Chocolate Cheesecake Torte

chocolate-cheesecake-torte

A Sweet Treat To Eat

 

Now if you are anything like me you adore chocolate, wait no you love the stuff!

Earlier this week I decided to create some new recipes to take to our friends Thanksgiving meal.

My goal was to make them my guinea pigs for my food including this decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Torte just to get their reactions to my food.- Nicola

Hey Fans, it’s Mr.CBB here and do you know what? I love chocolate and if you haven’t noticed by now you will soon learn how important this sweet treat is to me.

I am a huge fan of the fudgy brownie and my Pinterest page is littered with brownies and it’s my most popular board.

Chocolate is a feel good food for most people and that’s why we crave it and want it when we are feeling up and down emotionally.

Chocolate is a way to say I love you for special occasions and is also perfect when eaten all by yourself in a corner indulging in one of the worlds most beautiful sweet.

Although Nicola chose to use a Tenderflake pie crust in this recipe because it was a quick pie crust to use instead of making homemade I prefer to make my own pie crust.

If you would like to make a homemade pie crust you can find my own recipe in my Toasted Coconut Custard Tarts recipe where I share a flaky pie crust just for you.

 

Chocolate history

 

Since the before the Aztecs, chocolates’ popularity and taste has changed over the centuries from a bitter drink into a much sweeter conveniently packed solid.

It was the discovery by the early European invaders that shipped back the cacao bean and started to alter the product and the way it was processed into what we know today.

From those early days of many of the famous chocolate companies that still exist today were the pioneers then.

The addition of sugar, the addition of milk and the industrial revolution led to what you know and love, especially the wife.

There’s been mixed views on chocolate over the years, I specifically remember in the 1980′s that chocolate was the mythological cause of teenagers acne.

It’s been the scourge of many a woman’s diet and their best friend at the same time.

Since then, chocolate is now regarded as been an anti-oxidant. As with anything in life, it’s all in moderation.

 

How to make chocolate

 

Not only is the majority of cocoa beans grown in Africa but it is part processed there before it even gets anywhere near the manufacturing process.

Basically the pods are harvested from a tree and fermented for a number of days and then shipped for final processing in a factory.

The final processing steps are cleaning and roasting followed by separation of the cacao bean. Blending the chocolate.

A process called Conching and then Tempering. Each manufacturer will have variations of blends and final processing to make their product their own.

I was going to say that you can’t process chocolate in the comfort of your own home but apparently you can make chocolate but there is a slight draw back with this plan, you’ll need some pretty heavy-duty equipment including a tempering machine at a rough cost of $300 – $400.

Some how that $2.50 bar at the store seems so much easier.

 

Types of chocolate

 

My girl is a bit of a milk chocolate fan, she used to love Cadbury’s only but has since expanded her taste but only in the world of milk chocolate. I on the other hand prefer the darker slightly bitter chocolate ranging in the 70% cacao category.

Children tend to like the milk chocolate and the white chocolate the most, more than likely due to the sweetness. But people’s’ taste changes as they get older. It’s always worth experimenting and buying something you haven’t tried.

 

Hot chocolate

 

(and no, we’re not talking about Errol Brown).

If you want convenience you can easily buy the instant hot chocolate with marshmallow floaters. Again, there are variations in taste and quality and both will dictate price. No name isn’t going to give you that connoisseur experience so I’d probably follow a recipe and make it from scratch.

You can range from a cheaper easier version like this hot chocolate recipe to a more sensual blend of better ingredients like this over the top hot chocolate creation. As the first recipe suggests, it’s a great kids drink, while the other is something you might want to treat yourself to or that special someone. Snuggle up and enjoy it.

 

White chocolate

 

Somewhat of an oddball in the world of chocolate as white chocolate doesn’t actually contain any cocoa solids derived from the chocolate liquor (part of the processing) but does contain cocoa butter. Blended similarly with vanilla, sugar and milk this pale cousin is very delicate.

I tend to find white chocolate is used more in children’s confectionary and cookies, etc. Mrs CBB doesn’t much like it either. It’s just not got the same taste as the original brown stuff.

