Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

Pumpkin is such a fall favorite. Previously, I shared a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls and for Pumpkin Pie S’Mores that were a hit.

Today, I have a short post for you that is really a tip.

These pumpkin pie sandwich cookies pictured are super simple to make. You just take the pumpkin graham crackers from the s’mores and then slather some of the pumpkin pie spiced icing from the rolls and boom! Pumpkin sandwich cookies.

Two recipes, three results. I love when that happens!

Try it and let me know what you think!

New Sides to Try This Thanksgiving

New Sides to Try this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about the food. You may have tried-and-true recipes that you rely on each year or you may be more adventurous and like to try new recipes each year. Today I have a list of sides for your Thanksgiving dinner planning consideration.

Salad Sides

Slow Cooker Sides

Traditional With a Twist Sides

Tell me, are you a more traditional dinner fan or do you like to mix it up and try new things?

4 Other Uses for Pizza Dough

4 Ways to Use Pizza Dough...That Aren't Pizza - Vicki-Arnold.com

Pizza is not the only thing you can make with your pizza dough. There are enough options between creative pizza toppings and these extra options to keep your homemade pizza dough in a weekly meal rotation. Often enough that you will likely memorize the recipe, but not get bored.

Calzones

Calzones are delicious. All you do is divide your dough into  equal parts or you can take handfuls of it off at a time like I do. You roll out your dough until it is thin, but not super thin. On that you put your cheese and other typical pizza toppings. Then you fold it all up into a nice pocket, carefully sealing any edges, and bake.

I usually bake calzones at the same time and temp as our pizzas, 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve with small bowls of marinara sauce for dipping.

Bread Sticks

After your dough has risen, you shape them into whatever shape you want. Add any toppings like garlic butter or olive oil and parmesan cheese and let the bread sticks rise about 20 minutes or so before putting them into the oven.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Cheesy Bread

Ok, so essentially this is pizza with no sauce or toppings other than cheese. That doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. Roll out your dough on your pizza stone and slather it with garlic, olive oil, and cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. When slightly cooled, use your pizza cutter to slice any way you want.

Stromboli

I discovered this way to use pizza dough about a year ago when I was needing something for pizza night that wasn’t pizza. It is really good. Here are a few different recipes with various ingredients (don’t used store bought doughs, homemade is super easy):

I never realized there were so many stromboli options! I’ll be trying some of these soon. How about you?

How to Make Your Own Pizza Dough + 20 Ways to Top It!

How to Make Your Own Pizza Dough Plus 20 Ways to Top It!

For a long time, we had pizza weekly. Sometimes even twice because we would have homemade pizza one night and then have pizza when we did our Costco shopping. While Costco pizza is a super good buy, it is still cheaper to make your own.

Especially if you are picking up your ingredients at Costco. Which I do.

We kind of got burned out on pizza, but it is now finding its way onto our meal plans again. I used to have the recipe memorized, but since it has been so long the most recent time I made it, it kind of flopped because I thought I could remember the recipe. Turns out, no.

Don’t you worry, I grabbed my recipe card to share with you here. This started as a dinner roll recipe for me and I tweaked it a bit to make it a yummy pizza crust.

Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 1 1/4 c. warm water
  • 3 t. yeast
  • 2-3 T. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 6 T. butter, cut in pieces and at room temp OR 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 4 cups flour

Put the yeast in the bowl of your mixer and pour the warm water over it (do not get this too hot, it will kill your yeast). Let this sit for a minute or two, this is called letting your yeast bloom.

Add the sugar to your water/yeast mixture. Drop in the butter pieces or pour in your olive oil. Sprinkle your flour on top and then the salt. Using your dough hook, mix up the dough until it is soft and holds together nicely. I usually do this for about 8-10 minutes. Sometimes you need to add a little extra flour or a little water to get your dough the right consistency.

Cover the mixing bowl with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and let sit for about 1 1/2 hours. The dough should be double the size it started from. This dough is enough to make 2 large pizzas on my large pizza stones.

Spread your dough out on your oiled or seasoned pans/stones and then top them with whatever toppings you want.

