I will preface this first post, I am no wine connoisseur, but I love drinking wine.
My interest and love for wine stemmed from my parents who cultivated the appeal (no puns intended). They often went wine-tasting, and my father took an interest in viticulture. We had a mini vineyard in our backyard growing up. I have many fond memories of harvesting grapes and making wine with my father.
In my three years of drinking age, I've enjoyed a range of wine prices and quality. This particular brand at Aldi is all the rage for it's insanely affordable cost. All the Winking Owl bottles are $2.95! This was my college go-to because, despite potentially sacrificing quality, I could still have a glass of wine at the end of the day. Now, I've almost tried them all. I plan to review each one, but I will reveal my favorite so far is the Shiraz and my least favorite is the Merlot.
Today, I'll be reviewing one I haven't tried: Winking Owl's Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is a white wine made from green-skinned grapes and adaptive to varying climates. Chardonnay has a range of light to full-bodied. Cooler climates relates to citrus notes, whereas warm climates produce sweeter, richer fruit flavors.
The bottle recommends you drink with roast chicken or fish. My family and I drank it alongside our homemade pizza. I definitely can see this going better with the recommended meals.
My family and I taste-tested the wine together before dinner and everyone had the same resounding it was okay. Not horrible, but not memorable. I definitely picked up on the pear and the oaky notes are very distinct, maybe a bit grassy. Acidity cut short the first sip which I thought was lovely. I had a glass with my meal but didn't see myself return to the bottle afterwards for more. No one else did either.
If you are looking for a last minute wine to pair with your dinner - sure, grab this Chardonnay. But I wouldn't drink for the sake of drinking on its own. Let's give this a 3/5 corks.
I'm always on the look out for an easy dinner. I try to find a no-thought-required meal - usually microwaveable. But it's hard to find high quality microwaveable options.
These Whole & Simple microwave bowls were going for $2.99 a box and boasting a wealth of protein, vegetables, and grains. Sold! I bought the Adoba Chicken and the Korean Inspired Beef Bowl.
The ingredients list is easy to read, and the box claims nothing artificial. I believe it. Both boxes were hearty meals. However, I wasn't a huge fan of the Adoba Chicken. It had a higher protein count but was dry and needed more sauce. End of story.
On the other hand, the Korean bowl was pretty good! It had excellent little slices of beef, plenty of sauce, and the grains filled me up quickly. Additional ingredients included shiitake mushrooms, kale, spinach, bamboo shoots and sesame seeds. This bowl has a mild spice to it, but if you aren't a fan of heat, I wouldn't recommend it.
Overall, I think these were good. I feel like something was missing from both sauces that would elevate their flavor. But as a microwave dinner, this is a healthy option that will put your mind at ease.
Even as a young professional, I really try to cook dinner from scratch each night. But sometimes I'm too tired. So, when I go on my weekly Aldi trip, I try to pick out at least one easy instant meal where less thinking is required.
My roommate recently inspired me with her choice of Sweet & Sour chicken for dinner one night (it smelled incredible). So, while I stood in the frozen-section of Aldi, my eye caught this bag of $5.99 Sweet & Sour Chicken by Fusia Asian Ingredients. Into the cart it went!
Tonight was the night. I'm exhausted. I was tempted to cook but decided against it. I reached for that Sweet & Sour Chicken bag in the freezer. As soon as I opened it, I could smell the pineapple! Inside there are two little bags (sauce and rice) and then veggies + pineapple at the bottom. Now, I'm a bit skeptic of frozen meat in instant meals (#mysterymeat). This chicken, however, was finely grilled and actually looked normal. The pineapple and veggies were brightly colored. I loved how the little rice pack was included!
First, you place the sauce packet in warm water. Toss the rice in the microwave for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, you add the veggies + pineapple to a skillet with a 1/4 cup of water and let it simmer until heated through (about 5-7 mins). I think the water was a bit too much so I drained some of it out. I added the sauce - it was super tangy - and let it simmer with the veggies. The rice was perfectly cooked in the microwave and not dry at all. Pour the sauce over the rice and bon appetite! I put this together in under 10 minutes. I think this would be just enough for two people to eat. I had a little bit of sauce leftover but no rice.
The flavor was incredible, ingredients list simple, the veggies colorful and crisp. Easy lunch or dinner!
Over this New Year's weekend, I revealed to my parents that I've started a blog featuring my favorite Aldi buys (recipes coming soon). Mid-conversation, my mom ran to the kitchen pantry and grabbed a box of our family's most coveted sweet treat - Benton's Maple Leaf Cream Cookies. I was reminded of all the evenings my mom carefully and fairly divided the cookies amongst my family members before our nightly TV-show. Unguarded, these cookies truly do not last long. You've been warned. Our eyes wide with wonder, these perfectly shaped golden treasures are God's gift to humanity and kryptonite to any diet you may be attempting. And let's not forget the sweet, decadent flavor of maple. GOD BLESS.
"And only $2 a box!" my mom proudly exclaimed. I could hear my dad's jaw dropping from the foyer, "Only $2??"
I won't get too analytical with this review - it's a cookie after all. And everyone's taste will vary. This find is definitely comparable to Trader Joe's Maple Leaf Cookies. I say Benton's is better - hefty, thicker. creamier, and way more snappy. The cream amount at the center is generous and the cookie itself is crispy. Ironically, I find the Trader Joe's version dry and thin. It pales in comparison.
Benton's is a seasonal fall item, so if it catches your eye, prepare to buy. Grab a glass of milk and satisfy your sweet-tooth!
The afternoon lull at work hit hard today. Coffee was in order. I immediately reached for Café Bustelo's Espresso Coffee. At $2.69 for 10 oz., this literal brick of coffee is a God-send.
Rewind to college days, I remember my mom had added this to my going-away goodies one semester (thank you, Ma). I wasn't sure what to expect, but the coffee I had at my apartment just wasn't cutting it, so I broke open the Bustelo. Now, I love dark coffee and bold flavor. My tub of generic grounds were lackluster on the weekends, and I struggled to get my ass to work. When I brewed Café Bustelo, my taste buds were dancing and singing! I went to repurchase this at my local Aldi store, and the price tag gave me life. With each cup, I was raised from the dead and got through every work shift seamlessly thereafter - graduation and beyond.
The scent of this espresso is incredible. As soon as you open the vacuum-sealed bag, the aroma rises into the air and warms your coffee-loving soul.
This coffee brand has truly engrained itself into my family. We are all addicts. My dad makes a cup of Moka using this espresso every day. Literally. Every 2pm, he's out in the kitchen brewing a cup.
So, if you are looking to brighten your day, have energy, and increase your credit score - keep an eye out for the bright yellow packaging and grab this on your next Aldi trip. You won't regret it! It's a steal. 6 out of 5 tote bags.
Lacura = Luxury
Among the fresh produce and household items, Aldi carries their own line of skincare products under the brand name Lacura. Most Lacura products are dupes of well-known beauty brands such as L'Oreal or, in this case, Neutrogena - all selling for a fraction of the cost. We LOVE to hear it. I've tried their face masks and lip balms. No complaints so far. This foaming gel cleanser made in Luxembourg is $3.99 and labeled with all the same promises: dermatologist tested, not tested on animals, and cleanses a multitude of sins. Not to mention, it's soap, paraben, oil, and alcohol-free. AND comedogenic and hypoallergenic to boot.
Into the cart it went!
I haven't tried the Neutrogena version. I will say the ingredients list differs a bit. It doesn't claim to be paraben-free like Lacura, but Lacura ingredients list is longer. Neutrogena is more expensive and usually sells around $7.
Lacura's Foaming Gel Cleanser has a thick gel consistency that only slightly foams up with application. The scent reminds me of baby powder, but in a good way. It's not over-powering. I wouldn't recommend if you don't like fragrance in your skincare products since the scent lingers a bit. The cleanser quickly and gently removes face makeup. It loosens mascara but doesn't entirely erase it. On my skin, it's not the most hydrating, but I do feel fresh and clean. No trace of face makeup. I use a moisturizer afterwards. (Cetaphil's iconic cleanser claims the hydration prize for me.)
Makeup wipes tug on my skin, and I've been looking for a way to gently wash off my makeup. This is a solid 4 tote bags out of 5.
23 years-old. Passionate about affordable groceries. Young and broke. Queen of winging it. My recipes are for the busy, the lazy, and the tired. I'm all of the above. New posts weekly!