Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing

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I feel like I don’t have any good stories to share with you guys lately.  I just work and cook and do a little yoga.  Is this what post-grad life is??  I get a degree, and I become someone who looks forward to coming home on Fridays and eating takeout pupusas in my sweatpants while watching Arrested Development reruns?  Because that’s exactly what I did this past Friday, and it was kind of amazing.  Although Saturday I went to a party and had two whole beers sooooo…yay?  Raise the roof?  I don’t know how to be young anymore.  Help!!!

In other exciting news, we also got a new Indian restaurant in town, and it’s the best one yet!  And this weekend, I’ll be in Seattle hopefully going to lots of fun bars and coffeeshops.  So, things are looking up in the ‘cool department’!

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On another note, may I introduce you to one of my new favorite recipes?  I didn’t know it was possible to like veggies this much, but omg this carrot salad is sososo good!!  I don’t think we appreciate carrot salad enough in the states, because I’ve never seen one here unless I was at an authentic-European deli of some sort, but I’m starting a petition to make it a thing.

I made this salad for Easter, and it was perfect with ham and scalloped potatoes.  Then, I used the leftover dressing to make more carrot salad for work lunches the next few days.  I’m pretty sure I ate like, 8 servings of vegetables a day that week.  I hope this obsession lasts and eventually upgrades to a spinach obsession.

For this salad, you can peel the carrots into long, pretty ribbons like I did.  Texturally, it’s my favorite, but peeling carrot ribbons takes a long time, and you end up with weird little carrot pieces once you can’t peel anymore.  In this case, I just turn them into carrot sticks and snack on them alone.  When I was being lazy with it, I just used grated carrots which is way faster and can be done with a food processor.  Either way, the real star here is the shallot dressing.  It’s slightly-spicy and creamy from the yogurt.  I would dip anything into it.  If you don’t like carrots, at least make the dressing and put it on some kale or something.

Also!  This salad can be made a day in ahead, but put the pistachios on right before serving or they will lose their crunch.  Ok?  Ok!

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Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing
Serves 8-12

Ingredients for the Salad

2 lbs. carrots, washed, trimmed, and peeled
4 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 c. pistachios, toasted
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, chopped

Ingredients for Dressing

1 small shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
1/3 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots into long ribbons.  Alternatively, you can shred them in a food processor.  Cover carrots with a wet paper towel to keep fresh.

To make the dressing, add shallot, white wine vinegar, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and honey to a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Drizzle in olive oil until emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare salad, add the queso fresco, pistachios, and parsley.  Toss with the shallot dressing, to taste.  Start with half the dressing and add more as needed.  Serve immediately.  To make the recipe ahead, combine everything but the pistachios.  Add the pistachios right before serving.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Sleep Apnea by Beach Fossils

Vanilla + Cardamom Scones with Strawberry Curd

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Yesterday, we had a rare March day with wonderful weather, and it was also the first day in three weeks that I haven’t felt like utter garbage.  I am currently in the midst of the longest sinus infection of my life, but even so, it could not ruin my spirits prompted by warm weather.  And by warm, I mean 45* F.  But, still… the sun was out for a change!  I had planned on spending the day cleaning my house after looking around and realizing that it looks like my closet threw up my entire shoe collection and I have a very impressive herd of dust bunnies breeding in my hallway.  But life is short, and sunny, windless Sundays are rare in March, so I forced myself to put on pants and get out of the house.  I got a coffee and took Bell to run around the dog park, and it wasn’t even muddy!  It was freezing, but every once in a while, the clouds would clear for a minute, and the sun would warm everything up.  The air smelled so good.  I always forget how lovely early spring is until it comes back around again.

Other than toughing it through the freezing-warm weather for as long as I possibly could, I spent the whole day cooking up some new recipes.  I love all the produce that’s out right now, and I’m taking advantage of it for as long as I can.  It inspired me to make some roast chicken with lots of potatoes and fresh herbs and then watch Julie & Julia, because what else would you watch when food is inspiring you?

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Another one of my spring favorites in the produce section is all of the fresh strawberries!  Strawberry shortcake has always been a very Easter-y dessert in my family.  We make our strawberry shortcake with biscuits instead of angel food cake, and I am convinced it’s the only way to even eat strawberry shortcake.  Also, you have to absolutely drench it in whipped cream, it’s a rule.

Like I was talking about last week, I’m trying to take advantage of my very short weekends by getting up earlier and brunching more.  Without some sort of goal, I have the tendency to sleep in and then lay in bed on my phone scrolling through embroidery instagrams for three hours.  SO, instead of scrolling, I’m sconing.  And eggs-benedicting.  And waffling.  If it’s brunchy, I want something to do with it.

