Cranberries

This whole blogging every day thing is hard. I don’t know how some of you do it. It’s hard for me to blog even once a week sometimes (though I’ve been trying to remedy that). Anyway, a work emergency left me unable to post yesterday and I still have lots to do today, so a slight change of plans: I’ll post all the rest of the side dishes today and the turkey tomorrow. Then next week I’ll post my favorite part of Thanksgiving (or any meal, really): Dessert!

So I already posted all my sweet potato side dishes but you can’t just eat sweet potatoes (well, I actually think I could, but I’m weird). All of today’s recipes (as well as the turkey) are courtesy of my mother. I found them all in her battered, food covered, recipe scrapbook where she dutifully taped in handwritten recipe cards or cutouts from magazines.

Spiced Cranberries

The first one I decided to try was Spiced Cranberries. I’ve always thought there were two different kinds of people in the world. The ones who eat whole cranberry sauce and the ones who eat the jellied cranberry sauce. So trying this recipe was a gamble because I’m a most definitely for jellied. I always hated the whole variety and I don’t think it would be Thanksgiving if I didn’t have that tube of jellied cranberry sauce sitting on my table. So to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Honestly? You should make this recipe because of how awesome it will make your kitchen (and possibly whole house) smell. I am totally serious about that. You cook the cranberries in cinnamon and sugar for an hour and that hour is magical. If there was a smell to perfectly represent Thanksgiving and Christmas all in one, it would be Spiced Cranberries.

This is super simple dish that you can make the night before (it needs to chill in the fridge for a while) and it’s a nice alternative to plain old cranberry sauce. And of course, you know, it tastes good too! Even a lifelong jellied cranberry sauce eater can appreciate it. My only issue was that I thought the spices were a little too overpowering, so I’ve adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Continuing my theme of “trying things I don’t normally like”, my next side dish is Stuffed Acorn Squash. I’ve never ever liked any kind of squash. My boyfriend is also a lifelong hater of squash, so squash is rarity in our house. But I’ve been slowly trying to acquaint myself with it. Last year I made an acorn squash recipe that I liked quite a bit which was mostly because brown sugar and butter makes everything better. So when I saw this recipe had stuffing in it, I figured this would be the same principle. Stuffing makes everything better. And actually, I was right. This recipe tastes way more like stuffing than squash which made me like it in a way that I don’t think I could like a plain squash dish. So you get the healthiness of a vegetable with the yummy taste of stuffing. That’s a winning dish for me. Plus everyone gets their own little shell, so it’s a neat presentation. Please excuse my burnt stuffing from my picture. The stuffing is mixed in, but it’s also sprinkled on top and I cooked it a little to long and burnt the top. Oops. It won’t look like that when you make it!

Green Bean and Potato Casserole

The final side dish is a Green Bean Casserole with a twist. I say that because when I think of green bean casserole, I think of that stuff with the little crispy onion thingies. That has never been a staple at any of my Thanksgivings, but it’s pretty ubiquitous, no? Well, this isn’t that. This is actually green beans and potatoes and it has some onions too, but real onions, not those crispy things. It’s really easy to put together, just layer those three ingredients, top with some cream of chicken and cheese. Honestly, it kind of looks/sounds less appetizing that it actually is. I wanted to try it since I’ve never seen a green bean casserole like that before. I didn’t particularly think it would blow me out the water, but it wound up tasting a lot better than I expected. And green beans and potatoes are my second and third favorite vegetable after sweet potatoes so I was happy with this dish.

Spiced Cranberries

Spiced Cranberries

from Back to the Cutting Board

Side Dish | Servings: 8-12
Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 1 hour 10 min | Total time: 3 hour 15 min

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries (frozen is fine, thaw beforehand)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of ginger

Process

  1. Wash cranberries and drain; set aside.
  2. Combine sugar, water and spices in large saucepan, bring to a boil.
  3. Add cranberries; cook for 7-10 minutes or until cranberry skins pop.
  4. Reduce heat to low/medium-low and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool.* Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours. Best served cold or room temperature.

    *Note: At this point you can strain out the seeds if you want. I did this by pouring everything through a large colander to separate the juice/seeds and the berries. Then I strained the juice through a fine strainer to separate the seeds. Then I poured the juice back in with the cranberries.

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash

from Back to the Cutting Board

Side Dish | Servings: 2-4 (everyone gets half a squash)
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour 15 min

Ingredients

  • 2 medium acorn squash (or 1 large)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup crushed herb seasoned stuffing mix, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Cut each squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool for a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring water to boil, add bouillon cube and remove from heat. Stir until it fully dissolves. Set aside.
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan and saute onions until tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Carefully scoop out squash pulp into a large bowl. Reserve shells. Mash the pulp with a potato masher or hand mixer.
  6. Stir in egg. Then add in dissolved bouillon.
  7. Add in onion, 3/4 cup stuffing mix, salt and pepper. Stir well.
  8. Spoon mixture back in shells and sprinkle with remaining stuffing mix.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees (F) for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Green Bean and Potato Casserole

Green Bean and Potato Casserole

from Back to the Cutting Board

Side Dish | Servings: 4
Prep time: 25 min | Cook time: 45 min | Total time: 1 hour 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed, or 14.5 oz. canned green beans, reserve juice from can
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 small potatoes, sliced very thin (about 1/8th inch)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Spray 1 quart or 8-9″ square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. If you are using fresh green beans, place them in a pot of water, bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain, but reserve about 1/4 cup of the water.
  3. Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the dish, top with onions, then add a layer of green beans and top with more onions. Repeat until potatoes, green beans and onions are used up, but try to end with green beans and onions on top (I didn’t do it that way and the potatoes on top turned out kind of hard, so I think they cook better in the middle).
  4. Stir reserved green bean water, or juice from the can into a bowl with the cream of chicken soup. Pour the mixture over the green beans.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes and then top with cheese. Continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and cheese is melted.