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With Thanksgiving approaching, my mind is very much on food. And since this semester, the first semester that I have really, truly cooked regularly, is coming to a close, I have decided a little reflection is in order. (Please forgive the photos, as I am most definitely not an experienced food photographer.)

Best Chicken Dish: Sichuan-Style Stir-Fried Chicken

Okay so no Chinese food that I have attempted so far tastes exactly like what you get at a Chinese restaurant. But this is probably my best attempt. It’s got most of the flavors that you hope for in Chinese food. And it’s a Cooking Light recipe, so it’s probably healthier than anything you can get at a Chinese restaurant. I definitely recommend adding some vegetables if you’re a veggie person. I made this recipe for my family on Monday, and we added some squash and bell peppers and mushrooms. I made an extra half recipe of the sauce, and it turned out great.

Best Pork Dish: Pork Chops Agrodolce

Oh my goodness this one was so incredibly delicious and very simple with not too much prep. The sauce is fantastic. I recommend it highly.

Best Ground Meat Dish: Thai Basil Turkey Meatballs

When I first saw these online, I was intrigued. It sounded so strange but potentially delicious. Also, I’ve always been a bit iffy about ground meat and especially ground turkey. Don’t know why. I now think ground turkey is way less gross than ground beef. Anyhow, I’m glad I decided to try these because they were a big hit with me and Matthew. The blogger who posted this recipe recommended serving them over lettuce. But I like vegetables, so I always stir fry some vegetables to go with them and there is always enough sauce to drizzle on both the meatballs and the veggies.

Best Seafood Dish: Shrimp Avocado Tostadas

The most difficult part about this one is juggling making all the different components and timing everything right so that nothing important gets cold. But it’s so worth it. These are delicious, and I think my favorite part is all of the colors. The only thing I think I might change is the refried beans. We’re really not huge fans of refried beans, and they made it taste a little too salty for my liking. When we make them again, I think I’ll try to substitute black beans instead.

Best Vegetarian Dish: Spicy Garlic and Lime Black Bean Enchiladas

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of these. You can click the link if you want to see them. I could not recommend these more highly. They are fairly easy, reasonably healthy, and extremely flavorful. Matthew and I loved them, so I decided to make them this past Saturday night for a get-together with some family friends. They were definitely a hit.

Best Side Dish: Guacamole Salad

(I case you couldn’t tell, it’s the thing on the right.) Okay there’s no online version of this recipe. It’s from one of my cook books. But I promise to post the recipe up here soon. I love this salad so much, I pretty much make it every time we have Mexican food. It has avocado, grape tomatoes, jalapeno, and green onions with a dressing made from olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro.

Best Breakfast Dish: Banana Oat Muffins

I have tried a bunch of different muffin and pancake recipes, but so far this is my favorite thing to make for breakfast. I make them with half white flour and half wheat flour. The wheat flour and the oats make these so hearty and delicious. And since my Matty is a huge fan of chocolate, sometimes I throw in some chocolate chips, as well.

Biggest Cooking Accomplishment: Baking bread!

I can honestly say that I never imagined myself doing something like this. But I’ve been getting more and more adventurous with cooking, so I just decided to go for it. I used this pumpkin bread recipe. It was a lot easier than I expected it to be. And the bread fresh out of the oven was so wonderful!

Biggest Cooking Surprise: Ribs!

Ribs just sound scary and way too hard. Who knew they would be so easy?? Seriously, if you have a crock pot, these things are a piece of cake! I use this recipe. But it’s pretty simple. Put paprika/brown sugar rub on ribs, cook in crock pot for a while covered in barbecue sauce, put in broiler for a few minutes, DONE.

Simplest Meal: Sweet Orange Tilapia

The recipe is actually called “Sweet Orange Salmon,” but we used tilapia and it worked wonderfully. The day we made this, I had been eating a bunch of junk food and felt gross, so this meal really hit the spot. It is really light and simple and tasty. We made it with some simple sauteed asparagus and whole wheat pearled couscous. The whole thing took about 15 minutes. No joke. I can’t remember the last time cooking was that easy.

So there you have it! My favorite recipes…so far. I anticipate making these many more times, and hopefully trying even more new recipes next semester. But for now, I’m off to prepare for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow!