November 2015 - Buttered Side Up

Green Bean Casserole From Scratch

Green Bean Casserole From Scratch | Buttered Side Up
Green Bean Casserole has actually never played a huge part in my family's Thanksgiving meal. Which is a shame, because it's delicious.

But until last week, I had never attempted making it. It seemed like one of the those dishes that was hopelessly processed. I mean, store-bought French fried onions are the epitome of processed, right? And most recipes I knew of called for canned soup as well. Not exactly the most nutritious side dish.

Green Bean Casserole From Scratch | Buttered Side Up
This year I was on a mission to tackle this Thanksgiving staple and make something less processed. I was going to fry my own French onions if I had to. 

After looking over The Faux Martha's recipe, I noticed that she mentioned that she got her French fried onions from Trader Joe's. So when my sisters and I took a trip to the cities, I kept my eye out for them. I actually found some at IKEA, and the list of ingredients was quite short: onion bits, palm oil, wheat flour, water, and salt. Certainly not a health food, but it wasn't going to kill me if I so much as looked at it. So I snatched up a can.

I must admit that even as I was making this casserole, I wasn't so sure that it was going to be fabulous. But one bite put my fears to rest. The creamy, hearty sauce is amazing, the onions on top are so so yummy, and the green beans make you not feel so bad for eating this dish. Heh heh. 


This recipe is pretty heavy on the mushrooms and fried onions (mua-ha-ha-ha). If you want a higher ratio of green beans to mushrooms or onions, simply double the rest of the ingredients and leave the amounts of mushrooms or onions the same.

If you'd like to make this recipe completely from scratch, you can make the fried onions yourself: HERE and HERE are some recipes. And HERE is a gluten-free option.

DO AHEAD: You can make the green bean cream sauce and keep it in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle the fried onions on top in the last 10 minutes or so of baking time.

Green Bean Casserole From Scratch
adapted from The Fauxmartha | makes 3-4 servings | PRINT

  • 3/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch sections.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup onions,  finely diced
  • 5 ounces cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few leaves of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup fried onions


In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the green beans and some salt. Cover and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for 2 more minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk in the stock and cream. Bring to a boil and boil until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the green beans. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Sprinkle the fried onions on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Easy Baked Pumpkin Custard with Nutmeg Whipped Cream

Baked Pumpkin Custard | Buttered Side Up

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week already!

We have had such a mild November. Highs in the 50s and 60s. It feels more like October! It just doesn't seem that I've been able to squeeze in enough pumpkin desserts before Turkey Day.

Baked Pumpkin Custard | Buttered Side Up

If you're looking for an easy way to get your pumpkin fix, this custard is definitely the ticket. All you need to do is whisk together the custard ingredients, pour into ramekins, and bake until set. Serve with nutmeg whipped cream and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg on top and this will seem like a fancy dessert.

Easy Baked Pumpkin Custard
adapted from Primal Palate | makes 6 servings | PRINT


  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
  • 11 ounces heavy cream (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar, organic cane sugar, sucanat, etc.
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Place 6 ramekins on a shallow rimmed baking sheet. 

Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl. You could also use a blender to do this. 

Fill ramekins about 3/4 full with the custard. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until just set. 

Cool for a bit. Serve warm or room-temperature with whipped cream (sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with a bit of vanilla extract and freshly grated nutmeg). Sprinkle extra nutmeg on top.

Baked Pumpkin Custard | Buttered Side Up

What I Ate Wednesday (11-11-15)

Note: Butcher box sent me a box to review. All opinions are my own.

What I Ate Wednesday is my chronicles of what I eat in a day. You can see all of the posts by clicking HERE

Overnight Oatmeal (made with quick steel-cut oats) with butter, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cinnamon, banana, pecans, and cream.

Asian-style beef (from my Butcher Box) in a coconut sauce over rice with carrots, soft-boiled egg, and sauerkraut.
I wasn't super thrilled with this dish - I should have added more fresh veggies!

Afternoon Snack
This is one of my all-time favorite snacks: A spoon of peanut butter poked with dark chocolate chips. You must have a glass of cold milk as well (I like to mix in some collagen for extra protein).

I apologize for the horrible lighting, but the light fades quickly in the fall/winter here in northern Minnesota.
We had pumpkin waffles with cuties and fried eggs.

We went to my family's house to watch a movie, and we had buttered popcorn while we watched. Helen really went to town on it (she was watching Peppa Pig).
I also had half of a peach fruit bar.

And that's what I ate last Wednesday! 
What's YOUR favorite afternoon snack?

