How to Make Delicious and Easy Bread in Your Bread Machine Every Time

 
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Do you love the smell of fresh-baked bread? There really is no other smell like it. Some people feel like it smells like "home". But, do you avoid making it because you feel like it will be too hard?

Well, if you know anything about me, you know that I am ALWAYS looking for a quicker and easier way to do things and still have a great tasting product. My shortcut for this one? The bread machine. I know that sounds do 1998....Chad and I got a bread machine the year we married (1996) and I immediately went to the store in search of bread machine mixes. 

They had anything you could hope for. Blueberry Bread, Raisin Bread, 9-Grain Bread, and on and on. And I went to making bread in the bread machine. It was good, and it lasted for a little while, but for some reason I just kind of quit doing it. I do not know why?

Fast forward what seems like 200 years! My Emily LOVES bread. Like loves, loves, loves it. So one day i decided to pull out the bread machine and make homemade bread. But I didn't have a bread machine mix to make it with. So, I did what any good mom who spoils their children would do....I decided to see if I could make bread in the bread machine from scratch.

I know! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? But it is actually 1,000 times easier than kneading it and blah, blah, blah. There are so many recipes on the internet, but I finally perfected one that we love. And, I told you it was simple...it is literally dumping ingredients into the bread machine and pushing a button.

I'm not joking. I put some sugar, warm water, yeast, flour, salt, and vegetable oil in the bread machine and walked away! 2 hours later, I had hot, fresh, homemade bread!


First thing I did was combine hot water, yeast and sugar in the bread machine and let it stand for 6 - 12 minutes. The yeast should foam. 

 
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While I waited for the yeast mixture to foam, I sifted the flour and salt into a separate bowl. 

 
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Once the yeast, water and sugar foamed, I added the rest of the ingredients into the bread machine. I closed the lid and chose the basic white cycle and left it to do it's magic.

Look at this beautiful specimen!!! AND, my house smelled A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!! Take my word for it! Want to try it? Here is the recipe!  I'll note down at the bottom what to do if you don't have a bread machine. It's a little more work, but same great taste.

 
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BEST HOMEMADE BREAD

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups white flour

Instructions:
  1. Put hot water, yeast and sugar in bread machine and let stand 6-12 minutes.
  2. While yeast is foaming, sift flour and salt.
  3. Add salt, flour and vegetable oil to the bread machine and close the lid.
  4. Set the bread machine to rapid or basic white cycle.
  5. Enjoy the smell of fresh baked bread and eating it once it's finished cooking!!

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***If you don’t have a bread machine, you can make it like this:

Combine ingredients the same way. Add yeast and sugar to hot water and let foam. Sift flour and salt. Combine yeast mixture, salt, vegetable oil and about 2 cups of the white flour in a mixer. Add 1/2 cup flour at a time until the dough is not too sticky. Put the dough in a bowl and let it rise for an hour. Then, divide it into two equal balls. Place each ball in a loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rise for another hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Pull it out of the oven and brush the top with butter. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

This bread will make you want to keep baking it over and over again!

Happy Bread Baking,

Jennifer


The Most Delicious Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies You Will Ever Make

 
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So I got your attention? Let me finish....these cookies are ADDICTING!!! And, y'all know I like easy. Another cookie recipe using cake mix! Easy, quick AND inexpensive? Well, yes, I think I will.

When I made these the first time, we literally ate them all in one day....that could be a problem. You may have to use some self-control when these are done, because they are so chewy and full of flavor. I just kept walking by and picking one up. And then another, and so on. My husband doesn't even LIKE sweets, but he sure had his fair share of these cookies. 

They are a beautiful pink color too, so what better time to make them than Valentine's Day? These literally could be brought to your child's school party, a home-school gathering, or just to kept at home. You could even wrap a few in some cellophane with a pretty ribbon, because they are that pretty.

I am always looking for easy recipes and quick recipes and this one hit the spot. It has 5 ingredients. That's it. I made them very quickly and they cooked quickly. They are very similar to my lemon cookies that I shared here, except I don't roll these strawberry cookies in powdered sugar. I could, but I wanted to try something different. Maybe next time I make them, I will try the powdered sugar! 

The ingredients include: A strawberry cake mix*, 2 eggs, 3 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter and a bag of white chocolate morsels. 

*You can use any strawberry cake mix that you like, and any morsels. These cookies would probably be good with chocolate chips, but I like the look for he white with the pink.

 
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What I used:

Copper Chef Cookie Sheet

Rubber Spatula

Parchment Paper

Sifter

Cookie Scoop


How I Did It:

I first sifted the cake mix to get all of the lumps out. I set it to the side and creamed the butter, cream cheese and eggs. I then added the sifted cake mix and the white chocolate chips. 

 
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Look how good that dough looks! I really could just eat dough….but I didn’t!!

This dough is VERY VERY STICKY. The first time I made them, I used my hand mixer and it literally traveled to the top my mixer every time! So I have used my stand mixer and then eventually my hands! If it is too sticky to scoop into cookies, put it in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. You can then form the dough into balls (I did mine about 1 TBSP a piece). You can use a cookie scoop or two spoons. Like I said, it's pretty sticky, but SO WORTH IT!

I just put them on a baking sheet and baked them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. You definitely need to watch them because they will be over-cooked in a split second and you won't even realize it because the bottoms will get very brown.

 
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When they come out of the oven I can hardly stand to let them cool, but I do (sometimes). I want to make sure that every cookie has enough chocolate chips in them and will dot some on top of the cookies when they come out, if they don't have enough in them.

Look how beautiful they are. I think that I think they are SO pretty because I know how delicious they are.  So, when you are looking for a quick and easy cookie to make, these are your prize! They have wonderful strawberry flavor, they only have 5 ingredients and they are not at all expensive to make! For sure you need to pop these out for Valentine's Day and make your sweetheart swoon all over again.

 
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DELICIOUS STRAWBERRY COOKIES

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 box strawberry cake mix )(15.25oz)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels

Instructions:
  1. Sift the cake mix.
  2. Cream the butter, cream cheese and 2 eggs.
  3. Add the sifted cake mix and combine.
  4. Add 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels. (You will probably have to mix these in with a spoon by hand.)
  5. Drop cookies (about 1 TBSP) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (If the dough is too sticky you can put in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.)
  6. Cook 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Enjoy!

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If you've read any of my blog, you know I love to use cake mixes any way I can. Check out my other cake mix recipes like Lemon Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.


Happy Baking,

Jennifer

23 years....and Counting! 5 Marriage Lessons We Have Learned Over the Past 20 Years!

 
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On November 12, 1994, I went to my brother's best friend's wedding and had one thing on my mind...I was going out later and couldn't wait to go have some fun. Little did I know that the course of my life would change forever that night! I saw a cute blonde-haired guy across the room at the reception and immediately pointed out to my sister-in-law that he was super cute. I watched him most of the night and when the reception ended and the lights came on, he was leaving, with his coat across his arm, and I stopped him and introduced myself. Literally, the rest is history. We REALLY liked each other immediately and it wasn't long after that, that we were married.

We married on February 10, 1996, and it was the perfect day. We couldn't wait to get married and start our lives together. That feeling of pure hope and joy is one I will always remember and associate with that time. Today, we have been married 23 years, and I still have hope and joy, but it's different. People tell you, "Oh wait until you have bills and responsibilities; wait until you have a job, kids, and a house note; wait until you are trying to work, bathe kids, do homework, cook supper and still have time for each other." We have done all of that. And we have survived, thus far! And we plan on continuing to survive! Has it been easy, hell no! Would I want to do all of this with anyone else, no way!

 
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So, I thought I'd take this little minute to share some things that I have learned over the past 23 years. Is it written in stone? No. But, I have gotten some great advice from family and friends and it has really helped me, so why not pass it along?

*Always fight fair and watch your words

  It is very easy, in the heat of an argument, when you are mad and tired and just done, to lay                                              everything on the line. To say every little thing that has crossed your mind over the past week that                               has irritated you or aggravated you. DON'T DO IT! I promise you, that you will regret it! It's hard, but this is a time where you need to use restraint and patience and really think through what you say to your partner. Words cannot be taken back, and I promise you, what you say will not be forgotten. Think about what the issue at hand really is, and how you can discuss it with your partner in a calm and respectful manner. This will keep things calm and productive.

*Remind your partner that you appreciate them and thank them for the little things

     When you first start dating, those little things are noticed and you tend to say thank you and gush  and say how wonderful your partner is. But as time goes on, people tend to get lax. Either in doing nice things for each other or thanking each other. You have to remember how things started, and you need to try to keep them that way. If you truly appreciate your partner, this will be no problem. I know life gets busy, but you have to put your partner first. If Chad brings me a cup of coffee in the morning, I say thank you. I really do appreciate that. I didn't have to get up and get my own cup of coffee. And, he thought enough to think about me and fix me one while he was fixing his. It's sweet, and I like sweet 😃 

*You CANgo to bed angry

 No, I don't have fever....I know this is the opposite of everything everyone ever says. And, when we got married, I would have said "never go to bed angry". But, after 23 years of learning from my husband, sometimes going to bed angry saves us! I told my parents today that the first year of our marriage was the hardest. Sound crazy? Well, we didn't date for very long and we were still learning how to communicate with each other. So when we first got married, I wanted to talk everything out right then and lay it all on the line. Chad, not so much! It was so frustrating, because he would just shut down because he didn't want to get into some big fight and get all emotional and drag it out, and I did! One of his favorite things to still say is, “it takes two to tango”! But, he's right. Sometimes it's best to go to bed, sleep on it, get your thoughts together and re-visit it in the morning when it's not so fresh and volatile. I told my parents today that the first year of our marriage was the hardest. Sound crazy? Well, we didn't date for very long and we were still learning how to communicate with each other. And, sometimes, I realize how whatever we were going to fuss about was so stupid anyway! Which brings me to...

*Don't sweat the small stuff

 It took me a long time to come to this conclusion. A. REALLY. LONG. TIME. Somewhere around 10 years into marriage, I read something that said - what is the issue at hand? How will this issue affect you in 5 mins? How will this issue affect you in 5 months? How will this issue affect you in 5 years? When I say this was life-changing for me, I am not exaggerating. I told it to my girls instantly because some situations are blown out of proportion for no reason at all. If something is bothering me, I use these principals to evaluate is it worth addressing. If it's going to still be a problem in 5 years, you bet I'm going to say something. If I'm going to be mad in 5 minutes but forget about it in 5 months, why dwell on it right this second. Let me give you an example- if I am aggravated about maybe I want to do and Chad wants to do something else, how important is this going to be after 5 mins...probably not very. If it's something major and could still be affecting our relationship in 5 months or 5 years...I HAVE to say something!

*Always put your partner first

This is way easier said than done...I know. You have to take care of your kids. End of story. And hopefully, that's a common goal you and your partner have? Lot's of times I've had to say, "Chad, I'm sorry I've been tied up all night with the kids, but they've needed help with this, and this and this. But, I'm almost done and I'll be to bed." (Or whatever the case may be).  I think he appreciated the fact that I took the time to tell him, I realize I've ignored you all night, but this is why. We also agreed, very early on when we had kids, that we would make decisions together and always try to have a united front. Kids are so good at trying to play their parents against each other, and you just cannot let that happen You and your spouse are on the same team, not against each other. We may not always agree, and we may have to compromise, but come up with a solution we both agree on and can stand behind. Now that our kids are 21 and 17, they know we aren't going to go against each other!

 
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I am not a marriage counselor by any means, and we don't have some kind of fairy tale perfect marriage. But, I have to say that it's pretty darn good. There isn't anyone else I would rather hang out with. He ALWAYS makes me feel better and he tells me that everything is going to be okay. He cracks me up constantly, and we are there for each other. We are in this together and we aren't quitting. So, even though there are bumps in the road, we aren't going to let that slow us down!

I always love our anniversary because it is so close to Valentine's Day, so we almost celebrate for a week! So, take this time to show your "special someone" that you appreciate them and that everyday may not be perfect, but it will be worth it!


Happy Valentine's Day AND Anniversary to Us!

Jennifer - XO

February is American Heart Month

 
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February is American Heart Month and a year ago, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. It's horrible of me I know, but I didn't personally have anyone in my immediate family affected by heart disease or heart problems. Until May 23, 2018, and we all really got the scare of our lives. I have told the story before about my mom having a heart attack that day, and you can find it here. Since then, I have continued to research heart disease and it's risk factors. I have continued to learn new things about how to decrease your risk, and keep your heart healthy!



Here's the problem in my head. I am a dietitian, I learned all this crap in school, read the books, did the case studies, blah, blah, blah. But two things!


One, you never think it will happen to you or that it will affect you personally.


Two, my mom has always been the most educated person about health and food. What's good for you, what's not. What's going to cause acne and bloating and what's good to get rid of it. Listen, believe, me, she told us and still tells us that anything going on with us is probably related to something we ate. When I was about 13 or 14 and no one even TALKED about skim milk, but my mom was slick. She started taking whole milk and mixing 3/4 whole milk with 1/4 skim milk. She did this for about 2 weeks and then did 1/2 whole, 1/2 skim, and so on until we were just drinking skim milk. 


BUT WE HAD NO IDEA!!! I have three brothers who would've freaked out if they thought mom was switching to skim milk on us.....I guess she figured we didn't need to know! She eventually got tired of putting the skim milk in a whole milk jug and one day we saw that skim milk jug in the fridge and we were like, "No way, not happening, nope". She basically laughed at us and told us that we had been drinking it for at least 6 weeks and we had no clue!

She was also the one that no matter where we went, she wanted a salad (with the dressing on the side) and steamed vegetables (no butter)! So, I was surprised when she had a heart attack.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. About 610,000 people die in the United States a year from heart disease.


The 3 MAJOR risk factors are:

  • high blood pressure

  • high cholesterol

  • smoking

At least half of all Americans have at least one of these risk factors. My mom had slightly elevated cholesterol, but nothing to write home about. Her blood pressure was super, super low. Like we used to joke and ask if she had a pulse. But the smoking. She smoked for probably 20 years when she was younger. She quit smoking about 40 years ago, but I guess that 20 years of damage was done. Thank goodness she stopped when she did!


Several other risk factors that can contribute to heart disease are diabetes, overweight and obesity., poor diet, no physical activity, and excessive use of alcohol.


HOW TO KNOW

There are some major warning signs and they are sometimes different for men and women:

  • chest pains

  • discomfort in the arms, back, neck or jaw

  • shortness of breath

  • nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats


My mom had ALL of these EXCEPT chest pains.  The day I really knew something was wrong is when I called to check on her that Sunday morning, and she could hardly talk. She was literally gasping for air and I could tell over the telephone. I mentioned it to her and she of course never wants any of us to worry about her so she quickly said, "I'm fine, I'm fine, y'all don't worry about me". 


Well, the rest of the story is in my post and it boils down to the fact that, thank goodness we did worry about her and had someone check her out the next morning. She had a stint put in one of the blocked arteries, and is taking meds for the other. I have a very close family, and we are thankful for every day that we have together!

One of the things that you can do to help decrease your risk of heart disease is by following a healthy diet and getting physical exercise. 


If you would like to find out more, I have put together a little pamphlet for you that includes the basics of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and a 2 - Day sample menu!


Enter your name and email below, and it will come right to your inbox!

Happy American Heart Month,

Jennifer



Strawberry Banana Smoothie *Copycat Angel Food Smoothie from Smoothie King*

 
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I’m on my smoothie making spree again. This time, I did strawberry banana and I have to say…it is pretty amazing! I made it once to make sure the recipe was the right flavor and consistency, and I have probably made it at least 2 more times in the past week! So, it’s a winner.

Like I said in my Mixed Berry Smoothie post, I use the NINJA, BLENDER/FOOD PROCESSOR, to make my smoothies. I had a blender, but I have found that the Ninja just blends everything better. In a blender, the blades are just at the bottom, but in a Ninja, the blades are all the way through the center of the pitcher. It’s quite fascinating can you tell? lol! Another thing I LOVE about the Ninja, and especially the set that I have linked, is that it comes with different size pitchers AND it includes a lid to go on it. So, when I’m in a rush, make a smoothie, don’t drink it all, I just pop the top on the pitcher and stick it in the fridge!! It’s amazing! (At least in my world this is amazing!) I have added a picture of the Ninja that I purchased, at the end of this post.

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Here is the recipe and I, of course altered the original recipe, because that's what I do!!! The original recipe calls for vanilla yogurt, and I used strawberry yogurt. I wanted more strawberry and less banana taste, because, in case you didn’t know already, I DON’T LIKE BANANAS!!!!

Also, if you notice that little stainless steel straw in the smoothie below? I. LOVE. THOSE. THINGS. They have a wider mouth (which is better for drinking smoothies and milkshakes) AND they keep it so cold. I bought them here, and I will put the pic and link at the end of this post. We use them for everything because they are awesome!

STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE

Makes: 2 servings

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana, sliced, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • honey to taste

Instructions:
  1. Combine frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, yogurt and milk
  2. Blend well in blender/smoothie maker
  3. Add honey to taste
  4. Enjoy!

*If you do not have a frozen banana, add 1/2 cup more yogurt and a handful of ice.

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So, go try this smoothie and let me know how you like it! My family thought it was a for sure hit! And you can add anything to it. If you add a protein powder or energy mix, just add it in and blend it!

Happy Smoothie Making,

Jennifer

 
 

6 Ways to Create Healthy Habits for Your Kids

When I first had my kids, I really had no clue what I was doing (but I guess don't we all have no clue)? Well, when it came time to start feeding them, I felt like that is one thing I could handle. I had been in school for five years and was working as a dietitian at WIC (Women's Infants and Children). I did nutrition education all day everyday, for pregnant women, infants, children and postpartum women. I mean, what else did I need?

Read More

6 Gift Ideas for a Teenage Girl, AND They Can Be Here by Christmas!

 

It December 14th and you still have a few gifts to buy (or more than a few if you’re like me!), and you don’t have time to head out into the wonderful world of shopping at the mall…..AND teenagers are some of the HARDEST people to buy for!!! Well, here I have 6 gift ideas for a teenage girl AND if you order them now, they will be here for Christmas! So, enjoy!

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1 TOUCHSCREEN GLOVES // 2 VELVET HAIR TIES 
 
3 BUN/PONY BEANIE // 4 HOOD JACKETS 
5 APPLE WATCH BAND //6 MAKE UP BRUSH KIT

So go ahead and get to shopping so no time is wasted!

Happy Shopping,

Jennifer

 

12 Dessert Ideas That Will Save You Time and Money During the Holidays

No holiday meal would be complete without a decadent dessert or two for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, there are a number of affordable and easy ones you can make at home so you don’t spend a fortune at the bakery.

 
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1. Pumpkin Pie

This is a traditional favorite that makes the most of the autumn pumpkin harvest. Buy pumpkins from a farm, cut in half, roast until tender, and scoop out the pumpkin puree. Each pumpkin should yield several cups, or you can purchase pumpkin pie filling at your local grocery store. 

2. Pumpkin Bread / Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin is very moist and makes a great cake or loaf. You can make it as spicy as you like to suit your taste. You could also frost or glaze it to make it look more festive.

3. Apple Pie

Make the most of the harvest in the orchards with a traditional apple pie. Make a lattice crust and serve with a dollop of cream or ice cream on the side. Making it from scratch means adjusting the seasonings as you like, and you can add raisins, cranberries and more to make it really festive.

4. Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is another healthy but filling dessert option which makes the most of the autumn harvest. Add raisins for sweetness and a cream cheese frosting and some nuts to dress it up.

 
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5. Apple Crumble / Apple Crisp

Instead of a buttery pie crust, use brown sugar, flour and spices as a crumble topping. An apple crisp uses oats. Both are very filling and great with cream or ice cream.

6. Pecan Pie


This classic Southern favorite is festive and tasty. Pecans can be expensive, however, so buy in bulk online. This is one that my husband loves, and I tend to make it more around Thanksgiving and Christmas, because pecans are falling from the trees and readily available. Sometimes I like to make little individual pies, and that is the real favorite!

7. Sweet Potato Pie

This is another classic Southern favorite that is similar to pumpkin pie, but uses yams and their natural sweetness for the pie filling. Making it from scratch means you can season it as you wish.

 
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8. Cheesecake

Cheesecake works well on its own, with chocolate, and with any fruit topping you like. Buy the cream cheese when it is on sale. You can also lighten things up by adding sour cream. There are so many variations of cheesecake, you can't go wrong with this dessert.

9. Chocolate Pie

Chocolate pie is a simple either custard base or pudding-like base with either meringue or whipped cream on top. This is another favorite with my family!

10. Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This is a very festive-looking cake thanks to the topping of bright yellow pineapple rings with red maraschino cherries in the center of each ring. Buy canned pineapple and yellow cake mix when it is on sale at your local supermarket.

 
 
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11. Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue is a combination of an easy lemon custard and a sugary meringue on top. The meringue will require quite a few egg whites, but eggs are inexpensive. Plan another dessert like bread pudding to help use up the unwanted egg yolks from this recipe.

12. Angel Food Cake

This is a light, fluffy cake that gets its texture from egg whites. It is low in calories and an ideal pairing with most fruits.

Home-made desserts are not just less expensive, they are often more delicious than the bought option too. If your family is like mine, we have our favorites, and they are expected to be served at Thanksgiving! Use these ideas to give your guests a real Thanksgiving treat after their wonderful meal.

Happy Desserting,

Jennifer

RELATED POSTS:

Smart Ideas to Elevate Your Drink Making Skills During the Holidays

One of the main things that can help round out a Thanksgiving feast is a good assortment of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There are several ways to offer a variety of drinks and save money if you are prepared to spend the time and effort.

 
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Soft Drinks

Soft drinks such as Coke or Pepsi, Sprite or Seven-Up, are popular at the holidays - especially with children. Buy them at a warehouse club or when the supermarkets have them on sale. I also recommend staying away from the canned ones. They tend to get opened and left sitting around to go flat and basically wasted.

Mixers

Sodas that mix with other drinks include seltzer, club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, and so on. Seltzer is well-suited to making wine spritzers, which can lower the cost of each drink you serve your guests. Ginger Ale is a great beverage to put in a punch, whether it be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, it gives it that extra fizz of refreshment!

 
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Fruit Juice

Cranberry juice is a must at Thanksgiving. Orange juice is good for cooking and drinking. Apple juice is also a standard all year round, but particularly in the autumn. Apple cider, which is thicker and cloudier, is ideal for hot apple cider with spices. Look for large bottles of apple juice or bottles of cider at a warehouse club or the supermarket.

Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate

These drinks are a nice way to end the meal. They are also tasty with your dessert course. Avoid single cup coffee makers. Buy grounds and make them in a conventional pot. Use loose leaf tea for more flavor and less chemicals. 

Make your own hot chocolate using real milk and cocoa powder. Add a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick if you wish, and a dollop of whipped cream. You can control how much sugar you put in compared with boxed mixes, and your own homemade cocoa will usually work out more cheaply as well. You can also use non-dairy nut milks if you prefer, such as almond or cashew.

The coffee and tea can also be as a base for iced tea and iced coffee.

 
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Milk and Cream

You will most likely need these in a range of recipes. You will also need more milk for coffee, tea, and cocoa. If you have guests staying in your home, you will probably need even more for beverages, cereal, and so on, especially if you have small children visiting. Buy these in bulk at a warehouse club.

Nut Milks

These are useful for anyone who is lactose intolerant or vegan. Choose from soy, rice, almond, oat and more. Look in your supermarket, warehouse clubs or buy in bulk online.

Shopping Apps

Some shopping apps actually give you a discount for the wine and spirits you purchase. Two worth registering with are Checkout 51 and Ibotta.

Happy Drink Making,

Jennifer

RELATED POSTS:

10 Ideas to Help You Become the Side Dish Queen at Your Thanksgiving Dinner!

One of the best things about a Thanksgiving meal is often the side dishes that go with it. They add color, taste, texture and variety on the plate and they are also a really good way to save money. Plan on serving 4 to 8 ounces of turkey to your guests, but let them load their plates and fill their stomachs with inexpensive side dishes. I love to bring side dishes to our potluck Thanksgiving. And, I love to eat the ones everyone else brings! Here are some great ideas for side dishes that won't break the bank!

 
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1. Flaky Biscuits

Biscuits are great as a bread on the side and perfect for mopping up gravy. They are warm, filling, and the smell when they bake really says it is holiday time. If you can make biscuits from scratch...more power to you. I am a frozen biscuit or canned biscuit kind of girl (especially when I am preparing a BIG meal).

2. Cornbread

Cornbread is another cheap, easy and filling option. Bake up a few pans of it to use as is, or in other recipes. Use any leftovers at breakfast the next morning. Cornbread is a staple in our cornbread dressing here in the South.

 
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3. Cornbread Stuffing

You can also make stuffing using your own homemade cornbread. Cut it into cubes, toast them, and then cook as you would bread stuffing. If you aren't into making homemade cornbread, it's ok to use the mix and help you get a little further with your preparations. Cornbread mix is not expensive at all. This is what I bring to Thanksgiving at my sister's house and it is a crowd pleaser!

4. Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberry sauce is easy to make. When making it yourself, you can adjust the sugar, add orange or apple juice for natural sweetness, and so on. If you choose to use the canned cranberry sauce, it is on sale always around the holidays.

5. Sweet Potatoes/Yams

This cheerful orange vegetable is very cheap and will go a long way towards filling up your guests. Cook in the microwave like a baked potato and top with some brown sugar or cinnamon, or boil up a pot to mash for a sweet potato casserole. 

To the mashed sweet potato, add milk, butter, brown sugar and/or maple syrup, and cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake and eat as is, or add a layer of marshmallows to the top and cook until just brown and puffy. Some people do a crunchy topping that is to die for. 

 
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6. Bread Stuffing

Bread stuffing is a great way to use up any stale bread you might have. Make sure it is dry, not moldy. Mix with herbs. Add onions, celery and broth and you have a filling dish to stuff a whole turkey with, or serve on the side.

7. Corn/Corn on the Cob

Corn is very filling, and eating from the cob can be a lot of fun. You can also eat with a little butter, or make your own homemade creamed corn with milk. I like to cut the corn off of the cob and fry it in a skillet with a little butter, salt and pepper...OMG...My sister make a corn casserole that I look forward to every year and it is quick and easy too.

8. Green Bean Casserole

This is a staple on many American holiday tables. Most people make it using canned cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans and a can of French-fried onions. These items are all readily accessible and inexpensive at your local grocery store. If you choose to make them with fresh green beans, that's awesome too! I also bring this to my sister's house and to my in-laws every year. One year I thought maybe they were all tired of it, so I skipped it....won't EVER do that again! I had some family members unhappy with me. Basically, don't fix it if it ain't broke.

9. Potatoes au Gratin

If you want something a bit more elegant for your holiday table, slice up the potatoes thinly and cook them in a creamy cheese sauce.

 
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10. Baked Potatoes/Mashed Potatoes

Nothing could be easier than some baked Idaho potatoes with butter, sour cream and chives, or cheese. They are cheap and filling, and add a restaurant-touch to your homemade meal. If you are more of a mashed potato family, just mash them while they are hot and add your butter, salt and milk to them and voila'! Mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.

So whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or attending a potluck Thanksgiving, these are some great ideas of side dishes that are inexpensive and easy. Add them to your list of goodies to bring or serve and I promise, your guests (or you) will leave with a happy tummy!

Happy Side Dish Making,

Jennifer

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