Thursday, December 22, 2011

Preparing for the New Year

I'm sitting here drinking a hot cup of Peppermint Mocha that I got in the free sample packet from Nescafé several weeks ago. It's the time of year where we start thinking about the new year and all the plans and goals we want to accomplish during the upcoming year. For some of us the goals include: exercising more, losing weight, sticking to a budget and various other odds and ends. For us budget and frugal minded people, we begin to think of what ways we can save even more money in the new year.

In the midst of this busy Christmas season - sending out Christmas cards, baking goodies, shopping, wrapping gifts, spending time with family and friends celebrating the birth of Christ, my mind is already several weeks ahead. I've been busy going through recipes and blogs working on planning my next month's menu. I'm also working on planning extra meals for February since I only have 7 weeks left before our new addition arrives and I want to have stuff on hand for those days when I'm tired and lacking energy!

As I prepare the grocery list for the upcoming month, does anyone want to share some of their favorite meals? Slowcooker and freezer meals are always great! :) I love trying new recipes! What are some of your favorite tried and true recipes that rank high in your family?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Goodies

I haven't posted in F-O-R-E-V-E-R! I feel bad about neglecting my poor blog, but this month has been crazy busy! I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year, we went to my parents and spent the day with them. We're blessed to live less than 10 minutes away from them, my grandparents and my in-laws. We enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, green beans, rolls, sweet potato biscuits and more! I was asked to bring the canned items, so that was really nice and therefore didn't have to worry about cooking or baking anything. I must admit, sometimes.......that feels really good! :) I love to bake and cook, but's just nice when you don't need to. :)

We got to go out on Black Friday, which was a lot of fun! It has been a tradition that we started last year for our first married holidays together and we really enjoy it. We don't go out very early, but we still find lots of great deals! On Saturday, we made a quick one day trip to PA for a friend's wedding - call us crazy, but we did the whole trip to and from in one day! :)

Anyway, we now have all our Christmas decorations up and of course, that puts me in the mood for baking! I must admit that because I could and because I wanted to - I spent more than $150 on groceries this month. I bought a bunch of baking ingredients this shopping trip - you know, they kind of things you only get once or twice a year. :) I'm having two parties at our house this month and a piano recital, so I had to get stuff for those things as well.

My totally monthly purchase came to about $230 - yes, I was shocked when I saw the amount, especially since I NEVER see that amount each month for food! You should of seen my husband's face when I told him how much I spent - but of course, it's all for 1 month of groceries and I didn't waste the money. I did buy a few extra things since they were on sale and I could freeze them, which means that I didn't really spent that amount of money for just "this month".

My entire shopping trip (which including running a few errands in that time frame) consisted of 4 hours. Being pregnant also doesn't help when you want to rush through the store, because it seems like every isle you turn to go down there is some friendly stranger that wants to ask you the typical questions like: "Baby? Boy or girl? When are you due?" and then proceed to say congratulations, or go on about how many children they had, etc. I honestly wasn't in a big hurry, so it didn't really bother me to have short little chit-chats with other friendly shoppers.

Oh yes, one more thing before I post my recipes. *GRIN* You would think I would of learned some things by now - like how to word questions when shopping when you need help finding certain items. :)

Let the story begin.......

You see, Apple Date Muffins are on my list of things to make this month and I had two problems.

I was out of apples.
2. I didn't have enough dates.

And therefore I put those two items on my grocery list. I began walking into the store and checked my purse to make sure I had my list handy. I grabbed a cart and began shopping. I made my way through the produce section and picked up some baking apples and some other delicious tasting apples, which we eat when we're out hunting. I continued on my merry way grabbing this and that as I passed the items I needed to buy. Finally, I had just a few more items to get left on my long grocery list. I quickly found the remaining items and put them in my cart ---all except the dried dates. I looked several places, but obviously I hadn't looked in the right place or else I would of found them. So, what is the logical thing to do when you can't find something??? You either: Ask someone for help or you decide that you don't really need the item.

Being the friendly person whose not shy of asking for help in finding items that I need, finally found an older man stocking shelves and asked if he knew where I could find dates. Of course, that is NOT the correct way to ask that question - especially when you want dried dates and not human dates, but I figured that once it's out of the mouth it's kind of hard to take all the words back and reword it. I could see the sides of the mans mouth twitch as he tried hard to hold back a smile. He told me where he thought I might be able to find the dried dates and then proceeded to tell me that if I wait long enough.....I could find some other kind of dates too. :) I laughed and thanked him as I made my way back over to where he thought they were located. They weren't there, so I proceeded to make my way up to another man who was working nearby and asked him (properly of course) if he knew where I could find dried dates and he thankfully pointed me in the right direction. I grabbed the package of dates off the shelve and hurried to the checkout line, thankful that my shopping trip was over and I was finally on my way home! :)

Monday, I spent my day shopping and Tuesday I spent 10 1/2 hours in the kitchen baking!

Here is what I made:

*Donuts, which ended up burning a little bit - it's not an easy 1 person job. *
Sorry, no recipe for this one, but here are some pictures:

*2 Cranberry Cream Cheese Breads - totally a keeper! Love this recipe!*


8 oz. cream cheese

1 c. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 c. whole cranberries

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1) Rinse & drain cranberries.

2) Blend cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla & eggs - beat until creamy.

(Hint: I put the cream cheese and butter in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to make them soft enough to mix.)

3) Add 2 c. of the flower and the baking soda and beat well.

4) Combine the other 1/4 c. of flour with the cranberries, fold them and the walnuts into the batter.

5) Grease 2 large loaf pans and bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until center is done.


*Cookie Dough Truffles - a traditional Christmas special that I make every year. *

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 pounds dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Shape into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.
In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, remelt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 5-1/2 dozen.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Recipe for Breakfast Casserole!

I made a breakfast casserole on Friday afternoon so that I could have a good, fresh, hot and different kind of breakfast (meaning: other than cereal) all ready to eat when we got up on Saturday morning! My husband and I decided to sleep in that Saturday, but set the alarm for an hour before we wanted to get up, so that I could slip out of bed, take the casserole out of the fridge and place it in the oven to bake for an hour while we went back to sleep. The idea worked perfectly!

I don't have any pictures of the casserole, but it looked just as good as it tasted! I LOVE breakfast casseroles, quiches and anything to do with eggs!

Sausage Breakfast Casserole Recipe


  • 1 lb of Italian pork sausage, (then cooked, drained, crumbled)
  • 4 1/2 cups cubed day old bread- I just ripped about 6 slices of bread - enough to layer the bottom of the pan.
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese- I used mozzarella cheese as well.
  • 10 eggs slightly beaten
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp dry mustard - I left this out
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder- I also chopped up some fresh onions to put into the casserole.
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste and a few shakes of salt of course! :)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)- I left those out as well since I didn't have any on hand.
  • 1/2 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes (optional) - I left the tomatoes out, but cut up some of my frozen green peppers that I grew this year to put into the mixture - yummy!


1 Heat a skillet on medium high. Break up the sausage into chunks and cook, working in batches if need be, until browned all around. Make sure the chunks of sausage have some space around them or your meat will steam and not brown. Remove the cooked sausage from the pan and let sit on some paper towels on a plate to soak up the excess fat. Crumble into smaller pieces.

2 Place bread in a well buttered 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine the eggs, milk, dry mustard, onion powder and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread and cheese. Sprinkle sausage and optional ingredients over the top.

3 At this stage you can cover and chill overnight, if you want to prepare ahead. If not, let sit for 10 minutes before putting in the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake uncovered for about one hour. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly.

Serves 6-8.

We had this casserole for breakfast on Saturday morning and Monday morning I reheated it for breakfast. I think we still have two more breakfasts left before we finish the casserole! That means that a breakfast casserole lasts us 4 days!!! Almost an entire week of no cereal! I love changes. I think all women love changes and it drives me crazy to eat cereal every. morning. for. breakfast. during. the. week! I like more options to the menu like the frozen french toast, cream of wheat, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and sausages too!

What are some of your favorite breakfast foods???

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cracker Candy!

I was browsing around through some random websites today and found a recipe for Cracker Candy! It takes about 10 minutes to put together. My mom used to make this a LONG time ago and I hadn't had it for YEARS, so I decided to make it today after I had finished teaching piano! Super quick and easy!

I'll post a picture of the finished product tomorrow morning once I get around to taking the camera card out the laptop and into the camera. :)

Cracker Candy

  • 1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers (obviously, this is where the recipe gets it's name)

  • 1 1/4 - cups butter, NOT margarine

  • 1 1/4 - cup light brown sugar

  • 1 - 12 oz package chocolate chips

  • 1 - cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds) -optional (I didn't add them to mine)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease it (so that the crackers do not stick to the foil). Lay crackers out on sheet in one layer. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter and the brown sugar. Stir often and bring to a full rolling boil. After the mixture comes to a full rolling boil set your timer and boil the mixture for exactly 3 minutes.Pour over the saltines and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and wait until they are almost melted then spread the chocolate evenly all over all the saltines. Sprinkle on the nuts all over the top as evenly as possible. Refrigerate for two hours and then break up into pieces and store in a air tight container.

For an added bonus I sprinkled on some fall colored sprinkles - orange, yellow, brown after spreading the melted chocolate chips to give it a little bit of color and fall look. :)


Monday, October 31, 2011

Dealing with a side-by-side fridge...

Yes, we have a side-by-side fridge/freezer and yes, it makes things quite complicated when you're shopping 1x a month! I mean how on earth can you fit two gallons of milk, a gallon of water, creamer bottles, 1 gallon of orange juice and other drinks all onto ONE shelf?!
NOTE: It is possible!

I know everyone has different types of refrigerators and each of them come with pros and cons.

French Door Style:

Top Freezer Style:

Side By Side:

Uh, no. My fridge does not look anything like the inside of that one! Mine is jammed packed with food. Yesterday, for Sunday dinner we had ham, peas, hashbrowns (an easy version of mashed potatoes when you are gone all day Saturday and therefore had no time to boil the potatoes and mash them) and chocolate chip cake with applesauce.

