12.31.14 Wisconsin from Scratch Best of 2014
Another year has come and gone, and what year it’s been. In 2014 we did some pretty outlandish things, like travel halfway around the world to India, and kayak with icebergs in Lake Superior. We survived a polar vortex, made a wedding cake, and met some other awesome Madison food bloggers. And most importantly, we cooked. A lot. There were a ton of seriously delicious things coming out of the Wisconsin from Scratch kitchen this year, and as 2014 draws to a close, it seems only fitting to share with you our favorite recipes from this past year. After much deliberation, Forrest and I have narrowed down the list to our top 14 (it was a tough job, but someone had to do it). And now, without further ado, we bring you the best of the best!
On a chilly day, there are few things better than a big bowl of tomato soup. Except when your regular old tomato soup is replaced by this thick creamy version chock full of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Fantastic? I think yes. It makes the stuff from a can pale in comparison. Your grilled cheese will thank you.
I love baklava, but I’m not always in the mood to fiddle around with phyllo dough. But then I was struck with a marvelous idea - baklava...in french toast form. Not only is it far easier to pull off than actual baklava, but you can get away with eating it for breakfast. Sold.
Spicy-sweet blackened salmon, tangy pineapple salsa and creamy avocado all wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla. Serve them up with a side of black beans, a slice of lime, and a cold beer, and you’re in taco heaven.
A good biscuit is a beautiful thing, but these biscuits in particular are exceptionally wonderful. Besides the tasty addition of sharp cheddar and fresh farmer’s market scallions, they’re also topped with the most glorious of condiments - hot sauce butter. When you’ve spent your life trying to choose between hot sauce or butter as a biscuit topping, the pure genius of combining the two into one übercondiment is utterly mindblowing.
An experimental bar cookie I decided to try out for Memorial Day weekend, this banana, chocolate chip, and walnut blondie bar, was obviously inspired by my favorite ice cream flavor of all time, Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. And yes, they turned out to be fantastic (but really, being chock full of bananas, dark chocolate, and walnuts, how could they not?).
This delightful, slow roasted strawberry jam is beyond easy to make (only 3 ingredients!!!), requires very minimal participation on your part during cook time, and the results are - dare I say - even more delicious than regular stovetop jam. Not to mention, when you strain the roasting liquid from your berries to achieve that perfect, jammy consistency, you'll end up with a surprise bonus - strawberry balsamic syrup! As if you needed an excuse to mix up a cocktail.
If an Arnold Palmer is great on its own, then this version, made with black tea-infused vodka, fresh lemons, and lemon balm is practically sublime.
We all know cornbread is one of the best kinds of bread (probably because it’s basically a cake disguised as a bread). And if you add blueberries, some lemon, and top it with maple butter, well, you’ve just taken cornbread to the next level.
Sometimes, you just need comfort food. And for me, chicken and wild rice casserole is just the thing. Like a lot of casseroles, this version consists of a delicious saucy filling topped with a layer of crunchy crumbs, which become a beautiful golden brown crust when baked. But unlike most casseroles, this version isn’t held together with lots of processed things from cans. Just lovely homemade goodness.
This is one tasty pie, topped with copious amounts of lovely, green, garlicky, brussels sprout leaves, delightfully crisped to perfection. Also, bacon and three kinds of cheese! Yes, even someone previously at loathe to eat brussels sprouts, may be able to set aside their differences once they experience the utter cheese nirvana that is this pizza. It’s just that good.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can use it for so many things. Of course, I love to eat it in traditional chili fashion; straight up from a bowl, topped with a drizzle of hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, a smattering of fresh cilantro, and a couple of warm tortillas to sop it all up. But let’s not discount the other myriad uses for this delightful dish - piled atop nachos, stuffed into quesadillas, rolled up into enchiladas - really the possibilities are endless.
Crispy roasted delicata squash is delicious in its own right, but toss said roasted squash with some greens, crunchy walnuts, creamy blue cheese, and a warm sweet/salty maple bacon vinaigrette, and you’ve just made one seriously tasty fall salad.
This soup is hearty and warming with just the right amount of spice. But where it really gets going is in the toppings. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for toppings. In this case, I went with some lovely bright cilantro, dangerously addicting crispy fried shallots, and homemade red chile paste.