In Real Life, January 2

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Welcome, 2023!! I must say it was quite a year!! Here at Life Love and Good Food, we published (or refreshed) 138 recipes in 2022, completed a redesign of our website, and launched a new email newsletter, all while trying to keep up with a crazy personal life. WHEW!

2023 image for newsletter

While we had planned to do more, I’m just so glad we accomplished what we did and stayed sane in the process! Life can get in the way sometimes, but we made it and we’re excited for all the new things to come in 2023!

The highlights (2022)

  • Work-wise, we completed our website redesign and just couldn’t be happier with the way things have worked out. Our goal was easier navigation for a better user experience — I’d love to hear what you think about the site.
  • Fun-wise, John and I had an amazing Alaskan adventure in August as well as a mini vacation to Sedona, Arizona and Antelope Canyon — so much beauty! If you haven’t been to Alaska, put it on your bucket list! I’m happy to give you some pointers if you do plan to go!
  • We also managed a quick beach trip earlier in the year to Bonita Springs and a long family weekend in Louisville, Kentucky to celebrate John’s 60th birthday!
  • Family-wise, we learned that we are going to be grandparents (again) in 2023! To say we are a bit excited is a gross understatement!

The holidays

I put work on hold and actually unplugged for 2 full weeks to just enjoy the holidays and our family — it was bliss! We celebrated a frigid Christmas Eve with my in-laws and our in town daughter and son-in-law with a brunch complete with country ham, eggs and biscuits, and Cranberry Chistmas Cake.

And, we just kept celebrating right on through Christmas Day with more food and fun. On the 26th, our out of town daughter and her family arrived along with the snow! For our 4-year-old granddaughter, it was just magical!

playing in the snow
Our two daughters and granddaughter — we are blessed!

The funny thing is, it snowed when she was here for Thanksgiving last year, too. She must think Nana and Papa live in the North Pole!

baking cookies with nana

While she was visiting, of course we had to bake a batch of my Vanilla Cookies and decorate them with a FEW sprinkles!

Top 22 for 2022!

It’s always fun to look back and see which recipes our readers were most interested in trying. Some are old favorites (repeats from 2021), still I’m excited to see a few new ones make the list! Without further delay, here’s what you’ve been cooking this past year:

close up shot of hibachi chicken and vegetables on a platter with a serving spoon on the side.

1: Hibachi Chicken

This delicious dinner recipe cooks fast on a Blackstone griddle and disappears even faster! Hibachi chicken served with sautéed vegetables and my addictive Yum Yum sauce is every bit as flavorful as an expensive Japanese steakhouse meal!

a bowl of potato soup on a white plate with crackers to the side and fresh thyme leaves sprinkled on top.

2: Best Potato Soup

This lightened up version of potato soup is one creamy, delicious bowl of comfort food that won’t leave you feeling guilty. Made from scratch and flavored with yellow onions sautéed in butter, my tasty potato soup recipe only takes 30 minutes start to finish!

two racks of smoked baby back ribs in an aluminum pan.

3: Electric Smoker Ribs

Is it really possible to get smoked ribs that are delicious, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone tender in an electric smoker? You betcha! Learn how to make the BEST Electric Smoker Ribs in your own backyard.

a close up shot of a bowl of crockpot broccoli cheddar soup.

4: Crockpot Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Rich and creamy, perfect for a blustery day! Crockpot broccoli cheddar soup is easy to make and packed with veggies and cheese. Enjoy plenty of flavor from just a few simple ingredients!

squares of veggie pizza appetizer on a white platter

5: Crescent Roll Veggie Pizza

Crescent roll veggie pizza is a party staple for good reason! Enjoy a buttery, flaky crust topped with Ranch spread, veggies, and cheddar cheese.

catalina taco salad in a bowl with a fork on a table.

6: Taco Salad with Catalina Dressing

Chopped iceberg lettuce tossed with fresh tomatoes, onions, hot chili beans — and plenty of sharp cheddar cheese — gets tossed with crunchy FRITOS® corn chips and tangy Catalina dressing. Add taco meat and this Taco Salad with Catalina Dressing is a hearty and filling meal!

two new york strip steaks in a cast iron skillet on a wooden table.

7: Pan Seared New York Strip Steak

Want in on the secret to preparing steak at home like those served at fancy steakhouse restaurants? Cooking in cast iron delivers a perfect pan-seared NY Strip Steak every time — without any special marinade and without firing up the grill!

a scoop of chicken salad on a bed of lettuce with Ritz crackers and a lemon wedge on the side.

8: Best Chicken Salad

For the Best Chicken Salad recipe, look no further. Using fresh herbs and lemon juice, this one is easy, creamy, and delicious! Perfect for your next afternoon luncheon or summertime lunch, this easy chicken salad is so good — especially served with buttery crackers and a side of fresh fruit.

close up shot of barbecue sauce slathered country style ribs on a white platter garnished with parsley.

