Merry Friendsmas!

I am very fortunate to have an immediate family whom I consider to be some of my very best friends. We share similar interests, similar view points, and similar personalities (to an extent). I don’t have to work at a conversation with my siblings or parents; it comes naturally and easily.

I know not everyone shares my good fortune and, therefore, the holidays can be a difficult time. Perhaps on par with having no family is having a family with whom you don’t get along. That’s when friends come in handy.

If you want to be with those you love during the holidays, family isn’t the only answer. Luckily for me, I get both.


Last year, my friends and I decided to have our very own version of Thanksgiving: “Friendsgiving” with turkey, stuffing, pies…the whole works. I think a few beverages may have been consumed as well.

Due to everyone’s clashing work schedules this year, “Friendsgiving” turned to “Friendsmas,” to be celebrated the Saturday after Christmas. My friends Lindsay and Nicole agreed to take on the role of hosts for the 20+ people to be attending. My close-knit group of friends is…pretty large. Parents were also invited, provided that they be cool. 🙂

I agreed to work at the cafe today with hopes to finish my green bean casserole before the party. Because I need to balance out my friend John’s bacon pies, I decided to lighten up the green bean casserole like I did last year by making my own sauce instead of using cream of mushroom soup.


(Healthier) Green Bean Casserole


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1 ½-inch pieces.
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh whole-grain bread crumbs


Heat oil on low heat in large skillet. Gently cook onion slices for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are golden. Remove onions from skillet and transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, steam or boil green beans in for 5-6 minutes, then plunge in a bowl of cold water to keep the vibrant green color and stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.


Add finely chopped onion, garlic to skillet, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, until they release their juices. Sprinkle flour and thyme over vegetables. Gradually stir in nonfat milk. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until sauce thickens. Season with a tsp of salt if desired and some freshly ground black pepper.


Spread green beans in a 1 ½-2 quart casserole dish. Pour mushroom sauce over green beans. Top with onions and breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Serves 6

Off to the party!


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