2008 favorites

I scanned through my posts from 2008 and managed to narrow it down to about fifty favorites. Then Dave told me that I should choose just ten to recommend. Ten?! Ten?! I was barely able to get it to fifty! But I think he’s right – it’s the best way to make sure the true standouts really get noticed, with the added bonus that I get to add a blurb about each. Except I simply wasn’t able to choose ten – I ended up with nine, and then a list of six that I couldn’t decide between.

9 favorites (in chronological order based on posting date)


Country Crust Bread – I make this all the time. I generally keep some in the freezer, either as a sliced loaf or as rolls. It’s such a perfect sandwich bread – tender, sturdy, and flavorful. And it’s a great recipe for beginner bread bakers because there’s nothing tricky about it and the instructions are so detailed.


Salmon Pesto Pasta – Still Dave’s favorite meal ever. I’ll be making this for his birthday next week. I’ve been making it fairly often lately with storebought pesto because it’s so easy that way. But Dave and I agree that it’s best with homemade pesto.


Bagels – I wish I could keep a supply of these in the freezer all the time, because I like them so much more than storebought. That doesn’t always happen, but I am planning to make a batch tomorrow!


Cinnamon Rolls – This recipe is pieced together from my favorite aspects of a few other recipes. It has just the right balance of tender, sweet, spicy, and rich for me, with the added bonus that almost all of the work can be done the night before the rolls are baked.


Red Beans and Rice – It’s so simple, but I look forward to eating it every time I make it.


Crockpot Pulled Pork – This is by far the most popular recipe on my site. And for good reason – this pork is seriously amazing. I like to keep a supply in the freezer, especially since the recipe makes so much.


Pigs in a Blanket – Gourmet eating at its best. Or not. But they were really good, plus I like the photos quite a bit. My sister often keeps some of these in her freezer for easy lunches for her toddler.


Soba Salad with Feta and Peas – I was surprised by how much I liked this, but it was so good that I’ve made it several times. It’s a weird combination of ingredients that somehow meld together perfectly.


Sushi Bowls – I’m still so proud that I came up with my own recipe. I just took a bunch of my favorite sushi ingredients and mixed them up in a bowl instead of dealing with making rolls. It’s far easier, but just as delicious.


6 honorable mentions
Macaroni and Cheese – last time I made this, I couldn’t stop eating it
Fish Tacos – easy, healthy, and so tasty
Scotch Eggs – definitely not healthy, but worth it
Blueberry Poppy Seed Brunch Cake – tender and lemony with lots of blueberries
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic – best chicken I’ve ever eaten
Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake – I haven’t stopped thinking about this since I made it

I have a couple goals (the word “resolution” seems unpopular this year) for my blog for 2009.

More easy, healthy dinner recipes – Did you notice that of the 15 favorites I picked from the last year, only one is a dessert? But about half the entries in my blog are desserts. I want to focus more on dinner recipes because those are the ones that a lot of people need new ideas for.

More effort into taking photos – One reason that a lot of dinner recipes don’t get posted is that I’m too lazy or rushed to take pictures of dinner. I have this idea that the cooking is the first priority, but I need to keep in mind that photography is an important hobby to me as well.

Basics of Photography page – I’ve had this in the works since August, and it’s almost done now; I just need to make the final push on finishing it. It’ll be for photography beginners, but that’s where I was a year ago, and I think I’ve learned a lot since then.

I learned a lot about cooking, photography, and having a blog in 2008. Here’s to making as much progress in 2009! Happy New Year!

thanksgiving 2008


How did your Thanksgiving turn out? Did you have any mishaps? Did you finish cooking at the time you’d planned? Was there any drama?


Dave and I are spending Thanksgiving by ourselves for the first time this year, and we went for the traditional dinner. We decided we should eat at 4:00, so I scheduled the cooking so we’d eat at 3:30, giving myself some contingency time, and we ended up eating 4:45. So typical for me. But, other than that and an unfortunately large span of time between the green beans being done and the carrots being done, everything came together smoothly and was quite tasty.


The most dreaded part of the meal for me, even more so than rinsing a 12-pound turkey in a too-small sink, was carving the turkey. I am not at all good at it. The short instructional video I watched made it seem so easy, and said that the carved turkey could be displayed just as nicely as the whole bird. Well, that certainly didn’t happen. My “carved” thigh meat was ready to be put straight into turkey salad sandwiches.


But it tasted good – the turkey had picked up a wonderful bit of allspice flavor from its brine. The stuffing was great even though I left it in the oven far too long, and the rolls were buttery and sweet, although weirdly flaky. The green beans and carrots were delicious, the potatoes were pleasantly tangy from the buttermilk, and gravy, oh, the gravy. I want to pour it over everything. Now, we’re finishing up a nice Pinot Noir, and I, for one, am thinking about pie. I’ve been thinking about pie all day.


5 question meme

Ah, that was possibly the best vacation ever. Six days with nothing to do but play in the waves, take pictures of my nephews, and drink beer on the beach. Everyone got along at least as well as could be expected, and I found that family vacations are that much more enjoyable when my husband is there too.

Shortly before I left, I was tagged by Elizabeth for the meme that’s been going around.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago I had just finished my first year of college, and I was spending the summer back at home working at a shoe store. I remember going hiking with my high school friends and my college roommate coming over once a week to eat tomato soup and watch TV.

What are 5 things on your to-do list today?

1 – Balance the checkbook and pay bills
2 – See a movie (We’ll do rock-paper-scissors to decide if we see Indiana Jones or Sex and the City)
3 – Pick through my pictures from the vacation, deleting the blurry or redundant ones
4 – Work on some job search correspondence
5 – Go to the bookstore and drink a cappuccino

5 snacks that I enjoy

1 – Ripe, seasonal fruit
2 – Cheese and crackers
3 – Beer (hey, it’s filling)
4 – Crudite, especially cauliflower, with dip
5 – Treats!  Cookies, brownies, muffins, any of that…

Things I would do if I was a billionaire:

1 – Various donations and such
2 – Buy a house on the beach
3 – Buy a boat and spend tons of time on it
4 – Pay for all of my nephews and nieces (and I suppose my kids when I have them) to go to the college of their choice
5 – Never work a 9-to-5 desk job

Places I’ve lived:

Buffalo Grove, IL
Hafr Al Batin, Saudi Arabia
Carlsbad, NM
Albuquerque, NM
Las Cruces, NM
(Carlsbad, NM, again)
South Bend, IN
Binghamton, NY
Syracuse, NY
Philadelphia area, PA

Jobs I’ve had:

Cashier and cook at a pizza joint
Stocker at a shoe store
Tutor during college
Intern at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Cashier at Blockbuster
Teaching assistant while working on my master’s degree
Research assistant while working on my PhD
Adjunct professor

Since I’m late getting to this meme and it looks like most people have participated, I’m not going to tag anyone.