Archive | December, 2011

SodaStream, I Love You.

27 Dec

Mr. P and I received a SodaStream for Christmas. After doing the math, we finally decided to add one to our wedding registry. It seemed a bit of a lavish item, but it would end up saving us quite a bit of money in the long run. The more we thought about it, the more we wanted a little fizz maker. We didn’t think anyone might get it for us; rather, we thought we might save up here and there and buy it eventually.

Well! My mom actually bought us the Fizz model for Christmas. Ours is red. The gadget manages to look retro and futuristic at once, and it’s a bit larger than it seems in photos.

What fun the SodaStream is to use, though! You can customize the level of fizz, which is fantastic for me because I want my drinks as bubbly as possible, like a natural disaster in a bottle.

All of the flavors we’ve tried so far have been delicious. My favorites are Diet Pink Grapefruit (a little like Fresca) and Orange, which tastes like those sugar-crusted gummy citrus wedges. We’ve also tried Diet Cranberry Raspberry, Root Beer, Fountain Mist (tastes just like Mountain Dew!), Diet Cola, and Dr. Pete. I’ll let you guess what flavor that one echoes!

You can adjust the amount of flavoring, which is nice. None of the flavors contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, and even the non-diet flavors are much lower in calories than their store-bought counterparts. The flavors do contain Splenda, but considering I was drinking about 4 cans daily of soda sweetened with aspartame, I can work with Splenda.

You can even use Monin or Torani-type syrups to make Italian Sodas, you can add a splash of juice, or you can make plain seltzer water. Lots of versatility here!

So far, we love it! We’re already taking out exponentially less trash (our community does not offer recycling -boo). According to studies, homemade soda also costs less than ready-made soda. Annnd we have much more free space in the fridge – woohoo!

Plus, making the soda is so much fun! Hopefully the Fizz will help in our quest to save money in 2012.

What flavor should I make next? Hmmm…

(SodaStream has not paid me a cent for this write-up; I’m literally just a very excited customer.)

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Resolutions

27 Dec

Christmas is over. Although I usually love the holidays, I’m kind of glad it’s time for life to return to normal.

Mr. Parker and I aren’t really resolution makers, but we did set one main goal for 2012: save more money!

We have two strategies in order to fulfill our goal: 1) Stop buying junk we don’t need, and 2) Cook more meals at home.

While Strategy 1 is going to require mostly willpower, Strategy 2 is actually going to demand planning and effort. I’d like to stick to fairly simple recipes that will yield leftovers, which will save us money by allowing us to pack the leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Why go out for burgers if you have a great, already-cooked meal waiting in the fridge, right?

We’ll also have to be better about grocery shopping. Right now, we shop when we need ingredients. We’ll need to transition into buying affordable staples once a week, and then planning meals around those ingredients.

And if there’s a night we’re simply too tired to cook? Since this should be no more than once a week to once every other week, we’ll simply go out. The planning and cooking at home should save us enough money that occasional restaurant trips are not a big deal.

We’re eager to get started, and we look forward to sharing our progress with you.

Are you making any sort of cooking-related resolutions?

Happy New Year!

Salty and Sweet Cookies

10 Dec

Mr. Parker got the idea for the pretzels and the chips from a “Compost Cookie” recipe on Good Morning America. The base of the recipe has been an old standby since childhood.

These are almost perfect: sweet, salty, crunchy, and chewy. Enjoy!

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon if you’re using standard table salt)

2/3 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening (I typically use butter flavored Crisco)

1 and 1/3 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup salted pretzel sticks, smashed a bit

1 cup plain salted potato chips (we used Lays Original)

Cream butter, shortening, and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs. Stir to combine. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just incorporated. Throw in the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and pretzel bits. Once mixed, break the chips into the batter and stir.

Form into tablespoon-sized semi-flattened orbs. Place about two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 375F for about 9 – 10 minutes. Refrigerate dough between batches.

*We originally used 3/4 cup each butterscotch chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips; however, we found the butterscotch flavor to be a bit too sweet and overwhelming, so we cut the butterscotch down to 1/2 cup with satisfactory results.