A peak into my fridge:

Top shelf: Jars - salsa, extra sauce, apple sauce, mayo, maple syrup, spreadable butter, sour cream, shredded cheese and anything else that doesn't fit in the door.

Middle shelf: All leftovers! A bowl of beets, a bowl of peas, a bowl of hashbrowns and a dish of ham.

Lower shelf: 2 gallons of milk, 1 gallon of filtered water (we're on well water and need to filter our drinking water), a water filter pitcher, 1 gallon of orange juice (actually, I buy the 1/2 gallon jugs of OJ so that I can fit it in the fridge along with all the other drinks - it costs a few pennies more, but to me it's worth it!). I also have a jar of kefir grains in there as well and a plastic container of tomato juice!

Lowest shelf: Eggs, yogurts and whatever else I still needed a place for that would of gone on the top or middle shelves.

Then we have the crispers and they contain cabbage, carrots, bags of salad, apples, fruit, tortilla wraps and other odds and ends.

My side door hosts bottles of ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, salad dressings, syrup, jams and whatever other little bottles of sauces a person normal cooks with or puts on a sandwich. The "Dairy" section shelf holds all my cream cheese and sliced cheeses.

I must admit that it does take a lot of time to organize everything in order for it all to fit just right in the fridge and sometimes I'll empty the fridge, clean it and reshelf everything to better organize it.

I grew up with a top freezer fridge, but now that I'm so used to using a side-by-side, I think I prefer the "let's see how I can fit this in my fridge" challenge.

What type of fridge do you have and what organizational skill have you put into making everything fit when you get home from a grocery shopping trip?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Freezer Meal Recipes and Planning


The month of November is going to be my "test & see" how well freezer meals work for us month! Since I already had quite a few things in my pantry from my previous shopping trips in earlier months, I decided to go through and empty my shelves before going on my 1x a month shopping trip. :)

**Unless otherwise noted everything was put into 9x13 foil pans**

I made Chili Cornbread Casserole:
FREEZING TIP: Label, date and put instructions with your meals (as shown above).

Chili Cornbread Bake - freezer meal
2.25 cups cooked ground beef
1.25 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
14.5 ounces Hunt’s diced tomatoes (I also added a small can of corn to the bean mixture)
30 ounces chili beans, undrained
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
16 ounces cornbread mix

Brown onion and garlic; add in cooked ground beef. Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to boil and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Divide among two deep dish 8×8 baking dishes. Prepare cornbread batter according to package directions. Spread batter evenly over chili mixture. Cover with foil and bake covered at 400F for 30 minutes. *DO NOT cook if you intend to freeze it! See below.* Uncover, and bake an additional 10-20 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.

Freezing Directions:
Prepare as above. After topping chili with cornbread batter, flash freeze until cornbread mixture is set, then cover with foil, label, and freeze. To serve: DO NOT thaw. Bake covered at 400F for 1 hour. Uncover, and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.

The chili recipe was really easy because the previous weekend we had a bonfire at our house and I made potato soup, chili and venison roast and therefore just added a few more beans and some more beef to the chili so that I could wisely put the leftovers to good use and make a freezer meal.

Pictured above: Cornbread Chili Casserole, Pizza Casserole and Beef Stroganoff (which I made for dinner that evening with the extra noodles and ground beef left over from the casseroles).

Pizza Casserole

I also used the extra ground beef to make a large pizza casserole. I boiled 3/4 box of elbow noodles, added 1 jar of sauce, some ground beef (fully cooked), chopped pepperoni, 1 small bag of mozzarella cheese and freshly snipped chives into a 9x13 pan and placed it in the freezer for another ready-made easy dinner!

I must admit that because I was feeling in such a highly "cooking/baking" mood that I went ahead and did a quick grocery store trip to buy some items that would help in making my freezer recipes. I spent $65.22 at Krogers on Friday buying some more foil dishes, bread, milk, eggs and chicken (along with a few other items of course). I have come to realize that when a pregnant woman is in the mood to cook and has the energy to do a big task - than it must be done! The chicken was on sale, so I bought three packs of chicken breasts. I used two and put the third one in the freezer for later. I have $85.78 dollars left to spend for my November monthly shopping, which I believe is going to work out quite well considering I'm not going to need very much.

I made two pans of chicken enchiladas to freeze and also made a chicken, broccoli and rice casserole to freeze.

I found a package of Habanero cheese at Kroger and thought it would be perfect for enchiladas!

Chicken Enchiladas Freezer Recipe

1 1/4 lb ground chicken

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup sour cream

2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

2 cans/jars mild enchilada sauce (use medium or hot for spicier enchiladas)

6-8" tortillas (you will need approx 10-12 depending on size)

In skillet with small amount of cooking oil over medium heat, cook ground chicken and onion until chicken is cooked through. Drain grease (if any). Transfer to bowl and add sour cream, corn and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce.
Using a 9x13 baking dish lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, coat bottom with 1/3 cup of mild enchilada sauce. In each tortilla, spoon 2 tbsp of chicken mixture and 1 tbsp of cheese and roll tortilla up, then placing in baking dish seam-side down so they don't unroll. Once done, pour leftover enchilada sauce over top, making sure it is spread well. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Allow to cool (if not already) then wrap and freeze.

On baking day: Remove chicken enchiladas and defrost. Cover with tin foil, then bake for 20-30 minutes (or until fully cooked) in a preheated 350F oven. Remove foil and return to oven until cheese on top is melted.

**I made my enchiladas by boiling and shredded 3 chicken breasts, adding several cups of cheese and 2 jars of enchilada sauce. I rolled the mixture into tortillas and placed them in the foil pans. ** As you all know by now, I'm not one to follow directions when it comes to cooking, because I love to mix a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Pictured above: Two pans of chicken enchiladas, freezer bag of shredded chicken and chicken, broccoli & rice casserole ready for the freezer.

Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole

16 ounces frozen broccoli florets (or about 3 cups fresh broccoli florets)

3 cups cooked cubed chicken


2 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

paprika, optional

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups rice (uncooked measurement), cooked according to package instructions (should make 4 1/5 cups of cooked rice)

1. In covered saucepan, cook broccoli in water just until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. In greased 9 x 13 baking dish, spread broccoli across bottom and sprinkle chicken evenly on top. Generously sprinkle black pepper over chicken.
3. In mixing bowl, combine cream soups, mayonnaise, curry powder, and chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle paprika on top if desired.
4. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Spread cheese on top and bake 5-10 minutes longer, until melted and slightly browned.
5. While casserole is baking, cook rice. Serve the chicken and broccoli mixture over hot rice.

**To create this into a freezer meal I tweaked the above recipe to fit my needs. I had a half bag of frozen broccoli in my freezer that I boiled (didn't bother measuring it because I knew I was going to add it all to my casserole and a few extra pieces of broccoli was not going to make a difference). I bought 1 large can of cream of chicken soup instead of the two small ones. I made 6 cups of cooked rice, I think. I boiled 6 chicken breasts and used about 2 breasts for this recipe. Most of it I used for the enchiladas, but I did manage to put several cups of cooked, shredded chicken breasts in a freezer bag to use for other recipes. I stirred the cooked rice, chicken, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, cream of chicken soup, a bit of milk (used that instead of chicken broth), 1/2 c. of mayo and spices into a large 9x13 pan. I let everything finish cooling, wrapped it and placed the pan in the freezer, so all I need to do is warm it up. **

So what can a girl do in the kitchen while waiting for the chicken to boil? Well, how about trying a batch of freezer french toast? :)

This recipe is a KEEPER! I LOVE it!!! Yes, I love french toast in general, but this is a very good tasting and easy recipe. It's great for large families too!

Freezer French Toast Recipe
Make your own freezer french toast rather than buying similar commercial frozen ones from the grocery store!

Makes 16 slices for quick breakfasts.

5 eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp salt

16 slices white bread (I used wheat)

*I also added a few shakes of cinnamon to the eggs*

Heat oven to 500F. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, and salt, mixing well. Dip slices, then place on baking sheets sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake about 5 minutes, until bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Cool then freeze in single layer. Once frozen (about two hours) they can be packaged individually or placed in a single freezer bag.

To cook: Remove from freezer, and heat in toaster or toaster oven, then serve.

*We tried these for breakfast yesterday, because I was dying to find out how they tasted and they were yummy and soft! Great breakfast recipe! On a side note: As I was making the french toasts, I was thinking of how much of a time saver this would be for moms of large families - you can get however many pans of french toast cooked at the same time - meaning that everything would be hot and ready to serve at the same time! Instead of freezing the batch, use the recipe to make a fast breakfast in the oven instead of standing at the stove flipping toast after toast after toast. *

My notes on preparing freezer meals:
It took me about 6 hours to prepare the meals, package them and place them in freezer and wash all the dishes! I don't think that is too terrible, especially if you look at it from this point of view: 30 days per month x 30 minutes = 900 divided by 60 minutes = 15 hours (usually more) a wife on average will spend per month cooking meals. If I didn't do the math right someone please correct me - it is 8:30am and I'm still working on my morning cup of coffee, so my brain isn't at full function yet! :) Subtract 6 hours from 15 hours and you're left with 9 extra hours in your month to do whatever other little things you need to attend to or little projects you would like to get done that month - sewing, scrapbooking, yard work,house cleaning and organization, more exercise, etc. - pop the meal in the oven to heat and you can go enjoy 30 minutes - 1 hour doing something productive outside of the kitchen! :)

Preparing for Thanksgiving!

Photo from:

In exactly one week we'll be celebrating the month of November! It's crazy how fast the year can fly! With the month of November coming that means there is more meal planning to do and holiday shopping to prepare for and if you're part of a large family that might mean there is a lot more cooking to do!

How do we save money during the holidays and how do we plan menus?

