden, baby kale, and baby arugula. My hubby topped it with mozzarella, feta, and provolone cheeses.

I have had a slight (ok, huge) obsession with an assortment of salad greens lately. I'm not quite sure why I haven't thought to add it to pizza until now. Oh my goodness. Arugula is GROWN for pizza. Yum. I asked my hubby what he thought and he said that he wished there was more leftover for lunch tomorrow because there is only enough leftover for me. Awwww. Seeing as he let me have the leftover last week, I'll let him have this piece. Now that's love!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

One dinner: Two salads

July 26 & 27, 2013

Yesterday the kids had their last day of summer camp. We hit up the farmer's market on the way home. I love farmer's markets. I could go to one everyday and still find something that I need to buy. We came home and decided to have a picnic. I put together a pasta salad to take outside. I had a box of small ring pasta. Perfect. I added carrots, red onion, green pepper, tomato, cucumber, small white beans, and peas. I mixed in ranch dressing just in the salad that we put on our plates. I figured I would leave the rest of it undressed so that I could do something different with it the next day. We didn't want too much for dinner last night. Ah. A night of dip for dinner. Yum! Cream cheese, black beans processed with salsa, corn, sauteed red onion/mushrooms/green peppers/poblano pepper, mexican and cheddar cheese, and green onions. The kids had peanut butter sandwiches and peaches from the farmer's market.

Today we went out for lunch at a local restaurant on the river. We had a coupon for a free appetizer so we got the sampler of asian spring rolls (vegetarian), jalapeno poppers, and onion rings. My hubby ordered a portobello burger  with eggplant, roasted red pepper, and zucchini in a balsamic glaze. I had a portobello sandwich stuffed with arugula and three cheeses. My daughter had a buffalo chicken sandwich. My son had macaroni and cheese and applesauce.

We spent the afternoon weeding the garden. By "we", I actually mean the entire family! Yay! So we bribed them with a little money. So what. Ha! Our garden is not growing very well this year. We had way too much rain for about a month and some of the garden stayed under water. I am tired of waiting for the garden to get going so we decided to make do with what we could tonight and make a salad. We thinned out the carrots and green onion to get enough for the salad. My hubby picked two red onions. Yeah they were very small but enough for tonight. We also added our own lettuce, thyme, cilantro, garlic chives, tomato, and green pepper. The only item in our salad that didn't come from our garden was the dressing!

I grabbed the rest of the undressed pasta salad from the fridge. I added in an avocado, mexican cheese, and catalina dressing. We topped it with crushed tortilla chips. Voila. A new meal from leftovers. It was so good! We finished the pasta salad but I'm thinking I may need to make another batch tomorrow!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Loaded BLT

July 25, 2013

What a fun day! Our friend moved away seven months ago and today she came back for a visit. My hubby made us wraps for lunch. He grilled red/purple potatoes, red onion, portobello mushrooms, green pepper, cubanelle pepper, pineapple, and cayenne pepper. We also added in baby arugula, baby kale, broccoli sprouts, pea shoots, cilantro, avocado, mexican cheese, black beans processed with salsa, and ranch. Yum!

My daughter asked to make us a snack in the afternoon. My hubby had hard boiled some eggs so she decided to make deviled eggs. I peeled/washed the eggs for her and she set to work. She used miracle whip, mustard, home canned relish, salt, and pepper. Then she topped some eggs differently. Some had cayenne pepper. Some had green onion from the garden. Some had the garlic and wine seasoning from Melting Pot. Oh man. Those were amazing! That seasoning really does make everything taste great.

We got the call that my hubby was on his way home from work a few hours later. Yep. She had to make a few more eggs for daddy to try....uh, all of us to have. Ha!

We weren't too hungry when dinner time rolled around so we decided to have some BLT's. Loaded BLT's. Vegetarian style. We had vegetarian bacon, an orange tomato from the farmer's market, baby kale, baby arugula, broccoli sprouts, pea shoots, cilantro, avocado, and cucumber. I asked my hubby if he wanted to kick the sandwiches up a little bit. Of course! We sauteed red onion, garlic, and baby portabella mushrooms in some local white wine.

How have the kids adjusted to having vegetarian bacon? They were playing outside while we cooked dinner. They kept sneaking in so many times to get pieces of bacon. The last time my hubby caught them my son had a fist full. Ha! After dinner, I asked my hubby what he thought of the sauteed mushrooms and onions on the sandwich. His reply, "new level". I guess that means we'll be adding it to our future BLT's!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Broccoli Carrot Pasta & Grocery Savings

July 23 & 24, 2013

Yesterday for lunch, I just heated up some of the leftover grilled veggies and added in some greens (I have a ton of different ones: baby kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli sprouts, and pea shoots). Of course I also threw in some cheese, avocado, and ranch. The wrap was delicious. I took our puppy to his first vet appointment in the afternoon and then spent some time hanging out with my friends who babysat for me while I was at the vet. Dinner time rolled around and I didn't feel like cooking so we headed to a local pizza joint. A veggie pizza, fried cauliflower, and an order of stuffed riggies later.....dinner was served.

Today was grocery shopping day. My pre-challenge weekly average was $175. Today I spent $19.78 on toiletries and cleaners. I spent $7.13 on impulse items. I got vegetarian egg rolls, general tso's chicken (for my daughter), and garlic cheese rolls (think pizza rolls but a different brand). I felt like I bought a ton today. There was probably two things going against me. I was hungry and I had my hubby with me. Ha. I spent $92.42 on food. I spent $7.98 on gossip magazines. After adding in their surcharge and taking out my coupons, I spent $130.96 out of pocket. That is a savings of $44.04. My pre-challenge weekly restaurant spendings was $80. This week I went out to lunch with friends, out to lunch with my family, and then out to dinner with my family last night. Yikes. We spent $85.21. Ugh. Over. After taking out our overage, our savings for this week is only $38.83. But hey, it's still savings! This brings our grand total savings to $4,145.81 in 280 days!

Today was a long day. Grocery shopping and errands, a pampered chef party, dinner, and karate. I wanted a quick meal so I just made some pasta with my home canned spaghetti sauce and some steamed green beans. I topped mine with freshly grated parmesan. My daughter topped hers with nutritional yeast. For the pasta, I found a bag of broccoli carrot fettucini that I had bought at a local Amish store. The kids and I really liked them (my hubby worked through dinner). We couldn't taste the veggies at all which I guess is a good thing. The kids said it is a "buy again" pasta.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fresh raspberry brownies

July 22, 2013

Today was a super busy day of doctor appointments, pharmacy pick ups, post office, laundry, dishes, potty training our puppy, and a lot of cooking. I'm beat. I started the day off by cooking a big pot of black beans and a big pot of chick peas. I had soaked them over night so that they would be all set this morning. I bagged them up and froze them in two cup increments.

My hubby had requested that I make another batch of the semi-homemade baked beans that I had made for our son's birthday party. I made them this afternoon. I think that next time I will eliminate the one can of store bought baked beans and do the entire thing from scratch. I also tried out using different beans with it today. Instead of lima and kidney beans, I used small white and black eyed peas. I was just saying yesterday that we need to use up the black eyed peas. I made a batch of them and froze them but had no idea what to use them in.

Then I moved on to dessert. I made a pan of brownies. I wanted to make something that I could incorporate some of the raspberries and black berries that we had picked yesterday. I took the recipe that I like for raspberry filled brownies from Eat at home cooks and made a few changes today. 2 sticks of butter (I used vegan sticks), 4 eggs. Well, let me stop there. I only had three eggs so I looked up a substitute. What do ya know. Silken tofu is an egg substitute and I actually happened to have a container of it in the fridge! I decided to use 2 eggs and substitute tofu for the rest. It is 1/4 cup of silken tofu per egg. Ok, 2/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp baking powder. I was going to try to cut back on the sugar a little bit but I was worried that I would need it to balance out the tofu. Melt the butter then stir in the sugar, eggs (and/or tofu), and vanilla. Add the cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir. Pour half of the batter into a 9x13 greased pan. The recipe then calls for 3/4 cup raspberry pie filling (I made it that way a few months ago and it was great). Today I skipped the pie filling and just topped the batter with 3/4 cup of the fresh raspberries and black berries that we picked. Then top the berries with the rest of the batter. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

I called the kids in for a snack. I asked if they wanted smoothies. Of course they did! I added the rest of the silken tofu, some milk, vanilla, raspberries, and pineapple. My son asked for strawberries in his too. They loved it and had no idea there was tofu in it. Score!

