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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Three Timer

This Pork Tenderloin recipe is a 3-timer. What does being a 3-timer mean? Well it means I have cooked it 3 times and it has been delicious all 3 times. Even when I decided I knew the recipe well enough and improvised tonight. I always forget stuff when I do this. But dang it, I'm not a recipe follower.

Needless to say any recipe I can make three times successfully is certified by the Half Assed Housewife as fool proof. I like this recipe because of the technique more so than the actual ingredients.

Basically you rub down the meat like it's the man of your dreams. Then you throw it in a cast iron skillet to sear it for a few minutes. Move the skillet into a steamy 425 degree oven and cook the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. In my oven this takes about 15 - 16 minutes if I am doing one tenderloin and closer to 20 if I am cooking two at one time.

It is uber easy and it gets a minimal number of dishes dirty. Plus it cooks relatively quickly. This is one of those 30 minute meals that only takes me 30 minutes to make instead of an hour and a half. It's relatively inexpensive for a "nice meal".

We have to double the recipe because my children eat more than NFL Linebackers. That being said, I buy my tenderloins at Central Market when they have them on sale. I bought 10 pounds last time they were on sale and had them wrapped in 2 pound packages for the freezer. I am pretty sure they are on sale for either $3 or $4 until Tuesday at CM in Plano. All told, tonight's meal set me back about $7. Six of that was for the meat and the other dollar was for a bag of egg noodles to go with. Everything else is stuff I keep in my pantry. (I have yet to use the sage the recipe calls for).

I also think it will adapt well to other seasonings and sauces I have been to lazy to explore. Another great feature of this recipe is that you can rescue some of the meat before you sauce it to make the picky people in your life happy.

Next time I find a deal on the Hormel pre-marinated varieties, I am going to try this technique with them instead.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm a Value Whore

So, I know you are laughing at the title of my post, but from time to time I want to post on things financial. I can no longer restrain my inner economist. You'll have to forgive the math and the circular reasoning. Sometimes I can't control myself.

First off, let me say I joke about being a cheapskate, and but it's not exactly the right word. Frugal and penny-pinching don't quite get the job done. After much consideration and self reflection, I have decided I am a value whore.

Now, what is a value whore? In my opinion a value whore is someone who looks for the best bang to buck ratio in life and then does anything legally and morally acceptable to increase the bang or decrease the buck side of the equation.

Going cheap isn't always the best route and I still want to enjoy life. Oh to hell with it, I like material possessions too - obscenely expensive handbags in particular. So being a value whore is my best bet.

Now some of you are shaking in your boots at the thought of any form of lavish spending and that's OK. That's who you are. Some of you wonder why the hell I waste my time clipping coupons and hunting down deals on the internet.

The reason I am a value whore is that the age old adage a penny saved is a penny earned isn't true. In my family's case, a penny saved is 1.57 penny's earned. This means that $100 saved is $157 earned.

Hold onto your hats boys and girls. Here comes the math.

We can all agree that if you save $1 you don't have to earn it. We can also agree that when you earn and spend $1 you have to pay tax on it. Lots and lots of tax on it if you think about it. Here's the breakdown for my family.

Self-employment tax = 15.3%
Marginal Income tax = 33%
Sales tax = 8.25%

This totals roughly 57% . Now this will vary from person to person based on your employment status, marginal tax rate, and where you live. Once you plug in your numbers you will get the idea. The idea and the mindset is the important thing here, not the math.

This has been a half-assed economist public service announcement. I now return you to your regular programing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Accounting Error

So in doing C-Diddy's laundry for the week I have found a significant discrepancy. In his laundry for 7 days there are 11 shirts, 4 pair of shorts and count them with me not 1 but 2 pairs of dirty underwear. Oh wait let me revise that since he apparently wore them for 3.5 days each very, very dirty underwear.

WTH??? I can handle 11 shirts. Most of them are clean and he has just put them in the dirty clothes because he's too lazy to hang them up. The 4 pair of shorts doesn't really surprise me. He wears denim shorts that look the same most days. I'd be deluding myself if I thought he would actually put a clean pair on every day. Hey I've been known to recycle a pair of jeans with the best of them. But 2 pairs of undies in a week is freaking nasty.

What's a mom to do? I make the kid wash his ass on a daily basis, but where is it in the mom's handbook that you need to monitor the undies on an 11 year-old that closely.

Free Burt's Bees Lip Gloss Coupon

Try here for 1 of 1000 coupons between 8 AM and 11AM Central daily.

Server is really busy so keep clicking refresh when it tells you to go to hell. As of 8:30 I was still getting the "We're getting ready screen".

I could have gone and bought a lip gloss by now, but hey free stuff is fun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Manipulation and Rice Krispy Treats

So I pick up Mars at school today and she informs me that tomorrow is her day to bring a snack to celebrate her birthday (in August mind you). Woo Hoo. I can hardly wait. It's not like this gets me off the hook for anything else when her birthday rolls around. It's just something extra I have to do right now.

Have I mentioned I am stoked about the prospect of having to spend $20 bucks on pre-made crap to take to school? My only other thought is I could make something but that would take forever and I am pretty sure anything home made is banned from public school at this point.

Then my little princess rescues me by saying, "We can make Rice Krispy Treats! Nobody believes you make them yourself and they taste better than the ones the Rice Crispy people make. Baron's mom brings cookies from home all of the time."

Wait this isn't being rescued. It's straight up manipulation. Dang I have taught her well. She presented me with an opportunity to save money, hooked me in with a compliment, and started reeling me in with the Baron's mom challenge. She is good. Really, really good.

So what can I say... we made Rice Krispy Treat's the half-assed way.
  1. Throw 3/4 of a stick of butter in a big pasta pot.
  2. Add a splash of vanilla (this is the secret ingredient)
  3. Dump a 1 pound bag of Marshmallows in.
  4. Stir over low heat until the butter and marshmallows are melted and gooey.
  5. Throw in 9 cups* of crisp rice cereal and stir to coat.
  6. If you love yourself, spread this out in a pan that is lined with non stick foil.

All of this for about $3 and 5 minutes of work. M-Dub will be measuring and cutting the cooled treats. We will call that math. She will also be putting them all in Ziploc Bags. We'll call that me being lazy. I will be a good parent and make sure she washes her hands first

* Half-Assed Hint: When you are bored measure how much stuff your cereal bowls hold. Mine hold 3 cups exactly. When ever I need 3 cups of something I just grab a cereal bowl and fill it up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Road Trip - Part Two

Ahh... The best laid plans and all of that. One of the big reasons I wanted to take this road trip was to escape the inevitable Memorial Day BBQing and ensuing train-wreck that causes in the kitchen.

I had it all planned out I thought. My cleaning people (who don't half ass btw) were coming Monday morning, so we would get home to a spotless casa. Well truth be told I'm lieing. I remembered at the last minute they were coming so it was a mad dash to get everything picked up and a path cleared for them to work their magic. But hey, that's a minor detail.

Throughout the whole weekend I smiled every time I thought of the sheer pleasure of walking into a clean house after vacation. I even did 2 loads of laundry while we were at my Mom's so I wouldn't come home with a trailer full of dirty clothes.

We walk in the door about 4PM and the first words out of my husbands mouth are, "You know it's really not Memorial Day unless I smoke something."

Crap, Crap, Crap! But the kitchen is clean. Really clean. And, there's no way we will actually eat all of this. Be a big girl. Be a big girl. You can do it. Your not going to be able to stop him anyway. You might as well let him enjoy himself.

"How big of a brisket do you want me to get?"

I am such a wimp, but 24 hours later the kitchen clean again and my husband just informed me he would be eating every single bite of brisket since he "knew" I didn't think we would eat all of it.

I will report back later this week with the answer to the question "How long does it take a man to eat a whole brisket by himself?"

Grrreat Deal on Pop Tarts at Target

Summer is coming up and that means it's time to start feeding the kids crap for breakfast since they don't need to learn anything :) Target has 12 count Pop Tarts on sale for $2.33 with a $5 gift card when you buy 5. Also there are 50 cent of target coupons that you can print here. You can also use $1/2 from the 4/26 Red Plum coupon insert.

This gets you down to 83 cents a box with only the target printable or if you do the deal 2 times you can use 5 manufacturer coupons and get your total cost down to 43 cents a box for 10 boxes.

Happy shopping!

*Disclaimer: the target coupons do say one per transaction in the fine print, but usually they will take more than one at a time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Road Trip - Part One

My car has been in the shop getting repaired from being the peanut butter in a car sandwich. The repairs were supposed to take a couple of days, but over a week later it's still in the shop. Apparently the replacement bumper All-State would pay for broke while they were installing it.

I am no longer terribly confident in their ability to put Humpty Dumpty together again. Hopefully my baby will at least look good again. As good as a 6 year old car with well over 100,000 miles on it that has suffered the atrocities of spilled sodas, melted crayons, and even an episode of upside down nachos can look that is.

The upside is that we had a free rental for the long weekend. In true half-assed style I decided to call my Mommy and see if we could crash at their house this weekend. Being the most wonderful parents in the world they gladly took us in for the weekend.

My parents have a great apartment on the Riverwalk in San Antonio which they graciously offered my husband and I while they kept the kids Saturday night. We went down to the Riverwalk and a few prickly pear margaritas at Zinc and wandered around for a while.

As we were walking down the river I gave my husband the important charge of making sure I didn't fall in the river. Since he is my soul mate, he thought to ask if it came down to it, did I want him to save me or my Louis. Without hesitation I said "I can swim, the Louis can't." Ohh how I love that bag... All told, there was only one close call with a couple of Old People, but my husband saved them from me.

We made it up to the apartment after I successfully navigated the Riverwalk took a look around and quickly decided we would rather crash at my parents house where we had the silence of the country and a King Size bed, rather than a long night tossing and turning in a queen size bed to the tune of the partiers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hmm.... Wierd... It's actually good

I don't think I've ever heard such sweet words leave my child's mouth. He liked dinner. It was something other than a hot dog or nuggets and the 11 year old liked it. Better pull out my bible because these are indeed the end times.

Carnitas were on the menu for the evening and according to C-Diddy it looked like crap, but tasted good. I love carnitas, but there aren't alot of places to get a good taco around town, and I'm morally opposed to paying $12 for a plate that costs about $2 to make.

I've made them one time before and was overzealous and tried the cook your own tortillas from Costco. They were a cluster-fuck and pretty much trashed the entire meal so tonight I took the half-assed approach and got my fresh, homemade tortillas from the nice ladies at Kroger that know what the hell they are doing.

Now the base recipe I work from came from Kitchen 1924 in Dallas via the WFAA website. I would post the real recipe, but that would take too long. Plus let's be honest, I'm not exactly a follow directions kind of girl. What I will tell you is that if you can get over your fear of dieing in the burn unit at Parkland from grease burns, this is a relatively easy recipe to make. It cooks for ever, but it's pretty simple and I didn't wonder if I was doing it wrong too many times.

I served it with my "homemade" tortillas, shredded cheese and some guacamole that I actually made my self. Unfortunately I forgot to buy the chips to go with said guacamole, so I started by putting it on my tacos and then when I realized nobody else was eating it I pretty much said fuck it and resorted to pretending my finger was the best tortilla chip ever and licking the bowl clean. In my defense guacamole is a vegetable and while I am a bit embarrassed by my total and complete lack of class, I'm glad I didn't consume all those nasty chip calories. You'll understand how important counting extra calories when you read the recipe that I am about to get to.

So here it is,

Coca Cola Carnitas Tacos

I started with about 2 pounds of boneless pork country style ribs. You can use pork shoulder roast too, but the "ribs" are already cut in nice user friendly strips and not too fatty and have I mentioned I am lazy... Then I cut them in about inch and a half chunks.

I season them with Paula Deen's house seasoning which I make in huge batches and keep in a shaker because I use it on everything. Basically it's salt, pepper and garlic powder. You've got to season them really well. When you think you have way too much on there give it another good shake or two.

Heat about 1/2 cup of peanut oil in an iron pot (think Le Creuset - I have an Ikea knock-off that I use). Don't half-ass and use anything other than peanut oil in this recipe, I'm pretty sure it's the only kind that can handle the heat with out smoking you out of the house.

