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Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

Published September 26, 2012        by Sarah

Image by rochelle, just rochelle on FlickrWhether you have been asked to bring a Thanksgiving food gift to someone’s Thanksgiving celebration or you are interested in adding new flavors and textures to your own, there are endless delicious recipes out there to help you make a tasty contribution to dinner.  From variations on old favorites to completely new choices, you may just create the next family favorite.

You may just want a little change on your Thanksgiving table, but don’t want to disappoint the people who look forward to turkey and stuffing each year.  You can vary the recipes for your favorite dishes a little, making them even more scrumptious.  For example, when you make your mashed potatoes, substitute buttermilk for the regular milk for unbelievably creamy, smooth potatoes.  And if you want to make a healthier alternative, try vitamin-packed sweet potatoes.  These have a wonderful texture, a great color, and they are loaded with nutrients.  You can simply bake them and add butter, or you can prepare them as you would mashed potatoes, using cream instead of milk.

Thanksgiving is a great time to prepare hearty squashes and root vegetables.  To make a great glazed squash dish, cut acorn squash in half and take out the seeds.  Slice the squash into inch thick crescents.  Line two baking sheets with tin foil and apply a light layer of oil.  Season the acorn squash with salt and paper, sprinkling on dark brown sugar as well.  Roast these for about five minutes or until the sugar has melted.  Remove the squash from the oven and use tongs to flip them over.  Again, you season them with salt, pepper, and brown sugar and roast until the meat of the squash is tender.  This should take about 20 minutes, and you probably already have the oven going anyway!  You can also halve the squash and pour in a little pure maple syrup for a sweet taste.

Instead of opening a can of jiggly cranberry sauce, make your own using fresh cranberries.  In a saucepan, mix ¼ cup of fresh orange juice, a ¼ of 100 percent pure cranberry juice (not cocktail), and 1 cup of honey.  Bring this to a boil, reduce to medium, and then simmer for about five minutes.  Add washed cranberries and cook for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  The cranberries will burst, causing the incredibly aromatic concoction to become thicker.  After this has happened, spoon the sauce into a mold or just a dish is perfectly fine.  Put it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.  This is a great dish to make the night before.  Homemade cranberry sauce is bursting with nutrients from the fresh berries and the honey.

Image by Randy OHC on FlickrRoasted root vegetables are a delicious, seasonal treat.  You will need sweet potatoes, cut into wedges, baby carrots, peeled and cubed parsnips, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 425 and toss the root vegetables with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  As you roast them, give them an occasional stir.  It should take about 25 to 30 minutes until they are tender.

If you have children, roasted root vegetables and squash may be hard sells, to say nothing of your culinary masterpiece, gorgonzola and pear salad.  They may like candied carrots, green bean casserole, baked macaroni and cheese, or plain vegetables, like green beans or broccoli, with a bit of butter on them.  To get more healthy vegetables into them, gather carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, butter, and garlic salt.  Use a Julienne peeler to make slices of the vegetables.  These will look a bit like noodles.  Toss them in a pan with butter and flavor them with the garlic salt.  It’s a good way to get more color onto your table as well.

Thanksgiving is a time of tradition and family; if you need to make new traditions, side dishes offer a great way to do this.  Be creative, use fall vegetables, and think warm and filling.  Remember to save room for some Thanksgiving cookies or pumpkin pie afterwards though!

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