Sunday, June 29, 2008

Budget Update

Tim and I just about made it through our switch to cash for groceries for the month of June. And, we ran out of money about a week ago. We want to set it up so we can save money, but also so we can succeed in our budget.

We're going to try switching to taking out cash every two weeks instead of once a month. So the Saturday after we get paid, we'll take out $100 for groceries for the next two weeks. Hopefully it will be easier to gauge how much money we should (or shouldn't) spend in two weeks as opposed to one month.

I'll let you know how this works for us. We still might adjust the amount after a few cycles of two weeks, but I know this will save us money in the long run.

Friday, June 27, 2008


One of our favorite breakfasts is French toast. I have many memories of waking up when I was a little girl and going into the kitchen. My dad would be dressed for work and making a few pieces of French toast for his breakfast. I think that must be where I get my love for it from.

French Toast

6 pieces of bread
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk or non-dairy sub

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Dunk the bread pieces into the mixture and arrange on a preheated and oiled griddle or frying pan. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Cook on both sides until light brown.

In the picture above, I had dipped some egg slices in the batter and tossed them in the pan. I then put a tiny dollop of butter on each piece and covered it with cinnamon. I just cooked them right along side the French toast until they were soft.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gluten Free Simple on a Budget?

I enjoyed reading Gluten Free Frugal's post on a gluten free budget. I'm in tune with her desire to create simple, fast, cheap, nutritious meals. So many blogs are full of these recipes for extravagent dishes. Like a fruit salad that would take a half an hour to make! And would cost more than our entire dinner would usually cost! I prefer mine; it's cheap, good, and takes just a few minutes to whip up.

I strive to keep things simple. I don't need or want a complicated life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hearty Muffins

I just took a few pictures of my "hearty muffins," but they all came out quite blurry. I thought that I could at least tell you about them instead.

I didn't have a recipe for these, and I didn't keep track of what I was putting in them since it was after 10:00 at night and I just wanted to go to bed! Next time I make them I'll try to create a recipe to share.

I put raisins, shredded carrots, a banana, apple sauce, sorghum flour, and rice flour in my hearty muffins, and boy are the hearty! They're pretty dense and full of good stuff!

I want to thank my Sister Rae for inspiring these muffins. She would often make something like them (but with wheat) when we were younger.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Food for a Busy Week?

This week my church orchestra is playing for the services at our church association's national conference. My very talented music pastor is in charge of all of the music for the conference; it's a great honor.

What this means at the Tim-and-Sarah household is: fast, fast, fast meals! I get off of work at 3:30. Today and Thursday we need to leave from church at 4:00, Wednesday at 2:00. Luckily I have the best boss ever, so he'll let me leave early on Wednesday. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the conference is close enough that we will come home every evening, but it's still a 2 hour drive each way!

Tim came up with a great idea of what to have to dinner. Last night I put together a lasagna and this morning (as I'm typing this), it's in the oven. Later this morning it will go in the fridge, and each afternoon we'll just heat up a piece! We'll have a plum or apple with it, and maybe some carrot sticks or something.

I'm also making some hearty muffins. I kind of just threw everything together, so hopefully they'll turn out! Tim's making Chex mix for the road, so I think we'll all have a good time. I'm really looking forward to the conference, but it's going to make for a busy week!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

I got a lot done around the house yesterday. My clothes are put away, the dishes are done, my coupons are clipped, and I made chocolate chocolate chip muffins!

Like my recent mac'n'cheese experiment, these muffins were good, but they could be better. I'll wait to put up the recipe until I get them just right. But, hopefully the picture will be inspiring to you!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I'm sorry I've been such a putz this week! I can't believe I haven't posted since Wednesday!

Well, this whole week has gone like that: I have clean clothes folded and sitting smartly right on the living room floor (for a few days!), I haven't clippped my coupons from last Sunday (and now it's almost Sunday again!), and my toilet is beginning to get a ring around it! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

I don't like having weeks like this, were every second of my time is scheduled. Here's Wednesday for ya: I got up and went to work, I had to leave work right on time to run to church to pracitce for my solo on Sunday, I then had to be done practicing at a specific time in order to get home and make dinner so we could get to city band practice on time, then leave city band practice early to go to church band practice, and then go home at 10:30 and bake my bread that's been rising since 6:30. 11:45 rolls around, and we finally get to go to bed. (I do realize that I probably shouldn't have let my bread rise that long since it has eggs in it, but I haven't gotten sick yet!)

