Category Archives: Recipes

Homemade Gourmet Chocolate

gourmet choc

Chocolate covered pretzels and marshmallows are always a big hit. By using different colors and toppings, these made a great take-home treat for my son’s birthday party! Not to mention that it was so much cheaper than buying party favor toys (which never seem to work or break easily) or having the bags of candy made at the bakery. Even buying just one chocolate covered pretzel stick at the grocery store is $1. Each goodie bag cost less than $0.40! Get creative with the colors and toppings and these can be delicious treats for birthdays, showers, or holiday parties!

So easy to make. Just melt the chocolate in the microwave, half power, in 30 second increments. Make sure you stir it between each 30 second heating stint to keep it melting equally throughout. If you don’t stir it each 30 seconds, it may get too hot on the edges and not be melted at all in the middle. You could also use a double boiler if you have one, but if you don’t, no worries… the microwave works just fine!

Once your chocolate is melted, dip your pretzels or marshmallows in the chocolate, let the excess drip off. Place on wax paper. Sprinkle with any decorative topping you want: sprinkles, chopped nuts, crushed candy… You can also use a contrasting color of chocolate to drizzle across the top. Just dip a fork into the chocolate and gently move it back and forth over the top. So many ways to decorate!

eMeals Launches New Dessert Plan

What is eMeals? from eMeals on Vimeo.

eMeals is launching their new dessert plan! Get inspired each week to make incredible desserts. With mouth-watering recipes like Chocolate Pretzel Slab Pie, Buttery Toasted Vanilla Clusters or Crunchy Streusel Pumpkin Loaf, this plan is perfect for the dessert lover in all of us. Receive 3 indulgent dessert ideas every week including a mix of Crowd Pleasers, Quick & Easy options, and Skinny Sweets. This variety of sweet endings will fit the bill for weeknight desserts, casual entertaining and even healthy treats.

eMeals, the leader in online meal planning, is a comprehensive meal planning resource that helps provide healthy and delicious dinners for busy families and individuals. Endorsed by financial guru Dave Ramsey and highlighted in the Oprah Winfrey blog, the eMeals weekly dinner plans include grocery shopping lists and recipe instructions that are simple and easy to follow.

So what does this mean for you, you ask? eMeals can help you save money at the grocery store by generating lists for you based on the meal plan for the week… follow the list and you won’t overspend on impulse buys!

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Cake Pop Christmas Tree

Cake Pop Christmas Tree | Money Savvy Living

 

Are you looking for a centerpiece that is more than just pretty… look no further! This Christmas cake pop tree would make a great centerpiece for your holiday table. Not only is it festive for a holiday celebration, but the cake pops are sure to be a big hit too. And by the way, you can make it for less than $10 ($4 for the actual cake pops and about $6 for the Styrofoam display)! The recipe I use makes approximately 36 cake pops, so when you think about how much it would cost to buy 3 dozen cake pops at $1.50 per pop… well, you can see that you are make this for only a fraction of what it would cost to buy it ready-made.

 

Making the Cake Pops
There is no perfect science to making these, unless you buy a kit. I just made a spice cake, cooled it, and crumbled it up finely into a large mixing bowl. This is where you just kind of need to add spoonful by spoonful until you get to the right consistency. I ended up adding about 1/2 of a 16 oz. container of icing. Don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands and mix it. You know it is ready when it can be rolled into cake balls about 1″ and they keep their form without falling apart.

 

Christmas Cake Pops | Money Savvy Living

 

Next you will put the sticks in for the cake pops. To do this, melt a small amount of chocolate wafers. You will dip the stick in the melted chocolate about 1/2 in then put into the cake ball. After these are all in, put in refrigerator to solidify the sticks so they hold.

 

Christmas Cake Pops | Money Savvy Living

 

After the chocolate has dried on the sticks and they are solidly in place, melt more chocolate wafers in a bowl. I melt them in the microwave at 50% power, in 30 second increments. Of course, you can use a double broiler as well. Just use whatever colors and flavors you want. Dip the pop in, swirl around until coated on all sides, let the excess drip off and then poke into a large piece of floral foam for the chocolate coating to dry. If you are going to decorate with sprinkles, nuts or any other candy crumbles, you will need to do this immediately because the chocolate will dry very quickly once on the cake pop.

 

Christmas Cake Pops | Money Savvy Living

 

Presentation is Everything!
I like to wrap each cake pop in it’s own individual candy bag and close it with a twist-tie or ribbon. From here, you can poke them into a decorated foam stand, lay them on a plate or pedestal, or whatever creative way you can think of!

For the Christmas Tree look:

  • I made a special cake pop for the star on top… just covered in white chocolate and then covered with yellow/gold sprinkles.
  • Each ornament cake pop is covered with different sprinkles and multi-colored tie twisties.
  • Spray paint a foam craft cone and glue it to a small cardboard cake plate.
  • Decorate with greenery, poinsettias, ribbons, berries…
fun, festive, and delicious!

fun, festive, and delicious!

Cookie Pops!

Cookie Pops | Money Savvy Living

 

Instead of making cookies for your child’s next birthday party or school party, add a fun twist with cookie pops.

All you have to do is:

  • make your favorite sugar cookie recipe
  • roll dough into 1 inch balls
  • insert a new popsicle stick (or cookie stick) in middle of ball
  • flatten slightly when you place on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. Let sit on baking sheet for 1 minute before removing (otherwise the cookie will lose shape and the stick may fall out).

Let cool, frost, and decorate as desired.

I made these for my son’s birthday treat at school and the kids loved them… what a fun way to make a regular cookie new and exciting! It’s a pretty good deal when you consider this fun, homemade treat can be made for less than $0.10 each!  Very money savvy!

 

* Baking Tip: Soak popsicle stick or cookie stick in water before baking.  This will keep the stick from discoloring or burning.

Meal planning: Creating new meals using leftovers

Stuffed peppers are a delicious, complete meal without any side dishes.

Stuffed peppers are a delicious, complete meal without any side dishes.

Stuffed peppers are a great dinner for any money savvy meal because it is an all-in-one kind of dish: meat, vegetables, and rice. I buy the ground beef when it is on sale and freeze it; then I always have some in my freezer to use when I need it. This is also a meal that I would plan on making when the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are on sale (or fresh from my own garden– which costs next to nothing!), otherwise, they can be pretty expensive. Green peppers can also be more more affordable alternative, but I find these a little less sweet than the red, yellow, or orange.

STUFFED PEPPERS

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS
5 large bell peppers
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 onion
2-3 baby protabella mushrooms (optional)
1 large can chopped tomoatoes
1/2 c cooked rice
shredded cheese, colby jack
salt, pepper, Nature’s Seasoning or Seasoned Salt to taste

Clean peppers, removing seeds and cut approximately 1/2 inch off the top (to saute with onion). Brown ground beef. (I cook 1 lb of ground beef and set aside the other 1/2 lb for the next meal). Add onion, pepper pieces, and finely chopped muchrooms in with beef and finish cooking. Add crushed tomatoes, along with additional seasonings. Add cooked rice and stir together. Fill bell peppers with beef and rice mixture, top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45-60 minutes.

The next day, you can use the leftover peppers (along with the 1/2 lb ground beef, which we set aside) to make a whole new meal.

Put remaining ground beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms in pan. Cut up leftover stuffed peppers and add to pan. All of these ingredients go perfectly with our next-day meal plan: Enchiladas! The ingredients that I used to make my stuffed peppers ALL are items that I would use for enchiladas. Now all I have to do is heat theses items up, add some enchilada sauce (about 1/3 of the can) and shredded cheese for the filling.

ENCHILADAS

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Enchiladas make a great stuffed peppers leftover meal remake.

Enchiladas make a great stuffed peppers leftover meal remake.

INGREDIENTS:
leftover stuffed peppers, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef (reserved from previous meal prep)
New items: 1 can mild, red enchilada sauce, 5 flour tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream

*In order to make this meal, it only costs about $3-4 for the additional ingredients! Think about that: you will be saving money by not wasting leftovers AND you are making a completely new meal for your family for less than $5!

Spoon filling into flour tortilla shells. Roll up and place in baking dish (sprayed with a non-stick spray). Once all enchiladas are filled and placed in baking dish, pour remaining red sauce over the top. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This is a quick, easy, inexpensive meal; and the best part is you will never know that you are eating leftovers!

Money savvy grocery shopping: Stick to your list

money savvy shopping

Grocery shopping is something that we all do. Such a basic task, it wouldn’t seem that much explanation is necessary, or even possible. However, there are two types of grocery shoppers: the Impluse Buyer and the Money Savvy Shopper.

The Impulse Buyer has no list, they buy whatever they see that looks good, has no coupons, has not looked at any weekly advertisements for sales, and has done no menu planning ahead of time. This type of shopper will walk out of the grocery store, with possibly hundreds of dollars of groceries, and get home and feel like they have nothing with which to make a meal. Don’t be this kind of shopper… and if this describes you, take heart, there are grocery shopping strategies that you can implement to save you lots of $$$ at the checkout.

Become a Money Savvy Shopper. This type of grocery shopper has a detailed list, buying ingredients to create planned meals. They have looked through weekly ads to know which stores to shop in that week and which items are on sale.

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping... and save money

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping… and save money

Some money savvy shopping strategies include:

Make a list— and stick to this list. Don’t buy a bunch of items that are not on your list. You will over-spend each visit you make to the grocery store when you stray from your list. I found a great shopping list on pinterest which plans out meals for a week and the corresponding grocery list. You might want to try something similar to this to kick-start organized grocery shopping.

Look at weekly store advertisements— Some things really don’t matter when you buy them, but some grocery items, such as meat, can be very expensive if they are not an advertised special. So when steak or roast are on sale, stock up. Buy a few extra to put in the freezer so that next time you want to cook a roast, you don’t overspend because they aren’t on sale that week.

Use coupons— clip only the coupons of products that you use (sounds obvious, right? But “saving” money on an item that you don’t normally use is actually costing you money!)… and then make sure you use them. File them in a wallet size expandable file by expiration date so that it is easy to see when they need to be used by.

Nutella Smores– no campfire necessary!

The idea for nutella smores comes from my niece, Ella, who loves to eat nutella on marshmallows. So why not take it one step further and make put a new twist on an old campfire classic? Only this time, no campfire is necessary. Nutella smores are absolutely delicious and give you all the flavors of a smore, but you don’t have to worry about burning marshmallows or melting the chocolate bar enough. Simply cover the bottom of a large marshmallow in nutella then add some crushed graham crackers… and voila!

Smearing a small amount of nutella on a marshmallow and using crushed graham crackers is also a great way to get a bite-sized smore, which not only cuts down on caloric intake, but also is a great way to conserve ingredients and really stretch your dollars!

Heart-Healthy, Crispy Chicken

Meke money savvy meals that are healthy and delicious too!

Make money savvy meals that are healthy and delicious too!

Cooking on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t make savory, delicious meals. Sometimes, you have to be willing to plan your meals around the weekly grocery store sales though. I bought thin-sliced chicken breast when they were on sale, so instead of paying over $5 for the package of chicken, I only paid $3.80. A package of thin-sliced chicken breast usually gives you six pieces of chicken, rather than three regular sized chicken breasts. I like using thin-sliced chicken or chicken tenderloins because they cook much quicker and it is also a good form of portion control. You can also create your own healthy version of your favorite foods.

Crispy, Baked ChickenOur family loves fried chicken, so this crispy, baked chicken is a perfect, healthy substitute.

Heart-Healthy, Crispy Chicken Recipe
(This recipe has been adapted from the Bisquick Ultimate Chicken Fingers recipe)
Crispy Chicken coating
6 thinly sliced chicken breasts
2/3 c. Bisquick mix
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. crushed corn flakes
salt and pepper to taste (I use Morton Seasoned Salt because it has other seasonings already in it)
steak seasoning to taste (Weber Chicago Steak seasoning is pretty much good on any meat!)
Egg Wash
1 egg
4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. honey mustard

Chicken in egg
Dip each piece of chicken in the egg wash.

Make sure both sides are drenched.

Crispy coating

Coat the chicken with your crispy coating mixture.

You will need to turn chicken several times to make sure it is thoroughly coated.

arrange in greased pan

Arrange in a glass pan, greased with olive oil. (Olive oil is a healthier alternative to using cooking spray)

Bake for 17-20 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn over halfway through bake time. Depending on how thinly sliced your chicken is, you may need to adjust bake time.

Add brussel sprouts and a sweet potato to this low-fat, heart-healthy chicken dish.

Add brussel sprouts and a sweet potato to this low-fat, heart-healthy chicken dish.


I bought two large sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts to go along with the chicken. Altogether, this meal for four cost less than $8! You can’t even buy fast food for a family of four that inexpensively!

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