30 August 2009

If You Could Deep Fry Heaven ....

It might taste like a deep fried brownie dusted with powdered sugar. One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten (and it's a good thing I can't get another one until next year).

Went to the Terryville Fair and saw more ships and coo-beasties!

29 August 2009

Kashi Coupon Madness

I am not the thriftiest shopper. I only clip coupons for items I already use and am not likely to ever switch brand-allegiance because of a coupon or sale. If I can combine my coupons with a sale, I am chuffed, but I won't drive to a grocery store on the other side of the city to increase my savings. I will bulk buy if the savings seems especially good and am as big a sucker for a 10/10 sale as the next shopper, but I have yet (yet) to turn my basement into a second pantry.

All that said, about six months ago I started purchasing coupons off eBay. I had read an article about women who supplemented their incomes by selling coupons on eBay and while I wondered at the economics involved, I was also extremely excited by this information. Coupons on eBay! A lot of the products I purchase don't go on sale for very great prices and almost never have coupons. If I could find more coupons ... well, think of all the frozen Kashi products I could buy!

We had been consuming a lot of Kashi frozen pizzas and pockets at that time and while the sales savings were good, I wondered if I could score some coupons and save even more ... so off to eBay I went to see if coupons for Kashi frozen food even existed. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they did and I ended up with a whole pile of dirt cheap coupons for fantastic savings.

My last batch of Kashi coupons was due to expire September 1st so I did a "big" shop this weekend (the freezer needed restocking, anyway). As you can see from the receipt, I lucked out a bit as the pizzas were on sale. I think, combining the sales and coupon savings, it works out to sixty percent off each pizza. Huzzah. Also, Stop & Shop was running a promotion where, with every $6 of participating Kashi merchandise I purchased, $2 would be deducted from my transaction. I saved $6 more dollars.

When we return from vacation, I am buying more coupons! Kashi, definitely, and some Amy's, if I can get them.

(I do belong to the Kashi "community" and receive coupons for being a member, but they're almost always for crackers or cereal).

28 August 2009

Pantry Raid: Tomato Sauce

Ordering the case of canning tomatoes last weekend reminded me that I had quite a number of 28-oz jars of crushed tomatoes in our pantry with some tomato paste and a packet of spaghetti sauce mix (bought, many months ago, to make a casserole I promptly lost the recipe for). Then, I also remembered the sweet Italian sausage links and lean ground beef in our freezer ... obviously, I had to make sauce!

Tortellini w/ (Easy) Meaty Sauce

Easy Meaty Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb sweet Italian sausage links, thawed and removed from casings
1/2 lb lean ground beef, thawed
2 28-oz cans Muir Glen Crushed Tomatoes with basil
1 14-oz can Muir Glen No Salt Added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 envelope McCormick Italian-Style Spaghetti Sauce Mix
1 6-oz can Muir Glen tomato paste

Heat oil in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic and cook until shallot becomes translucent. Add meat and cook until no longer pink. Drain meat in a paper towel-lined colander. Return to pan. Add tomatoes and spaghetti sauce mix and simmer, covered, for about thirty minutes. Add tomato paste. Stir well and cook thirty minutes more. Allow sauce to cool. Parcel out into quart bags and freeze.
This recipe worked out really well! The sauce was rich and meaty with just the right amount of seasoning. (Good thing it tastes so nice, because the recipe made almost four quarts worth of sauce).

As an aside, I was excited to discover I could order Muir Glen tomato products by the case from Amazon. The price is less than what I would pay per can at the grocery store and less per case than what I would pay if ordering directly from Muir Glen. And almost every single case qualifies for free shipping! And if I order through Amazon's Subscribe & Save, I'll automatically receive a new shipment at intervals of my choosing and save an extra fifteen percent per case (shipping remains free)!

You have no idea how chuffed I am with the possibilities. Cases of Muir Glen tomato products at my door every six three months? Lovely jubbly!

27 August 2009

Chocolate Cupcake Goodness

Prepared a batch of King Arthur Flour's "Deliciously Simple Chocolate Cake Mix" (used the optional cup of chocolate chips) and frosted the chocolaty darlings with a batch of "Chocolate-Fudge Frosting Mix" (used half shortening and half butter, as recommended, and flavored it with mint extract). Yielded twenty deliciously chocolaty and fluffy cupcakes -- which was a nice average, really, as the mix box read "15 cupcakes" and the website's product description reads "yields 2 dozen standard-size cupcakes."

KAF Chocolate Cupcake w/ Chocolate Frosting

Next time I make these, I will use orange extract in the frosting for a Terry's Chocolate Orange kind of flavor. Oo, and then I could top each cupcake with an adorable orange peel twist ...

(Yes, been back from Vermont less than two weeks and I'm already burning my way through my King Arthur stash. Oh, so terrible! We'll just have to go back for my birthday!)

24 August 2009

Picnic On My Plate

I had planned to make Betty Crocker's "Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken" for Sunday supper, but a late lie-in meant I didn't have time to spend ten hours on chicken. Oh well, there's always next week!

Inside of ten-hour chicken, I made Pillsbury's "Ultimate Barbecue-Rubbed Chicken" which is an incredibly easy and nutritious chicken dish -- just make a simple rub from brown sugar, paprika, cumin, garlic salt (or garlic powder, if you're avoiding salt), and chili powder. Rub mixture into chicken, grill, and eat. That's it! From fridge to plate in twenty minutes.

Picnic On My Plate

Served the grilled chicken with my mom's potato salad and really delicious super fresh local corn. We "discovered" Kandy Korn at our local farm stand late last summer and have been (im)patiently waiting for it to come back into season. If crack were corn, it would be Kandy Korn. I thought Silver Queen was all that, but it's not.

(I did let my chicken rest in the fridge for about an hour between rubbing and grilling to let the flavors set. Did this make a difference, flavor-wise? I have no idea, but I like to think it did).

23 August 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Twenty-Four

Time for Menu Plan Monday! Trying to get by with as little shopping as possible this week -- going to Washington, D.C. next week and expect to be very spendyspendy in our nation's capital so must try to save a little money now. Yes, while most everything we want to see is free, meals and souvenirs books are most assuredly not.

So what's in my kitchen to get us through the week? A lot of pasta, frozen vegetables, and tinned clams. And jam. Lots and lots of jam. And pickles. And salad dressing. (Oh, condiments, I must love you).


  • Cold leftover grilled chicken and pasta salad (pantry pasta, freezer peas and corn, chopped red onion, celery, garden parsley, light mayonnaise, black pepper, and Garlic Garlic) with chopped cucumbers and garden cherry tomatoes in light Italian.

Tuesday (work)

  • Leftover pasta salad with "ambrosia" (2% Greek yoghurt, tinned pineapple chunks, tinned mandarin orange segments, flaked coconut, vanilla, smidge of Splenda), and Kashi TLC crackers.


  • Mushroom and cheese pirogi (from freezer), boiled and then sautéed with onion in olive oil until browned. Top with 2% Greek yoghurt and serve with peas (from freezer) and shredded pickled beets.

Thursday (work)

  • Last of the leftover pasta salad with banana, Cabot Hunter's Sharp cheddar chunks, and Kashi TLC crackers.
  • Linguine with clam sauce (tinned clams from pantry, lemon juice, parsley from garden, Garlic Garlic, black pepper, a little butter, and low-sodium chicken broth) and French-cut tinned green beans.


  • Going to the Terryville Lions Country Fair to see the ships and coo-beasties (can't get enough of the coo-beasties!). Will again fill up on fried food and root beer and thus need no supper!


  • Sausage (from freezer -- thawed and crumbled) and tomato sauce (last of homemade, from freezer) on pasta with peas (from freezer).
I may be crazy to be doing this just before vacation, but I asked the farm stand up the road to set aside a case of canning tomatoes for me so I can restock the freezer with slow cooker tomato sauce next weekend! It's probably not cost-effective or energy-efficient, but I like doing it.

22 August 2009

Ships & Coo-Beasties

Went to the Wolcott Country Fair and saw the animals ... seriously, who needs a midway when there are wee piglets to see?

21 August 2009

Chicken & Posh Squash

Recently I made "Mediterranean Chicken & Vegetables" from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks #335 (Money Saving Meals). The recipe is pretty straight forward and could easily be adapted to use many different summer vegetables.

Chicken & Zucchini (Courgette)

Ingredients: chicken thighs, zucchini (courgette, if you want to be posh), bell pepper, red onion, dried rosemary, olive oil, lemon juice, S&P.

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand and the amount of energy I wished to expend. I:
  • Used boneless skinless chicken thighs, instead of bone-in, skin-on ones
  • Crushed the garlic rather than chopped it (smash with knife or go choppychoppy? Hulk smash!)
  • Omitted the red potato, because I chopped all the veg the night before
  • Also made the marinade the night before
  • Baked everything all higgledy-piggledy in the pan rather than separating the chicken from the vegetables
(The recipe was all insistent the ingredients not marinate more than six hours so I went with 4.5, but I don't see why the chicken couldn't marinate overnight).

Overall, we liked this recipe. It was all garlicky and lemony and good and we will be eating it again. Next time, I might even throw in some halved cherry or plum tomatoes just before I pop the pan in the oven.

18 August 2009

Chicken Thighs & Tomatoes

In a rush Monday morning, I forgot to trim the chicken thighs and set them in light Italian dressing to marinate ...

When I came home from work, I turned the oven on to 400, started the rice cooker (long grain white, parsley, and low sodium chicken), and trimmed the chicken thighs. Then I tossed the thighs with halved plum and cherry tomatoes from the garden, chopped red onion, olive oil, and Tastefully Simple's Garlic Garlic. Baked everything, uncovered for 45 minutes. Served the chicken and tomatoes over parsley rice and all was yumminess.

Baked Chicken Thighs & Tomatoes

The chicken was tender and moist, the vegetables so sweet, and the aroma ... if I could have eaten the air, if I would have!

17 August 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Twenty-Three

Time for Menu Plan Monday! Home from our mini-holiday in Vermont and ready to get back to normal life (for a couple weeks, anyway!). Pretty much every meal this week uses cherry tomatoes as my plants are still fruiting like mad and I'm dead set on not wasting one tomato.

The lettuce, alas, is done, and the squash plants keep sending out runners and blossoming, but no fruit yet .... happily my mini bell pepper plants are covered in 3-inch fruit, some of which will be ready for picking by the end of the week!


  • Skinless bone-in chicken thighs marinated in light Italian and baked with halved cherry tomatoes. Served with parsley rice.

Tuesday (work)

  • Doctored "Suddenly Salad" with tuna, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and shredded carrots. Plus Kashi TLC crackers and pineapple.


  • "Braised Sausage & Beans" from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks #335 Money Saving Meals with cucumber & cherry tomato salad. Ingredients: onion, garlic, frozen carrots, cooked kielbasa (from freezer), great northern beans, chicken broth, thyme.

Thursday (work)

  • Leftovers from Wednesday with more Kashi TLC crackers and pineapple.
  • "Mediterranean Chicken & Vegetables" from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks #335 Money Saving Meals. Ingredients: chicken thighs, zucchini, bell pepper, red onion, red potatoes, rosemary, olive oil, lemon juice.


  • Going to the Wolcott Country Fair to see the ships and coo-beasties. Probably fill up on fried food and root beer so no need for supper!


14 August 2009

Tomatoes & Green Stuff

Tomaters 'n' Greens

Doesn't it look lovely? It's "Farfalle with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Goat Cheese" from Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2005.

Ingredients: Farfalle, olive oil, shallot, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, cherry tomatoes, arugula/spinach blend, and goat cheese.

I thought this dish was delicious -- the creaminess of the goat cheese, sweetness of the roasted tomatoes and shallots, and peppery bite of the arugula (rocket) all combined perfectly. I could have eaten half the pot.

The Husband, however, was not so keen -- if I were to leave out the 'orrible green stuff and add some mushrooms and chicken, then it would be pretty good. That said, he did eat all the green stuff.

12 August 2009

Rib Love: The Eight Annual Taste of Southington

The Eight Annual Taste of Southington seemed to go off quite well despite the rain (oh! the eternal rain!) and much deliciousness was on display for very little money. We ate:
  • Chicken Milanese w/ lemon butter & white wine sauce over penne (Aziago's)
  • Crab, shrimp, and avocado salad with honeydew, cantaloupe, and citrus extra virgin olive oil (Kess' Cafe)
  • Chili w/ corn bread (Pig Out BBQ)
  • Quarter rack baby back rib combination with coleslaw (Smokin' with Chris)
  • An adorable little Italian tart filled with chocolate (Paul Gregory's)
The ribs were definite faves, but I've eaten them before so it wasn't a particularly adventurous choice for me. The shrimp and melon salad was also very nice and a combination I'd like to try at home.

Will we go to the Ninth Annual Taste of Southington? Of course!

11 August 2009

Steak, Tomaters, & 'Taters

Cooked "all natural, antibiotic free, no hormone added, pasture feed" beef steak in "Red-Wine Vinegar Marinade" from Women's Day with potato salad (based on my mom's which is based on my gran's) and "Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad" from the August/September 2009 Cook's Country using cherry tomatoes from my garden. Isn't it pretty?

Steak, Tomaters, & 'Taters

The tomato and mozzarella salad was very good even if the preparation of it did not go exactly according to recipe. I spun the heck out of my tomatoes, but they did not yield anywhere near a half cup of juice. As I had so little liquid to work with, I didn't dare try to reduce it so I just whisked the juice, vinegar, garlic, and oil together.

Did this make a difference? I don't know. The salad was quite delicious -- creamy, sweet, and tangy -- but the mozzarella turned brown from the balsamic vinegar almost immediately and, perhaps, that wouldn't have happened if the dressing had been more syrupy?

10 August 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Twenty-Two

Time for another Menu Plan Monday! Skipped writing up a menu plan last week as my "plan" was simply to go out a lot and enjoy the end of Taste of Hartford! Ate many delicious things -- some of which I plan to try replicating in my own kitchen.

Surprisingly for August, I still have lettuce coming out of the garden, but I don't know how much longer that will last. My lettuce plants bolted shoulder high during the last monsoon (seriously, does it never stop raining here?) and I chopped them down hoping they'd regrow. While they did, I have to keep on top of the plants, because they desperately want to bolt again.

My cherry tomato plants are also fruiting like mad which means I'm putting cherry tomatoes in pretty much every dish -- would appreciate any recipes you would be willing to share or recommend!

(This week's menu is abridged as we are going to Vermont for a long weekend).


  • "Farfalle with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Goat Cheese" from Cook's Illustrated (March/April 2005). Ingredients: Farfalle, cherry tomatoes, arugula, goat cheese, shallot, garlic.

Tuesday (work)

  • "Tuna White Bean Salad" on lettuce leaves with cherries and Kashi TLC crackers. Ingredients: tuna,cannellini, red onion, celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, garlic, herbs, vinegar, light mayonnaise.


  • Mmm! Having dinner at the eighth annual "Taste of Southington" -- local restaurants serve tasting portions for a minimal fee.

Thursday (work)

  • Salad (garden lettuce and cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, carrot, garbanzo beans) with cherries, Kashi Heart to Heart crackers, and Jif Natural peanut butter.


  • Turkey burgers on whole white buns with garden lettuce and tomatoes, corn on the cob, and cukes & tomatoes in light Italian.

06 August 2009

Too Many Tomatoes Too Soon

My poor tomato plants don't know how to cope with this weather we've been having. I think they've finally given up and decided to fruit like mad while they die -- leaves and branches going brown and crumbly even as wee green fruits form and heavy, ripe fruits drop from branches which are too week to hold them.

So, in less a week, I've harvested almost four pounds of tomatoes -- mostly cherries, but also a few small plums. This may not seem like a lot of tomatoes to you, but its an enormous amount to me. What to do with so many tomatoes?

Second Batch of Tomatoes, 2009

I made a "mozz & tomater" side salad to take to work -- halved a bunch of cherries and tossed them with cubed mozzarella, chiffonaded basil, minced red onion, salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic vinegar. The salad was quite nice, but barely made a dent in my tomato supply. What next?


04 August 2009

Unexpected Salad

Why am I calling this salad "unexpected?" Because that is how The Husband described the salad when I asked him what he thought of it -- it was something he might think of ordering in a restaurant, but not something he expected to eat at home. I was both amused and offended!

Unexpected Salad

Recipe for "Mediterranean Chopped Salad" from Cook's Illustrated July & August 2009.

Ingredients: Organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas), romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, and cucumber. Conventional olive oil, red wine vinegar, red onion, garlic, feta cheese, and parsley.

This was a seriously delicious salad -- each ingredient's flavor and texture complemented the others perfectly. Every forkful was a little bite of perfection.

01 August 2009

Bananapple Bread

Bananapple Bread

A beautiful bread modified from the recipe for "Banana Bread" from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book (Meredith Books, 1998).

Ingredients: organic bananas, organic unsweetened apple sauce, lemon zest, eggs, sugar, flour, canola oil, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda.

The original recipe did not call for apple sauce, but three bananas only made 1 cup of mash so I subbed in a ½ cup of unsweetened apple sauce to get the 1½ cups called for. Tasted banana-y ... would never have guessed the apples were there.

Taking half to my dad and the other half goes to work with a slice held back for me.