Thursday, April 30, 2009

Product Rave

So last night The Hub and I were headed to a complementary Scotch tasting with my CW and her guy.. the seating was at 6pm, but I knew I wanted us to eat something before we went and drank a bunch of Scotch (plus I didn't want to pony up for expensive bar eats!)
I had 3 different frozen pizza coupons, including one for the new Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizza (grab the coupon here) - it was also on sale at King Soopers, so it was the winner...
Boy am I glad - it is GOOD!! The Hub was raving about it - we had the "un-cured pepperoni" variety and the pepperoni was so tasty and meaty, the crust was crunchy but not totally dry or bland, the whole thing was so flavorful!!
It is priced pretty much in the center of the premium frozen pizzas, with the sale and the coupon it was very reasonable and well worth trying!! (So now you do it!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

XP - Deals In Denver -SF Market Double Ad Wed.

It is SO fiesta time at Sunflower Markets this week... WOO HOO Cinco De Mayo!!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Beef Stew a la Keri...

After a beautiful sunny morning that I spent planting flowers for the Treehouse patio, the skies turned grey, the wind whipped up and rain (which turned to snow) washed away my sunny day...
So it was the PERFECT evening to use up some small scraps of beef I had in the freezer and make a batch of my shamelessly easy Beef Stew..

I cut the beef into fairly uniform cubes, and browned on all sides in a large soup pot before adding one can of veggie-beef soup, 1 soup can of water, a teaspoon of Worcestershire, and some leftover roasted potatoes and carrots from dinner on Friday evening... it all got heated through and then thickened using one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of cold water and added to the simmering stew.
We ate it with a demi-loaf of crusty sourdough bread...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

YAY for dinner guests!!

On Friday I get to make dinner for our best "couple friends" and I am SO excited.... they are expecting their first baby in July (really close to when my Sissy is due with my nephew, actually) and it is so exciting to share it with them...
But let's face it, Keri is excited that she gets to entertain!! The Treehouse hasn't seen a lot of action in the entertaining dept lately -not really because of the food budget (a great dinner with friends can be as simple as a pasta dish with crusty bread and a salad... add a carafe of inexpensive Chianti and wonderful guests, and that dinner will be bliss - I assure you..), but more because the Treehouse, with its giant patio, shines in the warmer months as the perfect place to gather for our friends in the neighborhood... and I am so happy that the season is rolling back around!!

I am going to make them the now famous sweet and spicy chicken with grilled potatoes and veggies, Mrs. Couple-friend is bringing a big salad and we will kick off the patio entertaining season with good food, great friends and (I am sure) big laughs..

My goal this summer will be to find great recipes for simple, inexpensive food that I can proudly share with the people I love - to be a warm and gracious host and put the emphasis on my guests enjoying themselves (and me getting to enjoy them), to see The Hub smiling in the glow of the gel-fuel fire pit, drink and cigar in hand and laughing with the guys, and know he is happy to be at home and surrounded by our friends - just like me..

/cheesy speech.... but I still can't wait..

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

XP - Deals in Denver

Grocery Circular finds for 4/22-4/28

I should add...

I should add that I have FINALLY managed to bring back the afternoon cocktail as an institution... at least in The Treehouse... come 5 oclock you can hear the tell-tale "Shakey shakey" of me mixing martinis... Always Dirty for The Hub, and usually fruity and kind of made-up on the fly for me... My favorite (right) currently is the "Limetini" - a lovely mixture of 2 1/2 oz Vodka, 1oz water, and a generous teaspoon of limeade frozen concentrate... shake all of that with a couple of ice cubes until it gets kind of frothy and enjoy...
(This new-found love of martini hour MAY have something to do with my lack of meal pictures lately.. I will try to balance my love for both..)

What's up in the Kitch, Ker?

Ok, ok... bad food blogger...
Dinners have been pretty low-key around The Treehouse of late.

