St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! This holiday makes me want to indulge in one of my all-time favorite treats… the oh-so-delicious Shamrock Shake. You don’t have to swing by your local fast food joint to indulge though because I have the recipe to this one and you can indulge in it for a fun family night treat any night of the week.
I am SO excited for one of my favorite times of the year, fall! While I enjoy every season and the special things we like to do in each, there’s something about the falling leaves and the cooling temperatures – and the fun holidays we get to celebrate – that makes the autumn months some of my absolute favorites.
And I’m here to admit that one of the reasons I look forward to the fall is all the fabulous flavored hot drinks I can enjoy again during the cold weather! You know I’m a coffee girl, and adding flavor to coffee is probably one of the greatest inventions ever in my book! I’ve rounded up some of my favorite hot drinks I’ve created as well as a few others I’ve found that I can’t wait to try.
Back-to-school means back to the grind of packing lunches. Today I wanted to share a healthy alternative to juice boxes and recipes for creating a fun fruit-infused water for those lunches this year. Fruit infused waters are frugal, fun, and a healthy alternative to the traditional juice box.
Walmart challenged me to come up with an easy back-to-school project and packing a healthy lunch is always a top priority in our house. You may recall my fun lunch box station that I created in our house just for this reason? I am happy to say that this lunchbox system is still performing so well in our house and I am looking forward to packing lunches with it again.
What is Fruit-Infused Water?
Have you ever infused water before? It truly could not be easier and you can mix up any flavors that you love and personalize these to your own personal taste. Pictured above are some mix-in ideas we tried in our house. We purchased mint, basil, berries, limes, oranges, and lemons to create different flavor combinations for fun fruit waters. We like to keep things simple with just plain water, but you can also make it a little sweet with a little liquid stevia.
Seltzer can also be a fun switch-up, but carbonated drinks are always a gamble in our lunchbox, since they tend to get a lot of shaking and movement on the way to school!
Fruit-infused water is best enjoyed after two-four hours or after it has had a chance to infuse overnight. The length of time it lasts depends entirely on the type of fruit and herbs you use. Basil, for example, only lasts for three days while heartier varieties like rosemary or thyme can last up to seven days.
You can reuse the same fruit and add another batch of fresh water over it once you have gone through your first batch. The fruit can be used (typically) up to three times, but it will also depend on the freshness of the fruits you are using. If the fruit starts to look bad, it’s best to toss it and start with a fresh batch.
Citrus fruits are best cut fresh for your batches because the rind can add bitterness to your fruit-infusions. I like to keep my lemons, limes, and oranges fresh for that reason while reusing my berries for several batches.
It is really a matter of preference though and once you get the hang of making your own batches of fruit-infused water you will have a better idea of timelines.
Fruit Infused Water Combinations
The beauty of making your own infused waters is that you can create any combination that your heart desires and add as little or as much fruits and herbs into your drink as you like! Get inspired by the fruits and herbs that are on sale that week in the supermarket flier to help inspire new combinations and keep your fruit-infused waters frugal!
If the recipe calls for muddling, it just means bruising your fruit or herbs to release the flavors. I just use a wooden spoon for this.
Here are a few of our favorite combinations we tried:
If you have been a reader of mine or have checked out my book, “The Good Life for Less,” I am sure you are familiar with our easy homemade slushies recipe that we use throughout the summer months. Making your own slushies is fun, frugal, and a sweet summertime pastime for my kids. In fact, as soon as school got out, they asked if they could have mom’s infamous homemade slushies to celebrate their last day of school.
The great thing about our easy KOOL-AID slushies is that you can make a different batch every time. We love trying new flavors and now you can find fun ones like watermelon, mixed berry, and even strawberry kiwi.
I am always tweaking my recipes and have tried everything from sugar-free Kool-Aid to make slushies (they did not turn out for us) to reducing the sugar in our slushies to see if the kids notice a taste difference. We decided to drop the sugar to a 1/2 cup in our batch (originally 2/3 cup) and we found that we didn’t notice a big taste difference, but I felt better about sharing this treat with my kids with the lower sugar content.
Do You Have a KOOL-AID Creation To Share?
KOOL AID is working with the Nickelodeon boy band, Big Time Rush (BTR) during their 2013 summer concert tour and would love if you uploaded a unique “KOOL AID Creation” to participate in their fun summertime contest! Perhaps, you can create your very own slushie creation or other fun project with KOOL-AID?
