Cheese Board for Sharing

Finally bought myself a cheese board! I’ve been wanting to for a while now. At some point I want to have my daughters over for some family time, and this will be a big hit. Who wouldn’t want to share the deliciousness with loved ones?

I love that this board has a place to keep crackers separate from the other foods on each side. I also love that you don’t necessarily need to have cheese on the board, though this arrangement has two goat cheese dips I’m sure you will love. (I’ll be sharing links to a few of these dips below.)

The combinations of foods to be placed on a cheese board seem endless, and I promise you I will be trying many. I might even share some more with you here on the blog. I can’t wait to use this at future get-togethers with family and friends.

Try to use organic foods when possible. Rinse and dry produce before use.

NOTE: I prefer goat cheese over that made from cow’s milk. I have an intolerance to cow’s milk, and am so happy to have an alternative cheese. Regardless, I don’t eat cheese all the time. It’s a real treat for me.

Fruit & Vegetables Cheese Board

1 cucumber, sliced

1 apple, sliced

1 pear, sliced

1 or 2 carrots, cut into sticks

1 or 2 celery stocks, cut into sticks

1 orange, sectioned

grapes

pineapple chunks or tidbits

Paleo crackers

1 or 2 goat cheese dips: Fig & Goat Cheese Dip, Almond & Goat Cheese Dip, Fig & Almond Goat Cheese Dip, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Dip.

All you’re doing is placing the food onto the cheese board in a pleasing manner. You can use my photograph as a guide, and experiment.

Tips

  • Use your favorite fruits and vegetables.
  • Try different types of dips and sauces.
  • Leave the peels on apples, pears, cucumbers, and the like, for added nutritional value.
  • On rare occasion, I order Chinese from a restaurant near work. It’s not the healthiest, but it is convenient. Every time I order, they send me at least four of the spoons that are used in the photo. I finally found a good use for them!
  • Make your own Paleo crackers. Use a recipe you find online. They will be healthier than traditional crackers.
  • If it will be a bit before you eat, dip apple & pear slices in lemon juice for about 30 seconds.
  • Growing grapes, celery, and carrots, or other fruits and vegetables, will save you a good deal of money.
  • Cheese boards would be great for any celebration.

Enjoy your cheese board!

~ Shannon

 

 

 

 

Cucumber-Banana Smoothie

Cucumbers are a great addition to most smoothies. Their water content is high, so you might not need as much milk in this recipe as you do in others. Use what greens are in season. You’ll save money if you grow them yourself. Use organic ingredients whenever you can.

This recipes uses leftover ingredients from other recipes. Another great way to save money and create less waste.

Ingredients

vanilla almond milk

1 handful of greens – kale, chard, baby spinach

10 cucumber slices

1 egg

6 banana slices

5 watermelon chunks

  1. Place everything except the vanilla almond milk into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla almond milk a little at a time and blend, until the smoothie is at the desired consistency.
  4. Pour into a tall glass.
  5. Add a straw and enjoy!

Tips

  • Save money by using leftovers, and by purchasing produce in season.
  • Switch up ingredients for different flavors.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with breakfast or as a snack.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

 

Vegetable-Banana Smoothie

Another leftovers type of smoothie for you to try. A lot of times I just use whatever I have on hand. Add more milk if it isn’t smooth enough. Smoothie recipes pack quite the nutritional punch at snack time, or with your breakfast.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (may need more)

1 egg

small handful of greens – kale, chard, or spinach

a few pieces of broccoli

10 baby carrots

3 chunks watermelon

1 small banana

  • Place everything into a blender.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Add a little more almond milk if needed.
  • Blend again.
  • Pour into a tall glass.
  • Add a straw.
  • Enjoy!

Tips

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with homemade Paleo granola cereal at breakfast.

Happy Days!

Shannon

 

Quick Tip: Save Money on Herbs & Spices

A while back I wrote a quick tip for you on growing your own herbs, but there are other ways you can save money on these delectable additions to meals. First, go through your pantry and see what you have. Make note of which herbs and spices you use the most of, and which you use very little of.

  • Decide what items you can grow organically on a windowsill.
  • Learn how to freeze and dry what you do grow.
  • Figure out exactly what you have to buy, and find out where you can buy the organic versions affordably.
  • Find others who also use only a little of the herbs and spices that you use little of. Are they willing to go in on the cost of those items with you and split them? Or maybe someone uses more than you do but would be willing to give you what you need at little cost.
  • Or maybe your mom will be awesome and give you just what is required of those particular items, for the recipes you will be making ❤

Growing your own and going in on the cost with others can be huge money savers.

If you find you haven’t even opened something in the last year give it away and don’t bother getting it again.

While we want to save money in this area – and possibly save huge – it is also important that you buy or grow organically. By doing so, you will get top nutritional benefits. And the organic versions taste so much better!

Shannon

 

Quick Tip: Plan Meals AFTER You Shop

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But hear me out.

I don’t always shop with a list, especially if I’m on a tighter than usual budget. Why? Because I can shop, finding the items with the best prices, and create meals from those foods when I get home. If I only have $25.00 to spend, I take it to the store and challenge myself to get as much as I can for that price.

I know the basics: Vegetables first, protein sources second, fruit third, and a healthy fat if I have nothing at home. My basic shopping list literally has these four things – no specifics.

Also, I don’t leave for the trip not knowing what is in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

On the occasion I want something specific, I do add the specific ingredients I will need to my shopping list.

Happy cooking!

Shannon

 

 

Peppermint Coconut Cream

Here is another coconut cream recipe that is quick and easy to make, and can be catered to your own tastes. Some of you will like more peppermint flavoring than others, so experiment to see what works for you.

The creams I am making, such as this one and the vanilla coconut cream, are far healthier for me than dairy-based creams. I’m thankful to have them for topping my fruit and desserts. They also goes well with the chocolate sauce I like.

This peppermint recipe is particularly good for the holidays.

Ingredients

1/2 of a 13.66 +/- can of organic coconut cream

10 to 12 drops of pure peppermint extract

  1. Put half the can of coconut cream into a small bowl.
  2. Place the rest of the cream into a container, cover, and place in the refrigerator until needed.
  3. Put 10 to 12 drops (give or take, depending on your preferences) of pure peppermint extract on the cream.
  4. Mix the cream and peppermint together until well combined.
  5. Pour into a canning jar and cover.
  6. Label the jar and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Photograph copyright 2017 by Shannon L. Buck. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

 

Tips

  • Try other flavorings, such as lemon or almond.
  • Try to find coupons or wait for sales to save money.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve over a Paleo brownie.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Homemade Food Gifts: Baked Goods

The most frugal way to make these foods is from scratch. Admittedly, I often use boxed items when I’m able to purchase them on sale, with a coupon. They can be pretty affordable just before and during the holidays. The trick to doing this in the most frugal manner possible is by figuring out whether it is cheaper to bake from scratch or a box when all factors are added in, or deducted 🙂 Be sure to factor in home preserved produce for the food items that have fruit as an ingredient.
Just a note: These are not healthy baked-goods. But most people on my gift list won’t likely eat healthy versions. They like what they are used to. So yes, I give sweets at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

Fill baskets with one or more of the following:

  • HM (Homemade) quick breads
  • Quick breads from a box: Lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon, pumpkin and cinnamon swirl are all tasty options.
  • Brownies
  • HM pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or bars.
  • HM sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars or icings.
  • HM apple or zucchini bars with chocolate chips.
  • HM mints

Tips

  • To save money on electricity, I bake multiple items at once.
  • To save time, I mix up multiple batches at once in large bowls.
  • To save a few more pennies, when mixing up multiple batches I delete and egg or two.
  • To save more money, I use small or medium eggs – or large depending on what is on sale. You can use any size eggs in baking, even if large eggs are specifically called for. 1 small or medium egg = 1 large egg.
  • Use mini loaf pans, if possible.
  • Use mini decorative cake pans for breads, bars and cakes.

What homemade baked goods do you make to give as holiday gifts? Please share with us in the comments below.

Shannon

 

Pumpkin Centerpieces

Yesterday I did a review over on the Frugal is Fabulous! blog for Colleen Dorsey’s book Easy Pumpkin Carving: Spooktacular Patterns, Tips & Ideas. You can read the review here.

What I wanted to do was make a couple of centerpieces for a meal, and then to be able to use the pumpkins to make recipes such as muffins or pancakes. I did not want to carve them. I found some ideas on pages 22 and 23 that I particularly liked.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright October 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Buck/e/B01AIXHW0Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

I wanted flowers and pumpkins, but did not want to hollow out my pumpkins. Instead, I bought autumn floral picks and glued some to the top of each pumpkin, around the stem.

I chose small arrangements of autumn floral picks, and two small pumpkins that would sit nicely on the table.

It was easy to pull the flowers and other items I wanted to use off the picks, and glue them in place where I wanted them.

This was not a time-consuming project, and I ended up with two nice centerpieces. The first was a simple one with leaves and flowers. I simply glued the leaves around the stem, and then topped it off with a few flowers.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright October 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Buck/e/B01AIXHW0Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

This second one was a little different. I started with the leaves again, then added a pinecone and a few other things before adding flowers. I like the look. How about you?

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright October 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Buck/e/B01AIXHW0Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

These are great for autumn in general, and also for Thanksgiving. The book has free patterns for Halloween carvings as well.

Added bonuses:

  • They cost less than $10.00 to make.
  • I’ll save money in coming years reusing the flowers and other items from the picks.
  • I’ll have pumpkin for autumn recipes!
  • They will look great at the center any table placed on a runner or placemat.
  • These could also be placed on a mantle or on a porch.

How will you decorate your pumpkin?

Shannon

 

Apple Candle Holders

This project is a great accompaniment for autumn place settings, and can be placed on the dinner or picnic table with the place settings. They are affordable to make, as you can often find bags of tea light candles for a couple of dollars, and the apples can usually be purchased fairly cheap.

Materials:

apples

knife and spoon

tea light or votive candles, scented if desired

  1. Using the knife and the spoon, scoop out the center of the apple from the top. Discard the seeds. Cut down only far and wide enough for a candle to fit in snugly.
  2. Wipe the apple with a cloth.
  3. Insert the candle.

Tips:

  • Use apples from your own orchard to save money.
  • Look for candles at the dollar store for extra money savings.
  • Place these candle holders on the holiday table, or on stands as part of the overall decor.
  • These can be used for any autumn day, but are especially wonderful additions to Halloween and Thanksgiving settings.
  • These are also great for Samhain.
  • Create a centerpiece with these by placing them on a plate or in a baking dish. Strew autumn leaves, pine cones and acorns in the bottom of the dish, add the apple candle holders, and then place the arrangement on the table.

Enjoy the autumn holidays! Do you have any apple craft ideas? Please post them to the comments.

Shannon

Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Oils

Herbed oils can be made easily and used in small ratios (1/2 to 2 tablespoons) on salads and in stir fries. Experiment to find other ways these oils can be used.

Make these when the herbs are harvested from the garden, so they are at their freshest. The oils will store for up to one year.

The basic preparations work like this:

  1. Place three 2-inch sprigs of herbs/leaves into each, per each cup of oil that the jar will hold.
  2. Put one garlic, shallot, or other ingredient into the necessary jars, per cup of oil that each jar will hold.
  3. Heat oil over low-medium heat until warm with a good scent; about three to five minutes (longer if lots of oil). Do not boil.
  4. Pour oil into jars, over the other items.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Cover each jar.
  7. Tie a tag around each bottle, with raffia or twine, with its’ ingredient list and ‘From (Your Names’) Kitchen.’ Also note how long the oil will last once given as gift, or an expiration date. Mention how each oil may be used.

Try these combinations or experiment with your own:

  • Dill and chives
  • Garlic, oregano, and thyme
  • Rosemary and sage

Tips:

  • Purchase oils in bulk and/or on sale to save money. You can also use coupons to save money.
  • Find other oil and herb combinations, but stick with healthy, Paleo-friendly oils.
  • Try using larger quantities of herbs to see if you like the flavorings better.

 

References:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)