Lasagna Bolognese

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Holy hell, it snowed again this weekend, and then when it wasn’t snowing, it was raining, and when it wasn’t raining it was perfect, foggy, San Franciscan weather that brings me peace.  It was the ideal weekend, aside from the moment yesterday when, while walking and eating an ice cream cone in the flurry-darkness, I somehow didn’t see a huge freaking puddle of rain right in front of me, and I kicked it, and rainwater splashed all over my jeans and inside of my shoes.  I probably would have been sad if I wasn’t laughing so hard, but that’s what I get for wearing old-man smoking slippers in the slushy rain-snow.

Luckily, nothing could dampen my spirits, because 1. I had mint chip ice cream from Simple!! and 2. I’m babysitting a big furry puppy this weekend while my cousin is at a friend’s wedding!  She’s a big furry ball of floof (aka a Bernese Mountain Dog) named Flower, and even though she punched me in the face while I was petting her this morning, I’ve had the best weekend hugging her squishiness!  Plus, there was that misty weather I was talking about earlier, and I had the most ethereal morning making coffee at work while the fog traipsed between the Sierras.  Oh, and then there was the lasagna…

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Lasagna is one of my favorite meals of all time, but especially when it’s frosty and misty outside.  The melding of cheese + pasta + tomatoes hugs my insides and makes me feel cozy and warm.  This lasagna in particular has been one of our favorite family recipes for a few years now.  I’m honestly not sure where the recipe itself came from, but the flavors balance together so nicely – the ratio of cheese to meat is perfect, and the veggies add a lighter texture.  Also, the recipe uses cottage cheese, which forms these delicious little cheese clumps without the heaviness of ricotta, and yuuummm!

I’ve tried at least four different lasagna recipes by now, and this is the one I always come back to.  It takes a little work, as all lasagnas do, but of course it’s worth it!  It’s the perfect weekend project if you want to perch yourself in front of a movie or listen to classic jazz while you layer delicate noodles with veggies, meat sauce, and a pile of cheese.  While the sauce is simmering, you can make a light salad or mix some herbs & butter to make toasty garlic bread, or better yet, start some creme brulee or mascarpone cheesecake.  Lasagna is special, and it deserves proper dessert as well.  This meal is perfect for a dinner party with friends or a romantic date-night with your love (note: this will feed both of you for days).  I wish you all lasagna-making bliss ♥

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Cry Me a River by Julie London


Thank you to Sanford Ranch Beef for sponsoring this post!  Sanford Ranch Beef is locally-grown, hormone-free, steroid-free, all-natural, and all the good stuff.  Visit their Facebook or website if you live in the Reno area.

As always, all opinions are my own.

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Mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange & Amaretto

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I am unashamed to admit that I am currently involved in a love affair with a cheesecake.  I have to say, this is fairly out of character for me, considering I’m not a huge cheesecake fan – cheese = yay!  cake = yay!  cheesecake = meh.  Many of my friends and family are cheesecake lovers, but I tend to fall more towards the creme brulee side of the custard spectrum – I can’t resist a burny-caramely top, and I hold firmly to that belief.  I find many cheesecakes to be a little too creamy, or even worse, crumbly, and oftentimes they aren’t sweetened enough, leaving the filling reminiscent of a bagel that’s been sitting on the counter getting cold.  Not a pretty visual there?  Well, that’s how the cookie  cheesecake crumbles, and I think there absolutely needs to be a seminar on how to properly bake a damn cheesecake.  Sorry, not sorry – I’m putting an end to this.

Okay, maybe I have a holier-than-thou attitude towards cheesecake, but seriously, have you ever read reviews on any NY cheesecake recipe?  Good lord, those east-coast peeps have a cheesecake power complex of epic proportions.  (Okay, I really do get it though – you’re a tried and true New Yorker, and you’re desperately trying to recreate the cheesecake your grandmother used to throw together sans recipe.  I promise, my family has been trying to do this with my grandmother’s enchiladas for years, and we can’t get it right – this is what happens when you let a Norwegian woman make Mexican food).

Anyhow, let me tell you, those recipe-reviewing-cheesecake-aficionados know their craft – crumbly cheesecake?  Waterbath.  Chunky chunks of cheese?  Room temp the cheese and eggs!  Genius.  Props to you guys (and your grandma’s tips!).  I appreciate you and your power complex (;

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And on another note, here I am about to crush your OG-cheesecake loving souls.  Because I added mascarpone to my cheesecake.  And I added orange zest.  And I added amaretto.  And the crust is made with almond cookies.  And it’s the most delicious, light, wonderful cheesecake I ever did eat.  If it makes anyone feel better, I’ve heard a lot of Italian cheesecakes use mascarpone and amaretto!  Does that help?  Bueller, Bueller?

Anyways, I decided to use mascarpone, because as I said earlier, I don’t love the super-thick, creamy cheesecake in most restaurants (I’m especially looking at you Cheesecake Factory).  However, the mascarpone rids of that overly-rich cream cheese taste and adds a fluffy, light texture that I adore.  Orange zest was added to get away from the lemon that typically adorns cheesecakes.  As for the amaretto, it was almost not added – I stared at that bottle  in the grocery store for approximately 15 minutes, walked away from it, and thought, “Sara, that is so not the spirit”, turned back to the liquor aisle, and added it to my cart.  It was a dilemma of vast proportions, but it made the cut, and I’m so relieved it did.  Alcohol helps desserts always.

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Btw I brought this cheesecake to my parents’ house for a family dinner and, I almost freaking DROPPED it while slipping on ice.  But not to fear, my clumsy footing still appreciates the sanctity of $12 worth of cheese.  I held onto that cheesecake like Harry held onto the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Yes, I did just make a HP reference, and I stand by that decision.

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Stay This Way by Peter Bjorn and John

 

Five Cheese Rigatoni

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I love pasta.

I absolutely love it.

Especially when it’s covered in rich, delicious cheese.

Today I had to have a little last minute surgery and anesthesia makes me crave meals like this.  You know, after I get over the “oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-throw-up-and-also-I-feel-like-I’m-dying” feeling.  If you’ve ever been on anesthesia and not reacted well, you probably have some kind of clue to what I’m sayin’.  And if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.  You are not missing anything (I swear)!

But on the bright side, I’m feeling much better, doped up on Loritab, and am on my way to enjoying a nice big bowl of cheesy pasta in the very near future.

Life is great, isn’t it?

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Ingredients:

8 oz. rigatoni pasta

1/4 c. butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. whole milk

6 oz. cottage cheese

1 c. cheddar cheese, grated

1 c. mozzarella cheese, grated

1 c. Swiss cheese, grated

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated + more for top

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Dash paprika

Dash ceyenne pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 c. Panko bread crumbs

1 Tbs. butter, melted

Boil pasta according to directions until it is al dente (normally about 8-9 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350* F.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and brown the garlic until fragrant in a medium sauce pan.  Add the flour until it forms a roux.  Stir in the milk and all five cheeses.  Allow the cheeses to melt (the cottage cheese will not melt, but will make it super creamy and delicious, trust me).

Add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ceyenne, salt, and pepper.  Stir well.  Add pasta and mix to coat.

Butter an 8×8 casserole dish and add pasta, spreading it smoothly.  Combine panko and melted butter.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs and extra parmesan on top of the pasta.  Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves 2.

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Revel in happy, pasta related bliss.

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You can do that, right?

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I have faith in you.

XOXO Sara