Friday, February 27, 2009

My Version: Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

After having this on my Monday Menu Plan for several weeks, I finally made it and it really was everything I hoped it would be! I always believed that FOS would be difficult to prepare but with this slow cooker method, it's just this simple.

Remember how I had all of that leftover prime rib from our Christmas meal? I cut the leftovers up and froze several different meals including beef/barley soup and stew. This was the most basic with only 2 ingredients: the beef and the onions! A few other ingredients to cook it and you have an elegant soup - only you have to know how easy it really is.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup chopped prime rib
2 medium white onions
2 bouillon cubes
5 cups water
5 tbls corn starch
Salt, to taste
1 baguette or croutons
11/2 cups cheese*

Stir meat, onion, bouillan, corn starch, salt and water in slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Ladle soup into small oven-safebowls and top with bread and then cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

*A couple of notes: I used mozzarella cheese as it was the only white cheese I had, but it did lack the flavor that a Swiss or gruyere has. I also used the more fatty end of the prime rib, which added great flavor but isn't necessarily everyone's favorite to eat. If you are a purist for FOS then obviously you won't use meat at all but may want to add another bouillan cube for additional flavor.

Rocky Road candy is on the menu today over at the Grocery Cart Challenge - see this and tons of great recipes over there every Friday! Thanks GCC!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

Apparently word had gotten out about the great Grands Biscuits sale at Albertson's because 2 stores yesterday were completely wiped out. See my post below for the details. I didn't have enough coupons for some of the other products to make the deal worthwhile so I didn't get a chance to roll my Catalinas from the 1st trip - oh well. The bright side is that I stayed on budget for the month, right?!

I had $42.86 left, less my Albie's trip $27.96 leaves me at $14.90 - not bad for 3 days left in the month! Plus, I still have the $20 in Catalina OYNO so there's plenty of cushion for those days. This budgeting thing isn't so hard after all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free Organization Tools

Have you checked out yet? Staying organized is one of the ways that you can save money. That's why I plan our meals each week and do my best to stick with what's on the plan. Organized home has a ton of free printable lists, from shopping to freezer inventory and menu planning. These are a great way to help keep your home if only there was a printable house cleaner!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I finally made the elusive French Onion Soup so that recipe will appear here on this week's recipe swap! This is going to be a tough week because I have to travel but minimizing take-out nights and eating out is the goal of the plan. Here it is:

Spaghetti night
Chicken salad
Tuna Casserole - this uses Grands biscuits - see my Albertson's post to learn about why I need to find more Grands recipes!
Pulled pork sandwiches

This and many more Monday Menus can be found at!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

Albertson's is having a great sale right now - buy 10 select products and receive $10 off OYNO. I can't find my camera (husband is #1 suspect!) so I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the goods. There is an extensive list of the products included and the coupon matchups on this Hot Coupon World thread.

I went Saturday and here's what I got:

10 cans Progresso soup $1.50 each
6 cans Pillsbury Grands biscuits $1.25 each
2 Betty Crocker Lemon Poppyseed muffin mix $2.00 each
2 boxes Cheerios $2.50 each
2 cupcake boxes $.74 each
4 Hershey's chocolate bars $.44 each

Coupons used:
2 $2/4 Progresso soup
2 $1/2 Progresso soup
2 $.75/3 Grands biscuits
1 $1/2 Cheerios
1 $1/2 Betty Crocker muffin mixes

Total OOP: $27.96 and I got $20 in OYNO coupons that, according to the above HCW thread, will roll for the next purchase of the same items. I need to find more computers to print more coupons before Tuesday so that I can go back for more!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Recipe Friday: Shortbread Waffles

We are big pancake fans and my husband is very particular about pancakes made with real buttermilk. Our favorite pancake recipe (which you will probably see in a future post!) uses 3 cups of buttermilk. So when we buy the quart of buttermilk, it leaves us with a weird cup or so of buttermilk leftover. I hate for food to go to waste so when I discovered a delicious shortbread waffle recipe that did not call for buttermilk at all, I modified it to include both whole wheat flour and buttermilk! So here ya go:

1 3/4 cups flour (1/2 regular, 1/2 whole wheat)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 - 1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
*1/2 stick of melted butter (I'm listing this as optional as you can also use a tablespoon of vegetable oil to keep it from sticking to the waffle iron. I usually just spray the iron with cooking spray)

Plug in/turn on waffle iron (mine is set at between 3-4 out of 5 on the heat scale). Beat the eggs until fluffy then beat in the sugars. Stir in the flour by 1/2 cup at a time and then stir in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Batter is super thick - use a 1/2 cup dry measuring cup to place a scoop of batter on the waffle iron. Cook according to your iron's directions. I've found that these actually crisp once they are removed from the iron. I usually serve these with fruit and not syrup (there's already a lot of sugar in there!!).

