Archive | November 2016

An Unusual Side

onionsBy know I hope you have seen the other sides that were posted.  Pam has decided to weigh in with one of her own and here it is:

This may be one of the more unusual side dishes for the holidays, but it’s definitely one of my favorites.  It goes well with poultry or beef and will surely get your guests wondering where onions have been all of these holidays.  I adapted this recipe from Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American cookbook.

Ragout of Onions
Serves 4-6
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 stick butter for the bread crumbs
1 stick butter for the onions
2 cups very small onions, blanched and peeled
4 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered, and sliced thin
2 Tbls. flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste (personally, I think more is better with this dish)
1/2 cup good brown gravy
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard (such as Grey Poupon)
Fry the bread crumbs in the pan with the butter.  Cook just until they are golden brown, stirring all the while.  Remove from heat.
Melt the butter in a large skillet and add both kinds of onions.  When they are a light brown, sprinkle with the flour and stir until the flour thickens the dish a bit.  Add the salt, pepper, brown gravy, and mustard.  Bring to a simmer.  At this point, you can make 1 day ahead; cover bread crumbs and onions separately and refrigerate.  Reheat in a 300 or 350 degree oven (depending on what your other dishes require) until warmed through, about 15 minutes.  Serve with the bread crumbs on top.  If you reheated the dish, add the bread crumbs to the dish after it has warmed through and heat in the oven another 5 minutes.

On the Side from our Navy Mom


Growing up the number one requested side dish at our Thanksgiving table was Green Bean Casserole.  The tradition continued in my family and when it was my turn to host it was of course on our table.  It is still a family favorite.

It always amazes me how a dish with such few ingredients tastes so good.  In case you don’t know the history of the green bean casserole here it is.  Campbell’s soup company had a test kitchen in Camden, NJ. Dorcas Reilly was a home economist who worked there. In 1955 she started playing with ingredients and the casserole was born. Campbell Foods estimates that 40% of its Cream of Mushroom soup is purchased to make the green bean casserole.

Here is one of Mary Ellen’s favorite sides  “My personal favorite and several family members love the traditional Green Bean Casserole (mushroom soup & crunchy onions on top) but we’re adding roasted sweet potatoes this year as I love them and it’s so easy! Toss cubed sweet potatoes in a tsp of olive oil and salt/pepper and bake for 45 minutes on a baking rack (don’t bake on a I’ve used the butter infused oil but will experiment with other flavored oils this year.”

Just so that everyone has the original Green Bean Casserole recipe, see below:

  • 1 can Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup orCampbell’s® Condensed 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup orCampbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Healthy Request® Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2cup milk
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1 1/3 cups French’s® French Fried Onions

Just mix it all together  (but save 2/3 of the French Fried onion aside to sprinkle on top) in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and cook at 325 for 25 minutes or until casserole is hot and bubbly.  Top with remaining onions.

If your family is like mine there will be no leftovers.

It would be really great to hear what side dishes you serve at your Thanksgiving meal and if you serve green bean casserole?

The other question I have is if you ever have green bean casserole at another meal other than Thanksgiving?



Decorating is not just for Christmas


I walked into Harris Teeter on Halloween Eve.  I panicked .  I didn’t think I bought enough candy. I figured I would run in and pick up a few bags and be home in time for trick or treat.  Shockingly all the Halloween candy was gone and in its place Christmas stuff.  Don’t get me wrong I love the holiday season.  I love singing Christmas Carols in my car where no one can hear me.  But October 31?  Couldn’t they wait until at least November 1st?

Anyway I asked my wine women about decorating for seasons other than Christmas and Pam came up with some great thoughts on how to transition from Halloween through Thanksgiving. Here is her take:

“My particular slant for fall decor would have to be called versatility.  I’m probably not alone in having a hard time keeping up with the changing seasons this time of year since it comes rapid fire – September (which I consider as the fall kickoff), October/Halloween, and November/Thanksgiving.  It seems that you just get your September decorations up when – hello! – Halloween is here.  That’s why I have embraced pumpkins.  We all have those spots that are our ‘changing stations’.  You know, the place where you put the seasonal switch-a-roo most often.
In addition to pumpkins which can span all 3 months, I have some versatile decorations that perform double or even triple duty.  Here’s a simple example.  I made these simple pumpkins out of 1” pine scraps.  On 1 side, they are just pumpkins.  On the other side, they are jack-o-lanterns.  The consistent item is the candles.
jack-o-lanterns    pumpkins
I also recommend including background changes.  Here’s another ‘changing station’ with the pumpkins being the consistent item and some interchangeable accessories and alternating wall hanging of the month starting with September and moving into November:”
sept  oct    nov

So that is how Pam decorates for the Fall season.

Did I mention that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  The weather is still great.  It involves no requirement to buy gifts.  A meal with my family is always involved. This year will be a little different.  My Mom will not be with us.  Well I should clarify that she won’t physically be with us but she will be there in spirit.  She has passed the torch to me to keep the traditions going.  A very large task and and very big shoes to fill.  I will do my best.

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving, spending time with friends or family or both.