Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Seven Secrets....

Happy Wednesday! I was all set to write my blog post this morning, but when I checked my e-mail, my agenda shifted. My brother read my blog and typed up parts of an article in Consumer Reports this month. I thought this would benefit everyone, especially those on a budget or those who are looking to save a few dollars at the grocery store!

Thanks for taking the time to type this up, Eric!

Seven secrets of coupon pros.

First part talks about this woman Nancy who feeds a family of 4 for 10 bucks a week. She's a coupon pro that runs www.GeorgineSaves.com - a website that steer couponers to the best deals.

1.) Get organized. Store coupons in color-coded envelopes, a portable file with dividers, a tabbed binder, or a photo album.

2.) Collect a lot. Nab every coupon that you might use; don't limit yourself to those for products you need now. Look in the usual spots - the Sunday paper, coupon packs sent in the mail - but also check the manufacturer websites and giant coupon sites including www.Coupons.com, www.CoolSavings.com, and GrocerySmarts.com.

3.) Stack coupons. Stacking, a top strategy of coupon enthusiasts, means redeeming at least two coupons - one from the manufacturer and one from the store - on a single purchase. Manufacturers and grocery stores don't necessarily offer coupons for the same items at the same time. The trick is to hold onto manufacturers coupons until your store offers coupons for the same product.

4.) Be smart online. Set up a separate e-mail account for couponing. You have to register at most sites before you can print out coupons, and once you do you'll be bombarded with spam. Be selective about which online coupons you print, or you'll spend too much on ink and paper. Because manufacturers can discontinue online coupons at any time, print them close to when you intend to use them.

5.) Look beyond the supermarket. In 2009 about 1.2 billion coupons - a third of all redeemed - were for nonfood products such as paper goods, cleaning supplies, and personal-care items. You can often find deals on those products at big discount stores, drugstores, and even dollar stores, most of which accept coupons. Many drugstore chains distribute their own coupons, CVS has a strong coupon program tied to its loyalty card. Target distributes its own coupons.

6.) Get coupons for favorite brands. Use Facebook or Twitter to sign up with a favorite brand and receive coupons and offers not available elsewhere. Here's another way to find coupons for specific brands: Do an Internet search for the brand name and "coupons" or "discount coupons." When you find a good deal on a favorite, stock up.

7.) Stay on track. Don't use the cash you've saved to splurge on unnecessary extras. Instead, put it in a jar. Watching the savings grow can motivate you to keep clipping.

Other - clipping coupons in the store
While shopping, look for:

Blinkies, those small red boxes with blinking lights; or "pop-up boxes," which lack lights.
Tear pads, often near battery kiosks and the like, or on freezer doors.
Peelies, stuck on the product, which you hand to a clerk.
Wine tags, which may be slipped over the neck of any bottle, not just wine
Cataline coupons (created by Catalina Marketing) which print out with your receipt. Some Cats offer $5 or $10 off the next purchase of any store item.

Doesn't my brother rock? It was so cool of him to send this to me.

Today's cheap week suggestion is to stack up on free samples!! Over the weekend, the hubby and I tried another one of the Nature's Pride rolls that we received from Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program.


The Country White Deli Rolls

Judging by the size of these guys, I think they'd make an excellent base for a hoagie.

Bigger than a hot dog bun - and much tastier too!

We ended up making scrambled egg sandwiches with the deli rolls. They were delish!! The soft, doughy texture was absolutely perfect. Another win in my book from Nature's Pride!


Question of the Day:
Do you use coupons?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cheap Week, Day 2

I loved reading about how you stay in budget in yesterday's post. There were some really great suggestions offered-thank you!

I talked to the husband yesterday about making more vegetarian meals and he thought it would be a great idea to help keep us on budget. Life is so much easier when he's on board with my thinking!

Of course, one of the first things he asked was if we could make more pasta during the week. I was one step ahead of him and told him that baked ziti was on our menu this week.


Pasta=love in my family.



Yum!

I'm going to have to branch out and make other pasta recipes besides baked ziti. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite pasta dish! Ideas and recipes appreciated!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cheap Week

Hello loves!

