Top Recipes of 2015

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I made it through the entire year without being sick, but today, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh well. If there is one good thing that comes out of being under the weather, it’s the extra time to do nothing. There is beauty and peace in doing absolutely nothing, and since I enjoy a busy schedule, I usually don’t practice the art of being still. The year is coming to an end, and while stuck at home today I had time to reflect on 2015. I flipped through a few photos on my phone and on Facebook to help remind me of the new friends I’ve met, new places I’ve been, and all that’s happened throughout the course of the year.

Related to that, we’ve had some exciting developments with this blog over the past year. New companies to work with, a new design, and tons of new recipes. While reflecting on 2015, I compiled a list of my favorite recipes we posted this year. Drumroll please! In no particular order, they are:

  1. Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches: Crispy, gooey, melty, delicious grilled cheese sandwiches with a little kick of heatDSC_0284
  2. Key Lime Meringue Pie: Zesty and light as a featherDSC_0050-745x1024
  3. Pull-Apart Pizza Bread: The perfect dish to serve at your next potluckDSC_0851
  4. Slow Cooker Tikka Masala: An easy dish to feed a crowdDSC_1299
  5. Southwestern Soup: A weeknight go-to meal with chicken, beans, peppers, and moreDSC_0792
  6. Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaves: Chocolatey autumnal loaves that are the perfect size to give as giftsDSC_1251
  7. Red Beans and Rice: Creamy, rich beans and spicy sausage make this dish a healthy hit in our houseDSC_0867
  8. Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies: Chocolate cake paired with a sweet fruity filling makes these desserts irresistible DSC_0726
  9. Candy Bar Blondies: What makes a basic blondie recipe even better? Oreos and peanut butter cups, of course. DSC_13381-1024x683

This list makes me excited to think about the recipes we’ll create in the coming new year! As always, Neil and I are thankful that you’ve stuck with us for another year. Some of you readers are our family, others we’ve never met before. No matter how long you’ve followed this blog, we hope you enjoy our posts as we continue to imagine, create, and share recipes from our corner of the world. We wish you and your family a very happy New Year! Cheers!

Braised Beef with Tomato Sauce

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I love this time of year. The craziness, the hustle and bustle, the pre-holiday rush. It’s within the rush and the business that I am reminded what being busy really means. I am reminded that although I have countless meetings to attend this week, I am beyond blessed to be working my dream job. I am reminded that although I haven’t started Christmas shopping, I have loved ones that I get to shop for. I am reminded that although I’ve been at church volunteering in the band five nights this week, I have a community that puts Christ first and invests in others. Tonight, we didn’t get home until 10pm, and that’s okay, but on busy nights like this one, we sure do come home hungry (and goodness knows I don’t need more frozen or fast food).

Our new Cuisinart 3-in-1 Multicooker tremendously helps out in a busy season like the one we’re in now. It steams, sautés/browns, and slow cooks within one pot. The portable design is easy to take over to a friend’s house, and it’s even dishwasher safe for easy clean up.

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photocredit: cuisinart.com

This is a flavorful and hearty dish that is simple to prepare and feeds a crowd (just in time for that company arriving for the holidays). Using the 3-in-1 Multicooker, I sautéed the vegetable mixture and browned the meat, then without even turning the Multicooker off, switched it to low and allowed to simmer for most of the day. With just two of us at the house, this dish lasts all week and is so comforting after a crammed day. The holiday season can fly by in a flash, so take time even during the hustle and bustle to reflect on the reason you’re running around, the opportunities presented to you each day, and the true meaning of this time of year.

Braised Beef with Tomato Sauce
Prep Time: 20 min. Slow Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients:

2 lbs. beef shoulder, seasoned generously with kosher salt and pepper
1 red onion
2 carrots, peeled
3 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper, seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
6-oz. tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
28-oz. whole peeled tomatoes
4 bay leaves
Kosher salt
1 box pasta, prepared according to instructions on box

Preparation:

Using the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Multicooker, turn the Brown/Sauté feature on and set to 350°. While Multicooker is heating, roughly chop the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and bell pepper. Place all of these ingredients in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are minced and form a paste-like consistency (about 20 pulses).

Once the Multicooker is heated, add the olive oil and vegetable mixture along with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Sauté vegetable mixture for about 10 minutes, scraping brown bits from the bottom and sides of the cooking bowl with a wooden spoon as needed.

Stir in the tomato paste and continue to saute for 5 minutes. Using tongs, add the beef and brown each side for about a minute. Continue to scrape bits from the bottom of the pan as needed with the wooden spoon.

Add the red wine and scrape bits again with the wooden spoon from the bottom of the bowl vigorously. Add tomatoes with the sauce from the can and bay leaves. Crush tomatoes with the wooden spoon and continue to scrape any brown bits from the bottom or sides of bowl.

Place lid on the Multicooker and switch to the Low Slow Cook mode. Slow cook for 8 hours or until beef pulls easily away from itself with a fork.

After 8 hours, remove the beef onto a cutting board and shred into small pieces. Return shredded beef to the tomato sauce in the Multicooker and stir to combine.

Serve braised beef with tomato sauce atop pasta and finish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and black pepper.

6-8 servings

Cuisinart sponsored this post, however, as always, all opinions are 100% our own.

Four Ingredient Brussels

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I don’t think we’ve ever posted a more easy recipe. After a busy day of running from work to home to the store to rehearsal and back home again, the last thing I need to do is go get a million ingredients and decode a long new recipe. In my book, it’s best to enjoy complicated recipes on the weekend. So, here we are on a Wednesday night. With four simple ingredients, you’ll have a healthy, tasty, side dish in just over a half hour.

Roasting brussels sprouts brings out a sweet nuttiness that I just can’t resist this time of year. The salty finish makes them a little too easy to eat (I devour them like popcorn). Hey, at least I won’t feel guilty helping myself to seconds if this is on the table!

Four Ingredient Brussels Sprouts
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 35 min.

Ingredients:

20 brussels sprouts, ends cut off and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven (or convection oven) to 350°. Place all ingredients on the solid pan (included with oven) and toss until brussels are lightly coated in oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm!