The Cake Balls go Cheesy

Ya know.  Just when you think you have something perfected.  Nooo, someone just kicks it up a notch. 

I have tried to make cakeballs a few times, and even if my attempts weren’t always gorgeous, my kids gobbled up whatever came of the attempt.  I finally thought I had it.  I was now a cakeball master right?  I mean every time you do something again, you get a little better.  I would not put cake balls on the top of my favorite things to make list.  Just because it’s a messy endeavor.   But yet, the temptaion comes again.
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Here it is the holidays, and as if I haven’t baked enough already, something in me drives me to just bake one more thing.  Well, I log on to WordPress today and there it is.  That recipe that is going to make me do it again.  I mean, I just finsihed ruining meringues, and putting together a roll of chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie dough.  The recipe is for cheesecake snowmen.  Who can resist this?  Really? 

I believe the Author of Lemon Tart Diary goes by Annie.  Her blog is darling.  And if you want to attempt her Cheesecake Snowmen.  She lays out all the steps beautifully.  Just in time for you to have one more go in the kitchen before Christmas.  I always love find recipes that could be big impact, little dough.

Thrifty Meals to Get You Through Christmas

In the hustle and bustle that comes with Christmas, life still manages to happen.  Here are a few of my favorite thrifty recipes to keep you on budget during the holidays.  Some of these cheap family meal ideas come from friends or relatives, but when I say they are cheap, I mean CHEAP.  I hate when you watch the Today Show or something, and they’re all like, you can feed your family for just thrifty bucks with this meal.  30 BUCKS?  Try three.  So as you make through the unwrapping and piles of bills.  I hope these cheap recipes will keep you full and sane.

Sausage Gravy & Biscuits by My Momma

This one will fill you up without emptying your wallet.

Ingredients:

  • Bob Evans Savory Sage sausage (1 tube)
  • tube of refrigerated biscuits
  • 2T butter
  • 1/4c flour
  • 1/2c milk

Directions:

Preheat oven according to directions on biscuit package.

Crumble up the sausage and brown it in a large skillet over medium heat.  I like to chop mine up really well with a spatula as it cooks.  Once brown, kind of push the sausage to one side of the skillet. Turn down the heat.  Do this all over low heat at this point. Drain the grease to the other side of the skillet and add the butter to the grease side.  Now stir the flour into the grease/butter side to make a thick mixture (not a solid mass though).   Add some of the milk to  that and gradually slide the meat over to the milk side adding more milk and flour alternately until desired gravy consistency is reached.  Bake your biscuits according to package directions.  Spilt biscuits in half and spoon some of the sausage gravy on top.

Hamburger Hash Ala my MIL Clara

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound or so of Hamburger
  •  1 or 2 large baking potatoes
  • garlic salt (Lawry’s is good)
  • Beef bullion, onion soup mix or whatever you have that is similar
  • small onion

Directions:Brown the ground beef and cook the onion in a skillet.  At this time, season the ground beef too.  Like I said, I use Lawry’s garlic salt, but whatever you’ve got that works well with hamburger.  Meanwhile, chop up the potato(s) really small like hashbrown size.  Once the beef is browned add the potatoes and rest of ingredients, plus enough water to cover the potatoes.  Cook over med until potatoes are soft.  Really good and filling, and uncomplicated.

That’s two, I’ll add more cheap recipes to this, but I wanted to share some thrifty meal ideas I’ve found while perusing online.

Check these thrifty meal links out.

A healthy choice:

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookbooks.asp?cookbook=58000

or

A Dollar Stretching Chicken Recipe  When you’re on this site, scroll down to Leanne Ely’s Rubber Chicken.

http://www.flylady.com/pages/kitchen2.asp

More coming soon, but this will keep you fed for now.

Vintage Recipes

If I were to sell something on Etsy, and call it “vintage,” it would need to be 20 years old or better.  If that’s the case, I’ve made it to vintage.  For some reason, my mind usually drifts to the 1940’s when I think of vintage.  My holiday baking this year has had a bit of a theme running through it, and that theme is definitely vintage.  I love looking through depression era cookbooks, and even up into the 1970’s.  Primarily those books are very basic, and you can really glean a lot of wisdom from the ladies (and gentlemen) whose recipes grace the pages of these types of books..

