Best of 2012

This has been an incredible year for my little blog. This time last year, I had my first day with over 100 visitors, and I was thrilled! Since then, I’ve gotten a little better with the camera and in the kitchen, and I have put out a lost of posts and recipes that I am really proud of. I love seeing what posts you guys love most. So here are your favorite recipes of 2012!

10. Gluten-Free Cannoli Bars

9. Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese

8. Salted Chocolate Cookie Butter Cups (vegan)

7. Cookie Butter Brownie Bars

6. Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

5. Skinnified Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

4. Skinnified “Fettuccine” Alfredo (gluten-free)

3. Vanilla Bean Cookie Butter Cup Cupcakes

2. Cake Batter Dip

annnndddd dun duh duh dunnnnnn

1. Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad

I have to say, I was pretty surprised by #1! I mean, I LOVE that recipe, and I literally make it all the time, but for some reason, I didn’t think you guys would love it as much as I do. However, it was the clear winner, and it has inspired an other awesome dish that is sitting in my fridge, and will be coming your way very soon. ;)

I also wanted to share my  favorites from the year. Ummm, that’s hard. I truly do love every recipe I share. If I don’t love it, I’m not going to tell you to make it. That’s silly. But there are definitely some that stand out to me, so in no particular order, here are my 10 favorites. Some of them are repeats because you guys have great taste! ;)

Okay, I fibbed. That was 11, but I just really loved them!

YOUR TURN!! Tell me your favorite recipes of the year–from my blog, your blog, anyone’s blog, ANYWHERE! :) Feel free to leave links to some of yours and hopefully get some love on your favorites!

The Grind

Early last week, I started asked my facebook friends where I should go to dinner after my 20 miler. I mean, clearly food is the most important thing after you run! I wanted to be prepared. ;) I got a lot of great suggestions, but ultimately my friend Nicole won with her suggestion of The Grind. The menu looked awesome and all of the food is coal fired. Not to mention the drink list looked amazing.

Nicole’s drink: The Moscow Mule

My Blackberry Sidecar. Probably my favorite thing I tasted all night. After one, they ran out of blackberry and I was sooooo sad!

For dinner all of us except for Lance ordered the turkey burger. Nicole and I added goat cheese to ours which was an excellent choice. I would add goat cheese to pretty much anything though.

The burger was seasoned well, but it was a fattier turkey than I would have preferred. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like my turkey burgers to be practically white, and at least 90% lean. A lot of restaurants in Phoenix offer some really lean turkey burgers, but this one was definitely a little greasy for my taste. It still tasted good, but not sure it’s something I would order again. Nicole and I also split an order of the half and half fries which were half herb fries and half sweet potato fries.

Honestly, they were pretty disappointing. The herb fries just tasted like regular old french fries, and the sweet potato fries were fine, but not exciting. Not like the sweet potato fries at Fez! They didn’t taste bad, just kinda boring. However, you know what was NOT boring? Umm this AMAZING dessert.

Hot, fresh donuts with a salted butterscotch dipping sauce. I diiiiieeee.

LOOK AT THEM!!! SO MUCH DELICIOUS!!!

Seriously, the drinks and dessert alone were worth the entire experience. Steve’s veggies that we didn’t photograph were also perfectly seasoned and delicious, so maybe I just need to try and order something else for my main course? Either that, or just go for cocktails and dessert, because those are the most important things anyway. ;) Nicole posed with me to remind the world that I ran 20 miles. Good friends take silly pictures with you in public for you to post on your blog.

20 (.5)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That face is so cute, right? Maybe the next cycle of ANTM will be for old people, and I can pursue my amazing modeling skills.

What are your favorite restaurants and your favorite things about them??

 

 

The Grind on Urbanspoon

Nourish

Sunday evening I went out with some of my awesome teammates to celebrate all of our training, and making it all the way to peak week! Well, we didn’t say exactly what it was that we were celebrating other than actually getting to hang out with each other, but those sound like awesome reasons to celebrate to me ;)

Jason, Wanda, Jaime, Tara, Lisa, Stacey, Moi. And after this lovely evening, I will be throwing out that shirt and NEVER wearing it again.

When we were trying to decide what to do/where to go, we all agreed that some awesome healthy food…and of course some wine. ;) Jaime and Tara eat gluten free, so I suggested Nourish. I first tried Nourish a couple of months ago with Nicole and Emily, and LOVED it! They have a menu filled with healthy options to fit every diet–gluten free, vegan, raw, paleo, you name it!

As soon as I mentioned their air fried sweet potatoes, my friends were all on board!

Heaven.

They have a special air frier that bakes the sweet potatoes at a very high temperature without the potatoes ever touching oil or butter! They do place some oil in the oven, and have a fan that they say infuses the “fries” with the flavor of the oil. They are perfectly crisp on the outside, while soft on the inside–so much better than the kind I make at home! It is kind of magical. The table split a bottle of pinot grigio and an order of the sweet potato fries to start.

