Holiday Sides I can't live without

Wednesday 16 November 2022


Turkey Dinner 

With every year that passes I am more determined to be able to cook my family the best Holiday/Thanksgiving dinner possible.  I am very much a traditionalist and there are some things that just make our holiday meals.  Things that are must haves, much beloved and cherished amongst us all.

When I was a child, we could always count on a few things for our holiday meals. One was a perfectly cooked bird, then my mother's stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, winter squash and gravy.

Mom was a simple cook and these things were just a matter of routine for her, which is not to say that everything was not delicious because it certainly was.  

Through the years I have developed my own ways of doing some things and my own favorites. With only one week to go before the American Thanksgiving celebration, I thought it would be fun today to share with you my Thanksgiving/Holiday Dinner must haves!  

Most of these things can be made well ahead of time and then reheated on the day!

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

Whether I am cooking a simple Turkey Crown or a whole Turkey, the turkey is the center of the meal, but I also like to surround it with fabulously delicious side dishes, from the rolls down to each of the vegetables being served on the side.

Many of these things can be made up ahead of time and simply reheated on the day.  Here are my favorite Holiday Sides! 

Sage and Onion Stuffing

SAGE AND ONION STUFFING - Whether it is cooked in the bird or in a dish on the side, no holiday meal would be complete without stuffing. In fact, I could happily eat a plate of this stuffing and nothing else.  It is essential, and not only with the meal, what would a turkey sandwich be without a nice layer of this stuffing added.  This Sage and Onion Stuffing is simple to make ahead of time and one of my absolute favorite go-with's!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

PERFECT CREAMY MASHED POTATOES - In the UK they love to have their roast potatoes with all of their holiday meals, but here in my home it has to be mashed potatoes.  Don't get me wrong, Classic Roast Potatoes are very nice, but nothing beats a pile of fluffy mash with a nice hollow scooped into the center to hold all of that delicious gravy!  My mother made the best mash. Her secret? She always grated a bit of raw onion into them.

Sauteed Rutabaga

SAUTEED RUTABAGA/SWEDE/TURNIPS -We grew up calling these turnips. In the UK they call them Swedes. In all truth, they are known as Rutabaga.  A rose by any other name and all that, for me, it simply would not be a proper turkey roast dinner without this beautiful vegetable. 

My mother used to simply boil and mash them, adding a bit of potato at the same time. Myself, I like to finely grate them and  then sauté them in butter.  I also add a bit of brown sugar to take away from any bitterness. These are very easily made ahead of time, and are fabulously tasty!  I learned how to do them from a Mennonite restaurant once upon a time. Delicious!

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

OVEN ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH - This is another dish that can be made well ahead of time and then simply reheated on the day. There is something about roasting root vegetables like this that really helps to enhance their natural sweetness.  If I am feeling particularly indulgent, I will add a bit of Maple Syrup.  Oh boy, some good.

Green Bean & Almond Casserole

GREEN BEAN & ALMOND CASSEROLE - I first tasted green bean casserole at my mother's cousin Polly's home in Vermont back in the 1960's. It was love at first bite and is something I have been carrying on a love affair with ever since!  This casserole recipe is particularly nice in that it boasts a homemade sauce and a crunchy almond topping. Again, you can make this up well ahead of time and reheat on the day.

Creamy Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

CREAMY PARMESAN BRUSSELS SPROUTS - Love them, or loathe them, its just not a holiday meal without some Brussels Sprouts to enjoy with your turkey!  I am from the love camp and this version is particularly yummy! These are quite simply fabulous.  Cooked only until crispy tender, so that they retain some of that beautiful nuttiness that is present in a perfectly cooked sprout.  And that sauce they are in is to die for. Best of all, everything cooks all in the one pan.  No fuss, no muss!

Old Fashioned Pull Aparts

OLD FASHIONED PULL APART DINNER ROLLS - Homemade Dinner Rolls tell everyone at the table that you love them enough to want to make them something really delicious from scratch.  Light and fluffy these are the best dinner rolls!  You can make them a week ahead and freeze them, wrapped tightly.  Simply thaw and reheat in a low oven on the day! 

Other than these must haves we will always, always have my sister's special baked Sweet Potato Casserole, homemade gravy (from the turkey drippings),  and of course cranberry sauce or chutney. If I am really on the ball I will make my own special cranberry chutney, or even homemade cranberry sauce, both of which can be made well ahead of time.  And yes, we will also have boiled carrots.  Because we love them. 

As you can see our holiday table will be groaning, but most of these things are very easily made ahead of time, leaving you only to cook the turkey on the day and perhaps make the gravy, boil the carrots. There is also plenty of leftovers to enjoy for turkey sandwiches on the night and of course on the following day!

And not a marshmallow in sight.

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  1. When we lived in London, we only had one burner to make meals so I made a lot of stews...but I could never find a turnip. The green grocer hated me at the best of times because I could only buy enough veg for a meal so he thought I was a nuisance. I used the English white/green turnip but it wasn't the same....about mid-winter, I finally saw a real purple turnip and was ecstatic! The greengrocer responded quite surly-like. "You stupid woman - that isn't a turnip! That is a **** swede. Thanks for these ideas... I'm headed to Sobeys this morning and I hope that I can bring home some brussel sprouts... (price dependent) - I'm going to try your recipe... I may even buy a turnip too!

    1. Some people are so rude! I am surprised that they get away with it. I am so sorry your green grocer in the UK was so nasty! I hope you are able to find some sprouts! I found some yesterday at my Independant store here in town and they are lovely! I hope you enjoy the recipe! xo


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