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  1. Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch

    Today’s post might be a little controversial. Maybe even more controversial than the 2012 presidential election. I know. Are you ready?

    I don’t like green bean casserole. You know, the casserole that practically everyone else in America seems to LOVE except me. The casserole that graces many a Thanksgiving table every November. I appreciate that it is a staple and I love that other people love it. But, yeah. I’m just not that into it and always pass when it’s available.

    See. Controversy. I may as well just tell you who I voted for for president. That might actually cause less of a stir! So, I voted for…

    What, did you REALLY think I’d fess up about my secret ballot? Yeah right!

    Back to casserole. I decided to invite green bean casserole into my life this year. But I also decided I wanted it to be made completely from scratch. Fresh green beans and mushrooms, no canned soup, homemade onion rings. The task was daunting, but I have to tell you, I am SOOOOOO glad I tackled this challenge. Because the end result was unbelievably delicious. And I am NOT speaking in hyperbole here.

    Our friend Brandon, a renowned casserole hater, took a bite and said, “Where have you been all my life?”

    Is that enough of a build up for you? Are you ready to cast aside the canned soup and the store-bought french fried onions and throw a little blood, sweat and tears into your green bean casserole? Good. Here you go.

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
    Adapted from two recipes, one from Williams Sonoma the other from Cook’s Illustrated
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Cuisine: American
    • 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2”³-3”³ pieces
    • 1 cup water and a large bowl of ice water
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 small onion or ½ regular-sized onion, chopped
    • ⅓ cup flour
    • 1½ cups chicken or veggie stock/broth
    • 1 cup cream
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 3 shallots, sliced very thin
    • ¼ cup flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 cup water to boiling over medium-high to high heat. Add green beans. Put on lid and cook for three minutes. Remove beens and place in ice water. Set beans aside.
    3. Pour water off of the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and melt butter. Add mushroom and cook for about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook an additional 5+ minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Sprinkle ⅓ cup flour over the mushrooms and onions and stir well, cooking for a minute or so. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Slowly stir in the cream. Mix well. Add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Stir well then mix in green beans. Transfer to 9×13 casserole dish and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes (you will put fried shallot rings on top for the last 5 minutes of baking”¦see below).
    4. While casserole is baking, heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix flour, ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper in a medium to large bowl. Mix shallot rings in the flour, coating well. Use your hands to mix the shallots in the flour so you can break the rings up and get them coated really well. Transfer floured shallots with tongs to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are crisp and golden.
    5. Sprinkle fried shallots over the top of the casserole at the 25 minute baking point. Bake 5 more minutes. Serve hot!
    6. If you want to make this ahead of time, I would do everything except the fried shallot rings and put the casserole in the fridge BEFORE baking. Bake 5-10 minutes longer since the casserole will be going into the oven cold and make the fried shallot rings while the casserole is baking.

    green bean casserole from scratch by @janemaynard from

  2. Monday, November 19, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep & Giveaway!} Beet and Carrot Salad

    Thanksgiving is all about rich, comforting foods. That’s one of the things I love about the holiday. That said, sometimes it’s nice to get a fresh salad on the table or some veggies that haven’t been drenched in butter, sugar, or both! Today I have a quick and easy salad recipe for you that offers that element of freshness but still has the Thanksgiving comfort of autumnal, root vegetables.

    Two weeks ago I ate at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay for the first time. I ordered the clam chowder, of course! And it was amazing. Oh. Those. Clams. Anyway, my friend Mindy and I split a beet and carrot salad, to counteract the buttery, creamy soup we were going to be eating for dinner. The salad was great! The roasted carrots and beats were delicious served cold with fresh greens, creamy feta cheese and pistachios. The salad was tossed with a savory dressing, which balanced well with the sweetness of the vegetables.

    The very next day Libby’s asked if I would work with them to make a recipe using their canned sliced beets and sliced carrots. I responded with a big fat YES, knowing that I wanted to recreate the beet and carrot salad I had eaten the night before. The Thanksgiving salad stars were aligning! It’s a simple salad that’s full of flavor, and using Libby’s canned sliced carrots and sliced beets makes it quick and easy to throw together. Quick and easy are always welcome recipe attributes on Thanksgiving Day!


    Before we get to the salad, how about a giveaway? Okay? Okay!


