Valentine's Day is right around the corner and Aldi is in full swing promoting seasonal items. As soon as I saw The Chocolate Cellar, I knew I had to try. The packaging is eye-catching, and I was intrigued by the dark chocolate flavor. Typically, I dislike super sweet wines and any sort of chocolate-flavored alcohol. But, because this was a Red Wine with natural dark chocolate flavors, I wanted to know how it tasted. For $8, this was worth the try.
Wow! As soon as you open it, you can smell the chocolate. As I spun it around the glass, the smell reminded me of tootsie-rolls. The description claims flavors of candied cherries and caramel. At first you taste the sweet red wine which is immediately followed by dark cherries. The flavor settles into chocolate with a hint of caramel. There are definitely many layers of flavor!
To me, this is my kind of dessert wine since it's not sickening sweet. I can't decide, however, if it tastes "natural". It would pair well with cheese and fruit, definitely not a meal wine. It's very different and not like any wine I've tried before. I was happy after one glass but didn't go back for more which is not a good sign. You have to be in the mood to keep drinking this. I did crave a small glass this evening but still couldn't finish my glass. For this reason, I rate this wine a 3/5.
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.
When I moved out and started my career, I promised myself I would try to eat well. But meals progressively level up in difficulty throughout the day. Breakfast is easy, lunch is confusing, and dinner is hard. I'm guilty of laziness and eating random small portions of snacks for lunch but not a solid meal. When I first started grocery shopping, I concluded a sandwich was my best bet.
Now, a sandwich isn't novel in any way, quite the opposite, but an easy-to-match recipe will hopefully get you started to eating better at an even better value. When you go into Aldi and you see these items, you can grab and go.
My favorite part of this recipe is the Rosso pesto. You see this little jar in Aldi and you want it, but what do you do with it? PUT IT ON A SAMMICH. For real though, aside from pasta, this is an amazing spread on sandwiches or wraps. I love the tomato spread to substitute a sliced tomato - it's a nice alternative.
Without further ado, here is one of the few sandwiches I muster the will to make on my lunch break which can be enjoyed toasted or cold:
Chicken and Cheddar Sandwich with Priano's Rosso Pesto
Step 1: Take two slices of bread and a knife. Spread mayo on one side and pesto on the other.
Step 2: Layer your chicken meat and cheese. Enjoy!
"What's for dinner?" I asked myself. A common dilemma I encounter.
I opened the fridge and to my delight I saw a pack of Aldi's fresh Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli that I had forgotten about. I immediately formulated the meal I would make around this amazing ravioli. But I didn't check for the chicken that was supposed to be part of this dinner. On a positive note, this recipe is great to pair with any protein you might have available. Consider this to be a customizable meal where these two components are the base. Catch me next time for the chicken recipe.
Step 1: Set burner to high, fill pot with water (about 3/4 high), add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Carefully add ravioli.
Step 2: Turn heat down to medium after adding ravioli. Water should still bubble. Let ravioli cook for 4 minutes or until they bob at the top of the water.
Step 3: Drain ravioli in colander. Add the ravioli back to the empty pot.
Step 4: Add pesto to taste - start with a tablespoon. Cover the pot and toss it up or gently mix in with a large spoon.
Lemon Pepper Broccoli:
Step 1: Place broccoli florets in a bowl. I usually have 6-8 floret pieces.
Step 2: Add a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
Step 3: Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes and sprinkle lemon pepper.
One of my favorite things about Aldi is being able to afford exotic fruits and nuts without hurting my budget's feelings. When my family and I traveled to Hawaii, we would buy papaya boats at the store for breakfast. Those were simply wrapped with blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. I fell in love with the combination.
Buy these few ingredients and get 4 breakfasts out of one papaya and snack on the leftovers. Feel free to switch up the yogurt, the nuts, choose another berry, or even add a grain. Let's make these easy papaya boats!
Step 1: Wash papaya, slice length wise, and remove seeds. Quarter the papaya. Set one wedge away. (Wrap the others in plastic wrap and place in fridge for later.)
Step 2: Scoop your yogurt onto the papaya.
Step 3: Layer with nuts and blueberries
This cute $2.99 bag of (1.5lb) tiny potatoes from Aldi is colorful and an easy hit at the dinner table for one - or two. Follow my recipe below for this easy Roasted Ramekin Potatoes side dish. The bag recommends 375° for 30 minutes. I left mine in longer since they weren't cooked completely through.
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!
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!