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Great green beans

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores a...

Green beans are available year round, with a peak season of May to October. Good quality beans should have long, straight pods and be well-colored. They should also be free of decay or blemishes and snap easily when bent. There are some interesting varieties of green beans on the market - Chinese yardlong and French hericort verts are two that you might consider trying.
Storage and ripening: Refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag.

Preparation: Trim or snap off both ends. (an excellent job for your little kitchen helper). Wash in clean, cool water before cooking.

Here are a few easy ideas to add green beans in your meals:

Layer blanched green beans, tomato slices, and Vidalia onion rings on a platter. Drizzle with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Saut� green beans in butter until crisp tender. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and crisp bacon bits just before serving.

Add a dash of balsamic vinegar to saut�ed green beans just prior to serving.

Add chopped (1/2 inch length), uncooked greens beans, to soup or risotto prior to cooking.

Thaw and drain a package of frozen French-style green beans and add it to a stuffing recipe.

Green beans and firm tofu are the perfect ingredients for a spicy Chinese stir-fry.

Make an easy 3 bean salad for picnics, potlucks and block parties:

Start with 1 can (16 oz) each: green beans, red kidney beans and garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed for 60 seconds). Add 1 small red onion cut in very thin slices, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice and 2/3 cup of Italian Salad Dressing. Toss to mix flavors. Can be made a day ahead. Refrigerate.

Toddler Treat: Green Bean Casserole
This casserole is a quick and easy variation on popular Holiday classic recipe. It's a crowd pleaser, especially with kids. Freeze leftovers in single servings and you will always have a veggie available for the kids on nights when you plan to go out.

Ingredients:
1-2 packages (16-20 ounces) of frozen French style green beans, thawed
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
� cup of milk (dairy, soy or rice)
1 small onion diced (optional)
Fresh bacon bits (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place green beans, and onion in a casserole dish. Pour mushroom soup and milk over the top, and mix gently. Place in the oven for 25 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and sprinkle with fresh bacon bits prior to serving.

Storage: Refrigerate 3-4 days and freeze for up to 2 months.

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