Jalapeno Poppers

There are SO many ways you can make these delicious pop-in your mouth poppers.  My hubby requested these for father’s day and of course I couldn’t refuse the man who is caring, generous, and charming and the most patient guy I know.  He truly is an amazing father to our three wonderful kiddos!  His favorite poppers is a pretty basic version, stuffing jalapeno halves with plain cream cheese, wrapping them with bacon, and baking them slowly for half an hour or so. Sometimes we will cook them on the grill.  Either way, they are a perfect match for your summer party.  Jalapeno's

Ingredients:

10 Fresh jalapeno

One 8-ounce package cream cheese

1 pkg of bacon

toothpicks

jalapeno

First, Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Begin by cutting jalapeno in half lengthwise.  Keep the stems intact.  Hubby says you want them to form a boat so you keep the filling from oozing out.  I think it looks prettier that way too!  With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and light-colored membranes.  Remember: the heat comes from seeds and membranes, so if you can handle the hot, leave some of them in.

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Next, stuff each hollowed jalapeno half with the cream cheese.

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Wrap bacon slices around each half, covering as much of the surface as you can.  Depending on the size of your pepper you may consider slicing your bacon in half (Large peppers may require a whole uncut slice of bacon) Be careful not to stretch the bacon too tightly around the jalapeno, as the bacon will contract as it cooks.

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Secure the jalapeno with toothpicks and pop them in the oven for 1 hour, or until the bacon is sizzling.  Serve hot or at room  temperature.  Seriously… you might consider making more than you think you’ll need, they are that good!!  These poppers can be assembled up to a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge before cooking.  OR they can be fully cooked and frozen in plastic bags and warm them up in the oven.

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Enjoy!

Extending the life of Summer Fruits

Last week one of our local stores had their blueberries and raspberries on sale.  I mentioned in a previous post Blueberry Bread how much we LOVE blueberries, so of coursce, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stock up.  Shortly after I came home from the store I realized we were going to be gone the whole following weekend.  I didn’t want to come home from our trip and throw away this wonderful deal.  So I came across some wonderful ways extend the life of berries.  Best of all, freezing fresh fruits during their peak season is a pretty savvy way to be frugal!

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Here are a few tips I found on how to extend the life of berries.

  • Vinegar kills any bacteria or spores on contact (That’s why its used in all natural and frugal cleaners). Applying the same principle to berries will help kill any mold or bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit.
  • As soon as you come home with your fruit, before placing in the fridge do simple vinegar wash first.  Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) with five parts water.  It is not necessary to rinse the berries after soaking.  Before placing in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
  • Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse them with water, dry and put in fridge (I promise they won’t taste like vinegar). Let stand undisturbed for 1 minute; do not allow berries to soak for longer.  Make sure they are completely dry before storing them in the fridge, which is the magic secret.  Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries can go almost two weeks without      getting moldy and soft.

Freezing Fruit

Here are some simple tips to freezing your fruit!

  • Wash blueberries or raspberries and pat dry.
  • Sort out any under-ripe, over-ripe, bruised or otherwise damaged berries. Also remove any leaves, stems or debris.
  • Pour the blueberries onto a cookie sheet in a single layer. This will keep them from freezing together in clumps.
  • Place the tray in the coldest part of your freezer, and leave it there until the berries are completely frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen blueberries to a freezer bag or another freezer-safe container of your choice.
  • Blueberries will keep in the freezer indefinitely, but are best used within six months of freezing.
  • Stay on top of what’s in your freezer by labeling all bags and containers with their contents and the date that you froze them

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Here are some frugal Summertime Fruits for June – July – August

Apricots, Asian Pear, Barbados Cherries, Black Currants, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, breadfruit, Cantaloupe, Casaba Melon, Champagne Grapes, Cherries, Crenshaw Melon, Durian, Elderberries, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honeydew Melons, Jackfruit, Key Limes, Limes, Loganberries, Loquat, Lychee, Mulberries, Nectarines, Olallieberries, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Persian Melon, Plums, Raspberries, Sapodillas, Sapote, Strawberries, Sugar Apple, Watermelon.

Blueberry Bread

Yes!! It’s finally blueberry season!  As a frugal gal, I typically try to choose fruits and vegetables that are in season to use in making our meals. If you’re not quite sure what’s in season, check out our grocery sale cycle to learn more!

