Sausage Penne a la Vodka

pasta1

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

Advertisements

Baked Mozzarella Fondue

Image

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

Last Minute Halloween Costumes: Three Blind Mice

Okay guys, I’m pretty excited for this next costume. I’ve already showed you my peacock and burglar costumes, but I think this one might be my favorite. When I couldn’t think of a costume I wanted to wear for night 3 of Halloween, a couple of friends suggested we do a group costume! We brainstormed a few ideas, and then I had an epiphany… “We should be the three blind mice!” My friends were on board, and it was a done deal. Plus, it will probably the easiest costume I ever have to come up with.

We decided to take advantage of what we already own, and just wear black tank tops, black jeans, and black heels. Super simple, right? And help complete our transformation into blind rodents (pretty weird when you think about it), we will also add mouse ears, black sunglasses, and make a cane. We didn’t want to buy ears, so I found a DIY tutorial online and it looks pretty simple. All we will need is a headband, some cardstock paper, and black felt. We will also be making our canes. I was stumped trying to think of how to do this, but while perusing through Walmart I came across light-colored wooden dowels and decided they would be perfect! I’m really stoked to see how this one turns out, and will definitely share pictures of the completed look after we’ve done it!

Image

Xoxo,

Lauren

Last Minute Halloween Costumes: Burglar/Robber

Hi there! So for the second part of my last minute Halloween costume ideas (if you missed the first one click here!), I wanted to show you the second costume I will be doing. I had a lot of trouble coming up with what I wanted to do for my second and third costumes; and yes, I do know how ridiculous that sounds. It’s the college culture though, don’t blame me! Anyhow, after a lot of searching on Pinterest I decided that I’ll be a burglar! This one was super easy and I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

For this costume, I figured I only needed to buy three things: a black and white striped shirt, a mask, and a burlap bag for my loot! I found the shirt online on Nordstrom.com (it was on clearance too), a mask at a local costume shop, and the burlap bags really cheap on Amazon. I’m pretty pleased with my purchases! In addition to this I plan on wearing black jeans and boots, and will cut the fingers off of a cheap pair of gloves I already own. Once I get the burlap bags in the mail (hopefully tomorrow!) I will use a sharpie to draw a money sign, officially transforming it into a loot bag! I’m really excited to see how it all comes together, tell me what you think!

Inspiration for the costume!

diy-halloween-costume-cat-burglar

The shirt I ordered from Nordstrom

_8418603

Burlap bags from Amazon

71cVlVMguzL._SL1500_ 39344489_300x300_1

Last Minute Halloween Costumes: Peacock

Okay guys, I have a confession: I am not that into Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fun holiday to celebrate, but I’ve never been one to go all out on the whole costume and dressing up thing. Maybe it’s because I wait until the last minute, but it seems that every year Halloween sneaks up on me and I get stressed out trying to find a costume. Even more so, at my college Halloween is really more of a weekend-long event. Translation?? Ideally, I should have at least two or three costumes.

While I didn’t wait until the very last minute this year, I was cutting it close. I did however come up with a few costume ideas that I think will be pretty fun and very simple. I thought I’d share what I was planning, and perhaps give you an idea or two in the process! I decided to break it up into three separate posts (one per costume), so that way I could share what I’m thinking without overloading you.  So here is my first costume idea… A peacock!

Costume #1: Peacock

I’m a big fan of makeup, so for one costume this year I wanted to pick something that I could go a little crazy with. A peacock seemed like the perfect idea. Not only can I throw together the costume part of it pretty easily, but I could have fun thinking of some crazy makeup to do also! I have a royal blue, racer-back tank top that I purchased over the summer, so I decided to build the rest of my costume around that. Here’s what else I have planned

  • Black leggings (it’s freezing here and I want to stay warm!)
  • Black ankle boots
  • Peacock hair piece (purchased on Etsy, you can find it here)
  • Peacock necklace (I purchased this on Ebay. It seemed a little sketchy but worked out fine!)
  • Peacock feather brooch-type accessory
  • Crazy peacock makeup

So if I’m being honest I still don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing for the “brooch-type accessory.” I found some peacock feathers for sale at Michaels (I had a coupon too!), picked up some safety pins to hot glue to it, and will hopefully come up with something! I will keep you posted on how that comes along! Here are some of the pictures I got inspiration from. If you have any suggestions, share them below!

Image

Image

Imagej

il_570xN.421014810_oy64

  DIY Mineral Veil!

 Image

Hi Loves! So today I wanted to do a post about a little makeup trick that I’ve been doing for a while now. A couple years back I bought a Bare Minerals starter kit, and was so excited to try it. I thought it was okay (I’ll probably do a full review on it later!), but I particularly fell in love with the Mineral Veil finishing powder. It is basically a translucent finishing powder you put on your face after you’ve done your makeup. I think it’s the perfect way to set your makeup, and it always leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft. However, at $20 a pop, it’s a bit pricey! Despite the price, I wasn’t quite ready to give up using it in my daily makeup routine. After a bit of research, I figured out that it’s super easy to recreate/make at home, and that the ingredients of the store-bought version are so basic. Even better, you don’t have to put in the yucky ingredients (dyes, preservatives) that are in the original version.  I’ve been making the “homemade” version for while now, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

What you’ll need:

  • Some sort of container to hold it in (I use the original Mineral Veil container)
  • Cornstarch
  • Baby Powder

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl/container, mix together the cornstarch and baby powder. The needed amounts of each thing vary based on how big of a “batch” you’re making. Typically, I stick to a 3:1 ratio… 3 parts cornstarch to 1 part baby powder. (For example, 3 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 teaspoon baby powder)
  • Transfer your mineral veil to the container you’ll be storing it in. Make sure that it seals well and won’t spill the powder out! I use the original container the mineral veil came in, though tupperware containers also work well!
  • THAT’S IT! Seriously, it’s so simple!

I hope that you all found this DIY helpful, and that you decide to give it a try. Please let me know your thoughts on it, and if it works for you! I’ve also filmed a how-to video on my YouTube channel, so go ahead and watch it if you want to see a step-by-step on how I do it!

xoxo,

lulu