Norwegian Lefse

I originally posted a recipe for lefse in 2015, but I decided to update my post this year with my great-grandma’s recipe!  It’s 100% the best Norwegian lefse I have ever had.  Also, you may notice some older pictures mixed in with the new ones.  On one hand, I really wanted some new, pretty pictures of my lefse. but on the other hand, I love the old photos of my brother and I making it together.  Enjoy the rare blonde-college-era Sara pics 😉

An overhead image of a stack of Norwegian lefse on a white linen placed on a marble counter next to a red and blue floral rolling pin, jar of purple jam, and white bowl of Demerara sugar. Continue reading “Norwegian Lefse”

Sparkling Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade

Sparkling Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade

Ok, I know it’s been 10 days since July started, but happy July!!!  Did everyone have a great Fourth?  I spent mine getting fried to a lobster-y red crisp while floating the Truckee River on a donut tube, and it was *worth it*.  Everyone was out, and it was like a giant Fourth of July party!  The water wasn’t even that cold, and I became friends with a guy dressed like Jack Sparrow.  I christened him Pirate Steve, and then he gave us a bunch of PBRs that were kept cold by the melted ice water that is the Truckee River.  Pirate Steve was the ~homie~.  We kept scraping our backs and booties on the rocks, since the river was fairly low, but if you don’t have battle scars, did you even float the Truckee? Continue reading “Sparkling Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade”

Thai Cucumber Salad

Thai Cucumber Salad | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

I just got back from Vegas, and it was hot as f%^#*@((%.  I totally forgot what Vegas summer is like, and I think I almost died.  There is no escape.  It’s like being under a blowdryer.  It’s that feeling of when you open the oven and it burns your face.  It’s like your body is turning to dust and also you’re pouring a waterfall of sweat at the same time.  But!!! I had so much fun.  I got to go shopping with my grandma and spent probably three days worth of work on sandals.  My grandpa took me to breakfast at the golf club on multiple occasions.  I went to the second tiki bar of my life (the first being in Bergen, Norway, fun fact), and I drank all kinds of rum drinks and laughed with my friends.  Then, I woke up with my first Vegas hangover.  I breathed in a whole lot more cigarette smoke than I have ever wanted to.  I also got lost in my own hometown, and I was offended.  When did Vegas change the roads??  And, I found a lovely specialty coffeeshop near my childhood home, which didn’t even open until after I moved away! Continue reading “Thai Cucumber Salad”

Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel

Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Caramel Coconut Cream Pie

To know me and my dad is to know that we are utterly obsessed with coconut.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I planned a family BBQ and somehow got talked into making an entire coconut cream pie.  The conversation went something along the lines of –

Me: “So we’ll have tri-tip, carrot salad, and I’ll make a pie.  What else would be good with this?  Some asparagus?”

My mom: “Maybe potatoes gratin.”

My dad: “I think coconut cream pie would go great with all of those things…” Continue reading “Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Caramel”

Funfetti Pancakes

Funfetti Pancakes without Cake Mix

Funfetti Pancakes no Cake Mix

I have used more sprinkles in the past few weeks than I have over the course of my entire life.  First, it was Molly Yeh’s funfetti cake, which my best friend and I decided to add extra sprinkles to, and then I unicorned it for my cousin’s sixth birthday.  (Side note: The amount of effort it takes to make a unicorn horn that doesn’t look like a wiener is actually impressive, but I don’t think I did too bad for my first time?).  The next notable encounter with sprinkles involved these pancakes.  Back in the good old days of SSL, I made a ‘birthday cake pancakes’ recipe with ‘homemade cake batter’.  As an avid anti-cake batter proponent, I was dead set on making the birthday cake pancakes that were floating around Pinterest but without boxed cake mix; at the time, this was downright impossible to find on the internet, and I went through a whole process of making homemade ‘cake batter’ that involved a food processor and a freezer.  Overall, way too much time for Sunday-morning pancakes, and while they tasted like cake, it still wasn’t the perfect funfetti flavor that I was looking for. Continue reading “Funfetti Pancakes”

Everything Bagel Popcorn

Everything Bagel Popcorn with Everything Spice & Nutritional Yeast

Growing up, one of my all-time favorite things to do was spend the night at my grandparent’s house.  My grandma and I would sew, take a ride in the golf cart, and have tea parties.  My grandpa would buy me ice cream and take me to breakfast after church on Sunday mornings.  Whatever sports game he was watching would blare throughout the house, and every time I smell Listerine, I think of my grandpa.  He has a green comb that he keeps on a side table next to his recliner.  My grandma has a violin hanging on a velvet backdrop across the room.  My grandparents have lived in this house my whole life, and it’s still one of my most comforting, happy places. Continue reading “Everything Bagel Popcorn”

