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Kalyn's Kitchen

The Top Ten Recipes of 2012 from Kalyn’s Kitchen (plus Ten Honorable Mentions)

best recipes of year collage
Narrowing it down is tough, but here are my Top Ten Recipes for 2012 and ten more Honorable Mentions!


I love those end-of-year lists that pop up between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so each December I scan through the monthly archives and save recipes that were my personal favorites from the past year.  Sounds easy enough, but then every year I have a hard time narrowing it down, even though three years ago I started allowing myself to expand the top ten list with ten honorable mentions!

This year I ended up with 36 recipes saved, and as I narrowed it down I realized four of my final picks had been introduced to me by friends, family members, or readers.  (Thanks to Al, Bonnie, Pam, and Effie for those great recipe ideas.)   Some of my favorite ingredients were still in heavy use like kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Green Tabasco Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, dried beans, and of course cilantro, and I had fun experimenting with tofu and quinoa this year.  And of course there were a lot of from-scratch Slow Cooker Recipes on the list!  My final choices are admittedly a subjective list, but I’ve shared some thoughts about why each recipe appeals to me.  I hope you find a few things you might have missed and enjoy trying them in 2013!

My Top Ten Picks:

This year I got into casseroles in a big way, and I loved the combination of spicy flavors in this Layered Mexican Casserole with Chicken, Green Chiles, Pinto Beans, and Cheese that’s also Phase One!


Especially for my brother Mark (and anyone who loves the flavors of Greek Gyros) these Ground Beef Gyro Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki and Tomatoes are a flavorful and more diet-friendly version of one of my long-time favorite meals.
I tried a lot of quinoa recipes after I bought a big bag of quinoa at Costco, but the cumin-lime-chile  flavors in this Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro made it something I’d never get tired of.
My friend Al and I made Al’s Famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad when a group of Utah food bloggers were coming for lunch, and the salad and Al were both a big hit!


This Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie Casserole with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Topping was so good that it would be a shame not to make it frequently with chicken as well.


My very good friend Bonnie sent me this recipe for Apple-Jicama Slaw with Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Dressing, and I loved it!


A little bit of pineapple juice in the sauce is one of the secrets to this Slow Cooker Recipe for Sriracha-Pineapple Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches with Easy Guacamole.
My sister Pam sent me this recipe for Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro that she found on Pinterest, and I kicked it up a bit by mixing the mayo and lime juice for the dressing.
A reader named Effie sent me a box of amazing spices from Israel, and I was wowed by this recipe from her which I named Effie’s Easy and Amazing Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar.
The perfect combination of seasonings plus a generous amount of lime juice made these Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos with Spicy Slaw and Avocado one of my favorites.

And Ten Honorable Mentions:

Another favorite recipe that used Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce was this Spicy Slow Cooker Soup with Ground Turkey, Pinto Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Green Chiles.
Jake and I experimented with three different tries to make sure this Cauliflower-Crust Vegetarian Pizza with Mushrooms and Olives was a crispy and bread-like as possible for a low-carb pizza crust made from cauliflower!
I made this Raw Baby Kale Salad with Apples, Sunflower Seeds, and Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette for several dinner parties during the year, and it was a hit with everyone (even people who weren’t sure they would like kale!)
These Baby Kale and Mozzarella Quesadillas with Sriracha-Ranch Dipping Sauce just might be the recipe that will get your family to eat kale. 


It took a few tries to get the seasonings just right, but these Slow Cooker Spicy Shredded Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos (or Tostadas) with Avocado Salsa were worth the trouble!


A little Sriracha Sauce in the mixture spiced up these Grilled Fresh Salmon Burgers with Caper Mayonnaise, and they were delicious even without a bun!
When I wanted a little Phase One comfort food, I came up with this Ham and Cauliflower Casserole au Gratin which uses fat-free Greek yogurt for lots of the creaminess.


I used tofu more than ever this year, and this Spicy Vegan Peanut Butter Tofu with Sriracha was definitely my favorite tofu dish.


This year I was into “egg bakes” where there was just enough egg to hold things together, and this Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake was one of my favorites.
And if you’ve ever thought that pasta salad was a tiny bit boring, you must try this Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Pesto Vinaigrette.

More Favorite Recipes from the Past:
The Top Ten Recipes of 2011 – Plus Ten Honorable Mentions
Top Ten Recipes of 2010 – Plus Ten Honorable Mentions
Top Ten Recipes of 2009 – Plus Ten Honorable Mentions
The Best Recipes of 2008
The Best Recipes of 2007

What’s Coming in January 2013?

I’m going to take a few days off to spend New Year’s with my family, but I’ll be back in a few days to share the Monthly Phase One Recipes Round-Up from December; then on New Year’s Day we’ll start another month of Daily Phase One Recipes.  (And if anyone is planning ahead for Phase One on January first, you might want to check out the Index of Phase One Recipes or the archives of Daily Phase One Recipes from January 2012.)


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    22 Comments on “The Top Ten Recipes of 2012 from Kalyn’s Kitchen (plus Ten Honorable Mentions)”

  1. We made the Sriracha Peanut Butter Tofu this weekend and LOVED it!! I served it up with some leftover rice and steamed broccoli.

  2. Jan, so glad that brought back memories. I loved it when I made it with Al, and it's become one of my favorite cucumber recipes.

  3. Thank you for the recap. I totally forgot about the Hungarian Cucumber recipe. The diner in my hometown in New Jersey used to serve these. As soon as my family sat down at the table a bowl of cucumbers was set on the table.
    I've had 2 cucumbers sitting in my fridge and I was wondering what to make….so I just finished making this recipe and it brings back memories of my childhood. I need to send the recipe to my brother and sister.
    Happy New Year…I hope 2013 brings you much happiness.
    Jane Bauer

  4. Thanks Lydia and Kristina!

    Loliver, that's great! I'm so glad the blog has been helpful!

  5. Kalyn- We've been enjoying your recipes since May.My husband has lost 63 pounds and I've lost 16. We've tried so many of your recipes and have loved them all! You have been a life saver for us and I feel we're finally on the right track to what I call a "life diet". Thank you so much for all your great recipes and we look forward to trying more!

  6. kale and sriracha, some of my favorite ingredients too – so many of these recipes look so good to me!

    happy new year!

  7. There's not a single dish on your list that I wouldn't happily make over and over again!

  8. Thanks Sally, and I do hope you share your top recipes of the year!

  9. Great round up, Kalyn! I might "borrow" this idea for my blog, if you don't mind… Of course, I will make sure where I got the inspiration from!

    Have a wonderful New Year's Eve, and here's to another year of great recipes coming from your virtual spot!

  10. Thanks Shirley. And I do think it's wonderful how many things are naturally gluten-free.

  11. Always love your roundup "reminders"!! All of these recipes are either gluten free or can easily be made gluten free. Proof that most "real food" is naturally gluten free. 🙂 Thanks, Kalyn, for all the delicious eats throughout each year!

    Happy 2013 (almost)!

  12. Thanks Kathy, so glad to hear that!

  13. I have another honorable mention to add – your Shrimp and Avocado Salad. I've made that twice now, love it!

  14. Thanks Susan, and welcome!

  15. I'm new to your blog – saw you on Google+, and just pinned several of your top 10 and more! What a great roundup!!

  16. Donna, you are so sweet, and I am a huge fan of your blogs as well. No one is more creative in the kitchen than the women of the Kelly family!

  17. THANK YOU Kalyn for inspiring me this year. Your flair with flavors has taught me so much this year (as in past years) and I am so happy to be numbered among the many KK fans. I wish you much deserved happiness in the coming year.

  18. Thanks Joanne and Carrian, and Happy New Year to you both!

  19. Loving all of these recipes. Thanks for reminding me of all that I have to make still!

  20. There are so many of these I need to remember to make in the new year!