Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aldi-way Cocoa Cookies

Growing up in Pennsylvania, you become attached to foods. Philly Cheesesteak, fresh pretzels (sold on street corners by homeless people no less), Funny Cake and Shoo-fly Pie, Tasty Kakes and Archway cookies. I spent 4 years in Phoenix and could not find an Archway cookie to save my life. My favorite are the Dutch Cocoa cookies. A 3 1/2" across chocolate sugar cookie. The outside is crunched with sugar crystals, and the inside is soft and chewy like a brownie. Chocolatey and sweet goodness causes you to go to another world.

The unfortunate thing about Archway cookies? Well, they are $3.59 for EIGHT COOKIES!!! If I'm going to pay that much it's going to be for Girl Scout Cookies!

I think I was about 13 years old when I came across this recipe. It's officially called "Cake Mix Cookies". I've made them with lemon cake, vanilla cake, carrot cake, pumpkin cake....but my favorite, by far, is with Devil's Food Cake. I'm concerned that I might get sued by Archway because Cake Mix Cookies made with Devil's Food Cake Mix are so similar, I have to be breaking a law SOMEHOW! And, the price tag....lets just say you get a lot more for a lot less!!!


Aldi-way Cocoa Cookies

1 Box Baker's Corner Devil's Food Cake Mix (.89)
2 Eggs (.11/ea)
1/3 Cup Oil (.20 - sells for 2.29/quart)
1/2 Cup sugar in a shallow, wide bowl
Flat Bottomed Glass

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix Cake mix, eggs and oil together well (I use the paddle attachment on my KitchenAid). This will be a thick dough.

Use a small cookie scoop (1 Tbs) and portion out. Roll into balls and place 2" apart on a cookie sheet. Dip the glass in sugar and press each ball into 1/4" thickness...redose with sugar for each one.

Bake 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for one minute and then move to a cooling rack.

This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies plus a few! You can also allow dough to rest and spread out and use cookie cutters with this and sprinkle the sugar on top instead.

And it you're REALLY in the mood for a treat - put a big scoop of ice cream between two cookies! I DARE YOU!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mexican Egg Bake

Some nights for dinner, we cheat and have breakfast. I love this! My family also loves this. Having breakfast for dinner is an inexpensive way to feed your clan.

I experimented with a new recipe tonight, and it was just too good not to share! I love making something new, and unexpected, and having my family be attracted to the kitchen purely by smell. It's also fun to hear "YAY, we're having breakfast for dinner!". Even my picky and reluctant 4 year old ate her piece up without complaining!

Mexican Egg Bake

8 Golden Hen Eggs (.88 - based on .11/egg)
1/3 Cup Fit & Active Non-fat Plain Yogurt (.14 - based on 1.69 for 4 Cups)
1/3 Cup Casa Mamita Salsa (I used mild, but feel free to use whatever heat you like) (.17 - based on 1.68 for 3 cups oz)
1 Cup Happy Farms Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (.57 - based on $2.29 for 4 Cups)
1 Cup Crushed Clancy White Corn Tortilla chips (crush BEFORE measuring) (.25 - this is a total GUESS!!! It's .99/)

Preheat oven to 325.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Pour into a greased deep dish pie plate OR 9" Cake pan.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the center is set (not too wiggly...a little wiggly is okay b/c it will set up as it is pulled out the oven)

Serve with Appleton Brown & Serve Sausage (.99 for a 10 pack of links)

That is $3.00. The casserole serves 6, the sausages serve 5 - 2 links each. Now...for the servings that include 2 sausage links - that's .50/serving! WHAT???? I also, as you can see in the picture, put a dollup of salsa on to of mine. My kids used Frank's Red Hot Sauce instead. :)

Enjoy dinner, knowing you saved a BUNDLE!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken Pot-pie Stoup

Well, it's been really cold here lately. So much for that global warming, thing, huh? I always have a hankering for soup or stew when it's cold. Something warm and comforting to take the edge off the bitterness of the cold. I have stolen a word from Rachel Ray (as much as I hate to do that), but a "stoup" is not quite thin like a soup, and not quite thick enough to be a stew. So "stoup" is not a mistype. I also have a terrible cold, or possibly a sinus infection. Spending a lot of time cooking in the kitchen is really just not appealing to me today. I still need to feed my wonderful family, no matter how sick I am.

We had chicken for dinner a few nights ago, and had leftovers. I bought this chicken at another store for $1.88/lb - boneless skinless. I have tried the IQF (individually quick frozen) Boneless/Skinless Chicken at Aldi, and it is VERY Good, so feel free to use that here. I happen to be lucky enough to live near a deli that sells B/S Chicken Breast for $1.69-$1.99/lb as long as you buy it in over 10 lb bags and break it down yourself. For comparison the IQF Chicken at Aldi is about $2.49/lb. All that was just to say that you can use any leftover chicken and it will be yummy and delicious.

2 Cans Fit & Active Cream of Chicken Soup (.69/ea)
1 Can Fit & Active Chicken Broth (.59/can)
1 Can Cut Green Beans (.39/can)
1 Can Sweet Whole Kernel Corn (.39/can)
1 Can Sliced Carrots (.39/can)
1 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed (.99/16 oz bag)
2 to 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed

Pot-pie Dumplings:
2 Cups Baker's Corner All Purpose Baking Mix ($1.69/box)
2/3 Cup Milk (our 2% is currently $3.15/gallon)

Mix all soup ingredients except chicken in large soup pot and bring to just about a boil. Add chicken and stir in. Reduce heat to a simmer and prepare dumplings.

Mix baking mix and milk together until a soft dough forms. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto soup (be careful to not allow them to drop INTO soup). Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

This soup made about 8 servings. By my calculations that made each serving approximately $.50 per serving. :) ENJOY!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

I'm going to admit, first and foremost, that this first recipe is kind of a cheat. It currently appears on another blog I did for a while called In The Kitchen with Krista. In fact, it was an Aldi post on that blog! Well, I've been playing and tweaking this recipe for a while now and have it where I just adore it. And so does my oldest daughter (who, mind you, would snub a tomato and a red pepper in any other state of existence). And last night, my 8 year old son said "Mom, you make the best soup".

This recipe originated from my desire to preserve some grape tomatoes that were on sale at Aldi for 99 cents. I have adapted to make it with the Roma Tomatoes that they sell there, simply because they are cheaper and because the actually have a more balanced taste in the soup this way.

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

2 lbs Roma Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic
1 Red Pepper, sliced in strips
1 half medium onion, cut in 8ths
1 stalk celery, sliced in 1" chunks
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Chef's Cupboard chicken bullion cubes (can use beef or veggie too)
2 Cups freshly boiled water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut an "X" into the bottom of each tomato and place in a pot of boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the cut edges start to curl up. Immediately place in an ice water bath (this is called "shocking"). Peel off and discard tomato skins. Cut tomatoes into quarters and place in roasting pan. Remove skins from garlic cloves and add to tomatoes. Add red pepper, onion and celery to the pan. Pour olive oil over vegetables, sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Place vegetables in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes - until vegetables are soft and just starting to brown A LITTLE (carefully, if you burn even will make it yucky). While the veggies are roasting, boil some water.

When the vegetables are done, pour into a blender or food processor (depending on the size of blender or food processor, you may need to do this in batches). Liquify the vegetables. Open blender/food processor and add the bullion cubes and boiling water. Cover blender/food processor with lid, liquify again. Add more water if necessary. You may add salt at this time too, if you feel the need. If you do need to process in batches in your blender and food processor, you can put 1 boullion cube, and 1 cup water in each batch, then mix together before serving. OR...if you have one, pour all the roasted vegetables into a big pot and use an immersion blender.

Either way you choose, process until very smooth and creamy in texture. It really has a creamy taste and texture without the fat of adding cream. Now...if you want to add cream, milk or half and half for the richness, you can do that instead of the water.

Serve, and enjoy! Top with croutons, cheese, fishies, saltines....whatever you like in your tomato soup.

Now. For the tally of ingredients. My most recent batch, which would make 6-8 1 cup servings, cost $5.34. That makes it $.89 to $.67 per serving.

NOTE: When using a blender to blend hot liquids it is BEST to leave the center cap off the lid and cover with a towel. Secure the towel with your hand while the blender is running. If you do not do this, pressure from the steam can build up and cause harm or injury. So don't do that, it will ruin your dinner.

ANOTHER NOTE: If you add less water when processing, this is more of a "sauce" and would be great over pasta.

Aldi Shopping Tips

Before you GO to Aldi, here are some tips to make the trip go well.

1. Take a quarter with you. One of the ways that Aldi keeps their prices low is they don't pay out oodles of money to have employees chasing carts in the parking lot for rude people who won't return them to cart corrals. The carts are usually near the front (inside or outside) of the store, linked together by a clever little box where you insert a quarter and it releases the lock. Now....don't worry, when you put your groceries in your car and return the cart to the corral, you place the lock in the back and it releases your quarter. Sometimes a newly arrived shopper will give you THEIR quarter and take your cart for you :D.

2. Take bags with you. Another savings is not paying a teenager to bag your groceries for you. You bag your own. In this day and age where the recyclable/reusable bags are all the rage, you probably already have some. I have a TON of them. You can also buy bags at Aldi, too. It's 5 cents for a paper bag, 10 cents for a big sturdy plastic bag and $1.99 for a LARGE reusable fabric bag.

3. Get to know the manager of your store and find out when they stock things like bread, meats and produce so that you shop on a day when it's the freshest possible. (or for things like bread, they're only allowed to keep on the store floor for 5 days, so that 6th day they sell the bread left on the floor for .25 for .50 a loaf!) My local Aldi stocks their produce on Thursday mornings, so I try to shop on Thursday or Friday, if possible.

4. Prepare yourself to be blown away by their prices and not understanding how grocery stores can get away with what they charge for the same things!!! For example, I often buy the three pack of romaine hearts (I just adore romaine lettuce) for $1.69-$1.99 ($1.69 in the summer, $1.99 in the winter). My local big chain store sells them regularly for $3.99 for the same size package. AND...even if it goes on sale, it's still cheaper at Aldi. Don't even get me started on cereal!!!

5. Don't be afraid. Try the stuff. I know a lot of folks are scared on non-branded things. Don't be. My children PREFER Aldi stuff. I've had great coupons, matched with great sales and bought up a deal at a big chain, only to find that my kids prefer eating the Aldi version of the same food and snubbing the name brand stuff!

Okay, hope this makes your first (or your millionth trip) to Aldi a good one!


Do you like to save money?

I do. I do a lot.

How do I feed my family of five? Aldi. Plain and simple. If it weren't for Aldi, I'd starve. I like a coupon as much as the next person. I do still shop at major chains, for sales, with coupons in hand, and walk out saving 60-80% because I only buy what I walked in for. They really don't like me at my local grocery stores b/c they pay me to shop there. Doesn't make them THAT happy.

Okay, so what happens when you can't live off mayonaise and shampoo and you actually have to buy FOOD and lots of it to feed your families???


If you've never heard of Aldi, please visit to check them out. They're not your normal grocery store. There aren't 18 brands of something you get to choose from. You want toothepaste, you buy toothepaste. You want ketchup, you get ketchup. They keep about 2500 items on hand at all times, held in palates, easy to grab, easy to load, easy to store. They don't advertise. Well, I take that back...between infomercials at 3:00 a.m. you'll catch an ad for Aldi. They also carry special items seasonally that you can purchase for a limited time.

What does all of this mean to YOU, the consumer? Unbelievable savings that don't require you to clip coupons, shop ads and travel to 5 different stores to go grocery shopping AND save money. Can you do ALL your shopping at Aldi? No...I can't lie there. They don't have fresh herbs. They don't have exotic cheeses, etc. BUT, you can do MOST of your shopping there - if not all - MOST of the time.

What I hope to do with this blog is to break the stereotype of the discount grocery store.

If you don't have an Aldi close enough for you to shop, consider purchasing store brands rather than national brands, and see for yourself that they can be delicious, and more economical. Often, store brands are made by the national brands, just packaged for the store. You pay less and get the same thing without even knowing it. Ahhh, the big lie: that you need to buy the higher priced national brand to get the same taste and quality. OFTEN, you can have a great coupon, and the item's on sale BUT the store brand is still cheaper. It happens. It happens a lot. are open. Be on the lookout for great, economical recipes. I'll try to share the cost savings when possible.