Get Out of the Thanksgiving Box

by Buck Reed

If Thanksgiving is a celebration or thanks for the bounty of the season, then why do we limit the foods we eat to the same thing every year? Why not add a dish or two to your table? A new dish might add a little pizzazz to your holiday and get you into the mood for a fabulous fall. Just don’t mess with the turkey or screw up the gravy.

Keep the traditional stuffing next to the turkey, but maybe think about adding another bread-based dish to your meal: bread pudding. It’s easy to add a bread pudding with pumpkin or maybe cranberries or apples to your dessert table, so take the plunge and give a savory bread pudding a try. Make a standard custard and pour it over some stale bread cubes laced with onions and filled with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or cooked and mashed winter squash. With a little imagination, you can put a grand spin to this idea.

Another dish that could make its way as a new tradition is roasted apples stuffed with sausage. Let’s face it, “anything” and sausage is welcome on my plate. Also, consider roasted Brussel sprouts or cauliflower to add a different flavor. For the beer lovers on your guest list, try a beer and bacon vinaigrette drizzled on your roasted vegetables.

Maybe a great corn dish could find its way to your home. Corn bread (yawn) is a good start, but spoon bread is another southern favorite, or perhaps a corn soufflé or pudding could be an elegant, yet easy, dish to prepare. Don’t overlook grits, as you can add to them almost anything to transform them into a fantastic side dish. Or take a lagniappe from our Cajun friends and try corn Maque Coux.

Maybe you want to finish your meal with a bang. Got an ice cream machine collecting dust? Break it out and try your hand at making a pumpkin or cranberry ice cream. Or make a cheese cake with a cranberry curd. If we are pushing cranberries away from being a mere side dish next to turkey, let’s try a cranberry pecan trifle or a parfait featuring this berry. A sweet potato cake with spiced whipped cream might even break you out of the cranberry funk I just put you in. Note to self: Cranberry Funk would be a great name for a band.

You don’t have to make an extraordinary effort to add another dish. Perhaps you can make something that can be set up a few days in advance, or better, put your slow cooker or grill to work for you. Ladies, what better way is there to get the man in your life involved than to have him fire up the grill? For especially large families that require more than one turkey, perhaps a grilled turkey could fit the bill.

With a little planning and some thinking outside the box, you can perhaps add a little spark to an otherwise dim holiday meal. Heck, forget outside the box, step out of it and kick it away. Or if you really want to be different, head to the local Chinese restaurant for some Peking turkey.

Need a recipe for any of these Thanksgiving ideas drop me an email at Otherwise have a great holiday.

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