Vanilla + Cardamom Scones with Strawberry Curd

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Yesterday, we had a rare March day with wonderful weather, and it was also the first day in three weeks that I haven’t felt like utter garbage.  I am currently in the midst of the longest sinus infection of my life, but even so, it could not ruin my spirits prompted by warm weather.  And by warm, I mean 45* F.  But, still… the sun was out for a change!  I had planned on spending the day cleaning my house after looking around and realizing that it looks like my closet threw up my entire shoe collection and I have a very impressive herd of dust bunnies breeding in my hallway.  But life is short, and sunny, windless Sundays are rare in March, so I forced myself to put on pants and get out of the house.  I got a coffee and took Bell to run around the dog park, and it wasn’t even muddy!  It was freezing, but every once in a while, the clouds would clear for a minute, and the sun would warm everything up.  The air smelled so good.  I always forget how lovely early spring is until it comes back around again.

Other than toughing it through the freezing-warm weather for as long as I possibly could, I spent the whole day cooking up some new recipes.  I love all the produce that’s out right now, and I’m taking advantage of it for as long as I can.  It inspired me to make some roast chicken with lots of potatoes and fresh herbs and then watch Julie & Julia, because what else would you watch when food is inspiring you?

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Another one of my spring favorites in the produce section is all of the fresh strawberries!  Strawberry shortcake has always been a very Easter-y dessert in my family.  We make our strawberry shortcake with biscuits instead of angel food cake, and I am convinced it’s the only way to even eat strawberry shortcake.  Also, you have to absolutely drench it in whipped cream, it’s a rule.

Like I was talking about last week, I’m trying to take advantage of my very short weekends by getting up earlier and brunching more.  Without some sort of goal, I have the tendency to sleep in and then lay in bed on my phone scrolling through embroidery instagrams for three hours.  SO, instead of scrolling, I’m sconing.  And eggs-benedicting.  And waffling.  If it’s brunchy, I want something to do with it.

But I digress.  This is about scones.  And strawberries.  And mixing it all together to create some sort of strawberry-shortcake inspired scone.  And also adding cardamom, because cardamom + strawberries = lalalala one of the best combos ever!!  Why didn’t I do this earlier, it’s such a good idea?  Cardamom is fairly expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way, so you’ll definitely notice a little hint of it in these scones.  The strawberry curd is a little extra step, but if you don’t want to go that far, you could always just serve these with jam or chop up some fresh strawberries to throw on top!  These are perfect for Easter brunch, especially because they can be made a day in advance!  Aaaaand they are best served with lots of fresh coffee, obviously.

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Vanilla + Cardamom Scones with Strawberry Curd
Serves 8-16

Ingredients

3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut in 1/2 in. cubes
1 egg, whisked
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. whipping cream + more for brushing
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbs. milk or cream

Preheat oven to 375* F.  In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.  Toss very cold butter in the flour.  Using your hands, work quickly to break the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized.  You may have some larger, flatter pieces.

Make a well in the center.  Add the egg, buttermilk, cream, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Mix until just incorporated.  The dough will be sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface.  Press into a 1-inch disk.  Cut into 8 sections.  Alternatively, for smaller scones, you could press it into two 1/2 in. disks and cut each of those into 8 sections.  Space on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.  Brush each scone with cream.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. of milk, and 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract until smooth.  Drizzle over scones.  Serve with curd (recipe below).

Strawberry Curd

1 lb. strawberries, finely chopped
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbs. corn starch + 2 Tbs. water whisked
6 Tbs. butter

Combine strawberries, zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until bubbling.  Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat.  Whisk in the butter.  Cool curd and serve with scones + whipped cream.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Let it Happen by Tame Impala

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Black Sesame + Blood Orange Pound Cake

Blood Orange Pound Cake with Black Sesame Seeds

Blood Orange & Black Sesame Pound Cake

Black Sesame & Blood Orange Pound Cake

I have this new hobby now where I come home on Friday night and immediately start baking.  Gone are my college days where Fridays meant getting excited about actually going out in public.  Now, I just want to make some brownies, eat Chinese takeout, and try to stay awake until 11 p.m.  While I can firmly say I would not trade working full-time for studying until midnight or being the only participant on “team projects” anymore, I also 10/10 understand why adults don’t do things.  At best, I can mentally prepare myself to go out on a Saturday night after a proper day of sleeping in and lounging around the house.  On the other hand, I have extreme FOMO, so if you offer something really tempting, I’ll probably down a few cups of coffee and make myself socialize.  But only if I can bring my dog.