So, that was one day from my week. With gorcery shopping on Tuesday, city band concert on Thursday, and bringing dinner to a couple from our church who just had a baby on Friday and then going to our friends' house after that, it makes for a busy week. All pretty much fun things, but put them all together, and I get overwhelmed!

I haven't been cooking anything really worth mentioning. Here's my menu for the week. It's pretty much basic food. Hopefully next week I can try some more daring entrees. I am going to try mac'n'cheese again since I have half a block of Velveeta in my fridge still. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for your patience this week. Next week doesn't seem to be shaping up any better, but I'll work on getting some posts up in the morning. I think I'll put up one about French toast! Yummy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Yesterday was my first attempt making Macaroni and Cheese from scratch. It turned out alright, though not great. I'll definitely be tweaking this recipe after I consult with my sister Rae (she's a cooking whiz!). So, I'm not going to share the recipe this time, but if I get it just right, I'll let you know!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekly Menu

I didn't post my menu last week, although I did have one. For some reason I just never got around to posting it. Here's what I've got lined up for this week:
  • Sunday dinner - Taco Salad
  • Monday - Split Pea Chowder
  • Tuesday - Macaroni and Cheese
  • Wednesday - Stir Fry
  • Thursday - Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
  • Friday - Pizza
  • Saturday lunch - Crepes
  • Saturday dinner - ???

As always, check out Org Junkie for more menu plans.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Strawberry Muffins

I hate to share this, but I made these muffins on Thursday, and they're all gone now! But, I did bring a few to my neighbors, so Tim and I didn't eat them all.

Strawberry Muffins
1 cup sorghum flour (or quinoa flour)
1 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup turbinado sugar (or regular)

1 1/2 cup mashed strawberries (a few less than 16 oz.)
3 eggs
2/3 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the muffin tins (grease or line). I then used a food chopper to pulverize the strawberries. Mix together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, mix together the three wet ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients to the the wet and blend. Do not overmix. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

I must give credit to my mom, since I adapted this recipe from her great banana muffin recipe. Thanks Mom!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer Reading

Following Gluten Free Frugal's lead, I'm going to tell you a little about my summer reading. I've just started "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett for the second time. I loved this book the first time through, and nothing is lost by knowing the ending.

Patchett's writing style is quite unlike the authers I usually read (Stephen Lawhead, Jasper Fforde, Bruce Ware). She's very descriptive. She writes things that may not be grammatically "proper," but it really gets the point across.

The overall plot is that some people at a political dinner party are taken hostage. They get to know their fellow hostages and their captors, working past the language barriers. Among the hostages is a famous opera singer and she practices and performs for them. Being a musician myself, I love this plot device.

It does have a few adult themes (it is a hostage situation, after all), but it has such a unique story. It's a beautiful and thoughtful look into human nature.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gluten Free Friday, Last Day

Well, I'm going to wrap up my Gluten Free Fridays series. Find all of the installations on my sidebar.

Today I'm going to bring up two ideas essential to living the gluten free life. The first is this: Have good resources.

I would not be where I am today, culinary-wise, if not for my Bette Hagman cookbooks. Her essays and tip are so informative, and her recipes are great, too! Her work has really helped me transition to this new lifestyle.

I also am so greatful for other gluten free blogs. I've learned so much and found so many tasty recipes! Check out Rachel's listing for more gluten free bloggers. It's quite extensive!

My other tip for the day is to be your own advocate. I need to learn to take my own advice, I know, but it's still good advice. Speak up for yourself when appropriate; don't be afraid to let people know about your needs.

That wraps up Gluten Free Fridays. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Pot Roast Soup

I'm back on-line! I've survived (so far) the infamous floods of 2008, and I'm none the worse for it. Just loosing my internet for a few days is nothing compared to completed and utterly losing everything you own! I am very blessed. Check out my friend Amy's blog for some incredible pictures of the flood.

Here's a picture of my Pot Roast Soup. I made pot roast in the crock pot on Wednesday. Now, pot roast is definitely a treat at my house. We do not have it very often at all. My mom was planning on visiting this week, but decided, wisely, not to come because of the flooding. We had gotten the roast to have with her. (Sorry you missed it Mom!)

