Best “Ate” in ’08

One of my big goals over the last year was to truly learn how to cook- to make an honest effort to seek out interesting recipes, try new things, and challenge myself to take the time and make entire meals as often as I had time available. As a result, I came across some pretty awesome recipes and ended up learning a few things, as well as getting a better sense of where my boundaries are in the kitchen. For instance, various versions of lattice pies? Daunting at first, but in the end, no problem! Lemon souffle poppy seed pancakes? Bested me in two tries. I’ve assembled a (rather lengthy) list of some of the most awesome stuff I ended up eating over the course of the past year or so. I think it goes without saying that I recommend everything on here and it’s all completely do-able, no previous kitchen competence required.

Dessert/Baking:

Pie Crust: this is an absolutely easy pie crust recipe; not too dry, not too flaky.

Apple Pie Filling

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling

Peach Pie Filling

Bluebarb Crumble: this stuff is awesome. Perfect combination of tart and sweet. In the winter, I subbed the rhubarb for cranberry, with a few subtle modifications.

Cinnamon Raisin Puff Rolls: these are a worthwhile indulgence. Pretty bad for you in the long run, so they only get made once every few months or so. But when they do show up, they don’t generally make it past noon.

Cranberry Gingerbread: over the course of the holiday season, I made at least ten pans of this stuff. It’s easy, and I think it’s a far more better representation of that spicy/molasses flavor than it’s relative cookie.

Linzer Cookies: a distant approximation of the linzertorte, these also don’t stick around long. A fair amount of work, but definitely worth it in the end. Raspberry preserves in the center.

Peppermint Bark Cookies: Also some of my favorite cookies to make ever. A little messy because you have to grind candy canes, but the end result is definitely worth it.

Funky Pancake: this is kind of like a David Eyres pancake, with a few adaptations. A perfect easy hot breakfast in the oven. There’s probably a real name for it, but I never learned it.

Main Dishes:

Cilantro and Lime Chicken Breasts: this is a really simple recipe with a great fresh flavor. Totally healthy and almost refreshing to eat.

Spanish/Italian Rice: the result of having a lot of random peppers and other veggies laying around, as well as a few links of Italian sausage. You could probably use chorizo if you wanted to be truly Spanish about the whole endeavor. It’s a pretty hearty meal.

Gorgonzola Ravioli with Walnut Brown Butter: I used store bought ravioli from the local co-op, but could have easily made my own if I had the time and confidence (this was pretty early in the year). The recipe calls for an entire stick of butter- if that seems like a lot, well it is. It tastes just fine with the entire stick, but my conscience would have felt a little better with less.

Halibut with Apricot and Rosemary Glaze: This recipe was phenomenal. I couldn’t find any Halibut, so we used sole and it worked out just fine. But a thicker fish (the originally intended halibut) would have made it even better. The variety in flavor and pairing of the citrus with the fish, then hearty rosemary is just outstanding. One of my favorites from the year.

Spaghetti with olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic: this was my go-to on any night where I wanted a simple, hearty, yet refreshing dinner. It was awesome during the summer and even in the winter. You could probably even eat it cold out of the fridge and it would be a perfect pasta salad. It’s the simplest pasta recipe I’ve ever made, yet has the most flavor.

Whiskey Sage Cream Sauce: This sauce is heavy, and rich. I paired it with butternut squash ravioli and topped with toasted hazelnuts.

Appetizers/Sides:

Fried Mozzarella: This is a MESSY one. I only used smoked mozzarella, but the flavor really came out. It is definitely worth the havoc it wreaks on your kitchen.

Grand Marnier Plums: These were also very easy to make and have a complex flavor that seems to go over pretty well. They sound a lot more complicated than they really are.

Dates with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto: I got a lot of requests for this recipe. It’s so simple and the pairing of flavors is so weird, yet turns out so well- sweet, salty, and fresh all at the same time. The dish itself is a traditional Spanish tapa.

>>The entire index of all recipes for your browsing enjoyment is available here.

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