Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Recap

I feel like 2010 has gone way too quickly. It's hard to believe that we're about to start another new year in just a couple of days. This New Year's Eve will mark 6 years since the husband and I first met, 4 years as a teacher, and the last 9 months of my twenties.

Time once seemed to stand still for me; hours felt like days, days felt like weeks. Nowadays, time just flies. I feel like my life has been on fast forward these past several years--not necessarily in a bad way though. I just can't believe how fast the months slip by.

It doesn't feel like it's been 4 months since I was on summer vacation. I can't believe I've already finished one quarter of grad school and will be starting my second quarter the Monday after New Year's Day. 2011 is poised to hold a lot of great changes for the husband and I, and I can't wait to see all that will unfold in the coming months.

But for now, here's a look back at some of my favorite recipes from this year. My photography is still pretty poor, but the recipes are what really matter (right?). I had a hard time picking my favorites from this year; I made so many dishes that we enjoyed. My blog, my rules, so I've included a few recipes for each month, rather than the standard one per month. Enjoy!

Buffalo Blue Pizza. I made many pizza variations this year, but Buffalo Blue was a flavorful favorite of mine.

Oven-Roasted Parmesean Broccoli
I've always hated broccoli, but this recipe is so good, I willingly include broccoli in our meal plans.


Basil Ice Cream.
A lot of people made a funny face when I told them about basil ice cream. But then they tried it. Those funny faces were replaced with requests for more ice cream.

Grilled Stuffed Potatoes.
If I weren't watching my carb intake, I would grill one of these up right now.

Crispy Maple Ginger Tofu.
This is the recipe that showed I can make good tofu at home!


Grilled Rosemary Chicken Thighs.
One of my favorite chicken recipes ever. Savory-sweet with the smokey charcoal flavor from the grill.

Crispy Coconut Tofu Nuggets.
Another confidence boost in the tofu department. These appeared on our dinner plates numerous times this year.

Chocolate Mousse.
Make this soon.

Barbecue Babyback Ribs. A warm weather staple in our house. So simple, yet so flavorful. Lots of witty commentary with this one.


BBQ Chicken Pizza. The husband's hands-down favorite homemade pizza.

Lime Marinated Flank Steak. Be sure to use super ripe avocados. My mouth is watering thinking about this meal.

Strawberries and Cream Cake.
Everyone who tried this cake agreed--much better than the traditional angel food cake with sliced strawberries. I went out of town for a day or two, leaving 3/4 of this cake in the fridge. When I came back home, I discovered the husband had completely polished it off.


Summery Fruit Salad.
I'm craving the summery-sweet flavors right now. Basil is an unexpected, yet perfect, savory addition.

Chocolate Overload Nutella Mousse Pie. Sinful.

Filet Mignon. A simply elegant meal for the husband's 30th birthday.


A snacking staple.

Cherry Pie. Summer in a pie plate.


Refreshingly light, with a powerful punch. Don't drink too many! I think I'll need to make a batch of these soon...

Cinnamon Ice Cream.
ooooo, this is some good stuff. I made this ice cream several times this year and it received rave reviews every time. Even from my cinnamon-hating boss.

Rosemary Dijon Salmon Burgers. A nice alternative to eating fish fillets.


Cherry Almond Granola.
I made a huge bag of this and snacked on it endlessly. It is perfect on its own, or stirred into plain Greek yogurt.

Guacamole Salad. Is it summer yet? I'd like to grill some ribs and dish up this amazingly flavorful side dish right now.


Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken.
Make this instead of feeling guilty for hitting the Chik-fil-a drive through.

Apple Cake Pops. Too cute. Super yummy. Perfect for a group of teachers.


Herb-Marinated Sirloin Tip Steaks.
Meaty deliciousness.


Pumpkin Custards.
A low-sugar pumpkin dessert. I served these to my friends and family members who are diabetic, or are otherwise watching their sugar intake, and everyone absolutely loved the results.

Almond-Encrusted Chicken Nuggets.
Serve with some spicy mustard or barbecue sauce to dip in and say adios to McDonalds.


Candy Cane Sugar.
Better than trying to crush up candy canes by hand and winding up with huge, sharp shards.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candy Cane Sugar

I like sprinkling crushed candy canes on Christmas treats, but if you don't crush the candy canes enough, you're left with huge jagged chunks that aren't so fun. I saw a picture of peppermint sugar on Tastespotting and decided to give it a try. I like how finely crushed the candy canes are, and combined with the sugar, they give a sparkly touch to special treats.

Candy Cane Sugar
Source: Tastespotting and Pip & Ebby


1 cup granulated sugar
candy canes (however many you want)

Break up the candy canes into large chunks (you can skip this step if you're using mini candy canes)/
Put the sugar and the candy canes in the bowl of a food processor. Turn it on and process until you have the desired size. I like mine mostly fine, with a few small chunks.

