Here we are. The end of another year. A year that included my NINTH (whoa) year of blogging.
My plans for this blog in 2016 are to finally have a site redesign (you’re going to love it, both for looks and functionality, I promise), post a little more often, and do a few non-food related posts. In the reader survey I did earlier this year, over 85% of you said you’d be interested in posts that are not food related (which made me feel great because I *think* that means you like me!) so I plan to occasionally do some touch-base-on-our-lives type of posts. (And I promise, non-food related posts does NOT mean a bunch of sponsored posts or trying to shill stuff. That’s not my style.)
This year didn’t have as many changes for us as many years prior. The biggest life event this year was that our eldest started kindergarten (!) but he won’t actually go to a new school until first grade, so it wasn’t a really big change for him, since he was already attending his current school. Our youngest, meanwhile, took probably the best school picture ever (dying).
Still, it’s been busy. My husband and I are still dealing with long commutes, our weeknights are a blur, and unfortunately no one has gifted me a cleaning service.
Before I get to the food, want to hear some of my other favorites of 2015? Suuuure you do.
Favorite books I read (this year I read 32, which is closer to my pre-kids total and good for me): Let the Great World Spin, The Martian, Ready Player One, Me Before You, Bad Feminist, I’ll Give You the Sun
Favorite albums that came out this year (I am not as hip and up-to-speed as I used to be, but alas): Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities to Love, Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell, Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, and Wilco’s Star Wars.
Favorite shows: Mad Men, Better Call Saul, Jessica Jones, Daredevil
So! Without further ado, I bring you my top 15 of 2015. These are my personal favorites. Traffic often tells a different story, and while I like everything I post (or I wouldn’t bother), I especially like highlighting MY favorites, in case you missed them.
And feel free to check out the best of years past.
Top 15 of ’15 (in order of posting date):
Bacon, Gruyere, and Scallion Muffins: I said when I posted these that even though it was really early in the year, I was fairly confident they’d end up on the “best of 2015” list. And here they are. Savory muffins with bits of bacon, dreamy gruyere, and instead of oil or butter—bacon fat. Yeah, these are good.
Chicken Chili with Masa Harina Dumplings: This chili/soup was already on a best of list several years ago, but adding masa harina dumplings to it was a great way to make sure it reappeared.
Tex-Mex Chicken & Rice Skillet: This meal is just so us. So, while it’s not terribly innovative or groundbreaking or anything, it is one of our favorite meals by a landslide. Since posting this, I have made it approximately one million times. At least half those times, I have substituted farro for the rice, which not only boosts this meal’s nutritional value, but I actually like it even better.
Chicken in Lemon Herb Sauce: Here’s another meal that’s become a regular in our home. I was so surprised at how delicious this meal was for the ease of prep and short cook time. All of those things make sure it gets a lot of play in our hurried household.
Zucchini Lamb Kabobs: The flavor profile of these meatballs may not all that different from the (many, many) meatballs we eat around here, but they still deserve a spot here. Tender, warmly spiced meatballs wrapped in seasonal, bright green zucchini. My kids went nuts for these and, even though I have good vegetable eaters, I will gladly accept additional forms of vegetable eating.
Green Chile Cheeseburgers: We are a burger-loving family and what can I say other than we really love these burgers?
Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber-Avocado Salsa: Another meal in the “super easy and quick to make but tasty and well-loved” category. This meal not only got made plenty of times this year, it also turned me onto adding salsas/relishes to basically any protein, all the time.
Caramel Cake: Tom’s birthday cake this year, and boy, did he pick a good one. This is possibly the richest thing I’ve ever eaten and since I’m not one of those “too rich” people (I don’t even trust those people!), it was definitely one of the best things I ate this year.
Grilled Vegetables with Zaatar Vinaigrette: I guess this was the year or reinventing and slightly changing the way we already eat. We’re not strangers to grilled vegetables and I currently am stashing approximately 1 truckload of zaatar in our home, so this side was a no-brainer.
Caribbean Chicken Bowls: Boy were these a good idea. Mojo-marinated chicken thighs, sweet and spicy plantains, and simple-t0-make-but-complex-tasting beans and rice all in one bowl? Definitely patting myself on the back for that one.
Maple Blueberry Tea Cake: The perfect way to use our bounty of freshly picked blueberries. The maple glaze is, for lack of a better word, drinkable.
Chicken & Prosciutto Salad with Arugula and Asiago: It’s weird to favorite a salad that maybe doesn’t have a WHOLE lot going on, but this one has easily become a favorite for us. It’s hard to go wrong with sourdough croutons on anything, but the salty asiago and crispy prosciutto really make this salad wonderful.
Slow Cooker Brazillian Pork & Black Bean Stew: It’s not all that common for a slow cooker recipe to land near the top of my list, but this one goes up there pretty handily. The fact that this can be prepped the night before, can cook for a long time without turning to total mush, and tastes absolutely fabulous are the reasons why. The fresh relish on top brighten this up, which is something I think crockpot recipes often need and don’t get.
Chicken with Jerk Sauce and Pineapple Salsa: I really, really love this chicken. You get the flavor of a marinade without actually having to marinate anything. The pineapple salsa is a great contrast to the spice, and it’s quick and healthy.
Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Bacon, Goat Cheese, and Pecans: This might be at the end of the list because the posting was so recent, but know this: it’s near the top, if not at the very top, for me in 2015. I have become mildly obsessed with this salad. I don’t even know what to say about it other than everything in it just works so well together and you will just keep eating it and eating it and eating it. I made this for Christmas Eve and it’s almost embarrassing how much we ate, considering the squash we purchased was roughly the size of my two year old.