Weekend Sales!

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I recently read in an article of Real Simple magazine that a stylist recommended a wardrobe being 80% basics and 20% statement pieces.

I thought, “I’m pretty sure my wardrobe is 98% basics.”

There are a few great sales happening this weekend, and I did a quick skim through a few websites and picked some great options!

J.Crew Factory: dress, grey shirt, sunglasses, shorts, earrings

Nordstrom: (from left) one, two, three, four, five

T3 Micro is running a promotion for the weekend as well, and I must tell you that their travel hair dryer is the best. If you travel a lot or have any need for a quality compact blow dryer, definitely get this one.

Do you have any weekend plans? We may have a pool party but the forecast is not looking good for the Raleigh area. Either way, I’m planning on basically eating lettuce and carrots the entire weekend to detox from my gluttenous time in NYC!

Happy shopping if you try to score during some sales!

The item you need for a precise DIY manicure

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Nail prep is one of the most important steps to a home manicure. If you don’t take the time to clean your nail beds and prep the surface for polish, you can be sure that you’ll get chips or the nail polish will begin to peel. But next to prep and choosing the right polish, lighting is key! If you can’t see how close you are getting to the cuticle, you won’t get a clean line along the edge of the nail.

I found this light at IKEA on a recent trip and it was purchased for the sole intention of using it when I polish my nails. And it’s perfect for that. The flexible neck means I can aim it wherever I need to and allows me to see every detail of the nail I’m polishing.

If you don’t have an IKEA near you, I found a similar one on Amazon! Curious about my favorite nail polish and manicure products? Click here! 

A summer outdoor dinner: pizzas and dessert

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This post is sponsored by ALDI, all opinions are my own.

As I mentioned in my first post about this dinner party, I specifically chose food that was simple to prepare and kept me out of the kitchen all night. I wanted options that were light but still filling for a warm summer evening.

I thought flatbread pizzas were such a fun entree idea, and after walking through ALDI on my shopping trip I was even more excited to make a variety of them! The Specially Selected Naan Bread was perfectly sized for 4 slices, and I was most impressed with the selection of high-quality cheeses at low prices.

I picked up some cilantro, a few vegetables, and a variety of different cheeses on my shopping trip and did just a bit of prep work beforehand for a few of the pizzas. The styles of pizza we went with were Margherita Pizza, Roasted Garlic Chicken & Bacon Pizza, Spinach Ricotta & Chicken Pizza, and Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza.

A few hours before the party I roasted the garlic and carmelized the onions. Both of these steps took minimal effort, but the impact is so worth it. Have you ever made roasted garlic? It’s the easiest thing in the world and makes your home smell delicious!

Let’s start with the recipe for the Roasted Garlic Chicken & Bacon Pizza. I opted for pre-cooked Lunch Mate Grilled Chicken Breast Strips from ALDI because it looked so good and was another easy cheat for time’s sake, but you can certainly grill or bake a chicken breast up and then slice it prior to making the pizza.

Roasted Garlic Chicken & Bacon Pizza (modified from this recipe)

15 Minutes Prep Time, 15 minutes cook time, Serves 4-6

1-2 pieces of Specially Selected Naan Bread

6 oz. Lunch Mate Grilled Chicken Breast Strips

2-4 strips Appleton Farms cooked bacon, chopped

1 head of roasted garlic (do this beforehand so it’s ready to go when it’s time to bake the pizza)

1 tbsp SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup Happy Farms shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 tsp Stonemill red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 tsp Stonemill dried oregano

To roast the garlic, peel most of the outer part of the bulb. Lay on its side and slice the top of the bulb until the garlic is exposed. Pour 1 tablespoon of SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil over top of the garlic and then place it, with the visible garlic on top, onto foil and wrap it up. Bake it for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the bulb. In order to determine whether it’s done, it should be fork tender.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mash the roasted garlic and olive oil into a paste. Spread on naan, top with chicken, and finish with mozzarella cheese and bacon. Sprinkle oregano and red pepper flakes over top. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I loved the protein of this pizza option and the roasted garlic spread made it especially flavorful.

Next up was my favorite pizza of the bunch. Whenever I have the chance to make a margherita pizza I don’t pass it up. It’s a classic and a total crowd pleaser.

