Friday Faves

Hi there! Today I wanted to try something new, that I can hopefully keep up with every week! I wanted to share some of my favorite things or moments from the past week!

  • Favorite Splurge: While I was home this past week, I treated myself to a shellac manicure! I love getting my nails done, but don’t do it frequently at all. I love shellac because it doesn’t chip and lasts forever. I also tried something new, a little glitter/ombre action!
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  • Favorite Drink: Considering that I’m a 21 year-old college student, it might be a surprise that this isn’t an alcoholic beverage (pretty far from it actually). But lately I’ve been obsessed with the juices by Evolution Fresh (sold at Starbucks and some grocery stores). The Super Green flavor is my favorite!
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  • Favorite Moment: Over the weekend, my family and I visited my brother at his college (about an hour and a half from home). It was so fun to see him, and of course “his world” up at school. On the way home we took the scenic route, and stopped at a lookout over the Puget Sound . Even though it was rainy, how gorgeous is it?! I love the Pacific Northwest!
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  • Favorite New Find: So I know I’m WAY late to jump on this bandwagon, but I started the first season of House of Cards this week and love it! I can see now why everyone is crazy about it!
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  • Favorite Face: Look at this sweet face! How could you not love it!!! If you haven’t gathered, I’m pretty obsessed with her too. 
    ImageSo those are my favorites from this week! What were yours???? Xoxo,
    Lauren

Sausage Penne a la Vodka

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Hey there! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with you, sausage penne a la vodka! First things first… this technically is not a vodka sauce. And I know that. A traditional vodka sauces contain vodka (obviously) and usually a lot of cheese. But this is my Grandma’s “vodka sauce recipe, so I’ve always just called it that. Plus, “sausage penne a la vodka” has a better ring to it than “sausage penne a la tomato cream sauce.”

This is what I served as the main course of my Valentine’s Day dinner (the first course was a yummy mozzarella fondue), and per usual, it was a hit. Though I grew up typically eating marinara or meat sauces, this is easily my favorite now. I love the flavor that the sausage gives it, and it’s gorgeous when served with shaved parmesan and shredded basil. Also, I typically lean towards a turkey or chicken italian sausage, as it has a similar flavor with less fat/calories.

Sausage Penne a la Vodka (or tomato cream sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. italian sausage (if you purchase sausage links, make sure to remove the casings.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1, 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (with added puree)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Italian seasoning blend, salt and pepper, as needed
  • 1 lb. penne pasta (or any other kind you would like)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped or shredded
  • Freshly shaved parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add sausage and red pepper flakes. Sauté sausage for about five minutes (until no longer pink), breaking it up as it cooks.
  • Add onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender and the sausage is browned, about three to five minutes longer.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes and cream. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about three minutes.
  • Season the sauce with salt, pepper and/or italian seasoning to taste! I typically use at least a teaspoon or two of the Italian seasoning.
  • While you are making your sauce, cook your pasta (I usually start cooking the pasta about five minutes after I’ve started the sauce).
  • After your pasta is cooked and drained, toss with the sauce.
  • Garnish with basil and shaved parmesan. I use a vegetable peeler to shave the parm and it works wonders!

There you have it! This dish is guaranteed to please and impress, and the fact that it is super easy to throw together is a bonus! I hope you try and love it! Xo,

Lauren

Baked Mozzarella Fondue

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As promised, I’m back today sharing a recipe from the Valentine’s Day dinner I cooked this past week. When I was trying to brainstorm what I wanted to serve, I decided that I wanted to serve a multi-course meal (something I’ve never done), and that I wanted to keep an Italian theme throughout. I ended up making four courses, with the first one being an appetizer-type dish. I found a couple recipes online, and decided to improvise a recipe based on those I found.

Apparently the original recipe of this dish is copycat-type recipe from the Olive Garden’s Mozzarella Fonduta. I had never tried this though, so I was pretty curious as to how it would turn out. Well, I’m pleased to say it was incredibly delicious. Seriously, we probably would have been fine just eating this, I’m talking instant favorite. So without further adieu, here is my version of an oven-baked  mozzarella fondue!

Baked Mozzarella Fondue

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • 3 cups smoked provolone, shredded (I bought two packs of Sargento’s mozzarella/provolone blend, and then used two extra cups of mozzarella)
  • About 5 tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated (you may need a little extra sour cream).
  • Transfer the cheese mix to your baking dish (I used a 9×9 dish) and evenly spread it out.
  • Bake at 450 degrees (F) for 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  • After baking, I topped with some diced roma tomatoes (marinated in balsamic vinegar) and chopped basil!
  • Serve with crusty baguettes, or any other bread/cracker you would like! I made homemade baguettes using Laura Vitale’s recipe, and they were the perfect thing to accompany the yummy fondue!

There you have it! I hope that you give this recipe a try, and that you enjoy it when you do! Xo,

Lauren

Be Mine

For the long weekend, I decided that I would go home in order to spend Valentine’s Day/the long weekend with my family. This year my valentine was this adorable pup, and really I can’t complain!

Lexi

My parents are pretty low-key in terms of Valentine’s Day, but since I was home I  wanted to do something special for them. So I decided to cook them (what I thought was) a romantic dinner! Mind you, they had to deal with my company, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t mind. I’m kicking myself for not taking more pictures of it, but I was pretty proud of how it all turned out! I even printed out little menus (I got this template from pinterest), which made it feel a little more special than a typical dinner.

Though I probably should have posted this before Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d still go ahead and share the menu of what I made/served for each course.  I will be posting my recipes for a couple of  them later this week as well! Hopefully it will give you ideas if you’re cooking a romantic dinner for someone special (or even just your parents).

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Course one: Smoked Mozzarella fondue! I found a couple variations of this recipe online, but I’ll post my spin on it this week! To go with it I roasted some garlic in the oven and made homemade baguettes. Both were so delicious!

Course two: Classic caesar salad, with diced bacon and parmesan crisps. I make a homemade caesar dressing, but store bought would be just as good!

Course three: Sausage Penne a la Vodka Sauce. I will also post this recipe later this week!

Course four: Skillet cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I found this recipe through Pinterest about two years ago, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. Recipe courtesy of the Willow Bird Baking blog.

So that is how I spent my Valentine’s Day! Feel free to share how you spent yours!

Xo,

Lauren

Inspiration for the Week

ImageLately I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to please everyone, and in doing so, I feel like I’m not enjoying myself! I saw this little quote/picture on pinterest and really liked it, so I thought I would share. It is a good little reminder, and something I need to keep in mind more. Have a great week everyone!

Champions

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For those of you who don’t know, I was born and raised in Seattle. It is my favorite place in the world, and I have been a huge fan of the Seattle sports teams for as long as I can remember. In recent years I really made an effort to get into and understand football, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Going into this season, I knew that the Seahawks had something special. While I hoped this day would come, I wasn’t sure if it was too good to be true. But guess what? WE WON THE SUPER BOWL!

I am so happy for the Seahawks, this team deserves it more than any other (in my humble opinion, all biases aside). I’m so proud to be a Seahawk fan in general, but especially today. Congrats Hawks, you did it!!!

xo,

a loyal 12 (lauren)