Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cotton Bowl excitement, Woo Pig sliders and the BEST cole slaw EVER

Tomorrow is Cotton Bowl Day, and I couldn't be more excited. This has been a fantastic season for Hog Fans, and I'm counting on the Razorbacks (6) to pull out a win over Kansas State (8) and finish with an 11-2 season.  Our house is out of control busy 95% of the time, but life slows down for a few hours when the Razorbacks play. Most inconveniently, hunting season and football season collide.  As a result, we watch most of the games at home, but the hubby almost always makes it home in time for kickoff from whatever outdoor pursuit has held him captive that morning or afternoon.

While tailgating with a group of great friends is no doubt one of life's most fun activities, we have gotten spoiled watching the game in the comfort of our den while feasting on a buffet of what I like to call Game Day Delights. We have established a routine of sorts that involves pork sliders and the BEST cole slaw recipe ever.  Ever!  Trust me.

I stumbled upon a BBQ Pork Slider recipe in this year's Southern Living Christmas Cookbook, and with a few modifications it's now my Game Day Go-To.  The pulled pork is a breeze, and the slaw is pure decadence.  Best of all, prep time takes only a few minutes. Here's my version:

Woo Pig Sliders with Feta Slaw

1 pork roast
bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
Parker House style yeast rolls
1 bag of cole slaw mix
 1 cup refrigerated Ranch dressing (I use Litehouse)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon or 4 tbs. real bacon pieces
 1/4 tsp. pepper

Season a trimmed pork roast or tenderloin with your favorite spices. I usually use salt, pepper and garlic powder.  My Mom swears by Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, so I'll add a bit of that this time too.  Add the pork to the Crockpot with enough water to cover about half of the roast.  Turn it on low and forget about it for 6-8 hours depending on the size.   When it's done, use a fork to pull it apart.  I usually make 2 batches to serve; one with BBQ sauce and one without.

Combine the slaw mix, ranch dressing, cheese crumbles, bacon and pepper until the slaw is coated.  The first time I made this slaw, I used blue cheese.  It was good, but a bit strong for my family's taste so I switched to feta. The results were fantastic. If you have a taste for strong cheeses, you might want to experiment a bit.

Heat the rolls according to package directions. Mini sandwich buns also work great.  Warm a 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.  Layer the pork and slaw on the bottom of the roll and drizzle with BBQ sauce.

And there you have it, an easy recipe that frees you up to enjoy the game and promises to be a crowd favorite.

Can I get a Woo Pig Sooie? Go Hogs!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

How investing 10 minutes a week saved 30% off our grocery bill

I stumbled upon that Extreme Couponing show earlier this year and watched with amazement as people were carting off hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for basically nothing.  The accountant in me was impressed with their ability to score such a bargain, but the Type A in me was put off by the stockpiles of stuff that likely won't ever be used.  I mean, what would I do with 42 jars of Ragu?  There is enough clutter in this house without adding 68 bottles of Dove Men's Body Wash, thank you very much. 

Still, I was left feeling a little guilty.  My normal M.O. for grocery shopping involved running in the store when I got off work and snatching and grabbing what I could remember that we needed.  I never looked at the price, nor did I take the time to price-compare brands. Shame on me.

So, I started to do a little research.  I needed a simple system that didn't involve clipping hundreds of coupons and then having to organize them.  Don't you hate that guilty feeling when you go to the trouble of clipping coupons for items that you actually use and then leave them at home? Fortunately, I found Coupon Mom.  This site has all the tools you need to start saving using a simple 3 step system. 

In a nutshell, here's how it works:
1. Remove the coupon circular from your Sunday paper and write the date on the front. Put the circular aside and forget about it for now.  I keep my circulars organized by month in 9x12 envelopes.
2. Visit the Grocery Deals By State section on  Here you will be able to select the store that you plan to visit.   Once you do this, a grocery deals list will appear that lists every single item on sale that week.  The list will also detail applicable coupons for the sale item.  For example, a coupon in the January 16th Smart Source circular will have a code 01-16 S.  You will be able to scan through the grocery list and put a check mark by the items that you need.  Once you have made your selections, you will be able to print off a list showing only your selections.
3. Pull the circulars that you need, clip the applicable coupons, and refile your circulars in date order.  I always staple my coupons to the back of my grocery list.

Voila! It's that simple. You can also view a video of the process here.

In addition to the above system, I have a few more "rules" that I've adopted which have also contributed to significant savings:

- I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart and started shopping at Kroger.  This helped eliminate those impulse purchases like nerf guns, Tim McGraw cd's and Santa Claus dish towels.  It also seems to help me get in and out quicker. Save time and cut back on clutter. Gotta love it.

- I only buy meat that is on sale.  I buy in bulk and break the meat into dinner-size portions.  My parents gave us a Food Saver several years ago, and it works beautifully for this purpose. I've also used Ziploc freezer bags which seem to work okay too.  I believe our meat savings easily to be 40%.

- When I find a really good deal on items that my family uses, I STOCK UP! For example, Kroger will run General Mills cereal on sale for 3 for $5. Combine the sale with a coupon, and the savings ends up being 60%-75% off.

- Know when to substitute store brands for name brands. Even with a coupon, it's sometimes more economical to choose the store brand.

- has a handy online tool where you can add digital coupons to your shoppers card. You will need to set up an online account and register your shoppers card.  Then you simply go online and choose the coupons that you wish to use, they will load on your card, and will be applied to your bill automatically at checkout.  Beware that these ecoupons typically do not double, and you can't combine with a paper coupon. Sometimes it makes more sense to use the paper coupon.

I promise that you can accomplish the same results in 10 minutes or less per week.  It just takes a little practice, and it's so rewarding to see that "45% saved" at the bottom of your grocery bill.

Do you have other tips and tricks?  Let me know!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Out with the old and a vow of NO MORE NEW

I normally don't do New Year's Resolutions, but this year I  have vowed to purge our house of clutter.  The amount of stuff we have is obscene, and I can't stand it anymore.  With two little boys, a husband who has lots of outdoor hobbies, and very generous immediate families, it does't take long to accumulate stuff.  WAY TOO MUCH STUFF! 

I've been inspired by a couple handy tools that I found on Pinterest in the form of calendars that assign you a different task everyday: i.e:  January 2nd; clean out the junk drawer; January 3rd, clean off the top of the kitchen cabinets; and so on.  I'm sure these work great, but I have a simpler system that I've used in the past. 

Here's the plan:  I'm going to start in the back of the house in the master bedroom and work my way room by room through the entire house.  I'll place a contractors trash bag and several boxes in the room to be purged.  The contractors bag is for trash and the boxes will be labeled "DONATION" AND "CONSIGNMENT/GIVE TO FRIENDS".  I'll go through every square inch of cabinet, closet, shelfs and under the bed.  If I haven't used or thought about it in the last 6 months; it's got to go in one of the three piles.

I estimate this process to take about 4-6 hours per room.  Once the piles are established, they have to get out of the house immediately. Otherwise, the kids and hubby will start protesting and digging stuff out.  The donation boxes will go to my charity of choice; Big Brothers Big Sisters.  BBBS sponsors those green boxes that you see all over town. The items that you donate are sold to Savers by the pound and all monies stay in Central Arkansas to help support mentoring at-risk youth.  For a complete list of drop off locations, you can check out this link:

As for the other boxes, these will typically contain items that I want to pass along to friends (those adorable smocked and monogrammed jon jons) or get some return on investment (Coach purses and Seven jeans).  I've got my eye on a new purse, so maybe the consignment proceeds should be my reward for waging this war on clutter.  Oops, I forgot..... "no more new".  *Sigh* 

So that I don't get overwhelmed, I'm going to give myself plenty of time to tackle this project.  The goal is to be completely done by June, just in time to enjoy those lazy summer days lounging in the pool - guilt free!

What is your method of purging and organizing?  I'd love to hear your tips!