Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I WISH that I was harvesting food from my garden already...but sadly I'm not!  Our garden really struggled this year.  I'm going to blame it on first year garden growers.  Our pots that sat on our apartment porches always did so well.  But yet the first year we live in our own house and plant a garden, hardly anything grows!

Regardless - my neighbor (whose garden is lush and huge!) gave me a couple of really nice zucchini.  Yay!  Time to make yummy things that can be used from food from the garden.

 Enter Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
6 T. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips (milk or semi - your preference!)

Mix eggs, sugar and oil.  Add cocoa, vanilla and zucchini.  Mix.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Pour into two small (or one large) greased bread pans and bake at 350 for one hour.

It is delicious!  We ate both loaves yesterday - one before church, and one after :)

*I don't like the skin on the zucchini in bread.  So before I grate the zucchini I peel the skin off.  And then I grate the zucchini with a super fine grater so my kids can hardly tell they're eating it.


how do you do it?

Meal Planning.
Grocery Shopping.
List making.
How do you do it?
I used to just buy whatever.  I bought a handful of the same things and then threw in a couple of extras I knew I didn't need.  I never budgeted.  I never made a list.  And I didn't plan meals.  I hardly ever had a meal prepped before four because I was still trying to decide what to make?

THAT got annoying.  So I made some changes and this is how I keep our kitchen stocked with food and make meals.

1. I get the Sunday paper.  Do you?  You totally should.  It's my favorite to read through the paper, clip coupons (GOSH THAT'S MY FAVORITE!), and go through the ad's.
I make a list of things that are on sale that I usually buy.  I also make a list of items that are on sale at random stores (Walgreens, ShopKo, etc.) so if I need them I can price match them at Wal Mart that week. 

I am a Wal Mart Hater.  There I said it.  But sometimes when I need toilet paper, a bar of soap and some shampoo, I want the best prices.  And when they're all on sale at different stores, I find it's the best option to price match those ten items at Wal Mart.

I try really hard to buy groceries from the local grocery stores.  The employees are nicer to me and my kids.  They have free samples for my kids.  They bag my groceries and offer my kids balloons and Smarties.  They help me to the car.  The produce at the local grocery stores is ALWAYS better.  And if you know what's on sale you can buy those things for a good deal and make MEALS off of them.

2. So once I've gone through the ad's and made my beautiful lists of things on sale, I make my dinner menu. 
If we've had a big piece of meat for our Sunday dinner then I put down a meal or two that I can make with the leftover meat.  I try to have 2-3 meatless meals a week.  And then I put a few other meals with things from my food storage or things I can buy that week on sale.  Breakfast seems to always be one of my meals.  Whether it's pancakes or eggs and toast, it's on the menu once a week.

3. Then I make my grocery list. 
I usually have an ongoing list on my fridge that I add to throughout the week.  When I finish off the ketchup or the baking soda, I add to the list.  Then I can take that with me when I go shopping.  I add any other grocery items that I know we need or to make any of the meals I'm going to for that week.  I might add a handful of long term food storage items (a few cans of beans, boxes of mac n cheese, etc.) And of course I add the snacks - graham crackers, popcorn, tortilla chips.  Yes, we're unhealthy over here :)  I do try really hard to have enough produce in our house for a whole week.  Enough for snacks, to add to meals, etc.

4. And then my FAVORITE part.  I organize my coupons from the Sunday paper. 
I look to see if there are any killer sales that when I use the coupon with it will make it an even BETTER sale!  I go through my coupon folders and grab any out that will expire that week and any coupons that have sales for those items.  To be honest, I'm not the best couponer.  I probably throw away just as many or more than I use.  But I feel awesome cutting them out and giving them to the cashier.  I've gotten shampoo for .29, Oreos for 1.50 and name brand toilet paper for 3.00. 

5. I pile my coupons and lists together and go shopping Monday :) 
I shop around the store getting my list of items and then I'm naughty and I walk through the aisles looking to see if there are any extra sale items. 

6. OH!  And I have a limit of how much to spend each week and I try really really REALLY hard to stick to that.  Knowing that number helps me to put things back that aren't a need.


creamy chicken noodle soup

I'm turning into my Mom in so many ways.  One in specific is that I don't measure anything when I cook.  (except when I bake. then I measure.) 
I wanted chicken noodle soup a few weeks ago.  And I really love soup when it's creamy.  Most of the recipes I know call for cream of chicken soup.  I've been trying not to use that stuff.  Ya know - high sodium, MSG, high calories.  Not that I don't sometimes still use it, I just try to use it less.  So I made my batch of soup and while it was simmering I remembered I had some heavy cream in the fridge.  Best decision ever.  It was the yummiest chicken noodle soup I've ever made.  And here's pretty close to how I think I did it.
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
1 large can of canned chicken (Costco)
2 large carrots
1/2 package of wide egg noodles
1 can of chicken broth
2 cups of water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 c diced onions (maybe a little more?)
1 garlic clove
celery salt
salt and pepper to taste
I always put my pot on the stove, turn it on to medium and start pouring things in.  The broth, the water, the bouillon cubes.  Then I drained and threw in the can chicken.  I diced my carrots, onions and garlic.  I added the seasonings and then it boil until the carrots were tender.  I tasted it - added a little more seasonings, more water.  I added the noodles and then that boil for almost 10 minutes.  Then I poured in the heavy cream!  I let that boil for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally. 
Then I ate it :)


turkey meatballs

A few weeks ago at my local grocery store that I absolutely love, there was this meat sale.  And one of the items was ground turkey.  I admit, I'm not a big fan.  I bought it regularly when we were first married because my husband liked it but I didn't know how to cook with it.  Whenever I made anything, it tasted like a weird form of Thanksgiving dinner to me. ;)  So I stopped buying it.
But it was apart of this fun sale, so I couldn't resist.  Me and food sales...I just have to buy them.  I called my sister when I got home, remembering she had made turkey meatballs one time.  She referred me to the Food Network website and I found this recipe.  And holy cow....they were heaven!  My two year old ate 4 meatballs before I even sautéed them in the marinara sauce.  And we devoured the rest over noodles.
It's a really easy recipe.  Please try!

Turkey Meatballs
1 small onion, grated
 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground dark turkey meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
(This is a terrible secret of mine, but when I don't have certain ingredients and I'm already in the process of making something, I just leave it out.  I totally left out the Romano and I didn't have bread crumbs, so I used the panko crumbs I had.  AND I only used 2 garlic cloves which was plenty garlic enough for me.)
I just put everything into a large bowl and mixed it together.  Then I had two plates ready and rolled meat into the size of ping pong balls placing them onto the plates when finished. Have a pan with oil heated and drop in the meatballs.  Cook all sides of the meatballs and then place back onto a plate.   If you're going to have the meatballs over spaghetti do this:
Drain the oil and pour your choice of marinara sauce back into the pan.  Put the meatballs back in and stir.  Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. 

Pour of spaghetti noodles and enjoy!!


Follower Friday: Taco Soup

My AMAZING cousin Candice sent me another one of her yummy recipes.  Candice, you're my first follower to have back to back Follower Friday posts.  You're awesome :)  Comment if you're interested in doing a Follower Friday (or doing another one!)
Taco soup
1 pound ground beef
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 15-ounce can chili beans with chili gravy
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
1 14-1/2-ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 11-ounce can whole-kernel corn with sweet peppers
1 1.25-ounce package taco seasoning mix
Dairy sour cream
Brown hamburger and drain and then add all ingredients without draining the cans and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 

YUM! Perfect the Fall weather!