Plus I have a ton of basil growing on my deck and this is my favorite way to use it!

Margherita Pizza

15 minutes prep time, 15 minutes cook time, serves 4-6

1-2 pieces Specially Selected Naan Bread

tomatoes (I prefer using small cherry tomatoes but almost any tomato will work here)

Happy Farms fresh mozzarella

fresh basil, julienned

sea salt

Place sliced mozzarella onto the naan, top with sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of sea salt. Top with basil, cut julienne style, and bake for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

Next up were the two pizzas that were a little bit of a stretch for me, but I figured some of my guests would enjoy. I found a recipe for a flatbread pizza with spinach and goat cheese, but since goat cheese isn’t high on my list of cheeses I enjoy, I swapped it for ricotta. I thought that would be a little bit safer of a route for the majority of my guests too.

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza (modified from this recipe)

10 minutes prep time, 15 minutes cooke time, serves 4-6

1-2 Specially Selected Naan Bread

1 tbsp SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 cups SimplyNature Organic Spinach

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup Happy Farms mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp grated Reggano parmesan cheese

1 oz Priano ricotta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Saute half of the spinach in olive oil until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, and other half of spinach to the pan and saute until that is wilted. Remove from heat. Spread spinach mixture over flatbread and top with mozzarella, parmesan, and a few dollops of ricotta evenly throughout the pizza. Bake for 15 minutes, turning on the broiler if you need to!

Finally, we made the Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza. I don’t love goat cheese, but I do love carmelized onion and I was excited to give this a try. This was the pizza I was certain wouldn’t be the favorite because some people have strong opinions about onions but I think it may have actually been one of the top two!

Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza (modified from this recipe)

15 minutes prep time, 15 minutes cook time, serves 4-6

For the caramelized onion (see note below): 

1 tsp SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Countryside Creamery butter

1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

For the pizza: 

1-2 Specially Selected Naan Bread

1 tbsp SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 oz Specially Selected goat cheese, crumbled

fresh basil, julienned

kosher salt

Note: Caramelize the onions beforehand, so they are ready when you are ready to bake this pizza. To caramelize the onions, melt butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and stir. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the onions and cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. The goal is for the onions to have a deep brown color, but not be burnt!

To assemble the pizza, spread naan with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Top with caramelized onions and crumbled goat cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Sprinkle with basil immediately before serving.

The onions were so good, and I liked the tartness that the goat cheese added to the pizza.

Most of my guests tried a few different styles of pizza, and it was fun to pass them all around and ask which ones were the favorites. It’s one of those meals where you could easily keep trying and eating, but I made sure to tell everyone to keep a little room for dessert.

My friend Andrea made this pie for Justin and me when we went over to their house for dinner several  weeks ago and it was decadent. I asked for the recipe on the drive home from her house, and was excited to make it for my dinner party. There’s a little bit of pressure in making a pie that your friend has mastered, but thankfully this recipe couldn’t be more simple. I picked up some fresh organic strawberries from my ALDI trip to add to the top of the pie, but you can add any fruit you would like!

Of all the food that was made from this dinner, I’ve received more text messages from my friends about this pie than anything else.

Andrea’s Pie

10 minutes prep time, 10 minutes cook time, serves 8

1 graham cracker pie crust (store bought or make your own!)

8 oz Happy Farms cream cheese (at room temperature)

8 oz Cool Whip

1 tbsp Friendly Farms Organic milk

3/4 cup powdered sugar

sliced fruit of your choice

Mix the room temperature cream cheese, Cool Whip, Friendly Farms Organic milk and sugar together until there are no lumps. I used an electric mixer and this took about 1-2 minutes. Fill pie crust, top with fruit, and refrigerate until serving. 

As you can see, it couldn’t be more simple but it’s the kind of pie that will impress! I picked up fresh organic strawberries on my ALDI trip, but you can add any other fruit that you would like to the top of this pie!

The evening was relaxing and fun, full of laughter and good food. The recipes were quick and simple, and the fresh and delicious ingredients from ALDI that made the food that much better.

If you missed the first post about the drinks and salads, you can click here to go see it!

Comment below and share your great experience with ALDI for a chance to win a $250 Gift Card to ALDI!
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