My top 10 recipes of 2014

They came from strangers’ blogs, the Food Network, sauce-stained cookbooks and my own imagination. The recipes I made in 2014 yielded some favorites and some forgettables. Here’s a round-up of those I’m taking with me into 2015 and beyond…

Green chile chicken


Chicken breasts are like the black pants of the food world. So many possibilities yet I often find myself struggling to come up with a way to prepare them (akin to staring at my closet wondering what shirt to wear). This green chile chicken dish is easy to make. And we love anything Mexican-style. Click here for the recipe.

Avocado and yellow tomato salad


This isn’t really a recipe but I wanted to include it because it became a favorite during the warmer months. My yellow cherry tomato plant was overflowing all summer long, and I couldn’t believe how mild and sweet they were compared to red cherry tomatoes. With chunks of avocado and nothing but lots of kosher salt and pepper, it was simple and healthful — great when everyone in the family was kind of doing their own thing for dinner.

Chicken & wild rice casserole


Hot, brown and comforting: just what casseroles should be! The homemade turkey stock left over from Thanksgiving really made a difference. This is Trisha Yearwood’s recipe.

Midwestern fried chicken


Amy Thielen’s recipe for Midwestern fried chicken is a total keeper. Everyone in the family loved it. It’s marinated in buttermilk then rolled in a flour-Ritz cracker mixture, fried and finished in the oven. The chicken is juicy inside and perfectly golden and crispy outside. Just gotta figure out how to find responsibly raised and processed chickens around here…

Brown sugar salmon


A great way to make salmon using ingredients you probably already have on hand: soy sauce, olive oil and brown sugar. Love. I only know the recipe from memory:

  • Preheat your oven to 425.
  • In bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/3 water. Pour it into a large Ziploc bag.
  • Add up to 4 salmon fillets. Marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes then broil for 3-5 minutes until they’re sizzling at the edges and looking glazed. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Mexicali chopped salad with creamy cilantro dressing

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This was a colorful, warm-weather dinner. You start with a bed of greens and add piles of grape tomatoes, grilled corn, black beans, orange sweet peppers, red onion, avocado and, most important, roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). You can add grilled chicken or keep it meat-free. The dressing was also a keeper. I have made it many times to go with all kinds of salads. Click here for the recipe – it’s on a great blog called Simply Scratch.

Whiskey sour


I’ve been enjoying whiskey and bourbon cocktails in restaurants lately so at Thanksgiving, with the help of my father-in-law (pictured), we attempted to make whiskey sours at home. It’s a shot or two of good whiskey, some simple syrup (boil equal parts water and sugar, then let cool), fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of egg white to make it frothy. Shake and pour over ice. I’ve been tinkering with the measurements. Click here for Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, which I’ve used as a starting point.

Poblano potato gratin


I made this for Thanksgiving and Barrak absolutely loved it. It’s Yukon Gold potatoes that have been sliced thin on the mandoline, roasted poblano peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and a creamy, rich sauce made with creme fraiche. It’s a little spicy for me, and I can’t seem to get the potatoes cooked past al dente until day 2 or 3 when we’ve reheated it a million times. I’ll keep working on that. Still a crowd-pleaser. Click here for the recipe on Food Network (note that I omitted the corn).

Raspberry crumble bars


These bars start with a layer of buttery shortbread. Then you just spread good, jarred raspberry jam over top, then add a crumble made with granola. I like these with coffee or milk. I made them for my dad (maybe for Father’s Day?). The word on the street was he loved them. Click here for Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.

North Star veggie burger knockoffs


This unauthorized recipe helped me replicate the North Star Burger served at the North Star Cafe. It’s a “wow” good veggie burger made with rice, black beans and beets. They are labor-intensive (roasting, peeling and shredding whole beets was kind of a pain) and call for a lot of ingredients, so it’s not something I’d make every week, much to Barrak’s dismay. I need to make these again soon… Click here for the recipe.


My resolutions for 2015


  • Lighten up
  • Start a daily gratitude journal
  • Get out of credit card debt – then cut ’em up!
  • Improve my half marathon race time (currently hovering around 2:15)
  • Run another trail race
  • Stop stressing about all the home improvements I want to make
  • Do one large home renovation this year
  • De-clutter the basement
  • Learn how to play piano
  • Start Tweeting and using Facebook (get over your aversion; it’s here to stay)
  • Eat more meat-free meals
  • Visit uncle Jerry on the farm
  • Buy chickens from local farms instead of grocery store (have you seen Food Inc. yet? Ugh)
  • Answer questions directly
  • Spend more time with my sister
  • Don’t text and drive
  • Go dancing more