I ordered the southwestern rice bowl which was ridiculously good! I don’t know how they get their brown rice to be so soft!!

We ended up spending over 2 hours chatting and talking about, well, running! :)

Jaime & Tara

Stacey & Jason

Lisa & my shiny red face

“Ari take a cute picture of me for my blog! And then out me for asking on the internet!” I believe I was successful on both accounts.

Training buddddddies!

What a fantastic night!! I’m so glad we all had the chance to hang out and do something fun with real clothes on, and eat food that isn’t gu!! Also, I haven’t stopped craving the delicious food from Nourish since we left, so I think an other trip very soon is in order!

 

Gingery Beef & Broccoli

I know I’ve already said it, but my best friend Bethany got a new job, and at the company she’s been wanting to work with for a very long time. I’m so happy for her! She works her butt off, and she deserves every bit of it! Of course I show my love by shoving food down people’s throats cooking for people, so along with some super delicious non dairy ice cream, I also made her this delicious dinner.

 

Sometimes cooking for other people, especially for a special occasion, makes me so nervous! You never know if people will like it, and even if you love it, that doesn’t mean they will, and if you’re trying a new recipe, what if it just turns out horrible??? Sometimes, it’s hard to be inside my brain. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not used to crazy ;)

 

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain?? I would LOVE it, just for a day. I always try to understand the thought processes that make other people act/say/feel certain ways. Sometimes, I do not understand people at all.

For instance, the people who feel like their facebook wall is the place for them to post all the rude things they think about other people’s political parties. What exactly are they hoping to accomplish? Even if I agree with them, I still find it SO annoying. I’d like to get inside their head and understand what they believe they’re gaining by this. Also, people who don’t like chocolate. I’d like to understand that too.

Anyway, back to being inside my head which probably looks like an episode of horders. Cooking for people is one of my favorite things, and all of my favorite things make me nervous–acting, singing, dancing, teaching (first days–eeeeek!), races, interacting with other people and trying to resemble some form of social grace…

 

Luckily, this dinner was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe, and still had not a single bite of left overs. That’s how you know. People can say they like things, but unless they go back for seconds and lick their plate, sometimes it’s hard to be certain. It’s just a little spicy, and totally packed with flavor with the ginger, coconut, and flavorful meat and veggies. I hardly ever cook beef, but this cut was pretty lean, and I trimmed the excess fat. I was surprised with how much I liked it because I almost always prefer chicken. I also loved how all of the veggies bulked it up to be super filling without being heavy.

I used this recipe from Paleo Plan that I found via Carrots ‘n’ Cake almost exactly. I added a bit more veggies, halved the oil, then added a little sriracha for some spice. It was one of my favorite things I’ve made in a long time, and I would highly recommend it! Click over to Paleo Plan for the full recipe!

Cheuvront

Friday night I went out with some of my favorite AZ Blogger ladies to Cheuvront for restaurant week.

Arizona restaurant week is one of my very favorite things! When I was growing up, we didn’t have a huge restaurant scene, but ever since I moved back after college, it seems like new, indie restaurants are popping up like crazy! Or maybe I’m just finally starting to get into the scene? Either way, there are lots of amazing options for people who love food in this city, and I (obviously) really, really love food. Each restaurant has a special restaurant week menu with a set price and a few options for each course–you can choose to order off this menu, or stick to the regular menu.

This was my first time at Cheuvront, but I was super excited as soon as I looked at the menu. I had a really tough time making up my mind because everything looked amazing, but the one thing that was easy to decide was the first course. Goat cheese is one of those items I always immediately scan a menu for, and then I usually choose what I order by which options come with it. Obviously, I started with the goat cheese salad.

It was delicious! Fresh greens, the perfect amount of slightly sweet champagne vinaigrette, and of course the star of the plate–the fried goat cheese! For the second course, everything looked good and I had a hard time deciding, but ultimately went with the half roasted chicken because it came with cranberry apple stuffing.

That stuffing!!! I just kept digging underneath the chicken to try to get more of it out. It was probably my favorite thing I ate all night. The chicken was great too–perfectly cooked and tender. I asked the waiter what his favorite dessert option was and he pointed me towards the chocolate bouchon which is a small, lava-like chocolate cake that was served with dulce de leche ice cream.

Okay, maybe this was my favorite thing I ate all night. The chocolate bouchon had a slightly crisp outside, but the entire inside was gooey, like a half baked brownie, and it paired perfectly with the ice cream which was aaaaaamazing.

I absolutely loved Cheuvront, and will definitely be returning! It was also so great to spend time with some of my favorite ladies, and meet a couple of new ones!

Remy, Emily, me, Megan, Robin, Nicole & Jenn

Thanks for an awesome evening ladies!! Can’t wait to do it again soon!