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cheese blintzes covered with red strawberries and mint

Holiday Cheese Blintzes and Dessert Crepes – A family tradition!

This family tradition started about 15 year ago when Steve had this wild idea to make cheese blintzes for a special Christmas family breakfast. He pulled out our Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, modified the recipe for our large crew, added a twist of his own creation and whipped up a batch of crepes and filling . . . the rest is history.

On that Christmas Eve he created a tradition that has endured and is always anticipated. And even now that our kids are grown, they still come back home looking forward to our Christmas morning tradition of cheese blintzes topped with fresh fruit.

It takes about 2 hours to make the crepes and the filling. Steve usually does this on Christmas Eve day and puts the crepes and filling in the refrigerator until Christmas morning.

Here’s the recipe that we created, it yields about 40 finished crepes / blintzes. If you want to make a smaller batch, just decrease all ingredients proportionately (at the bottom of this page we have included a 1/3 recipe quantity to make about 12 to 15 crepes).

Dessert Crepes to make about 40 crepes

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbs Butter – melted (and cooled to room temperature)
  • 4 ½ Cups Milk (at room temperature)
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • 9 Eggs (at room temperature)

Directions:

Allow the milk and butter to come to room temperature. If you put melted butter into cold milk it will coagulate into clumps and this will make your crepes have holes in them.

Mix all ingredients together with the milk and butter and beat until smooth.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the mixture to thicken.

We use a 9 inch non-stick skillet and spray it with a non-stick spray (just to be extra sure that the crepes can be flipped without tearing).

Ladle ¼  to 1/3 cup of batter into a hot skillet. Tip / turn the pan to get batter to cover the bottom with a thin coating. Cover with a lid and cook for about 2 minutes.

Jiggle the skillet to loosen the crepe and flip the crepe to cook the second side. If you don’t feel confident in your flipping ability, you can use 2 skillets putting the batter in a smaller skillet, cooking one side, then invert the pan to flip the crepe into the larger skillet to cook the second side.

Cook the second side for an additional minute or until the crepe is starting to lightly brown on the edges.

Stack the cooked crepes on a plate, separating every 4 Read More...

New Years Eve Confetti in the air

New Year's Eve Party - Fun & Frugal!

We love ringing in the New Year with family and friends.

Years ago we started a family tradition of hosing a New Year’s Eve open house and it doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon. Even though our kids are grown, they love inviting their friends and helping put on a great event.

When the kids were younger we would invite several families whose kids were the same ages as our kids. Now, we just invite anyone who wants to come. We start at 6:30 and have several events planned that run throughout the night. We put the time and event on the invitation so people can time their arrival or departure and not miss what they want to participate in. We don’t usually get to bed until 2 am, but it’s worth every minute of work and planning. Here are the components and details of how we do it.

Food

Everyone brings a dish to share and there’s always enough food. We usually provide at least 2 or 3 hot or cold appetizers, a veggie platter, a fruit platter, one dessert and hot cider. On the invitation we ask people to RSVP and to let us know what they will bring. Annette asks the single guys to bring easy things like drinks, chips or ice. And she asks the more accomplished cooks to bring one of their specialties. We serve hot dishes from our island and usually have several chaffing dishes or warming trays available.

Paper goods

We are always on the look-out for festive paper plates and napkins that are on closeout, we've even used other holiday's, as we are celebrating all of this last year. If we have no festive papaer goods, than we use plain white. We have several serving tables, one for hot appetizers, one for cold appetizers and one for desserts.

Games

Becuase we invite people from so many different walks of life, many of our guests don't know each other. We always have name tags and a few years ago we started the evening off with a get to know people, ice breaker bingo game (download it at the bottom of this page). About an hour and a half after we start the open house we have our annual White Elephant gift exchange. It’s funny to see the stuff that one person deems a White Elephant become a hotly desired item by others. We draw numbers, and the holder of the lowest number picks the first present and opens it. The next person can take the unwrapped present from the first person or pick a new one from the pile. The rounds continue with the only rule being that a present can change hands, at most, three times before it becomes the permanent possession of the holder—until next year. There’s usually a lot of negotiating, begging, pleading and a little bit of collusion between spouses and other family members to game the system and get the present of choice. We normally have about 20 to 30 people participate and it takes about 90 minutes to complete this game.

After a 30 minute food-and-drink break, we play Charades—guys versus gals. Categories include: Movies, Books, Songs and Animals. We created the last category so that younger kids can participate by acting out the animal—they love it. Usually the women win, but one year the guys outlawed “womanly intuition transmissions,” and for the first time in recorded history, the guys prevailed—it was a dirty trick, but you’re talking the male ego here. When the teams are planning their titles, we require that at least 2 people, not from the same family know the title. We also limit any title to no more than 9 words.

Throwing confetti on New Year's Eve at the Economides home.

For a couple of years, because the competition and titles selected became so competitive, we resorted to using words from the game Taboo. This limited the clues to one or two Read More...

Gold Coins on top of gold ingots

The Top Ways to Invest in Gold Right Now

We live in a world of financial uncertainty. Extreme currency fluctuations, government shutdowns and stock market fails have become common and expected. The financial status of a country has become as unpredictable like the weather. To rub it in even more, the amount of fraudsters and professional thieves in the business field keeps increasing regardless of the extreme rules and laws that are implemented. Thus, one needs to take the safest possible measures to ensure that his/her investments, and thereby his/her future, stay safe and secure. One way to do this is to invest your money in gold. Gold is unique because there is more than one way to invest in this asset. Here are some of the best options available to you:

Gold Mining Companies 

There are a great number of reliable and profitable gold mining companies that you can invest in. This way, one can invest their money in this precious metal without having to buy gold directly from the precious metals market. There is no need to dive into the deep end directly since there are small and medium sized mining agencies that you can invest in. , This is a method of single stock investment and, it is a highly volatile and largely unpredictable sector. Thus, do not invest in it unless you are an experienced investor.

Gold Coins

Some people feel paranoid about the safety of their investment. In this case you might want to consider investing in gold coins since you can easily hide them at home or in a safe deposit box and check on them whenever you wish. Not only are gold coins one of the most common ways of investment, but they are also one of the most profitable. You can choose between Canadian Maple Leafs, Krugerrands and US American Eagles – these are some of the most common gold coin types in the market.

Close-Ended Funds

These are funds that are traded at a profitable discount rate in terms of the main asset. The discount rate mainly relies on the market demand and price. Whether it is a bullion fund or any other type, do know that the profit you make relies on the price of gold as well. This method is predominantly used by investment and business leaders since it requires the investor to monitor various market statistics.

Gold Jewelry

This is a popular way of investing in gold. If you are someone who gives importance to aesthetics and beauty, this might be the ideal way to invest your money. According to recent statistics revealed by the World Gold Council, nearly half the gold that is purchased is converted into jewelry. This trend has developed not only because it is safe and profitable, but also because it gives people the opportunity to wear what they own and show off their wealth.

Regardless of the method you choose, the profitability of the investment depends on various external factors. This includes market rate, price of gold, the overall economic state of your country as well as the profitability of other investment options. So remember to do your research before you start digging for gold.

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This blog was authored by Brittany Deatherage

4 Ways to Make your Holidays Jingle with Joy

4 Ways to Make Your Holidays Jingle with Joy!

Four Happy Holiday tips from MoneySmartFamily.com

1) Be like Santa and make a list who you’re going to buy presents for. As you make the list, set a dollar amount for each person (Spouse / Kids / Parents / Relatives / Service People). Then total the amount and this becomes your gift budget. The challenge is to see how many great presents you can bag for your budgeted amount or less.

We created this dollar amount / list many years ago for our and basically set aside $40 every 2 weeks. That amount was enough to buy all of the presents for birthdays, holidays, weddings and baby showers that we buy each year. Your amount may be different, but give it a try - it really creates financial freedom.

2) Then make a list of the items you want to purchase for each person and start checking online stores / local stores / newspaper ads / even CraigsList (you’ll find some new items there). Don’t forget to scope out consignment and thrift stores – you’ll be amazed at the selections and the amazing prices.

3) Use Unused Gift Card balances to pay for holiday gift purchases. More than $1 billion in gift cards goes unused each year. Most people have 4 or 5 gift cards with a balance left – even saving $2 or $3 is less out of your pocket. Or you can buy gift cards at a discount and give them as gifts. You can also sell unwanted gift cards and get cards that you will use. You can sell unwanted Gift Cards and buy Discounted Gift Cards For Up To 30% Off at Cardpool.com! 

4) Clean out your couch, check under the seats of your car and grab any loose coins out of your washing machine. Trade in your coins at CoinStar for eCertificates (no fee). The average family has between $20 and $50 worth of change in their house – put your coins to good use this year.

If you want a tool to help you create a gift budget, we include an interactive Gift Budget worksheet in our new America's Cheapest Family Budget Kit.

4 purple christmas tree ornaments on a white background

gingerbread house with frosting roof and candy pieces stuck on the sides.

8 Inexpensive, Fun-Filled Family Traditions for the Holidays

Tradition! Whether your family is large or small, young or old, establishing traditions can enhance relationships, evoke warm feelings and create memories that last a lifetime.

Over the years, we’ve read numerous books about the value of family traditions. They add stability to the yearly calendar as the kids eagerly anticipate and participate in the preparations for each special event.

Our Christmas Traditions really are a “month-ful” of activities and routines that we’ve established over many years. Here are a few of the many we have:

Music / Performances There are many holiday musical performances this time of year. We attend at least one of the following each year:

  • Thchristmas carolers at a local resorte Nutcracker Ballet (a local ballet school performs it with admission being a toy for the Toys for Tots program)
  • A church musical (there are dozens in our area)
  • Handel’s “Messiah” put on by a local symphony or church.
  • Several resorts have holiday light and music presentations open to the public with live carolers, ice skating and gingerbread house displays. 
  • Christmas Parades (our favorite one is in northern Arizona - the annual Prescott Christmas Parade)

Most communities are full of holiday events – doing a little research could help you find a perfect one for your family.

Christmas Light Tour Each year our newspaper runs a list of families who go all out decorating their homes with lights, characters and music. We load up the van with our kids and some friends and do a driving tour of homes in our area. We have some favorites – like the one lady who has hundreds of nativities from around the world and a petting zoo. We bring hot cocoa and cookies and make a fun evening of ooohing and aaahing at the beautiful displays.

Christmas Music Annette loves Christmas music so much she plays a little of it every month starting in August, but by December the halls of our home are reverberating with carols non-stop. Check out our list of favoriteholiday music here.

Christmas Movies We have a special box full of our favorite Christmas flicks – some old classics and others new favorites. We watch at least one or two each week in December. Here’s a list of our top 19: http://www.moneysmartfamily.com/blog/christmas-movie-favorites

Christmas Cookies / Quick Bread  Read More...

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