Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: July 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years

Recently we purchased a Costco membership and I had many ask, how come?
Well, here are my reasons.

Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!

Big box, big bulk stores.  I've found over the years people either love them or hate them.  Saying this I've also realized that people will tend to join one during various periods of their lives.

Single, living in a one room apartment and on a tight budget?  Not so much.

Mother of four, working full-time, willing to pay for convenience?  Absolutely.

The husband and I recently purchased a membership at Costco. 10 years ago we had one {before kids} when we lived in a much, much bigger city with it right down the road.  Then we moved, went down to one income, had 3 kids in 5 years and didn't have one close.  Needless to say it wasn't needed or in the budget.

Then a few years ago one opened up 25 minutes from us and then recently another one opened up 30 minutes from us in a different direction.  We were basically sandwiched between two brand new stores.  We talked about joining again in recent years, but up until last week we hadn't.  When I announced on Instagram we had joined again, I had quite a few readers ask simply, "WHY?".  There weren't being critical, they just really wanted to know the reasons for our decision.

And so I have written this blog post.

Here are the reasons that after 10 years of not being a member, we now are back in the saddle.  Read on and I'd love to hear your opinions {keep 'em nice}!

1.  Like I said prior, we now have two Costcos each within a 30 minute driving distance.  Both are in towns that we frequent at least monthly {if not more}, so it is not "out of the way" for us.  I strongly feel that if we did NOT have them this close then having a membership would be slim to none.

2.  We have 3 very hungry kids.  Ten years ago we were childless and even though we took advantage of many of their deals, let's face it - we were not going through granola bars like we are now.  It's simple math, we have a 9 year old boy, an 8 year old girl and a 5 year old girl.  In the summer especially I feel as soon as we finished breakfast, they are asking for lunch and as soon as we've finished lunch they are asking for a snack.  You get the picture.
Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!
3.  Two of our kids are on travel ball teams.  Baseball and softball consume our lives from April until July.  I'm not complaining, I absolutely LOVE watching them both play a sport they love, but it does require some planning when it comes to meals.  In fact last week when we bought our Costco membership it was prompted because we needed to purchase hot dogs, brats, buns and condiments for 50 people.  It was our daughter's end of the year softball pool party and since the husband is the head coach and in charge of the team's funds, we needed to purchase the food.  Let's just say purchasing this many hot dogs, brats, etc. was much cheaper at Costco then buying multiple of smaller quantities at a regular grocery store.

4.  I often found myself asking friends and relatives to purchase items for me at Costco.  My parents have a membership and a good friend of mine here in town has a membership, so if they ever mentioned they were making a trip there I'd ask them to grab me this or that or in some case I'd go with them.  I never needed much, but after awhile didn't want to rely on them for what I wanted to buy.
Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!
5.  As a food blogger I need to keep certain larger quantities of ingredients on hand.  I am forever running out of butter.  ALL THE TIME.  I bake a lot and generally just use it in our everyday cooking so I tend to keep a few boxes in the fridge and then a few more in the freezer {butter freezes great!}.  Often I'll have to remake a recipe as it needed some tweaking, therefore my butter stash dwindles quickly.  I also use a lot of canned tomatoes {fresh salsa, homemade sauces, etc.} and various kinds of cheese {do I have to explain why I need a lot of cheese?}.

6.  During the sports seasons we are often eating on the go.  All of our kids are involved in various sports, many of which require us being gone all day on a Saturday for a meet or multiple games.  Our rule is they can get ONE item at that said game or event, but I will not be purchasing junk for them all day long.  Let's face it some days we leave at 7 a.m. and don't get home till dinner.  Therefore, I'm packing a cooler and we're eating a lot of sandwiches, chips, cut up fruit and dip, granola bars and sports drinks.  It's much easier for me buy a 54 count bag of Frito Lay mini chips for $14.99, then to buy 54 separate mini bags of chips at the grocery store for 75 cents a piece each.  Easy math.

7.  Sometimes life hands you curve balls or special events come into play.  I will never become a weekly Costco shopper {our home is just too small with little storage}, but I can see myself stocking up for events on the calendar.  Forseeable we leave for vacation the first week of August.  I will be making a trip to purchase juice boxes, crackers and other fun food.  Remember how I mentioned that softball pool party?  Definitely an event that doesn't come around often.  And let's not forget that school starts in late August.  I'll be making a trip for granola bars, hands down.  Other life events include holiday Christmas parties, birthday parties and other various events like showers, family reunions and such.
Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!
8.  Frankly, I just like the store.  I like that I can walk in and buy a mattress, or a couch, a best selling book or a case of ketchup.  It's kinda fun!  Saying this, you do need to keep yourself in check.  It can be VERY easy to walk out spending much more than you budgeted for.  Plus they have many more amendities that we haven't even used {yet} like their photo department, pharmacy, optical, grocery delivery and heck even travel services (rental cars, vacation packages and hotels}.

9.  We chose to purchase the Executive Membership for $120 a year annually.  This also gives us 2% back on all our purchases at the end of the year.  Many people have told me it is often enough or they receive at least half back to pay for your membership that following year.

