Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY - IKEA Trofast For LEGO Storage


I love LEGO. The Boy also loves LEGO. But all the LEGOs were driving me crazy!

LEGO pieces were everywhere. We had been keeping them in 2 huge drawers that rolled beneath a toy train table - one of those large 4 foot by 3 foot tables. The LEGO filled the drawers and were covering the tabletop. We also had one of the 6-Case LEGO Workstations (which I love) but it just couldn't handle the sheer number of LEGO pieces we had!

Enter IKEA Trofast.

I had seen various sizes of Trofast units popping up all over the internet as LEGO storage and I loved it. The only problem would be how many units we would need in order to store all (or at least most) of The Boy's LEGO collection. The 36" high pine frame we liked was $50 a piece - and that didn't include the bins we would need to store all the LEGOs in.

Discouraged by the cost, the project was put on hold until I came across the DIY IKEA Trofast Storage on Ana-White.com. If you have never considered making anything out of wood before, this site will probably change your mind. It’s SO inspiring.

The DIY route was so much more kind to the bank account. I could make 3 storage towers for the price of one from IKEA. WOW! However, even with the DIY plans in hand, it took me a full 2 years to get around to making this. This was going to be my first major DIY woodworking project. And I wasn't going to make just one...

Since I could get 3 out of one set of plans, I thought I'd make SIX. Four for The Boy and his monstrous collection of LEGOs and the remaining two for The Girl and her ever-increasing number of LPS pets and accessories.

The Girl's Storage Unit. She requested one slot be used for a shelf instead of a bin. We also attached 2 drawer pulls to one side to be used as hooks.
To make the units sturdier, I connected 2 towers together and added a back to them from 1/4 inch plywood spanning both towers. This really made it more solid and helped keep the sides from bowing out.

As you can see, it appears The Boy needs even more storage for his LEGO. One of the large blue bins is actually holding LEGO Bionicles and the other large blue bin has quite a few baseboards in it. Perhaps a few shelves to hold some finished LEGO builds...

The cost of this project was lessened by using scrap lumber. There were some pretty large sections of plywood in the rafters of our garage left by the previous tenants. There was enough plywood for about 4 1/2 of the towers. We also got a really generous AMEX gift card for Christmas that we put towards purchasing all the bins we would need from IKEA.

I have more plans to expand on the LEGO storage so you'll be seeing more about that in a future post.



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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Refrigerator Dough Hot Dog Buns

These homemade hot dog buns are made using the versatile Potato Refrigerator Dough I have been experimenting with.

I discovered I had forgotten to buy hot dog buns earlier in the week and rather than making another trip to the grocery store, I attempted made-from-scratch hot dog buns using some of the already prepared refrigerator dough.


The first batch I made followed some hamburger bun directions I had found online. I figured I could just change the shape of the dough before baking. It didn't work out that way. The recipe made too many buns (12) resulting in too small hot dog buns (or very elongated dinner rolls). The oven temperature was also much too hot and the buns were over-baked before they every reached the lower end of the cooking time range given.

The following day, I began again. I decided to bake the dough at a much lower temperature and only make 8 hot dog buns. We used them for "bun length" hot dogs but they are plenty big enough to handle brats or smokes sausages.

Hot Dog Bun Recipe (using Potato Refrigerator Dough)


  • Shape each part into a rope approximately 6" long on lightly floured surface.
  • Place about one half inch apart on greased baking sheet (or use a silicone mat on the baking sheet).  You want them to just touch each other on the sides when they rise.


  • Loosely cover the dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the humidity and temperature of your kitchen. (I usually rise dough in my oven with the light bulb on).
  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.


  • Split each bun lengthwise. Makes 8 large hot dog buns 6 to 7" long. Perfect for bun length dogs, brats and smoked sausages.



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Monday, July 28, 2014

Arapahoe County Fair


We have lived in Colorado for four years and had not yet taken the "Pickles" to a single county fair. It was time.

There are many county fairs all within a short driving distance from our house in Aurora. We live in Arapahoe County so that's the fair we chose to attend this year.

The view from the ferris wheel. There's not much beyond the fairgrounds except wide open spaces.

