Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing

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I feel like I don’t have any good stories to share with you guys lately.  I just work and cook and do a little yoga.  Is this what post-grad life is??  I get a degree, and I become someone who looks forward to coming home on Fridays and eating takeout pupusas in my sweatpants while watching Arrested Development reruns?  Because that’s exactly what I did this past Friday, and it was kind of amazing.  Although Saturday I went to a party and had two whole beers sooooo…yay?  Raise the roof?  I don’t know how to be young anymore.  Help!!!

In other exciting news, we also got a new Indian restaurant in town, and it’s the best one yet!  And this weekend, I’ll be in Seattle hopefully going to lots of fun bars and coffeeshops.  So, things are looking up in the ‘cool department’!

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On another note, may I introduce you to one of my new favorite recipes?  I didn’t know it was possible to like veggies this much, but omg this carrot salad is sososo good!!  I don’t think we appreciate carrot salad enough in the states, because I’ve never seen one here unless I was at an authentic-European deli of some sort, but I’m starting a petition to make it a thing.

I made this salad for Easter, and it was perfect with ham and scalloped potatoes.  Then, I used the leftover dressing to make more carrot salad for work lunches the next few days.  I’m pretty sure I ate like, 8 servings of vegetables a day that week.  I hope this obsession lasts and eventually upgrades to a spinach obsession.

For this salad, you can peel the carrots into long, pretty ribbons like I did.  Texturally, it’s my favorite, but peeling carrot ribbons takes a long time, and you end up with weird little carrot pieces once you can’t peel anymore.  In this case, I just turn them into carrot sticks and snack on them alone.  When I was being lazy with it, I just used grated carrots which is way faster and can be done with a food processor.  Either way, the real star here is the shallot dressing.  It’s slightly-spicy and creamy from the yogurt.  I would dip anything into it.  If you don’t like carrots, at least make the dressing and put it on some kale or something.

Also!  This salad can be made a day in ahead, but put the pistachios on right before serving or they will lose their crunch.  Ok?  Ok!

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Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing
Serves 8-12

Ingredients for the Salad

2 lbs. carrots, washed, trimmed, and peeled
4 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 c. pistachios, toasted
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, chopped

Ingredients for Dressing

1 small shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
1/3 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots into long ribbons.  Alternatively, you can shred them in a food processor.  Cover carrots with a wet paper towel to keep fresh.

To make the dressing, add shallot, white wine vinegar, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and honey to a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Drizzle in olive oil until emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare salad, add the queso fresco, pistachios, and parsley.  Toss with the shallot dressing, to taste.  Start with half the dressing and add more as needed.  Serve immediately.  To make the recipe ahead, combine everything but the pistachios.  Add the pistachios right before serving.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Sleep Apnea by Beach Fossils

Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie

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PSA: Please be nice to college students, we are in the midst of midterms and life is a lot to deal with right now!!!!!!!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been a giant ball of college-related anxiety which has led me to staying up into the early hours of the morning working on business plans and marketing research studies while living off of scrambled eggs with toast.  I’ve also been fighting the early stages of a cold by popping obscene amounts of Vitamin C and drinking Immune Boosting Tea.  The cabin fever is getting to a Jack Nicholson-level that makes me dream of hiking and Tahoe beaches and weekend roadtrips to San Fran.

In times like these, I find the only cure is to take a couple of hours to indulge comfort food, a sleeve of Milanos, and a lighthearted tween movie, normally of the Disney variety, although that is not required.  My choice of the moment is Princess Diaries.  But I digress.  What I’m really here to talk about is the comfort food component.

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Today, we have chicken pot pie that has been deconstructed, because there’s less time between preparation and consumption, and also puff pastry is the jam.  I developed the recipe randomly one weekend with ingredients I had sitting around in my fridge, and I will never look back.  As far as I’m concerned, chicken pot pie is the best food to cure sadness, and also it’s the best way to say goodbye to the winter season.  While this is not necessarily a “traditional” pot pie, it has all of the components: chicken, veggies, thyme, crust, warmth, happiness, and you’re probably eating it snuggled up in a blanket while watching a movie.  I *highly suggest* making this one last time before BBQ season officially hits.

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chicken pot pie

On another note, if you know anyone interested in funding a coffee shop/bakery or a weekend vacation, or you have some secret knowledge that I’m a princess and therefore deserve to be in the far away land of Genovia wearing pretty ballgowns and living in a castle instead of studying my brains out in college, you know where to find me.

XO SaraLynn

*Song of the Day: Maps by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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

Thai Marinated Cucumbers and The World is a Beautiful Place (and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die)

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Does anybody (besides me) like the smell and idea of pickles but not actually like pickles themselves?

Because I’m finding that I have that kind of relationship with pickles.  I want to like pickles, I just have a hard time with them for some reason.

Probably cause I’m a weirdo.

Which is coincidentally what my roommate thinks I am after I took him to see The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (or to shorten it: The World is a Beautiful Place/TWIABP)

Oh, you don’t know who that is either?

I’m not surprised actually, but you should check them out.  I’m a little bit in love with them <3

(ily TWIABP)

Uhhhhhh…back to the pickle thing now?

I’m not huge on pickles, although I am trying, but I looooove Thai marinated cucumbers.  I don’t know how you couldn’t.  They’re kind of sweet and vinegar-y and go great with chicken satay with peanut sauce or homemade ramen just sayin’.  Also, they’re way healthier than pickles, so there’s that.

And you should try them about rightthisverysecond.

Okay?

