Beef Sliders with White Cheddar + Bacon + Peach-Bourbon BBQ Sauce

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Well guys, I’m graduated!!!  A couple weeks ago, I crossed the stage, didn’t even trip in my tallest heels, and I’ll be mailed my actual diploma in a few weeks time!  It was great.  The tradition at UNR is to go to the famous college bar, The Little Waldorf, before graduation and drink mimosas and maybe relive your most wonderful/awful times as a college student?  Idk, because I had never even been to The Wal until that day, but I was able to get past the sticky, beer-soaked floors that I’m sure have never been mopped, and my friends and I drank cheap champagne on empty stomachs and it was perfect.  After graduation, I stuffed my face with Thai food at our favorite local joint, and then after I attempted a nap, we had a huge graduation BBQ with my friends and family.  My parents ended up playing rage cage with all of us young kids, and also it was my first time playing!  Of course I had all of my college experiences the day I graduated.  But it was a super amazing time, everyone drank and had fun, and I got to sleep the whole next day with a less-than-fun hangover (shoutout to Gatorade for getting me through that one).

I’m off to Europe in less than two weeks (!!!), so I’m trying to enjoy some of my favorite Reno summertime activities before I leave.  Namely, Lake Tahoe, fun outdoor bars, and sitting at patios at cute local restaurants.  Also, I spent the last weekend in San Francisco drinking lots of coffee and cocktails with my cousin.  We even found a bar that had a “bondage” theme, and I was impressed.  Oh SF, I ❤ u.

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Since I’m leaving so so soon, I’m trying to get all of my cooking in while I can.  Although I’m soooo excited to eat at wonderful European restaurants for 4 months, I also will miss the luxury of a kitchen, even though I’m sure my airbnb hosts will be accommodating if I really get the itch.  Namely, I’ve been taking advantage of my BBQ, because we just got a brand new sparkly one, and in the summertime, I’m pretty sure the only acceptable food is any that is BBQed.  The other day I was craving burgers like no other thing in the world, but I wanted something a little more creative than my standard beef-cheddar-veg-bun combo I normally go for.  I really love smashed burgers, but since it’s summer I have a difficult time cooking indoors when my brand new sparkly grill is in eyesight from my kitchen window.  Also, I really wanted something with BBQ sauce but not ribs or pulled pork, so I just combined everything into one package and then added bacon for good measure.

It’s a little more work to make the homemade BBQ sauce, but it’s honestly a super easy recipe and totally worth the effort.  However, if you really can’t be bothered, you can always buy some store-bought sauce, but you’ll probably miss out on peaches and bourbon which is not the kind of world I want to live in.

P.S. the BBQ sauce will make quite a bit, and you definitely won’t need all of it for the recipe.  You can either put it in jars and seal it (if that’s your thing) or you can use it for another recipe, but I’d use it within a week (or two if you’re willing to risk it, which I am).  This sauce would be perfect on pulled pork, ribs, or chicken.

Also, I served my burgers with wedge salad, but some oven fries would be amazing too.

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XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Warned You by Good Morning

Change is in the Air…

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Back in 2013, I started this blog as a senior in high school partly out of pure boredom, but apparently also because I was not a very cool teen.  I mean, let’s be real, having a food blog as a 17 year old does not scream “hip”.  Luckily for me, I totally dgaf-ed, because here I am four (almost five!) years later!  I’m not going to link to my first post, because it’s embarrassing as all hell, but feel free to go looking for it; you might get a kick out of how teen-Sara talked, and also I had a totally cool signature line at the time, wow!

Anyways, I guess I’m just feeling a little nostalgic, because again, here I am four years later, and I’m graduating mother-f-ing college on Friday!  I honestly can’t even believe four years has already passed.  Plus, on top of graduating, I am also leaving to travel Europe for 4 months, aaaaand I have a really big project I’m working on that I’m hoping to share with everyone soon!  I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but I’m so happy and excited for the future!  Get super excited, because SSL is going to Europe, and I will be posting mad pics on the blog and Insta!

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For my senior pics, I wanted to stick with a “winter, spring, summer, fall” theme, because idk I guess it’s symbolic, but also I love living in a place with such distinct seasons.  For these photos, I went back to the hiking trail near Nevada City I told you guys about a few weeks ago.  Before we took pictures, we hung out in the city, eating lunch at South Pine Cafe, which is the cutest little restaurant that serves super fresh, healthy food, and I’m in loooove.  I’d be totally fine if they expanded to Reno.  Also!  We hit up The Curly Wolf which my brother calls the “Harry Potter” coffee shop because of its dark, semi-gothic style.  I’d 10/10 recommend taking a day trip to Nevada City if you live near the area, because it’s just so cute, and of course the Independence Trail hike is amazing!

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Thanks for sticking with me all these years.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for SSL and life ahead!

xoxo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Kinder Blumen by Real Estate

Cherry Coconut Macaroons

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Every once in a while, I actually get my life together enough to provide a seasonal recipe before the season actually ends.  Most of time, I end up making the recipe, taking about half the pictures, running out of time to finish taking the rest of the pictures, and decide I will keep them around until the next year when I can post that recipe.  And by the time the season rolls around again, I a. forget about it completely, b. have decided the recipe needs to be improved, or c. hate the pictures I’ve taken from the year before.

And the cycle continues.

But!  This year, I was actually responsible and got it all done, and now we have a springtime cookie recipe!  Eeee!  Also, not even kidding, I was able to get a couple of branches of the springtime cherry trees flowering a mere two. days. before they turned into dark purple leaves.  It was meant to be.

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These cherry macaroons were loosely inspired by smitten kitchen’s raspberry macaroons, which are 10/10, but I was looking for something a little different that had more of a “spring” vibe.  I always think of cherries when spring rolls around, because the cherry trees bloom like crazy around Reno once it hits March.  We also have these absolutely gorgeous trees that bloom little white flowers (as seen in a post from last year), and I absolutely loooove them, except I just learnt a dirty little nickname for them (prompted by a certain smell they give off) that I will keep off my family-friendly PG-13 blog, but let’s just say it rhymes with sum-trees *insert blushing-face emoji*.  If you really need more information, there’s a very entertaining article about it here.

The more you know.  I guess that’s what they mean when they say “Spring is in the air!”.  Thanks internet!

But anyways, is this really a topic we should be discussing in the presence of innocent, delicate, spring-time cookies that summon images of blossoms, bunnies, and little chickies popping out of eggs?  No.  But it is me after all, and this is just the kind of thing we can expect on SSL.

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One of my favorite aspects of these macaroons is that they are not quite as crackly as most macaroons I have tried in the past.  Luckily for us, Cooks Illustrated solved all of our coconuty-problems with one simple solution: just puree the coconut in a food processor!  Yay!  Also, I loooove that I don’t have to whip egg whites for 20 minutes, which is traditional in most macaroon recipes.  so. much. easier!

Lastly, while I think this is the perfect recipe for Easter-fun, I also just discovered that this is a kosher-approved cookie for my friendies celebrating Passover!  Macaroons for all!

Oh wait, P.S. I highly recommend drizzling some of these with chocolate and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios.  I used semi-sweet, but white chocolate or milk chocolate would work too!

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: The Next Time Around by Little Joy

Fringe of Nevada City

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I’m currently in the process of planning my big trip to Europe, which is both extremely exciting and overwhelming!  On one hand, choosing the cities I want to visit and the things I want to see has been a huge motivator, but then I get anxiety attacks about Airbnb bookings and the thought of searching for a travel insurance provider.  There’s so much to think about, lots much to do, and of course graduation before I can even get excited about this trip.  If you have any recommendations, send them my way!

In the midst of all this planning, I have also been attempting to take day-trips close to my home on my very limited time off.  Whether it’s visiting a cute antique shop and eating Basque food in Gardnerville or trying out a new beach in Lake Tahoe, I love having the opportunity to learn more about my state and the surrounding areas.  This past weekend, I decided to head over to Nevada City, CA for coffee, lunch, and a quick hike.  I’ve passed the Nevada City exit time and time again on my way to San Francisco, and I finally decided to check it out.

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Nevada City ended up being entirely different than I expected.  It’s such a cute little town with fun shops, a cool coffee house where the locals hang out, and plenty of restaurants.  I think I’m even going to head back there next weekend if I can get off work in time!

A few minutes out of town itself is a quick, simple hike called the Independence Trail.  It’s probably one of the greenest places I’ve ever seen with velvety, moss-covered rocks, and an an amazing waterfall at the end.  The minute you reach the waterfall there’s a beautiful, windy bridge and the mist sends a chill in the air, so I recommend tying a jacket around your waste (which I did not).  As you can see, I was 100% not dressed properly for hiking, as that was not on my agenda for the day, but again, it’s such a simple hike that it’s practically just walking.  I would only recommend wearing hiking boots or tennis shoes as it can get a little muddy out there.

I’ll update you with recommendations for Nevada City next time I visit.  It’s such a fun day trip if you live in the Northern Nevada/California area!

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Jeans: Lucky Brand – Smoking Slippers: Sebago – Fringe Blouse: Thrifted (similar) – Sunglasses: Ray Ban

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Call Me Up by HOMESHAKE

Palmiers with Parmesan + Everything Spice

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After a week and a half of recovering from surgery I’m finally back!  Although I can’t say my senior-year spring break was worthy of being considered a “spring break woohoo!” by any means, I can’t really complain about playing lots of guitar, having an excuse to eat ice cream for all 3 meals, and watching Season 2 of Love for an entire week, right?  Take it from me, if you’re sick and also feeling blah about a breakup, ice cream and Love will solve all of your problems…or at least help you pretend you don’t have any in the first place*.

*jk, this is probably not the healthy way to deal with feelings, but we can all be self-indulgent once in a while, right?

Anyways, my week off was fun, but I’m ready to drag myself back into my regular routine so that I can get ready to graduate!  Plus, as it turns out, laying in bed is really only fun for a limited amount of time.  I feel myself itching to get back to working at the coffee shop and walking around campus.  As a senior in college getting ready to go back into the real world after a week long break, I’ll take motivation wherever I can get it…

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Now for the palmiers!  As a busy student who loves to cook, I’m always looking for easy appetizers or snacks that I can bring along whenever I’m invited to someone’s house for dinner.  Normally, I go for a cheese plate, because cheese = ♥, but I also am passionate about everything spice.  Put the two together, and you get a savory palmier combo that’s reminiscent of an everything bagel with cream cheese, except butter-ier, because puff pastry is essentially just a delicious block of flaky butter.  While these do take a little while to bake, they’re super easy to put together, and they come out beautiful, so you seem kind of impressive even if you aren’t.  Also, if you have some spinach dip lying around, spooning a little on top of these palmiers is really A+.

Read below to learn how to fold palmiers!!

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For palmiers, you’ll want to start by rolling the creases in the puff pastry with a floured rolling pin.  Spread your filling on the puff pastry sheets (filling recipe below).

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To fold these cuties, fold the puff pastry long-ways once toward the center.  Then roll them again so the left-and-right sides meet in the middle.  You’ll want to have 2 layers for each side (see right side of the picture).

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Fold the left side on top of the right side so you have 4 layers.  Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.  This can be done up to a day in advance if you’re pressed for time.

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Cut each roll into 1/4 inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and bake until golden brown!

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Although I strongly suggest using the everything spice + parmesan on these palmiers, this recipe is a great template for other flavors as well (cheddar + rosemary, feta + za’atar?).

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Give it to Me by HOMESHAKE

 

 

Matcha Kettle Corn

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I know that St. Patty’s Day is not a super celebrated holiday in the U.S. (and probably we don’t really celebrate the correct way), but I’ve always felt drawn to it purely based on the fact that my favorite color is green.  As a little girl who was obsessed with green, I thought it was the coolest that there was a holiday where everyone wore my favorite color.  And now, I’m planning my trip for Ireland, and guuuuyyyyyys.  I’m crushing hard on Ireland.  Based on pictures, I’m pretty sure I’m utterly in love.

I’m a little bummed about this St. Patty’s Day this year, because I’m having surgery the day before, so no beer or corned beef for me wah wah 😦  But then!  I was innocently going about my day, and god knows why, but I started thinking about kettle corn (do I really need a reason?), and then suddenly without hesitation, matcha kettle corn popped into my brain, and what better way to celebrate St. Patty’s Day than with green kettle corn?!

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Remember in elementary school when we would have parties for all the holidays, and without fail, at every single celebration, someone’s mom would make those sweet popcorn balls with shit tons of Yellow 6 and Red 40 and Blue 294u304889?  I have a vivid memory of trying my damnedest to bite into one, but it was absolutely impossible, and why did no one’s mom just think to make regular kettle corn?  Anyways, the point is that matcha popcorn is essentially an adult-friendly throwback to green-colored sweet popcorn balls except without the poison, so you’re welcome !!

Notes: As for the matcha part of this kettle corn, I would say you have to be a pretty big fan of matcha to enjoy this, but did I’m sure you already figured.  If you want a light coating, start with about 1 tsp. of matcha (or less if you want a reeeeally light coating), and then add another 1/2 tsp. if you want a little more flavor.  I liked it with 1 1/2 tsp., but I’m a matcha nut.  Also, I believe that the kettle corn is perfectly sweet with 1/4 c. of sugar, especially to balance the earthiness of the tea, but feel free to use less if you don’t like sugary kettle corn.  My dad, who doesn’t like super sugary kettle corn, told me that it was the perfect balance of sweet, so take that as you will.

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XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Abducted by Cults

 

Lasagna Bolognese

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Holy hell, it snowed again this weekend, and then when it wasn’t snowing, it was raining, and when it wasn’t raining it was perfect, foggy, San Franciscan weather that brings me peace.  It was the ideal weekend, aside from the moment yesterday when, while walking and eating an ice cream cone in the flurry-darkness, I somehow didn’t see a huge freaking puddle of rain right in front of me, and I kicked it, and rainwater splashed all over my jeans and inside of my shoes.  I probably would have been sad if I wasn’t laughing so hard, but that’s what I get for wearing old-man smoking slippers in the slushy rain-snow.

Luckily, nothing could dampen my spirits, because 1. I had mint chip ice cream from Simple!! and 2. I’m babysitting a big furry puppy this weekend while my cousin is at a friend’s wedding!  She’s a big furry ball of floof (aka a Bernese Mountain Dog) named Flower, and even though she punched me in the face while I was petting her this morning, I’ve had the best weekend hugging her squishiness!  Plus, there was that misty weather I was talking about earlier, and I had the most ethereal morning making coffee at work while the fog traipsed between the Sierras.  Oh, and then there was the lasagna…

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Lasagna is one of my favorite meals of all time, but especially when it’s frosty and misty outside.  The melding of cheese + pasta + tomatoes hugs my insides and makes me feel cozy and warm.  This lasagna in particular has been one of our favorite family recipes for a few years now.  I’m honestly not sure where the recipe itself came from, but the flavors balance together so nicely – the ratio of cheese to meat is perfect, and the veggies add a lighter texture.  Also, the recipe uses cottage cheese, which forms these delicious little cheese clumps without the heaviness of ricotta, and yuuummm!

I’ve tried at least four different lasagna recipes by now, and this is the one I always come back to.  It takes a little work, as all lasagnas do, but of course it’s worth it!  It’s the perfect weekend project if you want to perch yourself in front of a movie or listen to classic jazz while you layer delicate noodles with veggies, meat sauce, and a pile of cheese.  While the sauce is simmering, you can make a light salad or mix some herbs & butter to make toasty garlic bread, or better yet, start some creme brulee or mascarpone cheesecake.  Lasagna is special, and it deserves proper dessert as well.  This meal is perfect for a dinner party with friends or a romantic date-night with your love (note: this will feed both of you for days).  I wish you all lasagna-making bliss ♥

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Cry Me a River by Julie London


Thank you to Sanford Ranch Beef for sponsoring this post!  Sanford Ranch Beef is locally-grown, hormone-free, steroid-free, all-natural, and all the good stuff.  Visit their Facebook or website if you live in the Reno area.

As always, all opinions are my own.