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.


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.


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,



Michelle and Stephanie

Stephen (left) and Michael (right)

Stephen (left) and Michael (right)


I was the baby of the family for 8 years...and when I say baby....I. WAS. THE. BABY.! I literally was attached to my mother's leg. I'm telling you this so you will understand this story I'm about to tell..... It was June 1980, I was almost 8, my brother Lester, was 11, and my sister Tracy was 13. We were watching Lester Jr. play baseball at City Park and my mom and dad choose to drop a big old bomb on me...oh I'm sorry, two bombs! Dad says, "Jen, we have some great news to tell you!" I'm thinking 'oh we're going for ice cream, we are getting a puppy, maybe a vacation'?...."You are going to get a little brother or sister around December." My eyes got huge (I just know it) and I said, "Oh my gosh you're adopting a baby? I am so excited. Can it be big? Get we get it when it can walk and talk!"......Dad says, "No, you're mom is going to have a baby!".....and my screams were heard around the world!! "WHAT??!!! NOOOOO, I'M THE BABY, I'M MOM'S BABY, SHE DOESN'T NEED ANOTHER BABY!"  

I guess eventually I calmed down, and at some point we found out Mom was having twins (oh, like this could get any better-sarcasm is my specialty)! As if I hadn't had enough WONDERFUL news, Mom had a sonogram and they told her they were pretty sure it was girls.....ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My life was over as I knew it....all 8 years of it!

So, imagine my surprise when on November 18, 1980, Michael and Stephen arrived!!! This totally turned everything around...two boys...instead of two girls??? I was ecstatic! And since then, I have taken care of them, entertained them, tortured them, and loved them.  It's like I had my own little baby dolls to take care of. When they came home from the hospital, I shared a room with them. One crib was at the foot of my bed and one was across from it against the wall. When Mom would come in at night to feed them, sometimes, I would take one of them and give them a bottle...and sometimes I slept through the entire thing. My sister and I always had friends over and they would help us babysit them. It's like they were our little toys (a lot of my friends still talk about helping us take care of those boys). 

They are 38 years old today and I could not be more proud of them! They are both married to awesome women, and they both became fathers for the first time this year....and they are fantastic dads! Chad and I have two girls and people always ask me if I'm sad I didn't have any boys and I ALWAYS answer them, "no, I've had my two boys!" And, to this day I call them Michelle and Stephanie, because you know, they were supposed to be girls.....:)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL AND STEPHEN!!! Love you bunches! So happy Mom and Dad didn't adopt!....and that you were boys!

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.


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!


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,



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.


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.


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,



6 Main Dish Ideas for your Thanksgiving Dinner Instead of the Basic Turkey (or in addition to)!

The main course will usually be the most expensive part of your Thanksgiving meal, apart from alcohol. Being prepared can help you save money no matter what you decide to serve and what your family and guests prefer. Or, sometimes you just want some variety in your meal or to have some extra meat! In any case, here are 6 main dish ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey-or, in addition to your turkey!

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The Ultimate Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner Guide: 12 tips to pull your meal off like a pro

Thanksgiving is 10 days away....oh my. I feel like it snuck up on me...but I have had a ton going on, so maybe that's why? Anyway, some people host the entire Thanksgiving dinner at their home and provide all the food, drinks, everything....well, in my family and my husband's family, we all bring something (1 or 2 things) and it's one big potluck dinner. And, I LOVE it that way. There are certain things that people bring, that I look forward to every year....and I remind them...."you are bringing the sweet potato casserole right?"! 

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A Beginners Guide to Bullet Journaling - Easy Tips to Start Your Bullet Journal

Have you wanted to try bullet journaling but think it will be too hard or that you won't be good at it? Amen, Sister! So, about two months ago, I kind of took notice to this Bullet Journal craze. First thing I thought was "this looks really neat, but I am not artistic AT ALL"! My youngest daughter, Emily, is very artistic, so I immediately told her I thought she would be great at it. It took 0.75 seconds for her to say "Oh, no! That does not look like fun! That looks like work!" And, I laughed because I was thinking she was so right!!! 

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5 Day "Clean Enough" Eating Challenge

So, my birthday was September 17th, then my youngest daughter's birthday was September 26, my mother-in-law's birthday was October 8, my dad's birthday was October 11, my boss's birthday was October 15, Boss's Day was October 16, and my oldest daughters birthday was October 19! To say that I have been eating terribly is an understatement! I have had so much junk and so much cake, that I literally am miserable. I have never been one to jump on the "clean eating" train....just because I love all of the food you AREN'T supposed to eat! But, y'all, I am miserable. I haven't gained any weight because if I ate the junk and cake I didn't each much else, so my body is probably in MAJOR distress. Anyway, I'm going to take the next 5 days and try to eat wayyyy better than I have been over the past month! And the reason I say "clean enough" is because I am not naive enough to think that I can go the next 5 days with NO sugar. I AM going to drastically cut back. I love milk and just can't see myself not drinking milk (and I eat cereal everyday for lunch, so that would be difficult)!. But, just cutting out the chocolate and junk that I eat will hopefully make a BIG difference. We shall see.

Who wants to join me? Anyone up for 5 days? If you want to do this with me for the next 5 days, go ahead sign up below! When you sign up, I will send you a "Clean Enough" Eating Shopping List and you will be able to keep up with what's going on! Even if you can't start today, you can start a day or two behind! I have convinced my 17 year old daughter to join me, so this is going to be fun fun! :) 

So go sign up below, get you “clean enough” eating shopping list, it will at least be entertaining! :))

Happy “Clean Enough” Eating,


A Healthy Halloween - and the Satisfaction of Knowing That Your Kids Will Never Know It!

Halloween is coming and I think as moms, it crosses our minds that our kids may make themselves sick on all of the candy that they MAY eat! Well, what if I told you that maybe you can make Halloween a little healthier (those two words really don't even go together!) for your kids. I have a couple of ideas to get you through the night and hopefully keep your kids off of the super charged sugar train!

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Halloween Treats That Are Sure to Satisfy All of Your Ghosts, Skeletons and Witches

Halloween is coming and y'all I love Halloween...you know why? Well, if you know anything about me, it's the candy!!! I love, love, love candy corn. Like eat bags of it all of September and October. And a Reese's pumpkin....o.m.g. just leave me alone with it because it requires 100% of my attention! You know you were a true trick-or-treater when you can remember suffering through that plastic mask with holes for the eyes, mouth, and nose with an elastic band on the back so your hair could get good and caught up in it.....and by the way, what genius put a little bitty horizontal line for your mouth when the whole point was to eat candy the whole night!?! And the costume was basically you, dressed in your regular clothes, with a plastic something (costume) wrapped and tied behind your back. Oh, good times.

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Keep Your Pantry Stocked With These Essentials

The holidays are coming and what better time to make sure that your pantry is stocked and you are ready to cook! I love the holidays and I so look forward to cooking for my family. What I don't like is getting my mind set on cooking something and not having everything I need to prepare it on hand. Or, in the middle of something, and not having what I need to prepare it. So, I have gathered a list of essentials that you should stock your pantry with you’ll be ready to get cooking!

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