    The randomly-selected winner of this giveaway will receive a KitchenAid 6-Qt. Slow Cooker along with an assortment of Libby’s fruits and vegetables, courtesy of Libby’s. For the record, this slow cooker is totally awesome. Four heat settings and all kinds of programming options? Totally jealous. Anyway, enough about me and my envy, here’s how you can enter!


    • Simply leave a comment to enter! If you’d like to share your favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipes in your comment, we’d love to hear your ideas, although it is not mandatory.
    • For additional entries you can “Like” Libby’s on Facebook and/or follow Libby’s on Twitter. Be sure to leave separate comments for each entry!
    • All comments must be added to this post by Midnight PT on Tuesday, November 27.
    Big thanks to Libby’s for an awesome giveaway! Good luck to all! And now for the salad!
    Beet and Carrot Salad
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Vegetable
    • 1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens
    • 1 can Libby’s sliced carrots, drained
    • 1 can Libby’s sliced beets, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
    • Shelled pistachios, amount to taste
    • Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese, amount to taste
    • Your favorite savory oil and vinegar salad dressing (don’t use a sweet salad dressing)
    1. Mix everything together! Add salad dressing right before serving and toss.

  3. Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Week 304 Menu

    Good morning! Hope you’re having a better day than my 4-year-old Anna, who I am renaming Debby Downer. Except Debby Downer is too cute a name for what we’re dealing with here. The big question is, how do these kids still look so adorable, even when they are monsters? Here’s hoping for a better day than morning…I need it!

    I can’t believe Thanksgiving is here! I’m going to be cooking all week getting ready for our FEAST, so I am not planning anything fancy the other days.

    – Chicken tenders (from the freezer)
    – Veggie (carrots, probably)

    – Paninis of some sort


    – Happy Thanksgiving!
    Be sure to click here and share your Thanksgiving menu!

    – Leftovers

    – Leftovers

    – Leftovers or waffles (depending on how many leftovers there are!)

    I know it may be a quiet week for menus, but please still share what you’ve got planned! And, yes, I’m asking you to do a little more this week…be sure to click through and post your Thanksgiving menu on the post from Friday! Thanks everyone!

    Oh, and stay tuned Monday and Tuesday for two more Thanksgiving recipes! I love this food-focused time of year! 🙂

  4. Friday, November 16, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep} The Menu

    It’s time to share our Thanksgiving menu plans!

    This year I am going with my Thanksgiving basics, the recipes we use year after year. No experimenting, nothing crazy. I want a super comforting Thanksgiving table! And I don’t even care that there’s not one fresh vegetable or salad to be seen!

    Here’s what I’m making on what days:

    • Monday: bake and smash the butternut squash (for rolls) and sweet potatoes (for souffle) (will freeze on monday, then defrost on wednesday, to prolong freshness)
    • Tuesday: Cranberry Slush base, Roux for the Gravy, Cut up bread for stuffing and let sit out for two days
    • Wednesday: Broccoli Casserole, Corn Souffle, Sweet Potato Souffle, All the Desserts (we are meeting with friends for dessert, so we’ll split the duties), Mashed Potatoes
    • Thursday: Turkey, Gravy, Rolls, Stuffing, Heat/Cook all the Side Dishes

    I am excited to see all of your menus, whether you’re going basic and traditional like I am or thinking outside the Thanksgiving box! If you have recipes or links to recipes, please share those, too!

  5. Thursday, November 15, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Cranberry Orange Slush

    Every year of my life I have had cranberry slush at Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition from my mom’s side of the family that we all faithfully stand by year after year, and with good reason. This stuff is delicious! Every year I put cranberry slush on my Thanksgiving menu, hoping some people reading will adopt it as one of their own holiday traditions. I think I’ve converted a few of you over the years!

    thanksgiving cranberry orange slush from @janemaynard at

    Cranberry slush is a great drink to serve when entertaining for the holidays. Cranberry-flavored anything reminds me of the holidays, and this recipe can be easily scaled up to serve lots of people. This year I’ve added a twist to the recipe, creating cranberry orange slush. Orange is another one of those holiday flavors that I love, so I figured throwing it in with cranberry would be a good thing. I was right! The cranberry orange slush is just as good as the original, just less tart with a sweet and fresh hint of orange flavor. I sort of feel like I’m betraying Great-Grandma Blomquist a bit by changing things up, but I’m sure she would approve of this tasty concoction!

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Cranberry Orange Slush
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Recipe type: Thanksgiving, Beverage
    • 2 cans whole cranberry sauce
    • 4 cups orange juice
    • 2¼ cups cranberry juice
    • 2¼ cups ginger ale
    1. Run whole cranberry sauce through a colander (pictured here) or press through a fine sieve with a large spoon (pictured here) over a large bowl. Keep pressing until you just have skins left in the colander/sieve. Add the orange juice, mix well, then freeze until hardened (I always make this part of the slush at least a day or two before Thanksgiving). I freeze the juice in a flat, plastic container so it’s easy to break up later (this recipe fit in an 8½ cup flat tupperware, pictured).
    2. When ready to serve, mash up the frozen juice in a large bowl. I break it up with a butter knife and then smash it with my pastry blender. Add cranberry juice and ginger ale until it’s the consistency you like. I like to keep it on the slushier side and let it melt in the glasses, but feel free to add a bit more than the recipe calls for. Serve immediately! (Mixing the slush is the last thing I do before we sit down to the Thanksgiving table!)
    3. Makes about 12 servings.

    I used Tropicana’s Pure Premium orange juice, which is 100% pure Florida orange juice. I love that it is made with fresh oranges. It tastes mighty fine. In fact, I may have taken a few swigs straight from the bottle on occasion. I kind of can’t resist. Connect with the folks at Tropicana at


  6. Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Caramel Apple Galette

    For the last week, I’ve been brainstorming a way to make a caramel apple pie. In theory, it sounds delicious. But Nate and I both agreed that in practice it might not work the way we envision it. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it would work and I’m just over thinking it! Regardless, all this caramel apple pie thinking inspired what I actually ended up making…a caramel apple galette! For some reason, in my brain the caramel just seemed to work better with a galette than in a pie.

    Yesterday I made this caramel apple galette and it came out great! Super yummy and I loved the caramel flavor paired with the apples (I know, big surprise). I also sprinkled a bit of coarse salt on top at the end. Salted caramel is always welcome in my world!

    I didn’t add the caramel until right after the galette came out of the oven. I wanted the caramel to be smooth and gooey, not burned or caramelized. This technique worked perfectly.

    I combined a few recipes and also simplified things by using a store-bought crust. Feel free to use your favorite homemade crust recipe if you like. For Thanksgiving cooking, I like to simplify wherever I can. In this case, a store-bought crust did the trick and tasted wonderful!

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Caramel Apple Galette
    Recipe type: Dessert, Thanksgiving
    • One 9-inch pie crust (homemade or store-bought from the refrigerated section at the store)
    • 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced about ¼”³ thick
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
    • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3 pinches of salt
    • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (i.e. sugar in the raw) – you can use regular sugar if you need to
    • 1 egg, whisked with a bit of water
    • Caramel ingredients:
    • ½ cup of granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, warm
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice. Add ⅓ cup granulated sugar, the cinnamon and salt and stir well.
    3. Lay rolled out 9-inch pie crust on cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Make sure there aren’t any holes in the pie crust!
    4. Pile the applies in the middle, leaving about a 3 inches of crust around the edge. Fold edges of the dough up around the apples. Make sure not to break any holes in the dough and also make sure the dough wraps up and over the apples so there isn’t any leakage. Pour most of the sugary-lemon juice leftover in the apple bowl over the apples.
    5. Brush outside of crust edges with egg then sprinkle with coarse turbinado sugar. I sprinkled a bit of that sugar over the apples as well!
    6. Bake for about 40 minutes, until crust is dark brown. Remove from the oven and immediately pour caramel sauce (see directions below) over the apples, making sure to not spill over the edge of the galette. I poured most of the caramel from this recipe over the galette, with about ¼ cup or so left over.
    7. If desired, sprinkle galette with a bit of coarse salt.
    8. Caramel Instructions:
    9. While galette is baking, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat until it starts to brown, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.
    10. Once sugar water is light brown, remove from the heat and add your room temperature butter. Whisk the butter in, being sure it’s totally combined. Add the warmed cream and whisk vigorously. (Watch out for steam when adding the butter and especially the cream.) Let sit until galette is done. Caramel should be pourable consistency.
    A note on transferring to a serving platter:
    If you want to transfer the galette to a serving platter, as I’m sure you will, it is a 2 person, 3-4 spatula job. Four-year old Anna was my assistant with moving the galette and she did beautifully!

