Frugal Foodie Mama: 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Frugal Foodie Mama's Top 14 Recipes of 2014

Which Frugal Foodie Mama recipes were you clicking on, making, and pinning the most the past year? Find out now in my Top 14 Recipes of 2014...
Frugal Foodie Mama's Top 14 Recipes of 2014- the recipes you were clicking on, making, and pinning the most in 2014
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I have to say that 2014 was an amazing year for the Frugal Foodie Mama blog.  At the beginning of the year, I set five rather lofty blog goals for 2014 and I am happy and thrilled to say that I met all but one of them. :)  I wanted to reach 15,000 Facebook fans (check!), 30,000 Pinterest fans (check!), attend my first in-person blogger conference (check!), make a certain income from my blogging for the year (check!), and reach an average of 200,000 page views a month for the year. I knew that last one was super ambitious for me, but even though I didn't reach my goal number I did come pretty darn close. 

While I haven't set my blog goals for 2015 quite yet, I do know that one thing I will definitely be focusing on more is creating a better balance between my blogging and my home & family life.  Just like with any business you build yourself, a blog requires a lot of time, effort, and determination... and a certain degree of stubbornness up front. ;)  I would have never dreamed that when I really buckled down and got serious about this blog of mine in the summer of 2012 that it would be where it is today. And a lot of that has to do with each of you.  If it wasn't for you all coming back here day after day for my recipes, budget savvy tips, and family travels, Frugal Foodie Mama wouldn't be where it is on this last day of 2014. You have allowed me to stay at home with my sweet girl, be there for so many cross country and track meets for my son, help provide for my family, & all while doing something that I absolutely love.  For that, I say Thank you, friends. :)

And now without further adieu, here are the top 14 recipes from 2014 that had you all clicking back for more...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hoppin' John Dip

A big thank you to Hamilton Beach for providing me with their Stack and Snap™ 10 Cup Food Processor and helping me bring you all this delicious recipe for a Hoppin' John Dip perfect for serving at your New Year's Eve get-together...

Hoppin' John Dip- a traditional Southern New Year's Eve meal turned into a party perfect appetizer!

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing through them helps support this website.

Anyone else just a little superstitious when it comes to what you eat on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day? Growing up, I remember my mother making pork chops and sauerkraut every New Year's Day (and she still does). 

I am not sure really when or why my mama started this tradition of pork and sauerkraut for New Year's dinner, but it originally started as a German & Pennsylvania Dutch custom. Eating both together brings good luck for the New Year. 

And even though I was not a fan of sauerkraut at all, I sucked it up and took ONE bite with my pork chops each year. I mean, I wasn't going to risk an entire year of bad luck over some silly sauerkraut. ;)

Looking for a more tasty and just as good fortune inducing dish to replace my mother's traditional pork chops and sauerkraut, I came across the classic southern dish of Hoppin' John. Hoppin' John is basically pork, greens, onions, and black-eyed peas all cooked together and then served over rice. 

The peas represent coins and wealth, & the greens represent paper money. It was thought that to eat "poor" on New Year's would be bring wealth the rest of the year. 

Hoppin' John is a dish that is usually served on New Year's Eve, not on New Year's Day. Since I typically only serve appetizers and nibbles for my New Year's Eve get-togethers, I decided to transform this delicious southern dish into a dip perfect for serving at a party or small gathering.

This Hoppin' John Dip starts out the same way as the traditional southern main dish, but then everything is put into a food processor and pureed together to make a tasty hummus-like dip...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sparkling Champagne Cookie-wiches

A rich champagne buttercream is sandwiched between two thick & soft sparkling sugared cookies in these Sparkling Champagne Cookie-wiches...

A rich champagne buttercream is sandwiched between two thick & soft sparkling sugared cookies in these Sparkling Champagne Cookie-wiches

Ever since I made my White Chocolate Peeps Cookiewiches for Easter earlier this year, I have kind of had a thing for coming up with decadent cookiewiches just for special occasions and holidays. 

My Easter cookiewiches were followed up a few months later by the Blue Velvet & Raspberry Buttercream Cookiewiches I made for the 4th of July. 

