2017 – what a year. This year has been filled with a whirlwind of exciting, challenging, new, and wonderful memories and experiences. Between being pregnant for a large chunk of the year, having our first baby, my husband deploying when our son was seven weeks old, and quitting my teaching job to go full time with the blog, it has been one for the books!
It will definitely go down as one of my favorite years because Ford was born, which has changed our world drastically in amazing (and chaotic 😬) ways, but it has been full of challenges as well. Pregnancy was not a beautiful walk in the park for me like it is for some women. It was full of raging hormones that turned me into quite the challenging individual, and LOTS of discomfort, but I still loved watching my belly get bigger and bigger, knowing we had a healthy little boy just growin’ away in there. The most challenging part of this year has been raising that #adorbs little man while Seth has been deployed. He left when Ford wasn’t quite two months old, and every day since then has been full of wonderful yet very challenging moments.
Single raising a baby is no joke, peeps. I have mad respect for the women who single parent full time – at least I have an end date that I know we will be back to a two-parent household. The roller coaster of single parenting a baby = moments of absolute bliss and wonder as I watch this sweet little baby boy grow and change, make me laugh until my stomach hurts, and learn and develop new little behaviors and abilities on a weekly basis + moments of total exhaustion, cluelessness, and thoughts of “good LORD I cannot wait one more second for Seth to be back and help me with this.” The wonderful thing is that no matter how challenging the difficult days are, and trust me – there are many – the good days and good moments far outweigh the hard ones. But still…hurry home, Seth! We miss you!
Along with many bright moments and many “I’m going to lose my freakin’ mind” moments, there has been lots of food. Lots and lots of food. Which brings me to my top fifteen recipes from this year! The ones that induced little happy dances around the kitchen after taking the first bite and the ones that I could hardly wait to share with you, my internet friends. On that note – let’s get this party started.
Ah, my first step into the world of Lasagna Rollups. THEY ARE SO MUCH FUN. In my mind, I figured rolling up lasagna would be a hot dang mess, but it turns out they roll up into nice, mess-free, adorable little packages. They are fun to make and VERY fun to eat. I’m partial to these lovely little spirals of pasta deliciousness because they ditch the traditional lasagna flavors and are loaded with a chicken alfredo filling instead.
Which makes me cry tears of pasta joy.
Who isn’t a ragingly aggressive fan of mac and cheese? What is there not to love with a burning passion about it? Cheesy, melty, rich sauce coating a heaping pot of al dente pasta – SO MUCH FOOD OBSESSION HAPPENING HERE. This one is extra special because you make it all in one pot – this was during my one pot pasta (❤️) phase – and it has not one, not two, but three cheeses mixed in. It’s heaven in a bowl, let’s just state the facts.
Alright, I had a serious moment with this one. Black magic happens when you make this recipe, transforming brown rice into a creamy, decadent, rich, risotto-like dish that is just loaded with flavor and to-die-for texture. It feels like you are indulging at a five star restaurant with a meal that you’ll need to work off for an hour sprinting your lungs out on a treadmill, BUT IT’S BROWN RICE. This excites me.
You must try it and share in my disbelief at the brown rice transformation.
If you follow my blog regularly, you know how much I love creating fun and unique vegetarian recipes that make you forget about missing the meat, and this is the epitome of that! Tikka Masala is often made with chicken, but this roasted cauliflower version is just…SO CHOICE. Roasted cauliflower is a veggie superstar, and when you coat it in a creamy, flavorful Tikka Masala sauce? I’ll take nine servings, please and thank you.
Asian noodle dishes give me all the feels. Rice noodles are my favorite, so this dish just happens to fulfill all my food dreams. It’s saucy, it’s loaded with yummy Asian flavor, and – most importantly – it’s loaded with rice noodles, which I could proooobbbsss eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the reg and not be one bit upset about it.
This is not only one of my favorite recipes from 2017, but it’s one of my favorite recipes of all time. Not only is pork tenderloin a fantastic source of lean protein, it could NOT be easier to prepare than this. We’re talkin’ a thirty minute roast in the oven and BAM – hello wonderful and impossibly juicy pork tenderloin with a spice rub so mouthwatering it makes people weep. Drizzle that apple cider sauce over top and oohhhhh my goodness…fall and winter joy!
Again with my Asian noodle obsession. This one is cr-ayyy-zy yummy with our juicy chicken, tender udon noodles, and embarassingly easy teriyaki sauce, which you will NEVER buy from the store again once you realize how easy it is to make at home! (Spoiler – it’s literally made with three things…soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic. How…why…magic.)
I’m not quite sure there is a more drool-inducing combination of items that you could top a piece of toast with than goat cheese, caramelized onions, and toasted pine nuts. It’s not even fair to other appetizers and party foods…GET OUT OF HERE, goat cheese toasts – you’re cheating. In the most delicious way possible.
Goat cheese, caramelized onions, and pine nuts are individually three things that just make me happy about life, but when you combine them together and pile them on top of toasted bread that has been lovingly rubbed with a clove of garlic? Standby for actual footage of me consuming said toasts >>> 💃🏻💃🏻💃🏻💃🏻.
I love me some chili. Chili simmering on your stove when you’re hibernating in your house during those cold winter months (whatup frigid Kansas) is the picture of cozy joy! This chili is extra tasty because it is loaded with chipotle flavor. We not only add chipotles in adobo sauce, but we also throw in some chipotle chili powder in there too, cranking the smoky flavor up to a million on the Richter scale of deliciousness.
#10 – Pork in Garlic Sauce
Pork in garlic sauce just so happens to be one of my favorite takeout dishes, but this at-home version knocks any takeout place out of the park. The tender pork swimming in flavor-bomb garlic sauce that is just begging to be soaked up with some tender white rice? OH LAWD it will put you on a one way flight to flavor town, friends.
^^^ Quite possibly THE most flavorful stew in the existence of planet earth. Like…seriously, the flavor here will blow your mind. On its own, pork shoulder is flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth fantastic, but when we simmer it for hours in a base made with roasted tomatillos, red onion, garlic, jalapenos, and chicken stock? Holy Moses. This also marks the beginning of my journey with hominy – aka fermented corn kernels that taste like little morsels of corn tortillas that have a texture similar to chickpeas. Me + hominy = best friends. It’s so yummy and the perfect addition to this stew.
What you are currently viewing is the absolute epitome of comfort food. Tender ground turkey and veggies coated in a delicious and light gravy, topped with creamy mashed potatoes and baked until bubbly? It’s one of those soul healing meals that make you just feel good. This is why I love fall and winter food.
I’ve preeetttyy much given up on ever trying to create a new burger recipe because it will be basically impossible for me to top THIS BURGER. Oh. My. Goodness, the love I have for this is beyond words. The juicy burger, melty cheese, garlicky green chili mayo (my obsession beyond all obsessions) and runny egg that coats each bite of burger lightly in silky, rich egg yolk…I’m resisting throwing my computer on the ground and driving aggressively to the store to buy the ingredients to make this burger STAT. So good.
This is one of my all time – ALL TIME – favorite soups. Don’t you love when recipes are so crazy simple but taste AMAZING? It makes me happy because it really means you are showcasing the ingredients well and not adding a billion extra flavors that mask everything. This soup is made up of humble, simple things. Roasted potatoes, roasted fennel, shallots, garlic, chicken stock, and milk. The flavors speak for themselves, and they come together to create a thick, smooth, TO DIE FOR soup! Just try it, you’ll be in love.
And bringing up the rear is homemade sweet potato gnocchi lightly coated in a savory and slightly sweet maple butter sauce. I feel like the only words that need to be spoken here are HOMEMADE GNOCCHI. If you’ve never made gnocchi from scratch, it’s not nearly as intimidating as it sounds, and it’s easier than making regular pasta. The result is tender pillows of deliciously dense gnocchi PERFECTION. As Nike says, just do it, yo.
And that’s it! My best recipes from 2017. I have had so much fun spending this past year with you, internet friends, and sharing lots and lots of food. It has been a crazy, chaotic, wonderful, difficult, busy, awesome year, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds! Happy New Year!