Happy New Year’s!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year’s Eve celebration!  Today is the day for recuperation, reflection, and new beginnings.

I know it’s cliche and trite, but I can hardly believe that it is 2012 already.  A year ago today I was feeling a smidgen under the weather (completely unrelated to any activities from the night before) and cooking up a Polish dinner to celebrate the New Year.  I was a college student who had no idea what direction my life was headed..  Now, just a year later, I’ve graduated college and have a life plan (hooray for more school!).   But, I am still in the kitchen cooking up some wonderful Polish food again.

2011 has had it’s ups and downs, but I am happy to say that I like where I am now.  2012 will hopefully be another good year.  I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions, but this year I plan to keep on cooking and expand my tastes and skills.  Also maybe work in some exercise and a new hobby.

To celebrate the passing year, I am sharing a list of my 10 favorite dishes from 2011.  It was great just to look back and see how much I actually accomplished in the kitchen.  Just a few months ago I would not have thought I’d be making what I do now.  I’ve had my share of culinary disasters this year (for example, just a week ago I made a horribly salty and sour garlic soup), but 2011 has been a great year for food!

2011 Favorites
Perfecting the art of Chinese take out at home feels great.  Much healthier (when you feel like being good), and I can cook the food exactly how I want it.
I had to include some form of pizza on this list- it has become a new food group for me.  This summer I perfected the art of homemade pizza and found a favorite pizza crust that is easy to whip up.  I definitely love pizza toppings that aren’t the traditional tomato sauce and cheese, and this pizza definitely delivered (har har).
I had never had Pad Thai before making it myself, but I got assurances from Pad Thai consumers that this tastes better than the restaurant dishes.  And you can use my family’s accidental discovery to make your beef crispy.
I also had to include a dish with apples on this list.  My favorite fruit is paired with sweet onions and juicy and crispy chicken breast.  So easy for a weeknight dinner.
These turkey wraps were posted at the very beginning of my blog, and I didn’t say much about them at the time- but they are so good!  Flavorful, healthy, and made in less than 30 minutes.
Soup seems like an intimidating dish to make sometimes, but it really easy. This soup is by far my favorite potato soup (and I love me some potato soup).
Cabbage is an under appreciated vegetable.  This healthy dish combines pasta with cabbage and other eastern European flavors.  And you top it off with cheese- so it has to be good.
This recipe is really two in one: creamy cheesecake and dense fudgey brownies.  Cue salivation.
This dinner is not only a favorite of mine but also the rest of my family.  We have made it many times and love it every time we do.  We may or may not have turned on our oven during a blistering summer to have this for dinner.

And now, my favorite recipe for 2011.  Drum roll, please….

Crème Brûleé is a decadent dessert that I thought was only to be had out at restaurants. So wrong. This is a lower fat and lower calorie version of the dish, and I think it actually tastes better than any version I have eaten out. I have made this several times, and I savor each creamy bite. Plus, hardened sugar- you can’t go wrong with that.

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