Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!! Today, my Canadian friend, Stephen, comes into town to experience
real American Thanksgiving, so to celebrate, here’s a classic Canadian recipe! If you read about my Canada trip, you know that I spent one late, post-beer night at Smoke’s Poutinerie, which I’ve been told is the classic around those parts. I ate “traditional” poutine, some drunk college kids told me I look like Bjork, and then we piled into an uber and I woke up with a gravy hangover the next day.
Tomorrow, I also plan on waking up with a gravy hangover although I’m hoping this gravy is topped over a mountain of mashed potatoes and cornbread stuffing. Yesterday I went to the liquor store after work, which was absolute utter madness, but I got some fancy gin, and I’m ready to party. I will be spending my weekend surrounded by 40+ people who share my DNA, and I have dubbed myself the official gin + tonic maker for the weekend.
When I asked in my Toronto post if it would be sacrilege to use tater tots instead of french fries in poutine, Stephen came back with a resounding “YES”. However, because I have no manners, and because deep frying foods in my own house is something I avoid like spiders and vacuuming, tater tots were the obvious choice. Plus, tater tots ♥
While we’re on the matter, would if be totally inappropriate for me to top mashed potatoes with gravy and cheese curds? Do you think Stephen would just totally leave the country and never come back??? Would mashed potatoes + gravy + cheese curds be delicious with gin + tonics? Or is that the gravy-hangover remedy?? If you have answers for these questions, pls let me know ASAP. There isn’t much time before I pick up the Canadian from the airport and the festivities begin.
Tater Tot Poutine
1 lb. tater tots (I eyeballed 1/2 of a 2 lb. bag)
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. beef broth
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 c. cheese curds
Parsley, for garnish
Heat oven to 450* F. Place the tater tots on a greased baking sheet making sure the tater tots don’t touch. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10-15 minutes. You want them to be super crispy but not burned.
Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Whisk in beef broth, salt, pepper, onion powder, and thyme. Stir until thickened. Keep warm.
Drizzle gravy over tater tots. Top with cheese curds, and broil it in the oven until the curds are slightly melted. Top with parsley, if desired.
Serve immediately. Extra gravy optional, beer required.
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Cosmic Sass by Good Morning
After a week and a half of recovering from surgery I’m finally back! Although I can’t say my senior-year spring break was worthy of being considered a “spring break woohoo!” by any means, I can’t really complain about playing lots of guitar, having an excuse to eat ice cream for all 3 meals, and watching Season 2 of Love for an entire week, right? Take it from me, if you’re sick and also feeling blah about a breakup, ice cream and Love will solve all of your problems…or at least help you pretend you don’t have any in the first place*.
*jk, this is probably not the healthy way to deal with feelings, but we can all be self-indulgent once in a while, right?
Anyways, my week off was fun, but I’m ready to drag myself back into my regular routine so that I can get ready to graduate! Plus, as it turns out, laying in bed is really only fun for a limited amount of time. I feel myself itching to get back to working at the coffee shop and walking around campus. As a senior in college getting ready to go back into the real world after a week long break, I’ll take motivation wherever I can get it…
Now for the palmiers! As a busy student who loves to cook, I’m always looking for easy appetizers or snacks that I can bring along whenever I’m invited to someone’s house for dinner. Normally, I go for a cheese plate, because cheese = ♥, but I also am passionate about everything spice. Put the two together, and you get a savory palmier combo that’s reminiscent of an everything bagel with cream cheese, except butter-ier, because puff pastry is essentially just a delicious block of flaky butter. While these do take a little while to bake, they’re super easy to put together, and they come out beautiful, so you seem kind of impressive even if you aren’t. Also, if you have some spinach dip lying around, spooning a little on top of these palmiers is really A+.
Read below to learn how to fold palmiers!!
For palmiers, you’ll want to start by rolling the creases in the puff pastry with a floured rolling pin. Spread your filling on the puff pastry sheets (filling recipe below).
To fold these cuties, fold the puff pastry long-ways once toward the center. Then roll them again so the left-and-right sides meet in the middle. You’ll want to have 2 layers for each side (see right side of the picture).
Fold the left side on top of the right side so you have 4 layers. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This can be done up to a day in advance if you’re pressed for time.
