Celebrating New Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Feast

Ever wonder how all those food magazines continue to come up with new recipes for Thanksgiving each year? Do you ever find yourself searching for new ideas when the holiday rolls around?

Most years, I spend an entire day in the kitchen, preparing a feast that could feed and army. When I was still single, I used to serve my guests wine all day while I cooked – a great strategy which resulted in many wonderful compliments for the chef at dinner time. Whether single or married, however, it takes me the rest of the weekend to recover from my culinary efforts. Not to mention, I don’t even want to open the refrigerator door and look at leftovers by Saturday.

Last year, I decided to simplify the menu and add small twists to the usual butter-and-cream-and-sugar-laden Thanksgiving feast (thanks to Cuisine at Home). It included turkey basted with butter and wine (with nothing stuffed on the inside and it tasted absolutely no different), mashed potatoes with brown butter, sweet potatoes with a cranberry/orange sauce, sautéed Swiss chard with butternut squash and apples. Plus some cornbread and a home-made apple. Though the meal required some planning, given we travelled out of town for the holiday, it only took me a 2-3 hours to prepare. Everything was well-received except the Swiss chard; nonetheless, I was able to use the lovely chard as a centerpiece on our kitchen island and as a tactical maneuver to get my way the rest of the weekend (“Luke, if you don’t eat your PB&J, you have to eat the leftover plate of Swiss chard.”). I have since found a recipe that everyone enjoys, thanks to blogger, Dani Spies.

So I’ve begun my usual holiday search, and found a few interesting sites/recipes worth your consideration. Though I try to keep the meal as simple and healthy as possible, there are a few dishes which require a deep caloric splurge.

Most of the aforementioned recipes from last year’s Cuisine at Home can be found in this blog post from Columbus Foodie.

Food For My Family just posted an eBook of virtual Thanksgiving posts, including a mustard encrusted turkey that sounds delicious!

I found all sorts of stuff I might make in this blog post with 59 ideas that are cheap, healthy and good. I’m thinking seriously about the applesauce and roasted Brussel sprouts.

A  Couple Cooks offers an alternative to the usual plate of mash potatoes in this recipe for Harvest Wild Rice Salad.

Since it is the 55 year celebration of this dish, I thought I’d include a recipe for green bean casserole with a makeover. I don’t usually make this one myself, but I know lots of folks who do.

This sweet potato casserole from how2heroes may send your sugar level soaring, but it sure sounds good!

And my favorite dessert that’s super easy to make – bread pudding. Though there are many great recipes for bread pudding, my favorite is still the one from Heart & Soul Cookbook. After all, Southerners know how to make mouth watering desserts.

What’s your favorite holiday recipe? I’d love to add these to the mix!

Bread Pudding

¼ cup butter or margarine (I usually cut this back to a tablespoon or two)

½ of a 1 pound loaf of unsliced French bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)

4 cups of milk (though you can substitute 2% for whole, I wouldn’t use skim)

4 beaten eggs

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Place butter or margarine in large, oblong baking dish. Place dish in oven until butter melts.

Add bread to melted butter in the baking dish. Pour milk over bread. In a medium bowl, stir together beaten eggs, sugar and vanilla. Pour egg mixture over bread-milk mixture in baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with winter sauce.

Note: I often add blueberries to the mixture and reduce the amount of sugar I add.

Winter Sauce

¼ cup sugar

½ cup butter

½ cup bourbon

In a 1 quart saucepan, combine sugar, butter and bourbon. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Serve warm over bread pudding.

Melinda Hinson