I’ve fallen into the habit of making side salads to go along with so many meals. It’s not my favorite—especially when tomatoes aren’t in season and when I don’t really give much thought to the contents of those salads—but it’s easy. It’s also quick, which is more than I can say for roasted vegetables. Between heating the oven and roasting, we simply don’t have time for that during the week, sadly.

The easiest way to make a salad feel a little less mundane is to make a new dressing. Dressings are both easy to make and incredibly adaptable. Also, they’re delicious. I had a friend tell me once that really the only reason people bother eating salad is because what they really want to eat  is dressing. I won’t argue that’s often the case. Sort of like how the only reason to eat red velvet cake is to eat cream cheese frosting. ;)

Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things, and it works really well in a vinaigrette. The garlic is not at all pungent, but just lends some mellow, sweet garlic notes to a very straightforward vinaigrette. Roasting the garlic does take some time, but you can easily roast it ahead of time and make the dressing the day-of, or just make the dressing on a weekend and keep it sealed in the refrigerator for up to a week (which is what we did).

 

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The idea for this dish came from something I ate at brunch several years ago. Although the restaurant has since shut down, I still recall this meal every once in a while.  (And I love that you can add pancetta to risotto and suddenly it’s acceptable breakfast fare.)

This dish was actually served with a farm fresh/uncooked egg yolk, and I wasn’t really a fan of that. It’s honestly taken me a long time to come around to egg yolks in general. It’s crazy, I know, but ever since I was little, I always preferred whites, whether they were hard-boiled or pan-fried. I never went gaga for a runny yolk like so many seem to do, so obviously I was not particularly interested in poached eggs. But lately, I’ve given them another chance and I really enjoy them in certain applications. They are especially great here because not only do they really make this more “breakfasty,” the runny yolk mixed with the creamy risotto makes this almost carbonara-like in texture, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.

When I first decided to try making poached eggs at home, I was incredibly intimidated. Imagine my surprise when I followed Deb’s tutorial and my very first egg turned out perfectly (unfortunately, the dish I topped it with that time was not perfect, which is why it was never blogged; hah!). So, if you’re intimidated by trying to poach eggs at home, or have tried in the past and failed, have faith in Smitten Kitchen.

I’m sure there are endless adaptations to this dish. I thought of doing a sausage and cheddar one, myself. Or what about chorizo and Chihuahua cheese? Vegetarian with goat cheese? The possibilities are endless.

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When I was abstaining from dairy due to Ian’s intolerance, Josie was being terribly mean and posting a million cheesy recipes I wanted to try, including this one, which has been at the forefront of my mind ever since. As soon as things were evidently going well with re-introducing dairy, I made this casserole. Like, 5 minutes later, basically.

You probably don’t know this about me, but I like Mexican food. ;-) I love that this has all the flavors of enchiladas in a form that is a bit easier to throw together and is much healthier, too. Although there are a few components to the dish, most of them are pretty hands-off and can be done simultaneously (I actually combined the sautéing of the onions/jalapeno with the cooking of the quinoa, too). I love meals like that on Sundays, because the hands-off/cook time allows me to play with my kids, make Monday’s dinner, or do any one of the other bajillion things that need to be done. (On this particular day, it was necessary to play the longest game of Uno known to man between 23 loads of laundry.)

This dish is protein-packed, from the chicken to the beans to the quinoa.  Ever since making this baked chicken & quinoa parmesan, I’ve been all about subbing quinoa in dishes where you might typically see rice or pasta. Might as well get a little extra nutrition where you can get it, right? If you’ve somehow managed to avoid quinoa up until this point, try it  in an application like this. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

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Remember many moons ago when I said you would hear from me on how to incorporate muhammara into kabobs? And then I forgot (even though fittingly, in that very post, I discussed my terrible memory)? Welllll. I finally remembered!

These kabobs have the standard Middle Eastern flavors of warm spices and parsley, much like these kafta kabobs, but they also incorporate muhammara, which is a red pepper-walnut spread for a little extra punch. They are incredibly easy to prepare and cook very quickly, making them really easy for a weeknight (assuming you already have the muhammara made). You can eat them as-is or dress them with some tahini, tzatziki, labneh, or anything else you wish. I love serving Lebanese and Lebanese-ish meals with fattoush on the side, and considering my husband requests fattoush at least once a month, I think he’s on board with that idea, too.

I’ve baked as well as pan-fried these, but you can also grill them if you want to brush a foot of snow off your grill. Although I haven’t tried it, I imagine broiling these would also be great.

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There are a lot of bad things about moving this time of year. You know, like getting acclimated to a new commute that involves walking over a mile each way in -30 temps. Or not having chosen a new pediatrician during the height of sick season. But one good thing is it’s the perfect time for soups and stews that can be made ahead on the weekend and then reheated on a busy weeknight.

The last couple of Sundays I’ve made soups to reheat on Monday nights. If you make them at the same time you’re making Sunday dinner (which is easy to do if Sunday dinner is something like a casserole, roast, or similar that has some hands-off cooking time), it’s almost like getting a free homecooked meal the next day.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve  never made a creamy chicken soup at home, although it’s always been my intention. Tom is always talking about how much he loves wild rice and how we never eat it, so I decided to go that route rather than noodles or white rice, but obviously you can change up the starch any way you see fit (keep in mind, though, that the rice to liquid ratio for wild rice is higher than most starches, so you will want to decrease the broth/cream a bit). I had planned on making this soup with mushrooms, but I forgot to put them on the grocery list (story of my life these days – I forget at least one thing a day). No matter, because it turned out great without them, but of course if you want to add them, please do! Bottom line – this soup is really adaptable to your tastes and what you have on hand. It’s creamy, comforting, and hearty, and I’m sure it will be making a reappearance during this absolutely ridiculous winter. Can you believe it’s only January?! Sigh…

 

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If you couldn’t tell by the eighty bazillion recipes for roasted chicken on here, we kinda sorta like roasted chicken. I’m pretty sure Zachary could eat half a chicken on his own. I save so many roast chicken recipes that I’d likely be able to try a new one every week until I die. And I’m okay with that.

The thing that makes this one a little different is its use of Spanish (dried) chorizo. We are lovers of sausage in this household (or “shausage,” if you’re Zachary), so it was obvious we’d like it here. The chicken juices flavor the chorizo, the chorizo flavors the chicken, and both flavor the potatoes. Sooooo, obviously it’s a winner. This recipe uses orange zest and if you’re like me and like citrus flavor, I’d add a little juice, too, to make it a little more prominent.

I used a mix of fingerling potatoes and purple potatoes (I have a mild fingerling potato obsession), but really any potato you want to use is fine as long as you cut it small enough to cook in time. This takes a little while to cook, but the prep couldn’t be easier, so it’s great for a Sunday when you want to make a nice dinner, but still have plenty of time to hang with the kids.

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::tap tap:: Is this thing on? Hi! So sorry for the lack of blog posting. You’re just going to have to bear with me while I figure out this whole new routine. You see, I’m officially a suburbanite. And the last week or so has sort of been hell.

We made the dumb decision to travel to both sides of our families during Christmas time when we really should have been packing. So, of course all our packing was done at the last minute (special shout out to the -46 degree wind chills that kept my office closed on Monday and allowed me to spend more time packing). We were up late for several nights, and then we moved on Wednesday, where thankfully we had a heat wave of around 25 degrees or so. On Thursday and Friday, we decided to send the kids to their new school to test our commute. We thought we could spend those days unpacking. Silly us! Instead we had to wait on deliveries, run errands, return to our condo to clean and finish packing (getting stuck in the snow and needing to push the car twice) and a million other things. So our house is still in shambles. But we’re getting there. Slowly.

The commuter train is not a bad deal, really. I’m downtown in less than 30 minutes, but I do have about a mile hike to work, which I have found sort of annoying at least for the first 1/3 or so because there are so many people walking. And if you know me at all, you know I’m one of those people who does NOT like walking slowly (very UNEuropean of me). Because we now live and die by the train schedule, the evening commute is a bit worse. We’re getting home later than we would like, by quite a bit. Dinners are going to be HARD until we figure something out. This week we’ve gotten by on soup I made ahead and the crockpot. So, I can’t make any promises as to how often this blog will be updated, but hopefully this will motivate me to make some really awesomely delicious stuff on the weekends when I have more time, to share with you. :)

This recipe, though, is a great one to make when you’re short on time. It’s done in the time it takes to boil water/cook soba noodles and it’s nice and healthy to boot. You can keep it vegetarian or add meat protein and you can adjust the spice level to your preference. Anyone who is ready to pull their hair out due to weekday schedules should have this in his or her life.

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In honor of my blog turning 7 years old, and also to celebrate the holidays, I’ve been doing weekly giveaways. We still have a few more to go, and I hope you’ve been enjoying them!

Today I’m giving away one of my two most used pieces of cookware (the other being my cast iron skillet): an All Clad 3 qt sauté pan with lid. I use this pan ALL the time. It’s a great size, is perfect for everything from searing to one-pot meals to pasta sauces, it goes in the oven and the dishwasher, and just performs amazingly well all around.  I’ll even throw in a bottle of Bar Keeper’s Friend to keep it looking shiny and new, because I know you are going to be using it a TON.

 

Enter below for your chance to win! The giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. on January 9th. This giveaway is sponsored by yours truly, because I love you all so much. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Today, bloggers everywhere will be posting roundups of 65235 healthy recipes, resolutions, low calorie dinners, and less-guilt snack options. But me? I’m posting these incredibly rich chocolate caramel bars. Because, you know, you don’t want to shock your system *too* much after all the holiday eating…

These bars start with a layer of shortbread and are then topped with chewy caramel, chocolate, and a sprinkling of salt. In other words, they are ridiculously delicious. And also ridiculously rich. You’ll probably want to cut them in small pieces, which will make for about a million pieces. But, they’re great for giving away or freezing, and they should last a while as-is, too. Unless you keep sneaking a piece from the fridge because they’re just so small that it’s okay to take a few in a day. (I wouldn’t know anything about that.)

