Top 10 Posts From My Kozy Kitchen for 2012

WOW 2012 is gone? It seems like just yesterday it was New Years Eve. How does time fly so fast? There have been so many things that have happened over the last year or so. Some good and some bad. 

We lost my father a little over a year ago and Kevin lost his father this year in September. 

My daughter moved to away from me for the first time and went to live with her father in California.

We moved from the only home I have known here in Washington, and at the same time the rest of our kids moved out on their own as well.

My little fur ball Angel developed SARDS and lost her eyesight.

But those are all things that have shown me the good things as well!!

My father is no longer sick and in pain.

Kevin's father has finally rejoined his one true love that passed away over 25 years before he did.

My daughter is learning a lot about growing up and I am very proud of her.

I learned (I know it's cliche) that home really is where the heart is. A house is just 4 walls.

I also learned that I am not just a daughter, Mom, girlfriend, I am me and it is OK to focus on what I want and need.

The #1 thing I have learned this year is a big one and it is thanks to all of you! I am a pretty OK person and I  have realized that I can make my dreams come true if I put my mind to it!!

You all are the greatest!!!

OK here are the top 10 recipes that you loved in 2012

A Collection of Appetizers to Make Your New Year Happy

Happy New Year to all of you fabulous foodies!! I thought I would take a little bit of time to not only wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year full of love, health, and of course awesome food, but also share with you several recipes for appetizers from my friends all over the blogoverse. A sort of one stop shopping for last minute party planners. Or maybe you will find something you just can't live without! 

Jamaican Saltfish fritters

Avocado Hummus

Avocado Hummus - Creamy avocado, and serrano pepper, come together with chickpeas to make this delicious twist of the classic hummus.From

I was really at a loss when I made this as to what I wanted to call it. It has chick peas in it so it is kind of like a hummus, but it has avocado, Serrano pepper, and cilantro in it so it is kind of like guacamole. Actually when I made it I was craving guacamole for lunch, but knew I needed some protein. I knew I had some chick peas in the pantry so in my mind I just smooshed them together and wound up with a really tasty and healthy lunch.

I really wasn't to sure about how this would come out when I first started. But as I added all of the flavors I asked myself why I hadn't thought of this before. I love chick peas, I used to pile them on my salads when I went to salad bars. And DUH I love guacamole, well actually avocado in just about any form makes my teeter totter.

So if you are looking for a new way to have your guacamole and hummus too, give this a shot. 

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake

This was one of those pantry/fridge clean out recipes. I hadn't made it out to the store and Kevin was too tired to stop on the way home. When he came in the door he said he was starving and asked what was for dinner. I was quick to begin the search through my supplies to see what I could come up with. I have certain things I keep stocked so I always have them on hand. Canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, and whole), pastas, and sausage (in the freezer) are pretty much always on hand. I had some leftover baby spinach from salads a few days before. Plus of course I am never without several different types of cheeses.

After about the third time of Kevin asking was was for dinner I told him to hush, I mean I never let him go hungry right? Sheesh all the pressure! I still think it is funny when he gets nervous about what I am making. He has told me several times that I have never made a bad meal. Where is the faith and the love? I mean come on, really?

After this was all done and put on the table all he could say is "Wow that looks and smells really good" *sigh*thank you! Seriously, I think he just loves making me crazy but I keep telling him it is a quick trip and he doesn't want to push it too far too fast!

Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way

My son loves Ranch dressing. He will literally put it on everything! We used to go through Costco sized bottles in a week at times. 

Well in my quest to try and lighten up recipes, I became very determined to come with up a ranch dressing that was healthier but didn't lose any flavor. I mean we all have a certain way we expect ranch dressing to taste right?

I have been trying for a couple years, but have come up with things that work ok and tasted good but just not "the" ranch dressing. I was beginning to get a little discouraged until I started working with Greek yogurt a lot. I sub it for sour cream most of the time now. I love the fact that I am not only reducing fat and calories but adding protein to whatever I put it in. I decided that was one of my missing ingredients in this recipe. Between that and adding more fresh herbs I nailed it this time! I will never go back to any other dressing!

