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

Chicken Fajitas

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It’s happened, guys.  I finished my first summer class, and now my brain = alskbxlzkjcgqergldknblddzweksdjclxdssalskdj.

As in, I cannot find the motivation to do anything more than lay in bed watching Gossip Girl and drinking insane amounts of green tea.  For the whole entire week.  (Also, don’t judge the GG.  It’s officially my guilty pleasure).

It is also this resignation of my cranium that has put me in a dark, uncharacteristic succession of intense procrastination that I cannot seem to shake off no matter how acute my anxiety becomes.

Side effects of my procrastination have resulted in me putting off shopping and packing for London until yesterday afternoon (I leave tomorrow) as well as clicking multiple “Read More” links on posts concerning Zodiac signs and guitar tuning (I don’t play guitar).  (Yet).

Luckily, I was able to force myself into packing and getting my shit together yesterday/today, and I’m (almost) ready to leave for London tomorrow!  Yay!

My new goal is to motivate myself for the two more summer classes I start in London on Monday.

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If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a sort of Mexican food kick lately.  First it was Chinese food, and now it’s cilantro lime shredded chicken and burrito bowls.

As it turns out, I need to get as much Mexican food into my body as I can in the next day, because Europe has no authentic Mexican food.

There are many European people that have never even had real Mexican (or Tex-Mex for that matter).

It’s the sad truth, and I’m not quite sure what to do with my life except console myself with Indian food and conversations with cute British boys.

(Life is so hard, right?)

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Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

2 bell peppers, cut into thin strips

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2-1 tsp. onion powder (to taste)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. oregano

Tabasco, to taste

1 lime, juiced

 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken strips, peppers, and onions in a zipper plastic bag or plastic bowl with a lid.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour marinade over chicken, peppers, and onions.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.

When ready to cook, heat 2 Tbs. cooking oil in a large saute pan on medium heat.  Remove chicken, peppers, and onions, and add to saute pan.  Discard marinade.

Cook until chicken is cooked through and peppers and onions are soft, about 8 minutes.

Serve with tortillas, and other taco toppings.

Serves 4.

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I <3 u Mexican food.

I’ll see you in a month.

Make sure to check in for my London posts in the coming weeks!

And while I’m gone, make sure to indulge in some tacos and cheeseburgers for me.

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Song of the Day: Bear–The Antlers

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.

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

Chicken Saltimbocca

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I’m going to apologize now for keeping this recipe from you guys for approximately 2 months.

It’s really a crime and I’m so so so sorry.

The truth is that I thought I had blogged about it, and then looking into it realized that I never did.  The recipe is so good that I guess I just thought that I had already talked about it…?

Or something…?

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Anyways…..

This is an incredibly important recipe you should make very soon.  It’s the kind of recipe you make when you meet your boyfriend’s parents, or feel like listening to jazz music (I recommend Miles Davis, George Gershwin, and Ray Charles).  It also deserves a good Sauvignon Blanc if that’s your thing.

Just make this when you feel *fancy*.

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It has some of the best ingredients including prosciutto, mozzarella, lemons, and unreasonable amounts of butter.  Also it has some capers in it.  The other day, I was reading my Bon Appetit at my favorite coffee place (the usual) and they described capers as “tiny explosions of salty goodness”.  They’re totally right.

Bee Tee Dubbs, this is a very rustic meal that deserves to be served with an unpolished silver spoon fork thing spork.

Just kidding, I didn’t serve it with that.

But unpolished silver rocks (in my personal opinion).

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This recipe was inspired by the veal salimbocca at Buca di Beppo, and also the veal saltimbocca from Tomasso’s in San Francisco (which is one of the best restaurants in the world, in case you’re wondering).

So I basically just melded the two recipes together and played it by ear.  And it totally worked!

Which doesn’t always happen, so it’s super awesome when you totally nail a recipe on the first try!

Now it’s your turn….

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breasts, thinly sliced

1/2 c. flour

2 Tbs. dried sage

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c. dry white wine

1/2 c. chicken broth

2 cloves garlic

2 drops Tobasco

3/4 c. heavy cream

1 stick butter

1/2 lb. prosciutto

Fresh Mozzarella, sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. capers

Olive oil

Rigatoni, butter, and parmesan, to serve

Combine flour, sage, salt, and pepper on a plate.  Coat chicken breasts in flour and wrap in prosciutto.  Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and sear prosciutto wrapped chicken breasts in olive oil until crispy, but not cooked through.  Set aside.

In the same pan, saute the garlic until fragrant.  Add white wine, chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, Tobasco, heavy cream, butter, salt, and pepper.  Stir together.  Add prosciutto wrapped chicken back into the sauce.  Simmer until chicken chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

The last 4 minutes, place sliced Mozzarella on top of the chicken.  Cover with a lid to melt.  Sprinkle with capers right before serving.  Serve over buttered rigatoni with parmesan.

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If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m pretty stoked about this recipe.

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So much that I completely devoted a post to this recipe alone.  No crazy Sara-antics for you today.

But maybe I’ll have an interesting/somewhat-funny/embarrassing story for you next post.

Just depends how this week goes.

SerendipitybySaraSig

*Song of the Day: Rhapsody in Blue–George Gershwin

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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I’m sure at some point within my food blogging career, somebody will finally tell me to stop making Asian food.  Considering that probably about 50% of my recipes so far are Asian, it is bound to happen at some point.  But up until then I will keep on bombarding you with Asian recipes until you just cannot stand it for one more second and throw a fit banning me from using even a teaspoon of soy sauce or a pinch of Chinese 5 Spice.

But for now just bear with me, people.

I swear, I swear, I swear that these are soooo worth making.  These are super killer.

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Plus this recipe is easily adjustable, so you can make it for 20 people, 2 people, or even a lonely 1 if you’re flying solo.  It takes about 30 minutes, and everyone loves lettuce wraps, so they’ll think you’re the bomb dot com.

For this recipe, I kept it simple and just did some iceberg, carrots, cilantro and peanuts for garnish, along with some extra sauce.  However, if you’re in to bean sprouts, water chestnuts, scallions, whatevs…this is a great recipe for adding and subtracting.  The best part of lettuce wraps is how easy it is to pull random ingredients out of your fridge and throw stuff together.

Which is exactly how this recipe was birthed.

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Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breast, cubed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ginger, grated

1/4 c. Hoisin sauce

3 Tbs. reduced sodium soy sauce

1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1/8 tsp. Sriracha

1/2 tsp. onion powder (or 1/4 c. minced onion)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Iceberg or butter lettuce

Toppings: carrots, cilantro, peanuts, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, green onions, sesame seeds, rice, Sriracha, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, crunchy rice noodles, etc…..

In a skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil, or other cooking oil.  Add chicken and onion (if using).  Cook chicken until it is brown on all sides.  Add garlic and ginger, and saute for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, onion powder (if using), salt, and pepper.  Stir until chicken is cooked through.

Serve warm in lettuce cups with toppings of choice.

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Anyways, I don’t have much to talk about today (the lettuce wraps speak for themselves???).  This is my last day of spring break (boo), but I spent most of the week in Napa and San Francisco, so expect some great pics and restaurant recommendations coming up soon.  Also some pretty good stories.  Just know that the weekend included really great SF coffee roasteries, (multiple) amazing steaks, and some really high heels.  Also French themed stores.  Lots of French themed stores.

But for now, I’ll leave you this recipe while I watch Cinderella and prepare for work tomorrow.

Just keepin’ the party alive.

SerendipitybySaraSig

Song of the Day: Interference Fits–Perfect Pussy

Girl Scout Samoa Nanaimo Bars

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Hihihihihihihi.

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like nothing goes right?

And then you realize that literally everything you’re sad about is just a bunch of first-world problems, and nothing is actually wrong and you’re just being a princess about everything…?

Because I had that kind of day on Friday.

First, I woke up really early (at like, 6 a.m.  On my day only day off…) and could literally hear my next door neighbor’s TV.  Please note: I live in a house.  Not an apartment.  Not a condo.  A house.  And I could hear their TV.  Because only at 6 a.m. do I have superpower hearing.  After laying in bed staring at the wall for a few hours, I got up and *attempted* to do my hair and makeup, but no matter what I did, I looked like a hot mess.  After about 1 1/2 hours, I finally was able to make myself look how I do every single day.  It just took twice as long..  I finally decided that I would grab lunch and watch movies.  But then I dropped my lunch on the ground 1 bite in (and ate it anyways because at that point, I had no limits).  I also couldn’t find half of my Disney movies.  So to solve that problem, I had a meltdown.

I am almost 20 years old and I cried over not being able to find my Disney movies.

Eventually, I decided to go grab a coffee, talked to a cute barista, and ended up at an 80’s party wearing a Risky Business costume.

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Me attempting to accomplish Tom Cruise’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” dance in my costume. And failing…

The day ended up pretty great, and I realized that I just needed to take a deep breath, and understand that my problems were really not that bad.

Because they weren’t.

But they were kind of funny and now you can mock me a little.

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Plus, I had these sitting in my fridge, so how bad could my day really be?

Since I know most of you are probably thinking, “What’s a nanaimo bar”, here’s a brief history:

The Nanaimo bar was invented in none other than Nanaimo, Canada.  That’s about all I know.  The actual dessert is made up of 3 layers.  The first is a no-bake crust made with chocolate, nuts, coconut, and graham crumbs.  The second layer is traditionally a custard buttercream, and it’s topped with chocolate.

But since it’s Girl Scout Cookie season (because obviously that’s a season), I decided to make them using Somoa cookies.  Which already have chocolate, coconut, and a graham-like texture.

Plus caramel which is never a bad thing.

As previously stated, traditional nanaimo bars have a custard buttercream filling.  Which is really good, but really rich, and really sweet.  To make it a little less dense, I decided to make a swiss meringue buttercream filling.  And add caramel to enhance the Somoa theme.

Result = something you need to make now.

Note: Please don’t be scared.  3 layers sounds like a lot.  Swiss meringue buttercream sounds intimidating.  SO NOT.  These are very easy and don’t require that much time.  Be brave, bakers.

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Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:

1/2 c. unsalted butter

3 Tbs. sugar

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 c. Samoa cookie crumbs, crushed + 1/2 c. chopped roughly for garnish

1/2 c. almonds, chopped

1 c. sweetened coconut

Caramel SMB:

3 egg whites

1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

Pinch salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 c. caramel sauce, homemade or store bought

Top:

4 oz. baking chocolate

1 Tbs. butter

For the bottom layer, melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa on the stove over medium heat.  When it’s combined, mix 1/4 cup of the mixture into the egg to temper.  Add egg mixture back to the chocolate mixture and stir over the heat until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in Samoa crumbs, almonds, and coconut.  Press into a greased 8×8 or 8×11 baking pan.  Freeze for 20-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1-2 inches of water in a medium sized sauce pan on the stove until it starts to simmer.  In a heat-proof mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Place mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan and stir the mixture until a candy thermometer reads 140-150* F.  Remove from heat, and whip egg mixture until stiff peaks form and mixture is cooled.  Add butter, 1-2 Tbs. at a time until frosting forms.  If it appears curdled, keep beating until it forms, or add butter 1-2 Tbs. at a time until the texture is creamy and smooth.  Add vanilla extract, salt, and caramel sauce.  Pour mixture and spread evenly over the crust layer.  Refrigerate until buttercream is firm.

While the buttercream firms, heat the chocolate and butter over low heat until melted.  Spread chocolate evenly over firm buttercream layer.  Sprinkle chopped cookies over the top, and refrigerate until chocolate is hardened.  Cut into bars, or bite sized pieces.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 16 large bars or 64 bite sized pieces.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday.  I laid in bed until 11, went to my favorite coffee place, and watched Friends for hours.

What did you do?

SerendipitybySaraSig

*Song of the Day: Pedestrian at Best–Courtney Barnett

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