Real Green Bean Casserole

The final result.

The final result.

Last night I made a modernized thanksgiving dinner, which of course had to include green bean casserole. My aunt always makes the Cook’s Illustrated green bean casserole recipe when she comes over and it is absolutely to die for!

I found this recipe while googling the recipe for the Cook’s Illustrated version of the casserole. I kept almost everything the same, except I added parmesan. This casserole was bomb and I am so excited that my mom is making it again on Thursday for the real deal Thanksgiving chow-down!

2 things that I believe are imperative in the making of this dish:

  • You must make the mushroom sauce from scratch – no substitutions for the canned stuff! The homemade mushroom sauce is what makes the casserole so creamy and delicious (and I don’t even really like mushrooms!).
  • Use haricot verts (French green beans – I got mine from Trader Joe’s) – please please please do not use canned green beans! It will ruin the dish.

2 little tips:

  • You can freeze this dish. To freeze just bake the casserole as usual but do not put the topping of parmesan, breadcrumbs and fried onions top! You have to freeze those separately and throw them on top of the casserole just before you want to re-heat it. Make sure to defrost the casserole before re-heating it.
  • You can make this dish up to a day ahead of time and then bake it when your ready. I would just make  sure to re-stir the green beans and sauce together right before baking. Also, don’t add the topping until you are ready to bake it.

Ingredients (serves about 8 and fills a 9 x 13 in. casserole dish)

  • 2 pounds haricot verts (French green beans)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. baby bello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 container French’s French fried onions (about 2 cups worth maybe? – enough to cover the top)
  • 9 x 13 inch casserole dish

Directions

For the green beans: chop the ends off of the green beans and cut in half again.

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Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1-2 tbsp. salt (don’t skimp on the salt! – this is not the healthiest veggie dish ever created…). Blanch the green beans for about 6 minutes, or until desired firmness (the green beans will not continue to cook when baked – they will just be reheated).

Make a large bowl of ice water. When the beans are cooked to your liking drain them and then dump them into the ice bath. Leave for a few minutes and then drain again and dry the green beans. Set aside.

For the sauce: Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Remove the stems and cut them into small chunks. Melt 2-3 tbsp. butter in a large pan. Over medium heat, add the garlic, mushrooms, and some salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 – 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in 3 tbsp. flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock about ¼ cup at a time (you want the sauce to get thick so you need to add a little at a time, and whisk around frequently).  Once all chicken stock is combined, add the sherry and whisk. Bring this mixture to a simmer and stir occasionally.

Add the half and half and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 – 20 minutes. If the sauce does not thicken the way you want then you can combine 1 tbsp. cornstarch with 1 tbsp. cold water and then whisk it into the sauce. This should thicken it, if not, repeat.

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Taste the sauce for seasoning.

Once the sauce is thickened and tasty, add the dry green beans and stir together with the sauce.

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Combine the grated parmesan, panko breadcrumbs, and French fried onions. Mix together. Spread evenly over top of casserole, covering the entire thing.

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Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until bubbling lightly.

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Thanksgiving dinner: Modernized

Turkey sliders with gouda and cranberry mayo served with real green bean casserole and chipotle sweet potato fries. My beverage of choice tonight is an apple pie martini (along with the usual wine – tonights wine is Clarksburg Wine Company’s Delta Blanc  – it is alright but not my favorite).

HOLY. SMOKES. This was absolutely fantabulously wonderful. The thyme in the turkey burgers was an ode to the stuffing flavors that are usually present at thanksgiving. The cranberry mayo, caramelized onions, and gouda were the perfect toppers for the burgers – creamy, tangy and sweet all at the same time.

You can really use any kind of bread – I would suggest a dinner role as representative for a Thanksgiving regular: buttered rolls.

I would also like to note that this is the best green bean casserole that I have ever consumed. Making the cream of mushroom soup from scratch really makes a 100% difference in creaminess and overall amazingness. I think it is super important to use haricot verts instead of regular ole green beans because of their thickness and crunchiness. I also added parmesan, because, let’s face it, everything’s better with parmesan…

A few other side notes:

  1. You can freeze green bean casserole. Just make sure to freeze the topping separately.
  2. These sliders would make a wonderful hors d’ouevres.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 pound  ground white meat turkey
  • ½ tsp. each: ground thyme, paprika, and onion powder
  • 1 tsp. each: garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large tbsp. plain greek yogart
  • Cranberry Mayo
  • Caramelized onions (use 2 medium yellow onions)
  • 8 Dinner rolls
  • 1 bag Alexia’s chipotle sweet potato fries (or regular if you don’t like a little spice)
  • Real green bean casserole

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. First make the green bean casserole. This can sit while you prepare everything else and be put in the oven during the last 20 minutes.

Mix the hamburger meat: put 1 pound ground turkey and add thyme, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, panko, and  greek yogurt. Mix altogether with your hands. Form into 8 smaller patties and press your thumb into the middle of the burger patty (this helps it not to become a ball when it cooks). Set the burgers on a plate and place in fridge.

Make the cranberry relish and then use that to make the cranberry mayo. Set both in fridge to let the flavors meld together.

All of the above can sit for at least 5 hours until you’re ready to cook everything.

Start baking the sweet potato fries.

Wrap the dinner rolls in tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Bake the green bean casserole (it takes about 15 minutes as well).

Drizzle a little olive oil into a cast iron fry pan and when the pan is nice and hot cook the sliders over medium high heat.  (I would not advise grilling these burgers unless you get a ground turkey with a fair amount of fat it in which is hard because turkey is so lean). Sear both sides and then lower the heat and allow to cook for 5 more minutes or so. When you flip the sliders add sliced gouda and melt. Take the sliders off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.

Serve the sliders on top of a dinner roll with champagne mustard (or Dijon), the caramelized onions, and a healthy portion of the cranberry mayo. Skewer the sliders with a toothpick (or in my case, a wooden kebob because I ran out of toothpicks) to keep them from falling all over your plate.

Serve the sliders with green bean casserole and sweet potato fries.

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos with Spanish Rice

I generally don’t love crock pot recipes for the pure fact that I enjoy the act of cooking a meal. However, I found these crock pot chicken and spanish rice recipes from Iowa Girl Eats and I really wanted to try it. It was so easy and tasty! I added chicken broth and onions to the salsa mixture and oh man it was moist and flavorful! I will be making it again and again. It would be good for any kind of Mexican meal: burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tostadas, quesadillas, taco salad, etc.

I served the burritos with the Spanish rice and refried beans.

For the chicken

*This recipe (with just 2 chicken breasts) made enough for 2 large burrito sized tacos plus 2 days of leftovers. I would only double the recipe if you are cooking for more than 4 people.

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz. mild salsa
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • ¾ packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken stock/broth
  • Taco shells
  • Optional toppings: tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, black beans/refried beans, cheese (I use monteray jack), salsa, corn, avocado.

For the rice

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • ¼ cup onions, minced
  • ¼ cup carrots, minced
  • ¼ cup corn
  • ¼ cup peas
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup salsa (I used the salsa that was left over in the crock pot from cooking the chicken)
  • Garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil

Directions

Put a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of the crock pot. Layer 2 pieces of chicken then salsa and half of the taco seasoning and half of the onion. Then repeat with the last 2 pieces of chicken and pour the chicken stock on the top of everything. Mix around a little. Cook on high for 3 ½ hours.

*My crock pot is narrow, so I had to layer my ingredients. If your crock pot is newer and wider (mine is circa 1970), then you can just put a little salsa on the bottom of the pot then layer everything on top and cover and cook.

After 3 hours, check to see if the chicken is ready. When you pick it up with a fork it should fall apart (may need to cook for longer than 3 hours). When this has happened, take it out of the crock pot and set on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with your fingers.

Remove most of the salsa from the crock pot and put into a big bowl. Add the shredded chicken back into the crock pot and stir around. You will probably need to add a little salsa back into the crock-pot from the reserved bowl. You want enough salsa on top to keep the chicken moist and warm it back up (so you want it covered, but only slightly).

While the chicken is re-warming, get your toppings ready and make the rice.

For the rice: Mince the onions and carrots. Saute them in a pot with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder for about 5 minutes. Add the salsa, rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low then cover and simmer until rice is cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Add the peas and corn with about 10 minutes left in the cooking process.

Serve with the tacos and refried beans.

Lemon-Dill Orzo

Last week I made this orzo as an experimental side dish to grilled shrimp. Not to toot my own horn, but it was amazing. Everyone said they wanted seconds, and unfortunately I had not made enough for that. Which is rare, because normally I cook enough for a large army (even though there are generally only 2-4 of us eating). This week I made sure to make enough for leftovers plus some.

Tonight I made this glorious dish again, but added feta and grape tomatoes. It was again, amazing. I make it with a scampi-type sauce to coat the orzo, but I add lots of herbs.

I serve this dish cold or at room temp, but you could serve it warm if you would like. I kind of like it as a pasta salad-esq dish.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dry orzo
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. Gourmet Garden Italian herb paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried dill (or fresh)
  • ¼ cup feta
  • ¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest (zest of 1 or 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of about 2 lemons)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Basil oil, optional

Directions

Cook the orzo according to directions. Drain and leave in colander.

Cut the tomatoes into small pieces (if using grape or cherry tomatoes cut them into quarters or eighths).

In a separate sauté pan, combine 2 tbsp. olive oil with the herb paste, lemon zest, lemon juice, and dill and whisk together. Cook on medium low heat. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Once the rest of your meal is ready, pour the room temp orzo into a serving bowl. Pour the sauce on top and stir to coat all the orzo. Add feta and chopped tomatoes. Toss some more. Taste to see if any seasonings need to be added. Drizzle basil olive oil on top.

Green Beans with Shallots

This recipe was inspired by the green beans with shallots from Whole Foods. They were not an exact replicate, but still very tasty indeed.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, washed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

Directions

Trim both ends off of the green beans. Dice the shallot.

Fill a large sauté pan with salted water. Add the green beans and bring to a boil. Cook green beans for 5-7 minutes and then remove with tongs to a separate plate.

Pour out the water from the sauté pan and add a little olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the diced shallot and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring.

Once the shallot is translucent and a little browned, add the green beans back to the pan. Sprinkle a little salt, ground pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Turn heat down to medium low and add 2 tbsp. butter and toss. Cover and warm the green beans back up for about 4 minutes.

Grilled Veggie Salad

This was a total experiment but it turned out to be pretty darn good. My mom sent down an eggplant from the plant I insisted on planting this summer and I had extra squash and zucchini from last weeks grocery trip, along with half of a tomato. I was just going to grill them all like I usually do, but I wanted something a little different tonight. So I figured I would grill them all separately and then chop them up and combine them into a salad-like concoction and drizzle them with basil olive oil and a few basil leaves.

Due to lack of grill space (I couldn’t fit a big steak and all the veggies on the grill) I roasted the tomato for about 40 minutes in the oven. You could easily grill the tomato too though if your grill is big enough – I would just make sure to put it on a piece of tin foil so the juices don’t drip down onto the fire).

I was going to take a bunch of pictures to post, but then a friend called and I got sidetracked. The one picture I do have is slightly blurry and not that great – I do apologize.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 1 Smallish eggplant
  • 1 Yellow squash
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow onion
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tomato
  • ¼ cup fresh Parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Basil leaves
  • Basil Oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Olive oil

Directions

Prep your ingredients: grate the garlic cloves on a microplane or the finest holes on a cheese grater (this helps to ensure the fresh garlic flavor without having chunks of garlic to bite into – it’s my new favorite thing to do). Cut up 5 basil leaves into thin slices. Cut the tomato in half. Cut the ends off the zucchini and squash and cut each in half lengthwise. Cut the ends off of the eggplant and cut into ½ inch thick rounds.

Chop the onion so that it is a pretty wide slice.

Season all of the veggies with a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, a light sprinkling of Cajun seasoning, and salt and pepper. Rub around to coat. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper onto the tomatoes.

Add a few rounds of the pan of olive oil to a pan heated to medium-low heat. Add the onions and a little salt and pepper. Cook covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn up the heat to medium (about 6 or 7 on my stove) and let them begin to get a little char on them. Stir occasionally. Once they’re almost browned, pour 2 tbsp. water on the onions and deglaze the pan. Cover again and let cook until really soft and caramelized. Add the grated garlic and stir to combine. Let cook for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and keep covered.

Place the tomato slices into a preheated oven and cook for at least 40 minutes. If they are done before everything else just keep them warm in the oven and turn the heat down to 150°.

Preheat a charcoal (or gas) grill. When the grill is hot, add the zucchini, squash, and eggplant over the hot coals. Cook until they get a nice char on one side, and then flip. Cook until the other side of the squash is char-grilled. Poke with a fork to ensure they are cooked until pretty soft (if not then move them to the edge of the grill away from the heat). Take all veggies off the grill.

Cut up the veggies into bite sized pieces and throw together in a bowl. Add the caramelized onions, basil, and a little salt and pepper. Taste to see if you want more garlic powder added. Mix together and drizzle with basil olive oil (if you want). Serve and enjoy with steak and mashed potatoes!

Rosemary and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8-10 yukon gold potatoes (or red or Klondike), washed and cut in half
  • 3 huge tbsp. sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  •  1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste (a lot of salt)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Directions

Fill a large pot with cold water and add a fair amount of salt to the water. Add the potatoes to the cold water. Bring them to a boil and boil them for about 30 minutes, or until they very easily poked by a fork and fall off. I think it is hard to overcook mashed potatoes, so I suggest cooking them for longer if you are not sure if they are ready. The last thing you want is pieces of hard potato in your creamy, otherwise delicious mashed potatoes.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them. Roughly break the potatoes apart with a fork or potato masher if you have one. Add all of the butter, sour cream, milk, garlic powder, rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix together until they are pretty smooth. I like mine a little chunky, but if you want yours ultra-smooth you can use a hand immersion blender to get them extra smooth. Taste them and see what should be added. Most likely that will be salt and sour cream, however, they might already be perfect.

Garnish with fresh Parmesan.

Stewed Tomatoes

This is my Nanny’s recipe. It was my one of Big Luke’s (my granddad) favorites. It seems like a bizarre combination, but in fact it is wonderful. Slightly sweet, slightly salty, and very comforting. Not to mention cheap and easy.

Ingredients

  • 1 large can of tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt and pepper
  • About a cup of white bread, cubed
  • 3-4 tbsp. butter

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a pyrex baking dish. Stir around.

Bake for 30 minutes or so at 375°. Stir after about 15 minutes. Wait until it is bubbling slightly and then serve.

Grilled Chicken Two Ways with Green Beans

I decided to try out a new marinade tonight, but I wasn’t sure that I would 100% like it and we are having our weekly ladies night tonight. So, I decided to marinate one chicken breast one way, and a second chicken breast another way (one that I know I love). I served them with stewed tomatoes (see Veggie section of the blog), green beans, and grilled zucchini and squash (see Veggie section of blog).

I forgot to take a picture of the finished chicken and green beans, so the only picture I can offer you is of the green beans, pre-cooking.

Marinade #1: Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette with Herbs

  • ½ cup roasted red pepper vinaigrette (I used Kroger’s brand)
  • 2 tbsp. Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Blend (found in the refrigerated section of the produce area)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder

Marinade #2: Mustard, Wine, and Rosemary

  • 2 tbsp.  Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Garlic powder
  • Provençal Herb Salt (could substitute Crazy Jane’s Salt Mix)
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. white wine
  • Paprika

Other Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • Green beans, ends cut off
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder

Directions

Marinate chicken breast in whatever marinade that you would like. If you are going to try one of each, then just put one chicken breast into one Ziploc bag and add the ingredients for marinade #1 and then do the same thing with the second chicken breast and add ingredients for marinade #2.

Preheat the grill. You want it really hot so that the breasts get a nice char on them.

Cut the ends off of the green beans. Put them in a sauté pan and cover them just slightly with water. Add salt and pepper to the pan.

When the grill is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, over the hottest part of the grill. Move to the edge of the grill and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes total. Remove from grill and let sit for about 5 minutes, covered.

Cover the green beans and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 4 minutes and then drain. Shake a little garlic powder, salt and pepper over top of the beans and toss with a tbsp. of butter.

Garlicky Broccolini

This was an attempt to recreate the broccolini at Maya and Mas, my two favorite C’ville restaurants. I have not been able to duplicate their recipes thus far; however, this is still very tasty.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccolini (AKA baby broccoli)
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon slices (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. butter (I used unsalted)

Directions

Use a microplane or handheld grater to finely grate the garlic (this way you won’t bite into raw garlic). Trim the ends of the broccolini slightly (you still want a longer stem…about 3 inches long). In a sauté pan add enough water to almost cover the broccoli, a few sprinkles of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Turn heat to high, add broccolini, cover and bring to a boil. Let boil (or you could steam them too)for about 3 or 4 minutes. You want the broccolini to be fairly crisp still.

Drain the broccolini and remove it from the pan. Add grated garlic, a shake or 2 (depending on how hot you want it) of crushed red pepper, butter, and olive oil to the pan over medium low heat. Let the mixture warm up. When warm, add the broccolini and toss to coat. Cover and let warm. Add a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice if you’d like. Serve with pretty much anything.