Tobins' Tastes: September 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WW Chicken Pot Pie Soup & Honey Cornbread

We had another Pinterest inspired dinner this week; Weightwatchers inspired chicken pot pie soup and my new favorite honey cornbread.

These recipes were so easy and they were both amazing.

Weight Watchers Inspired Chicken Pot Pie Soup (adapted from Pinterest)

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 2 cups water 

  • 4 cups fat free milk

  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped

  • 1/2 medium chopped onion

  • 2 chicken bouillons cubes or packets

  • fresh ground pepper

  • pinch of thyme

  • 10 oz frozen classic mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn)

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed small

  • 16 oz cooked chicken breast, diced small

    1. Create a slurry by combining 1/2 cup of the cold water with flour in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside for later.
    2. Pour remaining water and milk into a large pot and slowly bring to a boil.
    3. Add celery, onion, chicken bullion cubes, thyme, fresh pepper, frozen vegetables and return to a boil.
    4.  Partially cover and simmer on low until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
    5. Remove lid, add potatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
    6. Add chicken, and slowly whisk in slurry, stirring well as you add.
    7. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until soup thickens, adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve. If soup is not thickening up you can add a little corn starch and it should thicken right up.
    Unbelievable Honey Cornbread a'la Pinterest

    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup butter, softened
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1 1/3 cups milk
    • 2 1/3 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 cup corn meal
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Cream sugar and butter.
    3. Add in eggs, honey and milk and mix well.
    4. Mix together flour, baking powder, corn meal and salt.
    5. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients carefully. Do not overmix. Batter will be lumpy.
    6. The original recipe said to bake this in an 11x13 pan but I have found that this does not bake evenly and the middle always ended up undercooked. I now make an 8x8 pan of the cornbread and then make 12 muffins with the rest of the batter. I freeze these for us to heat up on nights when we have soup and I don't feel like making anything to go with it.
    7. Bake until golden brown, time will vary depending on what size/type of pan you use to bake it in.

    Couponing 101: Part 3- Planning Your Shopping Trips

    Now that you know about sale cycles and where to find coupons, you can put them together and plan a couponing shopping trip.

    All you need to do is check out the weekly sales at your store of choice and then match up the available coupons to each item you plan to purchase.

    The weekly ads can be found on the store's website, in the Sunday paper and on couponing websites. I will be posting links to sale cycle and coupon match ups from Publix, Target and Walmart when I can.

    The first thing I do when I plan a trip is I make my list online. The links I post allow you to create a printable shopping list with coupon match ups. I usually look through the printable list and delete any coupon match ups that I know I don't have or won't use. I then link off my list to print out any printable coupons that I need for the items. Once I do that, I take my list and go through my coupon binder (more on that later) and pull and organize all the coupons I need for the sale items.

    The links I post only contain advertised sales so I also manually add my regular items (ie:eggs, milk, bread) onto my printable list as well. I then go through my binder and see if I have coupons for those items anyways. I also take my binder with me on my shopping trips in case I see a great unadvertised deal or find an in store coupon I can stack with a manufacturer coupon. Target always has amazing, unadvertised clearance sales on everything from shampoo to toothpaste to napkins. Having my binder with me makes sure that I don't miss a deal or feel like I should drive back to the store to take advantage of a sale.

    Coming Up: Couponing 101: Part 4- Organizing Your Coupons

    More Websites for Printable Coupons

    In addition to and, there are a few other websites that regularly have great printable coupons. These websites are usually updated at the beginning of each month. All the coupons are manufacturer coupons and tend to be good for about a month. Here are some of them:

    Campbell's Kitchen
    Betty Crocker

    You can print each coupon twice per printer. Many of these websites will limit the number of each coupon they will issue so you want to print them towards the beginning of the month so they don't disappear.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Printable Coupons

    Don't forget to check and on a regular basis. They have added a few new coupons in the last few days. There are a few good brand names like Pepsi, Tostitos, Propel and Johnson & Johnson.

    These are good websites to check every few days or at least before you plan a shopping trip.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Easy Homemade Parmesan Knots

    The perfect addition to Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells are homemade garlic Parmesan knots. These are also adapted from Pinterest and are super easy to make. I am not 100% sure but they have to be at least a little bit healthier than the ones you get at a pizza place.

    • One tube (12oz) refrigerated biscuit dough (I have also used refrigerated breadstick dough)
    • 1/4 olive or canola oil
    • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings (I use the ones that come in a grinder, see above)
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1. Roll each biscuit into a rope of dough and tie into a knot; tuck the ends of the knot under. 
    2. Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.

    3. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes
    4. Combine remaining ingredients. Brush on warm knots when they come out of the oven.

    5. Sometimes I bake them for a minute or so more after brushing them with the oil and seasoning.


    Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

    I have recently been trying to make one "Pinterest Inspired" meal a week. Pinterest is an amazing website that lets you "post" photos of recipes, fashion, home ideas and more on digital pinboards that you can revisit whenever you finally decide to follow through on all your previous ideas.

