Pears with Ricotta Filling



Here’s a recipe I recently tried out that’s somewhat of a break from pies and anything overly heavy. I bought some pears, and as everyone knows they’re either in one of two conditions. Either perfect for using as paperweights or mushy and only fit for smoothies. I don’t know why there’s never a middle ground for this fruit, but that’s the way it is. So before my purchase turned into mush, I decided to slow cook them. The result was a half descent pear that didn’t fall to pieces. The filling I made is a little more decadent depending on whether or not you use full fat or skim milk ricotta. Either way, they’re delicious and if you really want to splurge, I think the filling would be great between layers of puff pastry too and drizzled with melted chocolate.


4 pears, washed, destemmed, peeled, cored and cut in half

2 tablespoons butter or low fat spread

½ cup ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (adjust the amount depending of your love of sweetness)

¼ cup chocolate chips/morsels

1 tablespoon crystallized ginger

¼ cup dried sweetened cranberries


How to make-

Place the pears in the slow cooker and dot them with the butter. Cook on low for about an hour or two depending on how ripe the pears are to begin with.

Meanwhile chop the chocolate chips, ginger and cranberries together.

In a small bowl, add the ricotta cheese and stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Stir in the chocolate mixture but reserve a tablespoon of it for decoration.

When the pears are ready, put two halves on a plate and add some of the ricotta cheese mixture down the middle of each one. Repeat with the rest of the pears and remaining filling and then dust all of them with the reserved chocolate mixture.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.



Holiday Shopping Tips

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner so here are my favorite tips for making the most of the bargains-

Plan Ahead

If you’re heading out to the stores, make a list of what you want and check prices online. Just because a store tells you it’s a deal, doesn’t always make it true.

Compare Prices

Same goes for comparing prices between competing stores or online sites.

Will They Match Prices?

It’s do or die season for some businesses so ask if they’ll match a price or honor a competitor’s coupon. I always say it never hurts to ask.

Buy Gifts for Other Occasions

I don’t think of just Christmas gifts when I’m shopping but birthday ones too which can save you money when prices return to post holiday levels.

Treat Yourself

Bargain hunting shouldn’t always be about gifts for other people. If I’m looking for a particular item and it’s getting close to holiday sales, I’ll hold off to see if I can get a better deal and then treat myself. This year it’s a new office chair that I’ve been wanting but know I’ll save some money from Friday onwards.

Wait Till The Last Minute

I know I often say he who hesitates is lost, but sometimes holding on until the last few days before Christmas can net you even bigger savings.

Keep Receipts

Most stores have a policy that allows you to refund an item. However, without a receipt you’ll only get its current price and after Christmas Day there’s a good chance that item has already been deeply discounted.

Buy Gift Cards

When in doubt, buy a gift card and look for deals where the store throws in an extra one that you can keep for yourself or use as another gift.

Don’t Be In Impulse Buyer

It’s the easiest time of the year to get tempted when you see 50% off of this, and 75% off of that, but getting in debt or starting the New Year off with little in the bank isn’t the goal of making the most of the bargain season. Think of need and not a want.

Prepaid Credit Cards

You can buy prepaid credit cards just about anywhere now. Load them with the amount you want to spend on gifts, and only that amount, and when it runs out, that’s it, shopping spree over. You can also do the same by buying a store gift card and doing all your shopping there.

Look in the Unusual Places

My final tip is to look for gifts in places that you wouldn’t normally expect to find a great deal. One of my favorite spots for stocking stuffer gifts is my local DIY store.



To all those in the US, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday Round Up-Holiday Fare



Another quick Friday Round-Up. I hope to be posting some gift ideas and a few recipes next week but for now I thought I’d share links to articles that might be of some interest to you-

I always make my own cranberry sauce and sometimes I ask myself why. Here’s a way to turn the canned variety into something special. And BTW, leftover cranberry sauce makes a great addition to a holiday themed trifle and  to a cheese platter too-


I know many of you are vegetarians and vegans and sometimes buying those substitute turkey replacement meats can be pricey so I thought these two suggestions might come in handy. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, who can resist a pot pie?


And for those on a tight budget, I thought this was a great article-


Finally, nothing really holiday related but if like me, you miss growing things in winter, here’s the perfect article for you-


Have a money saving week.


Keeping The Calories At Bay This Season

The folks at Nakano sent me an e-mail about foods we can swap to save calories this holiday season. As sometimes changing a few ingredients can save money too, I thought I’d share this with you-


As the holidays sneak closer, it can be a challenge to find fresh seasonal foods for maintaining a well-balanced diet throughout the winter. Instead of eating on autopilot in the coming cold months, which can inevitably lead to packing on the pounds there are many healthier, sinless swaps to replace high-calorie condiments.


Here are some ideas to help cut extra calories and unnecessary fats in everyday meals (without sacrificing flavor!):


  • Baked Potatoes: Indulge in a cold weather classic with a splash of NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar- Garlic. This simple substitution for sour cream and butter saves 26g fat and 205 calories!
  • Poached Shrimp/Crab Legs: Dive into flavor instead of dipping into fat! Use NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar- Mango on poached shrimp or crab legs instead of drawn butter, saving 14g of fat and 110 calories.
  • Macaroni Salads: Add a touch of tang to this holiday favorite using NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar- Original instead of creamy dressing, saving 7-9g fat and 55-75 calories.
  • Sandwiches: Save 70 calories and 10g of fat in your lunchtime sandwich by swapping out mayo for a splash of NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar- Original!


Friday Round Up-Two Weeks until Black Friday


The Countdown to Black Friday Begins…

Yes, just 14 days left until Black Friday. I like to think of it as the time of year that’s not only perfect for buying holiday gifts, but maybe getting a bargain or two on things you’ve been hoping to buy but the price hasn’t been right.

Stocking Stuffer Idea

I sometimes hate all the catalogs that start to hit the mailbox this time of the year. Most of them I throw away but I got one the other day that I’m actually hanging onto. It was from a seed company but gardening items aren’t the only things they sell. They have teas, knitting wool, craft kits, you name it. Even items to make your own make-up. I also found an item that will be my first suggestion for this year’s stocking stuffer gift guide. A teddy bear loofa that’s just $1.98.

Too Many Books?

As an avid reader, it often means I have one too many books and shelves that are threatening to collapse. Most of the time I end up donating the ones I’m done reading but I found this useful site where you can list the ISBN and see how much you’d get if you sold it at various sites

Quick Tasty Recipe

This is a busy time of the year for most people and one recipe I’ve come up with that’s quick and tasty too is baked salmon with mustard and dill.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and place four pieces of salmon into it. Bake for about five minutes during which mix about 1/4 cup of Dijon mustard and two tablespoons of dried dill together.

Remove the salmon from the oven and brush the mustard/dill mixture over each piece of salmon. Return the pan to the oven and cook for a further five-eight minutes or more depending on the thickness of the salmon.

A Bargain Food

Baked beans are always a good buy and a favorite pantry staple of mine and I found this article about ways to put them to good use-

Have a money saving week.

My First Shopping Trip to Aldi

After hearing about the Aldi supermarkets for years, last week I took my first shopping adventure there. It’s a nearly opened one and luckily only about a few miles from where I live. I’m a price shopper more than a brand one so I knew that my shopping style would probably be a good match.

For those of you who’ve never shopped there, you pay 25 cents for the cart which is refunded when you take the cart back and you need your own shopping bags which I prefer anyway, plus you pack everything in what’s known as a bagging area.

I have to say after my first trip there I’m a huge Aldi fan…I even went back there yesterday to buy some cast iron skillets and casserole dishes that were just $29.99.

As far as quality and taste, all the things I purchased were equal to, if not better than other stores where I’d pay a lot more. On my first trip I had a full cart and the total was around $130. I know when I have that much in a cart at another store in the area, it’s usually around the $200 mark.

Some buys I especially liked were the red grapes which were 2.39 for a two pound bag. I usually pay that per pound and these were some of the best I’ve tasted. I bought two more bags on yesterday’s trip because I’ve been snacking on them while I write.

Frozen salmon which was excellent. Lots of varieties of gourmet cheeses that are a lot more expensive where I usually shop. Bags of frozen veggies were a great buy two. Some unusual ones like eggplant, peppers and zucchini that I used in a lasagna. Yesterday I bought a cauliflower bake and also bags of parmesan garlic potatoes. The canned veggies were a great price too, and the milk and eggs were a lot cheaper than  where I’ve been shopping.

While you might not find everything you need there…for example, I couldn’t find any veggie burgers but maybe other Aldi stores stock them. And you won’t find items you can use coupons for, but overall this is a store I’ll now be doing the bulk of my grocery shopping at.

November Savings with Georgine

The holidays are around the corner and Georgine has lots of tips for us-


Let the holiday shopping begin!

After Halloween Sales

Halloween candy usually is half-price, either on the day or day after the holiday, and so if you have a sweet tooth, this is right down your alley. Another suggestion that’s good for bakers is that this is an opportunity to get some baking chocolates cheap. One the wrappers come off, no one knows that it was Halloween candy! It’s also a great time to pick up costumes and masks for next year, as well as scary décor.

Disney World

November is also a month to save on trips to Disney World. It’s after hurricane season and an off-peak month. Additionally, temperatures will be cooler, but not cold, so you should get discounts on attractions and hotels.

Heading Down the Aisle?

Getting married? Snag a wedding dress at negotiable prices from last season’s styles.

Avoid the Black Friday Crowds

Best tip of all: avoid Black Friday hassles by shopping online. Try to NEVER pay for shipping. Add that extra item to your cart to meet the minimum for FREE shipping. Many times, especially if the online site has a brick and mortar store, it can be returned, saving you those extra bucks you would’ve paid for shipping. There’s a site called Amazon Filler Item Finder that allows you to enter the price amount you are short for FREE shipping at It then gives you suggestions based on that amount. It is very helpful.

Abandon Your Cart

Another tip is to put something in your online shopping cart and then abandon it, more often than not; you will soon receive an email offering you a discount from that website. Always use coupon codes. They can be found by searching my site or Google. Be aware that many Black Friday deals start before the day after Thanksgiving. If you can spare some extra time on Thanksgiving Day (if you are lucky enough to be invited out), there will be many deals only on that day.

At the Grocery Store

In the supermarket look for turkeys that are FREE with purchase qualifications from your favorite store. In the dairy aisle get deals on butter, cheese, and dinner rolls. Baking supplies such as flour, sugar, baking chips, cake mixes and frosting, pie filling, nuts, spices, dried fruits, and oatmeal, will start showing up at lower prices too. Prior to Thanksgiving, the Sunday newspaper should be filled with coupons you can cut out to make your savings even sweeter. Want more coupon choices? Head over to