December 31, 2013

A look back at 2013

I am pretty sure I say this every year, but I really can't believe that it's the end of another year already... 2013 is almost over... This year though, I'm kind of glad in a way. 2013 has been a tough year on a personal level and I'm looking forward to 2014 with hope that it will be a better year! When it comes to cooking though, 2013 was great. This is the third time I've done this end of the year "best-of" post and it's always a challenge. I'm picking my favorite recipe for each month and sometimes it's difficult to pick just one. Sometimes it's based on taste, but sometimes it's based on trying a new technique or stretching my abilities and/or palate.

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed 2013 and look forward to much more food, recipes, and conversations in 2014.

Italian spaghetti squash bake: I chose this dish because it was this first thing I made with spaghetti squash that really changed my mind on this winter squash. It was never my favorite winter squash - I would make it as a gratin and liked it, but when I made it this way, I loved it. Now I make spaghetti squash recipes all the time. 

Pork chop and sauerkraut casserole: This dish was my favorite of February because it was one of my first dishes from The German Cookbook. This dish is delicious and full of some of my favorite things: apples, potatoes, and sauerkraut. It's a wonderful one-pan meal! 

Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese: As my readers know, I make a lot of mac n' cheese recipes. It's one of my biggest weaknesses. This version was so good. It was spicy, cheesy, creamy.... it combined everything I love about macaroni and cheese with our local specialty - chicken wings!! 

Rabbit cacciatore: I chose this dish because it is so comforting and delicious, but also because it was one of my first times cooking rabbit. I really love rabbit and this dish was the perfect combination of flavors for a rustic and hearty stew. If you haven't tried rabbit before, I highly recommend it. We have a few farmers in our area that sell it - it's lean and mild.

Rhubarb pie: This was my first rhubarb pie and what I loved about it was that it wasn't mixed with strawberries or any other fruit or custard. It was a simple filling that really let the tart taste of the rhubarb shine. I always enjoy rhubarb and pies are probably my favorite sweet treat. This pie is even more spectacular with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Strawberry-basil ice cream: I loved this ice cream. I mean LOVED. It was the most refreshing ice cream and packed full of fresh basil and seasonal strawberries. I will definitely make it again next strawberry season and I hope you do, too!

Chocolate mint chocolate chip ice cream: I kept going back and forth here, telling myself I couldn't pick two ice cream recipes in a row.... but I'm doing it anyway! I love incorporating fresh herbs into desserts and this ice cream base is steeped with fresh mint and then gets a double dose of chocolate. Absolutely delicious! 

Crabapple mostarda: This recipe won the month of August because it was so unique and different. We picked these crabapples ourselves, candied them over several days, and then canned them. My husband helped out a lot with this process. We cracked open a jar at Thanksgiving and they were a hit. These apples are sweet, tart, and have a touch of spice which makes them perfect alongside cheeses and roasted meats. Plus they look so pretty in the jars and make a great hostess or holiday gift.

Tomato, bacon, & jalapeno skillet pie: We made this skillet pie multiple times during tomato season this year. It's sooooo good. The crust is cornbread and then it's covered with garlic, crisp salty bacon, fresh sweet tomatoes, fresh spicy jalapenos, and lots of cheese and baked until bubbly and golden. What's not to like?

Hot & spicy refrigerator turnip pickles: I'll admit that October was a tough month for me to choose just one recipe.... I went with these turnip pickles because they are so different. The turnips are spiced up with Indian spices, jalapenos, and garlic and left to marinade in the fridge until they are yellow, spicy, tangy, and truly tasty. We have these with every Indian dish we eat and they are addictive. They were a fantastic experiment!

Pumpkin swirl brownies: Oh man... even with a house full of Christmas cookies, I could go for one of these brownies. I love pumpkin and chocolate together and really enjoyed these chewy, fudgy, fall-spiced brownies. They will certainly make an appearance in my kitchen again next fall.

Concord grape tart with cinnamon crumble: What can I say about this tart except that it is intensely grape flavored and super yummy. I'm so glad I finally made a grape pie this year and it definitely won't be my last. We ate this at Thanksgiving dinner this year and everyone gave it rave reviews.

2013 was a year where I learned a lot more about canning and preserving foods. I plan to do much more of that, including more fermenting, in 2014. I think that is my main cooking goal for next year along with practicing more frugal skills and hopefully growing more of our own food.

Now it's time for my husband (AKA this blog's official taste-tester) to pick his favorite recipes for each month of 2013. I always like to see whether or not we pick the same things!

September: Tomato, bacon, & jalapeno skillet pie [His pick for best recipe of the year!]

The favorite reader recipes in terms of page views goes to Pork chop & sauerkraut casserole, Italian spaghetti squash bake, and Cabbage roll soup (a close second for both my husband and I for our top October pick).

Thanks again to all my readers and everyone who takes the time to comment on my posts. I truly appreciate it and love the food blogging community. 

Check out the "look back" posts for 2012 and 2011


  1. These all look SO good!! 2013 was a tasty year!

  2. I'm so sorry that 2013 was a tough personal year, but I know that 2014 will be tons better for you! And what a great roundup of recipes - no doubt that it was a successful year, cooking-wise!!

  3. You had a very DELICIOUS 2013!
    I wish you a blessed and joyful New Year, Amy!

  4. Wishing you a wonderful (and delicious) New Year. Cheers!

  5. Still swooning over that rhubarb pie! A VERY Happy New Year to you and yours, my friend!!!

  6. I love that both you and your hubby did your top picks! Everything looks amazing! Happy New Year!

  7. The years go so quickly, don't they? You made some really great stuff this year. Thanks for sharing with us, and Happy New Year!

  8. Hi Amy, My favourites are the crab apples, closely followed by the rhubarb pie. For savouries, the spaghetti squash.

  9. All great, delicious dishes...Wishing you a very happy 2014, Amy!

  10. Happy New Year! What a yummy 2013 :) Lets eat our way through 2014!

  11. What a great collection of recipes! 2013 was a rough year for me too so let's hope 2014 is the best year ever!

  12. Well you had one delicious year, huh? And you started off on an awesome note with that squash. Now I'm craving some! I know 2014 will be even more delicious.

  13. Looks like 2013 was a great year for food! That strawberry basil ice cream sounds completely amazing - I need to give that a try!! Cheers to 2014 and a great year ahead : )


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