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copyright ©1999-2006

choosing sides three easy Thanksgiving side dishes
by Yee-Fan Sun 
| 1 2
continued from page 1

maple mashed sweet potatoes
Iíve never understood the traditional sweet potato casserole, in which perfectly lovely sweet potatoes are smothered in a sticky mess of marshmallow goo. Sweet potatoes are so good on their own that I think theyíre really best served without a lot of fuss -- as in this recipe, which relies on some milk and butter to smooth out the mash, and a drizzle of maple syrup to accent the vegetablesí natural flavor.

3 lbs. sweet potatoes, or about 3 big ones (get an orange-fleshed variety; you can lightly scrape a bit of the skin with your nail to check)
1/4 cup milk, half-and-half or cream
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 Tbsp. real maple syrup
salt to taste

serves 6 as a side

1 Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and scrub the potatoes clean, then prick each one a few times with a fork. Toss onto a foil-lined baking pan, and bake for about an hour (or longer, depending upon how fat your potatoes are), until very tender.
2 Insert the tip of a paring knife just below the skin and peel off all the skin (yes; itís hot Ö you can let the potatoes cool a bit if you like, or just work quickly). Place the peeled potatoes in a big bowl or pot.
3 Mash with the butter using a potato masher, then switch to a fork or wooden spoon and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add salt to taste. You can make these ahead of time, and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

creamed spinach
Diet-friendly itís not, but this creamy-rich spinach dish will turn even the most avowed greens-hater into a fan. As creamed spinach isnít the prettiest food in the world, try sprinkling some crushed cashews on top to make it more presentable at the Thanksgiving table.

2 ten-oz. packages of frozen chopped spinach
1 cup cream
¼ cup milk
1 cup finely minced onion, preferably sweet onion like Vidalia or Spanish (about ¼ of a very large onion)
2 fat cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. butter
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

serves 6 as a side

1 Cook up the spinach according to the package directions and drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Use the back of spoon to press out the water, then spread out the spinach into a thinnish layer. Let cool. Press out the water some more to drain it as well as you possibly can.
2 Mince up the garlic and onion and finely as you can.
3 In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft.
4 Pour in the cream and milk, then bring the heat down to med-low. Cook for about 5 minutes or so, until steaming-hot and gently bubbling.
5 Stir in the spinach, along with a pinch of nutmeg; bring heat down to low. Let the whole thing simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until you have a creamy-soft spinach mixture (about 10-15 minutes). If the mixture starts to seem too dry as it cooks, add some more milk.You can make this ahead of time, and reheat on the stove over a low heat, stirring frequently and adding a splash more milk if the mixture dries out, until warmed through.


check out these related articles:
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easy as pie
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