It’s not too late for Guinness cupcakes!

I’m not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today, but if I were going to at the last minute, I would definitely make my favorite chocolate cake in the whole world – Guinness Chocolate Cake. It’s very easy to make, and is incredibly rich and moist. The cake itself isn’t very beery, although you can tell it’s there if you know what you’re tasting for.

It’s also very easy to half the recipe and make it into Chocolate Stout Cupcakes if you were making them for just a few people and didn’t want to have to eat all that cake yourself. The only special ingredients you might need are stout beer and yogurt or sour cream. Today, I’d frost the cupcakes with green frosting.

(One of these days I’ll get around to making the cupcakes and filling them with whiskeyed ganache and topping them with Bailey’s flavored frosting, like Deb does at Smitten Kitchen.)

Paczki (Polish Mardi Gras donuts)

Last year for Mardi Gras I made Paczki, which I’d always wanted to make. I don’t have the energy to fry and fill donuts this weekend. I think I’ll just buy some from the grocery store when we go next – I can’t imagine a Mardi Gras season without them. And hopefully, I’ll make a King’s Cake tomorrow.

Late-week update

I made soup for dinner and I made cookies tonight. I just can’t sit at the computer and blog about them right now.

Tomorrow or over the weekend, you’ll have a review of Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup and Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies… I didn’t even realize until I typed the titles just now that it was a “Mexican”-themed cooking evening. It certainly wasn’t planned.

I’ll also put up a new recipe count page for 2011 over the weekend, and maybe blog about whatever it is I’m going to make with the sourdough starter I started feeding again!

Plans for 2011

I always look forward to the beginning of the new year. I’m not actually a fan of New Year’s resolutions; most of the time they’re unattainable (although I was able to keep my 2010 resolution!), or you just can’t stick with them. I still make goals, though. I like to think about what changes I’ll make. I don’t have a large resolution for 2011, but I do have some food-related things I plan to do.

I’m still going to cook and blog, so please come back to see what I make! I will soon make English muffins, because I’ve wanted to make those for a long time. I also made a vanilla cordial last year that I didn’t get a chance to review; I guess it’ll actually be #368 for 2010.

As a gift, I received a book in Japanese (which I can read) – it’s called 365 lunchboxes! So you can look forward to seeing some Japanese recipes featured on this blog. I received a dehydrator for Christmas, so I think I’ll also experiment with making some jerky and dried fruit, among other things. There will probably be less bread on my blog in general, as Alex is planning to go on a lower-carb diet and I don’t want to tempt him with too many goodies; that also means fewer sweets. There’ll probably be more meat dishes, spice rubs, and seasoned nuts recipes on here soon, too.

If I make anything that tastes especially great, I’ll blog about that. I’m going to try to clear through some pantry as well, so you’ll likely see some of those things here. I’m looking forward to blogging about some old favorites that I keep returning too. I expect that sometime in the spring I’ll have a chocolate chip cookie bake-off, a long-time dream of mine. So please stay tuned!

2010 in Review: 367 Brand New Recipes

It’s now 2011, and all of the recipes I made in 2010 have been photographed, eaten, and blogged about.

I got a late, slow start on my 2010 resolution to make a new recipe for every day of the year. I knew I wasn’t going to be disciplined enough to make a new recipe on every single day, but I was okay with making 2 one day if I skipped another. Plus, I wasn’t able to begin cooking until January 3 or 4, a natural hazard of traveling for the holidays. I only made 19 recipes in that first month, and stayed at a relaxed pace through a 22-recipe February. From the beginning, though, I vowed to make those recipes up.

I played catch-up little by little throughout the year, but November and December were the months where I did the best, particularly when you consider that I spent much of those months traveling. I was on hiatus for a good part of a week over Thanksgiving, but I still managed to make 33 recipes in 30-day November. What I’m most proud of, though, is the 38 new recipes I made in December – the last of which I made on December 25. While I didn’t get to make that many new recipes for any given holiday – most people I talked to considered Thanksgiving to be the perfect time to try out new recipes – I caught up mostly by deciding that almost everyone on my Christmas shopping list was getting a food gift basket. I’ve made a goodie basket for my extended family for the past few years, but I think I gave out 10 goodie baskets this year.

In any case, all of the holiday baking and candy-making brought my recipe count up. I had actually only planned to make an even 365 recipes, but I ended up just looking up a few recipes in my Mom’s cookbook for old favorites (pecan pie and chocolate chip cookies) that I usually would have usually used a different source for. Toss in a mid-month marathon weekend in the kitchen to make up for a week that I didn’t feel up to cooking as much as I wanted, and that’s how I made 38 recipes in 25 days.

I’ve been chronically behind on my blogging for the majority of the year. A few times I caught up on recipe reviews, only to fall behind again. Normally I wasn’t more than a week behind, until I was so busy cooking in December that I fell behind by 3 weeks!!

One more thing about this year. People often think I should have gained weight this year. For the first half of the year, I didn’t (and neither did my husband) – I must have balanced my meals and my fun cooking and baking pretty well. For the second half of the year, I started an intensive exercise program, which helped me actually lose a few pounds. I can’t think of anything I made just because it was healthy, and I’m glad to be able to say that cooking and eating delicious food doesn’t always mean weight gain.

