Easy 5 Cup Fruit Salad Recipe – Perfect for gatherings or a last minute dinner side dish!

Easy 5 Cup Fruit Salad

*I wanted to share this recipe again as it’s a great fruit salad to have for Easter Dinner with the pastel colors & mild flavors.


Fruit salad has always been one of my favorite side dishes for any meal and I love this Easy 5 Cup Fruit Salad recipe that my grandma used to make and now my mom makes frequently. Many people also call this Ambrosia. There are all sorts of different variations that you can use to make this salad – use all fresh fruit ingredients and what’s in season in the summer and then in the winter, you can use canned fruits to save on money and time to still provide a yummy side dish for gatherings or special occasions.

Ingredients for 5 Cup Fruit Salad

5 Cup Fruit Salad also makes a great dish to bring to a potluck as you can double or triple the recipe and not spend a lot of money on the ingredients as they are all very inexpensive ingredients (especially if you use the canned fruits) and these are typically ingredients you’d always have on hand, so you can throw it together easily at night for dinner or a last-minute dish for a special event. We always had this with Easter dinner or for Christmas dinner as a  spruced up fruit dish and it felt like you were eating dessert because it was so sweet!

Easy 5 Cup Fruit Salad

Easy 5 Cup Fruit Salad


  • 1 cup fruit cocktail
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • *You can substitute the fruit cocktail or pineapple for mandarin oranges or any fruit that you'd prefer
  • *We also have substituted 1 cup of whipped cream (or to taste) for the sour cream if you prefer less of the tangy flavor. I personally love the unique, little bit of tang that the sour cream adds, but your kids may prefer the whipped cream flavor.


  1. If using any fresh fruit, chop up fruit into bite size pieces
  2. Dump all your ingredients into a bowl.
  3. Stir it all together
  4. Chill until ready to eat.
  5. This will feed a family of 3-4. If you'd like to make it for larger groups, you can easily double or triple the ingredients to make more.
  6. It's really that simple - love this recipe as you can put it together in minutes!
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Find more of our favorite recipes on our recipe database page.

What are your favorite fruit salad recipes to serve your family or at a gathering?

Fix, Freeze, Feast – Freezer Meal Cookbook – FREE Kindle Book

fix freeze feast

The Fix, Freeze, Feast: Meals for a Busy Family cookbook is on sale at Amazon for FREE for the Kindle version. If you are hoping to do more freezer cooking, this could be a great resource for you to grab!

Fix, Freeze, Feast: Meals for a Busy Family is packed full of recipes that you can make in bulk ahead of time and pull out in a hurry when you need a healthy and delicious meal. The meals are prepared ahead of time using healthy and budget friendly ingredients, stored in the freezer until needed and then placed in the oven just before dinner. Recipes from this eBook prove to be more delicious, healthy and cheaper than going out to catch a bite from the drive thru on the way to rehearsal or before practice.

You might also be interested in these articles we have on Freezer Cooking:


*Remember that Amazon prices are subject to change at any time. 

Find more Amazon deals on Thrifty NW Mom.  And don’t forget that when you search the web using Swagbucks, you can earn Amazon gift cards for further savings at Amazon. Read more about using Swagbucks as your search engine to earn gift cards as you search the web.


Hot Fudge Cupcakes with Marshmallow Hot Fudge Frosting

Hot Fudge Cupcakes

 Hot Fudge Cupcakes with Marshmallow Topping

Here is a fun recipe to try for Valentines Day!

If you’ve been looking for a new, delicious cupcake recipe, you’ll want to try these hot fudge cupcakes with marshmallow topping. This one is sure to be a hit, especially with chocolate lovers! I love the addition of the caramel mixed in with the chocolate & marshmallow! Mmm!

A great addition would be to use our DIY Caramel Topping recipe for the caramel used in this recipe to give it even more flavor! Or if you’d rather add a little something different, try this with a coconut oil frosting to change it up a little!

Hot Fudge Cupcakes with Marshmallow Topping


    For the cupcakes:
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of milk or half and half
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons caramel topping
  • 2 teaspoons hot fudge
  • For the icing:
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) cream cheese package, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with liners; set aside.
  2. Mix your flour, brown sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl with a wooden spoon.
  3. Whisk the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  4. Mix the wet mixture into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon to make sure that all of the dry mixture gets coated with the milk and egg.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips, caramel, and hot fudge.
  6. Bake for about 23 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. To make the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, marshmallow creme, and vanilla on medium, until creamy. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add your powdered sugar until thoroughly blended and smooth.
  8. Toppings: Swirl as much or as little hot fudge and caramel over your frosting as you like.
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Adapted from this chocolate cupcake recipe from Food.com.

Make sure to check out more delicious desserts:


Homemade Espresso Drinks (Lattes, etc) – No Fancy Machine Needed!

how to make espresso without a machine

How to make espresso without a machine!

This cold weather is causing me to seek some solice in a warm, cozy cup of coffee. Well, more accurately, a creamy foamy latte (hazelnut is my flavor of choice this morning). I worked my way through college as a Barista, and have not stopped whipping up espresso drinks since. Now my family and neighbors are the ones drinking my lattes.

Did you know that you don’t need an expensive espresso machine to make a great latte or americano? Its true, there is not a big up front investment requirement to enjoy a good espresso.

Here is how you can make a latte without an automated espresso machine:

Ingredients Needed

  • Espresso
  • Milk of choice or water for americano.
  • Extra ingredients (syrups, flavorings of choice, whip cream).

Amazon has some great deals on quality espresso’s here (Cafe La Llave Espress 10 oz on sale for $5.07 right now)!

You have a few options here on how to make the espresso:

Making espresso without machine

1)A very popular product on the market these days is the Aerobie AeroPress Espresso Coffee Machine and can often be found for under $30. Reviews on this machine are excellent, and it makes a great tasting espresso!

how to make espresso without a machine

2) With a French Press-  You can get a Bodum French Press (this is what I have and love it) starting at around $19.99 (other brands will go for as low as the $9.00 range) on Amazon.

Find step by step directions on this brewing method on wikihow here.

how to make espresso without a machine

3) Use a Stove Top Espresso Maker (often called a Moka Pot or poor mans espresso)- These start at $9.99 on Amazon.

Gimme Coffee has a great tutorial, complete with pictures, on this method here.

4) Use a standard Coffee Maker. This is my least favorite method, as it makes the least strong espresso. However its a great option if you already have a coffee maker and don’t want to invest in new equipment, or if you are a regular coffee drinker and just want an occasional latte.

For this method you will:

  • Want to get an espresso blend of coffee, it needs to be ground very finely.
  • Double the amount of coffee you would put into your pot, to make a really strong coffee.
  • Use right after finished brewing for best results.
  • When coffee is finished fill your cup with 1/4 of the espresso mixture and 3/4 milk for latte (or 3/4 water for american).
  •  Be sure to heat your milk in the microwave, with hand frother or over the stove first, so its hot.
how to make espresso without a machine

Frothing Your Milk:

You can purchase a hand Milk Frother on Amazon (from Ikea) for under $10, but I highly recommend reading through reviews on this product, because not all milk frothers are made the same.

You can find milk frothing instructions on Wikihow here.

You can also just warm your milk over the stove or in the microwave if you are not a fan of foam on top of your latte, or make your latte over ice – no frothing necessary!

Here are two more alternatives to milk:

  • Make an Americano (espresso and hot water) and add a big dollup of whip cream to the top. Mix that into your coffee (like creamer) and it will add a sweet creamy taste to your americano. I love to make mine this way, with a little vanilla and cinnamon (yum).

Tips for the milk:

  • 160 degrees is what you will get at most coffee shops. You can get a Milk Thermometer to check your temp if you want (these can be pretty affordable).
  • Kids drinks are usually 130-140 degrees.
  • Adult drinks are usually around 160-165 degrees.
  • I like mine extra hot around 170-180 degrees (I believe you will start scalding at 180 so be careful).
  • Want a really rich drink, use half and half to make a ‘Breve” (so delicious!)
  • You can make non fat milk taste creamier by making a nice dense foam on the top (vs one with lots of air bubbles).
  • Want a cheap flavored latte. Grab some flavored creamer and add a tablespoon to your milk before frothing.
homemade espresso

Tips for making cheap flavored lattes:

Coffee syrups can be pricey, but you can often save by buying in bulk or stopping at your local Cash and Carry to take advantage of restaurant pricing! You can also check out this article on DIY: Iced Coffee & Homemade Syrups

Syrups are not the only way to flavor up a latte. If you are going to buy them I find the best prices at Shop and Carry or Fred Meyer (when they have the Extra Value coupons available). If you do not want to make this splurge, here are some other great tips:

  • Use chocolate syrup for mochas, its generally more affordable then syrups
  • Use caramel sauce rather then caramel syrup. I actually prefer caramel sauce (I think it provides a more mellow taste and less sweet). You can even make caramel sauce yourself!
  • Use condensed milk with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg for a Spanish flavored coffee. I love these, reminds me of drinking coffee in Puerto Rican restaurants in NY (where I stole this trick from).  Add anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp depending on how sweet you like your coffee.
  • Make Mexican mochas.  Every couponer knows Hot Chocolate often goes on sale around this time of the year. Stock up on it, and use it as an alternative to expensive chocolate powder in a Mexican Mocha recipe.  You can make up the mixture and then just scoop a couple of tsp. into your latte, and stir until dissolved.  Use all of the packets of hot chocolate from one box, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg. If you want to give it a kick you can add a 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. If you have vanilla powder, thats the best to add (1 tbs), but if not I substitute 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract (add it directly to your coffee cup, not to the powder mixture if you want to store it).
  • Buy flavored coffee creamers and use them in your Americano, or steam some with  your milk.
  • Use chocolate milk to make your mochas (then you wont need a syrup, just steam the chocolate milk like you would regular milk).
  • Use eggnog cut with a little regular milk to make an eggnog latte (you can add a splash of rum extract to really make it great).
  • Add a splash of peppermint extract to your chocolate syrup (be careful with this, a very little bit goes a long way – you may want to use an eyedropper (clean of course) to add.
  • Make it really special with garnishes. Grate a little chocolate over the top, or break up a candy cane to sprinkle on top. My favorite is to add homemade whip cream to the top and drizzle some caramel sauce over it. You can also add a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg or chocolate powder to add pizzazz!

What are your favorite bargain coffee tips?

(Note - Amazon prices can change at any time)

Other Articles You May Be Interested In:

You can view more frugal homemaking & DIY ideas under the ”Resources” tab – Frugal Living,DIY Ideas, &  Recipes .

25 Game Day Recipes for the 12th Fan

25 Game Day Recipes for the 12th Fan

The big game has finally arrived this weekend and if you’re planning on having a big party or just having a few friends over, we’ve got you covered with a roundup of some delicious recipes – everything from appetizers to main dishes to desserts! These dishes are sure to please your guests as you watch the Super Bowl together and celebrate the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl!! :) Go Hawks!!

And don’t forget to check out our FREE Seahawks Game Day Party Pack printables to use on your food table!

25 Game Day Recipes for the 12th Fan

1. Buffalo Chicken Bites // Mom On Timeout

2. Football Brownie Bites // The Nerd’s Wife

3. Buffalo Chicken Skewers // The Nerd’s Wife

4. Individual Seven Layer Dip // Six Sisters’ Stuff

5. Milky Way Bites // Glued To My Crafts

6. Three Bean Frito Chip Salad // Six Sisters’ Stuff

7. Peanut Butter Popcorn Bunch // Mom On Timeout

8. Skinny Taco Dip // Six Sisters’ Stuff

9. Chicken Taco Bites // Call Me PMC

10. Chocolate Banana Bites // Glued To My Crafts

12. Fried Ravioli Recipe // Mom On Timeout

13. 7 Layer Dip Dessert // Six Sisters’ Stuff

14. Sausage Cheese Cups // Call Me PMC

15. Snickers Popcorn Recipe // Six Sisters’ Stuff

16. Fall Snack Mix // Love Bakes Good Cakes

17. Honey BBQ Chicken Pizza // A Night Owl Blog

18. Chicken Quesadilla Dip // Six Sisters’ Stuff

19. Queso Blanco // The Nerd’s Wife

20. Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Meatballs // Six Sisters’ Stuff

21. Vegetable Dill Dip // Six Sisters’ Stuff

22. Teriyaki Chicken Drumettes  // Thrifty NW Mom

23. Homemade Pico de Gallo // Thrifty NW Mom

24. Easy Party Meatballs // Thrifty NW Mom

25.  Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken // Thrifty NW Mom

25. Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken // Thrifty NW Mom

Make sure to check out more Seahawks deals for the rest of this week and weekend!

What is your favorite dish to bring to a Super Bowl party? We’d love to hear your favorite recipes!

