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Month: October 2011

Potato Skin Salad and Food News

Potato Skin Salad and Food News

Food52, have you heard of it? I listened to a great interview with Amanda and Merrill on Martha Stewart’s Sirius station, Everyday Food. I heard the program on the way home from what should have been a trip to Costco. I drove to the warehouse without checking the hours and knew as soon as I saw the open parking lot, I’d come to late! I needed a few key items for a couple recipes and thought Trader Joe’s might be the next best place to visit. Apparently, TJ’s and the surrounding mile or so was sitting through a major power outage! All of downtown Danville was dark.

The next closest store with the best prices would be Fresh & Easy. I hate going there without my $5 off coupon that I have each week. UGH, now that I think of it, I had TWO coupons (could have just split the transaction.) Anyhow, it is a great thing that Fresh & Easy is not too far from TJ’s (but far enough away to have power.) I had my ears glued to the Sirius Stars station at this point and listened to a writer from TV Guide talk about Paranormal Activity and all the new eerie shows on tv. Driving through blacked out streets made the listening all the creepier!

I picked up my items and then about a thousand more from F&E. I needed to get stuff to make Loaded Potato Salad for my husband’s tailgating adventure at the 49er’s game tomorrow. It’s a basic potato salad with extra fatty stuff added to make it taste like ‘tato skins.

  • 1 lb. red or gold potatoes – cut into chunks (leave skins on)
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing mix (or blend onion powder, garlic powder, salt, parsley or dill)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 2 T. chives

As you chop your potatoes, add them to a huge mama pot of cold water. Add more water if needed, to cover potatoes by an inch. Bring to a boil and let cook 10 minutes.

Cook the bacon while you wait for the potatoes to boil. I’d suggest getting a pizza roller and slicing the bacon into little strips ahead of time.

Once the potatoes are boiled and the pot is drained, lay the potatoes across a large baking sheet and sprinkle with your homemade (or store bought) ranch style seasoning. Place the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Mix the mayo, sour cream, garlic and pepper. Add the cold potatoes, followed by cheese, bacon and chives. Let the salad chill and meld together. Run across the country to balance calories.

Back to Food52. On the way home, I flipped to the Martha Stewart channel and was intrigued by the ladies discussing their book and some easy peasy recipes. One of which was Lazy Mary’s Improved Lemon Tart. I’m dying to try this. To make the filling you throw a whole lemon, seeds, skin and all, into a blender with vanilla, a stick of butter, sugar and eggs. How fun does that sound?

They also discussed a super sounding apple cake with maple, almonds and no flour. However, I am currently banning myself from baking more apple cakes. I made Lisa’s cake on Thursday for a party on Friday and probably ate 3/4 of the pan myself. Oh yes I did.

Oh no you di’nt!

So go check out, it looks really fun. Especially the Dinner and a Movie section, which currently pairs a dinner with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, fun!

This is the perfect opportunity to let you know that Food It Forward will soon be featuring a weekly movie and meal post. My husband is a serious movie buff. I have a BFA (that is a Bachelor’s of Fine Art) in Film and Television, you’d think I’d be the movie master of the house. No way, my husband can pull out a movie title like no one’s business. He has a fun page on Facebook called, 10 Word Movie Reviews. He will be choosing a film and giving you a new way of looking at it. I’ll be doing the food side obviously. We’ve been talking about it for a while now, but I thought I’d mention it after seeing Food52 does something vaguely similar to what we have planned. Look for the first movie and meal next week!

Trader Joe’s Fall Finds

Trader Joe’s Fall Finds

I wanted to post this last night, but guess who fell asleep at 8:30? I know, poor me. I took these photos with my husband’s iphone and let’s just say I won’t be invited to National Geographic anytime soon, mkay?

First find, Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas!…one bite at a time

You’ve probably had the original Gone Bananas, which are just frozen bananas covered in chocolate. It’s always a better thought than treat, though. The banana is icy and you end up sawing cold bananas with your teeth. Hence, one bite at a time. Little banana nuggs, covered in chocolate. Bon Bons gone healthy. Yep, I’m gonna keep telling myself that.

Next up, more buttah flavors! Now in addition to the pumptastic honey pumpkin flavor, TJ’s has added Fig Butter, Cranberry Apple Butter and Mango Butter. I have the fig butter on the counter at home, just waiting for inspiration to strike. I haven’t decided what to spread it on yet, I’ll let you know. (I’m sure you’ll be on pins and needles!)

