Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pumpkin Toffee Triffle

So it feels like fall here with temperatures dipping, long sleeves coming out, and frost advisories are coming out for northern counties. Unreal. It's August.

But I do love fall and I love fall flavors. Apples, peaches, zucchini, pumpkin, etc. SO I'm pulling out one of my new favorite recipes. A neighbor brought this to a block party. It was so good I ate around the walnuts to get at the rest of it (I'm mildly allergic). The sores in my mouth were worth it. I made it for a church potluck and got to listen "anonymously" to people's rave reviews of the dessert.

Put it together at least a couple hours, if not a day before you need it so the flavors meld together. Perfect for the fall potluck, football party, Thanksgiving, etc.

1 Pumpkin cake mix, prepared & cooled
1 pkg White chocolate pudding, prepared
2 c milk (for pudding)
2 - 12 oz Whipped topping
1 bag Toffee bits
1 c chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

  1. Make your pumpkin cake and let it cool completely. cut it into 1 in cubes and set aside.
  2. Mix pudding and let it chill according to directions. Carefully fold in 1 tub of whipped topping. You can substitute vanilla pudding but you don't want to. The chocolate flavor adds so much to it.
  3. In your triffle dish or large glass bowl start layering.Place 1/3 of cake cubes, topped with 1/3 of pudding mixture, 1/3 of whipped topping, and 1/3 of toffee bits and nuts.
  4. Repeat with 2 more layers, being sure to keep enough toffee bits and nuts to sprinkle on the top.
  5. Refrigerate for 2 - 24 hours. Serve and enjoy, and enjoy, and enjoy.
Cake Mix $1 (Aldi's)
Pudding $.60 (Meijer)
Milk $.20 (Aldi's)
Whipped Topping $1.60 (Aldi's)
Toffee Bits $2.50 (Meijer)
Nuts $1.00 (Aldi's)

I love triffles. I love the texture and creaminess of it. If you can think of it, you can layer it. Imagine the flavors of your favorite candy bar or ice cream...
* make them in plastic cups for a kids party of school treat *
Mint Chocolate - Chocolate Cake, Andes mint chips, chocolate pudding
Brownie - 2 brownie mixes, chocolate or vanilla, & chocolate chips
Chocolate cake, butterscotch pudding, chocolate chips
Chocolate cake, pistachio pudding, chopped pistachios
Strawberry cake, white chocolate pudding & chips, strawberries

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cashew Chicken

SAUCE: mix in bowl and let sit until needed
1 c          Chicken broth
1 T          Corn starch
3 T          Soy sauce
½ t          Ginger
1 lb         Chicken, cubed
1 T          Oil
1 lg         Green pepper, chopped (or /Yellow/Red/Orange/Combo)
1 med    Onion, chopped
8 oz        Sliced water chestnuts
2/3 c       Roasted cashews or almonds

Brown chicken in oil at medium high heat in a large skillet. Add peppers, onion, and water chestnuts and fry for 3-4 additional minutes. Add cornstarch mixtures, cook and stirl 1 minute more or until sauce thickens and is bubbly. Stir in nuts and serve.
If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of broth or water. I do less onion and more multi-color peppers, and maybe splurge on a few extra cashews too).

TOTAL Cost: $6.00
Chicken $1.50 (Meijer)
Peppers $1.20 (Aldi's - for 2)
Onion $.30 (Meijer)
Chestnuts $1.00 (Meijer)
Cashews $1.00 (Aldi's)
Broth $.25 (Aldi's)
Rice $.75 (Aldi's)
Rest - from Stock/Pantry

Can substitute/add bean sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, nappa cabbage, celery, etc
Exchange cashews for almonds

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Egg Rolls

I've been on a quest to make better quality ethnic food at home. It's so expensive to eat out and not very healthy. One of my husbands favorite foods is egg rolls. I've tried some pretty bad recipes, so it was refreshing to find one that I could tweak and make it our own. It's worth it to double the recipe and freeze the extras. To reheat, 400 degree oven until crisp.

1/2 lb ground pork
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 T Black pepper
2-3 c Canola oil (for frying)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp water
3 c Cabbage, shredded
2/3 c Carrots, shredded
8-12 (7 inch square) egg roll wrappers
1 Tbsp sesame oil (optional)
  1. Season pork with ginger, pepper and garlic powder and mix thoroughly. Heat mixture in a medium skillet, stirring, until pork is finely chopped and cooked through and no longer pink. Set aside.

  2. In another large skillet heat oil to about 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) or medium high heat. While oil is heating, combine flour and water in a bowl until they form a paste. In a separate bowl combine the cabbage, carrots, sesame oil and reserved pork mixture. Mix all together.

  3. Lay out one egg roll skin with a corner pointed toward you. Place about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cabbage, carrot and pork mixture on egg roll paper and fold corner up over the mixture. Fold left and right corners toward the center and continue to roll. Brush a bit of the flour paste on the final corner to help seal the egg roll.

  4. Place egg rolls into heated oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels or rack. Serve warm.

Total Costs: $5.00
Ground pork $1.50 (Meijer)
Canola oil $1.00 (Aldi's)
Cabbage $1.00 (Meijer)
Carrots $.50 (Aldi's)
Egg roll wrappers $1.00 (Meijer)
Spices - From Stock

Add chopped shrimp
Ground Chicken
Vegetarian - add spices directly to cabbage mix

Friday, August 21, 2009

FRUGAL TIPS: Plant a Garden

Put a little effort and a little bit of money into planting a garden this spring and it's totally paying off. It would have paid off more if the deer and woodchuck would have left it alone. Next year I'll be investing in some fencing ;)

The yield of lettuce I got out of the garden more than paid for what I spent on the garden. My tomatoes are just about to ripen (if my 3-year-old will leave them on the plant long enough). The peppers are getting big, and I'll have more oregano than I'll know what to do with. My zucchini will keep me stock of my AMAZING ZUCCHINI BREAD for the rest of the year. I can't wait to taste the rest of the year's produce, fresh salsa, salads, and much more.

Next year will be even better with what I've learned. Now that I've seen how and when all the seasons play out for each, the amount of room they really need, etc. I can plant more efficiently and get more out of the space that I have.

I started several things from seeds to save money (green beans, lettuce, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, cilantro, nasturtium, carrots etc). Others are easier, and pretty innexpensive to start from plants (tomato, peppers, cucumbers, marigolds, watermelon, etc). A good weed barrier (old newspapers) helps as well as mulch (I like coco bean shells) to cut down on the amount of weeding and work. I'm building a compost pile from our kitchen scraps, use ash from our fires, and decaying leaves from the yard to enrich the soil. All easy and cheap ways to organically enrich the soil.

No room? When we rented while building our house, I did a container garden on the balcony. One container was salsa (cilantro, jalapenos, tomato) and the other was an Italian garden (peppers, rosemary, oregano, tomato).

Not sure what to do with herb. 1 tsp dried = 1 Tbsp Fresh. To dry fresh herbs to keep, hang them upside down in a paper bag until dried (3-5 days), throw them in a food processor or blender to chop them up. Keep them in the freezer to keep them fresh. This will save you TONS of money on herbs and they have far more flavor than store bought that have been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cheesy Potatoes

This is my sister-in-law's recipe that we enjoy at many family get togethers. Oh so healthy ;) but very yummy. Worth the calories.

1 1/2 bags Hasbrown potatoes (cubed not shredded)

2 cans Cream of Chicken soup

1 T Butter

16 oz Shredded cheddar cheese, reserve 1/2 to top hashbrowns

8 oz Sour cream

Distribute hash browns evenly in a 9x13 greased pan. Mix everything but the hash browns in a saucepan over med-high heat until all the ingredients melt together creating a sauce. Pour the sauce over the potatoes in the 9x13 pan and mix until potatoes are well coated with the cheese sauce.Pour the reserved cheese over the top of the potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.


(1/2 batch for 1/2 the cost - enough for a family of 4)

Hasbrowns $3 (Meijer)

Soup $1 (Aldi's)

Cheese $2 (Costco)

Sour Cream $.50 (Aldi's)


Add chunks of ham or chicken to make it a meal

Use 1 can Cream of Celery & 1 can Cream of Chicken soup

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Amazing (& Healthy) Zucchini Bread

I keep meaning to post this recipe, but we eat or I freeze the bread as fast as I can make it. I will hopefully have a picture up soon. This is one of my favorite recipes. I make a massive double or triple batch while I'm at it. I freeze a ton of the bread to eat through the year. Enjoy.

1 cup All-purpose flour
2 cups Wheat flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Baking powder
3 tsp Ground cinnamon
3 Eggs
½ cup Canola oil
½ cup Applesauce
1 ¼ cup White sugar
1 cup Brown sugar
3 tsp Vanilla extract
2 cups Zucchini, grated
2 tbs Milled flax seed (optional)

1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini.
4. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Makes 2 loaves

Can do all white flour
Oil and applesauce are interchangeable - can use all oil or all applesauce

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dressed Up Eggo

Leggo of the syrup for your eggo and try something new. This diddy was inspired by my youngest son and his new found love of cherries. Can't blame him, they were really good this year.

Toast up those completely unsatisfying/boring/convenient waffles (or make your own). Top with cream cheese topping, fruit, and a dusting of powdered sugar.

1 pkg Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 c Powdered Sugar
1/2 c Chopped Cherries, divided

Whip together cream cheese and sugar, add cherries and whip until incorporated. I like it with a little bit of chunks of cherries left in it. Layer waffle, mixture, cherries, waffle, mixture, cherries, and sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top. Enjoy.

