Category Archives: Budget

Salted Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cups

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Just in case you hadn’t noticed I am a pretty big fan of peanut butter.  I apologize to anyone out there with a peanut allergy…I can’t imagine how rough it must be to live without it (or to try to avoid it).  I will say the awesome thing about cooking for yourself is that you have the luxury of ignoring the world ‘peanut’ wherever I use it and replacing it with ‘almond,’ ‘cashew,’ or ‘sunflower.’  All excellent PB substitutes.

Anyways, since I love peanut butter and I love chocolate, I know that they are totally a match made in heaven. I am obsessed with Reece’s.  They were totally that candy that I would trade anything in my halloween candy stash for.  Today I decided I really wanted one, but I didn’t want to leave my apartment/spend money to get it, and I knew I had been neglecting my poor little blog, so I decided to hit the kitchen and make my own!

I tried really hard to come up with a good way to thicken up the filling with what I had on hand, so they would be closer texturally to a Reece’s, but never really got there.  That was totally fine though because they turned out delicious!  I also sprinkled some cinnamon and salt on top, because it sounded like a good idea.  And guess what?…

It totally was. Mmmmmmm.

So if you are okay with having a peanut butter cup that has a slightly less pronounced line between chocolate and peanut butter, I highly recommend making these.  If you are a purist, I would recommend searching elsewhere.  But really…just humor me and do the cinnamon and salt thing.  You won’t regret it….at least I don’t think you will…

Salted Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cups

*Makes about 12 pieces

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons (I used chunky) peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup crushed cereal (golden grahams) or graham crackers or cookies
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cinnamon
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Crush your cereal/graham crackers/cookies until fine using either a food processor or by putting them in a plastic bag and using a can.
  2. In a small bowl mix together peanut butter, sugars, crushed cereal, honey and oil until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl microwave chocolate chips in 15-second intervals until smooth and melty.
  4. Make tablespoon size drops of chocolate on a piece of foil or parchment paper.  Scoop a slightly smaller amount of peanut butter mixture on top or each drop. Cover the peanut butter with another scoop of melted chocolate; spread to cover and seal in the peanut butter.
  5. While still melty, sprinkle on cinnamon and salt, to your liking. 
  6. Place in the freezer for 10-15 min to allow candies to solidify.
  7. Enjoy! 
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Meatless Mondays: Zucchini Parm

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So there is this little thing called “Meatless Monday” that has been going on for quite some time.  I, unfortunately, have never participated on purpose…accidentally: sure, but that clearly that is just a rotten coincidence and I can’t play cool like I am someone who really cares.

Well, last Monday was different.

As many of you may know, Football started up this last week, and with it, MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL aka the perfect opportunity to make a meatless dinner.

You may be confused right now…how can football night=good opportunity for Meatless Monday?

The answer to that question is: a local bar was (1) playing the New England Patriots game and (2) having unlimited Bud Light and chicken wings.  NOW.  If there are 3 things that I am not a fan of they would be (1) watching football, (2) Bud Light, and (3) eating anything that is still on a bone.I apologize if you are feeling offended by my distaste for these 3 highly American things…I try to make up for it with liking baseball, craft beers, and devouring anything covered in cheese.  That is all I can do! But, I digress…

Since Tom was out watching  the game with some Law School peeps, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to make something meatless and filled with squash (Tom=not a fan).  I saw a recipe for Zucchini Parmesan on foodgawker a couple days before that I decided would be a good option.  It was super simple to make, only required a few ingredients, and was relatively cheap to boot.  I only spent roughly $7 on the ingredients, and remember, I am living in a ridiculously expensive city.  Anyways, here is my take on the dish!

Alex’s Meatless Monday Zucchini Parm

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small box noodles (I did Macaroni because I had leftovers from Mac and Cheese, but you could use any type)
  • 1 can red pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic

Directions:

  1. Begin by cutting up your zucchini in half (long ways) and then into relatively thin slices.  Slice up or grate mozzarella.  Get some water boiling.   Add pasta to water (it should take about the same time to cook as it will take to make the sauce).
  2. Pour a thin layer of olive oil into pan on medium-high heat and add about 1-2 cloves of garlic.  Let garlic brown in pan, then toss in the zucchini. 
  3. When the zucchini is a nice light brown on both sides, push it all close together and place/sprinkle the cheese on top.  Let cheese melt.
  4. Add in pasta sauce.  Mix.  Don’t be afraid of mixing in the cheese–it will make it gooey and delicious. Season to taste. 
  5. Drain pasta, distribute into individual bowls.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Have a piece of toast with it because there aren’t enough carbs in this meal yet.  Pour yourself a nice glass of red wine.  Enjoy with reruns of SYTYCD…woops….

 

Is this Missoni thing for real???

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Hey there world.  Let me just start off by saying that I try not to get up on my high horse too often to criticize peoples’ actions.  Generally I find straight criticism pretty useless, but I tried to walk away from this one and I really just couldn’t…

I’m talking about this Missoni for Target fiasco.

For those of you who missed what is going on here, an Italian fashion company by the name of Missoni (read about them on Wikipedia) partnered with Target to offer a low-budget version of some of their iconic designs in the chain.  Missoni is a popular, luxury brand, which does not come cheap– a Missoni dress from Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom will run you somewhere in the $800-$1,5000 range.  The Target collection offered a “comparable” dress for somewhere around $60.

Long story short, when people found out about this “deal” they descended upon Target stores and Target.com ferociously and bought up the entirety of the collection in the first day it was available.   Many of these people (not all, of course) knew or learned of the demand for these items and turned around and put what they had made out with on ebay or craigslist with enormously inflated prices.

When I heard about this I initially understood what the fuss was all about (even though I personally had never heard of Missoni…at least by name*) and was not at all shocked about the price-gouging via ebay.  All seemed like pretty normal business to me.  The problem really hit me when I started to notice just how ridiculous the defenses people use for asking inflated prices for these items are (not that this is something different than other occasions where people price-gouge).  Today I was cruising my local craigslist and saw the following reasons:

  1. “They don’t match my decor.” x2.  Okay…sure…this excuse seems believable enough, but if the problem is that it doesn’t match why couldn’t you a) return them or b) not charge 3-4x the amount you paid for them…
  2. “____ bought me the exact same one.”x2.  Again, Target does allow returns…even without a receipt you can get store credit.  Also, I sincerely doubt that you are telling the truth here.  Your boyfriend braved the early morning opening to get you a not-very-cute skirt?  Hmmmm…skeptical Alex is skeptical….
  3. “It doesn’t fit and I can’t return it.” C’mon people!  We all know Target allows returns!!!! Stop itttt.
  4. “I stormed the presale and can’t afford all my purchases.”  Well that is honest…but again, returning it will get you the amount of money you spent back!

I guess the point I am trying to make is:

If you can’t just admit you are being greedy and trying to turn a profit, and if that makes you feel guilty, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it! 

Honestly kids, there are a lot of people out there who would have liked to have had a shot at this collection, and hoarding it and trying to make a quick buck off of it is really just kind of rude.  I really hope that people resist buying this stuff off of people at these crazy prices to teach them a lesson.  I personally have no interest in this collection and I think people are kind of overreacting about the whole thing, so I for one will have no problem avoiding their ever-so-enticing “deals.”

ALSO:

If I decide I can’t live without some sweet geometric patterns, I’ll just wait it out til all you crazies are dropping your Missoni for Target off at the local Goodwill 3 months from now.  You probably won’t ever have had the occasion to wear it anyways…it will go nicely with my $4 barely used J.Crew 100% Cashmere sweater.

Oh, I love being frugal.  🙂

*While in the process of researching Missoni a little bit, I figured out that I have actually been in the Missoni Hotel in Edinburgh.  Actually a VERY cool hotel!

