Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Years Updates, Part II

On Thursday, I happily shared my list of novels that helped me accomplish my first resolution of 2015.  I then went on to brag that I am counting both of my resolutions as successes, although technically number 2 had the asterisk by it.  I'm now here to explain that asterisk.

Not the asterisk, rather plum poppy seed muffins
My second goal was to cook one new recipe a week.  I was trying to grow and I love to cook and it was the natural choice.  And for 26 weeks (half a year people) I kept that resolution.  But then life got in the way and one new recipe a week wasn't always going to work out.  How then, you may ask, did I count this technically failed resolution as a win?  There were so many weeks that I not only cooked one new recipe, but sometimes two or three or, in one epic baking weekend, five!  Yes, I missed 4 weeks (although, there were somewhat legit excuses each time like weddings and going to Chile...), but by my count, in 2015 I made 90 new recipes.  And to me, that is an epic success.

Ben's 27th birthday cake - new recipe number 7 - brown butter hazelnut cake
As with my list of novels, I so loved writing down what recipes I tried each week in my handy-dandy purse sized date book (seriously, love that thing).  I had even more fun compiling the list at the end of the year.  And what do you know?  There were some lessons learned as well. 

Lessons such as, I only cooked one recipe from my Bon Appetit magazines.  So, between that and being eternally annoyed by their pretentiousness, the subscription is officially canceled!  Conversely, I love me some Smitten Kitchen.  And Martha Stewart.  And while not every dish that I made out of Cooking Light was a knock out, they're consistently good and only one was truly terrible.  This was unexpected, but a good surprise.  Finally, I am dependent on a few go-to cookbooks.  Which is great, but when you have a larger than average cookbook collection, you should dig into deeper.  Which leads me into New Year's Resolution #2 of 2016:

Cook 100 new recipes.  At least one recipe from each cookbook I own.

I'm forgoing the one new recipe a week clause (but will internally keep to it, since otherwise there is no way I'll make it to 100.  I'll just feel no guilt if I miss a week or four and give myself a break from ridiculous self imposed stress).  And I'm adding the cookbook one.  With the thought that if I don't cook from a cookbook in 2016, it may need to go.  (I say may because I love looking at my pretty collection.  This would be heart-wrenching.  But hopefully also butt-motivating.  I'm looking at you Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook). 

Old picture of cookbook collection.  It now fills out one side completely and has started it's way across the back.  Don't judge me.
There you have it!  Basically the same two resolutions as last year, but I liked them and I'm going with it.  Plus, I tweaked both, so technically they are harder.  See, I am growing!  Lastly, if you are interested, here is the list of everything new that I made this year in the kitchen, with links to some of the very best.  Everyone else, you may skip the rest of the post.

Technically not a new recipe this year, rather an oldie, but a goodie

A Year of Recipes

☼ - Loved, but haven't found the excuse to make again yet.  But we will, oh yes we will
♥ - Loved and was made more than once this year!  (in some cases, too many times to admit (I'm looking at your butterscotch pudding)
ATK: America's Test Kitchen
BA: Bon Appetit
CI: Cook's Illustrated
CL: Cooking Light
MS: Martha Stewart (book or blog)
NYT: Essential NY Times Cookbook
RSB: Raw Spice Bar
SK: Smitten Kitchen (book or blog)

