Food subscription services aren’t really in my budget, but I’ve been the beneficiary of some great coupons from a co-worker. This one just recently came across our radar, and I always like it when they publish their recipes so you can DIY if you wish.
Everything at IKEA is so neat. I wish this had more than two gears though – too many hills here to deal with.
Hopefully you either remembered to change your clocks, or all your clocks set themselves, because today is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. The good news for us is that the clock in the car that is impossible to set is now right again (we just leave it and it’s right half of the year).
None of the links in this post are affiliate links – they are just things I found interesting this week.
If somehow you haven’t heard about this, Aldi is a chain of discount grocery stores. They originated in Germany, and have brought their shopping strategy to the US. The stores are purposely small, with limited offerings in smaller categories than the big US chains. Most of the brands are their own private label. There are no frills – the stores are mostly warehouse style with items stacked in boxes or on basic metal racks. There are no staff roaming the aisles – they are all either at the cash registers or are unloading items. You bring your own bags, and bag your own items.
We’ve found Aldi a great way to stretch our food dollar. We had previously been doing that by couponing and leaving expensive treats (like good blue cheese, nuts and olives) off our list. But Aldi lets us have all that back, plus better pricing on many basic items.
If you google “what’s good at Aldi” you will be presented with pages and pages of bloggers views on what to buy there.
And of course I’m going to add in my top 5:
Cheese. Sliced, block, shredded or specialty. All good.
Flatbread. Better and cheaper than the name brand.
Produce. Especially 50 cent avocados and the multi-color peppers
Garlic Flatbread Pizza. It’s in the frozen section. And it rivals Papa Murphy’s Garlic Bread.
Eggplant Parmesan. Also in the frozen section. Comes in single serve or family size portions.
The good thing about waiting so long to shop at Aldi is they used to not take credit cards. But now they do.
There is one big trick though – you have to bring a quarter. You use it to unlock a shopping cart at the front of the store. You get it back when you lock your cart back in.
I can’t be trusted to keep a quarter in my wallet. What if the Cheez-Its start calling me from the candy machine when I’m at work?
For this dish I like to use veggie pasta (not spiralized veggie noodles – I do love those but here I’m referring to a dry pasta that contains vegetables in the ingredients. I can’t find the exact brand, but this spaghetti is close).
I boil a two-serving size amount of the noodles. We actually use a scale and match the nutrition information on the back of the package for this. Pasta, even with veggies in it, is high in carbs and that is a number with work diligently around for meals since we are a Type 2 Diabetes family. I’ve learned that if I make a whole box of spaghetti, we will eat a whole box of spaghetti, no matter what the suggested serving size is.
When the noodles are close to being done, I add in about a half package of frozen mixed vegetables to the pot and cook until they are tender (usually doesn’t take very long).
I use a measuring cup to remove about a cup of pasta water and then drain the rest of the water from the pasta and veggies, and return the pot to the stove. Turn the burner off – we are just using the residiual heat here (if you somehow have a stove that is instantaneously cool to the touch after turning it off, you might need low heat).
I add about 1/3 cup of good peanut butter to the noodle and vegetable mixture. By “good” I mean not full of sugar. By “about” I mean measuring peanut butter is ridiculously messy, so I just use a knife and carve out a blob that appears to be around 1/3 cup. Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce (we use low sodium) and half that amount of cider vinegar. Stir pretty vigorously to get the peanut butter melting and then add in that reserved pasta water to create a sauce. I like to add a good dash of red chili flake at this point because we like it spicy.
Keep stirring until the sauce is the correct consistency. If it’s too thick, you can add a little more water. If it’s too thin, you might consider being OK with it as the pasta will absorb some sauce as it sits. And it’s slurpy good fun to eat with a thin sauce, and next time you’ll be able to guess better on how much water to put back in.
I dish this out into bowls and add a sprinkle of peanuts on top before serving.
This dish is best served fresh – it kind of keeps, but the noodles nearly completely absorb the sauce so it will be dry if served as leftovers.
My mom is great seamstress. She makes clothes, some complete with matching doll outfits. Her quilts are just amazing.
Me? I never really got beyond the one-yard skirt with an elastic waistband. Although honestly, that pattern served me very well my first year in an adult job.
I’m more of a utility stitcher. As a short person, I’ve got a very good grasp of how to hem. And take in waistbands. But I know my limits (topstitching/zippers/buttonholes).
And I’m going to tell you something that will make anyone who sews for a hobby cringe. About three years ago I decided to rearrange the office/exercise room and I moved my sewing machine into the basement. Which of course means … I haven’t used my sewing machine in more than three years.
So when I saw this little project for sewing Pocket Pack Tissue Covers, I knew I had a decision to make. Drag the machine upstairs and set it all up, or do it by hand.
After looking at the pictures and the technique involved, I knew that I could attempt this one by hand. All of the stitching is hidden.
Is my stitching so crooked that the ends are uneven? Yup.
Did I check three times to make sure I had the right sides in where they were supposed to be but still somehow get the back on inside out? It’s like you know me 🙂 .
I really like this little craft. The measurements are easy, the stitching technique is super simple. It would be way faster and much straighter if I used a machine, and when I get brave enough to see if it’s in working order, I will definitely put this one on the top of my list. Until then, my little wonky version is going straight into my backpack to be used with pride!
I didn’t have a real solid plan for using my Silhouette Cameo when I bought it. I knew it would be a helpful tool for all my paper crafting, and it would be great boost for holiday crafting (banners, garlands, gift tags, cards).
Shadow Boxes, Shrinky-dink pet tags and Flatbread Pizza
While looking for a good way to display my collection of Westie pins, I found this amazing shadowbox craft.
Shrinky-dink plastic crafts are on my to do list; this one is cute and practical.
In an effort to thin down our home made pizza technique, we’ve been using flatbread as our crust. I was inspired by this recipe. I’ll admit I was a little dubious that the broccoli-on-a-pizza idea would hold up, but it is really good.
None of the links in this post are affiliate links – they are just things I found interesting this week.
I’ve mentioned that I didn’t realize the Silhouette Cameo could cut more than just silhouettes. I’ve posted a couple of projects that use the Print & Cut feature of the Silhouette Studio software, and I’m really hooked on the technique.
Suddenly last week I realized that the “printed” part of a print and cut could be anything, including photos. Why it too me so long, I’ll never know. But now it’s like another door of crafting just opened.
My first use of this trick is a garland for my back window. Mr. SuzerSpace and I ride bicycles outdoors for three seasons of the year (we don’t ride in Winter). I want Spring to come soon, so I’ve made a string of bicycles to dream.
This is a quick, light breakfast we like to make on weekends, especially when eggs are on sale.
For two servings:
Split a whole wheat muffin in half and toast. I’d say “English Muffin” but our favorite is the Whole Wheat British Muffin at Trader Joe’s.
While that’s toasting, I scramble two eggs in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. To stretch the eggs without adding calories/carbs, I add in water. You already know from reading my previous recipes that I’m an eye-ball cook. I’d guess it’s somewhere in the ¼ to 1/3 cup range. Mix this water in really, really, really well with a fork so that it won’t separate when cooked.
Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring between each one until the eggs are scrambled to the consistency you like. I do not like runny eggs, so I cook mine fairly dry. Don’t be tempted to just turn the microwave on for 2 minutes straight, as this will cause the eggs to explode across the top of the microwave oven.
Ask me how I know 🙂
The toaster usually pops before the eggs are done – I sprinkle shredded cheese onto each muffin immediately so it gets a little melty from the muffin heat.
When the eggs are done I distribute them somewhat evenly between the two muffins. Their heat will further melt the cheese. Top with a spoonful of really good salsa.
We eat these with forks and knives, usually with some fruit on the side. And coffee. Definitely coffee.
Batch cook to fill the freezer with ready to go meals
Quick, tasty lunches for work used to be a challenge.
I’d look for the best prices on frozen entrees, but they tended to either be good but expensive or cheap and disapppointing. And almost all of them seemed high in carbs and sodium.
Those cups of instant mac ‘n cheese seem tempting, but they also fall into the expensive and high sodium camp.
My solution is to do a batch cook on Sunday afternoon of one type of meal. Once it cools, part it out into 5 or 6 lunch-serving sized zip bags into the freezer. If you do this every other Sunday, and vary the meals you make, you end up with a variety of freezer entrees to choose from on days when dinner doesn’t yield nice leftovers. It’s also good in a pinch on a weeknight when you are starving and just don’t feel like cooking.
I don’t have a big deep-freeze. I just pack the bags flat to take up less room. And it isn’t really very time consuming – I have a couple of easy meals I make that don’t require much hands-on time, so I can craft while they cook.
And the math ends up as amazing – this box of maccaroni and cheese was 29 cents. To make it a more interesting meal I added lentils to the water as it was boiling before adding the noodles and then added a bit of a low-sodium taco season packet when I made the cheese sauce. With the addition of the lentils, this made six lunches.