Jan 03
2012

Top 11 of 2011

When Satisfy My Sweet Tooth came into existence this past summer, I had no idea where this adventure would take me.  What I started as something to share recipes with friends and family and hone my photography skills has slowly developed into a full-time obsession that I just can’t get enough of!  Experimenting, writing, taking photos and sharing all of it with you has been such a pleasure and I thank you sincerely for following along with my on my culinary adventures!

I thought I would sum up my first 6 months of blogging with some highlight of my favorite recipes and yours.

1.  Possibly my most popular recipe are these Coffee-Spiked Chocolate Caramel Bars.  Rich and buttery graham cracker crust topped with homemade caramel, chocolate ganache and sea salt.  Need I say more?

On another note, did you know that “espresso” is one of the most commonly mispronounced words?  I read a list of words in the newspaper this week.  People usually stick a “c” in there to make it “ek-spress-oh”.  Just thought you would want to know.

2.  I was surprised how gaga you all went for these sweet and salty beauties.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I drool over these Peanut Butter, Pretzel and Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I am so happy at how many of you lovelies have let me know that you have made and enjoyed these as well.

3.  Next are these Coconut, M&M Cookie Bars.  These bars combine two of my favorite ingredients:  chocolate and coconut.  The flavor of these cookies is almost like the Samoas Girl Scout cookies and they are just so chewy and addicting.

4.  One of my favorite savory recipes that I have shared with you is this pasta with Red and Green Pesto.  I can’t believe I have only made it once and I also just realized that this would be a very festive Christmas recipe!  I really should start making a list for next year’s holiday season already…..

 

5.  And of course, my all-time favorite pasta, Grandma Suzy’s Fettucini Freddi.  This sauce is so clean and simple, yet every time I eat it, I cannot stop oohing and aahing over it.  And especially now that I received the pasta maker attachment for my mixer, I cannot wait to make homemade noodles with this silky, delectable sauce!

6.  I was so thrilled when I stumbled upon this Crock Pot Apple Butter this fall!  Talk about an easy food gift to share with others.  This will be a staple that I make every fall when friends and family give me apples from their fall harvests.

7.  Nothing really satisfied my craving for crunch like these Heath and Macadamia Nut Blondies.  Chocolate, toffee and nuts are such a rich combination and all of the textures together makes these bars particularly drool-worthy.

8.  I took my first cooking class in 2011 with Emily.  The recipe that I have made the most often from that evening of learning is these Fresh Spring Rolls.  I love how diverse they are because of all of the possible fillings and the sauce is so perfect that I do not even want to order them out at restaurants anymore!  And they are a perfect healthy recipe to start off 2012 right.

9.  I never realized how starting my own blog would lead to an obsession with other blogs!  There is just so much inspiration to be found by browsing through other people’s creative ideas.  No ingredient was more prominent in the blog world during the fall than pumpkin.  I have a few pumpkin classics that I make each year and possibly my favorite is this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake.  It is so moist and incredible.

10.  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.  These bars are a perfect example of how i see a recipe and then brainstorm about how I can change it to fit my preferences.  These are chewy, nutty, filling and healthy.  A breakfast treat or snack that you can really feel good about.

11.  And finally, one of my favorite combinations, chocolate and peanut butter combined in these soft and chewy Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Cups and Sea Salt.  Cookies are my absolute favorite dessert!  I’ll take a perfect cookie over a rich chocolate tart or cake any day.  They are also very dangerous though because I can never eat just one!  This is a cookie that you could easily put your own spin on with several different ingredients.  Let your creativity shine!

I am not big on resolutions, but a new year does make me think about what improvements I would like to make in my life.  As always, I know that I want and need to exercise more.  I actually feel excited about it after lounging non-stop and eating way too many holiday delights.

I have an email folder, Pinterest board and cookbooks full of recipes that I cannot wait to try this year.  I hope that you will continue to join me on my adventures in the kitchen.  I do so appreciate your readership and support.  I always love hearing from you and please let me know if there is anything special you would like me to share with you in 2012.  Happy New Year sweet teeth!

