Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yummo Brownies

Last night, I got this huge craving for brownies.  But, sticking with our goal this month of using what we have in the house, I found this recipe to make brownies from scratch. 

I'm not really a baker.  I'm more of a dinner cook, or I use those no-bake recipes for desserts.  That's just how I roll.

Plus I don't measure anything.  I'm usually thinking "a pinch of this, a splash of that" when I cook. 

But these brownies were so awesome!  Usually our boxed brownies are kinda over cooked on the edges and under cooked in the middle, no matter which pan I bake them in.  These brownies were done to perfection!  Moist on the inside, perfect top, and no sticking to the pan!  Not too sweet, and delicious with light and cocoa-y goodness.

So here's what I did, other than follow the recipe above.

Some Baking 101 tips for anyone who's not a baker (ahem - me):
-Baking requires that you measure, so be sure to use dry measuring cups & spoons for dry, wet measure for wet.
-Mix all the "like" ingredients together first - i.e. - mix all the dry in a bowl together, and mix all the wet in a separate bowl together.  After each are mixed well and blended separately, combine the wet into the dry and mix just until combined. 
-brownies are better, lighter, and fluffier if you don't over mix them.  Once all the ingredients are mixed, put them in the pan.

I think this has become my favorite way to make brownies!  The box kind are pretty easy, but this is incredibly easy as well, and comes out tasting so much better! I never would have thought baking brownies was as easy as this...too many recipes call for melted chocolate (which I burn), and we didn't have any real butter (only tub margarine) in the house.  Seriously, I'm not a baker.  I burn bread very frequently, and have tried over and over to make bread with yeast and only once have I had relatively good results.

Who knows, maybe this has opened up my cooking world into the realm of baking as well!  Not sure this should be happening right before summer time  Swimsuit Season.....

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Goal

Most of you know we've been on Dave's plan for a while, but recently we've had a set back.  John's truck, which was paid off, broke down.  And really, by "broke down", I mean Broke.  We knew it was nearing the end of it's life with the faint burning of oil and a little bit of a leak, throw in the strange noises, and the hope that it passes inspection every year, all equated to a recipe for disaster.  But because it was paid off, and not worth too much, and we wanted to wait to get a better one until we had a few more things paid off.

Well, thanks to his transmission going out, and in an incapacitating way, we bought him a newer lower mileage truck.  But, thanks to selling his old one for parts, and a little extra money we had, we paid a large chunk down in cash to get a lower loan amount.  That is something we would have NEVER been able to do before.  And even though we went into debt more, it was a necessary thing given that this is how he makes money.  No truck = no income.  Plain and simple.

So with that, our debt snowball, has turned itself over into a new payment, and is no longer there to add to the minimums. This is pretty depressing for me.  It's like we worked our butts off to get stuff paid off, only to end up with payments once again.

But, I have felt convicted lately in our budget.  I look on Dave's forums, and there are people who post their full budget out there online for the whole world to see.  I'm a little conflicted about doing that step; it does allow others to be challenged by your budget, it challenges you to allow yourself to be open to scrutiny, and allows you to make changes that can affect your future.  But that info is very personal, and given that some people don't live in a large city, where a house our size would be under half of what it costs here, where expenses are extremely low compared to ours, sometimes it's not an accurate comparison.

And, I digress.  My the rabbit trail, and onto the main point.

I noticed on some of these budgets, people's food budget was less than half of ours!  HALF!  And I use coupons and save a ton of money, and I think we rarely eat out.  So I started thinking. 

What if, for one month, I cut our food budget down to only buying the weekly must haves (like bread and milk, things that go bad quickly, etc), and eat from our pantry and freezer?  We have more than enough food thanks to coupons, and sales, and the fact that my parents live on a farm and bring us fresh beef and deer.  Our pantry has tons of food in there, so much to where we have no space for more. 

So my goal this month, is to severely cut our food budget, and focus on being better at planning our meals out ahead of time.

My hope is that 1- we can save a lot of money in a short amount of time, 2- We can free up some space in our freezer and pantry 3- we're being more conscious about what we buy 4-We are challenged to look at our budget with a fresh pair of eyes.  

I'll let ya know how it goes.  I'm expecting great results!