*****

I’ve been looking to seeing what the most popular tags on my site were:

Baking: 110
Veggie: 78
Dessert: 61
Chocolate: 60
Breakfast: 52
Fruit: 52
Bread: 50

It’s no surprise to me that baking is so high on my list. It also seems obvious that chocolate and dessert (which actually doesn’t include everything sweet, I don’t think) are so high on the list. I’m surprised that Veggie is so high on my list, but I suppose it’s not surprising when you think that a lot of dinners that I made also had a heavy vegetable component. The sourdough starter I got from my friend gave me incentive to make lots of bread, including hamburger buns a few times, although the Bread tag includes lots of quick breads as well.

I’ve also made 28 cookie recipes, 23 sourdough recipes, 19 cakes or cupcakes, 17 soup recipes, 14 batches of brownies (plus the brownie bake-off), 14 pancake and waffle recipes, 10 pies, and 10 kinds of scones!

December update

As I enter the month of December, I realize how close I am to being done with my goal of making 365 new recipes this year. I’m now five days and nine recipes into the month. I started the month five recipes behind, and now I’m only behind by one.

In September, it occurred to me how strange it will be in 2011 to not have this goal of making a new recipe for every day of the year. To be sure, it’ll be exciting to be able to use up all the ingredients in my pantry without finding new things to do with them. It’ll be nice to be able to make my usual soups, stew, chili, and spaghetti sauce recipes – the ones that I just toss together and add ingredients to taste. I’ve got a lot of random ingredients in my pantry, and while I’ll definitely have to find new things to do with some of them (like the case of cocoa powder that I’ve got in my basement), it’ll be nice to be able to cook whatever I want without having to find a source to make it from.

I’m not going to give up on making new recipes, though. I still have 3 giant binders of recipes, a stack of recipes in my kitchen, 2 shelves of bargain cookbooks, and a few newer, specialized cookbooks filled with recipes waiting to be tried out. I like cooking and baking way too much to stop. Next year, I’m going to try a chocolate chip cookie bake-off, similar to the brownie taste test I did earlier this year. I’m entranced by bread, so I’m going to experiment with more bread recipes on the weekends during the cold winter months of 2011. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to show off things that I myself create, rather than just food that I re-create.

I’m incredibly excited to be in the home stretch. Like I said, I’m 5 days and 9 recipes into December. This is the closest I’ve been to being on target all year long – just 27 recipes left for the next 26 days. With the holidays here, I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goal without some planning. A friend asked me this weekend what else I was going to cook this month, and I may have bored her with all of the things I got excited to tell her about. I’ll list it here as well, but at least you get the benefit of being able to skim over it.

Chicken Breasts with Green Chile-Almond Cream Sauce
Sesame-Soy Meatballs
Curried Chicken Saute
Sourdough and Sausage Stuffing
English Muffins
Vanilla-Roasted Pears
Marshmallows
Toffee
Peanut Brittle
Baguettes
Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits (which I won’t eat, and probably won’t count towards my 365)
Biscotti (perhaps more than one kind)
Pecan Pie
Chocolate Spoons
Apple Tarte Tatin
Fennel-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with roasted potatoes and pears

It may change a little bit over the next few weeks – I’m sure I’ll have to postpone a few recipes, and there’ll definitely be some additions. It’s the season for cookies, so I’ll definitely make some new recipes and post them on here! My only limits are time, and the willingness of the people around me to continue to eat what I make.

So many recipes!

I knew I was a little behind on blogging, but suddenly I was behind by a week! Before today, I still had a recipe from February that I hadn’t reviewed.

Prior to today, you could only read up through recipe #40.

On a bright note, I’ve made 8 recipes so far this month! Yes, in only 6 days, I’ve made 8 recipes. I haven’t posted about one, Black and Tan Brownies, because they’re currently cooling in the kitchen. That post is mostly written. I have one recipe up for tomorrow and am planning on finding a second for dinner, since I have to cook anyway.

I’ve made 49 new recipes in 65 days.

All up-to-date!

After long last, I’ve put up recipe reviews for all 22 of the recipes I’ve made this year! Finally! As I’ve said before, there have been 37 days this year, so I’m about 15 recipes behind. I will catch up, eventually.

So far, the most popular tags have been chocolate and dessert. This is not-at-all surprising. It’s much more fun to make sweets!

Bloggy blog blog?!

I’ve finally started a blog. About time, right? Well, I’ve actually had a few other blogs, but I thought I’d start again. At the moment, this blog is primarily about food.

I made a New Year’s resolution to cook more and dine out less. More specifically, to dine out for no more than one dinner and one lunch a week, and to make 365 recipes this year. One for each day of the year. I know, I know – it’s a lot like the premise from Julie and Julia – but not all of this will be fancy cooking. In fact, it’s likely not.

I hadn’t originally planned on making all new recipes, but somehow, making ones I’ve made before seemed a lot like cheating. So, while I’ve made butterscotch brownies and my favorite chicken recipe ever, I don’t really want to count those.

I also play with the recipes a little bit. I leave out things I don’t like, or I adjust them to taste. Makes sense, right? My husband always said I should start my own restaurant, and only serve things I like – and it should be a restaurant called “Things I Like.” So that’s how it works. Sometimes I feel like being fussy with following the directions, and sometimes I’m just pretty sure that it’ll turn out right no matter how I construct a dish. Or it’ll be yummy enough.

Right now I have recipe #13 in the oven.