Easter green beans

Many of you are not fans of green beans, but I found a recipe that even a green bean hater enjoyed.  I was inspired by the blog Once Upon a Chef and adapted her recipe a bit for my own family this past week. Of course this technique could be tried any time of year, but it is certainly one to remember for those holiday meals.

What I like about the technique is that it starts with French green beans.  That is a special type of very thin green bean, which I am able to find at only some markets. Packaging may say Haricots Verts or Petit green beans.  If you try this recipe with frozen green beans or thick green beans, don’t expect the same result or even worse, your green bean haters will emerge again at the table.

To make the recipe, gather olive oil, red onion, 1-1 1/2 cups water, about 8 ounces of thin green beans, salt and pepper to taste.

Using a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the thinly sliced red onions until soft and lightly browned. While they are cooking, clean the ends of the beans and place into the pan when the onions are ready.  Salt and pepper to taste, and continue to stir them until they begin to slightly cook as well.  I probably sautéed them for 3-4 minutes.

Next, add 1/2 cup of the water and continue to cook on medium heat, never leaving the green beans.  This is a dish that needs constant attention.  The object is to continue to cook until the water is gone. Then add more water and continue until all of the water has been cooked through the green beans with no water left when the beans are done.

This technique will take about 8-10 minutes total time.  Test the beans to make sure they are done cooking.  Check to see if they are easily pierced with a fork, and look cooked through, hot, but not limp and watery at all.

Transfer to a serving dish and be amazed at the flavor and seasoning.

cherry street market –a wonderful fall experience

Last Friday, we took a relaxing Fall drive Up North to Traverse City Michigan.  I certainly do love Northern Michigan and will never give up an opportunity to experience wonderful food, shopping, and of course the Lake.  The weather was lovely and the air was filled with the crisp cooler weather that has rolled into our state.  I enjoyed every minute of the day, especially my stop at the Cherry Street Market in Kalkaska. ( http://www.cherrystreetmarket.com/)

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The vegetables and fruits were overflowing the shelves into bushels and pecks for sale.  The apples, squash, concord grapes and pie pumpkins were beautiful.  I love everything about a farm market.  I love that it is outdoors. I also love that the produce looks and tastes better than anything available at any local grocery store.  The romaine lettuce is deep green.  The corn is super sweet.  The apples are crisp and perfect without any blemishes. I love that I don’t have to “pick through” the pile, because every specimen of fruit or vegetable is picture perfect.  The freshness factor is overflowing.

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I purchased two large bags brimming with fruits and vegetables for $17.  This amazes me, as produce is so expensive at the grocery store. The abundance is breathtaking and the atmosphere is charming.  I love the harvest season and everything about farm produce.  I encourage everyone to have a small garden.  For those items that cannot be grown at your home due to hours of sun available in your yard, or even just space, I encourage supporting local growers in your area.  I have never been disappointed with the quality or the selection at the end of a growing season.

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oven roasted green beans

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green beans never tasted so delicious.  the flavor of fresh green beans is enhanced by roasting for a short time in the oven.  this side dish comes together very quickly.  i served this dish on game night and it was well received.

preheat the oven to 375 degrees.   place a sheet pan in the oven for 10 minutes to preheat the pan.  trim and clean green beans for four people.  place the beans in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and ground black pepper.  i added one sliced white onion and mixed well.

remove the pan from the oven and arrange the beans on the hot pan.  bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp and tender.

i found this recipe in Sandra lee’s semi homemade magazine in the January 2011 issue.  she also added 2 sliced lemons.  instead of sliced onions, she used chopped shallots.

these green beans are a wonderful side dish for fish, chicken or even steak.

green bean and tomato salad

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are you looking for a tasty summer main course salad?  here is one that i found in everyday food by Martha Stewart.  i recently made this salad and took it to a community gardening work party and potluck dinner.

this salad has a nice presentation and can be made an hour or so in advance of serving.  it will be perfect for summer barbecues and other salad suppers.

to make the salad:  cook the green beans in boiling salted water until crisp and tender, about four minutes.  then, drain and rinse the green beans under cool water to stop the cooking process.

meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil.  stir in one pint of cherry tomatoes, which have been halved.

next, stir in 1/4 small diced red onion, and lemon zest to taste.  add about 1/2 cup feta cheese or more to taste, chopped fresh parsley, and one can of rinsed and drained chick peas.  stir all to combine well.  season with salt and pepper to taste.

arrange the green beans on a serving platter and top with the tomato mixture.  chill and serve.

for a nice variety, choose different types of tomatoes. these will add color and interest to the salad.

green bean bundles with bacon and brown sugar

this year, williams sonoma featured this recipe in their thanksgiving brochure. i served the green beans alongside of Ina’s sweet potato puree, which was also delicious as a thanksgiving vegetable.  i would recommend these green beans to those members of your family who don’t like green beans.  they are sweet and delicious.

to make the bundles:  preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the bacon half way for about 7 minutes. drain and blot on paper towels, chill in the refrigerator until ready to prepare the green beans for the meal.  next, clean and trim the green beans.  mix about 3-4 tablespoons of margarine with salt and pepper to taste.

about 30 minutes before mealtime, arrange about 5 to 6 beans in equal portions on a parchment lined baking sheet.  wrap each bundle with the bacon sliced to fit the bundle as needed.  drizzle the butter and using about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, sprinkle the sugar on top of each bundle.

roast the bundles until the bacon is cooked through and brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  serve as a side vegetable with beef, poultry or pork.  these green beans were excellent and looked very attractive on the plate.  this recipe was easy, delicious and very attractive on the plate.

easy dinner

one of my goals is to eat fish twice every week.  not only is fish a healthy protein, but it is very low in fat and very speedy to prepare.

for this dinner, i chose to bake the fish in a ceramic dish, topped with a bit of ground black pepper, dried parsley flakes, and an herbal seasoning in a jar.  with a few tablespoons of water from the tap around the fish, i simply place the dish into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

during this time period, i boiled several small red potatoes for brian on the stovetop.  when their time was completed, i covered the fish in the oven with tin foil and lowered the temperature, until i could complete the vegetables.  i drained the water from the potatoes, and mashed them with their red skins intact, adding a couple tablespoons of margarine, and a 1/4 cup of skim milk.  at the same time, i lightly boiled the green beans and within five minutes the dinner was completed.

preparing cod in this manner, creates a flaky and delicious fish entree, low in calories and fat grams.  over the years, i have tried a variety of seasonings, including lemon, fresh thyme, chives, a selection of peppers, and i have even baked the fish with grape tomatoes.  any of these choices are tasty and quick.