Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grits

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I am so, so excited to announce that the people at Serendipity by Sara Lynn (me) will be working with Sanford Ranch Beef, which sells local, steroid-free beef to the Northern Nevada area.  This is my first partnership, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with such a great company!  I first want to start off by promising that I only endorse businesses that I believe are wholesome and provide good quality products that I already use sans-partnership.  I do not believe in advocating products that I do not use regularly; therefore, I can assure you that all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.  I also want to let it be known that I am not being paid to post about Sanford Ranch Beef, although they did give me some all-natural, hormone-free steak, which let’s be real, is better than money anyhow.

And if you didn’t read that long ass paragraph, here’s a summary: I’m not a sellout.  Cool?  Cool!

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Sanford Ranch Beef is a local cattle ranch owned by my cousin, his wife, and their family.  They do not believe in using hormones, steroids, or fillers in their beef, so the product is completely farm-to-mouth.  Their cattle is grass-fed and finished with mash (grain) from a local brewery in town – that means that the beef tastes slightly of hops, but not overwhelmingly so.  They sell boxes of beef to people in the Northern Nevada area – if you live in Reno, Fallon, or other areas of N. Nevada and you like all-natural, ethical food, and supporting local business, visit their Facebook or website and give them a call!

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Even if you do not live in Northern Nevada, I urge you to support local farmers and ranchers that live near you.  By buying local food, you support families in your state and get healthier products (and you know where they’re coming from).  When you buy from a store, you don’t know the distribution process – when you buy local, you can ask the owner yourself!  By visiting farmer’s markets, you can find local produce, dairy, meat, bakers, and the like so you’re always getting the freshest ingredients!  For a list of local farmers in your area, click here.

P.S. Since farmer’s market season is almost over, I recommend looking up local farmers/ranchers on Google or asking people in your community!  Local food is easier to get than you think!

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Over the weekend, I used some short ribs from my box of beef to make braised short ribs with cheddar grits and roasted brussels sprouts.  It’s definitely a Sunday meal, because the braising takes a few hours, but this meal is so easy and impressive if you’re having guests over!

Both recipes are courtesy of Food Network.

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Stay tuned for more beef recipes!

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Morning Dew by The National (cover)

 

A Day in SF – French Food and the Botanical Garden

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As I’ve mentioned countless times in the past, visiting San Francisco for the weekend is one of my favorite things to do, especially since I live so close!  I will be posting updates with all of my best SF recommendations as I continue to visit.  Stay tuned for my favorite restaurants, bars, activities, and places to go!

The last time I was in The City, I dropped by Haight-Ashbury to hit some of my favorite spots.  Haight-Ashbury has an incredibly unique art culture and history, so I always try to stop by if I have the chance.  In addition to going to some of my favorite stores, I have been learning more about the neighborhood restaurants, coffee places, and other local spots.  As soon as the Uber dropped us off, I grabbed a capp at Stanza Coffee Bar and went to this really cool art store called Mendel’s to pick up some fabric.  I always try to stop by Mendel’s when I’m in the city, because they have a huge variety of art supplies you can’t find in run-of-the-mill places.  Afterwards, I went to one of the most unique thrift/vintage shops, Decades of Fashion, just to check out what they had in stock – if you love vintage clothing or unique costumes, definitely stop by!  I also made sure to hit one of my favorite record stores, Rasputin Music, which has a large variety of CDs, records, and DVDs, both old and new, classic and recent.  After a couple hours of shopping, we were pretty hungry and looking for restaurants close by.  I had never eaten at a restaurant in Haight-Ashbury before this trip, so I was excited to see what the neighborhood had to offer.  Trusting solely on Yelp reviews, we decided on what turned out to be an amazing French restaurant called Zazie, just a few blocks up on Cole St.

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Zazie is located on a quiet street in a narrow space, that I believe is an old apartment building.  The ambience is classic French bistro, with yellow walls and pretty wooden tables.  They have many of the French favorites, breakfast, lunch, and specials including the pancakes I got!  I had poppy pancakes with lemon curd and strawberries, and they came with a side of potatoes.  I also got their house tea, which was amazing!  Other orders were the Croque Madame and the French toast, which were both delicious (based on the few bites I had!).

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After brunch at Zazie, we drove over to Golden Gate Park to enjoy the beautiful NoCal weather.  Golden Gate Park is one of my favorite places in San Francisco, so I definitely wanted to take a long walk, especially after a few stressful weeks at home.  Previous to this trip, I had walked past the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park multiple times, but I had never actually gone in.  This time, I thought it would be fun to walk around since the tickets are fairly inexpensive, especially if you have a student ID!  The Botanical Gardens were beautiful, with all kinds of unique plants and greenery.  It was a very peaceful way to spend an afternoon, especially in the busyness of the city.

