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. Saut√© 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