2011: Change is Good

After what actually felt like a loooooong Holiday Vacation, we are back in San Francisco. And truthfully, I suppose it was a long vacation, compared to the recent Holiday trips. I think we were both craving some quality family time, what with not seeing most of our families at all since last Christmas – an occurrence we don’t hope to repeat this year (maybe a New Year’s resolution that’s actually doable?!).

We spent most of our time in NC ping-ponging between our two families and ended the vacay in Chicago for New Year’s. As if this really needs saying, we hit up some of our old favorite eateries (The Pit in Raleigh, Bonsoiree & Xoco in Chicago) and tried out a long-time spot on my list, The Lantern in Chapel Hill as well as Avec in Chicago. Needless to say, we’ll be starting the year off eating a much healthier diet, but it was certainly worth it.

Meanwhile, I hope you all had lovely Holidays. In an effort not to make a ton of resolutions that are unlikely to be attained, I’ll stick to last year’s drill and revisit some 2011 favorites. It is a good way to look back at an amazing year, after all.

January: Lime Angel Food Cake with Pistachios. I know I don’t really need a reason to start off with nuts and cake, but I have an easy one. We finally met Kenna and her husband, Michael, at this Iron Chef battle and to repay us for inviting them, they won! Plus, it’s a great semi-healthy recipe if you’re feeling the need for that sorta thing but still wanna eat some sweets :).

February: Citrus Salad with Feta & Mint. A great salad when you need a quick throw-together recipe for a pot-luck party – especially if said party occurs right in the middle of your planning to move across the country. We’d recently gotten and accepted an offer on our condo (in a record 3 weeks!), so it worked out perfectly since I’d been avoiding cooking, for fear of having to scrub the countertops for the 100th time that month.

March: Mango Pulled Pork on Plantain Chips. The final Iron Chef Chicago. It was nice to go out with a win, since I’m not sure if I’ll be winning any in the SF competition. Plus, this pulled pork recipe is a no-brainer, with or without the plantain chips.

April: Quick Vietnamese Pho. I swear we ate this dish at least 10 times during the month of April. Your choices are limited when you’re living in temporary housing with only a couple of cheap, crap-ass cooking pots. But even in the comfort of our new home, this dish was a winner. The depth of flavor isn’t anywhere near that of the phos found in restaurants, but by golly, it’s still tasty.

May: Swiss Chard-Stuffed Shells. This ended up being the first dish I made in our new place, which symbolized the end of a months-long transition, and the beginning of a new life in California.

June: Black Sesame Otsu. I think I’ve cooked about 10,000 things from Heidi Swanson’s newest cookbook, and this one continues to be a favorite. Matter of fact, I think it’s going to make its 2012 debut pretty soon. And don’t frown at the tofu – when it’s good and crispy it is oh-so-yummy. And if you still aren’t sold, just use cooked chicken instead.

July (ish): Cilantro Scallion Bread. Yeah, so this is really from August. But I already picked the recipes and edited the pictures before I realized it. Plus, I made this for a group outing to an oyster farm, where we had a blast of a time with new California friends. You can’t forget that, can you?!

August: Heirloom Tomatoes + Buttermilk Dressing. I waited a long time for some heirloom tomatoes, and then I slathered creamy dressing all over them. I didn’t feel bad about it.

September: Meatball Curry. A hearty, meaty dish that was a perfect way to feed a group full of Chicago visitors arriving from the airport. That weekend, we rented a Towncar and drove them around Wine Country. Then we squeezed all three of them into our Mini the next day. And then they left us with a Chez Panisse gift card to thank us for hosting. Now those are some good guests!

October (ish, again): Chana Masala. Whoops, I did it again. I really should have gone back and fixed this, now that it’s happened twice. But you guys really do need to make the chana masala, so at least this way I can remind you of its awesomeness.

November: Pumpkin Empanadas. Ummm…. because we have to have another dessert on here? Or because pumpkin is one of my favorite veggies? Or maybe it’s because the empanadas are so cute, and I even figured out how to make the twirly edges? Or maybe it’s just because I love the random iPhone in the picture. Regardless, I just reminded myself that half of this recipe is still hanging out in the freezer. Maybe they can be a reward after a little healthiness?

December: Rabbit Ragu w/ Soppressata. I ran around town looking for rabbit the day I made this. It was so worth it, though. It’s too bad the pictures don’t make it look as appetizing as it really was, but maybe some of you like looking at mounds of shredded meat?

2 thoughts on “2011: Change is Good

  1. Do you realize that I had the good fortune of eating 2 of these dishes?!? I can promise any reader that both the cilantro scallion bread AND the pumpkin empanadas are pretty amazing!!! Looking forward to more good meals in 2012! Happy New Year

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