Later that night, we walked around near the beach and enjoyed a quiet dinner (can’t remember the name of the restaurant – if I see it next time I’m in SF, I’ll update).

If you need any more recommendations, feel free to reach out!  San Fran is one of my favorite places to go, so I have lots of things to share!

For a list of my favorite coffee places in SF, click here.

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Horchata by Vampire Weekend

BLT Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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Clearly, I’ve been having a moment with BLTs lately.  This is the second BLT-related post in the past month, which some may claim is incredulous, but I think is completely justified since bacon + bread + in-season tomatoes = heaven.  Also, can we take a moment to literally laugh out loud, because in that same Basic BLT post, I went on and on and on about how there are just some foods, such as BLTs, that should be left alone (I believe the direct quote was “BLTs should be BLTs and nothing more”) and then I turn around and turn a classic into a salad.  Blasphemy.  Who gave me this kind of power?

To make up for my intense hypocrisy, I may even forgive you if you decide to say, put something like turkey on your BLT, which I still believe is just a club sandwich, so if you’re going to get that far, you might as well add some good swiss to the mix.  However, I do ask that you maintain your dignity while doing so.  If I happen to come across a BLT utilizing ridiculous ingredients such curry powder or sauerkraut as an act of outright defiance against my Rule of Simplicity, we’ll have a problem here, people.

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Since it’s Labor Day weekend a.k.a. probably the last BBQ weekend of the year (at least for us colder cities), I thought I’d share this salad recipe, which goes perfectly with Tri-tip and grilled corn, burgers, or brats.  It only takes about 15 minutes to mix up, which leaves you plenty of time to enjoy your last late-night patio session of the summer before the fall creeps in.  I’m already starting to miss summer and the fresh food that comes along with it, but I can’t wait to share some wonderful fall-inspired recipes that I’ve been testing lately.  I hope you love pie, spices, and savory food straight out of the oven, because there’s plenty of that making its way to my little corner of the internet.  Also, probably some good sweater and Tahoe pics, since you know I love sharing my fun trips and outfits with you all ♥  Stay tuned for more!

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I hope you have an amazing Labor Day weekend with your friends and family!

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Life Itself by Glass Animals

Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookies

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I’ve spent the last couple of days not even realizing that it’s September.  Mentally, I have been completely checked out, which has been rudely unhelpful considering I just started my senior year of college this past Monday.  The most surprising aspect of this scenario is that a mere 2 1/2ish months ago, I was in complete denial that I was almost done with the college portion of my life.  Where did the time go?!  Wasn’t I supposed to cherish this more?  Get more involved?  How are my 20s going this fast?  SOS.

However, the closer I get to graduation, the more I realize the wonderful things ahead of me.  Traveling around Europe.  Getting a dog.  Interviewing for my first big girl job.  Getting said big girl job.  Buying my first house.  Opening up my coffee shop.  Hopefully eventually getting married, which I’ve heard can sometimes be fun.  Putting things into those perspectives can be really enlightening, especially when they’re looked at from a broad, futuristic viewpoint.  It’s not that I necessarily expect every single one of those things to happen (or at least when I expect them to), but I love having future accomplishments or events to look forward to.  Because, as far as I’m concerned, every Millennials’ goal should be to plan, plan, plan – but also, be flexible.  Plan that trip to Thailand!  Take that class on how to make perfect bread!  Finish writing all those songs you’ve been stumbling over for months!  And yes, while these are things that I would like to do, everyone should have their own goals, and hopefully with time, everything uncontrollable will fall into place.

And if I am totally wrong about all of this, please do not tell me, because I like to be unrealistic idealistic.

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If I have not yet mentioned this a thousand times in the past, baking is one of many outlets I use to help relieve stress when I’m in the midst of school and work busyness.  Along with playing instruments, I’m usually baking if I have a day off on the weekend.  Sometimes, I tackle more difficult or time consuming projects like cinnamon rolls or strawberry galettes with homemade crust, but other times, I like to stick to something that can be made super easily!  Usually in those times, I make my favorite 15 minute brownie recipe or chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorites, which is pretty much a given, because they’re essentially everyones’ favorite.  Since they’re everyones’ favorite, everyone also has their favorite recipe.  If you scour the internet, it’s filled to the brim with a million “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever” recipes.  That market is saturated, folks.  However, this recipe is one that I have adapted from the original Nestle Tollhouse recipe, and I think it’s absolutely perfect.  If you watch Friends, you know what I mean.

As for the butterscotch chips, I’m not sure when I really became obsessed.  I don’t know that I’ve necessarily had anything that was true “butterscotch” flavor, but one time I had some butterscotch chip cookies, and I thought they were amazing.  With that said, I always love classic chocolate chip cookies the best.  Sometimes, I just want a little bit more fun, and that’s when butterscotch gets added to the mix (literally).  As for my recipe, I have made slight adjustments that fit with my taste preferences over the years , but you can use the original Nestle recipe if you prefer.  You can also use all chocolate chips in my adjusted recipe if you like that better than butterscotch!

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*Recipe Notes:  1. I live at a higher altitude, so I use 2 1/2 c. of flour to stabilize the cookie dough a little more.  If you live at sea-level, you can use 2 1/4 c. like the original recipe, or you can use 2 1/2 for a little bit of a thicker, chewier cookie.  The rest of the ingredients will work at both sea-level and high-altitude.  2.  I add the cornstarch, which makes the cookies a little bit softer, but it is not necessary if you do not have it at home.

Have a beautiful weekend ♥

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Will I Come by King Krule

7 Magic Mountains

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Signs of fall have slowly been inching into Reno one-by-one.  Many people would disagree with me, as it’s still in the 80s and 90s during the day, but as an early-morning barista, I know the true story.  It begins when I wake up in the morning before anybody else, and grab a sweater on the way out the door, because it’s 6:00 a.m., it’s in the late 50s, and my tank top isn’t cutting it.  I head to work, and still groggy, brew the drip coffee first thing.  I grab a mug, letting it warm my hands as I turn on the grinder.  The sunlight finally appears as I switch on the open sign, and Reno starts to warm steadily.  The kicker of this situation is that Reno is always at least a little bit cool when it’s dark outside.  That’s what makes it the perfect place to host bonfires and sit on the porch late into the night mid-July.  However, there’s a different feel to the air when it starts turning into fall.  It’s slightly colder, and the air smells different.  I don’t know how to explain it, but I know it when it appears.

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Although I absolutely love fall, it also signals the beginning of classes, which I will be attending in just a few, short days.  Naturally, I’m already missing summer and all of my little adventures.  A few weeks ago, I visited Vegas for my brother’s graduation party and to help my parents move some stuff into their new house in Reno.  I had recently been told about the 7 Magic Mountains, an art exhibit by Ugo Rondinone located in the middle of the desert, by a friend from the Nevada Museum of Art where I regularly volunteer.  Hearing about it, I knew I had to go.  Huge, brightly colored boulders in the middle of drab, dry Southern Nevada desert?  Amazing.

The drive out to the 7 Magic Mountains is super easy but a little confusing.  Just take the I-15 South to Sloan Rd., turn left onto Las Vegas Blvd, and drive for about 15-20 minutes.  However, you won’t see the exhibit itself until the last minute – this is the confusing part.  You’re driving and driving, and all you see is flat desert.  Then, a tiny hill, and then…suddenly there’s an enormous, rainbow sculpture right to the left.  Luckily, there’s a parking lot right out front.  After a short walk, you’re looking straight up at overwhelmingly large, neon rocks.

Now, I went to the 7 Magic Mountains in the midst of Vegas summer, when heatwaves radiate off of the pavement late into the afternoon, and you get an instant sunburn walking to your car.  While the exhibit was amazing, it was absolutely not the best summer activity.  But Vegas fall?  Beautiful!  This would be an amazing Sunday afternoon activity in late October/early November.  If you will be traveling there, please take a break from casinos and drinking, and go see this!  Locals of course should take the trip – Nevada culture is flourishing and so important to support!

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Accidental model pose.

Unfortunately, the 7 Magic Mountains have already been vandalized (this is why we can’t have nice things), but they are still breathtaking and worth the visit.  However, because of this, I want to give my little spiel on art: Artists work incredibly hard to improve this world through beauty, whether it’s painting, music, dance, sculpture, or any other medium.  Please be respectful to their art, support it, and love it.  Spread the word.  Help your community by supporting local museums and events.  If Reno can change as drastically as it has in the past few years, many communities can also.

Click here for more information on the 7 Magic Mountains.

Does the dress look familiar?  This might be why.  It’s one of my favorites!

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Full Circle by Half Moon Run

 

 

Basic BLT

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Living in Reno means that I live a short three and a half hours away from the beautiful Bay area and amazing wine country, which has both its perks and its downfalls.  Perks include relaxing weekend getaways, good wine being delivered straight to local mom and pop’s doors, and the influence of The City* trickling into the BLC**.  And the downfalls?  Weekend getaways are $$$.  Good wine is $$$.  Then there’s The City’s influence on Reno…

See, Reno’s culture has significantly changed in the last few years.  Reno has gone from a failing casino city to a hip, local college town with amazing restaurants, bars, coffee shops, thrift stores, record stores, book stores, parks, events, music, etc. etc. etc.  Not all people appreciate BLC culture, but damn I love it.  However, with the influence comes the the traffic, and the increase in rent, and…the fusion.  Asian fusion.  Greek fusion.  Italian-German fusion with a twist of California fusion.  And, okay fine, fusion can be cool, but some things are just meant to be left alone.  Including BLTs.

It seems as if every restaurant I go to lately has “their version” of a BLT, with 100 other letters attached to the end to show how different their bacon sandwich is from every other restaurant.  BLTTC = Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Turkey, Cheddar, which I’m sorry is just a club sandwich.  BLTGC = BLT grilled cheese, which just shouldn’t be a thing.  And BLTA?!  A BLT with avocado?!?!  Okay, that one’s fair, and it works, but I have a slight allergy to avocado, so it doesn’t work for me.  BLTs should be BLTs and nothing more.  Nobody asked for this madness.

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Luckily, you have me to set the record straight.  Here’s how you should be doing your BLT.

  1. Grab a loaf of good bread.  I like sourdough, but white or buttermilk also work.  Toast it ya’ll.
  2. Bake your bacon.  I swear.  You better do it.
  3. Find a good tomato.  It has to be a good one.  Slice it thinly.  This isn’t a tomato sandwich.
  4. Freshly ground black pepper does wonders.
  5. Add avocado if you must, but please don’t tell me.

There’s definitely some gaps in there, but I’ll fill them in later.  For now, I want to clarify what is deemed appropriate to serve with BLTs.  Hint: it’s potato chips and beer.  Iced tea if you don’t drink alcohol.

Okay, that’s it.  Those are the rules.  And here’s the recipe:

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If you want some other do-not-mess-with-me recipes, check out my 3 Bean Chili and Vanilla Creme Brulee!

XO Sara Lynn

Song of the Day: Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg

*The City = San Francisco
**BLC = The Biggest Little City a.k.a. Reno

Ginger Old Fashioned

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Hello, my name is Sara Lynn, and I am a young NYC man living in the year 1958 a 20-something woman who loves Old Fashioned cocktails.  But you can call me Don Draper.

Today, I will be sharing my favorite Old Fashioned recipe, because it’s my birthday, and I will be celebrating with Bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange peel all night long if I have my way.  However, I’ll try to sneak a lemon drop or Manhattan in, so I can feel like Carrie Bradshaw.  I may have an identity crisis at the end of the night, but so be it.  Tonight is for celebration and cake and drinks with my friends!

Last summer while I was in London, the beers and ciders became kind of mundane after my 200th IPA.  One night, a group of (other) Nevada students and I went to a bar down the road from our dorm where I asked the bartender if they could mix cocktails.  Ignoring the slightly dubious look in the recent high-school-grad-of-a-bartender’s eyes, I asked for an old fashioned, which he then responded with, “What’s in it?”.  It was then that I learned that old fashioneds are American cocktails, and that England is strictly for wine, beer, and cider.  Message received.

I had an old fashioned when I flew home to the states, and while London is my absolute favorite place in the world, I’d really love if they would learn the finesse of an old fashioned.  (Or, if I just ended up at the wrong spot, if a local could recommend a good place for some whiskey).  However, since the first time I tried an old fashioned, I’ve been obsessed and haven’t looked back.

My first old fashioned was made with Bulleit bourbon and served out of a Tigger coffee mug around Christmas time while it snowed outside.  That’s a true story.  I’ve come a long way since then, but I can’t say that scenario won’t reoccur.  I am in college after all, and sometimes Disney coffee mugs are the only vehicle for alcoholic beverages.  However, I still do not own whiskey mugs, so discount water glasses bought at Home Goods will have to do for now.  The classic old fashioned is made with sugar cubes, Angostura bitters, citrus peel, ice, and Bourbon.  However, with the warmer weather, I decided to twist it up with some grenadine and Ginger Ale to make it a little more summery.  I love slow-sipping drinks, and I definitely think this one is perfect for an outdoor BBQ.

If you are more of a traditionalist, you can make the recipe the classic way without the Ginger Ale, maraschino cherries, and grenadine.  Or, if you like a drier drink, you can sub Club Soda for Ginger Ale.  If you’re having a party, you can leave these ingredients out for people to make their own Old Fashioned cocktails while you cook or talk with your friends. Old Fashioneds are forgiving and appealing to most cocktail-drinkers, so I consider them the perfect party drink.

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As a bday present to me, please make this Old Fashioned tonight (or order one at your favorite bar😉 )

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Dreaming by Seapony