I 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!!! Continue reading “Watermelon-Rhubarb Margaritas”→
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??
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
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.
Apparently at the tender age of 21, I have succumbed to the eternal tiredness accompanied with socializing until midnight and drinking 1 glass of sangria + a single gin and tonic. This past weekend consisted of both of those events at a Friendsgiving celebration, where a few friends and I enjoyed a hodgepodge of family recipes along with a distracted game of Cards Against Humanity and a slew of various spirit glasses. While Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, I’m starting to realize the value of a successful Friendsgiving, which in my experience is pretty similar to regular Thanksgiving without the pressure of telling your great-aunt and four second-cousins your life plans post-college, and also, you typically don’t have to talk about the disappointing political climate (except not always, but that can be solved with a simple “Sangria anyone?!”. I know how to please the crowd).
Typical to Sara Lynn antics, I provided the aforementioned sangria and a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, which after a few hours, turned into a weapon of mass destruction as it was flung throughout the kitchen, into hair, and onto faces while I ducked under the breakfast bar with my wine glass. Once whipped cream starts flinging, this chick is out. However, the pumpkin pie was amazing and enjoyed for breakfast before work the next day. As for the sangria, a twist on the classic using apple cider for a autumnal flavor, it needs to be worked on slightly. It was delicious, but it also reminded me of bubblegum which just isn’t really my style. Don’t worry…I’ll keep working on it for winter holidays.
After a weekend of socializing with friends and working, I came down with a bad chest cold that I can just tell is brewing into something horrid. Luckily, I got my ass into the doctor ASAP, and hopefully the antibiotics they provided will knock this thing out before it even develops, because again, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! I want to enjoy my family time even if it does make me evaluate my life plans and strive to keep my mouth zipped when certain President-elects are brought up. Also, I have a ton of pie dough to make before Wednesday, and this hacking out my lungs thing is making me want to do nothing but pass out in my bed with a heating pad suctioned to my chest. Yes, I like to feel sorry for myself, but I did work today and take a test and do a presentation, so I feel like I deserve a little credit here. I’d probably whine a little more, but I am hugging some warm apple cider and watching Full House reruns, so it can’t be all bad, right?
And that leads to the apple cider. As I mentioned before, my parents just moved here and have an abundance of apple trees on their property which equates to me having fresh apples in my house constantly. Pros: beautiful, freshly picked apples all the time!!! Cons: I will never be able to eat another apple pie with store-bought apples again. How come homemade apples are so much sweeter and flavorful? Anyways, I found myself with pounds on pounds of fresh apples, and that is how this apple cider recipe came to fruition.
Now, you can make this apple cider recipe on the stove which will take a couple of hours. I chose to prepare it in a slow cooker so I could pop it on before class and come home to a cinnamony-appley-smelling goodness when I came home. Either way, this recipe is fool-proof and will taste absolutely delicious.
*If you are using orchard apples, you may notice that the cores look a little funky every once in a while – yay organic!! I chose to cut these parts off, but if the cores look okay, don’t worry about removing them. You can even leave the seeds in – they’ll all get strained out in the end.
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine
Updated September 2019: How to make a ginger old fashioned with bourbon, ginger bitters, and of course, a classic twist.
Hello, my name is Sara Lynn, and I am a young NYC man living in the year 1958 a 20-something woman who loves old fashioned cocktails. But you can call me Don Draper.
Today, I will be sharing my favorite old fashioned recipe, because it’s my birthday! And I will be celebrating with Bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange peel all night long if I have my way. However, I’ll try to sneak a lemon drop or Manhattan in, so I can feel like Carrie Bradshaw. I may have an identity crisis at the end of the night, but so be it. Tonight is for celebration and cake and drinks with my friends!
Last summer while I was in London, the beers and ciders became kind of mundane after my 200th IPA. One night, a group of (other) Nevada students and I went to a bar down the road from our dorm where I asked the bartender if they could mix cocktails. Ignoring the slightly dubious look in the recent high-school-grad-of-a-bartender’s eyes, I asked for an old fashioned, which he then responded with, “What’s in it?”. It was then that I learned that English pubs are strictly for wine, beer, and cider. Message received.
So, I had an old fashioned while I flew home to the states.
From Tigger mug to crystal tumblers: the evolution of the ginger old fashioned.
My first old fashioned was made with Bulleit bourbon and served out of a Tigger coffee mug around Christmas time while it snowed outside. That’s a true story. I’ve come a long way since then, but I can’t say that scenario won’t reoccur. I am in college after all, and sometimes Disney coffee mugs are the only vehicle for alcoholic beverages. However, I still do not own whiskey glasses, so discount water glasses bought at Home Goods will have to do for now. (2019 Update: I have graduated from college, and therefore, graduated from water glasses. We now own four whole crystal tumblers whoop whoop!)
How to make the perfect ginger old fashioned!
