Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beef Brisket recipe and French dinner for moi!

This ones sounds yummy. Definately on my try this list...

•1 fresh brisket, about 4 pounds

•1 1/2 cups water
•1/4 cup ketchup
•1 package dry onion soup mix
•2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1/4 teaspoon pepper
•1 tablespoon flour mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water


Place brisket in slow cooker/Crock Pot; cut to fit if necessary. Combine water, ketchup, soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, spices, garlic and pepper; add to the slow cooker/Crock Pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove brisket from the slow cooker/Crock Pot. Skim fat from juices and transfer to a saucpan. Stir in flour-water paste and cook on low until thickened. Serve brisket sliced with the gravy.

Serves 10.
As for me, I'm going out to dinner tonight to a nice little French resturant called D&J Bistro with friends. Steak frites is on my dinner menu!

Friday, February 26, 2010

What's for dinner tonight?

It's work at home Friday so I've got the crockpot going. Fridays are CRAZY days at our house at dinner time. Catherine's cello lessons get us home with only 15 minutes to spare before William has to be at basketball practice (thankfully this insanity will end soon as the season is almost over).  I've pulled out my trusty beef roast for tonight, but it's my last roast from the freezer so I'll have to stock up on the next good sale.

Speaking of sales, Jewel shoppers will understand it when I say the 4 HUGE deals going on right now are driving couponers to the stores in droves. I've got a few freebies on my shopping list (shampoo, soap, spaghetti sauce, bread and eggs, to name a few). That'll have to wait till after I hunker down into this research anaylsis I'm doing on women in the cellular phone market (see, I DO have a real job!).

And on a side note, Catherine is doing an independent study with her honors English teacher. She's read The Lost World (in two hours) but a A Tale of Two Cities has become her literary match, She's a reading pro unless it's 19th century British literature. I loved her comment last night: I think Dickens was paid by the word! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say what?

The other night we were enjoying our chicken tortillas from the crockpot when my husband asked me if I knew how to make tortillas.

Tortillas? I'm from South Carolina. The closest I've been to a homemade tortilla would be South of the Border (and I'm pretty sure they don't make their own from scratch).

It was ironic, actually, as just this week I was reading a blog where the author was giving instructions on how to make torillas from scratch. She was doing it to be frugal. I would be doing it to make sure we had enough tortillas on hand for leftovers (those packs of 8 Aztec flour tortillas don't last a family of 4 very long).

Had the stars aligned? What this a sign that torilla making was in my future?

I checked out the blog again of the torilla making, penny scraping gal and decided her recipe resembled too much like hard paste (flour and water, rolled out), so I relied on my trusty friend Google to lead me to this recipe. It even has step by step photos (I consider this de riguer when trying a new recipe).

I am copying it below for you all. I am going to try it and post back. Meantime, have you ever made your own tortillas? Please save me from disaster if you know this recipe is a lost cause!

Flour tortilla recipe (makes 8)

•2 cups flour (all-purpose or bread flour, cake flour should be avoided)
•1/2 cup vegetable shortening
•3/4 cup warm water
•11/2 tsps salt


1.Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, then turn the dough out onto the counter and knead the dough for about a minute. This isn't like making bread and a minute of kneading is plenty.

2.Divide the dough into eight rounded balls.

3.Heat up a heavy frying pan over medium heat. The heavier the pan the easier they are. If you have a cast iron fry pan it is ideal for making tortillas.

4.Sprinkle some flour onto the counter and roll out each ball of dough into a flat circle about 6 inches in diameter. If the dough is sticking to the table, just add more flour. Rotating the circle around as you're rolling it out can help you get that nice circular shape, but it really just takes practice; and they'll taste great even if they're not perfectly circular

5.Take a clean cloth and dust off any flour that's adhered to the tortilla, and place it onto the frying pan. You don't need to add any oil to the pan, they won't stick.

6.When you see bubbles popping up all over the top of the tortilla, it's done.

7.Take it off the heat and wrap in a clean dishtowel as you repeat the process.

