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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Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese, Candied Almonds, and Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette

I had the best idea.

One night I was craving a hearty salad with sweet-tart, fresh fruit vinaigrette. I’d already made salad dressings with lemon, orange, and tangerine, but I wanted to move out of the citrus family and try something different.

And that’s when inspiration struck – I could transform the classic combination of strawberries and balsamic vinegar into a savory salad dressing, with layer upon layer of flavors.

Juicy, caramelized strawberries, fresh garlic, creamy-sharp Dijon mustard, a tender kiss of wild blackberry honey, and aged balsamic vinegar.

Sadly, this brilliant idea occurred to me five months ago, in the dead of Minnesota winter, when strawberries—if they could be found at all—were dry and wooden.

That left me with 147 long, cold days to dream of ripe, juicy berries. In those 147 days, I wondered just what would happen when you roasted strawberries. I finally had a chance to roast strawberries last week, and as it turns out, this is what it smells like when doves cry.

The strawberry halves gently caramelized in the oven, their juices slowly seeping out and thickening, before they became the foundation of my new favorite salad dressing. I tossed the dressing with romaine hearts and scallions, then topped the greens with roasted chicken, goat cheese, and sweet-n-spicy candied almonds.

It was a very long winter.

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Hearty Lentil Soup

Y’know how sometimes the dumbest thing ever can be hysterically funny, particularly when someone else finds that same dumb thing inexplicably funny?

And how the harder you try to maintain composure, the funnier that stupid thing may seem, until the both of you dissolve in giggles with tears streaming down your cheeks and soda shooting out of your nose?

That’s what it’s like spending time with my friend, Sharee.

She and I took a trip to Los Angeles with my mom and Handsome Greg a coupla years ago, and we savored every opportunity to embarrass them (and ourselves) with our mindless, uncontrollable laughter.

Sharee has since become a most dignified photographer, and she recently sent me these gorgeous photos of her favorite lentil soup, along with the mouth-watering recipe.

Based on the pics, you’d think food photography was her specialty, but she’s actually focused more on maternity, baby, and family portraits.

Check out her portfolio here.

Shoot her an email if you’re looking for a Twin Cities photographer to capture the most beautiful moments in your life. Or if you just need someone to snort root beer with.

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Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers

Welcome to the obligatory Valentine’s Day post!

pie crust crackers
This soup recipe is not fancy or expensive. It doesn’t have lobster or truffles or oysters or chocolate. And other than the adorable heart-shaped pie crust crackers, it’s entirely unsuitable for an elegant, romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
I made it for Handsome Greg’s lunch, so that he could be embarrassed/warm and fuzzy when he nuked it in front of the dude-bros at the office.

Honestly, I think the dude-bros likely had a serious case of lunch envy when Handsome Greg brought in these lovely leftovers. The comfort casserole-turned-soup is rich and creamy, with tender, flaky pie crust crackers. I just want to give it a hug. With my teeth.

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Cheesy Ham, Potato, and Broccoli Casserole

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

Delicate swags of broccoli buds. Tender-crisp morsels of gently braised potato. All swathed in a cheesy cream sauce perfumed with the salty smoke of thick-cut ham.

Baked Casserole

OK, who am I kidding? It’s just a casserole. But still, it broke my heart.

Casserole Ingredients

This morning I scraped spoonful after lovely, heaping spoonful of my hearty casserole into the garbage.

I made this recipe on Saturday afternoon for a week’s worth of lunches. Luckily I sent a couple servings home with Handsome Greg on date night, and I had a serving myself on Sunday, because the rest of it was spoiled when my refrigerator broke down Sunday night.

I called maintenance as soon as I realized my fridge wasn’t properly fridging. The ham put up a valiant fight, but it was too late to save the noble hotdish. I was left with a fridge full of rotten food, and nothing to eat. So much for saving money. Jimmy Johns for dinner. *sigh*

Stairway to Hamven

Stairway to Hamven

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Chicken and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya

I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans. I’m intrigued by the cuisine, and a little afraid of it.

At the aromatic root of savory Cajun and Creole cooking is the holy trinity: a sauté of chopped onion, celery, and green pepper. You can find the trinity in gumbo, maque choux, étouffée, dirty rice, jambalaya, and I totally forgot what I was talking about.

But I’m on the holy trinity do-not-call list because I’m allergic to bell peppers.

Since I’m pretty sure omitting the green peppers from jambalaya will get me kicked out of the foodies club anyway, I decided to further bastardize the original recipe and make it a tad bit healthier. In the interest of my cholesterol level (and throwing convention and authenticity out the window), I used turkey kielbasa in place of the pork sausage.

And did I miss the green peppers? Um, no. Why would I miss food that makes me feel like crap? The turkey kielbasa was just as juicy and lush as smoked sausage should be. Really, it was a delicious dish – rich and flavorful, filling, and just spicy enough without blowing your head off.

I took it for lunch for a week and it reheated just right in the microwave. There was some serious lunch envy in the cafeteria that week.

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Chicken Campanelle with Asparagus in Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Hey, remember back when I had a job? No?

Well, once upon a time, I had a job. Every day at noon, I would walk down to the lunch room, heat up my leftovers, and tell the story of my lunch to my co-workers. And on days I brought in superstar leftovers like this velvety and rich, blue-cheesy casserole, my colleagues in the lunch room came down with a strong case of lunch envy.

I miss those days.

But good news, friends! After nearly three months of unemployment, I am thrilled to enter the field of catering. On a really, really, really small scale.

This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus

Starting this week, I’ll be making lunches for Handsome Greg to take to work. See, Handsome Greg isn’t much of a cook, and he isn’t a planner, and he’s really not a morning person, so he buys his lunch out pretty much every day. The food isn’t particularly healthy and it costs a fortune.

So I spent yesterday afternoon preparing two different lunch menus and packing them up neat in plastic containers to send off with Greg after our date Saturday night. In the interest of Greg’s cholesterol level, the dishes I made this week are not quite as luxurious as the chicken campanelle with asparagus in gorgonzola cream sauce, but I think they may inspire lunch envy with the guys at the office nonetheless.

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