I just throw my roast and veggies in the crost pot and let it cook all day. Then I make gravy from the drippings using rice flour. Then, I take the leftovers, add a little beef broth to the gravy, and have soup the next day! And yes, that is garlic toast next to my soup. What a great dinner!

We even had leftover soup for breakfast this morning. Yum!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

High Water Update

This is Rachel, Sarah's sister, giving you a heads up on the state of her Internet. It's not working obviously, but it should be back in 24-48 hours. The Cedar River is flooding in her area and is disrupting everything. She is experiencing flooding even worse than this: Her house is fine, it's just hard to get around town, and to use the Internet apparently.

Tune in sometime in the next few days for her post on pot roast soup and strawberry muffins.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


About every two years I get a hankering to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have all three of the extended versions, so that's a lot of film to watch. I'm not sure the exact time, but they have to total at least 10 hours.

Tim and I started watching on Friday night, and so far we've only just finished the Two Towers. We've got a long way to go. Hopefully we'll be able to finish it this weekend, so I can get back to having my regular cooking and blogging time.

Tonight we had chicken on the grill, quinoa, and veg for dinner. We never actually had the cheesy sweet potato soup that I had planned for last weekend. When we have it, I'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Farmer's Market

On Saturday Tim and I took a trip to our local farmer's market. We enjoyed strolling along the aisle, looking at all of the local talent. There were crafts and baked goods, but very little produce. We only saw radishes and endive.

Unfortunately for me, Tim doesn't like radishes, so it would have been silly to buy some just for me. And we weren't all that inspired by the endive, either.

So we were content to just enjoy the sunshine and enjoy each other's company. Until I saw it...

It was a little sign on a table next to some baked goods. It read "Gluten Free." I marched straight up to the table and to get a closer look. The seller said his wife was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, so she was trying out some new baking techniques. The cookies were peanutbutter, and they cost $2.75 for 6. I snatched them up in a fit of joy!

Tim and I both liked the cookies, although peanutbutter isn't my favorite. I just liked the fact that I could go to the farmer's market and get a baked treat like a "normal" person. Oh, it felt good!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mexican Lasagna

This is what we had for dinner last night, and for breakfast and lunch today! Just before lunch time today, I realized that I didn't have enough eggs for my hamburger bake (which I was totally looking forward to), and I didn't have enough time to make either of my crockpot meals that I had planned for this weekend. We'll have one of them tomorrow, at least.

Mexican Lasagna

1 can diced tomatos
about 10 corn tortillas
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 can refried beans
1 lb. hamburger or ground turkey
1 onion, diced
1 can prepared black beans
frozen corn

1 cup shredded cheese
taco seasoning (I used Ortega)

Brown the meat and onions, and then add the taco seasoning, following the directions on the packet. Layer the ingredients in a 9x13 dish in the order they are listed in the ingredient list, starting with the tomatos. Use only half of each ingredient. After adding the corn, create all the layers again, using the rest of each of the ingredients. Add the shredded cheese on top. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gluten Free Friday, Day 8

Thank you everyone for your input on where to buy flours and which brands you prefer. Tenille, that's a really good point about supporting your local store even if it's a bit more spendy. I've never thought of it that way before.

Last week on Gluten Free Friday, I switched gears from gluten free basics, to gluten free frugality. Today I'm going to talk about Reducing Other Consumable Costs.

The biggest way that I've been able to save money on other consumables (soap, napkins, anything you "consume" that's not food), has been by reading Crystal at She has great deals at CVS, Walgreen, and other stores. I definitely recommend her site as a springboard for shopping frugally.

You can read here about some of the deals I've gotten at CVS. I haven't spent "real" money on hand soap, body soap, Tim's deodorant, or toothbrushes for months!

Another way I've cut down costs is that I rarely use paper towels. I got a few packs of wash clothes on sale and almost exclusively use them in the kitchen. (I should switch to cloth napkins, but I haven't taken that plunge yet.) I aslo don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener at all. I do have an extreme aversion to static, but I've not had any problems with it.

I've started a coupon binder. I don't find very many food coupons that I can use, but I do use quite a few toiletry and cleaning supply coupons.

How do you save money on non-food items in your household?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Buy Flours?

