Sweet French Toast Flexible Recipe for a Crowd, Plus Two Awesome Tips

Sweet French Toast Flexible Recipe for a Crowd, Plus Two Awesome Tips from The More With Less Mom

French toast is one of our indulgences, it is inexpensive to make and very tasty. We love french toast. We plan to enjoy some for Easter brunch this year.

It’s nice to have Texas Toast on hand to make giant, thick slices of french toast, but not necessary. All I have on hand most of the time is wheat bread, which I’m trying to convince my family they like better than white bread. The flavor difference in french toast with wheat bread is one of the places where this challenge comes to a head. In an effort to blend in the wheat flavor, I added some honey to my batter recipe. What resulted was a very sweet, almost dessert french toast.

There are 2 Totally-Not-Top-Secret Tips to awesome french toast, no matter what the recipe:

  1. Flour: You must add flour to your batter. This will give you a fluffy, custardy french toast that is divine.
  2. Soaking: You must soak your bread properly. This will allow the batter to penetrate all of the crannies in even cheap bread and give it more flavor and structure.

Sweet French Toast Recipe

Makes approx. 30 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup wheat flour (you need 1 c flour total and can use whatever combination works for your family)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (grind oats, quick or old fashioned, in blender or food processor to make)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (1 c of sugar if you are not using honey or brown sugar, you can substitute your favorite powdered sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups milk (you can substitute your favorite milk)
  • 1/4 cup honey (you can substitute maple syrup or your favorite liquid sweetener)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 – 2 loaves bread (I used 1 1/2 loaves but this will depend on the density of your bread and the thickness of your slices)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. I used to use a deep electric skillet (like this one on Amazon) which is a good multi-purpose tool, especially if you run out of burners a lot. I now have a griddle (like this one on Amazon, that I got online from a Black Friday sale for way less than that price) that does six slices at a time that I like.
  2. Grease with whatever you like, I used coconut oil this time, but I really like coconut.
  3. In a large bowl mix your dry ingredients with a whisk or fork: flours, sugars, salt and cinnamon.
  4. In a small bowl mix your wet ingredients: eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, making sure you incorporate the egg yolk.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
  6. SOAK your bread in your batter. Soak, soakie, soak. Dunk it in, flip it and hold it down with a fork for a count of 10. Flip it again and soak it for a count of 30. You have to let it soak in as much batter as it can.
  7. Just do a tester, make one piece and try it so you can add salt, sugar/honey, or cinnamon to your batter if you prefer. Also this feeds the chef so mom doesn’t starve to death before making two loaves of french toast.
  8. Once your have your batter prettied up, start assembly lining your toast. Cook until browned, flip and brown the other side (the second side goes much more quickly).
  9. Serve with your favorite topping, like maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar, fruit, or berries.
  10. These were so sweet for me that I just added enough butter to mine to add a little moisture. I make my own butter spread with real butter, olive oil, and coconut oil, and this added a new layer of flavor to my french toast.
  11. Next time I will most likely make a simple syrup and top with bananas or apples like this Absurdly Easy Homemade Pancake Syrup
  12. If you have leftovers or are making a batch ahead these can be frozen. Place two in a sandwich bag or wrap (very) well with syran wrap. You can thaw them and then pop them in the toaster for a snack. These will be good in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Recipes to try breakfast Pinterest Board



Easter Pinterest Board

Participated in Anything Goes Linky and Made by You Monday linky parties

* Also see our Green Oat Pancakes Recipe
Green Oat Pancakes Recipe

We hope you enjoyed our Sweet French Toast Flexible Recipe for a Crowd post

Yes those Amazon links are affiliate links. Feel free to buy stuff. Or just do your research so you can make informed purchases.

Title image from me, The More With Less Mom

Free Subscription Goodies – Join My Email List for 6 Printable Freebies

Free Subscription Goodies - Join My Email List for 6 Freebies from The More With Less Mom

Subscribe and get a free zip file of 6 printable goodies from my site!

I have gathered the goodness in one place, just for you. Because I love you, man.

In the confirmation email you receive there will be a link to download your goodies.

Plus, you will automatically get an email every time I post one of my loverly, in-depth, quality, super spiffy articles.

Included in the zip file is:

Baby Songs Cheat Sheet Printables – Lyrics for Play Songs & Lullabies
Hope Poem by Emily Dickinson Spring Print
If I Should Die by Emily Dickinson Halloween Print
Printable Rotating Goal List
Rainbow Retro Weekly Meal Plan (this thing is awesomesauce!)
Use It Up Adage from WWII

Subscribe below

To get your goodies fill out this here form (WordPress/regular email):

Subscribe and you will automatically get an email every time I post one of my superbly spiffy articles.

OR

Subscribe by Email/RSS via Feedburner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Participated in Anything Goes Linky

April Real Food Monthly Meal Plan

April includes both April Fools Day and Easter for holidays. There will be some malarkey happening for April Fools. There will also be ham for Easter. We always have it with candy gravy. Am I the only one who knows what candy gravy is? It involves drippings, orange juice, and brown sugar. I am dealing with guitar lessons for kid #2 one day a week, so that will usually be leftovers or crock pot day. Also we have a week of vacation in there, so I may plan a couple breakfast and lunch meals (gasp!). Our main protein for this month is chicken, with some ham. I went hog wild with the peas and asparagus.

April Real Food Monthly Meal Plan from The More With Less Mom

Ideas and resources for menu planning in April, many seasonal spring and real food recipes. Very simple ingredients, from scratch. As always, these are all frugal recipes intended for a tight budget. Real food/from scratch/traditional diet/nutrient dense/whole food/blah blah blah.

*Attention real food purists/whole foodies – the recipes I link/pin are all from scratch, but some of them you may have to make substitutions or modifications. For example, I link recipes that have sugar, but you can substitute whatever your favorite sweetener is.

*Don’t forget to read about how I meal plan at Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning!*

In this post: Seasonal Produce ~ Recipes ~ Download PDF ~ Pinterest Boards ~ Other Plans


Seasonal produce for April includes:

Vegetables

Artichokes
Asparagus
Chives
Greens
Horseradish
Leeks
Lettuce (leaf and head)
Parsnips
Peas
Rhubarb
Shallots

Fruit

Grapefruit
Oranges

Epicurious Seasonal produce maps by state
CUESA Seasonal vegetables by month


Recipes from the April Meal Plan:

*What’s with these tier thingies?

Tier 1/Most Perishable (ie shrooms, asparagus, peas, spinach, tomato)

Chicken and Asparagus Crepes from Food Network
Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken from Eating Well
Creamy Greek Scrambled Eggs from Family Fresh Cooking
Fajita Omelet from Good Cheap Eats
Fusilli with Creamed Leek and Spinach from Food & Wine
Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Noodles from Better Homes & Gardens
Italian Egg Drop Soup Stracciatella from Simply Recipes
Pappardelle with Baby Spinach, Herbs, and Ricotta from Cooking Light
Spring Brunch Bake from Taste of Home
Spring Chicken & Barley Soup from Eating Well
Spring Lentil Soup from Real Simple
Spring Pea Soup from Taste of Home
Spring Peas Risotto from Better Homes & Gardens
Spring Spinach Salad from Taste of Home
Spring-Ahead Brunch Bake from Taste of Home

Tier 2/Less Perishable (ie peppers, sweet potato)

Corn and Bell Pepper Chowder from Bon Appetit
Gingered Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup with Chive Cream from Better Homes & Gardens
Spring Vegetable Soup from Good Cheap Eats
Sweet Potato and Feta Dinner Skillet from A Couple Cooks
Thai Carrot Soup with Rice from In Praise of Leftovers

Tier 3/Pantry or Make It Whenever (ie carrot, onion)

Chili Stacks from Good Cheap Eats
Dirt Cups from Kraft
Meat Loaf Cake from Taste of Home
Mexican Lasagna from Rachael Ray
Spiced Split Pea Soup from Taste of Home
Spinach Artichoke Lasagna from Budget Bytes
Spring-Thyme Chicken Stew from Taste of Home

From Scratch Ingredients and Other Doodads

Crepes from Alton Brown
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls from Yammie’s Noshery

Download Free Printable PDF April Real Food Monthly Meal Plan from The More With Less Mom
Download PDF. This has the links in the order listed above. Keep in mind I don’t limit myself to particular days, so this is not in order by date. Save it to your desktop and you will always have a quick reference when you’re hunting dinner, you probably have the ingredients for Tier 3 recipes at this very moment!


April Meal Plan Pinterest Boards:

Meal Plan April (just look at all that tastiness!)

Recipes to Try Spring


Other April Real Food/Whole Food Meal Plans

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan from The Better Mom subscribe for shopping list
Real Food Meal Plan Kit from Live Simply includes shopping list


In this post: Seasonal Produce ~ Recipes ~ Download PDF ~ Pinterest Boards ~ Other Plans

Participated in Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop, Fabulously Frugal Thursdays Fat Tuesday Forager Festival, Happy Healthy Green & Natural, HomeAcre Hop, Homestead Barn Hop, Let’s Get Real, Meal Planning Monday, Menu Plan Monday, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Mondays, Real Food Fridays, Simple Lives Thursday, Sunday Social Blog Hop, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thrifty Thursday, and Unprocessed Fridays linky parties

*Also see our
Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning OR Free Weekly Meal Plan Printable Template from The More With Less Mom
Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning OR Weekly Meal Plan Printable Template
We hope you enjoyed our April Real Food Monthly Menu Plan post

Photo credits:
Kitchen corner photo from Ian Sommerville on Flickr



style="display:inline-block;width:160px;height:600px"
data-ad-client="ca-pub-7850434925320748"
data-ad-slot="3022842810">

Use What You Have Lightbox for Blog Photography

Use What You Have Lightbox for Blog Photography from The More With Less Mom

I have been working on improving my blog and making it more professional. One of the weakest links for many one-woman-show blogs is the photography. I have done some research to improve my photos without buying a new camera or investing in expensive professional equipment. One thing you can make yourself to help with lighting problems is a lightbox. My DIY light box is frugal, collapsible, and you can change the background.

I have a good backbone for my blog. I think my content is worthwhile and my writing is pretty good. I speaka de English. But my pictures are horrible. For my dinosaur play mat I had some dark nighttime photos, and some glaring morning light photos. For the beautiful dyed eggs we made for Valentine’s Day the pictures all came out too dark. One of my goals is to make my blog photos better, and hopefully retake photos of some of the old recipes.

I have seen many posts on lightboxes. I don’t have room to store a big old box somewhere when I’m not using it. I want to be able to control the light but still use pretty fabrics for the background. And I need it to be cheapy cheap cheap. My solution was to use what I had to make something, with plans to upgrade materials once I could make an informed decision about how to spend my money. The only thing I had to buy was two $3 lamps. This is absolutely a cheapo, starter lightbox for an extremely tight budget, and could be improved in many ways. Once you try it you can decide how best to spend your money on equipment and supplies to improve your photography.

You can get a little collapsible lightbox tent setup on eBay or Amazon for $30ish, which includes a box, lights, and a tripod. However this does not look sturdy and is pretty small. Prices go up from there for something more durable and larger. This might be a good place to start if you don’t have time to muck around, and have more money than me.

Light box set up for photographs


Supply List

  • Table or three folding tables, preferably window height
  • 4 pieces white foamboard or a white cardboard box, dollar store
  • 1 piece white posterboard, optional for background/base, dollar store
  • Masking/painters tape
  • Tracing paper, muslin fabric, tissue paper, sheer curtain, cheap shower curtain liner or other diffusing material
  • 3 desk lamps, you can use a lamp with no shade if you have someone to hold it up to the diffuser for you
  • Extension cords if your lamps don’t reach, dollar store
  • Camera

Light box set up for photographs

For your box you can use a white cardboard box, or foamboard. You need holes in the sides and top to let light in. You need lights of some type to direct light into the box. You need something to filter the light through the holes and onto your item without casting a dark shadow or glare.

You need to place a table in front of a window to take advantage of natural light. You want as much indirect light as possible. I had to move a couple chairs out of the way and put three folding tables up (you can get these at thrift stores cheap, if your windows are low enough and the tables are high enough).

I used four pieces of white foamboard (2 sides, back, and top) for my box. You can get this at the dollar store, I had a bunch for crafts and such. I used a white piece of posterboard for the background. Posterboard is 22×28, so for the space you have to work with one of your dimensions is going to be 22 inches. If you tape your posterboard to the back panel at the top you can drape it down under your item and you won’t have a horizon line or seam in the background. I used painters/masking tape to hold them together. I found that the tape came right off the posterboard, but tore the foamboard. You can disassemble your box to store it, or leave the tape and put one side in front and one side in back and fold to store. Mine is stuck behind a hutch.

I already had a pad of tracing paper, but they are available at WalMart for about $5. You can also use muslin fabric to diffuse light. You can try tissue paper if you just want to experiment with it, but it is as fragile as you would expect. If you are shopping for tracing paper you could also get a large piece you can tape directly to a window to use that as your light source. I laid a piece of tracing paper in the middle of a piece of foamboard and roughly traced that, then used those lines to make a window that was slightly smaller (to leave room for overlap). I used one side of a pair of scissors to cut the hole (and not the table underneath). I used regular transparent tape to keep the tracing paper on. I made three of these panels.

Item photography using a lightbox and background fabric

Lay down the last piece of foamboard, the one that is still whole, this is the back. Use masking tape to attach either side panel. Attach your posterboard to the top of the back panel, or if you want to use fabric you can skip that step. Stand up your sides and angle them in just a little so you can perch the top panel on top. If you are using fabric drape it over the back (after ironing it, despite the example I have set). I had some mid-century modern curtains that had been cut that I got from a thrift store. Now perch your top panel, carefully, on top of your creation. You can tape it if you want to secure it.

For your lights you can use desk lamps. Gooseneck ones are ideal, or at least ones where you can position the shade. The ones I got had a knob you could unscrew to position the shade, then tighten. Clamping ones may or may not be best depending on your table. You need to aim the light through your filters/diffuser holes. I had one lamp and had to buy two more at $3 each, from a closeout store like Big Lots or Building 19 (Ocean State Job Lots). The only ones I could find were 40 or 60 watt lights, and I want more light. If you try to use a stronger bulb in a lamp that isn’t rated for it you probably maybe won’t burn your house down. I will be keeping an eye out at yard sales and flea markets for lamps that will take higher wattage bulbs (these are expensive), and then I will invest in full-spectrum bulbs. I placed the lightest lamp on the top (carefully) and the other two on the sides. I did need two extension cords, which you can get at the dollar store (short ones).

One important thing that will improve your photography is to reduce blur, and one way to do that is to get a tripod. Or putting your camera up on a stack of books. Pressing the button to take a picture moves the camera enough to cause blurriness. I have had a tabletop tripod I got from eBay for a couple dollars. I will be keeping an eye out for a regular tripod this summer, you can get them for under $20.

You should now have your DIY lightbox assembled. You can place your item and take some pictures. I have an old Kodak digital camera I got for $20 used on eBay. If your phone has a decent camera you can use that. Hopefully you can now take lovely photographs with your new lightbox and experiment with different camera settings to get the most from your equipment. Of course, now you have to learn how to best compose photos, how to use your camera effectively, how to edit your photos on the computer… Good luck!


Here are my sample shots. I chose this lotion parfait as my main subject because it has mica flecks in it and I know it’s hard to photograph the sparklies.

Item photography using a lightbox
Lovely photo taken in the lightbox, even with lamps that aren’t bright enough you can see how it picks up the mica glitter. My item is illuminated without there being harsh glare or deep shadows. It looks oh-so-desirable!

Item photos with different lighting
You can see how lighting affects your photography:
With all of the lighting I can get, but not diffused, I get a bright photo with item-obscuring glare
With no flash or lamps the item is very dark, even with my room lights on (yes, this is right next to a window during the day)
With the flash I get a very bright, almost garish item, with stark, dark shadows
With the lightbox I get an item that is lit enough to be clear, but it is a soft light that does not add glare or contrast that I do not want

Item photo old way versus new way
Before I would put something behind the item, turn on every light in the house, take photos with and without flash, and try to edit myself into a decent picture on the computer
Now I take the time to set up the light box, and spend less time editing post-production

Lotion photo with different backgrounds
Soap photo with different backgrounds
You can see my item on different backgrounds, easily changed if you leave the box collapsible

Item group photography using a lightbox
Pretty group photo, despite the well-loved (ie used) products

*Items photographed are from Rustic Luxury NH (and are awesome)
Mid-century modern backgrounds are fabric from old curtains bought at The Melamine Cup thrift store


Other Blog Photography Links

Cheap and Simple Tools for Better Blog Photography
How To Take Great Shots Without A Big Girl’s Camera from Red Ted Art
The Secret to Food Photography When Your Lighting Sucks from Happy Food Healthy Life
Setting Up a Photo Studio on the Cheap
Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up from Handmade Spark


Blog Tools Pinterest Board

Rustic Luxury


Participated in Anything Goes Linky, Live Laugh Linky, Made By You Monday, Monday Funday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thrifty Thursday and Treasure Box Tuesday blog linky

Top 10 of 2013 from More With Less Mom
*Also see our Top 10 of 2013 from More With Less Mom

OR

1,000 Pinterest Followers Celebration Best of The More With Less Mom
1,000 Pinterest Followers Celebration Best of The More With Less Mom

We hope you enjoyed our Use-What-You-Have Light Box for Blogging Photographs post

Photos by me, The More With Less Mom

*This article contains affiliate links. Mostly for illustrative purposes. If you hover over a link in the lower left corner of your browser you will see the url, you can check if it goes to Amazon or some other goodie. But feel free to buy stuff, or just educate yourself on prices and features so you can make informed purchases.

March Real Food Monthly Meal Plan

March Real Food Monthly Meal Plan from The More With Less Mom

Ideas and resources for menu planning in March, many seasonal winter (and a couple spring) and real food recipes. Very simple ingredients, from scratch. As always, these are all frugal recipes intended for a tight budget. Real food/from scratch/traditional diet/nutrient dense/whole food/blah blah blah.

*Attention real food purists/whole foodies – the recipes I link/pin are all from scratch, but some of them you may have to make substitutions or modifications. For example, I link recipes that have sugar, but you can substitute whatever your favorite sweetener is.

You can save so much money by planning your meals. Even if you only plan three days at a time, you can be more thrifty by planning ahead.

The universe conspired against me for pretty much the entire month of February. I tried desperately to get the meal plan done before the 1st, which is always my goal, but this month it was not to be. The good news is the Pinterest board has over 230 pins, for your meal plan window shopping pleasure.

*A “real” meal plan with shopping list is in the works, but Feb blew that plan up. Hopefully March is kinder to me.

*Don’t forget to read about how I meal plan at Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning!*

In this post: Seasonal Produce ~ Recipes ~ Download PDF ~ Pinterest Boards ~ Other Plans


Seasonal produce for March includes:

Vegetables

Artichokes
Asparagus
Chives
Greens
Horseradish
Leeks
Lettuce (leaf and head)
Parsnips
Peas
Rhubarb
Shallots

Fruit

Grapefruit
Oranges

Epicurious Seasonal produce maps by state
CUESA Seasonal vegetables by month


Recipes from the March Meal Plan:

*What’s with these tier thingies?

Tier 1/Most Perishable (ie peppers, shrooms, broccoli)

Black Bean, Corn, and Spinach Enchiladas from We Got Real
Brown Rice-Quinoa Pilaf w/Butternut, Mushrooms & Kale from Poor Girl Eats Well
Chicken Yakisoba from Budget Bytes 30 min
Country Captain with Cauliflower and Peas from Bon Appetit
Curried Quinoa and Chicken Soup from Greens & Chocolate
Egg and Tater Breakfast Tacos from Poor Girl Eats Well
Fiesta Corn & Potato Chowder from Poor Girl Eats Well
Greek Chicken Dinner from Budget Bytes
Mexican Black Bean Lasagna from Woman’s Day 45 min
Moroccan Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew from A Couple Cooks
New Orleans-Style Chicken from Taste of Home (Mardi Gras) 50 min
Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup with Polenta Croutons from Poor Girl Eats Well
Sausage and White Bean Casserole from Family Bites
Zuppa Tuscana – Olive Garden Copy Cat from Wholesome Mommy

Tier 2/Less Perishable (ie cabbage, parsnip)

Caramelized Onion and Root Vegetable Pot Pies from Simple Bites
Cranberry-Orange Multi-Grain Snack Mix from Good Life Eats
Irish Colcannon and Thyme Leaf Soup from Cooking Light
Lentil Soup with Balsamic-Roasted Winter Vegetables from Cooking Light
New England Boiled Dinner from Simply Recipes (St Patrick’s Day with ham)
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie from Vegetarian Times

Tier 3/Pantry or Make It Whenever (ie carrot, onion)

Irish Grilled Cheese from Food Network Magazine 20 min
Jackson’s Chinese Chicken Soup from Family Bites
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash from Simple Bites
Morning Glory Muffins from Budget Bytes
Moroccan Stir Fry from Wellness Mama 30 min
Protein Rich Soup – Carrot Ginger with Lentils from Food Babe
Slow Cooker Sprouted Lentil Soup from Nourishing Days
Slow-Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables from Simple Bites
Traditional New Orleans King Cake from Taste of Home (Mardi Gras)

From Scratch Ingredients and Other Doodads

Homemade Baileys Irish Cream from Brown Eyed Baker
Irish Soda Bread from Saveur (St Patrick’s Day)

Download Free Printable PDF March Real Food Monthly Meal Plan from The More With Less Mom
Download PDF. This has the links in the order listed above. Keep in mind I don’t limit myself to particular days, so this is not in order by date. Save it to your desktop and you will always have a quick reference when you’re hunting dinner, you probably have the ingredients for Tier 3 recipes at this very moment!


March Meal Plan Pinterest Boards:

Meal Plan March (just look at all that tastiness!)

Recipes to Try Winter

Recipes to Try Spring


Other March Real Food/Whole Food Meal Plans

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan from The Better Mom subscribe for shopping list
Crumbs (Frugal) Real Food Meal Plan from Don’t Waste the Crumbs monthly
Free Weekly Real Food Meal Plan from Growing Up Herbal
Menu Plan from Finding Joy in my Kitchen
Menu Week of March 2 from Real Food for Less Money
Real Food Meal Plan from Real Food Real Deals
Real Food Meal Plan Kit from Live Simply includes shopping list
Real Food Weekly Meal Plan from Real Food Outlaws
Whole Foods February 2014 Menu from Once A Month Meals


In this post: Seasonal Produce ~ Recipes ~ Download PDF ~ Pinterest Boards ~ Other Plans

Participated in Backyard Farming Connection Hop, Clever Chicks, Down Home Blog Hop, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Fat Tuesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Full Plate Thursday, Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural, Hearth and Soul Hop, Home Acre Hop, Homemaking Link-Up, Homestead Barn Hop, Let’s Get Real, Menu Plan Monday, Meal Planning Monday, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Penny Pinching Party, Real Food Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Save Money Monday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thrifty Thursday, and Tuned in Tuesday linky parties.

Featured on:
Save Money Monday on Frugality Gal
Save Money Monday on Frugality Gal

Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning
*Also see our Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning
OR
Free Weekly Meal Plan Printable Template from The More With Less Mom
Weekly Meal Plan Printable Template
We hope you enjoyed our March Real Food Monthly Menu Plan post

Photo credits:
Kitchen corner photo from Ian Sommerville on Flickr

Valentine’s Day Dyed Eggs

Valentine for One – Chocolate Cake In a Mug Mix


Valentine For One - Chocolate Mug Cake Mix Recipe from The More With Less Mom

This Valentine’s Day mix yourself up some love, whether you have a sweetheart or not. Have yourself a lovely little mug cake in less than five minutes. Even if you have to work, you can make the mix at home and bring this in (be warned, you may want to make the bulk mix to share – who doesn’t want their own warm little cake at work?). Or if you are clueless and this is your first Valentine, this is super easy and makes a tasty gesture. You could even package this up as class gifts. And if you are a mom of multiple littles, you could sneak this into the bathroom/closet/car to scarf for your chocolate fix.

See my original post for bulk mix recipe and cost breakdown

The Recipe – Just Add Water Chocolate Mug Cake Mix

Just Add Water Chocolate Mug Cake Mix Recipe from The More With Less Mom - Photo by Lori MamaIngredients:

Single Yield: Mix for 1 mug cake

  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dry milk*
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa
  • pinch salt
  • optional to mix in: chocolate chips, peppermint chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, coconut flakes, various extracts
  • optional to top: chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, whipped cream, powdered sugar, baking cocoa…

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients.
  2. Mix with 2 Tbl water (or milk if you want it more cakey) in a bowl or mug. Make sure you get those corners on the bottom mixed. If you are at work or otherwise left without measuring implements, you want this to be the consistency of a thick cake batter.
  3. For most mugs you can double this and it will fit, it does rise a tad.
  4. You can add chocolate chips if you prefer.
  5. Cook in microwave for 40 seconds (it takes longer if you double it or use milk). If it still looks wet keep cooking for 10 second intervals. Your cake should look dry on top. If you aren’t sure use a fork to pull the side of the cake away from the mug and see if the bottom is wet. No raw egg, so a little wet won’t hurt you. You don’t want to overcook these.
  6. Let rest for 2 minutes.
  7. Top with chocolate sauce.
  8. Serve warm. Om nom!

*You can leave out the dry milk and substitute milk for the water.

If you have some baker’s chocolate in the house you can whip up some better-than-the-mix hot chocolate, as well! Go for the gold with this one!

Valentine’s Day Pinterest Board

Chocolate Pinterest Board

Participated in Anything Goes Linky, Inspiration Monday, Friday Frenzy, Live Laugh Linky, The Party Bunch, Project Inspire{d}, Saturday Show-licious, Valentine’s Day Desserts, Valentine’s Day Linky from Creations by Kara, Valentine’s Day Linky from Five Little Chefs, Valentine’s Linky from Mom ‘N Daughter Savings, and Valentine’s Treats Round-Up linky parties

Valentine’s Day Crafts, Food, and Fun
*Also see our Valentine’s Day Crafts, Food, and Fun OR
8 Frugal Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids
8 Frugal Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids OR
Hot Cocoalate Mix Recipe
*Also see our Hot Cocoalate Mix Recipe
We hope you enjoy our Valentine For One – Chocolate Mug Cake Mix

Photo credits:
Mug cake Lori Mama on Food.com Thans Lori!

Dinosaur Felt Play Mat – DIY Tips and Printable Templates

February Real Food Meal Plan


February Real Food Meal Plan from The More With Less Mom

Ideas and resources for menu planning in February, many seasonal winter and real food recipes. Very simple ingredients, from scratch, frugal recipes. Real food/from scratch/traditional diet/nutrient dense/whole food/blah blah blah.
You can save so much money by planning your meals. Even if you only plan three days at a time, you can be more thrifty by planning ahead.

Gasp! It’s the beginning of the month and I’m posting the meal plan. You would think I was actually organized.

Don’t forget to read about how I meal plan at Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning

*Attention real food purists – the recipes I link/pin are all from scratch, but some of them you may have to make substitutions or modifications. For example, I link recipes that have sugar, but you can substitute whatever your favorite sweetener is.

Seasonal produce for February includes:

Vegetables

Arugula
Asparagus
Beets
Bok choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Carrots
Celery
Fennel
Kale
Lettuce
Leeks
Onions
Parsnips
Shallots
Sweet Potatoes
Turnips
Rhubarb

Fruit

Clementines
Grapefruit
Lemons
Oranges
Pears
Tangerines

Epicurious Seasonal produce maps by state
CUESA Seasonal vegetables by month


Recipes from the February Meal Plan:

Baked Potato Soup Recipe from Shape Magazine
Brazilian Black Bean Stew Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto Recipe from Eating Well
Chicken Fried Rice with Leeks and Dried Cranberries Recipe from Cooking Light
Creamy Mushroom and Sweet Potato Pot Pie with Chive Biscuits from The Nourishing Gourmet
Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera from Everyday Food
High Protein Vegetable Soup Recipe from Shape Magazine
Kale Lasagna Diavolo Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup from Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
Macaroni and Cheese With Cauliflower from Real Simple
Mediterranean Cauliflower Pizza Recipe from Eating Well
Mexican Pork and Sweet Potato Stew from Woman’s Day
Moroccan Lentil Soup Recipe from Eating Well
Moroccan Stew from Shape Magazine
Old-Fashioned Chicken & Dumplings Recipe from Eating Well
Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips Recipe from Cooking Light
Pork, White Bean & Kale Soup Recipe from Eating Well
Potato Corn Chowder (Gluten-Free) from The Nourishing Home
Quick, Easy & Cheap GAPS Lunch: Italian Vegetable Soup from The Well Fed Homestead
Katie’s Simple Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food from Kitchen Stewardship
Simple Thai Broth from The Nourishing Gourmet
Spiced Cauliflower Latkes Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe from Cooking Light
Turkey Enchiladas Suizas from Woman’s Day
Wild Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Shepherd’s Pies Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Winter Veggie Melt from riddlelove


February Meal Plan Pinterest Boards:

Meal Plan February

Recipes to Try Winter


Other February Real Food/Whole Food Meal Plans

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan from The Better Mom subscribe for shopping list
Crumbs (Frugal) Real Food Meal Plan from Don’t Waste the Crumbs monthly
February Clean Eating Meal Plan from Jenny Collier
February Week 1 Meal Plan from Crunchy Savings
Free Weekly Real Food Meal Plan from Growing Up Herbal
Monday Meal Plan & Recipe Share from RealFoodEater
Menu Plan from Finding Joy in my Kitchen
Menu Week of February 2 from Real Food for Less Money
My GF, Locavore-ish Weekly Meal Plan from Poor and Gluten Free
Real Food Meal Plan from Real Food Real Deals
Real Food Meal Plan Kit from Live Simply includes shopping list
Real Food Weekly Meal Plan from Real Food Outlaws
Whole Foods February 2014 Menu from Once A Month Meals


Participated in Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party, and Meal Planning Monday linky parties

Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning
*Also see our Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning
OR
Free Weekly Meal Plan Printable Template from The More With Less Mom
Weekly Meal Plan Printable Template
We hope you enjoyed our February Meal Plan post

Photo credits:
Snowy herb garden from Henna Lion on Flickr

Not-Margarine Spread Recipe – Using Real Butter, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil

Not-Margarine Spread Recipe - Using Real Butter, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil from The More With Less Mom

In our gradual change over to real food, one of the things we needed to eliminate was tub margarine to homemade spreadable butter. This saves money as well as avoiding chemicals and processing. It is not frugal to buy foods that your body is not processing as nutritional. While margarine may cost less per ounce up front, your body will not use that food for the things it needs.

When I first started making spread I just used olive oil and butter. I thought I would like the olive oil flavor but I found it was an acquired taste we had to get used to. Now I can’t stand the margarine in tubs.

Not-Margarine Spread Recipe

Makes approx. 2 pounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound butter (one box/four sticks, I use unsalted sweet cream butter but you could try salted/local/organic/homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil (I use extra virgin)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (I use extra virgin unrefined)
  • dash salt (whatever kind you like, I use sea salt)

Directions:

  1. I try to make this when I am simmering something so I can use the warm stove to soften the coconut oil. You can take out the butter early to soften at room temperature without hurting anything, some people just leave their butter out, but coconut oil needs to be warmer. If you aren’t patient enough to soften you will get lumps.
  2. You can use a blender or food processor to blend your spread. My blender has cup marks on the jar, so I just use that and eyeball it.
  3. Put olive oil in blender.
  4. Add coconut oil to make two cups.
  5. Add your four sticks of butter.
  6. Add a dash of salt, more if your family likes more. You can also add a dash of sugar.
  7. The more oil you add the softer and more spreadable it will be, but also the more it will taste like olive oil.
  8. You can taste the coconut oil, but it isn’t any stronger than the olive oil. I love coconut, so it works for me.
  9. Blend/liquify until your spread is uniform. This may take some coaxing, or adding a little olive oil until you get that vortex in the middle thing.
  10. You should not have any lumps at this point.
  11. Pour into your container. You can refill a margarine tub, or use a couple mason jars. When cooled it may have lumps (just think, nuggets of coconut tastiness).
  12. Store in the fridge.
  13. Cold from the fridge it will be vaguely spreadable, but at room temp it is fine, and if it really bothers you you can increase the oil.
  14. You can’t use this as a substitute in baking, but we use butter or coconut oil so we don’t miss that.
  15. This is especially lovely on sweet bread, or french toast, or adds flavor to grilled cheese.

Another simple spreadable butter recipe can be found at Family Home & Life (this is probably the one I started out with, but I still have baby brain, I don’t remember)

Butter vs Margarine from Authority Nutrition
Butter vs Margarine Showdown from Food Renegade
Why You Should Never Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine from Wellness Mama

Cost Breakdown

Ingredients costs

Extra virgin olive oil 33.8 oz $5.99 $0.18/oz
Unrefined coconut oil 14 oz $9.49 $0.68/oz
Unsalted sweet cream butter 16 oz $2.29 $0.14/oz

My Recipe Costs

Butter 1 lb = 16 oz = $2.29
Coconut oil 1/2 c = 4 oz x $0.68/oz = $2.72
Olive oil 1 1/2 c = 12 oz x $0.18/oz = $2.16
My recipe total = $7.17 / 32 oz = $0.23/oz
Margarine
(generic tub)
16 oz $2.49 = $0.16/oz

*I got my prices from the Wegmans site for generics, but I paid less, especially for the coconut oil

Pinterest Boards

Participated in Moonlight & Mason Jars, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Real Food Wednesday, and Unprocessed Fridays linky parties

DIY Natural Orange Homemade Toddler Toothpaste Recipe
*Also see our DIY Natural Orange Homemade Toddler Toothpaste Recipe OR
Just Add Water Chocolate Mug Cake Mix Recipe
Just Add Water Chocolate Mug Cake Mix Recipe

Title image from me, The More With Less Mom

We hope you enjoyed our Not-Margarine Spread Recipe – Using Real Butter, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil post