One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

cheesy pasta
Photo Credit: RiverBender.com

Cheese.  Sausage.  Pasta.  All in one pot. Ingredients I usually have on hand at all times.  Easy weeknight meal with no prep whatsoever.  Yeah… we eat this quite a bit.  Good thing it’s delicious 😉   This is also a flexible recipe.  I’ve used all shapes and kinds of pasta from farfalle to rotini to whole grain pasta-it all works.  Out of shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese?  No problem!  Use whatever shredded cheese you happen to have on hand.  I adapted my recipe from one I found from RiverBender.com.  You can check out the original here!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Smoked Turkey Sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion (fresh is fine, too-I use frozen to save time)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about two fresh cloves)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Chicken Broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 8 oz dry pasta (any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, for garnish

Directions

1. Add olive oil to a 4-5 quart saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with sliced scallions and serve.

I typically use a lot more cheese than a cup, because… cheese!  This is a recipe everyone loves.  You can customize it to your taste by using your pasta and cheese of choice, omitting chopped scallions or using green onion, and the list goes on.  I hope you enjoy this one!

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Great Exfoliators and Moisturizers to Beat the Dry Weather!

Great Exfoliators and Moisturizers to Beat the Dry Weather!

I meant to write this one before winter began, so I’m a little late on this one.  Hopefully there are a few products here that make the rest of the dry winter months a little more tolerable.  After all, you can only drink so much water in a 24 hour period to try to keep you hydrated!  Moisturizers are great, but exfoliating allows moisturizers to do their thing, so I’ve thrown a few of my favorites in as well.  Let me know what some of your favorites are!

Exfoliators

Soap & Glory Flake Away Body Polish

flake away
Photo Credit: Target

We’ll start with a great body scrub.  I’ve tried numerous body scrubs from those with crushed walnut shells, salt scrubs (yeah… don’t use those if you plan on shaving… you know, the phrase “don’t rub salt into the wound” should tell you why this is a bad idea…), and scrubs that I have no clue what they contain.  This one is hands down my favorite.  Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever tried anything by Soap & Glory I didn’t love.  This scrub contains moisturizing shea butter, sugar, and peach seed powder to naturally exfoliate.  The scent of this scrub can’t even be described-one of my favs!

PMD Beauty Personal Microderm & PMD Clean

pmd
Photo Credit: Sephora

Alright.  Another Facebook ad made me do it.  I had seen ads for Personal Microderm for what seemed like months and as my skin ages and becomes dryer, uneven toned, and hyper-pigmented in areas, I decided to check out the reviews, which surprisingly were mostly positive.  I’ll spare you the details and I’ll post an entire review of the system after I’ve been using it a little longer than four weeks.  I will say in the short term I’ve loved the system as an exfoliator and my skin has never been this smooth and even after using the microderm every week the PMD Clean twice daily when cleansing.  All products seem to absorb much better because of this system.

e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator

lip exfoliator
Photo Credit: Target

Cheap.  Effective.  Look no further.  Seriously!  That’s about it for this one.  This exfoliator is a little more coarse than most I’ve tried, but it’s by far my favorite.  It absorbs well, exfoliates well, and the sugar crystals dissolve well.  Perfect for matte liquid lipstick obsessions.

 

 

Dr. Pedicure Foot Exfoliation Peeling Mask

mask
Photo Credit: Amazon

This one is by far the strangest in my lineup.  It’s a mask… for your feet.  Not kidding.  The package contains a set of plastic booties you put on your feet, secure them with tape so they don’t leak, let the chemicals do their thing, and in about a week or so all of the dead skin on your feet peels continually until it’s completely removed.  Disgusting?  Yes.  Effective?  Also yes.  Soo… whatevs.  If it works it works.  And it does work.  I don’t think any pedicure could’ve given me softer feet than this did.  Now I just do maintenance by using a natural pumice stone.  If my feet ever are in dire need again, I’ll definitely be grabbing another pack of these babies.

Moisturizers

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter

righteous butter
Photo Credit: Target

Probably my favorite on this list.  Your skin will thank you every time you use this magical body butter.  I’m not exaggerating.  I have yet to find something more moisturizing and longer lasting than this stuff.  Amazing.

 

 

Soap & Glory Heel Genius

heel genius
Photo Credit: Target

Yep.  Another Soap & Glory product.  I’m telling you… they’re so effective, have such an amazing scent, and are so long lasting that I have yet to find anything that tops their products.  I’m able to maintain well manicured feet with this product alone as long as I apply it every night in the winter months and after showering in the summer months.

 

 

 

LilyAna Naturals Eye Cream Moisturizer

eye cream
Photo Credit: Popsugar

I know this isn’t necessarily a full moisturizer, but it’s awesome if my skin needs a little more moisture on dry days.  I use it as an eye cream twice a day, then on other areas of the face as needed and it does the job.

 

 

 

Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil

coconut oil
Photo Credit: Amazon

Coconut oil has always been suggested to me for dry skin, but alas, I can’t handle the greasiness that comes along with it.  So, I did what I usually do: search Amazon for a solution.  What I found was fractionated coconut oil that isn’t “greasy”, but is definitely oily (it’s an oil… so, duh).  In the winter months I put this on my hands, rub it in as much as possible, then apply O’Keefe’s Working Hands afterward, which seems to seal the moisture in.

O’Keefe’s Working Hands

working hands
Photo Credit: Amazon

I use this during the day when my hands become really dry because it’s not greasy, absorbs well, and keeps moisture in for a long time.  As I said before, this works great after applying fractionated coconut oil before bed to lock in the moisture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fake Naked Palette From Sephora?!

Fake Naked Palette From Sephora?!

After years of wanting to see what the hype of Urban Decay Naked palettes was all about, I could never bring myself to purchase one for full price.  Honestly, I always wear the same boring neutral shades of shadow and I wasn’t about to shell out over $50 for an eyeshadow palette.  Do you know how many diapers that can buy?  Oh, right… back to the palettes.  I finally bit the bullet when I found the Naked Smoky palette which had been previously discontinued for half price.  Do I ever wear a smoky eye?  Nope.  Was I going to buy it?  Yep.  Girl logic.

I was so excited to finally get my palette in the mail, tore open the packaging, and opened the prettiest box of makeup I had ever seen.  The packaging didn’t disappoint and there was a helpful tutorial inside the box.  Score!  Perfect for a smoky eye newbie like me.  I whipped out the little tutorial card and went to work.  Added the shade Password and moved on to the shimmery dark gray shade of Armor.  Wait… Armop?  What the heck is Armop?  Seriously?  Now, even though this is my first Urban Decay palette I KNOW shades should not be misspelled.  That is a perfect sign of a dupe.  Did Sephora ship a dupe?!  Ugh.  You. Are. Kidding.  The color also didn’t seem to be terribly pigmented.  So, I packed up the palette and called all local Sephoras.  They weren’t even aware that Urban Decay had brought the palette back at half price.  An email to Sephora customer service was in order.

 

To my surprise they responded in less than 24 hours and told me they would send a new palette out as soon as possible.  I received a follow-up email after the new palette had been shipped instructing me to ship the defective palette back to Sephora.  New palette arrived, I shipped the old one back, and my problem was solved.

I still can’t help but wonder if Sephora shipped a lot of these misspelled palettes.  Did they somehow receive a bad shipment?  Let me know if you happened to receive a misspelled palette!

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

crock-pot-zuppa-toscana-7-1
Photo Credit: Homemade Hooplah

More soup for the cold winter months!  This Olive Garden copycat soup is hearty and can stand on its own as a meal.  It has it all-meat, potatoes, kale… shhhhh… hang with me, kale haters!  I promise you’ll love it.  I adapted my recipe from the Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe at Homemade Hooplah.  My version has cut quite a few corners.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 package Ore Ida diced hashbrown potatoes
  • 2-4 russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 pinch salt to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste
  • 4 cup chicken broth (32 oz)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (for topping)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble hot Italian sausage, about 5-8 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until some of the onion begins to turn opaque (no need to cook onion completely at this point). Drain grease from skillet.
  2. In a 6 quart crock pot (or bigger), add cooked sausage & veggies plus the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour chicken broth on top. There should be enough broth to cover the tops of the potatoes; if there isn’t, add up to 2 cups water so potatoes are covered.

  3. Gently stir ingredients, cover crock pot, and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove lid from crock pot and add kale and heavy whipping cream, then stir to combine.
  5. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
  6. Serve zuppa toscana immediately with shredded parmesan cheese as garnish.

Simple enough!  I usually brown the sausage, onion, and garlic the night before to make for a dump and go meal in the morning.  It’s chilly outside-hibernate and enjoy!

