Saturday, November 24, 2007

After Turkey... Turkey Soup!

There is something about cooking and eating a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving that fills the basic need of family love and comfort in all of us. It could be the up coming holidays, the cooler weather or the fact that it's getting darker earlier, but somehow the smell of turkey roasting in the oven is the smell of memories and home! After our Thanksgiving dinner a tradition for our family is the making of turkey soup! There is something about this soup that is healing to the body and soul. A virus wouldn't dare touch you after eating this medicinal soup. I also equate the making of it to the making of a piece of art. I never use a recipe. I just keep adding and tasting in secession, little by little, until I've created a masterpiece of flavors which can change from year to year. Here is the "recipe" as follows... first pick the meat off the carcass (for leftovers) and then place the carsass in a large dutch oven/stock pot and cover with water. Bring this to a boil and reduce to a simmer adding a cup of white wine, a tablespoon of Italian seasonings and two bay leaves. Simmer uncovered for 4 hours occasionally pushing the carcass down little by little until it's completely submerged into the water. After 4 hours strain the meat and bones (through a colander) saving the broth and pouring it back into the pan. Allow the bones and meat to cool down so you can pick through them to get the best tidbits of meat (light and dark) to add back into the broth. Place this mixture of meat and broth into the refrigerator over night. The next day (day after Thanksgiving) scrape the fat off the top of the mixture and discard it. Bring the broth to a boil again and add chopped vegetables of your choice, such as, yellow onion, 3-4 cloves garlic, carrots, celery, corn, green pepper, 14 oz can of tomatoes, etc... (about a cup of each) and some additional chicken broth as needed. Spice your soup with fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper, tabasco, soy sauce, thyme, curry powder, sage, Italian seasoning, etc... Sprinkle these ingredients a little at a time and adjust them to your taste buds. You may also add a 1/4 cup rice or 1/2 cup of pasta if you'd like. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes and serve with bread or rolls and butter. This makes a great day after Thanksgiving meal or you may freeze it to eat later. Enjoy!

Coming soon... A Cheap Chic Christmas!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Homemade Pizza Margarita! Now that's Italian and Cheap!

One of the cheap chic dinners that we made when I was visiting my parents in Arizona was a homemade pizza margarita and fresh chopped green salad. We bought a bag of pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe's for $1.19. You can use any pre-made pizza dough from the grocery store.
Dad rolled the dough out on a floured cutting board. Then he transferred the dough to a pizza stone (or cookie sheet) that had been sprinkled with corn meal. Actually we made the mistake of spreading the sauce on before transferring the dough to the pizza stone... oops!
This made it more difficult to transfer the dough to the stone but we managed to carefully do it. So, be sure to place the dough on the stone (or sheet) before spreading the sauce on it. We used my sister's homemade sauce (recipe below) but you could use a bottled sauce like "Ragu", etc...
Mom grated about a cup of mozzarella. It's cheaper to grate it yourself than buy the pre-grated stuff and it's good exercise, ha!
Mom chopped some fresh basil (about $.79) to sprinkle on top along with the cheese. You've got to have fresh basil for pizza margarita. Well okay, if you really can't get fresh then you can use the dried kind, but it's not as good.

Then place the pizza in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. Double check the temp/time on the pizza dough directions just incase I'm wrong. While the pizza is baking, chop up a nice green salad. You may slice up some fresh tomatoes on top of the pizza before putting it in the oven or put them on after it comes out of the oven which is my preference, or leave them off all together. Once you've finished chopping the salad, it should be almost time for the pizza to come out of the oven, oh boy, oh boy!
Now doesn't that look marvelous?!!! And the smell! This was so exciting! It's ready to cut!
And there you have it, an awesome, healthy cheap chic Italian meal!
Two gorgeous pieces of homemade pizza, a beautiful crisp salad with your favorite dressing and a lovely glass of vino! Yummy! You could make a few pizza's and have a party! Everyone would love it and it would be cheap! This pizza probably cost around $3.00. You can't beat it!
Note: I found some awesome pizza pans at Wal-Mart! Look for the ones with the holes in the bottom. This allows the crust to get crispy. They run about 7.99 for a package of two and are well worth the investment!
Toni's sauce recipe coming soon!

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Parents the King and Queen of Cheap but always Chic Decor!

My parents are so crafty and talented. Many times when I was growing up my parents would buy "fixer upper" homes and with mom's imagination and dad's muscle they would transform these homes into something one could have never imaged at first sight. They should have had their own HGTV show back in the 60's and 70's. Anyway now they have transformed their current home in Sun Lakes Arizona into a cozy little "shabby chic" cottage with the use of a little paint, garage sale and fleamarket finds and lots of imagination! I only wish they had taken some "before" pictures because there is quite a difference in the way their home looks today compared to a year ago when they first moved in. Mom and dad you rule!
This is looking towards the front door from the far side of the living room. Look at the beautiful parkay floor that my dad had just laid down before I arrived!
A view of the sectional sofa in their living room.
The dining room with a built in hutch. Mom and dad painted it a creamy yellow and green. This dining set was left behind when they bought the house. It was an ugly brown with pink crushed velvet cushions. They painted it white and recovered the seats with double stuffing and a cottage motif.
Looking from another angle at the living room. My Mom painted this cabinet green and hand painted roses on it. The chair on the right came from an estate sale and so did the tables which were painted white.
Newly painted and remodeled kitchen. My dad took out the 70's double oven and replaced the space with shelves for a microwave and baskets creating more storage space.

Next they will be re-doing the bedrooms and bathrooms. Then next fall it will be time for a yard makeover. Can't wait to see it guys! xxoo!

Adventures in Arizona

I had such a fun time in Arizona staying with my parent's at their cute little "cottage" in Sun Lake's retirement community. It was like going back to my second childhood. I got lots of love and attention. During the day my mom and I would shop around at the antique malls, Susie's Deals (clothes for $5.99 and under, wow) and the craft stores. Then we would go to Trader Joe's or the grocery store and pick up stuff for dinner. We prepared many cheap chic healthy meals in the evening. I even lost 5 pounds following my mom's type 2 diabetes diet, of course I have now gained them back, damn it! We would watch T.V. shows at night like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. This was unusual for me because I don't have T.V. at my house. We haven't had it for over 4 years now. It was one of the things we cut back on to save money when my husband was layed off in 2002. We can't get reception unless we have cable or Direct T.V. so we haven't had anything except the occasional movie rentals. It was a real treat to watch all of these shows. We also watched a lot of HGTV. It was awesome. It's probably a good thing I don't have television because I could easily spend all my time in front of the tube and never get anything done. The Internet is hard enough to tear myself away from. Anyway I had a great time out there in cactus land, the land of the huge pre-historic cockroaches. Thank God I only saw one while I was there and that sucker had to have been at least 4 inches long. Mom and I had to scream for dad to come to our rescue and kill it and get rid the carcus. That's one thing I do NOT miss about Arizona. The weather was beautiful while I was there. Only a couple of days where the temps were in the 90's. The rest of the time it was 70's and 80's! Amazing for this time of year. I thought it would be much hotter. I spent some quality time with my sister Toni and her wonderful family. I was treated like royalty and practically waited on hand and foot. They took me out to lunches and dinners at cool little restaurants. I definitely got a taste of the "NON cheap chic" lifestyle for a few days. Thanks so much to all of them for making me feel so special and loved! Well anyway I mentioned the cheap chic healthy dinners that mom, dad and I prepared so I'll be sharing some of those recipes with you all. My parents thought it was funny that I wanted to take pictures of each step of our dinner preparations so that I could post them on my blog. They started getting used to posing their hands with spoons and knifes, etc... while making our dinners, lol! Stay tuned for some good and always cheap menus and recipes. It's good to be home but I do miss my mummy and dada.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Arizona Here I Come!

Antique Photography Store
Originally uploaded by videoal.
Yes I am still busted but I have an opportunity to visit Arizona and teach some of my collage classes. I'll get a little vacation and thank God it's not too hot there yet. I'll get to see family and make a little extra moola teaching my classes! So... sing it with me every one... "I'm leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again" (that's for all you old school peeps), actually I do know when I'll be back, April 23rd. So stay tuned here at cheap chic lifestyle blog.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Healthy Stir Fry for about $2.00 per Person!

Tonight I didn't feel like cooking. The weather is getting warmer and it can get pretty hot standing over a stove for long periods of time. I had thawed out 2 boneless chicken breasts (Costco) so I was racking my brain for recipe ideas. I thought about making a salad with grilled chicken but I wanted something more than a salad. Then I remembered that I had a 16oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer and a jar of stir fry sauce from Trader Joe's in the cupboard. That's it! We'll have stir fried chicken and veggies on top of steamed rice. It's easy, it's fast and it's healthy. Best of all... you guessed it, it's CHEAP!

This is what you'll need and how it's prepared...

1 lb of Boneless Chicken Breasts (cut into bite size pieces) Marinate about 1 hour in 3 tbsp Soy Sauce, 1 tbsp Oil (any), 2 Cloves Minced Garlic and 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional). Stir Fry on medium high until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Transfer to a bowl.

1 16oz Bag of Frozen Mixed Vegetables (any kind) Steam in Microwave according to package directions. Drain off excess water. Stir fry in the same pan for about 3 minute on medium high.

Add Chicken back into the pan with the veggies and mix together.

Stir about 1/2 jar (6oz) of Stir Fry Sauce (any kind). I used Ginger Scallion Thai Stir Fry Sauce from Trader Joe's ($1.99)

Cook a Cup of white Rice according to package directions. Makes about 3 cups cooked.

Viola!!! (That's my new word, ha!)

Place the rice on cute little plates (like the one above - from a thrift store) and spoon stir fry mixture on top.

Garnish with Chopped Green Onion, Fresh Cilantro, Slivered Almonds or anything you'd like! I bet this would even taste good with a few bits of pineapple...yum!

Makes about 6 servings

This was so satisfying and I only spent a few minutes at the stove. A nice glass of Gallo Sauvignon Blanc ($5.99 per 1.5L bottle) goes very well with this dish. It cut the spice and cooled the palate! Oh my my aren't I quite the gourmet!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Getting Ready for Easter

I did some Easter shopping today at where else... the Dollar Tree! I mean really why would anyone go anywhere else? (note: I think Dollar Tree should start paying me for advertising) I found Easter egg dye and even real eggs! They also had the cutest ceramic crosses! The sign above the crosses said "Starving Artist". Now I know, if all else fails, I can make art for the Dollar Tree ha! I got lots of Easter basket goodies too. Time to buy lots of sugary treats and useless little crap for the kiddies! Better get shopping ya'll Easter's just around the corner!

Beautiful Colored Eggs in Vintage Ice Bucket

The beautiful colors on these Easter eggs are extra vivid because they were left in the (cheap) dye for about 20 minutes. For a different display look put them in a vintage glass ice bucket as my friend Becky has done. These look beautiful sitting on her kitchen counter.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cheap Chic Little Tea Set

Here is a funky little tea set that I've put together comprised of items I've collected. I got the tray at a thrift store for $2.99. I got the teapot during a separate trip to another thrift store for around $3.99. I found those funky little cups at Cost Plus World Market for about $1.50 a cup.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

dd's Discounts has Come to Town!

Today my daughter Natasha (aka "Amy Lynn" - more on this later) and I (aka "Mama") went to a newly opened discount store in our town. It's called "dd's Discounts". I found out that it's owned by Ross Stores. It is set up like Ross but the merchandise is much cheaper! I didn't think things got any cheaper than Ross, Yee Haw! We had so much fun looking around the store. They've got a great selection of clothes, shoes, purses, housewares, toys, funiture, books, etc...etc... for 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of Ross. Look up dd's online and find a store near you. I think this is going to be my new favorite place to shop! The best thing is that it's in the very same shopping center as the Dollar Tree, yay!!!