Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crock pot potato soup

Happy late Thanksgiving! I 'm a little late I know. Since we traveled to Arizona to celebrate Thanksgiving  this year, I didn't make anything for dinner. Last year I made a pecan pie and brought it but this year I had too many things going on. I did however buy three, 10 pound bags of potatoes. They were on sale for 99cents each. The question now is what to do with them all. So, I decided to try one of the many crock pot soup recipes I've been looking at. I tried this recipe from Hannah.  It was so easy and delicious. It does make a lot of leftovers though. I would recommend cutting the recipe in half if you are making it for two.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

5 pounds russet potatoes, diced, NOT Peeled
5 Tbsp TS Garlic Garlic  (I don't have garlic garlic so I used 2 Tbsp Garlic salt and 1 Tbsp garlic powder)
1 large onion, chopped
64 oz chicken broth or stock
16 oz cream cheese
bacon, sour cream, chives, or shredded cheese for toppings

Combine first 4 ingredients in your crock pot, cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5. Purée soup in food processor with cream cheese. (I don't have a food processor and I didn't want to use a blender so I just put the cream cheese into the crock pot and used a hand mixer. It worked great. It left a few chunks but I thought it tasted really good that way.) Serve warm topped with bacon, sour cream, shredded cheese & chives.

This recipe is pretty easy and it tastes really yummy. I was happy to find a way to use 5 of the 30 pounds of potatoes I bought.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Extreme Couponing

Have any of you seen the show Extreme Couponing? Well, lets just say I loved it and I watched every episode there was to see on Netflix and now I want to be an extreme couponer. Not seriously, but I thought that I would probably save a lot more money if I would look at the sales for the week and compare it to the coupons I have. I usually just use a few random coupons every time I go to the store. But, I decided to go to the grocery store with a plan. So, here is what I did. If any of you live in Southern California, I go to Ralphs, which I believe is a Kroger grocery store.

They have a deal, buy 5 items, get $5.00 off at the register.
So, I went to where you can print out coupons and found the items that were part of the 10 items that are already on sale.

1. marshmallows- on sale for $0.69- use coupon .50 off two bags of Kraft marshmallows
only $0.44 a bag after coupon

2. stovetop- on sale for $0.88 each- use coupon $1.00 off any 2
only $0.38 each after coupon

3. cream of chicken or mushroom soup- on sale for $0.69- use coupon save $1.00 on any 4
only $0.44 each after coupon

With some of these coupons, they say "Walmart" on them. They are manufacturer's coupons, when they print, they will not say Walmart on them and you can use them anywhere you want. Don't let it dissuade you from printing it.

One thing I learned while trying to be an "extreme couponer"... is that you can use "manufacturer's coupons anywhere. If you look at the top left corner of your coupons, they will either say manufacturer's coupon or store coupon. Sometimes coupons will print at the register when I'm at Albertson's for example and as long as they say "manufacturer's coupon at the top, I can use it at any grocery store I want. It's also nice because I get coupons in the mail from Ralph's all the time and most of them say manufacturer's coupon on the top, so they are accepted at any grocery store. One lady at the register looked at me yesterday when I handed her a coupon that said Ralph's at the bottom, but I told her it was a manufacturer's coupon and it should work so she scanned it and it worked.  YAY!!!

I don't think I'll ever have the courage to ring up a grocery bill any where near what they do on Extreme Couponing but I hope to start shopping a little smarter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PF Chang's Mongolian Beef

I absolutely love PF Chang's. I love their lettuce wraps and especially their Mongolian Beef. I decided to try a copy cat recipe. It was delicious! Leftovers were gone by Monday afternoon. This recipe was also very easy, which makes me love it even more. It didn't have any of those questionable ingredients either. You know, those ones where you wonder if you will ever use it again for anything else. So, overall it was a great recipe and I made it in just 45 minutes. I got the recipe from Six Sister's Stuff

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil , for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak
¼ cup cornstarch
2 large green onions, chopped


Heat 2 tsp. of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Don't get the oil too hot.
Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.
Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.  Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef.  Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.  As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté until brown. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.  After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels.  Dab excess oil off meat with a paper towel and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it.  Put the pan back on the oven over medium/low heat.  Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. Serve over rice.

I also steamed broccoli and added it on the side. You can put it into the sauce with the beef as well if you want to give it more flavor. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bow Tie Themed Baby Shower

I helped throw my first baby shower a couple of weeks ago. It was awesome. There were about 5 girls that all pitched in to help throw it. I think it turned out adorable. We had a bow tie theme. My friend Wendi made the invitations that were so darling. I meant to take a picture of my invitation but I forgot. But, you can order them here if you would like. I made baby bow tie onesies to match the gray, blue and red invitation color scheme and my friend Alicia pinned them and turned them into a banner to hang over the mantle. I made small bowties out of felt. I just used a hot glue gun. Then I sewed one snap onto the onesie and hot glued the other snap onto the bow. That way, you can unsnap the bowtie and throw the onesie in the wash. They were really simple and easy to  make. I think I might try to make more using cute fabric next time. I'll let you know how that goes.
For the food, Wendi made the food labels with the same bow tie scheme. We had, blue frothy punch, pineapple and strawberry mini skewers with fruit dip, vegetables with hummus, blue and red cupcakes and water bottles with cute bow tie paper around them. My friend Christi also made the bow tie back drop behind the table. Sorry the pictures aren't very good. There was a lot of light coming through that window. I made the fruit skewers and the fruit dip as well as the blue frothy punch. I had bought white ducks to float in the punch and I had made mini bow ties and hot glued it on their necks, but they fell off. I should have used super glue. So, we had a duckless punch. 

Here is the recipe: 
 1 pkg berry blue unsweetened Kool-Aid
 1-2 liter Sprite
 1-64 oz white cranberry juice
 8 scoops vanilla ice cream
 1 c sugar, or to taste 
 In a large punch bowl, stir together the Kool-Aid, Sprite and cranberry juice. Stir in sugar to taste. (I used the full cup) Float scoops of ice cream on the top. The ice cream melts somewhat and turns the punch a beautiful baby blue color with frothy white clouds floating on the top.

The night before the baby shower I was lying in bed and I thought,  I should probably stick the sprite and cranberry juice in the refrigerator. I would recommend this. The ice cream still made the punch frothy with the liquids already cold. 

The fruit dip for the pineapple and strawberries was to die for! A friend of mine gave me the recipe in a text. That's how easy it is. She said that it is best with pineapples and strawberries so that's what I got but I also tried bananas and it was good with that as well. 

Mother's macaroons
2 cups greek yogurt or sour cream
2 cups brown sugar

I made mine with greek yogurt and it was really yummy. Mix two cups of the greek yogurt or sour cream with two cups of brown sugar. Add crumbled cookie pieces. Chill and serve. I doubled my recipe and still only used half of the macaroons. It's up to you how much macaroons you would like to put in. And viola! 

I think it was a successful baby shower. It's always fun to buy or make cute baby things. They are so precious. I wish Crystal and John the best of luck with their new baby Thor.