This was my first time making caramel with condensed milk (well, let’s be real. This is my first time making caramel that actually worked and didn’t burn or do something else).  I’d actually taken the day off to do some baking and finish up my Christmas shopping, but then Ian woke up with a fever, which meant he had to stay home. Making these with a sick, mobile baby who is in the throes of separation anxiety was perhaps not my best idea. An empty box, a ladle, and whatever else I could toss to him while I was stirring helped for a little bit. Thankfully, making the caramel is the most time consuming part and everything else comes together pretty quickly and easily.

I might increase the shortbread layer by just a bit the next time around. I think it would also be good with a splash of vanilla but then, I add vanilla to everything, so that’s not surprising. :)

I wish you all an incredible new year, and I hope 2014 brings you much happiness and joy. And good food. Lots and lots of good food.

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2013 came and went in the blink of an eye. Of course the most exciting thing that happened to us was the addition (and completion) to our family, Ian, in March. His homecoming also caused my blogging to decrease quite a bit, but thankfully, he’s pretty cute and pretty worth it. :) With our move next week, I know that 2014 will also be a big year for us, full of change. Though I know it will remain difficult for me to keep up blogging since our weekdays will become exponentially busier and more stressful (something I did not think possible…), I really hope that I’m able to share new recipes with you as often as possible. And hopefully get around to redesigning the blog again.

Like I’ve done for the past 6 years, today I’m sharing with you some favorite recipes from the past year. I’ve included links to reader favorites (which are the most popular posts from 2013) as well as my own favorites. Even though I had fewer posts than usual this year, it was still a bit difficult to pare things down, which I guess is a good sign!

I wish you all an amazing new year, and I hope that I’m able to help you make it a tasty one, too. Thank you as always for your readership and for giving me a reason to keep going with this little ol’ blog of mine. I still have 4 “favorite things” giveaways for you, so be sure to check back and see if 2014 will bring some luck  your way!

Check out favorites from previous years, too! 2012 / 2011 / 2010 / 2009 /2008 /2007

Your Favorite Recipes of 2013:

1. Revolutionary Macaroni and Cheese

2. Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Salsa Verde

3. Lasagna Soup

4. Morning Glory Muffins

5. Skillet Rosemary Chicken

6. Cornmeal Crusted Pork Chops

7. Creamy Quinoa Primavera 

8. Karidopita (Greek Walnut Cake)

9. Sausage Cheese Biscuits

10. Slow Cooker Lamb & Stout Roast

 

My Favorite Recipes of 2013:

Sausage-Cheese Biscuits: These biscuits are similar to scones and they’re perfect for breakfast or brunch. Buttery, flaky, and packed with sausage and cheese, they’re sure to please.

Goat Cheese Potato Gratin: Goat cheese. Potatoes. Cream. Not much else to add!

Lasagna Soup: I waffled on including this. Not because it’s not great, but because it’s so popular and it’s “just” a soup. But I kept going back to it, so I knew it needed a spot. This soup will change the mind of anyone who doesn’t think soup can be a meal. It’s a little spicy, extremely hearty, and a lot cheesy. It’s lasagna in bowl form, and it’s tough not to like that.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls: Our new Christmas morning tradition, having these again last week made me remember how wonderful they are.

Mushroom Lasagna with Pancetta and Sage: This is one of the best lasagnas I’ve eaten. It’s incredibly rich and hearty, and the combination of mushrooms, pancetta, and sage is spot-on.

Chicken with Prosciutto, Fontina, and Arugula: This dinner was great on so many levels – easy to make, tastes great, excellent balance of ingredients. The chicken is crispy and the prosciutto is salty but the arugula salad on top keeps this dish fresh and light.

Morning Glory Muffins: These everything-but-the-kitchen-sink muffins are both delicious and good for you. And it’s hard to beat that.

Prosciutto Lamb Burgers: Oh, these burgers. So good. I didn’t think you could get much better than a regular ol’ lamburger, which is already so flavorful and moist. But Giada proved me wrong by adding prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes.

Plum-Raspberry Sorbet: Creamy, sweet, tangy, and gorgeous.

Kafta Kabobs with Tahini Sauce: Not only did I make these a bunch of times at home, I also ate my weight in kafta from the Lebanese place near my work. I love it, of course, but what’s better was that it was a great dairy-free food for me to eat (hard, when most Lebanese food has yogurt).

Chorizo, Mushroom, and Potato Tacos:  I knew I’d like these tacos because of the ingredients. What I didn’t realize was just how much, and how ridiculously awesome these are even though they only have so few ingredients. A favorite weeknight dinner, for sure, and one of the very first posts that came to mind to include in this roundup.

 Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin: A great way to dress up pork tenderloin that is both simple and company-worthy.

Farro with Sausage, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese: Hmm, I sense a theme with mushrooms. There’s nothing really “special” about this dish since it’s basically a combination of a lot of my favorite things. Or maybe that is what makes it special. Chewy farro and creamy goat cheese made this a late-in-the-year favorite.

 

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