January – 2016 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

January 2016

Roasted Garlic Stuffed Pasta Shells

Italian food has a special place in our family. Every Christmas we forego turkey and ham, and instead we make homemade pasta. It’s a tradition we love, and I hope one day the kids will cherish those memories of making pasta together, and of the sauce simmering on the stove all day.

We don’t just eat Italian food at the holidays, of course. It makes its way to our table at least once a week, because it’s something our entire family eats well. It’s a treat having a meal each week that we know our kids will eat well without complaint. Family meals around the dinner table are a vital part of our week, and  our kids know that our tradition at these meals is to have them each share the best part of their day and the worst. We get more insight into their days, and they get the opportunity to share, uninterrupted, with the family.

I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate into our dinners beyond just pasta and sauce (which we do have on a regular basis, since the kids love it so much), and last night I tried a new recipe that was a big hit – roasted garlic stuffed pasta shells.


These are delicious and have a surprise burst of flavor with a hidden clove of roasted garlic. Your family – and guests – will love them! They’re easy, too – here’s how to make your own:

Continue Reading…

Single Moms Can Find Love

One of my best friends found herself unexpectedly single with a young daughter a couple of years ago. She had amazing strength and built a life for her and her daughter, and she met a great man online who she is now married to. It’s really been inspiring to see her rise up and move forward with her life in a positive way, and I’m so happy that she’s happy!

Today I’ve got a guest post from a single mom named Karen, who wanted to share a few words for any other single moms that might be out there:

When my husband left me and I was 4 months pregnant, I didn’t even think I could love someone again. At that moment, I didn’t want to hear anything about men, a dating site or a love story with happy ending. My baby was my whole world.

Continue Reading…

Keep Your Family Connected With This Simple {&Free!} Tool!

Each year I choose a word that’s a theme for my year. After the insanely busy end of 2015, it was crystal clear that my word for 2016 would be connect. My kids are growing up way too quickly, and it’s crucial to me that we connect as a family. We do this at family dinners most nights of the week, focusing on each other and each sharing the best and worst parts of our day (if you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it – it’s a great way to learn about the highs and lows of your child’s – or spouse’s – day, and our kids typically can’t wait for their turn to share)!

We get a lot of time together as our group of five, and I love it. Game nights, movie nights, bike rides around the neighborhood – or even just all doing separate things in the same room – we spend a lot of quality time as a family.

One-on-one time, however, can be harder to come by. I first thought about this as each of my children ended up grocery shopping with me on various weekends. It was a rare chance to have extended time with just one of our three kids, and I loved the opportunity for conversation with each of them (and oh my, how topics differ from child to child!).

An idea was born from these shopping trips, and I decided I’d implement it in 2016 as a resolution of sorts – a way to have intentional time with each child. I created a chart that allows for purposeful time for my husband and I with each of our children throughout the year. In January, I get a date night with our oldest; my husband gets one with our middle son, and our daughter gets to choose a family activity for us to enjoy together. In February, the names rotate. I get a date night with our daughter, my oldest son is paired with my husband, and our middle son gets to pick the family activity. Each child has a special role for the month, and each parent gets one-on-one time with a child.

Continue Reading…

Spicy Shredded Beef Quesadillas: Mini Chef Mondays

Happy 2016, everyone! I’m writing this on Sunday evening, and am not quite sure how our Monday will go – it’s the first Monday back after two weeks off of school for the kids, and it’s hard getting back into routine. We’re organized, at least, so hopefully we’ll get out the door on time, and with no tears from any of the 5 of us. :)

This week’s Mini Chef Monday recipe is one that uses leftovers, so it piggybacks off of the simplest Crock Pot recipe ever. We modified a Pioneer Woman recipe to make it even easier than Ree’s, and we think it’s pretty great.

Put about 1.5 pounds of stew meat in your Crock Pot, then follow that with a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and a carton of beef stock. If the meat isn’t fully covered, add a little water, too. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8. Drain most of the liquid, pull out the peppers, and chop up the meat to serve on sandwiches, over grits, or however you like.

Our leftover recipe uses the meat and gives us spicy shredded beef quesadillas. These are SO good, and also nice and simple. You could dress them up with all sorts of things, of course, but we just have tortillas (buttered, because, um, butter), beef, shredded cheese, and caramelized onions (the sweetness really cuts the spiciness nicely). Cook these in a skillet over medium heat until the cheese is melted and both tortillas are golden and crispy. Sooooo good! Here’s the process step by step:

Butter one side of two tortillas; we do this and then face the buttered sides together so then E can put all the toppings on them while they’re still on the plate rather than over the heat of the stove.



Continue Reading…