Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 In Review: Your Favorites

I cannot believe we have entered into another year.  It seems like yesterday I was sitting down to review your favorites recipes from 2014.  2015 has come and gone and it's been a year to remember, to say the least.

It was a year filled with many memories, some bad but most of them truly amazing that I will hold close to my heart forever.  I had tons of fun in the kitchen trying out several different new recipes, catering 2 large (for me) events, and watching my little guy's love for cooking grow even more.  Those were just a few cooking related accomplishments that took place last year.

A lot took place out of the kitchen too.  We started our first year of homeschool, which is going really well!  Since we're in the homeschool world we've been able to tag along with the hubs and spend time with him while he's been away on business.  We also spent an amazing week at the beach complete with crystal blue waters and the most amazing weather you could possibly ask for.  To wrap up the year we headed south to Orlando.  That's right, my little guy spent his last week as a 5 year old in the land of magic.  We hit up Sea World, Universal Studios, Island of Adventure, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs.  It was 8 days packed full of fun, magic and even snow!  It was pure joy seeing his eyes get so big and fill with so much awe and joy.  It truly was a magical experience for all of us!

2015 was an amazing year, to say the least.  I can't wait to see what's in store for 2016.

I want to thank you all for your support, encouragement and love throughout the year.  I am I so excited this year.  But, before we get started let's take a look back at some of your favorite recipes of 2015.

In January there were several recipes that got rave reviews, but the one that topped the list was Crack Sandwiches (A.K.A. Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders).  These little sandwiches are so easy to assemble and can be made ahead of time, making them ideal for snacks and parties as well as weeknight meals.  These are a crowd favorite for all ages.

I admit, there are some days when I look for an acceptable excuse to have a cookie for breakfast!  And this Orange and Dark Chocolate Biscotti gives you the perfect reason to dunk a cookie in your morning cup of coffee.  This biscotti is flavored with orange zest and juice with chunks of chocolate throughout.  It's made even more indulgent by taking a little dip in a pool of melted dark chocolate.  Yes, you're welcome!

Another one of your favorites were these cherry cream cheese puff pastry bites.  These little jewels are another one of those simple, yet impressive recipes.  A few ingredients, about 30 minutes and you've got a plate full of these beautiful, flaky puff pastries filled with bright red cherries and a drizzle of white chocolate.  These little bites are perfect for an indulgent breakfast, brunch, and even dessert!

I can't tell you how many gatherings I took this white bean and basil hummus to, but I can tell you that every time this dip popped up I was giving out the recipe from the time people took the first bite until after the bowl was scraped clean.  This is a terrific spin on the classic hummus and it's filled with bright and earthy flavors that scream spring and summer.

You guys are truly people after my own heart.  I'm a sucker for foods that bring a since of nostalgia, and I can't think of a better one than this blended root beer float.  This float is simple, it's a slight twist on the original floats we all know and love, but it changes it up just  a touch.  Blending the ice cream and root beer combines that creamy fizzy element we all know and love, giving us the perfect amount of each in every sip.

You know, we can't choose when a craving hits but sometimes we have a hard time quenching that craving when it's say....a cup of hot chocolate in the middle of a 90 degree summer day.  But, when it's a mug of frozen hot chocolate on a hot, summer day with a dollop of Nutella in the mix I'm all for that.  You all LOVED this frozen Nutella hot chocolate, making it one of the most popular recipe on the blog not only in June but the whole year!

This past summer was a doozy.  Each day felt like it was hotter than the one before and we were all looking ways to stay cool.  A cold drink is always in order and this homemade version of a soda fountain favorite was a delicious and fun way to beat the heat.  I can't tell you how many times I made these Homemade orange Italian cream sodas, they were a heavily requested treat over the warmer months.

It seems like sweets and beverages were the theme for the year.  Here's yet another beverage recipe that topped the ranks in 2015.  The simple, yet beautiful Gin, Lemon and Mint Martini.

Italian sub, Italian salad, I'm a sucker for anything and everything with salami, olives, pepperoni, and salty pickles.  These Italian skewers were no exception.  They are a cinch to make, even easier to eat and a true crowd pleaser.

Brownies are a favorite of practically everyone.  What's not to love; chocolate, fudgy, stick-to-your-teeth goodness.  But when you add chocolate stout to the mix it takes that beloved dessert to a whole new level.

We all know and love the goodness that is pepper jelly atop tangy cream cheese.  It's one of those simplistic recipes that is a crowd favorite.  But when you add tart cranberry sauce to the mix it takes this beloved favorite to a whole new level.  Pair with spicy pepper jelly and you've got a sweet, spicy, and tangy dip that is so addicting, but it also makes a great spread on ham and turkey sandwiches!

I think it's safe to say that anyone who visited a Starbucks during the winter months spotted those beautiful white frosted bars speckled with bright cranberries and drizzled with chocolate.  Those Cranberry Bliss Bars were one of their most popular items until they switched bakery items a while back.  But have no fear, all you bliss bar lovers, you can make those addicting, chewy bars in the comfort of your own home whenever that craving hits.  This recipe is a dead-ringer for those bars that previously graced those pastry cases in the coffee house.

It's been a fun walk down memory lane, remembering and drooling over all of these amazing recipes I had the opportunity to make last year.  I look forward to sharing my favorites of 2015 with you soon and then moving on to some tasty treats I have in store for you for 2016.  Can't wait to see what tops the reader's choice next this year!

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