Top 10 Recipes in 2008

Here are the top 10 recipes on Closet Cooking based on page views in 2008:

My Top 10 Favorite Recipes in 2008

Since it is the end of the year I thought that I would take some time and look over the last year. 2008 certainly was a tasty year! I discovered a lot of new flavours and cuisines and I had a great time doing it. Food blogging was certainly one of the highlights of 2008 and I am looking forward to new tasty adventures in 2009!

Have a great New Years Eve and a happy new year everyone!!

I will leave you with favorite recipes from 2008:

Turkey Pho

Turkey Pho


Whenever I cook turkey or chicken I like to save the bones and store them in the freezer until I have enough to make some stock. I had finally saved up enough turkey bones to make some turkey stock and I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for. I had come across the idea of using leftover turkey and turkey stock to make a turkey pho a while ago that sounded really good. I had been wanting to try making a pho for a long time and now was the perfect opportunity. Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup with a clear broth that is commonly flavoured with star anise, cloves, cinnamon and charred ginger. Beef is more commonly used but any meat will do and this time leftover turkey was on the menu. Once the stock was made it was pretty easy to infuse it with the star anise and other pho flavourings and the rest of the soup was a piece of cake to make. The leftover turkey pho turned out great! It was nice and light and fresh and I really enjoyed the star anise flavoured turkey broth. One of the things that I liked most about the pho was all of the fresh garnishes as they reminded me of warmer days. I will definitaly be making pho again and I think that next time I will be try the more classic beef version.

Turkey and Cranberry Quesadillas

Turkey and Cranberry Quesadillas

One of my favorite parts of the holiday turkey dinner is the leftovers! It is always fun trying to come up with new ways of using turkey leftovers in such a way that the leftover meals are just as interesting as the original. Before trying something new though, I had to enjoy my favorite way to use turkey leftovers, the turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich . Once I had satisfied that craving it was time to move on and given that both the turkey and cranberry sauce were done with texmex flavours I was thinking along the lines of turkey and cranberry sauce tacos or better yet quesadillas. Though the cranberry sauce already had jalapenos in it, it was not spicy enough for the heat that I want in a quesadilla so I added some more to the quesadilla along with some cilantro as it is one of my favorite herbs and a texmex staple. The turkey and cranberry sauce quesadillas turned out really well! The sweet, tart and spicy cranberry sauce worked surprisingly well in the quesadillas along with the turkey and the gooey melted cheese. I will definitely be making these again!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts au Gratin

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Gratin

For the final component of my turkey dinner I wanted something green. I had recently realized that I had not done anything with brussels sprouts so far this season and I had been wanting to do something with them. While searching for brussels sprouts recipes I came across this one for a brussels sprout gratin which sounded really good. How can you go wrong with smothering vegetables in cream and cheese? Even better, the brussels sprouts were roasted first to bring out their flavour. I had been hoping to find a texmex take on brussels sprouts but once I came across the roasted brussels sprouts gratin I just couldn't get them out of my head and they went into the dinner anyways. The gratin was pretty simple to make and turned out great! The panko bread crumbs and gruyere formed a nice crunchy and cheesy golden brown layer on top and the creamy roasted brussels sprouts underneath were so good!! Despite the fact that the rest of the meal was really good, it was these brussels sprouts that stole the show and I reached for seconds of them before anything else.

Corn Bread Stuffing with Chorizo

Chorizo and Corn Bread Stuffing

I was looking for a side dish for my texmex style turkey dinner and I had been wanting to try making a stuffing for a while so I combined the two and made a texmex style cornbread stuffing. For the corn bread I used the cranberry corn bread that I had made the day before. I had seen a lot of more standard stuffing recipes use sausage and I thought that adding spicy chorizo sausage to the corn bread stuffing would be a good idea. I then added some more texmex flavours like chilies, cumin and cilantro. I made it more 'holiday' like by adding some dried cranberries in addition to the cranberries that were already in the corn bread. Since I was only cooking a turkey breast I could not actually stuff the stuffing so I cooked it in a baking pan. The texmex corn bread stuffing with chorizo turned out really well. The slightly sweet, moist, and coarsely crumbly corn bread worked well in the spicy stuffing. The stuffing was nice and moist and tasty and had just the right combination of sweet and spicy. It was a great side for the maple and chipotle turkey breast and it was even better with some maple and chipotle gravy and jalapeno cranberry sauce on the fork as well.

Cranberry Corn Bread

Cranberry Corn Bread

I wanted to do a cornbread stuffing with my Texmex themed holiday turkey dinner and that meant that I would need some corn bread. Since I was making the corn bread anyways I could not resist playing around a little and I added some cranberries. Corn bread is a quick bread that is made with cornmeal and it is really easy to make. This corn bread came together quickly and easily. I could not resist having a piece just as soon as it came out of the oven. I topped it with some butter that quickly melted into the cornbread and a drizzle of honey and it was amazing! The tart cranberries went really well with the slightly sweet cornbread and the honey on top. The butter of course added a nice savoriness. With only one slice missing I now had my corn bread for the corn bread stuffing.

I used the leftovers to make corn bread stuffing with chorizo .

Maple and Chipotle Roasted Turkey Breast

Maple and Chipotle Roasted Turkey Breast

I had been craving more turkey for a while and I was looking forward to some turkey sandwiches so I decided to do a turkey dinner for the holidays. I did not want it to just be the same old thing though so I went off in search of something new. When I came across this recipe for maple and chipotle turkey breasts I knew that I had found what I was looking for. I really liked the sound the smoky chipotles mixed with the sweet maple syrup. I wanted to have some leftovers so this time I picked up a larger 5 pound turkey breast with bone and skin on. The turkey was easy to make though, you did have to keep brushing the turkey with the maple and chipotle glaze so it took a bit of effort. The turkey turned out nice and moist and tender and tasty! One good thing about cooking turkey like this is that the glaze drips down into the juices that are used for making gravy. With the maple and chipotle glaze in the turkey drippings the gravy turned out really well! It was hot and smokey with a hint of sweetness and it went really well with the turkey. I am now looking forward the leftover turkey sandwiches tomorrow.

Christmas Fruit Cake

Christmas Fruit Cake


Though I am sure that I have had Christmas fruit cake before I did not really remember it. Given that and the controversy around fruit cake when I saw some posts about Christmas cake I knew that I would have to try making one to find out. All of the recipes that I saw called for making the cake a few weeks ahead of time to let it mature. Many of the recipes called for "feeding" the cake brandy on a regular basis while it matured. I did not want my cake to end up being too heavy with brandy so I decided to just soak the fruits in some brandy and then I wrapped the cake in cheese cloth that was soaked in brandy while it matured. Some of the recipes that I came across called for adding a layer of marzipan and a layer of icing but I wanted to keep my fruit cake nice and simple so I skipped the frosting layers. After waiting for over a month I finally unwrapped the fruit cake to try today. I am not really sure why fruit cakes have such a bad wrap as this fruit cake was really good. It was nice and moist and full flavour! The cake had a hint of booze without being overwhelmed by it. I think that I will be making a Christmas fruit cake again next year.

Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce

Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce

Brie is one of those cheeses that I always see around but I never seem to do anything with it. I recently came across the concept of a baked brie and the thought of that gooey melted cheese piqued my interest. Baked brie is basically just brie wrapped in puff pastry along with some preserves and baked in the oven until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese inside is nice and melted. Instead of using preserves in the baked brie I thought that it would be nice if it was a bit more seasonal and I used some cranberry sauce . For this version of the cranberry sauce I doubled the sugar to ensure that it was nice and sweet as well as tart to complement the savoury melted cheese. My baked brie did not turn out quite as I had hoped as the puff pastry did not hold together and it opened up while cooking. Despite the fact that it does not look the best, it sure was good! The brie cheese was completely melted and and went really well with the cranberry sauce. I served the baked brie with some crackers to dip into the melted cheese and cranberry sauce goodness. I have now been sold on brie and I really like it. I can't wait to get some more.

Cranberry Crumb Coffeecake

Cranberry Crumb Coffeecake

One of the things that I like about baking breakfasts is that they generally make enough to last the entire week. That way I can make the breakfast on the weekend and I have quick already made breakfasts for the rest of the week. For the holiday week I knew that I wanted to make a breakfast on the weekend so that I could save time during the busy week. I had originally planned to make to make a cranberry quick bread for the week but then I saw this recipe for a cranberry coffeecake that sounded too good to pass up. I liked the sound of using cranberry sauce in a new way and a layer of tart cranberries in a sweet coffeecake sounded like a nice way to do so. I made the maple cranberry sauce that I had made a while ago and enjoyed. The coffeecake came together easily an turned out really well. It was nice and light and moist and good. The tart cranberry sauce worked really well with the sweet layer coffeecake crumbs. Now I will have quick and tasty breakfasts ready for the busy week ahead.

Scrambled Eggs with Sundried Tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano

Scrambled Eggs with Sundried Tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano

It had been a while since I had last had scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs are pretty plain and there were so many other things on my breakfast to try list that I just didn't even really consider them. That was until I came across a post about scrambled eggs with sun-dried tomato and parmesan on Cook Sister that sounded amazingly tasty! With sundried tomatoes, mayonnaise, and parmigiano reggiano these scrambled eggs were dressed up in style and going places. I had everything that I needed, an almost empty jar of sun dried tomatoes and just enough parmigiano reggiano along with the eggs and mayo. This dish was super easy and quick to make and it tasted great! You just can't go wrong with this flavour combination. Scrambled eggs are no longer plain and boring and I am going to have to start thinking of new ways to dress them up with flavour.

Pork Chops in a Mushroom Paprika Sauce

Pork Chops with Mushrooms, Dill, and Sour Cream Sauce

The beef stroganoff that I made a while ago has been on my mind and I was really craving it again. With the holidays coming I have not had much time at all and I have been looking for quick meals so braising the beef for the stroganoff was out of the question. I had some pork chops in the freezer that needed to be used and I thought that pork chops with a mushroom, dill and sour cream sauce similar to the stroganoff sauce would hit the spot. This recipe turned out to be much quicker than the original but it was no less tasty. I served the pork chops with mushroom, dill and sour cream sauce on egg noodles and I added some steamed spinach to make it a one dish meal. This new sauce was really tasty; lick the plate clean good in fact. With the sauce on top it covered the pork chops, the noodles and the steamed spinach in it rich flavourful goodness. It was one quick and tasty meal that satisfied my cravings.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars


Another one of my favorite holiday treats are nanaimo bars. Nanaimo bars are another Canadian dessert and they consist of a chocolate and coconut wafer layer topped by a a layer custard butter icing and a layer chocolate. I really like the chocolate, coconut and custard combo and these chilled treats are always welcome. I had not had a nanaimo bar in a long time and I thought that it would be great to make my own this year. Since this was my first time making nanaimo bars I decided to stick with the standard recipe that seems to be everywhere on the web. As I was making the bars I was thinking that it would be nice to try tweaking the flavours in the different layers and I was thinking about mint in particular; though I will save that for another time. Because there are three layers that each required time to chill before the next layer can be added these bars take a bit of time to make. Despite the time needed they are super easy to make and well worth the effort. The nanaimo bars turned out great, just like I remembered them. I like to eat the nanaimo bars chilled, directly from the fridge but, they are also really good at room temperature. These bars also freeze well so you can make them ahead of time and store them until needed. I like to keep them in the freezer and pull one out at a time to snack on whenever I feel like one.


Maple Butter Tarts

Maple Butter Tarts


Another one of my favorite holiday treats is butter tarts and I could not let the holiday season go by without having some. Butter tarts are a Canadian pastry consisting of butter, sugar and eggs in a pastry shell. The tarts would be perfectly fine just like that but I like to add raisins and chopped walnuts as that is they way that my grandmother always made them. This time I thought it would also be nice to make them with some maple syrup. The maple butter tarts were amazing! The pastry was nice and golden brown and light an flaky and melt in your mouth good. The filling was nicely set and sweet and gooey and oh so good! The maple syrup added a great new flavour to the tarts and I will definitely be using it again. Butter tarts are another treat that freezes well so you can make them ahead of the holidays to lighten the load during that busy time. Frozen butter tarts also make a great gift; I know I always enjoyed receiving a large container of frozen butter tarts from my grandmother to take back with me after the holidays.

Shortbread

Shortbread


Shortbread is one of the cookies/treats that I most associate with the holidays. My mother has been making it every year for the holidays for as long as I can remember. I still find it a bit surprising that out of all of the treats out there with all of the flavours out there, that a simple unadorned shortbread cookie is one of my favorites. The way that it crumbles and then melts away in your mouth... the simple sweetness which is somehow so addictive... This year I wanted to try making some of my own shortbread. I did not realize how easy shortbread was to make but the basic recipe consists of just flour, butter and sugar. You pretty much just mix everything and either press the crumbs into the bottom of a baking dish or form a dough, roll it out and cut it into whatever shapes you want. A few minutes in the oven and you are all done. Shortbread freezes well so you can make them ahead of the holidays while you have more time and pull it out when needed. I don't think my first batch will make it to the freezer though.

Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread

Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread

While I was thinking about what I wanted to do for breakfasts this week my thoughts kept coming back to apples, cinnamon and oatmeal. Although apple and cinnamon oatmeal sounded good, I thought that I would make it a bit more interesting and do an apple and cinnamon oatmeal bread. I wanted the bread to be full of apple flavour and to have nice big chunks of apple with every bite. To achieve this goal I used both large pieces of chopped apples and some of my own home made roasted apple sauce in the bread. Of course there had to be a lot of cinnamon and I thought that some raisins and chopped pecans would finish off the bread nicely. In addition to using rolled oats in the bread I garnished it with some more. The apple and cinnamon oatmeal bread turned out great! It was nice and light and fluffy and moist and full of appley goodness! I really enjoyed the texture provided by the chunks of apple, the rolled oats and the raisins and nuts. I think I might just have a new favorite quick bread.

Green Beans with Parmesan Bread Crumbs

Green Beans with Parmesan Bread Crumbs

To complete my steak in green peppercorn sauce meal I needed only one more thing, something green. I like to try to include green vegetables in my meals whenever possible. Green beans are still readily available at the farmers market and I wanted to do something with them. I remembered seeing a recipe for green beans in parmesan and sage breadcrumbs that sounded nice. I did not have the sage on hand so I decided to use the thyme that I did have. The green beans in parmesan bread crumbs were really easy to make and took very little effort. The toasted parmesan bread crumbs were really tasty and provided a nice crunchy texture to the green beans.

Onion Gratin

Onion Gratin

Recently I have been enjoying onions a lot and when I came across this recipe for roasted parmesan onions on Proud Italian Cook I knew that I had to try them soon. I thought that pairing them with the steak in green peppercorn sauce would be a nice fit. When you bake or roast onions they get all nice and soft and tender and they release their natural sweetness and they are just plain good! Add some melted golden brown cheese on top and a creamy wine sauce and you have one amazing side dish. The roasted onion gratin was an absolute treat! The onions were nice and tender and full of that magically sweet onion flavour. I am glad that I paired the onion gratin with such a strong main course as this side dish could easily steal the show from a lesser one. I have a feeling that these onions will be making a regular appearance on my dinner table.

