Green Bean Casserole – From Scratch!

Green Bean Casserole. Yes. The dreaded potluck dish that everyone makes fun of. Goopy, overly salted, condensed cream of mushroom soup over green beans and greasy crispy onions that came out of a can. Lovely. Sounds yummy, right? Yeah – no wonder this dish is the bane of holiday potlucks everywhere!  So, why am I posting about this dish? Because have you ever tried it made from scratch? Forget about that condensed mushroom stuff! Forget about those greasy stringy onions you pop out of a can!  Made from scratch, this dish is an amazingly delicious side dish at any holiday gathering!  I promise you it is worth the extra effort!  Someone passed along this recipe and they got it from the amazing blog, Smitten Kitchen.  The recipe is pretty perfect the way she wrote it.  I’m not stupid enough to try and change too much, but we did just tweak it slightly for our tastes (read: extra garlic).

Every year we try to do something special with our friends for the holidays.  We’ve had Ugly Christmas Sweater parties with tons of friends, dinners for smaller groups, and a brunch.  This year, with two babies in the group (ours and another cute lil girl), we decided we’d keep the shindig a little smaller and do a Friendmas Dinner with some of our closest friends.  In addition to TJ’s yummy homemade apple pie and a so-tender-it-fell-off-the-bone brisket, we made the Green Bean casserole.  All that, plus some delectable dishes our friends brought, we had a great time chowing down while spending time with some of our most beloved people.  OK – enough with all that emotional lovey dovey stuff. Onto the recipe. I know you’re over hearing me gush about the amazing people in our lives!  Fine, fine! Have it your way. Here’s the recipe.

What You’ll Need:

1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved

(Crispy Onions)

2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced (We used our mandolin to get the onions super duper thin)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Canola, safflower, or peanut oil for frying

(Mushroom Sauce)

5 tablespoons butter

18 ounces of mushrooms, chopped

Large pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

6 garlic cloves, minced

4.5 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 1/4 cups chicken broth (I prefer chicken broth, but you could use vegetable broth to make it a vegetarian dish)

3/4 cup heavy cream

What You’ll Do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the crispy onions: Toss the onions in the flour, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.  We filled our cast iron skillet with about 1/2 inch of canola oil.  Heat the oil up.  Add the onions a handful at a time and fry until lightly golden brown (don’t over-fry them – don’t forget they’re going into the oven afterwards!).  Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and let the oil drip off a bit and then spread out the onions on a paper towel to drain.  Repeat with the remaining onions and set aside when done.

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Prep the green beans:  In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and boil the green beans for about 5 minutes.  Drain the beans and then plunge them into an ice bath so that they don’t continue to cook (again – they’ll continue to cook in the oven later so don’t overcook them now!). Drain the green beans again and set aside.  to full stop them from cooking. Drain again, and set aside.

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To make the creamy mushroom sauce:   Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of your cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute them for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute one minute more. Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms. Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time. Simmer mixture for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens a bit, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Coat the green beans in the creamy mushroom sauce.  We did this directly in our cast iron skillet.  Once the green beans are coated thoroughly, sprinkle the onions on top.

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Pop the cast iron skillet in the oven and bake the dish for about 15 minutes (the sauce will be bubbling and the onions will have gotten darker).  Serve and eat when it’s warm!

TJ and I actually assembled the green beans and creamy mushrooms the day before.  The day of our Friendmas dinner, we then brought out our green beans and mushroom sauce and then topped it with the crispy onions and then popped it into the oven.

Yes – I know there are sort of a lot of steps. And I know that it is so tempting to pop open that cream of mushroom soup you have in your cupboard instead of making your own. But I can guarantee you this. Making it from scratch is the perfect way to show your friends and family how much you care and making it from scratch guarantees you a dish that Tastes Oh-So-Good!

~ M ~

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Savory Breakfast Pudding

Ahhh, Fall.  My very favorite season.  I’ve lived in Southern California for most of my life now so we, unfortunately, don’t get too much of an Autumn chill and I miss it so (I spent my childhood on the East Coast where there are actual seasons).  Nonetheless, Fall remains one of my favorite seasons.  The chill in the air (though today is supposed to be a toasty 85 degrees) and the start of my favorite holidays (um…hellloooo Thanksgiving!).  

