The end of 2012 is almost here and I thought that was a great opportunity to take a look back at the year and collect my favourites recipes. With this being 2012 I figured that it would be appropriate to choose my favourite 12 recipes rather than the normal 10 recipes and that works out perfectly at one for each month. It is interesting to note that some of the recipes that were my favourites are also on the most popular list and and some are different. Of course grilled cheese sandwiches make a good showing along with the greatest discovery of the year, the bacon jam!
A hope that everyone has a Happy New Year!
In 2012 I discovered and became totally addicted to pinterest.com and with the end of the year here I thought that it might be interesting to see which Closet Cooking recipes were the most popular on pinterest.com. Here are the 25 most popular Closet Cooking recipes on pinterest.com! Most of them you will be familiar with but there were a few surprises in the list that keeps things interesting!
If you are not already following Closet Cooking on pinterest.com you can follow here.
For those readers that got some bacon jam as a gift or for those that made their own, these bacon jam breakfast sandwiches are a great way to enjoy some of it on a lazy holiday morning. (If you don't have any bacon jam, you seriously need to try making some! It is super easy to make and so addictively good!) This breakfast sandwich combines the sweet, salty, smoky and spicy bacon jam with cool and creamy avocado on toast topped with a fried or poached egg with a perfectly runny yolk! You have to love a good messy sandwich and this is just one of those, best eaten with a knife and fork and so worth the mess!
I have really been into homemade popcorn lately, making it both for snacking and for gift giving and up next is a festive peppermint candy cane popcorn that is perfect for the holiday season! Specialty popcorns like caramel popcorn cost and arm and a leg compared to what you get and it turns out that they can be supper easy to make them at home. This peppermint candy cane popcorn is as easy to make as microwaving some popcorn kernels in a paper bag, mixing them with some melted white chocolate and crushed peppermint candy canes before letting it set and enjoying it. The creamy white chocolate goes surprisingly well on popcorn and the peppermint candy cane adds a nice contrast in texture along with the pepperminty goodness. If you have the time to get one more homemade gift in for the holidays this is a great last minute option!
To make the cookies and cream popcorn I needed some popcorn which left me with a conundrum since I really don't like most store bought microwave popcorn or making popcorn on the stove top. It never really occurred to me that I could make my own microwave popcorn at home so I was ready to make the popcorn on the stovetop when on a whim I did a search on the internet for homemade microwave popcorn and found that not only was it possible but that it was quite easy. As it turns out, all you need to do is place some popcorn kernels in a paper bag and microwave them for a few minutes! I really liked the idea since bulk popcorn kernels are dead cheap and it does not require any oil or any of the chemicals in store bought microwave popcorn and of course it is dead easy to make! You can eat it as is or season it with salt and butter or with any other seasoning that you want. You can even use it to make gourmet popcorn like caramel popcorn or cookies and cream popcorn.
I have been seeing some pretty amazing looking homemade gourmet popcorn going around the food blogging sphere for a while now and I have always wanted to try my hands at making some! With the holiday season here I was thinking that specialty popcorn would make for some spectacular gifts, I mean who wouldn't be happy to receive a bag of this as a gift! On the top of my list of popcorns to try was a cookies and cream popcorn that I came across on Chef in Training a while ago. This popcorn basically takes the idea of cookies and cream and turns it into popcorn by attaching crumbled bits of oreo cookies to the popcorn with melted creamy white chocolate. The next best thing about this popcorn is how easy it is to make! You just need to mix the popped popcorn with the crumbled cookies along with the melted white chocolate and then wait for the chocolate to set again. You could be enjoying a bowl of this wonderful popcorn in less than a half an hour with less than 10 minutes of effort!
