Quick & Easy: 5 Ingredient Pasta Dinner

Healthy, quick, easy & budget friendly. This pasta dish is filling. Perfect to spice up your dinner table.

Light up the sky.Lately, I have not been in the mood to cook. My bank account is not thanking me for the takeout I’ve been ordering this past month and a half (it’s partly due to a concussion, so I don’t feel too bad being lazy).

To rectify my bad habits, I’m trying to cook more, taking these three four words into consideration: quick, easy & budget friendly.

I had a lot of these item’s on hand, which made my trip to the store almost unnecessary. Most of the time I cook dairy free, gluten free and red meat free. This pasta hit all those marks!

What I had in my cupboard/freezer:

  • 1/2 box Banza Penne (chickpea) pasta
  • 1 lb turkey burger
  • Pre-chopped (frozen) sweet onions*
  • Pre-chopped (frozen) red & green bell pepper mix**

What I picked up at the store:

DIRECTIONS

I simply cooked 1/2 of the Banza pasta; however, I did brown all the turkey burger and use the entire can of pasta sauce. After I had browned my turkey burger I threw in maybe 1/4 cup of the pre-chopped onion and maybe 1/2 cup of the red & green bell peppers. After the peppers and onion had heated up, I added the pasta sauce and stirred until simmer.

I made three servings of pasta, one (probably oversized) serving to eat after I made it and two servings that went into microwavable containers for the rest of the week. The remainder of the meat sauce went into the freezer, which will provide 2-3 meals once I cook more pasta.

The Organic Arrabiata Pasta Sauce was amazing. The reason I chose it was because the front of the jar said “made with a spicy blend of tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil & spices. I am a sucker for spicy food-the pasta was chunky, hardy and filling.

*I like to cook pre-chopped onions in my freezer, you can buy them in the freezer section, but I find it just as easy to chop up leftover onion after I cook something that requires a fresh onion. I simply chuck it up, throw it in my food processor and put the chopped onion in a freezer zip-lock bag. 

**After making a few gluten-free pizzas from scratch (which I then cut into servings and froze), I had leftover red and green bell peppers, like my onions I chopped them up and threw them in a freezer bag. Note: I keep these chunks a bit bigger (I don’t put them in the food processor).

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Great Gifts

Although I don’t love the idea of celebrating my birthday, the one aspect I can get behind is gifts! Here are a few gifts that are incredibly useful!

This week I celebrated my birthday, well I tried to ignore celebrating my birthday.

All in all, it was a good week and I had a good time catching up with friends and family throughout. One part of birthday’s I do not mind is the presents. I honestly feel like the 5 year-old that asks everyday leading up to their birthday if that day is their birthday because they are so excited for the presents!

Yes, I guess I am a 5 year-old at heart!

However, I have realized that with getting older comes a want for more practical and useful birthday presents. Here are a few things that I would ask for as a birthday present (some of which I did and some that I would) and with a few I was lucky enough to get them early, which means more time to use them!

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Letter Opener – Cooler Tote
Joeseph Adjustable Rolling Pin
 – Garment & Fabric Steamer
Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Easy No-Mess Pie Crust Maker Bag  – iPhone Charging Bracelet
 Nutri Ninja Pro Blender –  Fruit Infuser Pitcher

Joeseph Adjustable Rolling Pin – This wooden rolling pin, which has measuring rings to help you prepare your dough to the exact thickness came early as a surprise. I asked my mom for an old rolling pin and this is what she brought. The best part was that I had been oogling over this exact rolling pin in the kitchen goods section of my grocery store! I have used it several times to make pie crust and sugar cookies since receiving it. I cannot sing enough praise!

Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Easy No-Mess Pie Crust Maker Bag – This bag, which totally goes along with the rolling pin, makes making pies easy as pie! I received this in my stocking years ago and couldn’t imagine rolling out my pie crust any other way! It creates a perfectly round crust of a consistent thickness. In addition, it is easy to wash and store. If I didn’t already have it, it would have been on my list. It is available on Amazon in a 14″ and 11″ bag!

Garment & Fabric Steamer – This item has been on my list for some time. From rarely ever using my mini iron in the dorm I moved into my sorority, which had a steamer. So this is something I need and miss from home. The one I found is a hand-held steamer, unlike the larger model my mom has at home; however, for my apartment living and quick steams I think this would be perfect.

Fruit Infuser Pitcher – I never would have imagined needing this, but one of my best friends took the thinking away and gave one to me as an early birthday present, which she picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond! It is wonderful! I love infusing my water with lemons and limes, and to support the habit I had purchased a simple glass pitcher from Target, which I shattered a week after getting it. I purchased another one and have been incredibly careful with it. However, this Prodyne Fruit Infuser Pitcher is made from a really sturdy plastic that looks like glass. It pours the water out gracefully, and I love it!

Nutri Ninja Pro Blender – My old roommate had a Bullet Blender, which I used all the time to make smoothies and knockoff frappuccinos. After going without it for a while, I realized how much I missed it. I told my parents it would make the perfect early birthday gift if they were so inclined. They were inclined, but after a little research on my own – I decided to go with a Ninja because it has a bit more power. At this stage in my life, this personal blender is overall great in size, compactness and power. It can be found at Target, as well as other stores!

Letter Opener – I am the kind of person who loves sending and receiving mail! Something I would love to have is a letter opener. I typically tear into letters and think a nice, monogrammed letter opener would do me good! Mark & Graham is one of my favorite places to buy gifts because you can personalize anything and they have a couple cute letter openers!

iPhone Charging Bracelet – Speaking of Mark & Graham, on their homepage they had the cutest iPhone Charging Bracelet! OH MY GOSH, so cute and practical. However, with the pending release of the iPhone 7 (which is this fall, right?) I am wondering if the charging abilities will be the same. It comes in two different sizes and a gold, silver and matte black finish!

Cooler Tote – A few years ago I received a Lilly Pulitzer cooler tote as a gift. It was a wonderful gift and one I find myself using all the time. It has great space and the long handles make it easy to carry around. This one, which I found at Nordstrom, is very similar in size and structure.

Extra, Extra – A few other items that never hurt to add to your list are socks, toothbrushes, your favorite soap or candles, desk supplies, stationary or snacks!

July-August Reads

I love a good book, but sometimes it takes me a while to get into one. These three books mingle between self-help and fiction and provide a good dose of different.

I go through spirts where I am increasingly bookie. Bookie may not be the best way to describe these phases, but it’s the best I can come up with at this moment.

This past month I have read three new books. Actually, it took me a month to get through one, a week for the other, and a day for this last one. I had the time, so I utilized it.

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Buy it here!

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling took me about a month to power through. I think it would have taken significantly less time if I were not moving, traveling, and taking 3 classes. However, it was a great book.

As a young, impressionable college student it was refreshing to read the words of failure and success over a period of time. I think we get so caught up in our world of instant gratification that we forget success takes hard work and time.

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The second book I dove into was, “Why Not Me?” another book of essays by Kaling. This one only took me less than a week. A lot of the essays were similar to her first book, but followed were enhanced. You learned more about Kaling throughout and were able to relate on a different level.

If you are a big fan of “The Office” or “The Mindy Project,” then this is the book for you. Kaling took quite a few essays to describe her work on the shows, as well as, the work she puts in behind the scenes. You find out where passion stems from in this book.

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I just finished reading this one, “The Silver Star” by Jeannette Walls. It has been a while since I picked up a fiction book and this one was definitely an impulse buy. As noted by my reading choices listed before this particular one – I went through a self-help book phase. After reading another book by Walls, “The Glass Castle” and becoming completely captivated by her writing I had to pick this one up when I was at Target, like 8 months ago before Christmas.

With this being my second read by Walls, I was a bit disappointed. Where in her last novel, Walls did an incredible job at setting the scene and introducing me to the characters, this one lacked on those two fronts. However, it did not lack on keeping you on your toes. It definitely wants to make me pick up some more fiction.

What I did love most about this particular book was the setting. It was set in a small Virginia town with a cotton mill. It followed two sisters on an adventure to their roots. “The Silver Star” also captured a time in southern history that is not looked at much, full integration.

With everything going on in our country, whether it be politically or race driven, I think everyone should read about how integration changed this community for the better…it just took some time.

I am always looking for new good reads! Suggestions are more than welcome!