Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recipe: Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I remember my momma making this growing up. It seemed like such a treat considering how poor we were back then. But now I know's fancy AND it's relatively cheap! I haven't made this in years and just remembered it out of the blue last week and suddenly got a huge craving! I pulled it straight out of the classic red and white Betty Crocker cookbook.


8 ounces dried linquine*
2 6 1/2 oz cans minced clams
Half-and-half, cream, or milk*
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T margarine or butter (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley (I forgot to buy this!)
1/4 cup dry white wine**
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese*


  1. Cook linguine. Drain; keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, strain juice from canned clams and save 1 can's worth of juice. Add enough half-and-half, cream, or milk to clam juice to equal 2 cups.
  3. For sauce, cook onion and garlic in margarine or butter until tender, but not brown. Stir in flour, oregano, salt and pepper until well coated. Add milk/clam juice mixture all at once. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Cook for one more minute. Stir in clams, parsley, and wine. Heat through. Serve over warm linguine. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

* I used gluten-free pasta, gluten-free flour and soy-milk in my subsitutions. I left off the Parmesan cheese from mine, but N loved it.

** Since I can't have alcohol, I searched a bit for some wine substitutions. I read somewhere that using lemon flavored mineral water worked. So I tried it. It was...meh...okay. So I put in a splash of lemon juice. A little better! While this works in a pinch, I still wish I had a sauvignon blanc to use. I'll do this the right way when non-preggers, but it worked for this momma's craving.

For more yummy and economical recipes, visit the Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip - 1/26/09

So here I am at Week Two of menu planning. Is it bad to say that I'm a little surprised I'm here? LOL! Budgeting has never been a strength of mine and I usually quit before I get going. But actually, I had fun with the menu planning and I was really proud of myself last week with only going over my $75 budget by 58 cents! Which was wonderful motivation to give this week another try. Honestly, I would have stayed under budget, but Monkey's Lactaid Milk wasn't at Target...they were out. So I headed to Sprouts and it's about $1 more expensive per half gallon there. Ouch! Oh well. I'm not terribly upset considering it was my first week's shot at this.

This is a new week and new menu has been created! So here's this week's list:


Generic Saltines 1.09
Apple Juice 2.19
Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire 1.89
Generic Lemon Mineral Water 1.39
1 can Chef Boyardee Ravioli .94
1 can Diced Tomatoes .59
2 jars Barilla Pasta Sauce 4.18
Generic Honey Nut Cheerios 4.39
1 bag Starbucks Whole Beans 7.04
Nature's Own Wheat Bread 2.79
Honey Crisp Apples 4.38
Green Grapes 2.29
Generic Frozen Peas 1.79
Gluten-free Frozen Waffles 1.84
12 pack Sprite 3.00
1 gallon Milk 2.59
1/2 gallon Lactaid Milk 3.49
Generic OJ 1.99
Kraft Block Cheddar 2.00
Kraft Shred Cheddar 2.00
Right Guard 3.34
Pantene Hairspray 3.49
Double Roll Bounty Papertowels 2.99
12 pack Cottonelle 6.99

Total with coupons and Tax $69.48


Bulk Corn Meal - 1.37

Total with Tax $1.37

Grand Total $70.85

This Week's Challenges:

Toiletries and dry goods - A nice little chunk was taken out of this week's budget for toiletries and paper goods. But since these items last awhile, I hopefully won't see them on another grocery list for another few weeks. Half way through the store, I realized things were going to be really tight and I debated about putting the Sprite and Starbucks back. But since these were N's only two requests, I went ahead and kept them. He doesn't really ask for much, so I try to accomodate him when I can. So I took a few other things off my list to counter-balance and it worked out. (Drinkable yogurt to try on Monkey, hair stuff for me.)

No Proteins - You'll notice there is no meat in this week's list. We still have meat left over in the freezer from last month, so it's working out. While not a challenge now, I have a feeling this will catch up and bite me later.

This Week's Learned Lessons:

Don't under-estimate the list - Even though I had two meals from last week that didn't get made, thus going on this week's menu plan, I thought I'd have more wiggle room in the budget. The paper goods took that up pretty quickly. :-(

Impulse purchases - I CAN be disciplined about these when I really want to be. You'll notice NO chocolate this week's list. I'm rationing out all the bulk chocolate I purchased last week. I'm allowed nibbles a day instead of handfuls.

Improvise - My original menu plan was to make lasagne. But I couldn't find my gluten-free lasagne noodles at Target, Sprouts, OR Tom Thumb. So I opted for bulk corn meal to make home made polenta instead. I'm planning on baking and then layering like noodles in the lasagne. While I've never done this before AND it might be a total bust, it's keeping me in budget this week AND I didn't have to make an extra trip to yet another store.

Credits at Sprouts - Did you know you get a .05 credit for every bag you bring in and use? Or even if you don't use a bag? So I just took my little bulk bag of corn meal (originally 1.42) and by just not putting it into a Sprouts bag saved me 5 cents! Not a biggie, but I'm thinking, it adds up over time. Not to mention it helps me with my plan to Go Green-er. I have my own shopping bags, I just need to get in the habit of using them.

On a final note...

You'll notice that I attempt to put the brand name on the line items and generic if it's generic. For a couple reasons. One, sometimes the name brand is on sale and actually cheaper than the generic. (Kraft cheese this week.) Secondly, there are some things that I'm just really attached to the name brand (Pantene Hairspray) and don't really want to go generic. And lastly, there are some name brands I MUST stick with simply because they are gluten-free (Lea and Perrins Wooster, Barilla pasta sauce). Perhaps some of this will change as I go along, but I want to note that I'm still staying in budget without going all generic all the time.

I have a few dollars leftover as of right now, so if something little crops up, hopefully I won't go over budget this week. All in all, I'm happy for two weeks in a row!

To see other women involved in the Weekly Shopping Trip from Grocery Cart Challenge, so here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 1/26/09

I think last week I said that Menu Plan Monday was a Grocery Cart Challenge thing. It's not. It's actually an OrgJunkie thing. I didn't know. Oops. Visit here to visit the original place. AND they're having an exciting give-away too!

Here's what the W household has planned for dinner this week:

Monday: Linguini with White Clam Sauce
Tuesday: Lunchmeat Sandwiches
Wednesday: Oven-Fried Chicken, GF/DF Green Bean Casserole
Thursday: Popcorn
Friday: Polenta Lasagne
Saturday: Baked Potatoes w/Chili
Sunday: Peach French Toast Bake (breakfast at church), Probably out somewhere

Couple things:

I am not listing most of the breakfasts, as it's mostly get what you can get as you're running out the door. (And it's all typical stuff: Pop-Tarts, eggs in a tortilla wrap, frozen waffles, fresh fruit, etc.)

Two of my meals last week didn't actually get made because two other meals were SO BIG, that leftovers lasted longer than anticipated. So you'll be seeing those pop up again in the next week or so.

I plan on sharing the recipe for tonight's dinner (linguine with white clam sauce) later this week, which turned out, in one word: YUM-O!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Recipe: Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup

This is one of my favorite soups for when the chilly weather hits. And it's SO easy! I'm not one to follow recipes verbatim...they really are just guidelines, so a lot of these measurements are guess-timates. Do what works for you!

Italian Sausage and Bean Soup

1 package of Jimmy Dean spicy breakfast sausage (it's gluten-free and most Italian sausages are not)
1 can garbanzo or cannelini beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced fresh yellow squash
1 cup diced fresh zucchini
1/2 cup frozen spinach
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
4 cups water
Parmesan, Reggiano or Manchengo cheese shavings (I don't do this because of my dairy allergy, but it sure does make a pretty meal!)

Brown sausage and onion in large stock pot. Drain and pat dry to eliminate as much grease as possible. Add remaining ingredients (EXCEPT squash and zucchini) and bring to boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add squash and zucchini and simmer for additional 15 or until the vegetables are al dente. Remove bay leaf. Top with shaved cheese. Serve with grilled polenta or corn muffins.

This always makes enough for N and I to have dinner, lunch leftovers and usually another meal or two to freeze for later.

For additional yummy and economic recipes, visits the girls over at the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip - 1/19/09

So God has been convicting me lately to become a better steward of what monies He provides us, so this is my first week to actually implement two new habits that will assist in that.

If you read my post yesterday, you'll know that I've been inspired by Gayle over at Grocery Cart Challenge. This is my first week to attempt applying two of her money-saving methods: weekly menu planning, and weekly shopping trips. So yesterday I sat down and did my menu plan for the week and last night I went shopping for all the ingredients I was lacking.

My goal is to get our weekly shopping budget around $75, eventually lowering it more, if possible. I'm not familiar enough with budgeting this area of our lives to know what works yet. If you read my previous post, you'll probably glean that we have never had a grocery budget. I'm a little embarrassed to confess that we're rather spoiled in that area of our finances. We also have a few challenges, personal to my diet that I'll list later, so this will be a lesson in what works for us.

After creating this week's menu, I wrote down every ingredient I would need to create all of the food from our Weekly Menu. Some of which I had in hand, some I did not. The items I did not have, I put on my grocery list.

This is what I came up with...along with a few impulse buys. (I'm being gentle on myself since it's my first week.) :-)


Swiffer 360 $4.29
Hormel Bacon 3.69
2 bags Dole Lettuce 4.48
2 cans generic black olives 2.18
Generic tomato sauce 0.47
Generic diced tomatoes 0.59
Mission corn tortillas 1.99
2 cans generic diced green chiles 1.34
Bulk lemon drops 0.82
Generic Frosted Mini-Wheats 4.83
Generic decaf black tea 2.79
Decaf Constant Comment 2.19
Generic green beans 0.69
Del-Monte Peaches 1.47
Spam 2.44
2 cans Starkist tuna 2.14
Small Gala apples 3.24
CF Coke 4.00
Can minced clams 1.59

TOTAL $46.28


1 lb Bulk chocolate cashews 4.84
1 lb Bulk chocolate raisins 2.59
Rice Dream 3.29
Tofu 1.69
1 pint blackberries 1.50
yellow bell pepper 0.69
1 pint grape tomatoes 1.50
2.34 lb yellow onions 1.17
1.89 lb oranges 0.93
2.45 lb Russet bakers 1.69
1 quart strawberries 1.50
1 Texas grapefruit 0.34

TOTAL $21.72


Considering I didn't want to spend more than $75 this week, I'm happy. But...I have some challenges that I need to overcome and obviously some areas I need more discipline.

Two pounds of bulk chocolate candy? What on earth?! I'm blaming it on hormonal cravings.


Not making a thorough enough list. I realized tonight after I got home that I will need milk for the Monkey before the week is out, so I'll need to make another trip for that. I'm praying that I don't make anymore impulse purchases while I'm there.

Dietary restrictions. Budgeting with my dietary restrictions (gluten and dairy allergies) makes a tiny grocery budget something that's just near impossible. A box of simple gluten-free water crackers cost close to $5 for me. A loaf of bread, close to $7. Dairy-free and gluten-free ice cream $6. So instead of expecting myself to be a Gayle, I'm just going to allow myself some slack for what works for me and see where I can trim later.

Limited stores. Gayle works with outlet bakeries and outlet grocery stores that sell day old breads, or dented can foods. Since there aren't any of those type of stores in my area, I have to work with what I have. From what I can see, Target, Wal-Mart and Sprouts are the best options for me to use without coupons. Because I truly just don't have time or energy to clip. (Or patience!)

I full realize that much of my expensive items (meat) I already had stashed in my freezer, so I'm anticipating next week being a bit more of a struggle, as I'll have more of those items on my list.


