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Blog Posts on My Frugal Life:

Double chocolate cookies
Sunday, March 13, 2011 | By leftthesanebehind

here is a recipe i use all the time for my family. The trick is to not over back these cookies they are soft and chewy!.

Preheat oven to 350 F

1 cup white flour

1/8 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 shortening (do not subsitute for butter or margarine)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Sift together flour cocoa powder, soda and salt . Cream shortening and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla. Blend thoroughly. Add sifted ingredients blend in chocolate chips. Drop form teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 mins (do not over bake) makes 24-48 cookies depending on size.

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Death by Chocolate Again: The Countless Lives of Chocoholics
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 | By begonia

I participated in the 6th Annual Death by Chocolate event at my local public library this past weekend. (See my Feb. 21, 2010 blog, “Death by Chocolate.") Again guests were met at the door by a tuxedo clad volunteer. Live music played in the background as tasters sampled chocolate in all its forms—cakes, tortes, cheese cakes, brownies, cookies, candy, and even trifle. All this was made sweeter because this is a FREE event for the tasters!  A generous supply of bottled water (stacked on a book cart!) was available to cleanse palates.

Each guest was asked to pick a category and taste the entire selection of that table before casting a vote. There were nine other entries in my category which included anything chocolate that wasn’t cake, cookies, cheese cake, or brownies.

I had tried a new combination of truffle flavors (my usuals are almond, pecan, lemon, orange, rum, and peppermint) at Christmas time because I ran out of chocolate chips the day I was making candy to donate to the Friends of the Library Cookie Walk. I had picked up a number of packages of Nestles peanut butter and milk chocolate chips at my favorite surplus grocery store (at under a dollar per package), and  I had some honey roasted peanuts in the house as well. So I used what I had on hand to create this new (to me) truffle flavor combo and called them Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cup Truffles!

These truffles have the winning combination of salty and sweet PLUS chocolate and peanut butter! People seemed to like them, which resulted in my winning the People’s Choice Award in my category. Here is the recipe if you would like to make them at home. These truffles are easy to make and only require a few ingredients and a microwave.

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cup Truffles

8 ounces Nestles peanut butter and milk chocolate morsels (use a small food scale to weigh your chocolate)

¼ cup butter (I used unsalted butter.)

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

¼ teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup chopped honey roasted peanuts

Whole peanuts for garnish

1.       Place 24 candy cups in minimuffin tins

2.       Spoon ½ teaspoon chopped peanuts into the bottom of each candy cup.

3.       In a 2-quart microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Microwave at 50% power for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until melted.

4.       Add cream and vanilla extract and beat with an electric handmixer until glossy and slightly thickened. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.

5.       Immediately ladle into paper candy cups.

6.       Garnish with whole honey roasted peanuts and refrigerate until set up.


I like this recipe because I don’t have the mess of forming and dipping the truffles.  I made (and washed dishes after)  5 or 6 batches of candy in the time it took for my VHS copies of Monolith Monsters and When Worlds Collide to play through from trailers to catastrophic conclusions. I broke even on materials because I won $15, which covered the $5 entry fee and the minimal expense of a few extra bags of chips and peanuts. My husband and I had a nice evening tasting great chocolate desserts and catching up with neighbors we hadn’t seen since the snow fell—and then we went out for a romantic dinner of salad! Begonia


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Once a month cooking
Wednesday, February 02, 2011 | By leftthesanebehind

this summer i am taking off from work ( i work at a school) and was planning on starting to cut back, save and otherwise prepare for the two months when i will not be getting paid. I have ran the idea by my DH about OAMC and he thought it was a great idea!. i have a garden and planned it very carefully, hoping for a better growing season than last year( all the rain caused rotten potatoes) And need a few ideas and recipes that others have tried for this OAMC. I plan to shop in early June or may, and start filling the freezer, hence cutting out the grocery bill( or most of it) for July and august. I make awesome Lasagna already, killer stew and some very yummy chicken. Love recipes for OAMC and side dishes to. Just bought a used vacuum sealer and plan on utilizing that as well thanks!

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Entertaining Friends: Personal Pizzas
Monday, January 31, 2011 | By begonia

Entertaining is becoming a lost art for many families. People are getting too busy for people. Or they are just “peopled out” by the time they get home and hit the automatic garage door opener. It is easier to watch television, surf the net (!), or play a video game than invite guests and prepare the house and a meal for them.

It can also be challenging to find one dish that pleases a wide range of ages and preferences. Add vegetarianism and food allergies to the mix, and it can be hard to figure out what to serve guests! The goal is for everyone to feel comfortable and satisfied at the end of the evening. Make-Your-Own personal pizzas are always successful.

I start out by making the crusts. I have a very nice recipe for prebaked yeast crusts that don’t require any rising time and a minimum of handling. This crust freezes well and tastes great. I shared it with a friend who does once-a- month cooking, and it is popular with her large family. My daughter won reserve champion with this recipe at 4-H fair. It will be a winner with your guests, too.

