You Don’t Need to Buy Baking Chocolate

My last few posts have been about my favorite cake, “Chocolate Chip Torte.” I mentioned frosting it and thought I would share the recipe I use for homemade chocolate frosting.

The catch…

…I never buy baking chocolate!

I substitute 1 teaspoon of butter with 3 tablespoons of cocoa for each square of chocolate. I got my recipe for Chocolate Butter Frosting from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. In it they substituted 1/3 a cup of cocoa for 2 ounces unsweetened melted chocolate.

Paula prefers milk chocolate to dark chocolate, and since the cake was for her birthday, I used 3 Tablespoons of cocoa. If it is frosting for my birthday, I would use much more!

Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Butter Frosting

1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 ounces unsweetened melted chocolate (cool) or 1/3 cup cocoa

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

About 2 tablespoons milk

Mix margarine and chocolate (or cocoa). Stir in powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla and milk until frosting is of spreading consistency.

This substitution works in any recipe calling for baking chocolate.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Saving Cash and Gas

Since my husband was laid off last Friday, I have been making all of my decisions based on saving cash and gas.

I was planning on making my favorite cake for my friend’s birthday and found I did not have any chocolate chips left. It requires chopped dates and I had a half a package that I really needed to use up.

My husband offered to drive to the store and pick up chocolate chips, but I didn’t want to use the cash or the gas. I decided to frost the cake instead of following the recipe. I have plenty of powdered sugar left over from my Christmas baking.

Who knows, I may like the frosted version better. Before running to the store it’s wise to ask…is there something I can use in substitute?

Chocolate Chip Torte

1 Cup Finely Chopped Dates

1 Cup Boiling Water

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1 3/4 Cups Flour

2 Tablespoons Cocoa

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts

1 – 6 Ounce Package Chocolate Chips

Grease a 9″ X 13″ pan. Combine dates, boiling water and soda. Let cool. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. When date mixture is cool, add the butter mixture. Stir in flour mixture; add vanilla. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes.

My favorite cake, Chocolate Chip Torte.

My favorite cake, Chocolate Chip Torte.

“Disney’s Frozen” Fudge

I have a three-year-old granddaughter who loves the movie “Frozen.” Once when my husband tried to get her to lie down and take a nap, she stood on the bed and sang, “Let It Go.”

She spent the day with me last week and I came up with an activity for us to share. We made “Disney’s Frozen Fudge.”

She was so excited that when other family members stopped by after work she told each of them that she was making “Smudge!” (It tastes like Hershey’s “Hugs” Kisses.)

“Disney’s Frozen Fudge”

1 – 12 oz Package White Chocolate Chips

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Pour Sweetened Condensed Milk over White Chocolate Chips in a glass bowl. Microwave 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla and stir it into mixture. Pour into a greased foil-lined square dish. Sprinkle with blue colored sugar. Let set 2 hours.

“Disney’s Frozen Fudge.”


Party Leftovers?

We attended our first Christmas party on Sunday night. The hostess had enough food to feed an army and most of the guests brought food with them. The Chex Mix had to be set on an antique high chair!

At the end of the evening, the hostess passed out large Ziplock bags and begged us to take some of the food home. She made 160 Ham and Cheese sliders and we took six of them.

Instead of snacking on them, I put them on the menu. I made a pot of “Creamy Potato Soup” to go with them.

“Creamy Potato Soup” is a recipe I got from my mother that starts like German Potato Salad. The original recipe calls for an onion and a package of bacon. They have you fry the bacon and cook the onion in the drippings. My husband doesn’t care for onion, and I usually modify recipes to make them more frugal.

“Frugalfish Creamy Potato Soup”

3 Slices of Bacon, Cooked and Crumbled

1 Tablespoon Dry, Minced Onion

2 Cups Cubed Potatoes

1 Cup Water

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

2 Soup Cans of Milk

Cook bacon, set aside. Cook potatoes and minced onion in salted water until potatoes are done. Add milk, heat through. Top with crumbled bacon. Sometimes I garnish it with parsley or chives.

My recipe is not only frugal, but lower in fat. It went great with the leftover ham and cheese sliders.

"Creamy Potato Soup"

“Creamy Potato Soup”

Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast

The Christmas countdown has started with the showing of Christmas movies. They are also advertising holiday food. One of my favorites combines the flavors of chocolate and raspberries.

This week, as I was scooping up some Chocolate Malto Meal, I had an idea. Why not cool it down a bit with frozen raspberries! They are so small that they thaw quickly and I got that wonderful chocolate/raspberry flavor in every bite.

Here are two more ideas for Malto Meal.

  1. Banana Split for Breakfast,
  2. Have a Hankering for Rocky Road Ice Cream?
Chocolate Malto Meal cooled with frozen raspberries.

