Saturday, March 29, 2014

Healthy Berry Banana Smoothie

Ok, so this smoothie is so good, even my cat is addicted!  Lol.  I should inform you that Lolo loves yogurt.  Every time I eat it, she needs some.  So, when I make this smoothie, she really needs it.  (Please excuse my "unedited" morning face and pj's!)

The great thing about smoothies is that you can easily alter them to match your tastes.  Here are the ingredients that I used, but keep in mind that you can very easily change things out.  One suggestion I would make is to choose a yogurt that you like the flavor of.  Yogurt is a big part of the smoothie, so a flavored yogurt can go a long way in changing the taste.  I really love Publix Wild Berry Crumb Cake yogurt because it has a bit of berry flavor and some spice to it.  Yum!

Healthy Berry Banana Smoothie
Makes: one 16ish ounce smoothie

1 cup frozen berries (I used unsweetened strawberries)
1/2 - 1 frozen banana (depending on how strong of a banana flavor you like)
6 ounces yogurt (I love Publix Fat Free Light Wild Berry Crumb Cake)
1/2 cup your choice of milk (more if it's too thick)
1 tablespoon honey
Small handful of almonds

Add the ingredients to the blender in the order listed.  Then blend well until smooth.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Copycat Five Cheese Ziti from Olive Garden

Today's recipe could not be more of a win if it tried!  I found this recipe via Pinterest several months ago, and since then it has become a favorite staple in our house.

I love it for so many reasons!
  1. It really does taste almost exactly like Olive Garden's Five Cheese Ziti (my favorite)!
  2. It is so incredibly easy to make.
  3. It's almost better as leftovers (which I hardly ever say about ANYTHING).
  4. It's amazing.
  5. It's delicious.
  6. It's super easy.
  7. Did I mention it was easy to make?!
Seriously, if your family likes pasta, this is a MUST-TRY!

The mixture of sauces is incredibly creamy and the blend of cheeses make this dish rich and flavorful!  Oh so yum!  One of my main suggestions is to buy a sauce that you know has good flavor.  The sauce is one of the main ingredients in this meal, so if you buy tasteless sauce, it will definitely affect the pasta.  I absolutely love Prego Mushroom for the red sauce and Classico Light Asiago Romano for the alfredo.

Five Cheese Ziti
An Olive Garden Copycat Recipe
Adapted from: Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour
Servings: 6-8
*Optional:  I like to throw all the ingredients together in the morning and leave it in the fridge all day so that all of the flavors start to meld together.  This is not required, but a very delicious option.  Then, I just have to pop it in the oven when dinnertime rolls around.

1/2 pound penne pasta
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (I like Prego Mushroom.)
1 cup alfredo sauce (Our fave is Classico Light Asiago Romano.  It's got a lot less fat than the originals and it has a really nice flavor.)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

  1. Boil the pasta noodles as per the instructions on the box.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the sauces and cheeses in a large bowl.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, rinse and drain it a few times to cool it off a little.
  4. When it has been drained well, pour the pasta into the sauce/cheese mixture and stir until everything is mixed together.
  5. Pour into a glass pie dish or an oven-safe bowl (like a Pyrex).  
  6. *Optional: Cover and place in the fridge until ready to bake.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Cover pan with aluminum foil.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during the baking process.
  9. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Enjoy!!!  We absolutely love this meal, especially because Five Cheese Ziti is one of our favorite meals at Olive Garden.  I hope your family likes it too!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Blackberry Streusel Bars

These absolutely delicious treats are perfect for days when you want something sweet and tart but not too heavy.  They're a cute and yummy treat for any occasion!  And... you can make them any flavor you want just by using a different jam.  Strawberry, raspberry, apricot... I'm even dying to try apple butter and see how they turn out.  You could make several different flavors and take them all to a party to share!  The possibilities are only as limited as the jam selection at your local store!

Blackberry Streusel Bars
Adapted from: Pampered Chef
Makes: 16 squares

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup blackberry jam (or your favorite flavor)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make crust: Combine all four ingredients for the crust in a bowl and mix well.  It will be very crumbly.  Separate 1/4 cup of mixture to use on top.  
  3. Pour the rest of the mixture into a 9x9 baking pan.  I have used a stoneware pan and a regular metal pan, and both worked fine.  Using a sheet of waxed paper, press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan until flat.
  4. To make filling: Stir together the jam and 2 tablespoons flour.  Spread evenly over the crust mixture.
  5. To make topping:  Stir together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until it is no longer lumpy.  Pipe into the pan.  I piped diagonal stripes about one inch apart, but you can choose your own design if you like.
  6. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of crumb mixture on top.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are just slightly golden brown.
  8. Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.
I had been craving this delicious treat for a while, so I even made a little extra personal serving for me!  I ate it warmed up with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream on top, and it was amazing!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meatball Sliders {Wednesday Wins}

We recently had these meatball sliders for dinner, and o my goodness, they were delicious!  These are perfect for dinner with a fresh salad.  The meatballs are stuffed with Italian seasoning goodness.  And the Italian bread rolls go perfectly.  Top them off with a little mozzarella and Parmesan and you've got a great Italian dinner!

They'd also be just as perfect for a potluck party!  You can make the meatballs and rolls smaller if you'd like to feed more people.  To keep the meatballs and sauce warm, just pop them in a crock pot after they've been cooked.  They'll be welcome at any occasion!

I just used my mom's recipes for both the meatballs and the Italian bread and tweaked them both a bit to work for this meal!

Italian Rolls
Adapted from: My Mom's "Mess Up" bread 
Makes: 12 rolls
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon margarine, softened
1/2 tablespoon oil
2 cups + 2 tablespoons bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons sugar 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
butter, for greasing
Directions: *If you have a bread maker, just put all the ingredients in your bread maker and set for dough.  This should take care of all of the kneading and the first rise, so you can start at step 7. For those of you that don't have a bread machine:
  1. Add yeast to warm water and stir.
  2. Put 1 cup flour, the salt, and the sugar in a large bowl, add water and yeast; mix thoroughly for 2 minutes.
  3. Add oil and margarine; mix thoroughly for 2 minutes.
  4. Add remaining flour until dough is firm, but still elastic.
  5. Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes.
  6. Place into a well-greased bowl.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  7. Grease a 7x11 pan with butter.
  8. Divide dough into twelve rolls and shape into balls as best as possible.  Place the rolls into the pan.
  9. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.  (While the rolls are rising and baking, you can prepare the meatballs.)
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-40 minutes until nice and golden brown.

Adapted from: My mom
Makes: 12
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1/4 cup milk
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1-2 cups marinara sauce
  1. Combine eggs, milk, Italian seasoning, salt, and Parmesan in a large bowl.
  2. Add enough breadcrumbs to make a ball.
  3. Add meat and mix well.  Beware, the best way to do this is with your hands, but they will get really, really cold!
  4. Roll into 2 inch balls.  Adjust the sizes so that you end up with 12 large meatballs.
  5. Place in a skillet and brown slowly on a low heat, stirring often.
  6. Drain on a paper towel.
  7. Cover with your favorite marinara sauce. 
Once the rolls are out of the oven and the meatballs and sauce are warm, split a roll, place a meatball covered in sauce in the middle and cover with some mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Chow down!

I hope you enjoy this delicious dinner!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Lovely Weekend {Lundi Little Lovelies}

Well, frankly, I don't have much good to say about today.  So it's a good thing that I already had some collected little lovelies from my weekend!

I picked up this adorable notebook set at Target on Friday, and I just love them.  Aren't they so cute!  (FYI, I'm basically a notebook collector; when I see a cute notebook, I just can't resist it!)

Lolo with the photobomb!

I am making progress on the scarf.  It will definitely be finished this week!  Which is saying quite a lot considering that I completely un-wove everything I had already done (even the progress I'd made last week), and started over with a different weft color.  And that was about as tedious as ripping stitches out of an almost finished garment.  But, I'm so much happier with it now.  I just hate making a project when I know I'm not going to like the finished project.  At least now that's not going to happen!

I went on a run on Saturday morning on the beach.  It was glorious!  Seriously.  I've never run on the beach before, and now I'm wondering why!  I had my swimsuit on so I could get a little tan at the same time, barefoot, no headphones, just running right at the edge of the water listening to the waves.  It was amazing!  And it turns out that I ran three miles (with a little water break at the halfway point).  And I wasn't even feeling it.  I felt like I could have kept running forever.  I loved it!  I can't wait to go again tomorrow!

I made some streusel bars for Bible study yesterday, and since I had a little extra, I made a little personal dessert just for me.  I had it today: warm blackberry streusel with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream on top.  Oh yum!  I will definitely post the recipe soon, so watch out for that!

Lastly, I mentioned that last week we had an impromptu no evening snack week.  And I am proud to say that I made it a whole seven days without having dessert after dinner.  Haha!  So I can do it, I just don't like to.  I really don't think the benefits outweighed the annoyance.  So, that probably won't be happening again.  Lol.

I've got some great recipes to share for several upcoming posts!  Stay tuned for deliciousness!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Few E-Cards to Make You LOL {Sunday Funday}

Today I would really just like to make somebody laugh.  So, rather than try to come up with some mildly funny story, I'm just going to steal a few e-cards from one of my Pinterest boards.  I hope a few of them make you laugh out loud and maybe that you relate to a few too!

 (Click on the photo to be taken to the source.)
Am I the only person who experiences this quite often?!
(Could not find the source on this one)

Funny Friendship Ecard: That was actually really funny. But I don't like you. Therefore I shall not laugh.
It's not exactly nice, but I'm still willing to bet you've done this at least once in your life.  I'm pretty sure I have.

 Funny Confession Ecard: I work out for the sole purpose of eating more. Don't judge me..
So. True.

Funny Confession Ecard: I daydream while driving and in the world did I make it home!?
Oh yeah.  All the time.

 Funny Confession Ecard: That moment when you're supposed to be cleaning and you put on music and it turns into a dance party for one.
This happens to me ALL THE TIME when I'm cooking!

Funny Workplace Ecard: Sometimes I write down tasks after I've done them, just to get the satisfaction of crossing them off my list.
 Then I have a comprehensive list of the things I accomplished that day.  So it's totally rational, right?!

I hope you laughed at least once!  If not, then you probably think I'm a weirdo, because I love all of these!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Loaded Baked Mashed Potatoes

This side dish comes straight from my mom.  And before that, I'm pretty sure she got it from heaven!  These potatoes are absolutely perfect!  Combining the best of both loaded baked potatoes and mashed potatoes, you can not go wrong with these!

Of course, it takes some old-fashioned elbow grease to get the perfect lump-free mashed potatoes.  My dad usually mashes the potatoes at my parents house.  And he is a boss at it.  By the time he's done mashing, those potatoes couldn't form a lump if they wanted to.  They're perfectly creamy.  It's delightful.

So, before I drool all over my computer, I'm going to type out the recipe and finish this post!

Loaded Baked Mashed Potatoes
From: My Mom
Serves: 4-6
**Note: All of the amounts in this recipe are estimated.  Start with the smaller amount and keep adding and tasting until you create the perfect flavor for your family.

4-6 medium baking potatoes
4-6 ounces cream cheese
1/3 - 1/2 cup sour cream
4-6 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/3 cup cheese
1/4 cup bacon bits

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks.  Boil in a large pot until potatoes are soft and break apart when stuck with a fork.  Drain water.
  2.  Starting with the smaller amounts add cream cheese, sour cream, and butter.  Mash really, really well.
  3. Add garlic salt and salt and pepper to taste.  Continue stirring/mashing.  Taste and add more of anything as desired.
  4. Add cheese and bacon bits; stir.  The potatoes can now be served, however if you want to prepare them early, or if they need heating up again, continue to step 5.
  5. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
You can enjoy these delicious potatoes as a side dish to just about anything.  These are a holiday staple at my parents' house, and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meatless Meals

**I'm a little low on recipes to blog this week, because I'm currently in the middle of a "No Dessert Week".  Meaning that I'm trying not to make or eat dessert after dinner this week.  This was a spur of the moment thing on Sunday night, because Thomas is trying to lose just a few more pounds and I could certainly do without a few too.  But, I didn't plan a super interesting menu for this week, so I'm slacking on having a recipe to blog.  I will try and come up with something in the next few days though.  In the mean time, here is a more general food post!

Whether you're on a budget or just looking for a little more variety in your menus, trying out some meatless meals could be just what you need!  Thomas and I try to eat meatless at least once a week.  It's nice on the budget and great to change things up.  We eat a lot of chicken around here, so rather than having to splurge on steaks, we go meatless.

The thing about trying meatless meals if you haven't is that you feel like you're going to notice it missing from your plate.  But if you plan it right, you'll see that you don't really miss the meat.  You just have to make sure that you have plenty of variety on your plate to keep you interested.

Now, if you're a picky eater out there, these are definitely some meals you will like.  Thomas is pretty darn picky about some things, and there are certainly foods I won't eat also.  So there's nothing "new age" in here like quinoa or tofu or chickpeas.  We're a little more basic than that.

So, without further ado, here are some really basic meatless meals.

Pasta:  This is probably the easiest type of meal to go meatless on.  You can easily make almost any type of pasta without meat.  One of Thomas' and my go-to meals is basically spaghetti with cheese in the marinara sauce instead of meat.  It's super easy to just mix some cheese into your sauce when you would use meat.  The cheese takes the sauce to a whole new level, so you really don't even notice the meat missing.  Serve any pasta with a salad and some garlic bread, and you've got a great, balanced meal.
Try this delicious homemade lasagna without meat.  There are so many layers of flavor that it doesn't even really need meat.
These stuffed shells are also a great way to skip the meat with pasta.

Potatoes:  Potatoes are so versatile that you can easily take them from a side dish to the main course.  Here are some ideas:
Loaded Baked Potatoes.  Serve with some cooked veggies or big salad and some bread or rolls.
Potato Soup:  Just Google it, and you'll find tons of recipes for all different kinds of potato soups.  Even Loaded Baked Potato Soup!

Veggie Soup:  I've got a great, super easy recipe for Veggie Soup right here.  Just omit the meat, and you've still got a flavorful, hearty meal!

Pizza:  This is another really easy one.  You can do any pizza meatless.  Sure, it's a little more boring that way, but it's still a great meal.  One of my favorite lunch meals is French Bread pizza.  Just cut yourself a few slices of your favorite French bread and fix each piece like a mini pizza.  It's delicious and super quick.  They only need about 10-15 minutes to bake.  These are also great for families because each person can be responsible for making their pizza however they want.  Kids love getting to put on their own toppings and have their very own pizza.

And as you've probably noticed:  serve everything with a salad and some type of bread!  I just love salad and bread to complete a meal!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Nail Polish Reviews

So, since I didn't post the Lundi Little Lovelies post yesterday, I'm just going to pretend that today is still Monday and post it anyway.

My most exciting news is that my mom and one of her sisters is coming to visit very soon!  I can't wait!  I haven't seen my parents since June (if you don't count the facetime conversation on Christmas).  That's why I've started working on my tan.  Of course, they're going to want to go to the beach as much as we can handle, so I want to make sure I've got a base tan to prevent me from getting super crispy.  The last time my mom was here was two years ago, so I'm excited to take her out to all of the favorite places we've developed and everything.  She's my best girlfriend, so I can't wait to spend every moment I can with her!

In other news, yesterday I started working on a weaving project I've been ignoring for a while.  I'd like to finish it so I can move on to a new project.  That's my only problem with weaving.  When I start a project and decide I'm not in love with it, I have trouble finding the will to finish it.  So, I've started working on it again, and I'd like to have it finished this week or next week.

A while back, I mentioned here that I bought a sample pack of OPI's clear polishes.  Since then, I've used each of these a few times, and I thought I'd go ahead and review them for anyone who's interested!  Just click on the name of each polish for a link to check out more details and purchase them on

From Left to Right:
  1. Original Nail Envy - This is a nail strengthener, and the one I have is the original formula.  My nails have been pretty weak and brittle lately, so I've tried this out both as a base coat before a colored polish and as a stand alone clear polish.  I like it best as just a clear polish for when I don't feel like putting a color on my nails.  I'm not sure how well it works because I haven't seen a ton of improvement in my nails, but I also haven't been wearing this polish non-stop.
  2. Chip Skip - I really, really like this as a base coat for my color polishes.  It basically gets any gunk off of your nails to make sure that the polish sticks to them.  I've used this several times as a base coat and I've found that it really prolongs the life of my nail polish.  My nail color seems a lot less likely to chip, and the polish lasts several days longer than normal.
  3. OPI Top Coat - This, as far as I can tell, is OPI's standard top coat.  There's nothing incredibly special about it, but I do like it.  It goes on smooth and clear.  It's shiny, and I like the way it finishes off a color polish.
  4. RapiDry Top Coat - This is the only one of the four polishes that I don't like.  It did not smooth out on my nails at all, so they looked really streak-y.  It does dry really quickly, but I would much rather have a polish that takes a little longer to dry and actually looks good.  I disliked the way my finished nails looked so much that I almost took everything off and started from scratch.  
So there you have it.  I really liked three of these four polishes, so this little sample pack was definitely a great purchase!  Now I know what full-size purchases I would make in the future!  I would definitely call that a little lovely!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Traditional Boston Cream Pie

Last night we went over to some friends' to have dinner and hang out, and I was tasked with bringing the dessert for the night.  There was really only one thing on my mind to make: Boston Cream.  So I decided to try my hand at traditional Boston Cream Pie.  Which, interestingly enough, is actually a cake.  But it's still called pie.  Hm.  