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Ingredients:

1 cucumber

1/4 c. rice vinegar

2 Tbs. sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Red chili flakes, to taste

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Slice your cucumber.  I really like pickling cucumbers for these because they’re super crunchy, but I couldn’t find any at the store this time, so a regular one works just fine! (Also, this is like, half a cucumber because that’s just what happens sometimes).

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Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

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Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers.

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Mix together.  Let marinate for about 20 minutes (or longer if you like it really strong) and then pour out extra vinegar.

“Hey Sara, you need to go get your nails done now”–you guys.

“I know, I’ll try to do better in the future”–me.

(Thank for loving me anyways) (Even when I enter weird made up commentary mid directions).

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Put these on everything.

XO Sara

Song of the Day: Space Exploration to Solve Earthly Crises–TWIABP (fitting, yes?)

Also ft. Chris Zizzamia who does an awesome spoken word/poetry collab with the band which you will hear in this song!  Cool, right?

Balsamic Marinated Steak with Roasted Vegetables

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Midterms are over.  I actually think I can hear angels singing right now…

It’s nice having a life after major tests are over.

To celebrate Halloween (and Nevada Day!) and the end of midterms, some of my family and I went to Disneyland.  Which was super fun and amazing and Disneylandish.

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Me and my mom’s Halloween costumes in Disneyland!  Can you guess who I am?

Lately, my roommates and I have gotten into the bad habit where about once every week or two, we stay up too late drinking craft beer (or cranberry vodkas in my case) and doing ridiculous things.  Last night we ended up getting nerf guns at Wal Mart at midnight so we can ignore our priorities and hide behind corners to shoot each other with little styrofoam darts.

College, right?

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Luckily, I still do things that most college kids don’t do.  Like voting, caring about important issues, making nice meals…

I haven’t given up yet guys.

However, let me tell you now: It gets dark around Reno at about 5 starting in October, so the prep pictures are pretty dark, and this meal is not the prettiest.

However, it does look very comfy and winter-y and I promise you, it’s so good.  And it only takes about 30 minutes of actual work.  The rest is marinating/cooking time.  It’s worth it.  I swear.

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Serves 2

Marinade:

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1-2 tsp. Dijon, to taste

2 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper

Salt, to taste

Ingredients:

2 thinly cut sirloin steaks (or whatever steak you prefer)

1 zucchini, cut in larger chunks

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 red potatoes, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Garlic powder and Onion powder, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients.

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Add 4 Tablespoons to steaks.  I put my thin steaks in ziplocs with 2 Tbs. of marinade each, and let them marinate for 2 hours.  You can do overnight if you like, but definitely do at least a couple hours!

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Cut zucchini into larger chunks.  I cut them into four spheres and then cut those into fourths.  If that makes sense?

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Slice red bell pepper.  Remove seeds!

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Mix veggies in a bowl with remaining marinade.  Let marinate for a couple hours also.

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When you’re ready to prepare dinner, dice potatoes into thin chunks.

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Preheat oven to 400* F.  Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  *The reason I did not marinate the potatoes with the rest of the vegetables is because they did not get crispy when I marinated them.  You could try to mix them with marinade to make it easier.  Totally up to you!*

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Remove veggies from marinade and place on baking sheet.  Discard remaining marinade.  Bake veggies for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

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About 8 minutes before veggies are done, pan fry your steaks to desired doneness.  This is for thinly cut sirloin steaks.  If you use regular steaks, allow yourself more time to make steaks.  Alternatively, you can grill them.  Which I would have done if it wasn’t 45* outside.

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Serve steaks over roasted vegetables.  You can cut the steak into strips if you want pretty steak, or you can just leave it whole to make it easy.

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Balsamic + Steak + Roasted Vegetables = So good and so healthy.  I was a happy Sara.

Until next time, my friends.

XO Sara

*Song of the Day*: Low Light Assembly–The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

Beef, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Soup

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With fall making its slow appearance, all I can think about is soup at all times.  Even when it’s too warm for soup (a.k.a. right now, or even in the summer), soup is a (not so) guilty pleasure that I look forward to year round.  Right in the midst of midterms and projects, I’m always looking for easy, one-pot meals that can be simmered away while I study.  Enter beef, vegetable, and wild rice soup: a wholesome meal made in my dutch oven served with crusty, whole-grain bread and a simple, garlic-y side salad.  After a long day, nothing is better than cuddling up on the couch with this soup.  I promise.

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This soup can be changed based on whatever veggies/meat you have in your fridge.  Add onions, turnips, potatoes, replace chicken for the beef, use brown rice instead of wild rice, add some thyme, etc.  Just throw your veggies, meat, and rice into a pot.  Walk away for an hour or so.  Come back.  Bask in the glory of fresh veggies + earthy rice + seasoned beef.  Dinner plans finalized.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 lb. stew meat, cubed

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 qt. low-sodium beef broth

1/2 c. red wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Few drops Tabasco

1 beef bouillon cube

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 c. wild rice

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 zucchini, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Brown the beef for a few minutes.  Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until it starts to sweat.  Add garlic and wild rice.  Slowly stir in beef broth, red wine, marjoram, parsley, Tabasco, bouillon cube, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables and wild rice are tender.  Lastly, add frozen peas, and zucchini.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

*Notes*

You can use full sodium beef broth and exclude the bouillon cube if you prefer.  I just like being able to control how much salt goes into the soup, and I found this yields the best results.

Zucchini and peas are added last so that they do not get too soggy,

*To make in a crockpot*: I have actually never done this, but I do not think it would be too hard.  Just ad all of the ingredients excluding the rice, peas, and zucchini.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Add rice, peas, and zucchini 30 minutes-1 hour before serving.

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XO Sara

*Song of the Day: Trailer Trash–Modest Mouse*