Monday, December 31, 2012

10 Most Popular Blogs of 2012

Rather than posting a new recipe today, I thought that I would give you a tantalizing feast of the ten most popular blog posts for this past year.  J. and I are at that point in our relationship where we have a lot of holiday traditions so I'm looking forward to everything we have planned tonight. Enjoy this review of 2012 and be safe tonight where ever your plans take you and look for a new post tomorrow. 

1.)  Hocus Pocus Buns, this delicious blog from July is by far the most viewed post on this blog. If you're looking for something easy to make, you most likely have most of the ingredients.

2.) Red Velvet Poke Cake, this dessert blog from September is perfect for the holidays or for any celebration because of the great color contrast.


3.) "I Love You More Than ..." Cookies, this blog from September show cases one of my anniversary gifts to J. this recipe is perfect for anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine's Day which is coming up soon ( *hint, hint*).

4.) Fried Zucchini with Hibachi Yum Yum Sauce, this blog from July is the perfect summer recipe to help use up fresh garden zucchini, but the hibachi yum yum sauce is good for vegetable stir-fry anytime.


5.) Chess Squares, this blog from July has been incredibly popular. I found it to be overly sweet and I had a lot of trouble getting mine to set properly, but so many people have searched for this recipe that maybe it deserves a redo.

6.) Fancy Ramen, this blog from September is the perfect recipe for a college student or for a working adult who just wants to eat a quick dinner. Use up those cheap ramen noodles without using that gross seasoning packet.

7.) Egg Drop Ramen, this blog from October is a guest post from Becky and is another flavorful way to use ramen without the seasoning packet, stock up on some ramen!

8.) Tomato Soup Mac & Cheese, this blog from October is one of my favorite recipes. It is so delicious, I must insist that you add it to your "to try" list of recipes, you will not be disappointed! 


6.) Chocolate Covered Strawberry Shots, this blog from July is a great new way to make shots. I brought these to a weekend get-away and they were a huge hit! Great for any party.


10.) Sex in a Pan, this dessert blog from August was a recipe that I tried solely because of that name. It was decadent and a hit with all of J.'s roommates.

I hope you enjoyed this review of the most popular recipes from 2012. I know I'm looking forward to everything 2013 has to offer!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mini Lemon Souffles

Souffle was recommended to me as a great recipe to try so when I saw this one on Pinterest from Better Homes and Garden's I knew that I should add it to my list of recipes to try.

My only concern was that this recipe required making meringue, which I've never had much success with, I was pleasantly surprised that this recipe actually turned out great.

-Nonstick cooking spray
-6 tablespoons granulated sugar
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1 tablespoon butter, melted
-2 egg yolks
-1 cup milk
-3 egg whites
-Powdered sugar

In a bowl combine two table spoons of sugar, plus the flour.
In another bowl combine the lemon juice, lemon peel and melted butter.
Whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture.
Whisk together egg yolk and milk, add to the other mixture.
Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites, until there are soft peaks.
Then slowly add in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form.
Take a small amount of the egg whites and mix it into the lemon mixture to lighten.

Gently fold in the meringue. 
Be very gentle because you don't want the meringue to fall.
Pour the batter into greased ramekins. 
Place the ramekins into a 9x13 pan or two 8x8 pans, and fill the pans with boiling water  so that there is at least an inch of water in the pan.
Bake 20-30 minutes or until the top springs back when touched.
Let rest 5 minutes.
Top with powdered sugar and then serve.

The souffle should be mostly cake-like with a melty center. This recipe turned out heavenly, the souffles were so delicious I would love to make this again to experiment with flavors. Beware that these will start to fall rather quickly, I took the above pictures after the 5 minute cooling period because J told me that they were much shorter than before, so pre-pictures my souffles were a lot more souffle like. Regardless these tasted great and were easy to make.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Olive Garden Five Cheese Ziti Copy Recipe

I love Olive Garden and the five cheese ziti is the meal that I always order when I go. Sometimes copy-cat recipes are just okay, but I thought that this recipe was spot on. Here is where you can find the original.

If you enjoyed this blog you can find a copy-recipe for Olive Garden's Lasagna Rollata Al Forno here from my September 2012 blog.

Ziti Sauce
4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups alfredo sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons Fontina cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon garlic pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Ziti Topping
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons romano cheese, grated
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped

Other Ingredients
1 lb dry ziti pasta
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

You know me, I didn't actually buy all of the required cheeses, I just used a shredded Italian cheese blend from the store to replace the Fontina and Romano.

Mix together sauce ingredients.
Mix together topping ingredients.
Spread some sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan, I lined mine with foil just to save myself some clean up.
Add pasta.
Add remaining sauce and gently mix until pasta is coated.
Top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Add topping mixture.
Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes.
Mmmm, cheesy goodness.
Ignore any thoughts about how bad this recipe is for you... it's okay to indulge every once in a while. This recipe was fantastic, it tasted just like my Olive Garden favorite and it was much cheaper to make in bulk than it was to buy in the restaurant. Have you ever found that some foods taste better as leftovers? Even though this was great fresh out of the oven, I think it was even better for lunch the next day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Champagne Risotto

J. and I exchanged Christmas gifts last night and since he had been hard at work all day, I had the day off lucky me, I decided to make him a nice dinner. This Champagne Risotto was the main course. I had never made risotto before, but I have had risotto (the mushroom risotto I had my first night in England was so delicious). All I had ever heard about risotto is how difficult it is to make, truthfully it wasn't too difficult, it just required some patience.

Find the original post here.

-8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
-1 shallot, finely chopped
-4 tablespoons butter
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 garlic clove, minced
-5-6 cups vegetable broth
-2 cups Arborio rice
-8 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Simmer the vegetable broth in a medium sized pot.

Clean your mushrooms and slice them thin.
Heat half of the butter and the oil in a large skillet.
Add the mushrooms and cook for two minutes.
Add the shallot and garlic.
Cook for two minutes.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add rice to the skillet, coat in the oil.
Toast the rice for three minutes.
Add the champagne and bring to a simmer until the liquid is almost cooked out.
Add about a cup of the simmering vegetable broth, for me two ladles equaled about one cup.
Stir constantly.
Stir until almost completely absorbed.
 Repeat for half an hour or until most of the broth is gone and the rice is creamy.
Ready to serve risotto.

Serve topped with butter and a little parmesean cheese.

This recipe was delicious! It was a hit with J. and my family and I will be making more risotto in the future. The was a slight champagne taste to the dish, but the flavor wasn't overwhelming. Overall this was very much a success and making risotto wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

I love the Christmas gifts that J. gave me -- one was blog related so I'll post a picture next week.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spicy Macaroni & Cheese

This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman and if you've never tried anything by Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) you are truly missing out. Pretty much everything she makes is delectable and this recipe is no exception.

This is one of my favorite new recipes.

Other Mac & Cheese Recipes from Vegetarian & Cooking!:
Mac & Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Tomato Soup Mac & Cheese
Mac & Cheese Pizza
Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich
Panera Mac & Cheese

-4 cups cooked macaroni or cavatappi
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1/4 to 1/2 finely diced red onion
-Equal amount diced red bell pepper
-1 finely diced jalapeno
-1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
-1 cup frozen corn
-2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 cup cream
-1 generous cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
-2 tablespoons butter

Saute your veggies in oil for a few minutes.
Saute them as long as you like, al dente or soft.
Add the chilies.
Add the drained pasta, stir.
Pour in cream. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the cheesy goodness.
Add two tablespoons of butter and stir the butter into the pasta.
Serve quickly because this won't last long.

This recipe went over really well with my family. Becky and I made it together and my dad tried some too, My dad said he would have preferred if all of the vegetable proportions had been scaled down. I personally enjoyed the kick that this recipe had, it was a nice grown-up version of my mac and cheese favorite, the pepper and pepper jack cheese added great flavor to the recipe.