Five Side Dishes To Give Thanks For!

Thanksgiving dinner is one meal of the year that I don't mess with tradition.  I serve (or bring) the expected turkey, gravy, stuffing, side dishes and pies!  You can't go wrong with any of these potato or vegetable side dishes on your Thanksgiving table.  Happy Turkey Day and stay tuned for some untraditional wine pairings!!


Sweet Potatoes With Lemon and Brown Sugar

Serves 8-10


6 large sweet potatoes

Zest and juice from 2 lemons

1 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper 

1/2 - 1 stick of butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

1) Line 2 baking sheets with tin foil and rub butter over foil to thinly coat.

2) Boil potatoes until soft, about 25 to 35 minutes.

3) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel potatoes, using gloves if potatoes are still very hot.  Slice potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices.

4) Zest lemons into a small bowl and add lemon juice.  

5) Place potatoes on baking sheets in one layer.  Sprinkle with salt and brush on lemon zest/juice.   Place a dab of butter (about a third teaspoon) on top of each slice.   Sprinkle potatoes with sugar.

5) Bake potatoes until caramelized, about an hour, checking on them half way through and turning pan around if one end is browning more quickly. 

6) Remove from baking sheet and place potatoes on platter.  Sprinkle with walnuts or pecans if desired.


Joel's Famous Mashed Potatoes With Sautéed Onions

Serves 8


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 large white onions, peeled and chopped

6 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 - 2 sticks butter (Use 2 sticks if you dare throw all caution to the wind for one day), cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup whole milk, warmed slightly in microwave

salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Serves 8

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Sauté until onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, place potatoes in a pot, cover with water, stir in one teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer potatoes about 15 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.  Drain potatoes in colander when done and return them to the pot.  

3) Add butter and milk and mix with a potato masher until smooth.  Add onions to potatoes and stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Place potatoes in a bowl and keep warm until serving.



Broccolini With Lemony Bread Crumbs

Serves 8.  Adapted from a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Salt and pepper

4 bunches of broccolini, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the breadcrumbs and stir over moderate heat until golden.  Remove from heat and add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. 

2) In a bowl, mix broccolini with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place broccolini on foil-lined baking sheet in one layer.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and check for doneness by inserting a knife into the base of one piece to make sure it goes in easily and it is not still hard (that's what she said! lol).  Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the lemony bread crumbs and serve. 



Brussels Sprouts With Bacon

Serves 8

1/2 lb. bacon

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 lbs brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise, from top to bottom

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

serves 8

1) Saute the bacon in a large skillet until crispy, about 5-10 minutes.  Remove bacon from skillet and place on paper towels.  Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from skillet and set aside.  Crumble bacon into small pieces.

2) In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons olive oil with the brussels sprouts, salt and pepper.  

3) Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to bacon fat in skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add brussels sprouts to pan in one layer, cut side down.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove cover, shake pan and check for doneness.  They are done when the cut side is nicely browned and a knife inserted into them goes in without effort. 

4) Place brussels sprouts in serving bowl, sprinkle bacon on top and serve warm.



The Best Cranberry Sauce Ever (And So Easy To Make!)

Serves 8

1 navel orange,

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 cup water

3 cups (one 12-ounce bag) fresh cranberries

1/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans

1) Grate the orange peel and add to a pot with the sugar, ginger, water and the juice from the orange.  Simmer over medium heat,  stirring,  until the sugar is dissolved.

2) Rinse cranberries well with water.  Add the cranberries to the pot and cook until they pop, about 5 - 10 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.  Add pecans and let cool.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  

3)  Serve at room temperature.