February – 2016 – Frugal Novice
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February 2016

Princess Bread

I’m sure you won’t be shocked to learn that my three year old daughter, E, loves pink and purple. Purple is her very favorite right now, because Sofia the First wears a purple dress, and E thinks Sofia hung the moon.

We incorporate pink & purple into her clothing, her accessories, her bedding, and even her food. Ice cream and suckers are chosen for what color they are, with no thought whatsoever given to flavor. We’ve even made purple waffles for breakfast before, and that gave me the idea to give another food the “princess” treatment – bread!

I call this Princess Bread because it incorporates pink & purple, and because my daughter will instantly love bread that sounds like it’s something Sofia would eat! This is a typical sandwich bread recipe, but you could put strawberry or grape preserves on it for added princess flair. And imagine how fun it’d be to surprise your child with this bread on her sandwich at lunch!

Here’s how to make Princess Bread with step-by-step pics – and the recipe itself will be shared below!

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Six Delicious Pancake Recipes With 5 Ingredients or Less

We eat a lot of pancakes in our house (largely because it’s something all three of my kids will actually eat!). Saturday morning pancake breakfasts are a tradition we’ve all come to love, and maybe your family is the same way. As much as we love our standard pancakes, though, it’d be nice to upgrade our breakfasts to something a little more special. And thanks to my friends over at FamilyFun magazine, I have six great pancake recipes to share with you – and none of them use more than 5 ingredients. Just take your standard dry pancake mix (our favorite is this Kerbey Lane buttermilk mix) and cook the pancakes as you normally would after you’ve added the extra ingredients listed for the recipe you choose.

Easy and delicious? Love it!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT-BUTTER CHIP

  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • ? cup peanut-butter chips
  • Water

RED VELVET

  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. red food coloring
  • water

Red Velvet Pancakes

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How to Increase the Value of Your Home

If you’ve saved up money to invest in your home, you might be wondering: where’s the best place to spend your money to get the best return in terms of the value of your home?
There are a number of areas that can significantly increase the value of your home. Where you spend your money will depend on what how updated your home is in various areas, and, of course, your budget.

The Kitchen

If there is one room that should be shipshape and looking sharp in order for the best value, then it’s the kitchen. For many, it is the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, where we eat, where we do homework, watch television or have parties. So, the better it looks, and the more “mod cons” – modern conversions – it has, the better.
There are a number of points to consider when it comes to the design of your kitchen including the kitchen triangle; if you haven’t heard of the triangle, it’s where the sink, the fridge and the stove are all within easy reach of each other. Install up-to-date equipment, but make sure that the kitchen matches the price bracket of the house. A new kitchen could add up to 4-5% on to the value of your home.

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How to Cook Steak Like a Pro

I love a good steak. When I was pregnant with our youngest, I started craving beef like I never had before, and it stuck with me. One of my favorite meals to get when we’re out is a lean sirloin with mashed potatoes & roasted veggies. SO good! Or if I’m really treating myself, filet mignon is just the best.

However.

I have no clue how to cook a steak.

I love to cook, and consider myself a good cook, except when it comes to steak.

So I was pretty thrilled to discover this – and I’m hoping it can help me learn to cook steak and be proud of the finished product. And not just that, folks – you can take cheaper cuts of steak and make them taste downright delicious. I’m on board!

Check out How to Make a Cheap Steak Taste Fancy

by Foodie Editor at Mode

Hope this is helpful to you, too – you’ll be impressing your significant other in no time!

Super Soft Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Maybe it’s because we just had Valentine’s Day, but when I was trying to think what we should make for Mini Chef Monday this week, chocolate was involved in every idea I had. Ultimately, though, I settled on super soft double chocolate chip cookies (try saying that five times fast) because they’re easy to pack in the kids’ lunches throughout the week – and they’re chock full of chocolate flavor.

They’re really easy to make, and E was eager to help as always. The batch we made creates 24 small cookies, but you can easily double this if you want more. I like this smaller batch, because it really doesn’t require much in the way of ingredients. You’re likely to have all of this on hand at any given time, so you can get your chocolate fix at a moment’s notice.

If you need an endorsement for how good these cookies are, they made two boys stop playing Minecraft to come over for a taste!

Kids-Chocolate-Cookies

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Homemade Pesto Ravioli

PestoRavioli-FrugalNovice

Ahh, ravioli. If you read my recent post about our basil fettuccine recipe, you know we love making pasta. That’s probably our favorite, but we like to venture out into trying other recipes, too. The fettuccine was originally shared on my old food blog, as was the ravioli I’m sharing with you here today.

My favorite ravioli has always been four cheese. I mean, combining cheese and pasta – two amazingly delicious things – is pretty much the pinnacle of flavor, right?

Well, we figured out a way to top that.

Pesto.

Yes, my friends, that’s right. Forget spooning pesto on top of the pasta.

That’s for amateurs.

We put the pesto right in the filling.

And it. is. fabulous.

