Monthly Archives: January 2016

Review of Frozen Butternut Squash Risotto Bought at Aldi

  
I picked this up the last time I shopped atAldi. You just heat it up on the stove or in the microwave. I was looking forward to trying it with pork chops for dinner. I made it last night and have mixed feelings about the risotto. 

If you’ve ever made risotto, you know how time consuming and labor intensive it can be. I loved this frozen shortcut of making risotto for a weeknight dinner. It took longer than the 5-7 minutes reported on the package, but was easy-peasy to do, ready in 15 minutes or less and the texture was perfect. It was also made with brown rice. 

However, the wrong spices were added to it. The brown sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg made it taste sweet, like a pumpkin pie. I wanted a savory side dish! I think those ingredients were added to make it palatable and attractive to someone who wouldn’t normally eat butternut squash. However, I don’t think those people would even buy this product. All of us were disappointed in the flavor. 

I won’t be buying this one again, because I don’t think I could doctor it up enough to cover those unwelcome flavors. But I would try another another flavor of frozen risotto from Aldi.

(Butternut Squash Risotto with my phallic pork chop. ūüėČ)

 

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo was the perfect dish for day 5 of being snowed in!

File Jan 26, 4 41 49 PM

This is how my pot of Damn Delicious’ Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo turned out.

I found Damn Delicious’ recipe for a lightened up version of Chicken Broccoli Alfredo over the weekend. We’ve been snowed in since Friday, but I had all the ingredients on hand (thankfully), so I made it for lunch today. Fabulous! The lighter sauce (all cream in other recipes but part milk and part chicken stock in this one) was just as flavorful and satisfying as¬†the the full fat version, without the food coma afterwards. The recipe says it’s 4 servings, but this could totally feed a family of 6, IMO. You want to bulk it up, add a salad and a loaf of crusty bread. This recipe is dinner party worthy!

You know me, I rarely follow a recipe to the “T”, and this was no exception:

  • I didn’t have rotini, so I used penne
  • Instead of 2 chicken breasts, I used 5, small boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Wegmans Basting Oil instead of olive oil
  • I don’t buy unsalted butter, so I used salted
  • And I added more Parmesan cheese (but I’m not willing to admit to how much more)

I highly recommend this dish and am adding it to our dinner rotation!

 

Thrifty Thursday: Creating Costumes from the Thrift Store

I know, I know! I’ve done a Thrifty Thursday post about the thrift store before. However, I recently was put in the position to make 3 Star Wars costumes for my son, and I couldn’t have done it without my favorite thrift store. Plus, I’m really proud of how¬†well I did under pressure. So, bear with me.

My son was in a Star Wars performance in December. His troupe performed three scenes from Episode IV: A New Hope: the trash compactor, Luke & Leah escaping Stormtroopers by swinging over an abyss, and fighting their way to the Millennium Falcon to escape the Death Star while watching Darth Vader kill Ben Kenobi. B had the rolls of Han Solo (my favorite character out of all 7 movies), a stormtrooper and Ben Kenobi.

After the first meeting when he told me he had 3 parts, I¬†said, “I was prepared to come up with one costume, but three? OK, we’ve got time to try and put these together.” B assured me that the teacher had all the costumes and we didn’t have to provide anything. “Are you sure,” I asked, to which he emphatically said, “Yes.”

Several weeks go by and the day before B’s performance was payday – my run errands, fill the gas tanks and buy groceries day. By mid-afternoon, I had a nagging feeling about the costumes.

Me: “Are you sure that your teacher will be providing¬†everything you need for all 3 of your costumes?”
B: “OH! I forgot to tell you after class last week! Yeah, he thought he had costumes for me but he doesn’t.”
Me (*Blink. Blink, blink. deep breath*): So, you’re telling me that I have to come up with costumes for Han Solo, a stormtrooper¬†and¬†Ben Kenobi with robe, with 21 hours left until your performance?!”
B (Eyes slowly getting as big as saucers as that reality sinks in.): No. No, Ma. It’s my fault. You don’t have to come up with anything! I’ll figure something out. Don’t worry.
Me: No. I can do this! Get in the car!

And off to my favorite thrift store we went! I bought 2 things – a white, mens, long-sleeved shirt and a brown, decorative, womens sweater. Total: $3. (I also found a Ralph Lauren blazer in B’s size, excellent condition, on the $1 rack! I had to buy it.) I found nothing that would work for Ben Kenobi’s hooded robe, but I did find white “Joey Buttafuoco” pants that were white with a black elastic waistband and black trim on the pockets. The white shirt would work as a top for both Han Solo and a stormtrooper and the pants were a little too big for B, so they’d be easy to take on and off over his jeans to switch between the 2 characters. After looking disgustedly at the white pants, however, B decided he didn’t think there’d be enough time for such a “complicated” wardrobe change and would stick to his jeans. ;o)

The white shirt just needed to be washed. I cut the arms off the womens¬†decorative brown sweater, turned it inside out and had Han Solo’s vest. An old cap gun holster was dug out of a toy bin in the bowels of the basement. Han Solo done!

Photo Jan 21, 9 45 40 PM

 

 

Party City was all out of Stormtrooper masks, but I found a free printable online and printed it out on card stock. I cut it out, cut out the eye holes and used clear packaging tape to attach the mask to B’s favorite sunglasses: they are white and wrap-around. Stormtrooper done!

Photo Jan 21, 9 47 31 PM

I walked around the house, looking for something to make Ben Kenobi’s robe and my eyes fell on the heavy, room-darkening curtain we hang at the back door. It’s very drafty at that door and the curtain keeps the cold air out and the heat in. Perfect! I went down to the basement and got the other curtain (bought them as a pair) and draped it over B to get inspiration. I realized I needed something to pinch off the hood of the robe, but the small rubber bands we had would likely break when he put the robe on. So, I used Hickies, these really cool fasteners that B has on his sneakers. Two of them were hooked together about a quarter of the way down. In addition to the robe, I offered to make B one of the felt Jedi uniforms to go under it, like I made for his Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party, but he declined, once again siting time constraints on costume changes. (Evidently Han Solo & Ben Kenobi were in the same scene!). He got one of his lightsabers from the garage and…Ben Kenobi done!

Photo Jan 21, 8 39 31 PM

Even if PartyCity had mens Star Wars costumes in stock (or if I’d known weeks earlier that I needed them and ordered them online), I would have spent $39.99 on the Han Solo costume, $4.99 for a stormtrooper mask (or $49.99 for the whole costume) and $19.99 for a robe. But I spent $3 at the thrift store. THAT, plus the fact I did it all in less than 2 hours, is what makes this a great Thrifty Thursday post. ;o)

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