Cinnamon Brunch Cake

Cinnamon Brunch CakeSometimes it seems like my little efforts at home are worthless.

Baking and cooking and cleaning seem small things, easily forgotten as the world becomes more and more chaotic. We all grasp onto what we can, but often it seems like the center cannot hold. In the midst of all of the awful news and the prayers and the pleas for peace, it seems like these things at home have no meaning.

And yet…

I open my Bible and find the only One who can bring peace. He is the center that remains constant, the only Light for our lives.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33

And I get up and do what I can for my family, to bring some measure of pleasure to their day.

When my husband left for a meeting, I decided that I would bake a cake and greet him with some yummy smells. This cake recipe seemed pretty easy, so I set to work in the kitchen.

Here are the minor changes I made when mixing up the cake:

  • As I did not have non-stick spray, I just melted a big dab of coconut oil in the pan and spread it around. I did not bother to pour off any excess, which seemed to work just fine with this cake.
  • I added chopped pecans for a crunch.
  • I did not measure the topping ingredients or the melted butter. (I was generous with both.)

This made a wonderfully moist and simple cake for my husband to enjoy. And the house smelled delightful.

When all we have left are prayers and family and home and Jesus, then maybe that is when we truly find our riches. And maybe our little efforts at home still have meaning. At least I hope so.

Praying for Paris, Beirut, and so many other places…

Pumpkin Walnut Drop Scones

Pumpkin Walnut Drop SconesIf you’ve been looking through some of my posts, you might think my selection of recipes is a bit eclectic. Ranging from super-sweet treats to nutritious paleo delights, they can surely seem strange.

Why do I do it? It’s easy. Family.

Sure, some of the recipes are enjoyed by all, but some are just for me. I used to try to force my family to eat healthy, but it only led to fights and upset feelings. So now I try to find a balance between healthy and delicious, with some treats that only I enjoy. I figure that they can make the decision to eat healthier for themselves.

And, to be honest, I like making things that are sticky-good.

But for me, I make nutritious things that I can love. These scones certainly fit that bill.  They fulfilled all my autumnal wishes for flavor and still were healthy.

Plus they also utilized one ingredient that I had on hand from a failed project: xylitol. It had been hanging around my cupboards feeling forlorn after its rejection. It was good to give it a purpose.

These scones were super easy to make. The only problem I encountered was in sifting the dry ingredients; some of the xylitol grains wouldn’t make it through the sifter. Other than that, mixing and baking were a breeze.

And the taste? Good! They were soft in texture with a subtle flavor. Definitely a must for autumn mornings.

Pasta Bake with Sage Sausage

Pasta Bake with Sage SausageGenerally, when hubby offers to go to the grocery store, I make a specific list of items. Sometimes, though, I just say something like, “Get whatever is on sale.” The results can be interesting, and challenging, to say the least.

This last trip was one of those times. He came back with sage sausage. Now, I grew up eating this type of sausage for breakfast. Only for breakfast. What to do with it now?

Sage is not a spice that I generally use, and so I looked up foods and other spices that might complement it. I learned that oregano, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts go well with sage. So….a pasta bake!

I browned the sausage first in a saucepan and then threw in the rest of a bag of frozen peppers and onions. After all of that was nicely cooked, it went in a baking pan with some melted butter. I added a jar of premium Bertolli sauce along with artichoke hearts, a handful of Italian spice blend, as well as some garlic powder. After a bit of mixing, it went in the oven at 350 while I cooked the pasta. Once the pasta was cooked, it went in to the baking pan and cooked for about an hour, with my stirring the ingredients about every 20 minutes or so.

The result? It was well received by all. It had a subtle flavor that wasn’t too spicy. Plus, my husband and his daughter decided to mix in some cheese, and so that made it all the more family friendly. It was a definite winner!

Sometimes surprises can be good!

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Simple Treats: Almond Meal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Coconut

almond meal cookiesI have to admit that lately I’m feeling a bit worn out. Although I actually enjoy cooking and baking, it just seemed too overwhelming in the midst of all of my work lately. I must confess that we’ve been eating out a lot. Not frugal, but sometimes necessary for sanity’s sake. Rising early and staying up late, I found that cooking can be simply too much when faced with such a schedule. I don’t think it’s bad to ask for help in such times, and seeking rest eventually will help with the soul as well as the mind.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” —Psalm 62:1-2

Luckily, I believe I’m at the end of the heavy work period and so will be able to dive into baking and cooking. To celebrate–a tiny bit, at least–I decided to bake a quick batch of Almond Meal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Coconut. I had some time and all of the ingredients, so off I went to the kitchen.

For my cookies, I chose to use coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar, and I used chocolate from Bulk Foods. The batter was easy to mix up but resulted in a somewhat crumbly mixture. I was able to form the cookies, though, after the refrigeration period, and they cooked up nicely. One tip might be to do the smooshing of the cookies after a few minutes in the oven so that they don’t crumble into pieces. I also baked mine about 9 minutes, which seemed perfect for my oven.

The cookies were sweet, but in a natural way, with a light texture and taste. I would definitely make these again as they satisfied the tastebuds of both children and adults.

So here’s to simple pleasures and treats! Be sure and take some time for rest for your bodies and souls in the midst of heavy schedules. And don’t forget some nourishing treats as well.

 

Easy Tomato Soup

easytomatosoupI suppose this post could be subtitled, “The Continuing Adventures of Using Up Old Tomato Soup.” Although I have already used one can of soup, I still have more cans in the pantry. Making soup out of soup might seem kind of silly, but it is an easy way to make something not-so-appetizing, e.g., the cans of old soup, into a dinner that will satisfy. Frugal dinners don’t have to be unappealing.

In need of a dinner for my family, I decided to use another can of soup. Below are the ingredients that initially went in the crockpot:

  • One can of tomato soup
  • One can of chicken stock
  • One can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • One can of chickpeas
  • Garlic salt and pepper
  • One onion, diced

Once it had cooked for a bit, I realized that it would be a quite bland soup. I therefore added a few more ingredients:

  • One chipotle
  • Beef bouillon, about two tablespoons
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne
  • More garlic salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Remains of a stick of summer sausage, diced
  • One can of chicken

And the result? A soup with great flavor and still frugal. I managed to use up another can of tomato soup, along with some other ingredients that needed to be utilized. And my family ate dinner without complaints. A win, win for me!

What about for you? Making something similar—I call it “dump soup”–is an easy way to make a frugal meal for your family and use up pantry ingredients that might be close to expiration. By following the general formula of this soup, you can make substitutions that are appropriate for your family and your “use it up” needs. Cooking “outside of the recipe” can be a bit intimidating at first, but it will liberate your dinners and make them truly frugal.

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Cinnamon Streusel Crisps

cinnamonstreuselcrispsThis week has certainly been one of busy-ness for myself, one in which I was not focusing on my home and providing for my family. I suppose that’s what happens in life—especially when you get older and gain more responsibilities—but it makes you feel a bit bad about that neglect. Although I usually focus on frugality, sometimes I’ll take shortcuts in my cooking in order to relieve some of the stress and time involved. Part of this would be pre-prepared foods, but also technology.

When we were grocery shopping this past week, I found the tubes of refrigerated sugar cookie dough on sale. Knowing that I would be busy most of this current week, I grabbed a couple. With my husband’s daughter coming this week, I thought that they might come in handy.

Having run out of desserts for the family, I decided to use one of those tubes today. But what to do? Google is all knowing, for better or for worse, whattodowithsugarcookiedoughand so I decided to consult it with my problem. Typing in “what to do with sugar cookie dough,” I found quite a few ideas to solve my predicament. One stood out, though. Loving coffee cake, I settled on making cinnamon streusel crisps.

