And we thought we’d run out of ways to save money cooking quickly. Luckily, that’s not the case. We just keeping finding more ways to save. We’re sort of addicted to thrifty, crafty ideas. And please, do feel free to send your own…
- Granita is a great summer dessert you can whip up on a whim. Did I mention it’s refreshing and fat-free and one of the cheapest things to make? You can make any flavor, but I made an espresso version for less than a dollar. Pour 2 tbsp of hot water over 2 tbsp each of instant espresso powder and sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved. Add 2.5 cups cold of New York’s finest water. Pour into a shallow container, cover, and freeze for at least six hours. Every couple of hours, use a fork to scrape the frozen mixture to create shards.
- No one loves the end pieces on a loaf of white bread. Instead of throwing them out, I use them in a bread pudding. Bread pudding is actually a great way to empty out the pantry and can go sweet or savory. Put 2 cups of stale bread crumbs, a half stick of butter, and one quart of hot milk in a buttered baking dish. Let it soak one hour. Finally, add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 beaten eggs, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp. vanilla. Bake for 1 hour in a 325 degree oven. Try layering it with a bar of chocolate with hazelnuts in the pudding.
- It doesn’t make sense to buy professional baking tools unless you use them on a regular basis. Case in point: I love the look of “combed” icing on the side of a birthday cake, but I don’t own a cake comb. To get that same look, I use a serrated knife. Firmly but carefully glide it along the sides of the cake, creating lines, and keep moving the cake in a circle to get an even look.
- Most recipes only call for a few marshmallows at a time, which leaves me with a half-empty bag in the pantry that gets stale quickly. That’s why I love this recipe for marshmallow “pudding” from The Settlement Cookbook. It only has four ingredients, and it tastes just like ice cream. Take a 1/4 lb. of mini marshmallows and cook over hot water with 2 tbsp. of milk. Once the marshmallows have dissolved and the mixture is cool, fold in a 1/2 cup of cream that you’ve whipped. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of cookies, coconut, or any kind of nut, and pour into a mold or individual glasses and chill overnight.
- Not a fan of granita? Make sorbet instead. If you’ve got a blender, you can make it inexpensively at home. Take two ripe but firm bananas, and one cup of berries, stone fruit, or mango, and cut into small pieces. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for four hours. Puree it and once smooth, stick it back in the freezer for half an hour to harden. The result is a smooth, luscious “sorbet.”