Cut each roll into 1/4 inch slices. Place on a baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and bake until golden brown!
Although I strongly suggest using the everything spice + parmesan on these palmiers, this recipe is a great template for other flavors as well (cheddar + rosemary, feta + za’atar?).
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Give it to Me by HOMESHAKE
Hello my wonderful readers!
I’m back home in Reno (although I’m still dreaming of London), but I’ve had a wonderful summer and it’s time to get back to business. Before I came home, I went to my parents’ cabin for the first time in two years which is where I used to spend my childhood weekends hiking, fishing, and riding quads.
It was also my getaway for watching movies and reading countless books which I did not always have time to do with all of my extracurriculars. I cannot even tell you how many times I blew through the HP series up there. 7 books and 8 movies were no match when I had a good two weeks of lounging on the porch swing with an iced tea in my hand.
Some of my best memories from growing up were at my cabin, and I wish more than anything that I could make it up more. Luckily, I have Tahoe just a short 30 minutes away, but there’s nothing like (vacation) home, right?
Anyways, I had a really amazing time with my family hiking, white water rafting, and of course, reading. We also had some really great food.
Before I share with you our delicious dipping recipes and whatnot, let me first disclose that all of the pictures posted today were taken by my baby brother (except for the fondue pic taken above, which was posted by my mom). He’s the guy in the maroon striped sweater. He’s only 17 and far more talented than I will ever be. So thank you to Garrett (and mom!) for the beautiful pictures shared today.
About fondue: Fondue is really really fun. Like, really fun guys. Although I did this with my family, I’m totally considering getting a fondue pot to have parties with my friends. Especially since I learned some good tips and tricks from this experience. We actually did an Italian version of fondue called bagna cauda which is a method of cooking the food in hot oil.
Some tips for a fondue (bagna cauda) party:
1. No more than 4 people should be at the fondue pot at any given time. Just trust me on this.
2. Wear clothes you won’t be totally sad about ruining. I don’t think I ended up dripping anything on myself, but there’s always a risk.
3. Lay down a black garbage bag or old table cloth. There will definitely be some drippage action there.
4. Have plenty of dipping options.
5. Consider having some small appetizers or a nice side salad to munch on. Although fondue is very fun, it’s also time consuming, so you’re waiting a few minutes between each bite.
Are you ready for some kick-ass dipping sauce recipes and also some wonderfully safe cooking instructions?!
You bet you are, champ.
*Recipes and instructions courtesy of Pillsbury. Some recipes adapted slightly.*
Bagna Cauda Ingredients:
4 cups peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
Cubed beef tenderloin, Cubed chicken breast, Cubed squash, Mushrooms, Cheese cubes (coat with melted butter and bread crumbs beforehand), Shrimp, Cubed pork tenderloin, etc.
Pour oil into a fondue pot. Add garlic, if using. Heat until 350* F. Place setting on warm to maintain heat. Remove garlic, if using. To cook ingredients, place 1-2 items on fondue sticks. Place in oil and cook until desired doneness. Dip in favorite sauces.
Garlic Basil Aioli
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt, to taste
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
Salt, to taste
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sour cream
1 Tbs. prepared horseradish
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Directions for all sauces: Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
*We also used A-1 steak sauce as a dipping sauce*.
In addition to bagna cauda, we enjoyed the sunset, had a lovely campfire where we looked at the stars, and I got to play with my puppy. All in all, it was an amazing weekend.
Song of the Day: Suicide Saturday–Hippo Campus
I’m sure at some point within my food blogging career, somebody will finally tell me to stop making Asian food. Considering that probably about 50% of my recipes so far are Asian, it is bound to happen at some point. But up until then I will keep on bombarding you with Asian recipes until you just cannot stand it for one more second and throw a fit banning me from using even a teaspoon of soy sauce or a pinch of Chinese 5 Spice.
But for now just bear with me, people.
I swear, I swear, I swear that these are soooo worth making. These are super killer.
Plus this recipe is easily adjustable, so you can make it for 20 people, 2 people, or even a lonely 1 if you’re flying solo. It takes about 30 minutes, and everyone loves lettuce wraps, so they’ll think you’re the bomb dot com.
For this recipe, I kept it simple and just did some iceberg, carrots, cilantro and peanuts for garnish, along with some extra sauce. However, if you’re in to bean sprouts, water chestnuts, scallions, whatevs…this is a great recipe for adding and subtracting. The best part of lettuce wraps is how easy it is to pull random ingredients out of your fridge and throw stuff together.
Which is exactly how this recipe was birthed.
1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, grated
1/4 c. Hoisin sauce
3 Tbs. reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. Sriracha
1/2 tsp. onion powder (or 1/4 c. minced onion)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Iceberg or butter lettuce
Toppings: carrots, cilantro, peanuts, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, green onions, sesame seeds, rice, Sriracha, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, crunchy rice noodles, etc…..
In a skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil, or other cooking oil. Add chicken and onion (if using). Cook chicken until it is brown on all sides. Add garlic and ginger, and saute for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
Add Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, onion powder (if using), salt, and pepper. Stir until chicken is cooked through.
Serve warm in lettuce cups with toppings of choice.
Anyways, I don’t have much to talk about today (the lettuce wraps speak for themselves???). This is my last day of spring break (boo), but I spent most of the week in Napa and San Francisco, so expect some great pics and restaurant recommendations coming up soon. Also some pretty good stories. Just know that the weekend included really great SF coffee roasteries, (multiple) amazing steaks, and some really high heels. Also French themed stores. Lots of French themed stores.
But for now, I’ll leave you this recipe while I watch Cinderella and prepare for work tomorrow.
Just keepin’ the party alive.
Song of the Day: Interference Fits–Perfect Pussy
Does anybody (besides me) like the smell and idea of pickles but not actually like pickles themselves?
Because I’m finding that I have that kind of relationship with pickles. I want to like pickles, I just have a hard time with them for some reason.
Probably cause I’m a weirdo.
Which is coincidentally what my roommate thinks I am after I took him to see The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (or to shorten it: The World is a Beautiful Place/TWIABP)
Oh, you don’t know who that is either?
I’m not surprised actually, but you should check them out. I’m a little bit in love with them <3
Uhhhhhh…back to the pickle thing now?
I’m not huge on pickles, although I am trying, but I looooove Thai marinated cucumbers. I don’t know how you couldn’t. They’re kind of sweet and vinegar-y and go great with chicken satay with peanut sauce or homemade ramen just sayin’. Also, they’re way healthier than pickles, so there’s that.
And you should try them about rightthisverysecond.
1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red chili flakes, to taste
Slice your cucumber. I really like pickling cucumbers for these because they’re super crunchy, but I couldn’t find any at the store this time, so a regular one works just fine! (Also, this is like, half a cucumber because that’s just what happens sometimes).
Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and chili flakes.
Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers.
Mix together. Let marinate for about 20 minutes (or longer if you like it really strong) and then pour out extra vinegar.
“Hey Sara, you need to go get your nails done now”–you guys.
“I know, I’ll try to do better in the future”–me.
(Thank for loving me anyways) (Even when I enter weird made up commentary mid directions).
Put these on everything.
Song of the Day: Space Exploration to Solve Earthly Crises–TWIABP (fitting, yes?)
Also ft. Chris Zizzamia who does an awesome spoken word/poetry collab with the band which you will hear in this song! Cool, right?
“Hey, Sara. Why are you taking pictures of that guacamole?”
“Errrrrrr, uhhhhhm, weeeeelllllllll…..”
I feel like that just summed up my life in two sentences.
That was a quote from one of my roommates. Sometimes it takes a while to openly admit that you’re a food blogger. Not that I’m ashamed. Just that it’s not something that just comes up all the time.
Until your roommate walks in, practically smacking you in the head with the front door while you “rap squat” with a camera pointing directly at a bowl of guac. Don’t know what the “rap squat” is? Check this out here. That should sum it up for you/give you a good laugh.
Anyways, yeah, guac. I’m pretty sure that I’m allergic to avocados considering I never feel all that great after eating them, but I don’t care. Because they’re worth it. Why are they so good?!
This guac has corn and black beans in it, like that really great salsa, except that it’s in guacamole! Yes, please and thank you.
But Sara, doesn’t regular guacamole have tomatoes and onions in it?
