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Google recently released their “Google’s Year in Search 2016.” One category included was a listing of the top-searched food recipes for the year. We took a look in our own collection to gather our recipes for these delicious, and sometimes, just fun, items to create our own list of favorites in 2016.

1. Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean CasseroleThis classic casserole might be the star of your holiday table, but it isn’t just for holidays and pitch-in dinners any more. In 2016 home cooks were bringing this side dish to their table throughout the year, and we commonly see at least a couple of versions of this dish on pitch-in dinner tables. We are always delighted to try other’s approach to this staple. Here is our recipe for a Green Bean Casserole, with Mushrooms, Bacon, Onions and two optional Cheeses.

2. Brussels Sprouts
Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini OnionsThe Brussels sprout continues to be super popular this year; it’s the only green vegetable that got its own Google search spot in the top 10. Here is our recipe for Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts, and, you might also like our Browned Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini Onions.

3. Hashbrown Casserole
Hash Brown CasseroleCasseroles continue to dominate the top 10 list, and for good reason; they can be prepared ahead of time, chilled, warmed, and served later, making them very versatile and reliable. One of the most popular recipes searched is the ever-popular hashbrown casserole. This has been a Christmas Breakfast staple at our house for many years, and I prepared it a number of times for Men’s Breakfast at church. Get the recipe here.

4. Guacamole
GuacamoleAnother simple-to-make delicacy made it to the top of the charts this year. It’s guacamole made from wonderful Haas avocados. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat and nutrients, especially potassium, B vitamins, 11 different carotenoids, and vitamin E. It makes a great dip with tortilla or corn chips, excels when planted by the spoonful on top of entrees, sides, salads, and even when served sliced in soups and tacos. The process is quick and easy, and produces a luscious, silky smooth dip with a hint of lime. You’ll find our recipe here.

5. Chicken Marsala
Chicken Tenderloin MarsalaThis is a delicious, classic chicken dish that used to be taught in junior high school cooking classes. Our Italian-American version calls for breaded chicken breasts that are braised with Marsala wine, mushrooms and onion. Paprika provides a smokiness to offset the sweetness of the wine. Quick and easy to assemble, this dish is ideal for a simple weeknight dinner, and is elegant enough to gain status as a longtime favorite for entertaining company. You can find our recipe here.

6. Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken TetrazziniIf you’re not familiar with Chicken Tetrazzini, this essentially is a bowl of luscious pasta loaded with lots of chicken and mushrooms. This is one of Lea’s favorite dishes, to make, and to eat. If you have time to make your own delicious egg noodles, you can take this dish to a whole new level. Get the recipe right here.

7. Snow Cream
Homemade Ice CreamSnow cream can be one of two distinct desserts; a cream-based dessert with one or more flavoring agents added, or, a dessert in which snow is mixed with a sweetened dairy-based liquid to make an ice cream substitute. We rarely see snow here in Central Texas, so we tend to go with the cream-based version. Get the recipe here. Our recipe is located here.

8. Buttercream Frosting
Buttercream frosting on mini-muffinsIt’s great that there are enough cooks out there that want to learn to make their own buttercream frosting, rather than giving in to the ease of buying it at the store. It’s completely simple to make, and totally essential for baking when you want that extra measure of flavor that comes only from homemade buttercream. Our recipe includes a tip to avoid getting the frosting too runny. The recipe is located here.

9. Pork Chops
seared-pork-tenderloin-medallions2_smlThe ever-popular pork chop topped this year’s Google search charts again, which is not so surprising considering how easy or elegant this homey dinner staple is to prepare. We have lots of pork chop recipes on our Entrees page, and one of our favorites, Apple-Ginger Thick Cut Pork Chops, is located here.

10. Turkey Gravy
Pan Gravy with Chicken Fried ChickenSearches for turkey gravy rose to new heights in the last few weeks prior to Thanksgiving, and, according to Google, it was very popular this year! Once you learn to master gravy making, you can pretty much turn pan drippings and fond from any dish into a silky smooth and extra flavorful pan sauce or gravy to serve with your meal. Here’s our recipe and some tips to help.

