Looking Back on 2011

The New Year is just around the corner… 2012 is just about here, and it seems everyone is in the mood to reflect back on 2011 while there is still time.

I’ve deliberated quite a bit about whether or not I wanted to write a “Best of 2011″ blog post this week. You see a lot of those posts this time of year, and I’ve always had mixed feelings… While it can be fun to look back on great recipes throughout the year, sometimes the posts just feel a bit empty to me.

Since I was back and forth on whether or not to write a post, I posed the question on Twitter.  After all, I’ve found that my great friends on Twitter are pretty good at resolving all sorts of issues for me. I was surprised by the amount of discussion that resulted from my simple question.  Some people liked the posts, others didn’t.  Some think that it’s a great way to highlight some of your work for new readers who don’t have time to search through the archives.  Others thought it’s just a ploy to get more “clicks.”

Strangely enough, all of the varying viewpoints helped me to make up my mind.  I would write a blog post, but it would not simply just be a list of my most popular blog posts.  I will include the list in case there are, in fact, any new readers who want the “quick tour” of the site. I also thought I’d share a few of my favorite things from the past year.  I hope you’ll find it interesting. But, if not, feel free to move along. No hard feelings!

The Year In Photos…

It’s been a crazy year.  There have been surgeries and a flooded basement. Life has been crazy, but we have made the most of it and enjoyed it. I could tell you all about walks with Yellowdog, snowstorms, a trip to NYC with some friends, and much more. But, I thought I’d just share a few photos… One from each month of the year!

Most Popular…

Here are the eleven (it is 2011, of course) posts that have been the most popular with readers over the past year… Many of them are old recipes that always seem to be favorites.  But, there are a few new creations sprinkled in there, too!

  1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cups (from April 2011)
  2. Quick and Easy Taco Dip (from June 2009)
  3. Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream (from October 2009)
  4. Baked Green Bean Fries with Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce (from August 2011)
  5. Krispy Peanut Butter Truffles (from October 2010)
  6. Parmesan Roasted Potatoes (from December 2009)
  7. Shredded Beef Tacos (from October 2009)
  8. Chicken Pesto Calzones (from August 2010)
  9. Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting (from January 2011)
  10. Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream (from June 2011)
  11. S’mores Cookie Sandwiches (from June 2011)

A Few of My Favorite Things…

While I certainly agree with many of the “reader favorites” listed above, I don’t think they really tell the whole story.  After all, this year has been much more than a handful of recipes. There have been new websites to explore, new ingredients to play with, new blogging opportunities, and plenty of blogging friends who have helped me along the way!

So, to give you a better picture of the past year, I thought I’d highlight eleven (yup, there’s that number again… this is going to be a long blog post if I’m still blogging in 2025!) favorites from the past year.  Of course, it was difficult to select just one in each category, so I am giving myself permission to choose a few.

1 – Procrastination Techniques

I guess this category could also be called social media, but let’s be honest… It’s as much about procrastinating from cleaning the house, washing the dishes, and getting work done as it is about being social. Or maybe that’s just me! Of course, I’m on Twitter and Facebook. I have been for years. But this year, I discovered Pinterest. It’s delightful, and I can’t get enough. Who’s with me?

Sure, you can find lots of great recipes and kitchen ideas… But, I especially love Pinterest for it’s variety. I love seeing everyone’s favorite nail polish colors, home decorating ideas, and even haircuts!

2 – Favorite Snack

I don’t buy a lot of prepared foods… After all, I love to cook and bake. But, I do love to snack. And, I keep a few things on hand for when I need something to mucn on! This year, I discovered Humbles (thanks to Tracy of Sugarcrafter who sent some to me in a post-surgery care package!)… They are delicious baked hummus chips. I am especially fond of the olive oil, lemon, and feta flavor. If you haven’t tried them, you really must!

3 – Favorite Kitchen Gadget

I’m not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets, but I sure do love my DeLonghi hand blender. I even wrote about it! It’s one of the few small appliances that has a permanent residence in my kitchen cabinet.  I force the food processor, waffle maker, and electric skillet to live on a shelf in the basement!

4 – Ingredients I’m Addicted To

This is a food blog, so it’s only fair that I share a few of my favorite ingredients.  Lately I can’t seem to get enough dark molasses. I’ve been using it for bread, cookies, cakes, and more. I just love the rich flavor. This year, I’ve also fallen in love with gorgonzola cheese, roasted beets, and toffee chips… Though, not all in the same dish!

5 – Company Collaborations

In my third year of blogging, I’ve also had the privilege to work with some great companies.  I’ve been featuring recipes from Red Star Yeast (you will even recognize a few of my photos featured on their site!) and trying to take some of the fear out of baking with yeast.

I also signed up with Social Spark (and, I’d recommend it to any bloggers looking to work with brands!) and have had the opportunity to work with some great companies like LÄRABAR and Sunkist! In addition, I’ve had the chance to work with Le Creuset and Chicago Metallic.

6 – Recipe Inspiration

I could go on and on about my favorite recipes from the past year.  I won’t. But, I will mention a few of the ones that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind…

How could I forget about this Southern Comfort Caramel Corn from Bluebonnets & Brownies? And, of course, there is the Quick Coq au Vin from Bon Appetit Hon. Though I haven’t had a chance to make it yet, I can’t get this Coconut Cream Pie from Sugarcrafter out of my head.

On my list of must-try recipes from the past year, you’ll also find Balsamic Pulled Pork Sliders from Handle the Heat, Asian Turkey Burgers from How Sweet It Is, and this Pear and Smoked Gouda Tart from A Thought for Food, just to name a few!

7 – Great Guest Posts

Earlier this year I had to have surgery, and I was lucky to have a few friends who were willing to guest post for me.  I was delighted with this Cherry Crisp from My Baking Addiction, Spicy Merguez Moussaka from eat. live. travel. write., and of course this Weeknight Sausage Pasta from Bluebonnets & Brownies. Even my hubby stopped by to write a post.  And, of course, Yellowdog couldn’t miss out on the action either.

8 – Lots of Learning

I had a lot of fun with learning new techniques in the kitchen with my Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge each month (well, almost each month!)… I was especially fond of the World Cuisines challenge, as well as the Pasta and Dumplings challenge!

9 – Books I’m Cooking From

I have trouble keeping my nose out of cookbooks.  Among my favorites this year are the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, the More With Less Cookbook, the Flour Cookbook, and The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving.

10 – Guilty Pleasures

This list can’t be all seriousness, can it?

Lately, I have a strange obsession with learning the dance from the LMFAO song Party Rock Anthem. I may have watched this instructional video a few times. Every day I’m shufflin.  Don’t judge.

I should probably also mention that I watched 7 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I’m hooked.

11 – Fun with Friends

Some of my best memories this year are from spending time with friends and family.  I had a great time meeting up with some great blogger friends in New York City in the spring. I got to meet up with Merry-Jennifer, Winnie, Ken, Gail, Chris and Karen, Jennie, Kim, and Jennifer and Mike!

I also had a blast at the 2nd annual Big Summer Potluck.  I met up with more people than I can begin to name, but I did take the time to write a bit about it and share some photos.

14 Responses to Looking Back on 2011

  1. kristy says:

    Merry Christmas to You & your family. Hope you’re all well. Yeah, New Year is just at the corner. Still I’m hoping for world peace and no more nasty disaster. And may all the good things coming to you as well.
    God blessed.
    *Happy 2012!*
    Best wishes
    Kristy

  2. I think your look back hit a perfect balance. And I love seeing the year through your pictures. Can’t wait to see what 2012 brings for you.

  3. It was quite the year. It was great meeting you in person and I can’t wait to see you again at BSP3. And you should know that you inspire me just as much, darling. And I have no doubt that others feel the same.

  4. What a fun way to wrap up the year! Loved reading!

  5. Loved your wrap-up, Jen! Happy new year….I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in 2012.

    PS…I can’t get that Party Rock Anthem out of my head. ;)

  6. TidyMom says:

    I love your wrap up Jen!! I’ve debated doing one as well!!

    Happy New Year!! Here’s to a fantastic 2012!

  7. Great job Jen :) I loved reading about YOUR favorite things from 2011. Molasses is my must experiment with ingredient of 2012, so it’s good to hear you’ve been loving it!

  8. Tracey says:

    What a great recap Jen, I love the direction you decided to take with your post. Happy New Year! :)

  9. Smith Bites says:

    Really enjoyed the recap Jen – you’ve accomplished quite a bit this past year; looking forward to coming here again in 2012 – Happy New Year!

  10. Tracy says:

    I just love your 2011 recap Jen, especially your favorite things. Plus, being a new puppy owner this year, I can’t get enough photos of Yellowdog so I’m loving your year in photos. ;-) I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other this year! Here’s hoping for a new year that’s even better than the last!

  11. Paula says:

    I’m so glad that you decided to do a recap. It was a wonderful read and the photos were great. Wishing you much more of the same for 2012 Jen except of course the illness and surgery parts. All the best.

    P.S. Love the video. I should start watching it over and over and perhaps I could learn to dance so I don’t look like Elaine did on Seinfeld! Would really freak out my kids if I could shuffle, especially if I got me some *shuffle clothes!* Happy New Year.

  12. I love this fresh look at the year past Jen – such a nice change from the regular “best of” posts. I am hoping I get to see you in person this year!

  13. I loved reading this Jen. What a good reflection on your year in blogging!

  14. Dana says:

    This is the best “best of” post I’ve read. I always do them but I just pick my favorite things I’ve made. I have mixed feelings about doing them too but I find it to be a nice reminder of all the food I’ve made over the year. Congrats on another great one (and making it through the tough stuff).

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