The Arapahoe County Fair had an "all-inclusive" price...one price included admission and unlimited rides. $10 (plus a $2.25 per ticket "convenience fee") if you purchased pre-order tickets online, or $15 at the gate (the pre-order tickets could be used for any ONE of the 4 days of the fair's duration). While this isn't a good deal for those who don't ride much (or can't ride at all), the "Pickles' were able to ride their favorites over and over (and over) again.


The price also included admission to things like the 4-H shows, rodeos, tractor pulls, mutton bustin' (for the kids under 50 pounds), demolition derby and all concerts.


A thunderstorm moved overhead in the middle of the day so we all shuffled inside to view the 4-H exhibits. Once it had passed, we stepped outside and saw a brilliant rainbow over the arena!


Food is always a budget-buster at a fair so we had planned ahead and packed some snacks and bottled water. We had agreed that we would buy some "token fair food" because one of the best experiences about a county fair is the food, but we would keep the purchases to a minimum. We got sticker shock when The Boy announced he wanted a turkey leg and we saw they were all $10 each. Needless to say, he didn't get a turkey leg. We each got a (small) corn dog and split a "family-sized" funnel cake. It was about the size of a medium-sized pizza!


I wanted to stay long enough to catch at least a portion of the Rodeo. A couple of other drizzly showers passed over us but The Girl got a thrill from seeing all the horses, she was able to participate in the "Boot Scramble", and a new rainbow formed behind the rodeo arena.

Getting ready for the "boot scramble"

Coming from North Carolina, we were used to the large Dixie Classic Fair (the second largest agricultural fair in North Carolina) that would run for 10 days and had a huge Midway, multiple entertainment stages, tons of agricultural contests and exhibits, loads of food vendors and hundreds of local businesses touting their products and services. It took several visits to see everything that fair had to offer.

The Arapahoe County Fair is tiny in comparison but comparing the two fairs really wouldn't be, um, fair. I do have to say it was nice to wander around without worrying about crowds. It was faster to get food. The wait for rides was very short. And while I missed the wide range (and massive quantity) of exhibits the Dixie Classic Fair has to offer, it was nice to be able to take our time looking at all the crafts and foods and produce on display at the Arapahoe County Fair without worrying that we were going to run out of time and "miss something". We were at the fair for about 8 hours and saw a good portion of everything available to see and do.

For more information about the Arapahoe County Fair, visit their website at ArapahoeCountyFair.com.





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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Becoming Debt-Free (Part 4): Keeping the Momentum Going

"What I want in my future is bigger than what I want in my present."

Dave Ramsey's debt snowball plan is structured in such a way that it helps you stay motivated and sets you up for success when it comes to those bigger debts. In the debt snowball, you pay those smaller debts first (regardless of their interest rate) because paying one debt motivates you to continue. You move on to pay the next one and the next one and so on. Those smaller wins really help to keep you going. They also help to recondition your brain. You learn how it feels to win with money, to change your behaviors about money and to start making more money wise decisions. Lastly, once you reach the larger debts, you have a really big "snowball" to throw at them. But even with a big snowball, lots of smaller "wins" under our belts and 2 years of much more careful, wiser money decision experience, we needed to find ways to keep the momentum going.

After 2 years of working our debt snowball, I can honestly say there have been many times I've thought about going back to the way things were. It was easier back then, ignoring the debt. But working our debt snowball made it difficult to turn away from all the progress we had made. And we HAD made plenty of progress.

By the time we hit our 2 year mark of working through the debt snowball, we only had 2 remaining debts. Two very large student loans. Very, very large student loans. We were looking at a solid year of throwing every spare penny at those loans to make them go away.

And here we are now, several months into paying on those student loans with several months still left to pay on those same student loans.

It's like being in a rowboat in the middle of an ocean. You paddle and paddle and paddle, day after day after day and all you ever see in all directions is ocean and sky.

Image courtesy of tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It's easy to lose momentum. It's hard to imagine seeing land when all you keep seeing is ocean. Sometimes it's hard to see debt freedom when all you can see is a big pile of debt.

When you throw several hundred dollars a month at a debt that is a couple thousand dollars, the amount left on your debt decreases quickly. It doesn't take long before that debt is gone! That creates more motivation to continue.

But when you throw several hundred dollars a month at a much larger number, let's say $20,000, you still have a REALLY big number left over. Several hundred dollars doesn't make a very big dent in $20,000. It takes a whole lot longer to eliminate that large debt.

So when progress seems slow, how do you keep the motivation alive? How do you make sure you have enough momentum to propel you forward through the largest debts in your debt snowball? I've put together a list of some things that have worked for me.

Remember The Largest Debts Are Your LAST Debts

If you are working your debt snowball the way Dave Ramsey teaches, your largest debts will be the last ones.

I love the way that works out. By the time we got to our huge student loans, everything else was paid off. That meant we had a large chunk of cash every single month to throw at the student loans. Once the first (smaller) student loan is paid off, there will only be one left. The final debt. The LAST debt. That in itself is a big motivator.

Remind yourself how close you are to the finish line. When you have finished paying your last debt, it will be all over. You will be DEBT FREE!

Involve Everyone

Many people feel it's easier to accomplish a goal when you have someone doing it with you. Whether it's a gym buddy or a study partner, having someone working with us towards a common goal seems to help keep us motivated. So why not do that with your debt elimination plan?

Let everyone know what you are doing. I don't mean you have to discuss your budget with your garbage man or the babysitter, but certainly you can share your goals with friends and family. They can support you in your efforts. They'll also know to cut back on the number of times they ask you to spend money ("join us for dinner out" or "let's grab a couple drinks" or "that dress is definitely you...you should get it!").


We discussed the debt elimination plan with the Pickles as soon as we started it. We wanted them to know we wouldn't be going to restaurants much anymore. We wouldn't be buying a lot of "stuff". We were going to be very careful with our money and how we spend it.

We also told them WHY we were doing it. We wanted to move out of this rental and get a place of our own. Each of us in this family has their own reasons for wanting a house of our own but it is a common desire with all of us. The Boy even offered up his entire savings in order to help us get out of debt so we could buy a house sooner. We were grateful, but declined.

Since everyone is involved, everyone does their part and everyone "know the deal." When my parents called one weekend inquiring about our summer plans, The Girl told them "Tennessee is really nice but we just don't have the money for that right now." (She will still blow through her chore money as fast as she earns it, though.)

Post Your Progress

When I was trying to quit smoking, I put up a post-it note and made a mark on it for every time I went outside for a cigarette. It was posted where everyone could see it. Even my children, my most vocal cheerleaders, were able to keep up with my progress from that simple post-it note. It held me accountable for my actions.

The same sort of "public" accountability can help you with your debt snowball.

We keep a debt snowball chart on the refrigerator that shows all the months we will be working on a particular debt. Every month we make our normal payment and then cross off that month. Then if we are able to put additional money toward the debt that month, we would. Sometimes, we were able to send in enough additional money during the month to be able to eliminate an additional month from the chart.


It was simply a piece of paper but it felt like our financial billboard. Everyone in the family could look at that chart and say "Wow! We've paid off a lot so far!" or "Wow! We only have 10 months left to go!"

Have Stepping Stones

When Mr. LH and I first started our debt snowball, I asked him what debt he wanted to pay off more than any other. For him, it was the student loans. For me, it was a Discover credit card. I couldn't wait to get that thing paid off and shredded.

If I came across something I thought I wanted to buy, I would compare it to getting that Discover card paid off. The credit card would usually win. Once we got to that card in our debt snowball, we hit it with everything we had and paid it off in under 4 months.

Once it was paid off, I needed another stepping stone...another goal...something else to help me move forward. My next stepping stone became Mr. LH's student loans. I wanted so much to see the relief in his face when those were paid off. Every month brought us closer to that date and anything I could do to save money in other areas of the budget brought the date closer to us.

Keep a record of your progress

From the beginning, I have recorded the balances of every debt every month. I also calculated the total debt and the difference from the previous month (showing the total amount paid). Each page shows 6 months of debt balances. The latter pages show mostly zeros.

It really helps me to be able to look back and see how far we'd come in only 2 short years. Whenever Mr. LH seems particularly stressed about getting something paid, I pull out those sheets and show him all the progress we have made. It makes him feel a whole lot better knowing that all his sacrifices and hard work are paying off.

Our bare bones lifestyle has remained the same (or gotten even more bare bones) for two solid years but "behind the scenes", our debt has been going away.

