Top 12 Recipes of 2012 – My Picks!


Hi there! I hope you had the merriest of holidays! :)

This past week has been the epitome of relaxation. Normally our trips to visit Ben’s parents in DC are go-go-go (which, as an eternal sight-seer, I adore) but 3 out of our 5 days there were spent hanging around the house with the family, sipping hot chocolate by the fire, and reading my brains out (I’ll fill you in on my favorite books on Friday!)

You know what? It was NICE. Nice not having an agenda, nice not worrying about which museums we had to hit before leaving, and nice knowing there was nothing to do, but do nothing at all. I can’t tell you the last time I took a trip and felt that way! Ok, well, Jamaica where there were no worries, but even there I spent several days worrying about how we were going to get to Rick’s Cafe…which we never did. Damned unlimited rum punch!

Anyways, that said, no trip to our nation’s capitol would be complete without a little sightseeing, so we humored my insatiable, inner-tourist and had a couple of days filled with fun, only-found-in-DC activities, too. I’ll fill you in later this week!

Before we get back to regularly scheduled programming, I wanted to feature the Top 12 Recipes of 2012, as chosen by me!

In case you missed it, a few days ago I featured the Top 12 Recipes of 2012 based on YOUR clicks, pins, and shares, and while many of those recipes are for sure my faves, there are even more yummy, mouthwatering, thirst-quenching recipes that didn’t make the list. Here they are, in no particular order. I hope you enjoy!


Fresh Apple Cake

I stand by the statement I made when first posting the recipe for Fresh Apple Cake – not only is this my favorite apple recipe of all time, this is one of my favorite RECIPES of all time. Period! I have never had a more moist, or perfectly sweet cake. You will adore this yummy treat, year-round.



Baked Chicken Caesar Chalupas

Created out of necessity, Baked Chicken Caesar Chalupas were one of my family’s favorite appetizers to order at one of our favorite restaurants in town. When they took them off the menu, I took to re-creating them in my kitchen. They are finger-lickin’ good, filling, quick, and easy to whip up.



Dad’s Killer Beergaritas

Killer…just KILLER! Don’t wait for the summertime to whip up a batch of these ultra-refreshing drinks that pack a punch. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’!



Thai Turkey Burgers with Peanut Sauce

With a peanut sauce that’s so good it’d make shoe leather appetizing, Thai Turkey Burgers with Peanut Sauce are a veggie-packed, lean-yet-filling dinner that Ben and I both adore.



French Onion Soup Potstickers

Chewy, crispy, creamy, and PACKED with French Onion flavor, French Onion Soup Potstickers are one of my favorite foods evereverevereverever. If I remember correctly, I think I ate the entire batch in a day in a half. Whoops.



Thai Fried Quinoa

A dish that Ben wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, Thai Fried Quinoa is one of my favorite ways to use quinoa. Creamy coconut milk, and sweet pineapple mingle with the flavors of soy and lime for a seriously outrageous meal. This is so, so, so good.



Spaghetti & Meatball Soup

Feel like a kid again while eating Spaghetti & Meatball Soup! This shortcut soup is made with marinara sauce, mini meatballs, and tiny noodles, and feels like a grown-up version of spaghetti-Os. As a frequent S-Os connoisseur in college, though, I can attest to the fact that this soup is much, MUCH better!



Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves

Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves make up for all the dry, tasteless meatloaves we were all forced to eat as kids. I mean, smokey-sweet BBQ sauce? Melty cheddar cheese? Caramelized onions? So much win in such a little package!



Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

Never buy the boxed stuff again! Homemade Cheeseburger Helper was a total win with both Ben and myself. He liked the rib-stickin’ meat and pasta part, I liked the preservative and funky-ingredient-free recipe. Ok, and the rib-stickin’ meat and pasta part.



Caprese Lasagna with Spicy Turkey Sausage

A hit in the summertime, or anytime you need a taste of summer, Caprese Lasagna with Spicy Turkey Sausage is actually really light, and made with a creamy white sauce. Ben flipped for this lasagna. Me too!



Kale Fried Rice

The ingredients sound like they’d be crazy when paired together, but I promise that you will ADORE Kale Fried Rice. Given to me by my sister-in-law, her 3 year old, like myself, gobbles this recipe up.



Cheeseburger Quesadillas

What happens when you have some leftover ground beef to use up? Don’t throw it into the depths of the fridge to be pulled out, un-touched, a week later – mix it with cheeseburger-friendly ingredients then stuff it into the center of a couple quesadillas. You will flip for the yummy flavors in this recipe!



Bonus: Bacon-Wrapped Almond-Stuffed Dates

I am obsessed, obsessedOBSESSED with Bacon-Wrapped Almond-Stuffed Dates. They are the PERFECT mixture of chewy, crunchy, sweet, and savory. They’d be a hit at a New Year’s Eve party, too!


Thank you again for making 2012 such a great year!! :D

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  1. Katie 12.30.2012

    So glad my two absolute favorites made the list. My husband and I both love the Homemade Cheeseburger Helper and Caprese Lasagna.

    We’re both sad it’s not longer tomato season, as we were making the lasagna every other week throughout the summer. So good! Now we’re making the cheeseburger helper regularly. Such a good, and easy, cozy comfort food.

  2. Thanks for so many wonderful recipes! It’s always fun to see what you come up with. I’ve made several dinners from your site and my family has loved each one. Happy New Year!!

  3. Ooooh so happy to see that the French Onion Soup Potstickers made this list. Ever since I first saw the post, it has been on my “to make” list. Now I will definitely need to try them out!

    I might also have to try recreating the Home Made Hamburger Helper and the Caprese Lasagna.

    What a fantastic recap. It’s so great to see what YOUR favourites were seeing as you got to taste them firsthand:) Thanks!

  4. Hollie 12.30.2012

    I’ve been enjoying 10 days off of work and have made 5 new recipes off your blog so far and have three more ready to go! I love how easy, kid friendly and delicious they all are! Thanks so much for your blog and GREAT recipe ideas!

  5. Every single one of those recipes have got me drooling. Must try soon!!

  6. Lauren 12.30.2012

    I absolutely love DC. Have you been in the spring when the Cherry Blossoms bloom? It’s unreal!
    Love all of your recipes, but especially, the top 12. I’m wondering how I missed some of them though. Thai fried quinoa? OMG!

  7. I agree – Thai Fried Quinoa was one of your best. SOOO good!

  8. Jan Romeo 12.30.2012

    I love MANY, MANY of your recipes, but my favorite of the year was Kiwi Mango Quinoa Salad. I ate that a couple of times a week last summer! But I made it with the Wild Rice Quinoa mix that Costco sells (instead of straight quinoa). Thanks for all of your wonderful posts!

  9. I would love to try the kale fried rice recipe. I always hear great things about the health benefits of kale, but have yet to cook with it because for some reason I am a bit intimidated by it. This sounds like a simple recipe that I can try that includes kale. Thanks!

  10. Sue 12.30.2012

    Where is the picture of the Christmas tree taken? I recognized Mount Vernon and the White House but not the lobby with the tree…just curious. Love the recipes! Thank you!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.31.2012

      It’s inside the Willard Hotel, just down the street from the White House! :)

  11. Maria W. 12.30.2012

    I enjoy your posts and can’t wait to feel better so I can try some of these recipes. I really like this site! I’m recovering my back going out—oh-h!! Not exactly how I imagined ringing in the New Year! Happy New Year to all!

  12. Beth 12.30.2012

    baked chicken ceaser chalupas are on our New Years Eve menu!! Happy New Year!!!!

  13. Rebecca 12.30.2012

    I’ve become a follower of your blog in the last year and we have several of your recipes that are now staples in our home!! A couple of them were the ones you mentioned in this post, but seriously we’ve loved almost everything we’ve made from your blog! Thank you so much for the delicious recipes that you’ve given to our family in the past year! We look forward to following you further in 2013! Happy New Year!!!

  14. Are you guys at the Willard hotel in that first picture?? I live right outside of DC and used to go to the Willard for dinner with my family all the time before they closed the restaurant there. Their prime rib was THE BEST EVER and I don’t even like steak. So good! BTW if you weren’t at the Willard you can ignore this comment ;) Haha! Glad you had a wonderful Christmas!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.31.2012

      We are!! We’re obsessed with the Round Robin Bar inside – it was too packed this time to grab a drink though, so we headed over to Old Ebbitt instead. Another fave. :)

  15. Celeste B. 12.31.2012

    The mini cheddar bbq meatloafs are one of my favorites of your recipes. The sauteed onions and cubes of cheese really make the difference.

  16. Thank you for reminding me about some of my own favorites…um, seriously, I could LIVE off those dates!! Better yet, it’s good to see some sure-to-be favorites I have yet to make. Time to add to my to-do list :)

  17. Sara 12.31.2012

    The BBQ cheddar meatloaf is one of my favorite recipes of yours! I was sorting through my stack of printed recipes this weekend and came across the Cheeseburger Helper recipe, decided to try it out that night since I had all the ingredients on hand. It was SO good! Can’t wait to see what you come up with for 2013!

  18. Rose Ann 12.31.2012

    Happy New Year! Thank you for all your amazing recipes, I have made more than I can count and have loved them all! So many I have made over and over and you have helped me add some Chinese to my list of what I can cook! I absolutely love your blog and always look forward to trying your new recipes. I think some of your favorites have missed my list but I will definitely be trying them as well! Safe travels home and a wonderful healthy & happy 2013!!!!!

  19. Joanna Gehrke 12.31.2012

    These are all on my favorite list too- some I still have to make, but that might be just because I can’t stop making the Thai turkey burgers! Thank you for all the recipes! Happy New Year!

  20. Kristin 12.31.2012

    This is off the topic of food, but I LOVE your scarf! I got an awesome navy blue coat for Christmas (this one – but obvs in the navy blue color: and I have no idea what scarf/gloves to pair with it. Any suggestions?!?!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.31.2012

      LOVE that coat! I got the scarf at Gap right before Christmas, and I wear brown leather gloves from Younkers. Warm and cozy!

  21. Kristin 12.31.2012

    Thanks for the tip on the scarf – and for the quick response!! I love IGE for the food, of course, but the fashion is a fun part of your site too!

    ps – My hubby is from Iowa – we love it there!

  22. Joy 12.31.2012

    OMGosh – bacon-wrapped almond-stuffed dates??? WOW!!! I HAVE to try those for sure! Thanks for all the great recipes – Have a happy and healthy New Year!! ;-)

  23. Oh, everything looks really tasty! Keep ’em coming!

  24. I remember lots of these recipes. They look delicious! And wonderful food photography as always :)

  25. Erin 01.01.2013

    I can’t wait to try your potstickers! I’m a huge lover of appetizers and am always trying new ones! Love your recap…hope you had a wonderful new years!

  26. Kristin 01.01.2013

    Oh, also! Mind if I ask where you got your boots?! Super cute!

  27. Stephanie 01.02.2013

    I can’t believe there are some on here that I haven’t tried yet – hope to get to those by the end of the month.
    Also I am surprised that my favorite of 2012 didn’t make either list: Sam’s No.3 Kickin Green Chili! That has become a weekly item in our house.
    Happy new year and looking forward to more of your great recipes in 2013!

  28. Robin 01.02.2013

    I LOVE the Thai Fried Quinoa! It’s in regular menu roation at my house. I’m actually making it tonight!

  29. Megan 01.03.2013

    The Homemade Cheeseburger Helper has transformed this household’s dinners. We eat it every other week it seems! And I recommend it to all my friends as a simple, delicious meal minus all the odd ingredients of the boxed version.

  30. Zuupdesign 01.03.2013

    I am so excited when I accidentally found your blog, all I can think about is to go over with your different content and blog posts. I was looking and on a hunt task for recipes that I think are smart, healthy, and fun. But then, I stumble upon your blog which looks really amazing. I feel like I found a jackpot! You see, I am a health enthusiast because my line of business is into medical stuff. I have a pill dispenser business. Health is always on my mind and I came across your recipe and this is really remarkable. Thank you so much!

  31. […] the most popular here on Iowa Girl Eats in 2012. Stay tuned next week for my picks!**Edited to add: Here are my picks for my favorite recipes of 2012! 12. Homemade Trader Joe’s Chili-Lime Chicken BurgersLean yet moist, Homemade Trader […]

  32. Lily 01.11.2013

    I just made Thai Fried Quinoa the other night and loved it! The pineapple is wonderful in it. Great work!

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