If you love chocolate, you’re not alone. The world is full of chocolate lovers enjoying the benefits of the brown stuff each and every day. High quality chocolate can actually be good for us, we just need to make sure we don’t binge on it! Milk chocolate and white chocolate aren’t as good for us, as they contain more added ingredients and sugar. Some people will tell you that those kinds of chocolate aren’t real chocolate. Making your own high quality chocolate can be very satisfying. If you want to create your own DIY chocolate, read on:
Before you make your own high quality chocolate, you’ll need the ingredients. You may be able to find these in your local supermarket, or you may need to go to a health store for them. The following ingredients will result in a higher quality bar of chocolate:
- Half a cup of cocoa butter.
- Half a cup of coconut oil.
- Half a cup of raw organic cocoa powder.
- Half a cup of agave syrup. You can also use honey or raw cane sugar.
If you’d like to add some fancy bits to your chocolate, feel free to do so. You’ll create something worthy of a place on a site like Venchi.com. Here are some ideas:
- Goji berries.
- Chili powder.
Use your imagination! Now, onto the best bit…
- Grate half a cup of your cocoa butter as it is usually easier to work with this way. It melts quicker, which is always a good thing. Measure out half a cup of your coconut oil too.
- Place those 2 ingredients in a bowl that can be heated up safely, and then place that in a pan containing hot water (not boiling). Stir this every now and again until it has a smooth consistency.
- Measure out half a cup of your cocoa powder. If you’re adding fancy ingredients at this point, mix it into the powder now so long as they are dry.
- Mix those ingredients into the bowl with the oil and butter. Stir until smooth.
- You’ll probably want to make your chocolate taste nice and sweet, so pour your sweetener into the mixture and stir it up well.
- You can taste the chocolate at this point to make sure it tastes how you like it. You can add ingredients like berries now too.
- When you’re sure your mixture is perfect you can pour it onto a pan, in a plate/bowl, or on another suitable surface. Freeze the chocolate for 30 minutes or chill it for 60.
- Your chocolate should now be ready to eat! If you share this with your friends and family, I guarantee they’ll be impressed with your culinary skills.
If you loved making that, plenty more delicious recipes can be found here. Cooking is a great skill, and chocolate is a great food. Mix the two together, and you can’t go wrong!
Have you tried this recipe? How did it go? Leave a comment to let us know. See you next time!
***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post of an awesome company I really like. I have personally used Campus Book Rentals and I am a fan. All opinions are, as always, 100% my own!
With all that has been going on in my personal life I decided to take this semester off. It is killing me, because I know just how close I am to finally being done. I am going to school to learn all I can and hopefully start a career in event planning and management. I have been so blessed to be able to work a bit in the field while going to school but, for me, finishing school is important and I can’t wait to get back in it and finish this long but rewarding journey. I plan to head back next semester- if I can get all the kiddos schedules to work. As of now, they are all in school but, wouldn’t you know, on different schedules. I always have at least one kid with me at home.
School is expensive and I am definitely in some student loan debt. It is the only debt we have, at this time though, and I am proud of that. But as you all know; I’m trying to live on less over here. Book prices are not helpful when it comes to a budget. I spend anywhere from $75 to $250 on EACH BOOK. Which is why Campus Book Rentals is such a relief. Their prices for books are great and they have a RentBack program that allows students to rent the textbooks they own – to other students… which is awesome because it makes them 2-4x more money compared to what you might make through buyback options!
The perks of using Campus Book Rentals:
-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
-free shipping both ways
-can highlight in the textbooks
-flexible renting periods
-donatation to Operation Smile with each textbook rental
Check out this video about the RentBack program:
Campus Book Rentals not only helps save student money, they donate to Operation Smile with each text book rented. You are to get those books anyway, why not get them for less while doing a bit of good
This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.
My kids love play dates with their friends. I love chatting with other moms and grownup time while the kiddos play and exhaust themselves for nap time (or bedtime depending on the play date time). Even though I seemingly love everything about play dates….I don’t. I really hate the pressure of hosting them. That’s not really fair to my friends or the parents of my kiddos so every once in a blue moon, I suck it up, and host a couple of moms and their kiddos. I always have a blast and it’s never as big a deal as I make out of it but there’s still some added clean up, cooking and entertaining to be done being the host of one of these shindigs.