Once you have your oil good and hot carefully put the pork chunks in and brown them while stirring. This is going to take about 7 to 10 minutes. Once they are browned pour in 1 cup of Coke (the fully leaded stuff - not diet) and 1/2 cup orange juice and then top off with however much peanut oil you need to cover the meat completely. Put the lid on the pan and stick it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. After that turn the heat down to 200 and leave it alone in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours.

When time's up, your going to VERY CAREFULLY take everything out of the oven and fish out the cooked pork from the vat of fat. Hey I rhymed! Sorry. Put the meat in a big skillet and turn up the heat to about medium. Shred the meat (which should be falling apart at this point) with a fork and pour in another 1/2 cup of coke and let it cook for a few minutes. Give it a taste and then sprinkle with more garlic salt.



Confessions of a Cheapskate

My name is the Half Assed Housewife and I am a cheapskate. I can't help it. It's an urge I can't control. Checkers around Frisco call me "The Coupon Lady" behind my back.

Now, you're probably asking yourself "How does she know what they call her behind her back?"

Well you see, my kid is friends with the spawn of the "Coupon Nazi" from my favorite Target. You know the one who acts like your coupons are being deducted directly from her paycheck, and who thinks you must be stealing because you are getting your stuff so cheap. I love it when my worlds collide :)

I am planning on sharing some of my better deals on this blog so that others can earn the scorn of cashier's around town. Without further adieu, here is the deal of the day.

Kroger has Dr. Pepper and Pepsi 12 Packs on sale 5 for $11 with $10 additional purchase. I hit a gold mine and found $1 off peelies on the 12 packs of sunkist which brought them down to $1.20 a pack and $1 off of 2 Dr. Pepper coupons which facilitated my fix for the low price of $1.70 a pack.

Now let me warn you, this deal is one per transaction. I give you this admonition because the sign either sucks or I am a complete idiot. I will go with the first one because it sounds better. Needless to say I had to return and repurchase 10 of them because the computer hates me at Kroger. That's my story and I am sticking to it.

While you are there, pick up free Kraft BBQ sauce and 50 cent canisters of Kool-Aid by using coupons from http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/kraftcoupons.aspx. I'm sure there were other deals but these were the two that I eyeballed while walking through the store for my dinner supplies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Whodathunk?

Did you know you can actually start a fire in your kitchen just by making iced tea??? Lemme tell ya, with me anything is possible.

I set this blog up a few weeks ago planning to memorialize my attempt at being a decent housewife while school is out for the summer. I have visions of cooking new and great dishes even though I am a notoriously bad cook. You can learn to do anything with the internet right? Well, that remains to be seen.

Like most things in my life, I hadn't actually gotten around to sitting down to post, until I was struck by divine inspiration (more of a hellish intervention to tell the truth). Shortly, after my daughter said, "Umm, Mommy, the teabags aren't supposed to be on fire are they?" I knew exactly what my first post would be.

So, did you know you could actually start a fire by making iced tea? Let me start off by saying that I usually use the Cold Brew stuff, so this is my first and probably last attempt at making tea the old fashioned way. Needless to say, I hadn't a clue.

Now, I will admit that I could have been wild and read the directions on the box of Lipton, but who doesn't know how to make tea? Apparently you are supposed to boil the water and then turn it off before you put the teabags in the pot.

I carefully filled the pot with water, put the teabags in and propped the little hangy tags up on the metal handle of the pot. I knew not to let them dangle down close to the flame, because it would really suck to burn the house down making tea. Apparently those little doo dads are quite combustible though since they kind of burst into flame with out actually touching the fire.

Once I saw the flames, I thought quick. I reached and turned off the stove. Then I thought even smarter and blew on the embers. Oh crap, that was a bad move. Note to self oxygen makes flames happy.

I stopped for a second and thought, "Oh Shit!" I didn't want to burn the house down, but I really don't want to ruin the tea by shoving he flaming hangy tags into my brewing tea either. Luckily while I was weighing my options the fire sort of put itself out. Whoo. The house is saved, the tea is saved and my husband is enjoying a fresh glass of fire-roasted iced tea as I write this! It's apparently quite good all things considered.