Tobins' Tastes: October 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Saved 74% at Publix- Spent $28 for $108 Worth

Well it had been twelve days since we had been to the grocery store but it wasn't until we ran out of Greek yogurt on Monday that I finally forced myself back to the store on Tuesday. After a whirlwind long weekend bouncing from a wedding on the southwest coast to camping with friends in the center of the state and back again, we were ready to fill the fridge and make some homemade meals.

We actually skipped our produce share last week since we knew we wouldn't be home much last week or the whole weekend so it felt weird to grab a little bit of produce after over a month of needing next to nothing in that department.

I had a huge trip planned for yesterday but after leaving a stack of coupons on the counter my trip got cut down quite a bit. Thankfully most of the coupons were for sales in the Advantage Flyers not the weekly ad so I will be able to still do the deals tomorrow when I go for my normal weekly Thursday shopping trip.

I used two $5/$30 Winn Dixie coupons and had a $25 gift card from a blog promotion so even though yesterday's trip cost about $28 I actually spent less than $3 of our grocery cash.

New to couponing? Check out the first post in my newest series- Couponing 101: Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Couponing. And be sure to enter to win a $25 Publix gift card while you are here too!

Breakdown of yesterday's Publix trip:
Total retail value: $107.81
Total spent: $27.88 (before $25 gc)
Total saved: $79.99
Percent saved: 74%

What I got with sale/coupon match ups:
  • 1 Dove Shampoo & 1 Dove Conditioner, retails for $3.79 each on sale for $2.99 each plus 2 Dove Styling Products for $4.79 each
    • Used a coupon for free conditioner WYB a shampoo from the 10/27 SS (minus $2.99)
    • Used two Publix coupons for FREE Dove Styling Produce WYB a shampoo or conditioner from the in store Publix Ad Flyer (minus $9.58)
    • Used two $1.50 off man. coupons from the 9/29 RP (applied to the styling products)
    • Earn a $1 ibotta deposit for the shampoo and a $1 ibotta deposit for the conditioner
    • Made all four products FREE plus a $2 MONEYMAKER
  •  2 Right Guard Deodorants, retails for $3.83 each
    • Used two $1.50 off coupons from the 10/6 RP
    • Stacked with two $1.50 off Publix coupons from the Green Ad. Flyer
    • Made them .83 cents each
  •  2 Lindt Chocolate Bars, retails for $2.59 each
  • 1 half gallon Silk Almond Milk, retails for $3.35
    • Used a $1 off printable coupon
    • Stacked with a .75 cents off Publix Ad. Flyer coupon
    • Made it $1.59
  • 2 Marzetti Dressings, retails for $3.69 each, on sale BOGO ( $1.84 each)
  •  2 Dannon Okios Greek Yogurt Dips, retails for $3.00 each, on sale for $2.50 each
  •  2 boxes of Mott's Fruit Snacks, retails for $3.09 each on sale BOGO ($1.54 each)
  •  1 half gallon of Almond Breeze Almond Milk, retails for $3.35, on sale for $2.50
    • Used a .55 cents off blinkie coupon
    • Made it $1.95
  • 1 box of Lance Xtra Fulls Crackers, retails for $3.09 each, on sale for $2.34
    • Used a $1 off Publix digital coupon
    • Made them $1.34 for the package
  •  2 boxes of Duncan Hines brownie mix, retails for $2.19 each
  •  4 Fage Greek Yogurts, retails for $1.39 each, on sale for $1 each
  •  5 Yoplait Greek Yogurts, retails for $1.25 each, on sale for $1 each
  • 2 boxes of Nabisco Crackers, retails for $3.69 each, on sale for $2.50 each
    • Used a $1/2 coupon from Facebook
    • Made them $2.00 each
  • 2 Haas Avocados, retails for $3.38 total, on sale for $2.00 total
  •  2 bags of Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips, retails for $2.89 each, on sale for $2.50 each
    • Used a $1.50/2 coupon from the 9/8 SS
    • Made them $1.75 a bag
  •  1 Frozen El Paso Dinner, retails for $7.99, on sale for $5.99
    • Used a Free product coupon from My Blog Spark
    • Made it FREE
  •  1 tub of Fresh Attitudes Salad, retails for $3.09, on sale for $2.50
  • Fuji apples, retails for $2.64, on sale for $1.63

Thursday, October 24, 2013

30 Spooktacular Halloween Desserts

So apparently Halloween is right around the corner. Not that I have had time to notice it. Between two weddings in six days, an impromptu camping trip (more on that later I am sure), bridal showers, family events, Notre Dame football, and general end of the first quarter teacher craziness October has been a blur for me.

I have gotten my Halloween decorations out of storage but I have yet to put them out. I haven't even thought of buying candy yet and every time I see a pumpkin in a store I keep telling myself we have plenty of time to carve one. Needless to say, Halloween desserts haven't really been happening in our house lately. And that's ok. Because I am already ahead on Thanksgiving and yes, even Christmas, baking.

But since I don't want to leave Halloween out of the online holiday celebrations, I have a round up of some amazing Halloween themed desserts just in time for you to make for your parties next week.

Many of these photos are not mine but I have rounded them up for you to enjoy. If you want to pin an individual recipe or specific photo please click through to the original post and share from there. If you want to pin this post and the entire collection just pin the collage above!

Still not enough for you? Check out my Trick or Treat Pinterest Board for tons of Halloween recipes!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Running Out? Run In. Publix Rebate & $25 Publix Gift Card Giveaway

 Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.


Have you been to Publix lately? If you have, you have probably noticed the in store display for the current Running Out, Run In promo. From October 9th through October 25th Publix is hosting the "Running Out? Run IN!" event. This is your chance to save on popular brands such as General Mills, Yoplait, Charmin, Crest, Gain, and Procter & Gamble.

If you purchase $30 worth of participating products you qualify for a rebate! Purchases must be made between the 9th and the 25th. By mailing in your receipt you can receive a $10 Publix Gift Card back just for shopping the brands you love. This promotion is limited to one address or household. Not sure what is included? Take a look at the list below before you make your shopping list.

 PARTICIPATING PRODUCTS: Immaculate Baking® Honestly Delicious™; Yoplait® Go-GURT® (8ct, assorted varieties); Gain Laundry Detergent (100oz, assorted varieties); Old El Paso® Dinner Kits (assorted varieties); Totino’s® Party Pizza® (assorted varieties); Dawn® Dish Detergent (20-24oz bottle, assorted varieties); Betty Crocker® Hamburger Helper® (assorted varieties); Suddenly Pasta Salad® (assorted varieties); Charmin® Basic Bathroom Tissue (12 double roll pkg, assorted varieties); Pampers® Diapers (Jumbo, assorted varieties); Green Giant® Canned Vegetables (4pk, assorted varieties); Crest® Toothpaste (8.2oz, assorted varieties); Herbal Essences® (6.0 -11.7oz, assorted varieties) and Vidal Sassoon® Shampoo/Conditioner (12oz, assorted varieties); Tide® Pods (18ct, assorted varieties) 

You can find the rebate in store attached to the Running Out? Run In display or print it online here. 


Have you done your rebate shopping trip yet? I would love for you to share your serario in the comments or share a link to your post if you did one too.

Thanks to General Mills and My Blog Spark, one Couponing & Cooking reader will win a $25 Publix gift card to help you stock up on even more savings! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekly Shopping Totals Link Up: Saved 67% at Publix

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Yesterday's shopping trip is the kind of trip that makes people think that couponers don't have a well rounded diet. If you didn't know me and know that I have a freezer full of meat or pantry/fridge full of stockpile items and fresh items you would probably judge me hard core for my shopping list yesterday. 

Since we still had lots of yogurt and milk from our weekend trip, I just grab some salad to get us through until our produce pick on on Tuesday as well as a few fresh things for dinner tonight and for lunches next week. I was thrilled to grab moneymaking gum and free tablecloths (can you tell I am planning on using them for our Christmas party?). I was also very glad to see a great deal on Extra Virgin Olive Oil since we used our last drop over the weekend. 

I used one $5/$30 Winn Dixie coupon and since Sunday's trip was actually using last week's grocery money I stayed way under budget this week which means I will have cash on hand to pay for Tuesday's organic produce share. 

Breakdown of Thursday's Publix trip:
Total retail value: $64.68
Total spent: $21. 58
Total saved: $43.10
Percent saved: 67%

What I got with sale/coupon match ups:
  • 2 packs of Mentos Gum, retails for $1.49 each, on sale for $1 each
  • 2 disposable tablecloths, retails for $2.99 each
  • 2 jars of Tostitos Salsa, retails for $3.19 each, on sale BOGO made them $1.59 each
  • Head of garlic, .54 cents
  • 2 bottles of Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, retials for $7.59 each, on sale BOGO ($3.79 each)
  • 2 boxes of Nature's Valley Protein Granola Bars, retails for $3.29 each, on sale for $2.50 each
    • Used two $1 off coupons from the 10/6 SS
    • Made them $1.50 a box
  • 2 bottles of Lawry's 30 Minute Marinade, retails for $2.89 each, on sale BOGO ($1.44 each)
  • 2 bags of Crunch Pak Apple Slices, retails for $3.49 each, on sale BOGO made them $1.75 each
  • 1 loaf of Sourdough Bakery Bread, $2.75
  • 2 bags of Fresh Express Salad, retails for $4.09, on sale BOGO made it $2.04 a bag
  • 1 dozen 4 Grain Eggs, retails for $2.79, on sale for $2.00
How did you do this week? Inspire me (and everyone else) with your amazing savings and deals this week. Please link up directly to your specific post. Do not link up to your blog's home page, giveaways, or etsy shops please. You can also "like" Couponing & Cooking on Facebook too! I would love it if you would link back to this post or grab my button from the sidebar : )

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Brownie Cookie Sandwiches

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General for SocialSpark
All opinions are 100% mine.

This time of year is hectic. School is in full swing and first quarter grades are due for us teachers in the next few days, I have multiple friends getting married, getting sworn in, and leaving the country needing goodbye parties (maybe that one is just me?). Which means when it comes to creating Halloween themed desserts my brain is struggling.

That is why I plan to keep it simple this Halloween season. I am simply going to give some of my traditional dessert favorites a spooky and colored scheme appropriate twist. Why reinvent the wheel right? After a trip for Halloween supplies at Dollar General I had all the inspiration I needed to be a little creative in the kitchen.

I had never been to a Dollar General before since there was never really one near me but we just got a huge, shiny new one on my way home from work and I finally was able to stop and explore. You may know that I have a slight holiday themed decor and baking supplies obsession (#foodbloggerproblems) so I went nuts when I saw all the Halloween stuff Dollar General has to offer.

I tried to restrain myself as much as I could but for around $25 I managed to get everything I needed to make these Halloween Brownie Cookie Sandwiches as well as fun plates, napkins, party decor and the obviously much needed excessive amount of special edition seasonally themed candy items. My store had an amazingly well stocked "holiday baking" section and I have to confess that I may or may not have even grabbed some specialty Christmas baking stuff too. Hey, it's never too early!
After seeing these Nestle Halloween Chocolate Chips, I knew that they would be perfect for Halloween-ifying my Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies. Orange chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie? Black and orange at its finest.

This recipe is so easy and it only needs five total ingredients. All you need is a box of brownie mix, two eggs, a little flour, oil and a cup of these spooky chocolate chips. Follow the directions found HERE and just make sure to use the Halloween chocolate chips to top the cookies not the mini chocolate chips from the original.

Have a little extra time? Want to get fancy with your brownie cookies? Use a little whipped topping or canned icing to make brownie cookie sandwiches and roll/sprinkle the edges in Halloween themed sprinkles. You can even go wild and use basic food coloring to tint your filling for a fun holiday treat everyone will love. Even grown men. My husband acted like he was above my cookies and sprinkles and then he proceeded to eat two of the sandwiches in one day.

Looking for more quick and easy Halloween treats? Check out the fun list of desserts from Dollar General which can all be made with ingrediants you have on hand or can pick up in a one stop Halloween shoping trip to your local DG. I have a feeling I will be hording left over candy to make those Butterfinger Popcorn balls soon!

