Wednesday, April 27, 2011

French Fried Onions - It's What's for Dinner!

So I bought a package of Golden Farms French Fried Onions at Dollar Tree in anticipation of making a classic bean green casserole for Easter, but that never really happened.

You see, I opened the FF Onions and began to nibble. The nibble led to a taste, which led to a snack, and before I knew it half the package was gone. I was able to resist devouring the whole pack by placing it out of sight, but this evening I found it, and resumed my consumption.

So crispy and delicious, I couldn't resist enjoying this delicacy with a beer or two. Simple, unadulterated onions and some sort of salty coating --why add anything else?

When I was done, I was slightly ashamed and realized I wouldn't be making green bean casserole, or crispy mac & cheese, or any other number of incredible dishes without another trip to the dollar store.

But who cares? I followed with mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels for dessert, a satisfied glow of contentment, and a weird desire to hear Robert Mitchum say "It's What's for Dinner".

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Potato Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs

So, it is time to use up the beautiful hard boiled eggs from Easter, and I happen to have too many potatoes, so I whipped up some delicious potato salad, here are the ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs
Red Onions
Yellow, Spicy Brown, or Dijon Mustard
Ranch dressing
Vinegar of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Note, I use Ranch dressing instead of Mayo, it gives it a little zip and I like the Riverton Valley brand Lite Ranch Dressing I get from the Dollar Tree. I also use a lot of Riverton Valley Fat Free Italian dressing.

The Potato Salad recipe is very adaptable depending on your tastes. I like a little tartness, hence my addition of white wine vinegar, but it is not necessary.

The ratios are about 4 potatoes to 2 hard boiled eggs, to 1/2 cup celery, and 1/4 cup red onions, but it is all a matter of taste and feel. Play around, have some fun, and enjoy some yummy Potato Salad!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Improvised Enchiladas

Enchiladas are simple enough - tortillas, cheese, red sauce, maybe some beans, onions, chicken. You know, mexican food.

I'm loath to waste food, so my last ditch solution for old stuff is to boil it or bake it. Kills any germs or bacteria that might be lurking, right?

The flour tortillas that were about a week past the expiration date couldn't be boiled, so I improvised some enchiladas. I know, I know, I'm supposed to use CORN tortillas, but the key word is IMPROVISADO. With some sour cream and a black olive garnish, it is going to be delicious!

Maybe, not exactly the way su madre used to make, but it's not as crazy as THIS . . .

I simply wrapped beans, cheese, onions, left over chicken, and salsa in these great little take-out sort of foil tins I get from the Dollar Tree. I poured red sauce and shredded cheese over the top and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. It was so good, I even omitted the planned sour cream and olive garnish. Another great meal that you can't screw up!

The tins have tops which made taking the leftovers to work the next day super easy.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dueling Baskets

Easter is high season for the Dollar Stores. Christmas is busy too, but if there was one activity that is tailor made for a Dollar Store it is the filling of an Easter Basket.

I enjoy every aspect of it . . . choosing the basket and the grass, the chocolate bunny, the cute, odd toy, the traditional stuff like Peeps and Cadbury Eggs, and Reese's Peanut Butter eggs, and jelly beans, and topping it all off with a big bow.

The more Easter Baskets you assemble, the more economical it gets, but I stopped at 2 this year, and they averaged $10 each. They are lovely  ones if I do say so myself, but they'll have to duel it out for supremacy.

I got stuff from Family Dollar, the 99 Cent Only Store, and Dollar Tree. Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from the Dollar Store Diet!

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to color Easter Eggs. I still attribute my love of vinegar (and wine) to this ritual. When I was a kid I really wanted to drink the dye, I just loved the look and smell of it.

I was lucky to find a little kit that had a wax resist crayon in it at the 99 Cent Only Store, and I couldn't 'resist' picking up a package of traditional PAAS as well (no wax crayon included, sadly). You simply write or draw on the hard boiled eggs with the clear crayon before you start dunking them in dye, and you get names, messages, and effects on the finished product. I'm not sure if regular crayons work the same way, but if you can't find the wax, it is worth a try.

My fingers got almost as much color on them as the eggs, but I did use the little wire dipper as well.

I sense egg salad sandwiches in my future, but for now I'm going to enjoy the pretty colors!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chicky and Bunny Cupcakes for Easter!

I got this simple recipe for chick cupcakes from the Family Dollar website -- but I didn't buy my ingredients there. They didn't have everything, and what was there WASN'T a dollar!

I knew I could do better at Dollar Tree and the 99 Cent Only store, and I did so well, I was able to make Bunny cupcakes too!

You'll need:

Yellow Cake Mix (make according to package with 2 eggs, 3 TBS oil, and 1/2 cup water -- of course you'll need baking cups).

Butter or margarine and Powdered Sugar for the frosting (the recipe on the sugar box calls for 1/4 milk and 1 tsp Vanilla, but you don't really need it, and a half recipe is enough for 12 cupcakes).

Shedded Sweetened Coconut

Yellow food coloring

Coconut candy to make bunny ears, mini chocolate chips or other candy for eyes, and gum drops or gummy worms for the beaks and nose.

Bake your cupcakes and let cool. Make frosting and frost 6 with white icing (these are the bunnies). Add coconut to the tops.

Use a few drops of yellow food coloring to the remaining frosting for the chicks. Place coconut in a baggy with a few drops of the coloring and shake to dye the coconut yellow for the top of the chicky cupcakes. Note there will be some coconut that looks orange from absorbing too much dye, just pick those off.

Now cut the coconut candy and form into little ears for your bunnies. Add the eyes to all the cupcakes.

Cut little triangles of orange candy for the chick beaks, and slice red or pink candies for little bunny noses.

Display with some easter grass and jelly beans and that's it!

Have fun, enjoy, and HAPPY EASTER!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Fasting

Traditionally, Good Friday is a day to eat less and avoid meat. This isn't difficult for me . . . how about a Portobello Mushroom burger?

Not one from Carl's Jr.,

but one from your own kitchen, made with Portobello Mushrooms from the 99 Cent Only Store.

Yesterday they had super big ones (1 to a pack), and smaller ones (2 and 3 to a pack).

I washed and de-stemmed the mushrooms, and stuffed the mushroom bowls with a cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salsa, onions, and bread crumb mixture. I topped them with more bread crumbs, a sprinkling of black pepper and paprika, cheddar cheese and tomato slices (for garnish) and popped them into a 350 degree oven.

About 15 minutes later, the finished result was excellent and didn't even need a bun.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mmmmm . . . Chocolate Covered Craisins

Do you love Raisinettes? Do you think they are good for you? Well, you do and they are, and you are going to love Chocolate Covered Craisins because they are from Ocean Spray and they only cost a dollar at the 99 Cent Only Store.

I can't guarantee they will be at your 99 Cent Only Store, but they were at mine today, and I have to stop typing now because I can't stop cramming them in my mouth!


As Easter approachs, the Dollar Store is the perfect place to fill your basket. And yes, they have Peeps -- traditional multi-colored marshmallow based, or even chocolate coated -- whatever your pleasure, or perversion, look no further.

Sweet Dreams.

My Peeps

I have a very soft spot in my heart and my head for the folks I encounter in the Dollar Store. Simply put, they're my peeps.

All kinds of characters shop where I shop, and they are a constant source of amusement, inspiration, and empathy.

I was actually in the 99 Cent Only Store looking for Peeps when I overheard a short conversation between two mature ladies. One was wearing slippers, a mismatched outfit, talking to herself, and pushing a shopping cart full of all sorts of merchandise -- the other was sartorially better syncopated and generally more lucid, but had probably seen better days herself.

Their brief interchange as they met in the aisle cart to cart went something like this:

"I'm sorry, but I've lost my mind."

"I've lost mine too, but I don't want to find it."

So in honor of these wonderful women (and the glimpse into my future) I offer a favorite of mine by Waylon Jennings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

White Bean Salad

I love beans, and one of my favorite is the Great Northern White Bean. Buy a can of these beauties and whip up an easy, tangy salad.

I rinse the beans, then add Fat Free Italian Dressing and Balsamic Vinegar. Then I chop up some red onions, celery, maybe some tomatoes and mix them in. If you don't have tomatoes, salsa or picante sauce will also work and give it quite a kick.

Refrigerate for awhile and enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ritz Crackerfuls Garlic and Herb

These Ritz Crackerful Garlic and Herb snacks are pretty delicious, and I might even pay full price for them, but because the showed up on the shelves of my local 99 Cent Only Store this week I don't have to.

They taste as good as you hope a combo of crackers and garlic herb cream cheese would. I'm usually a little suspiscious of a cheese filling that doesn't need to be refrigerated, and this filling is pretty soft and creamy, but I guess that is the miracle of modern technology.

Dole Bag Lettuce -- Fresher Than the Grocery Store!

The 99 Cent Only Store usually has Dole bagged lettuce in their refrigerated case, and it is usually fresher (and certainly less expensive) than what you will find at the grocer's.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cracker Barrel Cubes -- Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

A few days ago I extolled the delicious virtuous-ness of Monet Vegetable Crackers, but man does not live on bread alone . . . so I've been pairing up those crackers with Cracker Barrel Cubes.

I bought a package at the 99 Cent Only Store, and I've been enjoying this simple yet incredible combination for days.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Monet Vegetable Entertainer Crackers from the Dollar Tree

These Monet Vegetable Entertainer Crackers are simply delicious, and sometimes the simple things are best.

You can buy them by the case at the Dollar Tree website, or simply swing by a store and pick up a few packages. You won't be sorry!

A crunchy round cracker that’s great for snacking!  Entertaining crackers with savory vegetable flavor have zero grams of trans fat and are a wholesome snack for kids. They’re also great for entertaining, catering, appetizers, and recipes... and ideal for resale in gift shops, groceries, and convenience stores. Case includes 12 – 8-oz. boxes of Monet™ vegetable entertainer crackers.