2013 Recap

To say that 2013 has been a whirlwind year would really be an understatement. Our life is so completely different, but in so many good ways. Two years ago we rang in the new year in the middle of a pile of boxes, ready to move around the world to China. Last year we rang in the new year back in San Diego, with the excitement of expecting our first child. This year we ring in the new year as a family of 3 (or 5 including the cats). We’re in a different home, in a different city, with a different job for Jesse, and a new degree for me… It’s so crazy how quickly EVERYTHING can change. And I know it’s horribly cheesy to say, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

With all of the major life changes we have had in last year, this poor little blog has been terribly neglected. Usually when I sit down to write my yearly recap I have a pretty good idea of what the top recipes will be. This year I had NO CLUE. Some of the most popular reader favorites were a little surprising, but that’s a good thing! It’s fun to see how reader trends correlate to my own favorite recipes. So let’s jump right in! Today I’ll share the top five reader favorites! Tomorrow I’ll share my favorites!

Top 3 Reader Favorites of 2013

IMG_8163Homemade Italian Dressing –

I don’t know why this one surprises, I guess I just didn’t expect a simple salad dressing to be such a hit! But it is deliciously easy so I really shouldn’t be surprised! Having a go-to homemade Italian dressing was a lifesaver in my first trimester when only zippy and tangy salad dressings sounded good!

IMG_7816Spicy, Sticky, Sweet, Asian Meatballs –

I was really excited to see that this was so popular with my readers. This was a recipe I was extremely proud of. We love the way they taste and I love that they are still relatively good for you and easy to make. Triple winner in my book.

IMG_7246Avocado, Bacon, and Cheese {ABC} Puffs

Another super simple recipe. Perfect for football Sundays. With the playoffs coming up I won’t be surprised to see even more pins and hits on this recipe!

 

Giant Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies

Things have been so quiet around here and I would like to apologize, but since I’ve been spending my time cuddling the world’s cutest baby instead of posting I’m kind of sorry not sorry. One day I hope to be able to better balance baby cuddling time with food blogging time, but until then, can I make it up to you by sharing a picture of the world’s cutest baby?

Are still trying to decide what kind of cookies to leave out for Santa? Can I make a suggestion? How about these Giant Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies? They are soft, chewy, giant, with the perfect touch of crunchy M&M chocolate. The oatmeal isn’t overwhelming, but it adds a nice texture to the cookies.

 

 

 

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

Do you know what is no fun at.all. Sick babies. They’re a real bummer. I would know because our sweet 3 month old had her very first cold over Thanksgiving. Poor baby. Then Jesse and I both got colds! It was not the best week at the Sunny Side house. Thankfully we are all feeling much better!

Usually around this time of year I’m posting a week of Christmas cookies. This year it’s been a little harder for me to organize my holiday baking, so I decided not to commit to a full week, instead I’ll just post things as I have time to make them!

These delicious little cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction popped up on my Facebook feed last week and the timing was perfect. I don’t usually have boxed cake mix but I was going to make something for Thanksgiving that called for it so I bought some. I never got around to making what I had originally planned so there it was, just sitting in the pantry waiting to be made into these cookies.

What’s cool about these cookies is that they taste like a cupcake but have the chewy texture of a cookie. It’s the best of both worlds! Plus, you can use festive sprinkles. Who doesn’t like sprinkles? And this would be a great recipe to make with kids. You don’t even need a standing mixer (though you can totally use one if you want!).

The only change I made from the original recipe is to use less sprinkles. The recipe called for 1 cup of sprinkles and that seemed like a lot. In the end I used closer to 1/3 of a cup and I felt like they were plenty sprinkle-y. Below I’ll use my measurement and you can just add more if you’d like. Also, I used my medium cookie scoop and didn’t smooth it out at all before baking so my cookies look a little rougher than Sally’s, next time I’ll roll them into balls instead of using the scoop.

 

Cranberry Relish

The big week is here! My menu is finalized, most of the groceries have been bought, and I’ve even started my food prep! One thing I have discovered since hosting my first Thanksgiving 2 years ago is that things can quickly go from calm to chaotic. I don’t know if it’s just me, but by the time I’m ready to get dinner on the table, all kitchen organization has gone out the window. I’m trying to find the last remaining inches of counter space to carve the turkey, gravy is usually bubbling over on the stove, and all of my potholders have magically disappeared. So each year it becomes that much more important for me to have a) a time line and b) as much prepared ahead of time as possible, even if it means putting out-of-town visitors to work!

This weekend my mom and sister came to visit (since they are sadly not able to come on Thanksgiving day). We had a lot of fun hanging out and playing with the baby, but I still had turkey day prep on my mind. At one point we got on the conversation of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes and my sister said that her favorite was Cranberry Relish. I have never made it before so I didn’t know how far in advance it could be made, she told me the she usually likes it best after it has sat for a few days. So I decided to put her right to work! She whipped up this relish in no time at all. That beautiful cranberry red is reason enough for this to make it’s way to your Thanksgiving table, but it also tastes amazing. It’s a perfect combination of sweet and tart. And it’s crazy easy!