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 ūüôĀ  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

Espresso Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Whipped Cream

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You can ask anyone in my family about my hot chocolate preferences, and they will tell you that I am a hot chocolate snob.  No really, that’s a thing, and I am part of the demographic.  When I was really little, my dad would make me hot chocolate every night with Ovaltine.  If it was too hot outside, he would make me chocolate milk.  I called it “brown milk” and I specifically remember asking for it while my parents read me my books.  So naturally, the first time I had the packet-mixed-with-water type of hot chocolate, I was sorely underwhelmed.  As a kid, I hated it, and I hate it now.  I don’t even want flavored hot chocolates-peppermint, orange zest, and cayenne pepper have no right.  I’ll just take my regular hot chocolate made with milk and Ovaltine or some type of pretentious homemade chocolate syrup, thank you very much.

Until now….Because in case we haven’t yet discussed my obsession with coffee or how I want to own my own cafe someday (we have), I have quite the love affair with all things coffee.  And like my hot chocolate, I don’t want extra added flavors-I want pure, good quality, black coffee, maybe with a little cream and sugar when I have a craving.

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I was fairly skeptical at the idea of mixing together my beloved espresso with hot chocolate.  While I do appreciate a good mocha every once in a while, it’s not usually my cup of tea coffee, and I wasn’t really looking to make a mocha here.  What I really wanted was a creamy hot chocolate with intense cocoa flavor.  Borrowing the idea that sometimes coffee is added to chocolate cake recipes to enhance the cocoa flavor, I decided adding a little espresso to my hot chocolate might to do the same thing.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.  I will reiterate that this is not a mocha.  The espresso is definitely noticeable, but its main function is to complement the cocoa flavor.  I added some vanilla whipped cream to the top, which melts with the heat, and creates this cool layer on top that mixes in with the hot chocolate, and overall, it was probably my favorite part.  Honestly, I was worried that with only five ingredients, it would be bland, but it was anything but.

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hot chocolate recipe

Merry Christmas Eve to you and your family!  Make this hot chocolate when you’re opening presents or having dessert tonight, or even for breakfast tomorrow.  It’s the perfect mix of your favorite childhood drink and your favorite (morning) adult drink, so it will be sure to make everyone happy!

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*Song of the Day: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra

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*

Cheesecake Crumb Bars

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After some things didn’t go *quite* according to plan today, I ended up taking on the 7 hour drive to my hometown all by myself.  This made an abundance of room for Sara Lynn time, which included motivating self-talks, judging everyone’s driving besides my own, and running through Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not three times.  Recipes were developed, life plans were made, and I’m pretty sure I had at least four revelations.

All in all, it was a pretty spiritual day.  And now, I have a cheesecake crumb bar recipe.  Sometimes, things just work out.

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While I won’t say that cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, I also never pass it up when offered.  Realistically, I had big plans of making a huge cheesecake before reminding myself that 1. I didn’t have the ingredients to make a whole cheesecake and I was already wearing pajamas, which meant that there was no way in hell I was going to the grocery store, and 2. No one should ever make a whole cheesecake when they live alone.  But cheesecake bars?  Portable.  Sliceable.  Freezable.  Slightly more social acceptable to have hanging around the house.

These ended up being a mix between cheesecake, shortbread cookies, and crumb cake.  They’re everything you want from each of those desserts, but I think next time I’ll cut the dough in half and double the filling.  If you like more of the “cheese” part of cheesecake, I would recommend following that method.  If you prefer shortbread, stick with the original.

Customize with pumpkin, raspberry, lemon, caramel, chocolate, etc.  If it fits in a cheesecake, it fits in these bars.  I opted for simplicity and added a little vanilla.  Okay a lot.  Whatever.

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Song of the Day: Fake Tales of San Francisco–Arctic Monkeys

Mediterranean Chicken Skewers

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Happy back to school for most college students/students in general!

And if you’re one of the lucky bastards that doesn’t start classes again until September…you can just keep quiet in the back there.

Just kidding (mostly), but I am super jealous and I hope you’re having a wonderful summer break.

Anyways, I started school on Monday so RIP to my brain.  In just a few short weeks, I won’t be able to talk about anything but balance sheets and the 4 P’s.  But until then, let’s just enjoy the semi-normal Sara Lynn that loves to cook and dress up and talk about music and is successful in getting a post up on her blog on an almost-weekly basis, yeah?

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Since I am back in school now, it means I can’t use the “…but I’m on summer break” excuse anymore.  That’s when I eat whatever I want/don’t work out/avoid paying off my credit card for one more day/don’t bother getting the mail for 2 months/avoid all adult responsibilities/etc. because I’m on summer break and I want to hike or lay in bed and watch How I Met Your Mother.  It’s not something I’m proud of, but I really only get to be a lazy college kid for a couple more years, so let’s just not worry about it.

Anyways, now that I’m waking up for class every morning, it also means that I’m eating chicken, brown rice, and veggies and working out 3-4 times a week.

If you have similar eating habits, you probably know how boring chicken and brown rice and veggies really are.  And that’s why food blogs exist.  To break the mundane and try out new recipes and gain the trust of our readers so that, they too, can have more exciting eating experiences.

I promise that this chicken is really delicious and tastes like lemon and rosemary–and is not boring at all.  I had it with a Greek salad only, but I think next time I’ll make lemon-sage rice because that would make it even better.

I’ll leave you with the recipe and hope you’re happy knowing you can eat healthy and have really, really amazing food.

It’s a wonderful feeling.

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breast, cubed

1/4 c. olive oil

2 Tbs. white wine vinegar*

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bamboo or metal skewers**

*Red wine vinegar would also be good, and have more of a Mediterranean flavor.  I just ran out and used what I had in the cupboard!

** If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water so that they do not burst into flames while grilling.

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the chicken.  Place cubed chicken in a plastic Ziploc bag, and pour marinade over the chicken being sure it is completely covered.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the grill to a medium high heat.

Remove chicken from marinade and discard leftover marinade.  Thread the chicken onto the skewers.

Spray the grill with a cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Place skewers on the grill and cook, turning every few minutes, for about 15 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Serves 4.

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In non-chicken related news, I have started an Instagram page for all of my posts!  Just follow serendipitybysaralynn, like my posts, tag me if you make my recipes, etc.!  I love reading your comments and talking to my readers, so please share with your friends so I can talk to even more people!

(See.  I did at least one productive thing during my summer!  Go Instagram!)

Have a wonderful fall semester, college students.

Have a wonderful fall, everybody else.

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*Song of the Day: Coffee and Pie, oh my! by Brightside*

*A new band I’ve been really into lately!  Not all of their music is on Spotify, so check out their bandcamp: https://brightsidepgh.bandcamp.com/

Healthy Granola Bars

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Aside from crying at IAMS dog commercials and avoiding all conversations involving politics or football, my most common past time of late has included attempting to make the best chocolate chip cookies e v e r.

I know this is a hefty task. ¬†Everybody has their favorite version of the best chocolate chip cookie, and somebody else’s favorite may not match mine. ¬†But if I’m going to own a bakery and coffee shop in the future, I just have to have the best chocolate chip cookies ever. ¬†It’s become an obsession of sorts.

I’m not going to lie, my favorite chocolate chip cookie has always been the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. ¬†They have magic within them. ¬†I don’t even know what they’re doing over at Tollhouse, but I want in on it. ¬†It’s the recipe I grew up with, so I will always love them. ¬†But what if I can make Nestle’s recipe¬†even better?

Yeah, that’s what I’m going for.

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Unfortunately, my cookie labs are¬†only done on the weekends when I feel like my friends can stand trying another batch of chocolate chip cookies (about once or twice a month). ¬†This is also because 1. I don’t have time to bake cookies constantly and 2. Even if I did, I’m sure humans actually cannot function long term on a complete cookie diet. ¬†It’s a sad, but true, fact.

Therefore, I preoccupy myself with other kinds of projects.

Enter healthy granola bars.

I really love granola bars as a quick snack or breakfast. ¬†Sometimes I spend entirely too much time looking at myself sullenly in the mirror because I don’t want to put on makeup and I haven’t had breakfast or coffee yet. ¬†That’s a granola bar in the car morning. ¬†They happen more than one would expect.

Unfortunately, the nutrition facts on the back of granola bars terrify me. ¬†Oh my god. ¬†The mere amount of added sugars alone. ¬†And I don’t want to get into sodium, fat, and chemical additives.

It makes me realize why American food is banned in multiple countries around the world.

Additionally, I cannot justify spending $10 on a box of somewhat “healthy” granola bars that mostly taste like cardboard. ¬†Why is it so hard to get some quick, healthy food for a reasonable price?! ¬†Am I really asking for too much?!

Luckily for us all, healthy granola bars are super easy to make at home! ¬†They’re also way cheaper and freeze-able, and don’t have a bunch of sugars and icky gunk in them!!!

People who care about their bodies, rejoice!

Ingredients:

2 c. quick oats

1 c. raw almonds

1 c. dried cranberries

1/4 c. pumpkin seeds

1/4 c. sunflower seeds

2 Tbs. flax seeds

1/3 c. almond butter or peanut butter

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. agave

1/4 c. coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch salt

*Optional step*: Toast oats, nuts, and seeds in an oven at 350* until you can smell nuts and everything is a nice golden brown. ¬†I left out this step, but you can totally do this if you want less of a “raw” taste.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond butter, honey, agave, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt until smooth.  Add oats, almonds, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.  Stir mixture until combined thoroughly.

Press mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. ¬†Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the granola bars are golden brown on the edges. ¬†Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Cut into bars.  You can do larger or thinner bars depending on your preference.

*You can do any mixture of nuts and seeds, dried fruits, etc.  You can also do more agave, less honey, etc.  Everything in this recipe is super easy to replace and adjust.  You can make these however you want!*

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Also, I’m just going to throw out there that a small amount of mini chocolate chips would be good in place of cranberries.

Chocolate chip cookie granola bars?!

I’m going to go ahead and stop now.

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Song of the Day: Let Her Go–Mac DeMarco

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad

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While in London, I ate french fries and gelato every single day.  I also indulged in a pint (or two) of craft beer.  Every single day.  For a month straight.  In short, my destructive, unhealthy diet was a sober vegan’s worst goddamn nightmare.

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was prepping myself for an intense detox consisting of straight juiced kale and other horrible concoctions nutrition bloggers insist are good for the body and the soul.

While I didn’t *exactly* end up subjecting myself to some kind of horrible, liquid diet (I mean, last weekend was my birthday, so of course I was going to eat steak and cake!), I was able to come up with some yummy, clean recipes.

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One recipe from the mix is this roasted vegetable orzo salad.  It’s light and summery which made me extra excited to eat it for lunch all week.

Although I’m longing for sweater weather season with soup-based dinners and a nice mug of warm tea before bed every night, I’m still trying to push as much summer recipes into my life as I can before it’s too late!

This recipe is especially great served over spinach with a little extra dressing and a grilled chicken breast.

On a side note: My heartburn has gone away since I started incorporating more veggies and less french fries into my life.  Weird right?!

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad:

1 1/2 c. orzo pasta (whole wheat if you can find it)

2 zucchinis, cubed

2 yellow squashes, cubed

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

1 can chick peas, drained

1/2 c. walnuts, toasted

Crumbled feta, for topping (optional)

Dressing:

1/4 c. olive oil

2-3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

Onion powder, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch of sugar, agave, or honey

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Toss zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers in olive oil and a few pinches of salt.  Spread onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and let cool to room temperature.

While pasta is boiling, whisk dressing ingredients together until incorporated.

To make the salad, mix cooled roasted veggies with the orzo, chickpeas, and walnuts.  Pour dressing over the top and mix to coat the orzo.  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Serve with crumbled feta over the top.

Makes 4 entree servings or 8 side servings.

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Although I miss the nights of drinking pale ale at the Craft Beer Company in London, eating deep fried foods, and laughing with my friends, I’m also happy to be on a normal eating schedule again!

It’s also nice to not have to take an antacid before bed every single night.

Can’t say I wouldn’t do it all again!

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Song of the Day: Smother–Daughter

Cabbage Crunch Salad

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Reno weather has finally gotten much more sunny and much less rainy.  I don’t really quite understand what’s happening but the rain was non-stop for like, 2 weeks.

At this point, I’m not sure why I’m even surprised with crazy Reno weather.  One time a few months ago I walked into the grocery store in 80 degree, completely sunny weather and walked outside to a blizzard.

It may not have been quite that dramatic, but it was pretty close.  Anyways, that’s typical Reno weather.  Welcome to Northern Nevada!

Although I have loved the constant rain, cool weather, and cloudy skies, I’m also really excited for it to clear up so that I can go to Tahoe and lay on the beach next weekend!  I’ve heard it’s going to be in the 70s and sunny.  Being an OG Vegas girl (where you barely wear clothes from mid-May to mid-August), I’m going to need to wear a swimsuit very soon.  Although I definitely consider myself a Renonian at this point in my life, I can’t completely get away from that part of my upbringing.

