Three Thanksgiving Side Dishes For Your Family Table

With the biggest food holiday of the year just days away, I’ve got three side dishes to enliven your family feast. Each recipe offers something unique: 1) a family tradition, 2) a restaurant-inspired side dish and 3) an original. From sweet to savory, I’ve got you covered! Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving at home or traveling, cook up one of these Southern sides, and you’ll have everyone chowing down with gratitude.

Family Tradition
Let’s start with the notorious Pineapple Ritz Cracker Casserole. If you’ve never had it, this concoction may sound strange, but trust me when I tell you…this is pure buttery, sweet, cheesy goodness with a satisfying crunch. Would the Queen of Southern Cuisine ever let you down? That’s right, this is a Paula Deen recipe. I’ve made it nearly every year since I’ve been old enough to cook. And I simply couldn’t write a Thanksgiving post without including at least one casserole.

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In my family, serving Pineapple Ritz Cracker Casserole during the holidays is a family tradition. Photo credit: FoodNetwork.com

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks, drained, and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium-size casserole dish with butter. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. In another medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice, stirring with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Restaurant-Inspired 
You know a dish is memorable when you return one year later to the same restaurant and nothing new on the menu tempts you. My love affair with Cinnamon Acorn Squash began at Cherokee Grill circa 2014 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I ordered it on a whim, thinking I’d try something new, and my taste buds immediately surrendered to the fork-tender, warm interior of the yellow-orange flesh. Served with a dollop of cinnamon butter, it tastes exactly like fall looks. I’ve recreated it many times for dinner at home. Remember, if you plan to serve this dish for Thanksgiving, be sure you have room in the oven to cook it just before guests arrive.

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My favorite meal in Gatlinburg, Tennessee features Prosperity Steak with Worcestershire butter, Cinnamon Acorn Squash (top right) and a baked potato.

An acorn squash is a winter squash with a dark green shell. You can find it near the butternut squash in the produce section of the grocery store. To cook, simply cut the squash in half (or quarters) depending on the size of your squash. Then remove the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Place the squash on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together softened butter and cinnamon sugar. When the squash has finished roasting, serve with a dollop of cinnamon butter on top, and savor the flavor! Yes, Lord. AMEN!

Original
Isn’t it funny how your taste buds change as you get older? If you had told me that I would one day salivate over Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Bacon and Fresh Parmesan Cheese, I would have told you, you were crazy. And I would have eaten. my. words. Food Network’s Guy Fieri once said, “If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, that’s because you’ve eaten them when someone has boiled them.” He’s exactly right! Boiling anything is the most flavorless way to cook. The true flavor of this dish comes from the roasting…when the fat from the bacon marries with the tiny little seasoned cabbages. Sometimes, I will eat this dish alone for dinner, because my heart, body and soul long for nothing more. I had to borrow a photo from the internet to showcase the way these look, because each time I make them, I eat them before snapping a picture. They’re Some Kinda Good, y’all!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Bacon Photo Credit: Paleogrubs.com
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Bacon
Photo Credit: Paleogrubs.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts
  • 3 slices Smoked Bacon
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions
Spread Brussels sprouts in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Using a pair of clean scissors, clip small pieces of raw bacon over the seasoned Brussels sprouts. With clean hands, toss everything together to coat evenly. Roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. When the Brussels Sprouts are finished roasting, they should have a charred look. Shred large shards of fresh Parmesan cheese right over the top. Tip: These don’t travel well. The last thing you want is to place them in a casserole dish and cover them with a lid when they’re still hot. Condensation is no good! To avoid this, bake them on-site, or wait to cook them when you can enjoy their crispy, salty goodness at home.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Share them with me in the comments below! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Gobble, gobble!


New to Some Kinda Good?

Food Enthusiast Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser
Food Enthusiast Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser

Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the Statesboro Herald food columnist and host of the television program Statesboro Cooks. She appears regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and writes as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, her work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for Moms and Modern Women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.

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