How to get over $100 of FREE FOOD on your BIRTHDAY

Sadly, it has been so long since I have posted on my blog, I forgot where to find the 'New Post' button, little rusty eh.

I have always been a sucker for free stuff, and anyone that knows me, can attest to my sixth sense 'Free-dar'. I think it was my mother and sisters that helped instill this is me as a child as we spent hours combing clearance sections for new wardrobe pieces for under 5 dollars, but there apparently is something to the thrill of the hunt. That said I am not a grocery coupon-er, I get frustrated at clipping and playing the marketing game to make me feel I am getting a good deal on overpriced brand name stuff I don't need. Well, that is, unless it is completely free, then I'll try it!

By the way, free-dar, it's a real word, look it up:
free-dar definition

To save money on grocery shopping, I shop at stores like Winco & Aldi's because they rock! Winco is back west, but they offer TONS OF BULK foods which means you don't pay for the container, have less waste, lower price per unit, and fresher. Aldi's is my east coast fave, because they carry their own brands that are of similar quality to name brands at absurdly low prices and packaging size is smaller and ideal for my NY apartment.  I also shop the other stores when they have sales, and load up on meat when its is a good price, then portion it off for freezing. I make things myself that are simple like hummus and dressings, that don't need the price-tag or preservatives. 

I also have a love of creation and cooking, which sometimes makes it hard to desire a meal at a Restaurant when I feel like I can make it at home with fresh ingredients and so much love. 

BUT, I'm a total sucker for Restaurant coupons!!! Growing up we went out only occasionally because feeding a family of 10, 8 children and parents, is pretty pricey for my post-depression age parents. If us kids wanted some ice cream, Mom and Dad would happily load up in the big van, drive to Shop-rite, buy 1/2 gallon, some cones, then come home and enjoy our treat!

So this year, in honor of my birthday, I am going to share the gift I gave myself, finding over $100 in free FOOD for my birthday, I hope it makes the day (and Month - most you can redeem all Birthday month) you were born a little bit more special, because you are...

(Some are SLC, and some NYC)
1. Benihana's (SLC & NYC) - $30 
2. Haru Sushi (NYC & Boston) - $20 
3. Tucano's Brazilian Grill (UT, CO, VA) - Free Meal, with purchase of another
4. Temple Square Hospitality (SLC) - $25 with purchase of another
5. Christopher's Steak House (SLC) - Free Filet Mignon Steak Meal, and you can receive 25% off Anniversary Dinner.

and my favorite ICE CREAM (not a 1/2 gallon from the store and FREE!!!)

6. Baskin Robbins - Free scoop or soft serve
7. Ben & Jerry's - Free scoop, also you get another FREE scoop just for joining their Chunkmail, as well as a BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE. (So take a few friends with you!)

All of them you just have to go on their website and sign up for their Club/Birthday Club. Most send an email newsletter, but they aren't overly annoying, and the Free Meal makes up for it! Most you only need to sign up a few days before your birthday to receive the meal.

Happy Birthday to you!


My favorite Salsa

Its tomato time, the best time of year for them homegrown tomators. You might be staring at the abundance and wondering what to do with them. Last year I decided to make a few giant pots of marinara sauce to freeze for later. I especially love the cherry tomatoes, you can pop them like candy and they are sweeter than they big ones. They also are a lot funner to cut for salsa, because you can just halve or quarter them and not have all the juice to clean up. My most favorite salsa was taught to me by one of my most favorite former roommates, Kim. Thank you Kim, thank you.

Its so simple it's ridiculous. It is so yummy it is ridiculous.

Every time I make it, it is gone in less than 12 hours, and there is no one else in the house eating it but me. Make some and you'll understand.
Mango Avocado Salsa

1 Mango, diced (ok fresh is best, but sometimes you have a baby and can't cut up the fresh one, so frozen I think is completely permissable)
1 Avocado, diced

1-2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Lime, to taste
Salt, to taste
Green Onions & Cilantro, optional

That is really it! The three essentials to me are the mango, avocado, and tomato, the rest extras to enhance flavor, but the natural juices do the work, really!


Ginger Kissed PB Choc Chip Cookies

In a word....

No, No

Wait, no, I got it this time!

I typically believe that if you mix too many flavors they start to compete against one another and you lose overall value. Especially with sacred ingredients like Peanut Butter AND Chocolate. I mean come on if you are going to make a Peanut Butter cookie, make a PEANUT BUTTER cookie! Now we all know these players, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, the Romeo & Juliet of a forbidden dessert. They were made to be joined in a never ending forbidden love affair. However oats and ginger, really? That seems too risky, that seems like we are going too far. Slow down turbo.

So I had my doubts.

But I had to know.

What did I have to lose, a few ingredients that I always have on hand because I am obsessed with making cookies. Could I risk it and take a step away from the tried and true classics?

Yes, and now I have gone down a path with which I will never come back.

Peanut butter? Yes

Chocolate? Of course

Oats? Sure

Ginger? Wow, slow down. Who knew? Yes, yes, and more yes

And each one of these ingredients parts add something invaluable to the main production. PB and Chocolate, the stars, we all love them and resonate with familiarity, comfort, and indulgence. Oats, like the beautiful back drop add texture, interest and depth. Ginger, wow, just a small part, but you prove crucial in this production adding excitement and newness.

So without further ado, I am pleased to introduce my new favorite cookie: the amazingly textured, intriguing, dynamic, chewy, charismatic, saucy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Ginger cookie:

While I can't capture the magic of my first bite of warm deliciousness fresh from the oven, I can capture the recipe, and only hope that by so doing the re-creation can happen again, and again, and then again, and then how about again, and......ok you get the point here.

Trust me, it's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Ginger Kissed PB Choc Chip Cookies
(and if saying it isn't a mouthful, eating it is even more so)

1 cup plus 1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp corn starch
3/4 cups oats (I like the texture but 1/2 cup is the original recipe)
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp baking soda
1/2-1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients until blended in a bowl and set aside. In a mixer beat butter until smooth, add PB and mix on high until smooth, no lumps. Add sugars and mix on high until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and mix on medium until just smooth, do not overmix.

Add dry ingredients and blend until just combined. If you are at a high altitude (like myself) the flour should be just about right, otherwise start with 1 cup and add the extra tbsp only if you feel the dough is a bit too wet. The cornstarch is optional and can be replaced with flour but adds a soft texture to the cookie. The vanilla, salt, and ginger can be adjusted to your personal taste. I used a full tsp of ginger, because it was just so rocking, and I really wanted to make sure you could pick up on it load and clear.

In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake until the tops are slightly brown on the ridges and a firmness to touch. This will take anywhere from 8-14 minutes depending on size of cookies, baking sheet, and placement in the oven. These are some you do not want to over bake.

Ok, have fun with these. I did, so will you. And let the risk takers align our course.