Worrying about the big holiday meal has apparently been passed on to me from many generations before. My mother, grandmother, and aunts started planning their holiday dishes far in advance. Everything had to be exceptional, and it seemed to take them days to cook and prepare for the feast. Don’t get me wrong; they did a fine job of it too! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had any better meals than those in my memories.
I am still going to start planning weeks in advance but after years of fretting I have figured out that every dish does not have to be painstakingly hard or time-consuming. Nevertheless, it can be every bit as delicious.
These days there seem to be fewer casseroles on holiday tables compared to years past. I have noticed at my family gatherings alone; we now have asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and green beans. I never saw those on Thanksgiving and Christmas tables when I was growing up. Sure, there will always be the sweet potato casseroles and a few of the other classics. However, with our society being more health conscious, and fresh produce more readily available, fresh vegetables have become increasingly popular side dishes for holiday feasts.
Thanks to Berry Farms in Lyons I have these wonderful fresh organic green beans. These fabulous green beans are not only delicious, but they are very easy to prepare as well. You may find that this becomes a year round side dish because they are so yummy!
Balsamic and Garlic Green Beans
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Cook beans in boiling salted water to cover over high heat for 6 minutes; drain. Plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process; drain.
- Saute garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the beans and saute 3 to 4 minutes. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper; saute 1 minute.
It’s that wonderful time of year again. Local strawberries are in season. While making a mad dash to the store earlier this week, I passed by the strawberries on my way to the back of the store. That sweet smell hit me as I was walking pass. That smell that you only get this time of year, when you find locally grown strawberries at the market. I stopped in my tracks, noticed the strawberries were grown in South Carolina…that’s local enough..and picked up 2 quarts!
They are so heavenly! Even as a child I loved strawberry season. Pa, my grandfather, always had them in his garden. I can see it, as plain as if it were yesterday. His garden was behind the house. He would pick me a handful of strawberries and I would be standing on the edge of the garden (probably because he didn’t want me stepping on the plants), eating them as fast as he could pick them. Simple memories that just happened, no play dates and no planning. Sometimes we forget, as parents, that things don’t have to be elaborate to make childhood special for our kids.
We have snacked on almost a whole quart plain. I dressed up the other quart with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar. It may sound strange, but it’s really quite tasty! We topped vanilla ice cream with this wonderful mixture and then I had leftover balsamic strawberries on yogurt with a little granola the next morning. Mmm…so good! I think I’ll be making another “mad dash” to the store for more strawberries soon!
- 1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries, quartered
- ¼ c. sugar
- 4 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- Vanilla ice cream
- Combine the strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- To serve, spoon strawberry mixture over vanilla ice cream. Serve immediately.
In Georgia we are lucky enough to enjoy all four seasons. I love the holidays that come with winter and the occasional snow, the beautiful flowers of spring and the perfect temperatures, the barefoot and beach days of summer along with the fresh garden produce, and the crisp air, apples, and beauty of fall. It never fails, when a new season starts to come around I’m more than ready for the change. In my lifetime, I have lived several places throughout Georgia and even in Florida for a few years. I love the south and there is no place I would rather be!
The warm days that we had recently have me longing for summer! I’m ready to pack up the sweaters and boots and pull out the shorts and flip-flops. Along with the clothing changes I’m also ready for the menu changes. Salad weather is just around the corner, but I couldn’t wait! I made this wonderful Greek Chickpea Salad for my family to enjoy over the weekend. It’s easy and versatile and full of wonderful flavor! This recipe is really just a guide because you can use the ingredients that you and your family enjoy. I like cucumbers in my salad but my mother-in-law prefers artichokes, so mix it up and have fun with it. This is best made a few hours before serving.
Greek Chickpea Salad
- 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or mint
- ¾ c. chopped bell pepper
- ½ pint halved grape tomatoes
- ¼ c. red onion, chopped
- ¼ c. halved kalamata olives
- ½ cucumber, seeded and chopped
- ½ c. feta, cubed or crumbled
- 15-oz. can artichokes, drained
- 3 tbsp. plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Combine chickpeas, parsley, bell pepper, grape tomatoes, onion, olives, cucumber, feta and artichokes in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl mix yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, minced garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and sugar together with a whisk. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until well incorporated.
- Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Store in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
It’s that time of year again…time for my top picks. I love posting my top picks…mostly because I love making the collage pictures. Silly, right? I also like revisiting the recipes. This has been a year of big changes for Not Just Sunday Dinner. First I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I actually did it myself, with the help of a few really nice tech support people. I’m not a very tech savvy person, so that alone was a big accomplishment. Then I took on the huge job of changing all recipes to print format. I’m really proud of that feature and I hope you enjoy it as well. I have started a rephotographing project that I’m still working on. I think that maybe my photos have improved a little better over the past three years so I’ve been trying to replace some really bad, old photos.
When looking back I really had some great recipes in 2014, if I say so myself. No, I do not develop my own recipes (usually). Like many, I change up recipes that I have made several times. My recipes come from family, friends, magazines, cookbooks, etc. Picking my top 10 for 2014 was a difficult job. I made a list of 26 recipes to start with. Then I scratched recipes and added back numerous times to finally narrow my list down to these 10 recipes. Please join me in looking back over the year, in no particular order.
1. Amaretto Almond Cheesecake
2. Snapper Hemingway
3. Greek Salad Dressing
5. Pretzel Dogs
6. Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
7. Heirloom Tomato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
8. Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
9. Southwestern Corn Pudding
10. Blarney Blue Cheese Chips
This Apricot-Balsamic Glazed Chicken recipe is amazing! I am thrilled when someone shares a new recipe with me. It seems I am searching and trying new recipes constantly and it is great to get a recipe that you KNOW will be delicious! Hopefully, this is much like you feel when I share a recipe with you. My friend, Melanie, shared this delicious glazed chicken recipe with me a couple of weeks ago and it is fabulous! The apricot preserves combined with the balsamic vinegar and rosemary makes a very tasty glaze.
Greg and I like grilling and have been known to grill in the rain but if you need an alternative way to cook this, Melanie says that its just as wonderful baked. She suggested to bake it at 425°F for 1 hour, basting after 45 minutes. The recipe calls for bone-in chicken pieces, however I did not have any on hand. I decided to put together a marinade that would compliment the glaze in order to keep the boneless, skinless grilled chicken juicy. I’ll share this recipe below.
Melanie says that she likes to double the glaze recipe and set half aside to serve with the chicken. This is not only a good idea for serving, but I found a scrumptious way to use the leftover apricot-balsamic glaze! I will put the recipe on NJSD so check back soon!
Apricot-Balsamic Glazed Chicken
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ½ c. apricot preserves
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (4-lb.) chickens, cut into 8 pieces or 5 to 6 lb. bone in, skin on chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breasts, cut in half
- In a small saucepan, melt butter, add preserves, vinegar, red pepper flakes, rosemary and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. (If making ahead, store covered in refrigerator but rewarm to return to proper consistency.)
- Season chicken with salt an pepper and place on hot grill and cook until done. Baste with glaze during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 2 lemons
- juice of 2 oranges
- ¾ c. vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. apricot jelly
- Combine in a large bowl and whisk until jelly is mixed into other ingredients. Pour over chicken and marinate 4-8 hours.