Constantly remind yourself of the goal...the big picture

Mr. LH and I had always talked about moving west. We had always looked toward the mountains searching for that perfect private out-of-the-way plot of land with a view. We've always had it in the backs of our minds practically since the day we met.

See this spot of land?


Gorgeous, isn't it?

It's one of many spots of land I find extremely desirable in the middle of nowhere, Colorado. This particular spot is my favorite - somewhere along a dirt road 17 miles from the nearest town...a little town. It's not for sale right now, but there are similar plots nearby. I can picture a small house, a barn, a chicken coop and a large garden on this spot of land. I can see in my mind the glorious orange sunsets over those mountains and years of happy, peaceful living with Mr. LH.

I want it and I want it now. But it's hard to get a loan for unimproved land. You need cash. A lot of cash. And before we can start saving money for our land, we need to pay off our debts, build an emergency fund, and set up a system for putting away money for retirement and college.

While we are many steps away from it, this land is the backdrop of the "big picture". I look at this image a lot. It is burned onto my brain. I plan out where everything will go...house, outbuildings, garden beds, trees. I learn everything there is to learn about the native flora and fauna, county ordinances, water laws and the weather patterns there for the last 20 years.

This dream (this obsession) is so much a part of me that it motivates me to keep going.

If we don't pay off our debts, we can't live on this land.
If we don't build up our emergency fund, we can't live on this land.
If we don't have retirement and college funded, we can't live on this land.
If we don't save enough cash, we can't live on this land.
Etc.

Know your "big picture" and it will become a great motivator.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Getting out of debt takes dedication, work and patience. For some people, it happens slowly. For others, it happens more quickly. But it does happen. When you see it happen, when you see your debt going away, it motivates you to keep going.

We've been paying off debt for over two years. Right now that seems like a long time (and we're not done yet) but in the grand scheme of things, a couple years is a very small price to pay for being debt free.



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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Crochet A Recycled T-Shirt Rug


I had a pile of T-shirt yarn balls from a bunch of T-shirts I had cut up months before. They were just sitting in my yarn basket untouched and taking up space.

I had originally made the t-shirt yarn to make create storage baskets like these:



But I now had so many storage baskets I was giving them away.

I decided to take all that t-shirt yarn and use it up.


I used my Boye size S 19mm crochet hook and made quick work of that pile of yarn...by turning it into a rug.


It is certainly a mess of colors!

I had intended to make a runner to replace my kitchen rug but I only had enough yarn to make a smaller bathmat sized rug. It worked up in a couple of short afternoons.


I'll have to start collecting more T-shirts now. A lot more. It took 27 T-shirts (25 men's XL and 2 boys Medium) to make this rug. It's 41 stitches wide and 29 rows high. It measures 37" x 24".


The wheels have started turning again. I'm thinking of dying my white t-shirt yarn different shades so I can make an ombre rug. At least...something with a little more thought towards design than this one. <grin>

You don't really need a pattern for this rug. Just make it like you would a washcloth (only much bigger). But, for those who want a pattern, here's a loose one for you:

Recycled T-Shirt Rug

Hook Size: S (19mm)
Yarn: Hand cut T-shirt yarn* - there's a good tutorial at Mollie Makes on how to make your own t-shirt yarn.

Terminology:

sc - single crochet
ch - chain

Chain 42 (or longer if you desire a wider rug, shorter if you want a narrower rug)
SC in the 2nd stitch from your hook. SC across. Chain 1. Turn. (41)
SC across. Chain 1. Turn. (41)
Repeat until your rug is the desired length.
Cut yarn leaving a long tail. Weave in.

*Note: The width of your t-shirt yarn strips and the weight of your t-shirt material determine how thick your yarn will be. My yarn strips are about an inch wide. The t-shirt material/weight varies.



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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garden Update

We harvested our first vegetable of the season this week, and who would have thought it would be a zucchini? I have at least 2 more zucchinis that should be ready for picking within a couple days.

The plants all seem to have bounced back from Turtly's trampling a couple weeks ago. It's almost astonishing to see how much everything has matured in just those two weeks!


At least the latest batch of precipitation has resulted in more weeds in the yard for Turtly to munch. Perhaps it will keep him from trying to tear down the garden barriers.


I was also able to pick a jalapeno for some homemade Pico de gallo on Sunday as well as several bunches of cilantro, basil and oregano which are drying outside.

The jalapeno plants are more covered with peppers now than blossoms. We may have to pick a bunch of smallish peppers in order to get more blooms for future peppers.


Usually, I'd have piles of beans by now but they have been very slow to do anything this year. At least they have begun to show some progress in the last several days. I'm so happy to finally see some blooms on the bean plants, too!


The cucumbers continue producing flowers and fruit (though we haven't been able to harvest anything yet) and the vines keep growing taller.


The Roma tomatoes have long since reached the tops of the hail guards and I have plenty of green tomatoes taunting me. I can't wait for them to ripen!



I could do without the excessive heat (near triple digits every day now) but I sure do love gardening season!



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Monday, July 21, 2014

Refrigerator Dough Doughnuts


Need a quick treat? If you have a batch of Potato Refrigerator Dough in your fridge, you can make some raised yeast doughnuts quickly and easily! (yes, I used the words "yeast" and "easily" in the same sentence). And oh my heavens, they are good!

You still need to let these doughnuts rise, but since the your dough is already prepared ahead of time and waiting for you in the refrigerator, the hands-on time is very limited.

Doughnut Recipe (using Potato Refrigerator Dough)
  • On a floured surface, roll out 1/3 batch of the Potato Refrigerator Dough until it is 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut with a doughnut cutter (or use a pizza cutter to cut into squares).


  • Place cut doughnuts onto a piece of lightly buttered parchment or wax paper. 
  • Loosely cover the dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
Those "holes" look so funny!

  • Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F. (If you don't have a deep fryer, you can use a couple quarts of oil in a dutch oven on the stovetop)
  • Fry doughnuts in small batches until golden brown on both sides (1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side).
  • Drain, cool for several minutes and decorate.


For simplicity's sake, I just coated these in granulated sugar but you can certainly opt for powdered sugar, chocolate icing, sprinkles, etc.


The finished doughnuts are huge! Almost 4 inches across! I'm glad I didn't use my bigger doughnut cutter. I may use that one when I try to make bagels...

NOTE: I was able to squeeze out a baker's dozen (and extra doughnut holes) using my 2 3/4" doughnut cutter. It was also easier to transfer the risen doughnuts to the fryer if I had the doughnuts on individual squares of wax paper. I could pick up the doughnut using the wax paper and peel it off just before frying.

I'm also a sucker for filled doughnuts so I may just have to try making a batch of those using the Potato Refrigerator Dough.




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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Refrigerator Dough Cinnamon Rolls


I had never made cinnamon rolls from scratch before. They always seemed to take too much work. Previously, if I wanted cinnamon rolls, I bought a can of Grands Cinnamon Rolls, popped it open and baked. But lately, I have been trying to make more of our foods from scratch (and frankly, a can of cinnamon rolls from the store just doesn't make it into our food budget...ever). Maybe that's why I sat up and took notice when I was re-reading The Tightwad Gazette III book and came across the recipe for Potato Refrigerator Dough. The author of the book made doughnuts with the dough...and cloverleaf dinner rolls...and breadsticks...and CINNAMON ROLLS! To make a batch of cinnamon rolls so quickly...that would be wonderful!

The cinnamon roll recipe wasn't provided in the book...nor was it provided on the Betty Crocker website or in my own Betty Crocker cookbooks (where I found the cloverleaf roll instructions right next to the recipe for Potato Refrigerator Dough). So I searched online and found three different versions ( from Shalom Y'all, Take A Megabite, and cdKitchen). I decided to use a little of all three variations to make my rolls.

That very evening I made a single batch of Potato Refrigerator Dough. It would need to sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

The next morning, I pulled out a 1/3 portion of the dough and commenced my cinnamon roll making. In 15 minutes, I had the cinnamon rolls cut and rising in a pan. All I had left to do was to bake them.

Cinnamon Roll Recipe (using Potato Refrigerator Dough)

- Roll out 1/3 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough (recipe above) into a 12" wide rectangle 1/4" thick (will be approximately 12" x 11").
- Spread 3 TBS softened butter on the surface of the dough.
- Combine 6 TBS light brown sugar and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon. Sprinkle over butter to cover the surface.


