Saturday, March 26, 2016

Oatmeal Raisin & Pecan Scones (Not Low-Carb!)

It's another coffee get-together today and this is the treat that I brought. Yes, not low-carb. (Doesn't mean that I fell off the wagon completely, though - ha ha!) These were actually a second batch as "J" was supposed to pull them from the oven for me and forgot, so the first run got a bit too dark. While I used my microplaner to sand off the darkened bottoms, I didn't want to serve others a not-so-perfect end product. But that fail led me to make a couple of changes, too, which led to this far superior scone. So yummy. Drop them with whatever size scoop that you'd like. I prefer my cookie scooper to make mini ones, which also meant less baking time. My oven heats a bit towards the hotter side, so you may need to make an adjustment there also. I ran out of half & half, so I actually used a combo of h&h, heavy whipping cream and coconut milk. The recipe is flexible. You can use other oatmeal flavors, I would imagine. You can use whatever spice combination you have, rather than the Cake Spice. Change nuts, omit nuts... you get the picture.

Oatmeal Raisin & Pecan Scones
(made 25 mini scones)
1 & 1/2c flour
2 pkts. maple instant oatmeal
1/4c brown sugar
2t baking powder
pinch pink sea salt
2t Penzey's Cake Spice
handful broken pecans
handful raisins
1 stick cold butter cut into cubes
1/2c half & half

About 1/4-1/2c powdered sugar, splash of maple flavoring, few splashes of heavy whipping cream, about 1t Penzey's Cake Spice. Stir it all together, thin as needed with heavy whipping cream.

Heat oven to 325F. Mix flour through Cake Spice together in bowl. Add butter and, using fingers or pastry blender, cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly. Stir in nuts and raisins. Add half & half and just stir until moistened. Drop onto prepared pans ( I use silpats). Bake for 10-15mns, or until edges are turning golden. Once cool, drizzle or spread icing atop.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Frugal Doings & Eats

What I've Been Eating Lately:
Full fat Greek style yogurt w/stevia sweetened cherries and homemade granola, Caprese plate, chicken thighs w/roasted cabbage, roast beef w/carrots/potato and salad, birthday cake (didn't eat the WHOLE thing).

Frugal Doings Lately:
**Brought home a bunch of emptied dinner roll bags from work. They're a thicker plastic than the storage bags that I use for my freezer, so I've been double-bagging some items into them.
**Made a batch of (not low-carb) Cranberry & Orange Scones that I had all the ingredients already for. It was my contribution towards a coffee gathering on a Sunday afternoon. Did a second coffee gathering where I'd made brownies, offered crackers/cheese/salami/nuts using all items we already had.
**Downloaded a couple of free apps from the apps store pre-loaded on my tablet. One for tv programs and one for movies. They've allowed me to see several things that I'd have to wait quite some time to see either in Redbox or on the waiting list at the library. Sadly it is a bit buggy and doesn't always work.
**Ordered  from Amazon 3lbs of golden flax meal for roughly the same price as one pound at our local grocer. (Later found it not to be frugal as it is at Sam's Club for under half of the Amazon price!)
**Made lower carb peanut butter bars a couple of times now. These have taken care of my candy bar and sweets cravings and I've typically got all the ingredients in my pantry as I use them in other ways.
**"A" didn't want some coffee grounds that she'd bought over a month ago as they were already opened and she didn't feel it was fresh anymore. It makes a perfectly acceptable cup of joe for myself and "J".
**Spent a couple hours with friends making a Chocolate Ganache Tart. Teaching them this recipe helped build support as they are beginning a reduced sugar way of eating. Hanging out with friends = Free entertainment.
**Started adding in exercise time riding my stationary bike now and then and Leslie Sansone walking dvd's more often.
**While not really frugal, I signed up for a bellydancing class with a friend. For $46 we meet an hour each week for the next two and a half months for class. Affordable workout and socializing, though.
**Saved enough Jumbo egg cartons to start some seeds indoors. Also purchased a bag of potting soil.
**Bought some seeds from an Etsy seller that cost far less than ordering from any of the seed catalogs, especially the shipping. Additionally, they are organic seeds and a couple are for heirlooms.
**Used one packet of the seeds as a gift enclosed with a birthday card for my father.
**Used past Valentine and Anniversary cards from "J" to compile a birthday card for him. It was funny to see his face as he recognized the cards.
**I started using the library again and checked out a new book by a favorite author and am making a list of a few other new books coming out by favorites to request, too.
**Printed a day pass for Sam's Club and bought a few items that I use regularly from there. While I paid an extra 10% for not being a member, I still saved over our local grocer. I go there with a friend who has a membership, too, but she was unable to go at the time.
**Printed a coupon for a free sundae for "J" at Culver's for his birthday treat.
**Bought a new battery for our Escape in hopes that it would get it up and running (it died overnight during a cold snap). It didn't. Bought a fuel pump for our Escape. "J" and son, "D", will attempt to do this replacement under the supervision of a mechanic friend. We will likely still give some $$ to this friend, but it'll be less than at the garage. Vehicle maintenance has been killing our paychecks... grr. We will recoup some of the cost when "D" starts working again and sell him the Escape for dirt cheap.
**Made "A" and my dad's birthday cakes from scratch. "A" had a purple cake and Dad's was a pineapple cake with brown butter frosting. Neither of these were low-carb. But both were good.
**Accepted a pair of jeans that got too big for a friend who has cut way back on sugar and recently lost 16 pounds! Yay, for her... and me! She is now a size smaller than me so that will motivate me to try harder, too. Must. Not. Eat. Fries.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reduced Carb Peanut Butter Bars