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
I have always been skeptical of processed foods. Margarine was the bane of my existence at 5 years old. I detested Little Debbie snacks. And I turned up my nose at canned cranberry sauce.

I saw the dish of perfectly round, sliced, jellied cranberry sauce sitting at the Thanksgiving table, and it gave me the heebie-jeebies. I simply wouldn't touch the stuff.

Then I was introduced to whole-cranberry sauce. It was more like cranberry preserves, so I gave it a shot. And I loved it.

But the store-bought stuff was made with high fructose corn syrup. So I decided to make my own. It was way easier than I ever imagined. I've been making it ever since. And so should you!

Also, funny story: Helen has been going through a phase where she thinks she knows everything. She wanted to sample a cranberry, and I tried to warn her that they were very sour. She insisted that they weren't, even before she tried one. When I gave her one, she spit it out. But she liked the sauce!

Is there any Thanksgiving food that you used to dislike but now love?

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
adapted from Simply Recipes | makes about 2 cups | PRINT


  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 12-ounce package (about 3 1/2 cups) fresh cranberries (you can also use frozen)
  • zest of 1 orange (optional)

Bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and zest and return to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Mash the cranberries with a potato masher if necessary to break apart any whole berries.

Transfer to a jar and allow to cool before storing. Store in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Kitchen Haul

Note: Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own.
Kitchen Haul
When my sisters and I took a trip to the cities a couple of weekends ago, I made a pretty good kitchen/food haul. 

The first place we stopped to shop was World Market and I went hog-wild.

I picked up a couple of shallow ramekins, a mini ramekin, and a mini wooden bowl.

Kitchen Haul
I also got a couple of 100% linen napkins (love that purple color!), a metal-handled spatula, a set of elongated measuring spoons (I've always wanted some), and these cute little spoons.

Kitchen Haul
We also stopped by IKEA, and I got this adorable set of label stickers.

Kitchen Haul
I also get a set of small glasses there. Can't go wrong with $2.99 for a package of 6, eh?

Kitchen Haul
I also stocked up on some pantry items:

At World Market I got some Devonshire cream (I've always wanted to try the real deal) and organic ramen noodles (just noodles, no soup packet).

At IKEA I bought some blueberry and lingonberry jam and fried onions.

I did a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Foods, and also picked up some Go Raw "cookies" for Helen.

At Trader Joe's I picked up some cocoa powder and their Harvest Blend Herbal Tea.

Kitchen Haul
I got some pasture-raised eggs at Whole Foods. I have to admit that the packaging alone would be enough to convince me to buy these. ;)

Kitchen Haul
I bought two packages of the Trader Joe's puff pastry because I CANNOT find natural puff pastry in our town. Now I have to decide what to make with it...

Kitchen Haul
I've really been enjoying the Harvest Blend tea from Trader Joe's. It's so autumnal.

And there's my haul from out trip to the cities.

Is there anything I just HAVE to get next time I go to Trader Joe's? Give me your recommendations in the comments!

Transitional Whole Wheat French Bread

Whole Wheat French Bread | Buttered Side Up
Whole Wheat French Bread | Buttered Side Up
Whole Wheat French Bread | Buttered Side Up
Whole Wheat French Bread | Buttered Side Up

When my sisters and I took a girls' trip to the cities, one of the best food experiences of the weekend was the fresh bread from the Italian restaurant we visited on Saturday night. There's just something about bread warm from the oven. I kind of wish I could have made my meal off of just that.

Last week, being out of many pantry staples, we decided to do a grocery run. We weren't feeling like driving down town to the local health food store, so we did all of our shopping at Walmart and Target. After we finished browsing the produce section at Walmart, Reuben took a stroll through the bakery section. 

"Surely he's not going to buy bread here!" I thought. We were all out, but I was hoping to make some. Bread is so easy to make at home. To my relief he walked on through.

The next day I decided to make fresh bread. I remembered that amazing bread from our trip, and decided on French bread. I got started fairly early in the morning, so we were able to have it with lunch. It was delicious warm from the oven. It was excellent toasted the next morning as well.

Note: I called this "transitional" whole wheat French bread because it's made with part white, part wheat flour. You could definitely up the amount of whole wheat flour if you like, but the bread won't be as light. 

You can also double the ingredients to make 2 loaves.

Whole Wheat French Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour | makes 1 loaf | PRINT

  • 2 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (5.5 ounces) hard red wheat
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg white, mixed with 1 tablespoon water


In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose and whole wheat flours. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture with the yeast. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, warm the water, sugar, salt, and butter to 115-120 degrees F. If it gets too warm set aside to cool a bit. Pour the water mixture into the flour/yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon for a minute. Add remaining flour to make a soft, somewhat sticky dough.