Chocolate Malto Meal cooled with frozen raspberries.

Easiest Spaghetti Ever!

My daughter moved out last month and I have been able to alter my recipes to include mushrooms. (She hates them.)

I got excited last night because I had a package of fresh mushrooms and I was making…

Easiest Spaghetti Ever!

16 oz. Spaghetti

1 lb. Hamburger

1 T. Minced Onion or Fresh

1 t. Minced Garlic or Fresh

Dash of Salt and Pepper

1 can Tomato Soup

1 can Mushroom Soup

1 can Water

1 can or Fresh Mushrooms

Cook spaghetti as directed. Cook hamburger with the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together the two soups and mushrooms. Add the hamburger and mix. Add drained spaghetti. Heat in microwave for 10 minutes. You may top it with Parmesan Cheese or Cheddar Cheese, if desired.

This is great for kids because it is not spicy and the sauce sticks to the pasta. If you like to serve your pasta and sauce separately, I recommend using only 8 oz. of spaghetti.

Easiest Spaghettie Ever!

Best. Anniversary. Gift. Ever!

Today is our 32nd Wedding Anniversary and my husband gave me the best gift…

…he let me sleep in!

We tend to judge gifts by the amount of money spent; but there is no dollar value I could put on that extra 2 hours of sleep. It was priceless!

We are not eating out tonight; I am planning on making a romantic dinner…but the menu has not been set! I will choose from the items in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.

To give you an idea how this works, I will show you a breakfast I made for him a few weeks ago. I took the recipe for Quiche Lorraine and modified it based on the items he liked and the items I had on hand.


12 Slices of Bacon, 1 Sausage Patty, broken into pieces

1 c. Shredded Swiss Cheese, 1 c. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1/3 c. Finely Chopped Onion, 1 T. Dry Chopped Onion

4 Eggs

2 c. Half and Half, 1 c. Cottage Cheese

3/4 t. Salt

1/4 t. Pepper

1/8 t. Cayenne Red Pepper, 1/8 t. Paprika

9′ Pie Crust (

Prepare pastry. Sprinkle meat, cheese, and onion in pastry-lined pie plate. Beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining ingredients. Pour egg mixture into pie plate. Cook uncovered in 425º oven for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300º. Cook uncovered until knife inserted halfway between center and edge come out clean, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

He ate the whole thing…over the course of a few days!

Quiche Frugalfish made with sausage, not bacon.

Quiche Frugalfish made with sausage, not bacon.

Raspberry Syrup

I was making a simple, sugar syrup when I had a brainstorm. I mixed 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and heated it in the microwave two minutes or until the sugar was dissolved.

I set it aside to cool, and on a whim, dropped a raspberry tea bag in it. I let it steep until it was cool. I ended up with raspberry syrup, similar to the peach syrup sold at Olive Garden.

Making Raspberry syrup.

Making Raspberry syrup.

I had raspberry tea and raspberry coffee using this homemade syrup. But the best drink was the “Raspberry Sprite” I made yesterday. It reminded me of the Cherry /Lemon/Lime slush I used to order at the Diner in Batavia, IA when I was a teenager.

I made a "Raspberry Sprite."

I made a “Raspberry Sprite.”

I can’t wait to make syrup out of the other tea bags!


When I visited my brother last year, I fell in love with their Virginia sweet tea. I have always been a fan of sun tea, but they made me a convert. I watched my sister-in-law make it and started making mine the same way.

  1. Fill coffee carafe with water.
  2. Pour water in coffee maker.
  3. Put a scoop or two of sugar in the bottom of the carafe.
  4. Put in three black tea bags and one green tea bag.
  5. Brew as you would coffee.
  6. Stir the sugar in the bottom of the pot to let it completely dissolve.
  7. Pour into a gallon container.
  8. Add water to the container, to fill it and stir to combine.

The tea is sweet and there is no sugar wasted on the bottom of the pitcher.

Sweet tea the way my brother makes it.

Sweet tea the way my brother makes it.



It finally cooled down here after 2 weeks of temperatures in the 90’s. I won’t run my oven until it is much cooler. That does not mean we go without desserts!

I made my first “Icebox Cake” for dinner on Labor Day. These cakes are made with cool whip, pudding, fruit, and cookies. Some are just cool whip and Oreos in layers.


2 Bananas

Cool Whip

Vanilla Pudding

Box of Nilla Wafers

Spread a layer of cool whip on bottom of pan. (I used a spring-form pan.) Add a layer of nilla wafers, followed by pudding, bananas, more wafers and top with cool whip. Make the night before and put it in the refrigerator or freeze it and thaw an hour before serving.

Banana Icebox Cake

Banana Icebox Cake