Tag Archives: costco

Upside Down Cornbread Cake and BE MINE Erotic Romance Release & #Giveaway #FoodieFriday

Happy Friday! Woo hoo we made it to the end of the week. I’ve got a busy weekend planned and I hope you have a great one.

Today I’m sharing a recipe that helps handle some of the leftovers from Thanksgiving. I love the Penguin Cornbread Mix from Costco, but always have a lot of it left over after the holiday. While we love cornbread in my house, I wanted to find a way to mix things up.

After checking out a few sites, I came across an upside down cake recipe from the fabulous Sunny Anderson and decided to adapt it to deal with the cornbread mix as well as the fruits I had handy, namely pears, apples and blueberries. You can actually make this with any fresh or canned fruit which is why I didn’t put any specific fruit name in the title. If using canned fruit, make sure to drain it well so you don’t water down the sauce for the topping.


2-3 cups fruit, sliced (except small fruits like blueberries)
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1 cup rum/amaretto/or other sweet liquor
1 cornbread mix


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt butter, add 1/2 cup brown sugar and still until dissolved. Add liquor and slow boil until the liquid is a little syrupy.

Make cornbread according to the mix and add the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Oil 9×13 inch pan. Layout the fruit in the bottom of the pan. Once the butter/sugar/alcohol mixture is syrupy, pour over the fruit. Then pour the cornbread mix over the fruit and syrup.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until knife comes out clean from the cornbread. Let cool. Once cool, invert the cake onto another plate.

Serve with ice cream and/or whipped cream. The cake is dense and not too sweet. For those who need gluten free, this is a perfect recipe since corn does not have gluten. Just make sure to check the label of your cornbread mix to make sure there are no other products containing gluten.
Upside Down Cornbread Cake

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Tips for Spending Less

If you’re like me, one of those things on the list of New Year’s resolutions was to spend less. Actually, I had already put that plan into place toward the end of last year with some nice results so the goal is really to continue that savings plan.

How did I manage to cut my spending last year? Well, here’s just a list of some of those things!

1. Brown bag lunch to work. An average lunch in Manhattan is about $6 so at 5 times a week times 48 weeks, that’s a savings of over $1400.

2. Skip the Starbucks and other fancy coffee in the a.m. Hubby now makes me my morning cup for the train and I rely on the office coffee pot for my other morning fix. With a typical latte at around $4 in NYC, that’s a savings of another nearly $1000.

3. Charge everything I spend. I know that sounds awful, but here’s why I do it:

    a. I get my reward points for every purchase.
    b. I know how much I spent every month.
    c. I use the tagging feature on my charge account every week to flag business expenses.
    d. I have my account send me a daily snapshot so I know whether I am deviating from my monthly spending limit.

4. Coupons. I always hold onto those Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons and only go when I have several of them handy. I also only go when I absolutely need something, which means my trips are generally geared around holidays, birthdays, etc. I also use online coupon sites such as coupons.com and pgeverydaysolutions.com for weekly specials and since I shop at A&P for my every day items, they have a clipless coupon system connected to my shopping loyalty card. That’s wonderful because if you are like me, you often will forget those coupons at home. Another big thing: Only buy what you would normally use and buy it in reasonable quantities. I read an article the other day that Americans throw out 40% of the food they buy. 40%!!! That’s a huge number.

5. I shop at Costco for the paper goods and other bulk items. I also buy their Kirkland name brand for things like toilet paper and dishwasher detergent. Just as good and generally cheaper.

6. I’ve cut back on dining out and when I do, I try to use restaurant.com certificates or those I’ve purchased at a discount from groupon.com. I also try to frequent local places and they often have online coupons available for discounts on dining.

This year I also plan on brown bagging breakfast to the office. I’ve got a stash of oatmeal and will find a way to make my eggs. Breakfast is important for helping with another New Year’s resolution: Losing weight and eating healthier.

Have you found some other ways to spend less? What will you do with the savings?

Confessions of a Carboholic

Back on one of the Tuesday Tips I mentioned that I was battling the bulge again and some of you asked for me to let you know how I was doing.

