I'm sure I'm not the only one who anticipates the fourth Thursday of November with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning. Thanksgiving is a day devoted, not only to eating until you have to leave the table to unbutton your pants, (which I completely support) but to giving thanks for all of the good things in life.
To me, the day-to-day minutia in life are what makes it pleasurable. The sound of rain hitting the air conditioner when I'm falling asleep, a well-behaved baby on a flight, the deli near your office making your sandwich with just the perfect amount of honey mustard.
Yes,it's the little things that make life what it is. Likewise, it's the side dishes at Thanksgiving dinner that round out the table. The turkey is nice, but it's nothing on its own. It needs thick, savory corn pudding and rich, creamy melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes topped with gravy in order to star as the lead.
This year, inspired by the blogosphere, I've pulled a few new things to try this year for Thanksgiving. I've already road tested a few of them:
As much as I like trying new recipes, there is one that I found on Cooking Light a few years ago that has since become a mainstay at the table.
Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cranberries
2 8.5 ounce boxes corn bread muffin mix (I use Jiffy)
3 T. Olive Oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
2 Tbsp. fresh, chopped sage
1 cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup FF lower sodium chicken broth, plus extra for moistening, if necessary.
1. Prepare corn muffin mixture according to package directions and set aside to cool. When bread has cooled, cut into bite sized pieces and break onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly hardened.
2. In a large, nonstick skillet,* combine olive oil, onions, celery, carrots and sage. Cook on medium for about ten minutes. Add cranberries, broth, salt and pepper and cornbread pieces. Toss well to mix and add extra broth if necessary.
3. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
*Note: I recommend using a LARGE skillet for this - the biggest one you have. This recipe claims to serve 10-12 but makes a LOT of stuffing. We are usually 4-6 people and always have a ton of leftovers.
Most nutritionists will tell you that when you eat a meal, you should fill your plate with 50% vegetables, 25& carbohydrates and 25% lean protein. Even though turkey is a staple, this rule goes out the window on Thanksgiving. I know that potatoes, stuffing and bread are always the leaders on my plate.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes? What is the one that you simply can't live without on Thanksgiving?