Growing up, one of my all-time favorite things to do was spend the night at my grandparent’s house. My grandma and I would sew, take a ride in the golf cart, and have tea parties. My grandpa would buy me ice cream and take me to breakfast after church on Sunday mornings. Whatever sports game he was watching would blare throughout the house, and every time I smell Listerine, I think of my grandpa. He has a green comb that he keeps on a side table next to his recliner. My grandma has a violin hanging on a velvet backdrop across the room. My grandparents have lived in this house my whole life, and it’s still one of my most comforting, happy places. Continue reading “Everything Bagel Popcorn”
While Insta has proven to me that the ~hip~ people of the world have been spending their weekends partying in bunny costumes, I have spent mine doing laundry, petting my hedgehog, and watching Stranger Things. *raises the roof*. I just got back from Toronto, where my friend Stephen took me to all kinds of breweries, Niagara Falls, aaaaand (!!) I had poutine for the first time! Where can I get poutine in Reno?? I need it more frequently in my life! Usually when it comes to deep-frying foods at home, I dodge it like it’s hot (the messssss), but for poutine, I might be willing to pull out all the stops. Or maybe I can rig it with some extra-crispy tater tots right out of the oven? Canadians: would that be sacrilege??
On another note, I will be spending my Halloween night eating white chili with my cousins and taking the kids trick-or-treating! I found an amazing vintage 1960s dress at a thrift store the other day that I was planning on utilizing in my costume, but now that I’ll be walking around in the cold weather, I’m thinking of pulling out my classic Rosie the Riveter costume and calling it a day. It’s almost a tradition at this point after all.
A couple of weeks ago, I surprised my parents for their birthdays by coming home from London a week earlier than I told them. (Although, they did end up going on vacation for their birthdays, so I had to pretend I was still in England for a few extra days yikes!). I showed up at their front door and rang the doorbell cake-in-hand. They were so excited, we went to a delicious steakhouse for dinner, and then we celebrated with this cake for dessert! It was exactly what I wanting, and they loved their birthday present (me, obvs). This cake was the perfect addition: a lightly sweetened pumpkin cake with a touch of sage flavor and a sticky brown sugar icing that tastes faintly of caramel and butter. It’s the perfect fall dessert and makes a great addition to a Halloween party or even a Thanksgiving dessert table (it has sage in it after all!). Plus, you can decorate it like a pumpkin or turkey or something if you really want to make it festive. Obviously, I went the easy way with a few sage leaves and a rustic ‘happy birthday’ sign. Have a spooky night!
Pumpkin + Sage Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
*Cake is for High-Altitude baking. Please refer to alternative measurements if you do not live at high-altitude!*
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. + 6 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. baking soda**
1/2 c. Tbs. buttermilk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. milk
Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, cream the brown sugar, sugar, egg, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk. Then add the remaining flour mixture and milk. Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick shows a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool. Meanwhile prepare the icing (below). Level each cake, and cut each cake in half so you have 4 even layers. Spread frosting between each layer, stacking them until there are 4 cake layers. Frost the outside of the cake. Decorate as desired.
* Use 3/4 tsp. baking powder for regular-altitude recipes.
**Use 3/4 tsp. baking soda for regular-altitude recipes.
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. milk
1 3/4 – 2 c. powdered sugar
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar. Boil over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm – add milk. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until thick. If it becomes too stiff, add a little hot water to thin. Frost over cake!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Atmosphere by Joy Division
Well guys, I’m graduated!!! A couple weeks ago, I crossed the stage, didn’t even trip in my tallest heels, and I’ll be mailed my actual diploma in a few weeks time! It was great. The tradition at UNR is to go to the famous college bar, The Little Waldorf, before graduation and drink mimosas and maybe relive your most wonderful/awful times as a college student? Idk, because I had never even been to The Wal until that day, but I was able to get past the sticky, beer-soaked floors that I’m sure have never been mopped, and my friends and I drank cheap champagne on empty stomachs and it was perfect. After graduation, I stuffed my face with Thai food at our favorite local joint, and then after I attempted a nap, we had a huge graduation BBQ with my friends and family. My parents ended up playing rage cage with all of us young kids, and also it was my first time playing! Of course I had all of my college experiences the day I graduated. But it was a super amazing time, everyone drank and had fun, and I got to sleep the whole next day with a less-than-fun hangover (shoutout to Gatorade for getting me through that one).
