A family recipe: Mom’s spinach dip

My mom makes the best spinach dip. I have yet to find a spinach dip that compares. I remember my mom making it for all sorts of holidays and occasions. She’s been making this recipe for so long (over 26 years) that she has no clue where it first originated. She made her famous spinach dip yesterday for no special reason and I had to share.  It’s pretty simple to make, too!

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Grocery Savings Challenge: Week 5

Click the picture for more meal plans, grocery lists, and recipes

I can’t wait for the Farmer’s Market to open in May; local produce for better prices! But until then, I am left to wander the produce aisle at the grocery store (our former CSA box was just too much for us two).  I have been really craving strawberries and soon the many stands along the side of the road will be open as well.

But enough dreaming about the upcoming months (oh my goodness we will have baby in less than 3!), here is this week’s plan.

The Stores and their Deals
The Meal Plan
The Grocery List
The Final Cost

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Grocery Savings Challenge Week 4: Review (with meal cost details)

In this week’s review, I thought I would try and break down the meal costs to be more accurate. I did not include the cost of oil or seasonings, since the cost is usually quite small per meal and hard to determine. If I grill in butter, I include the butter cost (and we use butter than comes from grass fed cows, so it’s about $7-8 a box).

Here was this week’s plan and cost:

The Meal Plan

The Final Cost

Meal ingredients: $42.61
Other items: $15.53
Total: $58.14

What we actually ate and price details:

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Chicken and Broccoli in Creamy Pesto Sauce

We had my mother and father-in-law over for dinner Saturday night and served them one of my favorite dishes: Chicken and broccoli in creamy pesto sauce. For convenience, this recipe utilizes cream sauce and pesto that is already made, feel free to make your own sauce for this recipe.

This meal is usually a treat for us because of the cream sauce. This meal also isn’t the cheapest, but there are ways to save. I wish I was able to take pictures of this lovely dish, but we were busy entertaining and busy eating and there was none left afterwards!

Chicken and Broccoli in Creamy Pesto Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • About 2 lbs chicken breast (I bought in bulk and on sale, and paid about 81 cents per serving, $3.25 total)
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets – $3 total
  • 1 container fresh pesto $4.99 (or, save money and buy the pesto flavor packet in the marinade aisle – $1.99)
  • 1 container fresh Alfredo sauce $3.99 (or, buy in a jar, $2.50)

Total – $15.23, or $3.80 pp – using budget shortcuts, $10.74, $2.68 pp

Optional recipe enhancement:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into small discs, with heads set aside – 80 cents
  • 3 tbsp butter – 89 cents (and we use butter that is about $7 a pound)
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced – 40 cents

Enhancement cost: $2.09, 52 cents a person (less if you don’t use pastured butter)

Directions:

  • Season chicken breasts with pepper, garlic powder, and anything else you may like
  • Cut asparagus into thin discs, leaving the heads intact
  • Grill chicken breasts in large pan, set aside
  • Add butter, garlic, and asparagus to separate pan and cook on low until garlic starts to brown, set aside (optional step)
  • Meanwhile, cook broccoli until crisp tender
  • To make sauce – combine Alfredo sauce and 2/3-1 whole container (to taste) of pesto (or whole envelope), simmer in small pot until warmed through, may add milk if too thick. Add garlic asparagus mixture if using.
  • Mix broccoli with sauce and serve over chicken (if you are a pasta eater, this tastes great with pasta)
  • Enjoy!

Total meal cost for 4 people: about $10.74-$17.32, depending on ingredients used (prices will also vary with where you buy your ingredients and if they are on sale or not)

My Favorite Things + Life Update

*To those that get email notifications – ignore the email sent last night. Sorry about that!*

Busy weekend! The husband spent the day/most of the night in Oakland at the Social Distortion concert with the boys and my mom and I had a splurge day eating Chinese food and Cold Stone (their warm creations were disappointing). Sunday will be pent going to church then off to visit friends for their daughter’s 1-year birthday party!

I’m also 27 weeks along today! Just one more week and I will be into the third-trimester. It still seems so surreal, despite the fact that our little guy reminds me of his presence by wiggling and kicking (recently under my right ribs) quite often.

We are a few weeks into our Bradley classes and they are going well so far. I may forget some of the stretches/exercises that are assigned as homework, but I don’t forget the relaxation techniques that involve getting a massage before bed!

We are still waiting on the short-sale house we made an offer for (which was accepted by the seller, just waiting on the bank), so hopefully that goes through within the next few weeks. Having the house ready before the baby comes would be more than ideal.

For fun, here is a list of my favorite things / items that get me through the week!

Things that get me through the week

Cocoon sweater
$23 – target.com – I have the darker red/long sleeve version of this sweater and it has been a main staple in my wardrobe this winter – so comfortable!

Orange Essence Facial Cleanser- Burt’s Bees
$8 – burtsbees.com – The smell of this is divine! I mix it with some baking soda for a gentle exfoliation

Physicians Formula
$14 – physiciansformula.com – LOVE this powder! It is also a great concealer as well.

Buy GNC Pro Performance 100% Whey Protein, Banana Cream & More |…
$23 – drugstore.com – I don’t normally support protein powders, but I need to get more protein in my diet and this powder with milk is so tasty – just like a banana now’n’later (sp?). It’s also good blended with 1-2 servings peanut butter and frozen milk and ice cubes.

Hanes Womens Stretch Bikini 3 pair ET42LC at hosieryandmore.com
$11 – hosieryandmore.com – So what if they aren’t fancy underwear. These are super comfortable and don’t fall down my nearly non-existent rear when wearing maternity jeans.

Oh Baby by Motherhood Secret Fit Belly Bootcut Jeans
$64 – kohls.com – These jeans fit great. They are a little stretchy and still look good when I turn up the cuff (because I’m short)

Iron Fist All Hope Abandoned Flats – Black (Vegan) – Punk.com
$30 – punk.com – I love these shoes. Not much support, but they match 95% of my wardrobe and I think they are awesome
You can see the rest of the items by visiting the set.

Coasting along and some link love

Seems like I haven’t been too productive these last couple of weeks. I pick up the house, I babysit my Godchild (who just turned 1!), make dinner (nothing new or exciting) and chill with the husband.

My pregnancy at this stage is super easy; feeling pretty normal except my stomach is growing and I still can’t stomach steak or bacon. Our little guy is moving around lots lately, which is always neat (except when he kicks in certain places that shouldn’t be kicked!).

We have started looking into purchasing our first home. We just started viewing potential properties this last Saturday. It’s interesting to see other people’s style and preference. House hunting also reaffirms that fact that I don’t really care to spend a lot of money. Our rental lease is up at the end of April and I am due mid-May, so it will all be very interesting to see how the last months of my pregnancy look like. I am generally a pretty laid back person but I wonder if I will be feeling rushed and overwhelmed; hopefully not.

Sunday we start our Bradley birthing classes, in the evening, much to the chagrin of my SF 49er football fan husband. He keeps asking me if the class will happen during the Super Bowl as well.

I have library books I need to read and three quilts that need to be completed; all of which are in different stages of completion.

Since I’ve been pretty boring, here are some great sites I have been frequenting lately:

Better After blog - an easy to read site filled with Before and After shots of homes, rooms, and furniture - most that the average Jane can replicate

 

The Gawkerverse – Craftgawker, foodgawker, etc.  Easy to view pictures and projects and lots of great blogs.

Also enjoying the blog and Facebook updates of Whole New Mom and Prudent Baby

Our Kitchen Top Tens

When Marc and I put together our wedding registry about 3 years ago, we came across many “wedding registry checklists.” Many of these checklists have you register for 12 formal settings and 12 casual settings and 12 of every type of glassware imaginable. And if you didn’t have enough room (or guests) for all of that, you still needed to add the panini press, rice cooker, and other “essential” appliances.

Two and a half years later, we found out what we needed and what we didn’t.

While we have always been cookers, going through the journey to find a healthy diet has led us to our top food items as well.

The following is a list of our top ten foods and kitchen items.

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Brunch in Berkeley

Marc and I like going on day trips. We like food and new places, so exploring the areas around our home is a great way to experience both. We are lucky enough to live in California and be a couple of hours or less away from the mountains, foothills, coast, or wine country. Our last day trip was up to gold country, this trip we decided to have lunch in Berkeley.

Even though we have been to San Francisco too many times to count, Marc had never been to Berkeley and I had been there once; to eat dinner with a friend. Oh, and we explored UC Berkeley for school but had little memory of the trip.

With little planning, we drove up to the coast and parked ourselves at downtown. The day was beautiful and the weather was perfect, but it was Sunday and a lot of the restaurants were either closed, or about to close. After visiting the used bookstore we stopped off at Venus to enjoy a local beer and decide what to do for lunch.

Enjoying a beer on the patio

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