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Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

November.  Are you already thinking of that special Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings?

If your holiday includes Green Bean Casserole like ours does, where we open a can of creamed soup and it is oh so quick and easy? Well, I ran onto the most delicious “Ultimate Green Bean Casserole.” You will agree it is worth a little more effort because your guests will be wowed!

I am including the complete recipe, however, if you would like more detailed step-by-step instructions, here is The Daring Gourmet’s Website:


Ultimate Green Bean Casserole


  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces fresh button or cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed, halved, and blanched (boil 5 minutes, place beans in ice water for a couple of minutes, drain)
  • 1 can French fried onions


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in the same skillet and whisk in the flour. Once combined, continue whisking for another 2 minutes until the mixture has slightly deepened in color. Add the half-and-half and chicken broth while constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Once slightly thickened, add the cheese and whisk until melted and combined.
  4. Next add the mushroom/bacon mixture along with the salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the green beans. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour the bean mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish and sprinkle the French fried onions all over the top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serves 6-8 ENJOY!

Mary Z.

Easy Pan O’ S’mores



One can hardly think October without thinking bonfires and S’mores. There is something very comforting about sitting around the fire sharing stories as the cool air and rustling leaves remind us these days are numbered. Yet, at least for these few hours with family and friends, “everything feels right with the world.”

Seems S’mores are a comforting treat that usually only happen around the fire in the fall. And just in case you don’t feel like running through the woods looking for the perfect roasting sticks, I would like to share with you a recipe for S’mores with three classic ingredients. So get out your 8” square pan, and let’s get the job done–start to finish in less than 15 minutes!


Easy Pan O’ S’mores

(6oz) Hersey’s Milk Chocolate bar, chopped

(9) Graham crackers, broken in half

(36) Marshmallows, large size cut in half and divided


Heat the oven to 350◦

Place the graham crackers on the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate and cover the chocolate with remaining graham cracker squares. Arrange 4 marshmallows cut side down on top of each graham.

Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool about 5 minutes…if you can wait!

Makes 9 servings




BLT Wraps


BLT Wraps


August…ah…tomatoes are plump and plentiful, so why not enjoy BLTs?

Also, why not do them with a new twist–securely snuggled in Tortilla wraps. Purchasing thick-cut bacon and frying it to a nice crispiness adds crunch to every bite. I like to prepare the bacon ahead of time.  It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. When a quick supper or picnic party comes along it will be easy-peasy to grab and go!

Cast of characters:

  • Tortilla wraps
  • Tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Mayo
  • Lettuce
  • Onion…and any other ingredient ideas you may have.


Fruit Pizza

Have you ever had a Fruit Pizza?

July (or anytime) is a good time to try this cookie with fruit on it…piled high.

Your party fans will love you for your creativity.

This recipe is easy to make, and not a whole lot of ingredients are required.


1 (18 ounce) pkg. refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 (8 ounce) pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. milk, cream, or orange juice

Strawberries, kiwi, peaches, blueberries

1 jar of apricot or peach jam


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the cookie dough and place on a greased pizza pan. Press and flatten dough into the pan, forming a crust. Bake 10-12 minutes and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, soften cream cheese with milk or juice and spread over the cooled crust. You may want to zap the cream cheese mixture in the Microwave 10-15 seconds if it is not spreading at a consistency that is to your liking. Or mix a dollop of Cool Whip into the cream cheese before spreading.

Begin arranging your fruit by starting from the outside working into the center. Make it as colorful as you would like.

In a sauce pan on low heat, spoon in about a ½ cup of the jam with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. cornstarch. You may need about a ¼ cup of water also. Just bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow to cool but not set up. Gently pour over the fruit.  Chill for two hours, then cut into wedges.

Yum Yum!

Mary Z.

Rhubarb Dessert

June seems to be rhubarb season, and I can still smell and taste my Mother’s rhubarb dessert. Every farm lady had her own rhubarb patch, and not to be wasteful, when everyone had enjoyed lots of rhubarb pies, breads, and desserts, most mothers would also make rhubarb sauce. The dessert recipe I am about to share has a mile-high meringue, with a custard filling and wonderful crust. It sounds complicated….but it’s easy and well worth your time and effort. Enjoy!


Rhubarb Torte


½ cup soft butter

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup flour

Mix all together and pat in a 9×9 pan. Bake in 350◦ oven for 10 minutes.



2 ½ cups rhubarb, cut up

3 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp. flour

½ teas. salt and ½ teasp. vanilla

½ cup cream

Mix all together and pour over the partially baked crust. Bake at 350◦ for 40 minutes.



3 egg whites

5 Tbsp. sugar gradually added to egg whites while beating, then add

½ teas. Vanilla

When the whites hold stiff peaks, they are ready to spread onto the warm filling. Brown the meringue in the oven, (about 5-8 minutes) but watch closely.

Mary Z


Yummy Lemon Bars


Who doesn’t think about lemon desserts in the springtime? This lemon bar recipe is old, but tried and true. They cut, keep, and carry well. That is, if they last that long!


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar (plus more for decoration)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoon butter, slightly cooler than room temperature, cut into 1″ pieces


  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice from 4 large lemons, strained
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 13″x9″ baking dish and line with a sheet of parchment paper. Dot the paper with butter, then lay a second sheet crosswise over it.
  2. Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor or blender. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds. Pulse until the mixture is a pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle the mixture into the lined pan, and press firmly with your fingers into an even 1/4″ layer over the entire bottom of the pan and about 1/2″ up the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake about 20 minutes.
  3. While the crust is cooling and baking, whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour for the filling in a medium bowl, then stir in the lemon zest, juice, milk and salt to blend well.
  4. When the crust is done baking ,reduce the oven to 325F. Stir the filling mixture to re-blend, then pour into the warm crust. Bake about 20 minutes, or until the filling feels firm when lightly touched (about 20 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Lift the confection up by the parchment paper and transfer to a cutting board. Fold the paper down and cut into serving size bars.
  5. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the bars for decoration.
  6. Enjoy!


Mary Z.

Quinoa & Vegetables Recipe

Ah…Spring! Time to toss off the old and spring into the new. If you are like me it is time to transition the wardrobe, get a new hair cut…and dig for recipes with veggies and a lighter touch. This recipe packs a punch of goodness in flavor and texture. I think you will enjoy!


Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula


Ingredients                                                                                        Yield: 4-6 servings                                                                                               

1 cup quinoa or whole wheat cous cous, uncooked

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 large sweet potato cut into medium chunks

2 large carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large parsnips, peeled, halved, and cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons pine nuts

6 ounces baby arugula leaves

1 cup Parmesan shavings, divided




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare quinoa according to package directions. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the garlic. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.

Arrange the vegetables on a large baking sheet with sides. Pour over half of the melted garlic butter, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast the vegetables for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they’re nice and deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool slightly.

Add the pine nuts to the same skillet over low heat and toast them for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown. Set aside.

Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Toss in the roasted vegetables and half the Parmesan shavings. Squeeze lemon in the remaining melted garlic butter and add to roasted vegetables. Toss in the arugula (it will wilt slightly) and the pine nuts, then sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan on top.

~ Mary Z.

Yummy Yellow Cake

Yummy Yellow Cake

No matter the celebration, be it springtime, a birthday, or a special treat for guests, a yellow layer cake is a classic. Our family favorite version of this recipe was to layer it with sliced bananas and lots of whipped cream. Yum!

2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting             1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda                                           3/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar                                                          3 tablespoons vegetable oil

10 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature                          2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks, room temperature                         3 large egg whites, room temperature




  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9″ cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper. Grease the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and knock out the excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy (about 30 seconds). While beating, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks just form (30 to 60 seconds). Set aside.
  3. Gradually add the butter mixture to the flour mixture while mixing until it’s fully incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in 1/3 of the egg whites into batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and tap the pans against the counter to dislodge any large air bubbles.
  5. Bake until the cake layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (20 to 22 minutes.) Cool the cake on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the cakes from the sides of the pans with a small knife, then invert onto the greased wire rack and peel off the parchment. Invert the cakes again and cool completely on the rack about 1 1/3 hours before icing.
  6. Enjoy!

Mary Z.





Pumpkin Bread


Pumpkin bread was an autumn standby when I was growing up. This moist quick bread recipe from my grandmother’s recipe box spoke of nurture through all the spices, flavors, and aromas. Today when I make this tasty bread, it reminds me to be thankful and resourceful–thankful for the gift of hands to gather fall produce, and thankful for the farm where I grew up and was so privileged to be able to help harvest.


Pumpkin Bread

2 cups flour                                                     ½ teaspoon salt

½ teas. baking powder                                    1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon cloves, nutmeg & cinnamon        2 eggs

2 cups sugar                                                    ¾ cup butter

1 can (15oz.) pie pumpkin


In a medium sized-bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients thoroughly. In a larger bowl, with a hand mixer beat together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until fluffy and light. Beat the can of pumpkin into the egg mixture. Beat the flour mixture in just until combined. Transfer to two lightly greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 60-70 minutes.


(If you choose to use fresh pumpkin, cut the pumpkin into quarters and bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Puree the flesh to equal 15 oz.)




Minestrone Soup

Nothing beats a hearty bowl of steaming soup

on a chilly fall day!


       Mary’s Minestrone Soup


1 # Italian pork Sausage                                 1 T. fresh basil

1 large onion                                                   1 t. fresh oregano

4 large carrots                                                             ¾ t. sweet marjoram

1-2 cans white beans                                      2 cans stewed tomatoes

1 large clove garlic                                         2 cans beef broth



Cook all (but the canned beans) together for a couple of hours…then add the beans and a handful of pasta.


When the pasta in tender, serve up hearty portions of soup with a bit of parmesan cheese on top.




~ MZ