Delectable Dinners!

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Hello again, my lovelies.

This afternoon I thought I would share some of the delicious dinners that the BF and I made last week in our sweet, little city apartment.  🙂

View out the living room window of our sweet, little apartment

First up:  The Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese

Okay, so as food blog freaks and Food Network addicts might know, the Pioneer Woman recently got her own show!  I have been a massive fan of her site for the past…4 or so years, and I, for one, truly believe that her positive attitude and passion for butter were in need of another media platform.

To move along with this story, Tom and I were watching her show and had the image of her making some amazingly delicious looking Mac and Cheese burned into our heads.  Friday night we were invited to a dinner party with some fresh new law school people and decided that this was the time to make the full, behemoth recipe!

Fair warning: a group of 3 women and 5 young men barely put a dent in this massive amount of dinner delight.  I would HIGHLY advise halving the recipe if you are only trying to feed a small (or normal size) family or are not a fan of having a few days worth of leftovers.  As previously discussed, I love leftovers, so we are all good here!

My one and only change/suggestion would be to skip putting it in the oven.   You should have seen the ooey-gooeyness of this mac and cheese before the oven!!! While it was still tasty, I am pretty sure skipping the baking is the way to go.

Anyways, check this stuff out:

Now go make it!

NEXT: Thai Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles

This is a favorite of Tom and mine.  Usually Tom makes the dish with coconut rice (OMG SO GOOD) rather than rice noodles, but alas we have neither rice cooker nor pot with lid, so we had to change it up.   We were really happy with how this turned out, and again, wound up with a BUNCH of leftovers.  I highly recommend trying out this recipe.  It is pretty cheap to make (although you do have to invest in a few more exotic ingredients), has VEGGIES, and could easily be made cheaper/vegetarian with some tofu instead of chicken.

Mmmmmmmmmm (and yes, that is a strawberry-kiwi mojito in the background….recipe to come if we ever get it just right…).

Well that is all for now!  xoxo ❤

I’m dreaming….

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Of having the money, or willingness to spend money once I do, required to procure this cardigan from Zara:

If you find a similar one at Goodwill and want to send it to me let me know.  Kthanxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 🙂

PS this post is categorized under “budget” even though it is clearly a “budget killer” because I am thinking about trying to find it second hand, and therefore cheaper…also, it is a reminder not to go on Zara’s website anymore….haha mhmmm.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread Bars (are what it’s all about)

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Oh hi, friends!

As you can see, I am back to being a pretty bad blogger…or a pretty good real person (let’s go with the second option…).  Either way I am posting now, so what else can I do? Also, I am posting something pretty freaking delicious, so this should make up for any hatred you were harboring toward me for taking so long to post again.

Let’s cut to the chase…

I have realllllyy been wanting THIS peanut butter banana bread from one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker.  But, alas, we do not have her fancy-shmancy ingredients like flaxseed meal, all spice, dry roasted peanuts…

yogurt…

cinnamon….

baking soda….

brown sugar….

(okay, you can stop judging me now)

So instead I retreated to the google machine to seek out a more “back to basics” type of recipe and wound up with a base recipe that I could work with! Here ’tis!

Bare Minimum Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Bread Bars

adapted from Banana Peanut Butter Bread by Corwynn Darkholme on All Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • honey
 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium size square brownie pan.
  2. Mash bananas in a small bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat eggs and add to sugar and butter mix. Stir in peanut butter, bananas, flour and baking powder until blended. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Drizzle honey over the top.  Use a fork to swirl into batter.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove and let cool for approximately 15 minutes.
Voila!  These babies are not only a tasty way to use up some over-ripe bananas, they are also budget friendly (come on, even I had all these items on hand!), and go a long way.  Tom, Steph and I have been munching on these for the last couple of days and we still have nearly half a batch!  Also, according to the recipe a serving is only about 270 calories, and if you do them brownie style the yield is closer to 30 servings–aka only 135 calories per serving, and a lot yummier than those 100-calorie packs!

Root Beer Float Pops!

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Root Beer Float Pops!

One of the things that recently made the trip into our apartment from our awesome roomie, Stephanie’s old apartment was a popsicle mold!  After looking at it sitting sad and empty in the kitchen for a few days, Tom and I decided it was high time that we made some popsicles.  It is still summer, right?  Well, Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t seem to think so…and Stephanie and I are both DYING for a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it is still hot, humid and generally not Fall in NYC, so popsicles sounded fine to us!

After much debate between lemonade pops (Tom’s idea) and Chocolate pudding pops (my idea, mainly because of my love of chocolate and Bill Cosby), we decided to try out root beer float pops!

Using a rough outline we found all around the internet we made the easiest popsicles ever!  These are great because they only take 2 ingredients and almost no work! Listen up!

Root Beer Float Pops

  1. Open a bottle or can of root beer (we used Boylan’s), pour into a cup and let sit for 30 min to let it get a little flat
  2. Pour enough root beer into each mold to fill it halfway
  3. Put two small scoops of vanilla ice cream into each mold
  4. Top each mold with more root beer
  5. Freeze for at least 6 hours
  6. Devour!

Tom is much more excited about this than he looks. Cool as a cucumber, as per usual.

And because I love you I will give you a reel of ridiculous pictures of me putting these bad boys in the freezer:

Chili Cheese Topped Salad (with Fries…)

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So, we have been working with a limited number of cooking implements since we got to New York a few weeks ago.  Luckily the boyfriend has an awesome mother and cousin who brought out a bunch of great stuff for us to get started with, so I have been able to cook up a few delicious things!  Like this little number:

A Turkey, Brie, and Cranberry Quesadilla from my baking and cooking idol, Jessica, over at How Sweet it Is.  Genius.

This accidental favorite:

Graham cracker cereal (like Golden Grahams)+slightly past ripe banana+ milk= Banana Cream Pie Cereal.  It tastes just like it.  Trust me.

And finally, the “recipe” this post is all about: Chili Cheese Topped Salad (with Fries!).

Ingredients:

  • One head Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 cups ground beef/turkey/veggie replacement
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1-2 cups leftover french fries

Prep time: About 15-20 min

Hear me out on this.

My boyfriend called this creation “ghetto.”

BUT

I HATE wasting leftovers. And we had gone out to an awesome dinner the night before.  One that included $4 frozen margaritas in pint glasses, queso fundido, a burger with scrambled egg on top, and some of the best fries ever.  These fries were GREAT and when I reached my limit, some still remained….

I took them home, determined to finish them. I googled how to reheat fries so they don’t lose their crunchy deliciousness, and I succeeded in bringing them back to life!  Like this:

All they need is a quick pan-fry.  I bet they would turn out even better if you had a cast-iron skillet…

Okay, back to the salad.

Start out by rinsing your lettuce and cutting it/ripping it up the way you prefer it in a salad.  Give it a little bit to crisp up (pop it in the fridge for 10-15 min).

Throw those fries in the pan.  They don’t need any oil or anything, just let them go.  If you don’t have leftover fries, just pop your favorite type in the oven probably about 20 min. prior to starting the rest of this, depending on the cook time).

Grate up your cheese if you don’t buy the pre-grated type.

Take the pan you cooked your fries in and cook up your meat/fake meat.  Since I used leftover hamburger (just sliced it up into small pieces), I didn’t do any kind of seasoning, but you might want to through in some garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.  Just to taste. Whatever floats your boat. Drain out any grease from cooking.

Once that is all good and cooked add in your chili beans.  Mix it up.  Let the flavors mingle.

Lay out your bed of lettuce, top with fries and cheese

Next throw on that chili mixture, top with some more cheese, more fries, and you are good to go!

Hope you enjoy your leftovers!