Easy Pizza Crust

  • 1 cup water, warm
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

1.       Combine water, yeast, and sugar and set aside.

2.       Preheat oven to 350°F.

3.       Combine rest of ingredients and add yeast mixture.

4.       Stir well and turn out onto lightly floured board. Knead lightly until firm.

5.       Cover dough with a towel and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

6.       Divide dough into 12 pieces for personal size crusts or leave whole for a normal size pizza crust.

7.       Roll out individual crusts and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or pan dusted with cornmeal. Pierce with a fork.

8.       Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove crusts from oven, brush with oil,  and add toppings.

9.       Raise oven temperature to 450°F. Bake pizzas 10-15 minutes or until done.


  • Vegetables: Green peppers, mushrooms, onions, rehydrated sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, and spinach
  • Meat: Italian or Chorizo Sausage, Pepperonis, Canadian bacon (pineapple!), anchovies, chicken, meatballs, taco meat, hamburger
  • Sauces: Pesto, chunky tomato sauce, seasoned tomato sauce, sour cream, Alfredo sauce
  • Condiments: Greek, black, and green olives, garlic, pickled yellow peppers, capers, olive oil
  • Cheeses: Fontina, parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, grana, queso fresco
  • Seasonings: Italian seasoning mix, oregano, basil, garlic salt, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper

The crusts and toppings can be prepared ahead, giving you time get your house in order! Serve with a green salad and drinks of your choice and you have an occasion for the whole family to enjoy. Begonia


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Scratch Cooking: Slow Cooker Chuck Roast Three Ways
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | By begonia

I learned this very simple method of preparing inexpensive beef chuck roasts years ago and have embroidered on it since!

Basic Beef Pot Roast with Vegetables

  • 2-3 lbs.  beef chuck roast trimmed of visible fat (dredged in a little flour salt and pepper and browned in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil—or not—your choice)
  • 1 envelope dry soup mix (Lipton, Knorr, or store brand onion, leek, or vegetable) or you can make your own by combining 2 tablespoons of beef broth powder with 3 tablespoons dried vegetables or minced dried onions.
  • I medium onion sliced and separated into rings
  • Three medium carrots and potatoes cut into equal-size pieces.

Place the onion rings in the bottom of a medium sized slow cooker and top with meat and sprinkle all with dry soup mix. Top with carrots and potatoes. Put lid on pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When done, meat falling apart and vegetables soft.  Remove meat, potatoes, and carrots and keep warm. Use one of the methods of making gravy from my December 16 blog “Scratch Cooking: Good Gravy.”

Beef Burrito Filling

Follow each of the steps for making pot roast except add

  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  •  ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small can of chopped green chilies or sliced Jalepeños
  •  If you like some heat and a smoky flavor, add a few chopped ancho chiles in adobo sauce.
  • Omit the carrots and potatoes.

Remove meat from crock pot and chop or shred with a couple of forks, removing any bone, gristle, or visible fat. Return shredded/chopped meat to slow cooker and mix with juices and soft vegetables. Serve with warm tortillas with sides of sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, and diced fresh tomatoes.

 Italian Beef Sandwich Filling

Follow each of the steps for making pot roast except add

  •  ½ to ¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

Omit the carrots and potatoes.

Remove meat from crock pot and chop or shred with a couple of forks, removing any bone, gristle, or visible fat. Return shredded/chopped meat to slow cooker and mix with juices and soft vegetables. Serve on hamburger buns or dinner rolls and topped with chopped yellow peperoncini peppers.

These are all excellent recipes for a quick meal when you get home from a busy day. The pot roast is a one-pot meal; just set the table. Serve the burritos with rice and refried beans. The Italian beef only requires a green salad to a make a balanced meal. Enjoy! Begonia


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Baking: Peanut Butter Blossoms
Monday, January 03, 2011 | By begonia

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies! I made Peanut Butter Blossoms today. The house is full of the smell of chocolate and peanut butter as I write this. The recipe and how-to follows:

I’ve been enjoying my oven and the extra time that I now have after the dust has settled on the holidays. My husband installed the oven in time for the absolutely necessary (to me) baking for Christmas events, such as 4-H caroling, gift wrapping, and game day at the local retirement community and toasting the crostini that always go with the Sundried Tomato tapenade that we bring to the Christmas Eve get together with my husband’s side of the family. There was no leisure to do the baking that I really enjoy.

It all started with my Betty Crocker Easy Bake oven back in the 1970s. I chose it from among many other possibilities out of the Sears catalog that year. There were a lot of us at 321 Pine Avenue, so it was easier for our parents to supply us with the Sears catalog and its extensive toy section and ask for a list for Santa rather than trying to surprise all nine of us!

