PIONEER CREDIT BLOG

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Important Tax Dates

Use this simplified listing to stay on top of this tax season’s deadlines. Keep in mind, these are not the only deadlines for tax season and dates for tax deadlines change each year.

January January 17th: Deadline to pay your fourth quarter estimated tax payment for the year 2016. *Tip: You can skip this estimated payment without penalty if you file your return and pay your balance in full by February 1, 2017.

January 23th: Opening day to file 2016 individual tax returns.

February February 1st: Deadline for self-employed individuals to file and to pay their taxes in order to avoid a penalty if they do not make their fourth quarter estimated tax payment. *Tip: You should receive a W-2 form from your employer by this date in order to file taxes for 2016. If you do not receive a W-2 form by this date, you should contact your employer immediately. February 15th: Deadline for employees who claim exemption from withholding to file a new W-4 form with their employers.

April April 18th: Deadline to file individual tax returns (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) for the year 2016, or to request an automatic extension (Form 4868). *Tip: An extension provides an extra six months to file your return, but payment of the tax is still due by April 18th. You can submit payment for tax along with the extension form.

Last day to make a contribution to traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Health Savings Account, SEP-IRA, or solo 401k for the 2016 tax year.

First quarter estimated tax payments due for the 2016 tax year.

Final deadline to file an original tax return (Form 1040) and amended tax return (Form 1040X) for the tax year 2016 and still claim a tax refund. *Tip: Make sure to mail the amended return well before April 18th to guarantee your tax refund will be processed in a timely manner. In addition, obtain proof of mailing, such as a certified mail receipt, for your records.

Deadline to file estate income tax or trust income tax returns (Form 1041), or to request an automatic five-month extension of time to file (Form 7004).

Deadline to file partnership tax returns (Form 1065), or to request an automatic five month extension of time to file (Form 7004).

Final deadline for estates, trusts, or partnerships to file an amended tax return and still claim a tax refund for the year 2016.

Source: Tax Calendars for 2017 (IRS Publication 509)

 

Sources: Tax Calendars for use in 2016 (IRS Publication 509) and About Money

How to Stay Fit

Whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, or to simply live a healthier lifestyle, follow our tips and tricks to make it happen.

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Clean out your pantry- Kick start your New Year’s resolution to lose weight by cleaning out your pantry. Throw out anything that contains trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup.

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Cut back on eating out- In order to consistently lose weight, it’s extremely important to change your eating habits and to adopt a “healthy lifestyle” approach. This starts with cutting back on eating out. Since the fast pace of today’s world makes it nearly impossible to cut dining out completely, order wisely when at restaurants. Opt for the grilled chicken sandwich without mayo instead of a burger, or if you order a salad, ask for the dressing on the side.

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Portion control- Portion size is extremely important to consider when losing weight. Some quick references to remember when controlling portion sizes are: three ounces of lean meat is equivalent to a deck of cards, and 1 cup of breakfast cereal is about the size of your fist.

When cooking and purchasing foods, make sure to look at the nutrition facts to determine what is considered a serving. Then, measure out your serving size.  This will help you determine exactly how much you are consuming and, in turn, prevent you from overeating.

Eating out is another battle when controlling portion sizes. A tip to control portion size when eating out is to immediately box-up half your meal. This will prevent you from overeating, no matter how tasty your meal may be.

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Plan your meals- Plan all your meals at the beginning of each week, including snacks. Then make a grocery list only including these items, and stick to it! This will allow you to start the week off with the right mindset. Whether you 100% stick to your plan or not, at least you will have more control over your diet then if didn’t have a plan at all. A bonus to planning your meals is cutting out overspending on your grocery bill. Need some help planning healthy meals? Click here to discover how to incorporate healthy foods into your diet.

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Keep a food journal- Writing down what you eat throughout the day will allow you to analyze your eating habits. At the end of each day refer back to your food journal and ask yourself questions such as, “”Did I eat at least 4-5 servings of fruit and veggies?’ ‘Did I eat correct portion sizes?’ and ‘Did I eat when I wasn’t hungry?’”.

