The Best Burgers Ever (a.k.a. The Awful Awful)

Smashed, crispy-edged patties, American cheese, homemade secret sauce, and all the fixings are topped on an onion bun to make the best burgers ever. Inspired by The Little Nugget Casino’s Awful Awful in Reno, Nevada, this step-by-step recipe will teach you how to make the perfect diner-style burger!

A close-up of a cheeseburger on a white plate with fries, sitting on a grey table next to a bottle of Coke, a pink linen, and a bowl of pickles with a green velvet booth in the background.
Continue reading “The Best Burgers Ever (a.k.a. The Awful Awful)”

Beef Stroganoff with Shallots & Brandy

The first recipe of my Valentine’s series, this beef stroganoff with shallots and brandy is the perfect comfort food. Stroganoff has been one of my all-time favorites since childhood. I have the best memories of enjoying this cozy dinner countless times with my family.

A side image of a woman wearing a white flowly long sleeve shirt and beige linen apron holding a black cast iron pan of beef stroganoff with shallots and brandy garnished with parsley. The pan is on a beige linen on a wood table next to vintage utensils, a white bowl of parsley, a white linen, a bottle of wine, and a glass of red wine.
Continue reading “Beef Stroganoff with Shallots & Brandy”

Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

(May 2018) Note: This is an updated version of a “healthy Caesar dressing” recipe I posted way back in 2013.  The dressing recipe is essentially the same, and changes have been noted in the recipe at the bottom!


Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

There’s a restaurant in Reno called Campo that makes a kale salad and, not even kidding, it makes me crave kale salads.  It’s lemony, garlicky, and topped with crispy parmesan and a poached egg.  I think about it a lot and have considered going there just for a kale salad and their caramel budino, but I don’t want to be judged by the servers, even though I think kale + caramel pudding is the epitome of balance.  I guess you could call the salad “famous” by Reno standards, and the original owner of the restaurant was even nice enough to post the full recipe online. Continue reading “Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing”

Beef + Vegetable + Wild Rice Stew (Revisited)

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A few years ago when I was in college, I worked at a restaurant called The Cheeseboard, which makes the best soups and my all-time favorite grilled cheese sandwich.  When I worked there, we would essentially just make a giant pot of soup with whatever we had laying in the fridge.  Some of my favorites included our potato soup which I would top with absurd amounts of cheddar and the tomato soup with I would obviously pair with the grilled cheese.  One time, the chef made a stew with beef, wild rice, and all kinds of vegetables, and it was one of the best beef stews I ever done had.  It also happened to be one of the days that I didn’t help make the soup, and I had no idea what he did, AND to top it all off, he never used recipes.  SO I decided to make my own version, and I wrote a post about it, and it was good, but it wasn’t one of the best stews I ever had.  After that, I pretty much just forgot about beef soup until approximately one week ago when I found a package of stew meat in my freezer.

After a few years of learning more about food, and re-reading my original beef + wild rice stew recipe, I realized I had done some cooking techniques that made little sense, and the ingredients were a little off for my tastes (3 years will do that to you I guess?).  So I decided to remake the recipe with some different ingredients and some updated techniques, and I have to say, I think this maybe is one of the best beef stews I’ve ever had.  Yay!!

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For starters, I learned that a good quality stew meat + broth makes a big difference in taste!  I used stew meat from Sanford Ranch Beef which my cousins own, but you can use whatever good-quality meat you can find.  Also, try to find a nice wild rice mix without any added seasonings or preservatives – those will affect the overall flavor of the soup.  For veggies, I use a mire poix with some squash, but next time I may add turnips or leeks!  Basically, whatever you have in the fridge.  Also, I serve the stew with either a mixed salad or charred broccoli and fresh, crusty whole-wheat bread!

The stew lasts well in the fridge and can even taste better after a few days.  The rice usually soaks up some of the broth, so try to have extra on hand for leftovers!!

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Beef + Wild Rice + Vegetable Stew
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. beef stew meat, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. red wine
4-6 c. low-sodium beef broth*
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. marjoram or thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. hot sauce or cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. wild rice
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 zucchini, diced

In a large soup pot, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and brown on all sides for a few minutes.  Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and set aside.  If necessary, add the remaining oil and saute the carrots, celery, and onion cooking until soft.  Add garlic, and let it cook until fragrant.

Lower the heat, and deglaze the pan with the red wine.  Stir and let it simmer until the wine is reduced by half.  Add the beef broth, bay leaf, marjoram (or thyme), parsley, hot sauce, wild rice, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, and then add the beef back to the pot. Reduce the stew to a simmer, and cover the pot with a lid. Gently simmer for about 45-60 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

When the rice is cooked, add the peas and zucchini.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Discard the bay leaf. Season the stew with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with lots of crusty bread!

*I used 4 cups of broth which made a very thick stew.  The rice soaked it all up for leftovers, so I had to add more liquid.  If you like a brothy stew, add 6 cups!


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle & Sebastian

Single Lady Mac & Cheese

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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.

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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.

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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

 

The Best Damn Pie Crust of Your Life

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mix together 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 3 Tablespoons of iced water.  Swirl to combine.

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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.

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Turn your dough onto a floured surface and knead it a few more times, incorporating the drier areas.

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Cut the dough in half and press into 1 inch thick discs.

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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 (;

Apple Pie with Sugared Crust
Pumpkin Pie
Beef & Veggie Pot Pie
Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie
Pear & Ginger Galette
Strawberry and Grapefruit Galette
Mixed Berry Pie

And here’s a handy-dandy recipe card:

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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

 

 

 

 

Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie

(Updated 10/6/2019) An easy, deconstructed chicken pot pie made with plenty of fresh vegetables, thyme, parsley, and topped with buttery puff pastry!

Deconstructed chicken pot pie | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Pot pie made with 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.

How to use puff pastry.

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).

How to make individual casseroles.

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.


A very closeup image of a white bowl of chicken pot pie topped with puff pastry on a marble counter.

Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie

This quick stovetop chicken pot pie with puff pastry crust is one of my favorite cozy meals! This pot pie is super simple and makes for a lovely weekend dinner.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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!

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingSodium: 354mgCalcium: 89mgSugar: 4.6gFiber: 3.2gPotassium: 815mgCholesterol: 90mgCalories: 381kcalSaturated Fat: 7.8gFat: 16.1gProtein: 28.1gCarbohydrates: 31.6gIron: 3mg
Keyword autumn, chicken, dinner, main meals, pie, winter
Did you make this recipe?Tag @serendipitybysaralynn on Instagram!

XO SaraLynn

*Song of the Day: Maps by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs