Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top Ten for ’10.

Whoa!! Did you see that blurry streak whiz by? I think that was 2010. Is it just me or did this year fly by or what? It’s like I fell asleep on the couch for a second and missed it.

Um. Bye 2010. Nice knowing you.

I’m kind of glad to see 2010 come to an end. Not because this was a bad year or anything like that, but because we have lots of good things on tap for 2011. Our big move back to Illinois being at the top spot.

Moving! In January! How wonderful for us! Six years ago we spent one of the coldest most miserable January days in recent memory moving to Iowa. Negative temps, piles of ice and snow. It.was.awful. Really. Ever try to move boxes with frozen fingers? I don’t recommend it. After that, I swore up and down I would NEVER move in January again.

And yet…here we are. Hm.

But anyway…I digress.

The end of the year also gives me a reason to blog! Yes! A post! I used to do those! Remember?

I have been doing almost zero cooking here lately. This what happens when you’re trying to move to another state. I do, however, have a slew of new favorites I made this past year that I’d like to share again. So without further ado – my top ten favorite recipes from 2010!

Homemade Chicago-Style Italian Beef

Beef stands all over the city and suburbs feature this flavorful, thinly sliced meaty masterpiece piled high on chewy Italian rolls. It’s a childhood staple I remember fondly. I recreated authentic Chicago Style Italian Beef at home this past year for our Superbowl party. With a spicy crust of crushed red pepper, herbs and garlic, and rich, beefy broth, the crowd went WILD for this one. For a true taste of the Windy City, dip your entire sandwich (bread and all) in the juice pile it high with bottled giardiniera. Keep your napkin handy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

These Red Velvet Cupcakes got a cuteness makeover for Valentine’s Day this past year. But underneath irresistible smiles lies one of the best cake and frosting combos I’ve ever encountered. Moist and delicious red velvet cake with just the tiniest hint of cocoa and rich, tangy cream cheese frosting will win over the hearts of your family and friends.


It’s a memorable kitchen moment when you rediscover something you previously thought you didn’t like. That happened to me this past year in the form of this fresh, delicious Guacamole.Β Having never been a fan before, I decided to take the plunge and try making it at home. One bite and I was hooked. Ripe avocados are mashed with tomatoes, red onion, garlic and lime juice and topped off with a few drops of hot sauce. Grab your chips and promise me you’ll try to share. It won’t be easy. πŸ™‚

Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins

Dessert meets breakfast in the form of these fun and flirty Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins. These slightly spiced, chocolate drenched treats stirred up memories of eating donuts in Northern Wisconsin as a kid. The only thing missing in these is all the extra fat and and calories of its deep fried counterpart. And sand in my bathing suit.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

I’m pretty much a sucker for anything bite-sized and these Pepperoni Pizza Puffs fit the bill perfectly. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with a great punch of pizza flavor from the pepperoni and cheese, these are a delightful party snack. The best part? The puff base could be used to hold all sorts of other goodies – meats, cheeses, veggies and everything in between. Any recipe that allows for a little interpretation and creativity is always a winner in my book!

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

I couldn’t let this year lapse without another mention of what has got to be one of my favorite ice creams I’ve made to date. This Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream is smooth, creamy and downright dreamy. The strawberry flavor really pops and that color! I want to paint my walls that pink I love it so much. πŸ˜‰ The absence of that pesky egg/custard base makes this ice cream a snap to whip up. I think your first pint of spring strawberries is spoken for. Trust me.

Tequila Lime Tart

Oh! Now THIS I love. LOVE. This Tequila Lime Tart is so easy, yet so impressive. The tequila flavor is prominent, which I adore (one tequila, two tequila…you know the rest), and the kick of fresh lime makes it taste just like a creamy margarita piled on a crust. Having friends over for an easy taco or chili bar feast? This is the perfect way to top off the meal. Cheers!

Roasted Corn Salad

This Roasted Corn Salad didn’t get much attention here on the ole’ blog, and that’s fine, but I loved it so much I just had to include it here. If summer came in a bowl it would be in the form of this salad. Fresh sweet corn off the cob, tomatoes, summer squash and more all tossed with fragrant basil and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It’s great over grilled chicken and fabulous all by itself. I can’t wait for the snow and cold to melt off so I can make this again.

