Welcome to 2015 everyone! I'm excited for this year but the end of 2014 has been so busy I've barely had a chance to enjoy it. So I wanted to take a look back at a few favorite meals from the past year. I figure since I did 6 reader favorites, I'll do 6 of my favorites. I'm only including 2014 for this post but you can see my favorites from 2013 here.
Let's get to it!
1) Island Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is quickly making its way to the top of my favorite proteins list. It's so easy to make, so tender, so juicy, so flavorful... I could go on and on. This tenderloin in particular has tons of flavor. There's a spice rub (that includes cinnamon, I mean, come on, how often do you get to use cinnamon on meat?) and then a brown sugar/hot sauce/garlic glaze that is just out of this world, and the whole thing only takes about 30-45 minutes to get on the table. It goes with everything. I love it with seasoned rice and fresh steamed veggies but it also pairs well with heavier sides like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. And bonus! The leftovers are incredible, especially when topping a salad.
2) Peanut Chicken Stir Fry
I am seriously a sucker for Asian flavors. I like anything I can serve with fried rice and the sauce in this stir fry is amazing! I frequently try recipes and think I would add a little more... or Maybe next time I'll leave out the... but not with this recipe. I wouldn't change a thing! The chicken and vegetables are perfectly cooked, juicy and crisp, and the sauce has all the wonderful flavors of soy, sesame, and peanuts. I served this to Nana, Yaya, and Senator and they all loved it too.
3) Barbecue Pulled Pork
This is the perfect example of a recipe that I tweaked until it was more to my taste. The original recipe had far too much salt and vinegar and not enough of the sweetness I associate with barbecue. I know not all barbecue is sweet, but the kind I prefer is. The trick to this barbecue is the slow roasting in the oven. It seriously takes all day to make this and is totally worth the effort. The rub is sweet and a little spicy, the sauce is tangy and also sweet and a little spicy. The best part is the fruitiness provided by the blackberry jam, my personal contribution to the recipe and one I'm quite proud of. This one feeds a crowd but also freezes well. My only complaint is that it's a bit expensive but when I find pork shoulder on sale I find a way to work this into the menu.
4) Crock Pot Chicken Taco Bowls
One of my absolute favorite crock pot meals, I found this on Budget Bytes and have been following Beth ever since. This meal has everything I want in a crock pot meal. It's easy to put together, just dump everything in the crock pot. It's cheap, it was on the menu during the SNAP Challenge and fed 5 people. And best of all it's delicious! I could make this once a month or probably more. My dad in particular really loves it and the best part about making it at Admiral's house is that he makes his special blend of red, brown, and wild rice. Talk about yum!
5) Laughing Cow Spaghetti Pie
How does a little wedge of Laughing Cow cheese change the whole flavor of spaghetti? I don't understand, honestly, but the change is definitely for the better. If you're looking for something that's full of melty, creamy cheese, look no further. The Laughing Cow cheese combined with the Parmesan in the sauce provides the creaminess and the handfuls of mozzarella make it gooey and melty and delicious. All you need is a little side salad and some garlic toast and you have an ideal meal. Bet you didn't know I could rhyme, did you?
6) Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken
I don't think this recipe is getting the credit it deserves. See, I posted this recipe about the time my SD card reader went out on my computer and I had to switch to using my phone for blog photographs. The result was that I only managed to include a single picture on the post that didn't do the recipe justice. I promise that I'll make up for that this coming year. I'll post an update with plenty of pictures so that you can see how amazing this chicken is. It's got a little Asian flavor to it with the soy sauce and hoisin sauce, a tiny bit of spiciness from the crushed red pepper flakes, and the sauce is thickened on the stove with a little corn starch slurry, turning it into a kind of glaze on the chicken. I think what makes the recipe really great is that you use bone in chicken breasts which keeps the chicken from cooking too fast in the crock pot and becoming dry and/or mushy. The bones also impart extra flavor into the sauce. Definitely give this one a try if you get the chance, bone in chicken breasts are really cheap when on sale and the flavor... you can't beat it!
And now I find I lied earlier in the post. I was only going to include 6 of my favorite recipes but then I remembered this recipe and I couldn't decide which of the other 6 I should bump to include it.
7) Mississippi Mud Pie
I frequently forget to post my dessert recipes on here. This is probably the fanciest, most difficult, and most time consuming dessert that I make and it is worth every bit of effort. It's a fantastic combination of crunchy chocolate cookie crust, delicate flourless chocolate cake, decadent homemade dark chocolate pudding, and fluffy fresh whipped cream. The layers are particularly impressive when serving and while I say this recipe is difficult I only mean that there are a lot of steps and several of them include letting things rest or cool which is what makes it time consuming. It takes me two days to get this whole mud pie put together but it goes quick among Aaron's family. His dad loves anything chocolate, the more chocolate the better, and this dessert speaks directly to his sweet tooth, and mine!
And now I believe I'm ready to say goodbye to 2014. Here's to making 2015 even better! Cheers!
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