Hitting the Road with Kroger Fuel Points

Put simply, it’s all about saving money. Whether you use coupons to shop, or other savings programs, they all add up to not spending as much as you might otherwise.

DSC_0243 sm MMSN

Hitting the open road on vacation!

One of those ways to save, if you shop at the Kroger family of stores, is to sign up for and use their fuel rewards program. It’s as easy to do as doing your normal shopping. Every time you buy something, your points begin to add up. Use your Shopper’s card or enter your alternate ID at checkout, and it’s done. Every single time.

From the website:

FUEL POINTS 101

How it Works
When you shop at a Kroger Co. Family Store and use your Shopper’s Card, you’ll earn 1 fuel point for every $1 you spend.*  Once you’re at the pump, simply scan your Shopper’s Card or enter your Alternate ID, then choose to redeem your available fuel discount. You can also redeem your fuel points at one of our redemption partners.*

When Do They Expire?
Fuel points earned in the current month will expire at the end of the next month. However, fuel points do not combine across months. Each month is a separate accumulation period. Fuel points earned in separate months cannot be combined in the same transaction. You’ll always be offered your highest unredeemed discount first.

How Can I Keep Track of My Points?
With the “My Account” feature in your digital account, you can see how many fuel points you’ve accumulated, how many you’ve redeemed, how you earned them, when they expire and more. You can also see your previous month’s fuel points. You can also track your fuel points with the Mobile App!

*Restrictions apply. Not valid in LA or MO. Offer, discount and redemption locations vary by market. See store or visit our FAQ page to learn more about the program at your store.

My family and a lot of my friends shop at Kroger, in part for the fuel rewards. In this day and age, every little bit helps.

We recently went on vacation in Colorado, and found one of the Kroger family of stores there, as well as at home in Texas. Our fuel account was active in both states, and helped up travel that little bit further as we explored Red Rocks Park and so many other scenic spots and interesting eateries.

DSC_0861 sm

Lone Ponderosa pine at Red Rocks Park, Colorado.

— Ann Cathey

#KrogerCo #FuelPointsForDays #Ad #MyMagazineSharing

Advertisements

From Frozen to Fabulous!

Frozen foods have been around since the 1920’s, believe it or not. In this modern day, they are truly a far cry from their humble, vegetable, beginnings with Clarence Birdseye and his contemporaries. Just about any type or style of food can now be found in the freezer section of your local grocery. How you prepare them is plainly laid out on the package, but how you serve them can be another matter all together.

Let us take the simple burrito. While it can merely be heated and eaten, it can also be so much more. Lay out thawed burritos in a baking dish and cover them with chili and cheese, then bake until everything is heated through and the cheese is all melty. Serve up with freshly sliced avocado, sour cream, salsa or pico de gallo, and fresh greens for a more TexMex flair that feeds the soul as well as the stomach.

Have a taste for lasagne? Pick one up for supper tonight, but be sure to grab some extra mozzarella, grated dry cheese such as asiago or parmesan, pesto, and fresh basil. Cook the lasagne as directed, but when the cover comes off to allow the top cheese to melt and brown, smear on some pesto and sprinkle on the extra cheese before popping back in the oven for that last five or ten minutes. Serve with a fresh side salad featuring strips of fresh basil, and a warm and crusty garlic bread.

Pretty much everyone is aware of pigs in a blanket, or klobásníks. Sausage wrapped in a bit of dough and baked up for a hand sandwich. Use croissant pastry and fill it with sausage, cheese, cheese sticks, sliced chicken, or even sliced steak sauteed with onions and peppers for that Philly take.

Eggs are another ubequtious ingredient that many overlook. Crack some fresh eggs onto a frozen pizza before cooking for a sunny side up surprise. Add a fried egg to a cheeseburger, or make it scrambled if you prefer. Turn breakfast into dinner or dinner into breakfast!

Coffee is another kitchen wonder. If you have some leftover from the beginning of your day, use it to end your day in a delightful way. Put a scoop or two of ice cream into a dish or cup, then pour the cold coffee over it to make an Italian cafe classic – an affogato. Top with sliced almonds, whipped cream, even sprinkles to customize your dessert or evening sweet tooth offering.

Give these ideas a try, or better yet, try out your own. Let us know what you come up with so we can give your ideas a whirl in our own kitchen, too.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

Spaghetti Squash and Sausage

I originally stumbled across this recipe at the Jimmy Dean website, and after playing with it, figured I would share my results since I took photos of the process and all. This recipe may be served “in a boat” (in the squash hull) or simply cooked up in a casserole dish. It’s all about presentation and preference.

The dish features flavors and colors redolent of the fall harvest, and is a great way to kick off the season of cooling temperatures and the glorious autumnal colors of nature.

 

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AND SAUSAGE
Prep time: 45minutes
Bake time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
1 pound pork sausage

DSC_0388

Shredded Smoked Gouda

1 spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup smoked Gouda, shredded
1 med or small onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon, halved
2 cups baby leaf spinach
Cooking spray – I prefer olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

DSC_0387

Halved Lemon

 

 

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

DSC_0003

Removing cooked squash from hull.

Render your squash by slicing in half longways, removing the seeds, and applying olive oil to all the exposed meat surfaces. Roast or microwave until soft. Allow the squash to cool before attempting to handle it. Using a fork or large spoon, scrape the meat out into a bowl and allow it to rest. Be careful to keep the hulls intact. Those may be set aside for later use if desired.

 

DSC_0385

Meat and onion cooked in microwave rather than skillet.

Use cooking spray on a large skillet. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft and slightly caramelized. Break up the sausage into the skillet with the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is mostly done. Add butter and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. This may also be rendered in a microwave rather than on a stove top, but be sure to use a large microwave safe bowl.

 

DSC_0389

If microwaving, as shown, layer cheese, spinach and squash over meat so that the cheese and spinach are heated between the meat and squash. This will cause nice wilting.

Add the spaghetti squash, spinach, and desired salt and pepper. Cook while stirring occasionally until the squash is nicely broken up and the spinach has begun to wilt. Add the juice from the other half of the lemon, half of the grated cheese, and stir it all up.

DSC_0390

Mix it up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are using the squash hulls, load them with the sausage mixture. If you are using a casserole dish, spray it with you preference of cooking sprays, then fill it up.

Top evenly with remaining cheese and bake at 375ºF until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown and dish is heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

DSC_0393

Allow to rest.

 

Allow to rest for five minutes before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

DSC_0394

Single serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not the original recipe, but one that I fiddled with as I am wont to do. The original called for a panko-based topping, and no gooey cheese. It’s probably healthier that way, but in my house cheese is pretty much a necessity in just about everything.

There are lots of variations that spring to mind for this recipe. Using turkey sausage instead of pork, using kale or another leafy green with or in place of the spinach, and adding other spices to the mix all sparked right off. Toppings might be as simple as a sprinkle of parmesan, or bacon crumbles, or freshly diced parsley or chopped chives. Basing the dish on curry and using a ground meat rather than a pre-spiced sausage sounds tasty, as does a Cajun version.

DSC_0395

The big serving!

As with all the recipes I post, have fun with it! Try it out, twist it up and make it your own.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

 

Smoky Bacon Shortbread

Last year at Comicpalooza, I was honored to meet author Michelle Muenzler. In addition to being a great writer and mentor, she makes seriously awesome cookies. In fact, on the con circuit, she’s known as The Cookie Lady, as she always has cookies in tow.

Ms. Muenzler is kind enough to share her recipes on her website, and I have had great success with a few of them. My favorite, though, is her recipe for Earl Grey shortbread. Now, I’ve never actually made Earl Grey shortbread. I don’t care for Earl Grey tea, and as that’s the major flavoring agent, it didn’t seem like a wise choice. However, there are many, many teas that I do enjoy, and I’ve experimented with a few with great results.

My latest experiment with the Earl Grey shortbread recipe is this one: Smoky Bacon Shortbread. I subbed Tea Punk Tea’s Winter Smoke tea for the Earl Grey and added in some chopped candied bacon. Delicious! Below is the recipe, based on the one at Michelle’s website: http://www.michellemuenzler.com.

For candied bacon:

  • 1 1/2 strips of bacon
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp water

For shortbread:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp loose Winter Smoke tea
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 strips of bacon, candied and finely chopped

Prepare candied bacon

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place bacon strips on rack over a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
  3. Flip bacon over. Baste with a mixture of 1 1/2 Tbsp of brown sugar and enough water to create a thick liquid.
  4. Return to oven for another 15 minutes or until bacon acquires preferred level of doneness.)

Prepare dough

  1. Cream together butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Add flour, tea, and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Chop bacon (I use a Ninja food processer) and stir into dough.
  3. Roll dough into logs (1″ thick or so). I do this on waxed paper or a silicon baking max sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or the waxed paper and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.
  5. Slice logs into thin disks and place on nonstick baking sheets or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges begin to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

The Winter Smoke tea used here is available from the lovely people at: https://www.teapunkteas.com/store/c2/Black_Teas.html

 

 

Red, White and BBQ,

Being a member of MyMagazine™ Sharing Network has gotten me to try a lot of products that I might otherwise have let slip by. These products are normaly in the form of free samples and coupons for free products and discounts. This time around, the mission was all about “Red, White, and BBQ”.

The package of free goodies for this mission included:

 

There. I’m done pimping out the products for the mission. I do recommend trying them all, as they are wonderful in the opinion of my household.

 

37704196_10215091447293353_3453033150546968576_nThe mission suggested a backyard BBQ bash, but it’s been too hot to do much outside recently. Instead we had the party inside and enjoyed every bite.

There were ships and cookies and other assorted goodies on each plate served up, though the burgers and sliders simply stole the show.bite

 

 

 

 

37611425_10215091446413331_7249442738771329024_nWe gave the McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple a try. Instead of sprinkling onto a meat to be grilled, we mixed it into the hamburger meat with a couple of eggs and a bunch of shredded cheese. May not look like much in a bowl, but it came out better than we expected.

37608775_10215091446133324_3678212496260333568_n

 

 

 

Talk about outstanding flavor! The added smoky aroma and the subtle maple flavor wound all through the burger for a delicious surprise. We made burgers and sliders out of that one batch, with all the fixings, and can’t wait to try some of the other flavors.

— Ann Cathey

House Blend Coffee

While piddling about in my kitchen this morning, I noticed myself going through a rountine – emptying the last bits of unused ground coffee into a 5 pound can that I keep available. I call it my “house blend”.

It began as a brand new cannister of Beaumond (a WalMart brand? It’s been several years…) coffee. At one time I put a pound Kroger house lable decaf into the cannister and shook it up. This was several years ago when my medical issues were first being figured out and my doctor wanted me to “slow down” my caffiene consumption. At that point, it was pretty-much half-caff coffee.

Months later, the pressure to stop drinking coffee eased off. Around that time I found that I had several rolled up bags of various brands of coffee grounds taking up space in my freezer. I thawed them out and dumped them all into the cannister.

I receive samples, and one shots of different types of coffee pretty regularly. I’ll try one out, and often dump teh rest of the samples into that cannister as well. Nothing “flavored”, just regular and decaf coffees. It gets stirred up and/or well shaken to make the “blend” and it’s ready to use.

I managed to track down some of the wonderful odds and ends that have gone into the cannister in the last couple of years. Here’s what I discovered:

 

This is not a complete list by a long shot, but the resulting blend is deep, rish and full bodied, sometimes elegantly smooth, other times with a bite. It’s always coffee, all the time, whenever I want  to make a cup or a pot. Guests have repeatedly complimented my personal house belnd and asked for a recipe of what I use. I can only say that I truly do not know what’s in any given scoop of grounds form that particular cannister.

One thing I do not do is add flavored coffees. There are so many flavors out there that might clash in horrible ways that I dare not mix them haphazardly. I do have a couple of smaller cannisters that I drop flavored odds and end into, however. One of them is for baking flavors like hazelnut, pecan, cinnamon, and sugar cookie. The other is for darker flavors like chocolate and Kahlua. I may need inthe future to create a couple of other flavored cannisters, but for right now, two is plenty. The flavors are chosen for their compatibilty and have turned out twisty and delicious every time.

I look forward to adding more odds and ends to the collective, and savoring the resulting brews.

 

— Ann Cathey

Strawberry Pie with a Twist

Are you a fan of chocolate dipped strawberries? Strawberries dusted with cocoa powder? Strawberries and chocolate in any form? Then this might be the strawberry pie for you.

I borrowed a recipe from the Kroger website, and put my own spin on it. Sadly, I did not get photos of this delectable dessert.

STRAWBERRY PIE WITH A TWIST
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 pkg (+/- 14 oz) cream filled chocolate sandwich cookies
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 3/4 cups water
1 pkg (3oz) strawberry gelatin
2 pints washed strawberries halved
Optional toppings: whipped cream, chocolate syrup, chocolate sprinkles

Directions:
Crust:
– Preheat oven to 325F.
– Crush cookies by preferred method. Place in bowl, add butter, and stir until thoroughly mixed and a little gooey.
– Pat mixture into pie plate, making sure the bottom and sides are covered with no breaks.
– Bake for 10 minutes, allow to cool to the side.

Sauce:
– Bring water and sugar to a boil.
– Add arrowroot and mix thoroughly.
– Remove from heat and stir in strawberry gelatin until dissolved.

Final:
– Arrange strawberries in cooled crust.
– Pour gelatin mixture over the strawberries.
– Refrigerate at least one hour or until set.

Serve:
– Top with whipped topping.
– Drizzle on chocolate syrup.
– Add chocolate sprinkles if desired.
– Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

Keep in mind that if strawberries cut in half are too much of a mouthful, cut them smaller. The smaller the slices, however, the more space there may be to fill in the pie. Adjust accordingly.

Adding other fruit, such as blueberries, can add a twist to the textures and flavors in this pie. Adjust the spices used to taste and give it a whirl.

I hope you enjoy this fresh fruit dessert as much as my friends did – it went quick!

— Ann Cathey