Herb Onion Rosette Dinner Rolls

Turn your bread into an art project with these Herb Onion Rosette Dinner Rolls. So much fun to make and eat! A basic yeast dough is mixed with a bit of dried herbs and onions and twisted into a pretty flower shape. I was sad when I took the last of these out of my freezer stash. I need to make these again ASAP.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie perfection! FINALLY. The seemingly endless search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe came to a screeching halt after discovering these Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cooks Illustrated. They are the perfect balance of crisp and chewy, sweet and salty and chocolate and cookie. The thing that makes these cookies stand out for me is the remarkable flavor of the cookie itself – it’s so buttery and caramel-ly. Perfect. Really. That’s all.

So! There you have it! My top ten of 2010. πŸ™‚ As another year draws to close, let me just say how very grateful I am to all of you for sticking with me here, even while I’m a brief hiatus with this move. I see lots of good eats ahead in 2011 and I can’t wait to share them all with you!

I wish good things, lots of love, plenty of laughter and many memories for all of you in 2011.Β  See you all next year from a new state! πŸ™‚



Filed under Just for Fun, Recipe Collection


I started with a man who would turn up his nose at a dish that included beans. Wouldn’t touch ’em, didn’t want anything to do with them.

I, never deterred by the man’s supposed “dislikes,” put beans in front of him anyway. Soon he evolved to eating around the beans. He would still push them to the side of the plate or bowl, but if one or two made it past the gate it wasn’t gag-inducing Armageddon. Still not his favorite, however.

Further down the road, with continued bean-presenting repetition, the man grew tired of trying to push them around and decided, hey, beans aren’t so bad. If they’re surrounded by enough meat, you can’t even tell they are there! The man ate, and enjoyed mind you, a dish containing beans. Then another. Then another.

Progress, people. This is what we call progress.

The next step is to completely remove the meat and get away with presenting beans as the protein source for a meal. We’re not there yet. Soon. These endeavors take much scientific trial and error before the experiment can be deemed a success. That day, my friends, is coming. I WILL make it happen. We will eat a meatless meal with beans in this house someday soon! And, gosh darn it, he’ll like it! As God is my witness!! Cue dramatic Gone with the Wind theme music…NOW.

Here’s a recent bean filled dish my husband enjoyed. As did I, naturally. This smokey, spicy chicken chili really hit the spot on a cold December night. It’s quick, easy, flavorful and, best of all, made with ingredients you likely already have on hand. Like a traditional beef chili, it has a tomato sauce base, which I tend to prefer. I find myself put off by recipes labeled “white chicken chili” because the clear/gray broth that comes with it makes me (the Hater of White Food) a little nervous. Why? Because I’m weird. This one is much more my speed.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, but nothing too drastic. First, I switched out chicken thighs for chicken breasts. The recipe calls for chopped fresh jalapenos, but I subbed in a couple chipotle peppers in adobo because that’s what I had on had. I added about a tablespoon of the sauce too for more smokey flavor. I also added a couple teaspoons of sugar, a trick I learned from my mom. I used brown sugar this time, but granulated works too. It just helps off-set some of the spiciness of the dish, I think, and gives it that extra something-something.

Filling and healthy to boot, you can easily bump up the nutritional value by adding a few more veggies. Colored bell peppers would be great, maybe some corn. Sometimes I like to run a large carrot over my microplane grater into dishes like this just to add a bit of sweetness against the bold flavors without adding actual chunks of carrot. Works great!

SPICY CHICKEN CHILI (Recipe Source: Food and Wine)


  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound skinless chicken thighs or breasts (about 4), cut into thin strips
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can drained and rinsed pinto beans
  • 1 (15 oz) can drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • Your favorite chili fixings, for serving


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook until they start to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to moderate and stir in the chicken strips. Cook until they are no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and sugar. Add the peppers, the tomatoes with their juice, and the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Uncover the saucepan and stir in the beans and black pepper. Simmer until the chili is thickened, about 15 minutes longer. Serve topped with your favorite chili fixings. (I like tortilla strips, cheddar cheese and chopped green onion) Serves 4.


One Year Ago: ABC Cookies (As in, already been chewed!)
Two Years Ago: I made all sorts of goodies for an event at work! Click here for links to all my treats!


Filed under chicken, soup