It seems like 2012 went by so quickly. A lot happened for Boomer and I this year. I finished graduate school and I moved halfway across the country to start a new job. Along the way I tried out lots of great new recipes and completely fell in love with my ice cream maker.
Here are a few of my favorites from the last year:
Tomato Basil and Parmesan Soup
I make this soup on a regular basis and still haven’t gotten tired of it. The soup can be made in a crock-pot which makes it the perfect weeknight meal.
I love having lasagna for dinner in the winter, it’s so warm and filling. This kale version is one of my favorites, and the recipe can be easily adapted to use whatever vegetables are in your fridge. It also re-heats well!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
There’s really no way I could leave these thick, chewy, peanut butter filled cookies off my ‘best of’ list for this year. This is one of those recipes that I know I can make for nearly any event and they’ll be well received.
Baked Potato Soup
Of all the soup recipes I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot, this might be the one I make most often.
Red Berry Vinaigrette
I started making my own salad dressing this summer and I’m so glad I did! The bright berry flavors in this dressing can’t even be compared to any store-bought dressing that I’ve tried.
Spicy Thai Noodles
This pasta dish is great any time of year, but I especially enjoyed it in the summer. It is incredibly flavorful, but still light enough for a warm summer night.
S’mores Ice Cream
I really could have made a ‘best of’ list that just included ice cream this year. I had so much fun experimenting with my ice cream maker, and this was one of my favorites!
Raspberry White Chocolate Cake
The cake I made for my cousin’s wedding turned out so well and it is definitely the thing I’m most proud of from last year. I loved the combination of the pound cake, raspberry filling and white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream!
Caramel Apple Crumb Bars
I think I made these bars at least 4 times this fall, and if that isn’t enough to vouch for a recipe I’m not sure what is! This recipe has everything I was looking for in an apple bar- a delicious crust, flavorful apple filling, and a crumb topping.
Cheddar Swirl Rolls
I experimented with this recipe once earlier this month and then made them again for Christmas where everyone enjoyed them.
Gingersnap Ice Cream
Of all the ice cream flavors I made this year, I think this is my favorite. I loved how well the molasses and ginger flavors carried through in the ice cream base, and the crunchy cookies were the perfect complement to the creamy ice cream.
Do you guys know what happened over the weekend?
It was my one year blogaversary. Whoa. It still kind of blows me away when I get an email telling me someone has commented on my post, or ‘liked’ something I’ve put on facebook (shameless plug for facebook page). I’ve had such a great time over the last year. Trying to blog on a regular basis has really pushed me to try new recipes in the kitchen. They haven’t all been successes, but I’ve learned a lot and eaten some delicious food along the way.
Do you know what else happened over the weekend? I got to bake a toooon of cupcakes for my cousin’s wedding! I know a lot of people bake a cute cake or cupcakes to celebrate the anniversary of their blog, and if I hadn’t been in the middle of baking 300 cupcakes and a wedding cake on Saturday, I would have done that. Instead, I was up to my eyebrows in Swiss meringue buttercream and candied lemon peel so I just had to ‘settle’ for having one of the cupcakes that wasn’t quite pretty enough to pass muster for the wedding display. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll have several posts about the process and recipes I used to churn out that many cupcakes, so stay tuned!
This spring my cousin’s lovely fiance asked me if I would do the baking for their wedding. I had to think about it for a couple of days to figure out if I could pull off the logistics of living halfway across the country from where I’d need to serve cake and cupcakes, but of course I was incredibly excited about the opportunity to bake for their wedding.
The wedding is coming up in a few weeks, so last weekend I spent several days in the kitchen practicing the recipes I plan to use and making sure the garnishes I’d pictured in my head would work as well as I’d hoped. One of the cupcake recipes that I’ll be using is for lemon-blueberry cupcakes. I love candied lemon peel and thought it would be a simple and elegant garnish for some of the cupcakes.
Prior to this weekend I had never tried making candied lemon peel before, but these turned out really well. The process is time-consuming, but not particularly difficult. You can definitely multi-task while they’re cooking, so it’s perfect to make the candied lemon peel when you’re already planning to be in the kitchen working on other things. The lemon peels came out with a chewy texture and a light lemon flavor, they would be a beautiful garnish on cupcakes, cake or frosted cookies.
Candied Lemon Peel
- 4 lemons, washed
- 4 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
- 4 cups water
- Quarter the lemons and remove the pulp. Slice each of the quartered piece of lemon into an additional 4 slices, so you’ll have 16 slices of peel per lemon. Use a sharp knife to scrape out the excess pith (the white part) and discard.
- Place the strips in a medium sized saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and drain them. Repeat the process a second and third time by covering the peels with cold water, boiling, and draining. Set the peels aside.
- Pour 4 cups of water into the saucepan and combine with 4 cups of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Use a wet pastry brush to wash the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Add the peels to the boiling syrup and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer gently for about 1 hour until the peels are translucent. Turn off the heat and allow the peels to cool in the syrup.
- Once cooled, use a slotted spoon to transfer the peels to a paper towel lined tray. Wipe off the excess liquid, then pour about a cup of sugar in a large rimmed plate and toss the peels in the sugar to coat. Place the sugar coated peels on a drying rack and allow to dry for several hours. Store in an airtight container.
I’ve had so much fun cooking and photographing different recipes since starting this blog in September. I love reading the comments you all leave, they honestly make my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I post, you all are awesome I know the last few weeks have been full of dessert recipes, but I promise there are some good non-dessert recipes coming up in the next couple weeks!
In the meantime, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite recipes from this year-
Chocolate Biscoff Brownies- these brownies were one of the first recipes I tried using Biscoff Spread and I’ve been hooked ever since!
Corn and Cheese Chowder- when I tried this recipe for the first time in November it became an instant favorite. I’ve made it several times since then and have no doubt I’ll make it many more times before winter is over!
Mini Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Potato Quiches- These little Quiches make an easy and healthy breakfast (or dinner!). They can also be made ahead of time and frozen, then re-heated in the microwave for a quick breakfast-on-the-go.
Pumpkin Caramel Coffeecake- this recipe is hands down the ‘family favorite’ of the year. I’ve made it quite a few times over the holidays and when I suggested that I try out a new coffee cake recipe for breakfast tomorrow morning I hit serious resistance. Needless to say, we’ll be having Pumpkin Caramel Coffeecake. Again
General Tso’s Tofu- It’s hard to beat this gingery, garlicy sauce over some sauteed vegetables and crispy fried tofu. What’s extra awesome is that this sauce freezes really well, so you have make it ahead of time and have a delicious meal on a busy weeknight!