15 Minute Dangerously Delicious Lava Cakes

Before making these lava cakes, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I like chocolate?
  2. Do I have 15 minutes?
  3. Do I have $2?

If you answered yes to all of the above, you should proceed!

These lava cakes are one of my default recipes for entertaining. They are delicious and can be ready in just 15 minutes! My recipe is a modified version of a recipe I saw on Kraft’s website a few years ago (click here for original recipe).

The cost computation revealed that the lava cakes cost about $0.50 per person (without any whipped cream). See below for details:

Cost Analysis:

Please note, costs are based on what I paid for my ingredients. You costs may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

15 Minute Dangerously Delicious Lava Cakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Gooey and delicious lava cakes that are easy, quick, and relatively frugal at $0.50 a piece!

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of baker’s chocolate (I use semi-sweet)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • a few sprays of cooking spray
  • chocolate syrup and whipped cream, if desired

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut butter and chocolate into pieces, place in a large microwave-save bowl (I use a large glass measuring cup), and microwave until the butter is melted. It usually take about a minute in my microwave on HIGH.
  3. Stir the butter and chocolate mixture until the chocolate is fully melted.
  4. Add powdered sugar and stir. Add egg and egg yolk and stir. Add flour and stir.
  5. Spray a cupcake tin (or small ramekins) lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter (about 3/4 of the way full) into cupcake tins.
  7. Bake 8 to 9 min. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  8. Use a butter knife to gently remove lava cakes from cupcake tin.
  9. Garnish with chocolate syrup and whipped cream!

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The Humble Egg Sandwich: Fast, Cheap, & Hearty

The humble egg sandwich is a fast, convenient, and relatively nutritious meal. Although this is usually something that I would consume for breakfast, I have eaten a lot of egg sandwiches for quick lunches or lazy dinners. At only 250 calories, with 11 grams of protein, the egg sandwich is also pretty nutritious and very cheap!


For many years, I had an hour-long commute to and from work every day. I often made one of these sandwiches, wrapped it in waxed paper, and ate it on the way to work.


If you want to make your egg sandwich even cheaper, use a slice of bread (or two) instead of an English muffin. (If you opt for 2 slices of bread, use a slightly larger bowl – at least 4 inches in diameter.) Although I usually top my egg sandwiches with nothing more than salt and pepper, feel free to experiment. Cheddar or pepper jack cheese, hot sauce, bacon, ham, fresh tomato, or even ketchup or mustard can liven up your sandwich.

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:

The Humble Egg Sandwich: Fast, Cheap, & Hearty

  • Difficulty: easy
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Kick start your day with this hearty and convenient sandwich (or eat it for lunch, or dinner, or whenever…)

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 spray of cooking spray, or any oil to prevent sticking
  • 1 English muffin, bagel, or sliced bread
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Slice English muffin in half and place in toaster (or toaster oven).
  2. Spray a small bowl (about 3″ in diameter) with cooking spray or wipe with oil.
  3. Crack egg into bowl and scramble with a fork.
  4. Microwave egg on high for 1 minute, stopping every 15 seconds to allow the egg to “rest” for 10 second intervals. This will prevent the egg from exploding.
  5. Butter insides of toasted English muffin.
  6. Place egg “disc” inside the English muffin. Top with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Enjoy!

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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
  • Print

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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5 Minute Salad with Easy Homemade Dressing

If you don’t have much time on your hands to prepare lunch or dinner, this easy and nutritious salad might be the recipe for you! It is a quick and easy southwest style salad that we frequently make in the summer.

The salad itself is relatively inexpensive to make. Note, the recipe uses one half of an avocado. Read how to keep the other half fresh here.

Based on what I paid for my own ingredients, it costs about $1 per salad (see below for a cost analysis).

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:

5 Minute Salad with Easy Homemade Dressing

  • Difficulty: easy
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This easy and delicious green salad is fresh and hearty, and perfect on a warm summer day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 2 ounces canned corn, drained
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice
  • Potential Add-Ins: You may want to add crushed tortilla chips (maybe the crumbs from the bottom of the bag), salsa, salt and pepper. You can also add shredded cheese. 🙂

Directions

  1. Combine olive oil, lime juice and dried cilantro to make a quick dressing. (plus salt and pepper, to taste)
  2. Mix lettuce, tomato, black beans, corn, and avocado together.
  3. Cover with dressing.
  4. Add tortilla chips, cheese, and/or salsa, if desired.
  5. Enjoy!

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3 Ingredient Smoothie to Use Up Those Brown Bananas!

If you are like me, you probably have an old, brown and mushy banana sitting in your kitchen. For some reason, you didn’t get a chance to eat it. Like me, you have already made too much banana bread, but you don’t want to let the banana go to waste.

Never fear! In 2 minutes you can get that mushy fruit off of your counter and enjoy this delicious fruit smoothie. The addition of the orange juice in this recipe really cuts the sweetness of the overripe banana. I made this smoothie with frozen strawberry, but feel free to add any frozen fruit you have on hand. It is also good with frozen pineapple, mango, blueberries, etc.

From a cost perspective, it costs about $1 to make this recipe. James and I usually split the smoothie, but most people would probably consider it to be one smoothie.

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:

3 Ingredient Brown Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 1 or 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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A delicious and quick smoothie that uses up an old banana and isn't too sweet!


Ingredients


– 3/4 cup orange juice
– 3/4 frozen fruit (I used strawberries)
– 1 banana (old is fine!)

1. Blend orange juice, banana and frozen fruit.
2. Garnish (if desired) and Enjoy!

Toastie Caprese Sandwich

If you have some leftover artisan bread (or any bread for that matter), this recipe is for you! When I made this recipe today, I used 2 day old artisan crusty bread, but any bread should work! Splurge on fresh mozzarella for this sandwich. Fresh mozzarella makes up half of the cost of the sandwich, but it makes the sandwich much more luxurious!

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

Toasty Caprese Sandwich

  • Difficulty: Easy
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An easy gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.


Ingredients

  • 4 slices of bread (see artisan bread recipe)
  • 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh mozzarella)
  • 4 basil leaves (I keep a basil plant for economical fresh herbs)
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • balsamic vinegar glaze (or a little balsamic vinegar)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Heat a frying pan on medium heat
Butter one side of all 4 pieces of bread and place one piece of bread in the frying pan.
Top the bread with 1.5 ounces mozzarella cheese, half of the sliced tomato, a few leaves of basil, salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar glaze. Note: If you bread is very dry, you may want to butter both sides of the bread prior to cooking it in the frying pan!
Cook the sandwich until browned on the bottom and flip. Repeat the process until both sides of the sandwich are browned.
Serve with a salad, soup, or chips! Enjoy!

Thrifty Tip: Watermelon Edition

Watermelon is one of my favorite foods, but I don’t like the mess involved with eating it off the rind. So, over the years I have developed a quick and efficient process to cube my watermelon.

Instructions:

Step 1: Obtain a watermelon!
Step 2: Cut the watermelon in half
Step 3: Cut each half in half again (so that you have the watermelon cut into quarters)
Step 4: Use a sharp knife to slice the watermelon on the rind from one end to another
Step 5: After it is sliced, cut along the perimeter of the watermelon
Step 6: Slide the slabs of watermelon off of the rind and cut it into cubes
Step 7: Complete with the other three quarters
Step 8: Enjoy!

Thrifty Tip: Celery Edition

Crisp celery is great for a variety of recipes (and even a healthy crunchy snack). Wilted celery is another story. Luckily, there is an easy way to keep your celery crisp MUCH LONGER.

To extend the life of your celery, wrap it in tinfoil and store it in the refrigerator. This should keep your celery crisp for weeks. For more of our thrifty kitchen tips, click here!

Homemade White Cheddar Popcorn – Super Easy!

We love white cheddar popcorn, but don’t like to pay for the bagged version at the grocery store. The King Arthur Flour Vermont Cheddar Cheese powder is a splurge at about $9 a canister, but results in a more economical popcorn treat! After analyzing the cost, you will pay approximately $0.22 for a nice hot bowl of cheese popcorn (see below for analysis).

Frugal Cost Analysis:

ItemIngredient Cost per UnitUnits Required for RecipeTotal Cost
Popcorn$ 0.47 per cup1/4 cup$0.12
Canola Oil$ 0.02 per tablespoon1.5 tablespoons$0.03
Cheese Powder$ 0.28 per tablespoon1 tablespoon$0.28
Total cost for 2 large bowls$0.43
Total cost for 1 large bowl$0.22
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:

Homemade White Cheddar Popcorn - Super Easy!

  • Servings: 2-4 depending on your appetite!
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A stove-top version of white cheddar popcorn!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels
  • 1.5 tablespoon of oil (we use Canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of cheese powder (we use King Arthur Flour Vermont Cheddar Cheese powder)
  • Note: You may choose to add an addition 1/4 to 1/2 of a tablespoon of cheese powder
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Add oil AND five popcorn kernels to a medium or large saucepan. You don’t want to add all of the kernels until after the oil is HOT!
  2. Heat the saucepan on medium heat.
  3. Once the five popcorn kernels pop, add the remaining 1/4 cup of kernels.
  4. Allow the kernels to pop until you the popping slows and you don’t hear a pop every 2-3 seconds. (usually about 5 minutes on medium heat)
  5. Pour the popcorn in a bowl (do not add the cheese powder to the saucepan, as it will burn!)
  6. Shake 1 tablespoon of cheese powder over the popcorn.
  7. Stir the popcorn, add salt to taste, and serve!

Quick & Easy Guacamole

We love avocado, but avocados can be made even better when turned into this easy guacamole! We celebrated Cinco de Mayo by this year by loading up on 25 cent avocados.

Click here for some tips on keeping avocados fresh longer!

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Quick & Easy Guacamole

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fast and delicious addition to any Mexican fare.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • a few spoonfuls of fresh salsa,
  • or a small roma tomato and 1/4 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, cube and mash your avocado.
  2. Add fresh salsa (or add diced tomato and onion)
  3. Mix avocado and fresh salsa (or diced tomato and onion)
  4. Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and lime juice
  5. Stir all ingredients together
  6. Serve with chips (or veggies if you prefer)!

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