Spinach Madeline

This is a barely, updated version of a classic. Quite possibly my favorite casserole in all of the land, Thanksgiving or not. This recipe has been adapted from the classic Spinach Madeline in River Road Recipes from the Junior League of Baton Rouge, as well as a family friend’s recipe. I cannot have Thanksgiving without this, but would really appreciate having this several times a year.

Spinach Madeline

2 packages frozen Chopped Spinach

4 Tbs. Butter (1/2 stick)

2 Tbs. Flour

1 c. Onion, diced

8 oz. Pepper Jack Cheese

1/2 c. Evaporated Milk (old school, I know!)

1/2 c. Liquid Reserved from cooking spinach, aka vegetable liquor

Ground Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp. Celery Seed

1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

8 oz. can of chopped Water Chestnuts, drained and diced

Several dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce

Fried Onions for topping


Cook spinach, according to packaging.

Drain spinach and set aside while reserving 1/2 c. of “vegetable liquor.”

Chop onions, water chestnuts, cheese (into small cubes).

In medium size sauce pan melt butter, add flour, stirring until smooth. Add onions to this butter/flour combo; continue to stir and let onions soften (not brown). Add vegetable liquor and evaporated milk, slowly, stirring to thicken. Add cubes of cheese and all spices. Continue to stir. Add spinach and chopped water chestnuts.

Put mixture into 9×9 baker; best if this is made the day ahead to let season up overnight in the fridge.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350, adding fried onion topping after 15 minutes.

This can be doubled easily. It can also be made ahead and frozen.





Sweet Potato Casserole


When it comes to Thanksgiving, there is one thing that absolutely has to be included in our big meal:  sweet potato casserole.  This is basically an excuse to eat sweet potato pie topped with tons of marshmallows as a side dish.  Need I say more?  Marshmallows are a requirement, none of that pecan topping…  Okay that’s pretty good too, but we’re #teammarshmallow all the way!    I know it’s not a must for everyone, but after you try this recipe you’ll definitely be a convert.

Sweet Potato Casserole

4-5 Sweet Potatoes

1/4 c. Milk (we used Silk almond coconut blend, unsweetened)

1/4 c. Brown Sugar

2 Tbs. Butter (we used Earth Balance)

1 Egg

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt

2 c. Kraft Jet Puffed Mini Marshmallows (we are quite loyal to this specific brand and size)


Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small cubes

Boil in a medium to large pot of water for 15-20 minutes or until tender

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Let cool slightly, mash. We did this using a mixer, but a potato masher or immersion blender would work well too.

Combine all other ingredients – except marshmallows – and stir until slightly fluffy

 Place sweet potato combo in a 9×9, greased baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes, take out and add marshmallows

Bake for 10 more minutes.




Thanksgiving Tips

It’s the two week countdown to Thanksgiving. You can do it! These are our favorites tips for being ready for the main event.  

-Definitely delegate.  If the meal is at your house, you seriously can’t be making the bird, the sides, and the desserts so ask for help!  If you are going to someone else’s house to eat, offer to help by asking the host what you can bring.

-Shop early.  Everything that can be bought a week or so before the big day should be purchased now. For fresh ingredients go on the Monday or Tuesday the week of ,but only go early morning or late in the evening unless you are you ready to start bracing for the masses now.  You don’t want to spend the day before Thanksgiving rushing around with last minute grocery shopping. Shopping early also includes a trip to the liquor store–don’t forget this one until the day before because, just like the grocery stores, this will be packed. (Think in-laws, outlaws, screaming kids, etc. Everyone deals with this so there is really no question, liquor stores will be packed). Only save this if you want to give your husband/father/yourself an “escape” during the chaos. It will take at least an hour, but they will probably appreciate this errand.

-Set up your buffet early, not only to make sure you’ll have enough room for all of the plates and serving dishes, but also to make it a little easier for yourself as you transfer things from the oven. Using a combination of your serving pieces and post-it’s can be one of the most helpful things as far as Thanksgiving logistics go. Don’t forget your trivets for hot items.  


-If you have an allergy, be prepared.  Maybe you have a family who’s willing to go with a completely allergy-friendly spread, but if I could eat dairy and gluten, I definitely would, so I don’t want to deprive my family from them!  I like to be prepared by making my own dressing and gravy (it can be done! And we will show you how).  Ask your relatives and friends if sides are safe and make sure they actually know what they are talking about, and you’ll be set!

-Background music

No one likes a house that’s too quiet, weird lulls in conversation are much too apparent. We’ve made a Thanksgiving playlist that both you and your parents will appreciate i.e. no rap, some current songs, some oldies – your typical (but cooler) easy listening. This baby is 7 hours long so you can put it on in the morning while cooking, and it will last through the main event. Plus it’s not too Thanksgiving-y so start playing it now and you will enjoy it.

Press play. Enjoy.

Hope these little pointers help make your Thanksgiving as stress free as absolutely possible!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pine Nuts

This is a Thanksgiving side that I first made in 2010, and have made by request every year since.

They need to be made the day of Thanksgiving (which is sort of against everything we preach), BUT they can be served warm or room temperature which is helpful with the timing of everything.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pine Nuts

Serves 3-4 (should be at least doubled for a Thanksgiving side)


Brussels Sprouts, 1 lb

Pancetta – can substitute thick cut bacon, 3 Tbs (or 2 ounces)

Olive oil – 2 tsp

Sea Salt – 1/4 tsp

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Pine nuts – less than 1/4 cup

Granulated Sugar – 1 Tbs (optional but recommended)

Fresh Parmesan


Save yourself time and buy the pre-washed brussels sprouts and chopped pancetta.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Cut the brussels sprouts in half and remove any grey/brown bits

Combine top five ingredients together in a bowl

Place on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet, best if they don’t touch so they will roast instead of steam

Roast for 40 minutes, turning once.

While roasting, place pine nuts and sugar into a heated, dry skillet. Stir these constantly as they can burn in the blink of an eye. These will take 5 minutes max.

Once Brussels sprouts are done, put into serving dish and top with sugared pine nuts, freshly grated parmesan and ground black pepper.




Apple Cranberry Crumble

Any type of crumble or crisp is always very welcome in my family, but for Thanksgiving we always have to have this Apple Cranberry Crumble.  If you’re trying to be a little healthy, you can definitely serve this as a dessert.  But in my mind, Thanksgiving is no time for diets–this is a perfect side dish!


Fruit Filling:

-1 12oz package of cranberries

-2 medium Fuji apples, cut into small cubes

-1/2 c. white sugar (or less depending on the sweetness of your apples)

-2 Tbsp apple cider, apple juice, or water

Crumble Topping:

-1/2 c. oatmeal*

-2/3 c. all purpose flour*

-1/2 c. packed brown sugar

-1/2 stick of butter (4 Tbsp)*

-pinch of salt


Preheat your oven to 375°, and then combine your apples, cranberries, white sugar, and apple cider in 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Pop this in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fruit has softened slightly and the juices have thicken.

I like to use this time to make the crumble topping.  In a bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, salt, and butter.  Work this mixture with your fingers until clumps are forming and you can squeeze the mixture in your hands without it falling apart.

Next remove the dish from the oven and give it a stir before adding the crumble.  When you are putting the topping over the fruit, squeeze it slightly in your hands and then crumble that on the top.  These small “chunks” of the topping are what make the crumble so crumbly and delicious!

Bake all of this for about 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.  After removing from the oven, let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes before serving so that beautiful fruit mixture has cooled slightly.  Far too many times I have forgotten this step and eagerly taken a bite only to scorch my tongue…It was totally worth it though because this stuff is delicious!





*If you want to make this gluten and dairy free, just substitute the oatmeal and flour for gluten free versions and the butter for Earth Balance.  This is just as wonderful!