• Budget Smart Cook,  Budget Smart Girl's Guide

    Holiday Mocktail-Cinnamon and Cumin-Infused Cranberry Spritzer

        Cranberries and cranberry juice are on sale just about everywhere so it’s the perfect time to put together this fun and very refreshing holiday mocktail. Prep time: 5 minutes, plus chill time Cook time: 10 minutes Serves: 6 Ingredients: 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries ¼ c. honey ½ c. water 2 T whole cumin seeds 4 cinnamon sticks 3 c. unsweetened cranberry juice 2 medium organic oranges, each cut into 8 wedges 3 c. sparkling water Optional Garnish: Additional cinnamon sticks 6 long rosemary sprigs, lower leaves removed, and threaded with fresh cranberries Directions: Add cranberries, honey, water, cumin seeds, and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan…

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    Holiday Appetizers and Snacks

    If you’re throwing a party this holiday season and don’t have the budget for a full sit down dinner for your guests, one alternative is a snack and appetizer buffet. Here are a collection  of ideas(some have links that take you straight to the recipes), you can try… Triscuits Snack Ideas – While a lot of Martha Stewart’s ideas are time intensive, these snacks aren’t hard and use a lot of leftovers to help make them really holiday worthy. You can also just put some tomato sauce, turkey pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese on a Triscuit and bake in the oven until the cheese melts.   Crescent Roll Ideas – You…

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    Thanksgiving Leftovers-Don’t Let Them Go To Waste-Dessert Awaits

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Leftover food is a common thing and I’m sure like me, you hate to see it go to waste. I always seem to have lots of cranberry sauce remaining after a holiday meal and this is a great way to turn it into a low cost dessert…. Frozen Cranberry Dessert Yield: 16 servings Ingredients: 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk ¼ cup of lemon juice 15 ounce can of whole cranberry sauce 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained 9 ounce container of whipped topping ½ cup of walnuts (optional) Directions: Assemble all the ingredients as well as a 9 x 13 glass baking dish…

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    Tuscan Sausage & Potato Soup

      Soup is one of my favorite meals. Pair it with a salad or some bread and dinner is served. The sausage and seasonings add a lot of flavor, while big chunks of potato make for a satisfying meal and best of all with just a little pre-preparation, you can put all the ingredients into a slow-cooker and go and do other things…perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 3-7 hours Serves: 6-8 Ingredients: 4 slices of bacon, diced 2 lbs. bulk mild sausage 2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans 6-7 c. chicken stock, divided 1 T. crushed red pepper flakes 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely…

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    Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli-Perfect for a Winter’s Night Meal

      Okay, it might not be winter quite yet, but this tasty beef broccoli recipe can be pulled together quickly for a fast and easy weeknight meal. And yes, the slow cooker comes to the rescue again. Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 3-7 hours Serves: 4-6 Ingredients: 1½ lbs. beef stew meat, cut into chunks 1½ c. beef stock 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced ½ c. soy sauce 1 T. honey 2 T. toasted sesame oil Salt and black pepper, to taste 2 T. arrowroot (or cornstarch) 1 14-oz. bag frozen broccoli florets 1 red bell pepper, cut in short, thin strips 3 c. brown rice, cooked 1 T.…

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    A Spicy Dip for Halloween

    It’s my slow cooker to the rescue again. This time I made Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip(that’s more like a meal), that I think is perfect for Halloween night when you’re in a hurry to go trick or treating or want something delicious when you come back home. You can adjust the heat to suit your own taste by increasing or decreasing the amount of hot sauce and jalapeno peppers you use.   Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 3-7 hours Serves: 6-8 Ingredients: 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts Salt and black pepper, to taste ½ c. chicken broth, preferably organic* 3 stalks celery, very finely chopped 2 8-oz. packages cream…

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    Spicy Slow Cooker Chili

    The first snow of the season arrived…and thankfully melted because it’s too early for that. It’s not too early for a hearty bowl of chili (this one uses sausage and not ground beef). Once again, let the slow cooker do most of the work for you. Let this cook while you’re out raking leaves and step inside to a hearty meal.   Ingredients: 1 pound spicy bulk pork sausage, crumbled 1 pound sweet bulk pork sausage, crumbled ½ c. chicken or vegetable stock, plus additional, if needed 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 medium white onion, finely chopped 2 stalks celery, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small…

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    Mulled Apple Cider with a Twist

          The other day I got a great deal on apple cider. Besides drinking it as is, I thought about another way to enjoy it. You know I love using the slow cooker and went searching for a mulled cider recipe. Most of them used the classic pumpkin pie spices but I wanted to use something more unique and remembered I had some five spice powder sitting in the pantry. That’s the “twist” with this mulled apple cider recipe because it adds a little something special to an already great tasting combination. Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 3 hours – 7 hours Serves: 4-6 Ingredients: ½ gallon…

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    Slow Cooker Apple-Cinnamon Oats

      It’s apple season, it’s also starting to get chilly too. Two good reasons to make some oatmeal. Not the kind you have to stand and stir on busy mornings. And definitely not the waste of money, prepackaged oatmeal. This type of oatmeal cooks overnight and is ready when you get up in the morning. (Added bonus is your kitchen smells wonderful too). Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 6-8 hours Serves: 4-6 Important Tips:  Do not substitute any other type of oats for this recipe. Cooking times are based on using steel cut oats only. Either line or use non-stick cooking spray before preparing this recipe. If you skip…

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    “Creamy” Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

    Fall’s officially here, nights are getting longer and leaves are turning. It’s my favorite time of year and not just because Mother Nature puts on a beautiful display. Colder temps mean you have an excuse to make some soup and this one is especially warm and comforting. The wild rice is filling, while the finely minced and chopped vegetables give the soup a more consistent flavor throughout. What’s more, some its “creaminess” comes from pureed cannellini beans, rather than a larger amount of high-fat dairy products.   Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 3-8 hours Serves: 4-6 Ingredients: 1 c. multi-color wild rice blend, uncooked* 1 small white onion, roughly chopped…

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