Sunday, December 31, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Most Popular Recipes of 2017

Hooray! It's reader favorites day! I love looking back at which posts got the most attention in 2017 and there are some winning recipes here! Without further ado, here are the most popular posts of 2017 - a great mix of main dishes AND treats! Everything in moderation, right?

Seafood Lasagna

This was our New Year's special dinner in 2017. And it is worthy of a special occasion! Shrimp, scallops, crab, combined with spinach and a cheesy cream sauce with lasagna noodles - I'm practically drooling just thinking about it.

Scandinavian Almond Bars

These have been one of my favorite cookies for a long time, and I finally got around to posting about them! I love making them at Christmastime, but the truth is, they are not particularly Christmas-y, so you can make them anytime. What they are is downright delicious. And addictive.

Eggnog Donuts

These donuts are a super fun way to use eggnog! Besides drinking it of course. I love baking with eggnog, and I loved the result I got with Eggnog Cake, so I knew these donuts would be a winner. They won wave reviews at a holiday brunch. Start planning for next Christmas now!

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad

This is my favorite deli salad from an "upscale" grocer here in my town. So I was thrilled when they published the recipe so I could make it at home. Since posting it, people have commented about how they make it their own, including adding nuts like cashews or pecans.

French Silk Brownies

Isn't fun to doctor up a mix and come up with something extraordinary? That's how I feel about this dessert. It starts with a boxed brownie mix, but you'd never know it once you top it with french silk amazingness. Take this wonderful dessert to your next party and you will be the talk of the town.

Go on over to Sarah's and see more great "countdown" posts!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Crock Pot and Instant Pot Recipes of 2017

More main dishes are on the docket today as we look back on the best recipes made in a crock pot or Instant Pot. I read that the Instant Pot was one of the best selling Christmas gifts this year, and it's no wonder - I have loved everything that I've cooked in it, even if I did have to "practice" a bit to get the timings exactly right. Here are two recipes for the IP and one for the "old" workhorse, the crock pot. (And you have an IP, you can always use the slow cooker function!)

Creamy White Chicken Chili

We loved this chicken chili so much that I made it several times in the weeks following this post. I love that you can make it in the crock pot or on the stove, whatever fits your schedule best!

Sweet Chili Chicken

I love how chicken thighs turn out when cooked in the pressure cooker. And now I like them even better when they're placed under the broiler for a few minutes to really "seal in" the flavors and texture. Now I can use this "method" with all different sauce adaptations - it's a whole new world!

Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

As I mention in the original post, I've never been a huge fan of pork chops because it is so difficult to cook them well. Not anymore! They turn out beautifully in the Instant Pot - and they are tender enough to cut with a fork! If you don't care for mushrooms, just leave them out - this dish will still elicit tons of praise at your dinner table!

Thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for hosting the Countdown!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Desserts of 2017

Ooh, how do you narrow it down? It's so hard to have a label like "best." Aren't all desserts really great? But since I am forced to, for this challenge (ahem), I chose the very best from the past year. Luckily, more desserts are included on Sunday in the "most popular" category. Phew!

Again, thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for hosting the Countdown! And without further ado, here are the best desserts:

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tart

Oh this tart. I even ate it for breakfast one day it was that good. It DOES have fruit. AND cream cheese. So that's breakfast material, right? I loved, loved, loved the crust on this tart. The whole thing is just amazingly scrumptious.

White Chocolate Brownies

I really like finding recipes that are a little different from things I have made before. Don't get me wrong, I love the tried and true, too, but these brownies are just different enough that they will spice up your life in a new way.

S'mores Ice Cream Cake

This fun ice cream cake gave me an excuse to buy those little marshmallow bits. It was all I could do to not pour them directly in my mouth; they are so good - like miniature Lucky Charms marshmallows but just all the same shape and color! Anyway, add those to some grahams cereal, chocolate ice cream and chocolate and you have this impressive and tasty dessert!

Coconut Bundt Cake

Oftentimes, the simplest desserts can be impressive and delicious. This bundt starts with a cake mix and gets doctored up with sour cream, pudding, and plenty of coconut in the cake and in the frosting. It's enough to make you feel like you're in the tropics, even if it is 5 degrees below zero. (That's how cold it is here today, and I'm not even kidding. I guess I need to make this cake again.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Main Dishes of 2017

In today's look back at the best main dishes, TWO soups made the list! We do like soup at our house, and these two are awesome. There will be more main dishes coming up in the CrockPot/Instant Pot category (Saturday) and on the Most Popular Posts (Sunday) so stay tuned!

Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp

This soup is SUCH a winner. This is my favorite way to eat butternut squash, and we love the combination of squash and curry. I've made it with rice noodles and jasmine rice, and later in the fall I tried it with couscous. The texture of couscous is PERFECT with this soup - so if you make it, I hope you'll try it too!

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

We really enjoyed this chicken dish; and then I made it with shrimp a few weeks later and it was equally good!

Miso Meatball and Noodle Soup

I introduced my family to pho on vacation this past summer and so I was excited to find this fun recipe to try at home. This isn't pho, but it reminded them enough of it, and we loved the flavors and textures in this soup.

Thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for hosting the Countdown!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Breakfasts of 2017

Continuing in the "Countdown to 2018" Series, today we look at the best breakfast foods of 2017.

Triple Chocolate Donuts

I made these donuts for our New Year's Day breakfast almost a year ago now, and they will make a repeat appearance this year, by request of several kids and adults alike. I love starting new traditions, and it looks like homemade chocolate donuts will be our New Year's Day tradition!

Swedish Pancakes {with Blackberry Sauce}

Swedish Pancakes are one of my favorite things, and I can't believe it took me nearly 10 years to post the recipe! I dressed these up a bit with a lovely black berry sauce, but these are delightful even without the fruit sauce.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

We make a lot of muffins at our house, so a recipe has to be REALLY good to make it to this "best of" list! The cream cheese in these muffins is mixed in the batter so there won't be any cream cheese "pockets" per se, but the cream cheese helps keep the muffins tender and moist. They are a great addition to any breakfast, and are equally delicious if eaten in the car on the way to work (ahem).

Thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for hosting the Countdown!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Appetizers and Snacks of 2017

Happy Boxing Day! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas celebration, and if your family is anything like mine, there are probably several more gatherings in the works for the coming days and weekends. Today starts the "Countdown to 2018" Series where we look back at my favorite recipes on this blog in different categories. This series is hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.

I always look forward to this series because I LOVE looking back and picking out my favorites! Although I will tell you that sometimes I find it hard to leave ANY recipe out... they only make the blog if they're delicious in the first place!

Today we look back at the best appetizers and snacks from 2017.

Shrimp and Guacamole Bites

These are SO good. I've served them as appetizers at several dinner parties and they always get rave reviews. You can make your own guac or use store-bought, and the result will always be spectacular. I love how sometimes the simplest things are the best!

Chicken and Brie Flatbreads with Spinach and Raspberries

These flatbreads were "thrown together" to use up some leftovers, but let me tell you, it was a fantastic combination. Brie, spinach, raspberries, chicken...we ate it for dinner, but flatbreads can easily be an appetizer if cut into smaller pieces, so I threw it in here!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

I made these for our Superbowl party last year and they were a Super hit. If you love chicken wings, you will love these fun meatballs.

Be sure to check back every day through New Year's for more favorites! Coming up you will see favorite breakfasts, main dishes, desserts, crock pot and instant pot recipes and the most popular recipes on the blog from the last year.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Crispy Tiger Fudge

Ooh, this fudge. I love everything about it - peanut butter and chocolate together, a creamy layer, a crispy layer... beautiful on a tray, hard to resist.

You probably have all of these ingredients on hand, so you can whip some up yet this week! (Am I the only one who still has A LOT of baking to do this year???)

Find more holiday cheer at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Show and Share.

Crispy Tiger Fudge

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 (11 ounce) package white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup peanut butter

Place semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave at 50% power for 30-45 second intervals until melted, stirring between each interval. Stir chocolate until smooth.

Combine white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a separate microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave at 50% power for 30-45 second intervals until melted, stirring between each interval. Stir mixture until smooth.

Stir cereal and peanut butter into white chocolate-butterscotch mixture; pour into a 9x13 baking dish lined with foil or parchment paper.

Spoon semisweet chocolate in lines across the peanut butter mixture. Run a knife in the opposite direction of the chocolate lines to achieve a swirled, tiger-stripe pattern. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 10 minutes. Cut into small squares.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

I have said it before and I'll say it again. I love Christmas cookies, but sometimes you just need CAKE. I have a few fun Christmas cakes here on the blog to choose from, including Egg Nog Cake , Peppermint Poke Cake and Candy Cane Bundt Cake, and now I am happy to share this great recipe with you, too.

This chocolate cake starts with a mix, and then gets doctored up with extra ingredients like pudding, sour cream and peppermint extract. It's topped with a cream cheese frosting and then sprinkled with crushed candy canes. It is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. It will look great on a Christmas buffet and be a great addition to the ubiquitous cookie tray!

Find more holiday cheer at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Hearth and Soul, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

1 box devils food cake mix
1 3.9 oz pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream (low fat is ok)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 candy canes, crushed

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding, sour cream, eggs, water, oil and peppermint extract. Mix with an electric mixer until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a well-greased bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Allow to cool in the pan for 15-20 mins. Carefully invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely. If you aren't frosting and serving immediately, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate it.

To make the frosting, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Spread or pipe onto the cake. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Serves 12-16

Recipe Source: Tastes Better From Scratch

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mocha Peppermint Cookies

Coffee and peppermint together in a cookie. And also, chocolate. This was a brilliant idea. Not only that, but they're dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes. Beautiful, festive, delicious. These would be perfect for a cookie exchange, for giving as gifts, or for eating all to yourself. You choose. Really.

Quick note: the dough here needs ample time to chill, preferably overnight. So whip up the dough one evening, and you can bake the cookies the next day. Chilling the dough helps prevent the cookies from getting too flat in the oven. If you have a convection oven, you may want to use that setting, too. (I made these before I had the convection option, but I'll be making them again soon as an "experiment." Cookies are the best to experiment with, don't you agree?)

Find more great holiday ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Home Matters, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Mocha Peppermint Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large candy canes, crushed

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts on high speed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, instant coffee, and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes or until the dough is easy to scoop and roll.

Scoop and roll balls of dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each, into balls and place on parchment or silicon mat-lined baking sheets.

Bake the cookies at 350 for 8-9 minutes. The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. They will slightly deflate as you let them cool. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Melt the chopped white chocolate in a glass bowl at 50% power in the microwave. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Dip each completely cooled cookie halfway into the white chocolate and place onto a parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top of the chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the cooled cookies. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator to help the chocolate set.

Recipe Source: Sally's Baking Addiction
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