The first time I made these bars I used a recipe found at the Southern Plate website. They were phenomenal, so addictive. I've thought of them often since cutting back on sugars but couldn't think of what would work best to bulk up the peanut butter base in place of all that powdered sugar that was in the original recipe. Sure it was no hard task to find a low-carb recipe, just do a quick search yourself and you will find an unlimited number of "Reese's" type of recipes. My trouble was in choosing just one that sounded like it would be "the best". At some point I just had to pick one (well, okay, two) to try and so I combined Low Carb Yum's and one from Linda's Low Carb site. I adapted the recipes to my preferences and to what I had in my pantry and the following recipe is the result.

Reduced Carb Peanut Butter Bars
(adapted from Low Carb Yum and Southern Plate and Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes)
1/2c butter, melted
2/3c unsweetened, unflavored whey protein powder
2T ground golden flax
1/4c Stevia In The Raw powder
1/4c powdered xylitol
1/4t pink sea salt
2tsp vanilla extract
1c chunky peanut butter
6oz dark chocolate pieces
1T coconut oil

Melt butter in pan, remove from heat and add vanilla. Let butter cool as you combine protein powder, flax, sweetener and salt in a bowl and mix together. Add peanut butter to melted butter and combine. Then stir in dry ingredients. Spread into a wax paper lined pan (I used an 8x11) and put in refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile, put chocolate pieces into a microwave safe dish (I use my glass Pyrex measuring cup) along with the coconut oil and microwave only until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour over the chilled peanut butter layer and place back into the refrigerator to set up completely. Keep in fridge or freezer.
Couple of notes: The butter is salted as I rarely buy unsalted. The protein powder is Jarrow Formula brand. I'd far prefer Jay Robb's but it wasn't in my budget. Whatever protein powder you do use, keep in mind that you will likely be able to taste it a little in the end product. My peanut butter was a combination of a natural one and a generic, typical shelf-stable one. For chocolate I used part of an 85% dark chocolate bar and some Hershey's dark chocolate chips. So, as you can see, it's a fairly flexible recipe. Also, these cannot be stored out at room temp as they are still too soft even with the addition of the flax. I would describe it as a soft fudge when refrigerated and perfection when frozen. I cut mine into about 50-60 cubes and eat 2-4 at any one time - four seem to make a snack bar size.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Simple Holiday Craft Idea

Here's a couple of holiday ideas that I wanted to make sure I posted prior to Christmas, for any last minute elves...

I made 4 of cellophane wrapped gift baskets for my coworkers. The first pic is of an Epicurean brand cutting board (cost $0 as was given to me), a Linden Sweden cheese spreader (about $2 each), and a cheeseball (bought for $6 each from a church fundraiser) all tucked into a $1 basket and wrapped with a 50cent cellophane bag and tied with ribbon I already had. Each basket cost me $9.50 to make.

I pried off the plastic ring of a jar candle lid prior to recycling the glass. I thought there surely had to be something I could make with it. I found a similar idea online to what I made. Just wrap a bit of tinsel garland around it, tying or gluing to secure, then hot glue on a darling little bow.

After making that one I remembered I still had two other gifts to make for friends. I hit the dollar store for ribbon in their favorite colors and while there came across 2pks of votive glasses which fit perfectly! They can either use them on their Christmas table or hang them from their trees (minus the votive cups, of course).

Making bows has been a bit of a challenge for me in the past. So I found a tutorial online for making small bows on a fork. However, that was a bit smaller than what I was after so I put on my thinking cap for a moment and realized my wide tooth comb would allow me to customize the size well.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Leek, Bacon & Gouda Quiche

Dad planted a few leeks this year and they did well. So I did a quick search for a leek & bacon quiche and found this fantastic recipe at Williams-Sonoma. I altered it very slightly by including more eggs, more leeks, and less h&h. It was heaven. Pure heaven. Their recipe uses gruyere cheese, which I also did the first time. Their crust recipe has a link in the quiche recipe - the crust is fantastic, too.

I loved it so much that I wanted to make it again. This time I exerted a little self-control and skipped the crust and tried a new (to me) cheese. My only experience with gouda cheese has been to hear a cartoon character joke about it by saying something to the effect of, "fear the gouda". (Any other Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy fans out there? Ha ha!)

Anyway. This turned out as fantastic as I'd hoped and will be worth making again and again!

Crustless Leek, Bacon & Gouda Quiche
(altered above Williams-Sonoma recipe)
3 small to medium leeks, cleaned and trimmed to just white and light green parts
1/2lb bacon, chopped 
8oz Gouda cheese, grated
4 jumbo eggs
3/4c h&h
1/4c whole milk
1/2t nutmeg
several grinds black pepper

Grease a 9" or 10" pie plate well. Set aside. Chop and fry bacon pieces, drain on paper towel, keeping grease in pan. Add chopped leeks to pan and saute until just turning tender. When done, scoop from pan with a slotted spoon and spread into your greased pie plate. Then spread bacon over that, then grated cheese. Beat eggs, h&h, milk, nutmeg and pepper together. Pour eggs evenly over top. Put in oven that has been heated to 350F and let cook for about 30mns or until set.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Frugal Doings & Eats

What I've eaten lately:
Leek & Cabbage Stir-Fry, garlic scapes used for pesto, smashed avocado on Ezekiel w/egg & frozen garden raspberries, spaghetti squash w/meat sauce. Sadly, I have ruined much of my efforts with sweet treats, too. But I keep trying.

Frugal doings lately:
> Used a coupon and clearance pricing at Kohl's to buy a lightweight top for myself and a 4pk of boxers for D for $2.40 total.
>Finally convinced to switch out my brown leather looking wallet that has a broken zipper with a glitzy alligator print one that my sister gave me a few Christmases ago. (old wallet shoved into the closet... just in case) Thank you to Katy from The Non-Consumer Advocate for the final shove to transition!
>Bought two dozen eggs from a friend/coworker. She sells them for $2.50/dozen. They are free-range and HUGE. This price is a little more than the grocery store's but the eggs at the store are far smaller. I rounded up and gave her $3/dozen as I think she's shortchanging herself. However, normally I try to get into Kwik Trip and buy them at about $1.29/doz. I just hadn't made it to the nearby city to get them yet.
>Did surveys at Driscoll's berries site and have received $1 off coupons for future berry purchases. I've been able to get 6oz pkgs of raspberries for $1 each while they've been on sale for $2 at our local store. I'm going to try to get in there again and buy a few more and may make a little sugar-free or low-sugar jam for this winter. If only I could resist eating them fresh...
>I've done a second laundry detergent rebate recently. I've received a check from a previous one and expect the other soon. So I'll have got a bottle of Purex Powershot and a bottle of OxiClean for free.
>Still bringing home used coffee/espresso grounds from one of my employers. I don't work too often, so it's not a whole lot. But I also picked up a bag of grounds at Starbucks the other day, too. We don't have a huge need for the grounds, so I think it's just the right amount.
>I've been walking pretty regularly, either in town on the paved trail or in my living room with my Leslie Sansone dvd. While it's hard to get started each time, it always feels great.
>With both kids gone for most of the time I have had to scale down meals. I'm not great at it yet. But the leftovers that do happen have been put in the freezer and I've managed to include them here and there. I've got frozen chicken soup thawing for tonight and frozen shredded Cuban spiced pork thawing for carnitas in the next few days.
>Was able to include $$ easily in my niece's and nephew's birthday cards by using tip money from my stash. I also saved on their cards by using a "thank you" and a "get well" card, I just crossed out parts of the messages and rewrote them. They expect things like this from me. I can't stand the thought of buying a $5 card that will only be tossed in the trash within a couple days of being received. The cards I already have were free to me from my grandmother's stash of cards that I'd inherited.
>Chopped and froze several bags of rhubarb. Frugal for others, as I'd shared several times, too.
>We saved a bit by buying brake shoes for our Escape and J looked up how to replace them on youtube. The Escape needs a lot more work, stuff we can't do. But each bit helps.
>J received two Jeep tires from another contract carrier who drives the same vehicle. They're not the size we have now. But they are the correct size for our Jeep and we will only have to buy two when they need replacing.
>Have not bought more dirt or seeds for my raised garden boxes. I've just made do with what I have. I've got lettuce, sweet pea flowers and a couple squash planted. My garlic is doing well. I'd started it from seed and this year I should get to harvest it.
> Bought more strawberries ($1/lb) and raspberries ($1/6oz) with coupons from Driscoll's and made four half-pints of no added sugar jam.
> Got in for a physical exam right before re-enrolling in an insurance plan just in case we no longer can receive the current low-cost one we've got.
>Submitted a rebate form for a 4pk of yogurt.
>Picked raspberries from Dad's plants behind the garage - enough to cover two cookie sheets about two berries deep each. These will be so wonderful in the winter.
>Rather than letting the garlic scapes bloom and go to waste, I snipped them and made a garlic/walnut/parm/olive oil pesto. Used it with pasta once. But I only had a bite as I don't eat pasta much, though J ate most of it so there wasn't much waste.
>Brought home three Egyptian Walking Onions (I think that's what they're called) from one of my bosses. One has a seed head on it that we may plant.
>Worked a few hours at the school for an event that paid what the head of the kitchen is paid. Should give me an unplanned/extra $70 that I can add to the "Cash Stash", aka, rainy day fund.
>Got more canning jars cleaned and ready to use to can beets. Normally I pickle them. But last year I found that canned plain beets turn out perfectly fine.
>Our mechanic showed us a way to bypass some sensor in our Jeep that was making it not start. That saved us a couple hundred. He also patched a tire for $25. But it was well worth that to pay for the time he'd taken on the sensor issue.
> Ordered a winter coat for D, as well as a fall jacket for A for under $2 shipped using a code from a used clothing website. I've received them and they are in great shape.

What I've Seen Lately:
We have a pair of mourning doves that have been around since summer began, as well as this cedar waxwing fledgling. This sunset was from a few weeks ago. It hardly captures the unreal, blazing pink, eerie glow that it was. My camera wasn't able to pick up the sun, it just "washed" it out, so I aimed for the glow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are you staying frugal?

What I've been eating lately:
Cashew crusted chicken w/veggies, chicken fajita salad, bbq ranch salad, maple walnut crusted salmon, pistachio crusted chicken salad, cauliflower crust for pizza.

Frugal doings lately:
> I've been rinsing and crushing all of our egg shells to use in my garden boxes in hope of deterring slugs.
> Brought home used espresso grounds from my second job to use in the blueberry bushes patch.
> Used a code several times to watch a few Redbox movies for free.
> Used up some bread that was nearing its end by making French Toast for J and D.
> Ordered a pair of prescription sunglasses for myself, as well as for J, from Zennioptical and spent only about $25 total.
> Was tempted several times to buy iced coffees but waited until I got home and made my own.
> Bought a two piece ice cube tray set that makes tiny cubes for $2.50 (was delighted to read they were made here in the USA). While this is $ spent, it beats buying bags of ice every couple of weeks.
> Bought 4 boxes of cat litter for half their normal price using manufacturer and store coupons.
> Was gifted a springtime scarf from one of my employers as a thank you for being present when the health inspector came through. She also gifted me a bottle of daiquiri mix and two mini bottles of rum.
> Bought a couple bags of dark chocolate M&M's for 50% off after Easter.
> Discovered how to use a grocery store rewards card at the gas station and saved an extra 15cents per gallon on top of the 5cents per gallon saved from a discount card.
> Arranged for my two personal days off from work. They are "use them or lose them". I will aim to go for a frugal lunch out with J the first day as he has an afternoon appointment in the nearby city. The second one I will aim to use to get my gardening rolling along.
> I swept and hand mopped the kitchen floor. Not really frugal, I guess. But it felt great to get it done! (Used a drop of $1 dish soap in the bucket of water - does that count as a frugal doing?)
> J and I bought my mother flowers for her birthday. Rather than spending an arm and leg at our local greenhouse, we were in the nearby city and stopped at a large grocery store and bought two bunches for $10 and used a vase that I already have at home.
> Doing walking videos several times per week for the past few months. It feels great to be able to do these free workouts.
> Picked up a 30 load bottle of OxiClean detergent with a "try me free" rebate sticker on it.
> Bought two 18oz boxes of Target brand Cheerios-type cereal for $1.12 ea. after coupon and cartwheel. Was sad to find the second of this coupon only after I'd returned home - half hour away from store.
> Was gifted about 2-3lbs of espresso beans from J's mom. She didn't like them. Me neither. But J does.
> Added a "Friday Freebie" coupon for a bottle of kefir to my store grocery card which I'll hopefully get to redeem in a couple of days. That particular grocer is in the nearby city. I did this for a free single serving bottle of milk about two weeks ago.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy Peasy Lower-Carb Almond Butter Cookies

I don't recall what brand of peanut butter this recipe originated from. I only recall it was a 3 ingredient recipe that included one cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar and one egg and that my sister made them some time long ago when we were children to home. While looking over some of these simple pb cookie recipes, it occurred to me that it could be redone easily as a lower-carb treat. I noticed some recipes included baking soda, too, which I hoped would give it a bit more "rise". So this is a bit of a cross of several that I looked at. You certainly could make these even lower carb by omitting the chocolate or using your favorite sugar free chocolate for the chips. However, about 5-6 dark chocolate chips per cookie seemed perfect for me! Yum!

Almond Butter Cookies
(made 14 with a small 1-1 1/2" scoop)
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c xylitol
1 c almond butter
handful dark chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Refrigerate while oven heats to 350. Then scoop onto lined pan (I use silpats) and press about 5-6 chocolate chips onto each and gently press to flatten cookie slightly. Bake 8-10mns.