Food, Nifty Thrifty, Super Deals, Thrifty Dishes

Ridiculously Easy Alfredo Pizza

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I love spending time in the kitchen, but realistically, I don’t have the time to spend hours on a given meal unless it is for a special occasion.  In addition, I’m not great at long-term meal planning and prep– I always forget to leave the meat out to thaw, and I don’t always feel like eating what I planned to make for dinner anyway.  I also like to make dishes that are versatile– this generally allows me to save money by putting a meal together using whatever ingredients I have on hand or whatever I find on sale at the grocery store for the week.

This week I made a trip out to Dollar Tree where I found a few great grocery finds that I was able to turn into a yummy, quick, easy, and thrifty pizza:

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These items cost me a total of $2.50– the Alfredo Sauce and Pizza Crust were $1.00 each, and the can of Organic Tomatoes was $0.50.  At home, I had a few other ingredients on hand from Kroger such as shredded cheese (I buy in bulk when on sale for about a $1.00 /cup) and pesto sauce (on sale for about $3.79 for 10 Oz).

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*Just a quick side note– I love pesto sauce and always keep a few jars in my pantry to add 1-2 tbs to certain dishes for an extra kick of flavor and color!

With about 5 minutes of prep time, this was the final product– it was so good and ridiculously easy to make:

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Ingredients (Yields about 2 Servings):

  • 1 ready-made 12-inch thin-crust Pizza Crust;
  • 1/2 cup of Alfredo Sauce (feel free to be more generous with your sauce if you prefer, or if using a thicker crust, but I would suggest no more than 1/4 cup more);
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Shredded Cheese, per your preference (I would suggest mozzarella or mixed cheddar);
  • 1/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes, gently strained;
  • 2 tbs of Pesto Sauce;
  • Optional Toppings:
    • dried/crushed basil leaves for garnish
    • Mushrooms (fresh, sauteed, or canned)
    • Spinach (fresh, sauteed, or canned)
    • Sliced Salami
    • Bacon (pre-made)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit;
  2. While the oven is preheating, place the pizza crust directly onto an ungreased baking sheet;
  3. Take the Alfredo Sauce and spoon it generously onto the surface of the Pizza Crust (i like to spoon my sauce all the way to the ends, but feel free to leave a half-inch circumference without sauce if you prefer);
  4. Top generously with shredded cheese;
  5. Further top the pizza with the diced tomatoes, and finish off with tiny dollops of pesto sauce.
  6. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Out of the Optional Toppings as listed above, I used only dried/crushed basil that I sprinkled over top of the pizza; however, I do make other variations of this pizza using one or more of the items in the Optional Toppings list and they are delicious!

This pizza took me less than 20 minutes total to put together, and it was a hit!  I actually served this pizza with a salad on the side that I was able to toss together while the pizza was in the oven.  My bug liked this pizza so much that he has even requested it again for dinner!

I hope this recipe has shown you that with a little creativity, even dollar store groceries can be turned into something tasty and indulgent!

Crafty, DIY, Holiday, Life, Nifty Thrifty

Our Middle Earth Christmas Tree

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Every year since my bug’s first Christmas, we’ve had a themed tree in our home for Christmas.   Since I like to have a different theme every year, I don’t like to spend a lot of money on ornaments/tree decorations.  I also like my trees to have a personalized touch as well, so we tend to make quite a bit of the decorations that we use.  I typically let my bug choose the theme of our tree, and I also let him choose what the topper will be; this year, our theme was “Middle Earth!”  This was topped off with Sauron’s helmet!

Now I will tell you that my bug and I are major J.R.R Tolkien fans and we love love love The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings (LOTR) books and movies.  I’m not kidding– my bug has the entire collection of Hobbit toy figurines, he actually had a Hobbit/LOTR birthday party, and his entire room is covered in life-size Hobbit/LOTR cardboard cutouts and decor.  My bug has been a huge fan since I introduced him to the LOTR movies a few years ago.  He’s 7 now, and although his fandom now includes Star Wars (double win for me!), Hobbit/LOTR still reigns supreme in our house.

I had so much fun putting this tree together with my bug, and although I wasn’t able to complete everything I had planned for this tree (December was a really busy month for me!), I’m still really happy with the results:

Our tree this year.  Sauron was feeling festive too! 😀20171225_091957.jpg

I am really proud of Sauron’s helmet– I made it out of a single 24×24 inch sheet of black poster board, scissors, and glue, and using only the picture below/right as a guide:

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I planned on painting it but completely ran out of time!  I’ll still finish it though and will add it to the decor in my bug’s room.

The Tree of Gondor  was painted onto black cardstock (4×5 1/2 inches) with white acrylic paint, but it could also just be printed if you don’t mind using the ink (I didn’t want to!).

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For our Rings of Power, we just took a black sharpie to a few standard gold ornaments and did the best we could to duplicate elvish font/writing:

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I also made a few other paper crafts/prints that I just tucked onto the tree.  The fans were made out of paper lunch sacks and were each about 3 inches in diameter; the print strips were just images I found on Google Images that I cropped and printed out on to regular printer paper.  The remaining ornaments were just some items I found in the bottom of my Christmas ornament box that I thought complimented the theme of the tree.

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Because I had all of the materials on hand, this project cost me $0; however, assuming I had none of the materials on hand, I estimate that the total cost would have been roughly $15, conservatively, and would include glue, scissors, paint, poster board, etc.

Making ornaments and assembling our tree is my favorite Christmas tradition– I love that we have no idea what it is ultimately going to look like until it is complete, and best of all, we are making beautiful memories every step of the way.

We love our tree so much that we still haven’t taken it down…I’ll get on it soon enough. 🙂  In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you– what kinds of holiday traditions do you have?

Food, Thrifty Dishes

Easy Burrito Bowls

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I live in good ol’ south Texas where food portions are large and in charge, and Tex-Mex is the food of our people.  That said, I will be the first to admit that many of my recipes are not for the faint of heart– I use butter, shortening, cheese, etc. and all of those kinds of things that are yummy but also generous in calories. 🙂  I think that is just common, dare I say necessary, in Southern food.

That said, this is one of those Tex-Mex meals that can easily be modified to trim down said calories.  Best of all, it is one of those quick and thrifty meals that I can easily whip up within 20 minutes or less…and yes, my bug loves it so I’m going to say that it is kid-approved!

Ingredients:

(Yields 2 Servings)

  • 1 cup of cooked Rice (feel free to substitute with Brown Rice or Quinoa)
  • 1/2 pound of Ground Turkey (feel free to substitute with Ground Chicken or Beef if preferred, or omit altogether and substitute with veggie crumbles for a vegetarian/vegan alternative)
  • 1 cup of canned Black Beans (feel free to substitute with Pinto or Re-fried if preferred)
  • 1 cup of canned Corn
  • 1/2 cup of Salsa (Red or Green is fine, but I typically use Green Salsa because it is my favorite)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Optional Toppings:
    • Sliced Avocado or Guacamole
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Sour Cream
    • Tortilla Chips
    • Pickled Jalapenos

Instructions:

  1. Begin cooking Rice according to package instructions.
  2. On a separate burner, saute Ground Turkey in a skillet over medium-high heat until fully cooked.  Season with Salt & Pepper and set aside.
  3. Heat Beans and Corn in separate containers according to package instructions (I normally just toss them into the microwave to heat them up).
  4. When all ingredients are fully cooked/heated, begin assembly of bowls– beginning with 1/2 cup of rice for the bottom layer, followed by a layer of 1/2 cup of Beans, 1/2 cup of Corn, and 1/4 pound (1/2 cup) of Ground Turkey on top.
  5. Top with 1/4 cup of Salsa.
  6. Stop here and enjoy, OR join the Dark Side and top with additional ingredients as desired 😀

As pictured above, I’ve topped my bowl with Tortilla Chips, Avocado, Shredded Cheese, and a dollop of Sour Cream.  I also may or may not have added some extra Green Salsa after the picture was taken.  😀  What can I say?  I love spicy food!

Aside from the fact that this dish tastes yummy, I love this dish because it is so versatile– I’ve made at least a dozen different variations of this dish using a variety of ingredients (including leftover ingredients) that I’ve had on hand, and each time it comes out just a satisfying as the last.

Until next time– I’d love to hear from you!  What variations would you recommend?