My Favourite Recipes of 2016

My Favourite Recipes of 2016

With 2016 coming to a close it's time to reflect on the year and it was one of the tastiest years yet for Closet Cooking! The last year was filled with so many amazing new recipes with a focus on cooking in small kitchens including plenty of slow cooker, one-pot/pan meals, and 6 ingredient or less meals each of which are perfect for cooking in small spaces! There was also a focus on quick and easy 30 minute meals and even 20 minute meals for busy nights when you don't have much time but still want to eat a healthy, and most importantly tasty food! I took this opportunity to go through all of the new recipes from 2016 to come up with a list of my favourite recipes from 2016 and it was difficult but I almost was able to narrow it down to my 2 favourite recipes for each month. Many of the recipes are also reader favourites but some are just the ones that I enjoy the most! Without further ado, here are the the top recipes of 2016 the best recipes of 2016 My Favourite Recipes of 2016:

Cheesy Margherita Pizza Hummus with Pesto Pita Chips

Cheesy Margherita Pizza Hummus with Pesto Pita Chips
With the New Year quickly approaching I have been thinking about snacks for a New Years Eve party and this cheesy margherita pizza hummus with pesto pita chips was high on my list! I first came across the idea for the cheesy margherita pizza hummus on Half Baked Harvest a while ago and I just had to save it to try for a special occasion. I mean, you really can't go wrong with a with all of the flavours of margherita pizza from the melted mozzarella, to the tomatoes and the basil, in a dip! Yum! And this particular dip uses a base of white beans to keep it on the lighter, healthier side while remaining so nice and smooth and creamy. The hummus part of the name comes from the fact that this dip uses a bean, white beans rather than chickpeas in this case, along with the classic tahini and lemon combo of hummus! The tomato part of the margherita pizza comes from tomato paste and sundried tomatoes, which both pack a ton of flavour, and the basil comes fresh basil in the dip as well as basil pesto baked on pita chips for dipping! Whether you are serving this cheesy margherita pizza hummus with pesto pita chips for your New Years Eve party or some other occasion it's sure to be a winner and disappear quickly!

Baked Brie with Blackberry Compote and Candied Walnuts

Baked Brie with Blackberry Compote and Candied Walnuts
I am a huge fan of ooey, gooey melted cheese and although it's nice to get it in a meal with other things it's better to just go straight to it and make a dish that is melted cheese! Baked brie is the perfect way to do this! You simply need to bake the brie in its rind and then dig in, but you can garnish it with some flavours like in this baked brie with blackberry compote and candied walnuts! The sweet blackberry compote goes really well with the savoury melted brie and the crunchy candied walnuts add and amazing texture! This baked brie really does not take all that much effort especially if you make the blackberry sauce and the candied nuts a day ahead of time. Once you have them ready you simply need to bake the brie until it's all nice and melted and good, top it with them and dig in with crackers! This baked brie with blackberry compote and candied walnuts is perfect for the holidays, whether it's entertaining family for Christmas or Thanksgiving or its' friends for a New Years Eve party, or, lets be serious here, making a it just for yourself (because you deserve it)!

New Years Eve Party Recipes

New Years Eve Party Recipes

I can't believe that it's that time of year again but 2015 is almost over and that means that it is time to start planning your New Years Eve party! Whether you are having a few guests over to celebrate or you're just spending a quite night in you are going to need some tasty snacks to help ring in the new year! With that in mind I have gathered up some of my favourite tasty treats that would be amazing at any New Years Eve party and they include everything from decadent melted cheese dips to grilled meat and even a few healthier options for those that are already dreading their New Years resolutions. Whatever you are doing this New Years Eve these tasty treats are sure to please, so enjoy and have a great New Year!

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
My best wishes and a Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

I like to celebrate the holidays with family, friends and (of course) food and I hope that your holidays are filled with good company and plenty of tasty food!

I am grateful!


Chocolate Cherry Balsamic Goat Cheese Shortbread

Chocolate Cherry Balsamic Goat Cheese Shortbread
Are you ready for this chocolate cherry balsamic goat cheese shortbread? The flavour combination might sound a little strange for a cookie but it's absolutely amazing! I often combine two or three of these flavours in different recipes and this shortbread brings them all together in a magical experience for your mouth! Shortbread generally consists butter, sugar and flour and for this shortbread I started out by replacing half of the butter with goat cheese. Next up was the balsamic flavour which I introduced by reducing a balsamic vinegar by half to make a balsamic reduction which concentrates its flavour. I added the chocolate in two ways, by replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder and I added nice large chunks of dark chocolate. The final piece of these creamy cookies is the dried cherries which further enhance that sweet, savoury and tart combo! These chocolate cherry balsamic goat cheese shortbread are sure to be the talk of your holiday cookie platter this year!

