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Alternative Thanksgiving Recipes
Let's face it, the traditional Thanksgiving gobble-fest (forgive the pun) is not very friendly to those who detest turkey or are not surrounded by a sea of relatives. Moreover, if you're the one doing all the cooking, you will find that one day is barely enough time to get everything prepared and edible for your guests. Here are a few recipes that offer some new twists of the old favorites:
Turkey for One (Two, or Three)
Preparing only a turkey breast or two is ideal for those who still want turkey on Thanksgiving, but are not expecting a houseful of guests. Besides, by adding cranberries to the stuffing, you have one less dish to prepare and set out.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
1 (5-7 lb.) turkey breast, bone in, skin on
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 onion, chopped
4 cups oatmeal bread cubes, dried in the oven
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp. dried sage leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Melted butter for basting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse turkey breast and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
In large skillet, melt butter and cook celery and onion until tender. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except butter for roasting. Pour celery mixture over ingredients in bowl. Toss gently with two spoons to coat.
There are three ways to 'stuff' the breast. You can place some of the stuffing in between the two halves of the breast, and then use kitchen string to loosely tie the breast closed. Or you can just put about half of the stuffing in a foil-lined roasting pan and place the breast, skin-side-up, on top. Any leftover stuffing should be place in a casserole dish, drizzled with some melted butter, and refrigerated. It will bake the last half hour the turkey is roasting.
Whichever method you choose, coat the turkey with melted butter, and roast the turkey and stuffing at 350 degrees for 2 to 2-1/2 hours until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the meat reads 170 degrees F. Baste once or twice during roasting with pan drippings. Place leftover stuffing in the casserole, covered, in the oven for the last 30 minutes of roasting time. Cover turkey with foil when it comes out of the oven and let rest 10-20 minutes before carving. Serves 4-6
An Old, Turkey-Free, Tradition
The Native Americans called them "The Three Sisters:" Corn, squash, and beans. So, why not pay homage to the original inhabitants of this nation by serving a hearty stew comprised of these three crops, and served with corn bread and a leafy green salad?
Three Sisters Stew
1 large butternut squash
2 cups corn kernels
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 400*F. Cut the squash into half lengthwise and remove all seeds and fibers. Cover with foil and place halves, cut side up, into oven for 40 - 45 minutes. Remove from oven when soft enough to pierce with fork yet still firm and let cool. While cooling heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion and garlic until golden. Add the corn, beans, tomatoes, and vegetable stock to the pot and simmer. Scoop out the pulp of the squash and cube into bite sized pieces. Add cubes to the pot. Continue simmering, covered, for about 25-30 minutes. Stir in cilantro just before serving.
Yummy Pumpkin Thai
If you're bored with pumpkin pie, but still want some pumpkin dessert, why not try one which is lower in fat and calories? In the next recipe, a small pumpkin (or squash) is hollowed out and then filled with cook-friendly Thai custard. It is then baked in the oven for an hour, and served cold with a splash of maple syrup or brandy and a cup of strong tea or coffee.
1 small pumpkin or pumpkin-like squash, approx. 6-7 inches tall x 8-9 inches wide)
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups white sugar (or you can use brown sugar, which will make the custard a little darker and not so sweet)
A pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Maple syrup to serve
* Wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin or squash.
* Using a sharp knife, cut a "lid" in the top
* Remove the "lid" and slice off the seedy part, so that you're left with a clean lid or hat.
* Using an ice cream scoop (or large steel spoon), gut the pumpkin.
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Using a fork or whisk, beat the eggs by hand until fluffy (or use an automatic mixer set to low or medium) - about 1 minute.
* Add the coconut milk and vanilla. Beat again for 1 minute, or until well mixed.
* Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go, until all sugar is added and has dissolved in the egg mixture.
* Pour or ladle the egg mixture into the pumpkin. Don't overfill - leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top, since the egg mixture will rise a little out of the hole
* Set the pumpkin plus the "lid" together in a baking dish
* Pour about 1/2 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish (water level should rise about a 1/2 inch up the side of the pumpkin).
* Place dish in the oven to bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. After 1/2 an hour, check the water level, making sure the baking dish doesn't go dry. Tip: Always add hot water, as cool or cold water could make your baking dish shatter.
* When the pumpkin on the lid is cooked (soft), remove from oven. After 1 hour, you should see the custard rising like a bubble out of the pumpkin. If not, allow to bake 5-15 minutes longer. Custard is done when an inserted fork comes out clean. You can also poke the top of the pumpkin with a fork to make sure it is soft enough to eat.
* Leaving pumpkin in the baking dish, remove from oven and allow cooling for at least 30 minutes. Then place the pumpkin in the refrigerator until cold
* To serve, replace the "lid" or "hat" of the pumpkin, or set it slightly askew so you can see the custard. Using a sharp serrated knife cut the pumpkin into pieces and place the pieces on serving plates. Eat as is, or serve warm (heat up the slices in the oven or in your microwave). Pour a little maple syrup, plus a little brandy or your favorite liqueur (if desired) over each piece. Enjoy.
Now, simply pair the food with the right drink, eat, and be merry!