Favorite Recipes of 2011

Bye bye 2011 – the year filled with various fruit-filled desserts, homemade pizzas and plenty of roasted chicken recipes. Throughout this past year, I definitely learned many new tricks including how to make pie pastry dough from scratch (and cut and assemble lattices for pies), how to properly clean and prepare a whole chicken for roasting and how to properly make quinoa, just to name a few!

In order to celebrate 2011, I just wanted to list a few of my favorites:

Strawberry Shortcakes

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread


Homemade Oreos


Roast Chicken With Chickpeas,
Tomatoes, Olives and Thyme


Sour Cherry Pie With Lattice Crust


Spaghetti & Sicilian Meatballs


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes With
Lemon Curd and Raspberries


Chicken Piccata


Blackberry Peach Crumble


Baked Macaroni & Cheese
With Garlic Bread Crumbs

Pumpkin Cake With
Cream Cheese Frosting

I am already excited for 2012: hoping to experiment more with pomegranates, mustard (yes, Epicurious predicted it to be a Top Food Trend for 2012), avocados and I would like to make homemade Pho. Join me in my adventure!

Cheers!

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Salt & Straw

I’m such a sugar fiend. I know I have a problem when ice cream seems like it could take the place of a meal such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. But, on top of craving bouts of sugar all of the time, I also crave variety. And, by “variety”, I mean that I like to try things that might be considered simply atypical. For example, some of my friends might “mix it up” by ordering pumpkin pie ice cream instead of a standard vanilla or cookies ‘n cream flavor. For me, I need something a little bit zanier, something that just peaks my curiosity just a little bit more…

I first read about Salt & Straw through an article in Portland Monthly Magazine. All it took was just one glance at the menu on their website and I knew I would be instantly hooked. How did I know so quickly? I saw the words pear and blue cheese combined into an ice cream flavor. Now, although that might not have been my flavor of choice, I knew that ice cream similar to that flavor realm would be completely right up my alley.

So, this past weekend, my boyfriend and I ventured to Salt & Straw. Not only did I try delicious and unusual flavors of ice cream, but the people that worked at Salt & Straw were absolutely delightful, incredibly helpful and even let me try multiple samples. After sampling a few different flavors that included the likes of Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Black Pepper, Brown Bread Stuffing With Apricot and an ESB flavored ice cream, I finally settled upon Banana With Spicy Caramel and Walnuts while my boyfriend ordered a flavor that tasted exactly like blueberry pancakes with maple syrup (alas, I cannot remember the name!). Besides the most important fact that the ice cream encompasses a unique batch of flavor-intense ingredients, Salt & Straw is a farm-to-cone ice cream shop that uses local, sustainable and organic ingredients. As a result, this just makes me appreciate their establishment even more and elated for the chance to go back.

All in all, let’s just say, delicious ice cream + friendly service + a sunny afternoon= one happy camper.

Cheers!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes With Lemon Curd & Raspberries

One of my best friends came to visit me this past weekend. Like me, she loves to bake and cook. In fact, she is an inspiration to me and even taught me some new tricks with cooking (whether she knows it or not). For her visit, I wanted to make a fun breakfast that would encompass three traits: ease, few ingredients, and fruit (have to take advantage of fruit during the summer season). I happened to find a recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes that looked enticing — especially because prior to this cooking experience, I’d never used ricotta in a “sweet” recipe or used lemon curd.

Step 1: Combine Dry Ingredients;
Combine Wet Ingrediens


Step 2: Combine Dry and Wet Ingredients


Step 3: Drop Batter Onto Greased Hot Griddle;
Flip When Golden Brown; Add Powdered Sugar
and Raspberries; Enjoy! 

Although these look “pretty” — they were tough to make. The batter does not hold together as easily as I would have liked. The best trick is to carefully watch the heat and make sure to master the perfect art of the quick-flip (I had a few fall apart…). But, nonetheless, these were absolutely delicious and the combination of fresh lemon and raspberries flavors provided a nice contrast to the boring egg-and-cheese-combo of the usual Sunday morning breakfasts.

Cheers!

Buttermilk Pancakes With Blueberry Compote


I rarely make pancakes. But, this past Sunday, I decided to make them on a whim. It wasn’t until I was flipping my first batch of pancakes that I remembered how much I enjoy making them. This brought me back to the days when I used to make “Mickey Mouse” pancakes or make pancake letters that spelled out our names. After experiencing this bout of nostalgia, I realized that my taste bud preferences have vastly changed since then. When I was younger, peanut butter was usually the topping of choice or I would occasionally douse my pancakes in maple syrup. Now, I opt for fresh fruit or fruit flavored syrups instead. So, it’s no surprise that I picked Buttermilk Pancakes With Blueberry Compote to make for a Sunday breakfast.

Step 1: Mix Dry Ingredients Together;
Mix Together with Wet Ingredients 


Step 2: Drop Pancakes Onto Greased Griddle


Step 3: Flip After Bubbles Start to Form


Step 4: Mix Blueberries, Sugar, and
Water Together; Let Simmer for 10 Minutes

Step 5: Scoop Blueberry Compote Onto
Pancakes and Enjoy!


Making pancakes appears easy; however, in my opinion, it takes a perfect art to get them right. I usually have to temper with the temperature and size of pancakes a few times before I can get into a successful pancake-making-rhythm. Unfortunately, this results in a few burnt or undercooked batches, but usually by the third batch I’m creating good results!

My family thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. The blueberry compote was a nice change from a standard maple syrup. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I added a bit of cornstarch to the compote to help thicken it a bit. The blueberries were very tasty, but I’d like to experiment with raspberries for next time.

Cheers!