#happylife: Crowd-pleasing sides for Thanksgiving dinner

Local chef Charlie Martin wants to make sure your family’s bellies are full this thanksgiving.

Martin is a teacher at Spokane Community College’s Inland Northwest Culinary Academy After Dark. He was kind enough to share a few dishes that will entertain the entire family on Thanksgiving.

Old School Summer Squash Casserole


— 3 oz. olive oil blend

— 1 medium-size yellow onion, sliced julienne (about 1 1/2 cups)

— 3 cloves garlic, minced — 3 pounds yellow and or zucchini squash, sliced half-moons, 1/4-inch-thick

— 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

— 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

— 1 ½ cups sour cream

— 6 ounces sharp Cheddar-Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)

— 2 teaspoons dried thyme

— ½ teaspoon nutmeg

— ½ teaspoon black pepper or cayenne

— ½ stick (2 oz.) unsalted butter

— 1 sleeve round buttery crackers (such as Ritz), coarsely crushed

— 1-ounce Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion, and saute until translucent and then add the garlic.

Now add the squash and saute until just tender, and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a colander to discard any liquid if necessary.

Stir together eggs, sour cream, Cheddar-Jack cheeses, thyme, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Gently fold in squash mixture.

Spoon into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch (2-quart) baking dish.

Microwave or melt the butter. Toss together crackers, parmesan cheese, and melted butter until combined; sprinkle over casserole.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Sweet Corn Spoonbread


— 1 (14.5 oz.) can cream style corn

— 4 cups frozen corn kernels

— 1 cup sour cream

— ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

— 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

— 1 cup self-rising white cornmeal mix (or one package Corn Muffin Mix)


reheat oven to 375°.

Beat the eggs until frothy in a large bowl. Add the sour cream and blend well. Stir in the creamed corn and corn niblets and add to the egg and sour cream mixture.

Add the corn muffin mix, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Divide mixture among 12 (6-oz.) buttered ramekins or bake in a buttered or non-stick spray coated casserole or an 8″ x 8″ square pan.

Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and set. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Mushroom Dressing


6 cups (about 1-11/2 lb.) pounds assorted fresh mushrooms, quartered

— 1 stick of butter (or 6 T. olive oil)

— 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)

— 4 large cloves garlic, minced — 1 cup chopped celery

— 1 Granny Smith Apple, diced (1 large)

— ½ cup cream sherry (you may substitute sweet white wine (Riesling) or apple juice

— ¼ cup of fresh sage leaves chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage)

— 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme chopped (1 teaspoon dried thyme)

— 1 teaspoon salt

— 30 grinds of fresh ground black pepper

— 10 cups bread stuffing cubes (1 package: look for a mix without chicken flavor for vegetarians) — 3 cups water or vegetable broth

— Chopped parsley or herbs for garnish


Butter one 9×13 inch casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Rinse, pat dry and quarter mushrooms. In large skillet heat butter and add the onion and garlic. Saute until translucent. Then add the celery and apples, saute until apples start to caramelize. Then add the mushrooms. Saute 5 minutes and add the sherry, wine or juice. Reduce the liquid until the alcohol is burned off.

Now add the water or vegetarian broth. Stir in poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Simmer until the mushrooms and apples are cooked.

In large mixing bowl, combine the sauteed vegetables and fruit with the bread cubes. If dry, add some more room temperature water or broth.

Mix well. Turn into casserole dish.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 25-30 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes longer to brown top.

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