-Saturday night we had spaghetti with meat sauce, jazzed up with a bit of fresh basil from my little plant, and Garlic bread made from a frozen demi-loaf of French bread from the free bread coupon at Target a few weeks back... Mmmm, garlic bread!
(BTW- this is what the bread looked like when I cut into it - see those big uneven holes? Those exact holes are the reason I got a D on my bread in culinary school.. WTF!)

It is getting really nice outside, which makes me want to use my grill a lot! So last night we had steak soft tacos - I maranaded some chuck steak cut into 1/2 inch thick slabs in lime juice, minced garlic, and chili powder for about an hour. Then I sprayed each side with cooking spray and let it cook to medium on a nice hot (but open) grill. I also grilled some onion for me.
I rested the meat wrapped in foil while I heated corn tortillas, lightly sprayed with cooking spray, on the grill until they got some color and were nice and flexible - they got wrapped in foil to keep the heat in and keep them soft.
I unwrapped the meat and chopped it into small pieces, just because I like my steak tacos almost like you would get from a street vendor, or on a plate of tacos al carbon at a local mexican place.
I served it all family style with sour cream, lime wedges, cheese and hot sauce for topping.
YAY for grill season!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ham and Asparagus Strata

Confession - this was supposed to be our Easter dinner, but I really wanted to do the chicken and dumplings that night, so I switched it up even tho this is a bit more "Easter-y."
To make this simple dish I thinly sliced some sourdough bread and made a single layer in the bottom of a cooking-spray coated 9x9 Pyrex dish.
Next I layered some chopped Asparagus spears onto the bread, followed by some deli-sliced ham (I used the very inexpensive packaged kind from the lunch meat isle).
Then I whipped 4 eggs plus 3 egg whites together with 1/4 cup of milk and a dash of salt and pepper, and poured it down over the top of the layers.
I baked the strata at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes, sprinkling some cheddar cheese over the top the last few minutes of baking so it could get all melty.
I served it with boxed potatoes Au Gratin, because The Hub loves them with ham.

He gave the strata the stink-eye when he sat down at the table and said "it looks like quiche" - but he had two helpings and said (with surprise in his voice) "That was actually really good!"
He was right....

XP - Deals In Denver

Some great deals in this weeks Grocery Ads, posted over at Deals in Denver

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stolen Moments - retro food!

How much do I love ? A LOT, that is how much...
I keep trying to remember to do something special for grilled cheese month, but I still have a few weeks left.. (Do you have a favorite grilled cheese incarnation? Share it with us, please!)

And have a look around on the site - tons of great ideas and yummy nostalgic food!!

Beef Fajitas

(Pictured - at left, shreaded cheese and queso dip) beef and pepper strips in bowl, tortillas and lime wedges, right, and grilled onions - my plate only since The Hub isn't a fan)

Woops - I forgot sour cream or my zesty/cool taco sauce for our fajitas last night.. so I whipped out some left over queso dip from the freezer and we had that on our fajitas instead (it is liquid cheese, so obviously it was good.. duh). Beef Fajitas get made again and again at our house, they are one of The Hubs absolute faves, tho I am still looking for the perfect mix of seasonings that DOESN'T come out of one of those little envelopes...

I used this seasoning mix from "Self Reliant Yuppies" for the beef this time - but I actually quarted it because I didn't want to make that much of a blend I had never used... it was fine, we liked the flavor, but I don't think the search is really over either.
Not much to say on prep for these this time - I cooked the peppers and the seasoned steak strips in a little big of veggie oil in a hot skillet, and the onions in a smaller pan so they didn't "taint" The Hub's fajitas...
The queso made the whole thing for me!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings on a dime!

I should start by saying that The Hub has already requested that this be made again... he LOVED it!! It was very tasty, I won't argue - and it was shamelessly cheap to put together.

I took:
1 can Kroger Value Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Kroger Value mixed Veggies (drained
1/4 cup milk
1 cooked shredded chicken breast
I mixed all of that together in the bottom of a square Pyrex dish and then topped with:
1 can Kroger Value biscuits
I baked the whole thing for around 25 minutes (until the biscuits were brown and the mixture was bubbling away...

Seriously - It was good... and while I know that it might not be the lightest meal, The Hub ate a lot of veggies in one sitting with this stuff... and it was shamelessly easy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Do you come here often? Happy Hour at Home..

I spent the day with my fabulous parents on Saturday, while The Hub got his Masters viewing on... (I can only take so much golf -seriously..)
I wanted to do something special since it was a weekend night, so I decided to bring happy hour home to him. A guy at the liquor store reccommened the Svedka Vodka (above) saying it has all the qualities of an expensive vodka, just not the price and that it would be perfect for dirty martinis, The Hub's favorite cocktail..

I used this recipe and he said they were "perfect"....
2 oz. Vodka or Gin
3/4 oz. Olive Juice
1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
I shook it all together in a chilled cocktail shaker and strained it over 2 blue cheese stuffed olives into a well-chilled glass...
( I had to agree that they were tasty, but I usually don't drink my martinis dirty, so I wouldn't know any different..)

To go along with our cocktails, I whipped up some little "bar snacks".. Some "Savorings" that I had bought on sale at King Soopers last week, stacking the sale with a paper coupon AND a cellfire coupon loaded on my Soopercard!! (I think I ended up paying like 42 cents for them!).. I also marinaded some thinly sliced beef in balsamic vinegar and black pepper, threaded it onto some water-soaked wooden skewers and broiled them until just done, and made a traditional quesidilla too..

It was good.. it was all good...

Friday, April 10, 2009

I am a TOTAL cheater...

Growing up whenever we went to a diner with the fam, there was a good chance that my daddy would order an open-faced sandwich with mashed potatoes (especially, it seemed, when we were on a road trip)... and since I wanted to be just like my daddy pretty much ALWAYS, I usually did too.
Years ago, when The Hub and I were engaged, I discovered On-Cor brand frozen family sized turkey and gravy - and it was VERY inexpensive. We used to have it at least once a month, but it has been years now since I grabbed a package for us... Until last week at the grocery, that is.
I had a feeling The H was getting sick of pannini style sammies, but I like having the fixings for some sort of easy sandwich around for those nights when even the smallest effort feels HUGE.
And it is still very inexpensive.

So I cut a mini-loaf of sourdough bread in half and loaded it up with the thin-sliced turkey and gravy goodness. The Hub had green beans with his (out of the can, he doesn't like fresh ones... I just don't get it...) and I had a big salad (I swear, I could eat salad with every meal)...
I admit it.. it was good... long live the open-faced, smothered sammie...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

HEY - a full freezer is more efficient anyway

This is my freezer:

I have had several people ask me lately if I have an extra freezer for all the stockpiling I do and the short answer is "no"... (The longer answer being something about how The Treehouse is just not big enough to house any more freezing space, and that I am not sure I would get one if I had room since it is just The Hub and me right now...)

However, I have a packed freezer pretty much ALL THE TIME. It had been a bit less full until I discovered that Safeway in our area has b/s chicken breast for $1.77 a pound right now.. The foil packets in the big freezer bags (bottom right) are 12 packets of 2 breasts each... The black containers are steaks from the recent Target coupon making Sutton and Dodge beef easy to find for around $0.25-0.60 a package... and wedged every where are the mini loaves of bread from Target, free with the coupon from their website recently...

The one thing I am not so proud of is that stack of Banquet meals... The Hub is at home every day for lunch now, and I simply refuse to argue with him about what he wants to eat.. I am not going to draw attention to the fact that he is no longer out visiting accounts and taking guys to lunch and eating what he wants by forcing some healthy or boring or unappealing lunch on him if he doesn't want it. So I get him the cheapy lunches that he will eat... and I work that expense in to my food budget... /rant

The door of the freezer is really NOT the best place to store things you want to truly stay frozen... I store ice packs and extra ice, extra coffee, and other things that I am not so concerned about in the door...

It only LOOKS scary... everything in there is actually right in it's very own place...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Slowcooker pork with DIY BBQ Sauce...

I actually put this in the crock pot on Monday morning, so it would be good to go for dinner that night.. but the call of the Michigan State fans came in, and we had to go support our pals (and eat Auntie K's amazing mole chicken tacos!).
So this actually had all night to sit in the fridge in the sauce after cooking all of Monday in the slow cooker.
I used pork stew meat, because it is inexpensive and it is all going to get mushed together anyway, right? I put it, along with this BBQ sauce into the crock pot, and it cooked on low for a little under 9 hours. I reheated it covered in the microwave and it was just as tender and moist as could be...
BTW - the sauce was just "alright"... something was missing for me, it needed more tang (more vinegar perhaps) and maybe a little heat or something.. it just wasn't flavorful enough for me - but it wasn't yucky or anything... But I will keep looking for a really good homemade sauce recipe. (If you know one, share the wealth, PLEASE!)

As you can see, I had mine with a nice big salad with broccoli florets, carrots, onion, green peppers and a sprinkling of corn, The Hub (who did have a tiny salad in a separate bowl) loves his corn, so he needed lots of space for it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Game time appies for pennies!!

Last night we headed off to the resident Michigan State fans' home to root for their team in the big game.. (sorry guys, but believe me, us Buckeye fans have SO been there)
The Hostess with the Mostest, Kristen made this amazing pulled pork in mole that we ate in tacos with all the fixings (MUST get that recipe -the pork had fantastic flavor) - so I wanted to contribute something that complimented that menu for an appetizer.
Enter my old friend the refrigerator biscuit "empanada"!! (also here with an Italian twist)
I never thought of it before, but my quick trick of folding whatever matches the menu into a biscuit and serving as an appie is shockingly inexpensive..

The store brand of these biscuits is $0.40 for a tube of 10 at my grocery store.. that is 80 cents for 20 little empandadas!! I filled them last night with a mix of spicy refried beans - all 20 took less than half a can of beans, and I sprinkled in a bit of shredded cheese and a dot of Tabasco sauce...
I flatten each biscuit, place a bit of filling, wet my fingers and pinch the edges together.. for extra shine I used an egg wash (egg beaten with a touch of water in this case, tho I use milk when baking sweet things) on them before I baked according to the biscuit package directions.

Seriously, I made 20 of those things for less than 3 bucks!! They were good on their own, but I did whip up some of my super-klassy yogurt sauce for dipping, since I had the stuff to do it.

People loved them.. YAY for refrigerator biscuits!!

Oooo, I bet they would be great with fruit filling, or jam, and a little sugar sprinked on top before baking...

Monday, April 6, 2009

I love the lists..

So this is the side of my fridge... I have a little journal I carry in my purse at all times and lists for shopping, menus, reminders, and anything else I need to remember go in that book.. I HAVE TO make lists.
And each Sunday a new menu list gets posted on the side of the fridge on my super-klassy note pad. If I run out of something, if I notice something is getting really low (staples) then I write it on the bottom of the pad so I can add it to my shopping lists (separated by store) in my little notebook before I go shopping.
Some people think the menu list is a bit much - however until recently I used to plan 2 weeks to 1 month of meals at a time - of late I find I need more flexibility than that offers.
I can just come home from work, take a glance of the list and know exactly what I am making - no heming and hawing needed - and I can see what I need to take out of the freezer to thaw for the next night as well.
This also lets The Hub see what is coming up for dinner this week, so he doesn't eat something really similar for lunch and get stuck having essentially the same thing for Lunch and Dinner - also, I can look back and see what I have made recently so I don't get too repetitive.

It works for me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Can we talk about Walgreens for a second..

The Internet is full of genius moms who get tons of stuff at Walgreens and pay next-to-nothing thanks to coupon stacking and their rebate programs (which are actually going to be changing, evidently)..
I have had some moderate success getting good deals at Walgreens, but yesterday I hit the motherlode..

I had a 3dollar off coupon (Cantilina) from a previous trip, and I knew they were having a sale on eggs - I decided we would dye eggs as our activity on Saturday night, and then I would have lunch protein for the week..
So I grabbed two dozen eggs from the freezer, marked at 2 for 3 dollars, and looked around for something to bump the bill up just enough to use the coupon (needed to total 3.01 or greater)..
They were closing out some tostinos-knockoff pizzas, which The Hub loves for lunch - normally $1.00, on sale for $0.50 each).

I grabbed the last 3 pepperoni that they had and headed to check out.. First dozen eggs rung up at $1.25... interesting... then the second rung up for $0.75! WOO HOO!!

Grand total out of my pocket for 2 dozen eggs and 3 lunches for The Hub? $0.50!!!

Even the Walgreens guy looked up from the register and said "Looks like you did pretty well..."

Sweet... so, so sweet...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lighter Side - Fish craving!!

I love Salmon... I don't make it for myself nearly enough, especially not in the winter - but I really enjoy fish, and Salmon is a particular fave.. So I put a portion in the fridge to thaw (yes, it was frozen.. I live in Colorado, maybe I just don't know any better - but I think it tastes exactly the same as fresh, at least from our stores) a few days ago, and last night i had it with a little white pepper and salt, and some lemon.. (I just baked it in a dish until it flaked apart but was still moist - you have to watch fish, it can't really be timed)
The Hub does NOT like fish... (Unless it is battered a la fish and chips, or course).. So last night I made him an Italian breaded pork cutlet (breaded with preseasoned crumbs using the same technique I do for my oven crispy chicken again and again) and we both had Alexia Rosemary and Olive Oil Oven Fries...
He really liked the Pork cutlet, which was basically like cubesteak, but pork not beef... I sprinkled a little motzerella cheese on it for him - he devoured the whole meal!

Stolen Moments - Soup is good food!

Look at Megan's latest creation... Snow is coming again this weekend for all us Denver folks... this might be Saturday night dinner!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One way I will NOT be stretching my grocery dollars!!

Just saw this "tip" and I think I might barf:
"Make large pots of different varieties of homemade soup at a time. Freeze individual servings for lunches, if a microwave is available. Serve "Free Soup" as well. Keep a container in your freezer for any leftovers, such as cooked meat, broth, gravy, sauces, beans, rice, pasta and vegetables. When it's full, heat it up, add anything else you want, and serve your free flavorful soup!"

Um, no... while I agree that using leftovers in soup is a great idea... and that soup is a fabulous way to take lots of little frozen leftovers and make a meal - I am not about to toss EVERYTHING INTO ONE container in the freezer every night until it is full and then cook it on the stove and call it soup..

"Oh hi Honey! Here's my "BBQ Beef, Curried Chicken, Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce, Country Gravy, Brussle Sprout, jalepeno, and sausage soup!!" (Some of the stuff I currently have frozen)


Tacos with DIY taco seasoning

Last night was "ground beef smiley" night at our place (and if you get that refrence, you probably watch too many Friends reruns, much like we do) and The Hub really likes his ground beef (or ground anything, really) to be all gooey and saucey and seasoned - a la the way it is when you use the taco seasoning packets from the store...
So I found this recipe at and decided to give it a try..
It was only ok... I will use the IDEA behind it to season taco meat again, but will omit the sugar entirely, and probably use a small amount of corn starch seperately instead of adding it to the mix, to thicken the sauce a bit right at the end of cooking... I ate mine on top of a bed of romane lettuce dressed with lime juice and salt, along side 1/2 avacado pureed and mixed with a bit of onion... everything else was so good, I didn't really notice the ground beef (actually, I used a mix of ground beef and extra lean ground pork, since that is what I had in the freezer) when it was in my salad... But when I sampled it after finishing the seasoning and sauce as directed, the consistancy and the flavor (sweet? yuck!) just weren't where I wanted them to be.. I get the IDEA behind it, it just didn't come together right...