Connect with Dollar General on Facebook and Dollar General on Twitter Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy 2nd Anniversary Say Not Sweet Anne- $300 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

I have a fantastic giveaway for you today in celebration of Say Not Sweet Anne's 2nd Anniversary! I can't think of a better way to celebrate her two years of blogging than by giving away a $300 Amazon Gift Card. I can think of a million things I would use a gift card like this for. How about you? What would you buy if you won?

Make sure to head on over to Say Not Sweet Anne and wish Kayla a happy second anniversary and while you're there be sure to check out all of the amazing projects and tutorials she has especially her HUGE printable planner.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Good luck!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend Publix Trip- Saved 63%


I ended up making this Publix a little sooner than I had planned since I had a ton of baking to do on Sunday and when I woke up early to get started, I found that Justin had left to work with all of my eggs. So I sat down bright and early Sunday morning and got all my coupons together and headed to the store.

One thing I will never do again is attempt to do a couponing trip at the grocery store right after the first mass of the day lets out. What should have been a quick and easy trip took over an hour thanks to a store filled with families in church clothes doing all of their shopping for the week. To make matters worse, I went to the Publix closest to my house that is currently under renovation which apparently means that they are out of everything a Publix would usually keep in stock.

All in all I stocked up on lots of dairy and frozen stuff to complement our fridge full of stuff from our produce share last week and our freezer full of Zaycon chicken which we got delivered on Saturday. I didn't quite hit $60 before coupons so I only used one $5/$30 Winn Dixie coupon but since I had a $25 gift card my budget didn't take too much of a hit out of pocket.

Breakdown of Sunday's Publix trip:
Total retail value: $81.79
Total spent: $30.51 (minus $25 gift card)
Total saved: $51.28
Percent saved: 63%

What I got with sale/coupon match ups:
  •  2 boxes of Butter Pecan Betty Crocker Cake Mix, retails for $1.89 each, on clearance for .94 cents each
  •  2 bottles of VO5 Salon Series Products, retails for $2.29 each, on sale for $1.49 each
  • 2 bags of Cascadian Farms Organic Hashbrowns, retails for $2.99 each
    • Used two .75 cents off coupons from the 9/15 SS
    • Stacked with a $2/2 coupon from the Publix Grocery Ad. Flyer
    • Made them $1.24 a bag
  •  2 half gallons of Silk Almond Milk, retails for $3.35, on sale for $2.50
    • Used two .75 cents off coupons (printed awhile ago, no longer available)
    • Stacked with a $1/2 Publix coupon from the Good Stuff in store booklet
    • Made them $1.25 a half gallon
  •  2 bags of Birdseye Chef's Favorite Frozen Veggies, retails for $2.69, on sale for $1.34 each
    • Used two $1 off coupons from the man. website
    • Made them .34 cents each
  • 2 bags of Amour Meatballs, retails for $4.99 each, on sale for $2.49 each
    • Used a $1/2 coupon from the 8/18 RP
    • Made them $1.99 a bag
  • 2 bags of Ore-Ida Simply Potatoes, retails for $3.85 each 
  •  10 Dannon Greek Yogurts, retails for $1.20 each, on sale for $1.00 each
    • Used two $1/5 Publix coupons from the Grocery Ad. Flyer
    • Used two B1G1 free coupons (zip 33464) minus $2
    • Used a $1/5 man. coupon from an in store tearpad
    • Made them .50 cents each
  •  2 DiGiorno Shredded Parmesan Cheeses, retails for $4.99 each, on sale BOGO made them $2.49 each
  • 3 Voskos Greek Yogurts, retails for $1.25 each
    • Used a $1/3 Publix Grocery Ad. flyer coupon
    • Stacked with a .35/2 coupon from the 8/11 SS
    • Made them .79 cents each
  •  1 tub of Marzetti Caramel Dip, retails for $3.49
    • Used a .60 cents off coupon from the 9/15 SS
    • Made it $2.89
  •  1 dozen Publix eggs, $1.89
  • 2 bags of Kraft Caramels, retails for $2.61 each, on sale BOGO made them $1.30 a bag

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apple Cheddar Soup

I am a really weird eater. Like picky in ways that don't even make sense. I won't eat cooked fish but I love sushi. Love all kinds of duck but hate ham. Bacon freaks me out and I don't think I have ever eaten mayo. Never had a hamburger but I regularly order conch. Weird, right?

