Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Recipes of 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, I have been reflecting back on all the recipes I have made this year. When my daughter was born in late 2011, I was too exhausted to cook.  I found myself heating up freezer meals and ordering take-out most nights. My love of cooking had diminished considerably. Eventually, the baby started sleeping through the night, and I decided I needed to get my cooking mojo back.  

Before we had kids, my husband and I would spend hours making elaborate meals.  We are definitely foodies, and we tend to appreciate the fancier foods out there.  However, as parents we no longer had the time or motivation to spend hours in the kitchen.  So I decided I was going to start making easier and faster meals, but still keep the food adventurous and fun. The thought of a new cooking goal reinvigorated my love of cooking, and I decided to start a blog to document my recipe successes and failures. A few months after I began the blog, my husband and I decided to focus on eating lighter and healthier fare, so the blog's recipes began to mainly feature diet-friendly meals (500 calories or less). Overall, we have eaten pretty great this past year in our house, yet have still managed to lose a total of 50 pounds between the both of us.  

It was tough, but I have managed to choose my favorite recipes of 2012 in all my recipe categories.  The following recipes are the winners of 2012 in our household: 

Favorite Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal
I make a big batch of Overnight Oatmeal every Sunday, and we have it for breakfast the entire work week. We've been doing this for 6 months now, and have yet to tire of it.  It is healthy, filling, and super easy to make. I like to mix mine with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter. Yum!

Favorite Snack: Energy Balls
Energy Balls are such a well-balanced snack packed with protein, omega-3s, and healthy fats.  But more importantly, it tastes like a delicious cookie.  I make sure I have a Tupperware full of Energy Balls in my refrigerator at all times.  

Favorite Sandwich: Caprese Sandwich
To be fair, this has been my favorite sandwich for at least five years now. The combination of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, all drizzled with a good balsamic makes this sandwich out of this world good. 

Favorite Healthy Side Dish: Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
This side dish is healthy, inexpensive, and easy to make: a parent's cooking trifecta of awesomeness. Plus the combination of sweet and spicy make it a delicious and fun side dish; I truly like it better than regular ol' french fries. 

Favorite Indulgent Side Dish: Blue Cheese Broccoli Casserole
Covers the "green veggie" holiday requirement, but in a decadent way.  It is creamy and cheesy, with the blue cheese making the dish what I like to call "fancy-tasting comfort food". 

Favorite Soup, Stew, or Chili:  Gazpacho with Goat Cheese Salsa
Just thinking about this soup makes my heart ache for summertime.  It's the perfect summer soup: chilled and chock-full of fresh summer vegetables.  The goat cheese salsa is what makes this soup special though; the creaminess of the salsa pairs perfectly with the acidity of the soup.  The fact that the soup is easy to make and good for your waist-line are just extra bonuses of this great dish.

Favorite Healthy Entree: Skinny Enchiladas
In my quest for diet-friendly entrees, I found a lot of bland, boring dishes.  I was skeptical when I found this enchilada recipe, but it ended up tasting wonderful.  It was a great comfort food dish, that didn't taste low-calorie at all.  This recipe became a regular staple in our household.

Favorite Vegetarian Entree: Tofu Taco Scramble
I came up with this recipe when trying to figure out what to do for Meatless Monday. I decided to pair a few of my favorite things--nutritional yeast coated tofu, avocado, and Sriracha Sauce--and make a dish out of it.  This recipe takes under 20 minutes to make, easily feeds a hungry family of four, while costing under ten dollars total.  It's packed with nutrients and low in calories.  Most importantly: it's freaking yummy.

Favorite Slow Cooker Recipe: Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry
This slow cooker curry is just so ridiculously inexpensive and easy to make! With just a few healthy ingredients, it still provides a great depth of flavor.  Plus, it's nice to make something other than the standard chicken and veggies in the slow cooker.

Favorite Indulgent Entree: Sweet Potato Hash
This is one of the more involved recipes on my blog, but man, is it worth it.  It would be a great company dish, because not only does it taste phenomenal, the presentation is just beautiful.  

Favorite All-Around Recipe: Posole
Posole is technically my All-Around Lifetime Favorite Recipe.  Yes, it takes at least three hours to make, but your family and friends will thank you.  Plus, it's not actually labor intensive; most of the cooking time is it just simmering on the stove.  It's actually one of the easiest-to-make recipes on my blog! But it sure doesn't taste like it.  Make sure to have sour cream, lettuce, and tortilla chips to stir in; that's what elevates this dish to super star status.

Favorite Healthy Dessert: Healthy Fudge Pie
This is the dessert that made me realize that healthy food doesn't necessarily have to be a less tasty version of non-healthy food.  Before this dessert, I had made good-for-a-diet-food desserts, but this Healthy Fudge Pie is genuinely just an amazing dessert.  It would seriously hold it's own against unhealthy fudge pies; heck, it might even beat it.  

Favorite Indulgent Dessert: Chocolate Chess Pie
It tastes like warm, gooey brownie batter, do I need to say more?

I hope you take the time to try out some of my favorite recipes from this year. I'm excited to see what recipes I discover in 2013.  Always feel free to share your own favorite recipes for me to try out too! I'm always looking for my next great meal. Happy New Years!

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