Chili's® At Home = Best Frozen Food

* Thank you to

Bellisio Foods

for sponsoring this post and keeping my meals tasty and bold! *

If you haven't been able to tell, my new job (i.e. my new schedule) has been keeping me busy. Sorry about that, but believe me I'm trying my best to get it together for you. Thankfully that's really the only downside to this new chapter in my life. Everything else has been great and has added boldness and excitement to my life. So when I was offered the opportunity to try

 big, bold and tasty flavors of Chili’s® at Home

I got very excited since it fit my bold new (and busy) lifestyle. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first because it is after all a frozen dinner, but I remember how much I enjoyed going to Chili's for lunch dates with Michael during college and couldn't resist.

Chili's® at Home in the Frozen Foods Aisle, yumm! (And on sale!)

Chili's® at Home

offers quite a selection of the restaurant's favorites. Me being a sucker for mac n' cheese, quickly decided on getting the Bacon Mac N' Cheese and the Pepper Jack Mac N' Cheese. Once I got to the store, my gut told me to go with the latter (Michael and me have a thing for pepper jack cheese that goes back to when we first started dating), so I did. I got the individual sized option because that's the only choice the Pepper Jack Mac N' Cheese comes in, but since Ralph's had it 2/$6 my sister got the Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl entrée, which she has yet to try.

Step 1: Take it out of the Box

Step 2: Microwave for 3 minutes, 'cause ain't nobody got time for the oven :P

Step 3: Mix the pasta and sauce, then put back in the microwave for a minute and a half

I love how easy it was to make and how it felt like I was literally having 

Chili's Restaurant food at home

, not a frozen meal dinner.  Like I said, my new job keeps me busy. I get off right around dinner time then spend about 30+ minutes in traffic. You can imagine that after a long day (I leave everyday at 7:30 am), the last thing I want to do is make dinner, but the one thing I want when I get home is to eat a delicious dinner. Sometimes I'm lucky and my mom has dinner waiting for me, but there are nights when she is off running errands or at church or simply didn't have time to make dinner and so then I have to put something together. Most often it's eggs or a quesadilla, but nothing too rich. I need something easy, but I also crave something full of flavor. So this was a blessing.

Now that I've tried

Chili's® at Home frozen foods

, I have another option for those nights where I just want dinner ASAP! Not only that, but instead of my very humble eggs or quesadilla, that still take a while to make and also require more work than the microwave, I can easily just pop one of these in the microwave and voilá! I can't believe I'm saying this either since I usually don't care for frozen dinners, but this is hands down the

best frozen food meals

I've ever tried. Dare I say, it tastes better than Kraft's?! What surprised me most is that it's didnt get crusty or greasy looking like other frozen food I've had the misfortune of eating. Instead it was as creamy as the restaurant's or even as if it had been homemade.

It doesn't mean that I will be eating this all the time, but at least it's an option for when I'm too tired/lazy to make food or we simply skipped the trip to the grocery store. And if you don't believe how much I enjoyed my bold frozen food, let the following (silly) photos be proof:

Ready for my first bite

Bold flavors meeting my taste buds

Happiness in my belly!

Want to see what other

big, bold and tasty flavors of Chili's® at Home

 meals? Head to the

Chili's® at Home

 webpage to see what they are and let me know in the comments below which ones you'd want to try or have tried. Better yet, post a link to your favorite frozen meal to help me on days I just want to eat already... and make my life easier so you get more posts ;)

Love,

Astrid

Mini Trip to Ojai

So I hope you guys are enjoying the new layout. I know I kept constantly changing it this weekend, but I will try to fight the urge to change it. I just can't seem to settle for the look I want, so I'll see what you guys end up liking best, after all this blog is all for you :)

Anyway, I finally had my sinus situation controlled today and was able to take a little trip to Ojai with one of my Meetup book groups. Even though it was still a bit rainy, it was still a nice day to drive out to Bart's Books, an outdoor independent bookstore.

Bart's books, Ojai
{Source: Me}
Inside (well within the bookstore) there were tons of books and they even had a classics room where my friend Vanessa managed to get an almost mint condition of H.G. Wells The Invisible Man for only $12.  It is a pretty cool store just for the fact that it is all outdoors, but no worries the books are covered, so they weren't wet or anything. It is also nice that the store takes credit cards so you don't have to worry if you didn't bring cash with you. Here are a few pictures of the "inside":


Bart's books, ojai, travel
{Source: Me}

Bart's books, ojai, travel
{Source: Me}

Bart's books, ojai, travel
{Source: Me}



Bart's books, ojai, travel
{Source:Me}
Isn't it cute? I don't know about you, but I like being able to drive an hour or so away from L.A. and take mini trips to quirky places like this one. I am still in awe that this bookstore exists and so grateful Vanessa suggested a visit to it. And if you are asking if I resisted buying more books, you are wrong LOL. I mean who can resist buying books from such a unique place AND at a discount. So this is what I got for $26 (sorry for the bad pic):

{Source: Me}
I had wanted to read The Help, The Weird Sisters and Girls in White Dresses for a while and Vanessa suggested Defending Jacob since we were discussing mystery novels at the bookstore. I still can't believe what I paid for all for since each is about $15 at retail price. Anyway that wasn't the only thing we did in Ojai. After everyone had gotten their books( it was 8 of us), we decided to go look for the strawberry shortcake place my sister had told me to check out, she swore it was the best she's ever had, and it seems she was right, 'cause it was delicious (Yes I detoured from the 21 day fix a bit).

My sister didn't remember the name of the restaurant however, so we had to search for it on Yelp, which wasn't hard to do as it seemed to be pretty popular. So off we went to Boccali's, which was equally as cute, and had some great views of the mountains that surround Ojai. The only downside to this cute little joint is that they only take cash or check, so do come prepared if you make the trip. 

This picture does not do the mountains justice.


The girls admiring the mountain view while waiting for our table. 

Their Specials menu outside their door.

Yummy Minestrone soup.

And the reason we ended up at Boccali's...The Strawberry Shortcake
Overall, it was a pretty fun min trip out of the city. It is completely doable in a day and we all had a great time discussing books, the latest fashion in glasses, and catching up on what else is going on in each other's life. Also, even with the rain, Ojai is beautiful no matter what. I will definitely be going back, especial when it gets a bit warmer since Ojai also has some amazing hiking trails. So if you live  in Southern California, say L.A. or are visiting, I would 100% recommend you make a trip to Ojai for some deeply discounted books and the best Strawberry Shortcake in the area. 

Love,
Astrid



Day 3 in NYC: Lady Liberty, 9/11 Memorial and Little Italy.


Sorry for taking so long to write again. After my first few weeks in NYC things at school got super busy and crazy. I was also trying to avoid that roommate of mine from reeling me into social events with her friends (most likely AARP members). Anyway, on day 3 of being a tourist in NYC my mom, sister and me decided it was time to pay a little visit to good 'ole Lady Liberty. First step was to take the train down to battery park and going into this little fort which is officially called the Clinton Castle National Monument in order to buy our tickets to board the ferry to Liberty Island. Once we had our tickets, it was time to start our adventure. 

View of Manhattan from the Ferry
My beautiful sister on the Ferry with Lady Liberty in the background. 


Although the Ferry ride was quite windy, it was also quite calming and had some great views of the city. However it was a bit muggy that day so they came out a bit gloomy. I also had fun trying to take some pictures of my sister. I got some great shots, but sadly due to my camera having no auto focus and sometimes being a bit difficult to get into focus, especially on a swaying ferry, they came out blurry. Finally though, we got to Liberty Island to take in the glory that is the Statue of Liberty. It might be one of the most touristy things we did while we explored the city, but it was still such an amazing moment. I also had a lot of requests to visit it by friends back home LOL. Below are pictures my sister and me took in front of it. 


The city on the fairy ride bac

On the island we of course went to the gift shop and I believe my sister might have picked out a few souvenirs for friends, but I honestly don't remember specifically what. One thing we were kind of surprised by was that we expected the statue to be taller, but still it's a must-see no matter what. On the Ferry back to the city, I took this picture of a foggy Manhattan skyline and that building you see towering above the rest of them on the left is the next place we decided to pay a visit to. That building is where the Twin towers were, what use to be the World Trade Center, which is now being rebuilt. As Americans who remember waking up to that horrific day, we though it was important to visit.


Plaque near the WTC paying tribute to 9/11

The building being built as the new WTC and that tells you were the Twin Towers stood. 
The most noticeable part of the 9/11 memorial is this tall oddly shaped building that is going to be part of the new World Trade Center (at least this is how I understood it). After we got our tickets to get in, which are free by the way, it was a bit confusing to find the entrance as apparently there are quite  a few ways to enter or that's what the signs make you believe. We finally found the right entrance though and had to go through security to enter the memorial. Upon entering you see two big fountains, like the one below, where the Twin Towers use to stand and they have rows of those who lost their lives that day. We all took a picture in front of the fountains and the reason we aren't smiling is that we wanted to show we were honoring their memories rather then just posing in front of a tourist spot. It was quite emotional for me to be there as I'm sure it is for most people who visit. 




After leaving the towers we decided to end the day on a light note by heading to nearby Little Italy. This is probably to date, one of my favorite places in NYC by the way and this is the night I fell in love with it. It was again, a bit tough to find, as seems to be the motto for most NYC spots LOL. But alas after wandering a bit through Chinatown, we found it and it was awesome.



 The first thing we noticed, people eating. Now keep in mind it was close to dinner time when we arrived and the food looked so good, but we had already had a late lunch so we decided to skip the restaurants and walk around. We also didn't know where to eat as there seemed to be restaurant upon restaurant filled with people eating alongside the sidewalk tables.





I took that opportunity to take snap shots of my sister and the stores. Finally we asked a girl at the store and she recommended getting cannolis at Ferrara's. I'm so happy she told us about it because OMG the cannolis and other desserts were delicious!!! I just had to take a picture though and I'm glad my phone died and forced me to use my camera instead. Now I say this because most food pics I use to take only with my phone since I usually only take them to post to Instagram lol. Thankfully this allowed me to discover that I am pretty darn good at photographing food and now know that I can always have a backup career as a food photographer LOL. 

My Trio of cannoli, eclair and fruit tart

My sister's cannoli

My Mocha drink (I forget the specific name sorry)

My sister's cappuccino (I think)

And my favorite, Gelato

Needless to say, once we finally headed home we were exhausted after a day of adventure and went to bed pretty much right away. It was definitely one of my favorite days in the city and as I write this I realized I need to go back there again, especially since I've been finding myself in nearby Tribeca quite a lot lately. Anyway, I apologize again for taking so long to write this post even though I had all the pictures and stuff ready. Like I said, school kept me busy and tired, but as the semester comes to an end and my time in NYC will soon be over, I will try to get up to speed with what I had planned in the coming days/weeks. Thank you for being patient and hope you enjoy the post.

Thanksgiving stuffed, but still full of love,
until the next post,
Astrid