Shameless (Spoiler Alert: Not the TV Show)

Shameless (Spoiler Alert: Not the TV Show)

Guys, I don’t even know where to begin with this one.  I’m not sure what happened to us as a society that people have become so. darn. shameless.  Yep-that’s a strong word, but it is absolutely fitting for what people have become.  Shameless and prideless (yes… it’s a word-Merriam-Webster says so… link provided for ease of fact-checking).  I’ll stop beating around the bush because at this point, with everyone being offended by EVERYTHING, I honestly don’t care who is offended by this post.

friend-i-havent-seen-in-years-me-pyramid-scheme-0-38283448.png

Here is a list of solicitations I have received in the past few years from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years.  Sometimes longer than ten years.  Yes, TEN YEARS.

  • Jamberry Nails
  • Color Street Nails
  • Rodan + Fields
  • Lularoe (oh, goodness the buttery soft legging messages were relentless)
  • Premier Jewelry
  • Usborne Books
  • Mary Kay
  • Norwex
  • Young Living Oils (or insert miracle curing oil of choice here… there are a billion to choose from)
  • Lashboost (is that a “company” or a product from another pyramid scheme brand?  I don’t know… I’ve lost track…)
  • LipSense
  • Scentsy
  • Origami Owl
  • Advocare
  • Spark
  • Herbal Life
  • Amway
  • Pampered Chef
  • [Insert chosen brand here] toothpaste
  • [Insert chosen brand here] toothpaste
  • [Insert any “work from home startup business” here] (yes, I’m a mom, no, you shouldn’t assume I want to join your pyramid scheme for “extra income”… if you knew anything about me whatsoever you would know I work outside the home)

This is just a small sampling of only the direct messages I have received for solicitations to join a pyramid scheme.  This does NOT include requests for donations to organizations, childcare (although this doesn’t necessarily apply to me, stay-at-home moms can relate to this one), or various other “businesses”.  I can’t count how many times someone has contacted me that I haven’t spoken with in years starting off with “Your kids are adorable.  I’m starting a new business where you can work from home and earn some extra income and as a mom I’m sure you might be interested”.  Do you really think people don’t see your true intentions?  Do I have “gullible” written on my forehead (I checked… I don’t)?  I’m assuming the thought process goes something like this: “Oh!  She has kids.  She probably stays home.  She might need money.  She might jump on board if I pretend to be at all interested in her life.”

Does this sound harsh?  Absolutely.  Do I care?  No.  Why?  Because they obviously don’t care to waste my time by shamelessly soliciting their “business” because they think I’m a gullible person.  So, no.  I don’t care that this sounds harsh solely because they don’t care about me, my family, or my time.

You see, everyone has a different path in life-as they should.  No one is the same.  Not everyone goes to college, not everyone holds a full-time job, not everyone holds a part-time job.  Some people travel the world.  Some people get married, some people have kids, and some people do none of the above.  I am in no way shape or form hating on anyone’s side hustle.  A lot of people find products or companies they love and benefit greatly from promoting these products or companies on the side or as a full-time job.  If that works for you, that’s a pretty good gig, so keep it up!  Social media is a great place to share information-such as a business.  I’m all for it.  It’s effective, it reaches a large audience, and it’s easy and convenient.  Share away, people!  Honestly, I’ve found some of my favorite products from a Facebook ad or a post a friend made and I decided to check it out, but please, PLEASE stop direct messaging people PRETENDING to be interested in their life.  Frankly, it’s insulting when you act like YOU are doing ME a favor by pushing this product or company on me when I never even asked.  If you’re a true friend (or even a decent human being) you would not be contacting me out of the blue after having no contact with me for years.  This is not a business.  It’s harassment.

If someone truly believes in their company or product they won’t need to shamelessly solicit to everyone they have ever come in contact with throughout their life.  I have many friends who sell products for a company or are a brand ambassador who wholeheartedly believe in the products and company they promote.  They post to their social media regularly with real results they have experienced, don’t advertise gimmicks, and they only approach people who contact them with questions.  These are people I purchase products from.  People who are passionate about their product or company and not the money it COULD bring in.

Let’s be honest… is your side hustle going to make you rich?  No.  Just no.  Those that make money by promoting products or companies work very, very hard.  They don’t shamelessly send a message with little effort to everyone in their contacts list and hope a few people might be desperate enough to fork over their hard earned money.  If anyone is successful using this technique, the success won’t last.  This model isn’t sustainable and soon people will run the other way every time they are contacted.  Not to mention, mathematically a pyramid scheme is not sustainable.  Yep… had to throw some nerd at ya 😉

1280px-pyramid_scheme

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

img_6036Ignore my horrible photo… I promise this is a delicious recipe.  And yes… that is half of an avocado.  Don’t judge.  I was just so hungry by the time I was able to eat the dinner I prepared at 8:30 pm that I snapped the quickest photo I could.  Anyway, enough with the reasoning for my horribly unappetizing photo…

This black bean soup is both delicious and healthy.  I will warn you that it might not make a great main course, since it is basically, well… beans.  It’s enough for me, but most people might like something a little heavier to go with it.  Don’t let the “Instant Pot” title fool you-it is definitely anything but instant.  This recipe requires the pressure cooker to naturally release, which takes a little longer than a manual release would.  It took well over an hour and a half for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, cook on high, then naturally release, so be aware before you make this for the evening!  If you want to see the original recipe, check it out at A Pinch of Healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced (save some time and use frozen chopped onion!)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (14.5 ounce)
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 pound dry black beans, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used a little less… tiny people in the house)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (again… a little less for us-tiny people)
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Toppings: avocado, sour cream, lime, green onion, tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to the Instant Pot, and place the lid on top, with the vent set to “sealing.”

  2. Cook the soup on manual high pressure for 40 minutes, and let the pressure naturally release.

  3. After the pot is depressurized, remove the lid, and carefully remove the bay leaves.  Soup will thicken after sitting.

  4. Serve with desired toppings.

     

Enjoy!

The Holy Grail of Beauty Products. You. Need. This.

The Holy Grail of Beauty Products. You. Need. This.

Foundation?  Nope.  Mascara?  Nope.  It’s not even a makeup product… it’s a makeup REMOVAL product.  Yes.  Micellar Cleansing Water.  There are more uses for it than just removing your makeup.

So, how does it work?  ***CAUTION:  MAY CONTAIN SCIENTIFIC CONTENT.*** . Micellar water contains electrically charged particles called micelles.  Micelles attract dirt and makeup while acting like a solvent to gently remove dirt and makeup that otherwise clog pores.  See?  Not so sciency.

Now, although micellar water is the best makeup remove I’ve found yet, it does have other uses.  I had no idea my trusty micellar water had so many other uses!  I found all of the following uses from Mixed Makeup.

Double Cleansing

What… clean twice?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Honestly, you do.  All you need to do is wipe makeup, dirt and oil away with a cotton ball or pad soaked with micellar water, then clean with your normal cleanser.  That’s it!  No… seriously.  If your cleanser contains an active ingredient such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid, cleansing with micellar water beforehand actually increases the effectiveness of those ingredients.

Fix Makeup Mistakes

I can’t liquid eyeliner.  Like, at all.  My saving grace?  Micellar water.  You can really use it to fix any makeup mistake since it acts as a solvent.  Lipstick mishap?  No problem!  Q-Tip soaked in micellar water to the rescue!

Makeup Brush Cleaner

While I’ve never tried cleaning my brushes this way (I use my tried and true African Black Soap as a brush cleaner), I”m sure it would work great since micellar water attracts dirt, oil and makeup.  You can add some micellar water to a bowl, swish brushes and let air dry or soak a paper towel with micellar water and rub brushes and let dry.

Fragrance Remover

If you’re like me and not a huge fan of perfume, you may find yourself wanting to remove what you’ve already applied.  Soak a cotton pad with micellar water and rub over the area where perfume was applied.  It will help remove the perfume oils and most of the fragrance as well.

Fale Eyelash Remover

I can honestly say I’ve only worn falsies a handful of times in my life (thanks to my dance team days with “show” makeup…), but I do remember having to pull false eyelashes off after a long day.  A safer way to remove false eyelashes is to soak a cotton pad with micellar water, hold it on the eyelashes for 15-20 seconds to dissolve the glue, and remove the eyelashes.

Freshen Up After the Gym

Dirt and oil can cause breakouts if your skin isn’t cleaned immediately after a workout.  Sometimes you don’t have time to cleanse your skin immediately after the gym.  Solution?  Quick swipe of micellar water on a cotton pad and you’re good to go!  You can even use it on underarms… your friends’ noses will thank you.

Clothing Stain Remover

No stain remover handy?  Blot the stain with micellar water on a cotton pad and it will lift the stain away or significantly lighten the stain.  Coffee drinkers, rejoice!

MIcellar WaterMy favorite brand of micellar water is Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying.  It cleanses and removes makeup gently without drying.  The low price tag doesn’t hurt either.  If you don’t have micellar water in your beauty arsenal, jump on board on this one.  It guarantee it will quickly become one of your favorites!