Best Of 2011: The Recipes

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas weekend!  Today Lukus and I are partaking in our day-after-Christmas shopping tradition.

But that doesn’t mean I am abandoning you.  Instead, this week is dedicated to some of my favorite posts from over the past year.

I am starting this little compilation with some of my favorite recipes over the past year.

Check them out and let me know— which is your favorite?

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Shrimp and Garlic Pizza


Grown-Up Sweet Tea


Spinach & Lentil Curry Soup


Blackberry and Nectarine Pie



Kitchen Necessities

I have been doing an INSANE amount of cooking lately… between Christmas-baking, cooking for friends and Lukus’ packed lunch (have I mentioned my husband is extremely spoiled?) it just doesn’t seem to end.  So my kitchen and the tools that make up my cooking arsenal have been put to constant use.

Of course I have my favorites.  The tools that make the experience not only easier, but dare I saw enjoyable?  Check out my list of the most necessary kitchen gear.  It is sure to get you through this cooking season or provide you with the perfect gift for the chef in your circle.

DeLonghi Triblade Immersion Blender available at Sur la table.

Immersion Blender:  This is the tool that anyone and everyone should have.  Regardless of how much they cook.  I use it for making soups, chopping onions, smoothing, whipping… I can go on and on!!!  This will become your absolutely favorite tool.

Wusthof "Classic" knife set, available at Bloomingdales.

Knives:  And I don’t mean a cheap set, but some really fantastic knives.  They make all the difference in making food look its best, plus they cut down on prep time (I SWEAR I didn’t mean to make that pun).  We have Wusthof “Classic” and they are pretty fantastic.  Make sure you get the knives appropriate for the work you are doing.

10 piece Glass Bowl Set, available at Williams Sonoma.

Glass Bowl Set:  Sets of glass bowls of varying sizes are amazing.  They can be used for prep and/or serving.  The weight of the bowls make them ideal for mixing and the different sizes are great for holding prepped ingredients.  As serving bowls, their transparency allows for the contents to be the star.  They also nest together so storing them is a breeze.

Reynolds Parchment Paper, available at your local grocers.

Parchment Paper:  This is the cheapest of my favorite tools, but don’t let that fool you.  This is pretty amazing stuff.  It can be used in the oven or in the microwave.  It is great for cookies, fish en papillote, and a myriad of other uses.  Parchment Paper cuts back on the need to grease surfaces and it makes for much easier clean up.  Don’t tackle a big cooking or baking project without it!

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, available at Macy's.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer:  First off, you can’t sub another brand, it has to be Kitchen Aid. I know, this is the Holy Grail of baking and with good reason.  It is amazing.  Let’s put it this way, in a matter of hours I was able to bake 4 types of cookies and chocolate espresso mousse without developing tennis elbow from the mixing.

Football Recap

With College Football coming to a close, so do my football posts.  Don’t fear!  I will be back with special posts when deemed necessary (say Steelers making a playoff run!).  In the mean time, be sure to check out my weekday posts and Sundays’ Wine Of The Week. And if you feel you missed out on a crucial football post this season, please check out the below links.  In the meantime, cheer on the Steelers and Seminoles this weekend- as both teams have major match-ups!

On The Defensive: An explanation of both Zone and Man-to-Man coverage.

Playing Quarterback: A look at the quarterback position.

Many Happy Returns: The importance of the returner with special attention paid to Devin Hester.

Light Up The Scoreboard: How points are scored in Football.

Turnover Treachery: Understanding the dreaded turnover.

Linebackers And Controversy: A closer examination of the big hit controversy, James Harrison and the role of the linebacker.

The NFL is Hexed: 5 of the key curses said to haunt the NFL.

Understanding The Waiver Wire: An explanation of how the waiver wire works and how it pertains to Randy Moss.

Breaking Down The NFL: A look at the conferences and divisions that make up the NFL and the way the schedule is determined.

Reinventing Michael Vick: A look back at Michael Vick’s fall from grace and a look at where he is now.

The Difference In The Details: A closer examination of how the rules in the NFL differ from NCAA football.

50 yard line on football field.