I find this Extra Creamy Mac & Cheese recipe is a crowd please for both kids and adults and it is fairly simple to whip up. I invited a couple friends over to try it and check out my new secret cleaning weapon; Cascade Platinum. With Cascade, clean up is much easier and makes the idea of dishes far less cumbersome. This means I might be more inclined to invite people over (if only Cascade could clean my whole house before and after said play date!). I fully expected to have to bribe guests to come to my play date with the products sent to me by Cascade but instead I had an overwhelming response to come play and hang out. Perhaps it was my offer of food? Or maybe just my winning personality.
I packaged up the Cascade Rinse Aid and Cascade Platinum packets with a ribbon and a homemade ‘Thank You” tag using alphabet stickers. I added a lollipop for the kids that were leftover from a recent birthday party we had for my youngest son. I would like to say that, usually, for play dates, we don’t hand out goodies or gifts, but this was a special occasion. We were testing Cascade Platinum!
I made brownies the night before and let the pan just sit. I resisted the urge to soak it or wash it immediately. Cascade boasts that it actually works better without pre-washing- something science-y about the enzymes latch onto that food and break it down so it can wash away. I wanted that well-known hard crust that happens after you bake something. I made the Mac & Cheese while guests were arriving and when I was done I loaded up my dishwasher with the pot and pan used for the mac and cheese AND that gross brownie pan that had just been sitting on my counter. I put the Cascade Platinum products in and started the cycle. We played, ate, visited and laughed while my dishwasher did the work.
Before everyone left I showed off my clean dishes and handed out my little gifts. Everyone was impressed and rightfully so! Check out the Cascade Platinum reviews (and if you have used it; leave your own using #cascadeshiningreviews)!
Enter to win your own special Cascade Prize Pack!
This Mac ‘n cheese recipe is inspired by one from The Pioneer Woman. I haven’t tried her exact recipe but changed and tweaked it to fit my family’s needs. My foster son/nephew is allergic to mustard seed so we omitted that; made it extra creamy with half and half and cut back just a tiny bit on the amount of cheese to save some money. This is a hit with both the kids and adults and, although it does take a bit more effort than simply opening a box, it is well worth that extra bit of time!
You will need:
16oz of uncooked pasta (I use elbow usually; but whatever you have on hand works, too)
2 cups shredded cheese (plus 1/3 cup for topping if you bake this dish- see below)
2 1/4 cups half and half
1 egg beaten
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
Cook your pasta but leave a bit firm (if you plan on baking this dish after mixing, leave it really firm), drain and set aside. Use the same pot to melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk; careful not to burn. Whisk for about 5 minutes and then add your half and half. Stir regularly until smooth and thick. Reduce heat to simmer. Remove approximately 1/4 cup of this mixture and let cool for a minute (I start cleaning up at this time).
Slowly, pour your 1/4 cup of mixture into beaten egg. Stir to avoid cooking the egg. Once well incorporated, add the new egg mixture to the old mixture in your pot. Whisk together until smooth. Add shredded cheese and stir to melt. Your creamy, cheesy mixture should be thick and smooth and then you can add your pasta! Stir together and serve immediately, unless you are baking it (see below). This can be served at a later time but won’t be nearly as creamy and I suggested adding a bit of milk during the reheating process.
Optional: Bake this dish! Add cooked mac and cheese to greased baking dish and preheat oven to 350. top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and back for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Thank you to Kids Academy for sponsoring this discussion! All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.
With three kids under the age of 5 and I am forever trying to entertain them with educational games. Cut to me finding Kids Academy! These apps are visually appealing and the best part is definitely the fact that they can figure it out themselves! We’ve all been there…new app downloaded and kids start playing while we run to the kitchen to whip up some dinner. 5 seconds into chopping you hear ‘Mom! I need help’. Ugh. These apps are simple enough for the kids to do independently but still educational. They are learning new skills AND enforcing old ones. Score. Icing on the cake? These are free apps.
When bell peppers go on sale I buy tons. I use them in my spaghetti sauce, in casseroles and make one of my favorites: stuffed peppers! This is a twist on an old favorite and I especially love using multiple colored peppers for a fun visual effect. Another great part is the serving sizes are perfectly proportioned and the smaller rings work great for my younger kids while he middle slices are hearty enough for my husband.
Simply slice the top and bottom off your bell peppers and remove seeds. Using a sharp knife cut approximately 2 inch rings, you can make them thicker or thinner, depending on your family (just remember cook time will be a bit longer with a thicker slice). Set the rings in a shallow pan with only a few inches of water and cover. Steam those over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes; I perfer my peppers very tender, do what works for you. Remove from heat and set aside.
The filling is very basic but delicious. Throw some onions and garlic in a pan on medium heat. Cook until the onions are becoming see through adn then add apound of ground beef (or turkey) and brown in the pan. You can change it up based on what you or your family likes. Add tomatoes or mushrooms or diced peppers or omit onions if you have a picky eater. It all works in this filling!
Place your bell pepper rings on a baking sheet and carefully spoon filling into the rings. Top with shredded cheese and place in oven on broil for just a few minutes until the cheese gets golden brown. I serve this with rice for a nice hearty and healthy meal!
People reckon that moving home is one of the most stressful things you can do. The stress begins when you put your existing property up for sale and nervously twiddle your thumbs until a buyer turns up. You also have to find a beautiful new home that ticks all of your boxes; that can be a headache!
Image source Here
Let’s say that you found a new place and have just accepted an offer on your old one. Now is the time to start making plans for moving day. Whether you buy or rent a new home, the process is identical. Preparation now will save a lot of stress and heartache when the time comes, so don’t assume that any detail is too small to consider.
Make A Timeline
Now that you have found a property to let in Harborne, the clock is ticking. Draw a timeline that starts tomorrow and ends on moving day. You must populate that line with details of every aspect of the move. Note the date you must start a task, and the date by which it must be complete. Many of items might only be telephone calls, but others could take weeks to complete. Here are things to include in your plan.
- Contact removals companies and invite them to your home to quote a price for their services. It is not always wise to accept the lowest quote; listen carefully to what they have to say. Sometimes your gut feeling will help you to choose the right people for the job. You might be able to give them the exact date for the move, particularly if you are renting a new home, so place a firm booking with them.
- Do you intend to pack your belongings yourself? If so you must allow plenty of time to do so. If you think it will take two weeks to pack; allow three. It is better to sit for a week with your belongings in order, than to suffer the stress of last minute packing. Ask the removal company to supply you with sturdy boxes that stack well in the lorry. They will charge, but it is worth the cost.
- Find the phone numbers of the utility companies and ask them what the procedure is for moving your account to the new place. Energy suppliers might ask for a final reading on the day, so keep those numbers handy and mark it on the timeline.
- Look for kennels or catteries where you can send your pet pooch or cat for a couple of days while you move. Pets are a cause of stress that you can remove from the equation.
- Ask relatives if your children can stay with them until you are in your new home. You cannot afford the distraction of children if you are to concentrate on the job in hand.
- Inform the school that your children will be off for a couple of days. Maybe you are taking them to a new school; let their old school know about it. Look for the new one in plenty of time too.
If you populate the timeline well and act on the information there, the move will go without a hitch. There are many more things to consider; put them in their proper place. It’s easy when you know how.
Everybody needs to eat, but not everybody has the funds to eat like a king or queen. Sure, you could just stock up on packet noodles and Pasta in Sauce, but this isn’t terribly nutritious. Everybody deserves to eat well, with a range of fresh food including vegetables, meat, and veg. So how can you buy all of this on a budget? Read on:
Compare Supermarket Prices
Compare supermarket prices before you go shopping to see where you can find the cheapest deals. You may need to travel to a couple of different supermarkets to get everything you need at the best price. However, you’ll need to weigh up whether this is worth your time and effort. If it will cost you more in petrol to drive to these places to buy the items, then choose the cheapest overall place to go shopping. You can use sites like http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ to give you an idea of the best prices.
As you browse through magazines and newspapers, you’ll more than likely flick past vouchers that could get you a great deal on certain items. If you regularly shop somewhere like Tesco, you may even get vouchers sent to you through the post, ready to save money on things that you buy regularly.
Some supermarkets allow you to save points with them, which can usually be built up until you have enough to pay for one whole weekly shop, for example. You could get a couple of pence back for every pound that you spend, which can really add up in the long run. In some cases, you may be able to get money off petrol the more you spend.You can get other kitchen essentials with your points too, like a colander for example.
Buy in Bulk
Although buying in bulk may seem like it’s costing you a lot of money at first, it will save you money in the long run. It can be hard to part with that initial amount of money if you’re on a budget, but the things you’re buying will last you longer. Buying more also generally costs less than buying less. For example, you may find a pack of 180 teabags for 4 pounds, but for an extra pound you could get double the amount. In many supermarkets, you can also buy 3 packets of fresh meat for a cheaper price than you’d get them separately. Make sure you look for offers like this!
Grow Your Own
Remember, there’s always the option to grow your own produce. You could have your own chickens to lay eggs, grow your own vegetables, and grow your own herbs too. All you need is a suitable garden environment. There’s plenty of information online to help you get started if this appeals to you. This will save you loads of money and you’ll have nice fresh food available at all times.
Although it can be tempting to stock up on cheap micro meals and Pot Noodles, you need to nourish yourself with as much natural food as possible. Try these tips to stock up your kitchen!
A similar post was really popular when I first started blogging. I’ve done a bit of editing to update it and hope it helps! Don’t forget to PIN it for later and/or to share with your friends.
I used to walk into the grocery store and just start putting things in my cart. While I was there, I would start to think about what I’d make throughout the week. I used to take Hub-to-be with me to the store. I also used to walk out of the store having spent $200 bucks thinking “That doesn’t really seem like a lot for 200 dollars…”. Inevitably, I forgot critical items for the meals I planned while strolling down the aisles. I’d either surrender to fast food, ordering in or going back to the store at some point in the week.
1. only go to the store 1 time a week (or once every 2 weeks, whatever works for you)!! How many times have you gone into the store for one or two things and left with bags full? Budget Breaker. The less you are in the store the less time you have to spend your money!
Some of my friends say my money saving planning seems like too much work. I won’t lie, it does take some effort but the more you do it the easier it gets. I promise! I sit down every Sunday with the ads and my coupons. I ask my family members if anything in particular sounds good for dinner this week. I try a new recipe once every two weeks or so (new recipes often call for spice or items I don’t usually keep in the pantry/fridge so I limit how often I try a new one so I’m not constantly buying extra or new things). We have a list of ‘go-to’ means that are crowd pleasing, easy and often call for similar items. I’m aware of what each meal needs and base my other meals around that (example: Jelly Bean wants Taco Salad one night. I know I will have extra lettuce so I plan chicken sandwiches for the next night). I try to make sure I do not waste. Produce has always been hard in this house so I try and make sure I am storing the produce properly (thank you Pinterest!).
2. I use less meat than recipes call for- If I buy a 3lb ground beef pack I usually get 4 meals out of it. My family is none the wiser if there’s 3/4lbs of meat in the spaghetti instead of 1lb.
3. We do not have any ‘must-haves’. We don’t buy particular brands or items each week. If it’s not on sale or it doesn’t fit in the budget we don’t have orange juice that week (or pop tarts or whatever else).
4. I make as much as I can from scratch; I double the recipe and freeze what I can. Muffins and pancakes are great breakfast options and so inexpensive to make and freeze!
5. I know everything I can offer for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. I don’t exactly plan out each meal but I can offer the kiddos X, Y or Z and know I have that on hand. Hubs-to-be takes leftovers for lunch often.
There are many other ways to save I’ve found over the years but that’s all I have for you this time. Just for reference our family of 6 has a budget of $80 a week for groceries.
Don’t forget to leave a comment with your best money saving tip for the grocery store!