The resulting cookies were light and crispy but still sweet. I hope they’ll satisfy my family’s cravings and allay some of my guilt for this week. And with the help of the web and pre-prepared food, I didn’t have to stress too much. And who doesn’t love a light and sweet cookie on a Friday afternoon?

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Cream Cheese Muffins for a Happy Family

Cream Cheese Cream Cheese (1)I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately as you might be able to tell by the lack of blog posts. My family, along with my blog, have been suffering with a lack of cooked goodies. In fact, this morning there was a minor revolt with my husband’s daughter refusing to eat the cereal that we had on hand. Although my husband dealt with that situation, I figured I should take some time to bake this morning.

As you might be able to tell, I personally enjoy sweets with a light texture and flavor. In order to make myself as well as my family happy, I decided to bake up a batch of these cream cheese muffins this morning. I have made these muffins in the past, and they are perfect for breakfast, snacks, or even desserts. With their fluffiness and sugary crust on top, they are definitely a win.

In order to stave off any family revolt, then you might want to consider making some muffins for breakfast. They are a quick option that can be made the night before, and they are certainly cheaper than most boxed cereals. You can relax with a muffin and your coffee while the kids eat happily. A peaceful morning definitely is worth a bit of baking.

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Beginning to Prepare for Emergencies

beginningtoprepareforemergenciesTonight we’re supposed to be in the path of some very nasty storms. Living in Kansas, we realize that it’s part of the territory. I have tried to prepare our family for such emergencies; these attempts could be thought of as focusing on what matters. This is definitely part of keeping a practical household, one that is ready to be self-sufficient if needed. Unfortunately, though, it is often neglected in our day when numerous governmental and societal resources exist.

Taking care of your family doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. By taking baby steps toward your ultimate goal, you can prepare for the disasters that you might face in your area. Too, by preparing long before any possible problem actually occurs, you will often save money by finding supplies on sale. Preparing, therefore, is practical and possibly frugal.

The following are some areas to consider:

  1. Water storage that will supply your family in case local water supplies are cut off. Be sure and store enough for your family.
  2. Food storage that will provide your family with enough nutrients for a certain amount of time.
  3. Alternate cooking methods in case your gas or electricity is not available.
  4. Methods for keeping you and your family warm or cool during difficult seasons.
  5. Medicine for your family’s needs, along with medical supplies for emergencies.
  6. Print library with information for survival, such as gardening, medicine, cooking, etc.
  7. Alternate methods for communication, such as Ham radio.

These are the basic areas in which to focus, but you will undoubtedly require more specific supplies based on your family’s needs. As you gather these supplies, don’t forget to learn how to use this equipment and gain other information and skills that might come in handy. By taking the time now to prepare for an emergency, you will feel more secure and will certainly be more self-sufficient.

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Almond Chocolate Freezer Fudge: Love Calories

almondchocolatefreezerfudgeSometimes I go a little crazy and make an expensive dessert. I suppose I could excuse this in that it did use up some chocolate that has been lying around on the shelf for a bit. Too, it could be considered energy saving in that I didn’t need to heat up the mixture. However, I would say that this recipe is mainly “love calories,” those calories that bolster our family’s morale in the midst of frugality.

The ingredients make this recipe expensive. I used SunButter due to the sensitivity of my husband’s daughter to peanuts. While that certainly made it an appropriate dessert for her, it sure was expensive. Also, I was concerned in that once mixed with the other ingredients, the butter did not “pour” as the recipe said, and so it seemed as if the fudge would certainly fail.readyforthefreezer

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fudge did not fail, but rather tasted wonderful. Despite the lack of sugar in the batter itself, it was very sweet, but not overly so. If you’re wanting to introduce your family to whole foods desserts, then this might be a good place to start. Both my husband and his daughter readily ate the fudge and never complained.

Perhaps it’s good for me to go crazy every now and then. My family sure enjoys it!

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