Saturday, January 30, 2010

Holiday Basket: Valentine Edition

I love holiday decorating. I always have. I am sure I always will. We had an awesome fireplace mantle in our living room in the Rodda house back in Spokane. Mom and I would decorate it for every holiday we could think of. One of my favorite pieces was "the basket"....which was redecorated or filled for each holiday.

Well, I don't have a mantle...or a fireplace because, well, I live in Florida now :)

But I do have a basket!!! I decided last fall to create a basket for each holiday. The way this works is that I have one basket and fill it for each holiday, then after the given holiday is over I take everything out and put it in a ziplock bag. Then the next holiday goes in and over and over it goes. Next year, all I have to do for each holiday is take the goodies from their baggies, place, and fluff, and done!

I am now up to Valentine's Day in the year of the basket.

This was a bit more tricky, because there really isn't a type of greenery associated with Valentine's Day and what is a basket without greenery? Nope, wouldn't work. Enter the generic vine! I will probably use the leafyness in this basket for the next few holidays as well.

I may even try to come up with a non-holiday basket for the in-between times of the year...I would need a coffee theme...and there are not exactly coffee flowers at Michaels....hmmm.

Next up...St. Patrick's Day! I am already collecting for that one!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bennett Chili

Our menu for this month had chili planned for a dinner. Mostly because it actually felt winterish here for a few weeks during which time I made the menu. The problem was, I didn't have a good chili recipe. I have tried a few here and there...including a white chili...but nothing really stuck with me.

So, I decided to see what would happen if I just put a bunch of chili-like ingredients we had about into a pot and cooked them up. Success! Husband said it was the best chili he ever ate!

Here is the recipe, which I wrote as I went, so it isn't super exact on measurements (think Rachel Ray)...

1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 bottles of water (yes, this is lazy, but it was sitting right there!)
1/2 pound sage flavored sausage, browned
1/2 pound ground turkey meant, browned
2 chipotle peppers with a teaspoon of adobo sauce (these are HOT, adjust as needed)
2 cans kidney beans in red sauce
2 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 jar medium salsa
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
tiny dash of chili powder

Boil onions in water while browning meat. Add meat to onions and water. Add everything else. Turn down to a simmer. Go vacuum the house. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Eat!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

This recipe is one of the most requested around the Bennett household. It is a modified version of the recipe by the same name in the Nestle Tollhouse Best Loved Recipes book.

2 cups (12 ounces) mini chocolate chips
Premade Oreo crust. To me this is easier than making a cheesecake crust (and I don't own a spring form pan so it gets me around that issue as well).

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Sprinkle chocolate chips in the bottom of the crust, enough to cover with an even layer.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large mixer bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs and flour. Gradually beat in evaporated milk and sour cream. Pour over crust ( fill to close to the top, there will be left over filling). Sprinkle with more chocolate chips, enough to cover all the filling.

Bake for 25 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for additional 30 minutes or until edge is set by center still moves slightly. Place in refrigerator immediately; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grocery Store Savings

I am so excited about my most recent trip to Publix! I am trying to be more aware of how much we are spending on food, where the best place is to get certain items, and weekly sales. This will be more important when we have more mouths to feed, but I figure now is a good time to get in the habit!

So, that trip to the store...first, I bought most of my groceries at Super Wal-mart, but I prefer to buy meat from Publix. Also, Publix always has buy one, get one sales that can make it "cheaper than Wal-mart" (it's a Mexico joke).

I bought:
Dessert shells
Ice cream
Sweet tea
Shoulder roast
Deli ham
Boneless pork chops
Green beans - 4 pack of cans
Corn - 4 pack of cans

I spent: $26.54

I saved: $15.97 (38%)

Everything was on sale! And I am going to be sure to look at the sales again tomorrow!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meal Plan

I generally plan out our meals a few weeks ahead to save time in thinking about what to make and trips to the grocery store. My cousin Misty posted her menu plan for January, which has inspired me to do the same.

Jan 4th - Turkey noodle soup
Jan 5th - Sweet and sour chicken
Jan 6th - Grilled chicken on salad with fixin's
Jan 7th - Burbon salmon, sweet potatoes, green beans
Jan 8th - Stuffed turkey burgers, chips, salad
Jan 9th - April's kitchen is closed for Saturday night!!
Jan 10th - Steak, baked potatoes, salad
Jan 11th - Grilled chicken on salad with fixin's
Jan 12th - Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes
Jan 13th - April's kitchen is closed because the cook is out of town
Jan 14th - Chili
Jan 15th - Tacos
Jan 16th - April's kitchen is closed for Saturday night!!

Breakfast is generally cereal or bagels and fruit or yogurt.

Lunch will mostly be PB&J and Slimfast (because Mark is at school over lunch most days) or frozen pizza or something equally quick.

And that makes grocery shopping so much easier. Today I did my major shopping of all pantry items and meat. Now all I will need to run into the store for is milk and produce (oh, oh, oh, I found a new fruit stand today with awesome prices and it is super close to the house!).