So we've had a busy couple of days at our house, mainly due to things like unplanned carpooling. We always think this will work out really smoothly and it actually does. But I never remember to take into consideration that it adds at least an extra hour onto the commute each way and since Cale works 9-10 hour days even when he's only scheduled for 8 it adds a lot
of time waiting.
Which means we've accidentally [on purpose] maybe have stopped and picked up dinner on our way home from work... in-between fixing cars, band practice, etc. (Those all being things that only Cale has, I'm great at staying at home like a desperate housewife).
Regardless, we still pack our lunches every day because even if we're not always eating at home for dinner we can at least avoid the double wammy of eating out twice in one day. So last night I went on a cooking spree at about 9 PM baking some chicken, making a salad, and making banana bread.
P.S. How easy and how delicious is banana bread. Seriously? It is one of my husband's favorite foods but I've literally only made it like twice since we've been married. And each time I think, that was soo easy. I should make this all the time. Plus since there's 1/4 cup more flour added than sugar it makes a perfect breakfast substitute. Amen.
So I made the chicken
last night so I could make enchiladas today. Again, around 8 PM, after dinner. Sigh. I used my favorite Ree from the Pioneer Woman as my trusty guide. Isn't she the greatest? You can find the original recipe here
Of course, I always need to change up the recipe a little. Mostly because I never exactly buy the correct ingredients. I don't know why I can't manage to copy the ingredients from the recipe onto my grocery list but this talent has eluded me thus far in life. I'm learning how to deal.
To begin with, I shredded all the chicken and put it aside. I added some olive oil and sautéed the onion and green pepper until they were just starting to get soft (probably 3-4 min), then I added the chicken, 1 can of diced green chiles, a can of white kidney beans, a healthy sprinkle of cayenne pepper, and the frozen corn. I let this cook until the corn was unfrozen (if you're smarter you would think ahead and pre-defrost this) and then added a dash of cream. Cooked for about 5 minutes and then took it off the heat.
I then made the white sauce (finally perfecting a good roux... it helped me to add the chicken broth slowly), used a 6 oz single size container of plain greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, another container of green chiles, and added a handful of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. After the cheese was melted and the sauce was smooth I took this off the heat.
The preparation of the ingredients was smooth sailing. I decided to tread further off the beaten track that had been carefully set by Ree and instead of frying my corn tortillas, just steaming them by putting them in the microwave under a damp paper towel. Um.. they cracked and split like there was no tomorrow (so I didn't take a picture because it wasn't so pretty). Don't worry if this happens to you!
Anyways, fill with some chicken mixture, add a little cheese on top, and roll them up placing them face side down in the pan. You just cover up everything with cream sauce, stick it in the oven for an hour, and no one will know the difference when they come out the oven so they can be as ugly as you want.
P.S. I had a poo-ton of leftover chicken mixture. Guess who's getting chicken enchilada style pizza tomorrow??
These were creamy and delicious. And reminded me of Santa Fe where all good things happen. If we actually were eating these for dinner, we'd top them with avocados (since these are the bread of life) and probably some salsa or fresh tomatoes. Only a quarter of the pan got eaten before the rest was safely sequestered into lunch containers.
Turns out they're delicious with no additional toppings. Who knew?!
White Chicken Enchiladas
12 corn tortillas
2 cups of shredded chicken
1 can white kidney beans
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cans of diced green chile peppers (4 oz can)
1 1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup heavy cream
Cayenne pepper to taste
6 oz plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
2-3 cups shredded cheese
Saute onion and green pepper in dash of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes until they just turn soft. Add the chicken, 1 can of green chiles, corn, kidney beans, and cayenne pepper and cook until heated through. Add the cream and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In separate pan, melt butter and sprinkle the flour on top, whisking constantly. Slowly add the chicken broth (continue to whisk to avoid clumps). Let simmer (continue whisking) until it thickens (about 5 min). Add in the other can of green chiles, yogurt, and 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese- stirring to combine. After everything has combined to form a smooth white sauce remove from heat.
Heat your corn tortillas in the microwave under a damp paper towel for about 30 seconds (or follow whatever the Pioneer Woman did). Add the chicken mixture, top with some cheese and put the tortillas face side down in 9 X 13 inch pan. Continue until the pan is full. Cover with white sauce and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. (If you have any leftover cheese this can get sprinkled on top.
Before heading up to my parent's house on Sunday, I asked my mom if there was anything she needed me to bring. Thinking something related to food.
She replied, "You'll just need to bring your own water for hiking on Monday." Um.. okay. I threw 2 water bottles in our bag and told Cale we would need to sneak water from the faucet.
On Sunday night, Cale, Jenny, and I were chatting around the kitchen table and Cale says, "I wonder why we needed to bring our own water, your mom has 2 cases of water sitting right there."
The entire episode was hilarious as my mom chose that moment to walk back into the kitchen. She had no idea what we were talking about (which made it even more funny).
Please note: In the future, when my mom asks me to bring something weird, she requested that I clarify the request because she probably was thinking about one of 2 million other things that were also on her brain.
I just found out that Lady Gaga says 'Want your bad romance'. I always sang it 'La Cucaracha'. Don't laugh. Cale sings it 'la, la, shish boom ba'.
Exclamation from the living room last week, "What?!?!? Neil Patrick Harris is gay?!?!?" Um... yes.. for like ever basically.
Cale can still not get over this fact. I'm not sure how he missed it in the first place.
Because my car is out of commission we're playing the carpool game. Therefore I had to reteach my self how to drive a manual transmission on the fly. After figuring out that the parking break was on (whoops!), the only traffic infractions were a couple of rolling stops. Thank goodness the route between my job and Cale's is one of the flattest roads in towns. Hills would kill me (well, actually the car).
My mom asked the audience if anyone else thought American Idol reminded them of The Hunger Games. Almost, except last time I checked no children were dying. Unless I'm missing something.
If you have any ideas of where a key could be hiding please let me know. It is not in Cale's toolbox, the fridge, the silverware drawer, the bathroom drawers, or the washing machine. Just in case you were wondering.
Finally, my baby brother just got promoted to 1st Lieutenant. So proud!
Cale and I ended up heading to my parents house last night in preparation for our Memorial Day fun. We had rendezvous plans for 7 AM on the north side of the city which would mean getting up pretty early in order to meet the crew.
Since we're lazy and Mom's house= lots of food we decided to go last night.
We had a perfectly planned day that included canoeing, fishing, hiking, and grilling out.
The morning started out perfectly enough until T-minus 5 minutes before leaving we realized that Cale's tackle box (+fishing license) were in the 'other' car. Other car means the one 1.5 hrs away.
Shucks, nothing that a quick Walmart trip can't fix.
Plan delayed by 15 minutes.
On the way to meeting spot (after a quick stop for coffee) we nearly experienced 'death by canoe blowing off the top of car and slamming through the window'. You're right. That was overly dramatic. But we did have to pull off the side of the road, re-plan a meeting spot, and re-secure the car. This might have taken 2 hours. Maybe.
I'm totally, not-on-purpose, photo-bombing this picture. Awesome!
Once we learned the correct way to secure a canoe to the top of car and have it not move even in 60 mph wind gusts we were on our way. (Predicted winds for mid-morning= 5-10 mph).
After finally arriving at the beautiful reservoir (tucked somewhere west of Boulder), we checked out the water. Needless to say, the wind had not died down, and there were white-caps galore. Apparently white-caps and canoes are not the ideal mix. Apparently dirt roads and wind gusts also do not mix. Unless you're going for the exfoliated look. Done and done.
No big deal. We'll just hike 2 miles into a secluded inlet. With about 50 pounds of loose stuff. Whoops. Backpacks would have been ideal. Ha! Once we got to the inlet the weather was glorious. Most of the wind was blocked by the hills and trees, the sun was perfectly shining, the guys got to go fishing, the girls got to take naps and read. Pure bliss.
We got back to my parent's house, ate great food, and hung out with family and friends. And had nerf gun battles. Obviously
On our way home, we planned a nice, relaxing movie night and laundry folding extravaganza. We were pretty tired. The sun and wind had won the day.
Until the car started jerking and the engine light went on.
And this is how week 4 played out...
Starbucks- $12.25 (about to make this more.. whoops!)
Out to Eat- $106.97 (whoops again... we got some pizza- not home made variety)
Groceries- $188.13 (for the whole month of May. This is great!)
This week will be very interesting to see if I actually make food and bought enough food to get us through the week.
This is why, I thought a gallon of ice cream, brownies, whipped cream, and potato salad were all vital to existence this week. Seriously.
P.P.S. Have you ever heard of Blue Bell ice cream? They advertise for it like crazy people out here. So, since it was half price for the holiday I had to get some naturally. And I got low-fat! Completely by accident. We eat healthy but I have a weird aversion to advertised 'health food/diet food'. Darn. Not that I should eat any anyways but if I'm going to be miserable.. the least I could do was get the good stuff!
P.S. I just called my husband (he's still in bed but his phone is our alarm) and told him if he got up I'd treat him to Starbucks this morning. Mainly because I was a jerkazoid last night. Mainly because I searched the house for an hour and couldn't find my spare key as he played guitar, drank some beer, and laughed at me.
I totally deserved this. He totally didn't deserve the jerk move.
One of his customers gave this to him.. for free! We are currently debating whether free beer or free yogurt is better. I think he wins. Also no shirt because our house= 80 degrees.
Also, when I left for work on grocery shopping morning my husband had a half gallon of milk left. When I got home he had zero milk left. Did I buy him milk? Nope. Darn. Repeat grocery stop.
Anyways, here's my tentative week 4 menu:
Sunday: White Chicken enchiladas
Monday: Memorial Day- Mom is making us din-din!
Tuesday: Beans and rice (never needed to make this last week)
Wednesday- Grill out & potato salad
Thursday- Breakfast scramble
Friday- Homemade pizza pie
And this is how the money goes... POP!
Can o' beans- $0.89
2 cans of green chilis- $1.78
Jar of salsa- $2.50
Brownie mix- $1.79
Corn tortillas- $1.99
Corn chips- $2.50
Almond milk- $2.69
Ground beef- $3.14
Whipping cream- $1.99
Potato salad- $2.37
Ice cream- $3.99
2 green peppers- $0.67
2 red peppers- $0.67
Green leaf lettuce- $0.99
2 lbs of strawberries- $2.50
Grand total of....... $46.33 (I'll add $2 for the milk I forgot).... $48.33You can find week 1, 2, & 3 here, here and here.
I came home from work and grocery shopping and seriously thought [for about 2 seconds] that someone had broken into our house. Cushions were off the sofa, the laptop bag was tipped upside down, closet doors were open...
Then I remembered that I couldn't exactly locate my keys this morning. I made it to the car this morning and then was frustrated because I thought I left my key inside. I looked inside, wasn't anywhere obvious, went back to the garage, emptied my purse. Still nowhere. Went back inside, hence the above chaos.
P.S. Let's not mention this to my husband as this would be the 'spare' key that I lost. Because the 'real' key is currently.. ahem.. missing as well. One brilliant find in the chaos was my iPad charger but that really wasn't helping me get to work.
After I was practically crying [there may have been a couple of tears] I went back to the car and apparently I hadn't emptied my purse completely because I found my key. Whoops. I pledge to look for the 'real' key tonight.
Good thing I got home before my husband. He'll never know.
Because it's the end of the week there are always a few vegetables that are on their way out. But we hate throwing food away [and this budget thing kind of sucks (excuse the immature language)] so I always try to use them in something. This weeks catch-all for vegetables was stir fry.
If you don't already make stir fry on a regular basis, you should. Add however many vegetables you want with your choice of protein (or go meatless), add some sauce, and serve over brown rice. Delicious!
If your grocery store carries the brand below, you should get it. It's less than 2 bucks a pack and it comes in 4 flavors... and it tastes fabulous. Plus it makes the whole stir fry game that much easier!
The husband and I are still trying to find one of those awesome grown-up jobs that give you things like 3 day weekends. Until then, we live vicariously through everyone else.
My brother and sister-in-law are pointing their car in a direction and running with it until they feel like stopping. Sounds amazing!
Enjoy your long weekend everyone!
Hallelujah for free frozen yogurt!
We had so much fun last night helping with our friend's science experiment. She was testing the 5 second rule on the floor of a frozen yogurt place.
It was hilarious.
She made sure to wear safety goggles. You know. Just to make sure stray bacteria and dirt didn't make it into her eye. Or something.
Cale was the official photographer and I basically just supervised. And laughed hysterically.
The girl dropped the strawberry on the floor for 5 seconds increments all the way up to 40 seconds. Then she swabbed it and swiped it across a petri dish. And now we wait for things to grow.
We were very particular about the location of our strawberry dropping. Mainly, we chose the only path to (and from) the restrooms. From my limited science experience I have a feeling we didn't need to be picky at all about the location of the said dropping but this will be especially nasty. Even if it's only in theory that some of what is growing is due to bathroom grossness.
P.S. I'm 90% positive that this experiment would have worked just as well on my kitchen floor. However, that didn't include free yogurt. Nor did I want anyone to know how disgusting my kitchen floor might actually be. And because I fully utilize the 5 second rule on a regular basis. Regardless, it inspired me to mop my floor yesterday.
If you could have seen the looks of yogurt patrons. I think we turned more than a dozen people away from the restroom. Something about 2 grown adults in latex gloves and a child in goggles.
Freaks them out.
Good thing they never see me at my real job.
Okay, so best sandwiches ever may be a slight exaggeration. But do sandwiches really get any better when they fit in a small grocery budget, your husband makes them from scratch and cleans the kitchen afterwards, or the only thing you have to do is sit and dominate all parties in Wheel of Fortune?
I think not.
Plus, we warmed up some chili and Cale made mega salad extravaganza.
Can you tell which state had cold and rainy weather today? Which I didn't even mind because last night after the temperature reached 90 degrees we decided we will break our 'wait until May to turn on the air conditioner' rule because heat makes us cranky. But then we didn't have to because temperature was cold outside automatically.
P.S. We have 4 picture on our wall and I'm wearing sunglasses in 3 of them. You'd think I'd be as careful about the sun exposure to my skin as I am to my eyes. My massive sunburn would tell you otherwise. Which is especially bad because I had sunscreen with me the entire time, I just forgot to put it on.Anyways, to make the best sandwiches evveeerrrr:
A] Find yo'self a husband
B] Get a loaf of foccacia bread (this is really the key to the sandwich)
C] Cut the loaf of foccacia in half.
D] Put your favorite cheese on half and broil until cheese is melted and the other side is slightly toasted
E] Top with your favorite sandwich ingredients and enjoy!
We even make this when friends come over. We just put the meat and cheese on and then put all additional sandwich toppings on a platter so people can finish the sandwich however they want. Awesome...
P.S. An eleven year old is paying me in free frozen yogurt to help her with her science fair project tomorrow. At first I was going to help but politely refuse the yogurt. Then I thought again.
I am so excited for free yogurt tomorrow!
So I one of our favorite 'fast food' restaurants is Chipotle. We pretend that's it's super healthy (I think this might be partially true) and love the fact that nothing is fried and it usually doesn't give us quite the core work-out that other restaurants do.
That being said, we're still trying (that's the key word) not to eat out as much as we used to and staying under a pretty slim grocery budget.
And not eat chicken or beans for every meal of the day.
Which I've been failing at.
So after seeing that there was some beef on sale at the grocery store the first thing that popped in my mind was imitation Chipotle. I'm not even lying. I've been craving not-made-at-home food often.
I found a bunch of different people claiming to have cracked the code so I chose one (okay, the I honestly can't find the site I used yesterday but since I didn't really use that recipe anyways I'll write the modified version below).. and then of course only kind of followed it. That's how I role.Chipotle imitation barbacoa beef (serves 6)
2 lbs of flank steak (or london broil)
1 7 oz can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
4 tsp of cumin
1 1/2 tsp of oregano
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup chicken brothIn a food processor, combine the juice of 1 lime (about 3 tbsp), garlic cloves, the entire can of peppers + sauce, apple cider vinegar, oregano, and cumin. Pulse until a smooth mixture as formed. Cut the flank steak into a couple of large chunks. Cover with sauce and add chicken broth and bay leaves. Stir to coat. Cook on the low setting for 8 hrs. 2 hrs before serving, uncover the slow cooker and let it continue to cook. Shred before serving.
I was really nervous that this cut of beef was going to be really tough, dry and inedible. But it was really, really delicious! If you're taste buds are sensitive to spicy foods I would reduce the number of peppers. We have normal tolerance (I think) for spice foods and thought this was pretty darn spicy, It made our noses run for sure.
P.S. Any cut of 'roast' style beef would work fabulously. Flank steak was just the cheapest at our grocery store this weekend. Other copy cat recipes include things like cloves and other fancy spices I just don't have on hand. If you're a fancy cook I'm sure these are great. Could our novice taste buds tell a difference? Heck no.
Oh, and I think lots of them suggested browning your roast before throwing it in the crock pot.
Do they not know that the only step for a crock pot style meal should be throw everything in and walk away? I could teach them a crock pot lesson or two. Plus, they already had me blending things together. That was almost
1 step too many. Almost.
I made a pot of brown rice and had it 'burrito bowl' style with rice, black beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and lettuce. Oh and avocados. Because they're the best. Cale had his burrito style. I would have loved to have some of this corn and black bean
salsa left. It would have been divine but no such luck.
Maybe next time.
So yesterday was turning into a great day (and it still was a great day). We went to church (obviously), I had my first Chobani yogurt (it was as good as I feared) with a pint of blackberries, we went for a run, I showered, and then ran out the door to meet up with old work friends.
P.S. My legs would not move yesterday. Cale is the most patient person in the world, but after 2 miles he was like, okay, lets get those legs cycling (about 10 times) and I finally spat.. I AM TRYING BUT THEY AREN'T MOVING! And as soon as we got home I wanted to turn around and try again. Darn it.
Anyways, as I was leaving, Cale was like, "Huh? That's weird. I have 4 missed calls and 2 voice mails from a 1-800 number." (please don't make fun of my over-used and mis-used punctuation. I work in science. We don't practice writing in complete sentences.)
He then called me on my way and said, "Oh, the calls were from our bank's fraud department.. apparently our $50 Target trip is unusual."
Then I heard a, "What? You've got to be kidding!?!"
Then I said, "What?"
Then he said, "Someone just cleared out our bank account."
Then I said, "What"
Then he said, "Well I better work on this."
Double darn. It is true. Someone cleared out our bank account at Office Depot. Jerks.
They made a copy of Cale's debit card and that was that. How did they do this.. I have no idea. I think I will feel safer if I never know their tricks.
Our bank caught it about an hour after it happened and stopped all transactions but it still kind of sucks. Majorly.
Anyways, (this will be confusing) we have lots of different bank accounts because Cale works at a bank and we have 2 savings accounts and checking account there (where his checks get deposited). and then we have our 'main' bank where all our bill pay happens, my check gets deposited, retirement account, and an emergency savings account. Did you follow? I wish I could tell you each of these accounts has lots of money. Not true. Very evenly distributed, low balance accounts.
So when Cale gets paid, he moves some money over to our savings accounts at his bank, takes a big chunk out to move to our main checking, and then leaves about $100 bucks in our checking in case he needs to expense something.
So he got paid on Friday and forgot to go to the bank on Saturday so a huge chunk more of cash was supposed to be deposited on Saturday but instead didn't get deposited until today. Thank you Jesus. Seriously.
Suckers. Take that!
In the mean time we're missing a big chunk of change for the next 10 business days.
And this is how week 3 played out...Starbucks-
$7.23Out to Eat-
We kind-of-sort-of didn't do as well this past week as we were planning on doing. I convinced Cale to take me to Starbucks one day, and then we went to Taste of Mexico a different day (with my sister= okay), and then I met some friends at a restaurant yesterday (also=okay). But we're trying to buckle down once again because we know we can if we just focus.
Grocery shopping, although it was difficult, was much easier than I originally planned. When I planned out the weekly menu + grocery items I was an estimated $10 over budget. Apparently I'm a horrible over-estimater because I made it $7 below budget (score!). I'd give you the itemized list of items but they forgot to give me my receipt at one of the grocery stores.. ridiculous I know. I thought for sure I'd find it one of my bags but no luck.
Darn. They're supposed to know that I'm obsessive compulsive about keeping track.
Anyways, grocery total was $43.30.
Still making it below the magical $50! Only 5 (or is it 6) more weeks of this craziness. And then I should really continue. Because it's saving us boatloads. Actually only a couple of bucks every week. But this adds up people. And it's going directly into our retirement account.. or new car account.. or get rid of these darn student loans account... or maybe
my Starbucks account. Maybe.
What we found worked out excellently last week was making a poo-ton of baked potatoes. They were small because we used the 5 lb bag style of potatoes. But then whenever Cale or I got hungry or didn't know what to eat, it was super easy just to grab a potato and top it with whatever we found in the fridge for a quick, delicious snack. Now we're out of potatoes but we'll be using this again. And seriously, crock pot potatoes
? Life doesn't get any easier people.
I see 2 big challenges in my near budgeting future... We're leaving on a weekend trip sometime in June and while we're planning on having dinner out, I'd still like to do snacks, treats, and lunches, in our $50/week budget. Snacks and treats tend to cost more than real food so I might try sneaking some of this in every week leading up to the getaway.
Also, we're having a couple friends over for a BBQ/grill-out in late June. I would rather that they NOT be able to tell we're trying to eat cheaply and again I would love to fit this a $50 per/week. But having an extra 4 people over with nice good/ not rice and beans food and with something more than water to drink will be an extra challenge. Again, I planning on watching for sales and gradually accumulate the food so it's not all being bought the week of.Week 3 Menu-
Saturday- Homemade pizza
Sunday- Megan out to eat, Cale- hunter/gatherer
Monday- Barbacoa beef burritos (does barbacoa automatically mean beef.. or could it be pork?)
Tuesday- Chicken stir-fry
Wednesday- Foccacia (or however you spell that bread, don't pretend you don't know what I mean)
sandwich w/ roast beef
Thursday- Ultimate salad
Friday- Rice and beans (baby!)
You can find week 1 and 2 here