Store in a airtight container or ziplock bag. Sprinkle on top of cake balls, peppermint bark, cookies, cakes, or whatever treats you like!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Turkey Dumplings with Sesame Dipping Sauce

I love making these turkey dumplings for a weekend meal, though I think they'd be great as a party appetizer as well. Making filling comes together quickly, as does cooking the dumplings, but filling and sealing the wonton wrappers takes awhile, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.

This is a great recipe for a low-carb diet, which makes me love it even more! If you're vegetarian you can easily omit the turkey and add in 1 cup of spinach leaves, or shredded carrots and diced bell peppers.

Turkey Dumplings with Sesame Dipping Sauce
Source: Adapted from Reverse Diabetes-Holiday Issue
Printable Recipe

Dumpling Ingredients
1 pound ground turkey
6 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green portions)
one 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
8 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
48 wonton wrappers

Dipping Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup thinly slices green onions, plus additional for garnish

Dumpling Directions

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet until cooked through. Drain off any fat.

Combine the turkey, scallions, water chestnuts, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well to combine.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Working with several wonton wrappers at a time, while keeping the remainder loosly covered with a damp cloth, start filling the wontons. I find it easiest to hold the wrapper in one hand and add about a 1/2 teaspoon to a teaspoon of filling to the center of each wrapper. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, over the filling, and press the edges together to seal. Set aside and keep covered with a damp cloth. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

Add the dumplings to the boiling water (it's best to work in batches) and cook until they float to the surface--about 3-4 minutes.

While the dumplings are cooking, make the dipping sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and scallions.

Remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon, draining off excess water. Serve with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of chopped green onions.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

My first Thanksgiving away from home was my junior year of college. Going to school in northern California meant that I was an 8 hour drive away from home; I had no desire to make the long trek down the 5, and being a broke college kid meant I couldn't afford holiday airfare home. Much to my parents chagrin, I decided to stay in the Bay Area and drive down to Santa Cruz for Thanksgiving dinner with a high school friend who was attending UCSC.

I made a few pumpkin pies, packed up my car, and headed off to Santa Crux aftr dropping off some friends in San Jose. Everyone was worried about me though, since my car wasn't the most reliable--in fact, it had a penchant for breaking down at the worst possible moment. And of course, why would Thanksgiving be any different. Alone on a windy, two-lane road in the Santa Cruz Mountains, halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, my car puttered and jerked to a halt right at a bend in the road. There was no getting it started again, so I pulled out my cell and made some calls...a short while later, AAA was there to give me a lift back to my friend's house in San Jose, the pies still sitting in the back seat.

Though sitting on that mountain road was pretty scary, that turned out to be a great Thanksgiving. We never did eat the pies though, as my hosts already had a full spread prepared. But every year I make the same recipe and laugh when I think about that first Thanksgiving away from home.

This pie is a family favorite; it's bold, spicy flavor puts store-bought--and even the Libby's pumpkin recipe--to shame. I use canned pumpkin, but you can also roast your own pumpkins for the puree.

1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
2 beaten eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each ground mace and cloves (sub nutmeg for mace if you don't have any mace)
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon each salt, ginger and nutmeg
9” pie shell (I use Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe)


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Press pie dough into greased 9" pie pan.

In a large bowl, mix ingredients together in the order given. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes.

Cool before serving. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blackberry Cranberry Sauce

This was the second year that the husband and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner in our home--we like the tradition of inviting our families over and cooking a big meal for everyone. Last year, I made the majority of the meal, but asked each of our families to bring a dish as well. This year I decided to make the entire meal myself, which gave me the chance to try out some new recipes.

In my family, we traditionally have spiced cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner, and the husband's family likes the whole jellied canned cranberries, but when I saw these blackberry cranberries posted on Annie's Eats, I knew I wanted to give them a try.

While I was making them, I have to admit, I was skeptical. They tasted odd and too sweet to me at first. But after chilling in the fridge overnight they were fabulous! The cranberries still had a bit of a bold, spiced flavor, but the blackberries added a nice texture and sweetness. I'd definitely make these again in the future.

Note: I doubled the recipe because I like lots of leftovers on Thanksgiving. The recipe below is the original, non-doubled, amounts.

Blackberry Cranberry Sauce
Source: Annie's Eats
Printable Recipe

12 ounces fresh cranberries
2 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons water

Place cranberries in a medium saucepan. Add water to the pan, just under 1-inch deep (berries do not need to be completely covered.)

Heat over medium-high heat until the berries begin to pop. Cook a few minutes more, until most of the skins have popped.

Gently stir in the blackberries, sugar, salt and allspice.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water and whisk together until smooth. Add the mixture to the pan with the berries and stir to incorporate.

Bring the cranberry mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened. (I cooked mine for about another 10 minutes or so.) Smash the berries a bit while you stir, leaving some berries intact for a chunkier texture.

Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


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