Creamy Maple Brie and Cheddar Apple Soup

Creamy Maple Brie and Cheddar Apple Soup with Walnut-Oat Granola
It's soup season and I have a wonderful new recipe to share with you, a creamy maple brie and cheddar apple soup with walnut granola! This soup was inspired by a sweet and savoury version of apple pie where there is cheddar cheese in the apple pie and I was thinking that it would make for a fabulous soup! (Yes, apple pie with cheddar cheese is an actual thing!) I started out with apples of course and I built up the soup with broth and apple cider along with the cheddar cheese. Apple pie is amazing when served with vanilla ice cream so I wanted to add that creamy aspect to the soup which I could have done simply by adding cream but I really enjoy using brie cheese to add creaminess to soups so I use that along with a bit of vanilla. Next up I added some maple syrup to enhance the sweetness of the apples and add the maple flavour and aroma. I started out thinking about apple pie for this soup but when it came to the idea of incorporating the crust I switched tracks and moved over to the idea of an apple crumble and I went with a simple walnut and granola crumble for a garnish which adds a nice crunchy texture! The resulting soup is a spectacular blend of sweet and savoury that is decadently creamy; a bowl of pure delight! This soup is good served warm or chilled and it makes the perfect side for any holiday dinner or a larger bowl makes for a nice light meal!

Chocolate Orange Rosemary Shortbread

Chocolate Orange Rosemary Shortbread
It's time for some shortbread! Shortbread cookies are so easy to make and a holiday classic! At their base they are a simple mixture of butter, sugar and flour and there is something that is just magical about how these buttery cookies melt in your mouth! Yum! In addition to making plenty of batches of basic shortbread I like to add different flavours to several batches each holiday season and these chocolate orange rosemary shortbread are my current favourite! The orange and dark chocolate flavour combo is a classic and it works so amazingly well in creamy shortbread cookies with the hint of rosemary adding something really special to mix! These chocolate orange rosemary shortbread cookies are an amazing addition to any holiday cookie platter and they make for an excellent gift, from the heart!

Pot Roast Beef Stroganoff

Pot Roast Beef Stroganoff
I am enjoying the cooler weather, especially being in the kitchen doing some long slow braised dishes like this pot roast beef stroganoff! In this dish the beef is slowly cooked until it's so nice and tender that it literally melts in your mouth! In addition to making the beef meltingly delicious, this long cooking process also helps bring out a lot of amazing flavour! Speaking of flavour, the flavours of this dish are inspired by beef stroganoff, a dish consisting of beef, usually strips of steak cooked in a pan, along with a paprika, mushroom and sour cream sauce. This pot roast version starts out by browning some stewing beef (I like Ontario Corn Fed Beef), like chuck, brisket, etc., in a pan, making the sauce and then adding broth to simmer everything in. You can easily make this meal in one-pan and it's great simmer on the stove top, in the oven or even in the slow cooker! You can serve the pot roast beef stroganoff over egg noodles, rice or just eat a nice large bowl of it all by itself!

Shrimp Creole Soup with Bacon and Cheddar Dumplings

Shrimp Creole Soup with Bacon and Cheddar Dumplings
It's been chilly the last few days and that means that I have been thinking about warming bowls of soup, like this shrimp creole soup with bacon and cheddar dumplings. A bowl of this soup warms you up in two ways with the temperature of the soup and with the spicy heat from the TABASCO® sauce, it's pure comfort food in a bowl! The inspiration for this soup was a hearty bowl of shrimp creole, which is usually more of a thick stew that is served with rice, to which I added more broth and dumplings, but not just any dumplings, bacon and cheddar dumplings! The dumplings replace the rice as the carb in this one-pot meal and they are made by mixing a simple dough with flour, corn meal, butter, butter milk and green onions in addition to the bacon and cheddar cheese and the dough is spooned into the broth of the soup to cook in balls. This shrimp croele soup is just packed with flavour but the bacon and cheddar cornmeal dumplings take it over the edge in goodness!

