Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BBQ Pork Burgers

I opened the freezer yesterday looking for something to make for dinner and realized that we have an overabundance of ground pork!  Ground pork always seems to be marked down at our local grocery store so we often pick up a pack or two, which is great, however we don't use it often because I really don't know what to do with it!  We've used it in chili, we've made meatballs, but other than that I've been at a loss.

I did some internet searching yesterday and found a Barbecue Pork Burger recipe from Martha Stewart that I was interested in trying.  I had some potatoes to use up for a potato salad and some cole slaw mix to use as well so a cookout type meal sounded perfect.  I was a little bit anxious about using pork in a burger though... I knew it wouldn't taste like the real thing (beef burgers) and didn't really know if we would like it or not but with so much pork to play around with I figured it was worth a try.

We were not disappointed!  In fact, I will add this recipe to my rotation and make it again, even if I have ground beef in the house!  These were so flavorful, moist, and delicious.  We served them on wheat bread.  I covered mine with cole slaw and my husband covered his in barbecue sauce.  We had potato salad and cole slaw on the side.  It was a quick, easy, yummy dinner, and perfect for warm weather!

I used the George Foreman grill because I am totally not brave enough to use a real grill.  That is definitely my husband's job!  But you could cook yours either way.

You can view the original recipe here.
Here's what I did...

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork (I think mine was just a little over a pound but close enough)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • Heat George Foreman Grill (I sprayed it with cooking spray first)
  • Gently mix all ingredients in a bowl to combine (Martha suggests you don't overwork meat or it will make the burgers too dense) (I used my hands)
  • Form meat into 4 equal sized patties, 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick
  • Grill for a few minutes on each side until cooked through (my meat thermometer says pork needs to be 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done)
  • Serve 'em up as you like!  

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Money-Making Shopping (and/or Watching TV) Apps!

Whether you're a couponer or not, you still shop.  Whether shopping for groceries, clothes, books, or whatever, you're spending money.  Wouldn't it be nice to make a little money in the process?  Even if you don't feel like you have the time to clip coupons to save the money in advance, you can still get a little back in the end... very easily!  Basically, these apps are offering you FREE MONEY.  That's not something you want to pass up.

Here are some of my favorite websites/apps for making a little money while you spend.

This is my absolute favorite money making app right now.  Over the course of the last several weeks I've gotten close to $15 back from purchases I've made.  I've gotten 100% back on coffee, 50% back on pull-ups, 10% back on any brand crackers, 10% back on any brand ice cream.  All I had to do was make the purchases, upload pictures of my receipts, wait a couple of days for them to process, and pick my payout method.  You can get paid via paypal or check.  You also get points for every receipt you upload, even if it's not one you get money for and those points can be redeemed for charitable donations.  They post new offers weekly (on Thursdays) and not everyone gets the same thing.  They sometimes offer you a higher percentage back on offers that you are willing to share with your friends on facebook.  For instance, if you go to my facebook page today, you'll see that today I shared an offer for 100% back on any brand coffee, up to $3 (weirdly, the picture is of a cat).  You can claim that and it will get added to your account.  100% back!  See what I mean by free money?!  And free coffee?!  You also get bonuses for referring your friends to Endorse.  So if you sign up through my link, I get credit, and if your friends sign up through your link you get credit!  You can sign up for Endorse here.  If you feel totally overwhelmed with the options out there and want to pick one to start, I would choose Endorse.

With Ibotta, there are little tasks you complete in order to get money back for purchasing items.  For instance you might earn 25 cents for watching a little video, another 25 cents for taking a poll, and another 25 cents for sharing the offer on facebook.  After you purchase the item you'll upload a picture of your receipt and scan the product's barcode to confirm your purchase.  You can get your payouts via paypal or school donation.  Like Endorse, one of the payout options is paypal but you have to have a balance of $5 to cash out with paypal whereas Endorse does not have a minimum cash out balance.  Also, similarly to Endorse, they offer referral bonuses.  You can sign up for Ibotta here.

I've gotten some really great payouts from Savingstar.  You have to accrue $5 in your account before you get paid out but some of the offers give you $5 (for instance if you spend $20 on french fries you get $5 back) so it can add up quickly.  With this program, you just register all of your store cards and when you make the purchase in the store, using your card, it automatically registers in the Savingstar system.  No receipts to upload!  I typically activate ever offer they have just in case I end up buying something unexpectedly.  You can sign up for Savingstar here.

Sadly I always forget to use this app!  With this one you just check in when you're actually at a specific store and you earn "kicks" for shopping, scanning items, making purchases, etc.  You also may get offered special discounts or coupons while you're actually in the store.  You can redeem your "kicks" for giftcards and that sort of thing.  You can sign up for Shopkick here.

Now, if you really don't shop, you can also just stay home and earn rewards for watching TV... NO JOKE!  Check out the Viggle app here.  I'm a big fan of this one as well!

Also, keep in mind that many stores have rewards cards that often offer you special discounts and sometimes even coupons you can load to your card from their website.  All you do is scan your card at the store and your coupons come right off your order!  Look closely at what your stores have to offer!

And if you're making online purchases, of course, always use Ebates.  I have a blog post on that here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Strong (at Shaws)

This past week was a difficult one.  I'm sure you can imagine the smiles that came to our faces when we walked into our local grocery store and found the store director up on a ladder hanging a huge American flag in the entry way with the help of two store employees!

Mike Garbino, Wayne Bryant (store director), Dwight Ramsdell

Thanks Shaws in Burlington, MA for helping us stay BOSTON STRONG!

This is my absolute favorite store to shop at.  The employees go above and beyond every single day.  They are cheerful, helpful, and overall just great.  They deserved a shout out anyway, but this was the icing on the cake.  If you are local and don't already shop at Shaws in Burlington, you should start!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

I pack my husband's lunch daily.  It's kind of a big deal to me... a labor of love as they say.  I am sort of picky about the kind of lunches I pack.  Maybe it's a little bit obsessive but I try to pack one item for each hour of the work day... okay that's weird, I know.  He's been working long days lately and I've only been including about eight things so I need to step it up a bit but basically, I just want him to feel satisfied all day long.  Lunch usually includes a drink, sandwich, granola bar type thing, fruit snack type things, fruits and/or veggies, crackers and/or cookies, etc.  Normal lunchbox-y things.

Packing lunches is one of the things that makes me really thankful that my eyes were opened to the world of using coupons and not spending unnecessarily.  I cannot imagine how much money it would cost me to fill his lunchbox with at least eight items for which I paid full price!  There is absolutely no way I could justify paying full price for lunchbox snacks.  For instance, it amazes me that you get so few granola bars in a box that costs so much... especially when you multiply the cost of that box by four weeks in a month, 12 months in a year, etc etc etc.  So I try to stock up on things like granola bars, fruit snacks, and peanut butter when it is free after coupons or pretty close to it.  That way I don't get stuck having to pay full price.  But, sometimes I run out when the sale cycles do not cooperate with my lunch packing needs!  It's these times that I'm forced to get creative and turn to the internet (namely Pinterest) to come up with a way to make what I need by myself, with things I already have in the house, for less money than what I would spend driving to the store and buying a box.

You can see my post on homemade fruit roll ups here.

This past week I embarked on a homemade granola bar recipe finding mission.  I came up with a few possibilities and chose to go with this one for my first try.  I needed a recipe that called for things I already had in the house so that I wouldn't have to spend a penny!  When these first came out of the oven I wasn't convinced they were what I was hoping for, but after cooling off, and giving them a taste test, I was very impressed!  They are chewy, hearty, and yummy.  I'll continue to do some recipe hunting, but in the meantime, we like these and will definitely make them again.  You can find the original recipe here.  Here's what I did...

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats 
  • 1 1/4 cups multigrain cheerios (I just used what I had, original recipe called for any whole grain cereal)
  • 3/4 cup chopped peanut m&m's (I just used what I had, original recipe called for 1 cup chocolate chips)
  • (original recipe called for 1/2 cup wheat germ, optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In large bowl, cream brown sugar, white sugar, and softened butter with electric mixer until fluffy
  • Add honey, vanilla, and egg and mix well
  • Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt
  • Stir in remaining ingredients (oatmeal, cereal, m&m's)
  • Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9 x13 pan (it was a little sticky so I sprayed a spatula with cooking spray and then resorted to using my hands)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes (it did not look or feel done, but firmed up nicely... you don't want to bake too long that it gets crunchy on the edges)

The original recipe here also gives instructions for cooking in the microwave and some other mix-in options.

We've been storing these in a tupperware type container on the counter and I wrap one in some wax paper and add to the lunchbox in the morning.

Let me know how yours turn out!  If you have a favorite granola bar or lunch box treat recipe, I would love you to share it.  The more options the better!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kool-Aid Paints (and a Kool-Aid Color Cheat Sheet!)

Kool-Aid Paints

Last year I got a LOT of Kool-Aid for free.  A real lot... It was a deal I couldn't pass up so I kind of went overboard!

So, obviously I've spent some time looking for ideas of what to do with all of the Kool-Aid.  I think I've only make it to drink once since then!  I think it's way more fun to use for crafty things instead!  (Here's a post on Kool-Aid playdough).  

I've been wanting to do some painting with my daughter lately but paint is not something I regularly have in the house.  Given that it seems like something I should be able to make with things on hand rather than paying money for it, I thought about what I had in my house and started searching the internet for ideas.  I came across a super easy recipe and quickly realized I had waited way too long to make this!

This was SO easy and obviously made with stuff I had on hand.  Even if you don't have Kool-Aid, I guarantee you can pick up a few packets for cheaper than what you'd pay for real paint.  And honestly, the scent of this stuff was AMAZING and actually a little therapeutic I think.  If I could somehow blog a smell, I totally would.  These were so yummy smelling.  I will even admit that I tasted a little bit... trust me, it doesn't taste as good as it smells... 

1 packet of Kool-Aid per color
1/2 teaspoon of water per color

Mix Kool-Aid and water
Paint with a paintbrush or cotton swabs

Could it get any easier?  

A couple of notes:

Kool-Aid does stain so we worked on a plastic tray and put newspapers down to dry our paintings.  It really isn't messy paint and you only have a little of each color at a time so there was no mess involved here with the exception of Kool-Aid stained hands which washed off in the bathtub.

Kool-Aid colors can be a little bit deceiving.  Grape looks like black, tropical punch is a red despite the blue packaging, and pink lemonade really makes a nice pink color.  Here are some others...



ice blue raspberry
black cherry
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