Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Roast Beef

This recipe is of my own creation (at least I think it is), if you love a roast in a crockpot and you love chocolate you're going to really like this one. My roast was 2.5kg but I think you could use this same recipe for just about any size roast beef, you'll just have more sauce for smaller roasts is all.

What you will need:
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or 1 clove fresh minced garlic)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 heaping tablespoons of good quality coco
1/3 cup vinegar
3/4 cup apple juice
1/3 olive oil

In a bowl combine everything but the vinegar and still until its mixed in well. Put the roast in the crockpot and drizzle the vinegar over the roast, then add the sauce over top. Cook on low for at least 8 hours (I put mine on at 9am and eat at 6pm). The beef will be so soft so careful taking it out, let it stand on the cutting board for 10-15 min. you can slice but I prefer to pull the meat with two forks going in opposite directions to give that stringy look. This meat will be super juicy and have a nice deep flavour to it.

ENJOY! Love Ally

PS save the sauce and left overs for a stew; Just add in some water, vegetables the sauce and left over meat and you'll have another awesome meal.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

10 Easy Tips to Save Money This Christmas ~ Robert Pagliarini

Want to learn how to save money on gifts this Christmas and not feel like a Scrooge? According to this year’s National Retail Federation holiday survey, the average American will spend close to $700 this season on gifts, cards, decorations, and the like. This is one time when you want to be below average — way below. In fact, if you are in debt, just say no to gift buying this holiday. There is absolutely NO reason for you to go further into debt buying gifts for others. There are 13.6 million Americans who are still trying to pay off holiday debt from last year. Don’t join them by digging yourself into a deeper hole.
If you are going to buy gifts this year, the key to avoiding a holiday season that drains your bank account is to start planning early. Here are the top 10 money saving tips for steering clear of holiday debt and starting the new year in better financial shape:
  1. Plan it. Before you shop online or enter the chaos of the shopping mall, take ten minutes at home to create a spending plan that lists who you need to buy for and how much you will spend.
  2. Use discounted gift cards. How would you like $100 worth of gifts for $80? You can purchase discounted gift cards for hundreds of online/offline retailers including the Apple Store, Radio Shack, Sears, Home Depot, and others. Discounts are usually 5%-30% off the face value of the card. Check out
  3. Use social media. Before you start shopping, start following your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook. Many companies offer discounts exclusively to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends. A quick search of their recent posts may reveal money-saving discount codes.
  4. Barter via online chat. When you’re shopping online, look for a “chat” or “live help” button. Tell the customer service rep you’d like to shop with them but you want a 15% discount. Ask them to check with their manager or you will abandon your shopping cart and click over to their competitor. This won’t work all of the time, but when it does it will save you money.
  5. Find discount codes. I never buy anything online without trying to find a discount code first. I’ve literally saved hundreds of dollars and it doesn’t take more than a minute. Simply go, and to pull up all of the available discounts for your store. Use the discount code during the checkout process to get free shipping or to save 20% or more.
  6. Get cash back. If you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars this year on gifts, you might as well try to get a few bucks back. I’ve used (affiliate link — all proceeds will go to charity) for some time and have received several rebate checks.
  7. Bring on the envelopes, chuck the credit cards. Leave your credit cards and debit cards at home.  Allocate an amount of money for each gift, and put that money in separate envelopes marked with the recipients’ names.
  8. Give group gifts. When exchanging presents within large groups of people, even “token” gifts can really add up.  Try a “white elephant” exchange, a secret Santa strategy, or going in with co-workers on a gift for your boss.
  9. Make a promise that you won’t buy anything for yourself. When you’re shopping for gifts, it’s easy to be tempted to buy for yourself.  Make this season about others, not you — and remember that the items you want will likely be less expensive during the after-season sales.
  10. Avoid the “10% off, buy more” phenomenon. Stores often offer great deals when you sign up for their credit cards, but beware the high rate of interest these cards charge and ask yourself if you’ll really be saving money in the long run.  And don’t spend more than you intended just because you’re now getting a discount on your purchase.
If you follow these money saving tips, I guarantee you will put more green — and less red — into holiday shopping this year. 

The original source for this article can be found here and is written by Robert

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cookie Ornaments

Cookie Ornaments!

On a tight budget? Need new decorations? Make some cookies, put a hole in them before you bake them and BAM, you got your self an ornament ready to decorate. 

            I used gingerbread cookie dough, royal icing and sugar with sparkles for the final touch.  My daughter and my husband helped bake and decorate a batch as well. They had a blast (mostly my daughter) putting them all together. The best part about cookie ornaments is; you don't have to pack them up after! Get the kids to eat them!

If your not into making the dough, I have the chilled dough available for purchase. 1 batch makes 3 doz medium sized cookies. I also have the icing available. if you need some.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Cost Cutting Gift - The kids will be happy to help!

Ever look at some of the modern art people get paid for and think, good grief my 6 year old could do better then that! Well make it so! Its also a way to give heartfelt gifts at bankbook friendly prices.

Go to the dollar store and pick up the following:

-Bristol board
-Picture frames
-3-4 colours of acrylic paint
             tip*: You may want to pick colours that will match the decor of the "giftee"

This should cost you no more than 10$.

Now spend a nice Saturday or Sunday painting with the kids! Let them dry and then frame it. Perfect gifts for the grandparents, aunts and uncles. Don't forget to put your child's name on it and date it so you can reminisce in the Christmas's to come.

Here are some examples of artwork that adults have done (that I pulled off the internet).

Really? People buy these things? My 3 year old could do that!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Smoked Salmon Snackies

Skill Level: Easy Peasy
Smoked Salmon Snackies

you will need:
1 cup Cream Cheese
Smoked Salmon (as much or as little as you’d like)
1 teaspoon Dill weed
1-2 Cucumbers
will  make approx 20-25
Cut cucumbers no thinner than 1/8 an inch. Heat up the cream cheese in microwave for 15 seconds at a time until soft enough to stir, mix cream cheese and dill in a bowl. Spread cream cheese mixture on the cucumbers as shown. If not done so already cut salmon into 2in strips and curl them up to place on top of the cream cheese. If you place the opening of the curl side down on the cream cheese you’ll have less of a chance of it unraveling before its eaten.

Quick n Easy Appetizer Ideas

Prosciutto Sticks!

I feel theres no real need to explain how to make these prosciutto stick, but just incase. 1. go to store, buy prosciutto and bread sticks. 2. go home wrap prosciutto around breadsticks and use a pretty vase to hold them up right. Its deliciously easy! 

Veggies and Dip!

This one is simple as well! Its portable and also prevents the fear of double dipping. Although if double dipping grosses you out you might want to watch the episode of Mythbusters where they debunk the idea that germs get in the dip. This idea is great because even if you have a lot of people over you can do this with small plastic cups or get a little crazy and go to the dollar store and buy small glasses or tumblers. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gluten Free Meatballs and Sauce

Gluten Free Meatballs and Sauce

(Always double check all your ingredients to ensure they don't have the words wheat, gluten, malt, oats  or durum flour. These people are sneaky and will sometimes try to include it.)

you will need:

1 lb thawed ground beef
1/2 bag tostitos corn chips - to measure out roughly 1 cup
2 teaspoons chili  powder
2 large cloves of minced garlic
1 egg
3 tablespoons of olive oil

You can use a food processor to grind the corn chips to a fine powder (some chunks are ok ). OR if you don't have a food processor or don't want to haul it out, take a large freezer/zip lock bag and smash some in there then zip it up, with as little air as possible. Start roll a rolling pin over it until you get a nice powder.

Mix all the ingredients together in one bowl, if the mix is to dry add a tablespoon of ketchup until it all sticks but isn't soggy.  Roll these bad boys into 1 inch balls and fry them over medium in the olive oil on the frying pan until fully cooked, taking care not to burn them


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup apple juice
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch (check to ensure its made with out wheat)

In a heavy sauce pan add all the ingredients except the cornstarch, heat until bubbles start to puff out, add in cornstarch stirring constantly until thickens (will thicken even more at cooler temperatures)

Add sauce to crockpot, carefully dump in meatballs and heat on low for 1 hour before serving. you can heat for longer but you risk the meatballs becoming too tender and falling apart.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cream Cheese & Cranberry Bites

You can never go wrong with cream cheese! Heres a recipe thats retardedly easy to make and easy on the wallet too.

Things you will need
- Unsalted butter (1/4 cup) melted
- Pastry brush for the melted butter
- Phyllo pastry (found in the freezer section at the grocery store)
- Plain Cream cheese (low fat or super fat, totally up to you)
- 1 can or fresh batch of cranberries

 - Lightly brush one sheet of phyllo with butter; place another sheet of phyllo on top and brush with butter. Keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent drying. Cut the two layered sheets into three 14-in. x 3-in. strips. Place a teaspoon cream cheese and then cranberry filling in lower corner on each strip. Fold dough over filling, forming a triangle. Fold triangle up, then fold triangle over, forming another triangle. Continue folding, like a flag, until you come to the end of the strip. Brush end of dough with butter and press onto triangle to seal. Turn triangle and brush top with melted butter. Repeat with remaining strips of dough and remaining sheets of phyllo. 

- Place triangles on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. 

The key here is butter, it holds the pastry together and makes it nice and crispy. Serve warm but they are still tasty cold. 

you can also do it as a dip as shown below - just use a pie plate and dont forget the butter ;)