Happy New Year, friends! As we start the first month of 2022, I wanted to look back at some of my top and favorite posts from the last year, and start looking forward to the new year! It’s been a fun year here on the blog, so without further ado, let’s get started!
2021 was an interesting combination of exciting, happy, stressful, and varying levels of being out in the world again. I went from being in full covid lockdown at the start of the year to now being triple vaccinated, and although I still rock my mask out in public spaces, I’m so happy and grateful to have been able to travel both for work and pleasure again. I got a new job and have gotten to develop a new line of flavors for Haagen Dazs, which will be launching out to the world in a couple of months. Chris and I spent plenty of time traveling between Santa Barbara and Bakersfield (our two homes), and our garden has never looked better. We got to see family, eat in restaurants, and make lots of fun recipes in between it all. Although covid-related stress was still part of life, I feel like we made the most of 2021, and I would consider it a good year despite the challenges of the pandemic.
2021 was also a great year here on the blog! This was my second full year in my little corner of the internet, and I was able to almost triple my view count from over the previous year, and double my follower count. Thanks to everyone for subscribing, sharing, and making my recipes over the past year – it’s so fun for me to see people engaging with the blog and creating food for their friends and families, and it’s so motivating to get to know of people enjoying my posts. 2021 was the year that we discovered that someone had copied my blog onto their own website (imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but huge thanks to Chris for helping me get that shut down!), and it was also the year that I learned that my recipe for Apple Cornmeal Cake proved to be very popular in France (full story below!). The internet is a crazy place, and I guess I’m just happy to be a part of it!
So, let’s look through some of my top performing and personal favorite posts from 2021, and get excited for what’s to come in 2022!
My Favorite Posts of 2021:
Let’s start off with my personal favorite posts. These are posts that I’m especially proud of, because they tasted so good and have become repeat items on the menu in my house this year. They may not have gotten tons of views when they were originally posted, so I think they deserve a revisit and maybe a few more. Here we go!
Roasted Red Pepper Pesto:
This is, hands down, one of the best things that I made last year. Think of it as red pepper almond butter (does that help sell it more, or make it sound worse? Just trust me on this, it’s good!). If you’re finding yourself with a mountain of sweet peppers next summer, definitely give this one a try. It will not disappoint!
Make It! Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (click the link here!)
The Ultimate Zucchini Bread:
You guys, this one is another hit. If you’ve been a member of the blog or follow along our garden adventures on Instagram, you’ll know that every summer, Chris and I grow the most productive zucchini plants (we have a gift somehow!). I was tired of reading recipes for zucchini bread that only used 2 cups of zucchini (that’s only 1-2 medium zucchinis, if you’re lucky), so I found a way to pack 4 whole cups of zucchini in one loaf. This will be my go-to recipe for zucchini bread from now on – it’s super delicious and fully loaded with zucchini, and actually makes a dent in my zucchini pile!
Make It! The Ultimate Zucchini Bread (click the link here!)
Healthy Eggs Florentine:
This recipe was inspired by our trip to San Francisco that Chris and I took with my parents last fall. Every morning at the hotel, I tucked into a big plate of Eggs Florentine to start my day off right, and I got totally hooked on the flavors. So, when I came home, I whipped up this easier and healthier version of my new favorite brunch item, and I’ve been enjoying this recipe regularly ever since!
Make It! Healthy Egg Florentine (click the link here!)
Bean and Cheese Tostadas:
This recipe has truly made it to the weekly rotation in some iteration or the other, and it has become a full household favorite ever since its first creation last year. These are so versatile and work with a variety of toppings, can be left vegetarian with beans, cheese, and salsa, or made into a meaty version with leftover beef, chicken, or even chili. Top with avocados if you have them, salsa if you got it, hot sauce if you’re in a pinch, or even leftover pesto. Anything goes with tostadas, and we’ve been happily throwing everything on them throughout the year.
Make It! Bean and Cheese Tostadas (click the link here!)
Leftover Transformation: Waffled Mashed Potatoes
Of all of my favorites, this one is on the list purely for the fun and delicious factor. You guys, these taste so good. They’re hot and crispy, creamy and cheesey, carb-y and satisfying. Perfect for those Thanksgiving leftovers (or any leftovers, really), and a great use for extra mashed potatoes. Make em and enjoy em!
Make It! Leftover Transformation: Waffled Mashed Potatoes (click the link here!)
Homemade Italian Subs:
Since moving to Southern California, I’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in the presence of Italian delis in my life (but gained so many other amazing food items in their place!). I love an Italian deli, and I’ve gotten Chris hooked on my Italian-American favorites, Italian subs being one of them. On our trip to Boston and Maine, we picked up a round of amazing Italian subs and ate them on the beach, and it was a perfect food on a perfect day. Inspired by that trip, we came home and made some more, and posted the recipe here on the blog for you all to enjoy as well! Remember friends – always dress your lettuce!
Make It! Homemade Italian Subs (click the link here!)
My Top Performing Posts of 2021:
These posts are the ones that have been absolute hits here on the blog, and my main traffic drivers. Some were actually written in 2020 but picked up in popularity this year (hopefully that’s not cheating!), some are new to the blog and became fan favorites pretty quickly. Either way, I love them all, and I’m so glad that people are seeing them and making them! Let’s get into it:
Trader Joe’s Jicama Wraps:
This old chestnut is still shining, and I’m so appreciative of that. People are still buying and learning how to use this item, and I’m so grateful that people swing by my little blog to gain some jicama wrap intel.
Check it out! Trader Joe’s Jicama Wraps (click the link here!)
Bakersfield City Guides: Visiting the Almond Flowers
This one really (I mean, really) blew up last year, and it’s been so fun to see. It even was quoted in the local Bakersfield paper (unbeknown to me, and I actually didn’t like the article at all, but it’s still fun to be noticed I guess?). Anyway, it’s so fun to be a part of people’s potential vacation planning, and it’s fun to know that visiting the almond flowers is a popular Central Valley activity. So, if you’re ever in the neighborhood in the last week of February and want to see the flowers, check out my post first to know where to go!
Check it out! Bakersfield City Guides: Visiting the Almond Flowers (click the link here!)
Cornmeal Apple Cake:
I developed this recipe for a Food52 recipe competition last year, and it’s remained quite popular (in my opinion, at least) on the Food52 website and my own blog ever since. This one also blew up in France last spring, and helped Chris and I track down a copied version of my blog that had gone viral(ish) on Facebook with this recipe. We got the copy shut down and it was my first taste of the internet being a strange and crazy place full of stolen content, but I was also kind of flattered that someone thought my blog was worth copying (is that weird?). So, this post now has a very interesting backstory, and through all of that, it’s still a really good recipe. Check it out if you’re interested, maybe we can make it go viral in France again!
Make It! Cornmeal Apple Cake (click the link here!)
Thai Chili Paste:
This was actually one of my first posts ever on the blog back when I started it in 2019 (I think it’s post #3, to be exact), and since then, it’s enjoyed seasonal success every summer when people are preserving their summer Thai Dragon harvests. This post really picked up for me on Pinterest this year, and it was fun to see so many people sharing it around that platform. I even made another batch of it for myself this year, and I can confirm that it still holds up.
Make It! Thai Chili Paste (click the link here!)
Cranberry Orange Chutney:
Another post from 2020 that absolutely exploded on Pinterest this year in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and through the holidays, which was super fun to see. I made a big batch of this for myself again this year as well, and I can confirm that this recipe is as good as ever. Super fun to see people considering my recipes for their holiday tables, and it’s a really good one to boot!
Make It! Cranberry Orange Chutney (click the link here!)
Chewy Molasses Cookies from Claire Saffitz:
I made these as part of my Christmas Cookie box for the holiday season this year, and this post became quickly popular as soon as it went up for the rest of the holiday season. Interested to see how it will continue to perform in future years, and always glad to see a fellow Claire succeed here on the blog! It’s a super solid recipe, so definitely consider trying it out for the holidays or whenever!
Make It! Chewy Molasses Cookies from Claire Saffitz (click the link here!)
Okay, so this post has become crazy long and I congratulate you if you’ve made it this far. I really had fun writing this up and reviewing my 2021 here on the blog, and I’m so excited for what’s to come next year! I’m hoping to have at least one post per week in 2022 (balancing work and blogging can be challenging at times), but I’m so excited to see what good eats we’ll come up with to share here on the blog as the year progresses. I’m really looking forward to 2022, and I’m so grateful for everyone out there for reading, cooking, and making the blogging portion of my 2021 so great! Here’s to a new year, friends!