Sparkling Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade

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Ok, I know it’s been 10 days since July started, but happy July!!!  Did everyone have a great Fourth?  I spent mine getting fried to a lobster-y red crisp while floating the Truckee River on a donut tube, and it was *worth it*.  Everyone was out, and it was like a giant Fourth of July party!  The water wasn’t even that cold, and I became friends with a guy dressed like Jack Sparrow.  I christened him Pirate Steve, and then he gave us a bunch of PBRs that were kept cold by the melted ice water that is the Truckee River.  Pirate Steve was the ~homie~.  We kept scraping our backs and booties on the rocks, since the river was fairly low, but if you don’t have battle scars, did you even float the Truckee?

After floating for a few hours, we doused our sunburned bodies in all the lotion we could find in the house, and then we went out for some beers at a local biergarten!  We ate lots of chicken wings and watched some fireworks and stayed out well past my bedtime.  The next two days at work, I wanted to absolutely die from exhaustion and mid-week, post-holiday laziness.  However, I made up for it this past weekend, because I helped move the boyfriend into his new apartment, and there was no parking in front of his house which meant we were carrying boxes down two blocks and up two flights of stairs in 90-something degree weather.  It was ok though, because I think I got, as the kids would say, swoll, and then we celebrated with pizza and beer!

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Now let’s talk about the perfection that is sparkling strawberry bourbon lemonade!  When I was in Vegas, I met the bf’s family, and they made this huge, amazing dinner.  His cousin is apparently a cocktail-aficionado, and he threw together a huge pitcher of bourbon lemonade that almost made me die.  It was so good.  I basically took the same idea for this recipe, and then added strawberries, because everything is better with tons of strawberries added to it.  It’s perfect for summer BBQs and summer drinking, because it doesn’t taste toooo heavy and boozy, but it gets the job done.  The hardest part is pureeing the strawberries, which I’m confident you can handle.

We took this in a big punch bowl to a Third of July BBQ.  Third of July BBQs are when you want to have a Fourth of July BBQ but you work the next day, so you celebrate the day before instead.  Or, in my case, you make bad decisions and celebrate both nights and don’t recover until Sunday night.  Whatever.  I digress.  This lemonade rocked.  Everyone who tried it loved it.  Make it.  Double it.  Put it in a huge bowl, and let people ladle it out and party their faces off.  The end!

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Little Dark Age by MGMT

Thai Cucumber Salad

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I just got back from Vegas, and it was hot as f%^#*@((%.  I totally forgot what Vegas summer is like, and I think I almost died.  There is no escape.  It’s like being under a blowdryer.  It’s that feeling of when you open the oven and it burns your face.  It’s like your body is turning to dust and also you’re pouring a waterfall of sweat at the same time.  But!!! I had so much fun.  I got to go shopping with my grandma and spent probably three days worth of work on sandals.  My grandpa took me to breakfast at the golf club on multiple occasions.  I went to the second tiki bar of my life (the first being in Bergen, Norway, fun fact), and I drank all kinds of rum drinks and laughed with my friends.  Then, I woke up with my first Vegas hangover.  I breathed in a whole lot more cigarette smoke than I have ever wanted to.  I also got lost in my own hometown, and I was offended.  When did Vegas change the roads??  And, I found a lovely specialty coffeeshop near my childhood home, which didn’t even open until after I moved away!

Lastly, and this is the biggest and most confusing change since I moved away, I saw a professional hockey stadium!  And like, ok, the hockey stadium has been there for a while, but we have a real, professional sports team in Nevada!  It’s INSANE around here.  Every sports bar until recently had been filled with black-and-gold laden hockey bros surrounding every TV in every bar across the state.  I hate to shatter the illusion that is Vegas, but this really is the most exciting thing happening in our state rn.

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Now that I’m back in Reno, and it’s still hot as all get out, I’ve been working on summery recipes to help cool me down.  I’ve been making tons of salads and eating cucumbers like it’s my damn job.  I know that makes me sound like someone who doesn’t get out much, and you’d be right.  But I really do love cucumbers and especially when they’re covered in vinegar.

Back in Vegas, there’s this Thai restaurant that I love, and it’s the Thai restaurants that got me into Thai food.  It’s soooo good.  I think about it a lot, especially their basil noodles and lemon chicken.  However, when I moved to Reno and started trying other Thai restaurants is when I discovered Thai cucumber salad.  And I died.  Because it’s like pickles but so much better.  I will make an entire batch of this for lunch, and sometimes I add carrots and peanuts!  I like to make it with chicken satay, yellow curry, Thai noodles, etc.  Also, it’s perfect with BBQ even if it’s not Thai BBQ.  It just works for all things is basically what I’m trying to say.  I posted a recipe for Thai cucumber salad a while back, and that one was good, but this one is definitely the way to go.  If you need me, I’ll be on my back porch grilling and eating cucumbers in abundance, bye!!

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Ran by Future Islands

Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel

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To know me and my dad is to know that we are utterly obsessed with coconut.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I planned a family BBQ and somehow got talked into making an entire coconut cream pie.  The conversation went something along the lines of –

Me: “So we’ll have tri-tip, carrot salad, and I’ll make a pie.  What else would be good with this?  Some asparagus?”

My mom: “Maybe potatoes gratin.”

My dad: “I think coconut cream pie would go great with all of those things…”

So apparently, I was making coconut cream pie.  Although I was planning on making a peach galette, the coconut cream pie option was totally fine, because I lovelovelove coconut and have been thinking about making a coconut cream pie for ages.  The original plan was to make it with a graham cracker crust in a springform pan that would tour high and show off all its beautiful layers.  However, my dad made it clear that it was to be made with a regular pie crust.  SO I used my favorite, trusty, all-time favorite, fool-proof pie dough recipe using my food processor (because I was feeling lazy), and then threw a bunch of good shit into that pie crust, because pie dough in any form + good shit = the best dessert ever.

In the end, my ideal BBQ centered around the wonderment of the three bushels of pansies I planted didn’t work out.  It rained and hailed the whole day in true Reno fashion 😭  In a more positive light, it was the most wonderful day for baking in jammies, and we still BBQed our tri-tip even though it was only, like 30° F outside!  Also, my mom and I may have gotten to talking over a bottle of Pinot Noir, and my asparagus got baked for too long and turned into what I can only call “asparagus chips”.  Which, as it turns out, are a perfect food.  I’m going to start a new trend of asparagus chips that replace kale chips, do not @ me on this.

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This coconut cream pie was quite the process, and I can’t even lie to you, it is for sure a weekend project.  Especially if you make your pie crust like I did, which I highly recommend, but will not judge you if you go store-bought.  You will also be making homemade caramel sauce with macadamia nuts.  The caramel adds a nice textural component that I usually do not find in coconut cream pie, and it is absolutely necessary for this recipe, unless you are deathly allergic to macadamia nuts, and then I guess you’d better skip them.

THEN!  You’ll make this slightly-sweet, lightly-coconutty custard that is both easy to make and so silky you’ll practically die.  This is not me being dramatic, ok?

Lastly, you’ll cover the somabitch in whipped cream and toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes, and it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever had.  Just trust me on this.

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Dark Side of the Gym by The National

 

Funfetti Pancakes

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I have used more sprinkles in the past few weeks than I have over the course of my entire life.  First, it was Molly Yeh’s funfetti cake, which my best friend and I decided to add extra sprinkles to, and then I unicorned it for my cousin’s sixth birthday.  (Side note: The amount of effort it takes to make a unicorn horn that doesn’t look like a wiener is actually impressive, but I don’t think I did too bad for my first time?).  The next notable encounter with sprinkles involved these pancakes.  Back in the good old days of SSL, I made a ‘birthday cake pancakes’ recipe with ‘homemade cake batter’.  As an avid anti-cake batter proponent, I was dead set on making the birthday cake pancakes that were floating around Pinterest but without boxed cake mix; at the time, this was downright impossible to find on the internet, and I went through a whole process of making homemade ‘cake batter’ that involved a food processor and a freezer.  Overall, way too much time for Sunday-morning pancakes, and while they tasted like cake, it still wasn’t the perfect funfetti flavor that I was looking for.

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I’m not sure if the ‘birthday cake pancakes’ trend is still relevant anymore, but as far as I’m concerned, anyone who doesn’t support sprinkle-y, rainbow-y breakfast foods is just a force of negativity nobody needs in their lives 🤷  That’s why I recently decided to revisit the funfetti pancake trend sans cake mix using some recently discovered knowledge!  It all started when I read Bon Appetit’s feature on Momofuku Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake.  The main takeaway was that the key secret ingredient to any homemade funfetti cake is artificial vanilla flavoring!!!  At first, I kind of freaked out, because I am a die-hard member of #TeamRealVanilla, but I thought about it and thought about it, and it totally makes sense.  After I read Molly Yeh’s funfetti recipe, I was downright convinced.  I looked over my original funfetti pancakes recipe, and realized that the ‘homemade cake batter’ step was 100% unnecessary; you don’t need ‘cake batter’, you just need artificial vanilla flavoring + sprinkles.  Duhhhhhhhh.  With this knowledge fresh in my mind, I decided to take my favorite pancake recipe (that I’ve never actually posted here, sorry world) and add artificial vanilla flavoring and my favorite rainbow sprinkles.  These can be found in most baking or ice cream sections of the grocery store – they are colorful and pretty and include absolutely no chocolate sprinkles which is of upmost importance to me.  However, if all you can find is the kind with chocolate sprinkles, I will forgive you and move on with my life.

What resulted from all of these experiments was a fluffy, buttery pancake that brought me back to childhood birthday parties, except in this scenario, I’m an adult who gets to eat cake-flavored treats for breakfast whenever I feel like it!!!  6 years of funfetti pancake research was 100% worth it.

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: You Say I’m in Love by Banes World

Everything Bagel Popcorn

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Growing up, one of my all-time favorite things to do was spend the night at my grandparent’s house.  My grandma and I would sew, take a ride in the golf cart, and have tea parties.  My grandpa would buy me ice cream and take me to breakfast after church on Sunday mornings.  Whatever sports game he was watching would blare throughout the house, and every time I smell Listerine, I think of my grandpa.  He has a green comb that he keeps on a side table next to his recliner.  My grandma has a violin hanging on a velvet backdrop across the room.  My grandparents have lived in this house my whole life, and it’s still one of my most comforting, happy places.

At these sleepovers, my grandpa would always go to bed super early, and my grandma and I would watch a movie on their old, boxy TV that always had the color off-balance.  Each time, my grandma and I would make popcorn before watching My Fair Lady or whatever new cartoon had just come out on VHS.  Usually, we would just make the microwavable, bagged kind, but one night when we didn’t have any, my grandma pulled out an old, yellow popcorn popper and some kernels in the back of the pantry.  We had hot, buttery, salty popcorn, and it was life-changing.  From then on, we only had popcorn from that machine.  Eventually, my grandma gave me that popcorn popper, and it’s the one I still use today.

You know the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted has a coffee-maker named Shocky that always zaps him when he plugs it in?  The Popcorn Pumper is my Shocky.  It’s not quite as bad as Ted’s, but it definitely sparks a bit when you plug it in, and all of the pieces fall apart if you just breathe on the machine, so it’s kind of like playing Jenga every time you make popcorn.  But it’s my favorite thing in my kitchen, and I will keep it until it just doesn’t go anymore.  According to a quick Google search, it was made in 1978, so I think it’s here to stay.

Last night, I ate popcorn for dinner.  I came home from work, and there were no groceries in the fridge, and I had eaten my last leftovers for lunch.  I had two options: go to the grocery store (not likely) or scrounge up whatever I could.  I found an array of veggies, some nutritional yeast, popcorn kernels, and a container of plain Greek yogurt.  After eating all the veggies I could manage in order to make me feel like a grown up, I decided I only had one choice: popcorn for dinner.  Plus, I had that nutritional yeast, and I have heard time and time again that it goes swell with popcorn and gives it a “cheesy” flavor.  And it’s good for you, so healthy cheesy popcorn for dinner is ok?!?! Also, I added everything spice, because when don’t I add everything spice?  The savory, cheesy flavor from the nutritional yeast combined with the everything spice actually tasted like a bagel which is all I can really hope for in life.  I made a big batch, cuddled up on the couch, and watched movies while the rain drizzled outside.  Bell slept next to me, pausing from her naps to take an occasional bite of popcorn.  I thought of my sleepovers with my grandma and grandpa.  It was perfect.


 


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Still Lovely by Banes World

Watermelon-Rhubarb Margaritas

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IMG_5158I have a fairly strict criteria when it comes to my margs: fresh lime, on the rocks, salt.  I’m pretty leery of  margarita mixes that are the color of Dipsy the Teletubby and taste like lime-flavored candy in all the wrong ways.  My favorite Mexican restaurant in town makes perfect margaritas made in what can only be described as fish bowls, so usually I just use a margarita craving as an excuse to go eat chile rellenos + all the chips and salsa in the restaurant.  However, this weekend is both Cinco de Mayo and my cousin’s sixth birthday, so we’re going to throw a unicorn-themed Mexican food night!  I’m bringing a pitcher of margaritas + unicorn cupcakes.  Rumor has it there will also be a piñata and coloring books.  It’s going to be off the chain!!!

On another note, I’ll be in Napa next weekend visiting lots of family and celebrating Mother’s Day with my mama and grandma!  We’re going to stop at Ikeda’s on the way to eat cheeseburgers and buy lots of fresh produce and then we’ll spend Saturday night making a birthday dinner for my grandma.  I’m hoping there’s going to be lots of good wine involved!  Maybe I’ll make a super special cake??

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I’m fairly late to the game when it comes to rhubarb, meaning I never had it until it was baked into a strawberry pie I tried a few years ago.  Also, I’ve never cooked with it.  I know, am I even a food blogger?!  Luckily, Instagram inspired me this week, and even though I had to go to multiple grocery stores to find it, I walked victoriously out of the store with armfuls of rhubarb!  Then I threw it in a blender with some watermelon and tequila, because what else would I do the week of Cinco de Mayo?  They turned out the most beautiful shade of pink, which obviously is perfect for a unicorn party.  The mix of sweet watermelon + tart rhubarb is amazing and so refreshing with tequila.

This recipe makes a large pitcher that will serve eight people, but you can easily halve it or even quarter it for just a few drinks.  You could also blend it if you like frozen margaritas – just add 3-4 cups of ice or freeze the watermelon before blending it all up.  For this recipe, I added about half a cup of simple syrup, but if your watermelon is especially sweet, I would start with a quarter cup and work your way up.  Once the summer melons come out, you probably won’t need very much simple syrup at all!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Watermelon-Rhubarb Margaritas
Serves 8

Ingredients

6 c. watermelon (about 3-3.5 lb. personal watermelon)
2 c. rhubarb (about 1/2 lb.)
1 1/2 c. white tequila
1/2 c. Triple Sec
1/4-1/2 c. simple syrup
4 limes, juiced
Salt, for rim
Watermelon, limes, and rhubarb, for garnish

In a blender, juice the watermelon and rhubarb together (you may have to do this in two separate batches).  Immediately strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing out all the juice with a spoon.  You will have about a half cup of fibrous pulp leftover.

Mix the watermelon-rhubarb juice with the tequila, triple sec, simple syrup, and lime juice in a pitcher.  Salt the rims of 8 glasses, and divide the margaritas between each glass.  Garnish with extra watermelon, lime slices, and rhubarb.

*Note: Try your watermelon before you make these.  If it’s really sweet, start with 1/4 c. of simple syrup, and add more as necessary.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Grita el Silencio by Alfonso André

Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

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There’s a restaurant in Reno called Campo that makes a kale salad and, not even kidding, it makes me crave kale salads.  It’s lemony, garlicky, and topped with crispy parmesan and a poached egg.  I think about it a lot and have considered going there just for a kale salad and their caramel budino, but I don’t want to be judged by the servers, even though I think kale + caramel pudding is the epitome of balance.  I guess you could call the salad “famous” by Reno standards, and the original owner of the restaurant was even nice enough to post the full recipe online.

In an effort to convince you guys I don’t constantly eat potatoes and brownies, I decided to post this kale salad, which is a typical meal I serve on the weekdays.  This came about after I looked through my Insta the other day and noticed that practically everything is covered in cheese or sugar, aside from the carrot salad I’ve been obsessing over lately.  Obviously, it’s inspired by my favorite at Campo, but unfortunately this particular version is not served with the bacon-y bolognese, wine, and a caramel budino that I’ve grown accustomed to.  However, what I love about this salad is that I can come home from work, take the puppy on a walk, work out, and quickly whip up a full meal in like, 10 minutes, which I eat while watching Friends or Arrested Development for the millionth time.  I have that spring-fever if you can’t tell.

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A few years ago, back when SSL was just a baby blog, I posted a recipe for “healthy” Caesar dressing made with Greek yogurt.  Back then, I couldn’t find recipes for Greek yogurt Caesar online, but I knew it would work, and I was determined to find a healthier Caesar alternative.  I was way big into tags like “healthy”, “low-fat” “sugar-free”, etc. back then, which I have clearly moved on from.  However, that Caesar dressing was actually pretty healthy, and it quickly became the most popular recipe on my blog thanks to Pinterest.  I was going through it the other day and cringing at the old pictures, which I’m sure were taken on an iPhone in my parent’s kitchen.  Inspired by Campo’s salad, I decided to recreate the dressing to fit my current tastes.  It is essentially the same recipe aside from a couple tiny changes (which I will note).  I also wanted to update the pictures and show a different way to make a Caesar.  Another plus: beside it being a healthier alternative to regular dressing, I love how creamy and tangy the Greek yogurt makes this dressing, or any dressing for that matter.

P.S. I don’t know if it’s possible, but I think I might actually like my version of this kale salad better than Campo’s (???).  It’s creamy, garlicky, lemony, and totally meant for a poached egg.  Of course, no recipe I make will ever beat Campo’s caramel budino 🤷

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Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing
Serves 4 (side dish) or 2 (meal)

Ingredients for Salad

6-8 c. dinosaur kale (or curly kale)
1/2 c. parmesan, shredded
2-4 poached eggs (2 for meal, 4 for side)
Lemon, for serving
Pepper, for serving

Ingredients for Dressing

1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. parmesan, grated
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper and spray well with olive oil or cooking spray.  Place 1 Tbs. of parmesan in a little mound, making 8 mounds.  Spread each mound out into an even layer.  Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until crispy.  Let cool and remove from baking sheet.

Remove kale leaves from the tough stems.  Chop into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk together the Greek yogurt, parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and Dijon.  Drizzle in olive oil while whisking, until incorporated.  Whisk in water, to thin.  Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad, place kale on a platter.  Toss with the desired amount of Caesar dressing.  Place parmesan crisps on top whole, or crumble them.  Serve with warm poached eggs, fresh pepper, and lemon.  I also like red pepper flakes on the top of my salad.

*Note: The original recipe had 1/2 Tbs. parmesan, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. spicy brown mustard, 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. olive oil, and 2-3 tsp. of water.  This version is still good although a little less flavorful than the updated recipe.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Chronic Sunshine by Cosmo Pyke

 

Coffee Toddy

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Hello from stormy Seattle where I’m spending the next few days doing all kinds of fun things like working a coffee trade show (!!!) and researching the best whiskey cocktail in the city.  The next few days will be absolutely crazy for me, because I get to see all the insane coffee companies I stalk  follow on Instagram and meet some really amazing people making strides in the industry!  I’m going to drink twenty shots of espresso a day and then die by way of over-caffeination.  After that’s over, I’m going to head over to the Upers and Downers section where they keep the booze, and I’m going to schmooze and pass out my business cards to anyone who will take them at the after parties!  My first day back to work on Tuesday will be rough af, but that’s what sleeping on the plane is for right?

In other news, I think Seattle is the most wonderful place.  It’s rainy in that romantic way where I just want to carry a really expensive umbrella and hail taxis all day.  One of my favorite scenarios is when a bunch of lights reflect across the rainy ground, and the roads look like a van Gogh painting.  I think Seattle in itself might have been dreamt up by van Gogh.  Should I start a conspiracy theory about this??

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For Christmas this past year, I got a jar of Coffee Blossom Honey from work, and for someone who has never liked honey, I’m actually a huge fan.  The company works directly with farms to source raw coffee-flower honey from micro-lots to promote sustainability and transparency.  Basically, the idea is that bees = pollenation, pollenation = more healthy coffee trees, healthy coffee trees = more coffee for us!  I was trying to figure out something to do with it in relation to coffee, and then I thought of how toddies use tea, and I think you know where this is going.

(P.S. not a sponsored post, just really stoked on this honey).

Coffee toddies are for people who like the idea of drinking cocktails during Sunday brunch but also need black coffee in the morning.  If you are someone that guffaws at anyone who orders cold brew or an iced latte in the morning, this is for you.  If the idea of drinking vodka prior to espresso makes you want to die, coffee toddies are for you.  If you just like the idea of coffee + alcohol, this drink is for you!!  A coffee toddy essentially combines all of my loves, namely coffee + whiskey.  I chose to add grapefruit juice rather than lemon juice, because I like how the flavor of grapefruit combines with coffee.  However, any citrus would taste great; next time, I’m going to try orange.  For the coffee, I would highly recommend getting something with brighter, citrusy, fruity, and/or floral notes; avoid anything too dark, chocolatey, and nutty, or you will end up with a strange flavor the combination that no one is asking for.  I went with a Nicaraguan that has notes of orange blossom + peach, and it balanced really nicely with the sweetness from the honey and of course, the grapefruit juice.

On another note, I’m convinced that this coffee toddy is the best way to fight a cold.  Coffee and honey have antimicrobial components, grapefruit juice has vitamin C, and whiskey cures broken hearts so …  it’s basically a health drink!  I know it’s spring and all, but it snowed in Reno this past week, so basically no one is safe from rhinovirus’s wrath.  #science

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Coffee Toddy

Serves 2

Ingredients

16 oz. fresh coffee (I brewed with a Chemex)
Two 2 oz. shots of whiskey (I used Bulleit)
4 tsp. grapefruit juice
2 Tbs. honey
Grapefruit, for garnish

Add one shot of whiskey, 2 tsp. of grapefruit juice, and 1 Tbs. of honey to each mug.  Add 8 oz. of hot, fresh coffee.  Stir until honey is completely dissolved.  Garnish with grapefruit.  Serve immediately.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Lost my Head there by Kurt Vile

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Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing

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I feel like I don’t have any good stories to share with you guys lately.  I just work and cook and do a little yoga.  Is this what post-grad life is??  I get a degree, and I become someone who looks forward to coming home on Fridays and eating takeout pupusas in my sweatpants while watching Arrested Development reruns?  Because that’s exactly what I did this past Friday, and it was kind of amazing.  Although Saturday I went to a party and had two whole beers sooooo…yay?  Raise the roof?  I don’t know how to be young anymore.  Help!!!

In other exciting news, we also got a new Indian restaurant in town, and it’s the best one yet!  And this weekend, I’ll be in Seattle hopefully going to lots of fun bars and coffeeshops.  So, things are looking up in the ‘cool department’!

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On another note, may I introduce you to one of my new favorite recipes?  I didn’t know it was possible to like veggies this much, but omg this carrot salad is sososo good!!  I don’t think we appreciate carrot salad enough in the states, because I’ve never seen one here unless I was at an authentic-European deli of some sort, but I’m starting a petition to make it a thing.

I made this salad for Easter, and it was perfect with ham and scalloped potatoes.  Then, I used the leftover dressing to make more carrot salad for work lunches the next few days.  I’m pretty sure I ate like, 8 servings of vegetables a day that week.  I hope this obsession lasts and eventually upgrades to a spinach obsession.

For this salad, you can peel the carrots into long, pretty ribbons like I did.  Texturally, it’s my favorite, but peeling carrot ribbons takes a long time, and you end up with weird little carrot pieces once you can’t peel anymore.  In this case, I just turn them into carrot sticks and snack on them alone.  When I was being lazy with it, I just used grated carrots which is way faster and can be done with a food processor.  Either way, the real star here is the shallot dressing.  It’s slightly-spicy and creamy from the yogurt.  I would dip anything into it.  If you don’t like carrots, at least make the dressing and put it on some kale or something.

Also!  This salad can be made a day in ahead, but put the pistachios on right before serving or they will lose their crunch.  Ok?  Ok!

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Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing
Serves 8-12

Ingredients for the Salad

2 lbs. carrots, washed, trimmed, and peeled
4 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 c. pistachios, toasted
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, chopped

Ingredients for Dressing

1 small shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
1/3 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots into long ribbons.  Alternatively, you can shred them in a food processor.  Cover carrots with a wet paper towel to keep fresh.

To make the dressing, add shallot, white wine vinegar, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and honey to a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Drizzle in olive oil until emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare salad, add the queso fresco, pistachios, and parsley.  Toss with the shallot dressing, to taste.  Start with half the dressing and add more as needed.  Serve immediately.  To make the recipe ahead, combine everything but the pistachios.  Add the pistachios right before serving.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Sleep Apnea by Beach Fossils

Potato Wedges with Zhoug + Garlic Aioli

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Let’s play a quick game of Family Feud where we take lots of creative liberties!  In this scenario, I am both Steve Harvey and the audience.  The topic in question: What does Sara put on top of food when she doesn’t want her meal to be a basic bitch?

If you answers were to put an egg on it, cover it in yogurt, or douse it in ketchup, you would be correct!!  And for bonus points: drench it in zhoug sauce.  Have you ever tried this stuff?  It’s so good I could eat it with a giant soup spoon.  Zhoug is a Yemenis hot sauce made out of peppers + herbs usually served with falafel.  I used to only eat it on shawarma, but now I use it on everything.  Every once in a while, I will make a big batch for the week to marinate chicken, add to a little mayo for sandwiches, or dip veggies in.

For Easter yesterday, we had a big family dinner with ham, scalloped potatoes, marinated asparagus, rolls, and a carrot salad that I can’t wait to post soon!  Oh, and the aforementioned traditional strawberry shortcakes 😬 I wore one of my absolute favorite spring dresses and drank Moscow Mules while my little cousin looked for Easter eggies.  After, I took Bell on a long walk during sunset and then watched Hitch while destroying my tongue on a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs that were on sale.  It was a perfect day!  And now I have a bunch of ham for sammiches, and I’m putting zhoug on those sammiches, don’t try and stop me!!

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A few years ago, when SSL was a baby blog, I was really into these recipes touting descriptions such as “low-fat”, “sugar-free”, “healthy”, blah, blah, blah everything that I now hate.  Seventeen Magazine and Pinterest had me convinced that these ingredients were healthy for me even though I could actually taste the chemicals in them.  Not that I don’t post healthy recipes anymore, but now instead of using a bunch of processed shit (like low-fat Cool Whip ugh), I make recipes that are naturally healthy and wholesome and don’t have ingredients like hydrogenated vegetable oil!  Anyways, at one point, I had posted this recipe for “healthy potato chips with low-fat garlic aioli”, and even though that description gives me shivers now, the recipe was actually pretty decent.  The greatest offender in the ingredient list was low-fat mayo which…I don’t know I guess could be worse??  And, the picture was taken with probably an iPhone 4 and was blurry.  I’ve come a long way since then, but the other day, I accidentally came across the recipe and decided to recreate it!  This time, I decided to make the potatoes wedges, because there’s more surface area for crispiness, and I added the zhoug sauce, because potatoes need it.  Also, I’ve included some ~hip~ new tips to make those potatoes super crispy without deep frying, so this is perfectly healthy for a weeknight meal yay!

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Potato Wedges with Zhoug + Garlic Aioli
Serves 4

Potato Wedges

2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 c. flavorless oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut potatoes into 8 wedges.  Place potato wedges in a bowl of cold, salted water.  Let soak for a couple hours over overnight. This will make the wedges super crispy!

Preheat oven to 400*F.  After soaking potatoes, drain and add to a pot of boiling water.  Boil for about 6 minutes, or until you can just pierce potatoes with a fork – they should not be mushy.  Drain well.

Toss potatoes with oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip potatoes and cook for another 20-25 minutes until crisp.  Serve with aioli and zhoug!

Zhoug Sauce

2 c. cilantro
1 c. parsley
2-5 jalapenos, depending on spice preference*
3 cloves garlic
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. cumin
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. olive oil

In a food processor, combine cilantro, parsley, jalapenos, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pulse until everything is chopped up.  While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until combined.  Serve.

*Sometimes I use 2, which doesn’t yield a super spicy sauce.  I’d say my favorite is 4.  If you’re super sensitive to spice, just use 1.  You can take the seeds out if you prefer, but I leave them in!

Garlic Aioli

1/4 c. mayo or plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 c. parmesan, shredded
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine mayo or Greek yogurt, lemon juice, cayenne, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Whisk in olive oil.  Serve.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Cutlass Cruiser by TOPS

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