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7 Thanksgiving Sides That Will Make You Love Sides

I'm actually not kidding with the title of this post. Did you guys see the "Master of None" episode when they're in Nashville and Rachel was like, "I'll just eat sides. I love sides." I was like, "GIRL, SNAP." I have been saying that shit for YEARS.

This has always been my Thanksgiving mantra when people are all, "BUT YOU DON'T EAT TURKEY! HOW WILL YOU COPE!?"

Lord knows, but I've always been able to make it happen and Thanksgiving has always been (and will always be) my favorite family meal, even without the turkey. Mainly because my amazing mom (WWW), who has been writing food posts on my blog for the last six years, is pure magic in the kitchen and always has been.

Note: I am NOT magic in the kitchen, and the other night, when I was reading the kids a book about The Berenstain Bears mom and all of the things she did for her cubs, I turned to my kids and was like, "Sorry I don't make you guys fancy pancakes and I'm kind of a mess in the kitchen." Fable's response: "Mom. You made something even BETTER than pancakes in the kitchen. You made us IN YOUR BODY."

So, you know ... Fable for prez!

Anyway: sides. Sides, sides, everywhere sides! My mom knows sides. And she knows how to cook them. And I ... I know how to put them in my mouth, chew, swallow and smile with my thumbs up. I also know how to write posts about how delicious they are and organize recipes in a list, so that is what I am doing here, today.

Without further ado ...

7 THANKSGIVING SIDES THAT WILL MAKE YOU SAY "I LOVE SIDES"

A WWW-powered Thanksgiving roundup!

1. Mimi's (Vegetarian) Stuffing

Traditional Recipe: Mimi's stuffing

1/2 cup butter or olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 bunch celery, tops and bottoms cut off, chopped

2 bunches parsley, washed and chopped fine, thick stalks removed (I use a food processor)

18 oz Kellogg's corn flakes

¼ cup raisins or currants (optional—you can also add a chopped and peeled apple)

2-4 teaspoons dried whole sage or 1 T fresh (or to taste)

2-4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 t whole dried (crunched up)

2 teaspoons thyme

2 teaspoons marjoram

Juice of half a lemon

1 egg, beaten

2 cup vegetable broth (approximate)

Toasted pine nuts or toasted almonds

Salt and pepper to taste

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1. Cook onions in butter until soft.

2. Add celery and continue cooking until soft but not brown:

3. Put in a large bowl or soup pot with parsley, currents and herbs.

4. Add corn flakes and lemon and mix well (with your hands), adding salt and pepper to taste and adjusting herbs to your liking. Add eggs and mix well.

Normally, this is when you would stuff the above contents into the turkey, but we're going to cook it in a crock-pot, instead.

Add 1 cup of broth and cook on low in crock-pot for about an hour, adding more broth as needed. When it's done, you shouldn't be able to tell that it's made from corn flakes.

2. WWW's Vegetarian (Mushroom) Gravy

New recipe: Wendy's Mushroom Gravy

½ cup butter or olive oil (I used goat butter)

1 large onion, cut into chunks

1 pound flavorful mushrooms, such as crimini, sliced

½ cup flour

2 cups mushroom broth

2 cups water or vegetable broth

1 T Better than Bouillon mushroom base

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Preheat oven to 425. Put ¼ cup butter or oil in a large roasting pan and add onions, coating on all sides.

(Pictured: Onions in chunks, smothered with butter or oil.)

Turn oven down to 350 and roast until brown and around the edges, about 30 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are brown (about 10 more minutes).

Use flavorful mushrooms, such as crimini or shiitake.

When onions are brown around the edges, add mushrooms and brown.

When the mushrooms are done, put pan on stove and add rest of butter and melt over two medium flames.

Add flour to stir until you get a roux.

Cook over medium-high until the flour starts to brown, stirring constantly. Add the mushroom base and stir. Take off heat and add broth and water—a LITTLE at a time, stirring constantly so no lumps form.

At this point, you can transfer gravy into a pot. Cook stirring constantly until the gravy comes to a boil. Turn down and stir until thick. Add a few tablespoons of wine to taste if desired.

Makes 4 cups of gravy!

3. Helen Platis' Razzleberry Pie

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar (I used ½ cup)
5 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 Tbsp butter
2 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 400. Mix first 5 ingredients together and let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a 10-inch pie plate with one of the rolled piecrusts. Fill the pie with the filling and dot with butter. Roll the second piecrust and either cut into strips for lattice top or lay over pie, pinching together with the bottom crust.

Cut a few slits in the top of the crust if not using a lattice. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and pie is bubbly.

Cool and serve room temperature (or slightly warm).

4. Aunt Fay's Pecan Topped Sweet Potatoes

3 lbs sweet potatoes

2 eggs

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup butter (melted)

salt to taste

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

½ t nutmeg

½ cup orange juice

1 cup chopped pecans

Cut sweet potatoes in thirds and boil until tender. Drain water and cool potatoes, enough so you can peel them (the peel will slip off). Mash well.

Add ¼ cup of the brown sugar, orange juice and seasonings.

Beat eggs and add to potatoes.

Put into a 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and the rest of the sugar. Pour butter over the top. Cook for 30 minutes at 375, uncovered.

Note: I do steps 1 and 2 the day before. Then on Thanksgiving, I add the eggs and finish with step 4. I always double the recipe. You will have to cook them a little longer if the potatoes are cold.

5. Squash-Apple Soup with Thai Red Curry

NEW RECIPE:

Squash-Apple Soup with Thai Red Curry

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)

Peel before you split. Use a really sharp peeler, since the skin is tough.

1 apple, cored, peeled and diced

2 leeks, white part only, washed and sliced

Split leeks and clean in water, spreading the leaves apart as you clean to get out all the sand.

1 small carrot, peeled and sliced

½ stalk celery, finely chopped

1 T chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

4 cups basic vegetable stock (homemade or boxed)

2 cups water

1 T brown sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt or more to taste

thinly sliced chives

Thin strips of orange zest

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the squash, apple, leeks, carrot, celery and basil. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened; do not brown.

Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

Add the stock, water, brown sugar and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.

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Cool for 30 minutes, then, with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor, puree until absolutely smooth.

Reheat and taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. Serve very hot, with a sprinkling of chives and orange zest, if desired.

(Note: You can serve this soup in squash bowls. Choose small acorn squash or pumpkins, no more than 6 inches in diameter. Scrub the squash in cold water. Cut off the top quarter of the squash, saving it to use as a lid, and a small slice from the bottom, so the squash sits flat without wobbling. Scoop out the insides to create a cavity large enough to hold 8 ounces of soup. Brush inside and out with oil and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F, until shiny and lightly browned but still very firm. Use within 24 hours.)

6. Deborah Madison's Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

(Stuffed with quinoa, corn and feta cheese)

Ingredients

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well several times

3 T olive oil

1 bunch scallions, including 2 inches of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds

2 jalapeno chiles, finely diced, seeded (or for a less spicy alternative, Anaheims)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups, more or less, fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 3 ears of corn)

½ pound spinach leaves

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ lb feta cheese, cut into small cubes

4 yellow, orange, or red bell peppers

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon salt, then quinoa. Give it a stir, cover, and simmer over low until the grains are tender, about 15 minutes.

Warm half of the oil in a wide skillet. Add the scallions and chiles, cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, corn and spinach, along with 2 tablespoons of water.

(Pictured: Fresh corn off the cob, peppers, onions and cumin.)

When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, quinoa and feta. Toss everything together, taste for salt, and season with pepper.

Slice the peppers in half lengthwise without removing the tops or stems, then cut out the membranes and seeds.

Simmer them in salted water until tender to the touch of a knife but not overly soft, 4 to 5 minutes, and remove.

Fill them with the quinoa and set them in a large baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 400. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the peppers and bake the peppers until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes, then switch the heat to broil and brown the tops. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

7. Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce

1 ½ cups sugar

2 oranges

½ tsp FRESH grated ginger

4 cups fresh cranberries

½ cups toasted pecans (optional)

Grate the ginger and one orange peel, put in a pot with the sugar. Add the juice from the oranges and simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cranberries and cook until they all pop — about 5 minutes. Let them cool and then you can add the pecans. (It's good without the pecans, too.)

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What about you guys? Any vegetarians in the house? Any recipes that you and yours swear by for Thanksgiving? Link away! And happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Peace and love to all people, everywhere.

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