Inviting sides and sweets enhance Thanksgiving feast


November brings us the most wonderful feast of the year. My Corn Pudding is a delicious side that is crunchy on top and creamy in the center. No oven space is required for Slow Cooker Greens, featuring dried cranberries and apples that mellow the earthy flavor of kale. For desserts that can be made up to two days in advance, try Pumpkin Caramel Bars, a great alternative to pumpkin pie, and Apple Candy Bar Creamy Dessert with Butterfingers, a more chocolatey take on a classic treat. Happy Thanksgiving!

Corn Pudding

1/4 cup butter

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1 large stalk celery, finely chopped

2 eggs

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 (8 1/2-ounce) package cornbread mix (I use Jiffy)

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can creamed corn, undrained

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can regular corn, drained

Heat oven to 325. Grease an 8×11-inch pan; set aside.

In a nonstick pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook for 7 minutes or until nearly tender. Remove from heat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, heavy whipping cream, milk and sugar until well-combined. Stir in celery and onion and cornbread mix. Stir in both cans of corn. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes; increase temperature to 350, and bake another 10 minutes or until edges start to look slightly golden.

Slow Cooker Greens

1 pound bag sliced kale (see note)

2 medium white or yellow onions, sliced

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely chopped via a food processor

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook for 4 hours on high setting, stirring every hour. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Note: I like to buy kale in the bag because it is cut and washed. If you can’t find it, wash two bunches of kale, remove leaves from stems, and slice. You can also substitute Swiss chard in this recipe.

Pumpkin Caramel Bars

1 (15.25-ounce) package butter (yellow) cake mix

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 large eggs, divided use

1 1/3 cups old-fashioned caramel dip (for dipping apples)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 cup pecans, chopped

Heat oven to 350.

Thoroughly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, butter and 1 egg. Stir until combined. Evenly pat mixture in prepared pan.

Spread caramel dip over cake mixture.

In another large bowl, beat cream cheese. Add pumpkin, and mix until well-blended. Next, beat in cinnamon, both sugars, 2 eggs and half-and-half. Beat until smooth.

Pour pumpkin mixture over caramel; sprinkle with pecans.

Bake for 48-53 minutes, until set. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Note: Can be made up to two days in advance. For best results, slice with a sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water.

Apple Candy Bar Creamy Dessert

1 (3.4-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding

2 cups whole milk

1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping

2 Granny Smith apples, finely chopped

6 fun-size Snickers bars (medium, not mini), finely chopped

4 fun-size Butterfingers, finely chopped

Whisk together pudding and milk. When it thickens, fold in whipped topping. Add apples and candy bars, and stir together until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Note: Can be made two days in advance.