25 Days of Christmas Activities – Christmas Tree Cones!

 christmas tree cones

We had fun celebrating 25 Days of Christmas with our kids and according to them, their favorite activity was decorating (and eating) Christmas cones! This is such a fun activity regardless of the age of your child and super simple as most of these items you probably already have on hand from Christmas treats! It would make for a fun Christmas Eve treat before bedtime.


christmas tree cones

  • Sugar Cones
  • Frosting (packaged or homemade)
  • Green food coloring for frosting (or use natural food coloring to make frosting green)
  • Favorite candies to decorate the tree – we used m&ms, gum drops, & sprinkles but you could use anything & everything you want to make it creative
  • Pull-apart licorice (if you want to use as garland on your tree). We originally bought regular licorice as you can see on our tray, but realized we didn’t have enough cones, so my hubby went out & got the pull-apart licorice which worked much better

christmas tree cone fun

This is a simple treat where you just set out all the candies & frosting and let kids decorate their own Christmas Tree Cones! I gave our girls plastic knives & they had fun putting the frosting on first & then adding whatever candies & licorice they wanted on their tree. After they were done, they had fun devouring their Christmas tree cones!

Let us know if you try this & if you have any other variations to add to it! We’d love to see your pictures, too! 

Last Minute Homemade Gift Ideas

 last minute homemade gift ideas

Are you looking for some frugal, last-minute Christmas gift ideas you could work on together on Christmas Eve? Or maybe some fun neighbor or hostess gifts ? We always love to bring some goodies to neighbors all around us on Christmas Eve (always surprises those neighbors you don’t know that well & is a great way to get to know them better).

Here are some ideas of some fun, last-minute frugal gift ideas:

Food Gifts:

Gifts from the kids:

  • Salt Dough Ornaments - last-minute, frugal gift to give the grandparents or other family members  (maybe make hand or footprint ornaments) and a fun Christmas Eve activity to enjoy together
  • Homemade Playdough - these would make cute little gifts for your kiddos to give to their friends or neighbor friends on Christmas Eve. Here’s another variation Sia did with her kids

Frugal Gifts:

What are your favorite easy, frugal last-minute gift ideas?

Christmas Breakfast – Ham, Egg & Cheese Wreeath, Bacon Wrapped Sausage & More

Here is a fun idea for Christmas morning, that is fairly easy and affordable. Plus, you can prep these items easily ahead of time, so you (the cook) does not have to miss out on the Christmas morning fun, just to put a special breakfast on the table! We made this Ham, Egg and Cheese Wreath for our Easter Brunch this past year, but it would be perfect for Breakfast. We served it with an assortment of food including Bacon Wrapped Sausage, and it was a hit. The breakfast wreath is made with pre-made crescent dough mix, so its not only affordable but easy to assemble. Find the full recipe for the breakfast wreath here.   Christmas breakfast We simply wrapped one sausage link with one piece of bacon (you can use just a half piece of bacon per sausage link too), and cooked in a 450 degree oven on a tray until the sausage was cooked through (about 20 minutes). Add in Christmas Tree made out of cinnamon rolls, and some Espresso or lattes (no fancy machine required), for a special Christmas breakfast that will not require too much work!

Great Value Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls & Cookie Dough – Time-Savers during the Holidays!

We are getting close to Christmas, and if you are looking for some short cuts on baking ideas, here are a couple of fun ones we did last year using pre-made Cookie dough and pre-made cinnamon rolls. Make a cinnamon roll Christmas tree for the kids to enjoy for breakfast (you could even make the frosting green if you want), or Salted Caramel bars for entertaining!

Last week I shared with you a yummy recipe for Salted Caramel Bars using Great Value refrigerated cookie dough (you can find the recipe & directions in last week’s post).  The holiday season is so busy and I have been enjoying finding ways to shorten the steps & save time in preparing for holiday get-togethers by using pre-made, refrigerated dough products. We have so many different get-togethers this month & they all involve bringing a dish or dessert and as a busy work-at-home mom, I need to find those shortcuts to decrease the time & still be able to provide yummy recipes for these various events. This is where Great Value products have really come in handy as I’ve been realizing how many possibilities you can come up with using the different, Great Value refrigerated dough products as the base for many recipes.

