You know how when you “discover” something new, something marvelous, and it’s like your jam. No not the kind you eat, which maybe I should say since this is a site about food, the other jam. It makes you feel great, it consumes you and you want to share it with the world. For you, it’s a game-changer and you want everyone to experience the results, the joy, the happiness that you’re having.
Maybe it’s a lifestyle change. You’ve joined a gym, embarked on a new diet plan, taken up running or some other new hobby. Or it might be something simple but transformative. A new supplement, a shortcut to work, a Ted Talk. Maybe it’s a fun new restaurant, a hiking trail you’ve always passed by. Maybe it’s a food (ahem!) or another site that you like to visit. But whatever it is, first you explore, then you assimilate it, then if it works, you can’t help but share it!
For me, for whatever reason, it’s food. Along with recipes and cooking & shopping tips and tricks to help you get it on the table. Why food, I don’t know. I mean I’ve always liked food and liked cooking, but deep down somewhere, it’s really the sharing that does it for me and if it wasn’t food, it would be something else.
If you walk into my kitchen, you’re going to get a taste of whatever pot is simmering on the stove (that annoys my son sometimes…Mom, I’m just going “where ever” but usually he stops for a taste) and if it’s dinner time you’re probably going to end up at the table. And if you’re a neighbor, a friend, the snowplow driver or anyone else that comes by my house, sooner or later, you could very well end up with random baked goods.
And you’ll hear about it later, and maybe get the story behind it, and you’ll get all the questions. Was it good, did you like it, was it better than last time, was it as good as what we had at the restaurant, I did this little special thing, did you notice? And I take all that information and assimilate it and use it to improve, and hopefully to make your life better in some small way when I share it here.
Whether it’s a shopping tip or a trick or a solid recipe, I imagine you serving yourself, your family or your friends and hope that you’ll find some bit of joy. Maybe it will an “aha” moment in my shopping tips, a cooking technique. Maybe a sense of accomplishment when making a recipe. Maybe it’s sharing dinner with your loved ones and everyone loving it or you toting dessert out to the table to oohs and ahs.
The imagining of those things makes me happy and gives me joy. So if that imagining part wasn’t too creepy for you and you’re still with me, I have big plans for a fabulous New Year! And I hope you’ll continue to visit and chat and that you’ll find some joy this year, too!
- I’m looking forward to being a resource for you and expand my small series of “What to Know About Ingredients” as well as my budgeting and shopping strategies.
- Since you can never have too many strategies, I want to be more aware of cooking smarter with every recipe, maximizing your time and eliminating waste by repurposing ingredients and leftovers and utilizing some meal planning techniques.
- My thinking is revolving more around solution-based, whether it’s cooking simply to get dinner on the table or breaking down to do-able a more complex recipe. Whether it’s every day or a special occasion, I want you to find what you need here.
- More than ever, I want to keep the majority of recipes and ingredients simple, available, & affordable as I search everywhere from my backyard to across the globe for ideas that are going to bring flavor & excitement to your table.
- And while I’m no Betty Crocker, I want to continue to trot out, now and then, old classics, some of them updated for today and others out of respect left just as is. My Grandma recipes. My family favorite crowd-pleasers. Because we all need a little comfort now and then.
Before we embark on the fresh and the new food & recipes in 2020, I’d like to take a peek back in time and share out my own personal favorite recipes of 2019, and of course, ask what (if any) of my recipes have become faves at your house – that always helps me know what it is you like more than any number of random hits like I get in my top ten recipes every year, the ones listed in “the New and the Old.”
And I want to thank you for being here and sharing a bit of your time with me, following and commenting. You make my day, every day, and you’ve made this site possible! I thank you for being a part of it!
If you’re interested in seeing what recipes ranked highest on my site (since the beginning) check out “The New & The Old 2019 Greatest Hits.” And if you’d like to see some of my all-time faves, check out “My Top Favorite Recipes” that I put together last year. And below, my favorite recipes from this past year.
I am just wild crazy about this recipe for “Old English Potted Cheese.” It’s so easy and is made by using your food processor or fancy blender to whir up cheese (try white cheddar) and a few ingredients. It’s absolutely fabulous for a holiday or a party and just as good as a “fancy” appetizer for a romantic dinner. The runner up is going to have to be my Instant Pot Barbecue Chicken Wings. They have a crazy good White Alabama Dipping Sauce. This is what you want for game day! With wet naps.
I think I need to up my game on beverages and cocktails. I only posted two in 2019, so maybe one of my resolutions should be to drink more, lol!! Here’s my Watermelon Agua Fresca. and these fab cocktails, Watermelon Coolers. Maybe you’ll pin them for when watermelon is back in season.
You wouldn’t believe how many times I “had” to make these quick and easy Oven Sheetpan Crepes. Just for testing purposes, mind you. Yeah, right, you’re saying! What a game-changer they are. Not quite as light as standard crepes but every bit as delicious and no skill needed. On the more standard side of the spectrum, check out this Moravian Cinnamon Flop Cake. Super simple, super fun it’s like a dimpled coffee cake!
Some things you just can’t buy and a special condiment can make the meal! I am love with these Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles. Not nearly as sweet as the standard bread & butter pickles, they let the spices shine. It must be the year of the pickle for me because my second fave condiment of the year is Escabeche, Mexican Pickled Vegetables. They’ll bring a little freshness to any Mexican/Southwestern meal you serve and are a great way to use some of those veggies in the drawer.
I didn’t make a big huge showstopper of a dessert this year, but I did make a lot of smaller, simpler easy desserts and treats. My favorite, and I know I’m prejudiced, is My Mom’s Carrot Cake. She made hers as a layer cake and you can, too, although for the post I made it as a sheet cake. The runner up is my No-Churn Cherry Ice Cream. I was late in the no-churn game because I have an ice-cream maker. Well, guess what, I never use it so I never got to have homemade ice cream at home until I started making the no-churn! This cherry one I like even better than my Roasted Strawberry No-Churn.
This was a tough one! Hands down one of the best things I made this past year was these Creamy Cajun Stuffed Shells. The perfect amount of flavor with just a touch of restraint, they’re not simple but so worth it. They came about from a series of meals spun off from my Grilled Blackened Cajun Chicken Breasts. The runner up has to be this French leaning pork roast, Braised Pork with Sausage & Cabbage. Now that IS simple. All it takes is time.
Two of my favorite Instant Pot recipes from this year are both Mexican/Southwestern in flavor. There’s my White Chicken Chili which can be made in the Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stovetop; I love it! Fresh and flavorful! And knock on wood we have better weather this year – when I made that recipe last year, we were looking at a high of minus five, low of minus 25. And then there are my super cazh, super-fast Southwestern Chicken Bowls. They’re a dump and go recipe that doesn’t taste like it and good no matter what the weather!
Super Quick Meals:
These don’t have a clickable category, but maybe they need one. Fun, nontraditional and inventive ways to get dinner on the table and do it fast! I’ve fallen in love with Bulgarian Cheese Pots and started other versions. The other day it was Mexican with poblano peppers and chorizo. And then it was a tough decision for number two, any flatbread pizza or this very delish and inventive Sheet Tray Sausage with Grapes and Onions. You can see what won out!
You know I love me some salad but never dull boring ones. One stand out has to be this gorgeous knock-off copycat recipe of Longhorn Steakhouse Chicken Strawberry Salad, and I’m gonna take you pretty much to the opposite side of the spectrum with my easy Frito Taco Salad which is perfect on a hot summer day. There ya go, sumpin’ for everyone!
Think quality, not quantity. I don’t eat a lot of burgers and sandwiches, so when I do post one, ya gotta know I think it’s the best. Both my son and I fell hard for these Feta Stuffed Harissa Sliders and on that post I walk you through the best way to stuff a burger. Hey, I’m a Minnesotan & we know our Jucy Lucys! The other fave is a quick version of a Philly Roast Sandwich and you can make it from your leftover pork roast. Maybe that one pictured above…or maybe there will be no leftovers from that one!
Right off the bat, no brainer, a side dish that I absolutely crave is these Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. They could also serve as a starter or an appetizer, just know they can be a bit messy. The first night I made these, Kraig stopped by with a friend and they just shared the bowl of them with two forks, they’re that good! Of course, it’s winter and I want to cozy up to these Doctored Up Baked Beans but thinking long term, I kinda fell for this simple Lemon Pepper Vegetable Saute. That is when I’m not making Brussels Sprouts…
It’s no secret I love me some soup! I hardly know how to pick, and I gotta say this Old Fashioned Ham Bone Soup is so perfect for winter but it got kicked to the curb for my copycat Naf Naf Lentil Soup. It’s under 30 minutes to make, super easy (and cheap) and it’s become a staple at my house.! And I just can’t think about a life without Simon Pearce’s Vermont Cheddar. It’s a little pricy but so worth it. Get or make some good rolls and make a meal out of it some night when it’s cold and blustery. So there ya go. I’m sticking with it but it was a tough decision to leave all the other soups behind!
I have this page on my site where I’ve gathered together all the little recipes and methods that don’t always have a perfect place to be and I originally called it “Forgotten Arts” because way back when I started this site, they were things that were obscure or hard to find information on. That whole page needs to be freshly organized but my two favorite things I made this year that fall into this category? Homemade Ricotta which is ridiculously simple and easy and my Homemade Candied Ginger, which is ridiculously tasty and such a money saver, great for recipes, nibbling, cold & flu season and gifts!
So as you can see, my definition of being frugal doesn’t have to mean deprivation. It can mean finding balance, cooking something pricier one night, but something fabulous and cheap the next. It can mean using inexpensive ingredients and elevating them with a special touch or two. And it can mean shopping, organizing and using those groceries (which really are your resources) well from the moment they go into your cart until consumed. Hopefully with gusto and if you’re lucky with lots of compliments. And if you plan well, with no trips to the trash!
If you care to comment, I’d love to hear if any of my recipes have become a favorite at your house, and I’d love to know if you have an all-time fave recipe of your own you’d like me to work up and post here. Comment here or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org & I’ll take a look! Because you know, I’m always looking for my next favorite!
Happy New Year, everyone!