Happy New Year 2013 – Resolutions For Change

Happy New Year 2013

 

 

HAPPY 2013 EVERYONE!!!

 

I hope you had a great Christmas and that 2013 will be an awesome year for you.

The New Year is upon us and I’m praying it’s going to be a year of happy changes, inspirational changes.  To be honest 2012 has been a challenging year for me and I’m not sorry to see it go.  The year 2013 brings with it endless possibilities, new beginnings, fresh starts and exciting New Year’s resolutions.  It’s a time to reflect on the things you want to improve or change and what you will accomplish in this new year.  All you have to do is decide this is the year to DO IT!  Are you ready?

 

It’s easy to be skeptical about New Year resolutions, but the beginning of the year is a great time to commit to reforming a habit, setting fresh personal goals or beginning a new project.  It gives us a memorable time marker and because it is a new year we instinctively look with anticipation to what the new year will bring.

 

My New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve chosen 3 areas I plan to focus on this year.

  • Health,
  • Organization
  • Finances (Couponing saves money so that’s my area of focus for now)

I want to implement some tools for organization, work on my health and make some time for my blog and finances.  I have been investigating couponing the last month or two and I want to really nail that one down.  It’s got a little bit of a learning curve to it.  I want to master that and become a couponing diva.  LOL

 

I know I need to utilize some time management techniques and get an organized system going.  Caring for the three children takes most of my time.  I’m constantly cooking, cleaning, helping with homework or breaking up spats.  I don’t remember it being so difficult when I was younger?  Maybe I’ve just forgotten.

 

I also realize my health has been a drag for most of the year and has definitely made everything harder.  I have a host of health issues including COPD, diabetes and heart. Some days I can barely get out of bed, but I know part of the problem is I don’t take care of myself so I figure that’s an area I definitely need to work on.

 

What’s totally insane is that I still smoke so I know that’s got to go this year.  Quitting smoking is probably one of the hardest darn things I’ve ever tried to do.  I made two attempts this last year and never made it past two weeks.  However, I’ve decided I am going to succeed in 2013!

 

New Years Resolutions

So with pen and paper in hand make your list of goals and resolutions for 2013.  Next determine a plan of action and write it down breaking it into small do-able steps. Lastly and the most significant decide to succeed in 2013.  Remember “Whatever the mind can perceive and believe the mind can achieve”~ Napoleon Hill.  Get a clear picture of what you want in your life and stay focused on that picture.  Take control of your mind and use its power to achieve your goals in 2013.

 

 

Seven Steps To Help You KEEP Your Resolutions

  • Make your resolutions do-able, bite sized and within your reach.
  • Craft them as specific as you can.
  • Schedule them into your day as critical priorities, crucial and vital to your future.  The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of your achievement results from about 20% of your activities – these are key activities that will make the biggest contribution to your success, so don’t let them get put on the back shelf.
  • Try to work on your resolutions when you’re brilliant and dazzling not when you’re tired and worn from the day.
  • Tell others about your resolutions and what you’re doing; it’ll help you stick to the plan.  (Positive & supportive people only)
  • Put them in writing: Writing them down makes your intentions ‘real’.
  • Keep a record of your progress.  Tracking your progress keeps you on target and will help re-inspire you if you lose your resolve.  Many of us lose our resolve along the way – the important thing is to get back on board as soon as you realize you’re off target.

 

What do you think?  Are you making any New Year’s resolutions? What methods do you have for keeping your resolutions?  On the other hand, maybe you don’t think New Year’s resolutions are such a good idea?  Whatever your views, I’d love to hear from you – if you’d like to join in the conversation, please leave a comment below.

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers and to wish you all Peace and Prosperity in 2013.

Grandma Soup

 

 

Photo Credit: —El coleccionista de instantes (Flickr.com)

 

 

 

 

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
~ Benjamin Franklin

 

 

 

 Compare Supermarket Prices With A Price Book

Have you noticed the trend in grocery store pricing lately… how fast grocery prices are increasing?  I’ll use the 5oz can of Star-Kist or Chicken of the Sea Tuna as an example.  Once upon a time this tuna sold for 4 for $1.00.  Then for several years it was $0.50 a can (through most of this year); recently tuna went to $0.67, followed by $0.88 and now one 5 oz can is $0.97 cents (some stores have it up to $1.29 per can).  I was dumbfounded when I saw the new price; the supermarket had just raised the price to $0.88.  How could they change the price again and again in such a short time?

 

Unfortunately economic predictions are that this is just the beginning of sudden increases in grocery store pricing.  During this time of economic unrest, droughts and other calamities it is more important than ever to know and compare food prices in order to save money and to stock the pantry with bargains when you find them.  The best way to keep track and compare supermarket prices, products and sales is to utilize a grocery price book.

 

 

PRICE BOOKWhat Is A Price Book?

A Price Book is a shopper’s best friend and one of the most powerful weapons in your financial arsenal!  It’s what sets one shopper apart from another and enables us to beat the grocery game.  A price book tracks the lowest prices paid for grocery items you regularly buy and over time reveals a product’s sale cycle.  You will use your book to compare your best prices against current store prices providing you with an opportunity for substantial supermarket savings.

 

 

A Price Book gives you the data you need to know who’s actually got the best price and when a sale is really a sale.  By knowing the item’s price and the sales cycle you can be ready to stock up when prices are low — relying on your stocked pantry until the next sale.  (Sales cycles are typically 8-12 weeks long, depending on the merchant.)

 

 

Using the price book when you’re grocery shopping is a wonderful and revealing thing, it really rocks; but I must admit, creating a price book is not so wonderful.  However you do learn a few things along the way coupled with a little shock when you see what you’ve been paying on some items at your store compared to other stores!

 

 
Putting together a price book is probably the hardest step of the whole grocery budget plan; it’s tedious, time consuming and not so much fun.  Nevertheless, it is so, so important to do!  Simply remind yourself that your price book is the single most important weapon you have for saving money and maintaining your grocery budget.  This is war and you want to win!

 

 

Putting together my price book was really an eye opener.  I became more aware of sizes, brands, how much I was paying for nutritious food as opposed to junk food, and the biggest discovery was the difference in prices from store to store.  I began to get excited about the price book and its potential.  I usually shopped at Wal-Mart but as I went through different store ads, Homeland Stores and Crest Foods had sale items at half the price of what I was paying at Wal-Mart.  I ended up solidly scolding myself for not taking this more seriously sooner and vowed to always use a price book going forward; I could have been saving hundreds of dollars!  My first trip out with just a partial price list I saved $66.00.  Best advice: Get started NOW!

 

 

*Picture this… a subtle smile on your face and a little strut to your step.  Why are you so confident and satisfied… because you know you’re the smartest shopper in the store as you sashay out the door with bags full of goodies that you bought at minimal prices!

 

How To Make A Price Book

  •  Select A Recording Form – Begin by deciding what form you will use to set up your price book and record information.  You can use a spiral notebook, binder or computer spreadsheet (recommended) to track price book information.  Set it up whichever way will be the easiest and most convenient for you to use.

 

  • Choose a Recording Method – There are generally two different methods people use when setting up a price book;   alphabetically or categorically.  Will it be easier for you to find cheese under the C’s or under Dairy?  How about Cumin – C’s or Spices?  It’s your choice; use whatever makes the most sense for you.  I simply used my master grocery list, which was set up by the supermarket layout and categories.  I set my price sheet up in Excel making it much easier to make adjustments or change layout.

 

If you don’t have an office program you can download Open Office free, it has a word and spreadsheet program, I have used it also and it has similar functions to Microsoft Office.

 

  • Headers for your pages Set-up your pages with the following columns:  Item, Date, Store, Brand, Size, Unit, Price, and Unit Price.

 

Example Price Book Page

Example Price Book

 **To get the unit price divide the sale price of each item by its size.  (Break pounds down to ounces)

Create a separate column for the unit type so you can set up Excel to calculate the unit price automatically.

Example Formula:  =SUM(E3/C3)  – enter the formula under Unit Price.

 

  •  Capture Data –  Remember all those grocery receipts you’ve been saving…it’s time to get them out so you can record the items and prices in your price book.  This is also where your master grocery list comes in handy; it lists all of the items you buy.  Jump-start your price book by grabbing local sales fliers or go online and browse their ads; begin filling in your price book with items and unit prices for things you use.  In the beginning try shopping at a different store each week, recording the information in your price book.  In a very short time you will have a clearer picture of the sales the stores run; you will get a feel for where you can save the most money and which stores benefit you the most.  I ended up with about 4 or 5 stores that I monitor and shop at regularly and a few that I monitor just in case they have a great sale on something.

 

You can see by the examples above the unit price is what really matters.  I do leave some things in pounds or each for my convenience; list your units in the way that works with your shopping style.  Begin by entering the best price you’ve bought an item for to date.  If you find it at a better price later, update your price book, that way you will always have the best target price for each item.

 

At first it may seem like an overwhelming task but take heart, as time goes by your entries will slow down and you will have built an impressive price list database for reference.  Keep in mind that it will take more than a day or two to put together, it will probably take a good month to get your price book filled and in order.  Then it will be easier to maintain, you only need to update if the price is lower than what your price book already has listed.

 

Shopping Magic

Your Price Book doesn’t have to be 100% complete when you start using it, even a baby price book will help with saving money on groceries.  As you’re building your price book you’ll gain skills that will turn you into a grocery guru.  Take this month and discover the best prices in your local market and record them in your price book.  You can get a lot of information with local store fliers use them to add data.  Like fine wines, price books improve with age.

 

Armed with your price book you’ll be able to spot an item that’s on sale at a super low price and you’ll know it’s time to stock up.  Here’s an example of how stocking up on a great deal helps others too.  Homeland had 10 lbs for $0 .15 a pound, (usually $0.40 lb) so I bought several and passed them to family and a couple of needy neighbors.  In the same week, Buy for Less had sweet yellow onions 3lbs for $0.97 (usually $2.46-2.99); again I stocked up and passed them around.  For $2.42 you’ve got two of the ingredients for potato soup and many side dishes.  It’s so empowering having my own price book, finding those wonderful bargains and a joy being able to share with others.

 

You’ll come to know when staples will be offered at their lowest price of the year.  Example: Brand name Mexican food items reach their lowest price around or right before Cinco-De-Mayo or May 5th, Mexican Independence Day.

 

When you find a must have bargain item, buy as much as your budget will allow and as much as you can realistically store without waste.  I tend to stock up on items that I can freeze or canned and dry goods for the pantry.  In the case of perishables I tend to share the wealth as in the example above.  If you stock up on a perishable items that you can’t eat fast enough and end up throwing half of it away you didn’t save money you lost money;  so be smart when stocking up.

 

Master Lists For Easy Menu Planning

The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.

~ Erma Bombeck

 

 

You can make master lists for just about any area of your life, many will help organize your home.  List for the home could include a master home inventory list, house cleaning schedules, planners, budgets, family health and immunizations, checklists, and so forth.   However in this article we will be focusing on master kitchen lists.

Master Kitchen Lists:

  • Master Meal List
  • Master Grocery Shopping List
  • Master Set of Recipes – Cards, Boxes, Notebook or Binder
  • Grocery Price Book – master list of staples with best prices

 

What can I say about master lists?  Master kitchen lists help to organize your grocery shopping, your menu planning and your kitchen.  They give you information at your fingertips that make grocery shopping and meal planning so much easier.  Master kitchen lists are a ready snapshot of everything to do with the food in your home; what you have in the cupboards, what you buy on a regular basis, what meals your family favors and the best price for everything you use.  Master lists take some thought and time but once you begin to use them you will find they are worth their weight in gold.

 

 

Master Meal ListMaster Meal List

Trying to decide what to make for dinner each night gets old fast, especially when the family responds with the old “I don’t care, whatever you want to make” response.  In spite of the frustration we manage to get the tribe fed each day so we must be cooking something, right?

 

Have no fear, Master Meal List to the rescue – no more dinnertime blues or boredom.  A master list of meal ideas along with a simple meal planner will solve your dilemma.  Start by making a list of dinners that you cook week in and week out, add some other ideas from the suggestions below; this will be your master go-to list for meal planning.  Definitely make this list before you begin putting together your weekly menu plans.

 

You may have entrees like spaghetti, chicken alfredo, tacos, enchiladas, chili, roasted chicken, or  pot roast but don’t forget your sides like Spanish rice, mashed potatoes, French bread and salad.  You get the idea.  You want the complete meal plan.

 

Here are some suggestions for coming up with meal ideas.  Include meals you cook during the winter months and summer months, how about festivals and celebrations.  Many of us cook a little differently for each season and when it comes to holidays we tend to make special dishes or once a year meals.  Think Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Country, Crock Pot and casseroles, etc.  Browse cookbooks or recipes online for fresh ideas or dishes you’d like to try.  Finally include your family in the list making; they may have some fresh ideas or insight.

 

Which meals are quick dinners, which ones take longer?  Will today be a slow cooker meal because you are so busy you won’t have time to cook later?  Label your recipes so you’ll know which ones are quick meals for nights when you are super busy and harder meals on days that you have more time to devote.  Can any of the meals work double duty – meaning can you make extra and freeze it for a quick meal another night?

 

Grab a notebook or binder; use the computer, whatever method works for you.  However you decide to catalogue your list of meals I would break it down into categories for “Main Dishes”, “Side Dishes”, “Vegetables”, “Breakfasts”, “Desserts” and so on.  You can then add subcategories like Poultry, Beef, Seafood, Pasta, or themes like Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Crock Pot, Casseroles, Quick, Easy, etc. or just organize in alphabetical order whichever is going to be more useful in the long run.

 

Master Shopping ListMaster Grocery Shopping List

Once you have your Master List of Recipes, read through each recipe and write down what is needed to make each one.  This will be the beginning of your Master Grocery Shopping List.  Now go through your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer and add any items that didn’t make it on the list but you usually buy.  You can also add the rest of the household’s needs to the Master List so you have everything in one place.  Things like toiletries, baggies, trash bags, dog food, laundry soap, batteries, etc.  The grocery list is one of the keys to saving time and money in the grocery store.  A little work now will save you time down the road.

 

The next time you go to the supermarket take your list with you and note the aisle number next to each item.  Another option is to ask the store manager for a copy of the store’s plan-o-gram or grocery layout.  Organize your grocery list according to the layout of the grocery store that you frequent most often.  When you have a list organized by department you avoid backtracking through the aisles.  Be sure the frozen foods and other perishables are last on the list so they don’t melt while you’re shopping.  Set off each item with a box or bullet (you’ll find this option under the Format or Home tabs) To keep your list on one or two pages, set the list in columns (under page layout).  Once you’ve done the initial prep work, all you’ll need to do is print out a fresh copy of the list before each shopping trip.  If you’re doing this by hand keep a master copy that you can take to a local office supply and print several copies.

 

Getting in and out of the store quickly is one of your goals.  Studies show that each additional minute you spend in the grocery store over thirty (30) minutes costs you about $1 per minute. With your list in hand, geared to the store layout you can zip in and zip out.

 

Printable Grocery List Templates

Rather than making your own grocery list template you may prefer to download a basic printable shopping list.

Check out the shopping lists available on these helpful websites:

 

***I recommend using an office program if possible to build your Master Shopping Lists and Master Meal List; it makes life so much easier.  If you don’t have an office program you can download Open Office free, it has a word and spreadsheet program.

Weekly Meal Planning

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.
I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie”

~ Jim Davis

 

 

Colorful Chicken Meals

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

What’s for dinner tonight? A question we hear everyday and one that can send us into panic mode. Weekly menu planning saves you frustration, time and money. Get out those family recipes and get started with a weekly meal plan. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Okay you’ve figured out your grocery dollar budget now it’s time to customize your weekly or monthly meal planning budget.

 

I recommend taking the time to jot down a couple of week’s worth of favorite family recipes to use as inspiration while you’re menu-planning.  (More if you’re up to it)  After all we’re talking 21 meals a week and 1,092 a year not counting snacks.  It can get fairly overwhelming when you’re sitting there trying to figure out what to feed the tribe.

 

 

As I mentioned in “My Shoestring Story” I had gained three grandchildren whose eating habits were a mystery to me so I set about enlisting their help with our menu plan.  I already knew what Grandpa and the rest of my household liked but I was at a loss for the three children.  We spent some time together plotting our course and gathering ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Getting the children involved with their likes and dislikes definitely saved me some headaches going forward.  One of the children is on the road to being vegetarian while another only likes meat and the middle child weighed in as a very picky eater.  It would be a challenge to feed them from the same meal.  “R’ots of R’uck” as the saying goes!  I could see where patience and training would come into play…

 

We ended up with an assortment of breakfasts, lunches and snacks along with 23 or so different dinner ideas.  That gave me several ideas that I could draw from when setting up the weekly meal plan.

 

Everyone will need to customize the menu plan for his or her family and lifestyle.  The important thing is consistency, making budget menu planning a regular habit, and that your budget plan is accomplishing what you need it to do.

 

Weekly Menu Planners

Weekly Meal Planner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning out the weekly meals will save you time, money and lots of frustration.  It seems like having a plan makes us so much more efficient and on top of the game.

Create A Weekly Grocery Budget

He who does not economize will have to agonize.”

~ Confucius

 

 

Why Create A Grocery Budget?

The best way to begin your adventure into meal planning is to begin with a strong foundation by creating a reasonable food budget.  Making a weekly or monthly grocery budget for menu planning is the best way to know if you’re meal plan is working, if you’re saving money and if you’re on the right track.  A grocery budget gives you a workable plan, targeted spending limits, a goal; it provides you with boundaries and pushes you to find ways to live, sometimes creatively, within those boundaries.

 

 

Step #1: Average Your Monthly Food CostsMan Creating A Grocery Budget

Start by gathering all the receipts you can find from the last month or two and place them in a pile.  You will use them to track how much money you’ve spent on food at the grocery store, eating out, and those quick trips to McDonald’s, Seven-Eleven and so forth for this time-frame.  You might be surprised by your monthly spending, the cost of groceries and eating out, if so don’t panic the fix is coming.  Once you’ve collected your receipts grab your checkbook too; now add up the receipts and checks or credit cards (if you’re missing receipts) to get an idea of what you spent for food and other grocery items.  Divide the total dollar amount by the number of weeks that you found to get a weekly average.  You will use the weekly average to set your initial grocery budget.  Don’t worry this number will change as you get a feel for working within boundaries, but for now it will give you a place to start and a concrete dollar amount for your grocery budget.  From here on out you will need to save all receipts, including these,  for future reference, so find something to store them in; an envelope, a bag, or a file, just use something to keep them all in one place.

Your budget should be reviewed and tweaked on a monthly basis.

 

 

Step #2: Make Your Grocery Budget Doable

Try to be realistic when planning your working grocery budget, make it achievable.  Don’t set your grocery budget at $50.00 a week when you’ve been spending $250.00 a week.  This is not a competition; you are making a substantial lifestyle change so be kind to yourself and make the transition with small changes as you go.  Begin modestly by lowering your grocery budget 10% from what you’ve been spending.  Gradually as you gain experience you can shave another 10% off then another and another making a big difference over time.

 

As you are getting comfortable with your grocery budget there may be times you feel overwhelmed or frustrated because you screwed up and spent more than you planned or overpaid for an item, it’s okay, it happens to the best of us.  Step back, breathe and remind yourself you are in control, it’s a grocery budget for goodness sake not the end of the world.  As Scarlett O’Hara said from the movie Gone with the Wind –“Tomorrow is another day!”

 

 

***  In 2008 the Department of Labor estimated a family of four spends $709 a month on groceries. Adding a 4% annual increase this gives an estimate of $797.52 per month or $184.04 per week.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates about 12.5 percent of the average family’s spending goes toward food, while the Department of Agriculture puts the figure at 9.8 percent.

 

How to Create a Grocery Budget

Want to Curb Your Spending ?

You will need:

  • A List of Items You Currently Use
  • Compare Prices between Several Stores
  • Buy Store Brands whenever possible
  • Use coupons and catch sales
  • Plan a week’s worth of meals
  • List all ingredients
  • Storage Space

Optional:
Plant A Kitchen Garden

The Power Of A Penny Doubled Daily

Power of the Penny

A Million Dollars or The Power Of A Penny?


 ”If a rich man offered to give you a gift of one million dollars today or one penny today, with a promise to double that penny the next day, then double the previous day’s pennies and so on for a month – which offer would you choose?”

 

My math teacher asked this question of our class back in the 70’s.  That was many years ago but I still remember the class unanimously agreed the million dollars was the way to go.  Of course being in math class we knew we were going to have to prove which offer was the better deal.

 

It certainly seemed like a million dollars should be more than a whole bunch of pennies.  A penny is worth hardly anything, after all it’s just one cent.  How could even a whole lot of pennies be anywhere near a million dollars?  We set out to prove we had made the right choice.  Here’s where the magic of compounded interest comes into play.

 

The Power Of The Penny

Penny Doubled Table

 Shiny Pennies

 

The Magic of Compound Interest

As you can see from the penny power table we definitely made the wrong choice.  With the power of duplication and compounding the little penny had become millions of dollars.  Of course you won’t get 100% daily interest on your money in real life but the lesson to be gleaned is about the ability of money to grow with time.  It’s also a story about having patience and not giving up before the big payday.

 

The penny a day plan illustrates that money, even a small amount, invested wisely, can turn into a whole lot of cash over time through the amazing power of compounding.  Compound interest has been called the eighth wonder of the world.  Albert Einstein said “Compound interest is one of the greatest mathematical concepts of our time”.

 

Start Saving Now and Turn Your Pocket Change Into Wealth!

Americans are pros at spending money, but definitely in the minor leagues when it comes to saving money.  The average savings rate for North Americans at the beginning of the 21st Century was close to zero.

 

An article from Kiplinger states when you’re young, you have an asset money can’t buy – TIME  The goal of a million dollar nest egg is far more possible through planned savings than the average person realizes.

 

Wealth building is about discipline, having a plan and growing the patience to stick to that plan until the goal is reached.  Even if you only have a small amount of money, don’t procrastinate, start now and watch your money grow and multiply over the months and years ahead.

 

The sooner you start the wealthier you can become.  Make savings a priority and make regular investments.  When you save or invest money in an account that offers compound interest be patient, it takes time to see the wonders of compounding returns.  It’s like a snowball rolling down hill… it’ll build on itself, getting bigger and bigger, before you know it, it’s a lot of money.  As you can see from our table the most growth comes at the end.  Invest wisely and leave your money alone.  Start now, you’ll be glad you did!

Shiny Pennies

Guacamole Picante

guacamole pinterest

 

Start by picking out some good avocados. Haas avocados are the best, they have a creamier base.  The avocado should give slightly  when you press on the ends. Hard avocados = not ready; super soft avocados = TOO ready.

 

guacamole ingredients

 

The best way is to get 3 or 4 large avocados that have varying degrees of ripeness from JUST ready, to ALMOST too much. This will give more texture and flavor to your end product. These avocados below were all about the same degree of ripeness. That’s fine too.

 

avocado closeup

 

Slice your avocados in half lengthwise and then twist both halves to separate. Chop your knife into the pit and twist the knife to remove the pit from the fruit. Slice into your avocado cutting the flesh into long strips lengthwise, but not cutting through the skin. Now cut slices crosswise using the same method. You’ll basically be cubing the flesh. Use a fork or a spoon to scoop it out into a bowl.

 

 avocado halves

 

Mash up your cubed avocado and mix in about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp of onion powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp Tapatio hot sauce, 1 tbsp sour cream, 1 tbsp of your favorite salsa, a squeeze of lime juice, and about 3 tbsp of chopped up cilantro. You can also toss in some finely chopped onion, tomato, and jalapeno if that is how you like it!

 

guacamole 4

 

 

guacamole with chips

 

Guacamole

Ingredients

 

  • 3-4 large avocados
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Tapatio (Salsa Picante – Hot Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp salsa
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice

Cooking Directions

 

  1. Mash up avocados in a bowl with all ingredients. Serve with chips and salsa.

 

guacamole closeup

 

Avocados are one of nature’s super foods.  One-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz.) has 50 calories and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals making it a nutrient dense food choice.  The avocado also contains all 18 amino acids plus omega 3 and 6  in a more digestible form than meats or seafood.

Avocado Nutrients

Corn Crepes

 corn crepes pinterest

When I first started making homemade enchiladas I used to use the store-bought corn tortillas. I would briefly fry them in oil, and proceed to make my enchiladas like I do now. It was okay, but there is something about the store-bought tortillas that just didn’t really compliment the rest of the dish. They ended up greasy, full of oil, and they fell apart after baking when I was serving the enchiladas. Not my favorite thing.

 

A friend turned me onto these, and I’ve never looked back. They are easy to make, stay together very well during baking, and perfectly compliment my homemade enchiladas.

 

Mix all the ingredients together besides the cooking oil for frying.

 

corn crepes-1

 

Preheat a small non-stick pan with a teaspoon or two of cooking oil. Pour in 1/4ish cup of batter (enough to coat the bottom of your pan, or make the desired size of crepe), and tilt the pan around to distribute the batter evenly.

 

corn crepes-2

 

Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the batter has set up. Carefully flip over and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove and place on a paper towel.

 

corn crepes-3

 

Add additional oil as necessary. If your non-stick is in really good shape, you may not need much. Use for enchiladas or tacos!

 

corn crepes-4


Corn Crepes

 

Ingredients

  • 2 Lg eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp butter, melted
  • 3-4 tbsp cooking oil, for frying

 

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the cooking oil and mix well.
  2. Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat with a couple of tsp of oil in it. When it is well heated, pour approximately 1/4-1/3 cup of the crepe batter into the pan and tilt to distribute. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the top looks solid. Flip over and cook 30 seconds on other side.
  3. Remove from pan onto a paper towel and repeat with the rest of the batter, adding additional oil when necessary.
  4. Use immediately for enchiladas, or your favorite Mexican filling.

 corn crepes-6

Spicy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Quick and delicious, this recipe for chicken enchiladas boasts a spicy homemade enchilada sauce.  The dish makes enough for a large dinner group or it’s great to share at  potluck gatherings.  Serves 12-15

 

 

enchilada casserole


 For this chicken enchilada recipe, start by throwing two good sized chicken breasts into a pot with 2 dried California Chili Pods, 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa, 1 cup of water, 1 tsp Tapatio Hot Sauce, and 1 can of El Pato Salsa de Jalapeno, the green can.  You may need a bit more water depending on the depth and size of your pan.  You want the chicken to be covered.  Simmer this mixture until the chicken is fully cooked.  After it’s cooked, remove the chicken and let cool.

 enchilada casserole 1

 

In the same pot, with the leftover simmering sauce still in it, add in a can of El Pato Red, or tomato sauce with jalapeno, 1/4 cup onion, 1/2 cup salsa, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp basil, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 can tomato paste, and 1 1/2 cups water.  Let simmer over medium low heat stirring frequently until thick, about 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, shred the cooled chicken with two forks.  Place 4oz of cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften.  Mix in 1/2 small can of green chili.  Mix this into the chicken.

 

To layer the casserole, cover the bottom of a 9×13 with a thick layer of enchilada sauce.  (Discard the California chili pods after cooking.)enchilada casserole 2

Then layer corn tortillas on top of the sauce.

enchilada casserole 3

 

Follow with the chicken, spread evenly over the entire area.

enchilada casserole 4

Sprinkle with a Mexican cheese blend or your favorite cheddar.

enchilada casserole 5

 

Cover chicken/cream cheese with another layer of tortillas. Cover tortillas generously with enchilada sauce, but make sure to leave enough to cover the final layer or tortillas. Add another layer of cheese followed by a layer of tortillas. Cover final layer of tortillas with enchilada sauce and then cheese. You can add sliced or whole black olives to the top layer for a festive look. (optional) Bake at 350 until hot and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.  Serve with sour cream.

 

In case you got lost in the layering instructions…here is the layering set-up from beginning to end…

Start with a 9”x13” pan
Cover the bottom with enchilada sauce
Add a layer of tortillas
Cover tortillas with enchilada sauce
Spread Chicken mixture evenly over tortillas
Sprinkle your favorite cheese on top
Add another layer of tortillas
Cover with more enchilada sauce
Sprinkle with Cheese
Last layer of tortillas
Enchilada Sauce
Cheese
Black Olives on top for decoration (optional)

   enchilada casserole 6

 

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

 Ingredients

2 large boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 small can El Pato Salsa Jalapeno – Green Can
2 large California Chili Pod, rehydrated
1/2 cup Salsa; your favorite
1 cup Water
1 tsp Tapatio Hot Sauce
4 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 – 1 small can Mild Green Chilies
1/4 cup Onion, diced
1/2 cup Salsa
1 small can El Pato tomato sauce with jalapenos – Red can
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Basil
1 TBSP Chili Powder
1 – 1 1/2 cup Water
4-6 cups Mexican blend cheese, Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese
18 small Corn tortillas
Black Olives sliced for decoration (optional)
Sour Cream (optional) Served atop each serving

 

Instructions

1. Place chicken breasts, El Pato jalapeno salsa – green can, California chili pods, 1/2 cup your favorite salsa, 1 – 1 1/2 cups water, and Tapatio hot sauce in a small pot and bring to a simmer.  Cook until chicken is done.  Remove chicken to a separate bowl to cool and reserve left over simmering liquid in pan.

 

2. Add to simmering liquid 1/4 cup diced onion, 1/2 cup salsa, 1 can El Pato tomato with jalapeno salsa – Red can, cumin, salt, oregano, basil, chili powder, and 1 – 1 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and let cook until the sauce is reduced by 1/3, or until thickened, about 30 minutes.

 

3. Place cream cheese and green chilies into a small bowl and microwave on high 30 seconds to soften cream cheese.  Shred chicken and mix cream cheese and chilies into it well.

 

4. Thinly cover the bottom of a 9x13x2 pan with enchilada sauce. Add 6 tortillas on top. Cover layer well with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Top sauce with chicken mixture, and spread out evenly. Cover with a 1 1/2 – 2 cup layer of cheese. Place 6 more corn tortillas on top of cheese. Place 1/2 of remaining enchilada sauce on top of tortillas and spread out well. Top with cheese layer. Top cheese layer with another tortilla layer, then the rest of the enchilada sauce, and one last cheese layer.  You can also add black olives (sliced or whole) to the top for a festive look.

 

5. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.

(Optional) When you’re ready to serve put a dollop of Sour Cream on each serving.

 

Details

Prep time: 45 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 1 hour 10 mins

Yield: 12-15 servings

 

 

 

Spanish Rice

Budget Friendly Spanish Rice

Flavorful, easy, delicious Spanish rice that is better than any San Francisco Treat.

 

Spanish Rice Ingredients

1/4 cup Oil, hot

2 cups Long Grain White Rice

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 cup Yellow Onion, diced

1 cup, chopped Red & Green Pepper

1 – 7 3/4 oz can El Pato Tomato Sauce, Yellow Can (Mexican Hot Style)

1/2 Tbsp Chili powder  (Optional)

2 tsp Salt

3 cups Hot Water

1 – 14.5 oz can Mexican Stewed Tomatoes (I like to chop into small pieces so they blend better)

 

 

Budget Friendly Spanish Rice1

 

Heat the oil in the skillet.  Burner should be set on high, unless the oil starts to smoke a lot, then just set on medium to medium high.  Add garlic, onion, peppers and rice.  Stir frequently.

 

Budget Friendly Spanish Rice 3

Sauté until the veggies are soft and the rice is opaque white (light browning of the rice is okay).

 

Budget Friendly Spanish Rice Final

Next add to the skillet your tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, hot water, and stewed tomatoes.  Cover and cook until rice is tender.  Check near the end of the cooking time to see if you need to add a bit more water.

 

 

Spanish Rice Cooking Instructions

 1. Preheat oil to hot.  Add rice, garlic, peppers and onion.  Stir frequently.  Sauté until vegetables are soft and rice is opaque white (light browning of the rice is okay)

 

2. Add water, tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, and stewed tomatoes.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook another 30-45 minutes, or until rice is tender.  Watch for doneness and moisture level.  You may need to add 1/4 cup more water near the end.

 

Details

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 50 mins

Yield: 8 servings

Variations:

You can use a cup of mixed vegetables or peas instead of peppers.  If you are using canned vegetables add right before you cover and reduce heat.  You can also leave the rice plain for those who prefer no added vegetables.

 

This is a wonderful side dish that is easy to make and very versatile.  Just change out your vegetables for a different look and taste.

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