Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Chicken and Yellow Rice

I needed to make a quick meal last night with the ingredients I had on hand.  In the fridge I had a package of chicken thighs and in the cupboard a package of Vigo yellow rice.  Yep, time for chicken and yellow rice, one of DD's favorite meals.


1 pkg. chicken thighs
1 pkg. yellow rice
1/4 piece of garlic clove
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste

Poach the chicken:  Place chicken in salted water and bring to a boil.  Then cover pot with lid, turn off heat and leave for an hour.  Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool.  When cool remove skin and tear chicken into pieces.  Dispose of skin and bones.  Reserve broth for another recipe.

Make Mojo sauce:  In a food processor add garlic, lime juice, olive oil, salt and red pepper.  Process until you get a smooth consistency.

Rice:  Follow package directions.  Add a small can of peas for the last five minutes of cooking.

Mix the Mojo sauce with the chicken, toss to coat.  Serve rice with chicken on top or mixed in.  I like to buy some frozen fried plantains and refry them to serve with this dish.

Enjoy!  I be having the leftovers for lunch today.

God bless,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gas Prices May Reach $5 This Summer

I have been reading lately that gas prices may reach $5 a gallon in the United States this summer (yes, I hear my European readers laughing hysterically) and most people are under the impression that this is being caused by increased upset in the Mideast.  But, this is not the cause; most people are not aware that gasoline is a commodity in this country and, as such, gas prices fluctuate as the result of commodity investors.

Here is an excerpt of a letter sent by several US congressman:

The Honorable Gary Gensler
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Three Lafayette Centre
1155 21st Street, N.W.
Washington, DC  20581

Dear Chairman Gensler,

There is strong evidence the recent surge in gas prices has little to do with the fundamental supply and demand for oil.  Government data confirm that oil speculators are driving the price increase.  We urge you to restore integrity to our energy markets by exercising the CFTC’s authority to require higher margin levels for speculative oil futures contracts.

Speculators are seizing on recent political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East to drive energy prices to unwarranted levels.  The Commitment of Traders Report reveals that speculators have flooded into the market in recent weeks.  Since protests began in Egypt on January 25, 2011, money managers have increased their long positions in NYMEX West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures contracts by more than 35 percent, or the equivalent of 75 million barrels of oil.  Oil speculators have increased long positions on the Intercontinental Exchange by nearly 50 percent.  At the same time, actual true hedgers have reduced their long positions in the oil futures markets.

The loser in this game of oil speculation is the American consumer.  Rising oil futures translate into higher gas prices, and that means Americans have less money in their pockets to pay for basic needs.

It's time to let our congressmen/women know that we are tired of paying more money, so a few, not so scrupulous investors, can make a huge profit.  Sent an e-mail, tweet or good old fashioned snail mail to your representatives.

God bless,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Retail Me Not Coupon Codes

I make some of our purchases online because some items are not available in our area and some things are just cheaper online than in my local stores. There is a way to get additional savings and that is by using coupon codes.

When coupon codes are entered during the online checkout process they can get you a discount, free mailing or a free gift. My favorite web site for finding coupon codes is This site is easy to use and lists codes not seen in other places.

So, before you place your online order first go to retailmenot to see if you can get an even deeper discount.

God bless,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Budgeting For Luxuries

First of all, thank you to Meg for giving me this post idea.  I need an inspiration now and again.

When you are living on a tight budget in order to pay for the necessities it can be hard to envision your family being able to buy a nonessential item or going on a vacation.  We have our strategies that allow us to indulge ourselves from time to time.

You have to add a line item to your budget for a vacation/special purchase account.  We have a credit union account that my DH's gas reimbursement check (from work) is direct deposited into.  We don't see the money at all, it isn't readily available via check or debit card for us to spend on something else.  After a year of saving we usually have enough money for a small vacation.  WE NEVER GO INTO DEBT FOR A VACATION OR LUXURY PURCHASE!

Another idea is to tone down your vacation expectations.  You may not be able to go away from home.  Traveling away from home, with it's hotel and restaurant expenses, can be very expensive.  Do you have a friend or relative that will welcome you as a guest in their home?  You can reciprocate by letting them stay in your home at a later time.  How about a staycation?  That is vacationing in your own home, while visiting local museums, parks and other attractions.

Everyone in my family receives an allowance each week, even Mom and Dad.  The allowance is one of our budget line items.  We are able to spend or save this money as we wish.  All of us save a portion of our allowance to purchase something that we really want.  After saving for several years I was recently able to purchase a laptop for my blogging and writing.

Our vacation/luxury savings are seldom tapped to make an emergency purchase.  This is because we also have a budget line item and savings for emergency repairs and purchases.

If you don't think you have any room in your budget for another savings account I would like you to look closely at your life.  Can you save any money by brown bagging your lunches?  Can your family get along with one car?  Can you put aside the money you save with your coupons?  Get creative.  Even if it is just pennies saved it will accumulate and in a few years you will be able to indulge yourselves.

God bless,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bad Case of Writers Block

I have been staring at my blog for several days trying desperately to think of something to write.  Since I usually write in response to my everyday experiences, I can only conclude that my life has become very boring as of late.  So, here are some random thoughts:

My vitamin D levels are way down again, so my doctor has upped my daily dosage.  If you feel tired and lethargic and can't figure out why, get your vitamin D levels checked.  It's a simple blood test.  Unfortunately, it will be a while before I get my energy back.

It's in the 80's F and the pollen levels are high.  Everyone has runny noses and red eyes in my home.  Really attractive.

Time to get ready to garden.  You will soon hear about my garden clean up efforts.  Our plants have been confused by this warm winter.  The azaleas are about to bloom.

Last Saturday we went down to Sarasota to the Amish/Mennonite part of town (near Fruitville Rd) and has a wonderful lunch at Troyers Restaurant.  It's an interesting area because you get to see people from just about every community all together.  From extremely conservative Old Order Amish to liberal Mennonite and Beachy Amish.  The variations in clothing and head coverings are endless (each community/congregation determines dress guidelines).  One thing that is unique to Florida is that many of the women, even those that are dressed conservatively, have bare legs and wear flip flops.

Time to start cleaning house (nothing interesting there either).  If you have any subjects that you want me to write about please let me know in the comments section.

God bless,

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Beef and Noodles

Yesterday I wanted to serve something that I knew my fussy eater daughter would like.  So, I decided to go for that old favorite, beef and noodles.  It is a super easy recipe, but does take a long and low cook time.


beef stew meat
1 can beef consomme
1 can beef and onion soup
pepper to taste
1 pkg. wide egg noodles
olive oil

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pot.  Add your beef (cut into one inch chunks) and one tablespoon of flour.  Brown well, then add the consomme and soup.  Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for two hours adding pepper midway through cooking.  Mix three tablespoons flour with water to make a slurry.  Add slurry to pan, stirring well, then cover while you are cooking your noodles.  Taste the beef and add salt if needed.  Serve over noodles.  Sprinkle with the herb of your choice.

This recipe can be made in a crock pot.  After bringing to a boil, add to crock pot and cook on slow for the day.  Enjoy!

God bless,

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stores That Raise Prices In Response To Coupons

One of my favorite lips balms is the Baby Lips by Maybelline, so I am familiar with the prices most stores are charging for it.  Generally it is $3.99.

I always wait until there is a coupon for Maybelline lip products available before I buy any.  Two months ago Target and Maybelline had coupons out, so I should have been able to pick them up almost for free.  Much to my chagrin Target had raised their price for Baby Lips to over $5.  They lowered the price back to $3.99 after the coupons expired.

This week a very good coupon came out, so I decided to pick up two lip balms at Walgreens.  Well, Wags had raised their price to $4.49.  Since stores are paid $1.08 for every $1 coupon they accept I find it insulting when they raise their prices to offset the coupon discount.

The only reason I had gone to Walgreens was because I had a $8 off my entire purchase coupon.  Otherwise I would have walked out of the store.  FYI Baby Lips is only $2.79 at Walmart.  With the $2 off Maybelline lip product coupon from yesterdays paper, that makes it just 79 cents.  Skip Walgreens and Target this time.

God bless,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

E-mail Required To Print Coupons

When I first began couponing I noticed that some of the manufacturers offered their coupons online, via their websites.  A few of them required my e-mail address before I could print the coupon.  I hesitated, but decided that such reputable companies would only sell my address to other food companies, so any spam I received would be fairly harmless.

Oh, silly, naive me.  My spam inbox began to fill and fill.  The legitimate companies supplied a link to unsubscribe from their e-mails, but my e-mail had also been sold to x-rated sites wanting to sell sexual enhancement products of every kind.  These nasty sites didn't supply a way to unsubscribe.

A year and a half later I still receive 4-6 x-rated e-mails in my spam inbox.  And with no way to stop them because they have many tricks to keep you from blocking them.  My advice to beginner couponers is to never give out your e-mail address in order to get a coupon, even if it is a big reputable company.  I regret that I did every day when I check my mail.

God bless,

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Frugal Garden: Warm Winter Blues

Most people enjoy having a warm winter, but not this southern gardener and for one very good reason: Bugs!  It takes about three good freezes to kill off some of our slumbering garden pests.  Without freezing weather we will have an overabundance of plant eating insects in the Spring garden.

It has been so warm this winter that our weather recently has been in the low 80's during the day.  I had been sorely tempted to plant my Spring garden and get it over with, but I fear that we will get one of our February cold snaps.  It seems as though we regularly get a freeze toward the end of February and I don't want to chance losing my plantings.

Freeze Damage

So I will show restraint and not sow any plants outdoors, but this is a good time to start seeds indoors.  It is also a good time to get your sweet potato slips going (see earlier post on sweet potato slips).  Of course, all of this has to do with your gardening zone.  I live in zone 10.

Time to kick my feet up with my seed catalogs and dream of gardens to come.

God bless,

Friday, February 3, 2012

Homemade Barista Coffee

I refuse to buy the expensive, barista made coffee, but I love the flavor.  I recently learned how to make one version and I thought I would share it with you.  It is delicious, but strong, so one is enough.

Use one of those single serving drip coffee makers.  The plastic kind that you just sit on top of the cup.  Fill the filter with ground coffee (good quality dark) all the way up to almost the top.

Fill your coffee mug about 1/4 full with a flavored eggnog.  Heat in microwave or, even better, with a steamer (if you have one, I don't).

Place coffee maker on cup and slightly wet the grounds with boiling water.  When they have swelled up sloooowly drizzle boiling water all over the grounds until the cup is full.

Stir gently and serve.  What a treat and made for just pennies in your own kitchen.

God bless,