My passion for cooking started when I was barely big enough to stand on a stool and help my mom in the kitchen. Thankfully she never lost patience with me. I learned a lot. I fell in love.
Fast forward about 30 years. This picture was my first blog post back on January 6, 2009. We had just moved into our dream house. My daughter was 7 and my son was only 2 years old. I was a young stay at home mom with a passion for cooking and I was ready to go on an adventure. A food blogging adventure. This is the Stirring The Pot kitchen 10 years ago, brand new. It's 10 years later and that kitchen is definitely showing some wear.
The inspiration for Stirring the Pot came from reading food blogs and watching the movie Julie & Julia. Julie & Julia had just hit the movie theatre and it was all the inspiration I needed to choose a cookbook of my own to cook through. At the time I was really into Tyler Florence and had just received his newest cookbook, Stirring the Pot
. This was the one. I only had one dilemma. Tyler's cookbook had lots of dishes I knew my family wouldn't eat. My husband and daughter were picky eaters and my son was allergic to all sorts of things. I needed someone who enjoyed food like I did and I knew just the person.
I called my mom and explained what I wanted to do. She agreed to eat whatever I cooked and Stirring The Pot was born. My first blog dish was Tyler's Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil. I knew nothing about taking pictures (see below), but we enjoyed the soup and I did manage to make over 60 recipes from the book before I got distracted by other chefs and recipes and started branching out. Mom and I were having a wonderful time cooking and eating together. She held to her promise. She ate everything and always had the best feedback.
Along the way, I met so many people who were just as passionate about food. This has been, without a doubt, the best part of this journey. I love and appreciate all of my foodie friends. I really enjoy talking about food and life with you!
I was lucky enough to join in with a bunch of sweet ladies and form a cooking group called I Heart Cooking Clubs
where we would choose one chef and focus on cooking their recipes for a six month period. Now it's 10 years later and my great friend Deb and I are still going strong. Together with a group of wonderful friends we've managed to cook the food of 19 chefs!
I've also had the chance to meet a few celebrity chefs. I was able to catch Tyler Florence at a book signing and have him sign my copy of Stirring The Pot
. I was also able to meet Giada De Laurentiis at a book signing. However, the best celebrity experience was meeting Bobby Flay.
He came to town and did a live cooking show. He was working on making an apple dessert and took questions from the audience as he did so. I managed to get in line and be the last one to speak. I confessed my crush, told him he was gorgeous, and then he gave me a hug and handed me the dessert. My own dessert made by Bobby Flay himself. I still remember how ecstatic I was.
I never imagined starting a food blog would be one of the best things I could do for myself. This is my 892nd post! I've cooked over 900 recipes! I was able to share them with my mom and my family and I have it all recorded! I've made the most wonderful like-minded friends, I've met celebrities, I've participated in many cook along groups and food challenges, done guest posts, wrote cookbook reviews, received cookbooks, cookware, and ingredients for free, I've had big kitchen failures, and I've learned so much. Most of all I was able to realize my goals and then some, and that is such a great feeling! I would encourage anyone with a passion to start small. The sky really is the limit and you have no idea where your journey will take you.
Now let's get to the good part...THE RECIPES!
These are the best of the best. The consistent crowd pleasers. The tried and true. The ones I turn to again and again.
My approach was to remove any emotion or bias towards the food and focus solely on which recipes were written perfectly and produced the best results each and every time. I'm so happy with this list. I didn't plan it, but there is a mix of everything: breakfast, soup, pasta, main courses, and even a dessert! There may be a lot of chicken in this roundup, but it's not because it's our favorite. It's simply because the recipes are outstanding and have proven to be tried and true. These are gems. Consistently delicious recipes that turn out perfectly each and every time and that, my friends, is what it's all about. The search for go-to recipes that stand the test of time!
Madhur Jaffrey's Delicious Chicken Bits
These Delicious Chicken Bits are hands down the #1 recipe that is requested in my house. My family refers to this dish as Indian Chicken and I have made it at least 50 times since making it the first time in 2012. The chicken marinates in a mixture of black pepper, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt and oil and then it gets a quick sear and finishes cooking in the oven for 8 minutes. It is easy, quick, and the chicken bits are little flavor bombs. Jaffrey says to serve the chicken bits on their own as an appetizer, but we enjoy them over rice with a green veggie on the side. If I had to pick only one top favorite recipe on Stirring The Pot for all 10 years, it would hands down be this one. If you are a meat eater, you simply MUST MAKE this recipe!
Jamie Oliver's Farfalle with a Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce
I first made Jamie Oliver's Farfalle with a Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce back in 2011 for my pasta-loving daughter. It was an instant hit and has been a dish that has been requested over and over. I have taken the liberty to adapt the recipe a touch over the years. I like to make it a little more luscious by adding a touch more cream, Parmesan, and about 4 ounces of Mascarpone. This makes the final dish very creamy and flavorful. This is definitely a family-friendly dish and I love how quick and easy it is. My daughter has literally grown up eating this one. So hard to believe she will turn 18 soon and graduate from high school.
