Thrifty Kitchen

DIY Mini Herb Garden

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
June 2, 2017

Goodwill DIY: Mini Herb GardenWith grilling weather officially here—and plenty of sunshine and daylight for evening barbeques and picnics, I wanted to put together a mini herb garden so I can freshen up my summer dishes a bit and also add a little indoor foliage to my dining area.

With a little browsing through Pinterest, I decided making my herb garden in glass jars—with some sort of container to keep them all together—beyond that, I didn’t have much vision for this project. Over the years of #GoodwillDIY-ing, I’ve learned to approach projects with flexibility. You never know what you’re going to find at Goodwill!

For this project, I shopped at our store in Shoreline—and found everything I needed in one stop! I found some canning jars in a bright blue color, a basket that fit them perfectly, and some unopened “river stones”—which are a common craft store find, so it was easy to find matching rocks for our next DIY project. (Coming soon to the blog: DIY Succulent Terrarium)

Goodwill DIY: Goodwill Items for a herb gardenHere’s the full list of materials I used for this project:

  • 4 small jars (Goodwill)
  • A small basket (Goodwill)
  • Acrylic paint (Already had in my craft supplies – but easily found at Goodwill!)
  • Potting soil (Home Depot)
  • 3 Herb Plants: Thai Basil, Rosemary, Thyme (Home Depot)
  • River Stones (Goodwill)

Goodwill DIY: Herb Garden SuppliesI started with removing the lid from my basket, and painting the inside. Once the inside was dry enough to touch, I painted the outside.

For the planting, I put about 1.5” of the stones in the bottom of each jar—this will help with drainage when you water the plants, since the jars don’t allow water to run out.

Next, I added a layer of potting dirt, and added the plants themselves to the jars—covering any remaining area with a little more dirt. Because the thyme plant I bought was so full, I divided it into two separate jars—plus, who wouldn’t want a little extra thyme on their hands?!

Once my painted basket was dry, I set the jars into the basket—and voila! A tiny herb garden that met my spatial needs—and added a little color and flavor to my summer.

Are you doing DIY projects with your #GoodwillFinds this summer? Tag @SeattleGoodwill and #GoodwillDIY—we’d love to see them!

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Thrifty Kitchen: Homemade Holiday Hot Beverages

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 20, 2016

Thrifty Kitchen: Homemade Holiday BeveragesNothing pairs with cold weather and the twinkle of Christmas lights like a hot beverage. Whether you’re into mulled wine, hot cocoa, spiced cider—it all just adds a little something to the holiday season. Earlier in our Holiday #GoodwillDIY series we showed you how to make some festive mugs to serve it in—now here is my personal homemade peppermint hot cocoa recipe and slow cooker cranberry apple cider.  

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
This year, to accommodate some dairy-free guests, I made my cocoa with a base of unsweetened almond milk—and it was delicious. You can try it with other milk substitutes, too—or just regular dairy  milk—but whatever you choose, I recommend getting something unsweetened. You’ll be adding plenty of sweetness.

10 oz. Dark Chocolate Chips
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Tsp. Peppermint Extract
2-4 Tbsp. Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
½ Gallon Milk or Milk Substitute


  1. Start by putting the milk in a pot over low heat—you want to heat it slowly to avoid burning, or a filmy layer at the top. The milk will likely take longer to heat than making the chocolate mixture to go in it will, so start the milk about 10-15 minutes before you start the steps below.
  2. Add the chocolate chips to the double boiler, and occasionally stir/scrape the bottom and edges as it melts. If you don’t own a double boiler, you can DIY one using a pot and a metal or glass bowl. (These items are easy to come by at Goodwill!).
  3. Once the chocolate is completely melted, add the extracts—stirring each time you add some.
  4. Add the cocoa powder as needed to absorb some of the extra liquid you added to the melted chocolate—add enough so there’s no liquid gathering at the edges of the bowl, but not so much that it starts to get clumpy.
  5. Remove the bowl from the double boiler, and pour the melted chocolate mixture into the milk—use a whisk to mix it well!

Once the ingredients are well-incorporated, it’s ready to serve—top it with marshmallows and a candy cane! (Or, if you want to make it an adult beverage—add a shot of Peppermint Schnapps or Peppermint Vodka.)

Slow Cooker Cranberry Cider

1.5 Liters Apple Cider
½ Liter Cranberry Juice (unsweetened)
2 Cups Orange Juice (Pulp-free, unsweetened)
3-5 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tbsp. Whole Cloves
½ Cup Sugar (I like to use raw sugar for its molasses-like flavor!)
Cranberries/Orange Slices to Garnish

With the exception of the garnish, throw it all into the slow cooker on low heat for 3-4 hours. It’s that easy. Once it’s hot, you might want to throw the garnishes in the slow cooker so they’re not cold when you serve them with a hot beverage! (Want to make it an adult beverage? Add a shot of bourbon to the mug before adding the cider.)

Enjoy either of these recipes with friends and family—indoors or out! 

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Baking with Goodwill: Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
November 21, 2016

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving is this week, and nothing quite says “Turkey Day” like a homemade pumpkin pie and some homemade whipped cream to top it with. This recipe is easy, quick in terms of preparation timeand is delicious.

This recipe will make two 8” pies—with a little leftover filling. Tip: Bake the leftover filling in a ramekin or a small dish for your gluten-free friends!

Ingredients for the pie:

  • 2 Pillsbury Pie Crusts
  • 30 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups raw sugar
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 3 Tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 oz. bourbon whiskey

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie IngredientsStart with following the instructions on the pie crust. Most unfrozen, premade pie crusts will have you warm them to room temperature, roll them out into your pie dish, and bake them for about 10 minutes at 450°. Be sure to poke them with a fork on the bottom and sides so they bake evenly and don’t bubble. Once they’re golden brown, let them cool completely before filling them.

While your pie crusts are in the oven, make the filling.

Start by whisking the eggs until they’re well-combined, but not frothy. Then—add the rest of the ingredients—and mix until they’re all incorporated, and smooth. I used local distillery Heritage Distilling Company’s Brown Sugar Bourbon for this recipe—and it was the perfect choice!

Pour the filling into the cooled crusts.

Bake the pies on the center rack at 425° for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350° and bake for another 40-50 minutes. You can tell when the pie is done if you can poke a fork into it, and have the fork come out clean. Allow the pie to cool for an hour or two before serving.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie in the ovenWhile the pies are in the oven, make the whipped cream topping.

Ingredients for a spiced bourbon whipped cream:

  • 16 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • ~ ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 oz. bourbon whiskey

Use a stand mixer to whip the whipped cream until it is firm and peaks—don’t over whip!

Using a spatula, mix in the confectioner’s sugar—make it as sweet as you feel necessary! Then, add the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and bourbon whiskey—and use the spatula to mix until it’s well incorporated. Store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve!

If you’re finding your short on kitchen supplies—like a stand mixer, pie dishes, baking sheets, or serving utensils—for the holiday season, Goodwill is an excellent place to find quality kitchen supplies at low prices.

Note: The bourbon cooks out of the pie—so the pie itself is non-alcoholic, but it doesn’t cook out of the whipped cream! If you’re serving to people who should not have alcohol, we recommend leaving it out of the whipped cream. 

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Baking with Goodwill: Lemon Drop Bars

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
July 30, 2016

Baking with Goodwill: Lemon Drop BarsWhen it comes to summertime staple baked goods, lemon bars rank high on the list. They’re far easier to make from scratch than you may realize, and you might even have all the ingredients you need if you keep basic baking supplies stocked in your pantry. My recipe below is equally delicious as it is easy!

All of the kitchen supplies you’ll need are easily found at Goodwill:
An 8x8” baking dish, 1-2 mixing bowls, a whisk, a spatula, and measuring cups/spoons


Crust: Lemon Drop Custard:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 3 eggs: 2 whole, 1 yolk
½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature) 1 cup white sugar
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon almond extract 2 tablespoons vodka
¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon orange extract
  1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar (to dust over the top)

Baking with Goodwill: Lemon Drop Bars - supplies and ingredients

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil your 8x8” baking dish.

For the crust:
Use the spatula to mix your room temperature butter and flour, making sure to incorporate it well. Then add the rest of the crust ingredients: confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and almond extract, and salt. Continue to use the spatula to press/mix the ingredients together. It should wind up like dry cookie dough—a bit crumbly.

Press the crust down into the dish. Use a fork to poke holes in the crust so it doesn’t bubble.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crust edges are starting to brown just a little.

Lemon Drop BarsFor the Lemon Drop Custard:
Whisk your ingredients together, adding them one at a time, in the order of the ingredients list. Once it’s all mixed, continue whisking for a couple minutes so it becomes a little light and frothy at the top.

Pour the mixture over the crust, and put it back in the oven for about 25 minutes—when it’s ready, a light sugary crust will form.

Let the bars cool completely.

Use a knife (dip it in hot water to make it easier) to cut around the edges, and cut the bars into your preferred size—I normally go 4x4, making 16 bars. Dust the bars with the remaining teaspoon of confectioners’ sugar. If it’s going to be a while before they’re consumed, or if you’re going to refrigerate them first, hold off on the dusting part until you’re ready to eat them.

Check out some of our other Baking with Goodwill recipes under the Thrifty Kitchen blog category

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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Goodwill

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
March 16, 2016

Whether you’re the wear-green-so-I-don’t-get-pinched type, or the wholehearted celebrant of all things Irish—or anywhere in between—St. Patrick’s Day can be a fun day to celebrate with those around you. You might celebrate with a pint at the local Irish pub, by running a marathon, by decking yourself in green, orange, and white and shamrocks galore, by putting together an epic playlist of Irish artists, or by sharing Irish cuisine with friends.

If you’re in dire need of some green to avoid getting hassled by your friends and coworkers—or you need some music to bolster your epic Irish playlist—swing into one of our stores. It could be as simple as a green accessory from the jewelry department, or a full Irish flag-themed outfit—you can find it at Goodwill!

Green clothes, accessories, and shoes for St. Patrick's Day.To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we thought we’d compile a few of our favorite Irish (and American Irish) dishes from Seattle-based that you can prepare and share with friends, family, and coworkers to enjoy:

Corned Beef & Cabbage is a bit of a given for this list—and All Recipes has many different variations—but we like this one that replaces some of the liquids with Guinness. Don’t have 2 ½ hours to cook on St. Paddy’s Day? You can throw this recipe, plus some chopped red potatoes, cabbage, onions, and carrots all into a slow cooker (easily found at Goodwill!) set to low heat in the morning, and come home to a delicious and hearty meal in the evening.

Soda Bread is another go-to St. Paddy’s Day food. It’s easy to make with some pantry basics, and only requires very basic kitchenware to prepare. (But it’ll go a bit faster if you have a stand mixer to help!) This “Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread” really is amazingly easy, and can be a great addition to dinner or be a nice treat to have with your breakfast coffee or tea.

As for dessert, there are many ways to modify rich chocolate recipes with Irish alcoholic beverages to up the indulgence level, and share at work—or, of course, keep all to yourself. Take for example these Guinness and Chocolate Cheesecake and Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake recipes—or you can modify the Valentine’s Day cake we made to use Guinness (and be green and in the shape of a Shamrock).

If you’d rather take the green-themed option for your desserts, you can add green food dye to lighter colored recipes—or go with the mint-theme that many American St. Patrick’s Day desserts have.

For a fun breakfast for the kids, you can turn this excellent waffle recipe into a rainbow with clouds and a pot of gold at the end by adding some food coloring, whipped cream, and a side of pineapple! This easy tutorial can help you master the rainbow waffle.Crock Pot slow cooker, kitchenware, serving dishes, and more.Goodwill is a treasure trove of kitchen wares and cooking utensils, so if you find your kitchen lacking a tool to help create one of these dishes, swing by your favorite Goodwill store (or shop online!) for pots, pans, utensils, and much more. 

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