I’m off to Europe in less than two weeks (!!!), so I’m trying to enjoy some of my favorite Reno summertime activities before I leave. Namely, Lake Tahoe, fun outdoor bars, and sitting at patios at cute local restaurants. Also, I spent the last weekend in San Francisco drinking lots of coffee and cocktails with my cousin. We even found a bar that had a “bondage” theme, and I was impressed. Oh SF, I <3 u.
Since I’m leaving so so soon, I’m trying to get all of my cooking in while I can. Although I’m soooo excited to eat at wonderful European restaurants for 4 months, I also will miss the luxury of a kitchen, even though I’m sure my airbnb hosts will be accommodating if I really get the itch. Namely, I’ve been taking advantage of my BBQ, because we just got a brand new sparkly one, and in the summertime, I’m pretty sure the only acceptable food is any that is BBQed. The other day I was craving burgers like no other thing in the world, but I wanted something a little more creative than my standard beef-cheddar-veg-bun combo I normally go for. I really love smashed burgers, but since it’s summer I have a difficult time cooking indoors when my brand new sparkly grill is in eyesight from my kitchen window. Also, I really wanted something with BBQ sauce but not ribs or pulled pork, so I just combined everything into one package and then added bacon for good measure.
It’s a little more work to make the homemade BBQ sauce, but it’s honestly a super easy recipe and totally worth the effort. However, if you really can’t be bothered, you can always buy some store-bought sauce, but you’ll probably miss out on peaches and bourbon which is not the kind of world I want to live in.
P.S. the BBQ sauce will make quite a bit, and you definitely won’t need all of it for the recipe. You can either put it in jars and seal it (if that’s your thing) or you can use it for another recipe, but I’d use it within a week (or two if you’re willing to risk it, which I am). This sauce would be perfect on pulled pork, ribs, or chicken.
Also, I served my burgers with wedge salad, but some oven fries would be amazing too.
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Warned You by Good Morning
I am unashamed to admit that I am currently involved in a love affair with a cheesecake. I have to say, this is fairly out of character for me, considering I’m not a huge cheesecake fan – cheese = yay! cake = yay! cheesecake = meh. Many of my friends and family are cheesecake lovers, but I tend to fall more towards the creme brulee side of the custard spectrum – I can’t resist a burny-caramely top, and I hold firmly to that belief. I find many cheesecakes to be a little too creamy, or even worse, crumbly, and oftentimes they aren’t sweetened enough, leaving the filling reminiscent of a bagel that’s been sitting on the counter getting cold. Not a pretty visual there? Well, that’s how the
cookie cheesecake crumbles, and I think there absolutely needs to be a seminar on how to properly bake a damn cheesecake. Sorry, not sorry – I’m putting an end to this.
Okay, maybe I have a holier-than-thou attitude towards cheesecake, but seriously, have you ever read reviews on any NY cheesecake recipe? Good lord, those east-coast peeps have a cheesecake power complex of epic proportions. (Okay, I really do get it though – you’re a tried and true New Yorker, and you’re desperately trying to recreate the cheesecake your grandmother used to throw together sans recipe. I promise, my family has been trying to do this with my grandmother’s enchiladas for years, and we can’t get it right – this is what happens when you let a Norwegian woman make Mexican food).
Anyhow, let me tell you, those recipe-reviewing-cheesecake-aficionados know their craft – crumbly cheesecake? Waterbath. Chunky chunks of cheese? Room temp the cheese and eggs! Genius. Props to you guys (and your grandma’s tips!). I appreciate you and your power complex (;
And on another note, here I am about to crush your OG-cheesecake loving souls. Because I added mascarpone to my cheesecake. And I added orange zest. And I added amaretto. And the crust is made with almond cookies. And it’s the most delicious, light, wonderful cheesecake I ever did eat. If it makes anyone feel better, I’ve heard a lot of Italian cheesecakes use mascarpone and amaretto! Does that help? Bueller, Bueller?
Anyways, I decided to use mascarpone, because as I said earlier, I don’t love the super-thick, creamy cheesecake in most restaurants (I’m especially looking at you Cheesecake Factory). However, the mascarpone rids of that overly-rich cream cheese taste and adds a fluffy, light texture that I adore. Orange zest was added to get away from the lemon that typically adorns cheesecakes. As for the amaretto, it was almost not added – I stared at that bottle in the grocery store for approximately 15 minutes, walked away from it, and thought, “Sara, that is so not the spirit”, turned back to the liquor aisle, and added it to my cart. It was a dilemma of vast proportions, but it made the cut, and I’m so relieved it did. Alcohol helps desserts always.
Btw I brought this cheesecake to my parents’ house for a family dinner and, I almost freaking DROPPED it while slipping on ice. But not to fear, my clumsy footing still appreciates the sanctity of $12 worth of cheese. I held onto that cheesecake like Harry held onto the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Yes, I did just make a HP reference, and I stand by that decision.
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Stay This Way by Peter Bjorn and John
IT’S FINALLY HERE. Even after countless pies and months of promising you all the best pie dough recipe in the whole damn world, I had not delivered. That is, until now. I really should stop making promises like these considering I’m a full-time student, I have 2 jobs, plus I try to volunteer a few hours a month on top of all the normal things I have to do on a day-to-day basis a.k.a. I’m freaking busy and don’t always have time on the weekends to do a pie dough tutorial. Honestly, I don’t know how I have free time sometimes, but bless my marketing internship for giving me college credit to work only a couple hours a week from home is all I have to say. Aside from that major tangent, my point is that I know the wait was worth it, and I would like you to agree with me, because it would make me feel much better about my slacking.
Let’s have a conversation about pie dough, my friends. I’ll try to keep an open mind here, but let’s just face it, I’m biased and totally Team Make Your Own Pie Dough. Most people refuse to even try to make their own dough, settling for either freezer-aisle roll-out pie dough (boo) or worse, store-bought pies from the grocery store (double boo). We’ll call this side Team Wrong. No offense if you’re on that team, I understand why you are, but hear me out. I have a major theory that pie dough is one of the most misunderstood forms of pastry, and I can attest to this, because I was a frozen pie dough fan for many years. After making pie dough once, I was a forever changed woman. It’s so. damn. easy. Surprisingly so, but it makes all the difference in the world. If you care about pie, make your own dough! I’m not kidding, you will not be able to go back to the store-bought stuff. It’s really life-changing, especially this recipe, which yields the flakiest, buttery-est crust I ever did eat. Thanks to Bon Appetit magazine for inspiring me to give it a try and also for giving me the recipe. I appreciate for real ♥
So, after a long guilt trip from Team Make Your Own Dough, do you feel inspired to make your own pie dough for (please, at least one of) your Thanksgiving pies?! Yes you do!
Let’s get started!
First, you’re going to start off with 2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter. Cut the butter into cubes, trying to work quickly to avoid melting the butter with your warm hands. I like to use a bench scraper for this so I don’t have to touch the butter, but a regular knife works well too! Put that butter in a bowl and pop it in the fridge while you gather your dry ingredients.
Now we’re going to prep for the next few steps. Whisk together 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons of sugar (1 Tablespoon for a savory-pie crust), and a scant teaspoon of kosher salt. Also prepare a glass of ice water and set the glass aside. Toss the butter in the flour mixture.
Now, working quickly, use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, creating shaggy pieces of butter. Some of the pieces should be thin and long while others are chunkier. Be careful not to let the butter melt in your hands.
Mix together 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 3 Tablespoons of iced water. Swirl to combine.
Drizzle the vinegar-water over the butter mixture, running your fingers through the flour mixture to incorporate all the ingredients. Quickly knead the dough until it starts to come together. It will be a little crumbly and dry, but resist adding more water or your crust will turn out tough.
Turn your dough onto a floured surface and knead it a few more times, incorporating the drier areas.
Cut the dough in half and press into 1 inch thick discs.
Wrap your dough in plastic and set it in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 5 days. You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months! I like to make dough in advance and save it in the fridge for big events like holidays. When you’re ready to use it, roll it on a floured surface and fill with whatever makes you happy.
Here’s a few pie ideas, if you needed any (;
And here’s a handy-dandy recipe card:
I hope this recipe makes the pie dough of your dreams as it did mine ♥
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Where is my Mind? by Pixies
(Updated 10/6/2019) An easy, deconstructed chicken pot pie made with plenty of fresh vegetables, thyme, parsley, and topped with buttery puff pastry!
PSA: Please be nice to college students, we are in the midst of midterms and life is a lot to deal with right now!!!!!!!
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been a giant ball of college-related anxiety which has led me to staying up into the early hours of the morning working on business plans and marketing research studies while living off of scrambled eggs with toast. I’ve also been fighting the early stages of a cold by popping obscene amounts of Vitamin C and drinking Immune Boosting Tea. The cabin fever is getting to a Jack Nicholson-level that makes me dream of hiking and Tahoe beaches and weekend roadtrips to San Fran.
In times like these, I find the only cure is to take a couple of hours to indulge comfort food, a sleeve of Milanos, and a lighthearted tween movie, normally of the Disney variety, although that is not required. My choice of the moment is Princess Diaries. But I digress. What I’m really here to talk about is the comfort food component.
My comfort food of choice: easy, cozy deconstructed chicken pot pie.
Today, we have chicken pot pie that has been deconstructed, because there’s less time between preparation and consumption, and also puff pastry is the jam. I developed the recipe randomly one weekend with ingredients I had sitting around in my fridge, and I will never look back. As far as I’m concerned, chicken pot pie is the best food to cure sadness, and also it’s the best way to say goodbye to the winter season. While this is not necessarily a “traditional” pot pie, it has all of the components. Chicken, veggies, thyme, crust, warmth, happiness. And you’re probably eating it snuggled up in a blanket while watching a movie. I *highly suggest* making this one last time before BBQ season officially hits.
How to make deconstructed chicken pot pie
This is a very easy pot pie recipe! It’s one of my favorites for the weekend, because it only takes like, an hour total. I prefer to make little mini chicken pot pie cocottes, but it’s not necessary. You can also make this a one-pot deconstructed chicken pot pie if you feel so inclined! You just have to boil the chicken and potatoes, saute the veggies, and thicken the sauce. After, top it with buttery puff pastry! And then dig in while it’s way too hot, burn your lip, and have the *ultimate* chicken pot pie situation.
Also, this recipe is easy to switch up! Use whatever veggies you have laying around. You could do broccoli or green beans or mushrooms if you’d like. I kind of think mushrooms have the texture of a slug, so I avoid them. But do you!
And speaking of mushrooms, you could totally make this recipe vegetarian by subbing chicken for mushrooms and using veggie broth! Super easy. Have fun. Get creative. Go crazy, girl.
(On another note, if you know anyone interested in funding a coffee shop/bakery or a weekend vacation, or you have some secret knowledge that I’m a princess and therefore deserve to be in the far away land of Genovia wearing pretty ballgowns and living in a castle instead of studying my brains out in college, you know where to find me).
Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie
Notes: This will feed six people if you have other sides involved. If you have big eaters, this will probably only feed four.
Make it vegetarian by subbing the chicken for mushrooms and using veggie broth!
You can also use regular pie dough if you prefer that over puff pastry.
You can use ramekins or cocottes. I like Staub and Le Creuset. These are the cocottes I used for this recipe.
Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, whisked with 1 Tbs. water (a.k.a. egg wash)
- 1 lb chicken breasts or thighs
- 3 small gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 celery stalks, small dice
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/3 cup peas
- 1/3 cup corn
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grab 6 ramekins/cocottes to make mini chicken pot pies. To make a one-pot recipe, make sure you have a deep 12-inch pan.
- Place your puff pastry on a floured surface. Roll out any cracks in the pastry with a rolling pin. Using your ramekins as a guide, cut out six rounds. (If you’re making one-pot chicken pot pie, you can just leave it as a big rectangle). Place the puff pastry rounds/rectangle on a baking sheet, and brush with the egg wash. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Set aside.
- Place the chicken breasts (or thighs) and potatoes in the 12-inch pan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken is cooked through. Drain the chicken and potatoes. Then, cut the chicken in bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Wipe the 12-inch pan clean, and place it back on the stove over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the carrots, celery, and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown on the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the peas, corn, and garlic, and saute for about 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture, and cook for a minute or two. Then, slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk, until the mixture is smooth and starts to thicken. Add the chicken, potatoes, thyme, parsley, salt, and lots of pepper. Taste, and season as necessary. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Divide the chicken pot pie filling between the six ramekins. Top with the puff pastry rounds, and serve! For the one-pot version, place the puff pastry rectangle on top of the filling. Cut into 6 slices, and serve. Enjoy!
