Observer staff offer recipe recommendations

By Peyton Gigante

With Thanksgiving so close, it’s easy to stress about what you’re going to put on the holiday table.  

We at The Oxford Observer are all against stress, so we’ve put together some recipes for you. Some are family favorites and some are our favorites from All will make your family and friends wonder why you’ve never brought them to the feast before!

If you decide to make something this holiday season, send a picture to the Observer either on Facebook, or at our email, [email protected].

Our first recipe comes from the Observer’s editor, David Wells. He’s volunteered his famous (homemade) Sweet Potatoes Anna recipe.

“I have no idea who Anna is, or why someone named this dish after her. I first heard the recipe on a TV cooking show years ago and have done a little modifying. But it is a favorite at my house and I am required to make it for every holiday meal.

3 good sized sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into wafer thin rounds (use a mandolin, the slicer blade of a food processor or a good sharp knife).

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (you can used grated, but shredded is better — use fresh, not that pre-shredded or grated stuff in a bag or a can).

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper.

1 stick melted butter

In a round cake pan coated with cooking spray (you can do this in a square pan or a casserole as well), alternate layers of sliced sweet potatoes, onions and cheese (lightly sprinkle the onions and cheese because you want them to last for at least three layers). Stir the cayenne pepper into the melted butter and drizzle the mixture on top of each cheese layer (keep stirring the pepper into the butter so that each layer gets sufficient zing).

You should get 3-4 layers. Finish with cheese and the last of the butter/pepper.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for at least 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Uncover for the last 10-15 minutes to let the top crisp up a little.

You can either serve in squares (if you used a square pan), in wedges ( if you used a round pan ), or with a serving spoon (if in a casserole). If you used a round pan you can also turn it out onto a cake plate and cut into wedges.

The cayenne is a welcome alternative to the marshmallows, maple syrup or brown sugar that so many people mistakenly add to this already sweet vegetable.

You can add more or less cayenne, according to your taste and this is an easy recipe to double or even triple if you are feeding a big crowd. You can also leave out the onions if you have any alliumphobes coming to dinner.  

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Here’s my pick (Peyton Gigante), a delicious Spinach and Artichoke Bomb. This is usually a hit at parties, family dinners, and it’s great left over. Easy to make, it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and only 40 minutes to have ready for serving.

The recipe can yield eight people, and though it has a lot of ingredients, it’s definitely worth it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

10 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ c. finely chopped artichoke hearts

½ c. finely chopped spinach

1 ¼ c. shredded mozzarella

1 c. freshly grated Parmesan

1 Garlic clove, minced

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. butter, melted

1 tsp. parsley, minced

½ tsp. garlic powder

1 can crescent sheet dough

This first thing you’ll want to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a small cooking sheet with parchment paper. Next, in a large bowl, you’ll combine your cream cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, mozzarella, parmesan, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper (to taste, if you prefer), and stir them all up! Then, you’ll form into one large ball.

Your next step is to roll crescent dough out on the prepared baking sheet, and then place the ball in the center. Wrap the dough around the cheese ball, and seal the “seams” together. Then, flip over the ball so that the clean side with no seams is face up.

Lastly, combine melted butter with parsley and garlic powder, and brush all over the ball. Bake until golden (around 25 minutes), and then enjoy – trust me, you will!

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Josiah Collins offers up his pick from Best-Ever Candied Yams.”  

The recipe will serve  around eight hungry people. The prep time for this is 10 minutes, but you’ll need to give yourself some time to actually cook it – 1 hour and 55 minutes, to be exact.

Here’s what you’ll need:

½ c. dark brown sugar

½ c. orange juice

3 tbsp. butter, plus more for pan

1 cinnamon stick

2 tbsp. bourbon (optional)

Pinch nutmeg

Pinch kosher salt

5 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 lb.)

Grab your ingredients, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then butter a medium baking dish. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, you’ll combine sugar, orange juice, butter, a cinnamon stick, bourbon (if you’re using it), nutmeg, and salt. Stir to combine and then bring that to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until it’s thickened slightly (about 10 minutes). When reduced, remove and discard of your cinnamon stick.

Meanwhile, get ready to prep your potatoes! Your first step is to peel, and then slice in 1/2” rounds, then layer in prepared baking dish. Pour the thickened syrup over potatoes and cover dish with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour longer, basting with sauce every 15 minutes.

Though it’s a little bit of a time commitment, it will definitely be worth it. Make sure it’s cooled before serving, and enjoy!

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Writer Mallory Hackett is looking forward to making these Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, and you will too once you read these ingredients! Cheesy, warm, and gooey, this recipe is perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner or for a party with friends!

This serves eight to 10 people, takes about 25 minutes to prep, and an hour and 15 mins to cook.

Here’s what you’ll need:

6 slices bacon, chopped into 1” pieces

3 tbsp. butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 c. heavy cream

1 c. low-sodium chicken broth

2 lb. russet potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed clean

2 c. shredded cheddar

¼ c. finely chopped chives

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Time to get started! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy.

In another large skillet (or pan) over medium heat, melt butter, add garlic, and cook until fragrant (usually 1 minute). Stir in flour, cook for another minute. Whisk in cream, chicken broth, and salt and pepper, and simmer until thickened slightly (around 5 minutes). Then, remove from heat.

Peel your potatoes and thinly slice each potato crosswise into thin coins. (Delish recommends a mandolin, as it would work great with the recipes).

Then, spoon a thin layer of sauce into the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add a single layer of potatoes on top, then spoon more sauce over the potatoes and top with cheese and bacon. Repeat this 3 to 4 times, or until you fill your casserole dish.

Lastly, you’ll bake until the sauce is bubbly and the potatoes are tender, which will be about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving, and then serve for eating! Yum.

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Looking to mix up your mashed potato recipe? Look no further than writer Aaron’s Smith favorite recipe from Delish, that claims to be so perfect, “it’s stupid.”

Serving six to eight people, this dish only takes 25 minutes to prep, and really only 30 minutes until you can enjoy it!

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 lb. potatoes (about 4 large combos of russets and Yukon Golds)

Kosher salt

1 stick butter, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish

½ c. milk

½ c. sour cream

Freshly ground black pepper

First, in a large pot, cover potatoes with water and add a “generous” pinch of salt. Bring this to a boil and cook until completely soft, usually about 16 to 18 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot.

Mash the potatoes with a masher until smooth, and then in a small saucepan, melt butter and milk until warm.

Pour over warm milk-butter mixture and stir until completely combined and creamy. Add sour cream and then stir until it’s all combined.  Season the mashed potatoes generously with salt and pepper. Transfer those potatoes to a serving bowl, top with two tablespoons of butter and a little bit of pepper, and voila! You have your stupidly perfect potatoes.

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If you have an air fryer, and are wanting to utilize it this holiday season, then Massillon Myers’ pick will be perfect for you. These Air Fryer Chicken Wings will be the perfect appetizer while you’re stewing over your Thanksgiving dinner!

Serving around four, the prep time for this recipe is only 10 minutes, and the total time is 45 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 lb. chicken wings

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

1/4 c. hot sauce (such as Frank’s)

4 tbsp. melted butter

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Blue cheese dressing, for serving

You’ll first start by seasoning the wings with salt and pepper, coating the inside of the air fryer with non-stick cooking spray. Next, set the air fryer to 380 degrees and cook the wings for 12 minutes. Remove the air fryer tray, flip the wings and cook 12 minutes more. Lastly, increase the heat to 400 degrees, and cook five more minutes.

While this is cooking, combine hot sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder in a large bowl and whisk. Add the cooked wings and toss gently to coat. Serve hot with blue cheese dressing or ranch for dipping!

* * *

We’ve been pretty carb-heavy so far, so let’s green it up a little with a classic for Thanksgiving: Classic Green Bean Casserole, recommended by writer Marla Chavez.

Serving six, this recipe has a prep time of 10 minutes, and takes just under an hour to finish.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 lb. green beans, trimmed

6 tbsp. butter, divided

1 onion, sliced into half moons

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. flour

3 c. whole milk

1 1/2 c. French’s fried onions

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an ice bath: In a large boiling pot of water, add green beans and cook until bright green, for about six minutes. With a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer your green beans quickly to the ice bath and cool. Then, drain and transfer to a large bowl.

In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter. Add your onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add mushrooms with salt and pepper, and cook until golden, stirring often for about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant for about one minute, then transfer to mixing bowl.

Next, in the same skillet, melt the remaining four tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook until golden for about two minutes. Whisk gradually, adding in milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened for about four minutes. Remove from heat, add the green bean mixture, and toss until it’s even.

Finally, bake until warmed through and bubbling for about 30 minutes. When finished, top with fried onions and bake for five more minutes! Then boom: you have your showstopping green bean casserole!

* * *

Are you looking for a soup addition to come back to throughout Thanksgiving Day? This Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, recommended by writer Abby Jeffrey will be perfect!

Serving four, this takes only a cumulative 40 minutes to finish, with a prep time of just 15.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (seeds removed)

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. butter

1 onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, chopped

1 tbsp. fresh thyme, plus more for garnish

1 qt. low-sodium chicken broth

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Next, on a large baking sheet, toss the butternut squash and potatoes with two tablespoons of olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, for 25 minutes.

While that cooks, start with a large pot over medium heat, melting butter and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and cook until softened for seven to 10 minutes. Season generously with salt, pepper, and thyme!

Then, add your roasted squash and potatoes and pour over the chicken broth. Simmer for 10 minutes, then using an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. Then, serve garnished with thyme! You have your perfect soup to join in your watching of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

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And lastly, to sip on while you make dinner or at a party with friends, writer Lauren Shassere picked these Frozen Cranberry Margaritas, that combine this very vacation-esque drink with the holidays, and it’s easy to serve!

Serving four, the prep for this fun drink takes no time. Five minutes max!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Lime wedges, for garnish and rimming glasses

1/4 c. plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar plus more for dipping cranberries

1 tsp.  kosher salt

3/4 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, divided

1 c.  cranberry juice

1/3 c. tequila

1/4 c. fresh lime juice

1/4 c. triple sec

4 c. ice

4 rosemary sprigs

In a small, shallow dish, combine sugar and salt. Next, you’ll rim four glasses with lime and dip those in the sugar-salt mixture!

Then, wet 16 whole cranberries in water and dip into sugar. Skewer on toothpicks, and set those aside to get started on your next step.

Combine the remaining cranberries, cranberry juice, tequila, lime juice, triple sec, the remaining ¼ cup sugar, and ice in a blender, and blend until smooth!

And lastly, pour your mixture into glasses and garnish with lime wedges, rosemary sprigs, and skewered cranberries! Now you have your perfect holiday drink that’ll be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, or watching football on Saturday!

Now, if you are arranging all these sides and suddenly remember that you forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer, we suggest you check out Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line, where you can link up to talk or text with experts about your Thanksgiving worries.