Week 1 Corn Bread in Cast Iron Skillet
Week 2 Butterscotch Pudding (SK) ♥
Jerk Chicken Chili (One Dish) ♥
Week 3 One Skillet Lemon Chicken (CL)
Week 4 Blondies (CI)  ♥
Mushroom Marsala Bake (SK)  ♥
Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake - Ben's 27th bday cake (SK) ☼
Week 5 Curry Chicken en Papillote
Baker's One Bowl Brownies
Week 6 Beef and Squash Chili (BA)
Tacos al Carbon (Homesick Texan)  ♥
Week 7 Sweet and Sour Brisket (SK) ☼
Week 8 Chicken Waterzooi Soup (F52)  ♥
Chicken Stuffed with Sausage (CL) ☼
Week 9 Rhubarb Curd Shortbread (F52)
Week 10 Roasted Chicken with acorn squash, musrooms and onions (MS)
Mom's Lasagna  ♥
Week 11 Corned Beef and Cabbage
Week 12 Ginger Snap Peas (MS)  ♥
Week 13 Little Lamb Patties (CL) ☼
And apparently something from America's Test Kitchen… but I wrote the name of the recipe as Test Kitchen, so we may never know what I cooked
Week 14 Slow Cooker Chicken Mole (CL)
Potatoes au Gratin (F52)
Robin's Eggs Cookies
Week 15 Slow Cooker French Onion (CL)
Blueberries and Cream Cookies (Milk Bar)
Week 16 Brownie Roll Out Cookies (SK) ♥
Zuppa Toscana
Week 17 Slow Cooker Guiness Pulled Pork
Asain Quinoa Slaw
Week 18 Prok Bahn Mi (CL)
Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream (D. Leowitz) ☼
Week 19 Rigatoni with Goat Cheese (MS)
Week 20 Strawberry Sorbet (SK)
Week 21 Orange Curry Pork Chops and Chai Rice (CL)
Blean Bean Burgers
Week 22 Yeasted Waffles (CI) ♥
Apricot Ginger Bread (Tipsy) ♥
Week 23 Chai Spiced Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
Week 24 Grilled Pizza Dough (MS) ♥
Week 25 Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
Week 26 Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Peaches and Blueberries (SK) ☼
Week 27
Week 28 Greek Chickpea Salad
Week 29 Grilled Bean and Cheese Stuffed Poblanos (CL)
Week 30 Plum and Poppy Seed Muffins (SK) ♥
Coffee Cake Muffins (Bittman) ☼
Week 31
Week 32 Berliner Meatballs ☼
Week 33
Week 34 Chilean Cooking Class!
Week 35 Chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms (MS)
Chicken Fajitas (SK)
Chocolate Biscotti
Week 36
Week 37 Butterscotch Cashew Bars (NYT) ☼
Week 38 Broccoli Salad (SK) ☼
Sausage Stuffed Zucchini (MS) ☼
Chicken Biryani (One Dish) ☼
Week 39 Summer Squash Noodle Bake (SK)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies (SK) ☼
Lahmacun/"Lamb Pizza" (RSB)
Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower (RSB)
Week 40 Apricot Pork Chop (MS) ♥
Hot Fudge Pudding (Tipsy)
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup (CL)
Week 41 Tomato, Butter and Onion Sauce ☼
Italian Meatballs ☼
Carmelized Onion Grilled Cheese (SK) ♥
Cornbread (Tipsy) ♥
Pumpkin Muffins (Flour)
Week 42 Soy Braised Chicken with Star Anise and Orange
Switchel (F52) ♥
Week 43 Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl (SK)
Malaysian Laska (RSB)
Week 44 Broccoli, Bacon, Squash and Cheese (CL) ☼
Creamy Curried Sweet Potato Soup (NYT) ☼
Week 45 Granola (ATK) ♥
Lasagna (CI) ☼
Week 46 S'Mores Bars (Tipsy)
Broccoli Cheddar Soup (SK)
Rioja Beef (One Dish) ☼
Week 47 Beer Braised Chicken and Mushrooms (CL)
Herb de Provence Popcorn
Week 48 Cranberry Pie with oat and pecan crumble (SK) ☼
Wild Rice (Epi) ☼
Week 49 Chocolate-Caramel Quinoa Bark (CL) ♥
Pecan Fingers ☼
Week 50 Key Wat (RSB) ☼
Chicken, Apple and Butternut Stew (CL)
Week 51 Turkey Skillet Pie (MS)
Cranberry Upside Down Cake (MS)
Penuche Fudge (MS)
Week 52 Basic Sugar Cookies (MS)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Years Updates, Part I

Happy New Years Everyone!  I hope that 2015 went out with a bang, and if you are lucky, a few rounds of Loteria!