In my house, I can sit a container of blueberries out on the counter and before it even seems possible, they’re gone!  While these are great to eat by themselves, I decided to try a new recipe for our breakfast this morning.   It was really good right out of the oven and extremely moist (the yogurt must have done that?).  I’ve tried many recipes in the past and this will defiantly be one I will do again.  The most important part, it went over great with the kiddos!   Thanks to Baking Bites for this wonderful recipe!

blueberry bread

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups blueberries (12 oz)
2 tsp lemon zest
½ cup plain yogurt, regular or low fat

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt.

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Add the blueberries and lemon zest and toss to combine.

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In a seperate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yogurt then the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated and being careful not to crush the blueberries.

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Scoop batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting gently onto a plate.

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I’m thinking this would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side for a perfect after dinner snack.

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If you want to make it super simple and bite sized for the kiddos, after refrigerated (it’s a bit difficult when hot) a few hours, use sharp, serrated knife and make long strokes to cut each slice.  And slice again down the middle.

27 Ways To Make Your Groceries Last As Long As Possible

I love cooking but I tend to get very frustrated when I try to cook and my fresh foods turn bad quicker than I can use them.  I found these great tips that will hopefully make life more frugal.  Thanks BuzzFeed Food for this great info!

1. Onions stored in pantyhose will last as long as 8 months.  Put onions in pantyhose, and tie knots between onion. Source: seriouseats.com

2. Freeze green onions in a plastic bottle. Make sure the green onions are completely dry before storing or they’ll get freezer burn.  Source: unchinabox.net

3. Get ethleneethlylene gas absorbers for the fridge.  A set of 3 costs $16. These little pods absorb the ethylene emitted by fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh up to 3x longer. Here’s a handy list of ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive foods. Source: savvysugar.com

4. Store delicate herbs like flowers, then cover with plastic, secure with a rubberband, and refrigerate. This is the best way to keep delicate herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro, and chives fresh the longest.

5. Treat oily herbs differently.  Oily herbs like thyme can be tied loosely together with string and hung in the open air.

6. If you use a lot of fresh herbs…Invest in an Herb Savor. Supposedly, it’ll make your herbs last up to three weeks.  Source: amazon.com

7. Use a vinegar solution to make your berries last longer.  Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) and ten parts water. Swirl the berries around in the mixture, drain, rinse, and put them in the fridge. The solution is diluted enough that you won’t taste the vinegar. Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft.  Source: passionforsavings.com

8. Spray leftover guacamole with cooking spray before putting it back in the fridge.  There are a number of ways to keep avocado green, and oil is one of them. You should also keep the pit in the guacamole.  Source: onegoodthingbyjillee.com

9. Don’t store onions with potatoes.  They’ll spoil faster. In a cool dry place with good air circulation, onions will last 2-3 months. Source: thevspotblog.com

10. Store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting.  Source: homesteadsurvival.blogspot.com

11. One rotten apple can spoil the bunch.  It’s not just an old wives’ tale. Source: thedailymeal.com

12. Add a dab of butter to the cut side of cheese to keep it from drying out.  Source: thedailymeal.com

13. More cheese rules: Wrap in cheese paper or wax paper (NOT plastic wrap) and then place in a plastic baggie. Keep in the warmest part of the fridge (vegetable or cheese drawer).  Source: thekitchn.com

14. Freeze and preserve fresh herbs in olive oil.

The herbs will infuse the oil while freezing, and the ice cubes are very handy for cooking: just pop one out and use as the base of a dish. Works best with rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. Dill, basil, and mint should always be used fresh.  Source: thekitchn.com

15. Follow these rules on where to place items within your fridge:  Source: squawkfox.com

Follow these rules on where to place items within your fridge:

16. Store asparagus like cut flowers.

Sort of. Cut the stems, place in water, throw a plastic bag over ‘em and refrigerate. They’ll stay crisp for a week or longer, and you can use this trick on cilantro and parsley as well. See here for more details.  Source: alwaysorderdessert.com

17. Wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with plastic wrap.

They’ll keep for 3-5 days longer than usual, which is especially helpful if you eat organic bananas. Bananas also produce more ethelyne gas than any other fruit, so keep them isolated on the counter.  Source: snapguide.com

18. This trick using a paper towel will keep your salad lettuce fresh all week long.  The paper towel will absorb the moisture. Get more info here.

Also, you might want to invest in a salad spinner. It’ll get rid of moisture, which is the culprit of wilting leaves.  Source: img.gawkerassets.com

19. Wrap celery, broccoli, and lettuce in tin foil before storing in the fridge.  It’ll stay crisp for 4 weeks or more.  Source: reparetodaywardnewsletter.blogspot.com

20. Mason jars are your friend.

They provide a healthier and longer-lasting alternative to plastic tupperware, which deteriorates and stains easily. Produce will keep a few days longer if stored in a jar.  Source: easyst2.blogspot.com

21. Clean your fridge.  Once something goes bad in your fridge or cupboards, it leaves behind a nice gang of mold ready to eat up your new food. Disinfect the fridge — it’ll make everything last a little longer.  Source: google.com

22. How to store tomatoes: Don’t store tomatoes in plastic bags! The trapped ethylene will make them ripen faster.  Unripe tomatoes should be kept stem side down, in a paper bag or single layer in a cardboard box in a cool area until they turn red in color. To ripen faster, store with fruit. The gases emitted will help ripen the tomatoes.  Perfectly ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, on the counter away from sunlight, in a single layer, not touching one another, stem side up.  Overly ripe tomatoes should be put in the fridge, but let them come to room temperature before eating them.  via Yumsugar.

23. Reuse plastic bottles to close up your plastic bags.  Make sure your produce is absolutely dry before putting the cap on.  Source: media-cache-ec4.pinterest.com

24. Keep ginger in the freezer. It grates much more easily, and the peel grates up so fine that you don’t actually need to peel it. Plus it lasts way longer.  Source: lowcarbdiets.about.com

25. Roast nuts as soon as you get home from the store, then store them in the freezer.

Nuts that are roasted have more flavor, keep longer, and can always be used in recipes that call for nuts, roasted or otherwise. Spread them in a single layer on a sheet pan, bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.  Source: 2.bp.blogspot.com

26. Keep mushrooms in a paper bag, not a plastic bag. A plastic bag will trap moisture and cause them to mildew. Put them in a paper bag in the fridge or in a cool, dry place.  Source: 123rf.com

27. Follow this handy guide on what to store on the counter, and what to put away in the fridge:

Follow this handy guide on what to store on the counter, and what to put away in the fridge:

M&M Teacher Appreciation gift

Teacher appreciation gift

Put on your seat belt… I tried something new for the girls teacher appreciation week (Thanks to my good friend Sara:)  I bought these cute little paint cans at Hobby Lobby for $1.99 (I’ve also seen them done with mason jars) and some colorful ribbon to tie at the top.  It was my lucky week, Walgreens had their M&M’s on sale and I just happened to have a coupon!  Who doesn’t like M&M’s?!  I printed out this cute M&M poem and glued it to the front of the can. Easy peasy frugal breezy!  Here’s the poem (in case you want to copy, paste & use)

Green is for the inspiration you give me each day.

Blue is for your patience in showing me the way.

Orange is for your warmth and caring style.

Yellow is for the way you always make me smile.

Red is for my life that you have touched this year.

You’re a very special teacher just like this jar, that’s clear.

You place knowledge in our children’s hands

and melt into their hearts and lives forever.

You’re a “Magnificent” & “Marvelous” teacher

Thank you for being my M&M.

M&M

Photo Deals

I love taking pictures!  like most moms, we want to capture EVERY minute on camera right?  One of the websites I use for most of my picture development is Shutterfly.com  You can create a thoughtful, quality treasure like a photo book, calendar, photo mug, wall hanging, card, stationery and more. Create your own style or use one of Shutterfly’s templates to make it even easier! With a Shutterfly.com membership, gift giving is stress-free. You can upload and save your photos easily and securely.  It’s important to note that ShutterFly offers everyday free shipping on orders over $30.00 and they always have special deals.  Make sure to look for coupon codes online before you purchase.  Happy Savings!

Shutterfly

Freezer-friendly Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

The fastest way to grab my girls attention is by saying the word cookie.  That’s right, I think this might be the only word I never need to say more than once in my house at any given moment no matter where they are and they start running.  It’s AMAZING! I keep telling Kinley when they grow up, I”m going to their house to break their stuff, eat all their cookies, make a huge mess, say I’m bored and then just leave:)  But until then, I found a pretty awesome recipe for freezer friendly treats that will gain a few brownie points from your littles.  Just pop a few of these yummy treats in the oven and viola your set!

Freezer Chocolate Chip Cookies2

 Ingredients:

1 cup shortening or butter (softened)
1/3 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (or raw sugar)
3/4 cup sugar (or raw sugar)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (you can also use white flour or half whole-wheat/half white)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups oats (rolled or quick oats)
1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

Freezer Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Cream together first six ingredients. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll into 1-1 1/2-inch balls.
To freeze: Place cookie balls on a cookie sheet and freeze for one to two hours. Remove from cookie sheet and place in an airtight freezer bag.
To bake: Pull out the desired amount of balls and place on a greased cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes to thaw. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.  Makes approximately 40 cookies.

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