Simple Hospitality: Host a Kaffeeklatsch

Some times I think we have the idea that hosting guests in our home has to be a big ordeal complete with written invitations (or at least an evite), a set of fine china, a sparkling clean home, and the perfect balance of dinner guests. And sometimes I think that our hours spent browsing on Pinterest have convinced us that no event is complete without handmade decor, cute-si-fied mason jars, and/or an assortment of creative, delicious, and – of course – uber-healthy treats for every dietary need possible.

Simple Hospitality

Forget all that stuff. That is not what hospitality is all about!

Hospitality is about people getting together, plain and simple. The setting doesn’t really matter – you don’t need to spend hours of time impressing your friends with either your millions… or your ability to create what looks like a million bucks out of  nothing.

Sure, we all love good food, and I love a themed party as well as anybody! Cute decorations and creative touches make me smile and say “awww”. But really, when I host (or attend) a get-together of any kind, what I’m really looking for is good conversation and fun with other people. All that other stuff is auxiliary and completely unnecessary.

So if you’re not feeling up to scrubbing the house top-to-bottom, or if you don’t have a crafty bone in your body, or if the thought of cooking up a full-course meal for other folks makes you sick to your stomach… well, then, don’t. Don’t do all that stuff. 

But do have other people over. One of the easiest ways to get some friends over to your house for a good time of conversation and fellowship is to have them over for coffee. The Germans even have a name for it – Kaffeeklatsch – so if you want to make it sound a little more exciting, then that’s what you can call it!

A Kaffeeklatsch is super simple, inexpensive, and enjoyed by just about everybody (even the non-coffee drinkers; I’ll get to that in a minute).

How to Host a Kaffeeklatsch

Here’s how I recently hosted a Kaffeeklatsch myself:

  • I invited my guests by text, Facebook message, and cell phone. No fancy-schmancy invitations needed!
  • I ran to Safeway (literally at the last minute) and picked up some coffee (Did you know, by the way, that Gevalia coffee is now available in grocery stores? It used to be mail-order only back in the day, but now it’s available to pick up any time! And it’s yummy stuff, so that’s what I got. Decaf for the sleepy folks who wanted to stay that way, and regular for the rest of us.)
  • While at Safeway, I also picked up some healthy-ish treats. Since this was a total impromptu gathering, I didn’t bother taking the time to make some truly healthy treats at home; I chose instead to compromise health for the sake of hospitality! So we had all-natural ice cream, Newman-O’s ginger creme cookies, dark chocolate with fruit and nuts, and some bake-at-home cookies from the Immaculate Baking Company (also all natural).
  • Once home, I set out the cookies and treats on trays, and got my French press ready to go.
  • I also set out different kinds of sweetener (chocolate-flavored stevia, for one –  yum!), some chocolate syrup (all natural again), real whipped cream, and cinnamon for my guests to dress up their coffee.
  • I also had some organic hot chocolate mix ready for friends who preferred not to drink coffee. And if I had any tea-drinking friends present, I would have set out some options for hot tea as well.
  • And we all sipped our coffee, nibbled our treats, and chit-chatted until it got dark!

That’s it, friend! All there is to it. If you prefer to fix healthy treats for your friends, here are a few ideas:

What’s your favorite easy hospitality?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Homemade Pink Lemonade

All Natural Homemade Pink Lemonade For my birthday in May, my wonderful DH hosted a lovely party for me, and even made most of the food! (I think I’ll keep him!)  Included in the menu was some delicious strawberry lemonade, which he made himself from scratch to the delight of all our guests. He made a HUGE batch, and it was gone almost instantly.

Since then, we’ve made it a few more times because it was just so good we couldn’t resist. The last time I made it, though, I took it one step further. That one little step went from “amazing” to “Uh.May.Zing”. Just like that.

All Natural Homemade Pink Lemonade

It’s still strawberry lemonade… but it’s pink. So I call it “Pink Lemonade”. Fitting, huh? But unlike the pink lemonade you can buy just about anywhere else, this pretty little beverage has no artificial colors. No artificial flavors or preservatives, either! In fact, it has no refined sugar, and very little sugar at all. Can you say, “Mmm-mmm!”

All Natural Pink Lemonade


Natural Pink Lemonade

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Homemade Tea Recipes {Raising Healthy Families}

Homemade Tea Recipes

Over the last 50 years, we’ve had a major shift in the American diet. We’re now consuming more of our calories by drinking them. In fact, the average American is now drinking approximately 400 calories per day!

Soda, fruit juice, energy drinks and sports drinks. My kids ask for them, do yours?

Reach for a healthier alternative: tea. Full of potent antioxidants, studies have proven tea is good for your health. Can any soda say that? Plus, with so many flavorful recipes, you’ll have no problem convincing your family to drink more healthy tea.

Andrea Green from The Greenbacks Gal shares her Homemade Tea Recipes that are sure to become family favorites.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Pumpkin Not Chocolate – Smooth & Creamy Hot Pumpkin Beverage

Now I have nothing against chocolate, mind you. Quite the contrary. A hot and creamy cup of homemade cocoa fits the bill deliciously on a cold winter evening. It’s just that at this time of year, when the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock (whatever that is), I go a little pumpkin crazy and start putting pumpkin into just about everything. 

Including hot chocolate. Except without the chocolate. So it’s not chocolate.

pumpkin not chocolate

pumpkin not chocolate

What’s your favorite thing to do with pumpkin puree?

Pssst! Out of pumpkin? Vitacost has canned organic pumpkin for only $1.85!

Read more inspiring and informative posts at these link-ups: Motivation Monday, Mom’s Monday Mingle, Homestead Barn Hop, The Bulletin Board, Better Mom Mondays, Natural Living MondayTip Me TuesdayTrivium TuesdayMom’s LibraryTitus 2sdayTeach me TuesdayHip Homeschool HopTitus 2 TuesdayDelicious DishesOpen Call TuesdayTiny Tip TuesdayHealthy 2Day WednesdayFrugal Days Sustainable WaysWorks for me WednesdayWomen Living Well WednesdayReal Food WednesdayWhole Foods Wednesday,Allergen-Free WednesdayEncourage One AnotherLife in BloomThought-Provoking ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Homemaking Link-UpTastetastic ThursdayKeep it Real ThursdayFrugal Thursday RewindHomeschooling on the CheapFellowship FridayFight Back FridayFeast in Fellowship FridayFrugal FridayI’m Lovin’ ItWeekend Bloggy ReadingSnacktime SaturdayShow & Share SaturdayWeekend Whatever

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Tropical Traditions Coconut Chips & Coconut Milk Recipe

You probably already know that Tropical Traditions is famous for its Virgin Coconut Oil. (Curious about coconut oil? Click here.) And if coconut oil was the only thing available at Tropical Traditions, it would be totally worth it. Check out this video with all the uses of coconut oil if you don’t believe me.

LinkedTube

But as much as I love Tropical Traditions’ coconut oil, I’m not here to talk about that today. Today I want to focus on one of their other amazing coconut products: coconut chips.

Tropical Traditions generously sent me a gallon of their Coconut Chips to try, and I started digging in right away. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, to be honest. I’m familiar with coconut flakes, coconut shreds, desiccated coconut, and the like, but coconut chips? Wasn’t real sure exactly what that was. 

It turns out that coconut chips are basically like coconut flakes, just a little bit larger. I was expecting a thicker, crunchier piece of coconut, but it’s actually rather thin. Tropical Traditions recommends using their shredded coconut or coconut flakes rather than the chips for baking, but I personally think these coconut chips would also work in any dried-coconut-based recipe, like these Orange Chocolate Macaroons. The texture would probably be different, but I think it would work. You could also try this recipe for Gluten Free Coconut Fudge Cupcakes.

What did I do with my delicious coconut chips?

Well, first of all, I ate them plain. Yummy!

Then I added them to a trail mix I made:

  • dried cranberries
  • raisins
  • sunflower seeds
  • chocolate chips
  • chopped walnuts,
  • and, of course, coconut chips

Dee. Lish. Us! And perfect for on-the-go snacking.

I also used the coconut chips to make home-made coconut milk for my Certain Little Someone. This is how I did it (in my Vitamix):

  • I placed 1 cup of coconut chips in the bottom of the Vitamix.
  • I poured 2 cups of boiling water over the chips, and let them soak for a while as I puttered around the kitchen doing other things.
  • I then put the lid on the Vitamix, turned it on, set it on variable 10 and then High. I let it run for 2-3 minutes to pulverize the coconut chips.
  • I strained the milk through a mesh sieve lined with a tea towel, and squeezed out the tea towel thoroughly after it had cooled some.

That’s it! I then used that homemade coconut milk to make some yogurt for the same Certain Little Someone. He loved it!

If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Girl, Eat Your Breakfast!

Don’t miss a single exciting post in my Women’s Wellness Seriessubscribe today! We’re talking about all aspects of women’s health. Follow my Women’s Wellness board on Pinterest for even more great articles and product recommendations.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “I’m just not a big breakfast eater.”

Um, hello. Didn’t your mama ever tell you it’s the most important meal of the day? Not that you should skip any meals, but you definitely shouldn’t skip breakfast. 

Do you really expect to be able to function on an acceptable level when your body hasn’t been fed since the night before? The reason (at least one reason) we eat is to provide energy and nutrition to our body. If you haven’t done that, your body’s just not going to work the way it’s supposed to. Your mind isn’t going to think straight, your body’s going to lack energy and be sluggish… and worst of all, you’re more than likely going to gain some weight. 

Yep, it’s true. Studies have proven that women who skip breakfast gain weight.

I know, I know. It’s hard enough to wake up and get dressed and get the kids out the door in time for school, let alone fix a decent breakfast for everybody.

I’ve got ya covered. The answer to your dilemma is simple: smoothies! I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love a good smoothie (OK, well, except my DH, but he’s weird. Whatever.), and they are SO fast, SO delicious, and SO packed full of amazing goodness to nourish your body all morning long. (Because, you know, breakfast only lasts so long. You’re going to have to eat lunch, too!)

I’ve already posted 2 smoothies during the course of this Women’s Wellness series ( maybe it should have just been the smoothie series!): try the Shamrock Shake (mint gives it a delicious flavor and pretty green color), or Nancy’s Maca Mocha Smoothie.

A smoothie can be a well-rounded breakfast in a cup, complete with protein, fat and carbs to get you going and keep you going. And you can even put it in a to-go cup if you’re really in a hurry!


See how QUICK that was?

And so EASY, too – only one little line of instructions. I’m sure you can handle that even before your morning coffee!

It’s CHEAP enough, I guess. I estimate probably between $1 and $1.50 for this one, depending on how much you pay for the components. Not too shabby!

And wow, is it HEALTHY! You’ve got healthy fats and protein from the milk and yogurt, more healthy fat in the avocado, plenty of fiber between the banana and the avocado, plus antioxidants and vitamins to boot! Drink it up!

Hearth & Soul Hop realfoodallergyfree

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Maca Mocha Smoothie

Regular guest contributor Nancy, from Real Food Allergy Free, brings us today’s post,

with a delicious-looking smoothie recipe… plus information about how maca increases a women’s wellness!

Maca is a tuber root (similar to potato) grown high in the mountains of Peru.  Though it’s been used medicinally in Peru for thousands of years, it’s just recently gaining popularity in the US.  Since its Women’s Wellness Month here at Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, we will focus on how maca root benefits women.

Maca root is a super-food that is packed full of nutritious goodness.  It’s loaded with over 60 micronutrients, 18 amino acids and 20 fatty acids. Maca is 40% potassium, 10% calcium and contains vitamins A, B, C, D, E, B12, B1, 2, 3, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, silica and zinc.

It is believed that maca is most beneficial because of its effect on the endocrine system.  Maca is an endocrine modulator and the

endocrine system includes all of the body’s glands and the hormones they secrete.  Hormones regulate many, many things including tissue function, mood, growth and sexual development.

Here are some of the ways maca can help women:

  • Sometimes called Peruvian ginseng, maca increases energy and provides mental clarity.
  • Maca helps to regulates hormones which can alleviate PMS and perimenopause symptoms.
  • Leveled hormones lead to less mood swings and better emotional health.
  • Also called nature’s Viagara, maca is known as an aphrodisiac, increasing libido.

Maca has a very strong smell and taste.  It is somewhat malt like, so I find a chocolate based smoothie is the best way to get it down.  This Maca Mocha Smoothie is my favorite.

Maca Malt

Maca Mocha Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana, frozen
  • 2 tsp Cocoa Powder
  • 3 tsp Maca Root Powder (buy it here)
  • ¾ cup Vanilla Coconut Milk Beverage or Dairy Milk

 

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  Add sweetener if necessary.

*********************************

Nancy is a God fearing, family loving, and homeschooling mom to four. You can find her at www.RealFoodAllergyFree.com where she shares her family’s favorite recipes and money saving deals for foods that are free of the top 8 common food allergens (egg, dairy, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanut, tree nut).

Hearth & Soul Hop

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

The Shamrock Shake – Healthified!

I have never actually had one of those famous Shamrock Shakes at McDonalds. Not because I am too good for McDonald’s (Because, um, yeah. Sometimes I go to McDonald’s.). No, the thing is I’m not a huge milkshake fan. They’re just not my thing. Especially fake green ones. Cookies ‘n’ Cream would be a different story, but fake green? Nah. I’ll pass.

This “shamrock shake” copycat is probably nothing like the original, but it does have  a pretty green color – made from real food and not from a bottle. It’s gently sweet, but not sugary. And it’s perfect for breakfast on St. Patty’s Day! The light minty after bite will perk you up and get you ready for a great day.

Instead of ice cream, I froze bananas – remember that banana ice cream craze last summer?  I made both coconut milk and whole milk versions, and they were both great! The coconut adds some extra special flavor. Also, I only had dried mint the day I made it, but I think fresh mint would be amazingly fabulous in this! Oh, and the green color? From avocados! Cool, huh? (And no, you can’t taste it.)

 

 It’s a great QUICK breakfast for any day, but especially St Patrick’s Day!

It’s not as EASY as some smoothies with the freezing of the bananas – but don’t skip that step! It’s important.

I don’t know exactly how much the McDonald’s version costs, but this one is less than $1, so I’m sure it’s CHEAPer.

It is sooo HEALTHY, too! Nothing to be ashamed of with this version!

Sharing at Tastetastic Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday, Katherine Martinelli’s, and…

The Sweet Spot Hearth & Soul Hop

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Secret Recipe Club: Brazilian Chocolate

Brazilian Chocolate

Welcome to the March edition of the Secret Recipe Club (Group A), the part of the show where the bloggers sing write about each others’  recipes (which they have secretly been testing on the sly).
Secret Recipe Club
My secret assignment this month was none other than our host for the week, The Heritage Cook. Jane, the heritage cook, is the one who keeps our Group A organized and ready to go every month. (Thanks, Jane!) Jane is passionate about eating local, organic and seasonal food, which appeals to me, as you can imagine. She has tons of recipes, and she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the kitchen, so go check out her blog and be inspired!

My absolute favorite feature over at The Heritage Cook is Chocolate Mondays! Monday is bad, but Chocolate Monday? Good. Very very good. 

So of course, I had to choose one of her delicious chocolate recipes; I simply had no choice! One of her more recent Chocolate Monday posts caught my eye because it featured not one, not two, but three chocolate drink recipes! You could take your pick of Orange Chocolate Ice Cream Shake, Copacabana Milkshake, and Brazilian Chocolate Drink.

Brazilian chocolate in a blue mug

Isn't the blue color of this mug just gorgeous? It's my favorite coffee cup!

I went with the Brazilian Chocolate drink because:

  • It was hot and I was cold.
  • The other two had ice cream. I was cold.
  • And I didn’t have any ice cream.
Excellent choice, if I do say so myself! Brazilian Chocolate is kind of like a mocha in reverse: instead of a little bit of chocolate added to coffee, it’s a little bit of coffee added to chocolate. Either way works for me – those two are a match made in heaven! – but I think this Brazilian Chocolate drink would probably appeal even to die-hard coffee haters. The addition of strong coffee doesn’t really add any extra flavor, but it does bring out the chocolate flavor in a delicious way.
Really, the only change I made to the recipe was that I scaled it down for an individual serving. Sadly, my DH does not share my obsession with either chocolate or coffee, and my Certain Little Someone is allergic to milk. Baby Boy is too young for chocolate and coffee. So I just made one little delicious cup all for me. Ahhhhhh…
Oh, and the original recipe does not specify what kind of chocolate to use, but all I had was semi-sweet, so that’s what I used. If you use darker chocolate, you may need to add a bit more sugar or other sweetener.
This is just as QUICK as any homemade hot chocolate, only better.
Almost as EASY as opening up one of those packets.
Pretty CHEAP, too, depending on the kind of chocolate you spring for. Still, it’s only one ounce, so it’s not going to break your bank (unless you indulge every day. Something I would never do).
HEALTHY? Well, I was just reading some very convincing arguments in a book recently about all the wonderful healthful goodness of chocolate (of course, the darker, the better), so I would say, YES. Healthy! And not much sugar (none at all if you use the stevia drops), either, always a huge plus.
If you are curious about the Secret Recipe Club, check out the website and add your name to the waiting list!

Hearth & Soul Hop


BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

A Sparkling New Year: Make Your Own Sparkling Cider

If you want champagne, I can’t help you, because I don’t know how to make champagne. But if you prefer the non-alcoholic sort of bubbly, well then, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s actually incredibly easy to make your own sparkling cider! All you need is apple cider syrup and seltzer water.

Apple cider syrup? “What’s that?“, I hear you ask. I’ll tell you. It’s essentially boiled down apple cider. That’s it. Apparently, according to Foodie With Family, the early colonists boiled down their cider to preserve it throughout the winter and beyond following the apple crop season. They could have cider anytime, simply by reconstituting their apple cider concentrate.

There are a lot of applications for apple cider syrup, and it’s gaining momentum in foodie and food blog circles, and in my opinion, it’s worth keeping some jars of this stuff in the house year-round! Foodie with Family suggests a variety of usages, some of which I’ve tried, but I’m going to share with you her favorite, which is seriously the bomb.

But first, let’s make the cider syrup. Most of the posts I’ve read about it involve using large amounts of apple cider and boiling it away – on high! – for hours. Number one, I don’t have hours to babysit the stove. Number two, I don’t want the stove on high for hours. Solution? I just make less at a time. Works for me.

Honestly, though, it doesn’t really matter how much you start with, as long as it’s at least about 2 cups. The point of boiling it is to reduce it, so you want to start with enough so that you can substantially reduce it. From there, you can boil several gallons at a time if you have a large enough pot. And apparently it can be processed and stored in the pantry, but I just keep mine in the fridge.

Here’s how you do it: 

Pour at least 2 cups of apple cider into a large pot on the stove over high heat. Use a ruler, or mark a wooden spoon, to note the level of your apple cider before it begins to boil. Bring to a boil and allow it to boil undisturbed until it is reduced in volume to one seventh of the original amount. (I didn’t twist my brain in circles trying to calculate exactly how much one-seventh was or is. I just looked for a syrupy texture that was quite a bit less than what I started with.) The ruler or marked wooden spoon will help you determine when it’s boiled long enough. Be careful, though: it goes very quickly from syrup to sludge, so the first few times you make it, watch closely until you get a good feel for the timing and the proper texture. You’re looking for an almost honey-like consistency, a slight thickness, but still pourable.

Once you have your apple cider syrup, making sparkling apple cider is a breeze! All you have to do is stir 1 TBSP of the cider syrup into a glass of cold seltzer water. Serve it over ice, if desired. I sprinkled a few fresh cranberries into mine for visual interest.

Once you have a batch of apple cider syrup made, the sparkling cider itself is so QUICK. And the great thing is you can make the cider syrup any time, even a month before you need it.

It’s very EASY, too. There is a trick to boiling the cider the right amount of time, but once you’ve mastered that it’s no big deal. And once that’s made, even a kindergartener could fix a glass of sparkling cider! If you wanted your kindergartener in the kitchen unattended, which I wouldn’t. Just sayin’.

It’s CHEAPer than buying those over-priced bottles of sparkling cider and grape juice. A huge bottle of seltzer water is usually less than $1 at my grocery store, and I can usually get a whole gallon of cider for $4. According to my calculations, a gallon of cider reduced by 7 is 2.25 cups, which is 36 TBSP-sized servings. That makes it about $0.11 a serving. Add that to the seltzer water, at $0.13/serving, and it’s less than $0.25 for each glass of sparkling cider. Compare that to the bottles of cider that only have 3 servings and go on sale for $2.50-$3! (Now, unpasteurized organic apple cider is a lot harder to come by – usually only available at farmer’s markets during apple season – and more expensive, about $6 or so. The beauty is that it can be reduced to syrup and preserved for the rest of the year!)

It’s much HEALTHY-er than some store-bought versions. Although Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider is all natural with no added sugars, the same cannot be said for other varieties, which often contain high fructosed corn syrup and other evils.

Sharing at Katherine Martinelli’s DIY Blog Hop.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!