These delicious recipes are essential for every recipe starter collection, and all have countless versions that have been developed by seasoned cooks over the years. Historically, the most adventurous cooks had extensive libraries of cookbooks to use for inspiration and exploration. Trading recipes with others who had an interest in expanding their meal offerings was a very common practice. Today, there are many other ways to find a recipe, including that quick search on the web, including our own collection. We hope you enjoy our tried and true recipes, and look forward to hearing about your favorite variations, too.

Christmas morning is a time that you shouldn’t have to spend any more time in the kitchen than you want too. Here is a small collection of some of the dishes we would have at our house when our children, and then the grandchildren, would come to spend Christmas eve with us.

Walton House B&B Christmas Table SettingAfter the children were tucked into bed, adults set the breakfast table and prepared some casserole dishes that could be slipped into the refrigerator over night, and then into the oven in the morning. Buttered toast and hot chocolate were served first thing Christmas morning while we admired with anticipation all the presents under the tree. After opening our presents, the aromas coming from the kitchen foretold a delicious brunch featuring some of our favorite dishes.

Homemade Hot Chocolate with Buttered Toast
Hot Chocolate with Buttered Toast Sliced for DippingHomemade hot chocolate mix makes it really easy to make a warm, comforting, drink for everyone with very little fuss. Hot chocolate with buttered toast sliced for dipping was always a family favorite for early Christmas morning. We also kept a quart jar of the mix in the guest coffee area at our bed and breakfast so guests could enjoy a cup by one of the fireplaces any time they wanted. Get the recipe here.

Egg and Breakfast Sausage Casserole
Egg and Breakfast Sausage CasseroleWe made this a number of times on Christmas eve for our Christmas morning brunch. It’s always fun to get everyone in the kitchen mixing and preparing casseroles late Christmas eve after the children were in bed. Come morning, it is so nice to be able to pop everything in the oven, and then take a break from opening gifts and sit down to a great meal. We always had this with the Good Potato Casserole. Get the recipe here.

Egg and Sausage Casserole with Biscuit Mix
Egg & Cheese CasseroleThis is Larry’s recipe, which he developed during their Bed & Breakfast days. Using biscuit mix, rather than bread crumbs, it is loftier, and presents great eye appeal. It was always a hit with their B&B guests, and has the old familiar warmth of the Italian fragrance and flavors that really stimulated our appetites on Christmas morning. Get the recipe here.

Good Potatoes (Hash Brown Casserole)
Hashbrown Casserole with Chicken Soup and Corn FlakesTalk about wonderfully flavorful comfort food for those cold winter mornings! Using frozen hash brown potatoes, chicken soup, sour cream and cheese, topped with corn flake cereal, this dish is too simple for the wonderful aromas it creates. It can be prepared the night before, covered and refrigerated until morning! This is one of our favorites, and the entire family has delighted at this dish for many Christmas mornings. Get the recipe here.

Walton House Orange French Toast
pix-2008-walton-house-orange-french-toastLarry delighted a great many B&B guests with this delightful breakfast! It was the favorite of a lot of returning guests. We were amazed at how many people would remember exactly what they had eaten on a prior visit, and asked him to fix it again! The French toast in poached over medium low heat, and served upside down on a garnish of raspberry sauce, sprinkled with powered cinnamon-sugar, and topped with whipped cream. Get the recipe here.

Carrots, Potatoes and Onions
Fried Carrots, Potatoes & OnionsThis is a very simple, but comforting, dish that can be assembled very quickly, and with very little fuss, left on the stove top to cook over medium heat. The dish only needs to be turned over once when the bottom layer is cooked through and begins filling your home with delicious aromas. Originally this was fried in bacon grease for extra flavor, and has long been a long time family favorite. Get the recipe here.

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake (Monkey Bread)
Christmas Morning Coffee CakeOur family has enjoyed this Monkey Bread recipe several different times at Christmas; so much so that our granddaughters dubbed it Christmas Morning Coffee Cake. But, it would be a nice breakfast surprise any time! Simple to assemble and bake, it will become a favorite in your family, too. We’ve seen a lot of variations of this, but find that we keep coming back to this version. Caution….do not try to put more than the number of rolls called for in this recipe, as they may spillover while rising. Here’s our recipe.

Pitch-in dinners are a fun way to share togetherness and fellowship with friends and family, and you can kick up the fun factor by making it a themed pitch-in. Make it an “Appetizers Only” party, Munchies Only, with dips and things to dip into them, “Some like it HOT,” featuring spicy dishes, Hot Casseroles Only, Cold Salads Only, or, “How Sweet it is!” desserts only. Here are some dishes, with links to our recipes, that you can pass along as ideas.

Appetizers Only
Sweet Swedish Meatballs
Cheese and Sweet Pickles
Breaded Mushrooms
Honey Roasted Cipollini Onions

Munchies Only
Rye Bread with Dill Dip
Herb Oil Fried Zuchinni with Ranch Dip
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Stuffed Baby Portobello Mushrooms

“Some like it HOT”
Campfire Chili
Gene Vaughn’s 2-Alarm Chili
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Peppercorn Encrusted Roast Chicken

Hot Casseroles Only
Creamy Four Cheese Macaroni
Orange & Gold Potatoes au Gratin
Sour Cream and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Cold Salads Only
Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
Sweet and Sour Yellow Beets
Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad
Green and Gold Pea Salad

How Sweet it is! desserts
Peach Cobbler
Butternut Cream Pie
Gooey Butter Cake
Pear Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Have fun with your pitch-in dinners! Select a theme and see how much more fun the party is when you elevate it to a whole new level. And, be sure to let us know how your idea worked out!

If your family or friends are planning a holiday season pitch-in dinner where the meat is already planned, you need to be able to pull out a few ideas for side dishes that can go together easily, have great eye appeal, and deliver with flavors as good as the dish looks. Celebrate the casserole, hero of overly busy homemakers for centuries! Here are some carry-in ideas to help get you started.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Baked Macaroni and CheeseThis is a recipe by Alton Brown that we adapted to fit our family’s preferences. Alton’s recipe calls for Panko bread crumbs for the topping, which we don’t always have on hand. We usually make coarsely ground bread crumbs from any crusty bread we have around, such as French or Italian bread or baguettes. You can find our recipe here.

Cornbread Casserole
Cornbread CasseroleThis side is a bread accompaniment that fits right in with any meal, whether it is a holiday gathering, a family dinner, or a camp out. The cornbread casserole is likely as time tested as any dish we could name. This simple recipe uses a boxed mix, is quick to assemble and cook, and yet, it is one of the best comfort foods you can add to any meal. You can find our recipe here.

Orange & Gold Potatoes au Gratin
Orange and Gold Potato CasseroleThis is an eye-catching dish that always pleases, with color to provide the visual “pop,” and the lusciousness of the waxy Yukon Gold potato combined with the silkiness of the sweet potato. They are layered with ricotta or cottage cheese, and your preference of Romano cheese (creamy), Asiago cheese (saltier), or Parmesan cheese (salty and nutty). You can find our recipe here.

Sour Cream and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Horseradish and sour cream potatoesMashed potatoes are one of the most beloved dishes for pitch-ins, often with two or three versions making an appearance. This variation stands out because of its eye-catching silky finish derived from using red or gold potatoes, and pairs very well with brown gravies and sauces due to a hint of horseradish. You can find our recipe here.

Creamy Four Cheese Macaroni
Four Cheese MacaroniOne of America’s favorite dishes, this recipe is adapted from “The Best of Cooking Light,” and is one of Lea’s favorite recipes. In fact, she said this cheese combination of Fontina, Parmesan, extra-sharp Cheddar, and Velveeta, is one of the best tasting she has ever made. If you like mac ‘n cheese, we think you will really like this recipe! Find it here.

Classic Cranberry Salad
Lea Mixing Cranberry SaladLarry’s mother, Marjorie, always made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It is so delicious with turkey! We enjoy it mostly with the turkey sandwiches the day after the holiday! Give cranberries a ride in the food processor, add sugar and orange, marshmallows and nuts to create a chilled salad that is even better the day after. You can find our recipe here.

Casseroles fit the pitch-in bill because now there are portable carriers that can be heated or cooled, as appropriate, to keep your food in the food safety zone until service. At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes, according to foodsafety.gov. Check it out, to keep your food safer. And, share with us your comments, thoughts, and favorite recipes, to be shared with others. Best regards from our kitchen to yours for the holiday season!

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