Archive for the ‘DIY Recipes’ Category

Homemade Gel Ice Packs & Moist Heat Packs

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, January 7th, 2018 at 3:20 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

If you have an athlete in your house or suffer from back pain, here are a couple of recipes for some DIY relief.  I have actually tried both of these this past weekend and they work great- plus, this could save you around $10-$20 and a trip to to the drugstore!

It’s easy to make a hot or cold pack with materials you already have at home. Also, as a rule of thumb, cold packs help reduce inflammation and numb a painful area while heat packs help increase circulation to a specific area of the body and can promote healing.

Reusable Homemade Gel Ice Packs

What you need:

    • 1 quart or 1 gallon plastic freezer bags (depending on how large you want the cold pack)
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 cup rubbing alcohol

 

Instructions:
Fill the plastic freezer bag with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water.

~Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut.

~Place the bag and its contents inside a second freezer bag to contain any leakage.

~Leave the bag in the freezer for at least an hour.

~When it’s ready, place a towel between the gel pack and bare skin to avoid burning the skin.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 2.47.55 PM

Reusable Homemade Moist Heat Packs

 

What you need:

  • Cloth container (like an old sock)
  • 4-6 cups filling (uncooked rice or oatmeal)
  • Needle and thread (optional, but recommended)

 

Instructions:
~Fill your container with the filling.

~Tie or sew the container shut.

~Microwave container for 1-3 minutes. (check every 1 minute interval)

So whether you are using cold or heat therapy, apply for no more than 15 minutes at a time and the best way is to alternate 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for up to 2 hours. Keep these recipes handy and you’ll always be prepared for an injury or unexpected flair-up!

How to Clean a Stove Top Using Vinegar & Baking Soda

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, December 31st, 2017 at 3:40 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

cleanHow to Clean a Stove Top Using Vinegar & Baking Soda

Now that your holiday cooking adventures are almost over, we wanted to share this invaluable solution for getting your kitchen back in tip-top shape!

Step 1: I sat my burner in the sink with some hot water and plain vinegar to soak for about 10 minutes. You can see in the sink a couple tiny black flakes from my burner but the soak was just to help soften up some of the burnt on food.

Step 2: I took my normal dish scrubber brush and gave my burner a quick scrub. I did not exert a lot of energy or muscle. Just scrubbed to break off some of the loose pieces. This is what my burner looked like.

Step 3: I then took my $0.50 box of off brand baking soda and gave it a quick shake throughout the inside of my burner. This is more of a light coating then anything.

Step 4: I then took my finger (yes my finger) and splashed a little bit of vinegar around the inside of the burner creating a paste. It should not be more vinegar then baking soda.
Step 5: I then took the corner of a towel, wrapped around my finger and lightly scrubbed in small circles around the inside of the burner. For the tougher burnt spots, I picked up a little bit more of the paste, and continued my circular scrubbing. It took me about 5 minutes to achieve the results below. And as you can see on my towel, the results of my scrubbing.

 

I cannot believe that it took me a few years of fighting with these stoves to figure out the best way to clean them or keep them clean. I have tried everything, including wrapping my burners in aluminum foil. That is the worst thing I ever did! Not only was I trying to get off burnt on food but also burnt on aluminum foil.

This method also works if you have one of those pretty glass top stoves. If you get the small rings of burnt food particles and can not find anything to clean it off without having to leave the house for a few hours because of the smell, try this method. I have used this on my parents glass top and it came out sparkling. I do recommend a good glass cleaner to give it the reflective shine after a baking soda scrub.

I hope I was able to help other families to conquer their frustrating stoves and burners. It has definitely made my cleaning a bit easier.

Meal Solutions for Turning Leftovers Into New Meals

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017 at 3:00 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Meal Solutions - turning leftovers into new meals

Making your budget stretch can be difficult. When you have a family, it’s even harder. But, by getting creative and using some savvy tips, we can keep our budgets in check AND feed our families great meals – with leftovers! Here are some great ideas to stretch your budget for the week during this expensive time of year!

Whether you are cooking for 1 or 2, or for a family of 7, any of these ideas will work for you. This will save you time, money AND hassle of figuring out what’s for dinner! By transforming your leftovers from one meal, you will have to cook less, plan less and spend less, because you’ll be making them into brand new meals!

Keep in mind that in some of these recipes, you’ll simply ignore the “cook” part of the meat, and just re-heat the leftover you have from the night or afternoon before.

You may also like our Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms + FREE Meal Planning Printable!

CHICKEN:
Rotisserie Chicken – Chicken Pot Pie – Chicken Salad

leftover meal solutions

Grabbing a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store when it’s on sale and you’re in a bind for a quick dinner is a nice, easy solution. When your family can’t finish the entire chicken, don’t waste it! Use the bones and skin to make chicken stock (great for crock pot cooking!) by throwing them in a pot of water with spices, seasonings and any desired vegetables. Boil, then simmer and you have a great stock! Take the leftover meat from the chicken to create 2 more meal options, too.

Meal 1: Rotisserie Chicken w/ Vegetables

Meal 2: Chicken Pot Pies – take all of your leftover chicken to make chicken pot pies with this recipe!

Meal 3: Chicken Salad Sandwiches – Stretch your budget further by using that leftover chicken for lunch! Make chicken salad by shredding up leftover chicken, and mixing it with mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, chopped celery and onions! The chicken pot pie recipe works great as a chicken salad, when you replace the liquid with mayonnaise.

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Fajitas

* Creamy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

* Chicken Noodle Soup

* Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

* Chicken Lo Mein w/ Broccoli

* Chicken Alfredo Pockets

* Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

* Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

* Chicken Tamale Casserole

* Fort Worth Egg Rolls

(Chicken Pot Pie Photo credit, Chicken Salad Photo credit)

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Steak:
Steak Dinner – Breakfast Hash – Stir Fry

Steak for dinner? If you have leftovers from the kids, or can prepare a little more, you can create a lovely breakfast in the morning AND a fun dinner a couple of days later!Meal 1: Steak & Potatoes

Meal 2: Breakfast Hash – Cut up pieces of the steak, and fry up some leftover potatoes. Throw them in with eggs, cheese, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes or whatever else you want for a morning meal that’s sure to get you going! Even better, if you served your steak the night before with mushroom and onions, this will be awesome in the hash, too!

Meal 3: Host a fun Asian night for your family with a new stir fry recipe! Slice up that leftover steak into strips, add toss it with some frozen vegetables, garlic, orange juice, ginger and whatever else can give it that Asian kick!

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Slow Cooker Steak & Rice

* Grilled Steak Quesadillas

* Beef Stew

* Steak Chili

* Beef Flautas

(Steak Photo credit , Hash Photo credit, Stir Fry Photo credit)

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Spaghetti (Ground Beef/Turkey):
Spaghetti Dinner – Stuffed Bell Peppers – Taco Salad


Spaghetti is a quick fix kind of dinner, but if you make a bit extra (sauce and meat), you can turn that into 1 or 2 more meals for the week! Marinara sauce is so practical in a lot of different recipes. In fact, the only different between marinara and a spicier taco sauce is the spices. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and vinegar to marinara and you have transformed your marinara!Meal 1: Spaghetti w/ Meat or MeatballsMeal 2: Stuffed Bell Peppers – take your spaghetti sauce with mixed in meat, add rice, corn, chopped peppers, olives, cheese and whatever else you want to put in your peppers for a quick dinner! Top with cheese, bacon, sour cream or fresh herbs for a nice addition.

Meal 3: Taco Salad – spaghetti sauce & meat are a great start to the makings of Taco Salad! Just add some spices or taco seasoning packets to give it some flare, then toss it around with tomato, avocado, lettuce, tortilla chips, and salsa for a great lunch or dinner in a pinch!

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Beef & Bacon Chili

* Sloppy Joes

* Tacos

* Shepherd’s Pie

* Meatloaf

* Cheesy Beef & Rice Skillet

* Hearty Fall Chili

* Bacon Cheeseburger Soup (don’t sauce all of your meat for this leftover idea)

* Italian Spaghetti Bake

* Spicy Taco Soup

(Bell Pepper Photo credit, Taco Salad Photo credit)

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Pork Roast:
Egg Rolls – Pulled Pork w/ Root Beer Sauce Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a great pork roast!? If you happen to have leftovers, or are cooking for just 1 or 2, this is a great meat to make leftover dishes with pizzazz!

Meal 1: Pork Roast w/ Veggies

Meal 2: Egg Rolls – shred up your leftover pork and make egg rolls with this recipe!

Meal 3: Pulled Pork w/ Root Beer Sauce Sandwiches!

 

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Pork Stroganoff

* Tropical Pork Salad

* Southwest Pork Soup

* Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas

* Fully Loaded Pasta Shells (use pork instead of other ingredients)

* Pork Stir Fry – Stir fry w/ diced green bell peppers, chunks of pinapple and quartered onion and tomatoes and then dress w/ a tomato ketchup/soy/splash of pineapple juice mixture. Add a bit of cornflour to thicken and serve with rice.

(Pork Roast Photo credit, Egg Rolls Photo credit, Pulled Pork Photo credit)

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Salmon (Fish):
Salmon Cake Breakfast – Salmon Tacos

What’s for dinner? Fish! You can interchange most fish for these salmon dishes, and enjoy wonderful, new ways of eating salmon for dinner, breakfast AND lunch!

Meal 1: Salmon

Meal 2: Salmon Cakes Breakfast – create salmon cakes, then serve with eggs and toast for breakfast in the morning! YUM!

Meal 3: Salmon Tacos – fish tacos are always a hit! Cube and cook the leftover salmon, mixing with spices like cumin and chili powder. Throw in some cilantro, then put it all together on a soft taco shell. Dress it up with veggies of your choice, sour cream, corn, avocado, lemon, salsa, onions and more!

 

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Salmon Croquettes

* Salmon Corn Chowder

* Salmon Spaghetti Carbonara

* Salmon Salad

What are your favorite leftover solutions? Share in the comments!

Too Cold Outside? 8 Fun Family Indoor Activities

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017 at 12:20 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Family indoor activities

Phew! It’s cold out there today!  Throughout the winter here in DFW, there will be days where the weather is just too unbearable.  Here are some unique ways to spend quality family time together INDOORS!

*Build a fort

It’s a classic throwback activity from a time before electronics ruled our lives.  Grab your pillows, blankets, sheets and towels and get creative with the family!  Create a fort, fill it with pillows, stuffed animals, games, snacks, and flashlights, then prepare to have some serious snuggle time and fun with the kids! A great accent for any fort is fun lights!  These battery operated LED string lights change colors and can create a really fun ambiance.

*Camp in the living room

There aren’t any bugs in your living room, and the heater can keep you warm.  Move the couches and set up your camping tents and lawn chairs for a campout in your home! These adorable kids camping chairs are the perfect way to gather around in a circle to tell ghost stories, share a pizza or play games like 20 questions or Truth or Dare.  You could also play musical chairs, duck duck goose and other fun games that don’t require a lot of space.  These pop up tents are a great alternative to a real camping tent. When you’re ready to lay down, pull out those sleeping bags and “campout” in the living room!  The FREE Relax Melodies app on Android or iTunes can play nature sounds to help create the mood.

*Game Night

Make some soup and pull out those board games for a family game night!  Have each member of your family choose their favorite game, then play one round of each game. Another fun idea to add to game night is prizes! Create fun little goodie bags filled with inexpensive treats and candy (like these packs of party favors!) and let each winner pick their own.  You can also create your own games – kids are amazingly creative when it comes to making up games of their own!

*Retro Movie Marathon

Kids can watch the same movies over and over again.  Why not introduce them to your favorite movies from your childhood with a retro movie marathon?  There are awesome movie compilations from the 80s starting at only $10 for eight movies. Load up The Goonies, E.T., The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Secret of Nimh are some great starters.  Pop some popcorn, lay down pillows and blankets and crank up the A/C for a fun and lazy day of nostalgia and relaxation.

*Indoor obstacle course

An indoor obstacle course may not be feasible for some families, but you don’t need a lot of space to get creative!  Use hallways, furniture and even the bathtub to create a course inside your home.  Set up stuffed animals, toys and dolls as the cheering crowd.  Lay down a Twister game mat and have each child jump from one color to the next.  If you have a long hallway, put on socks and see how far you can slide before you stop.  Use pillows as stepping stones, a jump rope for a finish line, pots and pans instead of traffic cones, and old cardboard boxes as tunnels.  Get creative with the things you have around your home!

*Crafts & art projects

Whip out those crayons, construction paper, glitter and stickers!  Crafts and art projects can keep kids entertained for hours.  Ask them to create a greeting card of their own for grandma and grandpa.  Buy Craft Kits appropriate for their ages.  Let them design clever door hangers or signs for their bedroom doors.  You can find tons of great kid crafting ideas online, or come up with your own creative ideas for super cheap!

*Cook or bake

If your kids are budding chefs and bakers, why not have a fun day in the kitchen together. Not only will they learn about cooking and baking, the time spent together will create last memories for them.  Plus, they can be creative and feel accomplished once they’ve completed their meals!  Consider planning an entire dinner – with appetizers, salad, main course and dessert.  Let the kids pick what they want to cook, grab the ingredients and start cooking together.  This is a great opportunity to let them feel proud of what they’ve done when it’s all set out on a table (time for the fancy china!?) and they see their amazing meals ready for the family!

*Throw a party

You don’t need a holiday or birthday to throw a party.  Call it a “Family Winter Party” or make up a fun name that fits your family.  Cook foods everyone loves, and create a self-serve table filled with their favorite goodies.  Use paper plates to eliminate dishes (who wants to do dishes when there is a party going on!?).  Stop by Five Below or Party City for decorations, a piñata, and more inspiration for your party.  Turn on Pandora and let loose with dancing to really kick it up a notch!

What are your favorite family indoor activities?

Thrifty Tips

Meal Solutions for Turning Leftovers Into New Meals
Choosing Quality Fruits and Vegetables at the Grocery Store
What Foods Can You Freeze? Save Time & Money
Top 10 What to Buy During End of Summer Sales
80 Non-Toxic DIY Cleaners
10 Uses for Muffin Pans
10 Items Worth Buying at the Dollar Store
Signature Mini Meals + 21 Meal Suggestions

+ More!

 

5-Minute Donut & Coffee Icing Recipe

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Friday, December 22nd, 2017 at 2:40 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Forget going out to pick up donuts to surprise your family with this holiday season!  With just a refrigerated roll of pre-made biscuits (Pillsbury or any store brand will work perfectly), some oil and sugar, you can have fresh, hot and delicious donuts in minutes!

Refrigerated Biscuits (tubes; ready to bake)
Oil for frying
Sugar for dusting

Pour about 1/2 – 1 cup oil in a large sauce pan.  The oil should be enough to cover 1/2 of the donut when set in the pan.  Turn on oil to MEDIUM heat.  When you can sprinkle water in the oil and hear a sizzle and pop, it’s ready.  Turning it up higher may get it hotter quicker, but you’ll want to turn it back down so you don’t burn the donuts.

Next, take the biscuits out of the tub, and separate.  Flatten slightly, and cut a hole in the centers.  I used a water bottle top.  Place, one at a time, in the heated oil, and fry until deep golden brown on both sides (you’ll want to flip them frequently to watch the color easier).  Be sure not to take them out too early, or the centers of the donuts will not cook though.  Pat dry with paper towel, and roll in sugar.  Best served warm.  Eat within 6 hours, or the dough will start to get chewy.

What’s better than coffee and donuts in the morning!?  Here’s how to make the coffee icing:

1 cup Powdered Sugar

1 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/3 cup Butter or Margarine, softened

2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee

Instant coffee packets (if you want a bolder coffee taste)

Beat butter until creamy.  In another bowl, stir powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Add sugar mixture to butter and blend well.  Add coffee.  Continue to add coffee until the taste suits you.  I added a single, instant coffee packet (<–these are my favorite) to the mixture, as well, which gave it a much stronger taste.  Add more powdered sugar to thicken the icing, if needed.  ENJOY!

More ways to save in the kitchen:

Save Time & Money on Your Holiday Baking

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 at 3:20 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

If you are about to start your holiday baking, you know this can mean a hefty grocery bill! Baking at this time of year often involves large quantities or more expensive ingredients, and that can add unnecessary stress to the season.

So before you get ahead of yourself, take into account how much money you have to work with and how to use it best. If you’re making baked goods for lots of people, pick an inexpensive recipe, such as brownies or sugar cookies, and make a large batch that you can divide and present separately. If you stay focused, you can make some great treats and still keep your finances in check. Here are our tips for saving a little $ (and hopefully time) on this fun and festive cooking tradition!

Buy early, buy store brands and store away

The chances of all the items you need for your baking going on sale at the exact moment you need them is unlikely. So if you want to score the best deals, you have to come up with a game plan and get some of your shopping done a little early. For example, butter freezes and thaws very well, so don’t be afraid to stock up when they’re on sale and stow them away in the freezer for later. Other common baking ingredients, such as flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, sugar and molasses, have really long shelf lives, so don’t hesitate to buy them up when they’re on sale. Plus, spreading out the cost of these items over a few months can make the final bill a little more manageable!

Find Multiple Uses for Expensive Ingredients

You don’t want to only use expensive ingredients on one baked good and have the rest go to waste.  So either reconsider making a recipe with an expensive ingredient or try and find multiple recipes that work.  Also, research to find if that ingredient can be frozen and stored for a later recipe.

Use the bulk store to your advantage

Bulk stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can be huge assets if used right. Many boxed or pre-baked products have high prices and aren’t worth your time, but if you stick to the bulked goods and keep an eye out for sales, you can get some fantastic deals. One of my favorite items I always get there for my holiday baking are nuts.  They are usually much cheaper than the grocery store and can definitely be stored in the freezer for use throughout the whole year.

Use what you already have

It can be tempting to try out a whole bunch of different recipes for the holidays. And though there’s certainly nothing wrong with adding some new items to your collection, picking several creations that will need a variety of different tools and ingredients will be tough on your bank account. To save a little money, look for recipes that make use of the devices and ingredients you already have.

Bake from scratch 

Rather than starting with an expensive mix or refrigerated cookie dough, find recipes to bake from scratch.  They really don’t take much extra time, cost less to create and can be a fun family activity. Plus, then you know all the ingredients that are in your treats and can alter them to fit your particular tastes.

Host a Cookie/Holiday Goody Exchange

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions and can really be one of the best ways to save time and money in the kitchen. Rather than buy ingredients for 20 different kinds of cookies or holiday goodies, consider starting a holiday exchange with a group of friends. You can make just one particular recipe that you bake in bulk and really capitalize on whatever sale items you can score. But by the end of the exchange party, you’ll go home with a nice assortment of cookies for the holidays without all the effort! 🙂

5 New & Unique Christmas Cookie Recipes

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, December 17th, 2017 at 4:00 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Even though tradition is a big part of the holidays, sometimes it is nice to mix it up and try something new! I usually bake about 8-10 cookie recipes during the Christmas season and most of them are the tried and true classics like sugar cookies, snickerdoodles and gingerbread men. But a few years ago, I started the idea of adding one new and unique recipe to my repertoire and now that has become a family tradition that my family eagerly awaits!

So here are 5 recipes that I have baked before that could easily become a classic in your house!

Smores Cookies~ You have to try this wintry one-bite take on the s’more. The thin, crunchy graham rounds are topped with gooey chocolate ganache and a spiraling pillow of browned marshmallow.

Eggnog Cookies~ A soft, cakey cookie made with eggnog, topped with eggnog frosting.

Milk Chocolate Chip Maple Syrup Glazed Bacon Cookies~ These will blow you away if you are a salty sweet fan! Bacon is not-so-secret ingredient in these smoky cookies, but its the maple syrup that adds a just-right amount of sweetness that really takes them to the next level.

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel~ A blend of coconut and salt caramels combines in these delicious cookies for just the right amount of sweet and simple.

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies~ Cocoa powder, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper make for an aromatic and comforting combination.

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup Recipe

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, December 10th, 2017 at 2:40 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

Here’s a great Sunday dinner idea that is all cooked in ONE pot, that will not only satisfy the comfort food craving, but also only takes 45 minutes from prep to serving. This soup has some serious flavor – and really does taste like a  warm, gooey bacon cheeseburger.  Make it for company, and they’ll be asking you for your amazing Bacon Cheeseburger Soup recipe!

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped or diced
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped or diced
1 garlic clove minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 lb potatoes (about 3 medium sized potatoes), peeled and cut up into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon or 1 cube beef bouillon
12 oz Velveeta (about 2/14 cups)
Bacon, cooked & crumbled (3-4 slices or more if you prefer)

 

In a 6-qt stockpot, cook beef, onion and pepper over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until beef is not longer pink.  Break up beef into crumbles while cooking.  Drain.  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.  Stir in flour, until blended.  Gradually stir in milk.  Add potatoes, water and bouillon, then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover while simmering for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add Velveeta and stir until melted.  Sprinkle with bacon pieces and serve hot. Add raw onion, lettuce shreds and tomato, if you like, as well, to really make it cheeseburger-y!

Get more recipes HERE!

More ways to save in the kitchen:

Signature Mini Meals (in ONE Muffin Pan) + 21 Meal Suggestions

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, November 26th, 2017 at 3:00 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Here’s a fun idea for kid-friendly meals that will also help you get rid of some leftovers!  If you missed our tips on using leftovers, head over here to check it out!  You’ll be able to get creative with this recipe idea, and even be able to make several mini meals in one muffin pan – all different to suit your family’s tastes!  Picky eaters in the family?  This allows you to customize each meal, and cater to those with specific requirements for theirs.  These are also great for on-the-go meals, quick lunches and road trip snacks.

Grab my favorite muffin pan HERE.

For a base, use this recipe:

* 1/2 cup Bisquick

* 1/2 cup milk 

* 2 eggs

Mix together and put about 1 tablespoon in each muffin cup, and if you choose to, add another tablespoon to the top of your mixtures (listed below)!  Use a spatula to spread the mixture around in each cup to coat the sides.  Alternatively, you can use plain pancake mix, and forgo the milk and egg.  Another idea is to use cornbread mix – just follow the package directions, and put them in each cup.

Now comes the fun!  You’ll fill the cups the rest of the way up with leftover chicken and veggies, steak shreds, shrimp or whatever else you have laying around or need to eat up before it expires.  Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.  Even better, you’ll be able to freeze these in freezer bags, take them for lunches and re-heat in the microwave!  Sprinkle your favorite seasoning on top for an extra bit of flavoring, before popping into the oven.

meals

1. BBQ chicken + cream cheese: throw on a dollop of sour cream when it’s done cooking, and you have a delicious and unique little meal!

2.  Ground Beef (leftover taco meat) and mashed potatoes:  this makes for some sweet mini meat loaf or shepherds pies!

3.  Egg & mashed potatoes:  like getting hash browns, a muffin and egg all in one little cup!

4.  Veggies:  broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and grilled bell peppers make for this awesome veggie cup!

5.  Broccoli, Chicken & Cheese:  a mini casserole in the perfect size!  You can also see a great recipe for Broccoli Chicken Casserole HERE!

6.  Chili:  leftover homemade chili (get a recipe HERE for Beef & Bacon chili!), topped with diced onions, all cozy inside it’s own little batter cup!

Here are 15 more ideas:

*PIZZA CUPS:

Create your base (recipe above), then add some marinara sauce, cheese, onions, pepperoni, olives and pineapple!  Kids can pick their toppings and make their very own mini pizza cups!

*CHICKEN ALFREDO:

Use leftover chicken and either shred or cut into chunks.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of alfredo sauce over it for a quick and easy chicken alfredo, in the perfect size portion!

*BEEF & BROCCOLI:

A beef & broccoli pot pie!?  Mmmmm….Top your cups up with some beef and broccoli florets, then drizzle soy sauce or teriyaki over it!  If you have sesame seeds, that would make for a fun and decorative topper!

*THANKSGIVING:

Take your Thanksgiving meal and make tiny muffin cup servings!  Pour in your base (recipe above), then add a few chunks of turkey, about a 1/2 tablespoon of stuffing and 1/2 tablespoon of mashed potatoes.  Drizzle with gravy when you pull it out of the oven!

*CHEESEBURGERS:

Ground beef, ketchup and cheese over your base will create mini cheeseburger cups!  You could add steak sauce, diced onions , relish or whatever else you would normally put on your burger!

*CHICKEN ENCHILADAS:

Use:  shredded, leftover chicken and top with Rotel, cheese, olives, jalapenos and hot sauce!

*CHICKEN CORDON BLEU:

Add leftover chicken and ham pieces to your base mixture in the cups.  Place pieces or shreds of swiss cheese over them, sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper, then top with more base mixture OR with bread crumbs (crushed croutons work well)!

*VEGGIE CUPS:

Throw together some of your favorite vegetables, then sprinkle with pepper, lemon, marinades, balsamic vinegar or any other delicious topping you can think of for a fun veggie cup!

*CHILI:

Mix together leftover ground beef, Ranch Style Beans, onion dices and tomato sauce.  Add cheese or seasonings as desired to have some mini chili cups!  Top with the base to have chili pies!

*SAUSAGE POTATO LASAGNA:

Take crumbled Italian sausage and mix with mushrooms, egg, leftover mashed potatoes and ricotta cheese.  Put about 2 tablespoons on top of your base, then layer with spinach!  You’ll have a unique and flavorful mini meal!

*TACO CUPS:

Use leftover taco meat from last night’s meal.  Add to your base, then top with cheese, tomatoes, avocado and seasonings.  These would be nice to re-heat for lunch the next day, or freeze for another meal later in the week!  Once heated, you can top with cold lettuce and sour cream!

