Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Chip Icebox Cake

This is NOT a frugal recipe. Not at all!

BUT, if you need a special occasion SHOW STOPPER, this is it! It is absolutely incredible. My family decided it was a little bit like a chocolate chip tiramisu. Absolutely YUMMY.

Here is the recipe, from,
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua (I used brewed coffee.)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I used 1 packet of Starbucks Via.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies, such as Tate's Bake Shop*
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks.
To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (I break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

*I spent a long time trying to decide what to do for the cookies in the recipe. Tate's cookies are insanely expensive, but I really thought it would be "fine" if I bought Chips Ahoy or Anna's Chocolate Chip Thins. In the end, I decided to try a Tate's recipe that I found online. I'm SO glad that I spent the extra time to make something from scratch. They were AWESOME. Here is the recipe,

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease or line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars, then add the water and vanilla. Mix until just combined.
  5. Add eggs to the butter mixture and mix them lightly.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture. When flour is mixed in, fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop 2 tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough 2-inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Make sure the cookie sheets are well greased. I like to use parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 12-17 minutes or until the edges and centers of the cookies are golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Table

I'm super busy cooking for Easter, so this will have to be a quick update!!! 

I allowed myself $100 for groceries this week for the upcoming Holiday. My extra $50 came out of our "gift" budget. I didn't *have* to take extra money, but I had a few new (and somewhat expensive) recipes I wanted to add to our Easter table. I'll be making my usual broccoli salad plus charoset (apple salad,) a mocha icebox cake and a pineapple carrot cake.

The groceries pictured above cost $78 after tax. I made a second quick stop at Hen House to pick up the remaining items that I needed. I came it at $27 after tax at Hen House. I went slight over budget, but I think I did pretty well!

I don't have a super specific meal plan this week. My mom brought over Honey Baked Ham and funeral potatoes, so we've been snacking on that. I'm also planning on having a good deal of Easter leftovers. Aside from that, I may take some enchilada soup out of the freezer, so we can have soup and salad for dinner and lunch leftovers.


This year I decided to borrow Charoset from the Passover table and add it to our Easter table. Charoset is a sweet paste of fruits and nuts served primarily during the Passover Seder. Its color and texture are meant to recall the mortar with which the Israelites bonded bricks when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt as mentioned in Tractate Pesahim of the Talmud. The word "charoset" comes from the Hebrew word cheres — חרס — "clay." (Wikipedia) Not only that, but it is wonderfully delicious.

I adjusted this recipe from,

  • 6 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sweet apple cider
It does make a boatload, so if you're making it as a side for an average sized family, I would consider cutting the recipe in half!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

What happens when you forget to budget for groceries...?

 (Looks like baby finger prints on the lens! Hate that!)

As I was halfheartedly planning my shopping trip for the week, I realized my grocery envelope in my wallet was empty! Oh.No. I immediately got a whole lot more serious about getting organized! I got all of my coupons organized in their binder, read all of the local blogs about deals in our area and made a long list. I also made a detailed meal plan. Then, I went through and made an abbreviated list for each store. I decided I was ONLY going to buy what I could get on sale AND with a coupon, and I'd go to all 3 stores if I had to. I was going to have to take money out of savings to cover the trip, so I was going to try to spend as little as possible while still having what we needed to get through the week. Before we headed to the store, I decided to stop and check our secret cash spot just in case. Lucky for me, there was a $50 floating around! I just somehow didn't get it in the right spot! What a sigh of relief!

Due to the having 3 children with me factor, I decided to only go to Hy-Vee. My after tax total was right around $48.00. I saved about $11.00 with coupons.

Since I've been back to work, we've pretty much eaten through EVERYTHING in the freezer. I'm planning on making chicken enchilada soup for the freezer today. I also want to try AGAIN to get some pumpkin bread made! Dinners this week will include cream cheese chicken and chicken and rice. I'm also going to make a batch of calzones for me to take to work for lunch this week.

Also, don't forget to check out my Budget $aver Twin Pops giveaway for a coupon for a free bag of twin pops!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giveaway - Budget Saver Twin Pops!

***CLOSED - All 5 entrants will receive a coupon. If you have not heard from me, it is because I don't have contact for you. Please leave another comment with your email address.***

If you've been a reader for awhile, you know that my kids LOVE popsicles. I use them for all kinds of good behavior bribery around here. I tell you what though, they are typically SO expensive! However, a few weeks ago I discovered a new, AFFORDABLE variety -- Budget $aver Twin Pops! I found them on the verrrrrry bottom of the shelf in the freezer section with the other popsicles. They were kind of hidden! The variety we happened to grab was the Summer Blast, and they were just great. The kids and I loved them! We've also since tried the Banana and Assorted packages, and I'm still impressed! They are so affordable, and the flavors are very refreshing, not heavy and syrupy! I love that I can fit them in to our $50 grocery budget so easily! Plus, there are coupons on their website! How great is that???

Ziegenfelder Budget $aver graciously sent me FIVE! coupons for a free bag of Twin Pops, so I could share the good news about a great product!

To enter this giveaway, you may have one entry for each action,

1. Leave a comment about what flavor variety you would like to try!
2. Subscribe to my feed!
3. Share this giveaway on facebook!
4. Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter!

Just leave a separate comment describing each action.

Giveaway will close at midnight on April 22!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Busy Mommy Tries To Shop

Ever felt like you're the only one that can't quite pull things together? Let me assure you, you are not! I was a mess this week! I really needed to have a good grocery week this week, and I just failed miserably. I BARELY got a list together. I hadn't thought through the meals I could make with sale items. The coupons I managed to remembered were a mess. By the time I got to the store it was 8 PM, and I'd been up since 5:15. I hadn't had dinner either! I was a train wreck!

I tried to come in around $40.00 this week, but I ended at $45 after tax. It isn't an awful total, but it sure could have been better.

Like I said, I didn't have any time to pre-plan a menu. I will have to pair what I have in my stock pile with what I purchased for this week. I think we will have cavatini and baked potato soup for our "nicer" dinners. I'd also like to try to make a double batch of whole wheat pumpkin bread for breakfasts. Other meals will include simple things like black bean burritos, PB&J, grilled cheese and tomato soup. I'll pair those items with an easy fruit or green salad, and we'll be good to go! With our crazy busy schedule, those meals suit our lifestyle the best!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dorito Salad

This is another recipe from my mom's kitchen. It was always one of my FAVORITE dinners when I was little. Now, my kids love it too. It's such a great way to get a balanced meal in to little people tummies!

There is no real recipe for this dish. Just use whatever you like on your taco salad! (Here, I've used lettuce, cucumber, black beans, cheese and salsa.) Then, add your "secret" ingredients -- Ranch dressing and Doritos! The second "secret" is to toss all of the ingredients together before you serve the salad! The nacho cheese from the Doritos mixes in with the Ranch dressing, and it is AWESOME. I promise.

When I serve Dorito salad to my little ones, I chop up the lettuce and other vegetables in to really tiny pieces. Then, I crush up the Doritos and mix everything together. That way they can eat their "salad" with a spoon and get a bite with veggies, black beans and Doritos in every bite. They absolutely love it, and I love that they're eating greens without complaint!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Recycle Bank

If you haven't already joined Recyclebank, now is a great time! I've earned some really helpful rewards through Recyclebank. Some of my favorites have been free two liters of Coke and free Happy Baby products. I recommend holding on to your points and watching the Daily Deals. There are occasionally really great offers!

Right now you can earn 70 points in your Recyclebank account when you take the Green Your Home Challenge. I am hearing that the challenge will last for all of April as they move through the rooms in a house explaining how you can make greener choices. 

Once you register,

1. Enter the Green Home Challenge
2. Click on the Gray floor plan on the right of the page
3. Click on “Kitchen” and then click around to find different opportunities available to earn up to 70 points.

Have fun!

Hy-Vee Money Maker

What a great trip to Hy-Vee! I made $3.75 buying Kraft cheese (of all crazy expensive things!) Cheese was on sale today 4/$5. When I got to the dairy section, I discovered a coupon dispenser with $1 off 1 Kraft with Philadelphia, and, miracle of all miracles, it wasn't empty! As if that weren't enough, the coupon DIDN'T say one per purchase! The icing on the cake was a $5 catalina if you bought 5 Kraft items.

I did make a stop at Walgreens earlier this afternoon where I picked up milk, a free after coupon travel sized Degree deodorant and a Snickers bunny. My grand total on all items after tax was about $57. 

I noticed coupons on several sale items at the store today. A few that I saw were,

$1 off 1 box of Smuckers Waffle Snackers
Various amounts of various Hefty brand products
$1 off 1 Kraft cheese
$.75 off Fruity Pebbles snacks

All of these items were a great deal after coupons.

If you're at Hen House any time soon, I also picked up a REALLY sweet Spring Essentials manufacturer coupon paper in their entry way last week. It has,

$2 off 1 Hormel entree coupon
$1 off 1 Philadelphia Cooking Creme
$.75 off 1 Dole Salad Blend
$.75 off 1 Blue Bell Ice Cream
$.55 off 1 V8 Fusion

And lots more! Keep your eyes peeled for this one! It's a good one!

Our meals this week will be extra simple now that I am back to work. For dinner tonight, we're having Dorito Salad. We'll also have pancakes with blueberry sauce and homemade hash browns early on in the week. I'm also planning on making cavatini. I also have been craving grilled cheese and tomato soup, so I'll have to make room for that somewhere! There is a new dessert I am dying to test out for Easter too, but I'm just not sure I'm going to get that done. It's a little involved -- and expensive!