Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WDW - My favorite Thankgiving sides

green bean

Um, NO - this is definitely NOT one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides. No offense if it's on your table. I'm highly allergic to cream of mushroom soup (well, that's not entirely true, it just grosses me out). We do like green beans, though. Keep reading. And scroll down quickly so you won't have to look at that picture! {shiver}

We have a pretty simple Thanksgiving in our family, with recipes that are traditional year after year. I think most people do the same dishes year after year, and our family is no exception. There is a stack of food magazines on my coffee table with all the latest Thanksgiving recipes in them, and I wouldn't consider for a minute trying any of them. I'm perfectly happy with what I eat, thank-you-very-much. I can't imagine, at this point, updating or changing anything. These are the dishes that I look forward to year after year.

Growing up, Rich and I had quite different Thanksgiving dinners at home. My way was turkey (which was always moist and perfect), stuffing (which in the early days was probably Stove Top, but when my dad took it over later on, it would be a different gourmet recipe that he found each year), canned gravy, sweet potatoes (mashed with crushed pineapple and topped with mini-marshmallows), Van de Kamp brown and serve rolls with "I can't believe it's not butter," and "can" berries as we called them - the jellied kind that pop out of the can looking exactly like the can they came in. I loved to slice those just so when I was a kid. And don't forget the Mrs. Smith frozen pumpkin pie with genuine Cool Whip.

Rich's way was turkey with his mom's legendary stuffing, cooked INSIDE the bird (scary), mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, homemade cranberry sauce (more like a relish with big chunks of cranberries in it), and NO sweet potatoes. There were the same brown and serve rolls, and there was plenty of REAL butter on the table, too, to be sure. The pumpkin pies were made from the recipe on the Libby's can with Pillsbury crust. But it wasn't just pumpkin pie, but pecan. And apple. And cheesecake (that was a weird one to me).

Rich, at our first Thanksgiving together, pretty much passed out cold when he realized my family didn't do mashed potatoes with our turkey dinner. And, when I went to his family's dinner, I couldn't believe they didn't eat sweet potatoes. We were both pretty shocked and dismayed.

But, you have to work your problems out when you're married. You have to sit down, and talk it over, you know.

It seemed simple enough to add sweet potatoes to his family and mashed potatoes to mine. And as much as I loved the homemade cranberry sauce, I still needed a can berry slice on my plate.

So, these days, though, we are pretty much a blended happy family.

Our menu now generally consists of turkey, which we deep-fry, Rich's mom's stuffing recipe, baked in the oven, mashed potatoes and gravy (the gravy has to come from Williams-Sonoma or Costco now, as deep-fried turkeys don't provide drippings), my sweet potatoes (changed a little from mom's day) homemade cranberry sauce and can berries. Since we don't do the above green bean dish, we have a refreshing cold green bean salad with blue cheese and walnuts. The pies are still Libby's recipe- but have been updated with homemade crust. We usually have an apple pie, too.

So, here are three of our family's blended favorites. Rich's mom's stuffing, my own recipe for sweet potatoes, and the green bean salad. The stuffing is my hands down favorite, and the sweet potatoes are so fluffy and that pecan/brown sugar topping....oh! The green bean salad is from my friend Pam - don't think mushy green beans as this one is crisp, flavorful, and really gourmet.

Now everything is in sweet harmony. Enjoy and have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Turkey Stuffing

1 cup butter, divided
1 ½ cups chopped celery
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 eggplant, finely chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 box (2 pouches) Mrs. Cubbison’s seasoned stuffing mix
½ box (1 pouch) Mrs. Cubbison’s cubed stuffing mix
1-2 cups chicken broth
2 cans water chestnuts, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, melt ½ cup of the butter. Saute celery, onion, eggplant, and mushrooms until soft.

In an extra large mixing bowl, combine sautéed veggie mixture, stuffing mix, water chestnuts, garlic, and parsley. Melt remaining ½ cup butter and add to bowl. Mix well, adding chicken broth to desired moistness (you will need less moisture if cooking in the bird). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Yield: enough stuffing for a 15-20 lb. turkey.


Yam Souffle

½ cup melted butter
2 cans (29 oz each) yams, drained and mashed
1 cup milk
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
¼ tsp. salt

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cup flour
½ cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients (except topping) in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer. Process in batches in food processor or blender until smooth (important). Spread into a greased 9 x 13 pan (or two 9” pie plates).

Combine topping ingredients and spread on top. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until thoroughly hot.

Note: This can be prepared up to two days in advance and refrigerated. Also, the recipe can be halved and baked in a 9” pie plate.


Green Bean Salad

3/4 cup oil
3 T. vinegar
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. garlic
2 t. salt
1/4 t. sugar
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 T. dried basil
1/4 cup chives (if desired)
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 3” pieces, blanched
1 can olives, sliced
1 cup walnuts, toasted

To blanch the green beans, bring a pot of water to a boil. Put the green beans in and cook for 2-3 minutes (crisp-tender). Immediately drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain again.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a large shaker jar. Shake well. Dressing can be made up to 2 days ahead.

When ready to serve, toss green beans, olives, and walnuts with dressing.

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