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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Vanilla + Cardamom Scones with Strawberry Curd

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Yesterday, we had a rare March day with wonderful weather, and it was also the first day in three weeks that I haven’t felt like utter garbage.  I am currently in the midst of the longest sinus infection of my life, but even so, it could not ruin my spirits prompted by warm weather.  And by warm, I mean 45* F.  But, still… the sun was out for a change!  I had planned on spending the day cleaning my house after looking around and realizing that it looks like my closet threw up my entire shoe collection and I have a very impressive herd of dust bunnies breeding in my hallway.  But life is short, and sunny, windless Sundays are rare in March, so I forced myself to put on pants and get out of the house.  I got a coffee and took Bell to run around the dog park, and it wasn’t even muddy!  It was freezing, but every once in a while, the clouds would clear for a minute, and the sun would warm everything up.  The air smelled so good.  I always forget how lovely early spring is until it comes back around again.

Other than toughing it through the freezing-warm weather for as long as I possibly could, I spent the whole day cooking up some new recipes.  I love all the produce that’s out right now, and I’m taking advantage of it for as long as I can.  It inspired me to make some roast chicken with lots of potatoes and fresh herbs and then watch Julie & Julia, because what else would you watch when food is inspiring you?

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Another one of my spring favorites in the produce section is all of the fresh strawberries!  Strawberry shortcake has always been a very Easter-y dessert in my family.  We make our strawberry shortcake with biscuits instead of angel food cake, and I am convinced it’s the only way to even eat strawberry shortcake.  Also, you have to absolutely drench it in whipped cream, it’s a rule.

Like I was talking about last week, I’m trying to take advantage of my very short weekends by getting up earlier and brunching more.  Without some sort of goal, I have the tendency to sleep in and then lay in bed on my phone scrolling through embroidery instagrams for three hours.  SO, instead of scrolling, I’m sconing.  And eggs-benedicting.  And waffling.  If it’s brunchy, I want something to do with it.

But I digress.  This is about scones.  And strawberries.  And mixing it all together to create some sort of strawberry-shortcake inspired scone.  And also adding cardamom, because cardamom + strawberries = lalalala one of the best combos ever!!  Why didn’t I do this earlier, it’s such a good idea?  Cardamom is fairly expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way, so you’ll definitely notice a little hint of it in these scones.  The strawberry curd is a little extra step, but if you don’t want to go that far, you could always just serve these with jam or chop up some fresh strawberries to throw on top!  These are perfect for Easter brunch, especially because they can be made a day in advance!  Aaaaand they are best served with lots of fresh coffee, obviously.

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Vanilla + Cardamom Scones with Strawberry Curd
Serves 8-16

Ingredients

3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut in 1/2 in. cubes
1 egg, whisked
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. whipping cream + more for brushing
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbs. milk or cream

Preheat oven to 375* F.  In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.  Toss very cold butter in the flour.  Using your hands, work quickly to break the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized.  You may have some larger, flatter pieces.

Make a well in the center.  Add the egg, buttermilk, cream, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Mix until just incorporated.  The dough will be sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface.  Press into a 1-inch disk.  Cut into 8 sections.  Alternatively, for smaller scones, you could press it into two 1/2 in. disks and cut each of those into 8 sections.  Space on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.  Brush each scone with cream.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. of milk, and 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract until smooth.  Drizzle over scones.  Serve with curd (recipe below).

Strawberry Curd

1 lb. strawberries, finely chopped
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbs. corn starch + 2 Tbs. water whisked
6 Tbs. butter

Combine strawberries, zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until bubbling.  Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat.  Whisk in the butter.  Cool curd and serve with scones + whipped cream.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Let it Happen by Tame Impala

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Blueberry-Almond Skillet Cake + Jord Wooden Watch Giveaway!

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Reno just finished second winter.  It’s like when hobbits eat second breakfast, but in this scenario, Reno is a hobbit and winter is breakfast.  Normally, I’m totally pro-snow, but the combination of negative temperatures, daylight savings, and sudden warm weather mixed with a doctor’s recommendation to tone down the caffeine has turned me into an unmotivated Doughboy who only wears baggy sweatpants.  But, Sunday was the first official warm day of the year, so to celebrate, I made a cake, packed up my favorite vintage tablecloth, and headed to the arboretum for a brunch/picnic. I wore a sundress and even got a bit pink from the sun! After, I went to my favorite coffeeshop and enjoyed a cappuccino in front of the Truckee.  It was ~perfect~.

Picnics have always been the epitome of spring, in my opinion.  When I was little, my mom would have picnics for us practically on a weekly basis.  (One of the perks of growing up in Vegas – picnic weather is year-round). In some ways, I think it was a way to avoid making a mess in the kitchen at lunch, but I also think it was just her fun way of entertaining me and my little brother.  We had these super strange, tiny grass hills in my childhood home — I would probably actually call them lumps — and they were my favorite picnic spot. I have a very specific memory of a lunch that consisted mostly of Goldfish crackers and those rainbow-colored Nilla wafers that tasted like food coloring.  Those were the good days before we acknowledged how bad Red 40 is for your insides.

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Now, my brunch tastes are slightly more refined and consist only of homemade food that is filled with all kinds of organic, Red 40-free ingredients.  It almost makes me feel ok about eating cake for breakfast while the athletes of Reno jog around my picnic blanket. This brunch in particular consisted of my croque madame galettes, lots of fresh coffee, oj, skillet cake, and red fruit salad!  

For the skillet cake, I made one of my favorite desserts ever.  It’s filled with almonds and blueberries and kind of looks like a giant muffin, which essentially makes it a breakfast food.  However, it’s also perfect for a spring BBQ or basically any time you need to use up some berries ASAP. The hardest part of the recipe is flipping it from the skillet to a plate, and even that isn’t really a requirement.

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One of my favorite parts of spring is getting to bust out all of my sundresses and fun accessories.  By the end of the cold season, I get a little lazy with the whole “getting dressed” aspect of adult life, and I tend to rely exclusively on oversized sweaters.  When you spend your days getting splattered with coffee, climbing rocks in Lake Tahoe, and spilling cookie dough all over yourself, high-quality, durable pieces are a must!  I’ve been looking into updating my wardrobe with some more staple pieces lately, so it was perfect timing when Jord asked me to be a part of their spring campaign! Jord makes a series of unique mens’ and ladies’ wooden watches, and they’re so beautiful!  I’ve actually been wanting to buy a watch for forever, but I was never able to find one that matched my style or looked good on my petite frame. I’m not a super blingy girl, so the organic, simplicity of the wood was perfect for me.

Another bonus was the option to get a personalized, engraved watch.   I chose to get some lyrics from “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty engraved on the back of mine.  The song has a lot of meaning to me, and having it on the back of my watch is so special.

If you love these wooden watches as much as I do, enter my Jord giveaway for the chance to win $100 off a watch!  Even if you don’t win, you still get 10% off just by registering. To enter the contest, click here. The giveaway will be announced on April 1!

P.S. Pretty watches also double as fancy cake timers!


Blueberry-Almond Skillet Cake
Serves 8

Ingredients

10 Tbs. butter, softened and divided
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 c. sliced almonds
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Butter and flour a 10-inch skillet.

Mix 6 Tbs. with the sugar until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time until incorporated, and then mix in extracts.

Mix in half the flour and half the buttermilk, and then repeat with remaining ingredients.  Fold in 2/3 c. almonds.

Melt remaining 4 Tbs. butter.  Stir in brown sugar, and mix with blueberries.  Spread in pan, and sprinkle remaining almonds over the blueberries.  Cover with the cake batter.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Cool, flip onto a plate, and serve with cream or ice cream.


Xo Sara Lynn

Thanks so much to Jord for sponsoring this post!  As always, all thought and opinions are my own. I am wearing the the Cassia series watch in zebra and ivory.  Make sure to check out their other products too! Shop Women’s watchesShop Men’s watches.

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Wooden Wrist Watch

Croque Madame Galettes with Everything Crust

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It’s a rare Sunday when I’m actually human enough to have a proper brunch before noon.  Beyond the mandatory sleeping in portion of Sundays, I also have to lay in bed scrolling through my phone, drink a cup of coffee, and snuggle my dog on the floor for thirty minutes all before putting on my face and some real pants.  Luckily, I think Sundays always feel like morning until it starts to get dark and the anxiety of the next work day looms over me.  So, brunch usually happens anywhere between 12:30 and 3 in the afternoon which means I get to sleep in and skip all the Sunday-brunch crowds.  Win-win!