Walmart shoppers who purchase $6 worth of KOOL AID products can upload an image of their Walmart receipt to the free Shoparoo app on their smart phone or to Shoparoo.com. You will receive a unique code for an exclusive ticket price of $50 for (4) four on Big Time Rush tickets. The ticket purchase can be made at Walmart Ticket Master kiosks, Ticket Master online or through Ticket Master phone orders.
Winners will receive (2) VIP tickets to one of the 37 BTR concerts this summer and an autographed BTR KOOL AID tee , Meet & Greet including photo with the Band.
How fun is that?
We don’t just love our slushies though, I had to showcase these adorable double-insulated mason travel mugs that Walmart has over in their seasonal section of their store. Our slushies stayed super cold and there were no worries about slushie spills. I ended up buying four of them for myself, so I could sip a little iced cold iced tea or iced coffee on my patio this summer!
In the summer I am always looking for fun summer cocktails to share with my girlfriends and this blueberry sangria lemonade is the perfect summer drink to share with a good friend. You won’t believe how easy this blueberry sangria lemonade is to create and just how easy it is to drink…well, you might believe that last part of the sentence. This drink just screams summer, backyard fun, and begs to be enjoyed poolside.
Each month Walmart is challenging me to create a recipe using one of their produce items. Last month I tackled strawberries with a fun baked strawberry doughnut recipe and this month it is all about the blueberries with this easy blueberry sangria lemonade recipe.
Blueberries are one of our favorite summer fruits and we love to enjoy our summer bounty all year long. A few years ago I started freezing my berries in a different way using the Cook’s Illustrated method for freezing my berries and I can’t rave enough about how much better my frozen berries taste. You should definitely add this to your summer to-do list this year.
As we await our annual berry picking season, I wanted to offer some advice for selecting the perfect berries at the supermarket. Be sure to select a package of firm, plump berries with an indigo blue color and a silvery white frost. Avoid any with a green or red tint, which indicates under ripe berries. You will want to make sure there are no juice stains at the bottom of the carton or moldy or crushed berries buried inside of the cartons as well when selecting those berries.
Now that you have the perfect berries, you can start incorporating them in this easy sangria. All of the ingredients can be found at your local Walmart store. I recommend mixing this one up the night before your gathering to really allow the flavors to incorporate together and for the best flavor.
You don’t have to splurge on the wine on this one, but make sure that you buy one that you would enjoy drinking. I love the budget-friendly and always delicious, Barefoot Chardonnay for this recipe because it fits sweetly in my budget and really tastes great for an affordable wine.
If you grow mint in your garden, this is another fun drink to add a little mint to for fresh flavor. And don’t forget, that mint can be put to good use in our Perfect Mojito recipe too in those long and hot summer months!
Bloody Mary drinks trump a Mimosa any day in my book thanks to their rich tomato flavor and addition of everything in your pantry and spice cabinet. Today’s recipe is for an easy Bloody Mary Mix that you can create with items you probably already have in your home. This Bloody Mary Mix can be enjoyed with vodka or without and garnished with delicious green olives and celery stalks for stirrers.
Thanks to the kiddos being in school during the day, my husband and I have been enjoying day dates instead where we can save on the babysitter and I have more time to really enjoy being leisurely in the kitchen.
I decided one week to test a variety of breakfast recipes from our French Breakfast Donuts to these Quinioa Berry Breakfast Bowls to the Bloody Mary, and my husband took the day off so we could sit around and brunch all day long while watching a movie on the television at home.
It was an inexpensive date that yielded breakfast treats and snacks all week long and tasted far better than anything we would enjoy when dining out. The bonus was that I never left my pajamas. Doesn’t everything taste better when you are in your pajamas?
I am a little picky about my Bloody Mary so it can be a gamble when dining out if the Bloody Mary will be to my liking. I like it spicy, but not too spicy. I also like a little bit of seasoning, but I don’t like it to be gritty. This Bloody Mary mix is my favorite because it has just the right balance of spices, heat, and has a good balance of flavors, especially when left overnight in the fridge so that the flavors can all blend well together.
I hope you can give this Bloody Mary Mix a try! It is a great recipe to have tucked away for your next brunch especially since a big batch can be made the day before along with an overnight strata or quiche. This is effortless entertaining, truly at it’s finest!
I love, love, love breakfast tarts and today I wanted to share with you a cute homemade whole wheat toasted tart version of this delicious treat that you can make right in your own kitchen. This recipe for whole wheat toasted tarts is so delicious that you won’t believe how much yum can be packed into one little treat.
These whole wheat toasted tarts incorporate a little whole wheat flour and in lieu of a frosting topping, I have mixed raw sugar & wheat germ for a sweet and toasty combination of deliciousness that is a little bit healthier than sprinkles and frosting (although we do love sprinkles and frosting around here too!).
I had never eaten a homemade toasted tart before and can I say…holy yum?! These are flaky, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and just the right balance of filling and crust.
I hit my local Walmart store to grab supplies for this yummy treat. They offer absolutely delicious gourmet Bonne Maman fruit preserves that have become a special treat in our house for everything from waffle topping to my kid’s peanut butter & jellies. They retail for $3.95 each and come in delicious berry combinations, strawberry, cherry, and wild blueberry. One of these days I will get the hang of canning, but for now, these are my go-to preserves and make a delicious filling for homemade toasted tarts.
Just like my all butter pie crust (you can check out a picture tutorial over there), I employ the use of my food processor to create an easy crust without the kneading. To make sure I don’t overwork the dough, I only use the Pulse on my food processor so I can make sure that I have a very tender dough. This is really essential for a flaky crust especially since we are creating this dough with whole wheat flour incorporated in it.
You can roll your dough out on a well-floured surface or roll it between two pieces of parchment paper. I highly recommend the parchment paper since this dough is a sticky one!
Did I mention sticky? This dough is a tricky little beast for a novice chef. Refrigeration of your crust is really essential for nice crisp edges and workable dough. The experts advise chilling your dough before using it and then chilling your tarts before you bake them to retain their shape. I do the same tactic with my sugar cookies and it yields crisp results. This will be doubly important if you live somewhere with a humid climate or are working in a hot kitchen.
My advice, chill out!
Seriously, just chill out for as long as you can!
My crunchy & sweet topping is raw sugar mixed with wheat germ. A generous sprinkle of this adds another layer of deliciousness. Although the dough is chock-full of butter (as all good crusts are!), there is very little sugar in the dough itself and the raw sugar adds a crunchy texture as well as a little sweetness to this homemade delight.
These little toasty tarts were meant to be cut in perfect measurements with crisp corners.
I am no baker though, so these are imperfect…
Just like me!
The kids never noticed the difference and busy moms don’t have time for perfection when it comes to snacks.
Can I get an, “Amen?”
Toasted Tart Filling Ideas
Fruit Preserve Filling: 3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam, 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water. Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.
Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Filling: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, & 4 teaspoons flour. Whisk together.
Chocolate Filling: 9 tablespoons mini chocolate chips or 9 tablespoons Nutella. Spread or sprinkle chocolate filling.
Surprise the kids with a homemade version of this favorite breakfast treat. Be sure to visit the post for filling ideas for your homemade whole wheat toasted tarts.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 quarter-pound sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
1 additional large egg (for brushing on the pastry)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
Process flour, sugar, and salt together until combined.
Add butter and pulse until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible.
Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.
Divide the dough in half. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days or for 30 minutes.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes.
Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about ⅛” thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. Laying a 9″ x 13″ pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9″ x 12″ rectangle of dough.
Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you’ve just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll see nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.
Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle.
Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides.
Brush the tops of the pastry with the remainder of the egg and then sprinkle the wheat germ and raw sugar topping on top of your tart.
Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.
Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 25-28 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.
Looking for a fun new way to celebrate Easter? I have the perfect martini for you! Peep Martinis are a fun way to celebrate the season that is sure to be a crowd pleaser! This Peep-tini is an adorable nod to this beloved little candy!
This martini is made with marshmallow fluff vodka, heavy cream, and a vanilla simple syrup. Simple syrup is the easiest way to add flavor to cocktails or coffee drinks and is made from items you already have in your pantry.I love my peppermint syrup for my homemade peppermint mochas and my plain simple syrup for the perfect mojito. It takes only a few minutes to make a simple syrup and is a great little item to have tucked away in your fridge for cocktail or coffee-making!
If you have a dairy sensitivity, the heavy cream can be replaced with your favorite dairy substitute like vanilla almond milk, thick and rich coconut milk, or even rice milk for a more mild flavor. They all will taste absolutely delicious and paired with the vanilla vodka, it feels a little like you are cheating!
A fun spin on an Easter martini utilizing the infamous Peep candy for garnish.
1-1/2 ounces fluffed marshmallow vodka
½ ounce vanilla syrup, plus extra for rim
1 ounce cream
To make vanilla syrup: 1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.
Stir in the vanilla extract.
Cool to room temperature and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to three months.
Pour a small amount of vanilla syrup onto one plate and sprinkle sugar onto another plate. Dip rim of glass in syrup and then into sugar to coat.
Put vodka, syrup and cream in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Strain into glass.
Adorn with a Peep.
I highly recommend enjoy that cocktail while gazing at your beautiful Peep Wreath that is decorating your door. You can’t beat a Peep show like that!
The fun started with me today, but you can catch our projects all week long! Have a fun Spring project you have been working on? Be sure to add your Spring projects on Friday, March 22nd at 8 a.m. CST…on any of our blogs. So…mark your calendars! The fun starts on Monday, March 18th! And add your Spring projects on Friday, March 22nd at 8 a.m. CST…see you there!! This is another great link-up like our Valentine’s Day link-up that was such a success in February so start thinking about your favorite Spring projects you would like to share.
If there is one thing I happen to be famous for around here, it is my ability to make a delicious Fall drink for myself and my friends. Last year I was on a quest to recreate all of my favorite Starbucks drinks and I manged to recreate all of my favorites and keep a little extra money in the bank this year.
Here are a few of my favorite Fall drinks that have been on MomAdvice over the years!
There was a whole lot of latte loving last year on the blog. I hope you didn’t miss it! The latte loving all began with this drink and recreating my favorite pumpkin treat at Starbucks. I can happily say that I rarely ordered one of these this fall thanks to this handy little recipe. It’s nice to know when Starbucks pulls a drink off of their menu, I can still get my midday fix.
My new favorite drink at Starbucks is their Salted Caramel Mocha Latte. One sip of this delicious goodness had me daydreaming about how I could replicate this delicious salty caramel goodness at home. Coffee drinking is, after all, one of my favorite hobbies, but a girl has to do it on a budget. A DIY version of this Salted Caramel Mocha Latte was definitely in order.
Although not a Fall drink, I feel gingerbread flavors are still so fabulous anytime the weather gets chilly! This drink tastes like gingerbread itself and is filled with ginger, molasses, and cinnamon within the gingerbread syrup you create for your latte.
Truth be told, the Peppermint Mocha is still one of my all-time favorite drinks at Starbucks…but… once I started making these at home, I am not loving the Starbucks version as much as my homemade version. This post offers a recipe for a simple peppermint syrup that you can add to your drinks and keep on hand in your fridge whenever the Peppermint Mocha Latte urge hits you. These are so delicious and one of my favorite recipes on our site.
A good cocoa mix is harder to make than it might seem. I like my hot chocolate to be the right balance of creamy and chocolate goodness. It needs to be yummy enough on it’s own, but also be able to endure loads and loads of whipped cream and marshmallows.
After trying and testing many variations in our house, we have determined that this is the best cocoa mix of all. It is the perfect ratio of everything and can make a fabulous gift to give to someone special in your life.
My favorite warm drink is chai tea. The drink mixes are expensive, but mixing up a batch of this yourself can help to keep your pockets nice and warm with a little extra money. Most of the spices, dry creamer, and dry milk are already stocked in my pantry. Once you try this, you will never buy those expensive mixes again!
Looking for a warm Fall drink that you can enjoy with a great movie? We decided to give a butterbeer latte a spin in our kitchen ad we absolutely love them. These lattes taste a little like cocoa, a little like a cookie, and a whole lot like butterscotch. My kids couldn’t get enough of these and it was a fun one to have them help me in the kitchen with.
What is your favorite Fall drink recipe you have tried from our site? Have any of these recipes become a yearly tradition for your families? I would love to hear from you!
As I begin creating new recipes for the site, I wanted to showcase a few of my favorite dishes that have been on our site in years past for the fall. Fall just so happens to be my favorite season and coincidentally, Fall foods and drinks happen to be my favorite type of sips & dishes.
Here is a list of a few of my favorite Fall foods that I can’t wait to eat this year!
Few things say fall is here to me like the delicious flavor of roast turkey. While many think of roasting a turkey as only a routine done on Thanksgiving, I think of roasting a turkey as an easy weeknight dish that can be turned into delicious packed sandwiches for my kid’s lunchboxes and a lifesaver for busy weeknights when I don’t feel like cooking. You will love this easy (and frugal) technique for a great weeknight turkey sandwich!
Nothing says the Fall like a great beef stew. This stew is so rich and decadent, because of the use of bacon in this stew. The bacon fat is what all of the vegetables get coated in for cooking and then the cooked bacon is set aside for crumbling on top of the stew once it comes out of the oven. I filled the broth with red wine and beef broth, to create a rich and flavorful broth that will have your whole family begging for more!
For a family that never liked soup, we have become the family with a soup night in our weekly rotation. Visit the link above to access my absolute favorite soups- an easy weeknight chicken noodle, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, our Pesto Chicken Tortellini, and so much more! If that isn’t enough soup for you this year, you must try my homemade tomato soup. It will change any negative feelings you might have about tomato soup- I promise!
My family does not like apple pie (weird, I know!), but they do really love my apple pie muffins that incorporate those delicious flavors of the apple pie with a simple crumb topping. If you happen to have an abundance of apples on hand, I highly recommend giving these apple muffins a try
The batter is sweet, but not too sweet, and the apples have a warmness to them thanks to the cooked apple and the cinnamon that is worked into the crumb topping and within the muffin itself. Serve these up with a big glass of milk and you have the makings of a perfect snack!
These pork chops are a satisfyingly sweet and savory dish that pairs ingredients that I typically have around our house. The brown sugar and cinnamon sauce adds a delicious glaze to this perfectly cooked pork. Baking the pork helps it to achieve the perfect temperature and I believe you will be stunned at what a tender and juicy pork chop this recipe yields!
I love baking donuts and these Baked Apple Pie Donuts are the perfect treat to make for your family! The dominate flavor in this one is definitely the apple followed by the earthy and nutty flavor of ground nutmeg that helps round out the flavor profile of these donuts. Once these delicate donuts are done baking, they are brushed lightly with butter and then dipped into a cinnamon and sugar coating that helps bring all of those delicious fall flavors together and that little bit of gritty, yummy crunch that just so happens to be my favorite thing about donuts.
One of my favorite combinations for fall eating is cheddar and apples. If you haven’t tried this before, it is the perfect balance of sweet and savory and they all come together in this easy & delicious dip. Diced on top is a mixture of red and green apples that have been tossed with brown sugar, cinnamon, and coarsely chopped walnuts. The layer underneath offers a surprise of cheddar cheese mixed with cream cheese and sour cream, cooked until hot and bubbly. Serve with your favorite cinnamon chip or cracker.
I wanted to figure out a way to use the leftover cans of pumpkin we had from our Thanksgiving feasting last year, and I decided to create my very own Baked Pumpkin Donuts with a Maple Syrup Frosting that would be the perfect use for the pumpkin leftover. What started as a way to use up leftover pumpkin is now worked into our fall activities and this year my kids will be enjoying these with big mugs of homemade hot cocoa on our little front step outside when we do our raking this year.
These are flavorful and almost like a glass of wine, you can taste all the different flavors as you eat them. You can taste the hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, the rich pumpkin flavor, and then that maple syrup sweetness from the light glaze drizzle. The texture is different than a fried donut and more like a muffin or a good piece of cake. They are not overly sweet though and the pumpkin really seems to add a savory quality to these.
I can’t tell you how many of my friends have made my pumpkin pasta a part of their fall routines. It is one of those dishes that surprises me about just how much it is loved!
Have you ever tried pumpkin pasta? Over the years this dish has become the most favorite dish for fall and one bite of this will tell you why! The kids think it looks like macaroni and cheese so it does not take much coaxing to get them to try a bite. My husband loves the turkey sausage and the meaty flavor of this dish. Me? I just love the creamy pumpkin taste in my mouth!
If you are worried about how your family will react to pumpkin pasta, scale the pumpkin back. You can do between 2/3-2 cups of pasta, depending on your personal taste. Start with a little and ease your family into the two cup ratio.