So there you go!  Those are the 9 reasons WE chose to buy a Costco membership.  I fully understand not all of our reasons will pertain to everyone.  If you have 8 kids, then you clearly have another reason I don't with only 3 kids.  If your kids aren't in sports then you might not care about their snack food as much.  But if you are a techy and love always having the latest and greatest in TVs, phones, laptops and more, then you might really love Costco {as they have it all}.  We all have different reasons and that is okay.

Here are a few of our favorites and/or staples that we often throw in the cart.

Clorox Wipes, $16.49 for a 5 pack {super handy during the winter flu season}

Pure Maple Syrup, $13.29 for 33.8 oz {I use a drizzle in this for my coffee every morning}

Quaker Oatmeal Packets, $11.49 for 52 packs {great for back to school busy mornings}

Gatorade, $10.99 for 28 count, 12 oz. bottles {ideal for summer sports}

Planters Variety Pack Nuts, $9.79 for 24 bags {the husband loves taking these to work}

Metamucil, $31.99, 2 pack {for the husband - who might be 80 - but this is such a cheap price!}

Capri Sun Juice Boxes, $8.99, 40 count {great for vacation coming up}

Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Strawberry Lemonade Blondies

Bursting with strawberry and lemon flavors, these bars are an ideal match for Summer!
Tangy, tart all wrapped up in a dense, sugar-cookie type bar....it's perfect.

strawberry lemonade blondies

It's now mid-July {how did that happen?}, hotter than blazes outside and my kids are in full on summer mode.  Currently they are spending a few days with one set of grandparents so naturally I'm getting caught up on all the things.

You know really important things.

Laundry, organizing closets, weeding the garden, making appointments, having cocktails on the back deck with friends and so much more.

It also means getting caught up on ALL the blog stuff.  With the kids home during the Summer it's much, much harder to get things done.  I try my best to get up early and work while the house is quiet but schedules do always allow that so I'm struggling a bit!

strawberry lemonade blondies

There is a whole back side of blogging that no one sees.

The endless emails from companies reaching out wanting you to try their product, researching and trying new recipes, photo sessions, launching product {hint}, developing new recipes for clients, back end website coding {blah}, scheduling social media posts and so much more.

Let's just say it's a job, but I love every minute of it.

I especially love when I recipe comes together on the first try and tastes delicious.  Ladies and gentleman enter in these Strawberry Lemonade Blondies.

strawberry lemonade blondies

I wanted to create a dessert that screamed Summer.  Strawberries are very much in season around these parts and let's face it lemonade just makes you think of hot Summer days.  Why not put them together?

Let are pretty much a match made in heaven.

Just like a normal blondie {the one with chocolate chips}, the bar part of this dessert is rich, thick, dense, a bit like a sugar cookie and just oh, so good.  I took the opportunity to mash up some fresh strawberries and fold it into the batter so in every bite you'd get a juicy burst of berry.

Plus, fresh lemon juice, let's not forget that.

strawberry lemonade blondies

The juice of one whole lemon goes into this bar, then more into the glaze.  I hope you like lemons!  I love how the strawberry lemon glaze sets up nicely after a bit making these bars easy to cut and store....they travel well.

If they make it that long.  I took one over to my friend who is on maternity leave and then my neighbor who often gets to taste test all my creations.  I'm sure the husband will ,devour the rest with the kids being gone.

Their sweet, tangy, cakey and sour.  Pretty much kinda perfect for hot weather days.

strawberry lemonade blondies

I'd love for you to try these!

Make them for Sunday night dessert.  Make them for your kid's Summer birthday.  Make them for your family's next gathering.  Just make them!

You won't be disappointed.  Share your photo with me on social media and I'll give ya a shout out.  Thanks for all your blog support and stay tuned.  Big things to come!

Strawberry Lemonade Blondies


Yield: 16 bars
Author:
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 35 Mtotal time: 45 M
All the flavors of Summer in a buttery, sugar cookie type bar! Bursting with lemon and strawberry flavors, this is the dessert you'll be making for years to come.

ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup mashed strawberries
For the Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 T mashed strawberries
  • 1 T lemon juice

instructions:

How to cook Strawberry Lemonade Blondies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a stand mixer combine the softened butter and sugar until creamy.  Gently beat in the egg and lemon juice to combine.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt mixing together to form a stiff dough.
  4. Gently fold in the mashed strawberries and press the dough into the greased baking dish.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes (do not overbake).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. To make the glaze whisk together the powdered sugar, mashed strawberries and lemon juice until smooth.  Pour over the cooled bars and allow the glaze to set.
  7. Cut into 16 bars.  To store keep covered.
Calories
239.59
Fat (grams)
11.97
Sat. Fat (grams)
7.38
Carbs (grams)
31.45
Fiber (grams)
0.71
Net carbs
30.74
Sugar (grams)
17.38
Protein (grams)
2.42
Sodium (milligrams)
191.75
Cholesterol (grams)
41.99
Created using The Recipes Generator

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

10 Easy Meal Ideas and Tips Using a $5 Rotisserie Chicken

Here's a fun new post if you are in a dinner rut and short on time!

