December 30, 2010

Best (New) Eats of 2010

Reflecting over the year via my food journal aka blog brings to mind memories of delightful tastes shared with special people. All food that makes the blog pleases the taste buds, but these were this year's stand-outs, the doable recipes that everyone enjoys, that I made multiple times, and that friends tried for themselves.

Butter-licious Showstopper
Paula Deen's Caramel Cake

Most Refreshing and Simple Summer Entree

Most Fresh and Crowd-Pleasing Lake House Appetizer

Hands-Down Best Non-Tollhouse Cookies

Simplest, Most Decadent Dessert

Impressive Two-Minute Party Starter

More 2010 Favorites
Because I fret when asked to pick favorites for fear of all the good I might leave out, some more new recipes:

Grilled Veggie Pasta
Tomato Pie
Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
Banana Pudding Pie 
Shrimp and Grits 
Lofthouse Frosted Sugar Cookies
Peach Buttermilk Pancakes
Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread
Peanut Butter Brownies
Pasta Fagioli Soup
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Strawberry Icebox Cake

And here are some of my all-time favorite recipes that made it to the blog this year:
Capo's Chicken Diablo
Garlicky Spinach Dip
Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Pie
Chicken Salad with Piquant Sauce
Boat Church Egg Puff
Chocolate Sheet Cake
Morning Glory Muffins
Pecan Squares
Berry-and-Spice Whole Wheat Muffins

December 27, 2010

Chocolate Florentine Cookies

A photo of these cookies stared at me whilst I waited in the checkout line at the grocery store. "We elegant chocolate-filled lace cookies," it said, "look like a Pepperidge Farm Brusels, but our crisp, buttery, homemade taste trumps them. Bake us so you can find how great we are for yourself. PLEASE!!"

Luckily, I had just enough wait time to flip through the book and find the name of the recipe. Then I could be cheap and google the recipe instead of buy the Nestle baking book whose cover it graced (sorry, Nestle, but I did give you page views to find the recipe). Nestle says use milk chocolate chips, but I say semi-sweet is better, based on my bias against milk chocolate.

What better New Year's resolution could there be than learning to make fancy-looking cookies that everyone will so enjoy? Maybe my photo will stare at you and say, "Do it!"? (It's not too hard; you just have to have the time and patience to make sandwiches.)

December 20, 2010

Monkey Bread Muffins

These bites of buttery, cinnamon-sugar goodness are the perfect treat for a holiday breakfast. I made them for Thanksgiving; now you can try them for Christmas.

Just like a regular batch of monkey bread, you can pull apart the pieces of deliciousness, but the bonus to the muffin-pan version is that you get more of the caramelized topping for each bite. Plus, it's easier to serve, and you can make a smaller amount if you have less people and don't make yourself sick off the sweetness--been there, done that.

Also, thanks goes to Rachel (who is in Singapore!) for recommending I try this recipe and hence got it from my forever long to-cook list to real mouths and then to the blog.

December 16, 2010

Ultimate Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

This week it's cold enough to flurry in the deep South and produce enough snow to collapse a dome in the Midwest, so everyone is in need of this body-and soul-warming comforting food.

Grilled Cheddar-Apple-Bacon Sandwich
This version of gooey melted cheese between slices of toasted bread takes a childhood favorite to whole new level. Sharp cheddar cheese combines flavor forces with salty bacon and crisp, sweet apple slices.

Tomato-Basil Soup
You might not be able to get decent fresh tomatoes this time of year, but cooking down canned whole tomatoes gets so much closer a out-of-the-garden taste than canned tomato soup. It makes for a medium-thick consistency. Fresh basil, still available for a price at the grocery store, completes the essence of summer-meets-winter soup.

December 13, 2010

Food Thoughts: Saying Grace

Saying "grace" was a mealtime ritual growing up. At home we said, "God is good, God is great. Let us thank him for this food..." Youth group pre-meal practice included superman motions to, "Thank you God for giving us food." Every kid's favorite seems to be, "Rubadubdub, thanks for the grub." My Catholic family members repeated, "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord."

I've never doubted that we should thank God for food but lately have been thinking about how routine it is to say "grace," especially when all that you want to do is eat the meal in front of you. And then I came across these thoughts:
Photo: Southern Living 
"If I say thank you to God for every morsel of food, that transforms the food. It is no longer merely fuel for my body; it becomes a gift from God to be enjoyed and relished. Its taste and texture take on new significance."-Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church, page 145

What is saying grace to you? A family ritual? Something for little kids? A personal prayer?

December 10, 2010

6 Cookies for Christmas

Christmas time is cookie time, and these are my favorites. Take out a couple of sticks of butter, bake you some cookies, eat a few while they're in their most perfect state (hot out of the oven), and share with special people in your life.
Wedding Cookies
For: People Who Put Butter on Everything
What: Buttery, powder sugar-coated shortbread with pecans

Peppermint Bonbon Cookies
For: Ones Who Start Celebrating Christmas in September
What: Soft, chocolate-intense cookie filled with peppermint pieces
Pecan Squares
For: Pecan Pie Aficionados
What: Shortbread crust topped with a slightly gooey toffee-pecan mixture (Ok, they're not really cookies. But bars are the next closest thing.)
Malted Chocolate Cookies
For: Those Who Can't Eat Just One Cookie
What: Colossal cookies packed with three kinds of chocolate and a secret ingredient

For: Crazies Who Prefer Something Other Than Chocolate
What: Chewy cookies with crisp edges, filled with not raisins but toffee pieces

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
For: Chocoholics
What: Rich brownie-like cookies that make a festive presentation

December 6, 2010

Tilapia with Walnut Pesto

You might be thinking that all I do is bake sugary things. This is not true. Last week I made fish. It had no sugar. It did bake in an oven though.

White fish officially has no flavor, so that's why you allow a crisp mixture of nuts and garlic and lemon to bring it to life. It cooks in white wine, too, which gives you an excuse to drink wine while you cook and eat.
The recipe came from a German cooking demonstration, but I don't know what makes it German. It was the "bonus" recipe that didn't come with a recipe card. Maybe I was too busy writing down the steps to hear any explanation.