Rigatoni

This is the version we like best. It has shortcuts, but it is still as good as my all day simmered version. In a large skillet, brown 1 pound ground beef and 2 links of Mild Italian sausage with casings removed. Drain after the meat is brown.

On a cookie sheet, arrange a single layer of sliced pepperoni. I used about a third of a 16 ounce package. Cook at 350° for 12 minutes. Remove pepperoni from pan and allow to cool. Drain the oil from the pan and add 6-8 ounces of fresh, sliced mushrooms. DO NOT SALT! Bake 20-25 minutes until crisp. Let them cool in the pan.

In your large skillet with the browned and drained meats, add 1 can of petite, diced tomatoes (I prefer low sodium) and 1 can of Hunt’s Zesty & Spicy pasta sauce

To the mixture, add:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbls onion powder
  • 1 Tbls garlic powder
  • 1 Tbls dried oregano
  • 1 Tbls + 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

In seperate pan, add 12 ounces of Rigatoni noodles to rapidly boiling water that has been seasoned with 1 tsp salt. Cook until noodles are al dente. Drain and immediately fold into sauce.

Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese. Crumble the crisp pepperoni and mushrooms and add to the mix. Top with 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella, and pour into a pan prepared with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Note: it really should have sliced black olives, but I don’t like them, so I omit them.

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Slow Cooker Pork Loin

I have to be frugal. It isn’t a choice. When meal planning, I have to look at ads (LOVE the Flip app!) compare prices and match coupons with sales. I try to keep my proteins below $2.50 per pound. Luckily, in my area there are fantastic stores that do a great job of competing for our business. Instead of paying $5.99 and up for center cut pork chops, I buy a whole pork loin when it goes on sale for $1.89 per pound, and cut them myself. I also pick up one for roasting in my slow cooker. This is what I cooked for dinner tonight. I normally cut my pork loins in thirds for the slow cooker. It is just the two of us, plus I like to cook for my mother. On average, I pay $10 for a whole loin on sale. Cut into thirds, I pay about $3.33 total for meat for dinner. This feeds 3 people a VERY generous portion, plus 2 large pulled pork sandwiches. Recipe: 1/2 cup water in the bottom of the crock. Place loin, fat side down Halve 3 small apples (I prefer Granny Smith but had Gala on hand) Halve 2 onions Place around the loin. Generously salt and pepper the loin. Sprinkle on:

  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried thyme leaves
  • Pinch of ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low 8 hours. Remove and discard the apples. Add carrots and potatoes and cook an additional 90 minutes on high, or 2.5 hours on low. Sometimes I assemble and season the night before, refrigerate, and set it on low the following morning. To my followers, I haven’t abandoned this blog. I’ve just had a very difficult two years. I will be posting more and more as time goes on. Thank you for the emails and messages asking if I’m ok. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers you have sent me. They are much appreciated, as are you!

Home Made Italian Sausage

With the price of beef so high, I am exploring ways to cut costs on other meats. I’m trying to keep the total cost of all meats at a 2.50 per pound average.

Just a 20 minute drive away is the neatest meat shop. Ozark Meats in Grandin, MO. It is clean as a pin! By far, the cleanest butcher store/meat processor I’ve ever visited.

I called them about a week ago and asked for fresh, never frozen ground pork. They called me when they ground my 10 pound order. Today we picked it up, along with 25 pounds of ground beef, frozen in 1# packages. It was on sale for $3.99 per pound. Their ground beef is like ground sirloin. You never need to drain it because it is so lean. That is a huge savings in itself with no product lost.

We came home and started the spicing and mixing process. We mixed two pound at a time, so if you are trying this recipe with only one pound of ground pork, please reduce the spices by one half.

2 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sage

Combine well and divide in half, and place each half in a freezer bag.

For the HOT version, adjust to 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon cayenne.

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Styx!

As much as we sometimes hate having an empty nest,  we have been having fun lately doing whatever our randomness brings.  Last week we went to a St. Louis Cardinals game. We found a great bargain on tickets on one our local Facebook swap groups, and 12 hours later we made the three hour drive to Busch Stadium to watch my boys of summer. 

When I found out that Styx would be preforming locally (and good music locally is rare) I expressed to my hubby that I’d love to go.  2 days later he surprised me with tickets.

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Hubs and I parked at the venue

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What an amazing show! If you get a chance,  go see them.  They play the classics as well as more recent music.  I forgot how very talented they are! A mixture of electric and acoustic guitar Here is the link to their 2015 touring schedule.

Rock on dudes!

Christmas Ringtones

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I have a new phone and lost all my ringtones. Since I like all kinds of music, and I think outside of the proverbial box. I got busy making some new ringtones. I thought I’d share them with all of you.

If you like the ringtones, you’ll love the complete songs, and in most cases, the entire albums.

Here are some links to their music:

Pentatonix

Celtic Thunder

Bob Rivers Comedy

Bing Crosby

Gaither Homecoming

Mariah Carey

Here is the list of ringtones:

  • 12 Pains of Christmas
  • Angels We Have Heard On High
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Hershey’s Kisses – We Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas
  • Joy To The World
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You
  • Mary Did You Know
  • Sleigh Ride
  • The True Meaning Of Christmas (Linus from Charlie Brown Christmas)
  • White Christmas

These ringtones are ready to load on Android devices. If you have an iPhone, you will need to download and convert them in iTunes before they will play on your iPhone.

You can download these ringtones at this link.

Christmas wreath on a budget

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My daughter wanted a silver and gold Christmas wreath for her front door. She went shopping with her mother-in-law and didn’t like the retail prices she found.

Luckily, Hobby Lobby was running a half-off sale on all their Christmas items. I bought a 24 inch frame for $5, and two 9 foot garlands for $5 each. I also purchased 2 rolls of wired ribbon for $5 each, and each roll had 90 feet of beautiful ribbon! I have plenty left for other projects

After wiring the garland to the frame, I went to my local Dollar Tree store for inspiration. I found plenty of silver & gold bling to accessorize the wreath. I spent $36 including glue sticks and floral wire to finish the project.

I love the battery operated candles! There were 2 of them in a package for only $1 at Dollar Tree! Wiring them to the wreath was very easy, too.

I spent $61 total making this wreath, and I’ve seen this size wreath sell for $200 and up.

My next project is decorating a vintage wooden sled for her front porch. We purchased it at a flea market about 15 years ago, and she enjoyed using that old sled for several winters.

I’ll post pics of that project when I finish it. I have a 10 day stretch at work coming up, so it will be after Thanksgiving when I begin to tackle that one.

Canberry White Chocolate Cheesecake – Quick & Easy

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Crust:
1 sleeve Graham crackers crushed
2 Tbls sugar
1 stick unsalted butter melted
Combine and press into deep dish pie pan or spring form pan
Bake at 350 for 5 minutes and cool completely
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Filling:
Combine 1 can sweetened condensed milk and 1 8oz pkg room temp cream cheese. Blend until smooth. Add 1 Pkg white chocolate pudding mix. Blend til smooth. Add 1 package Craisins or off brand dried cranberries. Fold in 8oz cool whip.

Spread in cooled crust and chill. Before serving sprinkle with a few cranberries and grated white chocolate