Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grow it Yourself--Produce in Your Backyard

Well, this one is kind of old.  I started to write it way back in the summer when my produce was just starting to grow.  I wanted to wait until I had a harvest to take an actual picture.  Now of course, the harvest is gone and so is the garden.

As I looked at my garden though, and the little work it took (except for those pesky weeds!) I saw my savings add up.  Each bunch of green onions saved me $1.50.  Each pepper was about 50 cents to $1.  Tomatoes saved HUGE amounts, since they are so heavy. 

Those pesky weeds did me in though.  I couldn't keep up.  Next year I'm doing something different--container gardening.  I've been told I won't like it, but I figure it'll be easier to pull weeds out of a giant pot than a giant rectangle. We'll see!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time Saver: Buy more than 1!

Did you know that bathroom cleaner will disappear just as fast if you buy three bottles at the same time or at different times?  I don't know what I was thinking, but for years we had just one set of bathroom cleaning supplies, and I hated dragging the supplies from bathroom to bathroom.  It wasn't until we got some cleaning help while I was watching 3 kids and 8 months pregnant, that I learned this tip.  It wasn't even the cleaning helpers was mine.  I thought it would be easier on HER if she didn't have to drag the supplies all over the house.  I truly am nicer to other people.  She only helped us for 2 months, and after that I realized just how nice it is to have cleaning supplies and paper towels in a LOCKED cabinet in each bathroom.  I also noticed how I might just whip out the supplies and do a quick clean just because its all there on a spur of the moment (and I hate cleaning bathrooms)!

Please make sure each cabinet is locked if you have youngsters!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2 months ago

So about two months ago I made a blog post.  Two months!  Unbelievable!  In my hiatus, we visited Disney World (will write about saving money here I promise!) for nearly 2 weeks.  I'm still trying to get back in my 'groove.'

Been doing a lot of Christmas shopping and trying to achieve my goal of completing it all by Christmas.  I'd like to write more about WHAT I've been buying, but my gift-receivers may be reading! :)

So, without further adieu, now back to your regularly scheduled (and posted on) blog.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Congrats to Leah for winning my first ever blog giveaway!!! chose comment number 3, which was you!  I'll be in touch to work out the details...  Thanks to Monkeyshiners Baby Accessories for supplying the giveaway!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Swagbucks Swidget and Mega Swag Bucks Day!

If you haven't signed up already, don't discount Swagbucks. I've now won over $200 in Amazon giftcards since January plus also been able to donate some of the bucks I won to causes.  You can 'win' swagbucks through searching, special offers (look on the homepage), and swagcodes.  Check the Swagbucks Swidget to the right of this page for the codes, and if you haven't signed up yet, click my special referral link.

Mega Swag Bucks Day happens every Friday, where you have a higher chance of winning larger than normal denominations of Swag Bucks.  When I first started, I won 100 Swagbucks which thrilled not only myself but the girl who referred me because she also go matching bucks!

So, happy searching!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Last Chance to Enter!

Just a reminder! Tomorrow is the last chance to enter the Monkeyshiners giveaway!  Don't forget to enter!  Also look for a freezer recipe to be posted!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Giveaway: Monkeyshiners Bib Clip or Pacifier Leash

photo courtesy Monkeyshiners Baby Accessories

I'm first giveaway! I found Monkeyshiners Baby Accessories and first ordered a bib clip for convenience purposes-- we keep it hooked to my baby's diaper bag, for the 50% of the time I forget a bib when we are at a friend's house or restaurant. All we have to do is clip a napkin to it, and instant bib. Later, same baby liked to drop her ring backed teethers in the road during walks, causing me to look frantically for it. I figured a pacifier leash would pay for itself with just one lost teether, so again Monkeyshiners Baby Accessories came to the rescue!

There are many other accessories in her store, including diaper clutches and cloth doll diapers. to the giveaway!  Monkeyshiners has kindly provided a Bib Clip or Pacifier Leash OR $5 off any purchase from her store!!! For a chance to win, leave me a comment on this thread. For additional entries "like" Monkeyshiners Baby Accessories on facebook or become a follower of my blog (and leave me a comment saying so).  And remember to leave an email address (put AT instead of @ to avoid spambots).

Bonus:  They are also offering a coupon for this blog's readers!  Just let them know you found them through The Mommy Saver blog and save 15%!

This giveaway runs from right now until Friday, September 10. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe: Chicken Cannelloni with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

My husband doesn't like red sauce (known to the rest of the world as tomato sauce), so when I saw this recipe that uses red pepper sauce instead of tomato, I knew I had to try it! In doing so I learned a super easy way to make a sauce that's different from the jars I usually buy (still have yet to get the nerve to can my own).

Basically the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce calls for mixing a drained jar of roasted red peppers with a jar of Alfredo sauce and some Parmesan cheese. I did this the first time. Since then I got more creative and mixed in my own heavy cream, butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese in a pan until melted, and then blended it with the peppers. Yum!

For the Cannelloni you mixed cooked chopped chicken, chive & onion cream cheese, spinach, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and garlic together, and then stuff into cooked cannelloni or manicotti.

Check out the recipes from Southern Living here.

Oh, and check in tomorrow for MY FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time Saver: Use that One Cup Coffee Maker!

Do you have a one cup coffee maker? My friend Laura taught me this trick: dispense a coffee cup of water (take any pods out first!) to speed up cooking! It started with peas...she counseled me to take some peas and put them in a coffee mug. Next dispense a cup of hot water and place that filled mug into the microwave. Using water that's already hot saved minutes!

I decide to expand this idea and try it was boiling water on the stove...same effect! Boiling my mashed potato water (instant this particular eve) was super duper fast since I started with super hot water already. Try it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Garlic Chicken

This recipe is from our freezer meal exchange...made by Pamela. It is so yummy - our whole family loves it!

Garlic Chicken:

2-4 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup dry whole wheat (or just plain Italian but not as healthy) bread crumbs
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves trimmed of fat

Warm the garlic and olive oil together. In a separate dish, combined bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip the chicken breasts in the olive oil and garlic mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture. If freezing, place on a cookie sheet and flash freeze. Then, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer bags until ready to thaw.

When ready to eat, thaw overnight and then cook at 425F for 30-35 minutes.

Alternate options to the recipe are to add red pepper flakes into the garlic/oil mixture AND/OR dry Italian dressing mix into the bread crumbs mixture.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Money Saver: Check Those Price Tags!

The other day I had to run to the market across the street for some sugar. I was out and didn't realize it, and needed sugar to make well, a lot of stuff! So of course I gravitated to the store brand sugar, figuring it didn't really make a difference! But then the name brand caught my eye...and more specifically the price tag. No idea why, but name brand was actually 30 CENTS CHEAPER than store brand. Yeah, crazy. I went with name brand.

You may also find illogical pricing like this when comparing sizes. Normally you'd think the large box of waffles was cheaper per waffle than the smaller boxes. This also used to be untrue at our store. The mid-size box actually saved a few cents when comparing unit price!

Finally a reason to check is some stores may have policies in place to insure their "correctness." A local grocer will give you an item free, up to $10, if the price rings up incorrectly. Once I got a free $10 pack of toilet paper because of this! In fact, it was happening so often I was worried the store manager was going to thing I was tricking them! Honestly I just remember advertised prices.

So keep your eyes sharp and save a few cents!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Swagbucks Swidget and Swagcode Extravaganza!

Search & Win

For those of you who do Swagbucks, today is a special day.  The Swagguy has promised FIVE special swagcodes today.  (These are codes you just type in to get bucks, instead of searching.) To help find these swagcodes, check the swidget, located to the right of this page.  Check it often!  And for those who haven't signed up yet, here's the link: Join Swagbucks!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Freezer Meal Bonus Recipe: Italian Style Chicken


6 small whole chicken breasts (about 4 lb)
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 eggs
1/4 cup water
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup veg oil
1 can (10.75 oz) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can (8 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained and chopped
1 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp dried marjoram leaves

Cut chicken breast in half. Mix bread crumbs, walnuts and salt. Beat eggs slightly; stir in water. Coat chicken breasts with flour; dip into egg mixture. Coat with crumb mixture. Heat butter and oil in 10-inch skillet over med heat until hot. Cook chicken, several pieces at a time, until golden brown--2-3 minutes. Place 6 halves in each of 2 ungreased baking pans. Pur broth into dishes; sprinkle with cheese. Mix remaining ingredients; spoon over top. Wrap, label and freeze.

To serve: About 1.5 hours before serving, remove from freezer and unwrap. Place in oven safe dish, cover and cook in 375 degree oven about 40 minutes. THEN, uncover and cook another 30 minutes.  Serve over pasta.

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Working Woman's Cookbook.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday; Italian Chicken

So, this may seem like a cop-out to some, but its super easy and really yummy.  Just put some Italian dressing in a freezer bag with chicken.  Freeze.  Thaw and cook.  Yum!  The Italian dressing really flavors it!  I like to grill the meat and put it on a bun for a simple sandwich.  So much better than fast food and just as fast!  You could also slice it for fajitas.  Be creative, what else can be a simple marinade? I've done lemon juice with chicken, also wine with chicken or beef.  No need for the expensive marinades.  Enjoy!

Oh, and for those of you disappointed not to see a "real" recipe, tune in Monday for a more "in-depth" Italian chicken recipe.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Super Money Saver: Swagbucks

Search & Win

You've all heard about Swagbucks by now, surely? No?  The concept is simple:  instead of using your usual search engine, you use the Swagbucks search engine.  Swagbucks shares its advertising revenue with you in the form of Swagbucks that you "win."  You then use these Swagbucks to cash in for fabulous prizes!  My prize of choice is amazon gift cards.  I've earned $180 dollars in amazon gift cards since January!  Yes, that's $180 worth of gifts I've been able to get from amazon just for using the swagbucks search engine.  Interested?  Please use my referral link, as I get matching bucks up to 1000 Swagbucks. Just click here to signup.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Tomato Chicken

My husband doesn't like tomato sauce, but this meal is OK for him.  I like to serve it over pasta (whole wheat of course!) My recipe calls for pre-cooking and then reheating on meal day, but I can't help thinking it'll work to freeze raw, too.

1 (14 oz) jar chunky pasta sauce
1 (16 oz) jar mild salsa
1 (10 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried parsley
cayenne pepper to taste
pepper to taste
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

In a large pot of medium-low heat, mix all the ingredients (except chicken and pasta).
Place chicken in a seperate pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes, until chicken juices run clear.
Transfer chicken to sauce mixture.  Cover, and cook on low about 20 minutes if freezing, 40 minutes if not. If freezing, allow to cool and transfer to freezer bag.

On cooking day: Serve with pasta.  Reheat chicken and sauce and serve over cooked pasta.

This recipe was amended from Tara's Chicken.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Money/Time Saver: Ice Cream Pie

I was thrilled to hear that my brother-in-law enjoyed reading my blog, and even more thrilled to hear how excited he was about a recipe he wanted to share with my readers.  I'm never heard of ice cream pie, but it seems like a super easy idea, and something I'll try for the next church dinner.

Ice Cream Pie


Ice Cream, softened
Store Bought Pie Crust (PLEASE read labels to make sure it is trans fat free, as many of these are NOT)
Box of pudding mix
Cool whip
a little milk

Mix the ice cream with the pudding mix and just enough mix to thin it and make it spreadable and spread into the pie crust half way.  After freezing 1-2 hours, top with cool whip and freeze until ready to eat.

Ryan says "one normal box of pudding mix is enough to do about 4 pies, so use half the box of pudding if only doing 2 pies." Or 1/4 for one pie.

You can totally mix this up...use vanilla ice cream and vanilla pudding, chocolate ice cream and cherry pudding... lots of choices!

 Enjoy the treat!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Be a Mommy Saver: Coupon Clip!

I have never spent more than $6.99 for a pack of diapers, and that was just once.  Usually I spend no more than $5.99.  And I'm not talking about store brand diapers either--they are usually the premium or ultra-premium brands.  I haven't purchased as many diapers as normal since we cloth diaper part time (another great money saver!), but I refuse to pay full price when I do.

Thursday I managed to get 4 jumbo and mega packs of brand name premium diapers for $8.98 (Total!). I also had a great thing going at our local grocer earlier this year.  I noticed that the Huggies Pure & Natural coupons were EVERYWHERE, so I'd buy a pack of those at $8.99 minus a $3 coupon ($5.99) and the cash register would spit out both a $3 and a $2 off Pampers Coupon!  This happened for months!  I gave away the $2 coupons and just used the $3 ones.  I had so many packs of diapers saved I didn't have to buy any diapers from February to June!

The savings is simple...taking 5 minutes to go through your coupon pack, or going to one of the many coupon sites online (just google "coupons") you can find savings on things you were planning to buy--which is another important point: don't just buy things because you have a coupon.  Make sure you were already going to buy it, or you will end up spending more.  (An exception to this is if you can get an item for free/pennies...and then donate it if you aren't going to use it).

Another coupon tip is to find stores that double.  You'll find many grocery stores that double coupons (so a 50 cent off coupon becomes $1 off), but they all have different limits. The grocery stores in my town cap out at $1, but if I drive 25 miles to the next town some of those stores will double dollar coupons for even greater savings.  For example, this week Eggland's Best Eggs were on sale for $1.99.  I had a $1 off 2 coupon.  If I had gone to that grocery store, I would've gotten 2 packs of eggs for $1.98...less than half price! Its important to factor in the cost of gas for trips like these though, since that's money too!

I keep my coupons in a big clear folder in my they are always ready when I stop in at the store.  What I'd like to get is a baseball card organizer though--so easy to view each coupon fast and easy to organize.

Happy Couponing!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Tex Mex Chicken Soup

So I do know its summer, but we LOVE this soup recipe.  Served with some homemade rolls (which can also be frozen) its a quick and easy meal.  The ladies in my freezer meal exchange rave about this also!  One warning though--make sure you are getting diced chillies and NOT diced jalapenos...unless you want to kick up the spice A LOT! (oops)

2 14-oz cans chicken broth
1 15-oz can Great Northern Beans (Rinsed and drained)
1 4-oz can green chillies, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup frozen corn

Spray a large soup pot lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Add beans, chillies, oregano, cumin and broth.  Stir and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chicken and corn. If freezing, reduce heat and allow to cool before transferring to freezer container.  If eating immediately, allow to simmer an additional 15 minutes.

On eating day: Thaw and reheat on stove on low.

This recipe was adapted from Moms Budget.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Zesty Chicken Marinade: Freezer Meal Friday on Saturday

So, today is Saturday (or it was for those of you reading this later), and not Friday, as the freezer meal Friday recipes normally occur.  Yesterday however my family visited Hershey Park, and 'oops' I forgot to set an autopost! Hershey Park was a lot of fun!

Today's recipe is a simple chicken marinade.  We eat A LOT of boneless/skinless chicken.  I often buy it on sale for under $2 a pound, so freezing it in a marinade and adding some sides on cooking day make it a quick fix. You can grill it, bake it, broil it, or cook it in a pan.

4  garlic cloves, minced (I just used a tbsp-ish of minced garlic)
1  small onion, finely chopped
1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
1/4  cup  olive oil
1 1/2  teaspoons  paprika
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  teaspoon  dried parsley
1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
About 1.5 pounds of  boneless skinless chicken

Mix all the ingredients together in a freezer bag and thaw when ready to cook.  The mixture will marinate the meat as it thaws.

This recipe was amended from My Recipes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No pizza sauce? Try tomato soup! Seriously!

Just a quick post the past 24 hours I've made zucchini brownies, whole wheat bread, egg salad, buttercream frosting, and pizza crust, all while taking care of 3 preschoolers (2 just part of the day) and an infant.  So, when I realized I didn't have pizza or pasta sauce for the pizza crust, I really didn't want to run to the store.  So I tried tomato soup.

I took a can of condensed soup, added basil, oregano and garlic to it, and that's it!  The sauce tasted delicious on the pizza!  It was a little sweet, but still good topped with cheese and green peppers.  Its an "in a pinch" winner!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to Make the Best Chocolate Cake Ever!

When I found this recipe I was floored.  And then when it actually tasted good...I was shocked!  My super-picky husband even said it was good.  Its a yummy chocolate can recipe with hidden blueberries AND all whole wheat flour.  And no butter! They'll never know.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) this snack didn't last long enough for a pic.  The teens from our church's youth group (the testers) gobbled them up.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
6 T unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 egg

Keep in mind this is a small recipe...only fits a 8x8, so if you plan to make a layer cake, be sure to double it!

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Combine water, blueberries and egg in a blender until smooth, then add to flour mixture. Whisk until well combine and pour into pan.  Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick placed in center comes out clean.


I found this recipe here. I just put a simple frosting on my cake, but they have directions for a more decadent one also.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Stovetop Chicken Casserole

I've been so tired this week! That picture is how I've felt! I've been getting "almost" enough sleep, and nothing very stressing has been happening, but I've been just dragging.  Thankful for the meals I have tucked away that just need thawed and heated or cooked.  This week's meal was introduced to me by a dear friend Annette after the birth of my first daughter. Yes, that one up there looking exhausted.  Annette brought us that hot meal, and we've been making it ever since. I especially like it when I don't know what else to cook!  I have the kind of husband who needs vegetables concealed whenever possible, so I added spinach to the recipe.  It really works and pack a powerful punch of vitamin K and vitamin A!

 Later, when I started making freezer meals I decided to try to see if it would work in freezer form.  It does.  Perfectly! Here you go:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken cut into chunks
4-6 slices swiss cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
 1 cup frozen spinach (thawed if not making a freezer meal)
1 box of stovetop stuffing
2-4 tbsp of butter, melted

Line the bottom of your ovensafe baking dish or 9/13 pan with the chicken chunks. Layer the swiss cheese next, then pour on the spinach.  Mix the soup and milk together, and then pour that over the spinach.  Top evenly with the stuffing, and finally drizzle the melted butter over the top of the stuffing.  Cover tightly and freeze.

To cook:  Thaw completely and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  You may cook from frozen but it will take about 2 hours and not taste as yummy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Make Your Own Cake Frosting!

My picture today is deceptive. It was my youngest daughter's first birthday this weekend and this was her cake.  My husband prefers store bought frosting when he star tips cakes for its constancy.  I dislike it for its trans fats and the fact that I always run out at 10pm.  The last time this happened I decided to try something daring:  I made it myself!  I always thought this was a super complex task only to be attempted by the most qualified professional bakers.  Uh, no.  Its super easy.  Its simply a combination of butter, confectionery sugar, a little vanilla, and a little milk (plus color if necessary).  Here's the recipe I started with, but now I just wing it and you will be able to also. 

1 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

Thats it...just mix it all together until it forms frosting!  If its too thick, add just a little drizzle of milk and mix.
For chocolate frosting add some cocoa powder as well.

For a second point today a blog I frequent Heavenly Homemakers celebrates GratiTuesday each week and asks its readers to talk about what they are thankful for.  As I reflected on this today, I first of all was very thankful for the string of green lights I got on the way to pick up my daughter from playground camp, and of course my family, but on a relevant topic to this site--I'm thankful for all these tips I've learned.  Many of these were the result of friends or family members sharing their knowledge with me, and encouraging me to try things.  I think presently of my dear friend Alissa who encouraged me to try making my own Alfredo sauce, or my friend Laura who told me about the cookie time saver.  Of course there are other friends who've shared tips that I'm not going to mention here right now, but know I'm thankful for you too.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Freezer Meal Friday Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Chicken

 Frozen Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Happy Freezer Meal Friday!  I know a bunch of you were looking forward to seeing some more recipes!  I know I love having my freezer work for me.  This morning I threw some rye bread I had baked in the freezer and then threw some cookies in the oven straight from my freezer.

Today's recipe is Bacon Wrapped Chicken.
Its so easy you'll be making batches of these to freeze all the time!

1.5 pounds Boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tsp dried basil
1 stick cream cheese (plain or veggie or herb)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 pack of bacon

Let the cream cheese soften, add the basil and the garlic.  Alternately, you can just use herb or veggie cream cheese and eliminate this step, although I still plop some garlic on when I do this.
Take the boneless skinless chicken breast and trim of visible fat.  Then, slice it in half making chicken fingers.  Take a scoop (about 1 tbsp) of the cream cheese mixture and spread it over one of the chicken figures and then put the other on a sandwich.  Wrap the chicken "sandwich" in bacon (one or two slices).  To freeze, place on lined cookie sheet and freeze overnight.  Remove from freezer and place in freezer bags.

To Prepare:  Remove chicken from freezer and let thaw in fridge overnight.  To cook: bake at 375 for 40 minutes and then broil to crisp up chicken OR (better choice) fry in covered pan until cooked through.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Farmer's Market

 photo copyright RAL

This summer I'm trying an experiment.  I'm only buying local produce this summer to use for my family, with the exception of bananas and mushrooms (as they aren't grown locally and are a big part of our diet.)  As I'm doing this, I'm surprised at the low cost of the items I'm getting.  Just this morning I got a bunch of locally grown carrots for $1 and a huge carton of string beans for $2.  Last week I got a head of salad greens for $1 that lasted longer than the lettuce I bought from grocery store ever did.  So my savings is twofold- less expensive and less spoilage!

Try it yourself! Local Harvest has the option to search for farmer's markets near any location.  You might also check your local paper.

Using a farmer's market for produce also helps eliminate the mindless buying of junk each time you wander into a grocery store. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Make it Yourself: How to Make Ice Cream Cake!

I've always viewed ice cream cake as quite a treat but the cost has always made me hesitate from purchasing it.  And then sometimes I get to partake in the ice cream cake, and discover it doesn't actually have any cake in it: just ice cream and cookie crumbs.

For my husband's recent birthday, I decided to make him an ice cream cake!  Here is what I did:

Step 1:  Bake a cake.  Hubby isn't a big chocolate person, so I chose a butter cake recipe.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a springform pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Cream the butter and blend in the white sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Stir until just blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 to 55 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from pan and allow it to cool.
 Meanwhile, allow about half a carton of ice cream to soften.  When the cake is cool enough, cut it in half so you have two thin circles.  Place one back in the springform pan, then spread the ice cream on top of it, and put the 2nd layer cake on top like a sandwich.  Place in freezer at least one hour.  Remove from freezer and frost.  I chose this delicious cream cheese frosting recipe.


  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar.
So you take out your frozen cake, and spread your delicious frosting on it.  Normally I like to decorate a little more elaborately than the picture shown, but there were party guests coming in 20 minutes and I had to make due. Remember, you'll need to put your creation back into the freezer until closer to party time.  Be sure to remove it about 20 minutes before eating so its softened.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Utilize the Library

 Photo copyright RAL

I understand some of these tips may be no-brainers to most, but it might still help some!  I've learned this year to really utilize our local library for books.  I loved the great deals I found in the book catalog that was sent home with my daughter each month and often stocked up on the $1 books (only to be read and discarded).  Then money was tight one month and I didn't order.

You know what?  We survived.  And I discovered all the books I would've ordered and more available for free. A savings for me of over $100 a year! (I had been spending $10-$15 a month).

Our local library also has great programs for kids, such as storytime, playtime, and puppet shows.  Again, for free.

Just don't return the books late and get fined, and be sure to donate books to your library if they take them!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


  Photo copyright RAL. Do not copy.

Oh, those delicious summer treats!  We rarely buy them, but the orange and ice creamy goodness is oh so good.  Recently I discovered how to duplicate the taste at home using only a few simple ingredients.  Have a popsicle mold? Try it out!  Be prepared...its more icy than creamy, and the flavors are mixed.  I have an idea though...will update!

Creamsicles at Home

1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 Cup Milk
6 tbsp Heavy Cream

This recipe won't give you the orange coated treats you'd get from the store, but it will still have the taste.  Using your popsicle mold, pour 1 tbsp cream into each mold.  Then fill halfway with milk, and the rest of the way with OJ.  Freeze and enjoy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freezer Meals (Make Ahead)

I've been waiting until Friday to write this, because I think "Freezer Friday" has a nice ring to it.  Agree?  Every Friday I plan to share a recipe for a freezer meal, or make-ahead recipe that you can use.  This is a HUGE money saver, as you get to not just buy in bulk, but buy in bulk on sale!  It also reduces the need to get fast food or eat out when there just isn't time for dinner.  With a freezer meal you just thaw (if necessary) and bake!

One super option for freezer meals is to join/start a freezer meal exchange.  I've been part of one of these for two years.  Every month I make 5 of the same freezer meal, and then on a designated day I swap meals with 4 of my friends.  I go home with 5 different meals!  This month London Broil was on sale buy one get one free, so I bought 6 cuts of meat and will use that in this month's recipe.  I also got the red wine vinegar that will also be part of the recipe on clearance for additional savings.

Here's the recipe for Marinated London Broil:

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Place meat in a gallon size zipper bag (I usually choose a piece between 1-2 lbs).  Add ingredients to the bag and freeze.  Allow to thaw overnight the day before you plan to cook it.  When ready to cook, place on broiler pan, pat dry and sprinkle with salt (you can omit this). Broil on high for 7 minutes on each side.  And be prepared for massive deliciousness!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Make Your Own Bread

 photo copyright RAL

My husband makes delicious sandwiches for lunch for work.  He selects artisan bread, toasts it and tops it with lunch-meat, thousand island dressing, and occasionally some vegetables.  The problem was, the cost of the ingredients were making "brown bagging it" cost more than eating out.  One of the major purchases was the $4 a loaf bread he was buying.  I've since found I can make it myself and with all wholesome ingredients for about $1.50 a loaf.  If he were to pack lunch every week, this would save over $100 a year just making it myself!

Here are my two favorite recipes:

Caraway Rye Bread

1 1/2 teaspoon Yeast
1 cup Rye flour
2 3/4 cups Bread flour
1/3 cup Brown sugar
3 Tablespoons Caraway seed
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cup Water, warm

Place ingredients in the bread machine in recommended order.  30 minutes before the end of the cycle, preheat oven to 350 with stone (like pizza stone) inside.  When cycle is complete, place dough in an oval on the stone and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Oat/Flax/Whole Wheat Bread

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or whey, kefir, buttermilk or yogurt) plus enough water to make 1 cup
2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil (or olive oil or melted butter)
2 Tbsp. coarsely ground flax seed
2 Tbsp. hot water
1/4 tsp. honey
1 3/4 tsp. yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten

Put water/vinegar mixture, flour, oats, honey, oil and flax seed in the pan of your bread machine in the manufacturer’s recommended order (mine says to do liquids first then solid ingredients). Turn the bread machine on the dough cycle and let run for about five minutes, until all the ingredients are well mixed. Turn off the machine and let this sit for 12-24 hours.
After the soaking period, combine the 2 Tbsp. water, honey and yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast (mixture should rise and become foamy). Add the yeast/water/honey, salt and gluten to the flour in the bread machine. Select the dough cycle and watch it for the first few minutes to make sure it doesn’t need more flour. I only needed to add about 1 tsp.
When the dough cycle is finished (mine takes 120 minutes), dump the dough onto a flour surface. Roll into a rectangle, then roll up to fit in your loaf pan. Place in greased loaf pan and allow it to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for half an hour, until crust is brown and it sounds hollow if you tap on the bottom of the loaf. You can brush the crust with melted butter to keep it extra soft.

This recipe was taken from The Benhase Home .

Be sure to grind the flax or it won't do any good for your body!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Help! I need a quick, easy dinner! Crockpot recipe

Judging by my lack of posts this week, you may detect my busyness...that's why I love recipes like these when you are in a pinch.

I generally try to healthify my meals, meaning I try not to use prepared or processed ingredients, but sometimes I lack the time and energy yet still need to eat.  I was so thrilled to discover a crockpot recipe that takes 1 minute to start.

What You'll Need:

About a 2 lb chuck roast
can of cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup of water
packet of dry onion soup/dip
1 tbsp of minced garlic

Put can of soup, water, garlic and dry soup in the crockpot and mix.  Add the meat and turn to coat.  Set on low for 8 hours and enjoy!  Super easy and yummy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Less Trips to the Grocery Store

Along with menu planning, try to enter a grocery store less to save money.  Sure, you may think "I'm just going in to buy milk," but often time you'll find yourself leaving with more.  One tip that helps me is to visit a product specific store for the "quick trips."  For example, I'll go to the dairy to buy milk (its closer anyway) since I'm less likely to buy anything else there.

When you do shop, keeping yourself on a time crunch will help you focus on your list (yes DO make a list!) and prevent you from taking a leisurely stroll down the chip aisle.  (It's my husband's birthday, thus the chips here...and yes, there was a sale on cereal!)

And, when you do pick up those extra items (ahem, chips and chocolate) survey them before you check out.  (Do I really NEED this huge bag of M&M pretzels, or will a small bag be okay, or none?)  Chances are you probably don't need all the extra things that may have found their way into your cart.

My plan of attack is to make one big grocery store shopping trip a month, and then 3 more weekly small trips.  I'm currently on a task to eliminate those weekly trips for the time being, and doing the in-between trips at our local farmer's market and dairy.

Also,  the blog Heavenly Homemakers has posted FREE weekly menu planners much prettier than the ones I posted.  Check them out!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Menu Planning

Menu Planning is a HUGE way to save money AND time.  Sure those trips for convenience/fast food may seem inexpensive at the time, but it really adds up.  So does running to the grocery store every time you discover you are missing an ingredient.  Think of all the time you could save if you didn't have to run to the grocery store 3x a week!

By planning your meals in advance you save money three ways: (1) by the ability to make meals mostly out of sale items, (2) using ingredients you have (such as breadcrumbs and basil), and (3) being prepared with dinner so you aren't buying fast/convenience food.

Meals can be planned by the month or week and with much detail or little.  Some families might just plan dinner and assume they will just eat what they have in the house for breakfast and lunch.  Other families may prefer to plan breakfast and lunch very specifically.

Above is an example of a detailed blank menu plan. Many times I just plan out dinner and we just eat cereal and fruit for breakfast, and leftovers for lunch.  For a free printable whole month calendar I use  When I want to save paper Google has a great free calendar app at

Even if you are skeptical, try it out for one week and see the time and money savings add up!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cookie Time Saver!

                                                                                                                                      photo copyright C.W.L

Ahh, fresh baked cookies!  They are my husband's key to happiness.  His favorite have toffee chips in them.  Of course its not always easy to whip up a batch of cookies with babe in arms.  Here's a great time saving trick:  Next time you make a batch of cookies, bake the 15 or so your family will eat in the next few days, and then freeze the rest.  Take a lined cookie sheet and scoop the dough onto the sheet using your cookie scoop as you normally would.  Since you are freezing these and not baking them you can put them much closer together.  Once the sheet is full, cover it with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.  The next day, take the frozen cookie clumps and place in a gallon size ziploc bag.  The next time the cookie bug bites, just take a dozen of frozen cookie clumps out, place (spread out this time) on a cookie sheet and bake! I just let them sit on the cookie sheet at room temperature while the oven is preheating, and they take an extra minute or two of bake time.  Enjoy! (Thanks Laura for the tip!)

Here's a decidedly unhealthy recipe my husband loves:

Mama Hinz's Candy Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup lt brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 10oz bag of toffee chips
1 cup of M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour and the baking soda and set aside.  Cream the softened butter and add the sugars.  Next add vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs until blended and then the flour mixture. Finally add the candy. Scoop onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 11 minutes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to Make Those Gas Station Slushies

                                                                                                                                    photo copyright C.W.L

My 5-year-old daughter LOVES those gas station know the ones with ice, sugar, and more sugar? Oh, and maybe some food coloring and high fructose corn syrup too.  Yuck.  The other day it dawned on me how easy I could make these at home, and totally 'healthify' them!

Healthy Slushies

10 ice cubes
1/2 cup of juice (we use grape, but apple or orange should work!)
1 cup of fruit (we are using strawberries right now)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend. Add additional juice to get to desired consistency.  Pour into a cup. Add a straw, and Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Post: What this is all about

Hi! My name is Rebecca and I live in Central PA with 2 young children and my dear husband.  Two years ago I quit my full time job as a day care director to stay home with my oldest.  I felt like I was missing out on her life!  Since then I've been doing all I can to live frugally, and earn a little side money here and there.  I've often wanted to share what I've learned with others, so here I am!

This blog will share:
*money-saving tips (who doesn't like an extra $ in her pocket?)
*time-saving tips (who already has enough?)
*quick and easy recipes
*freezer recipes (or make-ahead-meals)
*free or low-cost activities to do with children

I also hope to have some guest posters from time to time share their ideas.