Tag Archive | freebies

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes w/ Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

easter extra something

Every time I receive my new “goodie box” from Raley’s Something Extra Try-It program, I get giddy with excitement!  The newest one takes the cake, literally!

As soon as I saw the cute Easter Bunny cupcake papers, I knew I needed to hold of until Easter to make try these cupcakes!

I was very impressed with the richness of the boxed cake mix.  It tasted like it was from scratch.  The frosting recipe was decedent and had a perfect balance of sweet and salty.  I served them at a party and brought them to Easter dinner, and had nooooo complaints.

My only compliant would be that the frosting yields double what was needed to pipe onto the 15 cupcakes the mix made.  So I would say if you were making a layer cake- use the recipe below.  If you are making cupcakes, cut it in half. I can’t wait to try the Meyer Lemon cake mix next. Mmmmm…



Salted Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting

Salted Caramel

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Generous pinch sea salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

  1. To prepare caramel, bring cream, brown sugar and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and keep at a low boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla and salt and transfer to a small bowl; cover and chill.
  2. To prepare frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 3/4 of the caramel together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Spread over cupcakes and drizzle with remaining caramel, warming for a few seconds in the microwave if too thick. Add a small sprinkle of sea salt to each cupcake.

The perfect pair

Cooking and saving money are two of my favorite things.

I enjoy cooking because it relaxes me.  I can listen to my iPod or Pandora and have a glass of wine while being creative in the kitchen after a frustrating day at work.

I have to save money because I have no choice.  If I don’t, I would have to pick up a second job (herk) or risk losing my house.  Neither are options, so I choose to pinch pennies and do everything I can to save money wherever I can, without skimping on taste, of course!

extra somethingThis is where Raley’s Something Extra Try-It program kicks in.  It is the best of both worlds.  I get to try new food products and I get them for free or at deep discounts (seriously, awesome!) And all they ask in return (because there is no such thing as a free lunch, right?!) is that I review the new products on their website, Twitter, Facebook, here, etc. And since I also love giving my opinions, I jumped at the opportunity! I have waited a few months to review the program because I wanted to see how it would all work out.  It’s been great!  I been able to try their new Top It! Pizza at 50% off as well as their Quick Grains, Infused Broths, and Salad blends, and Nob Hill All-Natural soup for free! In addition to food, I’ve also gotten some free swag too including a pizza cutter, pasta strainer, and cute soup tureen!

So far my most favorite program was the Nu-Val program where I got to try the Infused Broth (think boring old chicken broth, with a kick of chipotle) and Quick Grains together.  There was a recipe right on the box using both together, and it made an amazing Mexican stew (blog post with recipe to come of course).

If you are fortunate enough to live in Northern California with the awesome weather, culture and activities, you now have another reason to be thankful, join the Try-It program and try-it yourself!

Birthday Freebie Challenge Complete!

I briefly mentioned a while back that I had been given a challenge by a friend to see how many freebies I could possibly get for my birthday.

In case you don’t want to read that post here, this is a quick summary:

  • I love love love deals and coupons
  • I love food, but don’t like dessert
  • I love a good challenge

Over the years I have scored some pretty good birthday freebies, but when put up for the challenge, I even signed up for places I rarely go to, just in hopes for a good deal to add to my experiment.  You’ll figure that out when you read some of the offers I received, but never cashed in.

Some are from my favorites of all time and I look forward to my freebies every year, like Starbucks and Red Robin. Yum.  Then sadly, some places that used to send you goodies, no longer do.  I’m looking at you Noah’s Bagels.

Birthday Coupon Challenge

I ended up receiving a total of 45 emails.  FORTY-FIVE! Of which I ended up cashing in on $125.87 in free food (having to spend $53.16 in the process, mostly tips).  I also ended up scoring $42.13 in free goods (spending $29.50).  Not bad if I do say so myself!  You can click the spreadsheet above for more details. ((Yes, I am an anal dork who took this challenge waaaaay too seriously, and even created a spread sheet.))

The added bonus, is most of these sites will send you deals and freebies all year long, not just for your birthday! Of course next year I’ll go back to just redeeming the ones I really love.  This year’s pig out, errrrrr enjoyment of food, was for scientific purposes of course. 😉