Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both recipes are courtesy of Food Network.

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Stay tuned for more beef recipes!

XO Sara Lynn

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

 

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A Day in SF – French Food and the Botanical Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Horchata by Vampire Weekend

BLT Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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

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

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

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

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Life Itself by Glass Animals

Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful weekend ♥

XO Sara Lynn

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