Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday menu: Chili-chicken soup

This is for my friend BB over at Stretcher:

Chili-chicken and dumplings

1 tablespoon vegetable (or canola) oil
1 1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (use 2 teaspoons if you're using homemade broth)
6 cups chicken broth

2 cups baking mix (I use the lower fat version; your own dumpling recipe would work, too.)
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium heat. Cook chicken, onion, chili powder and salt in oil, stirring frequently, until chicken is browned. Stir in broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix baking mix and milk until soft dough forms. Fold in cilantro and cumin. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into simmering soup. Cook uncovered 10 minutes. Cover; cook 10 minutes longer.

Note: The first time I made this, I used the full recipe and had way too many dumplings. The second time, I halved it, and didn't have enough. So I'm giving you the full recipe and letting you decide for yourself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chomping on dishes?

Ever hear of a dishwasher taking a bite out of your dishes?

A couple of years ago, the dinnerware here at the Casa de Chaos was replaced (it was bought used, and getting pretty worn). So a nice pile of coupons and gift cards earned with rebates paid for a set of brightly colored dishes.

But something is odd ... chips are appearing around the edges. I admit things get clanked around, but gee whiz, it's not like I use them for a juggling act.

My friends at Stretcher suggested painting the chips with some acrylic craft paint. So I took photos of the plates and hauled the camera off to the craft store so I could get a good match. (Ya know how many shades are out there? Yikes!)

So, the plates were painted, then put in the dishwasher. When I took them out ... they were chipped!

First, I thought that the paint had washed off. But no, I found the spots that had been repaired ... and the paint held. These are new chips!

I'm at a loss. I don't think the dishwasher arm is hitting the plates. Nothing else that goes in seems to be damaged -- including the bowls from the set. Are bits of food being whizzed around at supersonic speed? Or do they just not make plates like they used to?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That tab's going to be a bit higher this year

Sounds like the cost of restaurant meals is going up. From the Tampa Times:

Experts predict restaurant food and beverage prices to increase 5 percent or more this year. From fine dining to fast food, the restaurant industry will find it hard to absorb increased food prices without passing those additional costs on to consumers.

Course, this line doesn't make me feel any more confident about my own budget:

But the future looks expensive. The latest USDA commodity price forecast predicts 2012 beef and chicken prices to increase by 9 percent and 5 percent ...

I do feel for folks in the restaurant business. It's got to be tough, especially for smaller eateries. I know we've cut back on our restaurant trips ... or have been looking harder for bargains. From the looks of it, we may be cutting back even more.

The story:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A bit of spring

A small sign of spring: One of the big box hardware stores had seeds on sale this past week (11 for 99 cents! Whoot!)

Not the greatest selection (I think the locusts must have beat me to the display), but I did score a few packages of heirloom wax beans, some turnips, and basil and parsley.

Still need to get a few packages of bush beans, but looks like I'm in good shape for planting.

Now, let's hope for a "normal" spring. Then again, considering that temps here are bouncing from oh, 50s to the teens, I'm a bit worried.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Monday: Grandma's meatballs

These are pretty tasty ... and the recipe is easy to cut down if you don't happen to want 6 dozen meatballs.

3 eggs
3 c bread crumbs
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3 lbs ground beef
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, stir in milk, breadcrumbs, onion and salt. Add meat and mix well.
Shape into 6 doz. 1-inch balls and set on ungreased baking pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove meatballs from pan and place them on another pan or a rack to cool. Freeze.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My wake-up call

I was awakened this morning by Senior Cat, who was frantically pawing at my shoulder.

I turned over to look at her and immediately put my hand on something .. er .. wet.

Seems the little dear wanted to alert me that she'd coughed up a hairball on my pillow. (Oh, gee, thanks!)

I know ... this has nothing to do with frugality. Just thought I'd report on how my day was going.

And how's yours?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Free coffee

If you could use some free java (and hey, it's snowing here; I certainly could use a warm drink)

Stop by your local Starbucks and taste-test some of their new roasts. I understand there are free samples involved, too.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Change the oil? Not yet!

This likely isn't good news for the oil companies or the garages that do oil changes, but according to a Los Angeles Times story, California has launched a campaign to persuade its drivers (and it does have a lot of them) not to have their vehicles' oil changed every 3,000 miles.

According to the state agency launching the campaign, changing motor oil according to manufacturer specifications would reduce oil demand in California by about 10 million gallons a year.

The state has created a Web site where you can plug in your vehicle's make, model and year, and get the manufacturer's specs on when to change the oil. When I tried it, I learned that I should go 7,500 miles between oil changes.

I'd already lengthened my oil-change intervals to 5,000 miles, but the idea of saving an extra $20 or $40 a year? Hey, I'll make the sacrifice for the environment!

Here are the

BTW: The check your number site was running slowly when I used it. Oh, and as usual, your savings may vary.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Taking the easy way out

We've been Mr and Mrs. Fix-it here at the casa de chaos lately ... gluing a broken drawer, restringing a roman shade, replacing a headlight bulb ...

One of my missions has been to get through the pile of mending ... 98% of which is patching the knees on DH's work-outside pants.

Normally, I'd machine-sew the patch on and hand stitch the rough edges ... but that takes time I don't really have right now. And it's a pain in the neck to wrestle a pant leg around a sewing machine.
So I decided to get efficient. I bought a role of iron-on adhesive .... a few snips, and a few minutes with an iron .. and voila! Patched pants.

Now the one drawback: I haven't washed any of these pants yet. More importantly, I haven't run them through the dryer. So I may get a nasty surprise ... or not...

UPDATE: It worked! Ran a pair of those pants through the washer and dryer -- the patch held. Unfortunately, the pants developed another hole, right below the patch! $%!#!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

December freebies

Not a bad way to end the year ...

Woolite dark
Bag of Fritos
AmLactin lotion
Seattle's Best coffee
Dove smoothing oil
Post-it tabs
Kirkland body lotion
2 ice cream cones
4 reusable tote bags

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and frugal 2012!