They freeze really well so any leftovers go into a freezer bag. Pull out of freezer and pop in your toaster for weekend breakfast deliciousness on a busy weekday!

Many thanks go out to Gayle, who hosts The Grocery Cart Challenge recipe swap each Friday. She's got an excellent homemade Ranch dressing recipe this week - go check it out!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Free Sample - Head and Shoulders

Ok, this might be TMI but I have really dry skin in the winter and that includes my head. Lucky for me, Head and Shoulders is offering new samples of their shampoo for dandruff and dry skin problems!

Register with Proctor & Gamble's Everyday Solutions website and they'll send you this free sample. You can also get a free samples of Crest Advance Whitestrips and Prilosec - goodies galore!

Earning Extra Money

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about earning extra money by doing online surveys. It's easy and simple to do in your spare time while you're online.

Well, I've discovered something even easier - think about how many Google or MSN Searches you do every day online. If I told you that you could earn "bucks" each time you searched and that those "bucks" were redeemable for cool gift cards from Target, Amazon, iTunes - would you ever do just a plain search again?! No? Well, that's why Swagbucks is my favorite search engine and my new favorite way to earn extra money. Simply conduct your searches through Swagbucks and you will randomly win "bucks" that are redeemable for gift cards and lots of other cool merchadise.

Search & Win

Online searches are only one of the ways you can earn "bucks," you can also earn through their shopping service and by turning in old cell phones or video games. I've also found swagcodes (online code that you enter to earn even more "bucks") on Facebook and other frugal websites.

It's a fun site and so easy to do - use the link above to sign up and start earning today!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My husband and son came down with a bug last week so our menu plan went completely down the tubes! Luckily for me, that means that this week should be easy, since I've still got everything from last week. Additionally, my parents were kind enough to bring over lasagna last night and there were plenty of leftovers - one less meal that I have to cook!

So here's my plan:


Chicken Stir Fry

Flank steak

French Onion Soup

What's on your menu? Visit to see what the rest of frugal menu planners are having this week! Check out her cool giveaway this week too. I've been on orgjunkie all morning since I have the day off - organized life, here I come...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Orzo Shrimp Salad

I pine for summer again in the middle of February. This is an easy way to bring back memories of warm evenings. It can be a main dish or a side and is always very popular at a potluck. It can also be made ahead and I've found that the flavor just gets better the more it sits.

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked according to directions
1-2 pounds shrimp, depending on size, peeled and deveined
4 sprigs dill, chopped
1 cucumber, partially peeled** and chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 8oz. containers of feta cheese

1 tbls dijon mustard
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil + enough to drizzle the shrimp
garlic salt

Cook orzo according to directions and drain. In a large bowl, whisk mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. Pour in hot drained pasta and mix well. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread shrimp in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil and garlic salt. Roast shrimp for 5 minutes - do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. *You can use precooked shrimp, just roast for 3-4 minutes - when shrimp start to curl up, they are getting overcooked. Add shrimp, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, dill and feta to pasta and toss well to combine.
**I run a peeler down the length of the cucumber to make stripes, it's partially peeled but still has the wonderful green color of the peel

Don't forget to visit The Grocery Cart Challenge on Fridays for lots of fabulous recipes and ideas!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Walgreens Haul

Not much of a haul, I'll admit but my store was out of almost everything I planned to get! No Revlon lip gloss, no Pledge Fabric sweepers and just this one lonely Windex wipes can remained. I still had $7 in Register Rewards that were expiring so I improvised. I found these Kashi Go Lean bars on clearance for $1.09 and got a bunch of Valentine stuff for my little guy's class.

Here's the lowdown:

1 can Windex wipes $2.50
7 Kashi Go Lean bars $1.09 each
6 candy necklaces 3 for $1
10 big eraser pencils 2 for $1

Coupons used:
7 $1/1 Kashi products
$1.50/1 Windex wipes
$7 Register Rewards

Total OOP: $2.31!

Can't beat cheap granola bars - I always keep them in my car, purse and briefcase for whenever I need a healthy pick-me-up.
An employee told me that the store should be getting a truck today so I'm sure I'll make another trip before the sale week ends.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Grocery Budget Update

The flu bug has hit my husband and now my son, so my postings may be delayed...

I'm really glad February is the shortest month of the year because I have been blowing through my grocery budget and we aren't even two weeks into the month! Did you see my Albertson's trip here, taking advantage of the double coupons? Well, Fred Meyer was having an oatmeal sale that I simply could not pass up.

Some background on our oatmeal purchases: My 4-year old son LOVES oatmeal for breakfast and he eats it nearly every morning. BUT he only likes 2 flavors of the Quaker instant oatmeal: maple & brown sugar or cinnamon roll. You know my Costco-loyalist husband, right? He buys the jumbo 55 pack of Quaker oatmeal at Costco for $9.99 ($.18 per packet). He and I end up forcing down the Regular and Apple flavors that are left over and we still have a ton leftover every time. It seemed like a lot of waste to me and frankly, my stocking up lately has left little room in our pantry for items that aren't being used immediately.

The Fred Meyer brand of oatmeal is on sale this week 10 for $10 so I was able to buy all Maple & Brown Sugar flavor for only $.10 per packet! No more leftovers here.

Here's what I got:

5 boxes (10 packets in each box) Oatmeal $1 each with store coupon
Bananas $1.30

Total OOP: $6.30

I had $69.12 left in my budget, less the Albertson's trip ($19.96), less the FM trip ($6.30) leaves me $42.86 for the remainder of the month. Not as bad as I thought - I can do this!

What have you got for me lately?

My mailbox has been spinning with all the FREE samples that I've received over the last week. Here's the list and I've linked if it's still available:

Rachel Ray's Nutrish Dog Food Sample
Costco Diaper Samples
Orville Redenbacher Natural Popcorn Sample
Gold Bond lotion sample
Quaker Rice Cakes sample
Home Made Simple coupon book

The Home Made Simple Coupon book has amazing high value coupons for lots of cleaning products like Swiffer, Cascade, Mr. Clean and Febreze.

Sign up for it here:
Home Made Simple Coupon Book

You can also sign up for Right@ Home coupons and some yummy Valentine's Day recipes here:

The Gold Bond sample is no longer available but you can still get a $1/1 coupon for it here.

I also received my FREE $5 gas card from Chevron from the online quiz back in November. I enjoy trying new things and signing up for samples is a great way to increase your coupon stash as most products also come with coupons! Happy Freebies!

Monday, February 9, 2009

FREE Bally's Fitness Membership

Was one of your New Year's Resolutions to lose some of those holiday pounds? Or maybe you just want to try something new in your workout routine?

To help you check that off your Resolutions List, Bally's Total Fitness is offering a FREE 7-day trial membership. WOW!

Bally's Free Trial Membership

In my area, these are really nice gyms with lots of great classes. They also offer personal trainers to get you into shape and keep you motivated to stay in shape!

Click on the link above to find the center nearest you and get all the information you need to redeem your FREE membership. You really don't have anything, except those extra pounds, to lose!!

Menu Plan Monday

We did quite well with last week's plan, although the chicken sausage may have been a victim of my malfunctioning freezer. I used it on the pizza but it did not taste right at all so we ended up picking it off the pizza and enjoying the rest. I still have a can of dough left so we'll do another homemade pizza night!

French Onion Soup - how many weeks has this been on the menu? Will we ever actually make it?!!

Stir Fry - Organic veggie box has baby bok choy in it so I will use that in a stir fry

Flank steak

Chopped Salad is where you can find all kinds of menu planning tips and great organizing tips. Have a great week!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

As you probably know, Albertson's is doing double coupons this week through Tuesday so I just had to do some weekend shopping. I took advantage of some great deals! Here's what I got:

Transaction #1

2 Kashi frozen coconut chicken $3.50 each**

3 Coffee Mate creamer $3 for $5

1 Darigold sour cream $1.99

2 Beechnut Wheat cereal $.89 each

1 Albertson's brand coffee $3

1 whole young fryer chicken $4.50

2 packages Ballpark franks $1.99 each

2 packages Oscar Meyer hot dogs $1.99 each

Coupons used:

2 $1/1 Macaroni Grill (doubled)

2 $1/1 Coffee Mate creamer (doubled)

$.40/1 Darigold sour cream

Free Albertson's coffee

$2 off chicken

**The store manager and I searched everywhere for the Macaroni Grill dinners that were included in the $2 off chicken deal and they were nowhere to be found so he let me sub the Kashi dinners and still use my coupons!

Total OOP: $17.46

I found an extra ad in a cart in the parking lot - someone had ripped out the store coupons but left the doublers! So I moved on to another store and here was the next trip...

Transaction #2

3 Quaker Simple Harvest granola bars $2.50 each

2 Orville Redenbacher Kettlecorn $2.00 each

2 Wild Harvest Organic pinto beans $1.00 each

Coupons used:

2 $1/1 Simple Harvest (doubled)

2 $1/1 Orville R. popcorn (double)

2 $1/1 Wild Harvest organic

Total OOP: $2.50!!

