Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Final Coutdown

It kind of feels like the final countdown. I'm trying to accomplish as much as I can before this baby comes or I end up on bed rest. I'm a month in to my crazy coupon summer, I'm not doing as good as I want to be, but still saving money.

Here's what I snatched up last week:

5 boxes of Nature Valley Granola Thins= Free

2 pkgs of Dixie paper plates= $3.00

2 packs Twizzler= $.50 each

$4.00 is not bad for all the snacks above, I can't calculate savings since I didn't save my receipt for original price, but still, fabulous! Oh, and the granola bars came with a coupon for free milk, so even cheaper here!

Both of our camping chairs broke last summer, so I found a great deal to get new babies.

2 camping chairs (reg. $10.99) on sale for $7.99

Used 2 20% off coupons

Used 2 coupons for "Free LED flashlight with any purchase"

Thanks Harbor Freight Tools!! (My husband adores that store, anybody else?)

Speaking of husbands, mine celebrated a birthday and he got homemade funnel cakes. Yum!!! I wasn't totally in love w/ the recipe, I felt it was a little too thick, but still delicious with caramel, powdered sugar and cinnamon.

To spoil hubby a little extra I couponed one of his favorite things- Minute Maid Lemonade. I bought 5 cases of the lemonade cans for $5. Hot! (We'll see how long it lasts, we sure cruised through them this 4th:)

I'm still working hard on getting freezer meals ready too. This is a Spaghetti Sausage Nest, it's actually very delicious, I'll post the recipe soon.

In my freezer I have:

4 bags grilled cajun chicken, sliced

4 containers of beef and bean taco filling

1 Spaghetti Sausage nest

1 Funeral Potato Casserole

Not bad right? Today for dinner I'm making homemade chicken nuggets, I'm tripling the recipe and going to freeze the extra. Throw some quick potatoes and steamed carrots on the side and we're in business!

And in between all of that, I'm just getting bigger:)


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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making Beans Your Family Will Eat

I want to share with you the steps to make the most delicious beef and bean taco filling ever. All the credit goes to my mom, who has been making these for years. We use this filling to make our own homemade frozen burritos, tacos, nachos, or anything else Mexican. I love this recipe because you are doing everything from scratch, you get to control the quality of ingredients and how much fat, salt, etc. are added in. Beans are loaded with nutrition, and since there are double the beans to beef, you're saving money. Follow along with me and let me know if you have any questions.

Remember- If you soak and cook your beans correctly you won't have the digestive/gas problems, so yes it takes longer, but it's worth it!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

2 lbs. dry beans (4 cups)

1 lb. ground beef

1 10 oz. can tomato sauce

3/4 cup salsa

3-5 Tbsp. Taco seasoning (or to taste)

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup onion, diced

Note: I like to mix the variety of dry beans I use. Beans come in 1 lb. bags, which is 2 cups dry in each. For this batch I used 2 cups of pinto beans, 1 cup of black beans, 1 cup of red beans. Mix it up however you want, just equal 4 cups.

Step 1: The soak. I always start my beans Tuesday night before bed, and serve the finished product Friday for dinner. That should give you a good idea of the timeline. I know it seems time consuming, but remember most of that time they're just sitting on your counter, no work involved:) You always want to soak beans overnight, always. I place mine in a huge bowl, cover with water and head to bed. Easy!

Step 2: Sprout. A lot of bean-makers skip this step, but it's worth people! Did you know that by sprouting your beans you can almost double the nutrition? I let mine sprout all day Wednesday and Thursday and they are good to go. Can you see it in the picture? The beans open and a little sprout pokes through. So, after they've soaked all night I rinse them really well and place them in a spaghetti strainer. I put a towel underneath and let them sit in the strainer for 2 days. Every 3 or so hours when walk by I give them a little shake and run a little water over them. Don't bother waking up during the night though, they'll be fine:) Can you handle this?

Step 3: Quick Boil. This is a step you don't want to skip. I do this Friday morning, right before tossing the beans in the crockpot. In this step you get rid of all that lovely gas-causing slime. It's easy to do, just boil it right off. I put the beans in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. You will notice a white, foamy, slimy stuff float to the top. This is the scum you want to get rid of, can you see it in the picture? Just use a spoon and scrape it off. Get as much as you can, then rinse the beans again in your strainer.

Step 4: Cook 'em up. I recommend using your crockpot, it's just easier. Dump in your beans, pour in enough water to cover the beans and toss in 3 or so cloves of garlic. I put them on high for 6 hours. They will start smelling really delicious after 4 hours or so. I never add salt to the beans, they do taste pretty bland at this stage, but you'll add the oomph later.

Step 5: Taco time. Cook 1 lb. of ground beef in your skillet, drain any grease. Add onion, we love red onions here.

While the beef is cooking, strain your beans and mash them. I don't bother with a puree, just a potato masher for a few minutes works great.

Into the pot add your mashed beans, tomato sauce and salsa. Mix thoroughly. Add your taco seasoning to taste. Some people like a lot of the saltier taco flavor, while I prefer a little less. Just add and stir until you get the taste you like.

This is what your finished beef and bean mix looks like. I will serve some type of yummy taco/burrito for dinner, and put the remaining mix in 2 cup ziploc containers to freeze. This will stay delicious in your freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, I just take it out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge, then microwave until warm to serve.

Step 6: Serve. This is one of our favorite ways to eat the mix, in crunchy tacos. Warm the shells in the oven, then fill with a spoonful of the taco mix. Add lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and your other favorite toppings.

I'm making another batch of beans this week and I will be making homemade frozen burritos. I tried to take pictures last time, but they just disappear too fast!

Any questions? Great ideas for the mix? Let me know in the comments!

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