Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013: your favorite recipes and mine

A round up of The Ninj's most popular recipes of 2013 and some that deserve a second look.

Yankee Kitchen Ninja most popular recipes of 2013

Yowza -- 2013 was a big year here on the blog, wasn't it?

In honor of the year's end and all the yummy recipes we've cooked together, I've created a year-end wrap-up of your 10 favorite recipes (as indicated by total page views), as well as my 10 favorites that I think you might want to give a second look.

As I mentioned last year, cooking these recipes and writing these posts is a bit like being a parent: you insist you love each one equally but, really, in the deep honesty of your heart, you have favorites.

Yankee Kitchen Ninja favorite recipes of 2013

Did any of your personal faves make it onto these two lists? And what do you want to see more or less of in 2014? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Top 10 Most Popular Recipes of 2013
  1. Black Bean Chocolate Cookies
  2. Homemade Nutella
  3. Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal
  4. Oat and Yogurt Breakfast Bars
  5. White Bean Burgers
  6. Cherry-Apricot Quinoa Breakfast Cookies
  7. Fruit Leather
  8. Guinness Beef/Venison Stew
  9. Watermelon Soda
  10. Maple-Pumpkin Mini Muffins

The Ninj's Top 10 Favorite Recipes of 2013
  1. Port and Cherry Brownies
  2. Chicken and Biscuit Casserole
  3. Homemade Granola
  4. Asian Pork Burgers with Quick Pickled Cucumbers
  5. Vermont Potato Chowdah
  6. Pasta Con Sarde
  7. Roasted Red Pepper Spread
  8. Lightened Clam Chowdah
  9. Carrot Cake Cookies
  10. Banana-Zucchini Muffins

Monday, December 30, 2013

Roasted grape crostini

Enjoy this recipe for roasted grape crostini, an elegant but easy party appetizer.

roasted grape crostini appetizer

I have never been a big New Year's Eve kind of person. Oh sure, I used to try to force myself to stay awake and watch Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve until the ball dropped, but I've even given up that pretense: without Dick, it's not really all that rockin'.

But these roasted grape crostini appetizers might make me change my mind this year. Paired with a lovely glass of champagne, I can think of no better way to ring in 2014.

(I seriously cannot believe that 2013 is nearly over -- can you? Where the heck did this year go?)

And, as is the case with most of The Ninj's favorite recipes, these roasted grape crostini are quick and easy to prepare.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Panettone muffins

Panettone muffins: all the sweet, fruity flavor of traditional panettone in a simple muffin -- the perfect holiday breakfast.

panettone muffins

Panettone is a Christmas tradition for The Ninj. This fruity Italian sweet bread is delicious and also versatile -- it's great for dessert or with a cup of afternoon tea yet even better as breakfast, plain, slathered with butter or lightly toasted.

(I'm pretty much drooling right now just thinking about it.)

I try to make one brand-new-to-me recipe each year at holiday time; for 2012, it was panettone. It was beautiful and fun to make -- not to mention yummy. This year, for my new-to-me recipe, I decided to try a riff on traditional panettone that's a little bit easier to make and doesn't require any special baking paper:

Panettone muffins.

These really are more muffin than panettone, to be perfectly honest. But if you're a fan of the butter, fruity panettone flavor, you're going to love these muffins.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Eggnog coffee cake

Eggnog coffee cake with a cinnamon-nut swirl and topping is only lightly sweet, making it perfect for breakfast.

eggnog coffee cake

I'm wrapping up eggnog week with a total winner: eggnog coffee cake -- no coffee required.

By now, you've made a batch of easy homemade eggnog and perhaps even turned it into some eggnog cookies. If you haven't yet completely boozed it up and glugged it all down, you can now use it in this moist, delicious coffee cake.

While I like sweet treats and desserts, I prefer my baked goods a little on the less-sweet side (some I even prefer savory). This eggnog coffee cake fits the bill, making it ideal not only for breakfast but also as an afternoon snack or a pretty after-dinner dessert.

(Don't you just love versatility?)

But I'm highly recommending it for breakfast, especially your Christmas morning breakfast, which is rapidly approaching and deserves a pretty, delicious cake.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Eggnog cookies

Enjoy this easy recipe for soft eggnog cookies, made with homemade eggnog.

eggnog cookies

Earlier this week, I showed you how to make your own homemade eggnog. Now, I'm going to show you how to make some awesome eggnog treats with it!

Like these eggnog cookies.

Now, I certainly hope you're not sick of cookies yet. Although I wouldn't blame you if you were: I can't look at Pinterest or my Facebook feed without being overwhelmed with cookie recipes.

But DAYYYUMM -- they all look so good!

Although not all of them look as easy as these eggnog cookies (who the hell wants to work hard to make a cookie??). And easy is something I appreciate, as we get into the home stretch of holiday preparations and, for some us, epic traveling.

Speaking of traveling, these eggnog cookies are not only easy to make, they travel well. Packaged in a tight container, they're perfect for shipping (not too soft to fall apart, yet not too crisp to get broken) -- or, frankly, for snacking on while doing some of that epic traveling.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Homemade eggnog

Make your holiday extra special by making your own homemade eggnog, with or without booze -- it's easy!
make your own homemade eggnog

Welcome to eggnog week! Yes, week. I've got some baking-with-eggnog holiday recipes coming up later this week, but today we're starting with the basics.

