Top Ten Recipes of 2012

Happy Holidays, imaginary internet friends! And congratulations on surviving the end of the world. Now I’m off to Barnes and Noble to demand a refund for my Mayan wall calendar. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take another look at the 10 most popular recipes I shared this year.

S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce

 

Asparagus Lasagna Slice

Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon

 

Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche

 

Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

 

Cookies and Milk

Toffee Cashew Cookies

 

pie crust crackers

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers

 

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

And the most popular recipe of 2012:

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Here’s to a delicious (and gooey) new year!

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Pear Napoleons with Bourbon Caramel

It’s embarrassing how much time I spend thinking about recipes I want to try. I’ll start with the germ of an idea (say, a pear dessert for Mom’s birthday dinner). Then I’ll spend weeks – maybe months – considering the options: pear tart, pear cobbler, pear cake, pear sorbet… And when I finally decide on the perfect recipe, I abandon the idea entirely because I’m terrified of making a mistake. (Yeah, I never said my process was a healthy one.)

In this case, the paralyzing fear was invoked by the menace of homemade caramel sauce—it’s the easiest thing in the world to ruin. I think if I ever get around to recording another CD, it’ll be called Ways to Ruin Caramel, with forlorn country ballads like “Too Runny,” “Too Hard,” “Bitter and Scorched,” and “Grains of Sand.”

It took no less than three glasses of cheap wine for me to face my caramelized fear, and I’m so drunk—I mean, I’m so happy that I did! This caramel sauce is the perfect texture (creamy but not too thick), with the subtlest bite of sea salt and just enough booze. *hiccup*

The other components of the recipe – poached pears, sweetened mascarpone, flaky puff pastry, and toasted pistachios—are a cinch to prepare, yet every bit as delicious as the bourbon caramel.

Continue reading for the Poached Pear Napoleons with Bourbon Caramel Sauce recipe

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Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche

Well, I feel just terrible.

When I posted the Lime Chicken Lettuce Boats with Avocado Salad and Chimichurri recipe, I made you all a promise – I promised you the recipes for the accompanying Argentina-inspired dessert. That was eleven days ago.

It just breaks my heart to think of you waiting a week and a half for these recipes. I imagine you must’ve leapt from your bed each morning, an hour before your alarm clock rang, tripping over the cat as you lunged for the computer, praying for a fast internet connection, and a creamy, crispy, caramel and cinnamon dessert.

From the moment you first read about this dessert, you must’ve been haunted by dreams of flaky, tender puff pastry sticks with a crunchy candy coating, and cold, velvety cinnamon ice cream slathered in homemade dulce de leche.

As the days crawled by at an excruciating pace, your thoughts became darker. Why hasn’t Bake Up, Little Suzy shared the dessert recipe she promised me? Is she keeping it from me?

Friends, I have no excuse. I’ve just been really busy and had no time or energy for writing.

I’m pretty sure you’ll forget all about this unpleasantness just as soon as the aroma of homemade dulce de leche begins to fill your kitchen. It smells like, what’s the word…? Comfort. Security. What does your 401k smell like? I’ll tell you: it smells like milk simmered with sugar.

And once the candy-coated puff pastry strips begin turning golden brown in the oven, this whole misunderstanding will be a distant memory.

Continue reading for the Baked Churros, Cinnamon Ice Cream, and Dulce de Leche recipes.

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Toffee Cashew Cookies

Cookies and Milk

Every year for as long as I can remember, Mom and I make a trip out to Shakopee to get our nerd on at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. No, we don’t dress up in corsets and snoods, but we thoroughly enjoy the brave souls who do.

As soon as we arrive, we make a careful plan for the day. We see all our favorite acts – the Elizabethan Syngers (yes, with a Y), the Fandazzi Fire-Eaters, and the dulcimer player Mom has a crush on – and in between performances we admire the lovingly-crafted artisan wares. Then we eat tempura veggies and sip cheap red wine from ye olde plastic cups.

At the end of the day, when we’re full and tired and covered in dust, we make a final stop to buy a treat for the road at my very favorite booth, The King’s Nuts (ba-dum ching). As much as I enjoy Pearson’s classic salted nut roll, the pre-made treat languishing in a vending machine for who-knows-how-long simply can’t compete with the King’s fresh, handmade confection – tender nougat dipped in soft caramel and rolled in salty-sweet cashews.

One recent snowy afternoon, I was dreaming of sunny days at Ren Fest, when I was overwhelmed by a craving for the King’s sweet, tender, salty nuts. Why are you snickering?

Cashews

I was considering a run to the gas station for a candy bar, when I remembered the toffee chips and cashews in the pantry. An hour later, I was pulling crispy-chewy cookies from the oven. I folded a warm cookie in half in my hands, and it broke along the  curvy salted borders of the cashews. The sticky toffee bits fought to keep the two halves together.

Craving satisfied; crisis averted.

Continue reading for the Toffee Cashew Cookies recipe

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Caramel Apple Crisp

My schoolgirl days are long passed, but I still imagine that I live on an academic calendar. When autumn arrives, I feel like buying notebooks and pencils, and starting something new. So welcome to my start-of-the-school-year autumn project, Galley Kitchen. I’ll be sharing my own recipes, trying others’ recipes, and learning to take decent food photos.

The weather in Minnesota has just begun to cool off, and the summer humidity is lifting. The air is crisp, the skies are blue and clear, and the Minnesota State Fair is finally ending. I live a few blocks from the Fair, and for 10 days each year it’s the bane of my existence. The annual neighborhood takeover of cars and pedestrians makes me want to use angry emoticons.

For my inaugural food blog post, I’m stepping entirely out of character and making something simple: a commercial recipe that I’ve made before. In honor of autumn’s impending arrival, I’m making Caramel Apple Crisp, recipe courtesy of Kraft. (Don’t judge.) They’re very sweet and gooey, with a crispy oatmeal crust and topping.

The butter I left out on the dining room table to soften had some suspicious imprints in it, so I got another stick from the fridge and melted it in the microwave. If I was just cooking for myself, I’d probably go ahead and use butter that my cat had licked, but this is a dish to share.

After I added the melted butter to the brown sugar I combined all the ingredients in the crust/topping, and squished it all together with my hands, until it was soft and crumbly.

I’m a little slow at the peeling and chopping, so I tossed the apple chunks in lemon juice as I  chopped them to keep them from turning brown.

If Greg decides to go to the State Fair today, I’m going to be his Park-and-Ride to the fairgrounds. I’ll wrap up some apple crisp for him to snack on with Dusty in the middle of the night.

Recipe after the fold

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