I experimented with making Salted Caramel Bars last week to see if they would be a good option to provide for a get-together with our neighbors as well as to bring to some holiday gatherings. They turned out to be a hit with my family and I loved how simple & easy they were with only 5 ingredients when you use the Great Value refrigerated cookie dough as your base instead of homemade cookie dough. We had planned on having our neighbors over this weekend for some holiday treats, but unfortunately our family was hit with the nasty cold bug all last week. It made its rounds through the whole family for the long week & unfortunately my little gal is still not on the mend & had to stay home again today, so we weren’t able to invite them over to our house last night.

Since we had a rough week this past week with illness & couldn’t get together with friends to enjoy the treats, we decided to have a little mini cookie decorating party with just our family.  Our 25 Days of Christmas advent activities have been much more low-key the past week with everyone being sick, so the girls enjoyed having some yummy treats after dinner for our activity tonight.  It also gave me the opportunity to quickly bake 2 dozen cookies for a Gingerbread Decorating Party that I’m hoping my daughter will be well enough to attend tomorrow! Definitely have not had time for homemade cookie baking, so the Great Value refrigerated cookie dough is coming to the rescue so I can get all these cookies made in time.

 Of course the girls loved putting the sprinkles on the best! The more the better! 

 My husband was having fun decorating his, too, as you can tell! 

We also decided to try out the Great Value cinnamon rolls as another treat for our little mini party. I was hoping to try out a variation of a Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread or Cinnamon Roll Apple Coffee Cake,  but we just ran out of time. My husband ended up cooking them and then shaping them as a Christmas tree for some holiday fun.

Eating cinnamon rolls is a rare treat for our kids and I think this would make a great option for Christmas morning when you’re in the midst of opening gifts and you want something super simple to just pop in the oven & stop to eat briefly before returning to opening gifts. The kids will love if you spruce them up by putting them in a fun shape like the Christmas tree or maybe in a wreath shape with raspberries or strawberries as the berries in the Christmas wreath.


Pure enjoyment!!

Do you have any unique or fun recipes using refrigerated cookie dough or cinnamon rolls? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear!


Disclosure: This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Great Value and the Motherhood. All opinions are mine. You can find Great Value products at Walmart. 

Homemade Gift Idea: Salt Dough Ornaments

Here is  a fun idea, if your looking for something to do on a snowy day with the kids!

Guest Post: Sarah from Chickie Momma Crafts

This is the 4th homemade gift idea in a series of guest posts by my friend Sarah! Make sure to check out her blog, Chickie Momma Crafts for all sorts of fun holiday craft ideas, recipes, do-it-yourself furniture projects & more!

Most years in my childhood we would make salt dough or cinnamon ornaments.  My aunt is also the queen of these and I have so many on my tree that she would decorate and give each niece and nephew over the years.  My sister and I hosted a cookie exchange a few years ago and so I thought making salt dough ornaments would be perfect for the party favor.  They turned out cute and some even have teeth marks from my then two year old trying to “eat” them.  I used the recipe listed below and then when they were cooled I used puffy paints and glitter glue to decorate them.  I have heard that you can also use real sprinkles!!  Never tried it, but maybe this year!

Classic Salt Dough Ornament Recipe


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water


1. Mix salt and flour.

2. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water.

3. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.

4. For flat dough ornaments, roll out the dough on baking paper.

How to  Create Your Ornaments:

  • For desired shape, use cookie cutters, cut-out templates, or just use your hands to shape the dough into the shape you want.
  • Dust dough with flour, then begin to add details to the ornaments with a toothpick, popsicle stick, and knife.

Tip: Don’t forget – use a straw to make a hole so you can hang the ornament or use a small piece of wire inserted while the dough is soft. (I use a 34 gage wire, cut it about an inch then fold it to a horseshoe shape and stick the two ends in the dough)

Baking: Time varies based on thickness of ornament.  The temperature should be at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until dry.


  • Let ornaments cool before you begin
  • Paint with acrylic paints
  • Glue on beads, buttons, or any fun accessory

{I like to use puffy paints and glitter glue}

Preservation{so they’ll last a long time}:  Coat with acrylic varnish when everything is dry.

Make sure to check out the previous homemade gift ideas featured this week by Chickie Momma Crafts:

Sarah is a wife & mother of two little boys (ages 4 & 2).  She’s the Co-Coordinator at a local MOPS group & is a former elementary school teacher. You’ll definitely want to check out her website, Chickie Momma Crafts, as she is a woman of many talents – crafting, baking, decorating & turning trash-into-treasures!