Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review + happy new year

Happy New Year! I don't make resolutions, but I do make lists. In the spirit of ushering in the new year, today I bring you a list of my personal favorite blog posts of 2011.

My Less Serious Day

Winner: love struck

I'm not sure what it is about these posts that make them my favorite. A combination of favorite outfits, food (well...probably mostly food), and witty (if I do say so myself) introductions.

Runner-up: the blues

Weekend Review

Winner: simplicity

This, my most recent weekend review, only features a single meal I ate by myself one Saturday night. But, this meal was so perfect, so simple, so beautiful, and so delicious that it deserves this first place finish, hands down.

Runner-up: a little love on top


After posting this commentary about the importance of incorporating short walks into your daily routine I heard from reader after reader that began adding walks to their day as inspired by this post. My simple post inspiring others to lead a more healthy lifestyle? Winning. Yes, winning.

Runner-up: my fashion discovery


Winner: the cereal experiment: Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans

Now, this isn't necessarily the healthiest or my favorite cereal choice, but I absolutely love the text of this post. And, I love cereal (which is why both prize winners are from by far my favorite experiment of 2011, the cereal experiment).

Runner-up: the cereal experiment: Kashi GoLean Original

What I Ate Wednesday

Winner: issue 11

This dinner wins it. Afterwards, I may or may not have glanced back at this very photo many more times than normal just to remembers its deliciousness.

Runner-up: issue 13

And that, my friends, are the best of the less serious best.

Now. Bring it, 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

what i ate wednesday: christmas edition

As you know, it was recently Christmas. And I ate a lot.

Today I bring you what i ate Wednesday - the Christmas edition. Most everything you see here was made by mom or me or, most likely, both of us. Recipes available online are linked up, but anything else is likely a family recipe that I'm more than happy to share if you are interested. Just comment or e-mail (! Enjoy the show.

1. 'Simulated' Christmas Eve

We had our traditional Christmas Eve festivities early this year (December 20) while my boyfriend was in town to participate. This includes cooking and eating an assortment of hor dourves and driving around looking at Christmas lights.

Figure 1B. Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill.

Figure 1C. Colorado Calzones, one with sausage and one with spinach.

Figure 1D. Barbeque cups (the one appetizer I had to have this year, so good).

2. Actual Christmas Eve

Breakfast for dinner and a cheesy Christmas movie.

Figure 2A. Homemade cinnamon bread. My first time making bread from scratch and it turned out great (shout out to mom for her assistance)!

Figure 2B. My plate: ham and Swiss quiche, spinach-stuffed mushrooms topped with Parmesan, and homemade cinnamon toast with butter.

3. Christmas Day

Cookies and presents and cookies and presents and cookies and presents. A big festive dinner and something special for dessert.

Figure 3A. The annual cookie plate (from left to right): dark chocolate covered stars (from Grandma), peanut butter and chocolate dipped pretzels, almond crescent cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, magic cookie bars, and white chocolate peppermint bark.

Figure 3B. Christmas dinner, my plate: crown roast of spareribs with cornbread stuffing, a baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar, roasted green beans with almonds, and Brussels sprouts with balsamic and cranberries.
 Figure 3C. Dessert: homemade peppermint hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream. I die.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Tuesday, December 20, Saturday, December 24, and Sunday, December 25).

Friday, December 23, 2011

merry christmas and the tale of the two-day tart

The holidays are the time to make extravagant, time-consuming, and unnecessary desserts for friends and family (and yourself).

Today, I bring you the story of the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart that was anticipated for two days. And.worth.every.second.

We celebrated Christmas Eve early this year, on December 20 to be exact. In our world (as I imagine in most other sane human beings' worlds) our festivities center around food. Delicious food. 

In my head that means we need chocolate. Decadent chocolate.

Enter this Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart. The moment I pinned this baby on Pinterest I knew I had to make it. And then eat it. And my family agreed.

My dad searched out the specialty ingredients (Dutch process cocoa powder and creme fraiche) while I plotted the 15 hour baking extravaganza that would be necessary to eventually taste the salted caramel goodness.

Step by step this tart slowly came to life. I knew it was going to be worth all our effort the moment we each stuck a finger into the cooled caramel-making pot - paused, smiled, and said almost in unison, "man, that is like....real caramel!" Success.

It took four adults and two days. But, in the end we had one of the most beautiful and delicious desserts you could imagine. So beautiful in fact I considered (for a moment) charging our guests for its consumption.

This tart is a culmination of a dark chocolate cookie-like crust, a creamy and sweet caramel, a shiny and rich bittersweet chocolate ganache, and a perfectly necessary sprinkle of sea salt.

My words just aren't doing this tart justice. I'm afraid you just have to make it yourselves to truly know its beauty. That's right, I am instructing you to make this tart. And then eat it. And make your family eat it, too. Damn, I'm tough.

And that, dear readers, is the story of the the two-day chocolate tart. A perfectly sweet way to kick off our holiday festivities.

And now, I hope you'll excuse my pending lack of posts as I continue to enjoy delicious food and time with family.

The two most important pieces of any Christmas season.

Happy less serious holidays.

-Sara @my less serious life-

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

what i ate wednesday: issue 14

This is the what i ate, 'Christmas vacation/at my parents house/drank beer on a Monday/didn't document all my eating because I'm on holiday and can't be brought down like that', edition. And, actually, the next couple weeks may be part of this edition, as well. :)

Figure 1. Breakfast: yes, I brought my cereal along so I had an (overflowing) bowl of Kashi GoLean Original mixed with Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereal, 1/2 sliced banana, and almond milk.

Figure 2. Lunch, part one: a massive spinach salad with carrots, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, pecans, craisins, hummus, and raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.

Figure 3. Lunch, part two: a slice of whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and grape jelly.

Figure 4. Lunch, all together now.

Figure 5. Afternoon snack: plain Greek yogurt with Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereal.

 Figure 6. Pre-dinner beer: Four in Hand Winter Brew. Good stuff.

Figure 7. Capturing the ambiance of a family dinner.

Figure 8. Dinner: grilled teriyaki pork tenderloin (made by dad), scalloped potatoes (made by mom), and roasted broccoli (made

Figure 9. Dessert: one of Koko's Black and White Cookies.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Monday, December 19).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the great food blogger cookie swap 2011: recap

Do you like cookies? too.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011 brought over 400 food bloggers together, one dozen cookies at a time.

Figure 1. Sara @ My Less Serious Life's (my) Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies.

Not only did this cookie swap allow me to bake 3 dozen of my favorite cookies (Figure 1) and ship them across the country for others to try, but I received 3 boxes of generous creations from other fantastic bakers/bloggers.

Figure 2. Amanda @ Fashionably Plate's Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues.

I received my first box of cookies from Amanda @ Fashionably Plate. Inside were the lightest, brightest Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues (Figure 2). These babies melted in your mouth in a sea of sugary, chocolate-y, minty fabulous-ness. Thanks, Amanda.

Figure 3. Cait @ The Patriotic Baker's White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread.

My second box of cookies were delivered to my house while I was out of town. I called my boyfriend every afternoon to see if cookies had been delivered. And, one day, he excitedly reported receiving a box from Cait @ The Patriotic Baker. Inside was this beautifully festive and delicious White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread (Figure 3). Luckily, he left some for me to try when I returned home. Thank you, Cait.

Figure 4. Koko @ Koko Likes' Black and White Cookies.

Funny story. I waited and waited for my third box of cookies. I was so disappointed that I didn't receive them that I reported the missing box the the Cookie Swap organizers. I was even assigned a cookie angle to send me an extra box to replace the missing dozen (I was convinced they were stolen off my front porch). Then, just two days ago I was packing up my stack of Amazon Christmas boxes and noticed an extra package. I opened it, and inside were the missing cookies - Koko @ Koko Likes' Black and White Cookies, to be exact (Figure 4). This entire time I thought they were a gift for my nephew. In relief (and slight embarrassment) I dug right in and brought them along to my parents house where they are being enjoyed by my entire family. Thank you (and sorry), Koko!

And, if this little post has wet your appetite for more - these recipes along with ~400 others are available at the Cookie Swap Roundup Part 1 and Part 2

After all, what is better than 3 dozen cookies? 


Monday, December 19, 2011

weekend review: simplicity

Sometimes the most delicious meals use the fewest, simplest, most beautiful ingredients.

Figure 1. The beginnings of a great meal: a pound of Brussels sprouts + an enormous sweet potato.

Figure 2. Indecisiveness on how to prepare my sprouts led to this: Brussels sprouts two ways (left: shredded for caramelized Brussels sprouts; right: halved and tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper for roasted Brussels sprouts).

Figure 3. Also in the mix for dinner: sliced white button mushrooms and some beautiful extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (Cabot Seriously Sharp white cheddar, to be exact).

Figure 4. Brussels sprouts two ways: caramelized Brussels sprouts and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Figure 5. Twice baked sweet potato topped with mushrooms and cheddar. This is beautiful, isn't it?

Figure 6. Saturday night's dinner: twice baked sweet potato topped with mushrooms and cheddar and Brussels sprouts two ways (caramelized and roasted).

Friday, December 16, 2011

my less serious day: creepy

My first hip hop aerobics class would have been a lot less uncomfortable if a strange man hadn't stood and watched us shimmy and wiggle for the entire hour.

It is clear glass, creepy man, we can see you.


Jeans: Gap; top and cardigan: Loft; necklace: gifted via Grandma; wedge ankle boots: Lucky via Piperlime


This morning I went on a 70-minute run at easy pace with L. I fit in one short walk during my day. And, after work I was *brave* and 'got down' while attending a 60-minute hip hop aerobics class (review to come).


Breakfast was my usual bowl of cereal (Kashi GoLean Original + Post Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch + 1/2 sliced banana + almond milk). Mid-morning I had a large Pink Lady apple.

For lunch, I had a Lean Cuisine. My first afternoon snack was raw vegetables (broccoli, grape tomatoes, radishes, and cucumber) dipped in yummus (Greek yogurt + hummus). My second afternoon snack was a Special K Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Meal Bar (I forgot to pack extra food to fend off my long run-induced hunger and had to buy something at the snack bar).

Dinner was a piece of whole wheat toast topped with a surprisingly tasty mixture of black eyed peas, marinara, and goat cheese - warmed and melty - alongside a heaping pile of sauteed spinach and onions. I also had a small bowl of grape tomatoes (un-pictured).

Dessert was a 'baked' Pink Lady apple with cinnamon and topped with raw oats and almond butter. I also had a piece of dark chocolate following this to top off my night.

Note: this post represents what happened in my world on Thursday, December 17.