Mini Eggs and Mini Cheesecakes

I was looking for a recipe in my recipe box the other day and found this card for Baby Cheesecakes! My mom used to make this recipe when we had guests or around the holidays.  You don’t have to make a graham cracker base or anything messy like that!  You simply use a vanilla cookie.

Yummy!  Super fun for an Easter party, or a potluck.  They took less than 5 minutes to make!  An easy last minute recipe.

Mini Cheesecakes

  • Vanilla Wafers (you can find these in the cookie aisle)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 – 8oz Packages of Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • Topping – Mini Eggs or pie filling or fresh fruit, the options are endless

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat eggs, cream cheese and sugar until smooth (I kept the cream cheese at room temperature, and beat the cream cheese and sugar first to get the lumps out before adding in the eggs)
  3. Put small paper cups into a muffin tin
  4. Place vanilla wafer into small paper cups (I ran out of the mini muffin cups, so used strips of parchment to get the cheesecakes out)
  5. Fill paper cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove, let cool slightly, remove from pan, and add topping (since I was adding chocolate I placed these in the fridge to cool before adding)
  7. Add a small dollop (my favorite word!) of whip cream on the cheesecake before adding mini eggs, this helped them to stay in place.

This was a fun recipe to make, and I used one large package of Mini Eggs for 24 mini cheesecakes.  I put more batter in mine so it made less.  If following the recipe this should make 3 1/2 dozen.

Chai Cocktail & Cookies

Chai Cocktail and Cookies

This past week I made a chai tea concentrate as we are no longer drinking coffee, what?  It turned out delicious and then it had me thinking about adding vodka, and that a Chai Cocktail would be delicious, I was right!  Also this cocktail is totally on budget.  The chai concentrate cost next to nothing to make.

I used this wonderful recipe for the CHAI TEA recipe. It was easy and the whole house smelled wonderful.  I only put in a tablespoon of honey as I didn’t want it to be super sweet.

Chai Tea Cocktail

Chai Tea Cocktail:

2 oz Chai concentrate

1 oz Vodka

Splash of almond milk or cream or regular milk (your choice)

A little sweetener honey or simple syrup or sugar

Sugar and Cinnamon blend on the rim

Star Anise in the drink

** There are no rules, I basically made this up, but it was delicious.

Chai Cocktail and Cookies

This Chai Cocktail would be great for a lunch or brunch or afternoon party. Combined with the shortbread was absolutely delicious.  I used my Gramma’s recipe for the shortbread and it is such a simple recipe.

Grammas Shortbread Recipe

I hope you enjoy this holiday cocktail inspiration and make your own!

 

The Simple Platter

The Simple Platter

Do you believe you can recreate the platter above in three simple steps?  I am here to show you how.  I love hosting parties and having guests over, but prepping can sometimes take a lot of time, here’s an easy three steps to keep it simple, but still create a wonderful platter.

STEP 1: The Base

The Simple Platter

Use what you have in your kitchen pantry.  We bought these inexpensive wood cutting boards and were gifted the cheeseboard, they look really great as a base and create a nice contrast.

STEP 2: The Ingredients

The Simple Platter

The ingredients are up to you!  I love to include a variety, here I have cheese, olives, tomatoes, bread, and meat.

STEP 3: The Decor

The Simple Platter

The platters you see online look full as they have a lot of extra items like fruit, nuts, table runners, etc.  I prefer to use items that will not go to waste.  The plums were eaten up, I used the lemons in a drink and the rosemary went into breakfast potatoes!

HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER:

Think of your platter as layers.

Layer #1 – Tablecloth or Tablerunner and extra tea towels or material

Layer #2 – The different bases, spread out

Layer #3  – The ingredients, laid out in any fashion, I kept everything in groups.

Layer #4 – The décor, this layer is create some more color and make the platter look full.

The Simple Platter

You can create this for a gathering large or small, last minute or weeks in advance!

Happy entertaining!

Batch Cooking: Part 3

Batch Cooking

Here we are, part three of Batch Cooking.  This has been an interesting adventure, it started out as an option to save time during the week and basically get cooking out of the way, and took off from there.  I realized how much I appreciated the extra time and wanted more, so now it’s Meal Planning, Online Grocery Shopping and Batch Cooking.

This past week I placed an online order for groceries through Save On Foods, and I honestly do not know why I never tried this before!  In 20 minutes I had a meal plan for the week, a grocery list and had placed my order for delivery Sunday morning.  To say I was nervous is an understatement, but really what’s the worst thing that could happen?  I get a banana that’s too brown or a soft pepper, in reality I am cooking the food the day I get it, so there will not be any waste.

Sunday morning arrived, while having a coffee I received a call from the Save On delivery driver to let me know he was parking and would be by in about 5 minutes.  Perfect.  He arrived with the groceries in bins, we went over the list and he explained one item was not included, raspberries, because the shipment they received was poor quality.  Of course after he left I double checked everything, lol.  It was all there, everything from fresh vegetables to canned goods to eggs to toilet paper to Halloween candy.

I enjoyed the whole process of online shopping.  As someone who likes to stick to a budget, ordering online only makes sense.  I was able to cost compare, search my favorite items with ease, and stay on budget.  Speaking of budget, since I have started batch cooking I have spent on average $140 per week, for three adults.  This amount includes items for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  It works out to $6.60 per person, per day, which is only $200 per person for the month.  I no longer fall into the trap of buying items I do not need, I stick to my list since I am only getting the ingredients I need for that weeks recipes.

Here are some positive points from the batch cooking adventure:

  • Everyone chips in!  Since the mess is made in one afternoon, it seems easy for everyone to help out, one person cooks, another cleans and someone else takes out the recycling and garbage.
  • I discovered how much time I have during the week!  Every night is open.  There is no pressure to brainstorm a recipe, go grocery shopping or clean.  The meal plan is on the fridge, we simply heat up the evenings meal.  A bonus, I have the cooking/prep/cleaning down to 2 hours!
  • Online grocery shopping.  I honestly don’t have to say more than that!  For anyone working full time, or moms transitioning back to work, or families with a full schedule, this is such an easy and pain free option, everyone should be doing it!
  • No waste!  I cannot tell you how happy this point makes me.  Even though we had a plan for the week in the past, something would come up and then food would go bad.  To me throwing away food is not only wasteful but expensive.  Now if we have something that comes up during the week I simply put that meal directly in the freezer.
  • I enjoy cooking more.  I am sure you can’t imagine how cooking for 2 hours can be more enjoyable but it is.  I listen to music, visit with the bf, talk to my mom and enjoy the process.  Sometimes it takes me longer to cook as I take breaks or get distracted but it doesn’t matter because I know by the end of Sunday all the food will be prepped.

Would love to hear if anyone has any more tips or tricks for batch cooking, ordering groceries online or meal planning!

Happy cooking!

 

Batch Cooking – Part 2

Batch Cooking ReviewOk I have made it three weeks into batch cooking and I wanted to give my feedback. I LOVE IT!!! Yes, I am yelling that is why I had to write it in all capitals.  Prior to my batch cooking experiment cooking dinner and prepping lunch for the day added stress.  I don’t need added stress, who does?  It wasn’t simply the preparation it was the daunting task of finding a recipe, going to the grocery store, coming home to prepare the meal and finally cooking everything.  I still complete these same tasks with the batch cooking but because I am doing everything at the same time it is somehow easier.

In Part 1 of Batch Cooking I discussed the time investment, and this lessened the second week from 4 hours to only 3 hours.  3 hours!! To cook everything for the week.   Since we were away last weekend I actually did the batch cooking on Monday after work for the second week.

I want to review the recipes I used and how everything worked out, for the most part none of the recipes were a fail, I simply made too many ahead items.

Broccoli Meatballs and Cashew Alfredo Sauce

WEEK 1:

Breakfast Options:

Frittata – used the leftover veggies from the week and made a potato, onion, red pepper combo

Yogurt and Granola

Frozen Pancakes – we always make extra when we cook these on the weekend so there is always something in the freezer.

Lunch Options:

Salads – had mixed greens on hand and prepped the following: quinoa, boiled eggs, roasted veggies and had nuts, vegetables and fruit cut up as well.

Leftovers – If there were any leftovers they were fair game for lunch.

Dinner Options:

*I live with two grown men, if left to their own devices could possibly eat 3 of these in one day! Lol. I made a menu for the week and if anyone was home earlier or running late they could heat up their meal.

Sunday: Broccoli Meatballs and Cashew Alfredo

Monday: Refried Bean Burritos

Tuesday: Vegetarian Chili

Wednesday: Leftovers (an easy mid-week solution)

Thursday: Fried Rice  (we substituted bok choy for peas – I feel any veggies work for fried rice so use what you have)

Friday: Lettuce Wraps (used the leftover veggies in the fridge and saved money by not buying food on our road trip)

Saturday/Sunday: Away. Worked out perfectly as we had not food left in the fridge.

Snack Options:

Banana Bread

Power Balls

Veggies (carrots/celery) and Hummus

Frozen Pancakes

Here is how I prepped everything.  I looked at what I needed to cook and the method, as well as temperature.  For example I needed to put the broccoli meatballs in the oven before the banana bread because they cooked at a lower temperature and also took less time.

*Prepared and started the slow cooker chili

*Prepared and cooked the burritos

*While the burritos were cooking I prepped the broccoli meatballs

*When the broccoli meatballs went in the oven I prepped all the salad ingredients.

*Then moved onto the cashew sauce, which I did not heat up only prep.

