The holidays are creeping in and will be here before we know it. Since variety is the spice of life I am sharing a few of my favorite side dishes to liven up your holiday table. Green Bean and Bacon Au Gratin is a great twist on a traditional green bean casserole. Fresh beans, sharp cheddar, smokey bacon, and a touch of Parmesan make a holiday side dish that no one is soon to forget!
This side dish is ready in 30 minutes and can be prepped in advance to cut down on prep time to maximize efficiency. I don't know about you, but when I am cooking for a holiday easy side dishes I can pop in the oven as the turkey or ham is resting is a big bonus for me. I have had people ask if frozen or canned green beans work for this recipe, and the answer is absolutely. If using canned, make sure to drain the green beans prior to adding them to the cheese sauce. If you are using frozen, make sure to thaw them first or you will have a watery side dish as the beans melt, and your cook time will be longer because of the frozen beans. Also, if you decide to prep this side dish in advance I recommend waiting to top with bacon because you want it to be nice and crispy.
I am starting to get excited for the holidays, and looking forward to time with family. I love the cooking, the smells, the laughs, the late nights, the holiday shows and events! It has become even more fun for me since having the boys because we get to do all of my holiday favorites, but with the boys who are experiencing it for the first time, and creating their own memories. One of my favorite things is the holiday parade in a few weeks. It is becoming fun for the boys to see their friends in the parade, and they love when there is a person they know to watch for. I am also really looking forward to the new Grinch movie, and we planning to purchase our tickets for opening weekend. I am going to bring Rowan, and he is excited for his first movie at the theater and try the movie theater popcorn his brother raves about. We also go to the local botanical garden the day after Thanksgiving to see the lights, and enjoy a wagon ride with hot chocolate or hot cider. Do you have any traditions to get in the spirit of the holidays? Maybe movies, meals, or a special event?
Today is election day and a friendly reminder from me to you to make sure you vote! We were at our polling location at 7 am this morning to vote with the boys. We like to bring the boys to the polls when we vote because I think it is important for them to see it as a duty and part of our family. My hope is when they are old enough that voting is normalized for them, and they feel confident walking in their polling location and feel it is part of they job as an citizen of this country. However, right now the boys are just excited to get their "I voted" stickers, and an extra treat for behaving while we wait in the line. Tonight, we are planning to head to the election night watch party with the boys, and we are hoping the results are in our favor! If you aren't aware, Ron and I have a background in politics and it is how we first met. We both worked in campaigns, and for a Congressional office for a few terms. The political process is something that is exciting and important to both of us, and we have many friends that are in office, are running, or work in the political arena.
Green Bean and Bacon Au Gratin
- 24 oz fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
- 5 strips bacon, chopped
- 2 ½ tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place green beans in a microwave safe dish and add ⅔ cup water. Cover and microwave to lightly steam for 6 minutes.
- While beans are cooking, cook bacon in an over safe skillet over medium heat(cast iron works well) till crisp. Remove from pan and set aside, but be sure to keep the dripping in the skillet.
- Add flour to the pan with the drippings and whisk. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk and allow the mixture to thicken (about 3-4 minutes).
- Whisk in the cheddar cheese. Remove beans from the water and add to the cheese sauce. Stir to evenly coat the beans in the cheese sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and then the chopped cooked bacon.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.