Scoop the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 6 minutes. Pour a bit of olive oil into a bowl, add the dough, turn once to coat with oil, and cover and let rise until it doubles in size, about an hour. 

Gently punch the dough down. Roll into a rectangle a bit shorter than your baking sheet. Roll up the dough cinnamon-roll style, making sure to seal the dough at each turn. Seal the ends. Transfer to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Cut slits into the top of the dough. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

15 minutes before the dough is finished rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare the egg wash. Brush the top of the dough with the wash. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the top with the egg wash again. Return to oven and bake for another 15-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cool on wire rack before slicing (if you can wait that long). 

Whole Wheat French Bread | Buttered Side Up

What I Ate Wednesday: Girls' Trip to the Cities

What I Ate Wednesday: Breakfast at the Hotel

Last weekend, my sisters and I took a girls-only trip to the twin cities. None of us were either nursing or (hugely) pregnant, so we decided we'd better seize the chance.

We ate our breakfasts at the hotel. I opted for oatmeal (with butter, cinnamon, walnuts, half-and-half, banana, and "sugar in the raw"), orange juice, and an orange.

After breakfast, it was time to start shopping! We went to World Market and then The Mall of America. When we were too hungry to continue shopping, we decided to have lunch. We ate at Masu Sushi and Robata in the mall. 

My sisters were kind enough to order a cooked sushi so I could sample it. We also had shrimp and pork steamed buns. My sister got a bubble tea from the shop next door (sorry about my band-aid).

My younger sister and I shared the shrimp yakisoba and pork belly ramen. That yakisoba was one of the most delicious things I've eaten in a long time.

When we were all done shopping, we stopped for ice cream at Coldstone Creamery. Two of my sisters and I split a "That's How I Roll" -- so good!

After shopping at IKEA, it was time to go out for supper. We chose Ciao Bella. It was a fun experience - our waiter was pretty animated. He tried to convince us that we wanted to order wine, and he had quite the theatrics for sprinkling parmesan and pouring water.

 We started out with warm olives and fresh bread. Wow, that bread. My younger sister and I split the fettuccine with "natural" chicken (even though the watier insisted that it would be a tiny portion).

The next day we did some shopping in downtown St. Paul. Of course we had to stop in Anthropologie. I was surprisingly restrained and didn't buy anything (perhaps because I had already bought so much at World Market and IKEA...haul coming next week).

For lunch we ate at Cossetta's. And of course we had to have some of their pastries for dessert. My younger sister and I had the Italian Napoleon, French macarons, and gelato.


The lemon macarons were fabulous. I need to learn how to make both the Napoleon and the macarons.

That was definitely an awesome weekend. I had an amazing food experience. But I was dying to see Reuben and Helen by the last day.


Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
I have been planning to make this soup for about a month. You see, some squash are at their best if you let them "cure" for a while after they are harvested. So I waited patiently for the optimal flavor/texture to develop. And last week I finally cut into my precious butternut squash.

You see, I had procured it from the farmers market a month earlier. When I told Reuben that I was planning to make soup from it, he objected vehemently. I told him the soup was for Helen and I and that he couldn't have any. 

It was delicious. I know Reuben would have hated it (as he did last year), but my sister and I adored it.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
This soup is quite easy to make. Start by chopping your squash in half. It's SO much easier if you use a rubber hammer to tap on the back of your knife, y'all.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Slice the top off of a head of garlic.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Pour about half of a tablespoon of olive oil into the cavity of each squash.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Place the head of garlic upside down in one of the holes.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Sprinkle the squash with salt.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Pour a bit of water into the pan.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Roast in a hot oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender. Cool and remove the squash flesh from the skin.

Heat up some broth (chicken or beef) and bacon grease. Add the squash, garlic, and some cream. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pan. Heat just until hot. Serve with bacon. Mmhmm.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
My sister made cheddar chive scones to go along with this soup. It was a wonderful pairing.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup
recipe by Erica Kastner | Makes 4 servings | PRINT

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • crumbled bacon, for serving


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. Pour about half a tablespoon of olive oil in each cavity. Slice the top off of the garlic head and place it upside down in one of the cavities. 

Place the squash on a baking sheet. Pour a bit of water in the bottom of the pan. Bake in preheated oven until fork tender, about 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool and scoop out the flesh of the squash and squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head.

Meanwhile, heat the bacon fat and broth in a pot over the stove. Add the squash, garlic, and cream. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Return to pot and heat just until hot. 

Serve with crumbled bacon.

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