One of the most stressful things of late has been deciding what I actually want to bake on these Friday nights, because if you see my “Recipes to Try” list, it’s as long as the Game of Thrones books.  Granted, not all of it is baked goods, some are cocktails which actually would be the perfect for Friday-night recipe developing, and a lot are rando health-foods that are not acceptable for Fridays.  But the baked goods list is long and arduous, and when I have to spend three weekends developing a cake, I get sad 🙁  Mostly because it means I have nothing to share for a weekend, but also because it means no cake for that weekend!

Buttery Black Sesame Pound Cake with Tart Blood Orange Glaze

Black Sesame & Blood Orange Pound Cake | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Black Sesame Pound Cake with Blood Orange Glaze

For example, this cake took me three fing times to figure out.  THREE.  And ok, I know that’s typical, if not modest, in recipe development world, but I’ve made cakes similar to this formula literally hundreds of times, so for it to not work three different times was appalling.  As a person who considers herself an experienced baker, I was fairly offended about screwing up such a simple cake and felt like I had to prove myself worthy to baked goods.  And although my salty-af first attempt inspired me to write a fairly impressive Vday-inspired caption, I also just really wanted this cake to work out some way or another, because black sesame + blood orange = 😍

In a perfect world, this cake would have been ready in time for Vday, because I don’t think it’s a coincidence that blood orange season is right around Valentine’s Day.  That’s just way too damn convenient.  However, I’m kind of fine that it didn’t end up working out that way, because the first batch of blood oranges I bought for this recipe were so-so, and the last batch I bought were unreeeeaaaaaal.  They were the most beautiful color, and their frangrance made my whole kitchen smell like it had just been professionally cleaned, although I can guarantee that wasn’t the case.  I think blood oranges are so underappreciated, because like, besides their ruby-red hue, they are so sweet and floral.  Maybe we should be adding lavender to this cake instead of sesame?

However, I really liked how the sweetness of the blood oranges meshed with the earthiness of the sesame seeds.  This color combo is perfection, and I liked the polka-dot look of the cake itself.  I’m putting black sesames on everything from now on thankyouverymuch.

A few notes about this recipe before we get into things:

  • Citrus is already somewhat salty, so it’s important to be stingy with the salt.  My first two attempts at this cake were soooo salty (for various reasons, but still).
  • Whip the butter, sugar, and eggs for much longer than you believe to be necessary.
  • Definitely don’t over-bake this cake.  Since it’s pound cake, it doesn’t use moisturizers like oil, so it’ll get dry if you wait too long.
  • Use aluminum-free baking powder, or the metallic taste will be very present in this recipe.
  • Use a higher-quality powdered sugar for the glaze.  Since the glaze is almost exclusively powdered sugar, you will notice any chalky tastes and textures found in cheaper versions.
  • Oh, and one more thing!  These do great baked in mini loaf pans, but make sure to butter the bejeezus out of the pan, or they will come out as little hot messes like mine did (see below).  However, if yours do come out that way, trash them up with extra glaze and maybe a little sprinkles, and you’ll be A-ok.  I highly recommend this method, because baking mini loaf cakes means extras for the freezer, and they are the best way to eat cake for breakfast in a socially acceptable way!! #science

Black Sesame & Blood Orange Pound Cake


Black Sesame + Blood Orange Pound Cake
Serves 12

Ingredients for the cake

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. blood orange zest
3 c. flour, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
2 Tbs. black sesame seeds

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.  Heat oven to 350* F.

Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar until it’s very incorporated, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly until the butter mixture is very light and fluffy, about another 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and blood orange zest.

Stir in half of the flour and half of the milk until just mixed.  Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk.  Stir in the black sesame seeds.

Pour batter into a buttered and floured bundt cake pan.  Bake for about 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached.  Flip it onto a cooling rack and let it cool before glazing.

Ingredients for glaze

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 c. blood orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Milk, as needed

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, blood orange juice, and vanilla extract.  Mix in milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  If the glaze gets too thin, add more powdered sugar a couple Tablespoons at a time.

Pour glaze over cake.  Sprinkle with black sesame seeds!


