Blissfully Delicious

Since I have shared a classic roast turkey earlier this week, I would love to share some of my favorite side dishes that I hope can give you some inspirations as you’re making your menu for the holiday. Over the years, I’ve managed to find recipes of the classic Thanksgiving dishes that I love to make, and pleases everyone. Some of them have been a flop, but there have been some pretty good ones. Ideally, they can also be prepared ahead, to give me more time on the big-day for other dishes, or spending time with the family. Here are some of the ones that I think would be great to make for Thanksgiving, or any holidays, that I’m specifically looking forward to make and eat myself!

Easy Sweet Potato
Easy Sweet Potatoes – This is one dish that I must have every year on Thanksgiving. It’s so easy to put together, and you can tweak the flavor adds on pretty much to adjust to your taste, and can be made ahead (just add the marshmallows before you bake them). Everyone at our house pretty much loves the toasted marshmallows as the topping, but you can also make it a little “healthier” if you want to add some streusel-type topping with roasted pecans and brown sugar. But I will never skip an opportunity to eat marshmallows for dinner :)

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes – this one, while so delicious, takes a little extra time. If I have extra help in the kitchen during the holiday, this is the recipe that I’d probably go to and make. The roasted garlic lends such a beautiful, sweet and smoky flavors into the mashed potatoes that give it just an extra special feeling to it.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes – now this is what I normally make when I’m low on time. I always have buttermilk ready in the refrigerator during long weekends and holiday, and it’s a lot quicker to make. But it’s so perfect, creamy and basically the bowl that you know will satisfy any palette.

bread stuffing

Herbed Bread Stuffing – I’ve tried several different stuffing recipes over the year, but this one takes the cake. It has very simple ingredients, but yet it’s the very reason that it’s a favorite because you can taste each flavor profile in the dish: the breads, the crunchy celery bits, and all of the aromatic that blends everything together. I have not made this ahead of time, so I can’t speak to how well this will be if it’s prepared the night before. The only concern that I have would be the bread texture, it may get soggy being left overnight in the casserole dish.

slow cooker carrot 2
Slow-cooker Orange Glazed Carrots – the oven gets super crowded during the holiday, doesn’t it? Every single time I have moved houses, I always hope that it will come with a double-oven. But here I am, living in my fourth house now, but still no double oven. That’s when a slow cooker comes in handy! But, I didn’t even think about preparing the carrots in slow-cooker until I tried this recipe. Seriously, the best idea ever!

Soft Garlic Knots – Mike and I have a seriously soft spot for homemade rolls and bread.  Some time, we’d make a weekend project just to make a homemade bread, or rolls. This is another thing that I definitely make that if I have extra help in the kitchen: I’d definitely make some sort of homemade rolls for my bread basket. I’m still looking for a reliable homemade bread recipe that I can make a few days ahead so I don’t have to stay up until 2AM the morning before Thanksgiving so that I can get delicious homemade rolls.

No Knead-Harvest Bread – who doesn’t love a soft bread with crusty interior, and tons of bits of cranberries and walnuts? This bread is another one that’s great to have for Thanksgiving dinner because if you can’t finish them all, they’d make a great Turkey Sandwich or Turkey Panini.

Holiday Cranberry Sauce

Slow Cooker Holiday Cranberry Sauce – what’s a holiday dinner without Cranberry Sauce? I loved how easy this is to put together, and can be used basically for anything. A little heaping of this sauce next to your sliced turkey, a topping for your French Toast or Pancakes, or as filling for your turkey sandwich the next day.

Finally, but not least, I have reached out to my fellow Iowa Bloggers and see what are their favorite side-dishes that they’re looking forward to make, and here are what they said:

Gluten-Free Stuffing – If you’re going to have a family member or a guest that needs a gluten free side dish, this is a great one to make. It also has pork in it, so I’m sure the meat-lover at your dinner table will rejoice.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Sauce – Amy offers another Gluten-Free option with this very simple Cranberry Sauce. THREE ingredients, how can you beat that?

Healthy Sweet Potato Gems –  if you’re looking for a Gluten-Free, Vegan and No-Added Sugar version of sweet potatoes, this is the one for you.

Scalloped Corn – mmm… I was really drooling when I saw this! Who doesn’t love corn?

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits – this is a great way to dress up your convenient tube biscuit from your grocery store!

Balsamic and Bacon Brussels Sprouts – Ally is a girl after my own heart! I have made a dish similar to this, minus the bacon, every single time I make steak at home. The balsamic vinegar just does wonder to these beautiful gems.

Corn Bread Casserole – Ally offers another dish that I know that I’d love to have on my dinner table. Who doesn’t want to scoop into a big spoon of this casserole?

Scalloped Corns– Stephanie is looking forward to make this corn casserole dish. I love the extra crunchy topping :)

Simple Farmhouse Bread – This a is a great addition to any breakfast, lunch or dinner menu! Just imagine a thick slice of this freshly baked bread with salted butter. Anytime that Cristen wants to bring me a loaf of this bread, I’d be happy to take one off her hands!

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes – Cristen is also looking forward to make this simple buttermilk mashed potatoes. Her version uses sour cream; but seriously – great minds think alike!!

Roasted Vegetables – You really can’t go wrong with roasting vegetables. You can basically use whatever winter vegetables you can find, as long as you cut them in similar sizes.  Jenny here loves mixing sweet potatoes with regular potatoes and onions. Simple is best.

Mulled Wine – Allison has posted about this beautiful wine! Ah, mulled spiced wine! Who doesn’t want to drink this by the fire as the Thanksgiving craziness winds down? I’m thinking that I’d need to make a batch after our kids go to bed, if that is, they ever go to bed :) This is also a great one to serve and enjoy during Christmas tree trimming party.

Additionally, since we’re still on Thanksgiving spirit, the Iowa Turkey Federation has provided a free Thanksgiving cookbook. Check out their website so you can download your version for FREE!

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roast turkey

Whenever the holiday season is here, I get both excited but also a little conflicted and even a little sad. I’m excited about having some time off from work and get to spend more time with my hubby and kids at home. At the same time though, I wish that we had more extended families who live nearby that we can spend the holiday with.  Basically, all holidays except Christmas,  we only get a long weekend, which means that if I want to do anything special, I have to take extra days off. Thanksgiving for example, is the only holiday that we get two days, but it’s still hard to justify a 10+ hour drive (more like 13+ with kids) or an all-day long trip for flying with two kids in tow, because that means that we will spend two days in transit.  Mike and I finally decided that we aren’t going to put ourselves through the stress of trying to “see everyone”. If it works then it works, but if it doesn’t – we also love staying with our kids and actually relax during the extended holiday weekend.

roast turkey 2

Since there are only four of us, we normally don’t get to roast Turkey every year, but when we do, I always try to do it very simple. I have probably only cooked turkey a handful of times in my life; and while it gets intimidating, it is not as daunting as it looks.  The brining method seems to be the least the amount of work that produces consistent juicy meat, while roasting it in a high temperature oven makes sure that you get that crispy skin. I also try to keep the birds as small as possible; so an 18-lb turkey is probably the biggest that I’d probably make, although my ideal weight would be 14-16 lbs. I don’t care how many delicious side dishes that you have, bringing a whole bird out of the oven always generates a pretty impressive entrance to a Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, not but at least, make sure that you have a serving plate ready to be used, so visually check how big your bird is, and make sure that you’re prepared to have a plate before the actual bird comes out of the oven. I have a good collection of serving plate, and that one that I have used above pretty much just fits the turkey, I don’t even think that anything else will fit in that large platter :)

cran and orange oatmeal 2

My husband was out of the country for the week this past week; and I’m exhausted. Like dead exhausted!  I told my co-workers last week that if they don’t see me this week, that’s probably why. We’re lucky that our jobs don’t require a lot of travel; but in occasion, we’ll have to be out of town for a day or two here and there, and that’s not a big deal. But, out of the country for a week is a new event for the kids, especially for our little one. First, they were confused of where he went all week, and I was just tired of being the only one in the house.  Both my kids had low-grade fever for a short period of time here and there, and I feel like my body is fighting off some sore throat or impending cold. I’m happy that he’s back home now, and we are back to our normal life for the weekend.

cran and orange oatmeal

Before he left for the airport last Sunday, I needed something quick for breakfast, and I made this.  It was creamy, and so bright with cranberries and orange flavors. My husband wasn’t a big oatmeal fan until he met me; but I really like them – so I started making them at home. My daughter ate them for a while, and I was hoping that my son would eat this. But he didn’t. I love the use of dried fruits and jam in this oatmeal, so you can take this as a base and really adjust the flavoring to your liking. I personally love cranberries and orange, and thought that this was a fitting pairing for the season. I doubled the recipe and kept them in the refrigerator for the week – and it was oh so good. I think I’ll be making this again soon even if it’s just for me.

fresh apple scone 2 One of my favorite things about fall is that it gives me a permission to bake. After all, the days are getting shorter, the nights are longer… and it’s so cold outside. And… seriously, it is the baking season right? I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and preparing meals, but it has been a pretty long time since I had baked something new for breakfast at home. The kids are getting older, and my youngest started to really enjoy doing a lot more things. So now our weekends are getting busier with activities that that I ended up going with the easy route: toasts with jelly or Nutella, quick fried eggs and bacons, or cereals for the kids. Instead of focusing on breakfasts on the weekend mornings, I have shifted my focus now on spending more time and effort on my Sunday dinners. It gives me more time to prepare for my menu and then get the groceries – and then I have a little bit more time to prepare the meal.

fresh apple scone 3
Everyone loves eating fresh apples, so we’ve been soaking up the apple season, and we always have fresh apples at home. I thought that I’d make this scone using fresh apples that I already have with lots of cinnamon flavor and bits. This scone screams fall: it has crispy dough layers with tender apple bits, soft melted cinnamon chips (or you can also use butterscotch), and chock-full of cinnamon. This is the kind of scone that you want baking every day in the fall; or even just smelling it to remind you that fall is here. While these scones were best eaten the day it’s baked, I packed them for work and enjoyed them days after that. I warmed them up quickly in a microwave, which wasn’t ideal, but it turns soft like an apple cake. Ideally, toasting them would bring back the crispy skin on the scones, but I loved them even when it’s soft. Have a great Sunday everyone!

Easy Sweet Potato Are you guys ready for Thanksgiving? We’re officially in the Thanksgiving season, right? We’re done with Halloween, so I think we can now proceed with planning for Thanksgiving menu. While I’m not rushing November or even Thanksgiving by any means, the thought of having Christmas break definitely gets me pretty pumped and excited. One of the reasons that I absolutely love fall produce is because I just loooove sweet potatoes. I always try to incorporate them into our menu whenever possible. As much I love them though, I have never made them into a casserole. And what Thanksgiving meal without a sweet potato casserole, right? So here you go. A few years ago, my sister mentioned that she makes her own casserole, and it’s really easy. She didn’t even use a recipe. I was like, seriously? You need to hook me up. While she didn’t even have a recipe, I just kind of watched her put her dish together, and this recipe below was really inspired by her.

Easy Sweet Potato 2

I wanted something pretty simple, so this recipe is a great place for you to start. If you want to get fancy, you can really modify this recipe to your heart’s desire. You want more spices? Feel free to mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon. You want less sugar, sure, you can use a little less. You don’t like pecans? You can omit them or replace them with other nuts you love. You can even skip the marshmallows and do some sort of oat-based streusels with tons of spices and sugar. At our house, the more marshmallows the better. So as you can see in the picture, I load them up – this tastes too good to be a side dish. I consider this a dessert :)