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.

It's July!

The rush, rush, rush of June is gone {sports are finally chilling and taking a backseat this month} and now we are smack dab in the middle of Summer.  I'm trying to soak it all in and not even think about how school starts up towards the end of August.

Right now is all about lazy mornings {kids sleeping in, a peaceful cup of coffee} and spur-of-the-moment afternoons.  Want to head to the pool?  Sure! Pack and lunch and run some errands? Sure!  Call the neighbors and let the kids run around like wild animals?  Sure!

Basically what is NOT allowed during the school year, somehow becomes kosher during the Summer.  All and everyone are a bit more laid back and I love it.  Including meals.  I love to cook but I do not love cooking when everyone else is outside enjoying the beautiful weather and here I hover over the stove.

No ma'am.

A few weeks ago during all the craziness of ball games I was getting groceries and rather spontanously {for me, anyway} I snagged a $5 rotisserie chicken and thought to myself, "not sure what I'll do with this, but it looks delicious and my kids love chicken".

The end.

What later happened was this....

It become 3 different meals and it required little work for me.  All of this got me thinking. 1) I need to buy rotisserie chickens more often and 2) I bet other busy Moms are missing out on this revelation.  Being a food blogger I naturally wrote this post.

I hope you enjoy!

1)  Get that baby home and shred it to pieces.  It takes only 5 minutes and once it's done the rest is easy.  Keep some aside for a simple, traditional dinner that night {think roasted potatoes, shredded chicken and a veggie}and set the rest aside.

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.

2)  Always and forever make these Shredded Rotisserie Chicken Nachos.  What kid doesn't love nachos?  I like to get out a big sheet pan, line it with foil {easy clean up} and layer all my favorites on.  Lots of cheese, black beans, pickled jalapenos, etc. and then once out of the oven top with shredded lettuce, tomato and sour cream.

3) Like I said prior, most good-sized rotisserie chickens can be split into 3 different meals.  Once we eat that first "third", I like to take another third, place it in a sealed container and keep it ready to go in the fridge.  I used this chicken to top salads or make a quick sandwich {try sliced avocado, shredded chicken, tomato, bacon and mayo on toasted bread, it's insanely delicious}.  Sometimes my kids just grab that container and eat a few pieces of cold chicken for a snack!

4)  Always, always make a casserole.  A few of our favorites are my Basil Pesto Baked Chicken and my Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Casserole.  They are easy to prep and can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days {the taste only gets better}.  Use your prepped-ahead casserole for those busy nights when you only have enough time to pre-heat the oven.  Dinner is done!

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.

5) If time is limited FREEZE a third of that shredded chicken.  Don't let this good, juicy chicken get shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten.  Put some in a freezer safe baggie, label it with the date and write down on a piece of paper kept on the fridge that it's in there.  Keeping that freezer inventory will help you to remember what is in your freezer.  Pull out this baggie of chicken when you need a quick meal.  

6) Put that shredded chicken on a pizza.  Stat.  Everyone loves pizza and so many combinations can be made with a bit of imagination.  Friday night is usually pizza night at our house and we can no longer get away with just ONE pizza, it is most defintely TWO.  If I'm not throwing in a frozen pizza, I'll often buy the pre-made crusts and then top them two different ways.  Some ideas include: barbecue chicken {bbq sauce, chicken, red onion, mozzarella}, chicken, bacon and ranch or this Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza, which is high on my list to make.

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.

7)  Make a soup, always make a soup.  Even if it isn't soup weather.  Soups freeze great and when that first chill hits the air you'll be happy you have a meal waiting for you in your freezer.  We love my Buffalo Chicken Soup and my Spicy Taco Soup {just swap the beef for the chicken}.

8)  Make a batch of chicken salad.  Chicken salad is great for summer!  I make a batch at least once a month and we eat it as sandwiches, grilled sandwiches {cook just like a grilled cheese}, with crackers or just eaten plain.  My go to ratio is as follows: 2 cups shredded chicken, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/8 cup yellow mustard, 1/8 cup dill pickle juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.


9)  For the love, make a Mexican dish.  Be it tacos, enchiladas or just a simple taco salad, bring out all the fixings {sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, pickled jalapenos and more}.  We love these popular chicken enchiladas and these baked ranch chicken tacos.

10) When in doubt, add some sauce and make hot sandwiches.  Be it barbecue, buffalo, teriyaki or ranch any good sauce can take chicken to a complete new flavor.  Stuff it in between hoagie buns, add cheese, get it all melty and gooey in the oven and dinner is set!  These below Baked Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches would definitely be a huge hit in our house.

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.

So who is going to buy a rotisserie chicken the next time they are at the grocery store?  I hope you are silently raising your hand.  If life is busy takes these 5 recipes and 5 tips and pound out three meals!

Share this with your friends and family and let's all get organized together.  If you share this post on social media please be sure to tag me {@sweetsavoryeats}, once I see the notification I'll be share to the love!

10 easy meals ideas and tips using a $5 rotisserie chicken....5 great recipes and 5 great tips for getting those most out of a rotisserie chicken.