Tag Archives: cooking

Roasted Garlic Butter Parmesan Potatoes

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Roasted Garlic Butter Parmesan Potatoes

Hello!! Memorial Day was the first week day that I have had off since the holiday season and it was wonderful! I caught up on paperwork, did very minimal other work, binge watched Top Shot with Johnny, and cooked up a storm. I cooked a few favorite recipes like mac n cheese and tried out something new by following Eatwell101’s recipe for Roasted Garlic Butter Parmesan Potatoes. While there were parts of this recipe I would change, Johnny freaking loved it so it was a GREAT SUCCESS in that regard! Check it out:

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This potato side dish recipe was insanely easy to make and took less than fifteen minutes of prep time to complete. All I had to do was chop the potatoes and garlic, melt some butter, and mix a few ingredients together for the sauce. Then, all that was left to do was pop it in the oven and wait. Even before I placed the dish in the oven, it smelled SO good and while it was cooking it smelled even better – our hungry selves were very eager to try it out!

As I said, Johnny was most pleased with the outcome of this recipe and asked me right away if I could make it again lol. That always makes me happy, regardless of if I liked it or not! I thought that the base of the recipe was great, but it wasn’t as flavorful as I had imagined it to be; especially considering the amount of garlic used and I even added some onion in for good measure. The next time I make this, I will be opting for fresh herbs (Which I didn’t have) as well as some lemon juice. I love lemon and Parmesan together and I think that it will help bring more of the flavors out that kind of got muddled.

As per Johnny’s request, I will be getting the ingredients for the Roasted Garlic Butter Parmesan Potatoes again for our next curbside order. I will also be getting my modification ingredients and am hoping it will be even better the next time around. This is a recipe worth trying and putting your own spin on too!

What is your favorite side dish? How did you spend Memorial Day? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Super Easy Baked Potato Dinner

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Super Easy Baked Potato Dinner

Hello! After a long stint of craziness in my life, I have finally found some extra time and energy in the evenings to cook again. It makes me so happy to be able to make dinner and mine and Johnny’s wallets have been happy because we haven’t had to DoorDash in weeks! Despite having the additional time to cook, that doesn’t mean I want to spend all evening cooking and if the meal takes longer than a half hour to make than I say forget about it lol. The same goes for if the recipe has a million ingredients because that’s a hassle and a half too!

With my time and ingredient limit in mind, I racked my brain for dinners that I could make fairly effortlessly when putting in my curbside order. I came up with several, one of them being baked potatoes. I cannot tell you the last time I have had one and as soon as I thought about it, I was craving them something fierce. This past week, I made a baked potato meal with all of the fixings for me and Johnny and my dad and brother and it turned out SO bomb. 20/10 would make again! Check it out:

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Although baked potatoes are crazy easy to make, I have never made them before. In my youth, I remember my parents just sticking the potatoes in the oven and calling it a day. I wanted to make the 2.0 version, however, and began consulting different websites to find the best way to make them. The resounding theme that I found was to coat the potatoes in olive oil and seasoning and bake it on a foil lined sheet. I did just that and coated the skins with salt, pepper, parsley, and rosemary and let them bake for about an hour at 425 degrees. Once they were close to being done, I steamed broccoli and dinner was ready to go.

The final result of my baked potato effort was a huge hit and everyone who I cooked for loved it. The oil and seasoning truly made all of the difference. The skin of the potato was so crisp and flavorful and the inside was soft and fluffy – they were the dictionary definition of “just right”. This meal required no skill or thinking, but it was the favorite thing that I have made for my captive audience in a minute. Often times, simple is best when it comes to making dinner and this is one that I would definitely make again soon!

I have been working hard at setting small goals for myself and cooking was at the top of my list. I am beyond thrilled that I am holding true to my goal and accomplishing it and the reward is everyone enjoying what I am making. That’s the best part of all! ❀

What is your favorite easy dinner to make? What is your go to baked potato toppings? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Setting Small Goals For GREAT SUCCESS

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Setting Small Goals For GREAT SUCCESS

Hello! I am one of those people that like to get things done immediately and do it well. However, in this current juncture of my life, everything has been overwhelming and I barely got things like cooking, cleaning, or self care done at all. After over two months of running myself ragged and being disappointed by things that I couldn’t do because I had no time or energy, I decided to make a change. Rather than attempting to do everything and doing nothing instead, I began setting small, achievable goals for myself to meet throughout the week.