Anyways, to celebrate the warmer weather, my friend invited me to go to a BBQ that her friends are hosting.  To feel like I contributed in some sort (and since I feel the incessant need to please people), I decided to make one of my family’s favorite recipes.

To be honest, I’m not really sure where this recipe came from, but I know my grandma has been making it for forever.  We make it quite frequently in the summer, which is why it’s definitely my BBQ staple item.

The recipe itself seems a little odd.  It is.  I may have even used the adjective “ghetto” to describe it before.

But it’s soooo good, and you definitely need to make for your Memorial Day BBQ.

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Ingredients:

Salad:

1 head green cabbage, shredded

4 green onions, chopped

1 c. slivered almonds

4 Tbs. sesame seeds

2 packages chicken flavored Top Ramen

Dressing:

1 c. vegetable oil

6 Tbs. sugar

4 Tbs. cider or red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 package Top Ramen seasoning

Heat oven to 350* F.  Spread almonds and sesame seeds evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until nuts and seeds are evenly toasted.  Cool.

Combine shredded cabbage, green onions, almonds, and sesame seeds in a large salad bowl.  Set aside.

Combine dressing ingredients until smooth.  Toss dressing with salad, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to marinate cabbage.

Right before serving, crush Ramen noodles and toss with salad.  Serves about 20.

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Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  Thank you to our amazing troops, past and present, who have fought for our freedom.

We are so, so grateful.

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Song of the Day: For Emma by Bon Iver

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls

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Remember when I promised you guys this recipe when I posted  cilantro lime shredded chicken a couple weeks ago?

Well…here it is.

I did it.

*claps for you Sara*

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This recipe is essentially a play on the burrito bowls from Qdoba, Chipotle, etc. etc.  I’m normally a big fan of these places because I can get a decent fast-food meal without actually eating fast food.

 Not that I don’t ever eat fast food, because I think we’re all guilty of doing that sometimes, but if I want to still feel good about myself at the end of the meal, I choose Qdoba (mostly because it’s on the way home).

Although, I’m still a little bitter that there are NO Cafe Rios in Reno.  Whywhywhywhywhy??

I literally crave their pork barbacoa.

I’ve had dreams about it before.

Yeah.  Really.

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However, I still really love Qdoba and Chipotle.

One of my favorite nights from last semester actually happened in Qdoba.  My friends and I randomly ended up there one night (probably way too late in the first place).  Luckily for us Reno college kids, there’s a late night Qdoba stop approximately five minutes away from campus, so it’s always a no-brainer on where to go if nothing else is open or will let you in.

Anyways, we essentially ended up at Qdoba until 1 a.m. eating chips and salsa and laughing manically over each others’ weird family stories.

For the sake of privacy, I will not get too far into these family stories, but just know nothing is more fun than watching your friend practically choke on a burrito because she’s laughing so hard at a horrifying incident somebody experienced at Disneyland.

Trust me.

Ingredients

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Rice

1 1/2 c. brown rice

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 c. water

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Onion powder, to taste

1 chicken bouillon cube

Corn Avocado Salsa

1 c. corn

1/2 avocado, cubed

1/2 jalapeno, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Lime juice, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings

Beans, cheese, salsa, tortilla strips, cilantro, lettuce, etc. etc.

For the rice:  Heat about a tablespoon of cooking oil over medium heat.  Add brown rice and coat in oil.  Stir constantly until rice is browned (but not burnt!).  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add water, lime zest, lime juice, onion powder, and chicken bouillon cube.  Cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until water is absorbed.  Add cilantro and more lime juice right before serving.

For the salsa: Heat oven to 350* F.  Spread corn evenly on a greased baking sheet.  Drizzle corn with a little olive oil and salt.  Toss to coat.  Roast for about 10 minutes, or until corn is slightly browned.  Let corn cool for about 10 minutes.

Mix corn, avocado, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Adjust seasonings as needed.

To assemble: Place a couple scoops of rice in a bowl.  Top with chicken, salsa, and other chosen toppings.  Serves 4.

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These could be made with beef, pork, seafood, etc.  To change it up, you could add a bunch of salad ingredients and make it a burrito bowl salad.  (Also, if you don’t want to roast the corn, you can make the salsa with plain corn).

I won’t tell.

Signature

Song of the Day: Forced to Love–Broken Social Scene