First of all, I’d like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! That, and lots and lots of cupcakes! I thank you all for taking the time to stop by and visit from time to time. I may not articulate it enough, but your continued support, feedback and friendship over these past five years means the world to me. We’ve been through a lot together, and I appreciate you, dear Readers. I truly do.
As I prepare to say goodbye to 2012, I must admit I’m a little ambivalent. In some ways it was one of the worst years  I can remember. In others, It was one of the best . When I think back to those dark days after Mini SGCC’s accident and her struggle to recovery, I cringe. It was a long, scary road. But, she made it! And when I relive her graduation day, six months later, as she walked down the aisle to accept her diploma – I beam with pride.
Our little family has seen some big changes in the past twelve months. Mini SGCC has gone off to college , and Mr. SGCC and I are now empty-nesters. When we said our goodbyes last August outside of her tiny cozy little dorm room, I cried. I cried through the whole three and a half hour drive home too. And also for a solid week after that. In fact, I’m crying now just thinking about it! For eighteen years, Mini SGCC was my raison d’etre. She is my sun, my moon and my stars. For the longest time I didn’t know what to do with myself without her. But, I’m figuring it out.
Blogging became very different for me as well. With just Mr. SGCC and me at home, there didn’t seem to be much reason to cook or bake the way I used to. Not that Mini SGCC ever ate that much, because she actually eats like a bird. But before, there were always poor, hungry teenagers sniffing around, ready to pounce as I took a freshly baked pan of brownies out of the oven. I suppose that now, they’re sniffing someone else’s brownies. Spending all that time in the kitchen just kind of seemed like a waste for just the two of us. And, with a brand new Trader Joe’s practically across the street, it was oh, so easy to let them do my menu planning. So, I got complacent, uninspired…and a little lazy. Truth be told, 2012 plumb exhausted me – both physically and mentally.
But, that was last year. This year is going to be different, and I’m raring to go! That’s the great thing about a bright, shiny, new year. You can leave the past behind, regroup and start fresh. So, watch out, people! I’m revving up my Kitchenaid, sharpening my knives and looking forward to sharing lots of great food with you in 2013!
In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of my favorite recipes from the past year. Enjoy!
There’s nothing fancy about this Cauliflower Soup , but there is brilliance in its simplicity. With only five ingredients, none of which are butter or cream, it is smooth and velvety with a bright, fresh and pure cauliflower flavor.
When the thermometer tells me that it’s muy caliente outside, sipping on this zesty Bloody Mary Gazpacho  helps me stay as cool as a cucumber!. Chock full of fresh, ripe tomatoes and veggies, this soup is like a spicy liquid salad in a bowl!
This Super Luscious Homemade Ricotta  one of the easiest, yet most versatile recipes in my culinary arsenal. I use it in everything from pasta to pastries to a simple spread for toast or muffins. It’s rich and creamy and infinitely better than anything that comes out of a plastic tub!
Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms  are the perfect little self-contained, bite-sized, party food package. Infused with Marsala wine and three different kinds of cheese, these gems will make any guest happy!
I thought I loved the Swedish meatballs from IKEA, until I tried this recipe from Marcus Samuelsson. Let me just come right out and say it. His Swedish Meatballs  are the bomb! IKEA had better watch out. I’m just sayin’. Chef Samuelsson says the recipe is his grandmother’s, and in this case Grandma definitely knows best!
I’d wanted to try my hand at making David Chang’s legendary Steamed Pork Buns  for ages, but I was too intimidated by the lengthy recipe. When a gorgeous slab of pork belly found its way into my hands,I ran out of excuses. And, when I finally made those delectable pork buns, I wondered why the heck I waited so long!
These meltingly soft, falling-off-the-bone tender Osso Bucco-Style Braised Short Ribs  are the stuff dreams are made of. They have been known to bring grown men to their knees. In fact, I’m still scraping Mr. SGCC off of the floor!
These white and dark chocolate Pots de Crème  are a silky, luxurious and almost sinful indulgence. Made with just a few basic, high quality ingredients, they are a testament to the adage that less is more.
Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups  are chocolate-covered culinary crack – plain and simple. You MUST make them. That. Is. All.
If you thought that your well-used, trusty old cast iron skillet was only good for frying bacon and eggs – think again! This insanely good Skillet Caramel Apple Pie  is proof that a cast iron skillet also makes a great baking pan for pies, cakes and other sweet treats. The crust is flaky and buttery, and the filling is soft and melty – just like a great apple pie should be.