Fresh Strawberry Peach Trifle

Fresh strawberry and peach trifle.

Strawberry Peach Trifle
This has been a favourite in my household for years. A great dessert for Canada Day, July 4th or other summer celebrations.

4 peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces or thinly sliced
2 1-pint baskets strawberries, halved or quartered (if large)
2 1/2-pint baskets raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups custard

48 purchased sponge-cake-type ladyfingers
1 cup cream sherry
3 cups chilled whipping cream
Additional whole strawberries (optional)

Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl and toss to blend; let stand 10 minutes. Beat chilled cream in another large bowl until stiff peaks form.

Arrange 16 ladyfingers in 10- to 12-cup glass bowl or trifle dish to cover bottom. Using a pastry brush, generously brush ladyfingers with sherry. Top with 2 cups fruit mixture, then 1 cup custard. Repeat layering 2 more times with ladyfingers, sherry, fruit mixture and custard. Top with 3 cups whipped cream. Garnish with whole strawberries, raspberries and peach slices.

Mascarpone cheese or vanilla pudding may be substituted for custard.

8 Ways to Stick to a Frugal Holiday Gift Budget

The holiday season is the time of year when even the most frugalous of the frugal have difficulty sticking to budgets. Here are 8 ways to to stick to a frugal holiday gift budget without losing your marbles:

  1. Always shop with a list of names, spending limit, and ideas. Stick to your list and don’t be dazzled into impulse spending by store displays.
  2. Stick to your budget. If you’ve budgeted $25 for Cousin Joe and you can’t find a sweater under $30, move over to accessories and maybe grab him some gloves. If you go even $5 off your budget per person it will add up quickly!
  3. If you shop early in the season and discover later that an item you bought has been discounted, take it back to the store. As long as you have the receipt, chances are they’ll refund you the difference.
  4. Buy gift cards for the hard to shop for people in your life. Teens, grandparents, and even cranky uncles can always find a way to use the gift card in their favourite stores.
  5. If your budget is really tight this year, give a homemade gift like cookies or a gift of your time, such as volunteering to babysit or mow an elderly neighbour’s lawn.
  6. A family photo album or your family history on dvd is a great and invaluable present for a elderly, housebound or out of town relative
  7. For large or extended families put everyone’s name in a hate and have each family member draw a name and buy a gift for that one person.
  8. Limit your gift list. If you prefer not to exchange gifts with a friend, neighbour, or co-worker this year, just say so. It’s very likely that she’s trying to pare down her Christmas list too!

Frugal Holiday: Chocolate Carrot Cake

Today is day two of Frugal Upstate’s Thanksgiving Mini Series and today’s topic is desserts.

This simple cake is the most requested recipe I’ve ever made. Family and friends rave about it and it’s not only simple to make but frugal as well. Even people who don’t like carrot cake love this moist, luscious cake.

Chocolate Carrot Cake

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of salad oil*
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of cocoa
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
2 cups of  shredded carrots
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed walnuts (optional)

*I usually substitute 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil. It significantly reduces the fat but keeps the cake moist.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour Bundt pan. In large bowl, mix 10 ingredients at low speed until well blended, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high, beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Add in carrots, coconut, and walnuts. Spoon batter into pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove cake from pan. Cool completely.

The cake can be made up to 2 days ahead. Wrap well with cling wrap to keep it moist. It can also be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Drizzle Icing

1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp orange juice
1/4 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl sugar, juice, and vanilla. Stir in enough additional juice to make a drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing from the back of the spoon onto the cake and allow to run down the sides.

You can garnish the cake with a sprinkle of icing sugar on top, or well drained mandarin orange slices.

Frugal Holiday: Beautiful Beet Soup

My friend Jenn over at Frugal Upstate is doing a week long mini-series “Thanksgiving – the Frugal Mini-Series” and while I’m Canadian and my Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago I decided to add a favourite fall soup for today’s topic of Thanksgiving side dishes. Be sure to visit Frugal Upstate every day this week to find more great Thanksgiving recipes, ideas for decorating and more.

This is a gorgeous beet soup. Full of colour and flavour.

It can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated or up to a month ahead and frozen to be reheated in a Crock-Pot or on stove before serving.

6-8 large beets (1.5 lb), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 yellow flesh potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt & pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large, heavy saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Cook beets, potato, onion, celery, and curry for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until onion is soft and translucent.

Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. You might find it easier to work in small batches rather than all at once, returning puree to a clean saucepan.

For a velvety smooth soup you could then take an extra step and pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer but it’s not required.

At this point the soup can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

To serve, reheat on stove until hot throughout or in a Crock-Pot for 1-2 hrs on low, ladle into soup bowls, top with a spoonful of sour cream.

Makes 8 servings and can easily be doubled.