Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

As stated in my earlier post, I love Thanksgiving!  Getting all of the family and friends together to eat (and not worrying about buying the right gift for everyone) is my idea of a perfect holiday.  Every year we go to my Mama's house for Thanksgiving.  We have a big extended family.  There's always a lot of people coming and going.  It's never a formal sit-down.  I used to hate that growing up.  I always wanted the "Norman Rockwell painting" of Thanksgiving Dinner.  You know, a giant table filled with a spread of food, set with fine china and a beautiful centerpiece.  My Daddy at the head of the table ready to carve the glorious, perfect bird.  Everyone dressed in their Sunday best with perfect hair and table manners.  But, the reality was very different and so much better.  My Mama would be up at the crack of dawn cooking.  I would wake up to the smell of turkey and dressing.  We always had Thanksgiving at lunch time because my Daddy and brothers were anxious to get to the hunting camp.  That weekend was always the start of deer season, a very big deal in the South!  Plus, we always had extended family dropping by at different times.  So, it was sort of like a Thanksgiving buffet that lasted all day.  The table was filled with so much food you could hardly fit it.  And everyone who came over had a smile on their face.  I'd say that's a perfect holiday.

Since I talked about the turkey last time, I thought I'd share some recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes.

This recipe is my daughter's absolute favorite.  It's plain and simple and came from the back of a soup can, but if I don't make it on Thanksgiving, I get an earful!


2 cans green beans, rinsed and drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
dash of pepper
1 small can (6 oz) french fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together soup, milk, Worcestershire sauce and pepper until well combined.  Stir in green beans and 3/4 of the can of french fried onions.  Transfer to a casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Stir, then sprinkle with remaining french fried onions.  Bake an additional 5 minutes.

When I was in college, Southern Living magazine came to my university and put on a cooking show.  I was lucky enough to get to help out backstage.  Afterwards, all of us were given cookbooks as a thank-you for helping.  This next recipe came from that book.  It tastes like a dessert.  But, since it's made with sweet potatoes, technically it's a vegetable (that's what I tell myself anyway).  Whenever I make this, everyone loves it and wants the recipe.  So, here it is.


3 2/3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes*
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

3 TBS butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first 7 ingredients.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium until smooth.  Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Set aside.  Make topping by combining softened butter, brown sugar, pecans, coconut and flour with a fork.  It should be crumbly.  Sprinkle this on top of the sweet potato mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

*The best way to make the cooked sweet potatoes - Get 4 medium size sweet potatoes.  Clean and dry them.  Put them on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake in a 400 degree oven until soft.  When you can easily stick a knife in, they are done.  Cool them.  Peel them.  Mash them.

You can use canned sweet potatoes.  I have done this in a pinch.  But make sire you rinse them well!  they come packed in syrup and that will make your dish too sweet.  Bake them yourself if you can.  It really does make all the difference.

I don't have a pic of this yet, but I know I will be making it for Thanksgiving, so I'll add it later.  If I don't make this one, my daddy and husband will not be happy.

*Here it is.  (told you I'd have to make this for Thanksgiving)

The great thing about this recipe (other than the taste) is that you can make it the day before and keep it in the fridge.  Just take it out and let it come to room temperature, then warm in the oven.  I've even served it at room temp.  It's yummy either way.

The last recipe I want to share is very special to me.  It's my Maw Maw Fannie's cornbread dressing.  Well, this is a modified version of it.  She used to put oysters in hers and my Mama puts chicken in hers.  This is a faster version that uses chicken broth, but no actual chicken.  I get that familiar taste, without it taking all day to make.  Make sure you season this well.  Use more salt and pepper than you think you'll need.  The cornbread can be bland if you don't.


1 9x9 cornbread, baked and cooled (don't use sweet cornbread)*
2 Tbs butter
1/2 bunch celery, diced fine
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 bunch fresh parsley, diced
about 3 cups chicken broth (you may need more or less)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, crumble cornbread into fine crumbs.  Saute celery, green onions and parsley in butter until softened.  Salt and pepper.  Add this to the cornbread crumbs.  Mix well.  Add enough chicken broth to make the cornbread very wet, but not soupy (about 3 cups).  Season with salt and pepper (a little more than you think you need).  Transfer into a greased casserole dish (or cast iron skillet) and cover with foil.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until brown on top.

*Corn bread recipe - Honestly, I use Martha White Self-rising Yellow Cornmeal Mix and there is a recipe on the back of the package.  But I do have a scratch recipe:


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix milk, beaten egg, and oil.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir only enough to combine.  Transfer to a greased pan or cast iron skillet.  Bake at 425 degrees about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Here's what the finished dressing looks like:

So, there are some of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes.  I hope you make and enjoy these with your family and friends.  Even if you don't have the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday, you'll look back, like me, and realize that you didn't need all that.  My Daddy may have been in a hurry to go hunting on Thanksgiving day, but he always bowed his head and gave thanks for what he had.  That's the memory I truly treasure, not a perfectly set table.

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