If it was Really Cookin' Week , this week is On the Cheap Week! The hubby and I are trying to get on board with a budget, especially with a baby on the way. We realized that for two people, we spend a lot on food. It's the one place in our budget where we can cut back, so we're doing the best we can to decrease the food budget by $100 this month. This most likely means more pasta (which can never be a bad thing!) and more vegetarian dishes. So far, we're on track!

This week, I made some chili parmesan chicken. I mixed together chili powder and parmesan cheese, coated the chicken and baked until it was cooked through.


Yum!

Question of the Day:
Do you have a food budget? I'd love to hear some of your tips for eating healthy while on budget!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

I'm gonna cut right to it - today, I'm thankful for making good choices. People ask me what I crave most while being pregnant, and the answer really is nothing too out of the ordinary. During the first three months, all I wanted were carbs to keep my tummy from getting too upset. I have found myself wanting ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate, but I always want those things, and can't really attribute them to pregnancy.

Well, that all took a turn the last two weeks, when I've been having one thing on my mind.....


[Source]
A cheesesteak hoagie.

I normally don't crave cheesesteaks, but that's all I've been wanting lately. Today, I'm thankful that I made the choice to pack my lunch instead of walk to the nearest lunch truck to buy a cheesesteak. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that I'll eventually eat the cheesesteak that I've been craving, but today is not the day. Today, I'm choosing to put good foods into my body for the sake of the baby.

Tomorrow? Well, that might be another story!

Question of the Day;
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

P.S. I'm taking the day off from blogging tomorrow. I have to get a routine glucose test in the morning and then the hubby and I have some plans to attend to. I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nature's Pride Whole Wheat Rolls

Happy Wednesday!

As part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program, I was sent some hamburger and sandwich buns to review.

Since the hubby and I have only tried the 100% whole wheat bakery buns, I thought I'd start with that and keep the reviews coming with the other two buns when we've eaten them.

Looks yummy!

The first thing the husband and I commented on was the size of the buns. They are huge compared to a regular sized hamburger bun.

See what I mean?
What I loved about these right off the bat was the ingredients and the fact that they have 36 grams of whole grains per serving. The hubby and I used Boca Burgers to test out the bun. What we noticed was that there was a really wholesome taste to them. The rolls tasted incredibly fresh (even though we took them out of the freezer) and were very filling. The best part was that the roll lasted until the very last bite. The husband always complains that with regular sized hamburger buns, he's constantly pushing the burger upwards to match up with the bun because the bun slides all over the place. I know that sounds weird, but I know that someone has to understand what I'm talking about!
I would love to find them in stores and buy them, but my thought is that they are probably on the expensive side. I'll definitely keep my eyes out for when they are on sale!
Question of the Day:
Hamburgers or hot dogs? If you're vegan or vegetarian, do you prefer a veggie dog or a veggie burger?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spaghetti Pizza

Spaghetti and pizza....two of my favorite things in the world. When I found a recipe for spaghetti pizza, I knew I had to make it fast!

I started off with a box of whole wheat spaghetti strands that I had broken up and cooked in a pot. While that was cooking, I mixed together some mozzarella cheese, two egg whites, one egg and some seasoning.


I may have gone a little overboard on the seasoning.

After the spaghetti was cooked, I mixed the egg/egg white mixture and the spaghetti together, making sure that everything was coated. Next, I put it in a 9x13 pan.



It baked in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

After it was done, I turned the oven down to 350 degrees, poured some marinara sauce on top and added more mozzarella cheese.


Baked for another 30 minutes.

After it was finished, it looked like this:


Amazing, no?

The recipe called for 2 ounces of pepperoni, but I omitted it. Next time, I'll give it a try with the pepperoni.


The husband's piece.

Oh my goodness was this amazing. I can't believe that this was a Weight Watchers recipe....not that they don't normally taste good, but I was seriously impressed with this one! I'm normally used to baked ziti, and this was such a nice change from the "normal" stuff. I'll definitely be making this again!

Question of the Day:
What are some of your favorite foods?

Until next time!

~Anne Marie









Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday!

This is a four day work week for me, and I couldn't be happier. I think all work weeks should be four days!

I had so much fun over the weekend. On Friday, the husband was working in the baby's room while I was making meals. We're getting carpet installed tomorrow, and some of the floorboards squeak. He was trying to screw some nails into the boards to help with the noise, but I don't think it worked too well.

Saturday I hung out with my mom, aunt and grandmom and had a great time. There's something about those ladies that have me cracking up every time I'm with them. I love, love, love hanging out with them!

Sunday was a pretty relaxing day. The hubby and I hung out for a while and then we went to visit my father-in-law for Father's Day. And now, here I am, back at work and ready to start the day!

Even though I've made this before, I was craving it again.....


Mrs. Dash Chicken.
I mean really, how much easier can it be to sprinkle on some seasoning and come out with a really great tasting piece of chicken?
Question of the Day:
Who's the person in your life who constantly keeps you laughing?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, June 18, 2010

Trying it Again

Growing up, one of the meals we ate on a semi-regular basis was pork. Not only is it a lean cut of meat, but you can often get a good deal when it's on sale. When the husband and I were dating, I made a pork dish for him once and, even though he didn't complain, I could tell that it wasn't his cup of tea.

Flash forward a few years later, and I decided to try it again. I bought a package of boneless pork chops and decided that the best way to cook it was to bread it and bake it just like chicken cutlet.


The breadcrumb and egg dipping bowls.

I coated the pork chops and laid them out in a pan.


I baked them for about 20 minutes or so because they were so tiny.


Served with jambalaya rice!

The husband really enjoyed this meal and requested that we eat it more often. Score one for me! I guess when all else fails, try things again with a different twist!

Question of the Day:
Any fun weekend plans?

For once, I don't have too much going on this weekend. I'm hoping to get some R&R!

Until next time!

~Anne Marie

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Something that you may not know about me is my love for music. Music is a powerful venue that can bring back memories within the first few notes of a song. Sometimes I can find a song that better describes my life better than I can. One of the bands that I really admire is Hanson. They are such amazing singers and songwriters, and their music is something that I can really relate to.

Today, I am thankful for their new album.

Shout it Out!

I've been listening to this album almost non-stop and I'm completely in love with it.

Fun fact (or really not so fun for me): Hanson's coming to Philly in July, and this is the first time in 12 years that I am missing a tour. I figure 7 month preggo lady + a non-seated venue=no concert for me.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meatloaf Days

I won't deny it....I love meatloaf. I don't know what it is, but it's something that I really enjoy. I remember growing up and hating meatloaf night, but I guess my taste buds have changed since then.

I use ground turkey instead of ground beef and I use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs. It sounds weird, I know, but it's a good way to cut the fat without sacrificing the taste.

My favorite part of making meatloaf? Mixing the ingredients with my hands. What can I say? I'm strange, I know!

After the meatloaf is done baking, it should look something like this:

See the pieces of oatmeal? I swear, you can't taste them!

Question of the Day:

Is there something you didn't like as a kid but enjoy now?

Until next time!

~Anne Marie

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baking Away

On most days of the week, the husband's breakfast consists of the following: cottage cheese with a banana and 3 cinnamon graham crackers mixed in, a muffin, fiber one bar and a glass of orange juice. How he stays so thin, I'll never ever know!
I don't mind buying muffins, but sometimes they can get really expensive, and, not to mention, they aren't the greatest for you. Even though the husband isn't watching his weight (and is one of the healthiest eaters that I know), I'd rather put homemade muffins on his plate than the store bought kind.
I food shopped at Aldi's last week and came across this gem of an item.

All purpose baking mix.
I immediately grabbed the box and put it in my cart. For $1.79, I realized I could make tons and tons of muffins that have got to be better for him than the store bought kind. Even though it took some extra time to whip these up, it was definitely worth the effort.
I also bought some frozen blueberries to add to the muffins.
I could eat them right out of the bag!
I mixed all of the ingredients together and then folded in the blueberries.
The mixture started to turn purple shortly after this shot.

The box said that it made 6 muffins, but I easily got 7 muffins out of the mix. Had I been making these for myself, I would've made smaller muffins and filled the entire tin.

See what I mean? Look how filled up they are!
The house smelled so amazing for the 20 minutes that they were in the oven.
Yum!
The husband tried one as soon as it cooled down and said that he loved them.
Score one for me! I don't know if I'll ever be buying the store bought muffins again. These were way too simple to make!
Question of the Day:
Do you eat muffins? What's your favorite kind?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, June 14, 2010

Really Cookin' Week

Happy (muggy) Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Here we are at another work week!

I'm not sure what got into me this weekend when I decided to make meals, but I thought it was time to "really" cook in the kitchen. By this, I mean doing all the chopping, dicing, dirtying dishes....all the things that make a cooking experience worthwhile. You know what I mean....when, at the end of the making all the meals, your sink looks like this.

Lately, I've been stuck in a rut of turning out fast meals and throwing together "this and that" for lunch. While it's been working and has been saving me time, part of me misses the messy sink. There's something about preparing your food, actually doing the chopping, sauteing, etc. that makes me feel like I'm doing something good for myself, the baby on the way and the husband. This week, you'll see lots and lots of "real" cooking.

Before I started the blog, I had a habit of chopping up a bunch of peppers, adding some hot sauce, and throwing it all together in a wrap for lunch. I'm so glad that I've gotten a craving for this again because not only is it healthy, but it's filling, and I love it.

This time, I thought I'd vary up the ingredients a little bit and make it even better.


Two peppers, a can of black beans, zucchini and a tomato.

I chopped everything up except the tomato and cooked it in a pan until the veggies were soft. At that point, I added a ton of hot sauce and the tomatoes and cooked them down for a few minutes.


Not the most appetizing picture, but I promise, it tastes awesome!

I usually use red and yellow peppers to make it prettier, but green peppers were all I had on hand, and it worked out well.

Question of the Day:
What's a typical lunch for you?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beefaroni....Lightened Up

Happy Friday! I'm so excited that we're at the end of the week. I don't know about you, but I love looking forward to the weekend, and then somehow, the weekend flies by!

Since beginning Weight Watchers in 2006, something that I've learned about is substituting healthier foods for unhealthy foods without sacrificing taste. That's exactly what I did when I made a healthier version of beefaroni this week for dinner.

I cut up one onion and green pepper and threw it in a skillet with 1 lb of ground turkey. Once the turkey was cooked, I added 15 oz of marinara sauce.


Simmering away.

I cooked 8oz of whole wheat pasta and in the meantime, spread the meat/pepper/onion mixture in a 9x13 pan.



I topped the mixture with the cooked pasta and added a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.



After it was done baking, it looked like this.
There you have it....healthier comfort food without sacrificing taste. Mission accomplished!
Question of the Day:
What are some changes you've made to recipes to make them healthier?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

I know I am thankful for family a lot of my Thursdays, and this one is no exception. This past week, my mom and aunt have been more than amazing in helping me sift through some questions and concerns I have about some things.


Mom's in the back on the left and Aunt Nette is in the back on the right.

My family always amazes me by how much we all come through for one another. Their love is overwhelming, and I love them for that.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Done Differently

Happy Wednesday! I can't believe we're half way through the work week already. That's so exciting!

If you've been reading the blog for some time, you'll notice that I tend to repeat meals a lot. Before the blog started, I actually cooked on a two week rotation schedule, which made things much easier. The hubby and I have been going back and forth about resurrecting the two week meal plan when the baby gets here, but I have yet to commit to anything.

Last night's meal, although it was a repeat, was cooked differently. Sometimes I like to try old favorites a different way, and this was exactly what happened when I made buffalo chicken.

Usually, I combine fat free blue cheese and hot sauce, pour it over the chicken and bake it. While this is a good method, I found that the sauce is too runny and doesn't stick to the chicken.

I decided that this time, I would bake the chicken sans sauce and add it at the end, when it was ready to be stored in the fridge.

The result?



Perfectly coated, thick sauced buffalo chicken. It rocked!

Question of the Day:
Do you plan your meals for the week 0r cook whatever you feel like eating that day? If it's the latter, how do you grocery shop without knowing what you'll want?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yummy Tortellini

About a month ago, I received a free coupon from Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program for a free Buitoni product. I was finally able to redeem my coupon this weekend and picked out the Spinach and Cheese Tortellini.

Excuse the "I'm frozen" package the tortellini is in. I bought it fresh, but had to freeze it because I didn't want it to expire.
I wasn't sure if it would be enough to feed the hubby and I (even though the package said around 3 servings or so, the hubby and I LOVE our pasta!), so I picked up another brand of tortellini and threw it into the mix.

Cooking away.
I was really excited to try the spinach tortellini, and even more excited that I could compare the fresh Buitoni pasta with the shelf-stable pasta.

I added some marinara sauce and called it a meal.
The result? The Buitoni spinach and cheese tortellini was a winner by a long shot! It definitely had that fresh pasta taste, and I could taste the spinach in it! I'd definitely buy these again when they go on sale - they are pretty pricey, in my opinion!
*As a side note, nothing compares to my grandmom's green spaghetti, but this was a great substitute for it!
Question of the Day:
Have you ever tried fresh pasta?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, June 7, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Happy Monday!

Today started off pretty crazy at work. My computer was upgraded to Windows 7 right before I left work on Friday, and this morning there were so many problems that I didn't get to start working until 10:30. I came in at 8:00, so I did some crosswords and minor stuff that didn't involve using the computer.

I figure getting this post up now is better late than never.

I wanted to highlight two awesome parts of my mom's Memorial Day BBQ. Yes, it was last weekend, but I forgot my USB cord, so I apologize for the delay!

Awesome part number 1: The spareribs. My older brother taught my younger brother how to make them and they turned out fabulous.



Awesome part number 2: My mom's mozzarella and tomato rolled concoction.



Pretty, no?

This food screams summer to me, and I can't get enough of it!

Question of the day:
What's your favorite BBQ food?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm Done!

Done what, you may ask? School for the semester! YAY! I just submitted my final exam a few minutes ago and already feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for my grades. Since the baby is coming in September, I decided not to take any summer classes and just enjoy this time as much as possible.

Something I'm not done with yet is this batch of chili sitting in my fridge. The hubby and I are having it for dinner, and I'm thinking we'll finish it up by tonight.

In the mix went cooked extra leaned ground turkey, a bag of thawed peppers and onions, two cans of kidney beans, two big cans of crushed tomatoes and tons of seasonings!

I tried to get an up close shot but it just came out blurry.
Even though it's so hot outside, I still like warm, comforting meals in the comfort of my air conditioned house.
Question of the Day:
Do you eat hot food when it's hot outside?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I can't believe we're at a Thankful Thursday post already! I guess that's what happens between short weeks and forgetting your USB cord. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE short weeks? I think work places should give us three day weekends more often.

Today, I am thankful for old friendships.


Me and Ali at My Best Friend's Wedding

Ali and I met in high school. She was a year behind my best friend and I, but from the moment we met, we really hit it off. About 6 years ago, Ali moved to Kansas to be with her family. Last Saturday was the first time I had seen her in 6 years!! I couldn't believe how quickly the time had passed, but it was amazing to pick up right where we left off. Ali is such an inspirational person, and she has a great head on her shoulders. It's times like these that make me thankful for the friendships in my life. I miss her so much already, and it's only been a few days since I've seen her!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

On Saturday, my best friend tied the knot! She and Ryan had been dating for 4 years before they got engaged and 6 years by the time they were married. It was fun to see Meg so happy. Things went off without a hitch, and the weather was perfect! I've known Meg since our freshman year of high school - I can't believe how old we're getting!

A cool fact: An ex-boyfriend and I set these two up.

Love this one of them.


Bouquet toss!
Little known fact: The groom hates having his picture taken. Thankfully, he decided to suck it up for one day and posed for a picture with the hubby, me and his beautiful bride.


Taking a break from all the dancing!

Best friends for 15 years!
Professional picture - waiting for the bride to finish getting ready.
Congrats Megan and Ryan!
Question of the Day:
Weddings-love em, hate em.....indifferent?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie