Friday, May 27, 2011

FRUGAL FRIDAY - HOMEMADE LARABARS

Where has the week gone? I was planning to do two posts this week, but here it is the end of the week and I don't even have time to do my own Frugal Friday post. I've been wanting to do my own post of these bars for quite a while, so now I'm "borrowing" this post. This is a great way to be more frugal if you buy Larabars or similar snack bars. Up front the ingredients can cost a bit, but if you make a few batches, it's well worth it! This comes from The Sister's Cafe, which is an awesome blog that I check daily!
I've made these a few times, and they DO taste just like the ones you buy! I had so much fun coming up with my own version, "Tropical", but also tried the blueberry and chocolate almond as described below. 

Homemade Larabars

by MELANIE on FEBRUARY 28, 2011
Have you ever tried a Larabar? They are fruit and nut snack/energy bars that are made from natural ingredients and gluten free. I think they are very tasty,but at $1-$1.50 a bar they are an expensive little snack in my opinion. So, I decided to try making them myself with GREAT results! The main ingredient is dates which can be pricey at the healthy food store, but I found them in a large container at my local Costco for much cheaper. These bars are super healthy and a great source of energy for me and my family. My boys actually love them and think they are a yummy treat. I told them that they are energy bars, so they now request them for a snack before basketball and wrestling practise. For me they are perfect for a mid afternoon ‘pick-me-up” snack. So much better than a cookie or granola bar and much cheaper than the official Larabar.
Here are my favorite Homemade Larabar recipes so far–but the possibilities are endless…
Homemade Larabars
submitted by Melanie
recipe source : Recipes are all over the internet! My recipes were from: the little red house, delightful delicacies, and vegetarlins
Each recipe makes 8-10″ larabar” sized bars, but as you can see from the picture above, I prefer to cut the recipes into 16-20 bars each. You can always have two if needed, but one is usually good for me.
Peanut Butter Snack Bar1 cup chopped dates (it’s cheaper to buy them whole, plus they tend to dry out a bit if they are pre-chopped.)
1 1/2 cup chopped peanuts.
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor.
When they come together into a paste, you’re ready.
Line a loaf pan with parchment, and press the mixture into the pan.
Remove paper from pan, and slice into bars
Chocolate Almond Cherry Bars1 cup whole almonds
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 1/4 cup dates
1 cup dried bing cherries
Chop the almonds in a food processor until you have a mix of chunk sizes. Add cocoa and pulse once. Add dates and cherries and pulse until well combined. Line a loaf pan with wax or parchment paper, press fruit and nut mixture into the pan and press down firmly. Remove from the pan, cut into bars, and wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper, tie with string.
store in airtight container inside the refrigerator or freezer.
Mexican Chocolate Snack Bars1 1/4 c chopped dates
1 c toasted almonds
1/2 c toasted walnuts (toast nuts in a pan on medium high heat for a few minutes)
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
*same directions as above
Blueberry Snack Bar1 cup pitted dates rough chopped
1 cup dried blueberries (or other dried fruit such as cherries, apricots, cranberries)
1 cup nuts such as walnuts or pecans
Zest of 1/2 a lemon (optional depending on type of fruit used)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*Same Directions as above

Friday, May 20, 2011

FRUGAL FRIDAY - BROWNIE MIX


This is another one of those Frugal Friday posts that can be considered frugal, if you typically buy higher quality brownie mixes, or for when brownie mixes are not on sale for 89 cents! The best part about making your own brownie mix is that you know what 's in there. There's not any unnecessary ingredients. You can customize this recipe with add ins such as chocolate chips or nuts, but I prefer to keep it plain until I prepare the mix, then decide if I want to add anything into it.
There is a certain flavor and texture to boxed brownies that you don't quite get with a homemade brownie (some may consider this a good thing, others love the boxed stuff). I was perfectly happy with these brownies!

BROWNIE MIX                         makes one 8x8 pan (16 brownies)
recipe from here


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder or nonfat milk powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup add-ins, such as chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

In a medium bowl (or deli container), combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, buttermilk powder, baking powder, salt, and whisk (or shake) to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips and add-ins (if using). Store airtight.

To make fudgy brownies

Brownie Mix (above)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Dump the Brownie Mix into a bowl. Add the oil, water, vanilla, and egg, and stir just to blend.
3. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
Makes 16 brownies

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SOFT WRAP BREAD


I was SOOOO happy with how these wraps turned out! I have tried tortillas in the past with  no luck; they turn out either too dry or too thick and stiff, so I was thinking these wraps might give me similar problems. These "wraps" are more like a thick pita bread, not like a tortilla, and I think that's what makes them so much easier to work with. Some tortillas I've tried to make have also turned out thick, but doughy in the middle. Not these; they're light, but have a tiny chew to them. 
They do call for potato flour, which may be hard for some to come by, but I just ground up some dried potato "pearls" to make my own. According to the recipe, you can also use potato flakes.
I served them with marinated chicken strips inside, but now I'm excited to try them out with all kinds of goods tucked inside, not to mention using them to sop up soup and sauces! My kids would love them as a warm PB&J sandwich!

SOFT WRAP BREAD             makes 8 (8" round)


3 cups all-purpose-flour (I used 2 C. a/p & 1 C. wheat flour)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup potato buds or flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast 
1) To make the bread: Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and the remaining 1 cup of flour with the salt, oil and yeast.
3) Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough. Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it’s not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. (It takes a while to work this all in, work the last in by hand if needed) Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled.
4) Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour.
5) Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes.
6) Roll each piece into a 7″- to 8″-circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) over medium heat for about 1 minute per side, until they’re puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out.

7) Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. (I just stacked mine in a clean kitchen towel). Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.

Friday, May 13, 2011

FRUGAL FRIDAY - COLORED SUGAR


A little late, but here it is; frugal friday.  Maybe I'm cheap, but I've always had a hard time paying for sprinkles and colored sugars for decorating cakes and cookies; they're a rip. Well, this is a real money-saver!  Making your own colored sugar couldn't be easier or cheaper! And, you can make it any color of the rainbow. This is something the kids will have fun helping you with too.

COLORED SUGAR


white sugar
food coloring (liquid or gel*)
plastic sandwich bag

Place desired amount of sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Add 1-3 drops of food coloring. Squeeze out all air, and massage the color into the sugar until no clumps remain.

*Results were slightly better with the gel, as it the liquid made the sugar a little "crispy" and the gel made it a little softer. I don't this really matters; just an observation. The granules stayed separated just as well with both types of coloring.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TACO SALAD ON CORNBREAD WAFFLES


Taco salad is a good old stand-by for us. Everyone likes it, and we usually have everything on hand to make it. This time however, we were out of tortilla chips and I wasn't about to run to the store to get some in the pouring rain. You can't have taco salad without the "taco" part right? I got brainstorming and wondered how it would taste to put it on top of cornbread waffles? Delicious!! What a fun way to switch up a classic.

TACO SALAD ON CORNBREAD WAFFLES

My taco salad recipe can be found here

Cornbread Waffles:
recipe adapted from here


1 ½ cups plain cornmeal 
½ cup flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 ½ cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat a waffle iron and grease it lightly.
In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, and butter. Add to the cornmeal mixture, stirring until moistened.
Pour 1/2 cup measures into the waffle iron and cook until crisp. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm. Makes 12 servings.

Friday, May 6, 2011

FRUGAL FRIDAY - ALUMINUM-FREE BAKING POWDER


Photo from Chiot's Run via Flickr


I am learning so much by doing these "Frugal Fridays"! Who knew you can make your own aluminum-free baking powder? (Many probably, but not me!) 
It uses just two ingredients, if used immediately, and just three ingredients if stored.  Here is where I got the recipe.

ALUMINUM-FREE BAKING POWDER              TOTAL COST: PENNIES (IF THAT)
makes 1 Tbsp. baking powder


1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. corn starch (if storing)

Mix baking soda and cream of tartar together until well combined and use immediately, or, add cornstarch to store for later use.

Monday, May 2, 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING


Wow, this is a rich cake! We got a major blood sugar spike from this one. (Probably doesn't help that we had been fasting all day!) And, maybe if we had some portion control that wouldn't have happened! Needless to say, it was good. This is a good time to use the homemade brown sugar from my blog just a few posts ago : )  The frosting is what makes this so rich. If you're not a frosting lover, I would recommend thinning the frosting and using it sparingly. 



CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING
recipe from Mormon Country Cooking 


cake:
1/2 C. all-vegetable shortening
1/2 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 C. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 C. flour, stirred and measured
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. chocolate chips

Cream together shortening and sugars. Add eggs; beat well. Add evaporated milk and vanilla alternately with sifted dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes in two 8-inch layer cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper, then greased. Cool completely and frost as desired with Brown Sugar Frosting.


brown sugar frosting:
1/2 C. butter
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1/4 C. milk
3 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In saucepan melt butter. Add brown sugar; cook over med.-low heat for 2 minutes, stirring. Add milk; continue to cook until mixture comes to a boil (may need to slightly increase heat). Remove from heat. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add vanilla; mix well. Thin, if necessary, with a few drops milk.