Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Do You Do When It's Cold Out?

This question gave me pause today when I saw it on a coffee shop chalkboard. Some random answers included: bundle up and take a walk, clean house, go shopping, watch TV, surf the Internet etc. But I could relate to this one sit by a fireplace and read. So that's what I decided to do minus the roaring fire and enjoy the Sunday newspaper when I got home. A feature story Wrapped Up in Books by Laurie Hertzel (Star Tribune November 27, 2011 explored reader's recollections of favorite books received as Christmas gifts. It had me recalling books I loved reading growing up.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott that followed the lives of sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace that followed the adventures of Betsy Ray and her family were my favorites read many times over. Do you recall a favorite book received as a holiday or birthday gift? And what do you like to do when it is cold out? I'd love to hear from you and would post your answers anonymously.
I am sure you might also guess that I like to cook when its cold outside and even hot! So here is another recipe for your enjoyment.

A Lighter Side…Home style Green Bean Casserole
Serves 6-8
The traditional green bean casserole gets a makeover from Southern Living November 2011
Now this really caught my attention since this traditional casserole is one of my daughter’s favorite but  not one of my favorites to make. It seems way too rich in calories plus high in sodium using creamed soups and canned French-fried onion rings.
I followed the recipe but changed a few items in the topping to accommodate what I had on hand since I had already made numerous grocery runs over the holiday week. I also added parsley flakes and green onions!
We really enjoyed this makeover and even my daughter did. See what you think.
  • 1-1/2 lbs. fresh thin green beans trimmed
  • 2 TB. butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • ½ cup Buttermilk (can use non-fat)
  • 1 generous tablespoon dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 TB. dried parsley flakes
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 small box fresh white mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped
  • ½ package Caesar crouton
  • ½ cup almonds
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Cook green beans in boiling salted water covered in Dutch oven pan for about 5 minutes
  • Plunge beans into ice water to stop cooking process
  • Drain and pat dry
  • Melt 2 TB in Dutch oven over medium heat whisk constantly about I minute to make smooth and whisk in 1-1/2 cups 2% milk and stir on medium heat 3-4 minutes till thick
  • Remove from heat and whisk in buttermilk, dressing mix, spices, salt and pepper and set aside for a few minutes
  • In skillet melt 1tsp. butter and sauté onions and diced mushrooms-cook about 5 minutes
  • Toss mushroom mixture with buttermilk mixture and fold in green beans
  • Place in a greased 13 x 9 pan
  • Add chopped tomatoes
  • In a blender or food processor crumble croutons with almonds and sprinkle over green bean mixture
  • Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes

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