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Monthly Archives: December 2013

My Favorites from 2013

Life is made up of moments – good, bad, and everything in between. My year was filled with all kinds of these moments, as I’m sure yours was. I have been known to spend this time of year filled with regret at things I didn’t do or accomplish, something that is especially true when it comes to my blog.

This year, though, that feeling was only a fleeting one. It was sneaking up on me, but then something happened. I made this 15 second video (using the Flipagram app) and realized just how many awesome things happened in 2013, both here on the blog and in my life. Seeing those moments flash by, well, I couldn’t feel anything but joy.

Just for fun, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013, in somewhat chronological order:

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream and Dark Chocolate GanacheI made this chocolate cake with coffee buttercream for one of my best friends, right before her twin boys were born.

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack CheeseSurprised one of my best friends on her 30th birthday. We made these baked ranchero eggs together.

Clara Celebrated Clara’s first birthday with a super fun party.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette Things got personal in this post, and it meant (and still means) so much to me to be encouraged by all of you. When I start to feel down about my blog, I go back to this post and remind myself of how I felt when I wrote it.

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cupcakes I made these chocolate toffee crunch cupcakes, and they were my favorite cupcakes this year.

Lemon Arugula PastaI became a contributor over at Simple Bites, which I still kind of can’t believe happened.

We attended Big Summer Potluck and got to see some of our favorite people. We gave our office a huge makeover and started an unplanned kitchen renovation (which I promise I’ll share more of very soon). We also made some killer recipes in 2013, and I can’t let this post end without sharing a few of our favorites with you.

White Pizza with Chicken and Fresh Herbs White Pizza with Chicken and Herbs – This was my favorite pizza from this year, and quite possibly ever. On the same note, this homemade pizza dough is a staple in our house.

Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter – These biscuits are a fun change from normal ones. With lots of smoky heat and a generous smear of honey butter, these biscuits are at the top of my list of favorite breakfast foods.

Southwest Pasta with Poblano Cream Sauce Southwest Pasta with Poblano Cream Sauce – This recipe spent years in my head before it finally became a successful reality. We make quite a bit of pasta, and this one is the best recipe I’ve ever created.

DIY Cold Brew Iced Coffee Cold Brew Coffee – I had to include this one since Eric and I basically live off of this stuff, even in the winter. You can open our fridge at almost any time and see a pitcher of this in there.

Pistachio Ice Cream with Chocolate Shavings Pistachio Ice Cream with Chocolate Shavings – This is, hands down, the best ice cream I’ve ever made, and that’s saying a lot considering ice cream is my favorite dessert. If you decide to make only one thing from this list, it should be this. Really.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Crispy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas – In a house where recipes rarely get repeated, you should know that we made this recipe at least five times in the span of a couple months. It’s incredibly versatile, simple and tasty.

Looking at this list, I’d say 2013 was a pretty fantastic year. I’m excited for what 2014 holds for me and for this blog. I’m so thankful for all of you – for reading, for motivating me, for opening up your kitchens to me, for sharing your love of food. I feel like we’re on a journey together, and it’s nice to have all of you with me. Thanks for tagging along.

Reader Favorites from 2013

Another year is winding to a close, and that means it’s time to take a look back at the posts you guys loved the most. I’ve heard that some people hate end of the year recaps like this one, but I personally love them. I’m always very reflective at the end of a year, and this gives me a chance to look back and get a feel for what you guys like and possibly what you want to see more of in the upcoming year. Plus, I love seeing them on other blogs because it gives me a chance to take a look at a recipe I may have missed.

Here are your top 10 favorites, starting with number 10 and working our way to the most popular recipe from 2013.

Cheddar Jalapeño Chicken Burgers with Guacamole
Cheddar Jalapeño Chicken Burgers with Guacamole - We made these burgers so many times over the summer, so I’m not at all surprised to see them on the list. Also, you guys seem to like the jalapeño and cheese combination (hint hint).

Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Broccoli Pesto Pasta - This recipe is one I was surprised to see on the top 10. We loved it, as did Clara, but I’m used to seeing lots of sweets in these recaps. It makes sense when I think about it, though, because this recipe is simple and flavorful, and that makes it a great one to have in your back pocket when you’re in a dinner rut.

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake
Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake - Fresh blueberries, a crumbly topping, and something called cake that’s completely acceptable to eat for breakfast. Yeah, I’m right there with you and can see why this one made the list.

Baked Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Dip
Baked Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Dip - I love this recipe for so many reasons, most of all because it makes me think of my wonderful blogging friends and the time they came to see me before Clara was born (sniff, almost two years ago!). This one is insanely delicious and would make a great New Year’s Eve (or Super Bowl) snack. Be warned: people gather near this dip and will not leave until it is demolished.

Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes
Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes - These cupcakes were a huge hit at Clara’s birthday party, and I definitely expected them to make the list. It’s hard to beat a tender cupcake with pastry cream and a pie crust garnish…

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes
Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes - Unless, of course, it’s a cupcake with booze. I like how you guys think. I made a lot of cupcakes this year, and this one was tied with another as my favorite cupcake recipe.

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies
Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies - Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. That pretty much sums up these brownies. They’re decadent and totally swoon-worthy, so I can see why they were so popular. I’ll be making them for Valentine’s Day, if not sooner.

Pan-Crisped Salmon with Light Garlic Dijon Cream Sauce
Pan-Crisped Salmon with Light Garlic Dijon Cream Sauce - I know this is one of maybe three fish recipes on here, but I promise I’m working on that. This salmon recipe was a big hit with all three of us. I love anything that involves a Dijon cream sauce, and I will readily admit to drizzling this sauce over everything on my plate when we made this recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
Chicken Tortilla Casserole - Comfort food has always been popular with you guys, and this is a fresh spin on the usual casserole. You’re all well aware of my love of Tex-Mex food, and this recipe is one of my favorites from this year. I’m so glad you guys liked it, too.

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies with Goat Cheese and Bacon Filling
Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies with Goat Cheese and Bacon Filling - I still get so many comments from friends about these whoopie pies and am not at all surprised they took the number one spot. These things disappeared from Clara’s birthday party, and Eric and I liked them so much that we could barely control ourselves around them before our guests arrived. They really are that good.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie
Christmas Eve is only a week away, and that means that 2013 is almost officially over. I can’t even believe it. The past few weeks have been busy for us as we prepare to celebrate (and while we finish up our kitchen renovation). December is always such a mix of emotions for me, for more reasons than you guys probably care to know, so I’m thankful for the distraction the busyness of this season provides.

With all the gatherings we’ve attended the past couple of weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to cook and bake things we don’t normally make unless we’re entertaining a crowd. Case in point: this pie. You may recognize it from Clara’s first birthday party (holy crap, how was that almost a year ago?!), but this is the first time I’ve made it since then. Our friends hosted a holiday party on Saturday, and we took this to share.

Chocolate pie has long been a favorite of Eric’s, and I’m happy to have a recipe that I can whip up for special occasions. When I made this for Clara’s party (in bite-size), I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the filling. Growing up with a severe dislike of chocolate, the thought of an entire pie made of it kind of grossed me out. I’ve since learned the error of my ways (and discovered my love for chocolate), but I still wasn’t completely sold on chocolate pie until I tried this one. With its flaky pie crust and dense, chocolaty filling, this pie is one of the best I’ve eaten. The filling is rich, super smooth and good enough to eat by the spoonful (which I will totally fess up to doing). Top it with some lightly sweetened whipped cream, and you’ve got one heck of a dessert.

Chocolate Cream Pie


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Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pistachios {Anolon Giveaway}

Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pistachios

Many of you are probably starting to plan your holiday menus. Whether you’re hosting family, attending a few parties or celebrating with a small group of friends, chances are there will be a lot of food involved. At least that’s how it is among my group of friends. Eric and I will be staying in Virginia for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be cooking as much as we can (especially because, fingers crossed, our kitchen will be done!). Even though it will just be the three of us, I’m not letting that stop me from cooking something special for Christmas. The fact that it is just the three of us makes me want to make it extra special, know what I mean?

I’m still deciding what we’ll make Christmas Day, but there’s a good chance this wild rice pilaf will be on our menu. In our early days of cooking, Eric and I were obsessed with those packs of seasoned wild rice and made them quite frequently. This recipe for garlic rice pilaf has long been a favorite of mine, and I’m glad to have another one in the mix. I used a basic recipe for rice pilaf and made it my own by adding dried cranberries and roasted pistachios. The sweetness of the cranberries and the saltiness of the pistachios make them a wonderful match. I loved the flavor and texture they added to the rice, and I’m already imagining other ways I can change up this dish – maybe with shallot, lemon zest and thyme or something like butternut squash and pecans. With this basic recipe in my pocket, I’ll be making variations of it for every season.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pistachios

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow cooker meals have now entered our regular dinner rotation. There’s no denying the convenience of a slow cooler meal, especially with that little renovation we’re working on. With the hustle and bustle of this season, I think a slow cooker meal is perfect for everyone.

I first made this recipe almost a year ago and have made it a few times since then. I’m happy to report that Clara has enjoyed it every single time and with good reason. It’s one of my favorite slow cooker meals to date. It’s rich and comforting, qualities that are welcome this time of year (even though it’s weirdly warm here today).

I can’t speak to the authenticity of this dish, but I can tell you it’s incredibly gratifying to eat. It’s heavily spiced, and I love that the flavors are more intense than some other slow cooker recipes I’ve tried. This recipe uses chicken thighs, which just fall apart after cooking. Served over a bed of cumin seed rice, this tikka masala is a dinner that I will happily eat again and again.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

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