Blueberry-Almond Skillet Cake + Jord Wooden Watch Giveaway!




picnic 1



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.



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.



picnic 2


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


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.

Wooden Wrist Watch

Croque Madame Galettes with Everything Crust





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….





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.


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


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!


*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!


xo Sara Lynn

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

Black Sesame + Blood Orange Pound Cake




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!




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


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


White Pizza with Sausage + Garlicky Kale + Lemon





I have a confession: I’m not a huge “pizza person”.  And because of this, I get constant shit from every human on the planet, because apparently I am part of a small majority that doesn’t lose their mind over pizza.  I, of course, love a good pizza when I am in the mood for it, but the rest of the time, I’ll happily choose tacos or Thai food instead.  However, I do have a fave pizza place in Reno that makes me jalapeno + cheese pizza without judgement, and as a rule, this particular pizza must be eaten with a draft beer, absurd amounts of ranch, and the leftover crust must be dipped in honey.

(On a side note, do people in other parts of the world dip their crust in honey, or is that just a Reno thing???)

And while pizza is not my absolute favorite food, I do feel passionate about dough + cheese, and I’ve been loving experimenting with pizza flavors at home lately.  On some Fridays, I will come home, pull out all the leftover ingredients from the week, chop up tons of fresh mozz, and pop a bottle of wine while the perfect combination of crust puffing and cheese bubbling occurs in my oven.  I almost always go out for dinner on Fridays, but if for some reason I’m really in the mood to cook after work, it’s almost always some version of pizza.  There’s something so calming about coming home, chopping up some veggies, and making a quick, delicious dinner.

And, if I really need pizza without the effort, I always have my trusty jalapeno-special ¯\_(ツ)_/¯




Yesterday, we had probably our craziest snow of the season (yes, in late February, ugh come ooooon Reno).  I was at my parents’ house after shopping with my mom, and this blizzard just started out of nowhere.  It looked like a snow globe and made me need Christmas all over again.  However, since I can’t redo Christmas, I went for the next best comforting winter activity which is obviously cooking and watching British TV.  So, while the snow flurries drifted down outside my window, I threw together this recipe and cozied up on the couch watching Lovesick.  These ingredients are a perfect mix of flavors – the kale gets so crispy and garlicky in the oven, sausage adds a little sweetness, there’s lemon for tartness, and of course, I added a simple bechamel and mozzarella for a creamy component.  At the end, I like to add pine nuts to give it an earthy flavor (and also because I’m obsessed with pine nuts, they’re so good 😛).  I like to sprinkle a ton of red pepper flakes on top of my pizza, but of course, you can leave those off if you don’t like spice!  Lastly, the sauce is fairly creamy, especially when combined with the cheese.  If you prefer a lighter, almost flatbread-style pizza, I would just brush the crust with olive oil and put the toppings on sans white sauce.  In fact, it sounds rather amazing, and I think that will be my approach next time!

White Pizza with Sausage + Garlicky Kale + Lemon
Serves 4

Ingredients for the white sauce

1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour, stirring until no clumps remain.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.  Slowly whisk in milk, bringing it to a boil and cooking for a couple of minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients for the pizza

1 lb. pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
White sauce (recipe above)
2 links of sweet sausage, casings removed
2 c. kale, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced and quartered
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 Tbs. pine nuts

Preheat oven to 425* F.  Roll out pizza dough to 1/8 inch thickness and place on a baking sheet.  Brush with 1 Tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink.  Meanwhile, toss the kale, remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl – set aside.  Drain the sausage, and discard the fat.  Set sausage aside.

Spread the white sauce over the pizza dough.  Sprinkle sausage and mozzarella over the sauce.  Spread the kale and lemon slices over the pizza.  Season with red pepper flakes.

Place the pizza in the oven for 16-20 minutes.  When finished, the crust should be golden brown, and the cheese should be bubbly.

When the pizza is cooked through, sprinkle the pine nuts over the top.  Serve with additional pepper flakes and parmesan, if desired.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day* – Big Sis by SALES

Orange Liqueur Cupcakes + Marzipan Buttercream




In high school, I went to a baking and pastry high school and to make a little extra money, I would sell homemade cupcakes.  Some of my bigger projects were for weddings and bridal showers, and I also did smaller events like 9 year old’s birthday parties.  I actually won third place next to a bunch of professional pastry chefs at a couple of competitions, which was my crowning achievement at the time.  I was famously known for my marshmallow buttercream that people used to call “crack frosting”.  Obviously I lived that rockstar life back in the glory days of my youth.

Honestly though, going to my high school taught me invaluable lessons about food and the melding of flavors.  It helped me land my first job in the industry that eventually led me to my coffee-career and love for food blogging.  In a way, it was kind of like a weird, food version of Glee, but I got to do cool things like meet Vic Vegas and work in a bunch of kitchens in the casinos on the Strip.  I think going to my high school gave me the confidence to actually start this food blog like, almost 6 years ago?!  And luckily, I’ve come a long way since my first post, because *wow* I did not know how blogs worked 😬  I still have memories of having a mental breakdown, because I couldn’t figure out how to make an “About Me” page.  I’m still not quite sure why I couldn’t just have a Tumblr page like every other 16 year old in the early 2010s.



I haven’t been making cupcakes “professionally” for a while, but of course, I still love to bake, especially now that I’ve gotten more adventurous with my flavor profile.  So when a few weeks ago (well, before Christmas) Molly Yeh posted a recipe for marzipan buttercream, I diiiiiied.  Marzipan buttercream is everything I dream about.  Plus anytime I make anything with almonds, I immediately have the instinct to shove oranges in there somehow.  And (!) since I’m not still in high school, I added orange liqueur, because boozy cupcakes = the best cupcakes.

This recipe is adapted for high altitude, because as I’ve mentioned in the past, for some reason I have to use high-altitude recipes for cakes and nothing else ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I’ve been celebrating extra hard, because I *finally* figured out how to adapt my fave cupcake recipe to high-altitude almost five years after moving to Reno!!  If you need me, I will be celebrating with extra orange liqueur.

Orange Liqueur Cupcakes + Marzipan Buttercream
Makes about 16 cupcakes


1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar*
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
1 tsp. orange zest
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. flavorless oil
3/4 c. whole milk**

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Preheat oven to 375* F***.

Beat the butter and sugar together until thoroughly mixed.  It will likely remain grainy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely.  Add the vanilla extract, orange liqueur, and orange zest.  Stir in the buttermilk and oil.

Mix in half of the flour mixture and half of the whole milk.  Repeat with the remaining flour mix and milk, stirring just until combined.

Using a scoop, fill cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way with batter.  Bake, checking for doneness at 15-18 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when an inserted toothpick has a few crumbs stuck to it.

Let cool and frost with Molly Yeh’s marzipan buttercream (1/2 recipe).  Top with sprinkles!!

*use 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder for sea-level
**use 2/3 c. whole milk for sea-level
***bake at 350* F for sea-level

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Misty Morning by Travis Bretzer


Stockholm + Gothenburg 2017










When my mom was in high school, my grandparents decided to host a foreign exchange student, and they were paired up with a girl named Malin from Sweden who was just about my mom’s age.  They rode horses and visited Vegas to drive along the Strip; I remember hearing stories about my mom and May while I was growing up even though I never met her.  This past summer, over thirty years after she had lived with my mom and grandparents, I had the opportunity to stay with Malin and meet her fiance and kids!  It ended up being one of my most unforgettable memories from my trip.

In addition to being a nurse, May flies planes for fun.  I didn’t even know that people could do that!  But she does, and she took took me up in the Swedish skies in a vintage plane from the 60s.  We flew from Stockholm to a small island off the coast called Visby where we walked along the beach, found some of the cutest coffeehouses, and then ate lingonberry ice cream.  On the way home, we followed one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen, and then I got to try Swedish-style cheeseburgers!

May and I spent the rest of our days riding bikes around Stockholm decked out in neon-orange helmets!  We found some amazing coffeehouses, and after a long day of bike-riding, we came across this Thai food-truck where we picked up curry and then picnicked at a nearby park!  I got to experience Stockholm as a local, and it delivered.










After Stockholm, I took the train over to Gothenburg where I spent my whole day there eating buns and drinking coffee.  Gothenburg is wonderful to just walk around in, taking pictures, and looking at cute local shops.  I also found myself along the coast on my first night there and saw an incredible sunset even though it was probably midnight or something.

The next night, my airbnb host took me to the most stereotypical American-style sports bar I have ever done seen, and we watched golf, drank Swedish beer, and ate artificially-buttered popcorn.  Later at home, we talked over beers at his kitchen table until it was super late, and then I got to regret it during the whole plane ride the next day!  I hated myself at the time but looking back, it makes me smile, and I almost don’t remember the headache!




















Things to do in Stockholm:

  • Rent bikes – Stockholm was one of my favorite places to just stroll around and take pictures, and bikes are definitely the most convenient way of doing so!
  • Vasa Museum – visit the old 17th century ship here and learn all kinds of cool history.  There was a really amazing installment on women of the Vasa, and it was definitely my favorite part.
  • Picnic – Stockholm has some amazing parks, so pick up some sandwiches or Thai food and picnic while watching the sunset!
  • Fabrique – delicious coffee and the best cardamom buns!!
  • Rooftop bars – Stockholm has some amazing rooftop bars for wine-ing and sunset-watching.
  • Visit Visby – oh, you mean you don’t have a pilot-friend to take you to Visby for a day?  Don’t worry, you can take a ferry!
  • Drop Coffee – order the capp and also get a brownie + whipped cream for good measure!

