The sides are always my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I love to have a little of everything. But I had to stop myself from making too much for just me and Adam. I knew he would avoid green bean casserole and any other veggie side dish to the best of his abilities. And as far as cranberry sauce goes, well, it doesn't have a shot in hell with Adam. So in an effort to maximize my kitchen time and tailor my feast to my audience I decided to stick to the classics - mash potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole. And for dessert, of course, pumpkin pie.
The pie was the easiest. I'm not ashamed to say I use the recipe from the Libby's pumpkin can. It's simply my favorite pumpkin pie and always gets rave reviews. I found a frozen whole wheat crust at Sprouts and it was delicious. I wanted to make my own crust in an effort to "fancy" it up, but I just couldn't find the time. Next year, maybe.
Next, I made individual Roasted Sweet Potato Casseroles. It was just a few years ago that I loved to make sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving using (gasp!) canned sweet potatoes. I think back then I didn't know they came any other way. Hahaha. Luckily, my cooking style has changed.
These were easy. I only had about a pound and half of sweet potatoes on hand and that made exactly two individual sweet potato casseroles. I opted to roast my sweet potatoes instead of boil like some recipes have you do. Roasting imparts more flavor. But due to some accidental oven dial turning mine came out a little too crispy (read: burned). So keep a close eye on them, and that oven dial!
While the sweet potatoes were roasting I got to work on Mom's stuffing recipe. This was a recipe that I was SO excited to share, but unfortunately I'm not going to be able to do that. Adam didn't like it, he said it was too citrusy from the addition of orange juice and lemon juice. And he's my only taste tester. I really need to have some people over with more adventurous taste buds. You see, I had to half my mom's recipe (and I still have a giant tupperware full of stuffing!) and I think something went wonky with the measurements when I halved it. I liked the stuffing but not the way I LOVE it when mom makes it. Maybe some things are just better when made by moms? I have some ideas on how to tweak the recipe and improve it. Maybe for Christmas? Then I'll share. For now, enjoy the photos!
And finally I made the mashed potatoes. Most would think mashed potatoes are easy peasy, but more often than not I'm eating bland mashed potatoes at family gatherings, or even restaurants! It's such a bummer when such a delicious food lacks flavor. I have three golden rules when it comes to making mashed potatoes. 1. Use baby gold potatoes (yukon), fingerling, or even red potatoes. 2. Keep the skins on and keep the mashed potatoes slightly chunky. I'm not gonna completely knock mashed potatoes that have been completely puréed, but I feel a few chunks make the mashed potatoes much more rustic and heart warming. 3. Use lots of salt. Potatoes need it.
Also, mashed potatoes should be creamy. I swear by greek yogurt to get the perfect creaminess. Plus it has the added bonus of WAY less calories than sour cream. I decided to get a little fancy with my mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, so I added roasted garlic. Oh man, roasted garlic is so delicious. These mashed potatoes were so delicious. I must make them again ASAP.
Michelle's Roasted Garlic Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe
*measurements are approximates - start with less and add more as needed*
2 lbs baby gold potatoes, yukon potatoes, or fingerling potatoes
2 Tbls melted butter
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup plain non fat or 2% greek yogurt *see note
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chicken broth or veggie broth
1 teaspoon or more kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon or more fresh ground pepper
For the Roasted Garlic:
1 head of garlic
dash of olive oil
sprinkle of pepper
- Roasting garlic takes about 45 minutes. So plan ahead. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Or if you are already cooking something else just adjust the time. My garlic went in to a 350 degree oven while my stuffing was cooking and I left the garlic in for about an hour.
- Keep the head of garlic in tact and slice off the top of the garlic so the cloves are now showing. Rub olive oil over the top of the cloves and sprinkle with pepper. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven.
- When your garlic is closed to finished, boil a pot of water with a dash of salt in it.
- Clean and cut your potatoes into fourths. Keep skins on.
- Once the water is boiling. Add the potatoes. Cook until fork tender. Drain potatoes. Let finished garlic cool.
- Add potatoes back to pot over very low heat. Use a knife to take roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add the cloves to the potatoes.
- Add 1/4 cup greek yogurt and 2 Tbls. melted butter and stir / mash. I use a wooden spoon, but you can use a potato masher if you like.
- Add 1/4 cup chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Stir / mash. Continue adding more broth and yogurt as you mash to reach your desired consistency. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed.
*Greek yogurt is a thick, creamy yogurt. It has a tangy taste that pairs well with the potatoes. You can use full fat but I find that it doesn't enhance the flavor by much. 2% is a good bet. I often use Fage brand.
And that's how we did Thanksgiving this year! Despite the minor setbacks, the meal was delicious. And we enjoyed it with a well deserved beer or two. Although I'm not sure what Adam did to deserve his beer... moral support?
Penny enjoyed her Thanksgiving too!
Peace, love, leftovers, and happiness!