For dinner I wanted to make it something quick because I was tired of being in the kitchen. I figured we could have some of the baked beans and just grill up some veggies. I couldn't stop pulling veggies out of the fridge. Ha. My hubby grilled up red/green/cubanelle peppers, red onion, red/purple/sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccolini, yellow squash, zucchini, and shiitake mushrooms. For dessert they could choose between a brownie or a mini angel food cake topped with fresh berries and cool whip.

I was a little surprised with the results of the food today. My son will normally eat beans but doesn't really "like" them. He actually liked the baked beans! Yay! However, he didn't like the raspberries in the brownies. What? He can't be my child. My daughter said the brownies were ok. She prefers a wetter brownie. She liked the baked beans though (no surprise from my bean lover). My hubby liked the baked beans and said the black eyed peas went well in it. Score number two! Looks like I found a use for the rest of the bags of them. He said the brownies were good but a little soft and crumbly. As for me....I thought the beans turned out great. They were very sweet (which I like) and I like that I can play around with whatever beans I have to use up. The brownies. Ahhh the brownies. I don't know what is wrong with my family. I think the brownies are great! No problem. Just means I get to eat the whole pan. Ha!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vegetarian wontons

July 19, 20, & 21, 2013

On Friday, I went out to lunch with my friends. I ordered a veggie pizza with mushrooms, onions, olives, peppers, and broccoli. Yum! We didn't feel like a big dinner so we just made the vegetarian chicken patty sandwiches.

Yesterday, we went out for lunch to Moe's. I had tofu and black bean burrito. By the time I added in all of my toppings (grilled mushrooms/onions/peppers, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, rice, pico de gallo, etc), it was as big as my face! We spent the afternoon making a big batch of our homemade jalapeno poppers. We picked peppers from our garden. They are seeded, boiled, and stuffed with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and garlic and wine seasoning. They are dipped in flour (seasoned), egg, flour, egg, and crushed corn flakes. They are frozen and then just take out what you want to cook and fry them in oil. They are so delicious.  We still had some of the cheese filling leftover so my hubby whipped up some quesadillas. Wow. It was so flavorful. We also had a huge salad. Are you ready for the list of what was all in it. (Deep breath).... Lettuce, baby kale, baby arugula, pea shoots, broccoli sporouts, cilantro, cucumber, red onion, carrots, cubanelle pepper, red/green/orange peppers, and sunflower seeds. Whew. It also was yum!

Today was another delicious food day. My hubby grilled us up some red/green/orange/cubanelle peppers, red and purple potatoes, red onion, and portobello mushrooms. We made wraps and added in broccoli sprouts, pea shoots,mexican cheese, avocado, ranch, and green onion. I loved grilled veggies. They give so much flavor to whatever you are making with them.

We couldn't figure out what we wanted for dinner tonight. My hubby poured me a wine slushy and then he set to work. He made up a recipe for veggie and bean wontons. He sauteed carrot, onion, mushrooms, and  red pepper. He saw I had leftover chickpeas and  edamame so they went in too. He seasoned it with garlic wine seasoning, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, onion powder, seasoned salt, and pepper. He filled the wontons with the sauteed mixture then served them on a bed of spinach,  arugula, broccoli sprouts,  pea shoots, cilantro,  and baby kale. Drizzled on some of our favorite teriyaki sauce and we were all set. The wontons were a definite win. We (ahem, he) will be making these again. Ha!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Quinoa cauliflower cakes

July 18, 2013

I'm sure by now you all know of my love for pasta. Any pasta. All pasta. I went to the pasta cupboard today and found a couple boxes that only had a little bit left. You know, the amount where it would be too much if you had added it the last time you cooked but way too little to cook on its own. I found two boxes that had about the same cook time so I cooked them together today. I had them as one of my favorite childhood comfort foods: pasta, butter, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce. Yum!

