When I look back through my blog, I’m always amazed at how much I have grown.  In my photography (whoa, please never look at my old photos – eek!), in my cooking and baking skills, and in finding my blogging voice.  This blog is such a huge passion of mine, and it constantly inspires me to try new things and do better.  I feel like 2009 was a wonderful year for the blog.  I looked back through the posts from the year and came up with 30 recipes minimum that I felt I just had to highlight once more.  These are the things I think you really must try – you know, sometime before 2011!  I’ll be breaking this up into a three day series with 10 favorites listed each day.  I’m going in chronological order so if you haven’t been reading long, you may have missed these!

My Favorite Salsa Ever – it still holds this title, and I still love it just as much as when I first posted the recipe.  I often find myself putting Mexican food on the menu so I can have more of it!

Red Velvet Cheesecake – a genius idea from the people of Southern Living, this dessert combines two of my favorites by creating a red velvet flavored cheesecake with a cream cheese topping.  It’s a decadent treat that is also visually stunning and I can’t wait to make it again soon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte – holy cow, this will probably stay on the list of top desserts I’ve ever tried!  It’s obvious why I’m so smitten with this dessert  – a chocolate cookie crumb crust, filled with a light textured but incredibly rich peanut butter filling, topped with ganache and honey roasted peanuts.  Be right back, I need to go make one right now….

Mexican Rice – this is without a doubt the best version of Mexican rice I have ever tried.  It has a wonderful texture and thanks to the cooking method, tons of flavor is absorbed into the rice itself.  I serve this frequently when I make Mexican food, and it is always a hit.  I have also found it to be a great base for burrito filling.

Spaghetti and Meatballs – everyone needs to have a great recipe for classic spaghetti and meatballs, and I love this one.  It is a wonderful comfort food but definitely tasty enough (and fun!) to serve to company.  I also love this meal because I end up with enough leftover meatballs to have meatball subs later in the week.  It’s a classic!

Chocolate Overdose Cake – okay, really, I don’t think much needs to be said about this cake.  It seems to speak for itself.  With a brownie base, chocolate mousse filling, and chocolate cake layer all covered in a decadent chocolate ganache, and containing almost 2 pounds of chocolate.  Yeah, you need this in your life.

Butterfly Cupcakes – I don’t think I’ve ever made such a whimsical treat as these cupcakes.  This has certainly been one of the most popular posts on my blog, and one I receive the most questions about.  They are fun to make and are an impressive dessert that would be perfect for so many occasions – birthdays, bridal or baby showers, a spring party.  I just love them!

Strawberry Ice Cream Brownie Cupcakes –  the idea of combining cake or brownies with ice cream into a cupcake is sheer genius.  These are so much more fun than the full sized ice cream cakes I remember as a child.  I just love individual desserts!  The strawberry brownie combo is fantastic, but the beauty of this dessert is that you can mix and match cake and ice cream flavors.  I plan on trying many more variations in the future!

New York Cheesecake – If I had to pick a favorite dessert of the year (or possibly of all time), it would be this cheesecake.  I haven’t made it since the first time I tried it, simply because last time it rendered me powerless and I am pretty sure I ate the majority of it myself.  It’s so amazingly creamy and delicious that I didn’t even feel all that bad about it.  Though I haven’t made it again, I definitely spend an abnormal amount of time thinking about it.  And I do have a birthday coming up – maybe it’s time to break it out again (hehehe ;) )

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels – since discovering the wonder of homemade bagels, they are a frequent favorite in our house.  I have had fun playing with different flavor variations and cinnamon raisin is a classic that just can’t be beat.  What a wonderful way to start the day out right.  Yum!

Stay tuned for tomorrow installment of The Best of 2009…