Monday, December 31, 2012

Retrospective: 2012 in Review

Seeing as it's New Year's Eve, it's time to take a look back and reminisce about the year that was.  During the past year, J and I have moved, we acquired a cat, and I started a new job.
We also made the resolution to have people in for often for dinner and to eat at home more often.  There have been months when we've done better than others, but for the most part we're eating at home more often.  We've tried lots of new things too.
According to the stats, I've made 47 things that are "New for 2012".  That's almost a recipe per week.  I participated in 15 Pinterest activities, and I shared 16 recipes with you that are classics around here.  By far, my favourite source outside of Pinterest was my new copy of the Looneyspoons Collection that I got for my birthday in October.  I managed to make 9 recipes in approximately 2 and a half months.  Think of what would have happened if I'd had access for the entire year!
After the jump, I invite you to make a quick trip down memory lane to the best and worst of the year that was.  I present to you now Oreos and Cool Whip's Memories of 2012:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Souper Sunday: Pasta Fagioli

I actually made soup on Sunday.  It's been a bit of a challenge to actually make this happen recently, and while I enjoy soup I don't always get to things as I'd like to.  Perhaps it's the procrastinator in me, or maybe I'll just blame it on the boogie.
I did need a smaller recipe for soup that J and I could possibly eat in a couple of meals just before Christmas.  I wanted a Sunday night/Christmas Eve lunch that would go together quickly and make a hearty meal.  I turned to Taste of Home.
I have a Taste of Home magazine of heartwarming soups that was to be displayed until April 28, 2008.  I've admired many of the pictures, but don't really make all that much out of it.  I bought it back in my "buy the magazine and admire the pictures" phase of cooking before I realized that I was being threatened by piles of magazines that I was saving for the day when I would make things from them.  This magazine survived that purge, but I still don't make much.
Enter a need for a new soup that didn't serve 10.  While flipping, I found this recipe for pasta fagioli soup that sounded good and said it served 5.  I'm thinking we'll get at least 6 bowls out of it.  But it's yummy.
I present to you now TOH's Heartwarming Soup, Pasta Fagioli:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fish for Friday: Salmon and Feta Burgers

In the summer, I promised J that I would cook fish once a week.  I'm still not a fan of fish, but I've started broiling a whole lot of salmon this winter.  Fresh salmon is something that I'm finding not hard to take.  Especially when it's very fresh and not particularly fishy. 
In flipping through my copy of the Looneyspoons Collection, I came across this recipe.  Surprisingly, I wanted to make it.  J wasn't complaining.  He loves fish. 
I present to you now the Looneyspoons Collection Dilly Whoppers:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pinned: Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I feel like vegetables much like J feels about fruit.  I like a few specific things, and I'm not adventurous.  Most weeks, I buy broccoli in the winter.  In the spring, we eat a lot of roasted asparagus.  If I had my way, we'd eat mostly frozen corn and green beans with a few frozen green peas for variety.
J likes all vegetables - he'll eat any I put on his plate other than squash and sweet potatoes.  So this week when we went to the grocery store, brussel sprouts were on sale.  For whatever reason, I have been pinning brussel sprout recipes.  I decided to see whether or not I liked them.
I present to you now Joy in the Jumble's Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Souper Sunday: Creamy Corn and Chicken Chowder

I've fallen off the soup wagon this year.  For a long time, I made soup every Sunday in winter and then took it for lunch during the week.  For whatever reason, I just haven't done that much this fall.  While we could blame this on football season and being away a lot, I don't know.  Perhaps soup has fallen out of favour.  I hope not.  With recipes like this, soup will make a comeback.
I spent some time eying this recipe, wondering what the BBQ sauce would taste like.  I'm not sure why I wondered.  It's all good.  Like everything I've made from Looneyspoons, this was a winner.  J told me that I'm welcome to make this again whenever I want.  the problem is, there are so many recipes to make.  Sigh.
I present to you now the Looneyspoons Collection Smoky Roasted Chicken and Corn Chowder:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Dinner: Strawberry Pretzel Salad

While J and I were hoping that my father's family would decide not to have Christmas this year and that my mom would come to the mountain, that didn't happen.  Every year, my father and his 3 next oldest siblings and their families get together for Christmas dinner.  As the siblings age, they keep threatening that they won't do it anymore - it's too much work, they're getting too old, etc, etc.  There's usually 20 of us or so.  Whoever is available comes.  When I asked what I should bring, I was told a Jello salad.
My mother makes a wide variety of Jello salads.  Some are sweet, which I don't mind too much, and others are disconcertingly savory.  Most come from the recipe book the Joys of Jello.  Sometime I'll have to tell the horrifying story of the lemon jello with beet juice and horseradish. read right.  I've made it.
But seeing as I didn't have the book, and I have no favourite jello recipes, I turned to the mighty Facebook asking what kind of salad I should make.  My friend Trudi suggested the Strawberry Pretzel Salad, and the next day a friend from Texas had emailed me her recipe.
I present to you now the salad that I'm taking to Christmas today, Strawberry Pretzel:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter Dessert: Warm Banana Pudding with Chocolate Chips and Pecans

