How-To: Thanksgving Side Dishes

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How-To: Thanksgving Side Dishes

By April Bautista Garcia

I love fall! In fact, I have been called the “Queen of Fall”—a title which I proudly wear. Pumpkin spice lattes, apple spiced everything, cozy sweaters, adorable boots, colorful leaves, crisp foggy mornings, chilly autumn nights, fall festivals and—yes—Thanksgiving! This time of year comes with so many wonderful opportunities to share in family experiences and friendly gatherings.  So, in keeping with the spirit of the upcoming holidays, this “How-To” focuses on fall- themed recipes that come with a story.  Each recipe that I have shared is either a favorite that is always made for a specific family member or it is a special dish that a family member makes with me. These recipes have a special place in my heart. This year I pray they bless your table and inspire you to create your own family memories for the coming year. Happy Fall Y’all!

– April


My sister, Katie, is a lover of all things potato. Every year I serve two potato dishes– potatoes au’ gratin and mashed potatoes—because she loves potatoes so much! However, Katie’s love of potatoes did not start out that way. When my sister was about four years old, my grandma served potatoes au’ gratin. I remember how delicious they looked, but Katie was not so impressed. The problem was Katie heard someone talk about the dish and thought they said that we were having “Potatoes Au’ Rotten” for dinner. That dish Katie was unwilling to eat. Fortunately for you I will not be sharing how to make “Potatoes Au’ Rotten”. The recipe is my sister’s favorite version of potatoes au’ gratin.  It originally came from Ree Drummond’s food blog before she made it big on Food Network. I’ve just slightly tinkered with it to my liking. It is full of warm, cheesy potato goodness!


  • 4 whole Russet Potatoes, Scrubbed Clean (medium-sized potatoes are best)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
  • 1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-Half (the recipe calls for whole milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated (I usually add about ¼ of a cup more at the end to really add the cheesy effect. However, you might not like the extra richness it adds. Your choice).


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a baking dish. When preparing the potatoes, I encourage you to leave the skins on the potato. It gives the tater a rustic look and taste. Then slice the potatoes and cut the slices into fourths. In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Repeat this step two more times–ending with the cream mixture last. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and bubbling. Add the grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving by the spoonful.


This dish is a staple of Thanksgiving and my daughter Lilly loves it! She used to call it her “greeny-beany food.” So each year I make my Aunt Suzy’s famous green bean casserole for Lilly. This dish has been served for over twenty years at various holiday events and pot lucks. The bacon and soy sauce give the dish that extra little something that elevates it from your average holiday casserole.


  • 1 10.5 oz can of Cream of Mushroom Soup (preferably Campbell’s)
  • 3 14.5 oz cans of Green Beans (I prefer no salt added to the beans since the you are getting a large amount of sodium already in the recipe)
  • 1/2 pound of Bacon
  • 1tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 can of Fried Onion Rings


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a skillet, fry the bacon and place on a paper towel after cooking to allow bacon to cool. Once cooled, crumble bacon and combine it with the green beans, cream of mushroom of soup and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix the ingredients and then place in a medium baking dish. Bake for 15 mins.  Then top the dish with the onion rings and bake an additional 7-10 mins, depending on how quickly your onions crisp up. Take care not to burn onion rings.