Tyler Florence's Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
This one is from way back in the archives, 2009, to be exact. I made these cookies just a few months into blogging and I have made them ever since. If I were to pick one baking recipe to share with the world, it would be these cookies. Oh my goodness, they are so good! If you've never made these then run to the store and grab the ingredients right now. Buy the best chocolate you can get your hands on. Tyler's recipe uses dark chocolate. Use whichever chocolate is your favorite. I use semi-sweet chocolate and I prefer making these cookies with Ghiradelli sold in the block and cut into big chunks. This recipe makes 8 giant cookies. They will be the best cookies you ever had. You will be SO proud of them. They will disappear before you know it. They will be your go-to recipe for everything: potlucks, birthdays, bake sales, gatherings, etc. Just make them!
Yes, I'm sharing chicken legs on my Top Ten Recipes Ever list, BUT these are SO GOOD. This is a recipe to put in your back pocket when you're looking for something easy and delicious that will please your family. This recipe is a home cook's best-kept secret. Put it in your back pocket. I try to buy quality chicken legs, organic, if possible. You'll need 2-3 for each person you're serving. Drizzle them with oil and dust them with a hefty dose of Lawry's seasoning and salt and pepper and roast at 400F for about an hour or so (depends on size and quantity). Prepare for your house to smell absolutely amazing! The chicken is crispy on the outside, extremely flavorful, and the interior is fall-off-the-bone tender. These Easy Peasy Chicken Legs pair well with just about anything, are very budget-friendly, and people will go on and on about them.
I love shrimp and if you've been following me for any time at all then you know I've shared a lot of shrimp recipes. They have all been delicious, but this one is THE BEST. What makes Bayless' Quick-Fried Shrimp with Sweet Toasty Garlic so much better than the rest? Well, the answer is simple. It's his Mojo de Ajo, a garlic oil that is made by chopping two entire heads of garlic and slow cooking it in oil for around 30 minutes before adding chiles for heat and a touch of lime zest for brightness. These shrimp are completely irresistible! The first time I made them I accidentally ate all of them straight from the pan. This is the best recipe I've found if you love the classic pairing of shrimp and garlic. Just be sure to cook the garlic low and slow!
Yotam Ottolenghi's Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce
If you love hummus then this is YOUR RECIPE. I knew Ottolenghi's hummus would be delicious, but I had no idea how perfect this recipe was going to be. The creamiest hummus cooked from scratch topped with crispy bits of ground lamb, garbanzo beans, buttered and toasted pine nuts, and the most refreshing and tangy lemon sauce. Wow...this is the stuff of dreams. The hummus to end all hummus. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life.
Jacques Pepin's Egg and Onion Gratin
Cooking with Jacques Pepin was so inspiring and I learned so many new ways to prepare food. Prior to making this Egg and Onion Gratin, I had never thought of making a gratin out of hard-boiled eggs, but this dish blew my mind. Hard-boiled eggs and sauteed onions topped with a Gruyere cheese bechamel sauce. It's a departure from the regular old breakfast and it's so delightful served on toast. I knew it was one of my top favorite recipes ever as soon as I took the first bite!
Jacques Pepin's Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style
This recipe is perfection. Completely perfection. Pepin's Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style. First of all, Pepin is a genius and if anyone knows French Onion Soup it's him. Second of all, it has not just one layer of bread and cheese, but two. Third of all, this is a restaurant-quality dish and people will literally sing your praises.
Nigel Slater's Roast Chicken Wings
We love chicken wings and this recipe was game-changing for us! Prior to trying this recipe, I had no idea that roasting wings resulted in superior results. I'm convinced the roasting enhances the flavor of the chicken itself while also lending a perfectly crispy exterior. When I first made Slater's recipe I made his Lemon and Cracked Pepper version, but now we follow his recipe and change up the flavors all the time. My husband and kids think roast chicken wings at home are far better than the fried wings you eat at any restaurant. I have made these and taken them to potlucks and parties and I can never seem to make enough. They fly off the plate in minutes.
Ina Garten's Engagement Roast Chicken
Odds are you've heard of Ina Garten's Engagement Roast Chicken over the years and I'm here to tell you that it's for good reason. I've made a number of roast chickens over the years and this one is by far the VERY BEST. If you're going to make a roast chicken, this should be the one. A perfectly crispy golden brown chicken that is juicy and tender and topped with flavorful onion gravy. I recommend this to all of my friends when they ask me for recipe ideas. Ina knows chicken and this recipe cannot be beaten. This recipe should be in every home cook's arsenal!
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey! I'm looking forward to the next 10 years!
*This post is dedicated to my mom, the best taste-tester there ever was. Thank you, mom!