A Top Ten Feel Good List: Cooking and Favorite Recipes

What makes you feel good?

To help guide and happy and healthy 2011, I am recommending that you make a top ten list of things that make you feel good — really good. By a simple awareness of those things that make you feel great, you will be more likely to make time for these activities, people and behaviors (and squash those things that make you feel really bad!). It’s a theory anyway…..

This week, I’m sharing a few of things that keep my life happy, healthy and in balance — in hopes of inspiring a few thoughts of your own.

On Monday, I confided my affection for music and Michael Jackson, and yesterday it was all about books. Today – I’m sharing my love for cooking. Along with a few of my favorite recipes of the year.


I know some people get stressed out when they walk near a kitchen, whereas I generally find cooking both therapeutic and enjoyable. Of course, I willingly admit, on nights when I have to get a healthy meal on the table before soccer practice or a tennis match, cooking isn’t always a zen-like experience. But when I have a little more time, cooking is an expression of creativity and a method for relaxation. When the meal turns out splendidly, eating is the proverbial icing on the cake.

To celebrate cooking, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite new recipes of the year.


I made this asparagus, spinach and and leek soup just after Rob, my spouse, had surgery this year. But it has since turned out to be a family favorite.

After eating my half brother’s white chili in Nashville this Fall, I was inspired to find a recipe of my own. And I found a wonderful one — on Kitchen Simplicity.


I try to sneak in vegetarian meals when I can, and I’ve been experimenting with new and interesting ways to prepare tofu. This recipe for vegan tofu enchiladas, from Happy Healthy Life, is healthy and yummy. Even the little guy loves the “meat” in this dish.

Sometimes, learning how to prepare a dish can lead to loving it.


I am a bit of a leek freak, and this chicken recipe with pancetta and thyme by Jamie Oliver is an all-time favorite – super easy and leek-icous!

My friend Jen made this fabulous chicken-berry salad one night and now our family is hooked. And she found the recipe in Better Homes and Garden while waiting at a doctor’s office (I’m glad she snuck it out of there!).


I’m a big fan of the “other white meat” because I often make a number of easy, healthy dishes with pork tenderloin. My friend Lisa shared this recipe for fennel-crusted pork loin that is divine. Found in Real Simple magazine, the recipe is all about saving time and effort – and that fennel does something magical while it’s cooking. (Note: I substitute other root vegetable(s) for the pears).


I make fish dishes all the time, and I generally make things up as I go, all depending on what fish looks freshest at Reel Foods. As I cook, I don’t follow instructions or write anything down. One of my favorites of the year falls into this category, inspired by Gail, a former high school classmate. It’s a seared ahi tuna, marinated in sesame oil, soy, lime juice, garlic, ginger and chopped green onion. Served with Asian slaw, this one is to die for! (Note: I have substituted less expensive albacore for ahi, and it’s still good!).

If a recipe is a must have, Cooking Light’s arctic char with cilantro yogurt sauce is delicious, healthy and super easy. (Note: I substitute salmon as arctic char is rarely available in my region of the country).


I have nearly the full collection of Jamie Oliver recipes, but I found a recipe for sizzling beef with scallions and black bean sauce online. Though this one takes a little time to chop, it’s easy to prepare and loaded with flavor.  (Note: I added chopped asparagus for some added greenery).


Hands down, my favorite dessert of the year happens to be the healthiest one I made (never thought I’d say that!). Sonja and Alex, who blog at A Couple Cooks, provided this wonderful recipe for pumpkin parfaits. (Note: I substitute caramelized pecans for the granola because it’s quicker and easier and still tastes great).

What’s your favorite recipe of the year? I would love to make it!

Melinda Hinson