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I’m pretty proud of the job I did cooking this year! I pushed myself and my tastebuds (and my husband’s!). I had some wins and some losses, but overall it was definitely a success!
Here are my favorites meals from the year:

Comforting and Warm:

best of 2013 comforting and warm
The Best Ever Turkey Chili / Sweet Onions with Lentil Stew

Quick and Chicken-y:

best of 2013 quick and chicken
Roasted Chicken & Beets with Couscous and Yogurt SauceOne Pot Lemon Chicken & Zucchini

Summer Magic:

best 2013 summer magic
Grilled Poblano & Corn Quinoa with LimeGrilled Chicken & Asparagus Salad with Parsley Pesto

Meatless: 

best of 2013 meatless
One Pan Farro with TomatoesAsparagus Carbonara

For the slow cooker:

best of 2013 slow cooker
Sunday Night Italian Meatballs / Slow Cook Corned Beef & Cabbage

Yum! What were your favorite things you made this year? I’d love to hear your best recipes.
Here’s to new flavors and challenges in the new year!

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I don’t know about you, but when I see a sauce that calls for roasted red peppers, I know I’m going to like it. I came across a few recipes for Chicken Paprikash, but wanted a super simple version that would still pack a wallop of flavor. Although with a bit of sour cream, this recipe isn’t strictly paleo, cheating a teensy bit now and then keeps me in line overall. And it was completely worth it, because this creamy, spicy, peppery dish is so very delicious.

chicken-paprikash

Chicken Paprikash
adapted from ask georgie

2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 1/4 pounds skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon ghee or other cooking oil
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on heat preference
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted bell peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream

Season the chicken with 1 tablespoon paprika, plus salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste. Heat a large deep saute pan and melt ghee or oil over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook 4-5 minutes until just browned. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Add onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Add the remaining paprika, cayenne, and chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan to dissolve browned bits from the bottom. Add the chicken back to the skillet, and stir in the tomatoes and peppers. When mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let the dish cool for a few minutes before stirring in the sour cream.
Serve on its own as a stew, or traditionally over noodles, rice or with potatoes.

After so much meat the past fews weeks since starting paleo, I was craving a veggie-only meal. The flavor in this one is so great! Spicy and creamy and packed full of vegetables. I ate a huge bowl of it all on it’s own, and served the husband’s over rice. I also finally discovered ghee, after reading it in the ingredient list on a million different paleo blogs. I’m crazy about it! It’s clarified butter without the milk proteins… all of the wonderful butter taste without the part that’s not so great for you.
Anyway, this delicious dish would also be a fabulous side to a shredded pork or a great taco filling. Don’t be surprised to see it at the next taco potluck!

Southwestern Succotash

Southwestern Succotash
via girl meets paleo

1 poblano pepper
1-2 jalapeño peppers (I used two, since I was feeling like a little more spice)
1 onion
2 zucchini
1 bell pepper
1 tomato
5 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tbsp ghee, or cooking oil of choice
1/2 tbsp cumin
2 tsp chile powder
pinch of oregano
1 cup coconut milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Preheat broiler. Place poblano and jalapeño on a dry baking sheet and broil until fully charred, turning peppers as needed. Remove from heat, place in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.
Chop onion, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, and garlic. In a dutch oven or large heavy pan heat 1 tbsp ghee over medium-high heat. Add onion and a generous pinch of salt, cooking until onions become transparent, about 5 minutes. While the onion is cooking remove peppers from bowl. Peel the skin off the poblano, cut the top off, deseed, and chop. Carefully, remove the top of the jalapeño, deseed (leave the seeds if you like things spicy), and chop. Add the peppers and remaining vegetables to the onions. Add cumin, chile powder, oregano, about 1/2 tsp pepper, and another pinch of salt. Cook about one minute. Add coconut milk and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked and sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Ok, so I cheated on my paleo a bit with this one. I started out strong and then noticed a bottle of stout in the fridge and knew it would be the perfect additional to this hearty winter-y stew. Kale? Butternut Squash? Perfectly tender beef? Yes, please! Next time I swear I’ll get it right and stick to the plan, but the stout added this extra level of flavor that took this lovely stew to another level.

