Almond Chocolate Freezer Fudge: Love Calories

almondchocolatefreezerfudgeSometimes I go a little crazy and make an expensive dessert. I suppose I could excuse this in that it did use up some chocolate that has been lying around on the shelf for a bit. Too, it could be considered energy saving in that I didn’t need to heat up the mixture. However, I would say that this recipe is mainly “love calories,” those calories that bolster our family’s morale in the midst of frugality.

The ingredients make this recipe expensive. I used SunButter due to the sensitivity of my husband’s daughter to peanuts. While that certainly made it an appropriate dessert for her, it sure was expensive. Also, I was concerned in that once mixed with the other ingredients, the butter did not “pour” as the recipe said, and so it seemed as if the fudge would certainly fail.readyforthefreezer

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fudge did not fail, but rather tasted wonderful. Despite the lack of sugar in the batter itself, it was very sweet, but not overly so. If you’re wanting to introduce your family to whole foods desserts, then this might be a good place to start. Both my husband and his daughter readily ate the fudge and never complained.

Perhaps it’s good for me to go crazy every now and then. My family sure enjoys it!


Spicy Pasta Salad: Or, Inadequate Irene Strikes Again

spicy pasta saladDo you get nervous about bringing a dish to a potluck? Does the thought of someone else judging your creation make you sweat, even just a little? Well, that’s how I feel about our potlucks with my in-laws. When we receive an invitation to the latest get-together, I instantly become Inadequate Irene.

My husband’s family—a very large family bursting with kids—is full of sisters who are experts at all things homemade. Whether it is redecorating their houses or building a city out of icing, they are able to do it. No job is too big or too difficult for these ladies. And me? Well, I often feel lucky if my muffins turn out ok. Although I know these potlucks are not a competition, I seem to believe that I must prove something with my offering.

And then there are the varying tastes and preferences among the family members. The kids in general don’t like things too spicy—which means, anything beyond mayonnaise. Some of the kids don’t like chocolate while others love it. And others don’t like fruit flavors, and some do. It’s pretty much a no-win situation when choosing a recipe.

Sometimes, like today, I’ll pick something that’s a classic recipe for the season with a little bit of pizzazz. For our cookout today, I chose Ree Drummond’s Spicy Pasta Salad. I couldn’t find smoked gouda at the grocery store, and so I substituted a mild chipotle gouda. That ingredient was certainly a bit more expensive than what we usually purchase, but it is for a special occasion. More “love calories.” Luckily, we still had some basil in the garden for use in the recipe. All in all, the salad came out well and is currently waiting in the refrigerator for its big debut.

I’ve had my husband taste the salad several times. He is currently frustrated with Inadequate Irene and told me that the salad is “Fine,” with a capital F. I suppose that I will take his word for it, hoping that this won’t be another crash and burn situation with the family.

Happy Labor Day, folks! Here’s to all the confident cooks and Inadequate Irenes out there who want to make their family’s celebration great.

Cream Cheese Squares: Love Calories

cream cheese squares on a plateI often think that I will make a special breakfast for my family on Saturday morning. Then Friday night comes, and I have nothing planned. Too, I believe that I can whip something up that morning, but doing something pre-coffee always sounds a bit too much. My family therefore usually fends for themselves for breakfast. That is, until today.

Looking at my friends’ posts on Facebook, I had been seeing over the past few weeks recipes using canned crescent rolls. I was impressed as I had never thought of using them to make cookies and such. Perhaps my view of these pre-made goodies was stuck in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when they were purchased as dinner rolls only for very special meals. Thinking that I might be able to use them for a quick breakfast, I purchased a can last week during a shopping trip.

Now, you might wonder how pre-made foods can be frugal. I’ll admit that they’re certainly more expensive than making something yourself. However, I consider the occasional purchase of them to be “love calories.” Why? When I was regularly reading the environmental blogs during the mid-2000’s, I would often see authors talk about “love miles.” Wanting to limit their carbon usage, they were driving less; however, they considered visiting family to be “love miles” and thus not part of the carbon equation. The occasional purchase of a ready-made food could be similarly thought of as “love calories.” Too, if the product is bought on sale or as a store brand, it could still be frugal!cream cheese squares in the dish

This morning I whipped up a half batch of cream cheese squares. By using the pre-made crescent rolls, I could still make them while my coffee was brewing. As I wanted to make sure that the filling was extra creamy, I used my stand mixer for that task. It also made it easier as I could do other things while the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla were beaten into submission. The only thing I changed in the recipe was the use of margarine; I used butter instead.

So this morning I actually fixed a special breakfast for my family. Of course, I had to wake them up to enjoy it. Having coffee already prepared certainly helped to rouse my husband. Love calories can be good for an occasional treat and can keep up the morale of your frugal family.