I usually bake the pizzas at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

Ways to Top Your Pizza Crust

Our favorite ways to top our pizza crust:

  • mozzarella, pepperoni, and pineapple with regular pizza sauce
  • chicken, bell peppers, red onion, pineapple, and mozzarella with barbecue sauce
  • chicken, bacon, and mozzarella on ranch dressing
  • brussel sprout, bacon, mozzarella, and parmesan

There are many creative ways to top your homemade dough. Here is a list of ideas to get you going beyond the traditional cheese and/or pepperoni:

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls recipe from Vicki-Arnold.com

My family is a huge fan of cinnamon rolls. I’ve made some variations over the years, but recently decided to really stretch myself and experiment some. These rolls are the first in what I hope will be many recipes.

These have delicious pumpkin in the dough and pumpkin pie spices in the icing. I used canned pumpkin, but you can use home roasted, if you’d like. Just make sure it is thick like canned or your dough will be too sticky.

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls recipe from Vicki-Arnold.com

When you roll the dough out, you will want it to be as thin as you can get it without tearing. Mine rolled out to about 32″ on the long side.

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls recipe from Vicki-Arnold.com

As with my Orange Creamsicle Sweet Rolls, I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer to make these.

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls recipe | Vicki-Arnold.com

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Dough

  • 1 C. milk
  • 3 t. yeast
  • 1/3 C. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. pumpkin puree
  • 5 C. all-purpose flour

Put yeast in mixing bowl. In saucepan, warm your milk. Add milk and butter to mixing bowl. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and flour to bowl. Using the dough hook, mix and let knead for 10 minutes. The dough will be a little wet and very soft. If too wet, add a little extra flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

When first rise is complete, dump dough onto a buttered surface. Roll (or press) dough into a large rectangle.

Filling

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 t. pumpkin pie spice

Smear the butter all over the dough. Combine brown sugar and spices into a bowl, then sprinkle evenly across the buttered dough. Roll the dough into a log, using the long side. Slice the rolls into 1 1/2″ to 2″ rounds and place in a buttered baking dish. Depending on how pliable the dough is, you will have 12-20 rolls. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After rising, cook for 15 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before icing.

Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t. cinnamon

Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined, then beat until fluffy. Either spread icing on warm rolls or place in a bowl for individual icing preferences.

Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls recipe | Vicki-Arnold.com

Shared at – Try a New Recipe Tuesday

Pumpkin Pie S’Mores

Pumpkin Pie S'Mores | Vicki-Arnold.com

For the second recipe in our series, I have another pumpkin goodie. I decided to combine two of fall’s favorites. S’Mores + Pumpkin = Pumpkin Pie Smores.

You need your typical s’more ingredients of marshmallows and chocolate, but you can’t just buy pumpkin graham crackers, now can you? Well, I have a solution for you!

Pumpkin Pie S'Mores - get the pumpkin pie graham cracker recipe at Vicki-Arnold.com

Pumpkin Pie Graham Crackers

  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 1/2 C. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. pumpkin pie spice

Put butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, and honey in mixing bowl, beat on medium speed until creamy. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, mix until blended well.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Dump the dough onto a large section of parchment paper, flatten the dough into a disc and wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

After the dough has chilled, roll it out between layers of parchment paper. You want it to be as thin as your finished graham crackers. The dough does not rise much at all. Cut out your graham crackers. You do not have to use pumpkin cookie cutters, use any shape you want.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, turning the sheet as needed. Remove from oven and cool before using to make s’mores.

To turn these into s’mores, just roast a marshmallow, put some chocolate on the graham cracker, then smoosh the warm marshmallow between the graham crackers until they look something like this:

Pumpkin Pie S'Mores - get the pumpkin pie graham cracker recipe at Vicki-Arnold.com

Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Shake

Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Shake | Simply Vicki - Vicki-Arnold.com

Let me tell you first thing, I’m not a health expert. I have probably done more than my fair share of research in the area of nutrition and health, but I don’t consider myself an expert. On anything really. That said, I think this is a pretty healthy shake. For one, no ice cream.

I started making these when I went off all sugar and caffeine for several weeks to help my adrenals heal and hopefully reduce or eliminate the panic attacks. After a couple weeks, I was really missing something sweet. So I decided to try the raw cacao powder and see if it would answer my chocolate cravings. It did and it did not trigger panic attacks. I’ve been drinking them ever since.

A quick rundown of the ingredients:

I like to make this shake in the morning and pair it with a couple eggs fried in coconut oil and a piece or two of sourdough toast. I tend to eat later in the morning and this will hold me through lunch. I’ll have a snack in the middle of the afternoon and be good until dinner.

I was also adding raw almond butter to the mix, but then there was a huge recall for salmonella, which I came down with a small case of. It was really good, but I haven’t been able to add it back in since. I am considering finding a protein powder that I like. The Tera’s Whey brand looks to be highly recommended.

Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Shake | Simply Vicki - Vicki-Arnold.com

Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Shake Recipe

Maybe now is the time to tell you that I tend to not follow recipes when I cook. I do when I bake, but cooking lends itself to eyeballing amounts for me. Since I do love you all, I went ahead and measured out some ingredients to give you all an actual recipe.

I use the single serve cup of my Ninja blender to make these. I highly recommend that blender, Costco had a great deal that came with the 72 ounce pitcher, 3 of the 16 ounce single serve cups, and the food processor bowl. The single serve cups use a different blade than the pitcher and do a nice job of blending tiny seeds like chia and flax.

Place all in blender cup, in the order listed. Blend until smooth.

Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Shake | Simply Vicki - Vicki-Arnold.com

Enjoy!

How to Save Money Feeding Your Family

How to Save Money Feeding Your Family from Vicki-Arnold.com

And no, this is not another gardening post. I will take the moment to say that growing your own food is the best money saving tip I have, but I’ve already covered that. So today we are talking strategies to feeding your family for $25 per person for a full week.

That equates to $3.57 per person, per day. To break it down even further, $1 per meal and $.57 for two snacks per person.

I’m just gonna tell you right now that this post is going to be long because I’m going to share a some general money saving strategies, a detailed menu plan with cost breakdown, a free meal planning packet, AND there is going to be a collection of resources known as a linky at the bottom. This linky will have other posts linked up because this post is part of the $100 Grocery Budget Challenge that was created in a blogging group I belong to called Inspired Bloggers Network.

$100 Grocery Budget Challenge Details

The challenge is to show that it is possible to feed a family on $25 per person per week. So $100 for a family of 4, $200 for a family of 8, etc. In our family, we have 6 to feed: 2 adults, 3 kids, and 1 toddler. My almost 10 year old son eats like an adult and we regularly have an extra preschooler.

Our typical grocery budget is actually $125/week, which is less than this challenge already for us ($150), BUT. Big but here. I usually go over that budget because we also have a Miscellaneous fund that I pull drive thru stops and meals out from. As well as any other dietary “splurge” purchases (think sweet treats). The challenge for me this pay period is to stick with the $150.

For reference sake, I’m supposed to tell you that we are in Indiana. And now, let’s get started.

How I Save Money While Grocery Shopping

Coupons are not a regular part of my grocery shopping, I just don’t have the time for them. I do use them when I come across them, I just don’t spend a lot of time hunting them down and clipping them.

And we don’t stockpile items for the most part. I do stock up when I visit certain stores, but we do not have large reserves of toothpaste, shampoo, and tooth brushes in our house.

