Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Retrospective: 2014 in Review

It seems somewhat crazy to me that we're already at a point for a "best of" post for 2014.  I mean, 2013 really didn't end all that long ago, did it?
According to my post list, I made 87 new  recipes this year.  That's more than 1 per week, and really exciting, when you think that the Magazine Challenge requires more than 1 per week.  I made 38 recipes from Everyday Food as a part of said Magazine Challenge that I've managed to blog.  There are a few more that will come up early in January.  This is also the year that I joined the Secret Recipe Club and started posting a recipe once per month from that source.  I also participated in my first multi-blogger event this year with the #10DaysofTailgate, which I loved!  I've signed up for another event in February, and have already started making recipes to get ready for that.  I also had a weekly menu featured on the Canadian Food Bloggers site, and started playing around with Twitter.  Finally, I started filling my freezer this fall to keep us eating at home and on track.
Now, let us relive the best of this year that J and I have eaten from our kitchen on the mountain.  I present to you now a Things I Make (for Dinner) retrospective:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An Apology, and Next Steps

I've not been here.  I've been present with family and friends for the holiday season.  Personally, I've taken a step back at work (J, my therapist and I all think this is a good thing) and so I've been packing up and moving my office to start the next adventure.  I've also been having fun with our new kitten, who is, in J's words, "a pistol".  While the other cat is still alpha, the kitten has given her a run for her money.  She's into everything, and we spend a great deal of time telling her no.  My mom fought the ongoing battle of keeping her away from people food while she was here for a few days.
That doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking!  I have a list of 12 things that are in different stages of blogging.  Fodder to start the new year, for sure.
Blog-wise, it's been busy.  I've been looking at my goals for next year.  More on that on January 1, with a new year comes new resolutions.  I've already signed up for another blogging event, and I've been thinking about what else I'd like to do in this upcoming year.
So here's to what's next!  Tomorrow, the annual Retrospective will take centre stage with things we loved from this past year.  So many good things, so little time!  Stay tuned....

Monday, December 15, 2014

Secret Recipe Bonus: Strawberry-Almond Thumbprint Cookies

While the Secret Recipe Club is done for this year, an offer came out that I couldn't refuse.
You remember the Secret Recipe Club, right?  The group where I'm given a blog to stalk and make something so we can all reveal at the same time?  It's a great way to meet new people and make some delicious recipes!
When someone suggested that we have a virtual cookie exchange along the same lines amongst all members of the group who were interested, I signed up.  And that's how I became involved in the SRC Cookie Carnival.

I was excited to see who my partner would be!  Much like my reveal earlier this month, I returned to an old friend.  The email with my partner sent me to Anna's blog, Cheese with Noodles.  Back in June, I made Anna's Dreamy Baked Ziti for a Reveal Day.  I was excited to have another look and find a cookie recipe to try.
I considered a couple of the sandwich cookie recipes before deciding on these thumbprint cookies.  I'd never made thumbprints, but the premise seemed simple enough, and I could use my strawberry jam that I made this summer!  Shortbread and could that possibly be bad?
I present to you now Cheese with Noodles' Strawberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Sausage and Tomato Risotto

This is the first weekend we've been home in a while.  It's kind of nice to be here, simply because there's never enough time for the things that I really need to get done.  Updating here would be a good example of what doesn't happen...we won't talk about the cleaning, laundry or grocery buying that gets put off too.
But we're here now, and that's all good.  J and I changed out the water in the hot tub, put up the weather station I got him for his birthday, and put up the Christmas lights yesterday.  I fell asleep on the couch this afternoon.  It's amazing what doesn't get done when I spend the afternoon sleeping.  We had plans to set up the Christmas tree so that the kitten can start learning to climb it, but the best we managed was some meal planning and a trip to the grocery store.  I blame the cold weather.
Cold weather begs for meals like this: hearty, one pot affairs that use cheese, and wine, and make you dream of being in Italy as you snooze on the couch.  It's all good.
I present to you now from the November 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Sausage and Tomato Risotto:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Planning: December 7-12, 2014