Back then, the Easy Bake ovens looked like real miniature ranges and had 100-watt light bulbs inside that really baked food!

This oven came with some mixes and a real recipe book, so that a kid could be a scratch cook right from the start.  Teacakes are still my favorite cookie. They were the first thing I baked in my Easy Bake Oven! Many years later, I bought my daughter her first easy bake oven hoping to recreate for her my experiences as a kid. It looked like a microwave—please! It never cooked worth a darn. She much preferred the real oven and real recipes (all  my daughter's version of the Easy Bake came with were instruction for making mixes).

I sold my Easy Bake Oven at a flea market when I was a teen in need of some cash. We were never given allowances—times were too hard. I regret selling it to this day. Maybe one of these days I’ll find another one at a garage sale for a good price. (The ones I’ve found on the internet are more expensive than my new (to me) wall oven!) Begonia


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Joe's Crab Shack Crab Cakes
Saturday, December 18, 2010 | By kanthony39us

Recipe Source: Restaurant Copycat Recipes


2/3 cup mayonnaise
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon blackening seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup crushed, chopped parsley
2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
2 lbs crabmeat


Mix all ingredients together.
Make into 4 oz. patties
Coat with flour and fry in 1 inch of oil until golden brown.

Recipe Source: Joe's Crab Shack Crab Cakes Recipe


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South Beach Diet Marinated Flank Steak
Saturday, December 18, 2010 | By kanthony39us

Recipe Source: South Beach Diet Recipes


1 small red onion, quartered
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


Sliver one-quarter of the onion and set aside. Chop the rest of the onion. Mix
it in a bowl with the vinegar, capers, oregano, and garlic. Combine 14 cup of
this mixture with the slivered onions and set aside. Sprinkle both sides of the
steak with the salt and pepper; prick well with a fork. In a large zip-top
food-storage bag, combine the steak with the remaining onion mixture.
Marinate for 1 hour or overnight.

Heat the grill or the broiler, positioning the
oven broiler rack so that the meat on the rack in the pan is 4? from the heat
source. Remove the meat from the marinade, and place on the grill
overdirect heat or on an oven rack set in the broiler pan. Discard the
marinade. Grill or broil for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let stand
for 5 minutes before slicing.

Place the meat on a platter and pour the reserved onion mixture over the
steak. Makes 6 Servings

Nutritional Information: 176 calories,9 total fat (4 g sat),50 mg cholesterol, 3 g
carbohydrate, 19 g protein, 1 g fiber, 230 mg sodium

Recipe Source: South Beach Diet Marinated Flank Steak


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Hearty Chicken Soup
Saturday, December 18, 2010 | By kanthony39us

Recipe Source: Best Chicken Recipes


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, cut into medium dice
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), breast removed and split; remaining
chicken cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 celery stalk, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups (3 ounces) hearty egg noodles
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves


Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large soup kettle. Add half of chopped onions and all
chicken pieces (reserve breast). Saute until chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce
heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase
heat to high; add 2 quarts water along with whole chicken breast, 1 teaspoon salt and bay

Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce heat to low and barely simmer until chicken breast is
cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, 20 minutes longer. Remove chicken breast from kettle;
set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove skin from breast, then remove meat from
bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bones. Strain broth into a large bowl
and discard any remaining chicken pieces and bones. Skim fat from broth and reserve 2
tablespoons. (Broth and meat can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Return soup
kettle to medium-high heat.

Add reserved chicken fat. Add remaining onion, along with carrot and celery, Saute until
softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, broth and shredded chicken. Simmer until vegetables
are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook until just tender, about
5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding salt, if necessary, and pepper, stir in parsley and serve.

Recipe Source: Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe


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Low Carb Crockpot Enchilada's
Saturday, December 18, 2010 | By kanthony39us

Recipe Source: Low Carb Recipes


1 lb ground chicken breast
2 tsps chili powder
1 cup chopped onions
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
3 ozs shredded cheddar cheese
3 ozs shredded Monterey Jack cheese
30 ozs canned dark red kidney beans, rinsed
and drained
10 ozs undrained tomatoes and green chilies
8 whole fat-free flour tortillas
1/3 cup water


In a skillet, cook chicken, onions, and bell peppers until chicken is no longer pink and
vegetables are tender; drain. Stir in kidney beans, tomatoes and green chilies, water,
chili powder, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for ten
In a small bowl, combine shredded cheeses. In a 5-quart slow cooker, layer about 3/4
cup chicken mixture, one tortilla and some cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and cook on
low for five hours or until heated through.

Makes 10 Servings

Nutritional Info Per Serving: Calories 296; Total Fat 8 g; Cholesterol 44 g;
Carbs 32 g; Sodium 626 mg; Fiber 6 g; WW Points 6

Recipe Source: Low Carb Crockpot Enchilada's


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