I decided to try a new recipe tonight for dinner. I saw a recipe for cauliflower quinoa cakes on A Sun Shiny Day. It is 1 head of cauliflower, 2 cups of cooked quinoa (I used red for the first time tonight), 4 oz cottage cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko), 2 eggs, salt, onion and garlic powder, and parsley. We also added garlic and wine seasoning. The cauliflower is steamed then mashed and added to the other ingredients. Form patties and cook in a little olive oil for 3-5 minutes per side. I sauteed some red onion, mushrooms, cubanelle peppers, and garlic to top the cakes with. We served them with our favorite sauces. My hubby used habanero mustard and hot sauce. I used Country Bob's all purpose sauce (the best steak sauce). My son used ketchup. My daughter didn't use a sauce.

I wanted an easy side dish. I realized that tomorrow is the farmer's market so I wanted to use up the end of some of our veggies. I made a salad with lettuce, baby kale, cucumber, green/red/orange pepper, carrot, red onion, and peas. I saw I still had leftover chickpeas and edamame so I threw some of those on the salad. I topped it off with sunflower seeds. Yum!

The cauliflower quinoa cakes were good but they weren't packed with flavor. They didn't hold together the best either. My hubby wants to try them as a "meat" ball baked in the oven next time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Four cheese lasagna & grocery savings

July 17, 2013

Here we are. Grocery shopping day. Again. My pre-challenge weekly average at the commissary was $175. Today I spent $12.79 on toiletries and cleaners. I spent $7.55 on impulse items. I got a limited edition of nuts/fruit mix, macaroni and cheese, and mini angel food cakes. I spent $92.63 on food. I spent $2.18 on gossip magazines. After adding in their surcharge and taking out my coupons, I spent $116.88 out of pocket. This is a savings of $58.12. My pre-challenge weekly average at restaurants was  $80. This week we ate out once (three of us at Subway and one at McDonald's) and spent $18.04 which is a savings of $61.96. This brings our weekly savings to $120.08! Our grand total savings is now $4,106.98 in 273 days! Yes! I broke the $4,000 mark!

I decided to make a twist on our new lasagna recipe. I had been making a stuffing of onion, mushroom, and spinach to put on a lasagna noodle and roll it up. Today I sauteed up onion, mushrooms, garlic, and baby kale in a little olive oil. I seasoned it with garlic and wine seasoning. I added in some local white wine. I wanted to change up the recipe so I added in a step. I put a block of cream cheese in the food processor along with a handful of black beans (the leftovers I had in the fridge) and a spoonful of my home canned spaghetti sauce. I stirred the cream cheese mix into the veggies. After cooking the noodles, I laid them out and topped them with the veggie mix and then some mozzarella cheese. I rolled up the noodles and put them in a pan that had a light covering of sauce on the bottom. The rolls were then topped with american cheese, mozzarella cheese, and freshly grated parmesan. I baked them at 400 for about 20 minutes then stuck them under the broiler to brown up a bit. I served it up with a simple side of our home canned green beans.

Oh wow. It was delicious. Cream cheese in lasagna is the way to go. Who am I kidding?! Cream cheese in anything is the way to go! My hubby loved the lasagna rolls. Oh and by the way, I was right. No one even noticed the handful of black beans that was in it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The secret to pizza

July 16, 2013

I spent the morning trying to weed my garden. I say trying because it was so hot and my puppy looked too cute. Ha. At least I got some of it done. I didn't feel like cooking lunch so I just ate up the pasta salad leftovers. My hubby packed leftover pasta salad and fajitas. The kids had peanut butter sandwiches.

Now for the star of the day. Dinner. Let me start by saying we love pizza. We have made a ton of homemade pizzas over the years. We have done regular pizza toppings. We have done pulled pork and potato toppings. We have done taco toppings. You name it, we probably made it. However, only today did I realize that we were making pizza wrong. Are you ready to hear the correct way to make pizza?! Grill the toppings! I cut red potatoes, red onion, green/orange/red bell peppers, mushrooms, and poblano pepper. I tossed them in olive oil and sprinkled on some garlic wine seasoning (I got two new bottles in the mail today! Yay!). I cooked them on the grill until they were about half cooked. Normally we make pizza dough in our bread machine but today I didn't take the time to do that. I bought a ball of dough and called it good. I was also out of my homemade pizza sauce so I had to use store bought. I can't wait until summer really gets going so I can make all of my sauces again! We topped the pizza with the sauce, grilled veggies, black olives, plum tomato, mozzarella cheese, and feta cheese.

Wow. After dinner, we kept saying "that was really good". A few minutes later one of us would say "that was really good". Ha. I don't know if the grilled veggies or the seasoning or the feta is what did it (maybe a combo of all three) but it was delicious. It makes sense though. Why put raw veggies on a pizza when you can top it with seasoned veggies that have the smoky flavor of grilling?! Maybe next time we will go all out and even cook it on the grill. Mmmmmm. The only problem is that there is only one piece left!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pasta salad and stuffed mushrooms

July 15, 2013

I am trying to use up leftovers because grocery shopping day is coming soon. There was a grilled portobello mushroom and some grilled onion/peppers. I decided to have a burger. I warmed them up and put on a slice of baby swiss cheese. I found a container of processed black beans and salsa so I added that too. I grabbed a handful of baby kale and half an avocado. I also heated up the rest of the leftover broccolini. The kids got home from their first day of summer camp and they each had a request. My daughter wanted Mrs. Grass soup with an egg added in (kind of like egg drop soup). My son asked for chicken ramen noodles.

My daughter tried a chickpea salad from the deli section of one of the grocery stores this past week. I told her that I could make a batch of something similar. I figured today could be that day. I grabbed a bag of chickpeas out of the freezer and let them thaw. I was out of bell peppers. Oh well. I figured I could just wing it and add in whatever veggies I could find. I added celery, red onion, cucumber, carrots, peas (shelled from farmer's market), edamame, chickpeas, and pasta. I couldn't decide on a dressing so I put the salad into two containers and one got ranch and the other italian. I don't think I have ever added cucumber to pasta salad before. I works surprisingly well.

I didn't want a big heavy dinner so I threw together some stuffed mushrooms. I sauteed onion, garlic, poblano peppers, and the chopped mushroom stems. I added in local red wine and spinach. I seasoned it with adobo. I cooked up some vegetarian bacon and crumbled it on top of the stuffing. I topped them with mozzarella cheese and freshly grated parmesan. They baked at 375 for about 25 minutes. The mushrooms were good but were missing something. Next time they will get a little more seasonings.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Teenage mutant ninja turtle party

July 13 & 14, 2013

What a busy weekend! Yesterday we had our son's 7th birthday party. He wanted to do a teenage mutant ninja turtle theme. My hubby was up for the challenge. He made a turtle cake with his first attempt at fondant. It turned out great! He also put together some turtle apples using fruit by the foot and a little frosting. I'd say he did a good job: my son said it was the most awesome party ever!

My hubby grilled beef burgers for our guests and portobello burgers for us. I made a taco dip out of cream cheese, processed black beans with salsa and taco seasoning, lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, and mexican cheese. I made a pot of baked beans. I got the recipe from my hubby's cousin. They were a quick recipe that is semi homemade. We altered her recipe by adding different beans so feel free to use whatever beans you like. The beans can also be either baked or done in the crock pot. We sauteed some onion. Add in a big can of baked beans (I used a vegetarian one), 16 oz of butter beans (drained), 2 cups of great northern beans (from my freezer), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tsp vinegar, and 1 tsp mustard. I let it simmer on the stovetop for about an hour. My son requested a melon assortment and cookie dough hummus. Ha. I can do that. However, he made up for his great choices yesterday by asking for McDonald's for lunch today. Ugh. Today is his actual birthday so I couldn't say no. My hubby, daughter, and I all had Subway instead.

We ran to the pet store today to get a few things that our new puppy needed. Ahem. Ok, so I wanted. Ha! What good is a new puppy if you can't have new toys and all the cool treats, right?! Then we got to work staining the new tree house my hubby built. Before we knew it, it was 7:30. Ugh. Dinner? My hubby sauteed up some onion, peppers, and mushrooms. I heated up some leftover black beans. We made fajitas and added in cilantro, avocado, baby kale, and ranch. We put the leftovers to use and had some baked beans. The kids also ate up the rest of the cookie dough hummus. They also had peaches, apples, mango, and bread.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mushroom and roasted chickpea marsala

July 12, 2013

We managed to pull ourselves away from our new puppy long enough to make lunch. Ok. So maybe he was at the groomers. Ha. I grilled up some potatoes. I also grilled up a basket of red onion, mushrooms, green/red/yellow peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash. I made a bed of lettuce, spinach, and baby kale. I topped it with cilantro, the veggies, sunflower seeds, avocado, black beans processed with salsa, and a little ranch. This was the first time we had tried baby kale. It was pretty good and added a nice flavor to the salad. I'll be buying that again.

Our puppy got home and of course no one wanted to cook. It was play time! I finally got hungry enough that my stomach won over my need to pet my lil fluffy guy. I grabbed a bag of chickpeas out of the freezer and thawed them in the microwave. I tossed them in olive oil, salted them, and stuck them in the oven at 400 to roast. I steamed a pot of broccolini. It tastes like a cross between asparagus and broccoli. Yum. I decided on a variation of marsala so I threw on a pot of jasmine rice to go along with it. Now on to the marsala. I sauteed some yellow onion in a little olive oil and vegan butter. I added in some garlic, mushrooms, and a handful of frozen green peppers along with some marsala wine. I seasoned it with adobo and salt. After letting it cook down a little, I added in about a quarter cup of marsala wine that I had mixed with a couple tablespoons of flour. We used the roasted chickpeas to add some crunch to our marsala.

What did everyone think of my quick creation? My son didn't like the crunchy chickpeas but said the rest of the sauce was good. My daughter was the opposite. She loved the chickpeas (of course) but said the sauce was just ok. My hubby and I liked it. I think the chickpeas should have been seasoned a little more. My hubby really liked the texture of the chickpeas. That's it for tonight....I need some puppy time!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chicken patty

July 11, 2013

I think that our surprise over us liking the fake bacon yesterday led us to try another new product today.  We tried fake chicken patties for lunch. They are baked with a crispy breading. We added lettuce, cilantro, tomato, red onion, avocado, ranch, and baby swiss cheese. My daughter isn't big on chicken sandwiches but she said that it did taste like chicken. My son said it was ok. The big shocker was that my hubby and I actually liked them. They had a nice texture (probably due to the breading). I will definitely be buying these again.

We ran some errands this afternoon which turned into us somehow ending up at a pet store. After snuggling and falling in love with a sweet little face, we couldn't leave empty handed. We decided to take the little guy home with us. I finally got around to dinner at 7:30 so we settled on just having a quick breakfast. My son had french toast. My daughter, hubby, and I had eggs, toast, and grapes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Facon lettuce tomato

July 10, 2013

One way to tell that you have been on vacation: an empty fridge. Thankfully the commissary was open today. We hit up a farmer's market on our way and found some goodies. I got strawberries, two types of cherries, two types of peaches (one was a donut peach), spinach, romaine, zucchini, cucumber, yellow squash, red/yellow/green pepper, and carrots. Our favorite farmer had a new type of lettuce so we tried that too.

My pre-challenge weekly average at the commissary was $175. Today I spent $24.21 on toiletries/cleaners. I spent $2.49 on impulse items. We decided to try a fake chicken patty for on a sandwich. I spent $106.89 on food. Ugh. We needed a ton plus I had to get a big bottle of vanilla because they were out of the small ones and that alone was $7. I spent $7.98 on gossip magazines. After adding in their surcharge and taking out my coupons, I spent $143.81 out of pocket. This is a savings of only $31.19. My pre-challenge weekly average at restaurants was $80. However, I decided to pay for our food expenses during our vacation (10 days) with my challenge savings so restaurant totals will not be counting against (or for) us this week. Seeing as the kids are out of school and can't pack lunches, that means our only savings for this week is the commissary savings. This brings our grand total savings to $3,986.90 in 266 days!

