Start strategizing over your Thanksgiving side dish recipes first when planning the big meal. That way, you'll feel less stressed when you sit down to the holiday table.
Planning Your Thanksgiving Recipes
Take a realistic look at your kitchen before you plan for Thanksgiving. You will not really be able to serve a hot ham and a cooked Turkey if you only have one oven, unless you choose to barbeque or smoke your turkey.
The same thought applies to side dishes. Realistically speaking, are you really going to be able to heat soup, make gravy, boil potatoes for mashed potatoes, steam spinach and make stovetop stuffing at the same time if you only have four burners on your stove? You might consider eliminating a dish or two or substitute one new dish for two others.
Think simple. Not every side dish has to be an elaborate affair, particularly if you are having several side dishes. Fresh may trump complicated when paired with lack of time when planning Thanksgiving dinners.
Doing the Prep Work
Do as much of the prep work for Thanksgiving meals in advance so that you have more time to relax and enjoy your guests. For example, you can clean and trim lettuce and other vegetables, set the table and arrange serving dishes the day before.
One way to cut down work time on Thanksgiving Day is to prepare casseroles in advance. For example, instead of making mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, make your mashed potatoes in advance or assemble a mashed potato casserole. Make a sweet potato dish that just needs to be reheated. Put together your stuffing, particularly if you are not using the pre-packaged kind, prior to the big day.
While many foods taste differently when microwaved, you do not have to completely ignore your microwave. Use your microwave to bring pre-prepared dishes up to room temperature, and then add a little more heat before you put them in the oven. This can help cut down on overall cooking times.
More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipe Ideas
When looking at your side dishes, you have a key window of opportunity for cooking or re-heating. This is, of course, the time when your turkey is resting before carving. If you have only one oven, this gives you about 30 minutes of cooking time after your bird comes out of the heat.
Try to pick dishes that, after assembled, have about the same length of cooking times, even if those times slightly exceed 30 minutes. If your turkey is a little bit cooler than you might like when you serve it, your guests will not mind if your gravy and side dishes are piping hot.
Don't forget your bread or rolls. Bread or rolls can always be wrapped in foil and tossed in on top of cooking casseroles to heat.
Recipes for Side Dishes
You can actually make mashed potatoes a few days ahead of time and reheat. Add gobs of butter to melt as the potatoes are served. For a tasty alternative, try:
Mashed Potato Casserole
Ingredients You Will Need:
5 pounds potatoes
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
Peel and quarter the potatoes, and place in boiling water until they can be pierced with a fork. After draining, mash the potatoes until smooth.
Slightly beat the eggs. Add all ingredients except the butter to the mashed potatoes until well blended.
Spray a large casserole with cooking spray. Spread the potato mix into the dish. Dot with butter pieces. After the casserole cools a little, cover it and refrigerate.
On Thanksgiving Day, bring the casserole to room temperature. Cook covered in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
Orange Sweet Potato Casserole
Ingredients You Will Need:
Sweet Potatoes (think about one-half to one sweet potato per person)
Orange juice to cover
A few dashes of nutmeg
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Cook, boil or microwave sweet potatoes until almost done. At this point, you can wrap the potatoes in foil and assemble the casserole the next day.
If making the same day, let potatoes cool. Cut into slices, and arrange in a greased casserole. Pour enough orange juice in to cover the potatoes about three-quarters high.
Then start the topping. Cut the butter into the rest of the ingredients until you have a crumbly mix. You can adjust the amounts if you would like more topping. The topping can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator an airtight container.
If refrigerated, bring ingredients to room temperature on Thanksgiving. Cook covered for 30 to 40 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Uncover for the last 10 minutes for a browner top.
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It is your turn to host Thanksgiving and you might be freaking out right now. Where do you start? What do you make? Where will you seat all these people?