Favorite Recipes in 2020

In the past year or so, Rob and I have been cooking from scratch so much more than we ever had before. During the quarantine and months at home, we kicked up our cooking and baking to a whole new level and haven’t looked back! We’ve eaten basically every single breakfast, lunch, and dinner from home since mid-March, and while at times it’s a little exhausting to cook yet another meal, for the most part, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and have embraced it. Granted, we don’t have any kiddos to feed (though we did have three amazing temporary roommates for several months in the middle of the pandemic, hence our beloved cooking challenges!), and we both already work from home and enjoy cooking together… so I fully realize this gives us a definite advantage!
After cooking hundreds of meals during this interesting time of life, I’ve really enjoyed making detailed and categorized lists of our very favorite tried and true recipes (broken down into categories for easy meal planning). We, of course, adore trying new recipes and adding them into our repertoire! The recipes shared below are ones that have been in pretty constant rotation over the past few months in our household that get rave reviews. You’ll notice many of them come from the same source (hello, we adore Half Baked Harvest), and this definitely isn’t a comprehensive list of all of our Shaul family favorites, for sure. I’ve also had a lot of fun doing basic food styling and photography of our meals and these recipes, which has been a fun little addition to our days at home!
Honestly, creating and sharing this blog post of recipes and recipe links is more for me! I wanted to be sure to have an online record of many of our favorite recipes to quickly and easily refer back to. These are tried and true favorites of ours that we repeatedly make and thoroughly love, and I hope you and your family enjoy them just as much as we do!
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feta toast
Inspired by our second anniversary trip to Charleston’s The Daily, whipped feta toast has become a staple in our house!
In a food processor or blender, whip 8 ounces of feta cheese with 3 ounces of softened cream cheese. Add in 2 or so tablespoons of olive oil plus a dash of salt and pepper.
Toast some really good bread (we love rosemary parmesan bread!), spread the whipped feta on top, crack some black pepper, top with torn fresh basil, and drizzle honey on the toast. Delicious and easy!
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buttermilk pancakes
Rob’s mom’s recipe for buttermilk pancakes is simply heavenly and barely takes any more work than making pancakes from a boxed mix – but these pancakes definitely taste one hundred times better! We’ve been making them every other weekend for an indulgent and easy breakfast treat.
Mix together:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon of melted butter or oil
1 cup buttermilk
These make THE best pancakes (the buttermilk is the key!), and you can add chocolate chips or blueberries to the batter and/or maple syrup or blueberry syrup on top. This easy recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, and we’ll never make boxed pancakes again!
avocado feta toast with a poached egg
This is another favorite breakfast! During quarantine, we had a random goal to learn how to poach eggs, something we’d never successfully done before. We used this recipe from Bon Appetit (I mean, how can you not love a recipe called ‘how to poach an egg with confidence and grace’?!), and it works to a T!
Toast a slice of your favorite bread, spread it with half of an avocado, crumble some feta cheese, top it with a runny poached egg, drizzle it with olive oil, and then crack some sea salt and crushed red pepper on top for the perfect breakfast – or lunch!
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We are huge fans of basically all of Elisabeth and Butter‘s recipes around here, and these blueberry muffins are no exception! I omit the lavendar. The muffins are easy and wonderful, and they also freeze beautifully.
As far as breakfast foods go, we also love and repeatedly make Elisabeth and Butter’s:

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homemade pimento cheese

How have I lived in the south almost the entirety of my life and never made pimento cheese?! I finally made it this summer for a little happy hour on the deck, and it was so simple and so good! I used this pimento cheese recipe and loved the end result so much – the jalapeno gives it the perfect kick. Am I real southerner now?!

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pimento cheese shrimp and grits with bacon

Similarly, we had never made shrimp and grits before! We decided to make them as southern and delicious as possible, and it was a breeze to make this meal – maybe 20 minutes total. We stirred in a large scoop of that homemade pimento cheese to make this incredible pimento cheese shrimp and grits with bacon… heavenly!! We will absolutely be making this again.

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Thai black pepper honey chicken

Everything that we make from Half Baked Harvest is pure gold, and it’s so true for this recipe! We love Asian foods and bold flavors, and this Thai black pepper honey chicken topped with cashews and basil and served with coconut rice is such a hit in our house. Better than takeout – and probably takes less time, too!

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corn and bacon pasta

As soon as I saw this recipe in an issue of Southern Living earlier this summer, I knew I had to make it! I adore using the freshest, most in-season produce, and local corn and fresh basil had both been calling my name. This Southern Living corn and bacon pasta with basil and parmesan cheese is amazing, and I’m such a fan!

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spicy Asian chicken lettuce wraps
We make these spicy Asian chicken lettuce wraps all the time using this tried and true recipe. These are so addictive and so satisfying – and so easy, too! We omit the mushrooms completely and add in more of the veggies. This is a definite hit in our house and in our families!
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Asian chicken meatballs
This recipe is super simple and really amazing, and we love Half Baked Harvest’s sticky ginger sesame Asian meatballs alongside roasted broccoli and rice. There’s so much flavor, and it comes together really seamlessly, as well. I also think it’s perfect to bring to friends with new babies or when having friends over for dinner.
coq au vin chicken meatballs with mashed potatoes
We also love, love, love Half Baked Harvest’s coq au vin chicken meatballs! Every time we’ve cooked this, it’s been the biggest hit – both for the two of us and also for friends (when we used to have dinner parties… I can’t wait for that day again!). It’s a fairly easy recipe (the title says “thirty minutes” in it), and the results are outstanding. It smells heavenly, too! We always omit the mushrooms and make sure to add in more carrots and onions. This recipe can easily be doubled for larger groups, and I get so many compliments when I make it.
Clearly we LOVE Half Baked Harvest, and if there is one cookbook I can implore you to add to your collection, it’s this one! Our favorite recipes from this cookbook also include:
cacio e pepe brussels sprouts
sesame orange chicken
pad see ew
sausage, spinach, and cheese stuffed shells
Thai basil beef with peanut salsa
lemon basil pasta with balsamic brussels sprouts
carne asada tacos with pineapple salsa
coconut rice
jalapeno garlic butter shrimp
broccoli cheddar soup topped with seasoned pretzels
creamy chicken gnocchi soup
honey brie grilled cheese
balsamic peach and brie tart
coconut banana muffins
swirled banana chocolate bundt cake

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Thai peanut chicken with mango salsa

We first made this utterly amazing recipe during our third cooking challenge, and it is amazing. Half Baked Harvest recipes really are incredible, y’all! This Thai peanut chicken with mango salsa and coconut rice is filled with so much insane flavor, and every bite is perfection. I highly, highly recommend!

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chicken tinga tacos with pineapple jalapeno salsa

And again, this recipe is from Half Baked Harvest’s newest cookbook and is really the only way I’ll eat chicken in Mexican food (I just prefer Mexican food with ground beef so much more, usually). This chicken tinga recipe is out of this world good (with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce combined with enchilada sauce), and topping it with refreshing pineapple jalapeno salsa (and a homemade margarita with a chili lime salted rim!) knocks this recipe out of the park.

Greek gyros with homemade tzatziki

We love Greek food in our house (I studied abroad there, afterall!), and Greek gyros or Greek gyro bowls are an old standby and also such a hit. Sometimes we get sliced lamb from Trader Joe’s, sometimes we use rotisserie chicken, and sometimes we air fry chicken thighs with Greek seasoning, and no matter which protein option you choose, you can’t go wrong. You can do a base of lettuce, grains (we prefer white or brown rice), or a warm naan, top with the protein of your choice with ample Greek seasoning (oregano, lemon pepper, garlic, and salt), and then add feta and your favorite veggies (cucumbers, red peppers, and olives and tomatoes if you like those). And, of course, homemade tzatziki!

To make homemade tzatziki (way better than store bought!), simply combine a container of Greek yogurt with grated or finely diced cucumber (remove the watery center of the cucumber first with a soon). Stir in a drizzle of olive oil, fresh dill, some garlic, a dash of onion powder, and some salt and pepper. Stir and let chill so the flavors really meld together.

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chicken pot pie with sage

All winter, we made this cozy, warm, mouthwatering meal. It’s an elevated chicken pot pie with the freshest veggies, a comforting sauce, and topped with flaky puff pastry (use the Trader Joe’s brand!). Half Baked Harvest’s chicken pot pie with sage is a constant hit in our house and with many friends who’ve enjoyed it with us!

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lemon ricotta pasta

This is a summertime meal in a bowl! It’s a light, refreshing summer pasta recipe that we love and have had on repeat – lemon ricotta pasta (and topped with shrimp in this picture). It’s super simple, comes together quickly, and it light yet filling all in one. You’ll love it!

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I can’t count how many times I’ve baked Elisabeth and Butter’s peanut butter dark chocolate chip cookies topped with sea salt. They are devoured instantly in our home and with our family and friends! The recipe is easy and straightforward, and the cookies melt in your mouth. I love topping them with a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt both before and immediately after baking. Heavenly!

Elisabeth and Butter’s desserts are the ones I bake most often, and they are always such a hit around here! I regularly bake her:

oatmeal cream pies (WOW.)

funfetti blondies

cake batter cookies

Another favorite Elisabeth and Butter recipe is this fresh strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting – yum! I’ve made it a few times over the year, and it such a stunner of a cake… and the strawberry cream cheese icing is particularly heavenly.

blueberry blackberry peach crisp

Is there anything more summery and satisying than a blueberry blackberry peach crisp?! I love, love, love using local produce – the very freshest and most juicy fruits! – to make summery desserts like crumbles and cobblers and crisps. This one is so good and so easy… and best enjoyed with a large scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top of a warm bowl of fruit crisp!

