Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Top Ten Recipes of 2011 from Kalyn's Kitchen (plus Ten Honorable Mentions)

Here are my top ten recipes of the year, plus ten more equally delicious honorable mentions!

I love the "best recipe" lists that pop up on food blogs this time of year, even though every year I have a hard time narrowing down my own list!  I never post any recipe unless I really like it, so this year when I went through the monthly archives saving links for potential favorites I ended up with a list of 32 recipes!  Then I reluctantly eliminated some of those favorites until I narrowed it down to just 20.  Even harder was picking which of those 20 recipes made it into the top ten!  

There were a couple of fun things I noticed this year.  Four of my picks came from readers, friends, or relatives who shared the recipe with me, so thanks to Lisa, Dolores, Pam, and Trina.  There were also some ingredients that showed up frequently; things like kale, sweet potatoes, Sriracha Sauce, ground turkey, Feta cheese, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, sumac, and brown rice were used a lot in my kitchen.  For the first time, this year I considered social media recognition in picking the top recipes, so posts that received the most Facebook likes, stumbles from StumbleUpon, or pins from Pinterest were more likely to get chosen.  (And thanks to everyone who uses those social media buttons to let me know when recipes appeal to you!)  Now, here are the favorites I picked and a little bit about why I chose each one.

When a reader name Lisa sent me this recipe, she called it "dumb salad" and told me it was a huge favorite at her house.  I re-named it Not-So-Dumb Salad with with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions, Avocado, and Balsamic Vinegar, and this recipe was wildly popular.  It also appeared over and over on the table at my house when I had ripe garden tomatoes.

When the idea popped into my head for Seven Layer Tostadas, I couldn't imagine why I'd never thought of it before, since Seven Layer Dip is something that's been on the menu for every Denny family part for years!

I don't post desserts all that often on the blog, but when I spotted this recipe for Low-Sugar Coconut Almond Macaroon Cookies in one of the South Beach cookbooks and noticed it was a Phase One dessert, I had to try it.  I loved these cookies.

My friend Trina told me about the cranberry salsa she made every year for Thanksgiving, and when she let me share the recipe for Trina's Low-Sugar Fresh Cranberry Salsa with Cilantro, Lime, and Jalapeno readers loved it too.  I made this myself for several family parties during the holidays, usually served as Cranberry Salsa Cream Cheese Holiday Appetizer.

Although I loved this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew with Coconut Milk that's made in the CrockPot,  I was actually a bit surprised when it became a big hit on the blog.   Who knew sweet potatoes and ground turkey were so popular?

My friend Dolores shared her recipe for a layered casserole with cabbage, ground beef, rice, and tomato sauce, and I turned it into Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole.  I was crazy about this recipe, especially since I've never had the patience to try making actual stuffed cabbage.
 
It was my sister Pam who spotted this recipe for Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake and shared it with me.  Pam changed the recipe a bit and I changed it a bit more, and this is another recipe that became enormously popular on the blog.  This is one that I know I'll make every year when zucchini season comes around.

This Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad might not be everyone's cup of tea, but my nephew Jake and I absolutely could not stop eating this the day we tested the recipe, and I've made it many times since.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Feta and Sumac was a dish that combined so many of my favorite flavors that it was a cinch I would like it, and this just might be my very favorite way to cook sweet potatoes.

I got fixated on the idea of savory zucchini muffins, and it took me quite a few tries to come up with this recipe for Savory Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Green Chiles and Cheese.  These muffins were definitely worth the trouble though!


Ten More Honorable Mentions from 2011
~Jake and I were skeptical the whole time we were making Ground Turkey and Quinoa Patties with Mint, Cumin, and Yogurt-Tahini Sauce, but we loved the combination of flavors when we tasted them.

~I let my sister Pam try a sample of Spinach and Feta Casserole with Brown Rice and Parmesan, and she asked for the recipe before I had even posted it on the blog!

~Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce was one of the recipes I came up with for a Meatless Monday post, and I loved how this turned out.

~When I got a new stainless steel grill pan, Grilled Sriracha-Sesame Turkey Meatballs were the first thing I cooked on it, but you could also cook them in a pan.

~Another recipe with that spicy flavor I've gotten so addicted to was Sriracha Deviled Eggs.  If you like eggs and Sriracha, this is a must try!

~Spicy Broccoli-Jicama Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Black Sesame Seeds was a recipe idea that popped into my mind after I fell in love with jicama, and I loved the crunch in this salad.

~When I posted Mediterranean Tostadas with Hummus, Feta, and Kalamata Olives I said I thought they were one of my best recipe ideas ever, and this is something I could eat for lunch just about every day and never get tired of it.

~I've been a long-time fan of sugar snap peas, but Spicy Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas was the first time I used them as a cooked side dish.  I loved this recipe, especially the method of cutting the pea pods diagonally so the tiny peas would show inside!

~After my brother Dave and his wife Amy gave me lots of frozen wild salmond I made Asian-Flavored Wild Salmon Patties with Ginger, Scallions, and Sesame-Lime Mayonnaise, and the recipe is now one of my favorite ways to cook salmon.

