Cheddar-Pecan Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Cheddar-Pecan Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is an iconic dish that most Americans expect on their Thanksgiving holiday table. Originally made with canned green beans and condensed cream of mushroom soup, I took the basic elements of this classic dish and gave it a fresher, modern spin.

First, I substituted tender haricots verts for the canned green beans.

What are haricots verts? Quite simply, they are very small and slender French green beans. (Haricot verts is French for green beans.) They tend to be more tender and flavorful than the thicker American green beans. Most markets now carry them both fresh and frozen.

Next, instead of using canned soup as my sauce, I made a quick cream sauce and flavored it with some shredded sharp white cheddar cheese. (Isn’t everything made better with cheese?!)

Lastly, I tossed chopped pecans and panko bread crumbs with the classic French fried onions for a crunchy topping that makes the dish in my opinion.

This homemade version of the classic canned soup green bean dish is sure to become a favorite at your house. The haricots verts, pecans, and the touch of sharp cheddar in the sauce elevate this dish to new heights. It’s so good you’ll serve it year round!

Cheddar-Pecan Green Bean Casserole

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen haricots verts, trimmed
8 oz. button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup French fried onions
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 395 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish with butter and set aside.

Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to combine. Slowly stir in the broth and heavy cream. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the green beans and stir until well coated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

In a medium mixing bowl toss together the French fried onions, bread crumbs, and pecans. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir the melted butter into the onion mixture. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the green beans. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Excepted from “Simply Suppers” by Jennifer Chandler.




Croque Monsieur

Croque mr

Croque Monsieur

I had my first Croque Monsieur when I lived in France during culinary school. To this day it has remained my favorite sandwich.

Basically, a Croque Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But the French have elevated what would be a simple sandwich into a work of art! A classic ham and cheese is slathered with a béchamel sauce to make it even more indulgent.

The key to a good Croque Monsieur is the ingredients. Since the ingredients are few, you need to use good ones. Traditionally, a nutty Gruyère or Swiss Emmental cheese is used. Most markets carry these cheeses, but in a pinch, a good Swiss cheese could be substituted. As for the ham, this sandwich is a wonderful way to use up the leftovers from your Christmas baked ham.

The béchamel sauce is what makes this sandwich. Considered a “mother” sauce in French cuisine, a béchamel is very simple to prepare. Butter and flour are cooked together over low heat before milk and cheese are added to make this traditional cheese sauce. Thanks to the cheesy goodness that the sauce adds, it really is a knife-and-fork kind of sandwich.

This classic French treat is perfect for supper, lunch or a weekend brunch. They are so rich, serve them simply with a salad or soup. However you choose to serve them, I bet they will become your family’s favorite ham-and-cheese sandwich too.

Croque Monsieur

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices white sandwich bread, lightly toasted
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 pound baked ham, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. When the butter starts to foam, add the flour. Cook, whisking until thickened, about 1 minute. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the nutmeg, Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the Gruyere. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To assemble the sandwiches, place 4 slices of the toasted bread on a baking sheet. Lightly brush each of the slices with 1 tablespoon of mustard. Top each with 1/4 of the ham and 1/8 of the remaining Gruyere (about 1/4 cup). Top each with one of the remaining toasted bread slices. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the tops of the sandwiches and sprinkle each with 1/4 of the remaining Gruyere. Transfer to the oven and bake until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Variation: Feeling indulgent? Top your Croque Monsieur with a fried egg and you will be enjoying a treat the French call a Croque Madame.

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is the quintessential Louisianan comfort food. Nothing satisfies like steaming bowl of tender flavorful beans over classic white rice.

1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted over
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup finely sliced celery (about 1 rib)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound smoked ham hock
1/2 pound smoked Andouille sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
10 cups water
6 cups cooked white rice, warm

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham hock and sausage and cook, stirring, to brown the ham hocks and sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the beans and water.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water while cooking if necessary.

Remove the ham hock from the pot and pull the meat from the bones. Roughly chop the meat and return it back to the pot of beans. Adjust seasonings as needed. Discard the bay leaves. Spoon over white rice to serve.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Add Tabasco® or your favorite hot sauce for a little heat.

Do-Ahead: Cooked red beans store very well in the refrigerator. Some even say they taste better the second day!

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

texmex corn dip6344

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

A good dip makes a party!

When I first tasted this dip at a party thrown by my friend Jenny Vergos, I knew I needed the recipe!

Jenny is always whipping up something yummy. This simple dip is no exception. Made with pantry staples, it is packed with flavor. I decided to feature it in my cookbook “The Southern Pantry Cookbook” because it was so good.

I can guarantee folks at your next party will be asking you for the recipe just like I asked Jenny.


Tex-Mex Corn Dip

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
1 jar (4-ounce) diced pimientos, drained
1 can (4-ounce) chopped green chilies
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Add the corn, pimentos, green chilies, and cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: For a spicier dip, add a 1/4 cup diced jalapeños.

Do-Ahead: This dip can be assembled one day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake.


Excerpted from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food styling by Jennifer Chandler.


Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Nothing says comfort food like chicken pot pie. Chicken and vegetables in a rich and creamy sauce topped off with a flaky crust makes for a satisfying one-dish meal.

If you thought frozen pot pies were good, you need to try making a homemade one. It’s surprisingly easy to make a pot pie from scratch and I can guarantee it will be infinitely better than any store-bought version.

It’s the savory sauce that makes the big difference. This version uses simple ingredients – butter, flour, chicken stock, and cream – to create a sublime filling. I use poultry seasoning to impart flavor to the dish. If you don’t have this aromatic seasoning blend in your pantry, you can make your own by grinding together 1tablespoon each of dried rosemary, dried sage, dried thyme, and dried marjoram in a spice grinder or mini food processor. Or you can simply season your pot pie filling with a pinch of the aforementioned herbs.

Once the sauce is made, you can add chicken and your favorite vegetables. This version uses traditional ingredients like carrots, potatoes, and peas. Roasted root vegetables like parsnips and turnips are also delicious in a pot pie.

If you are short on time, you can pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store for this recipe instead of baking your own chicken. This short-cut can save you about 30 minutes in your prep time.

Once the filling is complete, top the pie with a pie dough and bake until heated through with a flaky pie crust.

Besides being delicious, another wonderful thing about pot pies is that they can be made a day in advance. If doing so, either top with the pie crust just before baking or make sure the pie filling is completely cooled before topping with the uncooked pie crust. You can also freeze the unbaked pot pie to bake on a busy day.


Chicken Pot Pie

3 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
1 cup peeled and finely slices carrots (about 4 carrots)
1 cup peeled and diced white potatoes (about 1 large potato)
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 unbaked pie crusts (9-inch), homemade or store-bought
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken with the olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until cooked through, about 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove and discard the bones and the skin. Cut the chicken meat into large dice. (You should have about 3 to 4 cups of chicken.)

While the chicken is roasting, in a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to boil. Add the carrots, potato, onion, and peas and cook until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Raise the oven temperature to 395 degrees.

In another large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and cream. Add the poultry seasoning and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, carrots, potato, onion, and peas. Stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Pour the filling into a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. On a lightly floured surface, place the two pie crusts on top of each other. Roll the dough until it is big enough to cover the baking dish. Place the pie crust over the top. Flute the edges, if desired, and cut slits in the top for steam to escape. Brush the crust with the beaten egg. In case of overflow, place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.
Serves 8.

Cooking Tip: Sometimes I top the filling with biscuits rather than the pie crust. For a short cut, you can use canned biscuits, but I prefer homemade. Just add the biscuits 15 minutes into the cooking time to prevent burning.

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Lucky Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup

lucky black eyed pea and collard green sop2550

Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup

On New Year’s Day, I leave nothing to fate. I always serve big helpings of the traditional Southern dishes that are said to bring good fortune. Two of my family’s favorites are black-eyed peas and greens. The black-eyed peas bring good luck and, since they look like money, the greens are said to bring prosperity.

Since I can use good luck and good fortune any time, I decided to combine these two ingredients into one dish that can be enjoyed year round. This soup pairs these lucky foods with vegetables and smoky bacon for a dish that is hearty and satisfying.

You can start this soup with dried peas, but I prefer the ease and convenience of canned peas. Canned peas require no advance soaking and cook quickly. For New Year’s, I traditionally put collard greens in the soup (don’t want to mess with my luck!) but during the rest of the year, I sometimes substitute kale. To spice it up a bit, add a dash of hot sauce just before serving.

While this simple yet satisfying soup should improve your odds for the new year, it’s 100% guaranteed to make your belly happy.

Happy New Year!

Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 can (14.5-oz) diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
2 cans (15-oz) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch collard greens, tough stems and ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the bacon in a large stockpot and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, peas, and collard greens and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer until the collard greens are tender and the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and sauté the vegetables in olive oil instead.

Freezes well.

Excerpted from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Potato Chip Cookies

potato chip cookies0934

Potato Chip Cookies 

Who doesn’t love potato chips? They give these buttery cookies from the kitchen of my talented friend Nancy Kistler a delicious salty crispness. Bet they become your favorite way to use up all those crumbs at the bottom of the potato chip bag! Thanks Nancy for sharing your recipe!

Potato Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups crushed potato chips (classic style)
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix until well blended. Stir in the vanilla and chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough, spaced about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and roll the cookies in the sugar to lightly coat. Store at room temperature, with waxed paper between the layers, in an airtight container.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Cooking Tip: Do not refrigerate or freeze the unbaked dough as the potato chips will become soggy.

From The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Jennifer Chandler

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