TKT: Thai Red Curry with Pork and Veggies ft. ALDI products

I finally went grocery shopping last week after a three-week hiatus and a massive, nose-wrinkling refrigerator cleanout. It was so bad, a tupperware had a fork still in it and I contemplated living with an incomplete utensil set and tossing the entire thing into an incinerator. I saved the fork and am convinced the tupperware was a portal to the upside down. I’m sure the mold had a heartbeat! Anyways…

With a tiny kitchen, tiny fridge, and tiny budget, it was time to hit up my local Aldi. When I was younger, I remember being really label conscious about everything, but now I am all for whipping up some kick-ass dishes on a dime. Aldi has really expanded their organic, gluten-free, and specialty food selection, so finessing some fancy shit has been an enjoyable challenge.

For some time, I have been eyeing their sauces ($1.99): Thai red and green curries, Indian korma and masala, and Chinese stir-fry. I already have my own stir-fry sauce recipe and I need to expand my palate for Indian food past “butter chicken,” so I went for the Thai red curry sauce. It did not disappoint.

I grabbed the mini peppers, baby carrots, garlic, onion, potatoes and pork chops from Aldi too. The peas came from an uncharacteristically brief trip to the Target across the street.

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The recipe on the bottle said to use a pound of chicken, and 1 1/2 cups of vegetables. I picked the pork chops because I like pork cubes in curry and I prepped way more than 1 1/2 cups. If you prefer curries more soupy, prep only a cup and a half. I packed at least 4 cups of vegetables into the curry and thought it was perfect.

Before going into how I made the curry, I just want to talk about the flavor profile of the sauce. Normal pre-made curry pastes or blocks are concentrated and a separate can of coconut milk is often added. The bottles at Aldi already have coconut milk/cream added. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the red curry, because I’ve only had yellow or brown curry before. From the bottle:

“A medium spiced sauce based on red chili puree with lemon grass, ginger, garlic, garam masala, cumin, fenugreek and coriander. Rich and creamy from coconut crème with a touch of sweetness.”

This sauce definitely has a strong citrus flavor and bright acidity because of the lemongrass and vinegar. Medium spicy is definitely accurate, but its a plesant slow heat that builds the more you keep eating. It was definitely more citrusy than my personal taste, so I tampered mine and made it saltier using a Filipino condiment called patis. It’s made from the liquification of salted fermented fish. Sounds weird, but it’s similar to soy sauce and other southeast Asian countries have their own versions too.

After how well this turned out, I’m looking forward to trying all the other sauces. If you want to skip the scenic route, jump to the end of the post for the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 c. diced potatoes
  • 1 c. diced carrots
  • 1 c. thinly sliced peppers
  • 1 c. peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 lb. pork, thin cut chops
  • 1 bottle Aldi Thai Red Curry Sauce
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fermented fish sauce (optional)

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So what I did for pretty blog pic purposes was prep and arrange the ingredients in the order I’m adding them to the skillet.

  1. Red chopping board: Pressed garlic and minced onions
  2. Green chopping board: Cubed meat
  3. Blue bowls: Diced potatoes and carrots
  4. Pink bowls: Peas and julienne sweet peppers

NOTE: After making this dish, I’ve decided that the potatoes and carrots (being root hard veggies) should either be added before the meat, or par-boiled/steamed to soften them a bit. I realized my mistake and had to compensate by closely monitoring the pork  – which was thinly cut – from overcooking and being tough/chewy and praying the potatoes or carrots wouldn’t be crunchy. The official recipe below will reflect the ammended directions.

First, I poured 2 tbsp. of coconut oil to to a skillet on medium-high heat, added the  garlic and onion and sauteed until fragrant.

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Then added the pork,  potatoes, and carrots. I used salt and pepper here to season the meat and cooked it until the pork looked like it was halfway done.

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I unfortunately waited too long and the pork looked completely white on the outside, in hindsight, continue wiht the next step when the pork still looks pink.

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Then add the full bottle of sauce, peas and peppers. Mix together and cover.

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Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. This is a great opportunity to cook rice to accompany the meal.

