7th House on the Left

This weekend is the last weekend before Thanksgiving. We aren’t hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, but we still have a good-size list of things we want to get done this weekend before the holiday rolls around. This time next week, we’ll all be shopping ’till we drop and feasting on Thanksgiving leftovers.

Happy Weekend / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Everyone has their favorite Thanksgiving foods. My brother’s favorite is our grandma’s mashed potatoes. My dad’s is my mom’s deviled eggs. My mom’s is the turkey and cranberry sauce combo. Greg’s is my green bean casserole.

I was hesitant to post this recipe because I just posted the Pumpkin Cake recipe and we are not a recipe blog! We’ll leave that to the pros. But… Greg loves this green bean casserole so much that he suggested I post the recipe for you all this weekend. Since he rarely suggests posts like this, I had to oblige.

I made green bean casserole the first time last year and came up with this recipe by “doctoring up” another recipe I found online. It was our first year hosting Thanksgiving and since I’m known to be a “semi-homemade” kind of cook, I was trying to impress my family by cooking everything from scratch – right down to the pie crusts. I was a little nervous about everything coming out well – especially since I was making so many new (to me) dishes. I kept imagining everyone sitting around the Thanksgiving table picking at their plates wondering what this or that was supposed to be.

So, to put my nerves at rest, I decided to test drive a couple of the new dishes a few nights before Thanksgiving. My Aunt and Greg were there with me laughing at my kitchen incompetence paired with my stubbornness of  sticking to my “everything has to be from scratch” declaration. After about an hour of sautéing, experimenting and cooking, the green bean casserole was ready to come out of the oven and it was time for the taste test. Well, let me just put it this way… After our first bite, all three of us continued to stand around the peninsula in the kitchen with a fork eating this ridiculously delicious way-too-good-to-be-good-for-you concoction until it was gone. Yes. All of it. Gone! When the casserole dish was empty, Greg immediately went back to the store (at 11pm) to buy more fresh green beans.

I’ve gotten to know this recipe well enough to do it by memory or “by feel”. Sometimes we add more mushrooms or less onion, but here’s a good “baseline” for you to start with:

1/3 Stick Salted Butter
1/2 Cup Diced Onions
1/2 Cup Fresh Baby Portobello Mushrooms
House Seasoning to Taste (1 c salt, 1/4 c black pepper and 1/4 c garlic powder)
2 Cups Fresh Green Beans
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Container French Fried Onions

Start off by preheating the oven to 350°. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the mushrooms and onions until the onions are translucent. Season the veggies with house seasoning (I normally use a “heavy pinch” or two). While the mushrooms and onions are hanging out, boil your green beans in chicken broth for about 12 minutes or until tender. Don’t overcook them or the casserole will come out ultra soupy (been there, done that). Drain the green beans really well and set aside. Add the cream of mushroom soup, French fried onions and green beans to the skillet and fold everything together. Pour the mixture in a greased baking dish and cook until bubbly (about 30 minutes). When the time is up, add more French fried onions to the top and stick it back in the oven to crisp them up.

Making Ahead Instructions: If you’re making this the night before, leave the French fried onions out and put the mixture in a mixing bowl and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook the casserole, mix in the French fried onions and put the mixture in a greased baking dish. I’ve made this dish as far ahead as two nights before and it always turns out just as yummy – maybe even more yummy!

Yep, so that’s Greg’s favorite green bean casserole recipe. What I love most about this recipe is that it’s so easy to make – even for me! – but tastes so much better than the recipe on the back of the French fried onion container. I think it’s the fresh green beans cooked in chicken broth that does the trick.

By the way, sorry for the lack of photos for this post. I didn’t have time to cook some up for the blog, but I wanted to get it up before Thanksgiving.

So what are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? Any recipes to share? Be sure to share your links in the comments. Happy weekend, everyone!

Top image from here.

Today we have a bit of a curve ball coming at you… a recipe. We’re normally not the recipe-sharing type of blog (though we have shared a few in the past) – we leave that to the pros. On the other hand, I wanted to post this one because I’ve had SO many friends and family ask for the recipe since making this for a few get-togethers last year, that I thought it might be fun to share. Plus, ’tis the season for all things pumpkin.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.com

My friend, Tiffany, actually passed along this recipe last year and I was very skeptical because one of the four ingredients for the cake is… Miracle Whip. I loathe Miracle Whip. Greg grew up with using Miracle Whip in place of mayo, but me? No. Can’t do it. Nevertheless, Tiff doesn’t like Miracle Whip either, but she loves this recipe so I decided to give it a try… even though buying Miracle Whip seemed like a crime against humanity. But I did. And it was worth it.

It’s a dense, moist cake that you store in the fridge. It’s almost bar-like – but you eat it like a cake, so we call it a “cake”. What I love most about this cake, especially for the holidays, is that it tastes it’s best the day (or two, or three) after you make it. So, you can make it in advance and not have to worry about it the day of the get-together/party/dinner/etc. And also… it’s freakishly easy with only four ingredients in the cake part.

pumpkincake6

For the ingredients, we have… 1 can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just pure pumpkin), 1 box of spice cake mix (just the mix, not the ingredients on the back of the box), three eggs and 1 cup of, eh… Miracle Whip.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.com5

Mix all of the ingredients together (don’t over mix or it will be airy and less dense) and pour the mixture in a greased 9×13 cake pan.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.comngcake2

 At the last minute, I decided to add some pecans in the batter. I just sprinkled a good amount on top and pressed them down with the back of my spatula.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.com

 Pop it in the oven on 350° for 35 minutes or until “the toothpick test” is clean.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.com

 As for the icing, you can get away with buying the store-bought cream cheese icing in a can if you absolutely have to. However, once you’ve had homemade cream cheese icing, there is no other kind of cream cheese icing. Every time I make it, I use the same recipe: 1 package of cream cheese, 1/2 stick butter (softened), 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbs whole milk, and 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar. I’m not a huge fan of very sweet things, so sometimes I use a little less powdered sugar. If you like your icing more on the sweet side, try using 4 cups instead of 3 1/2. Also, we never have whole milk in the house unless there’s a lot of baking going on around the holidays (we always have skim on hand). I’ve used both whole and skim milk in this recipe and both taste about the same, but the one made with the whole milk seems to stiffen up a little better.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once the cake has completely cooled, plop on the icing and pop it in the fridge for a few hours. Okay, if you can’t wait that long, it’s good right after you ice it too. However, like I mentioned earlier, this is one of those cakes that tastes so much better the day after.

Freakishly Simple & Delicious Pumpkin Cake // 7thhouseontheleft.com

This is a recipe that is pretty versatile. You can even bake it in little loaf pans, nix the icing and you’ll have pumpkin bread. Either way, it’s really good. My grandpa even went as far to say he thinks he likes it better than pumpkin pie. If you know my grandpa, who is a man of few words, you know that’s saying a lot. Click here to download recipe card!

If you’re from the Richmond area, chances are you already know all about Hanover tomatoes. In our house, they are the only tomatoes worthy of a tomato sandwich (soft potato bread, mayo, a few slices of Hanover tomato, kosher salt and ground pepper… yum!) and are highly coveted by our out-of-town family.

The season is at its peak in early July and kicked off my the Hanover Tomato Festival, which was this past weekend. It’s a huge annual event that brings in over 30,000 people from all over the East Coast. They’re games, a petting zoo, lots of vendor booths, live music and a bunch of really yummy food using Hanover tomatoes. Greg said it always reminds him of Food Network’s Iron Chef America with Hanover tomatoes being the “secret ingredient”, haha. They also have a tomato contest (with categories like size, best tasting, best recipe, etc.), the “Best Dressed Tomato” contest and crown the Little Miss Hanover Tomato. Yeah, we take our tomatoes pretty seriously around here.

Hanover Tomato Naan Pizza / 7thhouseontheleft.com

We didn’t make it to the festival this year (it was the same day the carport ceiling was being done), but with Hanover tomato season being in full swing, we’ve definitely been eating our fair share of tomatoes. One of our favorite things to make around this time of year is our version of a caprese naan pizza. It’s fast and simple – my kind of cooking, especially when we’re busy like we’ve been the last month or so.

Hanover Tomato Naan Pizza / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I start off with a pre-made garlic naan (we buy them in the fresh foods section at Target) and add a thin layer of pesto. Pesto is great for this because it already has all of the olive oil, basil and garlic you need in one jar. Add a few slices of fresh mozzarella (you can make 2 naan pizzas with an 8oz ball) and fresh tomato. Then, just top it off with some kosher salt and ground pepper and pop it in the oven on 425° until the cheese is all bubbly and starting to brown. That’s it! So simple. You can also cook it on the grill for that extra smokey crunch factor. Try it. You’ll love it.

As for our plans this weekend… Greg has to work on Saturday, so my cousin/BFF Dana, is coming to town from Charlottesville to have a “Les Miserables Day”. We’re going to watch the movie and make French crepes, haha. We’re dorks. As for the time before and after our girl day, Greg and I will be working on our little landscaping project. Fingers crossed that everything will go smoothly. Tune in next week for the results. Happy weekend, everyone!