Life’s Ambrosia Green Bean Casserole Sunday, Apr 17 2011

If this dish doesn’t scream Thanksgiving I don’t know what does. There are so many varieties out there that it’s impossible to wrap your head around them all. Maybe your mom uses frozen green beans, maybe your grandma uses canned.  Maybe your aunt Sally likes to use cream of mushroom soup while you’re uncle Bob likes to top it with a corn flake cracker mixture. Like I said, there are a plethora of ways to make this dish. And if all of those aren’t enough, I thought that I would throw in my two cents too. In this recipe fresh green beans are topped with a creamy sauce made with crimini mushrooms, onions, half and half and cream cheese. Then it’s topped parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs and baked until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbly. Now THAT is a casserole.

While growing up we used to have green bean casserole every year at Thanksgiving. “Used to” being the key phrase. You see, it was always on the table but it never got eaten so mom eventually stopped making it. I, however, always liked the idea of green bean casserole so now that I am hosting my own Thanksgiving I thought I would take a crack at it. The result was a side dish that I am crossing my fingers will please my guests because I can tell you now, this will definitely be on our table.

Serves 4 – 6

You will need:

  • ice cubes
  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 1/ 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. Place a few handfuls of ice cubes in a large bowl of water to make an ice bath.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add green beans and cook for 3 minutes or just until bright green. Transfer to ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and transfer to prepared baking dish.
  4. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook onions and mushrooms 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. In the same pan add 1 more tablespoon of butter and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk and half and half. Return mushrooms and onions to pan. Stir in softened cream cheese. Once melted season with salt and pepper. Pour over green beans.
  5. In a bowl combine parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until bread crumbs are browned and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly. Serve.



Beecher’s World’s Best Mac and Cheese Sunday, Apr 17 2011 

Beecher’s owner Kurt Beecher Dammeier gave away the much-sought-after recipe for Beecher’s macaroni and cheese in his new cookbook, “Pure Flavor” (Clarkson Potter, $32.50). The secret to its luscious richness? Cheese, cheese, cheese and cheese. And don’t forget the butter.



6 ounces penne pasta

2 cups Beecher’s Flagship Sauce (recipe follows)

1 ounce cheddar, grated ( 1/4 cup)

1 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated ( 1/4 cup)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil or butter an 8-inch baking dish.

Cook the penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and set aside.

Combine cooked pasta and Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and then the chile powder. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

NOTE: If you double the recipe to make a main dish, bake in a 9-by-13-inch pan for 30 minutes.



1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

14 ounces semihard cheese, such as Beecher’s Flagship, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)

2 ounces grated semisoft cheese, such as Beecher’s Just Jack

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chile powder and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.

NOTE: A single batch of sauce makes enough for a double recipe of macaroni and cheese.

Read more:

Southern Living Cornbread Dressing Sunday, Apr 17 2011 

Deliciously moist and perfectly seasoned, this five-star recipe really has no rivals. It does take a little extra time to prepare cornbread dressing from scratch, but it’s definitely worth the effort and freezes beautifully.

Southern Living Cornbread Dressing

  • YIELD: Makes 16 to 18 servings
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, divided
  • 3 cups white cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 7 large eggs, divided
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups soft breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium onions, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 large bunch celery, diced (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage*
  • 6 (10 1/2-ounce) cans condensed chicken broth, undiluted
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • Place 1/2 cup butter in a 13- x 9-inch pan; heat in oven at 425° for 4 minutes.
  • Combine cornmeal and next 5 ingredients; whisk in 3 eggs and buttermilk.
  • Pour hot butter into batter, stirring until blended. Pour batter into pan.
  • Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.
  • Crumble cornbread into a large bowl; stir in breadcrumbs, and set aside.
  • Melt remaining 1/2 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions and celery, and saute until tender. Stir in sage, and saute 1 more minute.
  • Stir vegetables, remaining 4 eggs, chicken broth, and pepper into cornbread mixture; pour evenly into 1 lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish and 1 lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Cover and chill 8 hours.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • *1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage may be substituted for fresh sage.
  • Andouille Sausage, Apple, and Pecan Dressing: Brown 3/4 pound diced andouille sausage in a skillet over medium heat; drain. Add sausage; 2 Granny Smith apples, chopped; and 2 cups chopped toasted pecans to dressing. Proceed as directed, baking 40 to 45 minutes or until done.

Southern Living 

Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet Coffee Fudge Brownies Monday, May 31 2010 

So maybe you can have your New Year’s resolutions and your cake, too. This recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet,” a beautifully photographed ode to healthier eating, is whole grain and vegan, but tastes decadent.

If you buy raw walnuts, toast them by spreading them on a baking sheet. Place them in a 350 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant. Stir the nuts once or twice as they toast.

Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours (20 minutes active)

Servings: 12

For the brownies:

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups maple sugar

3/4 cup soy/rice milk blend (or any nondairy milk)

3/4 cup brewed decaf coffee

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

For the glaze:

1 1/2 cups grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips

1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan) butter

Heat the oven to 325 F. Coat an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan with oil or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together both flours, the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the maple sugar.

In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, coffee and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to mix well. Stir in the walnuts, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the brownies have cooled, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan bring about 1 inch of water to a boil. Set a stainless steel bowl over it. Add the chocolate chips and butter to the bowl and stir until melted and smooth.

Pour the warm glaze over the entire pan of brownies, smoothing it over the surface. Chill until the glaze has set, about 1 hour.

(Recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet,” Rodale, 2009)