Steak Tenderloin in a Green Peppercorn Sauce

Steak Tenderloin in a Green Peppercorn Sauce

They had some beef tenderloin on at a good price when I was at the market and I picked some up. The only question was what to do with it. I remembered enjoying a peppercorn steak at a restaurant a long time ago and I decided that I wanted to try making it at home. I was not sure exactly how they did it as I remembered some of the peppercorns being hard like I had expected but some of them were also soft. A quick search on the web led me to the discovery of green peppercorns in brine which was just what I was looking for. I was all set, I had some freshly cracked peppercorns to crust the steak and some brined green peppercorns for a sauce to go on it. I really like simple meat and pan sauce recipes like this as they are quick, easy and always tasty and this peppercorn steak was no exception. I got a nice sear on the outside of the steak but the inside was still medium rare, just the way I like it. The peppercorn crust was nice and crunchy and provided a great contrast in texture to the juicy steak within. I could have reduced the green peppercorn sauce a bit more but I was too hungry to wait and it turned out great anyways. The green peppercorns had a texture that I really enjoyed and the sauce was nice and tasty. I served the peppercorn steak with an onion gratin and some parmesan breadcrumbs coated green beans. (More to come on them later.)

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I just realized that there weren't that many days left before the holidays and that there was still a lot to do. Among the things to do was some holiday baking. While I was thinking about what I wanted to make this year my eyes kept wandering to a bar of white chocolate that I had picked up on sale a while ago and I kept thinking about my favorite cookies, the white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies . Inspiration hit and I decided to try a holiday version of the cookies where the macadamia nuts were replace with some green pistachios and I added some red cranberries for some holiday colours. I had also been wanting to try adding some rolled oats to a batch of cookies and it was the perfect time. These cookies took a bit longer to make as I had to shell the pistachios but other than that they took almost no time at all. The cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate oatmeal cookies turned out great! The were slightly crisp on the edges and nice and soft on the inside. They were just packed full of great flavours and textures from the crunchy nuts to the chewy cranberries to the creamy white chocolate. The rolled oats seems to disappear from the outside but you could still see them on the inside and they also added a nice chewy texture to the cookies. These cookies are going to disappear quickly!

Italian Style Beef Stew with Butternut Squash

Italian Style Beef Stew with Butternut Squash

While I was eating my squash chili mole I was thinking about what else I could use squash in and I eventually arrived at a beef stew. I had recently made a Japanese style beef stew (nikujaga) using pumpkin so I wanted something a little bit different. I was thinking that an Italian style beef stew would be nice. The first thing I did of course was search the web for recipes and came across this one for a beef and butternut squash stew that sounded like a nice place to start. I felt that an Italian style beef stew would have to contain more tomatoes but I wanted there to be more of a broth than a sauce so I used diced tomatoes with red wine and beef broth to form the base of the stew. To add some more flavour I added some pancetta and browned the beef and sauteed the onions in the pancetta grease instead of olive oil. I like to save the rinds from parmigiano reggiano to throw into sauces to add flavour while simmering and I thought it would work in a broth as well. I wanted to braise the beef until it was nice and tender and since I did not want my squash to be mush I held off on adding it until the meat was almost fully cooked. The Italian style beef stew was a great success! The beef was fall apart in your mouth tender and the squash was nice and al dente; cooked and tender but still having a firm texture. The broth was super flavourful and I did not let any of it go to waste by sopping it up with some cheesy garlic bread .

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

One of the reasons that I do not make yeast based breads all that often is because most recipes make a lot and it is difficult to finish it before it becomes too stale to eat. I have now found a solution to that problem, use the stale bread to make bread pudding. Bread pudding is basically bread that has been soaked in a custard base and then baked. You can use whatever type of bread that you want and you can add in whatever kinds of flavours that you want. I used the leftover pumpkin dinner rolls as the bread and I went with even more pumpkin flavour along with some spices and dried cranberries. The bread pudding was super easy to make and it was amazing! It was nice and moist and and full of pumpkin flavour. I drenched the pumpkin bread pudding in caramel sauce after it baked and it was oh so good. I can't wait to make bread pudding again.

Pecan Crusted Pork Chops with Pumpkin Butter

Pecan Crusted Pork Chops with Pumpkin Butter

A while ago I made some pumpkin butter and I have been enjoying it on pumpkin bread and pumpkin rolls but I was looking for something new and interesting. After searching the internet for a while I came across this recipe for pecan crusted pork chops with pumpkin butter that sounded good. I really like breaded and fried pork chops as they are quick and easy and taste great! The sound of crusting a pork chop with pecans sounded really good and pecans are something that I think of when thinking of pumpkin so it sounded like a good match. The pecan crusted pork chops were really easy to make, though you have to watch closely as the pecans can burn easily. After the first one, I cooked the remaining at a lower temperature than I would normally use to ensure that they did not burn. The pecan crusted pork chops were amazing! The crust was nice and light and crunchy and it tasted like toasted pecans! The pork was warm and juicy on the inside creating a nice contrast in texture. The spiced pumpkiny goodness of the pumpkin butter topping went really well with toasted pecan flavours of the pork chops. I will be making these again! I will also have to think about other ways that I can use nutty crusts on various meats.

I still have a lot of pumpkin butter left so if you know of any interesting ways to enjoy it, I would really like to hear about them.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

My supply of pumpkins and squash has been steadily declining but I still had some left. I do not normally make yeast based breads all that often but when I came across the idea of pumpkin dinner rolls I knew that I would have to try them. I figured that serving them with the squash chili mole would be perfect. As a yeast based bread they take a bit of time to rise twice so you have to time them right if you want them to be fresh out of the oven (and that is when they are at their best) when you sit down to eat your meal. Other than the timing you have to do a bit of kneading but the rolls were pretty easy to make overall. The pumpkin dinner rolls turned out pretty good. They were nice light and fluffy with just a hint of pumpkin flavour. I had a hard time saving a roll till the end to clean the last of the chili sauce from the bottom of the bowl. I could not resist eating one right as it came out of the oven with some melting butter. This time in addition to the melting butter I tried drizzling some honey onto the roll as well and it was so good! I am going to have to bake bread more often.

Squash Chili Mole

Squash Chili Mole

It seems that the tacos al pastor had just whet my appetite for texmex and I had been away from pumpkins and squash for too long. I knew just the dish to satisfy both cravings, a squash chili mole . I came across the idea of a pumpkin chili mole on What's Cooking a while ago and I bookmarked it right away. The basic idea is that it is a chili with both pumpkin and aspects of a mole sauce such as chocolate in it. I had made and enjoyed a mole sauce a while ago and I liked the idea of adding some chocolate and cinnamon along with some squash to a spicy chili.

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

I recently realized that I had not had beef stroganoff in a very long time and I wanted to try making it. According to the wikipedia beef stroganoff is a Russian dish consisting of beef in a sour cream sauce. My mother made this a few times while I was growing up and I remembered really enjoying it. I searched the net for some recipes though I already had an outline in mind. I knew that there would be some onions and mushrooms in addition to the beef. One idea that I did come across was to add paprika and although I had never had it that way, it sounded like a great idea. The paprika and mushroom combination reminded me of a mushroom soup that I had made a while ago and really enjoyed. That soup combined mushrooms, sour cream, paprika and dill and I had really like the flavour combo so I decided to add some dill to the stroganoff as well. I added some dried dill while the sauce was simmering and some fresh dill just at the end for the best of both worlds.

Pumpkin Bread with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans and White Chocolate Chips

Pumpkin Bread with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans and White Chocolate Chips

It seems that the pumpkin and squash marathon continues. While I was enjoying my pumpkin pie pancakes I thought that a pumpkin bread would also be a good idea. It started off as a pretty basic pumpkin bread but then I thought that it would be nice if I added some dried cranberries. The next thing I knew I was also adding some toasted pecans and white chocolate chips. The fully loaded pumpkin bread turned out really well. It was nice and light and moist and good. The pumpkin flavour came through well and the spices finished it off with an amazing aroma. Unfortunately the white chocolate chips seem to have melted into the bread. Next time I will have to use chucks of white chocolate bar instead. For even more pumpkiny goodness I spread some pumpkin butter on a slice of the pumpkin bread. I am looking forward to breakfasts this week!