Buttermilk Biscuits on New Year's Day 2011, and I've lost count of the number of times I've made them since. They have perfectly flaky layers, crisp exteriors, and light and fluffy insides. They come together quite quickly, and rise perfectly every time. I have a feeling I'll be starting 2012 the same was as I did 2011....
Thin Crust White Pizza was pretty wonderful, but what really made it special to me was the topping. A creamy white sauce, topped with lots of cheese... what could be better? This is another recipe that I've made several times this year - I've also made several variations - adding spinach, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, shrimp, chicken, sausage... I've also used yogurt instead of the heavy cream to lighten it up a bit, omitted the egg, and replaced the mozzarella with fontina...it's pretty great however you decide to make it.
Strawberry, Mango, and Avocado Salad was a surprise hit for us. I threw this together as a quick side one night expecting Joey to be less than thrilled... but he (we) absolutely loved it! I made this quite often throughout the spring and summer, and I never got tired of this salad. It's also great if you chop the fruit in smaller pieces and use it as a salsa. Yum yum yum.
Individual Cream Cheese Danish. I felt pretty intimidated to make them, but once I got started it wasn't too bad - just time consuming. And the reward showed that they are most definitely worth the work.
Strawberry and Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich was another smash hit. Strawberries and goat cheese are a great combination, and to turn that into a sandwich - well it was pretty awesome. I ate this for lunches all throughout the spring, and I can't wait to make it again once strawberries come into season.
Baked Tex-Mex Pimento Cheese Dip. It combines my two favorite cuisines, and well... it's baked cheese that's spicy. What else could you ask for?
Beer-Battered Fish Tacos are so insanely good that you'll forget about all that the minute you take your first bite. Served with mango salsa and avocado crema, these are one of my all-time favorite dinners. That I only make once a year.
Arnold Palmer Layer Cake. This is a fluffy white buttermilk cake, filled with lemon curd, and frosted with Sweet Tea Buttercream. I don't know where I got the idea for sweet tea buttercream, but it was a pretty great one if I do say so myself.
Chicken with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce was definitely a surprise hit. It's a simple dish, but the combination of flavors is truly wonderful - and is there anything better than roasted cherry tomatoes? I'm kind of cheating here because I'm also including the Fresh Corn and Basil Polenta. We loved it with this chicken, and I loved it on it's own or topped with grilled veggies as well.
Tomato Cobbler is another recipe that really doesn't need much of a write-up. Gruyere biscuits. Caramelized onions. Roasted tomatoes. The end.
Vanilla Latte Cupcakes were another smash hit of the summer. I didn't have very many pregnancy cravings this time around, but I couldn't get enough iced vanilla lattes (decaf, of course). Turning that drink into a cupcake was pretty amazing, and I ate waaaay too many of these. And for the record, I'm still addicted to iced vanilla lattes. I feel kind of silly when I order one when it's 35 degrees outside.
These tacos require very little work, but the reward is oh so sweet. Made in the crockpot, Korean Beef Tacos are one of Joey's favorite meals to date. You start with short ribs (though from what I hear from others, any beef roast or ribs will do), and you throw them in the crockpot with an easy sauce. Eight hours later you have fall-off-the-bone meat. Top them with a quick and easy cucumber slaw, and garnish with extra cilatnro and Siracha. These made their way around the blogosphere this year, and for good reason. They are just awesome.
Here's another crockpot meal that knocked our socks off. Tequila-Lime Turkey Chili is a pretty standard chili, but it gets a dose of brightness and freshness from the tequila and lime juice. A slightly different take on your traditional chili, and a very successful one at that.
And I'm wrapping this up with Sweet Potato Casserole Cookie Bars with Toasted Marshmallows. I knew I would like these (what's not to like?), I wasn't expecting them to blow me away. I definitely ate more than my fair share of these - for dessert... for a snack... for breakfast... I wish I was joking.
And of course, how could I forget? My absolute most favorite thing I baked this year - Baby Smith!! He is such a sweet baby, and I love every single minute with him. Caroline is a wonderful big sister (though a little overly enthusiastic at times), and I can't wait to see how much they grow and change in 2012! Happy New Year!