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Check to see if the carrots and peas are tender before removing from heat.

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Plate over rice and serve. OPTIONAL: Add salt, fish sauce, or soy sauce to taste.

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Thai Red Curry with Pork and Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A globally-inspired, quick and hearty meal


Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 c. diced potatoes
  • 1 c. diced carrots
  • 1 c. thinly sliced peppers
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 lb. pork, thin center-cut chops
  • 1 bottle Aldi Thai Red Curry Sauce
  • Coconut Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Fermented fish sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Pour 2 tbsp. of coconut oil to to a skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and sautee until fragrant.
  2. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add cubed pork, salt and pepper. Sautee until almost cooked.
  4. While there is still pink in the middle of the pork, add the full bottle of sauce, peas and peppers. Mix together and cover.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. This is a great opportunity to cook rice to accompany the meal.
  6. Check to see if the carrots and peas are tender before removing from heat
  7. Plate over rice and serve. OPTIONAL: Add salt, fish sauce, or soy sauce to taste.

NOTES

  • You can substitute differeent vegetables, just add to the skillet in the order they need to be cooked. I would keep the amount to 4 cups.
  • You can substitute chicken, tofu, or just use vegetables. When cooking protein, add the sauce to the mixture before it is fully cooked to prevent it from being over-cooked.
  • OPTIONAL: Garnish with lime wedge and/or cilantro.

Women's cropped brown leather bomber jacket

Thrift Haul: September 2016

It’s been a week into Fall and I’m thoroughly enjoying the transition into cooler weather. It’s time for boots…but too early to bust out layers of puffer jackets, ya know? Over the weekend, I hit up my neighborhood Village Discount  during their half-off everything sale with an hour to kill and budget of $20 to buy some cute stuff for fall. I walked out with 5 items and had $5 left over.

Roll over each photo for the description to pop up! 

COZY Long cardigan, $3.00
(retail $54.95)

  • Cardigans have been a staple in my cavernous closet since, like 2001, but patterned long cardis are expensive or not neutral enough to go with stuff I already have. I found this cardigan haphazardly draped over a rack by the mirror and decided to pick it up and try it on. It’s acrylic, but there was hardly any pilling around the arms or sides. And the seams are perfectly aligned with minimal fraying where the yarn colors were switched. My biggest pet-peeve with striped clothing is when they don’t line up at seams. The neutral, muted color palate and simple fair-aisle pattern also sealed the deal.

FLORAL Long-sleeve tee, $2.00
(retail $18.00)

  • Even when I lived in the burbs, I hardly shopped at Kohl’s. So Sonoma is a brand I’m not entirely familiar with. I also don’t have a lot of long-sleeve shirts, so this shirt’s great, though because I have a thing for florals. Florals and cardigans.

CROPPED faux leather jacket, $3.00
(retail $45.00)

  • Okay, so yes. I know that Liz Lange is totes maternity wear. And my eggo is not preggo. But, truth be told, maternity cut clothing works for my body type. Cue sad-face emoji. In addition to being short, I am incredibly short-waisted and the cropped clothing and empire waist lets me wear short jacket hems without it cutting me at my widest.

LEATHER jacket, $6.00
(resell market ~$74.00)

  • I must confess, when I saw this buttery-soft jacket, the price tag was obscuring the label. I saw “HUGO B…” and then thought, “OMG it’s Hugo m*thaf*ckin’ Boss!” I tried it on. It fit. The shoulder pads  gave me a split-second puase. But bought it anyways. AND THEN, when I went to take the tag off while taking pictures of my haul…I saw Buscati. And I was like, “Who the eff is Hugo Buscati?” After an unreasonably difficult Google search, I’ll tell you who this Italian sounding mofo is…a brand created and trademarked by Victoria Secret. LOL. In retrospect, the style and proportions of the jacket are reminiscent of 90’s glamazon catwalkers. And I definitely wouldn’t have bought it. But it’s mine now, and I’ll figure it out.

SMOKING slippers, $1.00
(retail $37.99)

  • I have been really slow getting onboard the smoking slipper loafer bandwagon. When a women’s cut surfaced a few years ago, I tried it and hated how it looked on my foot. But I also thought the same thing about pointy toe heels and flats, and now they are also a closet staple. On a whim, I tried these on and was pleasantly surprised. Suede, comfortably broken in, and ONE DOLLAR? Sold. What I also like about these shoes is the slight wedge, which eases foot and knee pain for this old broad. Thanks Easy Spirit! Now that I am firmly entrenched in my mid-thirties, I am incredibly comfortable admitting that I have a pair.

I’m super stoked (and impressed with myself) that I scored some great finds this month! I spent $15.00 and got over $229.00 worth of clothing. The next half-price sale is October 10. Maybe I can cobble together a Halloween costume?

Check out my $50 18-piece thrift haul from Labor Day!  

Thirsty Thursday: Lemon Ginger Toddy

Last week, at Southport Grocery & Cafe, I spotted some fancy honey in the shelves. They always have great local and artisanal products, and I like to buy something whenever I stop in for a bite. What I thought was seasonal allergies turned into a full-blown cold when the coughing set in and I was looking for a little relief.

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The weather has barely turned from summer to fall and I already have the sniffles?! But it’s cool, because on this rainy fall evening, I decideded to crack open my fancy, locally-sourced Lemon Ginger Honey by senTEAmental moods, a Chicago based tea company and make a hot toddy.

 “Fresh organic ginger, juiced lemons and all natural raw honey blended to create an ultra smooth delicious topping. Use it alone or with tea to soothe irritated throats.” – product description

“Alone or with tea…” or… with whiskey? Sounds like a good investment to me!

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While the water was heating up in the kettle, I opened up the jar and the sweet and spicy aroma immediately wafted through the kitchen. This sauce (?) is definitely packed with lemon and ginger. You can’t really see lemon rind, tiny pieces of lemon seeds and ginger pieces suspended in the jar until you’ve mixed it into the liquid and it’s melted. I’ve been keeping the jar at room-temp, so when I stirred it up, it was defintiely more liquidy than honey.

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Since I’m a lightweight, all I did was add 1.5 oz of whiskey (I used Jack Daniels Honey) to 10 oz of water and added the honey to taste. (about 2 tbsp.)

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I bough this mug in 2010 after seeing my first Sketch Review. At the time, I lived in the burbs and was trying to go into marketing. Improv classes had never crossed my mind. 

Easy Peasy Lemon (Ginger) Squeezy!

The sauce is also “Great on vegetables, toast, fish and other foods!” So I’m going to sip on this drink while I peruse pinterest for recipes.

Night!

Here’s another hot toddy recipe from my blog

 

TKT: Chipotle Chicken Sliders

There’s a menu item at the Second City where I work as a server that is only available in the UP Comedy Club and the E.T.C. stage. They are grilled chicken sliders. What makes these tiny burgers so GD tasty are sliced roasted tomatoes. These crisp, sweet and savory suckers take hours to prepare before the doors open. But if we’re lucky, there are always a few that are not presentation-worthy that we can snack on before the night begins.

Who knew oven roasted tomatoes and chipotle mayo were so easy to make and really punch up chicken sandwiches? I was craving some the other day, so I figured I’d try roasting tomatoes, whipping up some chipotle mayo and creating my own version of these sliders. For time sake, I pulled the tomatoes out sooner than I liked at 2 hours, but if I roasted them another hour – they would be dehydrated enough for the perfect amount of crunch. I also was a little too liberal with the chipotle chiles for my delicate tastebuds, so I kept adding sour cream until my mayo turned into dressing. Other than those two hiccups, these sliders turned out really well!

Roasted Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees

Slice the tomatoes about a 1/4 inch thick

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Place  tomato slices into a bowl and add olive oil and 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning and mix together

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Line a baking sheet with parchament paper and place a single layer of tomatos on sheet. Sprinkle with remaining tbsp. of Italian seasoning and sprinkle salt and pepper.

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Place in top rack of the oven and roast for 3 hours

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Chipotle Mayo

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients  except chipotle chiles into a blender or food processor. Open the can of chilies and take 3 chilies out of the can and add to the ingredients. Also add a spoonful of adobo sauce to the mix. Blend.

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Scoop the sauce into an airtight conainer and refrigerate. It should keep for a week.

Slider Fixins’

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. thin-sliced chicken breast
  • 1 pkg. slider buns

DIRECTIONS

Cut the breasts into three pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Pan fry each piece. Thin cut chicken breasts cook up quickly and provide a good meat to bun ratio for sliders.

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Put together the sliders and add lettuce or other toppings like bacon or slaw!

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Chipotle Chicken Sliders

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A juicy, savory sandwich with sweet roasted tomatoes and spicy mayo


Ingredients

  • 3 roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 lb. thin-sliced chicken breast
  • 1 pkg. slider buns
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the tomatoes about a 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Place  tomato slices into a bowl and add olive oil and 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning and mix together.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchament paper and place a single layer of tomatos on sheet. Sprinkle with remaining tbsp. of Italian seasoning and sprinkle salt and pepper.
  5. Place in top rack of the oven and roast for 3 hours.
  6. Place mayo, sour cream, paprika and garlic salt into a blender or food processor. Open the can of chilies and take 3 chilies out of the can and add to the ingredients. Also add a spoonful of adobo sauce to the mix. Blend.
  7. Cut the breasts into three pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pan fry each piece.
  9. Assemble the sliders.

NOTES

  • You can add more toppings, like cheese, bacon, or even cole slaw.
  • The chipotle mayo should keep for about a week if refrigerated.

TKT: White Bean & Kale Soup

A couple weeks ago, I went to lunch with my friend Samantha and we checked out Lady Gregory in Andersonville. My teeth were sore and achy from a recent braces adjustment so soup was looking like the only edible thing on the menu. The Cavelo Nero piqued my interest.

Cavalo Nero is Italian for lacinato kale, otherwise known as dinosaur kale. To me, kale is a garnish. I’d rather eat spinach. Or pizza. Or ice-cream. But this soup was tasty and delicious enough for me to attempt to make it at home. It also is super healthy and can be made vegan or vegetarian. But I ain’t about that life, so I used chicken broth.

After poking around Pinterest, I found three recipes I used as inspiration for my version.

The White Bean and Kale soup on Culinaryhill.com provided the base of my recipe. Meggan’s version gave me a general idea of basic ingredients and how to assemble the soup. This version also used mashed beans in order to thicken the soup without the use of a roux.

Forkknifeswoon.com’s Lemony Kale and White Bean soup gave me ideas for the types of herbs and spices I could use to add flavor to the base. Sidebar: what is up with the price of lemons and avocados right now? A regular size lemon was $1.25 the last time I went to the grocery store and a haas avocado is $1.99!

And finally, I came across a recipe for White Bean Puttanesca at andiemitchell.com. This recipe gave me a sense of other vegetables and ingredients that could pair well with the kale and beans.

Before I delve into the details, I’m just going to say that even though this soup turned out really flavorful and delicious, it is hella cruciferous…translation: bloat and gas city, baby. Maybe if I knew more about kale and trendy health food in general, I would have known that 1 cup of torn kale leaves was enough for the soup, and not “enhance” the recipe by adding 3 more cups. The recipe has been adjusted accordingly, lol.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 cans canelli beans (other beans work as well), drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can Tomato, Okra, Corn medley (found at Aldi) or can mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup kale, torn
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 boullion cube
  • garlic bread

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DIRECTIONS:

Dice the onion.

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Take one can of beans, mash it and set aside.

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Tear and rinse the kale pieces. Open the canned pantry items.

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Heat the olive oil into the bottom of a stock pot and add the onions. Cook until almost translucent. Add the butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until the onions have browned.

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Add the broth, one can of water, boullion cube, mashed beans, and canned vegetables.

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Bring to a boil and stir in the kale.

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Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Prepare and bake the garlic bread. Serve soup with garlic or any crusty bread.

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White Bean & Kale Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy, meatless option, full of protien and fiber...if you're into stuff like that.


Ingredients

  • 2 cans chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 cans canelli beans (other beans work as well), drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can Tomato, Okra, Corn medley (found at Aldi) or can mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup kale, torn
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 boullion cube
  • garlic bread

Directions

  1. Dice the onion.
  2. Take one can of beans, mash it and set aside.
  3. Tear and rinse the kale pieces. Open the canned pantry items.
  4. Heat the olive oil into the bottom of a stock pot and add the onions. Cook until almost translucent.
  5. Add the butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until the onions have browned.
  6. Add the broth, one can of water, boullion cube, mashed beans, and canned vegetables.
  7. Bring to a boil and stir in the kale.
  8. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Prepare and bake the garlic bread.
  10. Serve soup with garlic or any crusty bread.

NOTES


Thirsty Thursday: Coco Lime Spritzer

A couple weeks ago, I spent the afternoon at the Randolph Street Market. Most everything is entirely out of my price range, but it’s a great place to peruse some vintage merch and find some really cool knick knacks. By the food trucks was a promotional tent for White Claw Hard Seltzer. I recently hopped onto the carbonated water trend. I don’t know how or why it happened, but soda water with a splash of lime has been tasting pretty damn refreshing lately. I’m not obsessed with la croix  – yet – but White Claw tasted really good! Their rep had mentioned that they could be found at Target and other grocery stores. Fast forward a few days later and I saw Truly Spiked & Sparkling at the grocery store in a variety pack. Did I remember the correct brand from Randolph Street? Clearly, I didn’t. But I decided to impulse buy this 12 pk with three flavors: Pomogranate, Grapefruit and Pomelo, and Colima Lime ($8.99).  It’s also just 100 calories, 5% abv and 2 grams of carbs!

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I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with cocktail that weren’t overly-boozy and here is the first one! Alcohol-infused fruit is good (and good for you?)…right? RIGHT! So at the grocery store, I picked up some pre-cut pineapple. I cut it into smaller chunks and transferred it into a jar full of Malibu Coconut Rum.

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I let the fruit soak for a few hours before assembling the drink.

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Just toss the pineapple chunks and about an ounce of the infused Malibu rum into a glass. Add ice and fill to the top with the Colima Lime Spiked & Sparkling Seltzer.

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This slightly sweet and über refreshing drink pairs great with spicy food, like chipotle chicken  with roasted tomato sliders. Pop a chunk of pineapple in your mouth between bites fore a sweet palate cleanser.

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BOTTOMS UP!

Coco Lime Spritzer

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A sweet, bubbly, and refreshing cocktail


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • 1 8 oz Malibu, or any other coconut flavored rum
  • 1 12 oz can of Lime flavored Truly Spiked & Sparkling Hard Seltzer
  • Ice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut pineapple into 1/2 in. chunks and place in a container.
  2. Fill container with Malibu or coconut rum and seal. Place in a sunny location or you can also refrigerate for a few hours.
  3. Add desired amount of pineapple chunks to a glass. I used a rocks glass.
  4. Add an ounce of the infused rum to the glass.
  5. Add ice and fill to the top of glass with Spiked Seltzer.

DIY: No Sew Clutter Covers

When I moved to Chicago in 2014, I had to fit about 800 sq. feet of furniture and belongings into roughly 450 sq. feet. My galley kitchen seriously lacks counter space, so I IKEA hacked two lack side tables  I already owned and other hardware into a kitchen island. The tutorial for that DIY project is one of my first blog posts.

Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island

If you went to Ikea now and bought everything, it would be $45

Over the years, the cart has become a bit of an eyesore – overwhelmed with pantry items and kitchen gadgets.

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I bought an extra damaged Lack table a few months later and used it to make another shelf.

Lately, I’ve been on a purge and organize kick and figured out a super-simple way to cover the clutter using tension rods, safety pins, and dinner napkins.

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Tension rods are the shit. I have used them all over my apartment to create vertical space, hang decorations, and organize belongings. I usually buy tension rods at my local Target, but the length I needed (18″-28″) had been out of stock for sometime. Luckily, I found the length I needed at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a few dollars less.

In my many trips to Target hoping to find the tension rods I needed, I also scoped out their home textile section. Although I like sewing things, I guesstimated that dinner napkins would have the same dimensions as the openings on my kitchen island. The plus-side to this is that I didn’t have to cut fabric and the edges were already hemmed and finished! These dinner napkins matched the color scheme  of my kitchen (turquoise and red) and provided a colorful ombré effect.

After measuring the height of the opening, I folded the napkin over and pinned it about 1.5 inches from the edge. Using the pattern on the napkins as a guide, I pinned across every 2-3 inches to create an enclosed tube for the rod to fit through. I repeated it for all four of the napkins and ironed out the creases.

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The last step was adjusting the length of the rods to about half an inch past the desired length to create enough tension for the spring to keep the rod in place.

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Here are the rods in place before I hung the napkins on them.

Then I just threaded the rod through the napkin and hung the rods/napkins up in each of the exposed sides of the cart. I can either lift the flap up to grab something, or push it to the side to see more.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, or want more options when it comes to the look of the covers, buying the fabric and sewing a straight seam across is also an easy and simple option. It may also be a little more cost-effective if you find a good deal on fabric. By using safety pins, I also retain the ability to wash them and reuse them as actual dinner napkins if I ever feel like changing the fabric in the future.

All in all, this DIY cost about $28. I bought four tension rods at $4.99/each and the dinner napkins cost $6.08 for a set of four.

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I bought the dishtowel from Crate & Barrel. The plastic bag holder and crochet dish rags are both handmade. Tutorials are in the works.

 

TKT: Fresh Tomato Pasta w/Shrimp & Asparagus

Thank you, Martha Stewart, for putting together a dummy-proof recipe that’s versatile and yummy! It’s time for another Tiny Kitchen Tutorial…

As a server at the Second City, the catered events leftovers are LEGIT. A couple weeks ago, they hosted an event that had some leftover marinated veggie trays. I’m talkin’ asparagus. I’m talkin’ roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. I’m talkin’ about the components for a bomb-ass primavera pasta…that got thrown away before I could wrap some up to take home. Yearning for what could have been led me to just sucking it up and buying the ingredients and doing a little research to make this pasta a pastability. See what I did there? What’s that? Shut up and just get on with the recipe? You got it.

What’s great about this recipe is that you can cook the tomato and herb pasta separately from what you put on top. I had a hankering for shrimp and asparagus. But you could easily switch it up with balsamic chicken and mushrooms or  lemon chicken with capers. I made just enough shrimp and asparagus for two servings. There is still pasta left in the fridge and will probably cook up some chicken to eat with the rest of it.

I also got to break in my newest kitchen gadget, one of those rotary cheese graters you see at Italian restaurants, and it is EVERYTHING. I impulse bought mine at Marshalls for five bucks, but it’s also on Amazon.

Keep reading to see the food-porn, but if you want to skip the foreplay, then scroll to the bottom for the printable recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. tomatoes at room temperature, preferably plum
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for cooking and drizzling
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning to taste (optional)
  • Grated parmesan (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Start boiling water for the pasta and add salt to taste. Cook pasta according to directions.
Chop up the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

Fresh Tomato Pasta v1-1

Mix in a bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. By the way, how cute are these mixing bowls? I only have two to eat out of that I am deathly afraid of breaking because they are so pretty, so when I saw these blue ones and salmon colored ones at Target on sale, I had to buy them. Thank God all the college kids didn’t snap these up. I bought 2 sets for, like $2/each. I will be cooking with them as well as eating cereal and ice-cream out of them too.

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Cut the asparagus stalks to 1.5-2 inch pieces and set aside. Prepare the shrimp. I just defrost frozen raw shrimp and take off the tails. If the shrimp is fresh, peel and devein. Set aside. Add 1 tbsp. oil to a heated skillet and add the asparagus. I used to work for a chef that made a shrimp diavolo pasta that was awesome, but guests would complain that he left the tails on. Don’t get that guy started on how much flavor is wasted when you don’t cook the shells! For this particular tutorial, I took the tail shell off. But next time, I’ll leave them on.