Butternut Squash and Kale Beef Stew

Butternut Squash & Kale Beef Stew
via girl meets paleo

2 tbsp olive oil or other cooking oil
2 lb stew beef, 1″ cubed
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 small butternut squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
1 bunch fresh kale, roughly chopped
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 cup stout beer (optional)
salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven heat 1 tbsp oil over medium high. Working in batches, brown the meat, making sure not to cook it through (it can turn tough). Set browned meat aside. Lower heat to medium and add the 2nd tbsp oil. Once it’s melted add the onions, garlic, smoked paprika, and sage to pot, along with a big pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Cook about 8 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Make sure to stir frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn.
Add the beef, butternut squash, and kale to the pot. Stir to combine, then add the stock and two cups of hot water (if using the beer, replace 1 cup water with the stout). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, for at least an hour. I recommend about 2 hours to get the beef nice and tender. Serve and enjoy. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

This dish had a really interesting and different flavor, packed with herbs and greens. We used collard greens, kale and rainbow chard and it turned out quite lovely. Husband’s was served over rice and mine was over a baked sweet potato (1 hr in the oven at 400 degrees!), since I’m trying the paleo thing this month. The original recipe called for 2 bay leaves, but the flavor was a bit sharp on this, so I’d recommend only using one. Uli’s is always our sausage of choice, and this andouille packed a nice amount of heat, it was a nice balance to the tangy-lemony greens.

Lemony Gumbo Z'herbes

Lemony Gumbo Z’herbes
via food52

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other cooking oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery, preferably the innermost ribs (reserve the leaves for later)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
2 pounds assorted greens: collards, turnip, beet, mustard, chard, kale, or spinach, coarsely chopped
All the celery leaves from your head of celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 bay leaf (preferably fresh)
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (leave out if you want this to be vegetarian)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 small links smoked andouille sausage, cut into small pieces (also optional)
Fruity olive oil, for serving
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
Cooked white or brown rice, for serving (or baked sweet potatoes)
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally until softened but not browned. Stir in garlic and let it sweat with the other vegetables for a minute or two. Add water or stock to the Dutch oven. Raise heat until it comes to just below boiling. Add greens and celery leaves a little at a time until they are all wilted into the soup. Add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Halve and juice a lemon, and put both lemon halves into the soup. Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, if using. Reduce heat to low and simmer soup, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. The vegetables will become mushy and the soup will be very green. This is what you’re going for. Taste and add salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more Worcestershire sauce to your taste. Fish out the bay leaf and the lemon halves and discard them. Stir in the andouille sausage if using. To serve, place a scoop of rice (or baked sweet potatoes) into a bowl, pour soup over the top, and add about a teaspoon of olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with scallions. Add hot sauce as desired.

Wow! I never cook with lamb, even though it’s a favorite, and this first attempt really turned out well. The flavor was rich, the stew filling, but not too heavy. The meat, beans, and spinach with feta in a lightly spiced tomato broth made for a perfectly balanced dish. This one will be a regular this winter!

Lamb and Bulgur Stew with White Beans

Lamb and Bulgur Stew with White Beans
via martha stewart

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 pound ground lamb
2/3 cup bulgur
3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
28 ounce can diced plum tomatoes
2 cups water
15 ounce can gigante or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 ounces baby spinach (about 5 cups)
3 1/2 ounces feta cheese (about 2/3 cup), plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, plus more for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, lamb, bulgur, red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring to break up lamb, until lamb is cooked, about 5 minutes. Add paprika; stir until fragrant and toasted, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Lower heat; gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until bulgur is tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in beans, spinach, feta, and oregano; cook until feta is almost melted and beans are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Garnish with feta and oregano.

I was looking for a new chili recipe this weekend and stumbled across a post labelled The Best Ever Turkey Chili. A bit skeptical at first, I read through the ingredients and saw my favorite thing to add to a soup or stew: beer! I was sold. There were a few minor tweaks I made, such as adding a bit of cumin (can’t live without it in chili!) and doubling the beans (more is better!) and a little bit of shredded carrot to cut the acidity, but the flavor of this chili really was the best I’ve ever made. I know I’ll be coming back to this recipe again and again.

best ever turkey chili

The Best Ever Turkey Chili
adapted from food52

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon hot paprika
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2/4 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Dash of cinnamon
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 cup dark beer such as Leffe Brown
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
Dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Sour cream, chopped chives, cilantro, shredded cheese for toppings

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, grated carrot and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the chili powder, cumin, hot paprika, coriander, oregano, and cinnamon; stir and allow to cook until aromatic, 1 minute. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until lightly browned. Pour in the beer and allow to cook down slightly. Add the tomatoes, beans, and a dash of hot sauce (to taste). Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Top with sour cream, chopped chives, cilantro, and/or shredded cheese.