Tom Thumb is WAAAY expensive. I shop there all the time out of convenience and habit. Wow - have I been getting ripped! But simply going across the street to Target and Sprouts, I think I saved quite a bit of money. So my shopping trip is 10 minutes longer because of traffic lights. Not a deal breaker to me if I budget my time wisely.

Sprouts has GREAT produce and bulk bins. I was surprised and impressed with the quality of the produce at Sprouts and the cost! I think it surprised me because I always consider health food stores as pricey. But strawberries and grape tomatoes were HALF what I would have paid at Tom Thumb and even Target. It also contains the added convenience of providing a great selection of gluten-free foods, which are hard to get at regular grocery stores.

Fun stuff. I know myself well enough to know that must allow this in the diet or I'll end up making terrible impulse purchases later. Hopefully, I can get more disciplined about them as I go, so I'm not going to beat myself up over it today. But obviously this area needs a little tweaking. LOL!

So that is my experience for the week. I would like this to become a habit. I'm feeling very convicted that this is an area that would please God if I take seriously. I'm hoping that eventually, I can start sharing some of the recipes that I utilize and with that, create an environment of sharing and support with others that have the same goal of saving money.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 1/19/09

I found a blog about a year ago, called The Grocery Cart Challenge. You might have noticed on my sidebar. Although I've been a regularly inspired reader, rarely have I put her posts and money saving methods into practice.

For any of you that really know me, I'm a total sucker for a good bargain. I LOVE saving money! I have no shame in that the majority of my clothes are from TJMaxx, Marshalls, or even second hand stores. A pair of my favorite Gap stretch chinos I bought at a resale shop for $1.00.

But one area of my life that I really have absolutely NO discipline with is our grocery budget. Perhaps because I grew up in a pretty poor family, barely surviving with the help of WIC. I remember many times, our milk was powdered or our cheese came in huge 5 lb blocks. Perhaps it was because when I finally got out of my parents's home, I paid the rent by working in the food service industry. I worked at several places where I acquired a fussy palate for good food and wine. Either way, I love my food and if I want it, I get it. The unfortunate thing is that N is the same way. We love cooking and trying new things! But rarely do we budget what we're cooking or what we desire. It's one of the bad things about being in a double-income home: we have the income to do whatever we want when it comes to food.

The more I read Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge, the more I'm convicted that I need to start applying some of her methods to our household. So yesterday I decided that this was the week to start, at least attempting, to create a weekly menu plan. This is huge for me! Usually dinner consists of take-out, ordering in, fixing something I have no ingredients for, thus an extra trip to the grocery store to get needed ingredients, along with a bunch of impulse buys.

So I took an inventory of what we already had in the cupboards, fridge, and freezer and tried to create a menu plan based on what I found in there. This is what I've come up with for this week's menu:

Gluten-free oatmeal with stewed cranberries and apples
Cold cereal and fresh fruit
Banana bread
Frozen waffles with stewed cranberries and apples
Eggs & Bacon
Peach French Toast Bake

Leftovers from the previous night, along with fresh fruit and lunch meat for my snacks. (I need to eat every two hours or I get nauseaus.)

Hot wings, celery, carrots
Italian Sausage and Bean Soup, cornbread
Mexican Chicken Skillet, corn tortilla chips
Popcorn (Thursday is our non-dinner night)
Blackened Shrimp over Creamy Polenta
Linguini with Clam Sauce

Based on this menu plan, much of what I needed I have in stock, so it's just a matter of purchasing the lacking menu ingredients. Tune in tomorrow, where I share my grocery list. Not that it's that terribly exciting, but if I put it out there for all of you to see, it's making me accountable. And when it comes to this area of our finances, I really need some accountability.

I guess what I'm kind of hoping for is for some of you girl friends to do this along with me and we can come up with ideas and be a sounding board for some experienced advice. If any of you are interested in trying this along with me, let me know. And just to ease the pressure...I'm just sticking my toe in the water. I can't guarantee I'm going to stick with this, but I'm just feeling convicted to at least try. :-)