Introduced to me this past NYE's as Mexican Bingo.  The cards are wonderfully colorful & politically incorrect.  
Last year, I committed to two New Year's resolutions and actually spent the whole year not only actually remembering what they were, but actively working towards completing them.  This alone was a huge success for me, as typically they are forgotten by mid-February.  However, in even more exciting news, I actually achieved both resolutions!  (Ok, ok, one has an asterisks by it, but we'll get to that).

I'm taking to the internet to brag about my accomplishments because 1.) no one really reads this so it's cool to do some self bragging and 2.)  I loved documenting what I had done in the small date book I keep in my purse, so I also wanted to document it someplace a little more permanent (i.e - cyberspace!)

So, here we are at part I of accomplished New Year's Resolutions - Read 20 Novels by the End of the Year.  Smashed by reading the 37 books, as noted below!  What I learned is this:  for some of these books, I remember what I was doing while reading (or listening to the book on tape), which I think is cool.  Obviously, I'm into fiction more than non-fiction, but I also read several memoirs this year.  Who would have thought?  My favorite book was a zombie novel (not expected), but there was a tie for my second favorite book, one about engineering on Mars and the other about food (expected).  I didn't reread any books this year, although I typically do.  It was odd, since I actively stopped myself from reading favorites (and rereading Mockingjay before the movie came out in November!)  I missed it a little bit, but think I read a lot of books I otherwise would not have, so there must be a good balance somewhere in there.  The majority of these were audiobooks and, accordingly, Overdrive is my favorite app.  And finally, this list does not include the few books that I started and just could not make myself finish, and I hate not finished a book once I've started.

Here we are, the 37 novels I read in 2015:

The Cuckoo's Calling - J.K Rowling's new series under a pen name.  Finishing the 3rd installment now.  Addictive and dark.
The Silkworm
Hundred Foot Journey - Good book, but it's possible that I like the movie more... what?
All the Light We Cannot See - People loved this book.  I forced myself to finish reading it.  Did not love.
Inferno - Oh, Dan Brown.  I'll always love you
The Girl with All the Gifts - loved, loved, loved (as documented here)
The Martian - loved, loved, loved.  Also Matt Damon in the movie?  Love, love, love!
A Dance with Dragons - hehe, had to look this one up... then realized, obviously it's GoT
Bad Feminist - Am a good feminist, since I didn't really get into this novel either?  And, memoir.
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Dystopian YA novel series, good, addicting in the way of YA novels.
The Ask and The Answer
Monsters of Men
Yes, Please - memoir
Consider the Fork
The Gods of Guilt - audiobook necessary for drive to Pittsburgh
My Berlin Kitchen - memoir
We the Animals - memoir
Julia Child Rules
The Devil Wears Prada - Happy I read this, better than the movie
I Remember Nothing - memoir
I Feel Bad About My Neck - memoir
Making Toast - memoir
The Girl on the Train
Garlic and Sapphires - memoir
Still Alice - good book, need to see the movie
Eat, Pray, Love - ok book, maybe one day I'll see the movie?  Also, memoir
One More Thing - by B.J. Novak, funny short stories. You'll like this one
Catherine the Great - see, I do read biographies!
Kitchens of the Great Midwest - Obviously, I loved this book.  It's only a matter of time before it's a movie, I am sure.  Dear Hollywood gods, can you cast J.Law?
Nightingale - I love historical fiction.  This is great historical fiction
Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Great book, remember to read it as a satire though.  Need to read the author's other novel.
Furiously Happy - FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY.  Like, I laughed out loud on the plane funny.  But also insightful.  Read.  Memoir.
We Were Liars
The Rosie Project
The Art of Racing in the Rain - I figured there was no way I was making it through this one with bawling.  But I did.  It's ok.

New Year's Resolution #1 of 2016?  Read 30 novels this year.  Still less than I read in 2015, but this way, I can reread Harry Potter without guilt. :)

Stay tuned for part II.