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This black bottom peanut butter mousse pie from Epicurious is such a hit in our home! I’ve made it a couple times now, and it is so, so delicious. Rob and I love chocolate and peanut butter together, and one of our favorite local spots, Hayes Barton, makes a mile-high peanut butter mousse pie, much like this one. I set out on a quest to replicate it at home as best as possible, and this very highly rated recipe hits the spot in every way. From the graham cracker crust to the rich layer of chocolate ganache on the bottom to the light yet lush layer of peanut butter mousse… it’s heavenly. I like to top ours off with drizzles of melted dark chocolate and flakes of Maldon sea salt!

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salted dark chocolate peanut butter blondie brownies

This is another winning dessert from Half Baked Harvest, the salted dark chocolate peanut butter blondie brownies. Can you tell we love chocolate and peanut butter around here? This is irresistible and so decadent – and a crowd favorite!

We also really love the Half Baked Harvest crinkle top chocolate peanut butter skillet blondies – very similar and equally amazing!

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grilled peaches with homemade honey vanilla ice cream

This dessert just screams summer to me! Grilled peaches with honey vanilla ice cream is the epitome of summer in the south – and so easy to come together. Spray your ripe peaches (cut in half and pit removed) with Pam, grill for a couple minutes, and then top with homemade honey vanilla ice cream for the perfect summer treat!

We have a Cuisinart ice cream maker that we use… way too often or at least a couple times a week! Here the basic homemade vanilla ice cream recipe that we use and LOVE:

1 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

2 cups of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract

Combine the first three ingredients til sugar is dissolved, then stir in the last two ingredients til fully mixed. Refrigerate for a couple hours and then pour into frozen ice cream mixer for 20 minutes.


I hope this roundup of some of our favorite recipes become some of your favorites, too! We’ve been so inspired in the kitchen lately and have had a lot of fun together finding, cooking/baking, and enjoying so many recipes that are so creatively crafted by some incredible cooks and bakers.

I’d love to hear from you: are there any meals or recipes that particularly stand out that you’re adding to your meal planning list this week?!

4th of July Inspiration

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The 4th of July rivals Christmas in terms of excitement and anticipation for me, and it’s one of my two favorite holidays! There’s so much nostalgia and memorable traditions in this festive day, and I look forward to it each and every year. For me, the 4th of July typically means an annual trek to the town in Ohio where both of my parents were raised and where my grandparents are from (my parents are high school sweethearts!). For 30 of my 33 4ths of July, I have spent this holiday in Ohio, and it’s one I look forward to with so much eagerness, as it typically means a family reunion – and on both sides of the family! Clearly this year will be a bit different, as we’re not traveling nor hosting a party, but Rob and I still plan on enjoying the day in our own simple way.

The 4th of July, to me, is typically filled with so many of my favorite things and beloved traditions: donning my favorite red, white, and blue outfit (much more likely to be blue and white, for me!), gathering with a plethora of family members for the annual neighborhood parade (which is far superior to the parade that Washington, DC does, I promise – this town takes great pride in their 4th of July celebrations, truly!), catching up with family and friends that we haven’t seen in far too long, hopping from one family cookout to the next (we eat so many burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips, and red, white, and blue desserts in one day!), running around in the yard and playing games outside, catching fireflies with my cousins, and capping off the day with the town’s fireworks. I am exceedingly grateful for these family traditions and happy memories, and I love reminiscing on years past while looking forward to the upcoming 4th of July celebrations. It’s safe to say I will miss all of this in 2020 (we were actually supposed to be celebrating my cousin’s wedding that day!), and I dearly hope 2021 is filled with all of this again.

As you may have guessed by now, blue and white are the most prominent colors in our home, in my wardrobe, in the weddings I plan, and on and on. My alma mater is even UNC Chapel Hill, home of Caroline blue and white! I have always gravitated towards these colors, usually with a pop of coral thrown in, so the 4th of July, in terms of design and aesthetics, comes very naturally to me. I try to be sure to add in enough red to make our decor, table settings, and desserts patriotic enough, and my standby blue and white is always prevalent! Here is a roundup of some patriotic 4th of July inspiration: in the form of table setting inspiration, festive desserts to bake and enjoy, and exterior decor, mainly the American flag and my favorite bunting.

So look through your tablecloths and napkins, find some red, white, and blue accents, add in fresh flowers in white (these are from our yard!), incorporate colorful berries, bake festive desserts that can easily incorporate the flavors of summer and colors of this holiday, and decorate your house in whatever way you wish as you celebrate this special holiday!

table setting inspiration

festive desserts

strawberry-blueberry crumble/cobbler

Smitten Kitchen’s strawberry cake

Elisabeth & Butter’s fresh strawberry layer cake with strawberry cream cheese icing

patriotic fruit pizza

patriotic exteriors

How are you spending the 4th of July this year?! Do you have any nostalgic memories of the 4th from years past? I’d love to hear!