Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins

It isn't a secret that we're broke and do everything in our power to save money, including picking our own fruit and making it into jam. Amanda went blueberry picking with her mom and brought us back a ridiculous amount of blueberries. We made two cases of jam and still have a million berries to eat! In good broke gal fashion we are not about to let them go bad! We have been eating lots of blueberry pancakes and our Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins just came out of the oven!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • powdered sugar
  • lemon juice

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and sugar. In another bowl mix together the butter, egg and milk. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until combine. Add the blueberries and give it a gentle stir to not burst the berries. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way full and bake for about 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar and lemon juice. We don't glaze all the muffins, as Amanda prefers them without the glaze. So how much sugar and juice you use depend on how many muffins you want glazed. Tip: You will need much more powdered sugar than lemon juice. Start with a very small amount of juice, you can always add more (why can I never remember this when I am making them?)

When the muffins have cooled completely, spoon your lemon glaze over the muffins and let stand until the glaze is hardened. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Starry Night Inspired Office

I love designing rooms and playing around with colors and furniture. I cannot wait to have a huge house, so I can fill it with DIY projects and paint every room around a cool picture or an awesome painting. Tonight I was inspired by van Gogh's Starry Night. I used the Behr Color Smart Center and chose colors to match the painting. I think this would be great for an office with a lot of windows. I would paint the walls this nice bright blue and get an old vintage desk and paint it light yellow. White trim around the windows and doors is a must and maybe a small chocolate brown sofa in the office as well. This would be beautiful in a large bedroom too, very romantic!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Four Ingredient Chocolate Pie

Thanks for stopping by! You picked a great day to check out my blog, today's post involves my favorite chocolate pie! This pie is so easy to make, and the flavor is so chocolaty and decadent.

Amanda's parents don't really cook. They have a few staple meals, most of which are desserts. But maybe there's something to having a few staple meals, because the ones they do cook are always tasty and this is her Mom's chocolate pie recipe.

Here's what you'll need:
2 packages of cook and serve chocolate pudding (4oz)
3 1/2 cups of milk
1/3 cup of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of butter

That's it! Oh... and the pie crust of your choosing. I like the pre-made dough that you just roll out and bake. So maybe its a five ingredient pie, you be the judge. 

Combine all ingredients and cook on medium heat until it comes to a full boil. Stir constantly. Take off the heat and cool for five minutes. Pour mixture into completely cooled crust and refrigerate for a few hours or until the pie is set. 

What's your favorite pie? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chocolate S'mores

I love summer, and I love summery foods. Hamburgers, baked beans, fresh salads and my favorite, S'mores! When we moved into this apartment we were bummed about having a gas stove. We both grew up with electric and it took us a while to get used to having the open flame and the differences in cooking times. One good thing came out of that open flame, though...toasting marshmallows!

This s'more has a chocolate graham cracker for that extra chocolate flavor. I like my marshmallows burnt and crispy!

Hot Meter! My Favorite Olympic Uniforms

Amanda and I have lived together for nine months. We do a lot together, cook dinner, watch TV, go grocery shopping...pretty much everything. I always knew she liked the Olympics, but you would think she knew someone competing in every event! She gets so into it, it is kinda cute. I'm not a big sports fan, and she likes sports less than I do, which is what makes this whole Olympic experience so funny! She wants me to be as excited as she is about this Olympics and I am keeping my energy level up...GO USA!

After taking a trip to the outlet mall last week and spending all of our 'fun' money for the month, in a way I'm glad the Olympics have Amanda in a trance. For the next 17 days we have a fun and free event 24/7!

I love fashion, which is not conducive to our Two Broke Gals lifestyle. So if I am going to be watching the Olympics, I had to find a way to make it fun for me.  Here are my top five favorite outfits from the opening ceremonies:

5. In fifth place we have the Bahamas, I appreciated how classy the outfits were. I liked the light blue jackets, it didn't look like they tried too hard. It was the right amount of class for the event.

4. Serbia gets fourth because the look is very Hamptons! Some day when we are Two Rich Gals, and can afford a house in the Hamptons we will have to get the designer of the Serbian team to make us some outfits!

3. Denmark got it right. I love a good cardigan, and those short red ones really work for the athletic bodies and the high-waisted skirt. I think the pearls were a nice touch. I would wear that outfit to work! 

2. The Netherlands- Huge fan of the trench coats! I love the bright blue in contrast with the bright orange. I think they stood out amongst the crowd and just looked so fashion forward. I want to move to Denmark and rock the shit out of that orange coat!

1. Brazil brought the heat, those Olympians looks damn sexy in the Brazilian uniforms. I loved the mix of neon yellow and green, I thought the outfits looked fun, and everyone seemed to enjoy wearing them. I think Brazil wore the outfits, they didn't get worn by them... cough cough like the US (what were you think Ralph Lauren?). 

Sound off in the comments below, what country wore it best? Am I crazy or was the US a HOT ASS MESS?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tzatziki Dip

Wow, it has been a while since we were last blogging! I guess with the summer sun we have spent more time outside and less time sitting on our butts in front of the computer. That is probably a good thing but I missed sharing recipes and things with you guys! We have been eating lots of summer foods and have an abundance of cucumbers. Thus: Tzatziki Dip!

All of a sudden, I am completely obsessed with Greek food. I didn't like olives until about six months ago, and I would normally choose almost any cheese over feta. I don't know when it happened but now I eat, sleep and breathe tzatziki dip. I love the dill and cucumber flavors with the bite of the lemon juice and the Greek yogurt. It is just a perfect blend of many flavors. 

You will need: 
2 large cucumbers
2 cups of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of dill weed
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon course salt

Peel and chunk your cucumbers, then put them in a colander sprinkled with a little bit of the salt and let them release some water for about twenty minutes. Once the cucumbers are ready, pat them dry with a paper towel and put them in a food processor with everything but the yogurt. Once the mixture is well blended, stir it into a bowl with the Greek yogurt. Taste the dip and season with more salt as necessary. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more before serving. I made the mistake of tasting it, and adding more dill. After it sat for a few hours the flavors really popped and mine was too 'dilly'.  

I really like the cucumber flavor and the crunch, so I like to use thin slices of cucumber to eat my dip. Pairing it with pita bread is nice too, it becomes a much heartier snack.

Let us know what you think of this great Greek dish! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Ice Cream Edition

There's this ice cream place down the street.  We don't go there often since we can make delicious sundaes at home for a small fraction of the price, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about my favorite sundae there.  Sometimes I just drive by and stare longingly out the car window.

They have a variety of specialty sundaes, a good list of 25 or so to choose from.  Shelle and I have experimented a bit with some different items off the menu, but we just keep coming back to one:  The Moose Track Monster.

Moose Tracks is a delicious flavor of hard ice cream all on its own - a creamy vanilla with huge chunks of fudge and mini peanut butter cups.  Our favorite sundae takes these flavors and amps them all up.  Hot fudge and peanut butter sauce are poured over the ice cream, more mini peanut butter cups are sprinkled generously over the top, and the whole thing is topped with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and a cherry.

I can't write any more.  I'm starting to drool.

What's the best ice cream you ever ate?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

These Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers are so flavorful and hearty, even the biggest meat-eater wouldn't miss the beef!

We went to the local farmer's market this weekend and the green peppers looked awesome and were so cheap. We picked up five peppers for three dollars. What a steal!

Of course I planned on making some tasty stuffed peppers! Usually I put meat and white rice in them with some spaghetti sauce and seasonings. Because Amanda is a vegetarian and we wanted a healthy alternative, this recipe calls for brown rice and corn rather than meat.

