Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Standards

I had a lovely young lady come up to me today and ask where to begin on her first Thanksgiving side dishes. These are three basics to get you off on the right track if you've never ventured down this road before. Don't stress out, just stay calm and don't let anybody leave hungry!

Green Bean Casserole

I truly believe this is the house dish of the South!

1 Quart of Green Beans = 3 cans of store bought if you don't have home canned beans. I prefer whole or cut beans instead of the french cut. I'm a country gal...just sayin'...
1-2* Can Cream of Chicken (or Cream of Mushroom) soup - *depends on how creamy you like your casserole
1 Can French Fried Onions (large or small, depending on how "oniony" you like things)
Salt and Pepper

Drain beans completely, salt and pepper to taste. Combine with soup (undiluted). I like to use a large container of onions with about a can and a half of soup. I mix half my onions in the soup and bean mixture. I top with the remaining onions and bake at 350* oven for 30 minutes.

Now these instructions may seem less than scientific but it's cooking people, not rocket science. I know that this is a really basic dish but a gal's gotta start somewhere now doesn't she!

Mashed Potatoes

I remember calling home from college asking my Mama how to make mashed potatoes. It was a long distance call and she hung up on me promptly. I called my Grandmother and she knew it was a "toll" call so she talked to fast I had NO IDEA what she said. Somewhere over the years, I figured it out. Just remember, this is a good recipe meant to be enjoyed...your physician may or may not approve of my methods but he or she will sure enjoy your mashed potatoes!

5 lbs Russet Potatoes (feeds 4-6 hearty eaters) peel, rinse and quarter
2 sticks butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Peel, rinse and quarter potatoes. Try to keep the chunks to all about the same size for equal cooking time. Boil in a large pot of lightly salted (1/2 a teaspoon or so) of boiling water until each potato section is cooked completely. Drain and add butter and evaporated milk, salt and pepper to taste.

NOW - I prefer the traditional potato masher - that old fashioned thing that leaves a few lumps here and there. Some may prefer to whip these with a hand mixer or a blender. That's fine if you want whipped potatoes but this Whitlock, TN lady likes a few lumps so I am a hand masher. You do what you want. Serve within a half hour of making and it's wonderful! We'll talk about left overs later on!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Yankees call these yams but we all know they are really Sweet Potatoes!

6 good size sweet potatoes (1/2 potato per person to be served)
1 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup evaporated milk (possibly less depending on consistency of mixture)
1 cup sliced pecans
additional 1/4 cup brown sugar for topping

Peel and bake potatoes until completely cooked. Cook 40 Minutes @ 400* in a conventional oven or 20 minutes inthe mocrowave. You can quarter and bake them in the oven or in the microwave. Mash and combine with butter and evaporated milk to desired consistency (do not let them get runny, control this by reducing the milk if necessary). Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix well with potato mixture.

Top with sliced pecans and brown sugar. You can get extra devilish and drizzle the whole thing with more melted butter (but only if you dare)!!!

Some prefer to top this with marshmallows and brown them under the broiler. I will ALWAYS remember this as the "timer" of the smoke alarm going off at my in-laws house...a sure signal that dinner was ready!


  1. Thought I purchased everything for Sweet Potatoe Casserole, but had no clue I would need evaporated milk. Ugh!

    Thanks for such wonderful recipes!

  2. not to stress, use milk and add a teaspoon of sugar..it's not science, just food!