I think nearly everyone’s relationship with their kitchen and cooking changed this year. Many, many folks found themselves in the kitchen more than ever. I actually found myself in the kitchen less than I would have hoped. Parenting two kids was never something I was worried about, but I obviously didn’t anticipate a lack of other caregivers or external activities for those kids. Nor did I anticipate trying to teach from home with both of those children at home the majority of the time. Thankfully, daycare has mostly been open since August. Still, I worked far more weekends than I would have liked.
Nevertheless, we still ate 3 meals a day and I discovered some recipes I really loved. This year I leaned into one pot meals, preschooler friendly food and my slow cooker. I also made a lot of Budget Bytes recipes and remembered to take photos.
Kale is one of the most reliably available vegetables from our CSA. I am always on the lookout for new ways to use it that everyone will eat. This kale pesto is super easy to make and very delicious. I omit the pistachios for allergy and cost reasons and I don’t feel that the recipe suffers as a result. This recipe also freezes great.
Generally speaking, I am not a baking mix person. I don’t pre-make pancake, waffle, biscuit or any other mix for future use. But this recipe is all about that – it makes 10 cups of baking mix that can be stored “indefinitely”. We stored our mix in a big mason jar at the back of the fridge. It is a whole grain mix, but I found these pancakes to be much lighter than some recipes and the flavor is great. Using milk resulted in a batter that was too thin; buttermilk or yogurt resulted in a successful batter.
This recipe hits the comfort food sweet spot and it is pretty simple to create. I use my 10-inch stainless steel skillet to make it and it all the ingredients fit just fine. Every time I’ve made this pot pie skillet I’ve used a different blend of frozen vegetables and they’ve all been great. I always feel like the amount of “filling” (sauce and vegetables) is a little low relative to the biscuits, but its all so delicious that I keep making it anyway.
For something so simple, this dish is so satisfying. I used egg noodles, peas and shredded carrots for my version and would do it again. Only half a pound of ground beef is needed, which is a nice bonus. These Beef Stir Fry Noodles were a hit with everyone in my household.
Sausage Cassoulet – Dinner for Everyone by Mark Bittman [affiliate link]
I didn’t do much cookbook cooking this year, but my sister bought me Dinner for Everyone for my birthday and I’ve made several recipes from it. The book contains an easy, a vegan and an “all out” version of each recipe. The Sausage Cassoulet is the easy cassoulet recipe and involves cooking sliced sausage with onion, garlic, white beans and tomatoes in a thick stew. The stew is topped with bite-sized pieces of bread and the whole thing is put under the broiler. The result is hearty, warm, rich dish.
As noted above, I was really intentional about using my slow cooker this fall, partially for the novelty and partially to make dinner prep easier. This is the only new recipe I tried that made my 2020 Favorites. Generally, I find slow cooker recipes that require anything besides throwing everything in the slow cooker to defeat the point of slow cooking, but I followed the instructions and seared the chicken before putting it in my Crock-Pot. It was totally worth it and gave the chicken additional complexity.
This is another chicken tikka recipe, but it is very different from the Budget Bytes one above. This Smitten Kitchen recipe is a sheet pan bake of yogurt and spice marinated chicken, cauliflower and potatoes that’s designed for weeknights. The chicken comes out so juicy and flavorful and every time I make it I promise myself next time I’ll make extra chicken. I’ve had good results with just roasting potatoes when I didn’t have cauliflower and I imagine other vegetables would work as well.
This recipe wins the title of “most baked” recipe of 2020. I didn’t count the number of times I made Cassie’s banana bread this year, but it was probably at least a dozen. This is a fantastic recipe for making with kids as it doesn’t require any special equipment and is hand mixed. I make the recipe with vegetable oil (instead of coconut), a mix of white and wheat flours, no nuts, and a handful of chocolate chips.
You may also enjoy My Favorite Recipes of 2019.