Spectacular Sides

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November 27, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

I realize that it is getting down to the wire, but if you are still searching for that perfect Thanksgiving dish to round out your meal, I’ve got you covered. Here’s the rundown of the rest of our Thanksgiving menu, but these are spectacular sides that could go with any holiday meal.

Spectacular Sides - Classic Stuffing, Creamed Spinach Gratin, Carrots Sautéed with Vodka & Grapes: A Broad Cooking

I love this recipe from Real Simple for Creamed Spinach Gratin. The only change I make is to sauté the shallots with a minced garlic clove and deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup of white wine before adding to the spinach and cheese mixture. It’s awesome!

Spectacular Sides - Classic Stuffing, Creamed Spinach Gratin, Carrots Sautéed with Vodka & Grapes: A Broad Cooking

I made these green beans a while back and knew they would be perfect for our Thanksgiving menu. They are reminiscent of classic green bean casserole (which for the record, I LOVE. I do not stray at all from the Campbell’s recipe when making that magically trashily delicious dish), but fresh and bright. The sherry vinegar adds the little bit of bite our menu is missing and they don’t compete with the creamy spinach.

Green Beans & Mushrooms with Sherry Vinegar: A Broad Cooking

My stuffing recipe is one that I have recreated from childhood memories. What makes it so perfect is the combo of white baguette and cornbread (I love the Jiffy mix! Over bake it slightly in an 8×8″ pan so that it is dry). This way you have the texture of a traditional white bread stuffing with all the flavor of the cornbread, which can sometimes get to crumbly and mushy. Here it is just before baking:

Caitlin's Classic Stuffing - Ready for the oven: A Broad Cooking


Plus the recipe uses the fat rendered from cooked bacon to sauté the onions and celery for the stuffing but only 2 very finely crumbled slices of the actual bacon. You know what this means… Bacon and eggs for breakfast on the biggest eating day of the year! Go ahead start your day right!


Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when you’re making stuffing. It’s the only way to make sure that your bread is properly moist.

Caitlin's Classic Stuffing - Get your hands dirty! A Broad Cooking

I’m not a fan of the overly sweet marshmallow topped sweet potatoes. So sue me. Instead I love a balance of spice and sweetness, with the nutty flavor of pecans and bright orange to top my mashed sweet potatoes.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Grand Marnier Glazed Pecans: A Broad Cooking

These stovetop glazed pecans are so easy to make and if you already have a sweet potato recipe you love, you can always make the pecans on their own as a perfect holiday gift or snack to serve with cocktails. Simmering them with brown sugar and Grand Marnier makes them extra special.

Grand Marnier Glazed Pecans: A Broad Cooking

Once you let the nuts cool on greased parchment paper, they are ready to top the mashed sweet potatoes. If you want to make this dish in advance, store the sweet potatoes and nuts separately then bake in a casserole dish for 20-30 minutes.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Grand Marnier Glazed Pecans: A Broad Cooking

Caitlin’s Classic Stuffing

Serves 8

6 slices bacon

2 small onions, diced

4 celery stalks, diced

½ Tbs poultry seasoning

1 8×8” cornbread, cubed

1 baguette, cubed and dried out over night(about 5 cups)

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Fry up the strips of bacon in a large pan. Reserve two of the bacon strips and don’t clean out the pan. (Enjoy the rest of the bacon for breakfast!)

Add the onions and celery to the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until softened. Mix in the poultry seasoning.

In a large bowl, mix the cornbread, baguette cubes, onion mixture, and two finely crumbled bacon strips.  Add the beaten egg and enough chicken broth to moisten the mixture through.

Place in a greased baking dish and cook until the top browns, about 25 minutes.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Grand Marnier Glazed Pecans

Serves 6

½ cup brown sugar

1 Tbs orange zest

½ tsp adobo chili powder

1 ½ Tbs Grand Marnier

1 ½ Tbs water

1 cup pecan halves

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 Tbs butter

1/3 cup cream

In a small saucepan, mix together brown sugar, orange zest, chili powder, Grand Marnier, and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium low heat and continue to stir until combined and sugar dissolves and syrup thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the pecans and continue to cook for 5 minutes until they are glazed.

Spread out on greased parchment paper and allow to cool.

Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and place back into the pot. Add butter and cream and mash. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mashed sweet potatoes into a casserole dish and top with pecans. Serve immediately or refrigerate and rewarm at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes.

Carrots Sautéed with Vodka & Grapes

Serves 6

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter, divided

1 lb baby carrots, halved lengthwise

1 Tbs sugar

2 Tbs vodka

1 ½ cups seedless red grapes, halved

½ cup toasted walnut pieces

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add carrots to the pan, toss with butter, and let caramelize by not stirring for 3 minutes. Toss and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to soften for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and season with salt and pepper. Return heat to medium-high and add the vodka and grapes. Cook for 2 minutes then toss with remaining tablespoon of butter and walnuts just before serving.


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