Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing

Ribboned Carrot Salad with Queso Fresco, Pistachios, & Shallot Vinaigrette | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Carrot Salad with Feta, Pistachios, & Shallot Dressing

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’!

Easy Carrot Salad with Queso Fresco, Pistachios, & Shallot Dressing

Carrot Salad with Queso Fresco, Pistachios, & Shallot Dressing

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!

Carrot Salad with Feta, Pistachios, & Shallot Dressing


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, or feta, 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

Carrot Salad with Queso Fresco, Pistachios, & Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Butter Cookies with Walnuts

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Times my family uses my great grandmother’s china:  1. When I’m in town and pull it out of the cabinet with the upmost precision so I can take pretty, feminine pictures of cookies delicately sprinkled with powdered sugar.  2. For a holiday about once ever four years when my mom doesn’t talk herself out of using the plates, because they have to be handwashed.  Other than that, they essentially sit in little boxes, covered in bubbly plastic wrap stacked neatly on top of one another.  I’d like to think that someday I will have a fancy Alice in Wonderland themed tea party or host an extravagant ball that requires black ties and antique, fragile plates laced with gold.  But for now, they’re the host of my grandma’s crumbly butter cookies that are filled with walnuts and literally melt while you eat them.

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I love these cookies, because they’re extra easy, only six ingredients, and it makes lots of cookies to gift to your neighbors and coworkers.  My family has been making these cookies for as long as I can remember, although, if we’re being honest, I got all creative and added the almond extract.  I really think it adds extra flavor to these cookies, but you can also leave it out if you want simpler, more vanilla-flavored cookies or if you just don’t have almond extract laying around.

On the other hand, you could also go crazy with these cookies and add whatever you have laying around your kitchen.  Dried fruits, nuts, citrus zest, cocoa powder, vanilla bean, etc.  The cookies are so versatile that you could get extra creative and add some matcha powder or lavender buds or even dip them in chocolate.  If you don’t have time to bake, these cookies are the effortless, buttery, icebox cookies your kitchen needs right now.

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Song of the Day: Everlasting Arms by Vampire Weekend

Cinnamon Butter Candy

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About once a year, my mom visits me in Reno and we take a day visit to Virginia City with my aunts, cousins, and grandmas.  Since I’m already aware that you have no idea what Virginia City is, Mark Twain used to write there, and it’s a pretty popular place to take “old-timey” photographs dressed in stockings and boas with a sepia filter.

Virginia City is also the home to multiple candy shops, which are famous for their cinnamon candy.  If you ask my mom or aunts, all of them will tell you about how much they used to look forward to visiting Virginia City just to get their famous cinnamon butter candy.

This year for Christmas, my mom and I decided we would try to recreate the recipe for our friends and family.  It took 3 batches and multiple trips to the store, but we got pretty close.

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First off, let me give you a few opinions on cinnamon oil vs. cinnamon extract.  We first tried cinnamon extract, because it’s much cheaper and easier to find than cinnamon oil.  First, we tried 2 tsp., and it was not flavorful enough.  The next batch, we tried 4 tsp., and it still wasn’t what we were looking for.

We then researched where we could find cinnamon oil, called a special store, made a trip to said store, spent $15 on a bottle, and used it in the third batch.  While it was spicier than extract, it still wasn’t exactly what we wanted out of our cinnamon candy.

The candy isn’t really what we thought it would be (since we had the high expectations from Virginia City), but we ended up loving it!  While we were looking for that artificial cinnamon flavor (like in Red Hots or Cinnamon Jolley Ranchers), we actually got a real cinnamon flavor, which was a pleasant surprise.

In the end, if you like spicy, get some cinnamon oil online (it’s cheaper over Amazon!), or just go the easy way and buy cinnamon extract.  Either way, you’ll end up with a buttery, unique hard candy that’s really easy to make and can be packaged up as a gift (alternative for peppermint bark??)

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*Photos courtesy of my brother*

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*Song of the Day: Inside Out by Spoon*

The Best Nut Caramel E-V-E-R

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THIS IS MY 100TH POST EVER AND IT’S ON CHRISTMAS EVE!

And my 100th post is one of the best candy recipes ever!

We make this every Christmas.  Actually my mom made it.  I’ve been eating it…

These caramels are buttery, have three types of nuts in them, and need to be cut super small, because otherwise you will just have a huge wad of caramel in your mouth.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little hard to chew.

I promise, they only take a few minutes to put together and they’re always everyone’s favorite.  Recipes that are super easy and that everyone loves=something you should make rn.

rn rn rn

*Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home*

Ingredients:

1 c. walnut halves

1 c. pecan halves

1 c. hazelnuts

1 tsp. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 c. light corn syrup

Place walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350*F until you smell the nuts, and they are toasty brown.  Cool.  Line an 8 in. square pan with foil, and grease with butter.  Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cream, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in toasted nuts.  Cook, without stirring until candy thermometer reads 238* (soft-ball stage).  Remove from heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon until creamy and thickened.  Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool.  Cover, refrigerate for 8 hours or more.  Lift candy out using the foil.  Discard foil.  Cut into little squares.  Place in mini cupcake liners to keep from sticking.  Keep in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 lbs.

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Thanks for reading my 100th post ♥

XO Sara

(2nd) Song of the Day: Little Drummer Boy–Josh Groban

Soft Almond Sugar Cookies

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Way to go with posting all the holiday stuff two days before Christmas, Sara.

I know that’s what you’re all thinking.

Don’t lie.

But I’m just now getting to it because 1. I was waiting until I got back to Vegas so I could bake with my mom and 2. I decided not to bake at home since I’m the only one there to eat all of this stuff.

That’s my excuse(s) and I’m sticking to it (them)!

But on the bright side, these are the best sugar cookies I’ve ever had.  I know that you’ve seen that phrase a sickeningly obnoxious amount of times on Pinterest but this is the for real truth.  I mean it!

They’re soft and biscuity and not to sweet and almondy and just plain delicious and the frosting is perfect okay?  So just take my word for it and make them, OKAY?!

Okay.

Also, I’m posting two different recipes for frosting.  The first is Royal Frosting and you use it to outline your cookies so the flood icing (second recipe) does not spill over the sides and give you a huge headache-y mess.  Just outline your cookies and designs with the royal icing (the thick white icing in my pictures) and fill it in with the colored flood icing and sprinkles and stuff.  Just add some food coloring to your flood icing to make a bunch of pretty colors and have fun!  Also, I recommend you use these kinds of bottles…

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…to spread your flood icing on your cookie.  It makes your life sooooo much easier, I swear.  You can get these at Michael’s in the baking section and probably at other grocery/baking stores.  Use a pastry bag (or plastic bag) and small round tip to outline the royal icing.

If you have any questions for me about these cookies, feel free to ask!  I have become an expert.

Cookies:

1 1/3 c. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. almond extract (if you’re allergic, you can just leave this out!)

5 1/2 c. AP flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the buttermilk, eggs, and extracts.  It will look kind of curdy and gross, but don’t worry.  Combine all of your dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture in 3-4 stages.  If the dough is too runny, add more flour.  If it seems good and sturdy at 5 cups of flour, just stop there.  Seal the finished dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Roll the dough about 1/4 in. thick on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to make your favorite shapes.  I recommend rolling in batches and keeping unused dough in the fridge because when this gets warm, it becomes a huge mess.  Lay your cut out cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 5 minutes.  Bake them for 8-12 minutes at 350*.  They should be slightly browned around the edges and when you press them, they will feel soft.  Let them cool before frosting them!  *The time it takes to bake them depends on the size of your cookie cutter(s) and the thickness you roll out the dough*.

Royal Icing:

1/4 c. meringue powder or dried powdered egg whites

1/2 c. water

3 3/4 (1 lb.) powdered sugar

2 tsp. light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract (use vanilla if allergic)

Combine water and meringue powder (dried egg whites) and mix until frothy.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for about 6-8 minutes or until thick and stiff.  It should not be runny!  Outline the cookies using a pastry bag and small round tip.

Flood Icing:

1 c. powdered sugar

1 Tbs. milk

2 tsp. light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)

Combine ingredients together with a whisk.  It should be the consistency of syrup.  Add more milk if it is too thick.  Add food coloring and put in bottles!  You can do as many or as little colors as you like.  We did dark green, light green, red, blue, and white.  I think we ended up making about 4 recipes of this for our cookies, but we had a bit leftover so I would start with maybe 2 or 3 batches and add more if needed.

Then just fill the outline of your designs with icing!  And add sprinkles or whatever else you like.  We used some black gel frosting from the store to make small designs on our cookies.  But be careful not to add too much or there will be a funky taste.  Which is bad joo joo.

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Aren’t they just so cute and happy?  These are a few of my favorites.  But we had some real gems.

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Merry Christmas!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families.  P.S. These cookies would be good for any holiday in any shape!

XOXO Sara