Aug 28, 2012

bean casserole (without the can)

Classes started yesterday.  I'm always excited to get started, greet the new faces, plan some new lessons, and get back into a routine.  But, that excitement tends to be short-lived.

I really struggle at the beginning of a new semester.  I want to stay home, to cook, to walk the dog, to keep the apartment clean, and to have a moment to breathe.  But, I also want to get out and work.  It's a little bit of an internal war every August and January.

Generally the pre-semester breakdown happens a few days before classes start.  This time, though, it held off until day one, actually the end of day one.  Weird, I know.  Needless to say, I'm a little miserable to be around during those transition days.

For some reason, I'm always surprised when I finally have my little breakdown.  My husband is not.  We have had the following conversation about 12 times now:

Me: "I don't know why I'm so tired.  My whole body hurts.  I just want to stay home and cook.  I haven't had a chance to take the dog for a walk yet today and he's driving me crazy.  I've been running since 5 am.  How are we going to balance everything this semester?"

Hubs: "It's the first week of class.  You know this happens each semester, right?  We'll figure it out; we always do."

Then I feel like a lucky girl with a great job and an amazing husband.  And life goes on, dirty dishes and all.

During my pre-semester break yesterday, I decided to make some green wax bean casserole.  It's similar to the stuff made with canned mushroom soup and those crunchy little onion things, but it's made with recognizable ingredients.  And it's simply irresistible.

Post-casserole, as I was getting ready to make a big dinner, I decided against the homemade bread, marinated fish, and vitamin greens that were going to accompany this casserole.  And I made a frozen pizza.  It's a balancing act, getting back into real life.

Bean Casserole (Without the Can)
Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb fresh beans (I used wax beans, but I've also used green beans in the past)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 c milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Start by bringing a medium or large pot of water to a boil.  In the mean time, prepare the beans by snapping off the stem ends and discarding them.  You can also cut the beans in half if you want to be fancy.  Also, roughly chop the onions.  Pour 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions, stirring them often to caramelize them while keeping them from burning.  Once the onions are lightly browned, pour them into a bowl and set them aside.

Once the water is boiling, add the beans.  Allow the water to return to a boil and boil the beans for about 3 minutes before draining them. While the beans are boiling, you can make the sauce.  In order to have less dishes to take care of, put the butter in the saucepan the onions cooked in earlier (the onions are no longer there, though).  Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and mix it in well, breaking up any flour chunks.  Once combined, add the milk.  Mix the milk in well and, stirring often, keep it over the heat.  Within about 3 minutes the sauce will thicken.  You want it just thick enough that the spoon will leave a trail behind it that will just last a second.  At that point, remove the sauce from the heat.

Combine the beans, onions, and sauce in a large bowl (or the pot you boiled the beans in).  Mix everything so the onions are distributed and the sauce coats everything.  Season the casserole lightly with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8x8 square glass baking dish.  Top it with breadcrumbs and bake it for 25-30 minutes.

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