My co-workers constantly make fun of me in the teachers' lounge about my lunch time eating habits which is why they are always surprised when I come in with leftovers of non traditional foods. This Apple Cheddar Soup was one of the first things that I ever brought for lunch that caused them to all say, "You won't eat grapes but you like that?"

And yes, I do like that. I love that. It makes me inexplicably happy. What's even better about this not so mainstream soup is that it is Fall in a bowl. I feel like I should wear a sweater and Ugg boots every time I make this for dinner, even when it is actually 85 and raining out.

I personally don't find this combo to be that unusual. Apples and cheese are a traditional appetizer pairing and in the Midwest people are always pairing apple pie and cheddar cheese. This soup is just the dinner time manifestation of those two ingredients.  The sweetness of the apples, the heartiness of the potatoes and then savoriness of the cheddar cheese make for a bowl of pure soup perfection.

Apple Cheddar Soup is one of those recipes that we make all the time because it is so easy but I never have/take the time to photographer it. I have been wanting to share it with you since my very early blogging days of Fall 2011. But be happy I waited until now so that my photos actually look like something you would want to eat : )

We just started getting a bi-weekly organic produce share and this past week's had the most amazingly crisp Ambrosia Apples. I don't really know what the difference is between Ambrosia apples and regular red apples but whatever it is, it is worth it. I usually use granny smith apples when I make this but you can use whatever type of apples makes you happy. If you are looking for a gluten free option you can switch out the flour for cornstarch too.

Apple Cheddar Soup adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium baking potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium apple of your choice peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk (we used low fat)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (or sub in cornstarch for a gluten free option)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, more for topping if you like
1.)  In large a soup pot, saute onion in butter over medium heat until translucent. 

2.) Stir in potatoes, cider, thyme, salt, and cayenne pepper. 

3.) Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. 

4.) Add chopped apple, cover and simmer again for 5 minutes.

5.)  In small bowl combine milk and flour and then stir into soup. Cook and stir until bubbly. Slowly add cheese, whisking until cheese is fully melted.

6.) Pour soup into four bowls and top with a little extra shredded cheese. Serve warm.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekly Shopping Totals Link Up: Saved 63% at Publix

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This week has been crazy. Today's shopping post is actually from last Saturday because that was the last time I made it to the grocery store. I am really hoping to make it to the store this weekend but for now at least we still have our staples of yogurt, almond milk, and veggies.

This week's produce share was full of great fruits and veggies and we have had a fun time trying to cook outside of our comfort zone and use what we get every other week. After some discussion, Justin and I decided that we want to make our bi-weekly share part of our regular grocery budget of $80 a week or $160 every pay day. That is for all grocery and household shopping including toiletries and paper products and while we might be a little tight at first with the $45 every other week for the share.

I think it is way worth it and so I will just have to plan my shopping accordingly and rely on my stockpile in weeks when the budget gets spent too quickly. Luckily we have had some Publix gift cards lately which really helps since I can then save our weekly cash for reserve money when other weeks get tight. We are picking up our forty pound Zaycon chicken order tomorrow so our fridge and freezer and going to be very fresh and full.

Here is what we got this week with our organic produce share:

Bi-color Corn, Cauliflower, Spaghetti Squash, Carrots, Gold Beets, Sweet Baby Broccoli, Tat Soi, Red Bell Peppers, Mixed Baby Greens, Cherry Tomatoes, Ambrosia Apples, Gold Russet Bosc Pears, Kiwiberries & Bananas
Saturday's Publix trip was a pretty standard one. Can you tell by what we got that we had friends over for chicken tacos? I saved about 60% which is always my goal. Justin was with me which made doing two transactions and using two $5/$30 Winn Dixie coupons a lot easier too.

Breakdown of last Saturday's Publix trip:
Total retail value: $116.06
Total spent: $43.53 (gift card)
Total saved: $72.53
Percent saved: 63%

What I got with sale/coupon match ups:
  • I tub of Yucatan Guacamole, retails for $2.99
  • 2 canisters of Wet Ones, retails for $2.69 each, on sale BOGO ($1.34 each)
  • 2 bags of Mars Bites (Snickers & Milky Way), retails for $2.79
  • 2 bottles of All Laundry Detergent, retails for $5.99, on sale BOGO ($2.99 each)
    • Used two $1 off coupons from the 9/29 RP
    • Made them $1.99 each
  • 2 packages of Simple Facewipes, retails for $5.49 each, on sale for $3.84 each
  • 1 package of Mission tortillas, retails for $3.09
    • Used a .55 cents off peelie coupon
    • Made them $2.54
  • 1 half gallon of Silk Almond Milk, retails for $3.35
    • Used a $1 off printable coupon from completing a survey emailed to me by man. 
    • Made it $2.35
  • 2 boxes of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix, retails for $2.77 each, on sale BOGO ($1.38 each)
  • 1 package of Buitoni frozen pasta, retails for $4.19, on sale for $3.50
    • Used a $1 off coupon from the 8/4 SS
    • Stacked with a $1 off Publix coupon from the Italian flyer (expired)
    • Made it $1.50
  • 2 boxes of Wheatthins/Ricethins, retails for $3.19 a box, on sale for $2.50 each
    • Used a $1/2 tearpad coupon
    • Made them $2 a box
  • 5 Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurts, retails for $1.20 each
    • Used a $1/5 in store tearpad coupon
    • Stacked with a $1/5 Target printable coupon (no longer available?)
    • Made them .80 cents each
  • 3 Voskos Greek yogurts, retails for $1.25 each, on sale for $1 each
    • Used a .35/2 coupon from the 8/11 SS
    • Stacked with a $1/3 Publix Green Ad. Flyer coupon
    • Made them .55 cents each
  • 1 half gallon of Smart Balance Milk, retails for $3.79, on sale for $2.50 
  • 3 Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spreads, retails for $2.89 each, on sale for $1.67 each
    • Used a $1/2 peelie coupon
    • Used a .75 cents off Publix digital coupon
    • Made them $1.08 each
  • 2 bottles of Northland Cranberry Juice, retails for $3.99 on sale BOGO ($1.99 each)
  • 2 bags of Kraft Shredded Cheese, retails for $4.19 each, on sale for $2.50 each
    • Had a $1/2 coupon from I can't remember where 
    • Made them $2 each
  • 1 Friendship Sour Cream, retails for $2.35
    • Used a .75 cents off Publix Green Ad. Flyer coupon
    • Used a .55 cents off coupon from the 8/25 SS
    • Made it $1.06
  • Tylenol Sinus, retails for $6.29
  • 3 limes, $1.00
  • Iceberg Lettuce, $2.09
  • Cilantro, $1.19
 How did you do this week? Inspire me (and everyone else) with your amazing savings and deals this week. Please link up directly to your specific post. Do not link up to your blog's home page, giveaways, or etsy shops please. You can also "like" Couponing & Cooking on Facebook too! I would love it if you would link back to this post or grab my button from the sidebar : )

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    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Lean Cuisine Honestly Good Meals

     This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad

    You all know I love to cook, but when Justin is on shift it is really hard for me to force myself to cook a meal for one. As much as I would like to say that I grill myself a piece of chicken and pair it with a salad, that doesn't happen too often. It is way easier to pick something up or snack on junk on nights when it is just me.

    I have really been looking for a quick dinner solution that makes it easy for me to eat healthier while Justin is at work. That is why I was so excited to see that Lean Cuisine has launched a NEW collection of Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals featuring six different varieties full of 100% all natural, wholesome ingredients with a sauce you can add yourself.

    I picked a a few different varieties at Target last week and have been trying them when Justin is on shift. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical at first since I usually find that frozen meals taste like they came from a box.

    These meals went from the freezer to the table in about five minutes each and they smelled amazing while they cooked. My kitchen actually smelled like someone had made dinner from scratch. Each entree comes with a generous side of veggies and a satisfying whole grain like rice or pasta.

    My hands down favorite had to be the Pomegranate Chicken. The sauce was so flavorful and rich and I loved the combo of veggies and rice pilaf that went with it. I actually had to stop in the middle of taking photos and start sampling it. As evidenced by the knife and fork added to the picture : )

    I felt like I actually got to sit down and eat a full meal even though it was just me at home and the act of grabbing something out of the freezer in my pj's was not only healthier but way easier/affordable than picking up take out or making myself pasta.

    With six different choices, it means that I will have lots of options for healthier eating when Justin is at work. Although, I have already had to stop him from trying to take my Honestly Good Meals to work with him for a quick and healthy lunch while he is at the station. Oh well, guess I will have to start hiding the Pomegranate Chicken one in the outside freezer.

    The new Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals are: Honey Citrus Chicken, Lemongrass Salmon, Pineapple Black Pepper Beef, Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish, Pomegranate Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Chicken my Target carried all the flavors last time I was there. Want to feel even better about making a healthier choice? Together with their farmers, Lean Cuisine is donating a portion of the vegetables grown for the Honestly Good meals to local communities. Make good eating choices while doing good? Sounds like a perfect choice to me.

    Monday, October 7, 2013

    Baked Pumpkin Donuts With Pumpkin Spice Ganache {#loveyourcup}

    I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

    Justin's crazy work schedule as a firefighter means that the two of us are always looking for ways to have mini dates whenever we can. One tradition we have started is that when he comes of shift on a weekend morning we sit together downstairs, drink coffee and share breakfast while catching up on each others lives. It has become our little way to connect in the mornings before the craziness of weekend days take over.

    Usually when he gets home, Justin is exhausted so I like to have something ready for him which is why the ease of Nescafe Taster's Choice Coffee is perfect. This past weekend I decided to set my alarm an hour early to make him a special treat to celebrate the beginning of fall and these Baked Pumpkin Donuts with a Pumpkin Spice Ganache were definitely a surprise for him.

    It was so nice to sit together and enjoy a fall flavored cup of coffee and and donuts. We made plans for our October weekends and outlined a menu for our game watch later that night. After a hectic week for both of us, it was exactly what we needed. 

    Not only was our coffee flavored with Pumpkin Spice Coffee-mate but the chocolate ganache on the donuts was too. The Coffee-mate mixed into the heavy cream of the ganache gives it just enough spice without being too intense. The donuts are baked so they are light and fluffy and just sweet enough to be topped with gooey, pumpkiny chocolate.We may or may not have used pieces of donut to wipe the last few drops of ganache out of the mixing bowl as we were cleaning up. Sorry I'm not sorry.

    While the donuts are amazing, the ganache is what really made them. I am having visions of drizzling it over everything known to man and I will clearly be stocking up on the powered Pumpkin Spice Coffee-mate for future use as well. These donuts are best eaten fresh so you can always make just a few for you and a loved one or whip up a whole batch for your next book club or family breakfast. 

    Now all I need are the temperatures in South Florida to catch up to the baking in my kitchen so Justin and I can enjoy our next coffee date outside on the back porch. Oh well, these donuts would be worth drinking coffee in the 85 degree humidity for. But I think I will stick to the AC. At least until November. 

    Baked Pumpkin Donuts adapted from Recipe Girl
    •  2 cups flour 
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
    • 2 eggs 
    • 1/4 cup milk 
    • 4 tablespoons butter, softened 
    1.) Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat together until combined.  
    2.) Using an icing bag or icing gun with a large star tip, fill a greased donut pan with the batter. 
    3.) Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire baking rack. 
    Pumpkin Spice Ganache  
    • 8oz. of semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon of powdered Pumpkin Spice Coffee-mate (not the liquid, it won't work the same)
    1.) Whisk the powdered Coffee-mate into the heavy cream.

    2.) In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips into the cream stirring occasionally.

    3.) Once the chocolate is completely melted, whisk smooth and remove from the heat. 

    4.) Let cool for five minutes and then frost completely cooled donuts. 


    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Goat Cheese & Pesto Stuffed Chicken With Easy Scalloped Skillet Potatoes {#SauteExpress}

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    Do you have a go to favorite dinner recipe? You know, the one the make whenever someone new comes over for dinner; when you really want to wow someone? Or maybe it's what you always whip up when you want to have a nice dinner in? For us that dish is Goat Cheese & Pesto Stuffed Chicken. It's our signature dish; the Tobin Family specialty if you will. 

    Only problem with this meal? It usually requires a lot of peeling, chopping, measuring and general prep work in order to season the chicken just right, brown it perfectly and give it the exact flavor we like. Personally, I hate peeling and chopping garlic. Dicing herbs? Forget it. I don't call Justin my sou-chef for nothing.  I usually beg him with sad puppy dog eyes to do the "dirty work" for me when we are making dinner.

    When I brought home Land O’Lakes Sauté Express® Sauté Starter in Garlic & Herbs and told Justin he could skip the chopping tonight he thought I was joking. He kept hovering around the kitchen waiting for me to ask him to jump in and peel some garlic for me or grab the salt and pepper. Neither of us could believe how little we had to do to saute our chicken perfectly. 

    (It may sound like I am putting you on with all this "oh wow, how amazing is this product" talk. But I kid you not, we both stood over the stove oohing and aahing like we had seen a magic trick while we cooked dinner.)

    The chicken was so easy, I decided to whip up some Scalloped Skillet Potatoes with our Sauté Express® Sauté Starter too. No cutting up a stick of butter and measuring out the perfect ratio of olive oil with it to brown things, the preportioned pats only needed unwrapping. No peeling of garlic, chopping and measuring of herbs and it was so flavorful we actually never even needed to add salt or pepper to the final products, something Justin almost always does whenever I cook anything. Neither of us could get over the fresh herb taste.

    The potatoes were so creamy and rich, I couldn't believe that they didn't have any cheese in them. Although if you wanted to add cheese I highly doubt anyone would complain. We paired them with a side of roasted asparagus for a quick and easy veggie. If you aren't a fan of goat cheese or don't have any on hand this dish can be made with any kind of soft cheese you like and we have even used cream cheese in a pinch too. 
    I love that the chicken and the potatoes in this dinner are both made using the same ingredients so I didn't have to go crazy at the grocery store. It was also a lot cheaper to just grab a package of this flavored butter instead of buying butter, olive oil, herbs and garlic individually. Right now you can even print a .75 cents off coupon to make it even more affordable. 

     Goat Cheese & Pesto Stuffed Chicken
    • 2 large chicken breasts
    • 4oz. goat cheese
    • 1 1/2  tablespoons pesto 
    • 1 pat of Land O’Lakes Sauté Express® Sauté Starter in Garlic & Herbs
    • 1/4 cup of low sodium chicken broth or white wine if you prefer

    1.) Using a filet knife, cut a pocket into each chicken breast so that you can lift up the top half to stuff it while still leaving the breast intact. 

    2.) Stir together goat cheese and pesto and stuff each piece of chicken with one half of the mixture.

    3.) In a large oven safe saute pan melt the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter according to the directions on the package and brown the chicken on each side, about two minutes per side.
    4.) Pour the chicken broth in the pan to de-glaze the bottom and then place entire pan in the oven at 375 degrees until chicken is cooked through. This will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken. After ten minutes in the oven make sure that you base the chicken with the sauce on the bottom of the pan to keep it from getting dry while it finishes cooking. 

    5.) Once chicken is done, let the whole pan cool/rest for five minutes and then serve topped with remaining sauce and enjoy.

    Easy Scalloped Skillet Potatoes
    •  One large potato, thinly sliced
    •  1 pat of Land O’Lakes Sauté Express® Sauté Starter in Garlic & Herbs
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
     1.)  In a large saute pan melt the Sauté Express® Sauté Starter according to the directions on the package and cook the sliced potatoes until soft.
    2.) Add the milk, cream and chicken broth stir and simmer until thickened.
    3.) Serve warm. 
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