Berry Parfaits

I love Parfaits. I like to pretty them up for the children, to turn them into special treats.

  • I put them into sundae cups for a nice treat. Or I use decorative bowls.
  • I have real tea-spoons with long handles that I place in the cups.

Berries are healthy and should be a part of everyone’s diet, with the possible exception of babies. My daughters and the daycare children love these, as do I.

  • Use any type of berries you like, and or combination of berries.
  • Use coconut cream, flavoring it if you’d like with pure vanilla or mint extract.
  • Add toppings such as fresh cherries or dried fruit, if desired.
  • Add seeds or nuts to the top.

All you do is:

  • Put a tablespoon of cream in the bottom of the cup.
  • Layer coconut yogurt and berries until you get to the top.
  • Add your choice of topping(s).

These parfaits are great for:

  • Daycare children to make.
  • Hot summer days.
  • Party treats.

They make great:

  • Snacks.
  • Breakfast ideas.
  • Desserts.

Enjoy!

Shannon

P.S. If you have any parfait ideas that you’d care to share, please post them in the comments. Thank you.

Shannon

 

Strawberry Cream Surprise

I love strawberries, and I love coconut. I love mixing coconut cream with pure extracts to come up with different flavorings. This recipe uses pure mint extract.

Add add different toppings to this for variety, choosing something different each time you make it.

Ingredients

Serves: 1

sundae cup

long-handled tea-spoon

coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla extract to taste

3 large sliced strawberries

1 teaspoon baker’s cocoa

  1. Put a few tablespoons of cream into the bottom of a small sundae cup.
  2. Sprinkle with the baker’s cocoa and give it just a little mix.
  3. Add the sliced strawberries.

Tips

  • Grow and/or pick your own strawberries to save money.
  • Try using a different type of pure extract, such as almond or vanilla.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Serve for breakfast with a turkey based egg scramble.
  2. Serve for dessert or a snack.
  3. Serve for lunch or dinner with a casserole.

Shannon

 

Fruit Parfaits

I love Parfaits. I put them into the sundae cups for a nice treat. I have real tea spoons with long handles that I place in the cups to add just a little fanciness to this treat.

Ingredients

any type of fruit that you like, and you can mix and match them

coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla, citrus, or mint extract

toppings such as cherries, crushed almond slivers, or unsweetened coconut cream.

  1. Put a tablespoon of cream in the bottom of the cup.
  2. Layer the cream and fruit until you get to the top.
  3. Add your choice of topping(s).

Tips

  • These parfaits are great for daycare children to make, though adults may need to cut (or supervise the cutting of) the fruits.
  • They are refreshing on a hot summer day.
  • And they make great party treats.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve at breakfast with an egg scramble.
  • Serve for a dessert or snack.
  • Serve as a side with lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

Shannon

P.S. If you have any other parfait ideas that you would care to share, please post them in the comments section. Thank you.

Blueberry-Strawberry Parfait

I love parfaits during the spring and summer months. This berry based parfait is easy to make for a quick snack any time, and a little dark chocolate can be added if it is to be consumed as a dessert.

Ingredients

blueberries

strawberries

coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla extract

unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Paleo granola (optional)

dark chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Rinse the berries well, and lay them out on a towel to dry for a few minutes.

  2. Slice the strawberries, disposing of the tops.

  3. Layer the ingredients like so: Coconut cream, blueberries, strawberry slices. Do this, being sure the top layer is of coconut cream when done. Sprinkle Paleo granola over the top, and some dark chocolate chips if desired.

Tips

  • To save money, grow your own berries.

  • Try other berries when in season.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a vegetable-based salad on a warm day.

 

Shannon

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries, and a Smoothie

I admit it. I love chocolate. I don’t know too many women who don’t. However, I’m trying to eat healthier foods. Traditional chocolate desserts are a no-no, and I comply with that most of the time. When I really want chocolate and am at home, chocolate pudding is a dessert I enjoy. Because there is only one of me, I don’t eat the whole thing, but I do take half and make a smoothie for the next day. Both recipes are below.

Just let me say that I had never had an avocado, so I had no idea what this might taste like starting out. I was pleasantly surprised when I made the pudding and the smoothie. I still have never had just an avocado, but I do know I like it mixed in with other foods.

Avocado is not necessarily cheap, mind you, which means I don’t make this often. One costs me about .98. I can get more kiwi or bananas for the price, which is what I often do with a portion of my fruit money. But for only a once in a while treat, this is perfect.

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries

Ingredients

1 chocolate-banana pudding recipe (I use this Paleo one from Paleotable.com)

2 large strawberries, the green cut off

a few blueberries

  1. Make the banana pudding recipe according to the directions on Paleotable.com.
  2. Mix with a blender and taste. If it’s not chocolatey enough for you, and another tablespoon of the cocoa powder.
  3. Chill for an hour or so, then split half the pudding between two small cups or bowls.
  4. Top with diced strawberries, and a few blueberries.
  5. Refrigerate the other half, covered.

Chocolate-Banana-berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 of the chocolate-banana pudding recipe above

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk that has been refrigerated over night

a few strawberries, greens cut off

a handful of blueberries

  1. Place everything into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until combined.

Tips

  • Buy coconut milk on sale, preferably with a coupon, to save a little money.
  • Try adding strawberries or other berries to the smoothie.
  • Top the pudding with apple slices for dipping.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the pudding over a Paleo brownie, or with fruit slices for dipping.
  • Serve the smoothie for breakfast, with eggs on a bed of spinach.

Have a great day!

Shannon

Frugal Popsicle Ideas

Spring and summer are the best times for popsicles. Sitting on the front porch with the family on a warm evening, enjoying a popsicle, and watching the stars, was one of my favorite things when Skye and Zowie were little.

These popsicles are easy for children to make, though mom or dad may need to cut the fruit for them.

You can make popsicles from these drinks by simply pouring them into popsicle molds bought for $1 per set at a dollar tree, making these very frugal treats for everyone. Pull them out when you hear the ice cream truck approaching.

Liquids for Popsicles

Fruit add-ins for popsicles

Adding fruit to the popsicles will make them extra special.

  • kiwi
  • banana
  • apple chunks
  • pear chunks
  • strawberry chunks
  • raspberries
  • blueberries

What are your favorite popsicle liquids and add-ins? Let us know in the comments.

Shannon

 

 

Freezer: Using up the Winter Stocks

Since it is the time of the year when we spring clean, I thought it would be nice if we all considered our freezers for a few minutes. Do you have any leftover produce in the freezer? I know that I still have some frozen smoothie packs and berries in the freezer that need to be used. Here are some pointers for using up your winter stores:

* The eggs you purchased on sale and froze will need to be used. Since the yolks had to be broken to freeze, you cannot make boiled or fried eggs with them. You could make other things, though:

  • scrambled eggs
  • french toast with a hearty paleo bread
  • use them when baking

These can be frozen in snack size baggies, then put all the baggies into a quart or gallon size freezer baggie until needed. Freeze them one egg to a snack size baggie, or use bigger bags and freeze more than one  in each.  Take the eggs out of the night before  you need them.

* Use grated zucchini  to make:

  • muffins
  • breads
  • omelets
  • cookies
  • brownies
  • cakes

* Diced apples are great for breads and muffins, brownies, cookies and cakes.

* Sliced apples make great crisps, pies, sauces, and cobblers.

* You can make a great soup from (saved) leftover vegetables, meats, and liquids from cooking the veggies.

* Make smoothies using the smoothie packs you froze during the winter.

Happy eating!

Shannon

Our Favorite Cheesecake

This is a favorite at all holiday and sabbat celebrations in our home. Everyone loves it, even though it’s not your traditional cheesecake. Anyone can make it, even a child. It is quick and easy to make, and tastes so good.

This recipe is for two cakes, but you can halve everything for one if you don’t need that much. We always make two so that there is sure to be enough for everyone.

Ingredients:

2 packages of cream cheese

16 ounces of whipped topping

2/3 cup sugar

2 graham cracker crusts

  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
  2. Pour the filling between the two crusts, and smooth out to the edges.
  3. Place the crust pan covers over the ‘cakes’ and place them in the refrigerator for an hour, or until you need them.

Tips

  • To save money, I buy all store brand items for this recipe.
  • Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the top of the cheesecake.
  • Add strawberry slices around the outer edge, and a whole strawberry in the center.
  • Place cherries around the outer edge, and a dollop of whipped topping in the center. Place another cherry into the center of the topping.
  • Purchase mini graham cracker crusts for making mini cheesecakes so that each person can have their own. Top these with cherries, strawberries or kiwi, and a dollop of whipped topping.

For the holidays:

  • The holiday cheesecakes I made (pictured) have five dollops of whipped cream, one at the center.
  • One cheesecake has peppermint Hershey’s kisses pushed into the dollops, and dark chocolate shavings covering the top.
  • The second cheesecake has Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate (half) squares pushed into the dollops, then a drizzling of chocolate syrup.

What toppings do you enjoy on your cheesecake?

There’s nothing healthy about these cheesecakes. They’re made only for special family occasions because people love them. They are not a typical dessert item for me. I do make allowances for special family recipes once in a while, when an occasion calls for it, even though I try very hard to eat healthy most of the rest of the time.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Gifts Made With Love

Last year the bestest, Missy, and I started a new tradition. As long as we live close enough to do so, we will have a baking day for the holidays. This year we had our day on the 13th, in the midst of a busy season, busy times at work, and her moving. Carving out time to hang out is not always easy, but we have seen each other often as of late, to pack up her place.

We discussed how, next year, we would have more work space available for us to use at her new place. Lots more counter space! We also discussed the possibility of me moving away to be near my daughter and her family at some point in the future, and I told her we’d get her set up with a laptop beforehand so we could have a baking day, and do a video chat the whole time so we could still talk and enjoy each others company.

Technology continues to amaze me.

I know these are not healthy treats, but I do believe it is okay to have sweets once in a while – especially at the holidays, as long as we do not go overboard. As a matter-of-fact, I didn’t do near as much testing of the treats this year as I would have a few years back. Pretty proud of myself 🙂

This year, the bestest and I made six items:

  • I helped her with chocolate dipped pretzels, and some dipped in butterscotch.
  • She made homemade banana breads and butterscotch noodle cookies. (Yum!)
  • I made chocolate no-bakes, Reese’s bars, and chocolate chip brownies.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Now, it takes time to do all of this, but it’s worth it. I planned an entire day at her place for this get-together. We did our grocery shopping first, and for lunch she made us rice and chicken. I also had apple slices. Dinner was bought on the run, at McD’s on the way home. Bad, I know! But quick.

Both of us contribute to the container choices, and this year I brought along a few bags and boxes to throwPhotograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015 into the bunch. These items, for my part anyway, are usually purchased at discount prices or at thrift stores. Any way I can get them frugally! I don’t have much extra money at the holidays, so I look throughout the year for items that will help to make presents more fun to put together and give.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015The bestest and I do make quite the mess when baking, lol. Who doesn’t, right? And we maybe didn’t have all that we needed for utensils and such on this baking day because we had packed much of her kitchen stuff away in preparation for her move. We did have to improvise just a little, but it all worked out well.

We like to package our homemade treat gifts nicely for the people on our lists. I was putting together a gift Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015for the people I work with, plus gifts for each of three friends. I set up all four of the gift boxes I was going to need when I was ready to start filling them. The bestest did the same for her recipients. Plus, we both did gift boxes for friends we share.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015We had a great deal of fun during our baking day, listening to Pandora and chatting about all manner of things, including our blessings. And, toward the end of our day, we began packing all those delightful treats into their chosen boxes, bags, and tins.

The next day I brought the treat box I had made up for work, and a gallon size baggie filled with the leftover no-bakes, to work for the Christmas party. I did not attend the party, as I was working, but I did go down and grab a plate of food for my lunch 🙂 The people at work love treats!

Yesterday, my friend Jose stopped in and I gave him his box filled with treats, and a card. It didn’t take him long after he got home to eat those Reese’s bars! I wonder if he even waited until he got home. My friend Bob will be stopping in for his treat box and card as well.

And today I put together treat gifts for a few other people. Much of the packaging was left over from earlier years, so they didn’t cost me anything this time around. I did buy a set of plastic snowman cups for a dollar, a set of felt holiday bags for about $5.50 and a set of burlap bags for about $6.50, including shipping costs. $2.00 was spent on mini Reese’s bars, and $2.00 on Hershey’s Kisses because they are favorites. I paid $2.00 for 2 packages of gold coins because they reminded me of childhood, and about $2.00 for all the rest of the candy. Plus $8.00 for hot cocoa simply because it was something different. I also spent .25 each on three packages of holiday pins and .49 on 1 package of pencils. $29.24 plus tax, and I have a lot of packaging items left over for another year. Many of these items were bought during my November trip up north to visit my daughter Skye.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015The hot cocoa did set me over my limit, but what a cute idea! There were eight boxes in the package, at $1.00 each. I couldn’t resist. Everyone likes a hot cocoa on a cold winter evening, and children enjoy some after hours of building snowmen and snow forts. Well worth the cost, in my opinion.

The chocolate bar packs came with little coloring cards of Frosty and Santa. Young Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015children will enjoy coloring them on a stormy day, when school is cancelled and they cannot be outside.

Holiday bowls filled with these cards and some goodies make a nice little gift, as do mini stockings filled with treats and a pencil sporting a snowman eraser.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

Fill the bottom of a burlap bag with small candies, and top it off with a pencil, a chocolate bar, chocolate marshmallow treats, and some gold coins.

Add a little flair by attaching a couple of pins to the bag.

A bit larger felt bag can be filled with a hot cocoa box, adding a pencil and some chocolate marshmallowPhotograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015 treats, coloring cards, and a treat bag filled with small candies.

See the cellophane bag to the side? It is filled with the same little candies as the bag placed in the larger felt bag, and tied with a red ribbon so the candies do not fall out.

I love that the felt bags have handles, by the way. Makes for easier carrying when you have multiple gifts to deliver.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

This picture shows the same treat-filled cellophane bag placed inside a plastic snowman cup. A quick and easy last minute gift, when needed. There is always something that you are invited to last minute, or someone who decided to bring an extra child along to an event.

It’s also a nice touch to give gifts in food boxes or tins. They can be packed full with any number of treats,Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015 and are large enough to also hold one of the cocoa boxes and a pencil.

They’re good for store-bought treats, or even homemade goodies. Whatever you decide to put together. A good hostess gift would be one filled with homemade cookies, brownies, or fudge, or a combination of the three.

There are so many ways to package food gifts, and many ways to save money doing so.

Challenge: Beginning with the after Christmas sales, begin collecting different types of food containers, wraps, bags, ribbons, bows, tags, and other packaging needs. Also, look for small items you can add to food gifts for the children on your list. Keep receipts, and note the regular price of each item. Also, learn now how to research regular prices for items, so you can also utilize thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets, and items you find for free. When you are ready to package your food gift next year, look for deals on food items and figure out how much it costs to make homemade items vs. how much to buy them. Then let us know how much money you saved on these items and gifts. For your own needs, you can see more easily where you can cut corners on food gifts from now on.

If you already have this information due to the fact that this is all normal for you to do each year, please give us some figures and let us know about your experiences in the comments. You may have information that someone with not enough money this year can use. Tips are always welcome. Or feel free to email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all emails and comments.

P.S. See the bestests’ soup recipe, completely ready for customization: Making Soup with the Bestest, Missy’s Vegetable Soup

P.S.S. See my posts from last year: Food Gifts for Yule and Christmas, Candy-Filled Ornaments or Gift Tags, and Festive Hot Cocoa.

Happy Yule! Merry Christmas! Happy new Year! ❤

Shannon

September Baking Day

I love September because it’s the month I start having huge baking days each year. I had one such day on the 9th. Mind you, it was still quite warm, and I rent a room so it heats up quickly. At this point, the AC is used to keep the temperature regulated on baking days. Soon, it will not be necessary.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015This is what I ended up with at the end of my baking day. Quite a bit, and well worth my time.

  1. I made applesauce in one of the slow cookers, using the red delicious apples I had left from the previous week. All I did was core and peel them, slice ’em up, and layer them in the crock. I covered the slices with water, filling to just above thePhotograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015 tops of the apples, then cooked on high for 3 hours. I ended up with enough applesauce to go with 4 meals. At no added cost for the week because the apples were left over.
  2. I cooked up a batch of this wonderful Apple-Pumpkin Butter (Civilized Caveman Cooking) in the other slow cooker. It came out perfect. I did not add the pecans, because I don’t eat them, but the recipe still came out well. I got almost 3 jars of this, put one in the refrigerator and 2 in the freezer. (This butter is very good on both the muffins and the cornbread below.) (It is also a great topper for Paleo ice cream.)
  3. Pumpkin Muffins (PaleOMG) were next, using another Paleo recipe. Paleo muffin mixes are not going to be exactly like regular ones, but they turned out well. This recipe made 10 muffins. (NOTE: I did not add the chocolate chips, but I bet they are delicious in them. I knew I was using the chips in another recipe, plus already had no-bakes. I didn’t need any more chocolate.)
  4. Then I started the Paleo Cornbread Muffins (Empowered Sustenance). Again, these are not the same as regular cornbread but turned out well. This recipe made a dozen.
  5. And I wanted to have a breakfast on hand that would be quick and easy to put together each morning, so I made some Paleo Pumpkin Pancake batter (Paleo Newbie) and put it in the refrigerator to be cooked up as I wanted, at a rate of 1 pancake per day to go with a smoothie.

My budget for groceries was only $3.00 for the week. A lean week indeed. I bought a package of hot dogs for $.70, a 3-pack of string cheese for $1.00, and a can of peas for $.69. Everything else I already had on hand, except some cucumbers, kohlrabi, a tomato, and zucchini from Mom’s and Lloyd’s garden.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

Lunch was a simple, leftover mixed salad. I topped it with some string cheese. It was a refreshing, light lunch.

 

 

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

And this was dinner. I cooked the hot dogs and peas in a fry pan, and served it with fresh cucumber, tomato, and kohlrabi. This made a few meals.

It was a pretty good meal, despite the hot dogs.

 

 

A couple of days earlier I’d made Chocolate-Coconut No-Bakes (Here on the blog.) and Easy Slow Cooker Taco Meat (Rubies & Radishes). Both recipes were absolutely delicious, and helped me get through the coming week. With all the fresh produce from the garden, there was plenty of food to last.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

This was one of my meals later in the week. Sweet potato topped with leftover taco meat, cucumbers from the garden, and the Paleo cornbread topped with the homemade pumpkin butter. It was a delicious meal.

What are you cooking up this month? Let us know in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always reply to comments and emails.

Shannon