But I digress.  This is about scones.  And strawberries.  And mixing it all together to create some sort of strawberry-shortcake inspired scone.  And also adding cardamom, because cardamom + strawberries = lalalala one of the best combos ever!!  Why didn’t I do this earlier, it’s such a good idea?  Cardamom is fairly expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way, so you’ll definitely notice a little hint of it in these scones.  The strawberry curd is a little extra step, but if you don’t want to go that far, you could always just serve these with jam or chop up some fresh strawberries to throw on top!  These are perfect for Easter brunch, especially because they can be made a day in advance!  Aaaaand they are best served with lots of fresh coffee, obviously.

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Vanilla + Cardamom Scones with Strawberry Curd
Serves 8-16

Ingredients

3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut in 1/2 in. cubes
1 egg, whisked
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. whipping cream + more for brushing
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbs. milk or cream

Preheat oven to 375* F.  In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.  Toss very cold butter in the flour.  Using your hands, work quickly to break the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized.  You may have some larger, flatter pieces.

Make a well in the center.  Add the egg, buttermilk, cream, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Mix until just incorporated.  The dough will be sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface.  Press into a 1-inch disk.  Cut into 8 sections.  Alternatively, for smaller scones, you could press it into two 1/2 in. disks and cut each of those into 8 sections.  Space on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.  Brush each scone with cream.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. of milk, and 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract until smooth.  Drizzle over scones.  Serve with curd (recipe below).

Strawberry Curd

1 lb. strawberries, finely chopped
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbs. corn starch + 2 Tbs. water whisked
6 Tbs. butter

Combine strawberries, zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until bubbling.  Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat.  Whisk in the butter.  Cool curd and serve with scones + whipped cream.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Let it Happen by Tame Impala

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Cherry Coconut Macaroons

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Every once in a while, I actually get my life together enough to provide a seasonal recipe before the season actually ends.  Most of time, I end up making the recipe, taking about half the pictures, running out of time to finish taking the rest of the pictures, and decide I will keep them around until the next year when I can post that recipe.  And by the time the season rolls around again, I a. forget about it completely, b. have decided the recipe needs to be improved, or c. hate the pictures I’ve taken from the year before.

And the cycle continues.

But!  This year, I was actually responsible and got it all done, and now we have a springtime cookie recipe!  Eeee!  Also, not even kidding, I was able to get a couple of branches of the springtime cherry trees flowering a mere two. days. before they turned into dark purple leaves.  It was meant to be.

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These cherry macaroons were loosely inspired by smitten kitchen’s raspberry macaroons, which are 10/10, but I was looking for something a little different that had more of a “spring” vibe.  I always think of cherries when spring rolls around, because the cherry trees bloom like crazy around Reno once it hits March.  We also have these absolutely gorgeous trees that bloom little white flowers (as seen in a post from last year), and I absolutely loooove them, except I just learnt a dirty little nickname for them (prompted by a certain smell they give off) that I will keep off my family-friendly PG-13 blog, but let’s just say it rhymes with sum-trees *insert blushing-face emoji*.  If you really need more information, there’s a very entertaining article about it here.

The more you know.  I guess that’s what they mean when they say “Spring is in the air!”.  Thanks internet!

But anyways, is this really a topic we should be discussing in the presence of innocent, delicate, spring-time cookies that summon images of blossoms, bunnies, and little chickies popping out of eggs?  No.  But it is me after all, and this is just the kind of thing we can expect on SSL.

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One of my favorite aspects of these macaroons is that they are not quite as crackly as most macaroons I have tried in the past.  Luckily for us, Cooks Illustrated solved all of our coconuty-problems with one simple solution: just puree the coconut in a food processor!  Yay!  Also, I loooove that I don’t have to whip egg whites for 20 minutes, which is traditional in most macaroon recipes.  so. much. easier!

Lastly, while I think this is the perfect recipe for Easter-fun, I also just discovered that this is a kosher-approved cookie for my friendies celebrating Passover!  Macaroons for all!

Oh wait, P.S. I highly recommend drizzling some of these with chocolate and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios.  I used semi-sweet, but white chocolate or milk chocolate would work too!

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macaroons

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: The Next Time Around by Little Joy

Potatoes Au Gratin

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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.

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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.

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Happy Easter!

XO SaraLynn.

*Song of the Day: Flowers in Your Hair by The Lumineers

Eos-ter Eggs!

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I don’t know if anything in this world could ever be as cute as Eos turned into Easter eggs and then put in a little homemade baskets.

I have endearingly began calling these guys “Eos-ter” eggs because I’m ridiculous and that’s just the kind of thing that I do.

But I just love them and they made a perfect Easter gift for my mom, grandma, cousins, and aunts.  Everyone loved them!  If you don’t know why it’s because, clearly, you haven’t used Eos chapstick before.  If you haven’t, you should probably rush yourself to Target or Wal Mart this instance and get going on that.

But that’s just my opinion.

Here’s how to make them!  (I’m the worst, and I didn’t get pictures.  Luckily, it’s pretty straightforward).

Things You’ll Need:

As many Eos as you need-I got a package of 5 Eos at Costco and then got 1 more at Wal Mart for a total of 6 that I needed.

Small plastic cups

Cute cupcake liners (optional, but recommended)–$1 store find!

Glitter glue! (optional, but recommended)

Easter grass-$1 store find!

Cute ribbon (try to find stiff ribbon so it maintains its shape)

Glue gun

Candy! (optional)-I got mine in bulk at Winco

1. Using your glitter glue, make designs all over the Eos.  I chose to do this to make them cuter and more Easter egg looking.  You could probably use different colors of paint and really go for it, but I liked simple little dots!  Let these dry for about 2 hours up to overnight if you wish.

2. Place a cupcake liner in the bottom of each little plastic cup.  They fit perfectly in those fat, short plastic cups you get on airplanes.  This is optional, but makes it look sooo much cuter than if you just use grass.

3. Place a healthy amount of Easter grass in the cup.  You want it to poke up way over the cupcake liner or it just doesn’t look very cute.

4.  Measure out ribbon for a handle and glue gun each side to the cup.  Let them dry for about 20 minutes so they really stick.

5.  Place candy in the Easter grass (as you will see later, this is optional, but it’s a nice little treat).

6.  Place your Eos-ter egg on top!

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You can choose to leave candy out of it, which really makes the Eos look more like an egg, but the candy looks really cute too.

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My family truly loved these.  I got rave reviews.

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These would be perfect for teachers or co-workers, and I promise they will like them much more than some Easter eggs filled with candy!

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Did I mention that I would definitely recommend adding candy to these?  They look cuter without candy for pictures, but they look so cute with candy in real life!

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Plus, they aren’t very expensive to make.  The most expensive part is the Eos which was $10.99 for a 5 package at Costco and $2.00 for an additional one at Wal Mart.  Not bad for a gift that people will actually use and like!  The orange one does not come in the five pack, but it smells amazing.  

If you do not have time to make the baskets, you could buy little candy holders at the dollar store from the Easter section.  They come in a package and look like small, Easter themed Chinese takeout containers.  Just add some Easter grass, candy, and an Eos-ter egg and you’re all set.

Or you can just opt to make the cute little baskets, which only take about 20 minutes, maybe even less.

Just listen to The Motorhomes-Songs for Me (And My Baby) like I did and they’ll go super fast.

Or you can listen to whatever floats your boat.

But I recommend The Motorhomes.

XOXO Sara

*I am not being paid by Eos to promote their products.  I simply had the idea and I am in love with their chapsticks!*

Painting with Leftover Easter Egg Dye!

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Hi everybody!

Sorry for the little leave of absense.  Spring Break has been crazy!  Looking for houses, doing college stuff, weddings, and just family/friend time has made it really hard to do blog-y stuff.

Anyways, I’m back and ready to blog! I hope you all had a wonderful  Easter!  I most definitely did.  My family had a relaxing day at the house, ate a big dinner, and dyed Easter eggs.

Plus, I got Les Mis from the Easter bunny, so that definitely gave me something to do on the last day of Spring Break!

Since we’ve been so busy lately, I didn’t get to dying Easter eggs until today.  Which was fine because I got to do it on actual Easter which was a ton of fun!

The idea to paint with leftover Easter egg dye didn’t really occur to me until I was in the process of dying eggs.

And yes, I am way too old to be painting with Easter egg dye, but I thought it was such a great idea that I had to test it out so that parents might be able to try it with their kids!

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This was the perfect project to do while waiting for the eggs to turn bright colors.

To do this project, I used the “vibrant” colors, meaning I used 1 tablet, 3 Tbs. of white vinegar, and 1/2 c. water.  The other methods would probably be too light to show up on paper.

Then, I just started painting and it worked out great!

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Trees are always fun to paint.

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The more water you paint on, the more color.  You’ll have to add a lot of water to get color so you’ll probably want to hang them up somewhere to dry.  You will also get little dots all over your paper, but when the picture dries the dots will disappear.

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Obviously, I’m not an artist.  But it was still a ton of fun to paint while waiting for my eggs to dye!  Plus, it gives kids something to do before you throw out all that dye.

Another fun thing to do is paint on paper towels (preferably the non-patterned kind), because it looks like tie-dye.  Super cool!

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Here’s a picture of some of our eggs!  I love my dark green one.

And even though I got to this late, painting with Easter egg dye should be a great idea for Easter next year!

Let me know what you guys think.  I hope you have a wonderful night celebrating Easter with your families!

XOXO Sara