Marinated Chicken with Bacon and Cheese

Have you ever eaten a great dish somewhere and you liked it so much that you wanted to recreate it at home? Way back…..and I mean waaay back….when I was just starting to cook and experimenting in the kitchen (like my mom and dad would do) I had two great chicken dishes that I absolutely loved. One was the Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Steakhouse. Their famous (and still one of my favorites) chicken marinated in a honey mustard type sauce and topped with mushroom, bacon, Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese. The other was from Applebee’s, it was a grilled chicken breast topped with bacon and cheese (do you see a pattern here? Yes, I have a weakness for bacon and cheese). I wanted to combine the two and of course, put my own spin on it….as I still like to do. So with a lot of trial and error in the marinade, I finally came up with a version that not only did I enjoy, but my parents as well. I actually have not made this in years, but I thought about it recently and made it once again for my hubby, although he hates mushrooms (which saddens me to no end) so I left those out.

The chicken is marinated for a few hours or over night (it has a little wine in it so you know it has to be good) then pan fried and topped with crispy bacon and melted cheese. Feel free to add the mushrooms. This is also good baked or grilled. It’s easy to put together and will be great for a weeknight….or weekend…dinner. You know it has to be a winner with bacon and gooey cheese.

Here’s what you need to make your own:

For The Marinade:

*1/2 cup soy sauce

*2 TBS Sherry wine

*the juice of 1/2 lime

*2 tsp. Dijon mustard

*1 TBS. olive oil

*2 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

*2 large cloves of garlic grated or minced

*1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

*1/2 tsp onion powder

*1 tsp. dried tarragon

*boneless, skinless chicken breast (thighs are good too)

*2 TBS or more of canola oil for frying

*1 TBS butter

*Shredded cheese; I used a blend of Monterrey Jack and Cheddar

*2 slices of bacon per chicken breast cooked

*scallions for garnish (optional)

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Taste and add any more amounts of the ingredients if desired.

Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to make them a little thinner and equal in size.

Place the chicken in a zip top bag and pour in the marinade.

Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 3 hours or over night.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook bacon and set aside.

Discard the marinade and pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Pour the canola oil and add butter to a large cast iron pan or oven proof pan and heat to medium high heat.

When the butter melts and the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken breasts to the pan.

Cook chicken 2 to 3 minutes or until the chicken starts to turn golden; flip the chicken over and cook another 2 minutes.

Place in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches and internal temp of 165°.

Top the chicken with the bacon and cheese.

Place back into the oven for another minute or so until the cheese melts. Top with scallions and serve.

Enjoy!

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Corn Chowder

I don’t know how the weather has been where you live, but down here in the South, I think Mother Nature is going through a mid life crisis. One day it’s freezing, the next it feels like spring. These last few days have been pretty cold ( after I post this it will probably be a balmy 60 degrees) and on cold days and evenings, that makes me want to cook something warm and comforting. What could be better than some creamy homemade soup…..or corn chowder in this case.

I really haven’t eaten a lot of corn chowder, but for some reason I’ve had a craving for it lately. Yes, fresh summer corn would be the best, but it’s not summer and unfortunately, all of that delicious corn that I put in the freezer at the end of summer is gone. But I found that frozen corn can be tasty as well. This chowder does take some prepping, but the end result is oh so worth it. It has sweet corn with onions and garlic. There is also some chunky potatoes, carrots and smoky bacon ( anything is better with bacon right?) with a touch of a few spices and some cream to add that nice creamy texture, All of this in one bowl that tastes like a soul satisfying hug.

This chowder is great as a side dish, but also hearty enough to be the main star. So grab your spoon and a big bowl and here’s what you need to make your own.

*5 slices of bacon, chopped

*2 TBS. butter

*1 medium onion, chopped

*1 large carrots, chopped small

*2 garlic cloves, grated using a microplane or minced

*2 TBS. flour

*2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1/4 inch cubes; I prefer using russet potatoes because these are starchier potatoes that will help thicken the chowder.

*4 cups fresh corn cut off the cobb or frozen (defrosted)

*4 cups chicken or vegetable broth; I used Better Than Bullion

*1 tsp. dried Thyme or 1 TBS. fresh Thyme or more to taste

*1 tsp. sweet paprika or more to taste

*1 Bay leaf

*1 cup cream

*salt and cracked pepper to taste

*chives or scallions for garnish (optional)

Heat a large pot to medium high heat; add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy stirring often.

Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Pour off the bacon fat but leave 1 TBS. in the pot; turn the heat down to medium and add in the butter. When the butter is melted add the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook until onions are softened, about 5 minutes stirring frequently.

Add the flour, cook while constantly for about 1 minute or until the flour appears mixed in.

Add the corn and the potatoes to the pot and stir together.

Pour in the stock and turn the heat up to medium high heat then add the Thyme and paprika.

Stir until the broth starts to bubble. Add the Bay leaf, cover and turn the heat to simmer. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and the carrots are tender. Discard the Bay leaf.

Take off of the heat and add in the cream. With an immersion blender, blend until some of the vegetables are smooth, but still leave a good many chunks. You can also take about 1 to 2 cups of the chowder and blend in a blender, then add it back into the pot.

Turn the heat down to medium and add in the bacon pieces. Continue warming the chowder while constantly stirring about 2 to 3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives or scallions

Enjoy

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Breakfast Tostadas

You all know how much I love breakfast, especially on the weekends when I have more time to cook up a fabulous, but easy one.

This is no exception. If you love tostadas for dinner whether from you favorite Mexican restaurant, or you like to make them yourself (taco nights are not just for tacos) then how about tostadas for breakfast. Yes please! These are easy to make. It has corn tortillas that are crispy around the edges and covered with refried black beans, then layered with another tortilla smothered in gooey cheesy goodness and topped with crispy bacon and a sunny side up egg.

It’s good thing there’s lots of these tasty corn tortillas in a pack, because you will probably be making quite a few of these delicious tostadas. These are not only great for breakfast, but they make a satisfying dinner. Just pair it with some yellow or Mexican rice and salsa on the side. You’re welcome.

Now gather those tortillas and here’s what you need to make your own.

*corn tortillas

*refried black beans ( you can use the traditional refried beans, but I find these tastier)

*bacon 2 slices per tostada, cooked as crispy or chewy as you prefer

*shredded cheese; I used a combination of Colby Jack and Cheddar

*1 egg per tostada

*oil for cooking the eggs

*salt and pepper to taste for the eggs

*scallions (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°

Warm up the refried beans.

Spread the beans on one tortilla.

Top with another tortilla and sprinkle the cheese on the tortilla.

Tear the bacon in pieces and add on top of the cheese.

Place the tostadas in the oven and bake about 5 minutes.

While the tostadas are warming, place the oil in a non stick pan. Heat to medium high heat and cook the eggs until the whites are set and the edges are crispy but the yolk is still runny. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper to taste.

Take the tostadas out of the oven and gently place the egg on top.

Sprinkle the scallions over the top and serve.

Enjoy!

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Easy Fudge

Over the holidays hubby and I were craving fudge. Since it was the holidays, of course none could be found in those nice candy shops. So what was a girl to do to appease mine and my darling hubby’s (too sappy?) fudge cravings? You guys know that I do not claim to be a great baker of any kind, but I have been trying a little more of late. Although, making homemade fudge is not baking but rather a no bake decadent treat. So I did some research and found…and tweaked….an easy recipe.

I remember watching my grandmother make fudge, among so many other sweet delights. She made fudge the old fashioned way. I’m not sure exactly what she put in it other than cocoa powder and milk, but I do remember her stirring it constantly until she got it just right. Then she would drop some of the hot syrup in a glass of cold water to see if it formed a ball. She would explain to me the process, which at the time just went over my head, but I thought the little balls sinking to the bottom of the water glass was mesmerizing.

This fudge isn’t done the old fashioned way, but instead there are only a few easy steps. The result is a nonbaked creamy, delicious candy treat that will satisfy any of those sweet fudgy cravings.

Here’s what you need:

*3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

*14oz. sweetened condensed milk

*1/4 butter; softened but not melted

*1 tsp. vanilla extract

*1/8 tsp. salt; I used kosher salt

Line an 8 inch baking dish with foil, making sure the foil sides come up over the sides of the dish. This helps to get the fudge out after it has set. Spray with no stick spray.

In a medium sauce pan, add all of the ingredients.

Heat over medium low and stir constantly

Keep stirring until the butter and the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.

The mixture should resemble frosting.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.

Refrigerate uncovered for at least 3 hours. or until the fudge is firm.

Remove from the baking dish and carefully peel off the foil and cut into bite size pieces.

I know these may not look as pretty and smooth as some of the others I have seen, but considering it was my first time making it, I was rather pleased with myself…..and so was hubby. Not to mention it tasted really good.

Serve and Enjoy!

*Note*

Store in an air tight container in the fridge.

To Freeze: Wrap fudge in plastic wrap and store in a zip lock bag.

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One Pan Linguica and Potatoes with Eggs

It’s a new year and a new dish. Hubby and I recently received a stash of linguica (a type of Portuguese sausage). The last time we had linguica (ground linguica to be exact) we mixed it with ground beef and had some really delicious Double Cheese Linguica Burgers. Those I must say, were epic. We can’t seem find linguica where we live….believe me hubby tried very hard because he loves it…so we have to have it shipped. So for this batch, I really wanted to come up with something hearty and easy. What better way to enjoy this tasty sausage by mixing it with potatoes and topping it with eggs. This was definitely a hit for sure. The potatoes are tossed with butter, olive oil and some spices, then mixed with the unique flavors of the linguica. It’s all topped with a few sunny side up eggs. What’s even better, is that it’s all cooked in one pan so clean up is easy.

So grab a few eggs, chop up some potatoes and here’s how to make it:

*3 large potatoes; peeled and cut into bite size pieces

*1 pound of linguica; casings removed (if they have casings) and chopped into bite size pieces

*1 tsp. sweet paprika

*2 tsp. onion powder

*1 1/2 tsp. dried Thyme

*salt and pepper to taste + more for the eggs

*1 TBS butter; melted

*olive oil

*4 eggs

Pre heat oven to 425°

In the pan, toss the potatoes with paprika, onion powder, Thyme, salt, pepper, butter and olive oil.

Add in the linguica and mix together with the potatoes.

Bake for 15 minutes and stir. If the potatoes look like they are drying out, add more olive oil. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft on the inside and turning golden brown on the outside.

Lower the oven to 400°

Make a well in the potatoes and linguica. Crack the eggs into the wells.

Salt and pepper the eggs and continue baking for another 10 minutes are until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

If you prefer a less runny egg, cook longer.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Another Year Gone By

Another year is coming to a close. This year has been a roller coaster ride to say the least for many, myself included. Through the highs and the lows, one of the things that have remained constant is my love of cooking for my family and friends and sharing them with you.

To wrap up this year, here are some of my favorite dishes, and yours as well it seems, that I had posted throughout the year,

This was a breakfast hit:

Cheesy Egg In A Hole With Bacon

Who can resist some hearty toast with gooey cheese, bacon and a sunny side up egg.

Beef Tips In A Marsala Wine Sauce

How can you go wrong with tender, flavorful beef tips that is cooked in a wine sauce. This little gem was in the top 5 for you guys as well when I looked at the numbers.

Bacon Cheese Chorizo Burger with Whiskey Sautéed Onions

Chorizo, bacon, cheese and whiskey sautéed onions…..need I say more?

This burger will definitely satisfy all of your burger cravings.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is a great snack for those hot summer days, or even all year around if you are a lover of ice cream like me. This one was easy to make with pre made cookie dough, but looked and tasted like the cookies were made from scratch.

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Pancetta

These have become one of my go to favorite side dishes. Many of you seemed to like the blend of rosemary, butter, sage and pancetta as well. This is such an easy side dish that that can be put together and tossed in the oven. We all like easy that’s for sure.

Baked Cheesy Chicken Empanadas

This was one of those dishes that was a personal accomplishment for me, making empanadas from scratch. My mother in law had taught me a while back how to make homemade tortillas. These make a great meal or even lunch. They are filled with seasoned chicken and smothered in cheese. But as noted in the recipe, don’t fret about having to make homemade tortillas, that was more of my personal goal. Pizza or pastry dough work just as well.

Chicken Parmigiana

Last but not least, this is one of this years most favorite comfort foods both mine and yours that I had posted. What could be more comforting than crispy breaded chicken with marinara sauce and smothered in melty cheese.

So those are the most popular and some of my favorite dishes and side dishes of the year.

I hope you ring in the new year with laughter, love, positivity and some great food. Whether you will be celebrating it with a group of family and friends, or like me and my hubby, having a nice evening in devouring some Chinese food all night long.

I wish you all the best. I hope you continue this journey with me and my little blog in the next year. I can’t wait to see what new ideas it will bring.

See you all in the next year my friends.

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Apple Cake

Original Date: December 24, 2021 Revised Date: December 20, 2022

Christmas is only a few days away. You probably already have your meal planned, everything carefully thought out for your family and friends to sit around and enjoy. But if you’re like me, dessert might be the second thought and you’re still unsure of what to serve. Look no further because this one is defiantly a crowd pleaser.

Last year my mother in law stayed with us for a few months and we were all able to celebrate the holidays together. She made this beautiful apple cake. This cake was such a delicious delight and a perfect ending for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. I think this lasted maybe another day before it was totally devoured. It’s so easy to make and you never would guess that it starts with a box cake mix….and there is a lot of love in there as well of course.

This cake is so moist and tender with the taste of apples throughout. The cinnamon sugar adds the perfect touch and a little crunch on the bottom. It’s also amazing with fresh whip cream or vanilla bean ice cream… or why not add both, after all it’s for a celebration. While this cake is the perfect ending to any holiday meal, it also makes a great dessert for anytime.

Here is what you need:

*1 box yellow cake mix; use ingredients listed on the box but instead of water use milk

*1 cup sour cream

*3 red apples; peeled and thinly sliced

*1 cup sugar

*1 tsp. Cinnamon or more to taste

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray a Bundt cake pan with no stick flour baking spray; set aside.

Prepare yellow cake mix according to box directions but add milk instead of the water; mix in the sour cream.

Combine sugar and cinnamon.

Pour some of the cake batter into the bottom of the cake pan. Place some of the apple slices on top then sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar mix. Pour another layer of the cake batter on top of the apple mix. Place more apples around on top of the batter then sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.

Pour on the rest of the cake batter. Top with the rest of the apples and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon sugar mix.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Original Date: January 28,2021 Revised Date: December 16, 2022

This is one of my favorite comfort foods to make for those long cold winter evenings. What I like even better, is throwing it all in the slow cooker and let it do all the cooking…not to mention the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen for most of the day. There is a bit of prepping involved, but it is so worth it. The meat in this stew comes out so tender and flavorful from the herbs and spices, while the potatoes and tender carrots makes this a hearty meal. It’s even better served with some crusty bread to help soak up all of that rich, delicious stew.

Here’s what you need:

*3 TBS or more of olive oil

*2 lb. stew meat or a chuck roast cut into bite size pieces.

* 3 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices or more if you prefer more carrots

*2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks; I prefer using russet potatoes because it has more starch which helps thicken the broth, but you can use any other potato if you prefer.

*1 small onion chopped

*1/4 cup flour

*2 tsp. dried Thyme

*2 tsp. paprika

*1/2 tsp. celery seed

*2 tsp. dried rosemary

*2 tsp. garlic powder

*2 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*cracked black pepper to taste

*1 large bay leaf

*2 cups water

*2 tsp. or more to taste Better Than Bullion Beef Base or 2 beef bullion cubes

*3 TBS. tomato paste

*2tsp. Worcestershire sauce

*cornstarch and water if needed

In a large bowl, add beef, Thyme, paprika, celery seed, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. I find it easier to just use my hands,  it’s messy but what can I say, I like playing in my food. Add the flour and toss to coat all of the beef pieces.

In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat to medium high heat; add some of the beef to the pan. Do not over crowd the pan or the meat will not brown properly. You will need to do this in small batches.

Cook about 2 minutes then turn the beef over and cook another 2 minutes. If needed, add more oil to the pan.

I will be honest and say that at times, this is my least favorite part.  I did leave this step out once and the flavor was just not the same. So with love, patience and tongs in hand, I will brown the beef.

When the beef is seared on all sides, add them to the slow cooker. Next, add in the carrots, onions and potatoes.

Stir everything together.

In a large bowl, add the water, beef bullion base, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce; mix to combine. Pour over the beef and vegetables.

Add in the bay leaf, cover and cook for 6 to 7 hours on low.

Remove the bay leaf and stir. If the broth is not thick enough stir together 1 1/2 Tbs. of cornstarch to 1 1/2 TBS. of water and stir into the stew. Cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes or until broth thickens.

Enjoy!

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Pan Seared Herb Pork Chops In A Creamy Marsala Wine Sauce

These delicious pork chops are sprinkled with a few herbs, seared to perfection in butter and olive oil, then bathed in a rich, creamy marsala wine sauce. All of this is done in less than 30 minutes.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just crave a good pork chop. Whether it’s fried in a parmesan crusted coating (future post perhaps?) or seared in a pan with some simple herbs and a nice sauce that lets the pork shine through. I choose the latter. This was definitely a hit with hubby, who isn’t always keen on pork chops. The only thing that I would have loved to add to this dish are mushrooms, but considering how hubby reacts to mushrooms as a vampire to sunlight, I had to forgo those little morsels of delight. But even without them, this dish is one of those that makes you close your eyes and savor each bite. And the sauce…..oh my the sauce…I could drink it with a straw it’s that tasty.

This is a great dish when you want a quick, but tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen, kind of meal. Serve it over rice, mashed potatoes or even buttered egg style noodles. Make sure you have some nice, crusty bread to soak up all of that delightful sauce since licking ones plate might not go over to well if you have company at the table. But if it’s just you and your significant other….lick away my friend….lick away.

Here’s what you need:

*Boneless pork chops; you can do this with bone in as well but cook a little longer

*Rosemary, fresh or dried to taste

*Thyme, fresh or dried to taste

*Tarragon, fresh or dried to taste ( I used a little since tarragon can be a little over powering)

*salt to taste

*cracked pepper to taste

*1 TBS. olive oil or more if needed

*2 TBS. butter

*1/2 cup Marsala wine

*1 cup chicken stock

*1/2 cup cream or half and half

Sprinkle both sides of the pork with the herbs, salt and pepper.

Heat a large cast iron pan to medium high and add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter is melted place the pork chops into the pan. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pork over and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. While cooking, tilt the pan and spoon the butter mixture over the pork.

Take the pork out of the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and carefully pour in the marsala wine. Let it cook for about 1 minute while scrapping the bottom of the pan to loosen any seared bits on the bottom of the pan. Those are indeed little chunks of flavor.

Pour in the chicken broth.

Turn the heat back up to medium high and let the sauce continue to cook until the sauce starts to reduce and thickens slightly; about 3 to 5 minutes.

Reduce heat down to medium and stir in the cream. Place the pork chops back into the pan with the sauce.

Cook until the pork chops are warm and are cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes (145F minimum).

Serve and Enjoy!

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Utterly Delicious Mashed Potatoes

Original Date November 28, 2021 Revised Date November 23, 2022

These mashed potatoes are not skinny by any means. These are the indulgent mashed potatoes that I’m always asked to bring to family gatherings or put on the table when friends come over for a down home dinner. These are buttery….yes, there’s 3sticks of butter in there….I did say these were indulgent. These heavenly mashed potatoes are a little creamy with just a few tiny chunks of potato throughout to satisfy those who love a few lumps or two in their mash. These are indeed mashed, but then they are whipped to result in that perfect texture.

Growing up my mom and my grandmother made mashed potatoes from scratch, but they not only mashed them, they would pull out the hand mixer. They would mix together all of those wonderful, indulgent ingredients until everything was just right. Back then I thought that’s how everyone made “mashed” potatoes. It wasn’t until much later that I learned about instant potatoes. I’m not knocking instant potatoes in any way. I myself have made them and there are some pretty tasty ones out there. But there is something comforting about the process of making them from scratch, not to mention the taste. It always makes me think of my mom and my grandmother in the kitchen. It’s one of my favorite side dishes, ok not just as a side. I could grab a spoon and a bowl full and I’d be happy with that as my main meal.

Because they are so indulgent, and yes a little more time consuming, I don’t make them as often and, well, because my hubby is not a mashed potato lover. I still shake my head in wonderment as to how someone can not like mashed potatoes? That being said, with Thanksgiving only a few days away and the holidays nearing, I will be making and eating my share of these. I better get out my stretchy pants. So with spoon or fork in hand…which ever you prefer…. here is how you can make these utterly delicious mashed potatoes to add to your holiday dishes or for just a get together with family and friends.

On a side note, I know when I mention pulling out the hand mixer for the potatoes, some will gasp and some might be a tad appalled. It is true, if you over mix them, they will turn rather glutenous, but I promise, if you take care these will be a winner for you as well.

*4 lb or more potatoes; peeled and cut into cubes. I like to use russet but Yukon gold are good as well.

*1 Tbsp. salt for the cooking water + more to taste in the potatoes

*pepper to taste

*3 sticks of good quality butter or more to taste

*1 to 2 cups evaporated milk or half and half, warmed; I start out with a cup and add more if needed

*fresh or dried parsley

Place the potatoes in a large pot.

Fill with water until the potatoes are covered and add the 1 Tbsp. of salt.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.

Drain well.

I learned the hard way that if they are not drained of all the cooking water, you do not get a nice consistency in the end.

On a side note, no, there is nothing wrong with your eyes, the potatoes were still steaming when I dumped them into the colander and kept steaming up the camera.

Place the potatoes into a large, mixer proof bowl and add salt and pepper.

Add in some of the butter and with a potato masher, begin mashing the potatoes.

Slowly add in some of the milk about 1/4 of a cup and continue mashing until most of the larger chunks are broken down.

With a hand mixer set on one of the lower speeds, begin to incorporate the butter and the milk.

Start adding in more butter, salt and pepper. Slowly add in more milk until you get the texture that you want. Do not pour in all of the milk at once or you may end up with potato soup. Yes, I have done that as well. Keep tasting and adding more butter, salt and pepper until the taste is to your liking. Sprinkle in the parsley and mix just enough to blend it into the potatoes. Be careful not to over mix. Once you reach the desired texture, I bring out the wooden spoon to stir in more butter, salt or pepper if needed.

Serve warm and Enjoy!

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