-Mr.CBB

chocolate-cheesecake-torte-steps-recipe

 

Chocolate Cheesecake Torte
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 packet or 200g Chocolate graham /Oreo crumbs
  • 1 Tub (250g) Chocolate Philly cheese
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar/powdered sugar
  • 1 Tender-flake pie crust
  • 70g semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 capfuls of Rum
  • Strawberries for decoration
Instructions
  1. So before we start I am going to give you a great tip for mixing the cheese. Take it out at least ½ hour before you need it. This way it’s at room temperature and a lot easier to handle.
  2. You will need to put your pie case on to cook in the oven next. Prick it all over before putting it in so it doesn’t rise in the oven.
  3. Next, mix up your Philly cheese, Cookie crumbs, Icing sugar and Rum. It should come together and have a cream like texture and really thick.
  4. Your pie case should be ready to take out of the oven. Let it cool before putting in the chocolate mixture. This will take about 15 minutes.
  5. Now comes the finger licking part.
  6. Empty out all of the chocolate mixture into the pie case and spread evenly.
  7. My kids love when I bake and are never more than a short distance away to be called upon to lick the spoon.
  8. May I add that my husband isn’t far behind especially when I am using condensed milk. He will always be there ready to scrape the tin clean.
  9. I always use my microwave to melt my chocolate. I know some of you traditionalists will use a double boiler (a bowl on-top of a saucepan), but I find this method quicker with the same results.
  10. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and place in the microwave for 45 secs. I have found if you heat in short bursts like this it will melt more evenly.
  11. Once it has all melted pour on-top of your pie, spreading so it covers the whole pie.
  12. Now for the decoration. I had strawberries at hand but really any fruit or even a dusting of chopped walnuts, pecans would suffice for this elegant pie.
  13. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

This was a great hit at the Thanksgiving dinner and everybody raved about it. It was an indulgence but not overly sweet and hit the chocolate spot.

So enjoy making this simple chocolate cheesecake torte for your family as I am sure it will be a great success and it may even get you invited to a few more dinner parties.

Nicky x

 

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Roasted Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup

roasted-pumpkin-red-lentil-soupCreate Pumpkin Recipes As Easy as 1 2 3 …..

 

I hope you are ready for my Roasted pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup because I can guarantee you that if you make this budget-friendly recipe you will want to make it every year.

Although I’m biased it’s one of the best pumpkin soup recipes that I’ve ever tried before.

 

Easy soup recipe

 

You carve your pumpkin for Halloween or have a few sitting on your front porch for decoration and then what do you do with it?

Most people throw their pumpkin away and waste all the beautiful flesh inside when you can easily turn that pumpkin into some amazing pumpkin recipes keeping your pumpkin in the kitchen and out of the compost heap.

I know many people that buy soup in a can or a box but making soup is a fairly painless process especially a fresh pumpkin soup that will be bursting with flavour.

Take a look all over the internet and you will find an easy soup recipe just like this one that you can test in your kitchen.

Once you get used to making soup you will see how creative you start to be with spices and using different vegetables and proteins to jazz up the flavours.

If you remember last Sunday when I shared my carrot marmalade recipe I was telling you all about my overflowing selection of fruits and vegetables in my kitchen.

Well just after my blog post on Sunday my neighbour call’s me on the phone saying that she is on her way over to visit me with a surprise. I love surprises.

 

Pumpkin carving

 

pumpkin-carving-examples

Next thing I know she is opening the back of her van and there staring up at me are the biggest pumpkins I have ever seen in my life.

All of my friends and family including my neighbour know that I carve pumpkin sculptures for Halloween and I said I would do some “Minions” for her.

I had not expected her to rush out to find the biggest pumpkins she could but she did, and she got them free.

Free is a great word. We like that word around here.

My neighbour’s sister-in-law had grown far too many pumpkins which had taken over the garden so she was gifted free pumpkins which was perfect for the pumpkin carving project.

Unfortunately the pumpkins she brought were a bit big for me to carve on she said she would be back with a few that were reasonably smaller for me to get my creative juices flowing.

 

Pumpkin recipes

 

In the meantime I had to do something with my pumpkin so I sat down to come up with some ideas but I was sure that I wanted to make a pumpkin soup recipe and then created this lovely roasted pumpkin and red lentil soup.

We love lentils in our house not only because they are nutritious but because they are a frugal staple in our pantry that goes a long way for many meals over the course of the year in our meal planning.

I’ve also pureed the pumpkin and froze it for later use but I’ll be making pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice muffins for my family for Thanksgiving this weekend.

If you love pumpkin pie as much as we do you could also try Mr.CBB’s Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake with Brown Buttercream which is a pumpkin pie without the crust which means you get a huge slice of heaven on a plate.

If you ever wondered how to make pumpkin soup with fresh pumpkins today is the day you are going to learn how to use up all of that pumpkin you have and put it to good use.

 

Interesting fact

 

Did you know that in Scotland we carved turnips and not pumpkins?

I’d never seen a pumpkin as big as the one today until I moved to Canada. I couldn’t believe the quantity of pumpkins available in Canada and how cheap they were to purchase them.

My dad would always carve a lantern out of a turnip so that we had something to go trick or treating with and that is where my creativity and passion for carving pumpkins began.

 roasted-pumpkin-red-lentil-soup

5.0 from 1 reviews

Roasted Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A lovely fresh pumpkin soup with a hint of spice and softened lentils.
Author:
Recipe type: Roasted Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • (As mine was so big I only used the bit off the end)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 pints of chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Nob of butter
Instructions
  1. Cut pumpkin into small pieces and place on tray that is covered with parchment paper. This will stop it sticking to the tray.
  2. Drizzle over two tablespoons of oil and some salt and mix well on the tray coating all the pumpkin.
  3. Set your oven to 240c/464f
  4. Tip – when cutting up your pumpkin leave he skins on as they are easier to remove!
  5. Place in oven to roast for 40-45 mins until soft and golden brown.
  6. Tip – when cutting up your pumpkin or even for hollowing out for decoration use an ice-cream scoop it’s so much easier!
  7. Now whilst this is cooking chop up the rest of the vegetables and place in pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and butter. Then add ½ teaspoon Garam Masala.
  8. Once they start to soften add your stock to the pan.
  9. When it has started to boil add your Lentils and Pumpkin.
  10. This should take no more than 10 mins for your lentils to cook.
  11. After all your ingredients are ready and cooked in the pan taste and add salt and pepper, puree and its done!

What can be simpler than a heart-warming bowl of roasted pumpkin and red lentil soup that will take any chill out of your bones on these cooler Autumn evenings, enjoy all!!

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Baked Loaded Cauliflower Pizza

 baked-cauliflower-pizza

Cauliflower Just Got A Whole Lot Better

If you are in the mood for an easy pizza recipe or if you aren’t good at making pizza dough than this is the pizza for you. I know you are thinking cauliflower pizza sounds disgusting but trust me it’s far from what you think.The best part is that you don’t need any flour and it’s not going to cost you lots of money to make this frugal pizza in a flash.

When I am on Facebook, particularly my Canadian Budget Binder and The Free Recipe Depot pages I see recipes in  my news feed all the time and many of my fans like and share recipes as well.

The other day one of my fans and I can’t remember who mentioned or liked this cauliflower pizza recipe and I knew I just had to make it.

I thought it was a brilliant idea since we had a great big bowl of cauliflower mash in the refrigerator that my wife and I made the previous day instead of mashed potatoes.

Her sister came around with a head of cauliflower that they weren’t going to use up on time and asked if we wanted it since she knows how much we love our vegetables and we gladly took it.

I guess cauliflower mash is the new rage in the fitness scene so you can eliminate the starchy potato and replace with mashed vegetables that actually taste like mashed potatoes. You don’t feel you are missing a thing.

I was a skeptic at first but I am now a changed man. My wife was the one who mentioned the cauliflower mash because she had noticed that more people who are into fitness or watching their food intake are switching to sweet potatoes, cauliflower mash, sautéed kale and collard greens etc.

Coming from a family in the UK who used potatoes all the time it was a welcoming change but it was nice to know that I can substitute cauliflower for potatoes and not really notice a difference.

Cauliflower pizza crust recipe

 

What I did notice was the cauliflower mash is just a bit more wet over the traditional mashed potatoes.

For this reason I put the cauliflower back in the pot with no water and let it boil off any excess water on the florets after draining them so they are fork tender but not holding any more water than they need to before I mashed them in the food processor.

I tried to mash them with my hand masher but it just wasn’t working out the way I wanted it too. I wanted a smooth mashed cauliflower.

The pizza crust needed to pop with flavour in this recipe because of how bland cauliflower can be so I aimed to create a basil cauliflower pizza crust to give it some pizzazz so we aren’t always eating the same things.

I added some garlic, salt and my homemade basil pesto to the food processor and I only did that to make the crust of this cauliflower pizza taste like it was loaded with flavour. Like mashed potatoes cauliflower mash needs lots of flavour so adding in the herbs really made a huge impact on the overall taste of this recipe.

I wasn’t sure from the recipe when I first noticed it whether they crust was hard enough to actually eat this like a slice of pizza. When I took my pan of baked cauliflower pizza from the oven parts of it were crispy but not enough that I could hold a slice in my hand and brag to you how cool it was to eat pizza made of cauliflower.

The bottom of the slices were browned but not crispy enough although I had no problem removing slices from the pan as you can see in the photo.

What I will suggest and what I will try for next time if you want a crispy cauliflower pizza crust is to put the mashed cauliflower in a cheese cloth and just wring out the water or let it sit over night covered so the water is removed and you are left with a dry cauliflower mixture. This is the only reason I can think of why this did not give me a hand-held crust.

Once you add in your pesto you can roll it into a ball then onto your heated baking stone or baking tray as if it were a pizza dough.

I don’t remember who or where the recipe came from but I did it off the top of my head as I did not save the recipe.

I figured I’d remember it which is not a way that I would suggest you to learn and cook. You need to get the full recipe because it’s a recipe that someone has tested and are hoping you try. If you are out there and invented this, hats off to you as it was delicious.

I cooked the cauliflower pizza just until it was browned on the top and as crispy as I could get it without burning it.

The texture of the pizza was crispy around the top and outside but soft in the middle. Biting into the cauliflower pizza almost reminded me of a creamy ricotta cheese with basil pesto blended in.

In a way it is almost like a thin cauliflower lasagna or a cauliflower cottage pie although I could have sworn in the photo of the original recipe it looked as if they were eating this pizza by hand.

I don’t know how they were able to do that but like I mentioned above you would have to make certain you remove as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible. I love it the way that it turned our for me and I hope you do as well.

I think you will know what I am talking about once you try this recipe for yourself. Once the pizza was done I let it rest for about 10 minutes before I sliced it up into large square slices.

I made a nice fennel, carrot, onion, cucumber, radish and feta salad for on the side with a lime, ginger, garlic, sesame dressing that I made and am addicted to when it comes to eating a salad.

 

4.7 from 3 reviews

Baked Loaded Cauliflower Pizza
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Baked Cauliflower Pizza
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • I head of Cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup of basil pesto
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water add the cauliflower florets that you chop and clean.
  2. Boil the cauliflower until fork tender, drain and then put back in the pot to air dry with the residual heat in the pot for a few minutes
  3. Add the cauliflower to a food processor and blend with 3 cloves of minced garlic and the cup of basil pesto
  4. (To make a crisper crust do the below otherwise you can use from food processor)
  5. Add the mashed potato to a cheese cloth and wring out all of the excess water or leave over night with something heavy over top to drain the water from the cheesecloth.
  6. On a baking sheet spray with cooking spray then add a ½ inch thick layer of the cauliflower mixture. You can even make it thicker if you like, it’s up to you.
  7. Add a layer of your sliced mushrooms
  8. Add a layer of your chopped tomatoes
  9. Add a layer of your red onion
  10. Add your extra virgin olive oil on top of the pizza
  11. Top with your shredded mozzarella
  12. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until golden brown
  13. Let sit for a few minutes then slice and put on plate with your spatula
  14. Serve with a side salad of your choice

 baked-caulifloer-pizza

There you have my weekly masterpiece and although it’s not a traditional homemade pizza like what I would normally make it’s certainly an alternative to make for change in your meal plan.

Sometimes eating the same things all the time gets boring so if you want to switch things up don’t be afraid because you may never know what you will come up with.

Who knew you could make a Baked Loaded Cauliflower Pizza? I certainly would never have guessed it.

What foods have you used against the norm to create an amazing recipe?

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Working Towards A Debt Free Lifestyle In 8 Steps

Debt Free Lifestyle Start Today wm

Working towards a debt free lifestyle is possible, that is if you really want it bad enough. I’m sure you all know that the 8 steps are only stepping-stones, meaning one step leads to another. Perhaps you may learn that our steps differ from what your ideal steps are but learn to create your own. You may only need 1 step but the first step may be the most important of all. You can make that happen.

There may be some of you who didn’t start saving early like we did but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow the road to debt freedom. Start today. If you take a sincere interest in wanting to learn how to pay off all your debt and start saving for all the things you’ve wished for in your life, it can happen. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices to get ahead especially if you are in a relationship.

Getting rid of our mortgage was one of our top goals when we bought our home so instead of investing in renovations like we wanted to with the extra money saved, we backed away from them. We didn’t invest all of our savings into our home down-payment because we wanted to do major renovations but that all quickly changed.

One thing I’ve learned as a homeowner is that sometimes things don’t always goes as planned, you might have to skip a step which you can later return to. One of my biggest challenges was establishing myself in Canada and building credit as a permanent resident. I had alot on my plate so some things had to be put on hold.

It was more important for us to reduce personal debt which was our mortgage then to think about what we needed to modernize around the house. Of course yearly maintenance was always completed it was more about living the debt free lifestyle that meant more to us than a new kitchen or $10,000 spent on new hardwood floors.

This is not all-inclusive but a personal insight which helped bring us to our almost free, debt free status today. I’ve also learned along the way that in order to make it to the debt free lifestyle we had to get past the obstacles that so many face. I’ve detailed below 8 steps that we’ve encountered or met along the way.

Marriage and Debt

When most people get married they take on each others debt, the “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours” is a saying we all know too well.

There was no “my debt” when we got married it became “our debt” and yes we did have debt in the form of vehicle payments on a 0% interest vehicle over 60 months and everyday living expenses including rent. I paid cash for my vehicle but I also had to save money to pay for my education which was not in the initial plans. So where I had no debt she compromised by paying the bills so we could get ahead.

How I Earned Extra Money

I would earn extra cash by repairing our friends kitchen by adding a back-splash to their new modern home. I didn’t charge them an outrageous fee because I wanted to help them out like he was helping me. I made $100 cash and he took me out for Chinese lunch where we laughed and had a couple of beers.

Another time I helped a friend who wanted me to fix her dishwasher connection and install her kitchen worktop which she had pre-cut from Home Depot. I did all of that for $15o because I knew that she was a single homeowner and didn’t have lots of  spare money to splash around. No, I’m not assuming either, she told me so in conversation. It was more important for her to use her savings to buy a town-house instead of renting.

I also took the liberty of joining focus groups in our city that paid cash for my opinion. It was the easiest extra money I’ve ever made. There’s nothing like talking about coffee, road salt, cigarettes and I can’t remember how many other topics earning anywhere from $50- $100 for less than an hour plus they fed me dinner.

I did whatever it took to earn money so I didn’t have to pull from the savings that we worked so hard to build since we were in our twenties. There are so many ways to make extra money to pay off bills and even if you can’t leave home you might be able to offer your services as a tutor or babysit from home to help out a parent who is in need.

Not My Debt

If you open your bills and prance around with your fingers in your ears, turning a blind eye and rhyming off the, “it’s not my debt la la” tune like a child, get over it. Stop dissing the debt and saying it’s not yours, I didn’t create it so I’m not paying it. If it’s in your name you are likely responsible for the money owed so waste no time, find out who you owe money to and start paying the money.

If you are in the middle of a legal battle then consult your lawyer to get professional advice instead of leaving the debt unpaid month after month. The last thing you need is a red mark on your credit report that may follow you for years. Not all debt is created equal but unfortunately some people pay the price and have to learn from their mistakes.

A friend of ours who is now divorced had a credit card in her name while married. Her ex-husband charged all sorts of purchases made online to that card but she was still responsible for it when they split. He had no money so she was forced to pay for it or risk a bad mark on her credit.

Paying Off Student Debt

Student debt, so many people of all age groups are faced with paying back student loans in the form of OSAP or a credit line from the bank. Many students also have credit cards that are maxed out and soon realize after the fun is over in University and College that they are now in the “real world”.

You might not have been the person who was partying every night of the week but you still have debt. School isn’t cheap and it’s not getting any cheaper which really is depressing for many students. If you want to pay off your student loans fast then forget about all the fashion and eating out every night of the week, focus on your personal finances.

Sure you can balance life with a budget but if you’re just adding more debt on top of debt it may prove difficult when you want to move forward with the next stages of your life. If you’ve moved back home with mom and dad don’t get too relaxed unless you plan to stay at home until you get married.

Even then you still leave home with debt if you haven’t taken the opportunity your parents are giving you living at home with a little to no rent to pay it all off. They are doing this to help you, they understand what it’s like out there.

When I went back to school as an adult for the second time we had to buckle down on all the spending. I had already saved to pay for University once and I had to do it again. We lived pretty frugal during those years before we bought our house.

It was in line with our goals and we never felt like we were giving anything up, we were gaining, if anything at all. Our lives were put on hold while I was learning and costing us more money than anticipated.

No one likes to hear it or face it but debt doesn’t just go away and as a student you may not have bought a house  yet or even a car. Never-mind if you want a big wedding with all the bells and whistles followed by starting a family. Debt may be your worst enemy.

Owe You Money

Who owes you money? Don’t be shy to ask if someone owes you money especially if it’s friends or family. We had loaned a family member over $30,000 dollars and you can bet we won’t be forgetting about it. The money has been paid back but there are people out there that loan out $5 here and $10 there to friends who say they will pay you back and don’t. Letting them get away with that is not good enough especially if you wouldn’t do the same.

The person is not learning responsibility for their actions and needs to be called on it. My wife had a friend who would always borrow smokes from her. She would tell her that she’d “pay her back” well that never came and my wife wouldn’t say anything because she knew she was struggling for money.

The thing is, maybe she was but my wife wasn’t helping by allowing her to think she can get things for free and not pay for them. If you truly want to help someone and don’t expect the money back then agree to it from the start. Simply say, “hey no worries, it’s OK”.

There is no reason you can’t help someone out but you also can’t be dishing out cash to everyone. It’s the same with your child. If you offer your teen $5 to mow the lawn for example ( I know not all parents pay for chores and that’s fine) and he/she agrees but asks for an advance on the money and you give it.

The problem is the teen mowed the lawn, not the next day or the next week, not ever, the father did. The teen didn’t learn a lesson at all. What he/she learned is that mom and dad are soft and I can get away with things if I need to and someone else can do the work. This lesson may also carry on with this teen into his adult life.

If you keep passing out cash like you have endless amounts of it then you will soon see your savings dwindle or not grow as much as they could. It may not seem like much but small amounts add up quickly, don’t believe me, if you have debt than you should. It’s true!

I Owe Money

Who do I owe money to? If you owe money to anyone you’ve got debt. As far as I’m concerned there is no good debt. If you owe money you should pay it back in a reasonable amount of time. What’s reasonable depends on how much interest you are willing to pay and how much money you can earn through investing. Not everyone shares the same values when it comes to money and investing so make your own informed decisions.

Figuring out who you own money to should be a priority when working towards a debt free lifestyle. You need to know all these important details and have them easily available for review. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to that have no idea who they owe money to.

I bet if I asked someone who owed them money they could rhyme names faster you can shake a stick at. That’s how well you should know your finances, inside out. If you owe money it should be a priority to pay off your debts. Don’t pretend like they aren’t there or that they will go away on their own.

If you think paying the minimum payments on all of your debts is putting a dent in them you may be surprised to find out that’s not always the case. When Tony came to me and said that he paid off over $100,000 in debt I knew anything was possible. It does take more than money it takes courage and a desire to want the debt free lifestyle.

If you aren’t making enough money than maybe you should look into what options are available to you in order to earn more or simply spend less. Remember Katrina, she’s in a better place with her finances now because she created a business to earn extra money with her passion and skills to pay off her debts. She knows what she wants and is working towards a debt free lifestyle.

Budget Plan and Invest It Wisely

If only, have you ever said that to yourself you wished you had done something sooner? It happens whether it’s buying a house when the interest rates are low and houses are relatively decent priced, investing in stocks and other investment, applying for a job or even taking care of your personal finances with a budget. Whatever you choose to do with your money make informed decisions that you can live with.

I won’t go into great detail here but if you’ve never budgeted before It’s safe to say that you aren’t too familiar where to begin or you know how you just need a push to start. You can read my budgeting series which I wrote where you will see the Canadian Budget Binder budget sample that we use for our own family budget. That budget didn’t happen over night it took over a year of practice, making changes and we continue to do that month after month.

We started our budget by creating a sample budget, not one but two budget samples so we could evaluate what a budget would look like with our current net income and another sample budget only using one income. You don’t have to go all fancy with a budget unless you want to but we kept it simple.The reason for the second sample was to investigate how our lives would potentially be affected in the event that one of us was no longer here or we lost a job or could no longer work.

Getting started with the budget was one of our priorities and still is today. Saving almost $185,000  to pay down our mortgage since 2009 was given a kick-start simply by focusing on where our money was going. No, we did not save that much in a few short years with a budget but a combination of everything we’ve talked about in this post has helped us to build up our savings.

Budgeting isn’t for everyone and many people I know are successful in their lives without using one and that’s great. Decide what works best for you.

Spend Less Than You Earn

If you follow my blog you’ve probably got my quote engrained in your head by now as it’s at the bottom of just about every post. “It’s Not About How Much Money You Make , It’s How You Save It”. I do that on purpose because the more you see something the more it might sink in. We are all creatures of habit and unless we choose to make changes we will continue to do what we are used to.

You can be frugal and still enjoy your life and for some living a minimalist life seems like the better way to go. If buying new clothes is important to you pick a few up quality pieces that you can mix and match. If you get your clothes at second-hand shops that’s great as well. There are endless ways to save, you just need to know where to find them.

Some great posts about minimalist lifestyles have popped up in the personal finance scene such as Michelle from Making Sense of Cents who shares tips on spring cleaning your wardrobe and well on her way with her extraordinary extra income.

Jordan at My Alternate Life took on the minimalist challenge  back in 2012 when her and her fiancée moved from an apartment to their new home. She vowed to de-clutter and get rid of the crap they were collecting for years.

Sometimes having too much stuff or clutter in your environment tends to swallow you up. We opt to not buy more than we need in our house and keep “stuff” to a minimum. We also get rid of what we no longer use if we haven’t used it in 6 months to a year because we likely won’t if we haven’t by then.

I’ve saved my money since I was young and bought my first house at 21 years old. If I can do it anyone can. I still had lots of friends and enjoyed spending time with them. As an adult I still do the same but I know I don’t have to be flash with the cash to enjoy myself.

“I Am A Saver” is a stark reminder for me because I learned that I don’t want to pay for mistakes that I could have easily avoided. If you want to live a debt free lifestyle like we are today, let go of the negative mindset and just get on with it. It’s going to take time, but that’s all we have is time, just balance it with some fun. Stop dreaming about how to live a debt free life, start living it today.

What ways do you work towards living a debt free lifestyle? If you don’t want to be debt free what are your reasons?

 

Quote-Budget and Money

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Mr.CBB’s Toasted Coconut Custard Tarts

Toasted Coconut Custard Tart Mr.CBB

Since today is Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday as we call it in the UK I think this coconut custard tart would be a nice sweet treat to finish off any meal or brunch. It’s a simple coconut custard tart to make and it looks very posh on any dessert table. When I made the custard for this recipe I created it a bit different from the custard I used in my trifle which was a full-fat cream custard. It really does taste like a coconut cream pie tart which I really enjoyed.

Easy Custard Recipe

This custard is made with 2% evaporated milk and worked out better than I had expected. I’m not sure if it will work with the 1% or fat-free evaporated milk but you could always give it a try, right? I might even try to make a coconut custard recipe with coconut milk to jazz up the flavour or use one can of evaporated milk and one can of coconut milk. If at first you don’t succeed, try again, that’s what the kitchen is for, experimenting.

You will find this custard isn’t as rich as traditional English custard nor as thick but it works just as well and for a fraction of the cost. The texture to me was like a thicker coconut custard pudding. Typically a can of evaporated milk will run about $1.99 and when on sale you can pick it up for $1.00 or $1.28 in Ontario. We had $1.00 off coupons so we picked up about 10 or so cans.

I thought why not if it’s almost free and I can use it in my tea and coffee as well. Whipping cream can cost a fortune unless you find it on sale. I noticed 1 litre of whipping cream for $6.99 at Metro last week.

Making Coconut Custard

It was my friend Beth that mentioned to me that I could try using the evaporated milk instead of using heavy whipping cream. I did a straight substitute for heavy cream and evaporated milk. I toasted my coconut on a baking sheet at 250 degrees for about 5 minutes. You have to watch it with an eagle eye or you can burn your coconut very fast.

I let the coconut cool while I made the creamy custard and added just a bit of the toasted coconut into the custard for texture. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want.You can easily stick with topping the custard tart with toasted coconut or even chocolate shavings if you are not a fan of coconut.

I used 250ml  of heavy whipping cream in my kitchen-aid stand mixer to whip up a homemade cream for the topping which I added in 1 tbsp of pure vanilla and 2 tbsps of sugar, not much at all for flavour. If you want to keep your whipped topping sugar-free simply leave out the sugar.

Cooling Toasted Coconut Custard

Once the custard was done I placed it in a glass bowl and topped it with parchment paper so that it could cool down and not create a skin on top. I let the custard cool down for about one hour in the refrigerator.

Tart Shells

The tart shells for this particular recipe were made of 2 pie shells. With pie crusts you may find some combine more flour, water, sugar, vinegar, butter or lard than others which may make it flakey, buttery, richer in taste. I’ve tried others successfully but always go back to what I was taught. Aunt B has a great alternative which is a coffee based crust which she used for her eggnog latte tartlettes which would also go well with this recipe.

I simply cut out circles with a tuna fish can that I opened up both sides with and placed them into a non-stick large muffin tin. The size of this tart is similar to a butter tart. If you have a tartlette pan you can use that as well which would make them a bit smaller. I just used what I had on hand. If you have a round pastry cutter you can use that as well or simply free-style cut it as it doesn’t have to be perfect. These are a rustic custard tart.

I baked them off until they were golden brown, took them out and let sit until they were cool. They do puff up in the oven and they did shrink down a bit so next time I will over lap them higher if I can but they still turned out perfect.

How To Make Pie Crusts

Ingredients- Makes 2 pie crusts 

  • 2. 5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch bits
  • 1/3 cup ice-cold water (may need to adjust)

Pie Shell Preparation

  • In a food processor add your flour, sugar, salt and butter and pulse until it resembles little coarse bits the size of  kidney beans. If you don’t have a processor simply rub the butter with your fingers into the flour with clean hands or use 2 knives to cut in the butter or mix with a pastry cutter.
  • Add just a bit of water and pulse again quickly as you don’t want to over mix your dough in the processor or mix with your hands in the bowl until the flour all comes together and away from the bowl. If you find the dough too crumbly just add a tablespoon at a time of cold water until it comes together without over handling the dough. If you do this you will have a tough dough to work with.
  • Divide your dough into 2, flatten on worktop then wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes
  • Remove from plastic wrap and put onto a floured surface
  • Roll out the dough into about a 12 inch circle (this does not have to be perfect as you won’t be using it as a pie)
  • Using your tuna can or round pastry cutter cut out a round disk and sit it into your muffin or tart tin
  • Any leftover dough gently roll on floured surface and cut out more round. You can easily use a knife and cut the rounds as well.
  • I crimped my dough around the muffin tin to give it a bit more texture and thickness
  • Poke the bottom of the tart and around the sides with a fork a few times
  • Cover the tarts with a layer or tinfoil, just lay it on top and gently seal so it doesn’t fly off in the oven
  • Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10- 15 minutes depending on your oven. (watch carefully so that they don’t burn)
  • Remove the foil and bake a further 3-5 minutes until golden brown, Keep an eye on them.
  • Depending on the size of your muffin tins and how much custard you made you may end up with extra shells or custard
How To Make Coconut Custard

Custard Ingredients

  • 2 cans of 2% evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1.5  tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 oz granulated sugar whirled in the food processor to make it super fine
  • For the preparation I simply used Delia Smith’s custard recipe from the English Custard Trifle I made BUT I used 2 cans of Evaporated Milk instead and added in a touch more cornstarch which is reflected in the ingredients for the custard above. Each can of evaporated milk has 370 ml. Once the custard thickened up I added in 3/4 cup of toasted coconut and mixed it together. If you want more coconut, add more! Remove from heat and pour into glass bowl and cover with parchment paper. (See picture above)
How To Make Toasted Coconut

In an oven at 250 degrees add 1 pkg or approximately 2 cups of sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut to a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. I mix it about with a wooden spoon half way through toasting. It should take about 5 minutes to cook. Let cool.

Filling The Coconut Custard Tarts

  • Chill the tart shells then fill with the chilled coconut custard cream
  • Top with homemade vanilla whipped cream and sprinkle with more toasted coconut
  • Enjoy!!

Happy Mothers Day 2013 I love you

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