And since it has been over 5 months since I have posted a new cookie-wich recipe, I thought why not come up with one that would be perfect for celebrating New Year's Eve with? ;)

I had a vision in my head for exactly how I wanted these cookie-wiches to look, but I ran into one tiny snag- I couldn't find the exact sparkling gold and silver sugars I had pictured in my mind! I searched my local craft store and all the area grocery stores. I even searched Amazon to no avail. 

Then I remembered my good friends over at Chocoley and thought why not click on over there and take a look? And sure enough they had exactly what I was looking for in their Gold & Silver Sheen Metallic Sugar Crystals Set! Sparkling perfection, folks.

These Sparkling Champagne Cookie-wiches are rich, decadent, and fun, just like how every New Year's Eve celebration should be... :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

French 7UP5 Champagne Cocktail

This French 7UP5 Champagne Cocktail is a crisp, refreshing, & bubbly champagne cocktail perfect for ringing in the New Year!

French 7UP5 Champagne Cocktail- a crisp, refreshing, & bubbly champagne cocktail perfect for ringing in the New Year!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

It is hard to believe that Christmas is done and over with and New Year's Eve is just right around the corner! Where did the time go, you all? 

Just because Santa has made his annual visit here, it doesn't mean that holiday entertaining is over in this house, folks. ;) 

We often host  one or two impromptu (and sometimes planned) end of the year get-togethers with friends and family.

To make sure we are always at the ready to entertain last minute or unexpected guests, I stock up on a few of the essentials... like cheese and crackers, chocolates, and of course bubbly mixers that are perfect for festive cocktails and fun mocktails for the kiddos. ;)

The frugal hostess in me was thrilled to see our favorite 2 liter bottles of mixers- 7UP and Canada Dry Ginger Ale on sale at our local Walmart for just $1 each this past week.
Of course, I had to stock up on these entertaining essentials when I find them at such a great price! :) 

In addition to the traditional 7UP and Canada Dry Ginger Ale, I also grabbed a 2 liter of the Cranberry Canada Dry Ginger Ale for a festive touch for drinks.

Every New Year's Eve, I try to come up with a new cocktail to serve my guests. The inspiration for this French 7UP5 Champagne Cocktail actually comes from the French 75, a champagne cocktail that was created in France during World War I. This cocktail with a kick got it's name from a popular and powerful French field gun used during the war. 

The traditional cocktail is concocted using lemon juice, simple syrup, Champagne, and gin. I simplified the cocktail a bit and made it a little more bubbly by using 7UP instead of the lemon juice and simple syrup...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cranberry White Wine Sauce

Forget the canned stuff for your holiday dinner! This classy Cranberry White Wine Sauce takes just 4 ingredients and 15 minutes to make...

Cranberry White Wine Sauce- Forget the canned stuff for your holiday dinner! This classy homemade cranberry sauce takes just 4 ingredients and 15 minutes to make.

In case you all have been too busy to notice, Christmas is just two days away.
Two days, folks. Who all is ready? ;)

I can honestly sit here and say for once that I am ready. I did just finish wrapping up the last of the gifts last night, but I am done. Everything is ready to be placed under the tree and then ripped open in less than 48 hours. 

I believe this may be a first for me, friends. 

So now that the whole gift wrapping business is done and crossed off my holiday to-do list, I am focusing on my Christmas dinner menu

I actually wasn't planning on hosting a big family dinner for Christmas this year, but my husband kind of changed all that thinking when he came home from work the other day with a 20 pound ham in a bag.  

This thing is huge. So naturally, I decided that hosting family for a big Christmas dinner would be in order. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Invite the BOSS to a Cake Decorating Party

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Cake Boss. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating.
Invite the BOSS to Cake Decorating Party- fun party ideas featuring Cake Boss products! #CakeBossParty #sponsored #IC
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If any of you all happen to be a huge fan of the Cake Boss show on TLC, you are going to love today's post! Not only am I am going to be sharing some fun ideas for hosting a cake decorating party for friends and family, but I am also going to be sharing some of my favorite Cake Boss products available at Michael's.