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Become the Warm Jets by Current Joys

Black Sesame & Blood Orange Pound Cake | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Black Sesame Pound Loaves with Blood Orange Glaze

Pistachio Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

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I’m just going to start off this entire post with the disclaimer that this recipe for zimtsterne is absolutely not traditional.  I’ve been known around these parts to bastardize traditional recipes, such as when I baked a “New York” cheesecake with mascarpone + amaretto or when I made tater tot poutine.  And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the internet, it’s that people get actually upset when you don’t make a recipe exactly like their recipe.  It’s the precise reason that I probably will never post a recipe for goulash or huevos rancheros, and why I keep disclaimers on these posts in the first place.  But I digress…this is about cookies.

Ever since I went to Germany, I’ve been obsessed with Germany.  Like, all I think of is Five Elephant and eating schnitzel with fries + mayo.  And then yesterday, I went to a local bakery in town, Bavarian World, and honest to god it’s probably one of my favorite places in Reno.  On one side, there’s a bakery/market that has absolutely the best baklava and pretzel rolls, and pecan cakes.  And then on the other side is a restaurant that I’ve never eaten at, but I have secret dreams of going on a date there Fast Times at Ridgemont High style.  While I was in line waiting to buy my pretzel rolls and roast beef for Christmas-day lunch, I saw a package of zimtsterne, a star-shaped cinnamon cookie,  which I had never heard of before, but then I got really excited (!!!) because I literally stayed up the night before trying to think of a cookie I could make with pistachios.  And even though zimtsterne is usually made with almonds, I am having a love affair with pistachios almost always, so I figured I could add those too.  Yay Bavarian World!!!

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This past week, I’ve had approximately three or four different Christmas parties to attend, and I am partied tf out.  I have spent two too many mornings hugging a Gatorade and popping Ibeuprofen for my headache after an evening of Moscow Mules and late-night tacos.  Which is why I spent my Friday night listening to She & Him Christmas albums and making this cookie dough.  And it was perfect, because it has to chill for at least a few hours, and it was perfectly chilly by the time I woke up to bake them this morning!  Traditionally these cookies are made with a meringue, but there are two ways you can go about things:

1. If you’re a sinner, you can just add the egg whites straight to the dough (hi), which yields a denser, chewier cookie.

2. If you’re a traditionalist, you can whip up a meringue and fold the nut mixture into the meringue which will result in a cookie reminiscent of a macaron.

Out of sheer laziness, and because the last time I whipped egg whites ended in an epic failure, I went with the “adding the egg whites” option, and I love that the texture is somewhat biscuit-y and chewy.  However, next time I’m going to try it the meringue way, because I also love airy cookies.

Now, if I can just somehow get myself back to Germany ASAP I promise to try real-life, traditional, Christmasy zimtsterne.  Scout’s honor.

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Pistachio Zimtsterne
Makes 28 two-inch cookies

INGREDIENTS

100 g ground, unsalted pistachios (about 1 c. whole)
200 g ground, unsalted almonds (about 2 c. whole)
100 g (about 1/2 c.) powdered sugar
50 g (1/3 c.) flour
2.5 g (1 tsp.) cinnamon
Zest of 1/2 orange
4.2 g (1 tsp.) vanilla extract
2 egg whites

Glaze

200 g (about 1 c.) powdered sugar
30 g (2 Tbs.) orange juice
30 g (2 Tbs.) milk
2 g (1/2 tsp.) vanilla extract

In a food processor, combine pistachios and almonds.  Pulse until they are finely ground, but be careful not to grind them too much, or they’ll turn into a nut butter!  In a bowl, combine the ground nuts, powdered sugar, flour, cinnamon, and orange zest.  Stir in the vanilla extract and egg whites until a crumbly dough forms*.  Using your hands, knead until everything is mixed together and the dough forms.  Flatten, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill at least an hour, but you can make it up to 2 days in advance.

Preheat oven to 350* F (170* C).  After the dough has chilled, roll it on a powdered-sugar surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out about 28 cookies, re-rolling as necessary.  I like to dip the cookie cutter in powdered sugar before cutting, because it prevents sticking.  Line on a greased baking sheet.  They can be pretty close together, because they don’t puff up much.  Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned.  Let cool completely.

*Alternatively, for airy cookies, you can whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the dry mixture into the egg whites, add the vanilla, and finish the recipe as directed.

While the cookies are baking, combine the remaining powdered sugar with the orange juice, milk, and vanilla.  I start with 1 Tbs. each of orange juice and milk and add more liquid to get my desired consistency of icing.  After the cookies have cooled, dip each one in the glaze.  Add sprinkles if desired!  Let harden, and keep stored in tupperware.


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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: I’ll Be Home for Christmas by She & Him