Potatoes Au Gratin

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The other day while browsing Instagram, I came across a Food52 post about their new app (Not)Recipes.  Basically, the premise of the app is that it is a place for cooks to share recipes, without measurements, that they make up on the spot when they’re too busy to bother with a super complicated list of ingredients and 100 steps until completion.  A.K.A. My perfect dream app (which is saying a lot, because to be honest I’m not huge on having a bunch of apps on my phone).  I immediately decided on my (not) recipe, put on my Lumineers CD, and got to work melding potatoes and cheese together in cute, tiny ramekins.  Then I went to download the app, but damn it, my ancient, Mesozoic era iPhone (an iPhone 5, but whatever..) wouldn’t let me download the thing, because it’s too outdated (thanks Apple!).  Plus, there’s no iPad version.  Wah-wah.  I was sorta bummed, because I cook without recipes all the time, but I guess not all hope is lost, because really, the whole point of writing a blog is that I can share whatever recipes I want, even if they’re not necessarily recipes.  (P.S. definitely not saying anything bad about Food52 or Apple!  I’m a big fan of both, although I wouldn’t mind if they made a  version of the (Not)Recipe app for oldie-iPhones :-))

When I think of meals made without recipes, I think of potatoes au gratin.  While this may not necessarily be a meal to most people, I have definitely eaten my fair share of potatoes au gratin for dinner on Sundays after long days of work and studying.  Plus, I’m pretty convinced that if you add bacon, it qualifies as a meal (probably).  However, I’m always a fan of potatoes au gratin as a side dish too.  Essentially, cheesy potatoes are always a good idea.

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With Easter around the corner, I was also hoping to post a nice Easter-y recipe.  In my family, Easter always involves potatoes + cheese, and since I was already planning on making potatoes au gratin for my failed (Not)Recipes submission, it seemed like fate, or at the very least, convenient.  Potatoes au gratin are perfect for Easter Sunday, but you could also add leftover ham as an easy weeknight meal.  Definitely not a healthy dinner route, but sometimes potatoes, cheese, and ham are necessary for getting through life.

Growing up, my family always celebrated Easter with a nice brunch or dinner, and the Easter bunny left my brother and I presents on the bench on our front porch.  We almost always got a VHS tape, new shoes, and some Easter candy in our baskets.  Sometimes we would get a small toy to play with, and I distinctly remember getting a lime green Skip-It one year.  My parents recently decided to move back to their hometown of Reno in the next couple of months, and today I found out that they accepted an offer on my childhood home.  The sale is incredibly bittersweet, since my parents will be much closer, but I also will be losing the home that gave me the best childhood memories, such as hunting for Easter eggs or playing with my new Skip-It.  Today has been kind of sad, but I know that I will always fondly remember cheesy potatoes on Easter, opening Christmas presents with my little brother, Thanksgiving family dinners, and all the amazing memories I had growing up with my friends and family in that home.

Thanks to Potatoes Au Gratin for the nostalgia!

*Note: When I made this recipe, I just threw all the ingredients together, but in the recipe I included some approximate measurements from potatoes I have made in the past.  For this recipe, I used thyme and cheddar cheese, but the recipe can be adapted to use whatever ingredients you want.

Potatoes

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Happy Easter!

XO SaraLynn.

*Song of the Day: Flowers in Your Hair by The Lumineers

Tahoe Green

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When class gets cancelled, you brunch and go to Tahoe.  That’s the unspoken rule anywhere within an hour radius of the lake, but I’m bringing it to light.  If there’s an opportunity to hit the forest and hang on the beach, regardless if there’s snow or not, you take said opportunity, because life is too short and whatnot.

Also, you eat ice cream for lunch, which I did, because I’m an adult and I can make those kind of life choices.

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Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to spend St. Paddy’s week, because…well, it’s green.  Really green.  And during the middle of the week in March, no one is there, and you can explore as long as you want without interruption.  Plus you don’t have to listen to people talk about March Madness all day thank God.  (On a side note, March Madness is for basketball, right?)

One of my best friends, Andrea, and I went to Tahoe to hike, but we actually just ended up climbing on rocks at Sand Harbor and jumping over random streams in the middle of King Beach.  It was a little chilly at first, but ended up being in the 60s and absolutely sunny and beautiful.  The forest is one of my favorite places in the whole world, and I feel so at peace whenever I get to spend a day in it.  Taking a Tahoe trip was definitely a great way to kick off spring break and give myself a day to relax and enjoy the privilege of living so close to such an incredible place.

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Happy Spring Break to college students, and happy Spring to everyone else!

XO Sara

*Song of the Day: 80’s Comedown Machine by The Strokes

Perfect 15-Minute Brownies

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The more I blog about food, the more I realize the virtue in simplicity.  When I first started blogging about food, I tried to be “out there” and “different” with my recipes, which sometimes worked in my favor and sometimes didn’t.  Over the years, I have come to realize that food is better when the natural flavors are vividly present.  Food photography is far more attractive when there’s not 20 props in the shot.  Seeing food in a more natural state is so much more appealing than when it’s edited to oblivion and covered with cutesy clip-art images.

That is not to say that I don’t like to try crazy recipes or eat foods with more complex flavors.  The best part about food is that it is so versatile and that options are limitless.  However, food is also better when it complements each other, not just when a bunch of delicious foods are thrown together.  I like pizza and ice cream, but does that mean I want pizza ice cream?  (The answer is no if you haven’t guessed already).

The whole point of ramble is that food is amazing and can definitely be an outlet for creativity; but that doesn’t mean that it has to be insanely complex.  Sometimes, I just want a regular brownie.  Not a cheesecake brownie.  Not an orange-and-thyme-infused brownie (not a real thing, but it could be).  Just a brownie.

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When you are in the mood for Just a Brownie, this is the go-to recipe.  Please don’t go to the store and buy a boxed mix, because odds are, you already have brownie ingredients in your home, and these are so much better.  They also only take 15 minutes to put together (I timed it).  After the batter is made, all you have to do is wash the 3 dishes the recipe requires and watch an episode of Seinfeld, and the brownies are already done!

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Your mission this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to make these brownies.  Brownies are the perfect Sunday project without a huge time commitment (did I already mention that they only take 15 minutes to mix together), and they come out tasting pretty much like fudge mixed with cake.  I’d highly recommend serving them with ice cream, but that’s just one girl’s opinion on the matter…

Also, I threw some walnuts and hazelnuts on top of mine, because I’m a professional, but you definitely don’t have to.

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XO SaraLynn

*Song of the Day: Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan