30 November 2009

what part of side dish don't you understand?

Every year at Thanksgiving, and just about every holiday, now that I think about it, I go through the same dilemma. Do I make the foods I love and have been eating for that holiday every year for as long as I can remember? Or do I try something new, and start a new traditional food? I think this is a fairly universal dilemma, and I'm working on finding a happy medium. Sticking with the foods that I really love and need to eat for that holiday to actually feel like the holiday, and adding in something new each year and seeing if it sticks.

I always find it interesting which foods seem essential to different people. In my case, the food I absolutely, one hundred percent need to eat on Thanksgiving is a Cranberry Apple Casserole. For my brother, it's Cranberry Mini Muffins. In fact, he actually made them for the Thanksgiving meal he attended last week. He. Made. Muffins. Seriously, he is not a baker, and not all that much of a cook either. I mean, he can make some pasta, and I've been told he's gotten quite skilled with his grill and that freezer full of steaks he got for his birthday. But baking? Well, those mini muffins are pretty damn important to him for him to actually try baking. I really wish I could have had a couple with him last week. But just knowing that he made them, well, that's good enough for me now.

But back to that Cranberry Apple Casserole...Just by looking at it, most people would think it's a crisp, not a casserole. But, I swear, the recipe calls it a casserole. And you know what? I'm sticking with that. When I was growing up, we always ate this dish as part of the meal, not dessert.

Nowadays, every time I show this recipe to anyone else, or bring the dish to a Thanksgiving meal, the host insists on putting it with the desserts. And I insist, despite the crazy looks, that it's actually a side dish, not a dessert. And you know what? It's always gone by the time everyone's gone back for seconds. Call me crazy, but I don't think it's weird to eat a crisp--I mean casserole--alongside mashed potatoes and roasted green beans. And seriously? If you think I'm nuts, you put marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes and don't claim that to be a dessert. So there.

In any event, this is damn good. And ridiculously easy to make. So, Thanksgiving or not, it's worth making. And don't you dare serve it as a dessert.

Cranberry Apple Casserole

3 cups chopped, unpeeled apples
2 cups fresh whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish. In this dish, combine apples and cranberries. Pour the white sugar over the fruit. In a separate bowl, combine oats, nuts, brown sugar, and butter/margarine. Spread topping over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes. Enjoy. With your meal.


  1. Personally, I see nothing wrong with eating desert during the meal. Hell, I'm perfectly okay if you wan't to eat your desert before anything else. But seriously, Julia. Let's call a spade a spade. Something with a cup of sugar isn't a side dish. But then, I don't put marshmallows on my sweet potatoes either.

  2. I would say that if it goes on the side of the plate it's a side dish.
    I also have a deep spiritual need for cranberry sauce, which I call a side dish but we all know it's really just jam.

  3. oh honey, that's a crisp.

    that said, hannah and i have been eating twin pandowdies for breakfast three mornings running.

  4. That just looks so damn good.

    My must have Thanksgiving dish is cranberry sauce.

    As far as dessert during dinner, my family had our pumpkin pie for breakfast the next day. Does that count??? :)