The 10 Best Things I Cooked In 2013

Taking a cue from The Amateur Gourmet, I thought I would do a year-end roundup of the best things I cooked this year.. Without having the motivation to go back and count, I think I developed, tested and photographed almost 200 recipes this year! Insanity. So. much. cooking. So much fun. Living the dream. No, seriously.

It took me much longer to narrow this list down than it did to actually write this post. It’s like choosing your favorite child, if you had two hundred and fifty children. Here’s a list of my coolest, most well-behaved children. Most of them are pretty low maintenance. And they’re all totally awesome.

Click the names of the dishes to go to the recipes. And if you get to the recipe, and the formatting is still a bit funky, I apologize – I’m still getting things re-aligned after my Blogger-to-Wordpress transfer.

1. Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Pickle Coleslaw

The Best Sandwich You'll Ever Eat - Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Pickle Coleslaw!! |

These sandwiches. Words….cannot….OMG. I can’t decide what was the best part. The buttermilk fried chicken that stayed perfectly moist? The homemade bread-and-butter pickles? The crunchy coleslaw made with the juice from the homemade pickles? The spicy-garlicky mayo? All of it. It all worked in complete harmony. Perfection.

2. Spicy Coconut Risotto with Lime Shrimp

Spicy Coconut Risotto with Lime Shrimp - If you love Pad Thai, you'll love this risotto! |

The risotto that turned out to be much more beautiful than I ever imagined. And the risotto that somehow freakishly ended up tasting exactly like pad thai. Sweet, spicy, nutty, herby, limey and shrimpy.

3. Curried Pork Sliders with Peanut Sauce & Apple Slaw

Curried Pork Sliders with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Apple Slaw |

Behold! The recipe that lived as an idea in the notes feature of my iPhone for years. It became a reality this year, and it was glorious. Pork tenderloin rubbed with curry powder and grilled (but could be roasted in the oven, too!). Topped with a slaw made with shredded green apple, bean sprouts and creamy Greek yogurt. And the substance that ties it all together? A spicy peanut peanut-ginger sauce. So glad these don’t just live in my iPhone anymore.

4. Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Pizza

The easiest way to eat a vegetarian meal? PIZZA! Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Pizza. |

Looking for a way to trick your family into eating a vegetarian meal? Pizza is the way to do it. And who can resist roasted garlic? It’s pretty much liquid gold, AmIRight?

5. Sweet ‘N Spicy Black Bean Dip

Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Dip with Plantain Chips - creamy mashed black beans topped with queso fresco and juicy pineapple | foxeslovelemons.comWhat’s the difference between a dish that is pretty good and a dish that makes you never want to stop eating it? In my opinion, the difference is a masterful combination of the 5 basics tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. I put those elements to work in this dip, made with black beans and Mexican spices, topped with pineapple (sweet & sour), queso fresco (salty & umami) and a drizzle of sriracha (spicy).

6. Asian Noodle Salad Jars

Asian Noodle Salad Jars - a portable, colorful and healthful lunch! | foxeslovelemons.comCan I tell you guys how much I loved these salad jars? I was so glad the recipe made four salads, because I totally ate these for lunch all week and never got tired of them! It’s something different from the typical lunchtime salad. All of the veggies stay nice and crunchy since the salad dressing is contained in the bottom of the jar. Give these a try if you want quick, portable lunches for almost a full work week!

7. Lightened-Up Buffalo Chicken Dip

Lightened-Up Buffalo Chicken Dip - a full flavor but lower-fat version of the party classic! | foxeslovelemons.comThis dip is as good as the real thing. For real. For real real. I think the key here is that buffalo sauce has such a strong, delicious flavor. It completely masks the fact that this dip is made with Greek yogurt. I’m so confident that it’s as good as the original, that at some point, I plan to have a blind taste test to see if any of my friends can tell the difference. I don’t think they’ll be able to. Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think.

8. Roasted Mexican Street Corn Salad

Roasted Mexican Street Corn Salad - A crunchy and spicy salad with just a bit of creaminess. Can be served warm or cold. | foxeslovelemons.comInspired by corn on the cob sold by street vendors in Mexico, I roasted corn kernels to bring out their sweetness. Then, I added a double dose of spiciness from both diced green chiles and cayenne, but the spiciness is tempered by just a smidge of mayonnaise and sour cream. Cotija or feta cheese work well here to add a bit of saltiness, and make sure you add plenty of lime juice for brightness. Warning: seriously addictive.

9. The Everything English Muffin

The Everything English Muffin: tastes exactly like an everything bagel, with just 1/3 of the calories!! | foxeslovelemons.comNo year-end list would be complete without my most frequently eaten food of the year. My reduced-calorie solution for any everything bagel craving: spread low-fat cream cheese on a toasted english muffin, and sprinkle it with homemade everything bagel seasoning. While a bagel with cream cheese can be about 450 calories, this will run you just 155 (for an english muffin plus a 1/2 ounce of low-fat cream cheese). And it fully satisfies my craving for everything bagels! It tastes exactly the same!

10. Strawberry Pop-Tart Ice Cream

`Strawberry Pop-Tart Ice Cream - Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream swirled with graham cracker crumbs and rainbow sprinkles!!! |

Fresh strawberry ice cream, swirled with graham cracker crumbs and rainbow sprinkles. Every child’s favorite breakfast pastry, transformed into a creamy frozen treat.