I have to admit- I have only watched the Cake Boss show a handful of times.  But I was always blown away by the cakes that they create and in awe of how they get them from one place to another without the cake totally toppling over. Buddy and his family and their staff has some serious cake skills, folks. ;)

When I saw a huge array of the Cake Boss Fabulous Fondant in my shipment from Michael's, I knew I had to set up a little station for my party just for fondant rolling and cutting...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

RawSpiceBar- The Perfect Last Minute Foodie Gift!

Looking for a last minute gift for the favorite foodie or home cook in your life? I got you covered with a RawSpiceBar monthly subscription...
Need a last minute gift for your favorite foodie or home cook? Order a RawSpiceBar monthly subscription box!
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Okay, you all. It is crunch time. 
As in Christmas is just five days away!
Seriously, folks. I am scratching my head here wondering how in the world that happened.  I still have gifts to wrap, and a few more last minute gifts to figure out and get ordered asap.

If you happen to be in the same boat as me and one of those last minute gift recipients is a foodie or a budding or established home cook, a RawSpiceBar gift subscription just might be the perfect holiday gift giving solution for you! :)  
RawSpiceBar offers amazing monthly subscription boxes that include 3-4 hand-picked, small batch, freshly ground spice blends. I am not talking common, run-of-the-mill cinnamon and chili powder here, folks. Each of these unique spice blends are created in collaboration with some of the top chefs in the business, aka spice masters.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why You Need An AeroGarden {& The Winner of the AeroGarden Giveaway!}

I am partnering with The Scotts Company to share with you all how year-round gardening is possible with the MiracleGro AeroGarden. All opinions expressed below are 100% my own.
Why You Need An #AeroGarden (Product Review) + a 20% Off Discount Code #ad
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If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen my updates on my AeroGarden gourmet herbs' progress.  Seriously, you all... I was blown away by how amazing this thing is! :) My herbs went from tiny seed pods to full grown fresh herbs in a matter of weeks.  It seemed as if I was adjusting the height of the grow lamps every other day or so to accommodate my rapidly growing basil.

The set-up of my AeroGarden was insanely easy and with a little water, the provided Miracle-Gro nutrients and a lot of love from the AeroGarden's grow lamps, I was cooking and baking with fresh herbs within 6 weeks....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Cheese Platter {& How to Throw a Wine Tasting Party on a Budget}

I am partnering with ALDI today to bring you all this fun & delicious Holiday Cheese Platter and to share my tips for hosting a budget friendly wine tasting party...

How to Create a Holiday Cheese Platter + tips and ideas for hosting a budget friendly wine tasting party #ALDIPairings

I think by now most of you all who have been following me for any number of months (or even weeks) have figured out that I have much love for the ALDI grocery store chain.  I do have to admit though that there was once a time in my life when I turned up my nose to the very thought of shopping there. (Can you all even believe that??)  

That all changed when I made the decision that I wanted to stay at home with my daughter after she was born.  I was searching for ways to cut down on our budget when I decided to give ALDI another chance. And folks, I have never looked back since... ;)

You may already know that ALDI has fabulous deals for your everyday grocery shopping, and that their ALDI brand products almost always stand up to and even surpass their name brand counterparts.  

But did you know that ALDI can also help you throw a swanky wine tasting party for the holidays without totally emptying your wallet?  Today I am going to show you all how.

Just about everything I used for my holiday wine tasting party that I am sharing with you all today was purchased at my local ALDI. From the wine to the cheeses to the grapes and baby carrots, even the fun slate cheese platter (around $10!) you see below was bought there.

The focal dish for my wine tasting party was this fun and simple Holiday Cheese Platter. I created mine in the shape of a Christmas tree, but you could certainly get even more creative and try a wreath or a candy cane shape...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monopolizing A Little Family Time During the Holidays

Check out Hasbro Game Channel and experience MONOPOLY for a new era!
Take time for a family game night this busy holiday season with the help of Hasbro Ubisoft #ad
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While the holiday season is supposed to be all about spending time with and enjoying our loved ones, we can often find ourselves doing anything but spending quality with our families as the busy holiday season goes into full swing. With family gatherings, parties with friends, company holiday parties, pageants and dance recitals, it seems that we are doing everything but carving out quality time to spend with our family members.

This holiday season with a little help from Hasbro Ubisoft my family and I are vowing to include more family game nights into our busy holiday schedule.  Hasbro Ubisoft has brought one of our favorite family board games, Monopoly into the new era with the Hasbro Game Channel...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Easy Cranberry-Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

This Easy Cranberry-Almond Cream Cheese Cake Coffee Cake is so simple to make yet so impressive- perfect for your holiday morning breakfast...
Easy Cranberry-Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake for Real Housemoms- this simple, yet impressive coffee cake starts with a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls!
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Am I the only mother who happens to have this far fetched fantasy of having her family sit down to a perfectly prepared holiday breakfast before the gift unwrapping frenzy begins each Christmas morning? I mean, honestly it is a fantasy. And maybe just a little cruel to the kiddos to do so too. ;)

But even when I know that I will be up before the crack of dawn on the 25th.  And I know that there is no way my kids (and perhaps even my husband) would sit down to a nice family breakfast without scarfing their food down just so they could get to those presents quicker, I still would like to prepare a special breakfast for Christmas morning without missing all of the gift opening to do so.
Enter this delicious and holiday perfect (and easy to make!) Cranberry-Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake...

Monday, December 15, 2014

White Chocolate Dipped Cherry Shortbread Cookies

These buttery, crispy cookies are studded with sweet & tart dried cherries and then dipped in white chocolate- perfect for the holidays... 

White Chocolate Dipped Cherry Shortbread Cookies- buttery, crispy cookies are studded with sweet & tart dried cherries and then dipped in white chocolate

This year was my first time participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  Last year I remember seeing food blogger friends posting all the fabulous cookies they were receiving from other food bloggers and wanting to kick myself for not signing up. So this year as soon as the sign-ups went up, I headed over and registered. :) 

What is the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap? To participate, each food blogger donates just $4 to Cookies for Kids' Cancer

Then you receive the addresses of 3 other food bloggers that you will bake cookies for and send off at least a dozen to each. In return, you will get 3 different dozens of homemade cookies from 3 other food bloggers. 

Helping a great cause and getting to try cookies from other food bloggers? That is a win-win in my book, folks. ;) And this year's cookie swap raised over $12,000 for Cookies for Kid's Cancer! 

If you follow me on Instagram, you already got a peek at the delicious cookies that came my way during this year's swap. 

My cookie swap recipients received these crispy and buttery dried cherry studded shortbread cookies that I dipped in white chocolate and finished off with some holiday festive sprinkles...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Biscoff Gingersnap Brownies {& A Cookbook Giveaway!}

Chocolaty, fudgy brownies get a chewy gingersnap crust and are then topped off with a creamy Biscoff buttercream in these Biscoff Gingersnap Brownies...

Biscoff Gingersnap Brownies- fudgy brownies with a chewy gingersnap crust are frosted with a creamy Biscoff buttercream

I think by now you all are well aware of my obsession with and love for Biscoff spread, aka cookie butter.  It started with that very first spoonful. And trust me.... that is all it takes to begin the addiction, folks. ;)

So, you all can probably guess at how thrilled I was to discover that there is a cookbook out there filled with just recipes that use Biscoff spread and cookies!  

As soon as I made this discovery, I ordered my copy from Amazon- The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook from Katrina Bahl of Katrina's Kitchen.  It was also pretty nice to know that there happens to be another food blogger out there who shares my affinity for all things cookie butter. 

I had been kicking around an idea for a gingersnap crusted brownie for a couple of weeks now. I just love the combination of rich chocolate with spicy ginger.  But it needed something just a little more... 

As I was flipping through my copy of The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook, I came to the recipe for Biscoff Buttercream and I knew that I found the missing component for my brownie recipe idea.  The creamy buttercream with it's spiced buttery cookie flavor turned out to be just the icing on the cake (ahem... brownies) I was looking for for this new sweet treat recipe...