I also found a new flavor of Kind Bar, Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew. Kind Bars are full of chunky, chewy goodness and light in the crap department. Like Lara Bars, but with a few more additives. Notice how there are two bites already missing from my photo? I can’t believe Trader Joe’s sells already eaten bars. Hmph. Ok, George Washington once got in trouble for telling a lie while eating a cherry Kind Bar. I ate it while loading the groceries in the car.

My favorite is back! Maybe it has been around, I just don’t look for it until this time of year. The Trader Joe’s Artisan Puff Pastry is made out of 4 ingredients and makes the holiday season a breeze. Stock up, I’m freaking dead serious. You can make savory or sweet apps, desserts or any other creative pastry dishes you desire. This pastry dough is much easier to work with than the million sheets of phyllo dough that you have to brush butter on and much healthier than the Pepperidge Farm variety. Take my word, once you go black…Oh my lord, wrong analogy.

What do you love from Trader Joe’s? Have you tried the pumpkin pancake or bread mix? I want to hear from you! While I’m hearing from you, tell your friends to “like” Food It Forward on Facebook. We need 48 more to get to 100 FB friends. What happens then? I give prizes away!!!

Pioneer Woman’s Meatloaf

Pioneer Woman’s Meatloaf

I needed a meatloaf recipe that wouldn’t miss, so I turned of course to the Pioneer Woman. Her recipes are consistent and usually use all real food. I quickly found her My Favorite Meatloaf recipe and for once, I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand.

I soaked 6 pieces of bread in milk as directed, but used California Black Bread, instead of the white she suggested. I also swapped in 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1 1/2 tsp. thyme for the parsley, which I didn’t have.

Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 6 slices White Bread
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ⅓ cups Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
  • 4 whole Eggs Beaten
  • 10 slices Thin/regular Bacon


  • 1-½ cup Ketchup
  • ⅓ cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • Tabasco To Taste

The outcome? I took a bite and told my husband that I’d be swearing if I could, it was so yummy. This “loaf” if it can really be called that, is wrapped in bacon, which adds a ton of flavor. Both kids gave this meal a thumbs up, which happens about as often as a visit from Haley’s Comet.)

The bacon stayed soft though, which was a bit of a disappointment. Anyone have any ideas how to bake a meatloaf with bacon and sauce, yet get the bacon to crisp up (even a bit?)

Be prepared with a really big pan and plenty of foil. Two pounds of beef creates quite a loaf. I said, “You call that a loaf? This is a loaf,” a few times while preparing dinner. I know it is the lamest movie quote ever, I just couldn’t help it. I made a beast for dinner!

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

On a particularly rainy afternoon last year, my dear friend Lisa served a seriously delicious apple cake to our playgroup. I loved it and tried to create an equally yummy experience for my in-laws that weekend. I couldn’t remember the recipe Lisa had recited, so I figured Martha Stewart’s would taste the same. Martha ain’t got nuttin’ on Lisa’s apple cake. Old Matty’s cake is full of oil and tastes dense, as most fruit or veggie cakes do.

This morning, I dug through my old emails and found Lisa’s recipe! To be fair, it is her mother’s recipe. Lisa is Armenian and has a family full of Armenian women that cook. Not or type of cooking, the real kind. Family recipes stored in memory kind of cooking.

I did a couple things different with the recipe and it didn’t change it up too much. The cake calls for 1/4 cup of pineapple or orange juice, neither of which I had, so I swapped in some whole milk. I’m not sure if the citrus juice is meant for flavor or to help break down the apples. The next batch I make will use orange juice and I’ll let you know the difference on Facebook. What? You don’t follow FoFo on Facebook? Get thee self to the right side of this page and click the FB tab then, crazy daisy!

The second change I made was to the flour, half of the 1 1/2 cups called for, became wheat flour. It made the cake a touch heavier, but I think it still works. Do yourself a favor (my mom ALWAYS says that) and make this cake. It is so moist and light and apple-de-bapple-tastic. Speaking of crazy apple words, when I was seven years old, I was learning a dance in jazz class to Prince’s song, “I Would Die for You.” I didn’t know the song at the time and thought our routine was to some jam called, “Apple-Dee-Bapple, Boo, Hey!”


Lisa's Apple Cake
Serves 12
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
  1. 1 1/2 c. sugar
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1 1/2 c. flour
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  5. 1/4 cup pineapple or orange juice
  6. 4-5 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped (large pieces)
  7. For the top - cinnamon, sugar, butter
  1. Whisk eggs and sugar, add juice, then dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in chopped apples. Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar, and place dabs of butter on top (as much or as little as you want). You can also sprinkle top with chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Food It Forward
Chicken Nuggs

Chicken Nuggs

I’ve been putting off buying more frozen nuggets for my kids. When they are in the house, all three boys (husband included) seem to want nothing but frozen and breaded chicken. After a third day of begging from Dallas, I finally cracked and made some from scratch, with his help!

I adapted the Weelicious recipe to what I had in the house. Dallas had a blast dipping his hands full of raw chicken into the egg and then panko mixture. Yeah, I expose my kid to Salmonella. I also gave him some grape soda today. CPS may be knocking at my door any day. I probably won’t hear them though. If someone’s not yelling at home, well…then we aren’t home.

Two recipes in one day, I am on fire! (On fire for a mom also means that laundry and possibly showering may have gone neglected.)

Chicken Nuggs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Meal
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. chicken thighs - cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. Italian Herbs (or a mix of rosemary, oregano and thyme)
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive or Canola Oil Spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Combine dry ingredients
  3. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl
  4. Spray a large roasting pan with oil
  5. Dip chicken chunks in egg and then in crumb mixture
  6. Lay chicken in pan, with small space between
  7. Spray entire pan with oil spray once it is full with chicken
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until nuggets reach 165 degrees

  1. Bust out the ketchup!
Saturday Lunch and Matinee

Saturday Lunch and Matinee

My kids just woke up from really, really long naps (it’s almost 8 pm.) They had a rip roarin’ time with my aunt and cousins, while Jy and I went out on a date. That is our second date in a month, woo-hoo!

We didn’t have a lunch plan today, just thought we would check out what was near the movie theater we planned on seeing “The Big Year” at. Not feeling like your typical movie plaza fare, we popped into a restaurant named Tribu. The view from the sidewalk promised rice bowls and lots of meat. Deal sealed. There were a handful of other white folk in the joint, families sharing large plates and two flat screened tvs. Have you noticed the new flat screen trend in family eateries? Check it out…

Not in the running for any design awards.

Don’t worry, only one wall is orange.

I was really worried about the iced tea I had coming to me. The tap water tasted awful. Jy thinks I’m crazy, but I can seriously taste the difference between good and bad tap water. I wasn’t lovin’ it. The tea though, woo mama, that was tasty! I’d love to tell you what is in it, but this is all the menu describes:
So my tea and “other secret ingredients” tasted like southern style sweet tea mixed with an Orange Julius. Totally tasty!

Here is where the lunch got interesting. The waiter was trying to help us choose our meals and mentioned the popular dishes. None of the wait staff in this place speak loudly. He was mumble-whispering in a slight accent. I did gather the following, there was the white people BBQ chicken dish, the popular pork and the other popular pork WITHOUT pig ear. Come again? As in, the treat I would buy my dog, pig ear? Uh, I’ll take the earless dish.

Jy chose a steak dish with garlic rice. He is a steak whore, to put it nicely. My earless pig dish is named California Sisig (the California is code for picky white chicks) and offers this description: Grilled pork steak chopped and blended in a citrus-soy mixture. Topped with onions and minced jalapeno peppers. They really don’t want to let their secrets out, do they?

We both decided my plate was far superior to Jy’s. I am still not sure how to describe the flavor, it was like a teriyaki pork with a bit of sweet and a touch of vinegar. Not much help, am I? I sprinkled the peppers over the plate and it really added a nice kick. I would absolutely visit this place again. Wondering what type of food we ate? So were we! It wasn’t until I checked Tribu’s website that I learned that we ate Filipino food. Totally yummy and totally earless.

After lunch we headed to the theater to see Real Steel (the movie that has been described as the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot movie.) I loved it and absolutely recommend it to anyone. Some of the dialogue was a bit over the top, but at its core Real Steel was a heartwarming father and son sports movie. You know what really sent this theater visit over the top? They sold, get this…Starbucks and cotton candy. So serious and so wonderful.

We’ve Been Booed!

We’ve Been Booed!

We were sneakily booed last night! If you have never been booed, I suggest you boo someone else and wait patiently to be booed back. It’s a really cute neighborhood tradition that can bring community together in the spirit of Halloween.

Here’s how it works, you print out the You’ve Been Booed sign from or search for another design if you choose. Grab some Halloween treats and leave them (along with the Boo sign) at a neighbor’s doorstep, but don’t let them catch you!

The Boo sign will instruct your neighbor how to keep the fun going.

We have GOBBLED up our cookies. Thank you to our sneaky Booers! Our turn comes tonight. Boo!

Jamie Oliver’s Granola

Jamie Oliver’s Granola

I know I posted about granola in the past, but I’ma gonna do it again. It is the yummiest way to get in some serious fiber, protein and vitamins. Store bought granola can be full of junk and is either too bland (it’s mostly oats) or really sweet (it is mostly sugar.)

Granola is not the cheapest thing in the world to make, it just isn’t. It goes a long way though, and if you make it right, you won’t be able to live without it! There are all kinds of recipes for granola, but my favorite is one of the easiest. Jamie Oliver’s granola is fantastic. It calls for seeds (I used poppy, chia and pumpkin) and it only takes 25 minutes in the oven. The trick to granola is stirring it every 5 minutes. Just set the timer and organize your junk drawer. Don’t wander off. I promise, this will be the hardest part of the whole process.

I think I’ll keep posting about granola, every month or so until someone tells me, “Hey, I made my own granola! It was good.” Then, I shall stop.

Jamie Oliver's Granola
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
  • 1 heaped cup mixed nuts
  • ¼ cup mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, sesame)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • About 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups dried fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Put oatmeal, mixed nuts, mixed seeds, coconut, and cinnamon on a baking sheet. Stir well; smooth out. Drizzle with maple syrup and olive oil; stir. Bake 25-30 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so take out and stir, then smooth down with a wooden spoon and put back in oven. When granola is golden, remove from oven, mix in dried fruit (roughly chop any large pieces); let cool. Serve with milk or yogurt. You can keep leftover granola in an airtight container about 2 weeks, but it’s so delicious we’ll be surprised if it lasts that long!
  2. Jamie Oliver, Jamie’s Food Revolution (Hyperion, 2009), Health

Want more? Try a new recipe with me, Guilt Free Granola Bites.  They are made with kefir! Hmm! The recipe is from the blog, Organic Spark, which of course is another new favorite of mine!

Rachael Ray’s Sweet & Savory Spaghetti Squash

Rachael Ray’s Sweet & Savory Spaghetti Squash

 I spotted this recipe in the current issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray and thought I’d give it a go. It looks so cheesy and fall like!  Tonight, Jy asked if he could help with dinner. Why yes dear, in fact…you can do it! I handed over the recipe and off he went. The recipe below isn’t Rachael’s exact, but what we did. I read it wrong and had my husband use 8 instead of 6 tablespoons of butter. Uh, calling Paula?

We didn’t have any stock on hand, so we went with water, which in retrospect was not the greatest idea.

Recipe Review: Rachael Ray's Sweet & Savory Spaghetti Squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegetables
Serves: 4
  • arge (4 lb.) spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  1. In 1 squash half, combine brown sugar, 3 tbsp. butter, cinnamon, salt and pepper. In other half, combine 2 tbsp. cheese, 3 tbsp. butter, salt and pepper.
  2. Place both in 9-by-13- inch baking dish and add broth.
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 450° until tender, 50 minutes.
  4. Scrape into strands (still in the shell).
  5. Drizzle sweet with honey, and savory with italian seasoning and remaining cheese.
I didn’t want to push our oven past its limit, so I instructed Jy to roast the squash at 400 rather than 450. I left for a walk (hard night for me, huh?) and forgot to tell him that we’d need to cook the dish longer to compensate. Between the missing stock and the slightly crispy noodles that needed more roasting, this wasn’t the best dish ever.

On the bright side, my kids were all about this dinner. In fairness, Dallas ate a little and was too frustrated at the noodles falling into his lap, so he opted for the peas that I served on the side. He stuck both hands in the large serving dish of peas and announced that he would be eating the whole bowl. One second before I almost freaked out on him for eating like a caveman (well, not really, cave folk didn’t have Tupperware), I stopped. My kid wants to eat a bowl of peas. Green light!

Have you tried Spaghetti Squash? It is so fun, versatile and kids love it. As you can probably figure, I loved the savory and Dallas loved the sweet. Jy and Max just loved that there was something made for dinner.

Pumpkin Syrup

Pumpkin Syrup

Pumpkin flavor syrup

I mentioned a week or so back, that I would be trying out some of the pumpkin recipes I listed. Don’t remember? Click here. First test, pumpkin scones. First fail? Pumpkin scones. This is not to say that the recipe listed is bad, it just means my variations on the recipe are. Per usual, I tried to swap out half of the white flour for another type. Up to bat again was coconut flour. I baked some really yummy strawberry muffins with coconut flour a month or so ago, they turned out super. The trick to coconut flour in baking, is to double the liquid or wet ingredients. There is another step that I think I missed. I forgot to do a special dance and wear a certain apron and coordinate my baking with the full moon.

Seriously, WHY does coconut flour work sometimes and bomb others? At least my giant pumpkin shaped scone made for a pretty picture.

Let’s just move past the scones for now. They turned out more like cookie-muffins and just ain’t doin’ it for me.

