Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes You Can Make Ahead of Time (and Your Family Will Love)
Thanksgiving is a meal of traditions: certain foods just have to be on the table.
But if you’re like me, then each year you search for a new dish that can become the new tradition.
Or, you’re searching for the dish that just makes the whole meal easier to prepare.
This month, I’m sharing with you 3 easy-to-make dishes that you can prepare a few days in advance of Thanksgiving.
Spending less time cooking on Thanksgiving Day lets you spend more time with your family. (Of course, if you prefer the cooking to your family, you can always make these the day of!)
Roasted Root Vegetables with Rosemary
Let’s start off with a super healthy recipe. It’ll make the decadent ones later more justifiable…
This dish is filled with fall colors and loads of antioxidants and vitamins. It is also super easy to prepare and can be cooked 3 days ahead of the big day. The prep involves some peeling and cutting and the seasoning involves just olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprig of rosemary.
Does it get any easier? No, actually, it doesn’t.
Peel and cut your favorite root vegetables, such as carrots, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes, red bliss potatoes (no peel option!), and beets. You can add turnips and rutabagas if you like, but my kids prefer more potatoes in the mix and my roasting pan is only so large.
The number of each vegetable is really up to you and the size of your roasting pan. If you’ve never peeled beets before, be aware that they “bleed” beet juice and can stain certain countertop surfaces, so you want to keep them on the cutting board.
The trick to even roasting is to try to cut the vegetables into roughly the same size chunks.
Toss the cut vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Add two sprigs of rosemary, if you like — I think this enriches the flavor of the entire dish.
Pour into a roasting pan and roast at 425° for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, test a beet with a fork. If it is still too firm, continue cooking for up to another 30 minutes. Use a big spoon to mix the vegetable around and re-coat with the olive oil.
Serve in a bowl or on a platter, as you prefer and enjoy!
(This recipe comes to us from thekitchn.com)
Mashed Potato Casserole
This is a rich, creamy dish that you are going to want to make all winter long because of how comforting it is.
I recommend resisting that impulse and saving it for special occasions like holidays, dinner parties, football games, weeknights, days that end in “y” — see how hard it is to resist!
Seriously, this dish is fast and easy and actually tastes even better if you make it a few days in advance.
3 lbs of russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 cup whole or 2% milk, with more as needed
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 medium shallots, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to liking
Put the potatoes into a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until potatoes are fork tender.
Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add the sour cream or yogurt and milk. Use a potato masher until they reach desired consistency — think chunk rather than smooth. If you don’t have a potato masher, an electric beater on low will do the trick. Add more milk as needed to keep the mixture moist.
Add salt, pepper, shallots and cheddar cheese. Stir until evenly mixed.
Transfer to a baking dish. At this point, you can either refrigerate until Thanksgiving or cook now.
If you refrigerate, let it come to room temperature before placing in the oven or transfer to a room temperature baking dish. Cook at 350° for approximately 30 minutes or until the casserole is warm throughout.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and place under the broiler until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Serve fresh from the oven and enjoy!
(This recipe comes to us from thekitchn.com)
Thanksgiving Mac and Cheese
What makes this mac and cheese a “Thanksgiving” mac and cheese? It’s made primarily on the stovetop, so you don’t lose precious oven space.
You don’t have to be Southern to like mac and cheese with your Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, that’s a thing down there…
While up north we prefer stuffing and dressing, mac and cheese make a great alternative particularly if you have picky child eaters or vegetarians joining you for Thanksgiving dinner.
This is a rich, flavorful mac and cheese recipe from Chef Erik Williams and his Chicago restaurant, Virtue.
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
2 lbs extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
4 oz full fat cream cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
Now, if you’re looking at the ingredients list and thinking, “That’s a lot of dairy,” well… yeah, it’s mac and cheese done right. This dish is a huge hit at the restaurant and it’s going to be one at your Thanksgiving table as well.
Here’s what you do:
Bring the evaporated milk and whole milk to barely a simmer in a large saucepan. Whisk in the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper, and salt. Whisk in three-fourths of the cheese in small batches until melted.
At the same time, bring a pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook the elbow macaroni until al dente, about 4 minute. Drain.
Add macaroni to the saucepan and stir until well coated. Transfer ½ the macaroni to a baking dish and sprinkle with ½ the remaining cheddar cheese. Layer the rest of the macaroni on top and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake in a 400° oven for just 10 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
(This recipe comes to us from epicurious.com)
NursePower Empowers Nurses
Okay, yes, the holidays can be stressful but do they really have to be? This holiday season we want all of our nurses to take the Unstress Pledge. It involves 3 simple ideas to embrace:
- We don’t need things to be perfect this year.
- Being with friends and family is what counts.
- We need to let ourselves be in the moment.
With all the craziness in our jobs, especially right now, we need to take care of ourselves and each other in the off-hours. That begins with making a simple pledge to remember what is truly important to us during this special season.