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Monday, November 1, 2010

One Year In

Turkey Feta Meatloaf
Exactly one year ago today, I started my blog.  It's been quite a year and I am amazed by how much I have learned.  I think back to how Ron and I used to eat prior to starting my blog.  I rarely cooked and when I did it was a total disaster.  Our big Friday night meals would consist of a bowl of Lucky Charms.  Some nights, when we felt like splurging, we'd eat sandwiches.  We would eat at restaurants often or buy prepared food from the grocery store.  We still do this, but it's not as frequent.  And it is rare that we rely on frozen boxed Lean Cuisines.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I was inspired to learn how to cook after watching an episode of Chefography.  It featured Bobby Flay and there was a segment in which he talked about his wife and how he cooks for her.  I recall turning to Ron and saying, "Will you please go to culinary school so you can start cooking dinner for me?"  As you can imagine, it did not go over well.  After realizing my comment was completely irrational, I decided that perhaps I should be the one who learned how to cook considering it was I who was interested in eating healthy and new foods.
Tomato Israeli Couscous Salad with Whole Wheat Sunflower Quick Bread

So, here we are.  We don't exactly eat fine dining, but we do eat well, in our standards.  I still don't know how to prepare some things, but I'm / it's a work in progress.  I initially started this blog because I wanted to learn how to cook, track the recipes that I was making, and mark things that were worth making again.  There have been a number of kitchen failures, but overall meals have been relatively successful.  I'm much more confident in the kitchen now than when I started.  And, it shows.  It's easy for me to look at my pantry and come up with a quick meal.  One year ago, I couldn't even cook spaghetti, so I'd say my project was a success.  I've decided to go through my blog and pick one favorite recipe from each month.  But, I couldn't really just pick one so there are a few for some months.  Since starting the blog, it's rare that I make a dinner more than once (this is a learning to cook blog... not a learning to cook the same things over and over blog).  However, there have been a number of things that I crave, and Ron asks for often.  If you haven't made any of the recipes on my blog to date, I'd highly suggest checking out the ones I post below.  Sorry if it is an overwhelming list, but I was reminded about how good some of this stuff was!
Pepper and Smoked Sausage Sandwich
  • November 2009:  This soup is such a simple soup.  I think it's called Pasta Fagioli because of the beans, but I should probably give it a new name after my most recent Pasta Fagioli.  I make this soup ALL the time.  It is so good and I absolutely LOVE the white pepper.  It is an ingredient I would highly recommend because I do not think the soup with taste the same without it.
  • December 2009:  I've basically never met a cookie that I don't like.  Cookies are just... good.  They are comforting and delicious.  These s'mores cookies turned out absolutely wonderful.
  • January 2010:  This lasagna was awesome.  It was hearty, it was healthy, and I totally forgot about it up until now!  Don't let that sway you... I just asked Ron if he remembered it and he said, "Yes, make that."  It's been added to the weekly menu, folks.  Add it to yours too!'
  • February 2010:  I stepped up my game in February, so I am going to cheat and post a bunch!  There were a ton of recipes that I loved.  But, my absolute favorite, and one you should definitely try, is this turkey feta meatloaf.  This dish has been made multiple times in my kitchen since finding the recipe.  It's a healthy, incredibly entree.
  • March 2010:  The best salmon recipe I've ever had was also the first time I was introduced to dill.  I use dill ALL the time now thanks to this sweet and tangy salmon recipe.
  • April 2010:  This was a good month for chicken recipes!  Chicken is a main staple ingredient in this house.  It's so easy to prepare and is such a versatile meat.  This roasted chicken was my favorite chicken meal that I've ever served.  
  • May 2010:  Soft pretzels!  So, so, SO good.  Ron requests these often.  Then, we slice them open and use them for ham and cheese sandwiches.  BUT, they are good just alone (or with mustard, as I prefer).
  • June 2010:  This is, hands down, the best couscous recipe I have ever made.  I LOVED this.  It was so, so good and it would be great for any lunch, dinner, or side dish at a BBQ.  
  • July 2010:  These crab cakes were amaze-balls.  Do not fear that this "healthified" version will take away flavor, because it doesn't.  Ron loved them.  My sister-in-law coined them the "best crabcakes ever."  My parents enjoyed them (and mom doesn't even like "fishy things") and even cooked them for my sister, who enjoyed them.  So, I highly suggest making them, so you can enjoy them too!
  • August 2010:  Hands down, the BEST pizza meal we've ever had.  Pizza pot pies!  Absolutely worth investing in some ramekins for these babies.
  • September 2010:  I love indian food, so I was very happy with how this recipe for chana masala turned out.  It totally satisfied by indian food craving!
  • October 2010:  Um, the absolute best recipe that came from my October archive was obviously my Harry Potter themed treat.  But, I'd also give high marks to the pasta fagioli I made a few weeks ago that made me crave leftovers even before I finished my dinner!


  1. This is a really touching blog post, Ashley! Thank you for all the work you put into this. I can only imagine how much time is spent on every posting. All I know is that I LOVE your blog!!! I really, really, really look forward to making some of these recipes! :)

  2. Thanks, Colette! It was a lot of fun to go back through the recipes and see what I've made. I've forgotten so many of them. Thank you for reading :)