Oh My Gosh!!! I was voted one of the 2012 Top Food Bloggers!!!

FriendsEat 2012 Best Food Blogger Winners Small FriendsEat 2012 Best Food Blogger Winners

Via: Restaurant Coupons

Quick and Easy Taco Salad

I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven't seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That's us!!

Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn't get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren't big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

Steak with Red Wine, Shallot, and Mustard Sauce

Do you sometimes just get this wild hair to make a gourmet meal for your significant other? I mean, especially with it just being the two of us now, the romantic bug bites me and I want to make a special meal for Kevin. I realize that it means more to me than it does him. I know he loves my cooking but I think I could give him a chili cheese dog and he would be just as happy.

But on this day I was determined to make a special meal. He loves steak so I picked up a flat iron steak from the store. He of course prefers rib-eye but who can afford a rib-eye every time you want to make steaks? Flat iron steaks have become my favorite because they are not that expensive, comparable to flank steak, but much more tender. I mean I have had some flank steak that I had to chew and chew and chew! Have you ever seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? You know the scene where they are sitting at the table trying to chew on the dry turkey? Ya, just like that.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

I have had so many people asking for slow cooker recipes. But with the kids moving out and it just being the two of us here,  my slow cooker has been sadly neglected. As a matter of fact when I went into my pantry to get my slow cooker, I couldn't find it! I hadn't used it since we moved several months ago. I finally found it down on a bottom shelf, all by it's self, lonely and neglected. Poor thing! Right then I vowed to try and do a slow cooker recipe at least once a month. 

Wow I sound like a complete nut job right now don't I? YIKES! Anyway, moving on....

I know I have gone on and one about my love for Mexican food, and the fact that Kevin does not share my affection. So long story short, I love it, he suffers through it for me. End of story. Poor guy had to have it three times this week though. He must really love me!!
I will say that, in my defense, he walked in the door after work and the first words out of his mouth were "What smells so good"....he couldn't argue with me after that. Chalk one up for Mexican food and me!!

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing Mix

TGIF everyone!! I am happy it is Friday, but it also means another week gone until Christmas! This year though it is not as bad as usual. I actually have all of my shopping done, and almost everything wrapped. The kids are going to all be out of town so I am not even having to stress over planning a menu. WOW I don't know what to do with myself!! That is where this blog post came from, looking for something to do. Seriously I have really wanted to do the homemade seasonings for a while. I make my own taco seasoning, I have just never written it down or taken pictures of it. So when I decided to make a dish that included my Italian dressing I grabbed my camera real quick so I wouldn't forget.

I am in no way saying that using the packaged version is bad. It is all a matter of preference. I just like the challenge of making it my own way. Plus if you make it yourself, you can always change things up to suit your tastes.

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing
makes 1 cup of mix

2 tablespoons dried Oregano
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon celery salt

To make the salad dressing combine 2 tablespoons of the dry mix with 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water. Shake to combine and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before using. 

Chipotle Chicken Braid

This meal has been fighting me for a while. A few weeks ago I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was making this dish and several people expressed interest and said they couldn't wait for the blog post and recipe. That night I set about the task of getting this all cooked up and must have lost my brain for a bit during the process because I forgot to add the salsa and the cheese. We just added them on top afterward and it tasted wonderful, but I didn't feel right taking a picture and posting if I didn't make the dish exactly as the recipe I am posting calls for. So I knew I had to make it again, and soon.

A few days later I was talking with my son's girlfriend about how much we missed seeing them and asked her if they would like to come over for dinner. I figured I could kill a few birds with one stone, see the kids, make the dish again, and have more guinea pigs tasters available. In the end it was a fantastic night. I saw my kiddos, I prepared the dish correctly, and everyone loved it!! But then my camera batter died and I ended up using my iPhone to take the pictures! It fought me, but I won!!