You don't need to cook the tortillas on both sides as they're so thin they'll cook through from the bottom. Cooking on only one side will make a better tortilla.

Don't get discouraged if you're tortillas look funny, by the second or third batch you do you'll be a seasoned pro; and the whole process won't take more than about 20 minutes.

Be warned though, once your family or friends get used to your hot fresh tortillas, there's no going back to store bought ever again!


Monday, February 22, 2010

What's for dinner: Chicken Tortillas

Yum!  This is my husband's favorite. The house smells fantastic right now. Instead of using chicken breasts (which tend to dry out), I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The darker meat works better in the crockpot and has more flavor.

Need the recipe?  Here you go.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Solo and Ensemble

Very happy to announce that Catherine performed well at the solo and ensemble competiton today. This was my first experience with solo and ensemble contest, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The middle school where it was held was packed with kids and just a complete hive of activity. We were assigned the gym as our "homeroom" along with about ten other middle schools. There were instruments, teachers, parents, music stands, coats, everywhere. It was really pretty exciting to see so many dedicated instrument players in one place. You had 8th grade boys going to town on violins next to beginners, but everybody there was being judged against themselves. You, your music, your judge.

Catherine played Rigadoon on the cello. She scored a "1" which is just plain AWESOME, and considering that she's been practicing that song since December, you will appreciate it when we BOTH declared: "I don't want to EVER hear that song AGAIN." We bought a new book of music, Disney Solos for Cello at the event, and she's been playing from that since we got home.

But on a side note, I took this picture in the kitchen this morning before we left for the contest and I had to stop and look at it twice. She is all grown up looking. How did that happen?

Here's her medal:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pain in the neck

I've not posted in a while as my son managed to wrench his neck picking up clothes from the floor of his room (THAT'LL teach him to clean his room). The poor thing was completely miserable this weekend and could barely move his neck. The doctor instructed me to give him motrin and Ben Gay (so now he smells like an old, arthritic man). Who knew there were ten different kinds of Ben Gay and Icy Hot? Menthol and Capsicum and salycilates...I asked the pharmacist what she recommended. Apparently capscium can burn skin (it's the main ingredient in mace) so we opted for menthol. He's still listing to one side like a drunken sailor....but he smells minty fresh!

On a happier note, I received my confirmation today of our tour of the US Capitol when we visit D.C. in June. I sent a note to our representative the day I booked the flights to get on the waiting lists. I've got my fingers crossed we'll also get a tour of the White House and Bureau of Engraving (the mint). I plan to blog our trip when the time comes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's for dinner? Jambalaya

My husband asked me to make this dish. I will admit that I am not a fan of most of the ingredients, but thought I'd be a good sport and give it a try. It involves all the usual jambalaya suspects:

Roll call:
  • 2 cups cooked Andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1 T pasley flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (I use the kind in the jar pre-chopped with olive oil)
  • 1/4  t pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cans (14 ounces) of petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (I used red--I hope that isn't going to be a problem)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 pound shrimp (mine are frozen and cooked already)
(Recipe from Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cookbook)

I put everything in the crockpot this morning EXCEPT the shrimp.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Then add shrimp (if not cooked, add it about an hour before the rest of the ingredients are done, about the 6-7 hour mark) or just used cooked and thaw them under warm water and toss in for about 30 minutes to heat them up.

Serve with 4 cups of rice

(Oh, and prepare leftover shrimp from the 3lb bag I have with butter and garlic and servce plain over rice for the two kids who aren't going to touch this dish with a 10 foot pole.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And the winner is!

The winner of the coupon drawing is:

Grace I'll be sending you an email shortly.  Thanks for playing everyone!

Funnies for today

This one made me chuckle outloud.

Are you all aware of "I can has cheezburger?" It's a site dedicated to people who like cats, but more importantly like cat photos with crazy captions. You have to be a cat person to appreciate this site. Trust me. My kids and I love it. It suits our sense of humor. Try this one on for size:

or better yet:

See? You have to be a cat person. I told you.

