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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Balsamic Chicken

I make chicken breast a lot in our home, so whenever I can find a way to "jazz it up" a little, I try it out! This Balsamic Chicken has become a fast favorite and I usually serve it with flavored rice.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, sugar, garlic and Italian seasoning in a bowl, place the chicken breasts in the marinade and marinate for 10 minutes on each side (or longer if desired)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Place the chicken in the heated pan and cook until they start to brown. and are no longer pink inside (about 7 minutes per side). Pour the marinade into the skillet *** and cook until it thickens slightly, turning the breasts once or twice, about 5 minutes.

*** Because I'm a total germ-o-phobe when it comes to raw meats, I typically make double the amount of marinade, setting one aside for this point. To clarify, I would marinade the chicken in one "batch" then toss that batch and then pour the fresh marinade in the pan to ensure that raw juices aren't touching my cooked meat. The original recipe does not call for that, again, I'm just a germ-o-phobe.

Green Beans with Shallot Butter

These are another holiday favorite in my home. They are very flavorful and are sure to get even the kids in your house to eat their greens :) 


3 lbs green beans
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots (we've used green onions when we couldn't find shallots and they work great as well)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


In a small skillet, melt 1/4 cup of the butter with olive oil over medium heat.
Add shallots and cook for 7-9 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Stir in remaining butter, salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Cook green beans uncovered in a large pot of boiling water 5-7 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl.
Add shallot butter and parsley and toss to coat.
Garnish with toasted almonds if desired, and serve.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

I made these mashed potatoes for our Christmas dinner this past year with my husband's side of the family. They were a huge hit and I got quite a few compliments! Creamy, flavorful and delicious, these are definitely not boring mashed potatoes!!!

5 pounds red potatoes, cut into chunks (leave skins on!)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used paste)
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of butter
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot of slightly salted boiling water, cook the potatoes, garlic and bouillon until potatoes are tender but firm (about 15 minutes). Drain, reserving water. In a separate large bowl, mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.
Transfer the potato mixture in to your slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 2-3 hours. Just before serving, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Better Butter

My mom has been making this healthier form of butter forever. The best part about this butter is that it's not only healthier than regular butter, but it's also tastier! Believe me, after you make this butter, you'll be having buttered toast and bagels for the better parts of your mealtimes ;) 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons instant non fat dry milk
2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together butter, oil and dry milk in a large bowl.
Melt salt in hot water and then add to the other ingredients.
Blend everything together until smooth (little lumps are fine!)
Freeze overnight (or until solid) and then transfer to the fridge.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Party Perfect Ham

My beautiful mother in law with the ham I made a couple years ago for Thanksgiving.

This is our staple meat for Christmas and Easter. This ham is delicious and flavorful with a trademark sweetness. It also has a really fun presentation which makes it a colorful addition for your holiday spread.


  • 1 fully cooked boneless ham, about 10 pounds
  • Whole cloves
  • 1 can (12 oz.) Ginger Ale (or beer, your choice)
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons dry mustard (I've used wet in a pinch and it works!)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestshire sauce
  • 1 can (1 lb.) pineapples round sliced (drain)
  • Candied red maraschino cherries
  • Red seedless grapes
  1. Place ham on rack in shallow roasting pan. Score ham in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Insert a whole clove in the center of each diamond and pour your ginger ale (or beer) over the ham.
  2. Roast in oven at 325 degrees or until diamonds begin to open up.
  3. Combine brown sugar, mustard, apple juice and Worcestshire sauce in a small saucepan; heat to bubbling.
  4. Spoon part of mixture over ham; arrange pineapple slices on top and spoon more glaze over.
  5. Roast 30 minutes longer spooning remaining glaze over, or until ham is fully heated.
  6. Place ham on serving platter and insert cherries in pineapple slices. Garnish platter with bunches of grapes.
** I like to add another can of pineapple slices to serve alongside the ham because it's really delicious to eat together.

Rachel's Tomato Basil Soup

This delicious tomato basil soup has become a staple in our family menu. It makes for great leftovers for lunches, and I usually pair it with buttered toast and a Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Almonds.

(found on

  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (11.5 ounce) can tomato-vegetable juice cocktail
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, vegetable juice, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. At this point, you may puree the soup if you wish. Add the cream and butter; return to medium-low heat, and stir until butter is melted. Serve immediately

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast

This is a time tested family favorite. My mom would always make this delicious, tender pot roast for Sunday afternoon company and it has always been a crowd pleaser.

3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (3 to 4) pound boneless beef rump roast, brisket or shoulder
1/2 cup of water or beef broth.  (I use water with 1 beef bouillon cube but you can also just use water and it is just as good!)
Put vegetables in bottom of Crock Pot.  Rub salt and pepper on both sides of meat, then place in pot.  Add liquid.  Cover, cook on Low 10 to 12 hours (High 5 to 6 hours).  Makes 12 to 14 servings.
If you have a 5 and 1/2 quart unit, you may cook a 4-5 lb roast if desired.  Add listed amounts of vegetables and cook as directed.