I still buy my flours at the grocery store (Hy-Vee). Since it's pretty expensive, I'm in the process of shopping around online to find a better deal. A couple websites I'm checking out are The Gluten Free Mall, Amazon, and Bob's Red Mill.

I buy Bob's Red Mill brand right now, and I'm really happy with it. I trust the brand to be contamination free.

Where do you buy your flours? What brands do you use? I'd love to learn from your experiences!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oven Fried Chicken

I tried a new recipe for dinner yesterday, and Tim and I both declared it a keeper! I really miss breaded foods, chicken expecially, so I thought I ought to pluck up the courage and try making some myself. I know, I know; I'm 25 and I probably should've made fried chicken at some point in my life, but I haven't. Until now.

Oven Fried Chicken

2 parts rice flour (1/2 cup)
2 parts sorghum flour (1/2 cup)
1 part potato starch (1/4 cup)
Sea salt
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 chicken breasts

(I made this just for the two of us, so I wrote the recipes in "parts" to make it easier to cook for more people)

Preheat the oven to 425. Melt the butter in the bottom of the baking dish. Add the chicken broth to the butter. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a big zipper bag. Shake up each of the breasts in the bag to fully coat them. Place the chicken in the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and flip the chicken pieces over; bake for 30 more minutes. Check the largest piece for doneness. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Weekly Menu, Addendum

When I went to make my grocery list, I realized that I completely forgot to make a menu for this weekend. How silly is that?! So, here's my weekend food adventure:
  • Saturday lunch - Cheeseburger bake
  • Saturday dinner - Italian Chicken with rice
  • Sunday lunch - Cheesy sweet potato soup

I'm looking forward to trying a few new recipes. I'll let you know how they turn out!

On a side note, check out Tenille at Gluten Free Frugal's summer reading.

Wheat and Legume Free?

I got an interesting comment from "C," and she said that her son has a wheat allergy, egg allergy and an all-encompassing legume allergy. I feel for her; it sounds like they are really struggling to figure out what's going on with their son's diet.

I've not heard of anyone being wheat allergic and legume allergic. If any of you readers have heard of someone else in this same situation, please leave a comment. Hopefully "C" will visit again to check comments.

I know a lot of gluten free recipes call for bean flours. I myself have not ventured too far into the world of bean flours; I stick with mainly rice and tapioca flours. So, "C," most of my recipes should work for you, minus the ones with eggs. I know rice flour is almost a thing of the gluten-free-past by now, but it works for me. One day I will start working with bean flours, but I'm happy where I am for now.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Weekly Menu

Tim's sitting next to me working on the laptop. I'm going to see if he'll help me plan the menu for this week...

He says he'll help; what a great guy!
  • Monday - Tomato soup (this was so good we want to have it again; also, we're out of pretty much everything else!)
  • Tuesday - Oven-fried chicken, rice, veggies
  • Wednesday - Tortilla pizzas
  • Thursday - Quesadillas
  • Friday - Mexican Lasagna

This week Tim and I start playing with our city's Summer Band. That means that we have a 7:00 rehearsal every Wednesday and a 7:00 concert every Thursday for the next 8 weeks. Needless to say, we'll be doing quick and easy meals on those two nights!

As usual, check out Org Junkies Menu Plan Monday!

Also, check out Gluten Free Mommy for the weekly Menu Roundup!

June Budget Beginnings

We're starting our cash adventure today. We've switched to using cash for groceries and consumables. We gave ourselves a $200/month budget to start out with. After June we may tweak it either up or down depending on how it went this month.

Today we had a few non-food items that we needed, so we stopped by CVS. We got 2 Pantene shampoos, Pantene intensive conditioner, 4 Dawn dish soaps, floss, 4 Oral-B toothbrushes, mouthwash, bandaids, napkins, Scott toilet paper, Hefty garbage bags, and a bag of peanut M&Ms. We spent $5.56 out of pocket and got $23.49 in Extra Care Bucks back to use next time we shop at CVS.

Now we won't use all 4 Dawns or toothbrushes tomorrow, but we will use them in the next few months. That means that we will have more money that can go towards food. Also, even if we got all of this stuff at the dollar store or as generics at Wal-Mart, we still would have paid more that we did today at CVS.

We were happy with our CVS shopping trip. Now, if only we could find a #2 plastic water bottle. You wouldn't think that would be too difficult, but apparently it is!