Holiday Cooking: The Very Best Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Last night when I went to sleep, I pulled the covers over my face, grabbed my husbands arm, threw it over my chest, backed him into the farthest recesses of our bed and fell asleep.

I was very comfortable.

At 4 am, I woke up because I couldn’t feel him anymore, so I popped my head up, crawled back over to him and nudged my head into the pocket that sits between his underarm and his right chest breast, and I fell back to sleep.

Because. . .
I was comfortable.
I like to be comfortable.
This is one of the main reasons why I do anything. Because my ultimate goal is comfort.

Why do I cook? Food comforts me.
Why do I put up Christmas lights? Subdued twinkling lights, lull me.
Why did I marry this man? Because he has ridges in his body that fit me perfectly and he’s a really nice blanket pillow. And this my friends, is comfortable.

With all of that said, there are times in my life when I have not been comfortable, and I don’t look back on them fondly.

The year my parents made me join gymnastics. Bad idea.
The day I watched Tommy Granger eat boogers at his desk while we watched 1000 Leagues under the Sea. Unbearable.
And two years ago. When I was forced to play a Mother/Daughter softball game. . . .using my left hand/arm. I think I died a thousand deaths.

And I promise, I’m not over-reacting. It is physically painful for me. I hate it. And, I’m being asked to do it again.

Not join gymnastics.

Play softball.
A Mother/Daughter game. And I don’t wanna.

They may not make me play with my left hand, I’m really not sure. But it doesn’t matter, because what I’m really afraid of is that the lady that wears the brown mu mu and walks dragging her feet will be better than me. And that I won’t be able to hit the ball to save my life. And that if I do, I’ll start to run and my feet will suddenly grow 10 inches and I’ll have to run to first base with my toes jutting out like a clown. And my husband will be watching. .. .and he’ll think, “Damn. I thought she was athletic. Why does she run hunched over like that? Is that her butt jiggling that way? Why is she sweating profusely? Is she panting like a dog? Boy. That’s unattractive.”

And he will hate that he married me, because I’m an embarrassment. And my kids will be ashamed because I suck at softball. And the other moms will whisper horrible harsh things about my sweat pants and my t-shirt not matching or being basketball fashion and not softball fashion. IF THERE IS EVEN SUCH A THING. IS THERE SUCH A THING?


The coach will think I’m pathetic.
And I won’t even be able to participate in the barbecue afterwards because I’ll want to puke.

And so I don’t want to go.
Me thinks, I won’t go.

And probably my daughter will hate me for it. Even though, she has quite seriously SCREAMED in my face that she hates softball. Because, it’s boring.

But it won’t matter. She’ll probably disown me for this one action that I am about to inflict upon her. Because it means she’ll miss a PARTY for a sport she hates. And PARTY in her book always trumps EVERYTHING.

No matter.
She’ll survive.
It’s my duty to make her miserable.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – –

It’s a right of childhood.

In order to understand life little one, you must endure something miserable.
– – – Nicki Woo, Home Guru

Also a right of childhood, Green Bean Casserole.

In order to love life little one, you must find comfort in things that do not normally bring you comfort.
– – – – -Nicki Woo, Home Guru

Yes. Like Green Beans.
Like fresh green beans (not canned) steamed to perfection. Tossed in a creamy sauce (that did not come in a can) ladled and nestled next to mushrooms, bell pepper, and onions, and then topped with crunchy ribbons of sweet fried onions (again. . .not from a can).

Simply done. Harmony in your mouth.
Life is as it should be.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole (No can required)
I got this recipe from my blogging pal, Polwig. She is a Cook’s Cook. Always preparing the most delightful things on her blog.

I made this for Mr. Woo’s Holiday dinner at work, and it was gobbled up. I was hoping it would win ‘Best Side” but of course, they decided not to have a competition this this year. Damnit. I’m sure it would have won. Anyway, here’s the recipe, slightly different from Polwig’s which can be found HERE. I used red onion, rather than shallots (because shallots were expensive at my grocer and I really love red onions). And I didn’t put my green beans in an ice bath because. . .1.) I like them on the softer side and 2.)I can be a little lazy like that.

But I think everything else is pretty much the same.



6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dish
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1\2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound your favorite mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces (I used baby portabellas)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds young green beans, trimmed (If they are young and small, I don’t cut them. But if they are long, you may want to cut them in half)*
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, (I used 2%)
1 pinch cayenne pepper, optional
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 red onion, cut in half and then into thinly sliced strips
*Make things even easier and buy the fresh green beans that are in the steam ready bag.
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the green beans. Boil until the green beans are tender. 4-5 minutes for beans with bite or 6-8 minutes if you like them softer. Drain. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, melt 2 TB butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and turn heat to high (high heat helps to pull out moisture and not make your mushrooms mushy and weird). Cook until mushrooms are browned, remove from skillet. Lower heat to medium and add onion and bell pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes longer or until the other vegetables are soft. Season with 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add mushroom and onion mixture to green beans and set aside.
3. In the same skillet that you used to cook the vegetables, melt 4 TB butter over a medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of flour to the melted butter while whisking constantly. After 2 minutes, add milk and continue to whisk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne (if using), nutmeg, and 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour over bean mixture and stir to combine.

4. To a buttered 13 X 9 inch baking dish, add half of the green bean mixture. Sprinkle with half of the grated Parmesan. Add the other half of the green beans to the casserole. Sprinkle on Parmesan and bread crumbs. At this point you can cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Make it a day ahead if you like, or move to step 5 and serve it now 🙂
5. Make the Friend Onion Strings: Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Toss red onion strings with 4 TB of flour. Fry the onions in the skillet until they are golden brown. Dry on paper towels and let cool. Place in a sealed container or Ziploc bag until ready to serve.
6. If your casserole has been in the refrigerator, let it sit out on the counter and come to room temperature. Heat broiler, and cook covered for about 10 minutes. Remove cover and place back under the broiler and cook for 30 seconds longer, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with Fried Onion Strings and serve.
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