    Justin and I's current favorite recipe that we have now made a few times is Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells.

    • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
    • 4oz cream cheese (room temp)
    • 15oz part skim Ricotta cheese
    • 1 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese (I also use a little grated Parmesan for topping)
    • 3 tablespoons pesto (I use store bought)
    • 2 cups shredded chicken
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup pasta sauce (any flavor/variety you like best)
    1. Boil pasta shells until al dente. They will cook the rest of the way in the oven.
    2. Combine the cream cheese, Ricotta, shredded cheese, pesto and a little salt and pepper. Mix well. and then stir in the shredded chicken.
    3. Layer the bottom of a 9x13 pan with tin foil and then spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom to keep shells from sticking.

      4. Fill pasta shells with cheese and chicken mixture and lay them in the pan. Top with grated Parmesan.
      5. Justin likes to top some of the shells with additional sauce.
      6. Bake at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes or until the shells are bubbling hot and starting to brown a little on the top.
    These go really well with my "pinterest inspired" homemade garlic knots and a big salad. Perfect dinner!

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Couponing 101: Part 2- Where to Find Coupons (Post 2 of 2)

    While manufacturer coupons are much more readily available and accepted everywhere, the real deals come when you can stack a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon.

    A store coupon refers to a coupon issued by a specific store such as Publix, Target or CVS. Store coupons can be found in a variety of places.

    The first place to check for store coupons is in the store itself. For example, in the front of every Publix there is a round display rack. This always contains the current Green and Yellow Advantage Fliers (more on those in a later post) as well as any promotional coupon booklets being offered at the time. Right now Publix has a new store coupon booklet called “One Stop, One Store”. It contains lots of high value store coupons that can be combined with manufacturer coupons for great deals.

    The second place to find store coupons is on that store’s website. has tons of printable coupons, most of which are store coupons that can be stacked with manufacturer coupons.

    The third and less common place to find store coupons is in home mailers and newspaper inserts. Occasionally, Publix and Target will send out home mailers with store coupons. These mailings seem to be random in who they are sent to and there does not appear to be a way to sign up for them. Lucky you if you get them : ) Every now and then, there will also be an insert or a page in an insert in the Sunday paper that contains coupons that are store specific.  

    Many of the sale cycle links I will be posting will include both the available store and manufacturer coupons available for an item so you can be on the look out for ways to get the cheapest price possible.

    Coming Up: Combining Sale Cycles With Your Coupons

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Couponing In Action

    Here is a real life example of using couponing to save on things I really did need to buy.  I am congested so I was planning on going to the store to buy medicine anyways today and then I saw this deal in the CVS flyer.

    Vicks products were on sale 2 for $12 with your CVS ExtraCare Card (which is free to sign up for). The 24 counts are normally $9 so this was already a good deal. On top of that you get $3 Extra Care Bucks (EBC’s) to use on your next purchase. I also had a coupon for $3 off any 2 Vicks products.

    I bought the 2 boxes of Vicks Sinex, used my coupon, got $3 ECS’s and spent $9 out of pocket total.

    Then I bought the Axe Body Wash for $5.79 each, used a Buy One, Get One Free Axe Body Wash coupon (from a previous SmartSource insert), used a $1.50 off  any Axe product CVS store coupon, and used my $3 ECB’s. This means I only paid $2.11 out of pocket for around $12 worth of body wash.

    In total I spent $11.11 for $29.55 worth of stuff.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Couponing 101: Part 2- Where to Find Coupons (Post 1 of 2)

    The first thing people ask me when they see me with my coupon binder at the store is “where do you get all your coupons?”. What surprises people most is that a large percentage of them don’t come from the Sunday newspaper.

    You can find manufacturer coupons in many different places:
    1. Newspaper inserts on Sundays
    2. Printable coupon websites
    3. Manufacture’s Websites
    4. Facebook
    #1) Newspaper Inserts: The Sunday paper is where most people start their search for coupons. Some weekends are better than others so before you run out and buy ten copies of the paper you should always check and see what will be featured that weekend. Check out my post on Newspaper Inserts for more details.
    #2) Printable Coupon Websites: There are a few main coupon websites that each have a wide variety of printable coupons available each day. They are:

    Many times their selections change daily so if you see a coupon for something you normally buy you should print it. If you wait, it may not be available later. These websites will allow you to print each coupon twice per printer. I always try to print both copies especially since I do most of my savings with BOGO’s and Publix will allow you to use a coupon for each of the items in buy one get one free.

    #3 & #4) Facebook and Manufacturer’s Websites: This is where you can get really high value coupons for products that you buy on a regular basis.
    Many companies have great coupons available only to people who “like” their product on Facebook. For example: yesterday Wholly Guacamole had a $2 off coupon for their Facebook friends which in most stores makes the product under a dollar.

    Manufacturer websites also can have lots of fun coupons or even reward programs that can earn you coupons. If there are products you buy on a regular basis, you should definitely check out their website and see what they offer.

    Coming Up: Where to find store coupons

    Did You Know: There Are Two Different Kinds Of Coupons

    All coupons fall into one of two categories; manufacturer or store coupon.

    Manufacturer Coupons:  Produced by the product manufacturer and can be used anywhere the product is sold. Can be found in the newspaper, online and on/in the product itself.

    Store Coupons: Produced and distributed by a certain store (ie: Publix, Target, CVS) and can only be redeemed at that specific store. Can be found in store circulars, store fliers and store websites.

    Best part of this: Most stores will let you "stack" a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon. If you can pair that with a good sale, you can usually get that product for a really great price.

    Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dessert Dip

    Yesterday I hosted my sister's Stella & Dot jewelry launch party. It was a great time and I used it as an opportunity to try out a few new recipes from Pinterest.

     One recipe that multiple people asked for was the Carmel Apple Cheesecake Dessert Dip. It is delicious and super easy.

    Carmel Apple Cheesecake Dessert Dip  (adapted from Pinterest)
    • 8oz of cream cheese
    • 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
    • Caramel Sauce ( I just used whatever brand was on sale)
    • mini chocolate chips
    • Health Bar toffee bits (or any brand you can find)
    • Granny Smith apple slices (I buy them presliced to make my life easier)
    1. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
    2. Spread mixture on a serving place in a circle.
    3. Top with caramel sauce-  I just drizzled it on so it wouldn't be too intense
    4. Sprinkle on mini chocolate chips and toffee bits
    5. I chilled it in the fridge for an hour or so
    6. Surround dip with apple slices and serve : )

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Couponing 101: Part 1- Learning Sale Cycles

    Something I did before I ever started couponing was to learn the sale cycles at stores that I shop at, mainly Publix. If you pay close attention to sales, you will see that most things go on sale in a 6 week cycle.

    For example: Goldfish at Publix are normally priced around $2.75 a bag. Occasionally, they will go on sale 2 for $3, but if you wait long enough Goldfish go on sale 10 for $10 (which at Publix means you can buy however many you want for $1 each bag). I also try to use coupons for each bag too. Many times Goldfish will have a “peelie” on them for .35 cents off making it .65 cents a bag. You can also find printable coupons for them as well.

    If you buy them on sale this way you are getting each bag for $1.75 to $2.10 cheaper than you would normally pay. Since Goldfish usually don’t expire for a few months you can stock up when they are on sale and not have to buy them again till they go on sale again.

    Goldfish is just one of many examples of things you can get for way less than you are probably currently paying. It took me awhile to get the hang of waiting until things hit rock bottom. In my first real couponing trip to Target I got all excited about buying my deodorant "on sale" and with a coupon only to find out that it went on more sale the next week. I now know that there are certain prices I should never pay more than for certain items (ie: .50 cent - $1 for name brand toothpaste).

    Many hardcore extreme couponers create and then carry around “rock bottom price” books with the lowest sale prices available on their favorite items at each store that they grocery shop at. I don’t go that far but I do try to watch and learn what rock bottom price is for things so I wait to use my coupons until then.

    Up Next: Where To Get Coupons

    Why I Decided To Start Couponing

    I have always been a bargain shopper. If you know me, you know that my favorite stores are TJMaxx, Home Goods and Loehmanns. Ever since senior year of college when I had to start buying my own groceries, I have tried to shop grocery store sales and attempted to stock up on my favorite items when Publix does a buy one get one free sale (BOGO) or other store promotions. Justin and I even use to have a game to see how much we could save vs. what we spent at Publix each week yet I never really used coupons.

    This year that all changed. In March, we bought our first house. Even though our mortgage payments weren’t much different from what we were use to paying in rent, we realized quickly that it’s really expensive to own your own home. (ie: our air conditioner broke within weeks of moving in) We wanted to cut back on our spending and save a little more but we really didn’t want to cut anything out of our lives (sounds spoiled, I know).

    Then I saw the TLC show “Extreme Couponing”. While I have no desire to buy 100 cans of cat food, the concept really made sense. Why not stock up on things when you can buy them for “free” or way cheaper than normal? So I decided to give couponing a try.

    I started out slow. I basically just started buying the Sunday paper and looking online for printable coupons. Then I started reading blogs and following sale cycles. I started out just couponing at Publix then shortly after I started following the sales at Target and Walmart. In August, I decided to Walgreens and CVS (a whole different type of couponing than other stores, but that is a post for later). Slowly but surely I started to save more and more each shopping trip.

    We use to spend at least $100 a week on groceries. Now I almost never spend more than $50 and that $50 includes way more stuff since I am now adding to my stockpile. One shopping trip a week provides for our breakfasts, most lunches and 4 home cooked dinners as well as extra pantry staples, health and beauty products and house hold items that I get for free or super cheap.

    I use to go to Target or Walmart and end up spending $40 on 5 things when we needed razors, deodorant and body wash. I am now able to get those things for significantly cheaper and stock up on them so that we never have to “run out to the store” and pay full price.

     I am still learning every day but I can’t wait to share what I know and what I continue to learn.
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