Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Weekend Gourmet's Top 10 Most Popular Recipes of 2013!

It's New Year's Eve...a time for festivity and reflection. Before we turn the page on 2013 and jump into 2014 with both feet, I wanted to take a moment to look back on some of our best foodie experiences, as well as the recipes that my readers selected as their Top 10 of 2013. We had some great culinary travel experiences this year...Austin, Dallas and TWO trips to New York. We also enjoyed some fabulous dinners at regional restaurants here in Texas. Two events that especially stand out took place during our visits to the Big Apple. During our April visit, we enjoyed a fantastic 5-course dessert tasting at Thomas Keller's renown Per Se. The experience was a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds as each course appeared from the kitchen...and the service was impeccable. This playful presentation is just one of the amazing dishes we enjoyed...the "egg" is a crisp meringue filled with mango puree. Resting below is a small serving of ultra-creamy rice pudding.
In October, we had the great fortune to serve as Guest Bloggers on behalf of the Gulf Oyster Industry Council at the James Beard Taste America event. It was a fantastic weekend full of amazing food and wine!
We were fortunate to experience some great culinary experiences on the road, but the heart of The Weekend Gourmet is cooking and sharing recipes! Here are the 10 most popular recipes I shared in 2013...as selected by my readers. There's everything from appetizers to desserts -- and everything in between. Let's see if any of your favorites made the cut!

#10 Baked Ham & Egg Cups. These super-simple breakfast entrees became very popular this Summer thanks to being featured in the DailyBuzz Food Top 9. What's not to like? Cheese, eggs and ham...all baked together in a muffin tin. The presentation is really pretty, and it tastes great. All you need is some fresh fruit and biscuits, and you've got a fabulous weekend brunch or on-the-go weekday breakfast!
#9: Big Easy Eggrolls with Creole Dipping Sauce. These fun appetizers combine two of my favorite foods in one fried package. The filling includes chicken, spicy andouille sausage, trinity (onion/celery/bell pepper) and cream cheese. The dipping sauce is basically a simple remoulade sauce. Make a batch of these for your upcoming football-watching party, and I guarantee they'll disappear in a flash!
#8: Chocolate-Peppermint Puff Pastry Bites. I shared these easy-to-make turnovers for #ChistmasWeek earlier this month, and they were a huge hit. During the holiday rush, these easy treats were perfect to whip up. These also are my most Stumbled post of 2013...with more than 1200 stumbles! If you didn't get a chance to make them this year, make sure and Pin them to make next year...or if you're like me? Whip them up anytime just because you love chocolate and peppermint!
If you're looking for something to whip up to please a group of men at an upcoming sports-watching party, you're going to whip up a batch of my next recipe. Click to get to the next page for that...

#7: Posh Pigs In a Blanket. You may have had pigs in a blanket before...but you've never had my jazzed-up version of this classic appetizer. My posh piggies are flavored with honey mustard, sauteed shallot and Hatch chiles, and lots of cheese. One bite of these and you'll never go back to plain pigs again. Trust me. These are now my most-requested appetizer when I'm invited to a gameday get-together.
#6: Yucatecan Chicken-Lime Soup. We first tasted this hearty soup in Merida during a side trip on a Cancun vacation several years ago. We fell in love with the rich chicken soup with a tart boost of lime. It's similar to tortilla soup, but not as spicy. It tastes amazing, and it's a really great soup to make if you have a cold. It's full of healthy veggies, tender chicken, and has a tart kick from fresh-squeezed lime juice. 
#5: Slow Cooker Chicken & Smoked Sausage Cassoulet. Everyone seems to love slow cooker recipes because of their simple prep and hands-off cooking time. This hearty, comforting dish is full of healthy veggies, turkey smoked sausage and lean chicken breast. It smells heavenly while it's cooking, and it makes a lot of food. This one's great to make on a chilly weekend day. While it cooks away, you're free to do other things. It's also great for entertaining, because it allows you to spend time visiting instead of cooking.
#4: All-American Ranch Cheese Ball. My readers certainly love appetizers...and this one's a keeper! It can be made up to a day ahead, and it's full of flavors everyone loves. This flavorful cheese call contains diced ham, shredded cheese and ranch dip mix. Then, it's rolled in pecan and chilled. Easy peasy...and so so good! It's great spread on crackers. You can also roll the mixture into bite-sized cheese ball truffles and spear with a toothpick if you prefer.
#3: Mini Curry Chicken Salad Phyllo Cups. I originally shared these tasty little bites as part of the #SundaySupper shower theme. In my experience, ladies love chicken salad...and these frozen pre-formed phyllo cups are the perfect dainty showcase. These are a little spicy from the addition of curry powder, with a hint of sweetness from raisins and crunch from cashews. The chicken salad also makes a fabulous sandwich on sweet Hawaiian bread. 
#2: Too-Good-To-Be-Lowfat Chocolate Eclair Icebox Dessert. This recipe was inspired by my Mama, who loves chocolate...now I know where I got it from! This one is nearly guiltless, made with lowfat ingredients. It's the perfect make-ahead dessert, because it needs at least 8 hours in the fridge to soften the graham crackers to a pastry-like consistency. This dessert is easy to make, creamy and chocolatey, and lower in fat...no wonder it was so popular! This one was also my most Pinned recipe in 2013.
#1 California Layered Pasta Salad. This Summer potluck salad is hands-down my most viewed recipe of 2013. It has it all: veggies, cheese tortellini, ranch dressing, avocado and two kinds of cheese. It's layered in a glass bowl, then tossed just prior to serving. Every time I bring this dish to a Summer party, people go nuts over it. Not is it gorgeous to look at, it tastes fantastic. It's basically Summer in a bowl...and it's versatile. Vegetarians can enjoy it as a hearty main dish, and it pairs really nicely with grilled meat and burgers alike. 
That's it...2013 in a nutshell! I hope this round-up jogged your memory...or perhaps introduced you to some of my recipes you haven't seen before. Make sure to Pin them so you can find them when you're ready to make them in your kitchen...they're all keepers. What does 2014 have in store? I'm not sure, but I know it's going to be good...and tasty!!

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