And since I only needed half of the cake batter for the pie, I used the other half for some sprinkled cupcakes for the kiddos to eat!

I was so happy with how it turned out.  The cake was light and fluffy, and the custard was thick enough to not squish out of the cake.  And I loved the taste of the chocolate icing I used.  I also baked the cake and filled it Thursday night because I wanted the cake to have some time to soak up the custard before we ate it.  Yummy!

It also was not difficult to make because I started with some basic mixes (boxed yellow cake and pudding mix) but altered their recipes a bit to give it more of a made-from-scratch taste.  This recipe is definitely less time consuming than a completely homemade pie. 

Most Boston Cream Pies have a very thin glaze on top.  But you know how much I love my chocolate, so I used one of my go-to chocolate icing recipes that allows you to make a little thicker glaze.  It still flowed down the sides of the cake as it's supposed to, but it firms up pretty quickly so that you get a thicker layer of icing.

Boston Cream Pie
Makes: one 9" pie
***Note: It is easiest to prepare the entire cake mix even though you only need one 9" cake (half of the mix) for this recipe.  I used the whole cake mix and made one 9" round cake and used the rest of the batter for cupcakes.  The ingredients listed below are for making the entire box of cake mix.

For Cake:
1 "Duncan Hines Golden Butter Recipe" boxed cake mix  *See note below to use a different cake mix.
4 large eggs
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
For Custard:
1 box vanilla pudding mix (2 oz.)
1 3/4 cups cold milk
For Icing:
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
3-5 tablespoons hot water

  1. Preheat oven as directed on the cake mix box.  Grease and flour a 9" round cake pan.  (Also prepare a cupcake pan for leftover batter.)
  2. Prepare your cake by mixing the cake mix, eggs, softened butter, milk with an electric mixer as directed on the box.
  3. Pour half of the batter into the prepared 9" pan.  Use the rest of the batter for cupcakes or whatever you want!
  4. Bake as directed for a 9" pan.
  5. When the cake is done, remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cake is cooling, prepare the custard by whisking together the pudding mix and the 1 3/4 cups of very cold milk.  Place in the fridge to firm up.
  7. When the cake is completely cool, use a serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally.
  8. Separate the two layers.  Spoon the chilled pudding onto the bottom layer of cake, spreading it out almost to the edges.  Then place the top layer of cake lightly on top of the pudding.  *This is where I stopped and let the cake to sit in the fridge overnight to allow the pudding to soak into the cake layers a little bit, but this chill time is not necessary.
  9. Prepare the icing:  Melt the 4 ounces of chopped milk chocolate and 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave in short increments, stirring in between.  Once it is melted, stir in the vanilla and powdered sugar.  The mixture will form a paste.  Add the HOT water one tablespoon at a time.  Mine usually takes about 4 tablespoons.  You want the icing pretty runny because it will firm up very quickly once it hits the cold cake.
  10. Pour icing carefully onto the cake, spreading it around and encouraging it to drip down the sides.
  11. Store in the fridge.
**To use a different boxed cake mix, make these changes to the directions on the box:  Add an extra egg.  Use softened butter instead of oil.  Use milk instead of water.  This gives your cake a more homemade taste and just takes it to another level.

I hope you enjoy this traditional decadent dessert! We certainly did!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grocery Shopping "Wins" Without Going Crazy for Couponing

So, I will preface this post with this:  I don't do extreme coupon-ing.  I just don't.  I do realize that it could save me more money with my grocery bill, but that's just not something I'm willing to spend a lot of time on right now.  It's not that I don't use coupons when I have them; it's just that I don't go out of my way to collect them.  

So that being said, I have been working on saving a little money in my grocery shopping recently.  And I have some (non-coupon) tips that I'd like to share for anyone else out there who's trying to pinch a few pennies.

1.  The less you shop, the less you buy.  This one is pretty simple: If you go to the grocery store fewer times per month, you have less chances to succumb to the ever enticing impulse buy.  I have started trying to go to the grocery store once every two weeks (with the occasional extra trip for milk), and I have noticed a huge difference in the amount I spend at the store.  It's just so simple to think that if you're not walking around the store every three days, you won't see things you're tempted to buy but don't need.

