Hope you had a fun, spooky, and exciting Halloween. There seemed to be many creative ideas out there to allow our kids to continue to enjoy that traditional holiday. I imagine that some of the ideas, since they were new and fresh, will continue to be a part of celebrating for years to come. That’s a positive thought as we move forward with our holidays.

If you are interested in our North County history, and particularly Atascadero, email atascaderocolonymuseum@gmail.com and visit atascaderohistoricalsociety.org to learn about the continuing work being done at the museum and get an update about other work and activities going on at the Colony Heritage Center. It is a “work in progress and will be a wonderful addition to the community of Atascadero.

Remember to continue your North County history education by visiting 

pioneermuseum@att.net in Paso Robles. Historical organizations are so important to our communities and we are blessed to have active groups in Paso Robles and Atascadero.

Now, speaking of holidays, as I did at the beginning of this column, we will soon be preparing for Thanksgiving. We probably will not have as many folks at the table as we have had in the past, but I’m sure our menu will continue to be traditional. However, it will be fun to tweak a recipe or two, so I’m including the following idea for you. This has to do with that “tried-and-true” green bean casserole. I’ll start with the classic recipe first and then tweak it, so here we go!

Old-School Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

3 (15-oz.) pkg. Frozen French-cut green beans, thawed and well-drained

½ cup salted butter, divided

1 (8 oz.) pkg. sliced fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 large shallot, chopped

6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk

4 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)

2 tsp. Kosher salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 (8-oz.) can diced water chestnuts, drained

1 cup crispy fried onions or shallots (about 2 oz.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Squeeze green beans lightly in hands to remove water.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in Dutch oven over medium-high. Add mushrooms and shallot, and cook, stirring often until mixture is deeply browned and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a plate, and without wiping out Dutch oven, add remaining 6 tablespoons butter to Dutch oven. Melt butter over medium-high; whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. Gradually add milk, whisking until smooth. Cook, whisking until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and black pepper until melted and smooth. Stir in green beans, mushroom mixture and water chestnuts; spoon into lightly greased 13-x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly around edges, 15 minutes. Remove from oven; top with fried onions or shallots. Return to oven; bake until topping is golden brown, 15 minutes. Serves 10.

Lemon-Almond Green Bean Casserole

(A twist on the Old-School Green Bean Casserole)

Omit mushrooms and fried onions or shallots. Stir together 1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs), 1 cup untoasted sliced almonds, ½ tsp. Kosher salt, and 2 Tbsp. melted salted butter. Prepare as directed in recipe for Old-School Green Bean Casserole, whisking 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice into cream sauce and stirring ½ cup toasted sliced almonds into green bean mixture. Top casserole with panko mixture; bake 30 minutes at 340 degrees. 

Think, “gobble, gobble, good.”

Cheers!   

Getting through this together, Paso Robles