This has been a most helpful change and I have had GREAT SUCCESS already. Although the pace I am getting things done at is leisurely, I am now getting them done and I feel great about it. Here are some of the ways that I have switched things up:

Cooking:

When things were falling apart, cooking was the first thing that plummeted. This was no good for me because I love to cook and DoorDash is expensive! I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working and set the goal for myself to make easy meals on the days that I am home early. Yes, I was tired once home but eating actual food is important and I found that I had more energy once I was done cooking because I was finally enjoying myself. Now, I am making dinner at least three times a week with plenty of leftovers for off days and I am really proud of that! There is also nothing better than seeing how happy Johnny is whenever I’m in the kitchen and eagerly asking what I’m making. ❀

Cleaning:

In my perfect world, I would be able to dedicate an entire morning and afternoon to cleaning the apartment. However, I simply don’t have the time to do that. So, I started small. I have begun texting Johnny in the mornings about his designated chores he could do when he gets home and I take care of everything else that needs done throughout the week. I now have Wednesday as my set morning to do laundry, cleaning toilets on Thursday (just like my mom’s chore schedule lol), and using spare time to declutter in sections. Breaking the chores up into a manageable schedule has really helped to turn the apartment around and it feels good to return home without immediately spotting glaring issues to clean!

Leisure:

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnny and I used to love doing things on week nights. Dinner out, going for walks, or catching an early movie at the theater. That seems so long ago, but it was so nice to have fun things to look forward to during the work week. Together, we decided that now would be a perfect time to get back into this habit – especially since the weather is beautiful! We don’t plan on going crazy with plans and like the theme of this post, we are starting small. I suggested a hike at least once a week in one of the many Metro Parks we live by and having the occasional dinner on our balcony. This is a change we will be implementing this week because Johnny worked crazy overtime hours last week. I’m excited to go out and do things with my husband again and a hike seems like an easily accomplish-able way to start.

Although everything still kind of sucks right now, I am feeling much better by setting goals and reaching them. By breaking tasks up into smaller pieces, I have been doing more of the things I love and the things that are necessary. It’s a minor change, but one that I am so pleased with and will be sticking to from now on!

How do you make adulting more manageable? What is something that you are proud of? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Peanut Tofu With Coconut Rice

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Peanut Tofu With Coconut Rice

Hello!! The past almost three months of my life have been absolutely insane and one thing that fell by the wayside at home was cooking. After returning home from long days at the Cleveland Clinic, it was so much easier to DoorDash something or throw frozen food in the air fryer and call it a day. However, DoorDash was adding up and I was SO sick of not being able to make dinner because it’s one of my favorite things to do. I decided to really make an effort to begin cooking again with this past curbside order and I have been holding true to it.

On Tuesday, I made peanut tofu with coconut rice for my dad and me because Johnny hates both tofu and peanut butter lol. I have had this recipe by Nora Cooks saved on Pinterest for forever and was eager to finally try it out. It turned out pretty good and I would definitely make it again with a few adjustments. You can view the recipe here! Now, let’s get to it:

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When I am looking for new recipes on Pinterest, I save the ones that don’t require a ton of ingredients and are simple and fast to make. The peanut tofu with coconut rice met all of these requirements and delivered on what was promised – a meal made in thirty minutes. The prep work for this recipe was insanely minimal and the only things that needed chopped were the tofu and garlic. The rest of the tasks were stirring ingredients for the sauce, cooking instant rice, and throwing the tofu into the oven to bake. It was SO easy and the rice and sauce were made with time to spare while the tofu cooked for twenty-five minutes.

Although Johnny can’t stand peanut butter, he told me how good it smelled while I was cooking and it really did. By the time everything was ready, I was beyond ready to dig in! For a first try, I thought that this dish turned out as good as it could have. But, there were some things that I didn’t like. The sauce, for example, had ingredients in it like ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce, but all I could really taste was the peanut butter. I prefer when peanut sauce has a bit of bite to it so next time around, I will be adding some sesame oil and vinegar for more variety in the flavor.

This recipe turned out very saucy and when I make it again, I will add some veggies to absorb all of the excess. I plan on using steamed broccoli and sauteed yellow pepper and onion. This will also give the meal some more texture because it was fairly one dimensional. Be warned that this dish is very rich between the peanut butter and coconut milk used – I was full after a small serving!

While there are things that I will be changing in this recipe for the next time I make it, it is still one worth trying out and putting your own spin on. I am looking forward to making my 2.0 version soon!

Are you a tofu fan or no? Have you tried any new recipes recently? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Updated Vegetarian Cheesy Gordita Crunches

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Updated Vegetarian Cheesy Gordita Crunches

Hello!! Last year, I began making vegetarian cheesy gordita crunches as an homage to my beloved Taco Bell. It has become a staple in mine and Johnny’s dinner arsenal ever since, which is fine by me because they are so yummy and crazy easy to make. Also, can we talk about how freaking expensive Taco Bell is now? What used to be a constant in my life has quickly become an every once in a while thing because of it. While it saddens me deeply, I have upgraded my at home gordita game quite a bit and truly consider it to be a Taco Bell taste alike. Check it out:

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^^^ Note that Taco Bell doesn’t use sour cream on their gorditas. I love it though and the Daisy sour cream squeeze bottle is perfect for tacos!

Although I miss TBell something fierce, I do find comfort in the fact that some of their products are available in grocery stores like the taco seasoning and Baja sauce. It takes the edge off, but only slightly lol. I have already been using both of these when making my gordita crunches and the real game changer happened when I discovered Old El Paso made nacho cheese shells. My mind was blown during my last curbside order and so was Johnny’s! The nacho cheese cheesy gordita crunch is his go to order at Taco Bell. πŸ™‚

When I made this dish last week, it was definitely the best ever. I love to cook, but I have never made anything that I considered to be even remotely close to a restaurant or fast food chain before. What made it even better was how simple it was to make. This dinner took under a half hour to prepare with minimal work involved. All I did was make the taco meat for Johnny, heat up vegetarian refried beans for me, and melt cheese lol. This is a meal that I am so fine cooking regardless of how busy my day is and the leftovers turn into more easy peasy dinners throughout the week. You can’t beat that!

With some upgraded ingredients, I was able to invoke the taste of Taco Bell from the comfort of my own kitchen. Even if the prices of TBell went down, I will absolutely still be making my taste alike cheesy gordita crunches at home! πŸ˜€

Do you have any restaurant or fast food taste alike recipes? What is your favorite dinner to cook? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Simple Dinner: Homemade French Bread Pizza

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Simple Dinner: Homemade French Bread Pizza

Hello! My life is pretty crazy at the moment and it can be hard to find the time and energy to do much of anything once I return home for the day. One thing that always makes me feel good no matter how tired I am, though, is cooking dinner when I can. Earlier in the week, Johnny and I put in a curbside shopping order filled with all of our essentials and ingredients for me to make meals with. As soon as all of our groceries were put away, I got to work making homemade French bread pizzas as I wanted to use the loaf of bread we got at its freshest. They turned out SO good!

The cheese doesn’t look as melted as it actually was in these pictures and I will definitely keep them in the oven longer the next time around. I just didn’t want the pizzas to burn because I accidentally broiled them a bit too long in the first step. That was my bad because I actually should have baked it instead of broiled lol WHOOPS! Check it out:

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Ingredients:

1 loaf of French bread

Pizza sauce

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Butter

Garlic powder

Toppings

Step One: When I made jalapeno popper bread, I learned from the recipe to bake the bread with a melted butter and garlic powder spread to keep it from getting too hard. This was very effective and it kept the inside of the French bread soft and the outside nice and crisp. And, I repeat, BAKE not broil lol smh.

Step Two: Once the bread was taken out of the oven, I added pizza sauce, pepperoni for Johnny, and cheese, then put it back in the oven again to bake. Because of the broil catastrophe, I was monitoring my creation pretty closely and made the executive decision to take them out early. The cheese could have melted more, but it was an overall great first try!

Step Three: Enjoy!

This was such an easy and yummy dinner to make and was a fun twist on regular old pizza night. I really enjoyed my cheese French bread pizza and I know that Johnny loved his pepperoni ones because he asked me to make it again as soon as he was done eating. This is the best stamp of approval of all because my sweet husband is a fairly picky eater! I kept things simple in terms of toppings, but next time French bread pizza is on the menu, I will add some green pepper and red onion to mine; My favorite!

What is your favorite pizza topping? What is your go to simple dinner to make? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Super Yummy Jalapeno Popper Bread

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Super Yummy Jalapeno Popper Bread

Hello!!! Things have been crazy and stressful in Lil Red’s world and, thankfully, there appears to be a clearing in the woods. This past Thursday, I was so happy to finally have the time to cook something! Despite loving to cook for Johnny and myself, it is often one of the first things that falls by the wayside when life gets too busy. I have several recipes that I bought groceries for and decided to keep things simple by making some jalapeno popper bread. It was SO easy, cheesy, and delicious and I wanted to share it with all of you for a meal or snack that took barely ten minutes to prepare! Check it out:

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This recipe is compliments of Kami at NoBiggie and can be found on this link!

One of mine and Johnny’s favorite meals is jalapeno popper quesadillas. Naturally, we like any variation of cheese and jalapenos so when I saw the recipe for jalapeno popper bread on Pinterest, I was eager to try it out! When scouring for new food to make on Pinterest, I like to find recipes with minimal ingredients and prep time. The popper bread recipe boasted both of these requirements with only eight ingredients, ten minutes of prep, and about fifteen minutes of baking. I could definitely swing that!

To make my popper bread, I purchased a gorgeous loaf of artisan cheese bread from Giant Eagle’s bakery. I already had several of the ingredients listed, but I was also in need of pickled jalapenos and found a jar of sweet heat ones that were really tasty. To start, I cut the bread in half and brushed it with melted butter and garlic powder and let it bake for five minutes. During that time, I mixed up the mozzarella cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and jalapenos to top it off with. This spread was then applied to the bread and it went back into the oven to bake. Done and done.

While the bread baked, I monitored it pretty closely because our oven has the habit of burning things as soon as your back is turned. It was so satisfying to watch the ooey gooey cheese bubble and brown and it couldn’t bake fast enough; I was starving! I knew that the bread was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be freaking mind blowing. The cheese mixture had the consistency and flavor of a white pizza, the jalapenos added some kick, and the bread was crisp without being tough. It was SO yummy and filling too. I was full after a one third size piece!

I would happily make this recipe again and cannot recommend it enough. In fact, I plan on buying another loaf of bread to use up the rest of the ingredients as soon as we are out of leftovers. Thanks again to Kami of NoBiggie for sharing this!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Do you have a favorite food blogger? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Indian Cooking Class At Stir Studio Kitchen

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Indian Cooking Class At Stir Studio Kitchen

Hello! Indian food is one of my favorite things to eat, but is something that I have never tried to cook before. Sure, I have recipes for some of the dishes I like on Pinterest, however, I never took the plunge to buy the ingredients. Some of them are pretty expensive and I could never justify it before because Johnny isn’t an Indian food fan (He never tried it and never wanted to!). This all changed this past weekend, however, because I learned how to make some Indian dishes at a cooking class and, surprisingly, Johnny loved the leftovers! With this newfound knowledge, maybe I will prepare Indian food at home yet! Check it out:

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On Friday, my aunt and I both attended a three hour Indian cooking class at Stir Studio Kitchen in Hudson. There were ten students in total and we were taught by a very skilled chef named Zack. During our class, we learned how to make naan, tikka masala, and palak paneer. We were also treated to kulfi ice cream for dessert made by our teacher. The class was amazing and while it was fun to cook, it was even more fun to enjoy the meal we made together – we were all starving by the time everything got plated up!

To begin our class, we prepared the dough for the naan, which was incredibly easy and moved onto veggie prep while the dough settled. While we all had our individual naan, the veggies we chopped would go into the tikka masala and palak paneer for us to share. For these dishes, we chopped up onion, garlic, red pepper, chili pepper, ginger, and tomato. Zack also taught us about the proper techniques for using a chef’s knife as well as tips and tricks for easier, more efficient veggie prep. My mind was blown when we set the garlic underneath the knife blade, hit it, and it unpeeled. πŸ˜€

As our veggies cooked, Zack introduced us to all of the spices that we would be using. We had to try and guess all of them and while the group was able to identify several, there were many that left us stumped! This was a very interesting section and one of my favorites. Zack was such a knowledgeable and fun teacher and it was cool to learn about the spices and where they came from and why they are used. Throughout the class, Zack taught us all about the chemistry that makes the ingredients activate with each other and it was so neat to learn about food in a completely different way.

Once our crash course on spices was complete, it was time to roll out our dough for the naan and bake it. To do this, we fried them on a completely dry cast iron pan with a bit of flour on it. Then, we spread a mixture of butter, chives, and garlic over top to create the final product. While other students were baking their naan, I got to help Zack out by using an immersion blender on the tikka masala and that was a hoot! As a vegetarian, I got to taste test it before chicken got added and a special dish was set aside for me so I could have it with chickpeas. It was delicious and made me even hungrier!

While everyone finished up with their naan, Zack began to plate up our food with jasmine rice and all that was left to do was eat! When it comes to my Indian food order from my favorite restaurant, The Saffron Patch, I always get the same thing because it’s too good not to. I have tried palak paneer and tikka masala before, but it has never been as yummy as this! The tikka masala was spicy and bold and the palak paneer had a cooler heat that paired beautifully together. I liked the palak paneer the best and, of course, the homemade naan was divine.