I told my hubby to look in the freezer and pick one of our fake out meals for tonight. He decided on vegetarian bacon strips. I have been missing having blt's so my fingers were crossed hoping this turned out well! I also grabbed a pack of stuffed mushrooms. We normally make these ourselves but I saw them today and thought it would be great for an easy side. The mushrooms were stuffed with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and spices including garlic, sage, and basil.

My hubby cooked up the facon (ha, fake bacon) while I got the veggies ready. We topped our sandwiches with the new lettuce, spinach, red onion, cucumber, cilantro, avocado, and tomato. My hubby sniffed the facon when he opened the package. "That smells like bacon". Whew. Test number one passed. He cooked up about 8 slices. We all taste tested a small bite. "That tastes bacony". No way. Is it really passing the taste test? Don't get me wrong. You can tell the difference between pork bacon and facon. However, it is a very doable substitute. How can you tell if it is a good substitute? The entire plate disappeared while I was chopping and my hubby was getting the toast ready. Ha. He had to grab more out of the freezer and make another pan full. I asked everyone what they thought. My son said two thumbs up. My daughter said that facon is less crispy but otherwise she really liked it (she stole most of the first plate). My hubby. Oh boy. The man who loves bacon more than most things. More than sunshine. Is there any chance for him to like this? Yep! He said "huh, not too bad being a vegetarian; we'll make this again". Then we listed all the things that we can now add facon to.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back from vacation

July 9, 2013

It's time to get back to the blog. We took a vacation to go visit family and I took a step back from the blog while we were gone. To prepare for vacation, I had to clean out the fridge. I had corn on the cob so I just cut it off the cob and froze it. I read that it didn't need to be blanched if you plan on using it up quickly. I figured I could save myself that step if I used the corn right when we got back. I had part of a poblano pepper. Into the freezer it went. I had a bunch of green onions. All I had to do was chop them up and stick them in a freezer bag. I chopped up half a pack of mushrooms. I threw tinfoil around a pack of portobello mushrooms. I shredded half of a zucchini. All of my goodies went in the freezer.

I wasn't sure how the vacation would go along with us being vegetarian. It definitely made traveling a little harder. Coming across an exit with restaurant signs wasn't very helpful if we didn't already know their menu. We stopped at a Big Boy. They were very accommodating. I got an old favorite sandwich (slim jim) but had them hold the ham and add in peppers and mushrooms. My mom had me plan out what meals we would like to eat while we were home and then she altered them a bit for everyone else. One night, I planned lasagna roll ups (with spinach and mushrooms) so she also made a pan of regular lasagna with hamburger for everyone else. It was nice that we didn't feel like we were "missing out" on anything by eating vegetarian meals. We went to my husband's cousin's house for a night. His wife was great and had a vegetarian friendly bbq get together for us. She made a three bean dish that my daughter loved (I still need to get that recipe), roasted veggies (mushrooms, peppers, asparagus) that were to die for, asian ramen noodle salad, guacamole and salsa, watermelon, etc. We spent one night at The Great Wolf Lodge. I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple vegetarian options on their menu. We tried the portobello fajitas and a portobello sandwich. They were both delicious. Thank you to everyone that helped make our vacation a little easier for us!

Of course we get back to town on the day that the new policy goes into effect at the commissary. Due to the budget, they will be closed on Tuesdays (as well as Mondays). I went to a different grocery store today and grabbed milk, coffee creamer, and a couple things to get us by for today.

I decided to do an easy dinner after being outside working all day catching up on yard work. The kids both wanted peanut butter sandwiches and apples. I wanted dip. I love dip for dinner nights. I mean really. Who doesn't like cream cheese for dinner?! I layered cream cheese then black beans processed with salsa. I took the corn, poblano pepper, and green onions out of the freezer. I also grabbed some frozen red pepper. I sauteed the (thawed) corn, peppers, and garlic in a little olive oil. I spread the veggies on the dip. Next, I covered the top with cheddar cheese, mexican cheese, and the green onion. The dip baked at 400 just to warm up and then went under the broiler for a few minutes. Yum!