Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving Post #3: Sides

I’m starting to feel like I’m really behind now. Thanksgiving’s over a week in the past and I’m really into Christmas mode, yet I’m still posting about Thanksgiving. I’ll try to finish up soonish. My concern with taking pictures went by the wayside as my dishes neared completion, so I guess individual posts for these wouldn’t be very satisfying. I’ll do what I can.

Side dish #1: Sweet Potato Casserole (click for the recipe)

Last year I did mashed potatoes. That went well, but I felt like doing something different this year. Sweet potatoes, then. I’d never really worked with them before, so I googled different recipes. I hate marshmallows so I didn’t go with one that was topped with them, so I apologize for those who are disappointed. I found something that was way better, though.

I couldn’t believe how easy this was. Cook sweet potatoes (I peeled, cubed, and boiled them). Throw them in kitchenaid with butter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs. Beat until creamy. Drop in a tiny bit of brown sugar before you realize you’re not supposed to do that yet.


Put together a topping of brown sugar, flour, butter, and pecans.


Sprinkle on top of the sweet potatoes and bake. It’s that simple, and not a marshmallow in sight. Yum. A nice sweet side to balance all the salty, savory dishes.


Side dish #2: French Onion Green Bean Casserole (click for original source)

I know it’s tradition to do a green bean casserole. I don’t think my family ever really did it, or if they did, it was just for a year or two, so I don’t have a family favorite to fall back on. The past few years, I’ve been using a Campbell’s recipe that (shockingly) calls for condensed cream of mushroom soup, plus some seasonings, mixed with green beans, topped with French fried onions. *Yawn*

I just don’t think it’s that great. But then I saw this other blog, and I just needed to make the dish that they described as a mixture between traditional green bean casserole and French onion soup. NEEDED to make it.

First, “Chef John” says to chop the onions in the direction of the grain, rather than across. Then again, he follows up with “They’re your onions, cut them however you want to.” But the point of slicing them this way is so that they’ll stick together better when you caramelize them.


Throw the onions in a large skillet and caramelize them. I have honestly never done this before, so I’m glad I had the video of his onions turning brown so I didn’t panic when mine did the same.




While you’re waiting for that, start a white sauce. Melt a little butter in a saucepan.


Add flour.


Stir in milk, then season with nutmeg, cayenne, thyme, and salt and pepper.


Spread half of your caramelized onions in a casserole dish that you bought for $10 at the grocery store last week but already love dearly.


Dump on 2 pounds of semi-cooked green beans (boiled for just long enough to take away the raw crispiness). How pretty.


Top with your white sauce. Lament the fact that it doesn’t look as creamy or thick as “Chef John’s” white sauce, though it does taste good.


Add Swiss cheese (your replacement for the gruyere that you couldn’t find at the store), then the rest of the onions.


Then completely forget to take pictures as you add a mixture of Panko bread crumbs and melted butter, then more cheese, and then bake it.

Side Dish #3: Cranberry Sauce

There’s nothing too crazy about this one. Mix together brown sugar, white sugar, orange juice, water, and cinnamon.


Cook until the sugars are dissolved.


Add cranberries and cook for about 10 minutes.


They make a lot of noise as they cook. Pop pop pop! Eventually, just remove it from heat and let it cool. That’s all.


Side dish #4: Cornbread Dressing

This was hubby’s project this year. He didn’t take pictures, though I took one of the cornbread before he worked is magic on it. He did all the work while I was off making the big bucks, so I’m not even going to try to write about it, either. Sorry.


And this is what you get. Pumpkin bread, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, French onion green bean casserole, and turkey with gravy (slightly pink from the brine and aromatics).


Nom nom nom. So worth the effort.

My coworkers devoured the leftovers. Guess that means it all turned out well.

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