Shortbread has to be one of my favourite holiday cookies, I mean it is so easy to make and that melt in your mouth buttery goodness is almost impossible to resist! Although plain shortbread is amazing you can fill it with pretty much anything from simple to gourmet and from sweet to savoury even. Taking a queue from my candied orange peel shortbread I had been wanting to try a festive version with bright red maraschino cherries, though instead of coating them with chocolate this time I was going to add the chocolate to the cookies along with the cherries. I was however a little torn between whether to use white or dark chocolate as white chocolate seemed more festive but dark chocolate goes so well with cherries. In the end the easiest solution was to make a batch of both and besides you can't have too much shortbread.
The chocolate and maraschino cherry shortbread cookies did not disappoint! I was quite pleased at how the red from the cherries swirled into the cookie dough and both the white and dark chocolate versions turned out amazingly well!
In addition to baking my favourite holiday cookies every year I like to try some new ones and top on my list for this year was some peppermint white chocolate chip cookies. White chocolate chunk and macadamia nut cookies have to be one of my all time favourite cookies and I was thinking that it would be great to take a festive spin on them and use peppermint instead of the macadamia nuts. For the recipe I went with my usual white chocolate chunk and macadamia nut cookie recipe and replaced the macadamia nuts with crush peppermint candy canes or in this case peppermint candies. These chocolate chip cookies turn out nice and crisp on the edges but oh so soft and melt in your mouth on the inside! The crushed peppermint candy added and amazing peppermint flavour along with a rather pleasant crunch. I will definitely be adding these peppermint white chocolate chip cookies to my regular holiday rotation! You will have to excuse me while I go a place another batch into the oven.
With all of the cookies and other sweets during the holidays it is always nice to change things up a bit and go with something savoury! You can never go wrong with a hot cheese dip whether you are throwing a party or just wtching the game and I knew exactly which hot cheese dip that I wanted to try at my next party. I came across this chorizo queso fundido on Smells Like Home a while ago and I have been wanting to make it ever since. I mean just look at the ingredients, with all of that melted cheese, spicy chorizo and even a hit of tequila it was bound to be awesaomely addictive! I did make one important change to the recipe be using fresh Mexican style chorizo rather than cured Spanish style chorizo as I have really been into it lately and I knew that it would work well in the dip. This chorizo queso fundido is definitely a keeper and it will dissapper faster than you can blink so eat your share while still in the kitchen or better yet hide out in a locked room; you didn't really want hear any more about aunt Thema's warts anyways.
After having recently made the chicken marsala, it reminded me of another Italian chicken and pan sauce dish, chicken piccata and I could not resist updating the photos for the recipe. Piccata is an Italian method of preparing meat where the meat is cut thinly, breaded and then fried in oil or butter before a pan sauce is made with the drippings, white wine, lemon juice, capers and butter. Next to the amazing flavour of the pan sauce, my favourite thing about this dish is how quick and easy it is to make; all you need to do is cook the meat, add the ingredients for the pan sauce and reduce it. Not only is this dish easy enough to make on a weeknight but it will also not fail to impress any dinner guest!
Note: Normally the chicken is coated in flour before frying but I prefer to omit this step.
With the holidays quickly approaching I figured that it was about time to start making some gifts and of course the first thing on my list was a couple of batches of bacon jam! I mean you really cannot go wrong giving this super tasty, sweet, salty, smoky and spicy bacon jam as a gift this year! In addition to making the bacon jam as gifts for others I could not resist making some for myself and the first thing that I used it in was a chicken club sandwich with a grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato and even more bacon along with some spicy chipotle mayo and some cool and creamy avocado. The bacon jam works amazingly well in a chicken club sandwich and this has to be one of the tastiest sandwiches that I have had in a while!
I had some leftover pumpkin puree that I wanted to use and after the apple crumble quinoa parfaits earlier in the week, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it; pumpkin pie quinoa parfaits! The idea was simple, mix some pumpkin pie spices and brown sugar into the pumpkin puree and layer it with Greek vanilla yogurt and quinoa spiced with cinnamon. At this point everything sounds nice and healthy but I could not resist topping it off with a gingersnap pecan streusel since gingersnaps and pecans go so well with pumpkin pie! Now i am looking forward to quick, tasty and fairly healthy desserts for breakfast from the leftovers for the next few days!