What to pick? I love so many things! It was really hard narrowing down the 10 best things I cooked this year, but here goes. I decided to focus, for the most part, on the newer recipes in my repertoire (and I’m feeling a bit guilty about leaving out my old faves – perhaps another post…) There’s no order to this list. I poured through the recipes on the Two Kooks In The Kitchen Blog and finally made my selections. The top 10 you see vary from new-and-surprising to yummy comfort foods to quick to great company-worthy recipes to just damn delicious.
If you’re looking for a great chicken dish for your next dinner party or family event, this company chicken with citrus, carrots, prunes and pistachios is a great choice. It boasts oranges and lemons for zest, honey and prunes for sweetness, grainy mustard, garlic, onion and thyme for depth and chili flakes for a kick of heat. Add a little crunch and colour from pistachios, carrots and parsley – and you get an earthy, complex and beautiful dish that is certainly company-worthy.
Looking for a healthier but equally delicious version of Mac and Cheese? Veggie Quinoa-roni and Cheese Casserole is it! A perfect vegetarian weeknight meal or side dish. Macaroni and Cheese lovers will definitely not be disappointed with this dish. It has that same comfort food feeling – creamy, yummy and satisfying. And, it’s super healthy with lots of veggies and of course quinoa – an excellent source of protein, fiber and other good stuff. Vegetarian.
I’m not kidding – this Peanut-Orange-Ginger Chicken is really good! If you like peanuts of course. The flavours of peanut, orange, ginger, garlic and a bit of chili flakes blend beautifully. Add some fragrant cilantro (or parsley) and some crunchy roasted peanuts and, well, you have a great dish.
This is not to be missed. It’s addictive, it’s mouthwatering and it will satisfy the biggest sweet tooth craving. It starts with plain old popcorn and ends up as a delicious salted caramel-nut popcorn treat that simply can’t be beat. You can pop your own popcorn the old fashioned way or you can go to your local popcorn kiosk in the mall and buy plain popcorn to save the extra step. Makes a great gift or adult loot bag wrapped in cellophane bags.
Vegetarian Sweet Potato Hash is my new favourite side and has a lot going for it: it’s very versatile – it can be used as a side dish, filling for a wrap, breakfast item or even as a main dish with, say, some eggs or tofu on top; it takes about 20 minutes to make; it only uses one pan; it’s healthy; it’s forgiving – exact amounts aren’t important; it’s beautiful on the plate with deep orange, red and green colours (sometimes I add fresh baby spinach); and, most importantly, it tastes great. Vegetarian.
Hands down, this Beef Barley Vegetable soup is one of my favourite soups. Thick, hearty, rich, beefy – simply mouth watering. It’s loaded with vegetables, tender barley and beef. The barley is an excellent source of fibre, protein and many important minerals, making this soup a healthy weeknight dinner (or lunch with the leftovers if there are any). It can, of course, be served as a soup starter in a mug, but I tend to make it a full meal in a big bowl, almost like a stew. I serve it with hot fresh bread for dipping …heaven. (My husband’s new favourite soup is Hearty Healthy Spicy Sausage Soup – he wanted me to tell you.)
Thai curry shrimp and vegetables is made in one pot in under 30 minutes. Gorgeous flavours. Although the list of ingredients seems long, this dish is very simple to prepare. The trick is to have everything prepped and ready to go right by the skillet. If you’re making this for company – and it’s definitely company-worthy – you can complete the dish all the way up to the last 5 minutes when the last few ingredients, including the shrimp, are simmered. The curry is delicious served with jasmine rice to soak up the sauce. Can be made vegetarian (leave out shrimp).
These potatoes are simply delicious – potatoes soft of the inside with crispy edges, garnished with a mixture of parsley, lemon and garlic. I researched gremolata and found that the classic Italian version uses the three ingredients in this recipe, but it can be tweaked to add or substitute herbs or even the citrus (e.g. orange instead of lemon). Vegetarian.
This Lemon Pasta with Shrimp is easy and spectacular for company. The lemon shines through, the capers and garlic give it extra umph and the butter makes it rich and silky. Seriously, so good! The trick to this dish is timing. Have all the ingredients prepped ahead of time so that everything is on hand to pull together in the last 8-10 minutes.
This salad is hearty enough to be served as a main dish, perhaps for lunch with a crusty bread. Or as a first course or a side. Since it has so much going on, you really don’t need any other sides apart from the main protein. It has lots of colours, textures and tastes – quinoa, roasted yams, beets, goat cheese, nuts, etc. And, most importantly, it’s very yummy, especially with the maple-balsamic dressing which I make the at least once a week – it’s that good. (sorry, this is not a good picture, but I promise the recipe is good.) Vegetarian.