By Caroline Davis
Who says your Thanksgiving menu needs to adhere to strict taste bud traditions? Ditch your Great Grandmother’s sweet potato surprise recipe in favor of something with a dash of creativity this year. Here’s your step-by-step guide to a handful of semi-rebellious dinner recipes. Feeling extra ambitious? Add in a few new ingredients of your own! Bon Appétit!
1.Turkey – Apricot-Kahlua Glazed Turkey
2. Stuffing – Apple Sausage Stuffing
A heartier version of the typical bready stuffing. But this one’s bursting with the perfect complementary winter flavors of sweet Italian sausage and tart red apples. Cook a pound of sausage in a skillet until brown, then cut up four apples to add. Stir in a handful of other assorted dried fruit of your choice, two tablespoons of fresh sage, a pinch of nutmeg. Mix this into a dish of cut up parmesan garlic bread and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. You’ll have hard-to-please guests raving over this one for months.
3. Green Beans – Green Beans with Apple Cider
Every Thanksgiving meal has to have a hint of green in it. Often left untouched but nevertheless always present at the table. With this simple take on an old favorite, you’ll hear ‘more green beans please’ for the first time ever. Add olive oil, chopped onion, and apple cider to your green beans and cook until syrupy. Cider will give this veggie a welcome boost of flavor.
4. Mashed Potatoes – Blue Cheese-Walnut Mashed Potatoes
If you’re like me, you can never have enough cheese in your day-to-day recipes. Whip up your standard mashed ‘taters, but add an extra savory bit to the mix. Brown four tablespoons of butter with ½ cup of chopped walnuts. Add in two tablespoons of rosemary, two tablespoons of parsley, and a pinch of sugar and salt. Crumble copious amounts of blue cheese and drizzle browned butter mixture over top. Not a blue cheese fan? Substitute in another one of your favorites instead.
5. Sweet Potato Casserole – Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
Or as I like to call them, glorified gourmet Turkey Day fries. Store the casserole dish and toss a little excitement into your standard sweet potato recipe. Peel small sweet potatoes and cut into 8 wedges each. Mix in two tablespoons of olive oil, three tablespoons of brown sugar, a pinch of nutmeg, three teaspoons cumin and a hefty pinch of cinnamon. Place on a baking sheet for an hour at 400 degrees.
6. Cranberry Sauce – Cranberry Granita
Not going to lie, I do love a classic store-bought canned cranberry sauce. So much so, that I’ll serve it untouched in the same tacky canned shape on a plain white plate. But if you’re itching for a more impressive version try this iced cranberry granita. Serve as a pre-meal palate cleanser or a post-meal dessert. Stir up two cups of cranberry juice and 1/3 cup of sugar over heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely and then whisk in a ¼ cup of vodka (or more!) and a ¼ cup of lime juice. Freeze overnight.
7. Pecan Pie – Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies
Who doesn’t love bite-sized desserts? Nix the standard pumpkin pie for a fun mini-me pumpkin and pecan combo. These little pies are packed with taste (and cute to boot!) Pick up a premade pie shell at the grocery store. Cut into mini muffin tin size shapes and bake as directed. Then mix up one egg, one egg yolk, ½ cup dark corn syrup, tablespoon sugar, ½ cup canned pumpkin filling, ¼ cup pecans and a teaspoon of vanilla. Fill crusts with mixture, garnish with a pecan, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.