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Develop an exercise routine- Design an exercise routine that fits your interests and schedule, and stick to it! For example, if you get home from work on Mondays by 5 p.m., dedicate that night to running or doing a class at the gym. Make sure to add variety to your workout routine as well. This will help you work all your muscle groups, and keep you from getting bored with your routine.

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Get an exercise buddy-Exercising with a buddy can make the whole gym process a lot less intimidating, and even fun!  Make plans together to go on runs, walks, to yoga, or to the gym. Having a workout buddy motivates you to not only exercise, but to also push yourself harder when working out.

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Drink plenty of water– Constantly drinking water is a vital factor in any diet. It can help keep you full longer, help energize muscles, and it has been shown to increase your metabolism by up to 3%! Generally experts say to drink at least eight, eight ounce cups of water a day, which can be a challenge at times. Tips to drink more water include always keeping a glass of water at your desk, carrying a water bottle around with you whenever possible, substituting at least one beverage a day for water, and using flavored water enhancers if you still need something sweet.

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Eat lean protein- Eating foods with high levels of lean protein will help you stay full for longer, and will help refuel your muscles after a hard workout. Some examples of lean proteins include beans, eggs, chicken, turkey, and fish.

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Get sleep- According to Health.com, sleep is a cornerstone of weight management because of the impact it has on your hormones that control how you burn fat, how you store fat, and how you’re maintaining muscle. The better your hormone balance, the better your weight management.

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Whether your New Year‘s resolution is to lose weight or to become more financially savvy, Pioneer Credit Company can help! Call your local branch today!

Easy, Clever Ways to Start Saving

One of the most popular financial resolutions each year is to “save more”. Considering that the personal savings rate in the United States is about the lowest rate of any industrialized country, according to MoneySKILL, we agree that this is a crucial area of your finances to focus on. The trouble with having “save more money” as a financial resolution is that it can be intimidating to some. You may think that you don’t make enough money to save after your necessary expenses, or that you have to start with a formal approach to saving like setting up an Individual Retirement Account or a 401k. These are both great tools that we advocate! But, if you’re feeling like these aren’t realistic for you quite yet, you don’t have to worry. There are several easy ways to start saving that you can implement today—no planning or tracking required!

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Top Holiday Cookie Recipes

Let’s face it; one of the best parts of the holiday season is food. In fact, at Pioneer Credit Company, we have such a sweet tooth that we collected the best cookie recipes. We had our team members send in their families’ favorite time-tested holiday cookie recipe, and then held a vote to see who the winners were. Below are the ones that made it to the top ten. Happy baking!

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Chocolate Espresso Shortbread

Prep Time: 23 minutes
Cooking Time: 33 minutes
Servings: 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder (we tested with Café Bustello)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces white chocolate baking bar (we tested with Ghirardelli)
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking bars

Directions

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Stir in dry ingredients; beat just until blended.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Place 2 portions on opposite ends of 1 baking sheet. Place remaining portion on second baking sheet.
  4. Cover dough portions with plastic wrap; gently press or roll each portion of dough into a 5 1/2″ circle. Lightly score each round with a sharp knife into 6 or 8 wedges.
  5. Bake rounds at 325° for 23 minutes or until shortbread feels firm to the touch. Gently score each round again with a sharp knife. Slide parchment from baking sheets onto wire racks. Let shortbread cool completely on parchment. Cut shortbread into wedges along scored lines.
  6. Melt chocolate baking bars separately in small bowls in the microwave according to package directions. Partially dip wide end of each shortbread wedge in unsweetened chocolate. Place on a wax paper-lined jelly-roll pan, and freeze briefly to set chocolate. Then partially dip other half of wide end of each wedge in white chocolate. Freeze briefly to set white chocolate.
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Carrot Cake Cookies