*Made rice and quinoa batches for the week, back to back in the rice cooker so I didn’t have to worry about them.

*Finally made the banana bread, cleaned up and prepped the power balls.

*The fried rice was made fresh later in the week with the prepared rice and cut up vegetables.

*I cooked the noodles and alfredo sauce last as that needed to be warm for dinner.

It seems like a lot of cooking in one day but goes quite fast and then you are done for the week! No scrambling to make breakfast or lunch and when you come home there is so much time when you don’t have to cook.  Plus dishes are a breeze, a couple plates and a pan, 5 minutes!

I think batch cooking is an easy and affordable way to save time and money.

Quinoa Salad

Next in the three part Batch Cooking series, the benefits.

Buddha Bowl

Batch Cooking – Part 1

Batch Cooking

Since starting my new job and transitioning into working at an office, for the first time in five years, there are definitely some efficiency issues. When I was working from home I could get groceries when I had downtime or start dinner prep before the end of the work day. Now when I get home, there are groceries to get, dinner to cook and then all the clean up, eating healthy is practically a part time job. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how we can save time during the week so we more freedom at night to focus on other things. Then the idea of batch cooking came up.  I read a few articles online to get a good idea of what this whole Batch cooking was all about. Most of the recipes or meal plans I found were not healthy or came out of a can. That was not the direction I wanted to go. I still wanted healthy food but to spend less time prepping and cooking each night.

So where to start? I used my meal planner to figure out the week in advance. I looked up recipes and tried to fine ones that were healthy but easy to reheat. Once I had my recipes I broke it down by day and started on my grocery list.

FRUGAL LIVING MEAL PLANNER (if you don’t already have it!)

In Part 1 of Batch Cooking I wanted to discuss the time investment.  As this is my first time trying this I don’t really have experience on how well it will all go!  So far so good though.

TIME INVESTMENT:

Meal Planning and Grocery List – 30 minutes

*To make this part simple, sit down and do it all at once.  I had my phone and laptop out, along with the meal planner.  I emailed myself the recipes after I had written down the items I needed to purchase for the week.  As you choose the recipes, pick the best day to have that item.  For example I made Bean Burritos and thought it would be best to eat those first so they didn’t get soggy.  In 4 easy steps you have a plan for the week, 1. Recipe 2. Grocery Items 3. Email It 4. Meal Planner

Grocery Shopping – 45 minutes

*I don’t think I could cut this down anymore if you think of driving there, shopping and getting back home.  Go in with a plan!  I write everything down in order I like to go through the grocery store.  If not I find I can run all over the place and my grocery shopping time is doubled.   For example, I write fruits and vegetable first, then canned goods, organics and dairy last.

Prep and Cooking – 2.5 hours

*I couldn’t believe I prepped and cooked everything for the week in 2.5 hours!  It was crazy. I tried to clean as I went and used the same prep bowls over and over.  There was a big clean up at the end, but it would be comparable to a regular dinner and you only have to do it once!  I didn’t really have a plan in terms of cooking, but after reviewing my recipes I could see the best order and I think making a plan before you start will make the process easier.

1) I started with the crock pot.  This meant the crock pot meal would be almost ready when I was finished with the batch cooking.

2) Look at the items you are cooking, are there recipes that use a similar oven temperature or perhaps one that is hotter?  Cook the regular one first and then bump up the temperature for the next recipe.

3) How can you best use your time?  I started with the crock pot meal, then had one in the oven as I was cooking on the stove top.  By looking at the cooking flow and having a couple items cooking at once it cut down on the overall time.

Clean Up – 20 minutes

A couple pots, cutting boards and knives.  Minimal clean up.  During the week most items will be able to go in the dishwasher, a simple rinse and 5 minutes later I am out of the kitchen.

I am sure I will have more thoughts on this after the first week, and in Part 2 I will focus on the Meal Planning and recipes I used, letting you know what worked well and what didn’t.

TOTAL TIME: 4 hours

My goal is to cut down on the cooking/prep time and next week my sous chef will hopefully have less to drink and be in better prep shape! Lol.

I have been thinking of time as money.  It is so valuable.  For ourselves, our lives, our relationships and our balance.  Small changes like batch cooking can really help to create space during the week to focus on things you are passionate about whether it’s DIY’s, painting, dancing, hiking, yoga, anything!

FLUFFY PUMPKIN MUFFINS

Pumpkin Muffins

These pumpkin muffins are perfect for fall!  They are light and fluffy, and I bet you can’t have just one!  I know it’s pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere, but I love the spices in this recipe and flavor of pumpkin this time of year.

A great recipe to freeze or have during the week for snacks.