9: Slow Cooker Country Style Ribs

Prep these in just a few minutes, then let your crockpot do the rest! Slow cooker country style ribs are incredibly tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Broil them before serving for extra caramelization.

oven fried okra in a white serving bowl

10: Crunchy Oven Fried Okra

Make this delicious and crunchy Oven-Fried Okra just one time and you may never go back to cooking fried okra on the stove! My “fried” okra recipe uses a fraction of the oil used when pan frying which is an added health benefit!

grilled salmon with brussel sprouts and a baked sweet potato on a white plate

11: Best Grilled Salmon

You, too, can make the absolute BEST Grilled Salmon in foil on the grill. This salmon has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor and is grilled to perfection in just around 15 minutes!

bacon wrapped asparagus bundles in a white baking dish

12: Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

With crispy bacon and a sweet glaze, this oven baked asparagus is heavenly! Bacon wrapped asparagus is the perfect side dish for special occasions. Brush with a sweet brown sugar glaze before baking for caramelized deliciousness!

a bread basket lined with a blue napkin filled with 3-ingredient dinner rolls

13: Quick 3-Ingredient Dinner Rolls

Over the years, these super easy rolls made with mayonnaise have become one of my family’s favorite breads! With just three basic ingredients and ready in about 20-minutes, these Quick 3-Ingredient Dinner Rolls bake up with a light and airy texture.

a plate of savory ricotta scones on a table garnished with fresh herbs

14: Ricotta-Herb Savory Scones

I can’t decide if these should be categorized under scone or biscuit. Either way, these ricotta scones made for a tasty breakfast bread enjoyed out on the patio. Savory scones are light and fluffy with plenty of herb flavor. Serve them with breakfast, weekend brunch, or even in place of dinner rolls! 

shrimp dip with toasted baguette slices around the plate.

15: Cheesy Shrimp Dip

Cheesy Shrimp Dip makes a delicious hot appetizer that your guests will literally devour in seconds! This cream cheese shrimp dip combines three different types of cheese  cream cheese, shredded mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese — with a sautéed shrimp scampi.

cranberry orange bread on a wooden tray with cranberries scattered around.

16: Cranberry Orange Bread

Use sweet oranges and tart cranberries for a bit of freshness in this moist and delicious Cranberry Orange Bread topped with a zesty orange glaze. This easy quick bread recipe is fantastic for breakfast or brunch, or even served as a coffee break snack.

baked quiche in a tart pan

17: California Quiche

California Quiche is a veggie lover’s egg dish with fresh zucchini, red bell peppers, onion, and artichoke hearts. Fresh, cheesy, and delicious, each serving of this yummy vegetable quiche is under 250 calories!

sand tarts on a plate.

18: Sand Tarts

Sand Tarts are tasty little pecan butter cookies coated with powdered sugar. These little walnut-sized cookies are similar to Danish wedding cookies and Mexican wedding cookies. Not overly sweet, they have a dense texture making them perfect to package for gift-giving or cookie swaps.

chicken enchiladas with red sauce and cheese on a white plate

19: Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

These Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas come out of the oven with a slight crunch, which I love! So easy to make, this chicken enchilada recipe is pretty-much fool-proof!

cheesy broccoli rice casserole in a white oval dish with a spoon on a table.

20: Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

This isn’t just any old broccoli casserole recipe! You won’t find things like canned soup or processed cheese products here. Everything is fresh and made from scratch. 

Creamy Spinach & Spaghetti Squash Bake | Life, Love, and Good Food

21: Spinach Spaghetti Squash Bake

My Spaghetti Squash Casserole combines fresh “squaghetti” noodles with sautéed spinach, red bell pepper, and garlic plus three kinds of cheese to create a rich, yet delicate dish.

a plate of smoked chicken wings with carrots and celery in the background

22: Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoking chicken wings makes them tender and juicy on the inside with perfectly crispy skin on the outside. Serve as-is or add your favorite sauce

And that’s a recipe wrap!

Whew! That’s a lot of recipe love! I can’t wait to see what is most popular in 2023. Thanks so much for reading, cooking, and sharing — every share to Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest is very much appreciated!

What would you like to cook this year?

I already have set plans to share new slow cooker recipes in January — and some hearty Super Bowl snacks for the big game — but I’d love to know if you are looking for specific recipes. Comment below this post to let me know what you’d like to see coming on the blog this year!

Inspiration: You have a purpose

No matter what you may be facing in the year ahead, remember that “everything has a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” I’m learning to trust that God has a plan for my life during this specific season, and that everything happens for a reason. I pray that you find your purpose this year, peace, happiness and contentment. As Chuck Swindoll writes:

Mark it down, things do not just happen. Ours is not a random, whistle-in-the-dark universe. There is a God-arranged plan for this world of ours, which includes a specific plan for you. And through every ordinary day and every extraordinary moment, there is a God who constantly seeks you. The God who loves us and redeems us is there.

Thank you for being a faithful reader and supporter of Life Love and Good Food — it really means so much to me as a small business!

Happy New Year, my friends!

Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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  1. Love, love your new newsletter Sheila and I love that quote, Chuck Swindoll is one of my favorites!! Happy New Year my friend! Here’s to more downtime, great recipes and friendship and family in abundance!

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