Showing posts with label Recipes on a budget. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes on a budget. Show all posts

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kale Brownies

Kale and brownies...I know it doesn't sound so appetizing. It is not just kids who turn their noses away from kale, despite of all the good benefits of this vegetable. Some grown ups can not make themselves eat this wonder veggie.  Our youngest have the strongest aversion to veggies. Luckily, she now eats peas and carrots on fried rice.  Over the years, I now have some tricks up my sleeve to get her to eat vegetables.

I have mixed zucchini with muffins , spinach with popsicles . I am also known for mixing grated sweet potatoes in meatballs and meat loaf. See here for : Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and Fruit and Veggie Popsicle.

Back to kale and brownies. You can mix kale with brownies without tasting the kale!  Trust me. Lily's got this awesome skill of dissecting her meals inside her mouth. Gross sounding BUT this skill of hers is funny and puzzled me through out the years. She can detect, the smallest piece of diced or shredded veggies in her mouth.  This kale brownies however was a HIT. She not only ate a couple right off the bat but she happily declared that this brownie recipe is soooo great.  They are moist, fudgy and full of chocolate goodness. Go ahead and give it a try!


1 large bunch kale
1¼ cup flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup  unsalted butter ( if using salted, skip the salt)
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs at room temperature, beaten
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

Wash the kale and pat it dry. Only use the leafy parts of the kale. Place the kale leaves in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes or until wilted. Puree the kale using a  food processor. Drain any excess liquid and set aside the kale.

You will have approximately have 1 cup of  kale. 
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. 

 Mix until thoroughly combined. Melt the chocolate chips and butter. I did not use a double broiler. I just used the microwave. Starting at 20 seconds stirring and then 10 second intervals until evenly melted and smooth. Let the melted chocolate sit until it cools to room temperature. 

Add the eggs, kale, sugars, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

 Mix the kale mixture with the chocolate mixture until combined. 

Gently fold in the flour mixture until just barely combined, taking care not to over-mix.

 Prepare a 13″x 9″ pan by greasing it with butter and then lining it with parchment paper.  Carefully pour the brownie batter into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Carefully lift the brownies up (by holding on to the parchment paper) and transfer to a cooling rack. Leaving the brownies on the pan may over cook it and it will make your brownies really dry.  This is totally optional but you can sift powdered sugar on top of the brownies.

If you are wondering if they ever figured my "secret" ingredient.... the answer is NO. It is deceptively delicious and tasty! 

It is fudgy and dense.  Who knew that I can successfully have our youngest eat Kale?  I know for sure that this is not going to be the last time that I will be whipping up these  homemade brownies.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Skillet Sweet Potato Tacos

This meatless recipe is so easy to make. You can add it to your list of weeknight skillet meals. Kid friendly to boot too! Our girls enjoyed it as much as I do. Frugal recipe as well, you can use homemade black beans or use low sodium canned black beans. I am over at My Joy Filled Life , sharing this tasty, easy and yummy recipe Skillet Sweet Potato Tacos. 

If you are looking for more meatless and frugal recipes , check this out :

Top this delicious sweet potato tacos with fresh avocados and chopped cilantro. Use hot sure or your favorite salsa.  Serve it with soft tacos or with quinoa!

 Hop on over to My Joy Filled Life to grab this recipe.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Patriotic Swirl Cupcakes

It's been crazy hot here in Inland Empire! Triple digit miserable hot. I do all the cooking and baking early in the morning to avoid overheating the whole house. You can't take this girl away from baking treats. I've been on a cupcake craze lately. Looking for a cupcake recipe from scratch.  In fact, I made a Pinterest board dedicated to my love for cupcakes. Though my love for cake pop is also right there with my love for easy and simple cupcake recipes.

How do you make easy cupcakes from scratch?

This simple and easy cupcake recipe that I will share with you is a basic white cupcake. It is not crumbly and dry. Moist and full. It's uses all purpose flour and not cake flour. It needs egg whites only. I used Aldi's Fit N Active egg whites. We do have regular milk so I used almond milk instead. It turned out crazy good.

Don't get me started with the easy and simple buttercream frosting. With all the recipes that you can fin for cupcake frosting, by far this is the easiest that I found. You will also find some product suggestions that I used making these cupcake . I have provided amazon links as well. Please see my full disclosure HERE.


