Homemade Small Batch Pretzels

For me, soft pretzels conjure up happy memories of snack stations in the local mall of my childhood and sunny days at the State Fair.

While they are mostly a nostalgic food for me, soft pretzels are one of my mom’s favorite salty treats. A few days ago, my mom came over to my house to spend an afternoon together. When the time came to consider a snack, the subject of soft pretzels came up. Since we live several hours from the nearest mall that sells soft pretzels, we decided to make our own.

These soft pretzels are easy to make and delicious! They have a rich, chewy texture, with a pleasant, golden crust. A brush of butter and dash of kosher salt adds some wonderful, salty flavor to this decadent treat.

A few notes on the recipe:

Shaping the Pretzels:

Forming a pretzel is EASY! This recipe should result in four pretzels. Cut the dough in four relatively equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it until it is about 18 to 20 inches long (step 1). Then, form a circle with the two ends overlapping (step 2). Next, overlap the ends (twist them) one more time (step 3). Finally, fold the ends toward the circle and press the ends down to form the traditional pretzel shape (step 4). Repeat the process to form the remaining three pretzels.

Baking Soda Bath:

Soft pretzels should be given a baking soda bath prior to baking. This should result in a chewier pretzel. To complete the baking soda bath, combine three cups of water and 2.5 tablespoons of baking soda in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, dip the pretzels in the mixture for 20-30 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon or spatula.

Cost Analysis:

I was, frankly, shocked when I did the price analysis for this recipe. Pretzels are a great inexpensive snack at $0.09 a piece!

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Homemade Soft Pretzels (Small Batch)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This small batch pretzel recipe results in four delicious, buttery soft pretzels in about half an hour.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • For the baking soda bath you will also need:
  • 3 cups water
  • 2.5 tablespoons baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to dissolve for about one minute. Then, add sugar and table salt to the yeast mixture and stir until dissolved.
  3. Gradually add flour into the yeast mixture. You can use a dough hook on a stand mixer, or mix with a wooden spoon. Continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky, form the dough into a ball, and cover it with a thin towel or cloth. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting, combine water and baking soda in a saucepan to create the baking soda bath. Heat the baking soda mixture on medium heat. It will need to reach a boil before you can “bathe” the pretzels. Also, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. (Alternatively, you can use a baking mat.)
  5. After the dough has rested, cut the dough ball into four relatively equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it until it is about 18 to 20 inches long. Then, form a circle with the two ends overlapping. Next, overlap the ends (twist them) one more time. Finally, fold the ends toward the circle and press the ends down to form the traditional pretzel shape. (There is a tutorial with pictures available on the website post). Repeat the process to form the remaining three pretzels.
  6. After the pretzels are formed, they will need a quick (20-30 second) baking soda bath. Carefully drop a pretzel into the boiling baking soda mixture, allow it to soak for 20-30 seconds, and remove it with a slotted spoon or slotted spatula. Allow the excess water to drip off, and place it on the lined baking sheet. Complete the same process for the remaining three pretzels.
  7. Top the pretzels with kosher salt and bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Once the pretzels are baked, melt a tablespoon (or two!) of butter and brush butter on top of the hot pretzels.
  9. Top with additional kosher salt, if desired, and serve warm! These pretzels are great plain, but can be served with nacho cheese dipping sauce. Enjoy!

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Summer Strawberry Cupcakes (Small Batch)

Few flavors are more evocative of summertime than strawberry. These light but moist cupcakes are a unique, all-natural celebration of warm, sunny weather.

(Ironically, I baked them on a rainy afternoon!)

Sunny cupcakes – perfect for a rainy afternoon!

Hoping to expand my baking repertoire, I decided to spend a rainy afternoon perfecting a small batch of strawberry cupcakes.

The idea appealed to me for several reasons: (1) I love the flavor of strawberries; (2) I find pink cupcakes attractive; (3) I had a bowl of fresh, chopped strawberries that were starting to get a bit too mushy to eat on their own.

Notes on the Recipe:

Whipping Your Egg White: This recipe calls for one whipped egg white. I use a handheld electric mixer to beat my egg white to medium peaks. To do this, separate the egg white from the yolk and pour the white into a mixing bowl. Begin mixing your egg white on a medium-low speed, until the egg white forms a foam. Then, switch the speed to high and whip the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. (The peak should hold its shape when you lift the mixer out of the whipped egg white). If you don’t have any electric mixer, you can whip your egg white by hand with a whisk. This works fine, but will take much longer (and require more work) than using an electric mixer.

