January 31, 2011

Cooking With Love: Lasagna

Every month or so I try to go pay a visit to my grandparents. I'm so lucky to have them in my life- they are amazing, generous people so I enjoy spending time with them.  I like to go over to their house and make them dinner. I usually serve something a little more special than your average weeknight meal just to show them that I care. Last time I made Barefoot Contessa's turkey lasagna. Please try this recipe! It's time consuming but so worth it. It's 10 times better than using a jarred sauce or the recipe on the back of the no-boil lasagna noodles. I served it with some garlic bread, red wine, and fresh salad. Save this recipe for the next time you have a family get-together- it serves a TON.
Me & my grandparents at my college graduation

Turkey Lasagna
Adapted from this recipe from Barefoot Contessa

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles (once again I used whole wheat)
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
  • 3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

To make:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.  (This sauce is delicious and would be great over any pasta if you don't have time to make an entire lasagna)
  3. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  5. Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one 1/3 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

January 30, 2011

Glamourous Sleepwear

Good Morning Gossip Girls

So the other night I finally watched the movie "Eat, Pray, Love." I read the book when it came out and I liked it but I actually liked the movie more. I love Italy- so that's probably why! Anyway one of the scenes that stood out to me was when Julia Roberts sees a lovely nightgown in a store and her friend tells her to buy it and she says "For who?" and the friend says "For you." And then she buys it and wears it around her Italian apartment alone while she cooks and reads. Something about wearing glamourous loungewear is very appealing to me- maybe it's from Gossip Girl? Those girls always look put together even when they first wake up. I love a comfortable and pretty nightgown but you're just as likely to find me sleeping in a t-shirt.  Maybe I should work on that!

I put together some pretty sleepwear looks that can really make you feel special and beautiful even when it's just you!

January 29, 2011


I just wanted to post this photo from Jezebel's coverage of Paris Haute Couture Week.
Image from Jezebel
I love the red lips & nails: pure glamour!!

January 28, 2011

Favorite Friday: Texas Edition

Woohoo it's Friday! Don't act like you aren't excited. Here's what is catching my eye this week. 
OPI Texas collection
OPI has some pretty smart marketing people because Texans love themselves and their state which is why I'm so excited for this collection coming out nationwide on Wednesday.  
Austin-tatious Turquoise, San Tan-tonio, & Y'all Come Back Ya Hear?
The colors from this collection that catch my eye most are the Austin-tatious Turquoise- named after my city and a lovely color that would make a great pedi! The San Tan-tonio keeps up with the tan nail craze and it could be pretty but I'll have to see it in person to decide.  Every Texas fan will definitely want Ya'll Come Back Ya Hear? which is the signature burnt orange.  If you live in Austin and you're excited for this collection then get this: If you go to a Beauty Store Salon & Spa location on Wednesday (2/2) and bring a canned good for the Capital Area Food Bank you can choose an OPI color of your choice for free! More info here. What color will you choose?

Try Someplace New: An Austin soda fountain
Image from Yelp
The weekend is always a good time to try a new restaurant. I've been wanting to try Nau's Enfield Drug.  It's a pharmacy with an old-fashioned soda fountain in the back. I love throw-back type places and I bet I'll really be able to go for a grilled cheese & a chocolate malt after my 8 mile run on Sunday.

Hello paradise!
Finally another blog to check out: Broke is the New Black written by a good friend of mine and my sorority big sister, Laura. She's hilarious!! Not only is the blog entertaining but she also posts stunning pictures like this one. On that note- have a great weekend!!

January 27, 2011

Running With Nike+

To all the runners out there: have you tried Nike+?  When it first came out it was just this sensor that you fit in your shoe (Nikes of course) and then the sensor interacted with your iPod to tell you your pace, distance, and calories. I had this version of Nike+ since 2008 and I always liked it. The sensor type of Nike+ is still available but I've moved on with technology!
Image from iTunes
If you have an iPhone you can get the app Nike+ GPS for $1.99 which does all the regular Nike+ functions "plus" more.  Since the iPhone app uses GPS it's more accurate than the sensor method and it also tracks your altitude and pace every step of the way. When you're done you can link it to your Nike+ account and go back and look at your runs on pretty graphs. There are also training programs through the website- I'm training for a 1/2 marathon right now.

Screenshot from my Nike+ training site
I'm a big fan of this technology for a couple reasons.  One it's convenient- if you just randomly go running outside there's no real accurate way of telling how far you've gone but this app changes that. You can program in how far you want to go and it alerts you as you complete a mile and when you're halfway.  Two it's fun- I like that it tracks all my past runs and I like interacting with the website too. If you have Nike+ and want to be "friends" on the community, my username is fauxfurr so add me!

January 26, 2011

Quick & Easy Chocolate Mousse

So I'll just put it out there: I'm a chocoholic!  My first job ever was at Debrand chocolatier and I've been hooked ever since.  Chocolate choices are always what I gravitate towards when ordering off a dessert menu, breakfast menu (hello chocolate chip pancakes), OK any menu!  I love baking with chocolate and the one thing I learned from my stint in the chocolate industry is: don't skimp on good chocolate.  It can be expensive, but high-quality chocolate takes your dessert from OK to OMG.  So my pantry is more Guittard less Hershey's. I have a traditional chocolate mousse recipe that I love- I learned to make it at a cooking class in Chicago. It's basically fluffy chocolate heaven. BUT it is time consuming to make, involves like a dozen eggs and is a big effort! So when I saw this recipe on Cooking Channel I was intrigued.

This is not a traditional mousse recipe and it doesn't replace my standby recipe at all. However this recipe is very tasty especially if you put nice chocolate in it. I was pretty shocked actually- seeing as one of the main ingredients is marshmallows. Anyway- just try it! I made this mousse on a weeknight and my boyfriend asked "How long did this take you to make?" I didn't tell him that it literally took 15 minutes.


Instant Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe
Makes 4-6 servings depending on your craving level. When I made this I cut the recipe in half. 

  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 9 ounces best quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup hot water from a recently boiled kettle
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional) 

To make: 
  1. Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Put the saucepan on the stove, over low heat, stirring until everything melts together. Remove from the heat. Let this mixture cool for 10 minutes or so. 
  3. Whip the cream with the vanilla until thick and then fold into the cooled chocolate mixture.
  4. Spoon into small dishes, top with chocolate shavings and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.  

January 25, 2011

Eyebrow Situation

The lovely Camilla Belle
The title of this post is in honor of one of my favorite blogs: dlisted. The writer of that blog is sooo funny and he has a tag #eyebrowsituation regularly featuring celebs with funny eyebrows. Check it out if you want a laugh. Anyway let's talk about eyebrows! My eyebrows are probably the thing I get complimented on the most which is funny because growing up I hated them! My mom had to remind me that Brooke Shields was considered to be gorgeous despite her bushy brows. Now that I'm older I've learned how to shape my eyebrows with my face & I like having defined brows. The only problem is they're so dark it means I can never go blonde! I get my eyebrows threaded which in my opinion has better results than waxing. If you live in Austin Jamila is responsible for threading my eyebrows and she's amazing. If you live other places and want to try threading check out Yelp for a good place.

January 24, 2011

Pump Up The Volume!

Hello & happy Monday!  This weekend I finally took on the task of moving all of my MP3's from my old retired computer to my new one.  Why?  I missed all my fun workout music!  It's impossible not to run faster when say, Britney Spears "Stronger" comes on my iPod.  Over at Jezebel they have a post called "Building the Ultimate Workout Playlist" where commenters are posting their favorite songs to listen to while they sweat.  Here are some of my favorites- what are yours?

Girl Talk- It's like having a DJ mixing throughout your entire workout- great for running and their albums are available for free!

Lady Gaga- Of course! Known for her upbeat tunes and funky style she's a playlist MUST!

Rihanna's new album has some great upbeat songs that I like to listen to when I work out.  Her older songs are awesome too!

La Roux- This song "Bulletproof" is guaranteed to make you go faster!

January 23, 2011

Dinner for One: Aglio e Olio

This is my go-to recipe to make when I’m hungry at dinnertime and I’m on my own. It’s easy, satisfying & made with things I always have on hand: pasta, olive oil, garlic & some sort of vegetable & cheese. It’s a great way to use up leftover veggies from the fridge and the best part of all is that it takes less than 20 minutes to make. My biggest tip for this recipe is: customize it! Use what you have on hand & feel free to experiment & have fun. 

Spaghetti with garlic, sun dried tomatoes & goat cheese
Aglio e Olio
  • 1 serving of pasta (I like whole wheat- any kind will do)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2.5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup vegetables of your choice, chopped (I had sundried tomatoes in the fridge but you can use anything: olives, artichoke hearts, broccoli, peas, spinach... etc. You can also use frozen veggies- just drop them in your pasta water a minute or two before your pasta is done)
  • Cheese of your choice (parmesan is classic with this but I had herb/garlic goat cheese open) 

To make:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add some salt and drop the pasta- cook according to directions. 
  2. While the pasta cooks, cut up your veggies & mince the garlic.
  3. When your pasta is almost ready, heat up the olive oil & butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add your garlic- DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC! It only takes 30 seconds or so to soften up and lose its bite. After this, turn the heat to low and add the rest of your veggies, stir to warm them and remove the pan from the heat. Season to taste with salt & red pepper flakes. 
  4. When your pasta is cooked, drain it, pour the sauce/veggies over & top it off with cheese.  Stir and eat!  You may need to add more salt & pepper after you taste it.
  5. Enjoy with a fresh salad & a glass of wine.

What is your favorite easy recipe for one?  Let me know in the comments.  Enjoy!

January 22, 2011

Cheery Cherry

I don't know about you but in the winter I find myself wearing so many dark colors: mostly black!  I love black but it can make you look sort of goth and gloomy. A good way to fight this is to add a fun pop of red! I'm loving red right now- maybe because Valentine's day is coming up? Adding a red accessory or even some red lipstick can brighten up an entire look and bring a smile to your face.  Here are some of my picks for red hot accessories to try this winter.

Red hot accessories
M·A·C, Singer22, Kimchi & Blue, Arden B, Betsey Johnson
Add a fun pop of color!

January 21, 2011

Favorite Friday: I Like This

Happy Friday everybody! I decided to steal the idea of "Favorite Friday" from my good friend Jenn's blog Touch of Garlic. I always enjoy her Friday posts where she shares some favorite finds from around the web. I hope you enjoy mine as well!
Image via bell'alimento
Be still my heart! Cinnamon rolls with nutella AND cherry? It sounds and looks too good to be true but it really exists over on Bell'alimento. Sounds like a delicious sinful combo that I'm dying to try.

Budget wall decor: Ikea frame in my apt with Vettriano prints cut from a calendar

Fellow Austin-blogger CasaCullen has a great, cheap DIY idea for wall decor that I've actually used before: taking art from calendars and framing it. Bonus- it's super affordable now that all the 2011 calendars are on clearance.

Image via Barneys.com

Lastly I'm currently coveting these Roseanne Pugliese lavender amethyst earrings. I love the clear purpley color and the shape. I'm on the lookout for a more budget-friendly version so let me know if you see anything similar. Happy weekend!

January 20, 2011

Must/Lust: Workout Jackets

Have you ever heard of the store lululemon?  If you haven't you're missing out on some beautiful, well-made yoga & workout clothes.  They make super cute stuff but the problem is it's pricey! What makes lululemon's clothes special is the attention to details. Most of the jackets are tailored and have fun details like thumb holes to help keep your hands warm- love it!
High-five for thumb holes!
The good news is a friend recently turned me on to a much more budget-friendly way to get the same look- Forever 21 has a line of workout clothes that are a much more affordable alternative.  Let's compare these jackets!
Forever21 Version- $17.50
Lululemon Version- $108.00
Both of these are black & zippy with thumb holes but the Forever 21 jacket is less than a quarter of the price!  While the lululemon jacket is surely nicer quality, the Forever 21 version is much cheaper with a similar style.  What do you think- splurge or save?

January 19, 2011

Fun Nails

If you know me well enough you know that I almost always wear nail polish (assuming I didn't peel it all off... bad habit!). I love having fun nails and I have an embarrassing amount of polish, I'm not gonna lie. That being said I recently tried something new and I wanted to share. Have you heard of Minx nails? They are really cool designs that are put on your nails professionally.
Minx Nails on Celebs (Image via http://www.alllacqueredup.com/)
If you are always wondering how celebs have such snazzy nails this is probably the answer! You can find salons that do Minx here- but who can afford to do that all the time?  That's why I was so excited when I saw Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips at the drugstore. For around $9 and a little bit of effort you can get the same look at home.  Sally Hansen doesn't have a website for this product yet but I did find a nice review/explanation at We Heart This.  I tried the color Misbehaved (they reminded me of fishnets) a couple weeks ago and they stayed on for over a week. I thought they were different in a good way and I'll definitely try them again.  What do you think of the sticker-manis?  Too cute or too much effort?
My nails with Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Misbehaved

January 18, 2011

Change Up Your Workout

Let's see- third week of January... who's still going on your New Year's resolution to get fit?  If you're starting to get bored with your routine I have an idea.  The site FitSugar has tons of workout tips plus new and different exercises to try.  One that recently caught my eye is a twist on elliptical workouts.
Love the Elliptical?  Change it up for new results.
I have mixed feelings about the elliptical machine- it's a standard but a lot of times I just get on there and do the same thing.  At the end of my 45 minutes I don't feel like I got that great of a workout.  If you feel the same or if you just want to switch it up check out these printable elliptical workouts from FitSugar that will help keep you out of a rut.   Try one this week and let me know how it goes!

January 17, 2011

Going Nude

If you watched the Golden Globes last night (or if you just looked at what people were wearing on the blogs this morning) then you may have noticed a trend- nude!   Lots of stars were wearing nude colored dresses.

This color isn't for everyone but I think it can be really pretty, especially if you go towards a pinky hue.  Here are some ideas on how to fit this trendy color into your wardrobe.

Nude & Fabulous
Asos, Jessica Simpson, Topshop, Topshop, Asos
Some beautiful examples of how nude can fit into any wardrobe.

January 16, 2011


Burnt Orange Roses for Texas!
So here's a story... Last night I was shopping with my boyfriend at the mall.  I guess I should post about the adorable jacket I got at Nordstrom but I'll leave that for later.  Anyway after we were supposed to go get Italian at this BYOB down the street.  Instead he came up with some story about how we needed to go to my parent's house first to pick something up.  Umm OK!  As soon as we walked in all I hear is "SURPRISE!!" and I see all my friends and a big Bevo.  My friends and family threw me a surprise graduation party!  (I just finished my Master's in December from UT)  I was completely shocked and so excited- it ended up being a really fun night.

This was the second time I've been surprised with a party.  The first time was my 18th birthday.  If your friends and family can pull it off it makes up for all the little white lies that come with the territory.  The night was really fun and relaxed.  To me a good party has so much to do with guests!  My parents hosted and my mom had the good idea of serving soup and salad as a main course.  It was a really simple way to feed a group in a healthy, crowd-pleasing, low-fuss way.  She made two types of soups and kept them warm in crock pots until everyone was ready to eat.  One of the soups she served is a favorite of mine- Potato Cheese Chowder.   It's so good- a must try!  Surprise someone with this and you won't be sorry!
Hook 'em!  Friends at my party :-)

Mom’s Potato Cheese Soup

3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
¼ c. onion chopped
1 cup chicken broth  (enough to cover veggies in pot)
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  1. In a large pot, combine vegetables, broth, and pepper.  Bring to a boil until potatoes are softened. 
  2. Pour vegetable mixture into the blender and blend until smooth, return to pot.  (Or use an emersion blender if you have one!) 
  3. In small bowl, gradually add flour to milk.  Add flour mixture to vegetables.  Mix well and let cook a couple of minutes.  Stir in cheese, melt.   Season to taste.  Let stand at least 2 minutes then serve. 

January 15, 2011

Welcome to My 1st Blog!

Follow my blog with bloglovin
Hello & welcome!  It's a new year and I'm ready for an exciting new chapter so I think a blog will be a fun place to start.  My name is Laura & I live in Austin, Texas.  I think I'm a pretty typical 20-something girly-girl.  I love laughing, fashion, food, cooking/baking, fitness, & more.  I try to have fun every day and enjoy each moment in my life.   I'm starting this blog to share things I love with you.  I hope you enjoy it! 
Remember footie pajamas?