I know everyone has their own way of making these, but this is a fast, simple spin on an amazingly tasty appetizer.

8 large white button mushrooms, stems removed
¼ medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 oz. fat-free cream cheese
¼ C. light sour cream
¼ C. shredded cheese (mozzarella works well)
1/8 C. each bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
3 sliced turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. each toasted onion powder and basil
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 375.

Spray lightly a 13x9” baking dish. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except mushroom caps and shredded cheese, stirring until all ingredients are well mixed. Lightly spray each mushroom with cooking spray (to keep from sticking). Pack 3-4 T. of mixture into each mushroom cap, then top with shredded and parsley.
Bake for 12-18 minutes at 375. Mushrooms are done when mixture is cooked through and cheese is melted.
This recipe taste like a cross between an orange chicken and a chicken fajita. It's sweet, smoky flavor pairs well with rice, any way you fix it. I can't wait to serve this to a crowd!

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 tsp. each cumin and toasted onion powder
2 tsp. lemon pepper
3/4 C. Asian Sesame marinade
1 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium orange bell peppers, finely diced
2 T. corn starch
cooking spray

Coat large covered skillet with cooking spray. Heat on medium high and add chicken and spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turn chicken, add marinade and mushrooms. Cook for 5-8 minutes, add pepper, cooking additional 5-10 minutes. Add corn starch, cook til sauce has thickened. Serve over rice.
Yield = 6 servings
While DH enjoys pasta, he gets tired of the same noodle style quickly. I am a spaghetti girl through and through, but baby: this one's for you!

1 jar Light Alfredo Sauce
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (reduced sodium)
1/3 C. sour cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 T. milk
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced thin
6 slices of turkey bacon, cooked til crispy, then crumbled
1 medium to large chicken breast, cut into strips
1/2 tsp. each garlic salt, dry minced onion, and oregano
1 lb. rotini pasta, cooked as directed on the box
1/4 lb. mozarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp. parsley

Preheat oven to 375.

In small non-stick pan, spray with cooking spray and sauteed mushrooms over a medium high til they are tender.

In 13x9" baking dish, combine jar of alfredo sauce, cream of mushroom/chicken, sour cream, and milk. Crumble turkey bacon, add mushrooms and cooked pasta, stir well.

In medium fry pan, spray with cooking spray and add chicken and spices. Coat well. Cook on medium for 6-10 minutes, when juices run clear turn to to a high heat and lightly brown. Cool and rough chop the chicken, add to pasta mixture, top with cheese, then with parsley.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or til cheese is fully melted.
Yield = 4-6 servings

Thank you, thank you, thank you to LittlePeopleWealth for the Lemonade Award! This is super exciting. I love all the comments, all the followers, and all comraderie that blogging inspires. To take a line from Sally Fields, "You love me, you really do love me."

The 6 terrific blogs I'd like to pass this award onto are:

1. Nidena - I love her refreshing attitude!
2. Living on the coast - This girl inspires me to save better and shop smarter.
3. Grocery Hound Poker Chick - She always makes me feel like I'm in the action.
4. Hounding with frugalsuz - my deals wouldn't be possible without her help!
5. Life is hard - Just keep swimming - Her tenacity and determination motivate me.
6. The Martha Initiative: I adore people that have initiative.

With that said, there is nothing in life sweeter than turning lemons into lemonade, so without further ado - I give you a lemony twist on what was my grandmother's chocolate chip cookie recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Lemon Almond Cookies
1/2 C. each brown and granulated sugar
1 stick margarine, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder, dissolved in 1 T hot water
2 C. flour
1 C. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375.
In large bowl, cream together sugars and margarine. Mix in egg and extract. Stir in dissolved baking powder, stir in flour, and mix in almonds.
Drop by rounded spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes for soft cookie, 12 minutes for crunchy cookie.
Yield = 24-30 cookies
Sometime between early November and the beginning of January, I had stumbled into a dinner rut. Often forgetting to pull something out of the freezer (which is full to bursting), dinners became dull affairs frequently consisting of grilled cheese, breakfast, or tacos. Nothing wrong with any of those foods, but when you have those for dinner at least once per week each, it gets old fast. It wasn't until I saw a recipe on 4 Hats and Frugal that I was snapped from my perilous rut.
Lurking as I tend to during moments of hunger and boredom (funny how those always seem to go hand in hand, isn't it?), I began picking my way through recipe sites and blogs, through food manufacturer websites and restaurant menus. Now, when I hit that last one (drooling over pictures of food from Applebees and Olive Garden), I knew something had to give.
I found some hidden gumption (or maybe I just momentarily lost it, whatever the case may be) and ventured bravely into the world of chili. Now, I'm a bit of a picky eater at the best of times, so for someone that protested to hate chili (and its despicable beans, to0), my family was notably surprised when I told them to be ready for a Tex-Mex style, no beans chili.....with mushrooms. Even to my ears, it sounded odd, but curiosity got the better of my family.....
The chili came up aces! Even I liked it, which was the biggest surprise of all. In between bites, I mumbled about how I may have learned to like chili sooner if I knew the beans weren't necessary, that mushrooms could be added, and that you could top it with cheese. Anything with both cheese and mushrooms was a possibility in my book.
Trying to keep excited, I whipped up a batch of ginger-spiced pear bars with white chocolate and golden raisins for our dessert and almost cried at the tartness of the juicy pears, the sweet richness of golden raisins, and the gentle nip of ginger against the silkiness of the white chocolate. This was better than dining out - no where else could I find flavors so bold, so striking, so fun, and so affordable.
The next week, I tried to keep things lively with a batch of quickie chickie, a 3-cheese mushroom omelet, and the inevitable set in.......

I forgot to thaw something for dinner, and it was back to grilled cheese - again. Nothing else seemed appealing, thawing takes the kind of time I don't have at 5 p.m. when I get home from work and start on dinner. Luckily for me, the grilled cheese was not to be. DM had been out shopping that day, and boy does that lady have a weakness for meat sales. In this case, the culprit that enticed her was $1.49 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Needless to say, she got several pounds worth.
As she & I chatted, it became clear that the days of grilled cheese as a staple dinner menu option were not merely numbered, but that their numbers had run out.
I scampered into the kitchen, trying to think of what to pair with the chicken I was slicing and dicing while using some of the fresh produce I had been buying lately. On the counter were some amazing red, orange, and yellow bell peppers. The orange bell peppers were so vibrant, I knew they'd have to go in this creation. I went to the fridge and pulled out a half pound of mushrooms. While looking at these ingredients, the only side dishes that made sense was some chicken flavored Rice-A-Roni, salad, and a pile of tortillas.
Once the chicken was chopped, the mushrooms sliced, and the peppers finely chopped - there was only one thing to do: get out a large covered skillet and start cooking. First went the chicken and mushrooms, some spices, a little marinade, then the peppers. 10 minutes later, the house smelled like a Chinese-Mexican fusion restaurant. What could be closer to heaven? Nothing.
DH comes home from work as I'm smelling heaven, opens the door, and grins. He hasn't said a word, but he's never this happy about grilled cheese. He walks past me, giving me a distracted kiss while heading straight into the kitchen and eyeing what's on the stove. Still smiling, he casually remarks, "No grilled cheese, huh? That's cool." Without being asked, the table is set, the drinks are poured, and my hubby and mother are both peeking around the entryway between the parlor and the kitchen waiting.
In a flash, we're sitting around the kitchen table. Before diving in, I attempt to savor the moment, breathing in the tangy scent of pepper and sweet, fresh citrusy scent. DH had already dove into the chicken, pausing briefly only to ask if I'd like a tortilla. One bite and I know my days of ordering orange chicken are done. The chicken is sweet and tangy, the peppers and mushrooms combined with the marinade to make for a robust, rich sauce.
What little there was left of that meal became my lunch for the next day, where one of my coworkers exclaimed, "That smells amazing." I simply grinned and replied with thank you, I'll type up the recipe next week.
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Last spring when my sister and nephews were visiting from MN, I wanted to bake a dessert geared towards the kids, but wouldn't be too expensive in case they didn't like it. Noticing how the kids love ice cream related desserts, I thought I'd test this one out on them.

1 pkg. banana flavored cake mix
2 eggs, minus one yolk
1/4 C. each brown sugar, unsweetened applesauce, and juice (orange, apple, or blend)
1 tsp. strawberry-banana extract
12 strawberries, chopped (optional)
1/4 C. each chocolate chips, dried pineapple, and chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13x9" baking dish.
Mix well cake mix, eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, juice, extract, and strawberry pieces til well blended. Stir in dried pineapple. Mixture will be thick.
Spread evenly into prepared pan.
Top with nuts and chocolate chips.

Bake for 24-27 minutes.
Cool, cut, and serve.
Yield = 24-36 bars

Serving suggestions: Top with vanilla frozen yogurt, light whipped topping, and caramel syrup
A few years ago, DH & I were on a weekend trip to Milwaukee, just to get out of the crazy-busy area we live in and enjoy someone else's city for a while. When, much to my amazement, we discovered, it's a foodie's dream! Between Usinger's Sausage Shop, Mars Cheese Castle, JellyBelly Distribution Center, the amazing (free parking, too!) Public Market, and my personal favorite, The Spice House. While each of the stops has free tasting, I simply adore the spice house.
It was our first trip to Milwaukee, so, naturally the interstate is under massive construction and we get detoured onto a series of crazy one way streets, into the heart of downtown Milwaukee. As we're driving, I spotted the sign for Milwaukee's Public Market and begged DH to pull over into the nearby parking lot. I was so excited about the parking being free - it didn't quite dawn on me what I had accidentally discovered. Never having been to even a farmer's market, I was all excited about going to a market - even if it wasn't an open-air one.
Eagerly, I grabbed DH's hand and headed into the throng of people. The moment I stepped in, I knew I was in heaven. I could smell garlic, fresh baked bread, cookies, sausage, plump, ripened tomatoes, rich fudge, and sweet fresh citrus. I couldn't decide which direction to head in first, I was spellbound by the sight before me.
Luckily for me, the surge of people behind me propelled me forward, past the cookies and breads, past the smoothie stand and straight to cheese and sausage heaven. I spied a table of samples, a greedily grabbed a toothpick and selected a plump, tender piece of sausage, while DH dove into a spicy chipotle cheddar spread, armed only with his wits and some broken tortilla chips.
For the better part of an hour, we nibbled our way through foccacia and ginger spiced mandarin orange pieces, crunchy breadsticks dipped in dill cream spread, tequila black bean sausage, raspberry white chocolate bars, aged sharp cheddar, and maple-dipped popcorn. After all those samples, we ended up back where we started, and I glanced over my shoulder to where the densest part of the crowd was gathered.
In our haze of tasting, we overlooked a small booth of spices - as quaint as an apothecary, where people kept gathering, shoulder to shoulder, intent and focused. Not to miss anything, I abandoned the cheese & sausage shop, and scuttled over to the spices. I grabbed the first bottle that had SAMPLE printed boldly on the label and took a deep breath of the most intoxicatingly hearty scent I'd ever smelled outside of an Italian restaurant. Briefly I savored the robust tomato, deep garlic, and sweet, tangy onion scent before reading the label: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Spice.
It honestly smelled like you were in the pizza. Nothing was the same for me again. I smelled Chinese 5 spice, gingerroot, orange zest, hickory smoked salt, toasted onion powder, Tahitian vanilla bean, coffee extract, and dozens of others. As I wove my way through the crowd, I noticed they had several bottles of cinnamon, from cinnamon sugar, to Cassia cinnamon (from China), to Indonesian cinnamon, and Mexican cinnamon. On each label, they gave a little of the history of the spice - so I quickly learned that cinnamon actually comes from the bark of a tree, depending on the region the cinnamon was harvested from would determine its flavor.
I closed my eyes and breathed deeply from the Mexican cinnamon. It's mild, earthy scent was soothing. Eagerly, I grabbed the Indonesian cinnamon and its darker, deeper, tangier scent assailed me, it was so heady and rich. Finally I grabbed the Cassia cinnamon - so sweet, bright, almost flowery - I had to have it. With a sweet tooth like mine, it was an easy choice.
Each spring or summer, DH & I dutifully head back to Milwaukee, in search of my next gotta-have-it spice, the next cookie recipe I simply have to imitate, the next elusive flavor to become enchanted with.
When I thought my cinnamon-sniffing days were dormant til warmer months, I was given 2 bottles of Madasgar cinnamon for Christmas, and my FIL even brought back cinnamon sticks for me from Mexico.
We soon learned that the Spice House had a retail outlet besides the booth in the market, so while we never miss a chance to graze our way through the market, every time we're in town, I head to the Spice House - wondering what will I discover next...
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This was a throw together meal, using what I had on hand. To find a good deal on flank steak, check out your local Mexican grocery store - it's usually 20-50% cheaper there - any unbelievably fresh!

1 1/4 lbs. flank steak, julienned
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1/4 medium red onion, sliced thin
1/2 C. Caribbean Jerk style marinade (Lawry's), plus 2 T. marinade
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dry minced garlic
cilantro (optional)

In medium bowl, marinate flank steak, add cumin and garlic. Allow to marinate 1-2 hours.
In large skillet, liberally coat the bottom with cooking spray. Add mushrooms with 2 T. marinade, cook on medium-high for 6-8 minutes. Add in meat, onion, pepper. Cook on medium high for 10-12 minutes until mushrooms are tender and meat is no longer pink. Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, salsa, cilantro, sour cream, rice, and beans.
Yield = 4-6 servings
I got another amazing recipe from 4 Hats & Frugal, but decided to put a bit of a spin on it. If you get a chance to check out her blog, her peachy chicken (I've done it with pork chops, too) is heaven in your mouth! Thanks for the great recipe!!!

1 can (29 oz.) each tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes
8 oz. each BBQ sauce and salsa (mild)
1 lb. ground turkey, browned with 1/2 lb. ground portabella mushrooms and 2 T. dry minced onion
1 palmful chocolate chips (dark or semisweet)
1 T. cumin
1 tsp. each minced garlic and cajun seasoning
2 T. honey or 1/4 C. sweet n sour sauce
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped

Add all ingredients to crockpot, cook on low for 3-5 hours.
Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped red onion, and cilantro.
Serves: 6-8
I, along with my faithful accomplice (DH), went to 6 different CVS stores for a total of 12 transactions yesterday to make good use of that memorable $3 CVS brand item coupon before it expired. My totals are in:
OOP = $58.17
Savings = $321.01
Q Savings = $206
Qty. = 155
# FREE = 98
ECB's Earned = $5

A big thank you to frugalsuz, Sam814, and all the other hounds on the Grocery Challenge - your ideas/scenarios really helped. Though part of me is glad this coupon has expired, I will miss it dearly. There is nothing quite as fun as shopping, especially when you aren't spending that much money. Now, I'm off - tomorrow I'll check out for more deals and look for the next FREE ride.
I got so excited to see mushrooms on sale last week at Meijer for $1 a package(organic ones - even better!) that I bought 4 lbs. of them. Each day for the next week, our dinner will feature some sort of mushroom in it.
Wednesday - Portabella, mozzarella, ham, and Italian smoked sausage omelets with hashbrowns, juice, and fresh fruit
Thursday - homemade pizza topped with Italian sausage and mushrooms
Friday - DHunny's chili, with 1/2 lb. ground mushrooms added to the ground turkey mixture
Saturday - Flank Steak, Red Bell Pepper, and Portabella fajitas with a Chipotle Lime marinade (and all the fajita fixin's!)
Sunday - Cream of Mushroom Soup, served with cornbread (or brown and serve rolls) and a garden salad topped with sun dried tomatoes and crumbled cheddar cheese

I don't know if I'll have any mushrooms left after that line up, but if I do - I've got some more great recipes in mind!
I tried to fight the CVS addiction, but as the end of the infamous $3 coupon draws near, I am unable to keep from hounding....and hounding.....and hounding up more CVS stuff. This morning, it's -10 degrees out (with a wind chill factor of -28) so it feels as if I've been transplanted to the frozen tundra. What do I do? I stop at CVS on my way to work - grab those GE Cheese Crackers with 25% more and smile as I pay $.96 after using the $3 Q, and receive $2 in ECBs. I look at my stack of $3 Q's, notice there are only 6-7 left and panic: I need more!
Even though we are not supposed to be above freezing for the next 2-3 days, I'm still planning how to get the most out of my remaining days with that coupon. I'm even amking of list of things I should grab more of, like 7 body washes are a good start, but I should definitely grab more. I love this kind of shopping because I get to feel like I'm spending money without actually spending money.
I think of coupons as shopping with someone else's money. Most of us did that as pre-teens, maybe even teenagers - and we loved it. Couponing has become my "IT" thing to do. I think it's amazingly cool that someone else (or some company) is willing to foot the bill for some of my shopping. Now, if only I could turn this into a full-time job (with benefits, of course), I'd be in heaven.
I can't believe I've finally done it: I've gone into a store, selected an item, and paid for it using a coupon. No tax, no $.02, just handed them a coupon and scampered out the door.
If you're wondering what I got, here it is: 2/$3 toothbrushes - after $3 off cvs brand item coupon (IP), they were FREE! But, hey - that's not all. I also grabbed the Essence of Beauty Walnut Whip (lotion and shower gel) on clearance at $3 - for FREE. Mother's Day gift baskets are going to be super-affordable this year.

My goal for affordable gift-baskets or gift giving this year is off to an amazing start. I grabbed Hershey's Bliss (Target Christmas clearance) with $.18 overage, I've scarfed up Botticelli Truffles for $1.99 (WAGS), almond bark $.19 for a 20 oz. pkg. (to use up my overage from the Bliss) will make some great dipped pretzels (which I grabbed at CVS last week using the $1 off any 2 pretzel Q plus they were BOGO 1/2 off - so $.19 for 2 bags - great Valentine's gift), and a stack of Christmas CD's ($.69 at Target Christmas clearance). This past Christmas, DH & I spent less than $500 for everything, from food to gifts, to decorations and entertaining. I'm hoping to cut that amount for 2009 - and that means getting things free or close to it, snapping up simple baskets, and using some imagination.
I don't know if it's all these trips to CVS or if I just have cabin fever, but looking out the window to another day of snow and ice has me wanting endless beaches filled with white sand (not endless parking lots filled with dirty-white snow) and the taste of something tropical. As a misplaced southerner (I've lived in Michigan, Minnesota, and now Illinois), I have a desire for things tropical (especially in winter), but I think anything with coconut or pineapple in it should be considered tropical or island food. At least I know my own short-comings.
I keep coming up batches of stuff with rum extract, flaked coconut (which I hounded - of course), or some kind of citrusy something so I can feel like summer is on its way (which it most assuredly is not).

I've been going crazy at CVS - grabbing up lots of their brand items (7 bottles of liquid handsoap refill, 5 bottles of body wash, 18 rolls of paper towel, 24 rolls of TP, etc, etc.) I have been keeping a list of all the things I've grabbed, but after 10 transactions on Saturday (5 each for DH & I), 3 on Sunday - I have nearly lost track of what I've gathered. That's OK - I'll stop at 2-3 CVS stores on my way home - I still get excited at getting something for free (or darn close to it)!
1 pkg. pineapple cake mix
2 eggs, minus one yolk
1/3 C. brown suigar
1/4 C. each unsweetened applesauce and juice (apple or orange)
1/2 tsp. rum extract
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 C. sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 C. macadamia nuts
1/2 C. dried cherries or pineapple

Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a 13x9" baking dish.
MIx well all ingredients. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 24-28 minutes.
Cool and cut.
Yield = 24 bars.
1 pkg. cinnamon swirl cake mix
2 eggs
1/4 C. each brown sugar and unsweetened applesauce
1/3 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. white chocolate chips
1/2 C. raisins (optional)
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a 13x9" baking dish.
Mix well all but final 2 ingredients. Stir in chips (and raisins/nuts).
Spread evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 24-27 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar, cool, and cut.
Yield = 24 bars.
I love the taste and flavor of coconut, so if you're a fan of it too - give this recipe a try. These are great with a big glass of iced tea.

1 stick margarine
1/2 C. unsweetened applesauce
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 T. honey (optional)
1/4 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. rum extract
1 3/4 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
3 1/2 C. oats
1 C. coconut (toasted or untoasted)
1/2 C. almonds (sliced) or macadamian nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together margarine, applesauce, sugars til creamy. Add in eggs, honey, and extracts, beat well. Add in combined flour, ginger, baking soda, stirring in slowly til all ingredients are well blended. Stir in oats, coconut, and nuts. Drop by rounded spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, cool and store in airtight container.
Yield = 36-42 cookies
Some of the best recipes are borne out of necessity, or availability - and this one is no different. I generally serve this with mashed potatoes, but it can be served over rice or noodles, if preferred.

1 1/2 lbs. chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces
8 oz. fresh mushrooms - sliced
1/2 tsp. each basil, onion powder, and garlic salt
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Spray large skillet with cooking spray, on medium-high heat, add chicken and spices and cook 5-7 minutes or until chicken golden on outside. Add mushrooms and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add soups and black pepper - simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes or til mixture is well-blended and hot. Serve over mashed potatoes.
To give some desserts an elegant, flavorful finish without spending lots of money, keep these simple essentials on hand: powdered sugar, cinnamon, instant coffee, nutmeg, ginger, and cocoa powder.
For a spiced powdered sugar, simply mix 1 C. powdered sugar with 1 to 2 tsp. of any spice or instant coffee. This is sure to impress!

And to turn this into a glaze, add 1-2 T. milk and a 1/4 tsp. of your favorite extract, liquer, or flavor.
1 pkg. devils food cake mix
2 eggs, minus one yolk
1/3 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. each unsweetened applesauce and cold coffee
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 C. chocolate chips or chunks
1/4 C. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a 13x9" baking dish.
Mix well ingredients except chips. Stir in chocolate chips or chunks. Spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Top with white chocolate chips (if desired).
Bake for 24-27 minutes. Cool, dust with spiced powdered sugar, and cut.
Yield = 24 bars.
I've been going crazy over this great deal at CVS. Now, BOGO 1/2 off isn't usually neough incentive to get me out there shopping, I mean it's good, but it's simply not good enough. What makes it more than good enough: cvs has a printable coupon for $3 off any CVS brand item purchase - and a great many things fall into this category. With the BOGO 1/2 off, many things are......FREE!
Here are some of my favorite picks:
Clearanced liquid hand soap refill - $1.60 (15 oz.)
Clearanced body wash $2.15 each
Spices: $.99 each (BOGO 1/2 off)
Paper Towel $1.99 (3 pk. - yep, it's bogo 1/2 price, too)
Liquid hand soap $1.69 (BOGO 1/2 off)
Aspirin $1.99 (100 ct.)
Band-Aids $2.29 (60 ct.)
IBprofen $1.99
There are soooo many items, and just not enough time. The only kick in the pants with this deal is the wording at the bottom of the coupon, "limit one coupon per customer." So I'll stop at each CVS on my route every day until that coupon expires.
There is nothing like getting my toiletries for free or darn close to it.
At my office, one of our bosses sent us a holiday basket with some pears in it - since I've never been able to afford pears, this recipe (hopefully) will be a delightful way to use them!

1 box spice cake mix
1/4 C. unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs, minus one yolk
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. sweetened iced tea
2 pears, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. rum extract

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix well all ingredients.
Spread evenly into greased 13x9" baking dish.
Bake for 25-27 minutes, cool, dust with powdered sugar, and cut.
Yield 24-36 bars.
From June 1st through December 31st (that's when I started tracking my grocery spending on a spreadsheet), my year end totals are listed:
OOP: $1127.47
Savings: $2720.42
Q Savings: $1213.91
# of Items = 2111
FREE Items = 451

I can't wait to see what 2009 brings!
Decembers total are in and I must admit it's far better than expected.

OOP: $129.92
Savings: $169.72
Q. Savings: $83.64
# of items purchased: 145
# of FREE items: 40
In my local ads, Jewel has General Mills cereals (selected varities) 4/$6. $1.50 a box for name brand cereal is cheaper than Aldi's (my previous measure for what was cheap enough for this hound), but it'll be even better with some coupons I grabbed from for $1 off any 2 listed GM cereals. $1 a box, now that sounds even better. Looks like I'll be harvesting some more deals today.
In addition to the cereal, I've got a few coupons (printables again, of course) for $3 off any CVS brand item purchase. I grabbed some shampoo and conditioner yesterday for $.29 a bottle. I can live with that. Today, I'll make a list of the toiletries that I need, and stuff that would go great in Easter baskets - and as the limit is one coupon per customer, start making small stops at all the local CVS stores. There is one near my home, 2 on the way to work for me, 3-4 on the way to Dh's work. This will be a great way to fill in the gaps in my hounding. I hope to find some sandwich bags, paper towel, mouth wash, body wash, hand soap (I always need this), basic medicines, cough drops, small bags of candy, etc. Right now they even have BOGO 1/2 off on their CVS brand items (mix and match style) so this will be great. I'm looking forward to a good hounding today!
I still have a few Hershey's Bliss coupons left, so I'll be hoping to score a pile of those, as well. That'll wrap up Valentines Day gifts, as I've already collected 9 bags of candy - between Target & Meijer - for less than $.35.
It never ceases to surprise me how so little $$ can go so far. I still feel like a pup-in-training - new to the benefits of hounding.

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