This easy and simple cupcake recipe makes: 24 cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups, sugar
3/4 cups milk
5 egg whites

Buttercream Frosting
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk
1 cup solid vegetable shortening

 Tools you will need : piping bags, tip # , Wilton color right system, flour sifter , extra bowls , cupcake liners, electric mixer ( This is the mixer that I use and love.).


Let's start with the cupcakes. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners.  Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour and baking powder.

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla, mix well. Add flour alternately with milk. Your batter will look really dry.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff ( NOT DRY). Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Pour batter into the prepared cupcake tin. I used a tablespoon to measure my batter. I did 3 tbsp for each slot.  Bake for 7- 19 minutes. Check if it is fully baked by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. When it comes out clean, you are good to go! Transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack.

Are you ready for the buttercream frosting? Note that I am making a pure white icing. If you are not wanting to produce a pure white icing , reduce the shortening to a 1/2 cup only, then add 1/2 cup of butter.
Beat the shortening , 1/2 tsp NO COLOR butter flavor  and vanilla. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time on a medium speed. Icing may appear dry at this point, gradually add milk and beat at medium speed.
 If you want a thinner consistency ( add 2 tbsp of milk or water).
I divided my icing into three bowls . Reserve the white icing and set aside.

Start adding the colors.

For the red : 40 R
Blue : icing + 26 B + 8 R + 4 P

 I used Wilton Color Right System

I enjoyed tinting the icing! I also used Color Swirl 3- Color Coupler.

Fill each bag with red, white and blue icing and fitting with tip #1M . Pipe a  swirl on each cooled cupcake. 

 Aren't they pretty?

 Decorate your cupcakes with your favorite sprinkles!  I used patriotic star sprinkles .

You can  also use cupcake toppers or colored sugars. Now that is the really fun part! 

I just love the colors!  The cupcake is not dry and crumbly.  If you have left over buttercream frosting, just put it in an airtight container store it in your refrigerator. When you are ready to use it, just bring it to room temperature and "re- fluff" .
Use the left over on cookies too!  Our girls love to decorate cut out cookies . I hope that you will enjoy this easy cupcake recipe.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Clean Eating Sweet and Sour Tofu

These past weeks have been a fun and busy week for us. We did a summer blast ( a summer camp from our church), volunteered to help and had a dance recital. In between those? ..the usual family stuff. Now , I am just slowing it down.  Calm before the storm so to speak. We have at least two weeks of rest and unplanned days. July will be another kind of fun, extra activities and busy for us. Our secret to not go stressing and crazy? Take it one week ( or a day) at a time , a good planner , lots of prayers and to remember that this day (or season) will pass. So try to find happiness and thankfulness in small things.

I had been craving for sweet and sour pork lately. Because of the busy weeks that we had, our fridge was not fully stocked yet. Luckily, a package of tofu and veggies ..saved the day. This recipe is so easy to make! Full of flavor and healthy to boot. Perfect for my craving. The sauce is so good and I love that the tasty sauce was absorbed by the tofu. Not everybody likes tofu. Depending on how you cook the tofu, it can really be bland. But this recipe? You will surely fall in love with a bowl full of  sweet and sour tofu.


1 package extra firm tofu
2 tbsp cornstarch, divided
2 tbsp EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp organic powdered ginger
1 cup diced red bell pepper pepper,
1 cup diced green bell pepper pepper
1 cup , sliced zucchini
1 cup , sliced red onion
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sweetener of choice ( maple syrup, agave, raw honey)
2 tbsp liquid aminos
2 tbsp cold water
black pepper
optional: red pepper flakes or homemade sambal oelek


Start by draining the tofu. Place the tofu on a plate lined with absorbent paper towels.
 Place another towel on top of the tofu and top with another plate. Leave it for 15 minutes then I flipped the tofu again, making sure to drain it well. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes ( or a little larger if you like) , place in a bowl, drizzle with 1 tbsp of cornstarch. Mix carefully.

Heat a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and fry the tofu until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. 

While the tofu is frying, in a separate bowl mix the rice vinegar, sweetener, and liquid aminos. . You can adjust the ingredients to your liking( sweet and tangy) I know some like it more sweet, some like it more salty. In a separate small bowl, stir together the water and remaining tablespoon of cornstarch. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and set aside. When the tofu is cooked, remove it from the pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. 

  Heat a tbsp of  oil,using the same frying pan , saute the red onion until translucent, add garlic .  Add the chopped vegetables and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. 

 Pour the sauce over and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and add the tofu. Stir to coat.

 Serve over warm rice or quinoa.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Walnut Apple Crisp

Home stretch. Teachers, the students and parents are all in the home stretch. Summer vacation is fast approaching! We already planned our summer activities and lessons. Honestly, I am looking forward for lazy mornings. Some school already had their last day of school this week. Speaking of last day of school, do not forget to grab your FREE last day of school printables HERE.

With all the end of the school year recognition and awards that you may see across social media, just a reminder to also celebrate them . Not just their school awards , trophies and grades. Read , 35 Ways to Celebrate Your Children. 

Do not get caught up with their certificates and of course we should be proud of them! It is YOUR and YOUR KIDS hard work. But beyond the school recognition, there are ways and reason to celebrate our kids. What better way to celebrate an event ( or no event) with a very easy to make and delicious warm WALNUT APPLE CRISP. I have made this in the past and I made a couple of revision. I added more butter and added walnuts. My husband and kiddos loved it. This is THE BEST WALNUT APPLE CRISP.

It is seriously frugal and easy to make. You can skip the walnuts if you want it to be more budget friendly . BUT, the walnuts are my favorite in this recipe. Serve it warm or room temperature, it is just as good. Serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Are you drooling yet?

I am over at My Joy Filled Life, sharing this recipe.

It is so goood! Tasty all the way to the bottom. We seriously scraped the dish, no left over policy you know ( wink wink!)


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Easy Mustache Royal Icing Cookies

I've always been intimidated with Royal Icing. I have a separate Pinterest board dedicated just for Royal icing. I've tried making it, I failed. It is just way too overwhelming for me ( and no it is not the cleaning part). It was either to stiff or too runny. Then one day, Lily and I are browsing through Instagram's baking videos. She was so interested in cookie decorating!

She asked me if we can make cookies, so she can decorate. How can I say no to that? I always enjoyed getting our girls involved in the kitchen ( and again no, not the cleaning part). To my surprise, I bravely took all of my supplies and conquered this. It's about time to give it a try again. Let me first throw it out there that these cookies are not as close as the "professionally made by bakers". However, these cookies are :

1. Full of memories of me and our youngest baking together.
2. Will be eaten by little kids who look up to their "mommy baker"
3. Delicious.

What I certainly love about this sugar cookie recipe is that they do not need to be chilled. It is very simple and delicious on it's own.


Sugar Cookies:

1 Cup unsalted butter
1 Cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Using a mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Beat in egg, vanilla and almond extract.
In a separate bowl combine baking powder with flour.
Add the dry ( flour mixture) ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time.
 If the dough looks stiff for you  , place it on a clean surface Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.
I divided the dough into 2 batches. Roll it out onto a floured surface and cut with your mustache cookie cutter. I rolled it out to 1/4 " thickness
Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.
Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.

There is no need to chill the dough , it came out really good.

Royal Icing:

4 cups confectioners Sugar
2 tbsp Meringue powder
6 tbsp water

Materials Needed:

Etching tool or toothpick
Squeeze bottles
12 inch disposable bags
Edible marker
#3 Wilton tip


Have all of your materials ready.

Mix all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff.

 Place some of the icing into a disposable pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip and outline the outside of the cookie.  Save some icing for the flooding. Just make sure to cover the bowl with moist paper towel.

 You’ll want to make sure that the outline is pretty well set before moving on to flooding the cookies.

Using a spray bottle , spray water into the remaining icing until the icing reaches an almost liquid consistency. Pick some icing up with a spoon and let it drizzle back into the bowl – the drizzle should disappear into the bowl within 10 seconds. Place the icing into a squeeze bottle. Now you are ready to flood the cookies.

Squeeze in the icing to almost fill the inside the cookie.Using an etching tool or  a toothpick , gently distribute the icing to empty spots. 

The cookies need to dry completely before adding the designs.I did let them sit overnight. Before I added the "hair" design using an edible marker. You can also use the royal icing ( piping consistency). I just do not have any black coloring on hand.

I am happy with the way it turned out. Of course , it does not look nearly as nice as the "professionally baked royal icing cookies that I love to watch on Instagram. BUT it is perfect for non-bakers like me. Easiest to boot!

Our five year old will for sure agree.

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