*Song of the Day: Maps by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like nothing goes right?
And then you realize that literally everything you’re sad about is just a bunch of first-world problems, and nothing is actually wrong and you’re just being a princess about everything…?
Because I had that kind of day on Friday.
First, I woke up really early (at like, 6 a.m. On my day only day off…) and could literally hear my next door neighbor’s TV. Please note: I live in a house. Not an apartment. Not a condo. A house. And I could hear their TV. Because only at 6 a.m. do I have superpower hearing. After laying in bed staring at the wall for a few hours, I got up and *attempted* to do my hair and makeup, but no matter what I did, I looked like a hot mess. After about 1 1/2 hours, I finally was able to make myself look how I do every single day. It just took twice as long.. I finally decided that I would grab lunch and watch movies. But then I dropped my lunch on the ground 1 bite in (and ate it anyways because at that point, I had no limits). I also couldn’t find half of my Disney movies. So to solve that problem, I had a meltdown.
I am almost 20 years old and I cried over not being able to find my Disney movies.
Eventually, I decided to go grab a coffee, talked to a cute barista, and ended up at an 80’s party wearing a Risky Business costume.
The day ended up pretty great, and I realized that I just needed to take a deep breath, and understand that my problems were really not that bad.
Because they weren’t.
But they were kind of funny and now you can mock me a little.
Plus, I had these sitting in my fridge, so how bad could my day really be?
Since I know most of you are probably thinking, “What’s a nanaimo bar”, here’s a brief history:
The Nanaimo bar was invented in none other than Nanaimo, Canada. That’s about all I know. The actual dessert is made up of 3 layers. The first is a no-bake crust made with chocolate, nuts, coconut, and graham crumbs. The second layer is traditionally a custard buttercream, and it’s topped with chocolate.
But since it’s Girl Scout Cookie season (because obviously that’s a season), I decided to make them using Somoa cookies. Which already have chocolate, coconut, and a graham-like texture.
Plus caramel which is never a bad thing.
As previously stated, traditional nanaimo bars have a custard buttercream filling. Which is really good, but really rich, and really sweet. To make it a little less dense, I decided to make a swiss meringue buttercream filling. And add caramel to enhance the Somoa theme.
Result = something you need to make now.
Note: Please don’t be scared. 3 layers sounds like a lot. Swiss meringue buttercream sounds intimidating. SO NOT. These are very easy and don’t require that much time. Be brave, bakers.
1/2 c. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. Samoa cookie crumbs, crushed + 1/2 c. chopped roughly for garnish
1/2 c. almonds, chopped
1 c. sweetened coconut
3 egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. caramel sauce, homemade or store bought
4 oz. baking chocolate
1 Tbs. butter
For the bottom layer, melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa on the stove over medium heat. When it’s combined, mix 1/4 cup of the mixture into the egg to temper. Add egg mixture back to the chocolate mixture and stir over the heat until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Samoa crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press into a greased 8×8 or 8×11 baking pan. Freeze for 20-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1-2 inches of water in a medium sized sauce pan on the stove until it starts to simmer. In a heat-proof mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Place mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan and stir the mixture until a candy thermometer reads 140-150* F. Remove from heat, and whip egg mixture until stiff peaks form and mixture is cooled. Add butter, 1-2 Tbs. at a time until frosting forms. If it appears curdled, keep beating until it forms, or add butter 1-2 Tbs. at a time until the texture is creamy and smooth. Add vanilla extract, salt, and caramel sauce. Pour mixture and spread evenly over the crust layer. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm.
While the buttercream firms, heat the chocolate and butter over low heat until melted. Spread chocolate evenly over firm buttercream layer. Sprinkle chopped cookies over the top, and refrigerate until chocolate is hardened. Cut into bars, or bite sized pieces. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 16 large bars or 64 bite sized pieces.
I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday. I laid in bed until 11, went to my favorite coffee place, and watched Friends for hours.
What did you do?
*Song of the Day: Pedestrian at Best–Courtney Barnett