Here's what you'll need for four stuffed peppers:

4 bell peppers
2 cups of brown rice
1 cup of corn
1 cup of grated and squeezed zucchini
2 cups of spaghetti sauce
A dash of garlic powder
A dash of black pepper
Mozzarella Cheese

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients minus the peppers and the cheese. If the mixture isn't saucy enough for you, add more! When the filling looks good, spoon it inside your peppers and put them in a baking dish. Cover peppers with aluminum foil and bake for half an hour at 375. Take the aluminum foil off the peppers and cover them with mozzarella cheese. Bake them for about another twenty minutes or until the cheese is brown on the edges.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our Four Favorite Independent Films on Independence Day

Shelle and I watch a lot of movies.  We've accumulated a decent collection over the years, and we often borrow new favorites from friends and the library.  Overall, it's not a bad habit for broke gals to have.  Although a good movie is fun just about any time, we have a tendency to settle in with a quality movie marathon when we have the day off for a holiday.  We've already shared with you our Ten Romantic Comedies for Memorial Day Weekend, and today we present our favorite independent films on Independence Day.

Here, in no particular order, are the four we're watching this Fourth of July:

Amanda says:  Remember my love for Meryl Streep?  It totally extends to George Clooney too.  I've loved him ever since I saw reruns of that season of "The Facts of Life."  Never before had I more wished that the Eastland School was not fictional and that my parents had enough money to enroll me there.  Anyways, I thought the movie was amazing regardless of Mr. Clooney's level of perfection, and believe it was totally worthy of all of the Oscar buzz it generated.  The movie managed to seamlessly weave together several story lines while having them all connect in the end, and I'm pretty sure I felt all of the same emotions as the characters as we discovered the plot twists together.

Shelle says:  Who wouldn't like this movie? George Clooney's in it!  He's the epitome of hotness.  I really liked this movie because it had an honest quality to it.  I appreciated that it wasn't all rainbows and happiness but it was still emotional.  I also really liked the little girl - she reminded me of Lilo from "Lilo and Stitch"!  Overall it was a good movie, it surpassed my expectations and I think it should have beat out "The Artist" for the Oscars or whatever during the awards season (not that I saw "The Artist" but it's a silent film.  Come on.  Nothing beats George Clooney.)

Amanda says:  I will freely admit, the first time I watched this movie it was only because all the cool kids were doing it, and I was very confused.  I will also freely admit that the second time I watched this movie, I loved it and made plans to watch it again and again and again.  It made me think and still does, even after so many viewings.  I appreciate the non-linear way in which the story is told, and it forces me to pay attention and try to piece it all together in my head.  I will also forever wish I live nearer to an IKEA.

Shelle says:  I think I'm seeing a pattern here.  The reason I like all of these Indie movies is because they're so dark.  I would normally consider myself a happy and bubbly person so it's sort of surprising that I like these not-so-happy endings.  The reason I liked "(500) Days of Summer" is because the ending is unexpected.  After all this time, you sort of think that maybe they'll get lucky and it'll end like every other movie but it doesn't.  It leaves you feeling sad at the end and I appreciate that.  I don't think all movies should leave you with a happy emotion at the end - that's what makes them real.

Amanda says:  As cheesy as it sounds, I love the feel of this movie.  The setting and the colors and the soundtrack just meld so perfectly together it honestly makes me feel a little bit like I'm a guest at that wedding and hanging out on the ocean.  It always makes me want to get together with my group of friends from college too, even though we're not nearly as exciting or dramatic, and certainly lack the "incestuous dating history."  Even more, though, I love the ambiguity of it all.  Like the previous movies on this list, I'm left wondering whether or not I should be pleased with the ending.  It manages to make me feel the same melancholy as many of the characters, and I'll just keep watching it until I figure out whether or not that's a good thing.  Also, the scene where Candice Bergen's character wakes up in the middle of the night proclaiming that it's going to rain?  Priceless.

Shelle says:  I liked this, and it was a good movie.  I especially like how it leaves you wondering - did they get married or didn't they?  There's a part of me that hopes that Anna Paquin's character says forget you to her future husband and finds a new best friend because they clearly have some issues.  I thought the wedding was beautiful - I was a little confused by the purple bridesmaids' dresses and the coral-colored ties on the men, but I loved the setting.  I would love to get married on the ocean someday!

Amanda says:  I first saw this movie one of my first few days at college, and I will always remember how hard I laughed, even at a point in my life when I still wasn't totally certain about where I was and who I was with.  The characters in this movie are all equally memorable, as is the final scene in which the family joins each other in dancing on stage at the pageant.  If only my own dysfunctional family was this funny.

Shelle says:  How cute is Abigail Breslin in this movie?  She has a face that only me and a mother could love.  I loved the grandfather and I thought it was adorable how inspiring he was for her and how inspiring she was to him in the same sense.  It had me laughing, crying, and everything in between.  Overall, it was a great movie!

What independent films are your favorites?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

English Muffin Pizzas

When we were in elementary school, my brother and I used to love half days of school.  Sure, getting out around eleven and having a free afternoon was always a good thing, but the real draw was in the lunch my mom would prepare for us: English Muffin Pizzas.

We ate english muffins pretty regularly, usually for breakfast with peanut butter or strawberry jelly.  Pizza was no rare treat either - as I've mentioned before, my parents have had a weekly Friday pizza tradition for at least as long as I've been around.  For some reason though, combining these two ordinary foods together just made magic in our minds.

And in mine, it still kinda does.

Trying to be frugal and still eat well can be tricky at times, so Shelle and I are always on the look out for sales.  Pretty frequently, our local grocery chain will have buy one, get two free deals on english muffins, and we always take that as an opportunity to stock up.  English muffins keep well in the freezer, so why not?  We always have pizza sauce on hand, and mozzarella cheese is a must in our fridge.  Sometimes I'll add black olives to mine, or Shelle will top hers with ham and pineapple.

Although we don't have the luxury of half days off of school anymore, English Muffin Pizzas haven't stopped being easy, cheap, or just plain delicious.  We'll combine them with a nice salad for a quick week night dinner, or just make a couple up for a light lunch or late night snack.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Good evening! 

You will probably be hearing from me (Shelle) a lot these next few days. The Olympic Trials are on, so Amanda is in a trance. The Olympics were never really a big deal in my house, but in her family the world stops! I bet her parents used their vacation days just to watch the Olympics.

Anyways, we just finished dinner. Oh my god, it was sooooo good! We made a Spaghetti Squash Bake. We have been eating like crap lately, lots of smores and wine on vacation, so it was time to make something healthy, without compromising the flavor. 

We took one spaghetti squash, cut it in half, and roasted it in the oven at 375 for about half an hour. When it was done, we took a fork to it and scraped the squash off the sides and into a bowl. In that bowl we added half a box of frozen spinach and a grated zucchini. We squeezed some of the liquid out of both the spinach and the zucchini before adding it to the bowl. 

To the mixture we added almost a full jar of spaghetti sauce and put it in an 8 by 8 pan. We covered the mixture with a small amount of mozzarella cheese and baked it at 375 degrees for about half an hour until the cheese was brown.

It seriously tasted just like baked ziti. You can't taste the veggies, and the texture of the squash is similar to pasta. I think we will keep this one in the repertoire!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Peacock Inspired Room

We went on vacation with my family this past week and rented an awesome house in the Adirondacks.  It was super relaxing! We even saw a black bear! But that wasn't the only cool animal we saw. I took an awesome picture of a peacock we visited in a zoo and it inspired me to design a room around it. We currently live in a tiny two bedroom apartment and we're broke so there isn't a whole lot we can do. We do like to dream, though, and keep a big book full of ideas and pictures as we come across them. My peacock-inspired room ideas are definitely going into that book.  I can't wait to use these colors in a swanky living room, or maybe a romantic bedroom. 

I think I would paint the walls tan, get a really cool dark blue couch, a nice yellow patterned chair, and some turquoise accent vases! 

How cool is this picture?!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How Do You Cook Corn?

I grew up surrounded by corn.  Literally.  There was a dairy farm down the street, and one of their corn fields ran parallel to my yard.  We used to run around the fields and play hide and seek.  Even so, however, I have no idea how to cook corn on the cob.  We ate it regularly and, while I was in charge of husking the corn on the front porch, my mom was the corn cooking master.  Whatever she says, goes, and, while this is true in pretty much every aspect of our lives, she's particularly particular about her corn.  (And hamburgers, but that's a story for another time.)