I tried my hand at candy making.  My son and I took a crack at candy canes, and well, that is not easy!  We managed to have candy coated hands and that was about it.  I had to laugh as I watch Guy Fieri of the Food Network make candy canes at Disney World, and yes, they wore gloves!  click on the pic for some coverage of that action.

Guy Fieri's Cooling Canes at disney care of DIS Unplugged

My mom was kind enough to “foist off” some of her cookbook collection to me last week.  One of the titles in that collection was Depression Era Recipes by Patricia R. Wagner.  I just love the recipe titles.  things like Mrs. Knowles’ Radio Cake, Aunt Minnie’s Oatmeal Cookies (which are delicious, if I do say so myself) and Mayonnaise Moisturizer.  So often we find ourselves online looking for advice or tips on how to live within our means and make the most of our budgets, when sometimes the best tips can be found in Gramma’s kitchen.  Hasn’t she been telling you all along?

One of the quotes you’ll find in Depression Era Recipes is from Oliver Wendell Holmes.  I thought you might enjoy.

No soil upon earth is so dear to our eyes

As the soil we first stirred in terrestrial pies.

She may dress in silk, she may dress in satin,

She may know the language, Greek and Latin,

May know fine art, may love and sigh,

But she is no good if she can’t make pie.”

-O.W. Holmes

Depression Era Recipes by P. Wagner

Cheap Lunchbox Trick: I’m Proud of This One.

When I was little, I had a strange habit.  Every time I would get a piece of bread, I would try to squish it into the smallest, most perfect cube possible.  Fast forward to 2009, my bread squishing habit is long gone.  This brings to me to my son, no he’s not a bread squisher.  This is about his lunch.  I’ve discovered a great way to save lunch money.

My son likes to pack Brownie Bites.  Brownie Bites are found in the snack aisle, and for a box of maybe 6 packs, 6 brownie bites per pack, you too can purchase Brownie Bites for about 4 bucks.  Needless to say, he doesn’t get to pack these very often.

Last week the grocery store had brownie mix on sale for $0.88!  I baked these bad boys according to the directions, and found myself backsliding into my bread squishing habit.  Only this time it was brownies.  I sliced up the brownies into squares and began squishing the squares into perfect little cubes.  I popped about 5 into a Baggie and threw them in the freezer.  My kids found them in their lunch the next day.  The review: fantastic.  No crumbs, perfect portions, and absolutely yumminess.   So for a little over $0.88, I made my own brownie bites.  And I came away with a lot more than what comes in the $4 a box originals.

lunchbox saver

I knew that bad habit would pay off.

Fruit Bouquets

fruit bouquet
Cute Fruit. Care of Allrecipes

  Here’s the link! http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Make-a-Fruit-Bouquet/Detail.aspx

I just found this at the ever famous AllRecipes.com.  I guess I didn’t even realize you could make your own fruit bouquet.  Duh!  What appeals to me most about the idea is, I think it would encourage more kids and grownups to make at least one healthy choice. 

One of the rules I try desperately to enforce is if you’re feeling hungry, make sure you have some water and a healthy snack.  If your family is anything like mine, you know that easy is good.  If it involves getting out a dish, cutting something, and heating…oh my.  This is too much effort.  Heaven forbid we lived in the Colonial Days!  We’d be some skinny suckers.  So anything that is healthy and easy to grab and eat…I’m all about it.

My mom and I were kidding each other that this fruit bouquet would cost about a hundred bucks to make.  But why not sub out some of the fruit.  You could skewer on some angel food cake bites on the top.  Or, you could just cut the sticks shorter. 

Anyway, I just thought I’d share this fruit bouquet.  Cute for entertaining.  Healthy and quick for the kiddos…and mom.

Gooseberry Patch: Where I Met My Heroes

I’ve been jumping out of my skin to share this with everyone, and now is the time.  I met Jo Ann Martin & Vickie Hutchins, co-founders of Gooseberry Patch at the Country Living Fair this Summer in Columbus, OH!  (Did you hear me screaming?) Of course my camera weirded out, so my picture with them turned out purple, but thank Gooseberry, I got the autographs.  

See my autographed copy of Coming Home with Gooseberry Patch! BTW: Crustless Pumpkin Pie on Page 32 is the Bomb!  I have already made it three times since getting the cookbook this summer.

Goosberry

Proof that I was in the presence of my Heros!

blog 002

The only picture that turned out well in the bunch. The line to get in!

  If you’ve read my blog, or know me at all, you have to know that I LOVE Gooseberry Patch.  I could get all weird and make a list of 100 reasons why, but I’ll keep it simple and try to keep myself from looking like too much of a fanatic. 

While Gooseberry Patch offers a mail order catalog that is too cute for words, I’m in LOVE with their cookbooks.  Why?  Because every recipe I have EVER made from their books (I have a few) has turned out great.  Each one is simple to make, and doesn’t take you to some crazy part of town searching for strange ingredients that you have to spend time learning to pronounce. 

 Last year, I received Cook’n with Gooseberry Patch.  What is this?  Cook’n is software that you load via CD onto your computer.  What does this software do?  Oh my, let me tell you.  There are a few pre-loaded Gooseberry Cookbooks from which you can hand click your recipes for the week.   Then print on your little ol’ menu for your family and boom,  you know what’s happening each day for meals.  BUT THAT’S NOT ALL…before you  print out the grocery list, you can take off the items you already have in your pantry.  Let me tell you, this has saved me loads of cash on my grocery trips, and even more mental energy in avoiding the whole “what’s for dinner?” conundrum.  Here’s the glorious part.  You can even enter your own recipes.  So say you wanted to cook your mom’s famous chilli one night.  No problem, enter it in one time (takes maybe 3 minutes tops) and click it over to Monday.  Dude, all the ingredients will be on your grocery list and you just go to the store, and its fabulous.  No more guesswork or freaking out.  Love that! DVO is the company that makes this software (another fabulous company) and they offer other recipe dowloads so you never run out of goodness in the kitchen.

Gooseberry Patch also offers calendars and the cutest gifts and kitchen/service ware you could ever want to see.  Be sure to check out the Gooseberry Patch website. when fulfilling that Christmas list because you can definitely pick up some unique items that will please both the recipient and your budget.  Gooseberry Patch carries items like the Hostess Twinkie Baking set.

gooseberry

Make your own twinkies! Yeehaw.

And remember my cake ball post?  Yeah, they have a pan for that. 

It’s always awesome to find a company you can feel good about supporting, and Gooseberry Patch is definitely one of those companies.  Women who are making it happen, and having a good time doing it.  Thanks Jo Ann and Vickie!

Halloween Party: The weekend agenda.

Ok, I have almost all of the ingredients I need for the Halloween Party Menu.  Today, I am going to make these cookies. 

Vampire Bites.  What a cute & simple way to celebrate the night!

Vampire Bites. What a cute & simple way to celebrate the night!

I found this cookie recipe on the Baking Bites blog.  Awesome resource for very dessert recipes, go check it out. 

I usually like to make sure I like the stuff I plan to serve at this shindig.  And yesterday I made a recipe that I found while looking up some cheap ideas for decorations.  This one is called Sliced Snakes & Veggies Over Maggots. 

Sliced Snake and Veggies over Maggots

Sliced Snake and Veggies over Maggots

It is INCREDIBLE.  I could eat this every day.  I was so pleased because the recipe is cheap and simple, and healthy.  What more can a girl ask for?   This Halloween party recipe is care of  The Ghostess.  While on the subject of the Ghostess, I have to say, her site is sooooo cool.  From what I can tell, she is a veteran at Halloween Parties.  AND she shares tips and tricks throughout her site.  Pictures galore can be found of everything from invites to decorations.  I really enjoyed perusing through her haunt and I hope you do too.  If not, you’re really missing out on a great resource. 

So this weekend will be full of baking, and after I have crossed off my baking list, I’ll make a plan for the rest of these ghoulish dishes. 

Oh, I am making those paper mache pumpkins, and so far, so good.  It’s actually kind of fun.  My kids want to help, so that’s a good sign. 

If you don’t have a lot of decorations yet.  Here are a couple of cheap items that can make big impact. 

  1. Streamers
  2. Table cloths (Dollar Tree, and they have a lot more stuff too)
  3. Candy corn in glass containers (Dollar Tree has some cool glass containers)
  4. Those pumpkin buckets you use for Trick or Treating (Walmart has neon versions for 94 cents).
  5. You can always use Martha Stewart Templates to make something cool.
  6. Old tools from the shed.
  7. Spider web from dollar tree/walmart
  8. Old sheets
  9. White candles  (I like dripping the wax from a red crayon or candle over these to make them look bloody).
  10. Make a scarecrow out of some old jeans and shirt stuffed with all those plastic bags you have hanging around.

Check back, this thing ain’t over by a long shot!