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

The Best Homemade Snickerdoodles

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I like the name snickerdoodle because it’s cute and funny, although it does not sound appetizing in the least.

But I think most people will agree that snickerdoodles are actually super appetizing.

I may or may not have already eaten like, 10 of them.

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These cookies are a family recipe, and they’re by far my brother’s favorite.  He asks me to make them whenever I bake, and they’re gone in just a few minutes.  And I normally do make them because they’re sooooo easy.

However, I will warn you that they have shortening in them.  I am totally against shortening in almost all cases, but not in a few family recipes (where shortening is used a lot).  The shortening makes these cookies chewy and gives them a great texture, so just go ahead and trust me on this, okay?

I wouldn’t give you guys any recipe that wasn’t amazing, I promise.

Cause you guys are da besss.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. shortening

2 eggs

2 3/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. sugar mixed with 1 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*.   Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  In a mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter and shortening until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Gradually mix in flour mixture.  Form into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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I really did make the dough for these in about 8 minutes.

Go make them you beautiful people.

XO Sara

Song of the Day: NYC Baby–Karen O

Orange Drop Cookies

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This is the first time I have left the kitchen all day.  Literally, I have been in the kitchen since I woke up this morning.

(Granted, I slept in til 10:30, but that is irrelevant).

Every single year my mom makes this whole big deal about how “we’re not doing any holiday baking this year!”

And then I say, “Hahaha okay, if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen baking cookies” (Because baking around the holidays is just a thing.  It’s the only time you can eat as much as you want and blame it on a holiday…?!?!)

We then proceed to make about 100 more baked goods, because once you start, you can’t stop.  Luckily, we have a good compilation of holiday recipes going on.

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These orange cookies are one of my family’s favorite recipes.  It’s my grandma’s recipe, and the family always gets excited when these are around.  We make them for all occasions, but I thought they’d be good for Christmas since oranges are a winter fruit (although I always associate them as summer-y?)

They pretty much taste just like cupcake tops with sticky, melty icing, which would normally be my worst nightmare, but when something is this good, exceptions can be made.

Thanks to Grandma for passing this recipe along.

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Ingredients:

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

1 c. shortening

2 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

1 scant tsp. baking soda, dissolved in buttermilk

1/2 tsp. salt

3 1/2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Grated rind of 1 orange

Juice of 1/2-1 orange (about 1/2 cup)

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350* F.  Cream the shortening and sugars until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Mix in buttermilk, orange rind, orange juice, and vanilla.  Add flour, salt, and baking powder until smooth.  Drop by the spoonful on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  They will seem too soft and will dent if you press them in, but they will be done and slightly browned on the bottom.  Frost with icing.

Icing:

3 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1 Tbs. butter, softened

3 Tbs. orange juice

1 Tbs. orange rind

1-2 Tbs. milk, or enough to desired consistency

Mix ingredients together with a mixer until desired consistency.  Frost slightly warm cookies with icing and let it harden before stacking and storing!

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To make them more Christmas-y you could even add dried cranberries!  That might be my project next year…

Keep an eye out for more holiday recipes in the next few days!

XO Sara

Song of the Day: This Girl’s in Love with You (cover)–She & Him

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 ❤

(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?

Black Bean and Corn Guacamole

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“Hey, Sara.  Why are you taking pictures of that guacamole?”

“Errrrrrr, uhhhhhm, weeeeelllllllll…..”

I feel like that just summed up my life in two sentences.

That was a quote from one of my roommates.  Sometimes it takes a while to openly admit that you’re a food blogger.  Not that I’m ashamed.  Just that it’s not something that just comes up all the time.

Until your roommate walks in, practically smacking you in the head with the front door while you “rap squat” with a camera pointing directly at a bowl of guac.  Don’t know what the “rap squat” is? Check this out here.  That should sum it up for you/give you a good laugh.

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Anyways, yeah, guac.  I’m pretty sure that I’m allergic to avocados considering I never feel all that great after eating them, but I don’t care.  Because they’re worth it.  Why are they so good?!

This guac has corn and black beans in it, like that really great salsa, except that it’s in guacamole!  Yes, please and thank you.

But Sara, doesn’t regular guacamole have tomatoes and onions in it?

Uhm, don’t you have something better to do?  Shouldn’t you be watching Netflix or something?  I recommend It’s Always Sunny. (No, Netflix is not compensating me for that comment.  But I am interested Netflix.  Need a cute little redheaded spokesgirl?  Sorry, was that conceited?).

But for real, the answer is yes.  But I hate raw onions and I forgot tomatoes at the store.  You may add them if you want.  I just did not have the necessary ingredients with me.  Sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 avocado

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 drops Tobasco, or to taste

1/4 c. corn (fresh, frozen, canned, your choice)

1/4 c. black beans (I used canned.  Make sure to drain and rinse!)

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Cut your avocado in half, around the pit.  Jam your knife into the pit and yank it out.  Just twist a little, it’ll come out.  Don’t cut your hand!  You can do this guys.

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Put the avocado in a good mashing bowl with your garlic, lime juice, onion powder, salt and pepper, and Tobasco.

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Smash it with a fork!

Screw the fork, this is taking to long.  Use a potato masher.

Oh yeah, I don’t have a potato masher.

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The fork works.

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Stir in black beans and corn!

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Serve with these!  They’re way healthier than regular corn chips and they’re way more delicious!

Again, not being compensated.  Again, interested.

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This should serve 4 regular, healthy sized portions.  But we all know you’re going to eat half of it like me.  Don’t be like me, kids.  Do yourself a favor.  Learn portion control.

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You know what, avocados are really good for you, eat however much you want.

And let me know how that goes.

Tips:

1. To find a good avocado, take the little stem off.  If it’s green, it’s ripe!  If it’s creamy white/tan, it’s not ripe.  If it’s dark brown or black, it’s bad!

2.  To keep guacamole from going brown and goopy, cover it with water.  Then just dump it out and stir whenever you want to eat it.  Kind of sounds gross, but it’s not (it’s just water) and it’s better than brown clumpy guac.  The reason it works is because food can’t oxidize in water!  Yeah, science bitch!  (Breaking Bad, anyone?)

XO Sara

Song of the Day: Honestly?–American Football

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

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I know that it’s June.  I know that it’s in the 90s and even reaches the 100s.  But I can’t get over soup.

However, it was 75 degrees in Reno all day today, which is totally acceptable soup weather if you ask me.

Especially if you’re making baked potato soup.  Baked potato soup is special.  Believe me.  I made it for a group of friends.  One claimed it was “the best she’s ever had”.  Now that’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one.

Ahem.

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On another note, do you fellow food bloggers ever notice random things in your photos?  Like a reflection of you taking a picture in the spoon?  Ha.

Before I give you this recipe, please note that I do not normally use “cream of anything” soups.  I really prefer to make most of my food from scratch, but sometimes it’s nice to have a semi-homemade meal.  If you also do not like using cream soups, just give it a chance, you’ll thank me 😉 (Also, this soup definitely should only be eaten on occasion, for the sake of your waistline!)

Ingredients:

1-30 oz. package frozen hashbrowns (the cubed kind)

28 oz. chicken broth (may want more for thinner soup)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cheddar cheese soup

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings: bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions

In a crockpot, combine hashbrowns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, cheddar cheese soup, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.  30 minutes before serving, add cream cheese and stir until melted.

Top bowls of soup with bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, and green onions, or whatever you feel like 🙂

Serves about 6-8.

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I personally like to add lots of bacon and cheese.  Weird right?  Also, I served these with pretzel rolls from my local bakery.  Ah-may-zing.

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As I mentioned earlier, this is not a soup for those on a diet.  But it’s so easy, and so good for a crowd that you should make it for family dinner or movie night sometime.  And then let me know how you like it (or love it?).

*Bonus:  If made with gluten free cream soups, this recipe is perfectly gluten free!  Remove the bacon and it’s vegetarian!*

XO Sara

Mascarpone Pudding Filled Strawberries

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This weekend I have a Moulin Rouge party I’m going to for my friend Molly’s 30th birthday so I’ve been spending the majority of my day baking a gluten free cake and a hundred cupcakes and making a bunch of sugar diamonds.

*deep breath*

But now I’m lounging in bed watching Friends and blogging.  Also, my left contact is super blurry but I’m going to ignore that for the time being.  And by that, I mean it’s staying in there until I take off my makeup and go to bed.

I’ve been up since 6 a.m.  I’m losing the power to care about little annoying things anymore.

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Completely shifting topics here, strawberries are in season right now which means I’m going through an obsession with them.  They’re just so sweet and red and beautiful in the late spring.  And they’re the perfect start to summer.

I’m sure you’ve seen those cream cheese filled strawberries before.  They’re pretty popular, and they’re super delicious.  This past weekend I considered making them, but right now I’m kind of over cream cheese frosting (since that’s pretty much what the filling is).  Cream cheese frosting to me is just completely overused, and I was looking for something a little lighter.

Enter mascarpone pudding filling.  Yeah, like in tiramisu (without all the coffee and chocolate and stuff, of course).  Also like in canolis.  Honestly, how amazing can this cheese be?

The store I shop at actually only has mascarpone creme which has the consistency of cream cheese and is super smooth.  If you can find this stuff, use it.  Trust me…just use it.

Ingredients:

1 lb. strawberries

3 egg yolks

1/3 c. sugar

Dash of salt

1/3 c. cream or whole milk

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pistachios and chocolate chips for garnish!

First make the pudding: This is where I goofed and forgot to take pictures.  Yep, sounds like my brain right?  Luckily, it’s super easy.  Just whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and milk in a medium sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat until it starts to boil.  Boil for a few minutes, or until it is thick like pudding.  Remove from heat, and bring to room temp.  Using a hand mixer, beat in the mascarpone and vanilla extract.  Refrigerate it until ready for use.

Now for strawberries!

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Begin by washing the strawberries.  Here’s a tip so their juices don’t start running: wash them by rubbing them with a wet paper towel.  It takes a little longer but it’s way better than runny strawberries!

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Now remove the stems and cut a little off the top!

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Cut each strawberry into quarters, BUT DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Otherwise they won’t make very good mascarpone pudding holders (;

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Arrange them nicely on a pretty plate.

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*Blurry picture alert*

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*Blurry picture alert again oh my* Fill the strawberries with the pudding.  I just cut a little tip off of a ziploc and filled it with pudding, but it would be pretty with a little tip too.  However, I kind of like my rustic looking filled strawberries.  (Rustic meaning slightly messy).

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Top them with pistachios or chocolate chips or both!  I personally loved the pistachios myself, but the chocolate chip ones were also popular at the BBQ I brought them to (:

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Overall, I would say these took anywhere from 40 minutes-1 hour.  Not too bad if you ask me!  (Plus, they were a HUGE hit).

Try them out and let me know how you like them!

XOXO Sara