*ITALIAN MEATBALL MEALS:

If you had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, consider using your leftovers to create fun little meatball cups!  Place a meatball in on the base, then pour on a flavorful combination of tomato sauce and italian spices.  Sprinkle with shredded swiss or parmesan cheese.

*POT ROAST CUPS:

Place small pieces of leftover pot roast, potatoes, onions & carrots into each cup with the base.  Pour in some beef broth, cover with more base and ta-da!  You have portable pot roast cups!!

*BREAKFAST CUPS:

Create your base, then crack an egg into the cup.  sprinkle in bits of bacon, cheese and any spices you like!  You could also mix the egg with milk and onion powder, and scramble, before pouring into the cup.  Brush on some maple syrup around the base before adding other ingredients to really kick this breakfast into high gear!

*BROCCOLI BITES:

Use uncooked broccoli florets and mix with a bit of cream cheese, swiss cheese, diced mushrooms and onions, then put 2 spoonfuls into each base-lined cup!

Get more recipes HERE!

More ways to save in the kitchen:

Meal Solutions for Turning Leftovers Into New Meals

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Saturday, November 25th, 2017 at 3:00 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Meal Solutions - turning leftovers into new meals

Making your budget stretch can be difficult. When you have a family, it’s even harder. But, by getting creative and using some savvy tips, we can keep our budgets in check AND feed our families great meals – with leftovers! Here are some great ideas to stretch your budget for the week.

Whether you are cooking for 1 or 2, or for a family of 7, any of these ideas will work for you. This will save you time, money AND hassle of figuring out what’s for dinner! By transforming your leftovers from one meal, you will have to cook less, plan less and spend less, because you’ll be making them into brand new meals!

Keep in mind that in some of these recipes, you’ll simply ignore the “cook” part of the meat, and just re-heat the leftover you have from the night or afternoon before.

You may also like our Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms + FREE Meal Planning Printable!

CHICKEN:
Rotisserie Chicken – Chicken Pot Pie – Chicken Salad

leftover meal solutions

Grabbing a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store when it’s on sale and you’re in a bind for a quick dinner is a nice, easy solution. When your family can’t finish the entire chicken, don’t waste it! Use the bones and skin to make chicken stock (great for crock pot cooking!) by throwing them in a pot of water with spices, seasonings and any desired vegetables. Boil, then simmer and you have a great stock! Take the leftover meat from the chicken to create 2 more meal options, too.

Meal 1: Rotisserie Chicken w/ Vegetables

Meal 2: Chicken Pot Pies – take all of your leftover chicken to make chicken pot pies with this recipe!

Meal 3: Chicken Salad Sandwiches – Stretch your budget further by using that leftover chicken for lunch! Make chicken salad by shredding up leftover chicken, and mixing it with mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, chopped celery and onions! The chicken pot pie recipe works great as a chicken salad, when you replace the liquid with mayonnaise.

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Fajitas

* Creamy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

* Chicken Noodle Soup

* Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

* Chicken Lo Mein w/ Broccoli

* Chicken Alfredo Pockets

* Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

* Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

* Chicken Tamale Casserole

* Fort Worth Egg Rolls

(Chicken Pot Pie Photo credit, Chicken Salad Photo credit)

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Steak:
Steak Dinner – Breakfast Hash – Stir Fry

Steak for dinner? If you have leftovers from the kids, or can prepare a little more, you can create a lovely breakfast in the morning AND a fun dinner a couple of days later!Meal 1: Steak & Potatoes

Meal 2: Breakfast Hash – Cut up pieces of the steak, and fry up some leftover potatoes. Throw them in with eggs, cheese, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes or whatever else you want for a morning meal that’s sure to get you going! Even better, if you served your steak the night before with mushroom and onions, this will be awesome in the hash, too!

Meal 3: Host a fun Asian night for your family with a new stir fry recipe! Slice up that leftover steak into strips, add toss it with some frozen vegetables, garlic, orange juice, ginger and whatever else can give it that Asian kick!

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Slow Cooker Steak & Rice

* Grilled Steak Quesadillas

* Beef Stew

* Steak Chili

* Beef Flautas

(Steak Photo credit , Hash Photo credit, Stir Fry Photo credit)

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Spaghetti (Ground Beef/Turkey):
Spaghetti Dinner – Stuffed Bell Peppers – Taco Salad


Spaghetti is a quick fix kind of dinner, but if you make a bit extra (sauce and meat), you can turn that into 1 or 2 more meals for the week! Marinara sauce is so practical in a lot of different recipes. In fact, the only different between marinara and a spicier taco sauce is the spices. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and vinegar to marinara and you have transformed your marinara!Meal 1: Spaghetti w/ Meat or MeatballsMeal 2: Stuffed Bell Peppers – take your spaghetti sauce with mixed in meat, add rice, corn, chopped peppers, olives, cheese and whatever else you want to put in your peppers for a quick dinner! Top with cheese, bacon, sour cream or fresh herbs for a nice addition.

Meal 3: Taco Salad – spaghetti sauce & meat are a great start to the makings of Taco Salad! Just add some spices or taco seasoning packets to give it some flare, then toss it around with tomato, avocado, lettuce, tortilla chips, and salsa for a great lunch or dinner in a pinch!

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Beef & Bacon Chili

* Sloppy Joes

* Tacos

* Shepherd’s Pie

* Meatloaf

* Cheesy Beef & Rice Skillet

* Hearty Fall Chili

* Bacon Cheeseburger Soup (don’t sauce all of your meat for this leftover idea)

* Italian Spaghetti Bake

* Spicy Taco Soup

(Bell Pepper Photo credit, Taco Salad Photo credit)

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Pork Roast:
Egg Rolls – Pulled Pork w/ Root Beer Sauce Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a great pork roast!? If you happen to have leftovers, or are cooking for just 1 or 2, this is a great meat to make leftover dishes with pizzazz!

Meal 1: Pork Roast w/ Veggies

Meal 2: Egg Rolls – shred up your leftover pork and make egg rolls with this recipe!

Meal 3: Pulled Pork w/ Root Beer Sauce Sandwiches!

 

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Pork Stroganoff

* Tropical Pork Salad

* Southwest Pork Soup

* Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas

* Fully Loaded Pasta Shells (use pork instead of other ingredients)

* Pork Stir Fry – Stir fry w/ diced green bell peppers, chunks of pinapple and quartered onion and tomatoes and then dress w/ a tomato ketchup/soy/splash of pineapple juice mixture. Add a bit of cornflour to thicken and serve with rice.

(Pork Roast Photo credit, Egg Rolls Photo credit, Pulled Pork Photo credit)

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Salmon (Fish):
Salmon Cake Breakfast – Salmon Tacos

What’s for dinner? Fish! You can interchange most fish for these salmon dishes, and enjoy wonderful, new ways of eating salmon for dinner, breakfast AND lunch!

Meal 1: Salmon

Meal 2: Salmon Cakes Breakfast – create salmon cakes, then serve with eggs and toast for breakfast in the morning! YUM!

Meal 3: Salmon Tacos – fish tacos are always a hit! Cube and cook the leftover salmon, mixing with spices like cumin and chili powder. Throw in some cilantro, then put it all together on a soft taco shell. Dress it up with veggies of your choice, sour cream, corn, avocado, lemon, salsa, onions and more!

 

OTHER OPTIONS:

* Salmon Croquettes

* Salmon Corn Chowder

* Salmon Spaghetti Carbonara

* Salmon Salad

What are your favorite leftover solutions? Share in the comments!

Thanksgiving Meal Price Guide

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, November 19th, 2017 at 2:40 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

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Stock-up price will vary depending on what region of the country you live in and how close to Thanksgiving you purchase your turkey.  Remember – you’ll pay nearly DOUBLE for a fresh turkey, that you will pay for a frozen bird.  This is important because we are thrifty shoppers and we want the best deal for the most value!   We will say that generally a great stock-up price for a frozen, whole turkey (always buy whole!)  will be between 39¢ and 59¢ per pound.  Finding a frozen, whole turkey under $1 per pound is a good deal.  Do the math and bring your calculator with you!  ALSO, be sure that the butcher’s calculations are correct.  If you are supposed to be paying 79¢/lb, and the total seems a little high, it may just be!

Remember:  These are stock up prices.  This is just a guide for you to gauge what you are paying versus what you could be paying.  Get as close to the listed prices as you can when you are shopping for your Thanksgiving meals.  Watch the blog for coupons on these items!

MEAT

Turkey – whole, frozen  39¢-59¢/lb  (under 99¢  per pound is a score)

Spiral Ham – $1.69/lb or under $2 /lb

SIDE DISHES

Stuffing – we can score this for FREE with coupons, but if you don’t, under 75¢ is great

Box Potatoes – 50¢

Canned Veggies – 30¢ or under

Frozen Veggies – FREE – under $1

Gravy – dry packets will be under 50¢, and jars/cans will be under $1

Cranberry Sauce (can) – under $1 (the closer it gets, the more chances of scoring it for 50¢)

Chicken Broth (can) – 33¢

Chicken Stock – FREE – 75¢/box

Olives – FREE to 50¢

French’s Onions  $1.50

Whole, frozen pies – we see these on sale with coupons for under $2 each

Rolls/Biscuits (frozen) – 50¢ and under for a Pillsbury package

Rolls/Biscuits (fresh, dozen) – depending on the brand, watch for under $2.50

Cranberries (fresh) – we can get them for FREE, but about $1 per package is good

Sweet Potatoes – 49¢/lb

Yams – 49¢/lb

Brussel Sprouts – $1.49/lb

Cauliflower – 88¢/lb

Broccoli – 88¢/lb

Potatoes – under $2 for a 10 lb bag  (we even see 15 lb bags for $1.99!!)

Fresh Green Beans – under $1 per pound (these prices have changed, too)

Celery bunch – 89¢

Carrot bunch (1 lb) – 89¢

BAKING ESSENTIALS

Milk – $1.99 (gallon)

Heavy Cream – $1 (1/2 pint)

Evaporated Milk – 50¢

Condensed Milk – 75¢

Sugar (5 lbs) – $1.50 (under $2)

Flour (5 lbs) – $1.50  (under $2)

Powdered/Brown Sugar (1 lb) – 89¢

Baking Powder – FREE – 50¢

Corn Starch – 50¢

Marshmallows – under $1/bag

Cool Whip – 50¢ for holiday flavors, under $1 for regular

Canned Pumpkin – $1 or under

Chocolate Chips/Morsels – $1 – $1.50

Cream Cheese – $1

Cake Mix – 75¢

Frosting – 75¢

Cinnamon Rolls – 50¢

Butter (salted/unsalted) – $1.50/lb

Pie Crust (2pack) – $1

Pecans – The price of pecans has sky-rocketed!  The cheapest we’ve seen lately is $6.99/lb

What Foods Can You Freeze? (You May Be Surprised- Save Time & $)

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Sunday, November 12th, 2017 at 2:20 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

What foods can you freeze?

What Foods Can You Freeze?

You work hard to get the best deals on your groceries. So when things in your refrigerator go bad, it’s almost heart-breaking to have to throw them away. There are a lot of products that you may not know you can freeze to keep fresh and longer! Another advantage of freezing is that it’s a time saver. Cook your rice, mashed potatoes and more. Freeze them, and thaw out for a quick meal fix!

By doing this, you’ll save time, money and heart ache. Having a Deep Freezer (I keep mine in the garage!) is a GREAT way to stock up on deals and a nice place to store all of these items, too. You may be really surprised at how many foods you can freeze and how much you’ll save.  Here are some foods you can freeze:

Fresh Herbs

If you don’t have a herb garden, it can be expensive and wasteful to buy packages of herbs at the store. Freeze them for long lasting freshness. Once you get them home make sure to wash and shake off any excess water.

For herbs like cilantro and parsley you can keep them standing in a cup of shallow water in the refrigerator. I like to use the bottom half of plastic water bottles before recycling them. For other herbs like rosemary or sage, puncture some holes into a plastic bag. Then simply wrap them in a moist paper towel, and place them in your freezer.

Alternatively, you can pull the herbs off the stalks and chop them up. Take an ice cube tray and fill it with your cut herbs. I love this Elbee Ice Cube Tray. Cover the herbs with water or stock and freeze. Because the appearance is compromised by the freezing process, you’ll want to use them differently.  Soups and sauces are perfect for this method. Here’s a fun tip – instead of water, use stock! That way, when you toss them in your stews, crock pot, soups and more, you’ll be adding even more flavor!

Fresh ginger should be peeled and wrapped tightly before freezing.  When you’re ready to use it, grate and slice away.  Be sure you wrap it up really well before re-freezing.

You can also use those minty ice cubes in teas and alcoholic beverages!

Eggs

When eggs are 99¢ per dozen or less, I definitely want to stock up. But how many eggs can you really use and eat before they expire?

Just crack them into a bowl, pour into a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze!   You can also use ice cube trays – just crack the eggs into the sections, stir them up a little, and freeze! These will defrost and work wonderfully for baking or eating as you normally would!

Mashed Potatoes

Do you have a big family dinner to prepare? Make your mashed potatoes as you normally would, the day before. Then, let them cool to room temperature. Scoop out single portions onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, and freeze. Once frozen, you can put those portions in bigger freezer bags and keep for up to 2 months! What a time saver! When you see potatoes on sale for 78¢/5 lb bag, THAT is the time to stock-up and freeze!

Dairy

There are so many dairy products on the market now.  Wouldn’t it be great to stock up on inexpensive milk and butter?  Now, you can, without worrying about them expiring before you use them.

  • Cheese – You can throw your bricks of cheese into the freezer, as they are (in the plastic wrap), but be warned that the consistency will be altered. If you let it thaw completely before putting it in the refrigerator, this might not be the case, though. I suggest shredding or slicing before freezing. If you shred it, throw in a little cornstarch or flour and shake it around in the bag, before freezing. This will help it to not clump when it defrosts. If you slice it up, make sure to add a divider like wax paper, in between each slice. When a 2-lb block of cheese is $4.99 (my stockpile price), you’ll be able to stock up and save it by freezing!
  • Coffee Creamer – Most coffee creamers are actually dairy-free.  You see them in the refrigerator section at the grocery store, but it’s not necessary.  If you want to freeze coffee creamer, go for it.  Just be sure you thaw it out and give it a GOOD SHAKING before using!
  • Cream Cheese – Freeze and thaw before eating or using. It’s pretty sturdy and doesn’t have much of noticeable change.
  • Butter – Freeze and thaw. Just like cream cheese, the consistency and taste aren’t altered much.
  • Milk – This one you will hear some mixed opinions about freezing. I say YES! When you do freeze it, the milk fat will separate and will look… weird, for lack of a better word. Don’t worry, that’s normal. After you thaw it, give it a good shake to distribute the fat particles. I have used it for cooking, eating, and drinking after being frozen. You will also want to be sure you leave some room at the top of the container you freeze, to allow for expansion.

Breads

I haven’t met a bread we couldn’t freeze. With 2 kids, stocking up on bread is essential in my house. Freeze loaves, rolls, buns, whole, sliced, biscuits, muffins, cakes… Just remember that packaging is super important. You want to keep as much of the air out of the package, as possible. If you have a FoodSaver, just freeze your breads until they are solid, take them back out, place in your special bag and vacuum seal like normal. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, simply suck the air out of the bags with your mouth. Get all that air out. Then, thaw out your bread and use as you normally would.

The next time you make homemade pancakes, french toast or waffles, consider making some extra batches. You can freeze these on a cookie sheet, then throw them in airtight bags to thaw out and microwave later.  This is a great tip, when time isn’t on your side in the morning.

Fruit

Fruits! They are awesome in smoothies, yogurt, baked goods, pancakes and SO much more. Why waste fruit before you can use it? You can freeze your fruit to help it last longer.  Items like berries and pineapple will freeze better by placing them on wax paper on a cookie sheet. After they are frozen, place in baggies – and you can pick your portion. For bananas, just keep the skin on and toss it in the freezer.

Get the most out of your citrus.  Zest oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes and mandarin.  Place the zest in a freezer bag.  This will last a long time in your freezer.  You can also use ice cub trays to freeze the juice.

Snacks

Salty snacks are easy to freeze.  When chips, crackers and cookies are on sale, stock up and freeze them. Life gets busy, so when Super Bowl weekend, New Year’s Eve, the holidays, the beginning of school and parties pop up, you’ll be ready. You can throw those bags as they are, in your freezer to keep them fresh! No need to thaw, because they’ll be even crispier frozen!  This is also a great tip for stale chips and crackers.  You can freeze them, and they will taste fresher.

Nuts can also be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months in your freezer.

Rice, Soup, Chili & Stew

Cook your rice and freeze it.  Simply spread it out on a parchment covered cookie tray.  Freeze until it’s solid, then store in airtight freezer bags. When you need it, just thaw and re-heat.

Soups, chili and stews can also be frozen.  What a great way to keep your leftovers from going bad!  Just place them in airtight containers, and leave a bit of room at the top.  When you’re ready, reheat and enjoy!

Wine

When you have a little leftover wine in the bottle, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. You won’t be able to drink it, but it’s AWESOME for cooking!

Pasta

Cook your pasta, and freeze in an airtight bag. Reuse it by running warm water over the bag to thaw out.  Re-heat it by placing it in the microwave, and voila, you have pasta ready to eat.  Can you freeze the sauces, too?  Absolutely.  Airtight containers and ice cube trays work well for this.

Corn

Corn is awesome for BBQs and cookouts.  When it’s on sale, grab that deal!  You’ll be able to freeze it for later. Put the ears in the freezer, still in the husk, then microwave for about 5 minutes for perfect corn!

Cookie Dough

Here’s a nice tip for after school treats.  When you don’t have the time during the week, make cookie dough on the weekend, and freeze it.  Make your dough like normal, then freeze in bags OR roll into a “log” for easy “slice and bake” cookies later!

Juice

When you have a new bottle or carton, pour a bit into ice cube trays to freeze for sauces, cooking and baking. Tighten the cap or close the container, and freeze. You need that extra room at the top, because the liquid will expand in the freezer.

Save time and money from now on with these awesome tips on what you can freeze.  Your perishables will last longer, and you’ll be able to stock up when sales hit the stores.

What are your freezing tips?
Share in the comments!

 

Thrifty Tips

Meal Solutions for Turning Leftovers Into New Meals
Choosing Quality Fruits and Vegetables at the Grocery Store
80 Non-Toxic DIY Cleaners
10 Uses for Muffin Pans
10 Items Worth Buying at the Dollar Store
Signature Mini Meals + 21 Meal Suggestions

+ More!

 

Too Cold Outside? 8 Fun Family Indoor Activities

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Saturday, October 28th, 2017 at 12:20 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Family indoor activities

Phew! It’s cold out there today!  Throughout the winter here in DFW, there will be days where the weather is just too unbearable.  Here are some unique ways to spend quality family time together INDOORS!

*Build a fort

It’s a classic throwback activity from a time before electronics ruled our lives.  Grab your pillows, blankets, sheets and towels and get creative with the family!  Create a fort, fill it with pillows, stuffed animals, games, snacks, and flashlights, then prepare to have some serious snuggle time and fun with the kids! A great accent for any fort is fun lights!  These battery operated LED string lights change colors and can create a really fun ambiance.

