3 large carrots, cleaned and sliced (about 2 cups)
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut bite sized (about 2 cups)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons almond slivers
4 slices thick bacon, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Cook the carrots and green beans in boiling water for 3-5 minutes until crisp tender.
  • Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain and set aside.
  • In a hot skillet brown bacon until crisp.
  • Remove with slotted spoon to drain on a papertowel.
  • Add green onions and saute’ until tender.
  • Add almonds and saute a minute more.
  • Remove almonds and onions with slotted spoon to drain on papertowel also.
  • Add brown sugar and vinegar to skillet and blend well until sugar is well dissolved.
  • Add green beans, carrots, onions, almonds and bacon.
  • Toss until well coated.

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This recipe originally called for ALL processed ingredients ~ from canned green beans to sweet and low, Hormel bacon bits and Campbell’s soup. I brought it into the “from scratch” world and it was a huge success around here!
4 cups fresh green beans, chopped
1 Vidalia onion, sliced thin & chopped, divided
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili seasoning
2 + 2 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons flour 
1 cup pureed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups milk
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a saucepan, over medium heat, sauté chopped onions in 2 tablespoons butter until translucent. 
  • Remove from the heat. 
  • Whisk in the flour so that no lumps remain.
  • Slowly whisk in the tomato puree. 
  • Return to the heat and add salt to taste. 
  • Cook until just boiling.
  • Let cool 10 minutes then slowly stir in milk.
  • Set aside.
  • In a large skillet brown bacon pieces until crisp.
  • Remove to paper towel to drain.
  • Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and saute’ green beans, onion rings and garlic until tender crisp.
  • Add brown sugar, chili seasoning, tomato soup and bacon bits.
  • Combine until well blended.
  • Bake 10-15 minutes.
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Italian Green Bean & Tomato Salad

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and washed
3 cups grape tomatoes
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt & pepper taste
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add green beans and blanch 3-5 minuted until just tender.
  • Drain and rinse with cool water.
  • Whisk together the oil, vinegar and seasonings.
  • Toss together the green beans, tomatoes and onions.
  • Pour marinade over and toss well.
  • Chill 24 hours before serving.

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12 asparagus spears
6 slices bacon
1 can Pillsbury breadsticks

  • Snap off bottoms of asparagus spears.
  • Wash and dry 12 spears of asparagus.
  • Wrap bacon around bottom of each stem and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees until bacon is cooked through.
  • Wrap 1 breadstick around each stalk.
  • Bake according to package directions.

Snap off bottoms of asparagus spears.
Wash and dry 12 spears of asparagus.

Wrap bacon around bottom of each stem and place on cookie sheet.
Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees until bacon is cooked through.

Wrap 1 breadstick around each stalk.
Bake according to package directions.

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Sesame Garlic Green Beans

Sesame Garlic Green Beans

1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic (jar)

Cook the green beans for 5 minutes in boiling water.

While the beans are cooking, combine the soy sauce, sugar and oil, set aside. Spray a sauté pan with PURE. Over a medium heat sauté green onions and garlic until soft. Add the beans. Stir several minutes until well coated. Add soy sauce mixture, stirring constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed.
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Grams made this as a broccoli casserole for years and I recently converted it to include carrots (I love the color combo), remove the yucky for you condensed soup and then I also discovered Joanne at Eats well with Others who is hosting BSI for this month – talk about perfect timing!

4 medium carrots
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter
pinch cinnamon

  • Wash, peel and slice carrots diagonally.
  • In a saucepan combine the water, salt and sugar.
  • Add carrots. Bring to a boil.
  • Turn down heat to simmer and cook until JUST tender crisp.
  • Drain.
  • Toss with butter and cinnamon.

6 broccoli crowns, washed and trimmed into 2 inch pieces (stalks also)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Jumbo egg
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups ritz cracker crumbs**
4 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook broccoli in boiling, salted water or steam until JUST tender.
  • Drain well, cool slightly and toss with carrots and onions.
  • Layer into a greased 9×9 baking dish.
  • Top with cracker crumbs.
  • Melt butter in bottom of saucepan. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
  • Add the chicken broth, milk, mayonnaise and egg, whisking until smooth.
  • Pour over broccoli mixture.
  • Cover and bake 40 minutes.
  • Top with cheese and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes.
  • Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

**I love to substitute Keebler buttery garlic club crackers and add garlic!
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4 medium carrots
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons butter

pinch cinnamon

  • Wash, peel and slice carrots diagonally.
  • In a saucepan combine the water, salt and sugar.
  • Add carrots. Bring to a boil.
  • Turn down heat to simmer and cook until JUST tender crisp.
  • Drain.
  • Toss with butter and cinnamon.
  • Garnish with a pinch of parsley.

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6-12 heirloom cauliflower
2 cups grated aged white cheddar cheese

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch green onions

  • Steam cauliflower until tender.
  • Toss cheese mixture together in a large saucepan and add cream.
  • Heat over low heat , stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth and melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in onion until well combined and heat through.

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In my mind I have this vision of a dish grams made with okra, stewed tomatoes and toast. I wanted to recreate it. It doesn’t appear to have been written down anywhere. I’m sure she used stale white bread too, but since I can’t find a copy anywhere, I’m writing my own version. Do you know how hard it is to find okra here in the west?

1 can stewed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, sliced thin
1 handful snap peas
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray casserole dish with PURE.
  • Layer shallots on bottom, then sugar snap peas and garlic.
  • Pour stewed tomatoes over top.
  • Generously salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle cheese even;y over the tomatoes.
  • Butter both sides of the bread and cut into chunks.
  • Layer the chunks of bread randomly on top of cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

The best thing about the leftovers is you can top it all over again with cheese and toast pieces and it tastes just like the first time!

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1 cucumber, chopped
1 large firm tomato, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

  • Toss chopped vegetables together in a tuuperware bowl.
  • Whisk together vinegar and sugar until well blended and sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour over vegetables.
  • Chill several hours or overnight.
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Cheesy Onion, Broccoli, Mushroom, Red Pepper, and Barley Bake

Cheesy Onion, Broccoli, Mushroom, Pepper, and Barley Bake
Serves 4, adapted from Joanne at Eats Well with Others

2/3 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 large broccoli crown
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 chili pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 egg
1 lb part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper

  • Cook the barley in the water and salt until tender.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Quarter onions. Mince garlic. Wash and chop mushrooms and broccoli into bite side pieces. Wash the peppers, core them, and cut them into small dice. Mince the chili pepper.
  • Mix the ricotta with the egg.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic, onions, broccoli and peppers until soft.
  • Add mushrooms and continue cooking just until mushrooms are slightly sauteed. Add salt along the way. Salt at the beginning and at the end and at every step in-between. Just a little bit each time. It brings out the best flavor in things.
  • Add the basil, oregano, and white pepper.
  • Mix together the barley, onion, mushroom & pepper mix with the ricotta & egg mix. Spread into an 11×7 pan. Sprinkle with the cheeses.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the egg is set and cheese has melted.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes to set. Cut and eat.


Mushrooms and Immunity

In cold and flu season, it is important to eat a balanced diet, including foods that can naturally maintain the immune system. While the science on mushrooms and immunity continues to evolve, we already know mushrooms offer a variety of nutrients associated with immunity. Popular mushroom varieties are a rich source of selenium, a mineral that works as an antioxidant critical for the immune system; and also have ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.

Mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium. Mushrooms also contain other essential minerals like Selenium, which works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize “free radicals” which can cause cell damage. Studies have suggested that selenium may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, may slow the progress of HIV disease and may aid in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma. Studies show men who eat selenium rich foods may lower their risk of prostate cancer.

Potassium (good for the heart) is also found in mushrooms. It has been suggested a diet with potassium may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Copper is another essential mineral found in mushrooms. Copper aids iron (also found in mushrooms) in making red blood cells and delivers oxygen to the body. Mushrooms also contain three B-complex vitamins; riboflavin for healthy skin and vision, niacin aids the digestive and nervous systems, and pantothenic acid helps with the nervous system and hormone production. These vitamins are found in every cell and help to release energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates in food. Vegetarians should know that mushrooms are one of the best sources of niacin. The vitamin content of mushrooms is actually similar to the vitamin content found in meat.

Early Greeks and Romans are thought to be among the first cultivators of mushrooms, using them in a wide array of dishes. Today there are literally thousands of varieties of this fleshy fungus. Sizes and shapes vary tremendously and colors can range from white to black with a full gamut of colors in between.

The cap’s texture can be smooth, pitted, honeycombed or ruffled and flavors range from bland to rich, nutty and earthy. The cultivated mushroom is what’s commonly found in most U.S. Supermarkets today. However, those that more readily excite the palate are the more exotic wild mushrooms such as cepe, chanterelle, enoki, morel, puffball, shiitake and wood ear.

Because so many wild mushrooms are poisonous, it’s vitally important to know which species are edible and which are not. Extreme caution should be taken when picking them yourself.

Fresh mushrooms should be stored with cool air circulating around them. Therefore, they should be placed on a tray in a single layer, covered with a damp paper towel and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Before use, they should be wiped with a damp paper towel or, if necessary, rinsed with cold water and dried thoroughly.

Alternatively, store mushrooms unwashed and covered with a damp paper towel, then place inside a brown paper bag.

Mushrooms should never be soaked because they absorb water and will become mushy. Trim the stem ends and prepare according to directions.

Canned mushrooms are available in several forms including whole, chopped, sliced and caps only. Frozen or freeze-dried mushrooms are also available. Dried mushrooms are available either whole or in slices, bits or pieces. They should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Mushrooms are one of nature’s most versatile foods and can be used in hundreds of ways and cooked in almost any way imaginable.

Mushrooms are available all year round. They are best November through March. Caps should be closed around the stems. Avoid black or brown gills as this is a sign of old age. The tops are more tender than the stems. Refrigerate after purchase and use as soon as possible.

Never immerse mushrooms in a pan of cold water when cleaning, since they will absorb too much water. This will also make it more difficult to cook them, without losing flavor.

Mushrooms contain the same flavor enhancing substance found in MSG, glutamic acid.

Mushrooms are 90 percent water and do contain some natural toxins. It is best not to eat too many raw ones; cooking tends to kill the toxins.

There are 38,000 varieties of mushrooms, some edible, some very poisonous.

Truffles grow underground, are an oak or hazel tree fungus and are found by pig or dog sniffing truffellors. There are two types, black and white. They have a distinctive taste and are prized by many chefs in France and Italy. They are very expensive.

A chemical compound extracted from shiitake mushrooms has been approved as an anticancer drug in Japan after it was proven to repress cancer cells in laboratory studies.

To keep mushrooms white and firm when sauteing them, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each quarter pound of butter.

If you are not sure of the safety of a mushroom, do not eat it regardless of the following test. However, the experts use the method of sprinkling salt on the spongy part, or the gills. If they turn yellow, they are poisonous, if they turn black they are safe.

Fact: The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. It is possible that someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident or perhaps there was a demand and someone sought out a growing method.*

Fact: Whether mushrooms are wild or cultivated they continue to grow after they are picked. People sometimes mistake a thin white material called mycelium for mold, but rest assured it probably is the mycelium growing!

Fact: French farmers grew garden beds in the 1700’s which ended up being too small and too expensive. They later moved their crops to caves created when the stone for building Paris was quarried – this is where the name champignon de Paris originated. American farmers followed the same method.*

Fact: While mushrooms are canned, pickled and frozen, drying mushrooms is the oldest and most commonly used way to preserve mushrooms.

Fact: Mushroom compost can range from being manure or wood based (sawdust, wood chips) to utilizing materials like cocoa bean or cotton seed hulls, brewers grains , even exotic items like banana leaves as substrate.

Fact: One Portabella mushroom generally has more potassium than a banana.

Fact: Mushrooms continue to gain popularity, especially the specialty mushrooms such as Portabella, wild Morels, Oysters and Shiitake. Mushrooms, particularly the Portbella are often used in place of meat in many dishes.

Fact: Commercial mushroom farming began in the early 20th century. Pennsylvania and California are the largest mushroom producers.

Fact: Mushroom “farms” are climate controlled buildings; airflow, temperature and light are all constantly monitored.

Fact: Wild mushrooms can range in price for reasons such as taste, historical significance and availability. European truffles can sell for over $1,600 per pound!

Fact: Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you do choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms (they are called false mushrooms) and can be poisonous.

*Facts from The Edible Mushroom A Gourmet Cook’s Guide by Margaret Leibenstein