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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Have a sunny weekend!

{this photo is what my street looks like}

Happy Friday! Anyone have lovely Easter Weekend plans? My weekend consist of cherry blossoms, spring cleaning, afternoon bike rides, reading pages from a novel on the National Mall, attending church service, hunting Easter eggs at a Sunday brunch, and soaking up as much Vitamin D as I can get. It’s my keep-busy plan for not spending Easter with my family.

This week’s spending was pretty standard for the beginning of the month, meaning there was money going in all kinds of directions! I have updated my Kitchen Inventory list. I think I’ll just cross off/add to my original list instead of creating a whole new list each week. But I have yet to spend any money this month on groceries! Scoooore.

Meals this week:
-Monday: rice & chicken
-Tuesday: stirfry & rice
-Wednesday: babysat
-Thursday: out to eat with a friend

Here are some other “Eat Your Entire Kitchen” participants. Anyone else want to participate with us in April?

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Kitchen Inventory

{photo above is not my pantry… but isn’t it pretty?}

As I mentioned in yesterday’s miscellaneous ramble, I’m not going to buy any groceries until I finish off my freezer/refrigerator/pantry. Well, I am giving myself $100 for groceries, but only if I buy something to pair with an item listed below. I spent waaaaaaaay too much on food in March, so this is my attempt to make up for it.

Originally posted 3/30/10
List updated 4/7/10
April Grocery Budget: $87.92 left

Freezer:

  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Chicken
  • Vegetable stir fry mix
  • French fries
  • Bacon
  • Fruit popsicles
  • Italian Ice
  • Turkey

Refrigerator:

  • Cacciatore sauce
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Blue cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Hummus
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Milk
  • Orange Juice
  • Lettuce

Pantry:

  • Peanut butter
  • Cliff bar
  • 2 cans of chicken soup
  • Can of black beans
  • Can of chili beans
  • Can of corn
  • Pop tart
  • Bag of rice
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Salsa
  • Chips
  • Baking mix
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Pizza sauce
  • Wheat thins

There’s a few other little items I didn’t add like mustard, flour, dressings, etc., but that’s standard stuff I try to always have on hand. I’ll update on my meal plans and how this list stands in the weeks to come.

Anyone else want to join me in finishing off their kitchen inventory this April?

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Per request, here is the Easiest Strawberry Cake recipe:

Ingredients:
1 strawberry cake mix
1 tsp. strawberry extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 (3oz) box cheesecake pudding mix
16 oz sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Directions:
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray fluted bundt pan, whisk eggs and pudding mix together. Add remaining ingredients and blend together well. Bake it 50-75 minutes, depending on when it’s finished.

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Not when you are hosting 90 people at your house!

Last week at my mom’s Celebration Party, our home was filled with sunshine, fresh flowers, old friends, and a plethora of delicious cakes. Surprisingly we had very little leftover. My visit home was so refreshing trip after two long, cold months of winter. It made me long for spring and future happy trips.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Monday! Hooray for longer days!

Update: These photos were taken from my lovely little sister, a professional photographer based in my hometown. She gave me permission to use her photos but I don’t want to credit her publicly because I’m anonymous. However, if you live in North Carolina and are interested in using her services, please email me at myprettypennies{at}hotmail.com. Thanks!

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{via Baltimore Sun}

This past Sunday was a gorgeous, so J and I took a spontaneous day trip to Annapolis, MD. We walked around the quaint little downtown and were overjoyed to find that it was Restaurant Week, where participating restaurants offered $15.99 three-course lunch menus. We went to Hell’s Point Seafood, a lovely restaurant by the water. It was there I ate the most delicious entree I’ve ever tasted: fried flounder topped with strips of ham and shrimp, served with potatoes and an artichoke heart covered with a sauce so delicious I cannot even describe it. Seriously, the flavor has been haunting me for days. We also shared yummy appetizers and desserts.

The meal set us back $55 including tip, but when we got home I discovered that our meal would have cost us around $115 had it not been Restaurant Week.

Has anyone else participated in a Restaurant Week? This was my second one I’ve been to (first in DC) and I highly recommend going if you have one in your town.

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Cooking Class!

On January 10th I went to a cooking class, given to me by Forest, the nicest blogger ever. (Read here how he bought me the class spontaneously!) I am horribly late in posting this, but I was hoping I could make a second dish to take pictures of since I forgot to on the first dish I cooked. Oh well!

The cooking class was at the Washington Club, a gorgeous building in the middle of Dupont Circle. Because the class was offered through Groupon, the room was completely full, mostly with young adults. The class was taught by Zan Dial and called “Easy and Cheap in the Kitchen,” perfect for a novice like myself.

We were given seven recipes on cards and the chef prepared three, along with cooking tips such as what pots to use for what kinds of dish, the right way to cut onions, the types of wine to use when cooking, and other helpful tips.

Here are the seven recipes we got:

  1. Pasta Primavera with Chicken
  2. Grilled Flank Steak and Red Peppers
  3. Shrimp Creole
  4. Braised Beef with Root Vegetables
  5. Penne with Vodka Tomato Sauce
  6. Beef or Chicken Kabobs with Cucumber Salad
  7. Baked Ziti

He cooked the Shrimp Creole, Baked Ziti and the Braised Beef and after each we got a little tasting. YUM. My favorite was probably the Shrimp Creole, so this is the recipe I tried to recreate at home.

Shrimp Creole
1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 green bell pepper, cubed
1 sweet onion, cubed
4 ribs celery, cut into bite size pieces
2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. Old Bay seafood seasoning
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
4 c. white rice, cooked
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onions, peppers, bay leaves, and celery for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, Old Bay, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and tomatoes. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Serve over rice. Serves 4-6.

My Version:
I followed the recipe exactly, except I didn’t have any bay leaves and used brown rice instead of white (healthier, but probably not Creole-approved). I also had a bag of pre-cooked frozen shrimp, so I washed the shrimp in cold water to help it defrost, then let them simmer for about a minute instead of  five. The result? Delicious. Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this!

Costs:
Class: $35 Free thanks to Forest!
Ingredients: $14
I had most of the ingredients at home, so I only had to buy the shrimp, a green pepper, cans of diced tomatoes, Old Bay seasoning, and celery. I’m not sure how much this would cost if you didn’t have any of the ingredients, but it can’t be too much.

I am so excited about cooking more of these recipes and becoming a better cook in this next year. Can’t wait to share what I’ve got in store for February… ;)

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Back in October, I came up with two realistic goals to help me meet my savings/debt goals as well as flexibility with unexpected holiday purchases. The goals were: 1) don’t eat out for lunch and 2) don’t buy any clothes until 2010. Well my no-buying clothes goal was sadly broken a few weeks later, but I have done very well with my no-eating-out-for-lunch goal and had my first 2010 meal yesterday.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I paid for my first 2010 meal yesterday. I have eaten out at least once a week this month at Subway, but I don’t count it because I was using a gift card I got from the family I babysit. Yesterday was the first day I actually spent my own money on lunch at the delicioso Chipotle.

It got me thinking though: what if I buy myself gift cards to my favorite restaurants as my “eat-out” budget for the month or the next few months? I rarely eat at fast food places for dinner, but it’s convenient for weekday lunches since we only get a 30-minute break. I could even do this with my clothing budget or buy gift cards for when I go to the movies.

Has anyone bought gift cards for yourself to help keep your budget under control?

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