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.


The Quilter

hungry-catepillar Quilting has been around for a long time.  When the English and the Dutch came to America, quilting flourished. Originally it was strictly for keeping warm but over time the patterns became more elaborate.  Women would gather together as a social event making quilts.

In case you are interested in the origin of the word it is derived from the Latin word culcita meaning sack.  If I was talking to the Dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding he would probably be able to tell me the Greek origin of the word.  I could probably google it but it wouldn’t be as much fun. I loved when he would talk about words in the movie. Unlike Tula I found his dialog fascinating.

Pat is our quilter.  It would be nice to have a quilting circle but unfortunately we are all to busy and barely have enough time to do the important stuff like have our wine meetings and drink.  There are always priorities in life.

She has made some really beautiful quilts including one with tee shirts.  I have seen several of those around and love them.  They are especially nice if the tee shirts tell a story. One of my colleagues and her husband attend this festival every year.  They have been going to the Festival  for years.  Every year they buy a new tee shirt.  Many of her husbands tee shirts were a “little” worn and getting a little ratty looking. So she trimmed them and made them into a quilt.  It looked great.

The quilt on the top is the one Pat is working on as a gift for her grand niece. She made the one below for her Mom.   I think she does a great job of picking subject matter and then surrounding it with the perfect fabric.


Sea Glass



This wine deserves a mention.  It was one of the bottles at our wine club in September. The appealing thing about this wine at least to me is it is unoaked.  Yes it does make it a lighter flavored wine. And yes you do need to really think about what you want to serve with it so it is not overpowered.  That being said  I think you are better able to taste the flavors of green apple and citrus making it a lovely wine to sip alone.

A Hearty Vegetable and Meatball Stew


It was a cabin weekend.  The weather was glorious.  There was a tiny chill in the air but by the afternoon it was in the mid sixties.  It was the Perfect day to have  Vegetable and Meatball Stew for lunch.  Margarita Maggie had a great recipe that she made for us.  It gave us all great sustenance so that we were able to do our craft project which I will post on a different day. A glass of wine and a whole grain bread make it a lovely supper.  Stay tuned I have some perfect wines and a bread recipe that is really great.

This is Margarita Maggies recipe

Winter vegetable and meatball stew

2 med. Potatoes cut in 1″ cubes

2 med. carrots  sliced

1 large onion chopped

2 Tbsp. Beef bouillon 

1bay leaf 

1 1/2 tsp. each thyme and oregano

1/2 tsp. Rosemary and basil

1/2 tsp pepper

Bring 4 1/2 c water to a boil. Add all of the above , return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 min.


1 egg

1/2 c. Bread crumbs

1 tsp onion

1 tsp Worcestershire 

1/4 tsp. Garlic

1/8 tsp. Pepper

1 lb ground beef

 Add to broth and cook  15 min.

2 med. Sweet potatoes 1 ” cubes

2 med. parsnips cubed

2 med. turnips cubed

 Add to pot and cook 20 min. 

Mix 1/2 c water with 1/3 c flour. Add to broth and cook 10 minutes.

Comfort cooking for Fall Foodies: Pork and Apple Casserole


Fall is here you can smell it in the air. It is a crisp, clean smell and I love it.  It means that the oppressive summer days are drawing to an end.  Did I mention I hate heat.  The only thing I like about summer is the long days.  I love that there is still some light at 9 PM and in the morning at 5 am.  Oh well I guess you can’t have it all.

Fall also means casseroles and two of my favorite ingredients to use are apples and pumpkin.  I have already shared one of my pumpkin recipes I do a lot of cooking without a recipe so I decided to combine apples and pork to make a stew.  It came out a lot better than I thought it would.  The secret was the spice combination.  I used fresh rosemary, nutmeg and chipolte chili powder and it seemed to work.    I am sharing the recipe with you.  I made a large batch so that I could serve one meal and freeze several meal.


Pork and Apple Stew

3 lbs country ribs

flour to coat pork

1 medium onion chopped

1 lb baby carrots rough chop

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup apple juice

¼ c apple cider

canola oil to brown pork

1 tsp chipotle chili powder,

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 medium gala apple

Salt and pepper to taste


In large pot add onion chopped.  I like bigger pieces so I roughly chop them.  Cut the carrots in relatively large chunks and add to pot. Add the broth, apple juice, apple cider and all the spices. Cook on low heat. Coat the pork with flour and brown in frying pan. Add pork to the large pot with your other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about an hour.  Cut the Apple into cubes and add to pork mixture.  Continue to cook for another half hour.

If you want the stew with a little more kick you can add more chipotle chili powder.

I served this over couscous but you can substitute rice or noodles.