Wow, it’s been three years for ‘La Bella Vita Cucina as of this past October, and here we are once again at the end of another year!  Time truly does pass by quickly, doesn’t it?  I know that all of us in the blogging world enjoy looking back at our original blog posts and seeing how our blogs have ‘evolved’ over time.  I know that ‘la bella vita’ has certainly transformed since it’s beginning in 2008.  And what a unique and wonderful community of friends I’ve made in these three years!

This end-of-the-year post is my annual compilation of your ‘favorites’ that you’ve commented on the most and have also prepared in your own kitchens (the ultimate compliment).  I have to agree with you, these are wonderful recipes, with some that were entirely new and some that are tried and true family recipes.  I hope you enjoy this ensemble of good eats from 2011.

January, 2011‘s chill of winter, as usual, always presents opportunities to heat up the oven to prepare delicious recipes.  For us, this oven-baked pork roast created by the late Craig Claiborne back in the 70’s when my passion for cooking sprouted, is simply perfect.  Dripping in a garlic-thyme-lemon-olive oil marinade, this Roast Pork with Garlic and Thyme never fails to warm us up with super flavor!


In February, 2011 we were still experiencing some serious winter weather here in the South.  However, since winter is the premier, peak growing season for citrus I created this special Italian Blood Orange Polenta Olive Oil Cake with a sweet mascarpone filling, then drizzled with honey.  This is a less sweet and heavier-crumb cake that is perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea any time of the day.

For March, 2011 there were two recipes that tied in popularity with you!  I think my readers have some serious sweet teeth!  First, for breakfast or brunch, I created a decadent Raspberry and Italian Mascarpone Cheese Stuffed French Toast.  It tastes as wonderful as it looks!  The second sweet treat is a ‘lite’ version of Luscious Lemon Cake with Limoncello Cream Icing!  Yumminess with less guilt!  You loved both of these recipes!
In April, 2011 the most popular recipe was another one of my creations that is super easy to make and definitely a diet-buster!  Farfalle Carbonara with Spring Peas is this creamy pasta dish with loads of cheese and cream to make it totally blissful!
In May, 2011 I decided to make my own balsamico vinaigrette for a Fresh Spring Salad with Strawberries.  It is just wonderful and I’m grateful for Larry over at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings for trying this salad and vinaigrette and for confirming how flavorful it is!   Even my ranch-dressing-only husband enjoyed it!

In June, 2011 you’d probably find me frequenting our local farmer’s market for fresh, local produce that wasn’t growing in my garden on the acreage.  I have absolutely no berry plants, so I always buy locally grown berries for a more intense level of flavor.  You loved this Blackberry Cobbler with Sweet, Tender Biscuits.  This is the quintessential summer dessert!


During July, 2011 I traveled to Iowa for my annual summer visit with my parents and other family.  I brought a huge box of perfectly vine-ripe tomatoes for everyone to enjoy.  My mother used some in a delicious batch of cold Gazpacho that was thoroughly enjoyed during the heat of those summer days!


In the continuing heat of August, 2011 my husband and I escaped to spend a few days in the cooler mountains of North Carolina where we enjoyed some recipes that utilized minimal amounts of heat for preparation.  While there I made this Panzanella Salad with Bacon, Tomato, and Basil.  This salad is outstanding!
In September, 2011 the Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake was not only a chilled sweet treat in the midst of an intense summer heat, but it was gorgeous just to look at too!  This cheesecake didn’t last long at all!  After all, who doesn’t love the combination of lemons and raspberries?
For October, 2011 I shared my delicious Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries and Grapes.  The dried red cranberries and red onion add a lovely crimson hue for autumn color.  Red grapes can be used instead of green grapes to add even more red if you like.  I know there are a million recipes for chicken salad, but this one is really a winner!  Thanks to those of you who made this chicken salad for writing to me and letting me know how you liked it too.
In November, 2011 I discovered a wonderful little treat that everyone loved.  These little Nutella and Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites are a new find and a true keeper in my family!  It seems that just reading and saying “Nutella” strikes a most happy note in all of us!
And lastly for December, 2011 this is my family’s most cherished holiday recipe, Tortellini in Brodo (Broth).  We make nearly 2,000 hand-made tortellini for every major holiday throughout the year.  I couldn’t imagine Italian life without these delicate little stuffed pastas to enjoy and share with family and close friends in celebration of Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!
It has been a pleasure for me to be able to come into your computer screens, tablets and cell phones with posts about great food, healthy gardening, restaurant reviews, and fun stories and photos while on the road traveling!  I have valued all of your friendships, recipes, stories, and inspiration.  So heres a big cheers to another fun, delicious, and inspirational year of blogging together in 2012!