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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Single Lady Mac & Cheese

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This past weekend was kind of rough for a multitude of different reasons.  Even though I had some relaxing moments spending time with friends and family, most of my weekend was spent in a state of “blah” that I couldn’t quite shake.  When I’m feeling like this, I know the best thing to do is to engage in self-care with a little bit of comfort food and TV.  My craving was mac and cheese, but I didn’t want to make a huge pan of leftovers that could go to waste.  After a few minutes of thought, I realized I could easily make a tiny mac and cheese that would feed just myself.  Even in my difficult times, my brain comes up with great things!

This recipe is perfect for a feel-sorry-for-yourself-night, because it only requires one pot and it’s super versatile.  You can use whatever cheese and pasta you have around the house, although smaller pastas with plenty of nooks and crannies are always the best!  I’m also partial to a cheddar-parmesan mixture if you have that around the house.

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As far as fanciness, this mac and cheese is pretty fancy-free.  I just blend it all together, top it with a little parm, and broil it until browned.  I add a little ceyenne pepper, mustard powder, worcestershire, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Feel free to add whatever spices you want or none at all.  Broil or don’t broil.  Eat it out of the pan and leave the dishes for later, or wash the pot while the pasta broils (my method, because dirty dishes give me anxiety).  Once your mac and cheese craving has be fulfilled, you can crawl back in bed or take a walk or go grab a coffee.  This mac and cheese is about you and your needs after all.

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Take time for self love this week my friends ♥  We all deserve it.

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Dandelion Wine by Gregory Alan Isakov

 

Not So College-y Ramen

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This is not what normal college kids do.  I’m aware of that.

I totally fathom that most kids (half) boil a pot of water, throw the noodles in for way past the recommended time until they’re soggy mush, and then accidentally drop the foil packet into the scalding water before dipping their fingers in, ripping it open, all while screaming a list of profanities and cursing corporate ramen companies worldwide.

I really understand that.

I’m just not a normal college kid.

For instance, my roommates and I had a huge Friendsgiving meal last night starting with crostini, roasted garlic, and truffle goat cheese appetizers, plenty of roasted chicken breasts (we couldn’t find turkey breasts oooops), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, roasted multi-colored carrots, stuffing, and ending with homemade chocolate cream pie.

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Oh yeah, and plenty of Frank Sinatra and old-fashioneds.

Like I said, not normal. 

That’s why when I started watching The Mind of a Chef on Netflix, and got a whole history lesson on ramen, I knew I had to try a new approach to the little crinkly plastic wrapped package of noodles and MSG I normally pass in the store.

Hence “not so college-y ramen”.

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Ingredients:

2 boneless pork chops

4 cups chicken broth

1 package ramen (get rid of that foil flavor packet!!!)

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced and divided

1 tsp. ginger, grated

3 Tbs. soy sauce, divided

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 carrot, grated

1/4 c. frozen corn

1 Tbs. chives, chopped

Toppings: Thai Marinated cucumbers, Siracha, bean sprouts, seaweed, whatever you have (which is what I did).

*Please note that the sun going down at 4:30 means not so great pictures.  I ask that you kindly understand.*

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Place pork in a bag.  Mix in 1 Tbs. soy sauce (or more, I kind of just eyeballed), 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 1 clove garlic, salt, and pepper.  Marinate for 30 minutes, or overnight if you prefer.

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Cook your pork chop until nice and golden brown.

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Uh, bad pic wow.  But yeah, nice and golden brown is the point I’m trying to get across.  Then slice it!

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Grate your carrot.  You can do it on a paper towel if you’re really fancy like me.

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Heat a little bit of oil in your soup pot.

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Brown your garlic and ginger.

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Pour in your chicken broth.  Get ready for some blurry pics.  I just got a new camera so I’m still learning to use it!

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Add your carrots, corn, and chives.

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Add soy sauce (blurry pic ah!).  Bring the liquid to a boil.

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And your noodle square.  And some salt and pepper, if you like.  Cook according to package directions.

Serve with your desired toppings!

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Much better than MSG ramen!  Still not great for you, but still way healthier and much yummier!  Enjoy college and non-college students, alike.

XO Sara

Song of the Day: Buddy Holly–Weezer

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

Healthy Pasta Salad

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Hello friends 🙂

About a week ago, I made this pasta salad recipe and it was super delicious.  Plus, it’s healthy so it’s perfect for a weekday lunch.  In fact, I had it every day last week!

School has been absolutely crazy lately with prom, Grad Nite, and college all coming up!  Luckily, I’ll have a long summer and nice week in Hawaii for my birthday before college life begins.

However, among all the craziness in my life my wonderful boyfriend came  over and surprised me by taking me to lunch yesterday.  That’s a way to have a week made!

Plus we’ve been dating for 2 1/2 years, since yesterday, so that was awesome as well.  2 1/2 years goes quick!

So among your crazy, busy life make this pasta salad for lunches or a dinner side and then you won’t have to worry about  grabbing a fast food bag instead!

Ingredients:

1/2 box of whole wheat penne (or pasta of choice), boiled according to package directions

1 orange pepper, diced

1 cucumber, sliced

1/4 c. Parmesan, shredded

1/4 c. part skim Cheddar cheese, cubed

1/4 c. part skim Colby Jack cheese, cubed

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

1/4 c. low fat salami, sliced

Dressing:

1/2 c. olive oil

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. spicy mustard

1/4 tsp. sugar

While the pasta is boiling, mix together the ingredients for the salad dressing.  When the pasta is drained and slightly cooled, mix the rest of the salad ingredients together and toss with dressing.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Serve.

*More vegetables could always be added to this salad!  Olives, onion, tomato, etc.

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Stay Serendipitous!

XOXO Sara