Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Barley Casserole

Please don't run away just from the title of this recipe! 

Whew... if you're still here, we ate Barley Casserole last night. This was a first for us, and both of us (especially Javier) loved it! It's an extremely inexpensive recipe, and barley seems to be a super healthy food.

3 T. butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 small green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. pearled barley (find this near the dried beans in the grocery store)
3 c. chicken broth, heated
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in saucepan, saute onion, pepper, and garlic until soft.
3. Spray ovenproof casserole with non-stick spray.
4. Transfer veggie mixture into casserole.
5. Add the barley, then heated broth, making sure to coat grains well.
6. Season to taste with salt & pepper and bake covered for 1 hour.

Be sure to check out Jen's blog for more from Tasty Tuesday!

Monday, August 24, 2009

CVS Deals: August 23 - 29

Transaction #1:

$10.00 - (2) Glade Sense & Spray (earns $3 ECBs)
$1.98 - (2) CVS Composition books (earns $1.98 ECBs - free through Tuesday!)
$3.79 - Carefree Ultra Protection (earns $3.79 ECBs)
$.50 - Reese's candy bar (free after coupon)
$3.99 - CVS trail mix (just used as a filler since we're going camping soon)

Total before coupons: $20.26

Coupons used:
- $4/$20 coupon from ReadyFill booklet
- $4 Glade coupon from August All You magazine
- $4 Glade coupon from 8/23 SS
- $.55 Reese's coupon from 8/23 SS (rounded down to $.50)
- $6.99 ECBs

Subtotal: $.77
Total after tax: $1.52 (because of the new tax rules)

Earned: $8.77 ECBs ($3.79, $1.98 & $3)

Friday, August 21, 2009

No Grocery Store Week!

The pantry was full, the refrigerator in decent shape, and I was just tired of buying more food when we never seem to completely finish what we have. So... this Sunday I decided to skip the grocery store & see what we could do for the week. Not having planned for this ahead of time meant I had to be a bit creative with our meals, but all in all we've had great meals and it's nice to be eating cleaning out the pantry a bit. I didn't even post a meal plan b/c I wasn't quite sure how this would work!

So, what have we eaten?
Sunday: Bean burritos on homemade tortillas
Monday: Cheesy chicken subs, pretzels & hummus
Tuesday: creamy zucchini with linguine, homemade bread, orange jello salad (with company)
Wednesday: More cheesy chicken subs, pretzels & hummus
Thursday: the one not so good day - I had cereal & Javier ate ? - we both had things we were rushing out the door for and weren't able to eat together
Friday: out with friends
Saturday: Homemade pizza

We definitely can't do this too often because it's harder to eat healthy and avoid the temptation of eating out, but this week it definitely worked for us!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On the Fence

If you've seen my last couple of posts, you've seen that I'm trying to start running a bit more. 

Recently, however, I've been considering the idea of joining Team in Training this fall to train for either a marathon or half-marathon and to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I'm excited about the idea, but also a little nervous - the longest that I've ever run is 6.2 miles (nowhere close to 13.1 or 26.2) and I've never tried to raise that much money before, either. So, it would definitely be two big firsts for me. 

So, any ideas for me? What would you do? 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top Five Things that Help Me Actually Get Out the Door to Run

I posted yesterday about how I’m trying to start running again, and how this always seems like such a vicious cycle. I explained a little bit about why I bother, even though it seems like a resolution that doesn’t ever last very long.

Today I’m going to share with you practical things that help me get out the door and run. Hopefully, some of these might work for you, too!

1. First, as I shared yesterday, I have several reasons for wanting to run. My husband supports me in this and has been trying to run with me, as well. I couldn’t make myself get out & run several times a week without plenty of reasons that can hopefully outweigh my excuses. J

2. I try to set realistic goals. I'm trying to begin by building up to being able to run 30 minutes without stopping. I researched different plans and thought that, for me, setting goals as to how long I'd run vs. walk in a given "run" was the most realistic. I know I'm much more likely to continue something if I push myself some, but also have the satisfaction of reaching a goal.

3. I work running into my weekly schedule – way ahead of time. It's literally on my calendar, which means that I'm committed.

4. I try to get plenty of rest, since I like to get up and run first thing in the morning. I've found that if I wait until later in the day to run, I'll come up with a million excuses - it's hot, I've already showered, I need to go to the grocery store, I just ate... the list goes on. First thing in the morning is by far my favorite time, which means I have to go to bed a little bit earlier.

5. I measure my progress. The website WalkJogRun.net lets me calculate the distance that I run. (Even though my goals are in minutes right now, it's still nice to see how far I run.) Then ActiveTrainer let me create an online plan. It even emails me reminders and has a pretty detailed running log. Both sites are free, and are big motivators.

Do you have a goal you're currently working on? What helps you accomplish that goal?

Feel free to check out my older Works for Me Wednesday posts, or mosey on over to Kristen's blog for more today.

My Top 5 Reasons I'm Trying to Start Running (Again)

Maybe this sounds familiar, maybe not... but I'm constantly "starting to run". I may stick with it a week, maybe a month, but then after an extended break I have to start all over again. It's a bit of a tiring cycle, but I am doing it once again. Why, you ask?

1. I really do enjoy being in shape. I have more energy, I'm generally more awake, and I sleep better at nights. Those are almost enough reasons right there to make me want to exercise.

2. I enjoy running because it has a relatively low time commitment. One 30-minute jog around the neighborhood and I can check that to-do off my list for the day. I don't have to get in the car & drive to the gym, etc.

3. It's good for my health. I don’t have to elaborate too much on this one – but I can tell when I’ve been working out by my energy levels, the way my clothes fit, and just my overall mood.

 4. Low impact on the budget. As I just run for fun, all I really need is a good pair of running shoes. I can run (almost) anywhere and it’s free. And, assuming I remain injury-free, running could actually save money by the long-term health benefits.

 5. It’s fun! (Most of the time!) You might have to get creative on this one, but come up with something that makes it fun. Set goals for yourself, run different routes, maybe listen to music, or find a running partner. I also run with my dog, and I can tell how much she loves it. She needs the exercise, too, so we’re just both able to get it at the same time.

I’d love to know – do you exercise regularly? Or are you like me and you’re constantly “trying to start again”? If so, what are some of your motivations for continuing? 

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see things that help me actually get out the door! 

Monday, August 10, 2009

CVS Deals: August 9 - 15

My goal this week was just to roll some ECBs and use the $5/$25 coupon out, which actually helped me make $2 in ECBs and get a few things for free. :)

Transaction #1:

$9.99 - Revlon ColorStay Mineral Makeup (earns $9.99 ECBs - free through Tuesday!)
$8.99 - Coppertone NutraShield Sunscreen (earns $2 ECB)
$1.99 - CVS Brand Aspirin (this was my free item for August)
$1.50 - (3) Candy bars at $.50 each (qualify for $5 ECBs wyb $15 - I just used as fillers)
$1.69 - CVS brand hand soap (just used as a filler since it's always something we need)
$.99 - Sharpie highlighters (free after coupon)

Total before coupons: $25.15

Coupons used:
- $5/$25 coupon on the CVS website
- $1 Sharpie highlighters found here
- $5 Coppertone coupon found here
- $1/2 candy bars found in 7/26 RP
- $1 Revlon makeup found in 7/19 SS
- $.50 candy coupon from the free Friday chocolate
- $1.99 free CVS aspirin CRT
- $7.99 & $1.68 ECBs

Subtotal: $.00
Total after tax: $1.02 (because of the new tax rules)

Earned: $11.99 ECBs ($9.99 & $2)

All in all, a pretty good week for such slow deals. It was exciting to find everything in stock at CVS (which hasn't happened in a while with all the school supply deals). The new tax rules are still confusing me - but I haven't figured out any "tricks", like giving them ECBs before coupons or vice versa.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Homemade Pizza

I'm always posting about making homemade pizza in my menu-planning posts, but I've yet to share our recipe. We've experimented with several crust recipes, but this one from my friend has become our staple. 

Whole Wheat Homemade Pizza Crust

1 package (or 1 Tbsp.) of dry active yeast
2/3 c warm water

Mix & let sit 5 minutes. Then add:

1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. all-purpose flour

Knead dough - if it's dry add a little bit of water.
Let it rise until it doubles (about 30-45 minutes).
Punch the dough & let it rest 10 minutes.
Flatten into crust.

*Our favorite way to flatten is to spray the pizza pan(s) with Pam, then flatten dough. I then usually lift up one side at a time & sprinkle a little cornmeal under the dough.

We then usually just use tomato puree for the sauce, and add whatever toppings we'd like! I keep pepperoni, onions, and peppers chopped up in the freezer for our pizzas.

One other delicious addition to the pizza is pesto. This is normally a bit pricey, but a friend shared her homemade pesto recipe with me that is unbelievably easy, good, and much cheaper!

Homemade Pesto

1 c. spinach
1 c. fresh basil (We're growing this this summer, but I believe you could also give it a try with dried basil.)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/8 c. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a food processor/blender & process until it's a smooth paste. Yumm!!

Please leave a comment if you try these recipes - especially if you like them! :) I'd love to get some feedback - what works well for you when you make homemade pizza? Since this is a staple for us I'm always open to tips/ideas/suggestions!

Menu Plan Monday: Aug. 3 - 9

For some reason, I can't quite manage to make our meal plans work out without having leftovers rolling over from week to week. Now, I'm certainly not complaining about the leftovers (I love them!) but I feel like I'm posting the same meals up here every week. Secret: we probably didn't make them the week before! For example, we haven't made homemade pizza for several weeks now, but that's been in our meal plan every week. :)  My (somewhat obvious) tip: if you're picking a meal or two not to make after you've already planned for it, figure out which one has the fewest perishable ingredients. Pizza for us works whenever - we always have the ingredients on hand but they're never about to go bad.

Whew, so on to this week's (super simple) plan:

Monday: Oops - this was yesterday, but we ate leftovers! The very yummy creamy zucchini with linguine we made last Saturday lasted for, oh, about 3 1/2 meals for the two of us!

Tuesday: Swiss chicken casserole over rice with fruit salad

Wednesday: Leftovers? Or possibly homemade pizza?

Thursday: Homemade pizza for real this night

Friday: Headed to my parents' house

Saturday: Still at my parents'

Sunday: After getting back late Saturday night, we won't have much time for any big cooking - looks like sandwiches for lunch & breakfast for supper!

Lunches will be sandwiches/leftovers/easy pasta with fruit as a side. 

Please let me know any suggestions you may have for our menu plan or for things you'd like to see in my future menu planning posts!