Tempura fried cheese curds are my favorite happy-hour or game night snack! They’re lightly crunchy and perfect with spicy & garlicky Sriracha mayo.
I have a confession: I’m not a huge “pizza person”. And because of this, I get constant shit from every human on the planet, because apparently I am part of a small majority that doesn’t lose their mind over pizza. I, of course, love a good pizza when I am in the mood for it, but the rest of the time, I’ll happily choose tacos or Thai food instead. However, I do have a fave pizza place in Reno that makes me jalapeno + cheese pizza without judgement, and as a rule, this particular pizza must be eaten with a draft beer, absurd amounts of ranch, and the leftover crust must be dipped in honey.
(On a side note, do people in other parts of the world dip their crust in honey, or is that just a Reno thing???)
And while pizza is not my absolute favorite food, I do feel passionate about dough + cheese, and I’ve been loving experimenting with pizza flavors at home lately. On some Fridays, I will come home, pull out all the leftover ingredients from the week, chop up tons of fresh mozz, and pop a bottle of wine while the perfect combination of crust puffing and cheese bubbling occurs in my oven. I almost always go out for dinner on Fridays, but if for some reason I’m really in the mood to cook after work, it’s almost always some version of pizza. There’s something so calming about coming home, chopping up some veggies, and making a quick, delicious dinner.
And, if I really need pizza without the effort, I always have my trusty jalapeno-special ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Yesterday, we had probably our craziest snow of the season (yes, in late February, ugh come ooooon Reno). I was at my parents’ house after shopping with my mom, and this blizzard just started out of nowhere. It looked like a snow globe and made me need Christmas all over again. However, since I can’t redo Christmas, I went for the next best comforting winter activity which is obviously cooking and watching British TV. So, while the snow flurries drifted down outside my window, I threw together this recipe and cozied up on the couch watching Lovesick. These ingredients are a perfect mix of flavors – the kale gets so crispy and garlicky in the oven, sausage adds a little sweetness, there’s lemon for tartness, and of course, I added a simple bechamel and mozzarella for a creamy component. At the end, I like to add pine nuts to give it an earthy flavor (and also because I’m obsessed with pine nuts, they’re so good 😛). I like to sprinkle a ton of red pepper flakes on top of my pizza, but of course, you can leave those off if you don’t like spice! Lastly, the sauce is fairly creamy, especially when combined with the cheese. If you prefer a lighter, almost flatbread-style pizza, I would just brush the crust with olive oil and put the toppings on sans white sauce. In fact, it sounds rather amazing, and I think that will be my approach next time!
White Pizza with Sausage + Garlicky Kale + Lemon
Ingredients for the white sauce
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour, stirring until no clumps remain. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Slowly whisk in milk, bringing it to a boil and cooking for a couple of minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
Ingredients for the pizza
1 lb. pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
White sauce (recipe above)
2 links of sweet sausage, casings removed
2 c. kale, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced and quartered
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 Tbs. pine nuts
Preheat oven to 425* F. Roll out pizza dough to 1/8 inch thickness and place on a baking sheet. Brush with 1 Tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink. Meanwhile, toss the kale, remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl – set aside. Drain the sausage, and discard the fat. Set sausage aside.
Spread the white sauce over the pizza dough. Sprinkle sausage and mozzarella over the sauce. Spread the kale and lemon slices over the pizza. Season with red pepper flakes.
Place the pizza in the oven for 16-20 minutes. When finished, the crust should be golden brown, and the cheese should be bubbly.
When the pizza is cooked through, sprinkle the pine nuts over the top. Serve with additional pepper flakes and parmesan, if desired.
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day* – Big Sis by SALES
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
This past weekend was kind of rough for a multitude of different reasons. Even though I had some relaxing moments spending time with friends and family, most of my weekend was spent in a state of “blah” that I couldn’t quite shake. When I’m feeling like this, I know the best thing to do is to engage in self-care with a little bit of comfort food and TV. My craving was mac and cheese, but I didn’t want to make a huge pan of leftovers that could go to waste. After a few minutes of thought, I realized I could easily make a tiny mac and cheese that would feed just myself. Even in my difficult times, my brain comes up with great things!
This recipe is perfect for a feel-sorry-for-yourself-night, because it only requires one pot and it’s super versatile. You can use whatever cheese and pasta you have around the house, although smaller pastas with plenty of nooks and crannies are always the best! I’m also partial to a cheddar-parmesan mixture if you have that around the house.
As far as fanciness, this mac and cheese is pretty fancy-free. I just blend it all together, top it with a little parm, and broil it until browned. I add a little ceyenne pepper, mustard powder, worcestershire, onion powder, and garlic powder. Feel free to add whatever spices you want or none at all. Broil or don’t broil. Eat it out of the pan and leave the dishes for later, or wash the pot while the pasta broils (my method, because dirty dishes give me anxiety). Once your mac and cheese craving has be fulfilled, you can crawl back in bed or take a walk or go grab a coffee. This mac and cheese is about you and your needs after all.
Take time for self love this week my friends ♥ We all deserve it.
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Dandelion Wine by Gregory Alan Isakov
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!
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!
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!
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.
Stay tuned for more beef recipes!
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Morning Dew by The National (cover)
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.
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.
*Song of the Day: Flowers in Your Hair by The Lumineers
I’ve decided to start off the official twelve days of Christmas by posting a holiday recipe every day until the 25th! Cookies, candies, and other foods that are bad for you (but it’s okay because it’s the holidays). The recipes will be some old, some new, but all worthy of your holiday baking list.
First Day of Christmas: German Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
This is an old recipe, dating back to 3 years ago (didn’t really think I had a blog that long ago tbh). These cookies remain one of my favorites, and I also like how they look snowy!
Second Day of Christmas: Soft Sugar Cookies with Sour Cream Frosting
These cookies are perfect for the holidays, because the recipe makes a lot, everyone likes them, and you can decorate them with holiday sprinkles. They take a little extra time than most cookies, but it’s worth it, I promise!
Third Day of Christmas: Orange Drop Cookies
This is my grandma’s recipe that I bake entirely too much (although, I don’t really see anyone complaining about it). It’s been one of my favorite desserts since I was really little. If you’re indecisive about holiday baking, just trust me on this: make these cookies.
Fourth Day of Christmas: Cheesecake Crumb Bars
Taking a break from the cookies to present cheesecake crumb bars! A mix between cheesecake, crumb cake, and shortbread. Customize with different flavors, or go simple with a little vanilla.
Fifth Day of Christmas: The Best Nut Caramel Ever
This is one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes! The caramel is super easy to make, and it’s customizable, because you can just add in whatever nuts you have on hand (although I highly recommend walnuts and hazelnuts). Wrap them in mini Christmas cupcake liners, because it’s cute.
Sixth Day of Christmas: Pineapple Zucchini Bread
This bread is a nice break from all the super sweet that comes with cookies and candy during the holidays. Filled with zucchini, walnuts, and pineapple, it’s perfect with a little butter and some coffee for breakfast!
Seventh Day of Christmas: Cinnamon Butter Candy
Unique, spicy, and the hardest part of the recipe is boiling the water. Wrap as a gift, and give your friends a break from peppermint chocolate bark. Or just keep it for yourself (trust me, you’ll want to)!
Eighth Day of Christmas: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
These are time consuming, but if you make these, you will pretty much win Christmas baking altogether. P.S. They’re not hard. They just have to rise for a few hours!
Ninth Day of Christmas: Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
These cookies are really easy to make, and I love how festive they are! Sweet from white chocolate, tart from the cranberries, and chewy from the oatmeal. Santa will be happy 🙂
Tenth Day of Christmas: Butter Cookies with Walnuts
Effortless, buttery icebox cookies filled with walnuts that melt when you eat them. Keep them simple with vanilla, or add extra flavors to get more creative with your holiday baking. This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so you have plenty to wrap up and gift!
Eleventh Day of Christmas: Espresso Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Whipped Cream
This is by far my favorite hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Only 5 ingredients and perfect for Christmas brunch!
Twelfth Day of Christmas: Norwegian Lefse
My family’s Christmas tradition every year! Lefse is a cross between a tortilla and a crepe, made out of potatoes. I look forward to making lefse every year, because it’s fun and of course, it tastes amazing! If you’ve ever wanted to make Nordic food, this is the best place to start.
Merry Christmas, my friends ♥
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 have been surprisingly social all weekend. I went to a football game on Friday (we won!) (Go Wolfpack!) and then my roommates and I spent the rest of the night with Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen and Cards Against Humanity. If you have never played Cards Against Humanity, let’s just introduce you to their slogan : A party game for horrible people.
And that it is.
I also spent my Saturday night bar hopping with one of my best friends/pseudo cousin. Except that I had to drive home so my bar hopping experience was mostly just me getting leaned on by a bunch of drunk people.
Good times right?
The whole drinking and Cards Against Humanity thing ties together because:
1. Most of the time, if you’re playing Cards Against Humanity, you are simultaneously drinking.
And 2. When I told my roommate, “The only two games I know how to play are beer pong and Cards Against Humanity. What does that say about me?”, his response was, “You’re an evil alcoholic.”
So there’s that.
And now about Zuppa Toscana. It is that delicious soup at Olive Garden with sausage, potatoes, and kale. The broth is lightly creamy and a little spicy.
It is also 220 calories for a bowl of it at Olive Garden. That doesn’t seem tooooo bad, until you consider that it has 15 g of fat and 990 mg of sodium in it. And when you consider that you’re going to have another bowl of it. And a glass (or two) of wine. And probably some type of pasta. And that salad, which also doesn’t seem too bad until you see that there are 150 calories, 10 g of fat, and 760 mg of sodium in it. Also, don’t forget that you’re going to eat like, 4 of those bread sticks (140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 460 mg sodium)
Holy shit, what is in this stuff?
Anyways, I definitely recreated the recipe and lightened it up quite a bit. I calculated it all up and it was about 350 calories per serving. The recipe serves 4, so you get quite a big serving of soup for less than 400 calories. Also, you just throw it in a crockpot. So easy guys.
*The recipe was originally from Fix it and Forget it, but has been changed dramatically*
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. whole milk or half and half
2 carrots, grated
3 russet potatoes, sliced
4 cups kale, chopped slightly
1 lb. turkey Italian sausage
Dash salt and pepper
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Sprinkle onion powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Grate 2 carrots into your crockpot.
Pour in chicken broth.
And the whole milk/half and half.
Slice up your potatoes.
Add them to your broth.
Brown the sausage.
Add it to your broth.
Sprinkle your spices!
Cook for 3-4 hours on high, stirring every once in a while.
1 hour, I REPEAT, 1 HOUR before serving, stir in kale. If you do it any earlier, it will be grossly soggy. Do you want soggy kale? Do you?!
No. You really don’t.
Serve with a light homemade salad and some whole wheat rolls. Sprinkle it with a little parm.
Yum yum yum. This is definitely going to be my fall favorite.
Bonus: It’s gluten free naturally!
It doesn’t taste exactly like the Olive Garden version, but it’s pretty damn close for a light version. Sometime (when you feel really naughty) go ahead and use regular chicken broth, cream, and pork Italian sausage. Or just go to Olive Garden and really go all out. I’m normally not a fan of chains, but I still love Olive Garden every once in a while.
But just make this, okay?