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Monday, January 20, 2014

A Few of My Favorites

I've already shared with you what the reader favorites from last year are, but I didn't get a chance to put my two cents in. I tried approximately 50 new recipes last year, some I liked and some were just okay. I was proud that I only had one total screw up.

I learned a lot about cooking in 2013. I practiced bread-making and now I have it almost down to a science. (I've actually only had one bread failure.) I learned how to cut up a whole raw chicken and how to make stock. I made my first homemade pudding. I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to plenty of new recipes this year. (I'm super excited about maybe learning to make cheesecake since Dad's girlfriend is so good at it.)

So this is my top 6 recipes of the year. These are the recipes that I enjoyed so much that they have become a regular part of my menu rotation and recipes that make plenty of leftovers so that I have lunch for a few days after they've been made.

1) Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet

This was on the readers' top six as well. This is probably my absolute favorite recipe right now. Since Aaron doesn't care for it I make it for lunch for myself and the kiddo and she seems to be quite fond of it as well. I appreciate the simplicity of the meal, the easy clean up, and most of all it is bursting with flavor. I've cut the cheese from the original recipe and traded beef smoked sausage for turkey smoked sausage making it relatively healthy. Pair it with a side salad and a yeast roll and the meal is just perfect.

2) Cheesy Taco Soup

Look at that awful picture, eek! I'll have to do an update on this one soon because  my original post was modified to suit Aaron. Again, he's not fond of this soup so I make it for Yaya and my brother sometimes. When I first tried this recipe I was surprised by how quickly it all came together. I'm used to making fried chicken and mashed potatoes which takes a lot of prep work and a long time to cook so when I managed to get dinner on the table in less than half an hour I was thrilled. Hot, cheesy, almost chili is ideal for cold evenings and it's hearty and filling.

3) Spaghetti and Meatballs

This recipe is so versatile. I've used it for meatball sliders that were out of this world, and I'm usually not a fan of meatball sandwiches. I made a double recipe for the whole family for Christmas. I've used ground sirloin and ground turkey, made mini meatballs and served them over small pasta for Bailey, and I even use the sauce recipe to make my lasagna. No matter what part of the recipe I use or how it is served this recipe is always a hit with the family.

4) Loaded Potato and Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Man, how can you go wrong with spicy roasted potatoes and chicken covered with cheese and bacon? This is by far Aaron's favorite recipe that I have ever tried. He would have me make it every night I think. I've even planned this for dinner on his birthday. The full recipe will feed us for 2-3 meals, making for a really great lunch the day after. You can even drizzle it with a little ranch dressing to cool the spice of the potatoes and... mmmm... sorry lost my train of thought.

5) Herb Crusted Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

My mouth is watering just typing the title of this recipe. Who doesn't like pan fried chicken with cream sauce? Put it over a bed of angel hair pasta with some steamed broccoli on the side and wow! I've mentioned it before, but I think I could eat cardboard if it was smothered in this sauce. It's a bit like a tomato Alfredo sauce. This sauce is the reason I switched from using canned Parmesan to fresh grated and I will never turn back.

6) Spiced Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Sweet Potatoes

I was absolutely blown away by this recipe. I was skeptical about combining chili powder and cumin with sweet potatoes and apples, but it really works. I also have a new found love for sweet potatoes. I've never been fond of the Thanksgiving yams with the marshmallow topping. I'm over the moon for roasted sweet potatoes now, including baked sweet potato fries, which I think would be lovely with this spice mixture on them.

So there you have it, my favorite recipes from last year. If you've been wanting to try something from the blog I would definitely start with one of these. Enjoy!

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