Well, I am doing great! I’ve lost 6.5 pounds in about a month. I feel better and my clothes are starting to get loose. I’m counting the minutes until I can drop a size.

But to accomplish that I had to do some soul searching and realize something very troubling – I am a carboholic. Worse yet, that being a carboholic was so not good for my system. All that bloating and big belly started to go away as soon as I curtailed my carbs.

I did that in part with that wonderful book my daughter gave me — Eat This, Not That. I have the supermarket edition which is great because it lays out in no nonsense fashion what to buy and what not to buy and the reasons for those choices (although there is one with which I do not agree and more on that later).

First I cut back on my carbs and the carbs that I eat are lower in fat and sugar and higher in dietary fiber. Fiber is wonderful because it fills you up and keeps you from having that empty sensation.

How did I do that? Thomas’ Light Multi-grain English Muffins. At 100 calories per muffin, they have only 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of dietary fiber. In the mornings I will have it with a smear of one of those Laughing Cow Light Cheeses – also great! Only 35 calories per little wedge, but packed with flavor.

For Sunday pasta meals, we switched to Barilla Whole Grain Pasta (suprisingly on the Not That list, but I don’t agree). With 200 calories per serving, it has only 1.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of dietary fiber. Plus, it’s tasty unlike some other whole grain pastas.

At lunch I make sure to have veggies of some kind, whether alone or with grilled chicken, or a sandwich made with a muffin, low fat cheese and low fat ham (not a big turkey fan which would help, I know) or chicken.

For snacks – nuts, nuts, nuts. A handful of almonds (approximately 12), cashews or walnuts are a great snack at around 3 pm.

At night we try to keep it simple. Grilled steak, chicken or eggs with veggies and a salad. Actually, we’ve been eating a lot more eggs. They are not as bad for you as people think and if you buy some Eggland’s Best or another high quality egg, they are packed with vitamins and have lower cholesterol than regular eggs. I always look for a sale on them and stock up.

For a late night (around 8 pm) snack, I’ve been making our own desserts – like a low fat fruit-packed ambrosia — or having a small handful of Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegrantes. I get a 2 lb bag at Costco and they are absolutely delicious. 22 pieces are about 200 calories, but I stick to about half that amount because they are so decadent and dark chocolate and pomegrante are packed with anti-oxidants.

Adding all those fruits, nuts and veggies has gone a long way in helping as well. They keep me feeling fuller and I’m not having those horrible hunger pangs that wreck most diets. In fact, I’m not even thinking about this as a diet anymore, but as a lifestyle change because I can see myself eating like this for the rest of my life.

So, that’s my confession about being a carboholic and how I’ve changed some of my habits. I’ve also been going to the gym regularly and that’s been a big help. Any increase in activity is good for you, including a brisk walk!

Hope today’s Thursday Thoughts might be of help to you. 🙂

Tuesday Tip – Saving on Prescriptions

As you know from previous coupon tips, I am fiscally cautious (I know my husband is laughing loudly over this!). But seriously, I am frugal. I shop around for the best prices, take advantage of sales, clip coupons, etc. in an effort to make sure I’m not spending money needlessly. I guess that’s why when a friend sent around an e-mail about saving on prescriptions, I thought it would be good to share it with you for various reasons.

The e-mail my friend sent around is at the bottom of this blog for you to read.

My friend checked this out and noted that by her calculations she would be able to save nearly $60 a year by using Costco for her prescriptions even though she was not a member. My friend was able to order a prescription she used regularly and instead of paying the $30 copay for 90 pills, she was able to purchase 100 pills from Costco for $10.24. She did it online and got free shipping to boot!

You can check out the veracity of the Costco Prescription E-mail at Snopes by following this link:

There is one caution I would make about the hyperbole in the e-mail about 569,958% markups and the like.

Any statistician will tell you that it’s possible to skew numbers to make your argument. In this case, it is inaccurate to compare the cost of active ingredients to the price of non-generic medications.

Why? For starters, it takes someone years and years of research to discover how to combine those active ingredients into a useful and safe product. Case in point: Many years ago the laws regarding patents had to be changed because many pharmaceutical patents were expiring before the testing of the products had been completed and the products had been approved by the FDA. The term for patents prior to this extension: 20 years.

