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Friday, January 05, 2024

Paprika Shrimp with Avocado and Peach over Rice

I found the original recipe in Fine Cooking over 10 years ago, and it seems to have gone out of business during the Covid years.  I tried looking it up but I could only find variations with oranges.  I distinctly remember it having mango though, so here is what I've made based on memory and adjusted to my taste.

Serves 2.


  • 12 jumbo shrimp
  • 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian Sweet Paprika
  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 canned whole unsweetened peach diced (or mango approximately 1 cup frozen or fresh)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • olive oil
Cook rice per instructions on the bag.  Plan for approximately 40 minutes of cooking time, I find brown rice takes longer, no need to start the rest until rice is done because it goes fast if you have all your ingredients ready.

Heat up an iron skillet, or whatever skillet you have, to medium temperature.  Add a drizzle of olive oil for cooking.

Coat the shrimp in the paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

Dice avocado and peach, combine with a drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt and set aside.

Cook the shrimp for three minutes on each side, 6-7 total. 

Put brown rice in two bowls, divide the avocado/peach mixture evenly into each bowl, over the rice, then put the shrimp on top.

This also works really well with a mango, frozen or fresh but of course thaw completely, or microwave before serving so it's warm, not hot.  

Edamame out of shell works well as an added protein.  

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Homemade Yogurt

I've been making homemade yogurt for 4+ years, off and on, usually in the summer when I could count on 90-degree days to keep the yogurt warm during its incubation period.  In 2021 I got an air fryer for Christmas that has a dehydrator feature. Light bulk moment - I could make yogurt any time with this!

I've made this every week for 3-4 months with consistent results.

I like to start with Chobani Whole Milk Greek Yogurt as my starter, reserve 1/2 cup and let it sit out while milk heats up.  Side note to any experienced yogurt makers - I've tried reusing my homemade yogurt as a starter, but results are runnier than I'd prefer so I continue to use Chobani as my starter.

My plan is to finish with 48 ounces of yogurt, so I start by filling 3-pint size jars with whole milk and heat the milk in a pot with pour spout to 180 degrees.  I use a candy thermometer that hangs on the side of the pot.  This process takes up to 20-30 minutes, I don't like to go too fast, or it will make the milk skim.  Stirring frequently helps deter milk skim.

Once the pot has reached 180 degrees, remove from heat and wait for it to reduce down to 120 degrees. This takes about 20-25 minutes.  Once the temperature is 120, stir in the 1/2 cup of yogurt, mix well, then pour mixture into the three pint size jars.  I use this size because it fits nicely into my air fryer.

Set the air fryer to 110 degrees and 6 hours, with no lids.

Once finished, let it cool for about 30 minutes, then add lids and put into fridge.  Cool overnight, by the next day it should be nice and solid.  It won't be exactly like Greek yogurt, to do this you'd need to take an extra step to strain it.  I personally prefer regular yogurt so I stop at this point.

Savings - one container of Chobani Whole Milk Greek Yogurt cost $5.58 for 32 ounces at Walmart.  I can make 8 recipes.  A pint jar is 16 ounces, so every recipe makes 48 ounces of yogurt x 8 recipes equals 384 ounces of yogurt.  It may sound like a ton of yogurt, but we have 4 kids making smoothies before workouts several times a week, and I eat 8 ounces every morning.  It's a necessity!

Milk cost $2.62 currently at Aldi, which is $0.02 x 48 ounces = $0.99

Chobani Whole Milk Greek Yogurt cost $5.58 for 32 ounces, which is $0.17 x 4 = $0.6975

In summary, my out-of-pocket cost is $1.68 to make 48 ounces of plain whole milk yogurt, which equals $0.035 per ounce.  

The lowest price I can find for plain whole milk yogurt is at Weis for $3.97 for 32 ounces which equals $0.12 per ounce, and at 48 ounces, it would cost $5.76.  

Total savings for my homemade version is $4.08.

Is that a lot of effort to save $4.08?  I guess that's up to each person.  I work from home, and I can easily work my primary job and check on the yogurt every 20-25 minutes as needed.  If I worked full time away from home, I might not bother with this but as it is, I enjoy this little task and it saves us a little money each time I make it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Applesauce Spice Muffins

I got the original recipe on epicurious, but I've changed so many details that I finally need to record it as my own.


  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix dry ingredients together and cut butter into the mix.  Mix eggs, sugar, and applesauce together in small bowl then add to the dry ingredients.

Use a muffin scoop to distribute the mixture into 13 muffin cups.  I don't use liners because I'm cheap, but it can help reduce mess.  By cutting the butter into the mix, and not melting it, the muffins do not spread, which makes them hard to dig out, and forms a nicer domed muffin.

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Why we went back to Costco

In 2021, I documented the pros and cons of keeping Costco.  It's 30 miles from our home, we were not getting the benefit of discounted gas, and I thought we could find similar items at our local Sam's Club.  

We held out for one year before we went back to Costco for these specific foods that we love, and cannot get at Sam's club:

* Sukhi's Tikka Masala - 2 pack (Sam's has a different version that is not as good) - it's a meal staple that we have every two weeks with Rice, Garlic Naan from Aldi, and homemade Mango Lassi's.  It's quick and honestly feels like a meal out!

* Costco Chicken Breasts (I don't know what they do, but they are huge and less fat than everywhere else).

* Costco Cheese Pizza 4 pack (I literally never find frozen pizza at Sam's, it's a helpful Friday lunch meal for the kids).

* Starbucks Breakfast Blend 2lb coffee - I can find Starbucks coffee at Sam's but this blend is exclusive at Costco.

* Costco Espresso 2lbs - I buy it online at least once every two months, it's literally the best deal on espresso, not counting Cafe Bustelo (which I don't care for).

* Panko Coated Tilapia - another meal staple that we like to have with tater tots or fries and call it 'Fish and Chips' night.  Sometimes we change it up with a bag of frozen veggies that can be microwaved.

* Tasty Bite Madras Lentils - we have this with the Tikka Masala.

Costco also has great deals on items throughout the year, especially around Christmas.  I like getting 32 winter leggings/tops every few years, they eventually wear out because I wear them every day in the winter. 

In my bio, I mentioned our meals are 95% homemade, well the above quick items are part of the 5%.  There are some days that need quick meals, and these are some of our favorites.

In summary, I'm glad we took a year off to be sure this was really important to us.  We go every 2-3 months and by 2-3 of each item depending on when we want to go back.  We did keep Sam's club for the local discount on gas, which does pay for the membership, and there are a few items that we can only get at Sam's, so I've justified keeping both clubs.  

Monday, August 28, 2023

Mixed Berry Mini Pie

This is for when you have enough left over pie dough to fill a mini pie, but not enough for a top.  Sometimes we make pigs in blanket, which is pie dough rolled out, butter smeared on top, then cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over and rolled.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375.  My kids love extra cookies, but sometimes I prefer to make a mini pie.


* 2 cups mixed berries (raspberry and blueberries, or blackberries)

* 1/2 teaspoon allspice

* 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

* 1/3 cup sugar

If working with fresh berries, put into a small pot and cook on the stove with all ingredients for 1-2 minutes, this helps juice up the berries.  If frozen, then just mix above ingredients in a bowl.

Roll out pie crust, place into mini pie plate, trim edges, add filling.  Sprinkle streusel on top.  I usually have extra in the freezer because I make it in a large batch.  Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes.  Put a pan under the pie plate in case of overspill so it doesn't go onto the oven floor.

Streusel - I follow Sarah Kieffer's recipe at The Vanilla Bean Blog

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Buying Contact Lenses

It seems like every year it changes as to who has the cheapest contacts.  I buy Biofinity Energy lenses and before getting a years supply, I made sure to cross check with three suppliers:

Target Optical –

  • Rakuten 4% cash back
  • 6 pack $229.96
  • 5% back from Target card, $11.50 savings

1800contacts –

  • Rakuten 6% cash back, $11.90 savings
  • 6 pack $198.37
  • $40 rebate (cash card, claim it when contacts arrive, takes 6-8 weeks)
    • Still cheaper than Target even if I somehow miss the deadline
  • Used Discover Miles which earns 1.5% back

Walgreens -

  • Rakuten – no discount
  • 6 pack $263.96
I used to get a discount with State Farm insurance for Target contacts which gave them the best deal, but after that was dropped, I started searching other sites.  Last year Walgreens had the best price, now this year 1800contacts is the winner.  I almost missed the cut off date for the rebate card.  I assumed it would come in the mail, but after logging my monthly purchases, I looked up the receipt and realized I had to go to the 1800contacts rebate page, print it out and mail it by the 23rd.  Hurray!  I'm getting it in the mail today.

I also found an excellent detail - 1800contacts will replace torn contacts!  I tear at least one set per year so this is pretty cool.  Target also used to replace them for me so I like having this option.  

1800contacts for the win!

As a side note, I still haven't caved and bought Vision Insurance.  I've researched it and know I could write it off on my taxes, but it comes up to just under $300 per year, and with the discounts I would pay $200 more per year so it's not worth it to me.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Hong Kong Weekend Updates

This weekend I tried out the pool on the rooftop and found it to be really nice.  It's completely outside so open based on the weather, thankfully Saturday was free from rain.  I swam for an hour and enjoyed some time reading on the lounges but it started to get really hot, in the mid-80's and Maryland is still in the low 70's so I'm not used to the heat yet.  After the pool I found the ladies locker room and it was so amazing, they have an experience shower where you can choose rainfall, tropical, etc.  I picked tropical and the shower nozzle is located super high so it really feels like you are standing under a water fall.  It was so cool. 

I had lunch at Spasso where I had a fairly boring piece of Salmon, but the dessert was amazing.  The menu mentioned a 15 wait and with nothing pressing to do, I didn't mind waiting.  It was a mini chocolate lava cake, with a scoop of Espresso 26 ice cream, one scoop of chocolate pudding, and a few raspberries for decoration.  I'll upload a photo when I get back, for some reason I can't seem to transfer any right now.

After lunch I got a coffee and walked around a bit but didn't really find anything interesting and it was too hot to go far.  I probably should have gone somewhere as I got quite bored in my room and tired from the morning swim and previous day arm workout.

For supper I went to Outback Steakhouse for Toowoomba pasta.  It was a bitter disappointment.  I got this dish as far back as when my husband and I lived in California in 2002-03.  It's supposed to have little crawfish and be spicy.  After awhile, I could only find this dish in HK as they stopped selling it in the US so I'd look forward to it when coming here.  It was basically plain fettuccini alfredo with five shrimp.  Very boring, not at all what I've remembered and gotten in HK many times.  The brown bread was also not the right taste.  I barely ate any of it and it gave me indigestion.