2014 Year in Review: Life, Recipes, and Thank You

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2014 marked the 8th anniversary of this blog. Eight years! I can hardly believe it. I know that I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I did back in my heyday, and I know it’s been more difficult to follow blogs (or is that just me?) since the sunsetting of Google Reader, but you’re still here. Maybe you’ve been reading for all eight years or maybe you just started reading last week. Whichever it is, I want to thank you so much for reading. Thanks for trying my recipes and providing feedback. Thanks for emailing recipe suggestions, comments, or just to say hello. Thanks for giving me a reason to keep on keepin’ on. You are awesome, every one of you. I hope that I’ve been able to make your 2014 more delicious, and I wish you an amazing and wonderful 2015.

This year has definitely meant a lot of change for us. We moved from the city to the suburbs, and though there are many advantages (great schools, a yard, and SPACE just to name a few), I think I’ll always be a city girl at heart. Also, I’m pretty sure our neighbors think we’re crazy because we still do stuff like walk to Trader Joe’s and the dentist—things you’re just not supposed to do in the ‘burbs.

I’ve remained at my job and Tom has started a new one, at a start-up company. Other than that, we’ve just been working really hard at spending money. It’s not really work to do that, though, when you have a new house (98% of which is still undecorated or underfurnished, by the way).

I can’t believe how much our kids are growing. Zachary is reading entire books on his own, has gotten into sports, is really independent, a huge fan of music, and continues to love food. I dare you to find a not-yet-5-year-old who knows lyrics to Spoon and St. Vincent songs and makes special requests for okra at the grocery store or purposefully bites his pita bread into the shape of South America.

Ian will be 2 in a few months, which is crazy. He’s talking a bunch and is simultaneously the most snuggly and devious little child. He loves to give you big hugs and kisses, and he also loves to laugh and laugh when you tell him not to do something. His personality is thus far vastly different from his brother’s, but they get along swimmingly (except of course when they want to play with the same thing). He eats just about everything except for eggs and yogurt. If you give him yogurt, there’s a good chance he will completely melt down before your very eyes. In fact, the first time we gave him ice cream he lost his mind because it was vanilla and, therefore, looked like yogurt.

Though our weeknights have gotten much more difficult thanks to commuting and the kids’ school being in a different city, we’ve (um, I’ve) done a pretty great job continuing to cook on a daily basis. Sometimes it requires a lot more prep in advance or simpler meals and often it doesn’t leave much time to blog meals, but I’m glad we’ve continued to make home cooking a priority.

We’ve still managed to eat pretty well, too. Like I’ve done in years past, I wanted to post my favorite recipes of 2014. And I’m also sharing your favorite recipes (based on hits), too!

And, if you ARE a new reader (hi!) be sure to check out the best ofs from prior years, too.

Your Top 14 of ’14

 

My Top 14 of ’14

Caramel Shortbread Bars
Sophisticated Twix Bars? Little bites of Heaven? Whatever you want to call these, they are good. Really, really good.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Bacon
Our first soup of the year was this big bowl of comfort. A creamy, hearty soup that will turn anyone who thinks soup can’t be a meal into a convert.

S’mores Rice Krispie Treats
Take the addiction of Rice Krispie Treats to a whole new level. Fair warning: These are the confectionery equivalent of crack.

Traditional Chicken and Rice
One of those meals where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This meal really surprised me with how utterly delicious it was. Pure comfort food that you never want to stop eating. And we’ll make it often enough this winter that might not even need to happen. We’ve made a couple other Lidia recipes since this one and they have all been ridiculously good.

Potato Kielbasa Skillet
Another meal that surprised me. I knew we’d like this meal because we like sausage, potatoes, and bacon. But this meal went above and beyond expectations, especially for something that is so incredibly easy and quick to make.

Vanilla Bean Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Zachary chose this as his birthday cake, and I could not be happier with his choice. A moist cake with tons of vanilla flavor, topped with a smooth, vanilla-y buttercream. I kind of hope he picks it again this year.

Chicken Shawarma Bowls
Considering I titled this post “My Favorite Things in One Bowl” it’s no surprise this made it onto the list. I am practically obsessed with Middle Eastern food, and these bowls let you have it all. We actually just had these yesterday and raved about them all over again.

Roasted Potato & Okra Salad
This salad turned me onto roasting okra, which I’d never done before. I don’t know why since my gut instict is to roast EVERY vegetable. The combination of the okra and potatoes with the light dressing made this salad a summer favorite.

Pizza with Prosciutto, Pesto, Goat Cheese & Roasted Tomatoes
I mean, it’s a pizza that is topped with everything I love. No explanation necessary.

Slow Cooker Italian Pot Roast
I got this recipe from my dentist, who I just visited again yesterday. I mentioned that I made this, thanks to his rec, and he said he’d also just made it again the week prior. I know why. It’s a great twist on a standard pot roast and made for amazing leftovers, too.

Tomato Soup with Pasta and  Chicken Pesto Meatballs
I feel like a broken record here, but, again, this is one of those meals that tasted way better than I thought it would. I’ve never been a huge tomato soup fan, but this recipe was perfect. The tomato soup part is actually so good I might eat it on its own (a big step for someone who likes there to be texture and…stuff in her soup) and the meatballs and ditalini turn this into a grown up version of Spaghettios. Needless to say, my kids also adored it.

Za’atar Roast Chicken with Green Tahini Sauce
The meal we had several times (and will have tonight) that I could never photograph appropriately, but still had to blog because it’s that good. Please see prior comment about being obsessed with Middle Eastern food.

Toffee/Almond Roca
More confectionery crack. Toffee has long been one of my favorite things to eat, and I’m glad I finally made my own. It’s probably not good that I realized how easy it was to make, though…

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Considering this is the third soup on the list, clearly we like soup around here. This is like an elevated chicken noodle soup, full of bright flavors and healthy ingredients.

 

And there you have it!

Care to share your favorites from the blog this year?

Are there any recipes/dishes you’d like me to post in 2015?

 

2014 Year in Review: Life, Recipes, and Thank You

  • I WANT that Chicken Schwarma Bowl!

    (They all look good!)

  • So much deliciousness!! Happy happy new year to you guys!

  • Ellen

    Isn’t it funny how something as essential to the human existence as walking can be viewed with such incredulity in some areas? Just interesting when you think about it. We’re looking ahead to move out of a city as well, so that’s the kind of thing I’m thinking about lately.

    Congrats on keeping up with the blog when there’s so much going on!

    Happy 2015!

  • Happy New Year!

  • Jackie

    Hi Elly!
    I’m a longtime blog reader and just wanted to say thanks for keepin’ on! You are awesome too! I love your recipes, your sense of humor and your honesty in your posts. I have 3 little boys, 2 year old twins and a six month old, and I so appreciate your effort in posting with all that you have going on. I often check your menu plan for the week if I’m having trouble being inspired and ok, maybe I sometimes use yours…haha 🙂

    My favorite recipe this year was the traditional chicken and rice and my twins loved it too which is a win win. I also love the pot roast and your ground beef stroganoff is awesome. I appreciate some good old midwestern type food for sure.

    Lastly, I am preparing to make the vanilla bean cake with vanilla buttercream for a birthday celebration later this week, yay for vanilla!

    Thanks for all the great recipes and Happy 2015!

    • elly

      Thanks for your sweet words, Jackie! I’m so glad you have found some things you like here, and I can say with confidence you will love the cake for sure. 😉