Recipe: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


These soft, spicy cookies are a delicious twist to a favorite holiday treat.


Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Makes: About 3 dozen
Make ahead: Needs to chill for 1 hour.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
2 pkgs. {3 1/2 oz.} cook-and-serve
     butterscotch pudding mix
2 tsp. ground ginger {or to taste}
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 recipe Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting {below}

Directions:




1.  In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.





2.  Beat in eggs.






3.  Combine the flour, pudding mixes, ginger, baking powder and cinnamon and gradually add it to the creamed mixture and mix well.


4.  Put the dough on top of a large piece of plastic wrap and gently push into the shape of a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.






5.  On a lightly floured surface , roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness.  Cut with lightly floured cookie cutters.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.  Note: for a soft cookie, cook until middle is set but not completely firm.  Remove to wire racks to cool.



Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2-3 tsp. lemon juice {to taste}
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1.  In a bowl combine cream cheese, butter and lemon juice.  Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until light and fluffy. 

2.  Gradually add 1 cup of powdered sugar, beating well.  Gradually beat in 1 1/4 cups additional powdered sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency.  If needed, add more powdered sugar or milk in small amounts to get the correct consistency.  It should be a little thinner than what you would use to frost a cake.


3.  Decorate.  If you don't have the decorating bags and tips, you can use a freezer or storage bag.  After you put the frosting in the bag and close it, snip off one of the corners.





For more gingerbread inspired ideas, visit Cozy Home Scenes' Gingerbread Link Party

Create With Kids: Make Your Own Bottle Top Stamps



On the first day of Thanksgiving break after getting the boys ready for the day {approx. 8 a.m.}, I heard my oldest son ask,

"What are we going to do next?"

With a long list of things to do for Thanksgiving, I knew it was time to open our arts and crafts box and look for creative ways to keep their little hands busy.  I love this bottle top stamp idea that I found on Pinterest.  It was the perfect project to do--quick, easy, fun and frugal! 

What you need:



Bottle tops.  The tops from the flavored water and orange juice bottles were just the right size.



Foam shape stickers.  Check your local dollar store for these stickers.  I found many of these stickers at our local Dollar Tree.  Letter and number shapes would be perfect for teaching letters, spelling, numbers and math.


Stick the foam stickers to the bottle tops to create your stamps:


Ink pad or paint.  If you use paint, be sure to cover your surface with newspaper.


That's all there is to it!  A perfect project for a rainy day or when you hear your children ask, "what can we do?"


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Meal Plan Monday Nov. 28

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  The turkey miraculously was not overcooked, we had the best Green Bean Casserole I have ever tasted, had a great visit with family, and made a Thanksgiving snowman.  And then after everyone had left, I realized the Jell-O salad was still in the refrigerator where I had left it that morning!

We've got plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers to use up this week and my husband has been hinting that he's been craving a little more red meat in his diet so here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week:

Breakfast
Cereal
Waffles
Toast, Bananas
Chocolate Coconut Pancakes - This sounds more like a dessert than breakfast, but I love trying trying new things in the kitchen and can't wait to try this recipe!

Lunch
Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Apple Slices
Turkey Cranberry Sandwiches
Mac & Cheese, Peas
Chicken Nuggets, Carrot Sticks
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:  
    Pufferbelly Pot Pie {with leftover turkey}, Applesauce

Tuesday:
    Baked ChickenLoaded Mashed Potato Casserole {leftover mashed potatoes}, Carrots

Wednesday:
    Barbecue Chicken, Ranch Style Beans, Corn

Thursday:  
    Cranberry Meatballs, Salad, Biscuits

Friday:
    Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup {we've got a busy night with Christmas play practice}

Saturday:
    Leftover Night {Christmas play!}

Sunday:
    Build Your Own Haystacks


    
$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at  Menu Plan Monday

Meet My New BFF!

Back in the day when I was a single, childless, twenty-something with a carefree, I've-got-my-whole-life-in-front-of-me attitude, I remember hearing moms share all kinds of horror stories about their children.  Like the stories about the mini-artists finding markers and creating wonderful artwork on the walls.  And I thought to myself,

"Why don't they just put the markers up where the kids can't get them?"  So simple.

That plan worked well for me until recently.  What I failed to consider is that my baby was now a much taller and stronger 5 year old who could effortlessly move a dining room chair and strategically place it right in front of the scissors, markers and odds-and-ends bucket.

What I saw next made my heart stop:



Permanent black marker on the off white trim.  Oh, yes.  As I sat down, counted to 100 and had a lecture discussion with my son about only writing on paper, visions of sanding, priming and painting were going through my head. 

And then I remembered the Mr. Clean coupon and headed to the store to find out if those Magic Erasers really are magic.





Here are the results:






Not a trace of black marker!  And just like that Mr. Clean became my new BFF.








Have you ever met Mr. Clean?

Friday's Fabulous Frugal Finds Nov. 19 - Nov. 25

There are always great deals and coupons around the holidays!  Here are the deals I found at Walmart, Save-a-Lot and Hannaford this week:













Walmart:

Reach Floss Price: $.97
  -$1.00 off 1 from 7/31 SS {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: Better than FREE!

Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce Price: $1.16
  -$1.00 off 1 printable coupon {no longer available}
Final Price: $.16

Whiskas Cat Food Trays Rollback Price: $.49
  -Buy two, get one FREE from 11/6 RP {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $.33 each wyb 3

Cains Relish Price: $.92
  -$.55 off 1 from 11/6 JOH {exp. 1/31/12}
Final Price: $.37

Swanson Chicken Broth Price: $.50
  -$.50 off 5 from 11/6 SS {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $.40 each wyb 5

Green Giant Corn Price: $.68
  -$1.00 off 4 from 11/13 GM {exp. 1/7/12}
Final Price: $.43 each wyb 4

Blistex Lip Balm Price: $.98
  -$1.00 off 2 from 11/13 SS {exp. 1/31/12}
Final Price: $.49 each wyb 2

Heinz Ketchup 20 oz. Price: $1.78
  -$1.00 off 1 printable coupon {no longer available}
Price: $.78

Crest Kids Toothbrush Price: $1.84
  -$1.00 off 1 10/31 P&G {exp. 11/30/11}
Final Price: $.84

Sargento Cheese Price: $2.54
  -$.75 off 1 Catalina coupon from Hannaford
Final Price: $1.79

Save-a-Lot:

Baby Carrots 1 lb. Price: $1.00

Coburn Farm Cream Cheese Price: $1.00


Bacon Price: $1.99


Butter 1 lb. Price: $1.99















Hannaford:

Dole Pineapple 20 oz. Price: $1.39
  -FREE Dole Pineapple w/$15 purchase printable coupon {no longer available}
Final Price: FREE

Nature's Place Organic Yogurt Price: $.69
  --FREE Nature's Place Yogurt w/$10 purchase printable coupon {no longer available}
Final Price: FREE

Jello Pudding Price: $.99
  -FREE Jello Pudding Mix w/$15 purchase printable coupon {exp. 11/29/11}
Final Price: FREE

Pillsbury Brownie Mix Price: $1.29
  -$1.00 off 1 printable coupon {no longer available}
Final Price: $.29

Hood Sour Cream 16 oz. Price: $1.99
  -$1.00 off 1 from 11/20 SS {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $.99

Oakhurst Egg Nog 1 qt. Price: $2.49
  -$2.00 off 2 Oakhurst products from 11/20 SS {exp. 1/31/12}
Final Price: $1.49 each wyb 2

I Am Thankful For...


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Recipe: Cream Cheese Braid with Almond Glaze



This bread takes a little extra time to make, but it is definitely well worth the effort!  The creamy, moist center makes this bread extra-special and is a perfect treat for the holidays.

Cream Cheese Braid

Makes 3 loaves {can be frozen}.  Make ahead: needs to chill overnight.

Note: If your family isn't a fan of pineapple, chopped, canned pears can be
substituted for the pineapple.

4 cups flour
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 8-oz. carton sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 recipe Almond Glaze {below}
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions




1.  In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of flour and the yeast.







2.  In a medium saucepan, cook and stir sour cream, water, butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt over medium-low heat just until warm {120-130 degrees}.






3.  Add warm mixture and 2 whole eggs to flour mixture; stir until well combined.  Stir in remaining flour. Cover tightly and chill overnight.







4.  For filling, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Stir in pineapple; set aside.






5.  Divide dough into three portions.  On a well-floured surface, roll one dough portion to a 12x9-inch rectangle {keep remaining dough chilled until ready to use}.  Grease two large baking sheets; set aside.






6.  Spread a scant 2/3 cup cream cheese filling on rolled dough to within 1/2 inch of edges.









7.  Roll up, starting with a long side.  Seal seam and place seam-side down on baking sheet.







8.  Cut slits 2 inches apart and half way through loaf.  Repeat with remaining dough and gilling.  Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled {45 to 60 minutes}.  Bake in a 375 degree oven about 20 minutes or until golden.  Cool on wire racks.  While warm drizzle with Almond Glaze and sprinkle with almonds.




Almond Glaze


In medium bowl mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/2 - 1 teaspoon almond extract {to taste}.  Stir in additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time until drizzling consistency.

Note: If you don't have almond extract on hand, replace almond extract with 1 teaspoon of vanilla for Vanilla Glaze.




Put glaze in a ziploc bag, close bag and cut a hole in one of the corners.  Drizzle over warm bread.





To freeze: Prepare and bake as directed; do not glaze.  Wrap in foil and place in freezer bags.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  To serve, place on baking sheet; bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.  Drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with nuts.


Source: BHG Hometown Cooking Magazine, Dec. 1999

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Meal Plan Monday Nov. 21

I mentioned last week that I was going to try the Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls recipe.  It was with great satisfaction that I served homemade crescent rolls at dinner for the first time last week and listened while my family asked for seconds. :)

With my new-found confidence in baking with yeast, I'm going to make Cream Cheese Braids to serve with our Thanksgiving meal.  This is a lot different from traditional rolls, but I thought this bread that is made with pineapple, cream cheese and sour cream would add a special touch to our meal.  If all goes well, I hope to share the recipe this week.

I've tried to keep my meal plan fairly simple this week so that I don't get too overwhelmed with the extra baking for Thanksgiving.  Here's what's cooking in my kitchen:

Breakfast
Cereal
Waffles
Baked Banana Oatmeal

Lunch
Cheese Quesadillas, Tomato Soup
Ham Sandwiches, Apple Slices
Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Yogurt
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:  
     Vegetable Fried Rice, Applesauce, leftover Sweet Potato Rolls from last week

Tuesday:
     Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken, Carrots

Wednesday:
     Ham & Cheese Rollups, Peas

Thursday:  Happy Thanksgiving!
     Turkey & Gravy
     Green Bean Casserole
     Corn Casserole
     Cranberry, Ginger, Pear Sauce
     Jello Salad
     Mashed Potato
     Squash
     Peas
     Cream Cheese Braid
     Blueberry Pie
     Pumpkin Pie

Friday:
     Turkey Tetrazzini - My favorite way to use up leftover turkey!

Saturday:
     Leftover Night

Sunday:
     Grilled Bacon & Tomato Sandwiches


$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at  Menu Plan Monday

Friday's Fabulous Frugal Finds Nov. 12 - Nov. 18

Just a few deals this week:














Walmart:

Always Liners 20 ct. Price: $.93
  -$1.00 off 1 Always product from P&G Mailer
Final Price: Better than FREE

Tide Single Load Price: $.97
  -$1.00 off 1 any Tide from P&G Mailer
Final Price: Better than FREE

Swanson Chicken Broth Price: $.50
  -$.50 off 5 from 11/6 SS {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $.40 each wyb 5

Zone Perfect Bar Price: $.96 {not shown}
  -$.55 off 1 from 11/6 SS {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $.41

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser 2 ct. Price: $1.97
  -$1.00 off 1 Mr. Clean Product from P&G Mailer
Final Price: $.97

Hannaford:

Dole Pineapple 20 oz. 
  -FREE Dole Pineapple w/$15 Purchase printable coupon {exp. 11/20/11}
Final Price: FREE

Nature's Place Yogurt Cup 6 oz. Price: $.69
  -FREE Nature's Place Yogurt w/$10 purchase printable coupon {no longer available}
Final Price: FREE

Pillsbury Brownie Mix Price: $1.29
  -$1.00 off 1 printable coupon {exp. 11/20/11}
Final Price: $.29

Recipe: Foolproof Pie Crust

After a horribly embarrassing moment at a family Thanksgiving when my apple pie crust turned out a little too crunchy {ok....it was very crunchy}, I gave in and bought my first packaged pie crust.  I remember the moment well...I looked around to make sure no one was looking, quickly snatched it up and hid it under the cereal. 

The next year, I took my pumpkin pie with the ready-made pie crust to the family Thanksgiving dinner and confessed to my mom what I had done.  She looked at the pie with wide eyes and said, "you did?" 

I noticed this recipe from a fundraising cookbook from my alma mater, but was a little hesitant to try it.  It's a little scary to try something that's called "foolproof" when you know there is a good chance that you could prove that name wrong.  Throwing caution to the wind, I recruited some help and got to work. 

Foolproof Pie Crust

Makes one double-crust and one single-crust pie.

4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
1 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Directions




1.  Mix flour, sugar and salt together.  My son is helping me mix the ingredients with his "smile spoon".







2.  Mix in shortening until crumbly.







3.  In a separate dish wisk vinegar, egg and water.  I used cider vinegar as that is what I had on hand.  Combine the vinegar mixture with the dry ingredients and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes or until ready to use up to one week.  Can also be frozen.




The results:



A delicious blueberry pie...but I'll save that recipe for another time.


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Season of Giving: Operation Christmas Child


One of the ways our family likes to give during the holidays is to pack a shoebox {or two} for Operation Christmas Child.  OCC sends these shoeboxes to children around the world. 

Giving is as easy as 1-2-3:





1.  Use a standard size shoebox or plastic container {$.99 at Walmart} and purchase items to put into the shoebox.









2.  Wrap the boxes and pack with items.








3.  Print a label and attach it to the shoebox.  Place your $7 donation into the shoebox {this helps with shipping costs}.  If you make your donation online, you can follow your shoebox.  You will get an e-mail telling you the destination of your shoebox!  Find a drop off location nearest you or mail it to Samaritan's Purse, 801 Bamboo Rd., Boone, NC 28607. 




For more information visit Samaritan's Purse.  You will also find more information and frugal ways to pack a shoebox at Clip With Purpose.  

Meal Plan Monday Nov. 14

We tried the Bloomin' Onion Bread last week and it was all I hoped it would be.  I used what I had on hand {yellow onions and shredded cheese} and added a pinch of garlic powder. 

Since I couldn't bring myself to pour a whole stick of butter over the bread, I used half of what the recipe called for.  It still tasted wonderful and satisfied my craving for the real thing.

This week I'm going to try Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls for the first time.  Yeast and I do not have a very friendly relationship; I usually avoid it at all costs.  My family loves sweet potatoes and they're on sale this week, so it seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe.  While I'm keeping my hopes up, I'm also preparing for a total disaster.  I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week:

Breakfast
Cereal
Bananas
Oatmeal
Glazed Cinnamon Scones - Warning: these are very addicting

Lunch
Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Yogurt
Cheese Quesadillas, Carrots
Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup
Tuna Salad
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:  
     Meatless Lasagna Casserole, salad, garlic bread

Tuesday:
     Melt In Your Mouth Meatloaf, peas, mashed potato

Wednesday:
     Chicken Fettucini Alfredo, sweet potato {on sale for $.49/lb. this week!!}

Thursday:
     Sweet & Sour Chicken, rice


Friday:
     Spaghetti, Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Saturday:
     Baked Chicken, corn, salad
Sunday:
     Leftover Night


$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at  Menu Plan Monday

Friday's Fabulous Frugal Finds Nov. 5 - Nov. 11

a
Here are my favorite finds from this past week:













Walmart:

Kid's Crest Toothpaste Price: $1.00
  -$1.00 off 1 from 10/30 P&G {exp. 11/30/11}
Final Price: FREE

Idahoan Potatoes Price: $.98
  -FREE Idahoan Potatoes from 11/4 JOH newspaper insert
Final Price: FREE

Studio G Glitter Glue Clearance Price: $.24 {in the Halloween clearance section}

Nestle Hot Chocolate Price: $1.00
  -$.55 off 1 printable coupon
Final Price: $.45

Rumford Baking Soda 4 oz. Price: $.98
  -$.50 off 1 printable coupon
Final Price: $.48

Kikkoman Sweet & Sour Sauce Price: $1.78
  -$1.00 off 1 printable coupon
Final Price: $.78

Kid's Crest Toothbrush Price: $1.84
  -$1.00 off 1 from 10/30 P&G {exp. 11/30/11}
Final Price: $.84

Borden Single Sensations Cheese Price: $1.98
  -$1.00 off 1 from Nov. All You magazine {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $.98

Save-a-Lot:

Russet Potatoes 10 lb. Price: $2.99 {not shown}

Domino Sugar 4 lb. Price: $2.39
  -$.50 off 1 from 10/16 RP {exp. 12/31/11}
Final Price: $1.89


I made a separate trip to Hannaford to pick up a few freebies:











Thanks to Money Saving Maine-iac for sharing these Hannaford coupons!

Hershey's Baking Bar Price: $1.99
  -FREE Hershey's Baking Bar w/$15 purchase {exp. 11/13/11}
Final Price: FREE

Hannaford Marshmallows Price: $1.09
  -FREE my essentials Marshmallows w/$25 purchase {exp. 11/14/11}
Final Price: FREE

*I just noticed that the marshmallows that I picked up at my local store are the Hannaford brand instead of the my essentials brand.  The cashier still gave me credit for the coupon.


And found these deals at the local paper craft store:



Paper $.20 ea. {Reg. $.99--80% off clearance!}
Clear Stamp: FREE w/purchase






What were your favorite finds this week?

A Homemade Christmas: Moisturizing Lemon Hand Scrub


This lemon-scented hand scrub makes a wonderful Christmas gift for teachers, family and friends.


Moisturizing Lemon Hand Scrub

Makes 1 pint.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
zest of 1 extra large lemon {or other citrus}
1 cup of olive oil
1/4 tsp. pure lemon extract, optional

you will also need:

glass jars
ribbon
hole punch
decorative paper
ink pad
letter stamps or stickers


Directions




1.  Combine sugar and salt in a bowl and add lemon zest. 








2.  Add 1 cup of olive oil and mix well.  For a stronger fragrance, add lemon extract.








3.  Spoon hand scrub into glass jars and add ribbon and tag!






Notes: I used old candle jars for this project.  The small candle jars from the Mainstays candles at Walmart work perfectly {recipe makes about 4 or 5 small jars}.  The candles are inexpensive at just $1.00 and the labels peel right off--no need to spend extra time scrubbing sticky labels off.  To get the last bit of candle wax out of the container, set the jar in warm water until softened.  Other citrus fruit can be substituted for the lemon--I'm thinking about experimenting with grapefruit.

You may also be able to find inexpensive jars or containers at the dollar store.

 Thanks to Good Life Eats for this fun and easy gift idea! 

Recipe: Grasshopper Brownies



I can't remember where I found the recipe for these fudgy mint brownies, but I can tell you that we'll never eat plain old brownies again!


Grasshopper Brownies



1 box brownie mix
2 eggs, or as many as needed for mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil, or as many as needed for mix
1 cup chopped mint candy {I used Andes baking chips}
1/2 cup chopped chocolate sandwich cookies {I used mini Oreos}



Directions

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on box.




1.  Prepare mix according to package directions.  Stir in 1/2 cup of  candy into the batter.







2.  Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Transfer batter to the baking dish and sprinkle remaining candy on top.






3.  Chop cookies and sprinkle over top.  Lightly press cookies into batter and bake according to package directions, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before cutting.




Note:  Putting the brownies in the refrigerator before cutting will help firm them up and make them easier to cut.


Find frugal recipes at Frugal Wannabe Cooks and At Home With Haley