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While the turkey's in the oven I wanted to tell you how to make green bean bundles the quick and EASY way! My husband and kids like this dish so much better than my green bean casserole that has cream of mushroom soup and Durkee's onions on top and say it's the best Christmas and Thanksgiving recipe ever...other than the cakes, pies, candy and other sweets, of course!




1/2 cup of chopped onion (optional)

3/4 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing


Open both cans of beans, drain them, pour them into a bowl and set aside.

Remove the bacon from the package as a solid block. DO NOT SEPARATE THE PIECES YET! Cut the rectangle of bacon slices in half making each slice now about 4 or 5 inches long.

NOW..peel off one slice of bacon and lie it across the cupped, palm of your hand. Pick up a wad of green beans from the bowl (that makes a bundle about 1 1/2 inches across) and lie it across the slice of bacon in the palm of your hand.

Quickly pull one end of the slice of bacon over the top of the beans diagonally tucking the end underneath the green beans and then repeat with the other end of the slice of bacon thus forming the VOILA!!! bundle of green beans. Carefully place the bundle in a shallow, oven safe baking dish about 8X11 inches or thereabouts. You should put them in a dish that's attractive enough to put on the table is preferred since you won't want to be transferring the bundles from one dish to another after they are baked.

After you are done, drizzle the bundles with salad dressing taking care that the beans are seasoned. I like to make this a day ahead so that the beans and bacon marinate in the salad dressing but it is not essential.

Bake the dish of green bean bundles, uncovered, in an oven that has been preheated to 350° F for 10-15 minutes or until you can see things start to bubble a little and then turn on the broiler and broil them 4 or 5 inches from the heat for a couple of minutes or until bacon looks browned. Do NOT walk away from the oven during this step or you may be serving blackened beans and take it from me that nobody's going to buy your story that you were experimenting with the Cajun version.

That's my quick recipe for this dish. If I have time later, I'll write some instructions on how to make green bean bundles using fresh green beans rather than canned beans. If I don't get around to it, please don't sweat it because the only benefit to using fresh beans is that you can trim them in uniform lengths which I have to admit does make a lovely presentation. But when time is of the essence, this recipe works just fine and I have NEVER had anyone complain.


Sweet Potatoes and Peaches

One of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes is a Sweet Potatoes and Peaches casserole that I adapted from a Southern Living recipe that was clipped from the magazine way back in 1979.


1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons of room temperature butter or oLeo
2 pounds of either softened or canned sweet potatoes (yams) drained
1 16 ounce can of sliced peaches drained
1 1/2 cups of miniature marshmallows


In a medium-size bowl combine the brown sugar, all-purpose flour and nutmeg. With a pastry cutter cut in your softened margarine or butter until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the pecans and set aside.

In a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish arrange the sweet potatoes and peaches in a single layer alternating them in for the best presentation. After the sweet potatoes and peaches are in place, sprinkle them with the flour and sugar mix.

Bake covered with foil or a lid at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until slightly bubbly but do not allow to boil dry. Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle the peaches and yams with marshmallows. Return the dish uncovered to broil until the marshmallows are light brown.

This is an easy recipe that even beginner can manage unlike the candied sweet potato recipe and my southern sweet potato pie recipe that I shared earlier.

The biggest drawback to this sweet potato recipe is that I don't keep all of the ingredients on hand all the time especially not the nuts because of my girls' allergies.

So, if I don't plan ahead to buy pecans, marshmallows, brown sugar, and canned peaches and make sure that I add them to my grocery list ahead of time, this casserole just gets skipped. And what a shame that is, because the sweet potato peach casserole really adds a lot to any holiday menu. It looks good and even though old-fashioned, southern recipes that are covered in browned, melted marshmallows are made fun and the butt of many a joke; this sweet potato and peaches recipe is downright delicious!


Candied Sweet Potato Recipe

This candied sweet potato recipe is one of the best I've ever put in my mouth! Being a southerner from birth and having had the pleasure of eating some of the finest southern recipes and soul food produced by some of the finest southern cooks who ever fired up a stove; I feel that my opinion should stand for something. This is an easy recipe with the most time consuming part of the preparation being the peeling and cutting of the sweet potatoes into thick slices.

one(1) 12 inch cast iron skillet full of peeled sweet potato cut into slices about 1 inch thick (about 3 or 4 medium sweet potatoes should do it)

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of Blackburn syrup, dark Caro syrup or the pancake syrup of your choice
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Combine the granulated sugar, the syrup and the oil and pour over the sliced sweet potatoes that you have layered in a well seasoned iron skillet. There should be enough liquid to eventually cover the potatoes after they "cook down" a little.

Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid and cook over low to low medium heat until the potatoes are tender. Check from time to time to be sure that the liquid is simmering and not bubbling at a full boil.

I apologize for not having more detailed instructions for this Candied Sweet Potato recipe but that's all I have at the moment. This is an OLD southern recipe that I just transcribed off of a piece of cardboard cereal box that was in my great-grandmother's recipe box...I suppose it would be more accurate to say I got it out of her recipe can since she kept all of her recipes inside an old blue and white lard can. This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes even though my grandmother says that the candied sweet potato recipe was more for an everyday meal than a special holiday recipe like her famous sweet potato pie recipe.

That being said, there are many more old southern recipes to come since I've just skimmed the surface of all the handwritten "receipts" that are in the can. Everyday or not, I plan for candied sweet potatoes to be part of my Thanksgiving menu. After making it myself, I should be able to give better instructions after the holidays which should eliminate some of the guesswork making it more suitable for beginners.


Sweet Potato Rice Pudding

I prefer to use brown rice in the following sweet potato rice pudding recipe because that's all that I ever cook. However, if I found myself with some white rice leftover for one reason or another I would not hesitate to use it as a substitute even though it's less healthy than brown.

The same goes for using pumpkin rather than sweet potato puree. I'm a big fan of pumpkin bread, but sweet potato puree works better with this recipe PLUS I seem to always have enough homemade sweet potato puree in the refrigerator especially around the holidays. This is one of my favorite healthy holiday dessert recipes because it not only tastes and looks amazing but the cinnamon in it makes the house smell like Christmas! Oh...and it's EASY TO MAKE!



2 Cups cooked brown rice (warm is better so nuke your leftovers a second or two)
3 Cups 2% or less evaporated milk (plain 2% milks works but it's not as creamy)
1 Cup of Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Puree
3/4 Cup Honey
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients including salt if nobody at your house is on a low-sodium diet. Stir milk, honey and dry ingredients into the sweet potato or pumpkin puree brown rice mixing well. Bake in an oven set at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from the oven, stir well and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving. Stay tuned for more healthy holiday recipes including some traditional favorites with a fresh, new spin!


With winter coming on and lots of wool jackets that need attention, finding safe dry cleaning methods for those sweaters and coats should be the goal of every green minded individual. Are home dry cleaning kits the answer? Or would it be just be better to buy clothing and fabrics that are washable using only biodegradable soap and water?


A few years back there seemed to be an epidemic of cancer among professional women in my town. Everyone pondered on what might have caused all of these ladies of a similar age to be suffering from this disease. While looking for connections and lifestyle or history, the one thing that popped out was that they all frequently wore business suits that of course had to make visits to the neighborhood dry cleaning service. How could they have known that by taking steps to keep their wardrobe looking good that they would be putting their health at risk? Of course, it never was and never will be proven that their cancers were caused by wearing clothes doused in dry cleaning solvents but I'm entitled to my opinion, right?

Shortly after this time, I can remember reading articles that warned people to let their clothes “air” all while before wearing them. The objective was to allow any remaining fumes from the dry cleaning solvent to dissipate to prevent overexposure. The solvent to which I am referring is called perchloroethylene (or perc for short) which has been linked to various health and environmental problems.


How can busy professional people keep their fine fabrics and woolens looking clean and fresh without poisoning the environment as well as their own bodies? The first step would be to buy clothing that would allow you to exclusively use wet cleaning methods that combines biodegradable soap and water or liquid CO2 which is a non-toxic reusable form of carbon dioxide since these are the only methods that are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as environmentally friendly alternatives to perc.


My family lived within a stone's throw of a neighborhood dry cleaning service when I was growing up. Long before safe dry cleaning was an issue, I can remember watching people who I considered to be very lucky to be able to afford to have their clothing professionally dry cleaned leaving with their nicely pressed clothes covered in plastic bags stamped with the dry cleaners logo. I can also remember thinking that the biggest danger from dry cleaning was suffocating from accidentally finding yourself with one of those plastic bags over your head! In fact, the warning was actually printed on the plastic bags if I remember correctly. Strangely enough, I can’t recall there being any warning printed on the plastic bags that that the clothes had been drenched in toxic chemicals. Go figure.



It's only the first of November and already I'm seeing the need for a green oven cleaner recipe! After doing a few test runs of recipes that I want to spring on the family at Thanksgiving, there are a few boil overs already beginning to cake the bottom of my oven. And to be totally honest, there were already some caked on, baked on spots on the wire racks that I hoped nobody would notice.

But with the holidays coming up, there will be people taking a peek at what's cooking and now is the time to clean up my act and make like things are ALWAYS sparkling clean around here even when you and I know the truth.

Starting early on my holiday kitchen cleaning has its advantages; for one thing my homemade green oven cleaner is CHEAP! But it may take a little more time to work than some of the commercial oven cleaning products that you can buy. That may or may not be the case as I have never felt the need to explore other options but your grime may be different (read: more stubborn and hard to remove) than mine.

You can have faith that the recipe I'm about to give you has been tested by the best. It's a genuine bonafide Martha Stewart recipe with two (count them TWO!) common household ingrediants, baking soda and water, and that's what makes it one of the best green household cleaners EVER! It's non-toxic, CHEAP and HECK YEAH...IT WORKS LIKE A CHARM!


All you have to do is measure out about a cup of baking soda and add a couple tablespoons of water at a time until you have a thick, spreadable paste.


Smear it on the inside surfaces of your oven taking care not to get it on the electric coils, the gas jets or to plug vent holes.

To keep the paste from drying out, you might consider covering it with some of those plastic shopping bags that you need to recycle. After you're satisified that all the gunk is covered in your homemade oven cleaning paste, let it sit overnight.


You can spot treat your metal racks if they only have a few spots here and there. For a full treatment it's best to remove them from the oven. I arrange mine on old sheets on the back patio, cover them in my non-toxic, green oven cleaner and let them sit over night. The next day I go over them with a cloth, hit the hard spots with a scrubby or steel wool and voila!! Sparkling, clean oven racks!

Sometime the next day, you can use an old credit card or a plastic spatula to remove the paste. WHATEVER YOU DO don't forget and stumble in the kitchen the next morning and preheat the oven to make cheese toast or bake biscuits. Take it from me that this is not a good plan and I know of what I speak.

TIP: This green oven cleaner works great but even though it's non-toxic and environmentally friendly...using it is still WORK! Martha Stewart says (and Lord knows she has some great ideas) that after we get it clean that we should line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch future boil overs. You are not supposed to line the oven racks because it will have a negative effect on the oven's heating process, but lining the bottom helps a lot!

If you try this homemade green oven cleaner and come up with any tips that we should know about, please drop a comment to give the rest of us a heads' up!



There are so many recycled items popping up and recycled baby stuff like cardboard baby high chairs and eco-friendly cribs are certainly a step in the right direction. But it's important that in the rush to buy and use more products that are earth friendly we often overlook the less flashy, everyday stuff that we can recycle.

To be sure, it's always wise to do your research on what items are worth the time it takes to recycle them. Some things, in today's environment are just not cost effective no matter how dedicated we are to keeping piles of trash out of our landfills and reducing our footprint.

If you read my last post, you know that large families are under attack. I thought that I would start compiling a list of stuff to recycle associated with raising children so that parents with more than a few babies can do their part to be green and be more environmentally friendly. Some of the baby products on the list are pretty obvious but keep reading because there may be a few items that you haven't thought of recycling.

For instance, have you thought about recycling or do you use:

  • recycled baby clothes
  • recycled baby shower invitations, announcements and thank you cards
  • recycled baby diaper bags
  • cribs and nursery furniture
  • baby food jars
  • cloth baby diapers

It might take a little more effort to load your baby's bed and dresser up and deliver it to the Goodwill Store or anywhere new parents with few resources go to find free baby stuff rather than taking it to the dump. And it might take a few minutes more to rip those frayed cloth diapers into cleaning cloths than it would have to just toss them in the garbage. But when you think of using or passing forward recycled baby stuff as giving our kids the gift of a cleaner less cluttered world, it seems to make the time pass quicker and the work to be lighter.