February 28, 2011

Recipe: Turkey Sliders with Homemade Buns!

I got adventurous the other day when Z-man asked me if we could have hamburgers for dinner. My son never requests anything for meals (except cereal) so when he mentioned this, I was all for it!

I looked in our freezer and saw that we had frozen ground turkey, so I quickly took that out to thaw and then promptly went to the internet for a recipe. Here's what I found:

Turkey Sliders

20 oz. ground turkey

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove of minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic from a jar)

1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano

1 teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

Combine the ground turkey, the cheese and all seasonings. Mix together well. Shape mixture into 16 small patties. Place patties on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Side note: Our sliders came out of the oven with a lot of grease on the pan, so I just drained that and stuck them back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Homemade Slider Buns

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  1. Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as milk simmers, remove from heat and stir in shortening until melted. Set aside to cool slightly (to about 105°F to 115°F).
  2. Add warm milk mixture and remaining ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on lowest speed until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium low and mix until dough is smooth and springy, about 4 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, add dough, and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch down dough and turn onto a clean surface. Divide dough into 18 (1-1/2-ounce) pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth, round bun (keep the rest covered with the towel as you work). To do so, cup your hand around the dough, press down very lightly, and roll the dough against the surface to form a bun. Slightly flatten bun and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat to make 18 buns.
  5. Set buns aside in a warm area until slightly risen and puffy (note that they will not double in size), about 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange the rack in the middle.
  6. When buns have risen, bake in the oven until they are golden brown, crusty, and have an internal temperature of 190°F, about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack, and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Thank you to CHOW for the recipe for these Slider Buns! They turned out great!

Here are some fun after photos of our Sliders:

Did you try a recipe this week that was out of the blue? If so, I'd love to hear how it turned out!

February 26, 2011

Decorating on a Budget

I feel that decorating on a budget can easily be done if you are patient and willing to wait for a deal. I'm not an expert by any means on decorating, but I thought I'd show you a simple way you can use deals to decorate your home.

My family got our picture(s) taken at church for the church directory for free. The photographer is awesome! He is so patient with families with little kids, and is willing to take as many as possible to catch the perfect photo. When he is finished, he downloads them to a CD and we can take them home. Did I say that he does this for free? What a guy!

So once we got home to look them over, they were hilarious! Only because our kids are stinkers and would not look at the camera at the same time. We found this set of photos to be so funny that we sent them out as Christmas cards, and now we've made a collage out of them. Won't the boys love this when they get older? The photo in the lower right-hand corner is of Pudge sneezing on me and Z-man laughing and my husband looking stunning as ever! So funny!

I had our photo printed through Snapfish and got a 11x14 poster size photo for only $1.99 (including shipping). Sweet, huh?

Then I used a Dollar General 50% off household goods coupon, and snagged this black frame for only $3!

That means that I only spent a total of $5 on this whole project! So, this proves that waiting for the right deal, your project will eventually come together in the end.

Garage Sale Finds - $7!

I headed out this morning to a garage sale at our church. There were a ton of people there, and I talked with Susan, a lady from our church who was a part of the sale, said that there were people lined up for 40 minutes before the doors opened. You can tell that people are itching to start garage 'sailing' again!

Earlier this week, I was talking with a mom at the library and she said that she likes to spray her daughters boots and shoes with rain repellent...because she knows that if her daughter sees a puddle, there's no stopping here. I feel the same way with my boys, and so I debated on getting some this week from the store. I'm glad I waited, because I found a full bottle at the sale for only $0.50!
I found a set of cloth napkins, a cute ream of paper for the boys to color on, and later to be used to print coupons on. I also found reusable cupcake liners! I've recently run out of paper ones, so I'm excited to try these to see if they really work. If they do, that means less waste on our end!

I also got 2 cartridges of ink for $5! Thanks, Susan! These usually retail for about $10 a piece!

Overall, I felt like I had found some really great green items to help reduce our waste. Total I spent only $7! Thanks for looking!

February 25, 2011

Grocery Shopping this Week = $25.42

I just wanted to post really quick on my grocery spending this week. I've been staying away from the grocery stores, even though I've been wanting to go in. I felt that this week I needed to take a step back and just see what we could use from our pantry. Here's where I went:

County Market = $21.67

Schnucks = $2.68
Okay, this isn't the healthiest photo, but a woman's gotta have her chocolate!

Walgreens = $1.07
After using an in-store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, these cans of soup cost $0.33 each!

For the past month, I've been going a little over our $40/week budget. So this week definitely gets me caught up with those weeks I went over.

February 24, 2011

Walgreens: Free Collage Today Only (2/24)

At Walgreens website you can get a free collage today only (2/24). Just head on over to Walgreens photo and select 'See Today's Deal' then select 'Redeem Now'. At your checkout, make sure that you 'update total' in order to have the coupon code applied to your total. Chose to pick-up in the store, and you won't have to pay for shipping.

Free Redbox Code Today Only (2/24)

If you like Redbox on Facebook, or just click on the tab, FREEBIE, you will be able to get a code to get a free rental tonight (2/24) only. Once again, I love the free things in life!