The year is quickly drawing to close, and there's so much to do!  One of the things that often falls by the wayside when it's busy and I don't know what to do is eating.  Eating out is easy.  Not cheap, not nearly as good for me, but freakishly simple and one less thing to worry about.
This month is becoming a case in point to that:  I'm busy, I'm quickly losing motivation to do much of anything, and eating out sounds good.
While it sounds good, it's not healthy, nor is it cost effective.  J and I have talked about the fact that we're trying to be smart with our money.  One of the smart things we can do is eat at home.  This week is the only place to start with that.
Here's what we're planning to eat on the mountain this week:
Sunday:  Sausage and Tomato Risotto.  My first Magazine Challenge recipe in a bit.
Monday:  Mini Shepherd's Pies and Broccoli.  These are freezable.
Tuesday:  Crockpot Lasagna and garlic bread.
Wednesday:  Leftovers
Thursday:  Shake n Bake Chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes and broccoli
Friday:  Dinner out.
Sounds good.  On paper, this sounds totally doable.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Yikes!

I'm behind.  To put it mildly.
Somehow, November has morphed into December and I have as of yet to do a planning post with the recipes from either month for the magazine challenge.  It's kind of sad:  I've tried and done pretty well at keeping up with 6 recipes a month from Everyday Food until fall and football and weekends away and life.  But there are still things I want to make, and some of them are even making it into mhy plans for Christmas dinner.  More on that to come.
November's issue of Everyday food is filled with ideas for Thanksgiving and make-ahead food.  This was actually a month where I couldn't come up with 6 things I wanted to try.  There are 5.  Here's what I want to make from November 2006:

  1. Herbed Biscuits (freeze and bake)
  2. Tomato and Sausage Risotto
  3. Maple cake
  4. Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
  5. Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread
I'm thinking maybe the biscuits and definitely the spread for Christmas here.  My mom's coming back with us, and we're celebrating late.  I think we're having prime rib.  There's one lurking in the bottom of the freezer.
December is the first issue in the 2 years that I've been doing this project where I've made 2 things before:  Warm Chocolate Puddings and Mint Chocolate Brownies.  The Brownies are over the top, and so rich.  You bite into them, and you wonder how long it will take before your teeth start falling out.  They're worth it.  Trust me.  Once again, I only have 5 things to try, but I don't consider that cheating because I've already made the 2 desserts listed above.  Here's what I want to make from December 2006:
  1. Rasberry Trifle
  2. Apricot Stuffed French Toast
  3. Parmesan Spirals
  4. Glazed Shallots
  5. Tortilla Pie
The trifle, spirals and shallots are also probably going to be incorporated into Christmas feasting.  I'm thinking French Toast for New Year's.  This is working out well!
Here's to the end of 2014...and 2006!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Gemista

It's that time again...time for a Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day!
I love getting an email once a month that sends me to explore a new foodie blog, or this month one that I have enjoyed before.
This month, I was assigned Francesca's delightful blog, Della Cucina Povera.  We've been here before, faithful readers.  In September, I volunteered to make a recipe from an orphan guessed it, Francesca's.  I made Cinnamon Rolls.  They were awesome.
You would think that I would try something that I had considered last time, and once again falafels made the short list, but then I saw these.
When I lived in France, I had a host mother who made stuffed tomatoes that were a mostly ground beef and garlic stuffing.  They were awesome.  I saw these and got nostalgic.  They had rice in them, and mint...but it might be the same as the tomatoes of my memory.  They weren't, of course.  But they were darn yummy.  J told me he was "pleasantly surprised".  I'm not sure what exactly he was expecting, but apparently what he got wasn't quite it.  No worries.  They were happily consumed by all.
I present to you now Della Cucina Povera's Gemista: