The Best of 2009

I don’t know about you, but after indulging so much over the holiday I’m more than ready to get back to eating healthy, nutritious foods. I’ve been cooking up a storm in the kitchen and have a few great new recipes to share with you. But first I thought it would be appropriate to reflect back on some of my favorite recipes from the past year. I’ve made more than a few great dishes since I got serious about blogging last winter and it seems like a shame to let them get lost in the archives.

So to help you start the New Year off on the right foot, here’s a roundup of some of the most crave-worthy recipes that have appeared on Healthy.Delicious. in 2009. This list certainly doesn’t represent all of my favorites (if I don’t absolutely love something that I make, I generally don’t post it) but they are some of the healthier recipes that I keep going back to and that you can realistically make during this time of the year. I had some fabulous recipes over the summer, but they just wouldn’t be the same without fresh, in-season produce.

Here’s to a great New Year full of healthy and delicious meals, good friends both new and old, and success in and out of the kitchen! If you had to pick one meal as your favorite of 2009, what would it be?

Vegan Dosas

Southwest Stuffed Acorn Squash

Egyptian Lentils with Yogurt-Marinated Chicken

Beef pho

Risotto with Crab and Lemon
Pumpkin polenta with chorizo

Spicy gumbo with andouille and bacon wrapped shrimp

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries

(Merry Christmas) Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

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So here’s the deal… I wasn’t going to post this cake. First, because I didn’t come up with the recipe or change it enough to consider it my own and, second, because of that obnoxious little “healthy” part of Healthy. Delicious. But then I decided that it would be mean of me not to share because oh my goodness this cheesecake was beyond ridiculous and is 100% my new favorite indulgence. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures.

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Three layers: a rich chocolate ganache spiked with kahluha, a fluffy, mousse-like layer of the most perfect cappuccino cheesecake ever, all topped with a cool, creamy layer of sweetened sour cream. It’s enough to turn even the staunchest of cheesecake and coffee haters into cappuccino cheesecake lovers. More than one person told me that it was the best cheesecake they’d ever had. It also got me a high-five.

The entire cake – all 16 slices – was devoured within about 5 minutes. I’m not even going to tell you how many calories was in each slice (believe me, you don’t want to know!) but it was worth every last one. It’s certainly not a cake to be baking on any old weekend, but for holidays? You can bet I’ll be making this one again! As should you! If you have any last minute holiday gatherings this week, I suggest running straight to the store to get what you nee to make this. It’ll be the hit of the night. And anyway, we all have another week before our diets start up again, right? ;) [....]

Honey Pecan Granola

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For those of you who are still too intimidated to try your hand at bagels (I promise they’re not as hard as you’d think!), here’s another great breakfast that you can make ahead of time – granola!

I’ve been flat-out obsessed with making my own granola lately. In addition to tasting great, it travels well so I’ve been eating it with yogurt for breakfast pretty much every weekday. I’ve already been through thee huge batches since I started making it earlier this fall! I’ve made each batch slightly different, while following the same general formula… until the last time. I was halfway through when I realized that I was almost out of oats! I mixed the last of what I had in and hoped that the higher honey to oat concentration would work. Best. Mistake. Ever! The extra honey really shines through and lends a great flavor without being too sticky or sweet, while pecans and raisins add texture.

Since honey is the predominant flavor here, you’ll want to use something that’s high-quality. I used a darkly colored wild honey from Germany that I picked up on a whim. I wouldn’t be able to even begin to tell you where to find the same kind, but I would use a dark/ amber honey. You should be able to find a decent on in any grocery store.

Once you have the basic oat/ honey combination down, you can really experiment with any other mix-ins that you want. If you don’t like pecans and raisins, how about dried cranberries and walnuts? Or coconut and macadamia nuts? The combinations are endless.

Since granola is relatively calorie-dense, I like to balance it out with yogurt and fruit instead of eating it with milk like cereal (which usually results in me eating way too much). Pictured above is a combination of granola, vanilla yogurt, and pomegranate seeds. It’s also fabulous with roasted or sauteed pears. What’s your favorite way to eat granola? [....]

New York Style Bagels, Anywhere!

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What could be better than waking up to a Christmas morning breakfast of homemade bagels (with smoked salmon and cream cheese)? Not much if you ask me!

If you’ve ever had a bagel from New York City, you know that they are’t anything like the bagels that you can get at the grocery store or at chain bagel bakeries. My grandparents used to bring bagels from NYC with them when they would come visit, and it was always a huge production. The bagels weren’t bready. Instead, a crispy outer crust encases a soft, chewy center. I’ve been able to find a few good approximations at independent bagel bakeries in other cities (DC has a good one; Albany, sadly, does not), but now… I can make them at home. And so can you!

I know what you’re thinking – but I promise that these are a lot easier to make than you (or I!) would ever imagine. You can make them on a lazy afternoon with simple ingredients that you likely have on hand. And once you have a bite of one, you’ll be hooked. Trust me. [....]

We have a winner!

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Wow! You guys really like cheese, huh? I can’t say that I blame you! ;) Between all of the comments and tweets, we ended up with 78 entries! I entered them all into a spreadsheet (comments first, then tweets) and used random.org to choose a winner.

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#64 is Elizabeth who said her favorite holiday appetizers are goat cheese tartlets, because they’r easy to make and you can make them different every time so they never get boring. Sounds delicious!
Elizabeth, send me an email with your info and I’ll have your entertaining kit shipped off to you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
For the rest of you who expressed interest in buying the cheeseboard, I was able to track it down. It’s actually on clearance for just about $20 at HSN. It’s a really nice board and that price can’t be beat! I haven’t looked into shipping, but if you need any last minute Christmas gifts, it might be a nice option.

Daring Cooks: Mushroom and Roquefort Wellington

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Daring cooks make me do it. I know that it was only yesterday that I was complaining about eating to many fried, cheesy, en croute type dishes. But somehow, I totally forgot about this month’s Daring Cooks! They made me do it! I don’t know what happened, but for some reason I had the reveal date marked on my calendar as today, so I’m a day late. But I started making this wellington over the weekend and was planning to have it last night for dinner anyway so, for the most part it, worked out ok.

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternate recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good FoodOnline. When I first read what the challenge was going to be, I was really excited. I was all set to make Lamb Wellington – something I’ve been dying to make ever since they kept making it that one season on Hell’s Kitchen. But when the time came, I just wasn’t feeling it. You see… in addition to being sick of fried, greasy foods we’re also sick of meat. I know! Crazy right? We’ve actually eaten very little meat in the past few months and we’re not really missing it. Once a week or so seems like the perfect amount. So I thought of what else I could fill these with, and finally settles on mushrooms and blue cheese. Which was AWESOME. The flavors were simple, but so so so good. [....]