So the moral of the story is: I don't know how to cook corn.  The only wisdom my mom imparted to me is a story she tells every time we eat corn about how we once visited one of her college friends and she put the corn on to cook right before we all left to go to a playground down the road.  We were at the park for an hour, probably, and the corn was still cooking when we got back.  Mom thinks that's way too long to cook corn, and she'll be willing to tell you so any chance she has.

Shelle and I have been enjoying some corn this season (not yet fresh from farm stands, but we're getting there), and when it came time to cook it, neither of us were sure quite what to do.  A quick internet search yielded a variety of results - put the corn in and then bring it to a boil, bring the water to a boil and then put the corn in, cook it for one minute, cook it for ten minutes, you get the idea.  We basically ignored it all and went with our gut feeling - and it was wrong.  Our corn is weird.  It's either overdone or underdone, but we can't tell which.  It's weirdly chewy, not crisp like corn should be.  So this begs a question to all of you: How do you cook corn?

Maybe I'd better just call my mother.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Frugal Friday: My Favorite Ice Cream Sundae

Hi folks!

Weird, I never use the word folks. I was looking back and every time I greet you people I say "Hi everyone" and that was getting today, you are folks.

As you know, we eat a lot of ice cream. There is an amazing ice cream stand down the street from us, but it is sort of expensive and we are sort of poor. So we only let ourselves go to the ice cream stand when someone is visiting and we want to show it off. Sad, I know, but when you're broke it is the little things that make a huge difference and spending five bucks on ice cream is five dollars we could have put towards our student loan debt.

Anyway, we eat a lot of ice cream at home, and it can get boring really quickly when it is just carton after carton with no toppings or anything fun. So we started experimenting with different things in the house to top our ice cream. The Fresh Strawberry Sauce was a good one, but now that strawberry season is coming to a close, we are back to our old friend...peanut butter!

We love peanut butter, and melted on ice cream is the best way to eat it! It hardens a little bit when it touches the ice cream and every bite is just delicious! I like to add some chocolate syrup and peanut M&Ms too. Amanda is a big Cool Whip fan, but I prefer the whipped cream. It is clearly better!

Sound off in the comments section below...oil or cream?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Chicken

Amanda is a vegetarian, and I am not. I eat a lot of vegetarian meals, but sometimes a girl just needs some meat. Chicken is by far my favourite and it is so easy to make on the side of a vegetarian dinner! When I buy chicken, I usually get a big bulk pack because the unit price is significantly cheaper than buying the smaller packs. I spend the time upfront and clean all of the chicken breasts and package them individually into sandwich bags, then when I want some chicken it is ready to go!
I like to experiment with flavors, but I always come back to barbecue. We live in a small apartment with no yard, so cooking chicken on a grill is out of the question. I use a large skillet and cube the chicken and add a little bit of olive oil. I like my chicken over cooked and crispy brown, so I cook it for about 15 minutes on medium-high heat. Right before the chicken is done, I add about 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 to 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce, a sprinkle of garlic powder and some red pepper flakes, I like it spicy. Let the sauce bubble and reduce for a minute or so before turning off the heat.
If you like more or less sauce on your chicken, you can change the ratio of sauce, sometimes I like to add in more of the sauce and have the chicken over rice.
This chicken does not disappoint! I had it last night with some corn on the cobb and salt potatoes, yum!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Frugal Friday: Swiffer Solution

It's a Frugal Friday!

Today's Frugal Friday tip is a recipe for the swiffer solution. We have all hard wood floors in our apartment and they can be a bitch to keep clean. It seems like every other day they need to be swept and swiffered. We were going through a lot of the solution and did not want to spend what little cash we had on swiffer cleaner.

After a little research on how to make cleaning products, we came up with this:

1 cup of water
1/4 cup of vinegar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of scented oil

Every year when people don't know what to buy us for Christmas, we end up with an abundance of candles and scented oils. Don't get me wrong, I love candles and think they are wonderful gifts, but this house would smell like a weird garden with baked goods and cinnamon and fresh cotton if we used them all. So we decided to get creative and use the scented oil in the swiffer solution - it certainly helps to cover up the vinegar smell!.

We just keep refilling the bottle that originally came with our swiffer, so we just make a little at a time.  Good thing it's so easy!  If you are having a hard time getting the top off the swiffer solution bottle, try soaking it in really hot water, this should loosen it enough to unscrew.

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hash Brown Casserole

Remember when we made potato salad a little while ago?  We bought a pretty good sized bag of potatoes at the time, and we still had a few left we wanted to use up before they go bad.  And what's a great way to use up potatoes?  Throw them in a casserole!

This casserole is an old standby in my family, and we like to eat is as a main dish for weeknight dinners or as a side dish for holiday meals.  It's creamy and delicious, and it warms up really well in the microwave to make leftover lunches.  We eat it in winter and summer, pretty much any chance we get.  I'm telling you, you can't go wrong!

Here's what you'll need:

about 4 large potatoes, shredded
1 cup of sour cream
1 can of condensed potato soup
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Throw all of the ingredients minus 1/2 cup of the shredded cheddar into a bowl and stir.  Once the ingredients are well mixed, pour them into a greased 8x8 pan.  Top with the remaining shredded cheddar and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the cheese on top begins to brown.

If you're short on time, you can prepare the casserole ahead and let it sit in the fridge.  Just pop it out and into the oven an hour before you want to eat and you'll be good to go.  And if you have left overs, you can reheat the whole dish in the oven or spoon a bit into a bowl and warm it in the microwave.  That's what I'm doing for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Cake (From Scratch!)

I was raised on box mixes.  Cakes, brownies, macaroni and cheese - you name it, and if it came in a box, that's the version we ate in my house.  I imagine it was for convenience, it sounds like it would be time-consuming and difficult to make something from scratch (at least to me, who probably didn't even learn the meaning of the word until middle school).  But it's a bit more expensive too, and being broke just doesn't afford me the luxuries of counting on Betty Crocker to do my dirty work.

I decided to master one thing at a time, and began my adventures into baking from scratch with a chocolate cake.  I figured I'd use the Hershey's recipe since, well, Hershey's is basically synonymous with chocolate.  I found it here, and was certainly not disappointed.  At first it seemed a little funny to me, a born and raised box mix girl, but I needn't have worried.  I totally second-guessed Hershey's (I know, who do I think I am?  They're the ultimate chocolate authority!) about adding the boiling water in at the end, and it made my batter super runny (basically a brown liquid), but the recipe has never failed me.  Cakes back up wonderfully, and they're moist and delicious.  It tastes better than using a box mix, is probably healthier, and sounds a lot fancier too.  Plus it's cheaper!

I used this mix last week to bake up some cupcakes.  We had strawberries coming out our ears at that point, so I cooked up a little of our Strawberry Sauce to fill them.  I added a little extra cornstarch so it gelled up a bit more, then cut the tops off the cupcakes.  I scooped out the centers (and promptly ate them, of course) and spooned in some of the strawberry filling before placing the tops back on.  I frosted them with some buttercream frosting, and then decorated the top with a chocolate-covered strawberry.  Yum!  The only thing wrong with this dessert is that fresh strawberry season is far too short!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Amanda's favorite food is ice cream. I'm pretty sure she would sell her soul if there was a shortage.
And the addiction runs in her family - there was a time when it seemed like every time I came to visit we went out for ice cream. (I am not complaining by any means, but I prefer other desserts - chocolate chip cookies are probably my favorite.) After picking so many strawberries for jam, we had a bunch left over. We are way too broke to let anything go to waste, so we made a really tasty strawberry sauce to put on top of Amanda's favorite dessert!

We took about a cup of cut strawberries and added them to a sauce pan with about a teaspoon of lemon juice. Once the strawberries were warm and their juice had accumulated on the bottom of the pan, we added in about three tablespoons of sugar and about a tablespoon of corn starch. We just cooked the sauce on medium heat until it was thick and bubbly. You can always add more or less corn starch depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Ice Cold Wine!

I like wine...a lot. In the summer Amanda and I tend to drink a glass or two with dinner. The problem is that summer is always so hot, and our wine gets warm easily. Who wants to water down their wine with ice cubes? Not me! So I thought about different things I could do to keep my wine cold, and then it hit me! Frozen fruit! Amanda and I always eat frozen green grapes on really hot days, and we have an abundance of strawberries from our jam-making extravaganza. So I threw some grapes and cut-up strawberries in the freezer.

It kept my wine cold and by the end of the glass, the fruit had thawed and tasted delicious! Frozen fruit dresses up a glass of wine and looks so classy! I am all about it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Frugal Friday Tip: Homemade Pizza

My parents have a thing for pizza.  Every Friday night at about 5:00 my dad calls to order it, then leaves the house to pick it up around 5:20.  You could set your watch by it.  Normally it's a large cheese pizza, plain and simple, two if my brother or Shelle and I are home visiting.  On special occasions, maybe they'll get pepperoni or sausage or green peppers and olives.  If they're really living it up, they'll get chicken wings too.

Now my parents probably spend between 10 and 20 dollars a week on pizza alone.  Even if it's only $10, that's still over a solid $500 per year they spend on pizza.  As a broke gal, that's sometimes more money than I can comprehend.

I was raised on Friday pizza, and it isn't something so easy to give up.  But Shelle and I don't have the $500 a year to shell out, so we've had to get a little creative.  We started buying pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store for about $2, and that certainly helped to cut our costs.  But now we've done it one better - homemade pizza dough, from scratch.

It's a pretty easy recipe, even though I was initially frightened by the yeast.  The idea of knowingly and willingly throwing a live bacteria-like substance into my food scared me off a little, but I bit the bullet and boy, was it worth it.  This dough is super easy to make, and it freezes really well.  When I know I'm going to be around all day, I tend to make a few batches at once and toss them in the freezer so we'll have dough ready to pull out whenever we have a craving for Friday pizza.  Just put the dough in the fridge in the morning or on the counter a few hours before you plan to eat, and you'll be good to go!

To make the dough, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar into 1 1/2 cups of water.  The water should be just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so it should feel warm to the touch but not hot.  Once the sugar is dissolved, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast onto the water.  Let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes until it's all foamy on top of the water.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir.

Now add 3 cups of all-purpose flour one at a time, and stir well between each addition.  Use an additional 1/2 cup of flour to dust your kneading surface (I like to knead on a cookie sheet - much easier clean-up!), and put the dough onto the surface.  Knead for about five minutes or until most of the flour is worked in and the dough forms a smooth ball.  Put the ball of dough into a bowl well-greased with olive oil, and then cover it with a clean towel.  Leave it for about an hour, or until it's doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and form it back into a ball.  At this point, I normally divide the batch in half and have enough dough to make two 12-inch pizzas, but if you like a thicker crust or are planning to use a bigger pan, you may want to leave the dough all together.  Form the dough into log shapes and place them on a floured cookie sheet.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Now you're ready to make your pizza.  Roll your dough out however you'd like - Shelle tends to use a rolling pin, and I like to pull and stretch until it's about the right size for the pan.  If you're feeling particularly adventurous, toss it around a little and take a minute to revel in your awesomeness.  Dress and decorate your pizza however you'd like, and you're good to go!  And all for way cheaper than ordering out every week!

I'll have to teach you a thing or two, Mom and Dad!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes

All I can say is YUM! I came home from work today and Amanda was in the kitchen making up a new concoction.  Sometimes this works out better than others, but today was a wonderful surprise...Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes! She took our usual homemade chocolate cake mix and baked the cupcakes. When they cooled, she took a knife and carved out the middle. She used our cookie dough dip as the filling and placed the carved piece back on the top. Amanda is the frosting master and made homemade buttercream for the top. These cupcakes are absolutely delicious, cookie dough has to be one of my favorite foods for sure. Just by looking at the cupcake you would never know there was a nugget of delight in the take a bite and yum...cookie dough just fills your mouth! Amanda, the mad scientist, won this one for sure!! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Pie

Nothing says June like strawberries, I say.  It's pretty much the best fruit ever, and it's a real shame the season is so short.  Shelle and I have been picking strawberries like it's our job, and we're planning to do so much with them!  We'll definitely have our Strawberry Feta Spinach Salad again, it's so much better with fresh berries.  And Shelle's already had her favorite - strawberry shortcake.  We've been making jam like crazy.  This afternoon, though, I made the one thing I wait all year for: strawberry pie.

My mom makes this pie once every June, and I definitely plan to continue this tradition (except maybe make it twice.  Or thrice.  Four times?)  It's a quick and easy pie to whip up, and it goes so well with any kind of summer food.  We ate it with corn on the cob and salt potatoes for dinner tonight, just after I finished up the last of my papers for the school year!  Now it really feels like summer!

My mom always uses one of the refrigerated crusts she buys in the grocery store, but we went all out and made one from scratch.  It doesn't matter what you do, so just pick your favorite crust - the strawberries are the real star here!  Start with a quart of berries, which is equal to four cups.  Hull and wash them, and then separate out three cups of the berries.  Leave these berries whole (unless there are a few that are super large, then you may wish to cut them in half), and lay them in the completely cooled crust.  Put the other cup of berries into a pan, and crush them with a potato masher.  Add 3/4 cup of cold water, and cook and stir for about four minutes.  Add in 1 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, and a teaspoon of lemons juice.  Make sure to keep stirring, and cook until it's thick and bubbly.  Pour the mixture over the whole berries in the crust and you're good to go!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Yum! We just finished a delicious bowl of the easiest strawberry shortcake ever! We used an easy and cheap Bisquick mix where you just add milk. Added some sugar to the berries and covered it all in whipped cream!

Since we're broke, instead of going to the store and buying quarts of berries, we went to a strawberry patch and picked them ourselves. Ten pounds later and we are home having some tasty desserts! Tomorrow the plan is to make a strawberry pie. Check back for that recipe!

What is your favorite strawberry dessert?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mod Podge Magnet Board

I had these friends in college I used to meet up with in the dining hall at dinner a couple nights a week.  I've often wondered if the creators of "The Big Bang Theory" were sitting at the next table over, since I'm pretty sure they were the inspiration for all of the characters (I like to think I'm the Penny of that crowd, of course, but I sense Shelle might have an entirely different opinion).  Anyway, they once had a several week-long debate about which invention has had the most impact on human life: plastic, penicillin, or the internet.  Well, boys, I've got a new one for you:

Mod Podge.

That stuff can do some seriously amazing things.  It's like glue, but on steroids and way more awesome.  I've used it a lot, especially recently, but I still can't get over the way it not only holds things together, but also forms such a smooth and finished surface over the top of paper and makes something we throw together on a whim in our living room look so professional.  (I'm also intrigued by the warning labels, but I figure since it's ingredients are thought to cause cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm only in California and I live on the opposite side of the country I'll totally be okay.  (I do know that's not how it really works, but let me live happily in denial!))

Shelle and I headed to a graduation party this weekend for an old family friend (we're bringing couscous salad) and, since we're broke to the point that any money we could afford to stick in a card would be laughable, we decided to break out the Mod Podge and get our craft on.  Leigh is headed to college in the fall, and we wanted to give her something that would help liven up a drab dorm room, but also help her to stay organized.  Thus, our Mod Podge Magnet Board was born.  And the best part - it cost us even less than a couple bucks!

The only thing we had to go out and buy was a pizza pan, which we got at Walmart for 92 cents, everything else we already had in our crafting bins.  We simply cut some scrapbook paper to fit the pan, glued it on with a thin layer of Mod Podge, and then Mod Podged over the top (if Mod Podge is not already a verb, it clearly should be).  We dressed it up a little more with some ribbon hot-glued onto the board, and then added magnets made out of scrapbook paper Mod Podged onto tiles that spelled out her name.  We finished it up with a ribbon hot glued to the back so Leigh can hang it right up when she's settling in to her new digs in late August.  Congrats, Leigh!  We hope you like it!

Are you getting crafty for graduation party season?  Let us know what you're planning in the comments below!