Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Since this is my 100th blog entry, I thought I'd talk about celebrations, more specifically, the food we serve.  Just because you have a get-together doesn't mean you have to break the bank to do it.  You just have to get creative.

I play Bunco with a wonderful group of ladies once a month.  This month was my first time to host and cook for them.  I love this type of stuff!  I'll post the pictures first and then explain what I did.

Just to label things first, in the upper picture starting from the upper left and working around like a clock.  There are three types of cookies in that bowl, the next bowl is a bacon/tomato/ranch pasta salad then on the tray are spinach/artichoke cups and taco cups, then a plate of crackers and some bacon cheese dip.  

In the bottom picture is a chicken cordon blue casserole, on the plates are mousse cups with homemade whipped cream and the others are cups of sour cream, guacamole, the chopped tomatoes & shredded lettuce are not shown.

The Chicken Cordon Blue casserole was really easy to make.  The recipe is here.  I used some of the Magic Chicken to make this.  It was really easy to put together a head of time and just wait to put the cracker crumbs on top just before baking.

The taco cups were interesting.  I took a biscuit cutter and cut rounds out of tortillas, then I pushed them down inside mini muffin tins and bake them for about ten minutes on 350 degrees.  This makes them crispy like hard taco shells.  I then made regular taco meat, adding a can of drained black beans to it.  When time to put it all together, I put a scant teaspoon of queso dip in the bottom of the cup, followed with a tablespoon or so of the taco meat.  Top with some shredded cheese.  They bake just long enough to make sure they're melted through and the cheese is melty.  I served them with guacamole, sour cream, taco sauce and shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes to put on top.

The Spinach Artichoke cups were amazingly similar.  I used Wonton wrappers and put them in the mini muffin cups the same way I did with the taco cups.  I spritzed them with Pam before baking.  Here is the recipe for them.  I prepped the shells ahead of time and prepped the stuffing early.  Just before time to serve, I used a small ice cream scoop to put the dip into the wonton cups and then baked them until warmed through.

The bacon cheese dip was the favorite of the night.  I have to admit, it was good even after it cooled off and eaten with a fork.  This would be one of those dips that would be much better served in one of those cute, little crock pots so that it stayed warm.  I did add a couple of more pieces of bacon into the recipe than it called for...I like bacon!  It was great served on crackers.

The mousse cups I initially tried to make were a failure.  It happens.  Plan B was those little Athens Tart cups made of Phillo dough.  They worked great in a pinch.  I made a boxed mousse, cheap and easy.  I put it in a Ziploc bag, cut off the corner and filled the tart cups.  Then I made homemade whipped cream in just a few minutes and spooned it on top.  Nothing fancy but quite yummy.

The pasta salad is something I played around with over the summer and there really isn't a recipe.  I boiled some bow tie pasta, drained & rinsed it.  About 3 cups total.  I mixed 1/2 cup mayo with a pack of ranch powder mix and about 3 tablespoons of milk.  I added half a dozen pieces of chopped up cooked bacon, a handful of chopped grape tomatoes, a teaspoon of garlic salt and a cup of shredded cheese.  You can make this ahead of time and if it gets a bit dry, you can add a few tablespoons of milk to it to moisten it back up.

Nothing was fancy or overly pricey but it was yummy and fun.  I wanted to have something that people could eat as their dinner and also have the options of some finger foods that could be eaten while we were playing Bunco.

When you have a party, reception, get-together or what have you, you can make some easy quick things to eat that are fun and won't break the bank!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cheap Eats

Hello everyone!  If this winter isn't bad enough yesterday, here in Indy, it was 68 degrees, sunny and beautiful out.  This morning is was like 20 degrees and snowing and sleeting and raining...I wouldn't have been surprised to look out the window and see locusts.  Before you think I'm just whining about snow, I grew up in Pennsylvania, right on Lake Erie so, snow isn't exactly a new thing.  Only in Pennsylvania when the snow starts, it stays until Spring.  This back and forth stuff here of mid 40's-high 60's for a day or two and then plunged back into the sub-zero temps and snow is just crazy.  It's no wonder everyone is sick!

Enough about the freaky Indiana weather!

Being someone who is always looking for ways to reduce the food budget as well as someone who likes to experiment with new ingredients...which can sometimes be quite expensive.  They can also be things that I want to try but am leery of paying a premium for things that my family may not like.  We all know how finicky kids can be...husbands too sometimes!  LOL

A few months ago, someone suggested a place called Angelo's.  It's not a grocery like Kroger or Marsh.  They buy things that are damaged, dented, close to date, or a store is discontinuing the item.  There is no set inventory.  They stock whatever they get that week.  

I generally do one big shop a month and have a follow up shop later in the month for fresh produce and milk.  Ok, let's be honest, if my husband or I get near a store that sells milk, we're stopping to get some.  This family goes through so much milk, we should own a cow!  Anyway, I have started to run by Angelo's before my once a month big shopping trip.  I find some really neat things in there.  

Like I said, you NEVER know what you'll find in there...here's a sample:  

Specialty oils

Vegan items

LOTS of marinades & sauces

Noodles of all kinds, standard and ethnic varieties

Everything from gravy mix to Thai quick meals

More Ethnic items

They even have gallon cans of sauces & other items

Many different juices & waters

Even cleaners and soaps

Ok...distracted by Truffles...walk away from the Truffles....LOL

They even have automotive items and some over the counter medicines

They have some freezer items too.  Breaded chicken and such

I missed getting a picture of the dairy compartment...must have been when I was sidetracked by the Truffles!  I will have you know though that as a diabetic, I walked away from the Truffles.  It was hard, but I did it!  LOL

I did pick up a few things though.

I got 8 bags of caramel Bugles, a bag of dog food, a bag of croutons, 2 bags of Quaker Popped snacks, a box of Bisquick, a tub of caramel dip for apples, a 2 pound tub of Land O Lakes, a jar of olives, a box of chocolate Mousse, a packet of icing flavoring and a couple of Saute Express packets.  The Bugles alone sell for about $1.69-$1.89 to buy them retail.  Everything I purchased was in date and with the exception of the top of the Bisquick box, all packaging was undamaged.  I don't normally buy Bisquick mix but my teen will make pancakes with a mix but not with a cookbook...I don't understand her at all!  LOL.  I purchased everything in that picture for $22.12.

Angelo's is considered a food salvage store.  I don't care for that term, because I didn't find anything that I'd call trash that was salvaged.  Whatever they call it, I'm not mad to have found a place to get food at a discounted price.

If you get the chance, check out Angelo's!  They're at 201 S. College Avenue in Indianapolis.  If you're not in Indy, check out your phone listings for Food Salvage stores.  Check it out, it may not be your cup of tea (which Angelo's had a nice selection of by the way...LOL) but if you don't go, you won't know.  Happy hunting!

Just as a side note...I think it's just wrong that I left there with dog food and not those Truffles!