New Years Eve is without a doubt a time for celebration. A time to celebrate all the good that has happened over the year, and a time to celebrate the fact that although bad things may have happened, we all came out the other side and live to tell the tale!
2012 has been one hell of a year, not just for me personally, but for the country as a whole.
I graduated the University of Nottingham with a 2.1 in Law; I received a training contract offer from a top City law firm; and started law school. We also saw the Olympics and the Queens Jubilee which meant that there was always a reason to get friends and family round to have a party.
Some people have suggested that it may be hard to top 2012 as it was such a momentous year but I know I am certainly going to try as I will be moving in with Jon at last!
But, before we look to what 2013 may or may not have to offer, I think it’s time to share with you the top 12 recipes from 2012.
I am very proud that the most popular recipe of 2012 was my Chocolate Bread with Home-made Chocolate Spread. It was one of those recipes that really develops right before your eyes as you cook it, and you have absolutely no idea how it will turn out. (No, it wasn’t an accident...)
With a romantic weekend with my boyfriend on the cards I wanted to come up with something truly decadent and this recipe really hits the spot.
Number 2: Oreo “cookies and cream” Cupcakes
Although this year has been about eating healthy as much as it has been about celebrating, I would be lying if I didn’t say that baking was a huge part of my life. My cooking story begins aged 7 cooking fairy cakes with my Gran and Mum every Sunday. By 10 years old I had memorised the recipe and no longer needed any help (except perhaps with getting the trays in and out of the hot oven!)
Ever since, I have been famous for my cupcakes and have tried coming up with new and exciting flavour combinations and ways of decorating them.
It seems that in every possible way England does what America has already done just a year or so down the line, and these Oreo Cupcakes are no different. After taking the American blog world by storm I thought I would give them a go, and they didn’t disappoint.
Number 3: Sweet and Spicy Pork Stir Fry
From a young age, I have been fascinated with Chinese culture and more importantly their food. Although we have no oriental roots in our family, my Dad cooks an amazing Chinese feast and we have always celebrated Chinese New Year in style!
This year also saw a few firsts for me in terms of Chinese cuisine as I finally visited a Dim Sum restaurant in Nottingham and had my first taste of delicacies such as Chickens Feet.
In between visiting various Chinese restaurants, I found time to cook up my own Chinese inspired recipes including Sesame Chicken and Steamed Prawn Wontons, but your favourite of my creations was my Sweet and Spicy Pork Stir Fry.
This stir fry is as quick and simple as you would expect, but jam packed full of fresh and vibrant flavours. Once you have tried this recipe you won’t be tempted to reach for the local take away menu again.
Number 4: Gourmet Tuna Pasta Bake
My regular readers will know that this blog started off as a distraction at university. I have always loved cooking, but as I moved into my first real house and had a kitchen practically all to myself (the 5 other girls I lived with preferred the prick and ping method of cooking...) my love for all things food EXPLODED. And so the blog was born.
It will come as no surprise then that in the top 5 this year is my Gourmet Tuna Pasta Bake, a recipe that I developed in my final year of university. It has all the simplicity of a student’s favourite meal, but with the addition of a few more fancy ingredients creates a dish that will be loved by people of all ages and wages!
Number 5: Mincemeat
Quite simply, at Christmas I am in my element! The popularity of this home-made mincemeat proves just that. Posted earlier this month its popularity has astounded me and I have had many wonderful comments from readers as well as friends and family who have all tried the recipe.
At the beginning of next year, you can expect a recipe or two which use the mincemeat in a new and interesting way.
Number 6: Japanese Chicken Noodle Soup
Unfortunately for me, 2012 didn’t get off to the greatest start in terms of my health. I was plagued by cold after cold and although I was fortunate enough that none of them developed into anything worse (stay away flu!) it did mean that revising for my exams was that little bit harder!
But, every cloud has a silver lining, and after rummaging around in the picnic basket full of goodies that I was given for Christmas, I stumbled across some Japanese noodles and whipped up a huge pan of Japanese Chicken Noodle Soup! I don’t know what I would have done over the first few months of the year without this recipe. The soup is warming, fresh, and comforting, exactly what you need when you’re feeling under the weather.
Do we ever REALLY need an excuse to bake a cake? For me, the real reason for baking this cake was to try and replicate an amazing cake I had tasted at my favourite tea house in Nottingham.
(Rosie Lee you are missed dearly!)
Those of you who have visited the tea house in question will probably notice a difference or two, but I was really pleased with the way this cake came out. The flavour combinations were so delicate and the floral tones made this the perfect Spring/Summer celebration cake.
For anyone looking to experiment with spices in their baking I think this recipe is a great place to start!
Number 8: Baked Pasta Florentine
My recipe for baked pasta Florentine was only posted on the blog this month, but it has been so popular it has rocketed on to my top 10 recipes of ALL TIME!
It really is a fabulous dish so its position is truly justified. With fresh greens, carbohydrates, fats and plenty of protein, it’s a well balanced plate of food that is full of flavour!
The novelty of the egg on top is also a fun way to impress your guests, or to keep the family entertained.
Number 9: Bakewell Muffins
When the idea for a bakewell tart in muffin form came to me, I knew it was going to be something special!
I had never baked cake with ground almonds before but had heard so much about the rich flavour it gave and how it kept the cakes super moist so it seemed like an exciting new challenge.
With almonds, you have to have cherries and icing (all three ingredients even find themselves in Christmas cake...they’re a match made in heaven) and so the Bakewell Muffin was born!
These muffins will be loved for adults and children alike.
Number 10: Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Sometimes the best recipes are the most undemanding
Chocolate chip shortbread is a simple and versatile recipe that can be made for any occasion, whether you are having friends round for a cup of tea, or entertaining at Christmas. It’s also a great recipe to use to introduce children to cooking.
Number 11: Turkey and Sweet Potato Pie
This year eating a healthy and balanced diet has become increasingly important to me. With my final year at university coming to an end, I didn’t want to step out into the big bad world with a tired and unhealthy body, and a million and one bad habits. So the blog took a slight turn as I attempted to come up with more health conscious dinners.
This Turkey and Sweet Potato Pie was one of my favourite dishes of 2012 as it helped me discover the joys of super lean turkey mince! Turkey mince is an incredibly versatile meat and is great for anyone who wants to trim down. Combined with the sweet and soft sweet potato toping, this dish feels oh so naughty, yet oh so nice!
More often than not, the motivation behind my developing a new recipe is that I am bored... For the first part of this year I was limited by my student bank account, and for the second half, I was limited by the simple fact that I don’t control what food goes into our shopping trolley. As a result, week on week I find the same old ingredients lurking in the back of the fridge and I get bored! It’s not a crime is it?
So, one day when yet again a pack of chicken breasts was staring at me from the depths of the fridge, I grabbed a ball of mozzarella, raided the veg drawer and tried to come up with something new! The recipe didn’t disappoint and is often requested by the rest of the family mid-week!
I wonder how long it will take me to get bored of this? If ever!
We may not know what 2013 has in store, maybe there won’t be as many big reasons to celebrate like the Jubilee or the Olympics, but I’m confident that with all the happiness that 2012 has brought over the next year we will be more able to find the good and the reason to celebrate in the little things over the coming year.
This is my last post of 2012 so let me wish you all a very happy New Year!