Easy Homemade Gift Ideas And Other Frugal Gifts

Homemade Gifts
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we’re all getting serious about Christmas gifts. In the HBHW Club, we’ve been talking about easy homemade gift ideas as well as some other frugal presents for the past few weeks.

I’ve compiled our best ideas into a free report for you called the ABCs of Christmas Gift Giving. You’ll be able to download the report below and of course you are welcome to share it with family and friends.

I would also like to invite you to join the Hillbilly Housewife Club at www.Hillbillyhousewifeclub.com

Here’s the frugal gift idea report – you’ll find plenty of ideas for every letter of the alphabet (even x and y). Enjoy!

The ABCs Of Gift Giving (PDF)


Susanne Myers – The Hillbilly Housewife

Crockpot Turkey Frame Soup

  • 1 carcass (frame of turkey), wings, bones, skin and everything from your leftover cooked turkey
  • 3 stalks celery complete with leaves
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 5 black peppercorns

Remove all the good meat from the carcass, wrap well and set aside in the refrigerator. Then, break up the bones and the turkey frame (carcass)  into pieces small enough to fit into your crock pot.  Be sure you’re using at least a 4 or 5 quart crock pot.  Cover the turkey bones with cold water, about 3 quarts should do it, depending on the bird and the size of your crock pot.  Just try to cover the turkey completely.

Now, wash and cut the celery into big chunks, including the leaves, and throw in the crock pot. Scrub the onion with a brush under running water to remove all dirt, especially in the root. Yes, leave the skin on but be sure the root is clean and all dry or loose skin is removed.  (Cut the root off if you’re not comfortable with this.) Then cut the onion into quarters and put that in the crock pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, put the cover on the crock pot and turn it to LOW setting.  Let the turkey stock cook like that on LOW all day, but if you can, try to leave it for a full 24 hours… the longer the better.  Don’t peek!  Every time you lift the lid it takes a long time to get simmering again.

After you’ve let it simmer in the crock pot for as long as possible, cool a little and dig out as many bones and stuff as possible with a slotted spoon.  Then lift out the crock pot insert and pour through a strainer or colander into a clean soup pot.  Discard everything you strained out.

If you’re saving the stock for another day, cool the stock quickly by putting the strained stock in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  It can then be moved to the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to make your soup, strain off any fat that may have gathered on top.  Using a big soup pot, bring the stock back up to a boil slowly, then turn down to a nice even simmer and add your soup ingredients.  I suggest:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup pasta
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey
  • salt and pepper

Simmer for about 15 minutes. Now taste for salt and pepper and add what you like.  Add about 1 cup of pasta if you like now and let simmer until the pasta is just getting tender.  Then add some diced turkey and keep simmering until the turkey is hot and the pasta is cooked thoroughly.  This crock pot turkey stock recipe will make about 3 or 4 quarts of soup and will freeze very well.

Ready to learn more about crockpot cooking? Get my Crockpot Cooking Made Simple ebook today and find out how you can work this into your meal plan, how to choose a good crockpot and most importantly how to convert your favorite recipes to work in a slow cooker.


Frugal Tea Without The Stove

When I make tea I use 3 large tea bags or 6 small tea bags to a gallon of HOT tap water. *Add 3/4 cups of sugar for sweet tea. I dont have to use gas or electric. Just let it do its own thing like sun tea. Takes a little longer but is worth it – Connie

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Organized Grocery List

When I make my grocery list, I list things needed in the order they appear in the store. I also place my coupons in the order the items appear in the store. If the item is on sale, I place an “S” beside the listed item. That way I can see if the store has the sale item marked appropriately. If I have a coupon for the listed item, I place a “C” beside the item as well. That reminds me that I have a coupon. All these things help me to stay organized & get out of the store sooner!

From The Hillbilly Housewife

That’s an excellent idea. I do the same thing. One of the reasons why I recommend Menu Planning Central’s Meal Planning Service is because they do this as well. It saves so much time not having to run back and forth through the grocery store when you spent a little bit of time organizing your list first.

Leftover Turkey Crockpot Recipes

After we’ve eaten about as much turkey as we can handle around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I like to freeze the rest of the meat and use it in various crockpot recipes during the cold winter months.

I often buy an extra turkey or two right after Thanksgiving when stores mark them down. I just stick them in the oven and cook them while I’m busy around the house. Once the turkey had a chance to cool, I set some of the meat aside for dinner that night, then remove the rest and chop it up for freezer meals. The remaining turkey carcass can be used to make turkey stock. The finished stock will last about 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer and it can be used instead of chicken stock or chicken broth in any recipe.

Crockpot Here are some of my favorite leftover turkey crockpot recipes. All of them are quick and easy to put together and practically cook themselves. Start them in the morning and come home to a hot, home-cooked meal at night.

Let’s start with one of my family’s favorites – chili. It is such a nice change from the traditional turkey dinner flavor. By day three we are usually tired of that and this chili is just perfect. I make a large batch and freeze any leftovers. You can also make this turkey chili with regular ground turkey.

Crockpot Turkey Chili

Then of course there’s the always popular turkey and rice soup. We usually have some of that the day after Thanksgiving. I make the stock (see note above) that night or first thing in the morning and then use it to cook this soup in the slow cooker.

Crockpot Turkey and Rice Soup

Or if you prefer, take a look at this turkey and noodle soup. It’s also delicious as a chicken and noodle soup when you don’t have leftover turkey to work with.

Easy Crockpot Turkey Noodle Soup

Last but not least, there are hot turkey sandwiches. They are just so much yummier than the plain old turkey and mayo ones. Give them a try and see  if you don’t fall in love with this cheesy version as well.

Hot Turkey Sandwiches from the Crockpot

I’m sure there are plenty more crockpot recipes that use leftover turkey. Feel free to post yours as a comment below. I have two more turkeys sitting in my freezer and will have plenty of cooked turkey meat to go around. Can’t wait to try out some new recipes.

Hot Turkey Sandwiches From The Crockpot

Everybody makes the usual cold turkey and mayonnaise sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving.  This year, why don’t your surprise your family with these hot turkey sandwiches from the crockpot. They are cheesy, delicious and a huge hit at our house. My six year old things this is by far the best way to eat turkey.

  • 6 c. diced turkey
  • 3 cups Velveeta cheese (American cheese), diced or shredded
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or make your own)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (or make your own)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. Miracle Whip

Combine everything in your crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir every 30 minutes or so. Serve on buns. I usually make these 30 minute buns when I serve these hot turkey sandwiches.

Ready to learn more about crockpot cooking? Get my Crockpot Cooking Made Simple ebook today and find out how you can work this into your meal plan, how to choose a good crockpot and most importantly how to convert your favorite recipes to work in a slow cooker.


Easy Crockpot Turkey Noodle Soup

Here’s a great dish to use leftover turkey in. If you don’t have any, you can easily substitute cooked chicken. I use some of the turkey stock I make from the carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey.

  • 2 cups of cooked turkey
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups turkey broth
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 ounces noodles

Cut your turkey (from leftover roasted turkey) into bitesize chunks.Chop the onion, carrot and celery. Place everything except noodles in your crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. Remove the bay leaf and add the noodles. Cook another hour on low or 1/2 hour on high until the noodles are soft. Serve the soup hot.

Yummy turkey and noodle soup made in the slowcooker.


Ready to learn more about crockpot cooking? Get my Crockpot Cooking Made Simple ebook today and find out how you can work this into your meal plan, how to choose a good crockpot and most importantly how to convert your favorite recipes to work in a slow cooker.


Home Style Chicken Dinner

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, if desired
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 envelope (.87 ounce) chicken gravy mix
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag frozen baby whole potatoes, broccoli, carrots, baby corn and red bell peppers strips
  • 1 (4 1/2-ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, drained
  • Chopped fresh chives or parsley, if desired

1. Melt butter in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in butter 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.

2. Mix water and gravy mix (dry) in small bowl; pour into same skillet. Stir in frozen vegetables and mushrooms. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until largest pieces of potato are hot. Add chicken; cover and simmer about 2 minutes or until chicken is heated through.

3. Serve vegetable and gravy mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with chives.

Rigatoni Pizza Stew

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 pound Italian sausage links, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Italian-style tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices (1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rigatoni pasta (4 1/2)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

1. Spray 4-quart Dutch oven with cooking spray. Cook sausage in Dutch oven over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain.

2. Stir tomatoes, broth, water, tomato paste, onion and carrots into sausage. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook about 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.

3. Stir in pasta and zucchini. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender. Serve topped with cheese.

Tarragon Chicken

Makes 4 servings

  • 3 chicken breasts, skinless, halves
  • 3 zucchini, small, halved, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, small
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place chicken breasts in freezer bag.  Combine vegetables in a separate freezer bag.  Attach to chicken with tape.  Label and freeze

When ready to prepare, arrange thawed chicken, meat side up, in a greased 9x13x2″ baking dish.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Arrange frozen vegetables around and over chicken.  Combine remaining ingredients; drizzle over chicken and vegetables. Cover and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes or until chicken is done.

Turkey Pasta Casserole

Makes 4 servings

  • 3/4 cup uncooked small pasta shells or elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (from 1-pound bag)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can Italian-style tomato sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 400°. Cook pasta as directed on package. While pasta is cooking, cook chicken in 10-inch skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain.

2. Spoon chicken into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Stir in frozen vegetables, tomato sauce, pasta, garlic salt and pepper.

3. Cover and bake about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir; sprinkle with cheese.

No-Wok Stir-Fry

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks or tidbits in own juice Water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger ground
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound broiler-fryer chicken skinned
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage or water chestnuts
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • Additional vegetable oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup almonds toasted, cashews or peanuts (optional)
  • White rice Hot cooked, or noodles

Drain pineapple juice into a glass measuring cup. Add enough water to measure 1 cup liquid. Set pineapple aside. Pour liquid into a shallow 1 1/2- or 2-quart dish. Add vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of the oil, soy sauce, catsup, bouillon granules, ginger and garlic. Stir until blended.

Cut chicken into bite-size strips. Add to marinade, stirring to coat. Let stand while preparing vegetables.

Cut or slice tender vegetables into 1- to 1 1/2 -inch pieces. Longer cooking vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots should be cut in smaller pieces.

In a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil until very hot. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from marinade; reserve marinade. Place chicken and sesame seeds in hot skillet. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until center of chicken pieces are no longer pink. Remove to a plate; keep warm. Add additional oil to skillet if necessary. Stir-fry vegetables until partially tender. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for 2 minutes.

Add reserved marinade and pineapple to skillet. Stirring, bring to a boil and boil until thickened. Return chicken to skillet and stir gently until heated through. Sprinkle with nuts.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Country Chicken Breasts

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 cup carrots thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup green onions sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or bouillon
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 chicken breasts boneless
  • 2 ounces ham cooked, cut in thin strips

In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, sauté carrots in butter or margarine for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add green onions and sauté for 30 seconds or until limp.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir until blended. Add broth or bouillon, cream, sherry and pepper. Stirring, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until thickened and slightly reduced.

Remove skin from chicken breasts. Place chicken in skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer or until firm in the thickest part and no longer pink in the center.

Transfer chicken to a warm platter; cover with some of the sauce. Garnish with ham and serve remaining sauce separately.

How To Make Turkey Stock

One of the things I traditionally do the morning after Thanksgiving is to make a big pot of turkey stock. Depending on how early we eat our big Thanksgiving meal, I have even done it that evening. Here’s how I make it.

  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, cut up
  • 2 medium carrots, cut up
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried leaf thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • dash pepper

Add your turkey carcass to a large stock pot. If needed, break it up into pieces. Add everything else to the pot and cover it with plenty of cold water. I usually fill mine up to 2 to 3 inches below the lip of the pot. Turn your stove to medium heat and allow the stock to come to a simmer, turn the heat down to low to simmer everything for 3 hours. During the first 30 minutes skim any foamy buildup from the top with a large spoon. The more you skim, the better your final stock will be.

Allow the stock mixture to cook, then strain it into another pot. Put the stock into the fridge overnight. This will allow all the fat in the broth to come to the top and solidify. In the morning, you’ll have a solid piece of fat on top of the pot. Gently remove it and toss it. Use your turkey stock in your favorite soup and stew dishes. I like to use it in this crockpot turkey soup recipe.