Cheers to New Years

I know I’m a couple days late and, coming right out of the holiday season, quite a few dollars short… but Happy New Years, folks. I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there—2012 has been my favorite year to date. Definitely not the easiest, but for me, one of the most impactful of my 21 by far. And with that being that, I want to officially kiss it goodbye by highlighting my top 12 posts of 2012. These 12 rank as my favorites for the year partially because of the food, partially because of the stories and largely because of the experiences associated with each. Come now, reminisce with me for a sec…

1.) Chocolate boisonberry tart. With a tart of dark chocolate and boisonberry jam, I welcomed in and laid out resolutions for 2012. Not to sing my own praises, but the tart was spot on and so were the resolutions. These are the resolutions I’d like to renew every year. Every day, for that matter.

2.) Black bean brownies. To this day, I remain stunned that beans in brownies can be a delicious thing. Or a thing at all. Why would you ever think to dump a can black beans into brownie batter? Point is, these brownies say anything is possible.

3.) Sautéed kale with chickpeas, feta & basil-Dijon vinaigrette.  Straight up, kale is awesome. Plus, this is one of maybe five posts from throughout the year that proves I actually eat wonderful and nutritious foods most days. I don’t think most people know that.

4.) Orange cinnamon sugar cookies with bourbon brown sugar frosting. A great way to use up a bucket load of leftover egg yolks, an excuse to consume more bourbon and a fantastic treat to offer when visiting a best pal during the oddest and most excellent weekend road trip of the year. #davidsonnorthcarolina

5.) Nicaragua. No recipes, but by far one of the amazing weeks of my life. End of story.

6.) Banana puddingFor one, banana pudding might just be one of the top 25 most purely blissful concoctions on the planet. For two, this marks the first time I’d ever made banana pudding from scratch without somehow fudging it up. For three, I was lucky enough to share this pudding with a number of the most uplifting people I’ve ever met for a truly fantastic Easter meal.

7.)Blueberry crumble pie with honey lavender ice cream. Good gracious, I love this pie and cream. T’was a dessert that marked a summer of farm fresh ingredients, growing relationships fed by baked goods, a love affair with homemade ice cream and another with lavender. Not to mention, this one was dedicated to highlighting two of the coolest people ever in forever– my mom and dad. You best believe I’m a fan of most anything dedicated to my mom and dad.

Photo by Lyric Lewin

8.) Tastes of summer. Not only was this the first food spread completely under my charge as the new food editor of Ampersand magazine, but  through this photo shoot, I happened to find a most amazing food photographer  as well as an equally amazing best friend all in one exceptionally tall and gorgeously goofy package. Weird, tall girls gotta stick together.

9.) Bourbon peach cobbler with no-churn vanilla ice cream. I don’t feel like this one requires a ton of explanation– bourbon, gooey baked peach filling, buttery biscuit topping, practically effortless ice cream… is there any way to hate it? Bonus points: I’m pretty sure this cobbler was a deal sealer for my current beau. I fed it to him one afternoon, he asked me to be his gal by that night. Moral being, you can hook a good lad with a good cobbler. I just so happened to hook the best lad, so bam. Huzzah for boozed baked goods.

10.) Chicken biscuit sandwiches with bacon jam and brie, served with creamy cheddar grits. Three words: Pure. Southern. Lovin. This artery-clogging session of breakfast for dinner was inspired by a phenomenal lecture from the biscuit-loving lips of the southern cuisine queen herself, Ms. Nathalie Dupree. Both the cooking and the company made this one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever shared sitting on my living room floor.

11.) Once upon a summer. I understand a lot of emphasis is being thrown on the summer, but experiences from those couple of months have done and–continue to do–wonders for me. No joke ya’ll, the bar is set pretty dagum high for summer 2013.

12.) Classic bread pudding with bourbon sauce.  Surprise surprise… more bourbon. This recipe is the closest thing I’ve ever found to my favorite bread pudding served at my favorite restaurant in my favorite hometown (my only hometown). It’s simple, soul-warming and tastes like nostalgia. Thus, it’s the perfect comfort food to chow on the morning after a wretched night spent broken down at a truck stop in the middle of no where eating  fried chicken that would later have you running  headfirst to the toilet. After nights like that, a warm, bourbon-soaked custard really does ease the pain. I promise.

And with that, I bid thee well, 2012. You were engorged with unanticipated blessings and I’ll certainly remember you fondly. As for 2013, I’m anxious to see what you have in store. Again, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year. I genuinely hope the year ahead presents each and every one of us countless adventures and opportunities; and more importantly, that we’ll have the wisdom and courage to snatch them up when the time comes.  Let’s get it.

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