Step away from the store-bought carton of eggnog: it's wicked easy to make your own. And yours will not be full of chemicals and gross-ass preservatives. So yay for you.

We love eggnog around Casa de Ninj. With or without booze.

(Can you believe I just said "without booze"? I barely recognize myself after that.)

The boozy version is fun and great but sometimes -- say, when you're baking or when you are 10 years old -- you need a straight-up, non-alcholic version.

There's much back-and-forth debate over cooked versus uncooked eggnog (it has to do with the eggs and the risk of salmonella) -- I'm not going to get into it. Just know that this eggnog recipe is a cooked one, so entirely safe for everyone in the family.

And it really is super easy, which you know if one of my primary recipe criteria.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

White chocolate pretzel chip cookies

White chocolate pretzel chip cookies -- the perfect sweet yet salty cookie.

white chocolate pretzel chip cookies

So remember when I told you last week that Mr. Ninj pronounced my Snack Crack to be his favorite food of all time?

He just changed his mind: now these white chocolate pretzel chip cookies have taken over the number one position.

(Yeah, he's fickle that way when it comes to treats.)

Not that I'm arguing with him, mind you.

We recently got a big container of white chocolate-covered pretzels. I mean a really big container. (Damn you, cute Cub Scout neighbor boy with your sad little fundraising sales pitch.) Now, for some people this might be no big deal. But neither Mr. Ninj nor I has very effective willpower around treats. Scratch that: we have no willpower around treats. Zero. As in, "Well, if one is good, then 25 will be awesome!"

Therefore, I took decisive action. I needed to turn those pretzels into something -- and then proceed to give them away.

As it is the holiday time of the year, the time of cookie swaps and food gifts, I went with cookies.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Port and cherry brownies

Rich and decadent round brownies made with ruby port and tart dried cherries.

rich and decadent port and cherry brownies

I got a recipe for boozy cherry brownies delivered straight to my inbox. Booyah. If that's not fate, I don't know what is.

As a food blogger, I get slammed on a daily basis with press releases and other marketing emails, wanting me to promote/review/check out whatever food-related item or information is being hawked.

Most of it is crap, but every once in a while, there's a diamond in the crap pile. Recently, the diamond was this brownie recipe.

Since the recipe comes directly from Dorie Greenspan, I knew it would be foolproof. And since it's made with port wine, bittersweet chocolate and tangy dried cherries, I knew it would be completely awesome.

And it is.

I love that they are made in muffin tins which makes them not only round (Dorie calls them "broundies") but also cutely personal-sized without the jaggedy cut edges of pan brownies.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Slow cooker bread pudding

Try this overnight slow cooker (crockpot) bread pudding: it makes a delicious and easy breakfast or dessert.

crockpot (slow cooker) bread pudding

Once again, it's time to ROCK YOUR CROCK!

Regular readers know that one of my criteria for favorite recipes is that they are easy to prepare. Which is why I love slow cooker recipes so much: What could be easier than throwing everything in the crockpot and walking away?

However, if you've browsed through Pinterest much, you know that while many crockpot recipes are easy, they are also just plain gross. Gloppy, beige and full of cream-of-whatevs condensed soup: no thanks. That's not how The Ninj rolls. (Don't forget that you can make homemade cream-of-whatevs soup as a substitute!)

Trust me: this bread pudding is not gross.

A fun thing I discovered about crockpot cooking is that you can make a lot more dishes in it that you would think if you essentially turn it into an overnight waterbath: Put a Pyrex dish full of your ingredients inside the crock, surround it with water and let it cook overnight. That's how I make my crockpot apple pie oatmeal, which we eat a lot of around Casa de Ninj.

That is also how I made this bread pudding. I figured if the waterbath worked for the oatmeal, why not for bread pudding?

Ehrmergahd, peeps, this is such an amazing breakfast treat. Sure, you can serve it as dessert, but it seems so much more decadent to eat it for breakfast.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turkey tetrazzini

Use holiday leftovers in this creamy turkey tetrazzini, comfort-food pasta made with homemade, DIY condensed soup.

turkey tetrazzini with homemade condensed soup

This recipe for turkey tetrazzini is a first for me: It's one I'm posting at the request of my readers.

Before Thanksgiving, we were having a discussion on my Facebook page about our favorite Thanksgiving leftovers. You know, the ones that you look forward almost a bit more than the turkey feast itself? For me, it's a tie between all-the-trimmings turkey sandwiches and turkey tetrazzini.

Apparently turkey tetrazzini is a favorite among my readers as well, as many of them asked me to share my recipe.

So here it is -- but with a ninja twist: NO CONDENSED SOUP!

Whoot! Yep, you got it -- no condensed soup.

And the extra bonus? Within the recipe you make your own homemade version of condensed crream of chicken soup, which you can use for any other recipe that calls for canned cream-of-whatevs soup.

Perfect: This means that you, like I, can now stop ignoring 80 percent of the crockpot recipes on Pinterest!