Desserts and Bakery

Italian Almond Cookies

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During a trip to Sienna, Italy I was told I HAD to try their notorious almond cookies. It took just one bite for me to fall in love with these sweet melt-in-your-mouth cookies, and now, months later, I have found myself craving these sweet pastries again. This recipe is my best attempt at recreating Sienna’s much loved cookies. While admittedly they aren’t the same cookies I enjoyed in a small Italian cafe, they are dangerously delicious.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup shortening (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • coarse sugar (for coating cookies)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and prepare baking sheets.
  2. Using electric beaters or stand mixer, beat together sugar, butter, and shortening until creamy. Stir in eggs and almond extract.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together cake flour, all purpose flour, corn starch, and salt. Gradually add dry mixture to butter mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  4. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Roll 1/2 Tbsp of dough into a ball and roll in raw sugar. Place dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 7 minutes (do NOT over cook). Remove cookies from oven and gently flatten cookies with the back of a spoon while they are still warm. Place cookies on cooling and allow to cool completely before serving.

The Frugality

At first glance these may appear as more expensive cookies because of less common ingredients, like cake flour and almond extract. However, after crunching some numbers I was amazed to find that this entire batch of about 125 cookies only cost around $6.00! That’s only 5 cents per cookie! So go ahead, buy the almond extract and cake flour so you can make these delicious little morsels…if you don’t like the cookies (which I doubt will happen) and you are looking for something else to use the ingredients then I suggest putting the ingredients into these Blackberry Pie Bars.

Nutrition Breakdown

Serving Size = 2 cookies

Calories 118; Cals from Fat 56; Total Fat 6.2 g (Saturated 2.5 g; Polyunsaturated o.1 g; Monounsaturated 0.7 g; Trans 1.3 g); Cholestorol 16 mg; Sodium 3.1 mg; Potassium 6.6 mg; Total Carbohydrates 15 g (Dietary Fiber 0.4 g; Sugar 6.1 g); Protein 1.4 g

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Cookie Dough Truffles

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These little morsels are so good. I’ve made them several times to bring to gatherings and they are always a huge hit. And if you don’t have a party to bring them to, don’t worry, they keep well in the fridge for a couple weeks! And an added little bonus, there isn’t any raw egg, which means you don’t have to feel AS guilty eating the dough while you make them.

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 3 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp oil

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together, then add vanilla and water and beat well. Add flour mixture and mix well. Add mini chips and mix well.
  3. Use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop the dough and roll it into 3/4 to 1 inch balls. Place the balls on wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm.
  4. Microwave milk chocolate chips and oil in a microwave safe container for 30 second intervals until melted; stirring in between intervals. Use a toothpick to dip each ball of dough into the melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drain off before placing on a wax paper lined sheet. Remove toothpick and fill the hole with melted chocolate. Place if refrigerator to set. This makes about 60-70 truffles (depending on how much dough you eat while making it)

The Frugality

These cost about as much as it does to make chocolate chip cookies, but it makes twice as many morsels as a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Bread

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After some miscommunication over who was going to stop at the store, we wound up with two very large boxes of blueberries. Of course that meant we needed to find a way to utilize all the blueberries before they went bad. What better way to do that than bake them into a delicious dessert? I made this bread one other time last summer and it was amazing! The fresh blueberries and the citrus from the lemon makes it a perfect summer dessert.

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Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

Lemon Syrup

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining Tbsp of flour. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Then remove the loaf to a wire rack that is on top of wax paper or a baking sheet.
  6. While the loaf cools, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Using a toothpick, poke holes in the top and sides of the warm bread loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush it with the syrup again. Let the bread cool completely before cutting. This recipe makes about 14 slices of bread or 12 muffins (adjust the baking time for the muffins).
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Blackberry Pie Bars

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All I can say is these bars are amazing!  I made them for the first time this past Saturday to bring to a Fourth of July celebration and they were a huge hit.  The next day people were still talking about the “amazing bars at the barge party.”

I have to give credit to Pink Parsley for coming up with this amazing recipe.  She also suggests serving these bars warm with ice cream, like a cobbler.  I may just have to try the cobbler version next time!

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Ingredients

Crust and Topping

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter

Filling

  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • pinch salt
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 (16 oz) packages of frozen blackberries, thawed and drained

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.  Grease a 9×13″ baking pan.
  2. To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; mix together.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Using two butter knives, cut through the butter and flour by criss-crossing each other until the mixture is small crumbles.  If you have a large enough food processor, you can mix the flour and butter in the food processor instead of using the old fashioned method.
  3. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crust mixture for topping.  Press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of the pan, and bake 12-15 minutes.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
  4. To make the filling, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest, and almond extract.  Then gently fold in the blackberries and spoon the mixture over the crust.  Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the filling, and bake 50-60 minutes.
  5. Let cool for at least one hour before cutting into bars.  Or spoon out while it’s warm and serve with ice cream.  The leftover bars keep well in the fridge for about a week.

Icebox Cookies

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Looking for a quick and inexpensive dessert to bring to this year’s 4th of July party??!  Try these Icebox Cookies!  They are so unbelievably simple and everyone will love them!

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Ingredients

  • Chocolate Wafer Cookies
  • Homemade whipped cream (you CANNOT substitute Rediwhip or fake whipped topping for this!)
  • Hersey’s Chocolate Syrup

For the Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla

Directions

  1. Using a hand mixer or standing mixer, whip the heavy cream until light and fluffy.  Be careful not to over-whip!  (You can tell when the cream is perfectly whipped if it forms a peak when you pull the mixer out).  Add the desired amount of powdered sugar and vanilla.  Start by adding about a teaspoon of vanilla and a couple tablespoons of sugar, then taste and add more as necessary.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper.  Build each cookie by alternating one chocolate wafer with a spoonful of whipped cream until you have three layers.  Drizzle all of the cookies with Hershey’s Syrup.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours to overnight before serving.

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Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread

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This Cooking Light Banana Bread recipe has become a favorite in our house.  The low-fat yogurt is a lighter substitution for the typical sour cream that’s used to give banana bread it’s moist, dense texture.  A chocolate swirl adds a little extra sweetness, making it a perfect afternoon snack when you’re craving something sweet.  When we make our bread we like to pre-slice it and freeze the individual slices in a freezer bag.  This keeps the bread from going bad and prevents us from eating it too quickly.  When I’m ready to have a slice I simply defrost it in the microwave for about 45 seconds and enjoy the chocolate-banana goodness!

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 3 egg whites)
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a larger bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until well blended.  Add the mashed bananas, egg, and yogurt.  Beat until well blended.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until moist.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on high for 30 second intervals until the chips are completely melted.  Cool slightly.  Add 1 cup of the banana batter to the chocolate and stir until well combined.
  5. Alternately spoon the chocolate batter with the plain batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Then use a knife to swirl the batters together.
  6. Bake at 350º F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.  Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan.  Then let it cool completely on the wire rack before cutting.  This recipe makes about 16 slices.

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The Frugality

Not only is this banana bread less fattening than most, but it’s inexpensive too!  Minus the plain low-fat yogurt, I almost always have all of the ingredients in my kitchen .  Since almost everyone always has the traditional baking ingredients, such as flour and sugar, I don’t include them in my cost model.  The only things most people may need to purchase are chocolate chips, bananas, and yogurt.  All of this comes to a total of about $3.00, that’s only $0.19 per slice!  Way cheaper and healthier than the $2.00 slice of banana bread at Starbucks!

Rhubarb Cake

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This is seriously the best thing you could ever make with rhubarb.  This recipe comes from my mom’s grandmother, and it is tradition for us to make it at least once every spring when rhubarb is in season.  Do NOT pass this recipe up!  It’s like an extremely moist coffee cake, but ten times better.  Sometimes I make my own whipped cream to serve on top of the cake, but it is also extremely good on its own.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups raw rhubarb, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour a 8 1/2 x 11 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, shortening, and egg.  Then stir in the vanilla.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix the flour baking soda and salt.
  4. Alternately add the dry mixture and the buttermilk into the wet mixture; beating until smooth.  You will alternate between adding the dry mixture and adding the buttermilk about three times.
  5. Stir in the chopped rhubarb.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly throughout the pan.
  6. Before baking, mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
  7. Bake at 350° F for about 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is a light brown and it passes the toothpick test.  Let it cool on a wire cooling rack for about 20 minutes before serving.  Once the cake has cooled completely you can cover it with saran wrap and it will keep for about a week.

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Raisin Bran Muffins

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After purchasing a box of Raisin Bran cereal, my mom decided she really didn’t like Raisin Bran.  So she challenged me to find a way to use the raisin bran in a recipe.  I was a little leary of the concept of baking cereal into muffins, but it actually turned out really well!  These muffins are really moist and would be perfect for a healthy snack or quick breakfast.

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Ingredients

Muffin

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Raisin Bran Cereal
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and line muffin tins with paper liners or cooking spray
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt
  3. In a large bowl, mix the sifted mixture with the cereal and milk.  Let stand for at least 3 minutes
  4. Stir in the egg, applesauce, butter, and sugar.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full.  It will make about 16 muffins.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the muffins.
  8. Bake at 400°F for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool completely on a wire rack, and enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Granola Cookie Bars

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So I was invited to a last minute cook out and asked to bring a small dish to pass.  This usually wouldn’t be an issue for me, but since I am heading home for the summer in five days I’ve been trying to clean out my cupboards for the past week.  Luckily, I recalled a recipe I had recently seen in this April’s issue of Cooking Light, and I just so happened to have all of the ingredients!

These Chocolate Chip Granola Cookie Bars are simple, simple, simple. And might I also add, delicious!  This was my first time making it and I will definitely be making it again in the near future.  Props to Cooking Light for, once again, providing me with a yummy and guilt-free recipe.

I will admit, I altered the recipe a little bit, which may have made it not as healthy as their version, but hey, it’s dessert.  We can all splurge a little when it comes to dessert.  I also doubled the recipe since the original recipe only makes 8 servings.  The recipe that I’ve provided are my alterations.  If you want the original Cooking Light recipe you can follow this link to their website.

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Coarsely chop the pecans (if they aren’t pre-chopped).  Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  3. While pecans toast, combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stirring until well combined.
  4. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.
  5. Add the flour, oats, pecans, and chocolate chips to mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Press the dough into a lightly greased 9×12 inch glass baking pan; spreading evenly throughout the pan.
  7. Bake at 350° for 13 minutes or until set.  Let it cool slightly on a wire rack.  Cut into 20 pieces.

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The Frugality

I have to admit, I don’t have any facts on the cost-effectiveness of this recipe.  I was just lucky enough to have all of the ingredients for this recipe at the time.  Even the chocolate chips were a hodge-podge of the assorted chips I had left in my cupboard; a mixture of mini chips, milk chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips.  However, I will say, if you bake often you likely have all of these ingredients; making this a very frugal recipe and an excellent way to use up left-over ingredients from previous baking adventures.

Best Ever Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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I have been so anxious to share my first post that I went forth and baked something simply for this momentous occasion.  Luckily I happened to have all of the ingredients for my all time favorite muffins!

I am extremely particular when it comes to bananas. I know it’s strange, but I prefer to eat bananas when they are closer to green than when they are truly ripened.  Because of this, my bananas have a short shelf life. However, as a frugal foodie, I cringe at the thought of throwing away food and so I opt to freeze my “leopard bananas” until a later use.

Today I decided to make my frozen bananas into a childhood favorite, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.  These muffins are super easy and delicious, and if you’re an avid baker like myself, you likely have all of the ingredients sitting in your cupboards.

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large ripened Bananas
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1/3 cup melted Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (sometimes I use less if I’m using salted butter)
  • 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions

  1. Mash bananas
  2. Add sugar and slightly beaten egg.  Stir with a spoon or whisk until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Add the melted butter and stir until thoroughly mixed
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  (I like to sift my dry ingredients first)
  5. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir until it is mixed thoroughly. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon the mixture into muffin tins that have been lined with paper muffin liners or greased with cooking spray.  Then bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until the tops of the muffins are a golden brown.
  7. Place the muffins on a wire cooling rack and let them cool for at least five minute before eating

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This recipe makes about 16 to 18 muffins depending on how big you make them.  I like my muffins on the bigger side so I usually only get 16 muffins out of a batch.  Once my muffins have cooled completely, I like to freeze them in a ziplock freezer bag.  This keeps them from getting stale too quickly and prevents me from eating them in two days.  When I’m ready to eat one I simply thaw it in the microwave for about 20 to 30 seconds (just so the chocolate chips are slightly melted) and enjoy the ooey gooey deliciousness.