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Simple & Sweet Tea Party Menu

My daughter, E, is 3 and a half now, and she is all about tea parties. She got a tea set for Christmas, and she makes us all sorts of tea to drink (we’re so British now, right?). I thought it would be fun for this Mini Chef Mondays post to focus on a simple and sweet tea party menu that you could put together for your little girl. It’d be great for a birthday, or for a fun play date with friends.

This menu consists of 5 items – simple!

  • Raspberry Tea
  • Cheese & Cracker Tray
  • Heart-Shaped Sandwiches
  • Dipped Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Mini-Cakes

Most of the items on the menu are pretty quick to put together, but I thought it would be fun to let E in on the fun and bake the chocolate cakes together. We got two adorable baking sets from Handstand Kids – the Deluxe Baking Set and the Cupcake Baking Set – and E was so proud to have her very own kitchen tools to use.

E-HandstandKids-Tools

The kits included measuring cups, measuring spoons, spatulas, a whisk, silicone cupcake and cake molds, a frosting bag and tips, and more, all in fun hues. They also came with recipe cards, and we used their “Easy Peasy Chocolate Cake” recipe for our tea party.

Recipe-HandstandKids

HandstandKids-MeasuringCup

Vanilla-HandstandKids

HandstandKids_Batter

The batter made enough to have a variety of cake types – we made mini muffins, cupcakes, a mini loaf and a mini bundt. You can serve these plain, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or could add frosting and sprinkles if you’d like to add some color to the table.

BundtCake

Now, on to the other menu items:

  • Raspberry Tea: This is an easy way to make an elevated tea (with a pink hue – win!). Make sweet tea as you normally would (using about 5 tea bags). In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of fresh raspberries and 4 cups of water to a boil until the raspberries start to break down. Run the raspberry mixture through a fine strainer and add the raspberry syrup to the tea; mix well. Pour tea into goblets and add a few fresh raspberries to float in the glass for a pretty presentation.
  • Cheese & Cracker Tray: If you haven’t seen them already, Pepperidge Farms makes adorable butterfly-shaped crackers. Pair these with sliced cheese cut into flower shapes with small cookie cutters, and you’ve got a tray fit for a princess.
  • Heart-Shaped Sandwiches: Continuing the theme of pretty shapes, make small sandwiches with whatever ingredients you prefer (turkey and cheese, chicken salad, etc.), then use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to add a special touch.
  • Dipped Marshmallows: You’ll need marshmallows, lollipop sticks, candy melts, and sprinkles for this quick and easy treat. Place a stick into each marshmallow, then dip marshmallows into the candy melts and sprinkles. There are a ton of colors available so you can mix and match to your heart’s desire!

And if you’d like to get your little one involved in tea party prep, check out all the kits and gear available for little ones from Handstand Kids!

TeaPartyMenu-FrugalNovice

As always, I am hosting Mini Chef Mondays along with 11 fabulous bloggers! Read how Mini Chef Mondays started and how to link up!

mcmhslogo-2

Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well. We would love it if you would share your Mini Chef posts with us each week, too! Follow along socially and join in on the fun by using our hashtag #MiniChefMondays to share creations your mini chef created in the kitchen. Additionally, if you have a kid-friendly recipe that kids can easily recreate, link up! Don’t have a blog? Share the URL of your instagram photo in our linky below.

  1. Chocolate Caramel Apple Nachos // Courtney’s Sweets
  2. Easy Pizza Dough Recipe // Momma Lew
  3. Easy Pumpkin Bread Pudding // Baby Loving Mama
  4. Homemade Bread Bowl Recipe // We’re Parents
  5. Kid Friendly Meal Chicken Nugget Kabobs // Eating Richly Even When You’re Broke
  6. Mango Clementine Banana Smoothie // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
  7. Yummy Dutch Apple Crisp // Step Stool Chef
  8. Riceless Vegetable Sushi // Vegging at the Shore
  9. Chicken Chilaquiles with Eggs // Mom’s Messy Miracles
  10. Apple Pie Taquitos // O’Boy! Organic
  11. Strawberry Blueberry Swirl Fruit Leather // Can’t Google Everything


Homemade Basil Fettuccine Recipe

I’m a little giddy about this recipe because it combines three things I adore – basil, garlic, and pasta. Brian and I have made semolina pasta dough for years now, but hadn’t ever tried flavored pasta until 2014. It was a bit of an experiment, but it worked out beautifully and we now have an addition to our pasta repertoire that we’ll have made again and again.

I shared this recipe first on a food blog I ran for a while, but since most of my focus is on Frugal Novice, it only seemed fitting to share it here, too.

This basil & garlic fettuccine is flavorful – you don’t even really need more than a light butter sauce to go along with it – and the flecks of basil in the dough really make the pasta prettytoo.

As with so many recipes, homemade pasta was one of those things that seemed really overwhelming to me until we gave it a try. Several years ago our friends Kit and Peter came over one Saturday with their pasta machine, and we were immediately smitten with the process (and end result!) of making pasta from scratch. You know you’ve found kindred spirits when you have friends who want to spend the weekend cooking!

