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!Continue reading “The Best Burgers Ever (a.k.a. The Awful Awful)”
ONE WEEK OF PANTRY STAPLE MEALS THAT ARE MOSTLY HEALTHY AND USE LESS THAN TEN INGREDIENTS. ALSO INCLUDES A SHOPPING LIST TO MAKE DINNER PLANS EVEN EASIER!Continue reading “7 Pantry Staple Meals with 10 Ingredients or Less!”
Meatball Subs with homemade fried meatballs, marinara, garlic bread, and lots of melty
Continue reading “Marc’s Meatball Subs with Garlic Rolls”
mozzarella. These come together in about 30 minutes for the perfect Sunday dinner.
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.Continue reading “Beef Stroganoff with Shallots & Brandy”
If I could fill a pool with anything in the world, it would probably be coffee or some type of melted cheese. However, if both of those options were unavailable, then I think my third choice would have to be peanut sauce. I would float on rafts made out of spring rolls, and the pool noodles would be actual noodles. It would be kind of gross, but in the best kind of way. Thai food is one of my all-time favorites, and I think the peanut sauce might be like, 80% of that reason. One of my favorite Thai restaurants in town serves it with pretty much everything on their menu from chicken satay to salads, and I am here for it. My favorite thing to eat it with is the curry puffs, which is essentially a Thai samosa. I could honestly eat three or four plates to myself. They serve all their dishes with some marinated cucumbers, and the combo of sweet, salty, tangy, and crunchy haunts my dreams. Continue reading “Coconut Curry Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce”
(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!
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”
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
Over the past week, I had a new, nagging conundrum stuck in my head that kept me awake at night, and that conundrum was how I was going to make chili look sexy. It’s a real Catch 22 folks, and after a lot of research, Pinteresting, and going through Bon Appetit’s archives, I came to the conclusion that it can’t be done. However, don’t even worry, because at the very least, chili can be made to look at least presentable, and dare I say, appetizing (?), even if you have to cover it with lots of cheese and cornbread and bright jalapenos. ALSO, I think that Superbowl may be coming up which means I actually posted a holiday-appropriate recipe before said holiday occurred?!? *wow*
The original plan was to make this recipe last weekend, but then I unexpectedly came down with this strange, 24-hour flu that kept me in bed all of last Sunday. I think it worked out though, because not only was my recipe far better developed over the week, but it finally got cold in Reno, and chili was the answer! The clouds came out and made some perfect lighting for taking photos. It was so nice. I wish I could have cloudy days for photo-taking every week. It didn’t snow all that much in Reno itself, which is kind of a bummer, because I love when the city looks like a snow globe. But at the very least, it actually kind of feels like winter, and I may even have to wake up a little earlier tomorrow to scrape frost off my car windows! Imagine that. The lower temperatures made for some excellent cozying-up weather that forced me to lay on my couch eating pizza and watching Skin Wars most of yesterday and today, so I’d say I had a pretty kick-ass weekend. Is anyone else here really obsessed with Skin Wars and willing to admit it so that I don’t feel like a garbage person for watching almost an entire season this weekend?? Pls?
Part of the problem I’ve found with living in colder temperatures is the resistance to want to do anything outside, even if it’s just taking a walk or going to get coffee. On one hand, I get super stir-crazy and a little frustrated at myself for not being able to achieve the motivation to make it to the grocery store, but on the other hand, it helps me develop some really excellent recipes that actually get made in real life and not just in my head. This chili felt weird to make, because I always use my mom’s chili recipe, which is so easy and can be made with either ground beef or turkey depending on my mood. Making a different recipe almost felt like I was cheating, and I just couldn’t get over that I was making chili without tomato sauce in it. However, when my cousins gave me some of their coarse-ground beef, I knew I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try a new recipe and maybe throw some beer in there for good measure. So I did. And it was great. And there’s dumplings in it!!!
Beef + Porter Chili with Cornbread Dumplings
for the dumplings:
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. stoneground cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. cheddar cheese
1 c. corn
for the chili:
2 Tbs. flavorless oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 lb. coarse ground beef
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 15.5 oz. can beef broth
1 15.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 12 oz. bottle Porter, or other dark beer
6 oz. tomato paste
1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas
1 15.5 oz. can kidney beans
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
A few turns of black pepper
Salt, to taste
Cheddar cheese, extra jalapenos, scallions, cilantro, sour cream, etc. for topping!
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk and butter. Mix in the eggs until just incorporated, and stir in the cheese and corn. Set aside, and heat the oven to 350* F.
In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and jalapeno, stirring until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the beef, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the beef broth, tomatoes, Porter, tomato paste, beans, and all of the spices. Bring it to a gentle simmer, and remove the chili from the heat.
Using an ice cream scoop, drop the cornbread batter around the top of the chili until there are 6 dumplings (you may have a little bit of leftover batter than can be baked up). Place the chili in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cornbread is set.
Ladle the chili and cornbread dumplings into bowls. Top with cheddar cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, or your other favorite toppings.
*Notes about this recipe*
- This recipe is best eaten day-of. Like most dumplings, the cornbread tends to fall apart in the fridge. I personally like the texture of cornbread mixed in my chili, but if you do not, I recommend baking the cornbread separately in a 8×8 pan at 350*F for about 25 minutes and placing the cornbread on top.
- I find that coarse-ground beef has a similar texture to stew meat. If you cannot find coarse-ground beef, I would recommend using stew beef, although regular ground beef would also be delicious.
- I used 1 Tbs. (3 tsp.) of cumin in my chili. However, I would start at 2 tsp. and add more as necessary depending on your preferences.
- If you don’t want to use beer, just use another can of beef broth!
This chili was made using Sanford Ranch Beef, a ranch in Northern Nevada that raises all-natural, pasture-fed, hormone-free cows! Their meat is affordable, healthy, high-quality, and I definitely recommend them if you live in Northern-Nevada. Check them out here or on Facebook!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: For You by SALES
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!!
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!!
Beef + Wild Rice + Vegetable Stew
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
Holy hell, it snowed again this weekend, and then when it wasn’t snowing, it was raining, and when it wasn’t raining it was perfect, foggy, San Franciscan weather that brings me peace. It was the ideal weekend, aside from the moment yesterday when, while walking and eating an ice cream cone in the flurry-darkness, I somehow didn’t see a huge freaking puddle of rain right in front of me, and I kicked it, and rainwater splashed all over my jeans and inside of my shoes. I probably would have been sad if I wasn’t laughing so hard, but that’s what I get for wearing old-man smoking slippers in the slushy rain-snow.
Luckily, nothing could dampen my spirits, because 1. I had mint chip ice cream from Simple!! and 2. I’m babysitting a big furry puppy this weekend while my cousin is at a friend’s wedding! She’s a big furry ball of floof (aka a Bernese Mountain Dog) named Flower, and even though she punched me in the face while I was petting her this morning, I’ve had the best weekend hugging her squishiness! Plus, there was that misty weather I was talking about earlier, and I had the most ethereal morning making coffee at work while the fog traipsed between the Sierras. Oh, and then there was the lasagna…
Lasagna is one of my favorite meals of all time, but especially when it’s frosty and misty outside. The melding of cheese + pasta + tomatoes hugs my insides and makes me feel cozy and warm. This lasagna in particular has been one of our favorite family recipes for a few years now. I’m honestly not sure where the recipe itself came from, but the flavors balance together so nicely – the ratio of cheese to meat is perfect, and the veggies add a lighter texture. Also, the recipe uses cottage cheese, which forms these delicious little cheese clumps without the heaviness of ricotta, and yuuummm!
I’ve tried at least four different lasagna recipes by now, and this is the one I always come back to. It takes a little work, as all lasagnas do, but of course it’s worth it! It’s the perfect weekend project if you want to perch yourself in front of a movie or listen to classic jazz while you layer delicate noodles with veggies, meat sauce, and a pile of cheese. While the sauce is simmering, you can make a light salad or mix some herbs & butter to make toasty garlic bread, or better yet, start some creme brulee or mascarpone cheesecake. Lasagna is special, and it deserves proper dessert as well. This meal is perfect for a dinner party with friends or a romantic date-night with your love (note: this will feed both of you for days). I wish you all lasagna-making bliss ♥
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Cry Me a River by Julie London
Thank you to Sanford Ranch Beef for sponsoring this post! Sanford Ranch Beef is locally-grown, hormone-free, steroid-free, all-natural, and all the good stuff. Visit their Facebook or website if you live in the Reno area.
As always, all opinions are my own.