Monday, September 30, 2013

Caprese Lasagna Rolls

All I can say is YUM.  These were so good and pretty easy.  I am definitely not a chef by any means but since I've gotten married, I've had more of a desire to actually cook real meals (as opposed to eating panini's and cereal every night).  Sooo, if I can successfully make this, you can too!

Shopping List
8 lasagna noodles (don't buy the no boil kind for this, they will be too stiff)
14 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used skim)
4 medium sized tomatoes
1 jar plain marinara sauce
1 large egg (will only be using the white, not the yolk)
Basil and pepper (I'm lazy and use store-bought from Costco, but fresh would work too!)
Parchment paper


Directions
1) Boil water and cook your 8 noodles al dente as directed by the package.

2) While noodles are cooking, prepare your cheese mixture. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the ricotta cheese and the egg white until well blended.  Stir in the parmesan cheese and 12 oz of your mozzarella cheese (set aside the other 2 oz of mozzarella).  Season the cheese mixture with black pepper.


3) Chop up your 4 tomatoes into thin slices.


4) Once your pasta is finished cooking, drain noodles.

5) At this point, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

6) Arrange noodles laid out flat onto the parchment paper. Place about 1/3 cup of your cheese mixture onto each noodle and spread evenly across the noodle.  Then place 3 or 4 slices of a tomato across your noodle on top of the cheese mixture. Garnish with basil.


7) Pour 1/4 of your jar of marinara sauce to coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.


8) Roll up each noodle and place into the pan on top of the sauce, SEAM SIDE DOWN (important).  After each noodle is placed in the pan, pour the remaining 3/4 jar of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls.  Make sure to cover the edges of each roll so they don't dry up while cooking.  Sprinkle your remaining 2 oz of mozzarella cheese on top.


9) Place your lasagna rolls in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

10) Remove from oven.  I like to let the rolls sit and cool in the pan for about 5 minutes so everything isn't so runny when I transfer to plates.  After on your dinner plate, garnish with some more basil.

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Everyone will loooove these!  They are such a fresh take on a lasagna dinner.  Enjoy!
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Friday, September 27, 2013

High Five for Friday!

Everyone loves Fridays.  Even I do, and I typically work every weekend.  

1) Volleyball started this week and it was so much fun!  For the past two summers, we have played in a beach volleyball league but this fall, we decided to try indoor volleyball.  It is definitely a different experience than on the beach but it was a good time. We won our first game so it's looking like it's going to be a fun season!


2) You know those mornings you wake up and look at the clock and are so confused?  I had one of those this morning.   I was exhausted last night when I went to bed so I set my alarm for 7:45 am (what time I actually have to leave the house) instead of 6:45 am.  Thankfully I woke up by myself at 6:49.

3) The fall decorations in my apartment have officially made their appearance!


4) Nick and I finished season 1 of Friday Night Lights this week.  We are totally hooked.  I'm sure we will easily finish all 5 seasons by the end of the year. 


5) It's our two month wedding anniversary today!  We got married on July 27th and you better bet I'm going to celebrate each month this first year (at the very least with some dessert).


Happy Weekend!!
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hawaiian Honeymoon - Part 1


Nick and I got married on July 27, 2013 and it was the best day of my life!  Despite the chilly October-like weather, the entire day went so smoothly and we had the best time celebrating with our closest family and friends.  I'm still waiting to get our professional pictures back from the wedding and when I do, I plan on doing a wedding day post.

As for right now, why not recount the two weeks after our wedding?  We spent an amazing 11 days in Hawaii.  Amazing is an understatement.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  We visited Oahu and Maui and it was incredible!  Not only were we so excited to be married, but we were in paradise!

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Lets start from the beginning...
(I'm sorry there aren't too many pictures from these first couple of days!  Lots more to come though!)

Sunday, July 28
The day after the wedding we woke up to another rainy, chilly day in Michigan.  But we were married and leaving for Hawaii the next day so we could of cared less!  We checked out of our hotel, visited with friends and family, and headed to my dads house to pick up all of our stuff.  We also had to grab his suitcases since we don't own any yet.  After recounting the wedding day and cleaning up his trashed house (sorry!), we packed up and headed out for our 2.5 hour drive back to Chicago.  The worst part of this was that we had taken separate cars to Michigan so we each had to drive home alone!

We arrived home to Chicago about 2 pm.  We had a huge to-do list before leaving for the airport the next morning at 10 am.  Sunday consisted of laundry, packing, cleaning the apartment, opening wedding gifts, and I ate my first meal in like a week (my appetite finally returned after the wedding was over!). At about 10 pm, we headed out to the Chicago suburbs to drop Nick's car off at his work.  We didn't want to leave it out on the street for 2 weeks.

We managed to get to bed around midnight.  Before bed, we checked our flight statuses and everything was good to go.  We had been nervous as the day before we learned of a tropical storm that was heading towards Hawaii.  The Weather Channel said that the storm was picking up speed but it didn't look like it was going to hit Hawaii directly.  We knew we would probably have bad weather the first couple days we were in Hawaii but we could deal with that!  Tropical Storm Flossie had turned into a joke between our family as no one was too concerned about it.  We went to bed, excited and not the least bit worried.

Monday, July 29


At 10 am, our car picked us up and we headed to O'Hare International Airport!  Luckily, rush hour traffic had died down by that time of morning and we made it to the airport, through security, and to our gate with zero problems.  Nick had McDonald's, we looked at wedding pictures our friends had posted online and just hung out while waiting to board our plane.  Before boarding, I checked our flight status in Los Angeles and everything was still showing on time.  Our plane departed from O'Hare on time (surprisingly) -  LAX here we come!

After a 3.5 hour flight, we landed in LA.  I turned on my phone as soon as they announced it was safe and like a good daughter, I texted my dad that we landed in LA.  As soon as he responded, my heart dropped.



"...So the flight to Honolulu is cancelled?"

I immediately checked the flight status on the United Airlines website and saw that our flight from LAX to Honolulu said CANCELLED (in bright red of course, red is like the color of bad news).  Lots of people around us were also trying to get to Hawaii and none of us knew what we were going to do.  As soon as we got off the flight, there was a United Airlines employee handing us cards with an emergency number and telling us that "no one is going to Hawaii for a few days, we have sent your bags to baggage claim, pick those up and call this number and a representative will help you book a new flight." What?!

We immediately called the number before heading to baggage claim and got on the phone with someone.  After about five nerve wracking minutes, the lady told Nick that she could get us on a flight out of LA on SATURDAY, AUGUST 3 (remember, this was on Monday, July 29th).  We were shocked and freaking out.  This was bad.  This was half of our vacation!  Nick told her to just put us on that flight - this was obviously not ideal but we were scared that we wouldn't get anything if we didn't take the Saturday flight.

We went down to baggage claim, grabbed our bags, and tried to find a quiet corner where we could figure out a plan.  Finding a quiet corner in an airport is hard to begin with, but there were hundreds of stranded people trying to get to Hawaii so the place was packed.  We finally found a corner and started to freak out.  The lady had told Nick that no airline would be flying to Hawaii for the next couple of days until the storm passes and after that, all flights were booked until Saturday.  Of course, I hadn't purchased the travel insurance for our vacation because it was our honeymoon, literally nothing would have stopped us from going on this trip! (besides tropical storms apparently)


We booked our trip through Costco so we contacted them to see if we had any options for refunds since it was looking like we were going to be missing half of our trip.  We decided we had two options here:

1) Try and get a refund for our week in Hawaii we were going to miss and spend the week in California. Maybe hang out in LA for a couple days and then drive up to San Francisco.  Fly out for Hawaii on August 3 and only visit Maui and come home on Friday, August 9 as originally planned.

2) Can't get a refund and go back to Chicago.  Maybe spend a couple days in a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin or do something cheap (since we had already spent all of our honeymoon money on Hawaii).  Still fly out for Hawaii on August 3 and only visit Maui and come home on Friday, August 9 as originally planned.

Option 1 was do-able, definitely not ideal but I could handle it.  Option 2 made me want to cry.  We (and when I say we, I mean Nick, I was too busy panicking) called Costco and talked through our options.  They couldn't give us a direct yes-or-no answer on the refund right then as it was a pretty complicated situation and I guess had to be talked through with their bosses.  Not to mention, they had to contact our hotels and rearrange rental cars and cancel our inter-island flights, so we there was no chance in us getting a quick answer.

We met a family in the same position as us that had booked through Costco as well, so we stuck by them.  About 2.5 hours after landing in LAX, we were just sitting in the airport clueless about what we were going to do.  A rumor started to go around our camp-out area that United might be adding new flights in a couple of days to accommodate all of the stranded people.  Our new friends decided that they were going to get a hotel room in LA for the night and keeping calling United Airlines to see if this was true and/or if they could get on an earlier flight.  Nick and I decided that might be our best option too.  We called around and got a room at the LAX Westin for the night.  4 hours after landing in LAX, we were boarding an airport shuttle to our hotel for the night.

 Waiting for our airport shuttle in LAX, still on the phone with United Airlines.



What were we going to do???


***I cannot say enough good things about booking a vacation through Costco.  They bundled the entire trip for us (flights, hotels, rental cars, inter-island flights) and we saved so much money this way.  Every single person we talked to in the middle of our little emergency was so helpful, patient, and understanding.  They literally took care of every detail for us.  If you are planning a vacation, I highly suggest checking their website out!
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Caesar Shrimp Pasta

As ready as I am for fall, I'm really going to miss summer.  I think a little part of me is still trying to cling to it with this recipe.  It's a light, fresh and best of all, extremely simple dinner which is perfect when it's 95 degrees and no one feels like cooking!

Shopping List
1 box farfalle noodles
3/4 lb thawed shrimp
1 lb asparagus
2 tomatoes
1 cup Caesar salad dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
Parmesan cheese


Directions
1) Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.


2) While pasta is cooking, chop up your two tomatoes and asparagus.


3) In a large skillet, place your shrimp and asparagus and 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat and saute for about 3-4 minutes (or until the shrimp turn pink).  After the shrimp and asparagus have cooked, throw in a splash of the Caesar salad dressing so they can start to soak up the flavor.  Lower the heat and simmer if your pasta is not finished cooking yet. 


4) Once your pasta is finished cooking, drain and pour the pasta into a large serving dish.  Add your tomato to the pasta dish.  Pour your shrimp and asparagus mixture on top of the pasta and mix in well.  Since I find Caesar dressing to be strong, I added 1 cup to my pasta, you can add more or less depending on your tastes.


5) Transfer to plates and top with Parmesan cheese.


So easy! Enjoy!
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Weekend Roundup

This weekend was awesome because we had no where to go, nothing to do, and no set plans!

It has been a non-stop summer with planning our wedding and honeymoon, working, attending 4 other weddings, and just all the other business that comes with summertime.  So, this weekend of laziness was very much needed.

Some highlights included...


1) Downloading the new iPhone software, iOS 7.  I didn't even understand how to use my phone at first but after a few days getting reaquainted with how everything works, I am really loving it.


2) Nick had his first flag football game on Saturday morning and I went along to watch.  It was the perfect fall morning and of course, this event called for some Starbucks.

3) We finally hit up Costco!  This has been long overdue.  Best part about shopping at Costco on Saturday afternoons is the amount of free samples -- we practically ate lunch there!

4) I finished the book "Unglued" by Lysa Terkeurst.  SUCH a good book!    


5) Made an amazing dessert -- Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart bread -- and it was delish!

But the best part of this entire weekend was that we had time to do nothing and actually took NAPS on Saturday!  A very good weekend!
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall Television

The end of the September brings the return of our favorite TV shows and I can't wait!  I love watching TV -- chilling out on the couch with a blanket and dessert (and a candle lit because I love candles even more than watching TV) is my idea of a perfect end to any day. 

Here is what I'm into right now and what shows I'm looking forward to this fall!


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1) I love any Real Housewives franchise.  I really get into the OC, Beverly Hills, and Miami but I definitely do not discriminate towards my housewives and will watch any reruns playing on Bravo.

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2) Duck Dynasty is hilarious.  I love the values the Robertson family stands for and I love that they aren't afraid to talk about their faith on TV.  Also, Uncle Si seriously cracks me up.

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3) The Bachelor/Bachelorette is my guilty pleasure.  I watch every season even though it's the exact same story every time.  And almost every couple breaks up within 3 months of the showing airing.

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4) Nashville is coming back for it's second season this Wednesday!  I thought the first season was great, so much so that it inspired me to take a trip to Nashville last year.  It's cool that they actually film in the city of Nashville and I LOVE Connie Brittain.


5) Parenthood is another one I'm so excited for.  It's hard to pick, but I think this is my most favorite show.  Season 4 was only a 1/2 season so I am beyond ready to have this show back.

I could go on and on about what TV shows I'm looking forward to but then you would know how much TV I really watch (embarrassing) so I'll stop at the top five.  I'm pretty much happy to be watching anything besides Sportscenter or the NHL Network :)
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Favorite Season...

I LOVE fall!  Everything about it.  It's supposed to be 90 degrees in Chicago tomorrow but I'm going to ignore that. I am so looking forward to all of the fun activities fall brings.  Being a newlywed, I especially have lots of "fall" things I want to do with my husband.

My must-do fall date list:
1. Carve pumpkins (and bake the pumpkin seeds of course)
2. Go to a football game
3. Corn maze or haunted house
4. Watch a scary movie
5. Visit an apple cider mill and stock up on donuts and cider!

I'm also looking forward to decorating our apartment, making lots of delicious fall desserts, attempting to have a real Halloween costume this year (instead of my go-to outfit of some sort of sports jersey), and hopefully having some trick-or-treaters!
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First Post!

I definitely don't consider myself a "writer" by any means. I am hoping to use this blog as a way to document what is going on in my life and to talk about my favorite recipes, books, makeup products, whatever I feel like.

First, I just have to figure out how to use it!
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