Strawberry Puree: A fresh strawberry puree is added to both the cake batter and the frosting. I blend the strawberries (with a little bit of water) in a small blender. After the puree is mostly smooth, I strain the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer.If you don’t use the strainer, you may have a few seeds in your batter and frosting. You may also use frozen strawberries in this recipe. Simply allow the strawberries to reach room temperature before using.

Frosting: This butter-based frosting uses strawberry puree instead of milk. If you don’t want the additional strawberry flavor, use 1/3 to 1/2 tablespoon of milk in place of the strawberry puree. If you use the strawberry puree, add it gradually. If you add too much, your frosting will be runny.

Color: Fresh strawberries will naturally turn your cake and frosting a light pink color. If you prefer a deeper color, you may want to add a bit of food coloring.

Cost Analysis:

Vanilla, butter, and strawberries are the most expensive ingredients in this recipe. Frozen strawberries are a cheaper alternative, but might not have the same level of flavor provided by fresh strawberries. The full cost analysis is provided below.

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small batch fresh strawberry cupcakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Few flavors are more evocative of summertime than strawberry. These light but moist cupcakes are a unique, all-natural celebration of warm, sunny weather.

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white (whipped to medium peak)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries (about two large strawberries)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 8 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 fresh strawberry for strawberry puree (made during preparation of the cake)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream the softened butter, granulated sugar, and oil together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Combine milk and vanilla extract in a separate small bowl.
  3. Gently beat flour mixture and milk mixture into batter until it is smooth. It is easiest if you alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Create the strawberry puree for both the cake and the frosting. To make it, add three strawberries (or about 3/8 cup of sliced strawberries) and 1 teaspoon of water to a small blender. Mix until well combined. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the puree through the strainer (to remove seeds).
  5. Set aside 1/2 tablespoon of strawberry puree and refrigerate. (You will use this when you create the frosting). Add the remaining strawberry puree to the cake batter and gently mix it in.
  6. Whip your egg white to medium peaks in a separate mixing bowl. To do this, separate the egg white from the yolk and pour the white into a mixing bowl. Begin mixing your egg white on a medium-low speed with an electric mixer, until the egg white forms a foam. Then, switch the speed to high and whip the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. The peak should hold its shape when you lift the mixer out of the whipped egg white. See additional pictures of the process above.
  7. Gently fold the egg white into your cake batter. Do not over-mix!
  8. Line a muffin tin with four paper liners (or grease). Pour batter into the liners until they are filled about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. The cupcakes will rise in the oven, but not as much as other recipes I have made. If you fill 1/2 of the way full with this recipe, the baked cupcakes will not reach the top of the paper liners.
  9. Bake for 14-18 minutes. Check with a toothpick. It should come out clean when the cupcakes are done.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 1 minute. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool completely prior to frosting.
  11. For the frosting:

  12. Mix softened butter, powdered sugar, strawberry puree (made earlier), and vanilla with a mixer on low speed. It should form a thick buttercream. Make sure you add the puree slowly, starting with 1/3 tablespoon. If you add too much puree, the frosting will be runny. If the frosting is too thick, add a little bit of milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  13. Frost cooled cupcakes.
  14. Enjoy!

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Watermelon Lemonade

There is no more quintessential summer food than watermelon, and there is no beverage more representative of summer than lemonade. This recipe is a fun way to combine both summer favorites into a refreshing and tasty drink.

We don’t keep many flavored beverages on hand in our home, because we are blessed with tap water that tastes wonderful. Quick, easy summer beverages like this one allow us to offer guests something other than tap water, without investing in a large selection of pre-made beverages that we probably won’t consume on our own.

Cost Analysis:

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Notes on the Recipe:

Lemon juice: A typical lemon has 2 tablespoons of juice. I don’t normally keep lemons on hand, so I use lemon juice concentrate. It is much less expensive and has a longer shelf life. However, you can use the juice from one lemon in this recipe. Alternatively, you could use lime juice to make an excellent watermelon limeade!

Watermelon: This recipe calls for chilled cubes of watermelon. I typically cut my watermelon into about 1.5″ cubes (click here for a tutorial), and place the bowl in the refrigerator. If your watermelon is not chilled, substitute ice cubes for some of the water.

Tartness: This lemonade is relatively tart. However, you can adjust the amount of lemon juice to your own personal taste. I have made this lemonade with three tablespoons of lemon juice which was a bit sour for me.

Fine mesh strainer: When you blend watermelon, it creates a slight pulp. If you want a smooth glass of lemonade, pour the beverage through a fine mesh strainer prior to consuming.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Watermelon Lemonade

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This fresh watermelon lemonade blends a pleasant tartness with the sweet summer flavor of watermelon. Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of ice cold water
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice concentrate (or from a fresh lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup coarsely diced seedless watermelon (cold from the refrigerator)
  • Ice, optional

Directions

  1. Combine water, lemon juice, sugar, and watermelon in a small blender.
  2. Blend ingredients until the watermelon is well blended into the beverage.
  3. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a glass.
  4. Add a few ice cubes to the glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon if you are feeling festive, and enjoy!

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Easy Fettuccine Alfredo for One

Everyone needs a few good single-serving recipes. Whether you need dinner-for-one, or a quick homemade lunch, this recipe is a good addition to that list.

Fettuccine Alfredo has been one of my favorite indulgent meals since I was a child. Unfortunately, my husband James is not a fan of Alfredo sauce. So, I make this single-serving recipe for myself when I am craving a creamy pasta lunch.

This recipe is creamy and flavorful with the addition of garlic and parsley. You may, however, also consider adding steamed or sauted vegetables. Alfredo pairs especially well with broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes. Simply saute the vegetables in a separate frying pan with olive oil until softened, or steam the vegetables while you prepare the Alfredo sauce. Then, stir the vegetables into the completed sauce prior to adding the pasta.

Notes on the Recipe:

Garlic: This recipe calls for one clove of minced garlic. You can also use about 1/2 teaspoon of already minced garlic or 1/8 teaspoon of dried garlic powder. If you are a garlic-lover, add two cloves of garlic. I frequently do this, but the garlic flavor is very strong.

Half-and-half creamer: I use half-and-half for this recipe because it is something I usually have on hand for my coffee. It has more fat than milk, and this makes the Alfredo creamy. You can also use whipping cream, which will result in an even creamier sauce. If you don’t have either on hand, you can use milk. If you use milk, the sauce will remain relatively thin.

Cost Analysis:

Fettuccine Alfredo is known as a rich and indulgent meal, so the cost and time requirement to make this dish may surprise you. This single serving recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and costs about $0.76 for the serving.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Easy Fettuccine Alfredo for One

  • Difficulty: easy
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This easy homemade Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is made with common household ingredients, costs less than a dollar to make, and results in one delicious serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half creamer
  • 4 ounces pasta (I used fettuccine, but any shape will do)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter on low heat in a small saucepan. Separately, boil water in a saucepan and prepare pasta noodles per box instructions.
  2. Add minced garlic to the melted butter. Increase the heat to medium-low and allow the garlic to cook for about one minute. Stir carefully and do not allow the garlic to burn.
  3. Add half-and-half creamer to the butter mixture one tablespoon at a time. Wisk or stir after each addition. Allow the butter and creamer mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes, until it has thickened slightly.
  4. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and wisk or stir until well combined. This should take about a minute.
  5. Add dried parsley to the sauce and stir.
  6. After the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the sauce mixture. Stir until well combined.
  7. Top the pasta dish with additional Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper, to taste.
  8. Enjoy!

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Oatmeal Granola (small batch)

James is the granola-maker in our house. He used to make it frequently, and we would eat it by the handfuls. It is salty, crunchy, and naturally sweetened with honey. Plus, the baking process makes your house smell great!

This is James’ go-to granola recipe. It is simple, but absolutely delicious. It is so good that I usually eat it plain, but it is also a great topping for yogurt.

It is also relatively cheap to make, especially compared to specialty pre-made granola that you find at the grocery store. This granola costs about $0.21 for a quarter cup serving.

Cost Analysis:

The cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

A few notes:

Granola (especially in a small batch) can burn easily! You need to check and stir it frequently. For this batch, we stirred it at the 3-minute mark, 6-minute mark, 8-minute mark, 10-minute mark, 12-minute mark, and then every minute for the final three minutes.

Allow the granola to cool completely before eating. It is worth the wait.

We prefer small batch baking because we are a family of two. However, this recipe can easily be multiplied if you need more granola!

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small Batch Oatmeal Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
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This small batch granola recipe is easy-to-make and sweetened naturally with honey.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons uncooked oats (we use old fashioned)
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • a pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine oats, flour, almonds, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Melt butter in a small container and stir vanilla and honey into the butter mixture.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix with a spoon or rubber spatula until it looks evenly combined. Try not to over-mix.
  5. Pour granola onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Push the granola together into a lump and gently push the granola down until it is 1/2 to 1/3 deep.
  6. Bake granola, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. The granola will brown around the edges of the lump, so you need to mix it often so that new pieces will brown. For this batch, we stirred it at the 3-minute mark, 6-minute mark, 8-minute mark, 10-minute mark, 12-minute mark, and then every minute for the final three minutes. It can burn quickly, so it is best to check and stir it often.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the granola cool completely before enjoying!

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Grandma’s Vienna Sugar Cookies (small batch)

While flipping through a very old community cookbook that I inherited from my grandmother, I noticed a recipe for a cookie that was unfamiliar to me. I had never put yeast in a cookie, so I was interested to try them.

Not wanting to commit to a large batch of unfamiliar cookies, I reduced the recipe to yield a dozen. The resulting cookies were thin, crispy, and buttery with a sweet sugary coating.

Vienna Sugar Cookies

I served the cookies to a few friends who noted they tasted a lot like “elephant ears”. If you are unfamiliar with elephant ears, they are a form a sweet, fried flat bread usually topped with sugar and cinnamon sold at every fair or carnival in the United States.

These cookies are also great for a tight budget. As the cost analysis shows, the cookies cost approximately $0.05 a piece. I used a name brand butter, so you could further reduce the cost with a generic butter.

Cost Analysis:

The cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Notes about the recipe:

The dough is very soft and sticky. I originally tried rolling the cookies with a rolling pin, but found pressing the dough with a flat-bottomed cup or mug resulted in more uniform cookies.

Next time I make these cookies, I may experiment with adding some cinnamon to the sugar coating.

The cookies bake quickly and brown around the edges. Watch carefully after the 10 minute mark.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Vienna Sugar Cookies (Small Batch)

  • Difficulty: easy
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Thin, crisp, and buttery with a sweet sugary coating, these cookies are an indulgent compliment to a good cup of coffee or tea.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread granulated sugar on a smooth surface (like wax paper) and set aside.
  2. Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Cream butter and granulated sugar together in a separate medium mixing bowl.
  4. Beat flour into the butter mixture.
  5. Add yeast and water mixture to the sugar and flour mixture, and beat until combined.
  6. Form dough into walnut sized balls (the dough should make about a dozen balls).
  7. Press dough ball down in the sugar mixture until flat. Flip and coat the other side. Continue flipping until you have a very thin cookie. Continue this process with the remaining dough balls.
  8. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven when the cookies are lightly browned and crispy.
  9. Allow to cool for a minute on the baking sheet and move to cooling racks.
  10. Enjoy!

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Banana Muffins (small batch)

A lonely brown banana seems to be a staple in most kitchens. I often throw my brown bananas into quick fruit smoothies (click here for an easy recipe), which is an easy way to get them off of the counter. But, sometimes you have to cave and make banana bread.

I enjoy a good slice of banana bread. There is something almost comforting about it. However, it is hard for James and I to finish a full loaf by ourselves. So, I prefer to make a small batch of banana muffins.

This recipe is quick, easy, and only makes four muffins. It also uses up one brown banana, and costs about $0.22 per muffin (see below for full cost analysis).

Cost Analysis:

Note – costs are what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small Batch Banana Muffins

  • Difficulty: easy
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This small batch recipe results in four fluffy banana muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 overripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin pan with liners (or grease).
  2. Cream butter and granulated sugar together in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the banana in a small bowl.
  4. Add the mashed banana and egg white to the sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Sift remaining dry ingredients together and mix into the sugar mixture.
  6. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  7. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full (about 2 to 2.5 tablespoons each).
  8. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool and enjoy!

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Vanilla Cupcakes (small batch)

Sometimes you just need something sweet! I have a sweet tooth, so my sometimes may be more often than yours. However, I think you will want to save this recipe as it is quick, inexpensive, and only make half a dozen cupcakes!

James and I live in a divided household regarding cupcake flavors. He is a chocolate fan and I am a vanilla fan. If you are like James, you may prefer our recipe for small batch chocolate cupcakes (click here for recipe). If you are like me, or don’t have cocoa powder on hand, continue on with this recipe!

A few notes on this recipe:

You can use oil or butter for the batter. I find that oil mixes in a little bit better, and results in a slightly more moist cupcake. It is also usually less expensive.

Only use 1/2 of an egg for this recipe. If you use the full egg, the cupcakes will taste like eggs! I tried and was not a fan… A simple way to split the egg is to lightly mix it in a bowl and use half of it.

For six cupcakes, only fill the cups 1/2 way full. This will result in regular-sized cupcakes. If you fill beyond 1/2 of the way full, you will need to cook them a bit longer and the recipe will only make 4-5 cupcakes.

Add the milk slowly when making the frosting. If you add too much milk, the frosting will be a bit runny. If it is too runny, add more powdered sugar.

Cost Analysis:

These cupcakes are pretty inexpensive to make at about $0.20 a piece.

Note: The costs are based on what I paid for ingredients in 2020 Your total cost may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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These vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting are easy-to-make and delicious. The cupcakes cost about $0.20 a piece, and the recipe only makes six cupcakes!

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or softened butter)
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 large egg (gently mix egg and use half of it – or about two tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 8 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Mix granulated sugar and oil together. Add 1/2 of the egg to the mixture and stir until combined.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly stir into the oil mixture, and beat until combined.
  3. Stir in milk and vanilla extract. Gently beat batter until it is smooth. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
  4. Line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease) and pour batter into cups. Fill 1/2 of the way full. If you would like over-sized cupcakes, fill 2/3 of the way full and the batter should make 4 cupcakes. Otherwise, it should make 6 regular-sized cupcakes.
  5. Bake for 14-18 minutes. Check with a toothpick. It should come out clean when the cupcakes are done.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 1 minute. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool completely prior to frosting.
      For the frosting:

    1. Mix softened butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla with a mixer on low speed. It should form a thick buttercream. Make sure you add the milk slowly, starting with 1/3 tablespoon. If you add too much milk, the frosting will be runny.
    2. Frost cooled cupcakes.
    3. Enjoy!

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Low-Cost Gifting: Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

One of the best smells in the whole world is the aroma of cinnamon roasted nuts. I associate it strongly with fairs and carnivals, and with wandering around with a little paper cone of nuts in my hand, trying not to devour the pricey little treat too quickly.

Fortunately for me (and for you), cinnamon-roasting your own almonds at home is easy, inexpensive, and just as delicious as the ones you can buy at fairs and carnivals. I have even given glass jars of cinnamon-roasted almonds as very successful (and budget-friendly at $3.64 per batch) gifts on several occasions. People never fail to be impressed and delighted with this tasty treat! If you are interested in more creative ways to save on gift giving, visit our post here!

Frugal Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

  • Difficulty: easy
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Sweet, savory, and crunchy. The perfect thrifty gift, or a great homemade treat!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups natural almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (white sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. Heat a large frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Add water, sugar, and cinnamon to the frying pan. Mix it thoroughly and wait for it to come to a low boil.
  4. Add the almonds and stir slowly and constantly in a circular motion. Scrape the sides of the frying pan to keep the sugar from building up.
  5. When the water/sugar mixture begins to form a thick syrup, remove the pan from heat and pour the almonds onto the baking sheet. (Note: It is hard to gauge when to remove the almonds. If the sugar starts to form granules, take it off the heat immediately).
  6. Allow the almonds to cool for 15 minutes before enjoying.

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Easy Summer Caprese Appetizer

It is a gorgeous summer day, and James and I wanted something light for lunch. We had some leftover crusty artisan bread (click here for recipe) and decided to make a lunch out of one of our favorite appetizers: easy summer caprese!

We had some fresh mozzarella, a few tomatoes that had seen better days, our trusty basil plant, and the leftover homemade bread. On a colder day, I would make make a toasty caprese sandwich (click here for recipe), but some days are just too warm for a grilled cheese!

A few notes: If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, you can use part of a block of mozzarella cheese (or even mozzarella cheese sticks). If you don’t have fresh basil, a pinch of dried basil will still be tasty! If you don’t have or want bread, this is delicious as a salad.

If you serve this as an appetizer, it will cost you approximately $0.60 per person (assuming you 4 servings). If you eat as a light meal, only plan on 2 servings. See the cost analysis below:

Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Easy Summer Caprese Appetizer

  • Difficulty: Easy
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An quick and easy appetizer perfect for a warm summer day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 loaf of bread (see artisan bread recipe)
  • 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese (fresh mozzarella if you have it)
  • 4 basil leaves, sliced (I keep a basil plant for economical fresh herbs)
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil + more for bread if desired
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chopped tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil in a bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bowl.
  3. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Mix ingredients.
  5. Serve with slices of bread (cut into half or quarters) or as a salad. If you would like, you can toast the bread and serve this as bruschetta! Advise your guests to put the mixture on top of the bread for optimal deliciousness!

-Kristin

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