Cheater's Magnificent Melon & Lime Margarita


If you can find yourself some Magnificent Melons, buy them! Immediately. Magnificent melons are a type of cantaloupe that is sweeter than it's more standard counterpart and a bit less juicy. They are at their peak during our late winter and early spring and eating one is like having a taste of summer months before it arrives. Considering I've been fairly depressed this winter, these melons have been a source of joy for me lately. I came up with this Margarita drink which has become a new favorite in my family. They are ridiculously easy to make, easy on the alcohol and high on the flavor. It's quite a refreshing drink to have after a meal.

Ingredients:
5 or 6 large ice cubes
1 small bottle of Jose Cuervo Lime Margarita Mix
1 cup of chopped Magnificent Melon

This makes two small margaritas or one really large one.

In your blender, crush the ice until no chunks are left. Scrape the inside of the blender so that the crushed ice is at the bottom. Add the Margarita Mix and the melon and puree until very smooth. Serve chilled in glasses and with a slice of melon as a garnish. Because the ice, fruit puree and margarita mix start to separate pretty quickly, use the slice of melon to stir it to keep the original consistency. Enjoy!

Yoplait Smoothie Giveaway Winner!


The winner of the Yoplait Smoothie Prize pack, as chosen by Random.org, is entry #11 Niecey! Congratulations Niecey and thank you to everyone for participating.

Cinnamon Raisin Pancakes


I never thought I'd be able to top my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes or my Chocolate Chip (Banana) ones. But these might just take the cake... pan-cake that is. I had a whole bunch of whole-wheat flour and extra raisins at home. So I decided instead of buying extra chocolate chips for another batch of chocolate chip banana pancakes that I would instead try making Cinnamon Raisin Pancakes. It's one of those pantry scrounge type creations that I'm never really excited for but I'm glad that my extra stuff is being put to good use. The result? Flipping amazing. These pancakes are moist and fragrant. They are a little dense with the whole-wheat flour but are still soft and airy because the ratio of the wet ingredients is higher than that of the dry. Even if you don't like raisins in things, you'll love them in these. They complement the cinnamon batter so beautifully. And when you pour 100% all natural maple syrup over these and take one big bite, you'll be in heaven.

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 heaping tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 cups of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
handfull of moist raisins (from the bag not the box)
butter for greasing the griddle

Heat your griddle and grease with some butter. Pour some batter (about half of a cup or so) onto the hot skillet. Sprinkle some raisins over the top. When the batter starts to bubble and those bubbles start to pop, flip it over and cook for a couple of more minutes. Repeat until you run out of batter. This makes about 6 good size pancakes. Enjoy with some strips of bacon on the side, some sliced banana and a hot cup of tea. Enjoy!

Yoplait Smoothie Review and Giveaway

I saw so many other blogs reviewing and giving away this Yoplait Smoothie pack that I was upset that I didn't get the opportunity. However, Yoplait heard my Tweet of complaint and went to MyBlogSpark about it. I was snuck in at the last minute. Thank you Yoplait and MyBlogSpark! You made this smoothie-loving gal very happy.



Yoplait Smoothie packs come in your grocery's freezer section. The 7.5 oz bag contains chopped frozen fruit and frozen balls of yogurt mix. You add the contents of the bag into your blender, pour in one cup of your milk of choice (cow's milk, soy milk or almond milk) and blend blend blend. It comes in Strawberry Banana, Blueberry Pomegranate, Triple Berry and Strawberry Mango Pineapple flavors. At my local grocery store, it costs $2.89 per bag. This seemed pretty high to me but then I figured the cost of getting yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, or even buying a prepared smoothie at my local Panera is about equal. If you wanted to make smoothies once or twice a week, this is definitely worth it. If you wanted to make smoothies every day, I would suggest buying lots of frozen fruit and a big tub of plain nonfat yogurt and making it yourself.

I tried the Strawberry Banana Smoothie thanks to both Yoplait and MyBlogSpark. Our blender didn't care for the frozen yogurt balls and I had to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon several times to get it to blend evenly. Once it was blended, it filled up one large glass to the very brim and it was absolutely delicious. Carlos and I shared the glass and we both noted how good the flavor was. The texture was really great too. I know that when I make smoothies they don't come out quite so smooth. Sometimes you chew on a bit of fruit even after you've blended it to death. This smoothie was smooth as silk!

Pros
very convenient, takes almost no time to make
only 220 calories for one smoothie, as a breakfast this is pretty light
good flavor and smooth texture

Cons
one bag = one glass of smoothie
price tag
not terribly blender friendly



Giveaway time! 

Yoplait and MyBlogSpark have provided me with the opportunity to giveaway one of these fabulous prize packs. The pack includes a drawstring backpack, a water bottle, a diet & fitness journal and 1 VIP coupon for a free bag of Yoplait Smoothie. Here's how to enter!

  1. First Entry: Tell me in the comments which flavor of Yoplait Smoothie you are excited to try.
  2. Second Entry: Like Thoughtful Eating on Facebook . Leave a separate comment telling me that you either liked the page or have already liked it.
  3. Follow me on Twitter @thoughtfuleats . Leave a separate comment telling me you followed me or you are already one of my followers.
Contest starts today and ends March 26th. Winner will be announced on March 27th (Sunday). US participants only (sorry Canada & Sweden!).

What would you pay for convenience?

This week's grocery bill was off the charts high and I couldn't quite get around why I went over my weekly budget of $125 by quite a significant amount. In fact, I think my $125 is too high especially since I'm buying food for only Carlos and I. There was only one factor that threw things off. Carlos' birthday. I'm making Pastel de Choclo for him and since one of the main ingredients, fresh ears of corn, is out of season I had to pay a whopping $8 for only 6 ears! But where did all the other expenses come from?

The other day, I was having a Twitter conversation with Erin of the excellent blogs Films and Foodies and Things Our Mom Taught Us. I had proclaimed my confusion in a tweet about why a pack of Chicken Cutlets now cost on average $5.50 at Market Basket (a grocery store chain known for very low prices) yet a whole rotisserie chicken only costs $3.99. You get a whole cooked chicken for $1.50 less than some raw slices of a chicken breast? That made no sense to me. That is until Erin explained it.



So the labor involved in creating those thin chicken cutlets, and waste lost, makes the price go up significantly. I always knew that buying whole was cheaper but I didn't realize to what extent. Then I started thinking about what I was paying for convenience. How much was I paying for another person's labor so I can spend less time in the kitchen? Is a can of beans more expensive per pound than a bag of dry beans? Do I really want to save the money in beans but add more time to my already packed schedule? Are company profiting off of our busy lives by charging us for the labor that it takes to make convenience foods? I'm I the last one to be smacked in the face by the reality of this?

In budgeting for my family's meals, I've been doing the following
  • buying cheap cuts of meat (think ground beef and chicken and not filet mignon)
  • make a game out of looking for the least expensive pack
  • using more vegetables and fruits and less packaged goods
  • only buying what I need for the week
  • planning out the week's meals in advance so I don't buy extra crap
  • purchasing very few or no snacks
  • skipping many name brands and going for generic when I can
What I haven't been doing is looking what I'm spending on convenience. Would it have been cheaper to make 2 Oreo cookie crusts from scratch or to buy 2 already made ones for $4? Do I really need to spend $2.50 on Baker's Dipping Chocolate for one use when a $2.50 bag of Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips would give me multiple uses, including melting chocolate for dipping? Should I buy a block of cheddar cheese and shred it myself or is it worth the money already shredded?

How do you cut back on your grocery bills? What grocery buys are worth the extra money to save you time in the kitchen? Is time worth the money or is money worth the time?


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