  • Eat before I shop. I almost didn’t include this because it’s so basic, but I don’t do it approximately half the time so I apparently need the reminder. Grocery shopping while hungry = shopping with your stomach. And you want to shop with your brain. Your brain wants to save money, your stomach wants to eat.
  • Shop prepared. I am one of those people who dreads putting a meal plan together because I tend to dislike being told what to do…even if it’s my own plan telling me what to do. I would much rather prefer eating whatever I feel like it, when I feel like it. The problem with this is that is makes grocery shopping ridiculously expensive because you have to keep more things on hand to cook impulsively. However, taking the time to make a meal plan and a shopping list saves me time (and money) in the long run. I’ll share my meal planning strategy in the next section.
  • Bulk stores. We have a little specialty store in town. Folks around here call it a bulk store, but it’s not a REAL bulk store because the food comes pre-packaged (by the store workers), you don’t choose the amount you buy, but I digress. I buy things like oats (steel cut and old fashioned), specialty flours, and some spices here.
  • Independent discount stores. We have a little discount store run by the local Amish community that is about 45 minutes from my house. I usually make a trip once a month there. I buy things like granola bars, cereals, organic baby food pouches, and any other regular grocery items they happen to have. The items at this store are discounted because of dented boxes, torn labels, discontinuation, and past sale dates. We have occasionally picked up something that was stale (taco shells that cost me $.49) and something that just smelled off (a $1.20 bag of dried fruit) that we ended up pitching, but that has been a rare occurrence for us. I regularly buy outdated boxes of cereal for $1, boxes of organic granola bars for $1.25, and organic baby food pouches for $.39. The last trip I made, I bought a 12 roll pack of Scott 1,000 sheet toilet paper for $5. This is one store that I do stock up on whatever I can get when I do make the trek out.
  • Chain discount stores. There are two Ollie’s Bargain Outlets within 30 minutes of us. I recently discovered that I could also get organic granola bards for $1/box there, too! I already like to stop in here to check out their book selection so it’s not out of my way to walk across the store to see what grocery deals they have. My favorite score so far has been a $7.99 box of Larabar Alt protein bars, 15 bars! Big Lots also has grocery deals sometimes, but I am not in that store regularly.
  • Costco. I big puffy pink heart love Costco. We buy all sorts of things at Costco, like books, movies, clothes, batteries, printer paper, and the random awesome deals that show up. I drive almost 45 minutes every other week to go to Costco. That’s how much I love it. As far as groceries go, we buy organic broccoli florets, packages of bell peppers ($6 for 6), bags of frozen organic fruit for smoothies, butter, cheese, and much much more.
  • Manager’s Special & Clearance. I always look for these when I grocery shop. I know where they are in the local Krogers and can spot them in Meijer’s, too. It’s not dependable what you can find, but when you do find something, it’s usually quite the score. We like Larabars here. They are regularly on sale for $1, I found some on manager’s special once for $.75. Those quarters really do add up! I especially love when I find them on manager’s special and have a Swagbucks coupon to use on top of it. Score!

How I Meal Plan

Over the years, it’s changed. I’ve done the following:

  • Fly by the seat of my pants. We eat a lot of spaghetti and breakfast for dinners during these times. It gets old.
  • Detailed breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and treats for one week and two week intervals. I never stick to this.

Now, I do this. I come up with 7 dinners, 3-4 lunches, 3-4 breakfasts, and a handful of fruits, veggies, and other snacks. I put them on a piece of paper and then check them off as I use them. I make sure to mark if the meal is something special like a crockpot meal so that I don’t wait too long to start those. This seems to give me the balance of structure and flexibility that I need.

$100 Weekly Meal Plan

This is a sample of a $100 weekly meal plan for our home.

Breakfasts

  • Cereal – I buy these for $1-$2 per box. We will use 2-3 boxes per week plus a gallon of milk ($3 regularly priced, but regularly on sale for$2-$2.50 or free with other purchase promotions). We’ll overestimate to $9.
  • Eggs and toast – We have chickens that lay our eggs, which are not free because we do buy feed. However, it doesn’t come out of my grocery money and we don’t calculate the per egg cost. We are also often given day old bread from a bakery, which I freeze and we use as needed. The eggs I buy in the winter when our hens aren’t laying cost $2.50 per dozen. My husband eats 2 eggs for breakfast every morning and we will eat a batch of 6-8 scrambled eggs once or twice a week. So I will figure the cost for this at $7.50 for the eggs (3 dozen) and $2 for two loaves of store brand bread, for a total of $9.50 for the week.
  • Oatmeal – I buy this for $.79/lb. at the local bulk food store. A $3 bag lasts us well beyond a week because we don’t eat it frequently. I like to add cinnamon, a little sugar, and raisins. I buy our raisins from Costco, 2 – 36 oz bags for approximately $8. For a week’s worth of oatmeal we might use 1/4 of a bag, roughly $1. Sugar is bought from Costco as well, a 10 pound bag of organic evaporated cane sugar is $10. I use 1/4 cup for 6 cups of cooked oatmeal. I’m going to overestimate the sugar cost to $1 for the week. Total weekly+ cost $5.

Lunches

  • Leftovers – We eat a lot of leftovers for lunch. My husband takes them every day to work and we often have them at home. Cost = $0.
  • Pancakes – Sometimes we do bigger, more time consuming breakfast recipes for lunch. Pancakes and french toast are popular choices. I’ll use the 6 eggs left from the 3 dozen accounted for in our breakfasts for this. That gives me two lunches with a triple batch of pancakes. We often add chocolate chips to ours, but plain are just as yummy if I don’t have chocolate chips on hand (like now). I buy syrup from Costco, $6 for 2 huge bottles that last us months (obviously not real maple syrup). Flour and olive oil also bought at Costco. Baking powder is $2 for a can at Kroger. I buy Redmond Real Salt from Azure Standard. I used this article to help me estimate the cost, we make standard pancakes. Cost = $3.60 to have them twice in a week.
  • Sandwiches – Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make an appearance in our diet roughly once a week. The peanut butter we use is $6/jar because it is SO worth it. Jelly is either home canned, $1 jars from the discount store, or $4 quart jars from Costco. We never use a whole jar of either peanut butter or jelly, I’ll call it 1/3 because sometimes we do put jelly on our toast in the morning. Cost: $3.

Snacks

  • Granola bars – These are the $1-$1.25 boxes from discount stores. With the average of 6 in a box, the cost per bar is $.21. The kids are allowed 1-2 per day, depending on the day’s activities and other factors (some days they are simply more hungry). I will figure 5 boxes at $1.25 each. Cost = $6.25.
  • Apples and bananas – A bag of apples and 3 bunches of bananas. Cost = $6.
  • Chips and salsa – Cost is counted with a dinner below because we have about half of what I buy for the meal left. Cost = $0.

Dinners

  • Beef and Bean Dip – This has beans ($2 for dry), diced tomatoes ($1), ground beef ($4), onions ($1), and spices (nominal). We buy a big bag of tortilla chips from Costco for $5 and will use it for this meal, as a side with tacos, and as a snack. This makes lots of leftovers, I’ll share a detailed breakdown with a recipe in the future. Cost = $13.
  • Spaghetti – My marinara sauce costs less than $7 for an 8-quart stock pot full. And it smells delicious as it simmers, too. We use 1/4 of that for a meal (freeze the extra), plus 2 boxes of spaghetti ($2). Cost = $4.
  • Pizza – I’ll use another 1/4 of the marinara sauce here (less than $2). I buy mozzarella cheese pre-shredded from Costco, $12 for a 5 pound bag. I don’t think we use 1/4 of the package, but I’ve never actually measured how much we do use ($3). We top our pizza with pepperoni ($3/package that we don’t fully use in one week), pineapple tidbits ($1), bell peppers ($2), and any variety of items we have left from other meals like onions, mushrooms, etc. I home make our pizza dough in my Kitchenaid mixer (estimating based on this to $1). This makes us 2 large pizzas, usually enough for leftovers. We pair this with home canned green beans ($0). Cost = $12.
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes – We actually successfully grew potatoes in our garden this year! But for the sake of this, I’ll estimate the cost of a 5 pound bag ($2 on sale regularly). We top our baked potatoes with sour cream ($1 on sale), cheddar cheese (bought at Costco, shredded at home for $8 for a two pound block of Tillamook medium cheddar, cost for this meal’s worth is $3), sauteed broccoli ($2), and bacon (Coleman’s uncured, $12 for 3 packages at Costco, $4). Cost = $12.
  • Tacos – We brown up 2 pounds of ground beef with an onion ($6). Other parts to this meal – taco shells ($1), tortilla shells ($1), salsa ($5 from Costco, see snacks), lettuce ($1), cheese ($3), sour cream ($1), and jalapenos ($3 for a jar that lasts us a few meals). Total cost = $21.
  • Veggie Stew – This is a pretty cheap meal to put together. I home make our chicken broth (so super easy) and will pair that with a can of tomato juice ($3) for the base. Then I add in a bunch of celery ($1), carrots ($1’s worth), a couple potatoes ($1), a turnip or two ($1), and an onion ($1). Then, voila! I have an 8-quart pot of stew. I’ll even toss in leftover corn, frozen green beans, and other veggies that I have leftover from other meals into the pot for a different soup each time. Total cost = $8.
  • White Chili – This is from one of the Fix It and Forget It cookbooks. It costs $10 for a large crockpot full.

And there you have it, a meal plan that will feed my family of 6 for a full 7 days for a total of $122.35.

Free Meal Planning Pages

I made a set of meal planning pages for you. There are two weekly meal plan pages, a page for shopping lists, and coordinating recipe cards.

Free Meal Planning Pages from Vicki-Arnold.com

Download yours today!

$100 Grocery Challenge Links

$100 Grocery Challenge

Below you will find more tips, tricks, and helps for saving money feeding your family.

Share your tips in the comments!