The Best Things I Cooked and Baked in 2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

In 2020 most of us found ourselves with plenty of time at home and quite possibly, on our hands. In the early days/weeks of lockdown, I obsessively checked my phone for COVID updates. But after my obsession cooled, I turned to books, baking, and cooking to alleviate the stress and pass the time. With more time to try recipes that I long had bookmarked for a rainy day, I stepped up my game in the kitchen and truly appreciated all the time I spent there.

I experimented with a lot of new recipes, but these were the ones that I made over and over again.

1. No-Knead Bread ( via New York Times Cooking)

This was the first recipe I made in lockdown in late March. The process seemed daunting after reading through the directions, but it turned out to be very easy and surprisingly very relaxing. The dough has to sit overnight to rise, but it's so satisfying to see if the next day. So much progress for so little effort. And the finished product was absolutely delicious. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. We sliced it while it was still warm and had it for breakfast. So good!

2. Healthy Granola (via Cookie & Kate)

I learned early in COVID that eating was all about balance. To keep things healthy and in check, I made this granola recipe, and it turned out to be a hit. We ate it alone, mixed in yogurt, sprinkled on top of ice cream and on cereal. It's easy to customize this recipe to use the nuts that you like and you can add chocolate chips in at the end after the granola has completely cooled.

3. Spicy Fusilli (via Bon Appétit)

We loved this pasta so much that we ate it on so many occasions, and eventually we had to take a break from it. The recipe is inspired by the spicy fusilli from famed LA eatery Jon & Vinny's, and once you have it, you'll be hooked. It's so easy to make and makes enough for leftovers, which are always a great idea.

4. Eggnog Bundt Cake with eggnog sugar glaze (via A Pretty Life)

I made this cake for the first time for Christmas dessert. It was a big hit. Believe it or not, I had never had eggnog until I tasted a sip while baking this cake. Now I'm hooked. It gives this cake a nice, spicy flavor and keeps it from being dry. The cake is ideal served slightly warm. If possible, you can microwave it a bit before glazing it so that you can serve it warm.

5. Cheese Tortellini in Light Broth with Parmesan Crisps (via Giada De Laurentiis at Food Network)

I've been making this recipe for years, but for some reason, it just hit different during COVID. It's a super light but filling soup, and the Parmesan crisps are optional but are a delightful touch. This is a great meal to whip up when you are short on time. For a vegetarian variation, make it with vegetable broth.

6. Spinach and Garbanzo Beans Rice Bowl (my own recipe)

I'm not usually one to toss some ingredients into a bowl and call it a creation, but this one worked. It's nothing fancy, but it became my go-to meal this year in a pinch, after workouts, when my creative cooking juices weren't flowing, etc. It's roasted chick peas, sauteed spinach, and rice. Easy peasy. Sometimes I add roasted sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries for an extra punch of protein.

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