On the off chance that I have my shit together before noon on a Sunday and don’t think I can handle the weekend brunch crowds, I make breakfast at home and eat while cuddled up on the couch watching Friends for the hundredth time.  Usually, it’s just a bagel or cheesy eggs + lots lots lots of coffee.  However, every once in a while I will have my shit so together that I even have ingredients at home for a fancy brunch!  Those are few and far between, but they are sometimes totally real and make me feel like an actual grown up.

I think I would like to make it a new goal to get up at least one Sunday a month and have a fancy brunch.  Maybe I’ll even get into doing yoga on Sundays?!  Would that make me an overachiever?  It sounds a little meta….

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This past week(end), I had probably the worst cold of my life.  I felt like one of those wavy inflatable tubemen, but instead of being filled with air, I was actually filled with mud and also I was at the bottom of a swamp.  I practically drowned myself in cough medicine and Gatorade, and I ate whatever I wanted since I was feeling sorry for myself.  After watching approximately 200 episodes of The Office, I finally peeled myself off the couch and managed to get out of the house long enough to get some good coffee.  Also, I’m sending many blessings to past Sara, because when I opened my freezer, I had some of these mini galettes wrapped up!  (Ugh, past Sara can be a real MVP sometimes).  Since it was the first warm day we’ve had in ages, I swigged some Dayquil and enjoyed these galettes with plenty of fresh coffee at our local arboretum.

These galettes are super easy and a fun play on the French croque madame.  When I was in France this past summer, I was utterly obsessed with croque madames and ham and cheese baguettes.  Why is it that the French can make a ham and cheese sandwich so amazing and mine taste like they came out of a vending machine?  Anyways, I decided to take these ingredients and combine them with another one of my favorite French treats – the galette.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m totally obsessed with galettes, so it was about time that I made a savory version.

Oh, and I put everything bagel spice on the crust, because I pretty much want everything bagel spice on everything in my whole life.

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Croque Madame Galettes with Everything Crust
Makes 4 large servings or 8 small servings

Ingredients

2 – 9 in. pie crusts, store-bought or homemade
1/4 c. dijon mustard
8 oz. ham, thinly sliced
6 oz. swiss cheese, sliced or shredded
5 eggs
1/4 c. everything bagel spice*
Sliced chives, for topping

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Divide pie dough into 4 equal parts, and roll them out until they are about 6 inches in diameter.  Spread 1 Tbs. of dijon in the middle of each crust.  Place 2 oz. of ham and 2 slices of swiss (or 3 Tbs. shredded) in the middle of each crust.  Fold the crust edges over.  It doesn’t have to be perfect since they are supposed to be rustic!

Mix 1 of the eggs with about 1 Tbs. of water.  Brush each of the crusts with the egg wash, and sprinkle each galette with 1 Tbs. of everything bagel spice.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, and break 1 egg over the top of each galette.  Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until the white is set and the yolk is still fairly runny.

Sprinkle each galette with the chives and serve!

Notes

*To freeze, wrap each galette in tinfoil and store in an airtight container in the freezer.  To reheat, throw the wrapped galette in a 350* oven for about 30 minutes.
*I have a jar of everything bagel spice in my cabinet, but if you’re not one of those people, you can mix together 1 Tbs. poppy seeds, 1 Tbs. sesame seeds, 1 Tbs. dried garlic, and 1 Tbs. dried onion together.  Sometimes, I use a mix of black and white sesame seeds for fun!


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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Heart in a Cage by The Strokes

Black Sesame + Blood Orange Pound Cake

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I have this new hobby now where I come home on Friday night and immediately start baking.  Gone are my college days where Fridays meant getting excited about actually going out in public.  Now, I just want to make some brownies, eat Chinese takeout, and try to stay awake until 11 p.m.  While I can firmly say I would not trade working full-time for studying until midnight or being the only participant on “team projects” anymore, I also 10/10 understand why adults don’t do things.  At best, I can mentally prepare myself to go out on a Saturday night after a proper day of sleeping in and lounging around the house.  On the other hand, I have extreme FOMO, so if you offer something really tempting, I’ll probably down a few cups of coffee and make myself socialize.  But only if I can bring my dog.

One of the most stressful things of late has been deciding what I actually want to bake on these Friday nights, because if you see my “Recipes to Try” list, it’s as long as the Game of Thrones books.  Granted, not all of it is baked goods, some are cocktails which actually would be the perfect for Friday-night recipe developing, and a lot are rando health-foods that are not acceptable for Fridays.  But the baked goods list is long and arduous, and when I have to spend three weekends developing a cake, I get sad 😦  Mostly because it means I have nothing to share for a weekend, but also because it means no cake for that weekend!

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For example, this cake took me three fing times to figure out.  THREE.  And ok, I know that’s typical, if not modest, in recipe development world, but I’ve made cakes similar to this formula literally hundreds of times, so for it to not work three different times was appalling.  As a person who considers herself an experienced baker, I was fairly offended about screwing up such a simple cake and felt like I had to prove myself worthy to baked goods.  And although my salty-af first attempt inspired me to write a fairly impressive Vday-inspired caption, I also just really wanted this cake to work out some way or another, because black sesame + blood orange = 😍

In a perfect world, this cake would have been ready in time for Vday, because I don’t think it’s a coincidence that blood orange season is right around Valentine’s Day.  That’s just way too damn convenient.  However, I’m kind of fine that it didn’t end up working out that way, because the first batch of blood oranges I bought for this recipe were so-so, and the last batch I bought were unreeeeaaaaaal.  They were the most beautiful color, and their frangrance made my whole kitchen smell like it had just been professionally cleaned, although I can guarantee that wasn’t the case.  I think blood oranges are so underappreciated, because like, besides their ruby-red hue, they are so sweet and floral.  Maybe we should be adding lavender to this cake instead of sesame?

However, I really liked how the sweetness of the blood oranges meshed with the earthiness of the sesame seeds.  This color combo is perfection, and I liked the polka-dot look of the cake itself.  I’m putting black sesames on everything from now on thankyouverymuch.

A few notes about this recipe before we get into things:

  • Citrus is already somewhat salty, so it’s important to be stingy with the salt.  My first two attempts at this cake were soooo salty (for various reasons, but still).
  • Whip the butter, sugar, and eggs for much longer than you believe to be necessary.
  • Definitely don’t over-bake this cake.  Since it’s pound cake, it doesn’t use moisturizers like oil, so it’ll get dry if you wait too long.
  • Use aluminum-free baking powder, or the metallic taste will be very present in this recipe.
  • Use a higher-quality powdered sugar for the glaze.  Since the glaze is almost exclusively powdered sugar, you will notice any chalky tastes and textures found in cheaper versions.
  • Oh, and one more thing!  These do great baked in mini loaf pans, but make sure to butter the bejeezus out of the pan, or they will come out as little hot messes like mine did (see below).  However, if yours do come out that way, trash them up with extra glaze and maybe a little sprinkles, and you’ll be A-ok.  I highly recommend this method, because baking mini loaf cakes means extras for the freezer, and they are the best way to eat cake for breakfast in a socially acceptable way!! #science

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Black Sesame + Blood Orange Pound Cake
Serves 12

Ingredients for the cake

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. blood orange zest
3 c. flour, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
2 Tbs. black sesame seeds

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.  Heat oven to 350* F.

Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar until it’s very incorporated, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly until the butter mixture is very light and fluffy, about another 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and blood orange zest.

Stir in half of the flour and half of the milk until just mixed.  Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk.  Stir in the black sesame seeds.

Pour batter into a buttered and floured bundt cake pan.  Bake for about 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached.  Flip it onto a cooling rack and let it cool before glazing.

Ingredients for glaze

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 c. blood orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Milk, as needed

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, blood orange juice, and vanilla extract.  Mix in milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  If the glaze gets too thin, add more powdered sugar a couple Tablespoons at a time.

Pour glaze over cake.  Sprinkle with black sesame seeds!


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Become the Warm Jets by Current Joys

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