Category Archives: cheap food

The Easiest Cupcakes You’ll Ever Bake

Due to my newfound passion for food photography, I have found myself scouring the Internet for affordable cupcake recipes. Dessert photography isn’t cheap…

…That is, unless you do plenty of research. These chocolate cupcakes are scrumptious and nearly impossible to ruin; even the most amateur baker will find success. Plus, these delights only require three ingredients, one being water. Scroll down for the complete recipe.

All you need to purchase is one box of devil’s food cake mix and one 15 oz. can of pumpkin. Frosting, chocolate chips and cocoa powder are optional.

Combine ingredients in one large bowl, including 2/3 cup of water (use 1/2 cup for thicker cupcakes).

For an extra chocolatey batter I mixed in 1 tbsp. of Dutch-process cocoa powder and folded in a handful of Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips. For my next batch I will double the amount of each.

Mix until smooth. Remember to fold in any chocolate chips once the initial mixture is smooth.

Pop in the oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes (mine took 30). Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting. Top with frosting and a couple chocolate chips for fun.


And don’t forget to enjoy!

Recipe: Easy Chocolate Cupcakes (yields 24)

  • 18 oz. devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Mix ingredients; batter will be stiff.
  • Disperse equally among liners.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until top springs back.

Double Chocolate Covered Raspberries

Half pints of raspberries were on sale for $0.99 a couple of weeks ago. I stocked up and decided to get creative. Since I had white and milk chocolate remaining from my strawberries, I gave these double chocolate covered raspberries a try.

A batch of about twenty of these little goodies came in at around $3.50 (accounting for only chocolate used). They require a little bit of patience, but the reward is oh so good!

Hint: for a delicious ooey-gooey center, freeze the raspberries before preparing; too, the chocolate will stick more easily when dipping.

This goes to show that decadence does not have to be expensive!



Double Chocolate Covered Raspberries (makes approx. 20)


  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries – washed, dried and frozen

1. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low or a simmer.

2. Set the white chocolate chips, placed either in a heatproof bowl or a small nonstick pan, above the simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt (about 5 minutes).

3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

4. Dip a raspberry, top first, into the white chocolate until the top half is covered. Set on paper/pan. Repeat with remaining raspberries. Set for 30 minutes. (Hint: have a spoon handy, as white chocolate can be tricky.)

5. Melt the milk chocolate. Holding the top of the white chocolate covered raspberry, dip into the milk chocolate. Set each on its side.

6. Allow 30 minutes for the milk chocolate set. Place in the refrigerator.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

These decadent chocolate-dipped treats can be so expensive at sweet shops and bakeries. But surprise – they are actually very affordable to make. A batch of about twenty chocolate-dipped strawberries comes in at around a whopping $4.50 (accounting for only chocolate used); that’s about the price of two pieces at a specialty shop.

I prepared a batch for dinner with friends last night and they were an instant hit. They’re easy to assemble, affordable, require only three ingredients and look so pretty (though I need to perfect my drizzling technique).


Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries (makes approx. 20)


  • 3/4      cup semi-sweet (or milk) chocolate chips
  • 1/4      cup white chocolate chips
  • 1          lb. fresh strawberries, washed and dried

1. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low or a simmer.


2. Set the semi-sweet chocolate chips, placed either in a heatproof bowl or a smaller pan, above the simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt (about 5 minutes).

3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (I used tin foil).

4. Holding a strawberry by the stem, twist into the chocolate until it is covered. Set on paper/pan. Repeat.

5. Melt the white chocolate. With a fork drizzle the chocolate on the strawberries.

6. Allow 30 minutes for the chocolate to set. Place pan in the refrigerator.

Just a couple pointers/notes: I have only the supplies to melt one chocolate at a time, and this is reflected in the recipe above. Too, after washing and drying the strawberries I recommend placing them in the freezer for a couple of minutes to harden before dipping in chocolate. Lastly, you can eye the proportions and be perfectly fine.

Forgotten Butterscotch Cookies

This afternoon I whipped up a batch of Forgotten Cookies. When baked properly, they are light as a feather and very delicious. Too, they are extremely sweet; to cut the sweetness I will chop and sprinkle them atop low-fat ice cream.

I used butterscotch chips as the main ingredient, and before placing in the oven I sprinkled on chopped nuts and a hint of kosher salt. But what’s fun about this über simple recipe is that there is room to mix it up; swap out the butterscotch for various chocolates and nuts. Since these are so sweet I would recommend beginning with dark or semi-sweet chocolate.

This is another recipe that rings in at under $3, excluding the cost of heating the oven. These sweet devils travel easily, and will come in handy around the Holidays as a sweet treat to wrap up for the neighbors.

Forgotten Cookies (makes approx. 36)


  • 3/4      cup sugar
  • 6          egg whites
  • 1          cup butterscotch chips or semi-chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, beating until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry (do not overbeat).

3. Gently fold chocolates into whites mix.

4. Stir and drop by teaspoon (I did tablespoon) onto well-greased cookie sheet. Put cookies into the oven and turn off. Leave in the oven until the cookies are cold. Enjoy!

Spicy Tomatillo Salsa

As the temperatures sour here in LA, my water consumption has increased twofold and I have been eating watermelon faster than I can buy it. What better than some cool, salty salsa to ease the effect of the heat wave? If you’re anything like me, you could eat salsa by the bucket.

Tomatillos, staples of Mexican cuisine, aren’t well-ventured culinary fare here in the United States. The good news is that they’re affordable, make a great salsa base, and are available at your local market. Too, they’re packed with nutrients like fiber and Vitamin C, and half a cup of chopped tomatillos will set you back only twenty calories. Oh, and they photography beautifully.

This tomatillo salsa is spicy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I whipped it up for around $1.50. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, adjust the proportions accordingly. Serve with chips or use as a garnish for your scrambled eggs. Enjoy!

Spicy Tomatillo Salsa (yields approximately 1.5 cups)


  • 6          tomatillos
  • 3          cloves of garlic
  • 2          chipotle peppers in adobo (can)
  • salt (to taste)


1. Heat a large nonstick frying pan on low.

2. Slice tomatillos in half.

3. Roast tomatillos and garlic cloves in the frying pan until soft. They will Brown a bit.

4. Combine tomatillos and garlic in a food processor;  a hand blender will do the trick, as well. Once mixed add chipotle peppers. Blend until uniform. Add salt to taste.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

My baking is limited due to the fact that I have no will power around baked goods.

Still, today I found myself whipping up a batch of Martha’s flourless chocolate cupcakes. I found the recipe months ago in her fabulous book Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. These moist chocolaty delights are affordable and are so very delectable.

Minimal ingredients equal minimal mess, short preparation time, and low cost! To bake a batch of twenty-two cupcakes costs approximately $4.50, excluding power to heat the oven. And at under 200 calories a piece, they’re not only a small investment money-wise but health-wise, too. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 22)


  • 6          tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1  1/2  cups semisweet chocolate chips (1 bag)
  • 6          large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/2      cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Melt butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Stir to combine, then remove bowl from heat and let cool just a bit. Whisk in egg yolks.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, beating until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry (do not overbeat). Whisk 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten; gently fold mixture into remaining whites.

3. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake (rotating tins halfway through) until cupcakes are just set in centers, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes (the centers will sink). Cupcakes are most fresh the same day they are baked; store at room temperature. Top with ice cream if desired.

The $0.28 Breakfast

I’ve been hooked on a certain breakfast as of late. It’s around 200 calories, and excluding the cost for heat or water, costs under $0.30 per tummy-satisfying serving.

I purchased store-brand oatmeal, raisins, and peanuts, as well as sugar substitute from the dollar store. From these four main ingredients I’ve been able to whip up a cup of oatmeal that is wallet-friendly.

I usually precede each meal with a couple glasses of water, and often a few bites of fruit. The health benefits of my oatmeal delight aren’t through the roof, but it’s a sensible, quick and affordable way to start the day. Let cool for a few minutes, or bring to work; the oatmeal usually keeps warm in a well-sealed container for about an hour.