1st off - what are your plans for the holidays? Are you staying at home and having guests arrive from out-of-town? Will they help with bringing food for the meal or will you supply everything? Are you going away to visit friends or family for Thanksgiving? Are you going to be baking any pies to take along? Knowing what your plans are ahead of time will help you to budget and know what to buy.


2nd- once you have figured out the answers to the first questions, you then will proceed to figure out what you need to plan and prepare for food-wise. You can cook for a crowd and not go broke! What are some Thanksgiving or Christmas meal traditions that are a "must have" (don't forget to ask your husband for his favorite "must haves" too, because sometimes they are different than yours)? Write a list of what your typical Thanksgiving meal looks like: turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie, apple pie, rolls and down here in the south mac 'n cheese is quite a popular dish served at the Thanksgiving meal. If you're able to ask for help and if you have willing family members let them bring something to help with the food! For example, an out-of-town guest who travels 8+ hours to get to your house will probably not want to bring an apple pie, so instead ask them to bring something that travels well like a can of green beans or a box of stuffing that you can prepare Thanksgiving morning. The same goes for if you are the one traveling - help with the meal by bringing something that will travel well.


3rd- How many people will you have? Where will they sit? Do I have enough dishes, silverware, glasses, chairs, etc. for that many people? Will I need to see if I can borrow a table from someone or church in order to have enough room? Do have have enough tablecloths?

TIP: START WORKING ON STUFF NOW! Do you want to have tablecloths that match? Do you want to buy them or sew your own? Do you want to have cloth napkins? What about name holders? If you have kids or are feeling in a crafty mood yourself, you may want to try making some cute placeholders like this cute little turkey made out of a pinecone. If you're looking for matching tablecloths or even just planning to sew yourself some, buying craft supplies or other fall decorations, make sure you print out coupons for Micheal's, JoAnn's, AC Moore and other craft stores so that you can save $$! You can probably get some good deals on tablecloths with a 40-50% off coupon and then go back again later using another coupon to buy another matching one, so that you get two for the price of one.

These are just a few things to start thinking about now. My husband and I still need to figure out what we're going to be doing for the holidays. Needless to say, I need to get my act together before I start my monthly grocery shopping and figure out what we'll be doing! :)

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving and holiday tricks and tips with decorations, meal planning and traditions?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quick & Easy Fall Snacks

Here are some quick and easy fall snacks:

My husband's favorite is: peanuts mixed with candy corn! It's really easy - a jar of peanuts mixed with a bag of candy corn. You can always add whatever little things you'd like in with it: for example you could add raisins and/or another type of nut. Separate into little snack ziplock bags and you have an easy to grab snack!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels is another great snack you can make with a bag of pretzels and chocolate melts. Of course, I'm all for chocolate! :)

Here is a really fast to whip up, good tasting and healthy snack recipe:

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Dip and Apples

Freshly sliced apples ready to dip into the mixture after it's done!
1 cup smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar - you can use less than that - less sugar = more healthy!
1 cup milk - I don't use quite that much milk, so you may want to "eye" it - you don't want the dip too runny, yet you don't want it too dry.

In a medium bowl, cream together peanut butter and cream cheese.
Stir in brown sugar and mix well.
Slowly stir in milk. Mix until well combined.
Chill for 1/2 hour in refrigerator.
Serve with apple slices.
Yield: About 3 cups

Of course, you don't have to refridgerate the dip before using it - it tastes good both ways. You'll want to make sure that you do refridgerate leftover dip. This dip also tastes great on graham crackers and it might also taste good on celery sticks. :)

Freezer Meals!

I'm now in the process of working on freezer meals. I'm emptying out my pantry for the my monthly menu next month and putting everything in the freezer. I love the ease of pulling something already made out of the freezer and warming it up! It's so nice! I'm thinking that with a baby due in a few months and the holiday season coming up, that it would be nice to have a month supply of freezer meals in the freezer.

Thoughts on freezer meals:

-you only need 1-3 days to cook enough of food for a whole month;
-you need just a few minutes to take the food out of the freezer and put into the oven;
-you will benefit to your health by eating home-made, fresh meals every day, plus you know what is in each recipe and dish that you made;
-you will have a bunch of different meals to choose from;
you will never be caught off guard by unexpected guests - you just run to the freezer, grab what you want and warm up your dinner - perfect!;
-you will save on your groceries, electricity bills and last minute trips to the store or to McDonald's to pick up something "quick for supper";
-and personally my favorite reason for making freezer meals: you will have every evening free, to enjoy your favorite activities, spend with your family or just relax after a busy day.

These meals come in so handy when I'm tired after a long day of teaching, especially when the thought of spending time standing at the stove cooking dinner and washing a bunch of dishes after the meal from all the cooking doesn't appeal to me.

You can freeze meals for breakfast, lunch and supper. I love pulling out a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls and warming them up for a fresh warm breakfast treat! I also enjoy making homemade breakfast quiches, which is so nice for a quick morning breakfast when you want something different than the quick boxed breakfast cereal or granola. You can even freeze granola if you want to, although homemade granola if stored currently in a glass jar with a lid or airtight container will keep it good and fresh for at least 2 weeks. I must admit, that I have never tried freezing granola, but I have read that it does work and I'm thinking that I'll be giving it a try this upcoming month. Waffles are another great freezer food for quick breakfasts!

I'll be back later to post pictures and recipes for the meals I just finished making!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Here are some recipes that we have had over the past month that are on my "make again" list!

Baked Potato Casserole
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
6 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
Sliced green onions (optional)
Place potatoes in pot, cover with water, bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Preheat oven to 350... grease casserole dish (2 1/2 to 3 quart dish). Add evaporated milk to the potatoes along with the sour cream, salt and pepper. Beat with hand mixer until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cup cheese and half of the bacon. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish. Bake 20 - 25 minutes until heated through. Top with remaining cheese, remaining bacon and green onions. Bake for about 3 more minutes until cheese is melted.
Makes 16 servings.

Cottage Cheese Yeast Rolls


  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a small saucepan, heat cottage cheese to 110°-115°. Add the cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, salt, baking soda and 2 cups flour to yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough (dough will be sticky).

  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 30 pieces. Shape each piece into a roll. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
    2-1/2 dozen.
I think my rolls had a slight "salty" flavor, so next time I make them I might cut out the salt and just add the baking soda. These are very soft yummy rolls that taste great warm out of the oven!

Parmesan Chicken


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and basil. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg. Dip chicken into egg, then coat with crumb mixture.
  • In a large skillet, brown chicken over medium heat in butter and oil for 3-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Yield: 4 servings.
This is a yummy chicken recipe! I normally do NOT use an egg when I make this chicken recipe. I just coat the chicken breast in melted butter and then dip into the crumb mixture and sprinkle in some dry ranch seasoning.

For dessert I cheated and just through a can of pumpkin pie mix into a frozen ready-made crust and topped it with a scoop of whipped cream - yummy!

What are some of your favorite fall dishes?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Printable Meal Planners

Click HERE to be taken to Money Saving Mom's website to print out free printable meal planners. You'll find 1 week, seven day, 2 week, four week and monthly menu templates along with links for printable shopping lists that give you space to write the items you need, how much it costs and if you have a coupon for it.

How do you organize your meal plans and make a shopping list?

Easy Meals: Tuna loaves & 7 layer salad

Who doesn't love an easy meal that is healthy and cheap? Well, last week I made a 7 layer salad and mini tuna loaves for dinner. The tuna only cost me 10 cents per can. If you live in TN, KY or VA you may have a Super Dollar Discount store nearby. I had heard friends talking about it, but I was unsure about it and wondered if it was really worth it, if it was clean, if the food was good....I mean it's not like a big chain named store.

Well, it so happened one day that I was doing my grocery shopping at Walmart when I bumped into a good friend who told me that she had just gone to Super Dollar and bought tuna for 10 cents each! Needless to say, I was highly impressed and decided to venture over there and find out what type of store it really was. I was surprised - it wasn't dirty, the staff was nice, it was in a great location (across from Krogers - great idea to save on what I can at Super Dollar, then move over to finish the shopping at Krogers) and the prices were great! I stacked up on tuna that day and we JUST finished it last week! Tuna is great because it keeps for so long. I would recommend that if you shop at discount stores - ALWAYS check the dates! You don't want to find yourself getting a great deal by buying spoiled and expired foods.


Mini-tuna loaves - makes six loaves

*2 cans tuna
*1/2 cup mayo
*3/4-1 cup bread crumbs (I like using the seasoned bread crumbs)

Mix ingredients together like this:
Shape into mini loaves with your hands and place in an ungreased Pyrex dish. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until loaves are lightly brown (as pictured below). Serve with veggies or a fresh salad.

For a seven layer salad you will need: lettuce, chopped carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bacon bits, 2 hard boil eggs, small bag of frozen peas and cheddar cheese. Then for the topping you will need sour cream and mayonnaise.

Layer the salad in a clear glass dish or a trifle dish to give it a pretty look. Start with lettuce and then build the salad layering carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and half a bag of frozen peas thawed. Top with chopped hard boiled eggs, bacon bits and cheddar cheese. You can either put the mayo/sour cream dressing on before the eggs, bacon and cheese or you can put it on top after you put them on. Mix approx 1/2 cup of sour cream with approx 3/4 cup of mayo. I didn't really measure how much I mixed together, so you may want to eye it instead of going with my measurements - just make sure you have more mayonnaise than sour cream.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Seriously, this week has been full of all sorts of free things: e-cookbooks, recipe magazines, free drinks at Starbucks and last but not least - free pizza from Little Caesars!

Yesterday from 4-7pm at our local Little Caesars they were giving away FREE hot and ready pizzas! Who could pass up a deal like that?! Due to the fact that I already had a meal made for our supper we decided to go pick up the pizza after we ate and then just put it in the fridge and warm it up for dinner tonight. The pizza was one of those local facebook deals, where if you liked their page you could print a coupon(s) for FREE pizza. It was limit 1 coupon per person - which means that both my hubby and I could of gotten 1 pizza each, but I figured that it would of be a little much for the two of us - we'd probably be eating pizza the rest of the week!

There is one thing that I've learned while making meals for two - finish up leftovers!!! We have a side-by-side fridge and I've finally mastered the trick of fitting ALL our food in the thing! As the meal planner and the cook, I must make recipes that will fit other meals. For example, this week I made Parmesan chicken, potato casserole (recipe to come soon!), green beans, cottage cheese rolls (recipe coming soon!) and pumpkin pie! I made that on Friday evening when the weather was dark, rainy, cool and just the perfect evening for a candlelight dinner. We are still eating the green beans, potato casserole (I'll finish the last of it up for lunch today), and the pumpkin pie! Once the chicken was finished, I made a 9x13 pan of crab meat lasagna on Monday and we will finish that up tomorrow (since we're having pizza tonight!) and the green beans. Before I made the chicken meal, I had made a seven-layer salad and served mini-tuna loaves with it - yummy! Check back soon for recipes!

Tonight, I consider to be a real budget menu meal - free pizza which will be served with either fresh cut veggies or a salad.

What are some great budget meals that you've made this month?

Monday, September 19, 2011

**FREE** Cooking Magazine!

FREE SAVEUR magazine 1 year subscription!


All you need to do is fill out your name, address and email and click the little box that says, "Please don't send me any other special offers" that is at the bottom, then wait several weeks for the first issue to show up in your mailbox!

We currently get issues from Field & Stream and Sport Fishing in the mail for FREE and haven't had a problem at all with them sending us junk, so I'm really looking forward to a recipe magazine and seeing what other lowcost meals I can make with my $150 per month budget!

I had never heard of Saveur before, so I just got on their website and oh, wow! I can't wait for their magazine to come in the mail! - check out their recipes! YUMMY!


Here is a link for a FREE ebook for great slowcooker recipes! This is an adobe document and has 169 pages of recipes! Lots of soups recipes that are great for fall weather! :)

The FREE slow cooker ebook, is normally sold for $7.95 and is FREE today ONLY - so let your friends know.


Use coupon code FBCPMOLLY at checkout and you'll get the book completely FREE!

Monday, August 22, 2011

What do you find worth the money?

We all love to save money, but yet some of us still have a strong urge to buy certain things that is worth spending the extra money on. For example, my favorite and most well-loved kitchen item happens to be the Reynolds WONDERFUL slowcooker liners! To me buying a pack of them (they come in a pack of 3 or 4 bags for $1.28 which equals $0.32-$0.42 cents per a disposable bag) is in my personally opinion - TOTALLY worth it!!! I hate soaking slowcookers and scrubbing them, but I LOVE using my slowcooker because it's a huge timesaver! Therefore, I will spend the $0.40 cents on a bag! Besides, I'm sure you could probably find some coupons off of ebay or in your local newspaper from time to time that will allow you to buy your favorite kitchen tools for less!

Now it's time for you to share! What are some of your favorite handy-dandy, I can't go without, time saver, kitchen tools?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Banana Caramel Pecan Bread

Ready to be put into the oven!

I got this recipe off of a friend's blog and decided to give it a try.

Caramel Pecan Banana Bread

2 cups flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 ripe large bananas

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped pecans

half a package (5.5 oz package) Werther's chewy caramels, chopped

In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In medium bowl, mash the bananas. Add the eggs, melted butter, yogurt, and vanilla and combine well. Lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until just combined. Don't overmix.

Pour batter into greased 9-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the chopped caramels and chopped pecans over the top of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until bread is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

The finished product!
I'll wait until my husband is home before sampling, but it sure looks good! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Easy Yummy Pumpkin Cookies!

~Pumpkin Cookies~
What will you need:

  • Yellow Cake Mix (or spice cake)

  • 1 large can of pumpkin

  • Raisins, nuts and/or chocolate chips

  • Spices (if you use a yellow cake mix)

Mix 1 can of pumpkin with 1 box of cake mix.
Because I used a yellow cake mix (I didn't have a spice cake on hand) I added several shakes of cinnamin, ginger and cloves to my pumpkin and cake batter. Add your raisins, nuts and chocolate chips to taste in the batter.
Scoop spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet (I LOVE airbake pans)

Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes.


Friday, July 29, 2011


Today, has been a fun and a crazy busy day! I started my morning by mopping my floors, doing laundry, paying bills and accomplishing a million other things that a keeper at home does. :) I also decided that I needed to work on the corn that was ready and waiting for me in my garden. I went out and picked ear after ear after ear of corn, then sat down in a comfortable lawn chair and began to husk the cobs. I had fun throwing the husks into our firepit. I know why they call it sweet corn - by time I was done husking my hands were so sticky!

My husband loves frozen cream corn and since I had never frozen corn before, my wonderful mother-in-law came over to help me with the process! First we boiled the ears of corn, then we placed the corn cobs into a sink full of cold water to cool down before we started the process of cutting the corn.

My mother-in-law had a wonderful little tool that I had never seen or used before, but I'm totally getting it for next year! It's called a corn cutter and creamer and it looks like this:

You slide the cob across the blades and "ta da" the corn falls into the bowl beneath and you don't have to spend hours using a knife to cut your corn off the cob. You can get them off of Amazon for $7-10 - totally worth the money! :)

After we had all the corn peeled we scooped the corn into freezer bags and placed them in the freezer for a later date.

Here are some pictures from our morning:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cappuccino Muffins!

The finished product - YUMMY!!!!

Yikes! It's been a while since I've posted anything on this blog. I just haven't felt the greatest lately so grocery shopping, cooking/baking and anything to do with food just hasn't been very appealing. You see, I'm pregnant!!!

I'm almost 12 weeks along and I'm finally starting to feel less queasy. My monthly grocery shopping trip was pure misery as the sight of any food made me feel so sick, but I managed to get through it and spent less than $150! Yay!

I'm blessed to live close to my parents and younger siblings and my in-laws. My youngest siblings have been such a blessing as they helped me cook up my meat, boil noodles and help make several freezer meals which have come in very handy over the past several weeks. I totally agree with whoever came up with the idea of preparing ahead of time when you're in your very early weeks of pregnancy - because having something to just pull out of the freezer when you're not feeling is totally WONDERFUL!

Yesterday, I felt really good and actually managed to do some baking! I was quite pleased and very happy with myself since it had been weeks since I had even wanted to see a recipe book. I made cappuccino muffins from off the Taste of Home website (I love their recipes!).

You can go here to get the recipe:
(for some reason I couldn't copy/paste the list of ingredients without my computer freezing up on me, so I decided to do it this way instead).

If you enjoy coffee or have coffee-loving friends or family than you must try this recipe!

Here are some pictures:

This is the cream cheese spread which smells like Starbucks!!!! They say it tastes good on bagels, so I'm going to give it a try as well! I'm sure they'll taste delightful! :)

This is a picture of the muffin batter - I bought one of those little boxes that have 8 little individual packets of instant coffee instead of buying an entire jar of instant coffee since I know we could never use that much instant coffee and it worked out quite well. I still have enough packets to make another batch of muffins.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Time Treats!

It's summertime and life around here has been full of Father's Day get-togethers, family gatherings, birthdays, and so much more! I'm busy working on my monthly menu for July at the moment and it's currently a slow process since I'm going through new recipes and looking for easy, yummy, and cheap summer meals!

Here is a recipe for some wonderful cool and refreshing ice cream cakes!

Ice Cream Cake

Here is the easy and delicious ice cream cake recipe....

Ice Cream Cake

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream(I used the oreo cookie (cookies'n cream) ice cream for the reg. flavor cake, Bryers Sarah Lee cheesecake flavored icecream for the strawberry cheese cake flavored cake, and a peanut butter/chocolate swirl icecream for the peanut butter cake).

1 package Jell-O vanilla or cheesecake flavored pudding mix(I used chocolate pudding mix in my peanut butter flavored cake and vanilla and cheesecake flavored puddings for my other two cakes - puddings are optional and fat-free and sugar free puddings work fine too).

1 package Oreo cookies(Depending on what type of flavor you plan to make you can choose from the many different flavored cookies. I used the peanut butter and chocolate oreo cookies for my peanut butter flavored cake, I used the vanilla oreos for my strawberry cheese cake ice cream cake, and then used regular oreos for my orginal flavored ice cream cake).

1 container cool whip

1/2 stick of butter

Directions:Set ice cream out to soften. Crush Oreos and mix with about a half a stick of butter (sometimes more) and press on bottom of 9"x 11" pan. Mix softened ice cream with pudding mix. Spread over top of oreo crust. Top ice cream mixture with cool whip and put in freezer for a few hours.


Regular flavor - nothing extra (you could drizzle some chocolate ice cream topping on it)

Peanut Butter - I drizzled carmel ice cream sauce on top of the finished cake.

Strawberry Cheesecake - I added strawberry ice cream topping and fresh strawberries.

Be creative and create your own unique flavored ice cream cake!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Homemade Pizza!

Homemade pizza tastes great and is also a lot of fun to make - plus you can make and freeze them for later use.

Recipe for homemade pizza:


  • 1 pkg. (1T.) yeast

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 1 tsp. sugar

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 T. cooking oil

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Homemade Sauce (you can make your own sauce to top the pizza, or just buy a jar of pizza sauce from the store).

  • 8 oz. tomato paste

  • 1 tsp. of each of the following spices: oregano, seasoned salt, Italian seasoning, dried onion, dried green pepper

  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

  • Dash of pepper

  • 4 oz. mushrooms

  • 1 lb. sausage browned

  • 4 oz. sliced pepperoni

  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Dissolve yeast in warm water; add sugar, salt and oil. Add flour and mix well. Cover and let rise in a warm place at least 5 minutes. Combine paste and seasonings. Grease pan; flour fingers and spread crust. Pour sauce. Sprinkle last 6 ingredients on in order given. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes.