This year the blog took a bit of a back seat to many other things going on in my life, both big and small.  Especially this fall when I studied for and took (and passed!) my boards, I just didn’t have the time, energy or motivation to test recipes, take pretty photos, etc.  But this year I realized that whether this blog plays a central or a minor role, this space is always here for me to share recipes with my awesome readers, to provide inspiration for both myself and others, and hopefully to help make your days taste better.  I loved looking back through my posts from this year because I realized that no matter what else is going on and what else I am focused on, we are still connected through our mutual love of good food.  I am so glad to share that with all of you!  This year was filled with some pretty fantastic food and somehow I narrowed down my initial list of nearly 40 favorites to a top 20.

This gooey butter cake was the very first recipe I posted in 2013, and I knew immediately that it would be making the “best of 2013” list.  It’s sweet and buttery and just so good in a way I can’t even describe.

Sticky toffee pudding is hands down, the best dessert at one of my fave local restaurants and realizing I could make a version almost just as good at home?  Pretty fantastic.

Everyone needs a fabulous classic chocolate cake recipe.  This is my favorite.

Packaged oatmeal cream pies were a staple treat from my childhood, and I loved finding a homemade version of them that is so reminiscent of the original.

I’ve made a lot of loaves of homemade bread, bread of all different varieties, and this right here is without a doubt the best white bread recipe I have ever tried.  Even though we don’t eat white bread on a regular basis, this is the one I want on hand for when we do.  It is outstanding.  If you are new to homemade bread making but want to give it a try, start with this.  You will be so, so glad you did.

Strawberry riesling slushies – okay, just seeing these again makes me ready for summer.

This blackberry chèvre salad rocks my socks.  I kind of want to make it all the time, to go with every meal.

I can never have too many meals that fulfill the following criteria: quick, simple, healthy, and delicious.  This great greens pasta with roasted tomatoes is just such a meal, and became an instant favorite of ours.  We make this so often and it never gets old.  And the kids love it.  What more can I ask for?

Playing around with new cupcake flavors is one thing I just love to do, and these strawberry balsamic cupcakes are one of the best I came up with this year.

Weekend mornings are always better with a batch of homemade pancakes.  Finding this homemade whole grain pancake mix was a game changer for us.  It is so nice to have this on hand in the freezer, to be able to make a quick batch of pancakes whenever.  With our two little pancake monsters running around, it’s become kind of an essential.

This ginger garlic salmon with cabbage salad is another one of those quick, simple, healthy and delicious dinners and as such, it has also made our weekly menu more times than I can count.  In fact, it’s on the menu for this week.  So, so good.

If ever there were an ice cream flavor to rival my all-time favorite (coffee), it would be this salted butter caramel ice cream.  Oh my word.

These jalapeño cheddar chicken burgers with guacamole – by far one of my favorite dinners of the summer, the year, a long time. What’s not to love here?  Can’t wait for grilling weather again!

Sometimes the classics are perfect already and are best left alone.  Pizza margherita would surely be one of them – until I roasted the tomatoes and added a tomato cream sauce.  In other words, pizza margherita, fancified.  The best just got better, baby.

Another favorite baking experiment from this year was trying to get the flavor of blueberry pancakes into cupcake form.  I loved the way these blueberry pancake cupcakes turned out – the combination of the buttermilk cake with fresh berries, topped with whipped cream and maple syrup was just what I was hoping for.

But then, they were closely followed by these samoa cupcakes and, at least to me, these just sort of blew everything else out of the water. Please make them.  You won’t be sorry.

This year we made a lot of progress in transitioning most of the grains we eat to whole grains.  This multigrain bread recipe in particular has become a favorite of ours – it makes excellent toast, great grilled cheese, and spectacular croutons.

Homemade caramels pretty much start at a 10, but it turns out that adding an apple cider reduction transforms them into something even more amazing.  Apple cider caramels.  Do it.

These cranberry margaritas have become a fall and winter entertaining staple for us.  You can easily mix up large batches in advance, they couldn’t be faster to make, and they are pretty much just awesome.

Cabernet braised short ribs with chard and orecchiette is just as enjoyable to cook as it is to eat.  This meal makes the house smell absolutely incredible and cooks for several hours.  It’s fancy comfort food for the weekend, and perfect for entertaining.

Thank you all so much for your readership, comments, emails and kind words.  I love hearing from and connecting with you, and I love how food brings us together.  I’m hopeful that 2014 will bring even more good times, happy moments, and of course, lots more great food. Happy New Year to you all!