Top 12 of 2012

What a year!  Engaged…married…moved to California… Certainly there was no shortage of excitement this year!  And of course it was the year of Pinterest experiments for me.  Recipes, decorations, more recipes… As I take a moment and look back, here are my top 12 recipe pins (in no particular order) of 2012. Enjoy…and give them a try in 2013!

Brazilian Shrimp Soup – This is a hearty and delicious soup with just a few fairly basic ingredients – it’s so easy to make and the leftovers are delicious too!

Enchilada Pasta – Another husband approved recipe – we love mexican food and this has great flavor.

Shredded Beef Tacos – I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but the adobe chilies with the roast beef makes a fantastic taco filling.  Use the peppers sparingly if you don’t like much heat!

Buffalo Chicken Taquitos – yum. You can’t go wrong with buffalo chicken and cream cheese!

Southern Chicken and Corn Chowder – great flavors and the leftovers froze very well.

The Best Broccoli of Your Life – Just one of the many veggies I roasted this year.  A little olive oil, salt, and pepper goes a long ways on veggies in the oven!

Roasted Cauliflower – Like the recipe above, plus a little parmesan.  Sometimes we’d add the balsamic, other times we’d leave it out.  I have to be in the mood for balsamic flavoring.

Honey Beer Bread – Working with yeast scares me, so adding beer is the perfect solution when I want to make homemade bread.  The only cans of beer they sell individually are gigantic, so I made 2 loaves and froze one for later!

Meatball Sub Casserole – Usually I’m not a casserole person (I think it might be a texture issue), but this one totally hit the spot!

Weekend Brunch Casserole – Crescent rolls as the base, with eggs, cheese and sausage – a frequently requested dish from the husband!

Salted Carmel Pretzel Bark – It’s a bit sticky, but the deliciousness makes up for the stickiness!  Enjoyed sharing this with friends as little gifts over Christmas!

Christmas Crack – I really hate that they call yummy recipes “crack” but this is a must try recipe for those of you who love sweet/salty foods! Saltines..toffee…chocolate… Mmm! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

And there you have it…. 12 of our favorites from 2012! Many new cooking experiments, Pinterest adaptations and adventures to come in 2013!

Avoiding Christmas Auto-PIlot Mode

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is coming so quickly! Christmas parties are starting, my shopping is done (though not yet wrapped), the closets have been searched for White Elephant presents and the glow of Christmas lights twinkles in our living room.

Each year the Christmas season comes and goes so quickly – jam packed with full calendars, family, friends and festivities. Do you ever embark upon the Christmas season with good intentions? Good intentions for a less busy, more Christ-centered, enjoyable holiday season? Yet when the calendar turns to December you find yourself back on auto-pilot Christmas survival mode? It doesn’t have to be that way.

Inspired by the book 1000 Gifts, where Ann Voskamp shares her journey of a heart of gratitude and savoring every gift, I consider how to savor the gifts of this Christmas season, hopefully steering clear of auto-pilot mode.

What are you doing this Christmas season to avoid auto-pilot mode?

1. Find an Advent devotional. Be purposeful to daily read and reflect on the preparation so many years ago for the coming King.

2. Take lots of pictures. Find a picture per day challenge and capture a daily photo of something Christmas-y in your world that brightens your day or takes your mind back to the season we’re celebrating.

3. Reflect on memories with friends and families. Than and I have only had one Christmas together, but what fun it is to reflect on the adventures of our 8-stop Christmas roadtrip of 2011 and share memories from our childhood.

4. Remember – write down new memories you’re making so you don’t forget in years to come. Buy a special little journal to write a few things down in each Christmas season and then pack it away with your Christmas decorations for easy storage (that way it won’t be difficult to locate at Christmas next year!)

5. Start a new tradition! Maybe a book to read together as a family or a movie you always watch with a special Christmas drink or treat.

6. Share. Share in the joy of the season with others around you. Share your time…share your resources…share Christmas treats…laughter… And certainly don’t forget to share the Good News which gives us reason to celebrate this season.

The season will be over before you know it – what will you choose to do to savor each moment of this special season of celebration?