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I love spring rolls but for some reason I had always feared the sticky rice paper and been too scared to make them myself.  All that has changed thankfully.  A good friend and I recently attended a cooking class and spring rolls were on the list of dishes to make.  I have always recognized that the ingredients are simple, but I have had negative experiences with rice noodles in the past and I thought that getting that rice paper wet would leave me with a sloppy clump of frustration.  Much to my surprise, rice paper is relatively easy to work with and even if minor tears do occur, it all gets rolled up anyway!

So to make fresh spring rolls, you can basically just choose the vegetables (sprouts, lettuce, peppers, carrots, etc.), protein (tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork, etc.) herbs (basil, mint, cilantro) that you like and you could even stuff in some rice or rice noodles in if you would like.  The ingredients you choose need to be sliced very thin.

Let me tell you about rice paper in case it causes you anxiety like it did for me.  The rice paper may be kept in the produce section of your grocery stores by wonton wrappers and other specialty ingredients.  Each sheet is very thin and somewhat brittle.  To soften the rice paper, all you need to do is put some hot (not warm) water in a large shallow bowl and place one sheet of rice paper at a time into the bowl until it is soft and pliable (just a few seconds).

Once the paper is pliable lay it out on your work surface (I used a plastic cutting board).  Now let’s think of the rice paper as a clock face.  Line up your thinly sliced vegetables and protein at 6:00.  Then sprinkle your herbs around the rest of the clock.

Now for the folds.  First, fold 3:00 and 9:00 sides of the rice paper in toward each other.

Next, begin folding at 6:00 and roll up to meet 12:00.

That’s it!  Wasn’t that easy sweet teeth??  Now for a super simple and delish dipping sauce, mix soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and sriracha (or garlic chili paste).

Ok, so now you have a fabulous appetizer.  May I suggest this Shrimp Pad Thai for your entrée? (recipe from Bake Your Day)  It is the best Pad Thai I have made at home.  (In the photo below, I did not have rice noodles on hand, so I used whole wheat spaghetti which works great too.  And I prefer to double the sauce in the recipe).

 Get the Pad Thai recipe here

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I hope you have noticed by now that I like to use recipes as guides rather that follow them step by step.  For me, this makes cooking so much more fun and creative.  I like versatile dishes that I can put my own spin on.  When I found this recipe for Red and Green Pesto, I was immediately intrigued.  I love traditional basil pesto, but I also like to try pesto variations.  For me, the spicier the food, the better, so I was excited to see that this pesto had red chile peppers in it.  However, for those of you who don’t like the heat, don’t worry, to my dismay the peppers really did not add spice at all, just a wonderful roasted pepper flavor.  The red chile peppers with the parsley in the pesto really make for a beautiful, colorful pasta dish.  You could add any vegetables you would like and also your protein of choice whether that be tofu, chicken or shrimp.

 

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 (Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)

*TIP*  When roasting peppers, it can be somewhat difficult to remove the skins after they are roasted.  To make this task easier, I like to wrap my peppers in a damp paper towel immediately after they are done roasting while they are still hot.  This creates steam and allows the skins from the peppers to be removed much more easily.


Go ahead, slurp it up like a 5-year-old.  No one is watching :)!

 

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I know I was just saying how hot it is outside, and how could I want warm spicy curry on a hot summer day, right?  Well, I am very thankful for air conditioning and after several hours of cooling off, and some inspiration from blog surfing, I decided that curry was going to be the dinner entrée of the evening.

Often when I make curries, I find that they are too one-note and the flavors are just not as complex as the curries I enjoy when I am at a Thai restaurant for example.  But this time it was different.  This combination was the perfect expression of sweet, spicy, sour and salty.  No one-note curry this time and I could have eaten plate after plate of it!

Also, this was my first time cooking with coconut oil which I loved.  I can’t wait to try baking with it.

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(Recipe inspired by Family Fresh Cooking)

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