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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
    Author:
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Cuisine: American
    Ingredients
    • 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
    Instructions
    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 thisweekfordinner.com


  2. Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Thanksgiving Prep: Cranberry Slush

    cranberry orange slush vert web

    Everyone seems pretty excited about the Cranberry Slush on my menu, so I think I better get the recipe out there!  Plus, it’s one of the items you can make way ahead of time, so it’s perfect for this week’s planning.  In fact, you need to make it at least 1-2 days ahead so it has time to freeze.

    It’s my Great-Grandma Blomquist’s recipe.  Everyone in my family, from coast to coast, serves it on Thanksgiving.  Definitely a family tradition and one I’m excited to share!

    Cranberry Slush (Original Recipe)
     
    This is a Blomquist family tradition (my mom’s family). Can’t have Thanksgiving without it! Make sure you make the frozen cranberry stuff a day or two ahead and have enough room in your freezer to freeze it. This is the original version, but I always use the Quick recipe (see below).
    Author:
    Recipe type: Beverage
    Serves: 24 servings
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound cranberries
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 quarts cranberry juice
    • 2 quarts ginger ale
    Instructions
    1. Cook cranberries, sugar and water until thickens. Run through a collander. Add 1 quart cranberry juice. Freeze.
    2. When ready to serve, mash up frozen cranberry mixture with 1 quart cranberry juice and 2 quarts ginger ale.

    Cranberry Slush (Quick Recipe)
     
    [i]This is a Blomquist family tradition (my mom’s family). Can’t have Thanksgiving without it! Make sure you make the frozen cranberry stuff a day or two ahead and have enough room in your freezer to freeze it. This is the Quick recipe that I always use.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Beverage
    Serves: 24 servings
    Ingredients
    • 4 cans whole cranberry sauce
    • 3 quarts cranberry juice
    • 2 quarts ginger ale
    Instructions
    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.
    2. Add 2 quarts of the cranberry juice, mix well, then freeze until hardened. You need to make this part at least 1 day ahead of time. I freeze the juice in a flat storage containers so it’s easy to break up later.
    3. When ready to serve, mash up frozen cranberry mixture with 1 quart cranberry sauce and 2 quarts ginger ale.
    Notes
    For those of you who like to make it "interesting"...feel free to spike your slush. I have a few friends who evolved dear old grandmother's recipe with a little vodka and were quite pleased with the results. Grandma's rollin' in her grave!

    cranberry slush sieve sideview webcranberry orange slush storage | thisweekfordinner.com


  3. Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Thanksgiving Prep: Timing

    Timing is everything, right? That couldn’t be truer than when you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner. ESPECIALLY if you only have 1 oven. It is tricky. I thought I’d share my schedule – hopefully it’s helpful to some of you out there.

    Quick Jane tip – once the turkey goes in the oven and I know approximate times for everything (based on schedule below), I write the schedule with specific times on post-it notes and stick that to the wall above the oven, That way I don’t forget when to do things. It helps so much!

    A few days prior:

    • Get that frozen turkey in the fridge! You need 1 day for every 4 pounds to defrost a turkey in the fridge, and trust me, it’s much better to defrost this way rather than in water in your sink (that’s the fast way, but truly not as effective…think, partially frozen turkey Thanksgiving morning).
    • My now-favorite way to cook turkey is to spatchcock and dry brine the turkey. In this case, buy a fresh, un-brined turkey 3 days before Thanksgiving and begin the dry brine process.

    Tuesday:

    • Cut up bread for stuffing. I cut white sandwich bread into bite-sized cubes, spread on cookie sheets and leave out in open air to dry out.

    Wednesday:

    • Make the desserts/pies.
    • Make any casseroles that can sit in the fridge overnight.
    • The first half of my family’s Cranberry Slush needs to be prepared the day before (but can be prepared even earlier if you want).
    • For the years I make squash rolls, I cook the squash the day before.

    Thanksgiving Day:

    • Make the stuffing. (Whatever stuffing doesn’t fit in the turkey, refrigerate until later.)
    • Prep & stuff turkey in the morning and get in the oven. Butterball has an awesome online guide, which includes a calculator to determine how long you need to cook your turkey. My 13 pound stuffed turkey will take 3 3/4 – 4 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. NOTE: If you use my new technique of spatchcocking the turkey, then the turkey will cook much faster and you can put it in the oven a little later than normal.
    • Prepare side dishes that couldn’t be made ahead of time.
    • About 2 hours before turkey is done, begin making rolls. (Click here for my favorite crescent roll recipe.)
    • About 1 hour before turkey is done, prepare mashed potatoes. Keep in pan with lid on until dinner.
    • When turkey is done, take out of oven and cover with foil until later. Casseroles and stuffing can now go in the oven. When those dishes are done, bake the rolls last.
    • Heat up any pre-prepared dishes near the end.
    • Make gravy while casseroles are cooking.
    • Mix cranberry slush at the VERY END right as everyone sits down to eat!

    Just writing this up is making me tired. Glad I have my sister here as sous-chef. 🙂 Even though it’s a lot of work, it is totally worth it – I can’t wait to eat it all!


  4. Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Thanksgiving Prep: Stuffing

    Below is my mom’s stuffing recipe. This is what I make every year – it’s not fancy, but it is so good. There are TONS of fancier recipes out there that I’m sure are delicious, but I like my stuffing simple & straightforward. As with all my mom’s recipes, there are no measurements. So sorry!!! Also, there’s lots of good info in the comments on the Gravy post, so make sure you read them!

    Quick note on more Thanksgiving Prep posts to come: Tomorrow I will share my entire menu for Thanksgiving, including recipes. Monday is all about dessert – so get your favorite recipes to share ready! Tuesday is about timing the meal prep – this is probably the trickiest part of cooking on Thanksgiving. Wednesday…we may be done, we shall see! The coutdown begins!

    Stuffing
     
    As taught to me by mom. Measurements are mine, based on her very vague instructions over the years 🙂
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 loaf cheap white bread, cut into small cubes
    • ½ of a medium yellow onion
    • 1-2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1-2 carrots, grated
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
    • 1 stick butter melted
    • ½ cup - 1 cup chicken stock
    • 1 egg well beaten
    Instructions
    1. After you have cubed the bread, let it sit out for a couple days to get stale OR bake in a 200º F oven for about 20 minutes until bread is starting to harden.
    2. Melt butter in large pan on the stove. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add celery and carrots and cook over low for about 5 minutes.
    3. Whisk together the egg, salt, pepper and sage.
    4. In a very large bowl, combine the cubed bread with the egg and butter/veggie mixture. Add stock, ¼ cup at a time, until it seems like the right amount of moisture.
    5. Bake in a 350º F oven until hot all the way through. You can also stuff some of this in the bird then mix the "stuffed" stuffing with the "non-stuffed" stuffing and combine well.
    6. I always double, triple or quadruple the recipe, depending on how many people are coming! 🙂