My kids got me my favorite comic strip in book form for Christmas. It's right up there with I Can Has Cheezburger in the sense of humor realm: Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!

Love it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's for dinner at my house tonight?

With 10 inches of snow predicted, something ready when I walk in the door from work is optimal.

Here's what I threw together at 7am:

I had a chuck roast, some onions, some lipton onion soup mix (I got ten boxes for cheap last fall from Jewel) and some carrots. You know how easy this is. John likes lots of onions (bleh).  I'll make some homemade mashed potatoes later on.

I do like to put cork hot pads under the crockpot while it cooks. I know you probably don't have to and I am being overly cautious, but the corian countertop is essentially plastic and I'm half afriad I'll melt that puppy. Or could this be a part of my master plan to put in granite?  Hmmm. Maybe the cork pads will have to go. The other day I was pulling a large knife from the counter block and it flew through the air and whacked a chunk off the edge of the countertop (better than my foot!). I "buffed" it up with a nail file. I  don't think that would work with granite, however.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Free Burt's Bees Toothpaste Sample

Just saw this posted over at Organic Deals so I signed up and came back here to tell more people. I really enjoy Burt's Bees products, although they can be pricey. My favorites are the lemon poppyseed facial scrub (who doesn't want to smell like a muffin?), the almond milk hand cream (who doesn't want to smell like marzipan?) and the pomegranite chap stick (ok, I see a theme going on).

Anyway, free is free, and this is a new product for Burt I'm sure. Go here to sign up.

My favorite Super Bowl ad

I managed to spend about 4 hours at a Super bowl party last night and actually watch about 15 minutes of the entire game. So when rated all the best and worst commercials, I had to check out the "A's". This one made me laught out loud (maybe not buy tires though!)

What was your favorite?

Oh and this one made me cry! Must be the francophile in me!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Giveaway: 5/$1.25 coupons for Chocolate Cheerios

We Have A Winner! 

I'm offering up 5 of these high value coupons to a random winner selected on Wednesday, February 10th.

One winner receives ALL 5 coupons.

These coupons were given to me by Pssst! as part of a free sample mailing.

How to Enter:
  1. Leave me a way to contact you in the comments section (email address)
  2. Get a second entry if you post about this giveaway on another site (and link to it in your post).
US only, please.

Good Luck!

For my Delta Gamma Friends

Here's one for you on this Sunday afternoon. It was taken by my Navy friend from church who is on assignment at "Gitmo" organizing aid to Haitians.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pssst! Free cereal sample and 10 $1.25 coupons

I joined Pssst! (a General Mills panel for bloggers) about 6 months ago when I read on another blog (I forget where) that you could get good coupons and sometimes free samples from them. If you're interested in Pssst! then you can sign up here.

Yesterday I discovered a package on my doorstep from Pssst!

Inside was a free box of cereal.

And a whole bunch of $1.25/1 coupons for chocolate Cheerios.

I am not sure we are going to like chocolate Cheerios. Generally speaking, my kids aren't cereal eaters. Catherine won't touch it. William seems to only love Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but most days he just eats a bagel with a little Brummel and Brown on it.

I'm going to try the cereal this week. If it's a no go, I'll do a contest for the coupons. Stand By....

Art Lessons

My daughter is an avid artist. She has loved to draw and paint and doodle since I can remember (she also likes to collect rocks, but we'll save that for another post). Over the years we've encouraged her art by entering her projects from school into the local county fair. The first year she won a blue ribbon. The next year she won best in show.

Can you see how proud mommy is?

And so this year we decided to try art classes at a local art school. I've driven by this place for years and never paid it much attention to it. I read on the website that it is a real, honest to goodness art studio, with professional artists on staff. There were classes for kids her age. I signed her up.

Each class meets weekly for two hours. The first two classes focused on pencil sketches, shapes, shading etc. She produced these:

Then came lots of pastels. Everywhere.

She made a lovely vase. Freehand.

And finally this hummingbird came home this week.

My old school friend Nicole is a lovely artist.  I hope the my daughter continues to take lessons and enjoy art. Maybe someday will encourage her brother to take them, too.

He's got his own little collection of ribbons going, but mostly he just likes his Wii.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My little indulgence

We can't consider this a stockpile, right?

Why I don't stockpile for the Second Coming

I was reading a comment from my dear friend Bunny on the Redken deal. Her comment was that I must have one heck of a stockpile. I think Bunny would be sad to read that compared to many couponers, my stockpile pales significantly in comparison.

I have seen photos of stockpiles that would make a Mormon blush (Mormon's are advised to store a year's supply of food for their families):


and even this:

In contrast, I have a collection of some 20 bottles of laundry detergent and about that many bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and miscellaneous hair products. Most of my food supplies are down to reasonable quantities (though I likely have more Knox rice mixes and soup than most, I'm not feeding 10 kids).  I just don't want/need that much STUFF in my home.

I respect those women who work hard to save every penny and stockpile to be sure of having things on hand for when they need them, but I recognize that a lot of these women spend a lot of time amassing these pantry-busting collections. My couponing is more...casual. I'm a couponer by convenience. If I'm in the neighborhood or planning my regular jaunt to the Jewel, I'll stock up on a little of this or that (ok I went a little nutty on the laundry detergent but that stuff is expensive and I got it for nearly free). Plus, I am a neat freak and all that stuff would drive me nuts (not to mention that I don't have a walk in pantry and am not interested in setting up my basement as a mini-mart).

So don't be disappointed in my "stash." I've always said with couponing do what's right for you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

We've booked our family trip for the summer

We've decided to take a family vacation to Washington, D.C. in June. I've only been once to D.C., for an overnight stay in Crystal City for a Delta Gamma convention about 5 years ago. I didn't see anything of the city, so I'm going to count this as my first REAL trip.

We're going to be travelling with John's parents who used to live and work in D.C. John's dad spent time working at the Smithsonian, and as children and teenagers, John and his brother visited D.C. museums several times. My MIL has friends that live in Alexandria and D.C., so she was able to recommend a hotel.

I tried on my own to find someplace in D.C. to stay, but trying to determine whether or not the hotel was anywhere near where we wanted to visit, as well as trying to find a good deal, and worrying about whether or not the area was safe or convenient to the metro (and preferably BOTH), I was very glad to have someone local say stay HERE.

And here is where we are staying: The Embassy Suites Alexandria Old Town. I Googled it. I "walked" down the street and around the block (I ADORE this feature of Google Earth). It looks lovely AND it is across the street from the Metro station, which is PERFECT.

The price for all this perfection and adoration is not cheap. With AAA the standard room is $224 a night. We needed two rooms as we're travelling with 4 adults and two children. It turns out that the cost of two standard rooms is the exact same price as the cost of the Presidential Suite, so I booked it! 

Now, don't get all excited. I am pretty sure a "Presidential Suite" at the Embassy Suites is not quite the same as say, the one at Hay-Adams, which is described as:

This distinguished and remarkable penthouse suite features a separate living room and one-and-a-half bathrooms. The beautiful living room overlooking the White House, Lafayette Park and St. John's Church includes a large dining table as well as gas-lit corner fireplace. The master bedroom features a spectacular view of the White House.

I'm pretty sure the only spectacular view I'm getting is what looks to be two standard rooms combined (two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a common, larger sitting and eating area). But it will be cool nonetheless.
I booked the airline tickets this morning. I always dread booking airline tickets. You cannot make a mistake. You must be ABSOLUTELY certain of your dates, and airports (there are TWO in D.C. and I must have checked ten times to make sure that YES I was booking into National and not Dullus). When you hit that submit button, that's it. It's over. If you did anything wrong it is very very expensive to undo. I think the airlines should give you a two hour change window, for those moments when upon reviewing your confirmation you realize that you booked you flight for July instead of June, or that you forgot a kid.


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