Another 2019 update: I have me a mans. And he knows how to make a damn good old fashioned. So, one weekend while he made me a ginger old fashioned, I took some photos, and now we have a great step-by-step tutorial! Thanks, Marc!
For the ginger old fashioned, you will need bourbon or rye (I like Bulleit), simple syrup or sugar cubes, ginger bitters, and a lemon and/or orange.
Start with a couple of glasses. Obviously, crystal tumblers are fancy AF, but a small water glass or even a Tigger mug will do! Place a large ice cube in each glass. I got my mold at Target, but you can use regular ice cubes if you’d like.
Pour two ounces of bourbon over the ice.
Pour one-quarter ounce, a.k.a. one teaspoon, of simple syrup over the whiskey. I prefer to pour the simple syrup in after the whiskey (as opposed to before), to keep the simple syrup from settling at the bottom of the glass.
Add two to three dashes of ginger bitters.
If you have a swizzle spoon, now is the time to bust it out! Or, just use a regular spoon/iced tea spoon. Stir the drink until it’s properly chilled and a bit diluted, about 30 seconds.
Take a strip of lemon peel or orange peel, and twist it over the ginger old fashioned. If you use both, it’s called “rabbit ears”. Cute! Drop the peel in the glass for garnish.
That’s it y’all! Ginger old fashioned complete.
Ginger Old Fashioned
As a bday present to me, please make this ginger old fashioned tonight. Or, order one at your favorite bar 😉
Summer has now officially approached in Reno. In my Vegas-days, I used to loathe summer and its dry heat that would exceed far past the low hundreds. Now living in Reno, the weather is a gamble, meaning I can be a little more friendly towards the summer months depending on the day. For instance, yesterday the high was 75*F, but tomorrow could be 105*. Luckily, I’m not too far from SF, which pretty much always has a low chill and Tahoe, which may be warm, but at least you can cool off in the melted-snow water. However, I’m a huge fan of BBQs, as I’ve mentioned in the past, and even though I’m working as both a marketing intern and barista, I’m taking this summer as an opportunity to eat plenty of good food, explore new Northern Nevada attractions, and not be in school for the first time in 3 years. Plus, my birthday is in July, so that’s always something I look forward to! I’m also stoked to try out some new BBQ recipes, starting off with a twist on classic summer Lemonade. Hello blackberry-mint limeade!
When it comes to the lemonade-limeade debate, I wholeheartedly lean towards the limeade side. Actually, I’m not really sure there is such a debate, but if there were I would always go Team Limeade. Now that it’s summer, I’ve decided to try out my own variations on limeade (and maybe even lemonade, we’ll see…), and I thought the perfect way to start off the limeade experiment would be to use a berry that’s not as highly recognized as its berry counterparts. I love how shiny and succulent blackberries are, and when they’re mixed into a limeade, it makes this beautiful fuchsia hue that would perfectly complement a BBQ. Also, I added mint, because I was feeling fancy.
Before I share the recipe, I will first start off with a confession, because I’m not perfect, and I’ll readily admit that all the time in most circumstances, such as this one. For this recipe, I decided to use already bottled limeade. *gasp*, I know. From someone who really goes out of her way to not use prepackaged stuff, this may be slightly shocking. However, I can already find delicious, sweet, fresh-tasting limeade in the juice aisle at my local grocery, and I own no type of juicer whatsoever, so prebottled limeade it was. On the other hand, if you are one who feels so inclined to make their own limeade, I’ve found a recipe from a trusted source with good reviews here.
This limeade is refreshing and easily adaptable if you’d like to try another berry or herb. I prefer my limeade sweeter, so I use more syrup, but if you like yours a little more tart, I’d use less syrup or even muddle some blackberries and mint in the bottom of your glass and just use a tiny bit of syrup. Also, I used 3 mint leaves in my original recipe, and I found that the mint was very strong. I’d recommend using only 2 mint leaves so the blackberry flavors are noticeable. The mint can be very overpowering, but you can always add some straight to your drink if you want more of that flavor later!
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: The Other Woman by Devendra Banhart
I know that you probably have lots of questions right now. SCOBYs aren’t the prettiest things, so you’re probs confused and wondering if you’re supposed to eat that thing (please, God, no), or if it’s some kind of facial mask or what. I promise, all questions will be addressed, but just hang with me. SCOBYs are not easy to photograph, and it’s extra hard to make them look appetizing enough to be featured on a food blog.
A SCOBY is an acronym for ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’, and it’s used to make kombucha. Now what’s kombucha? It’s a naturally carbonated, sweet-and-sour drink made by fermenting tea. Like wine and coffee, kombucha takes a few times to get used to. It contains a little bit of alcohol naturally, but it’s perfectly safe for kids to drink! Mixed with fruits and juices, it’s very versatile and tons of flavor combos can be made. If you’re a big soda-fan looking to cut the sugar-y chemical-laden drink out of your life, kombucha is for you. Why? It has tons of health benefits!