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After a few minutes, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done.  Shrimp cooks up fast and can be prone to being overcooked and rubbery. I will spend the next few minutes watching the shrimp until it just turns from translucent to opaque and have it pink up a little bit before taking it off the heat. The shrimp will keep cooking in the residual heat, and won’t get rubbery or shrink up. Optional: Add lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning.

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Hopefully, the water has started to boil and the pasta is close to al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Fold in the tomato mixture.

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Plate the pasta and add the shrimp/asparagus mixture on top.

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Add grated parmesan  and enjoy 🙂

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Fresh Tomato Pasta w/Shrimp and Asparagus

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light tomato based dish with endless pastabilities


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. tomatoes at room temperature, preferably plum
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for cooking and drizzling
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon zest to taste (optional)
  • Grated parmesan (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start boiling water for the pasta and add salt to taste. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Chop up the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. Mix in a bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Cut the asparagus stalks to 1.5-2 inch pieces and set aside.
  4. Prepare the shrimp. I just defrost frozen raw shrimp and take off the tails. If the shrimp is fresh, peel and devein. Set aside.
  5. Add 1 tbsp. oil to a heated skillet and add the asparagus.
  6. After a few minutes, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done. Optional: add lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning.
  7. Hopefully, the water has started to boil and the pasta is close to al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  8. Fold in the tomato mixture.
  9. Plate the pasta and add the lemon/asparagus mixture on top. Add grated parmesan on top and enjoy 🙂

NOTES

  • The pasta mix should keep in the refrigerator for a few days if you want to reheat it with new toppings. It also tastes good as a cold pasta salad!
  • This recipe can be easily divided or doubled based on how many you’re trying to feed.
  • CREDIT:http://www.marthastewart.com/904229/pasta-fresh-tomato-sauce

Almost Holding Hands Q&A with Brittany Flynn

Part of the reason I wanted to start a blog back up was to interview and plug all the awesome women I have met over the years who are doing incredible things as writers, performers, entrepreneurs, comedians, humanitarians, well… you get the gist.

And what a happy coincidence that my friend and former co-worker, Brittany Flynn, has a show opening tonight at the Second City’s Beat Lounge. Flynn, an Uptown resident and Vermont-native, has been slinging drinks and pouring beers in Chicago for four years. When she’s not bartending, crafting or throwing dinner parties, she’s half of musical duo, Evan and Mary Jane. If you’re a fan of feel good, moderately depraved, adult pop comedy music and sentimental beautifully harmonized covers, then stop what you’re doing and buy tickets to their show now!

From she and Evan Mill’s first drunken karaoke duet to now, they have  spent the past couple years performing original songs and covers around the city. You may have caught brief three-song sets at variety shows, showcases, opening for other improv groups, or their run as half of Hey Peter, Bye Peter: A Funny-Ass Rock Show at the Annoyance last April. Almost Holding Hands is their first solo show and opportunity to really showcase their musical talent and comedic writing skills. Whenever I need a good laugh, I dig through the cloud to find my 45 second snippet of these two singing a mash-up of Milkshake by Kelis and My Neck, My Back by Khia. It’s EVERYTHING.

And if my endorsement means nothing to you, it’s completely understandable. But when it makes the RedEye’s list of comedy shows to see this weekend, I mean… c’mon. A show about two overcommitted best friends who are killing the platonic friendship game? Relationship Goals, amirite?

And if I, nor the RedEye, still don’t have you entirely convinced, Brittany just has this to say about why you should check it out.

“Hot performers. Sexy music. Charlie Kaplan on the keys. Evan and I both worked really hard on this show. We spent a lot of time together. Like, a lot. And neither of us murdered the other one, so it was a victory. I love this show.”

Sounds like good advice! Care to share any other wisdom nuggets?

Q: What is something you like to do in the city that is inexpensive?

“Go to all of the parks! There are so many and most of them have beautiful fountains and slides in them! Also, did I mention you can eat all of the food???”

Q: You have a rare night free and $50 to spend. Where are your go-to places for cheap drinks/eats in the city and what do you order?

“The Annoyance Theater. Mick and Jen are f-ing great. Every person who works there is so supportive and fun and stupid and it’s an incredible place to make and keep friends. Also, that bartender Evan is hot.

Also, on Mondays, Fish Bar does an industry night and us industry kids like to hit them up.”

Q: What is the coolest thing you own that was $20 or less?

“I am a collector of weird free crap, so it’s hard to say. I’d go with the clothespin doll my friend Hunter made of me, the Elvis wiener dog I found on the street, or my Bernie Sanders action figure. Or Shelby Pig! She’s a pocket sized pig I carry around and take pictures of living her life.”

Q: What is the weirdest compliment you ever received?

“That was such a great song! You should send it to someone famous to sing!”

Q: What are your thoughts about the state of women in comedy?

“The world is a scary place for women and the ones who can stand up in it and throw it back in your face and make you laugh; you’re champions.”

Q: If 30-something you could give 20-something you any advice, what would it be?

“You’re the most important person in your own life, but other people are just looking for a little love too, so take care of yourself and give the world back some love.”

Q: What do you want for Christmas?

“A bedframe. Better health insurance. Lots of money. A boat…how long can I make this list? I’m very greeeedy.”

Yeesh. I’ll work on the boat thing, but how about I come to opening night?
I’ll be there at 9 p.m., Friday September 9 at the Beat Lounge,  230 W. North Avenue – 2nd Floor. Tickets are $13 and the show runs every Friday night until September 30.

 

layered gold necklace

Thrift Haul: Labor Day 2016

I celebrated Labor Day this year spending my cash at the Village Discount in Andersonville…and it was hella worth it. This store has half-price sales on the reg, and with a keen eye, elbow grease and patience, there are some excellent deals out there.

Since moving to Chicago, my thrifting game has tightened up quite a bit. I used to buy things with perceived “minor” imperfections like loose threads, pilling, stains, wonky fit, cheap material or embellishments because it was, like, two dollars.  Or I would find something high-end in decent shape and just buy it for the sake of being a label whore. Oh. And it was, like…two dollars. OR…just because it was like, 10 things for two dollars.

Though I will spend hours trying on anything and everything that remotely strikes my fancy, I exercise much more discretion when it comes to what I actually buy. That being said, I bought: two shirts, two blouses, a button-up flannel, a sweater, two cardigans, two skirts, a dress, a blazer, two coats, two necklaces, and a pair of shoes for $55. Whoa! I spent too much money at a thrift store, you say? Well, it would have been $110 if I hadn’t gone during the half-price sale. So I actually saved $55. (Yes. My rationalization game is very loosey-goosey.)

Behold! The 18 items I found at a thrift store that are totally practical, wearable, and even a little fashion-forward for Fall 2016:

Scroll over the bottom of each thumbnail for brand and price. Linger a bit, and a brief caption will pop out. Click on any image to open the gallery with bigger images, full caption, and descriptions with more details and ways to wear each style.

 

After buying all this stuff, I was starting to feel a tinge of buyers remorse. I don’t live anywhere near malls or stores. I don’t flip through fashion mags anymore. What if I bought all this stuff and it’s très passé? So I did a little googling and rest assured, I still have a little fashion sense!

Who knew that these colors would be trending for Fall?

dusty-pink-yellow-trend

photo cred: elle.com

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photo cred: tomandlorenzo.com

Floral prints are still cool in the crisp Fall air

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photo cred: stylecaster.com

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photo cred: vogue.com

Plaids are still obvi a Fall staple

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photo cred: tomandlorenzo.com

Chokers are ba-ack!

chokers-trend

photo cred: stylecaster.com

elle-trends-fall-2016-statement-choker

photo cred: elle.com

And the Metal is in the details!

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photo cred: elle.com

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photo cred: elle.com

So here are a few outfits I came up with…

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Not too shabby, eh? Village Discount’s next half-price sale is September 25 and 26.

What are your thifting tips and tricks? What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at a thrift store or garage sale? Leave a comment below 🙂