It’s hard to believe it’s Thanksgiving again. It seems like it was only a few weeks ago we were enjoying the summer sunshine and now we’re knee deep in turkey-prep and Halloween plans. For me, it’s been a long year because we’ve been renovating a very old house for what feels like years, and I’m now getting my kitchen back up to speed and getting a feel for the new appliances I bought way back in May.
And what better way to break in new appliances than with a big Thanksgiving turkey? It’s one of my favourites meals to prepare, and it’s one of my family’s favourite meals to eat. I’ve never had a hard time cooking one up either, so the turkey part of the meal has always been a no-brainer for me.
But that side dishes? That’s another story. There are just too many to choose from, and with the exception of mashed potatoes and stuffing, I find I never seem to make the same sides twice. Some years I’m in the mood for something with a Southern touch, while others I’m feeling homesick and missing my family back in Saskatchewan. That’s when I pull out the marshmallows and whip up a recipe my Grandma has perfected.
Every family is different, and every family does Thanksgiving in their own way. Take a look at Leila’s post on Preparing a Great Canadian Thanksgiving feast and then check out a few of the side dishes I use. Maybe one of your favourites are in here, but if its not, be sure to share your own in the comments.
Green Beans and Mushrooms
My Dad always said that there was no point in serving vegetables with Thanksgiving dinner, because stuffing yourself with them only interfered with how much pie you could after dinner was over. He made an exception for green beans though. It was one dish he loved to eat, and I can’t blame him. Although very easy to make and simple to put together, these green beans and mushrooms are delicious when paired with turkey. Recipe and photo from Foodnetwork.com
Bundle of green beans
1/2 cup of mushrooms
Blanch green beans in boiling water until just cooked. (We like ours a little crunchy.) Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms in butter over medium-high heat until golden, then toss with the drained, blanched beans and some salt and pepper. Top with French-fried onions.
Baked hush puppies
I’m a Southern girl at heart, and that means when I do turkey, I also do a side of hush puppies. Although I tend to make them with a spicy bowl of chili more often than turkey, I had them often enough with mashed potatoes and a side of stuffing that I get a craving and I have to make them. Try this recipe from the Foodnetwork.com and see what you think.
Vegetable oil, butter or cooking spray, for greasing
Preheat the oven to 450. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix together the onion, milk, eggs and butter. Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the flour mixture is just moistened.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter into each of the prepared mini muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the hush puppies are firm to the touch and golden brown around the edges.
Best Mashed Potatoes
What’s a Thanksgiving dinner without a side of mashed potatoes? I can’t imagine not having them, and I always make extra so the kids have them to eat with left overs. When I was growing up my Grandma would add cream to the mashed potatoes to make them thick, but I like to use cream cheese. For the best mashed potatoes, I also recommend putting on the whisk attachment on your stand mixer and whipping them for 2 to 5 minutes. They land on your plate like dollops of whip cream. Photo and recipe from Allrecipes.com
5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup butter
2 cups Parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 cups cream cheese
1/2 medium head garlic, peeled and minced
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes; cook until tender but still firm. Drain and return to stove over low heat to dry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add butter, Parmesan cheese, chives, cream cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Use a potato masher to mash until smooth, and serve.
Brown Sugar-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
Where I grew up, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without something sprinkled in marshmallows, preferably miniature marshmallows. That’s usually how we do sweet potatoes in my family, and whenever I get a crazy I whip up my Grandma’s recipe. It’s a lot like this one from from epicurious.com, and it’s so good you just can’t help yourself.
4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange potatoes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat. Cover dish tightly with foil.
Bake potatoes 50 minutes. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and syrup thickens slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Top potatoes with marshmallows and nuts. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt and nuts begin to brown, about 3 minutes.
Yes, the turkey is the star of the show on Thanksgiving, but the side dishes are what make the meal. If you need to grab some small kitchen appliances to create some amazing side dishes, try these:
Make the best mashed potatoes by whipping them in your stand mixer
For turkey or your side dishes, every kitchen needs a great roasting pan
If you’re going to make a lot of side dishes, you need a Thanksgiving-sized set of pots and pans
Main image from Huffingtonpost.ca