December 31, 2012

Top Ten Most Popular Recipes of 2012

I've had this little blog of mine for almost three years now, but this is the first year that I've taken it seriously. I've posted three times the amount compared to previous years, created a Facebook page and have even started pinning my recipes. Let's just say it has been a good year.

Here are the top ten most popular recipes of 2012. 

I'll be posting my personal favorites tomorrow...

10. Cake Batter Blondies: My husband's coworkers have requested these multiple times for potluck days at work. They really are addicting and you can't go wrong with colorful sprinkles.
9. Seven Layer Dip: After trying several varieties of seven layer dip over the years, this is definitely my favorite. So flavorful and perfect for a party.
8. Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing: I too saw these floating around Pinterest earlier this year and had to try them. They're seriously adorable and so yummy! 
7. Monterey Jack BBQ Burgers with In 'n Out Sauce: These are some of the most flavorful burgers and you just can't help but love the "secret" In 'n Out sauce. So good!
6. Chocolate Caramel Covered Pretzel Nachos: This is one of those crazy ideas I came up with after I realized that nachos don't have to only involve chips and cheese. I really love this idea and am glad it came to me at such a random moment.
5. Apple Pie Apple Nachos: And yet another "nacho" idea. Inspired by my favorite caramel apple, these really are divine. You'll love every bite!
4. No-Bake Pistachio Pudding Pie: This has got to be one of the simplest desserts, but it's also one of the tastiest. This is my husband's favorite dessert and it's becoming mine, too!
3. Mushroom Lasagna with Creamy White Sauce: For all you mushroom lovers out there, this is THEE pasta of all pastas. It is SO SO good. This picture makes me want to make a batch right now!
2. Copycat Arctic Circle Lime Rickey: I'm really proud of coming up with this little concoction by myself and am proud it has reached #2 on this list. It is so refreshing and totally brings me back to simpler times.

And the most popular recipe of 2012 is...

1. Avocado Cream Chicken Enchiladas: These bad boys won by a landslide and rightfully so! Not only was it a fan favorite, I think it was my favorite recipe of 2012 as well. Apparently we're all avocado lovers by heart!

December 19, 2012

Mini Baked Spinach Dip Bread Bowls

I saw these floating around the web a couple of weeks ago and knew I had to make them. I LOVE spinach dip and having said "dip" conveniently placed in a pocket of bread sounded like a brilliant idea.  

And a brilliant idea it is. These were fantastic and would make a perfect appetizer at a party or shower.

Warm, gooey and delicious. It doesn't get better than this.

Mini Baked Spinach Dip Bread Bowls
Adapted from Picky Palate
Makes 12 Bread Bowls
13.3 oz roll of refrigerated french bread loaf, (Simply Pillsbury works great)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, shredded
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. Unroll package of french bread loaf and slice into 12 equal size slices, about 1 inch thick. Using your hands, press each slice into about a 3-inch round and then press into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. Set aside.
2.  Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir spinach until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add garlic then cook and stir for another minute. Remove from heat.
3.  Place cream cheese, sour cream, cooked spinach and garlic, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, salt and pepper into a medium bowl. Mix until well combined.
4. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop dip into center of each bread bowl. Top evenly with shredded cheese and bake for 15-17 minutes until just turning brown on edges. Remove and let cool for 3-5 minutes before eating.

December 17, 2012

Melt in Your Mouth Stuffed Mushrooms

These mushrooms you guys, are DIVINE. They really do melt in your mouth. I took these to our Thanksgiving dinner last month and they were a hit.

These mushrooms would really be great as an appetizer at an upcoming holiday party...or any party for that matter. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them.

Melt in Your Mouth Stuffed Mushrooms
Adapted from All Recipes
24 whole fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic. Set aside to cool.
3. When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Mixture should be very thick. Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

December 14, 2012

Food Link Friday: Christmas Goodies

Peppermint Crinkle Cookies
These not only look pretty, but I bet they taste pretty good, too.
Gingerbread Muffins with Sweet Lemon Glaze
I've never had this combination, but it sounds so good!
Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Pudding Cookies
I love the sound of "chocolate chunk" in these holiday cookies!
Chocolate Egg Nog Pancakes
To follow suit with my egg nog obsession, I've got to try these!
Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites
Made these for a party last weekend! Needless to say they were very yummy!

December 13, 2012

Mini Eggnog Doughnut Muffins

So these really are as awesome as they sound. Apparently I'm one of those "weirdos" that drinks eggnog and actually likes it. I know. Jordan, who is an eggnog hater, can't believe it.
However, that doesn't mean he didn't love these muffins. They definitely radiate true eggnog flavor but the nutmeg is the most prominent flavor.
These would be the perfect holiday treat at any party or you could just have a party and only invite yourself. They're that good.

Mini Eggnog Doughnut Muffins
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup eggnog

For the Glaze:
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup eggnog
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease *2 mini muffin pans or 1 regular muffin pan. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream together the butter, canola oil, and sugars till smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the eggnog, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
5. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pans, filling the cups nearly full, about 2 teaspoons per cup. Bake the muffins for 10-12 minutes, or until they are a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes.
6. To make the glaze, combine butter, sugar, eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Dip the tops of each muffin into the glaze and let cool on a wire cooling rack until glaze sets up.

*I halved the recipe so it fit into one single mini muffin pan. Worked great! And I also dipped the cupcakes into the glaze twice for an extra coating.

*These muffins are even better the next day! The glaze hardens, the bottom crisps and the center remains fluffy. A doughnut hole lovers dream!

December 12, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Feta

Mmmm, this pasta was goood. Probably the best I've had in a long time. And look at that color! Tempting no?

To be honest, I've never been much of a pepper fan, but in the last couple of years I have come to love red peppers. Not necessarily eating them raw, but I love the flavor of them blended up like in this red pepper hummus I made a while back.

This pasta is FULL of flavor and I loved every bit of it. I think you will, too.
Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Feta
Adapted from Closet Cooking
8 oz. fettucine
2 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic
2 oz. crumbled feta (I used a Sun Dried Tomato and Basil variety that worked great)
1/4 cup parmesan, plus more for topping
1/2 cup half & half
2 roasted red peppers or 12 oz. jar of them
salt & pepper
Dried basil

1. Cook the pasta as directed on the package.
2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
3. Add the half & half, feta, parmesan and roasted red peppers and simmer until the cheese is melted.
4. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and puree in a blender or food processor.
5. Serve hot over the pasta and garnish with parmesan and dried basil.

December 10, 2012

The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Even though everyone and their dog probably knows how to make a simple grilled cheese, there is one ingredient that I had never tried before and it is AMAZING on this sandwich.

Guess what it is?

Thousand Island dressing. Who knew? Even if you're not a fan of it, you'll LOVE it on this classic sandwich.

There was a "recipe" in one of last year's Food Network magazines for a grilled cheese with thousand island dressing and bacon, which we tried, but decided to eliminate the bacon for the next time. It didn't add much to the sandwich other than unnecessary calories surprisingly.

However, not only was the dressing amazing, but the bread we used and the amount of butter we cooked the sandwich in made it perfect. Yum!

So in conclusion, my husband and I both agreed that this was the best grilled cheese we've ever had and from now on we'll always have Thousand Island dressing in our fridge for a quick grilled cheese fix. (My dad would be so proud.)

So here's the "recipe."

Best Grilled Cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, plus more as needed
8 slices bread, (the key is to use an Artisan bread such as this Three-Cheese Semolina pictured above)
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (or as much as you prefer, more is better in this case)
4 Tbsp. Thousand Island dressing

1. Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add 2 bread slices into the pan. Top each with one-quarter of the cheese.
2. Spread 2 bread slices with some of the dressing and press them on top of the sandwiches, dressing-side down.
3. Cook until the cheese melts and the bread is golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side.* Repeat to make 2 more sandwiches, adding more butter as needed.

*Set a timer, 3 to 4 minutes is a lot longer than you think and more time makes all the difference.

December 5, 2012

Copycat Winger's Asphalt Pie

I don't know about you, but Winger's Asphalt Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts. And the fact that they give you a free slice of it on your birthday is just outstanding.

Jordan's birthday was a couple of weeks ago and since he loves mint anything I decided to make his asphalt pie for his "birthday cake."

I know this isn't much of a recipe, but I love being able to adjust the Oreo to ice cream ration. I love my Oreo's kids.

Because the best part of this pie? The real winner? It's the THICK Oreo crust. Thee best part I tell you.

*Disclaimer: Make sure you share this with friends or family because you can and might easily eat it yourself in a matter of two or fewer days.

Copycat Winger’s Asphalt Pie
About half a package of Oreo cookies
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1.5 quart mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
Caramel syrup
Can of Reddi-Whip Cream

1. Take ice cream out of freezer and set on counter to soften.
2. Drop about 1 to 1½ row(s) of Oreo cookies into a blender and pulse until you get fine crumbs. (You’ll need 2 cups worth.)
3. Drop 4-6 Oreos into the blender and pulse into large chunks. Set aside.
4. Combine the 2 cups of Oreo crumbs and melted butter. Press down into bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. (A deep dish pie pan works great for this.)
5. Scoop ice cream onto the crust and spread until completely covered. Put in freezer for at least 3 hours.
6. Before serving each slice, top with reserved Oreo’s, caramel and whipped cream.

December 3, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip

Ok everybody, I am not messing around when I say this was a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner this year.

It is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy and addictiveness that you need at your upcoming holiday party.

The bright red and green colors are perfectly festive for Christmas as well.
All I have to say is that this is the best dip I have ever tried and no one will stop at just one bite.

Sweet & Spicy Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
Slightly Adapted from Let’s Dish
1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of salt
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
Crackers (1 large box of Wheat Thins or Ritz work great)

1. Pulse cranberries, cilantro and jalapeno in a blender or food processor until finely chopped. (You may have to divide the ingredients and blend in a few different batches so you don’t overwork your blender.)
2. In a medium bowl, combine the cranberry mixture, sugar, cumin, lemon juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 
3. When ready to serve, spread cream cheese in an even layer on a plate or platter. Spread cranberry mixture evenly over the cream cheese. Serve with crackers for dipping.