Happy New Year!

Greetings, 2017! It’s good to see you.

Things have been quiet around the blog lately, which explains why my post count is down from the previous year (38 instead of 41, whoops). The year started strong, but when life picks up, my time for writing and taking pictures gets pushed aside.

While I may not have written as much as I’d hoped to last year, I did a halfway decent job of cooking more things from my cookbooks and magazines. In fact, my copy of Cook it in Cast Iron has an almost-permanent spot on the kitchen counter.

I finally got around to sharing some of our very favorite things. The more we like something, the harder it is to get a picture of it!

I was a little disappointed that the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap didn’t happen this year. Maybe that will change in 2017.

Here’s a few observations from 2016:

  1. We like ice cream. Lots of ice cream.


  2. Pork roast is my new go-to.
  3. We still like our veggies (even if they come with hitchhikers).


  4. Chocolate cake is the best. ChocolateChocolateCake


    I’m hoping that 2017 will be the year of bread in my kitchen. Thanks to some not-so-subtle hints (AKA a Christmas list to some wonderful friends), I’m now the proud owner of Bread Illustrated. Plus, my awesome friend Karen gifted me everything I’d need to get going with sourdough. (That’s my late January project. I’m traveling a bunch this month, and since sourdough is essentially a pet, I didn’t want to stick Andy with the hassle of feeding and tending a jar of starter.) Of course, all of these extra carbs mean that I should probably spend a little more time on the bike trainer this winter. Details. 😉

Here’s to another year of adventures, both in and out of the kitchen!

Hello, 2016!

So, I’m five days late with this 2015 recap. And while that’s two days later than last year’s recap (talk about starting things off on the wrong foot), it’s also two days earlier than when I posted my 2014 recap. As long as we’re not halfway to February, I’m going to call it good.

If you only look at the numbers, things weren’t so hot here at the Blue Plate Special. I only published 41 posts (down from a whopping 42 the year before), which mean that my 2015 goal of “writing more” was clearly not a success. Since I’m not really a numbers girl, let’s focus on what I DID accomplish over the last 365 (or so) days.

I bought a popsicle mold and jumped headfirst into the world of frozen food on a stick.


Apparently, I only wrote about one of those adventures. Hmm. I  promise that I made a lot of popsicles though.

We did a fairly good job of eating our veggies again, thanks to the good people at Olden Produce Farms. I also had my first-ever guest blog post from my awesome friend, Bethany. 🙂

No-Knead Bacon Bread

I tried (and succeeded) at “legit” homemade bread in my Dutch oven. I definitely need (knead, haha) to make more of this.

I also participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap for the third year. I have more fun each year, and I am already looking forward to next year’s swap. (Not that I am ready to wish 2016 away or anything!)

Food-wise, I started the new year with some great successes! (Of course, I was so busy having fun with my friends that I didn’t photograph any of the items… which means I should probably make these things again.)

For New Year’s Eve, I made Bailey’s truffles and Parmesan crackers, which I served with some baked brie.


I broke out a favorite for New Year’s brunch. Feta cheese, bacon and potatoes for the win!

Garlic Parm Mashed Potatoes

The biggest excitement though, was the Cook’s Illustrated-inspired meal that I made last Saturday night. I tried the Tuscan-style roast pork from the latest issue, and I also made the garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes of 2014 fame. OH.MY.GOODNESS. We shared that dinner with Andy and Bethany, and the four of us could not stop eating. Seriously so good. I should probably write about it at some point, but I will need another long weekend to make the roast pork. (It seriously took half of my afternoon, but that’s not a surprise, right? It is a CI recipe after all.) I also made lemon pudding cakes for dessert that night.

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cupcakes

I also received more than 525 cupcake liners/baking cups for Christmas, so it’s safe to say that more muffins and cupcakes are on the horizon.

Strawberry Summer Cake

This was one of my favorite pictures from the past year, and it seems to be the perfect segue to one of my favorite Christmas gifts: mini cast iron skillets!! (Thanks to Karen. Who is nothing short of awesome.) I can’t wait to take pictures of tiny food in adorable skillets! You know, since everything is much cuter in miniature.

Other “goals” on my 2016 to-do list include trying new recipes from more of my magazines and writing “more” (whatever that looks like). We’re looking forward to another season of produce in our CSA, and I can’t wait until the garlic starts popping through the ground this spring. Who knows, maybe this will be the year that we finally start composting. Here’s to another year of adventures!

Hello, 2015!

Happy New Year, everyone!! I hope you had a Merry Christmas and that 2015 is treating you well so far. Between the holidays and our bathroom remodel, things have been crazy busy here (which explains why I fell off the blogging bandwagon last month), so we’ve spent most of our long weekend relaxing.

According to WordPress, I actually wrote less in 2014 than I did in 2013, which was NOT my goal, so this recap is going to be shorter than I’d like. Here’s hoping that I can carve out a little more time for writing this year!

2014 marked another year of participation in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I had a blast (no surprise there) making maple-glazed spiced brown sugar cookies for my three matches, and I had just as much fun receiving my treats from three other bloggers! Totally doing it again this year. 🙂

CSA2014 week 12

It was also another year of CSA goodness from the good people at Olden Produce Farms. They kept us stocked all summer with awesome veggies, which meant lots of fritters, salads and other farm-fresh goodness. Local friends, if you want fresh produce, you should check them out. It’s good stuff.

I made lots of ice cream, especially the ever-popular vanilla bean, but my favorite was the chocolate ice cream. It was out of this world good. Not sure why Andy and the rest of my friends don’t see it.

Chocolate Ice Cream

I also found a new favorite mashed potato recipe. Thank you, Cook’s Illustrated.

Garlic Parm Mashed Potatoes

I’m also including some pictures of recipes that I never got around to sharing (because time just got away from me). I made lemon raspberry ice cream sandwiches for Labor Day, and they were a huge hit. I also made cranberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, mostly so I’d have an excuse to make sugared cranberries, which are pretty much a trifecta of greatness, as far as recipes go. They’re easy and pretty, and they’re delicious. I also went out on a limb and tried this gnocchi tomato salad, and we were both blown away by how much we liked it. Once you pan fry gnocchi, you’re never going back. Seriously. I probably ate 1/4 of the fried gnocchi while I made the rest of the dinner.

Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches



I also took a cake decorating class and finally learned how to make roses! (Although, to be perfectly honest, they’re “cheater” roses, rather than the “official” Wilton rose. Details.) It was a lot of fun, and the only way to improve my skills to keep practicing, so it looks like I’d better make some cake. Whose birthday is next?

Anniversary Cake

I think that’s a pretty good summary of the last 12 months in  my kitchen. As far as 2015 goes, I’d like to try new recipes more often. I subscribe to 3 different food magazines (Cook’s Illustrated, Taste of Home, and Kraft Food & Family, in case you were wondering), and I’d like to try at least one recipe from each issue I receive throughout the year. I’m looking forward to using my Christmas gifts: a Dutch oven (because Andy and Karen are awesome) and an Ethiopian spice, berbere, from my sister-in-law. (Thanks, Kim!!) 

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Happy 2014!

OK, so we’re a week into the new year already, and I am just now getting to this post. Whoops. Poor time management on my part. (I blame Amazon for having all of the seasons of 24 in the instant streaming collection. Jack Bauer is keeping me from my to-do list. Seriously.) 

For me, 2013 was the year of the ice cream. I made at least nine different kinds (and those are just the ones I wrote about) last year. My ice cream making is temporarily on hold at the moment because my freezer is crammed with beef from our 1/4 of a cow. (True story. Our quarter was much bigger than we had anticipated, and I’ve been banned from buying freezer items at the grocery store.) 

This is one of my favorite ice creams – coffee. Mmmm…

We had another season of CSA-sponsored goodness, thanks to the good people at Olden Produce CSA. It’s one of the highlights of my summer.

CSA2013 week 9
Look! Sweet corn! and beets! And pickles… when does summer start again?

I also made quite a bit of cake – everything from cupcakes with sprinkles to torched layer cakes. I lost track of how much butter I used. I wish I’d photographed the cake I made to share with my friend Karen after she had her baby – a blackberry red wine chocolate cake. It was, in my opinion, the best cake I’ve ever made. Moist, rich, full of chocolate and spiked with blackberry wine. In fact, I think that might make a good birthday cake for Andy later on this month.

Vanilla Cupcakes
You may have noticed that I’m a sucker for cute cupcake liners. I added quite a few to my collection this Christmas, so I predict lots of bite-sized goodness this next year.

Speaking of birthday cakes, I finally made homemade monkey bread for Andy’s birthday last year. Definitely more work than cracking open a can of Pillsbury biscuits, but homemade bread dough = better than store-bought, any day of the week.


So, what’s on tap for next year? More birthdays (with cake). More veggies (with our CSA). More evenings spent laughing with good friends and family. Hopefully some of that will translate to more writing here! 🙂

Happy New Year!

Hello 2013! Is it just me, or does it seem like 2012 just flew by? While I didn’t get the chance to cook or bake everything I would have liked to this past year, I’d still call it a success, food-wise. (I’d actually call it a pretty good year outside of food as well, but that’s another story.) 🙂 

Here are a few of my highlights from the last 366 (it was a leap year, after all!) days:


I made a wedding cake!


I also concocted some homemade pasta. Well, I made the filling. And that’s the important part, right?


I sent cookies around country as part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It was definitely one of the highlights of my December. 🙂

CSA #1

I also loved participating in a CSA for the second year. We definitely ate more veggies this past summer, and I can’t wait till it starts up again this year.

So what’s on tap for 2013? More writing and better pictures, hopefully! 🙂

I’d like to try a homemade monkey bread for Andy’s birthday (it’s his favorite, and it kills me to buy the biscuits to make it). I also think I’ve found my birthday cake! There will be at least one baby shower cake this year, and you know that Karen and I will be cooking up some fun birthday cakes for her kiddos. 🙂 (Well, Karen will have the ideas. I just show up with my spatula.) 

Hopefully I’ll actually get around to souffles this year, especially since my sister-in-law gave me super-cute ramekins for Christmas this year. And each January, I think to myself, “I should make more bread.” (See? I will cook things besides dessert. Sometimes.) 

Here’s to some great adventures in 2013!