No-Buy Update

 

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Well, I made it around a month. Not my best but… there were 3$ pints of strawberries that I just couldn’t deny myself. I also really wanted fresh dairy. So after thirty days of not buying groceries, I bought a few things. This no-buy isn’t firmly over, I’m still trying to work out of the meals and proteins I have frozen and my shelf stable items, but I’m running out of things like eggs and in my house… that just won’t do.

March was a pretty easy month to not be buying groceries. I had a hospitality suite at work for three days and lots of invites out to my family’s place. I also did a cooking class that sent me home with three+ days’ worth of food.

I think as I go forward my “no buy” will just be modified- if I need eggs or a fresh item, I’ll buy it, but I’m still working through frozen items and enjoying them. Being that it’s spring (sort of… it’s been snowing for hours as I type this) I’m also not going to deny myself things like salad greens or fresh burratta if I can get my hands on them.

So what did I make and eat during this time?

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Freezer Mushroom Risotto

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Easy Ramen

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Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

White bean dip and focaccia (post coming soon!)

Cauliflower rice and shrimp (at Mom’s, but post still coming soon!)

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Chicken Pesto Burgers with Rice

Vegan Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls (post coming soon!)

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Italiano Breakfast Bowls

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (post coming soon!)

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Lentil Ragout with Isreali Cous Cous

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Butternut Squash Risotto Nourish Bowl (gifted, affordable re-make coming soon!)

Baked Rigatoni Bolognese (post coming soon!)

…and lots of eggs, guacamole toast and overnight oats!

 

Strawberries were the straw that broke the camel’s back for this no-buy. I really wanted them and life is short. I also wanted lettuce, ground meat and fennel. I have everything but the ground meat now! The spare time that eating pre-made meals gave me allowed me to work on other things in life, work items, visit family more and even start baking bread!

Sephora Spring Sale!

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I got exciting mail yesterday… information about the spring Sephora sale! I’m not sure about you guys, but oftentimes in the spring I’m looking for long-wearing foundation, bronzer, products for beachy waves and glossy lips.

You know… the opposite of what I’m looking for in the winter!

I tend to purchase good products because if I find something works well, I will use it until I’m scraping out the bottle with a q-tip. To me, that’s better than purchasing three similar products and using half- so whether it’s a luxury brand or my favorite drug store item, if I like it and it’s on sale… I’ll probably buy it to stock up. This is also a great time to try something new!

With that in mind, here’s what’s on my wishlist for the Sephora VIB Spring Sale! Things don’t go on 10-15% off at Sephora very often and the 20% VIB Sale is a long, long way away if you need anything.

Beauty:

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NARS Bronzing Powder • NARS •  BECCA Backlight Filter Face Primer • Becca •  Buxom Full-On Lip Cream • Buxom •  stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow • Stila •  Marc Jacobs Beauty #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder •  Smashbox Spotlight Palette • Smashbox •  Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette • Anastasia Beverly Hills •  BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector® Poured Crème Highlighter • Becca •  Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup • Estee Lauder •

Hair:

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Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo Dark Tones • Moroccanoil • $10.50–26  Bumble and bumble Prêt-à-Powder • Bumble and Bumble • $13–27  Josie Maran Bohemian Waves Argan Hair Mist Texture Volume & Moisture • Sold Out  Living Proof  Prime Style Extender • Living Proof • $12–59

Skincare:

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St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse • St. Tropez Tanning Essentials • $32–42  SEPHORA COLLECTION Tinted Self-Tanning Body Mist • Sephora • $18  Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturizer • Origins • $27.50  tarte Maracuja Oil • Tarte • $16–48  Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream • Origins • $43–51.50  philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser • philosophy • $11–55

What’s on your wishlist?

Cheater Lasagna

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I love lasagna. I think pasta is one of life’s best luxuries so I try to enjoy it decently often. Is that weird?

I don’t care if it is.

I love to make baked pastas when I have friends over, or just to keep in the freezer for when I need a comforting meal. Lasagna and I used to have a love-hate relationship because honestly, it was a bit high maintenance! You have to make the sauce, make the béchamel, par-cook the noodles and assemble it… it was a “once in a blue moon” item rather than something I could enjoy on a weeknight with friends.

Enter this cheater lasagna. Instead of making your sauce, grab a couple jars of meat sauce. Instead of slaving over béchamel, grab a tub of ricotta. And instead of grabbing dried noodles and cooking them, grab fresh lasagna sheets, which are ready to go! This makes lasagna a ten minute assembly with about an hour of baking time- just enough time to enjoy a salad and a glass of wine with friends (or solo!).

Cheater Lasagna

$13.70 for ten or $1.37 per serving

1 package of lasagna sheets- $3.50

2 jars of Bolognese- $4.96

1 small tub of ricotta- $4.49

1 cup of shredded cheese- $0.75

Optional: 1 tablespoon pesto (mix it into the ricotta if you feel like it)

Start off by grabbing a baking dish- this could be a Pyrex one or a stoneware one like le Creuset. I’ve used both, and achieved similar results. I’ve linked some options in the “shop the post” section. Pre-heat your oven on bake at 400 degrees.  Open one of your jars of meat sauce and pour down a healthy layer- this makes sure your noodles don’t stick so make sure it’s a decent layer down there. Lay down a couple lasagna sheets, cutting them to size if necessary. Next, layer on your ricotta, and lay down more lasagna sheets.

Always go meat sauce-sheets-ricotta-sheets-meat sauce and so on. Once you’ve laid down your final sheets, even if you laid ricotta on top of it, put meat sauce to cover the whole situation. If you don’t, your ricotta will dry out and so will the underlying noodles. Next, sprinkle your shredded cheese on top, wrap with tin foil and pop into the oven for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and put it back in the oven for a final 20 minutes.

When you pull your lasagna out, let it sit to cool and set for 10-15 minutes. There’s nothing quite like being burned by molten lasagna.

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Shop the post:

Martha Stewart Collection Wire Trivet •
Kate Spade New York All In Good Taste Typographical Ampersand Trivet • Kate Spade •
H&M Metal Trivet • H&M •
Small Groove Marble Trivet • Muuto •
Williams Sonoma Nonstick Burger Spatula • Williams-Sonoma •
OXO Silicone Flexible Spatulas • OXO •
Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Fish Spatula •
MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check Stainless Steel Spatula • Mackenzie Childs •
Pyrex 13″ x 9″ Covered Baking Dish • Pyrex •
Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Rectangular Covered Casserole, Midnight Blue • Le Creuset •
Cuisinart CI1136-24CR Chefs Classic Enameled Cast Iron 14-Inch Roasting/Lasagna Pan Cardinal Red • Cuisinart •

What is your favorite pasta dish to make for a crowd?

Freezer Breakfast Bowls

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I hate the morning. Those that have lived with me, travelled with me, worked with me or even just tried to talk to me in the morning know this fact very well. I’m just not my most friendly in the morning, and my extreme morning productivity is really only born out of the internal rage I feel about needing to be out of bed before I feel ready to be.

For this reason, I try to have my breakfasts ready before I go to bed. Sometimes that means having a guacamole pack, bread and a hard-boiled egg or two ready to throw in my bag on my way to the office, and sometimes it means pulling a pre-made meal out of the freezer like my freezer egg wraps! Nothing makes morning rage worse than hanger. These easy italiano breakfast bowls are freezer-friendly and perfect for busy mornings.

Italiano Breakfast Bowls

$16.43 for ~12-13 bowls or $1.26 per serving

4  Potatoes- $2.24

1 tray of Italian sausage ~$9

8 eggs- $1.60

¼ cup of italiano cheese- $0.75

2 zucchini- $2.44

½ an onion- $0.40

Pantry staples: 1 tbs of tomato paste, hot sauce, Italian spices, olive oil, salt and pepper

Start by washing and chopping your potatoes into a medium sized chunk. Put them on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees until cooked through and crispy.

Once your potatoes are in the oven (just pull them out to cool when they’re done), it’s time to work on that Italian sausage. You just want to fry it up in a large pan until its cooked and finely crumbled, then remove it from the pan to a plate lined with paper towel to cool completely. I’ve said before, the trick to freezing breakfast items is to have everything completely cooled, then refrigerated for 2 hours, and then put in the freezer to freeze in order to avoid condensation ice. That ice will make your eggs rubbery and the entire meal watery upon defrosting and heating. AKA gross.

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Next, crack your eggs into a bowl, whisk and add your hot sauce and Italian cheese. Scramble cook them and remove to another plate to cool. Chop up your onions and zucchini, then place the onions to soften in a pan on the stove. Add Italian seasoning to your preference- once they’re softened then you can add in your zucchini and cook down about half way before adding your tomato paste and cooking it out while they finish cooking. (These pictures are of a batch where I used crushed tinned tomatoes and spaghetti freezer veggie mix… it was what I had around but I like the version I described in the ingredients list much better.) Then, put this mix in a bowl to cool.

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Once everything is nicely cool, take out 12 containers and split everything amongst the 12 containers. I tried to make mine look pretty for these pictures but honestly just split it up and put them in the fridge to cool for 2-3 hours and then pop them in the freezer until you are ready to eat one! Mine usually gets defrosted in my work bag for about an hour and then microwaved for 2-3 minutes.

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Shop the Post:

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Pyrex 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set with Colored Lids • Pyrex •
Anthropologie Copper Mixing Bowl • Anthropologie •
Martha Stewart Professional Tools Collection Stainless Steel Large Balloon Whisk •
Wire Head Prep Whisk • KitchenAid •
Ziploc® Ziploc Small Square Containers 4ct •
Ziploc® Ziploc To Go Variety Pack Containers 8ct •
Presto 6858 Slimline 16″ Skillet • Presto •
JA Henckels Zwilling Spirit Ceramic Nonstick 8″ & 10″ Skillet Set • Zwilling J.A. Henckels •
Black & Decker Family Sized Electric Skillet – Black • Black & Decker •

Do you have a favorite freezer breakfast? Or are you one of those people that loves the morning? Let me know in the comments!

What’s Worth the Money at MAC

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20170403_172240Hey guys!

I wanted to do a post about what I love from Mac, and what I think you could probably get for cheaper or elsewhere and get a similar result/product. Sometimes living well for less isn’t just about not buying things, sometimes it’s about being smart about what you do buy.

Check out my video and the links below for more information! I’m sorry the quality looks bad at the end! I SWEAR I wasn’t trying to obscure my identity, it was just by chance that the camera went out of focus right when I started talking crap. One day I’m going to get the hang of this.

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Shop the post

MAC ‘Fluidline’ Brow Gel – Deep Dark Brunette • M·A·C •

MAC ‘Sized To Go – Mini’ Prep & Prime Fix+ • M·A·C •

MAC ‘Sized To Go – Mini’ Strobe Cream • M·A·C •

MAC ‘Prep + Prime’ Natural Radiance Base • M·A·C •

MAC Cremesheen Lipstick • M·A·C •

MAC ‘Mineralize’ Skinfinish – Cheeky Bronze • M·A·C •

MAC ‘Prep + Prime’ Fix+ Finishing Mist • M·A·C •

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer • M·A·C •

MAC ‘Pro Longwear’ Paint Pot – Bare Study • M·A·C •

A Night with Knives- Knife Skills Course Review

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I’m a sucker for Italian food. I love eating it, I love making it… so when my mom invited me to go to a risotto making course put on by the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group last year, I was totally game. It was honestly an easy sell.

But when she started to insist that I take a Basic Knife Skills course put on by the Sorrentino’s Group, I was a little bit less psyched. A. My chopping was truly not that horrific. I’ve never sliced and diced myself and I cook a lot. B. I was unconvinced that it would be that fun… it seemed like a very academic course to be taking.

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I was wrong. I’m fully ok with admitting when I’m wrong, and this was one of those cases. Chef Jeff was our instructor, and what I thought was going to be a night of learning to chop better ended up being a night of learning how to make a proper marinara, tips for an authentic Bolognese, get more flavor out of my vegetables, cook the perfect chicken entrée, pick the best can of tomatoes and yes- I learned how to chop better. And enjoyed a gourmet meal, a couple glasses of wine, and a few hours of being the painfully slow chopper in the group.

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I didn’t anticipate what great value I was going to get out of this course, which was $90. Maybe it was a flaw in the online marketing for it, which simply said it was a basic knife skills class and “light meal”, along with a complementary chef’s knife. For starters, our group got a chef’s knife and a paring knife (which together sell for 50$ plus tax), and we seriously made so much food that I had three meals plus enough marinara to have friends over for dinner and those glasses of wine I mentioned. Chef Jeff was hands-on, engaged, and while he taught us how to properly use our knives he also passed on loads of tidbits that only someone experienced in the kitchen would know. He also filled the class with the type of humor and laughter that can diffuse even the most nervous of feelings.

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I don’t worry about chopping off my fingers anymore. Maybe I should, but the class built the confidence I needed to attempt to make finer cuts and the skills necessary to do it. Now my meals won’t just taste good- maybe they’ll even look good, too.

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Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group regularly hosts cooking classes, and they’re great to attend with your partner or a friend as well as solo. My family has taken the knife skills class, risotto making, pasta making, macaron making and pizza making classes. There’s a ton of regional courses that you can take as well, and they host seasonal courses (Christmas cookies, Mother’s Day Brunch how-to’s, etc) that fit your life.  Check out the upcoming course offerings at: https://www.sorrentinos.com/cooking-classes/

In accordance with recommendations on disclosing brand partnerships, I am not compensated or sponsored by Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group. They were blissfully unaware that I was a blogger, with Chef Jeff even asking at one point if I cook at home.