Top 5 Recipes of 2016 – Cake, Cookies and MORE

What a year 2016 was!!! It was such a roller coaster year for me, in both my personal and professional life, but there is one thing that stayed constant for me and that is THIS BLOG! I love being able to share with you guys so many delicious meals, snacks, treats etc! And from what I can tell, you guys LOVED it too!

I decided to participate in a “Round-Up” of sorts, with some of my fellow bloggers so we could see what our most popular recipes of 2016 were and share them with you guys in one fun place! Below you will find my Top 5 Recipes for 2016  as well as a link to the main page where you will find so many yummy eats from a wide array of food bloggers! I hope you enjoy, and please be sure to let me know if you had a favorite (bonus points if you made it!).

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Dainty shortbread cookies with Christmas sprinkles, on baking sheet

This cookie was our most POPULAR post last year and with good reason too!!! It is such a simple yet flavorful cookie that literally melts in your mouth, and it’s perfect for any time of year (but featured for our Christmas Baking Frenzy).

Butter Lemon Snow Drop Cookies


No surprise that a cookie recipe took both the #1 and #2 spot for us last year, especially one a tasty as this Butter Lemon Snow Drop. This cookie was featured from a fellow blogger as part of our Christmas Baking Frenzy as well!

BEef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

This is by far my favorite dinner recipe up on the blog, so it is no surprise to me that it came in as one of the top 5 from last year!! It is so EASY and TASTY and inexpensive (with the use of ground beef) that it is a perfect meal for any night of the week.

Chocolate Peanut Butter CAke

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Mmm…that is all I need to say about this one! What a SPECIAL treat to make for birthdays, holidays, dinner parties etc. It is swirled with chocolate and peanut butter batters to create a heavenly cake that everyone will love. Best enjoyed with others so you don’t eat the whole thing!

Christmas baking frenzy- 13 days of goodies


This 13 Day post features different cookies, squares, truffles and bars everyday that we like to make around the Holidays to give to friends and family to enjoy! There is a treat for everyone on this list, and even many treats you can make year-round.



Well, there you have it! What did you think of our Top 5 Recipes?? Did you have a favorite that wasn’t on the list? And what about this year…what would you like to see? Let me know in the comments so I can get creative and get cooking!

“Bang Bang Chicken” – Recipe Swap!


Hey ya’ll! I am so excited to share this post with you! I was asked to join a group of Food Bloggers who, once a month, participate in a Recipe Swap! We are each tasked with another bloggers site and then given choice of any recipe they’ve made to “re-do” and make ourselves!! Eeee! This month I was assigned to Miri In The Village , a blog that focuses not only on food but DIY, home and parenting as well! I had a hard time picking just 1 recipe to make, I mean they all looked so yummy, but eventually I settled on her “Bang Bang Chicken”.

This recipe is so full of flavor and took little time to prepare, you guys will LOVE it! My hubby and I devoured it, like literally…the chicken is first dipped in a thick batter before getting coated in panko breadcrumbs and, to top it all of, it is then smothered in an incredible sweet and spicy sauce!! Mmm, are you drooling yet? Check out the texture of the chicken:



Now, I do have some tips for you to help make it even easier for you to replicate this yummy dish!

Tips and Tricks for the perfect bang bang chicken every time!
  • Cut your chicken into even pieces to ensure the cooking time is the same
  • Whisk your wet ingredients together first before adding to your dry ingredients to make the thick batter (this ensures that everything is evenly mixed)
  • We found we needed more panko than what the recipe called for, have more on hand just in case!
  • Change out your oil!! (trust me) This will help to prevent the chicken from burning on the outside before cooking through (the panko that comes off during the cooking will otherwise stay in the pan and burn)
  • Add more or less hot sauce, to fit your heat preference! (We liked ours a little spicier).

“Bang Bang Chicken”


For Chicken

  • • 4 chicken breasts boneless, skinless, cut into small pieces
  • • 1 cup coconut milk
  • • ¾ cup flour
  • • ½ cup cornstarch
  • • 1 egg
  • • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • • salt and pepper to taste
  • • Panko breadcrumbs
  • • oil for frying

For Sauce

  • • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • • ¼ cup sweet chili sauce
  • • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • • 2 tbsp honey


  • Mix all ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate until ready for serving.
  • In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl mix your wet ingredients together until combined (hot sauce, egg, coconut milk)
  • Add to your dry ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the bowl, toss to make sure each piece is coated in the batter and set aside.
  • In another bowl add about a cup of Panko breadcrumbs.
  • Mix all ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate until ready for serving.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet (over medium-high heat).
  • Coat each piece of chicken with breadcrumbs and fry on both sides until chicken is cooked through.
  • Place on paper towels to soak up some of the oil.
  • Drizzle chicken with sauce and serve.

So there you have it guys!!! My 1st recipe swap done! I can’t wait to see what next month has in store for me.


Wanna see who had my site?! Check out Simply Delish Eats to see what they cooked up.




Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe

Easy Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe- a delicious soup you will want to make over again with the cool Fall weather ahead! The perfect comfort food!

Easy Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe- a delicious soup you will want to make over again with the cool Fall weather ahead! The perfect comfort food!

If you are like me you LOVE a good Tomato Soup Recipe for the cooler Fall days ahead! Our first guest blogger, Dee from Dee’s In the Kitchen, has whipped up a super indulgent Tomato Soup for you to enjoy! I love the addition of ricotta cheese to her recipe and I think you guys are going to love it too!

Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe


  • 1/2 White Onion chopped
  • 1 Shallot chopped
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Can 28 oz., Peeled Tomatoes *used Italian Style Plum Shaped in this recipe
  • 1 Can 14.5 oz., Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth, low-sodium & GF
  • 1 Tablespoon dry Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Light Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Ricotta Cheese
  • S&P


  • Mixed Italian Cheeses
  • Fresh Basil Ribbons
  • Fresh Crispy Bread for dunking


  • See site for full cooking directions

Find the cooking instructions over at Dee’s in the Kitchen here!

If you liked this post you may also want to check out:


This post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing, but allow you to see the products I use and love in my own kitchen! 


Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

Our Butternut Squash Risotto is the perfect Fall comfort food – The flavor from the nutty squash combines with the creaminess of the risotto to make a show-stopping dish you will want to eat every night!


Last Updated: 22 Sept 2019

Risotto in large skillet topped with Parmesan cheese with plate of squash next to cutting board

Now, I know  most people are intimidated when they see the name RISOTTO! Ahhh! But guys, calm down, it may look and taste like it was made at a 5 star restaurant but I assure you this recipe is VERY simple! We even provide you with a step-by-step tutorial with photos below to help you out. You just need to ensure that the level of heat stays consistent and that you stir constantly and you will come out with a delicious risotto every time.

I love adding new recipes to my Fall line-up, I mean you can never have enough comfort foods in your recipe box right? Most people will think of soups and stews for a classic comfort food, like my Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup (go on, check it out and make that this week too…it makes a ton so you can have leftovers) but I think you will start to add in this risotto once you have had a taste.

Roasted Butternut Squash chunks on baking sheet


 risotto recipes are versatile

One of the amazing things about this recipe is that you can really customize it to your mood and what you have in the fridge. Want Asparagus Risotto instead? Sure, no problem, cut and steam the asparagus and throw it in. Wanna make it a Mushroom Risotto? Yep, go ahead, do a quick satuee to the mushrooms of your choice and add em in! Do you see the pattern?

Now this recipe is ESPECIALLY delicious as it features one of my favorite Fall ingredients- Butternut Squash. Oh ya, I can see you drooling already!  And thankfully it makes enough to serve 6-8 people so you can go back for seconds! (Trust me, you’ll be sneaking spoonfuls as you pack up the leftovers).

Mr. Olive has been making me different risotto dishes since our wedding night when we served an incredible Asparagus Risotto to our 250 guests…well the hall prepared and served it, we all just devoured it! I asked him a number of years ago to incorporate squash into the risotto one night instead of our usual asparagus variation and I was not disappointed. This is now our go-to flavor choice when making this classic comfort food all winter long.

faq for risotto recipes

I know you guys probably have a few questions before you get started with making your dish, so I want to make sure I take some time to answer the most common ones. There is nothing worse than not being prepared before making a recipe for the first time…am I right?

can you make risotto without wine?

Yes! Wine is not a mandatory ingredient in any risotto dish, though it does add a nice punch of flavor thanks to the acidity. If you don’t want to use wine in yours you can simply add some lemon juice or a white wine vinegar in place of it, or you can leave it out all together and just increase your broth by that little amount.

what is the best rice for risotto?

This is a non-negotiable for me- it HAS TO BE Arborio rice. Some people will tell you to use any Italian variety but personally we have found that the Arborio rice is the perfect choice. It holds up well to the constant stirring and brings the right amount of starchiness to the pan (which is what gives you all that creamy texture in your risotto). It is also a fairly common short grain rice that you should be able to find at any local grocery store.

what can i add to risotto?

Friends, the possibilities here really are endless! As I mentioned above we have done asparagus, mushrooms and of course our butternut risotto. You can do a simple cheese risotto using just Parmesan and Romano cheese. You can also use almost any veggie you can think of- broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, parsnip etc. Your mind is the limit when it comes to what you choose to put into it, just keep in mind that you always want to take care of your added in veggie ahead of time; either steam, roast, blanch etc. This will make adding it to your risotto an easier process and keep it from separating.

what goes well with butternut squash?

Butternut Squash is a subtle, nutty flavored squash variety that really goes well with a number of different dishes, that’s why it is so perfect in a risotto recipe. You can serve it with a nice crusty bread or along side some roasted chicken to make it a full dinner party menu.

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When making your risotto there are two things you want to make sure you have on hand; a really good sturdy wooden spoon and a heavy bottom skillet. Both are so important in making sure your temperature is right and you can get the right consistency.

step by step making of butternut squash risotto

Once your squash is roasted and your broth is coming to a low simmer cook onions over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add in garlic .

Onions cooking in skillet

Add in Arborio Rice and toast for 2 minutes.

Arborio rice toasting in skillet

Add wine to toasted rice and give a stir until absorbed. Turn heat down to medium-low.

Wine added to rice for risotto

Add broth 2 ladles at a time to cover the rice- stir constantly until it is almost all absorbed. Repeat until rice is no longer crunchy and is perfectly creamy.

Stirring risotto with wooden spoon in skillet to create creamy consistency

Add in mashed butternut squash along with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.

Squash risotto in skillet with wooden spoon ready to serve


risotto recipe 

Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

Creamy and full of nutty flavor - this Butternut Squash Risotto is easy to make and tastes delicious!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Dinner, Rice, Risotto
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Butternut Squash Soup, Risotto Recipe
Servings: 6 people
Author: Melissa


  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic chopped
  • 1 Butternut Squash 1.5lb roasted and mashed
  • 1/4 c Butter
  • 6 c Vegetable Stock we use the stock cubes a mix our own, more cost effective!!
  • 2 c Arborio Rice make sure it says Arborio and NOT Italian!
  • 1 c Dry White Wine
  • Zest of half a Lemon
  • 1/4 c Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Prepare your squash (roast and mash) and set aside for later. *You can do this a couple of days in advance and keep in your fridge until ready to use.
  • Over medium-low heat bring your stock to a very gentle simmer in a medium pot (this is key, NOT boiling)
  • In large pan melt butter over medium heat, add in onions and a pinch of salt. Allow to sweat until they are almost translucent. Add in garlic and stir, add in your rice to toast (about 2 minutes) make sure you are stirring from here on not stop!
  • Add wine and stir until completely absorbed. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Now you will begin to add your broth a couple of ladles at a time. You want to add enough to cover the rice, and make sure you are stirring constantly to absorb. You will notice a beautiful creamy consistency begin to form.
  • Repeat the above step until your broth is gone or your rice is no longer crunchy (about 30 minutes...This will create the creamy consistency everyone loves with risotto!
  • Lastly, add in your mashed squash, parmesan and the lemon zest. Stir until everything is mixed. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Things to Keep in mind with Risotto

Okay, so remember I said it was very easy to make and you just had to keep a couple things in mind? Well let’s go over that again just to make sure you get the perfect risotto the first time!

  • Heat consistency is KEY! You will want to use a heavy bottom pan to keep the heat even throughout the cooking process. This goes for your pot that is simmering with your broth too!
  • Stir, stir, stir! Make sure you use a good wooden spoon for this! Why? Well it will not conduct heat, meaning it is neutral in your pan (doesn’t mess with the heat consistency mentioned above). You can also use a silicone spatula if you prefer, but I love the feel of the wooden spoon for stirring the risotto, it really moves it around!
  • Milkiness is key! Once you add your liquid (which you add slowly) you want to see the milky starch as you stir. This shows that you are doing it right, and your risotto is coming together perfectly.
  • You don’t need a $40 bottle of wine! People often skip over recipes that call for the use of wine as they think they need to go out and buy an expensive bottle just to dump into their dish…now, yes there are SOME dishes where you want to do this (where the wine is really the star flavor maker) but not in this case! Do you know what we do? Open the fridge and grab whatever dry white wine is sitting there from our last date night…yep!

Well guys, that’s it! I told you it was a simple dish to make! You won’t believe the flavors in this one when you make it. And guess what? It is even BETTER the next day! Enjoy!

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