Christmas is around the corner, but let’s not forget about another food-centered holiday: Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. Spending time with family around the table, laughing and eating, making new memories and reliving the old; feeling grateful for everything we have. That to me is the spirit of Thanksgiving.
This year looks very different: Most of us will spend this time separated from our loved ones, and many of us may be feeling the loss of a family member or friend. It’s been a very difficult time, and it can be harder to cope with change especially around the holidays. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing tips, recipes, and more to help make the holidays feel extra special – and hopefully bring a little light into your life.
Classic holiday recipes are classics for a reason – we find ourselves reaching for them year after year, and often times they are passed down in families from generation to generation. Today, I want to share with you four festive side dishes that you can make this year.
Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
Are you wondering how to roast carrots the best way? While glazed carrots are usually made on the stovetop, roasting them brings forth the natural sweetness and flavors that carrots offer. Tossed in sweet brown sugar and oven roasted, these carrots develop gorgeous, caramelized edges, and are the perfect side for your holiday meal.
1/4cupbrown sugar, loosely packedCan be substituted with honey or maple syrup; reduce down to 1 tbsp
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425F
Cut carrot on the diagonal into 4cm/1.75" lengths. Halve the thicker ends so they are all roughly the same width.
Toss in a bowl with the sugar, butter, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Pour onto a baking tray, and spread out evenly.
Roast for 15 minutes. Toss, then roast for another 10 minutes until soft and edges are caramelized.
Toss the carrots in the glaze, and sprinkle with parsley (if using). Serve warm.
For an extra special holiday touch, add 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to the glaze before you add the carrots.
The idea of mince pies might turn many people away. Oftentimes, “mince” usually refers to meat. Even if a mince pie didn’t actually contain meat, just the idea of it sounded less than appetizing to me growing up. While you can make a savory mince, I’ve learned that there are many types of mince pies that don’t contain any meat – like these delicious, sweet fruit mince pies!
These little holiday pies have a rich, fruit mince pie filling full of raisins and currents, apples, lemon and orange zest, pecans, and fragrant spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The crusts are buttery and flaky and melt in your mouth – the perfect mini side for your holiday meal!
Combine all of the mince ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir. Store in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to bake.
For the Shortcrust
Sift together the flour and salt.
Cut butter into cubes, then rub into the flour until its small crumbs.
Stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks to make the dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
For the Pies
Preheat the oven to 400F. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of the dough. Save the scraps.
Press the dough into a muffin tin. Prick the bottom of the dough a few times with a fork.
Fill the pies with mince, about 3/4 of the way full.
Re-roll the dough and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes to place on the tops of your pies. Then, sprinkle sugar over the top.
Bake for 18-22 minutes at 400F. Keep an eye on them so they don't get too brown. Let cool on a wire rack, and serve.
Marshmallow-Free Sweet Potato Casserole
This recipe has been in my family for generations, so without question it’s the best sweet potato casserole I’ve ever had! Completely unbiased, of course! Haha. But seriously, this marshmallow-free casserole is to die for. A sweet blend of chopped pecans and crumbled brown sugar lends a toasty, delicious crunch in contrast to the velvety sweet potatoes, making it perfect for fall.
Peel the sweet potatoes, cube, and boil until fully cooked. Mash and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease one 2 Quart casserole dish. Set aside.
Blend together the sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, orange juice, vanilla extract, white sugar, salt, butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pour into the casserole dish and spread into an even layer.
Prepare the topping. Melt the butter and mix with packed brown sugar, all-purpose flour, and chopped pecans. Sprinkle over the casserole.
Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm.
Potatoes Au Gratin
Made with russet potatoes in a seasoned parmesan sauce, potatoes au gratin are crispy, buttery, and cheesy. Baking the potatoes in a casserole dish allows the potatoes to brown in the cheese sauce and develop beautiful, crispy edges. Top with sour cream, chopped chives or scallions, or let them shine on their own. This dish can be prepared ahead of time by prepping the potatoes and assembling them in the casserole dish with the cheese sauce. Instead of baking, wrap the dish tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and refrigerate for up to two days. You may also freeze the prepped dish for several months. Just defrost it in the refrigerator the day before you want to bake it.
Pro-Tip: make sure you slice your potatoes thinly, and all the same size. This is crucial, because potatoes that are too thick won’t cook all the way through. To make this easier, use a mandolin, which slices them evenly and quickly.