Growing up, two of the many things I wasn't keen on were bananas and bread pudding.  You would think it's odd that I saw this and decided that I wanted to make it.  But the picture looked so yummy, and there were chocolate chips...we decided to give it a try.
J had never had bread pudding before.  He wasn't really sure what to expect.  But thankfully, he's willing to try anything that I decide to make.  He may not like it, but he's willing to give it a shot.  There's really nothing else you can ask for.
I made this on Sunday and we had dessert for a week.  It does make a lot.  But it's yummy.  Even reheated in the microwave.
I present to you now the Looneyspoons Collection's You're Pudding Me On:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dinner with Friends: Pork Tenderloin with Red Onion Compote

As previously blogged, my mom came and stayed over the night of American Thanksgiving.  I decided that it was a good time to make something new and different and maybe a little fancy.  My mom's always up for something new and different.
A couple of weeks ago, I managed to get my 2013 Milk calendar despite the fact that I do not subscribe to a paper.  I flipped through it and found a bunch of things that I'm interested in making in the near future.  I always find the Milk calendars to be a bit hit or miss:  either you like everything or you like nothing.  Based on the first recipe, I'm willing to try more things.  We'll see.  Perhaps that should be one month of the challenge:  Milk calendars.  Hmmmmm....
While I think, I present to you now the 2013 Milk Calendar's Pork Tenderloin with Red Onion Compote:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Soup for Sunday: Cream of Broccoli

When I got the original Looneyspoons cookbook, the one recipe I really made was this soup.  While I do flip through the book from time to time, I've never made much out of it.  This soup, however, I've made for a while.  When I buy broccoli and then don't get around to cooking it as a side, this is how we use it up.  Neither J or I mind the leftovers for lunch the following week.
There is an updated recipe in The Looneyspoons Collection, but I read through it and decided to continue with the original recipe.  Just slightly different, and still including sour cream as a finisher.  But hot sauce.  It's all about the hot sauce.
I present to you now Looneyspoons It's Only Brocc'n Bowl:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Double Chocolate Cheesecake

J and I ended up not going away for American Thanksgiving this year.  I took the 2 days from work, but his family was dispersed and we decided to stay at home, clean, put up the Christmas tree, and watch a whole lotta football.  My mom also came and stayed overnight.
Seeing as mom was coming, it was cause to make a special meal.  With special meals come special desserts.  I turned for inspiration to the Looneyspoons Collection.  There were lots of interesting things, but I was drawn in by the idea of making cheesecake.  It's been a long time since I've made a cheesecake, so I figured this one was worth a shot.
I present to you now The Looneyspoons Collection's Shockalot Cheesecake:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Planning: December 8-14, 2012

I don't know if this is a good thing or not.  I've planned a really good sounding week, that's rather long looking on paper, and that relies heavily on new recipes.  While I'm thinking about my cookbook challenge for the new year and what I want to do, I'm still burning through The Looneyspoons Collection and loving it.  Once again, my week is based upon that book.  We'll see how we do. Here's my thinking:

Saturday:  leftover crockpot Chicken Parmesan.  I made this Thursday, and it's delicious.  It was from Pinterest, but I didn't bread the chicken or truly follow the recipe.  It made a darn tasty dinner though.  I'm also making a Banana chocolate chip pecan bread pudding this afternoon.  It makes a 9x13 pan.  We'll eat this for days.
Sunday:  Smoky Chicken Corn Chowder for lunch, Salmon burgers for dinner.  Both Looneyspoons, both intriguing.  The chowder I'll use for lunch this coming week.  The burgers makes 6.  I'll freeze 4 for use later.
Monday:  Tacos.  Old El Paso.  Easy.
Tuesday:  Baked Chicken Drumsticks in a Honey Mustard Sauce, rice and veg. 
Wednesday:  Leftover chicken drumsticks
Thursday:  Macaroni and Cheese and Sausage.  This is a simple comfort-food dinner.  After a bunch of new things, it's a change of pace.
Friday:  My staff party, and I'm not taking J.  It's in the opposite direction.  He'll probably order pizza.

Beyond this, I need to start making Christmas-type stuff.  Nuts and Bolts, fudge, cookies....we'll see what happens this week.  Now that Dancing with the Stars is over, and there's nothing really on TV, there's time in the evening.  I need to decide what I'm making.
We'll see how we do.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Midweek Dinner: Penne with Bacon, Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes

When my dad went into hospice, I'd been planning to make this for dinner Friday night.  We packed the ingredients up and took them with us to my mom's house.  Friday night, we made this at my parents' house so that we could have something before going back to hospice.  Once again, I was playing around with my new Looneyspoons Collection cookbook.
I'm starting to think about next year and what I'd like to do cooking/blogwise.  I'm thinking about a challenge of trying 4 or 5 recipes out of one of my cookbooks each month.  When I look at how much I've made already out of my newest one, it could be fun.  Or I'll miss Janet and Greta a lot.  Hmmm...I have to think about that one.
Nevertheless, here's a rather quick to put together dinner that J and I both enjoyed.  I present to you now The Looneyspoons Collection's Penne for Your Thoughts:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pintertest Kitchen: Bacon Quiche with Pat-in-the-Pan Crust

When I was growing up, my mom would make quiche and I would hate it.  Things that involved the meat grinder and leftover ham didn't really appeal.  Or maybe it was that my mom didn't use great cheese.  I don't know.  The other option is that my tastes have changed over time.  But I doubt it.
When I went to France, one of the things that I learned to make with one of my host mothers was quiche.  I learned to make a lot of great things in France and still make sauces the way I learned from Mme Brabant.  Mmmm...tarte tatin, bechamel sauce, cheese to finish meals.  Good times.
I was cruising Pinterest and found this very attractive pin for Bacon quiche.  It looked so good, but there was still one problem - I would have to make a pie crust.  Here's the pin:

I suck at pie crust.  My mother makes wonderful pie crust because she made a pie per month for the 41 years of marriage.  I make pastry once and a while.  It never turns out as well as I hope.  But no worries - this pin also had a pie crust that you pat into place in the pan.  How bad could it be?
I present to you now For the Love of Food's Bacon quiche with Pat-in-the-Pan crust:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Healthy Snack: Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

One of the things we got after Dad's death was a "Sunshine" basket from the church that J and I used to attend.  There were cookies, nuts, assorted snacks, and fruit.  While we consumed the snacks and such with little difficulty, the fruit selection left something to be desired.  Neither of us like pears, I'm indifferent to apples, and there were 4 bananas.
J sometimes goes on a health kick where he decides that he should eat bananas because they're good for him despite the fact he doesn't like them.  I told him not to eat the bananas and I would make muffins out of them.  I thought about making Monkey Muffins again because they're amazing, but I ended up finding this recipe and deciding to make something new.
I present to you now Looneyspoons Bananaberry Bombs:

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Meal for Your Nose: Tuskinny Chicken

I'm still loving my new Looneyspoons cookbook.  So many interesting recipes!  So many bad puns!  J is tormented and well fed at the same time.  I have yet to make a bad recipe out of this book, so I guess I'll keep trying.  The problem is, I don't make it back to make things again that we loved the first time.
This is one of those things that sounded good, but there is no way to describe how amazing it smells.  The directions include these words:
"...if you have the patience, let dish stand, uncovered, for another 5 minutes to cool slightly."
What an odd phrase.  Make it, and you will know what they're talking about.  I made it the 5 minutes, but I licked the spoon.
I present to you now from the Looneyspoons Collection Tuskinny Chicken:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Planning: December 2-6, 2012 (Or, How I'm trying to get my groove back)

That's how I'm feeling right now.  The weather is frightful (Today it's 12 C and rainy, last Friday there was snow) and there's tons of mud, I'm leaving for work and coming home in the dark, I would like to be baking and planning for Christmas, but there isn't time for that.
As a result, we eat out a lot because I don't want to think about cooking or I sit down on the couch and become a pile of sloth.  While I'm not saying that this is going to change this week, I'm hopeful.  It's the beginning of the month, and I have a couple of things in the works for the Pintertest Kitchen.  I bought more candy cane ice cream and am planning a new Looneyspoons dessert for later in the week.  Things I'm planning are simple, and frankly go with the weather. 
I hope I can be as excited as I am about trying things right now.

Here's the plan:
Sunday:  Bacon Quiche and salad.  It's a pat-in-the-pan crust.  I suck at making pastry.  Hopeful this works.
Monday:   Leftover quiche.  J is having leftover meatloaf from the weekend for lunch, so he shouldn't be too bitter about the lack of traditional protein in dinner.

Tuesday:  Steak Stirfry.  When I don't know what to make, I buy a bag of prewashed and chopped stirfry veggies, and I bought a small piece of steak on clearance to trim and slice.  This makes a nice, simple, throw together fast dinner.
Wednesday:  Crockpot Chicken Parmesan and garlic bread.  I have a meeting I'm dreading Wednesday night.  The phrase, "they don't pay me enough to do this" keeps ringing in my head.  I'm hoping that my mood will improve vastly at the end of the meeting.  J has suggested that I come home and have early dinner with him beforehand.  if nothing else, it will get me out of the building so I don't obsess.
Thursday:  Leftover chicken parm.
Friday:  I don't really know, other than I want to make banana chocolate chip pecan bread pudding.  Maybe we'll just eat that.

I have about 5 things on my camera that I haven't blogged.  I'm going to schedule some posts today for the next bit.  We have been eating things made on the mountain.  I just haven't been sharing.