PUMPKIN MUFFINS

4 tbsp butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling, yes there’s a difference)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the butter, sugars and vegetable oil, until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
  • Add pumpkin puree, and mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix until incorporated.  Add half the water to the mixture and mix until just incorporated, then add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the other half of the water and then the rest of the flour mixture.  Mixing until just incorporated.  Scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  • You can line your muffin tins or spray the inside so the muffins don’t stick.  Fill each muffin 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine was finished in 22 minutes).  I actually filled my batter to the top and made large muffins.
  • Allow muffins to coll and then carefully remove.

Pumpkin Muffins

I found this recipe online via The Dough Will Rise Again.

Now have some friends over for a tea party and some delicious muffins!  A wonderful fall treat.

This recipe made a total of 12 large muffins which worked out to be 25 cents per muffin!

I buy all my baking goods in bulk which really cuts down on the cost and makes it very affordable to bake.  I know it’s sometimes hard to find time to bake, but you have to think it’s really only the prep time!  These muffins took about 10 minutes to prep, during the other 20 minutes while they were baking I was able to start some laundry, clean up my mess and send some emails!

Pumpkin Muffins

 

Blueberry and Basil: A refreshing summer cocktail recipe

Blueberry Basil Cocktail

I love summer cocktails and even mocktails!  Mixing fresh concoctions each week is my new favorite hobby.  This week I tried to use what I had!  The basil in my garden has finally taken off and I had delicious BC blueberries in the fridge, seemed like a match made in cocktail heaven!

Bluberry and Basil Cocktail

Blueberry Basil Cocktail Recipe

* Cut up basil and muddle with blueberries in the bottom of a glass.

* Add vodka or gin or leave as a mocktail.

*Add soda and ice.

*Garnish with whole blueberries and basil leaves.

*Enjoy!

Three Easy Breakfasts

Easy Breakfast

I like to be frugal on time.  Saving time makes the day feel longer and I get a lot more done.  One thing that has helped me be frugal on time in the morning is easy breakfasts!  There are so many delicious options and they will all help you have energy throughout the morning.

Here are three easy breakfasts that will take you less than 5 minutes to whip up in the morning.

Easy Breakfast Smoothie

1) The Breakfast Smoothie: Yes I know everyone is aware of smoothies, but it really is a delicious and easy option when you are on the go.  Plus easy to keep the fruit needed on hand throughout the week without worry they will spoil.

Frugal Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 Banana, 1 handful of blueberries, 2 tbsp hemp hearts, 1 cup original almond milk (no sugar added), half a cup of ice, blend and you are ready to go!

Easy Breakfast

2) The Overnight Oats: This is such a great option as you do all the work the evening before and there are many recipes for overnight oats!  The possibilities are endless

I used the Oh She Glows recipe, it only takes a few minutes the night before and then you can add whatever toppings you want.  It is delicious.  Also great as a snack option.

Easy Breakfast Leftovers

3) The Leftover Breakfast: Sometimes I have odds and ends in my fridge that I can’t make a whole meal with but are great for breakfast.

Above I used naan bread from a previous dinner, a half avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, spinach, an egg and there you have it, breakfast.  I cut everything while the egg was cooking and this lovely breakfast was ready in 5 minutes.

Rethinking breakfast and getting creative can save time, money and make you inspired to eat healthy in the morning!  I know I have seen the change.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Waffles A Brunch Must Have

Pumpkin Waffles

I know, I know ANOTHER pumpkin recipe!  Here is the thing this recipe not only makes a large enough batch to freeze and tastes absolutely delicious but it makes the whole house smell divine.  I love making waffles!  All you have to do is mix the batter and pour it every 3 or so minutes!  Super easy, and in between there is more than enough time to clean!

I am not a play by play gal, maybe I should get better at it since I love blogging, but I am going to leave it to an expert.  Check out SMITTEN KITCHEN’S blog post for more photos!

Pumpkin Waffles

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (I used the regular brown sugar I had, is that light??)

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sale

2 tsps ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tps ground cloves

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk, well shaken

1 cup canned solid packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

3/4 stick unsalted butter melted (6 Tbsp)

Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron (if needed)

Preheat oven to 250F and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and spices.  I don’t sift so I simply will use a beater to get some air in there!

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl wit buttermilk, pumpkin and butter until smooth.  Whisk into dry ingredients until just combined.

In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment or how I do it, old school with a hand beater, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.  Fold them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.

Brush waffle iron lightly with oil if needed, ours is not stick so I don’t use anything, and spoon batter into waffle iron.  I made smaller waffles so used a small scoop, spread out and quickly closed the lid!  Cook according to your waffle iron instructions.

Transfer waffles to a rack in the oven oven to keep warm and crisp.   Keep on making them!

These waffles freeze really well and are great for busy weekends when you don’t want to create a mess!  Simply take them out, place them in the oven at a low temperature until heated through.

TOTAL COST: $4.95 for 24 waffles which works out to 20 cents each!  Now that’s frugal.

Pumpkin Waffles