I think if you were to define my weekend, it would be “my cleaning pants are on!”  Hannah and I always joked when she lived at home that while she always liked to clean, I had to be in the mood to clean, and the days I felt like putting on my “cleaning pants” she was never in the mood!  But, my pantry was a disaster, as was my fridge and two cupboard in my kitchen.  I guess you could call it “the shove method.”  I tend to just shove things in spots where they should go, thus hiding the things in back and you really don’t have any idea of what you have.  I should have taken a before picture, but let’s just say it was bad.  I knew there was wasted space and I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

Pinterest was my inspiration!  While I would love to some day afford to shop at the Container Store, my budget is more Walmart.  So after getting some ideas off of pinterest, I bought three canned good racks – $3.97 each, and one rack that had legs on it to be able to stack above and below for $4.97.   I basically took everything out of both the pantry and this two cabinets in the kitchen and emptied them completely out, deep cleaned them, vacuumed the bottom of the pantry and started with a clean slate.  I decided to dedicate the two cabinets in my kitchen to just baking goods – I never know where I put shit, so now hopefully I can keep the baking stuff contained to just two cabinets.

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What I discovered?  Um, I had FIFTEEN different kinds of pasta.  I put that on Instagram and said that if you see me buying any type of pasta in the grocery store, you have full permission to punch me in the face.  The other thing I discovered was that I had FOUR unopened bottles of ketchup.  I know I bought them because that’s the base for my Rudy’s Copycat BBQ sauce, but really?  I probably took a cursory look, couldn’t “see” that I had ketchup and bought more.  Gah!  I also discovered that I had a container of peanut butter pretzel nuggets.  Probably a month ago Tony made an offhand comment that he thought those would be good, so I bought them, but he hasn’t been in the mood since.  They are still unopened by the way – I’d knock that container down in a week – I can actually picture myself grabbing a handful every time I opened the pantry!  Hanging to the left are all my aprons, and on the right my reusable grocery bags that I nearly 100% of the time walk off without actually using them.

It started out chilly and overcast, but by the afternoon the sun came out and it got close to 50 degrees.  I’ll take it while we can get it – the cold air is coming this week.  I think Thursday our HIGH is 31.  Ouch.

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Tony wasn’t hungry, so I made whole wheat pasta with a simple Italian sausage ragu.  I have a teeny tiny secret to tell you.  While I love making homemade gravy, my go to canned pasta sauce?

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Yep, Hunt’s pasta sauce!  I just basically use it as a base and kick it up how I want it.  This time I sauteed about 2 ounces of Italian sausage, then when it was almost all the way cooked through added 3/4 cup of sauce, a cup of chopped baby spinach, oregano, crushed red peppers and a touch of salt and black pepper.  And Tony usually isn’t a fan of whole wheat pasta, so I had that.  Pure comfort with a glass of cabernet savignon on the side for a quick and easy Saturday night dinner.  And because I am a professional food photographer, I thought I’d leave it klassy and leave a dirty teaspoon in the background.  That’s kind of how I roll!

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Did you know that Hunt’s canned pasta sauce is also good for pizza?  I just mix in 1 tablespoon of tomato pasta for every 1/2 cup.  I love buying tubed tomato paste – no more waste!  So yesterday morning I decided to make a breakfast pizza.  I had leftover dough from Party Pizza Friday, the sauce, and then I found in the fridge some Banquet spicy breakfast sausage I forgot I bought.  Every once in a while my store sells that brand 10/$10.  So not bad at .10 each!  I nuked that for just 30 seconds and diced it and threw it on my pizza – 2 ounce pizza dough rolled out, 1/2 cup Hunts/tomato paste sauce, the diced sausage, baby spinach, mozzarella cheese and a whole raw egg on top.  Then sprinkled the whole thing with oregano, salt and pepper.

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Here’s a tip though if you’ve never cracked an egg on pizza for baking – it rolls around a lot, and you have to kind of crack it on one edge, because it will always start to roll off the other edge – you just have to push it back if it starts to roll off – you can see mine stopped right to the top edge.  Of course, I don’t like runny eggs, so my crust got a little more done than normal to ensure no runny egg, but I actually don’t mind that.

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I baked that at 425, but I think next time I’ll reduce the heat to 375 so the edges don’t get too cooked before the egg is cooked through to my liking.

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So here’s the deal though.  Um, turns out I know Tony wouldn’t eat most of the things I make, even before he was sick.  But now?  The smell of food makes him sick.  So at 11:00 a.m. yesterday morning, my cooking was done for the day.  Well, almost.  I decided to buy a rotisserie chicken and use that as my inspiration to make the least “cooked” menu items I could think of for myself this week.  I also plan on utilizing my crock pot at work, that way I won’t stink up the house.  I had plans on making a stove top stew with smoked polish sausage and German potato salad I had in the fridge – well, those ingredients plus more are coming to work with me to make soup for lunch today.

But back to dinner last night.  I decided to make this Asian Peanut Noodle dish for dinner.  The only thing I’d have to cook is the pasta, which wasn’t too smelly.  The rest came together really easily, and it chilled in the fridge in the late afternoon until I decided to eat it.  In the back room, so Tony didn’t have to see/smell it at all.

I did make some adaptations though.  First off – her original recipe was for 1 lunch portion.  Well that one lunch portion had two cups COOKED pasta – nearly 80 grams of carbs just in the pasta.  So I doubled the recipe, made it 4 servings and only used a 2 teaspoons of the sweet and spicy peanut sauce.  I imagine the leftovers of the sauce would be good to make a stir fry later on.


While it didn’t look as pretty, the taste was amazeballs.  I ended up using only 2 teaspoons of the sauce for my 1 cup portion, and it was perfect.  I don’t like overly sauced pasta.

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This was super light and refreshing.  I ended up chopping the cilantro at the end for some color.

And here we are back to Monday.  I zeroed out my Zero scale so my next weigh in will be in next Monday.  Since I had time to write most of this post yesterday, I have time to squeeze in a quick 30 minute walk before work – gotta got those Fitbit steps in.  Make it a great day!