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122922 food column

Bite by Bite

Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten

For the final “Bite by Bite” of 2022 I decided to comb through the various things I cooked and wrote about over the last calendar year and pick some of my favorites. It was tough but I managed to narrow it down to my top 10 favorite things. I’m including the dates these recipes ran in case you want to refer back to them. If any of these intrigue you and you missed them the first go round, please reach out to me via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and I’ll be happy to send the recipe to you.
You know my comfort food of choice is a hot bowl of homemade soup, especially if it’s something that’s been simmering on the stovetop a while, making the house smell good. “Short Rib Onion Soup” (1-23-22) did just the trick. It’s a lengthy process, taking the better part of a day from start to finish, but it is well worth it. The fragrance while cooking, along with the depth of flavors, will make even the coldest winter Saturday a cozy day.
If you recall, we were rather late jumping on the air fryer bandwagon and still don’t use it as much as we should. But having got one last year, we discovered our favorite thing to make in it is what I call “Air-Fried Shrimp” (2-20-22). If you love fried shrimp but don’t love the mess it makes in your kitchen, then this is just the ticket. The dredging process takes some time, but other than that, this is easy peasy and so good.
My family and I love spicy food and typically enjoy just about anything with jalapenos. The marriage of our love of jalapenos and my love of soup is a perfect union in “Jalapeno Popper Soup” (3-6-22). I found an interesting recipe online, then went a little rogue and tweaked it to make it my own. It’s a keeper in our house.
You may remember me writing about Cathy, my sister in law, who has a green thumb the likes of which I’ve never seen before. She creates beautiful gardens every year and is usually kind enough to share some of the bounty from her gardens. We were the lucky recipients of some of her beautiful, juicy homegrown tomatoes. While Hubby enjoys just biting into them and eating them like an apple, I much preferred slicing them and making “Caprese Salad” (6-12-22). Truth be told, I nearly ate my weight in Caprese salad last summer. It was one of my favorite “go-tos.”
A column I created on easy summer suppers resulted in the rediscovery for me of the humble yet hearty pasta salad and the myriad ways in which it may be prepared. Having experimented with several, the one that stood out for us and was a favorite in my household was “BLT Pasta Salad” (8-14-22).
Last September when we all mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II, my friend Linda Holley reminded me of a recipe called “Queen Elizabeth Cake” (9-18-22). I decided to pay homage and bake it. I wasn’t expecting the lesson I learned from it, however. Upon my first reading of the recipe it just didn’t sound very enticing with ingredients such as a cup of chopped dates and a cup of boiling water. I stayed the course and saw it through though and it ended up being one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten, even changing my mind regarding my previous dislike of dates.
Another recipe I discovered last fall that was a beautiful, healthy dish that we all happily devoured was “Roasted Salmon on Mediterranean Vegetables” (9-25-22). I got the recipe from Tim Scallon, a registered dietician who writes a monthly column for us. It’s a wonderful recipe that includes everything but the kitchen sink, but is also easy to tweak if necessary. For example, as Hubby and Daughter don’t care for olives, I just omitted them and added some marinated artichoke hearts instead.
“Shrimp & Bacon Chowder” (11-24-22) is a keto recipe I discovered last fall after Hubby and I began trying to adopt a keto lifestyle. It combines two of our very favorite things – shrimp and bacon. What’s not to like? It’s a warm delightful dish that comes together fairly easily and is sure to become a favorite.
I discovered a new cocktail, “Sparkling Apple Pie on the Rocks” (12-4-22) when I decided to enter a holiday cocktail photography contest. Billed as a holiday cocktail, I think it’s a perfect choice any time you’re feeling festive. It’s a tiny bit labor-intensive, but it’s all worth it when you see how much your guests love it.
Rounding out my top 10 is the recipe for “Ration Cake” (12-18-22) shared with me by my friend Kathy Pedigo. It’s so easy and so good. In fact, it may be the quickest, easiest thing I’ve ever made. Daughter loves it and is already asking me to make it again so that should tell you something.
As we close the book on 2022, here’s to wishing all my readers a healthy and happy new year filled with good things to eat and drink!

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