Balsamic Soy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

Balsamic Soy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms
Today I have a new side dish recipe for you, balsamic soy roasted garlic mushrooms that are so easy to make and so tasty and good! These mushrooms are as easy to make as tossing whole mushrooms in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and garlic and roasting them until they are all nice and tender! Despite being so simple, these mushrooms are going be the star of your next meal!

Cajun Seasoning

Cajun Seasoning
Homemade seasonings or spice blends are super easy to make and if you use them frequently, they are cheaper and you know exactly what goes into them. A seasoning that I use a lot is a Cajun or Creole seasoning and when I make my own I get to control the amount of salt in it which is important since a lot of store bought blends have a TON of salt. Canjun or Creole style seasonings typically consist of the following spices: paprika, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. With the spicy heat provided by the cayenne in this mix it's also nice to be able to control that to make it as hot or mild as you desire! Another nice thing about homemade spice blends are that they make for great gifts for the holidays so that you can give the gift of flavour!

Check out all of the tasty recipe that I like to use this cajun seasoning in below the recipe!

Caramel Apple Snickerdoodles

Caramel Apple Snickerdoodles
Snickerdoodles are a classic holiday cookie and the other day I had a crazy idea about them; How about apple flavoured snickerdoodles? This came to mind while I was enjoying a fresh batch of slow cooker apple butter and the concentrated flavour of the apple butter would be perfect in the cookies. Snickerdoodles are rolled in sugar and cinnamon which is the perfect companion to apple making these cookies even better! I wasn't done there! I had another idea, apple and caramel are amazing together so why not add caramel to the mix either by drizzling some sauce on top or by stuffing caramel into the cookies? It's so simple to stuff the cookies with chewing caramels before baking and when they come out of the oven the caramel is all nice and melted a oh so ooey, gooey and good! These caramel apple snickerdoodles are sure to be a hit on your holiday cookie platter!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Homemade apple butter is the best! That thick 'butter' like consistency apple sauce spread all over some cinnamon toast in the morning is simply amazing! Apple butter is basically an apple sauce that is reduced to a thick butter like consistency so that it can be spread, like butter, on things like toast, bagels, pancakes, waffles, etc. The apple flavour is concentrated as the apples are reduced and this really intensifies the apple flavour! Apple butter is pretty easy to make but when making it on the stove top it requires some attention and so the slow cooker is a great alternative as you can place the apples into the slow cooker and let them go, unattended! You just cook the apples in the slow cooker until tender, puree them and then crank up the heat, remove the lid from the slow cooker and cook until the apple sauce has reduced to a nice thick 'butter'. This intensity of the apple flavour in the apple butter also makes it perfect for adding apple flavour to other recipes including quick breads, cookies, soups, etc.

With the holiday season here, this apple butter makes for a great homemade gift! (And you certainly don't need to mention how easy it is to make!)

Melting Potatoes

Melting Potatoes
Looking for a side dish for tonights dinner? These melting potatoes are amazing! They are roasted in butter in a pan until the edges are all nice and golden brown and crispy before they are finished by roasting in a lemon and garlic chicken broth/sauce until the insides are so nice and soft that they melt in your moth! These melting potatoes are one of those game changing side dishes that once you try them, you'll never go back!

One Pan Greek Lemon Chicken Rice with Roast Garlic

One Pan Greek Lemon Chicken Rice with Roast Garlic
Having a small kitchen I really enjoy a nice one-pan meal for the ease and convenience and this one-pan greek lemon chicken rice with roast garlic is my current favourite! You won't believe how easy it is to make this meal and it's just packed with flavour! It starts off by frying the chicken in a pan until the skin is nice and golden brown, crispy and good! Onions and garlic are then sautéed before adding the rice, broth and heads of garlic and throwing it in the oven to roast until the rice and chicken are both cooked! It's really that simple!

Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
Are you ready for baking for the holiday cookie season? I thought that I would start out my holiday cookie platter with these thick and chewy peanut butter cookies which are both a classic and a personal favourite! These peanut cookies are so easy to make! You just mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, mix them together, form balls and bake for 10 minutes! All said and done they take less than 30 minutes to make! Pour yourself a glass of milk and put on some holiday music and relax while you wait for them to to come out of the oven! These thick and chewy peanut butter cookies are a crowd pleaser and they will disappear quickly so it's always a good idea to make a double batch!