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.