And for a day in Gothenburg:

  • Haga – This street has all kinds of cute shops and places to brunch – I easily spent half a day here.  It’s also really close to other nice areas of town!
  • Walk near the coast – this is especially fun around sunset.  Most of my day in Gothenburg was spent walking around and taking pictures!
  • Bakeries – if you walk around Haga long enough, you will come across some of the best bakeries even on the side of the street!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: All your Love by Jakob Ogawa

Beef + Porter Chili with Cornbread Dumplings




Over the past week, I had a new, nagging conundrum stuck in my head that kept me awake at night, and that conundrum was how I was going to make chili look sexy.  It’s a real Catch 22 folks, and after a lot of research, Pinteresting, and going through Bon Appetit’s archives, I came to the conclusion that it can’t be done.  However, don’t even worry, because at the very least, chili can be made to look at least presentable, and dare I say, appetizing (?), even if you have to cover it with lots of cheese and cornbread and bright jalapenos.  ALSO, I think that Superbowl may be coming up which means I actually posted a holiday-appropriate recipe before said holiday occurred?!?  *wow*

The original plan was to make this recipe last weekend, but then I unexpectedly came down with this strange, 24-hour flu that kept me in bed all of last Sunday.  I think it worked out though, because not only was my recipe far better developed over the week, but it finally got cold in Reno, and chili was the answer!  The clouds came out and made some perfect lighting for taking photos.  It was so nice.  I wish I could have cloudy days for photo-taking every week.  It didn’t snow all that much in Reno itself, which is kind of a bummer, because I love when the city looks like a snow globe.  But at the very least, it actually kind of feels like winter, and I may even have to wake up a little earlier tomorrow to scrape frost off my car windows!  Imagine that.  The lower temperatures made for some excellent cozying-up weather that forced me to lay on my couch eating pizza and watching Skin Wars most of yesterday and today, so I’d say I had a pretty kick-ass weekend.  Is anyone else here really obsessed with Skin Wars and willing to admit it so that I don’t feel like a garbage person for watching almost an entire season this weekend??  Pls?





Part of the problem I’ve found with living in colder temperatures is the resistance to want to do anything outside, even if it’s just taking a walk or going to get coffee.  On one hand, I get super stir-crazy and a little frustrated at myself for not being able to achieve the motivation to make it to the grocery store, but on the other hand, it helps me develop some really excellent recipes that actually get made in real life and not just in my head.  This chili felt weird to make, because I always use my mom’s chili recipe, which is so easy and can be made with either ground beef or turkey depending on my mood.  Making a different recipe almost felt like I was cheating, and I just couldn’t get over that I was making chili without tomato sauce in it.  However, when my cousins gave me some of their coarse-ground beef, I knew I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try a new recipe and maybe throw some beer in there for good measure.  So I did.  And it was great.  And there’s dumplings in it!!!

Beef + Porter Chili with Cornbread Dumplings
Serves 4-6


for the dumplings:

1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. stoneground cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 c. cheddar cheese
1 c. corn

for the chili:

2 Tbs. flavorless oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 lb. coarse ground beef
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 15.5 oz. can beef broth
1 15.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 12 oz. bottle Porter, or other dark beer
6 oz. tomato paste
1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas
1 15.5 oz. can kidney beans
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
A few turns of black pepper
Salt, to taste

Cheddar cheese, extra jalapenos, scallions, cilantro, sour cream, etc. for topping!

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the milk and butter.  Mix in the eggs until just incorporated, and stir in the cheese and corn.  Set aside, and heat the oven to 350* F.

In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and jalapeno, stirring until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the beef, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the beef broth, tomatoes, Porter, tomato paste, beans, and all of the spices.  Bring it to a gentle simmer, and remove the chili from the heat.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop the cornbread batter around the top of the chili until there are 6 dumplings (you may have a little bit of leftover batter than can be baked up).  Place the chili in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cornbread is set.

Ladle the chili and cornbread dumplings into bowls.  Top with cheddar cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, or your other favorite toppings.

*Notes about this recipe*

  • This recipe is best eaten day-of.  Like most dumplings, the cornbread tends to fall apart in the fridge.  I personally like the texture of cornbread mixed in my chili, but if you do not, I recommend baking the cornbread separately in a 8×8 pan at 350*F for about 25 minutes and placing the cornbread on top.
  • I find that coarse-ground beef has a similar texture to stew meat.  If you cannot find coarse-ground beef, I would recommend using stew beef, although regular ground beef would also be delicious.
  • I used 1 Tbs. (3 tsp.) of cumin in my chili.  However, I would start at 2 tsp. and add more as necessary depending on your preferences.
  • If you don’t want to use beer, just use another can of beef broth!


This chili was made using Sanford Ranch Beef, a ranch in Northern Nevada that raises all-natural, pasture-fed, hormone-free cows!  Their meat is affordable, healthy, high-quality, and I definitely recommend them if you live in Northern-Nevada.  Check them out here or on Facebook!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: For You by SALES