Uhm, don’t you have something better to do? Shouldn’t you be watching Netflix or something? I recommend It’s Always Sunny. (No, Netflix is not compensating me for that comment. But I am interested Netflix. Need a cute little redheaded spokesgirl? Sorry, was that conceited?).
But for real, the answer is yes. But I hate raw onions and I forgot tomatoes at the store. You may add them if you want. I just did not have the necessary ingredients with me. Sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Let’s get started!
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 drops Tobasco, or to taste
1/4 c. corn (fresh, frozen, canned, your choice)
1/4 c. black beans (I used canned. Make sure to drain and rinse!)
Cut your avocado in half, around the pit. Jam your knife into the pit and yank it out. Just twist a little, it’ll come out. Don’t cut your hand! You can do this guys.
Put the avocado in a good mashing bowl with your garlic, lime juice, onion powder, salt and pepper, and Tobasco.
Smash it with a fork!
Screw the fork, this is taking to long. Use a potato masher.
Oh yeah, I don’t have a potato masher.
The fork works.
Stir in black beans and corn!
Serve with these! They’re way healthier than regular corn chips and they’re way more delicious!
Again, not being compensated. Again, interested.
This should serve 4 regular, healthy sized portions. But we all know you’re going to eat half of it like me. Don’t be like me, kids. Do yourself a favor. Learn portion control.
You know what, avocados are really good for you, eat however much you want.
And let me know how that goes.
1. To find a good avocado, take the little stem off. If it’s green, it’s ripe! If it’s creamy white/tan, it’s not ripe. If it’s dark brown or black, it’s bad!
2. To keep guacamole from going brown and goopy, cover it with water. Then just dump it out and stir whenever you want to eat it. Kind of sounds gross, but it’s not (it’s just water) and it’s better than brown clumpy guac. The reason it works is because food can’t oxidize in water! Yeah, science bitch! (Breaking Bad, anyone?)
Song of the Day: Honestly?–American Football
This weekend I have a Moulin Rouge party I’m going to for my friend Molly’s 30th birthday so I’ve been spending the majority of my day baking a gluten free cake and a hundred cupcakes and making a bunch of sugar diamonds.
But now I’m lounging in bed watching Friends and blogging. Also, my left contact is super blurry but I’m going to ignore that for the time being. And by that, I mean it’s staying in there until I take off my makeup and go to bed.
I’ve been up since 6 a.m. I’m losing the power to care about little annoying things anymore.
Completely shifting topics here, strawberries are in season right now which means I’m going through an obsession with them. They’re just so sweet and red and beautiful in the late spring. And they’re the perfect start to summer.
I’m sure you’ve seen those cream cheese filled strawberries before. They’re pretty popular, and they’re super delicious. This past weekend I considered making them, but right now I’m kind of over cream cheese frosting (since that’s pretty much what the filling is). Cream cheese frosting to me is just completely overused, and I was looking for something a little lighter.
Enter mascarpone pudding filling. Yeah, like in tiramisu (without all the coffee and chocolate and stuff, of course). Also like in canolis. Honestly, how amazing can this cheese be?
The store I shop at actually only has mascarpone creme which has the consistency of cream cheese and is super smooth. If you can find this stuff, use it. Trust me…just use it.
1 lb. strawberries
3 egg yolks
1/3 c. sugar
Dash of salt
1/3 c. cream or whole milk
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pistachios and chocolate chips for garnish!
First make the pudding: This is where I goofed and forgot to take pictures. Yep, sounds like my brain right? Luckily, it’s super easy. Just whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and milk in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Boil for a few minutes, or until it is thick like pudding. Remove from heat, and bring to room temp. Using a hand mixer, beat in the mascarpone and vanilla extract. Refrigerate it until ready for use.
Now for strawberries!
Begin by washing the strawberries. Here’s a tip so their juices don’t start running: wash them by rubbing them with a wet paper towel. It takes a little longer but it’s way better than runny strawberries!
Now remove the stems and cut a little off the top!
Cut each strawberry into quarters, BUT DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Otherwise they won’t make very good mascarpone pudding holders (;
Arrange them nicely on a pretty plate.
*Blurry picture alert*
*Blurry picture alert again oh my* Fill the strawberries with the pudding. I just cut a little tip off of a ziploc and filled it with pudding, but it would be pretty with a little tip too. However, I kind of like my rustic looking filled strawberries. (Rustic meaning slightly messy).
Top them with pistachios or chocolate chips or both! I personally loved the pistachios myself, but the chocolate chip ones were also popular at the BBQ I brought them to (:
Overall, I would say these took anywhere from 40 minutes-1 hour. Not too bad if you ask me! (Plus, they were a HUGE hit).
Try them out and let me know how you like them!
Do you ever get a really good idea and you need to make it a reality at that very moment?
Because that is basically my life at all points in time when it comes to food and music.
It’s almost addicting, but my blog makes it all seem okay. So thanks you guys.
Anyways, my whole point is that that is how these little beauties came to be. First, I made a French onion soup version my mom and I created over the phone (coming soon!) and then I somehow came up with these while craving Philly Cheesesteaks one day.
I’m quite a complex character, aren’t you impressed?
Plus, aren’t they soooo cute? I can’t get over how much I love them.
I just started with some good quality roast beef from the deli. I’m serious about the good quality thing. Don’t go cheap here, you really don’t need that much anyways.
Also, look for phyllo cups or you may have to make your own which takes forever. Really strive to find the premade cups and your life will be a breeze.
Other than that, it only takes about 5 minutes to throw together, and they freeze. Easy appetizer much?
How great would these be for Superbowl? I know what I’m making next year!
2 packages phyllo cups (15 per package)
1/2 lb. good quality deli roast beef, roughly chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 onion, diced (or 2 Tbs. dried onion flakes, which is what I used)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. provolone, shredded + 30 small slices of provolone
Preheat oven to 350* F. Place phyllo cups on a baking sheet lined with foil. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add bell pepper and onion. Saute until soft. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add roast beef , salt, pepper, and cheese, and heat until cheese is melted.
Spoon mixture into the phyllo cups. Top with provolone squares.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly bubbly.
These make me happy. I even ate them for dinner. I had no shame.
Just put them on a cute plate, and you’re good to go. Instant people pleaser.
*For a vegetarian alternative, use mushrooms instead of roast beef.
It’s one of my faves. But I do not love the store bought stuff. How do you make something so healthy taste so chemical-y? They find a way, I’m telling you.
So I made my own! Homemade tahini and everything.
This is perfect with fresh veggies and whole wheat toasted pita bread. I could go eat some right now, and I just might.
I even accidentally stabbed myself with my blender to make this stuff, so sacrifice was involved.
That’s how good hummus is. I’m willing to give some blood for it.
But somebody’s gotta do it, ya know?
Oh, did I mention how easy it is to make this? Even homemade tahini is so simple! Just blend up the tahini, scrape it out and make the hummus right away. No clean up involved. It only took me about 30 minutes, and I was on my way to Greek food heaven. Maybe gyros will happen this weekend? It’s so possible.
Follow the directions like this and you will have a perfectly smooth hummus! Any other way might not end up with the best results. Go with your gut, but keep in mind, this is my recommendation 😉
Spoon tahini into a blender.
Add fresh lemon juice…
Blend away! Let it just blend for a good two minutes. Scrape occasionally.
Add a bunch of chopped garlic!
And some salt.
And some paprika!
And don’t forget about the olive oil. My favorite of all the oils.
Blend it up! I actually used a little too much paprika so mine looked kind of reddish orange. You do not have to make my same mistakes, but you can if you want.
Add chick peas and blend until smooth and creamy. (At this point, it will be thick, so add some water to get it to the desired consistency).
Have I ever mentioned how good hummus is with warm whole wheat pita bread? It’s da best.
2 cans chickpeas
2 Tbs. tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
8 cloves garlic (you may use less, I recommend this many though)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. olive oil
2-4 Tbs. water, to thin (I needed 4)
Drain chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Set aside to drain all of the water out.
Spoon the tahini in a blender and squeeze as much lemon juice as you can in with the tahini. Blend together for about 2 minutes, scraping occasionally. Add garlic, salt, paprika, and olive oil. Blend for a few more minutes, scraping sides occasionally.
Add chickpeas about 1 1/2 cups at a time. Blend thoroughly so that the hummus is nice and smooth. Add water to thin to desired consistency.
Makes about 4 cups.
*This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free!
*Paleo: Replace chickpeas with roasted eggplant or roasted cauliflower.