Treats for the 4th of July: Chocolate Peanut Butter Mocha Powerballs

choco bites

Have you ever just needed to make something yummy? Perhaps it was all of the talk of the holiday on Facebook, or maybe it was simply a craving for chocolate. No matter the reason, I had to make a sweet treat today for my honey and me.

While the sky’s the limit when it comes to treats and possibilities, there were some conditions. With such a hot day outside, it had to be a no-bake recipe so that I didn’t heat up the house too much. Second, it had to use ingredients we already had around the house. And finally, it would have to be quick as I am working today. With the internet at my fingertips, I knew I would find something, though.

After much searching and finding other awesome recipes, I finally found Chocolate Peanut Butter Mocha Powerballs. This recipe had everything I wanted and needed–caffeine, chocolate, oats, and a little sweetness. These would power us both up and give us energy to get through our day.

My choices for the recipe were as follows:

  1. Maple syrup for the sweetener
  2. Whole oats
  3. Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee

Generally, with the choices above, this was a fairly frugal recipe as we already had everything on hand. Plus, purchasing oats and cocoa in bulk helps quite a bit in the long run. The two main ingredients that were expensive would be the maple syrup and the Starbucks. As honey can be purchased in bulk and stored easily, this might have been a better choice to make this recipe a bit more frugal. However, I was feeling lazy and so grabbed the syrup.

With the help of my trusty little food processor, I was able to mix these up rather easily. To make them a bit fancier, I gave them a good coating of cocoa before putting them in the fridge.

These treats pack quite the punch! They are not very sweet but rather have a dark chocolate sort of taste. The flavors mix well and make a perfect treat for afternoon coffee. They are filling, and so I would recommend making these a bit smaller. Still, they are a cool, chocolate-y treat for a hot July day.

Getting Fancy with Chocolate

gettingfancywithchocolateMy poor honey has had quite a week so far; I therefore wanted to treat him a bit with something sweet. As you may remember, I mixed up some coconut oil chocolates awhile back. Not to repeat myself, I wanted to fancify those chocolates, making them extra special. I wound up with three varieties to delight the taste buds of both my husband and myself.

First, you might notice that the candies are in different shapes. I indulged in silicon molds for our chocolates so that they would come out a bit nicer. Another benefit is that by using various molds, you can provide your family with an easy clue as to the type of candy they are eating. I used two molds for this batch today—one pumpkin and one flower.

As my husband loves candied ginger and coconut, I decided to sprinkle those two ingredients in the bottom of each mold and then pour the chocolate over the top. Although the finished candy wasn’t without some bubbles and lumps from the ginger and coconut, they taste great. Both ingredients seem to complement this type of chocolate, adding a new dimension to the flavor of the candies.

coffeechocolatesMaking the above chocolates, I began to wonder about coffee. Could I add coffee to the candy? I couldn’t not try it, and so I prepared to make a new batch. As an experiment, I added instant coffee to the coconut oil and honey as they were melting. I’ll admit that the mixture looked awful at first but began to smooth out through careful whisking. And the result? Oh, my! They are wonderful! The candy tastes like a dark chocolate that is infused with coffee, and they melt in your mouth. Too, they pack quite a punch with the caffeine in them.

All in all, this attempt to fancify the candy worked wonderfully. This recipe—on top of being simple enough for even me to make—is obviously very adaptable and so can be altered to fit your family’s tastes. For those of us who can’t afford to visit an expensive chocolatier, this is a frugal way to make candies for your own family.

facebookpage

Easy Whole Wheat Cinnamon Cookies

easywholewheatcinnamoncookiesLately I’ve been feeling mighty poorly, and when I feel poorly, I want some comfort. For our afternoon coffee today, I decided to attempt to make something I remember from childhood, cinnamon cookies. My grandmother made these tasty treats from leftover pie crust, and they were perhaps my favorite cookie, even if they were possibly the simplest thing in the world. Pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar…what could be better than that?

As we use freshly ground wheat in our home, I searched for a quick recipe for whole wheat pastry crust. I used that basic recipe with the following modifications:

  • 1/2 cup freshly ground pastry flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Changes noted in the comment on the recipe

After mixing up the dough, I melted two tablespoons of butter and poured about half of it on a cookie sheet, spreading it around a bit. I then pressed the dough in the butter, flattening it evenly. The rest of the melted butter was spread over the top of the dough. Brown sugar and cinnamon were then sprinkled over the dough. It baked at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. I then briefly removed the pan and cut the dough with a spatula into strips. The dough baked for another couple of minutes while we prepared our coffee.

And the result? It was a lightly sweet cookie with a good texture. They made a nice addition to our afternoon coffee, and with so little time involved in their preparation–perhaps 15 minutes–there wasn’t any reason not to make them. They may not be fancy tea biscuits, but they’ll do. My husband certainly ate his right up and then finished off mine. The cookies turned out simple and comforting, two things that I certainly love in a recipe.

Homemade Frozen Mochaccino

homemade frozen mochaccinoIn case you haven’t already guessed, I love coffee. Whatever the form or flavor, it is easily my favorite drink, partly for the caffeine but also for the taste. Similar to those who enjoy the entire experience of smoking a pipe or cigar, I enjoy everything about coffee.

When I was young and single, I would indulge myself in the summers by regularly purchasing coffee granitas at the local coffee place. They were cool and sweet, giving me the extra jolt I needed to make it through the day. Luckily, at the time I had extra cash to spend on myself, and I could also afford the extra calories. Those days are unfortunately no longer.

Do I need to do without frozen coffee treats? Not necessarily. If you’re like me, you’ll find a way to get what you want, even if it means making your own. In this case, I happened to see someone post the recipe for the EatingWell Frozen Mochaccino on Facebook. Although a little more work than brewing a cup of coffee, this drink will certainly satisfy any cravings for those expensive coffee treats.

Too, you make it with low-fat milk and a little maple syrup, and so the drink itself is much lower in calories. I personally used almond milk when I made our drinks, and they were delicious. This would also make it possible for a vegan or someone who is allergic to milk to enjoy their own frozen treat. Low in calories, this recipe is still sweet enough to satisfy.

Whether you’re simply trying to save some money or some calories, I would highly recommend trying this recipe. Although it takes a little effort and planning, it is definitely worth it for this homemade coffee drink.

signature

Homemade Coffee Syrup

homemadecoffeesyrupIn our home, coffee is more than a drink. It’s a ritual. We love everything about the process of making our cup of coffee, including grinding the coffee beans, preparing the coffee maker, heating the milk, and adding our favorite flavored syrups. Homemade specialty coffee can be rewarding in its own right and is certainly much cheaper than purchasing a drink at your favorite coffee place.

However, we have found that coffee syrup can be quite expensive, especially when you’re drinking multiple cups of coffee per day. Although we enjoyed the convenience, we couldn’t justify the expense. But do without it? Not unless the end really is near. Living frugally doesn’t mean that we have to do without all of life’s little pleasures.

And that is when my husband decided that he would make our coffee syrups. I thought it was a bit of a wacky idea at first, but then many of our best frugal endeavors have started out in the same fashion. He found a couple of basic recipes, including one from Paula Deen and a selection of recipes from Food & Family. These became starting points for our own syrups.

While the flavorings and spices may vary among the recipes, the same basic ratio of water to sugar seems to apply to all. Once you have discovered this, you realize that you can easily alter the recipes based on your own needs or tastes. Too making the syrups isn’t very difficult, just mix together and cook for a while. Although making these syrups at home takes a bit of effort, it really is much more frugal to do so.

vanillacoffeesyrup

One green idea of my husband’s was to heat the syrup in our solar oven. While the syrup didn’t thicken as much as it might have on the stove, it actually made the process of making it that much easier. We didn’t need to worry about it boiling over in the pot; we simply set it in the oven and forgot about it for a few hours. As with any solar cooking endeavor, though, always be aware of the outside temperature and your oven’s capabilities so that you don’t have a solar oven mishap.

Whether you’re making the coffee syrups for yourself or as a gift, it’s worth the little effort needed for the preparation. It is much easier on the budget and allows you to make your homemade specialty coffee especially for you.

signature