Holiday Casseroles

One of my friends took an informal poll today at the gym. He was asking everybody if they liked green bean casserole, which is a tradition in many homes on Thanksgiving Day.

I would guess that at least 90 percent of my fellow exercisers said they dig the dish, which contains green beans, cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onion rings.

While I like the green bean casserole, it’s not one we have at the holidays. Besides the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, we have so many other foods (such as baked oysters, buttercup squash, sweet potatoes and a carrot and onion mixture in tomato soup, just to name a few), that there just isn’t room for much more.

However, another one of my exercise compatriots, teacher Susan Zukowski, mentioned one of their traditional holiday dishes  — corn casserole — which piqued my interest. Susan said it’s her grandaughter’s favorite. Besides corn, it also contains pasta and Velveeta cheese. I’m hoping to get the recipe from her so we can try it sometime.

Although I don’t have her recipe, here’s another that’s probably pretty close to it, as well as one for a green bean casserole, but not the traditional one you might be used to having.

Corn Casserole
1 can whole-kernel corn, undrained
1 can cream-style corn
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup small cubed velveeta cheese
½ cup margarine, cubed
In a bowl, combine both corns. Add macaroni, chese and margarine; mix well.
Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Green Beans with Mushrooms, Almonds and Carmelized Onions
2 pounds frozen cut green beans
Cooking oil
2 small yellow cooking onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 12-ounce package white button mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
¼ to ½ cup butter (½ to 1 stick)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook beans in microwave according to package directions. Drain well. In a large skillet or saute pan over low heat, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once heated, add sliced onions and a sprinkling of salt and saute slowly, about 20 minutes, until onions are wilted and take on a rich caramel color.
Remove onions from pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium and add sliced mushrooms. Saute mushrooms over medium heat until they turn dark brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add butter to pan and melt, then add garlic and saute quickly, 1 to 2 minutes, watching so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add beans to garlic butter and stir to coat. Toss in mushrooms and caramelized onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with almond slices.
Yield Serves 12.