I’ve been itching to get back to fun projects like sewing now that we’re pretty settled into the 1920’s house. (I’ll admit, the Christmas decor is still up…not high on my priority list yet; at least there’s not a ton of it to put away anyhow). The demands of everyday life sometimes take all my time and energy, though, and crafting gets put on a back-burner. Still, I try to be creative in the kitchen daily, usually with plenty of flops to show for it. Sometimes it’s better to stick to a recipe than tweaking them. (I will forever blame Miley Cyrus for my mental audio replay—you know, the voice inside your head that reads to you what you’ve written—stumbling over the word “tweaking” and mispronouncing it “twerking.” *Shudder*. No, no twerking, please!) However, sometimes you have to just go with what you have in your fridge or pantry and see what happens.
Recently I wanted hot chocolate and didn’t want to pay over a dollar for only six single-serve packages, so I decided to make my own mix, something I’ve done before but not in years. I had made sweet potato hot chocolate (sounds healthy, right?) a few times using this clean eating recipe: http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-sweet-potato-hot-cocoa/. We liked it pretty well as it was creamy (though somewhat sludgy at the last) and tasted good. Actually, I should say the little one LOVED it and kept demanding more, very unhappy if I put a limit on that. But it meant I had to clean out my blender all the time and since we’re doing green smoothies these days (fruit smoothies with spinach or kale–so the picky kiddo gets SOME greens…and I said I’d never raise a picky kid. Not always a choice), I didn’t want the hassle when the next morning I would need to use the blender again. I wanted a shelf-stable supply I could use when the hubs made his instant coffee (instant because I value my counter space and don’t want another appliance). After searching through a bunch of recipes I went with more or less the following mix:
Simple, Inexpensive Hot Cocoa Mix
2+ cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
2-1/2 cups powdered milk (food processed into powder instead of the beady clumps it comes in)
1/2 cup creamer (some left this out, but I had it so used it)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
optional: up to 1 cup food processed chocolate chips (try mint!)
additional optional add-in: tiny freeze-dried marshmallows
I kept seeing recipes that called for Nesquick or other things that I consider cheating. If I’m bothering to make homemade, Nesquick is not an option. It’s too expensive anyhow. (By the way, a great article on the cost and health breakdown of homemade vs. storebought can be found here http://thesavedquarter.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/scratch-vs-store-bought-hot-cocoa/ which peaked my interest as a home economist.) The only reason I included the option marshmallow add-in is because I was able to find those on sale for 35 cents a container at Big Lots (a great place to snag deals) and they’re kinda fun. I doubled the recipe and whoaaaah did I end up with a lot of mix. So then I made these beauties with the help of an adorable little taste-tester (before we added the raw eggs):
They’re Hot Cocoa Mini Cheesecakes, a recipe I adapted from http://insidebrucrewlife.com/2013/01/hot-chocolate-cheesecakes/ . The original recipe called for sour cream and chocolate graham crackers, neither of which I had. But I did have plenty of homemade yogurt to substitute for the sour cream, and cocoa powder and granulated sugar to make the regular graham cracker crumb crust chocolate!
Hot Cocoa Mini Cheesecakes
yield 18 cupcakes
1 1/2 c crushed graham crackers
1/3+ c cocoa powder
1/8 c sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 (8 oz.) cream cheese packages, softened
1 c hot cocoa mix
2 Tbsp plain yogurt (greek if you have it)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp flour
1 c whipped cream
mini hot cocoa marshmallows
1. Mix (easiest in food processor, mixer or by hand will work, too) together the crushed graham crackers, cocoa, sugar and melted butter to make a dark-chocolate-colored crust. Distribute evenly into paper cupcake cups (I used a cookie dough scoop which put just the right amount in each). Flatten with a small glass or cup bottom to compact.
2. Blend cream cheese and hot cocoa mix until smooth, then add in eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and flour until homogeneous. Spoon into cupcake liners 3/4 full. (I didn’t have any left over).
3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (don’t worry if they crack–you’ll be frosting them!)
4. Set for a few minutes in the cupcake pans, then cool on wire rack and refrigerate until ready to dollop whipped cream on top, decorate with mini marshmallows and your choice of candy sprinkles (customize to the occasion! No limits! I thought silver sprinkles looked classy.)
I made these for a book study but half the gals had made New Year’s resolutions to do a health cleanse, so Hubby took a few extra to work and got rave reviews. I also found that these froze especially well, and the whipped cream frosting didn’t stick to the lid of the container because of the marshmallows and sprinkles!
Today was an unusually productive day at home, thanks to a good attitude I suppose and a mid-day nap for the little one (who lately has been trying to skip them). I de-boned the chicken thighs from yesterday’s crock-pot chicken-broth batch (recipe to come) and got about 4+ cups of shredded chicken (enchiladas, here we come!) and 5 qt. homemade chicken broth. Healthy stuff. Froze most, but to get it into the freezer I first had to organize said freezer. How I miss the side-by-side freezers I’ve been spoiled with for most of my marriage. Anyhow, this one works and came with the place.
What’s this? I now have room to spare? Meat Sale Wednesday shopping trip can cure that, methinks!
On a further note about organizing, check out the dollar store bin I am dubbing “the snack bin” which can fit a whole bag of grapefruit as well as apples while sliding neatly in and out for my convenience.
I cut up carrots and put snack baggies full in there for Hub’s lunches, and this morning while eating my grapefruit I used the extra juice to dip apple slices in to prevent from browning (since I think the lemon juice solution is too tarty), so put baggies of apple slices in there, too. But because I thought it’d be fun to put an on-the-go peanut butter “dip” with a sliced apple as a snack, here’s my solution to prevent a sticky/soggy/slimy peanutbutter mess (you know, how it turns lighter weird-colored when it gets wet?):
A little medicine measuring cup is perfectly sized to fit into the core-spot when the apple slices are arranged in one of those 1 cup rubbermaid containers.
Then there was the flopped black bean chicken chili (so I soaked dried black beans overnight and thought they’d be tender in the crock pot after 6+ hrs. on low…wrongo!). We didn’t end up crunching on that for supper—-leftover chicken fingers dipped in BBQ sauce instead.
(You can see I have a slow-cooker-fixin’s freezer container for next time, which I think I will cook overnight to solve the crunchy-bean prob).
Yup, an exciting day in the kitchen for me.
AAAAAaaaanddddd….I even got to sew a little! The little one was so excited to sit on my lap as I tried to keep him from impaling himself on needles or doing other damage while I replaced the elastic to two of his pairs of pants.
I didn’t have the right size of elastic, but I DID have the cut-off recycled elastic from…uh…well, from a pair of boy-short underwear I thought were wedgie-factory-quality. Weird, I know, to cut off the elastic from unmentionables and save it, right?! Who does that? I learned it from my grandma and then my mom who both passed it on to me. We just do stuff like that, saving bra-hooks, velcro and such off spent clothing to re-use (whether or not we ever do…can become borderline hoarding). Yes, people, I can survive a depression. 🙂
Finally, a great triumph of my day was exercising during naptime to an online pregnancy pilates workout for 45+ whole minutes! Thanks again to naptime. See my nifty dumbbell substitute? Cuz I’m cool like that.
All this unusual productivity pooped me out today! (Once you have kids, everything is “poop”y. It’s just on the brain.) Time for bed, where I’ll dream of a clean kitchen. Not something I posted a picture of for a reason :).