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Fantastic Thanksgiving Sides

A cheesy potato casserole and delicious cranberry sauce are sure to light up your Thanksgiving dinner table.

It’s time for Thanksgiving, my favorite time of the year! Not only do you get to see family, but the food is plentiful and delicious. If your family is anything like mine, there are multiple side dishes to choose from to accompany the all important turkey.

Everything from green bean casserole to sweet potato pie has been served at our table and now, I would like to share some fantastic side dish recipes that may become a part of your Thanksgiving tradition.

Ingredients

Cheesy Potato Casserole

3 lbs red potatoes, sliced

1 lb broccoli, chopped

1 10.75 oz can cream of chicken

1 cup sour cream

½ lb ham, sliced

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp basil

½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

½ cup Asiago, grated

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ cup butter, melted

Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz bag cranberries

Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of ½ orange

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/3 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Process

Cheesy Potato Casserole

Blanch the broccoli for about two minutes. Set aside.

Place the potatoes into a pot of salted boiling water. Cook until they are about ¾ cooked. Stack them into a baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream of chicken, sour cream, ham, broccoli, paprika, black pepper, kosher salt, garlic powder, and basil. Stir until fully combined.

Spread the cream of chicken mixture over the potatoes. Cover the casserole with the cheeses. Spread the bread crumbs over the cheese and evenly pour butter on top of that.

Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Cranberry Sauce

In a medium sauce pan, add cranberries, brown sugar, white sugar, water, orange juice, and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil on medium heat. Add the orange zest. Cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes (the berries will split and the liquid will thicken). Remove from heat. You can either refrigerate the sauce or you can let sit for about 20 minutes and serve at room temperature, it’s personal preference.

Taste Test

The casserole was fantastic. I put some on a plate so I could photograph it and before I knew it, the serving was gone. It was creamy and cheesy with a slight crunch from the bread crumbs. The potatoes were soft while the broccoli added an extra layer of texture that fit in well. “Perfect bites” (a bite where all ingredients are on the fork) occur more often than not, which is what I shoot for when making a casserole.

The cranberry sauce was great. The spices are a great reminder that fall is here. The sauce has a great consistency that isn’t too runny but not super thick like what comes out of the can. It goes great with turkey and chicken alike.

Leftover Quality

The casserole is good the next day but not great. The potatoes get a tad soggy, as do the bread crumbs but it is definitely edible.

The cranberry sauce is fantastic the next day and will actually hold up for about a week.

esther November 09, 2012 at 11:12 PM
For my cranberry sauce I use Splenda brown sugar and Splenda to substitute the sugar as one of my children is a type one diabetic. I do not include salt though some people swear by it. I also give a twist by making a batch with little bits of orange in one and pears and apples in another. I chill it overnight at least but have also given it a spin in the micro as people like the warm sauce on warm turkey. You can decorate by peeling a little orange zest on top. Happy Turkey Day!!!
Alice Jameson November 09, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I always add about ¼ cup of Jack to the homemade cranberry sauce I bake the day before and chill overnight. The family just loves it—even avowed cranberry haters.
Terry November 09, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Finely chopped jalapeno pepper in the cranberry sauce makes it interesting for those of us who've gotten a little bored with its sweetness.
Michael Brancato November 18, 2012 at 12:17 PM
I prefer my recipe for cranberry sauce: Remove can from pantry Attach can opener Turn lever until can is open Empty contents onto plate Enjoy!
Lucretia G. November 18, 2012 at 01:33 PM
That’s the old tried and true “traditional” recipe that’s graced the Thanksgiving tables of generations of families, but many find it strictly ornamental.
Linda Sadlouskos (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Dear Michael, Although I LOVE fresh cranberry sauce and make it w/real cranberries (and some orange peel/juice tossed in as counterbalance for cranberries' tartness) I have to admit that last year I ended up buying a bottle of cranberry sauce from Trader Joe's to take as backup to someone else's feast. I ended up not taking it, because I didn't want to offend them if they had homemade sauce (they didn't!) but the bottled stuff was really good -- much better, even easier, than opening a can! And is there anything tackier than getting the slice of canned stuff with the indentation of the can from the bottom?
Michael Brancato November 19, 2012 at 01:11 PM
But Linda, those indentations are where all the flavor is stored! I get what you're saying, but for me, there's something about that cranberry Jell-O that is just more enjoyable. To each their own. Happy Thanksgiving.

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