These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Who doesn’t love a green bean casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onion rings? We all grew up with some version of cream-drowned green beans at Thanksgiving. We love the old recipes because they remind us of family, happy times and traditions. Growing up, our family had a large Thanksgiving Day meal. Mama cooked for days, we scarfed it all up in less than twenty minutes, and then Mama washed dishes for days. She was a kitchen saint. These days, Vince and I celebrate Thanksgiving with some of our dearest friends. The hosts prepare the turkeys and ham and all I have to do is take a “dish.” My contribution to our annual feast last year was a pineapple casserole made from one of my Aunt Marjorie’s recipes. Easy, delicious and loaded with calories, it was the hit of the evening. This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. Most are from Thanksgivings long past and have been handed down from Mama, one of my aunts, or one the dear ladies from First Presbyterian Church who loved to share their family recipes with me when I used to work there. These recipes are all special to me for one reason or another. I hope you’ll enjoy them. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberries and Apples
3½ cups fresh cranberries
3 large Granny Smith apples
¼ cup oats
1¼ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread cranberries in bottom of dish. Slice apples. Do not peel. Top cranberries with apple slices. In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, and flour. Sprinkle over fruit. Toss pecans in melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over fruit and topping. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes. Serves 10 to 12.

Tomatoes Provencal
4 slices bacon, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
5 medium tomatoes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon butter
Fry bacon in a medium skillet until crisp; remove bacon, reserving drippings in skillet. Drain bacon and set aside. Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in skillet until tender. Stir in bacon, flour, and seasoned salt. Cut tomatoes into ½-inch slices. Place ½ of slices in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Spoon ½ of bacon mixture over tomatoes; sprinkle with 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Spinach and Artichokes
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon seasoning salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 (8-ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish. In bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth. Reduce speed to low, beat in spinach, butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper, seasoning salt, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. Stir in water chestnuts. Arrange artichokes on bottom of baking dish. Pour spinach mixture over artichokes. Cover with foil. Cut several slits in the foil to vent. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown about 15 minutes more. Serves 12.

Country Club Squash
2 pounds yellow squash
¼ cup chopped onion
1 (10½-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup dry bread crumbs
⅓ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ teaspoon paprika
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Wash squash. Cook with onion in water until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain. Combine soup with sour cream. Stir in shredded carrot. Fold in drained squash and onion. Season with basil, salt, and pepper. Pour into a greased baking dish. Combine bread crumbs with cheese, butter, and paprika. Sprinkle over squash mixture. Top with crumbled bacon. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
6 medium-sized sweet potatoes, unpeeled (4 pounds)
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
⅓ cup orange juice
¼ cup bourbon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ cup chopped pecans
Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water to cover 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. Let cool to touch; peel and mash potatoes. Combine sweet potatoes, butter, and next five ingredients; mash until blended. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 1½-quart baking dish. Sprinkle chopped pecans around edge of dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 8.

Pineapple Au Gratin
2 (20-ounce) cans chunk pineapple. drained
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (sharp or medium)
1 stick butter, melted
1 roll butter flavored crackers, crushed
Combine pineapple, flour, sugar, and Cheddar cheese in a medium bowl. Spread in lightly greased casserole dish. Combine crushed crackers with melted butter. Spread evenly over the pineapple-cheese mixture. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees, for 25 to 35 minutes. Serves 8-12.

Italian New Potatoes
12-15 new potatoes, cut in half
1 package Italian dressing mix, dry
1 stick butter, melted
Combine melted butter with dressing mix. Place potatoes in a casserole dish. Pour butter mixture over potatoes, tossing to coat well. Cover. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Serves 4 to 6.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Gold Medal Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at