{4 Ingredient} Slow Cooker Rigatoni

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

Here’s just about the easier slow cooker recipe I’ve ever made. (Well, I don’t know . . . this one and this one are pretty easy too ~ maybe all things in the slow cooker = easy?)

 

As you can tell though, we’ve been keeping things pretty simple around here lately, and this was a great way to use up a few ingredients from the pantry. You could also add pepperoni, black olives, or any other toppings on top of the other ingredients, but this one worked well for us since I didn’t happen to have those on hand. I even used frozen Boca Veggie crumbles that were free forever ago (and happen to be on sale this week as well), so I was thrilled to get one more item out of the freezer! Here’s how to easily get dinner on the table at your house too . . .

 

 

{4 Ingredient} Slow Cooker Rigatoni

Ingredients

  • 28 oz spaghetti sauce
  • 12 oz rigatoni pasta, cooked to al dente
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or ground sausage, cooked and drained
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • pepperoni (optional)
  • sliced mushrooms, black olives, or onion (optional)

Instructions

  1. Layer half of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Then add half the pasta, half the ground beef, and half of the mozzarella cheese.
  3. Layer pepperoni, mushrooms or black olives (optional.)
  4. Add another layer of all the ingredients.
  5. Cook on low 3-4 hours.
  6. Enjoy!
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Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 4/23/14):

Curious how to cook ground beef in the slow cooker so you can just make up a big batch for recipes like this? Here you go (just leave out the taco seasonings.)

Thanks to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Penny Pinched Easter Baskets

I had two great emails this week asking how I frugally fill Easter baskets, as well as what to add to a teenager’s Easter basket, so I thought I’d share a peek at what our baskets look like this year! Several years ago I bought the buckets at Hobby Lobby for a few dollars and added a monogram to them ~ definitely re-using the basket from year to year will help you pinch those pennies. 

Normally we include candy and a few items from the dollar bins at Target or the Dollar Tree, but this year since I’d scored such great deals on board games last week at Target, my kids will get those too. I was pretty excited when I saw Target had their $1 Spot items on sale 6/$5, and was tickled because they had quite a few fun items for my girls!

 

I went to CVS and Target yesterday for the Easter candy deals (I loved being able to use the $10 off $50 grocery coupon at Target towards the candy I had to purchase!), and that’s about it. Nothing fancy or all that exciting, but my kids always are pretty excited to wake up bright and early to a morning full of chocolate and a few fun treats!

Because I didn’t get a game for my 14-year-old, I’m going to add in a $5 iTunes card (he’ll be thrilled with that!)

 

What other items do you add to your child’s Easter basket? Leave a comment to share- I’m always up for new ideas!

Haven’t started shopping for Easter candy yet? See the best Easter Candy Deals 2014 over HERE before heading to the store, and be sure to print these coupons to easily pinch a penny or two.
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

Creamed Spinach Casserole

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

Looking for something new to try out for Easter brunch this Sunday? My favorite side dishes are the traditional Corn Casserole, Broccoli Cheese Casserole and of course Green Bean Casserole (without the cream soup), so I decided to hunt down something different that most folks may not have tried before.

 

This was so good, and reminded me of the Creamed Spinach that Claudia Sanders restaurant serves in Shelbyville, Kentucky(If you’re ever near Shelbyville, you have to try it out. While it’s far from a penny-pinched meal, it’s so good and just a fun place to visit!) It took about two minutes to mix together after I really thawed out and drained the spinach (be sure to really drain it well), and would be a perfect recipe to enjoy this Easter Sunday. Here’s the recipe so you can try it out too!

Creamed Spinach Casserole

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened - I used the original cream cheese spread which is a little more creamy and easy to work with)
  • 3 10 oz. packages frozen spinach thawed and drained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 6 oz can French's onions, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Thaw and drain spinach (you'll want to drain the spinach really well- squeeze out any extra liquid by draining spinach in a colander and pressing out as much liquid as possible.)
  3. Mix together spinach, cream cheese, mushroom and 1/2 of the French's onions.
  4. Pour into greased casserole dish.
  5. Add remaining French's onions.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through (make sure not to let onions brown too much.)
  7. Enjoy!
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Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 4/16/14):

  • Birdseye Veggies 50% off at Publix
  • Birdseye Veggies $1 at Target
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese $1.50 at Publix, Target and Kroger, use $.75/1 Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • Campbell’s Cream Soup $1 at Publix or $.75 at Target, use $.40/3 Campbell’s Soups
  • French’s Onions BOGO at Publix, use $.30/1 French’s Onions, $.50/1 French’s Onions from the 2/9 Smart Source insert, or $1/1 French’s Onions from the 4/6 Smart Source insert

 

Looking for more Easter brunch recipes? Here are some of my favorites . . .

 

Sweet & Savory Broccoli Salad

Easy Slow Cooker Ham 

Slow Cooker Ham

Corn Casserole

Green Bean Casserole 

Green Bean Casserole {no cream of mushroom soup}

 

Strawberry Cake

 

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Thanks to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Homemade Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

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I know that picture is just plain old pitiful, but you’ve got to trust me that this is the best ever Homemade Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake you will ever bake. My son turned 14 this weekend (craziness!), and his sister was determined to bake him a cake. It had been a crazy week around here so I really didn’t have much planned (we went out to eat for his birthday), but she found this recipe, rode her bike up to Publix to grab the ingredients, and came home to bake it right up for him.

 

Goodness, it was good. In fact, it was so good that that big-ole’-fourteen year old even thanked his eleven-year-old sister for it more than two times, which is a pretty big compliment coming from him to her! ;) Here’s how to get started . . .

Homemade Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&Ms (could use all chocolate chips, we just decided to use both)

Instructions

  1. Beat butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Add eggs and beat well.
  3. Slowly add in flour, salt and baking soda, then mix until well blended.
  4. Add in chocolate chips and M&Ms.
  5. Spread into 9x13" pan.
  6. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Frost with favorite buttercream frosting if desired (I just mix together 1 stick of butter (softened), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 cups powdered sugar, then add a few tablespoons of milk until it's at desired thickness.)
  8. Enjoy!
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Recipe adapted from All Recipes.  If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Penny Pinched Dining Room Makeover

Oh my, I’m so excited to share this week’s Friday Fluff up with you! My friend Staci recently re-did her dining room and it’s just beautiful. She kept the original furniture she had, but re-upholstered her chair cushions, changed the rug and added (beautiful!) new curtains. The results are just perfect!

Here’s a peek . . . 

(I can’t believe I didn’t get a better picture standing further back, but this is an idea!)

Here’s where her money was spent . . .

$48 for fabric to recover her chairs

$250 for rug from Joss & Main (if you’ve looked at the cost of high end rugs lately, you know this was a fantastic price!)

$125 curtains from Joss & Main 

My absolute favorite trick that Staci shared was how she hung her curtains. She had purchased the new (super cute!) navy curtains from  Joss & Main, but they allowed a lot of light to pass through (getting curtains heavy enough to block light can get so expensive.) So, she left up her old silk curtains underneath, and it adds so much weight to the newer curtains – so smart!

Here’s the breakdown of her expenses:

  • Fabric $49
  • Joss & Main Rug $250
  • Joss & Main Curtains $125
  • Candles $9.99 from Ikea
  • Total $523 – not bad at all for a complete updated dining room!

I absolutely love what she was able to do, and the best part is that she didn’t have to update any of her furniture (which is where most of your money can easily go!)  Thanks so much Staci for sharing with us – it looks beautiful. ;)

 

Curious how I fluffed up our dining room for under $150? Check this out.

This post is linked up to Thrifty Thursday and Follow Our Thrift – thanks for the opportunity to link up! I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See more previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

Strawberry Cake

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

 

If I had my druthers, I’d invite every one of you right into my kitchen this afternoon and slice you up a piece of this cake. But, since that’s probably not going to happen, I’ll just share the recipe, and maybe you can invite a friend or two over to enjoy it too. ;)

 

My sister-in-law buys the most wonderful Strawberry Cake from a bakery in Western Kentucky every Easter, and I’ve always wanted to make one at home. So,  I can’t even begin to tell you  how excited I am about this little (big?) slice of happiness!

 

While the cake is pretty darn good, the icing is perfection. When I read through the directions I was afraid it would be a little more challenging than I had time for, but it really was fairly simple, and undoubtedly the best Strawberry Icing I’ve ever tasted. So, dust off your mixing bowls and get ready to bake – this one will be perfect for Easter brunch in your home too!

 

{Excuse me while I run and get just one more bite of that cake, then we’ll get started . . . } ;)

 

Strawberry Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 3 oz package Strawberry Jello
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cup mashed fresh strawberries (divided)
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted and divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix together cake mix and dry Jello in mixing bowl
  2. Add eggs, oil, water and 3/4 cups mashed strawberries.
  3. Beat with mixer until blended.
  4. Pour into two greased and floured 9" pans.
  5. (Important - be sure to grease your pans well and then flour them, or they will not come out of the pan.)
  6. Bake for 27-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in cake pans, then place on wire racks and cool completely.
  8. While cake is baking, smash 1 cup strawberries until smooth (you may want to use a blender - I used my Pampered Chef chopper and just got them good and smashed.)
  9. Place strawberries in saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  10. Continue to cook until mixture is reduced by about half (for about 12-18 minutes.)
  11. Remove from heat and cool completely. (I put them in a small bowl in my refrigerator to cool more quickly.)
  12. Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy.
  13. Add in 1 cup powdered sugar until blended.
  14. Add 2 tablespoons of cooled strawberry puree and vanilla extra, beat into butter mixture until blended.
  15. Repeat with another cup of confectioners sugar, then an additional 2 tablespoons of strawberry puree.
  16. Add one more cup of confections and another 2 tablespoons strawberry puree.
  17. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup confectioners sugar until light and fluffy.
  18. Spread frosting on cake and enjoy!
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Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 4/9/14):

  • Duncan Hines Cake Mix BOGO $1.89 at Publix
  • Betty Crocker Cake Mix $1.25 at Kroger
  • Publix Butter on sale $2
  • Kroger Land O Lakes Butter on sale $2.50, use $1/1 Land O Lakes Butter
  • Strawberries on sale $2.99 at Publix, $2.50 at Kroger or $.99 at Target

 

Cake recipe adapted from Kraft.com, and Strawberry Icing Recipe from All Recipes.  Thanks to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Friday Fluff Up: $10 Dollar Tree Spring Wreath

I saw these berry bushes for $1 at the Dollar Tree and just couldn’t resist them. A sprig of berries can easily cost $4-$6 even on a half price sale at the big craft stores, so they sat there just begging me to buy a few!

 

I grabbed ten, headed home, and wondered what on earth to do with those berries.

 

Then I saw one of those super cute (expensive) berry Spring wreaths, and knew I had my work cut out for me.

I took an old grapevine wreath (pardon the blurry picture)

 

Stuffed those berries all over it (I didn’t even take them off the sticks – just pushed those suckers right down into the grapevine wreath)

 

And fluffed up our black entry hallway. Done!

 

Looking for more frugal & fun Spring decorating ideas? 

This post is linked up to Living Well Spending Less Thrifty Thursday and Follow Our Thrift- thanks for the opportunity to link up!  I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

I know it’s Spring and probably time to pack away Mrs. Potts along with all my favorite slow cooking soup recipes, but I’m just not quite ready yet! So, I’m clinging to every last easy meal I can eek out in the slow cooker, and absolutely loved how simple and delicious this meal was last night.

If you’ve got about 8 minutes in the morning to dump all the ingredients in your slow cooker, you’ve got one delicious dinner all done. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love that?) ;) Here’s the recipe so you can get a (healthy!) meal on the table at all with just a few minutes of effort.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili

Ingredients

  • 16 oz black beans
  • 16 oz kidney beans
  • 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 10 oz can frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5 oz cans Rotel
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • cheese (optional - for topping)
  • sour cream (optional - for topping)
  • tortilla chips (optional - for topping)

Instructions

  1. Place everything except chicken, cheese and sour cream in slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken on top of the other ingredients in the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  4. Once cooked, shred chicken and then stir back in - let cook another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with cheese, chips and sour cream if desired (will count as extra Weight Watcher points) and enjoy!
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Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 4/2/14):

  • Publix Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast on sale $2.39/lb. (stock up price for Publix!)
  • Kroger Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.99/lb
  • Kraft Shredded Cheese $2.50 at Publix
  • Ro-Tel on sale $1.35 at Publix, use Buy 2 Get 1 Free Ro-Tel coupon from the Pubilx Advantage Buy Flier
  • Market Pantry Cheese $2.50 at Target, use $.75/1 Market Pantry Cheese when you text SPRING to 827438
  • Publix Sour Cream $1.50

 

 

Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste and has 5 Weight Watchers points per 1 1/4 cup serving. 

 

Thanks to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Ham and Cheese Pasta

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

 

This {easy!} Ham and Cheese Pasta Bake is so simple, and such yummy warm comfort food on a cloudy day like it is here in Alabama. Almost everything you’ll need is probably in your pantry (thankfully I’d frozen a bunch of ham at Christmas), and it’s a great way to frugally feed your family some good old-fashioned comfort food.

 

It’s one of those meals that your kids will love (think delicious homemade mac-and-cheese with some ham added in), and you can add a side salad to finish out your meal. Most of the items are on sale in the new Publix and Kroger ads this week, just scroll to the bottom of the post to see how to penny-pinch this meal in case you’re missing a few of the items you’ll need to get started!

Ham and Cheese Pasta

Ingredients

  • 12 oz box bow tie pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese (could substitute with Cheddar)
  • 4 oz cooked ham, diced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 and cook pasta until al dente.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Saute garlic for thirty seconds.
  4. Add in flour, salt and pepper, whisking constantly.
  5. Once flour mixture is smooth, gradually add in milk, a little bit at a time while stirring constantly with a whisk.
  6. Bring to boil for one minute.
  7. Add in mustard and Colby cheese, then continue to cook until cheese is melted through.
  8. Mix together with cooked pasta and ham, then pour into 2 quart baking pan.
  9. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly. Enjoy!
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Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 3/19/14):

  • Smithfield Honey Ham Slice BOGO $3.49 at Publix, use $.75/1 coupon from the 3/9 Smwart Source insert
  • Kroger and Winn Dixie Pasta $1
  • Ronzoni Pasta BOGO  $1.38 at Publix, use $.75/1 Ronzoni 150 Pasta, if included in sale
  • Kraft Cheese 8 oz $1.99 at Kroger, use $1/2 Kraft coupon from the 3/9 Smart Source insert
  • Publix Shredded Cheese 16 oz. $4.99 at Publix

Recipe adapted from All Recipes - get a one year subscription to All Recipes right now for just $8.99, including their free Slow Cooker Cookbook! Thanks to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Menu Plan Monday: Week Of 3/17/14

 

ham and cheese sliders

Have you made your menu plan yet for the week? Like I shared last week, I’m not so sure how many of these menus will actually make it to the table this week, but here’s a peek at what I’d like to have! ;)

 

Do you have anything yummy on your menu plan this week?  I’d love to hear what you’re having, and if you have any great recipe ideas please leave a comment to share!  

 

 

Check out my recipes to try board on Pinterest, and see more penny-pinched recipe ideas.  This post is linked up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday where you can find lots more menu planning ideas! 

 



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