Recipe ~ Balsamic Penne with Asparagus

Balsamic Penne with Asparagus

We came up with this one out of necessity. You see, we were shopping at Trader Joe’s and swore we were running out of balsamic vinegar so we got a big old jug. Well, we were in fact running low on the bottle that we had open, but we had already bought a replacement a while back! Oops! So naturally we are trying to use some balsamic. I remember ordering a dish similar to this at an Italian restaurant around here so we decided to give something similar a shot.

Disclaimer: you should be a fan of balsamic vinegar if you are going to make this dish.

This recipe is completely vegetarian and is super healthy! The only photo you get is the one above, since we didn’t think to make it a post until after. It’s just so dang delicious that we had to share!

Recipe ~ Balsamic Penne with Asparagus

Recipe type: Entree
Author: Look Before Spending
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. pasta (any kind)
  • 1-1.5 lb asparagus (broccoli works great here too!)
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (leave the 3/4 measuring cup about 1 tbsp shy of being full)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Begin by simmering the balsamic vinegar (turn on kitchen vents!)
  2. After about 5 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. Cut 1-2 inches off of the ends of asparagus and place on a baking sheet
  4. pour olive oil over asparagus and hit with a dash of salt and pepper
  5. Boil water for pasta
  6. Right after you put the Asparagus into the oven, start cooking the pasta. Each should take around 10 minutes.
  7. Continue reducing the balsamic until there is about 3-4 tbsp left.
  8. If the pasta finishes before the balsamic, remove, strain and put back in pot.
  9. Add the butter to the pasta.
  10. Add the roasted asparagus to the butter and pasta
  11. When the balsamic is reduced, remove from head and stir while adding the brown sugar and a dash of black pepper
  12. Pour balsamic onto pasta with butter and asparagus and mix until everything is incorporated.
  13. Top with Parmesan cheese to taste
  14. That’s it!

There ya go! The key to this recipe is timing. You’ve got to start the balsamic reduction 5-10 before everything else. Keep the stove on medium low for the reduction and stir often. This recipe is absolutely delicious. Of course, if you like balsamic. If not, you may want to try something else.

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Earn Gift Cards and Freebies from Recyclebank Just for Doing the Right Thing

earn gift cards

Have you heard of Recyclebank? It’s a great program where you can earn gift cards, free magazines and high value coupons just by doing the right thing. At Recyclebank, you’ll learn how to help the environment by watching videos about being green and participating in activities. Everything on Recyclebank has a common theme – be good to mother Earth. Who can argue with that!? Plus, they want to let us earn gift cards and other stuff? Count me in!

When you first visit Recyclebank, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful website where you can start earning points right away. Click the handy “Earn Points” tab to get started!

There, you’ll be able to earn rewards by partaking in fun activities, taking informing quizzes, entering codes from select products and more! The points are very easy to earn, and new users can earn enough to get a free magazine within minutes of joining. While we’re on the topic of joining, do that here! After you join, you’ll get access to your own referral link under the “Earn Points” tab. With that, you can get your friends and family to sign up. For every person you get to join through your link, you’ll get a bonus of 25 points!

Additional tip: while you’re browsing around their site, keep your eyes on the sides. What look like ads are often ways to earn 5-10 points by completing one-question quizzes or other quick tasks.

As far as the rewards go, they cycle through a lot of different redemption options. The more consistent rewards are the magazine rewards. Magazine offers start at as low as 100 points! For that amount, you can get a full subscription to Good Housekeeping magazine! Getting magazines in the mail is way more fun when you know that you got them for free! They also have a slew of coupons available at all times, although they can change from week to week. Occasionally they will have McDonalds coupons, Macy’s coupons and other major name brand coupons. Usually they only cost a handful of points too! Those trying to “go big” with their rewards can save up for the gift cards. We don’t do this, as one $10 gift card costs more points than 10 magazine subscriptions. Plus, we don’t have the patience! :)

So why will you join? To earn gift cards or for the free magazines and great coupons?

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Grocery Shopping Tip ~ Look for Peel Off Coupons

peel off coupons
We’ve got a very easy and basic way for you to save some money at the grocery store. If you’re a regular coupon user, the existence of peel off coupons will not exactly be breaking news to you. However, if you’re new to the coupon game, this is one of the easiest ways to get started.

When you’re shopping, simply keep your eye out for coupons attached to certain products. Looking for crackers? Before you grab what you want, look at the boxes and see if you can spot a coupon on one of them! It’s a common occurrence and is a very easy way to save money right away! Some examples of peel off coupons are pictured above.

Note: keep an eye on the expiration date of products with peel-off coupons on them. Some stores such as Rite Aid put this type of coupon on products that are soon to be expired to try and move them out of their store.

Now, the intent of these peel off coupons is that you use them right then, on that purchase. So don’t go around peeling off all of the coupons and taking them home.

You’ll also want to make sure that you are not holding coupons that are a better value for those products. That’s how we wound up with the products pictured above which still have coupons attached. We left the coupons on in case we want to use them later, which is certainly acceptable to do.

Anyway, that’s a really simple way that you can save a few bucks without having to do any planning at all!

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Did You Know #1 ~ Where to Store Onions

store onions

Onions are on sale at a local grocery store of ours for 4 pounds for a buck! That got us thinking…

Do you know where the best place is to store onions?

Onions are a staple in pretty much any household that cooks their own meals. They are a base for countless meals. We have a few onions at our house at all times. A while ago, we were having issues with buying onions in bulk because the last few would always rot before we could get to them. Well, that was before we learned the proper ways to store onions.

Did you know storing onions in the refrigerator is not the best method?
Store onions in a cool, dry place such as a pantry in their mesh bags, or another breathable bag. It may sound strange, but pantyhose work great for storing onions. Drop one in, twist it around a few times and drop another. Continue doing this until the hose are full!

Also, don’t store onions next to potatoes, as potatoes emit moisture and certain gases that can cause the onions to rot very quickly. This explains the 3 day old rotten onions we found last year. :/

Additional tip: you can also dice/chop and freeze onions. They will keep for several months and will cook up really nice right from the freezer.

Did you know the best way to store onions?

Were you storing onions properly?

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