~And finally, some people may be surprised to see two broccoli salads on my list, but I could not leave out Barely Blanched Broccoli Salad with Feta and Fried Almonds.  This is one of those salads that are hard to stop eating, and my step-sister Karyn told me she has also been making this over and over.




Sharing recipes wouldn't be much fun without feedback, so thanks to everyone who's been reading my blog and trying the recipes during 2011.   And if you found a new recipe in 2011 that rocked your world, I'd love to know what it was (and where you found it if it's not from this blog.)
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20 comments:

  1. Love all of your recipes. It is so fun looking back at the year. It certainly was a tasty one! Happy New Year!

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  2. I think adding some finely chopped tomato and cucumber to the Mediterranean Tostadas (and making them on pita bread) would make them absolutely perfect.

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  3. Oh, those seven-layer tostadas are pure genius. I can't wait to try them. Great recipes as always, Kalyn!

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  4. I love that Sriracha is finding its way into more of your recipes (you know how addicted I am to all things hot and spicy). It's fun to look back and realize how many great things you've created in your kitchen! Thanks for sharing your favorites.

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  5. How did I miss that sweet potato recipe?!

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  6. I've made a lot of your recipes this year so I'm surprised that there aren't more on the favorites list that I've tried. Just gives me more to add to the list, and I think that the spinach and feta casserole is going to be first!

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  7. Thanks Maria. There was not a shortage of good food around here.

    Sally, that sounds great to me!

    Sarah, I love that combination of flavors; hope you do try them.

    Lydia, I am now on my third bottle of Sriracha!

    Pam, must have been a busy week for you! But not too late to try it.

    Julie, hope you like it! Glad to hear you've been trying a lot of things (those must have been some of the ones I had to eliminate!)

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  8. I have tried and loved many of your recipes this year, Kalyn.

    Season with Spice's mushroom soup was a great find, too.

    Of my own recipes, I'd probably count this okra recipe as my personal favorite of 2011. It gives me a special kick when a recipe turns out well without much forethought!

    Best wishes to you for a very happy New Year.
    - S

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  9. Is there a possibility of a cookbook in your future? I would LOVE to have all these healthy, yummy recipes in one place. These flavorful recipes are what is missing in "healthy" cookbooks! I will continue to prop up my ipad in the kitchen and print off your recipes at work. However, with your wealth of knowledge about food, herbs, cooking, and health I can definitely see a cookbook in your future.

    This is my first post. We have fallen off the SB wagon and are hopping back on this week. Thanks for wonderful inspiration to get us started!

    Christine

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  10. Great picks! I've made and loved the Not-So-Dumb salad and the Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes (an adapted version) I've made twice! When I made them for the second time a friend of mine said that it was actually the first time he really liked sweet potatoes!

    I love sweet potatoes but it would never cross my mind to cook them with sugar, honey etc. I wish sweet potatoes were a bit lower on the glycemic index, though. Then I could enjoy them more often.

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  11. I always think that I am going to come to one of these "Ten Best or Favorite Recipes" post and see one or two I want to make, but gee whiz, Kalyn, I want to try then all! Scrumptious! And a very Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your family! x

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  12. I'll be honest, I basically bookmark everything you make, but these really are some of my "starred" bookmarks. I can't believe I still haven't made those sweet potatoes!

    Here's to a new year of great recipes on Kalyn's Kitchen!

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  13. Steaming Pot, thanks for sharing some favorites.

    Christine, I have no plans to write a cookbook. I'm not sure I would have time to develop so many new recipes and keep up the blog (and many of my recipes on the blog are adapted from other sources so I wouldn't want to use them in a book.) But thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Sue, those are both favorite of mine!

    Jamie, Happy New Year to you too!

    Joanne, you are too sweet. And here's to a year of great recipes on Eats Well with Others too!

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  14. Kalyn - I first made your spicy/sweet sweet potato stew a couple of months ago, and it has become one of my family's favorites that will now be in our regular rotation. Sooo delicious and warming on a cold winter night.

    Can't wait to try some of the other top 10s that I haven't tried yet. I have a cabbage from my recent CSA box so I think your deconstructed stuffed cabbage will be on the menu this weekend.

    ~Alice

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  15. You were very busy in 2011, Kalyn! If I had to choose, I'd say the Not So Dumb Salad would be my favorite, probably because of the avocado. :-) Happy New Year!

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  16. Alice, so glad you've been enjoying the spicy sweet potato stew! I think you'll like the Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage too.

    Andrea, yes busy indeed. I love that salad too, and you're right, it's the way the avocado kind of "melts" into the dressing that makes it so good!

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  17. I have really enjoyed all your recipes in 2011 and that Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad is one of my favorites. Happy New Year and wishing you all the best in in 2012 Kalyn!

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  18. These are so wonderful -- love the savory zucchini muffins! If you are so inclined, we would love to have this collection of recipes shared as part of our best recipes of 2011 party! All the links are still open, and it would be great to have these there too!


    Happy New Year!

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  19. A belated happy new year - I am quite behind with my blog reading this year but I always love your yearly recap and have been loving reading this one and bookmarking like crazy - best wishes for 2012 and lots more lovely recipes

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  20. Thanks Johanna, and I am honored if you're liking a lot of my meat-free ideas!

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Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

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