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Thursday, February 28, 2013

early morning shadows

who needs toys?
early morning shadows provide
endless entertainment for this little guy!

love, laurie

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

mom's italian pasta fagioli

i'm part italian, so i'm sure it comes as no surprise that i absolutely love italian food.  one of my all-time favorite italian dishes is pasta fagioli, which is a traditional italian soup.  of course, there are countless variations of the recipe.  a few months ago i shared a copy cat recipe for olive garden's version of this soup.  however, today i wanted to share my family's version with you.

this recipe has literally been passed down through my family for generations.  my mom still has the old recipe card with the recipe for this soup written in my great grandmother's handwriting.  now that my great grandmother is gone, it is certainly something that we treasure.

growing up, one of the dishes that i remember my great grandmother making often was pasta fagioli.  she had her own spin on the recipe, as did my grandmother, and as did my mom.  out of all of the different variations of pasta fagioli that my family has made over the years, my mom's version is my favorite.

my mom's italian pasta fagioli soup recipe is a simple recipe that doesn't require many ingredients, and it is both quick and easy to make.  it is absolutely delicious, and it is a classic.  for me it is the perfect comfort food that reminds me of all of the sweet memories of my childhood.

ps: today i'm guest posting over on carrie's blog "frugal foodie mama" and sharing this pasta fagioli recipe.  there is also a giveaway there too.  so, be sure to check out my guest post and the giveaway here.

mom's italian pasta fagioli
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 20-25 minutes
yields: 4-5 servings

2 cups ditalini pasta, dry
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-5 large garlic cloves, minced
4 (8oz.) cans hunt's no salt added tomato sauce
2 cups cold water
1 (15oz. or 16oz.) can low sodium cannelloni beans
salt and ground pepper
parmesan cheese, grated

cook pasta according to package directions.  meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  do not let the garlic brown.  add the tomato sauce and the water.  allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.  drain and rinse the beans.  add the beans to the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes over low heat.  once the pasta has finished cooking, drain the pasta and add it to the soup.  serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.

love, laurie

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

lots of tissues and vitamin c at our house . . .

it's inevitable that germs catch up with you eventually in the winter, and they sure did catch up with ryan this week.  poor ryan is sick with a cold, and he has been home from work yesterday and today.

i have been doing my best to keep a safe distance from him so that i don't get sick too.  (sorry, ryan.  i love you, but i don't want your germs.)

at least ryan has a furry little kitten to keep him company while he is home recuperating from this cold.  leko sure has enjoyed "playing nurse" and resting with ryan to make him feel better.

hope you feel better soon, ryan!  i can't wait until you are back to your normal self!

love, laurie

Monday, February 25, 2013

how we watched the oscars . . .

on sunday night we curled up on the couch to watch the oscars.  we look forward to the oscars every year because they are like hollywood's version of the super bowl.

some people like to dress up and throw elaborate oscar viewing parties . . . not us, last night we just put on our comfy pajamas, made a big bowl of popcorn, and curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a cuddly kitten on our laps!  it was the perfect oscar party if you ask us.

happy monday!
love, laurie

Friday, February 22, 2013

neon pink cupcake frosting, left over mardi gras beads, and a cat in the refrigerator . . . oh you know, just a "typical" thursday night

yesterday afternoon, one of our co-workers asked ryan and i if we would bake 30 mini cupcakes for a baby shower that she was going to on saturday.  since she lives so far away, she wanted us to bring the cupcakes into work today.  it was pretty short notice, but we decided to do it anyway.  you know us . . . we can never pass up an opportunity to bake.

we thought that 30 cupcakes was a strange amount (considering most recipes make 12, 24, 36, etc.) but that is what she wanted.  so, last night after work we made cupcakes for our co-worker.  the shower was for a baby girl, so we topped the vanilla cupcakes with vibrant neon pink frosting and white nonpareil sprinkles.  they turned out pretty cute considering how quickly we threw them together.

while we were waiting for the cupcakes to bake in the oven, ryan found a string of pink beads left over from mardi gras.  ryan and leko had a blast playing with the beads on the kitchen floor.  (i promise ryan is laughing, not cringing.)

later in the evening, we opened the refrigerator and our sneaky little kitten jumped right inside.  (of course, he was looking for the tuna that was hiding on the top shelf.)

after just a few moments, he managed to get stuck between two of the shelves.  much to leko's disappointment, ryan rescued him and plucked him out of the refrigerator.  he would have stayed in there all night freezing his fur off if we would have let him!

i wonder why our electric bill is so high sometimes . . . humm, i think i found the reason.  :-)

you know, just a "typical" thursday night at our house.

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, February 21, 2013

snapshots of life lately, according to my iphone pictures

{iphone pictures via the instagram app}

. . .

i'm starting to notice a pattern . . .
my instagram account is always full of pictures of food and leko!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

national love your pet day

february 20th is national love your pet day!  to me, that sounds like the perfect excuse to pamper your furry friends with a little extra love!  of course, this means that leko is going to get extra spoiled today!  :-)

ps: today is also national cherry pie day too!

love, laurie

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

black-eyed pea salad with cilantro, onion, peppers, and lime balsamic vinaigrette

let's talk about black-eyed peas.  not the band, the food.  black-eyed peas really are not peas at all.  it's funny that we call them peas when they are actually beans.  regardless of their identity crisis, they are great in a salad.

this salad is full of black-eyed peas, three different colored peppers, fresh cilantro, and a tad of onion.  the whole salad is topped off with a lime balsamic vinaigrette which compliments the fresh veggies perfectly!  it's a light and refreshing salad with a whole lot of nutritional value too.

black-eyed pea salad with cilantro, onion, peppers, 
and lime balsamic vinaigrette 
prep time: 10-15 minutes
cooking time: 30-35 minutes
yields: 6-7 servings
adapted from kalyn's kitchen

salad ingredients:
8 cups cold water
16 oz. black-eyed peas, dry
2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup vidalia onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

dressing ingredients:
1 lime
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

to make the salad: in a large sauce pot, combine the water and the dry black-eyed peas.  bring the water to a boil and cook the black-eyed peas for approximately 30 minutes, or until they become tender.  drain the black-eyed peas and rinse well under cold water.  place the black-eyed peas in a large bowl and allow them to cool.  add the chopped cilantro, onion, and peppers.

to make the dressing: zest and juice the lime.  in a small bowl, whisk together the lime zest, lime juice, vinegar, and olive oil.  add the dressing to the salad, and toss well to combine.  season with salt and pepper to taste.

love, laurie

Monday, February 18, 2013

just a few snapshots from the weekend . . .

^portrait of a saturday morning^

^fluffy buttermilk waffles^

^kitchen organization^

^helping out with a few projects around the house^

^play time^

hope everyone had a lovely weekend
love, laurie

Friday, February 15, 2013

our valentine's day

^chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting
and dark chocolate hearts for our co-workers^

^my festive valentine's day nails^

^making dinner in my hearts apron^

^my valentine^

^white chocolate cheesecake with chocolate cookie crust
and raspberry hearts for dessert^ 

^my hand made valentine card from husband^

^lots of kisses for our sweet valentine kitten^

we had a great valentine's day yesterday.  we started off our day by taking cupcakes to work for our co-workers.  everyone was really appreciative, and our cupcakes were a huge hit.  after work, we came home and made dinner.  (we made steak, scallops, mushroom risotto, and broccoli.)  we knew that our good friend mary alice was going to be alone on valentine's day since her husband was out of town, so we invited her over to our house to join us for dinner.  we were really glad that she came over, and we had such a great time spending the evening with her.  hope everyone had a lovely valentine's day too!

love, laurie

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

fun links {valentine's day edition}

it has been awhile since i have done a fun links post.  so, since valentine's day is tomorrow, here are a few fun valentine's day themed links that i found around the internet recently:

turn leftover birthday candles into a valentine's day card.

heart sun catchers made from crayons and waxed paper.

heart cut out gift wrap.

d.i.y. love potion valentines.

bacon hearts.

chocolate heart sandwich cookies.

how to bake a heart into your cupcakes.

heart nail art.

heart bokeh.

give someone a valentine's day heart attack.

love, laurie

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

baked mocha cake doughnuts with coffee cream cheese glaze

happy mardi gras/fat tuesday/fausnaught day!  whatever you call it, i won't argue with a day that is basically an excuse to eat a doughnut.

that husband of mine is rather fond of doughnuts.  so, you can imagine how excited he was when i told him that i found a new doughnut recipe that i wanted to try.  

believe it or not, i'm not a huge doughnut lover.  don't get me wrong, i do enjoy an occasional doughnut, but they usually are not my go-to dessert indulgence of choice.  however, homemade doughnuts are a completely different story.  a completely different story.

no doubt, coffee and doughnuts are a match made in heaven.  so why not combine the two?

thus, i present to you (on this fausnaught day) mocha doughnuts with coffee cream cheese glaze.  really, how can you go wrong with this combination?

let me tell you a few things about these doughnuts . . .

first, these doughnuts are baked, not fried.  so, i guess you can feel a little bit better about them since they did not take a swim in an oil bath.

second, these doughnuts are cake doughnuts, not yeast doughnuts.  that's not to say that they are dense like the cake doughnuts that you might find in your local doughnut shoppe.  oh no, they are ethereally light and fluffy.

third, they are topped off with chocolate sprinkles.  fact: sprinkles make everything cuter.


now . . . yeast doughnuts are easy to make with just a set of biscuit cutters.  since they have yeast in them, they hold up well and don't loose their shape.  cake doughnuts are another story.  they need a little help from a doughnut pan in order to keep their shape.  go ahead, buy yourself a doughnut pan.  your life (and your waist line) will never be the same once you do.

baked mocha cake doughnuts with coffee cream cheese glaze
prep time: 5-10 minutes
baking time: 10 minutes
yields: 6 doughnuts
adapted from shutterbean

doughnut ingredients:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon decaffeinated instant coffee

glaze ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon decaffeinated instant coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons hot water
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

to make the doughnuts: preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. in a large bowl, beat together the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, egg, and brown sugar with an electric hand mixer.  sift the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and instant coffee into the batter.  beat well, until combined.  pour the batter into a resealable sandwich baggie.  use scissors to cut one of the bottom corners off the baggie, and squeeze the batter into a well-greased doughnut pan.  bake for 10 minutes, or until the doughnuts spring back when pressed lightly.  once baked, allow the doughnuts to cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

to make the glaze: in a small bowl, stir the instant coffee into the hot water until dissolved.  melt the cream cheese in the microwave, and beat the melted cream cheese into the coffee with an electric hand mixer.  add the milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  beat well, until combined.  dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze.  place the doughnuts on a wire rack with either aluminum foil or waxed paper under the rack in order to catch the dripping glaze.  decorate with chocolate sprinkles.

love, laurie