By the time our dessert of kulfi ice cream was passed out, everyone was bursting at the seams partially from fullness and pride at our handiwork. Under Zack’s expertise, we created a meal together that was better than any restaurant I have ever been to. I enjoyed my experience at Stir so much and would happily take another class there again!

Have you attended a cooking class before? What did you make? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Build Your Skills: Learn How To Cook

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Build Your Skills: Learn How To Cook

If there is one thing you should get to adulthood knowing how to do, it’s learning to cook. There are many things that people have in common and we all need food. It’s not just food, though, we need nutritious and nourishing food to make sure that our bodies are healthy and have enough energy to get moving.

Who doesn’t enjoy a delicious dinner? And who doesn’t enjoy the pride that comes with being able to prepare it yourself? You can learn to make pizza if you want to, or you could learn to make a truffle risotto, the point is you’ll be learning to cook for yourself. If what you are eating right now is not satisfying you and is draining your pockets because it’s mostly convenience food, then you need to go back to basics and learn how to cook properly. Why? Let’s discuss:

Build Connections:

Cooking and going out to eat helps you to connect with the people that you love. If you think about special occasions, it’s likely that your mind first turns to food before anything else. It has that extraordinary power to link people together and there’s nothing better than either having someone cook for you or cooking somebody something all by yourself. What did you feel the last time somebody cooked something delicious for you? If it made you feel special, then you know that learning how to cook is going to make other people feel that way too.

There’s So Much to Learn:

If you learn how to cook, you could make any cuisine from any country in the world. If you know how to read, you can learn how to cook; and if recipe books aren’t your thing, there are countless video resources to help you too. Whether you are cooking Mexican food or French, or you go with something very simple from scratch, you’re going to feel accomplished as a result.

Save Money:

Eating out can be extremely expensive, and if you learn to cook you’re not going to have to worry about constant takeout for dinner. Cooking your own meals will save you some money so when times are tight, you can recreate your favorite dishes in your own kitchen.

Be a Well Rounded Adult:

Knowing how to cook is an important life skill. Just being able to cook the simplest dishes is a good start. Being a well rounded adult means knowing how to wash your clothes, clean your home, and the basics of hygiene, but it also means knowing how to cook for yourself too.

Unleash your inner Top Chef and begin learning how to cook today. PS – A cooking class would make for a fun and unique Valentine’s Day date!

Featured Image By: Pexels

Worst Oven Pizza Ever!

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Worst Oven Pizza Ever!

Hello! Johnny and I consider ourselves to be oven pizza connoisseurs. It is my go to when I don’t feel like cooking and it is Johnny’s favorite thing to make so that he feels like he’s cooking lol! I recently saw a commercial for a Digiorno pizza that had the entire crust (not just the edges) stuffed with cheese and it really blew my mind. I told Johnny about it and he decided to investigate when he ran some errands. Unfortunately, the pizza was only available in pepperoni and that wouldn’t do for my vegetarian self. So, Johnny purchased the Digiorno for him and this for me:

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I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the show Community but there was a character named Leonard who was a senior citizen and attending the community college. He had a vlog in which he reviewed different oven pizzas and would declare it to be “a buy” if he liked it. Lol, while lifewithlilred is not turning into a pizza blog any time soon, I just had to get my Leonard on one time for the one time because the Red Baron pizza Johnny got for me sucked on ice!

When my sweet husband returned from his shopping, he was so proud of himself for the substitution of the Red Baron Fully Loaded Five Cheese Pizza. And, I have to admit, it looked awesome and I couldn’t wait to pop it into the oven. After it was cooked, it was still looking good with all of that glorious cheese. Then, I had to cut it and it ended up being a very difficult feat. I kid you not, this pizza was literally all crust. *Face palm*

Once I freed some slices and plated it up, I lost most of my original zest for testing this pizza out. And, I don’t blame myself one bit because it was the worst. The crust was so thick that it tasted like eating a brick with a thin layer of sauce and cheese on top. I had to douse it in Ranch dressing to soften it up – it was that bad. The Red Baron truly missed the mark with this one and I couldn’t even bring myself to eat the leftovers, which is something I pride myself on. If only the crust were stuffed with cheese like Johnny’s pizza because he was living his best life with his!

lifewithlilred is all about giving honest reviews on products and I guess that goes for pizza too! Haha, I just felt obligated to warn all of my oven pizza fans out there about this epic failure before buying it. You’ll thank me later when you are enjoying an oven pie with a normal sized crust!

What is your favorite brand of oven pizza? What do you make (Or order!) when you don’t feel like cooking? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah