Thanksgiving isn’t always about spending time with relatives.
During a holiday season packed with expectations and emotional landmines hidden in how the stuffing should be made, it can be nice to share a Thanksgiving dinner with a different kind of family.
The story you're reading is premium content from the Austin American-Statesman. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can now also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
For Subscribers: Sign in here if you have already registered your account.Sign In
For Subscribers: Register your account for digital access.Access Digital
Read MyStatesman.com now — 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyStatesman.com all week — 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to the Statesman for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
Hash brown Casserole
This is the favorite holiday potluck dish in the Morcher household. It’s a sinfully delicious cheesy potato casserole with a unique twist: cornflakes. The dish has more calories than you’d like to know, but you can trim back the amount of sour cream, shredded cheese or butter and still have a tasty dish. Just know it won’t be like what the Morchers make. Kat Morcher says that they’ll often double the recipe if the crowd is big.
1 (16 oz.) bag cubed frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup cream of chicken soup
1 (16 oz.) container regular sour cream
1 (12-oz.) bag of shredded Cheddar cheese
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
2 small cans of diced green chiles
2 cups cornflakes
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
Transfer to a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for one hour and 10 minutes.
Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle the cornflakes in a layer on top. Drizzle butter over cornflakes and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
— Recipe from Leona Wilkins, adapted by Kat and Matt Morcher
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
I love anything that Bess Giannakakis of Gateway Guesthouse makes, including her famous blue cheese and green onion scones. She runs cooking classes out of her and Blaise Bahara’s Riverside Drive bed and breakfast, including several holiday classes at which attendees actually cook their own Thanksgiving dinner. She loves to make this recipe for roasted garlic mashed potatoes, which call for a splash of Tabasco sauce. If you’re making them ahead of time, add a little extra liquid (I used buttermilk in the potatoes at our Friendsgiving) to make the potatoes looser than desired consistency, because they will dry out in the reheating process.
1 bulb of garlic, cloves broken apart, peeled and ends trimmed
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 lb. russet potatoes, cut in half (and peeled, if desired)
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup half and half
2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small, oven-proof pan, toss garlic cloves in olive oil. Place in oven and roast for about 10 minutes, until very soft. Let cool.
Add potatoes to a stockpot of water with salt and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes until soft, and then drain.
Return cooked potatoes to the pot, add roasted garlic, butter and half and half. Mash to desired consistency, and add more half and half as necessary. Add lemon juice and Tabasco sauce and salt to taste. Mix well and serve.
— From Bess Giannakakis of Gateway Guesthouse
Broccoli Rice Casserole
When I asked my neighbors to bring a favorite Thanksgiving dish, Mary Beth Simcik didn’t have to think very hard about what she’d contribute. This broccoli rice casserole makes an appearance on her Thanksgiving table just about every year. With canned cream soup, frozen broccoli and Cheez Whiz, it’s deliciously old school. You can substitute fresh broccoli for frozen and attempt to recreate the gooey cheesiness without processed ingredients, but best of luck to you.
1 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 (8 oz.) jar Cheez Whiz
1 can cream of celery, mushroom or chicken soup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups cooked rice (about 1 cup raw)
1 box frozen broccoli, prepared by package directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and celery until they start to soften, about five minutes.
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a greased 8-inch-by-8-inch casserole dish. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.
— Mary Beth Simcik
Tequila-Spiked Caramel Corn with Almonds
My neighbor Jessica Uramkin hit a home run with this snacky dessert at our Friendsgiving. This recipe, originally from Atlanta pastry chef Taria Camerino in Food & Wine, doesn’t taste as much like tequila as you’d think, and Uramkin made a smart move by swapping out the peanuts and replacing them with almonds and cashews. She skipped the agave nectar and corn syrup, but the brown sugar made the popcorn sweet enough. This popcorn keeps for a week.
16 cups air-popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds (or cashews)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 Tbsp. tequila
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss the popcorn with the roasted nuts in a large heatproof bowl.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter, agave nectar, corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue boiling for 4 minutes, and remove from heat. Using a long spoon, stir in the baking soda and tequila. (The syrup will foam.) Immediately pour the hot syrup over the popcorn and peanuts and, using two spoons, toss to coat thoroughly.
Spread the popcorn on two nonstick baking sheets and bake for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally and switching the sheets halfway through, until golden and nearly dry. Turn off the oven, open the oven door completely and let the popcorn cool completely before serving.
— Adapted by Jessica Uramkin from a recipe by Taria Camerino in Food & Wine