Kombucha helps with gut and digestion health, detox, immune health, etc. However, I personally like kombucha, because it helps with stomach problems. My stomach is sensitive to all kinds of foods, and on certain days it can make me quite nauseous. Friends with similar stomach problems recommended kombucha, and I really love how it makes me feel! I don’t necessarily drink it every day, but every couple of days does the trick and really limits my ‘sick days’.
The only downside to kombucha is that the cost can add up if you’re consuming it in large amounts. My solution was to learn how to make it, starting with the SCOBY!
The SCOBY is necessary, because it helps ferment the tea, which also adds health benefits. You can buy SCOBYs online, but I’m incredibly impatient and don’t like waiting for things in the mail. My next option was to learn how to make one. (Bonus: buying the stuff to make a SCOBY is cheaper than buying a SCOBY online). Once you make one SCOBY, a new SCOBY will be made with every kombucha batch. You can start a farm of SCOBYs, or you can gift the new SCOBY to a kombucha-loving friend.
*Disclaimer: Some people recommend not making a SCOBY, but rather buying one, the main reason being that SCOBYs do not always grow if they’re homemade (has not been a problem for me at all). However, I see no real risks in growing a SCOBY, and mine turned out successful! Choose whatever option you’re comfortable with.
Let’s get started!
First, you’ll start by making a sweet tea. The best tea to use is regular black tea, because it helps the SCOBY grow. Once you have your new SCOBY, you can try other teas for the next batch, but try to use black tea at first! Kombucha works best with caffeinated, non-herbal teas. Herbal teas can damage the SCOBY, so be cautious. Alternatively, you can use 1 1/2 Tbs. loose-leaf, but make sure to strain the leaves out before making your SCOBY.
Next, you’ll mix together your (cooled) sweet tea with a cup of your organic, raw kombucha. You’ll want unflavored kombucha so that your SCOBY grows.
Then, you’ll put the mixture in a large jar. You’ll want to wrap the mouth of the jar with paper towels or coffee filters to keep out bugs. Then secure the paper towels with a rubber band, and pop on the lid!
Place your SCOBY in a dark room with an average temperature (not too cold, not too hot). Leave it there for about 4 weeks. You’ll start to notice a little film forming over the top. It’ll get thicker and thicker, it may change colors, get bubbles, etc. Don’t worry. As long as it doesn’t grow grey or green mold, it should be fine.
Once it’s all grown up, you can use it to make your own kombucha! The remaining liquid is drink-able, but it will be very strong. You can use some of the liquid to make your first batch of kombucha, but you’ll probably want to just discard the rest.
Start looking for new kombucha recipes in the near future! I’ve been coming up with all kinds of flavors (:
*Song of the Day: Youth Knows No Pain by Lykke Li*
You can ask anyone in my family about my hot chocolate preferences, and they will tell you that I am a hot chocolate snob. No really, that’s a thing, and I am part of the demographic. When I was really little, my dad would make me hot chocolate every night with Ovaltine. If it was too hot outside, he would make me chocolate milk. I called it “brown milk” and I specifically remember asking for it while my parents read me my books. So naturally, the first time I had the packet-mixed-with-water type of hot chocolate, I was sorely underwhelmed. As a kid, I hated it, and I hate it now. I don’t even want flavored hot chocolates-peppermint, orange zest, and cayenne pepper have no right. I’ll just take my regular hot chocolate made with milk and Ovaltine or some type of pretentious homemade chocolate syrup, thank you very much.
Until now….Because in case we haven’t yet discussed my obsession with coffee or how I want to own my own cafe someday (we have), I have quite the love affair with all things coffee. And like my hot chocolate, I don’t want extra added flavors-I want pure, good quality, black coffee, maybe with a little cream and sugar when I have a craving.
I was fairly skeptical at the idea of mixing together my beloved espresso with hot chocolate. While I do appreciate a good mocha every once in a while, it’s not usually my cup of tea coffee, and I wasn’t really looking to make a mocha here. What I really wanted was a creamy hot chocolate with intense cocoa flavor. Borrowing the idea that sometimes coffee is added to chocolate cake recipes to enhance the cocoa flavor, I decided adding a little espresso to my hot chocolate might to do the same thing.
I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I will reiterate that this is not a mocha. The espresso is definitely noticeable, but its main function is to complement the cocoa flavor. I added some vanilla whipped cream to the top, which melts with the heat, and creates this cool layer on top that mixes in with the hot chocolate, and overall, it was probably my favorite part. Honestly, I was worried that with only five ingredients, it would be bland, but it was anything but.
Merry Christmas Eve to you and your family! Make this hot chocolate when you’re opening presents or having dessert tonight, or even for breakfast tomorrow. It’s the perfect mix of your favorite childhood drink and your favorite (morning) adult drink, so it will be sure to make everyone happy!
*Song of the Day: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra