Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer time....

...and the living is not so easy. 

Nothing much going on around here lately.  NOT!!  We've been keeping very occupied, just not with the types of things that are fun to write or read about. 

We did make a quick trip home a few weekends ago.  Twelve hours of driving for about 36 hours of time in town is a little crazy, but it was worth it.  We saw our families, went to a few garage sales, and ate some barbeque.  We don't make trips home without eating barbeque.  This time we had lunch at The Bar B Que Shop...appropriate and original.  I know. :)  It is an award-winning restaurant, but shockingly neither of us had ever eaten there.  It definitely lived up to the awards it has earned.  It really gave our other favorite spots a run for the top place in our tummies. 

Speaking of tummies...our tummies have been enjoying some yummy homeade ice cream this summer.  I made 5 -  2 quart batches in about a 3 week period.  Yes, we shared.  For Christmas last year I was given the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer.  I found an easy recipe on Allrecipes and adapted it to my taste and flavorings.  It's super simple and the ice cream got rave reviews from our small group.  Using the same base recipe I made strawberry, mint chocolate chip, and cookies and cream. 

Here's the recipe....

Homeade Ice Cream


2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup skim milk
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 - 3/4 tsp of vanilla

Whisk all of the above ingredients and an liquid flavorings and food coloring together in a large bowl.  Mix in frozen mixer attachment for ~20 minutes.  Add solid flavorings (strawberries, chocolate chips, etc) in the last 2-5 minutes of mixing. 

For mint chocolate chip:
1/8 tsp of pepperment oil
3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips
green food coloring (optional)

For cookies and cream:
~20 crushed Oreo cookies

For strawberry:
2 cups of fresh strawberries, crushed
red food coloring (optional)

And while we're at it, a couple of other summer favorites...

Black Bean Salad

Food Network: Guy Fieri


• 2 cans black beans, drained, about 30 ounces
• 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
• 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
• 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
• 1/4 cup diced red onion
• 1/4 cup diced green onions
• 1/4 cup diced pineapple
• 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
• 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
• 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
• Juice of 1/2 lime
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoons salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch ground cumin


Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (the longer the better; it gets better with time).

Broccoli Salad

Serves: 9
Ready in: 30 min.

2 heads fresh broccoli
1/2 lb of bacon
1/2 large red onion, chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup cashew pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbl white wine vinegar

1. Fry the bacon over medium high heat.  Cool and crumble.
2. Cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces and chop the onion.  Combine with the bacon, raisins, cashews (or your favorite nuts), and mix well.
3. In a seperate bowl, mix the mayo, sugar, and vinegar together until smooth.  Stir into the salad, let chill, and serve.

**Sorry for the overly boring, pictureless post.  I intended to take pics of the food, but it seemed I always remembered as I was washing the empty containers they had been in.  Oh well, that just tells you how good these are. 


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Coupons, Poptarts, and Elvis

You are probably wondering what these three things have in common. Or you may not care one bit. Who is "you" anyway? Hello? Is anyone out there. Ok, moving on...

I have bought in to the idea of couponing. It can save a lot of money if done appropriately. I'm no coupon queen. I haven't calculated it but I'd say I average around 35-40% savings on groceries. It's exciting when you have those weeks when the savings are over 50%.

I love poptarts. I have been eating poptarts for breakfast as long as I can remember. Yeah, not the healthiest option out there. I used to only eat strawberry poptarts. These days I like cherry, smores, blueberry, and brown sugar cinnamon. I liked the ones with extra fiber but they don't come in the 12ct boxes.

Anyway, I've been without poptarts for several months now. They don't go on sale much and their aren't many coupons for them. But recently Albertson's stepped in to bring poptarts back into my morning routine.

Albertson's ran a Kellogg's sale.
10 items (cereal, poptarts, cereal bars) for $30
$10 off instantly at checkout (=$20) and
$10 back for your next purchase (=$10) and
I happened to have 3 - $1 off 2 boxes of Poptarts and
2 - $1 off 2 boxes of Nutrigrain bars (=$5)

I scored 6 - 12ct boxes of Poptarts and 4 - boxes of Nutrigrain bars for $5. That's $0.50 a box! For 12ct boxes! An 8ct box is usually close to $2 alone. Let me just say, I was excited.

In comes Elvis. Poptarts is currently running a promotion. If you purchase 5 different flavors and enter the codes on their website you can choose a prize. One of the prizes is a movie pass with a value up to $12.

The very night I bought the poptarts was the one night showing of Elvis on Tour: 75th Anniversary Special. It cost $12.50 ea but I knew Will would really love to see it and I'm all about getting the full value of my prize!

Unfortunatley we had a little hiccup at the theater and ended up having to pay for both of our tickets. I was unhappy and later pushed the issue with the manager. To make up for the problem he gave us two complimentary tickets for another movie of our choice. Always ask! It wasn't fun but I wasn't going to allow them to get away with the way they treated us and handled the situation.

Tonight we're going to go use our tickets to see Inception. I'm not sure if I'm going to like it, but it's FREE!

To recap all that blabbering. I'm stocked up on breakfast foods and we got a pair of movie tickets...all for $5. I'd say that worked out well.


Monday, August 2, 2010

32nd Annual Great Texas Balloon Race

So, you know how I said there's not much to do in this small town? Well there is one weekend each year when that isn't entirely true. That's the weekend of the Great Texas Balloon Race. This event is a major event on the hot air balloon circuit and our small city is a proud participant.

I have childhood memories of watching hot air balloons launch from the field across the street from my house when the neighborhood was still being developed, but I haven't really seen any in years.

The event is somewhat like a mini fair with a balloon theme. There are classic fair foods (we had sausage and a stick and a turkey leg), vendors, and rides for the kids. This year there was a cluster balloon flight. The "pilot" attaches himself to a cluster of smaller balloons. The pilot releases balloons as he goes to control his altitude and direction. Have you seen the movie "Up"? Yeah, it's like that. We saw him flying as we arrived at the event.
We also got to see four US Air Force post WWII planes. Really neat.

The highlight of the event is the Balloon Glow. Around dusk all the balloonists blow up there balloons in a large field. The burn of the gas produces light in the balloon and there is a "glow" across the field. As we walked among the balloons you could feel the heat. It's intense. There were all different types of balloons. The most unique were the Purple People eater with a giant eye, a pair of twin Bumblebees, a pirate, a gumball machine, and a Dr Pepper bottle. The classic patchwork like ones were also pretty.

All those balloons in one place is definitely something you don't see everyday. I wish I could have seen them in flight but getting up at 6:30am was not on my agenda for the weekend. Maybe we'll work that in next year.

We also saw Elvis this weekend partly thanks to my couponing endeavors. I'll leave you with that for today. :)