Thanksgiving Side Dishes- Traditional Favorites and some Random Surprises

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving Table 2013

For more photos see posting on Tables

I love turkey, but, for many people, the side dishes are the highlight of the Thanksgiving meal. The other night we celebrated and gave thanks with friends in a gathering aptly named “Friendsgiving,” and, despite a gorgeous 34 lb. fresh turkey (when I say “fresh,” I mean fresh – it was slaughtered the day before), the side dishes occupied the majority of the real estate on the guests plates. My invitation for Friendsgiving suggested that if guests wanted to, they could bring a side dish of their choice – either something reminiscent of their childhood Thanksgivings or a side dish they knew would not be served at the Thanksgiving feast they would attend this year. I think everyone has experienced the disappointment of attending a Thanksgiving feast where your favorite “traditional” side dish is absent. However, the flip side is attending a gathering where you discover a new favorite (for me, sauerkraut and corn pudding – not together- make that list). This year I had a couple of vegetarians on the guest list, so I made two types of stuffing (my traditional stuffing includes sausage); I loved the new Quinoa stuffing and will make it in future years, whether or not I have vegetarians attending. This year’s Thanksgiving featured the following side dishes:

  • Sausage Cornbread Stuffing (with mushrooms, apples and pecans)
  • Quinoa Stuffing with Mushrooms and Apples Dried Cranberries
  • Roasted, Pureed Butternut Squash (click here for recipe)
  • Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
  • Corn Casserole
  • Sauerkraut
  • Ginger Pear Cranberry Sauce
  • Guajillo Chili Cranberry Sauce

I also served vegetarian chipotle pumpkin soup and corn muffins. For dessert we enjoyed homemade pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple pie – but that’s a whole separate post.

corn puddingCorn Casserole


  • 2 Cans Creamed Corn
  • 2 Cans Corn (do not drain)
  • 2 Cups Sour Cream
  • 1.5 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Butter- melted
  • 2 Boxes (8 Oz.) Jiffy Corn Mix


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Spray or grease a 9×12 baking dish or equal sized casserole dish and pour in mixture. Cover and bake for 30 minutes; remove cover and bake an additional 30 minutes.

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing 2Sausage Cornbread Stuffing


  • 2 Lbs. Breakfast Sausage (can combine 1 package country style, 1 package sage sausage)
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion (about 2-3 Cups)- chopped
  • 6 Stalks Celery (including leaves)- chopped
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples – peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 12 Oz. Mushrooms (button, baby bellas – or combination) – chopped
  • 6 Oz. Pecans – chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Sage- chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley
  • 3 TBS. Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1-3 Cups Turkey or Chicken Broth
  • 14 Oz. Cornbread Stuffing
  • 14 Oz. Herb Cubed Stuffing Mix
  • Salt and Pepper – to taste


Cook sausage in a large saute pan. Remove sausage from pan and set aside. Add butter to pan and melt. Add chopped onions and celery and saute until softened. Add mushrooms, apples, pecans, sage and thyme. Cook until apples and mushrooms are softened. In a large bowl or stockpot, combine sausage, sauteed vegetable mixture, and two types of stuffing. Mix well and add broth (a bit at a time) until stuffing mix is moistened as desired. Season with salt and pepper. Add stuffing to cavity of turkey and cook accordingly. Heat remaining stuffing in an oven safe baking dish (you may want to add extra broth to the stuffing which is not cooked in the bird).

quinoa stuffingVegetarian Quinoa Stuffing


  • 1.5 Cups Quinoa
  • 3 3/4 Cup Vegetable Broth – plus extra
  • 4 Stalks Celery- chopped
  • 1 Medium Sweet Onion – chopped
  • 12 oz. Mushrooms – chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples – peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2-3 Oz. Dried Cranberries – chopped
  • 1 Bag (12 oz.) Herb Cubed Stuffing
  • 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter (or Vegan margarine)
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Sage – chopped
  • Salt and Pepper


Heat quinoa and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan and cook for 15 minutes until quinoa is cooked. In the meantime, in a large saute pan melt butter and saute celery and onion until tender. Add mushrooms, apples, cranberries, and herbs and saute until tender. Combine quinoa, stuffing, and vegetable mixture, season with salt and pepper and moisten with additional vegetable broth if desired. Heat at 350 Degrees in a covered casserole dish until warmed through.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes


  • 5 Lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes (or Russetts) peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 Cup of Buttermilk (or Heavy Cream)
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


To a stockpot, add enough water to cover potatoes. Bring water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are fork tender (but not mushy), about 10 minutes depending on the type of potato and the size of your chunks. In the meantime,aAdd buttermilk (or cream) and butter to a small saucepan and heat to just below boiling. Drain the potatoes and mash with a masher or potato ricer. Add hot buttermilk mixture, salt and pepper (to taste) and mix thoroughly (if you like really smooth potatoes, you can use a hand mixer and whip the potatoes). Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper as necessary.

Guajillo Chili Cranberry SauceGuajillo Chili Cranberry Sauce


  • 4 Cups Fresh Cranberries (about 1.5 bags)
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Orange Zest
  • 1 Cup (1 block) Piloncillo (can substitute light brown sugar)*
  • 1 Dried Guajillo Chili
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds – optional, for garnish

* Piloncillo is available in most Mexican markets – it has a deep earthy brown sugar taste and is worth seeking out. It is usually sold in a cone shaped block.


Rehydrate guajillo chili in warm water for 20 minutes. Bring orange juice to a boil in a medium saucepan and add piloncillo until it melts and dissolves – stirring regularly. Add cranberries and simmer over medium heat until cranberries start to pop. Use a spoon to slightly mash up the cranberries. Remove the stem and seeds from the guajillo chili and finely chop. Add chili, orange zest and cinnamon to cranberry mixture. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature garnished with pumpkin seeds.

Ginger Pear Cranberry SauceGinger Pear Cranberry Sauce


  • 12 Oz. Fresh Cranberries
  • 2 Medium Pears (ripe but firm) – peeled, cored and diced
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 3 TBS. Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS. Orange Juice
  • 1 TBS. Freshly Grated Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 5 TBS. Crystallized Ginger – chopped


In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except crystallized ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer until cranberries start to pop (about 5-7 minutes) and use a spoon to help mash cranberries – continue cooking until mixture thickens (about another 5 minutes); stir in crystallized ginger. Remove cranberry mixture from heat and allow to cool – serve at room temperature.


4 responses to “Thanksgiving Side Dishes- Traditional Favorites and some Random Surprises

  1. Pingback: Turkey, Stuffing And All That: Why Eat Normal? | Notes for My Next Life

  2. Pingback: THANKSGIVING!!! | domesticnotsodiva

  3. Pingback: Stuffing Muffins | Cooking Is My Sport

  4. Pingback: Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramel Drizzle | Kath's Kitchen Sync

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