The second store was claiming that they didn't have any extra doubler ads but I'm hoping I can find some before Tuesday. If not, then I may still try to find another computer to print out more Wild Harvest coupons and stock up on free organic beans!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

I can't believe it's Friday already, thank goodness! This was an experiment recipe that turned out absolutely wonderful. It was so simple and easy to prep and the ribs turned out moist and delicious.

2 baby back rib racks - about 8-10 ribs each, cut down to 4-5 ribs

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

Montreal Steak Seasoning

BBQ or other sauce

Rub Montreal seasoning over meaty side of ribs then arrange in slow cooker so that they all fit. Add brown sugar, vinegar and water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from slow cooker, place on a cookie sheet and brush with BBQ or other sauce*. Put in oven for 15 minutes to warm the sauce on the ribs.

*Next time I will take the sauce from the slow cooker and boil it down to make a reduction sauce. There was a nice amount of liquid after removing the ribs that would make a wonderful sauce or a gravy, if you like.

Find this and all kinds of other yummy recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge. Lots of goodness over there this week!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Amazon Deal of the Day

Lots of Infant and Toddler shoes are Amazon's Deal of the Day. Most are priced at around $9.89, discounts of up to 66% off the regular prices. I stocked up for my 4-year old, who outgrows shoes these days faster than he can wear them out! I also signed up for a free membership in Amazon Prime which gave me FREE 2-day shipping for this order. Sizes and quantities are limited and this sale is only going on today. Happy shopping!

Grocery Budget Update

Last month I made it just under by $.47 for my grocery budget ($83.62 per month) but it's only 4 days in to February and already I feel like I'm off to a rough start. My husband decided at the last moment, IN THE CAR on our way to a SuperBowl party that he wanted me to make pigs in blankets for the party. So we stopped at Fred Meyer - I had no coupons or anything planned. Here is what we got:

1 bunch of bananas $1.59
2 packages Lil Smokies on sale $3 each
2 cans of FM brand crescent rolls $1.99 ea
2 heads Romaine lettuce $1.49 ea

Coupons used: Zero, zip, Nada
Bag refund: -$.05

Total OOP: $14.50. This leaves me $69.12 for the rest of the month. Let's hope I can work some of those Albertson's double coupon deals this week to keep me on track!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Awesome Albertson's

Albertson's is doing it again! Albertson's is once again doing DOUBLE coupons this week. *Check your local ad to ensure that stores in your area are running this promo. With the ad coupons, you can double up to 4 coupons (max Value $1) per family, per shopping trip.

I read a lot of frugal blogs from those who live in areas where coupons are always doubled, so if you live in one of those areas it's hard to understand why we are so excited about this when it happens. Well, none of the grocery stores in the Seattle-area double coupons on a regular basis, so Albertson's doing this twice within a month is very rare indeed.

I was not planning on shopping this week since it's so early in the month, AND we have a huge stockpile of basics AND I need to stay on budget, but I don't know how I can pass up the doubles opportunity. Now I'm so excited to shop!

Here are some of the match-up sites that I have found:

The Thrifty Soaper

A Thrifty Mom

Fabulessly Frugal

Have you found other great deals? Leave a comment with any other great buys. Happy Doubling!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giveaway Alert

Wedding season is just around the corner and brides-to-be everywhere are figuring out how to plan a day that they will always remember. Wouldn't it be great if you had a little extra cash, just to get you started? The kind folks over at Hallmark are giving one lucky couple $4000 toward a "Perfect Start!"

Heck, I'll bet some frugal readers could plan a whole wedding with this cash! Additionally, you get a whole year of greeting cards in the form of a $1000 gift card to Hallmark stores. According to the official rules, this contest is actually open to everyone - so enter away!

Just looking at my blog index and realized that I have hit 100 posts - HOORAY! I am looking forward to the next 100 and want to thank you, kind readers, who continue to follow me on this frugal journey in these interesting economic times. And now, back to the deals...

Menu Plan Monday

I plan and I plan and somehow we just never get to everything that is on the menu! We went to a couple of Super Bowl parties but somehow didn’t get to the Caesar salad that we were supposed to make for one of the parties. So we’re definitely having Caesar before the lettuce goes bad. This week should be a lot less hectic since I don’t have to travel.

Here it is:

Caesar Salad with ??

French Onion Soup –

Chicken Sausage Pasta

Baby Back Ribs

Make your own Pizza night is where you can find all the best Menu Planners along with lots of awesome organizing tips and advice. I always find something new there to help keep my house and life organized.

About Me

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Seattle Area, Washington - the state
I am an attorney, working mom of 3, who loves a bargain, a great deal and freebies. Who doesn't want the best, for less? Come here to see my triumphs and budget tribulations, good deals and my take on what the good life can mean...