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.

DSC_0101     DSC_0105

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.

DSC_0109

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.

DSC_0114     DSC_0115

 

DSC_0119    DSC_0126

DSC_0131

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.

DSC_0135   DSC_0139

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 ~

Vegetable Casserole

On the menu tonight is macaroni & cheese and our vegetable casserole.  The macaroni & cheese we are making tonight is my Mother-In-Law’s recipe and it is a closely-guarded secret.  Unfortunately, for you, that means I won’t be sharing that delectable recipe here!  What I can tell you about the recipe, though, is to use large elbow macaroni.  I’m telling you – it’s genius! It means all the yummy, cheesy goodness is guaranteed to get into all those large nooks & crannies.  So good.

Because we didn’t want to bring over just macaroni & cheese (because, after all, a new mama needs some veggies to help her stay nourished and strong), we decided to make our vegetable casserole.  This casserole dish is a great way to get a ton of veggies in one bite.  I got this recipe from a friend, originally, and she put in bell peppers.  I’ve got to admit. I’m not a bell pepper fan.  Never have been.  Interestingly enough, I asked my mom and she doesn’t like them either.  Perhaps I don’t like them because they were rarely cooked in our household (although we rarely ate artichokes and I could bathe in artichokes I love them so much).  Because I don’t like bell peppers, I omit them from my own recipe and tweaked a few more things about it to suit our tastes.  This casserole dish is incredibly easy to throw together and from start to finish takes only about an hour.  It is a great dish for dinner parties and is a welcome side addition to many of the heavy, creamier casserole dishes typically found at parties.  Ready? Let’s get started.

What You’ll Need:

1 medium potato, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 medium yam, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces

5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 red onion, sliced thinly into rings

2 small zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper

2 large red tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

1/2 cup (or more) of freshly grated Parmesan

2-3 Tablespoons of Italian Bread Crumbs

A few fresh springs of basil, for garnish

What You’ll Do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potato, yam, and carrots and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle with the pepper, salt, garlic powder, cayenne (really, any seasonings you’re prone to!) and toss to coat the vegetables evenly.

DSC_0004

Make sure the vegetables are spread evenly at the bottom of your baking dish.  Now, arrange your onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture.  Think of it as your ‘lasagna’ noodles, if you will.

DSC_0005

Next, arrange the zucchini slices on top of the onions evenly.  Drizzle another 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the zucchini and sprinkle a bit more salt/pepper/seasonings.

DSC_0007

Top it off with your slices of tomatoes.

DSC_0008

In a separate bowl, combine the grated Parmesan and bread crumbs.  Once it is mixed, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tomatoes.  Drizzle your last remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top.

DSC_0009

Bake uncovered until the veggies are tender and the Parmesan bread crumbs are toasty brown.  This will take you about 40 minutes (it could be longer depending on your oven, etc.).

DSC_0012

Garnish with your fresh sprigs of basil to finish.  And there you have it!

Our macaroni & cheese with our side of vegetable casserole was delicious and hit the spot!  Though I can’t give you the recipe to my Mother -In-Law’s mac & cheese, here is the final product, fresh out of the oven!

DSC_0011

Our dinner was comfort food at its finest! Easy, Simple, and Tastes Oh-So-Good!

~ M ~

Black Bean Patties

197676_10153175496900597_867214750_n


[Please note, this is not my picture, directly! This is a picture my friend had sent me after she made these!]

It is no surprise that TJ and I like to cook – and eat.  The two of us have always been adventurous eaters and are always on the lookout for amazing new recipes, amazing new restaurants, and love frequenting our dependable oh-so-good joints.  Now, that our family has grown and includes a mini, Miss OMG, and our mini is now on solids, we love cooking up family recipes that everyone can enjoy, both adults and minis.  

One of our favorite recipes we like to eat is our Black Bean Patties.  Chock full of protein, fiber, and, of course, taste, these patties are a breeze to whip up for dinner with minimal effort.  We also like making a few batches of these on the weekend so we can have some stored up for the week (because let’s face it, who has time to cook ALL the time?!).  These are great served up by themselves, topped with some salsa, guacamole, or sour cream, over rice – you name it, it’s delicious.  Make them a bit bigger and you’ve got yourself a delicious veggie burger patty.  

What You’ll Need:  

One 15oz can of black beans rinsed and drained.
Kernels from an ear of corn or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup of shredded cheese (like cheddar, etc)
2 tbsp of breadcrumbs (if you’re eating Gluten-Free, try crushed up GF-Cereal)
1 egg
Garlic (if you’re not a garlic lover, try 2-3 cloves. If you’re like us, throw in the whole darn bulb of garlic!)
Onion powder
Some fresh cilantro
Oil to cook (we just lightly grease our pan with coconut oil). 

What You’ll Do:

Blend everything except the oil in a food processor or with a handheld blender. It’s okay if it’s still kind of chunky – actually, it’s quite delicious. On a skillet (we use a griddle), warm up a little oil and then drop tablespoon drops of the bean mixture.  To make them fairly even, we just use a tablespoon to scoop and then a spoon to scoop it out onto the griddle. Use the back of the spoon to flatten out the mixture into round little patties (not too thick or it will be too mushy).  Wait 4-8 minutes before flipping (be patient and don’t flip too early or the mixture falls apart).  Cook another 4-8 minutes. Just re-oil the pan for each new batch. 

**VARIATIONS**

As you can imagine, these are so easy to change up.  Some great additions or variations we have tried: adding cumin, paprika, and cayenne.  Add in some chopped up green onions.  I gave this recipe to someone who told me that she even tried rolling the mixture up into a ball, coating it with breading and then fried the balls! Baking sounds like it may work wonders on that, as well!  

I assure you, no matter the  variations, this Tastes Oh-So-Good!  

~ M ~