Sincerely Seven: Week 37

Another week gone by, stuck inside, this time due to wildfires and unsafe air. We did go for a beach walk today even though we probably should have stayed inside, but lung damage be damned. I haven’t been in the best space mentally from all this staying inside so it was well worth it. I love California but it’s getting a bit tiresome, one thing after another and being forced to stay inside. We did try Persian food this weekend, which was really good and I finished another book (A Man Called Ove, love!). Still trying to see the positives…

Pumpkin Swirl Muffins (FALL)
  1. Like I mentioned (don’t know how you wouldn’t have heard), wildfires are raging in California, here are ways you can help. The most important way you can help is by voting come November for elected officials who care about climate change.
  2. 9/11 was this past week, which marked 19 years since a very tragic day in American History; however, the tragic events of 9/11 will forever overshadow how the event itself fueled Islamophobia in this country, making it hell for thousands of Muslim Americans for many years to come.
  3. Stuck with student loans? Same. Worried about whether you should be paying your loans (that may have had payments paused), or saving for a possible layoff or illness? Same! I found this guide interesting and somewhat helpful in navigating how to handle this strange time.
  4. Any Great British Baking fans out there? The show is returning at the end of the month in the UK, but it has not been reported when the US fan will get to see the season. I recently discovered Portrait Artist of the Year, where 9 artists compete by painting portraits of British celebs. I used to figure draw, so it’s mollifying me until GBBO returns (give me all the British television!!).
  5. It’s almost fall ya’ll (in this house, we start 9/1)! The best way to celebrate is with PUMPKIN and BAKING. Here’s my favorite muffin recipe from Sweet and Simple Kitchen. The swirls of Nutella are optional, but why wouldn’t you add it? See above.
  6. Speaking of fall, this foliage map of the country is my new favorite thing! I love being home in Pennsylvania and seeing the beautiful hues of trees on the mountains. I’m SO excited I’ll be home in October during prime foliage time!
  7. I spent some of the weekend watching Get Organized with The Home Edit and I’m obsessed. I spent the rest of the weekend on the Container Store’s website trying to order things to get my closet in order. Also, can we talk about how they got to see and hold ALL of Reese’s movie memorabilia, especially from Legally Blonde? DED.

Happy thoughts for you this week, loves!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 25

I thought I would kick off something new called, Sincerely Seven, where I recap my week, tell you something new or share an article or recipe that I found useful over the last seven days. I’m hoping it will encourage me to write on here more, plus share some nuggets that I found useful or interesting over the course of my week. Without further ado, here are my seven highlights from week 25 of 2020.

  1.  I took a 3 day weekend and it was so lovely to not have work on Friday. Since COVID started, I haven’t taken any time off, mostly because it feels weird taking time off when I work from home. It was well needed and I enjoyed every minute, plus I finally got my hair done so back to blonde baby! Sadly semi wishing I had taken off tomorrow too..
  2. In listening to this week’s episode of Work in Progress, I learned why you shouldn’t eat any more shrimp. I’m officially done, and trying to do anything I can to save the ocean.
  3.  I found this recipe for marinated goat cheese and strawberry crostini this week and it sounds SO yummy. I need to run to Trader Joe’s to get some goat cheese and french bread ASAP.
  4. I personally purchased the book, White Fragility, but then I read this article and have decided not to read it. Just wanted to share since I shared that book title earlier on my blog; I would be curious if anyone has read it, what did you think?
  5. I finished the show “Love Life” on HBO and would highly recommend; Anna Kendrick’s character is very lovable and experiences a lot of character development throughout the show/her love life. I also started “Dear White People” on Netflix; though I’m only one episode in, I really like it so far. Logan Browning plays a very fierce lead, helping to highlight the racial issues on her predominantly white college campus.
  6.  I’m currently reading Normal People by Sally Rooney and I can’t put it down! I also can’t wait to start the show after I finish. Has anyone already read/watched?
  7.  I made this chocolate chip cookie and it’s too pretty not to share with the world (since I’m off social media). You can make them too with this recipe from one of the best bakeries in Columbus, OH.

0BE6EFAC-BD59-499D-A148-E84302C23F05

I hope you had a wonderful week and here’s to wishing for another great seven days ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Let’s have a cup of tea.

Let’s sit down and have a cup of tea. I’m drinking cream earl grey from Brooklyn Tea, it’s my latest favorite that I discovered from Unhappy Hour podcast (if you haven’t listened, you’re missing out).

You can have tea, coffee or matcha, or whatever you please. I used to drink coffee, but I stopped because I no longer enjoyed it, plus I got a headache every time I stopped drinking it and hated having to have to it, you know?

While we sipped at our drinks, I would tell you that I have a never ending list of things I want to bake but I never seem to have the time, or I can never decide what to bake, so I don’t bake at all. I did make cinnamon rolls last weekend (I wrote about them here) and I’m making croissants this weekend. I’m trying to focus on baking so one day I can fulfill my lifelong dream of baking all day replacing my 9-5 job.

I would  also tell you I’m currently finding it hard to find the time to read, and I have 5 books backlogged in my Libby app and I feel overwhelmed to read them all. If I could read all day I would, but I always feel so guilty when I lay around and do nothing, especially in a busy town like LA.

I would mention how there’s an extension course at UCLA that I would love to take; it’s a class on global business and international trade, which is what my job is in, but there’s no way I can afford it, unless my work would pay for it. Should I ask? I feel weird asking. I probably won’t ask. It would also be another thing on my plate, and time is of the essence these days. I also want to start taking baking classes around LA, because why not take advantage while I’m here?

I would recount that my birthday was fun. We decorated cakes at Milk Bar on Melrose, ate lunch at Eataly (the butternut squash ravioli is my favorite), came home for a nap, and then saw Emma. at the Hollywood Dome theater. Overall, a very Sara day!

I would ask about you, what’s new with you, how was your week, what are you drinking?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

 

Sincerely Bakes: Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Do you love cinnamon rolls? Do you love chocolate? Yes? YES? Then you’ll be obsessed with these tasty chocolate cinnamon rolls from Bake From Scratch. The recipe was pretty simple if you’re familiar with yeast doughs; if unfamiliar, it can be daunting, but don’t worry! Yeast can be scary but it’s really not that hard to work with, especially if you give it patience and a lot of love. I watched my dough like a hawk as my mixer kneaded it, and was constantly poking and tearing off pieces to check if the gluten had developed, but I admit that was probably overboard. This dough came together really well on it’s own.  

The best part of these rolls is the filling. A combo of butter, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and sugar, it makes a yummy spread that I wanted to eat on its own. Topped with Mexican cinnamon flavored chocolate makes for the perfect combination. For reference, I got the mexican chocolate at Whole Foods, it wasn’t with the rest of their chocolates, it was over by the wine on a small display. At least, it was in my LA location. 

I’ve made several kinds of doughs, especially for cinnamon rolls, as I feel it part of my destiny to find the best cinnamon roll recipe. Weird, I know, but every recipe is so different and I found a lovely dough in this recipe. It was simple, easy to work with and gave for a great rise and bake.

I took these to work and everyone that had one was like, WHAT are these? It was rave reviews all around. The melty chocolate filling combined with the grainy mexican chocolate bits is a flavor explosion in your mouth. Also, the SMELL right out of the oven was heavenly.

If you want to try making this yourself, please check out Bake From Scratch’s recipe. As a note, I used the cream cheese frosting that can be found in The Jo Baker’s cinnamon roll recipe; I used a different frosting because the one provided by Bake From Scratch seemed like a cream cheese glaze, whereas I wanted a thick cream cheese-buttery frosting. I haven’t tried Jo’s brioche dough rolls, but they’re on my list, especially after how tasty the cream cheese frosting was! 

Would Paul* Shake My Hand: 10/10

Have you made cinnamon rolls before? What’s your favorite thing to bake? 

Sincerely, 

Sara Ann

 

*If you’re all like, ‘Who’s Paul?” then you obviously haven’t spent hours watching the Great British Baking Show, like myself. Paul Hollywood is a judge who gives handshakes to the best bakes of the season, and I judge all my baking based on whether or not he would shake my hand after eating it. Video here for visual understanding of how important his handshakes are to contestants. 

Taylor Swift’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ya’ll, I made these cookies a few weeks back and let me tell you, they are fantastic. I like to call myself a cookie connoisseur and these just blew everything out of the water. I will be making these for the rest of my life, thank you Taylor Swift. The chocolate is so rich and the salt, just ughh, you need to make these for yourself, okay?

cookies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

340g block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chocolate chunks from a bag found in the baking aisle #lazy)

1  cup walnuts, chopped

Large flake sea salt, for garnish

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

2. .In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and kosher salt.

3. In large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter. Using an electric beater or the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until it they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat them into the butter and sugar mixture. Add in the vanilla as well.

4.With a rubber spatula or with the stand mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.

5.spoon the cookie dough by 2 tablespoon-size balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the cookie dough balls 5cm apart on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 12 to 13 minutes.

6. When the cookies come out of the oven IMMEDIATELY sprinkle each cookie with a few grains of sea salt. This is really important to do while the cookies are hot.

7. Let the cookies cool for 2 to 3 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Leave any questions in the comments, and let me know if you make them!