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We Love Food: FIPS' Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes and Desserts!

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Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, everyone! Whether you're cooking an entire dinner for 12, or just contributing a casserole to your Aunt Merna's kitchen table (have you ever actually met someone with an Aunt Merna?), FiPS has got you covered. Here's a round-up of our go-to Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts:


This is a bastardization of a tart that appears in the USA Cookbook, but I make it as a pie. I'm not going to try to teach FiPS readers to make a pie crust.  If you're really that lazy, you should just buy a pre-rolled crust.  But keep in mind that they're made with hydrogenated lard, so you're going to have to lie to any vegetarians who show up on T-Day.


Pie Filling 
  • 4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced (Use D'Anjou or Bosc--my preferences)
  • 1 1/4 cups whole cranberries 
  • 2 tablespoons crystalized ginger
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Crumble Topping
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Put your crust in a pie pan, press it into the sides, and prick with a fork all over, line with parchment paper and pieweights or dried beans and bake the pie shell for 20 minutes.
3.  In a bowl, toss the pear slices, sugar, cranberries, flour and ginger.
4.  Put the mixture in the shell, making sure to distribute the cranberries evenly.
5.  Make the crumble topping.  Put the sugar, butter and flour in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until you get crumbs.  Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the tart.
6.  Bake it for an hour, until the topping is a nice golden brown.



Look: my cooking repertoire pretty much includes scrambled eggs, grilled cheese on the George Foreman grill and heating up Weight Watchers Smart One meals. However, if I *was* making Thanksgiving dinner in some alternate universe, I would totally  make these Crash Hot Potatoes from the Pioneer Woman. First of all, they look like they're easy as shit to make. Second of all, they are a nice alternative to boring ole mashed potatoes (be original, ppl!). And third of all, you get to smash them really hard, all the while dreaming of punching [insert annoying family member's name] directly in their face. Total win/win.  


  • New Potatoes (or other small, round potato) -- as many as you like
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Whatever herb you like (Rosemary is great)

Begin by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make, and cook them until they’re fork-tender. Next, generously drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan. This will mean the difference between the potatoes sticking and not sticking, so don’t be shy here. When the potatoes are tender, place them on the cookie sheet, giving them plenty of room to spread out. Next, grab your potato masher and gently press down on the potato until it slightly mashes. Then rotate the masher 90 degrees and finish flattening it. Of course, you don’t want to absolutely smash it into the pan—you want it almost to resemble a cookie. Repeat until all are flattened. And really, I don’t know why you couldn’t use the bottom of a glass for this step if you don’t have a potato masher. The surface might not be as textured and interesting, but I think it still might work. Next, brush the tops rather generously with olive oil. Next, grab some Kosher salt. You can use regular salt, but I’d really recommend using kosher. It adheres to the potatoes more easily and really flavors them nicely without getting too salty. Be ye ever as generous with fresh ground black pepper. Whatever herb you use, just chop it pretty finely and sprinkle over the top. Now throw them onto the top rack of a very hot (450-degree) oven, and cook them for 20-25 minutes…Or until they’re golden and crispy and sizzling.


Thanksgiving at my parents' house always consists of two different kinds of cranberry sauces: one straight from the can that makes that great "THWAP" sound when it plops into a bowl, and a homemade, slightly more complicated cranberry sauce. For the latter, my go-to is Paula Deen's "Wayne's Cranberry Sauce" recipe. And yeah, I'm aware that Paula Deen will PROBABLY give us all heart attacks since most of her recipes are made up of 90% BUTTER Y'ALL, but fear not: this one has not a single lick of butter. It has booze, which is better.


  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag fresh cranberries 
  • 1 cup chopped apple 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup raisins 
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier 
  • 1/2 orange, juiced 
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated


Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid simmers. Add the apples, walnuts, raisins, Grand Marnier, orange and lemon juices, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.

Serve in a side bowl with turkey or any preferred holiday dish.


crostata is a rustic Italian tart. This delicious apple variation is best served with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream. I make this nearly every Thanksgiving.


  • 1 pounds Cortland apples (or your favorite)
  • 1/2 pound McIntosh apples
  • 1/2 of 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 of 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Frozen pie crust
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Rind of 1/2 medium orange, finely grated
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 large egg, beaten well
  • 2 tablespoons coarse or regular granulated sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and core apples, slice them 1/8 inch thick, and transfer to a clean bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set apples in one bowl and sugar mixture in another; add flour to sugar mixture. Place mascarpone cheese in a third mixing bowl; stir in the grated orange rind and mix well.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a circle approximately 1/8 inch thick. Place dough on a non-stick cookie sheet, or line a regular cookie sheet with parchment paper. Neatly layer half the apple slices on the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-1/2 to 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle all the cranberries over the apples. Sprinkle half the sugar-and-spice mixture over this, then dot with teaspoon-sized dollops of the mascarpone mixture. Top with remaining apple slices and sprinkle with remaining sugar-and-spice mixture.

Fold sides of dough up and over the edge of the filling. Brush dough with egg, and sprinkle dough and filling with 2 tablespoons sugar. Place an additional baking sheet underneath to catch any drips. Bake 10 minutes; lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake 20 minutes longer. Remove from oven when golden brown; cool 20 minutes. 

*Note: I bake this in a greased glass pie dish before and it worked well. It holds its shape very nicely for presentation. Also, don't forget to face all the apple slices in the same direction.

KIM: Green Bean Casserole

  • 2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 2 2/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions
 1. Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 1 1/3 cups onions in a 3-quart casserole.
2. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir the bean mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

CHINAE: Brussels Sprouts (though mine should be called "bacon sprouts")


  • Brussel sprouts (duh)
  • Butter- ½ stick
  • Bacon- 6 pieces
  • Onion-Diced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Cut those lil brussel babies in half…this speeds the cooking time (along with being bratty, I’m also impatient), and also allows the delicious bacon and butter flavor to absorb into that little nugget.

2. In a pan, cook your bacon up, eat one piece bc you know you can’t wait. After it’s cooked and crispy, take it out of the pan, pour out 80% of the bacon grease, leaving a little bit of grease and that delicious bacon residue on the pan.

3. Add onions and butter to the pan and cook until your onions appear translucent, but not brown.

4. Add your B. Sprouts into the mix along with the bacon (crumbled).

5. Sauté for about 7-8 minutes or until they look cooked through.

Making this for group functions is pretty much how I make friends these days…so enjoy your newfound facebook popularity after bringing this recipe to your next dinner party/biker rally/speed dating event!


And don't forget to check out our recommendations for Thanksgiving vegetarian main courses!

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