Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ask VBJD: What Are You Eating for Thanksgiving? (The Savory Answer)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I absolutely love the holiday season; heck, Greg and I got married ten days before Christmas, so I must love the season! There is just a magical feeling in the air, and I always reflect on how grateful I am for all of the wonderful people in my life.

One question I get every year is: what am I making for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Truth be told, I think this is less of a vegetarian question and more of a question from curious friends and family who know I love to cook and to bake, and they're just wondering what I'll be whipping up. And because they know I can talk about food endlessly, I'm happy to oblige!

This year for Thanksgiving, Greg and I will be bringing Apple Cider Green Beans and a cookie plate to Thanksgiving dinner. As a result, I've decided to split up the answer into two days so I can talk about both of the recipes.

Apple Cider Green Beans is an adaption of a recipe my mom saw on 30 Minute Meals about five years ago. I am guessing some of my readers are Rachael Ray fans, while others are groaning, so I will do cowardly thing and bow out of the discussion. What I will say, though, is that regardless of whatever you think of Ms. Ray, I have often turned to her recipes, particularly for party situations, because they aren't fussy and often can be prepared ahead of time easily, and the final results have always come out a hit.

Apple Cider Green Beans is no exception. Basically this dish has two components: the green beans and the apple cider onion topping, and both are a snap. Basically, you buy frozen green beans and just heat them right before serving in the microwave, and you can make the apple onion mixture a day ahead of time and just easily reheat on the stove or, if you must, in the microwave (a bonus I find when I go to other houses, since extra oven space tends to be a novelty at this time of year). Mix together and serve, and you're all set. This recipe also easily doubles, triples, quadruples; you basically can't go wrong.

Also important, though, is that the final product is just delicious. The apple taste just fits right in with the season, but it's not too sweet, and the green beans give the perfect crunch. It's also not laden with fat, so it's a relatively guilt-free meal. If you're still scrambling around for a great side dish for Thursday, please consider putting this on the list!

Apple Cider Green Beans (adapted from Rachael Ray)
Yields: 4 servings

1-2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 - 2 1/2 c. apple cider or apple juice
1 lb. bag frozen green beans

1) Heat the olive oil over medium high heat (you can cut back on the fat by spraying the pan first with nonstick spray and then adding 1 tsp. of oil). Saute the onion until caramelized.
2) Pour in the apple cider or juice; reduce until there is a thick, syrupy liquid, stirring frequently. This can take from 20-30 minutes. (If you are making ahead, store in a container in the fridge at this point. Reheat right before serving over medium heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. If using the microwave, check every 30 seconds a stir frequently).
3) Cook green beans in the microwave according to package directions.
4) Mix apple cider onion and green beans together; serve.

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