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Side dishes complete the meal

If you are looking for some traditional recipes to prepare as side dishes for Thanksgiving, I’ve included a few you might want to try. I’m also including a few things that are new to my family, but may not be new to yours.

I hope you’ll consider the tastes of your family as you plan the big meal just a few weeks away. When you plan well, you will be the most loved member of the family when the day is done.

Buttermilk and Orange Mold

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained

1 (6 oz.) pkg. orange gelatin

2 cups buttermilk

8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup chopped nuts

In a saucepan, bring the pineapple and the juice to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Cool slightly and stir in the buttermilk. Chill just until partially set. Fold in the whipped topping and nuts. Pour the mixture into an 8 ½ cup mold and chill overnight.

This is one version of slow-cooker Brussels sprouts that I haven’t tried yet. Maybe this one would go well on the table this year.

Slow-Cooker Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. fresh sprouts

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Green onion slices

Wash sprouts and remove any woody or tough ends. Cut in half lengthwise and place in a slow cooker. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Top with the crumbled bacon. Cover and cook on high for two to three hours or on low for four to six hours. Top with green onions if desired.

For another version, this one is a little closer to the one I tried last year. I may just cut the recipe in half and make sure I have plenty for just myself.

Sweet Brussels Sprouts

2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, scrubbed and halved
5 smoked bacon slices, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, approximately 8 minutes. Carefully transfer bacon to paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings in the skillet. Add butter to skillet, now set over medium-high heat. Once melted, stir in brown sugar and cook 1 minute, or until sugar is melted and sauce slightly thickens. Add Brussels to pan, cooking 2-3 minutes undisturbed to create a caramelized crust. Stir and continue to cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper.

I went to a cooking demonstration several years ago and was shown how to make a butternut squash bisque. I had never had butternut squash before that night and I immediately fell in love with this bisque. It could have something to do with the fact that there was some heavy cream thrown in and a dollop of crème fresh was delicately laid on top of the dish. Anyway, I want to make this again and since I dug out the recipe, I thought I’d share.

Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 butternut squash

½ yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3 cups vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

½ cup heavy cream

Crème fresh, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds using a spoon. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place the squash, cut side down, on the sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil. Place in oven and roast for one to one and a half hours until the squash is fork tender. Remove and allow to cool. Once cool, scoop out the flesh of the squash. In a medium sauce pan, add the rest of the olive oil and heat over medium/high heat. Add the onions, carrots, salt, pepper and nutmeg and sauté until the onions are tender. Add in the squash and cook for an additional five minutes. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a low/medium and simmer until the carrots are tender. This will take eight to 10 minutes. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Return to the pot and add the cream. Heat until hot, but do not boil. Check for seasoning and add any additional salt, pepper or nutmeg to taste. Dip into serving bowl and garnish with a dollop of crème fresh or sour cream.

If you still want to use a root vegetable on your Thanksgiving table, carrots are a great choice. My mother-in-law and I were the only ones who insisted on a carrot and raisin salad for the holidays. Since she is gone now, I can’t bring myself to make it just for me.

This recipe may be one that your family will enjoy for the festive gathering.

Glazed Carrots

2 lbs. carrots

4 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Peel carrots and trip to desired length making sure that carrots are similar in size or cutting to be uniform in thickness. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add the carrots. Cook eight to 10 minutes or until carrots are tender and the butter is browned. The butter will begin to darken and develop a nutty flavor when cooked. Stir in the brown sugar and cook for a few more minutes until the butter and carrot juices begin to thicken and coat the carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

And finally, here’s a quick recipe for cranberry relish that is a new favorite of mine.

Cranberry Relish

12 oz. fresh cranberries

1 orange, with the peel

1 cup sugar

Slice the very root ends off the orange just until you see the flesh. Leave the rest of the skin in tact. Slice into 8 pieces. Put the cranberries, orange slices and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The relish is better if chilled overnight.