Lemon Bars with Saltine Crackers

 

Jamie here!! Looking to change up your dessert routine?  You’re going to love the cool, creamy sweetness of lemon filling mixed with the crumbly, salty crust in these best-of-both worlds Lemon Bars with Saltine Crackers.  This is the PERFECT treat for Spring – an unexpected punch of flavor and all KINDS of texture!

But first, a quick word about treats…  My husband is one of the weird ones who doesn’t care for dessert.  He never wants a cake on his birthday or (gasp!) ice cream on a hot summer night.  So it wasn’t until the 3rd year of our marriage that I stumbled upon a treat that he actually asked me to make again – and it was these Lemon Bars.  Now I usually trade off between these and my easy Derby Pie recipe for his birthday dessert – and it’s always such a nice change to have these refreshing bars again!

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lemon-bar-recipe

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • 14 oz can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 Lemons
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Stick of Softened Butter
  • 1 Sleeve of Saltine Crackers
  • Lemon Cake Mix (Try to get the kind with Pudding in the mix)

 

Directions:

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Before you begin, get the butter nice and soft.  I like to set it on the stove while the oven is preheating, turning it to the other side every minute or so.

 

lemon bars cracker crust

 

Crush the sleeve of saltines in a large ziploc bag with either a rolling pin or by rolling a glass over them.  Make the crumbs as small as possible!

In a large bowl, mix the lemon cake mix, 1 egg and softened butter together with an electric beater.  Stir in the saltine crumbs.  You may need to cut some of the dry ingredients into the butter with a fork. Work it together until you have coarse crumbs.  Measure out two cups of crumb mixture and set aside for later, press the rest of the mixture into a pre-greased 13 x 9″ pan.

lemon bars crust

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden brown.

In a medium bowl, mix together condensed milk, juice of 2 lemons and 3 egg yolks.  Really get as much juice as you can out of the lemons by rolling them on a flat surface to break down the inner membranes, and allowing them to get to room temp first (or microwave them for 10 seconds!)

Pour the filling onto the crust and spread evenly.  Top with the remaining crumb mixture and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until edge of topping is golden brown.

Cut into squares and refrigerate.  Makes 1 dozen large bars, or 2 dozen small ones.  *These are RICH, so you might want to go for the small squares!

Variations:

Try using vanilla wafers or graham crackers instead of saltines.  Don’t have fresh lemons?  Use lemon juice (about 1/2 cup) or even LIME juice would be yummy, I bet!

Lemon Bars with Saltine Crackers
Dessert
2 Dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 14 oz can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 Lemons
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Stick of Softened Butter
  • 1 Sleeve of Saltine Crackers
  • Lemon Cake Mix (Try to get the kind with Pudding in the mix)
Instructions
  1. Before you begin, get the butter nice and soft. I like to set it on the stove while the oven is preheating, turning it to the other side every minute or so.
  2. Crush the sleeve of saltines in a large ziploc bag with either a rolling pin or by rolling a glass over them. Make the crumbs as small as possible!
  3. In a large bowl, mix the lemon cake mix, 1 egg and softened butter together with an electric beater. Stir in the saltine crumbs. You may need to cut some of the dry ingredients into the butter with a fork. Work it together until you have coarse crumbs. Measure out two cups of crumb mixture and set aside for later, press the rest of the mixture into a pre-greased 13 x 9" pan.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden brown.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together condensed milk, juice of 2 lemons and 3 egg yolks. Really get as much juice as you can out of the lemons by rolling them on a flat surface to break down the inner membranes, and allowing them to get to room temp first (or microwave them for 10 seconds!)
  6. Pour the filling onto the crust and spread evenly. Top with the remaining crumb mixture and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until edge of topping is golden brown.
  7. Cut into squares and refrigerate. Makes 1 dozen large bars, or 2 dozen small ones. *These are RICH, so you might want to go for the small squares!

 

 

 

 

How to Add Scent to Homemade Laundry Detergent

By now you may already know that making your own laundry detergent is SUPER cost-effective (Only pennies per load!), much less wasteful (no plastic jugs getting tossed every week), and rules out dyes and fragrances for those with sensitive skin.  (Check out our DIY Laundry Detergent tutorial if you haven’t yet!)

But what if you MISS the fragrance?

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I can tell you from experience that what I missed most with my homemade laundry detergent (while it did the job just fine) was that fresh, sweet smell.  Luckily that’s an easy fix!!

diy-laundry-detergent

How to add scent to homemade laundry detergent – 3 Options:

 

1. Add a little shake of fragrance booster to each load.  

Easy peasy – just toss in some Downy Unstopables, or Gain Fireworks, Bounce Bursts, Purex Crystals or whatever floats your boat at the time you’re washing.  Your clothes will smell yummy and you can still leave some loads unscented if you choose.

2. Add fragrance booster during the mixing process.

If you’re making the 5 Gallon Bucket recipe we posted here - then you’ll want to add about 1 Cup of Scent Beads during the heating process so they combine with the soap ingredient.  If you’re making a powder detergent like the one here – you can just stir it into the powder, soap flakes, etc…

3. Add Essential Oils during the mixing process.

Looking to go more natural?  Essential oils are another option for scenting your laundry detergent.  It’s recommended that you add 16 – 20 drops of oil to a box of baking soda and shake it around well – then proceed to add that baking soda to your DIY detergent recipe.  The Wellness Mama has a good dry recipe that uses essential oils as well!

What about you?

Do you have a method for adding scent to your DIY Laundry Detergent that you like?  Share it with us in the comments!

Check out more money-saving tips and DIY Hacks here!

Valentine Restaurant Specials 2016

valentine-restaurant-specials

Valentine Restaurant Specials

Planning to hit the town with a date this Valentine’s Day? Here are several Valentine Restaurant Specials to check out! Scroll through the list below to find coupons, kids eat free offers and heart-themed menu items – but (my favorite) are the Waffle House and White Castle Candle-Lit dinners ;)

And don’t forget, you can save money on your Valentine meal at both National chains (like the Melting Pot) and little local gems (that adorable little pizza place) when you use these fantastic sites:

 

bonefish

Bertucci’s

$35 Valentine’s Dinner for 2 (Feb 11 – 15) Includes 2 Salads, 2 Entrees and Dessert to share. More details here.

Bonefish Grill

Just $29.90 per Person for a Salad, Filet & Lobster Tail or Imperial Sea Bass Entree, and Chocolate Creme Brulee to share. More details here.

 

bojangles-hearts

BoJangles

Heart Shaped Bo-Berry Biscuits are back for Valentine’s Day again this year! You can even print some adorable BoJangles Valentine’s Cards to go with them :)

Buca di Beppo:

Dinner for 2 for $49.99 (Feb 12 – 14) Includes Heart-Shaped Lasagna salad, garlic bread and cannolli – Get more details here.

valentines-2016-calif-pizza-600x307

California Pizza Kitchen

$32.99 Meal for Two – includes Appetizer, 2 Entrees and Dessert. More details here

Chili’s

$35 Cupid’s Combo for Two (Feb 8 – 14). Includes 2 Presidente Margaritas, an appetizer to share, 2 6-oz Sirloins, and a White Chocolate Molten Cake for dessert. More details here.

Dairy Queen

Red Velvet Blizzard Cake for Two only $9.99 – order HERE. Red Velvet Blizzards served upside down or your next one’s free – join the Blizzard fan club for a BOGO Blizzard Coupon to be delivered in your inbox each month.

 

krispyheart

Dunkin Donuts

Heart Shaped Donuts – but no specials we know of yet.

IHOP

All you can eat pancakes through Feb 14 – unlimited stacks for

Krispy Kreme

Heart-shaped donuts that come with printable Valentine’s here. In the past they’ve done this – and may announce it again closer to time (Fingers Crossed!)

Buy a Dozen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and receive a sheet of Krispy Kreme Valentines coupons. There are 12 coupons good for 1 Free doughnut each.

outback-valentines-special-2016-376x600

Outback Steakhouse

$40 Dinner for Two (Feb 8 – 14). Includes Bloomin’ Onion, 2 9-oz Sirloins and sides, 2 Salads and Cheesecake. Get more details here.

Papa John’s

Large Pizza with up to 5 Toppings for $9.99 – see more details and other specials here.

PAPA MURPHY'S HEARTBAKER PIZZA

 

Papa Murphy’s

$7 HeartBaker Pizzas make a great easy dinner for the kiddos. This heart shaped take-n-bake pizza is just $7 (although prices and participation vary) and comes topped with 3 cheeses and pepperoni or sausage. Limit of 3 per customer, good until 2/14.

Pollo Tropical

Text “LOVE2016″ to 52198 to get a coupon code for the “Two Can Dine for $9.99″ Special. Includes 2 Entrees, 2 Drinks, a side and dessert.

 

qdobakiss

Qdoba

Buy One Entree, Get One Free when You Share A Kiss At Qdoba On Feb. 14th – with anyone/thing! No coupon necessary – more details here.

Ruby Tuesday

Enjoy a lobster tail with any entree for $6.99. More info here.

The Rusty Bucket

Kids eat FREE all day on 2/14 only – more details here.

starbucksvalentine

Starbucks

Invite a date to try their new Molten Chocolate Latte with these Valentine date invitation GIF’s

Steak n Shake

Free Valentine Milkshake on your next visit wyb $10 in Giftcards here.

Texas Roadhouse

$36.99 Valentine’s Dinner for Two (Feb 12 – 15). Includes Cactus Blossom or Fried Pickles Appetizer, and choice of 2 Entrees. More details here.

 

wafflehousevalentine

 

Waffle House Candlelit Dinner

Make reservations at Waffle House this Valentine’s Day for a romantic dinner with tablecloths, candles and a classic menu of breakfast items and steak.

 

White Castle Candle-lit Dinner for Two

Select White Castles are taking reservations for a romantic evening where you’ll be seated by a host/hostess and order from special menu items like “Shrimp Nibblers” and “Strawberries & Cream Waffles”.

Staying in tonight?  Check out some yummy Valentine Recipes HERE!

date-night-ideas

If you’re staying in with your sweetie – you might ALSO want to check out this fun game of 30 Truth, Dares or Conversation Starters!  Just print out the sheet of questions and cut them apart.  Fold and put in a cute bowl and bring it out to play with your honey after the kidlets are in bed :)

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Help Save Money with Coupons | 10 Best Tips for Beginners

If you’re looking for tips on how to help save money with coupons, you’re in the right place!  We’ve put together 10 of our best tips for anyone who wants to try couponing but doesn’t know where to start.  {Find more articles on how to save money.}

*Since we’re starting with the basics, you might also want to watch this brief video of Kasey explaining the basics of couponing.

1.  Get some coupons, pronto!

Coupons are EVERYWHERE.  You can print them out online from these main sites – as well as others:

The Sunday paper is the main source for coupons.  Each Sunday newspaper has a couple coupon inserts inside.  If you glance through these before you buy it, and like what you see ( are there several coupons for things you buy often?) go ahead and get 4 or 5 newspapers. (More on that later)

[Read more...]

Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It?

is-kindle-unlimited-worth-it

Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It?

Jamie here! I was thrilled when recently I  received an invite from Amazon to try their Kindle Unlimited service. I read on average 2-3 books a week, and find myself settling for sub-par freebie books pretty often when the ones I *really* want to read are just too pricey.  But once the trial honeymoon is over – is Kindle Unlimited worth it?  Here’s what I think…

In short, Kindle Unlimited will let you choose from a wide variety of eBooks (AND Audiobooks) to read free – and you pay $9.99 a month subscription fee. (After a Free 30 Day Trial)

Like  a library, you can borrow the books, and then return them and borrow more.  You can keep 10 at a time on your device, and although I haven’t tried the audiobooks yet, those count towards your 10 as well.

kindleunlimitedbooks

The Pros:

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- I loved being able to read books I’d stuck on my “wish list” without having to shell out several bucks each.  I also found it helpful that you can search through just the Kindle Unlimited selection to see what’s included.

- I loved that you can do a 30-Day Free Trial Run of Kindle Unlimited to give you time to make up your mind.

- I loved that A LOT of the Kindle Unlimited books offered a free audible version for me to listen to. (Although I didn’t take them up on it, this would have been perfect for long commutes, or our upcoming hours-long basement painting project.)  If you don’t normally listen to audiobooks – it’s pretty neat how you can switch from reading to listening:

Thousands of Kindle books come with the free professionally narrated Audible audiobook. With Whispersync for Voice, whenever you see “Kindle Unlimited with Narration,” you can switch seamlessly between reading and listening without ever losing your place.

girlonthetrain

The Con:

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Don’t expect a ton of best sellers.  I was disappointed that the selection of books excluded MANY of the ones I really, really wanted to read.  For instance, Girl on a Train.  Was so excited to read it, was so bummed that I was still going to have to pay $12.99 for the privilege.

 

In summary….

I think everyone should DEFINITELY go do the free Kindle Unlimited trial (Why not spend the next 30 days devouring every book in the library that you’ve wanted to read but been to cheap to?)

If you decide the selection of Kindle Unlimited books has enough value for you, that $9.99 a month is probably worth it!

What did you think?  Was Kindle Unlimited worth it for you?  What do you feel needs to change for it to be a worthwhile program?

audible

For those of you who love-love-love to listen to books, you’ll also want to get in on the Audible Free Trial!

 

 

Free Printable Date Night Conversation Starters

FREE Printable Date Night Conversation Starters

Jamie here!  We posted this previously as part of our frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas for a night in, but I wanted to repost for those of you who haven’t seen it before.  Now that my kids are back in school, I’m trying to focus on my marriage a little more, and I’ve been thinking that this long weekend might be a perfect time to use this idea again :)

One Valentine’s Day years ago – my husband and I were once again planning an evening in with our four kids because we were a) too broke for both a babysitter and dinner and b) didn’t know any babysitters anyway…

A couple days ahead of time, I decided to think up enough questions to create a little Valentine’s game to play with him.  (Remember how fun it was doing those silly Cosmo quizes with your teenage boyfriend?)  I came up with several questions, dares and activities and wrote them down on slips of paper.  I folded each one up and put them in a heart bowl and waited for Valentine’s Day.

valentine-game

[Read more...]

10 Valentines Candy Alternatives for Classroom Favors!

 

valentines-candy-alternatives

Looking for some Valentine Candy Alternatives to send to school with your child this year?  Last year we had some fun suggestions for Valentine’s Day Ideas for the Classroom, and we’re back with more great Valentine Candy Alternatives for you this year!

PLUS – Each of these has an idea for a phrase you could print out to make it fit in with the Valentine theme :)

 

[Read more...]

Roasted Smash Red Potatoes Recipe

roasted-smash-red-potatoes-recipe

When the weather is chilly, this roasted smash red potatoes recipe will warm you right up!  All the smashed edges and skin get crispy and the inside stays soft and buttery – comfort food at it’s best!

I went to visit my mom without the kids recently and she took me to her Saturday farmer’s market in the town square.  It was so nice out and the produce was lovely – and we found these adorable tiny red potatoes that looked PERFECT for a dish I’ve been wanting to try.  I first saw these on the Pioneer Woman’s blog – I love that Ree! – but I tinkered with it a little using what we had on hand.

jamiemom

Here we are admiring some gourds!

redpotatoes

And here are those cutie potatoes….  Just wash them off and set them in a pot of salted water to boil for 20 minutes, or until tender enough to slide your fork into the biggest one easily.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450!

redpotatoesfork

 

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the potatoes on it.  Drizzle olive oil over the tops, then using a fork or a potato masher, gently smash them down until the skins pop open.  I used my peanut butter cookie method with the fork ;)

They’ll get a little messy, but in the end it won’t matter. (You’ll be plating them with a spatula and eating them with a fork, so how perfect do they really need to be?)

 

redpotatoesoil

Just for good measure, brush some more olive oil over the craggy tops of each potato.  Let it seep into alllllll the nooks and crannies.

parmesanpotatoes

 

Sprinkle a little sea salt over each potato, then spoon a little parmesan cheese, and follow with rosemary and a little garlic on each as well.  Now they’re ready to go!

smashepotatoes

 

Pop these in the oven for about 20 minutes – and then check on them. Depending on the size of your potatoes, they may need a few more minutes to get golden brown.  You want the skin to be crispy and the little crags and points to have a crunch as well.

I hope you and your family enjoy these – and if you’re a potato-fanatic like me, I really think you’ll love these super-cheesy Grilled Potatoes in Foil packets (But you can totally do them in the oven too)

 

Roasted Smash Red Potatoes Recipe
Side Dish
12 - 18
 
When the weather is chilly, these roasted smash red potatoes will warm you right up! All the smashed edges and skin get crispy and the inside stays soft and buttery - comfort food at it's best!
Ingredients
  • 12 - 18 Small Red Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
Instructions
  1. Wash potatoes them and boil in a pot of salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender enough to slide your fork into the biggest one easily.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450
  3. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the potatoes on it.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over the tops, then using a fork or a potato masher, gently smash them down until the skins pop open.
  5. Brush some more olive oil over the craggy tops of each potato.
  6. Sprinkle a little sea salt over each potato, then spoon a little Parmesan cheese, and follow with rosemary and a little garlic on each as well.
  7. Bake near the top of the oven for about 20 minutes - check on them and put them back in for another 5 if need be. (You want the skin to be crispy and the little crags and points to have a crunch as well.)