I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday! One that included successful cooking, relaxation, family & friends, and not dropping a 12″ cast iron skillet on the top of your foot. Yes that was me, definitely not my finest moment. But otherwise I can’t complain. I took my time in the kitchen and had a peaceful day cooking by myself. In all honestly I think I preferred the cooking part of the day most. Brought me quite a bit of zen, cooking in the new house with plenty of space and light. Preparing the cranberries and pumpkin cookies in advance proved to be a great idea so I didn’t have to rush and could take a moment any time my back needed a break.
I chose to make my top three Thanksgiving dishes this year: green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and cranberries – plus a turkey Italian sausage stuffing. Stuffing ranks up there in my top 5 but I like it when it’s baked inside a turkey, and this was a road I didn’t want to travel. Our guests added a couple more side dishes to the spread, mashed potatoes, gravy, and macaroni & cheese. We had plenty for the 7 of us to feast. It was really good eats and we were all very mellow. I guess too mellow as one person fell asleep at the dinner table!
My favorite of the night and every Thanksgiving since I can remember is the green bean casserole. I don’t know what it is about this dish but it never fails to hit the spot, especially french cut green beans. So I made my way to a cooking store and bought the little gadget to be able to french slice my fresh beans. My recipe is traditional but not heavy at all. I did use a cup of cream but that really wasn’t much when you think of the large bowl I made. They were definitely a hit!
For the sweet potatoes I used my mom’s recipe. I had never made them myself before and was pleased at how easy it was to prepare. The sweet potatoes cook in a pressure cooker with orange juice, orange zest, and a tad bit of sugar. As you can imagine they are creamy and taste delicious! I did melt marshmallows on top, something I could do without but I went ahead and put them on for Jake. His smile when he noticed made it all worth it.
And lastly the stuffing I made followed the same recipe from previous batch I made a few weeks ago. I used turkey Italian sausage so we had some meat to add to our feast. Otherwise it was pretty basic: fresh herbs, homemade croutons, dried cherries, onion, and celery. I passed on eating any as I ate extra green beans instead, but the overall verdict was plenty positive.
In the end it was definitely a Thanksgiving success. Next year I’m thinking green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, cranberries, and kale. Oh and a pumpkin pie. I wasn’t inspired to make one this year but I wish I would have in hindsight. Pumpkin pie is just too good to pass up!
Green Bean Casserole
- green beans, just under 2 lbs
- fried onions, 1 1/2 cups
- salt, 2 tablespoons plus more
- butter, 2 tablespoons
- mushrooms, 12 oz chopped
- black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
- garlic, 3-4 cloves minced
- nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon
- spelt flour, 4 tablespoons
- Better Than Bouillon chicken base, 2 teaspoons
- water, 2 cups
- cream, 1 cup (I used Kolona Super Natural brand and I very highly recommend it if you can locate it)
- French cut green beans and wash. Chop mushrooms
- Blanch beans: boil a pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Add beans and cook 4-5 minutes. Immediately drain and place in ice cold water to stop the cooking. Drain.
- Melt butter in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped mushrooms and garlic and cook 4 minutes or so until they soften. Add nutmeg, chicken base, and s&p. Mix. Sprinkle flour and mix until combined. Add the water and bring to a simmer, cook 2-3 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the cup of cream. Cook until thick 8-10 minutes.
- Add green beans and 1/2 cup of fried onions to the mushroom sauce. Mix well and place in a large casserole dish. Top with remaining cup of fried onions.
- Cover with foil and bake in a 350° oven until bubbling on the sides 30-45 minutes. Lastly remove foil and allow onions to lightly brown.
Mom’s Sweet Potatoes
- 5 yams, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (I used a tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used a bit less)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- dash of salt
- marshmallows, optional
- Place all ingredients in a pressure cooker. Place on the stove and pressure cook slowly for 8 minutes.
- Immediately place pressure cooker in sink and run cold water over it to cool until able to be opened.
- Remove sweet potatoes with a slotted spoon and place in a casserole dish.
- Simmer the sauce in a small skillet until it thickens into a glaze. Pour over sweet potatoes.
- Top sweet potatoes with marshmallows and melt them in the oven, 1o minutes or so.