Making homemade pasta is something we really enjoy doing, and the kids love to help with it, too. We have a pasta machine we purchased and absolutely love. It’s hand-cranked and easy to set up wherever you’d like to use it – we just mount ours to the dining table – and it comes with an attachment that lets you cut the pasta, too. I would highly recommend buying one if you think you’ll make pasta more than a couple of times (you will, by the way – it’s addicting!).

Here’s what our pasta machine looks like – and you’ll also get a glimpse of our sweet yellow lab/golden retriever, Sally. She likes to hang around under the table when we make pasta because  she knows we’ll inevitably drop a piece here or there. Smart dog.

Pasta-Roller

Making pasta from scratch is really fun to do with friends, too – we make the dough ahead of time and then when friends come over we do the rolling and cutting with them. Fresh pasta cooks really quickly, so we’ll just have the sides, sauce (if we’re using any), and bread all taken care of ahead of time, and then once our group finishes the pasta we can get to cooking it – and eating it – almost immediately.

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DIY Macarons: A Step-by-Step Guide

Our kids are kind of obsessed with macarons right now, and to be honest, I am too. They hadn’t even heard of them until a recent episode of the Kids’ Baking Championship on Food Network, where the contestants had to come up with unique macaron flavors. We all watch the show together each week, and that episode had us all talking about what flavor combinations we thought would be best. Our 8 year old mentioned he’d never tried one, so we made it our mission to find a macaron bakery on an upcoming trip to Dallas.

Macaroons! Err…. macarons! Either way, delicious. #yum #macarons #chocolate #instafood

A photo posted by Christi (@frugalnovice) on

We discovered JOY Macarons, and had a field day picking among the many flavors they offered.

JoyMacarons

We bought half a dozen, started sampling, and then went back to buy a dozen more. We were hooked. In fact, while we were still in Dallas I ordered a silicone mat with a macaron template on Amazon so we could make our own macarons at home.

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Be Smart: How to Buy a Used Car (& do it Well)

Buying a used vehicle is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck – you’re more likely to be able to afford vehicles with those extras you crave, like navigation systems, heated seats, or built-in DVD players. Brian and I have bought all but one of our cars used, and most if not all of our future cars will probably be used vehicles, too. For some people, buying a used vehicle can seem a little daunting – so I’ve shared a few tips for making sure your used vehicle is a smart buy. Here’s one:

  • Buy a Certified Pre-Owned. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your vehicle has been inspected, serviced, and repaired as needed. Because of this, it’s being sold with an extended warranty that is really valuable. Buying certified pre-owned lets you know you haven’t bought a lemon. There’s an old saying that says “If you buy an ‘as is’ vehicle, you drive off the lot, and it breaks into two pieces… you own both pieces.” Go Certified Pre-Owned with your purchase. You’ll be glad you did.

For more tips on making a smart used car purchase, check out my guest post on the Ken Garff West Valley used vehicle dealership blog.

2016: New Year’s Resolutions – For Your Car

This is a sponsored post with Damaged Cars. All opinions are honest and are my own.

We’re a month in to 2016. Have you made any resolutions this year – and more importantly, have you followed through?

I hope you’ll take a minute and consider making a few more resolutions… but not for eating healthier or saving money (although do those too, for sure!)… for your car. You’ll be glad you did, and your car will be thankful, too.

Here’s a few resolutions to start you off:

Take your car for regular tune-ups. Many oil change places even offers free check-ups in between oil changes, because they recognize that it’s a great way to keep your car in tip-top shape.

Schedule car washes. Taking the car to be washed just wasn’t on my radar, but now it’s something we do at least twice a month. When we get it washed we always follow it up with cleaning out and vacuuming the interior, so this ensures that we have an opportunity for deeper cleaning every couple of weeks. If you’re adverse to spending money on a car wash, you can schedule a weekend day to do it yourself at home – or better yet, make the kids do it! It can be a fun task that they might actually enjoy.

Make smart car food choices. I think most parents will agree it’s pretty unrealistic to suggest a no-eating rule in the car. I have instituted this rule on occasion, and it definitely makes life harder. When we’re running late in the morning, it’s easier to let the kids eat breakfast on the drive to school. I’ve learned that we have to pick the right types of food – granola bars work well; cereal with lots of small pieces does not – and that we need to package food in the right way to help keep crumbs at bay.  When the children do bring cereal, we put it in a larger baggie, filling it only about ¼ of the way. You don’t want leftovers, because those will inevitably be spilled. I prefer to give the kids drinks in cups with lids because juice boxes often get unintentionally squeezed and make a big mess.

Carrot Cake Cookies – Sneak in Veggies for Your Kids!

Hi everyone! It’s the first weekend in February, which seems unreal to me – 2016 is already off to a fast start! If you’re still looking for a fun Valentine’s cookie recipe, don’t miss my chocolate & sprinkle coated shortbread cookies I shared a couple of weeks ago. They’re perfect for kids’ parties!

Of course, with it being February I’m also thinking a lot about spring, and so this week for Mini Chef Monday I’m re-sharing a recipe that’s perfect for this time of year – plus it lets you sneak veggies in for your kiddos (my carrot-hating son even ate these cookies) – just don’t tell them what they’re called!

Carrot-Cake-Cookies-MCM

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