2.  Meal Plan and Make a List.  This one is a definite must to save some cash.  If you know what meals you'll be eating for the month, you know exactly what you need to buy and when you need to buy it.  I have started planning out the entire month's worth of meals at the end of the previous month.  Though it's a chore, if you get the whole family involved in requesting their favorite meals and brainstorming, you can have it completed in no time.  After that, make a big list so that you can buy most of it in one big trip.  But also, don't fret too much when the schedule changes and you have to move one or two things around; life happens.

3.  Shop with a Buddy.  This one might or might not work for you.  I have noticed that when I shop with Thomas, I'm much less likely to buy things we don't need.  He's not critical or anything, but I think twice about putting something unnecessary in the cart in case he asks what we need it for and I don't have an answer.  I also like him there because I can send him down an aisle that tends to be extra temptation for me (the bakery area).  Then I get the one item I need without the temptation of everything else in the aisle.  However, if your buddy is an impulse buyer, this one might not work out so well for you.

4.  Watch for Deals on Items You Use a Lot.  Unless I cook something special for breakfast, Thomas has cereal almost every morning.  So I know that I always need to have cereal that he likes in the pantry.  That means that I walk down the cereal aisle every time I go to the store.  If things he likes are on sale, I stock up on them so that I don't have to buy them when they aren't on sale. This is the same with the frozen vegetables I buy.  (I'm a brand snob on those.)  We eat a lot of them, so I buy as much as I can when they're on sale because I know we'll use them before the go bad.

5.  Pay Attention to the 'Price Per Ounce'.  When buying items where you have a choice of size, look at the price per ounce on the price tag.  A lot of times, if you buy the bigger box of cereal, rice, etc. you get a better deal.  Sometimes, it can be a huge difference!  But make sure you only buy the bigger size if you know you'll use it before it goes bad.  The same thing goes for deciding between two different brands, etc.

So those are a few small tips for your grocery budget.  They won't make an enormous dent, but you will definitely find yourself with a little extra cash at the end of the month!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Vanilla Cake Donuts - Baked!

Well, I will tell you what... the best Little Lovely of the day today is that I spent my afternoon at the beach!  First official beach day of the year!  Woohoo!  And I have a bit of a tan to prove it.  It was the most perfect day for it.  I posted a pic via Instagram, so feel free to follow me in order to see more photos of my life.  There's a handy blue button to do that right over there. ------>

But another little lovely of any day of my life is a wonderful breakfast food.  Every morning I face a serious dilemma because I have to choose what to eat for breakfast.  If it were up to me, I would never have to choose.  It's so difficult because breakfast foods are my favorite.  (Right up there with ice cream)

So I usually eat a wide variety of breakfast foods.  Hence the large number of breakfast recipes I post.  Because really, there's no time of day when it's not appropriate to eat breakfast.  Ya know?!  There are a lot of dinner foods that I would never eat for breakfast but basically no breakfast foods that I wouldn't eat for dinner.  I hope you're with me on this, because if not, I'm pretty sure we can't be friends.  Just kidding.  ... But seriously...

So, since I got a donut pan for Christmas, I have tried out a few recipes with it, and I really liked this one.  I made these donuts with a special Valentine's Day twist (hence the pink and sprinkles) for our breakfast on Valentine's Day.  'Cause who wants to eat cereal when you could have pink sprinkled donuts?!  (Though I do love me some cereal too.)

So, these donuts are just a simple vanilla cake donut.  They are classic and delicious.  And of course, a simple icing, in chocolate or vanilla, tops them off perfectly.  *For the pink icing, I wanted a hint of strawberry flavor and the pink color of course, so I just subbed some Hershey's Strawberry Syrup for some of the liquid in a simple glaze recipe.

Baked Vanilla Cake Donuts
Adapted from: Mom Advice
Makes: 6 donuts

1 cup all purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a donut pan with cooking spray,
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Divide the batter equally between the donut depressions.  **I use a plastic baggie with a large corner cut off as an easy batter dispenser.
  5. Bake for 9-11 minutes until donuts are fluffed up and just start to brown.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack to glaze.
  7. Top with your favorite icing (I would really like to try chocolate) and of course some sprinkles, and enjoy!  *Note: Try making a thin icing so that the best way to top these donuts is by dipping them into it.  It's a lot easier than trying to pour it on.
These donuts are perfect for any morning, not just special occasions, so whip some up today!