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Frosting
    • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tbs juice from pineapples
 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. Whisk flour and cinnamon together and set aside.
  3. Beat 1/2 cup butter, shortening, white sugar, and brown sugar w/ electric mixer until smooth. Add 1 egg and allow to blend into butter mixture before adding second egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in crushed pineapple, carrot, raisins, and chopped walnuts- mix just enough to evenly combine.
  4. Drop onto baking sheets by heaping teaspoon, allow 2 in. of space between cookies.
  5. Bake until edges are golden brown (10-12 min).
  6. To make frosting: beat cream cheese and 1 tbs butter w/ electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and pineapple juice. Beat until no lumps remain.
  7. Spread on cookies once completely cool.
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Black Forest Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 16-19 minutes
Servings: 2 1/2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking soda
  • 1/2 tbs salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla & almond extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 full bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Measure dry ingredients into a small bowl & combine.
  2. In larger bowl cream together sugars, eggs & flavorings. Add the dry ingredients gradually until the dough stiffens up.
  3. Add the cherries, chocolate chips, and almonds.
  4. Place the cookie dough into the fridge for at least one hour for best results.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Scoop cold cookie dough onto cookie sheet.
  7. It is recommended to make a test batch of 3 cookies to test texture & browning results and then afterward 9- 12 cookies on a sheet.
  8. Bake cold cookies from 16-19 minutes depending on how crunchy as opposed to soft & chewy you prefer.
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Cocoa Thumbprints

Prep Time: 1 hr
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Sprinkles, mini marshmallows, mini candies or dried fruit for filling

Directions

  1. Whisk the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in 2 separate small bowls. Roll scant tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners’ sugar. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch-wide indentation in the centers with your thumb. Place your choice of filling in the indentation.
  3. Bake the cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
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Cranberry Almond Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 11 minutes
Servings: 3 1/2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Directions

  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add almond extract and eggs, beating until blended.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in cranberries and almonds. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake at 375° for 9 to 11 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
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Fireball Apple Pie Cookies 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts
  • 1/4 cup of caramel (at most)
  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • 1 shot Fireball whiskey
  • 1 egg
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Lay out a sheet of pie crust, sprinkle it with some flour.
  3. Pour caramel sauce onto the crust and spread evenly.
  4. Stir 1.5 ounces of Fireball Whiskey into apple pie filling, be sure to mix thoroughly.****This can be ommitted!
  5. Coarsely chop the apple pie filling into small pieces.
  6. Top the caramel layer chopped up Apple Pie Filling. No need to get close to the edge.
  7. Slice second pie crust into thin strips.
  8. Create a lattice crust on top of the pie filling.
  9. Whisk one egg and 2 tbsp milk or water to make egg wash
  10. Dip cookie cutter into egg wash and cut out your pie cookies.
  11. Brush the tops of them with some egg wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg.
  12. Arrange cookies on greased baking sheet.
  13. Bake them at 350 degrees for approx. 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden and firm.
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Nutella Peanut Butter Criss Crosses 

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 7-8 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup Nutuella chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a large mixer bowl beat butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Turn mixer down to low and add milk, vanilla and egg. Mix until combined then turn up to medium high for one minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl and turn mixer on low.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. In a small bowl mix together the filling ingredients to form a soft dough.
  6. Measure a heaping tablespoon of cookie dough and roll in your hands a moment, then flatten in your palm. Measure 1 teaspoon of filling dough and place it in the center of the cookie dough. Gently spread it across the dough a bit, then close the cookie dough around the filling, forming a ball. Roll in your hands and place on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly in crisscross pattern with tines of fork.
  7. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies and allow to cool.
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Santa’s Old Fashioned Sour Cream Sugar Cookies 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 8-10 minutes
Servings: Makes 6-8 dozen

Ingredients

  • 5 ½ cups flour
  • 2 cups ugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Frosting

  • ¼ cup melted shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash of salt

 Directions

  1. Cream shortening and butter together.  Gradually add sugar.  Add sour cream, and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Blend in eggs, vanilla, and dry ingredients in small batches, until mixed.
  3. Chill overnight.
  4. Roll out dough 1/8” thick, and cut into shapes. Bake at 375 degrees on greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes. Cool and frost.

