Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 recipes of 2014 - My picks!

On Monday, I recapped the top 10 recipes of 2014 as determined by you, the readers.  Today, I'm sharing my top 10 favorite recipes of the calendar year.  From snacks and desserts (because, of course!) to classy dinners, burgers, and even pizza, there's something for every appetite.   You might be surprised by what tops the list, although, you might not at all if you've got a good memory.

As always, thank you for making this year so delicious and fun!  Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year! :)

10. Crispy peanut butter chip blondies - One glance at this plate, and I immediately think of Pitt football season.  Despite the, um, less than stellar overall performance by the Panthers, our group had a blast thanks to all of the delicious tailgating spreads, starting and ending with these blondies.  Salty, sweet, and guaranteed to only be around for a limited time because people can't keep their paws off of them.

9. Maple dijon roasted apples, potatoes, sprouts & sausage - This dish falls under the heading "I'm not quite sure how many people this will feed."  Why?  Because, although only two females sat down at the dinner table to enjoy this, the serving plate was clean as a whistle by meal's end.  Couldn't stop, so we didn't stop.  Spoiler alert: This isn't the last time you'll see chicken sausage on this list.

8. No-bake peanut butter chocolate chip oat bites - Speaking of my lack of willpower, ask me how many of these I devoured the first time I made them, and every time thereafter.  Chocolate and peanut butter with a mega crunch?  That's a winning snack combination.  Bonus points for not requiring any baking!

7. Smashed white bean & kale quesadillas - Though the food world's obsession with kale seemed to wane a little after the explosion of 2013, my fire for this particular green still burns.  You might even say it's grown and matured, and I've learned to use kale in the most unlikely and adventurous ways.  Take this quesadilla -- beans, greens, and cheese -- how can that be bad?  Hint: it's not; it's delicious!

6. Panko peanut salmon - Even more than kale, my love of salmon knows no bounds.  Not a week goes by without at least one salmon dinner served in our home.  This Thai-inspired preparation uses soy sauce and peanut butter to create a salty glaze that's topped with toasted panko.  One delicious crunchy bite after another, you'll want to take tiny bites to make this last as long as possible.

5. Chicken sausage & broccoli pizza - If last year was the year of kale, this year has been that of chicken sausage.  I've had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not to mention pre-meal samples.  Who knew a pizza without marinara sauce, or any sauce at all, would turn out to be my favorite homemade version?  Incredible!

4. Harvest apple chicken burgers with cranberry Stilton - They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  I say that a 22-pound "harvest" of apples is the initial reason I created these burgers.  However, the 3 (!) times I've made them since can only be attributed to the fact that they are out of this world.  Diced apples keep the burgers super juicy, and the cranberry Stilton totally ties everything together and makes it pop.  Make sure to buy a little more cheese than you need, you know, for a quality check ;)

3. Jalapeno cheddar corn muffins - If my culinary adventures of this year were a book title, it would read: "2014: Year of Chicken Sausage; Also, Katy's taste buds grew a set."  A pinch of red pepper flakes here, a dash of cayenne pepper there, and an entire (seeded) jalapeno sliced and roasted in sweet and cheesy cornbread.  These were the surprise success story of the year!

2. Banana chocolate chip cookies - Just when I thought there was no way to improve upon perfection, despite my many attempts and scores of chocolate chip cookie recipes posted on this site, I made these cookies.  Dare I say the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the previously-thought-to-be-impossible?  These have surpassed the traditional Toll House cookies as the go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe in our home and among many friends who've sampled them.  Chewy, sweet, and always chocolatey!

And, my #1 favorite new recipe of 2014 is...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 recipes of 2014 - Readers' picks!

As 2014 comes to a close, recaps and "best of" lists are popping up everywhere.  You know how I love a good list, and I couldn't resist getting in on the fun.

From burgers and bacon to cookies and chorizo (all the meats!), here are recipes you lovely folks deemed the most popular by clicking, emailing, posting, and Pinning.  Check back later this week for my top 10 recipes of the year!

10. Blueberry banana protein smoothies - Can't stop and won't stop these smoothies.  Call me a creature of habit or a boring breakfast-er (I prefer the former, in case you're wondering), but these are still a staple of my morning meal two or three days out of the week.  Fast, filling, and tastes like dessert, especially when I toss in a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Yes, please!

9. Cheese-stuffed cocktail meatballs - Cheese + meat + dipping sauce = perfection.  Need I say more?  No... but I will.  The holidays may be coming to a close, but football gatherings and Super Bowl parties are just around the corner.  What are you waiting for?  Make these ASAP!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your family love, peace, delicious eats, and many blessings this holiday season.  Merry Christmas from our home to yours! :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Easy 5-ingredient chocolate graham cracker toffee

Christmas is in two days.  Christmasisintwodays!


I was all set to write a real, borderline-wordy (aka typical) blog about this toffee.  Toffee that I planned to make two weeks ago.  Had I done that and posted it shortly thereafter, you could've made it and included it in your tins of Christmas cookies to family and friends.

However, not surprisingly, I did not make said toffee two weeks ago.  Or even two days ago.  I made it last night.


But it was so easy and so delicious that I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't at least steer you in the right direction to get the (very easy) recipe for yourself so you could wait until the last minute to make toffee, too.

Last minute homemade toffee is better than no toffee at all, right?

Simple, sweet, and sinfully addictive!  Package it in pretty decorative bags, and it also makes a great gift.  Head over to Gimme Some Oven (one of my favorite new-to-me blog discoveries of 2014!) for Ali's recipe.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 12/14-12/20

Weekly Meals: December 14th - 20th

Sunday: Crab-stuffed salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts
Monday: One-pot cheesy turkey taco chili mac (substituted ground chicken)
Tuesday: Orange brown sugar chicken with peas and baked potatoes
Wednesday: Chicken sausage with green peppers & onions
Thursday: (Out to Mezzo)
Friday: Brussels sprouts, cranberry & quinoa salad
Saturday: Leftovers

Monday, December 15, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 12/7-12/13

Weekly Meals: December 7th - 13th

Sunday: Hummus-crusted chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts & potatoes
Monday: Wild rice & bean casserole with guacamole
Tuesday: Pasta with chicken meatballs, artichokes & homemade marinara
Wednesday: (Out to Piper's Pub)
Thursday: Crab cakes, baked potato, steamed broccoli & cauliflower
Friday: 5-ingredient Crock Pot ham & navy bean soup
Saturday: Spiral-cut ham, green bean casserole, corn pudding

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Five: Food with friends

Friday Friday, there you are!  Sort of snuck up on me this week, actually.  How about you?  Has it been a busy week or a quiet one?  Regardless, I hope it's been good -- full of holiday preparations and time to be thankful for all of the blessings in our lives.

Speaking of holidays and being thankful, I want to say thank you for sticking with me this week while things have been a little quiet on the blogging front.  The reason I've been so unplugged is because my sister and her fiance are in town for a week.  Who has two thumbs and is soooooo excited?  This gal!

Three months ago, Jenny and Zach moved to Sacramento, CA, because he got an incredible job offer.  While our family is so proud of them (and loving the pictures of their weekend trips to national parks!), we've missed them terribly.

Rather than make two very short visits (with lots of travel time) for back-to-back holidays, they made the smart decision to return home for a full week between the two.  We hopped around the city earlier this week and have been relaxing at our parents' house since Thursday.  Cozying up in front of the fireplace, playing Scattegories, and enjoying the fruits cookies of my mom's holiday baking = the best.  There really is no place like home!

Family, friends, and food -- isn't that what the holidays are all about?  Bypass the crowded malls, give the postman an Amazon break, and save your fingers from becoming wrapping paper casualties.  (My Band-Aid count is up to 2.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who sustains such "injuries".)  Rather than stress about what to buy, why not channel your energies to dreaming up what indulgent dishes to make?  You know, the ones you've bookmarked, Pinned, or dreamt up and saved for a special occasion?  Here are five of my favorite food-centric ways to get together with the ones you love.

Happy weekend and, for us, happy early Christmas! :)

1. Progressive dinner - Coordinate with folks who live relatively close to one another and each offer to serve up a different course in succession.  Wine and appetizers at the first stop, salad and/or bread at the next, then the entree, and dessert.  This is a great way to give everyone a chance to host and show off their holiday decorations.  Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, the UK is home to the idea of a safari dinner during which "the destination of the next course is generally unknown by the participants, and they have to decipher a clue before moving on."  Fun!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 11/30-12/6

Weekly Meals: November 30th - December 6th

Sunday: Asian broccoli salad with peanut sauce
Monday: Parmesan-crusted pork chops with balsamic roasted cauliflower
Tuesday: Thai pork burgers with Sriracha aioli
Wednesday: Chicken, sweet potato & pecan salad
Thursday: (Out to Il Pizzaolo with girls)
Friday: Crock Pot shredded beef enchiladas (from the freezer)
Saturday: (Out to Caliente Pizza)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

68 Christmas & holiday cookie recipes

As of Saturday, the fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations are packed away until next year.  By last night, the Christmas decorations were up and the tree was trimmed.  And tonight?  Tonight, Official Holiday Baking Season begins!

Last week, while helping my mom bake pies for Thanksgiving, we started talking about cookies.  We fantasized about all of the cookies we plan to bake this year: both old favorites and new recipes that have caught our eye throughout the year.  And then how we'd enjoy them: eating, mailing, sharing, exchanging, you name it.  Is there anything more fun than cookies to make?  No, sir!

Food is love, and what better way to spread love than to gift cookies and treats to those near and dear to you!  Whether you're planning to bake cookies for everyone on your nice list or simply make enough to take to a holiday party, there's something for variety of sweet tooth here. 

Happy baking!

Drop cookies
Giant kitchen sink cookies (with all the mix-ins!)
Cutout, iced, filled, rolled, or stuffed cookies

Bar cookies

Candy & other sweets