Just Another Manic Monday

Today has been quite the hectic day.  It was a Monday, first of all, which is certainly not my favorite day of the week. 

It actually started off well.  I awoke to immediately stick a roast, carrots, and an onion in the crockpot (does anyone still call it that???) along with a Lipton powdered soup mix and a cup of water so dinner would be ready when I got home.  Then I made myself a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast.DSC01304

In my bowl, I mixed Special K Vanilla and Almond, a handful of plain old fashioned oats, a sprinkle of flaxseed, a sliced banana, and some lowfat milk.

Lunch was just a simple turkey sandwich with reduced fat pepper jack and some spinach plus some yellow mustard.  I enjoyed an apple and some pineapple pieces dipped in some melted chocolate courtesy of the school principal and some coworkers.

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Next up is where the day turned into chaos.  I had to go to Walmart to purchase all of the materials needed for our Family Night tomorrow night at school.  I was there about two hours pushing a cart around that was entirely too heavy.  I then went back to work to unload my car on my own and deliver all of the materials to the other teachers.  The worst part is I had to go back to a different Walmart this evening to get some items that the other store was out of.  Needless to say, two Walmarts in one day equals not a good day.

I did snack on chips in salsa prior to the second visit to Walmart, but no picture was snapped.

Oh well, at least I did not have to worry about preparing dinner.

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I enjoyed my roast over some mashed potatoes that were cooked last night with potatoes from the hubby’s garden.

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To prepare them, I just mixed the boiled, tender potatoes with a container of 1/3 reduced fat onion and chive cream cheese and some milk using my handheld blender.

Well, I’m going to call it a night because I have work til 8 tomorrow night.  Good night all!

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Shrimp Pot Pie

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Shrimp Pot Pie

Servings: 4 (about 390 calories per serving)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp canola oil

4 carrots, chopped

1 tbsp flour, all-purpose

1 1/3 c low-fat milk, separated

1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste

3/8 tsp white pepper plus more to taste

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp celery seed

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 lb frozen cut green beans, rinsed

1- 8.5 oz box corn muffin mix

1 egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400* and spray 9X9 glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Heat oil in small saucepan.  Add carrots and sauté until tender about ten minutes.

2. Add 1 tbsp flour to carrots and stir for 1 minute.  Add 1 cup of milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/8 tsp pepper, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery seed.  Cook over low heat until thickened about 5-8 minutes stirring periodically.  Turn off and let cool (put in refrigerator to hasten the cooling).

3. Meanwhile, mix corn muffin mix with egg and 1/3 cup of milk.  Set aside.

4. Season shrimp with salt and white pepper to taste.  Add shrimp and green beans to baking dish.  Pour cooled sauce over shrimp and bean mixture and stir to combine. 

5. Stir corn muffin mix and pour over the top of the shrimp mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until corn bread topping is golden brown.  Enjoy!DSC01253 

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The shrimp pot pie turned out nicely.  As for breakfast, there was the return of the oatmeal bowl.

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Lunch included some of Mom’s black eye peas leftover from last night’s dinner.DSC01237

I enjoyed a cup of the beans with pickled meat and a 1/2 cup of white rice.  I brought a nectarine for a snack, but when I cut it open it looked bad so a coworker gave me her cafeteria vanilla pudding with sprinkles on top because I was still hungry and wanted something sweet.  Ya know, when that special monthly visit is on its way my hunger gets out of control and I satisfy it.

At work, I also had some honey wheat pretzel sticks that Mom had brought me from Chicago in my goody bag a few weeks ago.  This week is standardized testing so I actually brought the pretzels for my 6 students I’m testing.

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Oh, and not to mention the hummus and chips I ate when I got home plus a bite of chipotle cheese which went unpictured.  I told you; I’m ravenous. That about wraps it up.  Now I’m feeling full and content.  For now.

Couponing 101

You might recall my mentioning that I am totally inspired to begin couponing since the launch of the show Extreme Couponing.  Well, after attending my friend’s coupon party on Saturday where advice was offered on how to start couponing in the form of a three page Microsoft Word document I got right to it once I got home.  I must say thanks to the ladies who hosted the party for providing a superb brunch including fruit salad, french toast casserole, egg and sausage casserole, mini muffins, chicken salad, and fruit pizza.  Here is my plate from the “bruncheon.” 😉brunch

A taste of it all except muffins and fruit pizza.

I immediately logged on to Southern Savers to find out what deals were at my local Winn Dixie.  This website is a lifesaver when it comes to couponing.  All of the hard work is done.for.you.  Jenny, the site coordinator, matches in-store deals with online printable coupons and manufacturers’ coupons that can be found in the Sunday papers.  That is key to saving money and getting groceries for little to no costs.  Jenny also includes drug store deals as well.  Take a look at the site if you are interested in saving money because I’ve only done it once, but am a total fan.  I can see how couponing can get addictive and turn into “Extreme Couponing.”

Next, I’ll take you through my purchases on my first couponing experiment and explain along the way.

First, save money with store deals such as:

BUY THIS

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GET ALL THIS

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BUY THIS

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GET ALL THIS

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I tacked on a coupon for the three boxes of cereal which made it an even better deal.

Next, you can save with BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE also known as B1G1 or BOGO.

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All of the above was BOGO.  Plus I had coupons for the cheese and pastas so I cut costs again.  *Tip* Since it is two items that are being scanned, you can use two coupons—one for the purchased item and one for the free item (unless coupon states, for example, $1.00 off of any 2).

Then there are the items that are on sale in the store—either a price cut or 3/$4, 10/$10, etc.  All of these items were on sale plus I had manufacturers’ coupons for each item. *Tip*  Just because it states 10/$10, you don’t have to purchase all 10 items.  You can just get the amount you want or need, but still get the sale price.DSC01204

The cheese below had what is called a PEELIE.  It is a coupon on the product itself that can be peeled off and used immediately.  Really, I made the purchase just because it had the $2.00 coupon on it; I’m not quite sure what is going to become of the BRIE cheese quite yet.DSC01205

These next three items were simply on sale within the store.  I had no additional coupons or discounts for them.DSC01207

Finally, I paid regular price for this final item.  Just.one.item.  Bananas.

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Overall, I was pleased with my savings.  I did have a slight oopsy when I handed the stack of coupons over to the cashier; I failed to take out the two coupons for olive oil.  I chose not to use them because the olive oil was not on sale as the weekly ad stated, so I wouldn’t be maximizing my savings of $4 off as planned originally instead only saving $1 with the coupon.

My total bill came to $163 and some change prior to scanning the rewards card and coupons.  Now for my total SAVINGS–

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Yes, I saved $84.41.  That is over a 50% savings.  And I get 35 cents off my gas purchase at Shell using the Winn Dixie Rewards Card.  *Tip* Don’t forget to get your coupons from the Catalina machine that sits next to the receipt printout.  I got $5 off my next purchase of $50, a $1 coupon courtesy of Dole, and a Free Gallon of Milk.  I’m proud of myself and my husband was pretty shocked when I got home to let him know of all the savings.   

Now, the DOWNSIDE–

*I couldn’t buy my usual greek yogurt or hummus and chips because I only made purchases it if it was on sale aside from the bananas.

*I may not ordinarily eat or use the free items.  I’m hoping Chris will.

*I found myself making purchases just for the deals—like the cereals.  I do not eat all that much cereal and generally try to go with Kashi brand for the nutrients and fiber when I do.  But the cereal is good for over a year so hopefully I’ll be able to use it up.

*The cashier seemed annoyed having to scan all of my coupons.

* The cashier seemed annoyed when she had to scan all my coupons with the hand scanner rather than over the table scanner since it wouldn’t work properly.

* The customer behind me seemed annoyed when the manager was called over the intercom when I couldn’t find two of the items included in the laundry deal.  (Sidenote—I was looking in the wrong spot.  The deals are usually displayed on the end cap.)

* The customer behind me seemed annoyed when I handed the cashier a large stack of coupons.

Oh well, I saved $85.  Bet she didn’t.

Do you have any money saving tips to follow when grocery shopping?

In other news–

My husband made dinner tonight.  He slow cooked a beef rump roast on the grill.  It had a delicious, smoky flavor.  He was so proud that he snapped his own picture and I wasn’t even home yet.

roast

Extreme Couponing

Hey guys!  Did you miss me?  Kidding. 

Anyway, did you see that new show that aired last night on TLC?

 

Extreme Couponing goes into the lives of people who go to extreme lengths to get a deal or shall I say steal.  On the show last night, one families’ grocery total amounted to over one thousand dollars.  They paid $30 for the entire bill.  Yes, thirty dollars on a thousand dollars worth of purchases.  That just amazes me!  How does one go about saving $970 on his or her grocery bill?

I have a lot to learn in that department.  I generally pay little to no mind at the cost of items when grocery shopping.  Well, I take that back, I do compare the different prices for tomatoes, for example, and go with the cheaper variety.  However, I do not go with the store brand mustard just because it is cheaper.

Funny how I happened to catch the show this week.  On this coming Saturday, I am actually invited to a brunch hosted by some ladies who are sharing information on “Maximizing Your Grocery $avings.”DSC01177       

After watching the show, I can’t wait to learn more.  I wanted to start clipping coupons immediately–if only I could save a fraction of the money the shoppers saved.  Though I do worry I won’t be able to save all that much because most of the shoppers on the program appeared to be purchasing a lot of boxed goods.  I do have some staples that come in boxes like pasta, rice, cereal, but for the most part my shopping time is spent around the perimeters of the store.  I hope I learn some useful tips on Saturday and if so I’ll definitely share with you.

Now for the regularly scheduled program—the food.

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Breakfast Smoothie in a Bowl:

~1 frozen banana

~handful frozen strawberries

~cup lowfat milk

~scoop vanilla whey protein powder

~teaspoon blueberry flaxseed meal

All blended in the blender.

~handful vanilla honey granola (on top)DSC01159

My meat free lunch hit the spot.  I had a salad with greens, a roma tomato, a tablespoon of goat cheese, a few sesame almonds, and 2 tbsp. of light raspberry vinaigrette.

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I enjoyed a Chobani Peach Yogurt for some protein and sweetness.

On my way to the gym I had a Cinnamon Roll.  Larabar that is.  My energy bar fueled me through 33 minutes on the elliptical and some strength training that went something like the following with very little resting between sets to keep the heart rate up.

Machine Weight Reps/Sets
Pectoralis 35 lbs. 15/3
Triceps 30 lbs. 12/3
Biceps 15 lbs. 10/3
Crunches Bodyweight 25/1
Torso Twists Bodyweight 25 per side/1
Hamstring Curl 50 lbs. 12/3
Leg Press 60 lbs. 10/3
Low row 40 lbs. 10/3
Lunges Bodyweight 25 per leg/2
Wall Squats Bodyweight 25/1

I ended with a couple minutes of stretching before deciding I was super-hungry.  I called Chris once in the car and we decided to get take-out from Come Back Inn.DSC01169

I ordered a 9” veggie pizza with onions, bells, mushrooms, olives, and jalapenos.  I ate about 1/3 of it plus I had half of an Italian salad and two of the hub’s mozzarella sticks.  Underneath all of that cheese on the salad is an olive salad which has lots of flavor and some oil to coat the entire salad so no extra dressing is needed. 

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I still have not satisfied my cupcake craving, but I did come across this several.month.old. cookie in the back of the pantry cabinet to satisfy my need for something sweet.DSC01172

Big Question of the Night:  How do you pronounce coupon?  Do you say cue-pon or coo-pon?  I say the latter, coo-pon.  My friend from AL says cue-pon.  I’m thinking cue-pon is more of a southern country accent.  If you reply, please let me know where you’re from as well.  Just curious if the phonetics of the word is dependent upon region of the country in which people reside.

Gorgonzola Chicken Alfredo Over Spaghetti Squash

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Gorgonzola Chicken Alfredo Over Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash

1.5-2 lbs. chicken breast tenders

1 egg, beaten + tbsp. water

2 c Italian flavored panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. flour

1 c skim milk

1/2 c gorgonzola cheese

1/4 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)

black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Score squash with a knife in random spots all over squash.  Put whole squash on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake in preheated oven 50 minutes to an hour.

2. Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Dip each tender into egg/water mixture.  Coat tender in panko crumbs.  Place tenders on a broiler pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  Lightly spray the top of the tenders with cooking spray.  Bake in oven 20-25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165* is reached.

3.  While squash and tenders bake, mix oil and flour in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add milk stirring constantly.  Allow mixture to thicken to desired consistency.  Add gorgonzola cheese, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and pepper to taste.  Heat through.  (Add more milk if sauce gets too thick and reheat if necessary.)

4. Once squash is cooked, cut in half vertically.  Use a tablespoon to scoop out the seeded pulp in the center and discard.  Use a fork to scrape the tender flesh of the squash, which should resemble spaghetti.

5. To plate, add one cup of squash to plate.  Top with two tenders and two tablespoons of the gorgonzola alfredo sauce.  Enjoy!

For nutrition stats, click here. DSC01045 DSC01048

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As for today’s eating:

I began with cereal with only a small splash of milk because I needed to get to the grocery and didn’t realize Chris drank until after pouring the cereal and slicing the overly-ripe banana.DSC01117 Lunch was a ham and muenster wrap with mustard, few spinach leaves that weren’t wilted, and pickles.  I enjoyed a sliced apple on the side.DSC01125

Snacking included this bar Mom brought back from Trader Joe’s Chicago location along with lots of other goodies.DSC01126

Tonight’s dinner included a fast and messy roast beef po’boy on french bread with reduced fat swiss, lowfat mayo and lettuce and tomato.  I had tutoring after work and needed to grocery shop, so Chris suggested this quick dinner.  I was so hungry I failed to snap a picture.

I have been craving cupcakes for several weeks now due to that darn show “Cupcake Wars.”  I made an attempt to bake some tonight, which do look pretty with the ganache like icing, but did not taste so pretty.  I managed to eat the tops of two (the icing was excellent), but most of the spongy cake stuck to the paper. 

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Actually underneath the icing lies deflated cupcakes; when I took them out of the oven they began to shrink.  I am not quite sure what happened, but obviously there will be no recipe sharing.  I shall try again some day.