30 December 2013

Eats: 2013 wrap-up

Well, here we are, practically at the end of 2013! Which means that, rather than presenting you with a new recipe today, I thought I’d look back at the past year in the kitchen of Casa P. Considering I’ve posted nearly fifty new recipes this year, there’s a lot to look back on!

I’ll be honest: recipe posts are not the big draw around here. I’m not exactly sure what is (decorating my home with little experience? crafting in the cheapest way possible? talking about my life in run-on sentences?), but generally, Eats posts are the redheaded stepchild of The Redheaded Stepchild. But I’m okay with that! I’m so, so far from a professional food blogger, and those experts should be your go-to sources for advice and beautiful photography.

Still, food posts are among my favorite posts here for a few reasons. First, blogging about new recipes means that I’m far more willing to try new things, which in turn makes me more practiced in the kitchen. Second, it’s motivation to master my camera – not necessarily styling the shots, but getting more skillful with angles, lighting, and yes, editing. And finally, I think blogging about food maintains the general theme of the blog: If I can, you definitely can.

Which means if I finally figured out how to make sandwiches and salads suitable for dinner this year, you could too.

Chicken BLT with spicy basil mayo
Lasagna grilled cheese
Fire-roasted jalapeño and bacon grilled cheese

Chicken cobb salad
Spinach salad with pomegranate dressing
Country Italian salad
Southwest chicken salad
Lemony chicken spinach salad

That Country Italian Salad – originally a Trader Joe’s recipe adapted by Shutterbean – reminds me that 2013 was also a year of copycat recipes. And judging by post popularity, it seems that everyone else is also interested in how the restaurants make these dishes!

Kosmic Karma pizza a la Mellow Mushroom
Rosemary bread a la Macaroni Grill
Creamy avocado ice cream a la Las Paletas
Chicken Bryan a la Carrabba’s

Also a copycat recipe: the crostini a la Macaroni Grill, which I featured along with these other appetizers-for-dinner ideas. It’s never a bad idea to have appetizers and wine for dinner.

Rosemary flatbread
Sweet potato fries with avocado crema
Pesto shrimp and avocado crostini
Black bean quesadillas

Of course, I did my best to keep it as simple as possible this year in the kitchen. And it doesn’t get any simpler than one-pot meals like these:

Pasta fagioli soup
Thai wonderpot with peanut sauce
Southwestern vegetable soup
Baked potato soup
Italian wonderpot

And finally, I wrote about many ways to finish your meal with drinks and/or (mostly AND) dessert:

Peanut butter banana frozen yogurt
Boozy sangria pops
Basil gimlet with basil simple syrup
Coconut chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate oatmeal cookies
Pumpkin cheesecake
Candy cane vodka

Whew, that’s a lot of time in the kitchen – and that’s barely half the recipes I posted this year! Fortunately it was time well-spent, as I now have some new favorites in the regular rotation. Now, if I had to pick a single favorite recipe I shared this year... it’d be hard, but I’d go with salsa chicken.

So simple! So under-appreciated! Not even really a recipe and yet so delicious!

On the other hand, the most popular Eats post this year (based on page views) was my attempt at vodka cream pasta.

It’s a fine recipe; just too bad that my photography was really awful. Oh, and that you can just buy a jar of the stuff and be equally happy!

You know, looking back over 2013, it was a pretty good year in the kitchen. I even tried an all-vegetarian month of posts, and posting an entire dinner, one meal at a time. In all, a year worth recapping! One of these days, I’ll create a proper archive of all the new recipes I’ve tried over the years... maybe in 2014? Hmmm? Until then, I hope you can find what you need using the Eats tag.

And speaking of 2014, this wrap-up shows me everything didn’t make. We had a good variety, but I didn’t make many (any?!) breakfast foods, and very few beef and seafood dishes. I also wasn’t particularly adventurous with fruits or vegetables, and I didn’t make a single cake. So there’s room for new things in 2014! Say, any requests for the new year? If I can figure out how to fake my way through the kitchen, I’m happy to share any secrets I learn along the way!