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.

Cool Confetti: Who knew?

Confetti and parties, such a lovely combination.  As I was researching a bit for this confetti blog entry, I found so much more information than I ever could have imagined.  So, I am going to run through a few ideas for using confetti for weddings primarily, but use your noodle, and I am sure you can get so creative with what I am about to share.
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This particular entry is inspired by a bride on a budget,  Because she was having trouble making he tables look fab without having a lot of cash, she decided to use circles cut from paper in three different colors.  Brilliant.  Big color impact for  little coin, you gotta love that. 

Next, I found a site that sells confetti of every size and shape, and oh, yes confetti cannons. 

BUT WAIT!  What would a confetti blog entry be without a confetti launcher youtube tutorial.  Holy cow, this dude shows the mechanically inclined how to construct their very own confetti cannon.  How cool is that!  I am not suggesting you try this.  I just thought, hmmm, super cool.  If I share this with hubby, I wonder if he would make one for me.  Hey all you bar owners, maybe for your New Year’s Bash?  Hmm.

So that’s my confetti wisdom for the day.  Party on.

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

Return to Simplicity

My mom and I did something so brave yesterday.  I must admit, I was full of anticipation and revelled at the possibilities.  It was a journey that would quite possibly reignite some excitement in me.  We went to the mall. 

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My age (37 as of Monday), might well reveal my reaction to our trip.  Instead of coming away with the delight that was once evoked in my earlier mall shopping experiences, I nearly darted out of the place in shock.  No, there was no madman.  But instead of seeing all of the glitz and fashion and glamour, I saw desperation. 

Recently, I have had a disdain for all things “cool,”  except for maybe the Snoopy version of Joe Cool.  I’m not sure if it’s the aversion to being sold on “what’s best for me now.”  Or, if it’s a celebration of who we’re created tobe as individuals.  Whatever it is, cool was dripping from the walls of the mall, and it was scary.

At what price have we paid to be cool?  Credit card debt, mortgage meltdown, slave labor in third world nations, cancer from the toxins that prove to make us beautiful?  That’s not cool.  That’s sick.

On a happier note… (I’m thinking Rocky Mountain High by John Denver.)

This Christmas season my purchases will be more deliberate than ever.  I will gladly exchange my dollar to the mom who creates from her heart in order to support her family, rather than the people who employ children for the sake of “cool.”  I’ll test my own kitchen in the rigors of forgotten recipes of a simpler time.  Yeah that platter of cookies slopped together in the big grocery chain seems so easy and convenient.  But maybe it’s not what it seems.  I think I’ll get far more satisfaction knowing I’ve grown a little.  That I’ve employed some skill, time, energy and love of my own in blessing the ones I profess to love.[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=vintage&iid=12808″ src=”0012/7748bf78-53d6-4888-bcc0-736f9a60eccb.jpg?adImageId=8005689&imageId=12808″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

It’s not everyone’s conviction, nor do I hope to make it that.  I just ask that we think.

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.

Paper Chains: Beauty & Simplicity Linked

I am in the middle of toying with inexpensive wedding decoration ideas that are both beautiful and simple.  As always, the goal is to create a stunning effect and keep within the budget of the bride.  This past weekend, I came up with an easy winner. 

While looking at some gorgeous papers that I couldn’t bear to watch go to waste, I was reminded of my childhood.  My mother and I  would get out the construction paper, tape and scissors, sprawl it across the dining room table and create.  Sometimes it would be hearts, or christmas trees, or butterflies.  Other times we’d spend hours making snowflakes and paper chains.

So that’s what I did.  Scooping up the scrolly patterned paper and my scissors and tape, I made a home at my dining room table, and commenced to create a paper chain.   Only this time, I played with the width of my links, and the ends of the chains.  I think this would be a gorgeous way to grace the ends of pews, or to adorn the tops of tents.  The most beautiful part of all is the ability to completely customize it to your wedding, event, or even your Christmas Tree.

Here are the results.

Paper Chain Closeup

The Paper Chain Goes Posh.

 I only had a few matching ribbon pieces to tie to the ends of the paper chains.  But imagine how graceful this could look with ribbon tails, and a centerpiece swag.  Gorgeous.

Granted, the photo below was taken in my living room, it was the only place I could find to display this for picture taking purposes. 

These pictures don’t come close to doing these justice.

 

 

 

 

paper chain possibilities

Imagine the Possibilities. A gorgeous bouquet in the middle with ribbons streaming down the ends.