Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010: October, November, and December

This toffee apple dip is so sweet and creamy, and it's the perfect dipper for tart, crisp Granny Smith apples. I will confess to eating spoonfuls of this right out of the refrigerator.

I tried a lot of different macaroni and cheese recipes this year, since my son is entering that picky toddler phase of eating. The one thing he'll always eat is mac and cheese, and this ranch macaroni and cheese is by far his favorite -- and ours! I love the creamy, cheesy, ranchy goodness of this recipe.

Aside from my mom's meatloaf recipe, this recipe for chipotle cheddar meatloaf is by far my favorite. It's flavorful and spicy, and the gooey cheese and tortilla chips give it the perfect texture.

I love the balance of flavors in this chicken with pesto mushroom cream sauce. It's perfect comfort food, but it's also worthy of company. Win-win!

I tried something different with my pumpkin seeds this year: I took them in a sweet direction rather than a savory one and made these pumpkin pie-spiced pumpkin seeds. Andrew went crazy over these, and Joe and I really liked them too. I'll definitely be roasting them this way from now on!

On the subject of pumpkin, these pumpkin doughnut mini muffins are by far my favorite sweet recipe of the year. I've made these half a dozen times, and everyone who's tried them asks for the recipe. I'm happy to give it out, because these muffins are too delicious to keep to myself!

This black bean and salsa soup is ready, from start to finish, in 10 minutes. The addition of chicken stock makes it taste like it's been cooking a lot longer than that, though. You won't believe how flavorful this soup is!

I made this Southern praline cake for my stepmom's birthday this fall, and it went over incredibly well with everyone who tried it. The icing tastes exactly like a praline, and the cake itself is so moist. My stepmom has already asked that I make this for her every year, and I'm happy to oblige.

I'm not a huge coffee drinker, so these coffee chocolate chunk muffins are a great alternative for me in the mornings. They taste exactly like a mocha, but in muffin form. Delish!

Move over, cornbread: Ever since I discovered this recipe, this Monterey ranch bread has been our preferred side for chili. The bread's topping -- a combination of ranch dressing and tons of cheese -- is so melty and gooey and flavorful, and it's balanced nicely by crisp, buttery bread. We just can't get enough of this stuff.

Our barbecue-loving family adored this BBQ beef shepherd's pie: a mixture of ground beef, vegetables, and barbecue sauce topped with mashed potatoes that have been spiked with ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, and bacon. This one is well on its way to becoming a family favorite!

This salsa ranch burger is my husband's new favorite, and I can absolutely see why. Salsa and cheese is mixed right into the meat, making the burgers incredibly juicy and giving them unbelievable flavor. They're topped with more cheese and a quick sauce made with salsa and ranch dressing. So, so delicious.

This Nutella hot chocolate is a rich, decadent, nutty twist on classic hot chocolate. It's the perfect drink to curl up with on the couch while winter rages outside.

And of course, no Best of 2010 list would be complete without a photo of the absolute best thing I made this year:

From our whole family to yours, Happy New Year. I hope 2011 is filled with blessings and dreams come true for each and every one of you. Thanks for stopping by this year. Your visits and comments mean so much to me, and I'm so excited to share even more delicious goodies with you in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of 2010: July, August, and September

I posted a ton of really delicious things over the summer and early fall months, and I had the hardest time narrowing this list down. Therefore, at the end of this post, you'll find a list of honorable mentions. I don't want anything to be left out! :)

Spinach and artichoke macaroni and cheese. All the flavors of spinach-artichoke dip, mixed up with pasta and tons of cheese. So delicious!

We loved this strawberry cheesecake ice cream. It had a delicious strawberry flavor and, with the addition of cream cheese and graham cracker chunks, it really did taste a lot like cheesecake. It's not a custard-based ice cream, so it's incredibly quick and practically no-fail. I'm trying this recipe with blueberries as soon as it gets warm enough to reasonably eat ice cream again.

This creamy roasted tomato pesto pasta is hands-down my favorite pasta dish of the year. I love all of these flavors, and I could eat this every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy about it.

Rachael Ray's summer sweet corn fettucine tastes like corn chowder all mixed up with pasta. It was a huge hit in our house, and I can't wait until I can get fresh sweet corn so I can make it again!

These cream cheese chicken enchiladas are hands-down our favorite enchiladas. I make these all the time, and we just love them.

This sweet and sour chicken is one of those dishes that surprised me with how good it actually tasted. I didn't have really high expectations, but this has turned out to be one of our favorite meals. It's so easy to make, and it always turns out perfect and delicious.

Peanut butter, chocolate chips, Nutella, and butterscotch chips. I mean, really: What more do I need to say about these triple chocolate scotcheroos? They're amazing!

True to its name, this summer vegetable and pesto tart tastes like summer in your mouth. The combination of zucchini, yellow squash, red onions, tomatoes and basil is to die for.

My grandma's zucchini bread. I love this for sentimental reasons, but it helps that it's also incredibly delicious.

I can't even begin to describe all the reasons I love this shredded buffalo chicken salad. The spicy chicken, crunchy tortilla chips, creamy avocado ranch dressing, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese all combine to make a salad that I just can't get enough of.

These gigantic toffee chocolate chip cookies have such a deep, rich flavor. Their texture is great, too; they get all crispy on the edges while they're baking, but the insides still say soft. There are few things on this earth more delightful than biting into a gooey chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven, and this is the perfect cookie to use for that activity.

Have you tried this cornmeal-crusted chicken with jalapeno popper sauce yet? If not, please do so as soon as possible. You'll want to eat the sauce with a spoon. Trust me.

Yep, barbecue chicken and bacon pasta. It sounds a little strange, but it's so delicious. The sauce is tangy and sweet, smoky and creamy and cheesy. I can't get enough of this stuff.

Honorable Mentions for these months (as if this wasn't already long enough):

Lemon tassies
Chicken in creamy carrot sauce
Strawberry shortcake cake
Hot Italian turkey sandwiches
Chocolate zucchini cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting
Greek-style chicken skillet
Fruit and yogurt muffins (Andrew's favorites!)
Nutella mousse tartlets
Chicken cordon bleu in pastry

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010: April, May and June

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's recipe review. I'm really having fun going through my archives, remembering all the delicious things we've eaten this year. I think many of these dishes will be showing up again on my menu plans in the coming weeks, simply because I'm craving all of them now!

This chicken BLT salad with buttermilk dressing is my favorite salad ever. I just love the way all the flavors work together in the salad, and they pair so well with creamy, refreshing buttermilk dressing. Yum!

These white chicken enchiladas with green chile sour cream sauce are by far the most popular recipe I've posted on my blog this year, and they definitely deserve all the attention they've gotten. They're absolutely delicious, and they're some of the easiest enchiladas I've made, too.

This creamy tortellini with spinach and tomatoes is my kind of food: very few ingredients but still really flavorful, and very quick and easy to prepare. This is one of my family's favorite weeknight meals. Even the baby likes it!

I've been obsessed with roasted vegetables all year long, and earlier this year I got the idea to stick them on a sub roll with tons of provolone cheese. Thus, these subs were born. We always put tons of pesto mayonnaise on ours to add an additional layer of flavor. Delish!

Yep, another muffin. It's not the first to show up in my favorites of 2010, and it probably won't be the last. I love these banana berry muffins because they're so moist and delicious, and really versatile too. You can use any type of berry -- or any fruit, really -- that you like. My favorite berry to use for these so far is strawberries. I'm trying blueberries next!

Pepperoni pizza puffs! Sorta like pizza rolls, but much better for you -- and maybe even more delicious. Again, these little guys are really versatile. Use any pizza toppings you like. These are a really easy and fun dinner, especially if you have a little one who loves dipping things like I do.

Jalapeno popper macaroni and cheese, better known in our house by my husband as One Of Your Best Ideas Ever. All the flavors of jalapeno poppers in a delicious, creamy macaroni and cheese -- what's not to love? The answer is NOTHING.

The first time I saw this sweet grape salad, I knew I had to make it. I was so intrigued by the combination of flavors and ingredients, and I was so pleased to discover that it was just as delicious as I thought it would be. I love the contrast of the sweet, creamy dressing and the crisp pop of the grapes. This is the kind of food that just screams summer to me!

This Southwestern hash with fried eggs is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I'm craving a hearty breakfast or brunch. It even makes for a delicious dinner. There's just something about a hash topped with a gooey fried egg that gets me every time, and I love this Mexican-inspired version. Joe prefers it with sausage, but I actually think it tastes better without any meat at all.

This cheesy broccoli and rice probably seems like a silly thing to include on a list of the year's favorites, because it's nothing new or different. Everyone makes a version of this, right? This version, though: It's incredible. Two kinds of cheese and tons of sour cream make this so creamy and irresistible. It's a great side dish as-is, but if you throw in some chicken it also makes a great main dish.

I've made these cheddar biscuits more times than I can count, and I'm just going to throw this out there: They're way better than the well-known Red Lobster biscuits that inspired them. We love these little pillows of cheesy, garlicky deliciousness!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best of 2010: January, February, and March

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I just can't believe it's almost 2011. I've really enjoyed sharing new recipes with all of you this year, and I can't wait to see what next year holds for this little blog of mine! I thought I'd spend this week highlighting some of my favorite recipes of the year, sharing three months' worth of favorites every day for the rest of this week.

Chicken and cheese crescent chimichangas. They're not the prettiest things to look at, but man, are they ever delicious. They remind me a lot of the savory sopapillas served at my favorite Mexican restaurant. This dish became a quick family favorite.

I first made these healthy morning muffins for Andrew's daycare snack day back in January, and I've made them almost every month for his snack day since then. The kids absolutely love them. And since they're full of good stuff like raisins, carrots, bananas, and oats, they're a pretty healthy snack for them, too.

These chubby hubby cookies are a wink and a nudge to Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream, and they're packed with some of my favorite flavors. Peanut butter, pretzels, and chocolate combine to give these cookies that sweet-salty taste I just love.

As a true lover of broccoli soup in all its forms (including the canned stuff; I've been known to eat that for lunch), I have to say that this broccoli-cheddar soup is the best I've tried. It's so flavorful and silky and creamy and cheesy. I always top ours with some croutons for a little crunch.

Since I first discovered it back in February, this Texas fudge cake has been my go-to chocolate cake recipe. There's nothing fancy about it; it only calls for common pantry ingredients, but you won't believe how good it is. And don't even get me started on the frosting!

With only three ingredients, this spicy sausage dip couldn't be easier to prepare. I've made it a lot this year, and my husband just requested that I make it again for New Year's Eve. I'm happy to oblige!

I've made these pulled chicken suiza sandwiches so much that I don't even need the recipe anymore. These sandwiches are so delicious, and if you use store-bought rotisserie chicken, they're ready in 10 minutes. You can't beat that for a weeknight dinner!

Not only are these individual shrimp pot pies one of the best recipes of 2010: They may actually be my very favorite recipe of 2010. I could go on and on about how delicious they are. The sauce is savory and sweet and so creamy, and the crispy puff pastry is the perfect shell for the succulent filling. So good.

I got this recipe for rigatoni with chicken, bacon and mushrooms from a friend, and we all just absolutely love this dish. The salty bacon, earthy mushrooms, and sweet basil all work so well together. The sauce is a thick tomato-based sauce with a little bit of cream and a touch of apple juice for some fruity sweetness. This is one of the most-requested pasta dishes in my house for sure!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chocolate Milk Cookies for Santa

I know I said I wasn't going to post again until after Christmas, but I just had to share these cookies my oldest son and I made this morning for Santa. When I asked him a couple of weeks ago what kind of cookies he wanted to make for Santa this year, he told me, "Chocolate milk cookies." I was determined to make this happen.

I immediately thought of these cookies, which use strawberry milk powder. I figured they'd work just as well with chocolate milk powder instead, and they did. To really up the chocolate milk factor, I added a chocolate milk glaze to the cookies when they came out of the oven, and then we gave them a generous dose of festive sprinkles:

Andrew loved helping me out with these cookies, and I think it's clear what his favorite part of the process was:

Hey, Santa visits every child in the world. Some germs are to be expected, right?

These little cookies turned out to be absolutely delicious. I think my husband Santa is really going to love them, and I can see them becoming a yearly tradition for sure!

Chocolate Milk Cookies

adapted from

2 cups
all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chocolate milk powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons chocolate milk
Red and green sugar or sprinkles for decorating, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, chocolate milk powder, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually add in flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten cookies with the back of a spoon.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Combine powdered sugar and chocolate milk. Glaze cooled cookies, then garnish with red and green sugar or sprinkles if desired.