Homemade Bagels

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About once a year, I get a strong yearning for summer.  The long days off, laying on the beach at Lake Tahoe, wearing light sun dresses and messy up-dos to keep the hair off my face, the smell of beer & cheeseburgers on the grill, Slurpees, riding bikes, bonfires when it starts to cool down at sunset, going on holiday, fireworks.  The time normally comes around late January/early February.  The holidays are over, so the snow isn’t lit up by Christmas lights, and comfort food feels too rich and loses its appeal.  Winter break has passed, and I’m back in school for “spring” semester, which is really just a tease, since it’s still 40* or below outside, and I’m tired of wearing the same sweaters and coats I’ve been wearing for months.  I stare longingly at my bikinis and dream of taking a roadtrip and going on hikes.

After a few days of missing summer, I normally resort back to my usual cold-dreary-weather-obsessed self, snuggle in my blanket with some hot tea, and watch a movie while the rain patters outside.  I indulge myself on the weekends with pot pie or roasted chicken, enjoy the cold Reno mornings surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and sip Guatemalas or Perus at the coffee shop.  Once summer comes around, I’m already dreaming of the brisk cold that sneaks in mid-September.

A couple of weekends ago, I went to Tahoe with a *special human* to see the snow on the lake, which I had never done before.  I took some pictures, and we climbed on rocks at Sand Harbor to watch the sun dip completely under the horizon, which was incredible, albeit slightly dangerous.  Kings Beach was filled with cute kids in puffy snow onesies and dogs prancing after tennis balls on the beach.  My faith in winter was restored, and bagels were consumed over coffee the next morning.

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Which leads me to the bagels.  Lately, with stormy clouds blanketing Reno on my days off, I’ve taken to trying out more difficult recipes that I’ve never attempted before.  Oftentimes, I find that the recipes are not as hard as I initially thought, and they taste much better and cleaner than their store bought alternatives.  Such was the case with these homemade bagels.  Seemingly intimidating, but actually so easy, and they take no more than two hours to make.

I’ve been staying off of the internet lately, mostly due to a recent computer update from a certain tech company, let’s call them Schmicroshoft (no names please), that refuses to connect my computer with my wifi, essentially leaving it unusable, and leaving me to try solution after solution to no avail (but also because people keep talking about politics on social media).  Long run-on-sentence short, I spent 2 hours on the phone with said company, and my computer still isn’t fixed, which is why I haven’t gotten the opportunity to share this recipe until now.  But I promise, it’s probably one of the most successful recipes I’ve made, and it’s versatile enough to add whatever ingredients you want.  Use an egg wash, and sprinkle the homemade bagels with seeds, garlic, onion, cheese.  Mix in blueberries or chocolate chips.  Take one straight out of the oven, toast in under the broiler for a few minutes, and smother it with a thick slab of butter or cream cheese.

Don’t forget the coffee.

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*Bagels require high gluten flour, or they do not come out nearly as well.  I easily found bread gluten at my local bulk grocery, but if you cannot find bread gluten, you could also use high-gluten flour.

*If you top your bagels with seeds, onions, garlic, or cheese, you will need to brush them first with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a little water).  If you want blueberries or chocolate chips, you can mix them straight into the dough!

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XO SaraLynn
*Song of the Day: It’s Real by Real Estate*

 

How to Make a Kombucha SCOBY

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I know that you probably have lots of questions right now.  SCOBYs aren’t the prettiest things, so you’re probs confused and wondering if you’re supposed to eat that thing (please, God, no), or if it’s some kind of facial mask or what.  I promise, all questions will be addressed, but just hang with me.  SCOBYs are not easy to photograph, and it’s extra hard to make them look appetizing enough to be featured on a food blog.

A SCOBY is an acronym for ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’, and it’s used to make kombucha.  Now what’s kombucha?  It’s a naturally carbonated, sweet-and-sour drink made by fermenting tea.  Like wine and coffee, kombucha takes a few times to get used to.  It contains a little bit of alcohol naturally, but it’s perfectly safe for kids to drink!  Mixed with fruits and juices, it’s very versatile and tons of flavor combos can be made.  If you’re a big soda-fan looking to cut the sugar-y chemical-laden drink out of your life, kombucha is for you.  Why?  It has tons of health benefits!

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Funny story:  Don’t use earl grey or decaffeinated tea to make kombucha!  I just grabbed the box without thinking (because it’s pretty), but I actually used a regular, caffeinated black tea to make my SCOBY.

Kombucha helps with gut and digestion health, detox, immune health, etc.  However, I personally like kombucha, because it helps with stomach problems.  My stomach is sensitive to all kinds of foods, and on certain days it can make me quite nauseous.  Friends with similar stomach problems recommended kombucha, and I really love how it makes me feel!  I don’t necessarily drink it every day, but every couple of days does the trick and really limits my ‘sick days’.

The only downside to kombucha is that the cost can add up if you’re consuming it in large amounts.  My solution was to learn how to make it, starting with the SCOBY!

The SCOBY is necessary, because it helps ferment the tea, which also adds health benefits.  You can buy SCOBYs online, but I’m incredibly impatient and don’t like waiting for things in the mail.  My next option was to learn how to make one.  (Bonus: buying the stuff to make a SCOBY is cheaper than buying a SCOBY online).  Once you make one SCOBY, a new SCOBY will be made with every kombucha batch.  You can start a farm of SCOBYs, or you can gift the new SCOBY to a kombucha-loving friend.

*Disclaimer: Some people recommend not making a SCOBY, but rather buying one, the main reason being that SCOBYs do not always grow if they’re homemade (has not been a problem for me at all).  However, I see no real risks in growing a SCOBY, and mine turned out successful!  Choose whatever option you’re comfortable with.

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Don’t use earl grey or decaffeinated tea!  Grabbing this box was a Sara-moment.  I used caffeinated, regular black tea.

Let’s get started!

First, you’ll start by making a sweet tea.  The best tea to use is regular black tea, because it helps the SCOBY grow.  Once you have your new SCOBY, you can try other teas for the next batch, but try to use black tea at first!  Kombucha works best with caffeinated, non-herbal teas.  Herbal teas can damage the SCOBY, so be cautious.  Alternatively, you can use 1 1/2 Tbs. loose-leaf, but make sure to strain the leaves out before making your SCOBY.

Next, you’ll mix together your (cooled) sweet tea with a cup of your organic, raw kombucha.  You’ll want unflavored kombucha so that your SCOBY grows.

Then, you’ll put the mixture in a large jar.  You’ll want to wrap the mouth of the jar with paper towels or coffee filters to keep out bugs.  Then secure the paper towels with a rubber band, and pop on the lid!

Place your SCOBY in a dark room with an average temperature (not too cold, not too hot).  Leave it there for about 4 weeks.  You’ll start to notice a little film forming over the top.  It’ll get thicker and thicker, it may change colors, get bubbles, etc.  Don’t worry.  As long as it doesn’t grow grey or green mold, it should be fine.

Once it’s all grown up, you can use it to make your own kombucha!  The remaining liquid is drink-able, but it will be very strong.  You can use some of the liquid to make your first batch of kombucha, but you’ll probably want to just discard the rest.

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Start looking for new kombucha recipes in the near future!  I’ve been coming up with all kinds of flavors (:

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*Song of the Day: Youth Knows No Pain by Lykke Li*

12 Days of Christmas

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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)!

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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!

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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 🙂

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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!

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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!

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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 ♥

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Soft Sugar Cookies with Sour Cream Frosting

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I know that you’re probably over cookies right now after the holidays.  You’re probably really over all of my cookie recipes.

And if you’re still doing well with your New Year’s resolution to work out and eat healthy, then you’re probably mad at me for rubbing these in your face.

I get it.  I’m over cookies/shouldn’t be looking at pictures of cookies too, but for some reason that’s not stopping me.

They’re actually a copycat Swig recipe from Vintage Revivals.  I’ve never actually been to Swig, which I’m sad about because they’re located in St. George which I used to pass by at least once a month when my family and I would go to our cabin.  But if I ever end up in St. George again, I’ll stop by and give you an update.  Mandi from Vintage Revivals claims that these are not only the best sugar cookies ever, but the best cookies ever in general.

And while I wouldn’t say they’re the best cookies I’ve ever had, I would agree that they’re pretty damn good.  Plus my friends were obsessed with them soooo…

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Anyways, sorry I haven’t posted in a week (or two or something).  I’ve had food poisoning for the past few days, which makes me both repulsively nauseous and ravenously hungry, which seems contradicting, because it is.

Anyways, today I actually made myself get out of bed (I’ve been on a Friends Netflix marathon for 3 days since I’ve been sick) and organize my closet, run some errands, and clean my house, which makes me feel a little better about the Friends marathon.

Now that I’ve told you all about my gross sickness, here’s a delicious recipe!

I’m the best.

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*Recipe slightly adapted from Vintage Revivals*

Cookie Ingredients:

1 c. butter, softened

3/4 c. vegetable oil

1 1/4 c. sugar + 1/4 c. extra for top

3/4 c. powdered sugar

2 Tbs. water

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. salt

5 1/2 c. flour

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 c. butter, softened

3/4 c. sour cream

1 1/2-2 c. powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Sprinkles (optional–I actually only used them for pictures)

Preheat oven to 350* F.

Cream together the butter, vegetable oil, sugars, water, eggs, and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients in increments.  Mix until well incorporated, but not overmixed.  Roll into larger balls–about 2 inches.

Spread remaining sugar onto a plate.  Using the bottom of a glass (I found the wine glass was best), press the bottom into the sugar, and use the bottom of the glass to flatten each cookie.  If the sugar won’t stick at first, slightly dampen the bottom of your glass by rubbing water on with your finger.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly brown.

Cool.

Meanwhile, for the frosting, cream the butter and sour cream until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla until it is a thick frosting.  Thin to desired consistency with milk.

Spread frosting on cooled cookies.  Add sprinkles, if desired.  Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

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According to Vintage Revival’s instructions, the cookies should be cold while the frosting is room temp in order to get the real Swig experience.  I wouldn’t know, but I’m sure it’s a good combo.  Since I didn’t have time to frost cold cookies as my guests were coming in, I left them in the fridge and let them come slightly to room temp.  I also added vanilla because I think every baked good should have vanilla in them.

XO Sara