I just love this time of year, everything about it! The hustle and bustle, the twinkling lights, the smell of cinnamon spice, Bing Crosby, the slight chill in the Florida air, gatherings with family and friends and, of course, the delicious food!
Every year for the holidays, my husband and I head back to my hometown of Salem, Oregon. I count on and look forward to this tradition like it’s part of my being. Along with many other traditions that I hold near and dear, I, for the last six years, have been entrusted with the job of preparing the green bean casserole. The first year I was given this task, I decided that since I was in school, studying to become a dietitian, I could not possibly use canned green beans. I had to use fresh. As the years flew by, I found myself reflecting on each year's recipe — were the beans too soft, were there enough mushrooms, should I use garlic, how could I have made it better?
As I started planning this year’s holiday festivities and green bean casserole, it made me think — why not reflect on the entire season? Every year the holidays just fly by. I look forward to them every year, getting giddy around Halloween because I know it’s coming. And then, all of the sudden, it’s a new year.
So this year I decided to do some reflecting and try to savor every moment, and I encourage you to do the same. I began by contemplating last year's holiday — what I enjoyed, what I may have done different, what I missed out on, all of it — and then I asked myself the following questions:
1. What was the best part of last year's holiday season?
2. What are three changes I can make to ensure this year is more fulfilling than last?
3. What are a few actions I can take to make sure this happens?
Challenge yourself to reflect this year; I truly believe this will help all of us enjoy the holidays even more!
But one thing won't be changing: I'm still, of course, making the green bean casserole — recipe below.
Green Bean Casserole
Recipe developed by Abigail Dougherty, RD, LD
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons butter
8-ounce package of assorted wild mushrooms (crimini, shiitake, oyster)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can/carton of condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used Pacific brand organic cream of mushroom soup)
1 cup milk of choice
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
2 ½ cups french fried onions, divided
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook beans in a large pot of boiling water until bright green, around 10 minutes. Rinse and drain beans. Set aside.
- In the same pot, melt butter and sauté mushrooms until they start to release liquids. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Add soup, milk and ground red pepper and stir while bringing to a boil.
- Return green beans to pot and add 1 cup French friend onions and stir until combined.
- Coat 2 ½-3 quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Pour bean mixture into this dish.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and add remaining 1½ cup fried onions. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes.