Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Grill the following vegetables, I brush them with a little olive oil and balsamic:
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If you are a chocolate lover, these are the cookies for you. They are super rich! They remind me of brownies, but in cookie form. The toffee melts in with the chocolate and adds extra goodness to these cookies. Make sure you have a cold glass of milk nearby; you will want a few swigs after downing a couple of these chocolaty gems.
The house may have been a sauna, but oh well. These cookies were worth the heat!
As most of you know we have been participating in She's Becoming Doughmesstic’s Penny Pinching Pantry Raid Challenge. The goal was to only spend $100 on food for 4 weeks in July-that included groceries and eating out. Yesterday was the last day and WE DID IT! We passed with flying colors too. We only spent $26.34 on food for the entire month!
So how did we do it? We didn’t starve, I promise! We love food and eating good food. We used what we already had in our pantry, fridge, and freezer. Some days we had to be creative to come up with a tasty meal, but it was fun. I did continue to buy milk and produce, but that was about it. Luckily, I had milk coupons and found great deals on produce.
My dad and Josh’s mom came to visit and they both spoiled us a bit. They treated us to a meal out and purchased some groceries for us. Some of you may consider this cheating, but I promise we didn’t beg them to and they do this all of the time when they visit. We have great parents:)
We had extra mouths to feed this month. Besides my dad and Josh’s mom, our friends from Colorado stayed with us for a weekend, with their five kids. Our family friends from California also came to visit. Friends and Josh’s brother joined us for a couple of meals during the month. We love entertaining and I wasn’t going to let the food challenge change that.
We made sure we had plenty of food for our guests-we made them special breakfasts-whole wheat waffles, pancakes, banana bread, etc. We grilled out a lot-using the chicken and fish we had in the freezer. We made homemade pizza, baked our own bread, created new pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. We actually did a lot of cooking. I didn’t stop baking either. We had to offer sweet treats to our guests:) I just used the ingredients I had on hand.
Eating out wasn’t too much of a temptation. I always pack our lunches for work and we usually make dinner at home. I know Josh wanted to eat out a couple of times and I had to put my foot down, but he really was a good sport.
All said and done, I think we did a good job. I don’t know if I will stick to a $100 food budget every month, but I certainly will try.
Chocolate Toffee Rounds
Recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup toffee bits ( I used chopped up Heath bars)
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper) two baking sheets.
In the microwave or in a saucepan over very low heat melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring until smooth. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the melted chocolate, then stir in the flour, toffee bits, and chocolate chips.
Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until the tops are cracked and dry, but the cookies are still soft to the touch. Don’t overbake these; they’ll become firm as they cool.
Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
2 lbs. squishy-ripe fresh apricots (about 10-15, I used more because mine were small)
1 cup water
1 cups sugar
3 drops almond or vanilla extract (I used vanilla)
Split the apricots in half, remove the pits, and cut each half into thirds. Combine the apricot wedges and water in a medium nonreactive saucepan and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Once cool, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Taste a spoonful and if there are any small fibers, press the puree through a mesh strainer. Stir in the almond or vanilla extract. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
I have always been fond of apricots. My grandpa has a farm in Idaho and we used to go almost every summer when I was a kid. We loved exploring the farm, riding horses, chasing peacocks, milking cows, and picking apricots. There’s nothing better than a fresh, juicy, ripe apricot on a hot summer day.
We were out walking the other night and bumped into our neighbors who have an apricot tree. They said they weren’t going to use them this year so we could pick what we wanted. I of course ran home and got a bag, I wasn’t going to let those apricots go to waste.
I decided to dry most of them. I washed the apricots, cut them in half and placed them in our food dehydrator. When I woke up the next morning the apricots were dried and ready to be bagged. They aren't the prettiest things, but they are a great healthy snack!
I also made apricot sorbet and will be sharing that recipe soon! Stay tuned, it’s a winner!
I went to Sunflower Market this week to stock up on produce. I was running low and I can’t live without my fruits and veggies. Josh’s mom is also visiting this weekend so I wanted to make sure we had fresh produce for our special guest.
Wednesday is double ad day at Sunflower-everything from the week before and the new week is on sale. I got some great deals:
1 bunch of cilantro-50 cents
1 eggplant -55 cents
4 white peaches-$1.31
4 yellow peaches-84 cents
1 green pepper-50 cents
1 cantaloupe-50 cents
7 Roma tomatoes-$1.18
2 zucchini-59 cents
1 cucumber-50 cents
Head of Romaine lettuce-99 cents
1 garlic clove-34 cents
So far we have spent $23.34 on food this month. I think we are going to make it. Our friends from CO stayed with us last night and Josh's mom is visiting all weekend. Don't worry we are not starving our guests:) Have a great weekend everyone!
I don’t usually crave salty snacks, but I do love pretzels. Twists, rods, sticks, chocolate or yogurt dipped, I love them. We’ve made homemade soft pretzels and those are super scrumptious too. Pretzels are just a fun snack, in any shape or form!
I recently saw a cookie bar recipe from Food and Wine that included pretzel pieces. I knew I had to try these. Pretzels mixed into a sweet treat, what a divine idea!
The cookie bars were delightful. The pretzels added a nice little crunch and the sweet/salty combination was very satisfying. Josh said these are his favorite bar treats that I have made. This recipe is a keeper!
The challenge is still going well. Over the weekend our friends from CA stayed with us and we were able to feed them well with what we had. We also had friends over for dinner on Sunday. The challenge is working even with extra mouths to feed! :)
I bought another gallon of milk for 80 cents this week. Josh goes through milk like mad! I am grateful for coupons this month. I am going shopping for produce today. I hope to find some bargains at Sunflower Market. It is double ad day, so there should be some good sales. Our total is now at:$11.07.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pretzel Bars
Source: Food and Wine
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
One 12-ounce bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles (I didn’t use these)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. On low, beat in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Press the batter down with a spatula. If you want to use the sprinkles, sprinkle them on top of the batter. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. The middle might be a little gooey but that is ok, the bars will set up. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
Use a knife to go around the side of the pan to loosen the bars. Cut the bars in squares and serve.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl add the raisins and cover with water. Let them sit for five minutes. This will help plump them up.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Blend until combined. Stir in the oats and raisins.
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. You can bake them right away, but I prefer to chill the dough. I think it helps them bake up and not be so flat.
When you are ready to bake, spoon about a tablespoon of dough into a round ball, leaving space between each cookie. They will spread a little. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Take them out when they are golden at the edges but still a little under baked in the middle. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to cooling rack.
Labels: Pantry Raid Challenge