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Side dishes, traditions are what make Thanksgiving dinner the best

November 23, 2017 GMT

Just thinking about Thanksgiving can make a stomach growl.

The obvious main dish is turkey with dressing, but it’s the side dishes and traditions that make Thanksgiving a special feast.

My family has many favorite dishes like the green bean casserole, buttered noodles or mac and cheese. But the one dish I look forward to devouring the most is my mom’s sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and brown sugar on top.

It’s my favorite dish we’ve had at every Thanksgiving.

Each year, my mom asks me what do I want to eat days before — she called me twice over the weekend to ask what I want, and sweet potato casserole came up a couple times.

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I think it’s a perfect sweetness that complements everything else on the table.

Every feast among family and friends has it own highlights. Here are some more favorites from the Daily Citizen newsroom:

Aaron Holbrook, assistant regional editor

My mother makes dinner rolls that are so delicious, we argue over who gets to take the extras home.

It is a yeast dough recipe that requires precise conditions for success. When she makes them, she turns up the heat in the house, makes sure the humidity is right and spends a day preparing, proofing and baking.

The result is a slightly sweet and buttery roll that is light brown on the outside, soft inside but sturdy enough to butter and/or dip in gravy. I have eaten them plain or two days later smothered in mayo with leftover turkey tucked inside one. She could make a hundred and we would still eat half and fight over the leftovers.

Kelly Simon, reporter

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because the focus is on family, food and reflecting on what you are grateful for in your life.

Of course, I love the seemingly endless feast, but my favorite part of the holiday is after the meal when we clear the table and get out the cards and board games. Sheepshead, rummy, spoons, Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary and more bring the generations together. The day is topped off with lots of football on TV and the traditional viewing of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” Nothing beats wholesome family fun and a roomful of laughter.

Except for pie. Don’t forget the pie, preferably apple.

Ken Thomas,

senior reporter

My aunt is one of those people who cannot have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I am not one of them, even though I like everything else that’s pumpkin-flavored to the point of needing to see a mental health professional.

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Forget the pie and go for the good stuff.

Every other product — excluding pumpkin tea — is my special favorite. I look forward to my nephew’s pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin scones, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin nut muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake and anything else with the much-loved (also much-reviled) seasonal flavoring.

Recipes that I long to try in the “Pumpkin Cookbook: Pancakes, pies, pastas and more!” include caramel pumpkin flan, baked pumpkin custard tarts, baked ziti with pumpkin and sausage, easy pumpkin pasta bake, primo pumpkin brownies, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin crème brulee, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin peanut soup … . Come to think of it, I’d love to try everything in the book.

There’s more to pumpkin than just pie.

Dan Larson, assistant regional sports editor

Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Cranberry sauce.

Those are the staples, and there’s only one sure way to make sure not a drop of it gets wasted: with brown ’n serve rolls.

They’re not sexy, but it seems Thanksgiving is the only time when brown ’n serve rolls are popular on store shelves and dining room tables.

I like one with some butter and then one or two or more at the end of the meal, to make sure that my plate is nice and clean.

And then a little eggnog to wash it all down. It is the official start of the Christmas season, after all.