Cream Cheese $1 (Aldi's)
Sugar $.15 (Aldi's)
Cherries $.40 (Meijer)
8 Waffles $1 (Meijer/Costco)

Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Strawberry

A waffle sandwich makes a great grab-n-go breakfast or snack on the run

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FRUGAL TIPS: Use Your Bread

If you want to save money, use what you have. We all know that, but let's face it. We've all thrown away the heel/crust of the bread, bread gone stale or moldy...

Here are a few thrifty ways to make the most of what you have, leftover that is.

  • Heel/Crust/Bread Butt (yes I have friends that use that term)

    Not a fan of of the little piece on the end. Kids won't touch it? Use it for grilled cheese. The crust part goes on the inside. With melted gooey cheese all over it, your kids will never know. Mine didn't at lunch today.
  • Stale Bread = Croutons

    Cut it into cubes, throw them in ziplock bag with a little olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder, parsley (or whatever herb you like) and shake-it-up. Spread on a sheet pan and bake at 250 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You want them to be completely dried out, but not shriveled and burned.

  • Leftover Buns = Garlic Toast Heaven

    Always seem to have a couple of hamburger or hot dog buns left over that sit there until I pitch them. What was I thinking? Use them for snacks, for grilled cheese, but my favorite is to use little guys are a side dish saver. Two words - garlic toast. This is a healthier option compared to store brands that the butter substitute used is layered 2 inches thick. Spread a little bit of butter, garlic powder, sea salt, and parsley and broil until lightly toasted. You can omit the garlic for a lighter flavor to serve with roast, ham, chicken, or just because.

  • Bread crumbs

    This is a usual recommendation and I almost didn't post it. Dried bread into the food processor/blender and wa-la... bread crumbs. I don't use them in great amounts, but if you do - crumb away. I just make them as I need them.
Any other ideas on how to make the most of your bread?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sally's Salad

This is my MIL's favorite salad. It's usually a battle between Kate, Tom, and I at family get togethers on the last helping of this salad. Easy to adapt to what you like and what is in season.


11 oz Mandarin orange segments, drained

2 Romaine hearts, washed and torn

2 Stalks celery, chopped

2 Green onions, thinly sliced


1/3 c Slivered Almonds

2 T Sugar


1/4 c Olive Oil

2 T Sugar

2 T Wine Vinegar

1 T Parsley

1/2 t Salt

Dash Pepper

Dash Tabasco

Put almonds and sugar in heavy saucepan. Stir until sugar melts and almonds are brown. Remove and put on a plate to cool. Break apart and scatter on salad. Toss all ingredients together. Add dressing just before serving.


Lettuce $1.35 (Meijer - less from my garden)

Oranges $.79 (Aldi's - Price est, can't remember)

Celery & Green Onions $.60 (Aldi's / Meijer)

Almonds $.50 (Meijer)

Others - From stock


Replace oranges with strawberries

Increase almonds for more crunch

Add chicken for a meal

Monday, August 3, 2009

Needed: Blueberry Muffin Recipe

I'm looking for a blueberry muffin recipe. I've tried a lot and they are good, just not stellar. Do you have a recipe that you love and want to share? I'll gladly do a bake off with the ideas provided.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Applesauce Cake

I've been in love with this cake from the first time my sister-in-law made it for a family party. One bite screams out comfort, fall, family. I love this anytime of the year not just because of the flavor, but it is easy to make because it's all items that I have on hand. I use my homemade applesauce with has cinnamon in it. May want to add a bit more if you are using plain. You'll love the way your house smells after baking this one. Think I'm gonna make cupcakes out of this so I can call them muffins and eat it for breakfast.

2 c Sugar

½ c Shortening (or coconut oil)

2 Eggs

2 ½ c Flour

1 ½ t Baking soda

1 ½ t Salt

¼ t Cloves

¾ t Cinnamon

½ t Allspice

1 ½ c Applesauce

½ c Water

1 c Raisins (optional - I omit)

½ c Chopped nuts (optional - I omit)

Cream sugar and shortening and add eggs. Add all other ingredients. Blend 30 seconds on low, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes on high. Pour into greased and floured 9 X 13 or layer pans. Bake at 350 for 60 – 65 min (9X13) or 50-55 min (layers). Spread with cream cheese frosting or sprinkle with granulated sugar on batter before baking for quick topping.

Pairs amazingly well with cream cheese frosting.

Total Costs: $2.80

Sugar $.75 (Aldi's)

Eggs $.20 (Meijer/Aldi's)

Shortening $.10 (Meijer)

Flour $.75

Applesauce $1.00 (I make my own)

Other - from stock

Made into muffins, these are great for grab-n-go breakfast or snack