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updated: 12/12/2012 9:10 AM

Frugal living: Tips for pie dough and candy cane treats

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After baking a pie, you might have some dough scraps. Use them up! Make a tasty treat by rolling out the extra dough and cutting it into strips. Top with a little butter, cinnamon and sugar, and bake.

The first reader tip shares another idea:

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Leftover pie dough: As a kid, my aunt made thumbprint cookies from leftover pie dough. Basically she rolled leftover pieces of dough into a small cookie-sized ball, then pressed down with her thumb to make an indentation. She'd fill it with jam or preserves and bake. You could also use pie filling to make them tastier.

Olive, Florida

Dipped candy canes:At Christmas, I like to make chocolate-dipped candy canes. They're delicious when added to hot chocolate or coffee. I dip the canes in melted chocolate and roll them into candy pieces and sprinkles. The hook makes a perfect little handle. Sometimes I poke the dipped end of the candy cane into a marshmallow, too. My daughter looks forward to them every year.

Laura S., New York

Peppermint popcorn: My son loves this at Christmas. It can make a great gift item, too. Place peppermint candy canes or candies in a plastic bag and crush; you want cup. Carefully melt 2 cups white chocolate chips or Wilton candy wafers in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Put 4 cups popped popcorn in a large bowl and drizzle the white chocolate evenly over the popcorn, then sprinkle on the crushed peppermint candy. Once it is evenly coated, put the popcorn on wax paper to cool. Once cool, break into smaller pieces and put in a gift bag or tin.

Kelly, email

Invest in a bread maker: I have a bread maker and a book with lots of bread recipes, and I use them a lot! I make my own pizza crusts, bagels, hot dog and hamburger buns. Last week I made a dinner loaf with hamburger meat, cheese, and mushroom soup and rolled it up in Italian-style dough.

I also make pretzel-bread rolls, which are a huge hit. Start with the pretzel dough recipe, then add baking soda to water and bring it to a simmer. Put the rolls in the water for about a minute, then bake in a 425-degrees oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. It makes a really tasty sandwich.

Bev, email

Heart-shaped cinnamon rolls:Roll your dough out in a rectangular shape, then roll both ends in toward the center until they meet, forming the top of the heart. Slice like you would when making jelly rolls. Pinch the bottom of each sliced section of dough to form the point of the heart shape, then bake as usual.

Carla, Ohio

Cured bacon:I decided to try curing bacon at home instead of buying it at the store, using this recipe on a pork loin: ruhlman.com/2010/10/home-cured-bacon-2. I used dried thyme and powdered garlic, and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon. The bacon cured for three weeks in a covered ice-cream bucket in our fridge. I turned it once a week. After it cured, I smoked it on the grill using some apple wood our neighbor gave us when he cut down his tree. My husband and the kids loved it -- even my younger daughter who does not like bacon. It was much leaner than regular bacon, because I didn't use pork belly. None of us care for fatty bacon anyway.

Katrinka G., forums

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village, frugalvillage.com, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email sara@frugalvillage.com.

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