You know what worked really well? Pumpkin Syrup!

Pumpkin Syrup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: dips & spreads
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Over low heat, bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to keep the sugar from burning.
  2. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and the pumpkin is fully mixed into the syrup. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to an airtight container. Refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.
I bet you even have the ingredients right in your pantry. Save some money on your pumpkin coffee drinks, pumpkin smoothies as well as all your pumpkin drizzlin’ needs. By the way, I was able to pour my syrup in the glass bottle that once held the delicious Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider you can currently find at Fresh & Easy.

I’m sorry I have no scone review for you. I have a bad habit of veering from the recipe at hand. Happy Weekend friends, October is quickly coming to a close, let’s make the most of it!



Published Sep. 25, 2011. Found at

This doesn’t ring true with anyone else, right? Not to say it is all on my husband. I’ve taken Dallas shopping and have brought home some really scary “food.” I think the worst incident happened when I was pregnant with Dallas and pretty sick. Carbs and candy were the only things that looked halfway edible. I came home with ten, yes…ten Halloween bags of candy. You know, the kind that are out right now? A giant bag filled with more candy than two adults need to have in the house? Yeah, we had ten of those. I figured we could bring them to the movies throughout the year and it was best to stock up on them while on sale. Total pregnant logic.

Not much else for tonight. We’ve had a weekend heavy full of chores and one sick kid. Here’s to a bit of a lighter and more playful week!

What $125 Buys at Costco

What $125 Buys at Costco

Not that much, right? The spaghetti squash is not included in this trip, it was just on my counter and snuck into the photo. So let me start by saying that I didn’t think our grocery bill would grow too fast after having kids. I figured we had a few years before kids really affected our food costs. I mean, how much can a four and a one year old eat? Apparently, a freakin’ lot!

This Costco trip was really just to grab meat. If you don’t already know, meat is the cheapest at Costco. Especially organic meat. The three pack of organic ground beef in this photo? It costs $13.99 at Costco. The same three packs would cost $22.47 at Safeway. The same brand, just totally inflated Safeway prices. Same with the organic chicken thighs, which sell for $3.99 a pound at Costco. Did you know that chicken breast is just more fashionable right now? There is no difference in meat quality or nutrition between the breast and the thigh. Although, I do tend to see a little more skin or fat in my thigh packs. Organic breast at Safeway is $8.99 a pound, that makes my choice nice and easy!

Canned pumpkin and organic sausage costs about 30% less at Costco than any large supermarket. For produce and dairy, you’ll typically find a 30% to 50% price cut at Costco as well.

You know how you won’t save money by shopping at Costco? By checking out all the other fun stuff! Paper goods are Costco’s biggest money maker and it is tempting to stock way up on paper towels, I know!

Check out and the Subscribe & Save program. If you are a student or a parent, you might qualify for Amazon Prime, which offers free, two day shipping on all prime-eligible products (which most are.) You’ll be able to score paper towels and toilet paper for 30% off and have a gigantic box delivered right to your door as often as you choose. This is how we get our diapers and wipes too.

Can you see the tortillas in the photo? Holy guacamole, frijole. Have you had these? They are uncooked tortillas (I choose the flour ones) from Tortillaland. They need about 90 seconds on a hot pan and they bubble up and brown just like the Mexi-ones my Nana (as in Tijuana) used to make. Ok, gotta stop and add that Nana has the same a sound as does Tijuana. Not to be confused with Nana (as in banana) and certainly not to say that Nana had anything in common with Tijuana. Anyhow, they are totally worth trying.

Now, I have never tried Saigon Cinnamon WTH is that? What’s next, Ho Chi Minh City Pepper? I’ll let you know what the extra Saigon flavor is.

So, that’s my Costco trip for today. Notice that this does not include any milk, cereal, nuts or other foods we devour during the week? That is because I’m sure I’ll have to hit another store in a couple days or so. Just realized, I’m out of eggs, make that in one day or so. I’m restarting my couponing game, but until I’m all up and running, my debit card hurts!

Root Beer Milk

Root Beer Milk

Ready for a treat? Try Root Beer Milk! I was born in 1977, but have read that a bit before that, root beer flavored milk was readily available. Am I wrong? I remember a friend trying it at a small creamery and it just did not sound appealing. Fast forward to life with a four-year old, BAM-O, root beer milk sounds genius.

I don’t really know why I took a scary picture of this drink. There is nothing scary about root beer milk, please don’t worry. It won’t turn your glass into a skull. Unless of course, you bought a skull glass in Las Vegas like I did.

So,You can probably figure out the first two ingredients in this recipe. In case you are a little, uh…not fast, I’ll tell you.

Root Beer and Milk. Equal parts of each.

You could drink it now, but you’d find that it really sucks. So, you need to get all Kool-Aid ghetto and dump in sugar. A decent amount of sugar. I would say a quarter to a third cup for each battle of Root Beer. I know, it’s a lot. The result is fantistic, though!


How to Shop at a Big Grocery Store

How to Shop at a Big Grocery Store

I have been trying to find the big box grocery store playlist for some time now. My local Safeway plays a lot of Avril Lavigne and Hanson and Tracy Chapman, making me think the store plays the Adult Contemporary (or somewhat contemporary) station offered by In-Store Broadcasting. The music is always either catchy or totally annoying. Guess what? That is just how they want it!

Just like casinos, grocery stores play music to get you in certain moods. Faster, annoying songs that make you want to get outta Dodge, may just cause you to grab and go. The faster you grab, the more likely you are to snatch up impulse items or take Safeway’s word on what a good deal is. (Hint: Just because a yellow tag says cereal is 2/$6.00, does not a good deal make!)

So,  Safeway (when I say Safeway, just insert your local big box store if it applies)

…can be your best friend and your worst enemy when it comes to prices. It is what is called a high and low store. If you are the type of person (most of us are) that shops around dinner time, Sunday evenings, when you are hungry or without a grocery list, be prepared to get ripped off. Safeway is smarter than you, just accept. There are no accidents in the way Safeway is set up.

Check out Balancing Everything’s coupon page to read how to be a shopper that grocery store owners love.

Here’s how Safeway works:

In the grocery world, there is a yearly schedule of sales. A sale cycle, if you will. (I will paste it at the bottom of this post.) So for example, in January, you can expect to find the best deals on:

  • Quaker Oatmeal (For National Oatmeal Month)
  • Diet Foods (New Year’s Resolutions)
  • Superbowl Foods & Chilis

February deals:

  • Canned Food (National Canned Food Month)
  • Chinese Food (Chinese New Years)
  • Breakfast Foods (National Hot Breakfast Foods Month)


  • Frozen Foods


  • Easter/Passover Foods like Ham, Food Coloring


  • BBQ Sauce

Ok, you get the point.

Take an ice cream example. In March, frozen foods are on sale in a serious way. You can find coupons up the wazoo for all things frozen. Ice cream should be easy to find for $2.  I really want to say $2 for a half-gallon, but ice cream cartons are now down to 1.5 quarts. Bring back the big ice cream!

This was the coupon book that came out late February. You would have found it at the customer service counter, in the frozen food aisle and would have been reminded to pick one up by the friendly overhead announcer.

Tonight I could find ice cream for NO CHEAPER than $5.99 for the same size as was sold in March at $2 or $3 without a coupon. It’s all about timing. Foods tend to go on sale every 12 weeks. So, I won’t have to wait until March for ice cream (though my jeans say, I should!)

This is why you’ll save the most money if you stock up while the gettin’ is good. Don’t run with that statement, please. Don’t hoard. Don’t extreme coupon your home full of junk food.

I’ll leave the stockpiling topic for another post. However, I will mention that some things are worth stocking way up on. Laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and anything you know you will use and doesn’t expire too quickly.

New Products

New products at your big store can be great buys. Usually, new products will have coupons available in the Sunday paper. Lots of us will think we are getting a great deal and will use our coupon to save, say .55 cents on this new product. Ok, so the manufacturer now has a little profit to show. Once we’ve all used our coupons and the item is no longer on sale, the manufacturer has to worry if his profits will go south. To prevent this, new products go on sale again about three or four weeks after the coupon hit the paper.

Guess who nabs the goodies now? Smart couponers. This is the time when you can find new products for at the very least, 50% off from its regular price. This helps the manufacturer to show sales continuing to increase. It is a win-win. Only to those who play the game though.

You know who else lurves new products? Kids. Especially all that crap yogurt with candy and cookies and anything else that can be squeezed out of one of those Gogurt test tubes.

I’m guessing you’ve had enough tips, I could go on and on. I’m fascinated by the grocery store! You know what fascinated me about Safeway tonight? The man at the self checkout, who clearly has no business checking himself out. He was slow, he left his dirty napkins next to the catalina (coupon) machine and he was just all thrown for a loop. He put the energy into pulling the catalinas out of the machine, but left them on the counter with his dirty napkins. Across from the man was a couple (a midlife couple) in their pajamas, buying a LOT of booze. Go fig. Everyone’s gotta grocery shop! I should just feel lucky I don’t have to do it all at Walmart. We’ve all seen those photos. Eek.

Typical Sales Cycle from Living Richly on a Budget


National Oatmeal Month: Quaker
Diet Foods: Healthy Choice, South Beach, Lean Cuisine, Special K, Kashi, Smart Start, 100 Calorie Packs, Yogurt
Super Bowl Sunday: Pepsi, Coke, Chips, Dips, Cheese, Sandwich Items, Crackers, Snacks, Wings
Seasonal Produce: Oranges, Pears, Grapefruit, Tangerines, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Cabbage, Spinach
Clearance: Christmas Decorations, Toys, Wrapping Papers,
Winter Health: Cold Medicines and Vitamins


National Canned Food Month: Canned Fruit, Pie Fillings, Vegetables, Meats: Tuna, Chicken, Salmon
National Hot Breakfast Month: Malt O Meal, Oatmeal, Eggo Waffles, Syrup
Valentines: Chocolate, Hershey’s, KY Lubricant, etc
Chinese New Year: Soy Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Noodles, Canned Water Chestnuts
Seasonal Produce: Artichoke, Asparagus, Raspberries, Potatoes, Strawberries, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Spinach


Frozen Food Month: Ice Cream, Frozen Vegetables (Boxed, Bag, or Steam), Frozen Meals, Foster Farms Chicken, Waffles, Pizza
Seasonal Produce: Artichoke, Asparagus, Haas Avocado, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Fennel, Kale, Leek, Lemon, Lime, Mushrooms, Spring Onions, Orange, Peas, Radish, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries, Tangerine


Easter: Ham, Eggs, Spices, Baking Supplies: Sugar, Spices, Baking Mixes, Chocolate Chips, Butter, Coconut, Marshmallows, Brownie Mix, Cake Mix
Earth Day: Organic Foods, Energy Saver, Reusable Totes
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Grapefruit, Haas Avocado, Mushrooms, Onions, Peas, Rhubarb
Clearance: After Easter sales


Memorial Day: BBQ Sauce, Condiments, Charcoal, Salad Dressing, Potato Chips, Dips, Grilling Meats, Hot Dogs, Hamburger Meat, Marinade, Salad Greens
Paper Products: Plates, Utensils, Insect Repellant, Sunscreen
Cinco De Mayo: Salsa, tortillas
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Avocado, Beans, Green, Beets, Blackberries, Carrots, Sweet Vidalia Onions, Peas, New Potatoes, Raspberries, Strawberries


National Dairy Month: Eggs, Milk, Ice Cream, Cheese, Cream Cheese, Butter, Yogurt, Whipping Cream, Whipped Cream, Cool Whip
End of June is Fourth or July Sales: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, Condiments, Charcoal, Salad Dressing, Potato Chips, Dips
Seasonal Produce: Apricots, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cherries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Honeydew, Nectarines, Peaches, Potatoes, Raspberries, Red Onions, Squash, Summer, Strawberries, Sweet Vidalia Onions, Tomatoes, Watermelon


National Ice Cream Month
More 4th of July BBQ Sales: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, Condiments, Charcoal, Salad Dressing, Potato Chips, Dips
End of July: Back to School Sales Begin: Crayons, Pencils, Folders, Binders
Seasonal Produce: Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, Beans, Green, Blueberries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Garlic, Grapes, Nectarines, Onions, Red, Valencia Oranges, Peaches, Sweet/Bell Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon


Back to School: Pudding cups, Lunch meat, Lunchables, Bread, Cold Cereal, Waffles, Lunchboxes
Disinfectant: Clorox, Purell
Clearance: Insect Repellant, Sunscreen, charcoal
Seasonal Produce: Gravenstein Apple, Haas Avocado, Green Beans, Beans, Berries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Grapes, Melons, Onion, Peaches, Bartlett Pears, Bell Pepper, Plums, Raspberries, Squash, Summer, Tomatillo, Tomato


Back to School Sales through Labor Day: Crayons, Pencils, Folders, Binders
Diabetes: Bayer Glucose Meters, Glucerna Cereal
Seasonal Produce: Apples, Artichokes, Beans, Bell Peppers, Chili Peppers, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Onion, Valencia Orange, Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, Pomegranate, Squash, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Winter Squash
Baby Items: Major Baby Equipment, Baby Safety


Halloween: Candy, Fresh Pumpkin
Beginning of the Baking Sales: Canned pumpkin, Evaporated Milk, Baking Chips
Daylight Savings Time Ends Promotions: Alarm Clocks, Batteries, Safety Equipment, Smoke Detectors
National Seafood Month
Adopt a Shelter-Dog Month: Pedigree, Purina
Seasonal Produce: Almonds, Apples, Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Chard, Chestnuts, Cranberries, Lemons, Parsnip, Pears, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, Spinach, Squash, Winter, Turnips, Yams


Hot Cocoa, Coffee, Tea
Baking Sales in Full Swing: Nuts, Chocolate Chips, Evaporated Milk, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Coconut, Cake Mixes
Canned foods: Soup, Broth, Vegetables, Fruits, Spaghetti Sauce
Thanksgiving Items: Turkey, Canned Pumpkin, Stovetop Stuffing, Betty Crocker Boxed Potatoes, Gravy Mixes, Frozen Pies, Cranberry Sauce, Jello, Marshmallows
Seasonal Produce: Anjou Pears, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Celery, Comice Pears, Cranberries, Kiwi, Lemons, Orange, Potato, Squash, Yams
Clearance: After Halloween Sales


Holiday Dinner: Egg Nog, Deli Platters, Instant Potatoes, Gravy Mixes, Frozen Pies, Cranberry Sauce, Jello, Marshmallows. Sour Cream Dips, Crackers, Chips, Soda, Ham
Baking: Flour, Sugar, Butter, Cream, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, Muffin Mix, Breads, Pie Crust, Marshmallow, Whipped cream
Canned Foods: Soup, Broth, Condensed Milk, Vegetables, Fruits, Spaghetti Sauce
Seasonal Produce: Anjou Pears, Bok Choy, Bosc Pears, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Dates, Grapefruit, Haas Avocados, Kale, Kiwi, Kumquat, Lemon, Napa Cabbage, Oranges, Sweet Potatoes, Red Cabbage, Rutabaga, Savoy Cabbage, Spinach, Winter Squash, Yams, Turnips, White Potato
Clearance: After Thanksgiving and After Christmas Sales

Lara Bars at Home – The Perfect Afternoon Snack

Lara Bars at Home – The Perfect Afternoon Snack

Anyone know where the umlaut button on the keyboard is? I need to spell Lara correctly.

The first time I tried a Lara, I threw away the second half. I was pretty mad. It tasted nothing like a grainy Clif Bar. Years later, when I tried another I was surprised at how simple and clean the chewy bar tasted. The time of the first tasting was also the era in my life in which I loved Hostess Hand Pies like my first born child. Mmm, cheap food. My husband just reminded me, I preferred the cheaper Home Run Pie.

 LÄRABAR is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. Made from whole food, each flavor contains no more than nine ingredients. Larabar

You can probably guess what sucks about a product that is made with quality ingredients and tastes good? It’s expensive! It doesn’t seem to bad to pay out $1.69 or so for a bar, but once you become addicted and want one daily, it adds up real fast. Here’s how to make one version at home.

You’ll need dates. Don’t skimp and get any kind other than Medjool dates. No dried, just a big container of Medjool. They will run you $7 for a pound unless you get them from Costco. They are totally worth it. You’ll get your money’s worth, promise.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Laras:

  • 6 Medjools Dates, pitted (there is also an end cap thingy, if you will, it can stay or go)
  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Throw all the ingredients into a high-powered blender or food processor. I know I talk about my Ninja blender a lot. It has 1000 watts and can chop almost anything up. I haven’t tried a Magic Bullet, but I am guessing you would be able to get similar results. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can obviously use a regular one, just try the pulse button. This way, you wont burn your motor.

My coconut looks fatter than yours will, I accidentally used sweetened. It over does the sweetness of the bar and I would suggest to stick to unsweetened.

Once your ingredients are chopped up into little bits, pile the mixture onto wax, parchment or aluminum foil. You can either ball up the mix or fold your paper/foil into a rectangular packet to make bars.

If you find the bars not sticking together well enough, your mix needs more dates. Throw it back in the chopper! Once you get the hang of it, play with new ingredients. Take out the chips and coconut. Replace the almonds with cashews. Throw in apple or banana chips. The dates will always be the binder.

There are tons of recipes online to creat your own Larabars. One of my favorite is from Chocolate Covered Katie and it is called a Girl Scout Larabar. It is a healthy version of a Samoa!

Girl-Scout Cookie Larabars

  • Packed 1/2 cup pitted dates (90g)
  • 2 T unsweetened shredded coconut (30g)
  • 1/16 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • scant 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 T (or more!) chocolate chips or bar

Put all the ingredients together in your food processor, and blend. (I like to make 1/2 a batch and use the Magic Bullet short cup.) You can reserve a few of the chocolate chips to add, post-blending, if you wish

I have made these and they are so dead-on, Samoa. SO yummy! Test Kitchen Tuesday also really breaks down the home Larabar world. I love her blog!