Worrying about the big holiday meal has apparently been passed on to me from many generations before. My mother, grandmother, and aunts started planning their holiday dishes far in advance. Everything had to be exceptional, and it seemed to take them days to cook and prepare for the feast. Don’t get me wrong; they did a fine job of it too! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had any better meals than those in my memories.
I am still going to start planning weeks in advance but after years of fretting I have figured out that every dish does not have to be painstakingly hard or time-consuming. Nevertheless, it can be every bit as delicious.
These days there seem to be fewer casseroles on holiday tables compared to years past. I have noticed at my family gatherings alone; we now have asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and green beans. I never saw those on Thanksgiving and Christmas tables when I was growing up. Sure, there will always be the sweet potato casseroles and a few of the other classics. However, with our society being more health conscious, and fresh produce more readily available, fresh vegetables have become increasingly popular side dishes for holiday feasts.
Thanks to Berry Farms in Lyons I have these wonderful fresh organic green beans. These fabulous green beans are not only delicious, but they are very easy to prepare as well. You may find that this becomes a year round side dish because they are so yummy!
Balsamic and Garlic Green Beans
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Cook beans in boiling salted water to cover over high heat for 6 minutes; drain. Plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process; drain.
- Saute garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the beans and saute 3 to 4 minutes. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper; saute 1 minute.
If you search my website, you will find very few recipes with condensed creamed soup listed as an ingredient. I usually try to make a homemade version. It’s easy to make, the recipe can be found easily with a Google search, and it is lower in sodium.
However, just like you. I sometimes struggle to get food on the table for my family. I just don’t have it in me to cook or to clean up a mess in the kitchen. Those nights would be pizza delivery nights if only I lived in a pizza delivery area! Or maybe we would pick up take-out. If only I were close enough to a restaurant where I could actually make it home with warm food.
I keep a few cans of condensed cream soups on hand for roast or emergencies. I was having one of those uninspiring nights recently. Greg was grilling steaks, which was great, but we needed something on the side. I threw this casserole together in no time, and the results were awesomeness in a casserole dish! I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website and it’s going in my book of favorites!
The casserole has the taste of a French Onion Soup. It would be a great side dish to accompany any meat. It is different from anything I have every seen on a Thanksgiving table, but I believe it would be great with turkey and dressing!
If you want to include this on your holiday table, saute the onions a day or two ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator. Assemble and bake the casserole the day of your holiday meal.
Cheesy Onion Casserole
- 2 - 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 large yellow onions, sliced into rings
- 2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 (10-oz.) can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
- ⅔ c. milk
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- Sliced French Bread (sliced about ½-inch thick)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Melt butter in a large skillet, over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent (a little brown in okay too). Add some freshly ground black pepper and stir.
- Pour the onions into a shallow 2-quart casserole dish. Top with ⅔ of the Swiss cheese and set aside.
- In a medium bowl add the soup, milk, and soy sauce. Whisk together until well blended. Pour over the cheese and onions. Top with French Bread slices.
- Bake in 350° F oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and gently push the bread down into the sauce. Top with remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered, 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
The summer of 2016 has been one of the hottest and dryest that I can recall. Our grass is brown, we have trees dying, and our yard already resembles autumn with the yellow and falling leaves. We, most likely, have several more weeks of hot weather, but I am over summer already!
Labor Day is going to be the unofficial end of summer for me, and I’m going to send it off with a bang! I will be with family this year cooking up all of our favorite summertime foods. Hamburgers and hot dogs, brown sugar baked beans, potato salad, homemade ice cream and my cousins fabulous Twisted Slaw!
My cousin, Regina, has a delicious slaw recipe. It is similar to the slaw I have made for years. However, the addition of bell pepper, chives, and green onions definitely takes her slaw over the top with the fresh flavor. It’s delicious alone or on top of a burger or hot dog!
If you are looking for a short-cut, use the pre-shredded cabbage. Regina says that she does this often when feeding her big family. Prepare several hours before serving and store in the refrigerator. Oh, and don’t forget to have a few extra copies of this recipe handy at the cookout because it’s sure to be a hit!
- 2 heads cabbage, chopped
- 1 lg. carrot, chopped
- ¼ c. chopped chives
- 3 green onions, chopped
- ½ c. chopped bell pepper
- ⅛ c. sugar
- 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. seasoning salt
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1½ c. mayonnaise
- Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, seasoning salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the bell pepper, green onions, chives, carrot, and cabbage and toss to coat the vegetables.
- Chill at least one hour before serving. Several hours makes it even better.
After mixing the slaw taste for sugar. It the slaw has a bitter taste add a bit more sugar.
Wow, what a weekend! It was an extremely busy around our house and quite frankly, I’m getting too old for this! First of all, we helped Savannah move out. She sent photos Sunday afternoon; it looks like she and her roommates have organized and decorated their little house beautifully!
After that hot and heavy job, we had a sick puppy that had to go to the vet, I was busy doing laundry and helping Greg pack for South America, and Wesley’s team had a scrimmage game. I need this week to rest!
Today I’m sharing a wonderful recipe from my cousin, Nancy. She makes this incredible baked squash. It has the flavor or fried squash without the mess of frying! Don’t expect it to be crisp like fried squash, but the flavor is spot on. This recipe is an old one, passed down to Nancy by my Aunt Euly.
On a sad note, my Uncle Manuard died last week. Uncle Manuard married my mama’s oldest sister, Aunt Ruby. Uncle Manuard owned and operated a garage and Aunt Ruby raised chickens. They both loved their nieces and nephews. When we would visit them when I was a child, Uncle Manuard would always take me to the vending machines in the garage for a Dr. Pepper and Barbeque chips. Just goes to show that you don’t have to do fancy things for kids to make good memories. He will be missed, but I’m thankful he is with Aunt Ruby once again!
Southern Baked Squash
- Small baby yellow squash, washed and cut in half lengthwise
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Melted buter, amount depends on the number of squash
- Cornmeal, amount depends on the number of squash
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Pour cornmeal in a rimmed baking dish and set aside.
- Place cut squash in a large bowl and sprinkle with enough water to dampen them.
- Remove the squash from the bowl a few at a time. Roll in cornmeal and place on the prepared pan, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with melted butter. Repeat until all of the squash are coated with cornmeal.
- Bake at 400°F until golden brown. Serve warm.
Independence day will be celebrated a little differently this year at the Melton house. Instead of the typical grilling we are planning a fish fry. Greg and Wes went deep sea fishing in Florida recently, and we have grouper, snapper, and wahoo in the freezer.
We seldom fry because I don’t like the splattering mess that it creates. However, Greg will set up the fryer outside, and we will be in business. With delicious Vidalia onions in season, I plan to cut up a few so that we can have these terrific Crispy Onion Rings too!
The coating is light, crispy, and fabulous. Savannah even said these onion rings were better than The Varsity, and I must agree! They fry up very fast and can be kept warm in a 200° F oven.
Crispy Onion Rings
- 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 to 3 large Vidalia onions, cut crosswise into ½-inch rings
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, more for sprinkling
- 3 to 4 c. club soda, chilled
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- ⅓ c. cornstarch
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder, and 2 tsp. kosher salt. Whisk in 3 cups club soda until the batter is smooth. Add more club soda, about 1 tbsp. at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of thin pancake batter. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 380°F. Dip 8 onion rings in the batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Fry the onion rings in the hot oil over high heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining onion rings and batter and serve hot or warm.