Weekly Grocery Bill


Not too bad, but not as great as I would like.  I even went to two stores after checking ads and comparing prices!  I’ll keep trying…

Layered Taco Pie

This meal takes less than 30 minutes to make and is mostly cooked using the microwave!  I was skeptical as first, but it is really good!  I think a great addition would be black beans, but I didn’t think of it until after it was assembled.


Layered Taco Pie  (adapted from Kraft Foods magazine)


1 pound ground beef

1 package taco seasoning mix

1/2 cup water

3-4 flour tortillas, cut into quarters

2 cups salsa

2 cups shredded Mexican cheese


shredded lettuce

sliced green onions

sour cream


Cook ground beef.  Drain fat.  Stir in taco seasoning and water. Simmer for a minute to thicken.

Lay 4 quarters of tortilla in the bottom of a round baking dish or pie plate, overlapping is fine.  Spread 1/2 the meat over, then a 1/3 of the salsa , and a 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat with another layer of tortillas, meat, etc..Then with the last set of tortillas, top with just salsa and cheese.

Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes, or until hot and cheese is melted.

Garnish with sliced green onions, lettuce, and/or sour cream.


Em’s Mac n’ Cheese

This is a really yummy and simple mac n’ cheese recipe that I’ve made time and time again.  It makes a ton (8 large servings), so cut in half unless you’re feeding an army or plan to eat leftovers for awhile.  In the future, I’ll probably omit the breadcrumbs because I’m not crazy about the texture they add, but its good either way.  If you are debating making the Essence – Do It!  Its worth the extra effort.  Its really good and I put it on/in all kinds of stuff like rice, popcorn, chili, fried chicken breading, etc…Enjoy!

Source:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/ems-mac-n-cheese-recipe/index.html

Em’s Mac n’ Cheese


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk (I used skim)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)  (Combo of cheddar and brie is delicious)
  • 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Super Bowl Sunday

At the last minute we decided to go watch the Super Bowl at my Brother and Sister-In-Law’s house….an hour and a half away!  So, I had to change around my food line up a little bit.  I was planning on staying home, just the hubs and me, grazing on a few things like taco dip, wings, hummus, and lemon bars/cookies. That pretty much went out the window.

Since it was last minute for the in-laws too (and they have 3 small kids), they didn’t really have any party food on hand to feed all of us. Therefore, I decided to pack up what ingredients I could, use their oven when we got there and prepare some food for everyone.

We ended up having:  hummus that I made at home on Saturday, layered buffalo chicken dip that I assembled at home and baked in their oven, and wings that I had marinating in the cooler on the drive up and cooked upon arrival.  My brother-in-law baked some cream cheese wontons and coconut shrimp as well.

Hummus (adapted from Good Things Catered)

one 12-oz can chick peas
1-2 large cloves garlic
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 heaping Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt

Optional- pinch of cumin and pinch of paprika


-Drain water from the can of chick peas into a small bowl and reserve.
-In a food processor, mix together the chick peas with the remaining ingredients, being careful to add second half of lemon juice and tahini slowly, stopping to taste.
-Slowly add some of the reserved liquid from beans for correct consistency, (about 1-2 minutes) until a smooth, slightly fluid paste is formed.
-Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.











Sweet-Spicy Chicken Wings

(recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

These were excellent!  It was my first time making wings and these were delicious!  They definitely have an zingy Asian flavor! Even with the Sriracha hot sauce, they were pretty mild.  Our 7 year old nephew loved them and they were not too spicy for him. I wish I took a picture, but I just didn’t have a chance. There is a video on Martha’s website though (linked above). 

The dipping sauce is totally optional in my opinion.  I don’t think any of us touched it.  Maybe I did something wrong, but it just didn’t look appitizing.


  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (I used 1 tablespoon orange juice)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Sriracha hot-chile sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted-sesame oil
  • 4 1/2 pounds chicken wing drumettes, patted dry with paper towels (35 to 45 wings) (I used 4 pounds)
  • FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE (definitely not necessary!)
  • 2 teaspoons safflower oil  (I used sesame oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish
  • Sliced scallions (I didn’t have any, so I just used sesame seeds)
  • Sesame seeds


  1. Rinse and dry wings and place in large Ziploc bag and set aside.
  2. Whisk hoisin, orange zest/juice, ginger, garlic, hot sauce, honey, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Refrigerate 1/2 cup marinade. Add wings to remaining marinade, and toss to coat. Cover, and refrigerate, tossing wings occasionally, for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let wings stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet (I needed 2 sheets), and bake for 20 minutes, rotating sheet and brushing with half of reserved marinade halfway through. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake wings, brushing with remaining marinade, until golden brown, about 30 minutes more.
  4. Make the dipping sauce: Heat safflower oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add orange juice, honey, hoisin, and salt, and cook for 2 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Arrange wings on platter, sprinkle with scallions or sesame seeds, and serve with sauce.

Layered Buffalo Chicken Dip

There is another recipe similar to this one out there that has become hugely popular.  It has been nicknamed ‘crack dip’ but I like this one better.  🙂  I think it looks a little nicer for presentation.  I doubled it for our Super Bowl Party and used a pie plate dish.


1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened

1 (10 oz) can of chicken, drained of all liquid (you can use a cooked and shredded chicken breast or 2 if you are against canned meat, but really the can is so much faster/easier) 

1/2 cup buffalo hot sauce sauce

1/2 cup ranch dressing (or blue cheese dressing)

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a blend of cheddar and jack)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread cream cheese in the bottom of an oven safe dish.  Place shredded chicken over cream cheese.  Pour buffalo sauce and dressing over chicken.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted on top.

Serve with crackers, chips, and celery sticks.  Enjoy!

before baking

before baking

Weekly Grocery Bill

Yikes!  It is the second week of posting my grocery bill total and I’m right back to where I didn’t want to be!  I spent $81.00!!!!!! Ouch!

In my defense, I purchased several items for my Super Bowl spread that I normally wouldn’t buy.  But, this isn’t about excuses.  I know I’ll have some weeks higher than others.  I’ll just have to be way more frugal on the weeks that there are no special occasions.

Pantry Staples

What ingredients do you keep on hand in your kitchen?  This question is asked a lot on the cooking message board that I frequent.  So, I thought I would go ahead and leave my list here for people to reference.

Freezer staples:

boneless skinless chicken breasts

ground beef

hot and sweet Italian, kielbasa, and breakfast sausage

bacon (separated into bundles of 4 pieces)

veggies (stir-fry mix, corn, green beans, peas, broccoli, etc…)

fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mixed berries)

juice concentrates (lemonade, orange juice, limeade)

whipped topping

homemade waffles

pizza dough


skim milk



sour cream

fresh produce (lettuce, carrots, celery, bell peppers, apples, citrus fruits, etc…)

coffee and creamer

lots of cheese, assorted kinds

cream cheese


crescent rolls

olives, pickles

ketchup, mayo, mustards, worcestershire, hot sauce, soy sauce, salad dressing, jam/jelly, other condiments


beer and soda


dry pasta, multiple shapes and sizes






corn meal




canned and dry beans

canned tomato products (paste, sauce, diced, etc…)

chicken, beef, and veggie broth/stock


canned fruits and veggies



cans of olives, mushrooms, green chilies

cream of ____ soups

bottles of juice (cranberry, pineapple, tomato…)

granola bars



peanut butter

hot chocolate mix

vinegars (red & white wine, rice, balsamic, white, apple cider, etc…)

oil (EVOO, canola, vegetable, olive, sesame)

spices (dried basil, Italian seasoning, grilling spices, cloves, allspice, cumin, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, lemon pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and many more)

onion soup mix

ranch dressing mix

taco seasoning

bouillon cubes



all purpose flour

biscuit mix



white sugar, powdered sugar, light brown and dark brown sugar

kosher salt

cocoa powder


corn syrup, molasses, and maple syrup

evaporated and sweetened condensed milk

Pam nonstick spray


baking chips (chocolate, white, etc…)



extracts (vanilla, clear vanilla, orange, almond, lemon, mint, maple, etc…)

baking powder and baking soda

corn starch

cream of tarter

meringue powder

food coloring and decorating sugars/sprinkles

dried cranberries, raisins

nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachio, cashews), sesame and sunflower seeds

brownie mix

corn bread mix


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