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!

Not-Rachel Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

I had this great idea to turn the classic deli sandwich, The Rachel, into a grilled cheese. And then I remembered that I don’t really care for sauerkraut. And I’m not exactly crazy about Swiss cheese. So I substituted spinach for the sauerkraut and provolone for the Swiss, and I was left with a delicious grilled not-Rachel sandwich. The pickle-y-ness of the Russian dressing is not to be missed.

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Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

Pepperoni pizza + grilled cheese sandwich = Really? You even have to ask? This delightful lunch provides the spicy, tangy flavors of pizza wrapped in the buttery crunch of a grilled cheese sandwich.

The salami sandwich I posted yesterday came out a little oily, so I used turkey pepperoni slices instead of regular pork pepperoni, and the lower-fat substitution did the trick. Turkey pepperoni has the flavor and texture of pork pepperoni, but with no neon-orange oil slick.

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Turkey, Brie and Pear-Apple Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

OK. I admit it was pretty much a given that turkey, brie, and pear-apple butter would make for a stellar grilled cheese sandwich. But did any of you stop and think about the bread? Did you even bother to consider how the choice of bread could completely change the taste of the sandwich?

I thought not.

So I’m asking you, as a favor, please grill this sandwich – tender deli turkey, oozing brie, and sweet pear-apple butter – on savory, pungent caraway rye bread. And please, please enjoy the earthy perfume of toasted caraway seeds in the air when the buttered bread hits the griddle. Could you just do this one little thing for me?

Thanks.

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Turkey Club Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Chipotle Mayo

Grilled Cheese 2: Electric Boogaloo

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

turkey club open
Take two on grilled cheese was messy, but yummy. There were lots of great flavors — some of my favorites! — but I’m sad to say, there was something missing. It could’ve used something bright and fresh, like cilantro, celery leaves, or lime juice, to balance the smokey heat and rich, cheesy, salty, bacon goo. A little acid and/or herbs, and this would’ve been another winner.

turkey club grilled

Turkey Club Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Chipotle Mayo
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Bake Up, Little Suzy
Prep time: 8 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 23 mins
Serves: 1
A sandwich and a salad in one! (No, I’m not kidding. OK, maybe a little.)
Ingredients
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Turkey (I used herb roasted turkey tenderloin)
  • Bacon
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Avocado
  • Butter
  • Chipotle Mayo (recipe below)
  • Chipotle Mayo
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • Pinch of ground oregano
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine mayo, sour cream, oregano, garlic powder, and chipotle sauce. Mix well.
  2. Top each slice of bread with cheese.
  3. Add the turkey, bacon, avocado, and spread on a thin layer of chipotle mayo.
  4. Close it up, and butter the outsides of the bread.
  5. Griddle on medium heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.

 

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwich open
I’m kicking off National Grilled Cheese Month (yes, this is a real thing in the world) with a lesson in balance. My first grilled cheese has it all: crispy, golden-butter bread; gooey, salty jack cheese with spicy pops of jalapeno; savory, herbaceous turkey tenderloin; and a sweet glaze of strawberry jam.

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwich open
And since this is Grilled Cheese Post: The First, I’ll lay down a few ground rules I like to follow in my own grilled cheesing:

  1. Begin with 2 slices of bread that are roughly the same size and shape.
  2. For even toasting, butter the bread (on the OUTSIDE of the sandwich), not the griddle.
  3. Top the bread with cheese. For optimum meltage, nothing should come between the cheese and the bread.
  4. Keep sauces and condiments in the center of the sandwich to avoid sogging the bread.
  5. Grill sandwiches with hard cheeses over low heat to avoid burning the bread before the cheese melts. Dome if necessary.
  6. Grill sandwiches with soft cheeses over high heat to toast the bread quickly before the cheese liquefies.

These are only guidelines. Grilled cheese means never having to say you’re sorry.

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Bake Up, Little Suzy
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 1
Sweet, salty, spicy, and savory — the perfect grilled cheese!
Ingredients
  • White bread
  • Butter
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Turkey (I used 4 slices herb roasted turkey tenderloin)
  • Strawberry jam
Instructions
  1. Top each slice of bread with cheese.
  2. Add the turkey and spread on a thin layer of jam,
  3. Close it up, and butter the outsides of the bread.
  4. Griddle on medium heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.

 

Pepperoni-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken
The first Valentine’s Day that Handsome Greg and I spent together came just two weeks after we met. In that lovely fortnight, we shared lingering dinners, stories of our respective pasts, several bottles of wine, and a mutual love of Ralph Wiggum. We quoted sweet, hapless Ralph to each other in nearly every situation, appropriate or not (“Sleep? Yippee! That’s where I’m a Viking!”).

Baked Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken
Valentine’s Day that year crept up way too early in our budding relationship. How do you celebrate the big V after only two weeks of dating? Greg paced the greeting card aisle on date night, bombarded with vows of everlasting love, and jokes about sex and chocolate. Not a single card was suitable for a promising romance in its infancy, and he left the gift shop empty-handed.

Pepperoni-Stuffed Chicken
Hours later, I opened his card, and my heart filled with laughter and other cured meats. He’d made a card himself, with a picture of Ralph Wiggum in front of a train, and the words, “I choo, choo, choose you.” That was eleven years ago.

Pepperoni in Chicken
Between our anniversary, Greg’s birthday (also this week), and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this time of year is a Greg-and-Suzy Love Fest. So on Saturday, I’m making one of his favorite dishes: chicken stuffed with mozzarella and pepperoni, baked in marinara. The pepperoni, sauce, and cheese keep the boneless, skinless chicken breasts nice and juicy. I originally made this same dish with salami, and I found it a bit too oily. So I replaced the salami with turkey pepperoni and, as predicted, the spicy pepperoni charmed the pants off of the chicken. The pepperoni and the chicken subsequently, um, got a room.

Butterflied Chicken

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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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White Bean and Turkey Chili with Rainbow Chard

It seems early to share a chili recipe.

I’m afraid I’m tempting fate, daring Minnesota winter to make a premature appearance, by posting a warm, cozy one-dish meal while the State Fair still provides summer bliss on a stick.

I originally made this recipe—a perfect hybrid of chili and Italian wedding soup – last blizzardy March, so I think I’m safe. Also? I’m not likely powerful enough to control the weather, even with an extraordinarily delicious recipe.

This was the sort of dish I made back in March, when I still had a job. I’d spend Sunday afternoon cooking up a big pot of something to pack up in plastic containers for lunch through the week, and hope that I didn’t get totally sick of it by Wednesday, abandon my leftovers, and make an emergency run to Subway for lunch.

The week I made this delicious chili-soup ended far too soon, without the slightest sandwich temptation.

When I make it again (even though I NEVER repeat recipes) I’ll probably substitute a box of frozen chopped spinach for the pricey rainbow chard.

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meatloaf variations for the spinster aunt

I’m a spinster aunt, so I do a lot of cooking for one. I’ll make a big dish of something on Sunday afternoons, and bring it for lunch every day for the coming week. It’s convenient, cheap, and generally pretty healthy, but lately I’ve found myself stifled creatively by this arrangement. If I make something with a very distinct flavor, say rosemary, then by Wednesday I never want to eat rosemary again. So I end up using inoffensive, nondescript flavors that I know won’t grate on me in a couple days.

I am in a cooking rut.

There were no pretty pictures of the meatloaf.

So in an effort to avoid a mid-week lunch mutiny (i.e. trip to Subway for a turkey sammich), I decided to make three different varieties of meatloaf this week, and bake them up as adorable meatloaf cupcakes.

The timing is perfect, really. The heat just kicked on in my apartment building this week, which can only mean one thing: it’s gravy season! The heater sounds like it’s trying to reach me via Morse code through the entire night, so I’ve been in a grumpy, sleep-deprived mood for days that only the gravy can soothe.

I would’ve liked to have used a sautéed onion, but I didn’t have any. So I took my original recipe and added onion powder and olive oil.

Day One I ate the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger loaf. It tasted just like a BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, without the bun. It’s moist, gooey, sweet, smoky, and salty.

I ate the Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese loaf on Day Two, and it didn’t fare quite as well as leftovers. The flavors were fantastic, but the texture was not as great as it was the night before. It was drier, and a little crumbly.

On Day Three, I tried the Honey Chipotle loaf. I wanted to avoid the leftover texture issues I experienced the day before, so I cut the microwave reheating time in half. That absolutely solved the problem. While Day Three meatloaf was not quite as succulent as fresh-out-of-the-oven meatloaf, it was far better than the Day Two microwaved-into-submission meatloaf.

The Honey Chipotle meatloaf had other issues, though. I was concerned that it would be too spicy, too smoky, or too sweet, so I only used 1/2 teaspoon each of the honey and chipotle sauce. The chipotle left the tiniest sensation of heat in my mouth, but was otherwise undetectable. There was no sweetness at all. Next time I make this recipe, I will double both the honey and the chipotle. I might also add a tablespoon of chopped cilantro for a little freshness.

Recipe below the fold

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