BOGO Chipotle Coupon!

I'm sure everyone in the blogging world has found out that there is a Buy One Get One Free coupon to use at Chipotle. I'm just letting you all know that this is a great deal! If you watch a minute movie clip on Facebook, promoting the new NBC tv show, you'll be able to print off this coupon.

We have a Chipotle on campus and it is some very tasty foods. So if you've never been there before, this is your chance!

Three cheers for Chipotle!

February 23, 2011

I Love to Reuse!

I thought that today I would show you some of the things that are in our kitchen, specifically some of the drawers in our kitchen. To let some of you know, I love to reuse things, especially things that I can use on a day-to-day basis. We have so many drawers in our kitchen that half the time I don't even know what to do with them. So I fill them with things that I don't want to throw out, but at the same time, don't know what to do with them. Here are a couple of examples:

I save the lids to our peanut butter jars, to put the boys' syrup in for breakfast. It holds just the right amount of syrup for their little meals.

I save the lids to the bouillon cubes. These also are perfect size for the boys.

I also save the containers that their applesauce comes in. These are great for their veggies at mealtime.

I save the containers that their yogurt comes in. We will be using these for our vegetable plants, come the end of February. We'll just drill holes in the bottom and we'll be all set! Very excited about this project!

We also reuse our Ziploc bags. Yes, I wash them and we use them until the holes start appearing. It's not that much extra work, and we don't buy Ziploc bags near as often as we used to. And I've picked up a little trick in the blogging world...when our dishwasher is empty, I just put the Ziploc bags in there to dry! Brilliant! The only reason we have a toilet paper roll in the dishwasher is because Pudge decided to throw that roll in the bath, so it was drying out!

Do you have anything that you like to save and reuse?

February 22, 2011

Target and Goodwill Finds

I've been wanting to get out to Target the past couple of days, because I heard about the $5 gift card that you get if you buy 7 frozen items. I bundled the kids up and off we went. Let me tell you, if you live in Champaign, don't bother going for the frozen foods. They are renovating the entire food section, so they had limited amounts of frozen foods.

But if you are in need of some FREE jeans, I highly recommend checking out Target. Since they are turning our Target into a Super Target, almost everything is being marked down...including the women's jeans! Click here to print off a $5 coupon for women's jeans at Target. I scored 2 pairs today for free:

I spent a grand total of $3.03 for the items pictured above!

Then the boys and I went to the Goodwill in search for a picture frame. Unfortunately we didn't find a frame the size I wanted, but we got a couple of other good finds! Pudge is in the process of getting a new bike, and he needed a helmet. How great is it that we found one with Spiderman on it! He loves it!

I've also been on a hunt to find more of those Brain Quest cards for the boys. Specifically the ones with pictures on them to help them learn. We found one as well at Goodwill!

Total for the items below, $4.50! The helmet retails for $20 and the Brain Quest retails for $10.50! So we got a great deal!

Have you stopped into Target or Goodwill lately? I'd love to hear what you found!

February 21, 2011

Meal Planning

I have gone back and forth about posting what meals we make from my grocery trips, because our family is so inconsistent with meals. We are HUGE leftover fans, so whenever we make a meal, it takes us about 3 or 4 days to finish that meal off. I think it's because we have two toddlers who eat like birds, so that leaves the real eating to my husband and I.

I recently went to a meeting with the Mothers and More group that I'm involved in, and the topic was Meal Planning. It seemed like a great deal of the moms there did not have meals planned out beforehand. Which made me feel better, because I'm that way too. I'm trying to get better though. So here's what I've come up with for this week's menu:

French Toast
Scrambled Eggs and Toast
And More Cereal!

Usually leftovers from the night before dinner
Fish Sticks
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Canned Soup

Pizza Rounds
Baked Potatoes
Chicken Salad
Spicy Cajun Chicken

We usually eat out once or twice a week, depending on if we're running errands or what-not.

I read once on someone's blog that they try to stick with a general theme each week, instead of beating yourself up about having to think of specific meals. Her idea was to simplify the meals to:

Soup and Salad
Pasta Meal
Chicken Meal
Beef Meal
Vegetarian Meal
Mexican Dish

A couple of websites/blogs that I've found helpful or interesting when it comes to meal planning are:

February 19, 2011

Fresh Air

The weather has finally started warming up and it feels great to be outside! Even if it is only for a half and hour, the fresh air feels so good. The other day we spent the morning at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, an excellent park to play at if you've never been there before! Even though it was a little windy, the boys had a great time. I wanted to share some photos with you all, and keep your fingers crossed that this weather is here to stay.

There was still lots of snow in some places, but we just threw on the boys' winter boots and let them have fun.

Pudge enjoyed crawling under the ladder.

Z-man was all over the place, running and jumping whenever possible.

Dad was a great help in playing and watching the boys while I enjoyed the company of other moms.

We thought ahead and asked some other families from Preschool to see if they wanted to join us on that sunny day.

We even thought ahead and brought a yummy lunch of PB and J sandwiches, carrots, apples, and pretzels. I love that our boys like to eat nutritious foods.

Overall, it was a great day! Have you made it outside this week? If so, I'd love to hear what you did!

February 18, 2011

Grocery Shopping this Week = $42.75

I made two shopping trips this week. The first was to Meijer, because they were have a great deal on Gain Softner and Sheets. I don't include laundry items in my grocery budget, so I just put those items in the photo to show you that they helped me pay for other groceries.

Meijer = $13.45
I got $6 in Catalina's from purchasing the Gain, so that went towards my groceries.

County Market = $29.30
Pudge and I went to the County Market on Campus last Friday when they were having some great deals on only Friday and Saturday. My favorite was the Yogurt for $0.29 each, the Welch's grape jelly, 2 for $1, and the Biscuits were a $1 each, and if you bought 5, you got free eggs.

Total spent this week on groceries, $42.75. We have $40 a week budget for our groceries, so next week I will take $2.75 out to pay for my overage in this week.

February 16, 2011

Cupcakes From Scratch

I have never made cupcakes from scratch, until Pudge's birthday. They were so easy and simple to make, that I had to share the recipe on my blog. I got the recipe from a cookbook that I got when my husband and I got married. It's titled, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Bridal Edition.

Marble Cupcakes

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 1/4 c. milk
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs

3 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking soda

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake pans, or use cupcake liners.
2.) Beat all ingredients, except cocoa and baking soda, with an electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high seed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
3.) Before pouring batter into pans, remove 1 3/4 cups of the batter; reserve. Pour remaining batter into pans. Stir 3 Tbsp. cocoa and 1/8 tsp. baking soda into reserved batter. Drop chocolate batter by tablespoonsfuls randomly onto yellow batter. Cut through batters with knife for marbled design. Bake and cool.

Of course, I had my two helpers in tow. Here they are mixing the vanilla and chocolate batter to make marble cupcakes.

Pudge loved the batter, as you can see. He wouldn't stop licking his fingers, so I gave him the spatula.

The final results were shown here at the party. My husband, my sister, and I did try them before we frosted them...just to make sure they were tasty, and they were! My husband, who doesn't eat cake, had 2 of them!!

Great way to save a little money instead of buying a store-bought cake!

February 15, 2011

Pudge turns 3!

Our little Pudge turned 3 on Valentine's Day. We had a party this past weekend, and it was a blast. It was a lot of fun to see him playing with other kids his age.

I also found a recipe on how to make cupcakes from scratch, and let me tell you, they were a hit! I'll will post the recipe later this week. I also wanted to send a shout-out to my friend Beth, who helped me make cupcakes for Pudge's birthday!

We even splurged and got a pinata for his party. Spiderman! I also learned that the strings hanging down from the pinata aren't just for decoration...they're to help young ones open up the thing! Brilliant!

It was a lot of fun to see Pudge interacting with other little boys and girls who came to his party.

Pudge got a lot of great gifts, and I'm sure that he'll be entertained for a long, long time!

Thank you to my sister, Crystal, for all the beautiful photos that she took at Pudge's party!

February 13, 2011

Grocery Shopping this Week = $44.90

We have $40/week in our budget for groceries. Lately it's been kind of difficult to stay within our budget, so each week I take out the overage from the next week.

Schnucks = $13.17
I was very excited to take my mom with on this shopping trip to Schnucks. She was impressed with the savings that I showed her. We scored 10 bags of Malt-O-Meal cereal for free! Thanks, mom, for helping watch the boys while we shopped! Also, thanks to Coupon STL for her post on deals at Schnucks.

Dollar General = $3.10
The chips were free with a coupon, and my husband has a new love for Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa.

County Market = $10.67
Here I am just stocking up on items that we needed in our pantry. I only had coupons for the Bob Evans Sausage.

Big Lots = $16.06
I was excited to find a 10 lb. bag of flour for $3! I also stocked up on bread, each only $1.

This past week I spent $44.90 on groceries. In this total, I've included my overage from last week.

February 9, 2011

Homemade Valentines

Every time I step foot into a store, whether it's a grocery store or a chain store, I see boxed Valentines that you can buy now. It's rather tempting as a mom, to just pick up a box and be done with one more activity on the "to-do" list.

I want to encourage you, if you're a mom and have Valentines to write up for your toddlers, to step outside the box and make your own! We had a few snow days here, and one of those days I just dug through our craft drawer and Z-Man and I had a blast just making our own Valentines.

We used a bag of suckers that we got from Halloween on clearance, and will attach them to our homemade Valentines.

Here's Z-man, having a great time trying to make the best Valentine he could with glue and random sequins we had.

Then I had Z-man tell me one thing that he liked about his classmate, or something the classmate does that makes him laugh. It was fun to hear what he had to say about some of them, and then I wrote those comments on the Valentine! It is a fun, personal note the parents can laugh at.

So, I encourage to be creative and pull out some random craft items that your kids can put together, and see what they come up with!

Thanks, Mom, for taking these photos!