More Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Karen from Abundance on a Dime has two great recipes for last minute gifts!  Cracker Toffee (pictured above) and Chocolate Barks!  Yum!

Have you got an expectant mom on your list?  How about a recipe for Belly Butter from Keeper of the Home?

Cookie Dough Truffles…yes please!  Don’t they look delicious?

Here’s a great idea for a kid’s gift!  Gingerbread playdough from Creative Juices!

These snack bags from Angry Chicken would be a breeze to sew!  Maybe you could fill them with some treats?

This is so pretty!  For the tea cup and candle lover on your list!

This just looks divine!  Tidy Mom has a recipe for Cinnamon Honey Butter!

Last-Minute Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

There always seems to be the need for a last-minute gift around Christmas time. From that impromtu Saturday night dinner to the appy party on Sunday, there’s always a host to give a cute gift to! Check out these easy and inspiring last minute homemade Christmas gift ideas:

Here’s a great recipe for Vanilla Sugar!  (And some other cute ideas)

Kelleigh Ratzlaff shows us how to make a wonderful Sugar Scrub!  She even has instructions on how to make the neat box pictured in the above photo.

I think that this S’mores Kit is just the neatest idea!

Sunset magazine has four different recipes for homemade hot chocolate in a jar!  Great idea!

I know some girlfriends that would love some homemade body oil and body dusting powder!

These crock-pot Sugared Cinnamon Almonds would look great in a glass canning jar!

I’m liking this gift idea for Year Round Yum!  Each time the recipient empties the contents, they’re entitled to a refill!

Now I think this is a genius idea for disguising a gift card you’re giving!

Have you got any great last-minute gift ideas you could share?  Send your idea or post to me here!

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies

rudolph peanut butter cookies

We love peanut butter cookies in this house.  Any time of the year actually!  Since it’s Christmas time and all, I thought I’d jazz up some ordinary cookies and turn them into Rudolph cookies!  Cute right?  They taste especially delicious too.  In fact, I think Santa would love to find some of these Rudolph peanut butter cookies on his travels!  Be sure to leave a plate full :)

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup Butter
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 1⅓ cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 48 Red M&M's
  • 96 mini Chocolate Chips
  • Mini Twist Pretzels
Instructions
  1. Break pretzels into pieces to use as antlers.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Cream together peanut butter, butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Slowly add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, beating until incorporated.
  7. Roll into ½-3/4" balls and place on cookie sheet several inches apart.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar and gently make an indentation slightly off the center of each cookie.
  9. Bake 12-14 minutes.
  10. Place an M&M in the indentation of each cookie.
  11. Insert 2 mini chocolate chips (pointy side down) above the M&M to be the eyes.
  12. Insert 2 pretzel pieces to be the antlers. (If the antlers won't stick, place some chocolate chips in a sandwich bag and microwave 30 seconds and knead until soft. Clip the very tip of the corner and pipe onto cookie to act as glue.)

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we do!

Easy Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Now here’s a Christmas fudge recipe that will be great for gift giving!  I think it would pair nicely with this Homemade Peppermint Bark!

I’m afraid I’m getting a reputation for only making easy things, but really, if you have to add extra things to your already full calendar, why spend a lot of time creating?  It’s the thought that counts, right?  Anyways, this recipe is so easy, it only calls for four ingredients. That, my friends, is how you impress on a budget and use minimal effort and time. :)

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 2 packages of 12 oz. Wilton dark chocolate candy melts
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 ½ Cans of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz cans)
  • 6 candy canes, crushed
Instructions
  1. Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Pour the candy melts and the sweetened condensed milk into a large microwave safe dish. Add in the 1 tsp of peppermint extract.
  3. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and stir. Heat for another minute and stir again, heat again in 20 second increments stirring if not completely melted.
  4. Immediately pour the melted mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes (see photo).
  5. Allow the chocolate to cool at room temperature. Once it is cool, place the baking dish in the fridge (covered) to allow the fudge to completely set.
  6. Cut into 12 large squares or 24 mini squares.

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge 2

I sure hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Plan your Food

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

I think this will be a fun week in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series!  It’s all about food! Specifically, we’re going to plan our holiday menus.  You’ll want to think about:

  • Christmas dinner
  • Christmas brunch
  • Christmas eve
  • Boxing day

And well, any meal surrounding Christmas day.  My planning is quite simple.  My parents cook our Christmas brunch and dinner so all I have to do is bring the cheesecake and some baking!

For inspiration, I highly recommend taking a look through Pinterest.

While you’re planning out your dishes, be sure to start adding items to a grocery list.  You don’t want to forget anything!

To help you out, you’ll want to check out the Christmas dinner planner and grocery list that are available in the Holiday Planner, here.

Also be sure to print off the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas checklists to make sure you’re on track for the final week’s until Christmas day!

What will be on your holiday menu?  Leave it in the comments! Any food traditions you have to uphold?  How do you keep on budget?

Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:

christmas dinner

Free December 2014 Monthly Menu Planner

E.H.M.-December-2014-Monthly-Meal-Planner

Download a free Monthly Meal Planner for the entire month of December!  Included in your download you will find all of this:

  • Meal Planner for 12/1/14 – 12/6/14
  • Meal Planner for 12/7/14 – 12/13/14
  • Meal Planner for 12/14/14 – 12/20/14
  • Meal Planner for 12/21/14 – 12/27/14
  • Meal Planner for 12/28/14 – 12/31/14
  • December Flexible Meals
  • December Flexible Meal Calendars
  • December Blank Week
  • Dessert Menu for December 2014
  • Dessert Calendar for December 2014
  • Select E.H.M. Recipes
  • Christmas 2014 Menu
  • Christmas 2014 Dessert Menu
  • December Master Ingredients List
  • Fill In the Blank Ingredients List – Entire Month
  • Fill in the Blank Ingredients List – Weekly
  • Blank Family Shopping List (Food, Sundries, you name it included)
  • Blank Costco Shopping List

Apple Pie in Jars

The idea of having the perfect personal portion of apple pie to pop into the oven is so awesome to me!  I give you...Mini apple pie in jars!

I happen to think that everything made in mini size is really just the best. If you spend any time on Pinterest, I’m sure you’ve read about or heard mention of things baked or served in mason jars. I’ve seen everything from pies, cheesecakes and even quick breads made in mason jars.  The idea of having the perfect personal portion to pop into the oven is so awesome to me! That’s why I decided I needed to give this concept a try.  I give you…Mini apple pie in jars:

Mini Apple Pie in Jars:

  • 6 medium apples, peeled and sliced; I ended up cubing my a bit to make them fit better in my jars.
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 8oz. wide mouth mason jars

Pie Crust Ingredients – You will want to make (2) batches of the crust if making 8 mini pies. You will have some crust left over but it’s better to have more crust than not enough.

  •  1 ½ Cups flour
  • ¼ Cup milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup vegetable oil

Mix all pie crust ingredients and roll out using flour and a rolling pin. You will want to cut the pieces to fit the jars. I actually used the lid ring to cut mine and then pieced them together in the jar. Easy.

ApplePieJar1

Combine the dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add in the apples and stir to coat them well.

Scoop the apple mixture into each pie jar.

ApplePieJar2

Next, cut a few more pieces of pie crust using the lid ring again. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the piece into strips for your lattice top on the pies.

Cris-Cross the crust pieces and gently press down on the edges of the jar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

In no time at all, you’ll have a bunch of little pies ready to go into the oven for yourself or for hostess gifts even.  These little pies can also be place in the freezer unbaked!  All you have to do is create these pies in the jars then screw the lids on and then pop them into the freezer. Next time your sweet tooth strikes, simply take a pie out of the freezer and bake. These would also make a great quick dessert idea to have in your freezer for unexpected dinner guests!

Apple Pie in Jars 2

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

slow cooker spaghetti sauce

Nothing beats a good plate of spaghetti and meat sauce.  It’s a comfort food at it’s finest!  Making a big pot of spaghetti sauce is also a great way to feed a crowd.  Delicious and frugal! While this recipe for slow cooker spaghetti sauce calls for peppers, you could throw in any veggies that you’d like to use up.  Such as a lone carrot or mushrooms.  It’s really flexible.

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe could be made in a big pot, but I prefer the set it and forget it feature of the slow cooker. :) But, you’ll still want to cook up the garlic, onions, beef and sausage before you throw it into the slow cooker. I use this Cuisinart programmable slow cooker, but any slow cooker will do.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup minced Onion
  • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  • Red and Yellow Peppers (stems and seeds removed)
  • 1 Carrot (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • 45 oz Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 24 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium.
  2. Crumble and brown ground beef and sausage, along with onion and garlic.
  3. Drain excess fat.
  4. Place meat mixture into slow cooker.
  5. Add remaining ingredients.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

This recipe could possibly make enough for leftovers that you can freeze!  I love grabbing a “pre-made” meal out of the freezer on busy days.  Simply reheat on the stove.

DIY: Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy

Unfortunately, as the weather gets cooler, cold &  flu season also approaches :( But, I’m going to try to be prepared by keeping this recipe on file!

Visit Nifty Thrifty Things for her recipe for a Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy!

Thanks, Mom :)

How to Meal Prep for a Week

How to meal prep for a week

Preparing meals ahead of time can be a big time and money saver. You’re doing all of your cooking on one day, and will be saving money because you’re only buying the ingredients you know you need.

Cooking all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week, in one day, may seem daunting, but with these tips you’ll be able to meal prep for a week and not have to wonder, “What’s for dinner?” anymore!

Find your recipes. Before even starting the process, you should print out the recipes you will be using for the week. This means printing or writing down recipes for all meals for 7 days. If you will be making snacks, like homemade granola bars or protein bars, print those recipes as well. Now you have a master list of all the ingredients you will need.

Divide up your grocery store list. Go through each recipe and categorize each item. Your grocery list should have sections broken down into protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other. Doing this will make it much easier (and quicker) to find the things you need when you’re at the grocery store.

Buy the right containers. If this is something you will be doing on a regular basis, you want to make sure you have durable containers that are made to last. Don’t skimp out on this.

Cut your vegetables and fruits. Once you’re back from the grocery store, start by chopping up your vegetables and fruits. Organize them by whether you’re using them as a snack or will be using them as ingredients in a meal.

Use the oven. The oven is great for baking meats, potatoes, vegetables and more. Make a list of every item that needs to go in the oven and put it all in. If your oven is going to be on, you might as well cook everything at once!

Use your slow cooker. Many people who meal prep like to make freezer meals. This can be preparing something, like meatballs, and freezing them to cook at a later date, or preparing an entire meal which will then be thawed and cooked. If you have a slow cooker, doing this is especially easy. Take a look at my post 9 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals or you could Google slow cooker freezer meals to find recipes. Even if you don’t want to freeze your meals, you can still prepare all of the ingredients you’ll need and use your slow cooker to cook the meal. It will save you time all week!

Use different seasonings. One can only eat so much plain chicken. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to pick up different seasonings for each meal. Get creative with how you season or marinate your protein options.

Make one huge dish. If you don’t want to prepare 5 different dinner options, you can make enough of one recipe that will last you a few days. Find one you really like and cook it in bulk. If you have meals or items that will last longer than 3 days, put the leftovers in the freezer and cook it when you’re ready.

Make grab and go meals. The last step is to just divide everything up into your containers. Take each meal and put it in a container so it is ready to go for each day of the week.

Meal prep can be a great way to save time throughout the week. Although it may take a full day on the weekend, once you know what meals you’re making and what ingredients you’ll need, you’ll become more efficient at it. No more worrying about what’s for lunch or dinner!

Do you do any sort of meal prep at your home?  What does your current system look like?