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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:
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.  

Cranberry Bars

 Ingredients:

* 1 3/4 cups brown sugar

* 3/4 teaspoons salt

* 2 1/4 cups butter unsalted

* 4 eggs

* 2 teaspoons vanilla

* 3 Tablespoons diced crystalized ginger

* 2 1/4 cups flour

* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

* 1 1/2 cups cranberries

* 6 ounces white chocolate chips

Updating here from post it note.  I will add more information next time I make it.

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.

Ingredients:

* 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.