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Skillet Turkey Tetrazzini and $100 Giveaway from Bakers Royale

22 Nov

Check it out here!

http://www.bakersroyale.com/savory/skillet-turkey-tetrazzini/comment-page-1/#comment-205268

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Win a Keurig!

8 Sep

Big Mama posted a Keurig giveaway on her website today-head over to her blog and leave a comment and throw your hat into the ring!

http://thebigmamablog.com/

 

The Grocery Store Chamandments

19 Aug

Anyone have anxiety issues?  I’ve known for a long time that I have anxiety issues.  To many I probably seem like a laid back person (or maybe not and that’s just the vibe I’m desperately trying to give off, but then get anxious about giving off the wrong vibe, thus perpetuating my cycle of craziness?  and no one is fooled?) but I truly have some issues with places such as the grocery store, where there are a cornucopia of items to choose from.  I don’t know if my issue is the amount of items, thus decisions, available or if it’s the combination of my having a list, coupons, calculator, and trying to navigate my buggy through aisle after aisle of options and stupid people?  For some reason I can break out in a sweat at Kroger like it’s my job.  I actually love grocery shopping, thinking about all the yummy things I can prepare and get really excited about trying new dishes or even oldies but goodies.  And I’m perfectly fine when I manage to have a weekday off and go during the day when the store is much less busy.  Other than the occasional screaming child, it’s a perfectly lovely experience.  All the produce is stocked neatly and I never encounter an empty shelf of a needed item.  I think it’s my trying to be a polite and considerate shopper that stresses me out.  Because I am acutely aware that others don’t always share my zeal for grocery store etiquette.  Maybe I was ‘raised right’ or I just intuit certain behaviors when in public.  My Mam was a stickler for manners, and my sister and I always had on clean clothes, had taken a bath, and had our hair fixed before we left the house.  We may have come back looking feral but we always left tidy.

I’ve noted a few things at recent grocery store trips that I’d like to address.

The Grocery Store Chamandments:

1)  Please wear appropriate clothes and be bathed.  I’m embarrassed to even have to tell you this but apparently some of us, and by us I mean you, aren’t practicing good hygiene.  There’s nothing like standing in line with someone who smoked a pack of Marlboro Red’s in their air conditioning-less vehicle on the way here from Timbuktu.  Long ride huh?  How bout ya get that together before you peruse each and every aisle leaving your stink wafting through the air?

And ladies, I understand that we are obviously the superior sex and in being so, we over extend every imaginable part of our lives, and have way too much on our already full plates, and making an impromptu trip to the store may mean that you have on something less than grocery shopping appropriate.  Such as a tiny workout top with tiny matching shorts, so small that your gynecologist could easily give you a clean bill of health when you bend over to get an item on the bottom shelf.  And I get that.  But you ladies who do this, and are on the hunt for a man at the grocery store?  Please do not bend over at the waist right in front of my husband while you are unloading your buggy onto the conveyor belt.  I know he’s cute and way too nice to tell you this, but that isn’t gonna get you a husband, it’s gonna get you something that penicillin can’t get rid of or get you pregnant, and it makes you look desperate. 

2)  Don’t stand so close to me.  Listen, if you can tell me how long it’s been since I had my teeth cleaned (always less than 6 months thank you very much) then you had better give me 50 feet and back that thang up!  You will not get out of here any faster if you keep within two inches of my heels as I stand and wait on the cashier to complete my transaction.

3)  And about those lovely grocery store staff.  Would it kill you to bend your lips to smile at me or return my greeting of ‘hello, how are you?’  Mr. “I’m Surly and Tormented and I Want the World to know it!” I’m talking to you!  And when I say ‘Thank You’ for bagging my groceries please reciprocate with a ‘You Are Welcome’ instead of ignoring me.  I truly do appreciate your bagging my groceries, even though you obviously have had no training whatsoever in doing so.