For the past few years, our dear friends have hosted a Fall Breakfast at their place.  Oddly enough, even if we are lucky enough to have a chilly weather streak, without fail it is always unseasonably warm the day of Fall Breakfast!  This year, with our friends having moved into a beautiful new place, Fall Breakfast was a wonderful way to help break in the new place.  Only thing is, our friends also have a brand new baby.  Those of you who have been through new parenthood know that the last thing you want to do is to host a party and cook up a storm.  The natural solution? Your friends do most of the cooking and you just sit back and enjoy.  And that’s what we did.  All the friends were responsible for a dish or two and breakfast came together quite nicely.  It was also Olivia’s first Fall Breakfast with our friends and their baby girl’s first official Fall Breakfast.  Quite momentous.

For our dishes, we thought we would do one sweet dish and one savory dish.  TJ and I figured that he’d make some pumpkin pancakes at their house the morning of.  I decided the savory dish to complement that would be our Savory Breakfast Pudding.  It’s a bread pudding – but savory.  That description kind of throws people off a bit, but I promise you it is delicious.  It is like a breakfast sandwich – in casserole form.  I originally got this recipe from an Emeril Lagasse recipe.  I’ve changed a few things about it to suit out tastes a bit more.  Either way you go, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

What You’ll Need:

2 tablespoons of butter + 2 tablespoons of melted butter

1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin rings

About 6 ounces of bacon, roughly chopped

About 6 ounces of sausage, casings removed and crumbled **

Few teaspoons of minced garlic

8 large eggs

3 cups of whole milk

1 cup of heavy cream

1 teaspoon of Essence (recipe below if you want to make your own, which I highly recommend)

Large pinch of salt

Pinch of fresh ground black pepper

8 stale croissants, torn up into 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups of grated Fontina or Gouda

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Paremsan

What You’ll Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.  We just lightly greased our dish with butter.  In a skillet, melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter and toss in your onions.  Saute the onions until they are soft and starting to caramelize. Throw in your chopped up garlic and cook another few minutes.

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In another skillet, melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter.  Add your bacon and cook for about 3 minutes.  Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel.  In the same pan, cook up your crumbled sausage for about 3-5 minutes until browned.  Remove the sausage and drain on a paper towel.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs up.  Whisk in the milk, cream, salt, pepper, and Essence.

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Once it is all mixed in, throw in your torn up croissant pieces.  Make sure the croissant pieces are covered in the egg mixture.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

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Now, throw in your sausage, bacon, onions, and 2 cups of grated Fontina or Gouda (we used Fontina here because..well, because that’s what Trader Joe’s had on hand that day!).  Stir to combine and let sit for another 5-10 minutes.

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Pour the mixture into your lightly greased baking dish.

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Bake covered for 40-50 minutes, until almoat completely set.

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What we did is prepare the dish the night before the breakfast.  You can assemble it up to this point (before you pop it in the oven).  Cover it with foil and pop it in your fridge, unbaked, for 8 hours/overnight.  The next morning, we simply started by uncovering the dish and baking it for the 40-50 minutes, as directed above.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs (feel free to use seasoned bread crumbs, etc. It is quite delicious), grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Uncover the pudding (if you’ve covered it with foil to prevent crazy browning) and spread the Parmesan bread crumbs evenly over the pudding.

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Increase your oven temperature to 375 and pop the pudding back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes (yup, pop it in while the oven is increasing in heat…no need to wait for it to fully get to 375).  It is done when the top is nice and toasty and the rest of the pudding is set (just insert a knife and see if it comes out rather clean). Wait 15 minutes before eating. There you have it! This is best served hot.

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** VARIATIONS **

Play around with the type of sausage you’d want to put in.  Hot sausages are great to use and gives this dish a nice kick.  We have even used Kielbasa and just chopped it up super small.  Whatever you’re in the mood for, try it out!

This is a great dish to bring over for a potluck, great for holiday breakfasts when the family is all gathered around.  It is so easy and you can just let it soak up all the great flavors overnight.  Next morning, pop it in the oven and there you have it – a great breakfast ready for the family (or friends, of course!) that Tastes Oh-So-Good.

Emeril’s Essence

This is a great combo of seasonings to have on hand and you can find his recipe here.  I have also listed out the ingredients below for your convenience (I’m so nice, right?!).

2 1/2 tablespoons of Paprika

2 tablespoons of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder

1 Tablespoon of Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon of Onion Powder

1 Tablespoon of Cayenne

1 Tablespoon of dried Oregano

1 Tablespoon of dried Thyme

MIx it up. And, in the words of Emeril – “BAM”! You’ve got yourself some Essence.

~ M ~