Back in the day, we wrote actual letters to Santa. We’d drop our carefully crafted wish lists into the post box and hope for the best. Nowadays, Santa has e-mail and a facebook page. He checks Amazon.com to learn of each little girl and boy’s greatest wishes and he uses his webcam to compose personalized video messages for tech savvy toddlers. And if that weren’t enough, Santa now deploys an army of tiny felt-dressed elves to maintain constant creepy surveillance in our homes. My, how times have changed! But ultimately, all kids are just hoping to end up on the nice list and to receive that special item from their wish list.
As a kid, I repeatedly wished for the Barbie Dream House; the one like my cousins had. Heck, I would have settled for the Barbie Camper, ’cause that was also pretty sweet. I never actually received either of those items. Ahem, Santa! Like many young boys, my husband’s childhood wish was for a Craftmatic adjustable bed. And though he’s certain he was on the nice list (at least some of those years) he never received that Craftmatic bed. I’m sure Santa had his reasons.
Like most parents, I have every desire to make my children’s Christmas wishes come true. Their delight is my delight. But, I can not bring myself to purchase one of the items on my four-year-old’s wish list. The item whose features (squeamish, beware) are described as:
- Create your own delicious treats!
- Eat bubbling brains and zombie skins
- Inject spiders into the eyeballs
- Watch the Zombie’s jaw rip open as it pukes out a brain barf beverage
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- 1 1/2 pounds green beans, lightly steamed and cut into halves or thirds
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 cups baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon salt
- Homemade crispy onions straws*
* Click HERE to see the Pioneer Woman’s step-by-step guide to making crispy onion straws. Her procedure calls for a candy thermometer. And while a candy thermometer would be useful, it is not necessary. Just give the oil several minutes to get really good and hot. Then, test a very small batch of onions. The oil is hot enough when the coated onions bubble frantically and quickly become golden brown and crispy. The onions can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container. They will loose some of their crispiness in the container, but will re-crisp nicely when baked on the casserole!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place the steamed and chopped green beans in a large casserole dish. Set aside.
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and mushrooms. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until they are tender and golden. Sprinkle the flour on top of the mushrooms. Stir and cook for an additional minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce the heat. Add the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Pour the mushroom sauce over the green beans, then give the dish a little shake to help the sauce settle over the beans. Top the mixture with the crispy onion straws and bake for about 20-25 minutes until bubbly hot.
**You can prepare the dish ahead of time up to pouring the sauce over the green beans. Then, cover and refrigerate until preparing to serve. When reheating, allow the beans and sauce to bake for about 10-15 minutes before topping with the crispy onion straws. Once you’ve added the onions, give it another 15-20 minutes to finish baking.