Thanksgiving Meal Planning: Never Too Early to Start

Thanksgiving_turkey

It’s not just about the turkey… and, no it’s not too early.

Thanksgiving, like all holiday dinners, has its defining dishes. On Thursday, Nov. 26, American families will be consuming turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and, inevitably, something involving cranberries. There’s nothing wrong with tradition. Even if the meal seems incomplete without Great-Aunt-Grandma-Marge’s cranberry jello mold, it is easy to insert a few new side dishes to keep the meal feeling fresh. Whether you are an experienced cook or a novice in the kitchen, you can confidently volunteer make one of the items below. Impress your family, impress your friends and add another reason to be thankful.

FYI — there aren’t a lot of measurements with these because the portions are quite easy to increase or decrease to suit your needs and taste buds. Measurements are given when the ratios need to be specific.

Simplest Green Beans

You can make a handful of beans to serve one person or a couple of pounds to serve a large group.

Ingredients:
Green Beans
Red Onion
Course Salt (kosher or sea salt)
Directions:
Wash & Dry Beans
Snap off tips

Directions:
Place in pot of boiling water for just a few minutes so that they’re cooked, but still crisp.

Drain, run under cold water and drain again.

Toss with salt and some sliced red onion to taste.

This dish can be served at room temperature.

Cinnamon Maple Butter
(goes great with toasted pumpkin bread or corn muffins – both can be made from store bought mixes or see pumpkin bread recipe below)

Ingredients:

Butter
Maple Syrup (the real kind, Trader Joe’s sells it at a reasonable price)
Ground cinnamon

Directions:

Let the butter come to room temperature (1/2 – 1 whole stick depending on how many people you are planning to serve)

Place in butter in a bowl and add cinnamon and maple syrup to taste For every ½ stick of butter, I use a generous ½ teaspoon of cinnamon (I love cinnamon) and a little less than 1 TBSP of syrup so it’s not too sweet. Use your judgment and add or subtract amounts to suit your taste

Mush all ingredients with a fork to combine

Place in a nice, small serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Mima Davi’s Sure–Fire Pumpkin Bread (makes 3 loaves)

Ingredients:
3 C sugar
4 eggs
2/3 C water
1 C vegetable oil
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3 1/2 C flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda

Optional in any combination 1 cup of: raisins, chopped walnuts or chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease or spray loaf pans or line muffin tins

Beat sugar and eggs well. Add cinnamon, water, flour, nutmeg and oil. Beat well. Add pumpkin and baking soda. Beat well. Stir in nuts, raisins and chocolate if using. Pour batter into pans. Bake approximately 1 hour (less if making muffins). Test with a toothpick or skewer, it should come out clean when it’s done. Let the bread sit for 15 minutes before removing from pans.

Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:

1 bag fresh cranberries, washed and dried
Sugar
Orange Juice
1 orange, washed and dried
Food processor

Directions:

Zest the orange, cut away the white pith and break up the orange segments

Combine zest, the orange segments and cranberries and process until finely chopped.

Add sugar and orange juice, about 1/4 cup of each to start

Process again on pulse just until everything is combined and taste.

Add more sugar and juice to sweeten and balance the flavor as needed.

The above should get your Thanksgiving plans percolating; check back later this month for Turkey tips, holiday odds and ends, and, of course, cocktails.

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