- Starting at the 12" end, roll the dough to form an 12" long roll. Pinch the seam closed.


- Mark off 1" sections and cut into 12 slices. It is easiest to do this with dental floss. A knife tends to squish the roll down.



- Place the 12 slices into a buttered 13" x 9" baking dish, about 1" apart.

Cinnamon Rolls before rising.

- Let rise, lightly covered, for 1 to 1 1/5 hours.

Cinnamon Rolls after rising for 90 minutes in an oven with only the light bulb on.

- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 25 to 28 minutes or until a rich golden color on top.


- Remove from the oven and drizzle with a glaze (2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 2 tsp vanilla and 3 TBS milk).


OPTIONAL - you could also sprinkle raisins or chopped nuts on top of the sugar/cinnamon layer prior to rolling up.

I couldn't believe how easy it was!

The cinnamon rolls smelled fantastic while they were baking (The Boy commented that it smelled "like a hotel breakfast" in the house). By the time the rolls came out of the oven and were iced, I was ready to dig in. They were SO. GOOD. I unashamedly ate three of them.





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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Potato Refrigerator Dough - My New "Go-To" Recipe

Have you ever dreamed you had a yeast dough that comes together in less than half an hour, rises in the fridge overnight and lasts up to 5 days? What if you could take that one dough ball, split it into two, three or even four sections and make a whole list of baked goods from it? The dough does exist and has for at least 60 years. Except I only just learned about it a couple years ago and only began taking advantage of its goodness within the past week. It's Potato Refrigerator Dough.

The recipe and some of its different preparation variations can be found below, but first a little background...

A while ago, after we began our debt-free journey, I was browsing the thrift store book section and scored all three Tightwad Gazette books for about $5.


The Tightwad Gazette was a subscription based newsletter written by Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced decision) and available in the 1990's. For those of us who weren't early newsletter subscribers, there are the Tightwad Gazette books which are made up of a large percentage of the newsletter articles. There are three volumes, The Tightwad Gazette, The Tightwad Gazette II and The Tightwad Gazette III. The three Tightwad Gazette volumes can occasionally be found in secondhand book stores or thrift stores, or you can purchase The Complete Tightwad Gazette which is a compilation of all three volumes.

I read each of those books cover to cover. While some of the information is dated (mortgages and salaries were usually much lower and interest rates were much higher in the 90's), the bulk of the information found in these books teaches practical ways to live a frugal life and can help just about anyone save LOTS of money (and the more money I can save, the faster we get out of debt).

In The Tightwad Gazette III (page 19), Amy Dacyczyn mentions a recipe for Betty Crocker Refrigerator Dough which apparently appears in all pre-1986 versions of the Betty Crocker Cookbook along with different baking variations for using the dough.


I have both a 1973 version (page 72, called "Potato Refrigerator Dough" with seven baking variations) and a reprinted copy of the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (page 114, called "Favorite Refrigerator Dough" with two baking variations). Nowadays, you can also find the recipe online at the Betty Crocker website (called Make Ahead Potato Bread Dough).

As with a great many things, it took me a long time to get around to try out this recipe. After reading through the Tightwad Gazette books again recently, I decided it was time to see if I could make use of this "All-Purpose" Refrigerator Dough. I'm pretty certain it was the thought of freshly made cinnamon rolls that ultimately spurred me to action.

The recipe requires unseasoned mashed potatoes. Apparently, you can use mashed potato flakes for this and measure out exactly how much you would need for the recipe, but I don't usually have instant potatoes on hand. I peeled and boiled 6 medium sized russet potatoes, drained them (saving the potato water) and put them through my potato ricer to make sure I had lump-free mashed potatoes.


I wound up with just over 5 cups of mashed potatoes. One cup was set aside for immediate use in the recipe. The remaining potatoes were measured out into 1 cup portions for later use. I intended to make this recipe over and over again and didn't want to have to make mashed potatoes every time.

Mashed potatoes (and shortening, mayo, peanut butter, icing, etc) can be easily measured with a plunger style adjustable measuring cup. Mr. LH and I would constantly see an adjustable measuring cup used on America's Test Kitchen and I would practically drool over it every time. Mr. LH took notice and this OXO Adjustable Measuring Cup was part of my Mother's Day present this year. I love it!

You simply drop the base to your desired measuring line, fill with your ingredient...

Measuring 2/3 cup of shortening.

And then push the measured ingredient out.

Dispensing the 2/3 cup of shortening.

You can use it for liquids and dry ingredients as well, but I just use it for those messy, sticky, semi-solid harder-to-measure ingredients. It worked perfectly for measuring out the mashed potatoes in this recipe!

The first time I made this recipe, I hand mixed it. The second time, I used my mixer. It was much easier!

Betty Crocker Potato Refrigerator Dough
  • 1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp yeast)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water or potato water (105 to 115°F)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening or coconut oil *
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup lukewarm UNSEASONED mashed potatoes **
  • 6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour *** 
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix in sugar, salt, shortening, eggs, mashed potatoes and 4 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. I generally use 6 to 6 1/2 cups of flour total. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover bowl tightly; refrigerate at least 8 hours. Can be stored in refrigerator at 45 degrees or below up to 5 days. Keep covered.

To use, punch down dough; divide dough into four, three or two parts depending on which recipe you will use it for. (see recipe variations below)

* Update 7/24/2014 - I made this recipe using Coconut Oil (Tropical Traditions brand). The dough straight out of the refrigerator was pretty tough to work with but it didn't take long for it to soften up into a very nice, pliable dough. Tropical Traditions brand coconut oil has a slight coconut flavor to it but I didn't notice it in the finished products.

** Instant mashed potatoes can be used for the mashed potatoes...just don't season it.

*** If using self-rising flour, omit salt. You can substitute up to 3 cups of whole wheat flour.




The first time I made this dough, I used it all within 2 days. I made cinnamon rollshot dog buns and doughnuts. The day I used the last bit of dough, I made more. When that batch was ready, I made more hot dog buns and some hamburger buns and more cinnamon rolls. Now I have a third batch in the works and have plans for all of it.

There are so many ways to use this refrigerator dough. Aside from those goodies I have already made, the dough will produce dinner rolls or calzones. Transform it into pizza crust or monkey bread. You name it! No wonder it's considered "all-purpose"!

There are some variations scattered about online and I keep coming up with some ideas myself. As I make something, I'll write a post about it in more detail and link to it from here.

Using Your Potato Refrigerator Dough

Cinnamon Rolls:
 - Roll out 1/3 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough (recipe above) into a 12" wide rectangle 1/4" thick (will be approximately 12" x 11").
- Spread 3 TBS butter on the surface of the dough.
- Combine 6 TBS light brown sugar and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon. Sprinkle over butter to cover the surface.
- Starting at the 12" end, roll the dough to form an 12" long roll. Pinch the seam closed.
- Mark off 1 " sections and cut into 12 slices (it is easiest to do this with dental floss).
- Place the 12 slices into a buttered 13" x 9" baking dish, about 1" apart.
- Let rise, lightly covered, for 1 to 1 1/5 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 25 to 28 minutes or until a rich golden color on top.
- Remove from the oven and drizzle with a glaze (2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp vanilla and 3 TBS milk).
OPTIONAL - you could also sprinkle raisins or chopped nuts on top of the sugar/cinnamon layer prior to rolling up.
Read More >

Doughnuts:
- Roll out 1/3 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough (recipe above) until it is 1/2 inch thick.
- Cut with a doughnut cutter (or use a pizza cutter to cut into squares).
- Place cut doughnuts onto a piece of lightly buttered parchment or wax paper.
- Loosely cover the dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
- Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F. (If you don't have a deep fryer, you can use a couple quarts of oil in a dutch oven on the stovetop)
- Fry doughnuts in small batches until golden brown on both sides.
- Drain, sprinkle with sugar or add icing or glaze.
I was able to squeeze out a baker's dozen (and extra doughnut holes) using my 2 3/4" doughnut cutter. Use a biscuit cutter (no hole) to make filled doughnuts.
Read More >

Hamburger Buns:
- Divide 1/3 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough (recipe above) into 8 equal parts.
- Shape each part into smooth ball on lightly floured surface then flatten to about 1/2 inch (this should make your dough rounds approximately 3" across).
- Place about 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet (or use a silicone mat on the baking sheet).
- Loosely cover the dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Brush buns egg wash then sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional).
- Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Makes 8 hamburger buns.
Read More >

Hot Dog Buns:
- Divide 1/3 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough (recipe above) into 8 equal parts.
- Shape each part into a rope approximately 6" long on lightly floured surface.
- Place about 1 - 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet (or use a silicone mat on the baking sheet).
- Loosely cover the dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Makes 8 large hot dog buns perfect for bun length dogs, brats and smoked sausages.
Read more >

Crescent Rolls:
- Roll 1/4 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough Recipe  into a 12-inch circle.
- Spread with softened butter.
- Cut into 16 wedges (I used a pizza cutter).
- Roll up, beginning at rounded edge.
- Place rolls, with points underneath, on greased cookie sheet (or parchment paper or silicone baking mat).
- Gently brush the tops with melted butter. Too much pressure could cause your dough to fall.
- Cover loosely and let rise until double, 60 to 90 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350°F. Bake until light brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Makes 16 rolls.
Read More >

Cheese Danishes:
- Roll 1/4 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough Recipe (above) into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick.
- Cut dough into 8 equal(ish) sized blocks.
- Brush each block with softened butter.
- Sprinkle each block with about 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
- Roll each block into a rope and pinch the seam and edges to seal.
- Coil each rope and place on a greased cookie sheet (or parchment paper or silicone baking mat).
- Press each coil to flatten.
- Cover loosely and let rise until double, 60 to 90 minutes.
- Gently create an indention in the middle of each danish and fill with approximately 2 Tablespoons of the cream cheese filling (recipe below).
- Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until a light golden brown.
- Drizzle with glaze (recipe below).
  • Cream Cheese Filling: Combine 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix until smooth and creamy.
  • Glaze: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar (sifted), 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 Tbs milk. Stir until smooth.
Read More >
Apple Dumplings:
- Roll 1/4 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough Recipe (above) into 14-inch circle.
- Cut into 8 wedges (I use a pizza cutter).
- Sprinkle each wedge with softened butter.
- Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
- Cut a Granny Smith apple into 8 wedges.
- Place a piece of apple onto each dough wedge and roll up starting from the wide end and ending with the point. Tuck in ends. Continue with remaining apples and dough wedges.
- Place in a greased or buttered 13 x 9 baking dish.
- Cover lightly and let rise until double, 60 to 90 minutes. If you don't need to bake them until later, place the covered pan in the refrigerator and pull out to rise approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours before you plan to bake them.
- Mix together 1 stick of melted unsalted butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pour butter mixture over the dumplings.
- Pour 1/2 cup of lemon-lime soda around the edges of the dumplings.
- Sprinkle tops with more cinnamon.
- Bake at 350°F degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Read More >

Bread Loaves:
- Make one batch of the Potato Refrigerator Dough Recipe EXCEPT reduce sugar to 1/2 cup and increase salt to 2 tsp.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Divide dough into 2 equal parts.
- Press each section of dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 9 inches.
- Beginning at the short side, roll up each rectangle.
- Fold under ends of dough and place in greased loaf pans (I use Pyrex loaf pans measuring 8 1/2 x
- Brush tops of loaves with softened margarine or butter.
- Loosely cover and let rise until doubled in size (approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours)
- Place the loaves on a low oven rack so the tops of the loaf pans are in the center of the oven. The loaf pans should not touch each other or the sides of the oven.
- Bake until tops are a deep golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and brush tops again with softened margarine or butter.


Bread Sticks:
- Divide 1/4 of the Potato Refrigerator Dough Recipe (above) into 12 equal parts.
- Roll each piece into 7" ropes.
- Arrange approximately 1 to 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet (or on parchment paper or silicone baking mat)
- Loosely cover and let rise until doubled in size (approximately 60 to 90 minutes)
- Mix together 1/4 melted coconut oil (or half melted coconut oil and half melted or softened butter), 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
- Generously brush the oil/butter mixture on the tops of each bread stick.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Variation: omit the garlic butter mixture and instead brush on an egg wash. Sprinkle bread sticks with sesame seeds and then bake.





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