It’s football and turkey time but don’t sideline those fabulous sides!
- Written by Karen Boughton
Cutline: Carlie Jean Rogers waiting for her favorite side ... Greek stuffing! Thanksgiving in our home has become a juggling act, with three grown daughters with families of their own, they are all trying to come home for Thanksgiving while still honoring the in-laws. I was willing to celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday or Saturday as we did when one of our girls was in school at Texas A&M. That was the big football rival game of the year and we compromised with pleasure to watch what we hoped would be a victory over the University of Texas or as it was called in our home, TU! But now times have changed and the desires of all are hard to satisfy. One wants us to celebrate on Saturday so they can stay vacationing on Hilton Head Island South Carolina a bit longer this year. One wants the holiday to be honored and celebrated on the official day, and the third, well she will be celebrating the week before with her husband’s family and she informed us she has to work on Thanksgiving so she is open to a late-night dinner or celebrating on Friday. My, what a dilemma we have going on. I was ready to just order a complete dinner from the grocery store for those who would be coming, but you would have thought I was committing a murder, well a turkey dinner murder that is. The family informed me that Thanksgiving was about the tradition of family recipes passed down and shared, especially the delicious sides. No store or restaurant dinner can come close to the sides our family has come to love and cherish so … I will stick to tradition – Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day/evening. I guess one of our daughters will be cutting her South Carolina vacation short if she wants any of our family’s fabulous sides. So, please join my table as we remember to be grateful for all we have and enjoy Thanksgiving dishes that have not been sidelined! If you are enjoying your favorite team on television Thanksgiving Day, why not enjoy this pre dinner snack that may soon become a family tradition in your home? Sweet Potato Skins Tex-Mex Style Start to finish: 60 minutes Servings: 6 to 8 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat baking sheet 8 sweet potatoes or about 4 pounds (6-7 ounces each as uniform in size as you can find) 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder 1 tablespoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground, cracked black pepper Topping: 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thin and chopped 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin and chopped 3/4 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese 2-3 green onions, chopped (include the green tops) Jalapeño slices fresh or pickled, your choice 1-2 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 1 4-ounce can green chilies, drained and chopped Store bought salsa and guacamole Directions: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat two baking sheets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil using about 1/2 tablespoon per baking sheet. Wash sweet potatoes well and pat dry. Cut them in half lengthwise and carefully cut each half into three equal sized wedges. You should have 48 sweet potato wedges. In a really large bowl, combine potatoes with the three tablespoons of olive oil and mix carefully. In a small bowl, mix together all spices and seasonings. Add the seasonings to the potatoes in the large bowl and toss to coat well. potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake in center of oven, uncovered for about 9 to 10 minutes on each side (20 minutes total). Remove from oven and place potato wedges on large oven-safe serving platters. Top with bell peppers, green chilies, jalapeños, cheddar and jack cheese and return to oven for about two minutes, or until the cheese melts. Top with green onions, tomatoes, cilantro and sour cream. Serve with salsa and guacamole on the side. Even if your family normally won’t touch cooked carrots, this recipe may have them asking for seconds! Sweet and Hot … Honey, I ate the carrots Start to finish: 30 minutes Servings: 6 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 pound carrots, cleaned and sliced into half- inch disks/pieces 2 small jalapenos, seeded, cut in half lengthwise 5 tablespoons honey (I use local or thyme honey) Juice of 1 lemon 1/2 cup water Salt and pepper to taste Note: To change up the flavor I sometimes add 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or 1 teaspoon of curry powder. DIRECTIONS: In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook until they begin to caramelize and lightly brown. Stir in the jalapeno and cook one minute. Add remaining ingredients, stir, cover and cook approximately 10 minutes, or till most of the liquid has been cooked into the carrots and the carrots are tender. Serve immediately. This is my favorite side and a tribute to my Cretan Greek heritage. Since most of my family isn’t nuts about this side dish, I make it in a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until rice is done, and not inside the turkey as directed. Greek Raisin Nut Dressing Start to finish: 60 minutes Servings: 8 ½ pound ground lamb 1/2-pound ground beef 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 1 stick unsalted butter 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts 3 whole cloves 2 cinnamon sticks 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1 cup rice, uncooked ½ cup white or golden raisins 1/2 cup chopped, cooked chestnuts Salt and pepper to taste DIRECTIONS: In a large saucepan, brown onions in butter three minutes, add garlic and brown two minutes more. Add ground meat, season with salt and pepper, and brown slightly. Add tomato paste diluted with a little water. Add cloves, cinnamon and parsley. Cook slowly on simmer about 30 minutes till meat is done. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. While the meat mixture is simmering, place the rice in a saucepan with two cups of water, boil in the water for about 10 minutes. Strain and add to meat mixture. Add raisins, pine nuts and chestnuts and cook for another 10 minutes or until rice is done. Cool and stuff into turkey then roast turkey as directed. If I don’t have these sweet potatoes on our Thanksgiving table, my family will boycott. Sweet Potato Surprise Start to finish: 60 minutes Servings: 6 2 tablespoon butter (use this to butter the dish) 3 16-ounce cans whole sweet potatoes 1 1/4 cups brown sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1 tablespoon orange juice 2 cups apricot halves in heavy syrup (No. 2 can) 2 tablespoons butter, (Not Margarine) 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts DIRECTIONS: Drain syrup from potatoes, cut in half lengthwise. Place potatoes in a buttered 10x6 x1-1/2 inch baking dish. In a saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, orange rind and orange juice. Drain apricots and reserve one cup of the syrup. Stir syrup into cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and boil two minutes. Add apricots, butter and nuts. Pour over potatoes and bake uncovered in a 375-degree oven about 30 minutes. NOTE: This can be prepared earlier in the day and kept refrigerated until time to bake. Remove from fridge 30 minutes prior to baking.