I tried four new recipes over the last week and have to say, Pinterest never fails me. I think they all turned out really good and I’ll definitely put these into the regular rotation. It’s funny though, there aren’t too many meal recipes I’ve made twice since being out of work. Why? There are so many recipes to try out there! There are a handful which I’ve made a few times; those are our go-to meals. But there has been far more new recipes I’ve made.

All the recipes can be found on our Pinterest board.
Extrapolate This!

Chocolate Chip Scones

I haven’t tried baking much since being out of work, and I’ve been wanting to give scones a try. I found this low calorie scone recipe that looked really good and easy. What’s nice about this scone recipe is that it comes in at only 155 calories because there really isn’t much sweetener involved. Aside from the chocolate chips, the only other sweet ingredient is the maple syrup. But don’t worry, you won’t miss it. There is just enough sweetness. These scones were great with a hot cup of coffee.
New Recipes

Next up: Easy Baked Taco Pie. Another fast recipe to make. Just one pot and pan. The only adjustment I made was to the chili powder. I didn’t use any; instead I used Ortega taco seasoning as we have a bunch in the pantry. I also baked it in a 9″ square baking pan instead of a round one. We ended up getting 2 1/2 meals out of it. Not bad for what amounts to about $6 in ingredients.

New Recipes

Malibu chicken

I didn’t snag a picture of this one, the pic below is from Pinterest. I changed this recipe more than any of the others. I didn’t end up breading these at all. I just baked the chicken breasts with some salt and pepper. Once done, I topped them with ham and baked them in the broiler for just a minute to crisp up the ends of the ham. Then I added cheese and put them back under the broiler for about half a minute. Pretty simple. The thing I liked about this recipe most was the dipping sauce, mmm. I would make that again to use with other recipes.

New Recipes

Marinated Baked Pork Chops

This one we had last week. We were a little skeptical at first because the ingredients in the glaze seemed a little basic and the ketchup threw me a little. But the glaze was great. I’ll end up using it in other recipes just like the sauce from the Malibu chicken. Note – if you’re buying canned green beans, grab some fresh ones from the produce market. They’re not only a good price, but so much better and worth the extra effort. We haven’t had canned green beans in a long time.

New Recipes



A while back we tried a new pizza place called MOD Pizza. It reminded me of a Chipotle, but for pizza. You could choose one of their specialty pizzas from their simple menu or build your own pizza. The pizza is prepared – built – in front of you in assembly line fashion and then baked quickly in their pizza oven.

On our first visit I was feeling a little adventurous, so I tried their Lucy Sunshine pizza off their simple menu. I can’t say I’ve tried artichokes up to this point, but I haven’t found a vegetable I haven’t liked yet so why not? The Lucy Sunshine includes MOD’s signature crust, garlic, mozzarella, Parmesan, artichokes, and dollops of their red sauce. It was really good!

A couple weeks ago I took a shot at making my own version at home. It turned out great, but still needed a little tweaking. Last night was take 2 at making my semi-homemade version – I cheat a little by using Pillsbury’s thin pizza crust.

Read More →


A Day In The Life

Ah, Tuesday.

Tuesday is actually more like the first day of my week. I say that because Nicole works three days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I save all the cleaning aside from the daily dishes and things like that for Tuesday. I’ve reiterated before, whomever is home more should be doing more around the house. It’s not fair for Nicole to have to work and clean the house if I’m not working. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Our townhouse is about 1600 square feet. Not huge, but not small either. Fortunately, with just two of us and my son here only a few days a month, the house never really becomes what I would call dirty. It becomes cluttered at times, but that’s about it. Nonetheless, I do a pretty thorough cleaning on Tuesdays. I look at it as exercise as well; burning a few extra calories doesn’t hurt. I like starting early too. By the time Nicole leaves for work – around 6:45am – I’m already starting on the kitchen.


My morning today is dedicated to cleaning. It only takes about 3-4 hours to clean all of the “usual” things in the house including laundry. And each week I end up taking on something that is a little more time consuming, but it’s more of a once-in-a-while kind of item to clean. Today it’s the patio door vertical blinds. Our patio door has three sections to it, so there’s about a 10′ section of blinds I’ll take down and wash. Fun stuff.

As for dinner, slow cooker cashew chicken is on the menu tonight. I’ll post a review and my pics later this week. Yes, I found it on Pinterest, as always.




Our weekend kind of started – well beginning Friday – started off pretty busy. We went to the Cubs game via some free tickets Nicole scored from work, along with a parking pass. We’re South Side fans in actuality – White Sox fans for those of you not familiar with Chicago – but it’s hard to pass up free tickets to any sporting event. We ended up only spending $12 grabbing lunch to bring into the park with us. Pretty nice outing for the price. Of course, that doesn’t include the hour drive to and the two hour drive home from the park. Thank you, Chicago traffic.

Enjoy your weekend!

Ikea Visit

Monday Dinner Recipe

How We Have Fun On A Budget



I know some people have this thing against leftovers but it doesn’t bother me in the least. I get a kick out of seeing how far we can stretch one meal. And since there’s only two of us, most dishes I make feed us for two dinners, if not more. One of my favorite recipes, Mexican Cornbread Casserole, will feed us for three days (dinner only) and costs about $12 total, which is only $2 per person, per meal. It does get a little more expensive when you factor in fresh avocados, which we like to add on top of the casserole (after it’s been cooked or reheated), but that’s usually only an additional $1.50-$3.00 total depending on whether they are on sale. And it’s so good that we don’t get sick of eating it. The same goes for the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti I like to make. That tends to feed us for four dinners, so it comes out to about $1.50 per person, per meal (and that’s over-estimating beef at $5 per pound and using two jars of spaghetti sauce (it’s too dry with just one jar in my opinion)).

I will usually make these multi-meal dishes on a Monday so we can eat them for dinner Monday through Wednesday or Thursday since we’re a little more relaxed regarding eating out on the weekends. Unlike some people who feel one should never eat out (and I get where they are coming from since it’s almost always more expensive to eat out than make the same dish at home), I see nothing wrong with it as long as it’s not excessive and you’re not sacrificing saving for your future just so you can eat out all the time. For me, going out to eat is an adventure. I like trying out new places and just relaxing with with my husband in a new environment. After a week of working and eating at home, it’s nice to get out on the weekends and do something different.

If you’re going out to eat on a daily basis, though, that’s just foolish. Not only is it wasting money, it’s not healthy. Portion sizes are always bigger and you can’t control the fat or salt content of your dishes. Plus home-cooked meals can often be even yummier than restaurant food. Sure, there are some things I prefer not to make myself (like steak tacos and Thai food), but pasta? Why pay for that at a restaurant when I can make tastier and way cheaper spaghetti at home? It’s a no-brainer if you ask me.

What are your favorite dishes that yield leftovers?


Oh do I love Thanksgiving! I think it’s my favorite holiday because I love to eat. Every year I try to perfect my turkey cooking technique, so I was happy to find this article – 10 Common Turkey Mistakes. I’ll be studying it before it’s time to put my bird in the oven (and which is currently defrosting in the refrigerator).

I like having a lot of sides such as classic green bean casserole, crescent rolls, cranberry sauce, etc. but one of my favorites is this Sweet Potato Casserole from The Pioneer Woman. Only she can come up with a dish appetizing enough to make me eat the dreaded sweet potato! Ever since I discovered the recipe I make it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?


This may come as no surprise to anyone else, but I recently learned that the fastest and most cost-effective way to make mashed potatoes is to buy whole potatoes in the can. I store them in the pantry and can whip up a batch of mashed potatoes with no pre-planning. I love that!

All you have to do is heat up the pre-cooked potatoes, drain them, and add butter, milk, and/or sour cream and mash those babies up. Look, the recipe is even on the back of the can!

Canned Whole Potatoes

Sure, it’s cheaper if you buy a bag of potatoes, peel them, and boil them, but who has time for that these days? Even if I use two cans of whole potatoes (which serves at least 4 people) I’m still saving at least a dollar, if not more, versus buying the frozen Steam and Mash potatoes from Ore-Ida. Plus I’m not taking up valuable space in the freezer. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner!


Spreadable Butter

We go through a lot of spreadable butter in our house because we love it. What we don’t love is the price. A large container from Land O’ Lakes, like the one pictured above, costs over $3.00 (usually closer to $4.00) for what amounts to about 3 sticks of butter and some oil. When butter is on sale you can get 4 sticks for $2. So I’ve been on a mission to make my own spreadable butter to save money.

Apparently the 3rd attempt is the charm as my most recent batch came out excellent – it spreads evenly and tastes great!

The first time I made it the oil taste was overwhelming. The second time I made it I used evaporated milk instead, as someone online had suggested, and not only did it look weird (although it tasted fine), it spoiled too quickly (within two weeks). It literally grew mold which was gross.

So here’s my guide on how to make spreadable butter the right way.

Note: The oil to butter ratio you want to use is 1/3 cup oil for every stick of butter.

1) Use a good canola oil. I always thought that all canola oils are made the same but on my first attempt I used Market Pantry canola oil and I was disappointed with the flavor. This time I used Wesson. BIG difference in taste. I love generic foods but in this case the name brand was better. It must be how it’s processed because I noticed the Wesson canola oil is much lighter in color than Market Pantry’s.

2) Use your favorite salted butter. In this case Target brand butter – Market Pantry – wins for me. It has a perfect creamy texture and the right amount of salt.

3) Remove your desired amount of butter from the refrigerator and let it soften.

4) Put the butter in a food processor and mix it up until smooth.

5) Add your oil slowly, while continuing to mix, making sure everything is mixed thoroughly.

6) Transfer to your desired container and store in the refrigerator.

The butter should keep good for three months which is more than enough time to eat it all, at least in this household!

Since I like to reuse containers, I found that 3 sticks of butter is the perfect amount to fill up the large Land O’ Lakes spreadable butter container. Just make sure to clean it out real good between batches.