Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cranberry Relish

November 2012 update: The picture I originally had of this Cranberry Relish was so embarrassing that I wanted a redo the second I published this post. Luckily, a year later, I have my chance. (Although, to be honest, I've made this relish a few times throughout the year, so I could've updated it sooner!) I still love the post, though, so I'm keeping it the same.

Definitely pick up the ingredients to make this, especially if you need a ridiculously quick side dish to take somewhere. You won't be sorry! 

(Originally published on November 18, 2011) 
I'm going to be honest, the picture above is horrible and doesn't actually show you how lip-smacking flavorful this is. I took it from my iPhone at my husband's squadron's Thanksgiving lunch today. Calling it a lunch, however, is an understatement. There were roughly 400 airmen (and women) and their families chowing down and enjoying a wonderful meal inside a giant Air Force vehicle maintenance bay—despite the lingering scent of oil and the half-assembled five-ton truck, it was perfect.

All of the families pitched in to bring food, so a few days ago I got a phone call from my husband saying, "I signed us up to take brownies, 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, and four cans of cranberry sauce, but you should make that cranberry stuff you've made before."

"That cranberry stuff" is a recipe from my lovely Grandma, and on the index card she gave me it says, "This is excellent. Add marshmallows and serve at Thanksgiving." Two years ago I took her advice and served this with our turkey and I haven't looked back since. (Although I actually prefer it sans marshmallows—I didn't get my grandma's sweet tooth.)

This relish is fruity, a tad bit tangy, and compliments turkey and ham perfectly. Fair warning: the recipe below makes a lot of relish—about six cups worth—but if you have leftovers, no worries. We've been known to eat this as a late night snack all by its lonesome, over ice cream, spread over a bagel with cream cheese in the morning, or (my favorite) on a leftover turkey sandwich!

Cranberry Relish 
by The Tale of Two Kitchens

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (16 ounce) package frozen whole strawberries, thawed and drained
2 (16 ounce) cans whole berry cranberry sauce, not drained
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
marshmallows (optional, but Grandma says it's better with them)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, chill, serve over turkey or ham, and enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grandma's Green Bean Casserole

This Thanksgiving marks the seventh year I've spent the holiday away from home and I remember the first year like it was yesterday. I was studying abroad in England and my "feast" included a frozen turkey meal, an apple turnover, and potato wedges. I watched "Alias" on my laptop and dreamed of eating all the delicious food I knew my family was consuming back at home. 

Flash forward to two years later. I was dating a man (who would become my husband) and I spent Thanksgiving with him and his friends in Georgia (away from my family again). I needed something to take to the shin-dig and I was already craving it, so I asked my grandma for her lip-smacking Green Bean Casserole recipe. It was a big hit and every bite—down to the last bacon bit—was gone by the time we left. 

Little did I know then, but I haven't spent a Thanksgiving at home since I met my husband. Luckily, I've been able to incorporate all of my favorite turkey-day comfort foods into our holiday meal each year, and this casserole always tops the list. Then again, anything that's creamy, cheesy, bacony (it's a word), has a salty crunch mixed into it, and is disguised as vegetables has to be great!

Now that we're living in Italy, making this has been a little trickier. My mom has to ship me one of the ingredients (thanks, mom!), and the store on base typically runs out of fried onion pieces, so you have to plan accordingly and get them in advance. This casserole is worth it, though, and so easy to throw together.

The recipe below serves around 8-10, but I typically double it when I'm serving it for a large group. Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving, so these days I don't get hurt if people aren't licking the pan at the end of the night—it just means more for me to eat on Black Friday and over the weekend! 

Grandma's Green Bean Casserole
by The Tale of Two Kitchens

  • 32 oz. package of frozen French-style green beans
  • 1 (10.5 oz) can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 (5 oz) jar of Kraft Old English Cheese Spread (usually next to Velveeta
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 (3.5 oz) container of French's Fried Onion pieces (or more...more is always better)
  • 1 (2 oz) real bacon bit pieces (I've made it with "real" bacon and it tastes better with the jarred bacon bits)

Cook green beans by directions on package and set aside in a colander; let drain for at least 30 minutes—try to get as much liquid out as you can. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

Combine soup and cheese spread in a large, microwaveable bowl; heat in the microwave until both stir together easily.  

Heat butter in a pan on medium; add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste; keep stirring. Mushrooms will eventually produce their own liquid; when this happens, turn up the heat a little bit so the liquid can cook off.  

Once mushrooms are cooked, add to the soup and cheese mixture. Add salt, pepper, and garlic; stir to combine. Toss green beans into the mixture along with some onion pieces and bacon bits; stir. 

Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray; place mixture in dish*. Top with the rest of the bacon and onions. Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy :)

*If you have a small, oven-proof dish, make your own little portion to enjoy while you wait for guests to arrive!