4)  Please do not, under any circumstances, put my bread with my jar of pickles.  I try my darndest to keep that bread intact throughout my shopping excursion, and one careless move you can dent my loaf all to heck so that I’ll be eating mini sandwiches all week.  Please do not compromise my otherwise pristine loaf of bread by putting it in a bag with heavy items, or with any items for that matter.  Also put all refrigerated items together, frozen items together, cans together, and toiletries together.  This makes unloading my haul much easier and more pleasant.  Also?  Please do not feel the need to comment on my purchases if you are doing to make fun of me.  In fact, do not feel the need to comment on them at all.  Ever hear about ‘If you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all?’  Well now you have so shut your pie hole about my love of organic protein packed bars and how you can’t believe anyone actually east those, um kay?

5)  Attention shoppers we have a slug on aisle 5.  Slugs are those shoppers who are either killing time or have no clue what they want.  They just amble along, totally ignoring the unspoken rule of pulling your cart to the side of the aisle if you will be more than a couple of seconds in choosing an item while you are left to just follow them in their wake, hoping at the end of the aisle you’ll have a chance to zip by them and burn dust and make them eat your rubber.  I don’t always know which brownie mix or bean type that I want, so I pull my cart to the side, out of the way, and stand back with my cart, unless I need to scrutinize the item for some reason, until I make my selection.  I then move back into the aisle and continue on my merry way. 

Also-Wal Mart shoppers, take note of the above Chamandments, as they are applicable to any public shopping, even if for motor oil and Doritos.

Over and out!

Chaney Household Favorite Recipes

9 Aug

I get on a recipe kick sometimes and find something I really like and make it often.  I came up with the following recipe when a craving for chicken and black beans hit me, and I have played around with the recipe a bit and, I think, perfected it.  The great thing is, you can double this recipe and make a large dinner or have plenty for left overs.  The recipe below is about 3-4 servings for us, depending on how hungry we are.  Warning-this will fill you up fast!!

Easy Chicken Skillet Dinner

Chicken Breast (marinated if you have the time)

1 Can of Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained (I like to use Organic beans, because they have alot less sodium, usually about a quarter, than the conventional ones.)

2-3 Cloves Garlic, I prefer to roast it first but raw will work too

Onion, chopped

Bell Peppers, chopped

1 Packet Taco Seasoning

Chicken Broth or Stock

Shredded Cheese

Preface:  If you planned ahead, marinated chicken is so much better in this recipe!  I like to use something simple like olive oil, spices, and some lemon or orange juice for a twist.  Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour, up to over night.  Weber has some great spice mixtures that we use alot, like Kickin’ Chicken, and Garlic and Herb; you really can’t go wrong with these flavor combos!

Slice peppers and onions, and place in a skillet with a bit of butter or olive oil.  Let those start to carmelize and get a bit tender, and then remove from the skillet and set aside.  You want to get the flavor from these, but not over cook them, so you will add these back in once the chicken is cooked.  Slice uncooked chicken into thin strips, then into small pieces. Place in large skillet, season, and cook through. (We have a homemade blackened seasoning that I use on nearly all meat, but I always season with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, and a bit of Season All.) As chicken is cooking, use a utensil to chop or shred the chicken even further. (I have a great wooden utensil that has a thin end to it, that is perfect for this.) Once the chicken is cooked through, add the beans, garlic, peppers, onions, taco seasonings, and 1 Cup (or so) of Chicken broth or stock. If you don’t have that, water wil do well also. Stir all to mix the seasoning well, and let simmer until fully incorporated.  I garnish with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, just whatever is handy!

Coupon Ninjetta

14 Jun

Hey ya’ll!  Ninjetta is in da house!  For those of you who didn’t sit over with the cool kids (read: PM dorks) when the Redneck Ninja video became popular, Ninjetta is a Ninja’s female sidekick.  I jokingly refer to myself as Ninjetta when I feel particularly proud of something.

Today’s topic is Coupons!  This may have to be broken down into two posts, since my first draft is getting a big lengthy.  That long winded thing I was telling you about?  I wasn’t kidding!

First off, do you pronounce that word as ‘coo-pon’ or ‘cue-pon?  I use the former but have noticed that all the folks on Extreme Couponing us the latter.  Which really irritates me.  But on Dictionary.com the pronunciation key uses the former as well.  Winning!  I really like that show but I do find myself very amped about saving money afterwards, which I guess is good, however the Husband and I try to not live on Ramen alone, but on every living thing.  (Well not EVERY, just the living things that can be found at your local major grocery store chain.)  And I rarely see milk or fresh foods like meat, fruits, or vegetables included in the massive hauls these folks take home.  In our house, we have what I think is a nice balance.  Yes, we use coupons and I do put a lot of effort into stretching our dollars; however we also eat a lot of non-packaged foods and those don’t usually have coupons.

A few years ago, when I went to the store to get groceries, I would go up and down every aisle, doing what I call ‘unconscious shopping.’  I also exercise ‘unconscious eating’ sometimes too!  Basically, this is just shopping without a plan or a budget.  You have to have a budget!  Even a caloric one, but definitely a financial budget or plan.  At the time, I would just purchase whatever I wanted, and then would just pay what bills I could with what was left over.  Looking back, this sounds so immature and crazy.  And this is also why I’m still in debt today, because I didn’t manage my money well back then. 

Why did it not occur to me to use coupons??  I remember my Mom clipping coupons, but they usually were placed in a kitchen drawer where they stayed for years and were never used.  (She still does this and if you were to go in her kitchen right now, I would be willing to bet that on top of her microwave are months old coupons for random things.)  So I really didn’t see the value in them.  That was until a couple of years ago, when a friend at work told me about a coupon that when doubled at Kroger, allowed for free toilet paper!  The thought of anything free, especially something that I used daily and doesn’t expire, was very appealing.  I wound up with so much free toilet paper that when I moved, I still had packages of free toilet paper in my closet.  I estimate that I didn’t buy toilet paper for at least a year.  My friend was doing the Grocery Game plan which costs money each month, after the free trial month, and the more store lists you want, the more expensive it is.  I did the month free trial, learned how the system worked, and tried to do this on my own.  I think the Grocery Game is wonderful, but for someone just shopping for two, and who doesn’t have a lot of extra storage space including freezer space, I didn’t feel like it was a good return on my investment.  If you are shopping for a large family or want to buy extra to donate, or if you just have extra space, I think it is worth trying! 

What I do now is sign up for coupon previews from websites like Red Plum and Smart Source, which are the companies that publish some of the coupon inserts into the Sunday papers.  I receive weekly emails with a list of coupons that will be in the following Sunday’s paper.   Every Sunday paper doesn’t have coupon inserts in it; many ‘holiday’ papers, the Sunday before a major holiday like Christmas, do not have coupons in them.  Since coupons are not in every weekly paper these previews help me determine if I should purchase a paper, multiple papers, or none at all.  For example, if there is a coupon that I know I will use and I can justify buying multiple papers to get multiple of that coupon, I will go buy my papers early on Sunday mornings, as they are nearly all sold out by late afternoon.  Additionally, if there are ‘good’ coupons or several inserts in that weeks’ paper, others will buy multiple papers and thus, are gone earlier in the day.  If you don’t have access to email, you can just go get a paper, look through it and see what coupons are in there, and then determine if you want more papers or not.

The first thing I do is clean out the coupons I currently have, throwing away any that have expired or will before my next shopping trip.  Next, I get the inserts out of the paper, and start clipping!  I clip coupons for products that we use and also products that we would be willing to try.  Just think ‘if this were free or very cheap, would I purchase it?’  If so, clip it!  Next, I sort my coupons into groups, according to my accordion folder that I keep my coupons in.  Depending on your needs you can break these up however you want.  Examples of my categories are: Medicine, Paper Products, Personal Care, Household, Freezer, Fridge, Breakfast, Baking, etc.  The folder I use was purchased for around $4 at Wal-Mart, and has several compartments, and fits nicely into my purse.  I also keep some paper clips in this folder, to help me sort coupons and stay organized during my trip.

Don’t forget about e-coupons!  These load directly to your store shopper’s card and will be deducted at the register.  I print out a list of the coupons I added  and factor those in to my list and calculations.  These coupons probably won’t double and now the stores have gotten smart and the register will not allow the use of a paper coupon and an e-coupon on one item.  I got a lot of free or very cheap stuff this way before the policy was changed. 

The next thing I do is go through the paper and set aside the sale flyers for the stores that I purchase items at.  My list usually consists of Kroger, Food City, Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, CVS, and Walgreens.  Not every store has a flyer every week, and stores like K-Mart aren’t that close to me, but if a deal is good enough, I may go to that store.  Some stores double coupons, but the only one from the above list is Kroger; they double your paper coupons with a face value of up to $.50.  The other stores all accept coupons, but do not double them as their regular coupon policy. 

This is where the couponing gets time consuming.  With my list of items that I want or need that has been compiled, along with my trusty notebook, and my sale ads, I make a list for each store.  I look at the sale ad and if there is an item on sale that I also need, I write down the item, the sale price, and if I have a coupon for that item, I also write the value of the coupon, and show the final price for the item.  This helps me stay on budget, and is very helpful when trying to keep within my budget at the store.  As I go through the lists, I determine who has the best deal, so I don’t have to keep referencing multiple sale ads.  I may end up re-writing out my final shopping list, once I have compared all the store prices.  I also keep a stack of the coupons I anticipate using, and have them paper clipped together, in the front pocket of my folder, which is reserved solely for this purpose.

 

I also will look for items that we use that may be on sale and worth spending budget money to purchase.   Non-perishables and non-grocery items are good to stock up on, such as breakfast bars or toothpaste, since they don’t expire for a long time.  This also keeps me from buying out of necessity.  My bathroom closet currently has 5+ tubes of toothpaste, 2 new toothbrushes, about 10 bars of soap, a few bottles of body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.  I also keep staples like laundry detergent, dryer sheets, bleach, trash bags, and dish soap stocked up, so I’m not running to the nearest place to purchase these, usually at a much higher price. 

Once I have decided what stores are worth visiting and purchasing items, I determine whether I can make one loop and get all the items I want, or if I will have to stop to drop off refrigerated or frozen items at home, between stores.  With my plan of attack and my budget figured out, I head out on my trip.  I take my store sale ad, notebook, list of e-coupons, my final shopping list, and of course my coupons!  If you have a small calculator, this can also be very helpful.  I find that between trying to do ‘coupon math’ and ‘budget math’ I need to keep a running tally of what I have in my cart so far, to ensure that I don’t blow my budget at the register.  I also plan on being there at least an hour, because the couponing process can be tedious.  Weighing options on what to buy to stay in your budget, how much to buy of a particular item and making sure you get everything you needed, all take time.  There are also always going to be items that are on sale at the store that didn’t make the sale ad.  This is why you need to take all of your coupons with you, even if you don’t think you will use them.  I learned this the hard way when I saw an awesome deal on an item, but had left my coupons at home. 

Hope these tips and tricks help you save your hard earned dollars!

Why I went on a diet in the first place. . .

7 Jun

I have no idea when my food addiction really started but I blame my father 100%.  The man ate fudge, Oreo’s, and chocolate Zingers for breakfast.  Seriously.  And because I am his child, I’m a bit the same way with the sweets.  I remember anytime Mama would make fudge or brownies, or anything chocolate, he’d be in it and take some for breakfast on the road.  He also rarely actually sat down to eat a meal.  And anything on his plate was consumed in record time, much to the chagrin of my mother.  My father was never over weight though, and neither was my mother.  Come to think about it, no one in my family really was or is.  Which made me feel extremely self conscious to be the most over weight at any given family function.   

I recently went on a very strict diet which entails 4 Phases that are supposed to be adhered to very stringently.  I had done Weight Watchers before but struggled with it and I think the reason was that it was broken down into weeks, so if you screwed up Monday, you might as well just give up and start over again next week.  Too many of those, and not only have you not lost, but you’ve gained and are now thoroughly frustrated and depressed.  Since my now husband and I met over 8 years ago, I had gained nearly 40 lbs.  Being barely over 5 feet tall, the weight began really getting to me.  I woke up with body aches and came home from work with them too, to the point that most evenings were spent with a heating pad behind my back.  I also had sunk to a place of depression that had totally altered my personality and I was just angry and surly 24/7.  My sweet husband noticed but was wise to not point out how drastically I had changed.  But I knew I had and really hated myself.  So when I heard about a diet some women that worked with my husband were doing, and actually saw the results that one lady had, I figured it was worth a try.  I’m so glad I tried it, now 18 lbs down from where I started.  But I really wanted to figure out why I had to even do it in the first place-why did I let myself gain so much, in such a short amount of time?  Forty-eight days later I really can’t sum that up well but I do know that I eat out of boredom and stress.  I did really well for about 41 days and somewhere in the last week I thought it was a good idea to ‘try’ some chocolate, seeing how I had slayed my food addiction dragon and all.  Ha!  That idea?  Not my finest moment. 

I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago and I thought I would put a good coupon to good use and buy these two Wonka Exceptional bars, and they would be my ‘test’ bars.  Basically a test of my will, to NOT eat them.  I’m a glutton for punishment I think.  They had toffee, cookie pieces, and peanuts in them and they looked fabolous.  So I buy them and hide them from the Husband so he won’t know that I got them.  If he knows, he’ll hide them from me so I won’t be tempted, and I wanted to do this on my own.  To show me, and him, how strong I am now.  LOL  In retrospect, this is truly funny and a very crazy idea!  I had done so welll!  I had gone 40 days with very limited ‘cheating’ and it would only be a bite of something, and that was like 3 different times.  Not bad at all.  Then after 40 days, comes 3 days of no “help” ( drops which help detox you but also help with hunger) and you stay on the low cal diet.  I figured they would be hard, but not so bad.  So I think ‘if I can do 40 of hard core restriction, I can do 3 weeks of less restrictive, no problem!!!’  I’m confident, feel strong, and empowered.  I’ve conquered the dragon people!  This stuff is like magic or something!  On the 40th night, I eat a bite of cookie cake and it’s disgusting; the cookie was under done and the icing tasted like lard with some powdered sugar.  Wow.  Seriously-this is amazing.  So the next day I visit a friend and she tells me about these Skinny Cow candies, which I had seen advertised and I love their products and had wanted to try.  Well, she gave me a packet of the pecan clusters and one of the crispy candy bars, to try later when I’m in the next Phase of my diet.  So I thank her and take them and put them up, for another day.  And then I get to thinking ‘Hey Self, you have done extraordinarily well and you deserve a break today, go ahead and try one, it won’t undo the 18+ lbs you’ve lost!’  So I open the clusters, they are tiny so that just helps futher the decision to have one, and put it in my mouth and WOW.  Amazing.  Yummy.  OMG.  And I proceed to eat the rest of them in the packet.  Just four more, but still.  And I feel so guilty.  But not that guilty because the next day, I eat the crispy bar and it’s equally scrumptious.  And that leads me to eating some of my ‘test’ bar.  It’s so freaking yummy.  Oh my.  And I proceed to eat the entire thing, over 2 days, even once putting the bar in the trash so that I won’t eat the rest because I have realized that I have awakened the dragon and she happens to LURVE chocolate, and these bars specifically.  I have a stressful evening and in my infinite wisdom, I get the bar out of the trash and continue to eat it until it’s all gone.  (Let me interject here and just say that this was the trash can at my house, on my side of the bed, which had just been emptied, with nothing but crumpled up tissue paper on top of it to conceal it from the Husband.  Don’t judge me.)  Then on the third day, I eat two chocolate frosted Krispy Kremes, two Reese’s Cups, two mini Snickers, one pack of peanut butter crackers, one 90 cal chocolate breakfast bar, have a beer, toppings off one half of a large pizza, AND in another bout of infinite wisdom I decide to just eat the ENTIRE second ‘test’ bar, just so I won’t have to obsess about it tomorrow, and just do all my dirty deeds in one day.  And I have ‘cheated’ every day for the past week.  So you see, the dragon has not been conquered.  She is however, currently in a diabetic coma and I’m hoping she stays that way until I can detox from the sugar.  Again.

The story behind the ‘Cookie Licker’ subtitle

24 May

My subtitle “Confessions of a Cookie Licker” has, like everything else in my life, a story.  I’m known by all to be long winded and this story is no exception.  I come by my story telling honestly, as my Dad was one of the best story tellers ever.  Let me preface this story with saying that I was on my 40 day fast and can’t be held responsible for my actions during that dark time in my life.

Here’s what happened:

My husband had a death in the family and he was really sad and the man LOVES chocolate chip cookies, don’t even have to be fancy, and homemade or slice and bake, he loves them either way.  I didn’t have all the ingredients at home to make homemade cookies and truly didn’t want to, so I bought some awesome chocolate chunk cookies that you break and bake.  That night I baked them for him, and our baking stone that we love broke and we are getting it replaced (what a pain in the butt by the way!  Pampered Chef baking stones rock but it was really annoying to get through the process of having it approved for replacement with no cost to me) so I had to use this old junky cookie sheet and I prayed that they would come out okay.  I’m also dealing with an old, junky oven, so baking is a tad bit hard since I don’t think it’s calibrated correctly and burns a little hot.  So, I bake them and they. Smell. So. Good. OMG  I let them cool, and Husband isn’t home yet so I put them in a container for him so they won’t dry out.  And I’m having to be careful to not lick my fingers.  While I was placing them on the cookie sheet, little chocolate chunks would fall off and I wanted to eat them so badly, but resisted.  So I get them in the box, and I just stood there, smelling the box so hard I swear I could have inhaled a crumb or two!  And I think you see where this is heading.  The chocolate was all melty, but not runny, and they were perfection.  I pick one up, to just smell it better and for some crazy reason, I lick the bottom, the underside, of one.  That’s not cheating, right?  No calories consumed, I’m good.  Well, it was anti-climatic, didn’t taste like anything, so I put it back in the container.  I didn’t think that was weird, he’s my husband after all and it’s not like I got it all soggy with my tongue or anything.  So  a day or two later I’m telling two friends at work about the cookie licking and they laughed their butts off, at how crazy I am and how gross they thought that was.  So that night I tell Husband, “I have a confession to make.”  And he’s all engrossed in something on TV and barely even looks my way and I proceed, “You know the other night when I baked you those cookies?” 

“Yea.”

“Well they smelled so good, I had to just stand there and smell them, like HARD.  And for some reason, I have no idea why, I picked one up, and I licked it.  The bottom I mean.” 

That gets his attention.  He looks over at me and starts cracking up!  And says “Wow.  Why does that not surprise me?” 

“I also put that one back in the container, which you later ate out of.  Is that gross?” 

He shrugs.  “No, I mean. . .” 

“Exactly!  We’re married, it’s not weird!  Exactly!” 

And he is still laughing. 

And I say “But you know what?  “I should have licked the TOP of it, I think that part is what tastes better.  Because the bottom tasted like the counter top.  Well what I imagine a counter top tastes like anyway, if you licked it.”