Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel

Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Caramel Coconut Cream Pie

To know me and my dad is to know that we are utterly obsessed with coconut.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I planned a family BBQ and somehow got talked into making an entire coconut cream pie.  The conversation went something along the lines of –

Me: “So we’ll have tri-tip, carrot salad, and I’ll make a pie.  What else would be good with this?  Some asparagus?”

My mom: “Maybe potatoes gratin.”

My dad: “I think coconut cream pie would go great with all of those things…” Continue reading “Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel”

Croque Madame Galettes with Everything Crust

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It’s a rare Sunday when I’m actually human enough to have a proper brunch before noon.  Beyond the mandatory sleeping in portion of Sundays, I also have to lay in bed scrolling through my phone, drink a cup of coffee, and snuggle my dog on the floor for thirty minutes all before putting on my face and some real pants.  Luckily, I think Sundays always feel like morning until it starts to get dark and the anxiety of the next work day looms over me.  So, brunch usually happens anywhere between 12:30 and 3 in the afternoon which means I get to sleep in and skip all the Sunday-brunch crowds.  Win-win!

On the off chance that I have my shit together before noon on a Sunday and don’t think I can handle the weekend brunch crowds, I make breakfast at home and eat while cuddled up on the couch watching Friends for the hundredth time.  Usually, it’s just a bagel or cheesy eggs + lots lots lots of coffee.  However, every once in a while I will have my shit so together that I even have ingredients at home for a fancy brunch!  Those are few and far between, but they are sometimes totally real and make me feel like an actual grown up.

I think I would like to make it a new goal to get up at least one Sunday a month and have a fancy brunch.  Maybe I’ll even get into doing yoga on Sundays?!  Would that make me an overachiever?  It sounds a little meta….

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This past week(end), I had probably the worst cold of my life.  I felt like one of those wavy inflatable tubemen, but instead of being filled with air, I was actually filled with mud and also I was at the bottom of a swamp.  I practically drowned myself in cough medicine and Gatorade, and I ate whatever I wanted since I was feeling sorry for myself.  After watching approximately 200 episodes of The Office, I finally peeled myself off the couch and managed to get out of the house long enough to get some good coffee.  Also, I’m sending many blessings to past Sara, because when I opened my freezer, I had some of these mini galettes wrapped up!  (Ugh, past Sara can be a real MVP sometimes).  Since it was the first warm day we’ve had in ages, I swigged some Dayquil and enjoyed these galettes with plenty of fresh coffee at our local arboretum.

These galettes are super easy and a fun play on the French croque madame.  When I was in France this past summer, I was utterly obsessed with croque madames and ham and cheese baguettes.  Why is it that the French can make a ham and cheese sandwich so amazing and mine taste like they came out of a vending machine?  Anyways, I decided to take these ingredients and combine them with another one of my favorite French treats – the galette.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m totally obsessed with galettes, so it was about time that I made a savory version.

Oh, and I put everything bagel spice on the crust, because I pretty much want everything bagel spice on everything in my whole life.

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Croque Madame Galettes with Everything Crust
Makes 4 large servings or 8 small servings

Ingredients

2 – 9 in. pie crusts, store-bought or homemade
1/4 c. dijon mustard
8 oz. ham, thinly sliced
6 oz. swiss cheese, sliced or shredded
5 eggs
1/4 c. everything bagel spice*
Sliced chives, for topping

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Divide pie dough into 4 equal parts, and roll them out until they are about 6 inches in diameter.  Spread 1 Tbs. of dijon in the middle of each crust.  Place 2 oz. of ham and 2 slices of swiss (or 3 Tbs. shredded) in the middle of each crust.  Fold the crust edges over.  It doesn’t have to be perfect since they are supposed to be rustic!

Mix 1 of the eggs with about 1 Tbs. of water.  Brush each of the crusts with the egg wash, and sprinkle each galette with 1 Tbs. of everything bagel spice.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, and break 1 egg over the top of each galette.  Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until the white is set and the yolk is still fairly runny.

Sprinkle each galette with the chives and serve!

Notes

*To freeze, wrap each galette in tinfoil and store in an airtight container in the freezer.  To reheat, throw the wrapped galette in a 350* oven for about 30 minutes.
*I have a jar of everything bagel spice in my cabinet, but if you’re not one of those people, you can mix together 1 Tbs. poppy seeds, 1 Tbs. sesame seeds, 1 Tbs. dried garlic, and 1 Tbs. dried onion together.  Sometimes, I use a mix of black and white sesame seeds for fun!


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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Heart in a Cage by The Strokes

White Pizza with Sausage + Garlicky Kale + Lemon

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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)_/¯

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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
Serves 4

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.

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day* – Big Sis by SALES

Orange Liqueur Cupcakes + Marzipan Buttercream

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In high school, I went to a baking and pastry high school and to make a little extra money, I would sell homemade cupcakes.  Some of my bigger projects were for weddings and bridal showers, and I also did smaller events like 9 year old’s birthday parties.  I actually won third place next to a bunch of professional pastry chefs at a couple of competitions, which was my crowning achievement at the time.  I was famously known for my marshmallow buttercream that people used to call “crack frosting”.  Obviously I lived that rockstar life back in the glory days of my youth.

Honestly though, going to my high school taught me invaluable lessons about food and the melding of flavors.  It helped me land my first job in the industry that eventually led me to my coffee-career and love for food blogging.  In a way, it was kind of like a weird, food version of Glee, but I got to do cool things like meet Vic Vegas and work in a bunch of kitchens in the casinos on the Strip.  I think going to my high school gave me the confidence to actually start this food blog like, almost 6 years ago?!  And luckily, I’ve come a long way since my first post, because *wow* I did not know how blogs worked 😬  I still have memories of having a mental breakdown, because I couldn’t figure out how to make an “About Me” page.  I’m still not quite sure why I couldn’t just have a Tumblr page like every other 16 year old in the early 2010s.

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I haven’t been making cupcakes “professionally” for a while, but of course, I still love to bake, especially now that I’ve gotten more adventurous with my flavor profile.  So when a few weeks ago (well, before Christmas) Molly Yeh posted a recipe for marzipan buttercream, I diiiiiied.  Marzipan buttercream is everything I dream about.  Plus anytime I make anything with almonds, I immediately have the instinct to shove oranges in there somehow.  And (!) since I’m not still in high school, I added orange liqueur, because boozy cupcakes = the best cupcakes.

This recipe is adapted for high altitude, because as I’ve mentioned in the past, for some reason I have to use high-altitude recipes for cakes and nothing else ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I’ve been celebrating extra hard, because I *finally* figured out how to adapt my fave cupcake recipe to high-altitude almost five years after moving to Reno!!  If you need me, I will be celebrating with extra orange liqueur.


Orange Liqueur Cupcakes + Marzipan Buttercream
Makes about 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar*
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
1 tsp. orange zest
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. flavorless oil
3/4 c. whole milk**

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Preheat oven to 375* F***.

Beat the butter and sugar together until thoroughly mixed.  It will likely remain grainy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely.  Add the vanilla extract, orange liqueur, and orange zest.  Stir in the buttermilk and oil.

Mix in half of the flour mixture and half of the whole milk.  Repeat with the remaining flour mix and milk, stirring just until combined.

Using a scoop, fill cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way with batter.  Bake, checking for doneness at 15-18 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when an inserted toothpick has a few crumbs stuck to it.

Let cool and frost with Molly Yeh’s marzipan buttercream (1/2 recipe).  Top with sprinkles!!

*use 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder for sea-level
**use 2/3 c. whole milk for sea-level
***bake at 350* F for sea-level


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Misty Morning by Travis Bretzer

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Tater Tot Poutine

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!  Today, my Canadian friend, Stephen, comes into town to experience real American Thanksgiving, so to celebrate, here’s a classic Canadian recipe!  If you read about my Canada trip, you know that I spent one late, post-beer night at Smoke’s Poutinerie, which I’ve been told is the classic around those parts.  I ate “traditional” poutine, some drunk college kids told me I look like Bjork, and then we piled into an uber and I woke up with a gravy hangover the next day.