Imagine taking 20 years – yes TWENTY – years to develop a product and have its use approved by an administrative body. Imagine the cost of research, testing and prosecuting the FDA approval and patents.

Of course, those are extreme situations. The average time for approval of a new drug is approximately 10 years at about a cost of anywhere from $100 to $230 million dollars according to Kevin Oliver in his paper on Drug Approval in the United States (click here for the full text of Oliver’s paper on Drug Approval). By the way, the paper also helps to explain why drugs are cheaper in other countries, namely, because of the time it takes for the U.S. government to approve a drug versus approval by governments in other countries.

But back to the reason for this post. In fact, you can buy certain pharmaceutical products at much lower costs using Costco even if you are not a member. Like anything else, you should shop around to see if they offer the best price. Also check with your local independent pharmacist who oftentimes can provide additional information on the the best prices. Regardless of where you buy your prescription medicine, be sure to tell your pharmacist about all medicines you are taking, including non-prescription drugs and over-the-counter herbal/natural remedies, to avoid dangerous side effects and interactions.

The Original Text of the Costco Prescription E-mail

Costco – Unbelievable!

Make sure you read to the end. You will be amazed.

Let’s hear it for Costco! (This is just mind-boggling!)

Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs. The woman that signed below is a Budget Analyst out of federal Washington , DC offices.

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of XXXXXXX a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries. In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America .

Celebrex:100 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

Claritin:10 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex:250 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%

Lipitor:20 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%

Norvasc:10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%

Paxil:20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%

Prevacid:30 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%

Prilosec: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%

Prozac:20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%

Tenormin:50 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%

Vasotec:10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%

Xanax:1 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%

Zestril:20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809%

Zithromax:600 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%

Zocor:40 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%

Zoloft:50 mg
Consumer price: $206.87
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone should know about this.
It pays to shop around! This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen’s on every corner. On Monday night, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit , did a story on generic drug prices gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. So often we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example if you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills.

The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are saving $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.

I went to the Costco site, where you can look up any drug, and get its online price. It says that the in-store prices are consistent with the online prices. I was appalled. Just to give you one example from my own experience I had to use the drug Compazine which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients.

I used the generic equivalent, which cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. I checked the price at Costco, and I could have bought 100 pills for $19.89. For 145 of my pain pills, I paid $72.57. I could have got 150 at Costco for $28.08.

I would like to mention, that although Costco is a ‘membership’ type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in.

Sangria – Sweet and Sexy

sangriaI don’t know why, but toward the end of the summer I developed a taste for sangria again. Maybe because it was a delightful way to cool off on those hot summer days and nights. I’ve been playing with the recipe and have created this refreshing variation on the traditional mix!

I hope you enjoy it.

Caridad’s Sweet and Sexy Sangria


    1 bottle red wine (a Malbec, Rioja, Cabernet or Pinot Noir will do. Maipe Malbec is great and sub $10 at Costco)
    1/2 bottle Chilled Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider (or any other sparkling cider)
    2 oranges
    1 cup frozen strawberries
    1/2 cup grapes


  • Peel oranges. Cut into eighths and then cut the eighths in half. Cut grapes in half. Cut frozen strawberries in half.
  • Place fruit into a pitcher and add wine. Let fruit and wine macerate for at least 10 minutes in the refridgerator. If you can wait longer, the flavors will be better.
  • Add chilled sparkling cider to fruit and wine mixture.
  • Remove some fruit from this mix and place in individual glasses. Pour wine/cider mixture into the glass and serve.

What I like about this mix is that you get the extra fruitiness and sweetness with the addition of the cider and don’t have to add sugar to get that.

Some recipes call for lemon in the mix and also don’t ask you to peel the citrus, but I find that the lemon and the peels make the mix too acidic. For a change of pace, cube some apples and toss them in or go even more tropical with some pineapple and changing to a white wine.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Tuesday Tip.

Don’t forget to drop by Julia Amante’s blog for a chance to win a copy of SINS OF THE FLESH and a T-shirt. You can click here to visit Julia Amante’s blog.