  7. Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Brown Butter Squash

    Last week I met some friends for dinner at an Italian restaurant in San Francisco. We ordered a salad appetizer to share, which was topped with squash cooked in brown butter. The salad was good, but honestly, I could have eaten a pound of that brown butter squash for dinner and been happy.

    Since squash pretty much screams autumn, I decided brown butter squash would make for a great Thanksgiving side dish. It’s easy, it’s wholesome, it’s comforting. And that bit of sage sprinkled in? That seals the Thanksgiving deal. I don’t know about you, but all I have to do is smell a bit of sage and I’m immediately transported to Thanksgivings past.

    brown butter squash with sage by @janemaynard from

    Owen and I are eating the squash that is pictured for lunch today. He’s gobbling it up.  Pun intended. In fact, I’m going to see how many times I can use the word gobble before Thanksgiving arrives…get ready!

    Brown Butter Squash
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Squash
    • 1 acorn squash (or any kind of winter squash you like), peeled, cored and cut into small cubes (about ½”³ in size) – my acorn squash yielded about 4 cups of cubed squash
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • ½ teaspoon dried sage
    • salt & pepper
    1. Heat a medium-large-ish skillet over medium heat. Add butter and whisk until butter browns. Here’s what will happen”¦the butter will melt, then it will start to bubble, then it will really start to bubble and foam, then that bubbling and foaming will stop (although there will still be residual bubbles) and THEN the butter will brown. Take it off the heat at this point – you don’t want it to burn. This whole process takes about 5 minutes.
    2. Whisk in the sage, then add the cubed squash to the pan and toss to coat in the butter. Return the pan to the heat, heat the pan back up to medium, then turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pan and cook until the squash is soft. This will probably take about 5-10 minutes. Once it’s the consistency you want it, take the lid off, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste, carefully stir and flip the squash to coat, let cook 1-2 more minutes, then transfer to serving dish. Be sure to pour all that yummy browned, seasoned butter over the squash because, darn, that is some good butter.
    3. Probably about 4-6 servings if used as a side dish. Feel free to use more squash, just up the amount of butter and spice accordingly!


  8. Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Week 303 Menu

    Look at this pear! It’s a mutant! Seriously, the one on the left itself is a little larger than normal, just to give some perspective. I think my organic CSA farm is using growth hormone in their pears. Scandal! 😉

    It’s the last full week before Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? I have some fun Thanksgiving recipes coming this week as we prepare for the big day. Stay tuned!

    Confession – I didn’t get to half of my menu last week. I don’t even know what happened with that! Here’s to a more successful cooking week!

    Cilantro Sour Cream Enchiladas

    – Corn muffins

    – Take out after swimming lessons

    – Leftovers

    – Hamburgers (we haven’t made these for dinner at home in ages!)

    Corn chowder

    – Leftovers, breakfast for dinner if needed

    Can I just say for a moment that I love it so much when you all “talk” to each other in the comments each week, asking and answering questions and sharing recipes? It’s so great! I love our little meal planning village! Enough blubbering, carry on! Please share your weekly menu!

  9. Friday, November 9, 2012

    {Food for Thought Friday} All You Need is Love

    Photo courtesy of the inspiring Tracey Clark from Shutter Sisters

    Today I feel sad. But with that sadness I also feel hopeful.

    I feel sad for those who, still reeling from Sandy, were hit once again this week with more destructive weather. Weather that makes it hard to clean up the mess that is already there. Cold weather that is impossible to fend off without heat and electricity.

    But I feel hopeful for these same people. Hopeful when I hear story after story of those sacrificing to help others, stepping up to comfort, feed and house those who can’t do so for themselves. Like Tad Long, a Dallas food truck owner I heard about through one of my high school friends in New Jersey. He’s heading to the Jersey shore this week. His food truck can serve 200 meals, so he’s serving those meals to people in need, even if it means driving 1,500 miles.

    Despite the destruction, I have hope. People are resilient, especially when they lift one another up, love one another, serve one another.

    In addition to the storms, the election has made me sad. Well, the election itself hasn’t made me sad. In fact, I’m grateful for the election, for the process, for what it represents. Taking my kids with me to vote was incredibly positive and uplifting. What makes me sad is watching the reactions of some people to the election results. I have been stunned at comments by friends and family, both online and in person. Hurtful comments that have brought people I love dearly to tears (I may have shed a tear or two myself, hurting for those hurt by the comments).

    I know this is nothing new. It happens every four years. The losing side gets frustrated, sad, often angry. According to a Montreal-based immigration lawyer, every four years Americans start calling in September, convinced they will be moving to Canada in a month’s time. (In case you’re wondering, only 3 or 4 people in 30 years have made good on that promise.)

    In spite of my sadness, though, I feel hopeful.

    Hopeful…because of people like my amazing friend Amy, a committed Republican who posted on her Facebook wall the night of the election, “Congratulations to President Obama. He fought a hard race and, while I hoped it would go the other way, I salute him as my Commander in Chief and pray he is successful in his hopes for a better America.”

    Hopeful…because of people like my thoughtful and passionate friend Carina. I don’t react very emotionally to the results of elections (even though I react emotionally to people’s reactions), so I have a hard time understanding where many of the negative commenters are coming from. But Carina does, and she has great empathy for those who are feeling sad/frustrated/angry this week, even if she disagrees with them politically. She wrote a letter to her conservative friends and it’s wonderful.

    Hopeful…because of people like Emily Ley, a Romney supporter who wrote a touching letter to her son, teaching him about respect and love, in spite of differences.

    And I believe that is the key: LOVE. I know it might sound cheesy or cliche, but love is transformative. It just is. If you stop and put your love glasses on, you see people differently. And, as a result, you treat them differently. And while love may not make things perfect, it does make things better. I believe John Lennon was right: all you need is love.

    No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, we all have the same goal, to make our world a better place. We may have different means to reach that end, and that’s okay. That’s the beauty of our country. We all have the liberty to believe what we want to believe. For example, I am not libertarian and my friend Dennis is. We don’t agree, but I seriously love it when he comments on my Facebook posts. He’s thoughtful about his beliefs and I completely respect him, even if I interpret things differently.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

    I’m going to stick to love, too. Let’s love each other, in spite of our differences. In fact, let’s love each other because of our differences. It’s hard sometimes, but I have great hope that we can do it. And, when we do, we’ll be that much closer making our world the better place we are all striving for.

  10. Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    {Kitchen Tips} Caramelized Onions

    Last night we had honey goat cheese and caramelized onion pizza for dinner. This is one of my FAVORITE recipes, so if you haven’t tried it, hop to it! Anyway, as I was caramelizing the onions yesterday to prep for the pizza, I was thinking of maybe writing a post about my technique. We had a couple of friends over last night and one of them mentioned that whenever she tries to make caramelized onions, she burns them and it makes her so mad. That sealed the deal…I decided a post was in order!

    I have made a few batches of caramelized onions that go the way of burned onions myself. I had tried techniques from reputable sources, but always ended up burning some of the onions. After much trial and error, I finally have the process down and they come out GREAT, not a burned onion to be seen! I am no longer scared of caramelizing onions…yep, I was scared of them before. 😉

    Caramelized Onions
    • 2 onions
    • Olive Oil
    • Sugar
    1. Cut off the ends of your onion and remove outer layer. Cut onion in half (so the cut ends are facing out on the sides when you do the cut) and lay the large cut sides down on your cutting surface. Slice onions very thinly, starting from one of the small cut outer edges and going straight across the onion.
    2. Heat about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick, wide pan (that has a lid) over medium heat. Add onions. Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir and cook onions until soft. Reduce heat to medium-low. If the pan surface seems a bit dry, add a little bit of olive oil and toss to coat. Put lid on the pan and let onions cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Total cook time will be about 20-30 minutes. Go head, do other stuff, just remember to lift the lid and stir periodically. Cook until onions are a nice dark brown color and have reduced in volume significantly.
    3. Here is why I do what I do. I like to add a bit of sugar to help with the caramelization. I use a non-stick pan, which has worked better for me than stainless steel. The lid being on the pan during the long cooking portion of the program is key. By keeping the lid on, enough water stays in the pan to keep the onions from drying out and burning. Please note that I don't think this is the traditional way to cook caramelized onions, but I'm a busy mom who can't mess with high-maintenance onions...I need a foolproof way to cook them without burning them and this works for me!
    4. Voilà! Caramelized onions!