Tomorrow, I also plan on waking up with a gravy hangover although I’m hoping this gravy is topped over a mountain of mashed potatoes and cornbread stuffing.  Yesterday I went to the liquor store after work, which was absolute utter madness, but I got some fancy gin, and I’m ready to party.  I will be spending my weekend surrounded by 40+ people who share my DNA, and I have dubbed myself the official gin + tonic maker for the weekend.

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When I asked in my Toronto post if it would be sacrilege to use tater tots instead of french fries in poutine, Stephen came back with a resounding “YES”.  However, because I have no manners, and because deep frying foods in my own house is something I avoid like spiders and vacuuming, tater tots were the obvious choice.  Plus, tater tots ♥

While we’re on the matter, would if be totally inappropriate for me to top mashed potatoes with gravy and cheese curds?  Do you think Stephen would just totally leave the country and never come back???  Would mashed potatoes + gravy + cheese curds be delicious with gin + tonics?  Or is that the gravy-hangover remedy??  If you have answers for these questions, pls let me know ASAP.  There isn’t much time before I pick up the Canadian from the airport and the festivities begin.

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Tater Tot Poutine
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 lb. tater tots (I eyeballed 1/2 of a 2 lb. bag)
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. beef broth
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 c. cheese curds
Parsley, for garnish

Heat oven to 450* F.  Place the tater tots on a greased baking sheet making sure the tater tots don’t touch.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  You want them to be super crispy but not burned.

Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.  Whisk in beef broth, salt, pepper, onion powder, and thyme.  Stir until thickened.  Keep warm.

Drizzle gravy over tater tots.  Top with cheese curds, and broil it in the oven until the curds are slightly melted.  Top with parsley, if desired.

Serve immediately.  Extra gravy optional, beer required.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Cosmic Sass by Good Morning

Ginger Old Fashioned

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Hello, my name is Sara Lynn, and I am a young NYC man living in the year 1958 a 20-something woman who loves Old Fashioned cocktails.  But you can call me Don Draper.

Today, I will be sharing my favorite Old Fashioned recipe, because it’s my birthday, and I will be celebrating with Bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange peel all night long if I have my way.  However, I’ll try to sneak a lemon drop or Manhattan in, so I can feel like Carrie Bradshaw.  I may have an identity crisis at the end of the night, but so be it.  Tonight is for celebration and cake and drinks with my friends!

Last summer while I was in London, the beers and ciders became kind of mundane after my 200th IPA.  One night, a group of (other) Nevada students and I went to a bar down the road from our dorm where I asked the bartender if they could mix cocktails.  Ignoring the slightly dubious look in the recent high-school-grad-of-a-bartender’s eyes, I asked for an old fashioned, which he then responded with, “What’s in it?”.  It was then that I learned that old fashioneds are American cocktails, and that England is strictly for wine, beer, and cider.  Message received.

I had an old fashioned when I flew home to the states, and while London is my absolute favorite place in the world, I’d really love if they would learn the finesse of an old fashioned.  (Or, if I just ended up at the wrong spot, if a local could recommend a good place for some whiskey).  However, since the first time I tried an old fashioned, I’ve been obsessed and haven’t looked back.

My first old fashioned was made with Bulleit bourbon and served out of a Tigger coffee mug around Christmas time while it snowed outside.  That’s a true story.  I’ve come a long way since then, but I can’t say that scenario won’t reoccur.  I am in college after all, and sometimes Disney coffee mugs are the only vehicle for alcoholic beverages.  However, I still do not own whiskey mugs, so discount water glasses bought at Home Goods will have to do for now.  The classic old fashioned is made with sugar cubes, Angostura bitters, citrus peel, ice, and Bourbon.  However, with the warmer weather, I decided to twist it up with some grenadine and Ginger Ale to make it a little more summery.  I love slow-sipping drinks, and I definitely think this one is perfect for an outdoor BBQ.

If you are more of a traditionalist, you can make the recipe the classic way without the Ginger Ale, maraschino cherries, and grenadine.  Or, if you like a drier drink, you can sub Club Soda for Ginger Ale.  If you’re having a party, you can leave these ingredients out for people to make their own Old Fashioned cocktails while you cook or talk with your friends. Old Fashioneds are forgiving and appealing to most cocktail-drinkers, so I consider them the perfect party drink.

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As a bday present to me, please make this Old Fashioned tonight (or order one at your favorite bar 😉 )

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Dreaming by Seapony

 

Perfect 15-Minute Brownies

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The more I blog about food, the more I realize the virtue in simplicity.  When I first started blogging about food, I tried to be “out there” and “different” with my recipes, which sometimes worked in my favor and sometimes didn’t.  Over the years, I have come to realize that food is better when the natural flavors are vividly present.  Food photography is far more attractive when there’s not 20 props in the shot.  Seeing food in a more natural state is so much more appealing than when it’s edited to oblivion and covered with cutesy clip-art images.

That is not to say that I don’t like to try crazy recipes or eat foods with more complex flavors.  The best part about food is that it is so versatile and that options are limitless.  However, food is also better when it complements each other, not just when a bunch of delicious foods are thrown together.  I like pizza and ice cream, but does that mean I want pizza ice cream?  (The answer is no if you haven’t guessed already).

The whole point of ramble is that food is amazing and can definitely be an outlet for creativity; but that doesn’t mean that it has to be insanely complex.  Sometimes, I just want a regular brownie.  Not a cheesecake brownie.  Not an orange-and-thyme-infused brownie (not a real thing, but it could be).  Just a brownie.

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When you are in the mood for Just a Brownie, this is the go-to recipe.  Please don’t go to the store and buy a boxed mix, because odds are, you already have brownie ingredients in your home, and these are so much better.  They also only take 15 minutes to put together (I timed it).  After the batter is made, all you have to do is wash the 3 dishes the recipe requires and watch an episode of Seinfeld, and the brownies are already done!

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Your mission this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to make these brownies.  Brownies are the perfect Sunday project without a huge time commitment (did I already mention that they only take 15 minutes to mix together), and they come out tasting pretty much like fudge mixed with cake.  I’d highly recommend serving them with ice cream, but that’s just one girl’s opinion on the matter…

Also, I threw some walnuts and hazelnuts on top of mine, because I’m a professional, but you definitely don’t have to.

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XO SaraLynn

*Song of the Day: Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan

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*

Cinnamon Rolls

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[Update 1/12/16: I made these rolls last weekend for the first time since I posted this recipe.  I changed the recipe up a little bit for experimentation, and ended up liking the new recipe more.  I added more butter (yikes, I know), tried traditional scalded milk instead of buttermilk, and used a different icing.  The original recipe is in the body of the post, and the new recipe is on a recipe card at the bottom of the post.  The new rolls are more fluffy, but if you prefer the old recipe, it’s still there, no worries!  I also updated some new pictures, since my photography has gotten significantly better (but still left the old ones with instructions and whatnot).  Hope you guys love!  Xo.]

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Guys.

These are so good.

Have you ever had like, a really really really good cinnamon roll?  Not like a Cinnabon one, but a really delicious, homemade cinnamon roll?  It’s a special kind of experience everyone should get to have.

I’m happy to report that you may now make your own if you truly wish to experience the phenomenon of eating an out-of-this-world cinnamon roll.

I have truly done it.  I have created the perfect cinnamon rolls.

They take pretty much all day to make, but they’re super easy.  I promise, you can make these!  Just make sure you have new yeast and everything is going to be okay.  You can do anything.

Sara Lynn: motivator and cinnamon roll goddess.

Maybe that’s a little dramatic.  Maybe it’s not.  Maybe you should make these cinnamon rolls and let me know if you think that I’m a cinnamon roll goddess.

A disclaimer about the following pictures:

1. My nail color randomly changes from red to sparkly pink because I got my nails done while the dough was rising.  I highly recommend you find something time consuming to do while you wait because cinnamon rolls take a long time to rise and a long time to make in general (but still so worth it).

2. The pictures change from good quality to bad quality because, again, they take a while to make and I ran out of daylight.

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Shall we get started?

Cinnamon Rolls:

1/2 c. warm water

1 package instant yeast

1/2 c. + 1 Tbs. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 egg

1/3 c. melted butter

4 1/2 c. flour

Filling:

1/2 stick butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 1/2 Tbs. cinnamon

Pinch salt

Icing:

4 oz. cream cheese

2 Tbs. butter

1 1/2-2 c. powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like your icing!)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2-3 Tbs. milk, to thin

Pinch salt

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First, you’re going to want to mix together your warm water, yeast, and a tablespoon of sugar.  Set it aside to double in size!

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Mix 1/2 c. sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl.

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Nice and doubled!  Yay!

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Mix together buttermilk, egg, and butter.

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Add half of the flour mixture until it’s incorporated.

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Add the yeast mixture and stir together.

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It might not mix very well because it’s going to be very lumpy and thin like pancake batter.

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Mix in the rest of the flour and knead a few times with your hands.

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Knead until smooth and beautiful.

Set aside in a warm place covered with plastic wrap or a towel.  Let rise for 1-2 hours.

*insert random photo and nail color change*

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Once it has risen, punch the dough a few times.DSCN4128

Roll until about 1/8 inch thick.

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Brush with melted butter.

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Mix together cinnamon, sugars, and salt for your filling.

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And spread it all around!

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Roll it up.

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Brush it with more butter (sorry cholesterol).

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Cut into rolls that are about 2 inches wide.  You should have about 8 pretty ones.

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And a few not so pretty ones 🙁  Oops!

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Brush a parchment lined casserole dish with more butter.

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Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and sugar.

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Line the cinnamon rolls in the casserole dish.  Set them aside, covered, to rise for another hour or two.

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Look how pretty!!!  (That top left one is so sad.  Poor little guy.  Still delicious).

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Bake at 350* F for about 14-16 minutes, or until a light golden brown.

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Meanwhile, mix together the icing!  Whip butter and cream cheese together until incorporated.  Add sifted powdered sugar and vanilla.  Thin with milk.

(Uhm, is this not just the worst picture you’ve ever seen?  Did I even try?  Just trust me, it’s a delicious icing).

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Yay, they’re baked and beautiful!

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Spread frosting over warm cinnamon rolls.

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Hell yeah.

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Do you see that cinnamon filling?  Oh my gosh.  I might go grab one of my extras from the freezer right now.  They’re sooooo good.

Which reminds me, if you have too many because you made 11 cinnamon rolls and you live by yourself, just go ahead, wrap them in some plastic wrap individually and then place them in freezer bags.  They’ll stay good for a few months and you can indulge in cinnamon bun goodness whenever you want!

Go make these.  Right.  Now.

cinnamon roll recipe

cinnamon roll icing

* Notes*:  1. I use my mixer with dough hook, but these can also be made with a mixing bowl and wooden spoon!  I’ve done tries both methods and either works! 2. If your dough won’t rise, try heating oven to 250* F, turning oven off, and placing covered bowl of dough in warm oven (make sure bowl is oven proof!).  Leave alone for 2 hours.  3. If dough still won’t rise, your yeast is probably old.  Buy new yeast and start again.  4. Rolls can be made one night, and baked in the morning!  Just form the rolls and let them do their second rise in the fridge overnight (8-12 hours).  In the morning, remove from fridge, and let warm up for about an hour.  They will take longer to bake (upwards of about 30 or 40 minutes, so don’t worry if they don’t bake quickly!  Cover with foil halfway through if they start to brown too much.)

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*Song of the Day: Won’t You Come Over by Devendra Banhart