 Frosting Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients, and split into different bowls.
  2. Add food coloring to color. Note: If the icing is too thin, add hot water.
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Top Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and for most that means spending time with friends and family, over-indulging in delicious food, and watching football. However, what is often overlooked during this time of year is the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate. To help bring awareness to this important aspect of the holiday season, we compiled a list of seven ways to give back in your local community.

  • Send a phone card or care package to a soldierTroops
    Many soldiers don’t have the opportunity to spend the holiday’s home with their family. Help cheer up a solider this holiday season by sending them a basket or care package through a program such as Treats For Troops. To really make this holiday special, sponsor a phone call home by donating money or an old cell phone through the Cell Phones for Soldiers program.

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Money-Saving Holiday Travel Tips

According to the United States Department of Transportation, the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s travel periods are estimated to be the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. In fact, travel around Christmas/New Year’s (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) is estimated to increase by 23% when compared to the rest of the year. Besides the increase in traffic and chaos, increased travel also means increased costs. To help make the holiday travel process as affordable and stress-free as possible, we created a list of money-saving holiday travel tips below:holiday_travel

  • Start looking and booking ASAP- As soon as you know the date of your trip, start looking up airline fares. According to Market Watch,

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Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Planning and cooking a Thanksgiving meal can be a tedious and time consuming task. To help with your Thanksgiving meal prep, we compiled a list of delicious side, dessert, and drink recipes that can all be made in less than one hour! Click through our slideshow to view them all, and start planning your Thanksgiving meal today!

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Restaurant-Style Garlic Mashed Potatoes: 

  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (about 8 small), quartered, skin left on
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions: 

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot or dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the potatoes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  3. When potatoes pierce easily with a paring knife, remove from heat and drain. Add potatoes to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix on medium speed until mostly smooth (there may be some lumps, but we usually don’t mind that). Serve.

Total time: 30 mins

Recipe found at deliciousasitlooks.com

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Sweet Potato Casserole: 

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup melted butter

Topping-

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Prepare a 1½ to 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, and melted butter. Pour into prepared casserole dish.
  2. To make the topping: Combine brown sugar, flour, melted butter and chopped pecans. Sprinkle over the top.
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked throughout and the top is lightly brown.

Total time: 55 mins

Recipe found at therecipecritic.com

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Spiced Cranberry Sauce:

  • 3 cups cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3-4 grinds of black pepper

Directions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally as the cranberries begin to pop.
  2. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the sauce is thick and chunky.
  3. Remove from heat, cool, and refrigerate until you’re ready to use. Serve at room temperature.

Total time: 15-20 mins

Recipe found at greatist.com 

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Cheesy Green Bean Casserole with Bacon:

  • 4 (14 ounce) cans green beans
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup French’s French Fried Onions

Directions: 

  1. Dice the bacon and add to a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Add flour to the bacon drippings and whisk to combine over medium heat. Continue whisking for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, sour cream, and crisped bacon. Continue stirring until mixture has thickened to a gravy consistency. Remove from heat.
  3. Add your green beans and bacon mixture to a large bowl and stir to coat the green beans.
  4. Spread green bean mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Top with shredded cheese and fried onions. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and taste. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as needed.

Total time: 40 mins

Recipe found at stepable.com

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Thanksgiving Stuffing: 

  • 4 tablespoons butter or non-dairy margarine to keep it dairy-free
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, cut crosswise in ¼” slices
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 10 cups dried unseasoned bread cubes (found in the bread section at the grocery store)
  • 1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 egg
  • Optional garnish: ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a large pan. Saute onions, celery, salt, sage, and thyme for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Turn off heat. Add bread cubes and gently stir them into the onion mixture. Slowly pour chicken broth over the bread cubes folding everything carefully so the bread cubes do not break apart too much.
  3. In a small bowl, gently whisk the egg and add it to the stuffing mix. Continue to fold everything until the egg is incorporated. Scoop uncooked stuffing into a medium casserole dish and bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until nice and toasty on top.

Total time: 50 mins

Recipe found at savorysweetlife.com

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Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red beet, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Zest of 1 orange, optional
  • Dried oregano
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Pistachios

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and chop the butternut squash and the beet into ½” cubes.
  2. Place them in a mixing bowl and add oil, salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Toss well using your hands and make sure the veggies are all evenly coated.
  3. Lay the vegetables out on a large (or two smaller) baking sheet in a single layer.
  4. Roast vegetables for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring once half-way through roasting.
  5. Place oven on the broil setting for 3 to 5 minutes in order to crisp up the veggies.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with dried oregano, orange zest, and additional salt if desired.
  7. Serve with toasted walnuts and pistachios.

Total time: 1 hour

Recipe found at theroastedroot.com

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Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad: 

  • 6 cups salad (Combination of arugula and baby spinach, but any spring green mix will do)
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (such as Diamond of California)
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries

Dressing-

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup oil

Directions: 

  1. Core and chop apples (thin slices or 1 inch chunks). Toss lettuce, apples, walnuts, feta, and cranberries together in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Toss with salad immediately before serving. Enjoy!

Total time: 10 mins

Recipe found at lecremedelacrumb.com

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Pumpkin Layer Dessert: 

Cake Layer-

  • 1 box yellow/golden butter cake mix (reserve 1 cup of the dry mix)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 2 eggs

Mix together and spread into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

Pumpkin Pie Layer-

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 large can  (30 oz.) pumpkin pie mix

Mix together and pour over cake mix layer.

Crumb Topping Layer-

  • 1 cup reserved dry cake mix
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions: 

1. After layering the cake layer and pumpkin pie layer in the pan, cut the butter into the dry ingredients for the topping layer until crumbly. Sprinkle over pumpkin layer.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until middle is firm and a toothpick comes out clean.

Total time: 55 mins

Recipe found at shakentogetherlife.com

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Blackberry Cobbler: 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/4 cup boiling water just until mixture is evenly moist.
  3. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water. Mix in remaining 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, and blackberries. Transfer to a cast iron skillet, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Drop dough into the skillet by spoonfuls. Place skillet on the foil lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until dough is golden brown.

Total time: 45 mins

Recipe found at allrecipes.com

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Caramel Apple Nachos: 

  • 30 large marshmallows
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 35 caramels
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 4-5 apples, sliced
  • toppings (peanuts, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy bars, etc)

Directions: 

1. Melt the marshmallows and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir periodically until completely melted and smooth.

2. Combine the caramels and water in a bowl and microwave until melted, microwaving in 45 second intervals and stirring in between until the caramel is smooth.

3. Arrange the sliced apples on a plate and pour the caramel and marshmallow mixtures over them. Add any additional toppings and serve immediately.

Total time: 10 mins

Recipe found at butterwithasideofbread.com

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Cranberry Apple Sparklers Cocktail and Mocktail: 

  • 2 oz cranberry juice
  • 1 oz apple cider
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 1/2 oz dry ginger soda
  • 2 oz g’vine gin OR juniper soda
  • frozen cranberries, apple slices to garnish

Directions: 

  1. Mix ingredients over ice and stir.
  2. Garnish with apple slices and frozen cranberries.

Total time: 5 mins

Recipe found at sweetcsdesigns.com

apple-toddies

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies: 

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups apple brandy, preferably Calvados
  • Eight 3-inch cinnamon sticks

Directions: 

  1. In small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey until dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice and apple brandy.
  2. Set a cinnamon stick in each of 8 mugs or heatproof glasses, pour in the hot liquid and serve.

Total time: 10 mins

Recipe found at foodandwine.com

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13 Cheap and Easy Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is quickly approaching! Do you have a costume yet? Before heading to the store for an expensive costume, why not try to make one yourself? Not only will you save money, but you will have a unique costume no one else will be able to exactly replicate. Check out our cheap and easy Halloween costume ideas below to start making yours today!

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Ladybug- This costume is extremely easy to make. Simply take a red t-shirt or tank top, cut out black felt dots, and stick them to your shirt with hot glue. Wear black pants, or if you’re feeling daring, a red tutu! Complete the outfit with an antennae headband. All you need is a hot glue gun, 2 black pom pom balls, two black pipe cleaners, and an old headband. Click here for detailed instructions on how to make your own ladybug antennas.

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Men in Black/Bouncer- If you have a black suit and sunglasses, you have a  Men in Black or bouncer costume. Wear your hair pulled back or styled slick, and carry a Nerf gun or water gun to complete the Men in Black look.

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Greaser– Dress up as Sandy or Danny this Halloween easily with a leather jacket and black fitted t-shirt. Complete Sandy’s look with tight leather pants or leggings, red hells, red lips, black belt, and hoop earrings. For Danny, put on a pair of cropped dark jeans and Chuck Taylors, and then grease your hair back. Voilà; the perfect greaser costume!

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Rosie the Riveter- Celebrate girl power by being the iconic Rosie the Riveter this HalloweenGet a long-sleeved denim or blue top, and roll the sleeves past the elbow. Pair it with jeans. Then put your hair up, and tie a red bandana around your head. Finally, pouf up your bangs and apply 1940s makeup.

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Nerd- Grab a pair of glasses, wrap a bandage around the middle, and wear high-wasted pants with suspenders to pull off the perfect nerd look. Final touches include a tucked in button-up shirt, pocket calculator and pen, and a bowtie.

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Mummy- This classic Halloween costume can be created with gauze or old bed sheets, and black tea or coffee. Cut the gauze or bed sheets into 2-inch wide strips, and then place into a pot of boiling coffee or black tea. Let it soak for a minute and then hang to dry. Once dry, wrap your body with the strips over nude or white clothes. Complete the look with black fingernail polish and gaudy jewelry.

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Waldo and Wenda- This timeless costume can be created with a red and white striped shirt, red and white cap, black round-rimmed glasses, and a pair of jeans. For Wenda, swap out the jeans for a denim skirt and red and white stripped socks.

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Athlete- Almost anyone can be an athlete for Halloween if they have sports clothes in their closet. Decide which type of athlete to be based on the sports gear you already have. For example, dress up as a tennis player if you have a tennis skirt and racquet, or be your favorite football player by wearing their jersey with high socks.

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Greek God or Goddess- Easily create a Greek god or goddess costume with a white sheet, gold jewelry, and a gold rope or ribbon for a belt. Ladies can add on gold sandals or heels, a gold headband, and gold ribbon to tie up legs for a more authentic look.

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80’s Retro- With 80’s fashion back in style, whipping together an 80’s themed costume can be done using a lot of the clothes already in your closet. Place your hair in a side pony tail, wear a neon colored crop top with leggings or a poufy skirt, and add leg warmers to start off this look. Add accessories such as long beaded necklaces, headbands, large earrings, and loud makeup to really look retro.

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Witch- If you have a black dress and a broom, you can be a witch this Halloween. The only thing you may need to buy is a witch hat. Paint your fingernails black, and wear red lipstick and black boots, to complete this look.

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Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s- Recreate this iconic costume with a little black dress, pearls, black gloves, a cigarette holder, black heels, big black sunglasses, and a tiara. Throw your hair into a top-knot bun and your costume is compete!

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Wednesday Adams from the Adams Family- Become part of the Adams Family this Halloween by dressing up as Wednesday Adams. Find an old baggy black sweater or a long sleeve black dress. Wear a white collared shirt underneath, and braid your hair down the middle in pigtails. Complete this look with black stockings and heels, and white face makeup.

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