Would you believe me if I said I've only baked once this month? It's amazing how much focused, free time I've had since completing Tuesdays with Dorie. I miss the fun of TWD. But I love the extra time I have in my schedule for exercising, painting my nails, writing thank you notes, developing my own recipes, going out with friends, quilting, organizing my home, reading, ping pong, playing board games and much more! It's quite refreshing.
Like many of you, I made a list of specific items I wanted to accomplish in 2012. Among that list, was a focus on cooking...and cooking within my means, whether that be time or financial resources. I genuinely love being in the kitchen--I crave the creativity that I feel when I am making meals and the satisfaction from feeding my family. It's so fun to discover new flavors, techniques and recipes that will become staples in our home. This month I found myself delighted with many great recipes to try. Some are from food bloggers and others from cookbooks I own. Let's review them, shall we?
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal by Two Peas and Their Pod
I've made this recipe at least three times. It's warm and delicious. It's fantastic as is, but I've mixed it up and doubled the apples and tripled the cinnamon. Last time I made it I doubled the recipe and we enjoyed it all week long. It refrigerates well.
Toasted-Coconut Pecan Butter by Heather's Dish
This recipe was a revelation. On a week where I wasn't allowing myself sweets, it sure stepped up as a great substitute. (Yes, I understand it was full of fat and that my coconut was probably sweetened...but at least it wasn't a cupcake or gelato!) I had it by itself or with a sliced apple. I loved it cold, too.
Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce by Two Peas and Their Pod
I talked about this Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce recipe for days. I even persuaded like five friends and family members to make it within a week. It's crazy how quick it comes together (15 minutes, people) and it was so yummy. It made for a perfect Sunday lunch. I will be keeping avocados on hand now just for this recipe.
Roasted Fajita Chickpeas by Heather's Dish
These roasted chickpeas were a great afternoon or evening snack. I like the flavor of fajitas, though I think next time I make them I would make some seasoning adjustments that suite my preferences better. I do have to say I though, the baking time was right on par.
Bruleed Grapefruit by The Vintage Mixer
I'm always inspired by Becky's monthly local and seasonal produce list and recipes. I never buy enough grapefruits...and I have no idea why. We love grapefruit in our house. This 3 minute recipe was a good breakfast any day of the week. Plus, I love using real maple syrup.
West African Chicken & Peanut Stew with Chiles, Ginger and Green Onions by Kalyn's Kitchen
It's not everyday peanut butter is used in savory dishes, so I was excited to make this stew. I love ethnic flavors. It was particularly cold on the evening we enjoyed this...it was so warm and comfy and spoke to our souls. The green onions are a must-have. I served it over my recipe for pureed cauliflower...which I plan to share very soon!
Hambone and Bean Soup Mix Soup by Honey Baked Ham Company
We won a ham at a company party and with only two people in the house this recipe was the perfect solution to using up the rest of the meat and hambone. It was yummy and made SO much soup.
Grapefruit Poppy Seed Loaf by The Year in Food
This loaf cake was technically the only item I baked this month. That is nuts. For a girl who baked nearly 60 recipes from September to November, I sure got a break. I loved using grapefruit in baking, along with alternative ingredients like yogurt and olive oil and whole wheat flour. The result was delicious. It was a very delicious and subtle citrus treat.
Tuna Sandwich with Coconut and Cilantro by The Year in Food
This take on the tuna sandwich is enough to bring converts to the church of tuna. The flavors are complex, bright and at time buttery delicious. I loved how it allowed me to use up random ingredients in my fridge and pantry like capers, green onions, cilantro and flaked coconut.
Spicy Mexican Coleslaw with Lime and Cilantro by Kalyn's Kitchen
No picture here, but man this coleslaw was good. I think I ate half the recipe all by myself. Next time I make fish tacos I'm absolutely topping them with this coleslaw.
Hachis Parmentier by Dorie Greenspan from Around My French Table Cookbook
I've had this French-style Shephard's Pie dish on my to-make list for nearly 2 years! I'll tell you what, it was worth the wait. You make your own beef broth (bouillon) and pair it with sausage and cubed steak for the filling. The topping is sinfully creamy mashed potatoes with heavy cream, whole milk, Gruyere and Parmesan. Man we loved this dish.
Fresh Ginger Ice Cream with Homemade Speculoos Cookies by David Lebovitz in The Perfect Scoop
Confession: I actually made this in December. But I had to include it. I love ginger and it was so fun to make ginger ice cream. I think next time I'll double or triple the amount of ginger, as I would have liked to make it more prominent. If you make the recipe, be sure to make the speculoos cookies to mix in. They provide a nice spice and crunch to contrast the ginger ice cream.
Salmon Cakes by America's Test Kitchen in America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
We were left with a bunch of salmon filet leftovers and turned them into salmon cakes. Holy cow delicious. I even opted out of pan-frying them and baked one. It turned out just as flavorful and much more healthy!
Oven-Roasted Home Fries by America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Perfect Long-Grain Brown Rice Cooking Method by America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Breakfast Sandwiches with Perfect Fried Eggs by America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
This cookbook is a staple in our home. The recipes are tried and true and we have loved every single one we've tried! I highly recommend you get yourself a copy.
I love trying new things and I love putting my cookbooks to use. Afterall, why do we buy them anyway? I love the food blogging community. I love following other food blogs and trying out their recipes. I love how I can wake up one morning, not know what I'm making for dinner and then find an inspiring recipe on a blog and whip it up that night. On the other hand, say I've got a grapefruit that needs to be used up. I can search my favorite food blogs and find a recipe for that ingredient.
What did you make this month? I'd love any recommendations for February.