Monday, March 30, 2009

A Dog Day Afternoon!

A month or so ago, I picked up a couple of sweaters for Coco that were on clearance, since she has grown out of the first couple that I bought her. I was so excited when I got $25 sweaters for $3 and $4 (I mean, who in their right mind would pay $25? Not me!). Friday night and Saturday morning were very chilly. I realized that Coco thought so too when she went outside to potty, immediately turned right around and wanted back inside. I let her in, and she ran into the living room and jumped up on the couch, shivering. Perfect time to try out a new sweater!

Doesn't she look adorable? She is little, but she is long - I wish they made them longer, but she loved it anyway. I thought she might be getting warm, so I took it off and put it on the coffee table. A little while later, she went to the coffee table, and picked it up and just looked at me. So, I put it back on her and she got up on the couch and went to sleep. When I was moving around too much, she left me to go lay with her dad on the other couch (the start to our Saturday was a very lazy one)!

She spent the next couple of hours like this! She loves napping with her daddy! She wants to be right up next to your face, and snuggle! Can you believe how adorable she is, or what?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Favorite Ingredient Friday - Mexican Dishes Edition

We love Mexican food! Although I would rather go out and eat it, than make it at home, I do have a few easy recipes to enjoy some in the comfort of your own home. I have given this Chicken Enchilada recipe to just about everyone I know for two reasons - 1) it's easy and 2) its delicious. Now, I admit - it's not "authentic" mexican food. More like a gringo's take on enchiladas but its good, its cheap and its filling and afterall - is that not the general summary of Mexican cuisine?
Chicken Enchiladas


  • 1 T. butter
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 6 (12 inch) flour tortillas
  • ½ cup milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the green onion until tender.
  4. Add the garlic powder, and then stir in the green chilies, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Mix well.
  5. Reserve ¾ of this sauce and set aside.
  6. To the remaining ¼ of the sauce in the saucepan, add the chicken and ½ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese. Stir together.
  7. Fill each flour tortilla with the chicken mixture and roll up.
  8. Place seam side down in the prepared baking dish.
  9. In a small bowl combine the reserved ¾ of the sauce with the milk.
  10. Spoon this mixture over the rolled tortillas and top with the remaining ½ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

This recipe is also really great in the fact that you can play around with it - and you're not going to mess it up! Darren doesn't like flour tortillas too much, so half the pan I make with corn tortillas. Want to add more chilies - go ahead! Add jalapenos, cilantro, or anything else you like - it still turns out perfectly! You can go and get a roasted chicken at the grocery store and shred it, instead of cooking the chicken yourself. Although - I must admit, I always cook mine and I think its the cheapest way to go! Buy a whole fryer at the grocery store (you can always find these on sale). They are usually around $3-$4. I put it in a pot of a little salted water and boil it. Then take it out, let it cool and shred the chicken. I put the water in a tupperware and stick it in the fridge, and then I can get enough meat off of that chicken to make 2 seperate meals. Just wrap the other meat up and stick it in the freezer for later!

I take all of the tortillas that I don't use and cut them into 8 pieces (so they are little skinny triangles), and throw them into some hot oil for a few minutes and wah-lah, you have some homemade chips. I lightly salt them, or add some beer salt (you know the lime flavored salt) and they are delicious. Sometimes, I get the cinnamon tortillas at the grocery store and fry those up and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and they are a great dessert with a little honey or whip cream.

When I'm really in the mood to put some effort into this meal - I will whip up some homemade Guacamole to serve with those homemade chips. It's a really easy recipe:



  • 3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt.
  2. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic.
  3. Stir in cayenne pepper.
  4. Refrigerate 1 hour for before serving.


So, you have a really great, easy meal with very little cost, that is sure to please your family or your guests!

Grilling Goodness

1. Do you prefer to write with pen or pencil? Pen – unless it’s a card, then I prefer to write with Sharpie Ultra Fine point markers. - I have all the colors and I like to coordinate with the color of the card and/or note that I am sending! I know - OCD. 2. What was off limits to you growing up that you do all the time now? Using “glasses” – we had ceramic tile in the kitchen and my mom was always afraid that we would drop a glass and crack the tile so we only used plastic glasses (except for holiday dinners). I have plenty of both glass and plastic cups, so you can have your pick, but you don't HAVE to use plastic! 3. What is the age difference between you and your spouse? He is 11 months older. 4. Did you hurt yourself in anyway this week? Yes! As to not wake Darren in the morning when I am getting ready for work, I have started getting ready in our guest bathroom. It has a bathtub/shower combo with a sliding glass door (instead of a shower curtain), anyhow I slipped when getting into the shower, and hit my leg on the metal part that the door slides back and forth on, and now I have a black and purple bruise on the inside of my calf, about the size of my fist. It’s not pretty! 5. Do you like wallpaper enough to hang it in your home? Not a big wallpaper fan. I kind of like borders and such, but I don’t know if I would ever put them up - maybe in a nursery or something. 6. What do you need to do that you’ve been putting off? Re-finish the cabinets in the kitchen. I look at them every day and tell myself that I am going to get started, but then I wind up sitting down and watching Real Housewives or Grey's - you know, something really productive! 7. What did you do this week that you wish you hadn’t? Maybe putting off re-finishing those cabinets?? 8. Did anything keep you up late this week? Darren gets home at 10:30, and then we sit down and eat dinner (I know, I know), then I pick up the kitchen and we put Coco to bed so we normally get to bed around 11:30-11:45, but this week he needed a haircut and he likes me to cut his hair right before his shower that he takes before he gets into bed – so I stayed up and cut his hair one night this week. After cutting it, and cleaning up the mess – I got into bed about 12:15 in the a.m. For more Grilling Goodness, visit Golden Goodness!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tipful Thursday - Saving $ at the Grocery Store!

With the economy in the state that it is, I know all of us as wives and/or mothers are looking for ways that we can cut back, everywhere that we can. I have made cut backs in places that I can – not spending money on manicures and pedicures in place of doing my nails at home. Not stopping for that morning latte on the way to work, and not buying clothes that I don’t “need”. Another place that we can always save money is the grocery store. We (and our pocketbooks) have felt the increase in the cost of groceries over the last year or so, and so I do everything I can to control spending at the store. One of those ways is buying things in season! You will not believe how much extra money we are paying for fruits and veggies because they aren’t in season. They fly them in from all over, and we pay for it! So, instead of paying all of that extra money – cater your families meals around things you can find easily (and cheaply during that season). You can go to a great website, type in any of these ingredients and find an abundance of delicious recipes that you can incorporate into your cookbook and start trying new things and saving money! Here is what is in season right now, for Spring: Apricots Asparagus Avocados Basil Beans Beets Berries – Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries Broccoli Cabbage & Chinese Cabbage Cantaloupe Carrots Cherries Chile Peppers Cucumbers Currants Fennel Figs Garlic Iceberg Lettuce Mangoes Nectarines Okra Onions & Green Onions Papayas English & Sugar Snap Peas Pineapples Radish Rhubarb Shallots Snap Beans Spinach Summer Squash Sweet Oranges Sweet Peppers Swiss Chard Turnips Remember - all those pennies add up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dinner on a Dime!

The other day, while at the grocery store, I picked up a spaghetti squash (which we learned about last year). Now, I know a lot of people aren't familiar with it, so I thought I would share a really easy and really cheap recipe with all of you (that I made for dinner tonight), so that you may incorporate it into your family dinners. Gather all of your ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds), olive oil, 1 medium onion, chopped, 1 (8 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 3/4 cup of sour cram, 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and bread or cracker crumbs.

Cut the squash in half, lengthwise.

The inside looks just like a pumpkin!

Scoop out all of the insides/seeds.

Make sure you get it good and clean!

Fill a casserole dish with about 1/2" of water. Place the spaghetti squash upside down, in the water. Place the casserole dish in the microwave and heat for 10 minutes. This "steams" the squash and makes it soft enough for you to get all of the "meat" out.

Be careful! The squash will be hot - hold the squash with a dish towel or pot holder (I tell you this from experience), and take a fork and just scrape the inside, the squash will peel off and resemble spaghetti.
I get EVERYTHING out of it! No sense in wasting any! :)

While the spaghetti squash is in the microwave, I put some ground turkey in a skillet to brown.
As you can tell, that meat is still partially frozen. I am really bad about remembering to set something down from the freezer, for dinner. Luckily, I have this handy little gadget. Just put your meat in the skillet, and get started with this thing, and in no time - your meat will be broken up, like it should be. You know - just as if I had my crap together, and laid the meat out to defrost. Add your spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.) and just start "chopping". And in no time - you have ground meat - like you're supposed to!
Then add in your chopped onions and basil.

Drain the can of mushrooms, and add them to the meat mixture.

Stir in the sour cream.
Add the squash.
Stir all together, until everything is well incorporated. Add grated parmesan cheese and stir together. Grease the casserole dish that you used earlier (to microwave the squash). Put the turkey/squash mixture in the casserole dish and spread out. Top with more grated parmesan. Top off with bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. Darren despises bread crumbs, so I use about 6 crackers and just crush them up and throw them on top!
Bake for 15 minutes, and then serve while hot.
On Monday, Kroger's had spaghetti squash for .79 cents/pound (which is normal - about $2.40 ea.). I picked up sour cream for about $1.75, about 90 cents for an onion (I buy the yellow ones you have to peel yourself), about 50 cents for a can of mushrooms (I buy the store brand), and they had ground turkey for $4.45/pound (you can usually find it on sale cheaper).
I already had olive oil, basil, parmesan cheese, and crackers so I didn't have to pay for that. Since I figure 3 servings of sour cream (so I am going to figure about 60 cents for this recipe), I am only going to calculate the cost of 1/3 of the container and since I didn't even use half of the onion, I will only calculate half of the cost of that.
So, with that being said - I figure the cost for this meal is about: $8.45. This casserole serves six, so that makes the cost per serving approximately: $1.41
That my friends, is dinner on a dime!
Open 2 cans of any vegetable of your choice, and add a bag of salad (the premade kind in the produce section of your grocery store) and you have a complete meal for about $2.25/person!
If you don't want to add meat - don't. Just follow all other directions except browning the turkey, and bake for the same amount of time and you have a great side dish!
Or if you don't want to make this casserole - try using spaghetti squash in place of your regular spaghetti noodles, the next time you're in the mood for Italian! You might just be able to sneak a vegetable past your kids (or husband)! :)

Works For Me Wednesday!

I've mentioned a couple of times how I have a REALLY hard time keeping up with my camera cord (you know, the one that comes in so handy when you want to actually upload your pictures). In fact, a couple of weeks ago, after I gave the Bargain Bridal Shower, I couldn't upload my pictures because I couldn't find my cord. I searched everywhere! I griped and moaned and complained and finally broke down and bought another cord. And as luck would have it (because that's how things go), I found it in the console of my car that very same day. Now, besides the annoyance of having just paid $15 for a new cord that I now have to return, I cannot for the life of me figure out what made me put the damn thing in the console to begin with! Hmmm! Anyhow, after explaining my camera cord woes to a fellow co-worker, she told me about this flash drive that has ports for camera cards, you just plug into your computer and upload away! No more cords! It's so small, you can just put it on your keychain! So, I set out to look for said device. I didn't find it at Best Buy, where she bought hers, and I didn't find it at Target so I went searching online and I found it at a place called Accessory Geeks, for a mere $10.99!

I ordered it, and it came in, in less than a week for virtually no shipping - all together I paid like $13.00, and although I'm not going to put it on my keychain, it is small enough to fit in my camera bag, so now - I have my camera, extra batteries, and an uploading device - all in the same place. That my friends, works for me! Now, I just have to remember to take my camera with me! :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Toy Update!

Ok, so my good sense finally came to me, and I took the toy away from Coco. I mean, what kind of "mother" would I be if I knowingly gave her a choking hazard. And when I say "I took the toy away from her", I clearly mean that I called my mom while I was at work, and I knew she would be stopping by my house to see her grand-dog, and got her to take it away from Coco. I mean, how could I just rip her favorite toy away from her, with no regard to her feelings?

A Toy Terror!

Normally, I run to Petsmart on my way home from work, to pick up Coco's food, and of course - I normally pick up a "surprise" while I'm there, because she is such a good girl. Well, last week we were running dangerously low on dog food, so Darren offered to run and pick some up before he went to work. He said "well, you buy her all kinds of stuff and I never get her anything, so I got her some toys while I was there". How sweet! He is such a good daddy! So, this is what dad brought her home:

He said that they had a three pack (pink, blue and a white one with flowers) for $9.99, so he thought he would see how she liked them. And oh, how she did! Darren gave her the white one first, Of course, like any "kid" it was her new favorite toy - she didn't play with any other ones. She took that thing everywhere with her! After a couple of days, I started noticing "fuzz" around the living room - and I realized that it was coming from her new little friend. Then a day or so later - I started seeing a LOT of fuzz. So, I took it away from her. Mysteriously, she wound up with it again, early in the week. She had taken it outside with her and must have been playing with it all morning, while her dad was inside. He apparently, just put her up when he went to work, and when I came home and let her outside, I saw fuzz ALL over the backyard. When I asked her what happened, this is the response I got:

She looks innocent, doesn't she? She is getting really good at that face, not that I believe it at all.

Maybe she thought if she stood in front of it, I wouldn't see it.

See her handy work? I told her to bring her toy to me. And she just dropped it and I know she was thinking "please, please don't take it away again"
Look at the poor thing! She has shown it no mercy!

This is where its back leg USED to be! She just about has this front leg off. You know, to match the other front leg she has ripped off. This one here - or the one that used to be here!

And this is its neck. Or lack there of, rather.

When I asked her "what did you do to this poor thing Coco?", she grabbed it and ran and laid down and got back to work!
I know I should probably take it away from her, but she loves it so much and she was so upset when I took it the last time. I don't know if she got it off the table or if her dad felt bad and gave it back to her. Either way, I think I will let her keep it. After all, she just got it "broken in"!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here are a few Irish jokes for ya: Six retired Irishmen were playing poker in O'Leary's apartment when Paddy Murphy loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen brother, the other five continue playing standing up. Michael O'Conner looks around and asks, 'Oh, me boys, someone got's to tell Paddy's wife. Who will it be?' They draw straws. Paul Gallagher picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse. 'Discreet??? I'm the most discreet Irishmen you'll ever meet. Discretion is me middle name. Leave it to me.' Gallagher goes over to Murphy's house and knocks on the door. Mrs. Murphy answers, and asks what he wants. Gallagher declares, 'Your husband just lost $500, and is afraid to come home..' 'Tell him to drop dead!', says Murphy's wife. 'I'll go tell him.' says Gallagher. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner, as usual, When Tim Finnegan arrives at her door. 'Brenda, may I come in?' he asks.. 'I've somethin' to tell ya'. 'Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?' 'That's what I'm here to be telling ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery' 'Oh, God no!' cries Brenda. 'Please don't tell me.' 'I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry. Finally, she looked up at Tim. 'How did it happen, Tim?' 'It was terrible, Brenda.. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout, and drowned.' 'Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim, did he at least go quickly?' 'Well, Brenda, no. In fact, he got out three times to pee.' ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mary Clancy goes up to Father O'Grady after his Sunday morning service, and she's in tears. He says, 'So what's bothering you, Mary my dear?' She says, 'Oh, Father, I've got terrible news.. My husband passed away last night.' The priest says, 'Oh, Mary, that's terrible. Tell me, Mary, did he have any last requests?' She says, 'That he did, Father.' The priest says, 'What did he ask, Mary?' 'She says, 'He said, 'Please Mary, put down that damn gun.' ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And my favorite... A drunk staggers into a Catholic Church, enters a confessional booth, sits down, but says nothing. The Priest coughs a few times to get his attention, but the drunk continues to sit there. Finally, the Priest pounds three times on the wall. The drunk mumbles, 'Ain't no use knockin, there's no paper on this side either.' Hope you all have a great day! Don't forget to drink some green beer!

Pizza! Pizza!

I had planned on making homemade pizza on Friday night, but my in-laws came in and I had just gotten through "cleaning" and they suggested we go out to eat and I happily oblidged. I mean, they are guests, so I would be a bad hostess not to grant their requests. Little did I know, my husband was really wanting that homemade pizza, so I told him I would make it Saturday night. Well Saturday, we got home too late and we caved in and went and ate Mexican food. Since we were eating a big lunch for my sister's birthday on Sunday, I had already told the hubby that I would not be cooking on Sunday night. Yesterday, I told him that I didn't really feel like cooking since we had so many leftovers from the weekend. He should probably eat them and I would make the pizza tomorrow (which is actually today). Anyhow, he told me that he was really wanting homemade pizza, and that he REALLY wanted it on Friday. But since things had changed, he looked forward to it on Saturday, but since that didn't work out either, he really wanted it for dinner (yesterday). I told him to deal, and that I would make it today. :) You know, because I'm a good wife and I aim to please. Well, after talking to a girlfriend of mine yesterday, we decided to do dinner tonight, and I knew that I wouldn't want to cook once I got home. Knowing that I would NEVER live down the fact that I have been promising this stupid pizza for almost a week, I threw caution to the wind, and made it last night. Now, I know that those leftovers in the fridge are going to go to waste, but I knew that I would have one happy guy at my house, so I got to work.

I gathered all of the ingredients, for the crust: flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, warm water and quick-rise yeast.

Then, I proofed the yeast, in the warm water.
I mixed all of the ingredients together, and added garlic powder and italian seasoning - just to give the crust some flavor.

I rolled it out - doesn't it look great. You can really see all the herbs.

And because I had seen the very end of a Emeril show (you know, the one with him in the grocery store teaching people to cook), where he used a cast iron skillet to make a pizza, I thought I should too.

Then, I LOADED on the toppings. I started with pizza sauce, then canadian bacon, and then grated parmesan (the kind from the little green can), and then I grated (with a zester/grater) fresh parmesan over that.

Then, I covered it with pepperoni, because what is a pizza without pepperoni, I ask you.

Then I piled on shredded mozzarella, and more pizza sauce.

And more parmesan from the can, and more of the fresh stuff.

And then more pepperoni.

And then more mozzarella.

And then it baked, and let me tell you right now - it smelled as good as it looks! And then it came out of the oven, right as Darren was walking in the door and I don't know if I have ever seen my husband smile like that. I like to think he did, on our wedding day, or at least on our wedding night, but I'm not so sure he did.
Pizza isn't even his favorite food! Look at that thick deep-dish like crust, and the loads of toppings. Damn, I'm a good wife! :) And the husband was very happy! :)