Tips for Rookie Cooks

side dishes

Sweet Potato “Pancake”

A new Thanksgiving classic. Substitute butternut squash for sweet potatoes or apples for pears, if you wish. Preheat the oven to 400° with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Melt the butter. Peel and thinly slice sweet potatoes. Peel, halve, core, and thinly slice the pear. Butter a 9-inch cake or pie pan. Arrange a layer of sliced sweet potatoes in the pan, overlapping them slightly in a neat pattern. Gently press the layer with your hands to flatten it slightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little melted butter. Top with half the pear slices, sprinkling them with 1 T. maple syrup and more butter. Add a layer of sweet potato, then the remaining pears then the remaining sweet potato, each time pressing gently and seasoning as directed. Drizzle top with the rest of the melted butter. Cover the dish with foil and then cover with a lid. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove lid and foil and bake until lightly golden and tender, about 25 minutes more. If you’d like to glaze the pancake further, place the pan directly on the floor of the oven for about 5 minutes (watch carefully to prevent over-browning). Remove pan from the oven and cool for about 6 minutes. Carefully invert the pan onto a large round platter and let the pancake settle. Remove the baking pan carefully. Serve hot, cut into wedges. To prepare in advance, cover the pancake with foil, then reheat. Serves 8.

• 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
• 5 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound 10 ounces)
• 3 firms, ripe pears
• salt and white pepper (to taste)
• 3 T. maple syrup

Cornbread Sausage and Stuffing

Makes 2 quarts (enough for a 10-12 pound turkey).
Saute sausage slowly, breaking it up with a fork, until lightly browned and thoroughly cooked. Transfer to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Drain all but 2/4 cup drippings from the skillet. Add onion and celery. Saute until golden. Add to sausage with remaining ingredients and toss lightly. (This can be doubled.) If not stuffing a bird, put in a casserole. Cover and bake at 325º for 45 – 60 minutes. Baste with turkey drippings or broth frequently to blend juices and prevent sticking.

• 1 1/2 lbs. sausage meat
• 1 c. minced onion
• 1 c. minced celery
• 1 16-oz. pkg. Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing
• 1/2 t. sage
• 1/2 t. thyme
• 1 t. Bell’s seasoning
• 1/4 t. pepper
• 1 c. melted butter

Broccoli Casserole

Cook broccoli for 5 minutes and drain. Mix remaining ingredients cracker crumbs and paprika. Add broccoli and spoon into a casserole dish. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cracker crumbs and paprika on as a topping.

• 2 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli
• 1 c. mushroom soup, undiluted
• 1/2 c. mayonnaise
• 1 t. finely chopped onion
• 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
• 2 eggs, beaten
• cracker crumbs
• paprika

Zucchini Casserole

Grate zucchini put in a colander, and sprinkle on 1 – 2 t. salt (this will cause zucchini to ooze its liquid). Meanwhile, saute sliced onions in olive oil. Squeeze the zucchini dry (reserve some of this liquid) and add to onions. Continue to saute until both are tender. Add 2 – 3 T. flour. Stir in to cook the flour.
Add a bit of milk and some of the zucchini liquid if desired. Put in a casserole dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under broiler until cheese melts. Can be made ahead and reheated.

• 1 1/2 c. sliced onions
• 3 c. zucchini shredded
• 2 – 3 T. flour
• shredded cheddar cheese

Spinach Casserole

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook the spinach as per package directions and drain well. Lay hot, cooked spinach into an 8 x 10-inch baking dish. Spread bacon then sour cream over, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake 10 – 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

• 3 pkg. frozen spinach
• 8 slices bacon, diced and cooked
• 10 T. sour cream or plain yogurt
• 9 oz. mild cheddar cheese, grated

Venice (California) Apple Casserole

Mix all ingredients. Lay in an oiled 9 x 12-inch casserole. Cover. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Uncover for the last 5 minutes. Makes 8 – 10 servings.

• 6 green apples, washed, cored, and sliced
• 1 1/4 c. oatmeal
• 1 1/4 c. brown sugar
• 4 T. cooking oil
• nutmeg and cinnamon (a couple of dashes each)
• 1 c. crushed walnuts
• 1 c. raisins
• 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
• 3 eggs


Coarsely chop basil leaves into a food processor. One at a time, add garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, mixing after each addition. The mixture will be very thick. Continue mixing and slowly add olive oil until the mixture is the consistency of creamed butter. Pour pesto into a storage container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Cover tightly and refrigerate or freeze.

• 2 c. fresh basil leaves, washed thoroughly
• 2 – 4 cloves minced garlic
• 1/2 c. pine nuts
• 3/4 c. parmesan cheese
• 3/4 c. olive oil

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