Saturday, December 31, 2016

Countdown to 2017: Reader Favorites of 2016

Wow. It's New Year's Eve already! There have been a lot of great recipes on this blog in 2016, but without further ado, here are YOUR favorites, across all categories, from this past year.

Honey Sesame Chicken {Instant Pot Recipe}

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Lime Crema

Frosty Lemon Squares

Ritzy Tilapia

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow for what I'll cook in 2017... and thanks again to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing for hosting the countdown.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Countdown to 2017: Best Crock Pot and Instant Pot Dishes of 2016

Today in the Countdown, hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing, we look back at the best Crock pot recipes of this last year as featured here on Cook with Sara. But I couldn't just limit it to the Crock pot -- this year I got an Instant Pot and have loved using it for all sorts of dishes, so I am expanding this category today to include the Instant Pot. I love the instant pot because it can do both - pressure cook and slow cook, among other things. I haven't yet used it to make rice or yogurt, and I have experimented on the many settings, but I've been really pleased with everything I've cooked in it, and have easily adapted crock pot or even stove top meals for the pressure cooker.

If you're considering the IP, but haven't yet taken the plunge, leave me any questions in the comments and I will try to help!

Barbacoa Beef

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps with Quick Pickles

Asian Beef Short Ribs

Macaroni and Cheese

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Countdown to 2017: Best Desserts of 2016

This is almost too difficult a task - how do you narrow it down to just the "best" desserts of 2016? It's not like there were any bad desserts. Really. We should have a post of just all desserts... but that might not keep your attention. So I have managed to narrow it down to five - with a few more coming on Saturday for "reader favorites."

Caramel and White Chocolate Cookies

Blueberry Pancake Ice Cream

Blackberry Orange Cake

Rhubarb Dream Bars

Chocolate Peppermint Poke Cake

Be sure to check out even more favorites lists at Fantastical Sharing!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Countdown to 2017: Best Main Dishes of 2016

Today we're looking back on my favorite main dishes of 2016. There were almost too many to choose from to only pick favorites, so I did get sneaky... you'll see some other favorite main dishes when crock pot meals are featured on Friday! There will also be a few included in the "Reader Favorites" category on New Year's Eve so don't forget to check back!

And now, without further delay, here are my favorite main dishes from 2016.

Sweet and Tangy Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Cheeseburger Soup

Perfect St. Louis or Baby Back Ribs

Bowties with Bacon, Carrots and Peas

Green Chile Enchilada Stack

Thanks again to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing for hosting the Countdown!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Countdown to 2017: Best Breakfasts of 2016

The Countdown continues - revisiting the favorite recipes from 2016 in all different categories. Today breakfasts are featured. Whether you want something hearty or something light, there was plenty to choose from this year. I can always be counted on to make about a million varieties of muffins... but remember, these are just my absolute FAVORITES, so be sure to look in the index if you need more inspiration.

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole

Cherry Almond Coffeecake

Blueberry Baked French Toast

Cranberry Crumble Muffins

Monday, December 26, 2016

Countdown to 2017: Best Apps and Snacks of 2016

I love this time of year between Christmas and New Year's for several reasons, but one of them is that it's great fun to look back on what I've cooked and baked this year! All my faves (and yours too!) will get posted here this week, thanks to the Countdown to 2017 hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.

We'll start the week with the best appetizers and snacks. Now, full disclosure, all of these delicious items that I'm posting as appetizers, I actually served as dinners. But they do double duty! And sometimes appetizers ARE the best dinners. So whether you need party food or supper food, be sure to try one of these great dishes.


Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Meatballs

Shrimp Scampi Dip

Chicken Pepper Jack Flatbread

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chocolate Peppermint Poke Cake

Christmas cookies are the bomb, but I really like having a festive dessert to serve around Christmas time. This cake, which is super easy to prepare, is also super delicious to eat, and looks beautiful to boot!

This cake is modeled after all the "better than" cakes... there are so many varieties now! So let them eat cake. And have a Merry Christmas!

Find more Christmas ideas at Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Full Plate.

Chocolate Peppermint Poke Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix, plus eggs and oil needed for mix
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup hot fudge sauce, warmed
8 ounces Cool Whip
1 package Andes Peppermint Bits
1 cup crushed Candy Cane Oreos

Bake cake according to package directions. While cake is still warm, poke holes all over the top of the cake using the handle of a wooden mixing spoon.

Combine the sweetened condensed milk and hot fudge sauce and whisk well. Pour over the cake, aiming to fill the holes as best as possible. Cover and chill for about an hour. Spread Cool Whip on top and sprinkle the peppermint bits and cookie crumbs over the Cool Whip. Cover and chill for an additional 3 hours (or longer).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hot Cocoa Cookies

I think these will be the definite winner for best Christmas cookie this year. I may have to make another batch to take to Christmas gatherings as they are disappearing rather quickly around here.

And what's not to love? A decadent chocolate cookie base, a marshmallow middle, and delectable chocolate frosting. And sprinkles!

Seriously, these are SO good and SO pretty on a Christmas cookie tray. I hope you'll add them to your plans for Christmas this year. You won't be sorry. Until your pants don't fit. Then we can join a support group together.
Sprinkles make everything better.

Find more great stuff at Hearth and Soul, What's Cookin', Wow Me, Wow Us, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

1/2 cup butter
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
25 or so large marshmallow

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and chocolate, at 50% power at one minute intervals, stirring between each interval. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend until just combined. While mixing, add the flour mixture gradually and blend until just combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Use a tablespoon (or a tablespoon sized cookie scoop) to scoop the dough, then roll the dough in your hands to create balls. Arrange the balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets, then flatten slightly. Bake cookies at 325 for about 12 minutes.

While the cookies bake, cut the large marshmallows in half crosswise. When the cookies have baked, remove from oven and press one marshmallow half (cut side down) into the center of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake another 2-3 minutes. Allow the pan of cookies to cool a few minutes, then transfer cookies to cooling rack.

For the icing, combine melted butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, water and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix together with a whisk. Place wire cooling rack (with cookies on it) over a baking sheet (to catch any excess icing). Spoon a small amount of icing onto the top of each marshmallow, and use the back of the spoon to spread it a bit. After icing just a couple cookies, top with sprinkles before the icing dries.

Allow icing to set up about 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Glorious Treats

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Peppermint Puppy Chow

Peppermint is one of my favorite flavors at Christmastime (or all winter). Case in point: Peppermint Patty Brownies, Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Cookies, Triple Peppermint Cookies, Peppermint Cheesecake Bars, Candy Cane Bundt Cake.

I knew when I saw this recipe that I would have to try it - it's so easy to make and so addicting! But the great thing is, you can just eat a few pieces (or try to eat just a few) after you've sampled several cookies... (not that I have any experience with that.)

This is a great addition to your holiday snacking fare! Hooray for Peppermint.

Find more inspiration at Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Peppermint Puppy Chow

5 cups Rice Chex cereal
10 ounces vanilla flavored Almond Bark
1 cup crushed candy canes
1 cup powdered sugar

Pour the cereal into a large bowl. Place the almond bark in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% power at 45 second intervals until melted. Add the cereal, stirring and folding until the cereal is completely covered. Fold in the crushed candy canes.

Pour the powdered sugar into a zipped-top bag. Pour the cereal mixture in next. Seal the bag or container and shake until all the cereal is coated with the sugar mixture.

Discard excess powder. Store at room temperature up to 2 weeks, if it lasts that long!

Recipe Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole {or anytime casserole!}

A great brunch recipe is a treasure. And this is one. I love this dish! Full of potatoes, eggs and sausage with a little red pepper thrown in for color - it's the perfect holiday breakfast, or supper!

I served this with cranberry salad and gingerbread muffins and it was a wonderful combination. Liven up your holiday breakfast or brunch (or supper!) with this great dish and the high praise will start rolling in!

Get more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole

1 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup red pepper, large diced
1 (30-32oz) bag frozen shredded hash browns
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 cup shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
8 eggs
2 cups milk

In a large skillet, cook sausage, onion and red pepper over medium heat until sausage is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Remove meat and vegetables with a slotted spatula and then drain all but 1 Tbsp. fat. Return skillet to the heat and add hash browns to skillet. Cook until lightly browned.

Place hash browns in bottom of lightly greased 9x13 inch pan. Top with sausage mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and milk. Pour over hash brown mixture.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 8-10.

(If you want to make this ahead of time, after adding the egg mixture, cover and refrigerate. Add ten minutes to the baking time.)

Recipe Source: Adapted from Plain Chicken
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