Awesome Aldi Finds

Happy May, my friends. How are you holding up? Ohio is under a weird stay at home order but also manufacturing is allowed to resume and you can take your dog to the groomers but your children can’t go to school for the rest of the year… Anyway, manufacturing is allowed to resume if rules are followed so K has decided to bring back a few employees. He has masks and gloves for everyone and it will be 4 people working in a 23,000 sqft warehouse… so we’re alright.

On top of that, the disaster loan requirements state that you have to have your employees rehired by a certain date and your funds have to go to payroll/health insurance if you want to qualify for forgivingness and.. and.. and.. which doesn’t align with ANY of the stay at home orders but whatever. Our government doesn’t know up from down right now.

That train derailed rather quickly… That’s what happens when I’m stressed and angry and worried and exhausted. I know, I know- join the club.

I’m actually here to talk about my recent Aldi finds! Since we’re all instacart-ing or taking our one trip out of the house to the grocery store I thought it might be helpful and interesting to share these items:

London Fog Tea Latte (Simply Nature) This was SO yummy. I mixed mine with oat milk & microwaved it for an afternoon pick-me-up!

Moscato (Winking Owl) These are the best sweet wines from Aldi!

Red Pepper Hummas (Simply Nature) with Sea Salt Pita Chips (Specially Selected)

Caesar salad Kit (Little Salad Bar) The absolute best Caesar dressing ever.

Fresh Cut Salsa (Park Street Deli) Slightly sweet, very yummy, fresh salsa.

Thick Sliced Peppercorn Bacon (Appleton Farms) Inexpensive and delicious bacon!

Pork Egg Rolls (Fusia) A perfect snack. You gotta cook them in oven, though. The microwave makes them soggy.

Grain Bowls (Whole & Simple) They have several of these bowls… some breakfast foods, some more like lunch or dinner. They’re usually pretty healthy and full of protein.

Whipped Cream Cheese Spread (Happy Farms) It’s literally whipped Philadelphia c.c.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cups (Specially Selected) I think these might’ve been a Valentine’s Day special… *sigh*

Frozen California Rolls & Shrimp Rolls (Fusia) Listen… I know it’s weird buying frozen rolls from Aldi but these are actually pretty dang good for what they are. Lol

Aldi has great breads, vegetables, grains (including quinoa!), and frozen items. If you’ve never been in the store it can be a little overwhelming, but I’d urge you to check it out! (Take a quarter & some reusable bags.) This is NOT an Aldi sponsored post, lol.

Did I convince you to eat Aldi sushi? Lol. What are your favorite things to get from Aldi?? (I wish we had a Trader Joe’s but Aldi is closest thing we’ll ever have, ha.)

Quarantine Eats

I feel like “quarantine is about the become the new most hated buzz word… We can add it to the list with self care, girl boss, and spirit animal. But nonetheless, it’s an appropriate title to share use when sharing our dinners and lunches these past few weeks.

I’ve always cooked. I’ve always baked. That said, I’m definitely doing it MORE now that we’re under a stay home order. We still door dash and get take out, but we’ve been cooking a bunch and I figured I’d share some of the successful recipes with you.

These are all pretty dang simple. I’m not a complex chef. I’m a human with limited time and skill 😬

I keep a fairly stocked house so I’ll also let you know what “extra” ingredients I needed.

Eggroll in a Bowl. I only had to snag two things from the grocery store: coleslaw mix & sausage. I changed two things… I finely chopped the garlic (vs mincing it) and I did 1/4 c soy sauce and 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce. Also, I added a dash of sesame oil toward the end.

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Chicken. I bought chicken- I had everything else. The recipe I found online isn’t the same as what I did so here it is:

  • 4 lrg chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 3 lrg garlic cloves (I used garlic powder b/c I ran out of cloves)
  • 1 T crushed red pepper (optional– I skipped this)
  • 1 T lime juice.

Put your chicken in the crock pot, mix those other ingredients and for over the meat, cook on low for 4 hours, serve over rice or greens (for a salad). We did rice. SO good!

Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta. This is one of our FAVORITES. I bought chicken, peppers, and fajita seasoning from the store. Minor changes: I use all the fajita seasoning in the packet because yolo. Lol. Usually we use penne but this time we used linguine. I think it just depends on how starchy you want it.

We’ve also had pancakes (this kind), egg scrambles with mushrooms, peppers, spinach, etc. left over from dinner prep, stuffed peppers (I don’t go off a recipe), and sandwiches & salads.

I also made these Chocolate Chip Cookies and they were GREAT. The recipe came from the back of a Ghirardelli Grand Chips bag. I don’t even know how that ended up in my cupboard. I changed one thing (soften butter vs their suggested melted & cooled butter).

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 c unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 large egg & 1 egg yolk
  • 1 & 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 11 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375º. In medium bowl combin flour, baking soda, & salt. In mixing bowl beat butter and both sugars on medium for 2 minutes. Add egg & yolk & vanilla until well combined. Then add dry ingredients in thirds until just combined. Fold in chocolate. Drop scoops of dough on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until edges just brown. Let sit on sheet a minute or 2 and transfer to wire rack.

What have you been cooking during isolation? I have a ton of printed Pinterest recipes from ambitious meal prepping that I haven’t made. I want to tackle them and file them into win or fail during this time!

Meal Planning (or “How to Keep Most of Your Groceries From Going Bad”)

Hiii (*waves nervously*) Let’s kick this off with the confession that I am not a foodie or a chef or a professional meal planner. I’m a newbie who still let’s the milk go bad and forgets to use the bananas before they’re squishy and grey.

Alright. Now that my credentials are out of the way…

*In between starting this post and finish it I went through our pasta cabinet and threw out so much expired food. Pasta, graham crackers, panko breading. Not a few months expired… years. Please note: All of that was purchase pre-meal planning. #oops

Toward the end of last year I started meal planning for our family of two. At the start of 2017 I made the lax resolution to meal plan every week. Surprisingly, I’m actually carrying this out with moderate success. A fellow blogger (Carolann, I think?) suggested I talk about my methods. So I thought, ‘Sure! Why not?!’

To be frank, I’m not even 100% sure I do this right. Critique me if you feel so inclined. I have thick skin; I can handle it.

Step 1

Pick three meals for the week.

Three?? But Audrey! Surely you’ll starve!

Fear not, my friends. We utilize the luxury of takeout and/or dining out at least once a week. (*cough*still working on budgeting*cough*)

Honestly, though. On Fridays we’re usually out with my parents and on Sundays we typically have dinner at my grandparents. Mix in one night of take out and fill that fourth night with leftovers and we’ve got three days left for home cooked meals.

… perhaps I’m not so qualified to write this post.

Stick with me, friends. Pick three meals from anywhere. I usually search Pinterest. Sometimes it’s not a recipe meal- sometimes it’s just burgers and veggies on the grill. It doesn’t matter… it still counts.

Ok. Got your three meals? I’m going to play along here and pick three, too.

  1. One Pan Sausage & Veggies (+ egg noddles with butter #healthy)
  2. Chicken Fajita Pasta (so good!! if this isn’t one of your 3 you should change that)
  3. Steak & veggies on the grill (+ mashed red potatoes left over from meal #1)

Step 2

Make a grocery list with the ingredients you don’t have.

can we ignore the “egg noddles”? oops

Now double check your kitchen for the ingredients you might actually have, but you put on the list anyway because you weren’t sure and you were too lazy to go look in the cabinet to check. (Oh. Just me? ) Cross those ones off.

Step 3

Go grocery shopping. I prefer Sunday afternoons because for some reason it’s a ghost town at the market but everything is all stocked for the week.

Obviously if there’s an afternoon NASCAR race this gets bumped to Monday night (which becomes the takeout night).

Step 4

Prep stuff if you feel so inclined.

Often I do not.

This is a good time to figure out WHEN you’re eating your meals. I don’t like to keep asparagus or steak too long so we’ll have those on Monday or Tuesday. If we don’t plan to make something until the weekend or we get busy and have to skip a meal I throw the appropriate meat in the freezer.

Boom Bang Ba-Da-Done.

the chicken fajita pasta… seriously- SO good

Some amateur tips:

  • if you never go out to eat plan for four nights
  • if you have a super busy week aim for two nights and make enough for leftovers
  • this doesn’t include lunch… and if you eat leftovers for lunch, go with 4 meals
  • make that Chicken Fajita Pasta… you won’t regret it

Was that even helpful…? Hahaha. Honestly, I never meal planned before this year but now that I do it’s pretty easy to stick with. This is probably a good gateway to meal prepping, too, but I don’t wanna demand too much of myself…

So tell me… do you meal plan? If so, what am I doing wrong? 🙂 If you don’t plan does this make you want to…?

Holiday (or any day) Recipes link-up

Today I’m linking up real fast with Julie & Jacqui to share some quick, easy, smaller-portion recipes for those spending the holidays with a smaller crowd- think one to three people. I don’t usually do recipe posts, but these are go-to ones for me that come in handy when you’ve got some leftover ham or chicken and you’re hurting for a side dish.

Honey-Glazed Carrots

In a pan melt about 2 tablespoons of butter. Add a handful of baby carrots- essentially as many as you’ll want to eat because this doesn’t keep well. Drizzle honey over carrots. Sprinkle a small handful of brown sugar over carrots. Mix. Cook until carrots are soft, stirring occasionally (~15 min). Serve immediately.

. . .

Smashed Potatoes

This one comes from the talented Pioneer Woman herself. Salt the water & boil some red potatoes until they’re soft (~12 min). Only boil as many as you’ll eat… I typically consume two or three. Remove from water and place on an oil-drizzled cooking sheet. Smash the potatoes twice in a crisscross pattern, flattening them and making a mark/breaking the skin. Brush each potato with melted butter and sprinkle generously with kosher salt (and maybe add a seasoning of your choice- rosemary, thyme, etc.) and bake at 450 degree on the top rack for 20 minutes. Done!

. . .

Roasted Veggies

You can roast anything, guys. Here are two of my favs, both roasted at 425 degrees:
Cauliflower – Cut up some florets, toss on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil, sprinkle some thyme, season with salt and pepper, and stick them in the oven for 35 minutes. Pull ’em out, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and toss, then slide them back into the hotbox for 10 minutes.
Asparagus – Toss the stalks in some olive oil, teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce. Put some foil on a baking sheet, spread the asparagus out so it’s not stacked, sprinkle some garlic powder over it, and roast those puppies for 12 to 15 minutes. SO GOOD.

. . .

Viola! Super hard to mess up and super yummy to eat!

Checkout the link-up for other tasty recipes!

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Life as Louise & HelloFresh

Welp, it’s Monday. I try to be grateful for every single morning, but Mondays make it tough. Ya know?

A few weeks ago I won a free week of HelloFresh (which included the ‘Classic Box’ -three meals for two people). No one asked me to write a post. No one is giving me money. I make nofin’ off this. I just thought you might like to see how HelloFresh worked for two rural married folk who typically whip together a homemade meal two or three times a week, tops.

(All that said, I believe this code does credit my account & it gives you $40 off your first box. Regardless, I don’t care if you use it or not  🙂 I’m just gonna’ leave it here. The actual numerical code is: 222525E4CHCG )

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I’ll talk about each meal, then the pros and cons of this service! As far as difficulty goes, 1 is simple and 5 is near impossible.

Meal 1: Jamie’s Oozy Shrimp Risotto w/ Tomatoes and Chile

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Why I Picked It: We love shrimp! (K isn’t a huge fan of risotto, but I figured he’d be alright…)

Difficulty: 3 out of 5

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Results: Out of all three this was the most challenging one. (The website says it’s rated very difficult.) Still, it was pretty easy. I cooked it first because A) it told me to and B) I was nervous about the shrimp going bad. It was really, really good! The salad was kind of a miss (leafy greens, lemon juice, oil = meh) but the meal was great! I’m slow in the kitchen & it definitely took me longer than the estimated time, but everything turned out just right! (I intentionally left the chili pepper out, fyi.)

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(From here out I started getting lazy with pictures/K was running out of patience with me.)

Meal 2: Chipotle Rubbed Chicken Salad

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Why I Picked It: It sounded good & I’m a sucker anything avocado!

Difficulty: 2 out of 5

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Results: I am an old lady & spicy foods do not agree with me. I dug alllll the seeds out of the jalapeno & limited the adobo sauce. Didn’t matter- it still had a kick. Haha! Both K and I don’t care for beans, but overall this salad was yummy. It took me longer to prep than indicated, but I think that’s a theme with me. For having a lot of foods we don’t normally eat in it, this was a successful meal, too!

Meal 3: Crispy Chicken w/ Brown-Butter Corn & Cucumber Tomato Salad

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Why I Picked It: Why wouldn’t you pick it?! Crispy chicken & buttery corn- oh my!

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

...and the most unattractive food picture goes to.... me. sorry!
…and the most unattractive food picture goes toooo…. me. (sorry!)

Results: WINNER, WINNER- CHICKEN DINNER. (Er, um, no pun intended…?) By far our favorite meal! I’ve never coated chicken in sour cream but you can bet your behind that I’ll do it in the future! Also, they said to cook the corn in a separate pan, but I threw it in the pan that I used to brown the chicken because #LessDirtyDishes. And it was SO GOOD with bits of crispy breading from the chicken mixed throughout. K really, really loved the corn (which is good because he really, really hates cucumbers- haha)! My mouth is watering thinking about this meal!

. . .

Ok, so a quick list of pros & cons & opinions…

Pros: Everything you need is included (except oil olive for most recipes), the directions are simple & there are pictures (praise Jesus), & the food quality is pretty great! Also, while you can freeze some of the meals to make later on, it forces you to stay home & cook.

Cons: Well, it forces you to stay home and cook. (Ha, I kid.) It’s a little costly and I was nervous about the meat while in transit. We received ours in the middle of summer and, while the box was a little soggy & the cold pack thingys were starting to melt, everything was still cold and fresh.

Another pro is that you can skip your box for weeks at a time (like right now we’re currently suspended because I don’t grow money), and they have a handy app that lets you control your deliveries AND the food each week. (You pick three out of the six meals.) It also lets you rate your meals and look up other HelloFresh recipes.

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I haven’t checked it out, but they have a vegetarian box option & family boxes! You can also change the number of meals you get and the number of people eating them.

So in conclusion, we liked our free week. We decided that we’ll probably get HelloFresh one week per month or one week every other month- depends on what they’re serving up! I’m pretty excited to try out some of the other recipes!

Have you ever tried a meal service like this? Would you ever?

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