2012 Ingredient Challenge

Pitted cherries

Cherry week looked like a scene out of Dexter…

It’s already the end of 2012! How did that happen!? While only occasionally annoying, our 2012 food challenge was a big success. Each week we chose a new ingredient – not always new to us – but tried it in many different recipes. We averaged three recipes each week.

Our favorite thing about the challenge? Discovering Williams-Sonoma’s recipe database. We used at least one recipe each week and loved all but two. We highly recommend you checking out the database!

Here’s a rundown of the ingredients we enjoyed in 2012:

  1. Parsnips – Who knew they were like white potato-carrots!?
  2. Kale – Our new favorite, go to recipe. We especially love this one.
  3. Delicata squash – Turns out I’m not so into squash.
  4. Mint – So refreshing! We should’ve made mojitos J
  5. Plantain – At least we tried them, although the chips were quite tasty.
  6. Prosciutto – Always a favorite and still a favorite
  7. Bok choy – Very good, but haven’t gone back since.
  8. Carrot – We made a soup! So good. And roasted a chicken upside down. Oops.
  9. Asparagus – Smelly pee. But worth it.
  10. Strawberries – Strawberry shortcake is one of my favorite desserts
  11. Tofu – Fried, sautéed and in a salad. Voila.
  12. Girl Scout Cookies – Oh yes we did! These recipes were so decadent and so good.
  13. Quinoa – Had to do something healthy after Girl Scout Cookies!
  14. Grapes – Did you know you could substitute frozen grapes for ice to make a light and “healthy” margarita? Neither did we. But we do now!
  15. Potatoes – Purple potatoes! We made gluten and lactose-free scalloped potatoes for Easter – they will not be made again—and homemade potato chips – also not to be re-made – and potato leek soup.
  16. Arugula – As a salad, and wilted several ways.

    Pear, prosciutto and pecorino ravioli in browned butter. Our favorite meal of the year!

    Pear, prosciutto and pecorino ravioli in browned butter. Our favorite meal of the year!

  17. Honey – As a marinade, in a homemade BBQ sauce and to sweeten brussel sprouts.
  18. Avocado – Celebrating Cinco de Mayo and spring in style! My favorite dish was the strawberry, mango, avocado salad Brandon made, served in the avocado shell. So good.
  19. Oranges – We added it to a salad, brined some pork in it and made a spicy orange beef.
  20. Sage – It’s a good thing the sage plant in our garden is flourishing—we loved these recipes! Our favorite? A white bean dip with sage and rosemary. So easy and delicious.
  21. Pineapples – Maui Golds to be exact. We were on Oahu and Maui and enjoyed fresh pineapple so many ways: in wine, grilled, fresh, in sausage… So deliciously fresh!
  22. Leeks – We made soup, pasta and pot pie. Delicious.
  23. Salmon – It was Copper River Salmon time – how could we not?! My favorite was the “salmon candy” Brandon smoked. So good! (Especially over a salad!)
  24. Chard – A new ingredient for us. We used it as a side and wilted in several dishes.
  25. Cauliflower – We roasted it, curried it and mashed it, like potatoes.
  26. Cherries – Our pit bowl looked a bit like a murder scene, but the final products were great! We made a chutney, a dessert and a salad.
  27. Garlic spears – A new favorite ingredient. We’ll definitely stock up when they’re in season again. They’re amazing sautéed in anything you would put garlic in.
  28. Beets – We made beet pasta – it was pink! And a very good béchamel lasagna.
  29. Zucchini – Our favorite was the chicken and veggie enchilada. Very tasty.
  30. Raspberries – We went raspberry picking and found the most delicious raspberries ever.
  31. Corn – We discovered polenta! And had a delicious corn salsa over scallops.
  32. Blueberries – We picked our own and loved the French toast bites with blueberry sauce.
  33. Lemons – As a sauce, as a marinade and with pasta.  It was very summery.
  34. It's PINK! It's lasagna! It's made from beets!! And it's quite tasty.

    It’s PINK! It’s lasagna! It’s made from beets!! And it’s quite tasty.

    Peaches – Peach-o-rama! Grilled peaches. Delicious.  It would have been hard to go wrong with these peaches.

  35. Spinach – Added as some extra veggies in spaghetti, eggs and of course as a salad.
  36. Figs – Roasted figs with pork nearly beat out my personal favorite of prosciutto-wrapped fresh figs with goat cheese. A cheese plate favorite! It is easy to see why figs were a favorite of Roman emperors.
  37. Chocolate – We did it. As a rub, as a sauce and as a dessert. Yum.
  38. Tomatoes – Pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, in several salads. Eh. Standard.
  39. Pears – Probably our most favorite meal of this challenge came during pear week. We made pear, prosciutto and pecorino raviolis from scratch. Then we coated them in browned butter. Devine.
  40. Apples – Another favorite: Apple cinnamon ebelskivers (Danish pancake balls).These were the best Brandon had ever made, and he’s been making them for over 15 years – amazing.
  41. Green beans – Lots of green bean sides, nothing too out of this world.
  42. Hazelnuts – A close runner up for favorite meal: Individual turkey and butternut squash lasagna roll-ups.
  43. Brussel sprouts – Always a favorite of mine, we roasted them and made my famous brussel sprout pizza.
  44. Pumpkin – Halloween! We enjoyed roasted pumpkin seeds, puree in cookies and in ravioli.
  45. Cardamom – Added to a salad, a rub on salmon (our favorite) and cardamom snickerdoodle (don’t add too much to your sweets). So good.
  46. Mushrooms – We had five mushroom meals (a record!), all delicious.
  47. Turkey – Thanksgiving! We had turkey brined and smoked by themselves and in tacos and pot pie.  Brandon loved the pot pie that I made.  It was one of his favorites and he insists it is a new left over regular.
  48. Cucumber – Delicious Greek cucumber cup bites as a Thanksgiving appetizer. So easy and tasty!
  49. Cranberries – A salt and pepper pork tenderloin with cranberry apricot sauce.
  50. Chia – Cha-cha-cha-chia! We made cookies and meatloaf. Individually, of course.
  51. Marshmallows – We made them from scratch and made the fanciest rice krispie treats ever.
  52. Booze – What type of meal can you put booze in? All of them! We made penne with vodka sauce, white wine scallops and corned beef in Guinness.

Phew. Thank you for following along on our food challenge journey and I’ll be better about posting next year and I’ll follow up on the special ingredient meals we made!  Tell me in the comments if there is anything you’d like to hear more about!

Advertisements