Mini Apple Pies

The weather for this Memorial Day Weekend was gorgeous! We couldn’t have asked for better weather…sunny and around 90 the whole weekend. And from the looks of the forecast, its going to be sunny and teetering near 90 the rest of the week. Ahhhh, I love Charleston.

There is nothing quite as American as apple pie. I’ve never made an apple pie, but wanted to make something fitting for Memorial Day Weekend and I decided to put a spin on the traditional pie and make these mini pies. It was a little time consuming to cut the little strips for the lattice so maybe next time I may try and make them with a full crust over the top.

I served these with some vanilla bean ice cream. To reheat, just pop in the microwave for 7-8 seconds.

-3 Granny Smith apples
-1 package of two 9 inch Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts 
-3 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons flour
-2 tablespoons water
-3 tablespoons white sugar
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Dice apples into small pieces. With your Pam sprayed mini-muffin pan, cut out circles from the pie crust and fit into mini-muffin holders. (Using both pie crusts will yield 24 mini-pies)
3. In a pot, melt the butter. Stir in the flour until a paste is formed. Add the water, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add diced apples to the pot and stir until all apple pieces are coated with the mixture.
4. Fill pie crusts with apples. Either top with a full crust, or with lattice strips.
5. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 15 minutes.
Soure: Adapted from All Recipes

5/26 Couponing

Since this weekend is Memorial Day I didn’t want to have to do my coupon shopping in crowded grocery stores, so I decided to do it today. Also, there are no coupon inserts on a holiday, so there’s no use in waiting until Sunday to do my weekly trip.

Couponing has definitely been getting a lot more publicity due to TLC’s Extreme Couponing. My couponing shopping trips will probably never be as impressive as theirs for a few reasons:

  1. Some grocery stores they are shopping at allows ‘overages’ that can be applied to the remaining balance of the bill. For example, if you have a $2 off coupon and the product is on sale for $1…you will get the $1 off the product AND the remaining dollar taken off the total order. It would be awesome if my store allowed this, but unfortunately they don’t.
  2. My grocery store only allows 3 of any coupon during the shopping trip. This is actually a good thing. I only buy 3 papers a week anyway, and this prevents people from ordering 50 of one coupon online and wiping out the shelves.
  3. The couponers being featured on the show want to make the trip their most impressive, which will usually mean they are going to buy alot of the products they can get for free or really really cheap. These things tend to be candy, soda, crappy noodles, etc. I really want to see the shopping trips where they are buying all that Charmin toilet paper they have stocked up since I know thats expensive!!!

Regardless, I am still happy with my trips. As long as I am spending within my budget for the month I want to be able to get as much as I can for our money.

Couponing has allowed me to try new brands and new products for very cheap. For example, the pack of Bic Soleil Razors which I’ve never tried before retailed for $5.99. My store had it on sale for $4.99. I had a $3 off coupon so each pack was only $1.99!

**For those of you that are wondering about veggies/fruits and meats….I purchase any fruits and veggies I want for recipes during the week, not during my coupon trip. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t know what I’m going to be cooking yet for next week. I stock up on meats when they have a good sale and keep them in the freezer.

This trip I was able to stock up on some grilling necessities!

Here is what I got:

-3 bags of Snyder’s pretzels
-2 packs Italian Ice’s
-3 packs Bic Soleil razors
-1 pack ground beef (not on sale- $3.62)
-2 bottles Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
-2 bottles Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
-3 bottles Lawry’s marinades
-1 bottle Ken’s marinade
-3 bottles Kikkoman Soy Sauce
-3 Revlon eye shadows
-3 jars Smucker’s preserves
-3 sticks Suave deoderant
-1 roll paper towels
-2 bottles Hungry Jack Lite Syrup

Total Spent: $35.10                          Total Saved: $72.11

Panko Crusted Chicken with Soy Sauce Glaze

So today marks my 4 year anniversary of moving to the beautiful city of Charleston, SC! It’s really scary how fast time has gone, and looking back I can’t believe I moved here…12 hours away from my home without a job, only a few hundred dollars in the bank, and only the possesions that could fit into my car and my husband’s (boyfriend at the time) car. The first few months definitely weren’t easy, between missing my family and missing my friends, I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision or not. But I am so glad that I stuck it out and that we decided to stay here. While I still love and miss my hometown, I definitely feel “at home” here too.

It has also been fun to look back at how my cooking as progressed in the 4 years I’ve been on my own. I’m not by any means a skilled chef, but I do want to think that I have made some serious improvements to my techniques! When I was first on my own and cooking for my then boyfriend, I was more ‘safe’ with my ingredients…nothing was overly daring. I cooked more simple meals and a few more casserole style dishes. Now, I’m willing to try more new things and combining lots of new flavors.

A few days ago I bought a box of Panko bread crumbs and didn’t use it for the recipe I had planned to, so I wanted t try and come up with something that would incorporate them. I found two recipes on that I adapted to come up with the recipe below. I love the crunch of Panko, and the soy sauce glaze is really really good. Just a tip, the sauce packs a lot of flavor, so you don’t need to drown the chicken in it. Just drizzle over the top like shown, and a little more on the sides of the plate for extra dipping.

Ingredients-Chicken (Adapted from All Recipes)
-2 bonless,skinless chicken breasts (cut into slices)
-1/2 cup flour
-1 egg, beaten
-1 cup Panko bread crumbs
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients- Soy Sauce Glaze (Adapted from All Recipes)
-2 tablespoons corn starch
-1 tablespoon water
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/8 tsp ground ginger
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
1. For the chicken, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in frying pan. Cut chicken into slices and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour. then the egg, then the Panko. Make sure chicken is coated well with the Panko. Place chicken slices in the pan and cook 4 minutes, turn each piece and cook another 4 minutes (or until fully cooked).
2. For the glaze, in a sauce pan over medium heat combine the soy sauce, corn strach, water, white sugar, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic. Simmer until sauce thickens and bubbles. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time. If too thin, add corn starch a teaspoon at a time.
3. Serve chicken over white rice and top with soy sauce glaze.

Homemade Pasta and New Dining Room

I had been wanting to make homemade pasta for a while now, but for some reason I have been intimidated by the process. At first, I thought I wasn’t able to since I don’t own a KitchenAid or a pasta roller. But a few weeks ago I bought this cookbook Betty Crocker’s Italian Cooking and was so excited to see a recipe for homemade pasta that had instructions that did not require a pasta roller or KitchenAid! The pasta tasted so good, it will be hard to go back to dry pasta. I used a pizza cutter to cut the dough into fettuccine instead of a knife, it was alot easier.

On a side note, we finally finished painting our dining room with the help of my brother-in-law! My husband and I have always wanted a red dining room, I think there is something very romantic about it and we are so happy with the way it looks. We’ll definitely have to make more of an effort to eat in there now. We’ve lived here since November and I can count on one hand the number of time we’ve eaten in the dining room! There are a few more little touches to make on the dining room, one of them being curtains. I think I want to do a nice white curtain that pools on the floor…I love that look. But for now, we’re happy to have a dash of color in the townhome. I feel like I’ve been living in a world of beige ever since I went to college!

-1 1/2 cups flour
-2 eggs
-3 tablespoons water
-1/2 tsp olive oil
-1/8 tsp salt
1.Place flour in a mound in a mixing bowl. Create a well in the center and add the eggs, oil, and salt. Mix with a fork, gradually bringing flour to the center until a dough has formed. Gradually add the tablspoons of water while dough is forming for desired consistency. If too sticky, sprinkle in more flour.
2. Knead dough on floured surface for 15 minutes, if too sticky add more flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes.
3. Divide dough in half. With a rolling pin, roll one part of  the dough into a rectangle roughly 1/8″ thick (or desired thickness). Sprinkle lightly with flour and fold dough into thirds. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into fettuccine noodles.
4. Arrange cut noodles on a single layer on a floured towel. Let rest uncovered at room temperature for 30 minutes.
5. To cook pasta, boil uncovered 2-4 minutes.

Polynesian Chicken and Hawaiian Honeymoon

It was exactly one year ago today my husband and I were flying to beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii! Before this trip, I really had never been anywhere exotic before, I hadn’t even been to another timezone, so this was a big trip for me. After a brief layover in Charlotte, NC, we embarked on a lovely 11 hour flight direct to Honolulu. Nothing like some quality bonding time with the new husband haha.
I have to say that the Hawaiian culture is just as beautiful as the crisp turquoise ocean. We had so much fun at the Polynesian Cultural Center learning about our cousins in Hawaii and some of the surrounding Polynesian Islands: Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa. I tend to forget that while Hawaii is one of our 50 states, it is really just a tiny collection of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
I adapted this recipe from Paula Deen’s Polynesian Chicken, and the flavors really took me back to Hawaii. The tropical flavors of the pineapple and the orange, mixed with the soy sauce and brown sugar reminding me of something we ate at a luau.
Anyway, here is the meal and some honeymoon photos…recipe at bottom.

(Not a really good pic)
Before dinner

A view of the beach in front of our condo

The Royal Hawaiian

A blow hole!

Beautiful coast
-1 can pineapple rings (use 3 tablespoons of juice in recipe)
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup white wine (optional: I prefer recipe without it)
-1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 teaspoon ginger
-2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1.Heat oven to 375 degrees
2.In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, optional wine, orange juice, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger, and 3 tablespoons of the juice from the canned pineapple rings. Place chicken chunks in a baking dish and pour sauce over chicken. Bake 20 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
3.Cut pineapple rings into bite-size pieces. Serve chicken over white rice and top with pineapple pieces.

Mahi Rockefeller

One of the many benefits of living in Charleston is being about 7 miles from the ocean. I am also very lucky to have a husband that can go offshore fishing and brings me back amazing fish to cook for dinner! The other day they went offshore and caught some mahi-mahi. If you’ve never seen a mahi-mahi fish, search an image for one on Google, they are an absolutely beautiful fish! I love mahi-mahi since it is so mild you can really be creative with the sauce and seasonings. Normally, I’m pretty conservative with how I cook this fish, but this time I really wanted to try something new.

After browsing some recipes, I came across one for mahi Rockefeller. The combination of spinach, bacon, and garlic sounded amazing, but the recipe wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to find out more about what made the dish “Rockefeller” and how I could make a Rockefeller sauce, not just a topping. Turns out, when Oysters Rockefeller was created it was named after the richest man in America at the time, John D. Rockefeller, because the sauce was so rich. Interestingly, the exact recipe for Rockefeller is a mystery, it has never left the hands of the family of the creator, Jules Alciatore.

After combining ideas from Allrecipes and an Emeril recipe for Rockefeller soup and I came up with this delicious sauce. I think this would work equally well on chicken, just serve with light sides since it is very rich.

-1/3 cup real bacon bits (I use Hormel Real Bacon Pieces)
-2 mahi mahi filets
-1 tablespoon butter
-2 scallions, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon chopped shallots
-1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach, cooked
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-2/3 cup+1 tablespoon heavy cream
1. In a saucepan, melt the tablespoon of butter, add the bacon pieces, minced garlic, chopped scallions, and teaspoon of chopped shallots. Saute 6-7 minutes.
2.  In a blender or food processor, combine the cooked spinach and 2/3 cup heavy cream. Puree for about 45 seconds-1 minute until thick sauce is created.
3. Place spinach sauce in a pot and add in the bacon mixutre and Parmesan cheese. Add 1 tablespoon on heavy cream if sauce is too thick. Heat on low heat and keep warm until mahi filets are cooked.
4. To cook mahi filets, place in a Pam-sprayed pan and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping once.

5/15 Couponing

This week’s couponing was better for toiletries than food. The past few weeks I’ve been able to stockup on pasta, rice, canned corn, and chicken so I wasn’t too concerned that there weren’t many food deals that I wanted to buy. Starting Wednesday, Harris Teeter will TRIPLE coupons under .99, so I’ll hopefully be able to find some awesome deals on food.

The three items I am most pleased with this week are the Gilette Fusion Pro Gilde Razor, the Pantene, and the 36ct box of Tampax Pearl. Harris Teeter offers coupons that load right onto your customer card, and these “eVic” coupons can also be combined with a paper coupon for that product. Here is how these worked:

                     -The Razor retailed for $11.99, but it was on sale today for $9.99. I had a $4 off coupon AND a $4 off eVic coupon on my card, so I got the razor for $1.99!

                    -The Tampax 36ct box retailed for $8.99, but was on sale today for $6.49. I had a $2 off coupon AND and $2 off eVic coupon on my card, so I got the box for $2.49!

                     -The Pantene shampoos retailed for $4.45, but were on sale for 2 for $7. I had a $3 off 2 coupon AND a $3 off 2 eVic coupon on my card, so I got both shampoos for $1.

This Saturday there was a program called “Stamp out Hunger“. All you had to do was hang some non-perishable food items in a bag on your mailbox and the mail carrier would pick them up and bring them to the local food bank. It felt good that I could participate in this program because I’ve created my stockpile of food. I donated cans of corn, boxed potatoes, and pastas from my stockpile yesterday.

Here’s what I got:

-2 packages of Milano cookies
-2 Gillette body washes
-3 bottles French’s Worcestershire sauce
-4 tubes Colgate toothpaste
-1 Fusion Pro Glide Razor
-2 cans Gillette shaving cream
-1 box 36ct Tampax Pearl
-2 bottles Pantene shampoo
-2 6-packs of Keebler mini-pie crusts

Total Spent: $18.36 (of which $3.23 was tax)                                   Total Saved: $56.30

Red Wine and Beer BBQ Chicken

A few years ago when I was first living on my own out of college, I was looking for easy recipes that I could throw together after working all day. It was the first time that I was cooking for my husband (then my boyfriend) so I really needed things that were fool-proof. I had found an oven bbq recipe on, but when I went to site it for this post I couldn’t find it anymore. I made modications to the ingredients, like adding the BBQ sauce and adjusting the ketchup down a little. This is an excellent sauce, the sweetness of the red wine and the flavor of the beer really set it apart from any other BBQ sauce. This time I served it with my Potato Wedges, see recipe below.

Ingredients- Chicken
-1 cup ketchup
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 can beer (I used Coors Light)
-1/2 cup red wine
-1/2 cup BBQ sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a sauce pan, blend ketchup, brown sugar, beer, wine, and BBQ sauce. Simmer 10 minutes.
3. Pour over chicken and bake in a baking dish for about 1 hour, or until chicken is fully cooked.

-1 Russet potato, cut into wedges
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup ranch dressing
-1/4 cup real bacon pieces (I used Hormel real bacon pieces)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. On a foil lined baking sheet, spray foil generously with Pam cooking spray. Lay wedges on foil and pour oil evenly over wedges. Sprinkle with garlic salt and paprika. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping once.
3. Remove from oven and top with ranch, cheese, then bacon. Broil until cheese is metled and bubbly.

Taco Casserole

This taco casserole is one of the easiest dishes you can make! I’m normally not a big fan of casseroles or Mexican cuisine, but this one just seems to work. I made this for the first time last year for Cinco de Mayo and it was a huge hit. A tip when reheating this is to add a little more salsa so it doesn’t get too dry. Buen provecho!

-1 lb ground beef
-1 can sweet kernel corn, cooked
-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1 cup cooked rice
-1 packet taco seasoning
-1/2 cup salsa (I use mild)
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 tablespoons sour cream
-1 cup crumbled Tostitos or tortilla chips
1.Preheat oven to broil on high
2.Spray frying pan with Pam. Cook ground beef, adding salt and pepper for seasoning.
3. In separate pots, cook canned corn and rice.
4. To the cooked ground beef add taco seasoning, cooked corn, cooked rice, and the salsa.
5. Pour mixture into a 9×9 baking dish and pour cheese on top. Broil until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with crumbled chips, broil an additional 3 minutes to brown chips. Garnish with sour cream and parsley.

4/30 Couponing

Harris Teeter was doing their Super Double coupons again this week! I still have a ton of chicken left from when they were doing their buy 1 get 2 free sale, so I didn’t have to pick up any meat today, plus my husband caught some Mahi Mahi yesterday! Here’s a list of everything I got!

-3 bags Friskies cat food
-2 boxes Sucrets
-3 bags Birds Eye frozen rice
-2 packs Buitoni angel hair pasta
-2 boxes Ortega taco shells
-3 boxes Bayer aspirin
-2 jars Classico sauce
-1 Irish Spring deoderant
-1 Heinz ketchup
-2 bottles Lysol cleaning wipes
-1 3-pack Jello Temptations
-1 bottle Pepsi Max
-4 bags Mahatma rice
-3 bags Tostitos
-1 jar Tostitos salsa
-3 packs Ivory soap
-4 tubes Crest Pro-health toothpaste

-1 Tidy Cat litter

Total Spent: $24.98                                Total Saved: $106