*Camp in the living room

There aren’t any bugs in your living room, and the heater can keep you warm.  Move the couches and set up your camping tents and lawn chairs for a campout in your home! These adorable kids camping chairs are the perfect way to gather around in a circle to tell ghost stories, share a pizza or play games like 20 questions or Truth or Dare.  You could also play musical chairs, duck duck goose and other fun games that don’t require a lot of space.  These pop up tents are a great alternative to a real camping tent. When you’re ready to lay down, pull out those sleeping bags and “campout” in the living room!  The FREE Relax Melodies app on Android or iTunes can play nature sounds to help create the mood.

*Game Night

Make some soup and pull out those board games for a family game night!  Have each member of your family choose their favorite game, then play one round of each game. Another fun idea to add to game night is prizes! Create fun little goodie bags filled with inexpensive treats and candy (like these packs of party favors!) and let each winner pick their own.  You can also create your own games – kids are amazingly creative when it comes to making up games of their own!

*Retro Movie Marathon

Kids can watch the same movies over and over again.  Why not introduce them to your favorite movies from your childhood with a retro movie marathon?  There are awesome movie compilations from the 80s starting at only $10 for eight movies. Load up The Goonies, E.T., The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Secret of Nimh are some great starters.  Pop some popcorn, lay down pillows and blankets and crank up the A/C for a fun and lazy day of nostalgia and relaxation.

*Indoor obstacle course

An indoor obstacle course may not be feasible for some families, but you don’t need a lot of space to get creative!  Use hallways, furniture and even the bathtub to create a course inside your home.  Set up stuffed animals, toys and dolls as the cheering crowd.  Lay down a Twister game mat and have each child jump from one color to the next.  If you have a long hallway, put on socks and see how far you can slide before you stop.  Use pillows as stepping stones, a jump rope for a finish line, pots and pans instead of traffic cones, and old cardboard boxes as tunnels.  Get creative with the things you have around your home!

*Crafts & art projects

Whip out those crayons, construction paper, glitter and stickers!  Crafts and art projects can keep kids entertained for hours.  Ask them to create a greeting card of their own for grandma and grandpa.  Buy Craft Kits appropriate for their ages.  Let them design clever door hangers or signs for their bedroom doors.  You can find tons of great kid crafting ideas online, or come up with your own creative ideas for super cheap!

*Cook or bake

If your kids are budding chefs and bakers, why not have a fun day in the kitchen together. Not only will they learn about cooking and baking, the time spent together will create last memories for them.  Plus, they can be creative and feel accomplished once they’ve completed their meals!  Consider planning an entire dinner – with appetizers, salad, main course and dessert.  Let the kids pick what they want to cook, grab the ingredients and start cooking together.  This is a great opportunity to let them feel proud of what they’ve done when it’s all set out on a table (time for the fancy china!?) and they see their amazing meals ready for the family!

*Throw a party

You don’t need a holiday or birthday to throw a party.  Call it a “Family Winter Party” or make up a fun name that fits your family.  Cook foods everyone loves, and create a self-serve table filled with their favorite goodies.  Use paper plates to eliminate dishes (who wants to do dishes when there is a party going on!?).  Stop by Five Below or Party City for decorations, a piñata, and more inspiration for your party.  Turn on Pandora and let loose with dancing to really kick it up a notch!

What are your favorite family indoor activities?

Thrifty Tips

September Deals: What to Expect to Find on Sale
Meal Solutions for Turning Leftovers Into New Meals
Choosing Quality Fruits and Vegetables at the Grocery Store
What Foods Can You Freeze? Save Time & Money
Top 10 What to Buy During End of Summer Sales
80 Non-Toxic DIY Cleaners
10 Uses for Muffin Pans
10 Items Worth Buying at the Dollar Store
Signature Mini Meals + 21 Meal Suggestions

+ More!

 

Chipotle’s Guacamole Recipe~ Perfect For Game Day!

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Saturday, October 21st, 2017 at 3:40 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

chipotle guacamoleHere is a no-fail recipe to chow down on while watching your favorite team! And you will never go back to pre-made guac once you try this:

Ingredients:

2 ripe Hass avocados
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)
1/2 jalapeño, including seeds (finely chopped)
1/4 tsp kosher salt

How to make it:

1. Choose the right avocado. It should feel squishy yet firm (like the palm of your hand), and be a nice dark green color on the inside.
2. Cut the avocado in half and the remove the pit (carefully!)
3. Scoop the avocados and place in a medium bowl.
4. Toss and coat with lime juice.
5. Add the salt and using a fork or potato masher, mash until a smooth consistency is achieved.
6. Fold in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
7. Taste the guacamole (over and over) and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Thanks, Chipolte!

DIY Fall Centerpieces

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Thursday, October 19th, 2017 at 2:40 PM
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the Full Disclosures!

Looking to get into the “fall spirit”?  Here our some tips on DIY Fall Centerpieces…

Beginning to decorate for fall is one of those warm and fuzzy moments. The rich colors, the cool and crisp weather, and all of the many, many pumpkin-flavored things that are no longer just an afterthought but front and center in your mind—just like your centerpieces. Fall time welcomes entertaining and lots of it. Now, we know you have a few recipes that are to-die-for, so why not create a centerpiece that’s just as fun for you and your guests?

Here are some of the best ways to create a breathtaking fall centerpiece.

Choose your Centerpieces

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 1.10.16 PMvia Pinterest

Set the Scene

Creating a centerpiece can be over and underwhelming. Sometimes it’s too sparse and bare looking, and other times it looks more like an overdone window display than a thoughtful finishing touch on the dinner table. A great way to begin is by setting the scene with a complementary yet neutral tablecloth or runner that will anchor your decorations. Unless you are using your décor in place of a tablecloth, then we suggest you use something like a wide and open-mouthed basket or tray to keep things contained. Nobody wants foliage in their dessert…

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 1.13.09 PMvia Pinterest

Pick a Palette

It goes without saying that the classic fall palette is a pleasing monochromatic color scheme of deep red, orange, and gold. However, don’t be afraid to shake things up and go with something different. Play around with soft and toned-down hues of pale, powdery blues, grey, or even deep purple and green to give it a natural, earthy feel that is still warm and inviting. You want your display to be pleasantly surprising and not, er, alarming.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 1.15.50 PMvia Pinterest

Add the Finishing Touches

Once you’ve arranged everything out on the table, you’ll most likely see a few gaps that you could leave empty or fill with a few extra pieces. Leaving the blank space will offer a more minimal look, and if you don’t have a lot of table space it’s probably a good idea for when you are serving food. However, if you do have enough space, that gives you some room to play, decor wise! Use candles with a pop of color that will both add a nice aesthetic element and some warmth once you light them. Or grab something like a wooden or brass piece to give it texture and character. Don’t be frustrated if at first it doesn’t work- just keep at it!