Friday, November 9, 2012

the four letter word: free!

What human doesn't love that four letter word - free? In the true spirit of being frugal(ish), I am always on the look out for deals and even better...freebies! Target's sample spot has quickly become a favorite! The only problem is the samples go quickly, so you have to check back often or let the deal queen bloggers remind you when a sample is available.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this sample for lunch...

Yes, I had cereal for lunch. Don't judge - it has 5g of protein! I actually had been wanting to try the brand, but the price for a bigger bag of granola was a bit steep for us. Not only was the cereal delicious, but they sent along a coupon too! I love me some coupons and I love that we can try out new brands and products for free! So for all you bargain hunters and freebie lovers, here's the link for Target's Sample Spot. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

quick apple butter coffee cake

Well, Sandy came and left her mark... Thankfully, we faired much better than our neighbors and the lights have finally come back on. I decided I needed a baking pick-me-up after watching hours of news coverage of the devastation in our area, at the shore, and in NYC. If I could I'd send the people affected by Sandy some homemade tomato soup, cheesy grilled cheese, and this scrumptious apple butter coffee cake - the ultimate comfort foods to warm the bellies and hearts of those in need. Our prayers are with all of those who have had their lives turned upside down by the storm.
This recipe was originally adapted from a raspberry coffee cake recipe my mom made growing up for breakfast munching, a simple brunch dish, or a yummy dessert. Our spotted-yet-still-yummy apples we picked needed to be used, mom had recently made some spicy homemade apple butter, and I was craving a fallish dessert....insert this tasty little number:

Isn't it pretty?! I'm a firm believer that good food tastes even better when it looks pretty. Love the drippy icing and crisscrossed golden crust! Other seasonal fruits or local delish jams can be substituted in for the filling. It will still taste wonderful! I promise.

This delicious coffee cake may not be made out of the cheapest ingredients possible, but we buy Bisquick for times when we're in a pinch or for when the hubster tries his hand at breakfast or pigs in a blanket. I also have the benefit of raiding my mom's canning stash for my culinary experiments at no cost. So friends buy the Bisquick when it's on sale with a coupon and use your favorite jam if you aren't an apple fan. Happy Baking!

Quick Apple Butter Coffee Cake

3 oz. cream cheese (I used the 1/3less fat cream cheese)
1/4 c. cold butter
2 c. bisquick
1/3 c. milk (we are a 2% family)

1/2 c. apple butter
1 c. apples, peeled and chopped (for added flavor, toss in cinnamon sugar mixture)

1 c. sifted powder sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cream cheese and butter into Bisquick mix until crumbly then blend in milk. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead 8 to 10 times on wax paper. Roll dough into 12 by 18 inch rectangle. Turn dough onto greased baking sheet (or onto parchment lines sheet) and remove wax paper. Spread apple butter down the center of the rectangle of dough then sprinkle the apples on top of apple butter. Make 2 inch long and 1 inch wide slits on both long sides of the rectangle. Fold slits over the filling. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the dough pastry is slightly golden. Do not over bake unless you want a dry pastry. Mix the ingredients for the icing together and drizzle over the coffee cake while still warm.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

a semi-frugal date road trip

If you talk to people that have been married 30+ years, you'll often hear the old sage advice of continuing date nights even after you get married. The hubster and I agree, but a date night can be a huge budget breaker! These days we just don't have the money to throw 25 bucks toward a movie date. Besides everyone knows you can't actually improve your relationship staring at a screen! Sorry, pet peeve...anyway...

We choose instead to spend our time together outside exploring new places and old haunts. As a young (and broke) dating couple, we spent countless hours in the state and local parks in our area. In fact, the day the hubster first asked me out we took a five mile walk along the Delaware. Dad always said take a man on a hike to see if he's marriage material...well I'm happy to say the hubster was and still is marriage material!

Our date suggestion - find a map and check out your local parks, national forest, historic sites, etc. This past week we rediscovered a place my family used to visit when I was little. French Creek State Park and Hopewell Furnace Historic Site is free to visit and you can go apple picking for a dollar a pound in a historic orchard. The apples aren't sprayed with pesticides, so they look a little spotted, but taste awesome!

the spoils!
Glorious fall colors and weather, lots of paths and old buildings to explore, great company, awesome photo opportunities - all for the price of $2 in apples and gas (if only gas prices would go down these dates would be even cheaper!!).

And now to make a delicious budget-friendly apple butter coffee cake using our just picked apples!