Wednesday, November 14, 2012

guest post - Six Simple Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

Six Simple Side Dishes for Thanksgiving
By Suzanne Purewal

Thanksgiving is upon us. It is the time of year we gather together and remind ourselves how blessed we are and give thanks. But let’s face it – it is the food holiday.
This year will be my nineteenth year hosting Thanksgiving dinner. In the beginning, I made everything from scratch, just like my grandmother. I prepared and cooked for two days. I crafted stuffing from stale bread. I peeled, boiled and mashed Idaho® potatoes. I added enough dark brown sugar and butter to the yams to choke a horse. And then, I baked pies. On the big day, I cooked the turkey in a huge roasting pan, basting religiously every thirty minutes, and added or removed aluminum foil as needed.
Then finally the moment would arrive when we sat around the table as a family, with the television and phones off. I would breathe a sigh of relief after we finished praying. The work was done, and it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Then I watched as my happy and thankful loved ones would devour the feast in twenty minutes flat. I always thought the length of time to eat the meal should be somewhat proportionate to the time and energy it took me to prepare it.
Alas, I could not force them to eat slower. So, now, I have someone bring the potatoes. I buy the pumpkin and apple pies. The turkey is cooked in a Reynolds® Turkey Size Oven Bag, and it bastes itself. And I do not feel guilty at all. Instead, I concentrate on whipping up different side dishes.
The six side dishes I am offering are simple to make. I have included three traditional choices — stuffed mushrooms, broccoli casserole and sweet potato casserole — as well as three healthier alternatives – sautéed mushrooms, roasted broccoli and baked sweet potatoes.
The stuffed mushrooms are perfect as a side dish or as an appetizer for any occasion. You can even make them a day in advance. I have been asked if extra virgin olive oil can be substituted for the vegetable oil. Yes, but it will totally change the taste of the mushrooms. So you might want to experiment ahead of time to see which you prefer.
The broccoli casserole is a variation of the green bean casserole recipe found on the side of French’s® French Fried Onions packages. I love broccoli. So one day I used that instead of the beans. I have not eaten a green bean casserole since.
I borrowed the sweet potato casserole recipe from a friend. If you do not want to spend the time peeling, cutting and cooking the sweet potatoes, you can replace them with Bruce’s® Yams (canned) and cook and mash them for the recipe.
You might be wondering why I included the healthier options. I was recently informed that the typical American consumes 3,500 calories during Thanksgiving dinner. That statistic served as my inspiration. However, if you do not want to rock the boat on Thanksgiving Day for fear of mutiny, these are quick and simple dishes to enjoy year round.

Broccoli Casserole

1 can (10 ¾ oz.) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 (9 oz.) pkgs frozen broccoli, thawed
1⅓ cups French’s® French Fried Onions

Mix soup and milk, then add broccoli, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and ⅔ cup onions in a 1½ qt. casserole.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven. Stir mixture. Sprinkle with remaining onions.

Return to oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown.

Roasted Broccoli

1½ lbs. fresh broccoli
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut broccoli into florets. In a bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread florets out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are crispy.

Stuffed Mushrooms

3 lbs. whole white mushrooms, small or medium
1 cup Progresso® Seasoned Bread Crumbs
½ cup grated Romano cheese
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Wesson® Vegetable Oil to drizzle over mushrooms
Water to cover bottom of pan

Mix bread crumbs, cheese, pepper and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove and discard mushroom stems and wash mushrooms. Make sure you trim the cap so there is a well for the mixture. Place mushrooms in two (2) 9x12 glass baking dishes. Pour enough water in the dishes to cover bottoms.

Use a teaspoon (or small measuring spoon) to fill mushrooms with mixture. Make sure the mixture is slightly heaping. Drizzle oil over mushrooms. Check water level in the pan. Add more water if the bottom is not completely covered.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. The mushrooms will shrink during the baking process. If the mushrooms appear dry, baste them.

Sautéed Mushrooms

1 Tbs. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ lbs. mushrooms, sliced
Black pepper (to taste)

Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Stir in mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes. Add black pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4½ cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup butter, melted
⅓ cup milk
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening to grease dish

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans  

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x12 glass baking dish.

Mix sweet potatoes, butter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs in a large bowl. Spread mixture into the greased baking dish.

Mix brown sugar and flour in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Baked Sweet Potatoes
4 sweet potatoes (one per person)
4 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° F. Pierce each potato several times with the tines of a fork. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake 45 minutes or until tender.

Make a slit in the top of each sweet potato. Top each potato with 1 Tbs. of butter and 1 Tbs. cinnamon.

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