Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Looks like I'll need to take my walking shoes on my Christmas "vacation" because I plan to eat a few of these. The Betty Crocker website has way too many yummy choices! Maybe I better stop checking the page every day?

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup water

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk, if necessary

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 16 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2 x 11/4 inches.

2. Beat sugar, butter, molasses and eggs in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and water.

3. Spoon 3 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup.

4. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely; about 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, lemon peel, cinnamon and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed until smooth. Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time for desired consistency.

6. Pipe or spread a generous amount of frosting on top of each muffin. Store covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cheap and Cheerful Chatter: Deck the Halls

Who doesn't love a fresh evergreen wreath on their front door during the holidays? Would you like one for free? You're in luck! I know a great way to get one for free.

First, gather together the following "free products" -- clippings from the bottom of your Christmas tree and some household or floral wire.

Add a little "elbow grease". Then, stick on random, leftover pincones and holly from your Christmas decor box. Grab a nice ribbon from your wrapping paper box.

Don't forget to tell your husband who put it all together, "Thanks Honey! You're the best".

Want proof? See the picture. That's what I call cheap and cheerful.

Total savings: up to $50. (See similar decor here.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cheap and Cheerful Charity: Five Great Groups

'Tis the season to share. I feel blessed to have learned about each deserving group from a friend or family member. If you've got some holiday cheer to share, here are five great groups that will gladly take your love (and funds!) and share it well.

1. The Trevor Project

2. Reece's Rainbow

3. The Annika Kelly Strain Foundation

4. Jenna and Patrick's Foundation of Hope

5. Jesuit Volunteer Corps

Here's an idea -- Instead of the typical stocking stuffers, pick a charity above to support and place a note in your loved one's stocking letting them know you donated on their behalf.


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