Saturday, June 15, 2013

Have a fun & frugal Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there - including my incredible husband!

In celebrating holidays, our family has found that we don't need to spend a lot of money on gifts to communicate how much we care for one another. In fact, I've discovered that the less money we spend, the more creative and thoughtful we are in our gift giving.

This year for Father's Day, Will and I did a little "I love Dad" photo shoot in our backyard with some sidewalk chalk. (If there are any procrastinators out there, this idea is both frugal and a good last-minute gift idea.) It doesn't need to be perfect - just have fun!

On Father's Day we're going to let Dad sleep in, have a lazy breakfast with Eggs Benedict (Dad's favorite), present him with our gifts and let him put his feet up for the rest of the day. Unless, of course, he'd rather spend his "day off" working in the garden - we frugal folk aren't good at sitting still for long.

What are some of your favorite frugal Father's Day crafts or gifts?

Cheers to dads!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Better than Belgian: Restaurant-style waffles at home

I am a sucker for waffles. If there is a Belgian waffle on a breakfast menu, my order is a foregone conclusion. While I've tried to imitate restaurants' crisp, buttery waffles at home, my attempts have always fallen short.

That is, until I discovered the secret ingredient - yeast. Now, if you're like me, the mere mention of 'yeast' may have you backing away from the computer. Lord knows I've cursed many a hockey puck roll. Well this recipe, my friend, is easy as pie. Make that way easier than pie.

Step one is having yeast readily available, and I don't mean in tiny packets collecting dust at the back of your cabinet. Due to my husband’s recent interest in baking as a hobby (one that, needless to say, I do everything in my power to encourage), we discovered that you can buy one pound bags of yeast on Amazon for around $8. That beats the pants off the $4 you pay in the grocery store for just three ¼ oz packets. When stored in the freezer in a Ziploc bag, your pound of yeast will stay fresh for a few years meaning that a) you can whip up tasty baked goods at a moment’s notice and b) you can no longer blame failed recipes on old yeast. Darn. 

Step two is deciding you want waffles for breakfast on Friday night vs. Saturday morning. With this recipe, you start the mix before you go to bed, and when you wake up the next morning the batter is bubbly and nearly ready to go on the waffle iron. Bonus? Fewer dishes to clean up after your tasty breakfast.


Overnight Waffles
Courtesy of Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled (I use less - about 4-5 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola or other neutral oil for brushing the waffle iron
2 eggs

Before going to bed, combine the dry ingredients and stir in the milk, then the butter and vanilla. The mixture will be loose. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight at room temperature.

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. Separate the eggs and stir the yolks into the batter. Beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.

Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3-5 minutes, depending upon your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.